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[l] at 7/16/19 5:25am

Matt AGORIST

Tragically, in America, mass shootings — in which murdering psychopaths go on rampages in public spaces — have claimed the lives of 339 people since 2015. While this number is certainly shocking and far too high, during this same time frame, police in America have claimed the lives of 4,355 citizens.

While some of these citizens were armed and dangerous, others were innocent, unarmed, and include small children. Daniel Shaver was one of these people whose life was brought to a screeching halt as he begged on his knees for police not to shoot him. Despite being innocent and unarmed, this father of three was murdered in cold blood by Philip Brailsford who was never held accountable and allowed to retire from the police force with his pension.

Jeremy Mardis was another one of these citizens who was gunned down in cold blood by two killer cops. Mardis was just 6-years-old when he was murdered by these killer cops — one of whom was released last month after serving less than two years for his role in this innocent child’s death. 

The list goes on. Yet despite its increasing length, most American citizens think that reining in America’s deadly police problem is somehow “unpatriotic” or “un-American.” Instead of the right realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who can kill thousands with impunity, they blame the left. Instead of the left realizing the threat to freedom caused by cops who kill with impunity, most of them blame guns.

The result of this complacency and failure to address the problem has been less freedom and more gun grabs. 

Sadly, most people who call for gun control fail to realize what that actually means—only the government has the guns. And, if the above numbers are any indicator of what that would mean, this would be a horrific scenario.

Every time a lunatic, who is usually on some form mind-altering pharmaceutical, goes on a shooting rampage, the do-gooders in Washington, with the aid of their citizen flocks, take to the TV and the internet to call for disarming the American people.

The citizens who call for themselves and their neighbors to be disarmed, likely think no deeper than the shallow speeches given by the political blowhards, designed to appeal to emotion only. They do not think of what happens during and after the government attempts to remove guns from society. They also completely ignore the fact that criminals do not obey laws and making guns illegal would have zero effect on criminals possessing guns.

In the perfect statist world in which only the government has guns, we’re told that crime rates would plummet, people wouldn’t be murdered, gun violence would be brought to its knees, and a disarmed heaven on Earth would ensue. But how effective would disarming the citizens actually be at preventing gun violence, while at the same time keeping guns in the hands of government?

One simple way to determine the outcome to look at the above numbers and compare mass shootings in America with those killed by police. It is entirely too easy to compare all senseless murders carried out by the state to those carried out by citizens, so we will zoom in with a microscope.

However, just as a point of reference, in the 20th Century alonegovernments were responsible for 260,000,000 deaths worldwide. That number is greater than all deaths from illicit drug use, STD’s, Homicides, and Traffic Accidents — combined.

Now, on to the micro-comparison.

According to a comprehensive database of all American mass shootings that have taken place since 2015, constructed by Mother Jones, there have been exactly 339 deaths attributed to mass shootings that have taken place on American soil.

As Mother Jones notes, in their database, they exclude shootings stemming from more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence. Other news outlets and researchers have published larger tallies that include a wide range of gun crimes in which four or more people have been either wounded or killed. While those larger datasets of multiple-victim shootings may be useful for studying the broader problem of gun violence, our investigation provides an in-depth look at the distinct phenomenon of mass shootings—from the firearms used to mental health factors and the growing copycat problem.

If we compare the 339 citizens killed in mass shootings to citizens killed by police in the same time frame, the comparison is off the charts. We are talking about a 1,280 percent difference.

Already, in 2019, American police have killed 488 people. This number is set to increase by one, on average, every 8 hours. 

Since 2015, cops in America have killed 4,355 citizens. And most people are not saying anything about it.

As Truth Out recently reported:

The institutional racism rooted in American policing prevents the public from categorizing police shootings as gun violence, Natacia Knapper with Stop Police Terror Project DC explained to Truthout via email. “A large swath of people in our nation — white people in particular, but many others as well — don’t want to reckon with the horrors police have caused in communities of color because to do this would call into question the entire way we have viewed these systems and their roles in our society.” News media consumption, television shows and movies constantly reinforce the belief that policing is an irreplaceable institution keeping society safe and stable. Unlearning this “truth” is akin to unlearning that the Earth is round. Knapper continued, “For many Americans, I think it’s easier to compartmentalize the type of gun violence that comes from the police as “other” and incidents that result in the brutalizing and death of American citizens — Black, Brown or otherwise — are treated as individual instances that are not connected to a larger, overarching problem.” Police and the media exploit this divide when they describe the police violence victims’ unrelated criminal history or the victims’ possession of a gun or pocket knife, regardless of whether it was a factor during the killing. The underlying message is that the deceased deserved to die in order to keep everyone else safe.

As the blowhards spew their nonsense about grabbing guns from law-abiding citizens and those in government demand action, all of these people conveniently ignore the giant pink elephant in the living room — cops in America are killing citizens at an alarming rate.

Ironically enough, those calling for taking guns from citizens are often times the ones most critical of police killings. How, exactly, they rationalize disarming the citizens and having only police, who kill far more people than mass shooters, be the sole possessors of guns, is a mystery.

Indeed, Radley Balko sums up the mental gymnastics of both parties perfectly in regard to the distorted realities held as “truth.”

Red: “We need guns to protect us from the government. Also, it is unpatriotic to second-guess when armed government employees kill people.”

Blue: “The government has a history of racism and oppression. Guns are instruments of death. Only government employees should have guns.”

— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) November 9, 2017

In the United States, the overall homicide rate is 4.9 per 100,000 among the citizens.

Thanks to independent watchdog groups who have decided to document this number on their own, we have a total number of citizens killed by police. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.

The police kill rate is nearly 30 times that of the average citizen, yet somehow people still call for disarming citizens and say nothing about the police. And no, the citizens are not becoming more violent. In fact, humanity is at its safest time in history—ever—and, in spite of the lunatic terrorists shooting up public places, violent crimes as well as all crime continues to drop, significantly.

kill

The next time your friends try to tell you that citizens should be disarmed, tell them what that really means; they only want government, who has a history of racism and violence, who kill indiscriminately, with zero accountability, and far more often, to be the ones with guns.

thefreethoughtproject.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Human Rights, US]

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[l] at 7/16/19 5:20am

The Trump administration last week cut its fourth and biggest arms sale to Taiwan, sparking a furious condemnation from Beijing that the US was undermining its sovereignty and “grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs”.

The weapons deal reportedly worth some $2.2 billion is expected to be given final approval by Congress in the next few weeks. It follows three other major arms sales since 2017 to Taiwan conducted by the Trump administration.

Beijing slammed the latest military transaction as a “violation of international law and the One China policy” – the latter referring to the long-established US consensus with China that Taiwan island is under Beijing’s sovereignty.

Since the Chinese communist revolution in 1949 Taiwan has always been viewed as a renegade province by Beijing, having sheltered retreating anti-communist nationalist forces. Previous US administrations have sold weapons to Taiwan since 1979 when Washington and Beijing normalized diplomatic relations.

However, the Trump administration appears to be blatantly exploiting secessionist tensions between Taiwan and mainland China. By massively arming the island, there is a danger that Taiwanese separatists will feel emboldened to declare independence, a move which Beijing has always said would trigger it to deploy military force in order to assert its sovereignty.

China’s Global Times reported this week: “The latest US approval of arms sales to the island of Taiwan will hurt delicate China-US relations at a sensitive time when China and the US are to resume trade talks, and Taiwan secessionists should know that they are only being used as a card by the US… China and the US are stuck in a trade war and the US is playing all kinds of cards to create trouble and pressure China. Taiwan is one of them and nothing more.”

The dynamics over Taiwan have resonance with how the Trump administration has used sanctions to hamper commercial market access for Chinese tech giant Huawei, allegedly on the grounds of protecting US “national security”. There is also the suspicion that Washington and its Western allies have exploited political unrest in Hong Kong as another means to undermine Beijing’s sovereignty and meddle in China’s internal affairs. Trump’s dealings with Taiwan thus seem to be part of a broader tactic to antagonize and pressure China.

Last month, American media reported White House sources as saying that President Trump was deliberating using Taiwan as a “bargaining chip” in his trade dispute with China.

The timing of the latest arms sale comes only two weeks after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to strike an amicable agreement at the G20 summit to resolve the long-running trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Over the past year, Trump has been piling tariffs on Chinese exports in a bid to extract concessions from Beijing favoring American interests. China has responded with its own sanctions on US trade and appears unwilling to unilaterally accommodate Trump’s economic demands.

Selling weapons to Taiwan and inflaming nationalist tensions on the island would serve Trump’s negotiating agenda for making “America First” in his trade dispute with Beijing.

A look at the weapons being sold to Taiwan begs questions. The mainstay of the recent sale is an inventory for over 100 Abrams tanks. As Chinese military experts point out, these 60-ton vehicles are unsuited to Taiwan’s dense river network and weak roads. The strategic military value is therefore questionable. But the political value is immense, if the real purpose is to antagonize Beijing.

Moreover, the latest proposed purchase is unlikely to be the last. Earlier this year, the Taiwanese authorities requested to buy 66 F-16 fighter jets from the US. That deal was put on hold by the Trump administration seemingly to mitigate tensions with China over the ongoing trade war. If Trump doesn’t get the far-reaching economic concessions he is seeking from China, one can expect the sale of F-16 squadrons to be green lighted in another act of exerting leverage on Beijing.

The grave trouble is that Trump is recklessly provoking China by using Taiwan as a pawn. Already US warships have increased patrolling through the Strait of Taiwan, the narrow strip of sea separating it from the mainland. The Pentagon cynically calls these maneuvers “freedom of navigation” exercises.

By arming Taiwan with audacious weapons inventories, the danger is that secessionist politicians on the island will adopt a more belligerent position towards Beijing, feeling that they have Washington’s backing if a conflict were to break out.

Thus the Trump administration is shamelessly using Taiwan as a form of blackmail against China. The fiendish American logic is: “do as we say on trade policies or else expect more trouble in your own backyard.”

But in this pursuit, Trump is risking war with China from his egotistical desire to be the winner on trade. It’s a reprehensible reckless tactic that this president is using elsewhere with regard to Iran, Russia, Venezuela and anyone else whom Trump wants to roll over. It’s hardly smart business acumen. It’s simply criminal use of state terrorism as a negotiating technique.

[Category: Asia-Pacific, Security, War and Conflict, World, China, Taiwan, Trade War, Trump, US]

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[l] at 7/16/19 4:40am

At a July 9 speech to the 2nd Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, President Putin presented a brilliant intervention into the visionless anti-growth (and anti-human) ethic characteristic of the neo-liberal world order when he made Russia’s leadership in fusion energy a national priority.

Speaking to 2500 representative from the public and private sector, President Putin laid out the paradox of humanity’s need for development which has often come at the expense of the health of the biosphere by saying: “It is not yet clear how to combine long term development and production build up while preserving nature and high living standards”.

