On March 13, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a series of airstrikes on infrastructure of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the city of Idlib and in its southeastern countryisde. According to reports, at least 16 strikes hit weapon depots, HQs and a jail belonging to the terrorist group.

Opposition sources said that hundreds of prisoners, including dozens persons allegedly linked with the Syrian and Russian intelligence managed to escape the prison after the airstrike. Hayat Tahir al-Sham responded with a wide-scale security operation to trace and capture these people. This operation is still ongoing with varying results.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes in Idlib and said that they were coordinated with Turkey. According to the Russian side, the strikes hit depots in which the terrorist group was storing armed unnamed aerial vehicles. The eliminated UAVs were reportedly prepared for an attack on Russia’s Hmeimim airbase.

Despite comments about the coordination with Turkey, in the following days Turkish pro-government and state media released multiple reports accusing the Russians and the Assad government of causing casualties in Idlib.

On March 13, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that they had uncovered an alleged Hezbollah network in the Golan Heights. The network named by the IDF as “the Golan File” was reportedly led by Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq on the Syrian side of the contact line in order to prepare attacks on Israel.

The IDF stressed that Daqduq has been a Hezbollah member since 1983. During this period, he reportedly occupied various important posts and was even involved in an attack on a US military base in Iraq’s Karbala in 2007.

The IDF described the alleged Hezbollah network as a serious threat and threatened both Damascus and the Lebanese party with consequences.

On the same day, Israel’s ImageSat International released satellite images showing an alleged Iranian missile compound in Syria. The missiles manufacturing site is reportedly located in Safita.

Regardless of real facts besides these claims, this series of reports looks as a coordinated media campaign. According to experts, its main goal is to justify further Israeli military actions against supposed Iranian targets in Syria and to continue the militarization of the occupied Golan Heights.

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The European Parliament passed a recommendation calling  Russia “the main source of disinformation in Europe” and appealing for increased funding for the EU’s East StratCom Task Force, which already got 1.1 million euros in 2018.

HINT: The East StratCom Task Force is a EU body focused on so-called proactive communication of EU policies and activities in the Eastern neighbourhood (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and beyond (Russia and further).

The passed document says that East StratCom Task Force as well as its two task-force subdivisions dealing with the southern neighborhood and Western Balkans, should get

adequate financial and personnel resources which are still required, aimed at the significant increase of their potential, effectiveness, professionalism, institutional continuity and quality of work, as well as safeguarding them against political meddling by officials and countries that back Russian disinformation.


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Furthermore, it called on EU member states “to ensure that electoral laws take into account possible threats stemming from disinformation campaigns” and urged them to “adapt their electoral rules on online campaigning and to monitor and evaluate the transparency features in relation to political advertising introduced by the online platforms.”

The suggestions also include support for “independent and diverse Russian-language media in the countries of the Eastern Partnership and beyond” and “to focus on the EU accession countries and partners in the EU neighborhood by assisting them in their efforts to counteract hostile propaganda and disinformation activities.”

The formal justification of the moves suggested in the document is based on the mainstream media narrative that Russia every day carries out disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states.

The proposal passed by the European Parliament is another indication that the EU bureaucracy is steadily pushing the bloc towards media and political totalitarism. The principle of freedom of speech is becoming abandoned. Most critical positions and reports are labeled Russian propaganda and disinformation while grassroots initiatives not loyal to the European establishment or non-mainstream media outlets are described as Russian agents.

An important factor behind the decision to adapt ‘electoral laws and rules’ and exploit the Russian threat is the upcoming election in the European Parliament as well as concers of the European bureaucracy and financial circles ahead of them.

It should be noted  that most of EU, US and NATO documents and declarations don’t bother themselves with providing examples of disinformation. Likely, the reason is that most of these ‘examples’ are reports revealing data hiding by the Western mainstream media or providing Russian or Chinese or Iranian arguments on some topics.

Topics described by the mainstream propaganda as ‘fake news’ are varrying from independent coverage of the 2015–16 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne to facts provided by the Assad government and Russia regarding the Douma ‘chemical attack’ in 2018. The official Western propaganda and mainstream media outlets are hiding facts, which do not contribute to the ‘official’ point of view, and push the establishment narrative.

The recent hysteria over the so-called Russian threat will strenthen the alreadty exisiting censorship further. The EU body created to combat ‘propaganda’ can and likely will be turned into the 1984-style Ministry Of Truth. The establishment does not care about the freedom, democracy, human rights and other ‘universal values’ if they go in contrary with its goals.

An interesting fact is that the similar tendencies could be also observed in Russia. Authorities are limiting freedom of speech and civic rights of the citizens and fueling internal state propaganda under pretext of countering the ‘Western threat’. The only and the key difference is that the scale of these Russian efforts has so far been much lower than those observed in the EU. Moscow just has much less resources for this.

One of the reasons behind this situation is the ill structure of the modern society intentionally or not intentionally created by the US, European states and Russia. They all exploit the foreign threat concept to justify actions of their governments, which in most cases are mainly designed to defend interests of the ruling elites only. The societies are divided and narrow elite groups and their close circles are exploiting most of the resources.

Socialists of 19th and 20th centuries used the term ‘class struggle’ to describe division of the society. While this term is no more widely used, modern societies (European, American, Russian etc) are divided even deeply. This division between ‘capitalists’ and ‘working class’ was trensofrmed into another field. Now, this division lies between two “new classes”:

I. ‘ordinary’ representatives of the society (small, medium and even big business oriented on the real creation of added value, real sector and office workers (blue collars), and a part of the clerisy, which aims at the headway creation of a new science, engineering, IT, art or culture);

II. the high and speculative financial capital, ‘new bureaucracy’, and self-proclaimed intellectuals, variuos kitschy and hyped artists defending interests of the previous two groups, as well as various groups of persons living on welfare despite having opportunities to get a job.

Therefore, the ongoing shift to a new technological paradigm has led to the creation of new “exploiters” and “exploited” distributed along the entire social hierarchy. This situation is one more factor contributing to the further increase of state propaganda around the world. It is expected that rights and freedoms of the working part of the society. This trend will likely continue to get momentum further until it reaches its expected result predetermined by the logic of social process.

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The Trump Phenomenon as Seen in Europe

March 15th, 2019 by Philip Giraldi

President Donald Trump is frequently seen through the prism of an American media that despises him and wants to discredit him so that he can either be impeached soon or defeated in 2020. To a certain extent the foreign media has picked up on that depiction of Trump, emphasizing his boorish qualities and narcissism while neglecting what he has or has not accomplished while in office. To be sure there have been major missteps which have driven the Europeans and others crazy, including the withdrawal from the international climate treaty and the nuclear agreement with Iran, but Trump, to his credit, has also recognized the futility of Washington’s Asian wars and is serious in his intent to reduce the American footprint in places like Syria and Afghanistan. He is also an enemy of what is seen as the Establishment in global policymaking, choosing instead to promote national interests rather than international treaties and obligations.

My wife and I recently spent a week in Venice for the Carnival that precedes the beginning of Lent. It was quite an experience as the event attracted literally tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. On the Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday there were so many tourists crammed into the vast Piazza San Marco that it was impossible to move, but everyone was having fun and both my wife and I remarked on how polite and well behaved the crowds were. And the food was wonderful!

In the course of the week we managed to speak to many of the co-celebrants, primarily those from Italy, Germany and Britain and the conversations inevitably turned to the subject of Donald Trump and what he is doing. I fully expected that I would receive an earful, but what actually developed was quite a surprise. Nearly everyone had good things to say about the American president, though there were suggestions that he might be more than just a little bit pazzo, verrückt, or bonkers.

Their arguments went something like this: world government has proven to be a disaster for most of the ordinary people in most developed countries. Wealth has been concentrated in the hands of the few who constitute the Establishment in each country and benefit primarily from globalism. Examples cited by the Europeans included the Clintons, who have become de facto billionaires, and Tony Blair, who is well on his way to doing the same. In Europe, the Common Market, which started out as a free trade and labor zone, has now morphed into a European Union and become a government that is far more heavy-handed and intrusive than the national governments that it has to a large extent replaced. The disastrous creation of a unified currency has crushed weaker national economies, but somehow the elites in each country seem to continue to thrive amidst all the damage being done to ordinary people.

As a response, an increasing number of Europeans are entertaining following the Brexit model of either leaving the European Union altogether or abandoning the currency union while also reducing the power of the European Parliament. Nationalism is on the rise as Europeans realize that any aspiration to create something like a United States of Europe was from the start an illusion. Today, the Europeans continue to be betrayed by their elected leadership and the time has come to put a stop to it, which is why they admire Trump as they see him serving as a wrecking ball demolishing the entrenched Establishment and the globalism that it has promoted. People are demanding change and the last election in Italy, the repudiation of the policies of Angela Merkel in Germany, and the unrest in France demonstrate that the problem is not going to go away.

There were some other lessons learned from Carnival. Post-Christian Europe is continuing to hang on to some vestiges of the Ancient Faith. I was amazed when the speaker at the final ceremony on Martedi Grasso introduced the finalists for Carnival Queen as being young women exemplary for their “Christian virtues and beauty.” I turned to my wife and commented how much I would like to hear similar words once in a while in the United States at a public gathering.

We also encountered many recent refugees from South Asia and the Middle East, working in shops and restaurants. Most of them spoke excellent Italian and were clearly fully accepted by their Italian colleagues. As Venice has a huge tourism economy, it was not exactly a model for dealing with the waves of immigrants in parts of Europe where there is no work, but it was refreshing to see how people will come together if they are just allowed to cooperate without a whole lot of interference from the government and the loud agenda driven groups that proliferate on the political left of center.

Finally, it was difficult being in Venice and not noticing that the largest group of foreigners in the city was Chinese, numbering certainly in the thousands, possibly as many as ten thousand. While Washington wastes its money on weapons and endless wars the Chinese are making deals and expanding both their personal and economic presence. Many shops in Venice and elsewhere in Italy are now owned by the Chinese. In Venice they sell their own cheap glass products to compete with the high-quality local Murano glass and they find plenty of buyers. As long as the Chinese glass is labeled “Made in China” it is perfectly legal, as much as the Venetians themselves hate it. We went into one shop that had an Italian salesperson. He told us not to buy anything as it was all Chinese junk.

The Chinese, to their credit, have been promoting the so-called Belt and Road Initiative or BRI plan, which aims to establish a trade link connecting China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa using a network of roads and both rail and sea connections. It is not unlike the ancient Silk Road which spanned Asia and penetrated into Europe by way of the Italian merchant republics, most notably Venice. Northern Italy is seen as a key component or even the European hub for the new venture and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is prepared to sign an agreement with Beijing to develop the initiative further. Conte is doing so over objections from Washington, of course.

As Mark Twain put it,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Indeed.

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

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Selected Articles: Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb

March 15th, 2019 by Global Research News

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Boeing’s 737 Max 8: Lobbies and Belated Groundings

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, March 14, 2019

Concern seemed to centre on the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), deemed vital to prevent the aircraft from stalling.  Sensors within the MCAS might, according to accident investigator Geoffrey Dell, have sent “spurious signals to the flight management computers and resulting in the autopilot automatically pushing the nose of the aircraft down”.

Video: CIA Is Turning Refugee Camps in Eastern Syria into ISIS Hotbeds

By South Front, March 14, 2019

The CIA is conspiring with ISIS commanders in northeastern Syria supplying them with fake documents and then transferring them to Iraq, according to reports in Turkish pro-government media.

Wealth Concentration Drives a New Global Imperialism

By Peter Phillips, March 14, 2019

The global 1%, comprised of over 36-million millionaires and 2,400 billionaires, employ their excess capital with investment management firms like BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase. The top seventeen of these trillion-dollar investment management firms controlled $41.1 trillion dollars in 2017.

Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb

By Dr. Jack Rasmus, March 14, 2019

This week Trump released his latest budget for 2019-20 fiscal year. It calls for $2.7 trillion in various social spending cuts over the decade, including $872 billion in reductions in Medicare, Social Security, Disability spending; another $327 billion in food stamps, housing support, and Medicaid; a further $200 billion in student loan cuts; and hundreds of billions more in cuts to education, government workers’ pensions, and funds to operate the EPA and other government agencies.

Video: The Price of US “Protection” Is Skyrocketing. Donald Trump’s “Ransom Money” Exacted from America’s Allies

By Manlio Dinucci, March 13, 2019

President Trump – reveals Bloomberg — is going to present the plan “Cost Plus 50” which includes the following criteria – the allied countries which shelter US forces on their territory will have to cover their total cost, and pay the USA a supplement of 50 % in exchange for the “privilege” of housing them and therefore enjoying their “protection”.

The People’s Climate Movement. No Mention of War

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 13, 2019

While millions of people across the World will be protesting on March 15 under the banner of “Global Warming”, today’s wars including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela are not mentioned.

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The announcement that Algerian President Bouteflika won’t run for re-election but will instead postpone the upcoming vote until the conclusion of his recently decreed comprehensive constitutional reform process represented the eighth non-electoral regime change in Africa in as many years, making one wonder whether the world has been ignoring an almost decade-long “African Spring” or if something else entirely is going on across the continent.

Inaccurate Assumptions About Algeria

Algerian President Bouteflika’s surprise about-face in going back on his previous decision to run for a fifth consecutive term in office has been the talk of Africa the entire week, with this announcement taking many off guard but nonetheless largely being met with universal applause as the most responsible recourse to avoid an outbreak of violence in this strategically positioned North African state. The country had been experiencing an unprecedented wave of peaceful protests in reaction to his originally declared candidacy fed by the majority-youthful population’s indignation at high unemployment and a stagnant economy, to say nothing of how insulted they felt that an elderly leader who is speculated to be physically and perhaps even mentally incapacitated after suffering a 2013 stroke would be put forth once more as the face of the nation by what are thought to be his powerful military-intelligence “deep state” handlers.

A lot has already been written about what might come next in Algeria, but most observers are either analyzing events in a vacuum or are making predictable comparisons to the 2011 “Arab Spring” theater-wide Color Revolutions, neither of which are entirely accurate because they both miss the fact that Algeria represents the eighth non-electoral regime change in Africa in as many years and is therefore just the latest manifestation of a larger trend that has hitherto not yet been brought to the public’s attention. It’s true that there are shades of the “Arab Spring” in what’s presently taking place in Algeria, but simply stopping there doesn’t do the country justice because it misleadingly implies that foreign powers had a predominant hand in guiding the course of events there. It also overlooks everything else of regime change relevance that took place in the continent over the past eight years and therefore inaccurately assumes that this is a one-off event unrelated to anything prior.

Rolling Regime Changes

For simplicity’s sake, here’s a breakdown of the most pertinent events apart from the Algerian one that was just described, including the two non-electoral regime change attempts that failed, two electoral ones that deserve mention for reasons that will be explained below, and a short international intervention in support of a mostly forgotten regime change operation:

2011-2012 “Arab Spring” Events In Tunisia, Egypt, And Libya:

The whole world is aware of what happened during that time so there isn’t much need to rehash it other than to point out the author’s interpretation of those events as an externally provoked theater-wide regime change campaign that was originally intended to replace long-serving secular governments with Turkish-aligned Muslim Brotherhood ones prior to the inevitable leadership transition that would eventually take place after their elderly leaders pass away.

The whole point in preempting this process and artificially accelerating it was to ensure that their successors would remain geopolitically loyal to the US, which couldn’t be guaranteed if this “changing of the guard” was “allowed” to occur “naturally”. Moreover, the US thought that it could weaponize the semi-populist appeal of political Islam in those countries in order to portray its proxies as having the “genuine” support of the public. This nevertheless backfired in Egypt but was ultimately manageable.

2014 Burkina Faso:

The sudden onset of progressively violent protests in response to long-serving President Blaise Compaoré’s attempts to change the constitution to run for yet another term quickly resulted in a regime change that was briefly challenged a year later by loyalist special forces in a failed coup. Some observers predicted that the “Burkinabe Revolution” would trigger an “African Spring” against other rulers who had been in office for decades and also were speculated to soon announce their intent to follow in Compaoré’s footsteps and change their own constitutions as well, though this forecast didn’t unfold as expected.

Still, the 2014 Burkina Faso regime change could in hindsight be seen as evidence that genuine (as in, not externally provoked, guided, and/or hijacked) protests are capable of unseating entrenched governments and the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucratic structures (“deep state”) behind them. It should also be noted that the international community recognized Compaoré’s resignation and subsequent decision to go into self-imposed exile (thought to be motivated by his desire to evade justice for his alleged corruption and other crimes by the post-coup authorities) whereas they were against the military coup attempt by his loyalists a year later.

2017 The Gambia:

Image result for President Jammeh

Most of the world has forgotten about it and barely anyone paid much attention to it at the time anyhow, but a Senegalese-led ECOWAS military intervention toppled Gambian President Jammeh at the beginning of the year after he refused to step down from office following his electoral loss a month prior in December 2016. The leader of this tiny sliver of an African state was also becoming internationally reviled by the West even before the 2016 election because of his decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth of Nations and begin the process of doing the same when it came to the International Criminal Court. In addition, his 2015 declaration of an Islamic Republic also earned him the West’s consternation, not that they needed any other excuses given the aforementioned.

The Gambian case study somewhat mirrors the controversial French-led UN intervention that took place in the Ivory Coast in 2011 following a similarly disputed election a few months prior, though the Ivorian leader wasn’t as lucky as his Gambian counterpart in that he was captured by French-backed forces and extradited to The Hague, where he was charged with war crimes but eventually acquitted earlier this year. The lesson to be had from both the Ivory Coast and The Gambia is that international coalitions can be assembled to remove recalcitrant leaders from office who refuse to accept electoral results, though this is less of a “rule” and more of a trend, though one that might gain support at home and/or abroad if it follows highly publicized protests that give the intervention the pretense of legitimacy (whether genuine or not).

2017 Angola:

This rising power in Southern Africa experienced a democratic transfer of power that summer from revolutionary leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos to fellow MPLA member and designated successor João Lourenço in what was initially thought by many to be a carefully coordinated “shuffling of the cards” by the Angolan “deep state” but which eventually proved to be a “deep state” coup after Lourenço quickly went to work eradicating the power structure that his predecessor implemented and even going after the former “royal family” (in particular, his daughter [who’s also Africa’s richest woman and its first female billionaire] and son on corruption charges). Suffice to say, this was a shock for many, though generally a pleasant one for most.

The abovementioned events prove that sometimes the “deep state” is the most influential force driving regime change in certain countries, namely those with post-war revolutionary parties that still remain in power. It’ll turn out that Angola might have been an inspiration for what later took place in Ethiopia and just occurred in Algeria, albeit with both unfolding under slightly different circumstances and in varying ways, but the point is that the so-called “powers that be” might either be engaged in serious infighting among themselves and/or decide that the most responsible course of action in the name of national stability is either “shuffle the cards” or carry out a genuine regime change behind the scenes to preemptively or reactively quell (potentially) destabilizing (anti-corruption-driven or election-related) unrest.

2017 Zimbabwe:

The tail end of 2017 saw the Zimbabwean military carry out a de-facto coup against nonagenarian revolutionary leader Robert Mugabe during a period of rising civil society unrest in this economically destitute country. Barely anyone disputes that this was indeed a military coup, and one that was possibly partially inspired by Mugabe’s controversial grooming of his wife as his successor at the expense of the ZANU-PF political and military elite, but it wasn’t legally recognized as such abroad because otherwise the African Union and other actors would have been compelled to impose varying degrees of sanctions against the country in response.

This interestingly shows that some military coups are supported by the so-called “international community” while others such as the soon-to-be-described Gabonese attempt earlier this year aren’t, suggesting  that there might be certain criteria involved in determining whether such seizures of power (or attempts thereof) will be (even begrudgingly) accepted abroad or not. The 2005 and 2008 Mauritanian military ones and the 2010 Nigerien one weren’t endorsed by the world but serious actions weren’t taken to isolate them both because they uncontestably succeeded and also out of concern for destabilizing the security situation in the terrorist-afflicted West African region.

2018 South Africa:

Jacob Zuma was pressured to resign in early 2018 due to what many have interpreted as being a “deep state” coup against him carried out by a rival faction of the ruling ANC led by his eventual successor Ramaphosa. Party infighting heated up after the BRICS leader found himself ensnared in corruption scandals that may or may not have been tacitly facilitated by his rivals, with all of this occurring against the backdrop of rising anti-government unrest and the increasing appeal of opposition parties. Whether out of the pursuit of pure power and/or sensing that the party needed to change both its external branding and internal policies in order to remain in power, Ramaphosa eventually deposed Zuma and took the reins of this rising African Great Power despite the electorate never voting him into office.

The 2018 situation in South Africa showed that even the most outwardly stable of the continent’s countries and the one most highly regarded by the “international community” (both Western and non-Western alike, the latter in regards to BRICS) can experience a non-electoral regime change, albeit one that was mostly executed behind the scenes following an intertwined pressure campaign by the public and the ruling party’s rival faction that aspired to enter into power. In a sense, South Africa – which is generally considered to be one of Africa’s most vibrant democracies – set the tone for the rest of the continent because the message that it sent was that all of its peers could potentially do the same without any external criticism being levelled against them whatsoever so long as they pulled it off smoothly and labelled it an “internal affair”.

2018 Ethiopia:

Ethiopia

Ethiopia captivated the world’s imagination after its post-war ruling party decided upon the relatively young 41-year-old former military intelligence officer Abiy Ahmed to be its new leader following the outbreak of violent unrest in 2016 that threatened to return Africa’s second most populous country to civil war. To make a long story short, Abiy is of the Oromo ethnicity that represents the country’s largest plurality but which has traditionally been underrepresented in its ruling class, especially following the rise to power of the Tigray-led EPRDF, but he swiftly got to work dismantling the party’s “old guard” in what can only be described as a “deep state” coup with overwhelming public support. Importantly, he also made peace with neighboring Eritrea and put the two fraternal people’s lingering tensions behind them as they jointly embarked on crafting a new regional future for the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia set the precedent whereby large-scale unrest might serve as an incentive for responsible factions of the “deep state” to carry out a coup against their ruling rivals, building upon the Angolan antecedent in that the Southern African case didn’t occur in response to any significant protests or outbreak of violence like the one in the Horn of Africa did.  The events in Ethiopia are also evidence that even the most entrenched and militarily powerful “deep states” are comprised of diverse factions, some of which have radically different ideas than the ruling ones, as might turn out to be the case in Algeria too depending on how the situation there unfolds. The main point, however, is that “deep state” factions might use naturally occurring or externally provoked unrest as their pretext for rising to power behind the scenes and ultimately in public.

2018 Comoros:

It’s difficult to categorize what exactly took place last year in the island nation, but it can most objectively be summed up as a semi-popular and possibly externally influenced attempt to actively challenge the country’s regional center by a peripheral unit that felt disenfranchised by democratically instituted constitutional reforms that removed the coup-prone state’s rotating presidency clause. There was briefly fear that Anjouan would attempt to secede from the union once more and that this scenario might provoke another international intervention to restore national unity like what took place in 2008, but these were abated after the military quickly restored law and order after dislodging the couple dozen fighters who attempted to take over that part of the country.

What’s important to pay attention to is that intra-state regional disputes could dangerously create the pretext for nationwide or provincial regime changes depending on how the course of escalating political events develops. The Comorian President in this case is thought to have taken advantage of his home region’s demographic (and consequently, electoral) dominance to legitimize his bid to remain in power, demonstrating a variant of other reform methods that have been attempted elsewhere in Africa but custom-tailored to his country’s specific situation. Even though some members of the international community criticized last summer’s referendum, they still accepted it because his initiative did in fact democratically win, even if the odds were stacked in his favor per the demographic factor that was just described.

2018-2019 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

There was global trepidation for the past year after former President Kabila delayed his country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power for logistical reasons that he would try to change the constitution to remain in power indefinitely, something that his traditional Western  backers pressured him not to do while his new Chinese patron remained silent about on the basis that its political process is an internal affair (though its strategic cobalt interests there might have played a role in its position to stay on the good side of the government). The country gradually slid into an undeclared state of low-level civil war that could more accurately be described as a hybrid one and which could have exploded on command into a much larger conflict had he not unexpectedly reached a speculated deal with one of the opposition leaders to supposedly allow Tshisekedi to replace Kabila while the former strongman would remain the “grey cardinal” after his party came out on top in the parliamentary elections.

International media and local activists decried this stunt as a blatant undermining of what should have been a democratic transfer of power that some observers said would have rightly resulted in Fayulu winning had the vote truly been free and fair, but that candidate posed the greatest threat to the Congolese “deep state” that owes its lucrative existence to Kabila and was – as the narrative goes – sidelined in favor of Tshsekedi, the son of a well-known opposition leader. This can be seen as a hybrid form of both an “internationally recognized” election and a “deep state” coup, the former of which was universally recognized probably because of the multilateral interests involved in retaining stability in the mineral-rich country (at least for the time being) while the latter was suppressed in order not to sully the optics of the DRC’s “first-ever democratic transfer of power” (and consequently the soft power of those who endorsed Kabila’s cunning plan).

2019 Gabon:

As was touched upon earlier, there was a failed attempt to stage a military coup in the economically stratified and politically polarized country of Gabon where an ageing and ailing leader continues to rule as part of a political dynasty that’s been in power for over half a century. The regime change operation was quickly put down by the rest of the military forces that didn’t join in the coup, though the event succeeded in shedding global light on the underlying tensions prevalent in this OPEC member country. It also temporarily raised concerns about whether the French would use their in-country military forces to aid the embattled government and “restore democracy” if the rebels succeeded in seizing power from their proxy.

Because of its sudden onset and abrupt end, the international community had no choice but to reactively condemn it like they always usually do whenever something of the sort happens, but it might have been begrudgingly accepted just like the Mauritanian and Nigerien ones that preceded it earlier along this timeline if it succeeded without any serious resistance. That wasn’t the case in Gabon because it seemed like the military faction of the “deep state” is satisfied with President Bongo, possibly due to some behind-the-scenes patronage relationship, and therefore wouldn’t want to sacrifice their own self-interests even in the name of settling a still-lingering electoral dispute that sharply divided the nation a few years prior.

Key Variables

In view of the insight that can be gleaned from the abovementioned ten examples, it’s possible to identify the key variables that pertain to each targeted leader, the trigger event for the non-electoral regime change operation, and the determining factors behind its success or lack thereof:

Targets:

The typical target seems to be a long-serving elderly leader with speculative health concerns who represents a power structure (whether his own or inherited) that increasingly large segments of the population and/or a faction of his “deep state” has come to believe (whether on their own or with foreign infowar and NGO “nudging”) doesn’t support their interests. They’re also usually plagued by accusations of corruption (whether real, exaggerated, or false) that serve to incite unrest during periods of nationwide economic hardship caused by either systemic mismanagement, Hybrid War, and/or a drop in the price of primary exports (oil, commodities, etc.).

Triggers:

It’s usually the case that something directly or indirectly related to an impending “changing of the guard” or political transition triggers the non-electoral regime change movement, be it efforts by the incumbent to change the constitution in order to run for another term, declaring their candidacy for the x-consecutive time after already serving for many years, fears by a “deep state” faction that the incumbent will lose the next election and therefore lead to their successor possibly dismantling the power structure they inherit (usually on “anti-corruption” grounds for populist appeal), a disputed election, or in the case of the “Arab Spring”, the perception of so-called “regional momentum”.

Determinants:

Most non-electoral regime changes succeed because of factors beyond the public’s view, namely the state of affairs within the “deep state” and in particular the loyalty of the military forces that enjoy a legal monopoly on violence by virtue of their being. It’s important, however, that there’s some “plausible” public pretext for the regime change, be it protests, a corruption scandal, or a disputed election, and the unity of the “deep state” is also another important determinant because rival factions might abuse the aforesaid for their own purposes. Sometimes the threat of sanctions against the incumbent and their clique for using force to quell unrest could widen “deep state” divisions and facilitate regime change.

Who’s Next On The Chopping Block?

All of this begs the question of which countries might be next to experience their own non-electoral regime changes, with the following ones most closely aligning with the author’s model elaborated on above and being presented in alphabetical order:

Cameroon:

President Biya won his sixth term in office late last year following a serious breakdown of law and order in the separatist Anglophone region abutting the Nigerian border, which came on the heels of Cameroon finally seeming to surmount the challenge posed by Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. The primary geostrategic consequence of his ouster under the possible scenario of a nascent Color Revolution in the cities merging with the Unconventional War in the rural periphery might be the destabilization of what the author described as China’s plans to create a “West-Central African CPEC”, though if managed properly by the “deep state”, it might contrarily stabilize this megaproject’s viability if the choreography succeeds in placating the population.

Republic of the Congo:

The other less-discussed Congo located between the DRC and Gabon, this one is presided over by one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders who recently joined OPEC and also put an end to a simmering insurgency in the Pool region surrounding the capital. Unlike Cameroon, it’s less clear what the geostrategic consequences of a non-electoral regime change here could be, but it might potentially be a factor in whether the country continues to remain within the joint orbit of France and China or decisively pivots to one or the other. In this sense, it could change the “balance of power” in Central Africa and contribute to the gradual retreat of Françafrique in the face of overall Chinese gains in France’s historic “sphere of influence” and Russia’s recent ones in the Central African Republic.

Chad:

Occupying the pivot space between Saharan and Equatorial Africa, President Idriss Deby came to power on the back of a coup in 1990 and has remained in office ever since, mostly relying on the fact that his country’s military is regarded as one of the strongest in all of the continent and has an operational reach as far west as Mali. He’s not without his domestic detractors, however, some of whom have led large rebel formations towards the capital in several unsuccessful coup attempts that were at times thwarted through the intervention of his French ally, such as last month when Paris bombed an anti-government convoy that crossed into northern Chad from Libya. For all of its faults, Chad seems to be “too big to fail” for France and it’s unlikely that the former colonizer will ever let this prized piece of real estate slip from its grasp.

Equatorial Guinea:

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has reigned for nearly four decades and survived numerous coup attempts, some of which were planned by mercenaries in this tiny but oil-rich island-coastal nation in the strategic Gulf of Guinea.  Being located where it is and with the resource wealth that it has, it’s an important piece of the African chessboard that France might want to pry away from its American ally in order to reinforce its policy of Françafrique that’s facing its greatest threat ever from China and Russia in Central Africa. Apart from the “friendly competition” between those two Great Powers, there isn’t really much else that can be said at this time about the possible outcome of any non-electoral regime change in Equatorial Guinea.

Mozambique:

The incumbent leader has only been in power for a few years, but he represents the corrupt and increasingly reviled FRELIMO party that’s been ruling Mozambique since independence, though to their credit, the authorities have been progressively implementing what appears to be a “phased leadership transition” to incorporate the former RENAMO rebel opposition into the country’s “deep state” as part of a peace deal. That said, this responsible arrangement could always collapse at any time, and the country is nowadays threatened by mysterious jihadists who’ve been wreaking havoc along the northern borderland with Tanzania, so “black swan” developments that might trigger a non-electoral regime change are more likely here than in most of the other predicted targets, which could have an impact on global LNG geopolitics given its sizeable offshore reserves (coincidentally located in close proximity to where the new terrorist threat emerged) and regional security.

Sudan:

Sudan is undoubtedly in the throes of a multifaceted Hybrid War that the author elaborated upon at length in a previous piece late last year and which should be skimmed for reference if one’s interested in the strategic nuances involved, but the latest update is that its “deep state” might be preparing for a “phased leadership transition” in a manner which seemed to have influenced the Algerian one that suddenly followed soon thereafter. Simply put, Sudan is indispensable to China’s Silk Road vision for Africa and is also Russia’s gateway to the continent, so its destabilization and possible “Balkanization” like President al-Bashir warned about a year and a half ago would inflict very serious damage to multipolar integration processes all across the continent.

Uganda:

Finally, the country that most closely fits the criteria of the author’s non-electoral regime change model is Uganda, the military heavyweight in the transregional East and Central African space that’s been ruled by President Museveni for the last one-third of a century. During the last few years, however, his mostly-youthful population (which is also one of the fastest growing in Africa, notwithstanding the large amounts of migration [sometimes illegal] that it receives) has become restive and most recently (and one can argue, quite naively) placed their hopes in the singer-turned-politician Bobi Wine because they see in him a comparatively younger face of anti-systemic change. However a non-electoral regime change might unfold in Uganda, its consequences would change the entire “balance of power” in this strategic part of the world at the height of the New Great Game and modern-day “Scramble for Africa” in the New Cold War.

Concluding Thoughts

Using the latest events in Algeria as the lead-in to discussing the other non-electoral regime changes and attempts thereof that took place in Africa since the “Arab Spring”, it’s clear to see that three separate – but sometimes interconnected scenarios – have unfolded, be they Color Revolutions like in the aforementioned 2011 events, genuine non-externally-influenced people’s movements like 2014 Burkina Faso, or “deep state” coups such as what took place in 2017 Angola and which later structurally inspired the subsequent ones in Ethiopia and Algeria (both of which were driven in part by the first two scenarios). All countries have power structures (“deep states”), but some are more flexible than others when confronting bottom-up pressure (which may or may not be externally influenced – and in the future, possibly weaponized against China’s geostrategic interests), which usually makes or breaks the regime change operation and will determine whether the forecasted targets will survive if they end up on the chopping block too.

*

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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.

This article was originally published on December 23, 2017.

A threat to national security?

Imagine this scenario: A nation and its people are deemed by our U.S. government to be an existential threat to the United States of America.  Massive propaganda campaigns are pushed upon a fearful American public by politicians and through all forms of the Mainstream Media (MSM).  Little to no actual evidence is provided as justification for proposed “just” or “humanitarian” wars and that “evidence” which is hastily provided will eventually be shown to be based upon lies, false intelligence and false flag events.  Large populations of peoples of foreign lands and their leaders will be stereotyped and demonized.  Sound familiar? 

Am I referring to North Korea?  Syria?  Russia and Eastern Ukraine?  Venezuela?  Iran?  Iraq?  Afghanistan?  Libya?  It could be any of these but not this time. How about Mexico 170 years ago? The United States had perfected its methods of drumming up support for and instigating pre-emptive wars of aggression by at least the time of the Mexican-American War.

After founding a nation upon the murder, genocide, enslavement and stolen land of millions of Africans and Native Americans, Uncle Sam turned his eyes toward his neighbor to the south, Mexico.

One vote – your vote counts!

If you first play the video below with your eyes closed you will hear what I and fellow Hoosiers heard in radio commercials that encouraged voter registration and election day participation beginning in 2014.  When first I heard the commercial my mind tried to recall the land acquisition it referred to.  Surely this cheery, positive commercial was not about the illegal war of aggression, the land grab of Mexican territory known as the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

The happy little message that “your vote counts” fails to find anything wrong with fabricating reasons for war and carrying it out against a nation that posed no threat to it.  Quite the contrary, this ethos of Manifest Destiny is still promoted today.  The video was released by the office of the Indiana Secretary of State and filed under “Education” when our governor was Mike Pence, the conservative neoconservative and current Vice President of the United States.  Fortunately it has few views.  But the story is still prominently and proudly displayed on the Secretary of State of the state of Indiana website.[2]

These are the values high-ranking politicians hope to brainwash future generations into embracing without question, without thinking critically about the assumed rightness and legitimacy of American foreign policy actions.  We doubled our country’s size because of one vote.  Your vote counts!  That’s the important message and it still applies today because you are encouraged to get behind all of our many war efforts and “support our troops” because if you question the military’s actions or demonstrate against them, you are being unpatriotic, un-American (which of course is completely illogical and see Michael Parenti’s Superpatriotism). [3] And do not bother thinking critically and asking questions like what are the real motivations for acts of military aggression?  Who will really benefit from the next war, and WWIII?  Has it not been proven as indisputable fact that our politicians and the Corporate-owned media have repeatedly lied to us to get the public’s approval for illegal wars of aggression?  Don’t worry.  You can trust them this time.  But be afraid.  Because terrorists, ISIS, Russians, North Koreans, Chinese, Syrians, etc., are over there and dangerous and we must fight them over there so they don’t come here because that’s what they want because they hate our (evaporating and illusory) freedoms.

It is conceivable that millions of Americans voted for Trump under the logic that, based upon his campaign rhetoric, he would promote isolationism, make friends with Putin and Russia and stop escalating extant wars and starting new ones.  NATO would be marginalized and no matter how disgusting and reprehensible his views and policy proposals are that will affect immigrants, women, homosexuals, Muslims, etc., at least WWIII would be temporarily averted.

Because a vote for neoliberal neoconservative super-hawk Hillary Clinton would be a vote for WWIII.  It does not seem like much of a choice in our “democracy” but it would be possibly, the lesser of two evils.

Whatever you may think of Trump’s policies, it is clear that he has been under an all-out assault from politicians, the intelligence community and led by the MSM, a slow-motion but relentless coup with the aim of getting him out of office.  The only brief reprieve came when he ordered that Tomahawk missiles be lobbed upon a Syrian airfield in “retaliation” for a “chemical attack” the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad never committed.

At that time politicians overwhelmingly praised this aggression and the press gushed over how presidential Trump was acting.  Empire cheerleader for CNN Fareed Zakaria summed up the MSM consensus view nicely, “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States.” [4]

Saint Patrick’s Battalion

Praise be to tenacious historians who resurrect true events and real people from our past.  If you believed the official story long promoted by the U.S. Army, St. Patrick’s Battalion and one of its leaders, John Riley (also John O’Riley, Reilly, O’Reilly, Juan Riley, Sean O’Raghallaigh) never existed.  This despite the extensive and venomous coverage they received from American newspapers of the day.

Hoosier author James Alexander Thom is a former Marine and taught journalism at Indiana University.  A friend of the late peoples’ historian Howard Zinn and The Slaughterhouse Five author and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut, he has written and continues to write historical fiction that describes the lives and expresses the views of all sides of historical events.  Many of his great novels accurately portray the suffering brought upon Native Americans at the hands of European invaders such as Panther In The Sky (about the great shaman and warrior Tecumseh and the Shawnee struggle)[5]

Image result for james alexander thom st. patricks battalion

Saint Patrick’s Battalion[6] tells the truth in his fictional account about one of the “great accomplishments” of our new nation.  Here is a short synopsis:

John Riley reluctantly left his sick wife and young son in Famine-stricken Galway, Ireland and took the only available work that would feed them, as a soldier in the hated British Army, but he soon grew disgusted about killing poor dark-skinned peoples in faraway lands.  After completing his service, he mustered out in Canada and joined the American Army with the hope that the causes they may fight for would be noble.  But he soon learned that Irish and other Catholic immigrants were brutally persecuted and tortured by West Point officers and native-born soldiers in the American Army.  Regardless of their skill, hard work and bravery, there was no hope for advancement into the officer ranks.  The mostly Irish Catholics endured constant ridicule and abuse and they were not even U.S. citizens.

A young Army camp boy, Padraic Quinn, found a friend and father-figure in John Riley and faithfully recorded his experiences and skillfully illustrated the Mexican-American War and its affected people in his journal.

Riley and his friends found they were being forced into an expansionist invasion of a nation of poor fellow Catholics.  The American Army amassed over a disputed border with Mexico.  Across the Rio Grande from Texas was the beautiful town of Matamoros.  Another young boy, Agustin Juvero, lived with his mother, Gloria Estrella, in a house across the river in Mexico with a view of the growing American Army presence.  The Mexican General  Ampudia used Estrella’s house as headquarters and recruited Agustin for a dangerous mission.  Young Agustin sneaked across the river at night and delivered pamphlets that enticed the Catholic immigrant soldiers to abandontheir imperialistic aggression against fellow Catholics to join the Mexican Army and receive officerships, Mexican citizenship and land.

To the suffering immigrants from many nations of the American Army, the allure of Mexico’s music, food, dancing and women across the Rio Grande was strong.  Padraic recognized that the church bells may have been the clincher as nearly all of the immigrants were Catholic for which they were persecuted and prevented from freely practicing.

Despite the abuse Riley endured from officers, he kept his cool and professionalism and the admiration of his comrades.  Then one day, John Riley was on a pass to visit a Church, and never returned.  He was welcomed into the Mexican Army, made an officer who trained and led a “flying battery” of cannoneers.

And so began an exodus of Irish Catholic and other immigrant soldiers and former slaves to the Mexican Army and under the guidance of John Riley the San Patricios were born.  The defection of men into Saint Patrick’s Battalion and its success in wreaking havoc on the battlefield would be a constant scourge to the American Army for the duration of the Mexican War.  The skill and fury with which the San Patricios fought exacted a heavy toll of casualties, especially officers.

Image result for erin go bragh banner

An American colonel went missing and soldiers found his remains but were then attacked and killed by Mexican ranchers.  The incident was used as justification to start the war of aggression against Mexico.  The fictional boys, Padraic and Agustin represent the millions of civilians who have suffered at the hands of American aggression in the Mexican-American and countless other wars.  They were eyewitnesses to the horrors of war, the wounded and killed, the refugees who always suffer in great numbers though the veterans too on all sides were killed, maimed, abused and neglected upon return home.

St. Patrick’s Battalion and the story of John Riley was not a white savior epic but a true instance of collaboration against a common enemy.  Riley had superiors in the Mexican Army and he respected them.  Mexicans, Irish, German, Polish, Italian, African Americans, and more all fought bravely and effectively.

Below is a short video from the BBC Radio documentary on the San Patricios arranged by YouTube channel MrOscarBueno:

And in 2010 The Chieftains and Ry Cooder teamed up with Mexican music artists to produce an album of beautifully blended traditional Irish and Mexican music that celebrates the efforts of Mexico and the San Patricios to prevent the U.S. landgrab; Linda Rondstadt and even Liam Neeson contributed, who has said if a movie was ever made that he would like to play the part of John Riley. [10]

Image result for the chieftains by ry cooder

In fact, when the history of Riley and the San Patricios was re-discovered by Americans, a film was made with Tom Berenger starring as John Riley.  But this version of the story was largely whitewashed, with John Riley portrayed as being kidnapped by Mexican soldiers and forced to serve in their army.

Parallels between the Mexican-American War and American Imperialism today are clear:  While Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii tries to warn the public about and restrain the Executive and Legislative branches of our government from continuing its support for the very terrorists we are ostensibly fighting in Syria.  She knows what she is talking about having fought in Iraq, twice.  She has been one of the lone sane voices in Congress who has challenged the nearly unanimous bipartisan support for “regime change” in Syria.

Though she deserves much more support and praise for her courage, Gabbard was largely lambasted by politicians, public and press for having the audacity to try to bring peace by embarking on a fact-finding mission to Syria and when presented with the opportunity, meeting with democratically-elected and popular President Bashar al-Assad.  In contrast, Senator John McCain’s illegal trip to Syria (Gabbard was invited) saw him yukking it up with the terrorist opposition and was roundly approved by the MSM.

Gabbard’s efforts are reminiscent of another young Congress member who was rewarded for his outspoken opposition to President Polk’s looming war against Mexico with a nickname.  Abraham Lincoln was called “Spotty” for having the nerve to insist that the location of Mexico’s supposed aggressions be precisely pointed out on a map, the question being was blood first shed on American soil?[11]

Just the facts, man! Who? What? When? Where? But not Why? or How? 

As an undergraduate journalism major I learned that every good story should, at minimum, answer or at least address and attempt to answer the following questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? A cursory examination of MSM coverage of the gas “attack” in Syria and subsequent “retaliatory” bombing of a Syrian airfield by the U.S. reveals that MSM journalists are not doing their jobs or the jobs they are doing are not in anyone’s interests but those who profit from war.

They continually repeat what is a big lie: that Assad’s “regime” has used chemical weapons before “on its own people” most recently April 4 and 2013;  it states this lie as if it is factand what is the source of its intelligence? [12]

Seymour Hersh’s investigation and article that refutes these claims is difficult to find as the MSM refused to publish it (Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View By Jonathan Cook  Global Research, June 28, 2017  Counter Punch  27 June 2017). [13]

The reality is that if the U.S. and its allies had not supported Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS and other terrorists in their illegal war on Syria that is led by the popular Bashar al Assad, the bombing would not have occurred and the terrorists’ own chemicals would not have caused the tragic civilian deaths.  The 2013 chemical attack, was concluded to be the work of “rebels” (terrorists) and could not have been done by Syrian forces according to the UN team that carried out investigations.

This is yet another example of what Dr. John McMurtry describes as “reverse projection”. [14]  Our ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley was telegraphing her pass in basketball parlance, telling us what is likely to happen:  someone will launch a gas attack again and she was clear that Syria would pay a price for it.That someone is the U.S. but through our proxies.

So if there is no proof and it is reported as irrefutably fact, by everyone from CNN to Fox, from Sean Hannity to Diane Rehm, is that not “fake news”?

Nancy Pelosi supported the strikes, saying they were “proportional”.

Tulsi Gabbard condemned it.

The possibility that “rebels” are housing chemicals is carefully ignored by the Trump Administration, the vast majority of Congress and the MSM.

Wake up!  The American Dream is the world’s nightmare

“Our way of life” should be carefully examined and adjusted when it infringes upon the ways of life for billions of fellow global citizens.  While a large sector of the American population remains oblivious to, unaware there are reasons the “official” explanation for the tragic events of 9/11 cannot possibly be true, another sector is growing that has awakened to reality.  What is required is a willingness to practice a degree of non-conformity, break with the mainstream and examine our own culture as anthropologists encourage and inspire us to do.

It is vital that we teach new generations that history has become a subjective practice, one in which elite actors dictate “official” explanations for events.  We should recognize that just repeating the same lies over and over does not make them more true.  History is ours.  Despite having an unprecedented access to information in the history of the planet, the true history is often hidden in plain sight, or buried under misinformation and Google search engine algorithms.

Major General Smedley Butler who received a congressional medal of honor for the “capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico,” in 1914 and another for the “capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti” in 1917, wrote a short book called War Is A Racket. [15]  From Chapter 1:

Image result for war is a racket

“War is a racket.  It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.  It is the only one international in scope.  It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people.  Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.  Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

…Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious.  They just take it.  This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war.  The general public shoulders the bill.

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force (the Marine Corps) and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.  I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.  I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.” [16]

And on and on he went about what he did in China, Central America, the Dominican Republic…  Smedley Butler described the ways that war could be ended and one way would be to end its profitability. [17]  The famous anthropologist Margaret Mead rightly pointed out that war was just another invention and not a biological necessity; it would reach obsolescence like dueling but importantly, something must replace it for it to end. [18]

The U.S. military and government is well aware of the vast mineral, energy, timber, water and other resources in the vast territories it has invaded and occupied or bullied into submission through threats of war, crippling economic sanctions, and a host of other weapons.  We should all be aware of it.  Wherever the U.S., its allies and proxies like the UN and NATO are advocating for peace, human rights, democracy, we are sure to find people in poverty and vast riches in resources:  Haiti, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq…  Why does the U.S. military now have a presence in 53/54 African nations?

The MSM never mentions that Kim Jong Un always to my knowledge, qualifies his “threats” with “if attacked by the U.S., under attempted regime change, or imminent threat of attack”.  The commemoration of the San Patricios demonstrates that it is possible to remember the truth when we are not bombarded by billion dollar propaganda campaigns.  The people in North Korea remember how nearly every town and city was leveled by American bombs in the Korean War and about 30% of its population killed, likely more than 4 million people.  Having seen what happened when Iraq and Libya gave up their WMD programs and shook hands with our devils, North Korea’s leaders have decided they will not be Corporate Capitalism’s puppets, its people miserable like those in Japan and South Korea.

North Korea is neither a threat to its neighbors or to the United States.  It has reached out for peace for decades while the U.S. and South Korea conduct annual invasion drills and lately, nuclear bomb drop drills directed at North Korea.  The idea that they are planning a first strike on America whether it be nuclear, cyber, or electromagnetic is ludicrous; it would be an act of suicide, if they even have the capability.

But the U.S. government continues to ratchet up hysterical claims and fabrications about North Korea, Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela.  All want peace save for the U.S. who wants submission and world domination.  Attempts to “neutralize” nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran would end disastrously with thousands if not millions dying in the Koreas and Japan and worst case scenario are the various mistakes, miscalculations and alliances that could unleash all-out WWIII, nuclear apocalypse.

How different might things have turned out if the Americans had lost or if the Mexican-American War had never happened!  Dreamers and DACA… How strange that immigrants to American states that used to be Mexico are now “illegal”.  And after all, they are fleeing the crushing poverty brought by neoliberal policies, NAFTA, drug cartels and gangs that help feed American’s addictions.

Our consent is still mandatory 

The American government continues to tout its goodness despite the evidence.  The MSM is owned by Corporations, some defense contractors and others those who benefit from military adventures so it is up to us all to find out what is really happening and why.  This is not to advocate that we all take up arms and take on the U.S. military like John Riley and the San Patricios but that we arm ourselves with knowledge, truth, wisdom and action to change the paradigm.  It is a difficult path and even the Dalai Lama (however compromised he may be) has said that one should be peaceful but defend oneself if under attack.  So where does one draw the line?  It is clear that violence and war will begat more of the same.

