In a pre-dawn airstrike on Tuesday, according to Indian account, 12 Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets intruded into Pakistan’s airspace and dropped their payload on the top of a mountain at a terrorist training camp, allegedly belonging to a jihadist group that had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in the Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14 in which more than 40 Indian soldiers had lost their lives.

Although Pakistan military’s official spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, tweeted after the Indian incursion that the Indian jets had intruded 3-4 miles in Muzaffarabad sector of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, according to location provided by local residents, the site of the airstrike was deep inside the Pakistani territory between Balakot and Mansehra in northwestern Pakistan. Thankfully no loss of lives has been reported as the bombs fell in the open and created four large craters.

In response, Pakistan’s air force struck six targets inside Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday. Indian air force chased Pakistani aircrafts inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir where two Indian MiG-21 aircrafts were shot down by Pakistan’s air force and two Indian pilots were arrested, one them was injured who has been hospitalized.

India has admitted that one MiG-21 has crashed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and its pilot is missing in action. India has also claimed that its air force has shot down a Pakistani F-16, though Pakistan has denied the claim and the report could not be independently verified.

Although the proximate causes of the latest flare-up between India and Pakistan are evidently Indian elections due to take place in May and the Pulwama terrorist attack which was claimed by the Pakistan-based jihadist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, though carried out by a Kashmir resident Adil Dar, in order to understand the underlying causes of friction, we need to take a look at the changing geopolitical dynamics in the region.

On January 26, Reuters reported [1] that Taliban officials said the US negotiators had agreed on a draft peace pact setting out the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan within 18 months, potentially ending the United States longest war.

Image result for Zalmay Khalilzad

Confirming the news, New York Times reported [2] on January 28 the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad (image on the right) stated the American and Taliban officials had agreed in principle to the framework of a peace deal in which the insurgents guaranteed to prevent Afghan territory from being used by terrorists, and that could lead to a complete pullout of American troops in return for a ceasefire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.

Moreover, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on January 26:

“The US is serious about pursuing peace, preventing Afghanistan from continuing to be a space for international terrorism and bringing forces home,” though he declined to provide a timeframe for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

Image result for Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

The news of drawdown of American forces is expected after the second round of peace talks is concluded, which is currently being held in the capital of Qatar, Doha, in which Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (image on the left), a close aide to the Taliban’s deceased leader Mullah Omar, is leading the Taliban delegation in the negotiations with the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad.

Baradar was released from captivity [3] in October by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and was allowed to join his family in Afghanistan. He was captured in a joint US-Pakistan intelligence-based operation in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010. His release was a longstanding demand of the US-backed Kabul government because he is regarded as a comparatively moderate Taliban leader who could play a positive role in the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Alongside the issues of Taliban providing guarantees it would not allow Afghan soil to be used by transnational terrorists, al-Qaeda and Islamic State Khorasan, the Taliban holding direct negotiations with the US-backed Afghan government – which the Taliban regards as an American stooge and hence refuse to recognize – a permanent ceasefire and the formation of a mutually acceptable interim government, a few other minor issues, such as the exchange and release of prisoners, removing travel restrictions on the Taliban leadership and unfreezing its bank accounts are also on the agenda of the peace talks.

Regarding the presence of transnational terrorist networks on the Afghan soil, the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has already been killed in a May 2011 raid of the US Navy Seals in the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan and its second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri is on the run. Besides, the number of al-Qaeda’s Arab militants in the Af-Pak region does not exceed more than a few hundred and are hence inconsequential.

Although both Reuters and New York Times reports hailed the news of the pullout of American forces from Afghanistan a diplomatic victory for Washington since the Taliban had agreed to a ceasefire and holding talks with the US-backed government of Afghanistan, in fact the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Afghan soil would be a stellar victory for the Taliban and one of the most humiliating defeats for Washington since the Fall of Saigon in 1975, because besides destroying a country of thirty-million people, Washington has failed to achieve any of its objective, including the much-touted imperialist project of “nation-building,” during its seventeen years of occupation of Afghanistan.

In fact, according to a recent report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US-backed Afghan government only controls 55% of Afghanistan’s territory. It’s worth noting, however, that SIGAR is a US-based governmental agency that often inflates figures.

Factually, the government’s writ does not extend beyond a third of Afghanistan. In many cases, the Afghan government controls district-centers of provinces and outlying rural areas are either controlled by the Taliban or are contested.

If we take a cursory look at the insurgency in Afghanistan, the Bush administration toppled the Taliban regime with the help of the Northern Alliance in October 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack. Since the beginning, however, Afghanistan was an area of lesser priority for the Bush administration.

The number of US troops stationed in Afghanistan did not exceed beyond 30,000 during George Bush’s tenure as president, and soon after occupying Afghanistan, Washington invaded Iraq in March 2003 and American resources and focus shifted to Iraq.

It was the Obama administration that made the Afghanistan conflict the bedrock of its foreign policy in 2009 along with fulfilling then-President Obama’s electoral pledge of withdrawing American forces from Iraq in December 2011. At the height of the surge of the US troops in Afghanistan in 2010, the American troops numbered around 140,000 but they still could not manage to have a lasting effect on the relentless Taliban insurgency.

The Taliban are known to be diehard fighters who are adept at hit-and-run guerrilla tactics and have a much better understanding of the Afghan territory compared to foreigners. Even by their standards, however, the Taliban insurgency seems to be on steroids during the last couple of years.

The Taliban have managed to overrun and hold vast swathes of territory not only in the traditional Pashtun heartland of southern Afghanistan, such as Helmand, but have also made significant inroads into the northern provinces of Afghanistan which are the traditional strongholds of the Northern Alliance comprising the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic groups.

In October 2016, for instance, the Taliban mounted brazen attacks on the Gormach district of northwestern Faryab province, the Tirankot district of Uruzgan province and briefly captured [4] the district-center of the northern Kunduz province, before they were repelled with the help of US air power.

The main reason of the surge in Taliban attacks during the last couple of years appears to be the drawdown of American troops which now number only 14,000, and are likely to be significantly scaled back after the conclusion of the second round of peace talks, currently being held in Doha, Qatar.

Finally and in conclusion, the Pashtun Taliban is known to be the proxy of Pakistan’s military whereas India has traditionally supported the Northern Alliance, comprising the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic groups. After the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack, India was hopeful that Washington would pressure Pakistan to withdraw its support from jihadist group, including the Kashmir-focused militant groups which are a thorn in India’s side.

India even mobilized its troops along Pakistan’s borders in 2002 in order to pressure Pakistan to toe Washington’s “war on terror” policy in Afghanistan, and it has invested significant Indian resources during the last seventeen years of the US occupation of Afghanistan. But it is now becoming obvious that not only Washington is permanently abandoning the region, but the rest of the global powers, such as Russia and China, are also getting cozy to Pakistan’s proxy, the Taliban.

As soon as American troops withdraw from the region, Pakistan’s military would once again get a free hand not only to nurture militancy in Afghanistan but also in Kashmir. Thus, the Indian air force conducted an aerial incursion in the Pakistani airspace on Tuesday in sheer frustration, apparently sending a message that even if Washington abandons the region, India can guard its own strategic interests, though the audacious show of force has evidently backfired.

*

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] Foreign troops to quit Afghanistan in 18 months:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-draft/foreign-troops-to-quit-afghanistan-in-18-months-under-draft-deal-taliban-officials-idUSKCN1PK0DG

[2] US and Taliban Agree in Principle to Peace Framework:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/world/asia/taliban-peace-deal-afghanistan.html

[3] Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Baradar released by Pakistan:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/afghan-taliban-founder-mullah-baradar-released-pakistan-181025093128441.html

[4] Concerted Taliban onslaughts on Kunduz, Faryab, Uruzgan, Farah and Helmand:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/afghanistan-taliban-captures-ghormach-district-161011141613477.html

We are bringing to the attention of our readers the testimony of former Trump staff Michael D. Cohen.

Cohen’s statements are backed up by documents made available to the House Committee on Oversight. The testimony includes reference to fraudulent transactions, coverup of Trump’s business interests in Russia, the payment of hush money

Apart from Trump’s business interests with Russia which are of a  financial nature, Cohen does not provide evidence that Trump’s election campaign was supported by the Kremlin.

Upon the release of the BuzzFeed News report in mid-January, the US media has gone into high gear focussing on the possibility of impeachment on the grounds that President Trump had instructed “Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about his business dealings in Russia” (Vox, Jan 18, 2019)

The general reaction among House Democrats was that this was a very serious allegation — and that they wanted to hold hearings and investigate to see if the story was true. And some are already on the record as saying that if it is true, impeachment would be the appropriate response.

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted late Thursday that if the story is true, “President Trump must resign or be impeached.”

The testimony points to Trump’s fraudulent behavior, racism and adultery. But these are issues which are already known and documented.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, February 27, 2019

***

Highlights (bold) by Global Research

TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL D. COHEN

COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

FEBRUARY 27, 2019

Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.

I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.

I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee’s questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.

I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.

Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a 2 campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.

I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.

I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.
Editors’ Picks

 

I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.

He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat.

He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

I will explain each in a few moments.

I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:

• A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;

• Copies of financial statements for 2011 – 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;

• A copy of an article with Mr. Trump’s handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself – he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and

• Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.

I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

 

Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.

The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.

I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.

Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell 5 me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.

There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project.

You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.

To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.

And so I lied about it, too – because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it 6 clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.

Over the past two years, I have been smeared as “a rat” by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.

My name is Michael Dean Cohen. I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, “you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe.” To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect you.

I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion – qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm’s way to do what they knew was right.

That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad…I am sorry that I let you down.

Michael D. Cohen provided documents to Congress that he said would support his testimony about the 2016 campaign and Mr. Trump’s business practices.

As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3AM if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children’s friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.

Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.

For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.

It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.

For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.

Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.

I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself — that you were somehow changing the world.

I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.

Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.

Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”

He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.

I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.

I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.

But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.

A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.

As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”

He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.

While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.

And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.

And yet I continued to work for him.

Mr. Trump is a cheat.

As previously stated, I’m giving the Committee today three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.

It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.

As I noted, I’m giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.

Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.

And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.

And yet, I continued to work for him.

Mr. Trump is a conman.

He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.

I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford’s attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.

Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.

I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.

Michael D. Cohen provided documents to Congress that he said would support his testimony about the 2016 campaign and Mr. Trump’s business practices.

As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank 14 account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.

The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

So picture this scene – in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I’m visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It’s truly awe-inspiring, he’s showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of…Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were FedExed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.

When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.

As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.

The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared “Let him show his records” after calling President Obama “a terrible student.”

The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.

When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.

Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.

He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.

And yet, I continued to work for him.

Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.”

What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.

I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day — and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good…let me know.”

Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.

To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.

To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.

For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your “fixer,” Mr. Trump.

I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family. My testimony certainly does not diminish the pain I caused my family and friends – nothing can do that. And I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.

And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a “rat” for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.

As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family – only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.

I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family – and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.

I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.

I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life.

But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.

Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee’s questions.

Source: US Congress Transcripts, published in the NYT

 

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Does Pakistan Have the Capability to Eradicate Terrorism?

February 27th, 2019 by Nauman Sadiq

After losing tens of thousands of lives to terror attacks during the last decade, an across-the-board consensus has developed among Pakistan’s mainstream political forces that the policy of nurturing militants against regional adversaries has backfired on Pakistan and it risks facing international isolation due to belligerent policies of Pakistan’s security establishment.

Not only Washington, but Pakistan’s “all-weather ally” China, which plans to invest $62 billion in Pakistan via its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, has also made its reservations public regarding Pakistan’s continued support to jihadist groups.

Thus, excluding a handful of far-right Islamist political parties that are funded by the Gulf’s petro-dollars and historically garner less than 10% votes of Pakistan’s electorate, all the civilian political forces are in favor of turning a new leaf in Pakistan’s checkered political history by endorsing the policy of an indiscriminate crackdown on militant outfits operating in Pakistan. But Pakistan’s security establishment jealously guards its traditional domain, the security and foreign policy of Pakistan, and still maintains a distinction between the so-called “good and bad Taliban.”

Regarding Pakistan’s duplicitous stance on terrorism, it’s worth noting that there are three distinct categories of militants operating in Pakistan: the Afghanistan-focused Pashtun militants; the Kashmir-focused Punjabi militants; and foreign transnational terrorists, including the Arab militants of al-Qaeda, the Uzbek insurgents of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Chinese Uighur jihadists of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Compared to tens of thousands of native Pashtun and Punjabi militants, the foreign transnational terrorists number only in a few hundred and are hence inconsequential.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is mainly comprised of Pashtun militants, carries out bombings against Pakistan’s state apparatus. The ethnic factor is critical here. Although the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) like to couch their rhetoric in religious terms, but it is the difference of ethnicity and language that enables them to recruit Pashtun tribesmen who are willing to carry out subversive activities against the Punjabi-dominated state apparatus, while the Kashmir-focused Punjabi militants have by and large remained loyal to their patrons in the security agencies of Pakistan.

Although Pakistan’s security establishment has been willing to conduct military operations against the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), which are regarded as a security threat to Pakistan’s state apparatus, as far as the Kashmir-focused Punjabi militants, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Afghanistan-focused Quetta Shura Taliban, including the Haqqani network, are concerned, they are still enjoying impunity because such militant groups are regarded as “strategic assets” by Pakistan’s security agencies.

Regarding the question does Pakistan have the capability to eliminate terrorism from its soil, Pakistan is evidently a police state whose civic and political life is completely dominated by military and affiliated security agencies. In order to bring home the military’s absolute control over Pakistan’s politics, an eye-opening incident that occurred last November is worth noting.

On the evening of November 2, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq was found dead in his Rawalpindi residence. The assassination was as gruesome as the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a month earlier on October 2. He was stabbed multiple times in chest, stomach and forehead.

Sami-ul-Haq was widely known as the “Godfather of the Taliban” because he was a renowned religious cleric who used to administer a sprawling religious seminary, Darul Uloom Haqqania, in Akora Khattak in northwestern Pakistan.

During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, the seminary was used for training and arming the Afghan jihadists, though it is now used exclusively for imparting religious education. Many of the well-known Taliban militant commanders received their education in the seminary.

In order to understand the motive of the assassination, we need to keep the backdrop in mind. On October 31, Pakistan’s apex court acquitted a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy and had been languishing in prison since 2010. Pakistan’s religious political parties were holding street protests against her acquittal for several days before Sami-ul-Haq’s murder and had paralyzed the whole country.

But as soon as the news of Sami-ul-Haq’s murder broke and the pictures of the badly mutilated corpse were released to the media, the religious political parties promptly reached an agreement with the government and called off the protests within few hours of the assassination.

Evidently, it was a shot across the bow by Pakistan’s security establishment to the religious right that evokes a scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s epic movie The Godfather, in which an expensive racehorse’s severed head was placed into a Hollywood director’s bed on Don Corleone’s orders that frightened the director out of his wits and he agreed to give a lead role in a movie to the Don’s protégé.

The entire leadership of the religious political parties that spearheaded the campaign against the release of Asia Bibi and hundreds of their political workers have been put behind the bars on the charge of “disturbing the public order” since the assassination.

In the manner thousands of religious protesters who had been demonstrating against her acquittal were treated by the security agencies brings to the fore the fact that Pakistan’s military wields absolute control over its jihadist proxies. Thus, cracking down on terrorist outfits operating in Pakistan, particularly on Kashmir-focused Punjabi militant groups, is not a question of capacity but of will.

What further lends credence to the conclusion that Pakistan’s security establishment was behind the murder of Sami-ul-Haq is the fact that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a close associate of the Taliban’s founder Mullah Omar, was released by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in October and was allowed to join his family in Afghanistan.

Baradar was captured in a joint US-Pakistan intelligence-based operation in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010. His release was a longstanding demand of the US-backed Kabul government because he is regarded as a comparatively moderate Taliban leader who could play a role in the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. He is currently leading the Taliban delegation in the negotiations with the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

Furthermore, Washington has been arm-twisting Islamabad through the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to do more to curtail the activities of militants operating from its soil to destabilize the US-backed government in Afghanistan and to pressure the Taliban to initiate a peace process with the government. Under such circumstances, a religious cleric like Sami-ul-Haq, who was widely known as the “Godfather of the Taliban,” becomes a liability rather than an asset.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Maulana Sami-ul-Haq (Source: Samaa TV)


waronterrorism.jpgby Michel Chossudovsky
ISBN Number: 9780973714715
List Price: $24.95
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In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

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

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Democratic Assault by ‘Alternative Facts’

February 27th, 2019 by True Publica

It is, unfortunately, a matter of fact that less than half of UK adults say the news media is doing a good job at getting facts right, the worst rate for trustworthiness in western Europe. It is also a sad fact that the British press is not just the most politically unbalanced, it is regarded as the most right-wing and biased in Europe as well.

It is these two facts, untrustworthiness and bias by the mainstream media that has allowed Britain to shift from a fairly consistent idea of the political realities of their country, communities and people they interact with – to one dominated by propaganda and disinformation. This seismic shift has taken less than a decade to take a real grip on Britain’s political discourse and is now driving not just public opinion but political policy.

Hannah Arendt, widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century wrote, –

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.’ So to defend our democracy we need to analyse the assault on our shared reality by those who would seek to create a world of ‘alternative facts.”

And ‘alternative facts’ is something you already know something about because the media space is full of it. In reality, it is proving to be little more than an intervention on democracy by those with a hidden agenda.

As MEP Molly Scott Cato says on the The Brexit Syndicate

Any attempt to criticise the purveyors of disinformation – or to assert a right to limit the use of propaganda within a democratic system – is met with accusations of oppression and claims that creating a legal structure within which a genuinely free media might flourish are attempts to deprive the propagandists of their freedom. But, as Winston Smith observes in 1984 by George Orwell, ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four’ and not to enable those who would claim that it equals five. I examined some of these issues in a report about the Leveson Inquiry, concluding that our media system is anything but free.”

By the nature of politics, the right-wing will always have more money, resources and power than the left-wing. One is fundamentally capitalist and the other socialist – albeit that rather binary description has many caveats.

This is evidenced by the ‘alt-right’ being considerably louder, (certainly in Britain) than its opposing movement – and has managed to permeate the mainstream media to such an extent that entirely false claims like the £350 million Britain would save by not being a member state of the EU would go on health spending. The message there was clear, Britain was made poorer by membership and could therefore not afford to look after its own. Rich and powerful people who promoted this idea knew then that this claim was entirely false. The evidence provided by the OBR was clear. It was fake news – but millions were taken in by it.

No matter what your political allegiances are, this next fact is at best very disturbing. Academics at the London School of Economics analysed the content of eight national newspapers between 1 September and 1 November 2015, when Mr Corbyn was first elected. That information was then published in The Independent, the only paper to have done so.

“The media researchers found that in 52 per cent of articles about the Labour leader, his own views were not included – while in a further 22 per cent they were “present but taken out of context” or otherwise distorted.”

The results were in fact even worse when looked at from a different angle.

In just 15 per cent of 812 articles analysed, Mr Corbyn’s views were present but challenged, and in only 11 per cent were they present without alteration. Think about that – only 11 per cent of reports about the comments and thoughts of the opposition leader in Britain was unaltered.

Dr Bart Cammaerts, the project director concluded –

Allowing an important and legitimate political actor, ie the leader of the main opposition party, to develop their own narrative and have a voice in the public space is paramount in a democracy.”

Other good examples of politically pinpointed deceit in the mainstream media are demonstrated no better than false newspaper reports from the right-wing press that have included claims that Jeremy Corbyn’s ancestor was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse (Daily Express), that he rides a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle (The Times) and that he will appoint a special minister for Jews (the Sun). Whilst just personal smears – all these claims are designed to blur what is fact and what is not.

We are now seeing this false narrative at the very forefront of British politics. The breakaway faction of mainly the Labour party, the Independent Group, justifies its action by saying anti-semitism has become so endemic in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, that they had no choice but to quit.  And yet, an in-depth report by none other than the Commons Home Affairs Committee, found there was “no reliable, empirical evidence” that Labour had any more of an anti-semitism problem than any other British political party, the Tories included. Two ways to look at that is that either there is no anti-semitism issue in the first place or that the Tories are just as bad. Either way, the accusations are unfounded and therefore false.

A big part of the problem is that this era of ‘alternative facts’ and fake news have ultimately been advanced and then accelerated by social media. Their own false narrative is that due to free speech rights they should not be responsible for the content their platforms share, irrespective of the damage they do. The reality is they simply do not want to spend the money to moderate the content on their own product properly.

For example, In 2018, General Motors employed 180,000 people producing cars. It made $147 billion in revenue. Facebook’s revenue last year was $56 billion – and it employs 35,000 people globally. Facebook spends half that of GM (per $billion) on people to do the job. Facebook’s workforce tasked with reviewing the most offensive content on the web is underpaid, overworked, and poorly supported – GM can’t afford for their workforce to fail otherwise the people who buy their product could get hurt. Many, many people are mentally and physically hurt by social media. The comparison may not be great – but you get the point.

The result of the failure of social media platforms is that the ‘alternative facts’, the fake news, was then followed up with very public animosity and hostility, which has now become the common normality of our political discourse.

The truth is, that in this environment the level of false information impairs society’s ability to absorb facts so real evidence-based knowledge declines – and the reality of a genuine and public democratic debate literally dissolves without us noticing.

It is common knowledge that the Daily Mail is perhaps the most untrusted newspaper in Britain. It is a point of fact that it also happens to be the most right-wing. It should be disturbing to know that the Daily Mail’s website is now the largest English-speaking newspaper website in the world and has been since about 2011. But somehow it isn’t. In 2017, Wikipedia editors even banned the Daily Mail as a source for its website after deeming it “generally unreliable”. And yet, it’s powerful influence over the political narrative in Britain is equally valid as a claim.

And as Molly Scott Cato says –

The structures of propaganda, making use of the classic techniques of the Big Lie and of constant repetition of a false narrative as honed by authoritarians in the last century, are flourishing on the hard right.”

Like the beginnings of road rage in the early 1990s, Britain then soared to worst incidents by numbers by 2000 in Europe, moving to last year where over 60 per cent of drivers in a survey reported a verbal or physical attack in the last 12 months – the political narrative is now getting out of control and causing real harm.

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The $32 Trillion Push to Disrupt the Entire Oil Industry

February 27th, 2019 by Dr. Cyril Widdershoven

Global oil and gas companies are increasingly facing an uphill battle as global warming policies are taking their toll. Most analysts and market watchers are focusing on peak oil demand scenarios, but the reality could be much darker. International oil companies (IOCs) are likely to face a Black Swan scenario, which could end up being a boon for state-owned oil companies (NOCs).

Increased shareholder activism, combined with global warming policies of institutional investors and NGOs, are pushing IOCs in a corner, constricting financing options for oil companies.

The first signs of a green revolution in the shareholder-investors universe are there, as investors have forced Dutch oil and gas major Shell to officially change its strategy, investing in more renewable energy and energy storage. The Dutch IOC wasn’t forced by to do so because of mismanagement or a lack of reserves but due to a well-orchestrated investor/stakeholder offensive. Several other peers, such as BP, ENI or Total, are expected to experience comparable situations.

And it has become clear that not only oil and gas giants are being targeted, after one of the world’s largest mining and commodity trading companies, Glencore, decided to put a limit on its thermal coal investment. The group stated that this was done after it was confronted by a largely unknown shareholder network called Climate Action 100+, which claims to be backed by more than 300 investors, managing assets of around $32 trillion. The group was founded a little over a year ago but has already forced oil majors’ boardrooms to take radical decisions.

The above shows that international hydrocarbon and mining sectors are facing a new obstacle, being confronted by large groups of socially and environmentally engaged shareholders, which are no longer looking at commercial value only. A combination of activist institutional investors, international pension funds and NGOs, is a new force to be dealt with. Stock-exchanged listed companies will need to address the will of their shareholders, especially with regards to climate change policies or decarbonization of the economy. After decades of having focused on creating maximum shareholder returns, things have changed dramatically, but maybe not for the better.

For Climate Action 100+, which includes investors such as Calpers, Allianz SE, and HSBC Global Asset Management, making profitable investments remains a top priority, but they will no longer look accept a passive stance towards climate change. Without complying with the demands of NGOs and socially engaged investors, access to new capital for new oil and gas upstream projects will be reduced. Some even expect that the role of Western IOCs could decline in the next couple of years, due to political shareholder engagement policies. To force IOCs, such as Shell or BP, to comply with policies that would halve their “net carbon footprint” by 2050 could result in a death-wish for these companies in the long-run.

The demise of IOCs, as we know them right now, could come sooner than many may expect. This will, of course, come at a cost for energy-hungry regions or consumers. With a net demand growth for oil and gas in the coming years, the world will need all hands on deck to support upstream investments to bring the hard-needed oil and gas reserves and volumes to the market. With less financing options for IOCs, and also oilfield services, the already existing investment gap in upstream investment worldwide will only grow wider. In contrast to what some media sources are suggesting, oil and gas demand will not diminish, on the contrary, oil and gas prices will rise due to a lack of supply.

That this picture is not a future nightmare scenario but is already the reality, is shown by the fact that a growing amount of smaller oil and gas companies have become insolvent. The latter is partly caused by “global warming constraints” and lower oil prices in general. The first casualties are falling in Europe, mainly the UK, where 16 companies went bankrupt in 2018, in comparison to zero in 2012. British accountancy firm Moore Stephenson stated that lower prices were the main cause. At the same time, increased costs (North Sea decommissioning) and lower oil price expectations are doing the rest. If the international financial markets are going to take over the doomsday scenarios presented by pressure groups and NGOs, independent oil and gas companies are going to be hit extremely hard. No investor is willing to invest in a sector or company that looks to hit rock-bottom in the next decade. Stranded reserves reports, as presented by the Bank of England and others, are not helping at all to change perceptions.

Western consumers and politicians, however, should not already start to cheer a green revolution and the end of the oil era. The future is different and could be even less positive than currently is assessed. Financial pressure on IOCs is opening up a Pandora’s Box. By removing market-oriented oil and gas giants from global markets, the only way to gain access to oil and gas will be the national oil companies (NOCs). Not only are they the real owners of the overwhelming majority of hydrocarbon reserves in the world, but NOCs are also not constrained by shareholder activism or NGO pressure.

The main driver for NOCs is to support the sustainable economic growth of their home country or government. In stark contrast to IOCs, which are fully focused on shareholder value and profits, NOCs have a long-term national approach, in which other factors are playing a role. Saudi Aramco and its peers are not only the sole owner of the reserves but also of most of the value chain. The ongoing downstream focus of NOCs can be seen as a push to gain control of the entire value chain, from exploration to sales.

This position is still of value to institutional investors and national financial institutions, as the combination of long-term access, ownership and extensive value chain control, is very attractive. The Fitch AA+ rating of Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC shows that NOCs have become very attractive, even more than IOCs at present.

Mainstream investors, hedge- and pension funds, are and will be interested in financing NOCs, as long as demand and profits are there. Western consumers and the industry should however also realize that a transformation of power to NOCs will also mean that market fundamentals will change, and possible unexpected hiccups in supply will occur at the will of governments, not due to market fundamentals. NOCs are still controlled and owned by national governments.

Supply risks will increase if IOCs see their influence in the hydrocarbon sector diminish. Destruction of knowledge, technical capabilities and additional financing, could constrain the hard-needed push for new oil and gas production.

Political and environmental pressure groups should realize that pushing too hard for change could produce a boomerang effect of unwanted-order. To force IOCs to change their investment strategies, and abandon highly profitable upstream projects, while investing in renewables, could be more destabilizing than anticipated. Between 2014 and 2018, upstream oil and gas investments have been hit hard, leaving a $1 trillion investment gap. This development will impact the market within the next 24 months. Lower oil supply will push up prices if demand continues to grow.

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Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle East and energy sectors in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Featured image is by B. Rich/Hedgeye via OilPrice.com

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The United States has a track record of asking nations to prove a negative when it comes to compliance with arms control agreements, and then holding them to account when they fail to do so. The deficit of integrity over U.S. claims against Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction and Iran and its nuclear program speaks volumes about how corrupt America’s policymaking apparatus has become. Now the United States is making the same mistake again by pulling out of the INF Treaty, which it claims Russia violated.

“A high degree of confidence is required before the United States will publicly charge another party with violation of an international agreement.”

Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Thomas Graham, Jr. delivered those remarks during testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 1994. At that time, the ACDA served as the lead agency regarding arms control compliance. The intelligence community supported the ACDA’s mission of making firm compliance judgments by providing the necessary intelligence information and analysis.

ACDA was supported in this effort by the CIA’s Arms Control Intelligence Staff, or ACIS. ACIS provided intelligence support tailored for the specific compliance monitoring and verification requirements stemming from arms control agreements such as the INF Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START). It brought a different skill set and mindset than the work being done by the CIA’s Nonproliferation Center, or NPC, whose targets were less structured and far more nebulous and nuanced. It was one thing to assess that nation A was exporting technology capable of supporting nuclear enrichment to nation B; it was far different to determine that Russia had destroyed its silos to the depths mandated by a treaty.

For the former, there was far more latitude in interpreting data used to make assessments. The latter required a level of specificity that was unforgiving and often difficult to achieve.

There was a synergy between ACDA and ACIS that extended throughout the intelligence cycle. ACDA would task ACIS with information and analysis. On more technical issues, ACDA would work directly with more specialized organizations within the intelligence community. ACDA, as the lead arms control agency, was responsible for negotiating arms control agreements that, according to Thomas Graham, “have a level of verifiability that is sufficient to provide an acceptable level of confidence regarding other parties’ compliance.”

As such, ACDA had to be fully appraised about the capabilities and limitations of U.S. intelligence assets so they could appropriately task them with fulfilling specific compliance verification requirements, as well as understanding the limitations of that intelligence. The synergy that existed between ACDA and ACIS allowed for the building of a robust treaty monitoring capability comprised of technical collection systems that were responsive to the specific tasking requirements of policymakers.

But in 1999, the Clinton administration disbanded ACDA, merging its specific arms control functions into a bureau reporting to the under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. This consolidation resulted in the dilution of the relationship between policymakers and the intelligence community. That relationship was further reduced when, in 2001, the intelligence community undertook a similar consolidation, melding ACIS with NPC to create the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center, or WINPAC. One of WINPAC’s first “accomplishments” was the Iraq WMD fiasco. That was followed in short order by an unimpressive performance on Iran, marked by the use of forged documents, flawed human sources derived from compromised opposition groups, and erroneous analysis—in short, Iraq without the war.

The mindset for tracking WMD proliferation is, by its very nature, different from that of verifying arms control agreements. The first permits actions based on suspicion, while the second mandates a high degree of certainty. Blending these distinct approaches into a singular bureaucratic structure invited intelligence failure, where uncorroborated suspicions were translated into de facto violations in a manner that had been virtually impossible under the former ACDA-ACIS relationship. This consolidation, more than anything else, represents the genesis of the current INF Treaty imbroglio.

Sometime in 2007 or 2008, intelligence analysts began observing activity indicating that the Russians were developing a new ground-launched ballistic missile. The specific intelligence tip-offs remain classified, but based on what little has been reported, it appeared to include aerial imagery of the Kapustin Yar missile test facility, telemetry collected from various test launches of missiles, and all-source monitoring of Russian weapons acquisition processes. These are the established intelligence tools of the trade—and, as the Iraq and Iran examples have shown, they are susceptible to misinterpretation.

According to the current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, the intelligence community “assesses Russia has flight-tested, produced, and deployed cruise missiles with a range capability prohibited by the Treaty.” Coats named the system in question as the 9M729. He noted that the Novator design bureau was the responsible agency, and that the 9M729 missile closely resembled other cruise missiles Novator was developing at the time.

According to Coats,

“Russia conducted the flight test program in a way that appeared purposefully designed to disguise the true nature of their testing activity as well as the capability of the 9M729 missile.”

Coats makes careful use of estimative language, in particular the terms “assesses” and “appeared,” which clearly indicate that the American allegations are not absolute, but rather a matter of analytical supposition. This conclusion is furthered by Coats’ concluding statement: “Russia probably assumed parallel development—tested from the same site—and deployment of other cruise missiles that are not prohibited by the INF Treaty would provide sufficient cover for its INF violation.”

What is clear from Coats’ statement is that Novator was conducting simultaneous tests of multiple similar systems. Open source information confirms that during the timeframe in question, it was working on upgrading the guidance and control systems of the 3M14 “Kaliber” sea-launched cruise missile—which has a range of well over 2,500 miles, but as a sea-launched system is not covered by the INF Treaty—as well as the 9M729, a ground-launched missile. As such, it is plausible that Russia tested the new guidance and flight control system on the 3M14 missile, and then tested the same system on the 9M729 (guidance systems are not covered by the INF Treaty).

It appears that the 9M729 missile that is being deployed by Russia is likely notcapable of ranges that violate the INF Treaty. The Russians have provided a static display of the weapon that showed the propulsion system of the 9M729 to be identical to that of the 9M728 missile, which operates at ranges below the threshold set by the INF. In fact, the larger warhead and increased size of the guidance and flight control systems on the 9M729 result in its range being less than the 9M728. Russia has indicated that it is willing to go further—perhaps removing the missile from its sealed launch canister for a more technical evaluation by U.S. specialists—to reinforce the 9M729’s compliance.

The U.S. has refused to participate in such an exercise. Andrea Thompson, the current under secretary for arms control and international security, met with her Russian counterparts in January 2019 prior to the final decision being made to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

“I was there to listen,” Thompson noted, “but my objective and the message was clear from the administration that Russia must return to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty.”

According to Thompson, the only acceptable solution was “the verifiable destruction of Russia’s noncompliant missile system.”

Thompson’s Russian opposite, Sergei Rybokovresponded by noting,

“Clearly, the United States was no longer interested in obtaining our substantive response to their questions. This once again showed us that our efforts at transparency have no impact on the decisions taken by the United States, and that they have taken all their decisions a long time ago and are only waiting for Russia to plead guilty.”

“A high degree of confidence is required before the United States will publicly charge another party with violation of an international agreement.” The words of Thomas Graham hang heavy in the air today. There is nothing about America’s case against Russia that meets that standard. Instead, the U.S. seems intent on following in the same path as previous intelligence failures in Iraq and Iran. This time, however, the consequences will resonate beyond regional chaos. By killing the INF Treaty based on flawed intelligence, the U.S. risks global annihilation.

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Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Dealbreaker: Donald Trump and the Unmaking of the Iran Nuclear Deal (2018) by Clarity Press.

Featured image is from Russian President Vladimir Putin By Harold Escalona/shutterstock And President Trump By Drop of Light/Shutterstock

As Washington and Caracas blame each other for torching a truck carrying what the US called vital ‘humanitarian supplies’ from Colombia to Venezuela, a video has emerged, finally shedding some light on the incident.

The truck caught fire and burned down during a failed attempt on Saturday by US-backed opposition activists to breach the closed Colombia-Venezuela border crossing at the Francisco de Paula Santander Bridge, near the Venezuelan city of Urena. The Venezuelan government refuses to let the American cargo in, calling these ‘humanitarian’ convoys a propaganda stunt and a precursor to a military invasion.

Photos of the incident were immediately used by US officials to double down on their outrage and calls for regime change in Caracas. But footage that has surfaced on social media tells a strikingly different story, pinning the blame on ‘activists’ in the crowd.

One clip appears to have caught the moment a man on the Colombian side of the border pelted a Molotov cocktail at the truck, while another video from the scene showed the opposition activists openly preparing the incendiary devices. Border security guards can be seen patiently holding their line at a distance, casting further doubts on claims that the truck was seized and torched after it had crossed into Venezuela.

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Featured image: Opposition supporters unload humanitarian aid from a truck that was set on fire at the border line between Colombia and Venezuela on February 23, 2019. © Reuters / Marco Bello

In parliament, Alan Duncan for the government has just rejected yesterday’s stunning result at the International Court of Justice, where British occupation of the Chagos Islands was found unlawful by a majority of 13 to 1, with all the judges from EU countries amongst those finding against the UK.

This represents a serious escalation in the UK’s rejection of multilateralism and international law and a move towards joining the US model of exceptionalism, standing outside the rule of international law. As such, it is arguably the most significant foreign policy development for generations. In the Iraq war, while Britain launched war without UN Security Council authority, it did so on a tenuous argument that it had Security Council authority from earlier resolutions. The UK was therefore not outright rejecting the international system. On Chagos it is now simply denying the authority of the International Court of Justice; this is utterly unprecedented.

Duncan put forward two arguments. Firstly that the ICJ opinion was “only” advisory to the General Assembly. Secondly, he argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction as the case was a bilateral dispute with Mauritius (and thus could only go before the ICJ with UK consent, which is not given).

But here Duncan is – against all British precedent and past policy – defying a ruling of the ICJ. The British government argued strenuously in the present case against ICJ jurisdiction, on just the grounds Duncan cited. The ICJ considered the UK’s arguments, together with arguments from 32 other states and from the African Union. The ICJ ruled that it did have jurisdiction, because this was not a bilateral dispute but part of the UN ordained process of decolonisation.

The International Court of Justice’s ruling on this point is given at length in paras 83 to 91 of its Opinion. This is perhaps the key section:

88. The Court therefore concludes that the opinion has been requested on the matter of decolonization which is of particular concern to the United Nations. The issues raised by the request are located in the broader frame of reference of decolonization, including the General Assembly’s role therein, from which those issues are inseparable (Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1975, p. 26, para. 38; Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), p. 159, para. 50).

89. Moreover, the Court observes that there may be differences of views on legal questions in advisory proceedings (Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1971, p. 24, para. 34). However, the fact that the Court may have to pronounce on legal issues on which divergent views have been expressed by Mauritius and the United Kingdom does not mean that, by replying to the request, the Court is dealing with a bilateral dispute.