Attacking the anti-growth technocrats who are promoting a halt to progress and decrease of the world population, Putin said “it comes down to appeals to give up progress which will make it possible at best to perpetuate the situation and create local well-being for a select few. At the same time, millions of people will have to settle for what they have today, or it would be more appropriate to say what they don’t have today: access to clean water, food, education and other basics of civilization”.

Separating himself from that cynical worldview, Putin stated “it is impossible and pointless to try to stop human progress. The question is; which base can this progress realistically be built upon to achieve the millennium development goals set by the United Nations?” Answering his own question, Putin laid out the important role of fusion power as the foundation for a harmonization between the realm of nature (the biosphere) and the realm of creative reason (the technosphere): “super-efficient scientific, engineering and manufacturing solutions will help us establish a balance between the biosphere and the technosphere… fusion energy which in fact is similar to how heat and light are produced in our star, the sun, is an example of such nature-like technologies.”

Putin went onto describe the driving role of the Kurchatov Institute which has already begun a project on a fission-fusion hybrid reactors which will be operational by 2020 and its role in driving advanced science which will be a creative force for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program in France which is scheduled to go online with its first plasma by 2025.

The Recovery of a Forgotten Paradigm

Once upon a time, such speeches as Putin’s were a common thing in the west as scientific/technological progress was recognized as civilization’s basis of existence.

That was before the “new morality” was created in the wake of the 1968 sex-drugs-rock and roll counterculture. The “old obsolete paradigm of the nuclear family” which Woodstock sought to replace recognized the simple truth that “since we will all someday be dead, what good is our lives if we have not left something better for our children and those yet unborn?” This was the foundation for the faith in scientific and technological progress that animated mankind’s combat against fascism in WWII and the launching of humanity out of its limits by exploring space and the secrets of the atom.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss expressed this ethic brilliantly in 1958 when he said: “I hope to live long enough to see the same natural force which powers the hydrogen bomb tamed for peaceful purposes. A breakthrough could come tomorrow as well as a decade hence. Out of our laboratories may come a discovery as important as the Promethean taming of fire.”

Why have we not yet attained fusion?

The valid question yet remains: If statesmen and policy makers dominant during the post-WWII years believed in fusion power so deeply, why did we not attain those lofty objectives set down as national goals for fusion by the 1980s or earlier?

The simplest way to say it is that the Malthusians won.

The 1970s saw the west suffer a subtle coup d’état with the elimination of all nationalist leaders committed to defending their populations from the re-emergence of a financial oligarchy which had only recently failed to achieve world domination under Hitler and Mussolini. After the last bastion of resistance to this coup was killed with the murder of Bobby Kennedy and MLK in 1968, non-governmental organizations were quickly formed to usher in a new ethic under the rubric of the 1001 Club, Club of Rome, and World Wildlife Fund. These organizations were stacked with former eugenicists and imperialists like Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (founder of 1001 Nature Trust and Bilderberg Group), his friend Prince Philip Mountbatten, and Sir Julian Huxley. All three oligarchs were co-founders of the World Wildlife Fund.

These groups funded a new “science of limits” in order to promote the idea that mankind’s biggest threat was mankind itself rather than scarcity, war, famine or any other by-product of imperialism as was previously believed. Prince Philip embodied this elitist ethic unabashedly when he said in 1980 “Human population growth is probably the single most serious long-term threat to survival. We’re in for a major disaster if it isn’t curbed…We have no option.”

One early Malthusian who gained control of US policy making during this period was Henry Kissinger who moved the USA away from a policy of assisting former colonies’ desire for industrial progress and towards a policy of “population control” under his NSSM 200 Report of 1974 which said: “The US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries. That fact gives the US enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States… Although population pressure is obviously not the only factor involved, these types of frustrations are much less likely under conditions of slow or zero population growth.”

Kissinger was joined by another Malthusian named George Bush Sr., then a congressman chairing a Task Force on Earth, Resources and Population who said on July 8, 1970: “It is almost self-evident that the greater the human population, the greater the demands for natural resources… The paramount question deals with an optimum human population. How many is too many people in relation to available resources? Many believe that our current environmental problems indicate that the optimum level has been surpassed.”

As Sir Kissinger and Sir Bush (knighted in 1995 and 1993 respectively) re-wired America towards an aggressive anti-growth foreign policy for third world countries, a policy of de-industrialization was underway within America itself as the productive machine tool sector and small/medium agro-industrial system was being dismantled in preparation for an age of neo-liberal globalization. To ensure that the new ethic of “adapting to limits” rather than attempting to transcend those limits with new discoveries was maintained, such programs as the Apollo space program were cancelled for “budgetary reasons” followed soon thereafter by a conscious undermining of the ambitious fusion energy programs which had been unleashed during the 1950s and whose budget had risen from $114 million in 1958 to $140 million by 1968. The budget would continue to rise with record breaking achievements led by Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory which broke the 44 million degree mark to initiate fusion in 1978 and broke international records by achieving a 200 million degree plasma by 1986.

Rather than fund fusion and encourage the construction of new designs and prototypes so necessary to this transformation of society, the opposite occurred, as a systemic underfunding, and collapse of vision led to a demoralization of nuclear scientists who could not carry out their experiments. Quitting his job as Director of Fusion of the US Department of Energy in protest of the sabotage, Ed Kintner said this “leave[s] the fusion program without a strategic backbone—it is a collection of individual projects and activities without a defined mission or timetable… The plan to increase industry involvement in fusion development is postponed indefinitely, and the industrial and economic benefits of high-technology spin-offs, surely an increasingly important by-product of an accelerated fusion technology program, will be lost.”

Indicative of the dishonest philosophy used to justify America’s rejection of fusion research, one of the fathers of the neo-Malthusian revival Paul Ehrlich who authored the Population Bomb in 1968 said in a 1989 interview that providing cheap, abundant energy to humanity was “like giving a machine gun to an idiot child”.

A disciple and co-author of Ehrlich who went onto become “Science Czar” under Barak Obama was biologist John Holdren who wrote in 1969: “The decision for population control will be opposed by growth-minded economists and businessmen, by nationalistic statesmen, by zealous religious leaders, and by the myopic and well-fed of every description. It is therefore incumbent on all who sense the limitations of technology and the fragility of the environmental balance to make themselves heard above the hollow, optimistic chorus—to convince society and its leaders that there is no alternative but the cessation of our irresponsible, all-demanding, and all-consuming population growth.”

The Immanent Death of Malthusianism

President Putin has recently made the point during a June 27 interview with the Financial Times that the neo-liberal order which has defined the west over the past several decades is obsolete. With his strong support for fusion power and a return to a global industrial growth policy alongside China’s Belt and Road Initiative, President Putin has clearly identified the neo-Malthusian worldview as interwoven into the fabric of liberalism. Just as liberalism denies objective principled truths in favor of popular opinion, neo-Malthusianism can only thrive when a “consensus” of pessimism blinds its victims to the truth of humanity’s natural ability to make constant willful discoveries and translate said discoveries into new technologies that bring our species into ever greater states of potential (material, moral and cognitive).

While the Malthusian animal is committed to the belief that humanity may only adapt to scarcity under a closed system of fixed resources managed by privileged elites, humanists, like Putin and Xi Jinping, recognize that mankind’s nature is found not in the flesh, but in the powers of mind which characterize us as a unique species capable of making unending discoveries in a growing creative universe which can be characterized in the same manner that Beethoven described his music: as rigorous as it is free.

This simple statement reflects a powerful truth which liberals and Malthusians cannot stand: The universe’s natural power of creative change – discoverable by the matured power of creative reason allows for the co-existence of lawfulness and freedom under the sole condition that we harmonize our wills and reason to a love of truth and our fellow beings.

[Category: Society, Education, Energy, Neoliberalism, Putin, Russia]

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[l] at 7/16/19 4:25am

Aura BOGADO

The federal government is quietly expanding its use of shelters to house infants, toddlers and other young asylum-seekers. One Phoenix facility housed 12 children ages 5 and under, Reveal has learned, some as young as 3 months old, all without their mothers.

As part of this expansion, the government has designated three facilities to house newborns and unaccompanied teen mothers. Records obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting indicate a dozen children arrived at Child Crisis Arizona starting in mid-June, after it garnered a $2.4 million contract to house unaccompanied children through January 2022.

The kids, some of whom entered the facility as recently as Thursday and hail from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador and Brazil, are each living in Child Crisis without a parent.

It’s unclear where the children’s parents are located. Child Crisis didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. The Office of Refugee Resettlement told Reveal on Friday that it’s working on a response to our questions about the whereabouts of the children’s parents.

The revelations come as the government draws widespread and growing protest over the treatment of infants, children and adults in its care. As advocates and attorneys monitor overcrowding and inhumane conditions at existing locations, new government-financed facilities, run by three agencies within two federal departments, continue to pop up around the country.

Children in at least one of these shelters, which holds a newborn, have not been provided legal services. Meanwhile, hundreds of children at the Carrizo Springs emergency shelter just outside San Antonio are not receiving legal services stipulated under federal law, Reveal has learned.

In addition, Crisis Care Arizona, a nonprofit, was recently cited by state officials for deficiencies before the arrival of unaccompanied infants and toddlers. Inspectors from the Arizona Department of Health Services found hazardous conditions in one location in February, including a “tall floor lamp (that) was unstable and tipped forward easily when light pressure was applied,” as well as unsanitary toys and chipped paint in both the restrooms and outdoor play area.

In January, state monitors found several records for children in Child Crisis’ care lacked information about a parent or health care provider. State standards indicate that water in the sink next to the diaper-changing station should run between 86 degrees and 110 degrees to ensure that employees’ hands are properly disinfected. The sink at Child Crisis in January measured just 70 degrees.

Inspections at three Child Crisis locations in Phoenix and Mesa over the past three years revealed 37 violations, including a lack of drinking water for children in classrooms, a missing lid on a vessel containing soiled diapers, an incomplete first-aid kit, and “dried yellow-orange liquid splatters on the base of one toilet.”

Phoenix City Council member Carlos García said he’s concerned about the welfare of the children at the facility. “Because of the recent deaths and rampant abuse, sexual or otherwise, at the hands of this administration, we need to make sure these kids’ lives are a priority,” he said, adding that reunification with a parent or other family member should happen as soon as possible.

“For those who don’t have that option, we need community response to make sure these children are taken care of,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Bethany Children’s Home is housing 11 children, including an unknown number of infants, on its campus in Womelsdorf, Reveal has learned. Bethany Children’s Home was awarded a $3.5 million grant in late April to house unaccompanied children through early 2022.

The organization’s website says that its unaccompanied child population includes trafficking victims “ages infant through eighteen years of age (who) are in desperate need of a safe and appropriate shelter while seeking reunification with their family members.” The goal, according to the website, is to facilitate 65 new unaccompanied children.