It is also clear that the U.S. government uses the MSM to achieve our consent.  They try extremely hard to make it look like they are justified in military actions.  For some reason they still need our approval.  If enough of us wake up, their machinations will fail.

Right now the U.S. and its allies are setting up more military bases all over the African continent, in Syria, Afghanistan…  It has Iran and North Korea nearly completely surrounded.  The buildup of military personnel, drills and armaments amassing across the border with North Korea in particular is particularly alarming and unprecedented.  As James Alexander Thom’s character Paddy Quinn said in Saint Patrick’s Battalion when he witnessed the loading and shipment of equipment and arms on ships in port in New Orleans that was bound for Texas:  “You don’t do this much getting ready if you don’t really mean to do something.” [19]

Let us remember the San Patricios and after careful consideration, let our consciences guide us.

Philip Linder has an M.A. in international relations and has taught anthropology in universities since 2012. He also worked with resettling refugees for 5 years and met in person the people most affected by wars. He is adapting James Alexander Thom’s Saint Patrick’s Battalion into a screenplay and is hopeful that The Chieftains and Liam Neeson will take part and that producers and a director will have the courage to make the motion picture.

Notes

[1] Indiana Secretary of State  “Your Vote Counts This Election Day 2015”  September 29, 2015  YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqJK42quBOg

[2] Indiana Secretary of State  “Don’t Think Your Vote Counts?  Think Again”  2017  IN.gov  website  http://www.in.gov/sos/civics/2527.htm

[3] Parenti, Michael  Superpatriotism  City Lights Publishers, later printing edition September 1, 2004.

[4] Naureckas, Jim  The Essential Pundit Take:  ‘Trump Became President’ by Bombing Syria Common Dreams  April 8, 2017  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/08/essential-pundit-take-trump-became-president-bombing-syria

[5] Thom, James Alexander  Panther In The Sky  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1990, first published 1989.

[6] Thom, James Alexander  Saint Patrick’s Battalion Indianapolis:  Blue River Publishing, 2005.

[7] Saint Patrick’s Battalion, Erin Go Braghflag, as described by John Patrick O’Riley, WikiMedia Commons, public domain, 1846. 

[8] MrOscarBueno “The San Patricos on BBC Radio” YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7Ldi7cCzHU November 16, 2011.

[10] The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder San Patricio  Audio CD, Hear Music, 2010. 

[11] Mueller, Jean West and Wynell B. Schamel  Lincoln’s Spot Resolutions  Social Education Volume 52, Number 6, October, 1988, pgs. 455-457, 466. 

[12] Bender, Bryan, Karni, Annie, with contributions from Michael Crowley, Tara Palmeri, Nahal Toosi and Rebecca Morin  White House threatens Syria over possible chemical attack Politico Magazine  June, 26, 2017. 

[13] Cook, Jonathan  Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View Global Research, June 28, 2017  Counter Punch  27 June 2017.  

[14] McMurtry, Prof. John  The Moral Decoding of 9-11:  Beyond the U.S. Criminal State Journal of 9/11 Studies, Volume 35, February, 2013. 

[15] Buter, Smedley  War Is A Racket  Warwick New York:  Round Table Press, 1935.

[16] Ibid 

[17] Ibid 

[18] Mead, Margaret  Warfare is Only an Invention – Not a Biological Necessity  In Dolphin Reader, 2nd Edition, Edited by Douglas Hunt, Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990, pgs. 415-421.

[19] Thom, James Alexander  Saint Patrick’s Battalion  Indianapolis:  Blue River Publishing, 2005.

 

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India’s Agrarian Crisis: Dismantling ‘Development’

March 15th, 2019 by Colin Todhunter

In his 1978 book ‘India Mortgaged’, T.N. Reddy predicted the country would one day open all sectors to foreign direct investment and surrender economic sovereignty to imperialist powers.

Today, the US and Europe cling to a moribund form of capitalism and have used various mechanisms to bolster the system in the face of economic stagnation and massive inequalities: the raiding of public budgets, the expansion of credit to consumers and governments to sustain spending and consumption, financial speculation and increased militarism. Via ‘globalisation’, Western powers have also been on an unrelenting drive to plunder what they regard as ‘untapped markets’ in other areas of the globe.

Agricapital has been moving in on Indian food and agriculture for some time. But India is an agrarian-based country underpinned by smallholder agriculture and decentralised food processing. Foreign capital therefore first needs to displace the current model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control. And this is precisely what is happening.

Western agribusiness is shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India. Over 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GMO) cash crops and economic liberalisation.

Other sectors have not been immune to this bogus notion of development. Millions of people have been displaced to facilitate the needs of resource extraction industries, land grabs for Special Economic Zones, nuclear plants and other large-scale projects. And the full military backing of the state has been on hand to forcibly evict people, place them in camps and inflict human rights abuses on them.

To help open the nation to foreign capital, proponents of economic neoliberalism are fond of stating that ‘regulatory blockages’ must be removed. If particular ‘blockages’ stemming from legitimate protest, rights to land and dissent cannot be dealt with by peaceful means, other methods are used. And when increasing mass surveillance or widespread ideological attempts to discredit and smear does not secure compliance or dilute the power of protest, brute force is on hand.

India’s agrarian crisis

India is currently witnessing a headlong rush to facilitate (foreign) agricapital and the running down of the existing system of agriculture. Millions of small-scale and marginal farmers are suffering economic distress as the sector is deliberately made financially non-viable for them.

At the same time, the country’s spurt of GDP growth – the holy grail of ‘development’ – has largely been fuelled on the back of cheap food and the subsequent impoverishment of farmers. The gap between their income and the rest of the population has widened enormously to the point where rural India consumes less calories per head of population than it did 40 years ago. Meanwhile, unlike farmers, corporations receive massive handouts and interest-free loans but have failed to spur job creation.

The plan is to displace the existing system of livelihood-sustaining smallholder agriculture with one dominated from seed to plate by transnational agribusiness and retail concerns. To facilitate this, independent cultivators are being bankrupted, land is to be amalgamated to facilitate large-scale industrial cultivation and remaining farmers will be absorbed into corporate supply chains and squeezed as they work on contracts, the terms of which will be dictated by large agribusiness and chain retailers.

US agribusiness corporations are spearheading the process, the very companies that fuel and thrive on a five-year US taxpayer-funded farm bill subsidy of around $500 billion. Their industrial model in the US is based on the overproduction of certain commodities often sold at prices below the cost of production and dumped on the rest of the world, thereby undermining farmers’ livelihoods and agriculture in other countries.

It is a model designed to facilitate the needs and profits of these corporations which belong to the agritech, agrichemicals, commodity trading, food processing and retail sectors. A model that can only survive thanks to taxpayer handouts and by subsidising the farmer who is squeezed at one end by seed and agrochemical manufacturers and at the other, by powerful retail interests. A model that can only function by externalising its massive health, environmental and social costs. And a model that only leads to the destruction of rural communities and jobs, degraded soil, less diverse and nutrient-deficient diets, polluted water, water shortages and poor health.

If we look at the US model, it serves the needs of agribusiness corporations and large-scale retailers, not farmers, the public nor the environment. So by bowing to their needs via World Bank directives and the US-Indo Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, what is the future to be for India?

A mainly urbanised country reliant on an industrial agriculture and all it entails, including denutrified food, increasingly monolithic diets, the massive use of agrochemicals and food contaminated by hormones, steroids, antibiotics and a range of chemical additives. A country with spiralling rates of ill health, degraded soil, a collapse in the insect population, contaminated and depleted water supplies and a cartel of seed, chemical and food processing companies with ever-greater control over the global food production and supply chain.

But we don’t need a crystal ball to look into the future. Much of the above is already taking place, not least the destruction of rural communities, the impoverishment of the countryside and continuing urbanisation, which is itself causing problems for India’s crowded cities and eating up valuable agricultural land.

So why would India want to let the foxes guard the hen house? Why mimic the model of intensive, chemical-dependent agriculture of the US and be further incorporated into a corrupt US-dominated global food regime that undermines food security and food sovereignty? After all, numerous high-level reports have concluded that policies need to support more resilient, diverse, sustainable (smallholder) agroecological methods of farming and develop decentralised, locally-based food economies.

Yet the trend in India continues to move in the opposite direction towards industrial-scale agriculture and centralised chains for the benefit of Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and other transnational players.

The plan is to shift hundreds of millions from the countryside into the cities to serve as a cheap army of labour for offshored foreign companies, mirroring what China has become: a US colonial outpost for manufacturing that has boosted corporate profits at the expense of US jobs. In India, rural migrants are to become the new ‘serfs’ of the informal services and construction sectors or to be trained for low-level industrial jobs. Even here, however, India might have missed the boat as jobless ‘growth’ seems to have arrived as the effects of automation and artificial intelligence are eradicating the need for human labour across many sectors.

If we look at the various Western powers, to whom many of India’s top politicians look to in order to ‘modernise’ the country’s food and agriculture, their paths to economic prosperity occurred on the back of colonialism and imperialism. Do India’s politicians think this mindset has disappeared?

Fuelled by capitalism’s compulsion to overproduce and then seek out new markets, the same mentality now lurks behind the neoliberal globalisation agenda: terms and policies like ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘ease of doing business’, making India ‘business friendly’ or ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ embody little more than the tenets of neoliberal fundamentalism wrapped in benign-sounding words. It boils down to one thing: Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and other transnational corporations will decide on what is to be eaten and how it is to be produced and processed.

Alternatives to development

Current policies seek to tie agriculture to an environmentally destructive, moribund system of capitalism. Practical solutions to the agrarian crisis must be based on sustainable agriculture which places the small farmer at the centre of policies: far-sighted and sustained policy initiatives centred on self-sufficiency, localisation, food sovereignty, regenerative agriculture and agroecology.

The scaling up of agroecological approaches should be a lynchpin of genuine rural development. Other measures involve implementing land reforms, correcting rigged trade, delinking from capitalist globalisation (capital controls) and managing foreign trade to suit smallholder farmers’ interests not those of foreign agricapital.

More generally, there is the need to recognise that genuine sustainable agriculture can only be achieved by challenging power relations, especially resisting the industrial model of agriculture being rolled out by powerful agribusiness corporations and the neoliberal policies that serve their interests.

What is required is an ‘alternative to development’ as post-development theorist Arturo Escobar explains:

“Because seven decades after World War II, certain fundamentals have not changed. Global inequality remains severe, both between and within nations. Environmental devastation and human dislocation, driven by political as well as ecological factors, continues to worsen. These are symptoms of the failure of “development,” indicators that the intellectual and political post-development project remains an urgent task.”

Looking at the situation in Latin America, Escobar says development strategies have centred on large-scale interventions, such as the expansion of oil palm plantations, mining, and large port development.

And it is similar in India: commodity monocropping; immiseration in the countryside; the appropriation of biodiversity, the means of subsistence for millions of rural dwellers; unnecessary and inappropriate environment-destroying, people-displacing infrastructure projects; and state-backed violence against the poorest and most marginalised sections of society.

These problems, says Escobar, are not the result of a lack of development but of ‘excessive development’. Escobar looks towards the worldviews of indigenous peoples and the inseparability and interdependence of humans and nature for solutions.

He is not alone. Writers Felix Padel and Malvika Gupta argue that adivasi (India’s indigenous peoples) economics may be the only hope for the future because India’s tribal cultures remain the antithesis of capitalism and industrialisation. Their age-old knowledge and value systems promote long-term sustainability through restraint in what is taken from nature. Their societies also emphasise equality and sharing rather than hierarchy and competition.

These principles must guide our actions regardless of where we live on the planet because what’s the alternative? A system driven by narcissism, domination, ego, anthropocentrism, speciesism and plunder. A system that is using up oil, water and other resources much faster than they can ever be regenerated. We have poisoned the rivers and oceans, destroyed natural habitats, driven wildlife species to (the edge of) extinction and have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere to the point that runaway climate change seems more and more likely.

And, as we see all around us, the outcome is endless conflicts over fewer and fewer resources, while nuclear missiles hand over humanity’s head like a sword of Damocles.

*

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

The Globalization of War is undoubtedly one of the most important books on the contemporary global situation produced in recent years. 

In his latest masterpiece, Professor Michel Chossudovsky shows how the various conflicts we are witnessing today in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Palestine are in fact inter-linked and inter-locked through a single-minded agenda in pursuit of global hegemony helmed by the United States and buttressed by its allies in the West and in other regions of the world.   Dr Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

The reprint of this title is currently in production, pre-order your copy now! Orders will ship out in early April 2019:

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

Michel Chossudovsky

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 The following text is the Preface of  Michel Chossudovsky’s New Book entitled: The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity

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PREFACE

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

Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the Western military alliance (U.S.-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest levels of the military hierarchy. We are not dealing with piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August 2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation with the United States and NATO. The actions in Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack on Gaza.

In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization of financial and currencies markets, with a view to undermining the enemies’ national economies.

The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, U.S. and NATO forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine. U.S. military intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.

In turn, military maneuvers are being conducted at Russia’s doorstep which could potentially lead to escalation.

The U.S. airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.

The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness. And so is Russia.

Russia is heralded as the “Aggressor”. U.S.-NATO military confrontation with Russia is contemplated.

Enabling legislation in the U.S. Senate under “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) has “set the U.S. on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

Any U.S.-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the U.S. nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to pre-emptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.1

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) is the culmination of more than twenty years of U.S.-NATO war preparations, which consist in the military encirclement of both Russia and China:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. U.S. military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.2

The Globalization of War by Global Research

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Worldwide Militarization

 From the outset of the post World War II period to the present, America’s s global military design has been one of world conquest. War and globalization are intricately related. Militarization supports powerful economic interests. America’s “Long War” is geared towards worldwide corporate expansion and the conquest of new economic frontiers.

The concept of the “Long War” is an integral part of U.S. military doctrine. Its ideological underpinnings are intended to camouflage the hegemonic project of World conquest. Its implementation relies on a global alliance of 28 NATO member states. In turn, the U.S. as well as NATO have established beyond the “Atlantic Region” a network of bilateral military alliances with “partner” countries directed against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. What we are dealing with is a formidable military force, deployed in all major regions of the World.

The “Long War” is based on the concept of “Self-Defense”. The United States and the Western World are threatened. “The Long War” constitutes “an epic struggle against adversaries bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant western dominance”. Underlying the “Long War”, according to a study by the Rand Corporation, the Western World must address “three potential threats”:

  • those related to the ideologies espoused by key adversaries in the conflict,
  • those related to the use of terrorism • those related to governance (i.e., its absence or presence, its quality, and the predisposition of specific governing bodies to the United States and its interests). … in order to ensure that this long war follows a favorable course, the United States will need to make a concerted effort across all three domains.3

Our objective in this book is to focus on various dimensions of America’s hegemonic wars, by providing both a historical overview as well as an understanding of America’s contemporary wars all of which, from a strategic viewpoint, are integrated.

Our analysis will focus on the dangers of nuclear war and the evolution of military doctrine in the post-9/11 era.

The central role of media propaganda as well as the failures of the anti-war movement will also be addressed. While the first chapter provides an overview, the subsequent chapters provide an insight into different dimensions of America’s long war.

Chapter I, Imperial Conquest: America’s “Long War” against Humanity provides a post World War II historical overview of America’s wars from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. There is a continuum in U.S. Foreign Policy from the Truman Doctrine of the late 1940s to the neocons and neoliberals of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Part II focuses on the dangers of nuclear war and global nuclear radiation.

Chapter II, The Dangers of Nuclear War Conversations with Fidel Castro consists of Conversations with Fidel Castro and the author pertaining to the future of humanity and the post-Cold War process of militarization. This exchange took place in Havana in October 2010.

Chapter III focuses on the doctrine of Pre-emptive Nuclear and the Role of Israel in triggering a first strike use of nuclear weapons against Iran.

Chapter IV, The Threat of Nuclear War, North Korea or the United States? focuses on the persistent U.S. threat (since 1953) of using nuclear weapons against North Korea while labeling North Korea a threat to global security.

Chapter V, Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War. The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation examines the dangers of nuclear energy and its unspoken relationship to nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy is not a civilian economic activity. It is an appendage of the nuclear weapons industry which is controlled by the so-called defense contractors. The powerful corporate interests behind nuclear energy and nuclear weapons overlap.

Part III illustrates at a country level, the modus operandi of U.S. military and intelligence interventions, including regime change and the covert support of terrorist organizations. The country case studies (Yugoslavia, Haiti, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Ukraine) illustrate how individual nation states are destabilized as a result of U.S.-NATO covert operations and “humanitarian wars.” While the nature and circumstances of these countries are by no means similar, there is a common thread. The purpose is to provide a comparative understanding of country-level impacts of America’s long war against humanity. In all the countries analyzed, the intent has been to destroy, destabilize and impoverish sovereign countries.

Chapter VI, NATO’s War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime examines the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as an instrument of political destabilization. In Yugoslavia, the endgame of NATO’s intervention was to carve up a prosperous and successful “socialist market economy” into seven proxy states. The political and economic breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s served as a “role model” for subsequent “humanitarian military endeavors.”

Chapter VII, The U.S. led Coup d’Etat in Haiti against the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide was carried out in February 2004 with the support of Canada and France. In a bitter irony, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti James Foley, had previously played a central role as U.S. special envoy to Yugoslavia, channeling covert support to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In Haiti, his responsibilities included U.S. aid to the Front pour la Libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN) (National Liberation and Reconstruction Front) largely integrated by former Tonton Macoute death squads. Closely coordinated with the process of regime change and military intervention, the IMF-World Bank macroeconomic reforms played a crucial role in destroying the national and impoverishing the Haitian population.

Chapter VIII, “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa reveals the hidden agenda behind NATO’s 2011 humanitarian war on Libya, which consisted in acquiring control and ownership of Libya’s extensive oil reserves, that is, almost twice those of the United States of America. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) played a key role in the war on Libya in coordination with NATO.

Libya is the gateway to the Sahel and Central Africa. More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa at the expense of France’s historical spheres of influence in West and Central Africa, namely a process of neocolonial re-division.

Chapter IX, The War on Iraq and Syria. Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads examines U.S.-NATO’s covert war on Syria, which consists in creating Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist entities. The U.S.-led covert war consists in recruiting, training and financing Islamist death squads which are used as the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance. The ultimate military objective is the destruction of both Iraq and Syria.

Chapter X, War and Natural Gas. The Israel Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields focuses on Israel’s attack directed against Gaza with a view to confiscating Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

In Chapter XI, The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine, the structure of the U.S.-EU sponsored proxy regime in Kiev is examined. Key positions in government and the Armed Forces are in the hands of the two neo-Nazi parties. The Ukraine National Guard financed and trained by the West is largely integrated by Neo-Nazis Brown Shirts.

Part IV is entitled Breaking the American Inquisition. Reversing the Tide of War focuses on some of the contradictions of the antiwar movement.

Chapter XII, The “American Inquisition” and the “Global War on Terrorism” analyzes the central role of America’s “war on terrorism” doctrine in harnessing public support for a global war of conquest. The “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is a fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the multi-billion dollar U.S. intelligence community.

Today’s “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is a modern form of inquisition. It has all the essential ingredients of the French and Spanish Inquisitions. Going after “Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “protect the Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

In turn, “The Global War on Terrorism” is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

Chapter XII, “Manufactured Dissent”, Colored Revolutions and the Antiwar Movement in Crisis examines the role of corporate foundations in funding dissent and the inability of “progressive” civil society organizations and antiwar collectives to effectively confront the tide of media disinformation and war propaganda.

COMMENDATIONS

The Globalization of War is an extraordinarily important book. It tags the origin of a long series of wars and conflicts, from the end of World War II to the present, as being direct products of U.S. Foreign Policy. Nothing happens by accident. U.S. provocateurs, usually agents of the CIA, incite one conflict after another in what Michael Chossudovsky labels America’s “Long War” against Humanity.

It comprises a war on two fronts. Those countries that can either be “bought,” or destabilized by a corrupt international financial system, are easy targets for effective conquest. In other cases insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit American military intervention to fill the pockets of the military-industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned us about. The “End Game” is a New World Order embracing a dual economic and military dictatorship prepared to use atomic weapons and risk the future of the entire human species to achieve its ends.

Michel Chossudovsky is one of the few individuals I know who has analyzed the anatomy of the New World Order and recognized the threat to the entire human species that it is. The Globalization of War is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair. Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the most realistic of all foreign policy commentators. He does not lie for money and position, and he does not sell his soul for influence. His book provides an honest appraisal of the extreme danger that hegemonic and demonic American neoconservatism poses to life on earth. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury, former Wall Street Journal editor,  former Wm. E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University. 

At these moments when  the threat  of humanity’s  extinction  by the forces  unleashed by the  empire  and its vassals,  it is imperative that we  grasp  the nature of the beast  that threatens us with  its endless wars perpetrated in the name of the  highest levels of freedom.

This  vital work by an outstanding teacher  will remain an enduring testimony  of the author’s  all-embracing  humanism and scholarship that has always been inseparable  from his political activism  that spans  several decades.    It should be mandatory reading  for those seeking to understand , and thus  to contain and repel,   the  compulsive  onslaughts   of the hegemon’s  endless wars with its boundless bestialities and crimes against humanity..Dr Frederic F. Clairmonte, award winning author and political economist, distinguished (former) economic analyst at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Globalization of War is undoubtedly one of the most important books on the contemporary global situation produced in recent years. It comes from the pen of one of the most insightful and incisive writers on global politics and the global economy alive today.

In his latest masterpiece, Professor Michel Chossudovsky shows how the various conflicts we are witnessing today in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Palestine are in fact inter-linked and inter-locked through a single-minded agenda in pursuit of global hegemony helmed by the United States and buttressed by its allies in the West and in other regions of the world. This Machiavellian, indeed, diabolical agenda not only centres around wars of conquest and subjugation but also seeks to dismember and destroy sovereign states. Russia, China and Iran are the primary targets of this drive for dominance and control. The underlying economic motives behind this drive are camouflaged in the guise of a civilized West fighting “barbaric Islamic terrorism” which as Chossudovsky exposes is sometimes sponsored and sustained by intelligent networks in the West.

Chossudovsky has aptly described this US helmed agenda for hegemony as a “long war against humanity.” It is an assertion that is backed by solid facts and detailed analysis in a brilliant work that should be read by all those who are concerned about the prevailing human condition. And that should include each and every citizen of planet earth. Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and former Professor of Global Studies at the Science University of Malaysia.

The media, political leaders, academics and the public at large often forget to put into historical perspective the spiral of daily news: we tend to concentrate on the latest events and crisis.

This may explain why the latest report of the US Senate on CIA’s rendition flights, detention places in black wholes and use of torture following 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq has been received as a surprise and shocking news. Such practices have been well known by the international community and depicted, among others, in a number of United Nations documents as well as in Dick Marty’s reports to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

This CIA’s behavior has a long history including assassination plots of political leaders, coups d’Etat, terrorist attacks and other subversive actions that merge into a recurrent pattern.

The Pax Americana like the Pax Romana has been built through wars and domination. General Smedley D. Butler, a hero and the most decorated soldier of the United States had already denounced the US policy in his book “War is a racket”, written over 70 years ago.

Michel Chossudovsky’s book “The Globalization of Warfare” has the great merit of putting into historical perspective the hegemonic project that has been carried out by the United States through various centuries for the control and exploitation of natural resources. Jose L. Gomez del PradoUN Independent Human Rights Expert, Former Member UN Group on the use of mercenaries

Michel Chossudovsky leads the world in communicating critical information that few or none know. He is a perfect guide for the East European to Russia war now in the making. John McMurty, professor emeritus, Guelph University, Fellow of the Royal Society of  Canada

Michel Chossudovsky ranks as the world’s leading expert on globalization – a hegemonic weapon that empowers financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population. The Globalization of War exposes covert operations waging economic warfare designed to destabilize national economies deemed to be inimical to the USA and her NATO allies. The military dimension of western hegemonic strategies threatens to trigger a permanent global war. Chossudovsky’s book is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly. Michael Carmichael, President of the Planetary Movement 

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

Michel Chossudovsky

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Year: 2015
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There is something strange going on in the French senate. Ideological disorientation has taken hold. The centre-right Les Républicains, and the Parti Socialiste, of the centre-left, have somehow found themselves on the same side, contending with a cabinet-backed business and privatisation draft law. For the socialists, this is business as usual. However, for the former-UMP party Republicans, headed in the senate by Bruno Retailleau, this position seems to demand answers. Is there not a conflict between their traditional core values and the inexplicable course they now find themselves on?

The item in question is the Loi PACTE, proffered by Macron’s minister for the economy, Bruno Le Maire. The draft law aims to smooth the financial and bureaucratic burden for small and medium businesses. Along with a number of other shake-ups relating to employee-company involvement and bureaucratic processes, there is the promotion of a new enterprise ethos requirement for companies.

The aim is “to have companies that have the kidneys strong enough to innovate and export,” and to have employees “more involved in the march of companies,” Le Maire has said.

The most contentious aspect of the draft law, however, has been the article pertaining to free up €10 billion to fund an expansive business innovation project. This requires the privatisation, among others, of Aéroport de Paris (ADP), the company responsible for the commercial operation of Roissy and Orly airports. In order to make this sale of shares, the law which prevents the state from falling below 50% control in such companies must be changed.

“It is essential to redefine the place of the state in our economy. Do we wish for a State that contents itself with receiving dividends, or a state-strategist who prepares for the future?” Le Maire explained. “We will make these operations of disposals of assets as soon as the law is passed and the market conditions are met.”

Macron’s En Marche party dominate the national assembly, the lower house. As such the draft passed there on first reading in October, with 361 votes for, and only 84 against. It is the national assembly which will have the last word. In spite of this, in the Republican controlled senate, Bruno Retailleau, leader of the centre-right party, has baffled many by joining his forces with those of his traditional socialist adversaries in order to decry the Loi PACTE.

“I am a liberal, (but) I consider that to privatize a monopoly is to unduly give a financial income to the private sector.” Painting comparisons with the privatisation of highways, he said “We sold the family jewels, we made a coup, and then nothing (…) the privatisation of highways has not been a good thing.”

Currently, ADP generates about €160 million a year in revenue for the state. His argument circles around the idea that relinquishing this would apparently not be in the public interest, in spite of the large cash injection it would provide at a time when the country needs it most.

Le Maire responded that he believed the comparison to be a hasty false equivalency, and that they would not make “the same mistakes” as with the highways in 2006. He continued by saying that the government plans to maintain a higher degree of control over the situation by ensuring that “the regulatory framework will be stricter after this operation.” However, he said that it was not the role of the state “to manage hotels and luxury shops of the ADP group. This is not my conception of the state.”

It might seem bewildering that Bruno Retailleau and his party are opposed to such privatisation when one considers the historical actions of their political ancestors.

From 1981, the government of Jacques Chirac, father of the UMP, launched several actions of privatisation. These included the partial privatisation of Saint-Gobain, CGE, Havas, TF1 and Suez, as well as the Paribas banks, BTP, BIMP, CCF, and Société Générale. Additionally, his government sold the national telecom company (CGCT) and the Mutuelle Général Francais health insurance provider. Ultimately, this brought the state the equivalent of about 13 billion euros.

It was Chirac’s successor, leader of the UMP between 2004 to 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy who brought about the removal of the inheritance tax as well as the privatisation of the universities through the Law LRU. During his sitting presidency in 2007 the controversial politician gave financial autonomy to universities so that the government could set aside the heavy cost of supporting them. In spite of the unrest caused by this move, it was likely only the financial crisis that prevented the viability of further privatisation under the then centre-right government.

Yet more recently, candidate François Fillon of the 2016 presidential race ran as the economic liberal nominee. A man who throughout his career has openly pushed for the relaxation of corporate taxation in order to stimulate commercial investment. A Republican who sought the shrinking of the state and the opening up of the private sector.

When Mr Retailleau says “We will oppose the privatisation of the ADP,” it is almost as if he and his deputies oppose their own political vision and that of their predecessors. The centre-right in French politics has for a long time been understood by its adherence to economic liberalism. This ideology has arguably underpinned the centre-right’s identity since the founding of the fifth republic. The fact that Bruno Retailleau and his supporters seem to be abandoning this fundamental component of their party doctrine is an indication of how deeply their uncertainty runs, and it must, in part, be ascribed to the disruptive emergence of En Marche itself.

Without a clear sense of the position of Macron’s centre line government, the Republicans, seemingly startled, have dived left when they should have perhaps dived right. That is to say, if one assumes that maintaining authentic principles has already been abandoned altogether. At this stage, it would probably surprise very few people if Mr Retailleau were to come out and admit publicly that he too was confused by the disembodied socialist’s voice now producing itself from his throat.

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William Harrison is currently a doctoral student in global economics and international relations. His main fields of interest are new technologies, globalization, security and the environment.

Featured image: Bruno Le Maire (Source: Ambassade de France aux Emirats Arabes Unis)

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Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline project is the most impressive of its kind – when completed to be the world’s longest underwater pipeline.

It’ll be able to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from beneath the Baltic Sea, its capacity to be doubled by an additional line.

The project is scheduled for completion by late 2019, construction cost an estimated 9.5 billion euros.

The pipeline will traverse the territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

Russia’s Gazprom’s European partners include France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, along with Royal Dutch Shell. These companies are financing half the cost, Gazprom the remainder.

According to Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller, January 1, 2020 is the project’s expected startup date – Russian natural gas to flow to European buyers at 30% less cost than US liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The savings and proximity to European countries makes Russia their natural supplier. The Trump regime wants the project undermined, falsely claiming it jeopardizes European energy security and stability.

Polar opposite is true. It’ll be an economic and energy boon for countries benefitting from the pipeline.

Last year, the State Department threatened possible sanctions on companies involved in the project. At the time, German Vice Chancellor/former Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the threat “hostile to Berlin’s interests,” adding:

It “aggressively bind(s) US economic interests with issues of external policy.” Germany rejects US attempts to “push Russian gas from the European market” to sell its own. EU nations often talk tough, then yield to US dominance, harming their own interests.

On Monday, the White House threatened to impose sanctions on European companies involved in Nord Stream 2 construction through Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) amendments.

The measure imposed sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea – overwhelmingly adopted by House and Senate members, three representatives and two senators alone opposing it in 2017.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Brussels and economic powerhouse Germany have strongly supported the project all along, intending to assure its successful completion – defying the Trump regime if hold firm.

Separately, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution, expressing opposition to Nord Stream by a vote of 402 MEPs for stoppage, 163 supporting it, another 83 abstaining.

The measure came weeks after EU officials endorsed compromise amendments, extending EU pipeline regulations to and from bloc countries to non-member-states, including for Russian natural gas to European markets through Nord Stream.

Commenting on possible US sanctions on companies involved in its construction, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed the Trump regime as follows, saying:

“The hostile and un-competitive attitude of the US to this exclusively economic project is well-known. This is not news, “ adding:

“We are aware that we’re dealing with attempts at unprincipled competition, and sometimes using actions that amount to racketeering or asset-grabbing (in) the international arena.”

A Uniper statement expressed concern about continued project financing based on the threat of US sanctions, adding:

“We are currently operating under the specific guidance of the OFAC (the US Office of Foreign Assets Control). The financing of the project (was contractually agreed on) before any sanctions legislation (was enacted) in the US.”

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairwoman Lisa Murkowski said no legislation is currently being considered to sanction companies involved in Nord Stream construction.

The US seeks a competitive advantage over all other countries – notably Russia and China, its main adversaries, wanting them marginalized.

That’s what the Sino/US trade war and Trump regime efforts to undermine Nord Stream 2 are all about.

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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.

Is AIPAC in Violation of Federal Election Law?

March 14th, 2019 by Renee Parsons

What newcomer to the US House of Representatives, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Mn) may not have fully realized  is that her critique of Israel influence on American politics would open a door that has previously been hermetically sealed as the third rail of American politics.  

With its influence carefully concealed behind decades of deceptions, lies and ruthless intimidation and representing a mere 2.1% of the population spread across nine states, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and its supporters are like any school yard bully when confronted with a higher ethical authority.  They throw down the race card, an archaic accusation of anti-semitism intended to play on a misguided empathy that is no longer effective when confronted with words that speak truth to power.

Rep. Omar first came to our attention during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting with an elegant takedown of convicted felon and neo-con purveyor of brutal atrocities Elliot Abrams. Abrams is currently President Trump’s point man on plotting future military action in Venezuela.

From there, the controversies around Rep. Omar have whirled with comments purported to be anti-Semitic such as:

It’s all about the Benjamins Baby.”

Israel has hypnotized the world; may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel

Before that uproar had died down, she added

I want to talk about political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign countryWhy is it ok for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, the fossil fuel industry or Big Pharma and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?”

Bullies in American politics since 1948, the outrage, the denials and the hypocrisy came fast and furious with the usual anti-Semitic card being played and the ‘dual loyalty’ defense as if any one ethnicity or organization is entitled to special accommodating consideration by virtue of ….what exactly?

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl) responded with a question to Omar that

Jews have dual loyalty and can’t be patriotic members in the country in which they live?”

As an elected Member of the US House of Representatives, Rep. Deutch has an official, legal Constitutional responsibility that his sole and unquestionable loyalty is to the United States.    Mr. Deutch’s  ‘..in the country in which they live’ is dismissive and a less than overwhelming commitment to the land of one’s birth which happens to be his employer.

Of special concern is whether any AIPAC Congressional supporters possess a security clearance.   If so, that clearance, where appropriate, needs to be revoked immediately and if those supporters cannot solely represent the United States with the utmost devotion and independence, they should resign.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathon Greenblatt explained on March 4th that

Sometimes referred to as the dual loyalty charge, it alleges that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens because their true allegiance is to their co-religionists around the world or to a secret and immoral jewish agenda.”

Mr. Greenblatt takes it even further by contradicting himself in eschewing the dual loyalty meme and then confessing that ‘their true allegiance’ is to another country.

Meanwhile, on March 3rd, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) tweeted that

No member of Congress is asked to swear allegiance to another country. Throughout history, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty, leading to discrimination and violence.”    

It is alleged that to raise the issue of dual loyalty is anti-semitic yet both Rep. Deutch and Mr. Greenblatt admit it as all three raised the dual loyalty issue independently as if believing there is an entitlement right to dual loyalty to another country.   They do not have that right any more than I have a right to claim dual loyalty to Scotland.

As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, Rep. Omar is not only correct but, in fact, is obliged to act as an elected Member of the House to question the double standard of exactly who is a loyal, true blue American for discussion and debate especially in the context of Article 6of the United States Constitution known as the Oath Clause:

The Senators and Representatives and the members of several state legislatures  and all executive and judicial officers, both of the US and of the several states  shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution…”

While the Founding Fathers did not specify in Article VI that any elected member of Congress should not ‘be bound…’ to another country, any Court in the land will validate that Constitutional intent was that loyalty ‘be bound by oath or affirmation’ solely to the United States.

According to Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story (1812-1845) that those sworn in were  “conscientiously bound to refrain from all acts inconsistent”.  During the American Revolution, General George Washington required all officers to subscribe to an oath renouncing any allegiance to King George III and pledging their fidelity to the United States.

In other words, under Article 6 there is no allowance for dual loyalty which would have been considered treasonous in the country’s earliest days and some would consider it treasonous today.

Thankfully, not a shrinking violet when it comes to politics, Rep. Omar responded with “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.”

In other words, Rep. Omar is confirming that she has been approached to pledge support since AIPAC’s demand that every single Member of Congress sign a loyalty statement to Israel has been privately reported and is common knowledge although the MSM pretend to be unaware.

In addition, former Representative Cynthia McKinney who served twelve years in the House of Representatives related her experience with the pro Israel lobby when she supported the Palestinian people, refused to support military policy as it would benefit Israel or sign the AIPAC loyalty pledge.   Instead, her Congressional District boundaries were realigned and she earned a primary opponent who ultimately defeated her.

AIPAC’s stated purpose is to lobby Congress on issues and legislation related to Israel but that they ‘do not rate or endorse candidates for election or appointed office or directly contribute’ to a campaign.  Who do they think they are kidding?   AIPAC dodges registering with the FEC by the use of shell organizations and by requiring its members to join its Congressional Club and donate to the campaigns of certain members of Congress in order to receive exclusive membership benefits.  They also annually sponsor free round trip visits to Israel for Members of Congress otherwise known as junkets.

It is a curiosity that AIPAC, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee alleges that it is not a political action committee even as it provided $3.5 million in campaign contributions in 2018.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, AIPAC has not registered its financial activities with the Federal Election Commission as if they have special entitlement.

The backstory is that in 1990, unanimous FEC decision cleared AIPAC from charges of coordinating campaign contributions with 27 other pro Israel PACs since acting in collusion is barred by Federal law.  Despite ‘similarities in campaign contributions’ and an overlap of membership and shared officers,  FEC General Counsel Lawrence Noble reached a finding of ‘insufficient evidence’ to require AIPAC to adhere to US election law.

To date, AIPAC is not registered with the FEC as a Political Action Committee nor is it registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent representing the interests of a foreign country.

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

Boeing’s 737 Max 8: Lobbies and Belated Groundings

March 14th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Lobbies, powerful interests and financial matters are usually the first things that come to mind when the aircraft industry is considered.  Safety, while deemed of foremost importance, is a superficial formality, sometimes observed in the breach.  To see the camera footage of the wreckage from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 was to be shocked by a certain irony: cameras was found lingering over an inflight safety cards on what to do in the event of an emergency.  For those on board that doomed flight, it was irrelevant.

The deaths of all 157 individuals on board the flight en route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Sunday might have caused a flurry of panicked responses.  There had been a similar disaster in Indonesia last year when Lion Air’s flight JT610 crashed killing 189 people.  Two is too many, but the response to the disasters was initially lethargic.   

Concern seemed to centre on the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), deemed vital to prevent the aircraft from stalling.  Sensors within the MCAS might, according to accident investigator Geoffrey Dell, have sent “spurious signals to the flight management computers and resulting in the autopilot automatically pushing the nose of the aircraft down”.  If so, then the ability to manually counter those actions, a safety design feature of previous aircraft autopilots, would have to be questioned.  Troubling Dell was another question: why did the pilots fail to disconnect the autopilot when it played up?  Ditto the auto throttle system itself. 

When it comes to safety in the aviation industry, powerful players tend to monetise rather than humanise their passengers.  A company like Boeing is seen as much as a patriot of the US defence industry as a producer of passenger aircraft. The company’s presence in Washington is multiple and vast, characterised by the buzzing activity of some two dozen in-house lobbyists and twenty lobbying firms. Lobbyists such as John Keast, a former principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs, have links with lawmakers such as Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi nurtured since the days he was chief of staff.  Wicker spokeswoman Brianna Manzelli was, however, keen to narrow that influence supposedly wielded by Keast in a statement made to CNN. 

“While at Cornerstone Government Affairs, John Keast lobbied for a variety of clients including Boeing on defence issues only.”

Such combined lobbying efforts cost $15 million last year alone, which makes Boeing’s contribution relatively small to trade groups, but significant in terms of outdoing such competitors as Lockheed Martin.  Added to the fact that CEO Dennis Muilenburg has an open channel to the White House, the campaign favouring the Max 8’s continued, and unmolested operation, was hitting gear.  A Tuesday call made by the executive to Trump after the president’s tweet on the dangers posed by complex systems suggested some serious pull.

For a time, it seemed that the lobby was doing its customary black magic, and winning, attempting to douse fires being made by the likes of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Union calling for a temporary grounding of the Max 8.  Certain pilots had noticed control issues while operating the Max 8 over US airspace. 

Boeing initially convinced the Federal Aviation Administration, which failed to note in a surly statement from Acting FAA administrator Daniel K. Elwell any “systematic performance issues” worthy of grounding the model.

  “Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.  In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”

This statement stood in stark contrast to that of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

“Currently, there is no clear indication for the actual cause of accidents in Indonesia & Ethiopia, and no evident risk management measures or any mechanism to ensure the safety of 737 Max 9 aircraft from the aircraft manufacturer.” 

The lobby’s traction has gradually slowed on the Hill, and its tittering has, at least for the moment, started to lose conviction.  Calls started to come from lawmakers that the 737 model needed to be looked at.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggested grounding the aircraft as a “prudent” measure. “Further investigation may reveal that mechanical issues were not the cause, but until that time, our first priority must be the safety of the flying public.” Democratic senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) were also itching to convince the FAA to ground the Max 8 “until the agency can conclusively determine that the aircraft be operated safely.”

Other lawmakers, ever mindful of Boeing’s influence in their states, preferred to leave the regulators to their task.  Till then, the planes would be permitted to continue taking to the skies.  “Right now,” cautioned Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), chair of the subcommittee overseeing aviation and a political voice for a state hosting an important Boeing facility, “the important thing is that relevant agencies are allowed to conduct a thorough and careful investigation.”  

It was President Donald Trump who ultimately decided to reverse the earlier decision by regulators permitting the aircraft to continue flying.  The emergency order put the US in step with safety regulators in 42 other countries.

“I didn’t want to take any chances,” explained Trump.  But ever mindful of Boeing’s shadowy hold, the president added a qualifying note. “We could have delayed it.  We maybe didn’t have to make it at all.  But I felt it was important both psychologically and in a lot of other ways.”

The FAA’s continued “data gathering”, previously deemed insufficient to warrant a grounding despite the quick response in other countries, had led to the opposite conclusion.  This included “newly refined satellite data available to the FAA”.  But Elwell was unwilling to eat anything resembling humble pie. “Since this accident occurred we were resolute that we would not take action until we had data.  That data coalesced today.”  A coalescence demonstrating, in more concrete terms, how safety, while important, tends to lag in the broader considerations of profit and operation in the aviation industry. 

Watch the video below, preview of the investigation where Al Jazeera interviewed the manager of the Boeing 787 programme, Larry Loftis.

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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]

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The armed conflict between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Serbian forces started in 1992 with the KLA attacks on Serbian police officers, non-Albanians that lived in Kosovo and Albanians loyal to Serbia (Johnstone, 2002; Kozyris, 1999).  This low level conflict escalated in 1996 with the KLA attacking refugee camps as well as other civilians and policemen resulting in dozens of innocent deaths (Johnstone, 2002; Kozyris, 1999).  At this point of time and all up to late 1998, the KLA was regarded as a terrorist organisation (Gelbard, cited in Parenti, 2000:99; Jatras, 2002; Johnstone, 2002; Kepruner, 2003; Rubin, cited in BBC, -). 

Following the collapse of communism in Albania and this country falling into anarchy, many army storage facilities were ransacked and truckloads of weapons were smuggled into neighbouring Kosovo.  Increased criminal activities such as drugs and people trafficking as well as compulsory taxing of Albanians working abroad also provided funding for the KLA (Antic, 1999; Jatras, 2002). 

Increased KLA terrorist activities were met with a harsh response by the Serbian police and army resulting in some civilian deaths and displacement.  Consequent UN resolutions 1160, 1199 and 1203 as well as the Holbrook-Milosevic agreement in 1998 (Littman, 1999) demanded Serbian forces reduce in numbers and withdrawal to pre-conflict positions.  Serbian government complied with most of these demands, but the demands were not met fully because of several reasons. The KLA was not disarmed and did not comply with resolutions and increased their terrorist activities. The KLA was constantly provoking Serbian forces, purposely endangering civilians (Thaci, cited in BBC, -) as they knew that “the more civilians were killed, the chances of international interventions were bigger…” (Gorani, cited in BBC, -). 

Albright and KLA leader Hashim Thaci

They also re-occupied positions Serbian forces were previously holding and at some points of time controlled up to 40 % of Kosovo territory.  The KLA was re-enforced by hundreds of mercenaries and mujahideens, and started receiving support from the CIA, DIA, MI6 and German Intelligence BND (Bowman, 1999: 8; Marsden, 1999; Chossudovsky, 2001; GN TV, 2005: 1; WSWS 1999). 

Hashim Thaci and Madeleine Albright, 1998

The KLA was also supported by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Chossudovsky, 2001; Deliso, 2001; GN TV, 2005: 1; Johnstone, 2002:11).  Even though the KLA did not comply with UN resolutions and the Holbrook-Milosevic agreement, and it was responsible for most breaches of ceasefire (Robertson, cited in Chomsky, 2004: 56) there was a significant reduction in hostilities and almost all refugees returned to their places of living (Bowman, 1999; Littman, 1999).   

The most significant event occurred on January 15, 1999 with the alleged Racak massacre which was wrongly but consciously attributed to Serbian forces by William Walker, the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission who was previously involved in the cover up of atrocities in El Salvador (Bowman, 1999; Berliner Zeitung, cited in Free Republic, 2000; Chomsky, 2004: 56; Fleming, 1999; Gowans, 2001; Johnstone, 2002:239; Parenti, 2000:104; Wilcoxson, 2006). 

Allegations that Serbian forces massacred 45 innocent men, women and children were dismissed by Serbian, Belarus and Finnish forensic experts who found that these people have not been massacred or killed from close range as well as that most of them had traces of gunpowder residue on their hands, confirming that they actually were KLA fighters. 

The reports also state there was only one woman and one adolescent boy among the dead as well as that only one person was possibly but not explicitly shot from a close range (Berliner Zeitung, cited in Free Republic, 2000; Fleming, 1999; Johnstone, 2002).  Even though this was a crucial document, the report was not made public immediately (Berliner Zeitung, cited in Free Republic, 2000; Johnson, 2002). 

This was followed by Rambouillet negotiations, which was actually an ultimatum, that the Yugoslav government, or any other government, could not accept (Bennis, 2004: 240-241; Fraser, cited in SBS, 2000; Johnson, 2002: 245-247; Littman, 1999; Miller, 2003: 243; Muller, 1999; Parenti, 2000: 108-114; Pugh, 2001; Trifkovic, 1999).  After this the Kosovo Verification Mission was withdrawn and NATO humanitarian intervention or rather aggression began and lasted 78 days.

Numerous scholars (Mertus, 1999; Muenzel, 1999; Power, 2003; Stephen 2004; Urquhart, 2002; Williams, 2003; Young, 2003 and others), International Commission on Kosovo (cited in Neier, 2001:34) and politicians, especially those coming from the NATO countries, who advocate that NATO intervention is justified on the grounds of preventing ethnic cleansing, genocide and even new holocaust as well as securing peace and stability in the region.  They base their arguments on the United Nations Chapter VII, the humanitarian international law and the Universal Declaration of Human rights.  Falk (cited in Chossudovsky, 2003:1) states that:

 The Kosovo War was a just war because it was undertaken to avoid likely instance of “ethnic cleansing” undertaken by the Serb leadership of former Yugoslavia… It was a just war despite being illegally undertaken without authorization by the United Nations, and despite being waged in a manner that unduly caused Kosovar and Serbian civilian casualties while minimizing the risk of death or injury on the NATO side.

However, many other scholars advocate and demonstrate NATO intervention was illegal and unnecessary.  According to William Rockler (cited in Chossudovsky, 2003:1), former prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal: 

The [1999] bombing war violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok.

The NATO intervention was illegal as NATO action was unilateral, avoided Security Council and therefore it was in violation of several provisions of the UN Charter, specifically Article 2 (3), Article 2 (4) and Article 53 as well as it breached NATO Charter First Article (Bisset, 2002).  The Rambouillet negotiations also breached Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) Section 2: Invalidity of Treaties Article 51 and Article 51 (Hatchett, 1999).

NATO officials insisted that this is a humanitarian intervention, but Lt. Gen. Mike Short, Commander of Allied Forces, admitted that NATO intervention was actually a war against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (BBC, -):

 I certainly acknowledge that there were people within Allied that felt we weren’t at war, but as commander … in my mind I was at war and people under my control were, and that’s how we had to do our business…

As this was an undeclared war, it also breached Constitutions of NATO countries involved and Geneva Convention Article 52.2.  NATO breached this Article numerous times and committed war crimes by bombing schools, hospitals, TV and radio installations, bridges, factories, civilian suburbs of many cities, water treatment and electricity facilities, and deliberately targeting civilians such as in the case of Grdelica train and convoy of Albanian refugees near Djakovica when 75-100 refugees were killed (Bennis, 2004; Savich, 2007; Shen, 1999). Additionally, Captain Adolfo Luis Martin de la Hoz (cited in Morales, 1999), Spanish pilot engaged in NATO aggression, admitted that NATO was deliberately targeting the civilian population. According to the BBC (-) this was decided by Havier Solana and Gen. Klaus Nauman without consulting other NATO countries.  Hayden (1999) states that this was a deliberate act:

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 27 that NATO had decided to attack “political, rather than just military, targets in Serbia.” On April 25, the Washington Times reported that NATO planned to hit “power generation plants and water systems, taking the war directly to civilians.”

NATO also breached the Geneva Convention trying to assassinate President Milosevic by bombing his private residence (Guardian, 1999; Malic, 2003) as well as bombing the Chinese embassy.

Moreover, Littman (1999: 8) states

“It cannot be said that the use of force is necessary unless it can be clearly demonstrated that all measures short of force (and in particular measures of diplomacy) have been exhausted.” 

