In December 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev signed the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. On October 21, 2018, President Donald Trump announced at a rally that the United States would formally withdraw from the agreement, claiming that Russia had violated the treaty’s terms.

Withdrawing would turn back the clock to a dangerous era that put the United States and Russia on the brink of nuclear war. This ill-advised move could fuel a new arms race and ignite another Cold War, or worse. The Kremlin has already hinted that it’s prepared to develop new weapons to “restore balance in this sphere.”

A U.S. withdrawal would also undo critical progress to reduce nuclear arms proliferation. And with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) Treaty scheduled to expire in 2021, if the INF Treaty collapses, there will be no international agreements in effect to limit the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world from getting even larger — and possibly using what they’ve got.

It’s important to note why the INF Treaty was negotiated in the first place.

In the 1970s, the Soviets developed and began deploying a new “intermediate range” nuclear missile that threatened Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Alaska. The United States responded by deploying “Pershing II” missiles to Germany and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles to several NATO nations in Europe. The Soviet SS-20 and American Pershing II ballistic missiles would have been particularly destabilizing in a crisis by virtue of their short, six- to eleven-minute flight times to target.

Recognizing the danger, U.S. and Soviet leaders agreed upon the INF Treaty, which prohibited the entire class of ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear weapons. The INF entered into force in 1988, and since then 2,692 missiles have been verifiably removed or destroyed.

The INF contributed to the end of the Cold War and played a significant role in reducing the global arms race. The INF also opened the door for other historic nuclear disarmament treaties to be pursued through diplomatic channels. If the United States unilaterally withdrew from the INF, it would set a dangerous and woefully irresponsible precedent for all nuclear-armed nations to renege on their disarmament responsibilities.

In a statement responding to the president’s announcement, the European Union declared, “The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability.”

They’re not alone. In the days since Trump’s announcement, foreign policy experts, diplomats, former U.S. government officials, and even leaders of other nations have spoken out in opposition to the proposed United States withdrawal from the treaty. Even Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, has weighed in.

The United States must negotiate with all nuclear-armed countries for total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. In the meantime, it is critical that the INF remain in force, with both parties fully and demonstrably adhering to the terms of this vital international agreement.

If the Trump administration continues along its present foolhardy course, then Congress should use the power of the purse and refuse to fund anything that would support new intermediate-range weapons.

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Martin Fleck is the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, www.psr.org.

Featured image is from Shutterstock.


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

In January 2017, Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Those wines are sold in Canada bearing labels which falsely proclaim them to be “Product of Israel”. As such, they plainly violate Canadian law, including section 5 of the Food and Drugs Act and section 7 of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

Dr. Kattenburg, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, reminded the CFIA that the Canadian government itself declares Israel’s settlements to be on occupied Palestinian territory and therefore a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is beyond reasonable dispute that those settlements form no part of Israel. As stated on the website of Global Affairs Canada:

Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…

Canada recognizes Israel’s right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including through the restriction of access to its territory, and by building a barrier on its own territory for security purposes. However, Canada opposes Israel’s construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are occupied territories. This construction is contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Canada not only opposes Israel’s construction of a barrier extending into the occupied territories, but also expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure carried out for this purpose.

After months of careful consideration by at least seven CFIA analysts, including five specialists and a senior compliance officer, CFIA staff properly concluded that the wines violated Canadian law and that Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint was well-founded.

The CFIA then instructed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to remove the wines from the shelves of LCBO vendors until a proper action plan for rectifying the false labels had been formulated and implemented.

On July 12, 2017 – before Dr. Kattenburg himself was apprised of the CFIA’s decision – the main pro-Israel lobby groups in Canada somehow learned of the CFIA’s ‘disturbing’ decision and intensely lobbied the Canadian government to reverse it. They relied on article 1.4.1b of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), an obscure provision that has nothing to do with product labelling. Nonetheless, the Canadian government quickly capitulated to the lobby’s demands and pressured the CFIA’s president into reversing his staff’s carefully considered decision.

Less than 24 hours after the lobby attacked the CFIA’s decision, the CFIA announced that it had reversed itself on the basis of “further clarification” of article 1.4.1(b), which CFIA staff had already considered before rendering its initial decision that the labels on these settlement wines violated Canadian law.

Canada’s pro-Israel lobby was aided in its efforts to circumvent Canadian law by Liberal MP Michael Levitt, the Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. On the day of the CFIA’s self-reversal, Levitt issued a statement in which he boasted about his advocacy for Israel and professed to have been “shocked and deeply concerned” by the CFIA’s enforcement of Canadian law.

Shortly after the CFIA’s lightening-speed self-reversal, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Michael Levitt celebrated their victory for injustice by travelling to the illegal Psagot settlement in the West Bank and visiting one of the wineries that is the subject of Dr. Kattenburg’s complaint.

In October 2017, I commenced a judicial review application in the Federal Court of Canada on Dr. Kattenburg’s behalf. Dr. Kattenburg is asking the court to declare unlawful the CFIA’s decision to allow these wines to be sold in Canada bearing false “Product of Israel” labels. Dr. Kattenburg’s application is scheduled to be heard in the Toronto courthouse of the Federal Court on May 21 and 22, 2019.

On November 2, 2018, I filed with the Federal Court a copy of Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law in support of his application. A complete copy of the Memorandum can be viewed at the end of this post.

Dr. Kattenburg stands to gain nothing from his extraordinary efforts to ensure that the Canadian government enforces Canadian law. As stated in his Memorandum of Fact and Law, he has commenced this legal proceeding “to help ensure respect for Canada’s consumer protection and product labelling laws, to help ensure that he and other Canadian wine consumers be provided truthful and accurate information about the wine products that they purchase and consume, and to ensure both Canada’s and Israel’s respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.” Although I am acting for Dr. Kattenburg on a pro bono basis, this legal proceeding requires him to incur significant expenses. We encourage you to help Dr. Kattemnburg to shoulder these expenses by contributing to his gofundme campaign here.

Here is Dr. Kattenburg’s Memorandum of Fact and Law, filed with the Federal Court of Canada on November 2, 2018.

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Featured image is from the GoFundMe Campaign of Dr. Kattenburg.

Your Kid’s Vaccines May Actually be Making Them Sick…

November 5th, 2018 by Dr. Gary G. Kohls

Thousands of children are silently being poisoned by deadly toxins in government-mandated vaccinations — many without showing any immediate symptoms…

Among the many vaccine-induced chronic illnesses are these disorders:

1) Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA) – a recent syndrome that most American physicians are (perhaps willfully[?]) unfamiliar with;

2) autoimmune disorders;

3) autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including Asperger’s and autism;

4)  the so-called ADHD;

5) allergies;

6) dementia;

7) mental retardation;

8) speech delays;

9) learning disorders;

10) epilepsy;

11) chronic abdominal pain/diarrhea; etc, etc.

That list is actually a short one.

Periodically injecting cocktails of toxic substances such as mercury, aluminum, live viruses, formaldehyde, chicken egg albumin, squalene, glutamate, DNA fragments, etc, into the muscles of unaware, innocent babies and adults puts them all at risk of being diagnosed with vaccine-induced brain disorders including, much later in life, Alzheimer’s disease. (The chronic use of neurotoxic prescription drugs [especially psychiatric drugs] is also a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s especially when vaccines are also periodically injected.)

One of the major problems with infant vaccines is that they are mandated (!) to be given to infants and young children in cocktails of hyperimmunity- and/or autoimmunity-inducing and potentially brain-damaging vaccines and brain-damaging prescription drugs.

Injecting combination cocktails of toxic vaccine ingredients simultaneously has never been proven to be safe or effective long-term, even in the animal lab. That reality should \anger every parent of a chronically ill, fully-vaccinated child who may have been made ill when their child was given 8 antigens all at once! And it should anger (and embarrass) every vaccine-administering physician that wasn’t aware of those dangers.

Indeed, even the injection of such toxic substances in single doses has been proven to cause cellular damage and death in the animal labs, especially involving the brain. And yet America’s over-vaccination agendas have been promoted since the mid-1980s by the Big Pharma cartels whose industry-paid and employed, indentured “scientists” invented all the highly-profitable vaccines and then sold them to the public and the medical profession.

The list of corporate actors includes several Big Pharma giants in collaboration with America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America’s Food and Drug Administration [FDA], Big Medicine, America’s American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) etc.

Watch the video below.

Source: Vaccines Revealed

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Many technologies have dual use potential and can be applied to either civilian or defense projects, depending on the intent of those in charge.

German rocket technology led to the creation of V2 ballistic missiles in WW2 and later enabled the US to launch space exploration missions in the latter half of the 20th century. The technology also helped the US develop its own ballistic missile program.

Nowadays, US scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are working on a project called Insect Allies which will use insects to infect crops with genetically modified viruses that edit the crops’ genetic profile to make them more resilient against disease, as well as natural and manufactured threats to the food supply. It is not clear how the insects’ flight paths would be controlled to ensure they only infect designated targets.

DARPA is administered by the US Department of Defense and was founded after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957. The agency published a communiqué asserting that the program has no sinister intentions and seeks to “provide new capabilities to protect the United States, specifically the ability to respond rapidly to threats to the food supply”.

DARPA provided reassurances after German and French scientists voiced questions and concerns about the program’s efficacy earlier this month and suggested that it could be “widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery, which—if true—would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention”.

If the know-how and means exist to transmit genetic viruses that supposedly create beneficial crop mutations, the opposite will also be possible – using insects to deliver gene editing viruses that destroy crops, ruin harvests and adversely affect the wider ecosystem.

Another project receiving DARPA funding involves releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys area to transmit a sterilizing genetic virus to their malaria carrying counterparts. Apart from the unknown effects upon the wider ecosystem, the knowledge gleaned from such research could one day make it possible for a state, a non-state actor, or a non-state actor working on behalf of a state to accidentally or deliberately use insect vectors to unleash a variety of biological agents and genetic viruses upon an unsuspecting population.

Gene editing technology has also made it possible for eradicated viruses to be brought back from the dead. Last year Canadian scientists managed to synthesize the horsepox virus, believed to be extinct and harmless to humans, at a cost of only $100,000 leading to fears that the same techniques can be employed to recreate other members of the poxvirus family, such as the extinct but deadly smallpox virus that killed 300 million people in the last century alone.

Although still within the realm of dystopian science fiction, the techniques to reconstitute extinct viruses from DNA fragments or spread viruses that mutate plant DNA may one day be refined to enable the creation of viruses designed to target members of a particular ethnic group. Curiously, last year the US Air Force was seeking to obtain genetic and tissue samples that are “collected from Russia and must be Caucasian” and would “not consider tissue samples from Ukraine.”

It is unclear why the US Air Force requires Russian genetic material and there is no evidence indicating malicious intent. However, one cannot discount concerns raised at the highest echelons of the Russian government about what appears to be a plan to collect vast quantities of genetic material from Russian citizens for unknown purposes.

Whilst chairing a meeting of Russia’s Human Rights Council last year President Putin stated:

“… do you know that biological material is being collected all over the country, from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical regions of the Russian Federation? The question is – why is it being done? It’s being done purposefully and professionally. We are a kind of object of great interest.”

There may be a benign explanation for the above but it is not forthcoming. The knowledge obtained from civilian projects can be modified to have military applications, even if the age of biogenetic warfare is some years away. Although the US government might not officially sanction the creation of a biogenetic weapon, it is unlikely to have complete oversight of the entirety of its vast military-intelligence apparatus and the unfathomable deep state. The knowledge to create such a weapon could also spread from a state to a non-state actor tasked with carrying out the dirty work.

Although the US empire is in steady decline, it remains strong and will continue playing a major role on the world stage for some years to come. However, nations such as Russia and China are in the ascendant and have already ensured that the 21st century will be defined by a multipolar world rather than the Project for the New American Century.

In recent years, Russia has put in check a number of US plans which included setting up a NATO base in Crimea, destabilizing Russia’s neighbors and turning Syria into a rogue state run by terrorists. A small number of immensely wealthy and powerful individuals, as well as allies Israel and Saudi Arabia whose fates are intertwined with that of the US, have everything to lose and will pull out all stops to delay the decline of American hegemony and its inevitable consignment to the dustbin of history.

The US and its closest allies have frequently demonstrated they have no misgivings and few red-lines when it comes to committing the worst human rights abuses in the interests of money and power. The urge to use a biogenetic weapon to incapacitate a rising competitor may one day prove too much of a temptation to ignore.

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This article was originally published on RT.

Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT’s Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen’s Kalima Horra.

Featured image is from Global Look Press/Alexander Heinl

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened the global financial messaging service SWIFT on Friday that it could be penalized if it doesn’t cut off financial services to entities and individuals doing business with Iran. The warning came just days ahead of the US re-imposition of all US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, which will take effect at midnight tonight and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors.

Speaking to reporters, Mnuchin was quoted by Reuters as saying that

“SWIFT is no different than any other entity,” adding “We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”

The Trump administration has been pressuring allies to cut Iranian oil imports to “zero” next month although on Friday the US agreed to grant exemptions to 8 countries that import Iran oil; the countries include Japan, India, and South Korea according to Bloomberg. China, the leading importers of Iranian oil remains in discussions with the US on terms but is among the eight, as is Turkey which will likely receive an exemption, the country’s energy minister said on Friday. The full list of countries receiving waivers will be released on Monday.

By cutting Iran off from SWIFT, Iran would lose its ability to be paid for its exports and to pay for imports. Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut Iran from the financial system as it did in 2012 before the nuclear deal. Six years ago the EU imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, forcing SWIFT, which is subject to EU laws, to cut financial transactions with at least 30 of Iran’s financial institutions, including the central bank.

Iranian banks were reconnected to the network in 2016 after the Iran nuclear deal came into force, allowing much needed foreign cash to flow into Tehran’s coffers.

While SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which is a financial network that provides cross-border transfers for members across the world, is based in Belgium, its board includes executives from US banks with US federal law allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe. It supports most interbank messages, connecting over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories.

Washington’s pressure has pushed Brussels to look at creating a SWIFT alternative. As we reported at the time, in August German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the EU to set up an independent equivalent of the system. Later, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini confirmed that the bloc’s signatories remain committed to the nuclear deal with Iran and are working to create special payment channels to do business with the Islamic Republic. That proposal stalled in Brussels and major European firms left Iran.

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Whether with or without SWIFT’s involvement, Iranians are bracing for the full force of US sanctions due to hit on Monday. The new sanctions, which also aim to cut off Iran’s banking sector from the global market, are timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1979 storming by Iranian revolutionaries of the US embassy in Tehran, when angry students took 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

Iran has remained defiant, saying it is confident it can weather the impacts, and that the US will fail to bring down Iranian oil imports to zero.

On Friday, President Trump announced the reimposition of sanctions by tweeting on Friday a photograph of himself in the style of an advertisement for the Game of Thrones series, with the tagline: “Sanctions Are Coming, November 5” (much to the chagrin of HBO).

The office of Iran’s Quds force commander, Qassem Soleimani, retaliated by posting a photo of himself in a similar style alongside the tagline: “I will stand against you.”

But ordinary people, wary of the fluctuations of the currency and the rising prices of goods, are anxious. On Sunday, a state-organised rally took place in front of the former US embassy compound in central Tehran to mark the anniversary. The crowd held placards reading “Down with USA”, and “Down with Israel”, while others set US and Israeli flags on fire.

“Never threaten the Iranian people,” Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s elite revolutionary guards told people gathering in front of the former embassy, officially referred to as a “den of spies”. “Do not make military threats against us, and do not frighten us with military threats,” he added.

Iran is also relying on European support: as noted above, the EU has set up a mechanism – known as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) – to sidestep US sanctions and persuade an increasingly reluctant Iran to stay inside the deal in the hope of rescuing its economy. It is unclear if Europe will be willing to actually activate this “SWIFT-alternative”, however, in light of Mnuchin’s threats.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reacting to Trump’s threats on Saturday, said America’s power was in decline.

“The US’s goal in imposing sanctions is to paralyze and prevent the growth of national economy; but it resulted in a movement towards self-sufficiency in Iran,” he said.

Inside Iran, however, people are on tenterhooks. Economic grievances were a trigger for a wave of nationwide protests in recent months over the scarcity of the US dollar, unpaid wages and rising prices.

“Nov 5th isn’t the most pivotal moment in this saga,” said Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group told the Guardian. “Paradoxically, if sanctions prove as effective as the White House is hoping for, they are bound to push Iran to either revive its nuclear program or become more aggressive in the region. Both will significantly increase the risks of a military confrontation.”

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All images in this article are from Zero Hedge.

Debunking the Real 9/11 Myths

November 5th, 2018 by Adam Taylor

This Article was first published by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth in 2012

A decade has passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and many people feel that we have still not had a real investigation into what really happened that day.

Indeed, a growing number of citizens believe that the probe into the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) was at best incomplete and at worst fraudulent. These critics include the 1,600-plus architects and engineers who have signed the AE911Truth petition demanding an unbiased, independent investigation into the attacks.

By contrast, Popular Mechanics (PM) has been the primary cheerleader in the mainstream media defending the NIST reports ever since its book, Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up To the Facts, was published in 2006.

For the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, PM put out a second version of its book, which it updated in an attempt to dismiss new findings that corroborate the controlled demolition hypothesis. The main revisions concern the collapse of the Twin Towers and World Trade Center 7.

pop mech mag book v4 768

The revised version of Popular Mechanics’ book Debunking 9/11 Myths, far right, continues to defend myths that are scientifically impossible.

Our 10-part series, which starts with Part 1 today, demonstrates that PM has still not adequately explained the numerous anomalies surrounding the collapse of the Twin Towers (WTC 1 and 2) and WTC 7—anomalies that prove the structures were destroyed with explosives.

World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2

The introduction to PM’s chapter on the collapse of the Twin Towers briefly discusses the main theory put forward by members of the 9/11 Truth Movement: “The buildings were brought down intentionally—not by hijacked airplanes, but by government-planted bombs or a controlled demolition” (pg. 28).

PM then goes on to give a few examples of people promoting this theory. One of the people they cite is a Danish writer named Henrik Melvang, who, according to PM, “markets his book and video claiming the Apollo moon landings were a hoax” (pg. 28). This is obviously an attempt on PM’s part to portray those who question the collapse of the Towers as conspiracy theorists who have irrational beliefs.

PM also cites Morgan Reynolds, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor during President George Bush’s first term, as someone who believes that the three WTC towers were destroyed through controlled demolition.

We must ask ourselves why PM would choose to cite these people as examples of those who question the cause of the collapse of the Towers. Why didn’t the book cite anyone with experience in the fields of engineering and building construction? According to PM, it’s because the 9/11 Truth Movement doesn’t have any technical credentials. In its 2011 book, PM writes:

Though Reynolds and a handful of other skeptics cite academic credentials to lend credence to their views, not one of the leading conspiracy theorists has a background in engineering, construction, or related fields (pg. 28-29).

This statement is by far one of the most off-the-mark passages in PM’s book. One need only look at what most consider the lead organization in the 9/11 Truth community, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, to see that there are currently over 1,600 professional architects and engineers with backgrounds in engineering, architecture, and building construction who question the destruction of the three WTC high-rises. How can PM possibly have omitted mention of more than a thousand experts who all contend that the Twin Towers and WTC 7 were brought down with explosives? In PM’s entire 216-page book, there is not a single mention made of AE911Truth or its founder, architect Richard Gage.

When one looks back at their 2006 book, we can see that this exact same statement appears on the exact same pages. This fact shows how PM has decided to structure their new book: i.e., update it only where it benefits them. As we will see, this tactic is used more than once in PM’s grossly flawed book.

1.1 The Empire State Building Accident

PM discusses the incident in 1945 when a B-25 bomber lost in the fog crashed into the side of the Empire State Building. They claim that “some conspiracy theorists point to [this incident] as proof that commercial planes hitting the World Trade Center could not bring down the towers” (pg. 29).

To counter this assertion, PM compares the construction of the Towers to the construction of the Empire State Building, calling the former structures “in some ways more fragile” (pg. 30).

They also quote structural engineer Jon Magnusson, who says, “These structures look massive, but they’re mostly air. They are air, punctuated with thin layers of concrete and steel” (pg. 30).

While it is true that the Towers were mostly empty space by volume, this is the case with any large skyscraper. The idea that they were in some way less structurally sound than the Empire State Building is contradicted by a variety of technical sources, including this telegram written by Richard Roth, partner at Emery Roth & Sons, which was the architectural firm that designed the Twin Towers:

THE STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS CARRIED OUT BY THE FIRM OF WORTHINGTON, SKILLING, HELLE & JACKSON IS THE MOST COMPLETE AND DETAILED OF ANY EVER MADE FOR ANY BUILDING STRUCTURE. THE PRELIMINARY CALCULATIONS ALONE COVER 1,200 PAGES AND INVOLVE OVER 100 DETAILED DRAWINGS.

4. BECAUSE OF ITS CONFIGURATION, WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY THAT OF A STEEL BEAM 209′ DEEP, THE TOWERS ARE ACTUALLY FAR LESS DARING STRUCTURALLY THAN A CONVENTIONAL BUILDING SUCH AS THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDINGWHERE THE SPINE OR BRACED AREA OF THE BUILDING IS FAR SMALLER IN RELATION TO ITS HEIGHT.

5. THE BUILDING AS DESIGNED IS SIXTEEN TIMES STIFFER THAN A CONVENTIONAL STRUCTURE. THE DESIGN CONCEPT IS SO SOUND THAT THE STRUCTURAL ENGINEER HAS BEEN ABLE TO BE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE IN HIS DESIGN WITHOUT ADVERSELY AFFECTING THE ECONOMICS OF THE STRUCTURE.1

It is quite apparent that the Towers were extremely well built—and may have been even more structurally sound than the Empire State Building. Even supporters of the official conspiracy theory, such as Thomas Eager, praise the buildings’ structural integrity: “The towers withstood the initial impact of the aircraft. . . . [T]he buildings had more than 1,000 times the mass of the aircraft. . . . [T]his ability to withstand the initial impact is hardly surprising” [Eagar and Musso, JOM, 53 (12) (2001), pp. 8-11].

Next PM quotes WTC assistant structural engineer Leslie Robertson’s comment that the Towers were only designed to take the impact of a Boeing 707, but did not take into consideration the fires that would be produced by the jet fuel. After 9/11, Robertson noted, “I don’t know if we considered the fire damage that [a plane strike] would cause” (pg. 31).

However, someone evidently did consider that problem, and that someone was John Skilling, the original WTC lead engineer. When interviewed in 1993, Skilling told the Seattle Times:

“We looked at every possible thing we could think of that could happen to the buildings, even to the extent of an airplane hitting the side. . . . Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed. [But] the building structure would still be there.”2

Although PM mentions John Skilling briefly in their book, they make no mention of this statement from him. Apparently, PM felt no need to quote the lead WTC engineer on his views about the structural strength and stability of the Towers.

Interestingly, PM quotes a few sources who, after 9/11, claimed that the Towers were doomed once the planes impacted the buildings, yet virtually every engineering source quoted before9/11 said just the opposite.3

1.2 Widespread Damage

The next section of PM’s book deals mainly with the damage to the lobby floors of the Towers and mentions the assertion by the 9/11 Truth Movement that lobby destruction proves explosives were planted in the buildings. The argument that the PM book puts forward is different: It claims that the jet fuel from the planes traveled down through the elevator shafts and caused explosions that damaged the lobby.

WTC_tower_lobby

The walls and trees in the lobby of one of the Twin Towers show no evidence of being burned by a jet fuel fireball, which Popular Mechanics claims was the cause of an earlier explosion.

Although viewpoints differ within the 9/11 Truth Movement4 regarding the cause of these explosions, some features of the lobby damage indicate that they were not due to a fireball explosion from the jet fuel. For example, the white marble walls show no signs of being exposed to fire. Also, the plants next to the blown-out windows show no signs of having been burned.

And at least one explosives expert said he does not believe the damage was caused by the jet fuel traveling down the elevator shafts, based on the appearance of the lobby.5

Whether or not the lobby damage is indicative of explosives, however, is essentially irrelevant to the discussion of the Towers’ demolitions, since the collapse sequence started above the plane impact zone, not at the lower levels. The lobby damage is not necessary to prove the Twin Towers were destroyed by controlled demolition; there are far more obvious indicators of demolition that will be discussed later in this report. The fact that PM claims that the jet fuel travelled down the elevator shafts is actually more damaging to their case, for it shows that not all of the fuel from the planes contributed to the fires that allegedly brought the Towers down.6

This section of PM’s book also discusses the testimony of firefighter Louie Cacchioli, one of over one hundred first responders who said that there were bombs in the WTC. PM counters this by asserting that members of the 9/11 Truth Movement have taken his quotes out of context. Though Caccholi himself does not believe explosives were placed in the buildings, numerous quotes from firefighters and first responders strongly indicate that explosives were placed in the buildings.7

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Notes

1 Quoted from: City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center by James Glanz and Eric Lipton, pg. 134-136

2 Quoted from: Twin Towers Engineered To Withstand Jet Collision, The Seattle Times
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19930227&slug=1687698

3 For more information on the pre-9/11 claims about the Towers’ strength, see:
http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/analysis/design.html

4 The following links provide arguments against the lobby damage being caused by explosives:
http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/analysis/theories/basementbomb.html
http://911review.com/errors/wtc/preimpact.html
http://911review.com/errors/wtc/basementbombs.html
http://911research.wtc7.net/reviews/loose_change/wtc.html#rodriguez
http://911research.wtc7.net/reviews/911mysteries/index.html#precollapse_sub_basement_explosions

5 The following link provides arguments against the lobby damage being caused by a jet fuel fireball:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtEw4GA_hOg#t=11m24s

6 This paper provides detailed measurements for how much fuel actually remained on the impact floors, and shows that the amount in either Tower was actually quite small in relation to each Tower, much less a single floor:
http://www.journalof911studies.com/letters/e/VisualizationAidsWTCTowers.pdf

7 See: http://www.journalof911studies.com/articles/Article_5_118Witnesses_WorldTradeCenter.pdf

All images in this article are from ae911truth.org

An attempted break-in at Julian Assange’s residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Oct. 29, and the absence of a security detail, have increased fears about the safety of the WikiLeak’s publisher.

Lawyers for Assange have confirmed to activist and journalist Suzie Dawson that Assange was awoken in the early morning hours by the break-in attempt. They confirmed to Dawson that the attempt was to enter a front window of the embassy. A booby-trap Assange had set up woke him, the lawyers said.

There was a previous break-in attempt at the embassy in August 2016.

Scaffolding has appeared against the embassy building in the Knightsbridge section in London, which “obscures the embassy’s security cameras,” the lawyers said.

Scaffolding near balcony where Assange has appeared. (Sean O’Brien)

On the scaffolding electronic devices, presumably to conduct surveillance, can be seen, just feet from the embassy windows.

Later on the day of the break-in, Sean O’Brien, a lecturer at Yale University Law School and a cyber-security expert, was able to enter the embassy through the front door, which was left open. Inside he found no security present. Someone from the embassy emerged to tell him to send an email to set up an appointment with Assange. After emailing the embassy, personnel inside refused to check whether it had been received or not.

O’Brien then noticed more scaffolding being erected and observed the devices, which he photographed. Though a cyber-security expert, O’Brien said he could not identify what the devices are.

“I’ve never seen devices quite like this, and I take photos of surveillance equipment often,” O’Brien said. “There were curious plastic tubes with yellow-orange caps, zip-tied to the front.  I have no idea what these are but they seem to have equipment inside them.”

One of the apparent surveillance devices. (Sean O’Brien.)

The devices are pointed towards the embassy, where all the blinds were open, and not the street, he said.

“The surveillance devices in the photos reveals no manufacturer branding, serial numbers or visible device information,” Dawson said. “The combination of the obscuring of the street-facing surveillance cameras and the installation of surveillance equipment pointed into instead of away from the Embassy, is alarming.”

The Ecuadorean government had to have given permission for the devices to be installed as they are flush up against the embassy walls on government sovereign territory, Dawson said.

O’Brien said that previous visitors had described to him “closed and locked doors. Security guards manning the desk at all times. Privacy drapes, dark rooms with shuttered blinds. For such a reversal of position to have occurred, there is only one conclusion: the Ecuadorian Embassy is open for business. Wide open.”

Another device. (Sean O’Brien)

In May the Ecuadorian government of President Lenin Moreno shut off Assange’s electronic communications and denied him all visitors except his mother and his lawyers. Last month the government offered Assange a deal: his access to the world could be restored if he agreed not to comment on politics. Assange reportedly refused.

On Thursday the government suddenly barred all access to Assange visitors, including his legal team until next Monday, raising fears that no witnesses could be present should there be an attempt to abduct Assange over the weekend.

The break-in attempt last Monday occurred on the morning that Assange was due to testify via video-link to a court in Quito regarding Assange’s conditions of asylum. Technical problems interrupted Assange’s testimony.The court ruled against his lawyer’s petition for protections for Assange.

The new Ecuadorian government indicated in the Spring that Assange would eventually have to leave the embassy. Assange fears that if he leaves the British government will arrest him on a minor charge of skipping bail when he legally sought asylum inside the embassy in June of 2012.

Assange and his lawyers fear that if he is detained by British authorities he would be extradited to the United States where they believe there is a sealed indictment against him possibly on espionage charges for simply publishing classified documents that he has not been accused of stealing.

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Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe.

Thousands of Google employees throughout the United States and around the world walked off their jobs yesterday, Nov. 1, “to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone.” Beginning in Singapore and working its way around the globe the movement closed Google offices from Mountain View, California, in Boulder and New York, as well as in London, Dublin, Zurich and Berlin.

Signs on placards or on the walls read “Don’t Be Evil,” or “Times Up Tech,” One woman wrote, “My outrage won’t fit on this sign.” Nearly everywhere workers held short rallies where women read the movement’s demands. Looking at the many photos and videos of the walkouts and rallies, as well as reading the Google workers comments, it is clear that this was a mass working class movement.

The walkout, which lasted several hours in many places, represents one of the largest international worker job actions in modern labor history. Seldom in recent decades have workers either unionized or non-union workers such as these engaged in such a global, crossborder action. It is also the largest action by tech workers in the United States since this industry was born a few decades ago. And it is one of the most significant expansions of the #MeToo movement into workplace. The Google walkout’s international character, the fact that these are highly skilled technical workers, and that this was a fight for women make this an event of enormous significance for the labor movement.

Image

Google employee Jennifer Brown carries a sign that reads “I Reported And He Got Promoted” while participating in today’s #GoogleWalkout in San Francisco @sfchronicle (Source: @jachristian/Twitter)

Google workers have carried out a strike and out of it, created union—if not yet a union. Will the Google workers recognize this as a labor movement? And will organized labor in the United States be able to embrace Google workers who do so without smothering or strangling them in the conservative labor bureaucracy? Whatever happens, we have had a demonstration of a grassroots workers movement of tremendous potential.

Sparked by Anger at the Company Policies

A New York Times investigation into Google’s handling of sexual misconduct cases sparked the protests. The Times reported that after Google management of learned of credible allegations of sexual harassment by Andy Rubin, the developer of the Android phone—including one of forced oral sex—he left the company with a $90 million settlement. Rubin denies the allegations. Google’s women workers, many indignant and some infuriated by the reports, joined by their male coworkers, began to organize over the issue, and then issued the call for the walkout.

The Google workers demanded:

  • An end to forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases; a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity;
  • A sexual harassment transparency report disclosed to the public;
  • A clear inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously;
  • The chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO and make recommendations to the board of directors;
  • The appointment of an employee representative to the Google board.

 The Company’s Response

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, attempted to identify himself and the company with the walkout. Speaking by web conference at the DealBook Conference in New York, Pichai said,

“Obviously, it’s been a difficult time. There’s anger and frustration in the company. We all feel it. I feel it. At Google we set a high bar and we didn’t live up to our expectations.”

Pichai attempted to deflect anger about the Rubin settlement in 2014 by arguing that the company had made important strikes since then. In his conference appearance, Pichai insisted Google had taken measures to tackle sexual misconduct across the company since Rubin left in 2014.

“Let me be clear, these incidents are from a few years ago. We have always as a company, and it’s been important to me … that we draw a hard line on in appropriate behavior,” he said.

He alluded to 48 employees who had been terminated after allegations of sexual misconduct, among them 13 senior executives.

“But,” he conceded, “moments like this show we didn’t always get it right.”

Image

NYC Google Walkout (Source: @mer_edith/Twitter)

Google’s workers seem unlikely to be assuaged by Pichai’s words. They’re demanding to have a voice on the board, new policies, and no more nonsense. At one Google site the protestors could be heard chanting, “Women’s rights are workers’ rights.” Googlers have entered the workers’ movement. And hopefully they will help to change it.

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The US Pretends to Support the Independence of Syria and Iraq

November 5th, 2018 by Elijah J. Magnier

During the International Institute for Strategic Studies 14thdialogue in the Bahraini Capital Manama, Bert McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State group (ISIS), took leave of his designated function by expressing unusual solicitude for Syria when he said it is “necessary for the Iran-Backed militias to leave Syria to ensure a stable and independent country”. The US presidential special envoy also said he is looking forward to promoting “mutual US-Iraq interests and for the Iraqis to strengthen their own interests and sovereignty”.

McGurk, who was directly involved in the formation of the Iraqi leadership (Speaker, President and Prime Minister) in the last few months, didn’t manage to return his favourite candidate Haidar Abadi to power and failed to prevent Faleh al-Fayyad from coming to power. According to private sources in Baghdad, al-Fayyad will be nominated as Interior Minister, a position that requires coordination with US forces in Iraq. McGurk clashed with Fayyad on several occasions when he unsuccessfully sought to limit the activity of Iran and Hezbollah in supporting the formation of the new Iraqi leadership in Baghdad.

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ISIS posting in front of US-made vehicles captured from the Kurds in Baghuz and Sousah.

The US is mustering all its diplomacy against Iran in preparation for unilateral implementation of full sanctions against the Islamic Republic, expected on the fourth of November. This is why McGurk is attacking Iran in Syria and Iran. Nevertheless, the new Iraqi government is reversing Abadi’s concession to the US: the new prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi has ordered Hashd al-Shaabi to deploy its forces along the Syrian-Iraqi borders. Abadi kept Hashd away from borders where the US forces are deployed and where they occupy part of Syrian territory and the al-Tanf crossing between the Levant and Mesopotamia.

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Iraq MOD leaflets asking ISIS to surrender because they are surrounded due to the presence of Iraqi forces along the Syrian-Iraqi borders

Washington wrongly believes its forces can limit the influence and movement of the Iranian and allied forces in Syria by keeping the Marines in the country. Iranian influence is well established in Syria today, following its unlimited support to the government of Damascus. Even in Iraq, the US presence failed to limit Iran’s leverage on the new government.

US concern is indeed justified: Washington and its allies have lost and failed to “change the regime” in Damascus despite seven long years of war. The Americans used all possible tools and pressure to no avail. US leadership used the “chemical attacks” excuse to bomb the Syrian army without creating any change on the ground. It has used also the card of the Syrian refugees, trying to block their voluntary return. It failed to keep the Jordanian-Syrian crossing at Naseeb closed to prevent Syria from recovering part of its economy. It is also keeping al-Tanf under occupation to stop the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of Damascus from the considerable trade between Iraq and Syria.

The US establishment did not hesitate to support al-Qaeda in Idlib indirectly – after its direct military and training support to al-Qaeda throughout the years of war – by launching a serious warning to Assad in case of any attack against rural Idlib and Latakia where jihadists are based, and Turkey has failed to dislodge them. Moreover, Washington is using the Kurds of al-Hasaka province as human shields to protect the US forces occupying the province. And last but not least, the US is using the UN to try and alter the Syrian constitution, a move only the Syrian parliament can do.

All the above didn’t stop McGurk from calling for the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces “to ensure a stable and independent Syria”. The US envoy forgot that the US forces were never invited to Syria and are considered an occupation force. Moreover, it is Damascus who asked for Iran’s support against the jihadists when the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) allowed a free passage to these hoping to create a fail state. Therefore, it is not up to Washington – nor to Moscow, as Russian officials have reiterated – to seek the withdrawal of any non-Syrian forces from the Levant.

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ISIS media showing Kurds killed during the last battle in “al-Baraka” (Syria).

During the seven years of war, the US never ever aimed for the stability of Syria nor did it work in harmony with the “interests of the people”. Νo Syrian institution gave the right and freedom to the US to speak on its behalf. US forces are blocking al-Tanf crossing in order to impoverish the Syrian population. The US has protected ISIS in the north-east enclave without destroying the jihadists. Not only that, ISIS attacked, imprisoned and killed dozens of the Kurds acting as US proxies in north-east Syria who allowed ISIS to move in and occupy areas around Hajin. When units of the Syria army looking to combat ISIS moved hundreds of meters east of the Euphrates into an ISIS-controlled area a few months ago, the US destroyed them, thereby supporting ISIS’s ongoing presence in the region.

The US establishment is in denial. It has not come to terms with its defeat in Iraq and Syria. Today, it is moving unilaterally against Iran to implement further sanctions that can certainly harm the Iranian economy. Nevertheless, the Americans will not be able to uproot the Iranian ideology that has taken root in Iraq and Syria precisely because of the failed US foreign policy and regime change strategy that was meant to protect its hegemony and dominance in the Middle East.

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Whither Russiagate?

November 5th, 2018 by Philip Giraldi

Two years have passed since the 2016 presidential election. Allegations that foreign interference had influenced the result, perhaps decisively, began to surface even as the last ballots were being counted. Against all odds underdog Donald J. Trump had been elected president and the Establishment, which denigrated him throughout the campaign, had to find a scapegoat to explain their failure to elect the preferred candidate. The scapegoat turned out to be Russia.

The Robert Mueller led inquiry into the election has been running since May 2017. It has been tasked with determining whether the Trump campaign colluded corruptly with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election. It has worked hard to delegitimize the president without that being its stated objective and has had a certain measure of success in doing just that.

But apart from a couple of low-level convictions for perjury, Mueller has come up with nothing that convincingly demonstrates that Moscow had some kind of plan to disrupt the elections and thereby damage American democracy. There was, to be sure, some Russian government sponsored probing and what might be described as attempted influencing, but that is what intelligence agencies do to justify their existence. The worst culprit when it comes to election interference worldwide is undoubtedly America’s own Central Intelligence Agency, which has been doing just that since 1947. But apart from some low-level activity, there has been nothing to suggest some kind of grand design orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to overthrow or cast into confusion the American government.

No one should ever let a good story line go to waste, so the U.S. mainstream media has bought into the proposition that Russia did both interfere in and influence the result of the election based on the assumption that where there is smoke there must be fire with little in the way of evidence being provided. Some media outlets have maintained that the margin of victory for Trump was actually “made in Russia,” meaning that he is ipso facto Moscow’s puppet. It should be noted that this is the same media that embraced Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and transatlantic gliders back in 2002 and the Syrian use of chemical weapons more recently, suggesting that the relationship between demonstrated facts and what comes out in the reporting is very tenuous.

To keep the story fresh, both government and the media have now been suggesting that there has already been an attempt by Russia to interfere in the 2018 midterm election which will take place on Tuesday. The New York Times describes an “elaborate campaign of ‘information warfare’ to interfere.” On October 19th, federal prosecutors charged Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg Russia, a woman whom they labeled the project’s “chief accountant.” She allegedly managed a budget to “sow division and discord” in the lead-up to the voting. The Times goes on to describe how “She bought internet domain names and Facebook and Instagram ads and spent money on building out Twitter accounts and paying to promote divisive posts on social media.”

And the list of culprits has also been expanded to include China and Iran, if one goes by PBS’s coverage of the story. One would not be surprised to see North Korea added to the list, as it is convenient to keep all of one’s enemies in one place, all on the march to destroy American democracy and its political institutions before the GOP and Democrats finally get around to doing it.

One might easily regard the never ending Russiagate saga as a bit of an amusement, but there are actually real-life consequences to corrupting the popular sentiment in a large and powerful nuclear armed nation like the United States by constantly discovering new enemies to stimulate the selling of newspapers and television ad time. At a minimum, phony threat accusations create paranoia and also mistrust in the institutions that are supposed to be protecting the country.

And there are also other less tangible consequences, namely that the constant crying wolf over the Russians and Chinese corrupting America’s political system actually does tell the voters that their vote does not matter as outside forces beyond their control will determine the result anyway.

Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University, has been arguing for some time that the pursuit of Russiagate and the various delusions that have become attached to it is doing grave damage not only to the bilateral relationship between Moscow and Washington but also to perceptions of the state of the U.S. political system. His latest article in The Nation entitled Who is really undermining American democracy? has as a sub-heading “Allegations that Russia is still ‘attacking’ US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.”

Cohen argues plausibly how the “undermine American democracy” meme may itself erode confidence in U.S. political institutions because if the trick of claiming outside interference can to be used successfully once it will be used again even after Trump is gone. If there are claims by losing candidates that Russia or some other foreign power interfered in the midterm this week it will inevitably jumpstart a witch hunt to find those congressmen who were “helped.” The legitimacy of congress itself will be in question.

Cohen also argues that “Russiagate has revealed the low esteem that many U.S. political-media elites have for American voters—for their ability to make discerning, rational electoral decisions, which is the bedrock assumption of representative democracy… Presumably this is a factor behind the current proliferation of programs—official, corporate, and private—to introduce elements of censorship in the nation’s ‘media space’ in order to filter out ‘Kremlin propaganda.’ Here, it also seems, elites will decide what constitutes such ‘propaganda.’”