Just weeks before Bethany Children’s Home was awarded its federal grant, a Philadelphia jury awarded the father of a 16-year-old $2.9 million after she took her own life while living at the facility – the result of a 12-day trial. And in January, a Bethany Children’s Home employee pleaded guilty to charges related to setting up a teen to be beaten by two others while on a school bus.

Inspection records issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in the last two years indicate a vast array of violations of state standards at the various homes that make up the Bethany Children’s Home campus. These include an allegation of sexual abuse by a staffer that wasn’t immediately reported to the state, problems with children’s medication logsand improper use of restraints – after a staffer placed a child into a restraint when the child was verbally aggressive and kicked a radiator.

Bethany Children’s Home requested that questions be submitted in writing but did not respond in time for publication.

Bethany Christian Services (not connected to the Pennsylvania facility), a Michigan-based provider that already contracts with the federal government to hold unaccompanied children, reopened a Modesto, California, facility last month that was once used as a home for women with unplanned pregnancies.

The state of California has licensed the group home to hold 12 children, and it’s currently holding four minors: two teenage parents and two babies. One of the infants is just 2 weeks old and was born in the United States, making the child a U.S. citizen in the custody of the federal refugee agency.

* * *

As the government expands its use of facilities to shelter children, it has not apparently kept up with federally mandated obligations to provide legal services to these asylum-seekers.

Under the federal law known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the refugee agency must provide vulnerable children in its custody access to legal services. On its website, the agency states that these mandated services include visits with the client and advocating in the child’s best interest.

Bethany Christian Services says the first unaccompanied child arrived at its home in Modesto last month, on June 29. A few days later, on July 4, the refugee agency provided the children with a know-your-rights presentation, produced as either a video or slide presentation, along with a written packet that’s required for unaccompanied children in shelter.

It wasn’t until this week, on July 8, that Bethany says it was in touch with a legal service provider that could furnish the children in Modesto with federally mandated legal services. It’s unknown whether these children have been directly connected with individualized legal services yet. Any delay in legal services could harm a child’s ability to get immigration relief.

In the Carrizo Springs emergency shelter just outside San Antonio, where hundreds of children are being kept, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, better known as RAICES, said the Office of Refugee Resettlement hasn’t yet given it clearance to provide legal services for children.

Jonathan Ryan, RAICES CEO, said the law is designed to protect children who have been placed in proceedings to be deported.

“That’s the case for kids in Carrizo,” he said. “There’s already been cases scheduled for court.”

The shelter has been open for two weeks, but the refugee agency hasn’t authorized a contract for legal services there, Ryan said.

The agency said it’s working on a response to our inquiry about the lack of legal services provided at various facilities in its contracted shelter network.

The news comes as the Trump administration last month ordered the refugee agency to stop funding certain education, recreational and legal aid for children in the agency’s care.

Ryan said RAICES plans to go to the shelter on Tuesday with a team, with or without a contract.

“These kids need lawyers,” he said.

truthdig.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Migration, US]

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[l] at 7/16/19 3:55am

As Washington’s military-industrial octopus continues to thrive, and US troops and nuclear-armed aircraft and submarines and aircraft carrier groups are tentacled ever further, deeper and higher round the world, there has been an unpleasant upset between London and Washington. This resulted in even more grovelling to the US by the likely next prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson.

The basics of the story are simple, in that there was a leak of communications from the British ambassador in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, to the Foreign Office in London. In these he referred to Trump in less than flattering terms and was as perceptive in his observations as might be expected from an experienced and most civilised diplomat.

An inquiry was begun into how the leak came about, and the Daily Mail informed its readers that “the Foreign Office is considering whether Russia hacked Sir Kim to unveil messages that would ‘cause maximum embarrassment and harm’ to officials on both sides of the pond. They believe hackers could have launched a cyber attack to obtain files and damage UK-US relations.”

Sure, the Mail is a celeb-obsessed, rabble-rousing, semi-porno rag, but that’s why it is read by a daily million people. The leak was published initially in The Mail on Sunday, but the trouble for these papers, and their stablemate UK tripe-trotters the Sun and Mirror and so forth, is that they are now caught between their desire to rubbish and condemn honourable professionals like Sir Kim Darroch, their need to find a suitable leak culprit (the Russia absurdity was impossible to pursue), and their anxiety to support somebody who is popular with their readers.

One of the more asinine Mail columnists went so far as to attack Sir Kim himself, as if that were justification for Trump’s determination to insult a distinguished diplomat and vilify the country he represented. The commentator, called Littlejohn, sneered at Sir Kim because he lives “at taxpayers’ expense in one of the most luxurious embassies in Washington,” which is one of the most pathetic ways of attacking public figures serving their nation with the dignity and dedication that dregs such as Littlejohn could not even approach.

Which brings us back to Boris Johnson, who is himself a weekly columnist, paid £275,000/$345,000 a year by the Daily Telegraph. He is devoid of common-sense and decorum, and, as observed by Sam Knight of the New Yorker in June, his two year term as Foreign Secretary “was punctuated by moments of idiocy” while a BBC documentary shown last November “captured Johnson as a distracted, agenda-free buffoon.” He’s obviously the right person to be prime minister of the United Kingdom.

In no manner was his idiocy made clearer than by his recent treatment of Ambassador Darroch, because he does not understand that in the military and the civil service there is a long-standing tradition of Loyalty. No matter what subordinates may do or fail to do, their superior officers back them to the hilt in public. In private, of course, there can be ferocious disciplinary action — but the world must be made aware that the very backbone, the ultimate essence of the entire system of public service rests on the principle of loyalty, up, down and sideways, for without it, nothing can ever be achieved.

And Boris Johnson, by his refusal to support Sir Kim Darroch, has shown that he is unfit to hold any government position. But he is going to be prime minister of the United Kingdom because his electorate are 160,000 Conservative Party members who support Johnson as their sort of man: a disloyal “distracted, agenda-free buffoon.”

The reason Johnson was so disloyal to a distinguished diplomat is that he wishes to curry favour with Trump, the man whose ability was accurately described by Sir Kim Darroch in his observation that “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

This sparked fury in the dysfunctional Trump who reacted by disparaging Darroch as “not liked or well thought of . . .” and the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey reported him as tweeting “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.” In another tweet he added “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not well liked or well thought of within the US. We will no longer deal with him.”

As usual, when placed in an awkward situation, Trump had told lies, and Josh Dawsey noted that far from “not knowing” the ambassador, he had “sat across from Darroch during the annual St. Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill in March, inquiring about Brexit and bragging of his strong political standing. Trump interacted with Darroch on a number of occasions in London and Washington.” We are drawn to the sorry conclusion that if the current President of the United States told us the time of day while a clock was striking we would be well-advised to listen to the number of chimes to judge if he was lying or being truthful.

Johnson has many character deficiencies in common with Trump, having the morals of a roving alley-cat on testosterone, and as versified by a former journalist colleague, “Boris told such dreadful lies / It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.” And the eyes stretch further when one considers that he didn’t offer even token criticism of the President’s tweets insulting Britain and its ambassador. Last year Johnson declared he was “increasingly admiring” of Trump, which sentiment was reciprocated by Trump’s glowing statement that “I think Boris would do a very good job [as prime minister]. I think he would be excellent. I like him. I have always liked him… I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person” and “very positive about me and our country”.

This love-fest will continue just for so long as Britain bows the colonial knee to its overlord, but the moment the Whitehall warriors appear to be seeking in independent path, there will be an end to “increasing admiration” and a Trumpian tweet series of poisonous malignity.

In the Persian Gulf on July 3 three small Iranian patrol boats sailed near an oil tanker, the British Heritage. There was panic over-reaction, but what was not widely-reported was that “media briefing about British Heritage, and the intervention by HMS Montrose, which warded off the Iranian boats by aiming its guns at them, came originally from the US, and not the Ministry of Defence.”

Think about this. The operational deployment (albeit totally unnecessary) of a major British warship was notified to the world by Washington and not London. That’s where the so-called “special relationship” is placed in perspective.

Britain is on the verge of a disastrous withdrawal from the European Union and desperately seeking trade partners. The President of the United States says he is concerned about the Brexit debacle and on July 9 tweeted that “The wacky ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled. I told her how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way – was unable to get it done. A disaster! I don’t know the ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best economy and military anywhere in the world, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger.”

Keep bowing, Johnson Britain, or Trump will cut you off at the knees. The United Kingdom is plunging from soap opera to dope opera.

[Category: Americas, Europe, World, Johnson, Trump, UK]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 7/15/19 5:25am

T.J. COLES

As we know, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are bought, sold, and paid for by big business. For that reason, both have a history of avoiding the issues that are common to Americans of all political persuasions. Addressing such issues would undermine the profits of big business. They include free healthcare, living wages, quality work, secure pensions, unionization, etc.

In order to protect the profits of their business investors, both parties focus on the cultural differences between Americans. As campaigning for the election 2020 gets underway, we can expect the Trump-led Republican Party to increase its inflammatory nonsense in a deliberate effort to mobilize right-wing voters. We can also expect the culturally “liberal” mainstream media to happily take the bait and make Trump’s cultural illiberalism a big issue. As mega-corporations, they also want to avoid real issues.

Until Trump came along, the Republican Party whipped up support among Evangelical Christians by appealing to “moral” issues like abortion (as if free healthcare, for instance, isn’t a moral issue). Because Trump obviously isn’t a Christian, it would have been harder to sell him to Evangelical voters were it not for his platform of Islamophobia. Trump’s cultural provocations are used as a weapon to motivate Republican voters and conceal his egregious economic policies, like Executive Order 13772 on Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System, which seeks to further liberalize damaging financial markets.

Equally, in an effort to avoid core economic issues, establishment Democrats have traditionally appealed to cultural progressiveness, like gay rights.

MORAL DIFFERENCES

Morality is common to all human groups. But the precise expression of morality differs from culture to culture. The subjective and variable nature of morality and values makes it easy to use as a tool with which to manipulate voters.

In 2006, Gallup conducted a survey. The results suggested that 71% of Americans believed that the death penalty is morally acceptable, as is using human stem cells for medical research (61%), sex between unmarried people (59%), doctor-assisted suicide (50%), homosexuality (44%), abortion (43%), and suicide (15%). But when the data are extrapolated for political affiliation, differences emerge. Sixty-three percent of Democrats think that the death penalty is acceptable, 69% stem cell research, 65% premarital sex, 53% abortion, 53% homosexuality, 53% doctor-assisted suicide, and 18% suicide. Compare these figures on moral acceptability to Republicans: Death penalty 82%, stem cell research 53%, premarital sex 50%, abortion 30%, homosexuality 36%, doctor-assisted suicide 45%, and suicide 12%.