90. In these circumstances, the Court does not consider that to give the opinion requested would have the effect of circumventing the principle of consent by a State to the judicial settlement of its dispute with another State. The Court therefore cannot, in the exercise of its discretion, decline to give the opinion on that ground.

91. In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that there are no compelling reasons for it to decline to give the opinion requested by the General Assembly.

As stated at para 183, that the court did have jurisdiction was agreed unanimously, with even the US judge (the sole dissenter on the main question) in accord. For the British government to reject the ICJ’s unanimous ruling on jurisdiction, and quote that in parliament as the reason for not following the ICJ Opinion, is an astonishing abrogation of international law by the UK. It really is unprecedented. The repudiation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over Julian Assange pointed the direction the UK is drifting, but that body does not have the prestige of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice represents the absolute pinnacle of, and embodies the principle of, international law. In 176 decisions, such as Nigeria vs Cameroon or Malaysia vs Indonesia, potentially disastrous conflicts have been averted by the states’ agreement to abide by the rule of law. The UK’s current attack on the ICJ is a truly disastrous new development.

I have taken it for granted that you know that the reason the UK refuses to decolonise the Chagos Islands is to provide an airbase for the US military on Diego Garcia. If Brexit goes ahead, the Chagos Islands will also lead to a major foreign policy disagreement between the UK and US on one side, and the EU on the other. The EU will be truly shocked by British repudiation of the ICJ.

I have studied the entire and lengthy ICJ Opinion on the Chagos Islands, together with its associated papers, and I will write further on this shortly.

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Featured image is from Georgia Today

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen – who will soon head to prison after pleading guilty to eight criminal charges – will testify to Congress on Wednesday that President Trump is a “con man” and a cheat,” according to a copy of his opening statement given to the New York Times.

Cohen will say that while Trump was “intoxicating” to be around, and “When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself — that you were somehow changing the  world,” that the president is actually a ‘racist, conman and a cheat.’

Cohen will claim among the following (via the Times):

  • Trump knew that Roger Stone was “talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails” (something easily confirmed by the Ecuadorian Embassy, which keeps extensive records on Assange’s communications).

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone,” his written remarks say. “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”

  • Trump “implicitly” instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow timeline – using winks and nods instead of direct language.

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Mr. Cohen plans to say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

  • Cohen was instructed to “threaten his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.

When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.

  • Cohen will say that Trump never said “anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.

When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back.

  • Cohen will claim Trump is a racist who said that black people are “too stupid” to support him.
  • Cohen will say Trump lied about bone spurs to get out of servicing in vietnam. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam,” Cohen claims Trump said.

Collusion?

Cohen says that he has no evidence of collusion with Russia surrounding the 2016 US election – but he has his “suspicions.”

Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.” What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.

Read the rest of the statement here.

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Featured image is from Zero Hedge

India is portraying its first aerial violation of the Line of Control (LoC) in nearly half a century as another “surgical strike” against Pakistan that followed in the footsteps of the operation that it claimed to have pulled off without evidence in 2016, but in the absence of any proof to once again back up its assertion and considering that Pakistan already presented contradictory photographic evidence proving that the so-called “attack” only destroyed a couple of trees, it’s clear that this was just another big Bollywood spectacle for infowar purposes.

Facts First

India dramatically claimed to have pulled off another “surgical strike” against Pakistan in the early hours of 26 February, declaring that 200-300 members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were killed in retaliation for the group’s involvement in the Pulwama attack. The country’s media is wildly celebrating what their government portrayed as a massive victory over Pakistan after the Indian Air Force violated the Line of Control (LoC) for the first time since the 1971 war with their neighbor and didn’t instantly trigger a larger conflict. The message being conveyed to their citizens is that India can “surgically strike” Pakistan at will without repercussions, but the actual facts of the matter state something altogether different and show that this is nothing more than a big Bollywood spectacle for infowar purposes.

Here are the facts as they objectively exist at the time of writing:

  1. The Pulwama attack was the worst Indian military loss in a generation;
  2. India reactively blamed the Pakistani state for involvement in the attack without presenting evidence;
  3. The Indian Air Force violated the LoC for the first time since 1971;
  4. Pakistan proved that only a few trees were destroyed and no infrastructure damaged or people killed;
  5. Islamabad says that the Indian jets shed their payload in fright to jettison extra weight as they fled;
  6. New Delhi denies that its jets were chased out of Pakistani airspace by its neighbors’;
  7. India presented no evidence to back up its claims that it killed 200-300 JeM fighters;
  8. and Pakistan vowed to respond to this border violation at a “time and place of its choosing”.

Modi’s Motivations

Accepting the publicly verifiable veracity of the abovementioned facts, it’s possible to piece together the motivations that Indian Prime Minister Modi had for ordering this stunt. The first and most obvious one that comes to mind is that it was a re-election ploy to ensure his victory ahead of this May’s polls, seeing as how it temporarily appeased his party’s chest-thumping ultra-jingoist base that’s been braying for blood even prior to the Pulwama attack. He’s able to present this as an “unprecedented foreign policy success” against his countrymen’s hated neighbor and show that he’s “tough on terror”. Correspondingly, he can continue to contrast his two “surgical strikes” with the lack of a “kinetic response” to the 2008 Mumbai attack that the Congress opposition blamed on Pakistan when it was in power at the time.

In parallel with this, Modi also wants to shape international perceptions about his country and Pakistan. Per the first-mentioned, he wants it to appear like a “rising military superpower” capable of carrying out “surgical strikes” against another nuclear-armed state without triggering World War III, something that neither the US nor Russia have ever claimed to do against one another even during the height of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Pertaining to Pakistan, Modi wants to paint the country as a “state sponsor of terrorism” that’s “militarily weak” and perennially on the edge of “sliding into instability” because it “can’t control its own borders”. These weaponized narratives are supposed to deter states and private citizens alike from investing in the globally game-changing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India opposes on the basis of its maximalist claims to the Kashmir Conflict.

Strategic Context

All of this is occurring in a specific strategic context. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warned earlier this week against India being used by the US to “contain” China through what he said is the “artificially imposed” concept of the “Indo-Pacific Region”. Seeing as how CPEC is the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project, the latter of which is the engine of the emerging Multipolar World Order, it makes sense why India and its American ally are jointly waging a Hybrid War on CPEC through interconnected terrorist and infowar aggression, especially in the strategically located Pakistani province of Balochistan where the megaproject’s terminal port of Gwadar is based. About that aspect of this unconventional conflict, India recently succeeded in manipulating Iran into blaming Pakistan for the spillover effect of this campaign and even getting Tehran to imply the threat of its own cross-border strike last week.

Bearing this backdrop in mind, India’s latest claim to have carried out its second “surgical strike” against Pakistan in less than three years correlates perfectly with its desire to destabilize its neighbor and the CPEC project that it hosts on behalf of its new American patron in the larger context of the US’ New Cold War competition against China. Neither “surgical strike” accomplished anything of military significance because both were intended from the get-go to be infowar provocations that would negatively shape international perceptions about Pakistan and scare off foreign investment in CPEC, which could have in turn indirectly led to setbacks for China’s grand strategy if they were successful. The latest one, however, saw India dangerously violating the LoC for the first time in almost half a century, which it may have partially done in an attempt to inspire Iran to do something similar.

Debunking The Bollywood Bluster

Three simple points debunk the Bollywood bluster behind India’s false claims of “victory”:

  1. The absence of any evidence implicating Pakistani state institutions for involvement in the Pulwama attack means that India’s “surgical strike” claim is technically an aggressive violation of international law, which is counterproductive for its desired soft power gains.
  2. The absence of any evidence proving that 200-300 JeM members were killed means that India’s “surgical strike” claim is a lie and intended to cover up its military failure of being too fearful to attack Pakistan while inside of its territory, which is counterproductive for its desired military reputation.
  3. In view of the aforementioned and the fact that Pakistan is unfazed by this “surgical strike” claim and wasn’t destabilized by it in the least, India’s stunt actually bolstered its rival’s international standing and counterproductively proved why the global pivot state is more than suitable for foreign investment.

Concluding Thoughts

Far from being the “devastating blow” against Pakistan that many in both the Mainstream and Alternative Medias are presenting it as, India’s latest claims of a “surgical strike” backfired against it after the absence of any evidence confirming the attack or even the supposed “justification” for it (i.e. that Pakistani state institutions were involved in the Pulwama attack) exposed this stunt as being nothing more than a big Bollywood spectacle for infowar purposes. This entire operation failed with every one of its intended objectives because the easily obtainable truth actually harms India’s soft power and military reputation instead of Pakistan’s, Iran wisely didn’t emulate India’s example, and CPEC has yet to be destabilized by New Delhi’s hand at its American ally’s behest. Like all Bollywood productions, “the show must go on”, but the “surgical strike” series won’t have a happy ending for India.

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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.

Globalist Kingpin Calls for Invasion of Venezuela

February 27th, 2019 by Kurt Nimmo

On February 22, the boss of the Council On Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass, cited the so-called Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine in response to the situation in Venezuela. 

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R2P was engineered by the United Nations to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Of course, this policy is selectively enforced.

For instance, while the UN has pointed to Israel as a serial violator of R2P, no action has been taken to curb its ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, certainly not sanctions or an invasion of Israel. 

“If ever there was a group in need of protection from war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing it is the Palestinians,” writes Stephen Gowans for Global Research. “And yet the Palestinians receive little outside help, relying on themselves, for the most part, for whatever little protection they can provide. Realpolitick prevents them from falling within the ambit of the responsibility to protect doctrine, the idea that ‘the international community,’ that is, Western governments led by the United States, should intervene in other countries to prevent genocide, mass killings and massive human rights abuses. Responsibility to protect (R2P) has given rise to campaigns for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, but not Gaza or the West Bank.”

Moreover, this highly selective double standard does not apply to the United States and its so-called war on terror against manufactured enemies. 

“The most extreme expressions of this cognitive dissonance occurred during the Obama administration, when the notion of U.S. exceptionalism was used to justify continuing the barbarism of the Bush administration’s so-called War on Terror,” explains Ajamu Baraka, the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace. “With this justification and the outrageous assertion that it was defending democracy, the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination committed crimes against humanity and war crimes that resulted in the deaths of millions, while millions more were displaced and ancient cities, nations and peoples were destroyed.”

A WIN/Gallup International survey of people in 65 countries conducted in 2014 found most of those surveyed consider the US the greatest threat to world peace, followed by Pakistan (now apparently at war with India), and China. 

Richard Haass is naturally a hypocrite and his tweet reveals what the ruling elite want for Venezuela—a return to the status quo before Hugo Chávez: all the nation’s wealth owned by a small oligarchic elite and parceling out of its vast oil reserve to transnational corporations. 

In 1995, before Chávez’s ascension, the poverty rate in Venezuela stood at 55%. As the chart below shows, in 1999 extreme poverty was at 23.4%. 

When the geopolitical ignoramus Donald Trump and his foreign policy handlers—Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, and Abrams—talk about “democracy,” they are talking about returning Venezuela to its vassal state with accompanying mass poverty and disenfranchisement. 

The people of Venezuela know this and are ready to fight against the neoliberal diktat of poverty and international bankster imposed debt.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Tehran Times

As the Soviet Union crumbled in December 1991, a Special Period unfolded in Cuba as she reeled from the disappearance of her principal commercial partner. In the late 1980s, over 85% of Cuba’s trade was tied to the USSR.

During those months that followed Soviet disintegration, Cuba was shorn of 80% of both its exports and imports, while her Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plunged by 34%. By comparison, America’s GDP fell by 30% during the Great Depression.

These were staggering blows for any nation to endure, let alone a state not much larger in size than Ireland. In 1989, the daily average intake of a Cuban adult was about 3,000 calories, an acceptable level of consumption by first world standards. Come 1993, the typical Cuban was living on 2,000 calories per day, and by 1995 it declined to around 1,800 calories. Gradual weight loss was witnessed throughout the country.

The Special Period still resembled nothing like a Siege of Leningrad scenario, in which 800,000 people starved to death during the Nazi blockade.

Incredibly, no person in Cuba died directly due to starvation, yet hunger was widespread initially, affecting children and the elderly most severely. Deprivations such as this had not been seen in Cuba since the pre-1959 days, when she was a virtual American colony and run like a traditional gangster’s paradise.

To overcome this crisis, the state’s leader Fidel Castro encouraged and promoted self-sufficient agriculture to take root in any available space across Cuba, including in parks and gardens. The Castro government dispatched teams of experts to train others in the mastery of independent farming, minus the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. By the mid-to-late 1990s, the situation was slowly improving as hunger pangs eased.

Cuba had also been a huge importer of oil from the USSR, and petroleum levels in the country subsequently dropped by 90%. Prior to 1991, for any Soviet petrol that Cuba did not consume, the island nation then re-exported to other countries which represented a crucial mode of income.

As a result, the Cuban population’s reliance upon automobiles was no longer a viable one. To offset this separate catastrophe, Castro imported over one million bicycles from the People’s Republic of China, which became an important ally.

Steps were implemented to manufacture a further 500,000 bicycles within Cuba itself, bringing the combined number to about two million. That is, almost one bicycle for every five people. For those who did not own a bicycle, public transport and carpooling were advised, along with walking.

As oil supplies were almost wiped out, Castro further reintroduced the dependence on the horse as a means of drawing carriages, a method which humankind had for thousands of years relied upon; but which has almost disappeared over past generations. The horse is an animal that boasts impressive strength and beauty, but which has been increasingly cast into the fields and stables, lying idle as the world became industrialized.

The modest selection of material stocks in Cuba, dwindling further during the Special Period, might not be as disastrous as it seems. In rich consumer societies, one can be bamboozled with the many brands of shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and so on. To exist in comfort, a human being requires only a limited set of goods and products. It is no bad thing for a person to sometimes live without certain luxuries, as it can make one appreciate such a thing far more when one has possession of it.

Image on the right: U.S president Dwight D. Eisenhower (left), and leader of Cuba Fidel Castro (right)

Meanwhile, driving Cuba’s massive reliance upon the USSR was an American embargo, first implemented during the latter end of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency. In February 1962 the embargo was extended by Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, to include almost all exports. Its punishing ramifications persist to the current day in opposition to almost entire world opinion.

Kennedy had instituted aggressive actions against Cuba, such as the illegal Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961. It was followed by a covert campaign of terror known as Operation Mongoose, authorized via presidential consent in late 1961, with the ultimate aim of toppling Castro.

This CIA-administered scheme ranged from artillery and gun attacks against Cuba, to poisoning of crops and livestock, contamination of sugar exports, along with a range of plans to assassinate the Cuban leader. US government assaults lasted into the early 1980s, descending to acts of biological and chemical warfare, such as the introduction of African swine fever and dengue fever into Cuba.

In the meantime, Castro realized that his country must seek close ties with the Soviets for their revolution to survive – particularly in its early years when socialism was not yet deep-rooted in Cuba and under major attack.

Widespread aspersions that Cuba was “a Soviet client state” ranked as mischievous propaganda. The revolution swept to power in early 1959 without any assistance from the USSR. Entirely independent of Moscow were Castro’s policies such as the institution of world-renowned health and education systems, the eradication of homelessness, drug addiction and gambling, along with the Cuban-inspired liberation of southern Africa from apartheid.

Nelson Mandela, the South African political leader, held a strong reverence for Castro personally, describing him as “a tower of strength” and he remarked in summer 1991,

“The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character” – and that the Cuban Revolution “has been a source of inspiration for all freedom loving people”.

As time progressed into the mid-1990s and beyond, far-sighted strategies enacted by Castro’s government, adapting to the adverse conditions, began to pay off. It came as a shock not only to elite US organizations that the socialist project in Cuba survived, but those in Russia like Mikhail Gorbachev were taken aback too.

Gorbachev noted that,

“Fidel held his ground and strengthened his country at the time of the harshest American blockade, at the time of massive pressure on him”.

Weighing all of the obstacles placed against Cuba, it is remarkable that their revolution exists into its 61st year. Along with the large-scale support of Cuba’s population, Castro can take ample credit in defying the most powerful nation in history – whose strongly militarized coastline in Key West, Florida, is just over 100 miles from Havana, Cuba’s capital.

Elsewhere, in South America, while the situation in Venezuela is indeed serious, the difficulties she faces may not be as severe as those experienced by Cuba. The crisis is undoubtedly a gruelling test of Nicolás Maduro‘s leadership, but the 56-year-old can take inspiration from that resilience demonstrated most abundantly by the Cubans.

Maduro should also draw courage from the many thousands of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, with the two Latin American nations now relying heavily upon each other.

It may be worth mentioning that Maduro is Venezuela’s democratically elected president, and is recognized as such by the United Nations. International observers have explicitly outlined, noting “the sophistication of the voting system” in May 2018, that Maduro won a “fraud-proof” election claiming more than 66% of votes.

The independent analysts highlight, “We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly”, and certain allegations to the contrary have been “of the most disgraceful kind”. Numerous claims that Maduro’s election victory was “fraudulent” are, therefore, disingenuous and without foundation.

In addition, it is somewhat outrageous that a youthful figure such as Juan Guaidó – unknown before Christmas to over 80% of Venezuelans – has “declared himself interim president”. Guaidó, a pawn of the White House, has committed a number of errors like publicly confirming his regular contact with Washington and tying himself so obviously to American business interests. It is a shameful episode and Guaidó will surely never have the legitimate support of Venezuela’s people.

The US government-led pressures and threats against Venezuela are furthermore a violation of the UN Charter, which was signed in San Francisco, California, during late June 1945. President Donald Trump, along with his National Security Advisor John Bolton, has said recently that “All options are on the table” with regard Venezuela, including a possible US military intervention.

The UN Charter, under Article 2, declares that,

“All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.

Once more, the old charter is being shredded to pieces. That Venezuela contains 20% of the world’s known oil reserves is of more importance to some than refraining “from the threat or use of force”, which is against international law to begin with.

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

Annual bilateral trade between the 5th largest economy in the world and the 34th rated global economy exceeds US$3 billion with over 300 known Israeli companies operating in Britain.  Much of this trade is in classified military equipment, armaments and security systems notwithstanding that the state of Israel is the only undeclared nuclear entity, globally, and has built huge secret nuclear arsenals that are outside the inspection of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Plus the unpalatable fact that Israel is in gross breach of UNSCR2334 that demands withdrawal of all Israeli citizens from illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories.

In other words, the United Kingdom collaborates closely with a nuclear-armed state that is vastly superior to the UK in terms of its nuclear weaponry and other WMD including its ‘second strike’ capability afforded by a fleet of German-built, Dolphin-Class submarines armed with Cruise missiles boasting a range in excess of 1500kms. This enables them to reach Copenhagen from Genoa on the Mediterranean and virtually every other state in Europe both East, West and North. That includes Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Austria, Poland, Italy, Ukraine and Switzerland etc.  All are now within range of Israel’s SLCMs.

However, there are other important considerations from the Israeli perspective apart from its hugely profitable bilateral trade with the UK.  Israeli owned companies are major suppliers of generic drugs to Britain’s National Health Service, without which the NHS would be in serious difficulty.

Apart from these military and commercial considerations, there is a still more important aspect – a political one.  Virtually the entire ruling Conservative party are paid-up members of the Friends of Israel lobby, including apparently the Prime Minister.   This gives the Israeli government a unique entry into the corridors of power in Westminster to an extent that a former Conservative Minister allegedly had secret talks with her counterpart in Tel Aviv without the knowledge of the UK government and, reportedly tried to offer funding to the IDF in a completely unauthorised effort to collaborate with the Israeli authorities. The Prime Minister had no option but to require her immediate resignation.  Some years’ prior to that, a Conservative Defence Minister was obliged to resign for also indulging in improper negotiations with a foreign government. This latter politician has, of course, now been instrumental in his new role in concluding post-Brexit trade links with the Israeli state ahead of negotiations with the rest of the world.

Of course, the state of Israel is a non- member of NATO.  It is also a non-member of the EU.  It is not a party to the IAEA.  It is not a party to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.  It is neither a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention or the BWC. In other words, it is outside many of the most important international treaties and conventions to which virtually the whole world is a committed party.

Why then has the British Government been so anxious to sign a post-Brexit trade deal with one of the most potentially dangerous regimes in the world – a regime that even holds the United Nations Security Council in contempt but which, of course, has US President Donald Trump’s family in the White House as mentors, and funders and arms suppliers courtesy of the US Congress?

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Hans Stehling (pen name) is an analyst based in the UK. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

In Washington, Regime Change Is Truly and Urgently Needed!

February 27th, 2019 by Andre Vltchek

I am surprised that no one else is saying it, writing it, shouting it at each and every corner:

It is not Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran that are in dire and crucial need of ‘regime change’. It is the United States of America, it is the entire European Union; in fact, the entire West. 

And the situation is urgent.

The West has gone mad; it has gone so to speak, bananas; mental. And people there are too scared to even say it, to write about it.

One country after another is falling, being destroyed, antagonized, humiliated, impoverished. Entire continents are treated as if they were inhabited by irresponsible toddlers, who are being chased and disciplined by sadistic adults, with rulers and belts in their hands yelling with maniacal expressions on their faces: “Behave, do as we say, or else!

It all would be truly comical, if it weren’t so depressing. But… nobody is laughing. People are shaking, sweating, crying, begging, puking, but they are not chuckling.

I see it everywhere where I work: in Asia, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

But why?

It is because North American and European countries are actually seriously delivering their ultimatum: you either, obey us and prostrate yourself in front of us, or we will break you, violate you, and if everything else fails, we will kill your leaders and all of those who are standing in our way.

This is not really funny, is it? Especially considering that it is being done to almost all the countries in what is called Latin America, to many African and Middle Eastern nations, and to various states on the Asian continent.

And it is all done ‘professionally’, with great sadistic craftsmanship and rituals. No one has yet withstood ‘regime change’ tactics, not even the once mighty Soviet Union, nor tremendous China, or proud and determined Afghanistan.

Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK and Syria may be the only countries that are still standing. They resisted and mobilized all their resources in order to survive; and they have survived, but at a tremendous price.

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The victims keep crying. A few independent countries keep expressing their outrage. But so far, there is no grand coalition, which would be ready to fight and defend each other: “one for all, all for one”.

Until the recent ‘rebellion’ at the UN, no one has been openly and seriously suggesting that international law should apply to all nations of the world, equally.

People talk about ‘peace’. Many are begging the brigands to ‘to stop’, to ‘have mercy’, to show some compassion. But, neither Europe nor North America has ever shown any compassion, for long, terrible centuries. Look at the map of the beginning of the 20th century, for instance: the entire world was colonized, plundered and subjugated.

Now it is all moving in the same direction. If the West is not stopped, our planet may not survive at all. And let us be realistic: begging, logical arguments and goodwill will not stop Washington, Paris or London from plundering and enslaving.

Anyone who has at least some basic knowledge of world history knows that.

So why is the world still not forging some true resistance?

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Is Venezuela going to be the last straw? And if not Venezuela, that is if Venezuela is allowed to fall, is it going to be Nicaragua, Cuba or Iran next? Is anything going to propel people into action?

Are we all just going to look passively how, the socialist Venezuela, a country which has already given so much to the world, Venezuela which managed to create beautiful visions and concepts for our humanity, is going to be burned to ashes, and then robbed of all of its dreams, its resources and of its freedom?

Are we all such cowards? Is this what we – human beings – have actually become; been reduced to? Cowards and cattle, selfish and submissive beings; slaves?

All this, simply because people are too scared to confront the empire? Because they prefer to hide and to pretend that what is so obvious, is actually not taking place?

Therefore, let me pronounce it, so at least my readers do not have that ‘luxury’ of claiming that they were not told:

“This world is being brutalized and controlled by the fascist clique of Western nations. There is no ‘democracy’ left in this world, as there is near zero respect for international law in North American and European capitals. Colonialism has returned in full force. Western imperialism is now almost fully controlling the world.”

And begging, trust me – begging and talking of peace is not going to help.

During WWII, fascism had to be stopped. If not, it was going to devour the entire planet.

In the past, tens of millions have already died fighting for freedom and for our mankind.

Yes, some nations tried to compromise and negotiate with Nazi Germany, but we all know where it all ended.

Now, the situation is the same. Or worse, perhaps much worse, because the West has nukes and a tremendous propaganda apparatus: it controls human brains all over the world with ‘mass media’, and ‘education’.

And because the citizens of the West are now much more brainwashed than the Germans and Italians were in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s; more brainwashed, more scared, submissive and more ‘disciplined’.

*

Look, seriously: are the people who are now writing those “peace essays”, in which they argue with the Western regime about who is right and who is wrong, seriously thinking that they are going to move people like Donald Trump, or Pompeo, or Abrams, or Rubio?

Do they believe that Washington is going to stop murdering millions of people all over the world? Or that the neo-colonialist plunder would stop, after the US Congress and Senate suddenly understands that it has been at the wrong side of history?

This is not some rhetorical question. I am serious: I demand answers!

Does ‘peace movement’ thinks that by amassing arguments it could stop Western expansionism? Yes or no?

Do they believe that Pompeo or Trump will suddenly hit their foreheads and exclaim: “You people are correct! We did not see this!” And call their troops, their thugs and mercenaries back?

If not, if this is not what peace movements believe would be done by North American and European leaders, then why all those thousands of wasted pages?

Would you go near a crocodile that is ready to devour an innocent child, and try to reason with it? Would you, seriously? Do you think it would stop, drop a few tears, wag its tail and leave?

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Sometimes I tend to believe that ‘peace movements’ in the West are making things worse. They create false hopes, and they behave as if the empire is some entity that has a soul, and understands logic. They grossly underestimate the threat; the danger.

And they tend to analyze the Western threat from a Western perspective, using Western logic.

It somehow gets lost in interpretation that fascism, terror, and bestiality have to be confronted and fought.

One cannot negotiate with a group of countries which are already bathed in the blood of some 80% of the planet. If it was to happen, it would just be a mockery and it would simply humiliate everyone that is sincerely trying to stop the assassins.

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Right now, Venezuela needs solidarity. It requires direct help, actions; not words. And so do many other countries.

Instead, it gets an endless avalanche of best wishes, as well as premature obituaries.

The Bolivarian Revolution has gotten plenty of colorful words. But what it urgently needs is volunteers, money, and internationalist brigades!

I know that billions of people all over the world are now cheering from their armchairs; in fact, doing absolutely nothing, while also spending zero. Their love for Venezuela is ‘platonic’.

I have just left Syria, where I was covering the Idlib war zone. There was not one single foreigner near me, during those days. Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley usually work all over the toughest areas in Syria, but how many others do? And most of the time we work with near zero backing, just because we feel that it is our moral obligation to inform humanity.

I am wondering, how many foreigners are fighting for Venezuela, right now?

Who is going to face the Western spooks implanted into the Caracas and the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil? A few RT and TeleSur reporters, those true heroes, yes, but who else?

Only direct action can save Venezuela, and the world.

This is no time for debates.

This is worse, much worse than the late 1930’s.

The proverbial crocodile is here; its enormous ugly mouth open, ready to devour yet one more brilliant, proud country.

It is time to stick a big metal rod into its mouth. Now, immediately; before it gets too late.

Let us shout LONG LIVE VENEZUELA! But with our hands, muscles and purses, not just with our mouths.

And let us not be scared to declare: if anywhere, it is Washington where regime change is truly and urgently needed!

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Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilizationwith John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

Featured image: A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 2019 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Video: Russia Slides Towards Internal Political Crisis

February 27th, 2019 by South Front

This is a critical look at the situation in Russia. The video is based on an article of one of our readers and additional data.

***

The Russia of 2019 is in a complicated economic and even political situation. Smoldering conflicts near its borders amid continued pressure from the US and NATO affect the situation in the country negatively. This is manifested in society and in national politics. The approval rating of the Russian government and personally of President Vladimir Putin has been decreasing.

According to VCIOM, a state pollster, in January 2019, Putin’s confidence rating was only 32.8%. This is 24% less than in January 2018 when it was 57.2%. At the same time, the confidence rating of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 7.8%. The approval rating of his cabinet is 37.7% while the disapproval rating is 38.7%. Opposition sources show data, which is far worse for the current Russian leadership.

This tendency is not linked to the foreign policy course of the Kremlin. Rather, it’s the result of the recent series of liberal-minded economic reforms, which look similar to the approaches exercised by the Russian government in the mid-1990s. The decision to increase Value Added Tax amid the slowing Russian economy, especially in the industrial sector, and a very unpopular pension reform increasing the retirement age were both factors contributing to the further growth of discontent in the population.

Russia’s GDP increased by 2.3% in 2018 compared to 1.6% in 2017. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, in its document entitled “Economic Picture” stated that this is linked to “one-time factors” and is not “stable”. The ministry maintained its earlier forecast stating that GDP growth in 2019 will be 1.3%. It confirmed increasing capital outflow. In this case, the repayment of funds to Western creditors by the Russian private sector is one of the causes.

The Ministry of Economic Development also pointed out that the expendable income of the population decreased by 0.2%. Statutory charges, including the increased taxes, are named as one of the reasons. The document says that statutory charges grew by 14.8% in 2018.

Additionally, the population is facing an increasingly restrictive administrative pressure: new fines and other penalties for minor violations in various fields and additional administrative restrictions limiting the freedom of actions of citizens. Restrictive traffic management of big cities, increasing fees for using federal highways as well as policies that are de-facto aimed at small business and self-employed persons are among its landmarks.

Meanwhile the general population has no effective levers of pressure to affect or correct government policy. The public political sphere has become a desert. United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) is the only political party still de—facto existing in public politics. By now its ideological and organizational capabilities have become exhausted. Other “political parties and organizations” are just media constructs designed to defend the interests of a narrow group of their sponsors. It is hard to find a lawmaker in the State Duma or the Federation Council, who is not affiliated with the cliquish top political elite and oligarch clans.

In the media sphere, the government has failed to explain its current course to the population. A vast majority of the initiatives of Medvedev’s cabinet face a negative reaction from the population. A spate of scandals involving high and middle level government officials made the situation even worse. These cases revealed blatant hypocrisy and the neglectful attitude to duties of some Russian officials.

Some of the officials even became heroes of nationwide memes. Probably, the most prominent of these heroes are Minister of Labour and Employment of the Saratov region Natalia Sokolova and Head of Department for Youth Policy in the Sverdlov Region Olga Glatskikh.

Sokolova advised Russian pensioners to eat “makaroshki” [a derogatory term for maccheroni] to save money and to thus become able to survive on the subsistence minimum of 3,500 RUB [about 50 USD] per month.

“You will become younger, prettier and slimmer! Makaroshki cost is always the same!”, she said during a meeting of the regional parliamentary group on social policy in October 2018 adding that discounted products can be used to create a “balanced, but dietic” menu.

Glatskikh became a meme hero thank to her meeting with young volunteers during the same month. Commenting on the possible financing of youth projects, she told volunteers that the government did not ask their parents “to give birth” to them. So, they should expect nothing from the state.

In the period from 2018 to 2019, there were multiple arrests of officials caught exceeding the limits of their authority and being involved in corruption schemes. In comparison to previous periods, this number had increased by 1.5-2 times. The most recent detention took place right in the Parliament building on January 30. A 32-year-old senator, Rauf Arashukov, is suspected of being a member of a criminal group involved in the 2010 murders of two people and in pressuring a witness to one of the killings. On the same day, authorities detained his father, an adviser to the chief executive of a Gazprom subsidiary, Raul Arashukov. He is suspected of embezzling natural gas worth 30 billion rubles ($450 million).

However, these actions do not appear to be enough to change the established media situation. After a large-scale corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense in 2012, which led to almost no consequences for key responsible persons including former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who even continued his carrier in state-linked corporation Rostec. The general public has serious reservations about any real success of anti-corruption efforts.

The aforementioned factors fuel the negative perception of the Medvedev government and Vladimir Putin as the head of state among Russian citizens.

The 2014 events in Crimea showed to the Russian population that its state is ready to defend the interests of the nation and those who describe themselves as Russians even by force of arms. This was the first case when this approach was openly employed in the recent history of Russia. Therefore, the population was enthusiastic and national pride was on the rise. However, the Kremlin failed to exploit these gained opportunities and did not use them to strengthen the Russian state. In fact, up to February 2019, the policy towards eastern Ukraine has been inconsistent. At the same time, Moscow continues to lose its influence in post-Soviet states. This can be observed in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. Even, their close ally, Belarus, occasionally demonstrates unfriendly behavior and focuses its own efforts on the exploitation of economic preferences granted by Russia.

Evaluating the current internal political situation in Russia and its foreign policy course, it’s possible to say that the Russian leadership has lost its clear vision of national development and a firm and consistent policy, which are needed for any great power. Another explanation of this is that the Russian leadership is facing pressure from multiple agents of influence, which stand against vision of a powerful independent state seeking to act as one of the centers of power on the global stage. One more factor, often pointed out by experts, is the closed crony-caste system of elites. This system led to the creation of a leadership, which pursues its own narrow clannish interests. Apparently, all of these factors influence Russian foreign and domestic policies in one way or another.

The aforementioned large-scale anti-corruption campaign, regarding the people’s show-me attitude towards its result, could be a sign of a new emerging trend, which would lead to a purge of the corrupt elites and to strategic changes in Russian domestic policy.

It is highly likely that Russia will face hard times in the next two years (2019-2020) and face various threats and challenges to its economy, foreign policy course and even to its statehood.

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New Studies Confirm Dangers of Glyphosate

February 27th, 2019 by F. William Engdahl

Since the 1960s uproar over the dangers of widespread agriculture use of the weed killer, DDT, no other herbicide or agriculture chemical has stirred as much widespread opposition as glyphosate. Glyphosate is the main and only publicly disclosed ingredient in the world-leading herbicide, Roundup from Monsanto/Bayer. With fierce opposition from many EU member states, in 2018 owing to a sly maneuver by the former German Minister of Agriculture, the EU Commission ruled to continue allowing the controversial pesticide. Now recent tests have added to the body of evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic and should be banned immediately.

On February 10, 2019 the scientific journal Mutation Research published the results of a major new study on the possible cancer-causing effects of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH). The authors noted,

“We investigated whether there was an association between high cumulative exposures to GBHs and increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in humans. We conducted a new meta-analysis that included the most recent update of the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort published in 2018 along with five case-control studies. Using the highest exposure groups when available in each study, we report the overall meta-relative risk (meta-RR) of NHL in GBH-exposed individuals was increased by 41%…” The study authors concluded that there was a “compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.”

A 41% greater risk of lymphoma is significant.

Rachel Shaffer, a co-author of the study at the University of Washington, stated of the results,

“This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators.”

The University of Washington study supports the 2015 conclusion of the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer, which classified glyphosate as a ‘probable human carcinogen.’ The GMO and related agrichemical industry has done everything imaginable to counter the impact of the independent IARC report.

Roundup today is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Since commercialization of GMO crops in the USA after 1996, the amount of Roundup-bearing glyphosate has dramatically increased worldwide. In the United States alone, usage increased nearly sixteen-fold between 1992 and 2009. What is not often understood, the patented GMO crops are modified to resist the toxic Roundup, nothing else.

In addition to killing weeds on GMO soybeans or corn, Roundup or other GBHs are sprayed again on crops just before harvest to accelerate their dessication, giving the crops a far higher glyphosate residue. Given that at least in the USA GMO crops have permeated the entire food chain, exposure to glyphosate and related toxins has spread as well.

EU Stalls on glyphosate ban

Despite decisions by numerous EU member states against use of glyphosate following the 2015 IACR finding, and millions of citizen petitions to the Brussels EU Commission calling to not renew the license for glyphosate, the powerful agrichemical lobby to date is dominant.

The EU has just published results of a 2-year study of effects of GMO corn on rats. It is a response to an earlier shocking study, the first ever over the 2 year normal rat lifetime, of effects of Monsanto GMO corn and of the associated glyphosate-bearing Roundup weed killer. The 2014 Seralini study found very significant chronic kidney deficiencies in the GMO-fed rats as well as cancer tumors and early death among other alarming results. Monsanto and the agrichemical industry launched a de facto war to discredit the damning Seralini study. One result is the of that effort is the EU-funded 2-year study known as G-TwYST that has just been released.

The EU study of the effects feeding rats Mon NK603+Roundup, is misleadingly titled: “Lack of adverse effects in subchronic and chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity studies on the glyphosate-resistant genetically modified maize NK603 in Wistar Han RCC rats.” That makes it sound like they found no problems, unlike Seralini’s group. However when we take the trouble to actually read the study, buried deep in the text is the following:

“…the mortality rate of the male rats fed the 33% NK603 + Roundup diet was significantly higher than that of the corresponding control group. The most common cause of premature death in both groups was a pituitary pars anterior adenoma, 12 in the control group and 17 in the group fed the 33% NK603 diet. The next most common cause of premature death was a kidney chronic progressive nephropathy, 1 in the control group and 3 in the group fed the 33% NK603 + Roundup diet. ”

The EU study ignored this in the conclusion and concluded that no long-term animal studies for risk assessment of °GMO plants was needed.

Fat rats…

In order to get their benign result, the EU study authors had to explain away the increased mortality in male rats fed Monsanto NK603 GMO corn with Roundup related to pituitary tumors. To do so they claimed that the GMO-Glyphosate fed rats ate more, leading to a “strong increase” in body weight between the 12th and 24th month of the feeding trial, compared with the non-GMO-fed control group.

Significantly they did not ask why GMO+Roundup fed rats were significantly fatter than non-GMO+Roundup fed rats. That could shed light on the causes of the epidemic obesity in USA and EU populations over the past 20 years as glyphosate use has soared. The EU scientists conveniently ignored both increased deaths in the males fed NK603 maize + Roundup, or the increase in body weight in the same animals. GMWatch asks the relevant question: “This misrepresentation of the study findings raises the question of why scientists funded with EU taxpayers’ money would apparently downplay such results, misleading the public and the scientific community.”

