The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is responding to poll numbers and other indications of declining support among younger voters by deploying its most prominent surrogates to college campuses.

The moves come a day after two national surveys, one conducted by Quinnipiac University and the other by CBS News and the New York Times, found that more than a third of voters under the age of 30 plan to vote for third-party presidential candidates.

Clinton is widely despised, especially by young people. According to the Quinnipiac University poll, Clinton has the support of just 31 percent of voters aged 18-34, with 29 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson, 25 percent for Republican Donald Trump and 15 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Another poll, published in Bloomberg News, found that Clinton leads Trump by only 36 to 33 percent among young voters in Ohio, with Johnson drawing the support of 22 percent, contributing heavily to her overall five-point deficit to Trump in the state.

Press reports suggest that the Democratic Party was planning to refocus its efforts to reach young people by attacking Johnson and Stein and warning that any vote for one of these third-party candidates would help elect Trump as president. Former Vice President Al Gore, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders all made appearances in different venues on Friday to insist that young people must back Clinton.

The New York Times wrote, referring to younger voters, that they “recoil at Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent, but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.”

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Hillary Clinton’s once-commanding lead among young voters has nearly collapsed, several polls show, a factor making the presidential race much closer in recent weeks and prompting the Clinton campaign to move quickly to keep a core Democratic constituency in the fold.

In its most visible response, the campaign has begun sending the party’s most popular stars to college campuses to urge students not to sit out the election or back third-party candidates, who are drawing support from young voters.

In Ohio, one of the most important “battleground” states, the Clinton campaign has deployed the two most prominent “left” figures in the US Senate, Clinton’s principal challenger for the nomination Sanders and Warren, to speak at major Ohio college campuses in order to corral young voters behind the Democrats.

Sanders speaks at the University of Akron and Kent State University this weekend, while Warren will appear at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Cleveland State University.

Michelle Obama kicked off the weekend campus blitz with an appearance Friday night at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Ohio is one of a number of “Rust Belt” states that have been devastated by decades of deindustrialization, and further ruined by the 2008 financial crisis. Facing a dearth of jobs, the only “viable” futures presented to young people are: enlist in the armed forces or attend college in the hope that employment prospects will be better after graduating with a degree—along with thousands of dollars in debt. According to the state’s Development Services Agency, half a million youth aged 18-34 live in poverty.

In sending Sanders and Warren to the heavily contested state, the Clinton campaign is attempting to pull one of the most disaffected demographics in the electorate back into the campaign of the Democratic Party.

Sanders has worked for decades within the orbit of the Democratic Party. During the primaries he won some 13 million voters, including large numbers of young people. The senator’s “political revolution” now consists of trying to convince his supporters to back the favored candidates of the “millionaires and billionaires” he used to denounce. He has refused to criticize the Obama administration’s bailout of Wall Street banks and has remained silent on the US’s escalating drive to world war.

Warren’s “progressive” credentials are based on her academic publications detailing the economic hardship of middle-income families, and her subsequent roles in advisory and regulatory bodies, including the Congressional Oversight Panel. She has defended the Obama administration’s assault on working conditions while spouting empty criticisms of Wall Street.

According to the campaign’s official announcement, Sanders and Warren “will emphasize Clinton’s plans to make free community college and debt-free college available to all Americans, protect access to health care for Americans, reform our immigration system … raise the minimum wage and protect our climate.”

These are all empty gestures. Clinton is pledged to continue the policy of the Obama administration, which has overseen a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the super-rich.

Not on the agenda for discussion at these campus meetings are Clinton’s plans for war. Clinton’s political record as a war hawk stretches back more than 20 years, longer than the entire life span of many of the young voters her campaign is striving to ensnare. As First Lady to President Bill Clinton, she actively supported the bombing campaigns in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.

Clinton has consistently acted as one of the most hawkish figures in the American political establishment. Since supporting the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, she has consistently voted against troop withdrawals and for the continued funding of a war that, to date, has killed more than a million people over the course of thirteen years. As head of the Department of State from 2009 to 2013, she played a pivotal role in prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

The Clinton campaign’s attacks on Republican rival Donald Trump have been based on the right-wing assertions that Trump is a puppet of Russian interests and “unqualified” to be Commander-in-Chief—that is, “unqualified” to lead the military-intelligence establishment. Her bid for the presidency has the formal endorsement of 95 retired generals and admirals.

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US special operations troops were compelled to flee from a village in northern Syria Friday after their lives were threatened by elements of the so-called Free Syrian Army, the amorphous group of Islamist militias that Washington has backed in its five-year-old war for regime change.

A video posted online showed a column of vehicles carrying the American special forces operatives speeding out of the village as a crowd of Islamist jihadis waving automatic weapons chanted anti-American slogans and death threats.

“We’re going to slaughter you,” the so-called “moderate rebels,” shouted. “Down with America. Get out you pigs.”

An individual who appeared to be leading the demonstration shouted,

“The collaborators of America are dogs and pigs. They wage a crusader war against Syria and Islam.” Another man shouted, “Christians and Americans have no place among us.”

The appearance of the video coincided with the first report carried by the Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon had deployed a unit of 40 special forces troops to assist the Turkish army, which invaded Syria last month in an operation dubbed Euphrates Shield. It marks the first such direct attempt at US-Turkish collaboration in Syria since the Obama administration ordered the deployment of several hundred special operations troops in the country last spring.

While ostensibly the joint operation is aimed at routing the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) from towns it has occupied in northern Syria, Ankara’s overriding aim is to drive back Syrian Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and prevent them from consolidating an autonomous Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border.

The videotaped incident took place outside the village of al-Rai near the Turkish border. It is on the road leading south to the ISIS-held town of al-Bab, which is seen as a strategic link between the predominantly Kurdish cantons of Kobani and Afin. The YPG Kurdish forces are determined to take the town, while Turkey is determined to deny it to them.

Until recently, the YPG has served as the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the principal US proxy ground forces in the war against ISIS, and had been armed, trained and supported by US special forces “advisers.” The attempt to deploy American special operations troops with the Turkish-backed militias raised the real prospect of US soldiers confronting each other on opposite sides of the battlefield.

The US alliance with the Kurdish forces was undoubtedly a factor in the anger of the so-called FSA fighters depicted in the video. These Sunni sectarian militias, however, are not only hostile to the Kurds, but also share the essential ideology of Al Qaeda.

The confrontation, which was largely blacked out by the US media, exposes the real character of the so-called “moderate opposition” backed by Washington and its regional allies—principally Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—as well as the intractable contradictions created by the criminal and reckless policy pursued by Washington over the past five years in its systematic destruction of Syria.

The episode also provided embarrassing—from the Obama administration’s standpoint—confirmation of the charge levied by Russia that Washington is either unable or unwilling to pressure the Islamist militias that the CIA has armed and paid to abide by the terms of a ceasefire agreement reached last week between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Despite the fact that the ceasefire regime in Syria envisaged by the Russian-US agreement has lasted for four days now, the issue of the general ability of the ‘moderate opposition’ to observe it remains open,” Russian Defense Ministry representative Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Friday. “All attempts by our American partners to demonstrate to the world at least some manageability of their opposition activists in Syria have now failed,” the general added.

Vladimir Savchenko, the chief of Russia’s center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, reported Friday that over the previous 24 hours there had been 39 separate instances of the so-called rebels shelling government positions and civilian areas. He said that the attacks indicated that the US-backed armed opposition was “once again using the ceasefire regime to restore its combat capabilities and regroup its forces.”

Russian officials have expressed particular frustration over Washington’s failure to provide information on the exact locations and the numbers involved of the so-called “moderate rebels,” which under the ceasefire agreement are supposed to separate themselves from the Al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which recently renamed itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

The reality is that the Al Qaeda forces are the dominant armed militias attacking the Syrian government of President Bashir al-Assad, and the existence of a “moderate,” much less secular, opposition is a propaganda invention of the US and its allies. The CIA-supported militias are largely integrated with the Al Nusra forces and could not survive independently of them.

Meanwhile, the US has attempted to foist the blame on the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, for the failure of a column of trucks bearing relief supplies to reach the besieged city of Aleppo. US officials have made it clear that Washington is prepared to utilize the delay as a pretext for abrogating the ceasefire deal, including most critically, the creation of a “joint implementation center” to coordinate US and Russian military operations in Syria.

“If, by Monday we have continued to see reduced violence and no humanitarian access there will be no Joint Implementation Center,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday.

The blocking of the aid column is bound up with the security of the road leading from the Turkish border into “rebel”-held eastern Aleppo, which has been repeatedly shelled by the US-backed militias. The al-Nusra forces that predominate in the area, moreover, have held public demonstrations vowing to block any UN aid in protest against the ceasefire agreement.

The Obama administration has also resisted Russian proposals that the terms of the ceasefire deal be made public and be presented to the United Nations Security Council for its endorsement.

Underlying this reticence are deep divisions within the US state itself over the agreement with Russia. Pentagon officials, including the top uniformed commanders in the Middle East, have publicly expressed reservations over the agreement, indicating that they are not committed to implementing it, despite its having been approved by the US president.

Obama met Friday with Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who reportedly opposed the ceasefire, and other top security officials.

Underlying the political divisions within the US government and statements by top generals bordering on insubordination are not only differences over the crisis-ridden US strategy in Syria. More fundamentally, the US military brass is focused increasingly on a direct military confrontation with Russia, the world’s number two nuclear power, and sees the ceasefire as cutting across the preparations for such a catastrophic conflict.

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Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron is consistent in just one thing – jumping ship when the going gets tough. He announced his resignation   in the immediate wake of the 23rd July referendum in which Britain marginally voted to leave the EU, a referendum which he had fecklessly called to appease right wing “little Englanders”, instead of facing them down.

He lost. The result is looming financial catastrophe and the prospect of unraveling forty three years of legislations (Britain joined the then European Economic Community on 1st January 1973.) No structure was put in place for a government Department to address the legal and bureaucratic enormities should the leave vote prevail. There is still none.

Cameron however committed to staying on as an MP until the 2020 general election, vowing grandiosely: “I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed”, he said of the small island off Europe which he had potentially sunk, now isolated from and derided by swathes of its continental neighbours – with the sound of trading doors metaphorically slamming shut reverberating across the English Channel.

David Cameron has now jumped again, resigning unexpectedly and immediately as an MP on Monday 12th September, giving the impression that he was not in agreement with certain policies of his (unelected) successor, Theresa May. He stated: “Obviously I have my own views about certain issues … As a former PM it’s very difficult to sit as a back-bencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction from what the Government is doing. I don’t want to be that distraction.” What an ego.

Over the decades of course, the House of Parliament has been littered with former Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers who have remained constituency MPs without being a “distraction.”

DEVASTATING INDICTMENT

The following day the real reason for his decision seemed obvious. Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee released their devastating findings on Cameron’s hand in actions resulting in Libya’s near destruction, contributing to the unprecedented migration of those fleeing UK enjoined “liberations”, creating more subsequent attacks in the West – and swelling ISIS and other terrorist factions.

“Cameron blamed for rise of ISIS”, thundered The Times headline, adding: “Damning Inquiry into Libya points finger at former PM.” The Guardian opined: “MPs condemn Cameron over Libya debacle” and: “Errors resulted in country ‘becoming failed state and led to growth of ISIS.’ ”

The Independent owned “I”: “Cameron’s toxic Libya legacy”, with: “Former PM blamed for collapse in to civil war, rise of ISIS and mass migration to Europe in Inquiry’s scathing verdict” and “Cameron ignored lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan …”

The Independent chose: “Cameron’s bloody legacy: Damning Report blames ex-PM for ISIS in Libya.”

No wonder he plopped over the side.

The Report is decimating. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee concluding: “Through his decision-making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister, David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy.”

The disasters leading to that final verdict include the UK’s intervention being based on “erroneous assumption” an “incomplete understanding” of the situation on the ground, with Cameron leaping from limited intervention to an: “opportunist policy of (entirely illegal) regime change”, based on “inadequate intelligence.”

Once Gaddafi had been horrendously assassinated, resultant from the assault on his country: “ … failure to develop a coherent strategy … had led to political and economic collapse, internecine warfare, humanitarian crisis and the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in North Africa.”

After his death, Gaddafi’s body, with that of his son, Mutassim, was laid out on the floor of a meat warehouse in Misrata. (“I”, 14th September 2016.)

“We came, we saw, he died”, then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton told the media, with a peal of laughter. (1) Just under a year later US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three US officials were murdered in Benghazi. Payback time for her words, taken out on the obvious target?

Muammar Gaddafi, his son Muatassim and his former Defence Minister were reportedly buried in unmarked graves in the desert, secretively, before dawn on 25th October 2011. The shocking series of events speaking volumes for the “New Libya” and the Cameron-led, British government’s blood dripping hands in the all.

The UK’s meddling hands were involved from the start. France, Lebanon and the UK, supported by the US, proposed UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Britain was the second country, after France, to call for a “no fly zone” over Libya in order to: “to use all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians. “It neither explicitly authorised the deployment of ground forces nor addressed the question of regime change or of post conflict reconstruction”, reminds the Committee.

Moreover: “France led the international community in advancing the case for military intervention in Libya … UK policy followed decisions taken in France.” Former Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder confirmed to the Committee: “Cameron and Sarkozy were the undisputed leaders in terms of doing something.” (Emphasis added.)

The US was then “instrumental in extending the terms of the Resolution” to even a “no drive zone” and “assumed authority to attack the entire Libyan government’s command and communications network.”

INSTITUTIONAL IGNORANCE

On the 19th March 2011, a nineteen nation “coalition” turned a “no fly zone” into a free fire zone and embarked on a blitzkrieg of a nation of just 6.103 million (2011 figure.)

All this in spite of the revelation to the Committee by former UK Ambassador to Libya Sir Dominic Asquith, that the intelligence base at to what was really happening in the country: “… might well have been less than ideal.”

Professor George Joffe, renowned expert on the Middle East and North Africa, noted: “the relatively limited understanding of events” and that:  “people had not really bothered to monitor closely what was happening.”

Analyst Alison Pargeter: ‘expressed her shock at the lack of awareness in Whitehall of the “history and regional complexities” of Libya.’

Incredibly Whitehall appeared to have been near totally ignorant as to the extent to which the “rebellion” might have been a relatively small group of Islamic extremists.

Former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Richards was apparently unaware that Abdelhakim Belhadj and other Al Qaeda linked members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were involved. “It was a grey area”, he said. However: “a quorum of respectable Libyans were assuring the Foreign Office” that militant Islam would not benefit from the rebellion. “With the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best”, concluded his Lordship.

“The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Militant connections with transnational militant extremist groups were know before 201l, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda”, commented the Committee. (Emphasis added)

Iraq revisited. Back then it was the “respectable” Ahmed Chalabi, Iyad Allawi and their ilk selling a pack of lies to the seemingly ever gullible, supremely unworldly Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Much was made by William Hague, Foreign Secretary at the time and by Liam Fox, then Defence Secretary, of Muammar’s Gaddafi’s threatening rhetoric. The Committee pointed out that: ”Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

Further, two days before the 19 nation onslaught: ‘On 17 March 2011, Muammar Gaddafi announced to the rebels in Benghazi, “Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.”

Subsequent investigation revealed that when Gaddafi’s forces re-took Ajdabiya in February 2011, they did not attack civilians. “Muammar Gaddafi also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops.”

Professor Joffe agreed that Gaddafi’s words were historically at odds with his deeds: “If you go back to the American bombings in the 1980s of Benghazi and Tripoli, rather than trying to remove threats to the regime in the east, in Cyrenaica, Gaddafi spent six months trying to pacify the tribes that were located there. The evidence is that he was well aware of the insecurity of parts of the country and of the unlikelihood (that military assault was the answer.) Therefore, he would have been very careful in the actual response…the fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.”

In June 2011 an Amnesty International investigation failed to find corroborative evidence of mass human rights violations by government troops but did find that: “the rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence” and that: “much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events …”

CONDEMNATION; AIDING ISIS

The Committee wrote damningly:

We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. It may be that the UK Government was unable to analyse the nature of the rebellion in Libya due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight and that it was caught up in events as they developed.

It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.

Moreover: “The deployment of coalition air assets shifted the military balance in the Libyan civil war in favour of the rebels”, with: “The combat performance of rebel ground forces enhanced by personnel and intelligence provided by States such as the UK, France, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.”  Lord Richards informed that the UK “had a few people embedded” with the rebel forces.

Arms and tanks were also provided to the rebels by members of the “coalition” in contravention of Resolution 1973.

Was the aim of the assault regime change or civilian protection? Lord Richard said: “one thing morphed almost ineluctably in to the other.”

The Committee summarized: “The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.” (Emphasis added.)

The Cameron-led UK government had “focused exclusively on military intervention”, under the National Security Council, a Cabinet Committee created by David Cameron.

The Committee’s final observation is:

We note former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisive role when the National Security Council discussed intervention in Libya. We also note that Lord Richards implicitly dissociated himself from that decision in his oral evidence to this inquiry. The Government must commission an independent review of the operation of the NSC … It should be informed by the conclusions of the Iraq Inquiry and examine whether the weaknesses in governmental decision-making in relation to the Iraq intervention in 2003 have been addressed by the introduction of the NSC.

Cameron who said he wanted to be “heir to Blair” seems to have ended up as just that, pivotal cheerleader for the butchery of a sovereign leader, most of his family, government and the destruction of a nation.

Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa . However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa ‘s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest free loans. The price of petrol was around $0.14 per liter and 40 loaves of bread cost just $0.15. Consequently, the UN designated Libya the 53rd highest in the world in human development. (2)

End note: David Cameron jumped ship yet a third time – he refused to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

The full text of the Committee’s findings: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/119/11905.htm#_idTextAnchor023

Notes

  1. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/clinton-on-qaddafi-we-came-we-saw-he-died/
  2. http://www.countercurrents.org/chengu120113.htm

 

 

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Award Winning Author and Scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva

India is steeped in synthesised controversy, created by Monsanto on the first GM crop supposedly-approved for commercialisation in India. Engaged in litigation on many fronts, Monsanto is trying to subvert our Patent Law, our Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, our Essential Commodities Act , our Anti Monopoly Act (Competition Act). It is behaving as if there is no Parliament, no Democracy, no Sovereign Laws in India to which it is subject. Or, it simply does not have any regard for them.

In another theatre, Monsanto and Bayer are merging. They were one as MOBAY (MonsantoBayer), part of the Poison Cartel of IG Farben. Controlling stakes of both Corporations lies with the same private equity firms.

I.G. Farben board member Fritz ter Meer (fifth from right) explains to Adolf Hitler the significance of synthetic rubber, Berlin, 1936, © National Archives, Washington, DC (image right)

The expertise of these companies are those of war. IG Farben – Hitler’s economic power and pre-war Germany’s highest foreign exchange earner – was also a foreign intelligence operation. Herman Shmitz was President of IG Farben, Shmitz’s nephew Max Ilgner was a Director of IG Farben, while Max’s brother Rudolph Ilgner handled the New York arm of the ‘VOWI‘ network as vice president of CHEMNYCO.

Paul Warburg – brother of Max Warburg (Board of Directors, Farben Aufsichsrat) – was one of the founding members of the Federal Reserve System in the United States. He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Max Warburg and Hermann Schmitz played a central role in the Farben empire. Other “guiding hands” of Farben Vorstand included Carl Bosch, Fritz ter Meer, Kurt Oppenheim and George von Schnitzler. Every one of them were adjudged ‘War Criminals’ after World War II, except Paul Warburg.

Monsanto and Bayer have a long history. They made explosives and lethally poisonous gases using shared technologies and sold them to both sides in both  World Wars. The same war chemicals were bought by the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers, from the same manufacturers, with money borrowed from the same federated reserve bank.

MOBAY (MonsantoBayer) supplied ingredients for Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. 20 million gallons of MOBAY defoliants and herbicides were sprayed over South Vietnam. Children are still being born with birth defects, adults have chronic illnesses and cancers, due to their exposure to MOBAY’s chemicals. Monsanto and Bayer’s cross-licensed Agent Orange Resistance has also been cross-developed for decades.

Wars were fought, lives were lost, countries carved into holy lands – with artificial boundaries that suit colonisation and resource grab – while Bayer and Monsanto sold chemicals as bombs and poisons and their brothers provided the loans to buy those bombs.

More recently, according to Monsanto’s website Bayer CropScience AG and Monsanto Co. have “entered into a series of long-term business and licensing agreements related to key enabling agricultural technologies”. This gives Monsanto and Bayer free access to each other’s herbicide and the paired herbicide resistance technology. Through cross licensing agreements like these, mergers and acquisitions, the biotech industry has become the IG Farben of today, with Monsanto in the cockpit.

The Global Chemical and GMO industry – Bayer, Dow Agro, DuPont Pioneer, Mahyco, Monsanto and Syngenta – have come together to form Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII)  to try and become bigger bullies in this assault on India’s farmers, the environment , and democratically framed laws that protect the public and national interest.This is in addition to the lolly-group ABLE, the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises, which tried to challenge India’s Seed Price Control order issued under the Essential commodities Act, in the High Court of Karnataka. The case was dismissed.

The new Group is not “seed Industry”, they produce no seeds. And they try to stretch patents on chemicals to claim ownership on seed, even in countries where patents on seeds and plants are not allowed by law. This is the case in India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and many other countries.

All the Monsanto cases in India are related to Monsanto un-scientifically, illegally and illegitimately claiming patents on seed, in contempt of India’s laws, and trying to collect royalties from the Indian seed industry and Indian farmers. The FSII is an “IG Farben 100 Year Family Reunion”, a federation is a coming together of independent and autonomous entities.

The Farben family chemical cartel was responsible for exterminating people in concentration camps . They embody a century of ecocide and genocide, carried out in the name of scientific experimentation and innovation. Today the poison cartel is wearing G-Engineering clothes, and citing the mantra of “innovation” ad nauseum. Hitlers concentration camps were an “innovation” in killing. 100 years later, the Farben Family are carrying out the same extermination, silently, globally, much more efficiently.

Monsanto’s “innovation” of collecting illegal royalties and pushing Indian farmers to suicide is also an innovation in killing without liability, indirectly. Just because there is a new way to kill does not make killing right, or a right. “Innovation” like every human activity, has limits – limits set by ethics, justice, democracy, the rights of people, the rights of nature.

I G Farben was tried at Nuremburg. We have national laws to protect people, their right to life and public health, and  the environment. India’s Biosafety laws and Patent, and Plant Variety Act are designed to regulate greedy owners of corporations – with a history of crimes against nature and humanity.

Industry is getting ready to push its next “gene” the  GM-Mustard (DMH-11). The GM mustard being promoted as a public sector “innovation” is based on barnase/barstar/ gene system to create male-sterile plants and a bar gene for Glufosinate Resistance.In 2002 Pro-Agro’s (Bayer) application for approval for commercial planting of GM Mustard based on the same system was rejected.

Although banned in India, Bayer finds ways to sell Glufosinate, to the tea gardens of Assam and the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh, illegally. Sales agents show the Glufosinate sales under the ‘other’ category to avoid regulation. These chemicals are finding their way into the bodies of our children without government approval. Essentially all key patents related to the bar gene are held by Bayer Crop Science which acquired Aventis Cropscience, which itself was created out of the Genetic Engineering divisions of Schering, Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst. Then Bayer acquired Plant Genetics Systems, and entered into cooperation agreement with Evogene – which has patents on genome mapping.

Before any approval is granted to the Genetically Engineered Mustard, the issue of limits to patentability needs to be resolved on the basis of Indian law, patents on plants and seeds and methods of agriculture must not be allowed, because they are not allowed.

Pental, a retired professor and GM-Operative, will not commercialise GM Mustard seed. His Commanding Officers at Bayer/Monsanto/MOBAY will.

Given our experience with GMO cotton, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is considering the option of putting in place guidelines for socio-economic assessment to judge proposed GM varieties on the basis of factors such as economy, health, environment, society and culture.

http://m.thehindubusinessline.com

At the core of socio economic assessment is the issue of monopolies and cartels and impact on small farmers. Even though patents on seeds are not allowed, for more that one and a half decade Monsanto has extracted illegal royalties from Indian farmers, trapping them in debt, and triggering an epidemic of farmers suicides. Monsanto’s war on India’s foot soldiers – farmers – is a war being waged by the Farben Family, on our Earth Family.

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To me, the most simple, unanswered question of 9/11 is, did the 19 hijackers act alone or were they assisted by someone in the United States?…My motivation is to try to answer that question….Did they act alone or did they have a support structure that made 9/11 possible?

-Senator Bob Graham, April, 2015 (As quoted in the New York Times.) [1]

While the Washington Post acknowledges the links between ISI Chief Mahmoud Ahmad and Osama Bin Laden, it failed to dwell on the more important question: What were Rep. Porter Goss and Senator Bob Graham and other members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees doing, together with the alleged money-man behind 9/11, at breakfast on Capitol Hill on the morning of September 11?

-Professor Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War On Terrorism (p.141)

 

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The Global Research News Hour continues its 15th anniversary retrospective on the 9/11 attacks by exploring two attempts at re-directing the conversation around some inconvenient facts.

In the first half hour, we explore the drama around the anthrax letter attacks which were conducted around the same time the Bush Administration was ramping up its fear campaign around the so-called “War on Terrorism” and refining its propaganda efforts around the PATRIOT ACT and the October military intervention in Afghanistan. Five people died in these attacks which suspiciously were directed exclusively at Democrats and media representatives.

Professor Graeme MacQueen of McMaster University is the founder of the McMaster’s Centre of Peace Studies in Canada and its War and Health programme, He was a member of the organizing committee of the Toronto Hearings held on the10th anniversary of 9/11 and is co-editor of The Journal of 9/11 Studies. He is also author of the 2014 book The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy. In the first half hour of the program, MacQueen expands on the significance of a now mostly forgotten episode in the war on terrorism, the connection with the likely architects of 9/11, and the need to shift the propaganda campaign away from Al Qaeda and Iraq toward a ‘lone wolf’ based within the United States Military industrial complex. The full interview with Professor MacQueen is visible below. 

(This video produced with the assistance of Videographer and technical consultant Paul Graham)

Following the Anthrax interview, we hear about the notorious 28 previously classified pages from the report of the congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11. This documentation was officially declassified on July 15, 2016, just before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The 28 pages ostensibly spell out connections between the 9/11 hijckers and officials, royal family members and intelligence operatives within Saudi Arabia.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder of the Centre for Research on Globalization, editor of Global Research and award-winning author addresses the disclosure of these 28 pages. In particular, Chossudovsky touches specifically on Bob Graham, the former Democratic Senator from Florida and former co-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. As Professor Chossudovsky points out, Graham’s allegations of Saudi connections to 9/11 is a ‘red herring’ and explains his reasoning in this interview.

Finally, Toronto-based veteran broadcaster, and media critic Barrie Zwicker commemorates the 15th anniversary of 9/11 with his own personal reflections on the way he has seen media effectively conceal the truth around 9/11. Barrie Zwicker was one of the first people in the world to publicly question the U.S. government’s role in 9/11, is the author of Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11, and the host-producer of The Great Conspiracy: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw. (Complete Video embedded below).



 

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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 . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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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 every Saturday at 6am.

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Notes:

  1. Carla Hulse (April 13, 2015); “Florida Ex-Senator Pursues Claims of Saudi Ties to Sept. 11 Attacks”; New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/world/middleeast/florida-ex-senator-pursues-claims-of-saudi-ties-to-sept-11-attacks.html?_r=0 

 

Despite the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, the U.S. blockade remains present. 

Cuba presented a report on Friday that claims the U.S. blockade on the island nation has cost it US$4.7 billion over the last year and US$753.7 billion over the last six decades.

To change Cuba is up to Cubans,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez as he read the report on U.N. General Assembly Resolution 70-5 entitled “Necessity to End the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States.

Rodriguez highlighted the fact that despite the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, the U.S. blockade remains present in all areas supported with “absurd legislation” like the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Cuba

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla speaks during a news conference in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 9, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

“If the ban on trade continues, it will be very hard to make things visible, the investment of U.S. companies remains prohibited, imports and exports are prohibited … a Cuban bank is prohibited from opening an account in a U.S. bank and that makes economic relations difficult,” Rodriguez said.

Regarding the relations between the island and Washington the diplomat said that it is always good to look ahead, “but you can not forget history and Cuba’s independence will never be negotiated,” he said.

Last year the U.N. General Assembly voted 191-2 to condemn the U.S. blockade of Cuba, with only the U.S. and Israel opposed. However, there has been no change and Washington maintains its economic blockade on the island.

Washington imposed the blockade in 1960, after the victory of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro, which overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista, a U.S.-backed dictator.

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Libyans who mounted a revolution against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi now miss the stability provided by the old order because of the savage violence into which the country has descended, it is reported.

The testimony has emerged in a number of on-the-ground interviews carried out by the Daily Mail and comes only days after a Commons Defence Committee report placed blame for the country’s collapse and the emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) firmly on the shoulders of David Cameron.

The former PM, who stepped down as an MP hours before the report was published, faces calls from fellow Tories to appear before the committee to account for the “ill-conceived” 2011 war, which even US President Barack Obama is alleged to have privately written off as Cameron’s personal “sh*t-show.

Five years on from the conflict, Libyans are lamenting the violence, blackouts, shortages, refugee crisis and general descent into chaos of the formerly stable North African state.

“I joined the revolution in the first days and fought against Gaddafi,” a former anti-regime fighter named Mohammed told the Mail.

Before 2011 I hated Gaddafi more than anyone. But now, life is much, much harder, and I have become his biggest fan,” the 31-year-old said.

An oil worker named Haroun said getting rid of Gaddafi “was clearly a mistake because we weren’t ready for democracy and we needed support from the international community, which just wasn’t there.

Political activist Fadiel told the paper that although “it should be better than Gaddafi’s time now,” all that remained is “chaos and everyone fighting each other, it’s just a mess.

Entrepreneur Nuri, from Tripoli, said: “It’s not so much about being pro-Gaddafi because he was a crazy leader who was actually quite embarrassing internationally. It’s just that people’s lives are so difficult now compared to under Gaddafi.

Benghazi, Libya © Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Medical student Salem, 26, also from Tripoli, said hopes had been quickly crushed in the wake of the US-led war in which the UK played a major part.

Far more people have been killed since 2011 than during the revolution or under 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule combined. We never had these problems under Gaddafi.

“There was always money and electricity and, although people did not have large salaries, everything was cheap, so life was simple,” he added.

Cameron did not give evidence in the committee report and has so far not responded to calls to give testimony on what the investigation has branded an “ill-conceived” operation.

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Though the following article by Italian anti-militarist Manlio Dinucci takes up the question of deployment of new U.S. nuclear weapons from the point of view of the deployment’s impact on Italy, it remains a condemnation of U.S. imperialist aggression and its dangers for the world. 

The B61-12, the new U.S. nuclear bomb intended to replace the B-61 deployed in Italy and other European countries, was “officially authorized” by the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA is the agency of the U.S. Department of Energy that is “responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.” (nnsa.energy.gov)

After four years of design and testing, the NNSA gave a green light to the engineering phase that prepares mass production of the weapons.

The many components of the B61-12 are designed and tested in national laboratories at Los Alamos and Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., and produced (using parts of the B-61) in a series of plants in Missouri, Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee. Added to these is the tail section for precision guidance, provided by Boeing.

The B61-12, the cost of which is expected to run about $8 billion to $12 billion for 400 to 500 bombs, will begin to be mass-produced in fiscal 2020, starting on Oct. 1, 2019. Starting in 2020, it will begin to replace the B-61.

According to Federation of American Scientists estimates, the U.S. today maintains 70 B-61 nuclear bombs in Italy, 50 at Aviano Air Force Base [in the Friuli region north of Venice] and 20 at Ghedi-Torre AFB, [near Brescia, west of Venice]; 50 in Turkey; 20 each in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands — for a total of 180.

But no one knows exactly how many there are. At Aviano there are 18 bunkers capable of holding over 70. On this base and in Ghedi, changes have already been made, as shown in satellite pictures FAS published. Similar preparations are under way in other bases in Europe and Turkey.

The NNSA confirmed officially that the B61-12, called a “fundamental element of the U.S nuclear triad” (land, sea and air), will replace the current B61-3, B61-4, B61-7 and B61-10. This confirms what we have already documented.

The B61-12 is not simply a modernized version of the previous weapons, but actually a new weapon: It has a nuclear warhead allowing selection of four power options, with an average blast power equal to that of four Hiroshima bombs.  It has a guidance system that allows it to be launched a long distance from the target, and it has the ability to penetrate into the earth to destroy the bunkers of control centers in a surprise nuclear attack.

The new bombs, which the U.S. is preparing to install in Italy and other European countries as part of its threat escalation against Russia, are weapons that lower the nuclear threshold or make the launching of a nuclear attack more likely.

The 31st Fighter Wing, the squadron of U.S. F-16 fighter-bombers stationed in Aviano, is ready for a nuclear attack around the clock.

Even Italian pilots, as FAS showed, are being trained to carry out nuclear attacks under U.S. command with Tornado fighter-bombers deployed in Ghedi, while they await the arrival of F-35 fighter planes. The U.S. Air Force plans to equip all F-35s in Europe with nuclear capability. The first squadron of F-35s, stationed at Hill AFB in Utah, was officially declared “combat ready.” (defensenews.com, Aug. 2)

The U.S. Air Force says it does not predict when the squadron of F-35s will be combat-proven, but that it is probably during one of its overseas deployments at the beginning of 2017.

Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti is hoping that Italy, which has already been “chosen” by the U.S. to install the Muos [a satellite military communications system] that “other nations wanted,” will again be chosen.

With the B61-12, the F-35 and Muos on its territory, Italy will also be chosen, by the country under attack, as a priority target of nuclear retaliation.

The article was published in the Italian web newspaper Manifesto on Sept. 13 and was translated by Workers World managing editor John Catalinotto.

Article in italian :

Obama nucléaire

La Bomba è autorizzata

 

Translation :  John Catalinotto

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The Russian government is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Russian government keeps making agreements with Washington, and Washington keeps breaking them.

This latest exercise in what Einstein defined as insanity is the latest Syrian cease fire agreement. Washington broke the agreement by sending the US Air Force to bomb Syrian troop positions, killing 62 Syrian soldiers and wounding 100, thus clearing the way for ISIS to renew the attack.

Russia caught Washington off guard in September 2015 when the Russian Air Force was sent to bomb ISIS positions in Syria, thus enabling the Syrian Army to regain the initiative. Russia had the war against ISIS won, but pulled out unexpectedly before the job was done. This allowed the US or its agents to resupply ISIS, which renewed the attack.

So Russia had to return to Syria. In the interval Washington had inserted itself. Now the Russian air attacks on ISIS are more complicated, as is the sky over Syria. Russia notifies Washington of its planned attacks on ISIS, and Washington warns ISIS and perhaps Turkey which shot down a Russian plane. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army gained ground.

But each time victory was stymied by “peace talks” or a “cease fire,” during which the US supported forces would regroup. Consequently, a war that Russia and Syria could have already won continues, and with a new element. Now Washington has directly attacked the Syrian army.

The US military claims it thought it was striking ISIS. Think about that a minute. The US claims to be a military superpower. It spies on the entire world, even on the personal emails and cell phone calls of its European vassals. Yet, somehow all this spy power failed to differentiate a known Syrian Army position from ISIS. If we believe that, we must conclude that the US is militarily incompetent.

This is what has happened: Priot to the current “cease fire,” the Russians could attack the US-supported jihadists, but the US could not attack Syrian forces directly, only through its jihadist proxies. The US has used the “cease fire” to create a precedent for US direct attacks on the Syrian Army.

The Russians, who almost had the war won, have shifted their focus to “peace talks” and “cease fires” that the US has used to introduce Washington’s direct participation into the conflict.

It is a mystery that the Russian government believes Washington and Moscow have any common interest in the outcome in Syria. Washington’s interest is to remove Assad and put Syria into the chaos that rules in Libya and Iraq. Russia’s interest is to stabalize Syria as a bulwark against the spread of jihadism. It is extraordinary that the Russian government is so misinformed that it thinks Moscow and Washington have a common interest in fighting terrorism, when terrorism is Washington’s weapon for destabilizing the Middle East.

How can the Russian memory be so short. Washington promised Gorbachev that if he permitted the reunification of Germany, NATO would not move one inch to the East. But the Clinton regime placed NATO on Russia’s border.

The George W. Bush regime violated the ABM Treaty by pulling out of it, and the Obama regime is putting missile bases on Russia’s border.

The neoconservatives deep-sixed no first use of nuclear weapons and elevated them to pre-emptive first strike in US war doctrine.

The Obama regime overthrew the Ukrainian government and installed a US puppet government in a former constituent part of Russia. The puppet government launched a war against the Russian populations in Ukraine, causing secession movements that Washington has mischaracterized as “Russian invasion and annexation.”

Yet, the Russian government thinks Washington is a “partner” with whom it has common interests.

Go figure.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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The French and the Chinese may be celebrating the UK’s decision to press ahead with the Hinkley C ‘nuclear white elephant’, writes Oliver Tickell. But the deal is a disaster for the UK, committing us to overpriced power for decades to come, and to a dirty, dangerous, insecure dead end technology. Just one silver lining: major economic, legal and technical hurdles mean it still may never be built.