Just a year before, Glaeser et al. stated that attracting the average voter yields “high” electoral “returns.” As this is the case, they asked an important question: why political candidates take extreme positions (and remember, this is long before Trump). They refer to this political policy as “strategic extremism.” By 2005, religious attendance (overwhelmingly Christian) was as good a predictor of Republicanism as income. Interestingly, income as a predictor of Republican allegiance has been predictable since the 1960s, but religious fundamentalism as a predictor has grown in the same period. It is worth recalling that the late-1960s, but particularly into the 1970s, the US economy was deregulated by both Democrats and Republicans, leading to a decline in wages and the middle-class. Voter turnout among the highly religious increased by seven percentage points between 1976 and 1984, during which time Reagan’s managers fanaticized the Republican Party.

Glaeser et al. explain: “a politician deviating from the median will gain more from energizing his own supporters than he loses by further alienating his opponent’s supporters [sic].” On the abortion issue, the Democrats have moved further left since the 1970s (meaning that their position has been to side with the mother) and the Republicans moved further right (meaning that their position has been to preserve the embryo/foetus/baby no matter what). Team Trump didn’t explicitly try to mobilize the Christian right, though they did implicitly by standing on an anti-Islamic platform. Instead, they mobilized the amorphous alt-right: disenfranchised, usually-wealthy but not super-wealthy voters who considered the Republicans too left-wing. Reaching for the far-right in a country of moderates may seem counterintuitive, until we understand how small statistical shifts can result in significant, aggregate changes.

STRATEGIC EXTREMISM IN ACTION

The comparative secularization of Trump’s main Presidential campaign didn’t affect voter turnout. Pew reports that “white born-again or evangelical Christians and white Catholics, strongly supported Donald Trump,” slightly down from Bush in 2004 but slightly up from Romney the Mormon in 2012.

It is doubtful that many Americans who voted Trump actually voted for his Islamophobic, misogynistic caricature. Trump voters tended to be in the middle-to-upper-income bracket (regardless of gender and ethnicity) and were simply voting in their own economic and class interests. But Trump’s outrageous behavior generated media attention, which was good for the media because it boosted ratings. It was good for Trump’s campaign because the Democratic opposition was emotionally triggered by Trump’s antics and ended up looking hysterical instead of responding rationally. The Democrats had little choice because, having gotten rid of Bernie Sanders, the Democratic machine produced Hillary Clinton whose mandate was, like Trump’s, to avoid real issues. It was good for Trump because the more the “liberal” media hated his illiberalism, the more he could rally the support of his core voters who saw him as a political rebel battling the PC establishment.

Being a showman, Trump understands that attention is everything and ideology is nothing. Trump’s book The Art of the Deal (1987) reads: “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach” (p. 50); “even a critical story, which can be very hurtful personally, can be very valuable to your business” (p. 51); “if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you” (p. 56); “I play to people’s fantasies” (p. 58).

After Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon was fired or quit, he gave an interview to 60 Minutes, in which he confirmed that Trump’s illiberalism was designed to throw the opposition into psychological confusion, allowing Team Trump to gain the advantage. The “smart” Democrats, says Bannon, stuck to economic issues on the campaign, while Hillary Clinton played identity politics, which most Americans didn’t care about because almost no one sees themselves as racist (even if they are). “President Trump triggers—triggers—the left and they can’t handle it rationally and so long as they can’t handle it rationally, they’re not going to defeat him,” said Bannon.

Bannon’s alt-right followers only become significant demographically in the context elections because of small statistical changes in macro-systems, especially ones aided by an electoral college system. In an election such John McCain vs. Barack Obama, the alt-right wouldn’t have mattered: Obama had a higher approval rating (52%) than McCain (46%), and after eight years of a disastrous Bush presidency, Americans were hoping for change (Hope and Change). However, by 2016, Hillary Clinton represented more of the same. Most Americans knew Trump would be even worse than Clinton, so they reluctantly voted for Clinton. But just enough mobilized Republicans and far-righters were motivated to sway the election to Trump. In this respect, the alt-right becomes significant. The mainstream media, who overwhelmingly backed Clinton, did much to boost the profile of the otherwise obscure alt-right.

CONCLUSION

With the new socialistic Left gaining traction within the Democratic establishment, the 2020 campaign might see a greater focus on issues of the kind currently on display in the Democratic nomination rounds. This is unlikely because the Democratic Party machine will strive to filter out any challenge to corporate power, instead giving Americans an establishment figure like Creepy Joe “Nothing will change” Biden. We can expect a ramping up of Trump’s strategic extremism in concert with establishment Democratic slogans like “Make America Moral Again” or, more hopefully, a focus on real issues if a socialistic candidate does successfully battle the Party machinery.

counterpunch.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Bannon, Corporate Media, Democratic Party, Gallup, Republican Party, Trump]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 7/15/19 5:00am

First of all, everyone should read this:

“The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing US Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story”.

It is important background for understanding what follows, because the following helps to explain what is displayed in that brilliant prior article:

News has slowly been getting out that the British Government’s account of the poisoning of the Skripals is a fabrication which had been done in order to escalate hostilities against Russia, and that when information from Democratic Party and Clinton campaign computers subsequently became either leaked or hacked to Wikileaks, the Democratic National Committee hired, in order to investigate that, British contractors who were also involved in the Skripal fraud, and Skripal himself might have been a crucial part of the Russiagate-Trump operation. Russiagate — the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government — resulted from this DNC-UK team. There was collusion, but it was between the US Government (then under Obama) and the UK Government (under Cameron and then May), directed against Trump, and not actually between candidate Trump and the Russian Government, directed against Clinton. The present report summarizes the gradual making-public of this actual history.

Developing that case about the real collusion has been and is a remarkably slow process, because the evidence in the real case requires extensive expertise in order to understand and interpret correctly the relationships between the people who were involved in it. So: the following summary encapsulates those relationships; and, at all points, it will link directly to the reports by the courageous investigative journalists who have participated in making public parts of what is, effectively, a key component of the history of the US Obama Administration’s collusion with the UK Government in order to cripple — and having the aim to overthrow — Trump’s US Government, in the event that Trump would win the 2016 US Presidential contest, as he did. (Perhaps the main reason for this manufactured case against Trump was that Trump had publicly criticised NATO, and that doing this, by any US Presidential candidate who has a real chance of winning his or her Party’s nomination, is prohibited by the Deep State — the rulers of both Parties, and of both US and UK.)

Throughout this peeling-off (thus far) of the layers of this onion that’s behind both the Skripal fraud and the Russiagate fraud, the case became progressively stronger that the US and UK Governments were actually colluding together, in order to prevent any possibility that the Cold War would end on the US-and-allied side, as it had decades earlier ended only on Russia’s side in 1991. All of this has been done so to keep in place the myth that when Russia ended the Cold War on its side in 1991, the US and its allies likewise ended it on their side, instead of secretly proceeded forward on their side of the Cold War (as they have done), their ultimate aim being to gradually isolate and then take control of Russia’s Government, and thereby emerge with incontestable control over the entire planet, the first and only globally all-encompassing empire, a dictatorial government of the entire world — any imperialistic regime’s dream — an unchallengeable rule over everyone. Both the Skripal set-up and the Russiagate-Trump scam (and the cover-ups of both) were parts of that broader international operation.

PEELING THE ONION

——————

Layer 1:

On 8 May 2018, David Allan Miller of the University of Bath in England headlined at Spinwatch, “Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair”, and he posted, and then commented upon, a leaked email that the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) office had distributed to all of UK’s major news-media, which started:

From: DSMA Secretary <secretary@dsma.uk>

Date: 7 March 2018

Subject: URGENT FOR ALL EDITORS – DEFENCE AND SECURITY MEDIA ADVISORY (DSMA) NOTICE

To: DSMA Secretary <secretary@dsma.uk>

Private and Confidential: Not for Publication, Broadcast or for use on Social Media

TO ALL EDITORS

The issue surrounding the identity of a former MI6 informer, Sergei Skripal …

You can see the full notice here. It instructs all of the major news-media to hide “the identifies [identities] of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal.” This, of course, would include the name of his MI6 handler, Skripal’s MI6 boss.

David Miller then went on to summarize the evidence:

On the evening of 6 March [2018] a Russian opposition news outlet Meduza, styling itself ‘Russia’s free press in exile’, published a long piece on Skripal in English. [Dr. Miller didn’t link to it, but it is dated “March 6, 2018” and opens “On March 4, a 66-year-old former colonel in Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate was hospitalized in critical condition in Salisbury, England,” and that Meduza article can be seen here.] Citing a variety of online sources including in Russian, some from over a decade old, identifying Pablo Miller as the MI6 agent inside the Estonian embassy who had recruited Sergei Skripal. By the next afternoon, the notice [on 7 March] was issued to the mainstream media. The Telegraph was the first mainstream outlet to discuss – in discreet and decorous terminology – the connection between Skripal and a ‘security consultant’ who is ‘understood to have known him for some time’ and ‘is also based in Salisbury’. … The Telegraph reported that the ‘consultant’ worked at the same company (Orbis Business Intelligence) that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump and Russia – paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention. The consultant was, as we now know, Pablo Miller, who had ‘known’ Skripal in the specific sense that he was his MI6 handler. Some, such as Guardian journalist Luke Harding, have suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, but this seems to be false. …

The notice helps to encourage the climate of anti-Russian hysteria implying that investigative reporting on this matter that might discuss British intelligence is in effect Russian propaganda. This is a nice illustration of David Leigh’s phrase from nearly 40 years ago: ‘the obverse of the secrecy coin is always propaganda’.

It is a standing rebuke to the notion that journalism should question power, that 15 senior media people should agree to sit on this censorship committee. As well as the BBC, ITV, ITN and Murdoch’s Sky News, representing broadcasters, there are a variety of representatives from the broadsheet and tabloid press, regional and Scottish newspapers and magazines and publishing – including two News UK and Harper Collins, (both owned by Murdoch) as well as Trinity Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Guardian. On the government side of the committee are the chair from the MoD and four intelligence connected representatives from the MoD (Dominic Wilson, Director General Security Policy), Foreign Office (Lewis Neal, Director for National Security), Home Office (Graeme Biggar, unspecified post in the OSCT) and Cabinet Office (Paddy McGuinness, Deputy National Security Adviser for Security, Intelligence, and Resilience).

The DSMA [Defence and Security Media Advisory] committee likes to cultivate the impression that it is a rather uninteresting committee that is, as a former vice chair of the committee (a journalist) put it, ‘is emphatically not censorship… but voluntary, responsible media restraint’. Then working at Sky News, that vice chair, Simon Bucks, is now CEO at the Services Sound and Vision Corporation, the broadcasting service which says it is ‘championing the Armed Forces’. Bucks also wrote [in the Guardian] that the DSMA committee is ‘the most mythologised and misunderstood institution in British media. … ‘Slapping a D-notice’ on something the establishment wanted suppressed has been the stuff of thrillers, spy stories and conspiracy theories for more than a century.”

This is a typical deception used regularly by defenders of the British system of censorship.