In August 2018 a California jury ruled in favor of a school groundskeeper exposed to significant Roundup over years who contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma that he claimed was due to Roundup exposure. The court ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to Dewayne Johnson. Since then Monsanto has become target of thousands of similar lawsuits and the stock price of parent, Bayer AG, has declined significantly on a negative outlook.

It’s time to ask for more than transparency in government studies of effects of the agrichemicals. The accepted precautionary principle requires government agencies to protect the general health and safety when there is any doubt. That pervasive human and food-chain exposure to glyphosate is associated with higher cancer, obesity, organ damage and other risks is clearly indicated. The prudent response would be calling for total ban unless and until effects are fully and independently determined.

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F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


seeds_2.jpg

Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

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

List Price: $25.95

Special Price: $18.00

 

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

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

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

Israel Burying Nuclear Waste in Syria’s Golan: UN

February 27th, 2019 by Press TV

UN chief Antonio Guterres will unveil Monday a report which accuses Israel of burying radioactive nuclear waste in the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory under occupation for over five decades.

Guterres will submit the report – which is based on Syria’s charges against Israel – to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the panel’s 40th session, set to open in Geneva Monday and run through March 22.

“The Syrian Arab Republic noted that Israel continued to bury nuclear waste with radioactive content in 20 different areas populated by Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly in the vicinity of al-Sheikh Mountain,” the report says.

“The practice has put the lives and health of Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan in jeopardy, and constituted a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” it added.

Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but its policy is to neither confirm nor deny having atomic bombs. The regime is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

Israel is not a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whose aim is to prevent the spread of nuclear arms and weapons technology.

Tel Aviv seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and has continued to occupy two-thirds of the strategically-important territory ever since.

Over the past decades, Israel has built dozens of settlements in the Golan Heights in defiance of international calls on the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.

The UN report further accuses Israel of “providing logistical support to terrorist groups,” such as the Nusrah Front which is affiliated to al-Qaeda.

Israel, the report says, is providing terrorist groups with weapons, ammunition, money and medical care to frighten the local population and to maintain a no-go zone along the Syrian border.

The report also censures Israel’s decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan” as “null and void and without international legal effect,” calling on the regime to “rescind forthwith its decision”.

The Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from militant groups.

Tel Aviv has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria in an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.

Israel’s angry response 

The UN report drew an angry reaction from Israel, with its foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon dismissing it at “another false report from the UNHRC which specializes in attacking Israel.”

The UNHRC had initially said that at this four-week session, it would publish for the first time its data base on companies doing business with illegal Israeli settlements. Israel has reportedly worked behind the scenes to prevent the publication of the database.

The UN body is also expected to debate Israeli actions against Palestinians along the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied territories.

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Featured image: Israel’s Merkava Tank in the Golan Heights. (By ChameleonsEye /Shutterstock)

Selected Articles: “Humanitarian Aid” for Nefarious Purposes

February 27th, 2019 by Global Research News

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“Humanitarian Aid” for Nefarious Purposes. USAID and Guaido’s February 23, 2019 – The Second Battle of Cucuta

By William Walter Kay, February 26, 2019

The genesis of Juan Guaido’s February 23, 2019 Cucuta provocation remains murky. Re-purposing humanitarian aid missions for nefarious purposes isn’t an original idea. Staging a mass portage of USAID packages across the Colombian-Venezuelan border, however, appears to be Guaido’s brilliancy.

Black History: Trump Era Resistance, Mumia’s Plight, and Freedom for the Move 9

By Michael Welch, Glen Ford, Suzanne Ross, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, February 26, 2019

Previous to becoming president, Trump had established a track record that was anything but evolved in terms of reconciling the divide between people of color and whites in his country. In the 70s, his family’s real estate company was sued twice by the U.S. Justice Department for rental practices that discriminated against black applicants.

Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, February 26, 2019

In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document.

“Arab NATO” Isn’t NATO-like at All

By Andrew Korybko, February 26, 2019

It’s become popular over the past few years to talk about the so-called “Arab NATO” that the US is reportedly trying to assemble in the Mideast to militarily contain Iran, but the actual entity being created doesn’t resemble its European predecessor at all.

Alexander von Humboldt, Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution

By Franklin Frederick, February 26, 2019

Back in Europe, Humboldt began publishing several books recounting his adventures in America, revealing the natural and cultural riches of South America to a curious and fascinated European public.

The Conservatives, “Nam-Nam Friction” and Nuclear Crisis in South Korea

By Prof. Joseph H. Chung, February 26, 2019

What is hard to believe is that while the leaders of the four political parties made lobbying for the success of the Summit, the leader of the main conservative opposition party, the Ja-yoo Hangook- Dang (LKP), Mme Na Kyung-won, tried to convince Washington politicians that North Korea should not be trusted and there should be no end of the Korean War. This party seemed to wish for the continuation of the nuclear crisis.

Juan Guaido: A Traitor to His People

By Radio Havana Cuba, February 26, 2019

The self-proclaimed “Provisional President of Venezuela,” Juan Guaidó, is an expert in dangerous actions, who — in pursuit of his unending ambition — will go down in history as a person that broke all the rules of decency and democracy.

5G and GMO: Electromagnetic Waves and Genetic Engineering: Profit Driven Destruction

By Julian Rose, February 25, 2019

We know that the genetic engineering of the plant and animal kingdom alters their DNA, and does the same to those who regularly ingest GM foods. People, animals, fish, insects and plants that absorb or are cross contaminated by other genetically modified species, are the victims of the recombinant DNA laboratory techniques used in genetic engineering.

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Maria Faría, the daughter of a would-be Hugo Chávez assassin, illegally barged into Venezuela’s embassy in Costa Rica and declared herself ambassador. The embarrassing stunt highlighted everything wrong with Juan Guaidó’s reality-show government.

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While tweeting that she had taken charge of Venezuela’s Embassy in Costa Rica on February 20, Maria Faría demonstrated that she was more familiar with the conventions of social media than those dictating international diplomacy.

“In fulfillment of the diplomatic functions, assigned by President Juan Guaido”, tweeted Faría, referring to the US-appointed leader of Venezuela’s parallel coup government, “we assume control of the administrative headquarters of the Embassy of Venezuela in San Jose”.

The surprise announcement came early Wednesday morning from inside the Embassy, leading many to wonder how Faría, or “@Mandyfaria26” — who describes herself in her Twitter bio as the “Diplomatic Representative for the Venezuelan Republic” in Costa Rica — was able to secure access to the Embassy.

A senior Venezuelan official told the Grayzone that Faría and her entourage were able to access the building by paying its owner to hand over the keys.

Once inside, Faría seemed to believe she could tweet her way to legitimacy, just as the presidency of her boss, Juan Guaido, had been announced on Twitter by US President Donald Trump.

But getting her foot in the door would be the least of Faría’s challenges. Within hours the young diplomatic wannabe had managed to offend her host country and demonstrate her lack of qualifications for the job.

The fail-daughter of an exiled coup plotter, her clownish behavior was hardly unique to a government that existed only in cyberspace and the fever dreams of John Bolton. Beyond its illegal occupation of the Costa Rican embassy, Guaido’s gang had no Foreign Ministry, let alone any physical address to govern from.

A month into their shadow puppet government, the attempt to barge into the consular space exposed the desperation behind their search for legitimacy.

“Strong rejection of the performance of … María Faría”

Faria’s first day as the Twitter-proclaimed ambassador quickly deteriorated into a humiliating debacle.

Costa Rica might have recognized Guaido as President of Venezuela on January 23rd, but her brazen move took the country’s Foreign Ministry by surprise. Speaking to reporters, Costa Rican Vice Minister Lorena Aguilar announced that her office “deplored the unacceptable entry” into Venezuela’s Embassy in Costa Rica “by diplomatic personnel of the government of interim President Juan Guaidó.” Aguilar went on to express a “strong rejection of the performance of the diplomatic representative María Faría”.

On February 15th, Costa Rica gave diplomats representing the internationally recognized government of Nicolas Maduro 60 days to leave the country — meaning they legally represented Venezuela in San Jose until April 21st. Aguilar accused Faria of disrespecting that diplomatic deadline with her stunt.

In a letter to reporters, Faría’s staff apologized for cancelling a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, announcing she will spend Thursday discussing her unilateral takeover of the Embassy with Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Ventura Robles. It was safe to assume the meeting would include a crash course in international law for the ambitious social media diplomat.

When Venezuelan diplomats representing Maduro’s government arrived at the embassy on Wednesday, they were greeted by a swarm of opposition supporters blocking its entrance. Several videos posted on social media showed crowds angrily clashing with the dignitaries as they attempted to enter their workplace and perform official duties.

The ghosts of terrorist past

Multiple journalists took to social media to note that two of the men who led the attack on the embassy appeared to be the sons of Eduardo Manuitt, the former governor of Guarico state in Venezuela. Manuitt is a former Chavista who turned against the movement after the United Socialist Party of Venezuela refused to support his daughter’s efforts to succeed him as governor. He had been in hiding since 2009 in order to avoid an arrest warrant over corruption charges alleging he pocketed government funds while in office.

But the Manuitt boys were not the only children of shady characters involved in storming Venezuela’s Embassy in Costa Rica. In fact, the new “diplomatic representative” Faría hails from a family of failed coup plotters.

In 2005, Faría’s father, retired National Guard Colonel Jesus Faría Rodriguez, was sentenced to nine years in prison for his involvement in the Daktari Farm case, a foiled plot to attack the military and assassinate then-President Hugo Chavez with Colombian paramilitary men disguised in Venezuelan military garb. Colonel Faría’s brother, Dario, and nephew, Rafael, were also sentenced in the case.

In 2006, the elder Faría miraculously escaped from prison, along with Dario and Rafael. A Denver Post article from that year features a photograph of young Maria Faría bearing a poster calling for her father and his relatives to be freed.

Thirteen years later, she would join in the family tradition of clumsily botched attempts at sedition.

Government by Instagram

Little is known about what qualified Maria to represent the Venezuelan people from San Jose, or about her professional career at all. An article published in El Nacional at the time of her father’s prison escape revealed that the colonel had “three children: two boys and a female who has just graduated as an accountant”.

The Faría family virtually disappeared from the public eye after the prison break. In fact, Maria only posted her first Instagram photo on February 1st, weeks after Washington’s coup attempt was underway.

Instagram posts she published since that day combine gushing pro-Guaido sentiment with right-wing talking points about US humanitarian aid and photos of a woman who appears desperate to look the part of an international power-player. Her ambitions culminated with her Twitter proclamation of control over the Venezuelan Embassy in Costa Rica. But then reality set in.

According to Costa Rica’s Vice Foreign Minister, Faría’s entry to the Embassy “injures elementary diplomatic norms of respect and trust in relations in the international community, and above all, in international law.”

These words perfectly summed up the whole absurd spectacle of the Washington backed coup attempt.

While Guaido may have fooled some when declaring himself president from the streets of Caracas, Faria learned the hard way that it would take more than social media optics campaigns and bribery to declare herself a diplomat. But within Guaido’s right-wing gaggle, there seems to be little interest in the rule of law. It is a collection of unknown backbenchers, amateurs, and elite hooligans that equate Twitter proclamations with governmental legitimacy.

At least in this respect, Faria is the perfect representative.

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Anya Parampil is a Washington, DC based journalist. She previously hosted a daily progressive afternoon news program called In Question on RT America. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on the ground reports from the Korean peninsula and Palestine.

Israel’s decision to withhold part of the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and plunge it deeper into crisis starkly illustrates the hypocrisies and deceptions at the core of the two governments’ relationship.

Under the terms of what are now the quarter century-old Oslo accords, Israel is responsible for collecting about $200 million each month in taxes, which it is supposed to pass on to the PA, the Palestinian government-in-waiting in the West Bank.

The money belongs to the Palestinians but Israel has temporarily withheld it on several occasions in the past as a stick with which to beat the Palestinian leadership into line.

On this occasion, however, the stakes are far higher.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu belatedly implemented a law passed last summer that requires his officials to retain part of the taxes owed to the Palestinians – those that the PA transfers to political prisoners’ families as a monthly stipend.

It echoes the Taylor Force Act, a law passed by the US Congress in 2016, that denies American economic aid to the PA until it stops sending those same stipends to 35,000 families of prisoners and those killed and maimed by the Israeli army.

The PA has tried to avert that threat by channelling the payments through a separate body, the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Israel and Washington regard the prisoners simply as terrorists. But most Palestinians view them as heroes, those who have paid the highest price in the struggle for national liberation.

The Palestinian public no more believes the families should be abandoned for their sacrifices than Irish republicans turned their backs on those who fought British rule or black South Africans forsook those who battled apartheid.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called Israel’s actions “robbery” and said he would rather cut funding for health and education than for the prisoners and their families. “They are the most respected and appreciated part of the Palestinian people,” he declared.

Then he played his ace card. He said he would refuse all tax money from Israel until the full sum was reinstated.

That risks plunging the PA into financial meltdown and – most importantly for Israel – might ultimately lead to the disbanding of the Palestinian security services. Their job has long been to act as a security contractor, keeping order on Israel’s behalf in the West Bank.

The security forces hoovered up a massive 20 per cent of the PA’s $5.8 billion state budget last year.

The PA is already reeling from a series of hammer blows to the Palestinian economy. They include Donald Trump’s decision to cut all funding to UNRWA, the refugee agency for Palestinians, and to hospitals in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

In addition, Abbas reportedly declined $60m in annual US aid for his security services last month for fear of exposing the PA to legal action. A new congressional measure makes aid recipients like the PA subject to American anti-terrorism laws.

But the current stand-off between Netanyahu and Abbas lays bare the duplicity of the situation for all to see.

The PA leader may say the prisoners are the most cherished Palestinian constituency but he also describes his security services’ co-ordination with Israel as “sacred”.

The security services’ role is to assist the Israeli army in foiling Palestinian attacks and in arresting the very Palestinians he extols. Abbas cannot realistically hold true to both positions at the same time.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, has nothing to gain from harming the Palestinian security services, which the Israeli army relies on.

The decision to withhold taxes was taken chiefly to boost his popularity as rival right-wing parties compete for who appears the most hawkish before April’s general election.

Paradoxically, in withholding the PA’s tax money, Netanyahu is punishing Abbas, his supposed peace partner, while showing a preference for Hamas, Abbas’s arch rival in Gaza.

Although Israel categorises Hamas as a terror organisation, Netanyahu has been allowing extra funds into Gaza from Qatar to alleviate the enclave’s dire conditions.

Further, there is something richly ironic about Netanyahu rebuking the PA for rewarding Palestinian “terrorists” in the same week he negotiated a deal to assist bringing Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power party, into the Israeli parliament.

The party is Israel’s version of the Ku Klux Klan, disciples of the late rabbi Meir Kahane, whose virulently anti-Arab Kach party was outlawed 25 years ago as a terror organisation.
So appalling is the prospect of this unholy alliance that even pro-Israel lobbies like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the American Jewish Committee felt compelled to issue statements condemning Jewish Power as “racist and reprehensible”.

Netanyahu believes the extra votes Jewish Power will attract to the right in the election will ensure he has the support necessary to build a coalition that can keep him in power.

But there is another glaring flaw in Netanyahu’s tax grab.

If Abbas’s coffers run low, he will simply send even less money to Gaza, which is already being choked by Israel’s lengthy blockade.

That would intensify the unrest in Gaza, which could lead to rocket attacks into Israel and even larger mass protests by Palestinians at the perimeter fence encaging them.

At the same time, if things remain unresolved, an already fragile PA will move closer to collapse and Hamas might then be poised to fill the void left in the West Bank.

Loss of power for Abbas, combined with loss of a security contractor for Netanyahu, appear to make this confrontation mutually self-destructive – unless Netanyahu and the right have another card up their sleeve.
Hani Al Masri, a Palestinian policy analyst, has wondered whether Netanyahu is setting the stage for US President Donald Trump to introduce his long-awaited “peace deal” after the election.

Much of Netanyahu’s coalition is keen to annex Palestinian areas outside the main West Bank cities, destroying any hope of a Palestinian state ever emerging. Trump might be amenable.

In this scenario, argues Al Masri, Israel would aim to “end what remains of the PA’s political role, preserving only its administrative and security role”. It would be reduced to bin collections and law enforcement.

Should the PA reject the process of being hollowed out, Israel and the US would then look for an alternative, such as rule by local warlords in each Palestinian city and expanded powers for Israeli military rulers in the West Bank.

The denial of taxes to the PA may not yet presage its demise. But it points to a future in which Palestinian self-rule is likely to become an ever-more distant prospect.

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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. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the US is preparing to covertly arm the opposition in Venezuela. 

From Sputnik:

We have evidence that US companies and their NATO allies are working on the issue of acquiring a large batch of weapons and ammunition in an Eastern European country for their subsequent transfer to Venezuelan opposition forces.

Instead of the standard neocon tactic of making up a load of horse manure about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and other scary campfire stories and then bombing and invading the country, it looks like Trump’s rabble of neocon chicken hawk warmongers are considering (for now) the Obama way of doing things—arming the “opposition” (in Libya, these were Salafist murderers, in Ukraine, Russian-hating fascists) while simultaneously running a large propaganda campaign designed to demonize the elected leader of Venezuela. Maduro understands his only two options are to either stand and fight or flee the country. He has chosen the former. 

According to an article posted at Axios (h/t Robert Wenzel), the prime motivator is not John Bolton, Elliot Abrams, or Mike Pompeo. It’s Mike Pence, Trump’s robotic Christian Zionist Vice President. 

National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sen. Marco Rubio also play pivotal roles, but from the first days of the Trump presidency, Pence has dominated the [Venezuela] issue…

As an Indiana congressman, Pence fiercely opposed Castro and railed against communism in Latin America. His faith colors his work. “We are with you,” Pence told a crowd of several hundred South Florida Venezuelans at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church after his first vice presidential trip to Latin America, in the summer of 2017.

Pence arranged to have Juan Guaidó falsely claim he is Venezuela’s “interim president.” 

On Monday, Pence traveled to Bogotá “at the invitation of Colombia’s president, touting the U.S.’s ‘unwavering support’ for Guaidó, who he will also meet with. It will be Pence’s fifth trip to Latin America as VP.”

Newsweek reports:

Pence is expected to deliver his speech at a summit of the Lima Group at 10.30 a.m. (ET), following his meeting with regional leaders in Bogota, Colombia. The meeting comes days after U.S. aid convoys were blocked by troops loyal to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is no longer recognized as the country’s leader by the U.S. and other Western nations, at the border on Saturday.

Over the weekend, following the torching on “aid” trucks, Pence was “forced” (according to the Miami Herald) to formally request “the international community” to consider “all options” in Venezuela. 

In short, Pence leads the effort to invade Venezuela, or at minimum conduct a merciless bombing raid similar to the sort used to turn Iraq and Libya into failed states wracked by endless violence, which of course was the plan all along, never mind the fantasy Saddam Hussein met with and harbored al-Qaeda or twiddled with anthrax (sold to him by US and European countries). 

For the MAGA crowd, Trump can do no wrong. Here’s Lou Dobbs, whom I mistakenly called libertarian-ish a few years ago. In truth, he is simply another neocon fellow traveler.

Trump may lose a few supporters after he bombs the hell out of Venezuela—like he did when he bombed an empty airbase in Syria—but the vast majority will support him no matter what he does. 

The conversion is almost complete. MAGA is now shorthand for neocon. 

Trump’s Make America Great is indistinguishable from the neoliberal claim the United States is the sole exceptional and indispensable nation and this gives it free rein to engage in mass murder and the destruction of societies, especially those in “our backyard.”

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov strongly spoke out against the US’ so-called “Indo-Pacific” concept that’s recently become very popular among Indian strategists, remarking that it’s ”artificially imposed” and conditioned on containing China. 

From “Conspiracy Theory” To Strategic Fact

Routinely dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by hyper-jingoist Indian commentators, none other than Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov just confirmed that it’s actually a strategic fact that the US’ so-called “Indo-Pacific Region” (IOR) concept that’s recently become very popular in New Delhi is “artificially imposed” and conditioned on “containing China”. His remarks were reported on by Russia’s publicly funded international media outlet TASS and made in connection with his words about another externally supported structure, the so-called “Middle East Strategic Alliance” (MESA), better known by many as the “Arab NATO” initiative. So as not to be accused of misportraying the Foreign Minister’s comments, here’s the entirety of TASS’ short article on his comments:

TASS’ Report

“The United States is trying to impose the creation of the so-called Arab NATO, the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), despite serious doubts of its possible members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

 The steps have been made to reshape geopolitical landscape in a way to obstruct the natural development of events and try to contain the formation of new growth centers, Lavrov told a conference dubbed International Cooperation in a Troubled World, organized by the Valdai International Discussion Club in partnership with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

 “One of the examples is the Middle East Strategic Alliance, which now [US President Donald] Trump’s administration is trying to impose on the Persian Gulf states plus Jordan and Egypt while overcoming very serious doubts of potential members, and here Israel is also pursuing its interests around this initiative,” Lavrov said.

 Another artificially imposed concept is the Indo-Pacific Region, which Washington has started advancing together with Japan and Australia with an apparent goal of containing China and involving India in military and political and maritime processes, Lavrov said, noting that this concept undermines the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the region.

“I want to compare natural processes integrating countries based on their coinciding interests and artificial processes, which they try to forcefully impose on the countries to carry out a joint effort in the interests of one geopolitically oriented power,” the foreign minister stressed.

 According to the US idea, the Arab NATO will bring together six Persian Gulf states (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia) and also Egypt and Jordan. In mid-January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured these countries holding a series of talks with their leaders. One of key tasks of the trip is bringing closer the positions of eight countries to create MESA. The goal of the coalition is to counter threats in the region and step up economic and energy cooperation.”

Key Takeaways

In view of the above, the following observations can be made:

  • Russia regards the IOR and MESA as being complementary components of the US’ Eurasian strategy;
  • Both of these concepts are military-led and designed to contain an obvious target (Iran and China);
  • Nevertheless, Russia will continue comprehensively cooperating with its members;
  • This includes through “military diplomacy” (especially arms sales to the Gulf and India) and energy;
  • Russia’s 21st-century “balancing” act is driving its pragmatic relations with both US proxies.

Concluding Thoughts

Lavrov’s remarks and the reality of Russia’s “balancing” act reveal the complexities of the emerging Multipolar World Order whereby Moscow has lately found itself strengthening relations with countries that can generally be regarded as American allies and are the centerpieces of Washington’s regional containment strategies (India through the IOR against China and Saudi Arabia through the MESA against Iran). Nevertheless, Russia doesn’t interpret International Relations through the “zero-sum” paradigm but instead follows the “win-win” philosophy, meaning that it has no compunctions about cooperating real closely with those two despite their US-designated roles in undermining its Chinese and Iranian partners. After all, the alternative is to give the US uncontested influence over India and Saudi Arabia, which is disadvantageous to Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interests.

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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.

The Current State of the Swedish Submarine Industry

February 26th, 2019 by Jose Morales

With a rapidly changing industrial environment Europe, driven by macro-economics, economic reforms and the natural ebb-and-flow of business, some of the continent’s industries are currently on the losing side of history. Among them, Sweden’s submarine industry, which was promising 40 years ago, and is facing oblivion in the next few years.

If only for the quality of their cars, nobody in the world would ever mock Swedish engineers for their worth. As a historic industrial country, Sweden has a long tradition of brilliant minds and clever engineering ideas. Among the industries which were generated by this culture of creative and thorough minds, was the submarine industry. The earliest and most audacious Swedish pioneer was, of course, John Ericsson, one of the fathers of the modern submarine (and of many other inventions). In 1862, Ericsson designed the first ironclad battleship for the Union, pushing naval combat into a new era. He quickly turned to the submarine world, which was barely nascent, with his life-long friend and partner, Cornelius de Lamater, and adapted several inventions (such as shaft propellers) to submarines. Decades later, Sweden had continued on its tracks and in 1914, the national shipyards, Kockums, issued its first submarine, placing itself at the tip of military innovation. But despite a promising head start, the industry started declining in the 1970s and never managed to make its submarine industry self-standing.

In fact, Sweden’s submarine shipyards never produced many submarines, and thrived post-war with the building of surface ships, not subs. Over the century of its existence, Sweden has only issued three types of subs – remarkably little compared to other sub-producing countries – and only partially in some cases, such as the Japanese Soryu-class and the Singapore Archer-class. In the 1950s and 1960s, business is booming for large-scale cargo ships, increasingly needed to support the development of global trade. The surface ship profits are a lifeline for the submarine division and provide the funds necessary for development. But the oil crisis in the 1970s hits the shipyards particularly hard. The abrupt slowdown and its strategic consequences is described by defense site Global Security:

Sweden, which by 1980 had only two destroyers in commission, had gone farther than the other Nordic countries in renouncing large ships in favor of fast attack craft and submarines. The number of these latter two types had not increased since 1960, however, and, in fact, the submarine force had declined since 1974 from its previous average of 22 units to 14, despite the introduction of three Nacken-class submarines in 1979-80.”

Barely after having invested in the world’s largest crane, business grinds to a halt and destroys even the cargo ship division’s profitability – which the slow-growing submarine division needed desperately to survive. 

Swedish submarines can be divided into two categories: national subs, and export subs. The national subs are the Gotland class, sailed at present by the Swedish navy. Though they belong to the older, diesel electric era, they are considered to be modern, and high-quality warships. In fact, Sweden was the only country which was able to virtually sink a US carrier, during 2005 war games. So, the Swedes were indeed capable of making good use of their subs – but that doesn’t mean the Swedish submarine industry is healthy. Indeed, the export division shows the cancer within the industry. The only successful export submarine program was the Australian Collins class, which is deemed one of the worst in the world. In effect, the Swedish shipyards are able to produce good subs if they are placed on unlimited life-support by Stockholm. As a self-standing industry on the global market, it simply lacks the industrial capacity for quality outputs.

As an answer to this lack of industrial power, and in order to break the deadly spin of years with no contracts, Kockums partnered with German competitor ThyssenKrupp at the beginning of the century. Unfortunately, the partnership was peppered with political tension, business trickery and quickly escalated into an international drama show. After its re-acquisition by Saab in 2013, Kockums was back under Swedish control, but the damage was done, and decades have now gone by without a Swedish sub being sold. Guardian reporter Leonore Taylor covered the Australian sub-replacement debate, and reports:

PM Tony Abbott has ridiculed Sweden’s submarine-building capacity and Labor’s suggestion that the country should have been included on Australia’s submarine-purchasing shortlist, saying Sweden had only refurbished ageing submarines for the past 20 years and had not designed and built new ones.

In such a sensitive industry, years of inactivity will severely damage the quality of the workforce and compromise the outcome of future programs. Despite desperate tries to acquire new contracts, Sweden may already have entered the vicious cycle of failure begetting failure, and no one can say if the Swedish sub industry will still be around in 10 years.

In other words, the Swedes are missing the show. The global market for non-nukes is booming, as described by SWJ defense reporter Daniel Michaels:

For the first time since the cold war, the world sub fleet is growing. Driven by changing threats, surging global trade, and new technologies, countries are buying or upgrading subs, even as some scale back on land and air equipment”.

No matter how high the global demand, the Swedish shipyards will have a hard time picking up contracts with a production tool in its current state, as potential customers will fear facing the same quality problems as with the Australian Collins-class. 

It is possible that, without knowing it, Sweden’s submarine activity already be doomed. Much like a chess player who has run out of options but doesn’t know it yet, the skeleton industry in Sweden may forbid any chance of recovery. Submarine programs have lifespans that spread throughout decades. Any potential clients, which would be much needed to revive and restore naval shipyards in Sweden, may fear that the industry may simply have disappeared in 20 years’ time, which would cause the entire programs to collapse.

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Is “Lying” a Money Making Activity?

February 26th, 2019 by The Global Research Team

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Lying is a a money making activity and lies are commodities. There is a profitable global market for those committed to spreading disinformation.

Needless to say, “Telling the Truth” Is Not a Money-Making Proposition. Independent online analysis of US-led wars, rampant corruption, corporate greed, civil rights and fraudulent monetary transactions is an increasing target of online suppression and tacit censorship, our content often relegated to the bottom rung of search engine results. As a result we presently do not cover our monthly running costs which could eventually jeopardize our activities. 

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In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document.  Created under the auspices of the Department of Defence’s Intelligence Analysis Program.  The overview suggests, importantly, the interest shown in Assange by the defence wing of the United States at the time it was starting to make more than a generous ripple across the pond of information discourse.  Importantly, it suggests a direct interest of the military industrial complex in the activities of a guerrilla (read radical transparency) group.

The question it asks remains a source of ongoing interest and curiosity about the role played by WikiLeaks in the information wars: “Wikileas.org – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?”  The answer is implicit in the text: its all of the above.

The document remains salient for the persistent strategy adopted against WikiLeaks and its chief publishing head throughout.  To avoid the integrity and credibility of the information, target the man, the organisation and the method.  Suggest he is wonky, a crank, generally wobbly on principles and ethics.  Suggest, as well, that his reputation is questionable, as are his moral inclinations.

The document highlights a feature that gained momentum in the 2016 US presidential elections: that WikiLeaks might serve “as an instrument of propaganda, and is a front organisation for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).” (The only difference in 2016 was that the CIA had fallen out of the orbit of paranoid reckoning, replaced by wily Russian operatives in the US imaginary of electoral manipulation.)  Not only had the organisation denied this, there was “no evidence” mustered “to support such assertions.”

The DoD document makes the objective clear; nothing else will suffice than a campaign ranging on various fronts to target WikiLeaks and its system of obtaining and releasing information.

“The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current and former insiders, leakers or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy the center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site.”

The centre of gravity here is a critical point. It is one that is being persistently targeted, using Assange as convenient focal point of derangement, treachery and both.  The memo from Ecuadorean officials from October last year was a laundry list for model good behaviour, effectively the conditions of his continued tenancy in the embassy, along with using the internet.  Press outlets saw it as lunacy taking hold.  He had to refrain from “interfering in the internal affairs of other states” and activities “that could prejudice Ecuador’s good relations with other states.”  His pet cat also had to be looked after lest it be banished to an animal shelter. Sanitation was also noted.

Each granular detail of his fate garners international headlines in an ongoing battle of attrition.  Will he step out?  Will he seek medical treatment he urgently needs?  What will the local constabulary do?  Statements from the Metropolitan Police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggest that he will be medically tended to but will also have to face the charge of violating his bail conditions when he entered the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012.  Once that door opens, the narrow horizon to a US prison cell becomes a realistic prospect, even if it is bound to be a protracted matter.

The recent turn has also excited commentary, though it is not the same mould as the cudgel like recommendations of the 2008 DoD memo.  The Australian dissident figure of the publishing world has been granted a passport by the Australian authorities.  This was something, if only to suggest that those in Canberra, previously keen to see Assange given the roughing over, had warmed somewhat.  In 2016, the then Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop had, at the very least, offered Assange what he was due: consular assistance.

While the grant took place either last September or October, confirmation of its existence was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing.  Australian Senator Rex Patrick of the Centre Alliance pressed officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade whether they had engaged their US counterparts about possible safe passage for Assange in the event he left the embassy.

DFAT’s chief legal officer James Larsen claimed to have no knowledge of any US proceedings against Assange (untutored, mute and ill-informed is Larsen, on this subject); that being so, there was nothing to discuss.  “We are not aware, on the Australian government’s side, of any legal proceedings initiated within, or by, the United States, concerning Assange.”  Larsen had no “record before me of what our engagement with the United States is specifically concerning Mr Assange.”

What mattered were the remarks made by first assistance secretary of the Consular and Crisis Management Division.

“Mr Assange,” Andrew Todd confirmed, “does have an Australian passport.”

Some lifting of the dark had taken place, suggesting, as one of legal advisers, Greg Barnes, has been saying for some time:

“The Australian government does have a role to play in the resolution of the Julian Assange case.”

A potential stumbling block for Assange in getting a passport was section 13 of the Australian Passports Act 2005.  Facing a “serious foreign offence” within that section’s meaning would have scotched the application.  “In order to progress your application,” DFAT informed him, “we require confirmation that section 13 is not enlivened by your circumstances.  To this end, we ask that you provide us with confirmation that section 13 no longer applies to you. Until this time, your passport application will remain on hold.”

There is an element of dark farce to this.  To show that he was eligible to receive a passport, he had to show that he did not face a serious foreign offence.  But pieced evidence revealed thus far demonstrates that a US prosecution assisted by a range of security agencies has busied themselves with making sure he does face such an offence. Thankfully, WikiLeaks has not been able, in their quest for a totally transparent record, to find any relevant corroborating indictment, a point that seemed to seep through the Senate estimates hearings.  In such cases, ignorance can remain, if not blissful, then useful.

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

On Sunday morn, February 28 1813, General Ramon Correa, commander of 800 Spanish Royalist troops, sat upon his favourite Cucuta pew. While Correa communed with the Almighty, Simon Bolivar marched 400 men to hilltops overlooking Cucuta. Futile attempts to dislodge Bolivar left Correa’s men disorganised and demoralised; and left Correa sporting a head-wound. In the afternoon Bolivar, espying gaps in Cucuta’s defences and in his own ammunition stores, led a bayonet charge at the town. Panic-stricken defenders scattered; abandoning a fortified town stacked with weapons and ammunition.

The genesis of Juan Guaido’s February 23, 2019 Cucuta provocation remains murky. Re-purposing humanitarian aid missions for nefarious purposes isn’t an original idea. Staging a mass portage of USAID packages across the Colombian-Venezuelan border, however, appears to be Guaido’s brilliancy.

Venezuela rejected American aid which they ascertained to be a regime change tactic and weapons smuggling ruse. Disregarding Caracas, USAID dispatched several US Airforce cargo planes freighted with 190 tonnes of aid to warehouses in Cucuta; a Colombian city of 650,000; a few kilometres from Venezuela’s border.

Guaido’s choice of February 23 (“F23”) is significant. The Constitutional clause upon which Guaido erroneously bases his pretense to Venezuela’s presidency stipulates that the “Interim President,” which Guaido erroneously auto-proclaimed himself to be on January 23, must hold elections within 30 days of becoming Interim President. While a partisan semi-literate observer might be gulled into believing circumstances warranted an interim presidency, there is no redacting the requirements to hold an election within 30 days. F23, being the election deadline, pounded the final nail into the coffin of Guaido’s frail presidential creds. The Cucuta aid invasion was in part designed to provoke a violent spectacle to serve as evidence of Guaido’s having been physically prevented from holding an election.

The masterplan, repeatedly spouted by Guaido, involved amassing a million supporters in Cucuta and then having them triumphantly carry USAID packages passed the “usurper” Maduro’s crumbling lines. Guaido promised a “human avalanche.” He boasted signatures from hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans affirming their commitment to the Cucuta pilgrimage.

There were logistical challenges. Guaido’s support is concentrated in Caracas and Maracaibo. Caracas is a 13-hour drive from Cucuta, down a winding 870-kilometre highway. Maracaibo to Cucuta is a 7-hour drive down a 425-kilometre road. Transportation by car would require 200,000 cars, 26 million litres of gasoline, and would cause paralysing traffic jams.

Provisions presented another problem. The USAID included 100 tonnes of food. A million porters would snack this down as they strolled across the border. Further issues related to latrines and water.

Reportage hyping F23 betrayed growing unease about Guaido’s lack of planning. This disquiet surfaced days before F23 when USAID Administrator Mark Green gave an exculpatory interview stressing that his job was limited to getting aid to Cucuta. It was Guaido’s job to get that aid to Venezuela.

Rushing to Guaido’s logistical rescue came billionaire Richard Branson and several Colombian tycoons. They announced a Venezuela Aid and Freedom concert for February 22. They lined up 32 A-list performers and brought the full complement of outdoor concert amenities. The concert attracted a mainly local audience of 200,000 some of whom were cajoled into sticking around for F23’s festivities. Guaido defied his travel ban to hobnob with the celebs, and with the presidents of Chile, Paraguay and Colombia each of whom found time to attend this apolitical humanitarian concert.

On F23 eve US Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, flew to Cucuta. National Security Adviser John Bolton cancelled a Seoul meeting to fly back to the Sit-Room. USAID’s Green frantically shuttled about.

On F23 no USAID packages crossed the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Advertised throngs of hundreds of thousands of Guaido loyalists; resolved to a few thousand. Local hooligans were enticed to throw rocks and torch aid trucks. A few Venezuelan National Guards deserted; including one hero who drove his armoured vehicle into a crowd of civilians.

Over the day, doctors treated 37 demonstrators for injuries. F23 was a boutique photo-op riot. Compared to its billing F23 was a shambolic fiasco.

On F23 morn, Field Marshal Guaido made a cameo appearance; hanging off the side of a truck. He wasn’t seen again. He tweeted about an upcoming meeting with Vice President Pence in Bogota whereat Guaido promised to recommend “all options” for removing Maduro. “All options” means US invasion. Great patriot.

The second battle of Cucuta proved as much of a calamity for imperialism as the first.

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A contingent of US troops will remain deployed in Syria even after the troops withdrawal declared by President Donald Trump.

On February 21, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that “a small peacekeeping group of about 200” troops will remain in Syria for “some period of time.” By February 22, it had appeared, according to US officials quoted by mainstream media, that Sanders had underestimated the number of troops remaining. According to these reports, 200 US troops will remain in northeastern Syria and 200 others will remain in the al-Tanf base on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

By February 23, the story had developed further with the Pentagon officially declaring that the remaining US troops will be a part of the multinational force consisting of “primarily” NATO member states. While Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson, provided no manpower estimations for this force, media reports relying on US defense officials suggested that the US allies will keep from 800 to 1,500 troops.