It is the ultimate irony that the most powerful and least threatened country in the world – the United States of America-runs on fear. The obsession with possible foreign interference in U.S. elections reflects the fundamental insecurity of the elites that actually manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their constituencies. If the midterm results do not satisfy the Establishment and the “foreign menace” again is surfaced as causative it will, in truth, be the beginning of the end for American democracy as mistrust of the integrity of the government institutions will continued to be eroded. The alternative? Tell Robert Mueller to put his cards on the table and prove what is being generally accepted as true regarding Russia or fold up his tent and go home because he is no longer need.

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This article was originally published on the American Herald Tribune.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from AHT.

It’s been a decade since the financial crash of 2008 which we now know was orchestrated by Wall Street and a compromised US Treasury Dept. Many believe that the very practice which triggered the collapse back then – the inflation of the subprime housing bubble and other paper swaps – is happening again, only this time it’s potentially much worse and more widespread. As a result, major moves are being made now to hedge against an impending tumult.

When the shock wave hits, most everyone will feel it. One of the biggest risks is the over-accumulation of debt internationally over the last ten years as a result of ridiculously low-interest rates, hence, countries that are holding inordinate amounts of debt denominated in US-issued fiat paper notes (aka the US dollar) will unfortunately find their balance sheets heavily exposed. As the Federal Reserve initiates this latest phase of Quantitative Tightening , ‘QT’, this global debt bubble could become critical. No more cheap money to refinance your old deficit means a certain global liquidity crisis, and potentially a global austerity crisis too.

However, a few countries appear to have enough foresight to hedge against this and the potential for a dollar plunge, by moving a significant portion of their reserves out of the US dollar and into hard currencies like gold, and only keeping enough dollars on reserve as needed to conducted essential transactions for essential commodities denominated in US dollars. Among the leaders in this trend are Russia and China who have been quietly repatriating record amounts of physical gold.

Slowly, and maybe not so surely, Europe is trying to get into the act also. Claudio Grass of Precious Metal Advisory Switzerland, spoke to RT International about the latest trend where European states repatriating their gold reserves. If there is a squeeze coming, one of the first institutions to feel it will be the European central banking institutions. Grass notes multiple harbingers in convergence tight now, stating, “The central banks started the repatriation already a few years ago, meaning before we had Brexit, Catalonia, Trump, AFD or the rising tensions between the Politburo in Brussels and the nations of Eastern Europe.”

So they’re getting into gold and getting out of the euro. That can’t be good news for the technocrats in Brussels….

In terms of robust and intrinsic value, the euro hasn’t always inspired confidence. It’s been regarded by some investment institutions as fundamentally weak, and backed in part by faith in the cohesion of a European Project which others would say is being pulled apart by the seams right now for reasons which Grass has explained above. For nearly two decades now, Europe’s financial problems have been systemic, from its sovereign debt debacle, to a crisis of credit ratings in the ‘poor south’ (as opposed to the ‘rich north’) still treading water under the post-bailout yoke of ECB-imposed austerity measures. Again, you can trace much of the southern Europe’s woes back to Wall Street – who made out like bandits by pocketing a $29 trillion dollars in bailout funds to date, while leaving everyone else holding the can after the 2008 apocalypse. Again, any shock waves in the US economy will have an immediate effect on Europe’s financial stability. Author F. William Engdahl explains to delicate situation we now face:

The US economy and US Government is not as invincible as it appears to some. The question is what would replace it? The China-Russia-Iran Eurasia alternative, the most promising alternative needs to take far more consequent steps to isolate their economies from the dollar if they are to succeed.

In terms of marco-trends, Grass believes that the global financial playing field is moving towards away from a centralized system. He states, “If we follow this trend, it should be obvious that the next step should be an even bigger break up into smaller units than the nation states. With such geopolitical fragmentation comes also the decentralization of power.”

When Grass refers to ‘centralization’ he is likely referring the current system of global financial hegemony in which the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency and where all relative gains or losses are determined by the value and liquidity of that currency. In addition, Engdahl also warns of the dangers of centralization; by allowing a single central bank, the US Federal Reserve Bank (which is a privately owned bank), to determine the destiny of every other national economy on the planet via its ability to set interest rates, it leaves the fortunes of rest of the world at the mercy of US monetary policy.

While this shift towards decentralization may offer a degree of financial liberation to certain countries, it can also be interpreted as a disturbing sign of major instability to come. Whether that also entails a global military conflagration is still yet unknown, but the signs are definitely worrying. Recent moves by the US openly stating its desire to destablize and ruin the economies of Iran and Venezuela should be viewed as a prelude to a military action. If target nations do not submit to American demands of regime change, then more anti-American alliances will form, which is sure to intensify the crisis of power politics. When survival of the state(s) becomes the raisin d’etat, the war can be all but imminent under such conditions. History is replete with examples of this.

Even if a direct military confrontation is avoided, the economic war will continue to rage, and with it more uncertainty for investors and markets. Either way, it’s a good time to invest physical gold as a hedge against any future dollar devaluation.

Here is the rest of Claudio Grass’s discussion with RT International is telling…

(…) Analysts have pointed out that EU countries see gold as insurance in case they end up returning to their national currencies. According to Grass, only a fool believes you can create wealth out of nothing, and use that as a basis for a sustainable system.

“Our system is based on 7 percent paper notes and 93 percent digital units backed up by nothing other than central bank promises to pay back the debt in the future through inflation and taxation.”

He explained that in the Western world, the government is forcing people to give up between 35 and 65 percent of their income and to put it into mandatory vehicles such as pension funds, retirement insurance, taxes, and so on.

“If you take away 100 percent of a person’s fruits of labor it is defined as slavery… So there is still some room but it doesn’t look good either.”

Grass added that with the “accelerating disintegration of the Eurozone and more nationalistic and right-wing parties popping up that have a clear policy, that is going against the EU.”

“It is just a matter of time before the Euro, the most artificial currency ever, is going to collapse,” he concluded.

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This article was originally published on 21st Century Wire.

Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.

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Treaties and Other Agreements US Consistently Breaches

November 5th, 2018 by Stephen Lendman

Trump’s JCPOA and INF pullouts are the latest examples of why the US under Republicans and undemocratic Dems can never be trusted.

Both right wings of the US one-party state want everything their own way in return for empty promises, the disturbing reality of diplomacy with America.

Time and again, other nations are  betrayed, including Iran, Russia, China, North Korea earlier and likely ahead.

Good faith Kim Jong-un mid-June summit talks with Trump risk being undermined by regime hardliners Pompeo and Bolton.

Both officials are militantly hostile to the DPRK. Before his appointment as Trump’s national security advisor, Bolton called

“discussions with North Korea…a waste of time…The way to end the North’s nuclear program is to end the North,” he roared.

After earlier talks with DPRK officials in Pyongyang, its Foreign Ministry accused Pompeo of unacceptably pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization” – offering nothing concrete in return.

By letter weeks earlier, North Korean Vice Chairman of the country’s Workers’ Party Central Committee Kim Yong-chol accused the Trump regime of unwillingness to formally end the 1950s war, adding negotiations are “again at stake and may fall apart.”

One or more summits between Kim and Trump won’t likely achieve what the first ever formal meeting between a US and North Korean leader failed to accomplish.

DLT may genuinely want improved US relations with North Korea. Pompeo and Bolton in charge of the regime’s geopolitical agenda undermine the possibility.

They want unbending pressure, full denuclearization, elimination of DPRK ballistic missiles, and full compliance with other US demands before implementing anything Kim and Trump agreed on.

Unacceptable US hostility toward North Korea has persisted since WW II ended. Nothing going forward suggests a policy change.

Washington needs enemies to pursue its imperial agenda. None exist so they’re invented, including North Korea throughout the post-WW II period – despite the country threatening no one.

Nothing suggests a change in longstanding US policy ahead. Reasonable DPRK demands are rejected in return for its genuine willingness to denuclearize – including iron-clad security guarantees, a formal end to the 1950s war, lifting of all unacceptable sanctions, and normalizing relations with the West.

Kim sensibly wants a “phased and synchronous” approach, “action-for-action” by both sides, incremental lifting of sanctions and other positive steps by Washington, matching North Korea’s good will.

Trump regime hardliners Pompeo and Bolton refuse to comply, pushing for total DPRK denuclearization and elimination of its ballistic missiles, wanting its military rendered defenseless against hostile attacks if launched.

On Friday, North Korea’s state-run news agency said

“(i)f the US keeps behaving arrogantly without showing any change in its stand,” its military may resume nuclearization, adding:

“(I)mprovement of relations and sanctions are incompatible…The US thinks that its oft-repeated ‘sanctions and pressure’ leads to ‘denuclearization.’ We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea.”

Pompeo said

“we will keep the economic pressure in place until such time as Chairman Kim fulfills the commitment he made to President Trump back in June in Singapore.”

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in appear to genuinely want improved relations. Will Seoul go its own way with Pyongyang, independent of US actions?

Last month Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha suggested the South was willing to lift restrictions on the North as a good will gesture.

Trump responded harshly saying

“(t)hey won’t do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval,” treating the country’s leadership like vassals.

“Maximum (US) pressure” until full DPRK denuclearization in return for likely betrayal like many times earlier remains hardline US policy.

Will last June’s summit agreement unravel because of one-way US demands?

It’s likely given how often Washington breached numerous other treaties, conventions and agreements earlier.

Betrayal is longstanding US policy.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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Closing Loopholes: Taxing the Digital Giants

November 5th, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The treasurers of various countries seem to be stumbling over each other in the effort, but taxing the digital behemoths has become something of an obsession, the gold standard for those wishing to add revenue to state coffers.  Back in May, when Australia’s then treasurer Scott Morrison oversaw the purse strings of the country, it was declared that, “The new economy shouldn’t be some sort of tax-free environment.”  (Low tax environment was not be confused with a no-tax one.)  He had his eye on the $7 billion in annual Australian sales recorded by Google, eBay, Uber, Linked-In, and Twitter.

As always, such statements must be seen for all their populist worth.  A treasurer keen to secure more revenue but happy to compress the company tax base must be regarded with generous suspicion.  Trickle-down economics, with its fanciful notions of job creative punch, still does the rounds in certain government circles, and Morrison, both as treasurer and now as Australian prime minister, is obsessed with the idea of reducing, let alone imposing company tax.  But the Australian Tax Office has not been left entirely out of pocket: the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law (MAAL) and Diverted Profits Tax have both done something to draw in some revenue from the likes of Facebook and Google.

What is lacking in approaches to the digital company environment is consensus.  At the specialist level, there has been no end of chatter about how to rein in cash from the earnings of the digital world.  But action has been tardy, inconsistent and contradictory.  The OECD-G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Plan (2015), the product of 12,000 pages of comments, 1400 contributions from interested parties, 23 drafts and working documents and two years of deliberation, is one such imperfect effort.

According to the OECD,

“Under the inclusive effort framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS.”

Their enemy is a phenomenon described as “tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in the tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax situations.”

The tech giants, however, remain examples of singular slipperiness.  The idea of a digital tax, undertaken in the absence of international understanding will, it has been said, be not merely problematic but dangerous.  The European Commission, for one, has also considered the prospect of a 3 percent tax on the turnover of digital revenue, estimated to yield some 5 billion euros.

In making the March announcement, the Commission conceded that the growth of social media companies, digital businesses and “collaborative platforms and online content providers, has made a great contribution to economic growth in the EU.” The tax regime, however, was obsolete, creakingly incapable of covering “those companies that are global, virtual or have little or no physical presence.”  Profits derived from the sale of user-generated data and content fell outside current tax regulations.

A two-pronged approach was suggested: the first, aiming to “reform corporate tax rules so that profits are registered and taxed where businesses have significant interaction with users through digital channels”; the second, a response “to calls from several Member States for an interim tax which covers the main digital activities that currently escape tax altogether in the EU.”

When the plan surfaced, opponents closed ranks.  Ministers from Luxembourg and Malta expressed their displeasure at a meeting of EU ministers in Sofia in April.  German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, was obviously cognisant of the disagreements and confined his remarks to claiming that digital companies had to pay more tax as part of a “moral question”.  His proposed answer, however, remained vague.  The pro-taxing grouping was hedging.

Two prongs essentially became one: the interim measure might be implemented in the absence of a global strategy, one featuring a temporary levy on corporate turnover.  Companies would merely be charged on their profits but no tax in their absence. (This remains the great loophole of company tax: where there are losses, there can be no tax revenue.)

“The idea,” claimed economy minister Ramon Escolano, “is to introduce it as soon as possible and for it to take effect from 2019 onwards.”

Unilateral tax approaches have been considered the enemy in this debate.  Not aligning the system with those of other states might, for instance, stir US anxiety and trigger a trade war.  But we live in an age of vibrant, aggressive unilateralism, exemplified by that man of bullied deals, US President Donald J. Trump.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, is one who has gotten impatient with the foot-dragging over an international agreement on how best to cope with tax avoidance on the part of the digital giants.  A “narrowly targeted tax”, coming into force in April 2020, is intended to raise more than £400 million a year for the public purse.  The Office for Budget Responsibility is less optimistic even on that projection, suggesting, in all likelihood, that the figure is more likely to be a mere £30 million.  This will provide little cheer to the campaign and research group Tax Watch, which has argued that the digital giants deprive the exchequer of some £1 billion annually.

All taxes are pot-holed matters, fabulously effective on initial inspection, but worn on a closer inspection.  Hammond’s digital services tax is aimed at online advertising revenue generated from Twitter, Google and Facebook.  Direct sales (the likes of Amazon, in this regard) are not the subject of the measure. As Martin Vander Weyer of the conservative Spectator noted,

“I doubt it will make a jot of difference to the ragtag rearguard of bricks-and-mortar shopkeepers.”

Nor to the digital tax giants, given the versatile tax avoidance strategies they have proven more than adept at deploying.  Tax avoidance remains the forgiven misdemeanour, the dirty dispensation.  As if to prove this finest of points, Facebook has appointed a previous Liberal Democrat leader, former deputy-prime minister and pro-tax figure, the now knighted Nick Clegg, chief of its global policy and communications.  Brazenly cunning, but expected.

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

Trump’s War on the US Federal Reserve

November 5th, 2018 by Ellen Brown

President Trump has stepped up his criticism of the Federal Reserve, saying of its aggressive interest rate hikes that it has “gone crazy.” The same charge has been leveled against Trump, but there may be a method to his madness . . . .  

October was a brutal month for the stock market. After the Fed’s eighth interest rate hike on September 26th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 2,000 points and the NASDAQ had its worst month in nearly 10 years. After the Dow lost more than 800 points on October 10th and the S&P 500 suffered its first weeklong losing streak since Trump’s election, the president said,

“I think the Fed is making a mistake. They are so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy.”

In a later interview on Fox News, he called the Fed’s rate hikes “loco.” And in a Wall Street Journal interview published on October 24th, Trump said he thought the biggest risk to the economy was the Federal Reserve, because “interest rates are being raised too quickly.” He also criticized the Fed and its chairman in July and August.  

Trump’s vocal criticisms are worrisome to some commentators, who fear he is attempting to manipulate the Fed and its chairman for political gain. Ever since the 1970s, the Fed has declared its independence from government, and presidents are supposed to avoid influencing its decisions. But other Fed-watchers think politicians should be allowed to criticize the market manipulations of an apparently out-of-control central bank.

Why the Frontal Attack?

Even if the president’s challenges are a needed check on the Fed, it has been questioned whether he is going about it in the right way. Challenging the central bank in public forces it to stick to its guns, because it must maintain its credibility with the markets by showing that its decisions are based on sound economic principles rather than on political influence. If the president really wants the Fed to back off on interest rates, it has been argued, he should do it with a nod and a nudge, not a frontal attack on the Fed’s sanity.

True, but perhaps the president’s goal is not to subtly affect Fed behavior so much as to make it patently obvious who is to blame when the next Great Recession hits. And recession is fairly certain to hit, because higher interest rates almost always trigger recessions. The Fed’s current policy of “quantitative tightening” – tightening or contracting the money supply – is the very definition of recession, a term Wikipedia defines as “a business cycle contraction which results in a general slowdown in economic activity.”

This “business cycle” is not something inevitable like the weather. It is triggered by the central bank. When the Fed drops interest rates, banks flood the market with “easy money,” allowing speculators to snatch up homes and other assets. When the central bank then raises interest rates, it contracts the amount of money available to spend and to pay down debt. Borrowers go into default and foreclosed homes go on the market at firesale prices, again to be snatched up by the monied class.

But it is a game of Monopoly that cannot go on forever. According to Elga Bartsch, chief European economist at Morgan Stanley, one more financial cataclysm could be all that it takes for central bank independence to end.

“Having been overburdened for a long time, many central banks might just be one more economic downturn or financial crisis away from a full-on political backlash,” she wrote in a note to clients in 2017. “Such a political backlash could call into question one of the long-standing tenets of modern monetary policy making – central bank independence.”

And that may be the president’s end-game. When higher rates trigger another recession, Trump can point an accusing finger at the central bank, absolving his own policies of liability and underscoring the need for a major overhaul of the Fed.

End the Fed?

Image result for john allison federal reserve

Trump has not overtly joined the End the Fed campaign, but he has had the ear of several advocates of that approach. One is John Allison (image on the right), whom the president evidently considered for both Fed Chairman and Treasury Secretary. Allison has proposed ending the Fed altogether and returning to the gold standard, and Trump suggested on the campaign trail that he approved of a gold-backed currency.

But a gold standard is the ultimate in tight money – keeping money in limited supply tied to gold – and today Trump seems to want to return to the low-interest policies of former Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Jerome Powell, Trump’s replacement pick, has been called “Yellen without Yellen,” a dovish alternative in acceptable Republican dress. That’s what the president evidently thought he was getting, but in his October 24th Wall Street Journal interview, Trump said of Powell, “he was supposed to be a low-interest-rate guy. It’s turned out that he’s not.” The president complained:

[E]very time we do something great, he raises the interest rates. . . . That means we pay more on debt and we slow down the economy, both bad things. . . . I mean, we had a case where he raised interest rates right before we have a bond offering. So you have a bond offering and you have somebody raising interest rates, so you end up paying more on the bonds. . . . To me it doesn’t make sense.

Trump acknowledged the independence of the Fed and its chairman but said, “I’m allowed to say what I think. . . . I think he’s making a mistake.”

Presidential Impropriety or a Needed Debate?

In a November 2016 article in Politico titled “Donald Trump Isn’t Crazy to Attack the Fed,” Danny Vinik agreed with that contention. Trump, who is not a stickler for consistency, was then criticizing Fed Chair Janet Yellen for keeping interest rates too low. Vinik said that while he disagreed with Trump’s interpretation of events, he agreed that the president should be allowed to talk about Fed policy. Vinik observed:

The Federal Reserve is, by definition, not independent. Unlike the Supreme Court, the central bank is a creation of Congress and is accountable to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It can be changed—or abolished—by Congress as well. And to pretend it’s not—to treat the Fed as an entity totally removed from American politics—also leaves us powerless to talk about the ways it might be improved.

. . . The long tradition of deference to the Fed’s policy independence can even pose a risk: It creates an environment in which any critique of the Fed is seen as out of line, including the idea of reforming how it works.

Vinik quoted Andrew Levin, a Dartmouth economist and twenty-year veteran of the Fed, who published a set of recommended central bank reforms in conjunction with the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fed Up campaign in 2016. One goal was to make the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets Fed policy, more representative of the American public. The FOMC is composed of the president of the New York Fed, four other Federal Reserve Bank presidents, and the Federal Reserve Board, which currently has only four members (three positions are vacant). That means the FOMC is majority-controlled by heads of Federal Reserve Banks, all of whom must have “tested banker experience.” As Vinik quoted Levin:

The Federal Reserve is a crucial public agency, so there are lots of important questions—including the selection of its leaders, the determination of their priorities, and the specific strategy that they’re following—that should all be open to public discourse.

Vinik also cited Ady Barkan, the head of the Fed Up campaign, who agreed that questioning Fed policy was appropriate, even for the president. Barkan said the Fed’s independence comes from its structure: its leaders are appointed, not elected, for long terms, which inherently insulates them from political pressure. But the Fed must still be accountable to the public, and one way policymakers fulfill that responsibility is through public comments. Monetary policy decisions, said Barkan, are therefore appropriate topics for political debate.

Reassessing Fed Independence

According to Timothy Canova, Professor of Law and Public Finance at Nova Southeastern University, the Fed is not a neutral arbiter. It might be independent of oversight by politicians, but Fed “independence” has really come to mean a central bank that has been captured by very large banking interests. This has not always been the case. During the period coming out of the Great Depression, the Fed as a practical matter was not independent but took its marching orders from the White House and the Treasury; and that period, says Canova, was the most successful in American economic history.

The Fed’s justification for raising interest rates despite admittedly low inflation is that we are nearing “full employment,” which will drive up prices because labor costs will go up. But wages have not gone up. Why? Because in a globalized world, the availability of cheap labor abroad keeps American wages low even if most people are working (which is questionable today despite official statistics).

Higher interest rates do not serve consumers, homebuyers, businesses or governments. They serve the banks that dominate the policy-setting FOMC. The president’s critiques of the Fed, however controversial, have opened the door to a much-needed discourse on whether the fate of the economy should be in the hands of unelected bureaucrats marching to the drums of Wall Street.

Postscript: The stock market has turned positive as of this writing (November 1), but the rebound has been led by the FAANG stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. As noted in my article of September 13th, these are the stocks that central banks are now purchasing in large quantities. The FANG stocks jumped in unison on October 31st although only one (Facebook) had positive news to report, suggesting possible market manipulation for political purposes.

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This article was first posted on TruthDig.com.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. A 13th book titled Banking on the People: Democratizing Finance in the Digital Age is due out at the end of the year. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

So, the snap governor elections of the Okinawa Prefecture that were critical for the Japanese federal government were held on September 30 this year and ended in an unpleasant surprise for it. Despite Tokyo’s anticipation (and to its sheer disappointment) the former Ginowan City Mayor Atsushi Sakima supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan failed at the elections.

The former radio host Denny Tamaki won by receiving 56% of the vote; he considers himself a follower of the former Governor Takeshi Onaga. Takeshi Onaga who deceased in early August was a strong opponent of the US military presence on Okinawa, that is, the largest island of the Ryukyu Arc and a prefecture of the same name.

10 days prior to his death, he made a kind of political will by claiming that he was going to revoke the permission for allocating a part of the island’s coast in the low-populated settlement of Henoko for the construction of a new location for the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The aforementioned base is currently located in the very heart of Ginowan City whose population is approaching 100,000 people.

On August 15 (due to the allegedly coming typhoons), all work in Henoko that had been carried out by the federal government for over a year using the state budget funds was suspended.

Although, legally speaking, in the conflict between Takeshi Onaga and Tokyo, the latter was right, but the federal government decided not to exacerbate the situation after the death of the popular governor. Hoping that it would be able to resume the work without further ado after the victory of their candidate Atsushi Sakima.

Well, not this time, as it were. The Japanese newspapers which used the Okinawa events as their top news story for a week were full of photographs featuring both the exulting winner and his supporters, some of whom proceeded to block the Henoko construction site in no time.

The Okinawa protesters received unexpected support on the other shore of the Pacific Ocean, i.e. in the US. The united US – Japanese group of omnipresent environmentalists submitted an appeal to the California State Court concerning procedural infraction during the approval of the US Ministry of Defense’s request regarding the conformity of the work in Henoko to the needs of conserving the unique ecosystem of Okinawa.

The plaintiffs are in particular concerned with the future of the rare marine mammal, the dugong, which inhabits the coastal area of the island. The noise of the Futenma 2 base-to-be Osprey convertiplane engines is believed to affect the nervous system of dugongs. It was announced that the case would be considered in substance.

In his election campaign, Denny Tamaki promised that if he were elected he would follow the steps of the deceased governor Takeshi Onaga. That is, not only hamper the Relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko arranged by Japan and the US, but also follow his predecessor’s course of action for a complete withdrawal of all the US military units from Okinawa. Which include about 70% of the US military personnel deployed in Japan.

Let us specify that Takeshi Onaga meant sending the US troops deployed on Okinawa away from the country (without mentioning a specific location) rather than relocating them to the 4 main islands of Japan. This prospect (in the near future, that is) seems unrealistic considering the fact that Japan is interested in the military and political alliance with the US more than the US itself.

Though, this prospect in not entirely impossible. For instance, if the incumbent US President’s neoisolationist foreign policy actions continue. He already gave certain peculiar signals of the kind (concerning South Korea and the Middle East).

Apropos, the commotion in the federal government caused by the Okinawa election results had to do with the question asked by Washington. It has been a silent question so far, but it can be voiced: “Fellows! Who is the primary stakeholder here? If it is you then provide the minimum conditions necessary for our soldiers performing their duty as allied forces. And forget the rubbish about the will of the people. This man did not get the overwhelming majority of the vote on Okinawa.”

As if that is what the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe needs right now. 2 days prior to the Okinawa elections, he came back from New York where, apart from giving a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, he held another round of difficult negotiations (analysts cannot even say for which time by count) with Donald Trump. Their main topic of conversation had remained the same for 18 months already: trying to find a solution for the issues in their bilateral trade and economic relations.

Even without the Okinawa issue, Shinzō Abe finds himself at a disadvantage in these negotiations since his opponent has a cast-iron argument of the many years of Japan’s positive balance of trade with the US (amounting to about $70 billion annually). Which is, according to Donald Trump, caused by the unfair and unjust tariff policy of his partners. As we stated earlier, the Japanese Prime Minister had to make serious concessions during the negotiations in New York.

That is why the last thing the Japanese government needs is another cause for reproach of the kind from its key ally, even more so concerning the military and political area.

During the first days after the elections, the disagreement between the Federal Government and the Okinawa Governor did not seem hopeless. Both parties hinted at the possibility of reaching a compromise by negotiating.

However, as usually is the case with populists, the new governor after riding the popular wave will now have to follow its course. On October 26, the Okinawa Prefecture Parliament made a decree on holding a referendum on the single issue of the (dis)approval of the plans to build the Futenma 2 base in Henoko. According to the legislation, an expression of popular will of the kind must be held 6 months later, that is, in spring 2019.

Which makes the painful sore in the relations between the federal government and that of one of its prefectures, as well as (indirectly so far) between Japan as a whole and its key ally not only remain unhealed, but also get worse.

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Vladimir Terekhov expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

Featured image is from NEO.

On Monday, the US will ratchet up its brutal and merciless economic war against Iran, raising sanctions to a new level. The Trump administration has said its goal is to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero, although waivers were being negotiated with some countries.

Such a move could bankrupt Iran and destroy the government’s ability to deliver public services, fomenting popular rebellion.

John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has been clear about the logic behind this: he wants to install a new government friendly to the US. He spelled out these plans to the opposition group Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) at a Paris conference last year, although he has subsequently backtracked, saying regime change is “not American policy”.

Beset by contradictions

The US is not simply intent on waging an economic war, but also wants to build up a military and strategic coalition against Iran. This seems to have been the most important item on the agenda of last week’s Manama dialogue in Bahrain, where US Defence Secretary James Mattis took aim at Iran.

Mattis is keen on the creation of a what amounts to an Arab NATO built around a regional network of Sunni Arab states in the shape of the emerging Middle East Strategic Alliance, potentially including Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel. The primary outside backers would be the US, France and Britain.

But this twin-pronged military-economic strategy is doomed to failure, and will likely end in humiliation for the US. In the medium term, it will backfire; the US and its allies will lose influence, while Iran will gain confidence and power. In the worst case scenario, it will result in a war whose consequences will be incalculable.

For starters, Trump’s sanctions policy is beset by contradictions. It will not and cannot work, because the US will be unable to isolate Iran in the way it hopes to.

The problem was set out clearly in an excellent article by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times earlier this week, which noted that China and India, the largest buyers of Iranian oil, will continue to make substantial purchases. Turkey and Russia are likely to do the same, which is not much of a surprise.

Epic miscalculation

Much more remarkable, France and Germany, as well as Britain, have expressed their intention to continue to do business with Iran in defiance of US will. They are looking at the creation of a “special purpose vehicle” that would enable them to continue trading with Iran independently of the US dollar.

The case of China, the largest buyer of Iranian oil, is yet more important. While it is true that two large state Chinese oil companies have halted purchases from Iran, China is virtually certain to continue purchasing large amounts of oil.

The option is open to Trump to raise the stakes and punish China through sanctions or other means, but even he likely lacks the appetite to open up an economic war on a second front.

The same consideration applies to Narendra Modi’s India, which has infuriated the US by continuing to buy Iranian oil. Does Trump truly want to turn India into an enemy?

All of this means that the Trump administration has made an epic miscalculation. Trump thinks that he can take the international community with him as he embarks on his economic war against Iran. He can’t – and this spells mortal danger for the US. Trump is playing for very high stakes; if he loses, much of the global power of the US will collapse.

Weakening financial muscle

This is because over the last few decades, successive US presidents have used the reserve currency status of the US dollar as a weapon to isolate the country’s enemies and to enforce its will. In this way, it has been able to strike terror in its enemies and to reward allies.

This financial muscle has been a far more potent tool than military might. If Trump fails in his economic war against Iran – and I believe he will – it will signal to the world that the dollar can no longer be used as a foreign policy weapon.

Sixty years ago, Britain’s humiliation over Suez marked the moment when we could no longer exert our muscle across the Middle East. If Trump fails on Iran, the cry will go round the chanceries of the region that the US is a paper tiger.

We would therefore see the end of US global hegemony and the emergence of rival economic areas, with the power and reach to operate independently of US economic pressure.

One would be based around Shanghai. This is already in the process of formation, and on a trip to Pakistan last week, I was intrigued to hear leading public intellectuals speculating that the G7 group of leading economic nations – hitherto a private fiefdom of the United States – could soon break into two. A second sphere could be erected around the eurozone and a third confined to the US, Latin America, a handful of US dependencies and perhaps the UK.

Increasing isolation

In this new world, it is by no means obvious that the US would be widely viewed as a force for global stability. This is already obvious in the Middle East, where the US caused chaos with the invasion of Iraq and turned its back on the nuclear deal with Iran.

It is the US ally, Saudi Arabia, that has been accused over many years as being the source of jihadi movements that have created mayhem across the globe. It is primarily Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies – backed by the US and Britain – that have brought about the humanitarian calamity in Yemen. And that is before we come to the terrible murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

There are many problems with Iran. It, too, has a record of conducting assassinations abroad and repression at home. Nevertheless, in a region that has suffered chaos in recent years, this 3,000-year-old state looks more like a source of stability, and Trump’s America – untrustworthy and increasingly isolated – a force for chaos.

We may be about to see a power shift of profound consequences. Though it will start in the Middle East, its ripples will swiftly spread across the globe.

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Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging in 2017 and was named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Online Media Awards for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He also was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

Featured image is from NEO.


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

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

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Watch the Film the Israel Lobby Didn’t Want You to See

November 4th, 2018 by The Electronic Intifada

The Electronic Intifada has obtained a complete copy of The Lobby – USA, a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States.

It is today publishing the first two episodes. The Paris-based Orient XXI and Beirut-based Al-Akhbar are publishing the same episodes with French and Arabic subtitles, respectively.

The film was made by Al Jazeera during 2016 and was completed in October 2017.

But it was censored after Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate that funds Al Jazeera, came under intense Israel lobby pressure not to air the film.

Although Al Jazeera’s director-general claimed last month that there were outstanding legal issues with the film, his assertions have been flatly contradicted by his own journalists.

In March, The Electronic Intifada was the first to report on any of the film’s specific content. We followed this in August by publishing the first extract of the film, and shortly after Max Blumenthal at the Grayzone Project released others.

Since then, The Electronic Intifada has released three other extracts, and several other journalists have watched the entire film and written about it – including Alain Gresh and Antony Loewenstein.

Now The Electronic Intifada can reveal for the first time that it has obtained all four parts of the film.

You can watch the first two parts in the video embeds below.

To get unprecedented access to the Israel lobby’s inner workings, undercover reporter “Tony” posed as a pro-Israel volunteer in Washington.

The resulting film exposes the efforts of Israel and its lobbyists to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian human rights, especially BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It shows that Israel’s semi-covert black-ops government agency, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is operating this effort in collusion with an extensive network of US-based organizations.

These include the Israel on Campus Coalition, The Israel Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Censored by Qatar

The film was suppressed after the government of Qatar came under intense pressure not to release it – ironically from the very same lobby whose influence and antics the film exposes.

Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, revealed in an article for The Forward in March that Al Jazeera had sent more than 70 letters to individuals and organizations who appear in or are discussed in the film, providing them with an opportunity to respond.

Only three did so. Instead, pro-Israel groups have endeavored to suppress the film that exposes the lobby’s activities.

In April, Al Jazeera’s management was forced to deny a claim by the hard-right Zionist Organization of America that the film had been canceled altogether.

In June, The Electronic Intifada learned that a high level source in Doha had said the film’s indefinite delay was due to “national security” concerns of the Qatari government.

Covert action

As revealed in a clip published by The Electronic Intifada earlier this week, the film shows Julia Reifkind – then an Israeli embassy employee – describing her typical work day as “mainly gathering intel, reporting back to Israel … to report back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.”

She discusses the Israeli government “giving our support” to front groups “in that behind-the-scenes way.”

Reifkind also admits to using fake Facebook profiles to infiltrate the circles of Palestine solidarity activists on campus.

The film also reveals that US-based groups coordinate their efforts directly with the Israeli government, particularly its Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Run by a former military intelligence officer, the ministry is in charge of Israel’s global campaign of covert sabotage targeting the BDS movement.

The film shows footage of the very same ex-military intelligence officer, Sima Vaknin-Gil, claiming to have mapped Palestinian rights activism “globally. Not just the United States, not just campuses, but campuses and intersectionality and labor unions and churches.”

She promises to use this data for “offense activity” against Palestine activists.

Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, claims in the undercover footage that his organization uses “corporate level, enterprise-grade social media intelligence software” to gather lists of Palestine-related student events on campus, “generally within about 30 seconds or less” of them being posted online.

Baime also admits on hidden camera that his group “coordinates” with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Baime states that his researchers “issue early warning alerts to our partners” – including Israeli ministries.

Baime’s colleague Ian Hersh admits in the film to adding Israel’s “Ministry of Strategic Affairs to our operations and intelligence brief.”

“Psychological warfare”

Baime describes how his group has used anonymous websites to target activists.

“With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we’ve found at least in the last year, is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads,” Baime explains in part three of the film.

“Canary Mission is a good example,” he states. “It’s psychological warfare.”

The film names, for the first time, convicted tax evader Adam Milstein as the multimillionaire funder and mastermind of Canary Mission – an anonymous smear site targeting student activists.

The Electronic Intifada revealed this in a clip in August.

Eric Gallagher, then fundraising director for The Israel Project, is seen in the undercover footage admitting that “Adam Milstein, he’s the guy who funds” Canary Mission.

Milstein also funds The Israel Project, Gallagher states.

Gallagher says that when he was working for AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel lobby group,

“I was literally emailing back and forth with [Adam Milstein] while he was in jail.”

Despite not replying to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, Milstein denied that he and his family foundation “are funders of Canary Mission” on the same day The Electronic Intifada published the clip.

Since then, Josh Nathan-Kazis of The Forward has identified several other groups in the US who fund Canary Mission.

Suppressed film

In March, The Electronic Intifada published the first details of what is in the film.

We reported that it showed Sima Vaknin-Gil claiming to have leading neoconservative think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies working for her ministry.

The undercover footage shows Vaknin-Gil claiming that “We have FDD. We have others working on” projects including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail. This is something that only a country, with its resources, can do the best.”

As noted in part one of the documentary, the existence of the film and the identity of the undercover reporter became known after footage he had shot for it was used in Al Jazeera’s The Lobby – about Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK – aired in early 2017.

Since then, Israel lobbyists have heavily pressured Qatar to prevent the US film from airing.

“Foreign agent”

Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, first confirmed in October 2017 that the network had run an undercover reporter in the US Israel lobby at the same time as in the UK.

Swisher promised the film would be released “very soon,” but it never came out.

Multiple Israel lobby sources told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper in February that they had received assurances from Qatari leaders late last year that the documentary would not be aired.

Qatar denied this, but the paper stood by its story.

Swisher’s op-ed in The Forward was his first public comment on the matter since he had announced the documentary.

In it, he refutes Israel lobby allegations about the film and expresses frustration that Al Jazeera had not aired it, apparently due to outside pressure.

Several pro-Israel lawmakers in Washington have piled on more pressure by pushing the Department of Justice to force Al Jazeera to register as a “foreign agent” under a counterespionage law dating from the 1930s.

The Israel lobby goes to Doha

While the film was delayed, a wave of prominent pro-Israel figures visited Qatar at the invitation of its ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

They have included some of the most right-wing and extreme figures among Israel’s defenders in the US, such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America.

Swisher wrote in The Forward that he ran into Dershowitz at a Doha restaurant during one of these visits, and invited the professor to a private viewing of the film.

“I have no problem with any of the secret filming,” Swisher says Dershowitz told him afterwards. “And I can even see this being broadcast on PBS” – the US public broadcaster.

Yet it appears that Israel lobby efforts to quash the film were successful – until now.

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Rocks Are Not Guns: #AskJoseAntonio: Trump’s Call For Lethal Force

November 4th, 2018 by Justice for Jose Antonio Coalition

Trump’s Call For Lethal Force Is Already On Trial In Tucson, Arizona

President Donald Trump said members of the U.S. military sent to the southern border to keep out thousands in a migrant caravan would “fight back” and “anybody throwing rocks or stones at the military service members will be considered to be using a firearm.”

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His statements Thursday November 1 are unfolding amidst the courtroom proceedings of the second federal trial of a border patrol officer Lonnie Swartz who shot into Mexico through the border wall in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora, killing 16-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez on October 10, 2012.

Swartz’ defense argues that the shooting was justified because they claim Antonio was throwing rocks, something that an eye witness disputed. Community members supporting the family of Jose Antonio in Tucson argue that the federal prosecutor assigned to the case appears to be undermining their own case, leaving out important information, witnesses, and that they are not pressing the border patrol officers present on inconsistency on their accounts of that night.

According to Border Patrol Victim’s Network, the Border Patrol has killed over 100 people since 2003. This trial will be the first time a Border Patrol officer has been criminally indicted since Nicholas Corbett was tried twice in 2007, both times ending with a hung jury.

Trump’s statement and incendiary language will lead to further violence at the hands of security forces, including Border Patrol and the recently deployed 5,200 troops. A successful prosecution in this case would set a precedent of accountability for future cases of human rights abuses in the borderlands.

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Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy

November 4th, 2018 by Prof Michael Hudson

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the stock market crash of 2008; the current financial malaise is the result of the bank bailouts, not the crash; an over-indebted economy cannot be saved unless the banks fail; debt deflation; the magic of compound interest; how pension funds, state and local governments adversely affected by the bank bailouts; growth of the financial extraction FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate); quantitative easing; asset price inflation; wealth concentrated at the top in Roman antiquity led to the Dark Age; Eurozone imposition of austerity Greek style; tariffs, economic sanctions and isolationism.

Full Transcript below. (Source: CounterPunch)

You can’t bail out the banks, leave the debts in place, and rescue the economy. It’s a zero-sum game. Somebody has to lose. That’s what happened in 2009 when President Obama came in. He invited the bankers to the White House and he said, “I’m the only guy standing between you and the mob with pitchforks,” by which he meant the voters that he was bamboozling. He reassured the bankers. He said, “Look, my loyalty is to my campaign donors not to the voters. Don’t worry; my loyalty is with you.”

I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Dr. Michael Hudson. Today’s show: Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire is a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His latest books are  Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage to Ensure the Global Economy and J is for Junk Economics.. Today we discuss how the bank bailouts, not the crash, are killing the economy. Also, the concept of debt deflation, the magic of compound interest, the growth of the financial extraction FIRE sector, quantitative easing, tariffs, economic sanctions and isolationism.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, welcome.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s good to be back after a few years.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Boy I’ll say. I’ve just read your article “The Lehman 10th Anniversary Spin as a Teachable Moment.” Obviously, 2018 is the tenth anniversary of the 2008 stock market crash. You immediately point out that today’s financial malaise is a result of the bank bailout not the crash. I think people might find this statement surprising since the claim is that the bailout saved the economy.

MICHAEL HUDSON: I think what the newspapers said was that the bailout saved the banks. To bankers, their banks are the economy. The problem is, you can’t save the banks and the economy. If you save the banks, you’re saving all the debt that people owe to the banks. And if you save all the debt that the people owe to the banks – and you foreclose on the millions of families that forfeited their homes in the mortgage crisis – if you leave the debts growing at compound interest, raise the debt equity ratios and the debt-to-income ratios, then the economy is going to shrink and shrink, and we’re in a slow crash. So in a sense the celebration over “Yes, we saved the banks” was correct last week, but people don’t realize that the economy cannot be saved unless there’s a bank crash.