——————

Layer 2:

This comes from Ludwig De Braeckeleer:

“Salisbury Incident — UK Media silenced by D-Notices Over Skripal Affair”

Posted on May 10, 2018 [two days after David Miller’s article, and adding context to it]

Quick Analysis

In the aftermath of the Skripal incident, the UK government moved quickly to ‘protect’ the identity of Sergei Skripal as well as the identity of his former MI6 handler Pablo Miller who happens to live near Salisbury.

On March 7, the first D-Notice was issued, but their names had already been revealed.

At the same time, a few journalists planted false information regarding Pablo Miller and Orbis, the private Intel company that became famous because of the infamous dossier Chris Steele compiled on Trump’s Russiagate.

On March 8, Gordon Corera tweeted that his sources were certain that no link exists between Skripal and Orbis or Chris Steele.

On the same day, Luke Harding suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, which is obviously untrue. Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his LinkedIn profile.

So, this much is certain. The UK government has quickly moved to black out the identity of Pablo Miller and his connections to both Sergei Skripal and Orbis.

In 2017, a D-Notice was already issued against British journalists revealing the identity of the Trump’s Dossier author (Chris Steele).

Multiple British outlets ignored this advice and revealed his name anyway, including BBC News, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

The use of a D-Notice is not a rare event. But it is not used very frequently either.

I believe that a couple of such notices have been issued annually on average in the UK over the last ten years. And we KNOW that at least three of these notices were issued in connection with the Skripal and Orbis Affair(s?). Stay tuned!

REFERENCES

Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair — SpinWatch

The DSMA notices can be found here:

DSMA notice 7 March 2018

DSMA notice 14 March 2018

——————

Layer 3

On 19 March 2018, the anonymous “Moon of Alabama” blogger headlined “No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury” and was perhaps the first person to put it all together:

Is this third person the MI6 agent Pablo Miller who in 1995 recruited Skripal as British double agent. Miller who was also involved in handling the MI6 assets Boris Berezovski and Alexander Litvinenko. Pablo Miller who lives close to Sergej Skripal in Salisbury and is considered to be his friend? The same Pablo Miller who worked with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence which created the ‘dirty dossier’ about Donald Trump? How deep were the Skripals involved in making up the fake stories in the anti-Trump dossier for which the Clinton campaign paid more than $168,000. Did the Skripals threaten to talk about the issue? Is that why the incident [the poisoning] happened?

——————

Layer 4

On 5 July 2019, Aaron Maté issued his enormous study, “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”, which points out that:

There is also reason to question CrowdStrike’s impartiality. Its co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the preeminent Washington think tank [NATO’s PR agency, actually] that aggressively promotes a hawkish posture towards Russia. CrowdStrike executive Shawn Henry, who led the forensics team that ultimately blamed Russia for the DNC breach, previously served as assistant director at the FBI under Mueller.

And CrowdStrike was hired to perform the analysis of the DNC servers by Perkins Coie – the law firm that also was responsible for contracting Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that produced the now discredited Steele dossier alleging salacious misconduct by Trump in Russia and his susceptibility to blackmail.

——————

Layer 5

On 31 August 2017, Scott Ritter issued his “DUMBSTRUCK: a HomeFront Intelligence Report on how America was conned about the DNC hack”, which described how

the DNC prohibited the US Government from having access to the evidence, and instead went directly to the major ‘news’-media in order to (mis)inform the public what had happened:

At first the DNC tried to get the FBI to make the attribution call, figuring that it would garner more attention coming from the US government. But when the FBI wanted full access to the DNC server so that it could conduct a full forensic investigation, the DNC balked. Instead, after meeting with Alperovitch and Henry, the DNC and CrowdStrike devised a strategy to take the case to the public themselves. Alperovitch prepared a formal technical report that singled out the Russians for attribution. When it was ready, the DNC invited in a reporter from the Washington Post named Ellen Nakashima, who was given exclusive access to senior DNC and CrowdStrike personnel for an above-the-fold, front-page article. … The Post article, published on the morning of June 14, 2016, went viral, with nearly every major media outlet.

——————

Layer 6

On 11 June 2019, Matt Kennard posted a long string of tweets:

https://twitter.com/DCKennard/status/1138493594728304640

Matt Kennard [abbreviated here]

@DCKennard

Guardian’s deputy editor @paul__johnson joined state censorship D-Notice committee (run by MOD) after Snowden revelations in sop to British spooks. In board minutes, they thank him for being “instrumental in re-establishing links” between UK mil/intel and Guardian. Explains a lot

10:09 AM – 11 Jun 2019

Matt Kennard

@DCKennard

Who was @carolecadwalla’s “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence” who fed her clear disinformation? (Mueller report makes clear Podesta/DNC leaks transmitted digitally). Since Snowden, intel agencies have used Guardian/Obs to launder their disinformation operations.

Matt Kennard

@DCKennard

Guardian dep ed @paul__johnson joins D-Notice comm for 1st meeting at MOD in 2014. Air Vice-Marshal Vallance reports relationship w/ Guardian has “continued to strengthen”. Alongside Air Commodore Adams and Brigadier Dodds he’s now in “regular dialogues” w/ “Guardian journalists”

12 Jun 2019

——————

CONCLUSION

So: not only was it “Pablo Miller as the MI6 agent inside the Estonian embassy who had recruited Sergei Skripal,” but “In the aftermath of the Skripal incident, the UK government moved quickly to ‘protect’ the identity of Sergei Skripal as well as the identity of his former MI6 handler Pablo Miller who happens to live near Salisbury.” MI6 was covering its tracks. And, “At the same time, a few journalists planted false information regarding Pablo Miller and Orbis, the private Intel company that became famous because of the infamous dossier Chris Steele compiled on Trump’s Russiagate.” And, “Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence.” And, “Orbis Business Intelligence … compiled the controversial [MI6 Christopher Steele] dossier on Donald Trump and Russia – paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention [Democratic National Committee]. The consultant was, as we now know, Pablo Miller, who had ‘known’ Skripal in the specific sense that he was his MI6 handler.” And, “CrowdStrike was hired to perform the analysis of the DNC servers by Perkins Coie – the law firm that also was responsible for contracting Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that produced the now discredited Steele dossier alleging salacious misconduct by Trump in Russia and his susceptibility to blackmail.” And, “At first the DNC tried to get the FBI to make the attribution call, figuring that it would garner more attention coming from the US government. But when the FBI wanted full access to the DNC server so that it could conduct a full forensic investigation, the DNC balked. Instead, after meeting with Alperovitch and Henry, the DNC and CrowdStrike devised a strategy to take the case to the public themselves.” And, “Since Snowden, intel agencies have used Guardian/Obs to launder their disinformation operations.”

Masterful. The Obama-Clinton DNC and MI6, and their hired private contractors, worked together to frame Russia for both the Skripal poisonings and the Trump victory.

And yet, key questions remain unanswered: “How deep were the Skripals involved in making up the fake stories in the anti-Trump dossier for which the Clinton campaign paid more than $168,000. Did the Skripals threaten to talk about the issue? Is that why the incident [their poisoning] happened?” There is the possibility that the Skripals’ poisoning was an inside job, by a contractor, for the UK and/or US Governments.

Not to mention other questions: Why are the Skripals still prohibited from speaking to the press and from answering questions in a court? After all, Boris Johnson, who is likely soon to be UK’s Prime Minister, lied, and repeatedly, in order to allege that UK’s Porton Down intelligence lab had identified Russia as the source of the poison: “Asked how the British government could be so sure Russia was behind the attack, Johnson deferred to ‘the people from Porton Down,’ who he said were ‘absolutely categorical.’” And here’s how corrupt he is.

But the historical background of this entire matter — both Skripal and Trump-Russiagate — is obvious: MI6 is Britain’s equivalent to America’s CIA. That was Obama’s CIA. This was entirely a MI6-CIA disinformation campaign, which was an extension from Obama’s (and the UK Government’s) participation in US President G.H.W. Bush’s decision, on 24 February 1990, to continue the Cold War until Russia becomes swept up in, controlled by the US And Britain’s Guardian served the Deep State as the core conduit for disinformation to the public on this particular operation (Russiagate-Trump — Obama’s operation to make irreversible Obama’s public restoration (most obvious in Ukraine) of the Russia-is-America’s-top-enemy meme), for and on behalf of the Deep State, so as to continue G.H.W. Bush’s Cold War, inside the US — never to reverse it, until ‘victory’ is achieved.

The “special relationship” between the US and UK (CIA and MI6) is obviously to assist each other in deceiving the other’s public. (Not only did MI6 participate in deceiving UK’s public to fear and despise Putin, but it was crucial in deceiving the US public that Trump was Putin’s stooge.)

On 21 March 2016, the Washington Post had headlined “Trump questions need for NATO, outlines noninterventionist foreign policy” and reported:

“I do think it’s a different world today, and I don’t think we should be nation-building anymore,” Trump said. “I think it’s proven not to work, and we have a different country than we did then. We have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting, probably, on a bubble. And it’s a bubble that if it breaks, it’s going to be very nasty. I just think we have to rebuild our country.”

He added: “I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’re blown up. We build another one, we get blown up. We rebuild it three times and yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn. We have no money for education because we can’t build in our own country. At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves?’ So, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that. But at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially the inner cities.”

Five days later, the New York Times bannered “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views” and reported his saying, “NATO is obsolete” because it “was set up to talk about the Soviet Union. Now of course the Soviet Union doesn’t exist now.” How would the controlling owners of corporations such as Lockheed Martin — and extractive international US corporations such as ExxonMobil — feel about that? NATO has produced a significant portion of Lockheed’s sales, and of Exxon’s access to other nations’ natural resources. That sort of thing — enforcement and extension of empire — is NATO’s real purpose. And it didn’t end when the USSR’s communism, and Warsaw Pact, did in 1991.

The Skripal poisonings had occurred earlier that same month, March 2016. And the DNC went to the very same UK operators that UK did in order to frame Russia for Skripal’s poisoning — but now to place that Russian frame around Trump’s face. All of this was part of the US empire’s decision, which had been made on 24 February 1990, to conquer Russia.

In the timeline of events leading up to the DNC’s hiring of its investigators, we also have this, in 2016,

29 April: The DNC discovers the penetration of its servers by unknown hackers. An emergency meeting is called between Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (DNC Chief Executive), Amy Dacey (DNC Technology Director), Andrew Brown, and Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for Perkins Coie. Sussmann is a former federal prosecutor for the DOJ whose expertise is computer crime. …

4 May: Five days after first discovering the server penetration at the DNC, Michael Sussmann – of Perkins Coie – finally calls CrowdStrike to arrange for analysis of the problem.

In other words: Sussman wanted to privatize the ‘investigation’ instead of to hand to the FBI control over it, which would have given the FBI subpoena-power to require the DNC to provide to the FBI access to their computers — the actual evidence which was in their posession on their end of the case. Even the Special Counsel, Robwrt Miller, had no access to that crucial evidence.