Therefore, from 1,000 to 1,700 troops, 200-400 of whom will be US personnel, will remain deployed in the war-torn country alongside with an unknown number of private military contractors. Comparing to the current 2,000-3,000 US troops operating in Syria, this is a notable decrease. However, this is far from any kind of the rapid and full troops withdrawal announced by the US president in December 2018.

In fact, Washington is reshaping its contingent to pursue own political and military tasks in the post-ISIS Syria. The US-led coalition will also keep most of its infrastructure established in Syria, including the al-Tanf base on the Damascus-Baghdad highway. This will allow the Trump administration to achieve the following goals:

  • To limit the growth of influence of the Damascus government, Iran and Russia in northeastern Syria;
  • To keep its own proxies, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), under control and prevent any significant progress in negotiations between Damascus and the SDF in the short-term. In some cases, this may lead to the creation of a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. This entity will in fact be controlled from Washington;
  • To keep a direct action tool to influence the situation on the ground. This should strengthen the US negotiation positions in its ongoing bargain over the northeastern Syria safe zone with Turkey;
  • To continue projecting power in Syria assisting to Israel in its operations against Iranian and Iranian-backed forces.

Meanwhile, Washington also continued its diplomatic campaign against Iran. During the Warsaw conference held on February 13-14th, the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia once again attempted to establish a multi-national anti-Iran coalition to crack down on the growing regional power. This effort failed mostly because a neutral stance of EU states. However, this does not mean that the conflict between the Iran-Hezbollah bloc and the US-Israeli-Saudi alliance has any real chances to be de-escalated.

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The results were announced at 4 p.m. on Monday, February 25, the day after the referendum, and they are excellent. However, based on my visit to Cuba last September–October, during the course of the debate when people had the opportunity to revise the draft (which they DID – and moved it toward the “left”!), and during a recent visit to Havana at the end of January into early February, I am not at all surprised by the very positive results.

The campaign and the voting took place under very difficult conditions. A concerted campaign by the most diverse sectors in the U.S. and inside Cuba itself against a positive outcome constituted one of the most ferocious examples in recent history of the ideological, political and cultural war being waged against the Cuban socialist option.

For example, a former Cuban diplomat and academic resident in Havana was quoted in the corporate media just before the vote:

All this propaganda [for the Yes] has created the image of strong pressure on people to vote yes, and that if you vote no there’s something wrong with you… From what I can tell, if you add together the no votes, the ballot papers left blank or invalidated and the abstentions, we are somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the total electoral roll… That would mean only around 60 percent voted “yes.” And the valid votes would be between 70 and 80 percent, and not at 97 percent as in the local 1976 [referendum]…. The country has changed.

First, one cannot compare the results of the 1976 referendum (about 97% voter turnout with about 97% in favour of the constitution) with those of the 2019 referendum. To do so serves, wittingly or not, to purposely place the bar too high in order to discredit the current process. The historical conditions of 1976 compared with 2019 are entirely different, and beyond the scope of this short piece.

In fact, voter turnout in the national elections that take place every five years has been decreasing regularly since 1993 (99.57%) to 1998 (98.35%) to 2003 (97.64%) to 2008 (96.89%), with the most significant drop in 2013 (90.88%) and with yet a further dip for the latest elections in 2018 to 82.9%.

In the same vein as the first source quoted above, an accredited foreign journalist in Havana who actively campaigned for the “no” side or at least for abstention was also betting on the preconceived notion that Cuba has “changed” and is moving away from socialism. (By the way, no one charged this journalist for interfering in Cuba’s electoral process!) He headlined: “Cubans expected to voice unprecedented opposition in constitutional vote” – and the content went like this:

“Opposition to the new charter could reach a quarter of the vote, one Cuban analyst said, a major increase from the low single digits of past votes.”

For a third example, the CNN Havana correspondent dared to headline: “Does socialism have a future? Cubans are hitting the polls.” It goes on: “Millions of Cubans are about to tell the world ‘yes’ – or so Havana hopes.” Havana hopes? As if millions of Cubans had not already participated in the constitutional debate, when, in fact, they “changed” it to be closer to socialism and even to include the ideal of communism, which had been deleted in the draft.

This media orientation directed by the U.S.-centric view on Cuban society, which dictates that Cubans cannot really desire socialism, is part of the ideological and political war to give the impression that the “yes” vote is forced upon the Cubans by the government. To make it even more ominous, the CNN correspondent, after quoting the usual dissident sources, concludes on a very ominous note:

In one government-produced video on social media, former Cuban spy and one-time U.S. prisoner Gerardo Hernández raises the stakes. “I will vote ‘yes’ because there are two groups, the ‘yes’ and the ‘no,’” he says. “The ones calling us to vote ‘no’ are the traitorous enemies of Cuba.”

Oh, the Cubans are so scared! Big Brother is watching.

There were many other examples such as these.

What were the results and why were the soothsayers wrong?

These are the results according to the national tabulation of official vote-counting in the local electoral colleges (which I personally witnessed during elections in 1997–98 and again in 2007–8 whereby nothing is more transparent):

  • Voter turn out: 84.4% of eligible voters.
  • Yes: 86.85%
  • No: 9.0%
  • Blank or Spoiled: 4.5%

Voter turnout was higher than in the latest general elections in 2018, which, as mentioned above, registered 82.9%. One must keep in mind that the media war against the elections was less ferocious in 2018, for the most recent national parliamentarian elections, than in the February 2019 referendum. This cultural war began well before the referendum period itself. Thus, despite the adverse conditions, the February 2019 voter turnout represents, for the first time since 1993, a reversal of the trend toward lower voter turnout.

One very important factor: the 1976 referendum did not have to deal with the U.S.-led media offensive through social media, which of course did not exist in 1976.

However, the most important result:

  • Yes: 86.85%
  • No: 9.0%

This represents a very strong majority.

Thus, my very initial evaluation is that Cuba has indeed “changed” and is going through a process of change, even though it is not the type of change hoped for by some. When one considers the grassroots debates from mid-August to mid-November and the referendum campaign itself, one sees that Cuba has changed – and is changing – toward a more socialist model.

Is this part of the revival of what some thought was dead and buried, what they call “the pink tide”? The referendum vote came on the same weekend as the Bolivarian Revolution’s amazing victory against the U.S.-led coup d’état attempt (February 23) through “humanitarian aid.” Is this part of a new awakening in Latin America and the Caribbean that is represented by changes that strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of the Cuban and Bolivarian Revolutions? We will see in the coming weeks and months, as events are unfolding rapidly. I am optimistic.

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Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 ElectionsCuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and the recently released  Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. As a journalist he collaborates with many web sites in Latin America, Europe and North America including Global ResearchTwitterFacebook, His website:  www.arnoldaugust.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from the author.

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An Arizona lawmaker is renewing his push to halt uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, outlining a proposal Saturday that would make permanent a moratorium on new claims across 1 million acres of public lands.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva has introduced other versions of what he’s calling the “Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act” several times in recent years, but he’s likely to find stronger support this time in the Democratic-controlled House, where he is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.

On Saturday, he pitched the idea at the Canyon, flanked by Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi and Navajo tribal leaders, in a building near the park’s South Rim that was packed with park visitors, tribal members and environmental advocates.

“Protecting the canyon is just, it’s overdue and it’s life-affirming,” Grijalva said, gesturing to the group. “The public wants us to do it, the economies of the region need it and the Grand Canyon’s future depends on it.”

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar imposed the original 20-year moratorium on new mining claims in 2012.

Grijalva made the announcement just days before the 100th anniversary of the Canyon’s status as a national park, and just days after news broke about buckets full of uranium ore sitting in a South Rim museum, exposing visitors and employees to small amounts of radiation.

Tribal leaders line up behind bill

The presence of the tribal leaders signaled the importance of the Canyon to surrounding indigenous communities. Some of the tribes are still dealing with the effects of uranium mines that sickened or killed people who lived or worked nearby. Tribal leaders fear new mines could further contaminate the environment.

Richard Powskey, a Hualapai tribal council member, said protecting the Grand Canyon’s regional watershed has been a decades-long effort that the communities are not ready to give up.

“This water cannot continue to be threatened by these mining operations,” Powskey said, adding that native people are the most affected. “The damage from these mines lasts for a while and brings lasting health concerns and other adverse effects.”

Ethan Aumack, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust, an advocacy group, said contaminated water is pumped from one operation, the Canyon Mine, even though it has not produced new ore for years.

Mines, he said, “are inactive because uranium remains too costly to mine.” The group has released a new report arguing that uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region is not necessary for national security.

“It is uneconomic,” Aumack said. “And it is a threat to our tourism-based economies.”

Uranium mining is a toxic and touchy topic for Arizona politicians, who laud the cultural significance the Grand Canyon holds for tribes, as well as the ecological importance as the cradle of the Colorado River.

But the rich uranium deposits sitting outside the park’s boundaries are highly sought after and many local leaders believe the state can pursue economic interests while also preserving the Canyon.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order about two years ago that told federal agencies to examine policies that could slow energy development on public lands. One of those recommendations was reversing the moratorium on uranium mining near the park, which has been upheld in court.

While existing claims remain for now, Republican lawmakers have pushed to lift the ban, which would open up 1 million acres around the Canyon to developers.

Gosar: Bill is ‘misguided quest’

One of the harshest critics of the moratorium is Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. Gosar, who has called the mining of uranium a “national security issue” and vital to the United States’ energy independence, took aim at Grijalva’s bill in a statement, calling it a “misguided quest.”

In that same statement, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., members of the Congressional Western Caucus and mining stakeholders condemned the proposed bill and reiterated their opposition to the restrictions on a huge reserve of breccia pipes in the Grand Canyon region. Some of those pipes are essentially plugs of high-quality uranium, which Gosar stressed are “far outside” the canyon.

“There is no reason America should be importing 97 percent of our uranium necessary for domestic reactors from countries with Russian influence when we have an ample supply here at home,” Gosar said in the statement, adding that it would create jobs and provide energy to communities. “At a time when we should be celebrating the Centennial of the Grand Canyon, Rep. Grijalva’s bogus effort distracts from what should be a joyous bipartisan celebration.”

While energy independence is on the minds of Democrats and conservationists like Grijalva, they say the risk from mining is not worth potentially damaging the delicate and thriving ecosystem that inhabits one of mankind’s timeless treasures.

Efforts to push the permanent ban through Congress have stalled in recent years, never earning a hearing from a Republican-controlled House. Grijalva said he was confident he could get it to the floor of the Democratic House. If passed, it would be placed in the hands of a Republican-led Senate and face a doubtful future.

The draft bill already has a cosponsor, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., who stressed the connection people in Arizona have to the Canyon and implored people to think about the merits of the projects, some of which are within walking distance of the canyon.

“This is not what America is about,” O’Halleran said, referring to the lasting environmental damage of some of these mines. “The health of our children needs to come first, it cannot be a second thought.”

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Andrew Nicla covers the environment for the Republic. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @AndrewNicla.

Featured image: U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (third-from-right) stands with tribal leaders at the Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Grijalva, D-Arizona, was at the Grand Canyon Saturday to announce his Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which would permanently ban uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. (Photo11: Thomas Hawthorne/The Republic)

We discussed in the previous article how China and Russia are using diplomatic, economic and military means in areas like Asia and the Middle East to contain the belligerence and chaos unleashed by the United States. In this analysis, we will examine the extent to which this strategy is working in Europe. In the next and final article, we will look at the consequences of the “America First” doctrine in relation to South America and the Monroe Doctrine.

The United States has in the last three decades brought chaos and destruction to large parts of Europe, in spite of the common myth that the old continent has basked in the post-WWII peace of the American-led world order. This falsehood is fueled by European politicians devoted to the European Union and eager to justify and praise the European project. But history shows that the United States fueled or directed devastating wars on the European continent in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, with the conflict between Georgia and Ossetia at the beginning of the 1990s, with the war in Georgia in 2008, and in the coup in Ukraine in 2014, with the ensuing aggression against the Donbass.

The major problem for Washington’s European allies has always been summoning the will to contain US imperialism. For many years, especially since the end of the Cold War, European countries have preferred to defer to Washington’s positions, confirming their status as colonies rather than allies. It is fundamental to recognize that European politicians have always been at the service of Washington, eager to prostrate themselves to American exceptionalism, favoring US interests over European ones.

The wars on the European continent are a clear demonstration of how Washington used Europe to advance her own interests. The abiding goal of the neocons and the Washington establishment has been to deny any possibility of a rapprochement between Germany and Russia, something that could potentially result in a dangerous axis threatening Washington’s interests. The war of aggression against Yugoslavia represented the deathblow to the Soviet republics, an effort to banish the influence of Moscow on the continent. The subsequent war in Ossetia, Georgia and Ukraine had the double objective of attacking and weakening the Russian Federation as well as creating a hostile climate for Moscow in Europe, limiting economic and diplomatic contacts between East and West.

In recent years, especially following the coup in Ukraine, the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation, and Kiev’s terrorist action against the Donbass, relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated to historically low levels.

The election of Trump has sent confusing signals to the Europeans vis-a-vis Russia. Initially Trump seemed intent on establishing good relations with Putin in the face of strong opposition from European allies like France, Germany and the UK. But the possibility of a US-Russia rapprochement has been severely undermined by a combination of Trump’s inexperience, the unhelpful advisors he has appointed, and the US deep state. This geopolitical upheaval has had two primary consequences. For the Germans, first and foremost, it has deepened energy and economic cooperation with Moscow, especially in relation to the Nord Stream 2. But on the other hand, Trump has found friends in European countries hostile to Russia like Poland.

The divergences between the US and Europe have widened with Washington’s withdrawal from a number of important treaties like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) and Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, both of which have a direct impact on Europe in terms of security and the economy. Donald Trump and his “America First” attitude has thereby afforded Europeans some space to maneuver and establish some level of autonomy, resulting in increasing synergies with Moscow and especially Beijing.

In economic terms, China has offered Europe (with Greece as a prime example) full integration into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a project with vast possibilities for increasing trade among dozens of countries. Europe will become the main market for Chinese goods, but at the moment one of the greatest obstacles to be overcome can be seen in the freight trains, which often start their journey towards Europe full but are half-empty on their return journey to China. Beijing and the major European capitals are well aware that to make the BRI project economically sustainable, this exchange must go in both directions so that both sides gain.

The technological interconnection between China and Europe is already happening thanks to Huawei devices that are being purchased by European companies in increasing numbers. The absence of back doors in Huawei systems, in contrast to what Snowden has shown with other Western systems, is the real reason why Washington has declared war on this Chinese company. Industrial espionage is a priceless advantage enjoyed by the United States, and the presence of backdoors on Western systems, to which the CIA and NSA have access, guarantees a competitive advantage allowing Washington to excel in terms of technology. With the spread of Huawei systems this advantage is lost, to the chagrin of Washington’s spy apparatus. European allies understand the potential advantage to be gained and are protecting themselves with the Chinese systems.

In technological terms, Beijing’s efforts are proving very successful in Europe and are paving the way for future physical integration in the BRI. In this sense, the participation of such European countries as the UK, France, Germany and Italy in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) also shows how the prospect of Chinese capital investments are of great interest to troubled European economies.

In the military field, the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty threatens the safety of European countries because of the measures adopted by the Russian Federation to guarantee necessary protection from US systems deployed in Europe. A proverb states that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Europe, as the potential battlefield in any great-power confrontation, has the most to lose from a renewed cold war that could turn hot. Moscow’s revelation of its new generation of weapons has caused anxiety among Europeans who worry that their lives may be sacrificed in order to please Americans who are thousands of miles away. At the same time, the Americans want to get rid of NATO while demanding that the Europeans spend more on American weapons and also limit Sino-Russian investments in Europe. It is likely that the breakdown of the INF Treaty, combined with the conventional and nuclear capabilities of Moscow, will boost diplomatic talks between Russia and Europe without the US being able to sabotage future agreements. Some European countries are keen to be rid of the policy of subordinating their interests to that of Washington, especially with regards to security.

Russia cleverly uses two decisive instruments to limit Washington’s influence on Europe and contain the chaos produced by its foreign-policy establishment. Firstly, it has the strength of its own conventional and nuclear arsenal that acts as a deterrent against excessive provocations. Secondly, it has huge deposits of oil and LNG that it exports to the European market in considerable quantities. The combination of these two factors allows Moscow to contain the chaos unleashed by the US in such places as Georgia or Ukraine as well as limit US influence on internal European affairs, as can be seen in the case of Germany and the Nord Stream 2 project. Merkel is forced to concede that in spite of her demonisation of Moscow, Berlin cannot do away with Russia’s supply of energy. This has increased tensions between Berlin and Washington, with the US eager to replace Russian gas with its own much more expensive LNG shipped all the way across the Atlantic.

Chinese economic power, combined with Russia’s military deterrence as well as European reliance on Russia for its energy supply, shows that Europe cannot afford to follow its American ally in acting provocatively against the Sino-Russian axis. Europe has, moreover, suffered from US wars in the Middle East and the waves of migrants brought on by this. Small shoots of strategic autonomy can be seen in the creation of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), an alternative payment system to the dollar to work around sanctions against Iran. The little or no diplomatic support extended to Ukraine’s anti-Russia stance by France and Germany could be seen as another sign of the Europeans becoming more independent. The recent Munich Security Conference, with Poroshenko in attendance, further confirmed that Merkel intends to rely on Russian gas supplies in the interests of energy diversification.

The combined diplomatic, military and economic actions of Russia and China in Europe are decidedly more limited and effective in Europe compared to other parts of the world like the Middle East and Asia. Political rhetoric, amplified by the media, that is against cooperation between Europe, Russia and China, only serves the interests of the United States. Russia and China are succeeding by proposing viable alternatives to Washington’s unipolar world order, extending to European countries a strategic liberty that would otherwise not be available to them in a Washington-directed unipolar world order.

It is still not clear whether the European capitals are turning to Moscow out of anti-Trump rather than anti-American sentiment. It remains to be seen whether these changes are temporary and await the return to the US presidency of someone who believes in liberal hegemony, or whether the changes underway are the first in a series of upheavals that will progressively reshape the world order from unipolar to multipolar, with Europe clearly being one of the main poles.

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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 SCF

Bi-partisanship between neoliberals and conservatives built the monster we now call ‘mass incarceration.’ No so-called ‘progressive prosecutor’ can or will unbuild it. That’s because it took the entire system – DAs, judges, cops, defense lawyers, and prison administrators, not to mention the media, to collaborate on a monstrous project like mass incarceration. Only mass resistance can abolish mass incarceration.”– Mumia Abu Jamal (February 16 2019 speech to Yale Law School`s Rebellious Lawyering Conference.) [1]

There are so many injustices in this system, man, about the things they do to people, the harm they cause to people. It’s not just MOVE that are treated horribly like this.” – Mike Africa Sr, MOVE 9 member interviewed in this week`s program

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U.S. President Donald Trump saluted “National African American History Month” in a February 1st tweet:

This from the president who has characterized Mexican immigrants as “criminals and rapists”, demanded a Muslim ban, and avoided renouncing known white supremacists like former KKK leader David Duke. [2]

Previous to becoming president, Trump had established a track record that was anything but evolved in terms of reconciling the divide between people of color and whites in his country. In the 70s, his family’s real estate company was sued twice by the U.S. Justice Department for rental practices that discriminated against black applicants. Workers at his Atlantic City casinos would accuse him of making racist remarks about black people, even removing African-American card dealers at the discretion of high rolling customers. In one notorious case from 1989, he spent $85,000 on newspaper ads calling for the return of the death penalty and for the execution of the so called Central Park five, five youths of colour who were intimidated by authorities at the time into confessing to a rape they never committed. [3][4]

There are legitimate concerns about what Trump’s past activities will mean for vulnerable minorities, especially as economic conditions worsen, and scapegoating becomes fashionable. However, the impulse to make Trump an exclusive focus of anti-racist organizing by, for example, campaigning for more progressives and people of colour, such as the newly minted Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could conceivably distract the nation from structural and systemic violence that has festered through ‘hope and change’ President Barrack Obama.

As mentioned in an October 2018 edition of this radio program, such structural racism includes racialized policing and a system of mass incarceration that has seen blacks imprisoned at a rate nearly five times higher than their white counterparts. The Black Lives Matter Movement which sprung up in opposition to police shooting unarmed black youth, seemingly with impunity, erupted under the administration of America’s first black president.

On the occasion of Black History Month, this week’s Global Research News Hour radio program attempts to take the temperature of the struggle for racial and social justice two years into the Trump presidency with three provocative interviews.

Our first guest, Glen Ford, directly addresses the question of how Trump can be a potential distraction from more fundamental grassroots organizing, and lays out his appraisal of how meaningful change can and is being achieved.

Our next guest, Suzanne Ross of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal brings listeners up to speed on a new opportunity and setback for the campaign to free America’s most high profile political prisoner.

At the midpoint of the program we hear a brief excerpt from a speech by Mumia Abu Jamal, recorded and presented to Yale Law School’s Rebellious Lawyering Conference. This was in place of speaker Larry Krassner who was disinvited following his efforts as District Attorney to sabotage Mumia’s case.

Finally, we end the show with an exclusive interview with two members of the MOVE 9, Debbie Africa and Mike Africa Sr, along with their son Mike Africa Jr. The family now re-united after more than 40 years detail their own recollections of the incident for which they were falsely accused of murder, their ordeal behind prison walls, and their reflections on what has and has not changed in the outside world since 1978.

Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America’s Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report where he continues to serve as executive editor. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

Suzanne Ross is a New York City based clinical psychologist, a long-time anti-imperialist activist and representative of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Debbie Africa and Mike Africa Sr. are two members of the organization known as MOVE, a black liberation group founded by John Africa which embraces revolutionary ideology and embraces a philosophy of protecting life, both human and non-human. The couple were arrested along with seven others following an August 1978 raid on the group’s communal home which left a police officer dead. All members of the MOVE 9 have denied criminal wrongdoing. Two of the nine died in jail. Five are remain in prison. Their son Mike Jr. is actively working to seek justice for the MOVE 9. Find out more on his site mikeafricajr.com.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 249)

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Transcript – Interview with released MOVE 9 members Debbie Africa and Mike Africa Sr, and their son Mike Africa Jr., February 20, 2019.

Part One

Global Research: In Philadelphia, August 8th 1978, in a predawn raid, hundreds of Philly police officers converged on the home of the MOVE family in the Powelton Village neighborhood. Battering rams and at least four high-pressure firehoses were used against the occupants. During an exchange of gunfire which ensued, one Philadelphia police officer, James Ramp, was shot and killed. The Philadelphia court system found the 9 adults in the communal household criminally responsible for the killing and charged them with 3rd-degree murder. This in spite of the fact that ballistics revealed Ramp had been shot at a downward angle, while the alleged perpetrators were in the basement of the house, below Ramp.

Last year, after spending four decades in prison, two of the MOVE 9 were released on parole, fully ten years after being eligible. Debbie Africa was released in June, and her partner Mike Africa Sr released four months later. With two members having died while in prison, that leaves five still behind bars and prison walls for the crime that they have continually asserted they never committed. For the first time since their early 20s, Debbie and Mike Sr, now in their 60s, have been reunited with their children and grandchildren, and can once again walk the streets freely. The Global Research News Hour welcomes Debbie, Mike Sr, and Mike Jr to our program.

It’s a pleasure to have you on our show, thank you so much for making the time to speak with our listeners

Mike Africa Sr: You got it, man! On a move!

Debbie Africa: On A Move!

GR: Debbie, Mike Sr, please, if you could, could you convey to our listeners the feelings that you experienced on having finally being released and being reunited with each other and with your kids and grandkids for the first time after 40 years behind prison walls?

DA: Relief. I always tell the story that when I was first sent to prison in …1978, my oldest child was only 2 years, she wasn’t even 2 years old yet. And Michael Jr wasn’t born yet. So, I was pregnant with him. I had a two year old baby that I was holding when the raid took place, and she was taken from me. And – my daughter was taken from me.

And, without even realizing how long I felt so heavy, when I finally got released it was like a weight just came off of my heart, and that’s really all I can explain to you. As soon as I walked out that door, Michael Jr was there and the family was there – his wife, his children, which are my grandchildren, it was just like the weight was just lifted up off of my heart … it was just a really great feeling, to know that they finally, finally did something they were supposed to do. Release us.

MAS: Yeah, well for me, it was relief also, to say that we had waited for all these decades sometimes feeling that it wasn’t even gonna happen. And I did not believe that it was happening until – even when we was granted parole – I still didn’t believe it would happen until I was finally out that door on the road with my son in the car. At that point, is when I finally believed that it had happened. It was due all to a lot of hard work from Mike Jr, and a lot of family, and a lot of friends, a lot of supporters. So, I was euphoric, man, it was really, really nice.

GR: And Mike Jr, maybe you’d like to comment on this day finally having arrived, I mean I’m sure its something you’ve dreamed up for literally your entire life. Anything that you experienced that maybe you hadn’t anticipated or expected?

Mike Africa Jr: Yeah well, I mean it was the same thing for me… Trying to get something done and it not happening, you know, for a long time, so to actually finally get to that point, and actually be able to watch my parents walk out of the prison, rather than be carried out, or rather than be wheeled out… It was a big thing. It was important. It was a relief for me too.

GR: Debbie and Mike Sr, could you maybe just take us back to that raid in 1978. I mean we’ve all heard the clinical account. But I was curious to know about the memories that have stuck with you from that day and that have haunted you in the decades since, of what you saw and experienced on that horrible day.

MAS: Ah, well it was a lot of chaos. A lot of confusion. It was mostly just dark, because there was a lot of tear gas and smoke and shouting and babies crying and dogs barking. It was a lot of confusion, man. It was a horrible, horrible day. I just remember, you know, it was so dark you couldn’t see anything in the basement, because as I said they had shot in smoke and tear gas, so we couldn’t breathe either.

And they had a lot of deluge hoses, and I don’t know if you are familiar with those but they were strong enough, the force of the water was strong enough to take bricks out of the walls, so you had to shield yourself from that… They were shooting from all directions coming in at us. So, it was just a terrible day, man. It was a miracle that we survived and we came out of there and that none of our children were killed. So it was just a hard day for us.

GR: Debbie, I mean you as I understand it, you were clutching your baby at the time, this is before Mike was born, maybe you have some recollections from that time as well.

DA: Well, it was scary that’s for sure. It was scary. It was scary being pregnant, and holding a baby, and watching other women who had babies and young children. It was pretty scary. We’re not really at liberty to talk about it at length, because there is still litigation going on as far as the whole issue with that day.

You know it was also a tragic day for the officer who lost his life, and MOVE never, ever, ever, ever willed nothing like that to happen. There has never ever been in our frame of mind, our frame of work, our frame of network, to have anything like that ever happen to anybody. MOVE… is about life, about protecting life, and that’s what we’re about. That’s what our whole purpose is, to protect life. Not to encourage life to be destroyed or killed.

For me, all I can say is, it was a really scary day, and I didn’t think we were coming out of that house alive. I don’t even know how we came out of that house alive, except for the fact – to say that it had to be a miracle.

GR: Yes, could you talk, both of you, about the time you spent in prison. It must have been particularly difficult, given that as MOVE members you had a special diet and routines that were probably not compatible with what was being forced on you. What did you and your fellow incarcerated MOVE members have to put up with, and how did you cope for the past 40 years?

DA: Well, we pretty much had to eat really what the prison served. Aside from being down at county for three years, myself and my other MOVE sisters who were down there, we had to eat what they served, however we were able to obtain some, a few of the vegetables and fruits that we did normally eat on the street for those 3 years while we were in the county. But, once we went upstate, we would just had to eat pretty much what everybody else had to eat. That’s just the way it was.

So, the food wasn’t the healthiest food to eat. You know, you hardly got any raw foods at all – I mean, vegetables. Everything was canned. We didn’t really have the option until years and years later of what you could eat, and even the commissary that you bought food or snacks from, the snacks weren’t the healthiest to buy either, up until like I said, like a few years maybe before I came home.

MAS: Well, prisons – the conditions of prison are pretty well known, man, and we’re not the only victims of a system that jails people who are innocent. Just recently, another person was released from death row after doing 28 years by the current District Attorney. And the food is historically horrible. So these are well known things.

Not as well known is the need for prison reform, which once we did settle in, we were always fighting for our freedom. Always fighting to expose an injust system. But what I settled then on, what we settled then on is a lot of prison reform. A lot of things to expose, and to help people gain their freedom, and understand that while they’re – might be working on their individual cases, there’s a need to address systems that systemically represses certain people, and we worked hard to address those issues, and we did that even before we were jailed in the first place, which is another reason why we were attacked in the first place.

So, this is something that we’re still continuing to do right now. We were very much interested and active in the issue of prison reform.

GR: And your interactions with other inmates… people who were also in prison. Were you able to interact with them and help continue the cause through your interactions with the people who were also in custody?

MAS: Yeah, very much so. Right now we still have people that now want their release, they just had an issue with a juvenile lifer. In Pennsylvania in the United States they had a ruling where they found it unconstitutional for a juvenile lifer to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. So, many of them have been released over the last couple of years, and over the years, I had been in touch with many of them, we had all – all the MOVE people in prison – had been in touch with a lot of them, mentoring them, and keeping them out of some dire situations, and protecting them from some dire situations, and they still come up to us to this day, thanking us about those issues. This is something that we continue to do now – mentoring people who’s freshly released, and staying in contact with some of the people, now.

DA: Um, I do have a story to tell about that too. One day, I was waiting for the bus, to go some place, and Michael Sr was with me. When I got on the bus, the bus driver just kept looking, and he kept looking. He said, “I know that guy! I know that guy!” He said, “Wow,” he said, “Man, that’s a strong brother!” And he looked at me, and he said, he said, “Man, y’all are really strong people!” And what he did was he recognized him from being released, and he recognized him from a friend of his telling him who he was and how he had taken care of his friend while he was in jail. And he just was in awe of just seeing him on the street because he remembered when he was released. And this is the kind of response that we’re still getting on the street from people that mostly had been in there with Mike – Mike Sr.

I mean we were in the supermarket just about 2 weeks ago and, you know they got, a guy walked up to him and says, “Dang!” You know? “Mike!” You know just friendly, and just always just so happy and the first thing they say is, “Man if it wasn’t for you,” he said, “Man, I would have been in some bad trouble. Mike, you really kept me straight!” You know? And these are the examples that we run into, like all the time.

Intermission

Part Two

GR: There’s a question that’s been burning in my mind and I just have to ask you. You know there’s a saying that everyone who was alive at the time remembers where they were and what they were doing the day Kennedy was assassinated. Talk about that day in 1985 when you heard that the MOVE home on Osage Avenue had been fired on and bombed by the police, killing eleven of your family members including six adults and five children, including your group’s founder John Africa. Could you share your feelings on that day? How you got the news and how you processed that information?

DA: I remember very well where I was at. Myself and the two MOVE women who had children in that house in 1985, we were all in solitary confinement at the time, 1985. We were all locked behind a gate. We were all in solitary confinement with only one hour out for recreation a day. And we were given the news by an officer who just came by each of our cells and said, “There was a fire bombing and your child is dead.” That’s the way we got the news. And, in fact, let me think, it was three of them, it was Sue, Janine and Janet whose children were in that house May 13th and that’s how we got the news.

MAS: Well, for me I was in Huntingdon prison in 1985, and I was watching it unfold on either CNN or some – yeah it had to be CNN because it wasn’t local up there. And I was just watching in disbelief, you know, and I didn’t um, I never believed what I was seeing. Never believed that our people were actually gone, until I talked to some people, some MOVE people later. Sometimes I had, I was, left the TV set to call home and I talked to a couple of the members of the organization. And they confirmed some things and that was a very horrible, horrible hard day.

GR: Yeah that ..it must have been quite horrible to have to …to get that news and then, you know, you’re continued incarceration goes on. Might I ask, how do you make sense of your release now, forty years later, and ten years after being eligible for parole?

MAS: Well the sense of it is that we should have never been – as you mentioned in your opening statement – that we should have never been convicted in the first place. That it took 40 years… that’s a system that needs reform. That it should make more than MOVE people incensed. It should make more people than MOVE concerned about prison reform. That it does not, speaks volumes of the system not MOVE people.

That we were speaking on it in the beginning before August 8th, before May 20th, before any historical record about or any confrontations between MOVE and the city of Philadelphia, should speak volumes about the MOVE organization. Because we were aware of it before. We had stickers going on envelopes before. We were doing things in the community before this became a hot topic it is today. And thanks to MOVE’s founder John Africa, we got on this issue and stayed on this issue and warned people about this issue back then. That he encouraged MOVE people, and opened the eyes of MOVE people, and made people aware of it, and MOVE people have committed themselves to this issue.

So, it’s no surprise that it took 40 years. Some people – there are so many injustices in this system, man, about the things they do to people, the harm they cause to people. It’s not just MOVE that are treated horribly like this.

You know, so many things are not addressed in this system. You know, the child abuse. The child trafficking. There are so many missing people in society. You have DACA. You have the environment that is treated so horribly and disdainfully. Um, you have water. You remember the situation in Detroit, you might have heard up there. And Michigan… they had dirty water that they were saying was safe for children to drink, and of course it was dirty, you could see that it was dirty, and now all these children had brain damage from lead poisoning, and they are still trying to wash their hands of that situation.

So it’s not surprising at all that they would treat one organization who speaks out against this in a horrible manner that they had. Or that it took forty years for them to correct a wrong that never should have been in the first place.

GR: There have been of course a lot of changes in the world – in your city. What struck you the most about what’s changed from the time you were jailed in ‘78, and what you are seeing around you now in 2019?

DA: Well, what was… I dunno if the word ‘striking’ is the right word for it but, what was quite offensive to me, but not surprising to me, was the fact that we had to drink water out of a bottle and buy it. You know something that’s just so, should be, supposedly, like the foods used to be, free and abundant for all of life, all of humans, to be able to endure, is bottled up, and sold for a profit. Something that you need in order to live. You cannot live without water. You cannot live without food. However, we’ve lived… in an environment, in a country, in a world that has prostituted the God-given food by nature, for centuries. For centuries! And so we’re pretty much used to having to buy food.

However when we go back years and years ago, and you read these books, even the Bible, you will see that you just go to a garden and pick food and eat it and survive. Well, that same mentality that caused man – the mentality of man – to take food from the earth that’s given to us plentiful, that prostituted the earth and put it in a supermarket, in order for us to have to buy it, is a sin.

And so although we were used to that from growing up, we just kind of accepted it, that you had to buy food from a supermarket, rather than just take it from the ground for free. Well when you come into the world now, after forty years, seeing that the water is actually bottled up and you have to buy is equally a sin, if not more of a sin. It’s disturbing, this is the way the system is going, this is the way humanity is going, and it is definitely a violation of our beliefs, and it’s a violation of …every God given creature, on this earth, because it shouldn’t be that way. So, that was the most obnoxious, you know, disturbing thing to me.

MAS: We know with technology comes more distortion, and more imbalance, and more imposition on the planet. And that is what we are seeing. You know, you can’t go outside in the summertime without, almost, you know, you almost turn into the bubble boy. You got to have some protection from life. And that’s what, you know, all these so-called advances has caused on the planet, where everything is, you know, the Arctic looks like Florida!

So, I’m not really concentrating on the changes, I’m concentrating on the things that are constant, that remain the same. You know the loyalty in people, the good in people, activism in people, and the people who will always take the chance and time and effort to speak out against the power that oppresses. No, I’m not concentrating on any of the changes, any of the new technology, you know that they call advancements, because I know the only thing that is advancing is a faster demise of the planet.

So, the things that are constant, the love of my family, of people’s families, and letting animals be animals, and you know, have their territories, and just letting people be, man, without restriction. And I’m concentrating on the hugs I get from my family, not the technology, not the advancements, the love of my family, and that’s constant. It’s the same forty years ago as it is today.

GR: I want to thank you for sharing with us. Before we close, is there any message you have for our listeners who wish to show their solidarity with your cause, and with the MOVE family, what would you like to say to them?

MAJ: This is Mike Jr. For people who want to get involved and want to help out with what we are doing, you can go to my website, mikeafricajr.com, and at that website, you can find links to the things that we are working on now. We started a non-profit called the Seed of Wisdom Foundation in which we are working with people and young people and trying to get people to learn how to eat healthy and physical activity and all that kind of stuff. You can also find out more information about the MOVE organization and upcoming events, and how to get involved and how to support. All the information that you need, you can go to mikeafricajr.com.

GR: Ok. Well Debbie, Mike Sr, Mike Jr, it’s been a unique privilege to speak with you. I wish you all the best in your endeavors. I believe you are doing a bit of touring. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.

MAS: Thank you man!

DA: You’re welcome, and thank you for inviting us!

MAJ: See you next time!

GR: We’ve been speaking with two of the recently released members of MOVE 9, Debbie Africa, and Mike Africa Sr, as well as their son Mike Africa Jr. They joined us from their home just outside of Philadelphia.

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Notes: 

  1. https://www.prisonradio.org/media/audio/mumia/rebel-lawyers-speech-mumia-abu-jamal-1005
  2. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83
  3. ibid
  4. Oliver Laughland (Feb. 17, 2016), ‘Donald Trump and the Central Park Five: the racially charged rise of a demagogue’, The Guardian; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/17/central-park-five-donald-trump-jogger-rape-case-new-york

“Arab NATO” Isn’t NATO-like at All

February 26th, 2019 by Andrew Korybko

It’s become popular over the past few years to talk about the so-called “Arab NATO” that the US is reportedly trying to assemble in the Mideast to militarily contain Iran, but the actual entity being created doesn’t resemble its European predecessor at all. Rather, it appears as though the NATO branding was tacked onto it in order to simplify the purpose of this emerging alliance, not to accurately describe its intra-organizational workings or anything else related to NATO for that matter. In order to understand why everyone has it so wrong whenever they talk about the “Arab NATO”, it’s necessary to list off the main differences between these two structures.