That’s what Sheila Bair wrote in her memoir about her experience as the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She pointed out that Citibank was insolvent from losing all its net worth on bad gambles. She said it was the worst managed bank in America – as distinct from the just plain crooked banks and criminal banks like Countrywide, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. She said that there was plenty of theft by Citibank, but that all the insured depositors could have been reimbursed. No insured depositor would have lost money. But the stockholders and the bondholders that ran this gambling institution would have been wiped out. She said that Obama and Geithner really represented Citibank. Geithner was a protégé of Robert Rubin, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton. She wrote that she found out, she was told, “It’s all about the bondholders.”

The problem is that Republican free-enterprise bankers discussing what happened ten years ago are saying, “Nothing to see here folks. Everything’s fixed now. We don’t have to do any regulation. Let the banks be free again.” Or, you have Democrats like Paul Krugman who cannot bring themselves to criticize what Obama did. A week ago, on September 14, Krugman showed himself to be a flack for the banks and for the Democrats’ donor class by writing that the Washington Beltway was crazy to believe that America had a debt problem. As I wrote in my article, he said that all you need is Keynesian policy to run a large enough budget deficit to spend enough  money into the economy so that wage earners will have enough to pay the banks what they owe. I think this is the Democratic Party’s position: The role of wage earners is to make enough money so that all of their income over and above survival needs has to be paid for the banks. More and more income is needed to pay carrying charges as their debts keep rising.

Let me quote what Krugman wrote in The New York Times: “The purely financial aspect of the crisis was basically over by the summer of 2009.” But we’re still living in the rest of the financial crisis! The debt crisis is a financial crisis. He criticized the common-sense observation that I’m sure most of your listeners can realize right away: He referred to the “bizarre Beltway consensus that despite high unemployment and record low interest rates, debt, not jobs, is the real problem.” He says there’s no debt problem; it’s all just jobs, and if you pay people more, then they can pay the banks.

There’s no feeling at all within the Democratic Party that somehow the banks should have been subordinate to saving the economy. I think that is a major reason why Hillary lost the 2016 election. She kept saying, “Aren’t you better off today than you were eight years ago when Mr. Obama was elected?” Well, most people, especially in the Midwest, said, “No, we’re not better off. Are you kidding? We’ve lost our homes, employment’s down, our wages are lower, our pension funds are being seized. Of course we’re not better.” So more and more voters stayed home. Just today I was reading a survey that 55% to 85% of Americans say if there was a rerun of the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary they just wouldn’t vote, because both candidates were so bad.

So what you really have seen in this anniversary is not the discussion that you need to have: How are we going to deal with the next crisis to avoid bailing out the banks all over again? If we don’t bail out the banks, what’s the policy? How are we going to take over the insolvent banks – that means, take them public. Sheila Bair pointed out that if Citibank would have been taken over by FDIC it wouldn’t have made crooked loans, it wouldn’t have made junk mortgages. It wouldn’t have made corporate takeover loans, it wouldn’t have made loans to payday lenders, it wouldn’t have made derivative gambles. That’s not what public banks do.

That discussion somehow isn’t occurring. It’s not occurring because people don’t realize that in any economy – not only in America; you’re having the same thing in Europe – the volume of debt expands exponentially, by compound interest. All the debt that people owe keeps mounting up more and more arrears. And if you miss a payment on your credit card, or even if you miss a payment to the electric utility or any other monthly bills, your credit card’s interest rate goes up from 11 or 12% to 29%. All this accumulates up and up and up. And the result is that personal debt service relative to income is going up. Corporate debt service relative to income is going way up, and the share of government budgets that must be paid to bondholders is going up. That means that people don’t have enough money to go and buy the goods and services they produce.

Here in New York, where I live there are whole blocks down 8th Street or Broadway or 5th Avenue or Madison Avenue with more and more stores empty and for rent, because the stores are going out of business. Restaurants especially are going out of business. The big chains that have been going out of business, as you’ve seen—not only Toys R Us but the whole slew of the big global and American chains are going out. People do not have enough money to buy goods and services anymore. All of this is celebrated as “Saving the banks” instead of “Destroying the economy.” This is Orwellian Doublethink.

It’s as if keeping the debts in place instead of writing them down was a victory for the economy. The reality is that it was only a victory of the banks and their bondholders. The economy at large is going to keep limping along until it does what every other economy has done in similar conditions – write down the debts. If it doesn’t write them down, you can look at what’s happened in Greece as our future: more and more austerity.

The first debts to be wiped out are going to be what companies and states owe for pension payments. You’ll see pensions wiped out, and you’ll see Social Security scaled back. The vice is going to be tightening financially on people. That should be what people are talking about when they talk about the disaster of 2008

The first thing Obama did when he was elected was to send a list of recommended cabinet positions to Rubin at Citicorp. So Citicorp got to name the cabinet. Of course, it wasn’t going to accept anyone who would regulate it, or any people in Justice who would throw a banker in jail. That’s the crisis. It’s a political crisis now that is tearing America apart. But it’s not a crisis that’s being talked about in the press.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You indicated that unless debts are canceled, the economy will suffer debt deflation and austerity. Could you remind everyone what is meant by the term debt deflation?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I have a chapter on that in my book Killing the Host. The term debt deflation was coined in the 1930s by Irving Fisher. He said when the debts are left in place and people are losing their jobs, corporate employment is shrinking and wages are not growing, the debts tend to grow and grow. That means more and more of people’s income is diverted to pay banks instead of paying for goods and services. So what’s happened today is, people think of prices as the price that they pay for consumer goods and that’s the consumer price index. But the Federal Reserve had a choice. It created $4.4 trillion worth of credit and gave it all to Wall Street. Not a penny was given to the economy at large. The aim was to support asset prices for the real estate and other collateral backing bank loans.

So there’s been a huge creation of money to support the banks to enable them to keep the debts – including the bad debts and the fraudulent debts – in place. But this $4.3 trillion could have been used to write down the debts. It could have been used to buy the excess mortgages, to write down the bank mortgages to realistic values so they wouldn’t be junk mortgages, but realistic mortgages. They could have lowered the cost of housing for people on mortgage. They could have essentially freed much of the economy from debt. And your listeners can imagine: If you didn’t have to pay your credit card debt, your student loan debt and your mortgage debt or your other debts to the bank, think of how much better your life would be. Think of all the things you could spend your money on. You’d buy more, and you wouldn’t be so badly squeezed.

This was the road that could have been taken. But you can’t bail out the banks, leave the debts in place and rescue the economy too. Somebody has to lose. That’s what happened in 2009 when President Obama came in. He invited the bankers to the White House and – I give all the quotations in my book – he said, “I’m the only guy standing between you and the mob with pitchforks.” Hillary called her voters “the deplorables,” but Obama called them “the mob with pitchforks.” He meant the voters he was bamboozling when he assured the bankers and promised them that his loyalty was to his campaign donors not the voters. He fronted for them when he looked at his supporters and Democratic voters, and called them “the mob with pitchforks.” And he treated them that way.

The people he put in place were so pro-Wall Street that he then put in place the second big deflationary ploy, ObamaCare, the Republican healthcare privatization plan to financialize health care, eating further into labor’s take-home pay.

People don’t realize that a large portion of the politicians elected as Democrats are actually Republicans running as Democrats. They’re called Blue Dogs, such as Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp etc. Under Obama the Democratic Party would only promote quasi-Republicans to run as Democrats. They tried to purge the party of anyone who was pro-labor or pro-Bernie. You can see what they did to Bernie, and what they’ve continued to do with him. They’ve made sure that it is impossible for voters to select the 2020 Democratic candidate, because they’ve turned over most of the convention’s nominating power to non-elected representatives. They don’t get to vote until the second ballot, to be sure, but the second ballot will happen if nobody gets 50% on the first ballot and there are going to be so many people running that of course no candidate is going to get 50% on the first ballot. So the Democratic Party has been captured by the same Wall-Street people that put in Presidents Clinton and Obama.

To answer your questio, people’s credit card balances are going to keep accruing interest, their student loans are not going to be cancelled, their mortgage charges are going up as interest rates rise, and its going to be a slow crash. People are having to struggle. More than half of Americans, according to the Federal Reserve, cannot raise $400 in an emergency. They are literally one paycheck away from homelessness or disaster or losing their house or missing a credit card payment that will increase their interest rates from 11% to 29%.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Could you explain what is meant by the term quantitative easing and how it re-inflates asset prices? I’m thinking of the housing market, for instance.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The term quantitative easing is meant to confuse people. What’s being eased, and what is the quantity? The Federal Reserve went to the banks and said, “You can give us all of the loans that you’ve written – mortgage loans, junk mortgages and other loans – with us, and we will count them as Federal Reserve deposit. It’s a cash-for-trash swap. This pumped $4.3 trillion into bank reserves, enabling banks to lend to inflate prices for stocks, bonds and real estate. The pretense was that this would enable the banks to start lending to factories again, into the economy, to put people back to work.

This cover story is truly bizarre, because for the last hundred years, banks haven’t lent to build factories. They only lend against assets in place, or steady reliable income that comes in. Almost 70% of real capital investment for factories and industry is done with retained earnings of corporations. The other capital investment is financed by stock issues, by the stock market. Banks don’t lend to build capital. But they dolend to corporate raiders to take over companies.

What the Federal Reserve did was create so much credit for banks that interest rates went down to 0.1%. That’s what you’d get by lending to the government, the interest rates were virtually zero on their bank savings deposits. That meant is that banks and their customers can borrow 0.1% or 1%, and they can buy a whole entire company whose –stock dividends are yielding 5, 6, 7 or 8%. So you can borrow 1% from the banks, thanks to how the Federal Reserve has given them $4.3 trillion in liquidity, and you can use this money to buy a company on credit. You replace the company stock with bonds, because you’ve borrowed the money, so now it’s debt instead of equity.

Once you’ve bought the company what do you do? Well, the first thing is to grab the workers’ pension funds. That’s what happened at the Chicago Tribune. The raider, Samuel Zell, grabbed their funds to pay his creditors and backers.

Secondly, you downsize. You try to squeeze out as much profit as you can by shrinking the labor force, by working it harder, by telling the labor unions, “If you go on strike then we’re going to declare bankruptcy, which will wipe out the pension funds that you think we owe you – unlessyou agree to change your pension program from a defined payout (so you know what you’re going to get as a pension) to a defined contribution plan (where all you know is how much you’re going to pay in every month).”

They raise prices to consumers, and the result is crapification of the corporations that are taken over. So essentially, the credit that the Federal Reserve has created was given to raiders to crapify the economy, to downsize it, outsource it and move production abroad for cheaper labor. This became part of the class war of finance against the rest of the economy.

Hardly any of this quantitative easing or money creation was spent into the economy. It went to the financial sector. People talk about money being created by helicopters dropping it down on the economy. The helicopter only flies over Wall Street. That’s the key thing to understand. The Federal Reserve was created to replace the Treasury, to shift monetary policy and economic policy out of the hands of Washington, out of the hands of elected officials, into the hands of the banks. That is why the Federal Reserve acts as the board of directors for the banking system. It takes an adversarial position against the rest of the economy, not for it.

That’s why, for instance, Ben Bernanke, who was head of the Federal Reserve under Obama, wrote a paper a little while ago saying that there wasn’t any crisis in 2008. In his view, there was a panic, simply because people didn’t have faith. If you have faith in the neoliberal system and its rising debt overhead, everything will be okay. It’s as if there’s no underlying problem. So Mr. Bernanke goes hand-in-hand with people like Paul Krugman in saying that debt doesn’t matter, because we owe it to ourselves. But, of course, who are the “ourselves”? The debt is owed by the 99% to the 1%, and debt does matter if you’re the 1%. That’s why you’re growing and the 99% isn’t. The 1% holds the 99% in deepening debt. That’s the situation in which the U.S. economy has locked itself into today.

BONNIE FAULKNER: How does this procedure re-inflate asset prices?

MICHAEL HUDSON: If you can borrow from the Federal Reserve at 0.1%, then you can buy corporate bonds that are yielding 5 or 6%, so you buy stocks. All this quantitative easing credit money was lent to buyers of stocks and bonds. That pushed up their prices. Also, you could buy mortgages. There were all these mortgages that would have lost money that are paying 5 or 6% – but now you can borrow at 1%, and make 4% arbitrage on the difference between what you can squeeze out of real estate or a corporation and what you have to pay the bank as low interest.

So the rise in bank credit was used to inflate asset prices, including the housing prices that people have to pay to buy a house. It wasn’t used to help people’s income or their spending on goods and services. It was to inflate capital gains for stocks, bonds, and real estate. And most of the stock and bond market is owned by the wealthiest 1%.

So basically, all this quantitative easing was creating wealth for the 1% without helping the 99%. In fact, it was almost guaranteeing that most pension funds and even insurance companies and personal savings would fail to provide for the retirement. That’s because if the quantitative easing bids up bond prices, the bond yield is falling to about 1% for longer-term government bonds – 0.1% if you want to keep your money safe in short-term US Treasury bonds. So people who put their money in their banks or in a money-market fund to save for retirement weren’t getting any interest. All the mathematical programs specify how much a state, city or corporate employer has to put aside in order to be able to pay the pensions that’s promised. These mathematical forecasts should have been thrown out the window, because the projected income gains didn’t materialize. That made some pension funds so desperate they went to Wall Street and said, “Can’t you make more money?” The Wall Street money managers took the pension-fund money and put it into outright mathematical gambles (“derivatives”), or into corporate junk bonds, takeover loans and corporate raids. So instead of the pension funds being used to help labor, they were used to help corporate raiders buy companies and fire labor and downsize its working conditions. That make the world much harder to survive in.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Right, because if the pension funds were counting on interest accrual to keep them solvent, with no interest they were forced to do something else with the money.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Either they earn very little income, which is what’s happened, or they take risks hoping for gambling and “capital” asset-price gains. There have been, many lawsuits by state and local pension funds against Wall Street saying they were tricked. When the Wall Street boys see a pension fund manager coming in – a lot of these people are not quite as sophisticated because Wall Street hires the most sophisticated people – they look at you like a lawyer would look at you: “How much does this client have and how can I take the money out of his pocket and put it into my pocket?” They were ripped off. The fastest growing banks that have been liable for the most civil penalties for fraud have settled and said, “Okay, we cheated you. We have to give you some of the money back.” That’s been tying up the U.S. court system for the last few years.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You point out that when the debt is so enormous that the banks are not able to collect, they gain control of the government to make it pay. How do they do this?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Almost 100% of mortgages for houses under about $600,000 are now guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority. Banks will not make loans on housing, or student loans, unless the government promises that if the loan goes bad, the government will pay. So the banks take zero risk. Meanwhile, they charge very high student loan rates because they say, “Oh, they’re very risky,” but all the risk is on the government. If a student defaults from the loan – and we’re having rising default rates on student loans – then the bank not only gets to go to the government and say, “Give us the money that the students would have paid,” but also, “Let us charge enormous penalty fees.” The penalty fees are as high as the interest rate.

So the government ends up paying the banks, making sure that they have no risk at all in mortgage loans, student loans, and other loans because they’re federally guaranteed. It’s as if the government countersigns on every loan. Just as if somebody’s parent countersigned on the student loan, the government countersigns and guarantees the banks against loss. So it’s a zero risk operation.

Well, if its zero risk, you ask, why should they get interest? Why shouldn’t they just get their fees? If the government’s going to guarantee their loans, why doesn’t it directly have its housing agency make the loans directly where there’s no incentive to write junk mortgages, no incentive to falsify, no incentive to do the crooked activities that Citibank pleaded guilty for, Bank of America pleaded guilty for, Wells Fargo pleaded guilty for and the other banks? This is simply bizarre.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You write that “FICA wage withholding and allied taxes are levied to bail out the creditor class.” If FICA withholding is supposed to be for Social Security and Medicare, how is it bailing out the creditor class?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I don’t remember writing it exactly that way. I think I must have said that the way the FICA is designed is that only people who earn incomes up to $120,000 have to pay. Rich people don’t have to pay any FICA charges on the high income that they get over $120,000 a year. They don’t have to pay any FICA charges for Social Security and tax on capital gains. They don’t have to make any FICA payments on income that they eally make in the United States but their accountants pretend that they make in Ireland or in offshore banking centers. So they let the sophisticated financial sector, people who make over $120,000 a year not pay. It’s paid for by the bottom 99%, not by the top 1% or even the top 10%.

BONNIE FAULKNER: When a bank makes a loan, let’s say for $100, $100 is then created or put into the money supply. What is not created or put into circulation at the time of the loan is the interest. Where does the money for the interest come from?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That has to be paid out of the borrower’s income. So if you borrow, if you spend $100 or more on your credit card, you get to spend the $100 but then by the end of the year, you’ll have to spend either an extra $11 in interest out of your income, or $29 if you’re at a penalty rate and have missed a payment anywhere. So the interest is paid out of income that otherwise would have been spent on buying goods and services.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Let’s talk about your FIRE sector, finance, insurance and real estate. How would you describe these three sectors of the economy, and why do you lump them together?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I group them together because they’re basically a symbiotic sector. 80% of bank loans are to the real estate sector. As a result, over 80% of bank income comes from mortgage interest. So if you are trying to buy a house, the price is worth whatever a bank is going to lend you to buy it. If you go to buy a house and there are other buyers who are going to want to buy the same house, you bid against each other, and the winner is usually the one who’s willing to pay all the rental value of the house as interest. The same thing is true for commercial property. Rent is for paying interest. If you’re buying a building, you’ll say, “Here’s the rent roll of the building, and here are my expenses. All the net rent that I get over and above expenses, I can pay the bank for amortization and interest.” So the bank will get everything.

Now, why would a real-estate developer or speculator do that? It’s because they expect to make a capital gain, because that’s not going to be taxed. It’s not taxed if you keep plowing it back into buying more and more real estate. It’s not taxed if you die, it’s not taxed if you have a good accountant. So basically, the real estate sector has become a function of finance.

Same thing with insurance companies. Ever since the 19th century, banks used insurance companies as front. In the 1830s, 150 years ago, New York State had a huge inquiry into the crooked insurance companies working with the crooked banks. The banks essentially underwrite insurance companies and work with them. So it’s a symbiotic sector. The first company that Citibank merged with after Clinton got rid of the Glass Steagall Act was to buy the Travelers Insurance Company so that it could combine their operations. Banks have been buying up insurance companies so if they make a loan to a homebuyer they say, “Okay, you have to pay us interest of your mortgage, but also, here’s the insurance that we’ll sell you for the home. We won’t give you a mortgage unless you buy insurance, and you have to buy insurance so that we know that if your home burns down or there’s something flooded, we get reimbursed. You pay for all the risk.” So insurance is part of every real-estate loan. So insurance, finance, and real estate are parts of the same sector.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You write that today’s financially dysfunctional economy cannot be saved without a bank crash. So if we don’t have a bailout and we don’t save the banks, we let them crash, okay. How does that benefit the economy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I said that the debt problem is what’s hurting the economy. You could call it a savings problem, because one person’s debt is another’s savings. So the debt that’s owed by the 99% appears on the other side of the balance sheet as the savings of the 1%. The FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, insures the bread-and-butter depositors, the people who use banks for checking accounts and savings accounts up to $250,000. A bank crash would wipe out the stockholders, would wipe out most of the bondholders, but would save the insured depositors. It would save the economy, but it would wipe out all of these savings of the 1% that represent the debts of the 99%.

The economy cannot recover if today’s debts all remain in place. If people continue to pay all the credit card debt they owe, all the mortgage debts they owe and all the car loans they owe, they’re not going to be able to increase their spending on goods and services. And if they cant increase their spending on what they produce, there’s going to be less production and fewer stores, fewer sales outlets. The economy’s going to shrink, just as in Greece.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Could you explain how the Eurozone has exposed austerity Greek-style on itself by limiting deficits of over 3% of GDP? Of course, the United States doesn’t do that.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The United States and England have central banks that can simply monetize a government deficit. One of the good things that President Obama did after he created the debt depression was to at least begin running a modest deficit to spend money into the economy. If the private sector is shrinking and not employing people at rising wages, then the government can spend money and as the employer of last resort. The government can spend to keep the economy fully employed at decent living standards.

Europe is different. The Eurozone was designed by rightwing politicians. It was basically a fascist plan, fascist as in the 1930s, fascist as in the Austrian School. Their pretense is, “We don’t want government spending to be inflationary.” That means, “We don’t want government spending to raise wages.” The Eurozone was created as an anti-labor, organization that will not let any member country run budget deficits even if there’s mass unemployment, even if there are underused resources, even if people are losing their homes. It won’t spend money into the economy to help it recover. The Lisbon agreement has written this law into the European constitution.

So they got rid of every country’s central bank and concentrated money creation in the European Central Bank. It will not let governments run deficits of more than 3% – meaning very small amounts of money. Yet the European Central Bank also has created about $4 trillion dollars worth of money only for the banks. So the Eurozone is basically a class war against labor. The intention of the Eurozone from the beginning was to break labor unions, to increase unemployment, to make living standards fall by about 20%, to shorten the life spans, to increase suicide rates, increase disease rates and lower birth rates. All of this was written at the time, as if this is a solution to the inflation problem, not a problem in itself. The solution to the economic problem, the Eurozone said, is people are living too well. We have to cut their living standards by 5, 10, 20% so that all the money goes to the wealth creators, namely the financial sector.

This plan is evil. It is the libertarian, Austrian economic plan that underlay the Eurozone from the beginning. The result is what you have in Greece, where the unemployment rate is near 30%. Lifespans are shortening, emigration is rising, people in their twenties and thirties are having to leave the country to find work, because there’s no work there. The government cannot do what the United States did in the Depression by setting up public works, public infrastructure spending to helpi the economy recover.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You mention in your article “The End of History at the Close of Roman Antiquity and an Ensuing Dark Age” – what did the dark age look like economically and how was it brought about?

MICHAEL HUDSON: The Roman historians Livy, Plutarch and others blamed the decline of Rome on creditors holding the rest of the economy in debt, foreclosing on the land, and ending up concentrating all the land ownership in their own hands. The result was impoverishment throughout the western Roman Empire, that is western Europe. Byzantium was relatively free of this.

In order to survive, laborers had to become clients of a wealthy creditor or landowner. That was serfdom. The essence of serfdom was that all the economic surplus was turned over to the landowner, and the serf owed military duty to the landlord, owed the crops to the landlord, and was supposed to be assured the bare minimum subsistence needed to live.

History stopped because progress stopped, investment stopped, literacy stopped. The money economy dried up for the 99%. The only money that was spent was by the lords at the top who lived in their manors and would continue to buy luxuries for themselves. But the vast majority of the population lived at subsistence levels.

This idea of serfdom has been rechristened the “end of history” by Francis Fukuyama who wrote a book on that a few years ago, after America defeated Russia in the Cold War. He said that the neoliberal world would make itself eternal. All power to the banks. It would be a wonderful world. The banks will take care of us and history has stopped evolving. We don’t need any more changes. All we need is to let the new status quo unfold.

That’s what we’re moving toward today. The new status quo is repeating what happened in the Roman Empire. People are falling more and more into debt, they’re losing their homes. Home ownership is falling, they’re more and more dependent on their employers. Labor unions are losing their power, because the workers are afraid to go on strike or even to protest working conditions. If they protest or strike they will be fired and they’re one paycheck away from homelessness or losing their house. So the population has lost it’s independence – and there’s an increasing dependency on employers.

The difference from post-Roman serfdom is that people can live wherever they want today, unlike serfs tied to the land. But wherever labor goes, it must to pay its economic surplus no longer to landlords, but to the financial lords, to the banks, creditors and bondholders behind the banks. The surplus goes to the creditor class that holds them in debt, through the banking system, the insurance system, the credit system and the political system. Now that politics has been essentially turned over to the donor class instead of the voter class, you have essentially voting by wealth, meaning by campaign contributions, and a loss of the popular power to protect its own interest and living standards.

BONNIE FAULKNER: So in Roman antiquity all the wealth was driven to the very top layer, which then led to a serfdom of the population. It sounds like the same thing is happening today only on a global level, right?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes, that’s my point.

BONNIE FAULKNER: What is your assessment of President Trump’s tariff and trade wars?

MICHAEL HUDSON: I’ve written quite a bit on tariff policy and protectionism. America got rich by protectionist policy. My book America’s Protectionist Takeoff: 1815-1914 is all about that, and my Trade, Development and Foreign Debt is all about that. There is a logic for protectionism, but the logic you want is to build up manufacturing and high value-added by minimizing the cost of raw materials and the cost of labor.

What Trump is doing is the opposite of what traditional protectionism advised. Instead of lowering the cost to American manufacturers, he raised the price of steel, raised the price of aluminum, raised the price of raw materials and other inputs. This squeezes American manufacturers. Suppose you’re a car maker or you’re making beer cans. Canadians, Europeans, Mexicans, producers all over the world who are making cars, refrigerators or beer cans can now buy aluminum and steel much cheaper than American companies can. So they can afford to make products at a lower price than American companies have to charge to break even. They can undersell American manufacturers.

So what Trump has put in place is a unemployment for American manufacturing. His strategy is to spread the Rust Belt from the Midwest to the entire country and make the whole country look like Detroit. He doesn’t seem to realize that. Nobody explained to him that there actually is a protectionist strategy but he’s doing it wrong.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Right. It seems like from what he says he doesn’t understand what he’s doing.

MICHAEL HUDSON: One hopes that’s the case. One hopes he’s not intentionally wiping out American manufacturing companies, but that’s certainly the effect.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Right. Now, these tariffs that he’s imposing, these constitute a trade war. Is that right?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That seems to be the case. He thinks it’s a trade war. Russia has said thank you very much for doing us a favor. The tariffs go hand-in-hand with sanctions against Russia and China, and so now the Russians who had moved their money abroad are moving it back into Russia. Russia and China under the World Trade Organization would not have been allowed to raise tariffs on particular industries to protect themselves. But now they are allowed, under the rules, to retaliate against American acts of trade war.

So now, other countries are legally able to erect tariffs against whatever they choose, by an equal and offsetting amount to the American warfare. This is helping other countries become more independent, especially in agriculture, which I think is very desirable. I think every country should produce its own food supply and its own means of support. So Trump is helping other countries become more independent of the United States. If they hesitate to do it, he’s forcing them to become more independent of the United States.

He’s not letting China use its balance of payments and trade surplus to buy American industries, so China is building these industries at home. So he’s spurring the disinvestment in America and the flight of capital out of America into Asia, the Third World and Europe.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Well, you just mentioned that President Trump is preventing the Chinese from buying American industries. How is he doing that?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Basically illegally. He says it’s national security. If they buy a filling station, like they wanted to buy some gas stations in California, he says that’s a threat to national security. He’s saying that if we buy Chinese consumer goods that are sold at Wal-Mart, that’s a threat to our national security.

There is a special clause in trade treaties that countries are able to protect national security. And he says, “Our national security lies in controlling every other country. To reduce every other country, let’s monopolize information technology, let’s monopolize the world and charge whatever we want, and to reduce them to dependency. Our national security is threatened if we can’t destroy every country economically.” So he’s defined national security as economic warfare against humanity. Congress has gone along with that and has let him do it.

This is war against humanity. It’s war against every other country, saying that no country can grow unless all of the result of their growth is paid to American firms and ultimately to American financiers and the 1% so that the 1% can use that to fight its real enemy, the 99%. Essentially, this is the plan for neo-serfdom.

BONNIE FAULKNER: How do economic sanctions, particularly secondary sanctions, work to bring down an economy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: If European countries and even China will buy Iranian oil or trade with Iran or North Korea or anyone that America doesn’t like, we can kick them out of the SWIFT system of bank clearing. When you write a check to somebody, it goes through a computerized bank clearing operation. Even though this SWIFT system is run out of Luxembourg, the Americans threaten to smash the whole system and break everybody’s payment system. It will pull out all of the connections of the economy.

Russia has moved quickly to create its own alternative to SWIFT, and other countries are making their own clearing systems and trade patterns as quickly as possible to become independent of the United States’ ability to wreck their economies by sanctions. So they’re going to trade less with the United States. They’re not going to use American banks, they’re bypassing the U.S. economy in every way.

The result of what Trump is doing is isolationism. Other countries are not dealing with the American banking system and they’re not becoming dependent on American agriculture because America may say, “We’ll do what we did to China in the 1950s. We won’t export any grain to you so as to starve you out.” China’s response was, “We’ll grow our own grain and have an agricultural revolution”, which they’ve done.

Essentially, America is trying to say that it will punish any country that buys foreign oil instead of American oil. We want to sell high-priced American gas. If Europe wants to buy cheap Russian or Iranian gas, we will wreck its economy. And what he doesn’t say is that we will assassinate foreign leaders who want to become independent. We will have a political war and interfere to try and make sure that pro-Americans are elected.

The basic tactic is to disrupt their food chain, their supply chains and bank transfer mechanisms, as well as their information technology if they don’t move quickly to become independent and treat the United States as a pariah country.

BONNIE FAULKNER: I’ve read that the Trump administration is putting economic sanctions on a Chinese military agency for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles that violate U.S. sanctions on Russia.

MICHAEL HUDSON: I think that’s right, yes. America says, “China, you have to buy your high-priced airplanes from us. Don’t buy Russian exports.” America has a real problem with the Russian military, because it is more efficient and technologically superior to that in the United States. America says, “China, we forbid you to buy superior Russian defense systems because we want to be able to atom bomb you to smithereens whenever we want, and we’re going to fight against you if you defend yourself. You have to buy high-priced F35s from us that don’t work, instead of buying Russian anti-aircraft radar systems that do work.” So essentially it’s a trade war with a military assist attached to it.

BONNIE FAULKNER: So is the U.S. waging economic warfare on the rest of the world?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Economic, military, demographic, every form of warfare – political, cultural, multidimensional warfare against the rest of the world.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Who do you think President Trump is taking advice from?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Nobody really knows. I guess from whoever gives him the largest campaign contribution, just like any other president, just like Obama or Bush or Clinton. They all seem to be up for sale.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, thank you very much.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s always good to be here, Bonnie.

BONNIE FAULKNER: I’ve been speaking with Dr. Michael Hudson. Today’s show has been: Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empireis a critique of how the Untied States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt, among many others. His latest books are, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economyand J Is for Junk Economics. Dr. Hudson acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide on finance and tax law. Visit his website at michael-hudson.com.

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Syria: The New “Terra Nullius”

November 4th, 2018 by Maximilian Forte

Syria, seat of an Islamic Caliphate. Syria, site of the Middle East’s newest liberal democracy. Syria, socialist paradise. Syria, a corrupt and murderous dictatorship that practices genocide. Syria, a failed state. Syria a state that is too strong. Syria, soon to be partitioned into ethnic enclaves. Syria, a pawn of Iran. Syria, a tool of Russia. Syria, a haven for terrorists that threaten our friends and way of life. Syria, where Saddam sent his fabled WMDs. In other words: Syria is whatever you want it to be. Syria, if it exists, apparently only exists to satisfy your desires, where you get to freely confuse where you think the world ought to go, with where it is going.

Syria, if you take at face-value any of the many authoritative North American and European pronouncements about “what needs to be done,” has seemingly joined the list of “disappeared” nation-states. It was a country made to vanish into thin air, like Libya, Iraq, and Yugoslavia before it. Anything goes when it comes to Syria: it can be whatever we imagine it to be. It was as if “Syria” was just a name for a template. We speak and behave as if it were first a tabula rasa—a clean slate—or more accurately, terra nullius—a land belonging to no one. It is land that belongs to no one, that is, until we arrive on the scene and forge our models for a new Syria. Syrians are not allowed to have their Syria until we first get a say on what Syria will be.

Syria Not For Syrians

Over the past seven years we have seen in virtually every side to the foreign debate about Syria’s present and future(s) an immense amount of apparently self-gratifying wishful thinking. We have witnessed the very real danger involved in the ideological mode of thinking, especially when the ideologies are backed by real material power and conveyed as action on the ground. Whenever we have the rare chance to hear any Syrians, they are instantly dismissed and disqualified by one side or another. We are happier dealing with a “Syria” that is a figment of our political imaginations, a projection of the discontents we have with our own domestic politics, a method for beating up all “enemies, foreign and domestic”. “Syria” is the plaything of those who are equal to any of our hedge fund managers: we pick a side, and bet on it. More than that even, “Syria” is a meeting ground for fantasy and political economy, and it’s a sign of just how ugly is the recolonization effort wrought by neoliberal globalization.

And it most definitely is the case that what we are dealing with here is globalization’s destruction of sovereignty, of national self-determination. How do we know that? Watch this: while there was no real debate about the US sending troops to Syria (where they can cancel out Syria’s sovereignty), there was instead massive, urgent, melodramatic panic about the US sending troops to its own border, where they could affirm US sovereignty. If a nation can send its troops to another continent, but not to its own border (i.e., stay at home), something is really wrong. Some must have wondered what US troops were doing on the US border, as if they naturally belonged in Syria instead. The jarring juxtaposition of the two contrasting stances came out in a single question by a reporter at a White House press briefing—a reporter who nevertheless failed to note the contrast:

“there seems to be a perception that, at times, the President makes announcements and then the White House has to come up with policy to match what the President said. Like with the talk about the military at the border, there weren’t really a lot of details about that at first. And with the issue with Syria, and him saying he wanted to, kind of, pull all the troops back”.

In another White House press briefing, reporters once again failed to notice the absurd contradiction between their thinly veiled criticisms of Trump’s desire to pull US troops back from Syria, while apparently complaining about the decision to send troops to the US border. The only way one can reconcile these two apparently contradictory positions is to recognize that they both reduce to a common denominator: the destruction of nations as viable entities. Any and all nations, everywhere, have been the target. Some were surprised to learn that this included the US itself.

Syria, likewise, is denied the right to defend itself. It has no right to its own territory. Israel is free to bomb at will, as are a range of NATO members, and the US can freely decide to make a presence for itself, to create “interests” on Syrian soil (which in principle, does not exist). When other nations send forces at the request of the Syrian government, then those nations suddenly have no right to be there. Why not? Because they are there precisely as a result of decisions made by the Syrian government, and Syria can have no government because it also has no soil. Who decided on this arrangement?

For globalization to work, it required a policeman. After all, neoliberals believe that states are still useful as law enforcers. This introduced a fatal flaw into the globalist agenda, which was pushed and enforced by states: not all states are equal in power, and thus the only reliable global policeman was the US. The US, some would argue, has no right to determine who crosses its borders, yet retains the right to decide on who is allowed across Syrian borders. That such arrangements are subject to a backlash in the US itself, the power core of globalization, is the main reason that globalization is in such extreme jeopardy.

For the globalists, Syria and the US are nonetheless alike in one key respect: they both belong to the rest of the world. What they are not allowed to belong to is themselves. The world the globalists tried to invent out of thin air was one of forced associations, unwanted encounters, and false dependencies. No wonder that the reactions have in some cases been so scathing, so filled with spite. If such reactions are deemed a problem, and if one wanted to avoid such reactions, then logically you would cease creating the causes of the problem. But the world imagined by globalists was never inhabited by real people; it was a world where everyone was subject to “learned helplessness” and like a repeatedly abused dog learned to “just take it”—a world that was unreal, inhumane, and was therefore never sustainable.

Terra Nullius

This is how Sven Lindqvist explains the idea of “terra nullius” in his book, published in English in 2007:

Terra nullius. From the Latin terra, earth, ground, land, and nullius, no one’s.

“Thus: no one’s land, land not belonging to anybody. Or at any rate, not to anybody that counts.

“Originally: land not belonging to the Roman Empire.

“In the Middle Ages: land not belonging to any Christian ruler.

“Later: land to which no European state as yet lays claim. Land that justly falls to the first European state to invade the territory.

“Empty land. Uninhabited land. Land that will soon be uninhabited because it is populated by inferior races, condemned by the laws of nature to die out. Land where the original inhabitants are, or can soon be rendered, so few in number as to be negligible.

“The legal fictions summed up as terra nullius were used to justify the European occupation of large parts of the global land surface”. (Lindqvist, 2007, pp. 3–4)

Syria was land not belonging to the Roman Empire, until it was. It is also land not belonging to the American Empire, and powerful interests in the US would obviously like to change that. Outside of the high echelons of the military-industrial-complex, other US interests have also vested themselves in Syria. A loose coalition has formed, ranging from generals in the Pentagon right across to establishment media, freelance “journalists,” self-appointed humanitarian activists, and university-based anarchists and some Marxist academics. They all agree on one fundamental point: Syria can no longer belong to Syria alone; Syrian decision-making, and the right to make decisions about citizens on Syrian territory, is to be subject to some sort of veto wielded by foreigners, backed by US firepower.

For this mission of foreign ideological occupation to work, Syria first has to be symbolically and politically emptied. Only an empty zone can be so liberally filled with fantasy and spectral assaults: fabricated gas attacks; mysterious missile strikes in the dead of night; cities in ruins suggesting they were once occupied by a settled, peaceful civilization that has long disappeared; and even mystery adversaries jamming US communications. The Onion, interestingly, had it right when in playing to the propaganda that has become the norm, it portrayed Syria as a land being trampled on by legendary monsters and super-human beasts, ruled by fears that “bombed-out buildings and blast craters could be harboring bands of angry scorpions, komodo dragons, mace-wielding cavaliers in full chain mail, or, as children recently swimming off the country’s coast discovered, giant piranhas”.

Chemical weapons, the weapons of the new barbarians, are an essential feature of the kinds of made-up tales that are made to prevail in a frontier zone of projected fantasies of monsters. In the land of make-believe “evil,” Sadistic Arab “dictators” unleash troops powered by Viagra to engage in systematic rape, rip babies from incubators, threaten to massacre entire cities, and then wipe out communities with poison gas. Accusations we would never tolerate against our own, let alone treat credibly, are instead freely plastered on others. It’s amazing that in the new, fastidious and prickly racism-consciousness that prevails in North American media and academia, such routine colonial racism is instead still perpetuated, as much as the incessant myth-making.

Fantasy is useful in other ways: by dismissing the value of evidence, and replacing facts with belief, any accusations can be given the weight of “credibility”—but only if enough people have been successfully trained to mistake credibility for truth. What the US has developed, for example, is a fact-free, faith-based approach in its foreign policy rhetoric, one that is used to justify permanent US intervention. Why? Because there is no objective argument one can make for one country to occupy another. It’s not a matter of logic and rationality; it’s a matter of ideology and a thirst for power.

Having projected onto Syria an absence of “civilization,” this creates wide open space for demonization. Demonization is a valued part of Western myth-making structures, especially in justifying imperial domination. Demonization turns very human opponents into monsters (and they are referred to as such, as monsters, animals, and of course “evil”). Adversaries of the West are played up as villains in a morality tale, that always allocates to us—by default—the role of saviours and victors, if we will have our victory (as the late Charles Krauthammer put it, “The choice is ours. To impiously paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: History has given you an empire, if you will keep it”). We thus have these endless moral crusades on our part, where morality is used to mask politics.

Moral crusaders love it when in the distance they make out the outline of a new terra nullius on the horizon. Places Shores like Syria offer the opportunity for adventure, to go out and exercise yourself, to use Syria as part of your own personal self-fulfillment, an object of your ambition and desire. Eurocentric missionary aspirations flourish in such contexts, robed as “humanitarian interventionism,” “internationalism,” “solidarity,” “civil society activism,” “democracy-building,” “conflict resolution,” “peace-building,” or just plain regime-change.

The paradox of foreign intervention is that it empties everyone, not just Syria. Britain and France earlier this year saw their foreign policy being taken over by the US, restricting any domestic parliamentary debate about the decision to militarily strike Syria, until well after the fact. The US was no exception: the decision to attack Syria in April of this year was done without Congressional approval. The process had been emptied of political representation by those elected and legally appointed to (dis)approve war-making, as dictated by the respective constitutions, which for a moment vanished. War, in violation of both international and domestic laws, damaged democracy in the US, UK, and France. This is what imperialism in the globalist age looks like, even when one of they key actors sometimes likes to sound like an angry anti-globalist.

The key themes of this renewed terra nullius are thus:

  • land without a legitimate state to own it;
  • civilization vs. barbarism (along with civilized vs. barbaric forms of violence, for example, Tomahawk missiles vs. nerve gas);
  • demonization and dehumanization;
  • a nation-state reduced to a “regime” which is reduced to one person who is reduced to a monster/animal; and,
  • a fertile site for imposed models.

One question readers might ask is: why? Why should “terra nullius” or anything resembling the idea be in use here? One simple theory is that any society works with a finite set of cultural materials. These cultural materials can be reproduced, amended, extended, or reworded. We end up with multiple translations of a small set of original sources. Imagine that centuries after European colonialism began, we are still speaking of “civilization” vs. “barbarism,” in the very same terms. A second theory, that goes with the first, is that except for cataclysmic situations (which are extremely rare—the exception), real cultural change occurs only very slowly, at an almost glacial pace. Changes to our basic cultural materials do take place in our lifetimes, but often more in form and application than a change in the original “code”.

Moral Imperialist Economy

Whenever members of a society imagine the rest of the world as a mass of “problems,” and imagine themselves as possessing the “solutions” to those problems, what we have then is the structure for a relationship that involves a transfer of capital. The producers of problems (in the periphery) owe a permanent debt to us in the centre, the exporters of solutions—ideally. Reality is different of course: this structural relationship of extraction needs to be maintained, and sometimes the maintenance costs exceed the profits. First, let’s look at some of the basic elements of the moral imperialist economy. Ideologically transforming Syria into a new terra nullius is a form of creative destruction (paralleled by real, military destruction), and as we should know, crisis always creates opportunity, and opportunity attracts opportunists.