Hinkley is a project from a dying era, which would saddle Britons with eye-watering costs for decades, and radioactive waste for millenia. Renewables, smart grids and energy storage are the fleet-footed mammals racing past this stumbling nuclear dinosaur.

The UK’s energy department, BEIS, today announced the go-ahead for the controversial Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power plant in Somerset.

Hinkley C - it now looks as if the UK may not be saddled with this monstrous white elephant after all. Image: EDF.

Hinkley C – it now looks as if the UK may be saddled with this monstrous white elephant after all. Image: EDF.

Only weeks ago Theresa May’s government delayed the signing of the deal with EDF to confirm its subsidy package which is likely to cost UK energy users anywhere from £30 billion to over £100 billion for 35 years after it opens.

The surprise move was widely welcomed due to a broad range of concerns about the HPC project, including:

  • its very high cost, more than double the current wholesale power price and far more than the current cost of even high-cost renewable power from offshore wind;
  • security concerns over China’s involvement in core UK infrastructure;
  • the lack of any single example of a working EPR reactor anywhere in the world;
  • the severe delays, cost overuns and technical problems at all EPR construction sites;
  • the low value of HPC’s contribution to UK energy supply in the new decentralised ‘smart grid’ era;
  • and, common to all nuclear power, the continued absence of any solution to the nuclear waste problem.

Pre-announcement spin indicated that the HPC deal would be subject to a number of“significant conditions” that would address these problems. But in the event energy secretary Greg Clarke is giving the go-ahead for HPC to almost precisely the same deal that was on the table before.

Ther only difference to be found in the energy department announcement is that arrangements have been put in place to allow the Government to “prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers.”

In particular the price remains unchanged.

Great for France, China – but what about us? The Brexit effect

Mrs May is known to have come under strong pressure from both French and Chinese governments to give HPC the go-ahead. Both governments have strong interests in seeing the project going ahead.

In the French case, the EPR reactor has cost EDF and Areva – both companies controlled and mostly owned by the French state – uncountable billions of euros. Four EPRs are under construction, in France, Finland and China. All are running very late and billions of euros over budget, while the French reactor at Flamanville may never open due to a faulty reactor vessel.

That means that HPC represents France’s last chance to present the EPR as a viable reactor for the lucrative nuclear export market, re-establish credibility, and regain value for its so far utterly failed investment in the EPR.

The deal also offers EDF a very high return on investment of over 10% based on the expected construction cost of €24 billion, making it (and UK energy consumers) a valuable ‘cash cow’ for the highly indebted company for many decades to come.

China is also intent on capturing its share of the global export market for nuclear power and HPC is its ‘way in’ to it. As part of the deal, Chinese nuclear company CGN is to get preferential treatment to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex to its new, untested ‘Hualong’ reactor design that it intends to promote to international buyers.

So, plenty of good reasons for China and France to want to progress the deal. But what’s in it for the UK? Answer: Brexit. By sucking up to France, the government hopes to win over France as an ally in negotiating a better deal for the UK in Brexit negotiations.

And as far as China is concerned, the UK is desperate to reach a trade deal with what is now by some measures the world’s largest economy and a major exporter to the UK. In particular the UK is seeking tariff-free access to the fast-gowing Chinese economy for UK manufactures, and the powerful financial services industry.

We can be sure that both countries leaders and ministers put the frighteners onto Theresa May and her entourage at the recent G20 summit to go ahead with HPC – and that she succumbed to that pressure at enormous cost to the UK, failing to win even the smallest concession on price.

Widespread condemnation

The UK’s craven acceptance of the disastrous HPC deal was been widely condemned. Simon Bullock, senior climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: “Hinkley is a project from a dying era, which would saddle Britons with eye-watering costs for decades, and radioactive waste for millenia.

Renewables, smart grids and energy storage are the fleet-footed mammals racing past this stumbling, inflexible nuclear dinosaur. The PM should act in Britain’s interests and invest in a renewable, non-nuclear electricity grid – it will give us more jobs and less pollution, at lower cost. This is blatantly the wrong decision from the PM.

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “It is truly absurd that the Government plans to plough billions of taxpayers’ money into this vastly overpriced project, and has done so without informing Parliament of the true costs. It is even more absurd that they are doing so at the same time as reducing support for cheaper, safer and more reliable alternatives.

Instead of investing in this eye-wateringly expensive white-elephant, the government should be doing all it can to support offshore wind, energy efficiency and innovative new technologies, such as energy storage.

Even Labour’s energy spokesman Barry Gardiner – who has supported HPC against the wishes of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn under pressure from big unions – complained that the price was “far too high” and that the guaranteed price of £92.50 per MWh (in inflation-proof 2012 £) should be “tapered”.

But Lucas retorted: “Labour’s position on Hinkley is deeply disappointing. On the one hand they say that they want a decentralised energy system, yet they now back the building of this hugely overpriced, centralised piece of energy infrastructure. If Corbyn is serious about building an energy system for the future then he should reverse his party’s support for this antiquated energy source.”

It still might never happen

But despite today’s announcement there remains considerable uncertainty as to whether HPC will actually be built – among them legal challenges in the European Court to the unbelievably generous subsidy package for the project which appears to be incompatible with the EU’s ‘state aid’ regulations.

In addition both EDF and CGN, poised to take a 33.5% share in HPC, are unlikely to commit significant further capital to HPC until the Flamanville situation is resolved, and there is at least one working EPR to demonstrate that the design is constructable and operable – something that is still years away.

The highly risky (if potentially very profitable) project is also widely opposed within EDF as if it fails to ever generate power, or to operate reliably, it is likely to bankupt EDF. Also the company has yet to to line up the £16 billion (or more) it will need to finance its share of the project.

“This decision is unlikely to be the grand finale to this summer’s political soap opera”, said Greenpeace executive director John Sauven. “There are still huge outstanding financial, legal and technical obstacles that can’t be brushed under the carpet.

There might be months or even years of wrangling over these issues. That’s why the Government should start supporting renewable power that can come online quickly for a competitive price.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), added:“Despite this being called a ‘final decision’ to build Hinkley C, other hurdles, including technical and legal challenges, may well lie ahead for the project.

French trade unions don’t like it, nor do some of the likely candidates for the French Presidential Election next year, EDF’s finances are not the healthiest, and the French nuclear regulator is examining flaws in steel used for a similar reactor being built in France. So it may turn out not to be quite as ‘final’ as it looks now.

Although China is reportedly happy with the new position, questions also remain over its main ambition – building its own nuclear reactors at Bradwell in Essex as a route into the Western market. The Chinese reactor hasn’t even begun the process of gaining UK safety approval, which usually takes four years, so negotiating a contract for Bradwell would fall to the next UK Government, not this one.

And by then, electricity from other sources might look a whole lot cheaper than it does now.

Oliver Tickell is contributing editor at The Ecologist.

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As one might expect, during a war, misunderstandings are often driven by interested parties. In the case of Syrian refugees in Europe a US based organisation called ‘The Syria Campaign’ has helped drive some of these, including a claim that most of the refugees are ‘Fleeing Assad’. ‘The Syria Campaign’ is a Wall Street Public Relations creation and one of several interlocked, US-based groups (Avaaz, Purpose, the White Helmets) which have campaigned for a Libyan-style ‘no fly zone’ in Syria. That is, they work for NATO intervention on the side of the jihadist groups (see Sterling 2015). In any case, a careful look at the evidence allows us to see through this ‘refugees fleeing Assad’ scam.

The Syria Campaign (2015) commissioned a poll in Germany which was apparently carried out by German academic Heiko Giebler. In it, 889 Syrian refugees were said to have been interviewed in Berlin, Hanover, Bremen, Leipzig and Eisenhüttenstadt. Candidates ‘were approached on entering or leaving registration centers’. However the survey does not specify how sampling choices were made (TSC 2015). This is important because sampling error can easily undermine the representative nature of a poll. Indeed if there is no sampling error, as in this case, there is no way to assert to what extent the survey represents a broader population. The results are then almost useless, except as anecdotes.

The poll cover note, headline and graphics highlight a claim that ‘70% of refugees are fleeing Assad’. To begin with, this is a false characterisation of the actual survey (TSC 2015). It had no question at all about fleeing Assad, nor anyone else. It did have questions on whom the respondents blamed for the violence and of whom they were afraid. Of the 30 survey questions the three relevant ones seem to be number 9 (‘Who was responsible for the fighting?), number 14 (‘Who did you fear getting arrested or kidnapped by?’), and number 18 (‘What was the main reason for you to leave Syria?’). Observe that question 18 does not specify any particular threat while in questions 9 and 14 (as is made clear in the survey report) there were multiple options, so results in both cases tally to much more than 100.

The Syrian Campaign’s cover note, headline and graphics have drawn, very loosely, on some combination of those three questions. In response to question 18 69% said that ‘the main reason’ for leaving Syria was an ‘imminent threat’ to life, but without an identified source of that threat. In Question 9, 70% identified ‘Syrian Army and allied groups’ as ‘responsible for the fighting’. However as this was a multiple option question we also see that 82% have identified other armed groups (ISIS, al Nusra, FSA, YPG, other rebels). If we remove the Kurdish YPG, which has generally fought in coordination with the Syrian Army, the total is 74% anti-government armed groups. Question 14 shares the ‘multiple option’ structure of Question 9. Here 77% said they feared ‘getting arrested or kidnapped by’ the ‘Syrian Army and its allied groups’. However the combined total of anti-government groups is 82% and, if we add the YPG, 90%. The answers to both questions suggest these respondents feared the anti-government armed groups slightly more than they feared the Syrian Army. Most likely, many feared getting caught in the crossfire.

So, even before we examine the representative validity of the poll, there is no basis in any of those three questions – or anywhere else in the poll – for saying that ‘70% of refugees are fleeing Assad’. To the contrary, the poll shows that more are fleeing anti-government, jihadist armed groups. This contradicts The Syrian Campaign’s quite dishonest headline, underlined by its lead in: ‘the results are crystal clear’. A Deutsche Welle report faithfully noted: ‘Survey leaves no doubt: Syrians are fleeing Assad’ (Fuchs 2015). Apparently this reporter did not read the survey.

Further internal analysis, combined with UNHCR (2016) data for 2015 on the wider Syrian refugee population, shows The Syrian Campaign’s survey to have been quite unrepresentative, and therefore no basis for claims about the wider Syrian refugee population. As Table 2 shows, the respondents in Germany had massive over-representation from men and young men. Put together we see a 1.76 over-representation of males and a 2.25 over-representation of people between 15 and 55 (UNHCR: 18-59; TSC: 15-55). Women and children barely exist in the TSC poll. The poll also shows that 51% came alone to Europe, 61% have no children and that 68% (0.78 x 0.88) are young men between 15 and 35 years old.

 

Table: Syria refugee population profile, 2015
 

UNHCR, Syrian refugee registration (4.8 million)

TSC survey, Germany, October (889)

Male

50%

88% (1.76 over-rep)

15-35 years old

n.a.

78%

15-55 / 18-59 years old

44%

99% (2.25 over-rep)

 

Other data within the poll indicates that 74% were from areas held by anti-government armed groups, as they reported government shelling. There is no credible evidence that suggests the Syrian Army shells areas which do not contain armed anti-government groups. That is reinforced by Question 1 on area of origin, which shows hardly any respondents (just 19 people) from Tartus, Latakia and Sweida, areas which in 2015 had a combined population (swollen, from internal refugees) of at least 5 million. Respondents from Damascus (170 or 19%) are also seriously under-represented. Damascus in 2015 held over 7 million, or one-third of Syria’s population. There were many displaced people in all these areas, controlled by the Government.

On the other side, we can see an over-representation of respondents from Hasakah (164 or 19%). There are certainly a lot of refugees from the Hasakah district, in large part due to the presence of ISIS and Turkish-Kurd clashes; but its population of half a million, less than 10% that of Damascus, is represented equally in survey respondents to that of the capital. In other words, the TSC survey has a very large over-representation of men and young men, many from anti-government held areas. Quite a number of them are likely to be ex-fighters.

Putting this all together we can conclude that the poll commissioned by The Syrian Campaign (2015) did not show anything like ‘70% fleeing Assad’. To the contrary, results of the poll (TSC (2015) suggested that slightly more amongst that cohort were fearful of anti-government armed groups. On top of that, that poll was quite unrepresentative of the Syrian refugee population, as it contained a very large group of young men from anti-government (i.e. jihadist) held areas, some of them likely former fighters, and many of whom had indeed come under Syrian Army fire. Reasons for corruption of the data most likely include a combination of biased selection in Germany (selection was made by the associates of a partisan group) and a possible over-representation of young men and former fighters amongst the actual cohort of refugees arriving in those German cities. The absence of an explicit sampling process and a stated sampling error simply underlines the unprofessional nature of this survey.

Little of this seems to have registered on the western media. Like the Deutsche Welle reporter, most seem not to have even read the survey. One version or another of the fake headline ‘70% of refugees fleeing Assad’ provided by the Wall Street PR group was copied by much of the corporate media, including The Times (UK); The Huffington Post; the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.

Sources

  1. Fuchs, Richard (2015) ‘Survey leaves no doubt: Syrians are fleeing Assad’, Deutsche Welle, 11 October, online: http://www.dw.com/en/survey-leaves-no-doubt-syrians-are-fleeing-assad/a-18775789
  2. Sterling, Rick (2015) ‘Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators’, Dissident Voice, 9 April, online: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/04/seven-steps-of-highly-effective-manipulators/
  3. The Syria Campaign (2015) ‘Care about refugees? Listen to them’, 9 October, online: https://diary.thesyriacampaign.org/what-refugees-think/
  4. TSC (2015) ‘Listen To Refugees – First Survey of Syrian Refugees in Europe’, survey results spreadsheet, The Syrian Campaign, online: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WYn4N7STdP2eW3EYdX86Gsb6lxE4VrcNvZ4aEczsFwI/edit#gid=833561282
  5. UNHCR (2016) ‘Syria Regional Refugee Response’, last updated 4 September, online: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

 

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A group of U.S. intelligence veterans chastises the mainstream U.S. media for virtually ignoring a British newspaper’s account of the gripping inside story on how the CIA tried to block the U.S. Senate’s torture investigation.

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: U.S. Media Mum On How Your Committee Faced Down Both CIA and Obama

We write to thank you for your unwavering support for your extraordinarily courageous and tenacious staff in (1) investigating CIA torture under the Bush/Cheney administration and (2) resisting CIA/White House attempts under the Obama administration to cover up heinous torture crimes like waterboarding.

The CIA seal in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The CIA seal in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

We confess to having been shocked at the torture detailed in the version of the executive summary your Committee released on December 9, 2014.  We found ourselves wondering what additional behavior could have been deemed so repugnant that the White House and CIA insisted it be redacted; and if the entire 6,700-page investigation – with whatever redaction might be truly necessary – would ever see the light of day. We think you could take steps now to make it less likely that the full report be deep-sixed, and we will make some suggestions below toward that end.

With well over 400 years of intelligence experience under our collective belt, we wondered how you managed to get the investigation finished and the executive summary up and out (though redacted). We now know the backstory – thanks to the unstinting courage of the committee’s principal investigator Daniel Jones, who has been interviewed by Spencer Ackerman, an investigative reporter for The (UK) Guardian newspaper. The titanic struggle depicted by Ackerman reads like a crime novel; sadly, the four-part series is nonfiction:

I. “Senate investigator breaks silence about CIA’s ‘failed coverup’ of torture report

II. “Inside the fight to reveal the CIA’s torture secrets

III. ” ‘A constitutional crisis’: the CIA turns on the Senate

IV. “No looking back:  the CIA torture report’s aftermath

Ackerman’s reporting on Jones’s tenacity in facing down the gorilla CIA makes abundantly clear how richly deserved was the encomium you gave Jones when he left the committee staff in December 2015.

You noted, “Without his indefatigable work on the Intelligence Committee staff, the Senate report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program would not have been completed, nor would its 525-page executive summary have been released to the public.”

It seems equal praise might well be due to any Snowden-like patriot/whistleblower who “inadvertently” included the “Panetta Review” in the reams of material given your committee by the CIA.

Remarkably, a full week after The Guardian carried Ackerman’s revelations, none has been picked up by U.S. “mainstream” newspapers. Not the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post – not even The Hill.

(As for alternative media, Charles P. Pierce’s timely piece for Esquire whetted his readers’ appetite for the gripping detail of the Guardianseries, explaining that it would be “unfair both to Ackerman’s diligence and Jones’s courage” to try to summarize even just the first installment. “Read the whole damn thing,” Pierce advises.)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

And so, the culprits who should be hanging their heads in shame are out and about, with some still collecting book royalties and some blithely working for this or that candidate for president. As if nothing happened. Sadly, given the soporific state of our mainstream media – particularly on sensitive issues like these – their silence is nothing new, although it does seem to have gotten even worse in recent years.

The late William Colby, CIA director from 1973 to 1976, has been quoted as saying: “The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” Whether or not Colby was quoted correctly, the experience of the past several decades suggests it is largely true. Better sourced is a quote from William Casey, CIA director from 1981 to 1987: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

In these circumstances, we know from sad experience that there is no way any of us can get on any of the Sunday talk shows, for example – despite our enviable record for getting it right. Nor does it seem likely that any of the “mainstream” media will invite you to discuss the highly instructive revelations in The Guardian. We respectfully suggest that you take the initiative to obtain media exposure for this very important story.

One additional request: As you and your investigators know better than anyone, it is essential to safeguard the integrity not only of the unredacted executive summary but also of the entire 6,700-page committee report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

And, again, you are aware that as soon as Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, took the gavel from you, he took steps seemingly aimed at ensuring that the full report never sees the light of day. Could you ask him why, as soon as he became chair, he asked the executive branch to transfer their copies to the Senate Intelligence Committee?

Many interpreted that as an ill-disguised attempt to thwart holding accountable those responsible for the abuses. Moreover, if the report cannot be reviewed by those who might be asked to participate in activities like torture in the future, how is it even possible for anyone to learn from the prior unfortunate experience?

The public is entitled to the entire story about the CIA torture program and its lies to Congress, the White House, and to us. Any attempt to bury the fullest investigation of the torture program – an investigation that provides an example of Congressional oversight at its best – would undermine the democratic accountability that is supposed to be provided by the separation of powers.

Furthermore, as you were quoted in the Guardian series, the agency searches “may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function . . .”

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, was exactly on point: “You either have oversight and separation of powers with the checks and balances that come with that, or you don’t. It’s amazing that, once again, no one at the CIA was held accountable.”  Consequently, the issue now is not only the cover-up of torture by the CIA but – at least equally important – the “unbridled agency that spied on Americans (including Senate Intelligence Committee staffers) as eagerly as they spied on foreign adversaries,” as the Guardian described it in referring to the Church Committee investigation in the 1970s.

Does American democracy deserve any less than an intense investigation of the CIA’s obstruction of the democratic process in the 2000s?

The Guardian revelations make it still more difficult for the kind of excuses made by those who can hardly pretend to be disinterested observers – former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, for example – who wrote Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program, published on September 9, 2015. We published our own (VIPS) critique of “Rebuttal” five days later. And before the final vote on John Brennan’s nomination to become CIA director, we tried to warn you not to trust him.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

We believe you will agree that more needs to be done to replant the moral moorings of honesty that must anchor the intelligence profession to which we have given so many years. And we think that one step in that direction would be for you to seize this new opportunity to give prominence to the edifying story of how your committee and its staffers stepped up so effectively to their responsibilities in investigating and exposing the very sad and delicate chapter of CIA torture.

The play-by-play provided by the Guardian series, with its appropriate focus on the top investigator Daniel Jones, has created an opportunity we hope will not be squandered; a chance to tell a truly uplifting story sure to encourage others to behave in similarly exemplary manner.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Jean Maria Arrigo, PhD, member of 2005 American Psychological Association task force evaluating the role of psychologists in U.S. intelligence and military interrogations of detainees (associate VIPS)

Eugene DeFriest Betit, Ph. D., DIA, US Army (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Valerie Plame Wilson, former CIA Operations Officer

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)

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The United States and Russia exchanged allegations of ceasefire violations against both of their respective proxies on September 15th.  According to Moscow, US-led forces has violated the ceasefire 32 times.

Russia shared unprecedented live footage from one of their reconnaissance drones flying over Aleppo to monitor the ceasefire conditions below.

The Syrian Arab Army began withdrawing from the Castello Road in order to create a ‘weapons-free-zone’ in the contested region.

The Kurdish YPG forces raised the flag of the United States over Tell Abyad at the Syrian-Turkish border. The reported purpose behind the flag-flying was to discourage Turkish airstrikes.

The Islamic State dealt a blow to the Kurdish PKK in Shaddadi, killing approximately 70 troops, including their commander, “Tabur Solar.”

The terrorists also launched several rockets, which landed outside of Jayroud, Damascus.

The Islamic State suffered its own losses at the receiving end of Russian airstrikes on al-Mayadeen, outside Deir ez Zor. The terrorist militants reported 15 killed and 40 injured.

Syrian warplanes delivered a series of airstrikes in northern Hama, repelling advance of local jihadi groups on the government-controlled areas. Airstrikes were reported near Taybat Al-Imam, Souran, Kawkab, Al-Lataminah, and Kafr Zita.

There are rumors that the Syrian government forces are preparing a large-scale offensive in the area in order to re-take from terrorist groups the territories that they had lost within last 3 weeks.

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: [email protected] or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront

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Statements from Sen. Orrin Hatch suggest lame-duck Senate vote is not off the table

As President Barack Obama gathered high-profile supporters of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) for a meeting at the White House on Friday, the corporate-friendly trade agreement was dealt a blow as Vietnam’s parliament deferred its long-expected ratification.

Reuters reported from Hanoi Friday that Vietnam will not include ratification of TPP on its agenda for its next parliament session, which begins October 20.

This adds “to uncertainty over the future of…Obama’s signature trade deal,” the news agency wrote. “As arguably the biggest beneficiary of the deal covering 40 percent of the global economy, Vietnam was expected to be among the first to ratify the TPP, the prospect of which helped spur record foreign investment last year in its booming manufacturing sector.”

According to Reuters, Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien cited Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the parliament chairwoman, as saying Vietnam’s ratification would depend on the ruling Communist Party, “the global situation,” and the outcome of the U.S. election.

Both major party nominees are opposed to the trade deal, along with many Democrats, some Republicans, and wide swaths of civil society.

But Friday’s meeting “is an effort by the White House to show that support for the agreement also crosses party lines,” The Hill wrote, and “the latest effort by Obama togenerate support for the pact, which would be the largest free trade deal in history and is a centerpiece of his administration’s so-called ‘pivot’ to Asia.”

Among those scheduled to be in attendance: failed Republican presidential candidate John Kasich, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and others. A press briefing is expected to follow the meeting.

CNN reports that Kasich “defended the prospect of Obama pushing the TPP toward passage in a ‘lame duck’ session of Congress”—a possibility that TPP opponents are actively workingto prevent.

“Frankly, if I have to come down here and spend some time lobbying my Republican colleagues, I’m more than glad to do that,” Kasich said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared last month that the Senate would not vote on the current agreement this year, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has said: “As long as we don’t have the votes, I see no point in bringing up an agreement.”

But watchdogs have warned that the TPP “is not dead, unfortunately.” Indeed, Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach argued earlier this month that GOP leaders are in fact “negotiating for changes to obtain even more corporate goodies—longer monopoly protections for pharmaceutical firms’ high medicine prices, elimination of an exception protecting some tobacco regulations from TPP attack, and more.”

She wrote:

The GOP leaders are not only trying to pressure the White House to meet their demands, but are trying to scare the other TPP countries off of their current positions that no changes are possible.

If the GOP leaders get what they want, they will be pushing hard to pass an even more damaging TPP in the lame duck session, despite their insincere political posturing over the unpopular agreement leading up to the elections.

Sure enough, news outlets reported this week that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) “is working with the Obama administration to resolve several lingering issues that could ultimately pave the way” for lame-duck passage of the TPP, as The Hill put it.

Inside U.S. Trade reported Friday that Hatch “said the Obama administration has promised to satisfy his demand of including 12 years of market exclusivity for biologics in the implementing bill for the [TPP], but noted that he is waiting to receive that pledge in writing.”

“They said they’d satisfy me,” Hatch told the publication on Friday.

However, Glyn Moody explained for TechDirt: “The final TPP text specifies eight years, and because of the Fast Track authority that [Hatch] worked so hard to put in place, there is no way for Hatch to get the text changed now that it has been finalized.”

That has not seemed to deter Hatch, who has floated a number of work-arounds including “binding side agreements” with TPP countries or development of a “methodology” he believes “honorable” countries will follow.

“That’s really pretty extraordinary,” Moody wrote.

“After nearly eight years of tough negotiations, concessions were made and a final text agreed by all the countries involved. And now Hatch says it’s not good enough, that the U.S. has some special right to ask for yet more, and that countries refusing to up their protection for biologics data to 12 years won’t be part of the TPP deal.”

In turn, environmentalists, public health advocates, and labor groups aren’t going to sit idly by.

“Why are we nervous? Well, we’re nervous because we’ve been here once or twice before,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “When you have the Business Roundtable and virtually every multinational corporation saying they want this, we understand that’s real power.”

Still, as Common Dreams reported Wednesday, people power was also on display this week, when a coalition of progressive organizations coordinated a national call-in day to voice their TPP opposition.

“While the president is cloistered with corporate chieftains planning how to use a lame duck session to try to pass a TPP only they love,” Wallach said, “Congress’ phones are ringing off the hook with anti-TPP calls.”

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In all countries socialists renounced the class struggle and proceeded instead to go to war for their fatherland and their people. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Great Class War 1914-1918, p. 69

War is anathema. I hate war and I am sure the majority of humanity does. So why does war still happen? Earlier wars continue to evoke a mythology that pervades the public discourse. Since much of humanity remains mired in war, it is crucial to cut through the crap of disinformation that beguiles people and involves them in wars that they don’t want. If indeed a knowledge of history prepares humans to avert the mistakes of the past, then for the sake of present and future humanity learning about critical past events is important. People must also learn how to discern what best approximates the truth. When seeking to identify the etiology of monstrous events such as wars, the requisite question is: who benefits?

GCW_DVIn his book The Great Class War 1914-1918 (Lorimer, 2016), historian Jacques R. Pauwels lifts the fog of war. The Great Class War 1914-1918 identifies those who want war, those who scurrilously manipulate information, consciousness, and the citizenry to wage war.

Pauwels examines the war among nations and among classes within a nation. WWI (what Pauwels refers to as the Great Class War, and one understands what he means, but because of the double entendre, I prefer to avoid calling a war “great”) has its roots much further back in history. Pauwels takes the reader back to the French Revolution, an uprising against the aristocrats and bourgeoise, and he brings readers to the time of the Paris Commune and up to WWI and beyond.

Pauwels presents the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand as a pretext for war. However, the war was launched by elitists1 who feared the hoi polloieating into profits by forming unions and demanding higher wages, and demanding greater democracy. There was also competition among nation states to grab colonies and gain economic advantage. The elitists believed that a war would crush revolutionary zeal, aspirations for democracy, and replace socialism with nationalism.

The Great Class War discusses factors antebellum and year-by-year through WWI, the immediate aftermath and postbellum, even discussing the casus belli for WWII and connecting events to the present day. The focus throughout the book is on the classism at the root of the war. Pauwels’ thoroughly compelling narrative leads the reader to the ineluctable conclusion that elitists have been manipulating and leading the masses, unwilling or not, to the killing fields.

Lincoln in Dali-vision

Lincoln in Dali-vision

Pauwels draws on myriad threads in weaving his marvelous portrait of the class war. He draws from art, film, song, poetry and other writings. He hits at the various angles to the war, likening this to Salvador Dali’s “Lincoln in Dali-vision.” He praises Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory as a vivid depiction of classist conditions within the French military. I was spurred to watch the film, which I would urge others to watch as well.2

Pauwels explores the many-sided tensions/rivalries/fights at play: socialism vs capitalism, internationalism vs nationalism, union leadership vs the rank-and-file (“… union leaders travelled around the country to encourage the rank-and-file not to strike but to volunteer for the army.” p. 196), conservative political parties vs social democrats vs communists, officers vs soldiers, civilians vs military, feelings of one country’s troops about another country’s troops, etc. The author looks at language, propaganda (“Civilians appeared to swallow whatever authorities and the ‘yellow press’ told them…” p. 357), imperialism, monarchism, colonialism (“In many ways, the first World war thus functioned as the last phase of the “scramble for Africa.’” p. 293), religion (“The gospel of patriotism and bellicosity was preached from the church pulpits…,” p. 186), Social Darwinism, revolutions, counterrevolution, the Russian Revolution, dirigism, why the USA entered the war (“If the United States stayed out of the war, it would not be present when the Chinese prizes were distributed among the victors…” p. 449), and much more than can be a book review can do justice to. So get the book.

The Great Class War 1914-1918 is a magnificent opus. After reading it, I have to read Pauwels’ Myth of the Good War which looks at the US role in WWII.

Notes

  1. Pauwels called them “elites,” but that is another word that I would prefer to avoid since it paints people of wealth and power as being of the highest class. But the actions of these “elites” in using the peasants as cannon fodder to further enrich themselves and crush socialism and revolutionary agitation indicates that these people are “elitists” — believing that they are better than others. There is nothing elite about people who are morally bankrupt. 
  2. The film can be viewed online
Kim is former co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: [email protected].
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If Hillary’s Not Able, There’s Always Tim Kaine

September 17th, 2016 by Eric Draitser

If internet speculation is to be believed, Hillary Clinton is suffering from everything from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to adverse reactions to chemotherapy and Zika-West Nile-SARS-swine flu. The problem is that, like bellybuttons, everyone’s got a theory; and, again like bellybuttons, most theories are useless. Whatever the case may be with Hillary’s health, the fact is that she remains the likely winner of the presidential election, which means that a potentially sick woman will become the Commander-in-Chief.

So that raises an obvious question: what next? Put another way, the American people deserve to know who the hell Tim Kaine is, and what he would do as president. Because, after the initial “Tim who?” round of questions, citizens will want to understand who this underwhelming ex-Governor and Democratic Party hack is, and what sort of policies he’d pursue.

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So boys and girls, break out the crystal balls and glimpse a future with President Kaine. It may seem like some Quaalude-induced waking nightmare to envision this scenario – Clinton and Trump presidencies are, of course, already the ultimate bad acid trips – but this bitter reality must at least be considered, if not prepared for.

President Kaine: Chronicle of Many Deaths Foretold

Despite the Madison Avenue fustian about Hillary’s running mate being a “capable” and “adequate” future vice president – anyone who has ever been called “adequate” knows the implication of that back-handed insult – Kaine is, in fact, a typical Democratic Party apparatchik: self-serving, corrupt, and a liberal imperialist with all the humanitarian trimmings. And the question before millions of Americans is whether or not the country, and indeed the world, can survive another imperial presidency fronted by leaders for whom mass killing is a matter of focus groups and electoral demographic research.

History has shown the danger of mush-headed vice presidents serving under ailing presidents. When Franklin Roosevelt died and the racist mass murderer Harry Truman inherited the presidency, the door was permanently shut to peaceful cooperation with the Soviet Union and the expansion of New Deal-era economic rights, to say nothing of the death sentence for millions of innocent Japanese annihilated by atomic bombs solely to send a message to Moscow. In other words, Roosevelt’s death put in power a man who had no business running a dirt farm, let alone the most powerful country in the world. Similarly, Americans must consider just what President Kaine would do.

On the question of foreign policy – a focal point for Kaine who has served on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees – Kaine aligns perfectly with the war hawk Clinton and her neoconservative imperialist brethren. In Syria, Kaine has advocated forcefully for No Fly Zones and “safe zones” (as if there’s a difference) which would signify a de facto declaration of war by the US in Syria. He has cheered for regime change against the Assad government, and pressed for a full declaration of war against the Islamic State. One shudders to think of the staggering level of pompous ignorance required to advocate for what would amount to the rekindling of Bush’s disastrous and criminal open-ended “War on Terror.”

In what amounts to a running theme with the Clinton-Kaine campaign, the Democratic ticket has essentially embraced every single foreign policy position of the neocon movement. As I noted previously, this Clinton-Kaine administration would be the imperial frankenstein, Obama’s head on Bush’s body. No HopeTM. No ChangeTM. But more and bigger wars.

Of course, Kaine doesn’t limit himself to warmongering on Syria alone. In Ukraine, Kaine has come out as a vocal supporter of the Kiev Government and the fascist death squads and paramilitaries under its control. He was rather hawkish on the issue in 2014 when the Senate approved a massive aid package to Ukraine. He was also rather blunt in his condemnation of Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine, despite a massive outpouring of support for Russia and anti-Kiev activism that took place in Eastern Ukraine after the coup in February 2014. He also made no mention of how he would react if he were president and half his navy were under threat from a hostile putsch government backed by a superpower.

But the critical, and very worrying, fact is that a President Kaine would have to deal with a Kremlin that may forgive but certainly never forgets. And, considering the danger of the moment, with a potential world war looming on the horizon, the danger of escalating a crisis due to pig-headed political point scoring is very real. Never underestimate the power of a Clintonista to make a bad situation disastrous.

But perhaps nothing illustrates Kaine’s neocolonial mentality in all its blood-soaked glory better than his position, or lack thereof, on Honduras. Considering the fact that he spent an extended period of time as a Jesuit missionary in Honduras in the midst of US-sponsored death squad wars in Central America, and has never bothered to comment about it, is certainly suspicious. Moreover, he now is the wing-man for the womandirectly responsible for the bloodshed and political repression now a daily norm in Honduras after the Clinton-managed coup in 2009 removed the Chavista former president Manuel Zelaya. As President, Kaine would need to account for his actions in Honduras, and apologize on behalf of himself, his colleagues, and the rest of the Democratic Party for backing a right wing dictatorship committing war crimes every single day. I won’t be holding my breath for that.

Crooked Clinton, Krooked Kaine

Aside from the apocalyptic vision of a foreign policy that speaks like an asshole and carries a big stick of dynamite, Americans should also consider the fact that Kaine has a long track record of Washington corruption: yet another subject of comradeship with Saint Hillary that likely makes for fascinating dinner conversation.

Kaine and Clinton might laugh over dinner and drinks when discussing the fact that, as Governor, Kaineaccepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from high-powered lobbyists. You can almost see Hillary, shrimp cocktail dangling from her mouth, as she cackles at the paltry sum that Kaine could be bought for. “Timmy my boy,” she might say, “It’s time for you to step up to the big leagues…maybe you should consider giving some Wall Street pep talks…or starting a foundation.”

And the retort would undoubtedly please the Goldman-Sachs girl as Timmy Two-Face would remind Hillary that he’s a banker’s boy through and through. He might recall how, as noted by The Intercept, in 2016 he:

Signed onto two letters, one to federal banking regulators and the other to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, urging them to loosen regulations on certain financial players…In the letters, Kaine is offering to support community banks, credit unions, and even large regional banks. While separate from the Wall Street mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, these financial institutions often partner with the larger industry to fight regulations and can be hostile to government efforts to safeguard the public, especially if it crimps their profits. They also represent a key source of donor funds, one that has trended away from Democrats.

And just in case any liberal navel-gazers care to pretend that Kaine was simply defending the “little guy” banks, consider the fact that the second of the two letters was aimed at helping, “major firms including Capital One, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank, all of which control hundreds of billions of dollars in assets,” as noted by Huffington Post and Common Dreams. In other words, Kaine swore his oath of fealty to Wall Street and its junior partners in order to show his allegiance to Hillary and Bill, the svengalis of finance capital’s political vaudeville act.

Many Americans undoubtedly feel that Clinton’s health issues might just mean that the country could dodge a bullet for the next four or eight years. And while that sentiment is understandable given her track record of coming, seeing, and murdering, it is a false hope – a mirage distorting the vision of anti-war, anti-Wall Street crusaders.

Because, right behind Hillary is Tim Kaine, the man whose politics and ethics were made in Her image.

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The United States and South Korea resorted to tough talk and shows of force in the immediate aftermath of North Korea’s most recent nuclear test, but commentary in western and South Korean media suggests more people are beginning to recognize the futility of continuing down the same path of sanctions and escalating military tensions.

North Korea conducted its fifth underground nuclear test last Friday, merely four days after it test-launched three rounds of ballistic missiles. This is the first time that North Korea conducted a missile launch and a nuclear test in the same week, and the country says it successfully managed to put a warhead on a ballistic missile. According to North Korean state media, the country’s leader Kim Jong-un directly oversaw the September 5 missile launch conducted by “the DPRK’s strategic Hwaseong artillery unit, tasked with striking the bases of the U.S. imperialist forces in the Pacific theater in the event of a contingency.”

In response, President Obama has vowed more sanctions, and the United States flew two nuclear-capable supersonic B1-B bombers over South Korea in a show of force on Tuesday.  For her part, South Korean President Park Geun-hye accused the North of “maniacal recklessness,” and the South Korean military rolled out the “Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation” plan involving commandos and preemptive attacks with large numbers of missiles to target the North Korean leadership in a punitive and retaliatory strike at the slightest sign of a North Korean nuclear threat.