Here’s what defines the original NATO:

  • Formed after World War II;
  • A directly US-led military alliance;
  • Unprecedented at the time;
  • A common/central operational command;
  • A “captured market” for US arms.

Compare that to what the “Arab NATO” is beginning to look like:

  • Forming without a regional war having taken place;
  • Modelled off of the “Lead From Behind” strategy of back-end, indirect US support;
  • Built upon the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC);
  • Divided between Saudi Arabia and the UAE;
  • Military diversification after recent deals with Russia and China.

For all their differences, here’s what the two alliances have in common:

  • Predominant American strategic influence;
  • Common foes (USSR/Russia and Iran, respectively);
  • Key component of larger geopolitical containment strategies;
  • Based along the Eurasian Rimland;
  • Multilateral military integration between regional partners.

Dual Redundancies

Unlike NATO at the moment of its inception, the “Arab NATO” is doubly redundant because two interconnected military structures already exist that preceded it. The GCC has gradually been transitioning from an economic group to a military one over the past few decades, but then Saudi Arabia unveiled its transregional Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) in 2015 stretching from West Africa to Southeast Asia. The latter entity is comprised of Saudi-friendly countries all across the Eastern Hemisphere’s strategically positioned “Islamic Belt”, but it has thus far appeared to be more of a symbolic creation than anything substantive. In any case, the GCC and IMCTC already exist and make one wonder what exactly it is that the US wants to achieve with the “Arab NATO”.

The Containment Core

It can’t be known for certain, but it seems like the US intends for the GCC to simply rebrand as the “Arab NATO”, whether officially or not, since the countries that are usually included in this plan are oftentimes the same ones. This suggests that the US wants to strengthen the IMCTC’s core and hopefully one day turn that larger aforementioned organization into a gigantic proxy against Iran and other Muslim targets all across the Eastern Hemisphere, though this is much easier said than done for several reasons. Here are the most basic challenges facing the US’ strategic efforts to transform the GCC into an “Arab NATO” and then expand that entity all throughout the IMCTC’s member states:

  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the “core of the core”, are in a “friendly competition” with one another;
  • “Peripheral members” of the “GCC+” like Egypt and Jordan would first have to officially join the GCC;
  • Israel’s behind-the-scenes support of the “Arab NATO” is controversial without peace in Palestine;
  • Some of the IMCTC’s members such as Pakistan don’t want to be “contract soldiers” for the US;
  • It takes years of training, coordination, and trust-building to form an effective multinational alliance.

Being mindful of these serious challenges, it’s unlikely that the US will ever succeed in anything more than strengthening military coordination between the GCC’s members, which is already difficult enough as it is seeing as how Saudi Arabia and the UAE are basically waging two separate but semi-coordinated campaigns in Yemen. Neither of those two countries wants to enter into a position where they cede military sovereignty to the other, let alone to the US, so the very optics of an “Arab NATO” are an obstacle in and of themselves. It’s possible that they might put aside their sensitivities for symbolism’s sake, but in that case, they wouldn’t be an “Arab NATO”, but rather a strengthened GCC.

*

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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.

Featured image: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Sunday, May 21, 2017, to participate in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As Congress and the public debate the pros and cons of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or New NAFTA, behind the scenes and in the shadows transnational corporations are doubling down on their plans to weaken and eliminate public protections through a related entity, the secretive Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). This little-known council has the mission of promoting trade by “reducing, eliminating or preventing unnecessary regulatory differences” between Canada and the United States. Since the RCC’s inception, agribusiness—including factory-farmed livestock producers, the feed industry, and chemical and pesticide manufacturers and linked transportation businesses—has had a seat at the regulatory cooperation table. Their focus, without exception, has been advocating the scaling back and even elimination of important safety protections in both countries. In the U.S., recommendations made by the RCC feed directly into regulations enacted (or eliminated) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

Cross-border regulatory cooperation activities aimed at eliminating so-called “non-tariff barriers” to trade—standards that can increase the cost of importing products that don’t meet another country’s health and safety protections, or prevent the import altogether—began following the signing of the original NAFTA. Initially, informal working groups were established to harmonize pesticide and other regulations. The RCC was formally created in 2011 by an Executive Order from President Obama, and proceeded to establish work plans to harmonize U.S. and Canadian regulations in 23 policy areas, including meat and plant inspections, food safety, workplace chemicals, chemicals management, rail safety and transport of dangerous goods. The RCC was revitalized in June 2017 by the Trump and Trudeau administrations with a new Memorandum of Understanding.

The Trump administration recently sought comment from “stakeholders” on what the RCC’s activities and focus should be going forward. It is very clear that the administration’s RCC initiative is part of its broader deregulatory plan. The U.S. request for comment specifically states that international regulatory cooperation initiatives “may serve deregulatory functions and help agencies achieve the objectives of Executive Order 13771.” This executive order “requires that, for each fiscal year, agencies must identify in their Regulatory Plans offsetting regulations for each regulation that increases incremental cost” and at a minimum, must repeal two regulations for every one that is adopted. The Trump government intends for the RCC process to promote these regulatory rollbacks.

Predictably, the RCC stakeholder submissions were mostly from transnational corporations and industry associations. Most of the public, as well as many food, consumer and environmental groups, have never heard of the RCC. (IATP’s comments were among very few from civil society.) The corporate commenters have a consistent message, which mirrors that of the Trump administration: Use the RCC to get rid of regulations. Many also see the RCC as a mechanism for implementing new restrictions on public protections that are part of the New NAFTA. Here are some of the most egregious industry asks:

  • All inspections of imported meat at the border should be eliminated. In their joint comments on the RCC, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and Canadian Meat Council (CMC) said that “microbial and residue testing of meat products at the border should be eliminated” in order to facilitate trade, and opined that “Free Trade Agreements between the US and Canada provide the legal basis” for this action. As Food & Water Watch has pointed out, the no-inspection demand is one these meat industry lobbyists have been making since the RCC was established in 2011. Border inspections are important for protecting public health because U.S. and Canadian food standards and practices are not the same. It also protects the public as government is privatizing meat inspection and shifting to self-reporting while slaughtering line speeds increase. Food & Water Watch gives the example of USDA’s zero tolerance policy for the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes on all products it regulates. Canada does not have this ban. Without checking at the border, there is no way to know if Canadian products that violate U.S. policy on this pathogen are being imported into the U.S. While the industry’s earlier demands to end border inspections were upended by a major recall of contaminated Canadian beef in 2012, the industry is trying again under the Trump administration. This time, they may succeed.
  • If all border inspections aren’t eliminated, then food safety inspectors should reduce tested sample size. If you test less of a product, you will undoubtedly find fewer violations. Of course, this isn’t the reason meat industry lobbyists NAMI and CMC give for their request that the RCC focus on reducing sampling lot size—instead they say their goal is to prevent food waste! When it comes to food safety, what you don’t know can hurt you.
  • Prevent Canada’s new mandatory Front of Package health and nutrition labels from going into effect. The U.S. Meat Export Federation wants the RCC to harmonize front-of-package labeling between the U.S. and Canada. What does this mean? The industry’s goal is to use the RCC process to stop Canada from implementing new health warnings on packaged foods. In their regulatory cooperation comments, NAMI and CMC assert that food nutrition labels proposed by Health Canada were promulgated in a manner inconsistent with “good regulatory practice as outlined in the text” of New NAFTA, and that the proposed rule “creates a non-tariff trade barrier for U.S. companies.” The groups falsely claim that the Canadian measures are not evidence-based and “will be unique in the world and set a dangerous precedent,” mentioning particularly their objection to linking the labeling provisions to restrictions on marketing to children. In fact, health warnings on junk food packaging has been effectively implemented in several countries to combat obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases. As we reported previously, U.S. negotiators, egged on by agribusiness, sought to prevent Canada (as well as Mexico and the U.S.) from implementing effective front-of-package junk food warning labels. The proposed anti-labeling negotiating text was leaked, and the ensuing public outcry killed the proposal. It appears that the meat industry wants to use this secretive regulatory cooperation process to achieve through the back door what it was unable to accomplish directly in New NAFTA.
  • Allow Canadian-grown meat to be sold with chemical treatments and in packaging that currently isn’t allowed. Canada doesn’t allow some “food safety interventions and packaging” that the U.S. does, according to meat industry lobbyists CMC and NAMI. The industry suggests that since some U.S. meat products exported to Canada are allowed to be sold even when chemically treated or in packaging that Canada does not allow domestically, “there is a compelling rationale to converge these approval processes.” In their view, Canada should simply adopt the U.S. standard, and the RCC can help achieve this outcome.
  • Reduce safety testing of containers used to transport pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. The Industrial Packaging Alliance of North America (IPANA) wants to use the RCC to limit required safety inspections of containers used to transport hazardous goods. Currently, under U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration rules, these containers must be retested every 12 months. Right now, Transport Canada does not require any periodic safety retesting, but it has proposed testing every five years. The industry group says the U.S. standard “represents a competitive cost disadvantage for U.S. manufacturers” and that changing to the Canadian proposal “would eliminate a significant and unnecessary regulatory burden.” How would workers and others exposed to leaking pesticides or exploding hazardous materials be affected if these containers fail because of inadequate testing? IPANA doesn’t say.
  • Use obscure words instead of plain language to hide information from consumers. The Chamber of Commerce thinks the RCC should help get rid of a U.S. rule that requires English words instead of obscure Latin terms for 57 ingredients on some consumer product labels. Since Canada allows the Latin terms, harmonizing the two countries’ regulations to the Canadian standard presents a unique opportunity to further confuse consumers trying to decipher what’s really in these household products—and whether they are safe.
  • Exempt U.S. exporters from some Canadian safety standards for explosive grain dust in animal feed and non-food grain. This is one of many joint requests from the National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association. Canada requires hazard labeling and safety data sheets for workers handling animal feed and non-food grain, whereas the U.S. does not. The feed associations want the RCC to harmonize regulations intended to prevent dangerous grain dust explosions by allowing the less protective U.S. standard to apply. The industry solution? Of course, harmonize downward.
  • Roll back controls on climate-harming hydrofluorocarbon gases. The Chemistry Society of Canada and the American Chemistry Association want Canada to piggy-back on a Trump administration attempt to roll back rules meant to prevent the leaking and venting of organic compounds called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from large refrigerating and air-conditioning units. HFCs contribute to global warming and ozone depletion. The chemical industry lobbyists state the RCC should be used to “encourage collaboration between Canada and the U.S., which could reduce burden, enhance compliance, and promote a North American market.” It would also further accelerate climate change, not to mention contribute to more cases of skin cancer, facts the chemical industry fails to mention.

It is very clear that the Regulatory Cooperation Council, and related language in the new NAFTA, is part of a broader deregulatory plan. New NAFTA hasn’t yet been sent to Congress for ratification and isn’t in effect, but that hasn’t stopped industry lobbying groups from trying to use it to deregulate. Several comments submitted by industry groups made the case that provisions in New NAFTA should be implemented through the RCC, or that a domestic regulation they object to violates provisions in the deal. As we discuss above, in their objections to Canada’s new junk food labeling rule, the meat industry claims the rule is inconsistent with New NAFTA’s “Good Regulatory Practices” (GRP) chapter. The GRP chapter includes provisions defining what information and studies may be used to develop domestic regulations, how other countries should be involved in the rule-making process, and procedures for adopting, reviewing and repealing regulations. It also includes many provisions promoting regulatory cooperation and harmonization. Other New NAFTA chapters, including provisions on technical rules including labeling, also encourage or require regulatory cooperation prior to adoption of new mandatory public protections.

While different regulations in the two countries could be harmonized to the most protective of the divergent standards, that approach is not reflected in any of these recent industry demands. Nor is it what actually happened during the decade since the RCC was established. Perhaps there is no more devastating and obvious proof of this than U.S. and Canadian regulators’ actions both before and after the 2013 Lac Mégantic train disaster.

From the early days of the RCC, it was a forum for regulators to seek to harmonize regulations governing rail safety and the transport of dangerous goods, including policies regulating the rail transport of volatile crude from North Dakota’s Bakken formation and Alberta’s oil sands through Canada and the U.S. We know now that these regulatory cooperation initiatives did nothing to improve rail safety, either before or after a 72-car runaway oil train crashed and exploded like a bomb in the Quebec village of Lac Mégantic, directly killing 47, destroying the community’s historic center, and spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil on the edge of what had been a pristine lake and tourist destination.

The disaster was caused by reckless industry cost-cutting, abetted by massive regulatory failure as the Canadian government pursued a single-minded focus on deregulation. This deregulatory agenda has many parallels with what’s going on now under the Trump administration, including the arbitrary and foolish 2-for-1 policy that requires repealing two existing regulations for every new rule. Transport of dangerous goods and rail safety continue to be part of the RCC’s mission. It’s hard to see how secretive discussions aimed at eliminating regulatory differences that impede free trade will improve safety, especially with the Trump administration busy rolling back many measures intended to address some of the biggest safety gaps that led to the Lac Mégantic disaster. As Bruce Campbell’s book on Lac Mégantic details, these rollbacks include delaying or completely stopping:

  • measures to require more than one crew member on dangerous goods transporting trains;
  • positive train control, the remote control satellite-based protection system that helps prevent derailments;
  • a rule requiring certain trains carrying high-hazard liquids to be operated with an electronically controlled pneumatic braking system by 2021;
  • prospective regulations to address track deterioration;
  • and proposals to require engineers to be screened for sleep apnea.

The current RCC agenda, added to New NAFTA’s “Good Regulatory Practices,” points to a concerted effort by corporations and their allies in government to lower standards in North America and beyond. Neither the Canadian nor U.S. government seems likely to use the RCC to harmonize rules upwards. Obviously, when at least one of the two countries seeking to harmonize regulations across the border is hell-bent on rescinding public protections, harmonization will lead to lower standards. Protective standards and oversight are already deficient in both countries—from meat inspection and food safety, to protecting workers and the public from exploding grain elevators and exploding oil trains. Without the will to hold industry accountable and adopt strict protections, regulatory cooperation in and of itself does nothing to improve those standards. In fact, as the rail safety example illustrates, the RCC experience even under the more regulation-friendly Obama administration failed the public interest. Indeed, just this month there was another major derailment which killed the crew as a freight train plunged 60 meters off a bridge near the British Columbia-Alberta border.

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Alexander von Humboldt, Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution

February 26th, 2019 by Franklin Frederick

“One cannot praise enough the intelligent legislation of Spanish America’s new republics, which, since their inception, have been seriously concerned with slavery’s total cessation. In that respect, this vast part of the earth has an immense advantage over the South of United States.”

“In North America white men have created for themselves a white republic with the most shameful laws of slavery.”

— Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

In 2019 we celebrate the 250th birthday of the scientist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt, the true “discoverer” of America according to Simon Bolívar, who knew him personally. Between 1799 and 1804, Alexander von Humboldt, accompanied by the French botanist Aimé Bonpland, traveled through the colonies of Spanish America, exploring regions that today belong to Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Cuba. Back in Europe, Humboldt began publishing several books recounting his adventures in America, revealing the natural and cultural riches of South America to a curious and fascinated European public.

While writing about the wonders of the tropical nature of America and the cultural wealth of its original peoples, Humboldt denounced — like no other before him — the horrors of slavery, the oppression of Indigenous peoples, and the injustices of the colonial system. Its importance for our time is due precisely to his ability to see the interrelations between the environment, society, politics and the economy. He was the first modern Western thinker to scientifically describe the planet as a living organism where humans, plants, animals, soils and climate interact and influence each other. The novelty of this vision at his time, when a mechanistic view of nature still prevailed, was revolutionary. For Humboldt, poetry and science were two complementary and necessary ways of understanding the world. His influence on poets, writers, and scientists was enormous. Goethe loved spending hours talking to his younger friend Humboldt. Both “Faust” and his studies of plants might not have existed as we know them today had it not been for Humboldt’s influence.

Charles Darwin took several of Humboldt’s books with him on his Beagle voyage, with which he was in constant dialogue. Without Humboldt, Darwin would hardly have written the Origin of Species, nor would Thoreau hardly have written Walden.

Humboldt was probably the last scientist capable of understanding almost all scientific thinking of his day, and used this knowledge to show how different phenomena relate to each other in an approach that we would call today «interdisciplinary».

While exploring the Valencia Lake region in present-day Venezuela, for example, Humboldt began to understand the relationship between agriculture and climate change. He wrote:

“When forests are destroyed, as they are everywhere in America by the European planters, with an imprudent precipitation, the springs are entirely dried up, or become less abundant. The beds of the rivers, remaining dry during a part of the year, are converted into torrents, whenever great rains fall on the heights. The sword and moss disappearing with the brush-wood from the sides of the mountains, the waters falling in rain are no longer impeded in their course; and instead of slowly augmenting the level of the rivers by progressive filtrations, they furrow during heavy showers the sides of the hills, bear down the loosened soil and form those sudden inundations that devastate the country.”

Humboldt drew attention to the fact that forests increase the ability of soils to retain water and how they contribute to regulate climate. Understanding these interrelationships and how they contribute to climate change is a key part of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — what Humboldt did more than 100 years ago. Moreover, Humboldt clearly denounced the colonial system and the capitalist mode of production — without using this term — as the main mode responsible for the destruction of the environment and consequent impacts on climate: European farmers and their production turned to the interests of the metropolis, using slave labor and expelling Indigenous peoples from their lands. Humboldt clearly denounced European colonial “barbarism” and presented a vision of South American Indigenous peoples and black slaves differently from the dominant assumptions of their time. Humboldt not only rejected the endemic racism and the supposed “superiority” of the “white race”, but declared that the cultures of Indigenous peoples are as creative and diverse as European cultures. In addition, Humboldt vehemently attacked Count Buffon, one of the leading proponents of European “scientific racism,” and exposed the ridicule of his ideas.

The progress of science in the 19th century has inevitably led to even greater specializations and the relative isolation of various scientific disciplines, thus hindering an integral view of the planet that Humboldt still could have. This situation is still prevalent today, since the greatest difficulty we have is integrating the enormous amount of knowledge that we accumulated in several fields into an overview — a fundamental task that could contribute immensely to our future. Once again, the work of the IPCC is a concrete and current example of this attempt. However, by its very nature, the IPCC cannot clearly and precisely include the political and economic dimensions in its studies — or even superficially allude to the problems posed by the capitalist economy, not to mention condemning capitalism itself.

If, on one hand, Humboldt’s world-view, combining philosophy, poetry and natural sciences, was possible only at the time he lived; on the other hand, in a certain way, Humboldt came “too soon”. He died before Germany began its experiments with colonies in Africa, especially in Namibia, and the consequent upsurge of “scientific” racism in Germany and throughout Europe.

The Count de Gobineau, who would retake the banner of Bouffon racism so ridiculed by Humboldt, was born in 1816 — Humboldt was then 47 — and lived until 1882, so over 20 years after Humboldt died, over 20 years of “work” spreading racist theories with no one with the same reputation and ability as Alexander von Humboldt to contradict him. The connection between German colonialism in Africa and the later emergence of the Nazi movement has been amply demonstrated by historians such as David Olusoga and Casper W. Erichsen in “The Kaiser’s Holocaust.” With the rise of Nazism in Germany in the late 1920s, how could the thinking of Humboldt, the most celebrated German scientist of the 19th century, be reconciled with the Nazi ideology? In fact, at the end of the 19th century, Humboldt had already become an embarrassing character for Europe’s cultural capitalist elite. Consequently, his work had to be expunged from its most visionary part: its denunciation of colonialism, economic exploitation of the environment, and of human beings — especially Indigenous peoples and slaves. We had to forget that the most celebrated scientist of all time attacked racism and defended the Indigenous peoples and black slaves from capitalist economic exploitation, precisely so that the exploitation of third world countries by the same European powers denounced by Humboldt could continue.

I may be mistaken, but I do not think that Karl Marx – an exact contemporary of the Count de Gonineau – studied the writings of Humboldt in depth. I believe that Marxism would have acquired another understanding of colonialism, racism and the supposed “superiority” of European civilization and the “white race” over Indigenous and black peoples. The ideas of Hegel on all that – a contemporary of Humboldt who greatly influenced Marx – were much closer to the thinking of Count de Gobineau than to the revolutionary vision of Humboldt.

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Perhaps the most relevant contribution of Humboldt to the understanding of our own times comes from the relationship between him, Simon Bolivar (image on the right), and Thomas Jefferson (image below). On his return from the voyage through Spanish America in 1804, Humboldt spent a short time in the United States where he met Thomas Jefferson, the then celebrated President of the U.S.A. Jefferson shared the same interests in natural sciences as Humboldt, and also had an encyclopaedic mind. The two got along very well, talking for hours when Humboldt was a guest at the White House. But there was an irreconcilable fundamental question between the two: slavery. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the new republic that claimed to be the homeland of liberty and equality was not only the owner of slaves, but also advocated the importance of maintaining slavery for the economic development of the United States. Humboldt denounced the horror and hypocrisy underlying such an idea of “economic development”. Jefferson also agreed with Buffon’s ideas about the “inferiority” of the “black race”, which Humboldt considered idiotic.

Shortly after his return to Paris, Humboldt was introduced to a young gentleman, newly arrived from the Spanish colonies of America: Simon Bolívar, the future “liberator”. Bolivar reported how the meeting with Humboldt opened his eyes to the wonders and potential of his own country: the future Venezuela.

As Bolívar wrote in his famous “Letter of Jamaica”, it was Humboldt who really showed him his own continent, America.

The two met again some months later in Rome – and at this time Bolívar already spoke about the independence of Spanish America. At this moment, the advice and wisdom of Humboldt were fundamental for the political maturity of young Bolívar. While in Rome, Bolivar would swear an oath to free America, and then return to his country.

Image result for thomas jefferson

Bolívar’s fight for the independence of the Spanish colonies did not go unnoticed by Thomas Jefferson, who corresponded with Humboldt, requesting information about the revolutionary movement led by Bolivar as it unfolded — questions that Humboldt could answer “better than any other”, as Jefferson wrote. But Jefferson’s relationship with the struggle for liberation from the Spanish colonies was rather ambiguous. If on one hand, Jefferson considered important the establishment of republics and the end of control by the Spanish monarchy in the American territory, he also feared the consequences of this liberation on the U.S. economy. While Spain maintained its control over the colonies, the U.S. economy benefited from the export of grains and wheat to Spanish America, since the agriculture of the colonies was entirely geared to the financial interests of the metropolis or, as we would say today, was an economy based on the export of a few products to the world market. With independence, the colonies could produce their own food, which was a blow to U.S. exports.

The independence of Spanish America posed another, much greater danger to the United States — a danger that Jefferson understood very well: he hoped the colonies would remain separate and not unite in one country, for as “a single mass they will be a very powerful neighbour”, Jefferson admitted.

And since then, this has been the great nightmare of the US: a united, independent and powerful South America. It is the main reason behind the United States’ aggression towards Venezuela today. Venezuela has oil and other natural resources coveted by the large multinational corporations intrinsically linked to the elite that governs the United States. But this fact does not fully explain the U.S.A’s intense aversion and hostility towards Venezuela. The deepest and oldest reason dates back to Humboldt’s time, to the liberation wars of Bolivar and the Jefferson administration: the necessity of preventing, by all means, the union of South America, of not allowing its development to be independent and sovereign. Since his election in 1999, Hugo Chavez suffered three violent attacks: the 2002 coup, the 2002-2003 “strike” and the 2004 “recall” referendum, not to mention the permanent attempts to destabilize and strangle Venezuelan economy. But Chávez also contributed most to Latin American integration: UNASUR and CELAC were initiatives led mainly by Venezuela under his government, the most dangerous challenge to U.S. hegemony in the region since the Cuban revolution. Hugo Chávez and Venezuela dared to revive Simon Bolivar’s dream of an independent, united, sovereign and powerful South America. The empire cannot bear this affront — nor this threat.

Simon Bolívar, unlike Jefferson, freed all his slaves and put in the constitution of the first country he liberated from Spanish rule the prohibition of slavery, hence Humboldt’s admiration in the quotation at the beginning of this text. Humboldt accompanied and encouraged the struggles for Spanish America’s independence until the end of his life. Between Jefferson and Bolivar, between a nation that frees its slaves and another that feeds on them, Humboldt chose the side of Bolivar and his project.

In the 20th century, Humboldt would have defended and supported the liberation movements of the European colonies in Africa and Asia, exchanged letters with Ho Chi Min and defended Vietnam; he would have welcomed the Cuban revolution and been friends with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Humboldt would have admired Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian project, ALBA. There is no doubt that, today, Humboldt would be defending Venezuela against the aggressions of the “Republic of white men”. Gabriel Garcia Marquez knew this, that’s why Humboldt appears in his novel “The General in his Labyrinth” and is also mentioned in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Perhaps the planned events of the “Humboldt Year”, mainly by institutions in Germany, will not speak of this Humboldt. Perhaps they will describe him as a character of the past, with little relevance to the present or to the future, but then this could be considered the most glaring example of Europe’s betrayal of its own Enlightenment ideals today. When we see the elite of Europe joining the lies of the Empire about Venezuela, when we see Europe joining the coup against the legitimately elected government of Nicolas Maduro — it is clear that this aggression is not only against the Venezuelan people, but also against the best of European culture. Celebrating Humboldt today and at the same time not defending Venezuela will be yet another example of the hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty that seems to have become the hallmark of our time.

It will perhaps be up to Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia to move the celebrations of the “Humboldt Year” forward since Alexander von Humboldt and his legacy live much more among these Latin American peoples than in a neoliberal Europe increasingly submissive to the interests of the Empire and the “white supremacy” it represents.

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This article was originally published on Alai. Translated from Spanish by Tamanna Kohi.

Recently, the heads of five South Korean political parties visited Washington (February 12 to 14) with a mission to assure the supports of American politicians for the success of the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi.

But, what is hard to believe is that while the leaders of the four political parties made lobbying for the success of the Summit, the leader of the main conservative opposition party, the Ja-yoo Hangook- Dang (LKP), Mme Na Kyung-won, tried to convince Washington politicians that North Korea should not be trusted and there should be no end of the Korean War. This party seemed to wish for the continuation of the nuclear crisis.

This episode illustrates how deeply the Korean society is divided between the “conservatives” and the rest of the population over the question of the nuclear crisis and the North-South relations. This relation between the conservatives and the rest of the population has been one of mutual suspect, mistrust, animosity and even outright hostility

This friction between the conservatives and the rest of the population is called “south-south friction within South Korea” (the Nam-Nam-gal-deung)  

This is a serious problem in South Korea, for it can impact not only the peace process, but the future of democracy, the North-South economic cooperation and even the eventual reunification of Koreas.

In this paper, first, the focus is on the origin of the conservative group. This group was created by those who collaborated with the Japanese so that in the eyes of Koreans, the conservative government had neither the strong legitimacy to rule nor popular trust.

Second, it will be shown that lacking the legitimacy and popular trust, the conservative government needed to rule as long as it could; it ruled Korea for 58 years.

Third, the discussion is about the oppressive methods and dubious tactics which allowed the conservative government to rule so long.

Fourth, this section will show how the Korean people fought against the conservative government.

Finally, in the final 5th section, there will be some concluding remarks.

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  1. Origin of the pro-Japan conservative group.

To find the origin of the conservative group, we have to go back to 1910 when Korea was illegally annexed to Japan because of unpatriotic actions taken by a group of individuals considered as traitors; this group, pro-Japan, was led by Lee Wan Yong, prime minister then; he signed the treaty of annexation without the approval of Emperor Gojong of the Lee Dynasty.

During the 35 years of harsh Japanese colonial rule, many of the pro-Japan group members (Chin-il-pa) took side with Japan and abused their power by collaborating with the Japanese colonial government in sending young Koreans to labour slave camps in Japan and elsewhere, recruiting and sending the Korean youth to the Japanese imperial army, confiscating the land and other real estate assets belonging to Korean patriots and forcing Koreans to change Korean names into Japanese names.

One of the worst crimes against humanity committed by Japan was the large scale sex slavery; 200,000 teen age girls, mostly Koreans, were captured and sent to Japanese military camps where they suffered from years of cruel sub-human sex slavery. Some of the pro-Japan Koreans did collaborate with Japanese police in finding and sending these girls to serve as sex slaves.

The most serious crime committed by the pro-Japan conservative group was their collaboration in capturing those Korean patriots who fought with their lives for the independence of Korea against the Japanese oppressive colonialism.

The collaborators knew that they were working for the interest of Japanese at the expense of those of Koreans. This made them to distance themselves from the rest of Koreans; they found themselves isolated. To survive, they had to form a tightly knit group and their priority was to develop and conserve their personal and group interests.

In 1945, Korea was liberated from the yoke of Japanese brutal colonialism. In a normal situation, Korea should have punished those Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese.

This did not happen; none of the collaborators were punished. A committee was formed to punish them. But Washington did not allow it. Under the U. S. military government which ruled South Korea from 1945 to 1948, many of the former Korean collaborators worked for the American military government.

In 1949, Rhee Sygnman formed the firs Korean government. Most of the high ranking government officials were former collaborators. About 40% of police force was organized with former Korean police officers who served under the Japanese colonial government.

Three Koreans shot for pulling up rails as a protest against seizure of land without payment by the Japanese (Source: Public Domain)

The Korean patriots fought against the Japanese government mainly in Manchuria, China and the Korean peninsula. Many of them fought alongside with the Chinese and the Russian army. Their political leader was Kim Koo who was the president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea established in 1919 operating in China. Kim Koo came back to Korea in 1945 with the hope to establish an independent government excluding the collaborators, but he was assassinated in 1949 by the government of Rhee Sygnman. A great number of Korean patriots were assassinated or fled to North Korea.

Thus, the destiny of the post-liberation Korea was in the firm hands of former collaborators and the Korean society was clearly divided between pro-Japan collaborators and powerless Koreans. This was Nam-Nam friction which begun right after 1945 to last for 70 years: it is still a reality.

The pro-Japan conservative conservatives have had six governments under six presidents: Rhee Sygnman (1948-1960), Park Chung-hee (1961-1979), Chun Doo-hwan (1981-1987), Rho Tae-woo (1987-1992) Lee Myong-bak (2007-2012) and Park Geun-hye (2013-2017).

Each of these presidents has terminated his or her term in a tragic manner. One was chased by students; one was assassinated; two served prison terms. There are two more currently in prison. They are or were all accused for the abuse of power and corruption

  1. Longevity of the Conservative Government

The pro-Japan conservative had ruled Korea for 35 years (1910-1945) in collaboration with the colonial Japanese; they have continued to govern Korea for 58 more years out of 70 years passed since 1948.

You may wonder how and why the conservative government could keep power for so long. The following factors explain: the strategy of “Northern Wind”, Coups d’état, the manipulation of the Constitution, and the oppressive government policies.

The “Northern Wind” is an electoral tactics used by the conservatives in order to maximize the chance of winning elections. It involves two steps. First, a few week before the election, they create a climate of fear of war with the North in such a manner that the national security becomes the top priority. To do so, the conservatives fabricate threats from the North often based on fake eye witnesses. In one occasion, the conservatives would have asked the North to make hostile actions in exchange of a large sum of money, but the attempt would have failed.

Second, the conservatives launch a media campaign to convince the voters that they are the most qualified to protect the population from the threats from the North. To prove this, they boast the long history of military regime of the conservatives. This tactics have been very effective tool for the electoral victories of the conservatives. Thus, ironically North Korea has been a useful electoral ally of the conservatives.

The coups d’état have been one of the tactics of preserving the power.  There were two major coups d’état in Korea:  one by General Park Chung-hee (image on the right) on the 16th of May, 1961 and the other by General Chun Doo-hwan on the 12th of December, 1980

The manipulation of the Constitution was another favoured means of preserving the conservatives’ power. President Rhee Sygnman amended the Constitution in 1956 allowing him to stay in power for 12 years from 1948 to 1960. General Park Chung-hee imposed on the population the “Yushin” Constitution in 1972 to keep power for life. General Chun Doo-hwan imposed the Yushin Constitution of his predecessor when he took power in 1980; he stayed in power until 1987.

Until the Constitution of 1987, the regime of indirect presidential election had prevailed; General Park Chung-hee and General Chun Doo-hwan were elected by a pre-selected electoral college

The conservative governments’ oppressive policies have been another powerful tool for the preservation of their power. The purpose of these policies was to silence the voices of opposition to government policies. These oppressive policies have taken several forms: mass killing, fabrication of North Korean spies, police harassing, torturing to the death of young students for having participated in demonstration against the government and the oppression of the media

Nobody knows how many innocent Koreans were accused as “Reds” and killed, imprisoned and tortured by the conservative governments. But several millions could have been the victim. Under the government of Rhee Syngnman, more than 200,000 innocent Koreans were killed in the areas of Jeju, Yosu and Soonchon. The government accused these poor victims for being “communists”, “Reds”, “PPal- gaing-ie” Among the victims were children and old people who had nothing to do with ideology.

General Chun Doo-hwan had his share of killing the people. In 18th of May, 1980, the citizens of Gwang-ju organized a street demonstration to protest the Chun’s dictatorship. Chun mobilized highly trained air-born battalion and killed at least 1,000 citizens with tanks and helicopters. A great number of citizens were wounded. Moreover, Chun set up, during his presidency (1980-1987), a massive killing field in the Sancheong Education School; about 100,000 young people were massacred for not supporting Chun’s government policies and some other dubious reasons.

The true reason behind these massacres was to silence the voice of opposition against the corruption and the violation of human rights committed by the conservatives. These people were falsely condemned as “Reds” or “being friendly with North Korea” (Chin-book). In other words, the existence of North-South tension provided a good reason to oppress the people.

Under the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan, millions of South Korean citizens were harassed by the police for having a friend, or a family member who are “suspected” to be “Reds”.

Countless young people were falsely accused for being “Reds”, imprisoned, tortured and killed. More than ten Japanese-Korean students who had come to South Korea to study were falsely accused by the CIA of the Park Chung-hee’s government as North Korean spies; they were all judged later not guilty; this was a typical case of fabricated spy stories.

Under Chun Doo-hwan, numerous young students were tortured to death including Park Jeong-chul who was tortured to death on the 14 of January 1987.

On the 25th of 2016, an old man named, Baik Nam-ki died as a result of police water-canon shooting during a street demonstration against the corruption of the government of Park Geun-hye. Baik was simply asking the government to raise the price of rice frozen for more than ten years.

The oppression of the media was a regular part of the conservative government’s abuse of power. The government of Lee Myong-bak, forced the MBC TV Chain to fire hundreds of highly competent TV reporters, because they criticized the government policies.

The most celebrated case was the removal of Choi Sung-ho and Lee Sang-ho of MBC. Now, Choi is the head of MBC, while Lee runs “Gobal News” which is doing a good job of detecting false news massively manufactured by conservative corporate media.

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The oppression of the media became even worse under Park Geun-hye. Her government made a black list of 10,000 artists, film makers, painters and a host of others individuals who are suspected to have ideas which were not friendly to her government policies; these people on the black lists were under constant surveillance and penalized in the allocation of government subsidies.

  1. Negative Impact of the Conservative Governments

It is true that the conservatives have made significant contributions to the modernization, the industrialization and the rapid development of the Korean economy. In particular, the strong leadership of President Park Chung-hee during the process of the take-off of the Korean economy is well recognized. However, unfortunately, they are mainly responsible for the culture of corruption in the South, the Nam-Nam friction and the North-South tension.

The 58 years of rule by the South Korean conservative government has left profound and devastating footprints on the Korean society. First, as we saw above, this group was formed during the Japanese colonial era; many of them were collaborators with the Japanese; this made them find themselves alienated and isolated.

Having been collaborated with the Japanese and damaged the interest of Korea, they lacked the legitimacy in governing the country and they had to cope with strong resistance of the people. This may have led them to consider the population as an adversary, if not enemy.

For the conservatives, North Korea has been more than an adversary; it was an enemy for two reasons. To begin with it was a communist country. Second, the government of North Korea was established by the patriots who regarded the pro-Japanese collaborators as enemy. Thus, the South Korean conservatives had to live with the unfriendly population in the South and the hostile enemy in the North.

Under such situation, the priority of the conservatives had to be its own defence and its own survival; the concern with the social justice and the welfare of the people could have been regarded as unimportant; the top priority was the maximization of their personal and group interests.

Under such situation, the wide spread corruption was inevitable. The conservatives are the elite of the Korea society; they are the upstream of the society, the rest of the population is the downstream of the society. There is the old saying: “if the upstream is rotten, so is the downstream”. The corrupted hands of the conservatives have touched every sector, every corner of the society. That is, the corruption has become a “culture”.

The corruption of the conservatives is dramatically revealed by the embezzlement of millions even billions of US dollars by the heads of the conservative governments.

Nobody knows how much of tax payers’ money was taken by the family of President Park Chung-hee and President Park Geun – hye; it may amount to billions of dollars invested in real estate abroad.

President Chun Doo-hwan and President Rho Tae-woo were accused for the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payers’ money.

President Lee Myong-bak is accused for receiving millions of dollars as bribery. He is also suspected for enriching himself through the infamous “4-River Projects” and the scandalous “Natural Resource Diplomacy” in which a Canadian firms was implicated. Lee Myong-bak is in prison waiting for the final judgment; at this first trial he was condemned for 15 years.

The corruption culture can impose fatal damage to the entire society. The bailout of insolvent firms because of bribery weakens the firm’s competitiveness. Because of bribery, a dangerous criminal does not go to prison. Because of kick-knacks, the navy buys a submarine that does not go underwater. An embezzler of millions of dollars goes free, because the police chief is his father. All these are more than capable of destroying a society.