Syria is a free for all for various patrons and clients. These new Wild Wests are a great place for freelancers of all kinds to upgrade their status, for example. Syria has thus been transformed into a Wild West of misinformation, of selective information, of forms of activism and a way to invest political interests in the creation of custom-made propaganda. Inevitably there are patrons for this or that stream of propaganda, whether it’s a news agency, the CIA, a NGO of some sort, or elements of “the crowd” funding one’s work through something like “gofundme”. The result is a kind of wild stock market for values of all kinds.

New commodities are produced by the new information warfare, designed to conduct war on the minds of all media consumers, whether of the established or social media kind (it makes little difference). One of the key new commodities is, of all things, the baby photo. Not just any babies though—no, these always have to be dead babies, sometimes mangled, sometimes partly decomposed, sometimes about to die, or those that have barely escaped death but are nonetheless permanently disfigured, burnt, or without limbs. These commodities are avidly traded by all sides.

The open borders/refugee advocates have their photo of a dead Syrian child on a beach; the regime changers have pictures of child gas victims; and even the anti-imperialists have their photo of a little Palestinian boy, seized from a hospital bed, looking helpless moments before being beheaded by beefy bearded jihadists. Printing dead baby photos is like printing money. Such photos call the attention of powerful patrons, supposedly “provoked” to act when the photos are sufficiently publicized. When such patrons intervene, it further raises the value of such photos, virtually creating a demand for more. Now the most conclusive way to make one’s case “credible” is by flashing the appropriate dead baby photo. This commerce is part of the humanitarian trafficking that liberal imperial globalism encourages.

Wildly inflated numbers, numbers that go up, come down, that get divided, are indicative of the existence of this kind of stock market. Thus the debates over the number of civilians “killed by the regime,” and how often the number is inflated to include all the soldiers and civilians killed by those opposed to “the regime”. So everyone who has been killed in Syria was supposedly killed by the Syrian state—that’s convenient, because after all we have the moralistic demon tales that instruct us that “Assad is a monster,” and just like a monster, he “kills his own people”. (Funny, isn’t it, how easily we always manage to imagine these low-down Third World leaders as sub-humans.)

Status upgrades come easily: take the appropriate moralistic, virtuous stance in front of the right audience—by just saying that you believein X or Y—and lo and behold you have achieved a status upgrade. You are one of the good people, a trusted source, a credible figure, because you said the right things to the right people in the right place at the right time. This internationalized form of virtue signalling is almost as good as printing money, and nearly identical to it in its most basic sense.

Like in the Wild West, betting in the saloon is also common when it comes to Syria. The US State Department under Obama placed all its bets on some entity they invented, which they liked to call “moderate rebels” (why not “respectable terrorists” or “polite criminals”?). They lost. Numerous left-wing academics signed on to regime change years ago, and because they only pretend to be seasoned analysts for their day jobs, they did not foresee the collapse of the anti-government forces in Syria.

That list included noted “post-colonial” scholars and anthropologists, united in their belief in “democracy promotion” and remaking Syria into something palatable to them, with the right leaders in place. Five years later and a smaller group—including feminists like Gloria Steinem and Judith Butler, anarchists like Noam Chomsky and the anthropologist David Graeber, the Marxist David Harvey, and advocates of recolonization like Michael Walzer—placed their bets on socialist Kurdish militias, presumably increasing the value of their bet by the important sign value of their brand name authority.

Ironically, in the process of reimagining legendary Rojava as the site of a second Spanish Civil War, they were openly collaborating with Donald Trump (not naming him directly, since “the US government” was more convenient). These signatories were thus complicit with the very same commander-in-chief of the armed forces they were calling on for support of Syrian Kurds.

They wanted “the US government,” whose President is Donald Trump, to impose sanctions on Turkey, and to develop a foreign policy that put Kurdish interests at the forefront. You can be sure that, elsewhere, in front of different crowds, they return to “the Resistance” by puffing up their little chests and sounding all “anti-Trump”—but when it came to cheering their favourite band of ethnic anarchists, they could dispense with appearances. Less “prestigious” characters, publishing in a less “prestigious” outlet, countered the call to “defend Rojava”, a call which appropriated “progressive” politics for the cause of imperialism (thus reigniting an old marriage). (David Harvey, author of his volume, The New Imperialism, has recently changed his mind: he has decided that imperialism is merely a metaphor, “rather than anything real”. Out of curiosity, we have to wonder if “capitalism” is also a metaphor, rather than anything real, seeing how Marxists have linked capitalism with imperialism. Perhaps even socialism is a metaphor, rather than anything real.)

Of course activists, academics, and the freelancers that make all the Twitter noise, are just bit players in the drama of their dreams. Some of the really big heavy hitters are the various weapons manufacturers, politely termed “defense contractors,” and their army of lobbyists in Washington, DC. For them, any sniff of a chance for permanent occupation smells like permanent war, and thus permanent profit, paid for by debt in the present to be paid by future tax-payers. Advocates of permanent occupation concede only one alternative to occupation: regime change, thus recolonization, which has the same effect as permanent occupation. Advocates include beneficiaries of status upgrades like Senator Lindsey Graham, converted into the de facto US Secretary of State by his friends at Fox News and CNN.

For powerful patron states like the US, “chaos” offers valuable opportunities—in the technocrats’ language, this is duplicitously referred to as “preventing chaos”. The official assumption, intended for popular consumption, is that “chaos” predates foreign intervention. Remember: other peoples are producers of problems, chaos is thus a permanent and normal state for them. Add to the assumption that chaos predates US intervention the assumption that there is no Syrian government (the officially existing one is not acceptable to the US, so it vanishes), then Syria becomes the name for a wide-open wilderness.

That means the US gets to train and reinforce “local forces”—like the separatists cheered on by a select group of leftist academics. But this all costs money, what to do? Here comes Trump’s transfer of costs for extracting capital: emphasis is placed on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to pay for the costs of US occupation and proxy-training in Syria. This model is essentially one that places the US in the role of an international mercenary. Where such support payments are not forthcoming, then there is the fallback of debt-financed US military spending. The loans are provided by a range of creditors, domestic and foreign, including foreign central banks. Many states thus own US debt, and what we see here is essentially the rest of the planet financing its own domination by a US debt-fuelled warhorse. (This is one of the “secrets” that ought to inform revised and reworked theories of imperialism: empires function best and last longest when the ostensible objects of imperial domination actively collaborate in supporting empire. Theories uninformed by this observation can become trite conspiracy theories of imperialism.)

To maintain the value of US “investment” in Syria, the US needs to create a need for protection, while reducing the value of alternatives (competitors). One way to create a need for protection is to create crises that would seem to beg for it: phony gas attacks, like those happening at the end of a week of public debate that erupted after Trump announced he wished to withdraw US forces from Syria soon. Another means for bolstering US intervention in Syria is by invoking the threat of Iran.

As mentioned at the start of this section, the structural relationship of extraction needs to be maintained, and sometimes the maintenance costs exceed the profits. For example, “humanitarian activists” who plead for greater accessibility to refugees, disconnecting the fact of their homelessness from our own military interventions which uprooted those people in the first place, is one way that costs can exceed profits.

Humanitarians need to prove that they are needed, and refugees prove the need. However, the backlash from citizens in receiving countries who realize that refugee entrants, in large enough numbers, will usher in a new wave of de facto austerity measures as health, education, and public housing come under pressure, represents a threat to humanitarians and their careers. With humanitarian profit-seeking threatened, one way to respond is to caricature critics as xenophobic haters, which further inflames opposition to their project—few people accept having their pockets picked and being insulted. The result is a generalized closing of doors and the rise of parties that demand an end to foreign occupations.

Finally, I do not mean to imply that all imperialism reduces to economic factors alone. There are several different types and methods of imperialism, and sometimes military imperialism is decidedly uneconomical, just as economic imperialism can appear totally pacific.

Again, trite conspiracy theories about the presence of oil pipelines, or plans for building them—in other words, that there must always be some wonderfully profitable economic opportunity for imperialism to make sense—are sometimes wrong. What I am suggesting is that all types of imperialism must involve loss for the dominated, there is a transfer of values and costs, and a system of extraction, such that every type of imperialism could be analyzed as if it were economic in nature.

Dreaming of Power, Projecting Our Fantasies

No doubt most citizens in places like the US and Canada do not spend much time, or any time, worrying about Syria—and that is probably a good thing. If only their example could be followed by those with much greater power, or those with much louder voices.

One of the striking features of the Syrian war are those individuals outside of Syria who have decided to make Syria their business. This goes well beyond personal curiosity and a desire to learn about a different place—it’s instead something which is invested with a thick desire to turn Syria into something which they want and currently lack. Syria is experienced vicariously and voyeuristically. Some are learning what they can because they wish to stop our intervention in Syria, and in the process they are learning a great deal about their own society. Others, however, engage in no such reflection.

For those outsiders who would presume to have a say in Syria’s future, Syria is required to put on a pleasing performance. Syria has to perform like a “democracy” before it can be left alone; some on the left instead argue it is already democratic, and see in Syria the salvation of a true liberalism. What unites both is the assumption that Syria is culturally empty: it can create nothing of its own. At best, Syria and other places like it (target nations) are pictured as mere fertile ground ready to be planted with foreign seeds. The only job locals have is to be receivers of imports. Why would a country with a civilization that long predates either Karl Marx or Adam Smith not have a right to develop its own approaches?

As I wrote about elsewhere earlier this year, there is an internal debate among North American leftists as to whether Syria’s Ba’athists are “true socialists”. As I wrote then,

“does Syria exist to satisfy dogmatic demands in exchange for certification from those US Marxists who have never held power and thus know nothing about actual responsibility?…US Marxists in particular have an overweening sense of their centrality to the world, when they are beyond marginal at home. Perhaps their role as peripheral spectators in domestic politics is what has them casting about overseas for a mission to fulfill their frustrated ambitions”.

One would think Syria had submitted an application for a job, and “history” put us in place to acts as its judges. If Syria is not a “democracy,” or is not “socialist,” what then? Does it get destroyed as a result? I would hate to be on the receiving end of such “solidarity” and I would pray that “internationalists” learn the virtues of minding their own business.

“We’re not particularly keen to be friends with you. We’re not begging you for friendship. We want normal, civilized relations—which you arrogantly refuse, disregarding basic courtesy. You are misguided to think you have friends. Your so-called friends are just those who can’t say no to you. This is your only criteria for friendship”.—Vassily Nebenzia, ambassador of Russia to the UN Security Council, responding to US ambassador Nikki Haley on April 9, 2018.

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Dissecting the US-NAFTA 2.0 Deal

November 4th, 2018 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

Listen to my 30min. interview of November 2 with the Global Research News Hour in Canada dissecting the NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) free trade of October and commenting on the upcoming November 6 midterm elections in the US.

How it’s a softball deal, with few changes, and not even concluded yet, but touted by Trump as a major change to NAFTA 1.0 he promised to ‘tear up’.

How the dairy provisions and intellectual property provisions are really about enabling US chemical companies to sell powdered milk into Canada.

How the token changes in the USMCA dispute mechanism is about preventing governments suing US companies. How the steel and aluminum tariffs are not to be resolved until November. The agreement’s phony quotas on autos. Phony $16/hr. wage hikes in Mexico.

How the USMCA is designed to prevent Canada-Mexico negotiating trade deals with China.

How China is the trade target, and an update on the status of US-China negotiations. The real issues in the US-China trade war.

Plus my take on the polls about a ‘blue wave’ in coming US midterm elections and how, even if Democrats win, impeachment will not occur.

My prediction of a ‘public consciousness bombshell’ coming out of the midterms regardless who wins. My critique of the Democratic Party and the failure of identity politics.

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Jack Rasmus is author of the forthcoming book, ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press, as well as ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and tweets at @drjackrasmus. His website is: http://kyklosproductions.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

In the last few weeks, numerous articles and analyses have been produced relating to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States has not been questioned, and the reason for this has not yet been explained.

Nixon’s decision in 1971 to withdraw the United States from the gold standard greatly influenced the future direction of humanity. The US dollar rose in importance from the mid-1950s to become the world reserve currency as a result of the need for countries to use the dollar in trade. One of the most consumed commodities in the world is oil, and as is well known, the price is set by OPEC in US dollars, with this organization being strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia.

It is therefore towards Riyadh that we must look in order to understand the workings of the petrodollar. After the dollar was withdrawn from the gold standard, Washington made an arrangement with Riyadh to price oil solely in dollars. In return, the Saudis received protection and were granted a free hand in the region. This decision forced the rest of the world to hold a high amount of US dollars in their currency reserves, requiring the purchase of US treasuries. The relationship between the US dollar and oil breathed new life to this currency, placing it at the centre of the global financial and economic system. This privileged role enjoyed by the dollar allowed the United States to finance its economy through the simple process of printing its fiat currency, relying on its credibility and supported by the petrodollar that required other countries to store reserves of US treasuries in their basket of currencies.

This arrangement continued to sustain itself in spite of numerous wars (the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan), financial crises (the Black Monday of 1987, the Dotcom bubble of 2000, and Lehman Brothers’ subprime crisis of 2008), and the bankruptcies of sovereign states (Argentina in 1998). The explanation is to be found in the credibility of the US dollar and the US itself, with its ability to repay buyers of treasury bonds. In other words, as long as the US continues to maintain its dominance of the global financial and economic system, thanks to the dollar, its supremacy as a world superpower is hardly questioned. To maintain this influence on the currency markets and the special-drawing rights (SDR) basket, the pricing of oil in US dollars is crucial. This explains, at least partially, the impossibility of scaling down the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. Nobody should delude themselves into believing that this is the only reason why Saudi-US relations are important. Washington is swimming in the money showered by Saudi lobbies, and it is doubtful that those on the receiving end of such largesse will want to make the party stop.

The agreement made between Washington and Riyadh guaranteed that the latter would receive protection from the former and Washington would look the other way regarding Riyadh’s behavior within its kingdom and in the region – so long as Saudi Arabia sold its black gold in US dollars alone. This agreement was clearly a controversial one and has been kept away from the general public, even in the light of Khashoggi’s death and the liberal mainstream media’s piling on the Kingdom. Yet this is not the only reason why US-Saudi ties are so close. The initial agreements between the Saudis and the Americans concerned the petrodollar; but after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 (Iran’s nationalist prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, had been previously overthrown by the US and UK in 1953), Riyadh and Washington decided to declare war on their common enemy, with the hearty approval of Israel. The cooperation between Riyadh and Washington became even closer in the 1980s, through the common campaign against the USSR in Afghanistan through the use of jihadists recruited, trained and armed by the Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the US secret services. The use of jihadist terrorism as a geopolitical weapon has been a main feature of Riyadh’s statecraft.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US evolved from a mere economic and protection agreement, to a full-fledged collaboration against the shared enemies of Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh, expanding on the existing cooperation since the 1980s of using jihadism to advance strategic objectives. The situation with Iran became of primary importance for US strategy in the region. Riyadh, with the passage of time, assumed a triple role, namely, that of being the guarantor of the petrodollar, a facilitator in the use of Islamic terrorism as a geopolitical weapon, and a regional opponent of Iran.

This relationship has been mutually beneficial. The House of Saud has been free to run its country according to the strict strictures of Wahhabism without Western interference; and Washington enjoys a capacity for unlimited military spending (especially after the 2008 crisis and the beginning of quantitative easing) simply through the printing of debt in the form of government bonds that are immediately acquired by other countries. Washington has effectively been printing waste paper and obtaining consumer goods in return, a state of affairs that has allowed the United States to squander six trillion dollars in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without suffering significant economic consequences.

Ever since Donald Trump took over the White House, the process of de-dollarization that begun during the Obama era has only accelerated. With the unprecedented move in 2012 to remove Iran from the SWIFT international banking system, a dangerous precedent had been set that acted as a warning to the rest of the world. The United States revealed itself as willing to abuse its dominant position by wielding the dollar as a weapon against geopolitical adversaries.

The consequences of that action continue to be felt today. Many within the Western elite have come to recognize this mistake and are regretting it. Russia and China understood that they were next on the chopping block and set about creating alternative payment systems like CIPS that would serve to act as a backup system in case Washington tried to exclude Moscow and Beijing from the SWIFT system.

Trump contributed more than any of his predecessors towards further pushing the world in the direction of de-dollarization. Sanctions and tariffs have weakened confidence amongst US allies and forced the rest of the world to start looking for alternatives. The cases of Iran and Russia are instructive, with commercial exchanges being undertaken in currencies other than the dollar for a number of years now. There are dozens of other examples where the use of the dollar in commercial transactions has been abandoned. More complicated, however, is the financing of debt for private or public companies that often takes place in dollars. This exposes industries to a difficult situation in the event that their national currencies devalue against the dollar, making it more expensive to find the US dollars needed to repay creditors, leaving what are major national companies with the prospect of facing bankruptcy. As Russia learned in 2014 with the attack on its Ruble, exposure of potentially strategic sectors of the country to the economic influence of a foreign adversary should be avoided.

The push to renounce the use of the dollar in financial transactions also stems from the fear that the next financial crisis may affect global debt as expressed in dollars; not only destroying the US economy, but dragging down with it countries that are large holders of US treasuries. This is not speculation or conspiracy theory but simple deduction from observing the economic situation over the last 10 years. The global economy was saved in 2008 as a result of the confidence held by citizens following the intervention of central banks. The corrosive mechanism laid out by the Fed and its partners became evident months later. Central banks started printing unlimited amounts of money at 0% interest rates and furnishing it to banks and financial institutions to cover the debts left by the bursting of speculative bubbles like the one involving subprime mortgages.

The average citizen, seeing Bernanke and Draghi on TV talking about “unprecedented actions to save the system”, felt reassured, and therefore felt their money remained safe, in banks or in US dollars. The next financial crisis – potentially the worst ever – is likely to be caused by either the raising of interest rates by the Fed and other central banks, or from the popping of one of the numerous debt bubbles around. The central point is that the citizens’ belief in the system will be put to the test because, as Draghi said, “[this weapon of QE] can be used only once”. There is no protection for banks and speculative entities that could be in debt to the tune of many billions of dollars with no chance of survival.

With a view of to the possible collapse of the dollar-based financial system, several countries are selling their US government bonds, reducing their exposure and accumulating gold. This involves not just China and Russia, but even the European Union.

In such a situation, a crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia is unthinkable for Washington, especially when the region now seems to be guided by an axis that starts from Tehran and ends in Beirut, including Baghdad and Damascus. Riyadh is necessary for the Israeli strategy in the region, and Washington follows in tow for reasons related to the US dollar. Factoring the importance of Riyadh in supporting the petrodollar and in countering Iran in the region, it is not surprising why the Israeli lobby in Washington is doing its utmost to calm US senators down intent on punishing Riyadh for the Khashoggi affair.

If Saudi Arabia were really convinced of the innocence of MBS in the Khashoggi affair, it could use this situation to its advantage by reducing the role of Washington in its foreign policy. Turning to the east and increasing partnerships with China and Russia would have beneficial effects on the whole region, as well as reducing the importance of the United States in the world. Saudi Arabia is governed by a large family riven with divisions and feuds spanning decades. MBS has no interest in his kingdom and is occupied with his survival alone. He is aware that Netanyahu and Trump are his best bet for continuing to reign. Trump is equally aware of the importance of MBS in his communication strategy in the US, with a view to the midterm and the 2020 elections. MBS is for Trump the golden goose that finances the MAGA project, thanks apparently to Trump’s mesmerizing negotiation skills with the Saudis. Of course this is far from the truth, but what matters is the spin that Trump gives to this alliance.

Israel is the primary ally of MBS, given that the crown prince is the first Saudi monarch openly willing to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish State and bring relations between the two countries out into the open. The upper level of the US government, the so-called deep state, tried for a few weeks to use MBS against Trump. But this strategy came to an end after the Israelis, together with some elements of the US deep state, saw the risk of downsizing the global relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US. MBS will hardly be pushed aside, and within the Kingdom his position seems firmer than many expected, as seen at the Davos in the Desert conference. Breaking up with MBS would have had unimaginable repercussions for the US’s hegemonic position, and this is something Washington can ill afford at the moment.

The use of jihadism and petrodollars as a political and financial weapon against Washington’s adversaries is reason enough to quickly forget Jamal Khashoggi and go back to ignoring the various abuses committed by Saudi Arabia. In this phase of the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world, the US cannot afford to renounce some of the most potent weapons in its arsenal to wield against its geopolitical foes.

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

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Today, the world political situation resembles the conditions that lead to World War II. The Right-wing forces mixed with the fascist elements are gaining in the “democratic” and corrupted elections of Capitalist countries. Brazil is moving toward Fascism, of course with the support of the IMF and Washington.

In the U.S. the White House is occupied by an offensive fascistic minded President. He is known as a fraudulent businessman who like a runaway train terrifies the American people in one way or another.

China and Russia, which once experienced the power of working people for a short time now are in competition with the Capitalist countries for the world market.

Europe is strangled in the web of their own internal problems. The corrupted governments around the world with their brutal police forces in combat gears literally are assaulting their own people furiously and demonstrably on the streets. In almost every country on the map, masses of working people in huge numbers routinely are marching and demonstrating against inequality and injustice. Despite the lack of conscious leadership, people are spontaneously resisting the anti-democratic forces and governments as best they can.

From Yemen to Germany, there are impressive demonstrations for Peace and Justice. The size and commitment of the participants in these phenomenal demonstrations simply show the mood and energy of the powerless working people on the international scale. 

Unprecedented inequality and poverty are the 21st century hallmarks. Having a decent meal or access to clean water has become major problems for homeless and landless families in millions.

The number of innocent people who are victims of natural disasters or directly have been plundered by the greed of a few super wealthy families around the world are rising. The insecure and poor living conditions due to war and anarchy and also unnatural environmental conditions have pushed thousands upon thousands of people to leave their beloved homes and take the excruciating journey to foreign lands in hope of a better future for their children.

Today, the U.S. is the only military power which instigates a serious military conflict. The two party system is helping the 1% in the U.S. control public anger and diverts people’s attention from main social and economical issues. The family feud among the wealthy people in the U.S. has turned those who identify themselves as Democrat or Republican merely to a supernumerary crowd and pawn in the 1% political game.

Hypocritical politicians at the Capitol, while acting foolishly against their “opponents”, are united and unanimous in supporting anti working families legislation. Today the U.S. Congress, as a deceptive body, has zero credibility among the Americans. Yet both major parties have been successful to portray their victory in “elections” to control the Senate or the House as the optimum goal for the American people! Consequently, elections have become the most effective tool of distraction from the reality.The fact is that in the last decades, both parties have already had the majority of both Senate and the House, but while in power didn’t do anything to improve the life of the American people.

Both parties continued the senseless U.S. wars and with their legislative power have helped poverty to grow slowly. These laws have been destroying the edges of American cities like a cancer which the hopeless and homeless people are struggling to survive. This unfortunate reality is happening in the richest country in the world. Other “advanced” countries, more or less have a similar situation.

The 1% is well aware of the people’s discontent with the system, therefore they vigorously pursue policies that are able to censor sources and social media which dare to tell the truth and are informative. In this regard, first they introduced the concept of “Fake News” to dismiss any information that is against the interest of the wealthy and elites. The nightmare of censorship is limiting the right of freedom of speech, progressive and revolutionary thought.

The very ideas which allow working people to organize themselves against the power of corporates and their corrupt politicians. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are afraid of the birth of a THIRD party, a labor party that is truly independent of the ruling class and represent the real needs of the working people such as a robust healthcare system, affordable housing, job security with decent living wages and finally free and progressive education for all.

Naturally the corrupted media in the U.S. had to carry the 1% assault on the freedom of speech through their newspapers, radio stations and TV channels. The aim of the two camps in the media (like Fox News versus CNN and vice versa) is to propagate the same right-wing views of the ruling class while retaining a distinct divided line between the two main parties. Traditionally, the Ladies and Gentlemen of the media act like servants of the 1% – the real owners of the media. Some serve Republicans and some serve Democrats.

In addition to the fictitious “Fake News”, they also have added a new dangerous ingredient into their malicious political plans – that is accusation of violence against each other! While both sides are condemning any types of “violent” act, in fact directly or indirectly, from the President to the elected Representatives, are encouraging their supporters to engage themselves in physical confrontations against their opponents.

Unfortunately, in this chaotic situation, the first causality has been the fate of journalists who have dared to challenge the authorities simply by their written words. Today more than ever, independent journalists around the world – from occupied Palestine to Myanmar – are either locked up or simply have been assassinated. Mr. Assange, an outstanding journalist of our time and Mr. Hussein (Aljazeera’s reporter) who has been jailed in Cairo without charge since 2016 are fighting for the fundamental human rights to communicate from their cells.

Unfortunately, the data on the crime against innocent independent journalists is not available to the public, but against all odds and the savagery of the secret police, these dedicated people of the true media around the world are still shedding lights on corruption and injustice.

In the past 2 years, the “democratic values” in the U.S. have been defined by those who are capable of lying more than others. Despite the daily shenanigans in Washington, the cases of Mr. Kavanaugh and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud have opened the eyes of people around the world that in the court of the “cradle” of democracy the facts are no longer admissible! The U.S. President single handedly exposed the unfairness nature of Justice System in America. Today the U.S. government is defining her policies with the alternative facts!

The reality is that the current system is shattered and any thought of reform is impossible. But is there any alternative to this grim political situation? To answer this question, it is imperative to acknowledge that not all problems are created equal. The world political situation alarms us of the immediate danger of a nuclear war. Most people minimize the danger of a nuclear war in their minds.

However, wars do not start by accident or decision of a “crazy” leader over border disputes. The root of any war in our time grows out of economic uncertainty. The fact is that the victor of World War II no longer has a grip on the World Market. The “surplus value” or as it’s known “Capital Gain” is shifting from the old Capitalist countries to the younger ones! In the U.S. the economy has been reduced to property ownership and managing the gigantic Wall Street casino.

Production and Technical innovation concentration in the U.S. are limited to industries which create Weapons of Mass Destruction. Mr. Trump announcement to withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is the reflection of this reality.

Furthermore, it is not a secret that sanctions and political pressure on other countries have their own limitations. Sooner or later as President Trump recently has stated until other nations “come to their senses” a military confrontation will be the next option – a war by all means, even a nuclear war. What is the Solution?

Part 2 of this conversation will cover a universal Preemptive Peace Program and the role of true peace activists.

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

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It is a fact that is hardly credible, but a fact nevertheless, that the vast majority of people, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, have now little or no idea of the political machinations that brought about the establishment of an Israeli state in Palestine – a region that was predominately Muslim Arab for well over a thousand years. A period over which there had only ever been a minority Jewish presence. That fact is verified as follows – the documented proof being in the public domain, available to anyone at the touch of a key.

The present United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 50 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. It replaced the ineffective pre-war League of Nations, after WW2.

On 25 April 1945, the United Nations Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco. Fifty nations were represented who signed and ratified the Charter of the United Nations on 24 October 1945, and the UN was officially formed.  [Those 50 signatories, however, have to be seen in the context of the 193 UN Member states that in 2018 now represent the entire global population i.e. fifty is just over 25% of the present total].

On 29 November 1947, the resolution to recommend to all current Members of the then fledgling United Nations the adoption and implementation, with regard to the future government of Palestine, of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union, was put to a vote in the UN General Assembly.  The result was 33 to 13 in favour of the resolution, with 10 abstentions. That is 33 out of a current total of 193 UN member States i.e. 17%.   (Britain, of course, abstained).

Barely six months later, on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, and U.S. President Harry S. Truman unexpectedly recognized the new nation on the same day. However, that does not tell the full story. President Truman was not at all in favour of a Jewish state in Palestine and was heavily leaned upon by B’nai Brith International, a powerful Jewish service organisation in America.

In the event, Truman was persuaded to change his opinion. And that decision was of vital importance because a handful of U.N. Member States would inevitably follow America’s lead as a result of intense Zionist lobbying. Consequently, it was in fact only a tiny minority of the global population that actually voted to impose a Jewish state in the midst of the Muslim Middle East.

If the same resolution were to be put to the vote today before a UN that now genuinely represents the entire global population, the result would be vastly different from that in 1947/8. And Gaza would now be a thriving sea-port on the eastern Mediterranean with an international airport, a strong fishing industry and operating as a popular tourist destination as the gateway to the Middle East and its hinterland.

Instead, we have nearly two million civilians under an inhuman siege from an occupying army that is armed and funded by both the US and the UK; that has blockaded essential supplies including electricity for over eleven years in a bid to starve an entire civilian population into submission and effect a regime change.

It’s a story of raw colonial power, political greed and personal ambition through the subjugation of an entire people by an internationally armed and funded, military occupation and illegal settlement, in open violation of the international Geneva Conventions on Human Rights.

In 2018, supported by a US Republican Congress (and a compliant UK Conservative Government), it continues as the spark that will eventually cause a devastating war – unless there is a paradigm shift in policy.  That seems most unlikely under the current Trump White House that is already intent on waging an American war against Iran by deliberately bankrupting the Iranian oil industry against the unanimous will of Europe, China, India and most of the international community.  It’s a very dangerous game by a dangerous man.

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

Are Oil Prices Rising or Falling?

November 4th, 2018 by Marwan Salamah

Not only are the current views contradictory but each is supported by arguments and evidence, which increases the confusion and frustration of anxious listeners worried about their economic future.

Who Sets Oil Prices?

Oil prices are set at the various commodity exchanges via offers and bids for spot or future contracts, but speculators and traders play a major role in process.

Generally, speculators and traders take short term positions with the aim of bailing out with a profit. They are not in the game for the long term and usually are not end users of the product traded. Their method of operation is to monitor the market, analyze its signals and trends, take positions, cash in with a small profit or loss and then come back again tomorrow.

Because of their short-term style of operation, speculators’ decisions are affected by the daily news presented by the media, which makes them more susceptible to propaganda injected by interested parties with political or economic agendas. Fundamentals do play a role in their decision-making process but is relegated to the back stage in importance.

The Main Current Opinions

Rising Oil Prices: The proponents of this view state that:

  • Iran Sanctions spooked and scared the market and put it into a panic mode. Prices rose sharply between June and October 2018 on the assumption that world oil supply will not be able to compensate the approx. one or more million barrels per day drop in Iranian exports.
  • The world is scrambling to dance to the US tune of Iranian sanctions and is ceasing the import of Iranian oil.
  • The continued shrinking of Venezuela’s oil production and export will add to the expected Iranian shortfall.
  • The Int’l Energy Agency (IEA) is worried that production outages with insufficient inventories or spare capacity could become a serious problem in 2019. It sees the solution in OPEC increasing its production capacity.
  • While OPEC has been nodding in agreement with the US administration’s demands to jack up production, it may become less accommodating after the midterm US elections – depending on the outcome?
  • OPEC may be targeting $80 per barrel and may gauge its production accordingly.
  • OPEC is rumored to be planning production cuts in 2019, especially if the anticipated supply glut does occur.

Falling Oil Prices: These views can be summarized as follows:

  • After the price peak on Oct 3rd, the market seems to have realized that the Iranian production loss can be accommodated and has hence discounted this eventuality. This is reflected by the initial rise and then fall of the month spreads on both WTI and Brent oil futures.
  • World oil demand is now not expected to grow as was earlier expected.
  • The strong US Dollar has raised the cost of oil to emerging market countries as well as triggered capital flight. This has slowed their economic growth and weakened their demand for oil.
  • OPEC + Russia agreed in June 2018 to increase production by approx. one million barrels per day. This has had a downward effect on prices, even though it has not yet been fully implemented.
  • World oil production is reported to have increased by 2.9 million barrels per day in 2018 (most of it was non-OPEC and Non-US production).
  • The increase of US oil inventories the past 5 consecutive weeks has had a dampening effect on prices, especially if this continues in the USA as well as the OECD countries. Some reports indicate that US inventories have increased approx. 30 million barrels in the past month or so. However, this is a bookkeeping item and one can never be sure of its accuracy or motive for announcing it now.
  • The possibility of granting exemptions from the Iranian sanctions to India, China and other countries would reduce the anticipated drop in oil supplied to the market.
  • The fast rise in oil prices between June and October 2018 may have induced a downward correction as fears of a supply glut returned.
  • The Saudi oil minister’s announcement that Saudi has the spare capacity to replace any lost Iranian output has alleviated market fears. However, his warning that this spare capacity is insufficient to cover any other production drops or outages in other producing countries has not been taken too seriously by the media.
  • Libya has announced that it will increase production up to 1.6 million barrels per day by the end of 2019.
  • The monthly Brent oil futures yield curves are indicating an overpriced situation.
  • According to the Saudi oil minister, the time lag between positive supply growth and drop in prices can extend to several quarters and, in view of the continuous growth in oil supply throughout 2018, prices are expected to react downwards in 2019.
  • The normal divergence between stock markets and oil prices is non-existent this time round and both markets are moving in tandem, which is worrying. As the equity markets drop so do oil prices.
  • Hedge Funds and traders are switching from long to short oil positions with many selling their oil positions at the highs to meet equity margin calls.

Technical Analysis

As any forecasting tool, technical analysis is based on historical data and assumes that a trend will continue unless one or more indicators signal a change. One such analysis indicates the following:

Long-Term: The WTI monthly charts continue to indicate an uptrend, but momentum is shifting down, which may indicate the selling correction continuing for a few months. But if the supports at $63.57, $61.62 and $ 56.40 are violated then the trend could switch to down and, in that case, prices could drop to $ 54.90 (or worse, theoretically to $41.34). However, if the uptrend continues, then the possible targets could be $82.02 or $92.35 .

Medium-Term: The WTI weekly charts indicate a continued uptrend. But, if the supports at $63.57 and $61.62 are broken, then the trend would switch to down with possible targets of $59.10 or $54.90.

Short-Term: The WTI daily chart shows the market has turned to a downtrend after violating in late October the supports at $67.66 and $66.58. To return to uptrend, the market has to rise and break its first resistance at $70.21 .

Conclusion

The oil market was chugging along quite nicely in 2018 and the market forces were slowly bringing supply and demand together amicably, to the reasonable satisfaction of both the producers and consumers. Then, new factors entered the arena, and everything went haywire.

These new factors were politically instigated and upset the market movement towards equilibrium. They began some time ago by disrupting oil flow from Venezuela and progressed to the present blocking of Iran oil supplies. Add to that the US/China trade war and the escalating political and military tensions in the South China Sea, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere, and you end up with a highly unstable world. Instability causes confusion and panic, which lead to a gross misdirection of resources, waste and unnecessary rise in costs within the economies. They can also lead to wars, which lead to the same, but magnified, negative results.

Who benefits from such instability? No one sanely seeks instability, unless they wish to reset the chess board in their favor or to their advantage.

As for the long-term, it is difficult to see the world ignoring the environmental damage of hydrocarbons. Sooner or later oil demand is bound to peak, and oil prices are bound to fall. Until that occurs, whether in 10 or 30 years, the world will have to live with the ever-recurring turbulences and crises of oil prices.

Advice to Arab Oil Producers: You must realize that, in the final analysis, the ability to decide oil prices is beyond you, and so are the decisions regarding oil production. You are but a cog in a huge complex machine controlled by the powerful. The only wise decision is to use oil price rallies to increase your investments in real economic and social development and put an end to all kinds of waste because a day will eventually arrive when oil revenues and surpluses will fade away forever.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: marsalpost.com.

Marwan Salamah is a Kuwaiti economic consultant and publishes articles on his blog: marsalpost.com 

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First published on June 13, 2017

Hillary’s emails truly are the gifts that keep on giving. While France led the proponents of the UN Security Council Resolution that would create a no-fly zone in Libya, it claimed that its primary concern was the protection of Libyan civilians (considering the current state of affairs alone, one must rethink the authenticity of this concern). As many “conspiracy theorists” will claim, one of the real reasons to go to Libya was Gaddafi’s planned gold dinar.

One of the 3,000 Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department on New Year’s Eve (where real news is sent to die quietly) has revealed evidence that NATO’s plot to overthrow Gaddafi was fueled by first their desire to quash the gold-backed African currency, and second the Libyan oil reserves.

The email in question was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by her unofficial adviser Sydney Blumenthal titled “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold”.

From Foreign Policy Journal:

The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency.

And here is the section of the email proving that NATO had ulterior motives for destroying Libya (UPDATE: The link has since been killed, but here is the web cache)[GR also removed]:

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues: 

     a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

     b. Increase French influence in North Africa, 

     c. Improve his internal political situation in France, 

     d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the     world, 

     e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa)

Second update: see https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/6528  (screenshot below)

 

Ergo as soon as French intel discovered Gaddafi’s dinar plans, they decided to spearhead the campaign against him- having accumulated enough good reasons to take over.

Sadly, Gaddafi had earlier warned Europe (in a “prophetic” phone conversations with Blair) that his fall would prompt the rise of Islamic extremism in the West. A warning that would go unheeded; what’s a few lives in France and Libya, if the larger goal lines the pockets of politicians and the elite so much better after all?

Featured image: Sheep Media

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Rigged US Elections and the new NAFTA

November 4th, 2018 by Michael Welch

“I think it’s just easier to kind of approach the problem by blaming it on an outside foreign nation, as opposed to admit that we’ve had a non-democratic, non-transparent system since at least 2000.”
– Bob Fitrakis, from this week’s interview.

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The upcoming November Mid-Term elections are being billed as the most important in decades.

Polls are suggesting the Democrat Party has a 7-8 percentage point lead over the Republicans going into Tuesday’s vote. The polling data aggregator Real Clear Politics (RCP) is predicting, based on multiple polls collected in recent days, that the Democrats will take the House of Representatives with 203 seats compared to 196 for the Republicans.

Among the issues driving people on both sides of the partisan divide to the polls: The Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court, the Central American Migrant Caravan approaching the US-Mexico border on foot, and the prospect of impeaching the polarizing president Donald J. Trump.

Further impacting the campaign has been a rash of violent incidents including the mailing of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh which some have argued has been influenced by the xenophobic messaging of the U.S. President.

Mindful of the fact that the pollsters appear to have gotten it wrong about the 2016 election, could |Americans be in for another big shock on November 6th if that great “Blue Wave” fails to make it to shore?

This week’s Global Research News Hour radio show reviews some of the factors that might influence the election outcome with two guests.

Bob Fitrakis joins us in the first half hour to talk about the prospects of election rigging in the first half hour. He recalls from a previous conversation the capacity of high ranking partisan officials to ‘strip’ and ‘flip’ the vote in key jursisdictions. He also delves into precisely why the irregularities that he and other election integrity experts have monitored over the last two decades have largely gone unheeded and what the stakes are for policits in America post-election.

This discussion is followed by a discussion on the recently renegotiated NAFTA. Now called the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), the legislation recalls a promise made by President Trump during the 2016 election camapaign to ‘scrap’ NAFTA. Is the new agreement the remedy to the malaise suffered by Americans and blamed on ‘bad trade deals?’ Dr. Jack  Rasmus gives listeners the low-down on the realities behind the rhetoric, and how Trump’s trade agenda is likely to play out in the November elections.

Bob Fitrakis, is a lawyer and political science professor at Columbus State Community College, editor of the Columbus Free Press. He has authored or co-authored several books including: Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? Essential Documents  and  What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft And Fraud in the 2004 Election

Dr. Jack Rasmus, Ph.D Political Economy, teaches economics and politics at St. Mary’s College in California. He hosts the program ‘Alternative Visions’ every Friday at 2pm on the Progressive Radio Network, and blogs at jackrasmus.com. His books include ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope? Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, as well as the upcoming ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: U.S. Policy from Reagan to Trump.’

Global Research News Hour Episode 235

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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 . Excerpts of the show have begun airing on Rabble Radio and appear as podcasts at rabble.ca.

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

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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“Ich halte es für sehr wichtig, dass wir einen strategischen Partner wie die Russische Föderation treffen, und auch für notwendig, um Lösungen für die wichtigsten regionalen Krisen zu finden” – so die Erklärung von Premierminister Giuseppe Conte auf der gemeinsamen Pressekonferenz nach seinem Treffen mit Vladimir Putin am 24. Oktober in Moskau. Eine grundlegende Frage, die gelöst werden müsse, betonte er, sei “die Krise in der Ukraine, die eine Diskussion über die Grundlagen der Beziehungen zwischen der Europäischen Union und Russland ausgelöst habe”. Aber “trotz dem Fortbestehen der Gründe, die zu den europäischen Sanktionen führten, einem Werkzeug, das so schnell wie möglich aufgegeben werden muss”, bleiben die bilateralen Beziehungen zwischen Italien und Russland „ausgezeichnet”.