The Rambouillet negotiations fall very short of Littman’s statement.  The Yugoslav government accepted all political provisions of the agreement and was ready to negotiate on the military part of the agreement.  However, NATO’s ‘Appendix B’ of the agreement was presented to the Yugoslav delegation one day before the final date as a non-negotiable agreement.  This meant NATO de-facto occupation of Yugoslavia and therefore could not be accepted, however the Yugoslav government was ready to further negotiate military proposals.  To prove this, Yugoslav officials (23 February 1999) as well as the Serbian Assembly resolution (23 March 1999) declared that Yugoslavia would accept international force under the UN command (Littman, 1999).  However, NATO demanded full compliance with the military part of the Rambouillet agreement and according to senior US State Department official (Kenney, cited in Hatchett, 1999:1) “the United States ‘deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept.’ The Serbs needed, according to the official, a little bombing to see reason.”  Dr Kissinger (cited in Littman, 2004:5) clearly states that:

 The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing.  Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted.  It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.

Furthermore, many scholars and politicians regarded Serbs as perpetrators engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide.  Certainly, there were atrocities including murder, looting and taking revenge on innocent civilians committed by Serbian paratroops and petty criminals. However, these atrocities were not supported by the Yugoslav government and were nothing even close to what NATO and media were reporting (Johnstone, 2002; Mitchell, 1999; Parenti, 2000).  The UN Secretary General reported to the UN on 17 March 1999 that situation in Kosovo is characterised by constant and persistent KLA attacks and disproportionate use of force by Yugoslav authorities (Littman, 2004).  Kosovo Verification Mission report also states that during the period (Littman, 2004:5)

22 January and 22 March 1999, passed on by NATO to the UN, show that in this period the total fatalities were 27 for the Serbs and 30 for the Kosovo Albanians. Another estimate puts the total Albanian fatalities over five months from 16 October 1998 to 20 March 1999) at 46; an average of 2 a week. By contrast, in 11 weeks of the NATO war from 25 March 1999 to 10 June 1999 NATO killed 1500 civilians and wounded 8000.  This is an average of 136 deaths a week and 30 times as many deaths as the total prior to the war.

Prior to the NATO intervention there were approximately 100,000 refugees on all sides, however after the bombing started this number very quickly escalated to more than 800,000 with 100,000 Serbians, Albanians and others moving into Central Serbia. The question here is did Serbs ethnically ‘cleanse’ their own people from Kosovo?  The simple truth is most of the refugees left because of the NATO bombing and increased fighting between the KLA and Serb forces.  Lt. Gen. Satish Nambier (1999:2), the Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces in the former Yugoslavia, also acknowledges that there was no intention by Yugoslavs to ethnically cleanse Kosovo.  Similarly, Lord Carrington (cited in Littman, 2004:8) declared that:

I think what NATO did by bombing Serbia actually precipitated the exodus of the Kosovo Albanians into Macedonia and Montenegro.  I think the bombing did cause the ethnic cleansing… NATO’s action in Kosovo was mistaken… what we did made things much worse.

The testimony of Jacques Prod’homme (cited in Rouleau, 1999), a French member of the OSCE observer mission about period before NATO intervention “during which he moved freely throughout the Pec region, neither he nor his colleagues observed anything that could be described as systematic persecution, either collective or individual murders, burning of houses or deportations.”

Also, there were reports that Serbian forces had plans to clear entire Kosovo of Albanian population by engaging in ‘Operation Horseshoe’ which later proved to be German Intelligence propaganda (Littman, 2004; WSWS, 1999).  Other allegations of mass murder of Kosovo Albanians include the US State Department Ambassador Scheffer’s claims (cited in Parenti, 2000) that up to 225,000 Kosovo Albanians aged 14 to 59 were not unaccounted as well as British Foreign Office Minister Hoon claim that in more than 100 massacres more than 10,000 people were killed by Serbian forces.  Also, there were allegations that Serbian forces used Trepca mineshafts to dispose bodies of killed Albanians as well burning Albanian bodies in furnaces. 

All these allegations were later dismissed as nonsense and NATO propaganda by FBI, French and Spanish forensic experts (Parenti, 2000).  The Wall Street journal (cited in Parenti, 2000) reported that by November 1999 about 2,100 bodies were found and these include those killed by Serbian forces, the KLA, NATO bombs and those who died of natural causes.  In fact one of the largest mass graves, found near town of Malisevo, contained 24 Serb and non-Albanian bodies mutilated by the KLA (BBC, CNN, Reuters, cited in ERP KIM, 2005)

Finally, the human, economic and environmental costs of NATO aggression were enormous.  The total estimate of human losses in FR Yugoslavia, excluding Kosovo, is 2500 with 557 civilians killed and 12,500 wounded (Dedeic, 2007).  The total economic costs include £2.5bn direct NATO costs (BBC, 1999) and somewhere between $30 billion and $100 billion costs to Yugoslav devastated economy and infrastructure (Dedeic, 2007). 

Environmental costs are not possible to estimate.  For instance, NATO planes deliberately targeted chemical complexes in Pancevo causing approximately 100,000 tonnes of highly toxic and cancerogenic chemicals and 8 tonnes of mercury contaminating the air, soil, underground waters as well as the largest river Danube (Djuric, 2005).  In Novi Sad, NATO destroyed 150 oil tanks causing more than 120,000 tonnes of oil derivates burning for days and spilling into underground waters and Danube.  In Kragujevac and Bor NATO destroyed electricity sub-stations causing more than 50 tonnes of highly toxic dioxin contaminate large areas (Djuric, 2005).  In Kosovo and Southern Serbia several areas were repeatedly bombarded with ammunitions containing depleted uranium.  Some estimates suggest that more than 10 tonnes of depleted uranium was dumped onto Yugoslavia.  Srbljak reported in early 2005 (cited in Djuric, 2005:4) that the rate of people suffering from cancers of lung, bones, liver and other organs were in some parts of Kosovo up 120 times higher than in the same period in 2004.

Overall, NATO ‘humanitarian’ intervention was not at all about humanitarian issues.  This was an illegal aggression and an undeclared war against sovereign state of Yugoslavia and violation of the UN Charter and Geneva Convention.  NATO intervention caused much greater suffering of all civilians, it devastated environment of Yugoslavia and surrounding countries as well as Yugoslav economy and infrastructure.  It also increased antagonism between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs and other non-Albanians minimising chances of coexistence.  This was proved by the exodus of 250,000 refugees after NATO occupied Kosovo and Albanian refugees and the KLA returned to Kosovo.  It also caused radical Muslim ideas spreading into other parts of former Yugoslavia and further destabilising Sandzak, Southern Serbia and Macedonia.  Russia also became concerned with NATO’s action and it increased their military spending thus re-starting arm race.

The actual reasons for NATO aggression are hard to establish.  Many authors believe that this intervention was about establishing a new role and the credibility of NATO in the post-Cold War era.  Others see this as the result of US imperialism and hegemony as well as economic expansion as Fleming (1999) states “one way to open the market is to concur it”.  Some authors also believe that this is a part of the US strategic expansionism towards the East, which involved decade’s long fight against communism and attempts to minimise Russian influence in the world.  Yugoslavia was the only country in Europe that was at the time still under communist rule and therefore under Russian influence. 

There are certainly those who genuinely believe that NATO intervention was done because of a just cause, thus attempting to prevent humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of Europe.  However, their understanding of the whole situation was distorted by the KLA/NATO sophisticated propaganda, media frenzy and the lack of full understanding of the situation on the ground.     

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Sources

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Kozyris, P.J.  1999.  Delayed learning from Kosovo: Any chance of common understanding of facts and law.  Retrieved on 28.03.2007 from: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/phaed1.htm 

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Muenzel, F.  1999.  “What does Public International Law have to say about Kosovar independence?” Retrieved on 01.04.2007 from: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/simop.htm 

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Largely by voice vote on Tuesday, House members passed four anti-Russia measures, continuing US war on the country by other means.

One bill targeted Vladimir Putin over the February 2015 killing of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov – lethally shot multiple times in central Moscow, an incident Russia’s leader had nothing to do with, nor any other Kremlin official.

The killing was strategically timed – ahead of a Vesna (Russian Spring anti-government) opposition march, used as a Nemtsov memorial march, falsely portraying him as a martyr.

At the time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said

“Putin has stressed that this brutal murder has all (the) signs of a contract murder and is extremely provocative.”

“The president has expressed his deep condolences to the family of tragically deceased Nemtsov.”

He was a Western financed self-serving opportunist. His killing had all the earmarks of a US-staged false flag. Cui bono is most important.

Clearly Putin had nothing to gain. Rogue US elements had lots to benefit from trying to destabilize Russia.

If Putin wanted Nemtsov dead, it’s inconceivable he’d order a Mafia-style contract killing. Lethally shooting him in central Moscow clearly ruled out Kremlin involvement. No evidence suggested a state-sponsored assassination.

Nemtsov’s death was and remains more valuable to Washington than using him alive as an impotent opposition figure with less than 5% public support when killed.

Ahead of Tuesday’s House vote, Russophobic House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel turned truth on its head saying the following:

“It’s been four years since his death, but there’s been no proper investigation of his assassination (sic) and the cover-up and zero accountability for those responsible (sic). That’s certainly an outrage,” adding:

“This resolution condemns the Kremlin’s systematic targeting of its political opponents (sic) and calls on the administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for Nemtsov’s murder and cover-up (sic).”

Following an investigation by authorities, five Russian nationals were charged with Nemtzov’s murder.

Three other measures passed on Tuesday, largely by voice vote, showing near-unanimous anti-Russia hostility on Capitol Hill.

The Crimea Annexation (sic) Non-Recognition Act bans US recognition of Crimea as Russian territory.

The Vladimir Putin Transparency Act calls for the US intelligence community to determine and expose so-called “key networks” used by Russia’s president to strengthen political control (sic) and weaken democratic states (sic).

The Keeping Russian Entrapments Minimal and Limiting Intelligence Networks (Kremlin) Act requires the US director of national intelligence (DNI) to inform Congress of Moscow’s malign intent (sic) against the US and other NATO countries.

It also calls for determining potential Russian responses to expanded US/NATO involvement in Eastern Europe, along with identifying areas of Kremlin weakness to use against its ruling authorities.

Senate members will likely adopt similar anti-Russia measures. They follow multiple rounds of US sanctions on the country and July 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea, it passed both houses with only five of 535 members casting dissenting votes, signed into law by Trump.

It called for expanding unilateral sanctions on these countries, imposed illegally for political reasons, unrelated to so-called “malign activities” – part of Washington’s hostile imperial agenda.

Responding to the House measures, Dmitry Peskov said the following:

“Such bills can only have an adverse effect (on bilateral relations). This very unfriendly, rampant anti-Russian sentiment line continues,” adding:

“This is a continuation of this emotional exaltation. Therefore, we do not expect any kind of sober-minded assessment from US legislators now.”

Congress is “strongly influenced by these emotions, which prevent them from assessing the situation soberly and show at least some kind of political will to take actions, which we believe would meet the two countries’ interests best of all.”

He expects anti-Russia sentiment to intensify ahead of US November 2020 presidential, congressional, and state elections.

A Final Comment

On Wednesday, five Republican and undemocratic Dem senators introduced the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression (DASKA)” Act.

Called the “sanctions bill from hell,” it targets Russia’s banking and energy sectors, along with its foreign debt and more, aiming to weaken its economy.

It falsely calls the Russian Federation a “state sponsor of terrorism” – the designation applicable to the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners, not Moscow.

A statement by co-sponsors Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham, Cory Gardner, Ben Cardin, and Jeanne Shaheen said the following in part:

The measure “seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad (sic), malign influence in Syria (sic), and aggression against Ukraine (sic), including in the Kerch Strait (sic).

It calls for sanctions on Russian banks, its energy and cyber sectors, investments in its foreign LNG projects (targeting Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction investors), its foreign debt, shipbuilding sector, as well as key political and private figures.

Its other provisions call for intensified hostile actions against Russia. A similar measure failed to pass last year.

This one is more likely to be adopted by both houses overwhelmingly and signed into law by Trump.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

Plight of Women in Indian Prisons

March 14th, 2019 by CJP

Various studies done within Indian prisons have concluded that a majority of prisoners are Adivasis, Dalits or from other marginalised communities that are being criminalised. Their social and economic situation makes them vulnerable, being unable to defend themselves legally and financially. This compilation aims to highlight the general issues related to Women Prisoners, the Structural Exclusions within the Prison, Analysing the Monitoring Process, Legal Aid, and Accountability of Jail Staff to procedures laid down in Jail manuals.

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Terms of Reference

  • Conduct countrywide Public Hearings on Women Prisoners
  • Analyse the conditions of Women Prisoners in different states of the Country when measured against National and International Standards
  • Analyse the efficacy of monitoring mechanisms of jail conditions of Women in Prison

Status Report: Women Prisoners in India

In the year 2016, over three lakh women were arrested for crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL). A large number of these women were reportedly arrested for crimes under the Prohibition Act, for cruelty by relatives of husband and rioting etc. The overall number of crimes by women has been relatively consistent over the past decade or so.[1] In Maharashtra, 1336 women occupied prisons in 2015[2].

Some relevant Facts and Figures

As per the most recent data available from the report Women in Prisons published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, there are 4,19,623 persons in jails in India. Women constitute 4.3% of this figure, numbering a total of 17,834 women. These are the official figures. Of these, 66.8% (11,916) are under-trial prisoners.

In India, an analysis of prison statistics at five-year intervals reveals an increasing trend in the number of women prisoners – 3.3% of all prisoners in 2000, 3.9% in 2005, 4.1% in 2010 and 4.3% of prisoners in 2015 were women.

A majority of female inmates are in the age group of 30-50 years (50.5%), followed by 18-30 years (31.3%).Of the total 1,401 prisons in India, only 18 are exclusively for women, housing 2,985 female prisoners. Thus, a majority of women inmates are housed in women’s enclosures of general prisons.

Maharashtra

According to latest report from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Maharashtra has a total 9 central jails with an authorised capacity of 452 women prisoners. However, they accommodate 722 prisoners. There are also 28 District jails with a capacity of 334 prisoners, but that actually accommodate 356 prisoners. The 100 sub-jails have an authorized capacity of 568 prisoners and house 8 prisoners, while one Special jail with an authorized capacity of 3 prisoners actually accommodates 6 prisoners.

There is one women’s jail with an authorized capacity of 262 prisoners, but houses 200 prisoners. There are also 13 open jails with an authorized capacity of 100 prisoners but house 44 prisoners. In all, Maharashtra has 154 jails with an authorized capacity of 1,719 women prisoners, but the actual number of inmates is 1,336.

International Rules and Standards governing the Rights of Prisoners

There are various International Rules and Standards governing the Rights of Prisoners. Following are the International Treaties, Rules and Standards directing the model prison conditions.

  1. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  2. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  3. Standard Minimum Rules for treatment of Prisoners (Standard Minimum Rules)
  4. Nelson Mandela Rules
  5. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
  6. Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
  • Both, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, without exception or derogation.
  • The Standard Minimum Rules adopted by U.N. Economic and Social Council in 1957 are one of the most comprehensive sets of guidelines determining the rights of prisoners. They prescribe that the religious beliefs of the prisoner should be respected, prisoners should be provided with wholesome and well-prepared food at usual timings, that at least one qualified medical officer who also has knowledge of psychiatry should be present at every institution etc. There are some special provisions for women prisons like there should be special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment and where nursing infants are allowed to remain in the institution with their mothers, provision should be made for a nursery staffed by qualified persons.
  • The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any form of Detention or Imprisonment and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, both lay down general standards to treat prisoners with inherent dignity and value as human beings.

National Rules and Standards governing the Rights of Prisoners in India

The rules of incarceration in India are determined by following laws:

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  2. Prison Act, 1894.
  3. Prisoners Act, 1900.
  4. Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
  5. Exchange of Prisoners Act, 1948.
  6. Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950.
  7. Prisoner (Attendance in Court) Act, 1955.
  8. Probation of Offenders Act, 1958.
  9. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  10.  Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003.
  11. Model Prison Manual, 2003.
  12. Model Prison Manual, 2016.

Earlier, because of the plethora of laws in the country, there was no uniformity in laws, or standards relating to prisons. Hence, the Ministry of Home Affairs brought in the Model Prison Manual aimed at ensuring some uniformity in laws relating to prisons. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs advised the State Governments/UT Administrations that in order to ensure basic uniformity in prison rules and regulations, all States and UTs should revise their existing Prison Manuals by adopting the provisions of the National Model Prison Manual, 2016.

Some of the important guidelines mentioned in Model Prison Manual 2016 published by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India are:

  1.  To ensure safety of woman prisoners there should be at least one women’s jail in each and every state.
  2. Enclosures for women prisoners should have all the requisite facilities with reference to their special needs, such as pregnancy, child birth and family care, health care and rehabilitation etc.
  3. Female prisoners should be granted equal access to work, vocational training and education as male prisoners.
  4. A register shall/should be maintained in every place of imprisonment where the details regarding a woman prisoner’s identity, their reason for imprisonment, day, and hour of their admission and release and details of children of women prisoners shall be entered.
  5. No male prisoner shall be permitted to enter the female ward of any prison at any time unless he has legitimate duty to attend therein. No male shall enter it at all by night except in an emergency, and even then only along with a female officer.
  6. All staff assigned to work with women prisoners shall receive training relating to the gender specific needs and human rights of women including on sexual misconduct and discrimination.
  7. Photographs, footprints, fingerprints, and measurements of women prisoners shall be done in the presence and with the assistance of women prison officers.
  8. Daily visits and night inspection rounds shall be made by women prison officers.
  9. Women prisoners shall be searched by women wardens and such searches shall not be conducted in the presence of any male.
  10. On admission to prison, women prisoners shall be medically examined by a lady medical officer.
  11. When a woman prisoner is found or suspected to be pregnant at the time of admission or later, the lady Medical Officer shall report the fact to the superintendent and send for gynaecological examination.
  12. As far as possible, arrangements for temporary release will be made to enable a prisoner to deliver her child in hospital outside the prison. Births in prison shall be registered at the local birth registration office.
  13. Children up to six years of age shall be admitted to prison with their mother if no other arrangements for keeping them with relatives or otherwise can be made. The children of women prisoners living in the prison shall be given proper education and recreational opportunities.
  14. Adequate health facilities shall be provided to children of women prisoners. Pregnant women prisoners should be prescribed a special diet.
  15. Every prisoner should receive food everyday at prescribed times, and according to the scale laid down.
  16. Adequate clothing should be provided to women prisoners and their children.
  17. Proper accommodation should be provided to women prisoners that shall meet basic requirements of health.
  18. Every woman prisoner should be provided with the opportunity to access education, and recreational, cultural programmes, and vocational training should be organised for them.
  19. To ensure access to justice for all, timely legal aid services should be provided to needy prisoners at State expenses as prescribed by the State government.
  20. In a prison for convicted women prisoners, there shall be one post of a lady Superintendent.

Challenges faced by Women in Prisons

As discussed above, there are numerous clearly defined Rights of Prisoners. However, the implementation of most of the conditions is found missing in prisons today. The following are the major problems faced by women in prisons in the country, with special focus on Maharashtra.

Prison Staff

  • There is a lack of female staff in prisons in the country. In Maharashtra the sanctioned number of jail staff was 5,064 in 2015, whereas only 3,976 people were employed in the jails, of which 713 were women.
  • The lack of female staff in women prisons often leads to male staff becoming responsible for female inmates. This is highly undesirable since women inmates need gender-specific services that should be provided by female staff.

Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Most jails are lacking in basic facilities of sanitation and hygiene. While the prescription in the Prison Manual is to ensure one toilet and one bathing cubicle for every 10 prisoners, this is rarely seen on the ground.
  • There is a lack of sufficient water, which exacerbates the low levels of sanitation and hygiene, as against the minimum standard estimate of 135 liters per inmate by the Manual.
  • In Byculla jail, 81 women inmates were hospitalized last year due to alleged food poisoning caused by the unhygienic environment in the prison. The women complained of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Accommodation

  • National and International Guidelines prescribe decent human living standards for prisoners. A specified size for cells and barracks in prison is prescribed in the National Prison Manual. Barracks are meant to ideally only house 20 prisoners and dormitories to house only four to six prisoners each.
  • The Minimum Standards Rules further direct that dormitories should be carefully provided to people suitable to live with each other and windows where prisoners live or work shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light.
  • Over-crowding is one of the key problems plaguing the prisons in the country. The national average occupancy was reported at 114.4% in 2015. The effects of overcrowding often become even more pronounced in the case of women, as they are usually restricted to a smaller enclosure of the jail due to lack of proper infrastructure for them.
  • In Maharashtra, however, over-crowding is not a problem, with the total capacity being 1719, occupied by 1336 women.

Health

  • The right to health includes providing healthcare that is available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality. In many cases, female wards in hospitals and lady Medical Officers, especially gynecologists, are not available. Concerns of mental health are often not given adequate importance, and women suffering from mental illnesses are often housed in prisons due to lack of other appropriate facilities.
  • A total of 51 deaths of women prisoners were reported in 2015, of which 48 deaths were considered to be of natural causes and three deaths occurred due to committing suicide. In Maharashtra, 4 deaths were due to natural causes.

Legal Aid

  • As per the new National Prison Manual, State governments are to appoint jail-visiting advocates, set up legal aid clinics in every prison, and provide legal literacy classes in all prisons to ensure that prisoners have access to legal aid.
  • Visits by members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to various prisons have revealed that many prisons do not have a legal aid cell, and very few prisoners have accessed legal aid. States should ensure that District and State Legal Service Authorities are linked to prisons to provide free legal aid, and all prisoners should be made aware of their rights.

Violence

  • Incidents of violence, including sexual violence by inmates and authorities, have been reported from across the country. However, official reports underestimate the prevalence of violence, because prisoners fear retaliation, as they are forced to stay in the same place as their perpetrators.
  • In 2017, Manjula Shetye was allegedly beaten to death in Byculla jail by prison staff.[3]

Children

  • Children up to the age of six are allowed to live with their mothers in prisons if no other arrangements for their care can be made. In Maharashtra, the total number of women with children is 82, and the total number of children is 88.
  • As per a 2009 BPR&D report, proper facilities for biological, psychological and social growth of the child, crèche, and recreational facilities are not available in every prison. NHRC jail visits reveal that in many cases, other than a glass of milk, an adequate special diet for children is not always provided.

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Notes

[1] Women in Prisons Report published by Ministry of Women and Child Development, India in June 2018.

[2] NCRB’s Crime in India Statistics, 2015

Featured image is from CJP

A young woman picks up and compares juices in a store aisle. She’s 29. She spends 40 minutes on average shopping and likes orange juice. That’s not all: She usually spends 2,500 yen per visit to the store.

The Japanese startup Vaak’s software knows a lot about the woman in a white shirt.

Most importantly, it knows that there is only a 4 percent chance of her doing something such as shoplifting.

Vaak is one of a growing number of companies across the globe developing AI-powered surveillance technology that analyzes body language to judge whether someone is behaving in a suspicious manner. (The technology also has important applications for autonomous cars; those systems need to know, for instance, what the intent of someone standing on a street corner is.)

But many companies envision the products as a security tool. While nary a month goes by without some press account on a troubling aspect of facial recognition technology, there’s been far less attention paid to the type of artificial intelligence that Vaak is developing.

Vaak’s software works by analyzing in-store security camera footage. In a promotional video, the software can not only identify the 29-year-old juice lover, but zero in on a shifty character in a hoodie who may be contemplating shoplifting. A floating tag next to the suspicious man’s face identifies him as a 30-year-old who usually only spends 500 yen (about $5) in the store. A high-tech looking array of dots and lines shimmers across his frame as he peeks down an aisle; presumably it is measuring the man’s movements and looking for signs of nefarious intent: fidgeting, restlessness, and suspicious body behavior. After a quick glance to make sure the coast is clear, hoodie guy pockets a can of beer. Vaak clocks him as having an “86-percent” suspicious rate.

According to the Bloomberg article “These cameras can spot shoplifters even before they steal,” Vaak is testing its software in several locations in the Tokyo region. After a real-life theft during a practice run of the technology at a test store in nearby Yokohama, Vaak reportedly helped authorities arrest a shoplifter. The company’s founder, Ryo Tanaka, told Bloomberg about the breakthrough moment for the company:

“We took an important step closer to a society where crime can be prevented with AI.”

And Vaak is not the only one pursuing this type of body language profiling approach. Wrnch, a Canadian company, uses “synthetic” humans, similar to those that a videogame designer might create, to train the company’s system to recognize behaviors. In addition to Vaak and wrnch, companies in England and Israel, at least, are also working on similar technology.

At first glance, this approach appears different from the AI-based surveillance technology taken by facial recognition developers, who rely on massive data sets of photos of actual people, and which has received a torrent of criticism in recent months. (The American Civil Liberties Union found that Amazon’s Rekognition facial software disproportionately labeled minority members of the US Congress as being in a mug-shot database.)

But behavior recognition software may be no better in this regard. Just as a potentially racially biased facial recognition system could flag a person for police attention, could biased software deem someone moving in a “fidgety” manner as suspicious on dubious grounds?

Kind of all makes one want to go “Vaak.”

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Matt Field is an associate editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Before joining the Bulletin, he covered the White House, Congress, and presidential campaigns as a news producer for Japanese public television. He has also reported for print outlets in the Midwest and on the East Coast. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Featured image: A screenshot from a video on Vaak’s website. Credit: Vaak.

EPA Proposes Use of 650,000 Pounds of Antibiotics Per Year on Citrus Fields

March 14th, 2019 by Center For Biological Diversity

Advocates from public-health and environmental groups delivered more than 45,000 petition signatures to the Environmental Protection Agency today asking the agency to deny a proposal that would expand spraying antibiotics on citrus fields.

If that proposal is approved, citrus growers could spray more than 650,000 pounds of the antibiotic streptomycin on citrus fields every year to treat the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease. Streptomycin belongs to a class of antibiotics considered critically important to human health by the World Health Organization. By contrast, people in America only use 14,000 pounds of that antibiotic class each year.

“The more you use antibiotics, the greater the risk that bacteria resistant to the drugs will flourish and spread. The bottom line is that the potential problems created by spraying massive amounts of streptomycin on citrus fields could outweigh the original problem the EPA wants to solve,” said Matt Wellington, U.S. PIRG’s Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign director.

Spraying antibiotics on citrus fields does not cure citrus greening disease or prevent its spread. If allowed, this would be the largest-ever use of a medically important antibiotic in plant agriculture in the United States. The EPA has not fully considered the consequences of this unprecedented antibiotic use, especially given its limited potential for success, as laid out in comments by the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and U.S. PIRG.

“Spraying orange and grapefruit trees with an antibiotic we use to treat human disease is a dangerously shortsighted idea,” said Emily Knobbe, EPA policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In addition to increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance, the EPA’s own analysis indicates streptomycin could harm foraging mammals like rabbits and chipmunks.”

Recent research suggests that up to 162,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. The World Health Organization ranked antibiotic resistance among the top 10 health threats in 2019. Overusing antibiotics in any setting fuels the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics should be used as sparingly as possible and only when absolutely necessary. Spraying massive quantities of a medically important antibiotic on citrus fields doesn’t fit those requirements.

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While online audiences know YouTube comedian Joanna Hausmann from her videos making the case for regime change, her economist father has flown below the radar. His record holds the key to understanding what the U.S. wants in Venezuela.

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If you’ve followed Venezuela-related news on social media, you’ve undoubtedly stumbled across a video (below) released by comedian Joanna Hausmann in which she promises to tell you, “What’s Happening in Venezuela: Just the Facts.” Despite a title designed to instill confidence in the uninformed viewer, upon closer examination the “facts” presented in Hausman’s video hardly stand the test of reality.

Hausmann, for example, attempted to pass off dubious assertions that Venezuelan opposition leader “Juan Guaidó is not right wing,” and that he “did not just declare himself president” of the country. She also claimed that President Nicolas Maduro “made up” the National Constituent Assembly, neglecting to mention that that governing body was clearly defined in the country’s 1999 Constitution, and was ratified by 71.8 percent of the country through a democratic vote.

Hausmann’s performance ended with a teary-eyed appeal for sympathy: “On a personal level… my father is exiled from going back home.” For a video dedicated to “just the facts,” Hausmann’s rant omitted an especially pertinent piece of information: her exiled father and the rest of her family are no ordinary Venezuelans, and are, in fact, key players in the bid to bring down the elected government.

Much of Hausmann’s script echoed talking points outlined by her father, Ricardo Hausmann, in a 2018 article ominously entitled “D-Day Venezuela.” The piece amounted to a plea for the U.S. to depose Maduro by force, with Hausman arguing that “military intervention by a coalition of regional forces may be the only way to end a man-made famine threatening millions of lives.”

But Ricardo Hausmann is much more than a prominent pundit. He is one of the West’s leading neoliberal economists, who played an unsavory role during the 1980s and ’90s in devising policies that enabled the looting of Venezuela’s economy by international capital and provoked devastating social turmoil.

Hausmann emerged among a group of neoliberal economists gathered around the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA), a private university in Caracas. They came to be known in Venezuela as “the IESA Boys,” a not-so-affectionate reference to the Chicago Boys who had been “imported” into Chile from the Economics Department of the University of Chicago and who in 1973 played a role in devising shock-therapy economic policies for Augusto Pinochet and his military junta.

The popular rejection of the IESA Boys’ agenda began with the Caracazo of 1989, a massive revolt that consumed the capital of Caracas when poor and working-class Venezuelans rioted in protest of an IMF package that mandated harsh austerity. Thousands of dead civilians and three years later, Hausman entered government to impose more shock therapy on the most vulnerable Venezuelans, making the rise of Hugo Chávez as president in 1998 practically inevitable.

While unknown to most Venezuelans, Hausmann remains a key player in his country’s tumultuous politics. During a talk at the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston in November 2018, he eerily predicted Guaidó’s self-proclaimed presidency, telling the crowd “the international community is now focused on the idea that… January 10th is the end of the presidential period of Nicolás Maduro.”

“On January 11th, Nicolás Maduro will not be recognized as… the legitimate president of Venezuela,” Hausmann anticipated. “I think that’s an important date.”

On January 11th, when Juan Guaidó declared his preparedness to become president of Venezuela, the Harvard professor’s prophecy was fulfilled.

Almost two months later, Guaidó appointed Hausman to serve as his representative at the Inter-American Development Bank. This was perhaps the best signal of what lies in store for Venezuela if Guaidó and his benefactors in the Trump administration achieve their goal of regime change. Hausmann’s return to power spells the restoration of the IESA Boys’ agenda, bringing neoliberal austerity back with a vengeance. A detailed look at his history is a preview of what lurks on the horizon for the poor and working-class Venezuelans whose lives improved the most throughout the era of Chavismo.

The wreckage of the IESA Boys

The neoliberal Venezuelan economist Juan Cristóbal Nagel described the neoliberal economics plan he favored for his country during the late 1980’s as “your basic Washington Consensus recipe.” Nagel said the plan consisted of the following ingredients: an end to price controls on basic goods and subsidies for gasoline; the privatization of state utilities; a decision to float the country’s exchange rate; and the lowering of tariffs. The recipe was popularly known as “El Gran Viraje,” or the Great Turn, to radical free-market capitalism.

While campaigning for Venezuela’s 1988 presidential elections, Carlos Andrés Pérez of the social-democratic Acción Democrática Party (AD) slammed the International Monetary Fund as a “neutron bomb that killed people but left buildings standing.” Immediately upon taking office, however, Pérez filled the IMF’s toxic economic prescription for Venezuela’s ailing economy, accepting a massive loan that completed the “Gran Viraje.”

The reforms led to a 30 percent hike in bus fares, announced in February 1989, prompting masses of workers to flood the streets in cities nationwide to publicly reject the bitter pill Pérez was forcing down their throats. Pérez opted to violently suppress the uprising, known as the “Caracazo,” declaring a national emergency and deploying the military to extinguish the revolt. By the time the it was over, anywhere between 300 to 3,000 people were dead, with piles of bodies discovered in mass graves outside of Caracas, the casualties of execution-style killings.

Ricardo Hausmann entered Venezuela’s government under Pérez, serving as his Planning and Finance Minister from 1992 to 1993 while sitting on the board of the country’s Central Bank. Hausman has claimed that he was at Oxford University when the Caracazo erupted, though he had already made his mark on the government’s economic policies.

“Hausmann will tell you that he was abroad at Oxford during the Caracazo rebellion,” says George Ciccariello-Maher, author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution.

“While this may be true” explained Ciccariello-Maher, “[Hausmann] had already spent years in a number of government positions going back to the mid-1980s, and as a key ‘IESA boy,’ spreading neoliberal doctrine from his professorship at the Institute.”

Indeed, before Pérez tapped Hausmann to serve as planning minister, the economist had worked also as a professor at the IESA.

“It was a classic bait-and-switch,” said Ciccariello-Maher. “Pérez had just been elected using anti-neoliberal rhetoric, but he immediately appointed an IESA-dominated cabinet and did the opposite.”

In his book Windfall to Curse: Oil and Industrialization in Venezuela, economist Jonathan Di John wrote that “Pérez was greatly influenced” by IESA academics, characterizing them as “an elite group… who had no party affiliation and were champions of radical, neoliberal reform.”

According to Di John, this group initiated “rapid liberalization reforms,” specifically in trade policy, including reducing the maximum tariff “from 135 percent, one of the highest in the region, to 20 percent by 1992.” A year later, that rate would fall to 10 percent. In other words, Pérez, Hausmann, and the “ISEA Boys” had opened up Venezuela for a free run by multinational corporations while gutting whatever was left of the welfare state.

In 1994, Hausmann received his golden parachute with a post as chief economist for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington. This institution, which claims to “improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean” by providing “financial and technical support to reduce poverty and inequality,” is just another mechanism for imposing the Washington consensus. The U.S. controls 30 percent of the bank’s voting power over financial decisions even though it is not situated in Latin America, where the bank is supposed to do its work. Meanwhile, all 26 Caribbean and Latin American member states carry only a 50 percent sway over the bank’s decisions.

While Hausmann perpetuated his brand of neoliberalism from Washington, a movement was building in the barracks and barrios of Venezuela to exert popular control over the economy. It was led by a charismatic military man named Hugo Chávez.

Revolt against the austerity agenda

During the late 1980s, as Lt. Col. Chávez watched the wholesale ravaging of his country’s economy by foreign capital, he formed a cadre of populist officers called the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200. In 1992, Chávez led the officers in an attempted military coup against the government of Pérez, hoping to ride the wave of popular resentment for the neoliberal policies enforced by Hausmann and his fellow IESA boys. Though he initially failed, Chávez captured the mood of the Venezuelan public, including sectors of the middle class, and emerged as a national folk hero.

Even mainstream U.S. media conceded that Chávez had a point. At the time, the Washington Post identified him as the leader of a popular movement challenging Perez “for not instituting a viable democracy and stewarding an economic program that has not served the country’s poor.”

In contrast to the Post’s contemporary coverage of Venezuela, which reads like an information-warfare campaign on behalf of the anti-Chávez opposition, the Post at that time freely conceded public dissatisfaction with the IESA reforms: “Many people around Caracas banged on pots and pans today and shouted out of their windows in support of the rebels,” the paper noted.

It added:

Venezuela, the third-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel, has been wracked by unrest. Critics accuse the government of not distributing oil riches to the public, citing corruption as a cause.”

For its part, the New York Times reported:

The coup attempt followed violent protests and labor unrest arising from a growing disparity between rich and poor in Venezuela. The Government has admitted that only 57 percent of Venezuelans are able to afford more than one meal a day.”

The Guardian also described the military insurrection as a popular insurgency against the ruthless austerity program of Pérez’s IESA Boys:

The underlying cause of the military unrest is undoubtedly the widespread social discontent. When he came back to power three years ago, President Pérez was expected to repeat the expansionist policies of his first term of office in the late 1970s when Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the developing world, enjoying the easy wealth brought by its huge oil reserves.

But Mr. Pérez overnight adopted the liberal economic policies dominant in most of the Western world. He cut back heavily on government spending, opening up the economy to market forces and international competition.”

Across the board, mainstream media identified the economic program imposed under the watch of Hausmann and his colleagues as the force driving Pérez’s unpopularity. Though Chávez failed to take control of the state in 1992, calling for his comrades to lay down arms following his failed revolt, he declared that “now is the time to reflect,” promising “new situations will come.”

“The same month that Chávez led a failed coup against the Pérez government, Hausmann officially joined the government as planning minister,” recalled Ciccariello-Maher, adding:

It’s not clear to me whether it’s better to have been in charge when the government instituted a brutal neoliberal reform package, or to willingly join that same government after it had massacred hundreds, if not thousands, who resisted the reforms.”

Six years later, Chávez won democratic elections for president, convening a national assembly and referendum to rewrite the country’s constitution and alter the character of the Venezuelan state in a dramatic fashion.

By this time, Hausmann and his wife, Ana Julia Jatar, who also served in the Pérez administration, had left for high-flying careers Washington, where Hausmann took over as Chief Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank. While her husband worked at the bank, Jatar was a Senior Fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank primarily funded by Chevron, the Ford Foundation, USAID, and her husband’s employer.

In 2000, Hausman took a professorial job at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, watching and waiting for an opportunity to return to power in his home country.

“Neoliberalism is the path to hell”

Back in Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution ushered in by Chávez provided an antidote to the IESA method that had produced so much social damage to Venezuela’s majority.

“The Bolivarian Revolution was an indirect response to neoliberalism, born of mass resistance in the streets,” claims Ciccariello-Maher, observing that while “in power, it remained largely faithful to that mission.”

Ciccariello-Maher added that “it would be difficult to exaggerate the impact Chavismo has had on Venezuelan society,” because for the first time in its history “oil was put at the service of the people. …Most important, however, the poor – so long excluded – became ‘protagonists’ in the political life of Venezuela, and active participants in local direct democracy.”

Chávez moved to nationalize not only the country’s prosperous oil resources, booting ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips from the field, but also centers of agricultural production, telecommunications, and mineral mining. Considering Venezuela sits atop the largest oil reserves in the world, as well as sizeable gold stocks, this achievement was no small feat.

In his 1998 inaugural address, Chávez cited Pope John Paul II as having described capitalism as “savage,” using the words of His Holiness to highlight the social damage left behind by Hausmann and his colleagues. Chavez declared:

It is savage that in a country like ours more than half of preschoolers are not going to preschool. It is savage to know that only one out of every five children who enter preschool, only one in five finishes elementary school. That is savage because that is the future of this country.”

In 2002, just one month after facing down a U.S.-backed coup attempt, Chávez addressed a conference in Madrid declaring “neoliberalism is the path to hell.” Unlike Pérez, Venezuela’s new leader would not sell out his promise to reject the IMF’s austerity agenda.

The Hausmann clan versus Chavismo

During the Chávez era, the Hausmann family was not content to sit on the sidelines and watch him build a “21st-century socialism.”

Joanna’s mother, Ana Julia Jatar, assumed a position as executive director of Súmate, a U.S.-backed “civil society group” formed by right-wing darling María Corina Machado in order to “build democracy” in Venezuela.

In 2003, Súmate received $53,400 from the National Endowment for Democracy “to work on referendum and general electoral activities,” accordingto a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The initiative represented Jatar and Machado’s attempt to remove Chávez from power through popular recall. Yet the public rejected the referendum by a whopping 59 percent margin, in results certified by the Carter Center and Organization of American States.

Seeking to defend his wife’s failed project, Ricardo Hausmann co-authored a paper that he insisted “open[ed] the door to… hypotheses of fraud” marring the vote. His argument was thoroughly rebuked in an extensive study issued by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which determined Hausmann and his co-author, M.I.T’s Roberto Rigobon, “provide no evidence of fraud.”

Súmate’s subsequent efforts to label the vote as fraudulent were also rebuffed in a comprehensive report released by the Carter Center, which concluded: “the Aug. 15 vote clearly expressed the will of the Venezuelan electorate.” The Carter Center concluded that it “did not observe, and has not received, credible evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the vote.”

Despite Súmate’s failures, President George W. Bush welcomed Machado to the White House in 2005. In the Oval Office, Bush heralded her efforts “to defend the electoral and constitutional rights of all Venezuelan citizens” and monitor the country’s elections.

Sociologist William I. Robinson told Venezuelanalysis that Súmate was part of “a full-blown operation, a massive foreign-policy operation to undermine the Venezuelan revolution, to overthrow the government of Hugo Chávez, and to reinstall the elite back in power in Venezuela.”

Such elites include multiple members of Joanna Hausmann’s clan.

“My extended family, they go out on these protests,” the YouTube comedian declared in her video. “My uncle is in jail for simply being a journalist.”

Image on the right: Ana Julia Jatar and her father, Braulio Jatar Dotti. Photo | NotiEspartano

Ana Julia Jatar | Braulio Jatar Dotti

That uncle is Ana Julia’s brother, Braulio Jatar, and he was not “simply” a journalist, but also a lawyer and businessman jailed not for “journalism,” but rather for extortion, fraud, and other financial crimes.

Ana Julia and Braulio were the children of Braulio Jatar Dotti, who served as Secretary for Parliamentary and Municipal Affairs in the ruling Democratic Action party while it was engaged in a violent battle against the armed Revolutionary Left Movement.

The independent Chilean news site El Desconcierto described Braulio Sr. as having been “in charge of eliminating the leftist groups” in Venezuela at the time. In 1963, he literally wrote the book on how to disable the “extreme left” and guerillas. It was called, “Disabling the Extreme Left and the Corian Guerillas.”

Hausmann’s power play for “opening up the oil industry”

Fast forward to 2019, and Joanna Hausmann sits comfortably in her New York City apartment, complaining that “the Venezuelan economy is a disaster in a country that sits on the world’s largest oil reserves.”

Meanwhile, Joanna’s father, Ricardo, has been barnstorming the U.S. to drum up support at elite think tanks for a coup he clearly saw on the horizon. During his November 2018 address to the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, which functions as a roundtable for U.S. oil executives, Hausman laid out his agenda for “the morning after” regime change.

The economist called for an end to the Bolivarian government’s policy of investing oil wealth into Venezuelan society, stating his support for “private investment in the oil industry without PDVSA participation.” In fact, Hausmann imagined “the opening up of the oil industry” as a top item on the new government’s agenda.

The selection of Ricardo Hausmann to serve at the Inter-American Development Bank by Guaidó’s U.S. handlers demonstrates how central neoliberal economics are to his own administration.

“This is about people,” Joanna Hausmann insisted at the end of her YouTube performance; “this is about people wanting to take their country back.”

Those people include her family, and they are not your average Venezuelans.

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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.

Featured image: Ricardo Hausmann speaks at the “Us and prosperity” conference organized by the Rafael del Pino Foundation on June 7, 2017. in Madrid, Spain. Photo | Rafael del Pino Foundation | Creative Commons

Give Chagos back to the Chagossians! That’s a slogan I first heard in 2000. It was a demonstration in London, outside a courthouse, a small group of people with handmade signs appealing to the British legal system to return their islands to them. Few people paid them any attention. The courts sided with the islanders (whose case is unimpeachable) and then did nothing to enforce their verdict.

The Chagos Archipelago is a group of 60 islands in the Indian Ocean. These islands are claimed by Mauritius, a country that won its independence from the United Kingdom in 1968. Three years before the independence of Mauritius, the British separated the Chagos Archipelago and converted it into the British Indian Ocean Territory. To cement its control over the islands, the British expelled over 2,000 Chagossians. Some of these Chagossians stood in London, fighting for their lost islands.

At the end of February, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the UK must give the islands back to Mauritius. In 2017, the UN General Assembly had heard the case of the islanders and referred it to the ICJ. Now, the ICJ—with a 13 to 1 ruling (the U.S. voting against)—has sided with the Chagossians. But this is not a binding ruling, and the British government has said it would ignore the International Court of Justice.

Diego Garcia

Why would the United Kingdom need these islands? By the 1960s, the United States had begun to take over many of the British imperial bases for its own massive military base system. There are now over 800 U.S. military bases in more than 70 countries (for comparison, the Russians have about eight overseas military bases, most of them in the territory of the former USSR—such as in Moldova and in Belarus—with only the bases in Syria and Vietnam outside that zone). No country can match the U.S. military footprint.

The biggest island on the Chagos Archipelago is Diego Garcia. The United States leases this island from the United Kingdom. The UK gave the United States the lease in exchange for a discount on the sale of the Polaris nuclear submarine system. That lease ends in 2036. Diego Garcia has been one of the most important U.S. overseas bases—used in the U.S. war on Vietnam, the U.S. war on Afghanistan and the U.S. war on Iraq. It was used by the CIA as a black site in the War on Terror (150 Sri Lankan fishermen were held there in its prisons).

Zone of Peace

The United States has faced legal threats to its base for the past five decades. The bereft Chagossians have taken their case to British courts, hoping to exert pressure to return the islands to them. When the British broke off the islands from Mauritius in 1965, the UK violated UN Resolution 1514 (XV) on Decolonization that argued against the breakup of colonies. Britain strong-armed the Mauritius independence movement, telling them that they could have their freedom without Chagos or have no freedom at all.

More difficult for the U.S. military operations was the attempt by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the United Nations to constitute the Indian Ocean as a “zone of peace.” As early as 1964, at the Cairo, Egypt, Non-Aligned summit, the member states recommended that the oceans of the world be “denuclearized zones” (the NAM was inspired by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and the 1963 Treaty of Tlatelolco—to keep Latin America free of nuclear weapons). In 1970, the Non-Aligned summit in Lusaka, Zambia, declared that the Indian Ocean must be a “zone of peace from which Great Power rivalries and competition, as well as bases,” must be excluded.

The United States attacked this idea. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt told the U.S. Congress in 1974 that the USSR stood atop the “central part of the West’s energy jugular down to the Persian Gulf.” For that reason, the Indian Ocean—and Diego Garcia—has “become a focal point of U.S. foreign and economic policies and has a growing impact on our security.”

Marine Reserve

Every attempt was made to deny the people of Chagos their homeland. In April 2010, the British Foreign Office said that 640,000 square kilometers of the archipelago would now be a “marine reserve,” which should remain uninhabited. The British government told the U.S. government—in a secret cable—that the “former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos were a marine reserve.” This was environmental conservation for military purposes. No statement was made to remove the U.S. base from Diego Garcia, which would be at the heart of the marine reserve.

In 2015, Mauritius went to the court of arbitration at the Hague, where they won a ruling that the British declaration of the marine reserve was illegal. The UK had not consulted either Mauritius or the Chagossians. Britain eventually said that the Chagossians would not be able to exercise their right to return because of the objections of the U.S. military. So be it.

After this ruling, a spokeswoman for the British foreign office said that the ICJ’s ruling “was an advisory opinion, not a judgment.” It is unlikely that the UK—or the United States—will honor the opinion. The United States voted against it. The UK now says that the military base “helps to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organized crime and piracy.” The door closes once more on the hopes of the Chagossians.

Those hopes, eternal and persistent, are captured in the poet Saradha Soobrayen’s prize-winning work:

“On the main island of Diego Garcia, the U.S. base, Camp Justice squats.

The Chagossians are still chanting, ‘Rann nu Diego’

thirty, forty years later, fighting for the right to return.

Their loss is unimaginable, these guardians of the Chagos archipelago

Their homecoming is not yet out of reach, not yet out of sight.”

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Vijay Prashad is the Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and Chief Editor of LeftWord Books. He is a Writing Fellow and Chief Correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He writes regularly for The Hindu, Frontline, Newsclick, and BirGün.

The US-funded CANVAS organization that trained Juan Guaido and his allies produced a 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages and urged the opposition “to take advantage of the situation…towards their needs”

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A September 2010 memo by a US-funded soft power organization that helped train Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaido and his allies identifies the potential collapse of the country’s electrical sector as “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The memo has special relevance today as Guaido moves to exploit nationwide blackouts caused by a major failure at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri dam – a crisis that Venezuela’s government blames on US sabotage.

It was authored by Srdja Popovic of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the US government that has trained thousands of US-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change.

This group reportedly hosted Guaido and the key leaders of his Popular Will party for a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.

In the 2010 memo, CANVAS’s Popovic declared, “A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector.” Popovic explicitly identified the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant as a friction point, emphasizing that “water levels at the Guri dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry.”

Speculating on a “grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010,” the CANVAS leader stated that “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs.”

Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.

On March 7, just days after Guaido’s return from Colombia, where he participated in the failed and demonstrably violent February 23 attempt to ram a shipment of US aid across the Venezuelan border, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a major and still unexplained collapse.

Days later, electricity remains sporadic across the country. Meanwhile, Guaido has done everything he can “to take advantage of the situation and spin it” against President Nicolas Maduro – just as his allies were urged to do over eight years before by CANVAS.

Rubio vows “a period of suffering” for Venezuela hours before the blackout

The Venezuelan government has placed the blame squarely on Washington, accusing it of sabotage through a cyber-attack on its electrical infrastructure. Key players in the US-directed coup attempt have done little to dispel the accusation.