North Korea’s Nuke Test Sparks Calls for Diplomacy over Sanctions

North Korea scoffed at U.S. threats of more sanctions as “laughable” and defended its right to conduct nuclear tests in order to “protect our dignity” amid threats of “nuclear war” from Washington.  “The group of Obama’s running around and talking about meaningless sanctions until today is highly laughable, when their ‘strategic patience’ policy is completely worn out and they are close to packing up to move out,” said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman. “As we’ve made clear, measures to strengthen the national nuclear power in quality and quantity will continue to protect our dignity and right to live from augmented threats of nuclear war from the United States,” he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying also had strong words for the United States on its role in the nuclear crisis. “Mr. Carter was being unnecessarily modest,”she said, referring to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who had pointed to China as being primarily responsible for the nuclear crisis with North Korea.

“The cause and crux of the Korean nuclear issue rest with the US rather than China,” Hua continued, “The core of the issue is the conflict between the DPRK and the US. It is the US who should reflect upon how the situation has become what it is today, and search for an effective solution. It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The US should shoulder its due responsibilities.” To fundamentally resolve the crisis, she said, “An approach that addresses all parties’ security concerns and leads to enduring peace and stability of the Peninsula must be found through dialogue.”

Growing Calls for Diplomacy

Commentary in western and South Korean media in the aftermath of last week’s North Korean missile and nuclear tests suggests more people are realizing the futility of sanctions and prefer diplomacy as a way to resolve the crisis.

The latest nuclear test by North Korea proves that economic sanctions against the regime have failed utterly,” writes Simon Jenkins in The Guardian.  Pointing out that sanctions have had the exact opposite of their intended effect in North Korea, that they have driven the country to militarize its society and hasten the acquisition of high-profile weaponry, Jenkins proposes, “The sane alternative is to do everything to open North Korea, to flood it with trade, promote cultural exchange and hope one day that, like east Germany, it will reunite with its neighbor.  This will never happen under sanctions. Ending sanctions cannot cause more harm than what is happening now. It would probably do good. So end the sanctions.

Nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, who has visited North Korea frequently to assess its plutonium and uranium enrichment programs at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, agrees. In an article published on 38 North, he writes, “The latest nuclear test demonstrates conclusively that attempting to sanction the DPRK into submission and waiting for China to exert leverage over Pyongyang’s nuclear program do not work.”  Warning that adding missile defenses in South Korea will only make China less likely to cooperate, he concludes, “What’s missing is diplomacy as much as Washington may find it repugnant to deal with the Kim regime.”

As repugnant as Washington might find the North Korean regime, its leadership is quite sane, assures the New York Times.  Political scientists have repeatedly concluded that “North Korea’s behavior, far from crazy, is all too rational,”writes New York Times columnist Max Fisher.  “Its provocations introduce tremendous danger, but stave off what Pyongyang sees as the even greater threats of invasion or collapse,” he adds. Indeed, missing in the flurry of media commentary about North Korea’s latest nuclear test is any mention of Ulchi Freedom Gardian, the massive twelve-day U.S.-South Korean combined military exercises that just ended earlier this month. The war games involved 25,000 U.S. military personnel and 50,000 South Korean troops under U.S. command and reportedly included simulated exercises to “decapitate” the North Korean leadership.

The Hankyoreh, critical of what it calls failed hardline approaches to North Korea, urges a fundamental solution.  “Of the five nuclear tests to date, four happened while Seoul was carrying out hard-line North Korea policies,” it notes and says denouncing and pressuring Pyongyang will get us nowhere. Urging all parties to move past “Cold War-style logic,” the Hankyoreh writes, “Instead of pinning vague hopes on a North Korea collapse scenario – an approach that is both dangerous and unrealistic – we need a strategic approach that can lead to a comprehensive solution.”

Civil society groups in South Korea and the United States, as well as former U.S. officials, including former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney, have advocated for a formal end to the Korean War and a peace treaty to replace the 1953 armistice. Writing for NK News, Donald Kirk cautiously raises this as a possibility.  “What about if the U.S. were to sue for peace – that is to say: ‘at last we’d like to discuss your demand for a ‘peace treaty’ marking the formal conclusion of the Korean War?’” he asks.

Priority for the Next President

Whatever the comprehensive solution may be, many seem to agree that North Korea needs to be a top priority for the next U.S. administration.  “Beyond sanctions, any lasting solution will almost certainly require some kind of negotiations, though Republicans in Congress are certain to resist such a move,”writes the New York Times in an editorial.  Noting that the Kim government issued a statement in July that could be viewed as an overture for talks, the New York Times concludes, “Since far too little has been done to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in the past decade, this accelerating threat will require the urgent attention of Mr. Obama’s successor.”

Former U.S. diplomat and arms control expert Mark Fitzpatrick apparently agrees.  Speaking to Kirk for NK News, Fitzpatrick said the next U.S. president “will have to put North Korea at the top of the agenda. … He or she will have to use all the tools of American policy-making.”

If Clinton becomes our next commander in chief, picking up where her husband left off in 2000 wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Bill Clinton signed the historic joint communique, in which the United States and North Korea declared “no hostile intent” toward each other and agreed to improve bilateral relations based on the principle of “mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.” He sent then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang to discuss normalizing relations but ran out of time in his administration to finish the deed.

Hillary’s recent comments, which referred to North Korea’s nuclear test as a “reckless action” and its determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon a “direct threat to the United States” that she “cannot and will never accept” indicate that she’s still working off of an old script. Setting the next administration on the path of dialogue towards a comprehensive resolution will likely be an uphill battle. But commentary in western and South Korean media following last week’s North Korean nuclear test gives one cautious optimism that the political landscape may be gradually changing in a direction that will make dialogue, even a peace treaty, a more palatable option.

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Syria: CIA Vetted “Rebels” Chase U.S. Forces Out Of Town

September 17th, 2016 by Moon of Alabama

According to the WSJ the U.S. agreed to join a further invasion of Syria by Turkey and its proxy forces:

The U.S. has agreed to send about 40 special-operations troops to work alongside Turkish forces to fight Islamic State in northern Syria, U.S. officials said.

The joint mission will take the forces east toward the northern Syrian town of Dabiq, a symbolically significant Islamic State stronghold. U.S. special-operations forces will operate as combat advisers and generally under the same guidelines as other special -operations forces are working inside Syria, U.S. officials said.

Ankara first proposed the idea of U.S. special -operations forces accompanying Turkish troops late last month as it planned a joint mission into Syria’s northern city of Jarabulus.

One can reasonably assume that the planned presence of U.S. forces amid a Turkish invasion has the sole purpose of deterring Russian or Syrian moves against it. With U.S. forces around the Russian command will have to think twice before bombing any Turkish advance beyond the borders of  their agreement with the Russians.

The deployment of some 40 U.S. special forces to Al Ra’i did not go well. The Turkish “Free Syrian Army” proxies threatened to kill the U.S. forces. They called them “unbelievers” and “crusader pigs” and the U.S. forces had to retreat under Turkish cover (video). Some FSA spokesperson later claimed that the dispute was over U.S. support for the Kurdish dominated SDF, which at times had fought against the FSA. Unconfirmed reports now say that the special forces are back in Al Ra’i after certain FSA groups were ordered out of the area. There are alsoreports claiming the U.S., after the special forces were chased out of town, “accidentally” bombed some FSA group in Al Ra’i. Ooops.

However, the hostile FSA forces will be around and U.S. Special Forces are obviously seen as their enemy. If the U.S. forces proceed together with the other FSA groups they will certainly have to watch their back at any and all times.

The Turkish supported sectarian “moderate” FSA groups are the very same groups the CIA has “vetted” and provided with TOW missiles and other weapons. But nobody should be astonished that such groups, driven by religious zeal, eventually turn on their sponsors. They have done so in each historic parallel one can think of.

The current ceasefire in Syria is already breaking down. U.S. media claim that Russia and Syria are blocking UN aid to the al-Qaeda ruled areas in east-Aleppo but other media say that the “rebels” are the ones threatening the convoys. In east-Aleppo al-Qaeda demonstrators held a rally (vid) against UN aid.

Russia says that the U.S. is trying to fudge on the terms of the ceasefire agreements and pushes the U.S. to publish the full accord. That is blocked by the State Department:

On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the full text of the deal worked out with Russia on the truce in Syria will not be made public. “It does deal with sensitive issues that we believe, if made public, could potentially be misused,” he said.

Translation: “It is more difficult to cheat on the agreement if the terms are public.”

The U.S. supported opposition forces are using the ceasefire to prepare for new attacks on Hama and in the north of Aleppo city. I expect those to start at the beginning of next week. They will meet prepared defenses and ferocious attacks by Syrian and Russian air forces.

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Western Media Credibility In Free Fall Collapse

September 17th, 2016 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The latest from the Gallup Poll is that only 32% of Amerians trust the print and TV media to tell the truth. 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx 

Republicans, 18 to 49 year old Americans, and independents trust the media even less, with trust rates of 14%, 26%, and 30%.

The only group that can produce a majority that still trusts the media are Democrats with a 51% trust rate in print and TV reporting. The next highest trust rate is Americans over 50 years of age with a trust rate of 38 percent.

Distinguished author Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (right)

The conclusion is that old people who are Democrats are the only remaining group that barely trusts the media. This mistaken trust is due to their enculturation. For older Democrats belief in government takes the place of Republican belief in evangelical Christianity. Older Democrats are firm believers that it was government under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that saved America from the Great Depression. As the print and TV media in the 21st century are firmly aligned with the government, the trust in government spills over into trust of the media that is serving the government. As the generation of Democrats enculturated with this mythology die off, Democratic trust rates will plummet toward Republican levels.

It is not difficult to see why trust in the media has collapsed. The corrupt Clinton regime, which we might be on the verge of repeating, allowed a somewhat diverse and independent media to be 90% acquired by six mega-corporations. The result was the disappearance of independence in reporting and opinion.

The constraints that corporate ownership and drive for profits put on journalistic freedom and resources reduced reporting to regurgitations of government and corporate press releases, always the cheapest and uncontroversial way to report.

With journalistic families driven out of journalism by estate taxes, the few remaining newspapers become acquisitions like a trophy wife or a collector Ferrari. Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of amazon.com, handed over $250 million in cash for the Washington Post. Jeff might be a whiz in e-commerce, but when it comes to journalism he could just as well be named Jeff Bozo.

On September 12, Washington Post reporter Cindy Boren dropped the Washington Post below the level of the supermarket tabloid, National Enquirer. One must wonder where her editor was. Drunk perhaps? The Washington Post actually reported that a Nigerian MD, Bennet Omalu, “whose credentials and tenacity are well known,” has concluded that Hillary Clinton’s obvious medical problems could be due to her being poisoned by a Putin-Trump conspiracy.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/09/12/the-man-who-discovered-cte-thinks-hillary-clinton-may-have-been-poisoned/

One could possibly conclude that Cindy Boren and her Washington Post editor were having fun with Omalu, except that the article repeated the unfounded allegation that circumstantial evidence according to a UK inquiry associates Putin with the poisoning death of Litvinenko.

In other words, first Litvinenko, now Hillary.

If circumstantial evidence is to be the Washington Post’s guide, then clearly that evidence suggests that the neoconservatives, well-ensconced in high government positions and desperate for a New Pearl Harbor in order to launch their wars of hegemony in the Middle East, are responsible for 9/11.

Yet the Washington Post has a full-time reporter whose job is to disparage conspiracy theories while the Washington Post itself launches the conspiracy theory of the century: Putin And Trump Conspiracy Poisons US Democratic Candidate for President.

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/09/15/washington-post-grasps-crazy-conspiracy-theory-support-hillary-clinton.html

If intelligence, or perhaps simply sufficient time in Americans’ lives to investigate the news, were not in such short supply, possibly Americans would reflect on what the benefit is of being driven by Washington into conflict with Russia and China.

It most certainly will not be victory in war, as we all will be dead.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Revolution in Banking?

September 17th, 2016 by Ellen Brown

Several central banks, including the Bank of England, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve, are exploring the concept of issuing their own digital currencies, using the blockchain technology developed for Bitcoin. Skeptical commentators suspect that their primary goal is to eliminate cash, setting us up for negative interest rates (we pay the bank to hold our deposits rather than the reverse).

But Ben Broadbent, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, puts a more positive spin on it. He says Central Bank Digital Currencies could supplant the money now created by private banks through “fractional reserve” lending – and that means 97% of the circulating money supply. Rather than outlawing bank-created money, as money reformers have long urged, fractional reserve banking could be made obsolete simply by attrition, preempted by a better mousetrap.  The need for negative interest rates could also be eliminated, by giving the central bank more direct tools for stimulating the economy.

The Blockchain Revolution

How blockchain works was explained by Martin Hiesboeck in an April 2016 article titled “Blockchain Is the Most Disruptive Invention Since the Internet Itself“:

The blockchain is a simple yet ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. One party to a transaction initiates the process by creating a block. This block is verified by thousands, perhaps millions of computers distributed around the net. The verified block is added to a chain, which is stored across the net, creating not just a unique record, but a unique record with a unique history. Falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances. That is virtually impossible.

In a speech at the London School of Economics in March 2016, Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent pointed out that a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) would not eliminate physical cash. Only the legislature could do that, and blockchain technology would not be needed to pull it off, since most money is already digital. What is unique and potentially revolutionary about a national blockchain currency is that it would eliminate the need for banks in the payments system. According to a July 2016 article in The Wall Street Journal on the CBDC proposal:

[M]oney would exist electronically outside of bank accounts in digital wallets, much as physical bank notes do. This means households and businesses would be able to bypass banks altogether when making payments to one another.

Not only the payments system but the actual creation of money is orchestrated by private banks today. Nearly 97% of the money supply is created by banks when they make loans, as the Bank of England acknowledged in a bombshell report in 2014. The digital money we transfer by check, credit card or debit card represents simply the IOU or promise to pay of a bank. A CBDC could replace these private bank liabilities with central bank liabilities. CBDCs are the digital equivalent of cash.

Money recorded on a blockchain is stored in the “digital wallet” of the bearer, as safe from confiscation as cash in a physical wallet. It cannot be borrowed, manipulated, or speculated with by third parties any more than physical dollars can be. The money remains under the owner’s sole control until transferred to someone else, and that transfer is anonymous.

Rather than calling a CBDC a “digital currency,” says Broadbent, a better term for the underlying technology might be “decentralised virtual clearinghouse and asset register.” He adds:

But there’s no denying the technology is novel.  Prospectively, it offers an entirely new way of exchanging and holding assets, including money.

Banking in the Cloud

One novel possibility he suggests is that everyone could hold an account at the central bank. That would eliminate the fear of bank runs and “bail-ins,” as well as the need for deposit insurance, since the central bank cannot run out of money. Accounts could be held at the central bank not just by small depositors but by large institutional investors, eliminating the need for the private repo market to provide a safe place to park their funds. It was a run on the repo market, not the conventional banking system, that triggered the banking crisis after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Private banks could be free to carry on as they do now. They would just have substantially fewer deposits, since depositors with the option of banking at the ultra-safe central bank would probably move their money to that institution.

That is the problem Broadbent sees in giving everyone access to the central bank: there could be a massive run on the banks as depositors moved their money out. If so, where would the liquidity come from to back bank loans? He says lending activity could be seriously impaired.

Perhaps, but here is another idea. What if the central bank supplanted not just the depository but the lending functions of private banks? A universal distributed ledger designed as public infrastructure could turn the borrowers’ IOUs into “money” in the same way that banks do now – and do it more cheaply, efficiently and equitably than through banker middlemen.

Making Fractional Reserve Lending Obsolete

The Bank of England has confirmed that banks do not actually lend their depositors’ money. They do not recycle the money of “savers” but actually create deposits when they make loans. The bank turns the borrower’s IOU into “checkable money” that it then lends back to the borrower at interest. A public, distributed ledger could do this by “smart contract” in the “cloud.”

There would be no need to find “savers” from whom to borrow this money. The borrower would simply be “monetizing” his own promise to repay, just as he does now when he takes out a loan at a private bank. Since he would be drawing from the bottomless well of the central bank, there would be no fear of the bank running out of liquidity in a panic; and there would be no need to borrow overnight to balance the books, with the risk that these short-term loans might not be there the next day.

To reiterate: this is what banks do now. Banks are not intermediaries taking in deposits and lending them out. When a bank issues a loan for a mortgage, it simply writes the sum into the borrower’s account. The borrower writes a check to his seller, which is deposited in the seller’s bank, where it is called a “new” deposit and added to that bank’s “excess reserves.” The issuing bank then borrows this money back from the banking system overnight if necessary to balance its books, returning the funds the next morning. The whole rigmarole is repeated the next night, and the next and the next.

In a public blockchain system, this shell game could be dispensed with. The borrower would be his own banker, turning his own promise to repay into money. “Smart contracts” coded into the blockchain could make these transactions subject to terms and conditions similar to those for loans now. Creditworthiness could be established online, just as it is with online credit applications now. Penalties could be assessed for nonpayment just as they are now. If the borrower did not qualify for a loan from the public credit facility, he could still borrow on the private market, from private banks or venture capitalists or mutual funds. Favoritism and corruption could be eliminated, by eliminating the need for a banker middleman who serves as gatekeeper to the public credit machine. The fees extracted by an army of service providers could also be eliminated, because blockchain has no transaction costs.

In a blog for Bank of England staff titled “Central Bank Digital Currency: The End of Monetary Policy As We Know It?”, Marilyne Tolle suggests that the need to manipulate interest rates might also be eliminated. The central bank would not need this indirect tool for managing inflation because it would have direct control of the money supply.

A CBDC on a distributed ledger could be used for direct economic stimulus in another way: through facilitating payment of a universal national dividend. Rather than sending out millions of dividend checks, blockchain technology could add money to consumer bank accounts with a few keystrokes.

Hyperinflationary? No.

The objection might be raised that if everyone had access to the central bank’s credit facilities, credit bubbles would result; but that would actually be less likely than under the current system. The central bank would be creating money on its books in response to demand by borrowers, just as private banks do now. But loans for speculation would be harder to come by, since the leveraging of credit through the “rehypothecation” of collateral in the repo market would be largely eliminated. As explained by blockchain software technologist Caitlin Long:

Rehypothecation is conceptually similar to fractional reserve banking because a dollar of base money is responsible for several different dollars of debt issued against that same dollar of base money. In the repo market, collateral (such as U.S Treasury securities) functions as base money. . . .

Through rehypothecation, multiple parties report that they own the same asset at the same time when in reality only one of them does—because, after all, only one such asset exists. One of the most important benefits of blockchains for regulators is gaining a tool to see how much double-counting is happening (specifically, how long “collateral chains” really are).

Blockchain eliminates this shell game by eliminating the settlement time between trades. Blockchain trades occur in “real-time,” meaning collateral can be in only one place at a time.

A Sea Change in Banking

Martin Hiesboeck concludes:

[B]lockchain won’t just kill banks, brokers and credit card companies. It will change every transactional process you know. Simply put, blockchain eliminates the need for clearinghouse entities of any kind. And that means a revolution is coming, a fundamental sea change in the way we do business.

Changes of that magnitude usually take a couple of decades. But the UK did surprise the world with its revolutionary Brexit vote to leave the EU. Perhaps a new breed of economists at the Bank of England will surprise us with a revolutionary new model for banking and credit.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

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President Obama has gotten a pass for almost eight years from self-styled anti-war elements that back his proxy war against Syria. Phony anti-warriors blame the Syrian government for resisting jihadist head-hunters in the pay of Washington and its allies. They have become supporters of state terror, and cannot comprehend that “there would not be bombs of any kind, sieges, starving children, or refugees” if the Obama had not launched his war.

There is only one question now: when will America tell its minions to stop fighting?

American and NATO aggressions must be opposed wherever they surface in the world. That statement ought to be the starting point for anyone calling themselves left, progressive, or anti-war. Of course the aggressors always use a ruse to diminish resistance to their wars of terror. In Syria and elsewhere they claim to support freedom fighters, the moderate opposition and any other designation that helps hide imperialist intervention. They label their target as a tyrant, a butcher, or a modern day Hitler who commits unspeakable acts against his own populace. The need to silence opposition is obvious and creating the image of a monster is the most reliable means of securing that result.

The anti-war movement thus finds itself confused and rendered immobile by this predictable propaganda. It is all too easily manipulated into being at best ineffectual and at worst supporters of American state sponsored terror.

For five years the United States, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and Turkey have given arms and money to terrorist groups in an effort to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Some of those bad actors felt flush with success after overthrowing and killing Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. They had high hopes of picking off another secular Arab government. Fortunately, Assad was hard to defeat and the barbarians cannot storm the gates. Most importantly, Russia stopped giving lip service to Assad and finally provided military support to the Syrian government in 2015.

American presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, have all used jihadists at opportune moments when they want regime change.

The United States government is responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. The so-called barrel bomb doesn’t kill more people than conventional weapons provided by the United States and its puppets. There would not be bombs of any kind, sieges, starving children, or refugees if the Obama administration had not given the green light to the rogues gallery.

Whatever their political beliefs or feelings about Assad, Syrians did not ask the United States to turn their country into a ruin. They don’t want ISIS to behead children, as they infamously did on camera. American presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, have all used jihadists at opportune moments when they want regime change. The name of the country under attack changes but the story ends with massive human suffering.

Instead of siding unequivocally with America’s victims some in the anti-war movement instead live in greater fear of being labeled “pro Assad.” Assad didn’t invade Iraq and kill one million people. George W. Bush did that. Assad did not give support to jihadists to destroy Libya, kill 50,000 people, ignite a race war and create another refugee crisis. Barack Obama did that. The list of human rights abuses carried out by the American government is a long one indeed. There is torture in the United States prison system, the largest in the world. American police are given tacit permission to kill three people every day. Yet the fear of being thought of as an Assad supporter is so powerful that it silences people and organizations who should be in the forefront of confronting their country domestically and internationally.

Of course American propaganda is ratcheted up at the very moment that sides must be chosen. Any discussion or debate regarding Syria’s political system was rendered moot as soon as the United States targeted that country for destruction. There is only one question now: when will America tell its minions to stop fighting?

The fear of being thought of as an Assad supporter is so powerful that it silences people and organizations who should be in the forefront of confronting their country domestically and internationally.

Obama didn’t start a proxy war with an expectation of losing, and Hillary Clinton makes clear her allegiance to regime change. The United States will only leave if Syria and its allies gain enough ground to force a retreat. They will call defeat something else at a negotiating table but Assad must win in order for justice and reconciliation to begin.

Focusing on Assad’s government and treatment of his people may seem like a reasonable thing to do. Most people who call themselves anti-war are serious in their concern for humanity. But the most basic human right, the right to survive, was taken from 400,000 people because the American president decided to add one more notch on his gun. Whether intended or not, criticism of the victimized government makes the case for further aggression.

The al-Nusra Front may change its name in a public relations effort, but it is still al Qaeda and still an ally of the United States. The unpredictable Donald Trump may not be able to explain that he spoke the truth when he accused Obama and Clinton of being ISIS supporters, but the anti-war movement should be able to explain without any problem. Cessations of hostilities are a sham meant to protect American assets whenever Assad is winning. If concern for the wellbeing of Syrians is a paramount concern, then the American anti-war movement must be united in condemning their own government without reservation or hesitation.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

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Warring hotspots all over the world are flaring up in 2016 in what amounts to preparation for World War III between the military forces of the US led Western Empire against the forces of the Eastern axis led by Russia and China joined by Iran and North Korea. Let’s be clear – the globalists are the puppet masters behind the Western forces intentionally provoking catastrophic world war.

We live in a time when the earth’s ruling elite has willfully created this foreboding, seemingly suicidal endgame scenario, using US Empire to prod, orchestrate, and push the world into two enemy camps in a West vs. East showdown. Global war timed with the inevitable collapse of their Ponzi-schemed global economy will open the floodgate to unbridled tyranny brought on by their long plotted one world government. The systematic destruction of the West and its First World affluence is but part of this sinister scheme to destabilize every region on the planet in order to engineer such dire, devastating conditions that the surviving global masses will automatically seek refuge and protection from deep state’s one world governance as their only means of staying alive. Meticulously creating the conditions most ripe for war, ecological degradation leading to disease and famine ensures that the elite’s eugenics depopulation agenda will leave a slave class of a half to one billion people on earth to serve the diabolical ruling class.

Thus as the only means of escaping this horrific outcome, it’s extremely important to expose this nightmarish globalist agenda that’s using the US Empire-NATO war machine to aggressively provoke rising world tensions and hostilities as precipitating pre-WWIII events. Per last year’s UN Global Trends Report, at near 60 million, 2014 saw more people being displaced around the world than any previous time in recorded history. The elite’s carefully engineered global hotspots cover every corner of the globe, from the US-induced political and economic unrest creating havoc now in Brazil and Venezuela; a stepped up war in Ukraine flanked by the built-up deployment of hostile NATO troops at the Russian border; ongoing war with no end in SyriaIraqLibyaAfghanistanYemen, and prewar skirmishes, flare-ups and small scale wars in SomaliaPakistanNagorno-KarabakhSouth SudanBurundi and Central African Republic all the way eastward to the rising tensions in the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula as well as stretching northward to the Arctic Circle, the West’s push for confrontation, aggression and domination against the Eastern alliance is making global war eminent and virtually unavoidable.

Russia, China, Iran and even North Korea do not want war. And neither do all the people living in the West. But the Western crime cabal in charge never cares what the people want. As Kissinger says, we are all just “useless eaters,” taking up precious space and consuming their “nearly depleted” 19th century energy sources. The elite has made sure the masses stay stuck in the dark, unable to get their hands on or wrap their minds around free energy technologycancer curesantigravity technology or the global capacity to wipe out hunger and starvation to feed a world population up to 11 billion. All because a very powerful handful amongst the near 7.5 billion people on our planet want nearly all of us dead. And they are the driving force that controls the warmongering Western despots frothing at the mouth for global war and total planetary destruction.

The US Empire has maintained an unending agenda to stir up and keep hostile relations hot between US-backed South Korea and the Chinese-backed North Korea, otherwise known as George W’s “axis-of-evil” member. As part of the post-WWII contrived divide and conquer cold war of US-led “free world” versus those “nasty evil Commies” Russia and China, the globalists who ideologically have always leaned far closer towards Communist totalitarianism than free enterprise democracy have been carving up and splitting nations, pitting humans belonging to the same ethnic group against each other from Europe to Asia into two distinct warring camps.

Be it US backed and controlled West Germany versus Soviet backed and controlled East Germany, US backed and controlled Western Europe versus Soviet backed and controlled Eastern Europe, Soviet backed and partially controlled China versus US backed and controlled Taiwan, US/French backed and US controlled South Vietnam versus Soviet/Chinese backed and controlled North Vietnam to US backed and controlled South Korea versus Soviet/Chinese backed and controlled North Korea. For centuries the globalist agenda has ruthlessly and systematically torn apart nation after nation, literally down to tearing apart family after family just to keep wars and the threat of human self-annihilation alive and US global hegemony thriving at the rest of humanity’s expense.

This presentation will focus on just one of these countless hotspots that could at any time trigger World War III. Heightened tensions this week on the Korean Peninsula have brought Cold War 2 to the near boiling point between US puppet South Korea and China’s wayward puppet North Korea. The latest North Korean launch of last week’s nuclear missile test, the second this year, has the US and South Korea ready to up their anti-North Korean ante. Despite economic sanctions supposedly intended to dissuade a targeted nation to curb its militarized activities, sanctions have only had the opposite effect on North Korea.

The six nation diplomatic talks with North Korea to curtail its pursuit of a nuclear bomb broke down eight years ago and the “most sanctioned nation on earth” as George W Bush called North Korea has been sanctioned and re-sanctioned ad nauseam to no avail. Yet recent calls for more diplomacy rather than confrontation and escalation appear to be falling on deaf ears. When North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un rightly believes that US-led forces pose a grave nuclear threat to North Korea’s very survival, no sanctions will deter a nation from doing what it believes it must do to survive.

After last Friday’s nuclear test detonation estimated to be twice the strength of Hiroshima’s blast, the international community once again lambasted the North Korean dictator. Though portrayed by Western press as an unpredictable, highly volatile, paranoid madman, US aggressions historically have forced Kim and his Pyongyang government to expend their limited resources almost exclusively on expanding its military self-defense. The much maligned so called nation pariah is simply doing what it believes is necessary to survive in an increasingly hostile world led by US Empire. An objective examination of North Korea’s history will demonstrate the veracity that it’s not North Korea that’s been the true aggressor but the US Empire.

For over five centuries from 1392-1910 under the Josean Dynasty, Korea remained a united nation with one culture and one language. Then from 1910-1945, Korea became a colonial victim of Japanese imperialism. Once Japan was defeated in WWII, since the Philippines had already been an imperialistic possession of the US and Japan itself was the vanquished enemy, they were both placed directly under postwar control of the US Empire. With Korea a lesser priority, by convenient expediency, the Korean people were once again re-victimized, arbitrarily divided by the two occupying military forces at the close of WWII, the Soviets in the north and Americans in the south.

With US interests represented by two Army colonels working as junior State Department officials, one Dean Rusk, the future Secretary of State under John Kennedy, just five days prior to Japan’s surrender in August 1945, without input from any Koreans, their nation was severed roughly in half at the 38th parallel, ensuring that the capital Seoul would remain under US auspices. The provisional South Korean government sought friendly relations with all nations, independence, social and land reform and ultimate reunification. These democratic principles and policies that were beneficial to the South Korean citizens stood in stark contrast with the imperialistic design that US military control would accept and the provisional government in September 1945 was quickly disbanded. Eventually in its place was inserted an anti-Communist oppressive dictator that suited US interests. The Truman Doctrine essentially took over where Japanese imperial rule occupation left off in both East and South East Asia. Empire’s sphere of influence included Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), Formosa (Taiwan) and Indonesia.

By the original postwar mandate the two Koreas were supposed to be reunified by 1948, but because the globalist designed cold war was already in full swing, the puppet regime in the north controlled by Stalin didn’t trust the US installed South Korean anti-Communist puppet dictator who wantonly murdered democratic opposition movements especially from the left. Stalin’s boy to the north was just as bloodthirsty. Like trained cock fights, both world powers encouraged and promoted espionage and covert aggression against the other. So by imperialistic design, Korea was never liberated and for over a century now has remained a divided and conquered people living in an occupied and divided nation for over seven decades.

Former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles organized a series of covert incursions by South Korean provocateurs into North Korean territory in 1949 and 1950 prior to the start of the Korean War. This offensive tactic of probing and war baiting is a familiar strategy in US false flag history designed to intentionally trigger wars. This same sort of false flag was used as the precursor that President Johnson jumped on to falsely accuse North Vietnam of firing upon a US Navy vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 in order to jump start the Vietnam War that his predecessor JFK had vowed to avoid. But less than 9 months after co-conspirator LBJ murdered Kennedy, he ignited what would become America’s longest running war in history, that is until the same cloak and dagger neocons came to power this century to secure their own “endless war on terror.”

With the Rockefeller funded and founded Council on Foreign Relations as well as the United Nations actively co-opted by the US government, a prior arrangement had been secretly made that authorized UN troops (of course consisting almost exclusively of US military) to come to South Korea’s aid if it was determined that North Korea attacked South Korea. Thus, the US-led incursions north of the 38th parallel were designed to provoke North Korean forces to retaliate and the case of North Korea invading South Korea could be bogusly claimed. From June 1950 until July 1953, an estimated sum of 3 million Korean civilians (some estimate as high as 4-5 million) were killed, two thirds in North Korea although North Korea cites up to one third of the total population in the north were killed as forgotten victims of US crimes against humanity. No other war has inflicted so many casualties on any one nation in history.

The nonstop carpet bombing and firebombing of North Korea with napalm mercilessly pulverized its 78 cities and countless villages in both North and South Korea. And within less than six months of the war’s outset, the US Empire began threatening the north with atomic bombs, a constantly used ultimatum weapon America has been clubbing Pyongyang with for the last two-thirds of a century. In violation of the Armistice Agreement, in 1958 the US began installing nuclear warhead missiles in South Korea aimed directly at North Korea. In 1974 South Korea (otherwise known as Republic of Korea or ROK) began preparing its own nuclear development. And over the decades Empire has upgraded and augmented its nuclear weapons systems both in and outside South Korea to destroy North Korea (otherwise known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK). These nukes obviously pose a direct threat to both DPRK and China. Is it any wonder then that North Korea has invested so heavily in efforts to acquire a nuclear arsenal as its only deterrent to protect itself from the nuke-powered world bully possessing the dubious distinction of being the only nation on earth to callously use such heinous WMD’s on two large human populated cities?

Korea’s “undeclared war” tripled the Pentagon budget, expanded NATO power and its anti-communist false flag Gladio operations in Europe, fueled exponential growth of the military industrial complex that Eisenhower would later warn America against, and recruited the UN as an imperialistic partner-in-crime whose co-conspiring role carries on even more so to this day. Then with the Chinese Red Army entering the conflict alongside North Korea in 1951, US war involvement fell into its first military quagmire reaching a trench war stalemate forcing a negotiated 1953 Armistice Agreement to cease hostile operations and retain the original 38th parallel demilitarized zone as an intractable artificial wedge dividing Koreans. The agreement is not a peace treaty as only military leaders from the US, China and North Korea signed it leaving out South Korea entirely. Plus it technically leaves the two nations legally in a continual state of war. A grass roots peace movement in South Korea has emerged calling for the ROK and its northern neighbor DPRK to implement a finalized peace treaty that includes stipulations for concrete steps toward reunification.

During the more than six decades since the Korean Armistice, the US Empire has operated the only permanent garrison in Asia stationed along the world’s most armed border. Under a false UN mandate, the US has continually maintained a hefty troop size from the current 28,000 to 37,000 American soldiers as South Korea’s permanent fixture occupying force. General Vincent Brooks as the recently assigned top ranking US commander in the Republic of Korea outranks even the South Korean president and top South Korean general. The entire 625,000 active duty soldiers and nearly 3 million on active reserve status comprising the ROK defense forces are also directly under US military command. According to both public print and CIA sources, South Korea’s military strength and firepower is rated 11th in the world compared to North Korea’s 25th position. Yet for US imperialistic and hegemonic reasons alone, forever colonized South Korea remains subjugated to its high command master.

The biggest arms importer in the world at last count in 2014 is none other than South Korea buying $7 billion of its $7.3 billion worth from you guessed it America. That’s 96% of its war-making materials coming from the US military industrial complex… yet another boondoggle reason the Empire will never leave South Korea. And South Korea will never be an independent sovereign nation nor will it ever reunify with its neighbor. The war-making American Empire will make certain that never happens. Neither peacemaking nor reunification have ever been part of the Empire’s foreign policy agenda. Thus, nonstop US military presence in South Korea drives the most powerful wedge against the two Koreas ever reunifying. Clearly the US stands in the way as the biggest impediment to ever achieving a lasting, peaceful, unified Peninsula with a united Korean people.

Just as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is currently flashing his “Yankee go home” card demanding the American military leave his country, so too should South Korea. But that’s simply out of the question since Seoul as a US puppet depends on US might to buffer and counter Kim’s bombastic bite. Plus way too much money is at stake. Additionally, South Koreans have been sufficiently brainwashed into believing that America is necessary to protect them from their so called menacing threat to the north.

Ever since the Korean War the United States has ensured that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains politically and economically isolated from the rest of the world. With layers of inhumane sanctions piled on top of one another, the US has torpedoed North Korea’s national economy including its industrial base, its agriculture and foreign trade. As a recent example of how the US manipulates and controls the United Nations, in March this year the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2270 raining yet more crippling sanctions down on the beleaguered DPRK. The basis for the latest sanctions are unfounded since they are a consequence of bogus testimony of alleged human rights violations that have been proven false. The “eyewitness” testimony came from DPRK defectors who were paid to lie as confirmed by articles in both The New York Times and The Guardian.

This overly punitive UN resolution prohibits 50% of North Korea’s export sales of its minerals like gold, titanium, vanadium and other precious minerals and metals. Moreover, the resolution bans other UN nations from teaching North Koreans advanced computer science, physics, geospatial navigation, nuclear engineering and other advanced academic and technological disciplines, effectively impoverishing the people of DPRK from learning skills required for modern development and sound medical treatment, relegating the nation to primitive healthcare service and last century technology.

Since 1998 North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests and launched six rocket carrying satellites, the latest test a week ago and the second since last January. While US Empire has vowed it will never allow DPRK to gain possession of a single nuclear weapon, since 1998 the US has been busily developing new precision guided nukes, built more non-nuclear WMD’s and spends $8 billion each year to maintain and upgrade its vast 7,100 nuclear warhead arsenal. And even though official US statements assert that all American and South Korean nuclear weapons have been removed from ROK a quarter century ago, it’s a meaningless, misleading gesture because of US capability to launch its warheads against North Korea and China from the continental United States as well as from any strategic nuke-powered submarine.

Meanwhile, a number of other nations have recently shot satellites into orbit and even tested long range ballistic missiles. Yet North Korea and to some extent Iran are the only nations singled out and attacked by the world community of course led by Empire. A blatant double standard exists when so called Western allies like Israel are given carte blanche to continue stockpiling its nukes but when countries on Empire’s shit list exercise their rights to defend themselves, they’re customarily demonized. The apartheid Jewish State just finagled a near billion dollar a year boost in US military aid to expand its nuclear threat and genocidal policies against Palestinians and the Arab world with an obscene $38 billion commitment at US taxpayer expense over the next decade. In response to near a half century of nuclear threats with US nukes aimed directly at North Korea, the DPRK withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and as such, no international law prohibits North Korea from developing nuclear weapons nor firing rockets carrying satellites into orbit. The pile-on of sanctions and hypocritical saber-rattling rhetoric against North Korea are both groundless and morally untenable.