Diese Erklärungen erinnern an die von Premierminister Matteo Renzi während eines Runden Tisches mit Präsident Putin in Sankt Petersburg im Jahr 2016: “Der Begriff Kalter Krieg fehlt nun in der Geschichte und auch in der Realität. Die EU und Russland sollten ausgezeichnete Nachbarn sein”. Diese Erklärungen wurden von Diplomaten ausgeliehen und von Moskau verstärkt, um die Spannungen abzubauen: “Conte in Moskau, das Bündnis mit Russland ist stärker denn je”, lautete die Schlagzeile der russischen Presseagentur Sputnik vom 25. Oktober, die von einem “360-Grad-Besuch” sprach. In Wirklichkeit war es ein 180-Grad-Besuch, denn Conte (wie Renzi 2016) präsentierte sich als Leiter eines Mitgliedslandes der Europäischen Union und beschränkte seinen Besuch auf Wirtschaftsabkommen mit Russland. Der Premierminister vermied es, die Tatsache zu erwähnen, dass Italien Mitglied der NATO unter dem Kommando der Vereinigten Staaten ist, einem Land, das von der Regierung Conte als “privilegierter Verbündeter” betrachtet wird, mit dem er “eine strategische Zusammenarbeit, fast eine Zwillingspartnerschaft”, aufgebaut hat.

So saß am Tisch mit Italien und Russland der Steinerne Gast, der “privilegierte Verbündete”, dicht gefolgt von Italien. So wurde nichts darüber gesagt, dass am 25. Oktober – am Tag nachdem  Premierminister Conte in Moskau den Stand der bilateralen Beziehungen zwischen Italien und Russland als “ausgezeichnet” bezeichnet hatte – die italienischen Streitkräfte das Kriegsspiel Trident Juncture 2018 mit anderen NATO-Kräften unter dem Kommando der USA begannen , und gegen Russland gerichtet waren. Dies ist eine Übung, bei der die Stützpunkte der USA und der NATO in Italien eine wichtige Rolle spielen. Es wurde auch nicht erwähnt, dass am 25. Oktober – einen Tag nachdem Premierminister Conte in Moskau Russland als “strategischen Partner” ausgewiesen hatte – seine Regierung in Brüssel am Nordatlantikrat teilnahm, der auf der Grundlage von “Informationen” der USA Russland einstimmig beschuldigte, den INF-Vertrag mit “für unsere Sicherheit destabilisierendem Verhalten” zu verletzen.

Die Regierung Conte unterstützte daher de facto den Plan der USA, den INF-Vertrag aufzugeben und erneut auf Russland gerichtete atomare Mittelstreckenraketen in Europa (einschließlich Italien) zu stationieren. Diese Raketen werden zu den neuen Atombomben B61-12 hinzugefügt, die die Vereinigten Staaten ab März 2020 in Italien, Deutschland, Belgien, den Niederlanden und wahrscheinlich auch in anderen europäischen Ländern stationieren werden, immer mit einem antirussischen Angriffsziel.

Auf der Pressekonferenz, einem Journalisten antwortend, war Putin sehr deutlich – die europäischen Länder, die sich bereit erklären, US-Mittelstreckenraketen auf ihrem Territorium zu stationieren, würden ihre eigene Sicherheit gefährden, denn Russland wäre bereit zum Gegenschlag. Conte versicherte, dass “Italien mit der Angst vor diesem Konflikt lebt und alles tun wird, damit ein Fenster für den Dialog offen bleibt”.

Man nimmt an, dass er dies tut – während er sich darauf vorbereitet, die neuen nuklearen Bunkerbomben B61-12 unter US-Befehl aufzunehmen und zu benutzen, um russische Untergrundanlagen und Kommandozentren zu zerstören.

Manlio Dinucci

Übersetzung: K.R.

Il manifesto, 30. OKTOBER 2018

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VIDEO – O Convidado Fantasma no Encontro Itália-Rússia

November 3rd, 2018 by Manlio Dinucci

“Considero muito importante e também necessário, conferenciar com um parceiro estratégico como a Federação Russa, necessária para encontrar soluções para as principais crises regionais”: disse o Primeiro Ministro Conte na conferência de imprensa conjunta, no final da reunião com o Presidente Putin em 24 de Outubro, em Moscovo. A questão fundamental a ser resolvida – sublinhou – é “a crise na Ucrânia, que pôs em causa as bases da relação entre a União Europeia e a Rússia”. Mas, “apesar da permanência das razões que conduziram às sanções europeias, situação que vai ser superada o mais rápido possível”, o estado das relações bilaterais entre a Itália e a Rússia é “excelente”.

Declarações que recordam as do Primeiro Ministro Renzi, num cenário de debate com o Presidente Putin, em São Petersburgo, em 2016: “O termo Guerra Fria está fora do contexto da História e da realidade. A União Europeia e a Rússia devem ser excelentes vizinhos”. Declarações que são retomadas e ampliadas, diplomaticamente, por Moscovo, na tentativa de aliviar as tensões: “Conte em Moscovo, está cada vez mais forte, a aliança com a Rússia”, título da agência russa ‘Sputnik’, em 25 de Outubro, falando sobre “uma visita de 360 graus”. Na realidade, foi uma visita de 180 graus, pois Conte (como Renzi, em 2016) apresentou-se como Chefe do Governo de um país da União Europeia, finalizando a visita com acordos económicos com a Rússia.

O Primeiro Ministro omitiu o facto de que a Itália faz parte da NATO, sob comando dos Estados Unidos, país que o Governo Conte considera “aliado privilegiado”, com o qual estabeleceu “uma cooperação estratégica, quase uma geminação”. Portanto, no encontro Itália-Rússia, sentou-se como ‘convidado fantasma’, o “aliado privilegiado” sob cuja orientação se coloca a Itália.

Assim, passou em silêncio o facto de que, em 25 de Outubro – um dia depois do Primeiro Ministro, em Moscovo, ter definido como “excelente” o estado das reações bilaterais Itália-Rússia – as forças armadas iniciarem, sob comando USA, juntamente com as dos outros países da NATO, o exercício de guerra Trident Juncture 2018, dirigido contra a Rússia. Exercício em que os comandos e as bases USA/NATO, em Itália, desenvolvem um papel de primordial importância.

Também passou em silêncio o facto de que, em 25 de Outubro – um dia depois do Primeiro Ministro Conte, em Moscovo, ter definido a Rússia como “parceiro estratégico” – em Bruxelas, o seu governo participava no Conselho do Atlântico Norte que, em unanimidade e baseado em “informações” fornecidas pelos Estados Unidos, acusava a Rússia de violar o Tratado INF com “um comportamento desestabilizador para a nossa segurança”. Deste modo, o Governo Conte apoiou de facto o plano dos EUA de sair do Tratado INF e instalar novamente na Europa (inclusivé em Itália) mísseis nucleares de alcance médio apontados para a Rússia. Esses mísseis juntar-se-iam às novas bombas nucleares B61-12 que os Estados Unidos começarão a instalar a partir de Março de 2020, em Itália, Alemanha, Bélgica, Holanda e, provavelmente, noutros países europeus, em função contra a Rússia.

Na conferência de imprensa, em resposta a um jornalista, Putin esclareceu que os países europeus que aceitassem instalar mísseis nucleares de alcance médio nos seus territórios, colocariam em risco a sua própria segurança, porque a Rússia estaria pronta para responder.

Conte assegurou que “a Itália está a enfrentar com inquietação, esta discórdia e fará tudo para que se mantenha aberta uma janela de diálogo”. Facto que efectivamente está a consumar, ao preparar-se para albergar e usar, sob comando USA, as novas bombas nucleares B61-12 com capacidade penetrante, para destruir os bunkers dos centros de comando russos.

Manlio Dinucci

Il manifesto,30 de Outubro de 2018

 

Traduzido por Luisa Vasconcelos

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VIDEO – Il convitato di pietra al tavolo Italia-Russia

November 3rd, 2018 by Manlio Dinucci

«Ritengo molto importante confrontarci con un partner strategico come la Federazione Russa, necessaria per individuare soluzioni alle principali crisi regionali»: lo ha dichiarato il premier Conte alla conferenza stampa congiunta al termine dell’incontro col presidente Putin, il 24 ottobre a Mosca.Questione fondamentale da risolvere – ha sottolineato – è «la crisi in Ucraina, che ha messo in discussione i fondamenti del rapporto tra Unione europea e Russia». Ma, «nonostante il permanere delle ragioni che hanno condotto alle sanzioni europee, strumento che va superato quanto prima», lo stato dei rapporti bilaterali Italia-Russia è «eccellente».

Dichiarazioni che ricordano quelle del premier Renzi, a una tavola rotonda col presidente Putin a San Pietroburgo nel 2016: «La parola guerra fredda è fuori dalla storia e dalla realtà. UE e Russia devono essere ottimi vicini di casa». Dichiarazioni che diplomaticamente vengono riprese e amplificate da Mosca, nel tentativo di allentare le tensioni: «Conte a Mosca, sempre più forte l’alleanza con la Russia», titola il 25 ottobre l’agenzia russa ‘Sputnik’, parlando di «visita a 360 gradi». In realtà è stata una visita a 180 gradi, poiché Conte (come Renzi nel 2016) si è presentato quale capo di governo di un paese dell’Unione europea, finalizzando la visita ad accordi economici con la Russia.

Il premier ha rimosso il fatto che l’Italia fa parte della NATO sotto comando degli Stati Uniti, paese che il governo Conte considera «alleato privilegiato», col quale ha stabilito «una cooperazione strategica, quasi un gemellaggio». Al tavolo Italia-Russia quindi sedeva, quale convitato di pietra, l’«alleato privilegiato» sulla cui scia si colloca l’Italia. È quindi passato sotto silenzio il fatto che il 25 ottobre – il giorno dopo che a Mosca il premier Conte aveva definito «eccellente» lo stato dei rapporti bilaterali Italia-Russia – le forze armate italiane iniziavano sotto comando USA, insieme a quelle degli altri paesi NATO, l’esercitazione di guerra Trident Juncture 2018 diretta contro la Russia. Esercitazione in cui i comandi e le basi USA/NATO in Italia svolgono un ruolo di primaria importanza.

È passato sotto silenzio anche il fatto che il 25 ottobre – il giorno dopo che a Mosca il premier Conte aveva definito la Russia «partner strategico» – a Bruxelles il suo governo partecipava al Consiglio Nord Atlantico che all’unanimità accusava la Russia, in base a «informazioni» fornite dagli Stati Uniti, di violare il Trattato INF con «un comportamento destabilizzante per la nostra sicurezza». Il governo Conte sosteneva così nei fatti il piano statunitense di uscire dal Trattato INF e schierare di nuovo in Europa (Italia compresa) missili nucleari a media gittata puntati sulla Russia. Essi si aggiungerebbero alle nuove bombe nucleari B61-12 che gli Stati uniti cominceranno a schierare dal marzo 2020 in Italia, Germania, Belgio, Olanda e probabilmente in altri paesi europei, in funzione anti-Russia.

Alla conferenza stampa, rispondendo a un giornalista, Putin ha chiarito che i paesi europei che accettassero di schierare missili nucleari USA a medio raggio sul proprio territorio metterebbero a rischio la propria sicurezza, perché la Russia sarebbe pronta al colpo di risposta. Conte ha assicurato che «l’Italia vive con inquietudine questa vertenza e farà di tutto perché su di essa si mantenga aperta una finestra di dialogo». Cosa che sta facendo preparandosi a ospitare e a usare sotto comando statunitense le nuove bombe nucleari B61-12 con capacità penetrante per distruggere i bunker dei centri di comando russi.

Manlio Dinucci

Il manifesto, 30 ottobre 2018

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Behind the endless throngs of desperate Central American children arriving on the U.S. border and a steady wave of illegal immigrants from Mexico and beyond is a plan for global economic warfare — those building up the world of globalization are tearing down the sovereignty and financial strength of the United States and Europe to make way for the coming corporate new world order.

A generation of sending American jobs offshore under NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, dumping cheap corn on Mexico thereby destroying millions of farming jobs and unleashing disruptive retailers like Wal-mart upon the fragile economies of Latin America have created turmoil, uncertainty and rivers of human migration… and along with it bitter tension and discord over the dynamics of immigration, illegal immigration and the struggle for a lasting standard of living under the New World Order.

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Building a Strong Left: Black Alliance for Peace

November 3rd, 2018 by Black Alliance for Peace

Last night’s #AntiwarAutumn panel discussion was a success!

Speakers from BAYAN, the Black Alliance for Peace, the Black is Back Coalition, Friends of the Congo, People’s Organization for Progress (POP) and the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) came together for one night at the Solidarity Center NYC to discuss ways to raise the consciousness of the U.S. population regarding the U.S. wars and U.S.-funded proxy wars raging around the world. Participants agreed a strong left must be built to combat the rise of fascism, which is a reaction to imperialism’s existential crisis. Attendees signed our petition to shut down AFRICOM and took home copies of our 4-page AFRICOM booklet. Find more photos here of our standing-room only event. Check out our live tweets from last night. Watch the livestream, too.

Last Saturday, BAP Coordinating Committee member Jaribu Hill and BAP National Organizer Ajamu Baraka participated as jurors at the International Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico. Many people traveled from around the country and from Puerto Rico to attend this historic event in New York City’s Holyrood Church, which has hosted revolutionary events in the past. Watch the final verdict!

Palestinian activist and author Susan Abulhawa has been detained by the settler-colonial state of Israel after trying to enter Palestine, her homeland, for a literature festival. Demonstrate solidarity with our Palestinian sister by signing this petition demanding her release! Below, you see her posing with Ajamu Baraka at the tribunal where they both served as jurors on Saturday.

Ajamu Baraka appeared on RT’s “In Question” to discuss our U.S. Out of Africa! campaign, as well as the rationale behind the tribunal. BAP member Netfa Freeman appeared in a Facebook livestream that you can also find on YouTube.

The Black is Black Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIB) Chairman Omali Yeshitela also spoke to Black Agenda Report Radio about the devastating impact of the U.S. military occupation of Africa through AFRICOM, which denies self-determination to the entire continent. “Self-determination is the highest expression of democracy,” he said. Self-determination “is what we are fighting for, and that’s what people throughout the Americas and the world are fighting for.”

Last week, several BAP members participated in the Women’s March on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., including YahNé Ndgo and Charo Mina-Rojas, who spoke to the crowd of 1,500 people marching for an end to all wars. Both women provided valuable perspectives as African diasporic women from the United States and Colombia, both settler-colonial states. Watch their talks, which were captured by Consortium News.

On Sunday, we hit 1,000 signatures on our petition to shut down AFRICOM! Help us get to 1,500 signatures by next week by sharing this link.

Please also attend these events:

  1. African peoples are asked to participate in the Black Is Back Coalition’s (BIB) November 3 March on the White House in Washington, D.C., and the BIB conference on November 4.
  2. Now that Trump’s military parade is canceled due to mass pressure, BAP is helping organize Peace Congress: End All U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad, being held November 10 in Washington, D.C. BAP Coordinating Committee member Netfa Freeman will speak at this event.
  3. Join BAP Coordinating Committee members Margaret Kimberley and Ajamu Baraka at the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Military Bases, being held November 16-18 in Dublin, Ireland.
  4. BAP Coordinating Committee member Jaribu Hill has been organizing the Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference (SHROC) for 22 years. Join her and activists from the Global South Dec. 7-9 in Atlanta. Book a hotel room by November 13 for the group rate.

No compromise.

No retreat.

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All images in this article are from BAP.

For a month after Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi’s Istanbul consulate, never to be seen or heard from again, Turkish President Erdogan refrained from accusing kingdom crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) of ordering his murder to silence him.

In a November 2  Washington Post  op-ed, that changed, President Erdogan pointedly saying:

“(W)e know the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government” – meaning MBS, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, authority delegated to him by his father, king Salman, Erdogan adding:

“We also know that (MBS directed a 15-member Saudi hit squad) to carry out (his) orders: Kill Khashoggi (in Istanbul) and leave.”

“(W)e must reveal the identities of the puppet masters behind Khashoggi’s killing” – meaning MBS and his top aides, not king Salman, having largely abdicated authority to his favorite son, the crown prince.

Screengrab from Washington Post

The Saudi hit squad team arrived in Istanbul and left less than 24 hours later, carrying out their order to kill Khashoggi and dispose of his body.

It’s unclear whether it was buried in Turkey at an unknown location, returned to the kingdom, or dissolved in acid as one report claimed.

Multiple reports said he was strangled to death straightaway after entering the consulate, his body dismembered for disposal.

After weeks of dissembling, wrapped in changing narratives, Riyadh finally admitted the killing, calling what happened “premeditated” – while going all-out to shield MBS from responsibility.

Erdogan accused high-level Saudi officials of “coverup,” adding

“(s)ome…hope this ‘problem’ will go away in time. But we will keep asking those questions, which are crucial to the criminal investigation in Turkey…”

A month after Khashoggi’s abduction and murder, important questions remain unanswered, including the location of his remains and names of all Saudi officials involved in eliminating him.

“…Saudi authorities have refused to answer (these and other important) questions,” stonewalling to conceal vital information, said Erdogan, saying:

He shared Turkish evidence of the killing “with our friends and allies, including the United States.”

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi involves a lot more than a group of security officials” dispatched to Istanbul to eliminate him.

In a same day WaPo editorial, the broadsheet pointedly said the following:

“The most important question in the case of Jamal Khashoggi is whether Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, will be held accountable for what his regime acknowledges was a premeditated act of murder,” adding:

“Much of the available evidence points to the prince. We cannot find a Middle East expert who believes the official story that the 15-member assassination team sent to Istanbul, including five probable members of the prince’s security detail, was a rogue operation.”

“Yet the regime is engaged in a determined stonewalling operation to protect the 33-year-old crown prince, who stands to inherit the throne from his father and become the absolute ruler of one of the world’s largest oil producers, potentially for decades.”

“He has the support of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi — another dictator who has killed peaceful opponents — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” – allied with the US in brutalizing Palestinians.

“According to Post reporting, Mr. Sissi and Mr. Netanyahu have lobbied the White House not to punish Mohammed bin Salman.”

At a Friday memorial service for Khashoggi in Washington’s Mayflower hotel, his fiancee Hatice Cengiz said

“I really don’t know how to express myself. Nothing has relieved me of the pain from the atrocity I experienced.”

“The most important reason for this is because his corpse has still not been found…(O)ur pain is still as fresh as the first day.”

Separately in a WaPo commentary, she said:

“Today is also United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The coincidence is tragic and painful.”

“It is now up to the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice…But the Trump administration has taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation.”

“Those who ordered this murder — even if they stand in the highest political office — should also be prosecuted.”

Most often, justice delayed is denied, what’s likely ahead this time – the Trump regime stalling to maintain normal relations with the kingdom.

The policy of most other countries is no different. Khashoggi’s murder won’t change dirty business as usual with the kingdom – never before, not now or ahead.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from The Unz Review.

One of the main set-pieces of US, EU and NATO member state foreign policy towards Russia is the claim that “Russia invaded Crimea,” a cardinal sin which can only be expunged by Moscow relinquishing its new acquisition. As punishment, the West have imposed punitive sanctions on Russia along with a near full economic embargo on the Russian Federation’s newest member, Crimea. Also woven into this stalemate is the linchpin of US and NATO’s geostrategic marriage of convenience with the Ukraine, namely, an ‘unwavering’ promise to Kiev by the West that they will do everything in its power to somehow ‘repatriate’ the Russian-speaking Crimean region to the Ukraine. If the collective commitment behind that promise ever comes into question, then the covalent bondbetween US, EU and Ukraine will weaken significantly, which may eventually steer Kiev toward the unimaginable – reestablishing sane bilateral relations with Russia.

According to recent remarks made by one Italian parliamentarian, that day may be approaching earlier than Washington and its partners would care to admit. Stefano Valdegamberi, deputy of regional parliament of Venice intimated in a recent interview (see passage below) how the current EU policy of frozen relations with Crimea could begin to thaw after the next election cycle. Far from happenstance, there are a number of practical reasons why this shift was bound to occur.

As a result of the Trump Administration’s aggressive trade policies, along with its apparent inability to honor its international treaties and commitments, most notably with the Iran JCPOA Nuclear Deal, Brussels has been allowed to drift away from Washington’s gravitational pull, and build independent trading mechanisms of its own in order to allow EU members to honor the JCPOA terms and maintain normal relations with Iran. Concerning the Iran deal, Washington had to choose between following the dictates of the Israeli Lobby, or honoring its multilateral agreement with the P5+1 signatories, and it chose Tel Aviv. Such shortsightedness has potentially opened a new door between Brussels and Moscow, as both parties desire partners who exhibit normative traits and consistent behavior – neither of which Washington has been able to offer under the current regime.

Recent large-scale NATO sabre rattling may appear ‘high-profile’ through the lens of a defense-friendly mainstream media establishment, but ultimately, for European lawmakers the military imperative will be subservient to the attraction of positive trade and diplomatic relations with their eastern partners. In other words, US and NATO can only milk the fear card so long before they expend too much credibility in the eyes of greater Europe. Moscow has made it clear to the West, by word and deed, that despite the loud condemnations, it is not prepared to offer any concessions to the US-EU duo. Nor can the US or EU make any coherent case that Russia or the people of Crimea have acted outside of international law. Conversely, a much stronger case has been made that the US and its allies initiated a coup d’etat in Kiev on February 23, 2014. A sober realist analysis of the situation reveals that regardless of the events of 2014, Russia would have found a way to maintain its strategic military interests in Crimea, only the unholy and haphazard alliance between Washington and Kiev created a perfect opportunity for Moscow to expedite a reunion with its former territory on the Crimean peninsula.

The West’s current conundrum is further compounded by the fact that the US and EU’s ‘smart’ or targeted sanctions – are not designed with any practical coercive objective in mind other than to show resolve and ‘send a clear message to the government of Vladimir Putin’ by punish individuals and businesses, with the intention of weakening and destabilizing the Russian and Crimean economies. As far as Italy and other European countries are concerned, all economic stakeholders are losers under the current isolation and containment framework, with European actors forced to participate in what is ostensibly a geopolitical chess match between Washington and Moscow.

Many EU members are struggling to see the benefits of this zero sum game. Arguably, no other country has consistently voiced as much opposition to this US-imposed crisis than Italy.

Stalkerzone reports…

The deputy of regional parliament of Venice Stefano Valdegamberi stated during the “Crimea in a Modern International Context” conference that the pressure of European sanctions is felt not only by Crimeans, but also by the citizens of the European Union who are interested in cooperating with the peninsula.

“The first time I visited Crimea was 3 years ago on the occasion of the International forum, and when I returned back to Italy I described the prospects of development in Crimea. I spoke in the regional parliament and spoke about the situation that exists, and the deputies of Veneto voted to recognise Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation. In the European arena there are comments about Crimea being occupied by Russia – this is completely false information. The decisions on the sanctions plan that were made in the EU aren’t correct in relation to Crimea,” noted Valdegamberi.

“Over the past few years the situation in Italy has changed concerning Crimea. Thanks to the results of the last three years, a new government came to power that supports Crimea and understands the situation that has now developed on the peninsula. A few days ago Matteo Salvini was in Moscow, and has said that Italy recognises the decisions made in Crimea,” said the deputy.

The politician has also expressed confidence that at the upcoming elections in European Parliament the situation will change in favor of the Crimean peninsula even more. Also he has given several examples of violation of the rights of the Crimea.

“Last year the police came to the Vinitaly exhibition in Verona and confiscated the wines that were presented by Crimea. The sale of Crimean wines in the European market is blocked. A week ago my friend went to Crimea, he brought equipment for construction. In fact, he had to go there illegally, because if Europe learned that this businessman was here, his accounts could be arrested.

Money transfers are blocked, the exchange of the necessary equipment is blocked. It is impossible to send tourists to Crimea, it is impossible to do business in Crimea, and many Italians would like to be engaged in business here. Many ask me already every day how it’s possible to develop tourism and agriculture here. Unfortunately, officially they can’t do it,” said the deputy.

“In fact, it is direct violence against the will of the citizens of the European Union. When I return I will speak about all these problems in Italy and I will try to further avoid them,” summarised Valdegamberi.

While Crimea may be cut off from the West economically, Moscow is gradually building up infrastructural improvements, including projects like the Kerch Strait Bridge which will further increase Crimea’s transport and trade capabilities, and offsetting any reliance on the Ukraine for subsistence. Aside from this, these type of investments are hugely symbolic and will further endear Crimea to Russia, as opposed to Kiev. The idea in Washington that this reality can somehow be reversed is but a post-modern projection on the decaying wall of Neoliberalism and R2P vindicationism.

The other fundamental error made by the West has been its consistent underestimation of the steadfastness and self-determination of the people in the Donbass. Recently, first deputy of OSCE SMM, Alexander Hug, commented that, “What I have seen – I haven’t seen this elsewhere really – is that the people in the Eastern part of Ukraine are very resilient.”

This point is pivotal, not least of all because the EU wing of the US-EU joint sanctions regime against the Russian Federation is tied to the implementation of the Minsk Peace Process. Do the people of the Ukraine really have the appetite for a protracted bloody civil war? If not, then the prospects of a lasting ceasefire are much more realistic than Washington’s fanciful hopes that the resistance in the Donbass will roll over and accept unequivocal subjugation by a US-controlled regime in Kiev. That said, it should be fairly obvious by now that the hawks in Washington and Kiev will try anything to railroad the Minsk Accords so as to keep broad economic sanctions nailed firmly in place. It has been suggested that the recent assassination of Donbass leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, was carried out for this very reason. The clear determination of the people of Donbass should point towards the possibility of a stalemate, at which point there is a chance for the implementation of the key objectives of Minsk. At this point, Kiev will have to negotiate. In his parting comments before leaving the region, Hug alluded to such an outcome:

“I can’t predict the date of the end of this conflict, I know that the military aspect of the conflict can be ended rather quickly. And I certainly know that it is not a conflict between the people, and that the decision is a political decision, and nothing else.”

The real danger is that desperate hawks in Washington and Kiev will try and undermine any peaceful outcome so as to extend the status quo indefinitely. The biggest beneficiary of a continuation of hostilities has to be NATO and the military industrial complex whose entire forward-planning policy and commercial agenda rests solely on the maintaining heightened tension between the Russia and the US-EU, with the Ukraine being the epicenter of that effort.

To date, most of the Western mythos for Crimea has been preserved through a sustained propaganda blitz, waged by the western government-media complex since 2014. As time passes and the daisy chain of repetitive, emotive talking points continues to fold under the weight of reality, Europe’s eventually acceptance and recognition of Crimea as a friendly outpost for trade and tourism – is inevitable. The same is true for European relations with Russia.

The days of unipolar hegemony are rapidly shrinking in the rear view mirror of history. The sooner Washington’s foreign policy blob realizes this, the better off everyone will be – including Washington.

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Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.

Featured image is from 21st CW.

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While the body of the murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post has not been found, the government of Saudi Arabia has admitted that he is dead, killed during an interrogation gone wrong in their Consulate in Istanbul. But the Turkish President Erdogan insisted that it is a pre-meditated murder, which the Saudi Attorney General owned up to recently.

Interestingly, a recent report in the British daily, the Express, reported that the British Government Command Headquarters (GCHQ) had intercepted communications from Saudi Intelligence some two weeks before Khashoggi’s disappearance, containing instructions for the latter’s capture and forced return to Saudi Arabia, which according to British intelligence sources was left open ended should there be resistance. Apparently they advised Riyadh against it but, as has transpired, the Saudis had obviously ignored them. But the source was at pains to point out they have no idea whether the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamad bin Salman (MbS), was even aware. The question though is, why was Khashoggi not advised of this threat — apparently Washington too was not in the dark — because in an interview with the BBC Khashoggi’s fiancée said he had not shown any visible signs of fear.

We are told by British intelligence sources that Khashoggi was about to whistleblow on the Saudis use of chemical weapons in Yemen, which means he was viewed as a security menace by the Saudis. This leak, if true, explains the attempted rendition, if not the murder. 

But, what is puzzling is the furore caused in Washington and many European capitals, one that has been kept on the boil by mainstream media suggesting that this incident will not go away without costing Saudi Arabia dear, the lack of hard evidence notwithstanding and the blunder of Saudi admission fatal. 

And so, what could be the aftermath of the Khashoggi murder on Saudi Arabia?

Top of the list of possibilities is regime change. Many observers, including Washington insiders, argue for possible regime change. That initial reports went out of their way to implicate the Crown Prince would suggest this. One interviewee on Al-Jazeera’s “Inside Story” says that Saudi Arabia will now no longer be considered a reliable ally as long as the Crown Prince runs the country. His track record damns him: he ‘kidnapped’ the Lebanese Prime Minister and forced him to resign; the war on Yemen which he escalated that has turned out to be genocidal in intent; and, the imprisonment of feminist activists.

It is also no secret that the Crown Prince has made enemies from among the Royal princes. He detained the richest among them in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton to shake them down like a Mafia boss, albeit for the country’s treasury. This did not endear him to them. Additionally, in the resulting mayhem two princes were killed. They would want revenge and ousting MbS would be a dream come true, but such decisions belong to the House of Saud’s Allegiance Council, comprising the ruling family’s senior princes, who agreed to Mohamad Bin Salman’s appointment as Crown Prince in the first place. 

But the return of self-exiled Prince Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, brother to King Salman, in the last few days, with his safety guaranteed by the Americans and British might yet spell sweet revenge for the Crown Prince’s enemies. Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz, a member of the Allegiance Council was one of the few who did not support Mohamad bin Salman’s appointment. However, he himself was by-passed by the Council for the position of Crown Prince, which opted, instead, for his brother Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud because they deemed him too weak. Nayef’s health it was that opened the way for Mohamad bin Salman.

In standing behind the weak Prince Ahmad do Washington and London then feel he can be asked to do their bidding at will?

Mohamad bin Salman is too valuable to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) because he is instrumental to the further strengthening of the Saudi-Israel relationship. Between Mohamad bin Salman and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, the ground is being prepared for the Kushner proposed Palestine solution which, according to leaks, would be overwhelmingly advantageous to Israel. But might not a Crown Prince completely compliant to American will — the King posing no obstacle because of alleged dementia — achieve the same end and thus eliminate any resistance even by this most powerful Jewish lobby group?

As to the war on Yemen, if this latest manoeuvre works, it can be fashioned at will depending on its primary objective. Whose war is it? Both Washington and London are fuelling it, the former even with boots on the ground. Iran is accused of supporting the rebels. Reports, though denied by Tehran, allege Iran arms the rebels. Saudi Arabia is spooked by the Iranian influence over the Houthis, the rebels. Iran has become an excuse for reinforcing the American role in Yemen which has its own history. And, it is worth remembering the civil war in Yemen has its roots in the 1960s when the foreign powers involved were Egypt and the British. Surely a straightforward civil war is easily solved, but not this one. One doubts, therefore, that a regime change by Washington would alleviate the suffering of the Yemenis.

But is a regime change without challenge? According to the media the Sauds as a family feels that Mohamad bin Salman is too tainted and has injured their image. But they have already decided that Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz is “too weak” to even be a Crown Prince, what more a King, when the time comes. Rumours though, suggest that Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz has gathered support from a few powerful princes.

What of the ulama around whom the family’s stranglehold on the throne has revolved? Can a divided Royal family rely on a fatwa that will support one against the other, if the people are to be placated when Ahmad bin Abdul-Aziz is clearly the choice of ‘infidels’? Furthermore, history has shown how much a strong leader is valued by the family, the reason why King Faisal was able to overthrow his older brother, the easy-going King Saud.

Should Washington and London’s political interference in the Saudi succession fail what other options are left to the Zionist imperialists?

While a revolutionary change in Saudi Arabia is hard to envision, there is talk of establishing a constitutional monarchy. The close cooperation between the Royal household and Islam has always meant that the citizenry is not open to change without a fatwa by the ulama. And, although a binary fission among the ulama class is said to exist both sides are conservative Wahhabis who view democracy as damaging to Islam.

But, is the “unreliable” Mohamad Bin Salman with the absolute power he wields, tempered only by his father, a threat to the American economy? Saudi Arabia, through its leadership of OPEC, is pivotal to the survival of the Petrodollar, the instrument that guarantees the US dollar’s status as the world’s premier reserve currency. It is this that has allowed America to borrow with impunity allowing her to execute a policy of perpetual (imperialist) war. Today the US national debt is over US$20 trillion. A collapse of the Petrodollar then is dangerous, if not fatal, to the US economy.

If Mohamad bin Salman, the undependable, threatens the economic security of the US would Washington decide to invade Saudi Arabia, when left without option? The war of words between the two countries began just before the Khashoggi murder. Furthermore, historical evidence shows that at the height of the oil embargo of the 1970s America had plans to invade but that was averted by the then King’s rabid antagonism towards Communism. The threatened defeat of America at the hands of Communist Vietnam ended the embargo.

Today, the US finds its premier global position threatened. Could this be why the Crown Prince has built strong relations with Russia? President Putin has remained aloof from the hyper-excitement of Washington and Europe with regard the Khashoggi ‘murder’ case saying that he is not privy to information that makes judgment possible. The Russian delegation to the MbS inspired “Davos in the Desert” was substantial. In fact, many think that Russia will benefit most from the Jamal Khashoggi fallout.

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Askiah Adam is the Executive Director of the International Movement for a JUST (JUST) World. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

The United States is threatening to withdraw from two international organizations that survived World Wars I and II but may not survive the retrogressive neo-conservative foreign policy of Donald Trump. The world’s third-oldest international organization, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), founded in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland, has been informed by Washington of the US withdrawal. The United States became, under the administration of President Ulysses Grant, a founding member of the UPU.

The Trump administration, notably the rabidly-rightwing White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, is upset over foreign government subsidies for certain postal authorities, most notably that of China, which reduces international parcel mailing costs to manufacturers and consumers. Rather than negotiate revised postal rates, through the auspices of the UPU, which was established to standardize the world’s postal system, Trump plans to leave the organization.

The Trump White House is also threatening US withdrawal from the second-oldest international organization, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), established by the International Telegraph Convention in Paris in 1865. The United States joined the ITU in 1908, during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. The two presidents – Grant and Roosevelt – who ushered the United States into the UPU and ITU, respectively, were Republicans.

Trump’s beef with the ITU is over the organization’s management of the international radio frequency spectrum and its movement toward managing international data bandwidth. Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) members, notably FCC chairman Ajit Pai and member Michael O’Rielly, both of whom are owned and operated by America’s communications giants — including AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast — who want private industry, not government agencies, to set the rules for radio spectrum and bandwidth governance.

The flagrant racism of the Trump administration was on full display when the United States, for the first time in the history of its membership of the Geneva-based ITU, withdrew its candidate for chairman of the Radio Regulations Board (RRB), one of the governing bodies of the ITU. The RRB is key to the oversight and management of the global radio spectrum management, something that Trump and his business cronies want to milk for as much profiteering as possible.

The candidate dropped for RRB chair was board vice-chair Joanne Wilson, nominated by Barack Obama in 2014 to the board’s second-ranking position. Breaking with protocol, Washington not only dropped Wilson as chairman-designate but counteracted the ITU’s consensus that Jean Philemon Kissangou should be elected as the director of the ITU’s Telecommunications Development Bureau (BDT).

The Trump administration has threatened to cut off funding of the ITU, a move tantamount to withdrawal, unless the ITU selects Doreen Bogdan-Martin, a favorite of the scandal-ridden US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, to be the next BDT director. Ross’s Commerce Department touts Bogdan-Martin as the first woman to head any of the ITU’s elected leadership roles in the organization’s 153-year history. However, the Commerce Department is lying. Ms. Wilson was slated to become the ITU’s first woman to be elected the head of an ITU body, the RRB.

Wilson’s disqualifying factor for the Trump White House is that she is an African-American. Kissangou’s disqualifier for the Trump administration is that he is an African from the Republic of Congo, one of the nations that Trump previously described as a “shithole.” Bogdan-Martin, who is white, had the backing of the George W. Bush administration for various positions at the ITU. The racism that is on display by the Republican Party in elections in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and other states is also fashionable in elections for international organization leadership positions in Geneva.

The UPU is also withstanding an onslaught by the Trump administration. The advent of e-commerce has resulted in discussions by the UPU to overhaul its system of postal rates. However, rather than participate in UPU negotiations aimed at reforming the current system, the Trump administration, which eschews multilateralism, decided to walk away from an international organization that survived its adjunct status with the ill-fated League of Nations and became part of the United Nations specialized agency system.

The UPU’s main responsibility is to set standards for electronic data interchange (EDI), mail encoding, postal forms, international reply coupons, international postal money orders, and meters between postal authorities. It also strives to ensure that member states adhere to uniform flat rates for mailing letters to any location around the world. Another UPU standard is that stamp values be denoted in Roman numerals.

The UPU also sets regulations for the sending of biologically perishable materials via international post and the handling of both hazardous materials and disease-bearing items that could pose a danger to postal workers. In pursuit of postal safety, the UPU coordinates its activities with the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, and the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Trump administration also announced the US withdrawal from UNESCO, effective December 31, 2018. The United States maintains the horrible distinction of being the only UPU member where the postal system was used, during the George W. Bush administration, to distribute a biological warfare agent – anthrax.

The consequences of US withdrawal from the UPU will be felt immediately. According to UPU deputy director-general Pascal Clivaz, upon termination of American membership in the treaty, Americans will no longer be able to send or receive letters or packages to and from UPU member states, including Canada and Mexico. The UPU will no longer share special codes with the US Postal Service (USPS) that are necessary to send and receive international mail. The only mechanism to send and receive international mail will be via more expensive private delivery services, such as FedEx and UPS. Trump has made no secret of his desire to completely eliminate the USPS and its employees.

US postage stamps may soon be recognized as void postal instruments, so far as the rest of the world is concerned. Postage stamps issued by Vatican City, Christmas Island, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Pitcairn Island, Aitutaki, Tristan da Cunha, the United Nations, Madeira, the Faroes, and the British Antarctic Territory will carry more international legitimacy than a US stamp, thanks to Mr. Trump and his brigands.

The US withdrawal from the UPU will adversely affect three independent Pacific states that are in “compacts of free association” with the United States. Under the compacts, the USPS handles all mail deliveries to and from the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Micronesia. In order to ensure uninterrupted postal connections with neighboring Pacific island states, Asia, and beyond, these impoverished nations will have to establish independent postal authorities and services. In one way, Trump’s decision will allow these semi-colonial states to become more independent of Washington and, ultimately, establish foreign policies that will no longer ensure their reflexive support for the US and Israel in the UN General Assembly.

The UPU and ITU managed to weather the Nazi occupation of Europe and North Africa. The belligerent nations of World War II continued to maintain membership in both organizations. In addition, the UPU and ITU were the only two international organizations in which the Soviet Union maintained membership before and immediately following World War II. Mail between the Nazi Reich and the Allied powers, all of which remained members of the UPU, was possible via P.O. Box 506 at the Thomas Cook office in Lisbon or the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.

Although belligerent nations in World War II conducted extensive wiretapping of international telegraph and telephone lines and radio connections, phone calls and telegrams could still be sent between major world capitals because the ITU’s standards continued to be maintained. Seamless digital communications may no longer be the case if the Trump administration, unlike Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Imperial Japan, abandons the ITU and its radio frequency management and standards criteria.

The UPU and ITU survived Adolf Hitler, but not Donald Trump. That is a legacy for which every American should feel nothing but shame and everlasting remorse.

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Following the victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Sunday’s Brazilian election, events have suggested that the consequences of the far-right politician’s rise to power will reach far beyond Latin America. Indeed, the Middle East is set to feel the effects of Bolsonaro’s rise to power directly, as his administration will continue the trend of the normalization of the state of Israel — whose current government exhibits dramatic parallels with Bolsonaro, courtesy of their mutual promotion of ethno-nationalism and arguably ethno-fascism.

Over the course of his controversial campaign, Bolsonaro lavished praise upon Israel on numerous occasions, making it no secret that he is a great admirer of Israel’s current ruling party, Likud, and Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In August, Bolsonaro announced that – if elected President – he would close the Palestinian Embassy in Brasilia, cut off relations with Palestine completely, and move the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Following Bolsonaro’s electoral victory, Netanyahu called Bolsonaro to congratulate the country’s new president-elect and stated that

“I am confident that your election will lead to a great friendship between the two peoples and to the strengthening of ties between Brazil and Israel,” while also extending an invitation for Bolsonaro to visit Israel.

A senior Israeli diplomat, quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, stated that – with Bolsonaro in charge – “Brazil will now be colored in blue and white,” referring to the colors of Israel’s flag. Soon after, Brazilian media reported that Netanyahu would most likely attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration on January 1, which would make Netanyahu the first Israeli prime minister to ever visit Latin America’s largest country.

An enduring Israeli romance

Bolsonaro’s praise of Israel has long been an important part of his politics. For instance, in 2014, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Bolsonaro sent a letter to Israel’s Brazilian Embassy announcing his full support for the offensive despite the indiscriminate use of force against civilians. Dilma Rousseff, who was Brazil’s president at the time, condemned the Israeli military’s tactics and later called the offensive a “massacre,” which prompted Bolsonaro to call Rousseff’s criticism “brutish, inopportune, hypocritical and cowardly.” Bolsonaro had further stated that “majority of Brazilians with culture, dignity and common sense are with the people of Israel and against terrorism.”

In another case, in 2016, Bolsonaro was baptized by a Brazilian Pentecostal preacher in the Jordan River during a trip to Israel, which Bolsonaro heavily promoted during his campaign to court Brazil’s Jewish and evangelical communities. However, some Jews – including Israelis who are fierce critics of Bolsonaro despite his unabashed support for the Jewish state – have accused Bolsonaro of using the trip and the footage of his baptism to court the large evangelical Christian community in Brazil as opposed to Brazil’s Jewish community. Notably, the recent Brazilian election fractured Brazil’s Jewish community, as many Jews in the country protested against Bolsonaro despite his efforts to court them.