In a tweet on March 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo framed the electricity outage as a pivotal stage in US plans for regime change:

At noon on March 7, during a hearing on Venezuela at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Marco Rubio explicitly called for the US to stir “widespread unrest,” declaring that it “needs to happen” in order to achieve regime change.

“Venezuela is going to enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history,” Rubio proclaimed.

Around 5 PM, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a total and still unexplained collapse. Residents of Caracas and throughout Venezuela were immediately plunged into darkness.

At 5:18 PM, a clearly excited Rubio took to Twitter to announce the blackout and claim that “backup generators have failed.” It was unclear how Rubio had obtained such specific information so soon after the outage occurred. According to Jorge Rodriguez, the communications minister of Venezuela, local authorities did not know if backup generators had failed at the time of Rubio’s tweet.

Back in Caracas, Guaido immediately set out to exploit the situation, just as his CANVAS trainers had advised over eight years before. Taking to Twitter just over an hour after Rubio, Guaido declared, “the light will return when the usurpation [of Maduro] ends.” Like Pompeo, the self-declared president framed the blackouts as part of a regime change strategy, not an accident or error.

Two days later, Guaido was at the center of opposition rally he convened in affluent eastern Caracas, bellowing into a megaphone: “Article 187 when the time comes. We need to be in the streets, mobilized. It depends on us, not on anybody else.”

Article 187 establishes the right of the National Assembly “to authorize the use of Venezuelan military missions abroad or foreign in the country.”

Upon his mention of the constitutional article, Guaido’s supporters responded, “Intervention! Intervention!”

Exploiting crisis to “get back into a position of power”

As Dan Cohen and I reported here at the Grayzone, Guaido’s rise to prominence – and the coup plot that he has been appointed to oversee – is the product of a decade-long project overseen by the Belgrade-based CANVAS outfit.

CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means “resistance” in Serbian, was the student group that worked alongside US soft power organizations to mobilize the protests that eventually toppled the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

CANVAS has been funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government’s main arm of promoting regime change.  According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.”

A leaked email from a Stratfor staffer noted that after they ousted Milosevic,

“the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS… or in other words a ‘export-a-revolution’ group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;).”

Stratfor subsequently revealed that CANVAS “turned its attention to Venezuela” in 2005, after training opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime change operations across Eastern Europe.

In September 2010, as Venezuela headed for a parliamentary election, CANVAS produced a series of memos outlining the plans they had hatched with “non-formal actors” like Guaido and his cadre of student activists to bring down Chavez.

“This is the first opportunity for the opposition to get back into a position of power,” Popovic wrote at the time.

In his memo on electricity outages, Popovic highlighted the importance of the Venezuelan military in achieving regime change.

“Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of massive public unrest and rejection of the presidency,” the CANVAS founder wrote, “malcontent sectors of the military will likely decide to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support.”

While the scenario Popovic envisioned failed to materialize in 2010, it perfectly describes the situation gripping Venezuela today as an opposition leader cultivated by CANVAS seeks to spin the crisis against Maduro while calling on the military to break ranks.

Since the Grayzone exposed the deep ties between CANVAS and Guaido’s Popular Will party, Popovic has attempted to publicly distance himself from his record of training Venezuela’s opposition.

Today, however, Popovic’s 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages reads like a blueprint for the strategy that Guaido and his patrons in Washington have actively implemented. Whether or not the blackout is the result of external sabotage, it represents the “watershed event” that CANVAS has prepared its Venezuelan cadres for.

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Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Featured image is from The Grayzone 

Contesting the Arctic Railway

March 14th, 2019 by Clemence Waller

The Arctic railway would have opened up the Arctic trade routes and allowed Finland to have a direct connection to central Europe for transport of raw materials. However, a recent report has brought the project’s commercial and ethical viability into question.  

The report concluded that:

“A railway project this size is so complex and involves so many stakeholders and factors that in the time and resources given it has not been possible to properly assess all of the issues regarding the Arctic railway project.”

The report argues that more planning is needed regarding funding and respecting the rights of the Indigenous people (the Sami) whose land the railway would have to traverse across.

Environmental impact 

The projected railway was planned to cross from Rovaniemi, Finland to Kirkenes Norway. This railway would open up the Arctic circle to Europe and secure a more direct trade route for Baltic Nations, Russia, Japan and China to transport raw materials to Central Europe.

The project was initially announced in October 2015 by former Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen, in a memorandum to Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

This project has since been met with vehement criticism from the Sami People, environmental activists and artists supporting the Sami people and ordinary Finnish citizens.

Johanna Kronqvist, a student at Abo Akademy in Finland, said: 

“At first, I thought [the railway project] sounded quite exciting, but as soon as I realised the effects on the Sami people, the reindeer husbandry and the environment in general, I got upset”. 

Indeed, though the Norwegian and Finish governments explored five different route options, all would have had to cross Sami Lapland, and thus cause damage to the habitat of the reindeer and the fishing traditions of the Sami people.

Final frontier

The construction of the line was projected by Minister Anna Berner to cost €2.9 billion, with Norway paying €0.9 and Finland paying the rest. Te Rovaniemi-Kirkenes line would cut through lake Inari and a large portion of forest and herding territories.

Dr Humrich from the University of Groningen describes the Arctic as “the final frontier”. The Arctic region is a goldmine for those seeking to exploit its natural resources, with its untapped liquid oil and gas reserves, and the Arctic ocean serving as an expedient sea route that helps transport raw goods.

Dr Humrich said:

 “Concerning the transport of raw materials, the railway would be transferring copper, iron ore, phosphate or raw wood. They are not transportable by plane. The goods are currently being transported by boat but that is a very slow process.

“Finally, the goods could be transferred by street but they have less capacity than trains, who are in the eyes of the Finnish government, the most economically feasible option.”

As it stands, goods from Russia enter the northernmost part of Norway and still have to be transferred to other modes of transportations. The Rovaniemi-Kirkenes line would have effectively cut out the middle man and set up a direct line connecting Europe to the Arctic sea and create new transport hubs and ports. 

In Dr Humrich’s opinion, despite looking at all five proposal routes for this line, there was no way for construction to avoid Sami Lapland. However, he did agree that the Rovaniemi-Kirkenes was the option, though most direct, that would cause the greatest amount of damage to the Lapland flora and fauna.

Indigenous livelihoods

The Sami people are the only Indigenous peoples living within the European Union. They are present in Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland.

Part of their heritage is Reindeer Husbandry and Fishing.  The projected railway line would cut through one third of Lapland forest region and would cause significant damage to an already fragile Arctic Environment.

As Dr. Cepinskyte of the Finnish Intstitute of International Affairs, specialist on the protection of national minorities and indigenous peoples and Arctic Security explained: 

“The Sami people fear the railway would disrupt reindeer pastures and migration patterns, while trains could also kill a lot of reindeers.

“In addition, the railway would likely attract large scale industrial activities, such as mining, which would pose a threat to the environment and nature.

“Reindeer herding and the traditional use of lands is fundamental for the survival of the Sami culture and languages, thus any harm to the environment and nature would put the preservation of the Sami identity at risk.”

Activist interventions

This view is further supported by Former head of YLE Sami-language news, Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, who wrote an article citing that the projected line would plough through Sami remains, thus disrespecting culturally significant traditions and bring about significant damage to Sami culture.

Näkkäläjärvi wrote:

 “The grazing lands for the reindeer have already been cut by competing land use such as logging, roads and construction. Building a railway through the reindeer herding cooperatives would further fragment, narrow and decrease the land needed by the reindeer.”

Activist groups such as Suohpanterror and Greenpeace joined the Sami people in September 2018 as the Sami formed a ‘red line’ along the projected railway route to protest the construction that was planned without the ‘Free, Prior, Informed Consent’ right given to the Indigenous people to protect their rights.

Furthermore, Sami Parliament have issued a statement claiming that the Sami were not consulted adequately by Norwegian and Finnish governments to discuss the implications this project would have for the Sami.

This is not the first time Nordic governments have ignored indigenous people’s rights, but the cancellation of the project is a step closer to protecting the environment and indigenous rights.

Viable solutions

The Sami and the environment can breathe a little easier as the controversy seems to be settled peacefully, unlike those affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States.

The future of this project remains unclear. What is clear however, is that if Norwegian and Finnish authorities wish to continue with this railway, they must include the Indigenous peoples on their territories in all stages of planning and discussion, in order to come up with a viable solution for all parties.

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Clemence Waller is a journalism Masters student at the University of Groningen. Growing up in the Middle East, she has always been interested in international reporting and politics. She is currently a freelance journalist.

Featured image is from The Ecologist

The CIA is conspiring with ISIS commanders in northeastern Syria supplying them with fake documents and then transferring them to Iraq, according to reports in Turkish pro-government media.

About 2,000 ISIS members were questioned in the areas of Kesra, Buseira, al-Omar and Suwayr in Deir Ezzor province and at least 140 of them then received fake documents. Some of the questioned terrorists were then moved to the camps of al-Hol, Hasakah and Rukban, which are controlled by US-backed forces. The CIA also reportedly created a special facility near Abu Khashab with the same purpose.

Israeli, French and British special services are reportedly involved.

An interesting observation is that the media of the country, which in the previous years of war, used to conspire with ISIS allowing its foreign recruits to enter Syria and buying smuggled oil from the terrorists, has now become one of the most active exposers of the alleged US ties with ISIS elements.

Another issue often raised in Turkish media is the poor humanitarian situation in the refugee camps controlled by US-backed forces. These reports come in the course of other revelations. According to the International Rescue Committee, about 100 people, mostly children, died in combat zones or in the al-Hol camp controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces just recently.

In its turn, the Russian Defense Ministry released a series of satellite images revealing the horrifying conditions in the al-Rukban camp. The imagery released on March 12 shows at least 670 graves, many of them fresh, close to the camp’s living area. The tents and light constructions used to settle refugees are also located in a close proximity to large waste deposits.

A joint statement by the Russian and Syrian Joint Coordination Committees for Repatriation of Syrian Refugees said that refugees in al-Rukban are suffering from a lack of water, food, medication and warm clothing, which is especially important during winter. According to the statement, members of the US-backed armed group Maghawir al-Thawra disrupt water deliveries to the camp, using this as a bargaining chip for blackmailing and profiteering purposes.

Tensions are once again growing between Syria and Israel. Earlier in March, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official letter to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund that Damascus ”will not hesitate to confront Israel” if it continues refusing  to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Israeli media and officials responded with a new round of allegations that Hezbollah is entrenching in southern Syria therefore justifying a further militarization of the Golan Heights.

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Now that Israel is getting a lot of heat for its decision to put finishing touches on the wholesale theft of Syria’s Golan Heights, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has launched a new PR campaign. 

Netanyahu claims arch-enemy Hezbollah is preparing to use the Golan to attack Israel. In order to get the attention of the American people—it already has the full attention of the US government—and make excuses ahead of the plan to make annexation final, Netanyahu said the leader of the Hezbollah group has killed Americans and now is set on killing Israelis. 

Reuters reports:

Israel on Wednesday accused a suspected Lebanese Hezbollah operative [Ali Mussa Daqduq] who was previously held in Iraq over the killing of five U.S. military personnel of now setting up a Syrian guerrilla network for cross-border attacks on Israeli targets.

The Israeli foreign minister connected this alleged plot by Iran and Hezbollah directly to the push to have the US officially recognize the annexation. He said it would be “an appropriate” response to what he described as increased Hezbollah activity on the Golan.

Israel’s IDF said Daqduq is the “mastermind” behind the plan. The allegation is “based on what it described as previously classified intelligence,” according to the Reuters report. 

The claim Daqduq is linked to Hezbollah comes from US intelligence sources. British forces captured Daqduq in Iraq where he was assisting the resistance to occupation. In 2008 The New York Times, a dependable source for government narratives, reported Iran had trained Hezbollah operatives to kill US troops. 

Militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, according to American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government.

This claim was extracted from Shia detainees during “enhanced interrogation”—doublespeak for torture—by the US military, thus the validity of the accusations remain in question, not that we should expect The New York Times to make note of it. 

The United States had handed Daqduq over to Baghdad in 2011 after failing to secure a custody deal ahead of the U.S. military’s [phantom] withdrawal from Iraq. Washington said it had received Baghdad’s assurances Daqduq would be prosecuted, but he was later cleared by an Iraqi court and repatriated to Lebanon. 

The US produced a long laundry list of crimes he was said to have committed and this was used to persaude the Iraqi government to turn him over to the US and face a military tribunal.

Iraq had found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict Daqduq and he was released “despite the entreaties of the Obama administration,” the Times reported in November 2012. 

As pressure mounts in Congress to have the United States officially recognize and condone the theft of Syrian territory, Israel has decided to resurrect the specter of Ali Mussa Daqduq and his connection to Hezbollah. 

Bibi’s Twitter performance will further distract from corruption charges leveled against him. It will also bolster the arguments of neocons that Iran and Hezbollah are not only a threat to Israel, but also to the national security of the United States. Both are intricately entwined. 

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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.

The Guggenheim’s strange and wonderful exhibition of Hilma af Klint’s groundbreaking, yet largely unknown body of abstract art is an important event – one that challenges us to not only rethink the early history of twentieth century abstract art, but to recognize her vision of art and reality as unique, authentic, and deliciously puzzling.

Af Klint was a formally trained and respected portrait and landscape painter in Stockholm, who as a young woman became involved in spiritualism, theosophy, as well as Rosicrucianism. By 1906, af Klint was creating abstract paintings, many years before Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian – however she kept them private, maintaining that the world was not yet ready to see her work; and in fact she requested that they not be seen for twenty years following her death. We can see the Rosicrucian influence in this decision: a guiding principle of the spiritual movement was its anticipation of a “universal reformation of mankind,” when a long hidden, secret science will finally be received by humanity.

Image result for hilma af klint

In 1906, af Klint’s art moves away from conventional representation and toward a different kind of subject matter, with an entirely new spiritual intention. The origin of this project is also quite unlike anything else – according to af Klint, spirits who she channeled in the course of regular séances spoke and commissioned these paintings. The project was driven by a metaphysical conviction and motivation – that is, to represent the numerous stages of a transcendent reality beyond the observable world.

Rosicrucian thinking is informed by Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and hermeticism. One of the fundamental doctrines that both of these teachings share is the notion of ‘as above, so below’ – in other words, whatever happens on one level of reality, also happens on every other. According to this way thinking, each human being is a microcosm of the universe into which all the potencies of creation have been placed, so that an activity below, stimulates a corresponding activity on high. This doctrine is essential for understanding what af Klint was up to: her work is not simply trying to express this teaching, but is itself meant to be seen as an embodiment of it.

When she was seventeen, af Klint’s interest in spiritualism began. Her sister died around this time, and initially her curiosity grew out of her desire to be in contact with the dead. It was not long before the desire evolved: through contact with higher spiritual entities, af Klint began seeking metaphysical insight and understanding.

During séances in 1904, spiritual guides proposed the construction of a temple that would house spiritually derived works of art. The commission for such a series of works – works created specifically for a future temple – fell to af Klint. She agreed to carry out the “Great Commission” when other members of her spiritualist group, The Five (De Fem), declined due to a concern that such a project – demanding close and sustained contact with the spirit realm – could lead to madness.

Between November and December 1907, The Ten Largest were created. They constitute nothing less than a wholly new approach to painting – something unprecedented and unique, unlike anything else that has come before. They are breathtaking in their enormous vitality: they are alive, bursting with energy and color. While they are abstract paintings, they are also doubtlessly drawing on the world for content – whether it be the forms of Swedish folk art, the kinds of representation found in scientific diagrams, or the symbols associated with various spiritual movements. All these elements and visual modes are combined and transformed in new and remarkable ways.

In af Klint’s symbolic vocabulary, blue represents the female and yellow the male. The notion that these two colors constitute an essential dichotomy was likely derived from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Theory of Colours (1810), which she was known to have kept in her library. Goethe’s book has been widely rejected and dismissed as ‘worthless still-born dilettantism’, especially for his polemic against Isaac Newton, whose Opticks demonstrated that colorless rays of light contained the power to provoke sensations of color. Goethe did not object to Newton’s view that color could be measured in terms of wavelength; rather, his error was to adopt an approach ‘that banished the spirit of living contemplation.’ Newton did not give the complete story: his theory was a part masquerading as a whole. Why does blue have the quality of blue and yellow the quality of yellow? Newton’s reductionist theory did not make colors intelligible in themselves – but instead reduced them to measurable wavelengths of colorless light.

Goethe can help us to appreciate af Klint: she takes much more from Goethe than the simple dichotomy between blue and yellow. Her work is no less a rebuke of that Newtonian universe of meaningless fragmentation; like Goethe, she proposes a sensuous and colorful world shaped by principles of order and patterning.

The Paintings for the Temple are presented in a number of groups; and just as the groups were meant to be viewed in a particular order, so too in each series the paintings were likewise to be seen in a certain progression. Few symbols are as important for af Klint as that of the spiral – which represents physical and spiritual evolution, a concept which was central not only to Darwinian thought, but to theosophy, which views evolution as a process that goes beyond biology and ultimately pervades the cosmos. The Paintings for the Temple were to be housed in a spiraling structure, not unlike the Guggenheim itself – which makes the current exhibition all more extraordinary.

Image result for hilma af klint

In 1915, af Klint completed the Painting for the Temple, a project which by the end included 193 paintings and drawings. These works break with the language of representation, they epitomize a shift away from figuration and realism (at least in any conventional sense). Looking at af Klint’s work, it is hard to escape the feeling that this artist has secrets to tell – secrets that are worth the hearing and that she is ready to share. Part of the immense pleasure is that, at the same time, she also refuses to simply give them over. She makes us work for them – she delays, sustains and prolongs.

Image result for painting for the temple hilma

The truth is that, as with any genuine art, these are works that exceed any rational reiteration. At times her great project – the otherworldly “commission” that she undertook – seems almost like a metaphysical treasure map, a kind of guide to navigating ever higher realms of reality, finally culminating in a vision of transcendent unity. But the true greatness of the work is that it eludes any such straightforward presumptions; that her paintings are finally irreducible to a diagram – though often the imagery appears to be precisely that. Even at her most metaphysical, she remains a painter through and through – and as every great painter knows, to give is to withhold, and there is no pleasure where there is nothing risked.

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Sam Ben-Meir is a professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy College in New York City. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from Guggenheim

Many myself among them have pointed to the vast hydrocarbon reserves of Venezuela as a possible driving motive behind the otherwise bizarre Washington intervention in Venezuela. The more I look into the situation, the more I suspect a quite other explanation for the intervention from a President who campaigned on a call to end US regime change interventions into other countries. The President’s NSC advisor, John Bolton openly stated it was about the oil. Could there be another reason as well? What then could it be?

Bolton also declared recently,

“In this administration, we’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine. This is a country in our hemisphere.“ 

The last President to invoke the Monroe Doctrine, something going back to 1823, was Ronald Reagan. Before Reagan, JFK did so to justify US measures against the growing influence of the Soviet Union in the region after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

The Monroe Doctrine was drafted by US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and proclaimed in the State of the Union address by President James Monroe at a point most all South American colonial nations had achieved independence from Spain or Portugal. It declared that any attempts by European powers to try to establish new colonies there would be considered by Washington as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” In effect it declared that the New World would be a separate sphere of influence from that of the colonial Old World of Europe. Notably, the immediate trigger for the 1823 declaration was a Russian Ukase of 1821 asserting rights to the Pacific Northwest and forbidding non-Russian ships from approaching the coast.

Historically the original Monroe Doctrine was largely a bluff, as the US at the time had no serious navy and relied on the British Royal Navy informally to keep other powers out. What then could be the basis of invoking the Monroe Doctrine in 2019, nearly 200 years later?

Target China?

Given the track record in brutal regime change of US operators such as Elliott Abrams and others in the present effort to oust President Maduro in favor of Assembly President Juan Guaidó as interim president, it seems something other than supporting free and fair elections is involved to put it mildly. If we look at the role of foreign governments not only in Venezuela but in the broader region as a possible US motive, what comes into focus is the potential and very significant presence of China and its economic stake in Venezuela and the entire region, one receiving little attention to date.

It’s widely known that China wants security of supplies for its oil and draws from a wide variety of countries for that from Iran to Russia, from Saudi Arabia to Angola. And from Venezuela.

China is a, in fact the major creditor to the Venezuela Maduro regime, perhaps as much as $61 billion worth of loans by some estimates. Since the Washington declarations in support of Guaido, China has been unusually outspoken in defense of Maduro, unusual for a state that claims never to involve in local politics. What is not public is what detailed agreements China has from Maduro in return for being Venezuela’s main financial supporter. Are there concessions to Venezuela’s rich untapped deposits of gold or of rare earth minerals such as Coltan?

Coltan, sometimes called “blue gold,” has been confirmed in the Amazon region of Venezuela near the border to Brazil and Guyana, of an estimated $100 billion worth. Coltan is the source for tantalum which sometimes is priced higher than gold.

Tantalum is a metal used in capacitors that store energy in modern electronics like smart phones and tablets. Tantalum capacitors are also essential in powering modern military weaponry because the metal resists corrosion and can withstand the extreme temperatures generated by the new military applications. Without it, weapons systems would overheat.

The US relies on tantalum to build the basic circuitry in guidance control systems in smart bombs, the on-board navigational systems in drones, anti-tank systems, robots and most weapons systems.

The metal is vital to US defense. Yet, it has no domestic mines to mine coltan. According to the US Geological Survey most of world tantalum from coltan today comes from Rwanda and Congo in Africa followed by Brazil, Nigeria and China. In terms of tantalum reserves, Australia is world largest and its major tantalum-coltan mine, the Bald Hill lithium-tantalum mine in Western Australia, opened in 2018 with its total output pledged to a Hong Kong company.

Gold is another huge untapped resource in Venezuela estimated at some 15,500 tons. But this alone does not explain the US intervention.

Guyana Infrastructure

If we add to China’s major Venezuela presence the fact that China also signed neighbor Guyana to its Belt, Road Initiative in 2018, it begins to take on a larger dimension than mere oil supply lines or tantalum sources. Chinese companies and money are presently building a highway link from Manaus in Northern Brazil through Guyana, giving Brazil far more efficient access to the Panama Canal, cutting thousands of miles off the shipping route. Talks are reportedly also underway for China to build a deep-water port in Guyana’s northern coast to link to China’s highway to the Brazil Amazon region bordering Venezuela, with its vast untapped mineral riches. People in Guyana say the road-port will benefit China far more than Guyana. It would enable efficient ship transport from the Amazon through the Panama Canal to China.

A recent report from the Washington CSIS think tank describes what larger design China seems to be engaged in around its Venezuela presence. Author Evan Ellis states, “In South America, a transcontinental infrastructure that includes a network of highways, train, and river routes will connect Brazil to the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Such connections will probably include train linkages across the Amazon to Peru’s northern cost, and a more southerly train route through Bolivia to southern Peru and northern Chile.”

Notable also are Chinese efforts in Panama, the central shipping crossing between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In 2016 China’s Landbridge Group bought Panama’s Margarita Island Port, the largest port, on the canal’s Atlantic side, giving the Chinese company intimate access to one of the most important goods distribution centers in the world.

With China deeply engaged in Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil as well as owning Panama’s largest port, it can well be that Washington believes that by forcing China to dramatically scale back its presence in Maduro’s Venezuela, pressure on China to scale back her global strategic agenda could markedly increase. That would add to the pressure that is coming over US sanctions on Iran, another major oil source for China. A Washington policy, undeclared, of strategic denial to China in Venezuela would fit with the remarks of John Bolton in citing the Monroe Doctrine. If so the target is not so much Maduro and his alleged dictatorship, but its growing dependence on China and China’s growing geopolitical ambitions in South America.

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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.

Featured image is from NEO


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.

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Wealth Concentration Drives a New Global Imperialism

March 14th, 2019 by Peter Phillips

Regime changes in Iraq and Libya, Syria’s war, Venezuela’s crisis, sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Russia, and North Korea are reflections of a new global imperialism imposed by a core of capitalist nations in support of trillions of dollars of concentrated investment wealth. This new world order of mass capital has become a totalitarian empire of inequality and repression.

The global 1%, comprised of over 36-million millionaires and 2,400 billionaires, employ their excess capital with investment management firms like BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase. The top seventeen of these trillion-dollar investment management firms controlled $41.1 trillion dollars in 2017. These firms are all directly invested in each other and managed by only 199 people who decide how and where global capital will be invested. Their biggest problem is they have more capital than there are safe investment opportunities, which leads to risky speculative investments, increased war spending, privatization of the public domain, and pressures to open new capital investment opportunities through political regime changes.

Power elites in support of capital investment are collectively embedded in a system of mandatory growth. Failure for capital to achieve continuing expansion leads to economic stagnation, which can result in depression, bank failures, currency collapses, and mass unemployment.  Capitalism is an economic system that inevitably adjusts itself via contractions, recessions, and depressions.

Professor Peter Phillips (right)

Power elites are  entrapped in a web of enforced growth that requires ongoing global management and the formation of new and ever expanding capital investment opportunities. This forced expansion becomes a worldwide manifest destiny that seeks total capital domination in all regions of the earth and beyond.

Sixty percent of the core 199 global power elite managers are from the US, with people from twenty capitalist nations rounding out the balance. These power elite managers and associated one percenters take active part in global policy groups and governments. They serve as advisors to the IMF, World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Bank of Settlements, Federal Reserve Board, G-7 and the G-20. Most attend the World Economic Forum. Global power elites engage actively on private international policy councils such as the Council of Thirty, Trilateral Commission, and the Atlantic Council. Many of the US global elites are members of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Business Roundtable in the US. The most important issue for these power elites is protecting capital investment, insuring debt collection, and building opportunities for further returns.

The global power elite are aware of their existence as a numerical minority in the vast sea of impoverished humanity. Roughly 80% of the world’s population lives on less than ten dollars a day and half live on less than three dollars a day. Concentrated global capital becomes the binding institutional alignment that brings transnational capitalists into a centralized global imperialism facilitated by world economic/trade institutions and protected by the US/NATO military empire. This concentration of wealth leads to a crisis of humanity, whereby poverty, war, starvation, mass alienation, media propaganda, and environmental devastation have reached levels that threaten humanity’s future.

The idea of independent self-ruling nation-states has long been held sacrosanct in traditional liberal capitalist economies. However, globalization has placed a new set of demands on capitalism that requires transnational mechanisms to support continued capital growth that is increasingly beyond the boundaries of individual states. The financial crisis of 2008 was an acknowledgement of the global system of capital under threat. These threats encourage the abandonment of nation-state rights altogether and the formation of a global imperialism that reflects new world order requirements for protecting transnational capital.

Institutions within capitalist countries including government ministries, defense forces, intelligence agencies, judiciary, universities and representative bodies, recognize to varying degrees that the overriding demands of transnational capital spill beyond the boundaries of nation-states.  The resulting worldwide reach motivates a new form of global imperialism that is evident by coalitions of core capitalist nations engaged in past and present regime change efforts via sanctions, covert actions, co-options, and war with non-cooperating nations—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Russia.

The attempted coup in Venezuela shows the alignment of transnational capital-supporting states in recognizing the elite forces that oppose Maduro’s socialist presidency. A new global imperialism is at work here, whereby Venezuela’s sovereignty is openly undermined by a capital imperial world order that seeks not just control of Venezuela’s oil, but a full opportunity for widespread investments through a new regime.

The widespread corporate media negation of the democratically elected president of Venezuela demonstrates that thesemedia are owned and controlled by ideologists for the global power elite. Corporate media today is highly concentrated and fully international. Their primary goal is the promotion of product sales and pro-capitalist propaganda through the psychological control of human desires, emotions, beliefs, fears, and values. Corporate media does this by manipulating feelings and cognitions of human beings worldwide, and by promoting entertainment as a distraction to global inequality.

Recognizing global imperialism as a manifestation of concentrated wealth, managed by a few hundred people, is of utmost importance for democratic humanitarian activists.  We must stand on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and challenge global imperialism and its fascist governments, media propaganda, and empire armies.

 

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Peter Phillips is a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University. Giants: The Global Power Elite, 2018,  is his 18th book from Seven Stories Press.He teaches courses in Political Sociology, Sociology of Power, Sociology of Media, Sociology of Conspiracies and Investigative Sociology. He served as director of Project Censored from 1996 to 2010 and as president of Media Freedom Foundation from 2003 to 2017.

He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

Featured image is from Images.com/Corbis


Giants: The Global Power Elite

Author: Peter Phillips

Publisher: Seven Stories Press (August 21, 2018)

ISBN-10: 1609808711

ISBN-13: 978-1609808716

Click here to order.

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Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb

March 14th, 2019 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

This week Trump released his latest budget for 2019-20 fiscal year. It calls for $2.7 trillion in various social spending cuts over the decade, including $872 billion in reductions in Medicare, Social Security, Disability spending; another $327 billion in food stamps, housing support, and Medicaid; a further $200 billion in student loan cuts; and hundreds of billions more in cuts to education, government workers’ pensions, and funds to operate the EPA and other government agencies.

Not surprising, the $2.7 trillion in social program spending cuts will finance spending for the military and defense related programs like Homeland Security, Border walls, veterans, police, and programs like school vouchers.

Of course, the budget proposal is ‘dead on arrival’ with the US House of Representatives, which must approve all spending bills, according to the US Constitution.  But don’t hold your breath. Trump may now have a back door to this Constitutional obstacle and eventually get his way on the budget, at least in part, to fund his military spending plans.

Trump’s National Emergency ‘Workaround’ & the Budget

It should not be forgotten, Trump just enacted his ‘national emergency ’ to build his Mexico border wall by diverting funds, without Congressional approval, from other sources in the US budget—i.e. a clear violation of the US Constitution.  That ‘national emergency declaration’ will almost surely be approved by his current stacked US Supreme Court before the end of Trump’s first term.  When approved, the precedent will allow Trump to repeat the action, perhaps on an even larger scale. So what’s to stop him from using the same national emergency precedent to shift other funds in the future from social programs to the military and defense, as he clearly proposes in this latest budget?

Some liberals and Democrats may declare he can never do that. But they said the same about his national emergency declaration to fund his wall, and he declared it anyway. He will continue to subvert and destroy long-standing rules and even Constitutional norms within the government.  The national emergency declaration about funding his wall gave him his foot in the door. Will the Supreme Court eventually allow him to kick it open now in the future?  One shouldn’t be too surprised with this President, who has little concern or respect for Democratic rights and institutions.

We now have a precedent in the national emergency declaration. So what’s to stop him from shifting even more funds from social programs to war, defense and the military? In other words, to spend a good part of his proposed additional $2.7 trillion for the Pentagon, and to simply divert the funds from Medicare, Social Security, Education, etc.? The Democrat Party majority’s control of the US House of Representatives’ may refuse to pass legislation to approve Trump’s $2.7 trillion budget shift to the military and defense. But the precedent now exists allowing him to do it. Trump is intent on getting what he wants, to pander to his right wing base, and get himself re-elected. He cares little for Democratic norms or civil liberties. Don’t underestimate his willingness to shred those liberties and subvert those norms.

As worrisome as the politics of the US budget process going forward may yet prove to be, however, the economics of Trump’s 2019-20 budget are more serious. It represents a trend that will continue whether or not the budget is passed, either in the short or the longer term by national emergency declaration.

The $34 Trillion National Debt  

Whether Trump’s budget is passed or not, his fiscal policy (taxation and spending) already represents a faster escalation of US deficits and therefore Debt.

During Trump’s first two years in office, US federal government deficits have driven the national debt up already by $3 trillion:  At the end of 2016, when Trump entered office, the US national debt was $19.5 trillion. Today it is $22.5 trillion. He’s thus already added $3 trillion, a faster rate per year of debt accumulation than under even his predecessors, George Bush and Barack Obama.

The Treasury Advisory Committee, a long standing committee of private experts who regularly provide advice to the US Treasury, recently warned the US Treasury that it will have to sell $12 trillion more US Treasury bonds, bills and notes, over the next decade if the US is to fund the $1 trillion plus deficits every year that now coming over the next decade, 2018-2028.

That’s $12 trillion on top of the current $22.5 trillion national debt!  That’s a $34 trillion national debt by 2028!  According to the Congressional Budget Office research, that $34 trillion national debt will translate into no less than $900 billion a year just in interest payments on the debt by 2028—a roughly tripling of interest payments that will have to come out of future US budgets as well, in addition to escalating tax cuts and war-defense spending.

How will the US government pay for such escalating interest—as it continues to cut taxes for business, investors and the wealthy while continuing to accelerate war and defense spending?

20 Years of Accelerating National Deficits & Debt 

The US government’s growing Deficit-Debt problem did not begin with Trump, however. He just represents the further acceleration of the Deficit-Debt crisis.

Trump’s escalating deficits and debt are driven by two main causes: tax cutting and defense-war spending increases.  But this is just a continuation of the same under Bush-Obama.

Studies show tax revenue shortfall accounts for at least 60% of US deficits. Another 20% is due to escalating defense spending, especially the ‘off budget’, so called ‘Overseas Contingency Operations’ (OCO) budget expenditures that go for direct war spending. The OCO is in addition to the Pentagon’s official budget, now to rise to $750 billion under Trump’s latest budget proposal.

The US actual defense budget, therefore, includes the $750 billion Pentagon bill, plus the OCO direct war spending.  Total defense-war spending also includes additional ‘defense’ spending for Homeland Security and for the CIA’s, NSA’s, and US State Department’s growing covert military spending for their ‘private’ armies and use of special forces. It further includes spending for Veterans benefits and military pensions, and for the costs of fuel used by the military which is indicated in the US Energy Dept. budget not the Pentagon’s. Add still more ‘defense’ spending on nuclear arms billed to the Atomic Energy Agency’s budget.  And let’s not forget the $50-$75 billion a year in the US ‘black budget’ that fund’s future secret military arms and technology, which never appears in print anywhere in the official US budget document and which only a handful of Congressional leaders in both the Republican and Democrat parties are privy to know.

In short, the US ‘defense’ budget is well over $1 trillion a year and is rising by hundreds of billions a year more under Trump.

US wars in the Middle East alone since 2001 have cost the US at minimum $6 trillion, according to various estimates. But contributing even more than wars to the now runaway national deficits and debt is the chronic and accelerating tax cutting that has been going on since 2001 under both Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses alike—roughly 80% of which has gone to business, investors, and the wealthiest 1% households.

The Bush-Obama $14 Trillion Deficit-Debt Escalation 

When George Bush took office in 2001 the national debt was $5.6 trillion. When he left it was approximately $10 trillion. A doubling. When Obama left office in 2016 it had risen to $19.6 trillion. Another doubling. (Under Trump’s first two years it has risen another $3 trillion). For a US national debt of $22.5 trillion today.

Under George W. Bush’s 8 years in office, the tax cutting amounted to more than $4 trillion. Defense and war spending accelerated by several trillions as well.  The middle east wars represent the first time in US history that the US cut taxes while raising war spending. In all previous wars, taxation was raised to help pay for war spending. Not anymore.

Obama cut another $300 billion in taxes in 2009 as part of his initial 2009 economic recovery program. He then extended the Bush tax cuts, scheduled to expire in 2010, for two more years in 2011-12—at a cost of another $900 billion.  He further proposed, and Congress passed, an additional $806 billion in tax cuts for business as the US economic recovery faltered in 2010. Obama then struck a deal with Republicans in January 2013 to extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001-08 for another entire decade—costing a further $2 trillion during Obama’s second term in office (and $5 trillion over the next ten years, 2013-2023).  Thus $2 trillion of that further $5 trillion was paid out on Obama’s watch from 2013-16 as part of the 2013 ‘Fiscal Cliff’ deal he agreed to with the Republicans.

So both Bush and Obama cut taxes by approximately $4 trillion each, for $8 trillion total. And defense-war spending long term costs rose by $6 trillion under both.

Trump’s Deficit-Debt Contribution 2017-18

When added up, Bush-Obama 2001-2016 combined $6 trillion in war-defense spending hikes, plus their accumulated $8 trillion in tax cutting, roughly accounts for the US federal deficit-debt increase of $14 trillion, i.e. from $5.6 trillion in national debt in 2000 to $19.5 trillion by the end of 2016.

To this Trump has since added another $3 trillion during his first two years in office, which adds up to the current $22.5 trillion US national debt.

Here’s how Trump has added the $3 trillion more in just two years:

In January 2018 the Trump tax cut provided a $4.5 trillion windfall tax reduction over the next decade, 2018-2028, targeting businesses, multinational corporations, wealthy households, and investors. US multinational corporations alone were allocated nearly half of that $4.5 trillion.

So where did the 2018 Trump (and continuing Bush-Obama tax cuts) go? Several bank research departments in 2018 estimate that in 2018 alone, the first year of Trump’s tax cuts, that the S&P 500 largest corporate profits were boosted by no less than 22% due to the tax cuts.  Total S&P 500 profits rose 27% in 2018. So Trump’s tax cuts provided the biggest boost to their bottom line.

Not surprising, with $1.3 trillion in corporate stock buybacks and dividend payouts occurring in 2018 as well, US stock markets continued to rise and shrug off corrections in February and November that otherwise would have brought the stock market boom to an end.

But starting this year, 2019, the middle class will begin paying for those corporate-wealthy reductions. Already tax refunds for the average household are down 17%, according to reports. The middle class will pay $1.5 trillion in higher taxes by 2028, as the tax hike bite starts in earnest by 2022.

Another $1.5 trillion in absurd assumptions by the Trump administration about US economic growth over the next decade supposedly reduces the Trump’s $4.5 trillion of tax cuts for the rich and their corporations by another $1.5 trillion. Thus we get the official reported cost of only $1.5 trillion for the 2018 Trump tax cuts. But the official, reported ‘only’ $1.5 trillion cost of Trump’s 2018 tax cuts is the ‘spin and cover-up’. Corporate America, investors and the wealthy 1% actually get $4.5 trillion, while the rest of us pay $1.5 trillion starting, now in 2019, and Trump spins the absurd economic growth estimations over the next decade.

The 2018 Trump tax cuts have reduced US government revenues by about $500 billion in 2018. Add another $.5 trillion per year in Bush-Obama era tax cuts carrying over for 2017-18, another $.4 trillion in Trump war and other spending hikes during his first two years and more than $.6 trillion in interest payments on the debt—and the total is a further $3 trillion added to the national debt during Trump’s first two years.

So Bush-Obama add $14 trillion to the $5.6 trillion debt in 2000. And Trump adds another $3 trillion so far. There’s the $17 trillion addition to the $5.6 trillion national debt.[1]

And now, according to the Treasury Advisory Committee, we can expect a further $12 trillion in debt to be added to the national debt over the coming decade—to give us the $34 trillion and $900 billion a year just in interest charges on that debt!

Total US Debt: 2019 

But it gets worse than another $12 trillion. Today’s $22.5 trillion, rising to $34 trillion, is just the US national government debt. Total US debt includes state and local government debt, household debt, corporate bond and business commercial & industrial loan debt, central bank balance sheet debt, and government agencies (GSEs) debt.

Screenshot from the US National Debt Clock: Real Time (as of March 14, 01:50 UTC)

Household debt is now $13.5 trillion and rising rapidly for student loans, auto loans, credit cards and other installment loans.  In 2018, State and Local government debt was $3.16 trillion and rising as well. Corporate bond debt today  is more than $9 trillion—two thirds of which is considered ‘junk’ and low quality BBB investment grade bonds, much of which is likely to default in the next recession. To this must be added other forms of business loan debt, commercial paper, and the like.  The Federal Reserve bank’s balance sheet is also a form of debt, which is $4 trillion and, according to the Fed recently, will not be reduced further. Other government housing agencies, like Fannie Mae, add hundreds of billions more in US debt. All these account for more than an additional $30 trillion in US debt.

Add these other forms of debt to the national debt of $22.5 trillion and the total debt in the US rises easily to around $53 trillion. And add the further $12 trillion additional national debt on the horizon and further increases in other forms of debt, and the total US debt may easily exceed $70 trillion by 2028. The $900 billion a year in interest charges assumed by the CBO may thus be actually too low an estimate.

Who Pays the Debt and to Whom?

To whom do the various interest payments on debt accrue? To the wealthy and their corporations who buy the US and corporate bonds and who issue the credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages; to their banks that offload their debt to the Federal Reserve central bank during financial crises and recessions; to wealthy investors who buy government and agency bonds; to wealthy shareholders who have been getting $1 trillion a year since 2009 in dividends payouts and capital gains from stock buybacks made possible in large part by corporate bond raisings; and to wealthy households and corporations that get the tax cuts that drive the deficit and debt.

Their ‘interest income’ is projected to continue to accelerate over the next decade, thus further exacerbating income inequality trends now plaguing the US and getting worse.

Policies accelerating debt-based income transfer since 2001 have been expanding and deepening since 2000, across both Republican and Democrat regimes, from Bush through Obama, now accelerating even faster under Trump.

For consumer and household debt, clearly the working class-middle class pays most of the interest on the debt—via mortgage, auto, student and credit cards, rising state and local taxation, more federal taxation paying for the Trump tax cuts, etc.  The federal government—and thus the taxpayer–pay the interest on the government bond debt.  The creditors and owners of the debt reap the benefits, now in the trillions of dollars annually.

The Trump budget proposes to pay for the US government’s share of the total debt, by transferring the cost of financing military-defense spending and tax cutting—which creates more deficit and debt—to those households who aren’t investors and business owners. But whether Trump gets his budget approved or not is irrelevant. The deficits and debt will continue to accelerate nonetheless.

And if he does get to shift some of the cost via extending his national emergency rule to the US spending in general, not just his wall, the economic consequences will of course even be worse.

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 This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Jack Rasmus.

Jack Rasmus is author of the forthcoming book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, forthcoming summer 2019, and ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and hosts the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com and tweets at @drjackrasmus. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note

[1] Conservatives argue that this excludes rising social program spending debt, like social security and medicare. But those programs are not financed out of the US budget (with the exception of the prescription drugs program for seniors). They have their own tax base, the payroll tax.  What about the 2008-09 bailout? The banks were bailed out by the Federal Reserve not Congress. And the costs of social program spending hikes after 2008-2011, were offset by a $1.5 trillion cut in social spending that started in August 2011—which exempted effectively cuts in defense spending thereafter.

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“With the possible exception of the Civil War, no event in U.S. history has demanded more soul-searching than the war in Vietnam. The false pre-texts used to justify our intervention, the indiscriminate brutality of our warfare, the stubborn refusal of elected leaders to withdraw despite public opposition, and the stunning failure to achieve our stated objectives – these harrowing realities provoked a profound national identity crisis, an American reckoning.”  – Christian Appy [1]

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

A conflict with its roots in efforts to assist France in reclaiming a former colony, U.S. Forces had been providing financial and military assistance to South Vietnam in the temporarily partitioned country since the early ‘50s. [2]

The war saw a major turning point however when in the summer of 1964, news spread of an attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats against two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. The incident, now known to have never happened, was used to justify the so-called Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized a major escalation of the war. [3]

That escalation included the dispatching of 3500 U.S. Marines to South Vietnam on March 8, 1965. The Global Research News Hour marks the anniversary of this start to America’s ground war in Vietnam with four informative interviews.

In the first half hour, analyst Peter Dale Scott introduces the motivations of the U.S. Security State and the U.S. Deep State in promoting the war, the connections between the escalation and President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and the motivation on the part of his successor Lyndon Johnson in launching the land assault. Later we hear from Abayomi Azikiwe about the solidarity between Black liberation and Vietnamese resistance groups and its importance in fostering U.S. opposition to the war.

Barrie Zwicker discusses the media establishment’s treatment of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the war generally. Finally Professor Michel Chossudovsky elaborates on the theme of a 1995 article he wrote which explains the impoverishment of Vietanam and it integration of Vietnam into the capitalist cheap labour economy in recent decades in spite of the anti-U.S. resistance emerging victorious in 1975.

Professor Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, a poet, writer, and researcher. He is the author of Drugs Oil and WarThe Road to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War, and The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy. His website is www.peterdalescott.net.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire, and has made guest appearances on Press TV, RT, Al Jazeera, China Global Television Network, BBC, NPR, and Radio Netherlands among others. He is also a frequent contributor to globalresearch.

Barrie Zwicker is a journalist and media critic whose work spans 7 decades, including a seven year stint as staff writer for the Globe and Mail during the 1960s. He also wrote for the Toronto Star, Vancouver Province, Sudbury Star, Detroit News, and Lansing State Journal. He taught the Media and Society course at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto as a part-time professor for seven years, and worked as a media critic for the national broadcaster VisionTV from 1998 to 2003. He is the author of the 2006 book, Towers of deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is Professor(emeritus) of Economics at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research On Globalization, and Editor of Global Research. He has authored numerous scholarly articles and eleven books including The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005), and The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity (2015).

(Global Research News Hour Episode 251)

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . Excerpts of the show have begun airing on Rabble Radio and appear as podcasts at rabble.ca.

The Global Research News Hour now airs Fridays at 6pm PST, 8pm CST and 9pm EST on Alternative Current Radio (alternativecurrentradio.com)

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

RIOT RADIO, the visual radio station based out of Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario has begun airing the Global Research News Hour on an occasional basis. Tune in at dcstudentsinc.ca/services/riot-radio/

Radio Fanshawe: Fanshawe’s 106.9 The X (CIXX-FM) out of London, Ontario airs the Global Research News Hour Sundays at 6am with an encore at 4pm.

Los Angeles, California based Thepowerofvoices.com airs the Global Research News Hour every Monday from 6-7pm Pacific time. 

Notes:

  1. Christian Appy (2015), American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (p. x), published by Viking Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
  2. https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-timeline
  3. https://www.britannica.com/event/Gulf-of-Tonkin-Resolution

Imperialism on Trial. Conference Event

March 13th, 2019 by Global Research News

While Donald Trump may have popularised the term ‘Fake News’, journalists, academics and activists, have been calling out the establishment media in their promotion of imperialism, for many years before he ever threw his hat in the ring, politically.

 Nine peace activists will be speaking at the ‘Imperialism on Trial’ events in Belfast and Derry, later this month.

 Some of the topics that will be covered at the event will include:

.

  • ‘Russiagate’- allegations of Russian meddling, hacking and collusion with Trump
  • False narrative on the war on Syria
  • The Magnitsky Act
  • Iran, Saudi Arabia, and what’s not been reported on Yemen
  • Venezuela
  • The Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes)
  • Media and  false consciousness
These two events will be livestreamed by the RT.
The primary focus of the event in Belfast is the State, and the role of it’s various agencies; while for the Derry event, the establishment media, it’s propaganda and lies, and war on journalism will be scrutinised.b
Tuesday, March 19
Balmoral Hotel
Belfast
7:30-11:00pm
(Doors open at 7pm)
 b
The issue of US sanctions, and imperialist wars and regime changes, from the former Yugoslavia to the Middle-east to now, Venezuela, will feature in depth throughout the night.
b
The speakers are:
Danny Morrison, Former Sinn Fein Director of Publicity
Craig Murray, Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain
Ray McGovern, Former CIA Analyst
Michael Pike, Former British Soldier, Veterans For Peace (VFP)
Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire
Guildhall
Derry
7:30-11:00pm
(Doors open at 7pm)
bbb
 
The speakers are:
b
Craig Murray, Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Ray McGovern, Former CIA Analyst
Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire
Catherine Shakdam, Writer & Commentator
John Wight, Journalist
Plus another speaker TBC
Imperialism on Trial is a theme for events that bring together an array of speakers from the world of politics, academia, journalism, former diplomats, former intelligence officers, and clergy to offer their insights and expertise on the subject of imperialism and neoliberalism.
All speakers are driven by a profound and sincere desire for an end to these endless wars of aggression, and regime changes. We all want peace, diplomacy, and good international relations to replace what has become the norm for the hegemon – the US and it’s vassal states- of coercive diplomacy, sanctions, threats of war, hot wars, cold wars and proxy wars.
 b
Tickets for either event are £5 online with EVENTBRITE, Imperialism on Trial.
OR £5 at the door.
Both events are being livestreamed by RT UK Facebook page
Tuesday March 19 at 7.15pm GMT
Thursday March 21 at 7.15pm GMT
 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Imperialism on Trial – About Us
b
Gregory Sharkey:
bb 
“Imperialism on Trial is a theme for events that I organise and host. These events bring together an array of speakers from the world of politics, academia, journalism, former diplomats and clergy to offer their insights and expertise on the subject of imperialism and neoliberalism.
 
We provide a platform where an alternative perspective and analysis is presented to the audience and on-line viewers, which challenges the mainstream narrative.
 
All speakers are driven by a profound and sincere desire for an end to these endless wars of aggression, and regime changes. We all want peace, diplomacy, and good international relations to replace what has become the norm for the hegemon – the US and it’s vassal states- of coercive diplomacy, sanctions, threats of war, hot wars, cold wars and proxy wars.
 
We welcome an alternative to the unipolar vision advanced by the neoliberal and imperialist elites; and embrace a world which has multi spheres of influence, where no one country, or group of countries dominate others.
 