Furthermore, Aaron Maté’s painstakingly thorough analysis of the entire Mueller Report, on July 5th, showed “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”; and, so, even regarding the allegations that Mueller makes against Russia (not merely regarding whether Trump was colluding with Russia), Mueller’s Report was trash — extremely unreliable and untrustworthy. Mueller has a long history as being a Deep State agent.

And through all of this has been the US and UK Governments’ imprisoning-without-trial Julian Assange — for many years including the part that was spent at the Ecuadorean Embassy — and never even negotiating with Assange for him to answer questions under oath such as “Did that information come to you physically via a thumb-drive or instead purely by electronic transmission?” “Did Craig Murray bring it to You?” They’d rather kill Assange or keep him incommunicado in prison for life, than to do that. Why? And Trump, himself, is part of this, no less than Obama was. Obviously, both Presidents serve the same Deep State (even though they serve different billionaires in it).

This, at least, is a credible scenario. There is no evidence for the PR’d one, regarding either Skripal or Russiagate-Trump. There are accusations, but no case, for those.

——————

NOTE: In the current hyper-partisan American political climate, when a vast majority of the supporters of each of the two Parties hates the opposite Party so much as to be closed-minded — blinded to the reality of their own Party’s evilness, and to its incessant lying and cover-ups — I should make clear that there is nothing in this article that is, at all, supportive toward either Party. My personal view is that, ever since at least 1981, only Deep State controlled people have lived in the US White House and controlled Congress. As a group, they have perpetrated incalculable harm (such as this) to the entire world. Their only masters have been America’s billionaires. America certainly is a dictatorship, no democracy — it represents only its hundreds of billionaires and their millions of agents, no public at all. The two Parties represent the two factions into which America’s aristocracy have divided themselves. Neither represents the public. Each represents only a faction of America’s billionaires. A democracy cannot consist merely of contending factions of the aristocracy. That’s not a democracy. It’s like almost all other dictatorships throughout history. But the vast majority of Americans refuse even to consider this scientifically proven fact, that America is a dictatorship, not a democracy. For example: recently, a Democratic Party propaganda site, the Daily Beast, headlined “Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia”, and the law-professor who wrote it ignored the much deeper criticisms that Maté’s article leveled against the Mueller Report. A prominent Democratic Party propaganda site continues, even now, “The Moscow Project” about “Trump’s collusion with Russia.” Closed-minded people are simply closed-minded — and that’s the vast majority. They’re open only to ‘information’ that confirms their prejudices. This widespread closed-mindedness is the Deep State’s biggest protector. The manufacture of consent is based upon it. Being open-minded doesn’t mean being gullible — a fool, manipulable. Being closed-minded does. Most people aren’t even aware of that basic epistemological-psychological fact. It’s the reason why both among Democrats and among Republicans, the vast majority still trust their Party, even after all of the blatant and consistent lying of the US Government at least since 9/11. Any Government with a track-record like this, warrants zero trust, and gets that from any intelligent citizen.

[Category: Americas, Europe, World, Corporate Media, Deep State, Democratic Party, FBI, MI6, Mueller, Russia, Russiagate, Skripal case]

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[l] at 7/15/19 4:25am

Simon USHERWOOD

We’re talking a lot about Brexit in Britain. Whether it’s our hopes or – more likely – our frustrations, it’s the subject that we never quite seem to escape from.

But take a step back and think what those conversations focus on: outcomes. I’m guessing many people have a pretty good idea of what their family, friends and colleagues would like the end point of this process to be. It’s no coincidence that more people identify as Leavers or Remainers than as members of political parties.

Probably much less clear is how the potential outcomes – leaving the EU without a deal, leaving with a deal or remaining – are going to come about. The referendum was an exercise in ends, not means.

The two campaigns fought for votes with sweeping promises, but no fixed single plan. The vote wasn’t like a general election, where the winners have to take office and make good on their manifesto. Instead, the incentive was for campaigners to say whatever would get people to send votes their way, and if they won then they’d decide what that meant.

That’s why most of the second half of 2016 was spent with politicians arguing that they knew what the people wanted from Brexit.

Making it up as we go

The referendum also failed to produce any consensus about what happened next: it was a decision that lacked a rationale and a roadmap. It’s one thing to say we want to take back control, but quite another to translate that into a practical course of action. And so we’ve had to make it up as we go along.

Of course, all politics is like this. The vagaries of life mean we’re never quite confronted with what we expected. But usually that happens within a fairly well-defined range of parameters, with a political system that can make improvised decisions on the basis of generally-agreed principles.

Brexit hasn’t fitted into that mould, for three reasons.

First, its scope is so broad that its implications touch on every area of our political, economic and social lives. Second, its novelty means that we lack useful benchmarks to judge our actions: in legal terms it might simply be leaving an international organisation, but it clearly goes far beyond that.

And third, the division that the referendum exposed and reinforced between different sections of British society have made it very hard to find common ground.

The upshot has been a growing willingness, from all sides, to do whatever it takes to secure the outcome they want. The UK has gone from being one of the more sedate political systems of the world to one where ever more creative takes on the constitutional and parliamentary procedure are being suggested.

Conservative leadership contender Boris Johnson has not ruled out proroguing, or shutting down, parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit. Meanwhile, the Conservative MP Dominic Grieve managed to get parliament to approve an amendment to a piece of legislation regarding Northern Ireland, which could make shutting down parliament more difficult. And the former prime minister, John Major, suggested he may take a future Johnson government to court to prevent parliament being shut down.

The means matter

Brexit matters. The choice we eventually make will have profound implications for decades to come, both for the UK and for its place in the world. But that is precisely why it’s essential that the manner of taking that decision matters as much as the decision itself.

Already we see how distrust of the people and processes that have got us this far has poisoned our ability to progress. Whether you think campaigners broke the rules in the referendum or you think judges are enemies of the state or you feel the media is a cheerleader rather than a reporter of what’s happening, if we don’t trust the way we make the decisions, then we risk also losing trust in the decisions themselves.

All of which brings us to one of the bigger questions of politics: do the ends always justify the means?

History shows us that part of what makes a democracy work, and work in a sustainable way, is a consensus about rules. Constitutions embody and embed that consensus in a way that is different from other rules for precisely that reason.

But extraordinary exceptions have a habit of becoming the norm, as with the emergency powers given to governments post 9/11; the revolution justifies the counter-revolution. We can disagree on what to do, but we need to agree on how we make a decision between the choices facing us – leaving with a deal, leaving with no deal or remaining – otherwise we risk damaging everything that follows.

Usually, this is the point where the author offers a solution, but you’ll not get that here. It’s not for me to tell you what to do, beyond sitting down together and working together to see where our common ground lies. And if we find that our existing political processes won’t work to resolve this – for example, a general election – then we need to agree on new ones that do.

So as politicians and the public alike work on their plans this summer, they might want to reflect on not the “what” of Brexit, but also the “how”. Maybe that might make some of those Brexit conversations a bit more productive and enlightening.

theconversation.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Brexit, Johnson, UK]

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[l] at 7/15/19 3:55am

The ‘max pressure’, Make America Great Again formula is not going to work, for the simple reason that it is consuming America’s ‘capital stock’ at a torrential rate. It will neither restore America’s manufacturing base, nor will it recover to America it’s political hegemony. It polarises widely. All the world now understands that MAGA is about gaining whatever advantage there is that can be accrued to the US, whilst making everyone else pay the price – and pick up the loss. Even the Europeans have ‘got that’ now. Trumpism lacks ‘dimension’ beyond the mercantile. Yet, if it could narrate cultural ‘sovereignty-ism’ as something more than being mere ‘anti-identity politics’, and narrow advantage, it might find some wider sustainability.

As it is, the narrowly defined MAGA policy, simply is eating both into America’s political capital – and, is eating away at America’s unparalleled privilege of being able to consume at a higher standard of living than others on the US reserve currency, ‘credit card’, which requires no settlement by the US of its debit dollar balances. By sanctioning ‘the world’ and playing so loose with dollar hegemony and the Bretton Woods system, the US ultimately will lose it all. It will then face the unpleasant experience of having to pay – with something of real value – for all that it consumes. It will shock.

It is true that the global system sorely needed a shake-up, and Trump’s iconoclasm has been, as it were, to that extent, a creative-destructive force that opens the path to seeding something new. But the ‘disrupter’ impulse can become an unmitigated train-wreck, absent any balancing fecundity which might bring some synthesis or ultimate harmony.

For now, there is no sight of any figure around President Trump that has either the insight, or the political ‘savoir fare’, to lead the US President out from his ‘corner’. On the contrary, a train-wreck in foreign policy – and ultimately – in monetary policy too (as the ‘Fed’ keeps fuelling the financial bubble, while the real economy moulders) – seems ahead. Maximum pressure has not harvested its anticipated political dividends – instead it is dangerously escalating global tensions.

Trump’s foreign policy both has been centred around – and blighted by – his deep-seated antipathy towards Iran. It lies at the apex of his Greater Israel policy, and his 2018 tweet that “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” (capitalisation is Trump’s).

The collateral damage cascading from the obsession that Iran represents ‘cosmic evil’, and if defeated, WORLD PEACE is somehow assured, is spreading: Russia’s refusal to pivot against Iran represents the principal reason for the souring of Trump’s relations with President Putin. Iran policy is dividing Europe from America. It has become a substantive impediment in the China relationship (as China requires energy security, and is not prepared to join the boycott). And the US Iran policy may yet result in global economic damage (should the oil risk heighten). The Middle East already is roiling, and Iran has become the universal US bureaucratic pretext for why American forces must be kept in place in place across regional conflicts. (They are required there ‘to contain Iran’).

As Daniel Larison writes in The American Conservative, Trump’s Iran “policy is one of regime change in all but name, and Trump has signed off on everything that has made it so. He has no problem waging economic war on Iran, and he has given the hawks virtually everything they want. Trump’s Iran policy is “the hawkish policy” in action, and if it is a disaster, that is because the “hawkish policy” was guaranteed to be one… The president is fixated on nuclear weapons because his National Security Advisor has been running around for months promoting the lie that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, and he and other advisers have managed to convince (dupe) Trump of another lie: that the JCPOA “permits” Iran to acquire nuclear weapons”.

And here is why, Larison observes:

“Iran hawks [have long] opposed the deal because they [never] wanted Iran to benefit from sanctions relief … Iran hawks … [keep] up the pretense that they want a “better deal” [because they] spent the previous 15 years before the JCPOA, hyperventilating about a potential Iranian nuclear weapon, often absurdly describing it as an “existential threat.” For most of this century, many Iran hawks wouldn’t shut up about the need for preventive military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The nuclear issue was their pretext for conflict, and they hated it when the nuclear deal took that pretext away … So instead we get the endless carping about the “flaws” in the deal that aren’t really flaws, and the shameless goalpost-moving, that requires a non-proliferation agreement to solve all regional problems [all] at the same time.