In July Empire and ROK were at it again, instigating yet more threats to not only North Korea’s national security but Russia and China’s as well with the unveiling of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to be located inside South Korea. With its implementation in NATO members Romania and Poland on Russia’s western front already well in progress, this sophisticated radar system and ballistic missile interceptor is construed by the three targeted Eastern nations as one more reckless act of US belligerence and confrontation on the path to world war.

Like a tag team wearing down an opponent, Empire is betting on a strategy that helped bring the Soviet Empire to its knees and eventual ashes. By continuing to escalate provocation and threat by rolling out more potent weaponry like the THAAD missile defense system as part of an unbeatable arms race that an impoverished North Korea cannot begin to match, the objective is to bankrupt and destroy the poorest country in Asia. This same strategy already proved successful once against the Soviet Union. The neocons today are confident that it will once again work against DPRK. Knowing that the North Korean government will sacrifice everything in order to bolster its military capabilities to keep up with US-ROK at the expense of its own people, creating such extreme economic hardship on a destitute population, Empire’s banking on a desperate people in North Korea to rise up in rebellion triggering regime change.

This year the US and South Korea have dramatically stepped up their joint military exercises practicing war against their North Korean enemy from once a year to twice a year. And they’re bigger than ever.  Last spring’s annual drill was extended to two months in length. Three months later more war games began late last month and just ended two weeks ago. Seeing the US aggressively militarizing their homeland like never before, the latest round of drills was met by protests from antiwar peace groups within South Korea that recognize practicing preemptive war strikes on the Korean Peninsula is not making them any safer or more secure but only increasing the risk of an epic scale war and massive carnage. A growing number of Koreans on both sides of the border realize that these US-ROK war games are not about defensive deterrence at all, but are geared to launch first strike attacks on North Korean nuclear and missile facilities and to take out the Pyongyang leadership. In response, the North Korean foreign minister issued this statement:

The military drill is an unpardonable criminal act of pushing the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of a war as the situation there has become unprecedentedly unstable due to the US introduction of nuclear strategic bombers, THAAD and other strategic assets into the peninsula and its vicinity.

In preparation for the coming war to take out North Korea, the US military has been quietly moving its fleet of nuclear bombers to nearby Guam. In an unprecedented display of air power, last month both B-1 and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers were dispatched to join B-52 bombers for a triple joint air operation for the first time. Understandably, the Pyongyang government interpreted it as evidence of a US plan to preemptively drop nuclear bombs on North Korea. Both the Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) and the Bomber Assurance and Deterrence Deployment (BAAD) operations being conducted now in the Pacific are indisputably connected to offensively targeting North Korea. Yet the world media ignores Empire transgressions that cannot hide its intent to start a nuclear war against DPRK. If the roles were reversed, all the world would be reacting with sheer outrage over such brazen acts of warmongering aggression. Again, always the double standard.

Then earlier this week to take it up a notch in a grand show of force designed to intimidate Pyongyang, Empire again flexed its airpower muscle with a staged flyover of strategic nuke-powered bombers just 50 miles from North Korea so all the world could see. Sanctions, saber-rattling and more threats have never worked on this poorest outcast nation on the Asian continent. DPRK is determined to exercise its right to defend itself with whatever means is necessary, and though it cannot compete in the Empire ruled nuclear arms race, for its survival it will not back down from seeking a semblance of nuclear parity.

While every North Korean action to defend itself against impossible odds is indignantly portrayed as raw aggressive insanity that must be stopped at all cost, in contrast the far deadlier, far more provocative machinations committed by the US and its ROK puppet ally are always favorably slanted as righteous efforts to protect the world by keeping the lawless rogue state in check.

Pure deceit is how the US and its globalist masters continue getting away with mass murdering our planet, multiple targeted nations at a time. Using nonstop war propaganda through mainstream media, the Empire that’s always clearly been the biggest single threat to the entire world is constantly twisting reality around to ensure that the tiny nation of North Korea is perceived to be the out of control demon bent on destroying not just ROK and US but the whole world.

The US has sought to create and maintain barriers between not only both Korean nations but also exploit potential conflicts that might weaken ties between DPRK and its closest ally China as well as Russia. Indeed a major reason why the US stations so many of its troops and weapons in ROK is to militarize South Korea as part of its aggressive “Asian pivot” strategy to encircle its other Eastern enemy China. And so status quo of yet another dissected nation and divided people prevails as American Empire remains at war really with both Koreas, subversively sabotaging whatever mutual effort or will each may possess to want to reunify and live in peace.

Growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula are but one example of the hectic pace of destabilizing events unfolding around the globe. They are near daily reminders of just how dangerous our world is becoming. The hostilities in a dozen hotspots are soaring and the likelihood of another global war has never been closer. Continuing to deny this tragic and alarming reality is suicide. The dire warnings that we realists are shouting from the rooftops are not the raving mad rants of the Chicken Littles of the world as the CIA and gov.corp would have us believe.

Since the JFK assassination whitewash, the CIA labeled those of us who question deep state lies as conspiracy theorists as its highly effective strategy to dismiss the dark truth from ever reaching the light of day. Sticking our heads in the sand playing passive and powerless will allow billions to needlessly die in the coming years. We have no choice but to stop these traitorous killers from committing the unthinkable – human genocide and slaughter of nearly 7 billion humans currently living and breathing on this planet right now. Acting purely in self-defense and self-preservation, we must imprison the guilty to save ourselves, our children, future generations and our precious planet from complete ruin. With the stakes never higher in history, it’s do or die time on planet earth.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field with abused youth and adolescents for more than a quarter century. In recent years he has focused on his writing, becoming an alternative media journalist. His blog site is at: http://empireexposed.blogspot.co.

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In Solidarity with the People of Syria: The Mercenary Terrorists are Losing.The Historic Significance of Defeating the West’s Dirty War…

By Mark Taliano, September 16 2016

Many people have wished me well and wished and wished me a safe journey.  Some people have donated money.  I am grateful for the best wishes, and the donations. In many respects, we’re all in this together.  The plight of Syria and Syrians is entwined with us as well. If the West and its proxies successfully destroy Syria as they did to so many other countries, including Iraq, and Libya, and Afghanistan, then the next country on the list will be Iran and so on.

white helmets

“Stop Supporting Terrorists in Syria”: Netflix and “White Helmets” (Fake NGO), “Hand in Hand with Al Qaeda”

By Vanessa Beeley, September 16 2016

Has Netflix revealed itself to be another deep state conscript? The recent Syria White Helmet promotional movie has caused uproar among people awakened to the US, UK state and intelligence agency involvement in this pseudo ‘first responder’ faux NGO outfit that has infiltrated Syria on behalf of its funders and donors based in the US and NATO neocolonialist “regime change” command centres.

U.S.-Russia-Syria

The Geneva Syria “Ceasefire” Agreement: Pizza and Vodka “Secrets” Coming Out…

By Israel Shamir, September 16 2016

The recent Syria agreement signed in Geneva by Kerry and Lavrov (probably it will be remembered as “Pizza and Vodka deal”, as the journalists have been served these delicacies by the negotiating teams during the time they had to wait for the results) beside the points disclosed by the foreign ministers included five documents. The US insisted on keeping the content secret, despite Russian insistence to make them known. Here is what we learned about the contents of the secret documents and the negotiation process from our usually reliable Arab and Israeli sources.

By South Front, September 16 2016

The Russian Aerospace Forces have eliminated 250 ISIS terrorists and 15 vehicles armed with machine guns near the Syrian city of Palmyra, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on September 14. Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes north of the city where a group of terrorists was preparing offensive on the Syrian army positions.

ASSAD-SYRIE

Assad’s Death Warrant

By Mike Whitney, September 16 2016

The US wants to install a puppet regime in Damascus so it can secure pipeline corridors in the East, oversee the transport of vital energy reserves from Qatar to the EU, and make sure that those reserves continue to be denominated in US Dollars that are recycled into US Treasuries and US financial assets. This is the basic recipe for maintaining US dominance in the Middle East and for extending America’s imperial grip on global power into the future.

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‘Syngenta and Bayer have a substantial amount of influence in the debate,’ said one neurobiology researcher in response to a Greenpeace analysis of corporate corruption in pesticide research.

Pesticide manufacturers have spent millions influencing researchers who are investigating the role of neonicotinoids, a nicotine-like chemical found in many major pesticides, in bee die-offs, according to a recent analysis by Greenpeace.

The analysis arrives just weeks after scientists released the results of a long-term study that shows neonicotinoids are extremely dangerous to wild bees in the United Kingdom.

A bumble bee perches on rape blossoms near Munich, southern Germany. A new study shows that scientists funded by pesticide makers downplayed the role pesticides had in decimating worldwide bee populations.

A bumble bee perches on rape blossoms near Munich, southern Germany. A new study shows that scientists funded by pesticide makers downplayed the role pesticides had in decimating worldwide bee populations.

Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world’s top manufacturers of neonicotinoid-based pesticides, gave over £2 million (over $2.6 million) to British universities engaged in research on pesticides and plant sciences between 2011 and the start of 2016, reported Joe Sandler Clarke, a journalist for Greenpeace’s Energydesk, on Aug. 29.

“Syngenta and Bayer have a substantial amount of influence in the debate,” Dr. Christopher Connolly, a reader in neurobiology at Scotland’s Dundee University, told Clarke.

Energydesk sent Freedom of Information requests to 135 universities, requesting details on studies funded by Bayer or Syngenta, and heard back from 70 institutions. Among the top recipients of corporate funding were Nottingham University, which received £557,500 from Syngenta for research into plant sciences between 2011 and 2015, and Reading University, which received £587,952 for similar research during the same period.

Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at Sussex University, acknowledged that it’s difficult to measure the exact extent of corporate influence in his field. However, he told Clarke:

It does seem to be the case that research funded by agrochemical companies rarely seems to find evidence that their products harm the environment, while independently-funded research often finds major adverse effects caused by the same products.

He further acknowledged: “Scientists are under huge pressure to obtain research funding and so are naturally likely to be keen to keep their funders happy.”

Scientists increasingly confident that ‘neonicotinoids are harmful’

While it appears some researchers were taking corporate money to follow an agribusiness agenda, others continue to document the harm caused by neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoid pesticides were banned from use on all flowering plants in the European Union in 2013. A team of seven scientists recently compared wild bee populations to levels of neonicotinoid use on oilseed rape crops in the U.K. between 1994 and 2011. The study, published Aug. 16 in the science journal Nature Communications and led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, showed that the populations of dozens of wild bee species declined significantly as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides increased, with the populations of one species down as much as 30 percent.

“[T]he average decline in population across all 62 species was 7.0 percent, but the average decline among 34 species that forage on oilseed rape was higher, at 10 percent,” reported Kate Kelland, a Reuters journalist who attended a press conference led by Ben Woodcock, who co-led the study.

Woodcock told reporters:

Prior to this, people had an idea that something might be happening, but no one had an idea of the scale. [Our results show that] it’s long-term, it’s large scale, and it’s many more species than we knew about before.

Connolly, the neurobiologist interviewed by Greenpeace, has also authored important research into the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides. In April, he and seven other researchers released a study in the journal Scientific Reports which showed two major neonicotinoids, Bayer’s imidacloprid and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, haveharmful effects on bee populations and the brain cells of individual bees. Surprisingly, a third chemical, Bayer’s clothianidin, appeared to actually increase the number of queens produced by a colony.

Connolly, who supports an ongoing ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides, including those containing clothianidin, praised the recent study by Woodcock and company. “The evidence against neonicotinoids now exists in key bee brain cells involved in learning and memory, in whole bees, entire colonies and now at the level of whole populations of wild bees,” he told Kelland.

Overall, there seems to be growing consensus among scientists that neonicotinoids pose a threat to bees. Dr. Nick Isaac, lead researcher of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s study, told Greenpeace’s Clarke:

“Neonicotinoids are harmful. We can be very confident about that.”

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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and The Arab Peace Initiative

September 16th, 2016 by Prof. Alon Ben-Meir

Senator Bernie Sanders’ call during the primaries for a new approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was on-point and necessary. However, his plea for the US to adopt a policy of even-handedness in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians will not suffice. In fact, even if the incoming administration changed its approach by coercing Israel to make important concessions and stop its settlement enterprise, this will not produce the necessary conditions to make peace at this particular juncture of the conflict.

Furthermore, any new approach by the EU during the current UN General Assembly meetings to restart the talks in the traditional way, either directly or through mediation, will not lead to an agreement regardless of the pressure or incentives that may be employed to persuade Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations in earnest.

A process of reconciliation must precede any formal negotiations for about two years, because the conditions on the ground have dramatically changed for the worse since the Oslo Accords. For the Palestinians, hopelessness has set in, mutual distrust has deepened, and extremists on both sides have gained significant traction. Perhaps most important, the political landscape has shifted to the right in both camps, making it highly unlikely to resume peace talks with any prospect of reaching an agreement.

There is no doubt that Palestinian acts of violence against Israelis are a direct result of 50 years of occupation that continues to frustrate and incite them. Consequently, the Palestinians feel they have been left with no option but to resort to violence in an effort to end the occupation and pave the way for the establishment of their own state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Conversely, the Israelis can also make a persuasive argument that the Palestinians cannot be trusted. The Second Intifada in particular was a turning point in the mind of most Israelis, which further deepened their distrust and heightened (albeit often to exaggeration) their national security concerns.

Unfortunately, successive right-of-center Israeli governments, especially those led by Netanyahu, exploited security concerns to expropriate more Palestinian territory and build new and expand existing settlements to create so-called “secure borders.”

To change the dynamic of the conflict, reconciliatory people-to-people measures becomes central to creating fertile ground for negotiations to succeed.

Such measures of reconciliation should include but not be limited to: facilitating mutual visitation, joint women activism, sporting events, student interaction, travelling art exhibitions, encouraging public discourse, hosting forums to discuss conflicting issues, and imploring the media to promote such shared initiatives.

Additional steps can be taken by leadership on both sides, including: halting mutual acrimonious public narratives, modifying textbooks, taking no provocative actions (i.e. halting settlement expansion during the period of reconciliation), and maintaining security cooperation between the two sides.

These measures are central to changing the psychological dynamic of the conflict and sociopolitical environment between them by mitigating the problem of mutual distrust, national security, and the illusion that either can rule over all of mandated Palestine. Only by adhering to such a process will they demonstrate their commitment to peace, which has been lacking but is essential to making the necessary concessions to reach an agreement.

As the process of reconciliation gets underway, the United States and the European Union should make a supreme effort to reinvigorate the Arab Peace Initiative (API) and pressure both Israel and Hamas to embrace it. The Arab Peace Initiative remains the only practical framework for peace, as it contains common denominators between Israel and the Palestinians (including Hamas) that will facilitate successful peace negotiations.

Moreover, the API is the only framework that will lead to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement in the context of a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace, which the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians are seeking in order to achieve long-term stability and progress.

Finally, the turmoil in the Middle East indeed offers an opportunity to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly now that the Arab world is keener than ever before to make peace with Israel because of the common Iranian threat and the violent rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites over regional hegemony.

The United States and the EU (the only powers that can bring an end to the conflict) and certainly moderate Israelis must exploit this window of opportunity and put an end to the longest and most debilitating violent conflict in modern times.

Russian President Putin’s invitation to Netanyahu and Abbas to visit Moscow (which they have accepted) means little and will produce even less. For Putin, the invitation offers an opportunity to exploit the vacuum resulting from US disengagement; for Netanyahu, it will (falsely) demonstrate that he is committed to peace; and for Abbas, he simply doesn’t want to be perceived as an obstacle.

Given that the United States was and remains the main player, neither Abbas nor Netanyahu can dismiss it. The new administration must support France’s initiative, which seeks to convene an international conference to resume peace negotiations, and change its previous approach in the search for a peace agreement based on a two-state solution.

There is no doubt that the US must play a more assertive role toward Israel, especially because the US is genuinely concerned about Israel’s national security. Providing Israel with $38 billion in military aid over a period of 10 years is unprecedented and only attests to the US’ commitment.

The next administration must stop enabling Israel to pursue policies which are to its detriment and insist that Israel genuinely engage in the process of reconciliation, which Netanyahu and Abbas, who profess to seek a two-state solution, will be hard-pressed to reject.

In this regard, the EU is well-placed to push the peace process forward by focusing first on reconciliation and giving time to the new administration to join the French initiative, which is largely consistent with the US’ traditional position.

The new administration, jointly with the EU, must also make it abundantly clear that a two-state solution provides, more than any other security measure, the ultimate guarantee of Israel’s national security while allowing the Palestinians to live in dignity in an independent state.

After seventy years of continuing violent conflict, the time has come to end the hellish conditions that the Israelis and Palestinians have created for themselves before they are ultimately consumed by it. As Thomas Hobbes is purported to have said, “hell is truth seen too late.”

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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A DeSmog investigation has revealed the possibility that a front group supporting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) — the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN) — may have created fake Twitter profiles, known by some as “sock puppets,” to convey a pro-pipeline message over social media. And MAIN may be employing the PR services of the firm DCI Group, which has connections to the Republican Party, in order to do so.

DeSmog tracked down at least 16 different questionable Twitter accounts which used the #NoDAPL hashtag employed by protesters, in order to claim that opposition to the pipeline kills jobs, that those protesting the pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s encampment use violence, and that the pipeline does not pose a risk to water sources or cross over tribal land.

On September 13, people began to suspect these accounts were fake, calling them out on Twitter, and by September 14, most of the accounts no longer existed.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is set to carry oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Bakken Shale basin in North Dakota across the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois. Its owner, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), says it plans to talk to the Obama administration and “reiterate [its] commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation.” It will do so despite the administration requesting that the company halt construction “voluntarily — particularly around the contested sacred tribal sites located 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River — until further notice.”

In his memorandum announcing his company’s plans to do so, ETP CEO Kelcy Warren espoused many of the same arguments that were deployed by the Twitter sock puppets, which calls into question whether his company helped spearhead the social media campaign behind the scenes in order to create the appearance of grassroots support, a technique known as “astroturfing.”

In that memo, Warren said his company plans to engage more aggressively in the PR sphere.

“It has not been my preference to engage in a media/PR battle,” wrote Warren. “However, misinformation has dominated the news, so we will work to communicate with the government and media more clearly in the days to come.”

Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for the company, did not respond to a request for comment.

In the meantime, as all stakeholders in the debate await a definitive next move from the Obama administration, protests both on-site and nationwide have continued, with a militarized police presence at the Sacred Stone Camp intensifying. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke at a September 13 Washington, DC protest against the pipeline, while U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) that same day called for a congressional oversight investigation of the hotly contested permitting issues which have arisen in the ongoing saga over the pipeline’s future.

With that backdrop, in came the “sock puppets” for their own September 13 day of action on Twitter — and with MAINlikely pulling the strings.

The Sock Puppets

The sock puppet profiles had names such as Ashley Lovinggood, Garnett Vreeken, Yong Fetner, and Ying Baars, and all of the profile pictures featured women. Besides tweets promoting the Dakota Access Pipeline, what links all of the bogus profiles together is that they all “follow” (similar to “liking” a page on Facebook) the company Hootsuite.

Hootsuite serves as a social media platform management tool which allows an administrator for many different social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, to toggle quickly between accounts and send out posts in the form of tweets and other status updates. One of those accounts, that of Angla Dullea, formerly followed MAIN — and like all of the other pages — also followed Hootsuite; that is, until the account became suspended.

Dullea’s profile photo bore an identical resemblance to the Twitter profile for Palma Mackerl, another bare-bones Twitter account.

Dullea also retweeted a tweet from a group called Standing Rock Fact Checker, which on its website describes itself as a project of MAIN. The website also states it is “dedicated to promoting the truth” and battling “misinformation about the approved — and nearly complete — Dakota Access project.” Five other suspicious Twitter profiles also shared Fact Checker tweets.

MAIN members include the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association, North Dakota Petroleum Council, Petroleum Marketers, Convenience Stores of Iowa, and others.

Reverse photo searches on Google revealed that the pictures used for other sock puppet profiles also appeared on a dermatologist website, a mail order bride website, and a hairstyle website featuring a photo of Eva Longoria, as well as images of Chinese model Crystal Wang Xi Ran, singer Keri Hilson, and the late singer Amy Winehouse.

Eva Longoria doppelgänger; Photo Credit: Twitter | Oliver Keyes

The use of political bots and sock puppets is nothing new and in fact, has become normalized by political factions worldwide, explained Norah Abokhodair of the Political Bots research program based at the University of Washington and Oxford University.

“There are many ways in which social bots can disrupt or influence online discourse, such as, spamming, phishing, distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), or other nefarious activities,” Abokhodair explained, pointing to examples such as the Syrian Civil War bots and bots used in Turkey. “They can also be deployed for sophisticated activities like astroturfing, misdirection (botnet that tries to get the audience to attend to other content by spamming the hashtag) and smoke screening (serves to hide or provide cover for or obscure some type of activity).”

MAIN and DCI Group

MAIN was the only industry group to issue a press release in response to the Obama administration’s September 9 announcement halting construction on a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Its press release contained a statement attributed to spokesperson Craig Stevens. Stevens also recently did an interview with KVLY-TV, the NBC and CBS affiliate for Fargo, North Dakota. When on TV, however, he was billed as the “spokesperson for a pipeline sort of group, if you will” by segment host Chris Berg.

Despite the lack of disclosure by KVLY and Berg, it turns out that Craig Stevens actually works as Media Affairs and Crisis Management Lead for DCI Group. His DCI Group contact information is listed for MAIN’s profile page on the website PR Newswire.

Image Credit: PR Newswire

DCI is a PR firm tied to the GOP and with roots in creating front groups on behalf of Big Tobacco, spearheading the modern Tea Party movement, and representing oppressive dictatorial regimes such as that of Burma and oil- and gas-soaked Azerbaijan. Stevens formerly worked for the George W. Bush presidential campaign, served as spokesperson for U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman for the George W. Bush Administration, and also worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 Republican Party presidential campaign.

Jim Murphy, the political director for Donald Trump’s Republican Party presidential campaign, formerly served as President and Managing Partner for DCI Group. Beyond the DCI Group connection, Continental Resources — whose founder and CEO Harold Hamm is one of Donald Trump’s top energy advisers and a potential candidate for U.S. Secretary of Energy under a Trump presidency — said in a recent investor statement that a significant chunk of the company’s Bakken oil will flow through Dakota Access.

Before DCI Group began working on Standing Rock-related projects for MAIN, it appears the PR firm LS2Group maintained the PR account for Dakota Access. A MAIN press release from November 2015 lists LS2’s Kayla Day as the contact person and her LS2 work number is also listed, while metadata for the press release’s PDF shows the document was last saved by former LS2 staffer Alex Shaner.

DCI’s Role

As DeSmog has previously revealed, LS2 also did PR work in support of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement published emails from 2014 (obtained via a public records request) showing LS2 also doing advocacy work in support of Dakota Access.

LS2’s Day told DeSmog that LS2 still does some work on behalf of MAIN, but declined to comment further on how the work is divvied up between LS2 and DCI Group. Stevens was first listed as a spokesperson for MAIN in a September 6 press release, two days after the now-infamous dog biting incident took place at the protesting Standing Rock Siuox Tribe’s Sacred Stone Camp. The Standing Rock Fact Checker website was registered the day before, and it also sent out its first tweet that same day.

Standing Rock Fact Checker

Image Credit: WhoIs.net

Stevens declined to comment on who funds MAIN, referring to the membership list and confirming he was brought on in the past couple weeks to do PR work on behalf of the coalition, “as the whole public discussion has increased and been elevated” surrounding the pipeline. He also confirmed he runs the Fact Checker portal.

Asked about whether his firm or MAIN had anything to do with the sock-puppet tweets, Stevens denied he or MAIN had any involvement.

“It’s frustrating to me because we’re working to be respectful in tone and fact-based and any tactics like these are a distraction for what we’re trying to do and that’s to bring facts and contexts to this discussion,” Stevens said. “I don’t know about the tactics themselves and I don’t know who or what is behind it, but as someone who’s trying to get facts out and trying to be respectful in tone, it was incredibly frustrating that this was going on. As far as I know, and think I know, the MAIN Coalition had nothing to do with them.”

However, noted environmental advocate and co-founder of climate group 350.org, Bill McKibben, doubts the authenticity of such claims from PR firms with a record like DCI, saying:

“There’s a word for this kind of thing, and that word is: lying. The invention of fake people to make fake arguments perfectly exemplifies the tactics Big Oil has been reduced to. They can’t win an argument on the merits, so they’ve given up trying. Instead, they literally make things up. The contrast with the steadfast straightforwardness of the tribes, and of the climate scientists, couldn’t be more stark.”

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The Russian Aerospace Forces have eliminated 250 ISIS terrorists and 15 vehicles armed with machine guns near the Syrian city of Palmyra, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on September 14.

Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes north of the city where a group of terrorists was preparing offensive on the Syrian army positions.

Photos of the Syrian S-200 air-defense system deployed in southern Syria appeared in pro-government social media accounts on September 14. According to reports, the same system was used against Israeli aircraft on September 13 when Syria claimed to down an Israeli drone and a warplane over the country. However, the claim of the Syrian military has not been confirmed with video or photo proofs.

 

On September 19, the Syrian Air Force will stop to carry out combat flights in accordance with terms of the US-Russian agreement on Syria, a senior US official said during a special briefing for press held on the phone on September 13. At the same time, the US side noted that in the current period, the Syrian Arab Air Force is still technically allowed to strike on Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. After the joint US-Russian integration center will be created, new restrictions will come into force. Then the air force of the regime will not be able to strike on Jabhat al-Nusra.

The statement came amid reports that Russian and US defense officials even have not agreed a plan for military cooperation in Syria. According to Spokesman for the Pentagon, Peter Cook, the aim of recent discussions was to strengthen security measures to avoid incidents in the Syrian airspace. In this case, it’s hard to say when the US-Russian joint center will be de-facto launched.

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In many respects, we’re all in this together.  The plight of Syria and Syrians is entwined with us as well. If the West and its proxies successfully destroy Syria as they did to so many other countries, including Iraq, and Libya, and Afghanistan, then the next country on the list will be Iran and so on.

But the mercenary terrorists are losing.  I suspect that now the diplomats are looking for a way to help the US save face and to usher the West diplomatically out the door.  I hope this is the case.  The carnage in the Middle East, especially after the 911 false flag, is testament to the fact that a unipolar world is too dangerous for humanity.

Author and Anti-war activist Mark Taliano

Listening to diplomats can be confusing though. The Dirty War of aggression against Syria was planned well in advance.  The lies and diplomatic scripts were wrapped around the invasion plans once the plans were complete. Intelligence agencies decided well in advance to use so-called “Islamic Militants” to fight the war.  Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the West, is an incubator for these mercenaries, and Israel needs them as well to create their dream of a Greater Israel.

The story of the White/al Qaeda Helmets is particularly brazen. The White Helmets are a creation of Purpose Inc., and they, like all the fake NGOs, are embedded with the terrorists, and serve to advance the terrorist cause of regime change. Yet it is this same group that is vying for a Nobel Peace Prize.  If they win their award, it will be further testament to the contamination of the Western mind-set, to the success of fake NGOs, and to the effectiveness of Public Relations “perception managers”.

All of the different names for terrorist groups are part of the psychological operation. Syrians trying to live their lives refer to them all as “Daesch”.  Syrian writer Afraa Dagher, for instance, calls ISIS fiction.  She’s right.  It is well-documented that there are not and that there never were “moderate” terrorists.

Al Qaeda is the designated scape-goat to mislead the Western public, and to serve as a pretext to invade the world in a “war on terrorism”, which is itself a war for terrorism (since terrorists are the Western assets).

In Syria, the designated enemies are al Qaeda, ISIS etc. when in reality they are the “strategic assets”.  This is well-documented using admissions and documents from Western sources.

It is also well-documented that the West has a long history of creating, using, and supporting un-Islamic “Islamic Militants”.   Al Qaeda were proxies for the West in Afghanistan, in Bosnia, in Libya, in Iraq and now in Syria. The West calls them al Nursra Front in Syria.  The West uses these proxies as ground troops with a view to maintaining “plausible deniability” and distancing themselves from their assets’ crimes. The West has always claimed that it fights for freedom and democracy, and now for “humanitarian” reasons — but they are all Big Lies, and they always were.  The West is trying to destroy Syria because Syria is deemed to be an impediment to the West’s global hegemony and its projects for parasitical corporate globalization.  Public assets, including free education, free public healthcare, and values such as equality, and democracy, are enemies to corporate globalists.

This puts me in a somewhat awkward position in Syria.  Canada’s unspoken allies are the terrorists – all of them – so informed Syrians who haven’t read my articles may resent the Canadian flags on my luggage.  Terrorists, on the other hand, might welcome the sight of my flags, since the Canadian government supports the terrorists, but I have no intention to befriend terrorists operating in Syria, and every intention to befriend those who oppose the terrorists — the Canadian government doesn’t represent my views on this matter.

 

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David Cameron, Libya and Disaster

September 16th, 2016 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The UK Foreign Affairs Committee was a long time coming with this judgment, but when it came, it provided a firm reminder about how far the 2011 intervention against the Gaddafi regime was not merely flawed but calamitous in its consequences.  There had been no coherent strategy on the part of the Cameron government; the campaign had not been “informed by accurate intelligence.”

For members of the committee, it was clear that the then UK prime minister, David Cameron, had to carry a rather large can on the issue.  “Through his decision-making in the National Security Council, former prime minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy.”

The consequential nature of this bloody and ultimately catastrophic blunder of international relations triggered continental instability, with a foul global aftertaste. The collapse of Libya into territories battled over with sectarian fury and the death of Muammar Gaddafi unsettled the ground in Mali.  It also propelled violence through North African and the Middle East.

It is hard to rank the levels of severity in what went wrong in the aftermath of the Libyan collapse.  Could a finger be pointed at the militia hothouse that was created within the state? (Tripoli alone currently hosts somewhere up to 150.)  What of the external outrage stemming from it?

Near the top must be the conflict in northern Mali, precipitated by members of the Tuareg ethnic group who had long supplied Gaddafi with soldiers.  Armed to the teeth, the MNLA, with the assistance of such Islamist groups as Ansar Dine, commenced a separatist action that in turn encouraged interventions by al-Qaeda sponsored Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb eventually became one of the big and most menacing players, busying itself with operations beyond Mali, including Algeria, Niger, Mauritania, Tunisia and Morocco.

Meshed between these skirmishing groups were a French-led intervention in 2013 that petered out, followed by a continuing peace keeping operation which has long since ditched the word “peace” in its equation.

Not even the presence of 12,000 UN soldiers under the mission known as MINUSMA has done much to prevent the fraying of that land, despite the June 2015 peace deal. Since 2013, the mission has taken over a hundred casualties, a deal of it occasioned by the ubiquitous landmine and roadside bomb.

While Mali burned with fury, other African states felt the aftershocks, notably through a huge, easily accessible arms market that was not brought under control after Gaddafi’s fall.  Marty Reardon, Senior Vice President of The Soufran Group, a US-based security consultancy, surprised no one in telling The Independent that Libya’s implosion led to the arming of “well-armed and militant groups” in Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Egypt.[1]

In this belligerent free for all, jihadi groups jostle and scratch for gains, creating a further pool of radicalised fighters who will, in time, find nowhere else to go.  The Libyan collapse, in other words, has created a certain type of roving tourist jihadi, notching up points with each campaign.

Crispin Blunt, who chaired the committee, scoldingly suggested that the 2011 intervention was based on “erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the country.”  This kindergarten world view did not stop there.

Having made a right royal mess, it was incumbent on France and the UK to right the ship, with a “responsibility to support Libyan economic and political reconstruction.”  This responsibility was also a muddled one, with British and French institution builders profoundly ignorant about local matters.  Having pushed Humpty Dumpty over, they showed scant knowledge on how to put him back together.

The sense of culpability for Cameron is further compounded by the nonsense the intervention made of such international humanitarian doctrines as the responsibility to protect. There was always a sense that the French-UK led mission was struggling for a plausible alibi, but recourse to the nonsensical notion of civilian protection reared its head.

That door was opened by the hoovering effect of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorised “all necessary means” to protect that most wonderful contrivance, irrespective of what those in the host state thought.[2] Find the civilians and save the day.

While it remains the most insidious of contrivances at international law, that responsibility to protect could be said to have been discharged rapidly – after the initial round of strikes.  In the words of the MPs, “If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi, then this objective was achieved in March 2011 in less than 24 hours.”

This was not to be. Instead, the intervention ballooned into a monstrous matter of regime change, with no attempt made to “pause military action” when Benghazi was being secured.  “This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change by military means.”  Docks in international criminal courts should be warmed by such adventurous men.

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

Notes

 [1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libya-report-britain-uk-gaddafi-civil-war-david-cameron-responsible-terrorism-isis-al-qaeda-mali-a7309821.html

[2] http://www.elac.ox.ac.uk/downloads/Welsh%20Civilian%20Protection%20in%20Libya.pdf

 

 

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The recent Syria agreement signed in Geneva by Kerry and Lavrov (probably it will be remembered as “Pizza and Vodka deal”, as the journalists have been served these delicacies by the negotiating teams during the time they had to wait for the results) beside the points disclosed by the foreign ministers included five documents. The US insisted on keeping the content secret, despite Russian insistence to make them known. Here is what we learned about the contents of the secret documents and the negotiation process from our usually reliable Arab and Israeli sources.

The secret documents describe what should happen in Syria after the cease-fire will come into effect. The first day of cease-fire is called Day D. The Russians wanted it to begin at noon, while the Americans preferred sunset on Monday September 12, 2016. The American view prevailed. After first two days, at D+2, if cease-fire holds, the Russians and the Americans will extend it for a longer time. This actually happened on September 14, in a telephone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry. They extended it for another 48 hours. If it will hold for a week, hopefully the sides will extend it indefinitely and proceed to the next stage.

The sides will go into delineation of territories controlled by ISIL, Nusra and the moderates. Then ISIL and Nusra will be bombed to smithereens by the Russian and American Air Forces, while the moderates will be left in peace. The delineation, or the separation of sheep from goats is an old Russian demand that the Americans never fulfilled. Now, at least, they promised to do it. While ISIL could be “delineated”, Nusra is the strongest fighting opposition force in Syria, and it is connected with almost all other rebel groups. Without Nusra, the rest of rebels have little chance.

That is why a biggish rebel group called Ahrar al Sham insisted on extending the cease fire over Nusra-held ground, and refused to join the Cessation of Hostilities regime. Other rebel groups are also much distressed over Nusra’s misfortune.

Not only rebels; the Pentagon and Israelis also want to keep Nusra as their strongest force against Damascus. Ashton Carter, the US Secretary of Defence actively participated in preparation of the document by trying to block it or derail it altogether. Like the Israelis, Carter wants more war in Syria. He is one of the strongest anti-Russian voices in the Obama administration, and he would be very happy to humiliate Russia in Syria.

During the negotiations in Geneva, Kerry called the Pentagon and the White House every few minutes. The negotiators could not proceed with even the smallest amendments without approval by Carter or Obama. And Carter tried to improve upon the preliminary agreement of Obama and Putin concluded in Hangzhou. Eventually the last word was that of the US president and (with great difficulty) the agreement has been signed, but the feeling is that the Pentagon is unhappy with it and won’t regret it if the agreement fails. Carter even made his displeasure known as soon as the deal was signed.

A Kerry-Carter agreement would be a good thing; perhaps the State Department and the DoD can also agree to a cessation of hostilities, the negotiators joked. The Pentagon is in cahoots with the rebels and tries to curry favour with them, said Lavrov. This remark was connected with the previous stage of the negotiations, with the nasty surprise served by Michael Ratney. The US Syrian envoy threw open the door to the diplomatic kitchen where the Americans and the Russians had cooked a secret deal. Our negotiations “aren’t based on trust”, said the polite envoy; he accused the Russians and their Damascus allies of acting “in bad faith”, and stressed that “The United States has not begun to coordinate with Russia in Syria, militarily or otherwise, whatever the Russians say”.

The Russians were properly annoyed. It is bad enough to see your confidential deliberations made known to every Tom, Dick and Abdul; it is worse to be accused of bad faith and to hear about lack of trust. The worst was the misrepresentation of the Russian positions. Ratney claimed Russians will enforce the no-fly zone for the government air force all over Syria; they will end the siege of Aleppo. Bashar Assad was stunned. The Riyadh-based opposition added insult to injury demanding “regime change” and “Assad must go”, while the US presented this particular opposition group as the legitimate representative of Syrian people.

Ratney demanded a “complete cessation of military operations”, withdrawal of government’s vehicles and heavy weapons, opening of Aleppo and then “stopping the regime planes from flying”. He wanted to keep Aleppo accessible not only for humanitarian aid, but for weapons as well. The Russians insisted on Syrian government checkposts on the road to Aleppo; Carter and Ratney were against it.