We believe that trade and international relations should be based on parity, and not coercion and subservience. We espouse the rights for countries to have national sovereignty and self-determination, and to not live in fear of war or economic hardship from sanctions.
We are anti-imperialists, and don’t pick favourites. We don’t victim-blame. A victim of imperialism is a victim. No person, no country, no leader is perfect. It is not the role of the West, or any nation to impose its will on another sovereign nation.”

The People’s Climate Movement. No Mention of War

March 13th, 2019 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

While millions of people across the World will be protesting on March 15 under the banner of “Global Warming”, today’s wars including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela are not mentioned.

Nor are the dangers of a Third World War which threatens the future of humanity.

Global warming overshadows the dangers of nuclear war. According to media reports, Trump’s $1.2 trillion nuclear weapons program “Makes the World safer”. 

 

On March 15, tens of thousands of children in 71 countries will skip school in support of what is described as “one of the biggest environmental protests in history.”

While Jobs and Justice are part of the campaign alongside climate, the issue of poverty and Worldwide unemployment resulting from the imposition of neoliberal reforms is sidetracked.

Mid-March 2019: There are ongoing military threats against Venezuela and Iran.

Is a US sponsored war contemplated for March 2019?

Is this a matter of concern which should be the object of a Worldwide protest movement?

The cyber-attack on Venezuela’s Electric grid affecting up to 80% of the country constitutes a de facto act of war.

On March 10, Washington confirmed its intent to carry out regime change in Venezuela. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the US Congress to appropriate half a billion dollars “to restore the economy of the Venezuelan nation (sic) (and) help Juan Guaido.” This statement should be interpreted as a de facto “declaration of war”.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had previously confirmed their intent to wage war on Iran.

Unfortunately, these war plans seem to have been overshadowed by a highly publicized campaign against global warming.

While Climate, Jobs and Justice are mentioned, the Word “Peace” is casually omitted.

It is not too late to rectify: SAY NO TO WAR on March 15

Our proposal is that on March 15, this Worldwide environmental campaign embody alongside the issues of climate, a firm commitment against US-led wars and neoliberal policies which contribute to impoverishing people Worldwide.

Also, the People’s Climate Movement should take a stance against the deployment of the police apparatus against those who demand jobs and justice including the Yellow Vest movement.

Needless to say, the environmental impacts of US-NATO led wars should also be addressed.

While Climate Change is a legitimate concern, why are these protest movements limited to global warming?  The answer is that many of the key organizations involved are generously funded by Wall Street foundations and corporate charities, including the Rockefellers, Tides, Soros., et al.

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When will the leadership at social media platform Facebook get it? When will they understand the scale of damage being done with its insidious and pernicious system of systematically promoting division, distrust and disharmony through the slow-burn destruction of democratic principles?

It is simply not a good enough defence to say that as a private company they can do anything they like as long as they don’t break the law.

Just last week, Facebook was exposed yet again accepting political ‘dark money’ to promote a hard Brexit. An Observer investigation found that the single biggest known British political advertiser on Facebook is a mysterious pro-Brexit campaign group pushing for a no-deal exit from the EU. Two weeks before, the same happened – more dark money poured into political campaigning for a hard-Brexit. Again, more being spent than all known campaigning groups combined.

The influence of “dark money” in British politics has been unearthed through relentless and tenacious investigative journalism, not by the police or other state agencies. No-one has yet been arrested, even after the evidence has mounted. The police, National Crime Agency and Electoral Commission are all forcibly involved and other than a few paltry fines have dragged their feet. By the time anything happens, a terrible Brexit deal will be done or Britain will go over its self-imposed cliff.

In last week’s exposure, a little-known campaign group, with almost no public exposure, no public following to speak of and publishes no information about itself, has spent more than £340,000 on Facebook adverts backing a hard Brexit – making it a bigger spender than every UK political party and the government combined. For clarity, this type of money gets you tens of millions of adverts pushed to specific groups of people.

As editor of TruePublica, I published a story about Brexit and added a paragraph about a book we are promoting – Brexit – A Corporate Coup D’Etat. That paragraph included a link to the publishers. That was enough for Facebook to email me and demand A) payment to promote the article and B) that I provide passport and proof of address – because this was clearly a “political advert sensitive to the national interest.”

And yet – SCL Elections/Cambridge Analytica had the full force of Facebook’s database to pump billions of targeted micro-ads to swing voters during the EU referendum and during a period where it was illegal to do so. That acceptance of ‘dark money’ and the organisations and individuals involved was exposed and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg summoned to appear before the British political system. He simply refused to answer any questions.

In the Observer’s article of last week, it was obvious what is going on.

The sophisticated campaign includes thousands of individual pro-Brexit adverts, targeted at voters in the constituencies of selected MPs. The adverts urge voters to email their local representative and create the impression of a grassroots uprising for a no-deal Brexit. The MPs then receive emails, signed by a “concerned constituent”, demanding a hard Brexit. The emails do not mention the involvement of an organised campaign group.”

In the meantime, Sky News has just published its own investigative findings on the same subject. Its headline is: “Fake, foreign and far-right: Dodgy accounts uncovered pushing Brexit agenda on social media.” The entire article is about research that confirms how political extremists outside of the UK have been amplifying online pro-Leave views on Brexit. Unsurprisingly, it mentions America a few times.

Tell me if this deception is right and proper given Britain’s delicate situation?

The problem is that no law is being broken by this type of campaigning. It is quite legal for any individual or campaign group to promote political material without declaring where the funds come from as long as it is outside a defined election period.

However, this moment, the Brexit moment, is Britain’s biggest political moment – and much of what is happening is due to perception. This must be true or no-one would bother spending vast sums of money on it in such a way – and then going to great lengths disguising where it comes from. It can’t be ethical, professional or moral can it and probably not legal – not if you’re hiding in the shadows.

And who is funding this campaign? Don’t we have a right to know? Doesn’t the government want to know if it might be arch nemesis Putin and his white cat, mad missile Kim Wrong’Un or even worse, the most bigly orange estate agent sat in the roundest of rooms in Washington DC?

Does anyone really believe that our misguided, out of control, domestic surveillance agency, MI5 knows nothing of this attack against Britain’s democracy? Is that not what they are for in the first place – to ensure that the dark forces operating under the radar are not usurping the establishment?

Does this look right to you?

Theresa May is part of the establishment. She headed up the Home Office. She has twice been accused of serious Brexit cover-ups. That’s the Prime Minister of Britain – accused of cover-ups. In any previous government in British history, May would have resigned by now. Even Cameron, the worst PM since god decided seven days was enough work to create an entire world full of wonderful and equally rubbish things resigned.

One coverup was the accusation that she blocked an investigation into Brexit bankroller Arron Banks in the run-up to the 2016 referendum. He’s since under investigation by the National Crime Agency. This only happened because of journalism, not the government or police action.

In the aforementioned book, you know the one that’s been censored by FB, there is a chapter dedicated to another coverup by Theresa May.

However, it was not until after the EU referendum, that the Home Office under Theresa May was found to have held back a number of other government generated reports that detailed the positive impacts immigration has had upon Britain in recent decades. Vince Cable commented on what can only be described as vitally important information suppression (censorship) by the government stating that:

“When I was Business Secretary there were up to nine studies that we looked at that took in all the academic evidence. It showed that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment. But this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May because the results were inconvenient. I remember it vividly.”

The book (that unearths some amazing facts) quoted another report that said:

Theresa May faced accusations from within the government that she tried to remove evidence. Correspondence seen by the Guardian laid bare a six-month tussle between Conservative and Liberal Democrat advisers, which was part of a government-wide exercise into the pros and cons of EU membership. Emails dating back to 2014 show Lib Dem advisers, who were then in government as part of the coalition, complaining repeatedly about Theresa May’s deliberate interventions.”

In the book (you should buy one, it’s only £2.99), another little fact is unearthed. It is a fact, that almost everyone would not just understand but would support.

“The report also detailed numerous ways in which Britain could easily reduce the overall number of EU nationals coming to work in the UK if it had wanted, including implementing a two-year residency restriction for unskilled workers and further restrictions on bringing family members over.

“A lot of the pro-free-movement evidence has been removed,” complained one adviser, citing a UCL report This was, if anything, a disgraceful cover-up by the government.”

Actually, it was yet another report stifled and shoved under the carpet during the EU referendum debate by none other than – Theresa May.

At what point do we really think she campaigned to Remain – because let’s be fair – other than the odd low profile speech, she didn’t.

Interestingly, pro-EU campaigners believe Theresa May made it harder for David Cameron to argue for Britain’s continued membership in the EU as a direct result. David Cameron’s former director of communications, Craig Oliver, also accused the Home Secretary of repeatedly failing to throw her weight behind the campaign to keep Britain in the EU. I wonder why?

Last November, Theresa May was again accused of being at the heart of another coverup by blocking publication of the full legal advice behind her Brexit deal. That is hardly democracy is it? May has persistently proceeded to Brexit failure at every stage – even though she has been warned with specific legal counsel.

Theresa May’s government has been found to be in contempt of parliament – a first. And she was handed the most overwhelming defeat in British political history – another first. All this alongside the coverups, the lying and threats.

In the meantime, why has the ultra-hard-right ERG group of Brexiteers, described as one of the most ‘powerful forces in British politics‘, funded by British taxpayers been given anonymity for so long?

That additional dodgy cash it gets from dodgy foreign donors called ‘dark money’ might have something to do with it, is nothing less than a scandal. Think about that for a minute. The ERG are hiding their member’s identities and where the money comes from whilst being at the very heart of not just government but Brexit. That doesn’t just smell a bit does it – it wreaks.

As Ian Dunt at politics.co.uk put it last week when commenting about Theresa May and her government –

The shame is gone. And that permeates all the way down the system, from the ceaseless lies told by MPs to the limitless cash ministers waste. Organisations take on the character of those at the top. We have Theresa May, so shamelessness, ignorance and inadequacy have now tricked down to every part of the governing structure.

You’d think May had some sort of undercover protection team ensuring that no matter how bad the defeat, no matter how much she breaks ethical, moral or parliamentary rules, no matter how many lies or threats she issues – she will stand until the deal is done and then, just like David Cameron, disappear into the night.

If it doesn’t look, feel or sound right – guess what.

Frankly, It stinks.

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The US will most likely misportray Russia as an “aggressor” in order to intentionally destabilize the EU and thus make it more compliant to America’s hegemonic demands

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There shouldn’t be any doubt that Russia will respond in a tit-for-tat fashion to the US’ possible deployment of previously banned short- and -intermediate missiles anywhere in the world and especially in Europe after President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov all literally said as in several statements over the past couple of weeks.

Russia reserves its legitimate right to do so in order to maintain strategic parity between it and the US and therefore reinforce global stability in an increasingly chaotic world, but it’s also walking into an unavoidable infowar trap by doing this. There isn’t any alternative to Russia’s tit-for-tat response otherwise it risks undermining its own national security interests, though its defensive reaction will almost certainly be reframed by the US as an “aggressive” one as Washington incessantly continues its anti-Russian fearmongering campaign in the EU.

It’s not Russia that wants to return Europe to being conceptualized as a conventional battleground in the New Cold War just like it was in the old one, but the US, though it’s unlikely that America actually intends to make it one but is instead seeking to exploit this sentiment for its own self-interested hegemonic reasons.

Pushing the narrative of “Russian aggression” and pointing to “proof” of Moscow’s deployment of short- and -intermediate range missiles (conveniently leaving out the tit-for-tat part) could allow Trump to squeeze his country’s NATO allies for even more funding than ever before, as well as advance his administration’s “cost plus 50” plan to have every country hosting American troops pay the base cost of doing so plus an additional 50% premium. In parallel, the US’ military-industrial complex can also pressure its partners to purchase more American weapons on this pretext, which could create jobs that Trump could promote as part of his re-election campaign.

Nevertheless, the end effect would be the same, and that’s to accelerate the militarization of the Eurasian Rimland with a specific emphasis on the European part that most directly concerns Russia’s strategic security. The point in doing so is to compel Russia to compete in a new interconnected arms and space race and spend the requisite funds to “keep pace” with American-led developments in this sphere, which could combine with the existing and proposed sanctions regimes against the country to deprive the government of some of the financial resources that it allocated to President Putin’s “Great Society” socio-economic development program.

The end goal is to shape the perceptions of average Russian citizens and influence their electoral behavior ahead of the country’s inevitable political transition at the end of President Putin’s fourth and final term in office in 2024, hoping that this can eventually be weaponized to strategically advantageous ends for America.

That’s the plan, at least, but it’s far from foolproof and has a credible chance of failing to accomplish all of what it sets out to do. For starters, Russian decision makers are confident in the knowledge that their world-class hypersonic missiles are more than adequate to ensure the long-term security of the country and that there’s no need to redirect funds away from the “Great Society” and back into the military-industrial complex. This makes a new arms and space race between it and the US more of a political fantasy than anything, albeit one that unaware civilians could easily be convinced into believing.

As such, it’s absolutely integral that the Russian state harnesses its domestic and international information capabilities to convey this truth to their intended audiences, doing what must be needed to debunk the false notion that Russia would be responding “aggressively” through its tit-for-tat policy and reassuring everyone that it doesn’t intend to participate in an arms and space race.

To be sure, Russia is already trying to do that and has succeeded on the home front, but the odds of success are stacked against it abroad. The EU is increasingly suppressing Russia’s publicly funded international media platforms and private Alt-Media ones alike that share statements by Russian representatives to the aforementioned effect, leading to a situation where the European public is unlikely to directly hear Russia’s position on these important issues without it being manipulatively distorted by their anti-Russian Mainstream Medias.

As for the decision-making element of Russia’s targeted audience, most European leaders are unable to resist the US’ Hybrid War pressure upon them and will probably go along with America’s plans whether they want to or not, especially if Trump weaponizes economic instruments against them such as unrelated secondary sanctions pertaining to Iran and Venezuela for instance in order to get them to strategically submit.

Having said that, it can’t be discounted that the US’ hegemonic demands will partially backfire if some independently minded leaders like Germany’s publicly speak out against this in defense of their own objective national interests, basing their opposition on the need to avoid a costly and dangerous return to the Old Cold War’s conventional threats in Europe and not risk worsening already strained relations with Russia that could otherwise be improved to the economic advantage of average citizens.

Given its hefty economic sway, bloc-wide leadership, and hosting of so many US troops, Germany is the only country that can conceivably set the precedent for this to happen and encourage others to follow in its path, but it’ll probably have no effect on Three Seas leader Poland who will try to position itself as the “New Germany” vis-à-vis its rising military-strategic importance to the US. Even so, as long as Russia avoids being dragged into a new arms and space race, then America will be deprived of its sought-after “victory”.

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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 is from InfoRos

What happened to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was troubling. On the one hand, because she dared to challenge the way supporters of Israel have worked to silence debate on US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she became a victim of incitement, and the target of legislation meant to shame her. At the same time, however, the heavy-handed tactics employed against her by some pro-Israel members of Congress backfired, exposing new fault lines in the US-Israel relationship.

The weapon of choice utilized by Omar’s opponents was to demonize her as an anti-Semite. Her “sin,” it appears, was her continued umbrage over the double-standard that exists in American policy toward Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

During Israel’s assault on Gaza, for example, she criticized the failure of the US media to pierce through Israeli propaganda and see what was actually happening to Palestinians in that impoverished strip of land. Once in Congress, she was deemed to have “sinned” again when she challenged the power of AIPAC to intimidate politicians and silence debate on Israel/Palestine.

New to Washington and the “acceptable language” one should use to discuss these issues, she admitted that her word choices had been unfortunate and apologized for the pain she may have caused.

Despite her apology, she remained a target. Because she is a hijab-wearing Muslim, who was critical of Israel, the GOP sought to exploit her in their continuing effort to drive a wedge between the Jewish community and Democrats. For their part, some Democrats reacted with hyperventilated outrage. Extreme language was used to denounce Omar. Her words were described as “bigoted,” “vile,” and, of course, “anti-Semitic slurs.”

Never, in all this time, was there a critical examination of what she actually said. In fact, she never accused the Jewish community of controlling the media (unless one assumes that Israel’s ability to dominate media coverage of events occurring in the occupation can be attributed to the Jewish community). Nor did she accuse the Jewish community of using money to buy influence in Washington (unless one suggests that AIPAC speaks for and acts on behalf of the entire Jewish community). It didn’t matter, her opponents continued to call her an “anti-Semite,” and did so with such frequency that the term stuck, putting her at risk to threats of violence from bigots.

The entire affair came to a head when, at a town hall last week, Omar attempted to explain herself. Asked to address the controversy that had erupted over her advocacy of Palestinian rights, Omar’s colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, spoke first noting that to her the question of Palestine is personal – her grandmother still lives in the West Bank and Congresswoman Tlaib desires that she receive equal justice and recognition of her rights to live in dignity. Reacting to what she had just heard, Omar said that she couldn’t agree with those who fight for human rights and dignity for others and yet exclude Palestinian rights and dignity. For her part, she said, the focus should be universal – leaving no one out. She then chided those in Congress who have pressed her to reject her commitment to call out Israeli abuses and ignore Palestinians rights. Because she is a Muslim, Omar said, her criticism of Israel has been automatically seen as anti-Semitic in order to silence her. Even more troubling she noted was that, as a result of the manufactured controversy over her words, the discussion became whether or not she was an anti-Semite, while ignoring “the broader debate about what is happening in Palestine.”

At that point, Omar said that she resented those who are pushing her to demonstrate allegiance to Israel. She concluded by saying that she wanted to have this conversation about “the political influence in this country that says it’s okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The reaction to this newest “sin” was near hysteria. Without ever listening to what she actually said, some members of Congress accused her of saying that the Jews had dual-loyalty – despite the fact that she had said no such thing. They demanded that Omar be censured or removed from her committee posts. And the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee proposed a resolution that would have denounced anti-Semitism in a way that was clearly directed at the congresswoman.

What was disturbing about this proposed resolution was that none of “Whereas” clauses included had anything to do with what Omar actually said. She never accused Jews of “dual loyalty because they support Israel”; nor did she display “prejudicial attitudes” towards Jews; nor did she ever make “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews”.

What she did do was: challenge official American, and in particular, Congressional silence on the suffering of the Palestinians; the efforts by pro-Israel groups to silence debate on this issue; and the way that some have sought to create a virtual identity being pro-Israel and American interests.

Despite the obvious falseness of their claims, Omar’s opponents in Congress plowed ahead with their proposed bill in order “to teach her a lesson.” In their remarks rebuking Omar, they unwittingly made her point. One congressman said, “Questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” Another said, “there are many reasons to support Israel, but there is no reason to oppose Israel.” While still another said that Democrats and Republicans, alike, are committed to insuring that the “United States and Israel stand as one.”

It is exactly this attitude to which Omar objected when she wrote,

“I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel…I know what it means to be an American and no one will ever tell me otherwise…I have not said anything about the loyalty of others, but spoke about the loyalty expected of me.”

Because Omar has touched what some have come to say is “the third rail of American politics” she was being exploited by some Republicans and hung out to dry by some Democrats. They put a target on her back. And haters were quick to respond with frightening death threats and shameful bigoted assaults on her as a Muslim woman. There is no question that these threats against Omar were the byproduct of the sustained campaign of incitement.

It’s important to note, however, that outside of the halls of Congress a different reality was unfolding. The attacks on Congresswoman Omar were rejected by many Democrats, including progressive Jewish groups, and a debate was sparked by the issues she raised and the over-reaction to them by Congress.

By week’s end, the entire effort appeared to backfire. Instead of being the “slam dunk” they expected, the proposed resolution ran into blocks. Some members objected to singling out of anti-Semitism, without also denouncing racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc. Others protested that Omar was being singled out and put at risk.  And a few of the more prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls (Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris) insisted that charges of anti-Semitism should not be used to silence debate on Israeli policy.

By week’s end, Congress passed a resolution denouncing all forms of hate or intolerance against any religious, ethnic, or religious community. Since it made no mention of Ilhan, it was clearly a loss for those who began the push to shame or punish her

Two final points must be made:

Firstly, Representative Omar is owed an apology. False charges and a manufactured crisis have sullied her name and put her at risk.

And secondly, it is clear that Omar’s courage has helped to open a door enabling a discussion of Israeli policy and the US-Israel relationship. While her opponents attempted to slam it shut, it seems that their behavior and incitement against her backfired stirring a debate that has helped to pry the door even further open.

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The Solons on Capitol Hill are terrified of the expression “dual loyalty.” They are afraid because dual loyalty means that one is not completely a loyal citizen of the country where one was born, raised and, presumably, prospered. It also suggests something more perverse, and that is dual citizenship, which in its present historic and social context particularly refers to the Jewish congressmen and women who just might be citizens of both the United States and Israel. There is particular concern over the issue at the moment because a freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar has let the proverbial cat out of the bag by alluding to American-Jewish money buying uncritical support for a foreign country which is Israel without any regard to broader U.S. interests, something that everyone in Washington knows is true and has been the case for decades but is afraid to discuss due to inevitable punishment by the Israel Lobby.

Certainly, the voting record in Congress would suggest that there are a lot of congress critters who embrace dual loyalty, with evidence that the loyalty is not so much dual as skewed in favor of Israel. Any bill relating to Israel or to Jewish collective interests, like the currently fashionable topic of anti-Semitism, is guaranteed a 90% plus approval rating no matter what it says or how much it damages actual U.S. interests. Thursday’s 407 to 23 vote in the House of Representatives on a meaningless and almost unreadable “anti-hate” resolution was primarily intended to punish Ilhan Omar and to demonstrate that the Democratic Party is indeed fully committed to sustaining the exclusive prerogatives of the domestic Jewish community and the Jewish state.

Image result for Steven Rosen AIPAC

The voting on the resolution was far from unusual and would have been unanimous but for the fact that twenty-three Republicans voted “no” because they wanted a document that was only focused on anti-Semitism, without any references to Muslims or other groups that might be encountering hatred in America. That the congress should be wasting its time with such nonsense is little more than a manifestation of Jewish power in the United States, part of a long-sought goal of making any criticism of Israel a “hate” crime punishable by fining and imprisonment. And congress is always willing to play its part. Famously, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) official Steven Rosen (image on the right) once boasted that he could take a napkin and within 24 hours have the signatures of 70 Senators on it, reflective of the ability of the leading pro-Israel organization to impel the U.S. legislature to respond uncritically to its concerns.

Ilhan Omar has certainly been forced to apologize and explain her position as she is under sustained attack from the left, right and center as well as from the White House. One congressman told her that “Questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” Another said “there are many reasons to support Israel, but there is no reason to oppose Israel” while yet another one declared that all in Congress are committed to insuring that the “United States and Israel stand as one.”

But Omar has defended herself without abandoning her core arguments and she has further established her bona fides as a credible critic of what passes for U.S. foreign policy by virtue of an astonishing attack on former President Barack Obama, whom she criticized obliquely in an interview Friday, saying

“We can’t be only upset with Trump. His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was. That’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

Presumably Omar was referring to Obama’s death by drone program and his destruction of Libya, among his other crimes. Everything she said about the smooth talking but feckless Obama is true and could be cast in even worse terms, but to hear the truth from out of the mouth of a liberal Democrat is something like a revelation that all progressives are not ideologically fossilized and fundamentally brain dead. One wonders what she thinks of the Clintons?

The Democrats are in a tricky situation that will only wind up hurting relationships with some of their core constituencies. If they come down too hard on Omar – a Muslim woman of color who wears a head covering – it will not look good to some key minority voters they have long courted. If they do not, the considerable Jewish political donations to the Democratic Party will certainly be diminished if not slowed to a trickle and much of the media will turn hostile. So they are trying to bluff their way through by uttering the usual bromides. Senator Kristin Gillibrand of New York characteristically tried to cover both ends by saying

“Those with critical views of Israel, such as Congresswoman Omar, should be able to express their views without employing anti-Semitic tropes about money or influence.”

Well, of course, it is all about Jews, money buying access and obtaining political power, with the additional element of supporting a foreign government that has few actual interests in common with the United States, isn’t it?

As Omar put it,

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country…”

She also tweeted to a congressional critic that

“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”

Gilad Atzmon, a well known Jewish critic of Israel, observed drily that

“How reassuring is it that the only American who upholds the core values of liberty, patriotism and freedom is a black Muslim and an immigrant…”

But such explicatory language about the values that Americans used to embrace before Israel-worship rendered irrelevant the Constitution clearly made some lightweights from the GOP side nervous. Megan McCain, daughter of thankfully deceased “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” Senator John McCain appears on a mind numbing talk-television program called The View where she cried as she described her great love for fellow Israel-firster warmonger former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman as “like family,” before launching into her own “informed” analysis:

“I take the hate crimes rising in this country incredibly seriously and I think what’s happening in Europe is really scary. On both sides it should be called out. And just because I don’t technically have Jewish family that are blood-related to me doesn’t mean that I don’t take this seriously and it is very dangerous, very dangerous… what Ilhan Omar is saying is very scary to me.”

The New York Times also had a lot to say, covering the story on both its news and op-eds pages daily. Columnist Michelle Goldberg, who is usually sensible, criticizes Omar because of her “minimizing the legacy of the holocaust” and blames her because “she’s committed what might be called, in another context, a series of microaggressions — inadvertent slights that are painful because they echo whole histories of trauma.” In other words, if some Jews are indeed deliberately corrupting American politics on behalf of Israel and against actual U.S. interests using money to do so it is not a good idea to say anything about it because it might revive bad historical – or not so historical – memories. It is perpetual victimhood employed as an excuse for malfeasance on the part of Jewish groups and the Jewish state.

Another Times columnist Bret Stephens also takes up the task of defenestrating Omar with some relish, denying that “claims that Israel…uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters ‘push for allegiance to a foreign country’” are nothing more than the “repackage[ing] falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries.” He attributes to her “insidious cunning” and “anti-Jewish bigotry” observing how “she wraps herself in the flag, sounding almost like Pat Buchanan when he called Congress “Israeli-occupied” territory.” And it’s all “…how anti-Zionism has abruptly become an acceptable point of view in reputable circles. It’s why anti-Semitism is just outside the frame, bidding to get in.” He concludes by asking why the Democratic Party “has so much trouble calling out a naked anti-Semite in its own ranks.”

Stephens clearly does not accept that what Omar claims just might actually be true. Perhaps he is so irritated by her because he himself is a perfect example of someone who suffers from dual loyalty syndrome, or perhaps it would be better described as single loyalty to his tribe and to Israel. Review some of his recent columns in The Times if you do not believe that to be true. He has an obsession with rooting out people that he believes to be anti-Semites and believes all the nonsense about Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” In his op-ed he claims that “Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion.” Yes, a theocratic state’s summary execution of unarmed protesters and starving civilians while simultaneously carrying out ethnic cleansing are traditional Democratic Party programs, at least as Bret sees it.

People like Stephens are unfortunately possessors of a bully pulpit and are influential. As they are public figures, they should be called out regarding where their actual loyalties lie, but no one in power is prepared to do that. Stephens wears his Jewishness on his sleeve and is pro-Israel far beyond anyone else writing at The Times. He and other dual loyalists, to be generous in describing them, should be exposed for what they are, which is the epitome of the promoters of the too “passionate attachment” with a foreign state that President George Washington once warned against. If the United States of America is not their homeland by every measure, they should perhaps consider doing Aliyah and moving to Israel. We genuine Americans would be well rid of them.

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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

Selected Articles: War Spending Is Bankrupting America

March 13th, 2019 by Global Research News

A future without independent media leaves us with an upside down reality where according to the corporate media “NATO deserves a Nobel Peace Prize”, and where “nuclear weapons and wars make us safer”

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Venezuela: Suspend Debt Repayments and Create an Emergency Humanitarian Fund

By Eric Toussaint, March 13, 2019

Faced with the aggressive measures taken by foreign powers who have not hesitated to confiscate assets of the Republic of Venezuela deposited abroad and which are necessary for maintaining commercial exchanges, the government must declare a suspension of repayment of foreign debt.

Canada’s SNC-Lavalin Affair: The Site C Dam Project and Bulk Water Export

By Joyce Nelson, March 13, 2019

In all the press coverage of the “the SNC-Lavalin affair,” not enough attention has been paid to the company’s involvement in Site C – the contentious $11 billion dam being constructed in B.C.’s Peace River valley.

Buying Back the “Iron Dome” from Israel

By Philip Giraldi, March 13, 2019

In early February, the U.S. Army announced that it would be buying Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system to protect American troops against incoming rockets, artillery shells, and mortar rounds.

Distorting American History: Jefferson Exhibit Generates Racial Controversy in Detroit

By Abayomi Azikiwe, March 13, 2019

On March 12, approximately 100 people picketed the Wright Museum demanding that the Jefferson exhibit be reconsidered. Participants carried a banner challenging the official narrative and characterization of Jefferson.

UK Parliament Rejects No-Brexit/Brexit Deal for Second Time

By Stephen Lendman, March 13, 2019

The deal calls for the UK remaining in the EU customs union, Brussels and Berlin retaining control. A number of May’s ministers resigned over her deal, refusing to support capitulation to EU authorities.

US Congressmen Introduce Bill to Prohibit US Courts from Recognizing Cuban Trademarks

By Telesur, March 13, 2019

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) presented a bill on Tuesday before the US Congress in which they seek to prohibit the official recognition and rights of Cuban trademarks in the United States.

Pity the Nation: War Spending Is Bankrupting America

By John W. Whitehead, March 13, 2019

According to an investigative report by Open the Government, among the items purchased during the last month of the fiscal year when government agencies go all out to get rid of these “use it or lose it” funds: Wexford Leather club chair ($9,241), china tableware ($53,004), alcohol ($308,994), golf carts ($673,471), musical equipment including pianos, tubas, and trombones ($1.7 million), lobster tail and crab ($4.6 million), iPhones and iPads ($7.7 million), and workout and recreation equipment ($9.8 million).

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It’s not only the mafia that demands ransom money in exchange for its “protection”. “The rich countries that we protect” – warned President Donald Trump in a menacing speech at the Pentagon – Our allies “are all notified. They will have to pay for our protection”.

President Trump – reveals Bloomberg — is going to present the plan “Cost Plus 50” which includes the following criteria – the allied countries which shelter US forces on their territory will have to cover their total cost, and pay the USA a supplement of 50 % in exchange for the “privilege” of housing them and therefore enjoying their “protection”.

The plan also requires that the shelter countries pay the salaries of US military personnel and the costs of the management of the aircraft and warships that the United States keep in that country. Italy must therefore pay not only the salaries of approximately 12,000 US military employees based on their territory, but also the management costs for the F-16 fighters and other aircraft deployed by the USA at Aviano and Sigonella. To this must be added the costs of the Sixth Fleet based at Gaeta. According to this same requirement, we will also have to pay for the management of Camp Darby, the biggest US arsenal outside of the homeland, and for the upkeep of the US nuclear weapons stored at Aviano and Ghedi.

We do not know how much the United States intend to charge Italy and the other European countries which shelter their military forces, since we do not even know how much they are currently paying. These data are covered by Secret-Defense. According to a study by the Rand Corporation, the European members of NATO assume the average charge of 34 % of the cost of the US forces and bases present on their territories. But we do not know how much of the annual cost they currently pay to the USA. The only estimation – 2,5 billion dollars – was made 17 years ago.

The sum paid by Italy is therefore also secret. We only have information on certain posts – for example the tens of millions of Euros spent to adapt the airports of Aviano and Ghedi to the needs of the US F-35 fighters and the new B61-12 nuclear bombs that the USA will begin to deploy in Italy in 2020, plus approximately 100 million Euros for the work on the aeronaval base at Sigonella, which is also to be paid for by Italy. At Sigonella, only the Nas I, the administrative and leisure area, is exclusively financed by the USA, while Nas II, the operational departments – the most expensive – are financed by NATO, and therefore also by Italy.

In any case, it is certain – warns a researcher from the Rand Corp – that with the “Cost Plus 50” plan, the costs for the allies “will skyrocket”. There is talk of an increase of 600 %. This will be added to the usual military spending, which in Italy reaches approximately 70 million Euros per day, soon to climb to about 100 million Euros according to the engagements taken by consecutive Italian governments at NATO headquarters.

This is public money drawn from our pockets, subtracted from productive investments and social spending. But it is possible that Italy could pay less for the US forces and bases deployed on its territory. The “Cost Plus 50” in fact plans for a “good behaviour bonus” in the favour of those “allies which closely align themselves with the United States, by doing what they are asked”.

We are sure that Italy will profit from a strong reduction because, from government to government, it has always followed close behind the United States, most recently, by sending troops and warplanes to Eastern Europe on the pretext of containing the “Russian menace” and by favouring the US plan to bury the INF Treaty in order to deploy in Europe, including Italy, sites for nuclear missiles pointed at Russia.

Since these are the targets of possible reprisals, we will need the “protection” of other US forces and bases. Which we will have to pay for, but still with the reduction bonus.

Source: PandoraTV

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This article was originally published on Il Manifesto. Translated by Pete Kimberley.

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from the author

While the Justin Trudeau government’s interference in the prosecution of SNC Lavalin highlights corporate influence over politics, it is also a story about a firm at the centre of Canadian foreign policy.

In a recent story titled “Canada’s Corrupt Foreign Policy Comes Home to Roost” I detailed some of SNC’s controversial international undertakings, corruption and government support. But, there’s a great deal more to say about the global behemoth.

With offices and operations in over 160 countries”, the company has long been the corporate face of this country’s foreign policy. In fact, it is not much of an exaggeration to describe some Canadian diplomatic posts as PR arms for the Montréal-based firm. What’s good for SNC has been defined as good for Canada.

Even as evidence of its extensive bribery began seeping out six years ago, SNC continued to receive diplomatic support and rich government contracts. Since then the Crown Corporation Export Development Canada issued SNC or its international customers at least $800-million  in loans; SNC and a partner were awarded part of a contract worth  up to $400 million to manage Canadian Forces bases abroad; Canada’s aid agency profiled  a venture SNC co-led to curb pollution in Vietnam; Canada’s High  Commissioner Gérard Latulippe and Canadian Commercial Corporation vice president Mariette Fyfe-Fortin sought “to arrange  an untendered, closed-door” contract for SNC to build a $163-million hospital complex in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ottawa’s support for SNC despite corruption allegations in 15 countries is not altogether surprising since the company has proven to be a loyal foot soldier fighting for controversial foreign policy decisions under both Liberal and Conservative governments.

SNC’s nuclear division participated  in a delegation to India led by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day a few months after Ottawa signed a 2008 agreement to export nuclear reactors to India, even though New Delhi refused to sign the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (India developed atomic weapons with Canadian technology). Describing it as the “biggest  private contractor to [the] Canadian mission” in Afghanistan, the Ottawa Citizen referred to SNC in 2007 as “an indispensable part of Canada’s war effort.” In Haiti SNC participated  in a Francophonie Business Forum trip seven months after the US, Canada and France overthrew the country’s elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Amidst the coup government’s vast political repression, the Montreal firm met foreign installed prime minister Gérard Latortue and the company received a series of Canadian government funded contracts in Haiti.

SNC certainly does not shy away from ethically dubious business. For years it manufactured grenades for the Canadian military and others at its plant in Le Gardeur, Quebec. According to its website, SNC opened an office  in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1982 amidst the international campaign to boycott the apartheid regime. Later that decade SNC worked on the Canadian government funded Manantali Dam, which led to “economic ruin, malnutrition and disease to hundreds of thousands of West African farmers.”

More recently, SNC has been part of numerous controversial mining projects in Africa. It had a major stake in a Sherritt-led consortium that initiated one of the world’s largest nickel and cobalt mines in Ambatovy Madagascar. Backed by Canadian diplomats  and Export Development  Canada, the gigantic open pit mine tore up more than 1,300 acres of biologically rich  rain forest home to a thousand species of flowering plants, fourteen species of lemurs and a hundred types of frogs.

According to West Africa Leaks, SNC dodged its tax obligations in Senegal. With no construction equipment or office of its own, SNC created a shell company in Mauritius to avoid paying tax. Senegal missed out on $8.9 million the Montréal firm should have paid the country because its ‘office’ was listed in tax free Mauritius. SNC has subsidiaries in low tax jurisdictions Jersey and Panama and the company was cited in the “Panama Papers” leak of offshore accounts for making a $22 million payment to a British Virgin Islands-based firm to secure contracts in Algeria. (In a case of the tax-avoiding fox protecting the public’s hen house, former SNC president and chairman of the board, Guy Saint-Pierre, was appointed to Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2007 advisory panel  on Canada’s System of International Taxation.)

SNC has benefited from Ottawa’s international push for neoliberal reforms and Canada’s power within the World Bank. A strong proponent of neoliberalism, the Montréal firm has worked  on and promoted  privatizing water services in a number of countries. Alongside Global Affairs Canada, SNC promotes the idea that the public cannot build, operate or manage services and that the way forward is through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), which often go beyond a standard design-and-build-construction contract to include private sector participation in service operation, financing and decision making. SNC is represented on the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, which promotes PPPs globally. The Montréal firm has also sponsored many pro-privatization forums.With Rio Tinto, Alcan, Teck Resources and the Canadian International Development Agency, SNC funded  and presented at a 2012 conference at McGill University on Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Towards a Framework for Resource Extraction Industries.

In an embarrassing comment on the PPP lobby, the year before SNC was charged with paying $22.5 million  in bribes to gain the contract to build the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) the Canadian Council  for Public-Private Partnerships and Thomson Reuters  both awarded the MUHC project a prize for best PPP.

Further proof that in the corporate world what is good for SNC is seen as good for Canada, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants gave SNC its award for excellence in corporate governance in seven of the ten  years before the company’s corruption received widespread attention.

In an indication of the impunity that reigns in the corporate world, the directors that oversaw SNC’s global corruption have faced little sanction. After the corruption scandal was revealed board chairman Gwyn Morgan, founder of EnCana, continued to write a regular column for the Globe and Mail Report on Business (currently Financial Post) and continues his membership in the Order of Canada. Ditto for another long serving SNC director who is also a member of the Order of Canada. In fact, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal was subsequently made a member of the Order of Ontario. Another Order of Canada and Order of Ontario member on SNC’s board, Lorna Marsden, also maintained her awards. Other long serving board members — Claude Mongeau, Pierre Lessard, Dee Marcoux, Lawrence Stevenson and David Goldman – received corporate positions and awards after overseeing SNC’s corruption.

The corporate face of this country’s foreign policy is not pretty. While Trudeau’s SNC scandal highlights corporate influence over politics, it’s also the story of the Ugly Canadian abroad.

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From February 24 to 27th, the International People’s Assembly (AIP) was held in Caracas, in solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela represented by Nicolás Maduro. Almost 500 delegates from 90 countries of the world attended the event, and one of the most ardent supporters of this initiative in the last two years is the leader of the Landless Movement of Brazil, João Pedro Stédile.

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Carlos Aznarez (CA): Why an International People’s Assembly now?

João Pedro Stédile (JPS): The effort that we are making with this coordination, not substituting any other action by the parties and unions, is to try to gather all the popular forces so that we can promote common struggles against the common enemies that are the imperialists. That is the main reason to look for new forms of international organization that promote struggles and try to unite the diverse spaces and forms of organization in our countries. In this first Assembly, because of the extent of conflict in Venezuela, which is now the epicenter of the world class struggle, at least in the West, where imperialism seeks by any means to overthrow Venezuela, the number one task, the absolute priority of all of us is to leave here with an agenda of actions, of denunciation, so that our movements can be developed in each of the countries represented here.

CA: I am the devil’s advocate: whenever this type of meeting is held, it is proposed to return to the countries and coordinate actions, and then, for some reason or because of the internal actions of each country, these things are not carried out and the documents and resolutions are packed away. Why do you think that this time it is going to happen or it should happen?

JPS: That is our self-critical reflection: we have to get out of paperwork and try to promote more actions. I believe that we should promote concrete struggles and actions because the popular forces that are here are accustomed to processes of popular organization in their countries. In other words, it is not a bureaucratic meeting that comes with the acronym or the party, but rather people who are involved in real processes of struggle in their countries. So, we are confident that when they return to their countries they will put the issue of Venezuela, the issue of internationalism, permanently on their agenda in the national struggles they are already waging.

CA: Venezuela is a turning point today in the anti-imperialist struggle. How do you think it is most valid or most effective to express solidarity with Venezuela on the continent?

JPS: It is true that there is tremendous confusion and that is why Venezuela is a key point, because even some left-wing sectors of Latin America and Europe allow themselves to be influenced by what the bourgeois press says. We had invited several European forces that refused to come to Venezuela because Venezuela is not a democracy. Look, a country that has held 25 elections in 20 years, where the private press is the majority, where the opposition marches every day it wishes, how can we say that there is no democracy in that country? So, those ideas of the bourgeoisie have also influenced sectors of the left, the most institutional, which later are moved only by electoral logic, which if they are in an election year believe that it is convenient for us to be close to Venezuelans because they are radical. Just as in the past they isolated themselves from Cuba, but Cuba is there, after 60 years of resistance and today with its happy, educated people.

So Venezuela is very important because it is the battle of this century. If the empire succeeds in overthrowing Venezuela, that means that it will have more forces to overthrow Cuba, Nicaragua, and all the processes that propose changes, even that institutional left that only thinks of elections with the defeat of Venezuela will have more difficulties winning elections. So, even for the institutional or public struggle, it is very important to defend Venezuela and transform it into a trench of resistance and at least make it the grave of the Trump government.

CA: In your speeches and statements you tend to criticize the errors of the neo-developmental governments, but there is a tendency that in order to get out of this imperialist offensive, you have to resort back to the recourse of social democracy. How do you see that, is that valid or do we have to define ourselves more clearly by proposing the path to socialism?

JPS: The assessment that we make is that there is a profound crisis of the capitalist mode of production and the exit that they are seeking to resolve the accumulation of their problems is to seize control of resources more offensively, be it oil, mining, water, biodiversity, and increasing the rate of exploitation of the working class by stripping away historical rights that we have gained throughout the decades after World War II. In ideological terms, what capital is promoting is the recovery of the extreme right, as happened in the crisis of the 1930s when it resorted to fascist and Nazi ideology.

The advantage we have now is that this approach cannot be repeated as a right-wing proposal because they do not have a mass movement in the working class as fascism and Nazism used to have, and that gives us some security. But, on the other hand, since they don’t have the masses, they wage an ideological struggle and use all the weapons they have, television, internet, networks, fake news, to defeat us with their ideology.

In the capitalist plan, they have themselves defeated social democracy. In Latin America, Europe and the whole world social democracy was a means of humanizing capital, but capital no longer wants to be human. Capital, in order to recover, has to be the devil, to go to the extreme of consequence, whether in terms of manipulation of the State or of super-exploitation of nature and human labour.

Then, it would be a mistake for the left to think that in order to win elections we have to become stronger social democrats. Now we have to attempt to return to grassroots work, to engage in ideological struggle, to recover our social base which is the working class that has been displaced, is precarious, and faces numerous challenges. But we have to reorganize it under other forms that are not only union and party as we were used to, but also new forms, new movements, to have a social base that brings new forms of participatory democracy to the table, because winning elections alone, as was proven in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, is not enough. Of course it is important to win elections, but we must have accumulated forces to achieve structural changes in the economy and in the political system.

CA: There is a phenomenon in Europe that is attracting attention and that is the yellow vests. Strangely enough, this wave comes from Europe and not from Latin America as one might imagine, but that there is an anti-system approach. Do you see that this phenomenon could take shape in the new forms of struggle that must be applied to empire?

JPS: Without a doubt. We are very interested in the process of developing them, we are going to try to send our people to stay a while to learn with them the forms they have adopted. It caught our attention because they are part of the working class, it is not a movement of the petty bourgeoisie or disillusioned students as it was once the case in Europe with camps in public squares. We perceive that initiatives are being promoted there by the precarious working class outside the unions, the political parties, but that reacted to this contradiction when they saw that capitalism no longer solves their daily problems and they adopted this form that seemed very interesting to us.

However, it is not a form that we should apply in each country but the importance of it is that they were creative and discovered a form that serves the French reality. That’s what we have to look for in Brazil, in Argentina and in each of the countries. In other words, to promote a debate in grassroots movements to look for new forms of struggle that will stop capital and that will cause damage, because just with demonstrations, slogans of order, rallies, capital is not stopped. The yellow vests of France have caused hardship because they are blocking the roads and everyone knows that capital no longer moves through trucks carrying goods. I congratulate the comrades and I hope that the French left will learn from them and get involved so as to extract lessons from the methodological point of view of how we should work with the disorganized masses.

CA: How is the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) approaching the struggle at this moment in Brazil where time is passing, Lula is still in prison, there are inconsistencies in the government but it is advancing over the rights of the workers and the gains that have been made?

JPS: The MST is now in a very complex situation since we have to redouble our work and our efforts, because our movement has a peasant base, it developed its experience of class struggle in the countryside against the landlords and agricultural capital, which are the big transnationals. There we were formed, we politicized and we understood how the Agrarian Reform is not only land for those who work there as the Zapatista ideas were defended in the 20th century, but that now Agrarian Reform is a struggle against international capital, against its transgenic and agrotoxic technology. It was that struggle that politicized us to extrapolate what the classic peasant movements were.

Faced with the defeat we had because of Lula’s imprisonment and with Bolsonaro’s victory, new challenges are imposed on us that extrapolate the struggle for Agrarian Reform. At the same time, to expose Agrarian Reform we have to win in a political struggle. So the MST has to proceed more carefully in Agrarian Reform because the right wing is preparing for us to fall into some trap and beat us up. Now in the countryside we have to act with much more wisdom and with many more people to protect ourselves from the coming repression. For now it has been coming in a very specific way from the militias that capital has, we have not yet faced repression from the State, from the government of Bolsonaro, but we do not doubt that this is precisely what they desire.

In political terms what we have to do, and we are planning our struggle, is to try to go to the city with our militancy, our experience, and to develop a movement that acts precisely on the periphery with all its strength, and for that we have created in Brazil a broad united front of popular movements called the Popular Brazil Front. We are developing our own way of doing grassroots work that we call the People’s Congress, it is a pompous name, but it is an attempt to challenge, to go house to house to talk to people, to ask about their problems, and to motivate them to go to a popular assembly in their neighborhood, parish, work place. After the assemblies where people voice their problems, try to hold municipal assemblies, then provincial assemblies, to arrive some day, next year or at the end of the year, at a National People’s Congress as a way to stimulate the people to participate in politics, to recover new means of communication, to distribute our newspaper, to discuss it with the people, to use Internet networks, to hold cultural events, to reach the people through music, theatre, and not just because of the political discourse that no-one listens to. We have to use other mass pedagogies so that the masses understand what is happening in Brazil, and the creativity I was talking about.

CA: Will Lula and his freedom continue to be on the agenda of the MST?

JPS: That’s the second big issue in politics: Lula’s freedom is at the center of the class struggle in Brazil. There is no successor to Lula because the one who chooses popular leadership is not the parties, it is the people, that is why it is called popular leadership because the people choose their leaders and Lula is the popular leader of Brazil.

It is a fundamental task for the class struggle that we succeed in liberating Lula so that he becomes the principal spokesman, he is the one who has the capacity to help mobilize the masses against the system and the project of the extreme right. That’s why the extreme right is terrified and prevents him from even speaking, giving interviews, something that goes against the Constitution. Any narco-trafficker in Brazil speaks on national television, but Lula cannot give an interview even to a newspaper.

So, we are fighting for Lula’s freedom, which is going to depend on two important factors: international solidarity, which is why I take this opportunity to ask everyone to help us. The second factor is the national mobilization: we are promoting from Brazil in order to join the campaign for Lula with concrete struggle. We want people to begin to realize that they will have to mobilize against the measures of the neoliberal government, in defense of the historical rights of the working class that they want to eliminate today.

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This interview was first published on the Resumen Latinoamericano.org website. Translation by Internationalist 360°.

João Pedro Stedile is an economist and a member of the national coordination of the MST and Via Campesina.

Featured image is from The Bullet

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Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, which took off with the election of President Hugo Chávez in December 1998, frequently and even quite recently received praise for its social gains from the United Nations, international humanitarian organizations and economists. This aspect of the country’s story has been almost entirely written out of media coverage of the effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government by the US, Canada and their right-wing partners in Venezuela and the region.

Under Chávez, poverty in Venezuela was cut by more than a third, and extreme poverty by 57 percent (CEPR, 3/7/13). (These declines were even steeper if measured from the depths of the opposition-led oil strike, designed to force Chávez out by wrecking the economy.)

In June 2013, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) included Venezuela in a group of 18 nations that that had cut their number of hungry people by half in the preceding 20 years, 14 of which were governed by Chavismo: The FAO said that Venezuela reduced the number of people suffering from malnutrition from 13.5 percent of the population in 1990–92 to less than 5 percent of the population in 2010–12; the FAO credited government-run supermarket networks and nutrition programs created by Chávez.