Such division in Brazil’s Jewish community regarding Bolsonaro may relate to some of the inconsistencies that have arisen as a result of Bolsonaro’s heavy praise for Netanyahu. For example, while Bolsonaro campaigned heavily as a “swamp drainer” and as an antidote to the corruption scandals that have engulfed Brazil in recent years, the Israeli prime minister, as well as his wife Sara Netanyahu, are currently embroiled in massive corruption scandals that have threatened their popularity within Israel.

Another apparent paradox in the Netanyahu-Bolsonaro relationship is the fact that, as previously mentioned, a considerable number of Israelis have heaped criticism upon Bolsonaro — with groups like “Jews Against Bolsonaro” including Israelis as prominent members, and prominent Israeli newspapers comparing Bolsonaro to Adolf Hitler. Given the high-profile comparisons of Bolsonaro to Hitler within Israel, Netanyahu’s praise of Bolsonaro may seem strange and striking to some.

However, Netanyahu and other right-wing Israeli politicians have often supported ethno-nationalists abroad, while Likud party politics itself revolves around ethno-nationalism, which has often translated into apartheid policies. The support has gone both ways, as European and American ethno-nationalists in recent years have combined anti-Semitic rhetoric with fervent support for Israel’s apartheid policies and efforts to fortify its status as an exclusively Jewish ethnostate.

Ethnic cleansing meets the meat market

Bolsonaro, with his calls to “cleanse” Brazil of “undesirable” minority ethnicities and other groups, is just the latest far-right, ethno-supremacist politician to receive a warm welcome from Netanyahu and the Zionist apartheid apparatus.

Yet Bolsonaro’s pledge to forge close ties to Israel may face some unexpected obstacles. For instance, Brazilian media reports have noted that Bolsonaro’s pledges to cut off relations with Palestine and move the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem are expected to jeopardize the market for Brazilian meat that Brazil has cultivated in Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East.

According to the influential Brazilian newspaper Folha, more than 40 percent of poultry and beef produced in Brazil is halal and thus can be consumed by practitioners of Islam. Experts and analysts quoted by Folha have warned that Bolsonaro’s expected Israel policy threatens to “annihilate” this key market for Brazilian meat producers. This concern could manifest as a major hurdle for Bolsonaro’s planned Israel policy, given that the meat lobby in Brazil – which includes the world’s largest meat producer, JBS – is extremely influential in Brazilian politics and will likely act to protect such a lucrative market.

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Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Featured image: Jair Bolsonaro holds an Israeli flag during the 26th March for Jesus in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo | Alexssandro Loyola

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Genetically engineered viruses could very well become the next generation of warfare. Deadly viruses modified in labs could be released eliminating entire communities of people as they infect making them a valuable asset to militaries worldwide.

As dystopian as that sounds, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is already working on a project called Insect Allies which will use insects to infect crops with genetically modified viruses that edit the crops’ genetic profile to make them more resilient against disease, as well as natural and manufactured threats to the food supply.

Joe Joseph of The Daily Sheeple said a quick Google search would give you enough information to let you know how horrific this kind of technology can be. “…and you’ll find it fascinating just at how unbelievable a weapon this could be, how unintentionally mistakes can be made that can cause irreversible damage…irreparable damage…to the human race. And I mean, FAST!” Joseph said. “A gene drive…if let’s just say there’s a mistake, you could feasibly wipe out the human race in a very very short period of time. It’s an unbelievable tool at the disposal of madmen.” –SHTFPlan

DARPA attempted to squash rising fears about their Insect Allies project and issue reassurances after German and French scientists voiced questions and concerns about the program’s efficacy earlier this month.  Those scientists also suggested that it could be “widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery, which—if true—would constitute a breach of the Biological Weapons Convention.”

If the know-how and means exist to transmit genetic viruses that supposedly create beneficial crop mutations, the opposite will also be possible.  DARPA will be able to use insects to deliver gene editing viruses that destroy crops, ruin harvests and adversely affect the wider ecosystem, RT accurately pointed out. This means that those who fear this program are not far off at all for doing so.

Another project receiving DARPA funding involves releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys area to transmit a sterilizing genetic virus to their malaria-carrying counterparts. Apart from the unknown effects upon the wider ecosystem, the knowledge gleaned from such research could one day make it possible for a state, a non-state actor, or a non-state actor working on behalf of a state to accidentally or deliberately use insect vectors to unleash a variety of biological agents and genetic viruses upon an unsuspecting population.

Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed his concerns over the potential for a human killing genetically engineered virus just last year. Whilst chairing a meeting of Russia’s Human Rights Council, Putin stated:

“… do you know that biological material is being collected all over the country, from different ethnic groups and people living in different geographical regions of the Russian Federation? The question is – why is it being done? It’s being done purposefully and professionally. We are a kind of object of great interest.”

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Featured image is from SHTFplan.com.

American Terror Is Not New

November 3rd, 2018 by Margaret Kimberley

The casual, endemic and racist violence that characterizes American behavior at home and abroad cannot be laid at the doorstep of the current buffoon in the White House.

“The most prevalent racially motivated murders are carried out by police across the country.”

Within the past week very disturbing and violent events took place in quick succession across the country. Two black people were shot to death in a Louisville, Kentucky supermarket. The white shooter made it clear that his goal was to kill black people when he said, “Whites don’t shoot whites,” as he was apprehended. No sooner had this crime occurred than a Florida man was arrested and charged with sending explosive devices to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, and Eric Holder among others. One day later a shooting at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue left 11 people dead.

The unnamed suspect in all of these cases is Donald Trump. The bombing suspect made clear his love for the 45thpresident. He was described by his attorney as a previously apolitical man who nonetheless “found a father in Donald Trump.” The Louisville killing is the latest in a long line carried out by white racists. Anti-black violence is as old as white settlement on this continent.

“The bombing suspect was described as a previously apolitical man who nonetheless ‘found a father in Donald Trump.’”

Analysis of these recent incidents must be made very carefully. Trump differs from his predecessors mostly by tearing away the veneer of humanity and civility from a system which is relentlessly brutal. But the façade keeps many would be terrorists from carrying out their sick fantasies. There are people who keep their hatred to themselves until they know that they may be given some cover and acceptance. Hatred expressed by a president emboldens people who might not ordinarily act upon their racist impulses.

It is very dangerous for these hidden haters to think they can come out of their closets. At the same time we cannot forget that a racist shooter succeeded in entering a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and killing 9 people in 2015 when Barack Obama was president. The most prevalent racially motivated murders are carried out by police across the country when they kill an average of 300 black people every year.

“Anti-black violence is as old as white settlement on this continent.”

It is a mistake to see Trump as a singular evil in American history. He is also not an anomaly among world leaders. An avowed fascist just won a presidential race in Brazil. White supremacists march openly in European countries like Ukraine where the Obama administration helped to overthrow an elected president and install Nazis among the new leadership. Fascism is carried out daily not only by the police but by the neoliberal state and by the military as it carries out a war of terror all over the world.

The current moment is perilous and requires serious analysis. Trump is the low hanging fruit in any discussion of racism and other forms of bigotry. But the country cannot be given a pass and allowed to behave as if all was well until he was elected.White people cannot play innocent and black people can’t relax when the day comes that he is out office.

“White supremacists march openly in Ukraine where the Obama administration helped install Nazis.”

If Trump can be connected to all of these incidents it should be with the knowledge that the entire country is suffering from a terrible sickness that few want to confront. Americans prefer to think well of themselves and their nation and treat any information contradicting that belief as an inconvenience to be avoided at all costs. There were hate crimes before Donald Trump ran for president and most of them weren’t carried out by individuals. Most of them are still sanctioned by the state.

The crazed Trump lover may have tried to send bombs to Obama and Clinton but they sent bombs to Libya and destroyed a nation that still suffers from their terrorist acts. They are quite literally guilty of committing hate crimes, along with other NATO leaders and their predecessors in high places. The fact that they know how to express diplomatic niceties is no reason to see them as being on our side as we fight to defeat fascism at home and around the world.

Their enablers cannot be given a pass either. When we fight to make war and peace a political issue we are derided as purists and spoilers who ought to be quiet and allow imperialism to take place without hindrance. The people who join in the chorus of denunciation should not be allowed to wring their hands when dead bodies appear within our borders too.

“There were hate crimes before Donald Trump ran for president, most of them sanctioned by the state.”

If they want to denounce Trump they had an excellent opportunity recently. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing unilaterally from the INF missile treaty with Russia. This decision quite literally puts the world closer to nuclear war. But the liberal Trump haters have had very little to say about a policy change which quite literally endangers all life on the planet. The numbers of people who realize the danger and speak against this action is miniscule, unlike the near unanimous condemnation of racist gun men and the would be mail bomber.

We always lived in a very dangerous nation. Trump makes it more difficult to be in denial. But we must fight against the crowd which averts its eyes until a racist buffoon enters the White House. There is nothing new about American terrorism. It can be found in high and low places regardless of presidential civility or lack thereof.

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

Featured image is from BAR.

Warehousing Immigrant Children in the Texas Desert

November 3rd, 2018 by Victoria López

Since June, the federal government has been operating a massive tent city in the West Texas desert to detain immigrant children who have traveled to the United States seeking protection from persecution and abuse in their home countries. 

Last week, I visited the Tornillo detention camp with colleagues from the ACLU of Texas. There are currently over 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant kids at Tornillo, most from Central America, who were transferred from long-term shelter placements. They’re presently waiting to be reunified with family members or other sponsors while their immigration cases move forward. The sprawling detention camp has the capacity to detain up to 3,200 children.

Federal law prioritizes the best interests of the child. In the case of immigrant minors, that means prioritizing reunification and placing children in the least restrictive setting possible. Typically, these children are transferred from Department of Homeland Security custody to shelters across the country run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where they wait to be reunified with family members or other sponsors while their cases move through the immigration courts.

The Tornillo detention camp represents a major shift in the policy and practice of putting the best interests of the child first. It is an outgrowth of a crisis manufactured by the Trump administration to terrorize immigrant communities and restrict legal options for people seeking protection in the U.S., including children.

A recent agreement between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and ORR now requires background checks and fingerprints — not just for potential sponsors of immigrant youth but for any person living in the same household as sponsors — that can then be shared with ICE. The effect is to instill fear of arrest and deportation in those who come forward to sponsor a child. This change in policy has created major obstacles for families and delays in the reunification process, in some cases increasing the time a child spends in detention.

Some of the kids told us they had already been at Tornillo for a few months. One 16-year-old girl told us she is from Guatemala and was detained in a shelter in New York before she was transferred to the Tornillo camp in July. She said she had no idea how much longer she would be there but she wanted to be reunified with her family. Nearly all of the girls in the group I spoke with said they were waiting for “huellas” — fingerprint clearances of their sponsors and households. Officials told us that approximately 600 of the kids at Tornillo were waiting for such background checks.

The Tornillo camp was built from the ground up in the middle of the desert over the summer. It is a sprawling site that backs up to a border fence marking the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. There are khaki-colored tents lined up in rows with plastic orange cones and temporary fencing, creating makeshift streets and sidewalks. There are about 20 boys to a tent who sleep on bunk beds. There are about 200 girls detained at Tornillo in a large white tent that serves as a dormitory, as well as a multi-purpose room where they have their meals and some activities, including a few hours of education per day — which were implemented after scrutiny by advocacy groups.

Tornillo Camp
Courtesy HHS

The tents are “soft-sided.” They are not insulated, but rather cooled and heated through an external unit that blows air into the tent. They have no natural source of light. The camp does not have a plumbing or sewage system, so all of the water and waste is hauled in and out of the camp. When there’s a lightning storm, common in the desert especially during the summer months, the kids use plastic, stand-alone portable toilets to avoid the risk of electrocution from using the facilities in the metal trailers. Like many immigration detention facilities, the Tornillo detention camp is in a remote area, far from public scrutiny and where legal services are very limited. This is troublesome when those detained are asylum-seeking children who need access to attorneys, social workers, medical care, and community support.

Tornillo Camp Beds
Courtesy HHS

ORR contracts with BCFS, a San Antonio-based nonprofit contractor that provides emergency management services during natural disasters and humanitarian crises. During the tour, officials told us they hauled in everything to set up the detention camp, from the gravel to the generator-powered electricity and portable toilet and shower trailers. The cost of detaining a child at Tornillo is estimated at $700 per day per child. This amounts to millions of dollars each month to advance the Trump administration’s cruel agenda targeting vulnerable migrants who are seeking protection and — in the case of immigrant youth like the kids at Tornillo — reunification with their families.

Detaining children, especially in these conditions, is certainly not in their best interest. It creates immediate risks as well as long-term physical and mental health consequences. Especially considering that many of these children have family members or sponsors waiting to care for their safety and well-being, the government’s insistence on warehousing them at Tornillo is a moral disgrace.

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Victoria López is Senior Staff Attorney at ACLU National Prison Project.

Featured image is from HHS.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced an escalation of US sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela during a bellicose speech delivered in Miami on Thursday to an invitation-only audience of right-wing exiles and Republican functionaries.

Bolton’s speech on the Trump administration’s policy toward Latin America amounted to a demand for regime change in Cuba and Venezuela, as well as Nicaragua, and a naked assertion of US dominance over the hemisphere, with repeated statements concerning behavior that Washington would not “tolerate” on the part of countries to the south of the US border.

Coming just five days before the US midterm elections, the speech was unquestionably part of the Trump administration’s drive to turn out its base, which in Florida includes Cuban exile organizations that have been based in Miami since the 1959 revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

While Bolton’s bombastic rhetoric was no doubt intended to throw out red meat to his reactionary audience, it also provided a genuine expression of Washington’s increasingly aggressive and militaristic policy toward Latin America.

He labelled Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the “Troika of Tyranny,” a deliberate imitation of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric that was employed during the launching of protracted and continuing US wars in the Middle East.

He continued, declaring that this

“triangle of terror is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western hemisphere.”

He vowed that the so-called troika had “met its match” in the Trump administration, which would “no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores.” He vowed that they would “meet their demise,” that “their day of reckoning awaits” and that Washington looked “forward to watching each corner of the triangle fall.”

Bolton called upon the rest of the hemisphere to “look to the north, look to our flag” for its inspiration, presenting the United States as the champion of “human rights” and the “rule of law.”

The absurdity of this pretense was made plain by a speech delivered by Trump just hours after Bolton’s address in which the US president vowed to violate US and international law by imposing a blanket denial of asylum against Central American refugees and threatening to have US troops shoot down immigrant men, women and children on the US-Mexican border.

The most significant of the new sanctions announced in Bolton’s speech was a measure aimed at impeding Venezuela’s exports of gold, which have become an important source of foreign exchange for the country’s crisis-ridden economy. US officials claim that Venezuela has exported some 20 tons of gold to Turkey, a NATO ally with which Washington has come into increasing conflict. Caracas and the government of China also recently signed an agreement to develop what the Venezuelan government termed a strategic alliance to develop the country’s gold-mining sector.

The gold sanctions announcement claims that by evading other US sanctions aimed at strangling the Venezuelan economy, the country’s trade in gold involves “deceptive practices” and “corruption.” Significantly, it adds that the measure can be extended to any other sector of the economy on the same basis, opening the door to the rapid implementation of a US embargo against Venezuelan oil, which accounts for roughly 98 percent of the country’s export earnings.

Also announced was a new set of sanctions against Cuba targeting some two dozen economic entities allegedly tied to the country’s military, which has extensive economic holdings. This is in addition to some 180 Cuban entities targeted by the Trump administration last year.

Bolton delivered his speech on the same day that the United Nations General Assembly condemned the 58-year-old US economic blockade against Cuba, with 189 countries voting for the resolution and only two – the United States and Israel – voting against.

In a question-and-answer period after the speech, Bolton indicated that the Trump administration is considering implementation of a section of the 1996 anti-Cuba Helms-Burton Law to take effect, allowing Cuban exiles in the US to file lawsuits in federal courts against companies doing business involving properties that were expropriated in the wake of the 1959 revolution. The measure has been routinely waived for over two decades because of its extra-territorial reach.

As part of its “America First” global trade war policy, it appears that the Trump White House may break with this practice, leading to a direct conflict between Washington and its leading trade partners, including Canada and the European Union, which both have extensive investments in Cuba.

While no new sanctions were announced against Nicaragua, Bolton advanced the same kind of charges and demands for regime change leveled against Cuba and Venezuela, vowing that the government of President Daniel Ortega “will feel the full weight of America’s robust sanctions regime” with measures coming “in the very near future.” Until now, Washington has exhibited a certain ambivalence toward the government of the Sandinista leader, who returned to power in 2007 on the basis of an economic program geared to the interests of Nicaraguan and foreign capital.

Amid all of the denunciations and threats, Bolton pointed to a supposed bright spot in the Americas, the election last month in Brazil of the fascistic former army captain Jair Bolsonaro, who has celebrated the country’s former military dictatorship and its regime of torture and threatened that his political opponents would have to choose between jail and exile.

Bolton described Bolsonaro as a “likeminded leader”, whose election was one of the “positive signs for the future of the region” and demonstrated “a growing regional commitment to the free market principles and open, transparent and accountable governance.”

Among Bolsonaro’s attractions for the US administration – aside for the affinity between the fascistic views of Trump and the Brazilian president-elect – is his vow to pursue a policy aligned with that of Washington and against the influence of China in the hemisphere. During the Brazilian election campaign, he denounced Beijing for attempting to “buy Brazil” and even made a provocative trip to Taiwan last February in an affront to the “one China” policy recognized by Brazil since the 1970s.

Behind all the posturing about “human rights” and the refusal to tolerate “despots,” US policy in Latin America is driven ever more openly by its strategic conflict with China, whose influence has steadily grown in a region long regarded by US imperialism as its “own backyard”. Once again, US officials are invoking the Monroe Doctrine and Washington’s supposed “right” to intervene to prevent “outside” powers from poaching on countries it regards as semi-colonies.

The Trump administration in September recalled its ambassadors from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Panama and threatened to cut off aid over the decisions by the governments of these countries to break with Taiwan – which had cemented ties with previous anti-communist dictatorships — and establish relations with Beijing.

Even so, as Bolton was making his speech in Miami, the presidents of both El Salvador and the Dominican Republic were both in Beijing meeting with President Xi and other top officials, while China and Panama announced on the same day that Panama City would host a China-Latin America Caribbean Business Summit next year, focused on promoting economic-commercial cooperation between both regions. To the extent that the influence of China’s trade and investment challenges that of the US, Washington will respond with increasing provocations and militarism.

Notable in Bolton’s speech was his repeated denunciations of “communism” and “socialism,” and his insistence that the economic and social catastrophe in Venezuela—a country where finance capital has only strengthened its grip over the economy over the past 20 years and the government is run largely by the military—is an example of socialism “implemented effectively.”

Underlying this reactionary rhetoric is the fear within the US ruling class that the desperate conditions being created by the crisis of capitalism is producing a new revolutionary challenge from the Latin American working class.

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Harsh US Sanctions to Have Limited Effect on Iran?

November 3rd, 2018 by Stephen Lendman

For nearly 40 years since the Islamic Republic’s 1979 revolution, ending a generation of US-installed fascist tyranny, Iran withstood the effects of multiple rounds of illegal US sanctions.

This time will likely be no different, Iran seeking ways to overcome unacceptable Trump regime harshness against the country – perhaps in the end to have only a modest effect, far short of US aims.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed new US sanctions on its energy energy sector, petroleum related products, as well as central bank and other financial transactions with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, saying:

“The possibility that the US will be able to achieve its economic goals through these sanctions is very remote, and there is certainly no possibility that it will attain its political goals through such sanctions.”

Iran’s Mehr News reported the following:

“Mogherini and three European foreign ministers emphasized their commitments to the JCPOA and efforts to maintain effective financial channels with Iran, as well as the continuation of Iranian oil and gas exports,” adding:

“They also highly regarded the commitment of finance ministers, in addition to the foreign ministers of the three European countries and other members, for the implementation of Special Purpose Vehicle, announcing that the mechanism will be officially in place in the coming days.”

It’ll let Iran bypass the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) financial transactions system to continue financial transactions with EU countries unobstructed.

In a joint statement on Friday, Mogherini, along with German, French, and UK foreign ministers together with other EU officials, announced their intention to continue “engag(ing) in legitimate business with Iran,” expressing support for the JCPOA nuclear deal, adding:

“(W)e have committed to work on…the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas” – together with Russia and China.

On Friday, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the Kremlin will continue working cooperatively with Iran, including with its energy trade, adding:

It’s committed to “preserv(ing)” and “maintain(ing) effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas.”

“We do not recognize the sanctions introduced unilaterally without the United Nations (Security Council). We consider those methods illegal per se.”

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said

“(t)here is no room for any concern. We should wait and see that the US will not be able to carry out any measure against the great and brave Iranian nation.”

“It seems that the US has no more capability to put countries and global economic enterprises under pressure.”

Washington granted eight countries waivers to keep buying Iranian oil. What a US source called temporary could become permanent ahead.

The unnamed countries are believed to include China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and Italy.

On Friday, Trump regime Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said all sanctions lifted under the JCPOA will be reimposed on Monday, November 5 – unilaterally and unlawfully, he failed to explain.

Around 700 Iranians will be blacklisted, sanctions also targeting financial transactions through the EU’s Special Purpose Vehicle to let Tehran bypass SWIFT.

“SWIFT is no different than any other entity,” said Mnuchin, adding: “We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”

Will Trump regime “maximum pressure” on Iran work, given world community opposition to its unilateral and unlawful actions?

For decades, hostile US actions against the Islamic Republic failed. If past is prologue, the same is likely ahead – despite likely all-out Trump regime efforts to impose harshness on the country.

A Final Comment

Former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian believes harsh Trump regime sanctions on the Islamic Republic will fail, saying:

“Iran is the most experienced country in the world (at) handling sanctions. I don’t believe any other country in this region has the experience, capacity or scale to resist against sanctions.”

Nor will US sanctions deter the country’s legitimate development  of defensive weapons, or its regional activities with other nations, Mousavian believes – including its involvement in helping Damascus combat US-supported terrorists.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from Al-Masdar News.

On November 1, Hayat Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) announced that its members had attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) near the village of Abu Qamis in southeastern Idlib. Three SAA soldiers were reportedly killed.

A source in the SAA told SouthFront that clashes had erupted near the village, but declined to provide additional details. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least one Hayat Tahrir al-Sham member was killed.

Later on the same day, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and another al-Qaeda-linked group, Horas al-Din, shelled multiple SAA positions in northern Hama and western Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Turkish and US troops carried out a first joint patrol near the town of Manbij. The patrol was carried out near the Saju Stream, which separates the Turkish-held city of Jarabulus from Manbij, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF consists mostly of Kurdish armed formations like the YPG, which are considered as terrorist groups by Ankara.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar publicly promised that members of the YPG and another Kurdish armed group, the PKK, “will be buried in the trenches it has dug” near Manbij. He also stated that Ankara would continue its military operations against the PKK in northern Iraq, where the group has a wide infrastructure used for attacks in Turkey.

Sporadic clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the YPG/PKK are still ongoing near Kobani in Syria. Reports also appeared that the TAF is now forming a list of Turkish-backed groups, which would participate in a possible military operation against the YPG near the Euphrates River.

In the province of Deir Ezzor, the SAA uncovered a large ammunition depot, which included 450,000 bullets of 7.62×51mm caliber, near the city of al-Mayadin. This ammunition depot had been left behind by ISIS terrorists when they lost the battle for al-Mayadin to the SAA. According to the Syrian state media, this ammunition had been supplied by the US to Syrian militant groups, which then sold it to ISIS. Over the past few years, there have been multiple examples when US-backed “opposition groups” have appeared to be terrorist groups or openly cooperated with ISIS.

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Selected Articles: Trump Sanctions, War Crimes in Syria

November 3rd, 2018 by Global Research News

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Raqqa: A City Laid Waste, the Law Laid Low

By Christopher Black, November 02, 2018

Tens of thousands of strikes and heavy artillery bombardments over a period of a four months, from July to October 2017, the use of white phosphorus, a banned weapon, thousands killed, a city destroyed and for what, no one seems to know, except there exists a ruthless contempt for the norms of civilized behaviour and international law in the governments and armed forces of the “coalition” of gangster states that are committing theses crimes.

New Iran Sanctions Risk Long-term US Isolation

By Patrick Lawrence, November 02, 2018

The next step in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran comes this Sunday, Nov. 4, when the most severe sanctions will be imposed on the Islamic Republic. Crucially, they apply not only to Iran but to anyone who continues to do business with it.

Two Koreas Halt Military Exercises and Close Gunports Once Aimed at Each Other

By Zoom in Korea, November 02, 2018

At 12:01 on November 1, North and South Korea began a halt to land, air, and sea military exercises and began the operation of a designated no-fly zone along the military demarcation line (MDL). The measures are in line with September’s Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain, signed by the two Koreas’ defense ministers on the sidelines of the fifth inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

Cuba Scores 27th Victory at the UN on “Ending the US Blockade”. Overwhelming Vote in Favor, Two Against (U.S. and Israel)

By Nino Pagliccia, November 02, 2018

In an attempt to sway the vote against the resolution, this year the US surprisingly introduced eight aggressive amendments forcing the UN General Assembly to debate them. This was a manipulative tactic to compel a discussion on the issue of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals in Cuba.

History of World War II: Conduct of Hitler’s “Operation Barbarossa” against Russia

By Shane Quinn, November 02, 2018

In Soviet territory, Hitler demanded his men undertake “war of annihilation” procedures. These murderous assaults eventually rebounded onto the Germans, who were dealt little mercy as they themselves had shown. By indiscriminately targeting Soviet soldiers and civilians, the Nazis were already sowing the seeds of their own defeat, though they did not yet know it.

Trump’s Back Door Return to the TPP Free Trade Agreement in 2019/20?

By Dr. Jack Rasmus, November 02, 2018

In the absence of the US, Japan has served as proxy for the US in continuing the TPP negotiations, now concluded this past week. In coming months and the rest of Trump’s first term, watch for the US under Trump to re-enter the TPP. That re-joining will not be as a signatory to the revised, multilateral TPP just concluded by the other countries. Rather, it will be US re-joining it on a country-by-country, bilateral basis.

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Featured image: A destroyed house where 28 members of the Badran family and five neighbors were killed in a US-led coalition airstrike on August 20, 2017, Raqqa, Syria (Amnesty International)

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Governo Bolsonaro: o que esperar?

November 2nd, 2018 by Gustavo Castañon

Não sei. Quando se olha para o futuro e se vê personagens com um passado, com um comportamento minimamente coerente, com crenças estáveis e inteligência mínima, grupos políticos com seus interesses e forças estáveis, há como fazer apostas mais claras sobre o futuro.

No momento, com um presidente que foi estatista a vida toda e vira liberal depois de uma viagem aos EUA, defensor da tortura, assassinato de opositores e ditadura, apresenta um papel higiênico de programa de governo e faz seu discurso de vitória cercado de Magno Malta e Alexandre Frota, o futuro parece um túnel escuro, incerto e sem fim.

Não há muita expectativa de bem a se extrair desse mal. A hora como disse um amigo é de estudar o adversário. As hipóteses de trabalho, e não previsões, que levanto são:

1) Nos encaminhamos num primeiro momento para um governo Pinochet implementado por um Trump que sempre viveu nas tetas do Estado e foi expulso do Exército. As primeiras indicações são de que será o governo de mais baixo nível técnico desde o primeiro ministério de Collor.

2) Bolsonaro foi eleito pela CIA-NSA e protegido e informado pelo Mossad. Tem acordos uterinos de realinhamento geopolítico brasileiro. Provavelmente fará o país entrar na OTAN, permitirá instalações de bases americanas em território nacional (a checar a reação das FFAA a esta humilhação), enterrará a participação brasileira no BRICS e no Mercosul e será aliado incondicional de Israel.

3) A máquina de envenenamento mental das redes continuará a todo vapor no governo Bolsonaro, preparando o terreno e a base de apoio popular para o desmantelamento dos resquícios de Estado de bem-estar social. Se não aprendermos como fazer frente a isso iremos para um estado de insanidade coletiva ainda maior. A tendência é que o Exército, o único que tem alguma capacidade de monitoramento de fake news, bote ordem nesse fenômeno que desestabilizou o país de fora. Agora fake news será monopólio do governo.

4) Não está descartada a entrada do Brasil aliado à Colômbia numa guerra contra a Venezuela. Os EUA encontrariam então seus sicários latino-americanos para legitimar o saque do petróleo Venezuelano. Esse cenário já está sendo discutido pelos EUA, mas encontrará forte rejeição das próprias FFAA. No entanto, um governo Bolsonaro poderia lançar mão desse recurso em caso de rápida degeneração interna, para tentar gerar coesão nacional e implantar medidas de exceção previstas para tempo de guerra. O resultado político, contudo, dificilmente deixaria de ser um desastre.

5) Paulo Guedes é fraco, inábil, muito arrogante, incompetente para a administração pública e moralmente vulnerável. Vai começar achando que tem carta branca para um governo ultraliberal. Mas só vai ter facilidades para destruir a aposentadoria, o serviço público e cortar gastos.

6) A aposentadoria pública será virtualmente extinta por Paulo Guedes sob aplausos dos meios de comunicação. Veremos várias reportagens indicando as maravilhas de se trabalhar até a morte.

7) Na hora de privatizar nossas grandes estatais e estatais de defesa, o ultraliberal deve enfrentar resistência das FFAA. O primeiro foco de conflito será não a privatização, mas a venda da Embraer. Vamos ver como os militares, que querendo ou não são os grandes fiadores de Bolsonaro, reagirão a esse negócio que não está concretizado.

8) Não acredito em desastre econômico nos primeiros dois anos. O Brasil está barato e muitos projetos parados por indefinição política. Os especuladores internacionais aos primeiros sinais de destruição do estado e estabilidade política, se houver, devem entrar comprando e investindo e darão um voo de galinha ao governo em virtude do fluxo de capitais. Isso mitigará o efeito devastador das reformas ultraliberais e destruição do estado nos primeiros anos. Se pegarmos um suspiro das commodities então, essa mitigação pode durar mais tempo.

9) O colapso não deve vir a médio prazo, mas se a agenda for essa ele virá, certamente. Chile, Rússia, Argentina de Menen e Macri, Grécia, Espanha e Cia estão aí para lembrar que não há exceções aos colapsos neoliberais. Nem uma exceção (o leitor está desafiado a citar uma exceção histórica). Pinochet depois de derrubar em mais de 40% o PIB chileno teve que chamar os desenvolvimentistas para simplesmente fazer com que ele voltasse ao nível de antes do golpe. Foi essa segunda parte de seu governo que se convencionou chamar de “milagre chileno”, que não foi nada mais do que a reversão do colapso neoliberal. A economia deverá sofrer profunda desnacionalização, o déficit na balança de pagamentos se tornar crônico, a população empobrecer brutalmente em subempregos sem educação ou saúde públicas. O Estado deverá perder a capacidade de intervir na economia e a recessão se cronificar.

10) Nesse momento, uma ditadura completa pode tentar se implantar como única forma de manter o regime. Mas será difícil para um governo que nasce odiado por metade da sociedade e estará moído pela crise e descrédito, num cenário internacional adverso. É difícil saber o que acontecerá até lá. O certo é que uma revolução não está no horizonte como resposta: antes disso todos os seus possíveis instrumentos estariam aniquilados e bases norte-americanas instaladas em território nacional.

11) Para apoiar a devastação do Estado, com extinção das universidades públicas e do SUS, as máquinas de fake news da NSA se voltarão à degradação da educação e saúde pública e seus servidores. A falta de recursos crônica causada pelo teto de gastos causará o colapso desses serviços enquanto o foco será jogado no salário dos professores universitários e médicos, para alimentar o ressentimento da máquina de eleitores esmagados nos subempregos da iniciativa privada da reforma trabalhista. A estabilidade deve virar pó e motivar demissões em massa para delírio dos fracassados que dizem “a mamata vai acabar” para os eleitores de esquerda. É claro que as verdadeiras mamatas das aposentadorias das FFAA e do Judiciário e seus super-salários, dos quais dependem a estabilidade do regime, não serão tocadas. O que vai acabar mesmo, no entanto, é a saúde pública e a educação superior.

12) Para aplicar a agenda ultraliberal se fará uso ainda largamente do antipetismo e do anticomunismo, que a massa ignara de classe média identifica com os lunáticos pós-modernos e identitários. Se exporá cada vez mais “cirurgias trans” e “performances de dedo no cu” nos hospitais e universidades para facilitar seu desmonte.

13) Bolsonaro deve se valer da pauta fundamentalista para mobilizar a esquerda a defender pautas impopulares como o aborto enquanto destrói o Estado. O PT aceitará de bom grado a pauta identitária enquanto se acomoda confortavelmente a sua nova condição de partido de nicho sem condições de voltar a exercer o poder.

14) Da mesma forma, Bolsonaro deve recorrer a violência policial brutal e ações de impacto contra o tráfico de drogas para angariar apelo popular e mascarar a brutal pauta econômica de perda de direitos. Certamente a redução da maioridade penal e a alteração do estatuto do desarmamento virão como propostas de plebiscitos para mergulhar a esquerda na pauta comportamental a opondo à sociedade e gerando a cortina de fumaça para a destruição do Estado. Mascaramento dos índices de segurança, como recusas em registrar ocorrências, podem provocar uma falsa sensação de melhoria na segurança. Não acredito, no entanto, que o empilhamento sucessivo de corpos vá lhe render mais popularidade do que rejeição a médio prazo. O povo brasileiro, no entanto, já deu muitas provas de enlouquecimento. Vamos conferir.

15) Movimentos como o MST e o MTST serão criminalizados como dois mais dois são quatro. Aqueles que sonham com Boulos meio por cento como novo líder popular da Praça São Salvador e Largo do Batata ainda não entenderam o tamanho da rejeição popular que a internet provocou a estes movimentos. Ele corre muito perigo nestes anos.

16) Não restam dúvidas de que a homofobia aumentará, agressões a mulheres, crimes políticos, cerceamento a atividade docente e arbitrariedades policiais de toda ordem. Na verdade, isso já começou antes mesmo dos resultados eleitorais.

17) O petismo deverá ser mantido na UTI, pois o que mais interessa ao governo é mantê-lo como a liderança da oposição, a imagem do que seria a alternativa a ele. Continuará a ser fustigado com denúncias de corrupção e “imoralidades” e tendo alguns de seus dirigentes presos, mas sem cassar seu registro ou torná-lo excessivamente fraco.

18) Será fácil para Bolsonaro, se quiser, sequestrar a base de grotões que sobrou ao PT (que perdeu a classe média, mesmo sua ala esquerda, e as cidades) turbinando e constitucionalizando seus programas assistencialistas. Como populista, não terá dificuldade de fazê-lo, como vimos com a proposta do 13o. Depois de quatro anos preso e perdidos os grotões, o poder político de Lula se esvairá. Sua possível morte no período dará outro folego ao lulismo, limitado ao Nordeste.

19) Se acumularem poder, Bolsonaro e Mourão tentarão reformar o Alto Comando das FFAA dobrando o número de generais e o STF ampliando o número de ministros. Isso no momento não é, no entanto, ainda possível. Mas o grupo de Villas-Boas deve perder espaço, a não ser, no entanto, que Bolsonaro seja inteligente e queira deter o poder de Mourão. A conferir.

20) A grande imprensa está apavorada e tentará aderir. O enfrentamento de Bonner a Bolsonaro ontem quando ele atacou a Folha de São Paulo indica que os grupos de comunicação estão articulados para se proteger num primeiro momento. Depois de entregue as reformas e definido o que será de fato privatizado, a tendência é partirem para desgastar o governo. Se sentirem sangue na água, começa ainda antes.

21) A lava-jato deverá seguir como política de governo de terrorismo e silenciamento da oposição e cooptação da base aliada, ou seja, a guerra à política continua. O convite a Moro já deu a senha. Será o reino do terror judiciário. O STF tentará cercear Bolsonaro com a ação de impugnação das eleições movida pelo PDT, mas agora eles lidarão com pessoas que não hesitam em exercer o poder, mesmo porque tem as FFAA por trás.

22) A continuação do reino de chantagem e terror vai gerar ressentimento com o Centrão e base aliada. Se seguir na promessa de um governo de técnicos sem indicação política vai se inviabilizar no congresso. Se começar a distribuir cargo e governar com o Centrão vai desmoralizar seu discurso de renovação. Aposto fortemente na segunda opção como os movimentos recentes na composição do governo já estão indicando.

23) As raposas sobreviventes de Brasília não vão engolir Bolsonaro. Todos o desprezam publica ou secretamente. O Congresso só está esperando a primeira curva da estrada. Como Bolsonaro vai reagir depende de seu apelo popular.

24) A incógnita é como as FFAA reagirão ao desmonte da nação e de nossa soberania. O provável é que repitam o Chile e 64 e assistam à devastação neoliberal ocorrer antes para pressionar por mudanças depois. Querendo eles ou não, todo fracasso do governo Bolsonaro vai cair na conta deles. Elas são minha única esperança de defesa do interesse nacional, racionalidade administrativa e moderação política no próximo governo.

25) Esperança? Sempre há esperança. E esperança no caso de Bolsonaro é somente a de ele um dia ir embora do poder. O governo é de baixíssimo nível, inédito na história do Brasil. A verdadeira elite, de fato, ainda não está representada nele. A imprensa está assustada e só esperará sentir sangue na água. Bolsonaro perderá a aura antissistema se mostrando como é: um deputado do baixo clero que governará com o centrão corrupto. E corrupto quer mamar. Todas as expectativas mitológicas de seus seguidores se esvairão com o desemprego, fim da aposentadoria, destruição da saúde e governo convencional. Este começa com a rejeição mais alta e sólida da história da democracia. A brutal recessão causada pelas políticas de Temer que agora se radicalizam, em algum momento se aprofundará. O colapso da educação e saúde não poderá ser colocada por muito mais tempo na conta do PT e menos ainda da esquerda. Arroubos autoritários podem ajudar a reconstituir um centro democrático. A centro-esquerda pode se organizar sem o PT. Mas minha principal esperança agora é o patriotismo genuíno das FFAA. Elas não vão querer ser vistas como as coveiras do Estado e da soberania nacional. Só elas terão poder suficiente para deter a destruição que está pela frente.

26) Já a centro-esquerda, se não guinar para o centro, abandonar a pauta identitária, centrar fogo na economia e principalmente aprender a usar a rede e a ela se dedicar, oferecendo uma nova narrativa global para a população, vai amargar mais uma derrota acachapante em 2022.

O governo Bolsonaro dará muito errado, é a única coisa que é certa. A questão agora é só quando, e como.

Quando ele acabar, seremos uma colônia agrícola extratora miserável, mais desigual e violenta do que nunca, com uma população de escravos.

Enfim, o momento requer estudo do que de fato será o adversário e reorganização de quem vai querer exercer a oposição.

Collor, Jânio, não duraram três anos. Há muito em comum: falso moralismo, ajuste liberal, recessão à vista, privatizações.

Mas só Deus sabe no que vai dar isso.

E ele parece estar muito zangado com esse país.

Gustavo Castañon

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Losing Users: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Problems

November 2nd, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

His detractors and enemies have been waiting some time for this, but it must have given them moments of mild cheer.  Facebook, the all-gazing, accumulating system of personal profiles and information, poster child, in fact, of surveillance capitalism, is losing users. At the very least, it is falling to that mild phenomenon in business speak called “flat-lining”, a deceptively benign term suggesting that the fizz is going out of the product. 

This week, Mark Zuckerberg has been more humble than usual.  The latest figures show that 1.49 billion users hop on the platform daily; monthly active users come in at 2.27 billion.  While both figures are increases from previous metrics, these fall shy of those bubbly estimates Facebook loves forecasting: 1.51 billion in the former; 2.29 billion in the latter. 

“We’re well behind YouTube”, he observed; in “developed countries”, Zuckerberg conceded that his company was probably reaching saturation. 

While security features of Facebook had improved, there was at least another twelve months before the standard was, in his view, up to scratch.

The user market in North America is flat, while in Europe, FB has experienced a loss of 3 million daily active users.  The process was already underway after 2015.  The moment your grandparents start using a communications product with teenage enthusiasm, it’s time for a swift, contrarian change. But social media, as with other forms of communication, is a matter of demographics and class.   

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat have been beating down doors and making off with users.  A May study from the Pew Research Centre found that half of US teens between the ages of 13 and 17 claim to use Facebook.  But YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are bullishly ahead with usage figures of 85, 72 and 69 percent respectively. To locus of this move is as much in the type of technology being used as behavioural change, with 95 percent of teens claiming to have access to a smartphone. A mind slushing statistic stands out: of those, 45 percent are online constantly in numb inducing ecstasy.   

The company, in an effort to plug various deficiencies in the operating systems, has been busy hiring content moderators, a point that has not gone unnoticed by users.  This, in of itself, is a flawed exercise, and one imposed upon the company in an effort of moralised policing.  Various legislatures and parliaments have gotten itchy in passing legislation obligating Facebook and similar content sharers to remove hate speech, extremist subject matter and state-sponsored propaganda.  (Where, pray, is that line ever drawn?).  