But what makes me very sad is that the corruption culture and the abuse of power can shake the very moral foundation of human relations. The warmth, the mutual trust, the mutual respect which have ruled personal relationship in Korea for thousands of years have barely survived; the money has become the key determinant of human relations.

Nowadays, “wealth is might and right”. In the world where money is god, the human nature is such that the strong and rich despise and oppress the weak and the poor.

In Korea, such distorted relation is called “Kap-jil” meaning that the strong mistreats the weak. A few years ago (December 5, 2014), there was an incidence of kap-jil on a Korean Air flight from new York to Seoul involving a daughter of the founder of Korean Air, Cho hyun-ah. She insulted and treated the staff on board almost as slaves. The problem was the way the staff served her the macadonia nuts

In fact, every member of Cho family did kap-jils to the employees of the Korean Air. Regrettably, the practice of kap-jils is widely spread among the elite largely represented by the conservatives.

  1. Popular Uprising Against the Conservatives

The dictatorship, the abuse of power and the corruption of the conservative government could have gone even further, if the Korean people did not fight back.

At critical moments of history; the Korean people fought on the streets against the conservative governments.

On the 19th of April, 1960, fifty thousand students fought against the rigged presidential election. This was “the April Revolution”. They succeeded in chasing President Rhee Sygnman; he fled out of Korea on a U.S. CIA plane.

On the 16th of October 1979, more than 100,000 people young and old fought in Busan-Masan areas against the Park Chung-hee’s attempt to perpetuate his presidency. This was “The Bu-Ma Democratic Protest”. President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his CIA director on the 26th of October 1979.

In May 1980, the citizens of Gwangju City fought against the tyranny of the dictatorship of General Chun Doo-hwan for ten days (18th to 27th); this was “the May 18 Democratic Uprising”. More than thousand citizens were killed by tanks and helicopters and young girls were raped. It was the victory over Chun’s criminal regime.

On the 16th of 1987, a few weeks after the Gwangju Uprising, more than one million people went to the street and battled for 19 days for a new constitution, the end of the Yushin constitution and the coming of a new political system of direct presidential election. In this new constitution, all authorities come from the people. This movement was “The June Democratic Movement”..

The final massive citizen protest came in 2016. More than 17 million citizens fought for 20 weeks from October 2016 against the corruption, abuse of power, traffic of influences, the transactions of high ranking jobs and all sorts of illegal and immoral activities of Park Geun-hye’s government and its friends. This was “The Candle-Light Revolution”.

Park Geun-hye was impeached; Moon Jae-in has restored the liberal government in 1987. Park Geun-hye is imprisoned for at least 25 years.

  1. Concluding Remarks

The liberal government headed by Moon Jae-in took over the power in 2018 after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

With Moon Jae-in, Korea may allow itself to hope for a better future where there will be no more Nam-Nam friction, where the North and the South will co-exist in harmony, where there will be no more kap-jils, where a sense of public morality will be restored and where the money will be no more a “god”

However, the conservatives are not dead; the footprints of corruption are still there. They are fighting back to restore their power. They have a lot of money; money can buy the power. There is a real possibility that they will try to prevent the peace process from succeeding in collaboration with the Japanese conservatives and Washington hawks.

The Japanese conservatives may need the nuclear crisis, for it facilitates electoral wins. Washington hawks may want to maintain the tension on the Korean peninsula so that they can sell more weapons. The South Korean conservatives may not wish for denuclearization so that they can win elections and, at the same time, make dark money deriving from weapon buying. In short, the South Korean conservatives could be the most ardent opponent to denuclearization.

Even if the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi at the end of February succeeds, the conservatives can kill the peace process, if they win the presidential election in three years.

Thus, President Moon Jae-in and the liberals have two choices. First, they can make the conservatives powerless through the process of the purification of corruption. This is not easy. A better way is to win the second term of liberal government. This is not impossible.

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Professor Joseph H. Chung is co-director of the East Asia Observatory (OAE)-the Study Center for Integration and Globalization (CEIM) of Quebec University in Montreal (UQAM). He is Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG)

Trump Threatens a Second Embargo of Cuba

February 26th, 2019 by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

The Trump administration is threatening to unleash a flood of lawsuits involving Cuba, which no U.S. president has ever done. It has set a deadline of March 2 to announce whether it will create, in the words of the National Lawyers Guild, “a second embargo” of Cuba — “one that would be very difficult to dismantle in the future.”

Trump may give current U.S. citizens standing to sue in U.S. courts even if they were Cuban citizens when the Cuban government nationalized their property after the 1959 Revolution. They would be able to bring lawsuits against U.S. and foreign companies that allegedly profit from the nationalized properties.

In accordance with international law, the Cuban government had offered compensation to U.S. nationals for the taking of their property, as I explain below. If Trump permits myriad new lawsuits to proceed, it would unleash a tsunami of litigation that would harm U.S. companies and punish the Cuban people even more.

For 59 years, the United States has maintained a cruel embargo against Cuba.

“The embargo on Cuba is the most comprehensive set of U.S. sanctions on any country, including the other countries designated by the U.S. government to be state sponsors of terrorism — Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria,” according to the U.S. government.

In 1960, the Eisenhower administration declared a partial embargo on trade with Cuba in an attempt to pressure Cuba to change its form of government. The embargo was prompted by a secret State Department memorandum that proposed “a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

This type of action is illegal under international law, according to Idriss Jazairy, the U.N. special rapporteur concerned with the negative impact of sanctions.

“Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state,” said Jazairy. “The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law.”

That includes the Charter of the Organization of American States and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.

Nonetheless, John F. Kennedy expanded the embargo in 1962 and every U.S. president since has continued it, hurting the Cuban people, but not succeeding in overthrowing Cuba’s government.

In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act, which codified the embargo into law so that no president could unilaterally lift the sanctions against Cuba. Although Barack Obama took some limited steps toward normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, Helms-Burton would have prevented him from lifting the embargo.

Will Trump Open the Floodgates of Litigation?

After the Cuban Revolution, the new government led by Fidel Castro nationalized the property of Cuban nationals, many of whom then fled Cuba and emigrated to the United States. Helms-Burton contains a notorious provision in Title III that allows private lawsuits against U.S. and foreign entities for allegedly “trafficking” in property confiscated in Cuba since 1959. “Trafficking” as defined includes knowingly engaging in a commercial activity or otherwise “benefitting from confiscated property.”

Every U.S. president beginning with Clinton has delayed the implementation of Title III by waiving its provisions in six-month increments. Clinton put Title III “on hold because it triggered immense opposition from U.S. allies, whose companies operating in Cuba would become targets of litigation in U.S. courts,” American University professor and Cuba scholar William M. LeoGrande wrote in The Conversation.

Clinton’s waiver was also motivated by the European Union’s filing of a complaint against the United States in the World Trade Organization and adoption of a statute that forbids EU members and their firms from complying with Title III.

Thus far, the Trump administration has followed suit with three six-month waivers. But on January 16, the president waived Title III for only 45 days, from February 1 to March 17, while his administration conducts “a careful review” of whether to allow the provision to go into effect. He will announce his decision by March 2.

If Trump does activate Title III, it would be the first time since Helms-Burton was enacted. It would tie up U.S. and foreign firms in a tidal wave of litigation if they do business with Cuba — including in medicine and agriculture — and have allegedly benefited from confiscated properties.

Up to 200,000 people who were not U.S. citizens at the time of their property’s confiscation would be able to file claims for property they held in Cuba when they were Cuban citizens. This is considerably more than the nearly 6,000 claims already filed by U.S. parties at the time their property was nationalized.

Cuba’s Nationalization Did Not Violate Either U.S. or International Law

The U.S. State Department takes the well-established position that a sovereign’s nationalization of the property of its own nationals does not violate international law. In 1962, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk told the National Business Advisory Council:

Any sovereign national has the right to expropriate property, whether owned by foreigners or nationals. In the United States we refer to this as the power of eminent domain. However, the owner should receive adequate and prompt compensation for his property.

On several occasions, Cuba has offered to negotiate compensation of the nearly 6,000 claims of U.S. parties, as it has successfully done with claims from other countries.

“It is well-known that all nationalizations of foreign property, including that of the U.S., were provided by law with a commitment to compensation, which the U.S. government refused even to discuss, while it was adopted by the governments of claimants of other countries, all of which enjoyed due compensation,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba said in a statement.

Permitting lawsuits to proceed under Title III would overturn long-standing law. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino that U.S. courts should not decide the legality of taking property in Cuba’s jurisdiction and that state-to-state negotiations provide the best way to resolve these issues.

“Title III attempts to reverse that precedent, placing the long-term future of U.S.-Cuban relations into innumerable private hands and holding hostage the ability to normalize relations for decades,” according to the National Lawyers Guild’s International Committee.

Trump Says “Make Rubio Happy”

On January 16, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) ominously tweeted,

“Todays waiver of Title III of Helms-Burton for only 45 days instead of the customary 180 days & the accompanying warning, is a strong indication of what comes next.”

Does Rubio have inside information? Very likely. The New York Times recently called Rubio “a virtual secretary of state for Latin America.” Indeed, Trump described his Cuba policy to White House staff early in his term: “Make Rubio happy.”

Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), whose brother pressured Clinton into signing Helms-Burton, are the leading advocates for Title III. They represent the richest and most conservative people in Miami’s Cuban-American community, once known as Cuba’s “One Percent,” LeoGrande writes. Since Title III exempts private residences and small businesses from potential compensation, it is the one-percenters — people who owned businesses worth more than $433,000 at today’s prices — who have the most to gain if Trump unblocks Title III and allows litigation to proceed.

Trump is also apparently making Rubio happy by recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, albeit in violation of international law. Rubio is part of Trump’s inner circle working with the opposition in Venezuela to carry out an illegal coup.

“Venezuela is really an extension of the position on Cuba,” Ricardo Herrera, director of the Cuba Study Group, told The New Republic. Both nations are targets in a plan to reassert U.S. control over Latin America, and finally overthrow the Cuban Revolution, according to The Wall Street Journal.

At a February 18 rally in Miami, Trump played to a large voting bloc by criticizing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. South Florida has the largest population of Venezuelans in the United States, many of whom are opposed to Maduro’s government. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Florida) accused the Trump administration of “using Venezuelans’ suffering to score political points here in Florida,” adding, “We shouldn’t be using this as a political weapon.”

But, “Trump doesn’t care about Latin America. It’s still about domestic politics,” LeoGrande told The New Republic. “Trump thinks he won Florida because of the Cuban American vote. Rubio convinced him that that’s what made the big difference in Florida.”

Many older Cuban Americans oppose the Cuban government and have been pivotal votes for Republican presidential candidates in the swing state of Florida.

Who Stands to Lose If Title III Is Activated?

It is the Cuban people who would suffer most from the activation of Title III. A torrent of lawsuits would not only discourage foreign firms from trading with, investing in, or operating in Cuba; they would also endanger the food supply and other essentials for life in Cuba for years to come. They would weaken Cuba’s fragile economy.

Title III could affect firms that currently operate in Cuba on confiscated property and companies that profit from such “trafficking.” Because of jurisdictional issues, U.S.-based companies would be the most vulnerable to these lawsuits, which would disadvantage them internationally. They would be unlikely to expand their operations in Cuba.

Ending the suspension of Title III would have a chilling effect on future efforts to normalize relations with Cuba because it was written to prevent future U.S. administrations from interfering with this private litigation. Sanctioning lawsuits under Title III could also negatively impact areas such as travel, academic exchanges and research collaboration.

Meanwhile, Cuba has asserted its own claims against the U.S. for billions of dollars of injury due to the impact of the illegal and expanded multinational economic embargo against Cuba, which had been intentionally enacted to deny money and supplies to Cuba, to impose hunger and hardship and seek to overthrow its government, as quoted above. One such case filed in Cuban civil courts in 2000 sought over $120 billion in damages. A prior case sought more than $180 billion in damages based on illegal acts of violence and sabotage, including CIA sponsorship of the Bay of Pigs invasion; this resulted in a judgment in 1999. Cuba seeks resolution of its claims as part of its attempt to mutually resolve issues between Cuba and the United States.

“Activating Title III would represent a quantum leap in hostility [against Cuba],” LeoGrande maintains. By refusing to further suspend Title III, Trump would effectively be punishing the Cuban people with a second embargo.

Cuba represents no threat to the United States. It is time to end the illegal 59-year-old embargo against Cuba once and for all.

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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 a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Observers of developments in the Middle East have long taken it as a given that the United States and Israel are seeking for an excuse to attack Iran. The recently terminated conference in Warsaw had that objective, which was clearly expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it failed to rally European and Middle Eastern states to support the cause. On the contrary, there was strong sentiment coming from Europe in particular that normalizing relations with Iran within the context of the 2015 multi party nuclear agreement is the preferred way to go both to avoid a major war and to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

There are foundations in Washington, all closely linked to Israel and its lobby in the U.S., that are wholly dedicated to making the case for war against Iran. They seek pretexts in various dark corners, including claims that Iran is cheating on its nuclear program, that it is developing ballistic missiles that will enable it to deliver its secret nuclear warheads onto targets in Europe and even the United States, that it is an oppressive, dictatorial government that must be subjected to regime change to liberate the Iranian people and give them democracy, and, most stridently, that is provoking and supporting wars and threats against U.S. allies all throughout the Middle East.

Dissecting the claims about Iran, one might reasonably counter that rigorous inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirm that Tehran has no nuclear weapons program, a view that is supported by the U.S. intelligence community in its recent Worldwide Threat Assessment. Beyond that, Iran’s limited missile program can be regarded as largely defensive given the constant threats from Israel and the U.S. and one might well accept that the removal of the Iranian government is a task best suited for the Iranian people, not delivered through military intervention by a foreign power that has been starving the country through economic warfare. And as for provoking wars in the Middle East, look to the United States and Israel, not Iran.

So the hawks in Washington, by which one means National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, apparently President Donald Trump himself when the subject is Iran, have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of a clear casus belli to hang their war on. No doubt prodded by Netanyahu, they have apparently revived an old story to give them what they want, even going so far as to develop an argument that would justify an attack on Iran without a declaration of war while also lacking any imminent threat from Tehran to justify a preemptive strike.

What may be the new Iran policy was recently outlined in a Washington Times article, which unfortunately has received relatively little attention from either the media, the punditry or from the few policymakers themselves who have intermittently been mildly critical of Washington’s propensity to strike first and think about it afterwards.

The article is entitled “Exclusive: Iran-al Qaeda alliance May Provide Legal Rationale for U.S. military strikes.” The article’s main points should be taken seriously by anyone concerned over what is about to unfold in the Persian Gulf because it is not just the usual fluff emanating from the hubris-induced meanderings of some think tank, though it does include some of that. It also cites government officials by name and others who are not named but are clearly in the administration.

As an ex-CIA case officer who worked on the Iran target for a number of years, I was shocked when I read the Times’ article, primarily because it sounded like a repeat of the fabricated intelligence that was used against both Iraq and Iran in 2001 through 2003. It is based on the premise that war with Iran is desirable for the United States and, acting behind the scenes, Israel, so it is therefore necessary to come up with an excuse to start it. As the threat of terrorism is always a good tactic to convince the American public that something must be done, that is what the article tries to do and it is particularly discouraging to read as it appears to reflect opinion in the White House.

As I have been writing quite critically about the CIA and the Middle East for a number of years, I am accustomed to considerable push-back from former colleagues. But in this case, the calls and emails I received from former intelligence officers who shared my experience of the Middle East and had read the article went strongly the other way, condemning the use of both fake and contrived intelligence to start another unnecessary war.

The article states that Iran is supporting al Qaeda by providing money, weapons and sanctuary across the Middle East to enable it to undertake new terrorist attacks. It is doing so in spite of ideological differences because of a common enemy: the United States. Per the article and its sources, this connivance has now “evolved into an unacceptable global security threat” with the White House intent on “establishing a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.”

One might reasonably ask why the United States cares if Iran is helping al Qaeda as both are already enemies who are lying on the Made in U.S.A. chopping block waiting for the ax to fall. The reason lies in the Authorization to Use Military Force, originally drafted post 9/11 to provide a legal fig leaf to pursue al Qaeda worldwide, but since modified to permit also going after “associated groups.” If Iran is plausibly an associated group then President Trump and his band of self-righteous maniacs egged on by Netanyahu can declare “bombs away Mr. Ayatollah.” And if Israel is involved, there will be a full benediction coming from Congress and the media. So is this administration both capable and willing to start a major war based on bullshit? You betcha!

The Times suggests how it all works as follows: “Congressional and legal sources say the law may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies should President Trump decide that Tehran poses a looming threat to the U.S. or Israel and that economic sanctions are not strong enough to neutralize the threat.” The paper does not bother to explain what might constitute a “looming threat” to the United States from puny Iran but it is enough to note that Israel, as usual, is right in the middle of everything and, exercising its option of perpetual victim-hood, it is apparently threatened in spite of its nuclear arsenal and overwhelming regional military superiority guaranteed by act of the U.S. Congress.

Curiously, though several cited administration officials wedded to the hard-line against Iran because it is alleged to be the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” were willing to provide their opinions on the Iran-al Qaeda axis, the authors of the recent Worldwide Threat Assessment issued by the intelligence community apparently have never heard of it. The State Department meanwhile sees an Iranian pipeline moving al Qaeda’s men and money to targets in central and south Asia, though that assessment hardly jives with the fact that the only recent major attack attributed to al Qaeda was carried out on February 13th in southeastern Iran against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a bombing that killed 27 guardsmen.

The State annual threat assessment also particularly condemns Iran for funding groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are, not coincidentally, enemies of Israel who would care less about “threatening” the United States but for the fact that it is constantly meddling in the Middle East on behalf of the Jewish state.

And when in doubt, the authors of the article went to “old reliable,” the leading neocon think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which, by the way, works closely with the Israeli government and never, ever has criticized the state of democracy in Israel. One of its spokesmen was quick off the mark: ““The Trump administration is right to focus on Tehran’s full range of malign activities, and that should include a focus on Tehran’s long-standing support for al Qaeda.”

Indeed, the one expert cited in the Times story who actually is an expert and examined original documents rather than reeling off approved government and think tank talking points contradicted the Iran-al Qaeda narrative. “Nelly Lahoud, a former terrorism analyst at the U.S. Military Academy and now a New America Foundation fellow, was one of the first to review documents seized from bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. She wrote in an analysis for the Atlantic Council this fall that the bin Laden files revealed a deep strain of skepticism and hostility toward the Iranian regime, mixed with a recognition by al Qaeda leaders of the need to avoid a complete break with Tehran. In none of the documents, which date from 2004 to just days before bin Laden’s death, ‘did I find references pointing to collaboration between al Qaeda and Iran to carry out terrorism,’ she concluded.”

So going after Iran is the name of the game even if the al Qaeda story is basically untrue. The stakes are high and whatever has to be produced, deduced or fabricated to justify a war is fair game. Iran and terrorism? Perfect. Let’s try that one out because, after all, invading Iran will be a cakewalk and the people will be in the streets cheering our tanks as they roll by. What could possibly go wrong?

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This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

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 Unz Review


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

In a pre-dawn airstrike at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets intruded into Pakistan’s airspace and dropped their payload on the top of a mountain at a terrorist training camp, allegedly belonging to a jihadist group that had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in the Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14 in which more than 40 Indian soldiers had lost their lives.

Although the Pakistan Army’s official spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, tweeted after the Indian incursion that the Indian jets had intruded 3-4 miles in Muzaffarabad sector of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, according to location provided by local residents, as reported by BBC Urdu[1], the site of the airstrike was dozens of miles inside the Pakistani territory between Balakot and Mansehra.

In order to understand the underlying causes of the Kashmir dispute, the history of India and Pakistan needs to be revisited. Although secularism, pluralism and multiculturalism are the accepted social axioms of modern worldview, the demand for separate nationhood on the basis of ethno-linguistic identity is accepted in the Western discourse; and it cannot simply be dismissed on the premise that since pluralism and multiculturalism are the accepted principles, therefore the creation of a nation state on the basis of ethno-linguistic identity becomes redundant. The agreed-upon principles of pluralism and multiculturalism become operative after the creation of a nation state and not before it.

Similarly, even though secularism is an accepted principle in the Western discourse, but an ethno-religious group cannot be denied its right to claim separate nationhood on the basis of religious identity; in this case also, the principle of inclusive secularism becomes functional after the creation of a state and not prior to it.

The Muslims of Pakistan share a lot of cultural similarities with their Hindu brethren as well, because we share a similar regional culture and lingua franca, Urdu or Hindi; however, different ethno-linguistic groups comprising Pakistan – the Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch – have more in common with each other than with the Hindus of India, because all of them belong to the same religion Islam.

Before joining the Muslim League, Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was one of the leading proponents of Hindu-Muslim unity. He attended the meetings of the inner circle of the Indian National Congress, and reached a well-considered conclusion that the outwardly liberal and secular Congress was nothing more than a thinly veiled Hindu nationalist party.

Even today, 70 years after the independence, Muslims constitute 15% of India’s 1.2 billion population, that’s more than 180 million Muslims in India today. Although we do find a few showpiece Muslims in ceremonial positions, I would like to know what is the representation of Muslims in India’s state institutions, their proportion in higher bureaucracy, judiciary, police and army, and their presence and participation in India’s civic and political life?

Fact of the matter is that just like the Indian National Congress, the Republic of India is also nothing more than a thinly disguised Hindu nationalist state. The Indian Muslims have lagged so far behind and they have been disenfranchised to such an extent that they need some kind of an “affirmative action,” like the one carried out in the US during the 1960s to improve the miserable lot of Afro-American communities.

Regardless, here we must try to understand the attitudes and mindsets of the British Indian leaders that why did they favor certain rallying calls and disapproved the rest? In my opinion, this preferential treatment had to do with personal inclinations and ambitions of the British Indian leaders and the interests of their respective communities as perceived by the leaders in heterogeneous and multi-ethnic societies like the British India.

A leader whose ambitions were limited only to his own ethnic group would rally his followers around their shared ethno-linguistic identity, but politicians who had larger ambitions would look for common factors that unite diverse ethnic groups, that’s where the role of religion becomes politically relevant in traditional societies.

It suited the personal ambitions of the Muslim League leadership to rally their supporters around the cause of Islamic identity, and it benefited the political agenda of the Congress leadership to unite all Indians under the banner of a more inclusive and secular Indian national identity in order to keep India united under the permanent yoke of numerical Hindu majority.

However, mere rhetoric is never a substitute for tangible actions, no matter how noble and superficially appealing it may sound. The Indian National Congress right from its inception was a thinly disguised Hindu nationalist party that only had a pretense of inclusive secularism, that’s why some of the most vocal proponents of Hindu-Muslim unity, like Jinnah and Iqbal, later became its most fierce critics, especially after Gandhi and his protégé Nehru took over the leadership of Congress in 1921.

Although Orientalist historians generally give credit to Jinnah, as an individual, for single-handedly realizing the dream of Pakistan, in fact the Pakistan Movement was the logical conclusion of the Aligarh Movement. This fact elucidates that how much difference a single educational institution can make in the history of nations. Aligarh Muslim University bred whole generations of educated Muslims who were acutely aware of decadent state of Muslims in British India, and most of them later joined the Muslim League to make the dream of Pakistan a reality.

Regarding the allegation that the Muslim League leaders were imperialist collaborators, until Lord Wavell, the British viceroys used to take a reasonably neutral approach toward communal issues in British India, but on the eve of the independence of India and Pakistan, the Indian leaders Gandhi and Nehru specifically implored Clement Attlee’s government in the UK to appoint Lord Louis Mountbatten as the viceroy of British India.

More importantly, the independence of India and Pakistan was originally scheduled for June 1948, but once again the Indian National Congress leadership beseeched the British Empire to bring the date of independence forward to August 1947. It was not a coincidence that on both critically important occasions, Her Majesty’s government obliged the Congress leadership because the British wanted to keep the Dominion of India within the folds of the British Commonwealth after the independence.

Had the British Raj in India not brought forward the date of independence by almost an year, the nascent Indian and Pakistani armed forces and border guards could have had an opportunity to avert the carnage that took place during the division of Punjab on the eve of independence.

Furthermore, Lord Mountbatten served as India’s first governor general and he helped Jawaharlal Nehru’s government consolidate the Indian dominion by forcefully integrating more than 500 princely states. Mountbatten also made a similar offer to Jinnah to serve as Pakistan’s governor general, too, and when the latter refused, Mountbatten threatened Jinnah in so many words: “It will cost you and the dominion of Pakistan more than just tables and chairs.”

No wonder then, it was the collusion between the Congress leadership, Radcliffe and Mountbatten that eventually culminated in the Indian troops’ successful invasion of the princely state of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir by using the Gurdaspur-Pathankot corridor that was provided to India by the Radcliffe boundary commission. Thus, creating a permanent territorial dispute between two neighbors that has not been resolved 70 years after the independence despite several United Nations resolutions and mediation efforts.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Note

[1] Indian airstrike in Pakistan-administered Kashmir:

https://www.bbc.com/urdu/pakistan-47366220

Featured image is from India.com

France and Italy Are Involved in a Proxy War in Libya

February 26th, 2019 by Andrew Korybko

The following is the full English-language interview that Andrew Korybko gave to RT (German) about the latest developments in Libya, which was published by the outlet in an abridged form under the title “Colonialism 2.0: France & Italy Are In A Proxy War In Libya”:

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RT: General Khalifa Haftar’s army has declared that it has captured the largest oil field in Libya. What are the consequences for the internationally recognized government in Tripoli that has controlled the field so far?

Andrew Korybko: The so-called “Government of National Accord” (GNA) is becoming increasingly marginalized and forced by circumstances into “politically compromising” with General Haftar’s unrecognized “Libyan National Army”, similar in a sense to how the internationally recognized Kabul government in Afghanistan is being pushed into doing the same with the Taliban despite the latter still being internationally regarded as a “terrorist organization” (currently banned by Russia but Moscow recently said that it would support lifting UN sanctions against it).

RT: How great is the chance that Khalifa Haftar could militarily take power in Tripoli in the absence of a political solution?

AK: General Haftar wants to avoid a military solution to the Libyan Civil War for both symbolic and pragmatic reasons, understanding how counterproductive it would be for his national reconciliation vision if both Libyan “governments” fight one another to the end in a disastrous battle that would only make life worse for the average citizen. Therefore, his strategy seems to be to make incremental progress around the capital’s peripheral regions in order to position the LNA as the kingmaker of Libyan affairs, after which the GNA would be pressured into making “political compromises” with it in the interests of national unity.

Image result for libya national army

Libyan National Army (Source: South Front)

Failing that, the LNA might advance closer to the capital, though possibly holding back on launching a full offensive and instead “tightening the noose” around it to provoke the people to “rise up” against the GNA and “open the gates” to General Haftar’s forces afterwards. Engaging in a large-scale battle for the capital would also be disadvantageous to the LNA’s soft power abroad because it could be interpreted as an unrecognized armed group trying to seize power from an internationally recognized government, which is another reason why he’s so sensitive about advancing that scenario.

RT: France has carried out air raids in the border area between Libya and Chad. Previously, Macron visited Egypt, considered the main supporter of the rival government in Tobruk under Khalifa Haftar. Does France undermine Tripoli?

AK: France has always had interests in Libya since the so-called “Scramble for Africa”, and it’s using its “G5 Sahel” regional anti-terrorist mandate to expand its influence near the southern Libyan border after it bombed an invading rebel group in northern Chad, which also complements the tacit (if not direct covert) support that it’s giving o General Haftar on the same implied basis (i.e. that he’s the most effective anti-terrorist force in the country). Paris expects that its efforts will pay off handsomely if he comes to power and grants French companies privileged rights in the Libyan energy industry.

RT: To what extent can it be said that France is waging a kind of proxy war against Italian interests in Libya? Italy is regarded as an influential supporter of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the energy giant ENI is also at risk of losing influence.

AK: The historic Italian-French competition reemerged after the 2011 NATO War on Libya succeeded in destroying the Jamahiriya and both European countries raced for control of its resources, with Paris trying to gain the upper hand over Rome’s entrenched interests there (inherited as a result of its colonial-era influence and geographic proximity). Nowadays the two neighboring countries are ideological enemies after Italy’s EuroRealist government stood up to France’s EuroLiberal one several prominent times over the past year, most notably with the Yellow Vests and the issue of illegal migration. Therefore, it’s not inconceivable that Paris might be hoping that General Haftar can be used as a proxy of sorts against Rome’s influence over Tripoli in order to carry out a geopolitical coup in the EU’s “Near Abroad” and send a message to Italy to “know its place” and never dare challenge France’s African ambitions again.

RT: France and Italy are both former colonial powers in Africa. How much does the colonial heritage still shape the geopolitical considerations of both countries in the region today?

AK: Both European powers’ colonial-era footprints in Africa powerfully shape their present-day geopolitical tussle over Libya. Italy is only just returning to the continent in a strategic sense after decades of withdrawing from it, so it has a lot of “catching up” to do with France. Paris has much more experience in this “game” than Rome does, which is why it prudently threw its weight behind General Haftar after correctly predicting that he’d be much more effective of a national unifying and anti-terrorist force than the deeply divided authorities in Tripoli that Rome decided to back instead. In terms of international law, Italy is “playing by the rules” while France is “breaking” them, though the latter will probably succeed because its strategy is much more pragmatic for pursuing its interests.

RT: The Foreign Policy article “The West Is Letting Libya Tear Itself Apart” points out that the European powers are using the Libyan conflict to make their own profit. To what extent do the Europeans have no long-term interest in peace in the country despite the continuing waves of refugees entering Europe from there?

AK: For as convincing as the argument put forth in the piece may be, and bearing in mind that there are some actors (both state and non-state ones) in Europe that want to perpetuate the conflict, it’s in the objective interests of the European powers to see peace prevail as soon as possible. Not only would this help them contain large-scale migrant flows from West Africa (which might become even worse in the coming future as Mali’s Libyan-triggered destabilization spreads to Burkina Faso and endangers stability in its neighboring coastal nations of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin), but it would also make the profitable enterprises of energy extraction and post-war reconstruction much more reliable.

RT: Officials in Tripoli like to explain that Haftar cannot market the oil despite taking the wells because the National Oil Corporation (NOC) controls its sale. To what extent could Haftar possibly circumvent this process in the future? What other reasons could there be for Haftar to launch his offensive in southern Libya?

AK: Tripoli’s international backers are surely scrutinizing activities along the Libyan coast and trying to ensure that General Haftar isn’t in violation of the prohibition placed upon selling the country’s oil outside of the NOC’s ambit, and he probably understands that it would be more politically beneficial in the long term for him to abide by this than to circumvent it for the sake of short-term profits. He didn’t capture the southern Libyan oilfields to finance his war effort, but to enter into a kingmaker position whereby the NOC and its internationally recognized owners of the GNA in Tripoli are placed in a position of strategic dependence on him that could consequently compel them to make “political compromises” such as constitutional reform and a power-sharing arrangement ahead of national elections.

RT: The United States AFRICOM commander Thomas Waldhauser accused Russia of seeking to reinforce its presence in Libya. Does Russia really play such a strong role on the Haftar side? After all, it also maintains relations with Tripoli.

AK: Russia’s 21st-century strategic vision is to becoming the supreme “balancer” of Afro-Eurasian affairs, which I elaborated on at length in my analysis on the topic last year titled “Russia’s Grand Strategy In Afro-Eurasia (And What Could Go Wrong)”. In this specific context, most of the reports about Russia’s so-called “presence” in Libya originate from the Western Mainstream Media’s unverified accusations that reek of a discrediting infowar intent designed to disrupt Moscow’s equally cordial relations with both the GNA and Haftar and therefore undermine its delicate “balancing” strategy between them. Russia isn’t taking sides in this conflict but hopes to use its diplomatic influence with both parties to broker a political solution to the conflict along the lines of what it just astonishingly pulled off in the much more war-wrecked Central African Republic earlier this month.

RT: Russia is particularly active in Africa in the Central African Republic. It also maintains good relations with Sudan and is an actor in Libya. What geopolitical strategy is Moscow pursuing on the continent and are there goals such as building up spheres of influence during Soviet times?

AK: Russia is creatively utilizing various low-cost but highly effective instruments of power to bring stability to Africa following the “Democratic Security” model that I described in detail in my recent piece titled “The US Is More Afraid Of Losing Africa To Russia Than To China”, all of which is in accordance with international law and importantly doesn’t violate state sovereignty unlike the US and France’s preferred methods when they claim to be doing the same. Sudan is Russia’s gateway into the continent, which I explained in an analysis last year titled “Russia’s Railroad Expertise Could Reshape African Geopolitics” about how Khartoum’s invitation for Moscow to participate in its international railway projects could result in Russia powerfully exerting its multipolar integrational influence all across the continent. It should also be noted that Sudan’s diplomatic assistance was crucial for reaching the latest Russian-brokered Central African Republic peace accord that was just clinched in Khartoum.

Contrary to the comparatively more static state of affairs during the Old Cold War, the New Cold War doesn’t have any clear-cut ideological or geopolitical fault lines and is much more dynamic, seeing as how methods of influence have diversified to the point where information networks, soft power, and integrational projects are much more important than ever. Russia is in the process of crafting a comprehensive but nevertheless flexible strategy for all of Africa capable of adapting to changing circumstances and shaping them in the direction of its partners’ shared interests, which takes the form of implementing custom “Democratic Security” solutions that can sustainably create the environment for socio-economic development and international integration initiatives to succeed. With Sudan as its bridgehead, it can be said that Russia is focusing on Northeast (Horn of Africa), Central, and East Africa most of all, which also happen to be the regions where other extra-regional powers like China, the UAE, and India are deepening their presence as well.

RT: Turkey and Qatar support the Tripoli-backed troops in Misrata. Again and again there are coming up pictures of alleged arms deliveries from Turkey. Will Ankara, which has also invested heavily in Ubari, interfere in the conflict in southern Libya?

AK: Turkey or any other of the Misrata forces’ alleged foreign backers have a much easier time supporting them than those in Ubari would for reasons of simple geography: Misrata is a Mediterranean coastal city while Ubari is a Saharan oasis. Ankara has amazing relations with Khartoum, but its regional partner is dealing with a lot of internal turmoil at the moment and also has no desire to allow its territory to be used for interfering with its Libyan neighbor, thereby precluding the possibility of Turkey clandestinely shipping weapons there through that access point and somehow also circumventing General Haftar’s forces across the approximately 1,000 miles from the Sudanese border to that city.

It might, however, try to funnel some of the weapons that it’s reported to have provided to the Misrata forces towards the southern front, but that probably won’t be a game-changer in any case even if it does so because those fighters might already be demoralized by General Haftar’s swift successes in the region. Turkey simply lacks the means to change the military dynamics in that part of Libya, though its continued support for the Misrata forces might make it impossible for General Haftar to stage a final assault on the GNA without suffering unacceptable casualties and resulting in the total destruction of the northern region around the capital.

RT: There are rumours that Misrata wants to use the conflict in southern Libya actually to consolidate its own power in Tripoli. What do you think of such statements?​

AK: It’s possible that the weakening of the GNA coalition brought about by the defeat of their southern forces could lead to Misrata’s becoming even more pivotal players in the internationally recognized government, resulting in General Haftar having to secure their support for any “political compromise” that he compels Tripoli to undertake in the coming future.

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This article was 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.

The United Nations’ highest court on Monday called Britain’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands “illegal” and urged London to “decolonize” the remote archipelago — which is home to one of the most important US overseas military bases — by returning the islands to Mauritius.

In a 13-1 vote, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands issued an advisory opinion declaring that the Chagos Islands were not lawfully separated from the former British colony of Mauritius, which was forced to give up the islands in 1965 in exchange for independence. ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the “unlawful” separation had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned” and was therefore a “wrongful act.”

“The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, thereby allowing Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory,” Yusuf asserted.

The ICJ agreed with Mauritius’ submission, which argued it had been coerced into giving up the islands. Such an act is a violation of UN Resolution 1514, which prohibits the breakup of colonies before independence. The only judge who dissented from the court’s main opinion was Joan E. Donoghue of the United States.

“This is a historic moment for Mauritius and all its people, including the Chagossians who were unconscionably removed from their homeland and prevented from returning for the last half century,” Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said after the decision. “Our territorial integrity will now be made complete, and when that occurs, the Chagossians and their descendants will finally be able to return home.”

The British Foreign Office responded by noting the ICJ action was “an advisory opinion, not a judgment” and that it would “carefully” consider its contents. London calls the remote archipelago the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). It paid Mauritius, which gained independence in 1968, over £4 million, or nearly $90 million today, for islands, which include the Diego Garcia atoll.

Today Diego Garcia is one of the largest and most important US military bases in the world. Dozens of US warships along with thousands of troops and support staff are stationed there, and the base is crucial to US operations in the Middle East. However, until the late 1960s Diego Garcia was home to around 1,500 Chagossians, a Creole-speaking people who lived peacefully in the paradisiacal archipelago with their beloved dogs. The John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations secretly convinced Britain to grant exclusive control over the atoll, “without local inhabitants,” to the US. American documents refer to “sweeping” and “sanitizing” the island, while a top British official privately wrote that “we must surely be very tough about this… there will be no indigenous population except seagulls.” One British diplomatic cable at the time referred to Chagossians as “Tarzans.”

The island’s residents were tricked, scared or forced into leaving. When a contingent of US Marines arrived, they told the Chagossians they would be bombed or shot if they didn’t go. In a bid to hasten the evacuation, the islanders’ dogs were rounded up and gassed to death with exhaust fumes from US military vehicles before being burned in front of grieving and terrified children. Chagossians were allowed to take a single suitcase each before being herded onto cargo ships, never to return home again.