Child Malnutrition in Venezuela

Malnutrition in children under five was one of several social indicators that improved dramatically in Venezuela following the election of Hugo Chávez in 1999. (Source: Instituto Nacional de Nutrición/CEPR)

Three months later, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that it “welcomes the social development measures, programs and plans that include indigenous peoples and people of African descent, which have helped to combat structural racial discrimination” in the country. The committee also noted that it

welcomes the progress made by the [Venezuelan government] in the area of education and its efforts to reduce illiteracy, as a result of which it was declared an “illiteracy-free territory” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2005.

In 2014, Niky Fabiancic, resident UN coordinator for Venezuela, called the country “one of the leading countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in reducing inequality,” according to Venezuelanalysis (5/9/14). The website also quoted UNICEF representative Kiyomi Kawaguchi as saying that from 2009–10, 7.7 million students attended school, an increase of 24 percent over ten years previously.

Thus, in the Bolivarian Revolution’s 14th and 15th year, multiple UN organs highlighted how Chavismo had improved the lives of Venezuela’s poor majority.

Similarly, the UN’s Economic and Social Council published a report in 2015, two years into the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, that said the council

takes note with satisfaction of the progress made by [the Venezuelan government] in combating poverty and reducing inequality. The Committee also welcomes the huge progress made by the [Venezuelan government] in the fight against malnutrition through the expansion of the school meals program and the food allowance for low-income families.

One widely used measure of a country or territory’s overall well-being is the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators. The most recent HDI report is the one that was published in 2018, based on 2017 data.

The 2018 report put Venezuela in the category of countries or territories that have “High Human Development,” the second best of the HDI’s four rankings, and 78th of the 189 countries and territories examined. On that list, Venezuela outranks the majority of the states in the 14-country Lima Group currently trying to overthrow its government, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. Guatemala, Guyana and Honduras are categorized as “Medium Human Development,” the group below the one to which Venezuela belongs and the second lowest HDI category.

The HDI does not provide a perfect picture of present conditions in Venezuela, since the situation in the country has evolved and appears to have worsened since 2017, in large part because of the sharp escalation of the economic war on the country by the Trump administration in August 2017. The HDI does, however, indicate that by this metric, in 2017 Venezuela was doing reasonably well by regional and global standards even in the face of harsh sanctions.

While the progress made by the Bolivarian Revolution has eroded—in larger measure due to US, Canadian and European sanctions undercutting Venezuela’s economy and its people’s access to food and medicine—a mere six months ago, Alfred de Zayas, the first UN special rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, issued a report based on his late 2017 visit to the country, four years into the Maduro era. The report says:

In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Gran Misión Vivienda low-cost housing program has contributed to saving millions of persons from homelessness. Over 2 million housing units have been delivered to persons who would otherwise live in shanty towns. In order to address hunger, the Local Supply and Production Committees provide needy Venezuelans with 16kg packages containing sugar, flour, dried milk, oil etc., as the independent expert was able to verify at the Urbanización Nelson Mandela. Another social acquis, El Sistema, established by the late José Antonio Abreu, has offered free musical education to over 1 million youngsters, contributing to a reduction in juvenile delinquency.

Each of these pieces of information constitutes evidence about life in Venezuela in the Chavismo period, which the US and its partners are attempting to end. As such, this data should at least be part of the current conversation about Venezuela, especially inside of states that are trying to illegally oust the Venezuelan movement that not long ago was being praised for its successes by the UN, international humanitarian groups, and economists, and drawing favourable comparisons to the social order that had previously prevailed in the country.

To assess whether US media have noted this crucial part of the story of the Bolivarian Revolution, I used the media aggregator Factiva to search the databases of three of the country’s major newspapers:  the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. I examined the period since the US government and its allies have asserted that Juan Guaidó is the president of Venezuela, not the elected Nicolás Maduro. According to Factiva, the three outlets have run a combined 800 pieces in the intervening period, and I was able to find four that make reference to Chavismo social programs and even these are done in a vague, dismissive fashion. None discuss in any detail the accomplishments that won the Bolivarian Revolution international acclaim.

WSJ: Paradise Lost: Venezuela's Path From Riches to Ruin

To the Wall Street Journal (2/7/19), Venezuela was “paradise” when it was much more unequal.

The Wall Street Journal (2/7/19) gave a timeline of Venezuelan history that, in a section labelled “2003–12,” asserts:

Mr. Chávez expropriates farms and businesses, and uses oil revenue to build homes, distribute food and upgrade healthcare. The programs reduce poverty and make him popular. But he also saddles Venezuela with high inflation, billions in foreign debt and makes the country even more oil dependent.

This piece’s mention of Chavismo’s achievements subsumes them into an overarching narrative that is overwhelmingly focused on the many failures the authors attribute to the Bolivarian Revolution.

Max Fisher of the New York Times (1/24/19) noted that “Mr. Chávez was a dedicated leftist who spent heavily on social programs,” but failed to mention that these programs benefited Venezuelans for a very long time, especially the poorest in the country. In a common trope that’s typically used against leftist governments, especially those in the Global South with non-white majorities, Fisher denigrates the use of Venezuela’s resources to aid its people as a kind of bribery: “handouts to maintain support among his supporters.”

Also in the Times, Virginia Lopez Glass (1/25/19) made a brief, hand-waving reference to the long period of successes of the Bolivarian Revolution, writing that “perhaps Venezuela is finally at the end of a political cycle that, despite some years of social gains, ultimately impoverished what was once the richest nation in the region.”

Times columnist Bret Stephens  (1/28/19) mentioned Chavismo’s social programs, but only to blame government spending on these for the country’s ailments.

The Post seems not to have made any mention at all of the improvements the Bolivarian Revolution brought to the poor and working class who make up most of Venezuela’s population.

When the gains that Chavismo made are erased from the story being told about the country, a distorted version of events is presented. This accounting carries the incorrect message that the Bolivarian Revolution has been an abject failure from start to finish, and that every aspect of the project must therefore be abandoned in order to improve Venezuelans’ conditions. Such a misleading narrative further suggests that, since the Venezuelan government has allegedly brought only harm to the country’s people, the states involved in the effort to remove the Venezuelan government are justified in so doing, and their citizens should support rather than try to stop these efforts.

The starting point for discussions about Venezuela involving anyone who purports to care about the welfare of the people of the country ought to be the question, “What steps can be taken for Venezuela to resume making the impressive strides that it made for the majority of the time that Chavismo has held power?” as opposed to, “How can we disempower the social forces that gave birth to those gains, namely Venezuela’s poor and disproportionately mestizo, indigenous and black populations?” To their discredit, corporate media have framed their coverage around the latter rather than the former–a question whose answer necessarily involves lifting the draconian sanctions.

*

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Featured image is from FAIR

Two days ago I was in the Syrian Christian town of Al Skeilbiyyeh that has endured sustained attacks from the various terrorist groups backed by the U.S Coalition. These groups are embedded in the countryside bordering Al Skeilbiyyeh. In the last two weeks they have targeted schools, residential areas and civilian districts with 25 rockets/GRAD missiles, causing significant material damage to homes and infrastructure. Children have been told they cannot go to school during these precarious times.

I met with the courageous commander of the volunteer National Defence Forces in this beautiful town, Nabel Alabdalla – and he took me to see the devastation caused by just one rocket that decimated a neighbourhood.

#AlSkeilbiyyeh and the neighbouring town of Mhardeh represent the brave resistance of these besieged peoples against violent and brutal sectarianism and extremism. They are the light in the darkness that has been introduced into their land by the imperialist predators. God bless them and protect them.

Full transcript of Nabel Alabdalla’s words:

“This time, the rockets that landed on this area were unusual and very destructive. We think they have used C4 or another prohibited explosive because this extent of destruction is not from a normal GRAD rocket

This is the result of the Gulf blood money and Erdogan’s policy, his treacherous policy. International mercenaries are targeting civilians in the steadfast city of al-Skeilbiyyeh to drive us from this land.

We send a message to the world that we are staying on this land no matter what they do, we will remain steadfast with the determination of the heroic Syrian Arab army

Our people confirm this because they will stay in their homes neighbouring the international terrorism that is gathered in the countryside of Idleb. We confirm that we always carry the candles of love and peace in one hand and the other hand is on the trigger, we will not leave this land.

Look, there are children toys here, there are homes here, what else is here? Is there a military base here? Where is Europe about this? Why is the Vatican silent? Why is the international community silent and the “humanitarian organisations? Would they accept this landing on their homes?

He worked in Lebanon for 4 years, collecting pennies to build this house, for 4 years. Is he a terrorist? Look at his face, is he a militant? What is he? Why are they targeting him? They are cowards.

They made people homeless

Look, it was not a usual rocket that caused all this destruction

Here the rocket landed. This may collapse, don’t stand on it.

This the level of destruction of one rocket, this is not a usual rocket, look there, it has severed a concrete pillar, scraped the iron bars here, destroyed this house, destroyed that house, it has destroyed two neighborhoods – one rocket.

These are unusual rockets, they have modified them with C4 fillers. The criminals of the world supported by Erdogan, by the American intelligence and by the Gulf blood money want to displace us from this land.

We can assure everyone that we are staying on this land with the determination of the heroic Syrian Arab Army, and the protection of the Virgin Mary. We are not going anywhere, and with the determination of the heroes – our steadfast civilian people – they are showing all levels of steadfastness

We hope for unequivocal support for our civilians to maintain resistance and steadfastness on this Holy Land. We affirm the resistance and we will remain steadfast. We will not move from this land, no matter what they do.

Here we are now, and the launching site is visible. There it is, Tall Othman. There it is … look at the destruction.

International terrorism is gathered in Idleb… we want a solution for this terrorism… it will transfer to Europe, to America and to the world.

They (the terrorists) always send messages of forced displacement, murder – sectarian messages which we have never experienced before.

Here, we are all Syrians. The city of Skeilbiyyeh houses 4000 refugees, Syrians from northern Idleb, the northern villages, from the northwestern countryside of Hama and from the countryside of Idleb.

They came to the city of Skeilbiyyeh fleeing from the criminality of their sons, from the terrorization of their sons, they sought refuge with us, and we embraced them. We provide for them, give them everything they need.

Parents are forced to flee the terrorism of their sons, what should we say about those sons? The mother and father couldn’t endure the terrorization of their sons! Why are the West and Europe supporting them? They are criminals, we must find a solution!

That is the monastery….look where the rocked had landed. Look at the monastery there, the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, look where the rocket ( landed), it’s visible, it landed on the wall… there.

They targeted the churches, they targeted the markets, the market was completely destroyed, they targeted the children’s schools, now you will see the footage, they had targeted 4 children schools. What is this?

The city (of Skeilbiyyeh) has been targeted by 4000 rockets and shells until now… this is the protector, look, the photo of saint George is still in its place

The houses were full of children, and this is the patron saint of warriors crowned with victory – Saint George, in his place, steadfast, and we will stay like him

Thank you too…, we always thank the independent journalist who speaks on a humanitarian level, our friend Vanessa Beeley. We convey a message of love and appreciation to you in my name and in the names of the people of Skeilbiyyeh

We will not forget those who stood with us in the most dangerous circumstances and through the darkest times.

Your presence in this land that’s bordering the international terrorism – coming from Paris, from France – strengthens the determination of all the soldiers… and increases the steadfastness of the civilians when they see the humanity in your eyes, and your arrival in the land bordering terrorism.

We thank you in my name and in the name of the city. We confirm our resistance and steadfastness to everyone. We have every confidence that our voice will reach to the whole world, with the terrorism that our city is exposed to, and the terrorism that the civilians are exposed to.

We have complete confidence in you and in your presence in this land and we thank you again for standing with us whenever adversity intensifies.

The late leader Hafez al-Assad said in his clear words: adversities reveal the metal of people, and the more adversity intensifies, the more pure gold is revealed

We always see you with us on this land during dark times, and that is what strengthens us and relieves our people’s suffering, you are always welcome.

Vanessa Beeley, thank you”

***

Thank you to Nabel Alabdalla and your wonderful family – to the brave soldiers in the NDF, the SAA and to the people of Skeilbiyyeh and Mhardeh who truly teach us the meaning of resistance against the terrorist plague that threatens us all.

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This article was originally published on the author’s Patreon page.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: One of the volunteer Syrian National Defence Forces soldiers in Al Skeilbiyyeh. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)


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

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

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In the wake of the February 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 students and staff members, a teacher said the school looked “like a war zone.” And to many young Americans, that’s exactly what it felt like. But this shooting was different. Refusing to be victims, Parkland survivors disrupted the “thoughts and prayers” cycle by immediately rallying student activists and adults across the country, mobilizing them around such tragedies and the weapons of war that often facilitate them.

Recent history suggested that such a movement, sure to be unable to keep the public’s attention or exert significant pressure on lawmakers, would collapse almost instantly. Yet, miraculously enough, the same fear — of their school being next — that had kept young Americans paralyzed for almost 20 years was what drove these newly impassioned activists not to back down.

Let me say that, much as I admire them, I look at their remarkable movement from an odd perspective. You see, I grew up in the “school-shooting era” and now work for a non-profit called ReThink Media tracking coverage of the American drone war that has been going on for 17 years.

To me, the U.S. military and CIA drones that hover constantly over eight countries across the Greater Middle East and Africa, and regularly terrorize, maim, and kill civilians, including children, are the equivalents of the disturbed shooters in American schools. But that story is hard to find anywhere in this country. What reports Americans do read about those drone strikes usually focus on successes (a major terrorist taken out in a distant land), not the “collateral damage.”

With that in mind, let me return to those teenage activists against gun violence who quickly grasped three crucial things. The first was that such violence can’t be dealt with by focusing on gun control alone. You also have to confront the other endemic problems exacerbating the gun violence epidemic, including inadequate mental health resources, systemic racism and police brutality, and the depth of economic inequality. As Parkland teen organizer Edna Chavez explained,

“Instead of police officers we should have a department specializing in restorative justice. We need to tackle the root causes of the issues we face and come to an understanding of how to resolve them.”

The second was that, no matter how much you shouted, you had to be aware of the privilege of being heard. In other words, when you shouted, you had to do so not just for yourself but for all those voices so regularly drowned out in this country. After all, black Americans represent the majority of gun homicide victims. Black children are 10 times as likely to die by gun and yet their activism on the subject has been largely demonized or overlooked even as support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students rolled in.

Image on the right: Cruz, Parkland school shooting perpetrator, during his arrest 

The third was that apathy is the enemy of progress, which means that to make change you have to give people a sense of engagement and empowerment. As one of the Parkland students, Emma Gonzalez, put it:

“What matters is that the majority of American people have become complacent in a senseless injustice that occurs all around them.”

Washington’s Expanding Drone Wars

Here’s the irony, though: while those teenagers continue to talk about the repeated killing of innocents in this country, their broader message could easily be applied to another type of violence that, in all these years, Americans have paid next to no attention to: the U.S. drone war.

Unlike school shootings, drone strikes killing civilians in distant lands rarely make the news here, much less the headlines. Most of us at least now know what it means to live in a country where school shootings are an almost weekly news story. Drones are another matter entirely, and beyond the innocents they so regularly slaughter, there are long-term effects on the communities they are attacking.

As Veterans for Peace put it,

“Here at home, deaths of students and others killed in mass shootings and gun violence, including suicide gun deaths, are said to be the price of freedom to bear arms. Civilian casualties in war are written off as ‘collateral damage,’ the price of freedom and U.S. security.”

And yet, after 17 years, three presidents, and little transparency, America’s drone wars have never truly made it into the national conversation. Regularly marketed over those years as “precise” and “surgical,” drones have always been seen by lawmakers as a “sexy,” casualty-free solution to fighting the bad guys, while protecting American blood and treasure.

According to reports, President Trump actually expanded the U.S. global drone war, while removing the last shreds of transparency about what those drones are doing — and even who’s launching them. One of his first orders on entering the Oval Office was to secretly reinstate the CIA’s ability to launch drone strikes that are, in most cases, not even officially acknowledged. And since then, it’s only gotten worse. Just last week, he revoked an Obama-era executive order that required the director of national intelligence to release an annual report on civilian and combatant casualties caused by CIA drones and other lethal operations. Now, not only are the rules of engagement — whom you can strike and under what circumstances — secret, but the Pentagon no longer even reveals when drones have been used, no less when civilians die from them. Because of this purposeful opaqueness, even an estimate of the drone death toll no longer exists.

Still, in the data available on all U.S. airstrikes since Trump was elected, an alarming trend is discernible: there are more of them, more casualties from them, and ever less accountability about them. In Iraq and Syria alone, the monitoring group Airwars believes that the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS is responsible for between 7,468 and 11,841 civilian deaths, around 2,000 of whom were children. (The U.S.-led coalition, however, only admits to killing 1,139 civilians.)

In Afghanistan, the U.N. recently found that U.S. airstrikes (including drone strikes) had killed approximately the same number of Afghan civilians in 2018 as in the previous three years put together. In response to this report, the U.S.-led NATO mission there claimed that “all feasible precautions” were being taken to limit civilian casualties and that it investigates all allegations of their occurrence. According to such NATO investigations, airstrikes by foreign forces caused 117 civilian casualties last year, including 62 deaths — about a fifth of the U.N. tally.

And those are only the numbers for places where Washington is officially at war. In Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya, even less information is available on the number of civilians the U.S. has killed. Experts who track drone strikes in such gray areas of conflict, however, place that number in the thousands, though there is no way to confirm them, as even our military acknowledges. U.S. Army Colonel Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, put it this way last year:

“As far as how do we know how many civilians were killed, I am just being honest, no one will ever know. Anyone who claims they will know is lying, and there’s no possible way.”

After a U.S. strike killed or injured an entire Afghan family, the trauma surgeon treating a four-year-old survivor told NBC,

“I am sad. A young boy with such big injuries. No eyes, brain out. What will be his future?”

In other words, while America’s teenagers fight in the most public way possible for their right to live, a world away Afghanistan’s teenagers are marching for the same thing — except instead of gun control, in that heavily armed land, they want peace.

Trauma Is Trauma Is Trauma

Gun violence — and school shootings in particular — have become the preeminent fear of American teenagers. A Pew poll taken last year found that 57% of teens are worried about a shooting at their school. (One in four are “very worried.”) This is even truer of nonwhite teens, with roughly two-thirds of them expressing such fear.

As one student told Teen Vogue:

“How could you not feel a little bit terrified knowing that it happens so randomly and so often?”

And she’s not exaggerating. More than 150,000 students in the U.S have experienced a shooting on campus since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, considered the first modern mass school shooting.

And in such anticipatory anxiety, American students have much in common with victims of drone warfare. Speaking to researchers from Stanford University, Haroon Quddoos, a Pakistani taxi driver who survived two U.S. drone strikes, explained it this way:

“No matter what we are doing, that fear is always inculcated in us. Because whether we are driving a car, or we are working on a farm, or we are sitting home playing… cards — no matter what we are doing, we are always thinking the drone will strike us. So we are scared to do anything, no matter what.”

Similar symptoms of post-traumatic stress, trauma, and anxiety are commonplace emotions in countries where U.S. drones are active, just as in American communities like Parkland that have lived through a mass shooting. Visiting communities in Yemen that experienced drone strikes, forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld found that 92% of their inhabitants were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, with children the most significantly affected. Psychologists have come up with similar figures when studying both survivors of school shootings and children who have been psychologically affected by school-lockdown drills, by the media’s focus on violence, and by the culture of fear that has developed in response to mass shootings.

The Voices Left Out of the Conversation

The Parkland students have created a coherent movement that brings together an incredibly diverse group united around a common goal and a belief that all gun violence victims, not just those who have experienced a mass shooting, need to be heard. As one Parkland survivor and leader of the March For Our Lives movement, David Hogg, put it, the goal isn’t to talk for different communities, but to let them “speak for themselves and ask them how we can help.”

The Parkland survivors have essentially created an echo chamber, amplifying the previously unheard voices of young African-Americans and Latinos in particular. At last year’s March For Our Lives, for instance, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler started her speech this way:

“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead the evening news.”

In 2016, there were nearly 39,000 gun deaths, more than 14,000 of them homicides and almost 23,000 suicides. Such routine gun violence disproportionately affects black Americans. Mass shootings accounted for only about 1.2% of all gun deaths that year. Yet the Parkland students made headlines and gained praise for their activism — Oprah Winfrey even donated $500,000 to the movement — while black communities that had been fighting gun violence for years never received anything similar.

As someone who spends a lot of her time engrossed in the undercovered news of drone strikes, I can’t help but notice the parallels. Stories about U.S. drone strikes taking out dangerous terrorists proliferate, while reports on U.S.-caused civilian casualties disappear into the void. For example, in January, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command claimed that a precision drone strike finally killed Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi (image on the right), the alleged mastermind behind the deadly October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Within a day, more than 24 media outlets had covered the story.

Few, however, focused on the fact that the U.S. command only claimed al-Badawi’s death was “likely,” despite similar reports about such terrorists that have repeatedly been proven wrong. The British human rights group Reprieve found back in 2014 that even when drone operators end up successfully targeting specific individuals like al-Badawi, they regularly kill vastly more people than their chosen targets. Attempts to kill 41 terror figures, Reprieve reported, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people. That was five years ago, but there’s no reason to believe anything has changed.

In contrast, when a U.S. airstrike — it’s not clear whether it was a drone or a manned aircraft — killed at least 20 civilians in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in December, 2018, only four American media outlets (Reuters, the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the New York Times) covered the story and none followed up with a report on those civilians and their families. That has largely been the norm since the war on terror began with the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In the Trump years so far, while headlines scream about mass school shootings and other slaughters of civilians here, the civilian casualties of America’s wars and the drone strikes that often go with them are, if anything, even more strikingly missing in action in the media.

When Safa al-Ahmad, a journalist for PBS’s Frontline, was asked why she thought it was important to hear from Yemenis experiencing American drone strikes, she responded:

“I think if you’re going to talk about people, you should go talk to them. It’s just basic respect for other human beings. It really bothered me that everyone was just talking about the Americans… The other civilians, they weren’t given any names, they weren’t given any details. It was like an aside to the story… This is part of the struggle when you construct stories on foreign countries, when it comes to the American public. I think we’ve done [Americans] a disservice, by not doing more of this… We impact the world, we should understand it. An informed public is the only way there can be a functioning democracy. That is our duty as a democracy, to be informed.”

This one-sided view of America’s never-ending air wars fails everyone, from the people being asked to carry out Washington’s decisions in those lands to ordinary Americans who have little idea what’s being done in their name to the many people living under those drones. Americans should know that, to them, it’s we who seem like the school shooters of the planet.

Waking Up An Apathetic Nation

For the better part of two decades, young Americans have been trapped in a cycle of violence at home and abroad with little way to speak out. Gun violence in this country was a headline-grabbing given. School shootings, like so many other mass killings here, were deemed “tragic” and worthy of thoughts, prayers, and much fervid media attention, but little else.

Until Parkland.

What changed? Well, a new cohort, Generation Z, came on the scene and, unlike their millennial predecessors, many of them are refusing to accept the status quo, especially when it comes to issues like gun violence.

Every time there was a mass shooting, millennials would hold their breath, wondering if today would be the day the country finally woke up. After Newtown. After San Bernadino. After Las Vegas. And each time, it wasn’t. Parkland could have been the same, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids. Having witnessed the dangers of apathy, Gen-Z seems increasingly to be about movement and action. In fact, in a Vice youth survey, 71% of respondents reported feeling “capable” of enacting change around global warming and 85% felt the same about social problems. And that’s new.

For so long, gun violence seemed like an unstoppable, incurable plague. Fed up with the “adults in the room,” however, these young activists have begun to take matters into their own hands, giving those particularly at risk of gun violence, children, a sense of newfound power — the power to determine their own futures. Whether it’s testifying in front of Congress in the first hearing on gun violence since 2011, protesting at the stores and offices of gun manufacturers, or participating in “die-ins,” these kids are making their voices heard.

Since the Parkland massacre, there has been actual movement on gun control, something that America has not seen for a long time. Under pressure, the Justice Department moved to ban the bump stocks that can make semi-automatic weapons fire almost like machine guns, Florida signed a $400 million bill to tighten the state’s gun laws, companies began to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, and public support grew for stricter gun control laws.

Although the new Gen Z activists have focused on issues close to home, sooner or later they may start to look beyond the water’s edge and find themselves in touch with their counterparts across the globe, who are showing every day how dedicated they are to changing the world they live in, with or without anyone’s help. And if they do, they will find that, in its endless wars, America has been the true school shooter on this planet, terrorizing the global classroom with a remarkable lack of consequences.

In March 2018, according to Human Rights Watch, American planes bombed a school that housed displaced people in Syria, killing dozens of them, including children. Similarly, in Yemen that August, a Saudi plane, using a Pentagon-supplied laser-guided bomb, blew away a school bus, killing 40 schoolchildren. Just as at home, it’s not only about the weaponry like those planes or drones. Activists will find that they have to focus their attention as well on the root causes of such violence and the scars they leave behind in the communities of survivors.

More tolerant, more diverse, less trustful of major institutions and less inclined to believe in American exceptionalism than any generation before them, Generation Z may be primed to care about what their country is doing in their name from Afghanistan to Syria, Yemen to Libya. But first they have to know it’s happening.

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Allegra Harpootlian is a media associate at ReThink Media, where she works with leading experts and organizations at the intersection of national security, politics, and the media. She principally focuses on U.S. drone policies and related use-of-force issues. She is also a political partner with the Truman National Security Project. Find her on Twitter @ally_harp.

Featured image is from Countercurrents

There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s policies, those of the Lima group [1] and the European powers who seek to impose the usurper Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela and do not hesitate to interfere in order to succeed, must be opposed. As usual, Washington and its allies are announcing a humanitarian crisis as a pretext for the threat of military intervention in a country that has important quantities of natural resources that they seek to grab. The trick is cheap and must be shown up for what it is. All the more so, that the mainstream media are conniving to prepare public opinion for this possibility. The situation is presented in the starkest of terms: a catastrophic dictatorial regime refuses to allow humanitarian aid to reach its needy population; whereas the self-proclaimed new President wants freedom for his people and calls for international help to release the aid that is blocked at the frontier, to the population.

This false and misleading image of the situation must be denounced. The Maduro regime is not a dictatorship: opponents may express themselves and call demonstrations, and President Maduro was elected by direct suffrage against opposing candidates. At the same time it is clear that the level of democracy enjoyed in Venezuela during the period that Hugo Chavez was President has withered: when the Maduro government decided to call an election to create a new constituent assembly, the procedure used by Hugo Chavez was not applied. There was no referendum to decide if a general election in order to elect a new constituent assembly was required; the choice of candidates to the assembly was made under pressure from the party and from Maduro. Over the last few years several popular demonstrations have been repressed.

On the other hand, one must not go to the other extreme and hold that what is happening in Venezuela is solely because of manipulation by foreign enemies of the Bolivarian process. Of course the measures taken by Trump since 2017, and the previous less aggressive measures by Obama, [2] cause great difficulties to the authorities and the economy of the country. There is however a measure of responsibility of the Maduro government and the new Bolivarian bourgeoisie that has emerged and prospered in the wake of the new government and President Maduro’s PSUV party. The root of the problems goes back a long way.

Beyond the discourse of “21st Century Socialism”, no real anti-capitalist measures were ever taken in Venezuela and the government largely allowed the local capitalist class to maintain its control over the industrial, financial and distribution sectors of the economy. A large space was also left open to big foreign capital from the US, Canada, Russia, China and Brazil. The effort to diversify the economy was insufficiently developed, so the country has remained heavily dependent on oil and raw material exports. Public participation in policy making was also insufficient and a new sector of privileged bourgeois parasites has appeared, known as the “Boli-bourgeoisie”. [3]

A previous article published on 28 January 2019, five days after Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself President in place of Maduro, [4] made several criticisms:

“his continuing to repay external debt instead of declaring a moratorium and using the financial resources that would thus be freed up to do more to relieve the humanitarian crisis the Venezuelan people are now suffering. In 2016 the CADTM had called on the Venezuelan government to conduct an audit of the debt with citizen participation (CADTM AYNA appeals to the Venezuelan government to set up a Citizens’ Debt Audit and offers its support). Other critiques of the Maduro government’s policies coming from the Left are also justified: its failure to combat the capital flight organised with the complicity of the highest authorities of the administration and the government; the continuance of the extractivist exportation model, encouraging exhaustion of the country’s natural resources; the repression against trade unionists and other activists; the development of policies of clientelism and a Constituent Assembly whose actual operation does not live up to the hopes its election had raised.”

These are serious criticisms and they cannot be left unanswered.

At the same time, it is absolutely certain that the proposals made by Juan Guaidó and his supporters are not compatible with the needs of Venezuela and of maintaining its sovereignty. Guiado wants to facilitate the exploitation of the country’s natural resources and manpower by local and foreign corporations. A victory by Guiado would mean Venezuela would sink into the debt system to the advantage of its domestic creditors (the old Establishment and the new Boli-bourgeoisie who purchased Venezuelan debt meaning to profit at the expense of the people) and foreign investors such as big American and European banks and Russian and Chinese corporations, to mention just a few. Guaidó would not end corruption nor the flight of capital or speculation on food and medicine prices. Guaidó represents the traditional idle rich Venezuelan Establishment who have never been interested in developing the Venezuelan economy and whose interests are the opposite to those of the vast majority of the people. An elite who is happy to export the country’s raw materials and import more or less everything else the country needs. An elite that is favourable to paying the foreign and domestic debt, as they are among the holders of the titles.

But beyond all that, another fundamental factor needs to be taken into account: Guaidó’s attempted coup can succeed only if foreign powers intervene directly and succeed in buying off a part of the army (which Trump has made no bones about wanting to do) and fighting the remaining part. If the intervention now being prepared for is not halted, there will be dramatic consequences for the people of Venezuela, for the entire continent and internationally. The Latin American governments who are allied with Washington against Venezuela are ultra-reactionary. The very names of heads of state such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Iván Duque in Colombia, Jimmy Morales in Guatemala, Martín Vizcarra in Peru, Juan Carlos Varela in Panama and Sebastián Piñera in Chile are synonymous with reactionism. And of course the European powers, in a parade led by France, Germany, the UK and Spain, fearful that they might miss an opportunity to get a piece of Venezuela’s natural wealth, have rushed to get in line behind the United States and recognize Guaidó. The former colonial powers must be denounced for conducting such policies while at the same time not hesitating for a moment to lend their support to true dictatorships like that of Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt, Idriss Déby in Chad, and Mohammed Ben Salman in Saudi Arabia, who is killing the people of Yemen and had an opposition journalist literally butchered in his embassy in Istanbul. The government of the State of Israel, which is responsible for war crimes against the Palestinian people, also supports Guaidó. The dominant media repeat as if by rote that the “international community” supports Guaidó, without mentioning the fact that sixty countries have announced that they continue to recognize the Maduro government. Only fifty support Guaidó. Note that the Centre-Left governments of Mexico and Uruguay refuse to fall in line with the Lima Group countries and have offered to act as mediators – a fact very rarely mentioned in the press.

For all these reasons, working-class political movements must refuse any contact with Guaidó and his backers. Guaidó must be unequivocally denounced and combated as a putschist, a representative of big capital and a traitor to the Venezuelan nation because he has called for armed intervention from Washington and its allies. And, faced with threats of a foreign intervention that is anything but imaginary, there is no other choice than to try to organize as broad a front as possible to oppose it. Of course, to avoid an escalation of the conflict, the two opposing camps must negotiate; but working-class political movements must refuse to meet with Guaidó, since he would only instrumentalize them to cloak himself with legitimacy. They must also maintain their autonomy and their ability to criticize the Maduro government.

Faced with the various forms of aggression adopted by Washington and its allies, and in order to improve living conditions for the people of Venezuela, the Maduro government should apply the proposals made by the Venezuelan economist Simón Andrés Zúñiga in an article entitled “Venezuela: El bloqueo y pirateo de fondos obligan a una moratoria de la deuda” (“The blockade and the theft of government funds demand a debt moratorium” – also available in French.

The author of the article begins by stating:

“The stratagem of ‘humanitarian aid’ must not be underestimated, because it is one of the most powerful political tools for ideological manipulation used by the forces who are prepared to crush any expression of sovereignty and independence. They want to convince the population, or a large part of the population, that the government is violating human rights by refusing to let the invaders pass.”

Zúñiga warns:

“Papering over the objective conditions the working population is suffering under is a suicidal attitude, the equivalent of running away from reality. It’s quite simple: the price of a medication in a pharmacy can easily be in excess of two week’s or a month’s wages for working men and women, and that can be seen on the cash-register receipt.”

The article proposes that “…against the Trojan horse of ‘humanitarian aid’ promoted by the US and its allies to justify violating and taking control of Venezuelan territory, while at the same time fraudulently blocking access to Venezuela’s sovereign deposits and assets, the government should organise a mobilisation of the people in solidarity, involving all organisations and communities, in order to meet priority health and nutritional needs as well as organise to resist the criminal siege.

This should be done by means of a broad appeal for participation by all sectors in determining priorities for the use and control of existing resources. It would be an agenda of solidarity and support with broad popular participation, as opposed to the mendacious and cynical ‘humanitarian aid’ agenda.” The proposals contained in the balance of the article, which we can support, can be summed up roughly as follows. We have added certain items while keeping the content of the proposals intact. Obviously applying them would require a change of direction, and depends on the will as well as the ability of the people’s movements to make them their own and insist that they be applied. Unfortunately it seems improbable that they will take concrete form, but they do show that there is a way out of the humanitarian crisis.

1. Faced with the aggressive measures taken by foreign powers who have not hesitated to confiscate assets of the Republic of Venezuela deposited abroad and which are necessary for maintaining commercial exchanges, the government must declare a suspension of repayment of foreign debt.

We would add that international law permits a country facing an emergency situation, for example a humanitarian crisis, to decree a unilateral moratorium on debt repayment (without accumulation of interest or late penalties). And since in addition Venezuela is faced with measures of the type taken unilaterally by Washington without consulting the UN, a unilateral act of suspension of debt repayment is all the more justified.

2. Rather than use its low reserves of hard currencies for repayment of the debt, the government must use them to meet the fundamental needs of the population. As Zúñiga puts it: “The health and nourishment of the people must take priority over repayment of foreign debt.”

3. The moratorium would be accompanied by an open, detailed public audit which, without doubt, would throw light on the numerous manoeuvres and illegal capital flight that have taken place under the protection of the private financial system and of some of the country’s authorities.

4. There are political and economic reasons and legal precedent for supporting a decision of this scope. Unilaterally declaring a moratorium on debt and conducting an audit would be proof of determination to put priorities back in the proper order. The priority use of the nation’s resources must not be to repay debt, but rather to improve the dramatic living conditions being endured by a large part of the population. By suspending repayment, the government of Venezuela would be in a position of strength in its relationship with its creditors.

5. The suspension of debt repayment would apply to all debts issued by the national government and by PDVSA [the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company].

6. The implementation of an emergency plan for acquisition of food and medicines for the benefit of the population is inevitable. Simultaneously, financial resources must be invested in developing production of food and medicine at the national level. Priority must be given to local producers.

7. A solidarity plan for distributing medicines and care for persons suffering from serious diseases such as diabetes, cancer, renal failure, Parkinson’s disease and HIV/AIDS, among others, which require ongoing and stable treatment, must be implemented immediately. The same goes for the basic medicines needed by the population. A special effort must be made for the people of Amazonia, who are living with an epidemic of malaria.

8. The government and a front made up of forces opposed to foreign interference must take on this task massively, including both those affected and popular organisations. This inclusive and unifying strategy requires breaking with the culture of paternalism, mystification, clientelism and electoralism which characterises many countries, Venezuela among them. All forces that oppose foreign interference, without exception, must be called to unite. A popular mobilisation is possible and necessary, and if it is led by a broad front it can obtain immediate and effective results to ease the current health and nutritional emergency and the very real threat of outside intervention.

9. These measures and the necessary mobilization must and can be supported by a programme that will multiply resources in order to denounce the masquerade of the fake “humanitarian-aid” programme, which amounts to a miserable 20 million dollars.

10. In the case of certain medicines, the plan must overcome the dependence on importsand move towards producing basic medicines nationally. In that sector, the accent should be put not only on the finished products, but also on acquisition of the necessary active substances and on domestic production, which would promote the use of nationally-produced medicines instead of imported ones.

11. Eliminate the Ministry of Food and Nutrition, which has become an anarchic tangle of blind importations (and a haemorrhage of foreign currencies) and contributes to the destruction of domestic food production. The idea is to centralise policies for promoting and supporting the agricultural sector, both plant and animal, in one place. This entity must have a coherent, coordinated and complete vision of the agricultural sector.

12. Foreign trade must be publicly controlled and information on all transactions must be made transparent.

13. The Communal Councils [the basic structure of the country since 2006 [5]] must play a predominant role in agricultural production. In fact, certain Councils have brought about major improvements in productivity and political awareness.

In another context, several of the proposals listed above had been put forward by the Venezuela Citizens’ Debt Audit Platform in 2016-2017. The platform proposed suspending repayment of the debt and conducting a public debt audit with citizen participation with the support of the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM) and the participation of social movements and citizen organizations. Paulino Núñez and Oly Millán Campos explain: “The goal is to determine what share of the debt is odious and illegitimate and therefore must be cancelled before any debt restructuring. Rather than giving priority to debt servicing by the government, the many health and nutrition problems the Venezuelan people are experiencing must be addressed.” Venezuela : la dette comme expression d’un modèle d’extraction de capitaux permanente et délictueuse (in French). CADTM members in Venezuela have been campaigning for 20 years for an audit of the debt, and since 2016-2017 have called for suspension of payment in the face of the humanitarian crisis affecting the majority of the country’s population.

Given the seriousness of the situation of Venezuela’s people, there should be no hesitation in adopting the proposed suspension of debt repayment in order to create an emergency fund for purchase of medicines and foodstuffs.

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Translation by Snake Arbusto, Vicki Briault and Mike Krolikowski pour le CADTM where this article was originally published.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc.

Notes

[1] The Lima Group is at present mainly composed of the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. Mexico has stepped back from the informal group since it decided to support the putschist Guaidó.

[2] Economic and financial sanctions were started by Trump in August 2017 : https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-41055728 Under the Obama administration sanctions were aimed at the Venezuelan personalities in December 2014: https://apnews.com/16e5cb67ca184b7aaa32ded6c777c72a They were started in 2015: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-usa-visas/u-s-slaps-visa-restrictions-on-current-former-venezuelan-officials-idUSKBN0L620D20150202

On 8 March 2015 Obama declared that Venezuela was a menace to the United States: https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/ee-uu-/23336/obama-ordena-nuevas-sanciones-contra-venezuela

and Trump prolonged the decree:

https://www.dw.com/es/extiende-trump-decreto-que-declara-a-venezuela-amenaza-para-ee-uu/a-42808304

(All links in Spanish)

[3] See my critique of the limits of the Venezuelan policies, published in 2009: Changements en cours au Venezuela en 2008 – 2009 (in French) And this article on the failure of the constitutional revision published in 2007: The failure of 2 December 2007 can be a powerful lever for improving the process currently unfolding in Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela

[5] The institution of the Communal Councils (Consejos Municipales) in 2006, under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, was strongly characterised by a desire to make citizen participation part of the process of conceiving and executing local policies. The law on Communal Councils or Ley de los consejos municipales (LCC) was adopted on 7 April 2006 (see http://www.tecnoiuris.com/venezuela/gaceta-oficial/administrativo/ley-de-los-consejos-comunales.html )

The government of Hugo Chávez placed high hopes on these Councils, which it saw as “the basic territorial units of popular participation and self-government.” The power granted the Communal Councils is not negligible, since it empowers a “community” to propose and carry out a project which, beginning with the first year, can amount to 30 million bolivars (which at the time was equivalent to around 10 million euros). The Communal Councils have lost their vitality little by little; now is the time to breathe new life into them.

Featured image is from CADTM

In all the press coverage of the “the SNC-Lavalin affair,” not enough attention has been paid to the company’s involvement in Site C – the contentious $11 billion dam being constructed in B.C.’s Peace River valley.

The Liberals say that any pressure they put on Jody Wilson-Raybould to rubber-stamp a “deferred prosecution agreement” for SNC-Lavalin was to protect jobs at the company. But the pressure may have been to protect something much bigger: the Liberals’ vision for Canada’s future. Site C epitomises that vision.

The “Many Lives” of Site C

Birthed in 1959 on the drawing boards of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and BC Electric (then owned by Montreal-based Power Corp), the Site C dam has been declared dead, then alive, then dead again several times over the next five decades until 2010, when BC Premier Gordon Campbell announced that Site C would proceed. [1]

Tracking SNC-Lavalin’s involvement in Site C during recent years has been difficult, but Charlie Smith, editor of The Georgia Straight, has filled in some of the missing information.

Site C dam is located in British Columbia

Site C dam (Source: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sometime in 2007, the Site C dam project was quietly moved to Stage 2 of a five-stage process. Smith wrote,

“SNC-Lavalin and Klohn Crippen Berger were prime consultants for Stage 2 of the Site C project. This had to occur before the project could proceed to Stage 3 in the five-stage planning process. The decision to advance to Stage 3 was based on a prediction in the Stage 2 report that demand for B.C. electricity will increase 20 to 40 percent over the next 20 years. ‘As extensive as BC Hydro’s hydroelectric assets are, they will not be enough to provide future British Columbians with electricity self-sufficiency if demand continues to grow as projected,’ the Stage 2 report [Fall, 2009] declared. Bingo. This gave the pro-Site C politicians in the B.C. Liberal party … all the justification they needed.” [2]

On April 19, 2010 Premier Campbell announced that Site C would proceed. At the time, Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation called the entire five-stage process a “’farce,’ and said the government hadn’t finished the second stage of the development process, so he doesn’t know how it can go ahead to the third. Willson said First Nations in the area haven’t seen studies on land use, wildlife, the fishery or the cultural significance of the region, and the process can’t move on to environmental assessments [Stage 3] without that work.” [3]

Nevertheless, the process did move on, and SNC-Lavalin may have been involved in the next stage of the planning process, as well. The Dogwood Institute recently reported that SNC Lavalin was “an environmental consultant for Site C.” [4]

Image result for Gwyn Morgan SNC

In 2011, SNC-Lavalin Chair Gwyn Morgan (image on the right) became an advisor to BC Liberal leadership winner Christy Clark during her transition to the premiership. Morgan had joined the SNC-Lavalin board in 2005 and was chair of the company from 2007 until 2013.  As The Tyee reported in 2014,

“Morgan retired in May 2013, the month after SNC-Lavalin agreed to a 10-year corruption-related ban from the World Bank related to a power project in Cambodia and a bridge in Bangladesh. Among the SNC-Lavalin companies on the World Bank [corruption] blacklist are divisions involved in publicly funded B.C. projects like the Bill Bennett Bridge, Canada Line and Evergreen Line.” [5]

Going Forward

At the time of Gwyn Morgan’s 2013 retirement from the SNC-Lavalin Chairmanship, the company was being investigated in at least ten countries, including: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. [6]

While we have no way of knowing whether Gwyn Morgan, as an advisor to Christy Clark as of 2011, in any way lobbied on behalf of SNC-Lavalin, we do know that “Morgan’s personal, family and corporate donations to the BC Liberals totalled more than $1.5 million.” [7]

At the same time, in 2011 SNC-Lavalin had won the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Newfoundland. But the company was apparently so “distracted” by corruption charges internationally that eventually crown utility Nalcor had to take over the project, which went way over budget and is now the subject of an inquiry. [8]

That didn’t dissuade the B.C. Premier from going forward. On December 16, 2014, the Christy Clark provincial government gave approval for Site C, despite recommendations by the Joint Review Panel (JRP), which had concluded two months previous that Site C’s hydropower was not needed in the time-frame that BC Hydro was arguing. (Recall that the Stage 2 report had claimed a 20-40% increase in demand over the next 20 years.) JRP member Harry Swain had concluded that demand for electricity in B.C. has been flat dating back to 2005.

While the newly elected B.C. NDP government in 2017 debated the cancellation or suspension of Site C, the Financial Post reported that Montreal’s SNC-Lavalin is “part of the lead design team for the [Site C] project.” [9] That little-known contract may have been signed much earlier.

On February 21, 2018 the Journal of Commerce reported on the progress being made by Site C’s lead design team, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and Klohn Crippen Berger and involving “approximately 40-plus engineers, nine modellers and 15 drafters”. [10] SNC-Lavalin Building Information Modeling (BIM) Manager Rodrigo Freig told the Journal that,

“In three years and 43 models later, we only had two model crashes, related to slow server speeds.” [11]

That comment would suggest that the lead design contract had quietly been issued to SNC-Lavalin and Klohn Crippen Berger sometime in 2015.

A few days ago (March 7), the Canadian Press reported:

“SNC-Lavalin is working on the five biggest infrastructure projects in Canada, according to trade magazine ReNew Canada. Those contracts alone amount of $52.8 billion, and include projects for Bruce Power and the Darlington nuclear plant in Ontario as well as the Site C dam in B.C.” [12]

While the exact amount of the Site C lead design contract is not known, it is likely at least $1 billion in B.C. taxpayer dollars. If the lead design contract was indeed issued in 2015, this would fit with Christy Clark’s effort to push the project past “the point of no return.”    

Help From Trudeau

In February 2015, under the Harper government, federal fraud and corruption charges were filed against three of SNC-Lavalin’s legal entities over its dealings in Libya. But after the Trudeau Liberals were elected in Fall 2015, the company “signed a deal with Ottawa that will allow the engineering and construction company to continue bidding on federal contracts until criminal charges it faces are resolved.” [13]

As we know now, SNC-Lavalin also began lobbying extensively for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) that would effectively free the company of charges without forcing it to admit wrongdoing. In exchange, the company would pay a fine and prove that it has changed its practices to prevent a repeat of any wrongdoing. The Trudeau government quietly inserted changes to the criminal code allowing for DPAs in its 2018 Budget. According to recent report by the Buffalo Chronicle (March 11), SNC-Lavalin’s in-house attorney Frank Iacobucci “was instrumental in persuading” Trudeau to insert that new legal provision into the budget bill. [14]

The Buffalo Chronicle also notes that in October 2018, Trudeau asked Iacobucci to lead the government’s negotiations with indigenous communities in B.C. regarding the TransMountain Pipeline expansion project – a project that SNC-Lavalin hopes to construct.  Quoting an unnamed source, the Chronicle states:

“Iacobucci, who was already angry that [Jody] Wilson-Raybould was refusing to allow his client [SNC-Lavalin] to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement, feared that his consultations in British Columbia could be construed as improper. He would only agree to take the role on the condition that Trudeau replaced her with a ‘more doting’ Member of Parliament.” [15]

The full story of Iacobucci’s role in the SNC-Lavalin scandal has yet to emerge, but it’s clear that the Trudeau government has been exceedingly accommodating to the company’s wishes.

The Georgia Straight’s Charlie Smith has further spelled out the Trudeau government’s help:

“Keep in mind that Trudeau helped SNC-Lavalin with its World Bank problem by endorsing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This entity was created by China as a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank on infrastructure financing. SNC-Lavalin might be debarred from World Bank financings, but it can bid on AIIB-backed projects. Trudeau also helped SNC-Lavalin and other companies involved in huge public projects by creating the Canada Infrastructure Bank. And the Trudeau government accelerated construction of the Site C dam by awarding federal permits over the opposition of First Nations in the area.” [16]

Bulk Water Export

In two slightly different chapters within two recent books, I have argued that the Site C dam on the Peace River is perfectly placed to facilitate bulk water export east of the Rockies and into the American Southwest. Readers can consult my Chapter 10, “Water Export: The Site C End-Game” in editor Wendy Holm’s Damming the Peace: The Hidden Costs of the Site C Dam (Lorimer 2018), and the chapter entitled “Site C and NAWAPA: Continental Water Sharing” in my latest book Bypassing Dystopia: Hope-filled Challenges to Corporate Rule (Watershed Sentinel Books 2018).

SNC-Lavalin’s involvement in Site C has been so well-hidden that the company name does not appear anywhere in Damming the Peace. But by the time I was writing the water-chapter for my own book, SNC-Lavalin’s connections to Site C were becoming clear enough for me to state that the company “is intricately involved in Site C”. Only now are we learning just how involved they are.

SNC-Lavalin has had its eye on continental water-sharing for at least three decades. Back in the 1980s the SNC Group (as it was called at the time) was part of a consortium called Grandco, which was promoting a continental water-sharing plan entitled the Grand Canal Project. Grandco’s other consortium members included the UMA Group of Calgary, Underwood McLellan Ltd. of Saskatoon, Rousseau, Sauve & Warren Inc. of Montreal, and Bechtel Canada Ltd. (son of U.S. Bechtel, the world’s largest engineering firm).

Grandco’s head lobbyist was Canadian financier Simon Reisman (uncle of current Bilderberg member Heather Reisman). After Simon Reisman publicly advocated for Canadian water export, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (himself an advocate for large-scale water exports) appointed him as Chief Negotiator for the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the predecessor to NAFTA, signed by Jean Chretien in 1994. Both the FTA and NAFTA essentially strip Canada’s sovereign right to protect our water resources and make Canada vulnerable to massive water export.