We can tell you that according to the signed agreement the Russian point of view prevailed. The traffic to Aleppo by Castello Road will be monitored and checked. The humanitarian loads will be checked at the point of loading into the trucks and sealed. More checkpoints on the road will check that the seals aren’t broken until the trucks unload their stuff at the UN warehouses in Aleppo. The idea is to prevent arms being delivered in the humanitarian convoys, as it happened many times with deliveries from Turkey.

The checks will be done by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and later by a UN agency. The civilian, humanitarian and commercial traffic will be able to roll to and fro Castello Road freely, subject to checks. The rebels and the government forces will not snatch each other’s territories, will not improve their positions in the designated areas.

The Pentagon demanded a no-fly zone for the Syrian air force all over Syria, but by the agreement, the Syrian air force will stop flying battle missions only over designated areas. The Russians say this condition will not undermine their strength, as the Syrian military aviation is anyway a negligible force in comparison with the Russian Air Space Force, and the Russians will keep flying. They proved this point on September 14, as they bombed away a rebel force that took positions threatening Palmyra.

Any Syrians including armed rebel fighters can leave Aleppo by Castello Road freely to any destination whatsoever. This is an important point. If they want to fight, let them get out of the city. If they are tired of war and want to go home, let them. This was the Russian view as well, while Pentagon insisted to keep the armed and fighting groups in Aleppo. It is not clear what will happen with non-Syrian fighters; perhaps they will be able to get out after laying down their weapons.

After one week of no hostilities, the Americans and the Russians will set up the JIC, the Joint Implementation Center, where they will share information and jointly fly missions against ISIL and Nusra.

And in a short while, the political process will resume, under auspices of Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy in Syria. This is no less problematic than the military part.

The sides hold very different views: the US and its allies apparently prefer to carve Syria into a few statelets: a Sunni statelet, a radical Sunni statelet, a Kurdish statelet, and the rump-Syria containing the Alawite and Christian territories with the Russian bases. On the other hand, Damascus and Moscow prefer to keep Syria united.

Whatever is the outcome, fate of Aleppo, the second biggest city of Syria, is paramount. Some limited successes of the Syrian army and its Russian and Iranian allies in Aleppo (they cut supply routes to the rebel-held part of the city) already had caused quite a crisis in the Russian-American relations. The liberal interventionists felt fresh air in their sails and published touching pictures of suffering civilians calling for Western intervention “to save people of Aleppo”. The harsh word “ultimatum” hovered in the air, while the US administration tried to make a new record of brinkmanship. The Damascus government hoped to liberate Aleppo and consolidate the territories under its control, while the Americans wanted to keep at least half of Aleppo in the hands of the rebels to prevent Assad’s victory.

The turning point was the Obama and Putin discussion in Hangzhou. The meeting had been tense. The leaders exchanged a stare of death, much photoshopped. The Washington Post said Obama gave Russia an ultimatum, make or break proposal; Russians fumed, especially as the meeting has been preceded and followed by two rounds of additional “sanctions”, on September 1st and September 6th.

Despite these problems, the agreement was reached. What next? After the cessation of hostilities will be established, there should be negotiations between the Government and Opposition in Syria, but the US and its allies would like to keep the government of Bashar Assad out of negotiations. They actually prefer to limit negotiations to the different groups of rebels, as they say, President Bashar Assad had lost his legitimacy, he said. The Russians disagree. They say: the government representatives sit in the UN, there are ambassadors and embassies in Damascus. You may dislike Assad, but that does not make him illegitimate, said Lavrov to Kerry.

Now the arrangements of the cease fire are not proceeding smoothly. The UN personnel supposed to man checkposts should get visas; Damascus does not want to give visas to the British: they could be spies, they say. They agree to Indians, or other neutrals. The UN and the Red Crescent waited for assurances of their safety from the government and the rebels, and apparently none were forthcoming. The rebels are reluctant to move away from their positions, and the government troops were waiting for them to move. But the general level of violence has been greatly reduced.

The chances for success or failure are more or less even. Nusra keeps a low profile in the North, but they instigate other groups to refuse the cease fire. Pentagon is not keen to share information with the Russians. And the Russians can’t make peace alone. On the other side, the Syrians are very tired of war, and they are happy to have even a lull in violence. The next few days will show whether this agreement will lead to peace, or will it being used for the sides to consolidate and improve their positions for the next outbreak of fighting, as it happened in February.

Meanwhile the government forces have a new (or rather old) enemy: Israel. Israelis support Nusra forces in the vicinity of the armistice line between Syria and Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. As Nusra fought against the government army, some shells flew over and fell on the Golan territory. The Israelis used it as a pretext to attack Syrian army. The Syrians said they downed two Israeli planes, a fighter and a drone, by their old reliable Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles. Israelis deny that with unusual vehemence. It seems that an Israeli drone has been downed, while a jet, even if it was hit, succeeded in returning home.

The Syrian government gave a lot of publicity to this encounter in order to stress that the rebels fight on Israeli side against their Arab brothers. But friendship between Nusra and the Jews is hardly a secret: pictures showing Israelis helping Nusra fighters appeared in the Arab and Israeli media. And this assistance is not limited to medical help: Israelis are determined to keep the Syrian army farther away from its borders.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

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Here is a polling question for history fans: If the election were held today and the candidates were Republican Nero, Democrat Catherine de Medici, and Libertarian Timothy Leary, for whom would you?

An impossible match up but, in some ways, a real one. None of these are credible or beloved characters from history – at least when we think of the Black Box with the button, making a nationwide television address, or attending the G8 Summit.

But today we have the moral equivalent of each and the polls clearly reflect the public’s revulsion toward this race.

As I have noted before, there is really no good reason why this race for the presidency is even close. Hillary Clinton is running for President Barack Obama’s “third term” and voters don’t seem to mind that idea, Even though only a third or fewer voters feel the country is headed in the right direction,

Obama’s approval rating is at a respectable 52%, the unemployment rate is less than half of what it was when he entered the White House eight years ago, there is finally some credible upward movement on wages and salaries, and the country has mainly extricated itself from two disastrous and protracted wars.

Besides, the GOP has no real plan to make things better except that they will do things differently and “Make America Great Again”.  Add to that the demographic advantages and Electoral College history since 1992, and this race is the Democrats to lose.

And the problem the Democrats face is that Clinton seems, at least up to now, to be rising to the occasion to do just that. Her favorable ratings are worse than when the campaign started and she is mired in the high thirties and low forties in both the nationwide and state horse race samples. I said earlier in the campaign that there was little she could do to actually improve her image.

She has been around so long, is the best known active political figure in the country, has few people who are undecided about her, and lacks the nimble political personality needed to change her image to one that is perceived as beloved. In this context, she decided to expose Trump and his supporters.

But this year has been so different. Trump actually exposes himself, is “in your face” about how ridiculous and dangerous he can be, and has actually kept his numbers within Clinton’s range right along. Attacks from someone who is less likable than him seem to have done him no harm.

But this week has been nothing short of a crisis for Clinton and her campaign. As I wrote recently, the “basketful of deplorables” statement revealed an arrogance, a meanness, and a lack of willingness to understand her opposition that raises serious questions about her ability to govern. She has yet to adequately deal with that yet. It will haunt her.

Then the entire fainting and pneumonia issue is nothing short of a disaster and raises many questions beyond her (and her campaign’s) capacity for truthfulness.

It actually makes voters consider whether she possesses the judgment to be our President. She knew she had pneumonia on Friday, decided to not tell the American people (who would have understood), proceeded to collapse and lie to the press on Sunday, then announce she had the illness. And there is much more to all of this.

Anyone paying attention heard her staff say that she was resting and “playing with her grandchildren”, then came out later and tenderly hugged a five year old. Adorable – except she has PNEUMONIA. It is contagious, after all. And to the ardent supporters who have been telling me that she is “past the contagious phase”, then why did she pass out?

This has all been badly done. New polls have come out today that show Clinton down 5 points in Ohio, down in Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Iowa – and none of these polls reflect more than just one day’s sample. A new CBS Tracking Poll now shows her leading Trump 42% to 40%. I probably shouldn’t speculate but I suspect she will lose a few more points.


But the real crisis here is how she gets back on track.

She will most likely have a good debate performance on September 26. But then she still have to deal with the “deplorables” thing because of what it reveals about her and her supporters. And then the release of her emails in October.

She is in a tough spot.

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In yesterday’s post, The Death of Mainstream Media, I noted:

At the end of the day, I have concluded that my focus on Hillary as of late (vs. Trump) has as much to with my disgust for the mainstream media as anything else. To see these organs, which have destroyed this country by keeping the people uninformed for decades, now rally around a sickly, corrupt, oligarch coddling politician as the empire enters the collapse stage is simply too much to stomach…

The only positive thing to happen during this election season is the death of mainstream media. With their insufferable propaganda fully exposed, there is no coming back. 

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Then today, we learned the following from Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.

Here’s a chart.

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If that’s not a trend, I don’t know what is.

Gallup began asking this question in 1972, and on a yearly basis since 1997. Over the history of the entire trend, Americans’ trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans’ trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily. It has consistently been below a majority level since 2007.

While it is clear Americans’ trust in the media has been eroding over time, the election campaign may be the reason that it has fallen so sharply this year. With many Republican leaders and conservative pundits saying Hillary Clinton has received overly positive media attention, while Donald Trump has been receiving unfair or negative attention, this may be the prime reason their relatively low trust in the media has evaporated even more. It is also possible that Republicans think less of the media as a result of Trump’s sharp criticisms of the press. Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.

Meanwhile, if there is any hope for the future, it can be found here.

Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to say they trust the media, but trust has declined among both age groups this year. Currently, 26% of those aged 18 to 49 (down from 36% last year) and 38% of those aged 50 and older (down from 45%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.

In 2001, younger Americans (55%) were more likely than older Americans (50%) to express trust and confidence in mass media. This gap emerged again in 2005 when 53% of 18- to 49-year-olds had trust and 45% of those 50 and older expressed the same sentiment. Yet in the past decade, older Americans have mostly had more confidence than younger Americans, and this year, the gap between these age groups is 12 points. And 2016 marks the first time that confidence among older Americans has dropped below 40% in polling since 2001.

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Before 2004, it was common for a majority of Americans to profess at least some trust in the mass media, but since then, less than half of Americans feel that way. Now, only about a third of the U.S. has any trust in the Fourth Estate, a stunning development for an institution designed to inform the public.

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On September 9, the United States and Russia announced a fresh Syrian ceasefire agreement. Some media already said that they agreed to a joint plan for ending the war in the Arab country. However, until the official text of agreement is not published, it will be premature to make far-reaching conclusions. The basic idea initially promoted by open sources is for the US and Russia to get the so-called “moderate opposition” and the Syrian government to stop fighting each other. So, the US and Russia can start jointly attacking both ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria more effectively. Another key part of the deal is to provide humanitarian aid for besieged areas across the country with special attention to Aleppo city.

The separation of “moderate opposition” from terrorists is likely the main soft-spot of the deal. In practice, it means that Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam and other groups have to separate from the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorist group. The first problem is that Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam military HQs and local commanders are deeply integrated into Fatah al-Sham’s military structure. This is why the suggested terms of ceasefire have been already rejected by over 20 opposition groups. Syrian experts believe that any agreements between Russia and the US will not lead to such a separation because they have no peaceful options to force the opposition to do this.

The second problem is that the main sponsor of Fatah al-Sham, Saudi Arabia, will likely continue to support the terrorist group. By now, Fatah al-Sham and its allies have been a pillar of the kingdom’s foreign policy in Syria. If it’s destroyed, all efforts of Riyadh will be wasted and the Iranian position in the region will be strengthened. Many in Saudi Arabia elites will call such result a total failure of the whole police over the conflict.

Generalizing the situation, it’s possible to suggest that the so-called “moderate opposition” will continue to operate hand by hand with terrorists despite the political agreement between Washington and Moscow. Some experts believe that the only solution of this problem is a constant full-scale military pressure on terrorists and their allies and massive diplomatic pressure on Ankara. Turkey is remaining the main logistical hub for military supplies to the terrorists despite the recent rapprochement with Russia. Turkey pursues its own interests in Syria creating a buffer zone between Jarabulus and Azaz in order to oppose creation of a Kurdish autonomous region there.

In the negative scenario, supplies of humanitarian aid to Aleppo city will strengthen the terrorist forces based there and the US will be able to sabotage the start of joint actions against the terrorists because moderate groups are not able to separate from Fatah al-Sham, again. In this case, the ongoing ceasefire is just a tactical pause before further military and diplomatic escalation over the Syrian crisis.

Will Moscow be able turn the tide in favor of the practical solution of the problem and push the US-led anti-Assad block to real cooperation against terrorists? This depends on Russia’s ability to actualize the recent military and diplomatic success in Syria and, for sure, on the unreleased parts of the US-Russian agreement.

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Assad’s Death Warrant

September 16th, 2016 by Mike Whitney

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria, Politico

The conflict in Syria is not a war in the conventional sense of the word. It is a regime change operation, just like Libya and Iraq were regime change operations.

The main driver of the conflict is the country that’s toppled more than 50 sovereign governments since the end of World War 2.  (See: Bill Blum here.) We’re talking about the United States of course.

Washington is the hands-down regime change champion, no one else even comes close. That being the case, one might assume that the American people would notice the pattern of intervention, see through the propaganda and assign blame accordingly. But that never  seems to happen and it probably won’t happen here either. No matter how compelling the evidence may be, the brainwashed American people always believe their government is doing the right thing.

But the United States is not doing the right thing in Syria. Arming, training and funding Islamic extremists — that have killed half a million people, displaced 7 million more and turned the country into an uninhabitable wastelands –is not the right thing. It is the wrong thing, the immoral thing. And the US is involved in this conflict for all the wrong reasons, the foremost of which is gas. The US wants to install a puppet regime in Damascus so it can secure pipeline corridors in the East, oversee the transport of vital energy reserves from Qatar to the EU, and make sure that those reserves continue to be denominated in US Dollars that are recycled into US Treasuries and US financial assets. This is the basic recipe for maintaining US dominance in the Middle East and for extending America’s imperial grip on global power into the future.

The war in Syria did not begin when the government of Bashar al Assad cracked down on protestors in the spring of 2011. That version of events is obfuscating hogwash.  The war began in 2009, when Assad rejected a Qatari plan to transport gas from Qatar to the EU via Syria. As Robert F Kennedy Jr. explains in his excellent article “Syria: Another pipeline War”:

The $10 billion, 1,500km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey….would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey… The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would have given the Sunni Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. ….

In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally….

Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Mid-East and the world…

Naturally, the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and Americans were furious at Assad, but what could they do? How could they prevent him from choosing his own business partners and using his own sovereign territory to transport gas to market?

What they could do is what any good Mafia Don would do; break a few legs and steal whatever he wanted. In this particular situation, Washington and its scheming allies decided to launch a clandestine proxy-war against Damascus, kill or depose Assad, and make damn sure the western oil giants nabbed the future pipeline contracts and controlled the flow of energy to Europe. That was the plan at least. Here’s more from Kennedy:

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.

Repeat: “the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline”, he signed his own death warrant. That single act was the catalyst for the US aggression that transformed a bustling, five thousand-year old civilization into a desolate Falluja-like moonscape overflowing with homicidal fanatics that were recruited, groomed and deployed by the various allied intelligence agencies.

But what’s particularly interesting about this story is that the US attempted a nearly-identical plan 60 years earlier during the Eisenhower administration. Here’s another clip from the Kennedy piece:

During the 1950′s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers … mounted a clandestine war against Arab Nationalism — which CIA Director Allan Dulles equated with communism — particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies which they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism….

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 — barely a year after the agency’s creation…. Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. (so)… the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime…..

(CIA agent Rocky) Stone arrived in Damascus in April 1956 with $3 million in Syrian pounds to arm and incite Islamic militants and to bribe Syrian military officers and politicians to overthrow al-Kuwaiti’s democratically elected secularist regime….

But all that CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy taking Stone prisoner. Following harsh interrogation, Stone made a televised confession to his roles in the Iranian coup and the CIA’s aborted attempt to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government….(Then) Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed them for treason. (Politico)

See how history is repeating itself? It’s like the CIA was too lazy to even write a new script, they just dusted off the old one and hired new actors.

Fortunately, Assad –with the help of Iran, Hezbollah and the Russian Airforce– has fended off the effort to oust him and install a US-stooge. This should not be taken as a ringing endorsement of Assad as a leader, but of the principal that global security depends on basic protections of national sovereignty, and that the cornerstone of international law has to be a rejection of unprovoked aggression whether the hostilities are executed by one’s own military or by armed proxies that are used to achieve the same strategic objectives while invoking  plausible deniability. The fact is, there is no difference between Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Obama’s invasion of Syria. The moral, ethical and legal issues are the same, the only difference is that Obama has been more successful in confusing the American people about what is really going on.

And what’s going on is regime change: “Assad must go”. That’s been the administration’s mantra from the get go. Obama and Co are trying to overthrow a democratically-elected secular regime that refuses to bow to Washington’s demands to provide access to pipeline corridors that will further strengthen US dominance in the region.  That’s what’s really going on behind the ISIS distraction and the “Assad is a brutal dictator” distraction and the “war-weary civilians in Aleppo” distraction. Washington doesn’t care about any of those things. What Washington cares about is oil, power and money. How can anyone be confused about that by now?  Kennedy summed it up like this:

We must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mid-East for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible.

That says it all, don’t you think?

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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The fate of Frieder Wagner is a peculiar example of what happens when you stand up to the establishment’s injustice. A notable director who won the prestigious German Grimme Award, responsible for numerous documentaries for the ARD and ZDF channels, he quickly became a pariah after making a movie called Deadly Dust (Todesstaub) about the use of depleted uranium (DU) shells by NATO forces in the Middle East and in the former Yugoslavia.

In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, Wagner explained that Deadly Dust is based on an earlier documentary called The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children (Der Arzt und die verstrahlten Kinder von Basra) that he filmed for WDR. In April 2004 the movie was screened during the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But even though that autumn it received the ÖkoMedia award, it was never screened again. And no matter what ideas he came up with, the TV channels that he previously worked with stopped sending him new orders for some reason.

“I contacted a head of the WDR editorial office whom I’d worked with before and asked him what happened. He paused for a second and then told me “The WDR editorial office considers you a ‘difficult’ person. And most importantly, the topics you suggest are especially hard. Right now I’ve got nothing more to tell you”,” Wagner explained.

He added that about a year ago he met with Siegesmund von Ilsemann, an editor at Spiegel magazine who wrote a comprehensive report about the ‘deadly dust’ and its effects, and who revealed to the astonished director that the use of depleted uranium by the military literally became a taboo subject in Germany.

“He told me that the issue of DU munitions use and its consequences became taboo in Germany. And no TV channel or newspaper would allow even him – a person who worked on this subject for a long time – to publish anything related to it,” Wagner added.

DU shells are made of byproducts of uranium enrichment. Their superior armor-piercing capabilities make them a potent anti-tank weapon, especially considering that when an armored vehicle gets hit by such a shell, the impact and subsequent release of heat energy causes it to ignite, incinerating the target’s interior. But it’s the ‘deadly dust’ produced by a DU shell detonation that is probably the most insidious aspect of this type of ordnance.

“At such a high temperature the substance – depleted uranium – burns down to nano-particles, each of them a hundred times smaller than a red blood cell. And due to their extremely small size, these particles ‘travel’ through a human body, infiltrating brain, lungs, kidneys, placenta, bloodstream and even sperm and egg cells which causes severe developmental diseases in newborns,” Wagner said.

According to him, US forces actively used DU munitions in Kosovo, Somalia, Libya and during both Iraqi campaigns, not to mention that they keep using them in Afghanistan up to this day.

“I’ve travelled to Iraq and Kosovo myself. We collected soil, water and tissue samples. All tissue samples contained depleted uranium particles, and even worse, they contained the so called uranium-236 which can only be produced artificially,” he said.

He also pointed out that the families of 16 out of 109 Italian soldiers who died of cancer sued the Italian government. During the trials, which the plaintiffs won, it was established that the fatal disease in all cases was caused by the use of DU munitions in Iraq and Kosovo.

And yet, much to Wagner’s surprise, no global wave of outrage spearheaded by the UN, Amnesty International and similar organizations took place over these developments.

“It should’ve happened a long time ago. In 2001 in Germany and in many other European nations the press wrote a lot about the first deaths among the Spanish and Portuguese soldiers in Kosovo. The then-Defense Minister of Germany Rudolf Scharping nearly lost his position. But then NATO and the UN decreed that this topic must be removed from the media – and they succeeded,” Wagner surmised.

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US Renews Sanctions and Keeps Blockade on Cuba

September 16th, 2016 by Telesur

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed on Tuesday for another year the Trading with the Enemy Act, extending the economic blockade originally imposed on Cuba more than 50 years ago.

“I hereby determine that the continuation for one year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States,” Obama said in a statement.

The restrictions will remain in effect until Sept. 14, 2017.

In Dec. 2014, Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of hostilities. The two countries reopened their respective embassies in July 2015, but the blockade remains in effect.

The law maintains the economic embargo on the island, which ultimately can only be lifted by the U.S. Congress.

President John F. Kennedy first imposed the economic blockade against Cuba in 1962. It has since been renewed every year by the following nine presidents.

Cuba presented a report last week that claims the U.S. blockade on the island nation has cost it US$4.7 billion over the last year and US$753.7 billion over the last six decades.

Last year the U.N. General Assembly voted 191-2 to condemn the U.S. blockade of Cuba, with only the U.S. and Israel opposed.

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Has Netflix revealed itself to be another deep state conscript? The recent Syria White Helmet promotional movie has caused uproar among people awakened to the US, UK state and intelligence agency involvement in this pseudo ‘first responder’ faux NGO outfit that has infiltrated Syria on behalf of its funders and donors based in the US and NATO neocolonialist “regime change” command centres.

Funded to the tune of over $60 million by the US, UK and EU member states, these mercenaries in beige clothing have a base of operations in Turkey, but appear to operate exclusively in terrorist-held zones in Syria, and can also be seen running ‘mop-up’ operations for Al Nusra Front and other terrorist fighting groups.

For a further reading on the White Helmets and their role in the Dirty War on Syria read 21st Century Wire’s comprehensive compilation of the most important investigations into NATO’s latest fifth column creation: Who are the Syria White Helmets

The ‘White Helmets’ documentary premiered today at the Toronto International Film Festival, and on Netflix streaming website.

The following are a few examples of the comments being left on the Netflix trailer for their White Helmets “documentary” trailer:

Dear Netflix:

STOP SUPPORTING TERRORISTS. The so called White Helmets are a transparent construct of NATO to take over Syria by stealth in the guise of “do gooders”. NO serious journalists who have been to Syria believe they are doing what this film suggests. Only journalists too lazy to think for themselves believe this. NO locals in Syria have seen these white Helmets in their white helmets – except when their very expensive cameras turn up to film them for propaganda.

And shame on any news outlet who has bought any of that footage and bought their story hook line and sinker without investigating their known connections to Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.Syrian men trying to really save children are hindered from doing so by inhumane sanctions and by the White Helmets blocking roads and villages. Local heroes have no supplies, they do not have a 90 million pound budget to get food, and first aid or digging equipment, yet nobody makes a film about these people… the real Syrian people.

Local people say these are mercenaries who wear ordinary clothes, are not Syrian, and are committing atrocities and keeping food and supplies from reaching cities and villages. Paid terrorists loaded with weapons and supplies and a 90 million pound budget from EU and NATO countries who have an obsession with illegally deposing an honestly elected president of a nation state. It is another way to take over a regime…  without using bombs..  by stealth, this is a Trojan Horse and these men are not heroes at all but murderers and thieves. ASK THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA. GO TO SYRIA and see for yourself. Do not just use footage made by terrorists and spread it all over the world when it is the opposite of the truth.

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Image creation: Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

“Pure propaganda.”

“In Aleppo, the most important thing to remember is that all life is precious”. So precious that the White Helmets are ready to take the dead bodies away after Al-Qaeda executes them, while the camera is still rolling!!”

“When the saint go marching in”, White Helmets are not saints, they are terrorists. When not in front of a camera, they take off their white helmets and strap on their guns.”

The white helmets are a media blitz project created by the US & UK in which they received monies from the state department & billionaires who made their fortune in the oil and gas industry.

21WIRE will be bringing you more detailed reports on the funding of the Netflix operation and of course further information on the REAL Syria Civil Defence that journalist Vanessa Beeley has recently met with and interviewed in Syria – in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and the Head Quarters in Damascus.

Here is an excellent alternative to the Netflix official trailer made by Steve Ezzeddine forHands Off Syria, Sydney. Watch:

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Suspending a course in the middle of a semester is one of the most serious actions a university can take. On Sept. 13, Dean Carla Hesse of the University of California at Berkeley did exactly that to a student-taught DeCal class about Palestine.

DeCal stands for Democratic Education at Cal, an old-fashioned tradition where undergraduate students teach 1 or 2 unit courses, pass/fail, to their peers. The instructors, called facilitators, plan their own courses, which must be approved by a faculty committee and the chair of a department.

In a statement, Paul Hadweh, the student facilitator, declared:

I complied with all policies and procedures required for creating the course. The course was vetted and fully supported by the faculty advisor, the department chair, and the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI).

The university suspended the course without consulting me, the faculty sponsor, the chair of the department, or the Academic Senate’s COCI, which is responsible for approving all UC Berkeley Courses. The university did not contact us to discuss concerns prior to suspending our course.

Universities should never suspend courses in the middle of a semester except under the most dire circumstances, where a course has been proven to violate university policies and cannot be fixed, or some kind of extraordinary fraud has occurred.

Nothing like that exists in this case. In fact, nothing like that has even been alleged by the administration, which relies upon bureaucratic snafus to justify suspending this course.

On Sept. 14, UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof wrote to me that “The administration was first made aware of this issue last week when students, faculty and staff noticed posters for the course and expressed concern about the syllabus and, among other things, its compliance with Regents policy.”

InsideHigherEd likewise reported:

However, the public clamor was not the tipping point for Hesse’s decision, Mogulof said. She began her inquiries into the course last week, after a colleague raised concerns about the course to the dean internally. This occurred before public criticism began.

But it was two weeks ago, on Sept. 1, that Mogulof was quoted in a Jewish newspaper responding to concerns about the course from critics.

(UPDATE: Mogulof reports that his original timeline reported in the press was inaccurate, and that the administration first heard about the course on Aug. 26 from a faculty member. But this raises still more questions about a course that began on Sept. 6. If there were legitimate academic concerns about the syllabus, why not contact the instructor about them? Why wait 19 days and then suddenly ban the course? Hesse’s whole complaint is that the failure to deposit a copy of syllabus with her office deprived her of the opportunity to examine it for problems. Now we find out that she had 11 days before the course started to examine the syllabus and she did nothing.)

The administration seems anxious to claim that their decision was made in reaction to the concerns of students, faculty, and staff on campus. But the truth is that Berkeley faced a global onslaught of organizations attacking them for allowing this course. In a letter to Chancellor Dirks on Sept. 13, 43 Jewish, civil rights and education advocacy organizations declared that the class was “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it:”

But interestingly, even these organizations did not call for suspending the course; they were solely focused on preventing a similar course from being approved in the future.

By this point, though, Hasse appeared to have a plan to save Berkeley from the bad publicity and put the blame on the student who proposed the course for failing to follow proper procedures. A few hours later on Sept. 13, she emailed the instructor and the faculty who approved the course, informing them that she had suspended the course. It was the first time she had contacted the student instructor.

Berkeley was quick to alert the press about the news, and to blame the student instructor.

Chancellor Dirks’ office emailed critics on Sept. 13:

It has been determined that the facilitator for the course in question did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the Decal program.

The San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 13 reported:

The campus letter says the student teaching the course “did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review.” A spokesman for Dirks said the student did not show his course proposal to the dean of the College of Letters and Sciences, Carla Hesse, as required.

Almost the same exact explanation was given to InsideHigherEd in its Sept. 14 story:

The university suspended the course because its proposal was never submitted to Dean Carla Hesse of the College of Letters and Sciences, said Dan Mogulof, executive director for communications and public affairs at Berkeley.

Although the dean is not required to approve the course, students must still send her a copy of the proposal. That way, she can review the course and speak to colleagues or the department chair — who is required to sign off on the course — before it is taught.

“When the dean was made aware of the course, she had serious concerns,” Mogulof said. “And she was surprised because she had not previously heard about it.”

But there was a big problem I uncovered. The DeCal website explicitly states that the Dean of Letters & Science does not need to get a copy: “Note that DeCals in the College of Letters & Science no longer need to submit a copy of their proposals to the Dean starting Fall 2014.” (UPDATE: Dean Hesse explained in an email that apparently the head of the Undergraduate Studies made this decision in 2014 without informing the other division heads in Letters & Science or the Dean of Letters & Science.)

When I contacted the Berkeley administration, Dan Mogulof got back to me with a new explanation:

The Executive Dean of Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science was never informed of any change in the review policy for Decal courses, and would not have approved of any change that would withhold information about course proposals from the Dean’s office. In addition, it has also been determined that a department chair with the authority to grant approval for courses in the fall did not review and approve this course. The existing policy of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses and Instruction explicitly states that the relevant department chair or the Dean must approve new courses, and that “a copy of the approved proposal form” must also be provided to the Dean. Neither of these steps were completed in this instance.

This is incorrect. What Mogulof calls a “policy” is actually a “Department Chair Checklist for Student-Facilitated 98 and 198 Courses.” It includes three sections: the first two involve verifying the substance of the course, while the “next steps” at the end are bureaucratic procedures. This checklist refers to providing copies of the “approved proposal” to various people, including the dean. This wording would indicate that the faculty, not the dean, make the decision to approve a course, which is how it should be. If the dean doesn’t have the power to approve courses, then she doesn’t have the power to suspend courses, even if she isn’t given a copy because that’s exactly what the DeCal program website says to do.

It’s notable that no Berkeley policy gives Dean Hesse the authority to suspend a course. According to Mogulof, “The course was suspended as per the Dean’s assessment of how best to handle a situation where rules and policies were not adhered to.” This is extremely alarming: the Dean asserts that if “rules and policies” are not followed, the Dean can arbitrarily suspend a class, without a hearing.

After trying to blame the suspension on the student facilitator’s failure to follow proper procedures, it is now clear that the student (and the faculty) followed the written procedures. It would be terrible to ban a class over an innocent bureaucratic error. It is far worse when there was no error at all, and the student and faculty (who are the ones responsible for informing a dean) had no way of knowing that a dean had to be informed when the official university website for the DeCal courses said precisely the contrary.

Now the administration has quickly invented a new explanation to justify why the course must be suspended. According to Mogulof: “there was an acting chair over the summer who did not have the authority to approve courses for the fall.”

Since an acting chair is normally acting as the chair, it would be very strange to say that the acting chair lacks the power of a chair to approve DeCal courses. I asked Mogulof if there is any written policy that says acting chairs cannot approve DeCal courses, and how DeCal courses would get approved in a department if no one has the authority to do it, but he hasn’t responded to those questions yet.

All of these procedural excuses cannot possibly justify suspending the Palestine class. But is there a substantive reason for objecting to the course? No.

The Regents Policy on Course Content denounces “Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination…” The Regents Policy on Course Content is a terrible policy because a ban on “political indoctrination” is so vague and ill-defined, and can be abused to punish controversial political opinions. But it has no relevance to this controversy because political indoctrination cannot be determined solely by looking at a syllabus.

There appear to have been no complaints about the course by students enrolled in it, and no one in the administration attended the class.

Although a syllabus can reveal some indications of bias, it is almost impossible to conclude that a course is “political indoctrination” without evidence from the way that it is taught. Even a syllabus with one-sided readings can be taught without political indoctrination, if the instructor is open to encouraging dissenting viewpoints.

Nor is the course a violation of the Regents Policy against intolerance “in which dissenting viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged.” Actually, this policy is being violated by the Berkeley Administration in its efforts to ban this class.

The policy goes on to declare: “Freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry are paramount in a public research university and form the bedrock on which our mission of discovery is founded. The University will vigorously defend the principles of the First Amendment and academic freedom against any efforts to subvert or abridge them.”

Yet the Berkeley administration is demanding changes to the content of the course already approved by faculty.

Hadweh reported that at a meeting on Sept. 13, Dean Hesse told him three things he needed to do to have her reconsider her decision and approve the course, although approval was not guaranteed even if he did them.

First, she said that he would need to “prove that it’s balanced” because she felt it was “unbalanced.” Second, he reported that she said it was “seeking to politically mobilize students” and that was not allowed. Third, he reported that he would need to justify having the class as Ethnic Studies rather than Near East Studies or Global Studies.

There is no requirement that classes at Berkeley (or anywhere else) are “balanced,” nor should there be such a requirement for such a vague goal. There is no requirement that classes at Berkeley cannot seek to politically mobilize students (although there’s no evidence this class did that). And it is bizarre to challenge the particular department approving the course, especially since that has nothing to do with the course.

According to Berkeley’s website, Hesse’s expertise is “Early Modern Europe; 16th-20th century France; European Intellectual History, 17th-20th century.” Her books are The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern and Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1810. She appears to have no scholarly expertise at all about Israel and Palestine. So it is strange that Hesse would evaluate a syllabus and order changes without any input from the faculty involved, after suspending it without any input from the faculty involved.

The InsideHigherEd article reported:

The dean will now work with the Berkeley Academic Senate to review the course and examine whether it meets the university’s academic standards. The review process will also determine whether it complies with Berkeley’s intolerance policy, which was revised in March to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

But rather than consulting with faculty, Hesse is demanding changes to fit her personal beliefs. Yet none of these changes required reflect anything that would justify suspending the course. If Hesse wanted to encourage him to alter and improve the class, she was free to do that without suspending the class. If Hesse wanted to publicly denounce the class, she was free to do that. Instead, Hesse abused her authority to ban a class without due process and without any sound justification.

Once a course has been approved and is underway, a heavy burden must be on the administration to prove that there is something fundamentally wrong with it, so completely wrong that it must be immediately halted without further review. Berkeley has not met this high standard; in fact, it has not even attempted to try to meet this standard, and does not even allege that this standard has been violated.

It is absolutely shocking that a university would ban a course under political pressure, using the violation of bureaucratic procedures as an excuse for its censorship. It is even more shocking because there was no violation of bureaucratic procedures.

If there was a breakdown in bureaucratic procedures (and there is no evidence of it), then it is the obligation of the university to fix those procedures in the future, not to ban a course and punish a facilitator and his students who reasonably followed every written rule.

This decision sends a clear message to the campus: controversial speech will be punished, especially if it is critical of Israel.

This course suspension is absolutely indefensible, completely unacceptable, and purely motivated by politics and public relations. It is a violation of academic freedom, shared governance, UC-Berkeley’s guidelines, the Regents Policies, and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

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“Since the founding of this nation, the United States’ relationship with the Indian tribes has been contentious and tragic. America’s expansionist impulse in its formative years led to the removal and relocation of many tribes, often by treaty but also by force.” Cobell v. Norton, 240 F.3d 1081, 1086 (D.C. Cir. 2001). This case also features what an American Indian tribe believes is an unlawful encroachment on its heritage. More specifically, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has sued the United States Army Corps of Engineers to block the operation of Corps permitting for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). – (opening paragraph of STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE, et al., v. U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, et al., Civil Action #16-1534 (JEB))

After seeming to quote sympathetically another judge’s oblique acknowledgement of historic injustice (above), a U.S. District Judge went on to issue an opinion perpetuating that injustice, as required by law. On September 9, 2016, Judge James E. (“Jeb”) Boasberg issued his order based on his self-described cursory review of the record (“digging through a substantial record on an expedited basis” [emphasis added]). This cursory review is again acknowledged in the judge’s conclusion that “the Corps has likely complied with the NHPA [National Historic Preservation Act] and that the Tribe has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue.” The judge took 58 pages to justify his ruling on a likelihood rather than a finding of fact, which was not easily found given the spotty state of the evidence. Judge Boasberg’s lengthy exposition of the case is filled with surmises and, as a whole, suggests that few, if any, of the participants have consistently acted in good faith.

Judge Boasberg’s decision, to deny an injunction halting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), appears reasonable enough on its face since the pipeline is already about half built (on private land) and the Standing Rock Sioux made no specific representations of culturally significant sites that would be irreparably damaged in the absence of an injunction, at least according to the judge, who wrote: “These people created stone alignments, burial cairns, and other rock features throughout the area to conduct important spiritual rituals related to the rhythms of their daily life. Along the region’s waterways in particular, the prevalence of these artifacts reflects water’s sacred role in their deeply held spiritual beliefs.” His decision to discount these non-specific monuments (“at least 350”) was more of apsychological defeat than a legal one for the tribe, since the Standing Rock Sioux had, from the beginning, wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to treat the entire pipeline as a single project. The Corps insisted that its legal jurisdiction applied only to unconnected bits and pieces totaling about 12 miles along the route of the 1,172-mile pipeline. Although Congress has regulated natural gas pipelines, it has passed no law putting oil pipelines under federal jurisdiction, even when a pipeline, like DAPL, passes through several states.

U.S. Justice Dept. plays both sides of pipeline issue

Whatever impact Judge Boasberg’s ruling had didn’t last long. Apparently the U.S. Justice Dept., having represented the Corps of Engineers in the Standing Rock Sioux case, had anticipated Judge Boasberg’s decision. And the Justice Dept. also apparently had mixed feelings about the likely decision, having prepared to render it moot if the injunction was denied. Within minutes of the judge’s ruling, the Justice Dept. issued a joint statement that began:

We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps….