Most Chagossians were dumped, initially without any compensation, a thousand miles (1,600 km) away in the island nation of Mauritius, where they were treated as second-class citizens and where many ended up living lives of abject poverty and heartbreak in the slums of the capital, Port Louis. There, they learned the meaning of debt, unemployment, drugs and prostitution. It wasn’t long before suicides and child deaths took a heavy toll on the refugees. Meanwhile, and without any apparent sense of irony, the US military called its new Halliburton-built base on Diego Garcia Camp Justice.

The expulsion of an entire people from its homeland was not reported to Congress or the American people. Britain lied, claiming “there is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation.” To this day, Chagossians are fighting for the right to return to their homeland. They’ve been unsuccessful despite two British High Court rulings declaring their removal illegal. Most will likely die without ever seeing home again.

“Back home was paradise,” 81-year-old Samynaden Rosemond, who was 36 when he was forced from Diego Garcia, told the BBC in Port Louis, Mauritius last year. “If I die here my spirit will be everywhere; it wouldn’t be happy. But if I die there, I will be in peace.”

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Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based freelance author and editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com.

Featured image is from PA

Emergencies Do Not Trump the Constitution

February 26th, 2019 by Rep. Ron Paul

After Congress rejected President Trump’s request for 5.7 billion dollars for the border wall, the president declared a national emergency at the southern border. Present Trump claims this “emergency” gives him the authority to divert funds appropriated for other purposes to building the border wall.

President Trump’s emergency declaration is not just an end run around Congress. It is an end run around the Constitution. Article One of the Constitution gives Congress sole authority to allocate federal funds.

While President Trump’s order may be a particularly blatant abuse of power, it is hardly unprecedented. Most modern presidents have routinely used so-called national emergencies to expand their power, often at the expense of liberty. For example, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used “emergency powers” to justify internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two.

President Trump, like other recent presidents, is relying on the 1976 National Emergencies Act for legal justification for his emergency declaration. This act gives the president broad powers to declare national emergencies for almost any reason. All the president need do is inform Congress he has declared an emergency. Once the emergency is declared, the president simply needs to renew the declaration once a year to maintain a state of emergency. Since this act passed, 59 emergency declarations have been issued, with 31 of those still in effect.

Another statute giving the president broad “emergency” powers is the Defense Production Act. Under this law, the president can force private businesses to produce goods for the military. The law also enables the president to impose wage and price controls and even make loans to private businesses. All a president need do to invoke these vast powers is submit “findings” to Congress that “national security” requires the president seize near-dictatorial control of certain industries or even the entire economy. According to the Congressional Research Service, some presidents have invoked the Defense Production Act without making the required findings to Congress, and the act has been used to justly federal interference in areas having little or nothing to do with national defense.

Section 606(c) of the Communications Act gives the president “emergency” power to seize control of every television network, radio station, smartphone, laptop, and other electronic devices.

Emergency powers are not the only means by which presidents violate the Constitution. The 2001 authorization for use of military force (AUMF), which only authorizes the president to use force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks, has been used to justify military interventions that have no relationship to those attacks. The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify mass surveillance, indefinite detention, and even “kill lists.” Fortunately, Representative John Garamendi has introduced the Walter B. Jones Restoring Power to Congress Act that would pay tribute to a true champion of peace by repealing the 2001 AUMF.

Many neoconservatives and progressives who defended prior presidents’ abuses of power are critical of President Trump’s emergency declaration. These “never-Trumpers” will no doubt resume their love affair with the imperial presidency when the Oval Office is again occupied by someone who shares their agenda.

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution terminating President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Hopefully, this precedent will be used against all future presidents who use spurious claims of national emergencies to expand their powers and shrink our liberties.

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If more people understood that “aid” often goes hand in hand with military intervention there would be less uncritical support for it.

An important, though little acknowledged, principle of Canadian ‘aid’ policy is that military intervention elicits international assistance. Or, in the case of Venezuela ‘aid’ is a tool being used to stoke military conflict.

In fact, a long-standing element of foreign policy is that wherever Canadian and US troops kill Ottawa provides ‘aid’. This military-intervention-equals-aid pattern dates back at least to the 1950-53 Korean War when the south of that country was a major recipient of Canadian assistance. Canadian ‘aid’ flowed  to south Vietnam during the U.S. war there and to Grenada after the 1983 US invasion. During the 1990-91 Iraq war Canada provided $75 million in assistance to people in countries affected by the Gulf crisis. Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed into Haiti after Canadian troops helped overthrow the country’s elected government in 2004. In the years after the invasions, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti were the top three recipients of Canadian ‘aid’. A sizable proportion of the $2 billion in ‘aid’ Canada spent in Afghanistan was a public relations exercise to justify the war.

The intervention-equals-aid pattern is an outgrowth of the primary objective of Canadian overseas assistance, which is to advance Western interests, particularly keeping the Global South tied to the US-led geopolitical order (as articulated  in 1950 when Ottawa began its first significant non-European allocation of foreign aid through the Colombo Plan).

Justin Trudeau announced Canada would deliver $53 million in ‘aid’ to Venezuelans at the most recent “Lima Group” meeting. The Ottawa gathering also called on the Venezuelan military to oust  the elected president and urged the military not to impede humanitarian assistance from entering the country. The US and self-appointed interim president Juan Guaidó have made delivering ‘aid’ central to their campaign to oust Maduro. US military planes have transported hundreds of tons of ‘aid’ to the Colombian border City of Cucuta. To test the military’s loyalty to the government, Guaidó announced plans to force ‘aid’ into the country.The US and Colombia clearly aimed exploit this moment to intervene.

Whether it reaches the point of armed confrontation, the ‘aid’ gambit is a public relations strategy. The aim is to exaggerate the scope of the economic downturn and to portray Nicolas Maduro as indifferent to the population’s (real) hardships.The public relations campaign even included a “Live Aid” style Venezuela fundraiser put on by billionaire Richard Branson in Cucuta last night before Guaido said he will seek to force ‘aid’ into the country. The concert fizzled with only about 5,000 people showing up and some artists pulling out at the last minute.

For their part, the International Red Cross and UN have refused to participate in the US led ‘aid’ endeavor. A UN spokesperson called Washington’s ‘aid’ plan “politicised”.

The politics driving the ‘aid’ deployment is obvious, but some progressives have been seduced by the label. In an internal memo responding to media backlash over their principled criticism of Ottawa’s regime change efforts in Venezuela, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said it supports the federal government’s decision to increase humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans. But, the slow-moving coup attempt and Canadian ‘aid’ disbursements can’t be separated. They are simply different parts of a single plan.

It’s not uncommon for progressive organizations to support ‘imperial aid’ as a way to soften their criticism of international policies. At their 2006 convention, for instance, the NDP leadership sought to temper the “troops out” of Afghanistan demand pushed by activists by including language in the resolution that called for “support[ing] the continuation of development assistance to Afghanistan.” But, the ‘aid’ there was obviously designed to support Canada’s military occupation.

In the academic literature it’s understood that the Canadian International Development Agency was “not a policy maker, but a policy taker.” The dissolution of CIDA into Global Affairs Canada in 2013 further subordinated aid policy to foreign policy objectives.

Far and away the largest contribution announced, Canada’s humanitarian assistance to Venezuela is not designed to alleviate suffering. Its aim is to overthrow the government, which may spark and/or require war. If that disastrous situation develops, we need to add the ‘aid-leading-to-military intervention principle’ to our critical foreign policy lexicon.

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UK Aid to Yemen: The Best Thing May Can Do for Yemen Is to Stop Arming the Saudi Regime

February 26th, 2019 by CAAT - Campaign Against Arms Trade

Yesterday the Prime Minister, Theresa May pledged £200 million worth of aid for the people of Yemen. However, she has refused to stop arming and supporting the Saudi Arabian regime, which has caused much of the damage. The ongoing bombardment has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:

  • £2.7 billion worth of ML10 licenses (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.9 billion worth of ML4 licenses (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

In reality the figures could be a great deal higher, with most bombs and missiles being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:

“Any aid that reaches people in need must be welcomed. But that can’t disguise the role of UK-made arms or the complicity of the UK Government in the bombardment, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

This war could not be fought without the fighter jets and bombs being licensed by the UK and other arms dealing governments. The best thing that May and her colleagues can do for the people of Yemen is to stop the arms sales and do all that she can to end this terrible war.”

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Juan Guaido: A Traitor to His People

February 26th, 2019 by Radio Havana Cuba

The self-proclaimed “Provisional President of Venezuela,” Juan Guaidó, is an expert in dangerous actions, who — in pursuit of his unending ambition — will go down in history as a person that broke all the rules of decency and democracy.

Colombian journalist Rafael Croda recalls that Guaidó was elected Chairman of the Venezuelan National Assembly, a body that has proclaimed its unwillingness to accept the mandate of the duly-elected president of the country, Nicolas Maduro.

Since the President of Venezuela was elected by a sizable majority of the population in free, democratic elections, the step taken by Guaidó is unconstitutional.

The other two politicians that shared the leadership of his political formation are two criminals sanctioned by the courts.  One is Leopoldo López, who is serving a term of house arrest, and the other is Freddy Guevara, a fugitive of justice who is enjoying temporary asylum in the Chilean Embassy in Caracas.

When the opposition group in the National Assembly managed to approve a decision that rejected the ample victory of President Nicolas Maduro in the recent elections, the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice rejected the Parliamentary decision.  This was the opportunity of Juan Guaidó to proclaim himself Interim President of Venezuela, in open violation of the national constitution and the will of the Venezuela voters.   In fact, the Venezuelan National Assembly was taken by surprise by the move of Juan Guadó.   One possible explanation is that Mr. Guaido knew very well that the National Assembly would never choose him as provisional “president,” a move dictated by Guaidó’s ambitions and by his masters in Washington.

This overly-ambitions person has broken all constitutional rules in Venezuela, but apparently he and his boss, Donald Trump, couldn’t care less.   Guaidó’s master, with eyes fixed on Venezuela’s oil and other valuable mineral reserves, was quick to extend diplomatic recognition to his Venezuelan protege and was able to get many Western European nations to follow suit.

Guaidó himself showed his true self when he tearfully called for a military intervention against his own country, even if he knows that such a move will spread death and destruction in Venezuela.

If this aggression takes place, every single death, every single injury, every single tear, every desolated mother or fatherless child, will fall upon this worthless human being.

If the U.S. attack on Venezuela takes place, every single victim will fall upon the conscience of Guaidó and his protector: Donald Trump.

They should know, however, that it won’t be easy. Latin America and the people of the world are backing the Venezuelan people and their inalienable right to rule themselves and protect their resources from foreign imperialists and their local henchmen.

The aggressors are properly identified and their names will be inscribed in the world’s memory as what they are: traitors!

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Last August during an Oval Office meeting, Trump pressed aides, asking why can’t the US invade Venezuela to topple Maduro.

“why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?”

According to AP News, then-Secretary of State Tillerson and national security advisor McMaster opposed the idea, according to an unnamed regime official “familiar with what was said,” AP reported.

McMaster reportedly explained that US military action against Venezuela is opposed by Latin and Central American countries. Employing this option would risk losing their support.

Vanity Fair, July 4, 2018

Reportedly, Trump pushed back, citing earlier “gunboat diplomacy” in Central America, AP saying

“(t)he idea, despite his aides’ best attempts to shoot it down, would nonetheless persist in the president’s head.”

He raised the issue several more times, including with then-Colombian narco-terrorist president/Nobel Peace Prize recipient Juan Manuel Santos. Separately, he said

“(w)e have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”

Last September, he discussed it on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with four Latin American leaders, including Santos, according to Politico.

AP said his talk of military action against Venezuela “unnerve(d)” Latin American leaders. In early February on CBS News’ Face the Nation, he said military intervention against the Bolivarian Republic is an “option.” It’s “something” he’s considering.

In his Presidents’ Day address in Miami, he indirectly raised the issue as an option, saying “(w)e  seek a peaceful transition of power (sic), but all options are open.”

In response, Maduro blasted what he called his “Nazi style” address, adding: “Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami? They think they are the owners of the country.”

A previous article explained that US SOUTHCOM commander General Mark Stammer visited Colombia in early February. He met with hardline Duque regime Foreign Minister Guillermo Botero, likely with its military commanders as well.

A US army EO-5C reconnaissance plane was spotted flying in Colombian airspace near the Venezuelan border, spying on the Maduro government.

Weeks earlier, Bolton’s notebook had a notation about 5,000 US troops to Colombia. Acting war secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Pentagon is closely monitoring events in Venezuela. When asked about possible US military intervention, he declined to rule it out.

On Saturday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted:

“The agencies of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are not taking part in the US-Colombian show on the (Venezuelan) border due to a certain reason: it is absolutely clear that this operation has political goals and could not be described as humanitarian.”

“…Pompeo, a CIA specialist on false flag operations, thinks that he will fool the world with the truck that was set on fire in Colombia by his own agents,” adding:

“Pompeo and his hit men are desperately looking for a cause for war. Today, the operation failed. If you want to find those who burnt the truck with fake humanitarian aid, look for them among your own staff.”

Addressing thousands of supporters on Saturday, Maduro said

“I am steady as never before, firm like this tree, governing this country now and” for the remainder of his term of office.

On Saturday, a Pompeo press statement recited a litany of bald-faced Big Lies. He lied calling usurper in waiting Guaido “an inspiration to the world.”

He lied calling democratically elected and reelected Maduro “a dictator.” He lied claiming Saturday’s Trojan horse PR stunt aimed to deliver “life-saving humanitarian aid to” the Venezuelan people.

He lied blaming Maduro for US-orchestrated violence along Venezuela’s borders with neighboring states. He falsely blamed Maduro for US high crimes against the sovereign state.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” he roared, falsely calling illegal US intervention its “support for democracy” Republicans and undemocratic Dems abhor at home and abroad.

He threatened Maduro saying

“(t)he United States will take action against and hold accountable those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy (sic) in Venezuela.”

On Saturday, the Trump regime’s malign intent was foiled. Along with tougher illegal sanctions, is military intervention its next option – either by invasion or by use of armed proxies.

The latter option is most likely. Trump’s envoy for regime change in Venezuela Elliott Abrams is an expert in smuggling arms to US proxies, used to topple governments targeted for regime change.

More US-orchestrated violence and bloodshed is likely coming – Maduro to be falsely blamed for Trump regime high crimes against sovereign Venezuela.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

It is hard to say exactly when it started – in 2008 in the midst of the credit crisis, in the early 2000’s when the Federal Reserve initiated artificially low interest rates which helped to create the vast US mortgage bubble, or maybe the root goes all the way back to 1913 when the Federal Reserve was founded, but somewhere along the line America entered severe economic decay. One certainty is that signals in the fundamentals become visible every time the Fed inflates a financial bubble to stall a crash and then tightens policy without waiting for the economy to show true alignment.

This pattern is, in my view, not about the Fed “bumbling in the dark”. In fact, I see most Fed activities as quite deliberate, including the creation and deflation of large credit and equities bubbles. Sometimes these crashing bubbles are used as an excuse by the Fed to launch an even more invasive program of stimulus, and sometimes the bubbles are allowed to collapse, allowing international banks to vacuum up hard assets for pennies on the dollar. During the most widespread collapse events, the banking elites use the chaos and distraction to not only centralize assets, but shift entire geopolitical and fiscal dynamics in order to centralize power.

There is much debate in alternative economic analysis on which type of event we are facing today. There is not much debate, though, on the fact that the fundamentals are screaming bloody murder. The cycle has started over again.

I would point out that since the 2008 credit crash a true recovery has never materialized. We have heard about in endlessly in the mainstream financial media, and to this day we hear Fed officials declare the US economy “on course” and “strong”, but the evidence has always been to the contrary. The Fed itself presents two primary factors as proof of recovery: GDP and Employment.

GDP is of course a fallacy, with a large portion of US “production” attributed to government spending, or government programs that tax the public in order to generate revenue. This is not true production as the government is not a producer. Rather, the government tends to misallocate and erase wealth instead of creating it.

Employment is another fraudulent statistic. The numbers released to the public are a gross misrepresentation of the economic picture, as they ignore the 95 million working age people no longer counted by the Bureau of Labor as unemployed because they have been removed from the rolls. The numbers also do not take into account the quality of jobs being created versus the quality of jobs that have been lost. Part time and low wage service sector jobs do not boost the economy, nor do they allow people to adequately support a family, but these are the kinds of jobs (U-6 Measurements) that make up the majority of the so-called economic recovery.

Other fundamentals have remained in poor condition for years but are rarely discussed in the mainstream media. The system has been kept barely afloat by one factor and one factor alone – Federal Reserve stimulus and low interest rate measures. It is important to note that multiple fundamentals began blaring recessionary alarms the moment the Fed began raising interest rates and cutting assets from its balance sheet. Without endless Fed stimulus, the illusion of recovery melts away.

For the past several months the housing market has been in steep decline, with sales cratering in December by 10.3%. Housing prices are falling in many areas of the country, but lag (as they tend to do) far behind the more immediate indicator of sales. The Fed’s increasing interest rates have translated to higher mortgage rates across the board. Without low interest rates corporate buyers are leaving the market, resting the fate of housing on normal consumers who clearly do not have the capital or credit.

Auto sales have been comparatively dismal, posting declines through the end of 2018 into early 2019, with 2019 expected to be the worst year overall. Once again, with rising interest rates, major purchases have become less appealing to the average consumer.

Retail sales have now posted the worst December numbers since 2009. Retail sales are often presented by the mainstream media as the end all argument for economic recovery. Yet they fail to mention the problem of consumer credit, which has ballooned over the past several years to record highs. In our unstable economic environment, low interest rates fuel debt, debt fuels credit and credit (instead of savings) fuels consumer purchases. Without low interest rates, the entire house of cards comes tumbling down.

I also find it interesting that while retail sales are crumbling, consumer debt continues to rise. If consumers are taking on more debt, where is that money going if not into purchases? My suspicion is that new debt is being taken on in order to pay off old debts. If this terrible cycle is the underlying source of expanding personal credit, then retail sales indicate that we are close to the end of the game.

Credit and lending where it counts is now faltering. Small business loans have plunged the past few months, with a 9.7% drop in December. While consumer credit is inflating, lending on a broader scale to support the business sector is falling as interest rates rise.

US PMI manufacturing stats have been falling for most of the past year as well, recently posting the biggest drop in 17 months.  The decline in manufacturing globally has translated to a sharp decline in the amount of freight shipped each month across the country as well as shipped overseas.  It’s beginning to look a lot like 2008 once again.

According to traditional thinking in essentially every concrete aspect of the US economy we are entering recession territory. I would amend this thinking and say that we were ALWAYS in a recession or depression; it was only the Fed’s low interest rates and stimulus that allowed this fact to be hidden from the public. Now that the Fed has tightened policy, the lie of recovery has become obvious.

The question is what the Fed plan calls for next. Will they use the current downturn to reintroduce even more stimulus? This seems to be what the majority of analysts believe will happen, but I disagree. The ‘Everything Bubble’ was created by the Fed for a reason; it was not an accident. Such a bubble is a perfect weapon for triggering sweeping economic and political changes not just in the US but around the globe. Why would the Fed create such a weapon and then refuse to use it?

The mainstream narrative has been building for over two years now – a “populist uprising” has begun in the Western world, and it will cause great turmoil as it undermines the “stability” of globalism. With an acceptable scapegoat in place to take the blame for a crash, the Fed has pulled the plug on life support for the ailing economy. In order to cover their bases, they have now changed the vocabulary of their statements, using words like “accommodation”.

What amazes me, though, is how quickly the alternative media have bought into this rhetoric. The Fed changes a few words within their statements, and suddenly this means they have “capitulated” on interest rates and asset cuts? The Fed uses a few choice words and suddenly we are all talking about QE4? This is absurd.

The Fed has not stopped policy tightening so far.  With a week left in the month of February, the central bank has already cut approximately $58 billion from its balance sheet.  This is one of the largest asset dumps so far.  Some economists have argued that the Fed would never actually dump the announced $50 billion, and would stay below $34 billion per month.  Obviously they were wrong.

Fed dot plots still remain unchanged, with at least two more rate hikes planned for this year.

What I see is more smoke and mirrors and magical thinking, more hints at promises that were never actually promised, and a host of dangerous assumptions permeating the economic world. It is certainly possible that the damage of Fed tightening has already been done. Perhaps there is no longer any need for them to tighten further to cause the crash they obviously desire. However, asset cuts have not stopped yet, and Fed dot plots still call for at least two more rate hikes in 2019.

I wonder what will happen if, in March, the Fed does not capitulate as the majority expect? Would it come as a shock if the Fed continues dumping its balance sheet? It will certainly send markets into a spiral if it hikes interest rates yet again (or indicates future interest rate hikes), given that almost everyone is factoring in rate cuts for 2019 rather than rate hikes.

Until we see an actual reversal of asset cuts and rate hikes, I’m not buying the rhetoric from the Fed.

And what will the Fed say if this shock occurs? Well, I expect they would continue to say that the US economy is “strong”, ignoring the fundamentals as they always have. I also expect that they would say that they never promised a reversal of tightening policy (which is true), though they will probably continue to add “dovish” words into their public statements as a psychological steam valve for the crash. In fact, the markets have made an array of assumptions that were not at all in line with Fed comments on the “strong” US economy. The blame will fall on over-zealous investors, the blame will fall on the media in part for encouraging false optimism, and the establishment will blame the “populist menace” and the trade war for any negative consequences.

This is why it is important to expose the direct relationship between Fed bubbles, Fed tightening and the collapse of the fundamentals. The central bank is deliberately creating economic crisis conditions.  When chaos strikes, the Fed will attempt to obscure their dominant role in economic decline. It is our job to grab hold of their neck like pitbulls and never let them free.

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Leading Israel Lobby Group Sees Massive Rise in Budget

February 25th, 2019 by David Cronin

A leading pro-Israel group in Brussels has seen its budget increase fivefold over the past few years.

The European Jewish Association has become increasingly prominent in efforts to counter the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. One of its campaign priorities is to convince political parties that they should issue policy statements rejecting the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.

The association has a massive war chest.

The latest annual budget that it declared came to $8.5 million. That is five times the $1.7 million per year figure previously stated by the association.

Image result for menachem margolin

I asked Menachem Margolin (image on the right), head of the European Jewish Association, to explain the increase. I asked him, too, how much his group receives from the Israeli government.

Margolin replied that “since we can’t really consider you as a great supporter” of his organization, “we won’t answer your questions and won’t provide you [with] any information” about it.

The $8.5 million budget was declared by the association for the 2016 financial year. It has not yet entered figures for subsequent years into a register of lobbyists set up by European Union administrators.

The latest such entry made by the association cites “donations” as the source of all its funding, without giving further details. A trawl through the EU’s lobbying register indicates that the European Jewish Association is now the wealthiest pro-Israel lobby group headquartered in Brussels.

The budget increase enjoyed by the association reflects how Israel and its supporters are spending more on trying to fight BDS activists. In late 2017, it was reported that $72 million had been earmarked for that purpose, with the funds coming both from the Israeli state and from private donors.

Double standards

The efforts to combat the BDS movement have been overseen by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs. He has warned that campaigners who urge a boycott of Israel will pay an unspecified “price.”

A documentary made by Al Jazeera – censored under pressure from the Israel lobby – showed how the strategic affairs ministry is gathering data on Palestine solidarity activists, with a view to taking action against them. In a recent report, the ministry dismissed as “terrorists in suits” a number of Palestinians who are outspoken in demanding justice and equality for their people.

The European Jewish Association has been in direct contact with Erdan. Photographs on its website show that the association played host to Erdan during a 2017 visit to Brussels.

Furthermore, the association has organized events jointly with the Israeli government.

Like many similar lobbyists, Menachem Margolin has displayed double standards. At the same time as accusing the BDS movement of anti-Semitism – even though it strenuously opposes racial and religious bigotry – Margolin has advocated engagement with genuine anti-Semites.

Last year, he contended that Israel should be willing to work with Europe’s far-right parties if they are in government. He was effectively stating that Israel should be prepared to overlook how Austria’s Freedom Party wants concentration camps for refugees or how Poland’s Law and Justice has denied what really happened during the Holocaust once their top figures are being driven around in ministerial cars.

Smeared

I am among the campaigners whom Margolin has smeared.

In January, the European Jewish Association issued a statement alleging that my blog on The Electronic Intifada “glorifies” the actions of Hamas. When I challenged Margolin to produce evidence of such glorification, he said “everyone can make mistakes and get wrong information.”

Despite acknowledging – at least implicitly – that he had made false claims against me, Margolin has not yet retracted his statement.

He indicated that he would only be prepared to do so if I condemned Hamas. That is an unreasonable condition.

Arguing that Palestinians have the right to resist Israel’s apartheid system – as I have repeatedly – is not the same thing as glorifying the actions of a particular organization.

Margolin has formed a number of pro-Israel organizations in Brussels. Some – including The Joseph Project and the European Cultural Center – are secretive and appear to have published virtually no information about their activities. Margolin works from a building within walking distance of the main EU institutions.

The European Jewish Association is not the only pro-Israel group to see its budget rise substantially.

The AJC Transatlantic Institute – the Brussels branch of the American Jewish Committee – has almost $1 million per year at its disposal. That is more than three times the institute’s declared budget for 2010.

David Harris, a top figure in the American Jewish Committee, explained back in 2004 how the pro-Israel lobby was paying greater attention to the European Union as the bloc was expanding in size. “We need to be there, just as we need to be at the United Nations,” Harris said.

Israel and its supporters are evidently investing vast sums on trying to influence the EU and thwart the BDS movement. While they may have some short-term successes, they could ultimately find out that all their money has been wasted.

BDS tactics rely on people power if they are to prove successful. With public awareness about Palestine growing, there appears to be little danger that ordinary folk will suddenly fall in love with Israel, no matter how much it spends in Brussels, Geneva, New York or Washington.

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Featured image: The European Jewish Association has played host to Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs. (European Jewish Association)

We know that the genetic engineering of the plant and animal kingdom alters their DNA, and does the same to those who regularly ingest GM foods. People, animals, fish, insects and plants that absorb or are cross contaminated by other genetically modified species, are the victims of the recombinant DNA laboratory techniques used in genetic engineering.

It’s not for nothing that the engineered produce that emerges out of this process earned the title ‘Frankenstein Food’.

But, as GMO hit the fields, another Frankenstein was in development that was to have its own special set of devastating consequences for life on this planet: Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMF). This synthetic form of pulsed electricity started its life as a military/secret service weapon, using microwave frequencies to penetrate buildings and spy on human activities.

We now know that both GMO and EMF come from the same stable and that both are being used as ‘intentional’ weapons of biological destabilization. There is no chance that (EMF) technologies capable of such drastic alteration to the genome responsible for the propagation of life on Earth, were commercialized simply to provide people with convenient pocket-sized wireless communication tools and Flavor Saver tomatoes.

GMO and 5G share the same basic goal: to alter living matter in such a way as to exert 100% control over it. In the case of GMO, for example, genetically altering the DNA of maize, soya, cotton or a tomato, so they can be sprayed with the toxic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) – and remain unaffected – while the weeds around them shrivel to the ground and die.

In human terms, this technique is called eugenics.

The EMF known as 5G, starts from the same basic premise, but moves from eugenics into genocide. The microwave pulses emitted by EMF already form the foundation of 2G, 3G, 4G telecommunications and of WiFi. Scientists now have irrefutable evidence that these pulses (resonances) denature and distort the cellular composition and DNA of living matter.

5G shortens the resonance spaces into millimeter pulses and raises the output by a factor of at least ten; so that being within their range has been compared to being closed into an activated microwave oven.

WiFi and cell phone tower microwave transmissions are non-targeted, they are delivered as ‘broad spectrum’; just like the agrichemical herbicides that kill every living plant they hit and most soil organisms too. They are blanket attacks on nature and man, and the WiFi is tuned to wavelengths almost identical to the natural vibrational levels received by the human brain. Thus their operators can exert a direct controlling influence over the thought and behavioral patterns of those in the firing line; and these days, that is all of us. And of course, people are no aware that this is happening to them.

WiFi and electromagnetic microwaves were developed as secretive weapons of war in the 1950’s.

‘Silent weapons for quiet wars’ as their promoters described them, in the course of US military defense programs secretively rolled-out during the cold war period of stand-off between Russia and the USA.

Scientific minds engaged in single pointed deliverance of a weapons system, do not concern themselves with the affect their products have on human animal and ecological life. They accept lucrative contracts which are designed to keep them quiet, while superpower government defense agencies demand ever more ‘effective’ technologies to maintain their domination over world events.

So when you place your cell-phone next to your ear, remember it’s a weapon and not a harmless play-thing.

In mainstream commercial agriculture the same ethos is practiced. Plant breeding R&D is paid for by agribusiness corporations determined to dominate and control, in a global market centered around supplying super and hypermarket chains, animal feed conglomerates and raw material processing units. Genetic engineering the staple dietary commodities enables a corporation to patent  – and therefore ‘own’ – the plant genome. In this way, the corporate body exerts a despotic power over planetary diversity, reducing the soils of fields in which their crops are sown, to a sterile waste land, in which just one patented crop stands – while everything around it is poisoned to death. This is called ‘ecocide’.

Thus we can add ecocide to eugenics in defining the practice of corporate agriculture under the auspices of such names as Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill. And indeed, research the background of corporations at the forefront of global agribusiness and you will find many have military origins and war related agendas. The war on nature is at least as drastic to the future of the planet as is the war on mankind.

GM foods and all monoculturally raised mass produced supermarket foods, are treated by agrichemical pesticides known for their toxic biological impacts; including malignant neuro-degenerative, reproductive, carcinogenic, respiratory and metabolic disorders in humans. And if that wasn’t bad enough they also, as I mentioned earlier, sterilize the soil of living matter, rendering it largely lifeless.

WiFi does its life diminishing sterilization from above. During the coming two years (2019/2020) the proposed 5G roll-out is to include the launching of 20,000 satellites whose multi targeting antennae – known as ‘phased arrays’ – will steadily irradiate (industry states: ‘will provide lag free internet’)  ‘every square inch of the planet’, with electromagnetic microwaves beamed from the edge of space.

Common to both GMO and 5G, is a continuation of the process of rendering nature – and indeed man – a slave to the insatiable corporate appetite for profit, power and control. Both GMO and EMF are tools for rendering the planet inhospitable to humanity and devoid of natural diversity of flora and fauna, essential for the health and welfare of us all. Ultimately rendering this planet as a place only suited to those who feel no empathy, no compassion and no sense of belonging.

For, let us be clear, this is the actual psychological state of mind of those who are attempting to block humanity from developing its creative essence and spiritual aspirations. Block these unique gifts, so as to put in place a robotic substitute entirely devoid of free will and emotion. The cyborg.

We need to recognize that inhuman minds are behind inhuman technologies. Just think of the tens of thousands who have suffered a cruel fate under the commercial villainy of Monsanto over the past decades. With its asbestos, agent orange and aspartame  – well before toxic GM soya beans ever saw the light of day. Its marriage to ex Nazi Bayer corporation, reveals common fascistic ideologies.  These same ideologies fuel the ambitions of politicians, media tycoons, bankers, corporate executives, technocrats and military hegemonists who rule the world today.

The proposed 20,000 5G satellite global microwaving exercise, which threatens all life on Earth, goes even further. It is a display of cold, calculating megalomania on the part of its ‘Star Link’ backers. It displays, in many respects, ambitions that are a mirror image of the corporate GMO gene splicer’s stated intention of dominating planetary agriculture. But 5G WiFi exponents have their eyes on controlling the input and output of  ‘the internet of things’ – thereby designing and controlling the matrix of daily life. Google, Facebook and other social media operatives are at work on this agenda as I write.

Until now, many have fought-shy of recognizing the dark-side agenda that underpins such operations. But the time is soon coming when a critical mass of individuals will realize that the sinister manipulation of planet Earth and its inhabitants, by a tiny ascendant corporate cabal, would never have been possible without the unspoken complicity of around 95% of humanity. And if you and I look carefully, we will find our own contribution in there too.

Sign the Global Appeal to Stop 5g! Click here.

None of us are outside ‘the system’. But more and more of us are at least waking-up to an admission of our duplicity/hypocrisy; and that is a crucial step in the process of liberation.

The next step is to act on one’s new found knowledge. Decisively. To become aware – and not to act on this awareness – is a betrayal of the unique gift each of us inherited at birth. It is like consigning one’s life to a prison camp. Don’t do it.

From this day forth, get on the front foot ‘in defense of life’ – and never look back!

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Julian Rose is an international activist, writer, organic farming pioneer and actor.  In 1987 and 1998, he led a campaign that saved unpasteurised milk from being banned in the UK; and, with Jadwiga Lopata, a ‘Say No to GMO’ campaign in Poland which led to a national ban of GM seeds and plants in that country in 2006. Julian is currently campaigning to ‘Stop 5G’ WiFi. He is the author of two acclaimed titles: Changing Course for Life and In Defence of Life and is a long time exponent of yoga/meditation. See Julian’s web site for more information and to purchase his books www.julianrose.info

While most of the US mainstream media was “shocked” by Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the same can’t be said about all media outlets. Although, to be fair, it was a difficult call because of the reluctance of Americans to admit to pollsters they’d vote for Trump, given the demonization of Trump and anyone who’d support him over Clinton by the media, as racists, sexists and xenophobes.

One reason for Trump’s victory was because many Americans who’d have voted for Bernie Sanders, voted for Trump, having seen leaked documents and e-mails published by WikiLeaks which showed that the Democratic nomination was stolen from Sanders and given to Clinton. Later, the former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Donna Brazile, had to admit in her book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, that WikiLeaks was right, and recalled in detail how the Democratic primary was rigged against Sanders; something that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren also said on CNN on November 2, 2017.

This, however, was one of the very few times that the mainstream media admitted or reported on this. Neither did it report on how Sanders was attacked from within his own party, with Clinton’s campaign Chair John Podesta saying, “stick the knife in[to Sanders]”, and one Democratic PR strategist replying,

“Bernie needs to be ground to a pulp…Crush him as hard as you can.”

But, then again, reporting on it would have been an embarrassment for the media, given that the same batch of leaked e-mails also detailed how its own members were colluding with the Clinton campaign, including by “planting false stories” as Maggie Haberman of The New York Times is alleged to have done “many times” by Podesta himself.

This is an old tactic often used by western intelligence agencies that merged with, and had, in fact, taken over the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned about, as evidenced by the now exposed CIA’s Operation Mockingbird programme and others, and by Dr Udo Ulfkotte, former assistant editor for German daily newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among other top western journalists. What these and the recent “Integrity Initiative leaks”—alleging that British intelligence used the British media to create damaging narratives against Russia—by the global hacktivist group Anonymous shows, according to legendary journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, is that the media, “never more so than now”, is “an appendage of [the] established power” that is the military-industrial-intelligence complex—often referred to as the “Deep State”.

Like WikiLeaks was proven correct about Sanders being taken down by this Deep State—or permanent state, comprising of members from influential segments of society who always stay in power—it seems that Trump too is now being proven right about its attempt to depose him. In an article for the late great Robert Parry’s (best known for breaking the CIA’s involvement in the Contra cocaine trafficking scandal in the 1980s) Consortium News on February 16, John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the CIA’s infamous torture programme wrote:

“I was a member of that ‘Deep State’ throughout my 15 years at the CIA. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the CIA doesn’t care who the president is. Neither does the FBI.”

Kiriakou, who is not a fan of Trump nor his CIA Director Gina Haspel (also known as “Bloody Gina” for her role in the torture programme that Kiriakou exposed)—highlighting an interview of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe with CBS’s 60 Minutes, where he admitted that he and other FBI officials had discussed the possibility of recruiting a cabinet secretary to help push the president out of office using the 25th Amendment of the Constitution—had this to say:

“McCabe’s almost offhanded comments on ‘60 Minutes,’ that the FBI actively considered deposing a sitting president should be cause for alarm. Set partisan politics aside for a moment. We’re talking about deposing a sitting president. We’re talking about wearing a wire to catch a sitting president saying something because you’re angry that he fired your boss. Even the idea of it is unprecedented in American history.”

As shocking a revelation as this may be, for those paying attention, this is not the first evidence of attack on Trump by the Deep State that has come out. If we rewind back to how the Mueller investigation began—which has so far come up with zero evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia during the 2016 election, and charged individuals only for totally different crimes, or misdemeanours, as the Senate Intelligence Committee has found—one may recall that it was started using the false “Steel Dossier” produced by a former British intelligence agent, and paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign—in breach of US law. Moreover, at the centre of recommending the appointment of a Special Prosecutor (Robert Mueller) was (now fired) FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who had previously promised his fellow FBI Agent (and lover) Lisa Page through text messages, that they would “stop” Trump from winning the White House, among other things.

Finally, the most obvious fact which showed that the Mueller Investigation is nothing but a “Witch Hunt” against Trump, as he has continuously claimed, is the fact that William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA and inventor of its ThinThread Programme, now at the core of all its surveillance systems, along with other forensic experts, have proven with forensic and technical evidence (none of which are ever discussed by the media) that the speed at which the DNC files were transferred was so fast, that it could not have been sent over the Internet (and wasn’t hacked), and had to be transferred using other means (but was leaked instead)—most likely, a thumb-drive.

But why would the Deep State go after Trump? Well, one reason is Trump’s foreign policy of wanting to withdraw troops from Syria, Afghanistan, etc., and of making peace with North Korea—all extremely damaging for the war profiteers that are also a part of the Deep State. And why is it that the media has joined the Deep State in its attacks? Again, because large parts of the media no longer cover the news, but only exists to promote the Deep State’s narrative, while the rest of it is just there to push their own ideology (both Left and Right) onto the masses; which is why they’ve almost never covered the different evidence (that have not once been credibly refuted, despite being publicly available) that I’ve mentioned so far.