While Site C may provide energy and water for fracking in B.C. and potentially for tar sands mining in Alberta, in the long term the “end-game” of Site C, according to Wendy Holm, is water export because that freshwater water “will have a far higher value” than oil and gas. The vast 83-kilometres-long reservoir needed for the Site C dam will submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites (including burial grounds) and flood about 3,816 hectares (9,430 acres) of prime agricultural land in the Peace River Valley

A similar scenario is being played out in Quebec with Hydro-Quebec’s massive $5 billion Romaine Complex, which is damming the River Romaine and flooding 100 square miles of land; in Newfoundland where the Muskrat Falls mega-dam project “boondoggle” is now the subject of a public inquiry; in Manitoba where several mega-dam projects are poised to flood First Nations land.

Now, thanks to the Trudeau government’s Mid-Century Long-term Strategy, that same scenario is poised to repeat itself many times in the coming years.

Long-Term Strategy

In 2017, the Trudeau government released its Mid-Century Long-Term Strategy (MCS) intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) at rates to comply with its Paris Climate commitments.

Scientist David Schindler has summarized the MCS:

“In brief, Canada has agreed to reduce its GHG emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, using 2005 emissions as a baseline. This sounds wonderful, until one reads how this is to be done, as described in the report. All the scenarios used to achieve the miraculous carbon reduction goals rely on replacing fossil fuels by generating massive amounts of hydroelectric power, which is assumed to emit no GHG. … The required hydro development would require the equivalent of building over one hundred Site C dams in the next thirty-two years, an extraordinary plan…” [17]

Once all that water has been impounded behind the dams, it is subject to NAFTA treatment (including in the rewritten USMCA agreement) as a tradable “good” or commodity. Chrystia Freeland and the negotiators for the USMCA did not secure an explicit exemption for water under the goods, services, and investment provisions of the deal. According to Bill C-6 (which became law in 2001), as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Freeland has water-export licensing authority and can issue permits for water export.

As I explain in some detail in Damming the Peaceand Bypassing Dystopia, massive drought and over-use of freshwater in the Colorado River region and in the U.S. Southwest have prompted big investors like the Blackstone Group (with Brian Mulroney on its board) to look north for water-investment opportunities. The Blackstone Group has been involved in water issues for years, and in 2014 it announced a new portfolio company called Global Water Development Partners to “identify, develop, finance, construct, and operate large-scale independent water development projects.”

The Blackstone Group is just one of many investment firms eyeing Canada’s freshwater resources. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch – which designed the Canada Infrastructure Bank – has predicted a global water market worth $1 trillion by 2020.

Obviously, SNC-Lavalin wants to be in on all that MCS hydroelectric development and other projects to be financed by Trudeau’s Canada Infrastructure Bank in the coming years. But if they have to face prosecution, the company risks being barred from federal contracts for ten years.

The Trudeau government says it is attempting to protect SNC-Lavalin jobs. That may be true, but it is also likely that the Trudeau government is attempting to protect its long-term vision for Canada: a vision that jettisons “reconciliation” and the environment in favour of damming the country and then draining it.

Freshwater has been turned into a commodity and it will be worth far more than oil or gold in the near future. Follow the money. That’s what SNC-Lavalin is doing.

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Joyce Nelson is the author of seven books, including Beyond Banksters and its sequel Bypassing Dystopia. She can be reached via www.joycenelson.ca

Notes

[1] “The Site C Dam: a Timeline,” The Narwhal, December 12, 2017.

[2] Charlie Smith, “Does Andrew Weaver’s response to Site C justify his removal as head of the B.C. Greens?” The Georgia Straight, December 15, 2017.

[3] Quoted in “Site C dam project moving forward on Peace River,” The Canadian Press, April 19, 2010.

[4] Lisa Sammartino, “SNC-Lavalin tentacles reach deep into B.C.,” dogwoodbc.ca, February 25, 2019.

[5] Bob Mackin, “Ex-Head of Troubled SNC-Lavalin Named Chair of BC Crown Corp,” The Tyee, May 5, 2014.

[6] “Public Risks, Private Profits: Profiles of Canada’s Public-Private Partnership Industry,” Polaris Institute & CUPE, June 2013.

[7] Sammartino, op. cit.

[8] Andrew Nikiforuk, “Redeemable? SNC-Lavalin’s Criminal Record,” The Tyee, February 22, 2019.

[9] Jesse Snyder, “’It’s going to cost a fortune’: Cancellation of $8.8B Site C dam would scrap billions of dollars in contract work,” The Financial Post, June 2, 2017.

[10] Warren Frey, “UPDATED: Site C’s virtual construction a complicated endeavour,” Journal of Commerce, February 21, 2018.

[11] Quoted in ibid.

[12] Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press, “Here’s what a 10-year ban on federal contract bids would mean for SNC-Lavalin,” Toronto Star, March 7, 2019.

[13] Ross Marowits, “SNC-Lavalin Gets OK From Ottawa To Bid on Contracts, Despite Criminal Charges,” The Canadian Press, December 10, 2015.

[14] “’Political grandmaster’ Frank Iacobucci is at the center of SNC Lavalin, Kinder Morgan scandals,” The Buffalo Chronicle, March 11, 2019.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Smith, op. cit.

[17] David Schindler, “Will Canada’s Future Be Dammed? Site C Could Be the Tip of the Iceberg,” chapter in Wendy Holm, editor, Damming the Peace: The Hidden Costs of the Site C Dam, Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2018.

Featured image is from HuffPost Canada

Buying Back the “Iron Dome” from Israel

March 13th, 2019 by Philip Giraldi

Even if one spends years exploring the dark corners infested by Israel’s agents and its diaspora proxies in their successful effort to control much of Capitol Hill and the White House, it is still possible to be shocked by the effrontery of what many have dubbed the 51st state.

In early February, the U.S. Army announced that it would be buying Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system to protect American troops against incoming rockets, artillery shells, and mortar rounds. The sale means that the United States, which has the largest and most advanced defense industries in the world, is now agreeing to buy some of its military hardware from Israel rather than producing its own equivalent version.

The Iron Dome was developed and produced by Israeli government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems company with some assistance from Raytheon in the United States. It has been operational since 2011 and was deployed to intercept mostly homemade incoming rockets from Hamas during Israel’s large-scale ground and air attacks on Gaza in 2012 and 2014 as well as in the more recent bloody clashes along the border fences that separate Israel from Gaza, which have killed nearly 3,000 Arabs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inevitably took credit for the sale, describing it as “a great achievement for Israel and yet another expression of the strengthening of our powerful alliance with the U.S.” The U.S. Army is committed to buy two Iron Dome batteries for deployment next year for $373 million as a first phase of a possible $1.7 billion procurement to develop an enhanced mobile missile defense capability. It is believed that the purchase could lead to far bigger deals if Rafael proves able to upgrade Iron Dome to defeat the more complex battlefield threats envisioned by the Pentagon.

There are a number of problems related to the agreement to purchase Iron Dome. First of all, there is some dispute about whether it actually works. Israeli government sources unsurprisingly claim that it does, but some critics believe that its actual success rate might be considerably lower than the 90% that is being claimed by Rafael and by the Israeli government based on 1,700 reported interceptions. It has been observed that intercepting an incoming bottle rocket is a relatively easy task compared to an artillery or mortar round, which have lower trajectories and less flight time, making locking in the system’s radar more difficult. And, as Iron Dome has not been used with any frequency against enemies firing military-grade rockets, mortars or artillery, so the testing of it has not been fully subjected to the actual field conditions if the U.S. Army were to deploy the system.

The second problem involves the purchase itself. According to a report examining the Iron Dome project, the United States has already provided at least $5.5 billion of the development costs of the system since it was first proposed in 2010. In 2018, Congress provided an additional $705 million to the Israeli government for various missile defense projects, which included Iron Dome. That means that Washington is buying back a system that it paid to develop and is therefore paying for it twice. This is a wonderful way to do business for Israel, but it is a complete rip-off of the American taxpayer. The fact that no one in Congress is complaining is perhaps attributable to the willingness of the government to do favors for Israel, including favors that undercut the U.S.’s own defense industries, as Israel will undoubtedly use reports of the sale to boost its own efforts to market the product worldwide.

A third problem is the cost effectiveness of the system, even if it does work. Each Iron Dome battery will cost close to $125 million, but actually using the system is also expensive. Each Iron Dome-compatible Israeli-developed Tamir missile costs between $50,000 and $150,000, and two are normally used to counter each incoming target. In operations against homemade rockets emanating from Gaza, that means that $100,000-$300,000 is spent to destroy a projectile that might have cost less than $1,000 to make if one is dealing with resistance groups, insurgencies, or terrorist organizations that might be improvising their armaments. And, as the supply of missiles is depleted either in training or in actual combat, it will be necessary to go back to Israel for more, creating a regular cash flow for government-owned Rafael.

When all is said and done, if the U.S. Army has no defense against low-level missile and projectile attacks and Iron Dome is the only tested option available, then there would be a certain desirability to obtain the system for deployment in parts of the world where the military faces that kind of threat. But, as is often the case when it comes to Israel, one has to suspect that politics are quite likely behind the purchase, most particularly in the form of Pentagon officials and congressmen who are desirous of enhancing the benefit packages that Israel receives from U.S. taxpayers.

The bottom line should be the bottom line. If the United States has contributed more than $6 billion to the development of Israel’s military antimissile defenses and actually needs Iron Dome, there should be payback. The two batteries should be freely provided to the U.S. Army as a thank you from the grateful people of Israel for the unprecedented financial aid totaling $134 billion since 1948, as well as the virtually unlimited political cover for Israel’s bad behavior that the American people have provided for the past 70-plus years. Perhaps someone on Capitol Hill or in the White House should remind Netanyahu of the $38 billion that Congress has just approved for Israel on top of all the money that has already gone to Iron Dome. This presents a wonderful opportunity for Israel to finally demonstrate its willingness to do something for the United States, a reciprocity which its powerful American lobby always boasts about but which has never actually been the case in practice.

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This article was originally published on American Free Press.

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

Featured image is from American Free Press

Musician Stephen Travers hopes a new documentary on a notorious massacre in the north of Ireland during the Troubles will lead to justice almost 50 years later.

In a new Netflix documentary released later this month he says that the 1975 Miami Showband Massacre was not a random sectarian attack but was masterminded by British intelligence services.

Three members of the band, one of Ireland’s most popular, were killed in the attack by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

They were heading to Dublin in their van when they were stopped by uniformed men at what looked like a random army checkpoint near Newry in Co Down and shot.

Bass player Mr Travers had only joined the band six weeks earlier. He tells how the “soldiers” fitted a bomb underneath the van which detonated early.

Watch the trailer below.

The blast and subsequent shootings left three band members dead: Brian McCoy, Tony Geraghty and lead singer Fran O’Toole, who was shot 22 times at close range.

Mr Travers believes the band was deliberately targeted due to its popularity among Irish nationalists.

He claimed the killings were masterminded by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force’s brigadier Robin “the Jackal” Jackson, working closely with British intelligence services. At least four of the gunmen were soldiers from the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

The shady Glennane Gang, a secret informal alliance of loyalists who carried out killings of Catholics and nationalists, have been implicated in the killings. Members are thought to have acted as double agents for British military intelligence.

“We were targeted because the British wanted our government to seal the border so that the IRA wouldn’t be able to cross easily into the relative safety of the south after committing some sort of atrocity,” Mr Travers told the Belfast Telegraph.

He said the band would have been branded terrorists, with guns planted in the van, had the bomb not exploded early.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s historical inquiries team, which was disbanded in 2014, confirmed Mr Jackson’s involvement in the killings.

His fingerprints were found on a pistol used in the attack. But British army officer Robert Nairac was cleared of involvement.

Mr Travers, however, remains sceptical of the team’s findings, “because they were answerable to the British government.”

Nearly 50 years after the slaughter he hopes the new film will open the door to investigations into the killings.

“I’m not going to go away. I’m looking for the truth,” he said.

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On January 15, Theresa May’s no-deal/deal was overwhelmingly defeated by a 432 – 202 margin – the greatest rejection of a UK leader’s legislative aim in modern times.

As expected on March 12, parliamentarians again rejected her no-Brexit/Brexit deal by a 391 – 242 margin against it.

The vote followed May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s announced last-minute tweaking of the deal rejected in January. The Irish Times explained it as follows, saying:

“Theresa May on Monday night accepted from the EU a package of assurances, including enhanced legal commitments on the (Irish border) backstop (assuring no hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland), that she said would allow her to put the Brexit withdrawal agreement to MPs on Tuesday.”

They’ll be “no further changes,” Juncker warned. It’s “this deal or” no deal. Plan A and B were largely identical, last minute changes too insignificant to matter.

Irish backstop concessions offered are temporary, not a permanent guarantee against a hard border if Britain leaves the EU, what’s looking increasingly unlikely.

May agreed on a deal critics called capitulation to Brussels, economic powerhouse Germany having most say on its terms. They involve Britain remaining more in than withdrawn from the EU if Brexit occurs.

The deal calls for the UK remaining in the EU customs union, Brussels and Berlin retaining control. A number of May’s ministers resigned over her deal, refusing to support capitulation to EU authorities.

A March 29 deadline approaches – when negotiating a withdrawal agreement is supposed to end unless an extension is agreed on, what seems likely as time is running out.

Two additional votes are scheduled this week. On Wednesday MPs will vote up or down on whether to leave the EU without a deal – a so-called hard Brexit, virtually certain to be rejected.

On Thursday, a second vote will be held on extending the March 29 deadline for additional weeks (likely no later than completion of European Parliament elections on May 26) – subject to unanimous approval by EU member states.

What UK/EU negotiations failed to accomplish after most Brits voted to leave the bloc on June 23, 2016 isn’t likely to change in the coming weeks or months.

May is highly unlikely to seek a third vote on her twice-rejected no-Brexit/Brexit scheme. Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox called May’s Plan B virtually “unchanged” from Plan A, assuring its defeat by a wide margin.

Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed May’s Plan B, saying

“(a)fter three months of running down the clock, the prime minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the withdrawal agreement.”

How things play out in ahead remain uncertain. Despite expressing support for Brexit as prime minister, May opposed it as home secretary.

As things now stand, her no-Brexit/Brexit deal is the only option, twice rejected by parliament.

When the dust fully settles in the weeks and months ahead, the UK may remain an EU member – my best guess on what’s coming.

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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.

Lies in the Branding: Justin Trudeau’s Implosion

March 13th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“Trudeau came out and asked for strong women, and he got them.” – Michelle Rempel, Conservative Party MP, The Atlantic, Mar 12, 2019

The gods have various roles, and most of them are intrusively irritating. They select humans, and drive them mad.  They select them for special missions, praise them and drive them to death.  They also select them to, if the time comes, commit foolish suicide.  The going might be good for a time, but they shall utterly be vanquished, mortal snots that they are.   

The situation with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will either ensure his survival for some time, or his destruction.  For many, his looks, his manner and his sense of presence have been prime excuses for avoiding sternly critiqued policy, pushing him up charts of aesthetics and chat shows.  Like the Camelot of the Kennedys, the substantive nature of achievements have given way to a nimbus of awe and praise.  In an appropriate observation from Jesse Brown, Trudeau was a “social media savant”, “the political equivalent of a YouTube puppy video.  After your daily barrage of Trump and terror, you can settle your jangled nerves with his comforting memes.”  Serious issues could hang, and Canada could resist growing up and challenging the lies of its label.   

On some level, he was excused for simply being a half-decent, bearable presenter after nine years of the conservative Harper administration, one who caused the occasional flutter and quiver in appropriate audiences.  Tickling an audience will get you some way.  

He also, much like Tony Blair of the New Labour wave in Britain in the late 1990s, decided to fan progressive tendencies while caking them in the most god awful spin.  He preferred conciliatory approaches.  He ticked the boxes of the progressive report card, because ticks matter: go for a gender-balanced cabinet; chew over climate change policy; be sensitive to the First Peoples and seek their representation. 

In 2015, when asked why he felt his cabinet should be evenly divided in terms of gender (on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, he sported the fine distribution of 15 men and 15 women), his response reverberated on the tarted waves of social media.  “Because it’s 2015.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould, was one of the faces of that cabinet, appointed justice minister and attorney general, and the first indigenous person to attain that post.  Full marks were given to the new leader. He was walking, not just on water, but well.

That period of uncritical Trudeau-ism is over.  The dirt is coming in.  The brittle realities of politics have become apparent.  The glory boy has lost his shine, his coat looking that much more ragged.  Wilson-Raybould has resigned from the cabinet claiming interference from Trudeau in her efforts to prosecute engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, a company which has thousands of Canadians in its employ and a certain smell of bribery and corruption touching a number of Libyan business contracts.  (The Qaddafi era still casts its shadow.) 

Wilson-Raybould proved to be a true spoil sport to the Trudeau image.  Jobs were playing on the prime minister’s mind, and became a dominant intrusion.  Going heavy on the company for grounds of fraud or corruption would lead to job losses, notably in Quebec.  A criminal conviction would fetter the company from bidding on government contracts for a decade.  Best keep SNC-Lavalin up and running, in a fashion.  The company would be encouraged to confess, spanked with a manageable fine and be made to promise improvements.  Wilson-Raybould refused.  

On February 27, in extended testimony to members of the House of Commons Justice committee, the former Attorney General explained that between September and December 2018, she had “experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion [in her] role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin.”

Her refusal to accede to the deferred agreement for SNC, she surmised, led to her shuffling out of her cabinet position on January 7 this year.  She duly resigned.  Before the committee, she reminded members of the role of the attorney general, one who exercises discretion to prosecute “individually and independently.”  Cabinet’s views on the matter were irrelevant in making such decisions.

The extensive cloud was irritating and morally vexing enough to compel another resignation, a certain capable Jane Philpott of the treasury board. 

“Unfortunately, the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin, and the evidence as to the content of those efforts have raised serious concerns for me.”

If there is nothing more pronounced in outrage, it is those who felt faith and lost it; who adored stupidly, idiotically, only to understand that politics has a habit of feeding, and promoting, certain acts of self-interested and damaging imbecility.  Trudeau’s actions were those of a person caught up, concerned at the loss of jobs and votes.  Accordingly, he massaged any principles.

Other parties have started to express interest at this fall from grace.  Investigations have been mounted by the Justice Committee and the federal ethics commissioner.  The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has expressed concern over the SNC-Lavalin affair, feeling that it poses a challenge to Canada’s reputation for upholding the rule of law.  NDP MP Charlie Angus insists that the perception of Canada on the “world stage” was at stake.  (Canada’s sense of virtue tends to assume a strained rhetorical quality at points.)  “If Canada is seen as a jurisdiction soft on corporate corruption, Canadians lose out.”

SNC-Lavalin may well be the undoing of the prime minister in every sense, starting with members of his own party, though he seems to have retained support – at least for the moment – within his caucus.  The two resignations did not precipitate movements for an imminent coup. 

If he had simply set his sights lower, clinging to the grime of politics and the arithmetic of amorality, the fall would not only have softened but be lower. Not so.  He felt better; elevated and irritatingly cocky, he could gaze from Olympus on the miscreants and assume that he had become exceptional in the frothy nonsense that is social media and goggle-eyed celebrity.  He could dabble in the world of moose shit and look puppyish and cute.  That time is at an end. 

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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 February 16, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika since 1999 announced his candidacy for a fifth term – despite unable to perform the duties of his office since becoming ill in 2005, especially after a debilitating 2013 stroke.

Large-scale daily protests followed his announcement. Others occurred last December against a fifth term in office.

Organized via social media in Algerian cities, protests rallied against him since mid-February. In the country’s Algiers capital, they’ve been the largest in many years – in a nation where street protests are banned.

According to human rights activists, around 800,000 rallied against him on February 22. On February 24, he was hospitalized in Geneva, Switzerland.

March 3 was the deadline for presidential aspirants to formally announce their candidacy for the nation’s highest office. On March 1, Dzair News television reported that around one million rallied in Algiers against Bouteflika’s candidacy.

Yet on March 3, he announced he’d stand for a fifth term despite strong public opposition. Large-scale protests against him continued, including calls for other candidates to withdraw.

Until March, Algerian media largely ignored street protests. When state TV covered them, protesters were criticized. France’s Le Figero called anti-Bouteflika demonstrations a humiliation for the president and his government.

On March 11 after returning from Geneva, he announced his withdrawal from the race, postponing the April 18 election indefinitely.

On the same day, the Algiers Herald reported the following, saying:

The nation’s “dictatorial regime has opted for the postponement of the election without setting a timeline for the next election, which will likely result in Bouteflika remaining president until his death,” adding:

Regime opponents consider his announcement “a constitutional coup.” The Algerian Constitution only permits postponing an election in time of war, not applicable to things in the country now.

Bouteflika’s announcement challenged popular sentiment, along with violating the country’s Constitution.

He nominated Noureddine Bedoui to serve as prime minister – perhaps his choice to succeed him as president when he formally steps down or dies in office.

On April 28, his legitimacy as president will end. Following Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH)/National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Unemployed (CNDDC) member Hadj Ghermoul’s demand for “no…fifth term” for Bouteflika, he was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment – part of an attempt to quash protests against another term in office.

He aims to retain power directly or indirectly until passing – despite popular sentiment opposing his “mandate of shame.”

Days before postponing the election indefinitely, a statement on his behalf said he “listened and heard the heartfelt cries of the demonstrators,” yet remains a “candidate for the next presidential election.”

Opposition elements mocked him, saying “(w)e have two plans: plan A, for Abdelaziz (his first name). And plan B, for Bouteflika!”

Plan C came on Monday, Bouteflika saying:

“There will be no fifth term. There was never any question of it for me. Given my state of health and age (82), my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new republic.”

He hasn’t made a public speech since 2013. Over 1,000 judges said they wouldn’t oversea the presidential election with him as a candidate.

Known as “the pouvoir (the power)” since 1999, his formal days in office may be numbered – wanting immunity for crimes in office from whoever succeeds him while still alive.

He governs like Turkey’s Erdogan and Egypt’s el-Sisi, though frail and incapacitated without without their vigor and public posture.

No matter. Underlings enforce his brutal rule though it’s unclear who’s really in charge given his precarious state. Algerians can be imprisoned for “offending the president, “insulting state officials,” or “denigrating Islam.”

Like the US, other Western nations and Israel, Algerian “democracy” is pure fantasy. Hardline regime rule runs the country under Bouteflika, whoever succeeds him in power, and the country’s military.

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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.

At his Monday press conference, Mike Pompeo said “we’ve asked (Congress to appropriate) up to $500 million…to restore the economy of the Venezuelan nation (sic) (and) help Juan Guaido.”

He failed to explain the ongoing Trump regime coup plot, nor that it’s all about replacing Bolivarian social democracy with US-controlled tyranny – DLT and hardliners surrounding him wanting control over Venezuelan oil, gas, gold, and other valued resources.

It’s what the scourge of imperialism is all about, Guaido an illegitimate US designated puppet, usurper in waiting, traitor to Venezuela and its people, belonging in prison longterm for his highest of high political crimes.

What the Trump regime calls “democratic transition” in the Bolivarian Republic and other targeted countries is all about gaining imperial trophies – intolerant of democracy everywhere, notably at home.

Trump’s dystopian FY 2020 budget proposal calls for 23% less State Department funding, USAID’s budget reduced from $52 billion to $40 billion, and other funding for Latin America cut by 27% from $158 million to $116 million.

At the same time, he wants half a billion dollars for regime change in Venezuela – certain to want more later for the same thing in Cuba and Nicaragua.

Claiming funds sought for intervention in Venezuela is also for “respond(ing) to the crisis,” Trump’s budget proposal failed to explain what’s going on in the country was largely made in the USA – by unlawful economic, financial and sanctions war.

Pompeo announced the withdrawal of remaining US embassy and consular staff from Venezuela, ominously saying their presence “has become a constraint on US policy” – likely indicating planned escalation of violence, bloodshed and chaos.

US point man for regime change in Venezuela, convicted felon Elliot Abrams, expanded on Pompeo’s remarks, saying it’s “prudent to take these folks out” because their presence makes it “more difficult for the United States to take the actions that it needed to do to support the Venezuelan people (sic).”

US proxy war is most likely ahead, short of direct Pentagon intervention other than support for anti-government guarimberos – thugs enlisted by Trump regime hardliners to do their dirty work.

When asked about possible US military intervention in Venezuela, the response by Trump, Pompeo, Bolton, and Abrams is always the same, saying: All options are on the table, meaning they intend doing whatever it takes to achieve their imperial objectives.

Abrams said the Trump regime intends imposing “some very significant” new sanctions on Venezuela “in the coming days,” targeting financial institutions supporting the Bolivarian Republic.

Pressure is being exerted on China, Russia, Turkey, and other countries opposing the Trump regime’s coup plot with no success so far. Around 50 countries back the scheme, the rest of the world community and UN against it.

On March 12, a State Department travel advisory said the following:

“Do not travel to Venezuela” because of the risks involved. “US citizens residing or traveling in Venezuela should depart” the country. Consular services in Caracas are no longer being provided.

Was warning US citizens in Venezuela to leave ahead of planned escalated Trump regime violence to topple Maduro? Are Pompeo, Bolton, and Abrams intending to turn the country into a virtual war zone – with Pentagon and CIA help?

Bolton warned the Bolivarian Republic separately, saying

“(w)e will continue to intensify our efforts to end Maduro’s usurpation of Venezuela’s Presidency (sic) and will hold the military and security forces responsible for protecting the Venezuelan people.”

At the same time, Trump regime policies aim to inflict maximum pain and suffering on them, aiming to enlist popular support for the coup plot, a failed scheme every time tried before in other countries.

Bolton also said insurance companies and flag carriers were put “on notice” to cease facilitating Venezuelan oil shipments.

He, Pompeo and Abrams are trying to form an anti-Bolivarian coalition for regime change, Bolton saying:

“We are trying to rally support for the peaceful transition of power (sic) from Maduro to Juan Guaido, whom we recognize as president (sic),” adding:

“I’d like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro, to replace the whole corrupt regime (sic). That’s what we are trying to do.”

Days earlier, he said

“we’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine,’ ” adding Venezuela “is a country in our (sic) hemisphere. The US wants “to have a completely democratic hemisphere (sic).”

Republicans and undemocratic Dems abhor the notion at home and abroad, tolerating it nowhere, wanting it eliminated it wherever it exists, notably in Venezuela – a longtime threat of a good example US hardliners want prevented from spreading to other countries.

A Final Comment

On Tuesday, Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said

“electricity supply had been restored almost completely throughout the whole national territory.”

Whether it’s sustainable is uncertain. Further cyberattacks on the electrical grid may happen if targeting it to cause economic harm is part of the Trump regime’s plan.

On Tuesday, Maduro said he’ll ask the UN, Russia, China, Iran, and Cuba for help in protecting against further cyberattack-caused blackouts.

He appointed a “special presidential commission to investigate” what happened. He seeks help from “international specialists,” adding:

Power nationwide was largely restored. “We now need to reinforce it, to make it reliable and impregnable again.”

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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.

Uncle Sam Loves You, so Buy American, or Else…

March 13th, 2019 by Helen Buyniski

The US is so enamored of its role as sole world superpower that it thinks nothing of mistreating allies, never believing they might tire of the abuse and run away – into the arms of China, or – perish the thought – Russia.

The Trump administration has never met a failed policy it wouldn’t embrace, from attempting to ignite a color revolution in Iran (after stamping out actual democracy there half a century ago), to throwing good money after bad in the two-decade-long quagmire of Afghanistan. With a stranglehold on the world’s reserve currency, even the most expensive mistakes – and at $22 trillion in debt, a lot have been made – have largely theoretical consequences, and just as Wall Street is able to outsource risk to Main Street, the US can sleep well at night knowing the fallout of its bad decisions is unfolding largely outside its borders.

Bristling with nuclear enthusiasm after throwing aside the INF with a Strangelovian flourish, promising to take its bloated and over-equipped military to space “the better to menace you with,” brutalizing even its own citizens both physically and psychologically with constant surveillance, and wielding punitive sanctions against putative allies for daring to defy its petty economic vendettas, the US is the geopolitical equivalent of an abusive romantic partner. And its allies are finally waking up to the realization that perhaps it’s time to break things off.

The biggest indignity yet was the ludicrous demand that NATO allies pay to host the American troops permanently garrisoned there – to essentially bankroll their own occupations. Last week, it was reported the US would begin asking some of its most hospitable allies – those nations home to hundreds of thousands of soldiers – to foot the bill for the cost of keeping them “safe.” While the cost breakdown hasn’t been decided yet, it may include the actual salaries of the soldiers stationed there – which would make the “quartering” policy that helped set off the American Revolution look positively civilized in comparison. Over two-thirds of the residents of Okinawa, where the US wants to relocate a military base, voted against the plan in a referendum last month. Construction is going ahead anyway. With allies like these, who needs enemies?

Adding insult to this financial injury, those countries whose policies “align closely” with the US would get an unspecified “discount” on their occupation bill – while those countries who didn’t play ball would, presumably, face the prospect of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled, well-armed American troops on their soil. “Gee, that’s a nice country you got there. Would be a real shame if something happened to it.” The US has been accused of acting like a mafia state before, but prior to Trump, its leaders seldom embraced the designation with such zest. One has to respect his honesty, at least – as Ilhan Omar said (and then quickly tried to un-say), Barack Obama’s policies were almost indistinguishable, except they were delivered by a pretty face, with a smile capable of speaking in complete sentences.

And where would an abusive relationship be without gaslighting? The US insists, to all who will listen, that its puppet Juan Guaido is recognized the world over as the legitimate ruler of Venezuela, even though no more than 54 countries have fallen in line behind his self-appointed leadership. Even the mainstream US media – hardly a pack of truth-tellers – has come under attack by Sen. Marco Rubio, who accused CNN of Russian collusion for referring to Guaido as the “self-proclaimed” president of Venezuela. Not to be outdone, Abrams has threatened second-order sanctions against those nations that refuse to declare 2 + 2 = 5 and embrace the unelected frontman for another good old-fashioned South American resource-grab. Never mind international law – second-order sanctions are not, in fact, a thing – but almost three-quarters of the UN still backs Nicolas Maduro, the elected President of Venezuela.

Like any abusive partner, the US is wildly jealous. Germany is the primary target of its covetous rages, courted as it is both by Russia, with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and China, whose Huawei is currently in talks to build 5G wireless infrastructure. Huawei has even opened a “cybersecurity and transparency center” in Brussels in a bid to sway the whole EU into acknowledging its technological superiority, even as the US attempts to jail the company’s CFO and ban its products across the western world. So far, this is a battle the US is losing, despite their efforts to convince allies that Huawei is secretly a Chinese spy plot – concerns Berlin perhaps feels justified in ignoring since learning that US intelligence spent over a decade listening in on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls – so on Monday they upped the ante, issuing an ultimatum to Berlin that should they scorn the wishes of the world’s only superpower, the US would no longer be able to cooperate with German security agencies. Officially, this is because of the risk of Chinese backdoors built into the equipment. Realistically, this is the behavior of a petty, jealous lover. Germany can do so much better. So can the rest of the world.

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Helen Buyniski is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. Her work has appeared on RT, Progressive Radio Network, and Veterans Today. Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The Day American Activism Died, or… the First Rule of Democracy!

March 13th, 2019 by Brett Redmayne-Titley

“Democracy Has Just Been A Word…Never Been An Act!” -Wall Graffiti / 2016 Thailand Military Coup.    

5:05 AM. February 4, 2012. It’s almost pitch dark. No one has slept this night. The only morning illumination comes from scores of dimly glowing dots of blues, greens, yellows, reds or orange inside a patchwork of hundreds of still standing tents. Most sit empty for the first time in months; a lamp left on during their vacancy. Nearby, the tall, jet-black and ornate sidewalk lamp poles lining the concrete walkways of McPherson Park here in Washington D.C. provide a few additional stage lights, their bright-white cones casting a single spotlight on their foreground.

Under these spotlights, peering nervously across this scene into the depths of the grey-on-black streaks of the approaching morning, many small groups of protesters stand huddled together, as if for warmth, against the brisk, sub-zero February morning as the first warning flashes of dank sunrise announce this day. The night’s silence is broken as the voices from these groups slowly rise. There is anxiety in the sound. Nervousness. And…

Fear. Fear of how bad this day would turn out to be. Yes, the tents were all still there, for now. The stalwarts had stayed out of principle. Their hearts and minds would not be swayed. This morning, they huddled, shoulder to shoulder in their groups, hot tea, coffee or a freshly light cig cupped in hand; finding support within their waning numbers. All knew as they glanced about the fringes of the park, second-by-second… today was going to be a very bad day.

The cops are coming.

*

In the next few hours, made-up of minutes that wore on in slow-motion horror, it would all be over. Finished. All that once was and could have been of the last outbreak of effective democratic American activism would be stripped bare; stomped into submission, its rattling bones, like the hundreds of nearby multi-coloured tents, cast into a huge trash can of US history thus offended. By the end of this day, American activism would be dead. Its leadership dead as our collective cause. The one we, who still stood our ground this morning, shivering, used as a nationwide rallying cry to everyone who could still hear and listen. For months we had shouted, often screamed that name, that dream, that goal, that one call to action. That threat. The one we all so defiantly called, “Occupy.”

Yeah, American activism would be dead this day. Dead as the American dream.

The one we were all trying to save.

The Last Victory for American Activism

“Protest is when I say I don’t like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.” Ulrike Meinhof

This February morning, all had reason for fear. We all knew that we would not win on this day. The First Rule of Democracy – the numbers, the ratio-cops-to-activists– did not bode well for a victory in our nation’s capital this morning.  But, the First Rule had beaten them back, beaten them badly, once before. We knew that the cops remembered, as some of us did now, that turbulent morning aeons ago. Two months before.

Some of us huddled here shoulder-to-shoulder had first been in Los Angeles at America’s biggest Occupy camp at City Hall. Oh, the cops came to kick us out on that morning, too, and for the exact same reasons. But it took ‘em two tries to do it!

The memory of that great day: that incredible night until morning when we, those of us who finally stood up for ourselves, and for others, against what we knew was festering all around us. That one morning when… we finally won. There, under the lampposts, those of us who were there that day in L.A. told the fable of that glory day to those who had only heard about that Sunday. That day too long ago when we, together, kicked those cop’s fucking asses.

Without firing a shot or throwing a punch we, the Occupiers in LA, had showcased what Occupy actually stood for to our nation. A reminder of the First Rule of Democracy. That day, we used our collective middle fingers to give the bastards a whipping they would not forget.

Now, we shivered and prepared for what we all knew would be our own ass-kicking to come.

“They’ll have to drag me out…” was said again-and-again to draw courage on that morning, too. That story of LA brought needed smiles to nervous faces as it was told. All the while, all eyes darted about in the day’s slow illumination, watching. Listening.

 

*

It was the morning of that great day in November 2011. Driving south towards San Diego city, like so many other southern Californians, the news of the day’s eviction of the Los Angeles Occupy camp- the biggest in the nation- was broadcast over the car radio. Trouble was brewing and the cops were massing on the fringes of city Hall grounds to begin the threatened eviction.

Unless…?

Yes, on that Sunday Nov. 29,we, the people: the disaffected, the poor, the homeless and those of us who honoured our conscience and still believed in the possibility of changing our world for the better would, as one, look right through the grey-tinted face shields and into the eyes of 1000 black jacketed, riot-gear-clad cops. Not one of us backing up… one… single… inch.

The eviction notice of Occupy LA spread like a herald’s call to action. They came.

It was time.

Southern California flooded into Los Angeles City Hall. By noon over three thousand. By 4 PM four thousand. By the time the biggest General Assembly (GA) ever was convened on the city hall steps, the crowd swamped the City Hall grounds from centre stage of W. 1st Street to the side streets of N. Main and N. Spring., nearing 6000 strong. I was standing at the top of the massive stone entryway steps looking down at the milling crowd as the twilight of this night approached, taking pictures by the score and smiling so hard the edges of my mouth cramped.

This was a real protest.

Finally.

The energy was electric, infectious. The crowd was getting ever louder as calls for “Mic Check” were ignored, until calm was finally restored and the first speaker and the laborious Occupy democratic process was introduced to the crowd. “Shut the fuck up!” could be heard from many well-intentioned Occupiers demanding a return to civility and decorum- and silence- as others shared stern looks with the few remaining offenders until the message of respect was universally received. Quiet.

“The cops ain’t gonna be able to control this mob, tonight,” I heard a voice remark just off my right shoulder. This was a prescient comment indeed. It came from a City Hall cop standing right next to me. “Those cops move… it’s going to be a full-blown riot.”

Indeed.

He was referring to the hundreds of cops-over a thousand – with more arriving by the hour– all in full black riot gear, who lined all four streets all the way back to W. Temple. Standing almost shoulder to shoulder they surrounded the entire City Hall grounds and every side street and alleyway. Unlike the affable cop near me, these cops were here to evict everyone, by force. From the vicious, penetrating stares they provided to anyone within eyeshot, they were absolutely salivating at the chance to get started.

But there was just one problem. Actually six thousand problems… and growing. Those damn Occupiers, many who stood deliberately and directly in front of many a cop, just inches away, staring back. They were growing in number. And getting louder. Much louder. All waited for the moment when all those cops took their first step forwards. And, then…

No one was here to back down tonight.

It was time.

It had only been two months before that LA city council members were writing proclamations in favour of Occupy and singing its praises as a new form of non-violent, democratic protest. They had invited Occupy to stay on the city hall grounds. The Occupiers were welcome to come and stay…and protest, or so they said in glowing oratory. And the LA camp grew, becoming the biggest in America with over 1000 tents and 1500 Occupiers daily. Zuccotti in N.Y.C and McPherson and Freedom Plaza in DC were mere postage stamps by comparison.

Occupy within weeks became so much more than merely an opposition movement. Occupy became an example. By providing social services long since gutted from local society, the example Occupy showcased in many ways was the only example of society’s remaining obligation to the unfortunate. LA streets are a very unsafe place to sleep and the City deliberately provides little assistance in the failed hope that the homeless will finally move on. Somewhere. However, all were at least safe and could eat at the Camp. Despite the drug abuse, assorted low-lifes and nefarious side of the Occupy camps, violence was virtually unheard of. Non-violence, tolerance and diversity were embraced and preached as an integral part of Occupy. A communal spirit pervaded the camps and this included an educational component, as small symposiums, lectures and talks on assorted democratic principles were held throughout each day for any who chose to sit in and learn.

These were exciting days.

Sunday in the Park With Occupy

Education is the Most Powerful Weapon One Can Use to Change the World” Nelson Mandela

To understand the effectiveness and leadership that the Occupy camps so quickly provided nationally, all one needs to have done was stop into the camps, as so many did, on any Sunday morning.

Occupy camps had sprung up in more than a hundred cities and towns, big and small, across America. Zuccotti Park, New York City, got most of the press- and the money- during those crazy days when it seemed that activism had finally returned to leading the conscience of the nation. Every state Capital city had an Occupy Camp and local politicians sang the praises of the new populist form of inclusive democracy and non-violent opposition.

Yes, like LA, these camps were an amalgam of passionate activists, the homeless, drug abusers, and the temporarily interested. However, to a suddenly threatened Government not used to effective opposition, the Occupy camps were a much bigger problem than the Occupiers themselves realized. For these camps from sea to shining sea were, behind the scenes, just weeks away from having a new separate national Occupy political platform.

From the massive Los Angeles camp of well over one thousand to McPherson Park in D.C. down to the small camps of Austin, TX and San Luis Obispo, Calif, Sunday was the most special day of every week. The camps on these days were a true sign that the opposition Occupy had created was working. And, support was growing.

Beginning in the mornings each Sunday and continuing often until past dark, people came from everywhere. They came to the camps. Many said, they “had to.” Their obligation.

It was time.

Yes, they showed up at the camps. Every type of American. Race? Sex?  Religion? Didn’t matter. They came with food to share. Freshly baked cakes, cookies, little tarts. Hot soup. Cigarettes or a bit of weed to share. They came with clothes and donations. There were always extra coats and jackets available to newly arriving Occupiers.

Each and every visitor came in spirit. Looking across the camps, conversations in groups took place among the tents or on the sidewalks next to the monuments, lampposts, and street corners, the participants locked together in impassioned, but collegial discourse while others listened carefully. Many who were interviewed spoke of their personal need to be involved in any manner, even for one day, but also of their need for accurate information due to their distrust of the media. It was satisfying to see so many people coming together. The camp took on a conspiratorial, hushed, tone. This reporter interviewed many people at McPherson who went to work daily but stayed in their own heat-less tent- in February- every night.

Then there was the Occupy platform. Across the breadth of the nation’s camps, all were trying via the slow laborious machinations of Occupy democracy and inclusion of all, to effect a national platform that would be presented to all Occupiers for a national vote. And then?  A new political party. This, by the very nature of Occupy’s all-inclusive democratic proceedings, was a daunting task indeed. But one embraced with hope. Not the fake political kind. Real Hope.

From the vantage point of those venturing to the Camps, this was American society renewed. Discussion, disagreement, tolerance, inclusion, love and a spirit of cooperation for the good of all. Everyone.  All welcome. These societal tenets had been virtually destroyed by an ongoing capitalist set of self-serving US governments over the past forty years. There was now an optimism that pervaded the many impassioned conversations and it shined on the faces of those who roamed the camps on these Sundays.

We were starting to believe.

However, an Obama administration predisposed to the continued gutting of what little was left of American social responsibility, had a decidedly different view of Occupy. To the “primal forces of nature” thus challenged, this was not democracy renewed. This was not non-violent protest. No, in a nation of purchased leaders Occupy was to them a different example of leadership.

It was a threat.

*

With LA City having almost no food program for the homeless, it was the Camp that filled this fundamental role as well.  This November night, as the emotions of this night, rose and fell, I spent several hours in the company of Daniel T. as we watched for the cops to begin this night’s attack from our vantage point high up on the top of the City Hall steps. Dan, a thirty-year-old chef at a local restaurant proudly told me how he had organized the massive tent kitchen that lined the sidewalk of W.1St. street and how he and forty plus volunteers were preparing and cooking a free breakfast and dinner for 1500 or more. Everyday. Anyone who was hungry was welcome.

This evening’s dinner had been cancelled.

Each morning he and his old yellow Toyota pick-up would be down at the LA Wholesale Produce markets of Central and Olympic Streets in downtown. There he spoke with dozens of wholesale vendors asking for bruised or slightly blemished produce. The response was tremendous, he said, and each morning he returned laden to gunwales with the day’s ingredients. Augmented by other food donations and a tiny donated budget, he and the other cooks turned this into a basic, but the nutritious meal, so that no one had to go hungry. Why? “Fuck man…it’s the right thing to do, right? That’s why I’m here.”

But as the winter closed in, the media did its job and echoed the many politicians who had already turned tail on Occupy. Yes, there were drugs. The camps were noisy and sleep was not always easy. Garbage collected despite volunteer details performing clean-up. The haphazard set-up of the hundreds of tents was a tattered assortment at best, but never once did I see a rat. Well, except for the ones who appeared on the City Hall steps asking us to now take our game of democracy and go home.

Then the eviction notices came out.

Typically, the cops arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, posting the single page eviction notices on tents, trees, trash cans and street signs as they stole quietly through the Camp in groups of three. Then the alarm of the day went off. That morning everyone knew what they did not, all these weeks, want to admit would ever come: It was on!

The stated eviction deadline was Sunday at 5 PM. Everyone out. No exceptions. Out or be arrested.

Well… maybe.

That Powerful Sweet Smell in the Morning. Smells like… Victory!

“There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning!”Abbie Hoffman

The media which had also turned so quickly on Occupy was also, this day in LA, spoiling for some high news ratings and looking forward to some good old fashioned police brutality. Coverage of the pending eviction was all over the news and scores of reporters roamed the LA camp, acting cool, but didn’t give a shit about the truth of this national story. Well, that was their job. Their news copters hovered overhead until the cops cleared the skies in preparation.

But, all their coverage instead brought out the city and the surrounding counties. By Saturday, hundreds more had come down with their tents and donations. But, on Sunday when 1500 Occupiers seemed about to get very seriously worked by the ever-mounting police militia, for some of conscience and pent up outrage, this all was too much for one to stand by and merely watch-on in sympathy from afar.

That day and that longest of nights I talked with dozens who had driven to be at the camp that day for one simple reason: to finally say, “No!”  Like this reporter, they had made the first move, decided to do something, after far too long.

It was time.

*

That Sunday night seemed to last forever on a razor’s edge. One wrong move by a protester and the Cops would have devolved into an orgy of mace, batons and tasers. Guns? One attack by any one of the cops would have thrown all that pent-up and frenzied kinetic energy, outrage, and desperation of the 6000 Occupiers raining down on these political henchmen en mass.

As it approached 4 AM of Monday, the tete-a-tete remained nose to nose. Bullhorns from the cops attempted continually to intimidate the protesters into leaving, while bullhorns from the Occupiers and the banshee screams from the protesters answered their challenge. The morning was coming.

From atop the City Hall steps we all agreed that the cops were not going to let this night continue for long. The protesters still struggled out loud with their personal moral dilemma: whether to get out of camp beforehand, or continuing to stand in unison, using one historically successful democratic tactic: The First Rule of Democracy.

By now, the crowd undulated like some kind of massive wounded animal writhing in preparation for one last gasp of life before death. As cop cars screamed down the streets scores of bicycle riding protesters suddenly whirled towards them circling the grounds on the perimeter streets in renewed defiance, pedaling furiously. Small groups, getting bigger as they attracted participants, prepared for their own pending defensive actions. Couples boldly walked the perimeter sidewalks, arm in arm, showing the cops that they were scared of them no more.

Bullhorns bellowed from the phalanxes of cops. The perimeter boundaries on all four streets became solid; twenty deep with protesters on all sides as the defences of personal liberty squared off inches from the masked all-black pigs. The knife edge was literally drawn: The street gutter of oppression right before the grass-fringed sidewalk of resistance.

Now, one-by-one, Occupiers old and new linked hands, just feet from the police front lines in a show of solidarity- an unbroken chain- that surrounded the entire grounds.  More than a half-mile in circumference. Organizers called again and again for calm as the cops bellowed for them to leave… or else! On the four sidewalks, the front lines of the cops and the protesters stood inches apart, face to face, nose to nose. The cops played with their nightsticks or fingered their cans of mace threateningly. The protesters returned the threat with the one weapon so hated by every cop in attendance… the middle finger of a self-confident smile. Oh, they all wanted to beat all of us to a pulp and were begging to see the festivities begin in earnest. Some had been rooted to the same spot for hours, wordless, unsmiling… vicious.

Suddenly, 5:35 A.M.  A historic roar. Thousands, yes thousands, of spontaneous cheers erupting in unison across the grounds of City Hall. A cacophony echoing off the surrounding concrete buildings. The cheers of the thousands of us who had- that very moment- seen with our own eyes the unimaginable, what we had all thought was impossible that night. What we had all silently prayed for. These cops, after more than eighteen hours of intimidation and a monstrous show of force… they now turned on their heels in unison… they went backwards.

They went home!

Victory! Our victory! A national victory. For those, we were fighting for and the ideas we all shared. It was a very great morning. It was thrilling. It was unbelievable… to be able to “believe” in something once again. After so, so long.

On this crystal blue southern California morning, I walked through the crisp slowly warming air swinging in circles of joy around lamp posts and parking meters one-by-one on the long trip back to my car. The cops were still everywhere; on every side street and alleyway, all standing in clusters near line after line of cop cars of all shapes and sizes. They grimaced, staring at me as I paraded my reverie before their nasty faces. I considered my own middle finger as a final message before disappearing from their sight, but then instead laughed out loud, guffaws of satisfaction and happiness. For I realized that today, this day, we had all already given them- every single cop-  the best middle finger possible.

But, in the eternal optimism of that amazing morning, none of us could know that this victory would be the last- ever- for non-violent American activism.

Yeah, the LA cops came back on the Tuesday and stomped us real good. But they still proved the First Rule of Democracy. That day, the inverted ratio of cops to protesters was 4:1. The wrong way, this time.

They breezed through the camp on Tuesday in what could only be described as a full blown attack. Everyone got kettled or beaten, forced into huge groups, except for the wounded, and put on buses that then left for Dodger Stadium parking lot to sit, hour after hour in the heat of the day. No bathroom breaks, no news, just sitting there boiling in the sun.

All the while, the cops surrounded the dozens of buses, standing or leaning on their black-and-whites, glowering. And smiling.

The demise of the LA Occupy camp and the legend of that Sunday were the best advertising Occupy could have had. People across America were now following this leadership. Opposition was rising. City by city, it had found a place to fester and grow stronger. It had found fertile ground and its roots were growing far too quickly. The remaining camps nationwide continued to grow. Activism flourished.

It was time.