The first step was effectively to impose a non-injunction injunction that halts construction on at least some of the contested areas where the pipeline approaches or encroaches on waterways. For now, the Corps of Engineers will withhold the permits necessary for construction to continue, pending the resolution of cultural site issues along the pipeline as well as the larger issue of how the U.S. relates to the supposedly sovereign tribal governments. This three-agency federal intervention has all the look of an attempt at political de-escalation of a situation threatening to get out of hand. Starting in April 2016 and increasing at the end of summer, thousands of Native Americans from a number of tribes across the country have gathered near Lake Oahe as “protectors of the waters,” using nonviolent direct action techniques to block pipeline construction. Both the pipeline company and the state of North Dakota have responded with force and violence, as well as apparently illegal violations of the protesters’ rights. As the Justice Dept. statement of September 9 put it:

… we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.

Despite the reasonable rhetoric, the only action proposed by the Justice Dept. is to “invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations.” This is an ancient paradigm that has rarely turned out well for the tribes. The Justice Dept. agenda for the consultations has just two items: (1) “to better insure tribal input” into decisions affecting tribal lands and rights “within the existing statutory framework,” and (2) to consider proposing new legislation to Congress. Implicitly, the first point contradicts Judge Boasberg’s conclusion that the Corps of Engineers “likely” complied with the law. But what the Justice Dept. proposes will take a long time to reach any satisfactory solution, if it ever does. This is in direct opposition to pressures on the ground, where the white population (roughly 90% of North Dakota) is restive and the owner of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, faces a contractual obligation to start delivering oil in early 2017. There is no middle ground here.

Once again, it’s the American empire versus interfering outsiders

Energy Transfer Partners represents the tip of the corporate oligarchy that has no profitable stake in alleviating climate change. The international banks (38 of them according to Bloomberg) that have put up more than $10 billion for DAPL and other oil projects are, in reality, underwriting the burning of more and worse fossil fuels as far as the planet is concerned. Mainstream media coverage, when it exists, typically focuses on protest and confrontation over the local water issue, without meaningful context and without going deeper into underlying issues. For detailed coverage of both events on the ground and wider context, Democracy NOW has been covering the story in depth since early August, as tensions were building.

On July 25, 2016, the Corps of Engineers issued an environmental assessment that found that the pipeline would have “no significant impact” on the tribe’s burial grounds or other cultural landmarks. The Corps also instituted a “Tribal Monitoring Plan,” under which DAPL was required to notify the tribes when working on sensitive areas so that the tribe could monitor the work. This was roughly seven years since work began on the pipeline, by which time almost half the pipeline had already been built without monitoring.

On August 4, the tribe filed for an injunction to stop work on the pipeline. Judge Boasberg held a hearing on the motion on August 24, promising a decision on September 9. The judge noted that 90% of the clearing and grading, the work most damaging to tribal sites, had been completed in North Dakota. He added: “One of the few exceptions is the crossing leading up to the west side of Lake Oahe, which has not yet been cleared or graded.”

On September 2, the tribes filed a supplemental declaration with Judge Boasberg, identifying a number of cultural sites both within and near the pipeline route, areas that had been untouched by construction. The following day, Saturday, September 3, DAPL bulldozers moved in and plowed up the area, without regard for any tribal sites in their way. To get this done, DAPL brought in private security forces from out of state. Local and state law enforcement withdrew and watched, or went away. Caught by surprise, tribal protesters belatedly but peacefully swarmed the site to stop the bulldozers. There they were met by aggressive private security forces who used dogs and pepper spray, as well as personal violence, to hold protestors at bay while the bulldozers finished their work. An unknown number of protestors were hit, shoved, pepper sprayed, maced, bitten by dogs, and otherwise attacked by DAPL workers and security. And the state of North Dakota responded by issuing a warrant for the arrest of journalist Amy Goodmanfor criminal trespass.

In his ruling a week later, Judge Boasberg covered this event in a single sentence: “The next day, on Saturday, September 3, Dakota Access graded this area.” In the same section, Judge Boasberg went to much greater lengths to minimize the findings of previously unidentified cultural sites. He also conflated them with others that were not in areas that needed permits. His writing sounds like a brief for the pipeline, showing not the slightest displeasure with DAPL’s actions. Another judge, faced with pre-emptive bulldozing of property in active litigation might have had a word or more to say about actions in contempt of court.

Tribal suffering makes a great panopticon for shows of caring

Later in his decision, where he finds that the tribe will suffer no irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction, Judge Boasberg wrote without apparent irony of “the likelihood that DAPL’s ongoing construction activities – specifically, grading and clearing of land – might damage or destroy sites of great cultural or historical significance to the Tribe.” The judge does not consider whether this is exactly what happened on September 3. Instead, in a growing fog of mock respect, the judge quotes the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council chairman, Dave Archambault II:

History connects the dots of our identity, and our identity was all but obliterated. Our land was taken, our language was forbidden. Our stories, our history, were almost forgotten. What land, language, and identity remains is derived from our cultural and historic sites…. Sites of cultural and historic significance are important to us because they are a spiritual connection to our ancestors. Even if we do not have access to all such sites, their existence perpetuates the connection. When such a site is destroyed, the connection is lost.”

With breath-taking sanctimony, the judge then ignores not only the future possibility of irreparable harm from DAPL construction, but also the actual irreparable harm of September 3 as well. Judge Boasberg writes: “The tragic history of the Great Sioux Nation’s repeated dispossessions at the hands of a hungry and expanding early America is well known. The threat that new injury will compound old necessarily compels great caution and respect from this Court in considering the Tribe’s plea for intervention.” Whereupon the judge exercised no caution whatsoever, denied the request for an injunction, and left the tribe at the mercy of the pipeline company (until the Justice Dept. intervened). In his order, the judge then justified his choice with an argument of inevitability as to the destruction of tribal sacred sites: “any such harms are destined to ensue whether or not the Court grants the injunction the Tribe desires.” [emphasis added] But later the judge admitted that “there may be many sites that … the Court has missed.”

Judge Boasberg, whatever his personal qualities, appears here as an agent of the state, a state that has been hostile for centuries to those who lived here before. Despite his lip service to Native American suffering, Judge Boasberg is little different in cultural representation from Jack Schaaf, 60, the white, angry, North Dakota rancher who is mad at the tribes for legally trying to defend their rights, as reported inthe New York Times September 13, showing no awareness of self-contradiction:

Mr. Schaaf said he had no problem with people standing up for a cause, but he was tired of navigating a police checkpoint if he wanted to drive into Mandan for a pizza. He complained that closings at Lake Oahe had prevented him from boating. And he said the protesters had no right to march on a public highway. “I think it’s totally wrong,” he said. “If they want to protest, they should be in the ditch.”

This, like Judge Boasberg, is the voice of the conqueror whose denial of who he is requires him to deny the conquered their rights. This is class war and race war. This is the power to attack the living and disturb the dead without remorse, without hesitation, without even awareness. This is the continuity of American genocide that underlies everything America says it wants to stand for. This is the bedrock of American entitlement. This is entitlement that sees no contradiction in denying some of the public access to public roads. This is entitlement that enables law officers to lie about pipe bomb threats when tribal leaders talk about loading up their peace pipes. This is entitlement that shows itself in the actions of a pipeline company that, while waiting for a judge to rule on the protection of a burial ground, sends in its goons and bulldozers to rape the land and then argue that there’s no burial ground left to protect. It’s like the boy who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.

Entitlement that robs a grave for a skull to use in ritual kissing

This is the deeply pathological American entitlement that has no difficulty sharing blankets laced with smallpox, no difficulty wiping out men, women, and children at Sand Creek or Ludlow, Colorado, no difficulty slaughtering guards and prisoners at Attica, and no difficulty waging war crimes in countries sorely in need of disentitlement, at least in American eyes.

And strangely enough, Judge Boasberg has been beautifully cast by fate as the embodiment of the American pathology as it attacks the tribes once more. Jeb Boasberg is a child of American privilege. From St. Albans School to Yale to Oxford to Yale Law School and on up the federal judicial ladder, there is nothing apparent in his published life story that prepares him even to understand tribal realities, much less deal fairly or compassionately with them.

Judging by Jeb Boasberg’s answers to the U.S. Senate before being confirmed for his next federal judgeship, he is the antithesis of an activist judge. He had no objection to mandatory sentencing. He wrote: “I have not presided over cases in which my desired outcome was contrary to the law.” He answered that he does not consider his own personal values (unstated) relevant. With regard to the right to bear arms and to the death penalty, he said he would follow current law as determined by the Supreme Court. He said he does not believe the U.S. Constitution is a living document that can evolve with society. He said a federal judge must do as the Supreme Court says. He said more, much of it repetitive, none of it suggesting any inclination to deviate purposely from current legal doctrine, whatever it might be.

These answers create an impression of a legal automaton, insofar as it’s possible for a human to be robotic. Judge Boasberg portrays himself as a man who only follows orders. He does not bring up the way “only following orders” runs against the Geneva Conventions (but he is not a soldier being ordered by judicial authority to make fundamental moral choices, the same choices he flees from). Asked for his view of “the role of a judge,” he answered: “A judge should fairly and impartially uphold the law as it is written and apply it to the cases that appear before him or her.” With perfect consistency, he does not address the problem of how to uphold the law fairly when the law itself is unfair (a longstanding, common problem with American law).

The ruling class does as the ruling class does

The ruling class writes the law and the ruling class is not concerned with the law’s fairness to others than themselves. Jeb Boasberg, when he was at Yale College, was a member of a secret society of the ruling class, Skull and Bones (familiarly known as “Bones”), founded in 1832 by William H. Russell, heir to an opium-trade fortune. A great many of its members have served the American empire, especially in the CIA. Bonesmen as President include William Howard Taft and both Bushes (and their father/grandfather Prescott Bush). Other Bones alumni include William F. Buckley, William Sloane Coffin, Averill Harriman, Lewis Lapham, Henry Luce, and Secretary of State John Kerry among a long list of other notables.

Judge Boasberg’s deference to law, to government agencies, to oil pipeline companies is all consistent with his membership in a ruling class club. What is especially neat about this club is that, by credible legend, it has long been directly involved in Native American grave desecration. As the story goes, Prescott Bush was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1918. The Apache warrior Geronimo had died at Fort Sill in 1909. Bush and fellow Bonesmen dug him up and brought his skull and other bits back to the Tomb, the New Haven home of Skull and Bones. A lawsuit in 2009, seeking the return of Geronimo’s skull to his heirs, ended in dismissal by a federal judge before the truth of the skull could be established. The judge ruled that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, under which the suit was filed, did not protect any graves desecrated before 1990, when the law was passed. That let Skull and Bones off the hook. And left Geronimo in limbo, or New Haven.

Assume the legend is literally true: then, as a Yale senior joining Skull and Bones, Jeb Boasberg kissed Geronimo’s skull. Metaphorically, that act of atavistic triumphalism shines through in his legal decision against the Standing Rock Sioux. Kissing the skull of an enemy is just another way of showing who’s in control here, whose burial is sacred, and whose is not.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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The Existential Madness of Putin-Bashing

September 16th, 2016 by Robert Parry

Official Washington loves its Putin-bashing but demonizing the Russian leader stops a rational debate about U.S.-Russia relations and pushes the two nuclear powers toward an existential brink, writes Robert Parry.

Arguably, the nuttiest neoconservative idea – among a long list of nutty ideas – has been to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia by weakening its economy, isolating it from Europe, pushing NATO up to its borders, demonizing its leadership, and sponsoring anti-government political activists inside Russia to promote “regime change.”

This breathtakingly dangerous strategy has been formulated and implemented with little serious debate inside the United States as the major mainstream news media and the neocons’ liberal-interventionist sidekicks have fallen in line much as they did during the run-up to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Except with Russia, the risks are even greater – conceivably, a nuclear war that could exterminate life on the planet. Yet, despite those stakes, there has been a cavalier – even goofy – attitude in the U.S. political/media mainstream about undertaking this new “regime change” project aimed at Moscow.There is also little appreciation of how lucky the world was when the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 without some Russian extremists seizing control of the nuclear codes and taking humanity to the brink of extinction. Back then, there was a mix of luck and restrained leadership, especially on the Soviet side.

Plus, there were at least verbal assurances from George H.W. Bush’s administration that the Soviet retreat from East Germany and Eastern Europe would not be exploited by NATO and that a new era of cooperation with the West could follow the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Instead, the United States dispatched financial “experts” – many from Harvard Business School – who arrived in Moscow with neoliberal plans for “shock therapy” to “privatize” Russia’s resources, which turned a handful of corrupt insiders into powerful billionaires, known as “oligarchs,” and the “Harvard Boys” into well-rewarded consultants.

But the result for the average Russian was horrific as the population experienced a drop in life expectancy unprecedented in a country not at war. While a Russian could expect to live to be almost 70 in the mid-1980s, that expectation had dropped to less than 65 by the mid-1990s.

The “Harvard Boys” were living the high-life with beautiful women, caviar and champagne in the lavish enclaves of Moscow – as the U.S.-favored President Boris Yeltsin drank himself into stupors – but there were reports of starvation in villages in the Russian heartland and organized crime murdered people on the street with near impunity.

Meanwhile, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush cast aside any restraint regarding Russia’s national pride and historic fears by expanding NATO across Eastern Europe, including the incorporation of former Soviet republics.

In the 1990s, the “triumphalist” neocons formulated a doctrine for permanent U.S. global dominance with their thinking reaching its most belligerent form during George W. Bush’s presidency, which asserted the virtually unlimited right for the United States to intervene militarily anywhere in the world regardless of international law and treaties.

How Despair Led to Putin

Without recognizing the desperation and despair of the Russian people during the Yeltsin era — and the soaring American arrogance in the 1990s — it is hard to comprehend the political rise and enduring popularity of Vladimir Putin, who became president after Yeltsin abruptly resigned on New Year’s Eve 1999. (In declining health, Yeltsin died on April 23, 2007).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Putin, a former KGB officer with a strong devotion to his native land, began to put Russia’s house back in order. Though he collaborated with some oligarchs, he reined in others by putting them in jail for corruption or forcing them into exile.

Putin cracked down on crime and terrorism, often employing harsh means to restore order, including smashing Islamist rebels seeking to take Chechnya out of the Russian Federation.

Gradually, Russia regained its economic footing and the condition of the average Russian improved. By 2012, Russian life expectancy had rebounded to more than 70 years. Putin also won praise from many Russians for reestablishing the country’s national pride and reasserting its position on the world stage.

Though a resurgent Russia created friction with the neocon designs for permanent U.S. world domination, Putin represented a side of Russian politics that favored cooperation with the West. He particularly hoped that he could work closely with President Barack Obama, who likewise indicated his desire to team up with Russia to make progress on thorny international issues.

In 2012, Obama was overheard on an open mike telling Putin’s close political ally, then-President Dmitri Medvedev, that “after my election, I have more flexibility,” suggesting greater cooperation with Russia. (Because of the Russian constitution barring someone from serving more than two consecutive terms as president, Medvedev, who had been prime minister, essentially swapped jobs with Putin for four years.)

Obama’s promise was not entirely an empty one. His relationship with the Russian leadership warmed as the two powers confronted common concerns over security issues, such as convincing Syria to surrender its chemical-weapons arsenal in 2013 and persuading Iran to accept tight limitations on its nuclear program in 2014.

In an extraordinary op-ed in The New York Times on Sept. 11, 2013, Putin described his relationship with Obama as one of “growing trust” while disagreeing with the notion of “American “exceptionalism.” In the key last section that he supposedly wrote himself, Putin said:

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Offending the Neocons

Though Putin may have thought he was simply contributing to a worthy international debate in the spirit of the U.S. Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” his objection to “American exceptionalism” represented fighting words to America’s neocons.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy

Instead of engaging in mushy multilateral diplomacy, muscular neocons saw America as above the law and lusted for bombing campaigns against Syria and Iran – with the goal of notching two more “regime change” solutions on their belts.

Thus, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist fellow-travelers came to see Putin as a major and unwelcome obstacle to their dreams of permanent U.S. dominance over the planet, which they would promote through what amounted to permanent warfare. (The main distinction between neocons and liberal interventionists is that the former cites “democracy promotion” as its rationale and the latter justifies war under the mantle of “humanitarianism.”)

Barely two weeks after Putin’s op-ed in the Times, a prominent neocon, Carl Gershman, the longtime president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, issued what amounted to a rejoinder in The Washington Post on Sept. 26, 2013.

Gershman’s op-ed made clear that U.S. policy should take aim at Ukraine, a historically and strategically sensitive country on Russia’s doorstep where the Russian nation made a stand against the Tatars in the 1600s and where the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa, the devastating 1941 invasion which killed some 4 million Soviet soldiers and led to some 26 million Soviet dead total.

In the Post, Gershman wrote that “Ukraine is the biggest prize,” but made clear that Putin was the ultimate target: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

To advance this cause, NED alone was funding scores of projects that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ukrainian political activists and media outlets, creating what amounted to a shadow political structure that could help stir up unrest when the Ukrainian government didn’t act as desired, i.e., when elected President Viktor Yanukovych balked at a European economic plan that included cuts in pensions and heat subsidies as demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

When Yanukovych sought more time to negotiate a less onerous deal, U.S.-backed protests swept into Kiev’s Maidan square. Though representing genuine sentiment among many western Ukrainians for increased ties to Europe, neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist street fighters gained control of the uprising and began firebombing police.

A screen shot of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland speaking to U.S. and Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013, at an event sponsored by Chevron, with its logo to Nuland’s left.

A screen shot of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland speaking to U.S. and Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013, at an event sponsored by Chevron, with its logo to Nuland’s left.

Despite the mounting violence, the protests were cheered on by neocon Sen. John McCain, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland, the wife of neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, which was a major promoter of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In a speech to Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013, Nuland reminded them that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.” By early February 2014, in an intercepted phone call, she was discussing with Pyatt who should lead a new government – “Yats is the guy,” she declared referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Nuland and Pyatt continued the conversation with exchanges about how to “glue this thing” or “midwife this thing,” respectively.

A Western-backed Putsch

The violence worsened on Feb. 20, 2014, when mysterious snipers opened fire on police and demonstrators sparking clashes that killed scores, including police officers and protesters. Though later evidence suggested that the shootings were a provocation by the neo-Nazis, the immediate reaction in the mainstream Western media was to blame Yanukovych.

Though Yanukovych agreed to a compromise on Feb. 21 that would reduce his powers and speed up new elections so he could be voted out of office, he was still painted as a tyrannical villain. As neo-Nazi and other rightists chased him and his government from power on Feb. 22, the West hailed the unconstitutional putsch as “legitimate” and a victory for “democracy.”

The coup, however, prompted resistance from ethnic Russian areas of Ukraine, particularly in the east and south. With the aid of Russian troops who were stationed at the Russian naval base in Sevastopol, the Crimeans held a referendum and voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation, a move accepted by Putin and the Kremlin.

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

However, the West’s mainstream media called the referendum a “sham” and Crimea’s secession from Ukraine became Putin’s “invasion” – although the Russian troops were already in Crimea as part of the basing agreement and the referendum, though hastily organized, clearly represented the overwhelming will of the Crimean people, a judgment corroborated by a variety of subsequent polls.

Ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine also rose up against the new regime in Kiev, prompting more accusations in the West about “Russian aggression.” Anyone who raised the possibility that these areas, Yanukovych’s political strongholds, might simply be rejecting what they saw as an illegal political coup in Kiev was dismissed as a “Putin apologist” or a “Moscow stooge.”

While Official Washington and its mainstream media rallied the world in outrage against Putin and Russia, the new authorities in Kiev slipped Nuland’s choice, Yatsenyuk, into the post of prime minister where he pushed through the onerous IMF “reforms,” making the already hard lives of Ukrainians even harder. (The unpopular Yatsenyuk eventually resigned his position.)

Despite the obvious risks of supporting a putsch on Russia’s border, the neocons achieved their political goal of driving a huge wedge between Putin and Obama, whose quiet cooperation had been so troublesome for the neocon plan for violent “regime change” in Syria and Iran.

The successful neocon play in Ukraine also preempted possible U.S.-Russian cooperation in trying to impose an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that would have established a Palestinian state and would have stymied Israel’s plans for gobbling up Palestinian territory by expanding Jewish settlements and creating an apartheid-style future for the indigenous Arabs, confining them to a few cantons surrounded by de facto Israeli territory.

Obama’s timid failure to explain and defend his productive collaboration with Putin enabled the neocons to achieve another goal of making Putin an untouchable, a demonized foreign leader routinely mocked and smeared by the mainstream Western news media. Along with Putin’s demonization, the neocons have sparked a new Cold War that will not only extend today’s “permanent warfare” indefinitely but dramatically increase its budgetary costs with massive new investments in strategic weapons.

Upping the Nuclear Ante

By targeting Putin and Russia, the neocons have upped the ante when it comes to their “regime change” agenda. No longer satisfied with inflicting “regime change” in countries deemed hostile to Israel – Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, etc. – the neocons have raised their sights on Russia.

Billionaire currency speculator George Soros. (Photo credit: georgesoros.com)

Billionaire currency speculator George Soros. (Photo credit: georgesoros.com)

In that devil-may-care approach, the neocons are joined by prominent “liberal interventionists,” such as billionaire currency speculator George Soros, who pulls the strings of many “liberal” organizations that he bankrolls.

In February 2015, Soros laid out his “Russia-regime-change” vision in the liberal New York Review of Books with an alarmist call for Europe “to wake up and recognize that it is under attack from Russia” – despite the fact that it has been NATO encroaching on Russia’s borders, not the other way around.

But Soros’s hysteria amounted to a clarion call to his many dependents among supposedly independent “non-governmental organizations” to take up the goal of destabilizing Russia and driving Putin from office. As a currency speculator, Soros recognizes the value of inflicting economic pain as well as military punishment on a target country.

“The financial crisis in Russia and the body bags [of supposedly Russian soldiers] from Ukraine have made President Putin politically vulnerable,” Soros wrote, urging Europe to keep up the economic pressure on Russia while working to transform Ukraine into an economic/political success story, saying:

…if Europe rose to the challenge and helped Ukraine not only to defend itself but to become a land of promise, Putin could not blame Russia’s troubles on the Western powers. He would be clearly responsible and he would either have to change course or try to stay in power by brutal repression, cowing people into submission. If he fell from power, an economic and political reformer would be likely to succeed him.

But Soros recognized the other possibility: that a Western-driven destabilization of Russia and a failed state in Ukraine could either bolster Putin or lead to his replacement by an extreme Russian nationalist, someone far-harder-line than Putin.

With Ukraine’s continued failure, Soros wrote, “President Putin could convincingly argue that Russia’s problems are due to the hostility of the Western powers. Even if he fell from power, an even more hardline leader like Igor Sechin or a nationalist demagogue would succeed him.”

Yet, Soros fails to appreciate how dangerous his schemes could be to make Russia’s economy scream so loudly that Putin would be swept aside by some political upheaval. As Soros suggests, the Russian people could turn to an extreme nationalist, not to some pliable Western-approved politician.

Protecting Mother Russia

Especially after suffering the depravations of the Yeltsin years, the Russian people might favor an extremist who would take a tough stance against the West and might see brandishing the nuclear arsenal as the only way to protect Mother Russia.

Still, Official Washington can’t get enough of demonizing Putin. A year ago, Obama’s White House – presumably to show how much the President disdains Putin, too – made fun of how Putin sits with his legs apart.White House spokesman Josh Earnest cited a photo of the Russian president sitting next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “President Putin was striking a now-familiar pose of less-than-perfect posture and unbuttoned jacket and, you know, knees spread far apart to convey a particular image,” Earnest said, while ignoring the fact that Netanyahu was sitting with his legs wide apart, too.

Amid this anything-goes Putin-bashing, The New York Times, The Washington Post and now Hillary Clinton’s campaign have escalated their anti-Putin rhetoric, especially since Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has offered some praise of Putin as a “strong” leader.

Despite the barrage of cheap insults emanating from U.S. political and media circles, Putin has remained remarkably cool-headed, refusing the react in kind. Oddly, as much as the American political/media establishment treats Putin as a madman, Official Washington actually counts on his even-temper to avoid a genuine existential crisis for the world.

If Putin were what the U.S. mainstream media and politicians describe – a dangerous lunatic – the endless baiting of Putin would be even more irresponsible. Yet, even with many people privately realizing that Putin is a much more calculating leader than their negative propaganda makes him out to be, there still could be a limit to Putin’s patience.

Or the neocons and liberal hawks might succeed in provoking a violent uprising in Moscow that ousts Putin. However, if that were to happen, the odds – as even Soros acknowledges – might favor a Russian nationalist coming out on top and thus in control of the nuclear codes.

In many ways, it’s not Putin who should worry Americans but the guy that might follow Putin.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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Monsanto and Bayer: Why Food And Agriculture Just Took A Turn For The Worse

By Colin Todhunter, September 15 2016

The mergers would mean that three companies would dominate the commercial agricultural seeds and chemicals sector, down from six – Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont. Prior to the mergers, these six firms controlled 60 per cent of commercial seed and more than 75 per cent of agrochemical markets.

australian-flag

Australia’s Global ‘Exit’: Tribalism and International Institutions

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, September 15 2016

It all begins with a promise. A promise, less for a better future than a reclaimed past.  Reclamation of the familiar, in fact, being the fundamental idea.  “As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I’m here to discuss with the chamber and the Australian people how we will rebuild our great nation.” These words from the inaugural speech of One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts set the trend in the Australian Senate Chamber.

Strange Washington Post “Conspiracy Theory”: Renowned Medical Doctor Claims that Putin or Trump Could Have Poisoned Hillary Clinton

By Timothy Alexander Guzman, September 15 2016

The Washington Post published an article claiming that a well-known doctor is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump of possibly poisoning Hillary Clinton. Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered ‘Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy’ (CTE) in the brains of deceased players of the National Football League (NFL). CTE is a degenerative disease caused my repeated blows to the head that effects athletes involved in contact sports such as boxing and American football.

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front gesture as they drive in a convoy touring villages in the southern countryside of Idlib

Al Qaeda’s Ties to US-Backed Syrian Rebels

By Gareth Porter, September 15 2016

The new ceasefire agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which went into effect at noon Monday, has a new central compromise absent from the earlier ceasefire agreement that the same two men negotiated last February. But it isn’t clear that it will produce markedly different results.

Ocean

Record High Temperatures: Toxic Slime Spreads Across Oceans as Climate Disruption Continues

By Dahr Jamail, September 14 2016

It is August 30. I’m in Anchorage, Alaska, and it’s hot. Very hot. In fact, it’s the fourth straight day of record high temperatures, amidst a year that has seen record high temperatures becoming normalized across the entire state. Two days ago, this city (the most populous in Alaska) saw a record high temperature of 78 degrees, which beat the previous record by a whopping seven degrees.

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The Washington Post published an article claiming that a well-known doctor is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump of possibly poisoning Hillary Clinton. Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered ‘Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy’ (CTE) in the brains of deceased players of the National Football League (NFL). CTE is a degenerative disease caused my repeated blows to the head that effects athletes involved in contact sports such as boxing and American football.

Dr. Omalu became famous (at least in the U.S.) when Hollywood produced a film called ‘Concussion’ (actor Will Smith plays Omalu in the film) based on his discovery and how the NFL tried to silence him. Dr. Omalu is now suggesting that Hillary Clinton was possibly poisoned by either Putin or Trump. Fame can be addictive to some people; maybe Dr. Omalu likes the spotlight so he decided to join the Main-Stream Media (MSM) “conspiracy theory” bandwagon. The Washington Post article titled ‘The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned’ said that Omalu recommended that Clinton should receive a ‘toxicologic analysis’:

Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who has made the NFL so uncomfortable with his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased players, suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign be checked for possible poisons after her collapse Sunday in New York.

Omalu, whose story was famously told in the movie “Concussion,” made the suggestion on Twitter, writing that he advised campaign officials to “perform toxicologic analysis of Ms. Clinton’s blood”

The Washington Post is not a truth seeking news source that the public can trust any more than The New York Timesor MSNBC. The story reeks of “Conspiracy Theory” all over it. One of the reasons Dr. Omalu gives us is that he does not trust Putin or the Republican front-runner Donald Trump:

He wasn’t giving up on Twitter, adding that his reasoning is that he does not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has expressed admiration for Putin

Wow. What an accusation for a certified doctor who has done a good deed for American football players in the NFL. Dr. Omalu in now jumping head first into the conspiracy theory realm which brings us into the death of Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned with Polonium- 210. The Washington Post conveniently mentions the Litvinenko case in the article:

Putin, as The Washington Post reported, was implicated by a British inquiry in January in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB operative, in London in 2006.

The Post’s Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum wrote at the time:

Although the inquiry stops short of conclusively blaming Putin — noting the opaque nature of Kremlin politics — it finds that there is “strong circumstantial evidence that the Russian State was responsible for Mr. Litvinenko’s death.” And citing the high-stakes nature of an operation to assassinate a former KGB officer on British soil, it finds that the operation would probably not have gone ahead without Putin’s direct approval

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB agent who was engaged in anti-Russia propaganda, primarily against Putin who he claimed committed the 1999 apartment-building bombings in Russia for political gain killing scores of people including children.

The British government ran with the Livinenko story which said he was poisoned on British territory by the Russians while sipping a cup of tea laced with a dose of highly radioactive “Polonium-210.” Why? Because it is well known that Polonium-210 is produced in Russia, so it is convenient to blame Russian intelligence services. It is important to understand that Polonium-210 is highly radioactive and highly toxic that would have contaminated airports and the planes from Moscow to the UK and everyone in close proximity to the deadly radioactive substance. If the FSB wanted to kill Livinenko, there would have been numerous ways to do so, but by placing Polonium- 210 in his cup of tea? What about the waiter or waitress or the person who served him the tea or the customers around him? Wouldn’t they have been contaminated as well? The FSB agents or Putin for the matter cannot be that stupid. Why would the Russian government commit a crime with a highly toxic substance that can be traced from Europe all the way to the door steps of the Kremlin?

According to ‘The Litvinenko Inquiry: Report into the Death of Alexander Litvinenko’ by the Chairman of the investigation Sir Robert Owen which was conducted in secrecy stated 

“Put very shortly, the closed evidence consists of evidence that is relevant to the Inquiry, but which has been assessed as being too sensitive to put into the public domain.”

Owen claimed the evidence is “too sensitive” for the public domain? Perhaps there was no evidence in the first place. I would go further to say that the evidence or the accusations they had is “too ridiculous” or “too stupid” for the public domain. That is why the investigation was conducted in secrecy in the first place. Maybe Sir Robert Owen wanted to avoid embarrassing himself from public scrutiny. According to an article in 2006 by the ‘The Independent’, a London-based news source titled ‘Litvinenko ‘smuggled nuclear material’ claims that Litvinenko was smuggling nuclear materials out of Russia for the FSB:

Alexander Litvinenko, the poisoned former Russian agent, told the Italian academic he met on the day he fell ill that he had organised the smuggling of nuclear material out of Russia for his security service employers.

Mario Scaramella, who flew into London yesterday to be interviewed by Scotland Yard officers investigating Mr Litvinenko’s death, said Mr Litvinenko told him about the operation for the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB

We don’t know how true Mr. Scaramella’s statement is, but it does make more sense than FSB agents dropping Polonium -210 in Litvinenko’s cup of tea. However, Russian authorities denied any involvement with a nuclear smuggling operation carried out by Litvinenko.

As an FSB agent, Litvinenko investigated organized crime. He was also involved with Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who had ties to organized crime figures. The Guardian published a story in 2009 titled ‘US embassy cables: Spain’s investigations into the Russian mafia’ which claims that Litvenenko provided Spanish authorities with information regarding their illegal activities and their whereabouts:

Following the Troika arrests in June 2008, details began to appear in the press on the group’s alleged activities and how the investigation developed. Less than a month after the arrests, Spain’s flagship daily, center-left El Pais, published a detailed article claiming that Alexander Litvinenko – the former Russian intelligence official who worked on OC issues before he died in late 2006 in London from poisoning under mysterious circumstances – tipped off Spanish security officials on the locations, roles, and activities of several “Russian” mafia figures with ties to Spain. He allegedly provided information on Izguilov, Zahkar Kalashov, and Tariel Oniani to GOS officials during a May 2006 meeting

For any criminal organization, someone like Litvinenko would be considered a “snitch” and suffer the consequences. Litvinenko’s murder has two possibilities that seem more plausible. The first possibility is that he mishandled the nuclear material he was importing to the UK and got himself exposed to the deadly substance or the Russian mafia put out a contract on his life. Either explanation is more believable than dropping Polonium-210 in his cup of tea right in the city of London.

The MSM accuses the alternative media of spreading “conspiracy theories” on Hillary Clinton’s health issues. But it was all put to rest after the ceremony for the victims of September 11th in New York City when Hillary nearly passed out. The MSM will continue to cover for Hillary Clinton any way possible even if it means spreading more conspiracy theories. It’s amazing how the MSM is promoting Dr. Omalu’s accusations that are absolutely ridiculous. I guess this is what to expect from a media that can’t even follow journalistic principles of reporting the truth, but hey, at least the MSM is becoming more entertaining with stories that make us laugh. Reminds me of what you find in the supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer.

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The Russian General Staff reported that US-backed ‘opposition forces’ have violated the ceasefire regime 23 time since its implementation. The US-backed ‘moderate groups’ have shelled both residential areas and positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). As result, 6 people were killed in Aleppo and 10 wounded.

Russian and Syrian officers in Syria fell under fire while giving a report from Aleppo during a conference video call between Moscow and Russia’s reconciliation center at the Khmeimin base in Syria. The incident took place at the Russia-led observation point at the Castello Highway. The incident clearly shows the real level of implementation of the nationwide ceasefire by the US-backed side.

On September 13, the Russian military has established an observation point at the Castello Highway and deployed operative groups in the Hama countryside. Additionally, the Russian military send artillery target intelligence assets to the city of Aleppo to register military barrages and ceasefire violations.

The Syrian Defense Ministry has issued a formal warning to the Turkish Armed Forces regarding breaches of Syrian airspace and a lack of communication with Damascus. Syria says that any Turkish aircraft that enters Syrian airspace without prior approval will become a target of the air defense forces.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has also informed that Syrian will not allow any humanitarian aid, especially provided by Ankara, to enter Aleppo without coordination with the Syrian government and the United Nations. This move aims to prevent military supplies to terrorists in Aleppo.

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Australian values and way of life are also at risk from insidious institutions such as the unelected swill that is the United Nations. Senator Roberts, One Nation Party, Sep 14, 2016.

It all begins with a promise. A promise, less for a better future than a reclaimed past.  Reclamation of the familiar, in fact, being the fundamental idea.  “As a servant to the people ofQueensland and Australia, I’m here to discuss with the chamber and the Australian people how we will rebuild our great nation.” These words from the inaugural speech of One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts set the trend in the Australian Senate Chamber.

He venerated fellow the party’s founder Senator Pauline Hanson as the source of his inspiration, as the great interrogator of Australian complacency since 1998, when she spoke of the “swamping” effects of Asian immigration and the benefits the indigenous population were supposedly receiving.  Roberts was certainly on secure ground observing that many of Hanson’s views were stealthily incorporated into Australia’s policies, be they on security or refugees.

That venerated leader seemed visibly uncomfortable at such praise, but proceeded to tweak the swamping theme in her own senate inaugural address, using Muslims as the great substitute.  “Now we are in danger of being swamped by Muslims, who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.”

Hanson and Roberts hail from a long line of populists suspicious of the “international institution,” which they regard as something of a meddling, threatening Frankenstein. But it is Roberts who couches matters with greater meaning, adding zest to armchair paranoia. (It is doubtful, for instance, whether Hanson has any serious understanding about what global institutions actually do.)

In truth, there is very little to be suspicious about such institutions as the UN, so bogged down in its own self-serving wishes, a bureaucratic clot incapable of actually pursuing the aspirations it has set.  Changing the world as an aim through non-binding commitments is far from actually doing so. A promise is rather difference from an aspiration.

That did not stop such critics of it as the late US Senator Jesse Helms, whose stranglehold of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee enabled him to issue bristling missives about the phantom power of that body.  “The UN aspires,” he insisted in the pages of The National Interest, “to impose its moral authority on the United States in the name of international justice.  The American people will not buy it.”[1]

Not all of Roberts’ comments are extracted from a cryogenic loony bin.  There is understandable cynicism of the international banking sector, which he regards as “one of the greatest threats to our way of life”.  His suggestion against this manipulative, self-enriching cabal?  The creation of a people’s bank that would “shield the manipulation of our economy by the tight-knit international banking sector.” Even the Right of politics can do a socialism of sorts.

In expressing what, at times, has to count for legitimate criticism, Roberts ruins the dish. He overeggs the pudding, over spices the casserole.  “The EU is a template for total socialist domination of Europe through unelected bodies, such as the IMF, forcing their frightening agenda on the people.” A few odd titbits are thrown in for good measure.  “It is also the UN’s template, and Australia must leave the UN.  We need an Aus-exit.”