To put it all into perspective using the words of Julian Assange:

“Hillary Clinton unified the establishments…Trump is the anti-establishment candidate. Despite himself being from the wealthy New York real estate establishment, he was not connected in a serious way to the Washington DC political intelligence or diplomatic establishment. So the media were part of that and…acted, in a disgraceful way by constantly making editorial endorsements to their candidate [Clinton]… they were forced to make editorial endorsements for Clinton…otherwise they couldn’t publish anything.”

What is most interesting about this ongoing battle happening underneath the surface is the massive exodus of personnel from within all the three letter US intelligence agencies (now standing at record numbers), which could imply that Trump is actually winning, at least to some extent for now, against the Deep State. But, as the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reminded everyone on MSNBC:

“You take on the intelligence community—and they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

President John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan had that reminded to them with bullets. Is that why Trump surrounds himself with members of the military? Only time will tell. But what has become obvious from Trump’s presidency is that not everything is as it seems, when it comes to matters concerning the Deep State.

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Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the editorial team at The Daily Star. His Twitter handle is: @EreshOmarJamal

First published in September 2012 prior to Venezuela’s October 2012 presidential elections, in which Chavez was reelected.

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Former US President Jimmy Carter claimed Venezuela’s electoral system is “the best in the world” (agencies).

Mérida, 21st September 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Former US President Jimmy Carter has declared that Venezuela’s electoral system is the best in the world.

Speaking at an annual event last week in Atlanta for his Carter Centre foundation, the politician-turned philanthropist stated,

“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

Venezuela has developed a fully automated touch-screen voting system, which now uses thumbprint recognition technology and prints off a receipt to confirm voters’ choices.

Real News 2012 Report on Venezuela’s electoral system

In the context of the Carter Centre’s work monitoring electoral processes around the globe, Carter also disclosed his opinion that in the US “we have one of the worst election processes in the world, and it’s almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money,” he said referring to lack of controls over private campaign donations.

The comments come with just three weeks before Venezuelans go to the polls on 7 October, in a historic presidential election in which socialist incumbent President Hugo Chavez is standing against right-wing challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition.

Chavez welcomed Carter’s comments, stating yesterday that

“he [Carter] has spoken the truth because he has verified it. We say that the Venezuelan electoral system is one of the best in the world”.

Chavez also reported that he had had a forty minute conversation with the ex-Democrat president yesterday, and said that Carter, “as Fidel [Castro] says, is a man of honour”. The Carter Centre has recently confirmed it will not send an official delegation to accompany the presidential election, but may have officials observe the process on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) electoral accompaniment delegation arrived yesterday in Venezuela.

The delegation’s head, former Argentinian vice-president Carlos Alvarez, mentioned that this was the Unasur’s first electoral observation mission, and that “for us it’s fundamental to consolidate our democracies, because it’s taken us a lot of struggle, effort and time to establish [democracy] in our countries”.

In press comments after meeting with officials from Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Alvarez declared that based on his experience of electoral observation in South America, ”Venezuela has one of the most advanced electoral systems in the region and the continent, that grants a great deal of confidence and transparency”.

Meanwhile, secretary of the MUD, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, accused the CNE yesterday of being “biased”, and said that it doesn’t adhere to the National Constitution nor electoral law. In an interview with opposition TV station Globovision, he clarified his opinion that “we [the MUD] trust the voting system” but that CNE officials “have a preference” for the government.

The CNE has issued warnings regarding both the MUD and Chavez’s Carabobo Command for infringements of campaign rules relating to electoral publicity and advertising space.

Pro-Chavez sources have speculated that the opposition is planning not to recognise the CNE results in the likely event of a Chavez victory on 7 October. In July, Chavez and Capriles signed an accord by which both agreed to recognise the result announced by the CNE.

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Senator Rubio Tells Maduro He Will End Up Like Gaddafi

By Kurt Nimmo, February 25, 2019

Mike Pompeo, the former boss of the world’s most prolific terror organization, the CIA, climbed up on his high State Department horse Saturday and lectured us on the crimes of the “sick tyrant” Nicolas Maduro. 

Cuba’s Constitutional Reform: Attempting to Reflect the Will of the Cuban People

By Dr. Birsen Filip, February 25, 2019

Like Fidel and Raúl Castro before him, President Díaz-Canel is highly critical of injustice, poverty, exclusion, the unequal global distribution of wealth and income, as well as other destructive outcomes associated with colonialism, neo-liberalism, imperialism, and racism.

NATO Is an Appendage of the U.S. Empire

By Mark Taliano and The Syria Times, February 25, 2019

He has made it clear that US-led globalizing institutions seek to destroy international law, and displace international law, in favour of a cancerous political economy that siphons wealth from the world into the clammy hands of a tiny international oligarch class.

The Bull Market and Today’s Financial Crisis. “The Great Crash of 1929”. Will History Repeat Itself?

By Bryant Brown, February 25, 2019

Since 1922 the stock market had been going up at almost 20% a year. On September 3’rd of 1929 it hit a record high when in closed at 381.2. There was a small rumble in March when the market dropped about 10% but it recovered.

Since the 2008 Great Recession and the Fed’s action to save the ‘to big to fail’ banks by pumping over two trillion dollars into the market with what it calls Quantitative Easing. There is no doubt that that propped up the stock market. But as the Fed starts to undo that with what is called Quantitative Tightening, what will that do to the market?

Israel Pharmaceutical Firms Test Medicines on Palestinian Prisoners

By Middle East Monitor, February 25, 2019

Israeli Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian revealed yesterday that the Israeli occupation authorities issues permits to large pharmaceutical firms to carry out tests on Palestinian and Arab prisoners, Felesteen.ps reported.

City of Xi’an and Why the New Chinese Silk Road Terrifies the West?

By Andre Vltchek, February 25, 2019

Attempts by the Communist Party to turn China into an ‘Ecological Civilization’ are visible at every step: trees are revered and protected, comfortable walking is encouraged, while heavy duty, efficient and super modern public transportation is extremely cheap and ecological: the metro, and electric buses.

Mobilise for Peace. America is No Longer “The Top Dog”: The Threat of World War Grows as U.S. Power Declines”

By Christopher Black, February 24, 2019

All the while the peoples targeted by their aggression call for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of issues, whether real or feigned. They call for an end to war, to never-ending conflict, and ask simply to be treated with the mutual respect due to each nation from each.

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The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal toured open air markets in Caracas full of food and supplies subsidized by the Venezuelan government, which debunk the “humanitarian crisis” lie spread by corporate media.

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Featured image is from teleSUR

Mike Pompeo, the former boss of the world’s most prolific terror organization, the CIA, climbed up on his high State Department horse Saturday and lectured us on the crimes of the “sick tyrant” Nicolas Maduro. 

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This little tweeted tirade was intended for the ignorant masses in America who know virtually nothing about Venezuela beyond what a lying and script-reading corporate media tells them.

For instance, they don’t know Russia and other countries have sent food and supplies to Venezuela and the US-orchestrated events on the border are designed to make you think Maduro is denying aid and willfully starving his people. 

Pompeo would also have you believe evil Cuban communists are calling the shots in Venezuela.

So, what are these vile communists doing? In return for subsidized oil, they are providing doctors and diplomats.

But if you read The War Street Journal, you will get a different picture: the Cubans are orchestrating the murder of Venezuelans and spying on Venezuelan army officers to head off a coup.

“If the international community wants to head off disaster, a good place to start would be in Havana,” Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote for the newspaper in 2017.

Neocon favorite Marco Rubio let it be known what the US has in mind for Maduro. He tweeted out this on Sunday:

Prior to this, Rubio posted a couple photos of Manuel Noriega, the CIA’s favored drug kingpin who fell from favor. 

Noriega’s useful past for the neoliberal cartel is of course not mentioned by Rubio. 

“Noriega was recruited as a CIA informant while studying at a military academy in Peru,” writes Mark Tran. “He received intelligence and counterintelligence training at the School of the Americas at Fort Gulick, Panama, in 1967, as well as a course in psychological operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was to remain on the CIA payroll until February 1988.”

The Panamanian dictator “made himself valuable to the US during the Contra wars when he allowed the US to set up listening posts in Panama and by helping the US campaign against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Noriega allowed Panama to be used as a conduit for US money and weapons for the Contras as then US president Ronald Reagan sought to undermine the Sandinistas. But Noriega’s increasing brutality turned him into a liability, especially after the assassination of Hugo Spadafora, a political opponent who was found beheaded in 1985.”

After the 1988 Senate subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics and international operations concluded that US support for Noriega “represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures for the United States,” the first Bush administration decided the small Central America country with its strategically invaluable canal must be invaded and Noriega taken down. 

Rubio also didn’t mention the fact after Noriega was removed the new government agreed to ditch the Torrijos treaties, under which all US military bases in Panama would be shut down by the year 2000.

Meanwhile, those of us who can’t find Venezuela on a map will likely fall for the narrative pushed by the corporate media as it reads from its government script.

As noted by Mark Cook of FAIR, the propaganda media in the US has engaged in serial and pathological lying about Venezuela. 

In other words, those of us who either refuse to do our homework, are intellectually incurious, and take the media’s gross distortions and lies as a matter of fact will support the continuation and escalation of economic sanctions and the growing probability of war waged against not only Venezuela, but Nicaragua and Cuba as well. 

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Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Gage Skidmore/Flickr

On April 18, 2018, the Cuban National Assembly selected Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez[i] to be Raúl Castro’s successor as President of Cuba for two terms totalling 10 years. The very next day, Díaz-Canel assumed office as the 17th President of Cuba. Like Fidel and Raúl Castro before him, President Díaz-Canel is highly critical of injustice, poverty, exclusion, the unequal global distribution of wealth and income, as well as other destructive outcomes associated with colonialism, neo-liberalism, imperialism, and racism. All three were also in agreement that capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and neoliberalism are responsible for promoting the notion that self-interest maximization represents the true nature of human beings, while neglecting the importance of achieving social justice, equality, and the common good.

President Díaz-Canel and the Castro brothers have all claimed that they were willing to do anything in order to strengthen and advance the Revolution. For example, Fidel Castro is quoted as saying that

‘it has been stated that socialism must be improved. No one can deny this principle, which is inherent and permanently applicable to every human endeavor’ (Fidel Castro, December 7, 1989).

Fidel Castro actually began implementing economic and social reforms in 1991, in an attempt to improve Cuba’s socialist system after living standards severely worsened following the collapse of the Soviet Union. That year, Cuba started on a path of economic reform, which included gradually liberalizing prices and permitting Spanish and Canadian companies to invest in the tourism industry through joint ventures with the Cuban government. Subsequently, Raúl Castro continued implementing economic reforms after taking over the presidency from his brother in 2006. Among the specific reforms, which began to be implemented in 2009, were initiates to decentralize the agricultural sector, allow small businesses to flourish, liberalize real estate markets, and make it easier for Cubans to obtain permission to travel overseas. Raúl Castro also played a key role in reaching an agreement with Barak Obama to re-establish diplomatic relations with Washington, which was announced on December 17, 2014.

Like the Castro brothers before him, President Díaz-Canel is of the view that societal systems are not rigid; rather, they evolve over time by adjusting to changing circumstances and conditions, sometimes necessitating government intervention to respond to economic shocks or system failures. One of President Díaz-Canel’s first major reforms will be to update the 1976 Constitution in a manner that benefits the Cuban people, while maintaining the ideals of the Revolution under the premise that ‘the revolution, socialism and national independence are indissolubly linked.’ By doing so, the new Constitution should maintain the legacies of heroes of the Cuban Revolution (1953–1959), namely Fidel and Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos (1932-1959), Ché Guevara (1928-1967), and Juan Almeida Bosque (1927-2009), as well as those of other national heroes like José Julián Martí Pérez (1853-1895) and Ignacio Agramonte y Loynáz (1841-1873).

The constitutional reform, which has been planned over the course of several years, is being headed by former President Raúl Castro. It was drafted by a 33-person commission consisting of deputies, legal experts and academics in a variety of disciplines, all of whom were appointed by the National Assembly of People’s Power[ii] on June 2, 2018. Subsequently, on July 22, the National Assembly of People’s Power approved the modifications to the 1976 Constitution that were proposed by the commission. The proposed draft maintained 11 articles from the original Constitution, while 113 articles were amended, 13 were deleted, and 87 new ones were added.

To ensure that the reformed Constitution represents the will of the people, 133,681 meetings were held across the island from August 13 to November 15, 2018, which allowed approximately 9 million people, including Cuban exiles, to express their views and opinions on the proposed changes. In the end, the meetings elicited almost 2 million comments on the draft Constitution. Consequently, a total of 760 changes were made as a direct result the comments that were received, with 134 of the draft Constitution’s articles being modified, meaning that ordinary Cubans played a role in the final outcome. According to President Diaz-Canel, this process ensures that ‘all the Cubans will be able to freely express their opinions’ in developing the new Constitution. The success of this process will be determined on February 24, 2019, when Cubans go to the polls to vote in a referendum that will decide whether the newly-reformed Constitution is formally approved.

The draft Constitution reaffirms that Cuba’s political, economic and social system are socialist, and that the Communist Party of Cuba will continue to play a leading role on the island. That means the goal of the reform process is not to move the country towards the establishment of a capitalist system[iii]; rather, it seeks to rejuvenate the island’s socialism, so that it meets the changing needs and desires of the Cuban people and better prepares them to face contemporary global challenges. Although the draft Constitution continues to build on recent reforms pertaining to private ownership, it mostly aims to modernize the island’s economy without regime change. Some of the specific proposals for the new Constitution include: a limited recognition of private property, while avoiding the concentration of wealth and private property in too few hands; facilitating the conditions for a freer market; limiting the presidency to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms; prohibiting discrimination[iv] based on gender, ethnicity, or disability; altering the definition of marriage from a union between a man and  woman to one between two persons of unspecified gender; and, restoring the presumption of innocence in the justice system. Additionally, the country’s leadership structure will be modified from the current system where one leader holds the position of President of the Council of State and of Ministers to one that distributes authority by including a President of the Republic, Vice-President and Prime Minister.

President Díaz-Canel expressed his view that the restructured Constitution, if approved, will demonstrate the government’s continued commitment to the Revolution, which continues to exist for the people through the socialism that it brought. His statements also suggest that, under his presidency, Cuba will continue on its path of instituting reforms aimed at improving the country’s economic and social development, thereby allowing it to remain a symbol of global anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movements, as well as a sovereign, independent, socialist, and sustainable state, free from all forms of foreign influence.

‘The revolution has not aged, it remains young.’ (Raúl Castro, Jan 1,2019)

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Global Research contributor Dr. Birsen Filip holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Ottawa.

Notes

[i] President Díaz-Canel is an electronic engineer by training. He made his first foray into politicsin 1993,during the special period, when he became a member and secretary of the Young Communist League of Villa Clara. In 1994, he became first secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of Villa Clara before becoming a member of the Communist Party of Cuba in 2003. In 2009, he served as Minister of Higher Education until 2012, when he became Vice President of the Council of Ministers (deputy prime minister). He became Vice President of Cuba in 2013 and served in that capacity until RaúlCastro stepped down as President in 2018.

[ii] ‘The National Assembly of People’s Power is the supreme body of state power and represents and expresses the sovereign will of all the people. The National Assembly of People’s Power is the only body in the Republic invested with constituent and legislative authority. The National Assembly of People’s Power is comprised of deputies elected by free, direct and secret vote, in the proportion and according to the procedure established by law.’ http://www.granma.cu/granmad/secciones/elecciones/112.html

[iii] President Díaz-Canel often contends that the production and consumption patterns of the capitalist system (neo-liberalism) require militarism, war, and terrorism, and that the pursuit of neo-liberal goals often produces an array of negative consequences, including violations of human rights, the destruction of nature, death, poverty, and exploitation.

[iv] ‘The economic and social rights are reformulated, in particular, the right to health and education, which are maintained as a function of the State and free of charge, although it is envisaged that the law will define other issues related to them.  The content of the right to equality is further developed by incorporating non-discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and disability into existing rights (skin color, sex, race, etc.).’ https://walterlippmann.com/draft-cuban-constitution-2018/

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NATO Is an Appendage of the U.S. Empire

February 25th, 2019 by Mark Taliano

The Canadian Political analyst and Research Associate at Global Research Mark Taliano has argued that his country must leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which he sees as an appendage of the U.S. Empire.

He has told the Syria Times e-newspaper that Canada is spending billions of dollars yearly on an organization that is advancing imperial wars of conquest and death and poverty beneath lies of humanitarianism and freedom and democracy.

“I see NATO as an appendage of Empire.

It was meant to bring Peace and Security after catastrophic world war, but its original purpose has been defiled. Now the US Empire and its globalizing institutions, including NATO and international financial institutions, are subverting peace and prosperity through economic warfare and by waging criminal wars of aggression,” Taliano has said.

He has made it clear that US-led globalizing institutions seek to destroy international law, and displace international law, in favour of a cancerous political economy that siphons wealth from the world into the clammy hands of a tiny international oligarch class.

“Americans themselves are victims of this same cancer. The US has the world’s highest incarceration rates, third world poverty rates are expanding, even as the plutocrats enrich themselves and shower the masses with obscene media messaging that totally obliterates reality,” the analyst has added.

He explained why his country must leave NATO, saying:

“Canada must leave NATO because it is spending billions of dollars yearly on an organization that is advancing imperial wars of conquest and death and poverty beneath lies of humanitarianism and freedom and democracy. None of this is about defense. Through our actions and inactions we are supporting Nazis, ISIS, al Qaeda and an imperial Project for a New American Century, led and directed by neocon megalomaniacs, that is destroying the world and imperiling life on earth itself.”

Terrorists will be deployed against Iran

Regarding US demand that European countries take back their citizens, who have been fighting for ISIS in Syria, the Canadian analyst believes that those terrorists are being located to Europe and Canada for various reasons, possibly for redeployment at later dates.

 “Syria and its allies are, thankfully, destroying the terrorists that Canada and its allies support and protect. The terrorists are Western military assets that are being deployed elsewhere, for example in Kiev, Afghanistan, Yemen, and so on. No doubt they will be deployed against Iran as well. Hence, the on-going utility of the White Helmets psyop,” Taliano says.

He has expressed sorrow that terrorist and their allies are somewhat protected beneath the “humanitarian lie”, which most Canadians still believe, about White Helmets being “saviours”.

The Canadian political analyst, who was in Syria in in April, 2018, at the same time that the U.S, France, and U.K bombed Syria with their cruise missiles following the Ghouta false flag, published in 2017 a book entitled ‘Voices from Syria’ after he came to Syria in September 2016 as he sensed that the official narrative being fed to North Americans across TV screens, in newsprint and on internet were false.

Voices from Syria is a very short book, but it is full of primary source documentation and evidence that refutes the incessant Western war propaganda. It also explains what we as Westerners can do to amplify the Truth for Peace and Justice.

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Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

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Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

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A cursory re-examination of the early years of what became known as the women’s suffrage movement and abolitionism represented the embryonic phases of self-organization and mass struggle politics within United States society.

As we pointed out in an earlier essay, the campaigns aimed at winning the right of women to exercise the franchise emerged directly from the demands for the outlawing of African enslavement.

William Lloyd Garrison as leader of the American Anti-slavery Society (AASS) provided an opportunity for both free African men and women to enhance their avenues of expression in work related to the achievement of ending involuntary servitude. The Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society (PFASS) and its national component of the Anti-slavery Convention of American Women during the 1830s attracted people of both African and European descent creating the conditions for the early calls for full equality eventually leading to the demands for universal suffrage.

None of these efforts would have been possible absent of the flight and rebellion taking place among the enslaved African people. By the early 19th century concerns about the untenable nature of the Atlantic Slave Trade and its containment of the impacted populations created the material basis for the stiffening of repressive measures aimed at controlling the African people residing in the U.S.

Although there was a gradual reversal of the legalization of slavery and the limited enfranchisement of African people in the Northeastern states after the War of Independence from Britain, the rapid expansion of slave labor production occurred during the opening decades of the 19th century after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, prompting the large-scale European settlement of South. Rebellions and rumors of unrest in Richmond (VA) in 1800, Charleston (SC) 1822 and the South Hampton County (VA) uprising led by Nat Turner in 1831, fueled the notions of the potential for a collapse of the slave system through violent upheaval.

The Haitian Revolution from 1791 to 1804 and the founding of the Black Republic born in the military defeat of French empire on Hispaniola Island actually worsened the conditions for enslaved Africans on the plantations of the South during subsequent decades. By the 1830s and 1840s the demand for cotton continued to rise in order to supply the textile industries of the North and in England.

Seneca Falls, Women’s Suffrage and the Intervention of Frederick Douglass

Organizers of the Seneca Falls, New York July 19-20, 1848 convention through writings and speeches have placed this event as the genesis of women’s suffrage claims. However, these demands had been raised before in other fora including the Liberty Party platforms earlier in the same year (June 14-15) by presidential candidate Gerrit Smith and within the work of previously organized female societies opposed to slavery. Ernestine Rose delivered addresses as early as 1846 in support of abolition and universal suffrage. (See this and this)

Many of the concerns which were initially addressed at Seneca Falls were related to the right of property ownership, inheritance and marital status. Even leading women activists were unsure about the timeliness of demands for universal suffrage.

In fact it was Frederick Douglass (image on the right), the publisher of the North Star, a leading abolitionist, who spoke to the delegates on the second day of the Convention urging the gathering to pass a resolution calling for the right of women to vote. Douglass, said to have been the only Black person and one of very few men in attendance, rose militantly to pronounce:

“If there is any argument to be made, it must be made by opponents, not by the friends of woman suffrage. Let those who want argument examine the ground upon which they base their claim to the right to vote. They will find that there is not one reason, not one consideration, which they can urge in support of man’s claim to vote, which does not equally support the right of woman to vote.” (See this)

Yet Maria Stewart of Boston had written and spoken publically as early as 1831 on the need to end African enslavement as well as advocating equality for women. Stewart published in the Liberator newspaper initiated by Garrison, and beginning in 1832, delivered at least four lectures on the horrors of slavery along with the need for women’s emancipation. It is important to acknowledge that Stewart is often referred to as the first woman to speak in public settings where audiences were composed of diverse genders.

Speculation is that Stewart spoke within the same mode as other 19th century African women preachers such as Jarena Lee (image on the left) and Julia Foote. Lee preached after much struggle and opposition in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) founded by Richard and Sara Allen in 1794 in Philadelphia. Foote was ordained as the first woman deacon in the African Methodist Zion Church (AMEZ) and would later become a well-known evangelist associated with the spiritualist tradition which reached fruition in the early 20th century.

The Women History Blog notes that:

“Maria Stewart’s essays and speeches presented original ideas that were to become central to the struggles for African American freedom, human rights and women’s rights. In this she was a clear forerunner to Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and generations of the most influential African American activists and political thinkers. Many of her ideas were so far ahead of their time that they remain relevant more than 180 years later.” (See this)

Another notable personality of the era was born into slavery in the early 1820s in Dorchester County, Maryland. Harriet Tubman ran away from her master to become a leader in the Underground Railroad. She liberated many Africans from bondage and would later serve as a member of the Union Army in the Civil War where she provided intelligence on the locations of plantations.

Divisions Intensify After the Civil War

Tubman later worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony after the Civil War in efforts aimed at acquiring women’s suffrage. These efforts linking African emancipation and women’s rights would be strained over events surrounding the enactment of 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

A leading section of the women’s movement led by Stanton and Anthony opposed the passage and ratification of the 15th Amendment which was purportedly drafted to guarantee the right to the franchise for African American males formerly enslaved in the Confederate states. This disagreement prompted the split within the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) founded in 1866 with the stated purpose of winning civil rights for African Americans and women of all races. The AERA would collapse by 1870 resulting in the advent of two rival women’s suffrage organizations.

Even Douglass’ alliance with Stanton and Anthony would be strained during this period as one historical source describes how:

“After only three years, the AERA dissolved over heated fights about whether to support the 15th Amendment, with which Black men won the right to vote (in the South, this victory would be short-lived). At a pivotal convention in May 1869, Douglass argued that the AERA should support the amendment while continuing to fight for women’s suffrage. Stanton not only disagreed, she gave an address filled with racist stereotypes about the male immigrants and male former slaves whom the amendment would enfranchise.” (See this)

This fragile victory gained through the passage of the 15th Amendment would be liquidated through the withdrawal of federal troops from the former Confederate states, the passage of Jim Crow legislation by southern state governments instituting peonage for African American farmers and the widespread usage of racial terror by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.  Lynch law became the order of the closing decades of the 19th century.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, an educator, journalist and political organizer was driven out of Memphis after her militant opposition to the 1892 triple lynching of three African American men by leading white officials and businessmen in the city. Launching an international campaign against racist mob violence and state approved repression, Wells-Barnett would also become a leading force in the African American women’s club movement of 1890s and early 1900s.

After relocating in Chicago, Wells-Barnett was a key figure in the struggle for full political rights through the founding of the Alpha Suffrage Club in 1913. Despite here valiant efforts, members of the renewed white-dominated women’s movement sought to segregate her along with dozens of other African Americans at a demonstration for voting rights in Washington, D.C.

An account of this episode says:

“In March 1913, Wells-Barnett traveled to the first suffrage parade in Washington D.C., an event organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association. On the day of the parade, Wells-Barnett and sixty other Black women arrived to march with the Illinois delegation, but were immediately advised, as women of color, to march in the back, so as to not to upset the Southern delegates. Wells-Barnett refused, arguing: ‘Either I go with you or not at all. I am not taking this stand because I personally wish for recognition. I am doing it for the future benefit of my whole race.’ She initially left the scene, therefore convincing the crowd that she was complying with the request. However, she quickly returned and marched alongside her own Illinois delegation, supported by her white co-suffragists Belle Squires and Virginia Brooks. This event received massive newspaper coverage and shed light on the reality for African-American participation in politics.” (See this)

Lessons for the 21stCentury Struggles Related to Gender Equality and Anti-Racism

Over a century later these unresolved contradictions remain a serious impediment to inter-racial political unity aimed at the realization of full equality and self-determination for women and the oppressed nations in the U.S. Gaining the right to the franchise through the 15th (1870) and 19th Amendments (1920) was the result of decades of tireless work and sacrifice.

During the mid-20th century, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender and national origins was the direct outgrowth of mass initiatives and legal challenges. The following year, the 1965 Voting Rights Act empowered the federal government once again to exercise its authority to guarantee universal suffrage. Moreover, the international pressures from the world socialist movement and the national liberation struggles were an important element in the transformation of the superstructure of U.S. political culture.

Nevertheless, the existence of these civil rights cannot be guaranteed under a capitalist system which is committed to the reversal of every gain won by popular movements. This historical reality requires the building of independent revolutionary organizations based within the working class and the masses of oppressed peoples.

The acquisition of sustainable guarantees for democratic rights and self-determination cannot be secured by the two existing ruling class oriented political parties. A party of the working class and nationally oppressed must come into existence which can speak in the name of those who have been the victims of the centuries-long class domination and economic exploitation.

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

All images in this article are from the author

In a victory for advocates of precaution, an Italian court has ordered the government to launch a campaign to advise the public of the health risks from mobile and cordless phones.

The information campaign must begin by July 16.

The court in Rome reached its decision last November, but the announcement was only made yesterday. The decision is here.

Today, the government announced that it would not appeal the ruling, Stefano Bertone told Microwave News. Bertone is with the law firm of Ambrosio and Commodo in Turin, and is helping represent a citizens group called APPLE, which sued to force the government to act. APPLE is an acronym for the Association for the Prevention of and Fight Against Electrosmog.

In a joint press release, three different ministries —of Health, of Environment and of Education and Research— acknowledge that there is a need to raise public awareness on how to use mobile phones safely.

“This case has important implications not only in Italy, but worldwide,” Bertone said. “At the moment, health and safety information is contained —or, I should say, buried— in cell phone manuals. This is not good enough. If it was, the court would have agreed with the government that sufficient information is already available.”

In October 2012, the Italian Supreme Court affirmed a ruling granting a claim for workers compensation filed by a businessman who claimed that his use of a cell phone for 12 years had caused a tumor to develop on one of his cranial nerves (the trigeminal nerve). Gino Angelo Levis, a founder of APPLE, was an expert witness for the plaintiff.

APPLE’s press release is here.

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In a series of tweets posted in her twitter account a few hours ago Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that the US government is moving special forces to the borders of Venezuela along with military equipment.

She also alerted that the same US government (and US companies) with the help of some NATO allies is seeking to buy arms and ammunition in east European countries to arm the Venezuelan opposition.

This weekend near the Tienditas Bridge, the Venezuelan border with Colombia, there are two concerts being organized, one calling for peace and labeled #HandsOffVenezuela on the Venezuelan side of the border, the other on the Colombian side called Aid Venezuela, trying to forcefully introduce into Venezuela’s border some so called “humanitarian aid” delivered by the US Army Southern Command. In this respect Zaharova stated that “It is fraught with a clash of the current government’s supporters and opponents and provides a convenient pretext for forceful action to remove the legitimate President from power”.

The Russian and Chinese governments are straregic allies of the Venezuelan goverment but lately the Russian Goverment is the most outspoken about US promoting “regime change” in Venezuela with the excuse of “humanitarian aid”.

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Thursday, February 21, “A small peace keeping group of about 200 US troops will remain in Syria for a period of time,” as reported by the CNN [1] on Friday. According to the report: “The 200 troops who will remain will be divided between al-Tanf, an area near the Iraq-Jordan border, and northeast Syria.”

The report further adds:

“The troops in northeast Syria currently advise the Syrian Democratic Forces. The idea would be that these 200 remaining US troops would be able to provide unique high-end capabilities – such as logistics, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and calling in airstrikes – that would help encourage coalition countries like France and the United Kingdom to also keep their troops in Syria to help ensure the safe zone with a force of some 1,500 international troops.”

The al-Tanf military base is strategically located in southeastern Syria on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it sits on a critically important Damascus-Baghdad highway, which serves as a lifeline for Damascus. Washington has illegally occupied 55-kilometer area around al-Tanf since 2016, and several hundred US Marines have trained Syrian militant groups, including Maghawir al-Thawra, there.

The news doesn’t come as a surprise, though, as in an exclusive report [2] by the Middle East Eye’s Turkey correspondent, Ragip Soylu, on January 10, he mentioned that the US delegation presented a five-point document to the Turkish officials during National Security Advisor John Bolton’s recent visit to Turkey.

A senior Trump administration official briefed on objectives outlined at the meeting said on January 10,

“As the president has stated, the US will maintain whatever capability is necessary for operations needed to prevent the Islamic State’s resurgence.”

The official further said:

“The US is not withdrawing from the base at al-Tanf at this time.”

Moreover, National Security Advisor John Bolton also alluded to maintaining long-term US military presence at the al-Tanf base during his visit to Jerusalem on January 6.

Furthermore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also delivered contradictory messages in a speech in Cairo on January 10. On the one hand, he said Washington would withdraw American troops from Syria in line with Donald Trump’s momentous announcement of withdrawal of US troops from Syria on December 19, and on the other, he emphasized the US would continue fighting the Islamic State and would also contain the influence of Iran in the Middle East region. Obviously, both those divergent goals were impossible to achieve, unless Washington was planning to maintain some sort of long-term military presence in Syria.

It’s worth noting, moreover, that rather than fighting the Islamic State, the condition of continued presence of the US forces at al-Tanf military base has been acceded to by the Trump administration in order to address Israel’s concerns regarding the expansion of Iran’s influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Furthermore, the exact number of the US troops stationed at al-Tanf and in northeast Syria in the Kurdish towns of Hasakah and Qamishli wouldn’t be just 200, as claimed by the CNN report, because whenever the US military deploys its forces in a foreign country, it simply mentions the number of service members in its official reports and elides over the number of private military contractors, which quite often outnumber service members by a ratio of three to one. Thus, the number of the US troops that would still be deployed in Syria despite the official “withdrawal” would amount to several hundred American troops.

Thus, for all practical purposes, it appears the withdrawal of American troops from Syria will be limited to Kurdish-occupied Arab-majority towns of Manbij and Kobani in northern Syria in order to address the concerns of Washington’s NATO-ally Turkey pertaining to the presence of Kurdish militias in northern Syria along Turkey’s southern borders, and the US will maintain continued military presence in the Kurdish-majority towns of Hasakah and Qamishli in northeast Syria and at al-Tanf military base in southeast Syria along the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan.

Regarding the evacuation of American troops from the Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria, clearly an understanding has been reached between Washington and Ankara. According to the terms of the agreement, the Erdogan administration released the US pastor Andrew Brunson on October 12, which had been a longstanding demand of the Trump administration, and has also decided not to make public the audio recordings of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, which could have implicated another American-ally the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the assassination.

In return, the Trump administration has complied with Erdogan’s longstanding demand to evacuate American forces from the Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. Another demand Erdogan must have made to Washington is to pressure Saudi Arabia to lift the Saudi-UAE blockade imposed in June 2017 against Qatar, which is ideologically aligned to Erdogan’s AKP party since both follow the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, in return for not making public the audio recordings of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It bears mentioning that after the Khashoggi assassination and the international outrage it generated against the Saudi royal family, Saudi Arabia is already trying to assuage Qatar as it invited Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh on December 10, though Doha snubbed the goodwill gesture by sending a low-ranking official to the meeting.

Regarding the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, a question would naturally arise in the minds of astute readers of alternative media that why did the mainstream media, Washington Post and New York Times in particular, take the lead in publicizing the assassination?

One apparent reason could be that Khashoggi was an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon. The Washington Post has a history of working in close collaboration with the CIA as Bezos won a $600 million contract [3] in 2013 to host the CIA’s database on the Amazon’s web-hosting service.

It bears mentioning that despite the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman being primarily responsible for the war in Yemen that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and created a famine in Yemen, the mainstream media hailed him as a “moderate reformer” who brought radical reforms in the conservative Saudi society by permitting women to drive and by allowing cinemas to screen Hollywood movies.

So what prompted the sudden change of heart in the mainstream media that the purported “moderate reformer” was all of a sudden reviled as a brutal murderer? More than anything, it was the timing of the assassination and the political mileage that could be obtained from Khashoggi’s murder in the domestic politics of the United States that prompted the mainstream media to take advantage of the opportunity and mount a smear campaign against the Trump administration by publicizing the assassination.

Jamal Khashoggi was murdered on October 2, when the US midterm elections were only a few weeks away. Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner in particular have known to have forged close business relations with the Saudi royal family. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia and Israel for his maiden overseas visit in May 2017.

Thus, the corporate media’s campaign to seek justice for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was actually a smear campaign against Donald Trump and his conservative political base, which is now obvious after the US midterm election results have been tallied. Even though the Republicans have retained their 51-seat majority in the Senate, the Democrats now control the House of Representatives by gaining 39 additional seats.

Clearly, two factors were responsible for the surprising defeat of the Republicans in the US midterm elections. Firstly, the Khashoggi murder and the smear campaign unleashed against the Trump administration by the neoliberal media, which Donald Trump often pejoratively mentions as “Fake News” on Twitter.

Secondly, and more importantly, the parcel bombs sent to the residences of George Soros, a dozen other Democratic Congressmen and The New York Times New York office by Cesar Sayoc on the eve of the elections. Although the suspect turned out to be a Trump supporter, he was likely instigated by shady hands in the US deep state, which is wary of the anti-establishment rhetoric and pro-Russia tendencies of the so-called “alt-right” administration.

Finally, after losing the midterm elections and the consequent decision of withdrawal of American forces from Syria on December 19, it appeared the non-interventionist “alt-right” Trump administration had decided to take a hardline with the American deep state, but after the policy reversal and the decision to maintain continued American military presence in Syria, it’s obvious that Donald Trump is too inexperienced to confront the American deep state, comprising the State and Defense department bureaucracies, foreign policy think tanks, advocacy groups, such as AIPAC and the mainstream media.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] About 200 US troops to stay in Syria:

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/21/politics/200-troops-syria/index.html

[2] The US five-point ‘non-paper’ for Syria delivered by Bolton to Turkey:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/exclusive-us-five-point-non-paper-syria-delivered-bolton-turkey-1769325167

[3] Jeff Bezos Is Doing Huge Business with the CIA:

http://www.alternet.org/media/owner-washington-post-doing-business-cia-while-keeping-his-readers-dark

Today February 24, 124 years since the re-initiation of the nation’s independence struggle, in accordance with the law, thousands of Cubans are participating in the construction of a better future and strengthening unity around the Revolution

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Voting ends in Constitutional Referendum

Polling stations closed as scheduled at 6:00 p.m. this Sunday, following the Referendum on the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.

The vote count immediately began, a process that is open to the public to observe, with results due to be announced shortly.

The National Electoral Commission informs that by 2:00 p.m. 74.09% of the electorate had exercised their right to vote

A total of 6,772,619 voters had cast their ballot by 2:00 p.m., representing 74.09% of the electoral register, reported María Esther Bacallao, secretary of the National Electoral Commission, speaking to Cuban Television.

The official noted that there has been a constant flow of voters at polling stations throughout the day, eager to exercise their constitutional right, which she considered very positive.

She highlighted the support of different institutions and organizations on this historic date, which also marks the 124th anniversary of the resumption of Cuba’s independence struggles.

She also pointed out that this is the result of an organized electoral process, including the installation of 198 special polling stations to facilitate voting.

Esther also noted that no incidents have been reported on this election day, which has seen a greater mobilization of voters than the last elections held on the island.

Raúl exercises his right to vote

On the morning of this Sunday, February 24, the First Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, exercised his right to vote in a polling station of the Havana municipality of Playa, to endorse the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.

After depositing his ballot, Raúl exchanged with the pioneers who guard the ballot boxes, and with members of the polling station staff.

Read full article here.

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All images in this article are from Granma