The Cold Dead Joke of the Late Night Comedian

“Politics is the only art whose artists regularly disown their masterpieces.” ― Raheel Farooq

Before Occupy became a household name splashed across the daily news cycle, Americans, particularly those whose cynicism had not lost a sense of humour, realized some other undeniable, important and yet often ignored rules about their national condition. One: Their government- from POTUS to Congress- is utterly controlled by capitalist corporations and a fear mongering military that holds complete sway of all their politicians. Two: The media cannot be trusted. Be it Newspaper, Radio, Television or Cable, the media, almost without exception serves the interest of the established regime.

Hence, a very new political affectation arose from a place never before considered as part of the News Media: the snarky, quick-witted late-night comedian as a pundit of popular opinion and a new voice of a disenfranchised nation. What news exec. would have thought that the tiny, struggling cable channel, Comedy Central, would suddenly take a prominent place within mainstream news media and steal ratings and respect from these increasingly propagandized news corporations?

Enter Jon Stewart and protege Stephen Colbert.

Stewart had spent years as host of “The Daily Show.” His acerbic wit and bold, direct – yet cuttingly humorous- interview style slowly manifested into his daily political commentary. From the opening monologue through his cutting duplicitous interview questions, he challenged his many guests, exposing them as being mere pawns in the system he regularly mocked to the growing glee of his attentive viewers. As the show grew in popularity Stewart’s rendition of the daily news and current events became a more trusted voice in the wind of media lies and propaganda. Not surprisingly, The Daily Show became one of the top-rated shows on cable TV with millions tuning in each evening. It became more than obvious that Stewart knew very well the power he had gained in honestly exposing the lies of the status quo and his nightly demeanour brimmed with confidence. But his was something more than that… something that became more and more apparent as the Daily Show sharpened its collective sword of political humour. Stewart’s persona was no longer mere comedy. It was, now, leadership.

Many forget that once Walter Cronkite, the career old-school journalist and decades-long anchor of the CBS evening news, was considered the most trusted man in America. In a by-gone era when news was based substantially on facts, on-scene reporting, two-sided analysis and competition among the big three networks, CBS, ABC and NBC, Cronkite exemplified the highest standard of news. Unlike, the teleprompter reading, make-up slathered, talking heads currently featured across all news media, in a long-gone world full of take-no-prisoners, gumshoe journalism, Cronkite had risen the top, and he had earned it the hard way. More important than Cronkite’s eventual legacy as an icon of American news, when he retired on air at the end of his final “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” the nation across the breadth of American media knew that “news” had lost more… it had lost a leader. Never to be replaced.

As trustworthy American journalism began its slow but steady transformation into one national American Völkischer Beobachter, the networks were replaced in prominence by cable news and then cable news dutifully descended into what it has become today: Entertainment propaganda for dullards designed to maintain wholesale ignorance and the authoritarian status quo control of same. Two decades on from the Cronkite era, what little intelligence that still remained in America was hungry for news that confirmed their growing suspicion that… we’re all fucked.

This left the news door open for Stewart and his political variety show to become a similarly trusted voice. Like Cronkite, a large portion of the nation gravitated to his words and political commentary because he, too, was offering the truth. Hell, it had to be the truth, ’cause no one else was saying it!

His eventual sidekick, Stephen Colbert, a man of incredibly gifted wit and a talent for spontaneous, unscripted, ad-lib humour worked his occasional hilarious five-minute political parodies into being a regular feature on Stewart’s show. Colbert was a different sort than Stewart and entered the show at a time when The Daily Show had already begun to morph into a political force and leadership that commanded ever-increasing viewership because of it. So the show was ready for Colbert and his brand of hilarious, deep cutting, if not hurtful, political brand of humour. Colbert’s style augmented Stewart’s shtick perfectly. Not surprisingly, Colbert’s very rare comedic talents earned him a show of his own, “The Colbert Report” which immediately followed The Daily Show. Stewart’s show became the set-up routine handed off to Colbert every evening.

Colbert showed real brass and was even more aggressive in destroying his interviewees. Arrogant political leaders using their standard talking points were excoriated by Colbert because he knew his subject well and his adversary better. His humour not only exposed them, it mocked them and what they had come to his show and try to stand for. Colbert took obvious delight as he left most of them quivering for mercy as the audience roared in guffaws of ridicule, and approval, of these political leaders, being thus stripped bare naked by their new hero.

Colbert was so politically effective, and funny, that his public destruction of so many politicians forced House Speaker John Boehner to advise, in writing, that Republicans avoid Colbert’s invitations to be on the show. His daily mockery of the American condition, like Stewart’s, was not limited to individual political hypocrisy or either political party. His ongoing factual examination of the results of the incredibly divisive Citizen’s United US Supreme Court decision- that made corporations into people in order to justify unlimited campaign financing- was some of the only correct commentary available from any media source. Like Stewart, Colbert had gone from comedian to political pundit and next to leader. He showed this as he regularly brought to his show people of impeccable credentials in their fields and offered them to his viewers as a counterpoint to the established MSM narrative. Many of the issues he tackled continued to be updated and expanded on week after week as his education and viewership on important current events continued to increase.

Both shows became so popular that there was a six-month waiting list for audience tickets. When visiting New York City in 2010, a line of young people hoping for a remaindered ticket stretched down the avenue for a hundred yards or more. Colbert and Stewart had become political rock stars. Acknowledgements, praise and awards came in as both hosts showcased their success, which they gladly acknowledged was due to their growing audience’s allegiance to them and their quest for alternative news. People and organizations paid tribute to them, their shows and what they had accomplished as the new mirror against growing American political oppression. And that popularity continued to grow as did the leadership that their shows offered to a waking portion of an outraged nation, a new voice of opposition deliberately inspired.

Then… they went too far.

*

It was early 2010. Building on the success of both shows, Stewart and Colbert began using their daily evening platforms to advertise a new milestone in their comedic leadership. Before Occupy exemplified the First Rule of Democracy, both understood that their nation needed a single gathering point for all those who wanted to make their own voices heard in Washington and across the nation. Hence, they booked the entire Washington Mall, the scene of great moments in US history. Its stated purpose was to provide a venue for attendees to be heard above what Stewart described as the more vocal and extreme 15–20% of Americans who “control the conversation” of American politics.  This would be a gathering of like minds and a symbol of protest to those dark minions housed in their fortifications close by. They called their call to action, “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear!”

The event was largely ignored by MSM and the networks as just another crackpot stunt, but in a sign of the popularity of both the shows, word spread and people came from everywhere. Interviewed during the month-long ramp-up to the event that would be broadcast live for three uninterrupted hours on Comedy Central on Oct 30, 2010, Stewart and Colbert said that they were hoping for, perhaps, 100,000 to attend.

So when both took to the huge elevated banner draped stage on that crisp and clear DC morning, the looks on their faces, as they started from side to side along the length of the huge mall, the smiles they wore said more than they could have imagined. There were not 100,000 in front of the stage; estimates actually approached 250,000. They had, like their government, completely underestimated the numbers and the outrage of the nation, one that had got off their couches that day, got in their cars and finally made a personal effort to make one personal statement. To finally say, “No!”

It was time.

All stood, laughed and cheered as both hosts and their guests that ranged from Ozzie Osborne to the recently arrested terrorist ex-musician Cat Stevens graced the stage and mocked, again and again, the lies, the distortions, the control and the manufactured fear created by politicians and their minions in their government and their media. Stewart spontaneously tried to quantify the surprising and overwhelming success of the protest by starting a human wave from across the stage front and sending it backwards through the crowd. The wave took so long to reach the back that Stewart began a second, then third wave. So, it became very obvious to Stewart, Colbert and a nation watching on a once very minor cable channel- and to the status quo- America was really pissed!

As these two leaders bid goodbye to these maddening throngs of rejuvenated Americans on that DC afternoon, admonishing them with more humour, to come together, work together and all get along together in this day’s final humorous salvo designed to re-propagate their goals for this day, the nation had suddenly taken an incredible step towards restoring Sanity and eliminating Fear. This day, Stewart and Colbert had taken what they had so slowly and methodically built for years and established their shows and themselves as true and effective leaders of a new opposition. They were ready for truly big results to come. They were doing what no others had managed to do in decades: The times… they were a-changing’!

Or that’s how it seemed on that glorious day, nearly a decade ago. Oh, yes! It seemed like a victory.

But…

In the nearby dark basement halls inhabited by the black-hearted practitioners of unlimited greed and American authoritarian capitalist control, this day’s successful event was not the comedy event of the decade. It was a horror show.

A year later, when the advent of Occupy philosophically echoed what Stewart and Colbert had helped start, giving a place for the opposition to ferment, both hosts paid homage to those Occupiers and Occupy camps that had now joined them on front lines of opposition. Daily, viewers tuned in to see them showcase this new focus of daily opposition. The ratings of both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, for the same reasons that had made the DC event on the Mall exceed all expectations, were still growing; as was their influence. The Occupiers, like Stewart and Colbert, were the new leaders of the opposition and everyone of like mind and desperation was welcome to join.

Sincere leaders, real leaders- those that lead on behalf and inclusion of others without demand for personal gain -are the greatest rarity in our modern world. These leaders, in the minds of established hypocrisy, avarice and greed, are the greatest threat. The vital ingredient to the First Rule. Something had to be done.

When it did, retribution happened oh, so quickly.

The Day American Activism Died

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” ― Malcolm X

6:00 AM. February 4, 2012.  McPherson Park. “They’re here!” came the sudden shout of warning, snapping everyone at McPherson and camps across the nation, to attention. It was true. They were here. Cops. Hundreds.

They were coming our way.

On the western edge of McPherson Park, Khaki uniformed DC Park Service police combined with DC metro police. Near them, Yellow long sleeved Haz-Mat suited and gloved sanitation workers stood with huge trash bins near bigger trash trucks ready to raze this park, its tents and all the ideals that this park had stood for during the past four months, directly into the dust bin for US history. Vanquished.

Again, their bullhorns of oppression blared warnings to us to leave or be arrested. Most had left, many had stayed. In an interesting loophole of DC metro law, tents were actually OK. Sleeping in them was not. Thus, anyone having a tent and a sleeping bag had their tent summarily chucked into the rubbish bin. Anyone resisting was arrested. Without the numbers needed for effective opposition- like in LA- these hit men, the cops and the workers, roamed free, tossing the last vestiges of our hopes into bins, smashing them to pieces.

Under an ageing, four-sided, floppy, olive drab military tent, Mike,the camp librarian had spent months culling a very substantial collection of donated books that numbered in the thousands into a correctly categorized library on make-shift wooden shelves for all to use freely. His was a library in a tent and Mike slept elsewhere. This fact and the many remaining Occupiers made this clear. So, as the Camp became almost barren, the final spectacle of Mike and his library still stood as one last middle figure to the cops. There he stood as we yelled encouragement and the cops waited for him to finally fall asleep… to be arrested, all his books and their stores of knowledge to be burned at the stake of America’s capitalist pyre.

The final nightmare had begun.

Across the nation, on this day and the next, every remaining camp of any size or influence was crashed by the cops. Denver went down during a driving snowstorm. Philly got beat up pretty bad we were told. Zuccotti had already gone down, but their reappearance on the concrete rotunda was anticipated and put down brutally by New York’s finest. Small camps like San Luis Obispo, Calif and Austin, Texas were left alone to wither and die without support from the nation or their brothers in state capital Occupy camps.

By the end of the day, that terrible daylight years ago, we had all been defeated. Our leaders had been taken and our collective national Occupy political platform- so tantalizingly close to fruition- was left to twist in the wind for all to laugh at and forget.

Did we forget?

Yes, there was talk of how to regroup, to begin anew, but without the Camps that provided the gathering place for this opposition to grow and congregate the national Occupy camps were doomed to a Hooverville-like fate at the hands of a government once again threatened by non-violent public protest. Yeah, it was over quickly. Too quickly for a movement so close to success. All that was left of the government stopping we insurgents was mopping up what little remained of any potential future  leadership.

This day, come nightfall, American activism was stone dead.

Colbert went from political leader to political sell-out in no time, prostituting his skills and success in order to become the exact same political shill he had rallied against and encouraged his viewers to fight against. The last two years of the Colbert Report had almost none of the bite as before and interviewees were generally a milquetoast assortment. His reward for whoring out his legacy was the Late Show. Nowadays, four nights a week, Colbert spews scripted status quo pablum to the ignorant masses. Like the many other late night pundits who together could not ad lib a fart at a baked bean contest, he is paid lavishly – in Rachelle Maddow style- to help keep them in line.

Stewart had the sincerity to bow out before he was forced to sell-out. He is today rarely heard from, his legacy has faded into oblivion. He too, like Colbert, became the personification of one last, very sad, tasteless, and disgusting political joke: Not the one about what once was…the one about what might have been!

By 3 p.m., the southern half of McPherson Square had been mostly cleared out, with bulldozers clearing off the top layer of soil, which was removed by dump trucks.

And so it goes.

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Author’s Note: This concludes Part One of: “The Day American Activism Died – The First Rule of Democracy. Please see this News Site for Part Two: “Why Julian Assange Sits in Stir!”

Brett Redmayne-Titley has published over 170 in-depth articles over the past eight years for news agencies worldwide. Many have been translated. On-scene reporting from important current events has been an emphasis that has led to his many multi-part exposes on such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, NATO summit, Keystone XL Pipeline, Porter Ranch Methane blow-out, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Erdogan’s Turkey and many more. He can be reached at: live-on-scene ((at)) gmx.com. Prior articles can be viewed at his archive: www.watchingromeburn.uk

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An historical exhibit designed to examine various aspects of the life and people of the Monticello plantation in Virginia during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which was owned by Thomas Jefferson, has prompted protests in Detroit.

Members of the Black Legacy Coalition (BLC) have held press conferences and made public statements objecting to the hosting of “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” by the Dr. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History located in the Midtown district of the city.

On March 12, approximately 100 people picketed the Wright Museum demanding that the Jefferson exhibit be reconsidered. Participants carried a banner challenging the official narrative and characterization of Jefferson.

Others held placards denouncing enslavement and the treatment of Sally Hemings, a woman of African descent owned by Jefferson who bore several children by the plantation owner.

The BLC plans to protest every day at 11:00am until the exhibit opens. This midday manifestation gained press coverage from several media outlets.

The exhibit is scheduled to begin on March 15 amid continuing efforts by the BLC to have the display cancelled. Members of the BLC and others feel that the character of the exhibit attempts to cover up the horrors of African enslavement including the systematic sexual exploitation of African women.

In a press release issued on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 21) in Detroit held at the St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church on Woodward Avenue, the BLC noted that:

“The Coalition stands on the immortal, sacred legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Charles H. Wright to preserve and protect the CHW  Museum against any effort to ‘romanticize’ the terrorism forced upon those forcibly enslaved, like Sally Hemings, or  the duplicitous depiction of a ‘patriarchal narrative’ to shroud the brutality and inhumanity of enslavers like Thomas Jefferson, who  ‘owned’  600 Africans while penning that ‘all men are created equal.’”

This exhibit began in 2012 at the Smithsonian American Museum of History in Washington, D.C. Over the last seven years it has been hosted by several cities including St. Louis, Philadelphia and Dallas.

Jefferson: Co-Author of the Declaration of Independence and early U.S. Politician

This issue is being raised during the 400th anniversary of the enslavement of Africans beginning in the former British colony of Virginia in August 1619, which later became the U.S. Jefferson was a co-author of the Declaration of Independence and served as Governor of Virginia in the Continental Congress, secretary of state, secretary of war, minister of state to France and vice-president prior to becoming the third president of the U.S.

According to language in the “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” promotional materials:

“As many as 70 members of the Hemings family lived in slavery at Monticello over five generations. Elizabeth Hemings  (1735–1807) and her children arrived at Monticello around 1774 as part of Jefferson’s inheritance from his father-in-law, John Wayles, who was likely the father of six of the children.” (See this)

The same document continues by pointing out:

“Members of the family eventually occupied the most important positions in Monticello’s labor force. They helped build the Monticello house, ran the household, made furniture, cooked Jefferson’s meals, cared for his children and grandchildren, attended to him in his final moments, and dug his grave. Elizabeth’s daughter Sally Hemings was likely the mother of four of his children. The nine people Jefferson freed in his lifetime and will were all members of the Hemings family.”

Although the brochure acknowledges the indispensable nature of slave labor in the operation of the plantation, it fails to categorically condemn the triangular trade as an economic system which eventually led to the development of industrial capitalism in both Western Europe and North America. By framing slavery as essentially a moral question, the exhibit neglects the principal role of the exploitation of African people in the growth and expansion of the U.S. into the leading imperialist power by the mid-20th century. (See this)

Many accounts of Jefferson’s life extol his mastery of law, architecture, mathematics, agriculture and other professional fields. He signed the documents outlawing the importation of enslaved Africans into the U.S. in 1807, although the system continued long after his death and only ended with the Civil War fought during 1861-1865. As early as 1788 he was said to have banned the importation of enslaved Africans into the state of Virginia.

Detroit demonstration against Jefferson slavery exhibit on March 12, 2019

Nonetheless, his views on African people state clearly that he felt they were inherently inferior to whites in both beauty and intelligence. He did not believe that Africans could be integrated into U.S. society and supported the gradual training and freeing of Africans where they could possibly be sent to live in Santo Domingo. Jefferson believed that the ending of slavery would cause unrest in the U.S.

In one of Jefferson’s most widely read books, “Notes on the State of Virginia”, published in 1785, the leading politician and wealthy slave owner expressed the general fears among the ruling class that the potential for war between the races was highly probable. Therefore, he advocated the colonization of Africans on the continent or in other regions of the world.

One passage in “Notes on the State of Virginia” emphasizes:

“It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.” (See this)

By 1816, there was the formation of the American Colonization Society (ACS) which resettled thousands of willing Africans who felt there was no hope for an independent and free existence in the U.S., in the West African region which became known as Liberia. The country was declared independent in 1847. However, up until the modern era, Liberia has remained under the economic and political dominance of Washington.

Despite the purported prohibition on the Atlantic trade in African people after the first decade of the 19th century, slavery expanded exponentially utilizing both “illegal” importations and domestic breeding, where by 1861 four million Africans were subjected to bondage.

General Demands of the BLC

The struggle over the Jefferson exhibit is part of broader demands related to the governance and programmatic character of the Wright Museum, which was the largest of its kind in the U.S. prior to the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington during 2016.  The Wright Museum was the outgrowth of the decades-long work of Dr. Charles H. Wright, an area physician, who built the institution through memberships and eventual recognition by the City of Detroit government under its first African American Mayor Coleman A. Young.

BLC has called for the appointment of community members to the board of the Wright Museum. The Coalition is charging that the board has become corporate dominated and non-representative of the city of Detroit which has a more than 80% African American population.

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

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Pity the Nation: War Spending Is Bankrupting America

March 13th, 2019 by John W. Whitehead

“Pity the nation whose people are sheep

And whose shepherds mislead them

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars

Whose sages are silenced

And whose bigots haunt the airwaves

Pity the nation that raises not its voice

Except to praise conquerors

And acclaim the bully as hero

And aims to rule the world

By force and by torture…

Pity the nation oh pity the people

who allow their rights to erode

and their freedoms to be washed away…”

—Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet

War spending is bankrupting America.

Our nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments.

America has so much to offer—creativity, ingenuity, vast natural resources, a rich heritage, a beautifully diverse populace, a freedom foundation unrivaled anywhere in the world, and opportunities galore—and yet our birthright is being sold out from under us so that power-hungry politicians, greedy military contractors, and bloodthirsty war hawks can make a hefty profit at our expense.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs.

It’s all a ruse.

You know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government’s fiscal year? Government agencies—including the Department of Defense—go on a “use it or lose it” spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year.

We’re not talking chump change, either.

We’re talking $97 billion worth of wasteful spending.

According to an investigative report by Open the Government, among the items purchased during the last month of the fiscal year when government agencies go all out to get rid of these “use it or lose it” funds: Wexford Leather club chair ($9,241), china tableware ($53,004), alcohol ($308,994), golf carts ($673,471), musical equipment including pianos, tubas, and trombones ($1.7 million), lobster tail and crab ($4.6 million), iPhones and iPads ($7.7 million), and workout and recreation equipment ($9.8 million).

So much for draining the swamp.

Anyone who suggests that the military needs more money is either criminally clueless or equally corrupt, because the military isn’t suffering from lack of funding—it’s suffering from lack of proper oversight.

Where President Trump fits into that scenario, you decide.

Trump may turn out to be, as policy analyst Stan Collender warned, “the biggest deficit- and debt-increasing president of all time.”

Rest assured, however, that if Trump gets his way—to the tune of a $4.7 trillion budget that digs the nation deeper in debt to foreign creditors, adds $750 billion for the military budget, and doubles the debt growth that Trump once promised to erase—the war profiteers (and foreign banks who “own” our debt) will be raking in a fortune while America goes belly up.

This is basic math, and the numbers just don’t add up.

As it now stands, the U.S. government is operating in the negative on every front: it’s spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily (from foreign governments and Social Security) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad.

Certainly, nothing about the way the government budgets its funds puts America’s needs first.

The nation’s educational system is pathetic (young people are learning nothing about their freedoms or their government). The infrastructure is antiquated and growing more outdated by the day. The health system is overpriced and inaccessible to those who need it most. The supposedly robust economy is belied by the daily reports of businesses shuttering storefronts and declaring bankruptcy. And our so-called representative government is a sham.

If this is a formula for making America great again, it’s not working.

The White House wants taxpayers to accept that the only way to reduce the nation’s ballooning deficit is by cutting “entitlement” programs such as Social Security and Medicare, yet the glaring economic truth is that at the end of the day, it’s the military industrial complex—and not the sick, the elderly or the poor—that is pushing America towards bankruptcy.

We have become a debtor nation, and the government is sinking us deeper into debt with every passing day that it allows the military industrial complex to call the shots.

Simply put, the government cannot afford to maintain its over-extended military empire.

Money is the new 800-pound gorilla,” remarked a senior administration official involved in Afghanistan. “It shifts the debate from ‘Is the strategy working?’ to ‘Can we afford this?’ And when you view it that way, the scope of the mission that we have now is far, far less defensible.” Or as one commentator noted, “Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.”

To be clear, the U.S government’s defense spending is about one thing and one thing only: establishing and maintaining a global military empire.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined.

In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $4.7 trillion waging its endless wars.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

Then there’s the cost of maintaining and staffing the 1000-plus U.S. military bases spread around the world and policing the globe with 1.3 million U.S. troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide).

Future wars and military exercises waged around the globe are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

The U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have on a military empire it can’t afford.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card, “essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors.

As The Nation reports:

For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress—representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions—knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the DoD the following year.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government.

Mind you, this isn’t just corrupt behavior. It’s deadly, downright immoral behavior.

The U.S. government is not making the world any safer. It’s making the world more dangerous. It is estimated that the U.S. military drops a bomb somewhere in the world every 12 minutes. Since 9/11, the United States government has directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000. Every one of those deaths was paid for with taxpayer funds.

The U.S. government is not making America any safer. It’s exposing American citizens to alarming levels of blowback, a CIA term referring to the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities. Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant, repeatedly warned that America’s use of its military to gain power over the global economy would result in devastating blowback.

Those who call the shots in the government—those who push the military industrial complex’s agenda—those who make a killing by embroiling the U.S. in foreign wars—have not heeded Johnson’s warning.

The U.S. government is not making American citizens any safer. The repercussions of America’s military empire have been deadly, not only for those innocent men, women and children killed by drone strikes abroad but also those here in the United States.

The 9/11 attacks were blowback. The Boston Marathon Bombing was blowback. The attempted Times Square bomber was blowback. The Fort Hood shooter, a major in the U.S. Army, was blowback.

The transformation of America into a battlefield is blowback.

All of this carnage is being carried out with the full support of the American people, or at least with the proxy that is our taxpayer dollars.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

As Martin Luther King Jr. recognized, under a military empire, war and its profiteering will always take precedence over the people’s basic human needs.

Similarly, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?”

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today.

It’s not sustainable, of course.

Eventually, inevitably, military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome. It’s happening again.

The America empire is already breaking down.

We’re already witnessing a breakdown of society on virtually every front, and the government is ready.

For years now, the government has worked with the military to prepare for widespread civil unrest brought about by “economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”

For years now, the government has been warning against the dangers of domestic terrorism, erecting surveillance systems to monitor its own citizens, creating classification systems to label any viewpoints that challenge the status quo as extremist, and training law enforcement agencies to equate anyone possessing anti-government views as a domestic terrorist.

We’re approaching critical mass.

As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to wage its costly, meaningless, endless wars abroad, the American homeland will continue to suffer: our roads will crumble, our bridges will fail, our schools will fall into disrepair, our drinking water will become undrinkable, our communities will destabilize, our economy will tank, crime will rise, and our freedoms will suffer.

So who will save us?

As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’d better start saving ourselves: one by one, neighbor to neighbor, through grassroots endeavors, by pushing back against the police state where it most counts—in our communities first and foremost, and by holding fast to what binds us together and not allowing politics and other manufactured nonrealities to tear us apart.

Start today. Start now. Do your part.

Literally and figuratively, the buck starts and stops with “we the people.”

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Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

Featured image is from Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) presented a bill on Tuesday before the US Congress in which they seek to prohibit the official recognition and rights of Cuban trademarks in the United States.

The bipartisan and bicameral legislation, named “No Stolen Trademarks Honored in America Act”, would affect trademarks supposedly linked with nationalized properties after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959. A companion bill was presented in the House of Representatives by the congressmen Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and John Rutherford (R-FL).

Its purpose is to prohibit US courts from “recognizing, enforcing or validating” any assertion of rights by an individual of a trademark that was used in connection with a business or assets that were nationalized by Cuba, unless “the original owner of the brand has expressly consented.”

To illustrate the case, Rubio mentioned, in a press release, the legal battle between the Bacardi against Cuba for the rights of the Havana Club trademark. In 1993, Pernod Ricard S. A. and Cuba Ron S. A. launched a joint venture in charge of the production, marketing and commercialization of the Havana Club brand throughout the world.

As a response, Bacardi filed for the right to use Havana Club in the U.S., which was registered since 1974, through the commercialization of a rum produced in Puerto Rico. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ignored this claim and in 2016 designated the state company Cubaexport as the legitimate international representative of the renowned rum, dismissing Bacardi.

The proposed bill would prohibit the joint venture Pernod Ricard / Cuba Ron from using the rights related to Havana Club, as part of a series of measures to increase the economic assault against the island.

Rubio and Menendez’ bill appears 23 years after the approval of the “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act”, commonly known as Helms-Burton. The law was signed on March 12, 1996, in Bill Clinton’s Administration, with the objective of affecting foreign investment to the island and accentuating the economic effects of the embargo.

On the infamous anniversary, the President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, pointed out that the law is absurd and illegal, adding that “you can not legislate against the world, or ignore the sovereignty of each country. Cuba is an independent and sovereign nation that respects and demands respect. Imperialists learn at once: dignity is invincible #WeareCuba.”

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Groups behind BattleForTheNet.com pledge to call, text, and email constituents of lawmakers who fail to cosponsor net neutrality bill before leaving DC for recess.

Today, activists behind BattleForTheNet.com launched an updated Congressional “scoreboard” showing where every member of Congress stands on the Save The Internet Act to overturn the FCC’s repeal of basic open Internet protections. The announcement comes as Communications and Technology subcommittee members convene on Capitol Hill to discuss net neutrality legislation. The activists have given lawmakers until COB March 15th–right before they leave for the March in-district recess–to cosponsor the bill, otherwise groups promise to unleash a flood of calls, emails, and tweets from their district.

The updated scoreboard shows which members of Congress truly support net neutrality by cosponsoring the Save the Internet Act, and reveals how much they’ve taken in campaign contributions from telecom companies. The scoreboard is a project of BattleForTheNet.com, a net neutrality action site maintained by Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press Action Fund.

image

Today’s announcement also comes on the heels of a new crowdfunding campaign launched by Fight for the Future late last night to put up a billboard in Phoenix targeting Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the only Democratic member of the Senate who has not cosponsored the bill.

“Enough is enough. There are absolutely no excuses for not supporting this bill,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her). “Voters from across the political spectrum are pissed off and have made it very clear that they want strong net neutrality rules back in place as soon as possible. At this point, members of Congress can consider themselves on notice: if you choose to put the telecom giants ahead of your constituents, we will make sure that every single one of your constituents knows you sold them out for cable money. You have until close of business on Friday, March 15th.”

“It is unreal that there is any member of Congress who is still on the wrong side of this issue,” said Free Press Action Fund Campaign Director Candace Clement.“The Save The Internet Act is exactly the right way to safeguard Net Neutrality. It draws on the overwhelming bipartisan support for real Net Neutrality, including support among vast majorities of Republican, Democratic and independent voters. And it fixes the Trump FCC’s massive mistake when it repealed the Open Internet Order in 2017. People, by the millions, protested that FCC decision, and they’ve rejected the empty rhetoric and lies of phone- and cable-industry lobbyists. It’s time every member of Congress did the same and joined us in support of the Save The Internet Act.”

“For lawmakers who claim to stand for their constituents and against special interests in Washington, supporting this bill should be one of the easiest things they do this year,” said Mark Stanley, director of communications for Demand Progress. “The Save the Internet Act restores strong net neutrality protections that benefit every person who depends on the open internet to access information, communicate, or run a small business. The tired attacks hurled at this bill and similar measures have proven to be based on industry-backed lies, time and again. Simply put, there’s no excuse — every lawmaker should get behind the Save the Internet Act to restore crucial and commonsense protections for their constituents.”

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An earlier version of this article was published on March 13, 2013. Updated March 2, 2019.

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UPDATE

There are ongoing military threats against Venezuela and Iran. Is a US sponsored war contemplated for March 2019?

The cyber-attack on Venezuela’s Electric grid affecting up to 80% of the country constitutes a de facto act of war. Was the US government behind this attack?  Maduro says that the Pentagon and US Southern Command masterminded a “cyber-attack against the electrical, telecommunication and internet systems”.

On March 10, Washington confirmed its intent to carry out regime change. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the US Congress to appropriate half a billion dollars “to restore the economy of the Venezuelan nation (sic) (and) help Juan Guaido.” This statement should be interpreted as a de facto “declaration of war”. 

Various scenarios are envisaged by Washington. Sofar there is no firm evidence regarding the nature or timeline of a US sponsored military operation directed against Venezuela.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have confirmed their intent to wage war on Iran.

Michel Chossudovsky, March 13, 2019

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Is it a mere coincidence?

In recent history, from the Vietnam war to the present, the month of March has been chosen by Pentagon and NATO military planners as the “best month” to go to war.

With the exception of the War on Afghanistan (October 2001) and the 1990-91 Gulf War, all major US-NATO and allied led military operations over a period of more than half a century –since the invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces on March 8, 1965– have been initiated in the month of March.

The Ides of March (Idus Martiae) is a day in the Roman calendar which broadly corresponds to March 15. The Ides of March is also known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC.

Lest we forget, the month of March (in the Roman Calendar) is dedicated to Mars (Martius), the Roman God of War.

For the Romans, the month of March (Martius) marked “the time to start new military campaigns.”

As in the heyday of the Roman Empire, the US Department of Defense has a mandate to plan and implement a precise “timeline” of military operations.

Does the month of March –identified by the Romans as a “good time” to initiate new military undertakings–, have a bearing on contemporary military doctrine?

Throughout history, seasons including the transition from Winter to Spring have played a strategic role in the timing of military operations.

Do Pentagon military planners favor the month of March?

Do they also –in some mysterious fashion– “idolize” Mars, the Roman God of War?

March 23 (which coincides with the beginning of Spring) was the day “Romans celebrated the start of the military campaign and war fighting season.”

“Homage was paid to Mars the god of war with festivals and feasting. … For the Romans March 23 was a huge celebration known as Tubilustrium”.

Under these festivities which celebrated the Roman god of war, a large part of the month of March “was dedicated to military celebration and preparedness.”

Timeline of March US Military Interventions (1965- 2017)

Recent history confirms that with the exception of Afghanistan (October 2001) and the 1990-91 Gulf War, all major US-NATO led military operations over a period of almost half a century –since the invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces on March 8, 1965– have been initiated in the month of March.

The Vietnam War

The US Congress adopted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Lyndon Johnson to dispatch ground forces to Vietnam on March 8, 1965.

On 8 March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam marking the beginning of “America’s ground war”.

NATO’s War on Yugoslavia

NATO’s war on Yugoslavia was launched on March 24, 1999.

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia code-named by the US Operation “Noble Anvil”. started on March 24, 1999 and lasted until June 10, 1999.

The Iraq War

The War on Iraq was launched on March 20, 2003. (Baghdad time)

The US-NATO led invasion of Iraq started on 20 March 2003 on the pretext that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

(The 1991 Gulf War on Iraq began on 17th January. However, after the 28th February ceasefire was agreed and signed – following the Basra Road massacre of withdrawing soldiers and fleeing civilians on 26th/27th February – the US 24th Mechanised Infantry Division slaughtered thousands on 2nd March.”)

The Covert War on Syria

The US-NATO Covert War on Syria was initiated on March 15, 2011 with the incursion Islamist mercenaries and death squads in the southern city of Daraa on the border with Jordan.

The terrorists were involved in acts of arson as well as the killings of civilians. This incursion of terrorists was from the very outset supported covertly by the US, NATO and its Persian Gulf allies: Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

NATO’s “Humanitarian” R2P War on Libya

NATO commenced its bombing of Libya on March 19, 2011. The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution on 26 February 2011 (UNSC Resolution 1970), (adopted unanimously).

A subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted on 17 March 2011. It authorized the establishment of “a no-fly zone” over Libya, and the use “all necessary measures” “to protect the lives of civilians”.

Libya was bombed relentlessly by NATO warplanes starting on March 19, 2011 for a period of approximately seven months.

Yemen

On 25 March 2015, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the US launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen.

Venezuela

Recent statements suggest that a military intervention directed against Venezuela is on the drawing board of the Pentagon.

Vice President Pence was categorical in this regard at the Lima Group meeting in Bogota (February 25, 2019).

Various scenarios are contemplated. “There is no turning back,.. All options are on the table.” said Pence.

Meanwhile, the US has sent in special forces into Colombia, US Air Force “reconnaissance flights” have been dispatched to the Venezuelan coast to “gather classified intelligence”.

At this stage, while there is evidence of “war preparedness” there is no firm evidence as to the timeline or nature of a US-sponsored operation involving Colombia and Brazil.

 

 

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Major bilateral differences are over structural issues, the US trade deficit with China a minor one by comparison.

Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference vice chairman Zhang Qingli said

“China never wants a trade war with anybody…but we also do not fear such a war,” adding:

“The US side has disregarded a consensus with China after multiple rounds of consultations, insisting on waging a trade war against China, (threatening) to escalate it” if its demands aren’t met.

Multiple rounds of talks failed to resolve all major issues. According to economists and political analysts, bilateral trade differences are harming investment in both countries.

A Rhodium Group/Mercator Institute for China Studies report said investments by Chinese firms in EU countries declined by 40% last year.

Acquisition of US tech companies by Chinese firms declined by two-thirds in 2018, according to financial data company Refinitiv. US acquisitions of Chinese firms also declined sharply.

For these and overall economic reasons, ruling authorities of both countries want resolution of bilateral differences.

China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said

“(t)he work team is still continuing to negotiate because we still have a lot to do.”

Xi and Trump won’t meet in late March or April unless able to formally sign off on a deal. Representatives of both countries may hold further talks in Beijing in the coming days, likely after China’s National People’s Congress ends on March 15.

A key area of dispute involves enforcement, along with the Trump regime insisting on its right to raise tariffs on Chinese imports if it claims Beijing violated agreed on terms – without retaliation by Xi, what his government considers an infringement of its sovereign rights.

How US tariffs will be rescinded if a deal is reached remains unresolved. China wants no delay in their lifting. The Trump regime wants it done gradually, both sides so far at an impasse over this issue and others – mainly structural ones.

Beijing wants no foreign restraints imposed on its ability and goal to develop economically, industrially and technologically. The Trump regime’s aim is polar opposite – the greatest obstacle to bilateral relations whatever may be agreed on ahead.

No meeting between Xi and Trump is scheduled so far. Without one, no deal is likely. China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said

“(d)uring the last 90 days, the sides held three rounds of talks at the high level,” adding:

“Chinese Vice Premier Liu He has recently visited the United States for the talks as the head of a Chinese delegation. The process of consultations was extremely difficult and time-consuming.”

“Due to the difference in state systems, culture and the stages of development, the two countries are very different.”

Key issues remain unresolved.

On Sunday, China’s Global Times (GT) said bilateral trade talks are “poised on a knife-edge…(Trump) stressed that he wants either a good deal or no deal.”

No preparations are underway for a summit between both leaders. A key difference between both sides involves the Trump regime saying it’ll “impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products any time it feels that China does not fully implement the agreement while China should not retaliate. China believes this is an intrusion on (its) sovereignty and has rejected the proposition.”

Both sides resolved various differences. “But given the different opinions within the US and the capriciousness of US government as a whole, a highly sensitive period is expected before a final agreement is signed.”

Both sides know each other’s bottom lines, no major changes in their positions likely ahead. If talks fail, “the US will suffer more pain, and at a greater cost, than it is currently already suffering,” said GT, adding:

“Particularly when the economic perspective for the US in 2019 is not as optimistic as that for last year and the new election season is drawing near, the US is not any better than China at enduring the political pressure of a continuing trade war.”

A final deal must be fair to both sides. Neither country benefits by pushing the other too far. Will things be resolved in the weeks ahead?

It’s in the interest of both nations to forge an agreement – compromise and fairness the only way to achieve it.

Given Washington’s record of breaching deals agreed on, whatever Sino/US accommodation is reached will be tenuous at best.

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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.

Extorquir dinheiro a troco de protecção não é apanágio só da mafia. – Trump advertiu, ameaçadoramente, num discurso no Pentágono – “Os países ricos que estamos a proteger estão todos avisados: deverão pagar pela nossa protecção.”

O Presidente Trump – revela a Bloomberg – está prestes a apresentar o plano “Cost Plus 50” que estabelece o seguinte critério: os países aliados que hospedam  forças americanas no seu território terão de cobrir integralmente as despesas e pagar 50% de custos adicionais aos EUA, em troca do “privilégio” de albergá-los e, assim, serem “protegidos” por eles.

O plano prevê que os países anfitriões também paguem os salários dos militares USA e os custos da gestão dos aviões e navios de guerra que os Estados Unidos têm nesses países. A Itália deveria, portanto, pagar não só os salários de cerca de 12.000 soldados americanos estacionados aqui, como também os custos da gestão dos caças F-16 e de outros aviões instalados pelos EUA, em Aviano e Sigonella, e os custos da Sexta Frota, fundeada em Gaeta.

De acordo com o mesmo critério, também devemos pagar pela gestão de Camp Darby, o maior arsenal USA fora da mãe pátria, e pela manutenção das bombas nucleares USA, localizadas em Aviano e Ghedi. Não se sabe quanto os Estados Unidos pretendem pedir à Itália e aos outros países europeus que hospedam as suas forças militares, pois que nem se sabe quanto esses países pagam actualmente. Os documentos estão cobertos pelo segredo militar.

Segundo um estudo da Rand Corporation, os países europeus da NATO suportam, em média, 34% dos custos das forças e das bases USA presentes nos seus territórios. Não se sabe, no entanto, qual o montante anual que pagam aos EUA: a única estimativa – 2,5 biliões de dólares – remonta há 17 anos. Portanto, o valor pago pela Itália  também é secreto. Apenas se conhecem algumas referências: por exemplo, dezenas de milhões de euros para adaptar os aeroportos de Aviano e Ghedi ao caça F-35 dos EUA e às novas bombas nucleares B61-12 que os EUA começarão a instalar em Itália, em 2020, e cerca de 100 milhões para os trabalhos na Base Aérea americana, em Sigonella, também a cargo da Itália.

Em Sigonella, é financiada pelos EUA, só a NAS I, a área administrativa e recreativa, enquanto a NAS II, a dos departamentos operacionais e, portanto, a mais cara, é financiada pela NATO, ou seja, também pela Itália. No entanto, é certo – prevê um investigador da Rand Corp – que, com o plano “Cost Plus 50”, os custos para os aliados “disparem até às estrelas”. Fala-se de um aumento de 600%. Serão adicionados às despesas militares que, em Itália, atingem cerca de 70 milhões de euros por dia, destinados a subir para cerca de 100 milhões, de acordo com os compromissos assumidos pelos governos italianos na sede da NATO.

Trata-se de dinheiro público, que sai dos nossos bolsos, subtraído a investimentos produtivos e a despesas sociais. É possível, no entanto, que a Itália possa pagar menos pelas forças e bases norte-americanas instaladas no seu território. De facto, o plano “Cost Plus 50” prevê um “desconto por bom comportamento” a favor dos “aliados que se alinham de perto com os Estados Unidos, fazendo o que eles exigem”.

É certo que a Itália terá um grande desconto, pois que, de governo em governo, foi sempre mantida na peugada dos Estados Unidos.

Ultimamente, enviando tropas e aviões de guerra para a Europa de Leste, com a motivação de enfrentar a “ameaça russa” e favorecendo o plano dos EUA de abandonar o Tratado INF a fim de instalar na Europa, incluindo Itália, mísseis nucleares apontados para a Rússia. Sendo alvo de uma possível retaliação, precisaremos como “protecção”, de outras forças e bases USA. Teremos de pagá-las, mas sempre com desconto.

Manlio Dinucci

Artigo original em italiano :

Sale alle stelle il prezzo della «protezione» UsaBy Manlio Dinucci, March 12, 2019

il manifesto, 12 de Março de 2019

Tradutora: Maria Luísa de Vasconcellos

 

VIDEO (PandoraTV) :

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“Gimme Some Truth”. John Lennon’s Message Resonates

March 12th, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

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Gimme Some Truth

John Lennon, The Plastic Ono Band

I’m sick and tired of hearing things from
Uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
Money for dope, money for rope
 

John Lennon wrote that song in 1971, and its value as message resonates even better today. His lyrics refer to some as ‘uptight, short sided (he meant ‘sighted’?) narrow minded hypo critics (he may have even meant those in the media who ‘critique’ the news) ‘. How sad that almost 50 years have passed and our A) Mainstream Media B) Politicians  and C) The Corporate Consumer machine are still at it.

They are equal opportunity bullshit artists, undertaking the task of distorting the truth about what is affecting our society. Of course, behind the OZ curtain stand the wizards who control how we working stiffs should think, vote and shop. There was a cogent scene from Robert DeNiro’s  2006 film The Good Sheperd. In the film Matt Damon plays a CIA official who visits a Mafia leader (played by Joe Pesci), asking for some covert help. At the end of their visit, Pesci says (I am paraphrasing) ‘Let me ask you a question. Every group has something that they are known for. You know, the Niggers have their music, we Italians have the family… what do your people have?’ Damon looks at him and answers’ We have America, and you’re all just visitors.’

The brainwashing has been going on for so long that it’s tough for minds to be deprogrammed through basic human discourse. Case in point: This writer has written consistently about my idea for a 50% Flat Surtax on any income over and above $1,000,000 a year. The first one million would be taxed at the regular rate of around 37% (before deductions) and would have no bearing on the surtax. When I discuss the plan with many working stiffs out there, the overwhelming majority of them  tell me ‘Oh that’s too much! Why not start at $ 5 million?’ There you have it. The American Dream is alive and well in the psyche of our fellows. A good analogy to remember regarding the mainstream news outlets, electronic and print, is this:  You will know when you hear of a good, viable idea when the mainstream news rarely or hardly ever covers it. Ditto for our sacred elected officials. As far as our great Military Industrial Empire, stop believing the lies that are filtered out by both the Pentagon and of course the corporate world. Commercials as to our brave military that keeps us ‘ FREE’ , or commercials about how the ‘for profit’ health care industry cares about your wellbeing…. mute that boob tube! Folks, there is no ‘truth in advertising’!

March 19th will be the 16th anniversary of one of the most heinous acts by our government… right up there, most assuredly, with 9/11. In both cases, elements within the inner circles of the Bush/Cheney Cabal must have skewed all that they could to arrive at what transpired. The sacrifice of tens of thousands (in NYC and environs, what with the after effects of the towers being destroyed) and perhaps millions of Iraqi civilians, along with the destruction of one of the most modern countries in the Middle East, should give any decent person the desire, NO the drive, for truth. Those two actions by covert actors is why there is such a refugee crisis in Europe. It is also why there even is an ISIL or whatever our government calls those religious fanatics. If not for US imperialist (a word not used enough nowadays) actions in the Middle East, there would be maybe a few thousand fanatics in all those nations.

John Lennon was spot on in 1971. Without the mass of working stiffs demanding just that, TRUTH, our nation will continue to go down that rabbit hole.

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

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Information Commissioner rules that Brexit department must release names of European Research Group MPs, following openDemocracy Freedom of Information appeal

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There are few more powerful forces in British politics at present than the pro-Brexit European Research Group. The influential group of Tory MPs, led by Jacob-Rees Mogg, has pledged to torpedo Theresa May’s Brexit deal when it returns to the Commons on Tuesday. But just who the ERG are has long been shrouded in secrecy.

The ERG’s various spokespeople have long refused to name its members, or even confirm how many supporters it has – despite the group being funded by taxpayer money. In a ‘car crash’ interview with Channel 4 News in 2017, Tory MP Suella Fernandes said that a list of ERG members was “available if necessary”. No such list has ever been published.

Now that secrecy is set to end, after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) must release a list of ERG members. The move comes after openDemocracy appealed to the information watchdog when DExEU redacted the names of ERG members named in a 2017 email exchange with then Brexit minister Steve Baker.

Baker, a former ERG chair, became a minister in June 2017. Just weeks later, he offered a private briefing for the ERG on the so-called Great Repeal Bill, the parliamentary act for provides for leaving the European Union. One email noted how there is a “larger group” and “a smaller more senior one” within the ERG.

Following a Freedom of Information request, openDemocracy revealed the existence of Baker’s offer last year. But DExEU redacted the email correspondence so that the ERG members could not be identified.

However, the information commissioner has now rejected DExEU’s claim that releasing the names of ERG members included in Baker’s email would breach data protection laws.

“The names and parliament email addresses of the MPs, MEPs and Lords redacted from the emails disclosed should be provided,” the ICO ruled. The ICO added that ERG members’ names are “constantly placed in the public domain” and “they frequently use publicly accessible Twitter accounts to provide their views”.

The ERG, which has been described by Tory sources as ‘a party within a party’, has used hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to fund its operations, but has repeatedly refused to make public the names of its members.

The ERG’s ranks have included a number of prominent cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling. Steve Baker has emerged as among the most vocal critic of the prime minister’s Brexit deal since resigning from the government last year over May’s Chequers proposals.

Screenshot 2019-03-11 at 17.03.29.png

‘Resisting transparency’

The ICO ordering DExEU to release the names of those redacted in the communications could shed further light on who exactly is attached the hardline pro-Brexit group.

Transparency International hailed the Information Regulator’s ruling as “very timely given the current political debate” and urged DExEU “to comply as a matter of urgency”.

“The gravity of decisions under ministerial consideration are almost incomparable in living memory. It is therefore of utmost importance that the public are not kept in the dark about how these are made and whose interests are in play. Resisting such transparency only raises the suspicion that there is something to hide,” said Steve Goodrich, senior research officer at Transparency International.

DExEU has around a month to release the list of ERG members. Responding to questions from openDemocracy, the department said:

“We are considering the ICO’s decision and will issue our response in due course.”

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake accused DExEU of a “shameless attempt” “to shroud in secrecy its meetings with the ERG” and of “a desperate ploy to conceal how a cabal of MPs are puppeteering spineless Minister.”

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said that it was “completely unacceptable that we have to rely on the Information Commissioner” to discover the identity of the ERG’s core membership.

“These are the people who are currently holding our country to ransom and working to take us crashing over the Brexit cliff edge in two weeks’ time, yet they refuse to operate transparently and honour the accepted rules of democratic and political behaviour,” Bradshaw said.

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‘Secretive yet influential’

The ERG is a secretive yet influential group composed of backbench Conservative MPs, many of whom have pushed for a no-deal Brexit. The group also has strong connections to pro-Brexit think tanks such as the Institute for Economic Affairs.

openDemocracy has previously revealed how the ERG operates a secret second bank account, despite taking at least a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers’ money.

The ERG has also accepted a donation from the Constitutional Research Council – a secretive organisation that channelled a controversial £435,000 donation to the DUP’s Brexit campaign. The organisation is headed by Richard Cook, a former Conservative general election candidate implicated in illegal international waste shipments.

The ERG is classed as a parliamentary research service provider which produces materials for its members. This research is not made public. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) reviews the output produced by parliamentary research service providers, including the ERG.

Using Freedom of Information legislation, openDemocracy has requested that the parliamentary watchdog disclose research materials produced by the ERG that it holds. IPSA has so far refused, but openDemocracy will be arguing for the release of the materials at the Information Tribunal. The hearing scheduled to take place on May 2.

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