This is terribly flattering for the United Nations, which tends to resemble a floundering animal in the face of the currents of history at the best of times.  Bodies such as the IMF have tended to have, arguably, greater weight in inflicting economic pain on client states in the guise of neoliberal reform. The UN, by way of contrast, remains a fairly innocuous beast prone to the odd calamitous blunder.

The United Nations, in other words, be they the blue helmets, the moral force for international law, are only as good as the states that fund it, and the personnel provided to its offices.  As an international institution, it has given every ground to assume that it will fail at various points, while doing background bookkeeping.

Be that as it may, Senator Roberts has given voice to an entire gamut of terrors and suspicions similarly found in the US and in Europe, largely because he sees them as immorally sinister impositions. All that comes from without is to be feared and repelled.  In that, he occupies the ground of the conspiracy theorist and fearful citizen, an individual who decided that there are facts not worth having, and others worth making up.

Not all in this strain of thinking can be dismissed as ridiculous, or even fanciful. Institutions, when they become ungainly and too large for their good, gnaw away at liberties. But Australia’s pretence to be an international citizen has been in doubt for many years (witness its attitude to the UN Refugee Convention, which it insists on ignoring).  The Senator’s call for an exit would simply affirm that.

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

Notes

[1] http://nationalinterest.org/article/american-sovereignty-and-the-un-283

 

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Gesticulaciones vacías frente a la delincuencia financiera

September 15th, 2016 by Jérôme Duval

En plena tormenta del escándalo de los Papeles de Panamá –que ya ha provocado la dimisión del primer ministro islandés, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, tras enormes manifestaciones, y la del ministro español de Industria, José Manuel Soria, tras revelarse que existían sociedades a su nombre en las Bahamas y en Jersey–, finalizaban las reuniones de primavera del FMI y del Banco Mundial el pasado 16 de abril.

La directora del FMI, Christine Lagarde, acusada de abuso de poder en el ‘caso Tapie’, aprovechó para defender la transparencia en materia fiscal. Puesto que esto “debe ser un tema mayor de inquietud”, según sus propias palabras, aprovechemos para recordar que el monto de su salario anual de 467.940 dólares –acompañado de una asignación de 83.760 dólares anuales para gastos de representación– se halla exento de cualquier impuesto. Christine Lagarde podrá hablar mucho de transparencia, pero preside una institución cuya Junta de Gobernadores sigue siendo de las más opacas. Poco después, el 19 de abril, el FMI, el Banco Mundial, la ONU y la OCDE anunciaban la creación de una plataforma común destinada a ayudar a los países pobres a combatir la evasión fiscal de las multinacionales.

Enésimo falso intento de combatir esa lacra, esta declaración de intenciones parecería responder al informe de la ONG Oxfam publicado algunos días antes, que afirma que en sólo cuatro años (hasta 2013) la Sociedad Financiera Internacional (SFI, filial del Banco Mundial especializada en préstamos al sector privado) invirtió 36.000 millones de dólares a través de bancos, de fondos especulativos y de otros intermediarios para financiar proyectos que provocan violaciones de derechos humanos en todo el mundo. “Es el doble de los fondos consagrados por el Grupo del Banco Mundial a la salud en el mismo periodo y tres veces más que los dedicados a la educación”. En 2015, de las 68 empresas que tomaron prestado del SFI fondos destinados a financiar proyectos de “desarrollo” en el África subsahariana, 51 recurrieron a paraísos fiscales, principalmente la Isla Mauricio, tal y como aconsejaba el gabinete Deloitte.

Tras la orgullosa afirmación de Nicolas Sarkozy, el 23 de septiembre de 2009 en TF1 y France 2, de que “los paraísos fiscales, el secreto bancario, se han acabado”, y el compromiso del G20 el mismo año de luchar contra esos agujeros negros de la finanza internacional estableciendo listas incoherentes, es normal que se dude de la eficacia de cualquier iniciativa que emane de esas instituciones.


¿A quién beneficia la opacidad de Panamá?

Recordemos que los bancos europeos están muy implicados en la delincuencia financiera. La empresa de servicios financieros Société Générale tiene entre sus activos 979 sociedades offshore, inscritas por el gabinete de abogados panameño Mossack Fonseca, en el centro del escándalo de los Papeles de Panamá, en relación con su filial luxemburguesa, SG Bank & Trusts. Vienen a continuación el banco británico HSBC (2.300 sociedades) y los suizos UBS (1.100) y Crédit Suisse (1.105). Estos tres bancos, actualmente acusados en escándalos de fraude fiscal, no dudan en cruzar la puerta de los ministerios, eso cuando no están directamente invitadas. Fue el caso, por ejemplo, en Francia este verano, durante las vacaciones estivales en pleno mes de agosto, cuando el antiguo directivo del banco de inversión de la Société Générale, Thierry Aulagnon, fue nombrado director del gabinete del ministro de Finanzas, Michel Sapin.

Joseph Stiglitz, receptor del premio del Banco Central de Suecia en Ciencias Económicas, mal llamado “Premio Nobel de Economía”, y el suizo Mark Pieth, profesor de Derecho Penal en Basilea (Suiza), dimitieron el 5 de agosto de un comité creado tras las revelaciones de los Papeles de Panamá para realizar una auditoría del sistema financiero claramente opaco de Panamá. Fue a través de un correo del Gobierno panameño recibido a finales de julio como se enteraron de que sólo el presidente del país podía decidir publicar el informe del comité, esperado de aquí a finales de año y que, además, el Gobierno rechazaba comprometerse a hacerlo público. “¿Cómo queréis un comité sobre la transparencia que no sea él mismo transparente?”, se indignaba Stiglitz en la AFP. Para Mark Pieth, el Ejecutivo “sufre la presión del mundo de los negocios”, “se está echando atrás”. Sin temer el ridículo y dispuesto a todo para las grandes empresas, el Gobierno panameño reiteró entonces su “compromiso firme y real con la transparencia y la cooperación internacional”.

Sin desvelar su verdadera identidad, el filtrador de los Papeles de Panamá que proporcionó los 11,5 millones de ficheros del gabinete de abogados Mossack Fonseca al Süddeutsche Zeitung llama a “abrir los ojos” para salir radicalmente de un sistema “que seguimos llamando capitalismo, pero que se acerca cada vez más a la esclavitud económica”. ¡Acababa, sin duda sin quererlo, de ofrecernos una buena definición del capitalismo!

Jerome Duval

Articulo en francés :

Lagarde

Gesticulations de façade face à la délinquance financière
Traducción: Gladys Martínez López 
Fuente: Diagonal

Jérôme Duval es miembro del CADTM, Comité para la abolición de las deudas ilegítimas (www.cadtm.org) y de la PACD, la Plataforma de Auditoría Ciudadana de la Deuda en el Estado español (http://auditoriaciudadana.net/). Es autor junto con Fátima Martín del libro Construcción europea al servicio de los mercados financieros, Icaria editorial 2016 y es también coautor del libro La Deuda o la vida, (Icaria, 2011), libro colectivo coordinado por Damien Millet y Eric Toussaint, que ha recibido el Premio al libro político en la Feria del libro político en Lieja, Bélgica, en 2011.
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Yesterday evening, European Union (EU) Council President Donald Tusk addressed a letter to EU heads of state, formally inviting them to Friday’s summit in Bratislava. Summarizing talks he has held with officials across the continent, and painting a picture of escalating political disarray, Tusk declared that the British exit from the EU has unleashed a historic crisis of the entire Union.

“It would be a fatal error to assume that the negative result in the UK referendum represents a specifically British issue,” Tusk wrote. He added, “People in Europe want to know if the political elites are capable of restoring control over events and processes which overwhelm, disorientate, and sometimes terrify them. Today many people, not only in the UK, think that being part of the European Union stands in the way of stability and security.”

In the letter’s only reference of the economic distress and social anger of the European population amid the deepest crisis of world capitalism since the 1930s, Tusk briefly wrote: “Our citizens also expect the European Union to better protect their economic and social interests.”

Tusk went on to admit that the crisis of the EU is so deep that it threatens the survival of democracy in Europe: “History has taught us that this can lead to a massive turn away from freedom and the other fundamental values that the European Union is founded upon.” Tusk warned that, 15 years after the September 11 attacks, the “war on terror” has strengthened neo-fascistic forces. “The promise of a ruthless crackdown on terrorism,” he wrote, “has become one of the main slogans of right-wing extremists.”

Tusk’s response to his own assessment of the situation underscores the historic bankruptcy of the EU’s defenders. Having acknowledged that the European bourgeoisie’s law-and-order, anti-immigrant policies strengthen neo-fascistic forces and threaten a collapse into authoritarian forms of rule, Tusk called for continuing precisely these policies—that is, strengthening military and police forces and escalating the crackdown on refugees.

“In this context, the effective control of our external borders comes first, and has both practical and symbolic dimensions,” he declared. Attacking defenders of refugees’ right to asylum, he denounced “politically correct statements that Europe cannot become a fortress” and endorsed calls for blocking refugees from fleeing Syria and Iraq to Europe via the Balkans.

Tusk tacitly aligned himself on the consensus in the European ruling class in favour of the NATO war drive against Russia and of economically devastating social austerity policies. He was silent on the tens of millions of unemployed workers in Europe, and on the danger of a military clash between NATO and Russia, either on Russia’s borders or in Syria, as NATO escalates interventions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

With Tusk’s letter, the EU machine is backing proposals of Berlin and Paris, previewed in German and French papers, to reverse the break-up of the EU by turning it into a military alliance capable of waging major wars abroad and large-scale police operations at home.

Similarly, European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Elmar Brok called yesterday for escalating EU military capabilities and intervening in Syria.

Complaining that the EU is “too weak” and has “no political power,” Brok said, “I hope that [EU Commission president] Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech tomorrow to the European Parliament, and above all the heads of state and government meeting this week in Bratislava finally put a stop to this, build a European security and defence policy, and build common structures, so we play a role, also when our interests and values are at stake, if we can aid people. … I know the Syrian opposition is waiting for the Europeans finally to appear and not present this terrible spectacle.”

Such desperate attempts to recast the EU as a military-police regime testify to a historic breakdown of capitalism. Twenty-five years after the Stalinist bureaucracy dissolved the USSR in 1991, and the Maastricht Treaty founded the EU in 1992, pledging to safeguard peace, prosperity, and democracy, the European bourgeoisie has utterly repudiated these promises. Beset by economic crises for which it has no solutions, the escalating consequences of its own aggressive wars and rising social anger in the working class, it is staking everything on repression and war.

What dominates in European international relations is the failure of the EU to contain or address historically rooted conflicts between the European powers. Before the foundation of the EU, London and Paris were terrified by the implications of the reunification of Germany. French President François Mitterrand famously demanded that German Vice Chancellor Hans-Dietrich Genscher agree to a closer monetary union or face a possible alliance of France, Britain, and Russia against Germany, as on the eve of World War I.

Such economic and geostrategic conflicts are erupting again, with Britain facing years of bitter negotiations on the conditions of its exit from the EU, and conflicts rising between Germany, France and the southern and eastern European states that remain in the EU.

Yesterday, as the German press warned against the formation of a hostile southern European bloc including the eurozone’s number two and three economies, France and Italy, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn flatly demanded the expulsion of Hungary from the EU. Asselborn warned that the reactionary, anti-immigrant policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán were a danger to human rights.

Speaking to Germany’s Die Welt, Asselborn said that in Hungary, “people who are fleeing war are treated almost worse than wild animals.” He attacked the fence built around Hungary’s southern borders to stop Middle East refugees, warning that it is “always getting longer, higher, and more dangerous. Hungary is not far from opening fire on refugees.”

Complaining that the EU claimed to “defend certain values outside its borders, but it is no longer capable of advancing them at home,” he said: “It would be helpful if the rules were changed so that suspending the membership of an EU member state no longer required unanimity [among the other EU member states].”

Asselborn’s comments exemplify the hypocritical propaganda of different EU powers, as they jockey for geo-strategic advantage. While attacking Hungary’s anti-immigrant policies, he failed to explain why, for instance, he did not call for France to also be expelled from the EU—though it is ruthlessly dismantling refugee camps in Calais, building fences to prevent refugees from travelling on to Britain, and sending police to assault and detain those who try.

Der Spiegel, for its part, warned of the implications of Brexit and of the September 9 Athens summit between France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, in a piece titled “The New Strength of Club Med.” It pointed to calls from French President François Hollande for an “economic growth program,” and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for a €50 billion investment fund.

Berlin had, it concluded, “due to the Brexit lost a powerful ally, Britain,” strengthening calls from southern European countries for a loosening of EU austerity policies dictated from Berlin. “We represent more than half of the EU,” Renzi said, “and that gives us weight.”

In fact, Hollande, Renzi, and their host Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras all speak for deeply unpopular governments that have imposed austerity on the working class in an attempt to boost the profits of the banks, whose interests they represent. Amid the battle inside ruling circles for the division of these profits, however, their remarks drew a retort from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who said, “When the social-democratic party leaders meet, nothing terribly clever tends to come of it.”

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A group of women from all over the world are about to embark on a dangerous journey on board the Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG). Two vessels are leaving from Barcelona on 14 September with the goal of reaching the besieged Palestinian enclave by early October in a symbolic breaking of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

One of these women is Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli citizen who was born and raised in Kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh, near Nazareth. She has been living in Spain for the past 12 years and has been involved in the Spanish component of Freedom Flotilla work since 2012. She coordinates the Women’s Boat to Gaza Steering Committee and is a team leader onboard the Amal.

“We want to give visibility to women in Palestine who have been struggling alongside the men since before the Nakba, since the beginning of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine,” says Regev.

Zohar Chamberlain Regev is an Israeli citizen and has participated in the coordinations of Rumbo a Gaza, (Boat to Gaza) the Spanish component of the Freedom Flotilla work since 2012 (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen) 

The flotilla’s mission is part of a campaign to break the ongoing Israeli-Egyptian siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The two boats Amal (Hope) and Zaytouna (Olive) will stop at two ports before sailing off to Gaza carrying their full capacity of 30 people.

The boats will set sail from the Bosch i Alsina dock in the Port of Barcelona and will be raising awareness of the ongoing struggles that Palestinian women face in Gaza, the West Bank, inside the Green Line and in the wider diaspora. The mission will aim to reach the shores of Gaza by early October and will be sailed by an all-woman crew.
The participants include Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland), Marama Davidson, Green Party MP (New Zealand), and Cigdem Topcuoglu, a professional Turkish athlete and coach who sailed on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 and whose husband was among the 10 activists killed by Israeli forces on that voyage.

The two boats taking part in the latest attempt to break the siege on Gaza spent their last night at the Bosch i Alsina dock in the Port of Barcelona before setting sail (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen)

Launched on 8 March 2016 on International Women’s Day, the initiative wants to raise awareness of the role women play in Palestine’s resistance movement, the survival of the Palestinian people as a whole, and the impact of the Israeli occupation.

For the past two days, locals and international supporters have been flocking to attend the activities hosted by Rumbo a Gaza (Boat to Gaza) to mark the launch. Hundreds attended the events, including concerts, talks and non-violence training.

Wendy Goldsmith is part of a Canadian boat to Gaza coalition. She is on the steering committee of the International Flotilla Campaign to end the blockade of Gaza and is a team leader on the Amal.

“If I was living in an open air prison and not allowed to come and go and trying to raise a family, probably with family members imprisoned or killed, I would want people in the world to be helping me and speaking out,” she says.
Jaldia Abu Bakra, originally from Gaza, is one of the activists on board and she feels passionately about the involvement of women in this mission.

Jaldia Abu Bakkra is a Palestinian woman from Gaza based in Spain and will be sailing on the Women’s boat to Gaza for the entire duration (Photo credit Vyara Gylsen)

“This voyage means one more step forward in the struggle for all women everywhere. Despite the fact that women have been active from the very beginning of the colonisation of Palestine in the 1880s, taking active part in the struggle against colonisation, some people still seem to feel that women don’t have a role, that they are secondary.

“This flotilla is a recognition of their role in the resistance.”

Lifting the Gaza siege

Another main objective of WBG is to contribute to the Palestinian call to the international community to help end the illegal occupation of Palestine and lift the siege on Gaza that is now entering its 10th year. The international community is mostly in agreement that the siege on Gaza is illegal. However, little has been done by world leaders to end the collective punishment of the civilian population.

Abu Bakra explains: “It’s very important for the Palestinians to know that there are people in the world who know and care about their struggle, because for a long time it has been a relatively invisible one. International acts of solidarity give Palestinians a shot of hope and the drive to continue their struggle.

“Our message to the world is that they have to look at Gaza and pay attention to Gaza. It is a call to action that they have to do something and not just sit there.”

Young Palestine Solidarity activists attended the activities to bid farewell to the boats Amal and Hope (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen)

Ann Wright, a former US army colonel and former US diplomat is one of the boat leaders and has been on flotillas to break the siege on Gaza before, including in 2010, 2011 and 2015. She is also the team leader on the Zaytouna.

Ann Wright is a former US army colonel and former US diplomat and is taking part on the women’s mission to Gaza (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen)

“We as international women stand in solidarity with the women of Gaza who have been under intense pressure as the leaders of their families, as the Israeli brutal military assaults happen. It’s the women who hold families together and we’re proud to have a Women’s Boat to Gaza in solidarity.”

Amal (Hope) is one of the two boats taking part in the current mission to break the siege on Gaza (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen)

“We hope that people will put pressure on their governments to hold Israel accountable, to put sanctions on Israel for what it’s doing to the Palestinians and to tell them to lift the blockade,” she added.

Boat confiscations, arrests and deaths

This is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s (FFC) fourth and latest initiative to steer the world’s attention back to the untenable conditions that Palestinians of Gaza are forced to live under. It is a call for an immediate end to the siege.

Previous attempts by the FFC and others to break the Gaza siege by sea have led to boats being intercepted by the Israeli navy. The Israeli navy has repeatedly attacked, arrested and imprisoned crew and participants, in addition to confiscating boats and property belonging to crew and members. The most notorious case was the Mavi Marmara in 2010, when the Israeli military killed 10 activists on board the ship and wounded more than 50 passengers.

Goldsmith says the women are well aware of the likelihood they will be intercepted by force by the Israelis. “Our goal is always to challenge and break the illegal blockade of Gaza, however, we do know that for the past four flotillas, Israel has intercepted them illegally in international waters and has kidnapped the people on the boats and detained them against their will.”

But she says that the women are optimistic despite the challenges they face. “One of our boats is called Amal-Hope and that’s what we are going to carry in our hearts. It’s hope that we will reach the shore.

“We are [believers in] non-violent action but we will also not give up our boat willingly or easily. We will use a variety of non-violent tactics that people feel comfortable with on the boats to make sure that we don’t make it easy for Israel to steal our boats.”

Wendy Goldstein is a Boat Leader on the Amal and is also on the steering committee of the International Flotilla Campaign to end the blockade of Gaza (Photo credit Vyara Gylsen)

Ghada Btah, the spokeswoman for the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG), said that the boats Amal and Zaytouna will convey messages of determination and hope to the world, especially to the people of Gaza.

“The activists boarding the boats are hoping to break the siege and reach the shores of Gaza to raise of awareness of the struggle the Palestinian people have been enduring for a long time.

Crowds gather to celebrate the launch of the flotilla (Photo credit: Vyara Gylsen)

“We hope to alert the world’s conscience to work tirelessly to end this brutal siege on Gaza,” she adds.

Women victims of war crimes

Israel has besieged Gaza by land, air and sea since 2007, following Hamas’s takeover from the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus. Around 1.8 million Palestinians are “locked in and denied free access to the world,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported in July 2015.

By applying restrictive measures that affect the population as a whole, Israel violates international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit collective punishment. Israel is also currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Gazans have suffered three deadly assaults since the siege began, killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands. Schools, hospitals and homes have been destroyed, and vital infrastructure such as the systems providing water, electricity and sewage have been decimated.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), of the 2,251 people killed in Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza in 2014, 299 were women while over 551 were children. Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, a Palestinian NGO, reported that 600 women suffered miscarriages during the offensive.

In the same year, more than 40,000 pregnant women were deprived of access to basic reproductive health services and approximately 5,500 deliveries took place in extremely poor conditions.

Dealing with loss and grief

Some 791 women lost their husbands during the Israeli war in addition to 34,697 others, who were evacuated from their homes, the NGO added.

The report, Through Women’s Eyes, notes Gazan women’s continued struggle “as they attempt to come to terms with their grief and their injuries, with the loss of their children, their husbands, their relatives, their homes, and their livelihoods”.

In addition to having to cope with personal trauma, women are also the primary caregivers to at least 425,000 children in need of psychosocial support.

Tagreed Jummah, director of Gaza City’s Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC) agrees that the siege is the main oppressive factor, writes the Inter Press Service.

“The siege affects us all, but it especially affects women,” says Jummah. “In recent years, more women have been forced to become the heads of their families because their husbands have been killed, or are in Israeli prisons, or are unemployed as a result of the siege. But the majority of these women have no means of earning money.

‘We know there are risks’

Goldsmith says that many women’s groups in Gaza will be waiting to receive them should the women’s flotilla get through. “We know that there are many women’s organisations, NGOs and members of civil society who are waiting in anticipation for us to arrive.

“We know that there are risks. If we are intercepted, it will be occupation forces with guns and they will be very intimidating and of course we are afraid, but I’m more afraid of not doing anything.

“I’m willing to put myself on this line because it’s a cause I really believe in and I think that all of humanity needs to wake up and see what’s happening in Gaza.”

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The Hillary Clinton campaign has a talking point. “Will Power Through”. 

The Narrative is repeated in chorus. 

No analysis of the political consequences of Hillary’s pneumonia is put forth. None is required…

Absurdity of the mainstream media. Predetermined catch phrase repeated  ad nauseam  

“Campaign manager Robby Mook and spokespeople Brian Fallon and Kristina Schake all repeated the talking point ad nauseam in their cable appearances on Monday. The media picked it up as well, with reporters on CNN and MSNBC using the phrase to describe how Hillary Clinton bravely reacted to a pneumonia diagnosis on Friday.”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research Editor, September 15, 2016

Washington Beacon Video

 

 

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When US President Barack Obama attempted to leave Air Force One upon arriving at Hangzhou, China, just southwest of Shanghai, he found that no staircase or red carpet awaited him. Instead, he and his staff were forced to use an alternative exit from the aircraft, only to find additional restrictions placed upon them on the tarmac.

The New York Times in its article, “Bumpy Beginning for Obama in China, Starting on the Tarmac,” would note:

There was no staircase for Obama to exit the plane and descend on the red carpet. Obama used an alternative exit.

On the tarmac, a quarrel broke out between a presidential aide and a Chinese official who demanded the journalists traveling with Obama be prohibited from getting anywhere near him. It was a breach of the tradition observed whenever the American president arrives in a foreign place. 

When the White House official insisted the U.S. would set the rules for its own leader, her Chinese counterpart shot back. 

“This is our country! This is our airport!” the Chinese official yelled.

Rather than accept and adapt to the conditions set forth by their Chinese hosts, the President’s staff quarrelled with them, marking yet another ungraceful bout of American exceptionalism where even in another’s country, America’s will is expected to be fulfilled.

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Reflecting on the event, President Obama made cryptic comments seemingly both attempting to downplay the event as a mere oversight, but alluding to the fact that it was more than a mere oversight by their Chinese hosts.

And in fact, it was no oversight. It was a clear message to America that the age of American exceptionalism, particularly in Asia, is over.

America’s Ungraceful Exit from Asia  

In and of itself, President Obama’s ungraceful exit from Air Force One may seem like an insignificant event. When added together with a general decline of American influence and regarding the respect it had once commanded across Asia, it is highly symbolic of a global hegemon being pushed from an entire corner of the globe.

It was just recently that the US concluded a lengthy and costly public relations campaign, dressed up as an “international tribunal” conducted at The Hague in the Netherlands that predictably concluded that China held no legitimate claims in the South China Sea.

The “ruling” was allegedly made in favour of the Philippines, despite the legal team being headed by an American, Paul S. Reichler of Foley Hoag. Despite what Washington believed would be a crushing rhetorical blow to Beijing, not only did Beijing dismiss the entire proceeding out of hand, the Philippines itself refused to capitalise on the transparently politically-motivated and provocative ruling.

US pressure on the Philippines, until recently considered a stalwart ally, even a subordinate functionary of Washington, eventually resulted in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte directly mocking America’s ambassador to the nation, denouncing him as an effeminate meddler.

The previous year, the US had been pressuring Thailand to allow Chinese terror suspects to travel onward to Turkey despite an extradition request from China. Thailand ignored US demands and returned the suspects to face justice in China.

In both cases terrorism struck shortly after, with a bomb striking in the centre of Bangkok killing 20 and maiming many more, and just recently a bomb exploding in the Philippine city of Davao, where President Duterte had previously served as mayor.

In Cambodia, the nation’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has openly accused the US of attempting to subvert political stability around the globe. This was in reference to opposition groups the US State Department is now using to pressure the Cambodian government after its decisive shift away from US interests toward Beijing.

In essence, while the US announced its “pivot” toward Asia, Asia itself appears to be pivoting away from the US. Thus, the incident on the tarmac in Hangzhou is a microcosm of what is taking place across Asia, an unwillingness of locals to further capitulate to American exceptionalism, and an ungraceful America unable to recognise or adapt to this shifting geopolitical reality.

In the end, America with its hegemonic hubris will ensure that it is fully pushed out of Asia, missing what is perhaps a final opportunity to readjust its relationship with the region away from adversarial domination toward something more equitable, proportional and constructive.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 

 

 

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With the participation of several political and social organizations and over 200 self-convened people, a march named ‘From Memory to Power’ was held on September 11, 2016, on the anniversary of the military coup. It started at 11 am, at the General Cemetery (a symbol of memory) and ended at the Plaza de Armas square (a historical scenario of rebellion and struggle) in Santiago.

Unlike the traditional march convened by the Relatives of Disappeared Detainees organization, which started in the center of Santiago de Chile and marched to the General Cemetery, the “March From Memory to Power” demands not only the end of impunity but also the end of the “pacts of silence” and the government’s’ policy to release many officials and military men who are currently in jail due to crimes against humanity. Against crime and unspeakable torture, the March From Memory to Power also demanded justice for the violations of human and social rights committed since the 1973 Coup, which continue to these days, after 26 years of civilian governments.

That’s not all. The march, far from being capricious or competing with the traditional march, inverted the traditional course from the square to the cemetery because it wants to send a clear message: the dreams of emancipation upheld by those who fought and fell are alive in those who now resist. But…What are they resisting? They resist capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy. They are environmentalist militants, mapuche people, they are in solidarity with the liberation and self determination of the indigenous people. They are impoverished migrants. They fight for a structural transformation regarding the super-exploitation of work, against the empire sustained by national debts and financial and commercial speculation, against extractivist plundering and the destruction of biodiversity. They fight for a free, universal, quality education and for a curricula that fits the interests of the oppressed and not the interest of the reproduction of capital and private profit. They fight for public health with an adequate budget, and for a system of social security based on solidarity. They fight against the metropolitan centralism and for the creation of popular power as a complex goal, subjected to the particularities of class struggle. They fight for the right to decent housing and against the criminalization and repression of protests by the capitalist State and the Chilean Police. They fight against social alienation promoted by a handful of oppressors, and their method is the rich cultural production of the oppressed.

“[Salvador] Allende lives on”

The March From Memory to Power molds its project for society after the lessons learned from the best exponents of revolutionary socialism in Chile, in the continent and the world, and working towards what still needs to be created collectively and individually. It’s known that nothing is finished and that the human willpower, united and in action, is the variable that can change history and disrupt the power relations that sustain this exhausted political regime and anti-popular state. They don’t trust textbooks nor those who act under the rules of opportunism.

They trust and join the forces of the slow recomposition of social and popular movements on a territorial and sectorial scale. They don’t call themselves the “vanguard” nor intend to substitute the different forms in which the popular resistance is expressed. They know that they are not many in number, but they also know that the future is built from the simple to the complex, from less to more. They have a will to create power, together with the people: without the people nothing is possible. That march represents the people.

This year’s March From Memory to Power is the second one, and it was bigger than the one held last year. The Plaza de la Constitución, where the monument to Salvador Allende is located, was surrounded by the police, so they were only able to reach the Plaza de Armas, a few blocks away from La Moneda. But they have patience: the social and political forces of the oppressed are not built overnight and “there are no early revolutions, they grow from the grassroots”, like musician Alfredo Zitarrosa used to sing.

There’s one thing to cherish above all: the discipline and the sense of community that were present in the mobilization. This was not a group of unarticulated people, staring at each other. It was a common process. Diverse and compact, at the same time. With a shared horizon and many ways of protesting. It ended up with the combined intonation of “La Internacional”. It was a nostalgic act. It was sang because of the urgency of its emergency.

A breath of fresh air amidst the general confusion.

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A newly-released 2011 FBI Intelligence Assessment shows the 11 percent uptick in terror plots against the US from 2006 was led by US persons, not foreigners. A “broadening US military presence overseas and outreach by Islamist ideologues” bolstered the increase.

The previously classified document was the result of analysis conducted by the Los Angeles Division of the FBI and the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC), covering terrorist plots against the US and its interests from 2001 to 2010. It was made public via a California Public Records request to the Los Angeles Police Department, according to Muck Rock.

“With high confidence,” the March 2011 intelligence report says, foreign nationals “led anti-US targeting prior to 2006” with 52 percent, but a swift change came in the subsequent years, with Americans plotting 70 percent of attacks.

Behind the surge in domestic or homegrown threats was “self-selection, sometimes passively influenced by Internet provocateurs,” the FBI and JRIC found, although they did not determine how much of the phenomena was caused by propaganda.

The assessment also was unable to whittle down a profile of whom would fit into this new rising breed of terrorists. Of the 33 Americans the report looked at, there were “few identifiable unifying qualities” and “no identifiable religious affiliation.”

But there was one common factor the FBI and JRIC found.

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“Much of the activity stemmed from a perception that the United States is at war with Islam and jihad is the correct and obligatory response,” the report found.

As Muck Rock pointed out, this fits the story of Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, whose May 2010 car bombing attempt on Times Square failed, made clear in court why he turned to terrorism.

“I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the United States pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the United States and be out to get them,” Shahzad said in June 2010.

While the US wars and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq contributed to at least 25 percent of the pre-2006 cases, the post-2006 cases were actually tied to those invasions less often. Hard feelings over the 2006 Lebanon War waged by Israel as well as a Danish newspaper’s publishing of cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad were cited in later cases.

This 2011 FBI Intelligence Assessment’s findings are mirrored in other government and independent research reports that were compiled both beforehand and afterward.

A September 2004 report by the Defense Science Board Task Force, run out of the Department of Defense, concluded that “American actions and the flow of events [since 9/11] have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims,” according to Muck Rock.

US foreign policy, including its “one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights” as well as its support for Middle Eastern governments, “what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies,” along with the Afghanistan and Iraq occupations, was cited in the 2004 report.

 

In April 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate, a collective analysis from some 17 US intelligence agencies, was finalized. Titled, “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it found that “the American invasion and occupation of Iraq … helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism,” according to Muck Rock.

Released in March 2011, about the same time the 2011 FBI Intelligence Assessment was done, the Brennan Center for Justice’s report “Rethinking Radicalization” found there to be “no profile of the type of person who becomes a terrorist; indeed, the process by which a person embraces violence is fluid, making it nearly impossible to predict who will move from espousing ‘radical’ views to committing violent acts.”

This runs against the entire premise of the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs, which seek to prevent terrorism within the US by using complex data, most often from Muslim communities, to more or less profile for potential terrorists. The CVE programs do not entertain the idea of foreign policy driving domestic threats.

Last month, the Associated Press analyzed some 3,000 leaked Islamic State documents to discover that most recruits had little or no understanding of the religion of Islam.

 

 

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Al Qaeda’s Ties to US-Backed Syrian Rebels

September 15th, 2016 by Gareth Porter

The new ceasefire agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which went into effect at noon Monday, has a new central compromise absent from the earlier ceasefire agreement that the same two men negotiated last February. But it isn’t clear that it will produce markedly different results.

The new agreement incorporates a U.S.-Russian bargain: the Syrian air force is prohibited from operating except under very specific circumstances in return for U.S.-Russian military cooperation against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS or ISIL. That compromise could be a much stronger basis for an effective ceasefire, provided there is sufficient motivation to carry it out fully.

The question, however, is whether the Obama administration is willing to do what would certainly be necessary for the agreement to establish a longer-term ceasefire at the expense of Daesh and Al Qaeda.In return for ending the Syrian air force’s operations, generally regarded as indiscriminate, and lifting the siege on the rebel-controlled sectors of Aleppo, the United States is supposed to ensure the end of the close military collaboration between the armed groups it supports and Al Qaeda, and join with Russian forces in weakening Al Qaeda.

The new bargain is actually a variant of a provision in the Feb. 27 ceasefire agreement: in return for Russian and Syrian restraints on bombing operations, the United States would prevail on its clients to separate themselves from their erstwhile Al Qaeda allies.

But that never happened. Instead the U.S.-supported groups not only declared publicly that they would not honor a “partial ceasefire” that excluded areas controlled by Al Qaeda’s affiliate, then known as Nusra Front, but joined with Nusra Front and its close ally, Ahrar al Sham, in a major open violation of the ceasefire by seizing strategic terrain south of Aleppo in early April.

As the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations on a ceasefire continued, Kerry’s State Department hinted that the U.S. was linking its willingness to pressure its Syrian military clients to separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s forces in the northwest to an unspecified Russian concession on the ceasefire that was still being negotiated.

It is now clear that what Kerry was pushing for was what the Obama administration characterized as the “grounding” of the Syrian air force in the current agreement.

Al Qaeda’s Ties

Now that it has gotten that concession from the Russians, the crucial question is what the Obama administration intends to do about the ties between its own military clients and Al Qaeda in Aleppo and elsewhere in the northwest.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on confronting the terrorist group ISIL in Syria, on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure for New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on confronting the terrorist group ISIL in Syria, on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure for New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Thus far the primary evidence available for answering that question is two letters from U.S. envoy to the Syrian opposition Michael Ratney to opposition groups backed by the United States. The first letter, sent on Sept. 3, after most of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement had already been hammered out, appears to have been aimed primarily at reassuring those Syrian armed groups.

As translated by al-Monitor, it asserted, “Russia will prevent regime planes from flying, and this means there will not be bombing by the regime of areas controlled by the opposition, regardless of who is present in the area, including areas in which Jabhat Fateh al Sham [the new name adopted by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front] has a presence alongside other opposition factions.”

Ratney confirmed that the U.S. would in return “offer Russia coordination from our side to weaken al Qaeda.” But he also assured U.S. clients that their interests would be protected under the new agreement.

“[W]e believe this ceasefire should be stronger,” he wrote, “because it should prevent Russia and the regime from bombing the opposition and civilians under the pretext that its striking Jabhat al Nusra.”

The Ratney letter makes no reference to any requirement for the armed opposition to move away from their Al Qaeda allies or even terminate their military relationships, and thus implied that they need not do so.

But in a follow-up letter, undated but apparently sent on Sept. 10, following the completion of the new Kerry-Lavrov agreement, Ratney wrote, “We urge the rebels to distance themselves and cut all ties with Fateh of Sham, formerly Nusra Front, or there will be severe consequences.”

The difference between the two messages is obviously dramatic. That suggests that one of the last concessions made by Kerry in the Sept. 9 meeting with Lavrov may have been that a message would be sent to U.S. military clients with precisely such language.

The totality of the two letters from Ratney underlines the reluctance of the United States to present an ultimatum to its Syrian clients, no matter how clearly they are implicated in Al Qaeda operations against the ceasefire. Last spring, the State Department never publicly commented on the participation by the U.S.-supported armed groups in the Nusra Front offensive in violation of the ceasefire agreement, effectively providing political cover for it.

The decision by U.S.-supported armed groups in March to defy the ceasefire was taken in the knowledge that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had agreed to resupply the Nusra Front-led commands in the northwest and had even provided shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to Nusra’s close ally Ahrar al Sham.

Turkey’s Dubious Role

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent shift in policy toward rapprochement with Russia and his talk of ending the war in Syria are fueled by determination to prevent Syrian Kurds from establishing a unified Kurdistan along the Turkish border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference in Turkey on Dec. 1, 2014. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference in Turkey on Dec. 1, 2014. (Russian government photo)

The Wilson Center’s Henry Barkey, a leading specialist on Turkey, told a meeting sponsored by the Middle East Institute last week that Erdogan’s Syria policy is “90 percent about the Kurds.”

But Erdogan does not appear ready to pull the rug out from under Turkey’s client groups in Syria. In fact, Turkey suddenly dialed back its rhetorical shift on Syria in July just when the newly renamed Jabhat Fateh al Sham revealed for the first time that it was about to launch its major offensive for Aleppo.

The domestic political context of U.S. Syrian policy remains strongly hostile to any joint U.S. operations with Russia that could affect U.S.-supported anti-Assad clients, even though it is now generally acknowledged that those forces are “marbled” with troops of Al Qaeda’s franchise, especially in Aleppo.