“Trump has embraced these lies [and] has repeated them several times. Iran can’t negotiate with an administration that claims that the nuclear deal “permits” them to have nuclear weapons. They know that it doesn’t, and so they have to assume that there is no agreement they would be willing to make that would be acceptable to the administration. Sure enough, the administration’s latest talking point that Iran must agree to give up all enrichment confirms that the US is insisting on a concession that Iran is never going to make. Trump doesn’t want to talk to Iran as his predecessor did. He wants Iran to capitulate. That has always been the goal of “maximum pressure.” Trump’s Iran policy is definitely a hawkish policy, and that is why it is producing such awful results for the US and Iran.”

So, why have the hawks been so vehement in opposing the normalising of relations with Iran? It is because normalisation would shift the strategic balance away from those states favouring accommodation with Israel – towards the so-called resistance states who never have (in their view). PM Netanyahu has been adamant throughout that sanctions relief must never be offered to Iran – he sees US sanctions as the leverage to force Iran’s expulsion from Syria.

It is this intransigent stance that lay behind the failure of the tri-partite meeting of national security advisers of US Israel and Russia in late June. Netanyahu earlier had proposed to Putin that he (i.e Israel) represented the ‘gateway’ to opening doors in DC; that with Israeli endorsement, Netanyahu could bring the ending to US sanctions on Russia, but only were Mr Putin to agree to end Russia’s ties with Iran, and to isolate Tehran.

President Putin had countered with the offer that – were the US to lift sanctions on Iran, and withdraw its forces from Syria – then Russia would use its best endeavours to have Iran exit Syria. American and Israeli interests additionally, then would be ‘accommodated’ in a Syrian political settlement.

The Jerusalem trilateral, in short, was expected by Netanyahu to lay the ground work for a clear commitment by Russia to sever relations with Iran – and that this would be unveiled as the ‘grand outcome’ for Trump at the Osaka G20, following his one-on-one with Putin. It didn’t happen.

In the event, Netanyahu blankly refused any lifting of sanctions on Iran (arguing that sanctions represented real leverage over Iran’s presence in Syria), and the trilateral not only failed in its strategic objective, but the Russian representative at the trilateral, Nikolai Patrushev, while being friendly to Israel, did not abjure Iran. Quite the opposite: He denied Tehran is a threat to regional security. “Russia sides with Iran, against Israel and US. A senior Russian official stands by Tehran’s claim that US drone was shot down in Iranian airspace, defends rights of foreign troops to remain in Syria despite Israeli opposition”, concluded one Israeli journal.

And in consequence, the Osaka summit between Trump and Putin did not go well either: Trump merely handed Putin a list of US demands. Putin smiled sphinx-like, but did not answer.

But look: The White House’s Iran policy is but the lead ‘chariot’ heading towards a tight bend at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), and to a potential ‘pile up’. Close behind is US-Russia relations; the chariot of trade war with China, and in the tail, the laggard of trade war with Europe. Far more grave – for us all – would be if US-Russia relations slams into the stadium wall. And we are close to that happening: The incident with the Russian submersible that led to the loss of fourteen lives (whose details the parties prefer to keep quiet), and the letter from NATO insisting that Russia’s 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems breach the INF treaty and must be destroyed, all set a scene of gravely deteriorating relations.

Why would Trump risk so much on an ancient Middle Eastern quarrel? Why snub Putin over Iran? Maybe Trump has convinced himself of the narrative that Iran is indeed a cosmic evil, in the biblical sense. But his conversion to this ideology also happens to sit comfortably with his immediate interests:

Last week the summit of Christians United for Israel, took place in DC. Thousands of evangelical Christians from across the country attended the event, at which Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo (both evangelicals), as well as, John Bolton, Jason Greenblatt, and his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman all spoke. The theme, of course, was the Iranian threat.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes:

“Evangelicals, the backbone of Christians United for Israel, are a key voting bloc for Trump and the Republicans. Around 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, helping him secure victories in several swing states. The consensus among US political analysts is that the president will need similar or greater support among evangelicals to win a second term next year.

“Last week, the news website Axios reported that Trump’s re-election campaign “is developing an aggressive, state-by-state plan to mobilize even more evangelical voters than supported him last time.” This will include, according to the report, “voter registration drives at churches in battleground states such as Ohio, Nevada and Florida,” which will promote Trump’s record on issues important to evangelical voters.”

And the primordial interest for these Evangelical voters? Moving toward actualising (Biblical) Greater Israel as a prophesy fulfilled. And here is the unsolved question – as Iran escalates its counter-pressures, in response, and as America’s strangulation hold tightens – what will Trump do?

“At the moment”, Ben Caspit, a leading Israel commentator notes, “Trump is influenced by his close advisers (mainly John Bolton and Mike Pompeo) who have adopted a hawkish stance and are not deterred at the thought of military involvement (at least aerial involvement) vis-a-vis Tehran. But the US president also has other mentors (some political and some from the media world) who claim that getting involved in a military adventure on the eve of elections would greatly reduce Trump’s chances of reelection to a second term of office.”

Caspit however, does ‘nod’ towards the weight of the Evangelicals: “Israel has transformed this evangelical repository into a tremendous electoral-diplomatic-strategic asset over the last three years, vis-a-vis Trump’s administration. Netanyahu and his ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, have great influence over the evangelical preachers. The relationship between Israel and this American Christian-messianic faction has been deepening … [even to the point of rivalling AIPAC]”

“One thing is sure”, concludes Caspit: “The considerations and analyses in Israel surrounding the Iran issue at this point in time are completely different than what prevailed in the summer of 2012 … One way or another, anyone who thought that the issue of a possible Israeli attack on Iran has long since been removed from the agenda is welcome to catch up: It is returning”.

[Category: Americas, World, Iran, MAGA, Trump, US]

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[l] at 7/14/19 6:40am

Eric MARGOLIS

Turkey has just called Donald Trump’s bluff by going ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The outrage in Washington is volcanic. Trump is vowing to rain fire and brimstone sanctions down on the disobedient Turks.

The S-400 is Russia’s premier anti-air missile. It is believed highly effective against all forms of aircraft – including stealth planes – cruise missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, drones, and some other types of missiles. It offers the choice of a self-directing version with its own radar seeker, or a less expensive, ‘semi-active’ version that is guided by its launch-battery radar.

What makes this AA missile (SS-21 in NATO terminology) particularly deadly is its remarkable 400 km range. The S-400 is said by Russia to be able to unmask stealth aircraft. I’ve been told by Soviet security officials as far back as 1990 that their radars could detect US stealth aircraft.

The missile’s remarkable range and detection capability puts at risk some of the key elements of US war fighting capability, notably the E-3 AWACS airborne radar aircraft, US electronic warfare aircraft, tankers and, of course, fighters like the new stealth F-35, improved F-15’s, F-22’s and B-1, B-2 and venerable B-52 heavy bombers used to carry long-ranged cruise missiles.

The Russian AA system can ‘shoot and scoot’ – firing and then quickly moving. Even more important, the S-400 system costs about half the price of its leading competitor, the US Patriot PAC-2 system. The S-400 may also be more reliable and accurate. The Great White Father in Washington is not happy.

The Trump administration brought heavy pressure on Turkey not to buy the S-400, threatening to cancel Turkey’s order for 100 of the new, stealthy F-35’s. Few thought the Turks would defy the US on this issue, but they failed to understand the depths of Turkey’s anger at the US.

Most Turks believe that the US engineered the failed 2016 coup against the democratic government in Ankara working through a shadowy religious organization run by the spiritual-political leader, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States. Turkey’s elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been too independent-minded for Washington, clashing over US policy to Syria and the Gulf. He had also incurred the wrath of America’s Israel lobby for demanding justice for the Palestinians.

Turkey is now under economic attack by Washington. President Trump is threatening sanctions (read economic warfare) against Turkey, an old, loyal US ally. During the Korean War, Turkish troops saved American soldiers from Chinese encirclement. But Turks are mostly Muslim, and Muslims are hated by Trump and his allies.

S-400 missiles are now arriving in Turkey. What will Trump do? Cancel sale to Turkey of the F-35 and other military equipment or spare parts. Threaten to oust Turkey from NATO. Get Israel and Greece to menace Turkey.

Turkey can live without the F-35. It’s too expensive and may be more vulnerable than advertised. The Turks can get similar, less expensive warplanes from Russia. India and China are both buying the S-400. Even the Saudis may join them though Moscow is delaying the sale. S-400’s are also stationed in Syria with Russian forces and are slated to go to sea in a naval version.

If the US reacts with even more anger, Turkey could threaten to withdraw from NATO and kick the US out of its highly strategic air base in southeast Turkey at Incirlik. It’s worth recalling that Turkey provided NATO’s second largest army after the US. Someone has to remind the deeply unknowing Trump that NATO without Turkey will be declawed. Equally important, that a Turkey unconstrained by NATO membership, will seek sources of oil which it lacks and desperately needs, and new alliances.

Only a century ago, Iraq’s rich oil fields used to be part of the Ottoman Empire until taken away by the British and French imperial powers. The days of a subservient, tame Turkey may be ending.

ericmargolis.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Erdogan, F-35, S-300 / S-500, Turkey]

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[l] at 7/14/19 6:34am

Stephen LENDMAN

The US/UK special relationship is longstanding. Throughout the post-WW II era, both nations have been imperial partners, the US calling the shots, Britain saluting and obeying.

During his March 1946 Fulton, MO “Iron Curtain” address, Winston Churchill noted the special relationship, saying the following:

“Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples…a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”

In November 1945, he said “(w)e should not abandon our special relationship with the United States…”

In 1930, British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald affirmed it long before Churchill. It dates from the 19th century, notably after America’s Civil War, its modern form emerging post-WW II.

The imperial record of both countries, hostile to peace an stability, stands in sharp contrast to their lofty rhetoric, including support for global terrorist groups instead of combatting them, using them as proxies to advance their common agenda, Britain assuming a junior partner role to dominant America.

When the US goes to war against nations threatening no one, or engages in other hostile actions against them like imposing illegal sanctions, Britain virtually always partners in its criminality.

That’s how things are playing out in the run-up to possible US aggression against Iran, a lunatic action if occurs.

Based on its hostile actions against Iran after Trump illegally pulled out of the JCPOA, it’s increasingly clear that Britain only pretends to support the landmark agreement while siding with the White House against it.

The US/UK partnership against Iran increases the likelihood of dooming the JCPOA, negating years of negotiations to produce the landmark agreement if things turn out this way.

At the behest of the Trump regime, Britain seized Iran’s Grace 1 supertanker on July 4, a hostile act of maritime piracy, likely timed with DJT’s militarized Independence Day commemoration.

Impounding the vessel, seizing its documents and electronic devices, along with arresting its captain, chief officer, and two other crew members were bandit actions, flagrant violations of international maritime law.