This raises a jurisdictional tangle suggesting that local parliaments and courts are getting ahead of themselves in gnawing away at the extra-territorial nature of tech giants.  This year, a German law was passed requiring social media companies to remove illegal, racist or slanderous content within 24 hours after being flagged by users or face fines to the tune of $57 million.  Such legislation, while localised in terms of jurisdiction, has international consequences.  Content otherwise permitted by the US First Amendment will have to be removed for offending regulations in another country.   

This is a far from academic speculation.  Canada’s Supreme Court in June last year ruled that Google had to remove search results pertaining to certain pirated products.  The natural consequence of this was a universal one. 

“The internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global,” claimed the trite observation from the majority.  “The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”   

This precipitated a legal spat that proceeded to involve a Californian decision handed down by Judge Edward J. Davila, who turned his nose up at the Canadian judiciary’s grant of the interlocutory injunction.  To expect companies such as Google to remove links to third-party material menaced “free speech on the global internet.”  The emergence of a “splinternet” – one where online content is permissible in one country and not another – has been given a dramatic shove.  Police, in other words, or be damned. 

By the end of September, an army of some 33,000 labouring souls were retained by Facebook for the onerous task of sifting, assessing and removing errant content.  But this whole task has come with its own pitfalls, a preoccupation of danger and emotional disturbance.  Those recruited have become content warriors with a need for a strong constitution, a point that has presented Zuckerberg with yet another problem.   

Former moderator Selena Scola, who worked at Facebook from June 2017 till March this year, has gone so far as to sue the company for post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing content depicting graphic violence “from her cubicle in Facebook’s Silicon Valley offices”.  Scola, through her legal counsel, claims that the company did not create a safe environment, instead working upon the practice of having a “revolving door of contractors”.  Moderators, according to the legal suit, are “bombarded” with “thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder.”  

Facebook ushered in a remarkable form of dysfunction between users, and the actual platform of communication.  This is very much in the spirit of a concept that lends itself to a hollowed variant of friendship, one based on appropriation, marketing and a somewhat voyeuristic format.  If you can’t make friends in the flesh, as Zuckerberg struggled to do, create facsimiles of friendship, their ersatz equivalents.  And most of all, place the incentive of generating revenue and profiles upon them.  Facebook is not merely there for those who use it but for those who feel free to be used.  This point is all too readily missed by the political classes.

Facebook makes everyone a practitioner, and creator, of surveillance, and anybody with a rudimentary understanding of totalitarian societies would know what that does to trust.  Split personalities and hived forms of conduct manifest themselves.  Unhealthily, then, the number of users globally is still increasing, even if it is dropping in specific parts of the world.  Much like the Catholic Church, reliance is placed upon the developing world to supply new pools of converts. 

Zuckerberg’s company faces investigations from the European Union, the FBI, the FTC, the SEC and the US Department of Justice.  Such moves are not necessarily initiated out of altruism; there is the prevailing fear that such a platform is all too readily susceptible to manipulation (the horror, it seems, of misinformation, as if this was ever a new issue).  Fake ads can still be readily purchased; campaigns economic with the facts can still be run and organised on its pages.  But to attribute blame to Facebook for a tendency as ancient as politics is another distortion.  Not even Zuckerberg can be blamed for that. 

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

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Is the US-China Trade War for Real?

November 2nd, 2018 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

This incisive article was first published in May 2018 at the outset of the trade war

If Trump’s trade policy toward US allies is ‘phony’, by seeking only token adjustments to trade relations, then the US trade offensive targeting China is for real.

While Trump has repeatedly exempted US allies from tariffs (steel and aluminum), pitched ‘softball’ deals (South Korea), and tweeted repeatedly how well negotiations are going with NAFTA, in stark contrast the actions and words of the US toward China and trade negotiations in progress have been ‘hardball’.

Contrary to media hype, the Trump trade offensive targeting China is not a product of just the past few months.  It did not arise in early March with an impulsive tweet by Trump or with his attention-getting declaration to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum producers worldwide.[1]  The US trade offensive targeting China was set in motion at least a year ago, in spring 2017. It surfaced last August 2017.

The US Plan to Target China

In August 2017 Trump formally gave the US Office of Trade (OUST) the task of identifying how China was transferring US technology, “undermining US companies’ control over their technology in China”, as well as seeking to do so by acquiring US companies in the US.[2]   On August 18, 2017, the OUST laid out in writing four charges in a formal investigation it was undertaking, accusing China of actions designed to “obtain cutting edge in IP (intellectual property) and generate technology transfer”. All four charges were intensely technology transfer related.

That August 2017 scope of investigation document and objectives was then reproduced verbatim on March 22, 2018, with expected recommendations, in the 58 page OUST report of March 22, 2018—not Trump tweets or the steel-aluminum tariffs—publicly launched Trump’s trade offensive against China. [3]  The main theme of the report was that China was ‘guilty’ of aggressively seeking technology transfer at the expense of US corporations, both in China and the US.

Based on the OUST report of March 22, 2018, Trump announced plans to impose $50 billion in tariffs on 1300 China general imports, ranging from chemicals to jet parts, industrial equipment, machinery, communication satellites, aircraft parts, medical equipment, trucks, and even helicopters, nuclear equipment, rifles, guns and artillery..  Trump may have appeared in March 2018 to have shifted gears in his trade policy—from a general, worldwide steel-aluminum tariffs focus to a focus targeting China trade— but China has been the planned primary target for at least the past year. Trump just set it in motion publicly on March 23, 2018. A confrontation with China over trade had been planned from the outset.[4]

Trajectory of US-China Trade Negotiations

But an announced plan to impose tariffs at some point in the future is not the same as the implementation of those tariffs.  Despite Trump’s March announcement, and declaration of $50 billion in tariffs on China goods imports, a delay of at least 60 days must take place before any further definition or actual implementation of the $50 billion by the US might occur—thus giving ample time for unofficial pre-negotiations to occur between the countries’ trade missions. Technically, the US could even wait for another six months before actually implementing any tariffs. To date there has been only talk and threat of tariffs—on China or on US allies. With China, Trump has merely ‘notched an arrow’ from his trade quiver. The bow hasn’t even been drawn, let alone the arrow let fly.

Following Trump’s threat of $50 billion in tariffs, China immediately sent its main trade negotiator, Liu, to Washington and assumed a cautious, almost conciliatory approach. China responded initially with a modest $3 billion in tariffs on US exports. It also made it clear the $3 billion was in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs, and not Trump’s $50 billion.  More action could follow, as it forewarned it was considering additional tariffs of 15% to 25% on US products, especially agricultural, in response to Trump’s $50 billion announcement.  China was waiting to see the details. At the same time it signaled it was willing to open China brokerages and insurance companies to western-US 51% ownership (and 100% within three years), and that it would buy more semiconductor chips from the US instead of Korea or Taiwan. It was all a token public response. China was keeping its arrows in its quiver.

Following Trump’s mid-March tariff tantrum, behind the scenes China and US trade representatives continued to negotiate. By the end of March all that had still only occurred was Trump’s announcement of $50 billion of tariffs, without further details, and China’s $3 billion token response to prior US steel-aluminum tariffs. From there, however, events began to deteriorate.

On April 3, 2018, Trump defined the $50 billion of tariffs—25% on a wide range of 1300 of China’s consumer and industrial imports to the US. The arrow was being drawn. The list of tariffed items was the verbatim USTR Report’s ‘list’. Influential business groups in the US, like the Business Roundtable, US Chamber of Commerce, and National Association of Manufacturers immediately criticized the move, calling for the US instead to work with its allies to pressure China to reform—not to use tariffs as the trade reform weapon.

China now responded more aggressively as well, promising an equal tariff response, declaring it was not afraid of a trade war with the US. That was a welcoming invitation for a Trump tweet which followed, as Trump declared he believed the US could not “lose a trade war” with China and maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to have one.  Trump tweeted further that maybe another $100 billion in US tariffs might get China’s attention.

China now notched its own arrow, noting it would raise 15%-25% tariffs on the US and responded to Trump’s $50 billion, identifying their own $50 billion tariffs on 128 US exports targeting US agricultural products and especially US soybeans, but also cars, oil and chemicals, aircraft and industrial productions—the production of which is also heavily concentrated in the Midwest US and thus Trump’s domestic political base.[5]

This particular targeting clearly aggravated Trump, disrupting his plans to mobilize that base for domestic political purposes before the November elections. He angrily tweeted perhaps another $100 billion in China tariffs were called for. In response, China declared it was prepared to announce another $100 billion in tariffs as well, if Trump followed through with his threat of imposing $100 billion more tariffs.

Trump advisors, Larry Kudlow and Mnuchin, tried to clean up Trump’s remarks. Kudlow assured the stock markets, which plummeted with the developments, saying

“These are just first proposals…I doubt that there will be any concrete actions for several months”.[6]

In reply to Trump’s threat of another $100 billion, China Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, declared it would not hesitate to put in place ‘detailed countermeasures’ that didn’t ‘exclude any options’. And China Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, added in an official news briefing,

“The United States with one hand wields the threat of sanctions, and at the same time says they are willing to talk. I’m not sure who the United States is putting on this act for”…Under the current circumstances, both sides even more cannot have talks on these issues”. [7]

But all this was still a war of words, not yet a bona fide trade war.  To use the metaphor once more: arrows were taken from quivers and bows about to be drawn, but no one was yet prepared to let anything fly.

Through the remainder of April negotiations by second tier trade representatives continued in the background. Meanwhile US capitalists in the Business Roundtable and other prime US corporate organizations added their input to the public commentary process on the Trump tariffs that will continue formally until May 22 at least. Most warned a trade war with China would be economically devastating for their business.

In the first week of May, the Trump trade team of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, Trump trade advisor, Peter Navarro and White House director of Trump’s economic council, Larry Kudlow, headed off to Beijing for negotiations. The composition of the US trade team is notable. It reveals deep splits within the US elite, some reflecting Trump interests and others reflecting more traditional elite interests in finance and the Pentagon-War industries. While interests clearly overlapped, the splits reflect differing priorities in the China trade negotiations.

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in China for the trade talk (Source: Gulf News)

Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin—the US financial sector and US multinational companies doing business in China; China ‘hardliners’, Robert Lighthizer, the current US trade representative, and Peter Navarro, Trump trade advisor—the interests of the Pentagon and US defense sector; and Larry Kudlow, head of Trump’s Economic Council—likely most concerned with the domestic political impact of the negotiations for Trump.

One of the first reports when the two trade teams first met in Beijing last week was from Mnuchin, who reported the negotiations were going extremely well. Mnuchin of course knew that before he left for Beijing. China had already indicated it was going to approve 51% US corporate ownership of China companies in March; and it further signaled it would approve 100% ownership within three more years. US bankers have always wanted a deeper penetration of China and now they’ll have it. They didn’t even have to give up anything to get it. That doesn’t sound like a ‘trade war’, at least not yet. China was cleverly driving a wedge between the bankers-multinational corporations wanting more access to its markets and the Pentagon-War industries faction of the US trade team that want a stop to technology transfer.

But if one were to believe the US press, the US negotiating team came back from Beijing this past weekend empty-handed and a trade war was imminent. If that were true, there would be no reason for China’s chief negotiator, Liu, coming to Washington for further talks later this week, which was quietly announced after the US trade team returned. US-China trade negotiations are thus continuing, notwithstanding Trump tweets and schizophrenic bombast: One day after the US team’s return demanding China reduce its $337 billion deficit by $200 billion by 2020; another day calling China president, Xi Jinping, his ‘good friend’ and expressing optimism about an eventual trade deal.

US-China trade negotiations will almost certainly take months to conclude, if ever, certainly extending well beyond the November 2018 US midterm elections.  This delay will put pressure on Trump to quickly come to some kind of token agreements with NAFTA and other trade partner negotiations also underway. A NAFTA deal is likely within weeks. And it will look more like the South Korea ‘softball’ trade deal negotiated by Trump a few months ago than not.

Early agreements before the end of this summer are necessary for Trump to tout his ‘economic nationalism’ strategy and declare it is succeeding before the November elections. One can also expect more ‘off the wall’ tweets by Trump designed to ‘sound tough’ on China trade and negotiations in progress for the same domestic US political purposes. But they will be more Trump hyperbole and bombast, designed for his domestic political base while his negotiators try to work out the China-US trade changes. Yet it’s unlikely Trump wants a China trade deal before the US November elections. There’s more political traction for him to publicly bash China on trade up to the elections.

What the US Wants from China Trade?

What Trump wants from US allies trade partners are token adjustments to current trade relations that he can then exaggerate and misrepresent to his domestic political base as evidence that his ‘economic nationalism’ theme raised during the 2016 US elections is still being pursued. The US traditional elite will allow him to do that, but won’t permit him to disrupt major US-partner trade relations in general. That’s why NAFTA, and later trade negotiations with Europe, will look more like South Korea’s ‘softball’ deal when concluded.

China, on the other hand, is another question. The issues are more strategic. US elites—both the traditional and the Trump wing—want more from China than they want from other US trade partners. With China, it’s not just a question of ‘token’ changes that Trump might then hype and exaggerate for domestic political purposes.

Currently, the US is pursuing a ‘dual track’ trade offensive: seeking token concessions from allies that won’t upset the basic character of past trade relations but will allow Trump to exaggerate and misrepresent the changes for his domestic political purposes, proving to his base that he’s continuing to pursue his promised ‘economic nationalism’. The key to the first track is ‘token’ adjustments to trade. But, in the second track, what the US elite want from China is a fundamental change in US-China trade relations and those changes aren’t limited to token reductions in the US deficit in goods trade with China.

US-Trump trade objectives in its negotiations with China are threefold: first, to gain access for US multinational companies into China markets, especially for US banks and shadow banks (investment banks, hedge funds, equity firms, etc.), but also for US auto companies, energy companies, and tech companies. Expanding US foreign direct investment into other economies is always a main objective of US trade negotiations everywhere. Despite all the talk about goods trade deficits, for the US trade deals are always more about ensuring US ‘money capital flows’ from the US into other economies, than they are about ‘goods flows’ coming from other countries to the US. Access to markets means first and foremost access for US finance capital.

The US second objective is to obtain some visible concessions from China that reduce that country’s goods exports to the US, without China in turn reducing US agricultural and energy related exports to China.[8]

But the main and most strategic objective of the US is to thwart China’s current rate of technology transfer from US companies in China and from China companies acquiring US companies in the US.

The key technology transfer categories are Artificial Intelligence software and hardware, next generation 5G wireless, and nextgen cyber-security software. The US obfuscates the categories by calling it ‘intellectual property’. But it is the latest technology in these three areas that will spawn not only new industries, and whoever (US or China) is ‘first to market’ will dominate the industries and products for decades to come, but the technologies further represent the key to future military dominance as well as economic.

The US is concerned that China may leapfrog into comparable military capability.  Already virtually all the new patents being filed in these tech areas are by China and the US. The rest of the world is left far behind. China’s 2017 long term strategy document, ‘China 2025’, clearly lays out its planning for achieving dominance in these technologies over the coming decade. It has succeeded in getting the attention of the US elite, both economic and military.

Image result for china 2025

The US defense sector—i.e. Lighthizer and Navarro—want to stop, or at least dramatically slow, China’s acquisitions of technology related US companies. While tariffs are on paper only so far, the US has been clearly targeting China companies hunting for US acquisitions. Stopping deals with ZTE and Qualcomm corporate acquisitions recently are but the first of more such US actions to come. The US financial-multinational corporation sector want more access to China markets and thus more authority to acquire China companies, whereas the US War Industries-Defense sector wants more limits on China company acquisitions of US corporations.

Trump may want both of these, but even more so he wants some kind of ‘win’ trade deal he can boast to his base about. China will offer a deal conceding on the last two objectives, while holding out on the tech transfer issue.

The contradiction the US faces in negotiations is thus internal. It is that the representatives of the US elite cannot agree on what are the priority changes they want from China. There are at least three US diverging elite interests on the US side, reflecting at least three major objectives sought by the US. That allows China to ‘play off’ one sector of the US elite against the other, giving it a long term advantage in negotiations with the US on trade.

Should the US elite settle for short term concessions from China—allowing for more US financial firms access to China, more US company ownership of Chinese companies, and/or moderate short term gains in China goods exports—but fail to slow China’s technology strategy, then it will represent another ‘defeat’ for the US in relation to China’s growing challenge to US global economic-military dominance.  It will represent another success for China, similar in strategic importance to its recent ‘One Belt-One Road’ initiative, its launching of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the adoption of its currency by the IMF for world exchange, and its current development of an Asian common market filling the gap by the US failure to establish its free trade Transpacific Partnership treaty.  Technology parity by China with the US may in fact have a greater impact on US dominance than all the above in the long run.

But there’s more to US-China trade than deficits, market access and even technology transfer. There are Trump’s domestic political objectives behind the China-US trade dispute as well.  Trump’s political priority has two dimensions: one is to maximize the turnout of the Republican base in the upcoming midterm November 2018 elections. Trump cannot afford to lose either the House or the Senate, or his agenda on immigration, walls, and deportations is finished. Trump also needs to agitate and mobilize his domestic base as a counterweight to traditional US elite resistance when he fires Mueller, the special counsel investigating his pre- and post-election relationships with Russian business Oligarchs.

Thus multiple objectives are contending among and between the different factions behind the US-China trade negotiations: technology transfer for the military hardliners, market access for the bankers and multinational corporations, and Trump getting relatively quick concessions he can sell to his ‘America First’ economic nationalist domestic political base before November. Which is the priority and which secondary.  Market access has already been conceded by China, so the alternatives are a trade war over technology transfer or some token adjustments to goods imports to the US that Trump can ‘sell’ to his base. If the latter, China-US trade negotiations outcomes will look more like South Korea and NAFTA. If the US insists on technology transfer, then arrows will be drawn and let fly.

Only then will it become clear that the current US-China trade negotiations are the opening phase in a real trade war, or just another case example of Trump hyperbole for purposes of pandering to his domestic political base.

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Jack Rasmus is author of the book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. Dr. Rasmus is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Financial Press Cheers Election of Fascist in Brazil

November 2nd, 2018 by Alan MacLeod

Brazil’s controversial elections pitted far-right Jair Bolsonaro against the center-left Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad. But it was clear which candidate international markets—and therefore the financial press—wanted.

Bolsonaro was elected with 55.5 percent of the vote in an election that saw former leftist President Lula da Silva, by far the most popular candidate, jailed and barred from running on highly questionable charges. Bolsonaro was an army officer during Brazil’s fascist military dictatorship (1964–85), which he defends, maintaining that its only error was not killing enough people.

An incendiary character with a long history of racist and sexist outbursts, he told a female federal deputy that she was not worthy of being raped by him, said that he would be unable to love a gay son and that his children would never have a black partner, as they had been very well-educated. During the 2016 impeachment of Workers’ Party President Dilma Rouseff, who was tortured by the dictatorship, he dedicated his impeachment vote to the colonel who tortured her.

The new president-elect has promised to unleash a wave of violence on the working class, minorities and the left. He told his supporters to shoot every Workers’ Party supporter in Acre state in September. At a presidential rally, he proclaimed (Guardian, 10/22/18):

These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history…. Either they go overseas, or they go to jail.

Economically, he proposes a course of shock therapy, appointing a University of Chicago-trained economist, Paulo Guedes, to oversee a fire sale of state assets and an opening up of the country’s vast natural resources for foreign exploitation.

Watching Brazil—the world’s ninth largest economy—carefully, the financial press has expressed its delight over Bolsonaro’s rise and victory. Forbes (10/3/18) happily reported on a rising “Bolsonaro fever,” noting the Brazilian currency, the real, was strengthening on news of his increasing support and dwindling Workers’ Party enthusiasm. The Financial Times (10/8/18) and CNBC (10/2/18) both reported that the markets were “cheering” his lead in the presidential race, with a follow-up Financial Times piece (10/18/18) noting weapons companies’ surging stocks upon Bolsonaro’s emergence as the frontrunner, a trend mirrored by stocks more generally as his performance “heartened investors.”

The New York Times (10/26/18) reported markets were surging on “hope of a Bolsonaro victory,” claiming his appeal lies in his willingness to enact unpopular privatizations and gut Brazilian pensions. Bloomberg (10/30/18) breathlessly reported that he would be “extraordinarily pro-business.” The CBC (10/26/18) explored the new world of possibilities for profits for Canadian corporations in agriculture, extractive sectors and finance, as Bolsonaro promises to slash environmental regulations and virtually all market restrictions. “It could be a good time to be a mining investor in Brazil,” it reported. It did note in an offhand manner that, as an externality, critics say it could lead to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

But the Wall Street Journal (10/29/18) went the furthest in its praise for the new president. Its editorial board came out to endorse him as a “credible” “reformer,” describing him as an “antidote” to the greed of the Workers’ Party. It also made the claim that the election was “transparent, competitive and fair,” a remarkable claim, considering Bolsonaro is widely accused of illegally employing foreign companies to create a massive fake news industry via WhatsApp (Guardian, 10/18/18), and that the real frontrunner for the election, Lula da Silva, is in jail on spurious grounds and barred from running, even from his cell.

Studying the financial press’ coverage of Brazil reveals a great deal about its priorities and ideology. Faced with the choice of center-left reformers who may tax business slightly more, and outright fascist candidates, the financial press once again made its decision clear, proving that democracy and the health of the stock market often do not mix.

The media appear uninterested in the human cost of Bolsonaro’s near-genocidal statements, nor the cost to the population if pensions are gutted and state assets are sold off, nor the cost to the Amazon, a crucial carbon reserve that must be maintained and strengthened if humanity has any chance of mitigating the catastrophe of climate change. These are mere externalities. When it comes to opportunities for profits, all else is forgotten. After all, fascism is big business.

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Alan MacLeod @AlanRMacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting, was published by Routledge in April.

Featured image is from FAIR.

Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he intends to defy the Palestinians and most of the world by moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Brazil would become the second major country after the United States to do so.

“As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” the post stated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Bolsonaro’s comments on Thursday, saying the Brazilian leader’s intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem was “a historic, correct and exciting step!”

In an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper published earlier in the day, Bolsonaro said Israel should decide where its capital is located.

“When I was asked during the campaign if I’d do it when I became president, I said, ‘Yes, the one who decides on the capital of Israel is you, not other nations’,” he told the newspaper, which firmly supports Netanyahu.

Jerusalem’s status has long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian Authority wants occupied East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state, but Israel wants the whole city as its capital.

The issue has been considered one that would be decided by Israelis and Palestinians in a final status agreement, but the US’s decision to recognise the city as Israel’s capital last December broke with that tradition.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

The embassy was officially transferred on 14 May, amid major protests in Gaza that Israel met with violent force, killing 61 Palestinians. Guatemala and Paraguay followed the US move soon after, though the latter announced last month it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.

Welcomed by Israel 

Far-right politician Bolsonaro, 63, who won a run-off election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.

Following his election, the former army captain was congratulated by Netanyahu, who invited him to Israel.

“I am confident that your election will lead to a great friendship between the two peoples and to the strengthening of ties between Brazil and Israel,” Netanyahu told Bolsonaro, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

“We await your visit to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

An official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP the Israeli premier was “very likely” to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in January.

The first Israeli official to congratulate Bolsonaro was Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“Warm greetings to my friend Jair Bolsonaro for his election to the presidency of Brazil,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“Bolsonaro is a true friend of the State of Israel and during his visit to the Knesset two years ago, he told me a lot about his activities for us in Brazil. We look forward to your visit to Israel and wish you all the best.”

Israel’s economy minister, Eli Cohen, also welcomed the result, adding that he expected greater economic cooperation between the two countries.

In a statement in support of Bolsorano, Cohen said the president-elect would “usher in a new era of political and economic tries with the the largest country in South America”.

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Featured image is from The Yeshiva World.

Raqqa: A City Laid Waste, the Law Laid Low

November 2nd, 2018 by Christopher Black

We must demonstrate that those who have committed the most serious crimes of international concern can have no place to hide. There must be no impunity for the horrendous acts taking place on a daily basis in Syria. There must be justice for the victims. It may take a long time. Sadly, I fear it will take a long time but there must be justice.”

So said the UK Permanent Representative to the UN General Assembly at the debate on the role of the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, on April 18, 2018, citing the very long title for a very dubious organ of the United Nations that gets its funding primarily from NATO countries and their allies.

In her speech to the General Assembly the UK representative set out the real objective of this organ, to build propaganda against the Syrian government for crimes alleged by the US and its allies. The only Syrians referred to in her speech are what the western aggressors like to term the Syrian “civil society” and all their disparate NGO’s that are funded in one way or another by the very governments attacking Syria.

The mandate of this new UN organ, founded by a UN General Assembly resolution on December 21, 2016, which organ they term “the Mechanism” is stated on its website to be to assist in the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes in Syria since 2011, to collect and share evidence, prepare files for prosecution in national or international tribunals and to bring about justice for the victims of war crimes.

Yet nowhere on its website will you find any mention of the crimes committed by the very powers that organized the creation and funding of this Mechanism nor the crimes of the various forces attacking the Syrian government and civilians whether mercenaries or ISIS or their supporters. You will find nothing on American war crimes. You will find nothing on the laying waste of an entire country to achieve western imperial and colonial ambitions, nothing on what they have done to the city of Raqqa.

It appears from reading the resolutions and speeches of the founders of the mechanism that it was a reaction to their failed attempts to use the Security Council to refer alleged war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Syria is not a party to the Rome Treaty and so crimes committed there by whatever party are outside its jurisdiction. Some claim that the statute of the ICC allows the court to take on jurisdiction by means of a reference sent to it by the Security Council. In my opinion the Statute cannot be interpreted that way. The Security Council can only refer cases to the ICC over which it already has jurisdiction. But in any case Russia blocked resolutions by the US, UK and others to refer matters to the ICC because they contained references only to alleged Syrian government crimes and not the crimes of the referring parties. Russia recognized the game being played and would have none of it. Since the ICC gambit failed the governments hostile to Syria have created another gambit, the Mechanism, to achieve the same purpose.

I was asked in a recent interview whether the US and its allies will ever face justice for their crimes. My reply, based on my experience with the ad hoc UN tribunals the ICTY and ICTR and the ICC itself, was that they will never because those organs provide those countries with complete immunity from prosecution and further, provide a cover and encouragement for their crimes. The prosecutors of the ad hoc tribunals and their “outreach” programmes, funded by George Soros, bragged that there was no impunity for war criminals, yet that is exactly what they gave to the main war criminals in those wars. They gave impunity to NATO for its crimes with respect to its attack on Yugoslavia and with regard to Rwanda, gave impunity to the present dictatorship in Rwanda and its US, Canadian, British, Belgian and Ugandan allies. The ICC does the same, targeting only Africans standing in the way of western economic and strategic interests. The rest of Africa’s criminals, the worst being Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, are protected from prosecution as are all the criminals leading the NATO and allied countries and their military forces. The Mechanism carries on this protection racket of the wests war criminals by in essence acting as a propaganda tool to provide them with further pretexts for war.

For if they were serious about making everyone accountable for war crimes in Syria surely they would be demanding that the United States of America, Britain and France be held accountable for the wanton destruction of a city; Raqqa.

There have been many articles and news items on the devastation wreaked on Raqqa and its people in 2017 and since. I’m not going to go over the long list of dead civilians, destroyed buildings, the destruction of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Arabic culture, for such an inferno can only be described by those who lived through it. But what is clear is that almost the entire city was leveled primarily by American forces in what even Amnesty International calls, in the title of its report on the destruction of Raqqa:

WAR OF ANNIHILATION.’

The Report, subtitled “Devastating Toll on Civilians,” and available on their website, goes on to state,

The four-month military operation carried out by the US-led Coalition to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) from the Syrian city of Raqqa, killed hundreds of civilians, injured many more and destroyed much of the city…. Eight months on, the Coalition remains in denial about the human tragedy resulting from its military campaign and the victims have received neither justice nor reparation. Amnesty International is urging Coalition members to promptly and impartially investigate allegations of international law violations and civilian casualties. They must provide reparation to the victims and adequate assistance for the desperately needed demining and reconstruction work.

“In all the cases detailed in this report, Coalition forces launched air strikes on buildings full of civilians using wide-area effect munitions, which could be expected to destroy the buildings. In all four cases, the civilians killed and injured in the attacks, including many women and children, had been staying in the buildings for long periods prior to the strikes. Had Coalition forces conducted rigorous surveillance prior to the strikes, they would have been aware of their presence. Amnesty International found no information indicating that IS fighters were present in the buildings when they were hit and survivors and witnesses to these strikes were not aware of IS fighters in the vicinity of the houses at the time of the strikes. Even had IS fighters been present, it would not have justified the targeting of these civilian dwellings with munitions expected to cause such extensive destruction.”

But it was not just air strikes that levelled the city to rubble and killed the people in it. AI states that the US Marines from the 11th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units equipped with long range heavy artillery used M777 Mortars to “rain down 155mm artillery fire upon the city. The US military was the only Coalition partner with artillery capacity and was therefore responsible for all artillery fire into the city. …US marines launched tens of thousands of artillery shells into and around Raqqa.” And “The Coalition launched tens of thousands of airstrikes on Raqqa. American planes carried out ninety per cent of the strikes. The British and French did the rest.

Tens of thousands of strikes and heavy artillery bombardments over a period of a four months, from July to October 2017, the use of white phosphorus, a banned weapon, thousands killed, a city destroyed and for what, no one seems to know, except there exists a ruthless contempt for the norms of civilized behaviour and international law in the governments and armed forces of the “coalition” of gangster states that are committing theses crimes. The fact that the situation in Raqqa could have bee resolved without all this death and destruction is lost in history. The offers by the Syrians, by the Russians to negotiate with the occupying ISIS forces, were all rejected out of hand by the invading US and proxy forces.

At the end of October 2017, the government of Syria issued a statement that said:

″Syria considers the claims of the United States and its so-called alliance about the liberation of Raqqa city from ISIS to be lies aiming to divert international public opinion from the crimes committed by this alliance in Raqqa province…. more than 90% of Raqqa city has been leveled due to the deliberate and barbaric bombardment of the city and the towns near it by the alliance, which also destroyed all services and infrastructures and forced tens of thousands of locals to leave the city and become refugees. Syria still considers Raqqa to be an occupied city, and it can only be considered liberated when the Syrian Arab Army enters it.”

Source: Antiwar.com

The truth remains that war crimes were committed on a vast scale and there can be no doubt that the majority of them arose from the American adoption of Hitler’s Nazi war machine conception of ‘total war’, with which its aggressive wars are waged. We saw what they did in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, in Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, in Libya. In ‘total war’ the moral ideals underlying the conventions which seek to make war somehow more humane, such as the requirement of proportionality of means in light of objectives and the corresponding requirement that a distinction be made between combatants and civilians, with civilians to be protected at all costs, are no longer regarded as having force or validity. Everything is made subordinate to the overmastering dictates of war. Rules, regulations, assurances, and treaties all alike are of no importance whatsoever, and so, freed from the restraining influence of international law, their aggressive war is conducted with unbridled barbarism. Accordingly, war crimes are committed when and wherever they think them to be advantageous.

The laws about protection of civilians in war and using proportional force are universally known. They are even contained in the US Army Military Law of War Manual which sets out the governing international law at length. They are the contained in Geneva Conventions, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Military necessity cannot override those laws. But there is something that overrides the laws agreed upon between civilized nations, aggression. Once that crime is committed the rest follow, a truism established as a principle of international justice at the Nuremberg Tribunals in 1946. And so we must add a further crime to the indictment against the United States and its allies, an aggravating circumstance to the American crimes, the crime of aggression against Syria, the invasion and occupation that led directly lead to the crimes committed in Raqqa. Yet where is the Mechanism? Search as you might I can find no mention of Raqqa, nor of American aggression in their materials, not a word of their crimes in Syria.

But many have said this and nothing happens to these criminals. As Canadian Law Professor Michael Mandel wrote in his book How America Gets Away With Murder, the system is rigged in their favour. They control the show and all the levers that control the show. Mandel found that out the hard way when, in 1999, he led our group of lawyers that filed war crimes charges against NATO with Louise Arbour, then the prosecutor of the Yugoslavia tribunal, who refused to do anything against them and instead acted as their agent, and has been rewarded with one position after another, several in the UN system. And “so it goes” as Kurt Vonnegut expressed it in his novel describing what they did to Dresden in the Second World War. And so it goes as their screaming planes sweep low with bombs caressed by taloned wings.

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Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Why Do We Need a National-Security State?

November 2nd, 2018 by Jacob G. Hornberger

Given President Trump’s impulsive decision to suddenly send 5,200 armed U.S. soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent a few thousand women and children and others from seeking refugee status in the United States, which foreign citizens are entitled to do under U.S. law, a question naturally arises with respect to those troops: What were they doing before they were sent to the border?

The answer is: Nothing, at least nothing productive.

Oh sure, one can say that they were training to kill more people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa, or other parts of the world. Or they might have been preparing an invasion of some other country in the world. Or they might be figuring out how to best enforce the embargoes and sanctions against the people of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and elsewhere.

But how can any of that possibly be considered productive? None of the people they are killing are attacking and invading the United States. Neither are the governments in the countries in which the victims are citizens. Moreover, the constant, never-ending killing brings the constant, never-ending danger of terrorist blowback against the United States, which U.S. officials then use as an excuse to destroy further our own freedom and privacy here at home.

How is that productive?

The sanctions and embargoes do nothing but bring death, suffering, impoverishment, and misery to the people in countries who happen to find themselves living under a regime that U.S. officials don’t like. By targeting the citizenry in those countries, U.S. officials are hoping that the targeted people will initiate a violent revolution that will oust their regime from power and install one that is acceptable to U.S. officials. But such a revolution would only bring more death and suffering, along with more anger and hatred against the United States.

How is that productive?

Our American ancestors had it right: No U.S. government meddling in the affairs of other countries. No foreign wars. No foreign aid. No sanctions or embargoes. No U.S.-inspired coups. No wars of aggression. No torture. No rendition. No alliances. No partnerships with dictatorships.

Such being the case, there was no need for a giant military-industrial-congressional complex. Yes, there was an army for the first 100 years of U.S. history but it was a relatively small army. Large enough to defeat Indian tribes and even defeat Mexico in a war but nowhere large enough to invade and occupy European and Asian countries, intervene in their forever conflicts, or initiate wars of aggression against them.

There was also no need for a CIA or NSA or vast military-industrial-congressional complex. In fact, if the proponents of the Constitution had told our American ancestors that they were bringing into existence a government that had the omnipotent power to take them into custody, hold them forever without a trial, torture them, spy on them, experiment on them, and assassinate them, they never would have approved the Constitution. We would still be operating under the Articles of Confederation, where the federal government’s powers were so weak it didn’t even have the power to tax. Our American ancestors liked it that way.

Let’s assume that we were to bring all U.S. troops home from everywhere, including Germany, Korea, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, Cuba, and everywhere else.

What would we need them for? We obviously wouldn’t need them at all given that they would have been engaged in actions overseas that were no longer being engaged in. They could all be discharged into the private sector. That would be doubly positive: No longer would citizens be taxed to fund what is essentially a military welfare dole, but also all those former soldiers would now be in the private sector producing wealth rather than living off of a tax-funded military dole

But then the question arise with respect to the troops here at home: Why do we need the vast military-industrial-congressional complex? What do we need all those domestic military bases for? Just because cities that have military bases are scared of losing their military welfare dole? What do we need all those domestic troops for? What do we need the CIA for? What do we need the NSA for?

One of the legitimate purposes of government is the military defense of the nation. But there is no danger whatsoever that any foreign regime is going to invade and conquer the United States. No foreign regime has the money, the troops, the weaponry, the supplies, the transports, or even the desire to invade and conquer the United States. Don’t forget: Hitler, despite Germany’s powerful military machine, couldn’t even cross the English Channel to invade England. Crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean with the millions of troops that would be necessary to successfully invade and conquer the United States would be a virtual impossibility, especially when we consider the supply lines necessary for such an enormous endeavor.

So, the question again arises: What do all those troops do on a daily basis on all those military bases that are strung out all over the United States? They’re clearly not protecting American cities from Indian (i.e., Native-American) attacks because that danger was eliminated a long time ago. And they’re clearly not protecting the United States from an invasion or conquest because no such danger exists. So what do all those soldiers do on a daily basis — that is, when they are not being sent to the border to possibly shoot women and children and other prospective refugees?

They practice shooting or they training new recruits how to kill. They are training them how to march — left-faces, right-faces, and to the rear. They clean their rifles. They maintain their vehicles. They learn how to drive tanks or fly military aircraft. They do bureaucracy-type work. They do lots of paperwork.  They collect their paychecks, which come from taxes the IRS collects from people’s income. They go to work and they return home. It’s all so mundane and unnecessary. And none of it is productive. That is, it does not produce wealth in American society. Instead, it drains wealth from society in the form of taxation to fund all this unnecessary and unproductive activity.

The biggest mistake the United States ever made was to convert the U.S. government from a limited-government republic into a national-security state.  The Founding Fathers and the Framers had it right. The best thing that the American people could ever do is dismantle their national-security state governmental structure and restore a limited-government republic to our land. That would naturally entail the dismantling, not the reform, of the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, and what former President Eisenhower labeled the military-industrial-congressional complex.

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics.

To All Active Duty Soldiers:

Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country’s elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace.  Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Your family members came to the U.S. to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America’s wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.

By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to “defend” the U.S. from these migrants.  History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.

In solidarity,

Rory Fanning
Former U.S. Army Ranger, War-Resister
Spenser Rapone
Former U.S. Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister

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Rory Fanning, following two deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion, became one of the first U.S. Army Rangers to resist the Iraq war and the Global War on Terror. In 2008–2009 he walked across the United States for the Pat Tillman foundation.

Spenser Rapone is a former officer in the U.S. Army and the co-host of the EyesLeft podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @punkproletarian

New Iran Sanctions Risk Long-term US Isolation

November 2nd, 2018 by Patrick Lawrence

The next step in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran comes this Sunday, Nov. 4, when the most severe sanctions will be imposed on the Islamic Republic. Crucially, they apply not only to Iran but to anyone who continues to do business with it.

It’s not yet clear how disruptive this move will be. While the U.S. intention is to isolate Iran, it is the U.S. that could wind up being more isolated. It depends on the rest of the world’s reaction, and especially Europe’s.

The issue is so fraught that disputes over how to apply the new sanctions have even divided Trump administration officials.

The administration is going for the jugular this time. It wants to force Iranian exports of oil and petrochemical products down to as close to zero as possible. As the measures are now written, they also exclude Iran from the global interbank system known as SWIFT.

It is hard to say which of these sanctions is more severe. Iran’s oil exports have already started falling. They peaked at 2.7 million barrels a day last May—just before Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the six-nation accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. By early September oil exports were averaging a million barrels a day less.

In August the U.S. barred Iran’s purchases of U.S.-dollar denominated American and foreign company aircraft and auto parts. Since then the Iranian rial has crashed to record lows and inflation has risen above 30 percent.

Revoking Iran’s SWIFT privileges will effectively cut the nation out of the dollar-denominated global economy. But there are moves afoot, especially by China and Russia, to move away from a dollar-based economy.

The SWIFT issue has caused infighting in the administration between Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser who is among the most vigorous Iran hawks in the White House. Mnuchin might win a temporary delay or exclusions for a few Iranian financial institutions, but probably not much more.

On Sunday, the second round of sanctions will kick in since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Obama administration-backed, nuclear agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for stringent controls on its nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified that the deal is working and the other signatories—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia have not pulled out and have resumed trading with Iran. China and Russia have already said they will ignore American threats to sanction it for continuing economic relations with Iran. The key question is what will America’s European allies do?

Europeans React

Europe has been unsettled since Trump withdrew in May from the nuclear accord. The European Union is developing a trading mechanism to get around U.S. sanctions. Known as a Special Purpose Vehicle, it would allow European companies to use a barter system similar to how Western Europe traded with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Screengrab from Reuters

EU officials have also been lobbying to preserve Iran’s access to global interbank operations by excluding the revocation of SWIFT privileges from Trump’s list of sanctions. They count Mnuchin, who is eager to preserve U.S. influence in the global trading system, among their allies. Some European officials, including Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, propose making the euro a global trading currency to compete with the dollar.

Except for Charles de Gaulle briefly pulling France out of NATO in 1967 and Germany and France voting on the UN Security Council against the U.S. invading Iraq in 2003, European nations have been subordinate to the U.S. since the end of the Second World War.

The big European oil companies, unwilling to risk the threat of U.S. sanctions, have already signaled they intend to ignore the EU’s new trade mechanism. Total SA, the French petroleum company and one of Europe’s biggest, pulled out of its Iran operations several months ago.

Earlier this month a U.S. official confidently predicted there would be little demand among European corporations for the proposed barter mechanism.

Whether Europe succeeds in efforts to defy the U.S. on Iran is nearly beside the point from a long-term perspective. Trans-Atlantic damage has already been done. A rift that began to widen during the Obama administration seems about to get wider still.

Asia Reacts

Asian nations are also exhibiting resistance to the impending U.S. sanctions. It is unlikely they could absorb all the exports Iran will lose after Nov. 4, but they could make a significant difference. China, India, and South Korea are the first, second, and third-largest importers of Iranian crude; Japan is sixth. Asian nations may also try to work around the U.S. sanctions regime after Nov. 4.