During the spring and summer, Reuters, The Washington Post and other media outlets reported a string of complaints from the Pentagon and the CIA about Obama’s plans to reach an agreement with Russia on Syria that would commit the United States to cooperate against Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise. These complaints argued that the Russians could not be trusted and that they intended to target U.S –supported groups in a proxy war.

The real reasons for these attacks on the negotiations with Russia, however, were more parochial. The Pentagon is determined to maintain the line that Russia is a dangerous threat and should be firmly opposed everywhere. The CIA’s clandestine service has long wanted a more aggressive program of military assistance for its Syrian clients, which would be a major CIA covert operation.

Thus, even though the new agreement calls for U.S. “coordination” with Russia of air strikes against Al Qaeda forces, the Obama administration can be expected to raise objections whenever it sees that a proposed operation would come too close to targets associated with its clients. Otherwise, more leaks from opponents of the agreement in the Pentagon and CIA – or even in the State Department – would surely follow.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

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Eight years ago the world, and the western financial system changed forever, when the impossible became all too real when Wall Street woke up to news that what until a few days ago was one of the world’s largest investment banks had filed for bankruptcy, which would proceed to unleash the most unprecedented period of central bank micromanagement, and market manipulation in history.

Courtesy of Reuters Vikram Subhedar, this is what the front page of Reuters looked like on that day.

And here, appropriately enough, is a brief walk down memory lane courtesy of Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid:

How time flies. On this very day eight years ago Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in what still is the largest bankruptcy filing in US history. The reality is that we are still living in the very long shadow of the events that occurred around this time. This default certainly marked the point where central banks started to go into overdrive to prop up the financial system. The problem is that they haven’t been able to stop and have had to get more and more aggressive to keep the plates spinning.

We estimate that since the collapse of Lehman, Central Banks around the world have cut interest rates 672 times. A phenomenal statistic and that’s before we even get to unconventional measures.

As a bit of fun it’s interesting to have a look at where markets are now based on last night’s close versus this time 8 years ago. Starting first and foremost with the Treasury market, 10y yields are at 1.698% this morning which compares to 8 years ago when they were at 3.389%. At the current 0.758% yield, 2y yields are down from 1.706% while 30y yields (currently 2.450%) are down from 4.022%. At the other end of the risk spectrum, the S&P 500 at 2,126 now is up a whopping +102% in total return terms in the 8 years. In commodity markets Gold has risen from $787/oz to $1323/oz now, or +73% while WTI Oil has more than halved from $101/bbl to the current $44/bbl level. The standout though has to be what’s happened to Bunds in that time with the 10y yield falling from 4.185% to 0.020% now. This would look even more incredible had it not been for Bunds bouncing back into positive territory recently.

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As the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approach, the United States has spent or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on the Department of Homeland Security.

That’s according to just-released data in the second of two reports this summer from the Costs of War Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

This represents a $300 billion increase since 2015, according to the report, and the amount of the connected expenditures vastly outstrips the 2002 estimate by Lawrence Lindsey, George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, that the cost of waging war in Iraq would not exceed $200 billion.

The total expenditure for the wars in the Middle East and the war on terror rises to $4.79 trillion when dedicated war spending for the coming fiscal year is added in, along with the nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security for 2017, according to the study. That number, however, does not include all future interest on debt associated with the wars.

“This is the most comprehensive analysis of the budgetary costs available, produced as part of the Costs of War Project, a large research team assessment of the wider, and also staggering, human and social impact of the wars,” said Catherine Lutz, co-director of the project and the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of International Studies and professor of anthropology at Brown University.

Findings on the human costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan were published in a separate report released in early August. That study, like the new report with aggregate budget data, was written by Neta C. Crawford, professor of political science at Boston University and co-director of the Costs of War Project.

“One of the major lessons of the post-9/11 wars, which applies to all wars, is to beware of promises of quick military victories and inexpensive occupations — wars generally cost a lot of money from start to finish and ultimately to their long aftermath in the lives of veterans and their families,” Crawford said.

The study, “U.S. Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting,” takes a wide-ranging approach to accounting for the costs of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the war on terror, according to Crawford and Lutz.

Crawford wrote that the accounting includes Congressional war appropriations for the State Department and Department of Defense, the Homeland Security budget related to terrorism, war-related additions to the Pentagon base budget, and spending in the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the costs of future obligations to veterans of these conflicts, and the costs of interest in borrowing to pay for the wars.

The latter expense is significant. In the report, Crawford wrote that, “Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion to the national debt by 2023. By 2053, interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion unless the U.S. changes the way it pays for the wars.”

Unlike the way it has funded previous wars, Crawford wrote, Congress has not enacted a war tax or sold large numbers of war bonds “which would have made these ‘pay as you go’ wars. Hence DOD and State Department Overseas Contingency Operations spending are considered here as borrowed.” Crawford noted that she includes the costs of borrowing as a war expense in the report.

Crawford addressed the Congressional definition of some war funding as “emergency funding,” describing needs as unanticipated, sudden, urgent, unforeseen or temporary. She assessed that some costs of the wars do not fall into the category of emergency spending.

“These expenses have been institutionalized, for example, into the spending of the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security,” she wrote, whereas other costs “can be anticipated and estimated because they are future obligations — namely the costs of veterans’ future medical care and disability payments.”

The Costs of War report also briefly addressed the macroeconomic impact of the wars, noting that the project’s analysts have posited that “the wars likely cost tens of thousands of jobs, affected the ability of the U.S. to invest in infrastructure and probably led to increased interest costs on borrowing, not to mention greater overall federal indebtedness.”

This finding contrasts with a statement made by Lindsey in 2002 that “the successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy,” and the overall findings in the report show that various estimates of the cost of the war made in the early 2000s, from $48 billion to $3 trillion, were too low.

Some key findings from the report:

  • Homeland Security spending has increased by more than $500 billion for missions related to preventing and responding to potential terrorist attacks.
  • Future obligations to provide medical care and support for wounded veterans will total approximately an additional $1 trillion in medical and disability payments and an additional administrative burden through 2053.
  • About 2 million of the more than 2.75 million people who served deployments in the war zones have left the military and entered into the VA system.
  • The cumulative total from Fiscal Year 2001 to Fiscal Year 2016 spent in the war zone in Iraq is $805 billion. An additional $2.2 billion has been requested for Fiscal Year 2017.
  • Homeland Security spending for prevention and response to terrorism from Fiscal Year 2001 to Fiscal Year 2016 was $548 billion.
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Fit to serve,” are the three little words that Dr. Lisa Bardack chose to sum up Hillary Clinton’s post-collapse, post-pneumonia, post-coughing fit medical test. Bardack concluded that “the remainder of her complete physical exam was normal and she is in excellent mental condition.” Of course, the big question is, will Hillary be healthy enough that Bardack does not need to walk arm in arm with her in public during Hillary’s next appearance, while checking to make sure her pulse is still there.

As Bloomberg reports, Clinton’s medical history included deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009, and a blood clot and a concussion in 2012, Bardack said last year.

At that time, Clinton regularly took Armour Thyroid, antihistamines, Vitamin B12 and Coumadin, an anticoagulant. She’s still taking all the same medications, Bardack said, with more specificity about the antihistamine the candidate is taking. It is Clarinex.

Clinton last released information about her health in July 2015, when Bardack provided a letter that concluded the candidate “is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.”

And today, as CNN reports, Hillary Clinton’s campaign released additional medical information Wednesday after questions about her health intensified in the wake of her pneumonia diagnosis late last week.

She was diagnosed with mild, non-contagious bacterial pneumonia, her doctor said, a step the campaign took after the candidate had to take three days off the campaign trail after nearly collapsing at an event on Sunday.

Dr. Lisa Bardack, Clinton’s personal doctor and the chair of Internal Medicine at CareMount Medical in Mount Kisco, New York, said she evaluated Clinton multiple times in the last week — including Wednesday — and found that the Democratic nominee had a small right middle-lobe pneumonia.

According to Bardack, “The remainder of her complete physical exam was normal and she is in excellent mental condition.”

Bardack added that Clinton “is recovering well with antibiotics,” including Levaquin, which she was told to take for 10 days.

Remember when Hillary’s Cleveland coughing fit was blamed entirely on pollem? Well…

I evaluated Mrs. Clinton for a 24 – hour history of a low grade fever, congestion and fatigue.

On examination, she was noted to have a temperature of 99.4; her vital signs were otherwise normal as was her physical exam. She was advised to rest, put on a short course of antibiotics and continued on her allergy medications for an upper respiratory tract infection in the setting of her seasonal allergies.

Over the next several days as she traveled, her congestion worsened and she developed a cough. She was advised to see me when she returned from her travels for further testing.

And finally, we have a simple question – is it routine to get a CT scan of your brain for an ear infection?

This evaluation confirmed a sinus and ear infection, with increased fluid in her left ear. To help alleviate her symptoms, a myringotomy tube was placed in her left ear in January of 2016. After the tube was placed, Mrs. Clinton had significant improvement in her symptoms.

Further follow-up evaluation with a CT scan of her brain and sinuses was done in March of 2016. This scan showed no abnormalities of the brain and mild chronic sinusitis. Her symptoms resolved and she continued symptom-free for the next six months.

The release of Clinton’s medical information was a bit of political gamesmanship, coming just hours after Republican Donald Trump revealed some of his health history at a taping of the “Dr. Oz Show” Wednesday in New York.

Full Medical Statement below.

HRC Physician Letter

All of which explains why Hillary Clinton features in this month’s Women’s Health magazine…

One word… “irony”

oh and three more words…”God bless Photoshop”

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Pentagon Openly Challenges US-Russia Ceasefire Deal in Syria

September 15th, 2016 by Bill Van Auken

As Washington and Moscow agreed Wednesday to extend a Syrian ceasefire agreement for another 48 hours, statements by top civilian and uniformed Pentagon officials have raised serious questions over whether the US military brass is prepared to abide by the deal.

Underlying these divisions are not just divergent tactical prescriptions for the pursuit of US imperialist interests in Syria, but the far graver questions surrounding the increasing military tensions between the US and Russia itself.

The truce agreement, which went into effect on Monday, was negotiated between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during protracted talks in Geneva at the end of last week. It calls for a seven-day ceasefire, to be renewed every 48-hours to the extent that there is a cessation of violence.

After that, US and Russian military forces would begin coordinating their operations in Syria, setting up a “joint implementation center” and sharing targeting information for strikes against both the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, which recently renamed itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or Front for the Conquest of Syria.

The deal has rekindled the sharp tensions within the Obama administration over US imperialism’s proxy war for regime change in Syria. These divisions boiled to the surface previously over President Barack Obama’s failure to use greater military might to enforce his demand that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad relinquish power and, in particular, in September 2013, after the US backed down from its threat to carry out a “shock-and-awe” assault on Damascus over the trumped up charge that the Assad government had used chemical weapons against civilians. Instead, Washington accepted a Russian-brokered deal for Syria’s chemical disarmament.

More recently, some 50 career State Department employees issued an internal dissent memo in June, calling for the US to launch air strikes against the Syrian government, supposedly as a means of bringing an end to the bloodshed of the five-year-old war that Washington itself provoked in pursuit of regime change.

The present divisions are far more ominous, however, pitting active duty US military commanders against the policy of the administration, implicitly posing a challenge to the constitutional principle of civilian control of the military.

According to a report published Wednesday in the New York Times, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter first gave voice to the military’s opposition last week during a conference call in which Secretary of State Kerry was advocating acceptance of the agreement with Russia. Kerry “grew increasingly frustrated” as the debate dragged on for hours before Obama ultimately approved the deal, the Times reported.

Even after the administration decided on this policy, however, senior uniformed commanders have openly expressed reservations, if not outright opposition.

Asked in a press teleconference if the military would abide by the terms of the agreement and share information with the Russians after the completion of the seven-day ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of the US Air Forces Central Command, which is directing the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, responded: “I think…it would be premature to say we’re going to jump right into it. And I’m not saying yes or no.” The military’s decision, he indicated, is “going to depend on what the plan ends up being.”

Harrigian said of the Russians, “I’m not going to say I trust them.”

This position was supported by Gen. Philip Breedlove, who stepped down as NATO’s supreme allied commander just last March. “I remain skeptical about anything to do with the Russians,” he told the Times in an interview. “There are a lot of concerns about putting out there where our folks are.”

By “our folks,” Breedlove was apparently referring to the collection of Islamist militias that Washington, together with its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, have paid and armed. One of the major sticking points of the ceasefire agreement is that the US is supposed to get its proxy forces to separate themselves from the Syrian al-Qaeda forces with which they are allied and, in many cases, from which they are indistinguishable.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reported that in phone conversation with Kerry Wednesday, Foreign Minister Lavrov “stressed that Washington should fulfill its promise to separate ‘moderate opposition’ groups from the former Nusra Front and other groups that literally merged with it.” These proxy forces have expressed their opposition to any such separation and it is far from clear that they can survive without integration with the al-Qaeda militias, which constitute the backbone of the so-called “rebels.”

These statements were followed Wednesday by a speech delivered to the Institute for the Study of War in Washington by Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of the US Central Command expressing similar reservations about the Syrian ceasefire agreement.

“We have to see how this goes first of all … see what direction it goes … whether it actually pans out or not, I don’t know,” Votel said. He added: “There is a trust deficit with the Russians. It is not clear to us what their objectives are. They say one thing and then they don’t necessarily follow up on that.”

Similar sentiments were voiced the previous day in a speech to the Atlantic Council by Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, who mangled the English translation of the Russian proverb mouthed incessantly by Ronald Reagan during the 1980s negotiations with the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons treaties.

“Distrust but verify,” Lettre declared. “That can apply a little bit in this case.” He allowed that the “intelligence community and the Department of Defense are strongly on board with supporting the new agreement,” so long as “the steps play out as we think they should.”

Responding to this drumbeat of military opposition, Kerry delivered a meek defense of the deal he negotiated in an interview with National Public Radio Wednesday, insisting that Obama supports and is prepared to implement the agreement.

“Well, the president of the United States is ready and I think the military therefore will be ready,” he said. “Nobody’s asking people to abrogate our standards, but it is important for us to keep our part of the bargain.”

The US secretary of state “thinks” the Pentagon is prepared to abide by an agreement approved by the US president, while stressing that he is not asking the military brass to “abrogate their standards.” Kerry’s remarks express the real relations within the US state apparatus, the overriding influence of the vast military and intelligence apparatus and its ability to exercise what amounts to veto power over the country’s elected civilian officials.

If Kerry and the military are at loggerheads, it is bound up with the conflicting priorities in the prosecution of US imperialist policy on a global scale. The support of Kerry and others for the ceasefire is driven not by any humanitarian concern over bloodshed in Syria, but by their desire to use collaboration with Russia as a means of salvaging at least some of the proxy forces that they have backed, which are on the verge of a complete rout by Russian-backed government forces. They hope that they can employ a combination of diplomacy and military threats to pressure Moscow into acquiescing to some form of the regime change that Washington has pursued through its bloody intervention in Syria over the past five years.

For their part, the decisive layers within the US military command are focused increasingly on the preparation for direct military conflict with Russia. Concrete reservations have been raised about sharing targeting information against ISIS and the Nusra Front—aside from their being the main fighters for US-backed regime change—that it could provide Russia with intelligence on US military protocols that it could used to defend itself against air strikes on or within its own borders.

Under conditions in which the US is building up its forces from Eastern Europe and the former Baltic States to the Black Sea in an increasingly aggressive encirclement of Russia, this has become a major concern.

The anti-Russian hysteria that has been generated by the US corporate media—led by the New York Times—over an alleged Kremlin hand in the hacking of the Democratic Party and allegations that Donald Trump is “dupe” of Putin is entirely bound up with these war preparations.

The emergence of divisions between the military and the Obama administration over the Syria agreement with Moscow constitute an urgent warning that the danger of far bloodier wars and even a nuclear conflagration are steadily growing.

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News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent of the global supply of commercial seeds and pesticides. Bayer’s crop chemicals business is the world’s second largest after Syngenta, and Monsanto is the leading commercial seeds business.

Monsanto held a 26 per cent market share of all seeds sold in 2011. Bayer (mainly a pharmaceuticals company) sells 17 per cent of the world’s total agrochemicals and also has a comparatively small seeds sector. If competition authorities pass the deal, the combined company would be the globe’s largest seller of both seeds and agrochemicals.

The deal marks a trend towards consolidation in the industry with Dow and DuPont having agreed to merge and Swiss seed/pesticide giant Syngenta merging with ChemChina, a Chinese government concern.

The mergers would mean that three companies would dominate the commercial agricultural seeds and chemicals sector, down from six – Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont. Prior to the mergers, these six firms controlled 60 per cent of commercial seed and more than 75 per cent of agrochemical markets.

Alarm bells are ringing with the European Commission putting its approval of the Dow-DuPont deal temporarily on hold, and the US Senate Judiciary Committee is about to hold hearings on the deal due to concerns about consolidation in the industry, which has resulted in increased seed and pesticide prices.

In response to the Monsanto-Bayer merger, US National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“Consolidation of this magnitude cannot be the standard for agriculture, nor should we allow it to determine the landscape for our future. The merger between Bayer and Monsanto marks the fifth major deal in agriculture in the last year… For the last several days, our family farm and ranch members have been on Capitol Hill asking Members of Congress to conduct hearings to review the staggering amount of pending merger deals in agriculture today. We will continue to express concern that these megadeals are being made to benefit the corporate boardrooms at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural economies. We are pleased that next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will be reviewing the alarming trend of consolidation in agriculture that has led to less competition, stifled innovation, higher prices and job loss in rural America… all mergers, including this recent Bayer/Monsanto deal, [should] be put under the magnifying glass of the committee and the U.S. Department of Justice.”

For all the rhetoric that we often hear about ‘the market’ and large corporations offering choice to farmers and consumers, the evidence is restriction of choice and the squeezing out of competitors. Over the years, for instance, Monsanto has bought up dozens of competitors to become the largest supplier of genetically engineered seeds with seed prices having risen dramatically.

Consolidation and monopoly in any sector should be of concern to everyone. But the fact that the large agribusiness conglomerates specialise in a globalised, industrial-scale, chemical-intensive model of farming that is adversely affecting what we eat should have us very concerned. Do we want this system to be intensified even further just because their business models depend on it?

Farmers are increasingly reliant on patented corporate seeds, whether non-GM hybrid seeds or GM, and the chemical inputs designed to be used with them. Monsanto seed traits are now in 80 per cent of corn and more than 90 per cent of soybeans grown in the US. It comes as little surprise then that people in the US now consume a largely corn-based diet: a less diverse diet than in the past, which is high in calorific value, but low in health-promoting, nutrient dense food. This health-damaging ‘American obesity diet’ and the agricultural practices underpinning is now a global phenomenon.

By its very nature, the capitalist economic model that corporate agriculture is attached to demands expansion, market capture and profit growth. And, it must be accepted that it does bring certain benefits to those farmers who have remained in agriculture (if not for the 330 farmers who leave their land every week, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service).

But in the US, ‘success’ in agriculture depends on over $51 billion of taxpayer handouts to over a 10-year period to keep the gravy train on track for a particular system of agriculture designed to maintain corporate agribusiness profit margins. And such ‘success’ fails to factor in all of the external social, health and environmental costs that mean this type of model is ultimately unsustainable. It is easy to spin failure as success when the parameters are narrowly defined.

Moreover, the exporting of the Green Revolution paradigm throughout the globe has been a boon to transnational seed and agrochemical manufacturers, which have benefited from undermining a healthy, sustainable indigenous agriculture and transforming it into a profitable enterprise for global capital.

And not just profitable for global capital – but its company managers too. For example, a few months ago, according to Reuters, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant could receive more than $70 million if Monsanto were to be taken over by Bayer. At the time, Monsanto said it was open to engaging in further negotiations with Bayer after turning down its $62 billion bid. The report shows how Grant’s exposure to shares and options meant he had an incentive to hold out for the highest possible sale price, which would not only be in the interests of shareholders but also increase the value of his holdings. Other senior figures within Monsanto would also walk away with massive financial gains.

These corporate managers belong to a global agribusiness sector whose major companies rank among the Fortune 500 corporations. These companies are high-rollers in a geo-politicised, globalised system of food production whereby huge company profits are directly linked to the worldwide eradication of the small farm – the bedrock of global food production,  bad food and poor healthinequitable, rigged tradeenvironmental devastation, mono-cropping and diminished food and diet diversity, the destruction of rural communities, ecocidedegraded soilwater scarcity and droughtdestructive and inappropriate models of development and farmers who live a knife-edge existence and for whom debt has become a fact of life.

A handful of powerful and politically connected corporations are determining what is grown, how it is to be grown, what needs to be done to grow it, who grows it and what ends up on the plate. And despite PR platitudes about the GMO/chemical-intensive model just being part of a wider mix of farming practices designed to feed humanity, from India to Africaindigenous models of agriculture are being squeezed out (through false argument and deception) as corporate imperialism puts pay to notions of food sovereignty.

We should be highly concerned about a food system increasingly dominated by companies that have a history (seethis on Monsanto and this on Bayer) of releasing health-damaging, environmentally polluting products onto the market and engaging in bribery, cover-ups, monopolistic practices and what should be considered as crimes against humanity?

Despite the likes of Hugh Grant saying the Monsanto-Bayer merger will be good for farmers and “broader society”, most of all it will be good for shareholders and taxpayer-subsidised, state-assisted company profit. That’s the type of hegemonic rhetoric that’s been used down the ages to disguise the true nature of power and its beneficiaries.

It’s not so much the Monsanto-Bayer deal is a move in the wrong direction (which it is), but increasing consolidation is to be expected given the trend in many key sectors toward monopoly capitalism or just plain cartelism, whichever way you choose to look at it. It’s the system of industrialised, capital-intensive agriculture wedded to powerful players whose interests lie in perpetuating and extending their neoliberal economic model that is the real problem.

“We have justified the demise of family farms, decay of rural communities, pollution of the rural environment, and degradation of soil health as being necessary… The problems we are facing today are the consequence of too many people… pursuing their narrow self-interests without considering the consequence of their actions on the rest of society and the future of humanity.” Professor John Ikerd, ‘Healthy Soils, Healthy People

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference on Tuesday that the US-led international coalition is ‘relucant’ to strike Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Nusra Front/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) targets in Syria. He added that the status of terrorist group will be discussed with Washington.

“I have no reason not to trust [US Secretary of State] John Kerry, but what we see on the ground [in Syria] is that the coalition is very reluctant to strike the positions of the Nusra Front,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov added that there is an evidence that many of powers in Syrian confllict have been increasingly viewing Jabhat Al Nusra ( a new brand – Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) as a “force which should be preserved to facilitate the change of the regime in Syria” and calling for it to be legalized.

“This is a topic for a very serious discussion with our American partners,” the Russian minister added.

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It is August 30. I’m in Anchorage, Alaska, and it’s hot. Very hot. In fact, it’s the fourth straight day of record high temperatures, amidst a year that has seen record high temperatures becoming normalized across the entire state.

Two days ago, this city (the most populous in Alaska) saw a record high temperature of 78 degrees, which beat the previous record by a whopping seven degrees.

Last night, I returned here from a trip with the US Geological Survey (USGS), during which we measured the Gulkana Glacier in the Eastern Alaska Range. Almost needless to say, the glacier, like thousands across this northernmost state, is melting rapidly and is in full retreat.

I asked one of the USGS researchers studying this glacier to share his feelings about what is happening to the glaciers in his home state of Alaska.

Climate Disruption Dispatches“You see stuff and it’s hard to believe it sometimes,” Shad O’Neel, a USGS research geophysicist says as we sit talking in a meeting room at the USGS office complex in Anchorage. “The scale that is happening, like hiking into Gulkana [Glacier], the stream you follow up to it, it branches into two before you get to the glacier.”

As we talk, we are both cognizant of the fact that it is warming rapidly outside, and the forecast is for more of the same.

“When I was in grad school, the terminus of the glacier was at that river branch, which is now one kilometer from the terminus,” he says. “Last year I was there, and I realized it wasn’t that long ago I was in school, and now look at how much ice is just gone. It’s a lot of ice. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how fast it has been happening just in the past few years.”

He pauses, then says, “There was a while when it was warmer but the glaciers hadn’t quite responded yet, but now we’re really seeing the change in them, and it’s accelerating.”

It has been amazing and disturbing to be in Alaska for much of the summer as one record after another is broken. The contrast between spending time on glaciers, on Denali (the highest mountain peak in North America) and in some of the most remote areas of the state wilderness — bearing witness to the grandeur of nature — and then coming back to Anchorage between each trip to read about record temperatures has been heartbreaking. But I know the reports are true: I’ve seen firsthand the glaciers retreating so quickly that even the glaciologists here are shaking their heads.

Anchorage, at the time of this writing, had seen a record 77-day run of higher-than-previous temperatures, with its low temperatures all at or above 50 degrees. This shattered the previous such record of 53 days, which was just set three years prior.

Anchorage-based National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Wegman told the Anchorage Dispatch News of these phenomena, “The top four (low-temperature runs) were in the last four years. These are very late to be having temperatures this high.”

He went on to predict, “We’re going to be around record territory for quite a while yet.”

The march of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) across Alaska and the rest of the Arctic is glaringly apparent.

The author holds a glacier survey stake on Alaska's Gulkana Glacier. The stake was placed in April, at which time the tip of the stake was just inches below the surface of the snowpack. The snowpack is gone, along with roughly three feet of glacial ice. (Photo: Louis Sass)Image: The author holds a glacier survey stake on Alaska’s Gulkana Glacier. The stake was placed in April, at which time the tip of the stake was just inches below the surface of the snowpack. The snowpack is gone, along with roughly three feet of glacial ice. (Photo: Louis Sass)

The most detailed study to date shows that Arctic sea ice-melt over the last 20 years is “unprecedented” and “enormously outside the bounds of natural variability.” Julienne Stroeve with the US National Snow and Ice Data Center said that the Arctic sea ice has not been at levels as low as it is today for at least 5,000 to 7,000 years.Stroeve noted, “Some other studies have suggested at least 800,000 years.”

“Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice,” Dr. Peter Wadhams, who has spent his entire scientific career involved in dozens of trips to study the Arctic,told The Guardian recently. Wadhams, who was one of the very first scientists to warn that the thick Arctic icecap was beginning to thin, directed the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge from 1987 to 1992, and has been a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge since 2001.

Meanwhile, capitalizing on the disaster afflicting the Arctic (and the planet), a luxurycruise ship set sail from Seward, Alaska in late August en route to New York, via the Arctic. Upwards of 1,700 passengers and crew are, as you read this, riding aboard the “Crystal Serenity,” with passengers paying from $22,000 per person for the trip, with some paying in the six-figure range. Those prices do not include helicopter rides or excursions onto the melting Greenland Ice Sheet, which will also be offered. The ship that is making its way through the fragile Arctic is 820 feet long with 13 decks, 535 staterooms, multiple swimming pools, a movie theater, a driving range and putting green, a casino, a spa, fitness center, hair salon and 24-hour room service.

The boat sold out quickly, and the company is already well into the planning of a second journey.

The tropics aren’t faring any better than the Arctic, in the climate department.

recent report showed that the carbon pledges made by 178 countries in Paris last December won’t be nearly enough to save most tropical coral reefs and cloud forests, let alone preventing mass global extinctions.

Every day now brings us further into uncharted territory.

The Gulkana Glacier in the Eastern Alaska Range is melting and retreating rapidly. US Geological Survey glaciologists told Truthout they expect this year to be among the top three highest-melt years for the glacier, which has been studied every year for the last 60 years. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Image: The Gulkana Glacier in the Eastern Alaska Range is melting and retreating rapidly. US Geological Survey glaciologists told Truthout they expect this year to be among the top three highest-melt years for the glacier, which has been studied every year for the last 60 years. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Earth

recent study published in Scientific Reports showed that ACD is going to cause beaches to become saltier, which will likely lead to significant changes for birds, crabs and other creatures living on coasts.

Shocking news recently emerged from India, where over a quarter of that country’s land is turning into desert thanks largely to ACD, according to a recently published study.

In the Western US, the American pika is vanishing across many mountain areas due to ACD, altering the habitat of the rabbit-like mammal according to recently released USGS findings. For example, in northeastern California, pikas were only found in 11 of 29 sites where they once lived.

In Scotland, a conservation group recently announced that rare mountain plants in the Scottish highlands are disappearing at an “alarming rate” and facing possible extinction due to ACD.

Back in Alaska, the city of Shishmaref — which is located on an island that is being rapidly eroded by rising seas, melting permafrost and intensified storms — has voted to relocate due to ACD. There are at least 31 other Alaskan Native villages threatened by ACD, which will eventually have to relocate as well.

Alaska, which has never had dog ticks before, is now threatened with exotic ticks,which have recently begun to establish themselves in the state. While researchers acknowledge that some of the ticks likely hitchhiked on dogs and humans, many of them did not. One variety, the American dog tick, transmits the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It can also secrete a toxin that causes tick paralysis, which can be fatal in both dogs and humans, according to the researchers.

Water

The massive “blob” of overheated water in the Eastern Pacific that has been afflicting marine life along the US West Coast and Alaska for the last several years, persists. It has now become just another example of a growing global phenomenon of oceanic “heat waves.” One has been impacting Australia recently as well.

Off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef recently experienced a massive coral bleaching event that killed off more than one-fifth of the reef.

Another recent report showed that ocean slime, composed of toxic algae blooms, is rapidly spreading across Earth as a result of warming ocean waters. The toxic algae is worsening dead zones and wiping out parts of the food chain for marine life, causing collapsing populations of sea lions, seals, various bird species and fish around the planet.

Meanwhile in the Arctic, fish populations are shifting rapidly as the sea ice dwindles. According to a recent report from the USGS and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), at least 20 different species have now found their way into Arctic waters that had previously never been found there. Additionally, another 63 species have changed their ranges from what they used to be.

recent study also showed that the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to melt extremely rapidly, losing the equivalent of 110 million Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water each year. In other words, 270 gigatons of ice have melted per year from 2011 to 2014. The study also showed that the melting in Greenland is continuing to accelerate with time.

Down in the Antarctic, a recent report showed that a massive rift is growing across the fragile Larsen C Ice Shelf. As the crack continues to spread at an accelerating rate, it threatens to release an iceberg the size of Delaware. More importantly, it will eventually destabilize an even larger area of ice, roughly the size of Scotland.

Back in the continental US, a massive fish kill in Yellowstone National Park caused authorities to close off a 183-mile portion of the river and its tributaries. The parasite that caused the die-off was helped along by the ACD-warmed river water.

Lastly, as the planet continues to warm and Canada experiences less and less snowfall, the country’s ski resorts are attempting to “weatherproof” themselves from the impacts of ACD. This means they will be offering other things to do aside from skiing and snowboarding in the winter — such as mountain biking, eco-tours and Iron Man competitions. Earlier this year, British Columbia’s world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb resort announced a $345 million plan to become “weather independent,” whatever that means.

Fire

Given that much of the Northern Hemisphere is in the warmest portion of summer of the hottest year on record (thus far), it should not come as a surprise that there is a preponderance of major wildfires.

In the US, record temperatures and an ongoing five-year-long drought across most of California caused one fire to burn well over 30,000 acres, forcing more than 82,000 people to evacuate.

More than 170 square miles, and counting, have been burned across California during this wildfire season alone.

recently published study shows that both California’s wildfire season and its air quality will be getting worse with time. The study outlines the obvious: Warmer temperatures and drought across California are expected to continue, hence setting the stage for more and larger wildfires, which will bring far more smoke, ash and particulate.

Furthermore, according to the US Forest Service, there are at least 66 million dead trees located across 760,000 acres in the Southern Sierra Nevada, which are essentially a massive wildfire waiting to happen.

Air

NASA’s top climate scientist, Gavin Schmidt, who directs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, recently said that Earth is warming at a pace not seen for at least the past 1,000 years, which means it is “very unlikely” that global temperatures will stay below the 1.5C limit agreed to in Paris. “In the last 30 years, we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Schmidt told the Guardian US. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years.”

“Maintaining temperatures below the 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or coordinated geoengineering,” he added. “That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.”

While it has been discussed before, an international team of researchers recently stated that Earth has now been pushed into the Anthropocene epoch, due to ACD, the spread of plastics, and new metals and concrete. This is the first new geological epoch for the Earth in more than 11,500 years, and it is due to the intensely rapid industrialization of the planet over the course of the last century.

Denial and Reality

Willful ACD denial, while still alive and well in the fossil-fuel-funded political corridors of the US federal government, is currently taking a serious (and much-needed) attack.

recently released report by the environmental advocacy group Climate Investigations Center showed that at least 18 major companies have departed from the two primary coal lobbying groups, the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, since 2009. Some of those leaving are doing so because of the lobbying groups’ so-called climate science.

Other significant strides are being made on the reality front.

Across the Atlantic, The Netherlands could become the first country in the world to ban gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2025 if members of the Dutch Labour Party get their way. These politicians have put forth their proposal.

“We need to phase out CO2 emissions and we need to change our pattern of using fossil fuels if we want to save the Earth,” John Vos, a member of the Dutch Labour Party, told the Yale Climate Connection.

National Public Radio recently ran a story addressing the issue of overpopulation. The story features Travis Rieder, a philosopher with the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, who is visiting classrooms in order to encourage students to consider the ramifications of population growth during runaway ACD.

Considering the fact that there will be 240,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren’t there last night, and that we are adding the equivalent of a city the size of Houston to the planet every month, and a country the size of Egypt every year, Rieder is giving folks something to consider.

Meanwhile, another recently published study showed that anthropogenic greenhouse gases began to increase the Earth’s temperatures nearly two centuries ago when the Industrial Revolution began to pick up steam, thus challenging the widely held notion that ACD only began in the 20th century.

Another reality check came recently in the form of a striking piece in the Guardian, which outlined how national parks across the US are being utterly hammered by ACD.

“An NPS [National Park Service] study from 2014 found four in five of America’s national parks are now at the ‘extreme end’ of temperature variables charted since 1901,” the article reads. It goes on to quote Gregor Schuurman, an ecologist at the NPS climate change response program: “We are starting to see things spiral away now…. We are going to look back at this time and actually think it was a calm period. And then people will start asking questions about what we were doing about the situation.”

The article draws attention to several stark realities, including the fact that since 1968, the number of glaciers at Glacier National Park has fallen by half. Researchers predict that by the middle of the 21st century, if conditions remain similar, all of the park’s glaciers will be gone.

What will Glacier National Park be called when all of its glaciers have disappeared?

Sunset above the Gulkana Glacier, which, along with nearby pocket glaciers, is melting and receding abruptly. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Image: Sunset above the Gulkana Glacier, which, along with nearby pocket glaciers, is melting and receding abruptly. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Lastly, a recent report warned that we are already locked into far more planetary warming than most folks realize. Given that humans continue to inject over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually, and the fact that what is already there has us locked into (conservatively) another 1.5-3C of warming in the coming decades, the new climate reality is upon us.

After spending a summer traversing much of Alaska while doing climate disruption research, I know that Alaska is no longer the Alaska of American folklore. It’s also no longer the Alaska I knew 20 years ago. The glaciers are melting and receding at record paces, and the long, frigidly cold winters are no longer nearly as cold as they once were.

Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, is truly the canary in the proverbial coal mine. It is sending us a clear message: We are already living in a new world — a world definitively shaped by anthropogenic climate disruption.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

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US-election-2016

Cutting the Cords of Empire: The Spectacle of US Elections

By William Hawes, September 14 2016

“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.” -Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle It’s almost time for our quadrennial political distraction, masquerading as the US presidential election. As opposed to previous elections, this one feels quite different. Even with Obama/Romney in 2012, important, basic economic issues were discussed, health care reform was questioned, and foreign policy was given its due.

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Thwarting the “Zika Virus Threat” in America? Aerial Deployment of Dangerous Pesticides

By James F. Tracy, September 14 2016

Major Western news media’s coverage of the alleged dangers posed by the Zika virus and “preventative” measures mandated by overreaching federal agencies is a textbook example of censorship by omission, intentional oversight of facts, and deference to questionable “expert” authority to assuage valid public concern over aerial deployment of dangerous pesticides.

Dick Cheney, Vice-President of the United States of America

Another 9/11 Intrigue: Dick Cheney, John Yoo, and “Continuity in Government” (COG) Measures on 9/11

By Prof Peter Dale Scott, September 14 2016

In 1993 I wrote a book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, in which I said at the outset I was not going to try to solve the mystery of JFK’s murder but to examine the politics of it. I wish to argue here for similar research into the politics of 9/11. For the political consequences of 9/11 have been toxic, regardless of how the towers fell or who was responsible. The unusual process of their implementation deserves close study, a study which I believe will cast more light on 9/11 itself.

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Israel’s Bogus Civil War

By Jonathan Cook, September 14 2016

Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Israeli commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply riven over the future of the occupation? On one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead.

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Washington’s “Failure” in Syria Is Not About Strategy. Washington and Ankara Have Consistently Supported Al Qaeda, ISIS

By Federico Pieraccini, September 14 2016

So much has been said about the Syrian conflict in numerous analyses, yet one of the least discussed topics concerns the strategy and the relationship of cooperation and conflict between the United States, Turkey, the Kurds and Daesh. From the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Washington and Ankara have never hesitated to exploit Daesh’s advances. The occupation of Syrian towns near the Turkish border by Islamic extremists has been one of the preferred tactics endorsed by the United States and Turkey.

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