India is considering purchases of Iranian crude via a barter system or denominating transactions in rupees. China, having already said it would ignore the U.S. threat, would like nothing better than to expand yuan-denominated oil trading, and this is not a hard call: It is in a protracted trade war with the U.S., and an oil-futures market launched in Shanghai last spring already claims roughly 14 percent of the global market for “front-month” futures—contracts covering shipments closest to delivery.

As with most of the Trump administration’s foreign policies, we won’t know how the new sanctions will work until they are introduced. There could be waivers for nations such as India; Japan is on record asking for one. The E.U.’s Special Purpose Vehicle could prove at least a modest success at best, but this remains uncertain. Nobody is sure who will win the administration’s internal argument over SWIFT.

Long-term Consequences for the U.S.

The de-dollarization of the global economy is gradually gathering momentum. The orthodox wisdom in the markets has long been that competition with the dollar from other currencies will eventually prove a reality, but it will not be one to arrive in our lifetimes. But with European and Asian reactions to the imminent sanctions against Iran it could come sooner than previously thought.

The coalescing of emerging powers into a non-Western alliance —most significantly China, Russia, India, and Iran—starts to look like another medium-term reality. This is driven by practical rather than ideological considerations, and the U.S. could not do more to encourage this if it tried. When Washington withdrew from the Iran accord, Moscow and Beijing immediately pledged to support Tehran by staying with its terms.If the U.S. meets significant resistance, especially from its allies, it could be a turning-point in post-Word War II U.S. dominance.

Supposedly Intended for New Talks

All this is intended to force Iran back to the negotiating table for a rewrite of what Trump often calls “the worst deal ever.” Tehran has made it clear countless times it has no intention of reopening the pact, given that it has consistently adhered to its terms and that the other signatories to the deal are still abiding by it.

The U.S. may be drastically overplaying its hand and could pay the price with additional international isolation that has worsened since Trump took office.

Washington has been on a sanctions binge for years. Those about to take effect seem recklessly broad. This time, the U.S. risks lasting alienation even from those allies that have traditionally been its closest.

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Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via www.patreon.com/thefloutist.

Featured image is from Sprott Money.

Indigenous communities on agro-industrial frontier declare state of environmental and territorial emergency amidst land grabs and deforestation.

Communities in the Bajo Huallaga area of the Peruvian Amazon declared an “environmental and territorial emergency” on 16 September this year following serious and ongoing impacts on their natural resources, territories and inhabitants caused by land grabs and deforestation of their lands by loggers and palm oil companies.

The decision to declare a state of emergency was taken at an emergency general assembly of the 14 base communities of the Federation of Kichwa Indigenous Peoples of Bajo Huallaga, San Martin (FEPIKBHSAM). The assembly took place in Puerto Mercedes (Papaplaya district of the San Martin province), home to one of the indigenous communities hardest-hit by the clearance and burning of the forest. The community holds the palm oil company, Palmas de Huallaga, responsible for destroying and clearing their forests for oil palm cultivation, and their operations are alleged to have spread into the neighbouring region of Loreto.

It is not only oil palm expansion driving deforestation and violating territorial rights across Bajo Huallaga. In another area of the territory, Santa Rosillo de Yanayaku (Huimbayoc), illegal loggers are harming community forests, causing rights violations and destroying the community’s hopes for sustainable development, while the community of Anak Kurutuyaku report that unknown persons are illegally cultivating coca for drug production within their lands.

Community members have reported these violations to the Specialised Environmental Prosecutor of Alto Amazonas in Yurimaguas on several occasions, yet in the case of Santa Rosillo, the Prosecutor has failed to attend three planned investigations.

Even as community members have spoken out about the territorial threats they face , those opposing these activities are being made to pay a high cost: in September 2018, the apu (chief) of Santa Rosillo, Manuel Inuma Alvarado, was beaten and has received death threats for opposing the illegal loggers clearing forests with impunity in his community’s territory.

“The titling of our territories is key to protecting forests, since it is we indigenous peoples who have been inhabiting and guarding these territories since before the creation of the Peruvian State.”

“These events only reinforce the indigenous movement’s stance on the central importance of collective titling in order to secure indigenous peoples’ territories and continued existence,” said Elias Sinty, president of the Federation, FEPIKBHSAM.

“At the same time, the titling of our territories is key to protecting forests, since it is we indigenous peoples who have been inhabiting and guarding these territories since before the creation of the Peruvian State.”

The regional indigenous organisation, the Council of Indigenous Peoples of San Martin (CODEPISAM), and its members, are currently setting up  a technical working group to resolve violations against its members, focusing on both environmental and territorial issues, especially the need for indigenous lands to be titled and reforms and measures to be put in place to legally recognise their rights over their forests.

The communities which make up FEPIKBHSAM are now calling upon the Peruvian Government to address their situation and follow them in officially declaring their lands to be in a state of environmental and territorial emergency. This would involve a cross-sectoral government agreement to direct resources towards effectively addressing the problems highlighted in Bajo Huallaga through a series of time-limited measures. In particular, FEPIKBHSAM are urgently calling for the communal titling of the entirety of their ancestral territory.

Until now, none of the 14 communities belonging to the federation have been titled in recognition of their property rights over their ancestral territories, despite the Peruvian State’s obligations to do so.

FEPIKBHSAM has indicated that they will continue to highlight how these violations are allowed to take place through flawed policies and inadequate legal protections. This fails to uphold their rights and leaves their territories open to logging, agribusiness, mining, the drugs trade and exclusionary conservation initiatives.  FEPIKBHSAM stresses how the creation of the Cordillera Escalera Regional Conservation Area and the Cordillera Azul National Park, without prior consultation, constitutes a further ongoing violation of their rights as indigenous peoples, including their rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent.

As FEPIKBHSAM await a response through the newly-formed working group to the territorial demands of their base communities, they hope that the government will take this opportunity to create policies which respect indigenous peoples’ rights and territories, and thus bring an end to the declared state of environmental emergency faced by the communities

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This important article first published by GR in August 2004 brings  to the forefront the role of Psychotronic weapons as an instrument of modern warfare.

It should be understood, that Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons are fully operational and could be used by US-NATO in their wars in different parts of the World.   

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In October 2000, Congressman Denis J. Kucinich introduced in the House of Representatives a bill, which would oblige the American president to engage in negotiations aimed at the ban of space based weapons.

In this bill, the definition of a weapons system included:

“any other unacknowledged or as yet undeveloped means inflicting death or injury on, or damaging or destroying, a person (or the biological life, bodily health, mental health, or physical and economic well-being of a person)… through the use of land-based, sea- based, or space-based systems using radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies directed at individual persons or targeted populations for the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such persons or populations“(15).

As in all legislative acts quoted in this article, the bill pertains to sound, light or electromagnetic stimulation of the human brain.

Psychotronic weapons belong, at least for a layman uninformed of secret military research, in the sphere of science fiction, since so far none of the published scientific experiments has been presented in a meaningful way to World public opinion.

That it is feasible to manipulate human behavior with the use of subliminal, either by sound or visual messages, is now generally known and acknowledged by the scientific community.

This is why in most countries, the use of such technologies, without the consent of the individual concerned, is in theory banned. Needless to say, the use of these technologies is undertaken covertly, without the knowledge or consent of targeted individuals.

Devices using light for the stimulation of the brain constitute another mechanism whereby light flashing under certain frequencies could be used to manipulate the human psychic.

As for the use of sound, a device transmitting a beam of sound waves, which can be heard only by persons at whom the beam of sound waves is targeted, has been reported in several news media.  In this case, the beam is formed by a combination of sound and ultrasound waves which causes the targeted person to hear the sound inside his head. Such a procedure could affect the mental balance of  the targeted individual as well as convince him that he is, so to speak, mentally ill.

This article examines the development of technologies and knowledge pertaining to the functioning of the human brain and the way new methods of manipulation of the human mind are being developed.

Electromagnetic energy

One of the main methods of manipulation is through electromagnetic energy.

In the declassified scientific literature only some 30 experiments have been published supporting this assumption (1),(2). Already in 1974, in the USSR, after successful testing within a military unit in Novosibirsk, the Radioson (Radiosleep) was registered with the Government Committee on Matters of Inventions and Discoveries of the USSR, described as a method of induction of sleep by means of radio waves (3), (4), (5).

In the scientific literature, technical feasibility of inducing sleep in a human being through the use of radio waves is confirmed in a book by an British scientist involved in research on the biological effects of electromagnetism (6). A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on nonionizing radiation published in 1991 confirms that:

“many of biological effects observed in animals exposed to ELF fields appear to be associated, either directly or indirectly, with the nervous system…” (2).

Among the published experiments, there are those where pulsed microwaveshave caused the synchronization of isolated neurons with the frequency of pulsing of microwaves. Ffor example, a neuron firing at a frequency of 0.8 Hz was forced in this way to fire the impulses at a frequency of 1 Hz. Moreover, the pulsed microwaves contributed to changing the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain (neurotransmitters are a part of the mechanism which causes the firing of neurons in the brain) and reinforcing or attenuating the effects of drugs delivered into the brain (1).

The experiment where the main brain frequencies registered by EEG were synchronized with the frequency of microwave pulsing (1,2) might explain the function of the Russian installation Radioson. Microwaves pulsed in the sleep frequency would cause the synchronization of the brain’s activity with the sleep frequency and in this way produce sleep.

Pulsing of microwaves in frequency predominating in the brain at an awakened state could, by the same procedure, deny sleep to a human being.

A report derived from the testing program of the Microwave Research Department at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research states

“Microwave pulses appear to couple to the central nervous system and produce stimulation similar to electric stimulation unrelated to heat”.

In a many times replicated experiment, microwaves pulsed in an exact frequency caused the efflux of calcium ions from the nerve cells (1,2). Calcium plays a key role in the firing of neurons and Ross Adey, member of the first scientific team which published this experiment, publicly expressed his conviction that this effect of electromagnetic radiation would interfere with concentration on complex tasks (7).

Robert Becker, who had share in the discovery of the effect of pulsed fields at the healing of broken bones, published the excerpts from the report from Walter Reed Army Institute testing program. In the first part “prompt debilitation effects” should have been tested (8). Were not those effects based on the experiment by Ross Adey and others with calcium efflux?

British scientist John Evans, working in the same field, wrote that both Ross Adey and Robert Becker lost their positions and research grants and called them “free-thinking exiles” (6). In 1975, in the USA, a military experiment was published where pulsed microwaves produced, in the brain of a human subject, an audio perception of numbers from 1 to 10 (9). Again the possibility to convince an individual that it is mentally ill is obvious. The testing program of American Walter Read Army Institute of Research, where the experiment took place, counts with “prompt auditory stimulation by means of auditory effects” and finally aims at “behavior controlled by stimulation” (8).

Let us assume that the words delivered into the brain were transcribed into ultrasound frequencies. Would not then the subject perceive those same words as his own thoughts?

And would this not imply that that his behavior was being controlled in this way through the transmission of ultrasound frequencies? In this regard, the American Air Force 1982 “Final Report On Biotechnology Research Requirements For Aeronautical Systems Through the Year 2000” states:

“While initial attention should be toward degradation of human performance through thermal loading and electromagnetic field effects, subsequent work should address the possibilities of directing and interrogating mental functioning, using externally applied fields…” (10).

Several scientists have warned that the latest advances in neurophysiology could be used for the manipulation of the human brain.

In June 1995, Michael Persinger, who worked on the American Navy’s project of Non-lethal electromagnetic weapons, published a scientific article where he states:

“the technical capability to influence directly the major portion of the approximately six billion brains of the human species without mediation through classical sensory modalities by generating neural information within a physical medium within which all members of the species are immersed… is now marginally feasible“ (11).

In 1998, the French National Bioethics Committee warned that  “neuroscience is being increasingly recognized as posing a potential threat to human rights“ (12). In May 1999 the neuroscientists conference, sponsored by the UN, took place in Tokyo. Its final declaration formally acknowledges that :

“Today we have intellectual, physical and financial resources to master the power of the brain itself, and to develop devices to touch the mind and even control or erase consciousness…We wish to profess our hope that such pursuit of knowledge serves peace and welfare” (13).

On the international political scene, in the last few years, the concept of remote control of the human brain has become  a matter of international and intergovernmental negotiation. In January 1999, the European Parliament passed a resolution where it called  “for an international convention introducing a global ban on all developments and deployments of weapons which might enable any form of manipulation of human beings.“ (14)

Already in 1997, nine states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) addressed the UN, OBSE and the states of the Interparliamentary Union with the proposal to place at the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the preparation and adoption of an international convention “On Prevention of Informational Wars and Limitation of Circulation of Informational Weapons” (16), (3).

Informational Weapons

The initiative was originally proposed, in the Russian State Duma, by Vladimir Lopatin (3). V. Lopatin worked, from 1990 to 1995, in sequence, in the standing committees on Security respectively of the Russian Federation, Russian State Duma and of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), specializing in informational security.(3). The concept of informational weapon or informational war is rather unknown to the world general public. In 1999, V. Lopatin, together with Russian scientist Vladimir Tsygankov, published a book „Psychotronic Weapon and the Security of Russia“ (3). There we find the explanation of this terminology:

 “In the report on the research of the American Physical Society for the year 1993 the conclusion is presented that psychophysical weapon systems…can be used… for the construction of a strategic arm of a new type (informational weapon in informational war)…”

Among many references on this subject, we refer to Materials of the Parliament Hearings “Threats and Challenges in the Sphere of Informational Security”, Moscow, July 1996, “Informational Weapon as a Threat to the National Security of the Russian Federation” (analytical report of the Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation), Moscow, 1996 and a material “To Whom Will Belong the Conscientious Weapon in the 21st Century”, Moscow, 1997. (17).

In 2000 V. Lopatin introduced, after two other authors, the third in order bill on the subject of  “Informational and Psychological Security of the Russian Federation“. Lopotin’s findings were reviewed by the Russian newspaper Segodnya:

“…Means of informational-psychological influence are capable not only of harming the health of an individual, but, also of causing, according to Lopatin, ‘the blocking of freedom of will of human being on the subliminal level, the loss of the ability of political, cultural and social self identification, the manipulation of societal consciousness, which could lead to   the destruction of a sense of collective identify by the Russian people and nation’“ (16).

In the book “Psychotronic Weapons and the Security of Russia”, the authors propose among the basic principles of the Russian concept of defense against the remote control of the human psyche not only the acknowledgement of its existence, but also the fact that the methods of informational and psychotronic war are fully operational (“and are being used without a formal declaration of war”) (18). They also quote the record from the session of the Russian Federation’s Federal Council where V. Lopatin stated that psychotronic weapon can

“cause the blocking of the freedom of will of a human being on a subliminal level” or “instillation into the consciousness or subconsciousness of a human being of information which will trigger a faulty or erroneous perception of reality” (19).

In that regard, they proposed the preparation of national legislation as well as the establishment of legal international norms “aimed at the defense of human psyche against subliminal, destructive and informational manipulations” (20).

Moreover, they also propose the declassification of all analytical studies and research on the various technologies. They warned that, because this research has remained classified and removed from the public eye, it has allowed the arms race to proceed unabated. It has thereby contributed to increasing the possibility of psychotronic war.

Among the possible sources of remote influence on human psyche, the authors list the “generators of physical fields“ of “known as well as unknown nature” (21). In 1999 the STOA (Scientific and Technological Options Assessment), part of the Directorate General for Research of the European Parliament published the report on Crowd Control Technologies, ordered by them with the OMEGA foundation in Manchester (UK) (22,  http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf ).

One of four major subjects of the study pertained  to the so-called “Second Generation“ or “non lethal” technologies:

 “This report evaluates the second generation of ‘non-lethal’ weapons which are emerging from national military and nuclear weapons laboratories in the United States as part of the Clinton Administration’s ‘non-lethal’ warfare doctrine now adopted in turn by NATO. These devices include weapons using… directed energy beam,…radio frequency, laser and acoustic mechanisms to incapacitate human targets” (23) The report states that „the most controversial ‚non-lethal‘ crowd control … technology proposed by the U.S., are so called Radio Frequency or Directed Energy Weapons that can allegedly manipulate human behavior… the greatest concern is with systems which can directly interact with the human nervous system“ (24). The report also states that „perhaps the most powerful developments remain shrouded in secrecy“ (25).

 The unavailability of official documents confirming the existence of this technology may be the reason why the OMEGA report is referencing, with respect to mind control technology, the internet publication of the author of this article (26 http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf ).

 Similarly, the internet publication of the director of the American Human Rights and Anti-mind Control Organization (CAHRA), Cheryl Welsh, is referenced by the joint initiative of the Quaker United Nations Office, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, and Programme for Strategic and International Security Studies, with respect to non-lethal weapons (27).

On September 25th, 2000, the Committee on Security of the Russian State Duma discussed the addendum to the article 6 of the Federal law On Weapons. In the resolution we read:

“The achievements of contemporary science… allow for creation of measured methods of secret, remote influencing on the psyches and physiology of a person or a group of people“ (28). The committee recommended that the addendum be approved. The addendum to the article 6 of the Russian Federation law “On Weapons“ was approved on July 26, 2001. It states:

“within the territory of the Russian Federation is prohibited the circulation of weapons and other objects… the effects of the operation of which are based on the use of electromagnetic, light, thermal, infra-sonic or ultra-sonic radiations…“ (29).

In this way, the Russian government made a first step to stand up to its dedication to the ban of mind control technology.

In the Doctrine of Informational Security of the Russian Federation, signed by president Putin in September 2000, among the dangers threatening the informational security of Russian Federation, is listed

“the threat to the constitutional rights and freedoms of people and citizens in the sphere of spiritual life… individual, group and societal consciousness“ and “illegal use of special means affecting individual, group and societal consciousness” (30). Among the major directions of the international cooperation toward the guaranteeing of the informational security is listed „the ban of production, dissemination and use of ‘informational weapon‘ “ (31).

The foregoing statement should be interpreted as the continuing Russian commitment to the international ban of the means of remote influencing of the activity of the human brain.

Similarly, in the above mentioned report, published by the STOA, the originally proposed version of the resolution of the European Parliament calls for:

“an international convention for a global ban on all research and development… which seeks to apply knowledge of the chemical, electrical, sound vibration or other functioning of the human brain to the development of weapons which might enable the manipulation of human beings, including a ban of any actual or possible deployment of such systems.“(32)

Here the term “actual” might easily mean that such weapons are already deployed.

Among the countries with the most advanced military technologies is the USA which did not present any international initiative demanding the ban of technologies enabling the remote control of human mind. (The original version of the bill by Denis J. Kucinich was changed.)

All the same, according to the study published by STOA, the US is the major promoter of the use of those weapons. Non lethal technology was included into NATO military doctrine due to their effort:  “At the initiative of the USA, within the framework of NATO, a special group was formed, for the perspective use of devices of non-lethal effects” states the record from the session of the Committee on Security of the Russian State Duma (28).

The report published by STOA states: “In October 1999 NATO announced a new policy on non-lethal weapons and their place in allied arsenals” (33). “In 1996 non-lethal tools identified by the U.S. Army included… directed energy systems” and “radio frequency weapons” (34) – those weapons, as was suggested in the STOA report as well, are being associated with the effects on the human nervous system.

According to the Russian government informational agency FAPSI, in the last 15 years,U.S. expenditures on the development and acquisition of the means of informational war has increased fourfold, and at present they occupy the first place among all military programs (17),(3).

Though there are possible uses of informational war, which do not imply mind control, the US Administration  has been unwilling to engage in negotiations on the ban on all forms of manipulation of the human brain. This unwillingness might indeed suggest that the US administration intends to use mind control technologies both within the US as well as internationally as an instrument of warfare.

One clear consequence of the continuation of the apparent politics of secrecy surrounding technologies enabling remote control of the human brain is that the governments, who own such technologies, could use them without having to consult public opinion. Needless to say, any meaningful democracy in today’s world could be disrupted, through secret and covert operations.  It is not inconceivable that in the future, entire population groups subjected to mind control technologies, could be living in a “fake democracy” where their own government or a foreign power could broadly shape their political opinions by means of mind control technologies.

Mojmir Babacek is the founder of the International Movement for the Ban of the Manipulation of the Human Nervous System by Technical Means,  He is the author of numerous articles on the issue of mind manipulation. 

Notes

1) Handbook of Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, 1996, CRC Press Inc., 0-8493-0641-8/96, – pg. 117, 119, 474- 485, 542-551, 565 at the top and third and last paragraph

2) World Health Organization report on non-ionizing radiation from 1991, pg. 143 and 207-208

3) V. Lopatin, V Cygankov: „Psichotronnoje oružie i bezopasnost Rossii“, SINTEG, Russian Federation, Moscow, ISBN 5-89638-006-2-A5-2000-30, list of the publications of the publishing house you will find at the addresshttp://www.sinteg.ru/cataloghead.htm

4) G. Gurtovoj, I. Vinokurov: „Psychotronnaja vojna, ot mytov k realijam“, Russsian Federation, Moscow, „Mysteries“, 1993, ISBN 5-86422-098-1

5) With greatest likelihood as well the Russian daily TRUD, which has organized the search for the documents, Moscow, between August 1991 and end of 1992 6) John Evans: Mind, Body and Electromagnetism, the Burlington Press, Cambridge, 1992, ISBN 1874498008, str.139

7) Robert Becker: “Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life”, William Morrow and comp., New York, 1985, pg. 287

8) Robert Becker: “Cross Currents, teh Startling Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation on your Health”, 1991, Bloomsburry Publishing, London, Great Brittain, ISBN 0- 7475-0761-9, pg. 304, Robert Becker refers to Bioelectromagnetics Society Newsletter, January and February 1989

9) Don R. Justesen, 1975, Microwaves and Behavior, American Psychologist, March 1975, pg. 391 – 401

10) Dr. Nick Begich and Jeane Maning: “Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, Advances in Tesla Technology”, Earthpulse Press, 1995, ISBN 0-9648812–0-9, pg. 169

11) M. A. Persinger: „On the Possibility of Directly Lacessing Every Human Brain by Electromagnetic Induction of Fundamental Algorythms“, Perception and Motor Skills, June1995,, sv. 80, str. 791-799

12) Nature, vol.391, 22.1.1998,str.316, „Advances in Neurosciences May Threaten Human Rights“

13) Internet reference at the site of the United Nations University and Institute of Advanced Studies in Tokyo does not work any more, to verify the information it is necessary to find the document from the 1999 UN sponsored conference of neuroscientists in Tokyo, you may inquire at the address [email protected] 14)http://www.europarl.eu.int/home/default_en.htm?redirected=1 . click at Plenary sessions, scroll down to Reports by A4 number –click, choose 1999 and fill in 005 to A4 or search for Resolution on the environment, security and foreign policy from January 28, 1999

15) http://thomas.loc.gov./ and search for Space Preservation Act then click at H.R.2977

16) Russian daily Segodnya, 11. February, 2000, Andrei Soldatov: „Vsadniki psychotronitscheskovo apokalypsa” (Riders of Psychotronic Apokalypse)

17) See ref. 3), pg. 107

18) See ref. 3) pg. 97

19) See ref. 3), pg. 107

20) See ref. 3), pg. 108

21) See ref. 3) pg. 13

22) http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf

23) see ref. 22 pg. XIX or 25

24) see ref. 22 pg. LIII or 69

25) see ref. 22 pg. XLVII or 63, aswell pg. VII-VIII or 7-8, pg. XIX or 25, pg. XLV or 61

26) see ref. 22) pg. LIII or 69, note 354

27) http://www.unog.ch/unidir/Media%20Guide%20 CAHRA and Cheryl Welsh are listed at the page 24

28) Document sent by Moscow Committee of Ecology of Dwellings. Telephone: Russian Federation, Zelenograd, 531-6411, Emilia Tschirkova, directrice

29) Search www.rambler.ru , there “poisk” (search) and search for “gosudarstvennaja duma” (State Duma) (it is necessary to type in Russian alphabet), at the page which appears choose “informacionnyj kanal gosudarstvennoj dumy” (Informational Channel of the Russian State Duma), there “federalnyje zakony podpisanyje prezidentom RF” (Federal laws signed by president of the Russian Federation), choose year 2001 and search 26 ijulja, è. N 103-F3 (July 26, 2001, number N 103- F3) , “O vnesenii dopolnenija v statju 6 federalnogo zakona ob oružii” (addendum to the article 6 of the Federal law on weapons)

30) Search www.rambler.ru and then (type in Russian alphabet) “gosudarstvennaja duma”, next “informacionnyj kanal gosudarstvennoj dumy” (informational channel of the State Duma), next search by use of “poisk” (search) Doktrina informacionnoj bezopasnosti Rossii” “Doctrine of the Informational Security of the Russian Federation) there see pg. 3 “Vidy informacionnych ugroz bezopasnosti Rossijskkoj federacii” (Types of Threats to the Informational Security of the Russian Federation)

31) See ref. 30, pg. 19, “Mìždunarodnoje sotrudnièestvo Rossijskoj Federacii v oblasti obespeèenija informacionnoj bezopasnoti” (International Cooperation of the Russian Federation in Assuring the Informational Security”

32) See ref.22, pg. XVII or 33

33) See ref.22, pg. XLV or 61

34) See ref.22 pg. XLVI or 62

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At 12:01 on November 1, North and South Korea began a halt to land, air, and sea military exercises and began the operation of a designated no-fly zone along the military demarcation line (MDL). The measures are in line with September’s Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain, signed by the two Koreas’ defense ministers on the sidelines of the fifth inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

NK News reports:

The two Koreas previously agreed to halt live-fire artillery drills and field training exercises (FTX) at the regiment level five kilometers from the MDL. At sea, both sides have stopped all live-fire and maritime maneuvers within 80 kilometer buffer zones on the east and west coast. The two sides will install covers on the the barrels of coastal artillery and ship guns and close all gunports within the designated zone.

The two sides are also expected to remove all guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) by the end of November. Starting next month, after the completion of a joint inspection by the two Koreas and the US-led UN Command, the Joint Security Area of the DMZ is expected open for people to move about freely between the north and south sides for the first time in sixty-five years.

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At their annual Security Consultative Meeting, held in Washington DC on October 31, the South Korean and US defense chiefs signed the “Guiding Principles Following the Transition of Wartime Operational Control,” which says US Forces in Korea and the Combined Forces Command will remain in South Korea even after the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to South Korea.

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Defense Secretary James Mattis agreed,

“the contributions of the ROK – U.S. Alliance are to continue into the future, carrying on the spirit of the ROK- U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty to prevent armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, promote peace and stability in Northeast Asia, and contribute to global peace.”

According to the agreement, after OPCON transfer, South Korea will appoint a General or an Admiral to serve as the Commander of the Combined Forces Command (CFC), and the United States will appoint a General or an Admiral to serve as its deputy commander. Currently, a U.S. general serves as the commander of the CFC and a South Korean general serves as its deputy commander.

OPCON transfer is expected to be completed before the end of President Moon Jae-in’s term in office.

The full text of the “Guiding Principles Following the Transition of Wartime Operational Control” can be here.

The full text of the Joint Communiqué of the 50th U.S.-ROK Security Consultative Meeting can be read here.

South Korean defense minister says THAAD deployment will be permanent

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo announced the country will formalize the deployment of the controversial U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system once the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment is completed. The Peace Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment denounced the Moon Jae-in administration for “ignoring law and order to bring in strategic weapons for the U.S. missile defense system, which has no place in the vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

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In the past month, Brazil’s first indigenous woman was voted to Congress while the nation’s newly elected President is expected to pursue assimilation policies toward indigenous peoples and seek an end to demarcations of their lands and protections to the environment. 

In a historic advance for indigenous peoples in Brazil, on 7 October indigenous lawyer, Joênia Wapixana (officially Joênia Batista de Carvalho of the Wapixana indigenous peoples) was elected to the Chamber of Deputies.  Ms. Wapixana is not a stranger to firsts.  She has been piercing through ceilings all her life.  She was the first indigenous person to graduate from law school in Brazil.  In 2008 she was the first indigenous lawyer to speak in front of the Supreme Federal Court in the famous case of the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous lands in Roraima (an indigenous territory of approximately 1.678.800 hectares).  Her notoriety goes beyond national borders.  For years the Congresswoman has been championing the human rights of indigenous peoples internationally, both at the United Nations and the Organization of American States.  For over a decade and a half, together with Forest Peoples Programme, the Congresswoman has been representing the Macuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, Ingaricó and Patamona indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol in their Petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Congresswoman, now bringing the hopes of over 900,000 indigenous peoples of the nation, has vowed that she will continue to fight for the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights and their increased participation in the decisions that affect them.  With the growing threat to indigenous peoples and sustainable development posed by the agribusinesses that has a foothold in Brazil’s Congress, one of her priorities will be the repeal of the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC 2015) that intends to transfer the final decision on the demarcation of indigenous lands and territories from the executive agency, FUNAI, to the legislature.

The Congresswoman’s many efforts on behalf of indigenous peoples and the environment in Brazil will face great challenges not just from Congress, but from the Executive.  The same nation that wisely gave her a seat, also elected Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) to the Presidency.  Throughout his campaign, President Bolsonaro was outspoken in his desire to expand development into the Amazon and recognize not one inch more of indigenous lands.

Bolsonaro has touted his intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change accords, cease expansions of and new demarcations of indigenous lands, and remove regulations making it easier for licensing and concessioning for the expansion of agricultural and mining interests and hydroelectric dams — regardless of the risks to Brazil’s coveted rainforests and the rights of indigenous peoples.

There is no doubt that environmentalist and human rights activist in Brazil will need to redouble efforts in the coming years. They will need to work together even harder to protect what they have secured to date and continue to demand progress. Like Joenia Wapixana, however, these groups are no stranger to challenges.  More so, they now will have a new ally in Congress – an indigenous woman whose achievements are a constant reminder that what seems impossible today is just tomorrow eventual victory.

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A new round of vote at the United Nations on Cuba’s resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba” has just ended. [1] This was the 27th year in a row that Cuba submits this resolution and for the 27th time the resolution is voted overwhelmingly in favour: 189 voted in support, 2 against (United States and Israel), zero abstentions. [2]

In an attempt to sway the vote against the resolution, this year the US surprisingly introduced eight aggressive amendments forcing the UN General Assembly to debate them. This was a manipulative tactic to compel a discussion on the issue of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals in Cuba. 

US delegate at the UN, Nikki Haley tweeted the day before:

“Tomorrow, the UN will listen to what we have to say about it [Cuba’s resolution] and the countries will have to vote between Cuba and the United States. Who will vote with us?”

Evidently only Israel.

Despite the fact that Cuban foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, noted that there are other bodies of the UN where it would be more appropriate to seriously debate such issues, the amendments were allowed but, following Cuba’s prompt proposal, the Assembly voted that two thirds of the votes would be required to pass the amendments. All eight amendments were defeated. Only the US, Israel and Ukraine voted in favor. 

That sealed the US isolation on what the Iranian delegate called the “pathological tendency of the United States” in relation to Cuba. Nikki Haley admitted that the US is alone in its policy towards Cuba, and then stated, “We have no problems in being alone.” And so they are.

We must read in this UN vote not only Cuba’s steadfast determination to its legitimate right to sovereignty and self determination, but also the implicit rejection by virtually all nations to sanctions and financial blockades by the US for violating the basic principle of non intervention established in the UN Charter.

Nevertheless, the US delegate made the US doctrine of exceptionalism in international relations evident when she admitted,

“The United Nations does not have the power to end the embargo [blockade] against Cuba.”

That is unfortunately true but it reveals the bully behavior of her government.

On the other hand, prior to the vote, Bruno Rodriguez delivered a speech that brought home the economic implications of the blockade,

“Calculated at current prices, the blockade has caused damages for more than 134 thousand 499 million 800 thousand dollars. Only in the last year, this siege caused losses to Cuba in the order of four thousand 321 million 200 thousand dollars.”

In relation to human rights, he pointed at the US saying,

“The United States is the author of human rights violations against its own citizens, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, minorities, refugees and migrants.” 

He went on to say,

“The US Government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in terms of human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of these for political purposes and the double standards that characterize it.” 

And addressing the US added,

“The United States is only part of 30% of Human Rights instruments. No one can be surprised that you have left the Human Rights Council.”

In reference to the blockade specifically, Bruno Rodriguez stated,

“The blockade constitutes a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of Cubans, and has been and is an essential impediment to the welfare and prosperity aspirations of several generations.” “The blockade is against the Charter of the United Nations and its extraterritorial application harms all States.”

Image result for Miguel Diaz-Canel

His address was inspiring and strong.

“Cubans will continue to freely decide their internal affairs in close unity, as at present in the popular debate of the draft of the new Constitution and, later in the referendum to adopt it.” 

“There is no room for interference from a foreign power.”

At the news of the outcome of the UN vote on the US blockade against Cuba the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel (image on the right), succinctly stated,

“The world is with Cuba.”

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Nino Pagliccia is an activist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. He is editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” http://www.cubasolidarityincanada.ca. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] Full text of Cuba’s Report on Resolution 72/4 of the United Nations General Assembly: http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/articulo/full-text-cubas-report-resolution-724-united-nations-general-assembly-entitled-necessity Download PDF file in Spanish here: http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu/sites/default/files/InformeBloqueo2018/informe_cubavsbloqueo2018interactivo.pdf 

[2] http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu/en/unga-voting-records

Featured image is from The UN Web TV.

The method of warfare fought by Hitler’s forces in the Soviet Union would, before long, come back to haunt them. By pursuing a conflict in extreme ideological terms against Russia, it steeled the Red Army’s resolve in overcoming the “fascist hordes” at whatever cost.

Hitler had titled his march eastwards “Operation Barbarossa”, named after King Frederick Barbarossa, a red-bearded Prussian emperor who centuries before had waged war against the Slavs.

In Soviet territory, Hitler demanded his men undertake “war of annihilation” procedures. These murderous assaults eventually rebounded onto the Germans, who were dealt little mercy as they themselves had shown. By indiscriminately targeting Soviet soldiers and civilians, the Nazis were already sowing the seeds of their own defeat, though they did not yet know it.

A proportion of the USSR’s citizens, such as those in the Ukraine, had welcomed the Germans as gallant saviors releasing them at last from Stalin’s iron grip. The July and August 1941 arrival onto Ukrainian lands of Hitler’s young, undefeated foot soldiers – some golden-haired and many bronzed from the glowing sun – had indeed seduced certain Ukrainian civilians.

As German troops pushed deeper into the lush wheatfields of the Ukraine, growing numbers came forth from country homesteads to warmly greet their apparent rescuers. The ancient offering of bread and salt was graciously provided to Nazi infantrymen, as were flowers.

Joseph Goebbels‘ propaganda machine was working away seamlessly too. German officers, standing upon platforms in town squares, were handing out large color posters to civilians of an aristocratic-looking Führer, dressed in full military attire, and staring imperiously across his shoulder into the distance. At the bottom of each poster a caption in Ukrainian read, “Hitler the Liberator”.

To some in the Ukraine that is how it seemed, in the beginning at least. During that long, fateful summer of 1941, as the world watched on in wonder, it looked like nothing would ever stop the Germans in their advance towards Russia’s great cities. From the 22 June attack, after just a week of fighting, the Wehrmacht was already halfway to the capital Moscow. Such news sent Hitler into raptures at his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in East Prussia, whose construction had been completed hours before the invasion.

Towards the end of July 1941, following a month of combat, the Nazis had claimed an area double the size of their own country. It was a scale of victory that would have subdued any other European country.

Before too long, however, the severity of Hitler’s policies would turn the smiling villagers into wary adversaries of the German Reich. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler’s right arm during the war years, noted that when the dictator firmly set his mind on a decision, he would follow it through to the end. So it would be in this ideological conflict quickly descending into hatred.

Early in 1941, Hitler had said of the impending Russian attack,

“You have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”.

After more than three months of fighting, Hitler insisted during his Berlin Sportpalast speech of 3 October 1941 that,

“this enemy [Russia] is already broken and will never rise again”.

The Nazi leader further outlined that his soldiers were,

“fighting on a front of gigantic length and against an enemy who, I must say, does not consist of human beings but of animals or beasts. We have now seen what Bolshevism can make of human beings”.

In the Ukraine, Hitler’s war of ruin served only to swell partisan numbers, while sending floods of Ukrainian men to the ranks of Soviet Armies – millions would inevitably join Stalin’s forces. The Nazi enslavement of countless Ukrainians by turning them into medieval laborers also disillusioned the society, while large-scale murders of the Jewish population drew much horror.

Operation Barbarossa Infobox.jpg

Clockwise from top left: German soldiers advance through Northern Russia, German flamethrower team in the Soviet Union, Soviet planes flying over German positions near Moscow, Soviet prisoners of war on the way to German prison camps, Soviet soldiers fire at German positions. (Source: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Had the invasion been conducted through avoidance of these mass killings, such as in the manner of Germany’s 1940 offensive against France, it may have weakened the Soviet soldiers’ fortitude. Hitler and his followers viewed the French racial composition as of a superior creed, however.

By directing an inhumane warfare in the east, it was impossible for the Nazis to convince local inhabitants theirs was a just motive. Sympathy swept behind the Soviet cause, and even towards Stalin himself, whose Great Purge remained fresh in the memory.

Some short years after the Second World War – across in the Caribbean – a critical factor allowing Cuba’s revolutionary, Fidel Castro, to claim power in the heartland of American dominion was the form of warfare he pursued. Castroite forces avoided the depredations of conflict witnessed elsewhere, such as wanton murder and torture. In turn, this clean conduct of battle diluted the fighting desire of Castro’s opponents, while bolstering his reputation among the Cuban people.

Of Hitler’s troops Castro noted they,

“didn’t let any Bolsheviks escape with their lives, and I really don’t know how the people in the Soviet resistance might have treated the Nazis who fell prisoner. I don’t think they could do what we did [let prisoners go]. If they turned one of those fascists loose, the next day he’d be killing Soviet men, women and children again”.

Castro’s units were battling the soldiers of Fulgencio Batista – a corrupt dictator who since 1952 was sustained mostly by American financial might. Despite the rebels being eternally outnumbered against Batista, by the late 1950s they had gathered crucial momentum.

Castro said his compliance of the laws of war, apart from its ethical aspect, was also,

“a psychological factor of great importance. When an enemy comes to respect and even admire their adversary, you’ve won a psychological victory… I once said to those who accused us of violating human rights, ‘I defy you to find a single case of extra-judicial execution; I defy you to find a single case of torture’… I say to you that no war is ever won through terrorism. It’s that simple, because if you employ terrorism you earn the opposition, hatred and rejection of those whom you need in order to win the war. That’s why we had the support of over 90% of the population in Cuba”.

In the Soviet Union, however, Hitler’s fanaticism failed to recognize the benefits, both moral and emotional, of avoiding arbitrary murder. By engaging in a war of terror, the Nazis delegitimized their purported reason for arriving as “liberators”, which held no basis in reality.

Occasionally, Hitler overcame his ideological mindset by revealing unusual, contradictory viewpoints. On separate instances, he remarked that sections of the Soviet population were racially purer than even that of the Germans.

Even before his attack on Poland, Hitler had said,

“Today the Siberians, the White Russians, and the people of the steppes live extremely healthy lives. For that reason, they are better equipped for development and in the long run biologically superior to the Germans”.

When the war turned in Russia’s favor from early 1943 onward, it was an argument Hitler would put forward with growing consistency.

Previously, in late summer 1940, after the Wehrmacht had routed French armies in the west, Hitler predicted to his generals Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl that, “a campaign against Russia would be child’s play”.

It was a gross misjudgment of what lay ahead. The triumphs the Nazis had enjoyed, from autumn 1939 to the spring of 1941, cannot have been lost on Hitler as he watched German armies sweep to one easy victory after another. The apparent invulnerability of his soldiers emboldened Hitler, making him reckless and foolhardy. It also set a foundation for complacency.

During Albert Speer‘s time as the German armaments minister (1942-45), he oversaw a hugely productive war economy; however, by 1943, as Germany’s weapons industry soared it was by then too late. Speer lamented that his total war strategies had not been implemented from 1940 – he estimated that, utilizing these policies, the German war machine which attacked Russia could perhaps have been twice larger than it was in 1941.

Almost four million Nazi-led units marched eastwards in June 1941, supported by over 3,000 tanks and up to 5,000 aircraft. The Soviets had much greater numbers of both airplanes and tanks, though many models were at that stage of an inferior quality to their German rivals.

Hitler also allowed himself to be misled by faulty military intelligence underestimating Russian strength; he was swayed too by the Soviets’ dismal performance against Finland in the Winter War of 1939. When it came to defending their own soil, the Red Army would be a different proposition.

While Hitler was disregarding Russian capacities, he had forgotten the woes that befell Napoleon during his 1812 invasion of the motherland. The French emperor attacked Russia on 24 June 1812 with almost 700,000 men, then the largest force in history – as early as mid-October 1812 Napoleon was set in retreat, and by December he had lost about 500,000 soldiers. Siberian conditions gnawed away at French hearts, as the Russians fought bitterly, employing scorched earth tactics.

France’s invasion of Russia was the Napoleonic Wars’ bloodiest battle, a turning point whose outcome weakened French hegemony in Europe, while damaging Napoleon’s once infallible reputation. It was a lesson from history that Hitler failed to heed.

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

Featured image: OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch and Hitler study maps during the early days of Hitler’s Russian Campaign (Source: Publica Domain)