Britain compounded its hostility toward Iran in deference to the White House by falsely accusing the IRGC of attempting to seize a UK tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz, its transponder improperly turned off, the vessel followed by a British frigate.

In cahoots with the Trump regime, Britain likely aimed to entrap Iran, wanting it to commit a hostile action its political and military authorities were too savvy to fall for.

They surely won’t give the White House a pretext to unjustifiably justify war on the country, just the opposite by consistently following international laws, norms, and standards in dealings with other nations — polar opposite how the US, Britain, Israel, and their imperial partners operate.

On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi explained the following:

“We have told the British authorities that their move would increase tensions and is in line with those hostile policies of the US,” adding:

“From the first day the oil tanker was seized, Iran started taking legal and diplomatic measures. We summoned the UK ambassador twice, and he appeared at the Iranian foreign ministry for several other meetings to provide some explanations.”

“We have given the case to a lawyer who is currently taking legal and judiciary procedures.”

Sino/Russian “(s)ignatories to the JCPOA, as well as other countries, have done their best to preserve the deal.”

“Iran’s next step, within the two-month deadline to Europe, is planned and will be implemented” if Britain, France, Germany, and the EU remain in breach of their JCPOA obligations — binding international law they violated by their unacceptable actions, siding with the Trump regime against Iran.

On Friday, Iran again demanded the release of its Grace 1 supertanker, calling Britain’s action a “dangerous game under the influence of the Americans with no end in sight.”

President Rouhani warned Britain that it “initiat(ed) insecurity, (unspecified) consequences in the future” to follow if they remain in breach of maritime and other international law.

Foreign Minister Zarif slammed Britain for “creat(ing) tension.” Its fabricate “claims (against Iran) have no value,” he stressed.

Through his spokesman, one-sidedly pro-Western/pro Israel UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued his typical unacceptable response to Britain’s hostile action against Iran in cahoots with the Trump regime, calling for “maximum restraint” — while suggesting Iranian responsibility for their unacceptable actions, adding:

“We want…everyone to allow for the freedom of movement of vessels, and we’re hopeful that they will abide by that” — instead of squarely laying blame where it belongs.

Because of US-led hostility toward Iran, on top of its endless wars in multiple theaters, the Middle East remains a tinder box of possible greater US, NATO, Israeli aggression than already.

Note: Four Grace 1 crew members unlawfully arrested by Britain were released on Friday uncharged, with unexplained “conditions.”

The vessel remains illegally impounded — its status unlikely to change unless permitted by Trump regime hardliners, Britain submissive to its unacceptable demands.

Separately, a second UK warship is en route to the Persian Gulf. Will its mission be to push the envelope toward war on Iran?

The US, UK, other NATO nations, Israel, and their imperial partners are archenemies of world peace!

stephenlendman.org

[Category: Editor's Choice, Iran, JCPOA, Royal Navy, UK]

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[l] at 7/14/19 6:26am

The British government appears to be more and more aping a Monty Python-type farce with each passing day. Soon the absurd ensemble will be complete if either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt becomes the next prime minister.

This week the mandarins at the Ministry of Funny Walks ruled that two internationally respected Russian news media channels were banned from attending a global conference on “press freedom”.

RT and another Russia-based news outlet Sputnik were refused permission by the British government to participate in the Global Conference for Media Freedom, held in London.

A British Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their earlier role in spreading disinformation.”

The irony of it. The British government is peddling unsubstantiated accusations (more accurately, ridiculous slander) against Russian media which is then invoked as “justification” for censorship at a much-vaunted international conference supposedly dedicated to freedom of the press. You could hardly make the farce up. It’s a kind of cross between George Orwell and Monty Python.

What the British government is doing is blatantly ramping up the media war against Russia. London is giving a license for further outrageous repression of Russian news media, as well as piling on demonization of Russia as a state.

In the same week it was reported that fellow NATO member Lithuania has blocked the news website of Sputnik in the Baltic country.

Previously, France had banned RT and Sputnik journalists from attending public press conferences held by President Emmanuel Macron. In the US, Sputnik radio stations have been curbed from reaching their American audiences.

Russia’s foreign ministry slammed the British and Lithuanian moves this week as putting unreasonable obstacles on the professional work of Russian news media.

RT and Sputnik are internationally recognized news outlets with accredited offices and reporters based in countries all around the world. Just because the channels are financially supported by the Russian government is no grounds whatsoever for accusing them of being “Kremlin operations”. Most countries maintain some level of government sponsorship of their respective national news media.

The British Broadcasting Corporation and France 24 are prime examples. The US’s Voice of America and Radio Free Europe are other well-known instances of government-funded broadcasters. Should they be henceforth pejoratively labelled as “London, Paris, or Washington operations” if we use the same criterion?

Moscow warned this week that British media outlets working in Russia can expect reciprocal restrictions after the banning of RT and Sputnik at the London conference.

If we go down that route of bans and counter-bans, then international news media, journalistic integrity and the principle of free speech will be increasingly eroded. Perhaps that baleful outcome is exactly what the British and other NATO governments want to achieve in a desperate, underhand attempt to shut down Russia’s news perspective.

What’s really going on here is the thin-skinned British authorities and others simply cannot abide the fact that Russian news media have provided an alternative perspective on international politics. A perspective that often sheds critical light on British, US and NATO foreign policies and conduct. It is also a perspective which seems to be increasingly appreciated by greater numbers of international audiences and viewers, including those of Britain and America.

In recent years, Western mainstream news media has witnessed a phenomenal collapse in credibility among Western public over numerous issues. From illegal wars in the Middle East to spurious allegations about “Russian meddling” in elections, Western media have been exposed over and over again as peddlers of government-sanctioned propaganda.

Public trust in Western media seems to be at an all-time low which in turn undermines the authority and credibility of their governments. The fault, perhaps one could say “crisis” in credibility, is inherent. It has little to do with Russia or its media, although Russian news channels like RT and Sputnik have certainly contributed in a legitimate way to exposing the malfeasance of Western governments.

On international politics, such as the NATO-backed covert war for regime change in Syria, or the deplorable incitement of tensions by Washington and London towards Iran, Russian news media have provided a critical source of reporting and analysis. Often that alternative perspective has allowed Western public to hold their governments and derelict media to account. The fable of “the emperor with no clothes” comes to mind.

It is bitterly ironic that an independent journalist like Julian Assange of the Wikileaks website is being currently detained in a maximum security British prison on trumped-up extradition charges to the US for spying – when Assange’s real “crime” is that he exposed American and British war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere. Arguably, Assange’s credibility and appreciation among ordinary citizens the world over is much higher than either of the US or British governments, or their mainstream media.

The same dichotomy applies to the two above-mentioned Russia-based news channels. Not able to cope with hearing the critical message, the British government has resorted to shooting the messenger. However, the British and international public can see what’s going on here, and so the “emperor” is hastily, clumsily trying to cover up the embarrassment from being exposed.

But, more sinisterly, the British assault on press freedom is ramping up a global media war in which Russia is being targeted by NATO powers. The first casualty of war is the truth. And that suggests a war is dangerously looming. That’s why freedom of press is more urgent than ever. But don’t expect the British government to rescue it. It’s trying to bury it – albeit with its la-de-da pretensions of virtue.

[Category: Society, Assange, Corporate Media, Orwell, Propaganda, UK]

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[l] at 7/14/19 5:57am

The United States of America seems to have a suicide wish as it wanders aimlessly down a continually narrowing path that can only lead to national ruin. Is this a premeditated act of self-annihilation or simply a series of foolish choices?

Before a nation can be effectively destroyed from within it is necessary first that it be owned lock, stock and barrel. An independent, freedom-loving people are less easily controlled than one that is effectively ball and chained, which brings us to the first step in the program.

Create a Central Bank

Beginning around 1910, representatives from the leading banking powerhouses – Morgan, Rockefeller, Rothschild, Warburg and Kuhn-Loeb – began meeting in secret at distant retreats, and not for the purpose of philandering with underage girls, mind you. No, these elitists had a totally different sort of crime up their sleeves, and that was to dominate the entire US banking system. And would it really surprise anyone that they succeeded? This was achieved by the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on Dec. 23, 1913, which took away the constitutional power “to coin money, regulate the value thereof,” as enacted by the US Constitution.

As Anthony C. Sutton summed up the dire situation in his book, The Federal Reserve Conspiracy, “Congress handed over all monetary powers to the Fed in 1913. The Fed is a private bank, owned by banks, and pays dividends on its shares owned only by banks. The Fed is a private Bankers’ Bank.”

Today, the power of ‘printing money’ rests with a private corporation. In fact, the Fed is not actually in the business of printing currency, which is handled by Treasury; instead, it creates bank deposits which are stored at the Fed. This ‘legal’ banking cartel, which can manipulate inflation at will, never has to deal with serious competition, least of all from the US government. Indeed, crotchety Uncle Sam depends on this institutionalized ‘lender of last resort’ for his money supply, which he must return – with excessive interest – thus guaranteeing America’s eternal indebtedness, or until the country simply goes broke.

There were many honorable politicians who fought stringently against the Federal Reserve, before and after the money monster came into being. One of the most memorable challenges came on February 12, 1917 from Senator Charles Lindbergh, who attempted to open articles of impeachment against the ‘conspirators’ of the Act.

Lindbergh accused a number of banking executives of conspiring with each other to “devise a means through social, political and other ways of strategy and by chicanery, to deceive the people of the United States, the Congress, and the President of the United States for the purpose and with the object to secure an act of Congress providing a new monetary and banking system …”

The entire congressional exchange, which is a fascinating read, can be found here.

Today, the problem of an outside agency regulating the US money supply remains as serious an issue as it was in Lindbergh’s day.

This month, Donald Trump harshly criticized the Fed, calling it the “most difficult problem” facing the nation. He was particularly incensed with the independent central bank keeping interest rates high, a move that other leaders before Trump have also expressed frustration over.

Is it too late to ‘end the fed,’ as former US Senator Ron Paul recommended in his 2009 book? Or will it continue to be business as usual for the bankers?

….As well as we are doing from the day after the great Election, when the Market shot right up, it could have been even better – massive additional wealth would have been created, & used very well. Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 6 July 2019

Open the Floodgates

Ever since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, legislation that has single-handedly altered the face of America forever, the United States has become a cauldron, not a salad bowl, of cultural and ethnic differences. Once a nation largely comprised of European immigrants, that demographic is expected to become the minority in a few short decades. And the people just keep coming.

Today, it is automatically assumed that because America got its start as a ‘nation of immigrants’ that it is somehow expected to keep its doors open forever. We are expected to forever comply with the words of the poem, ‘The New Colossus’, written by the Jewish-American Emma Lazarus, engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which says:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It seems the shelf life of that verse expired a long time ago. California can barely take care of San Francisco, let alone America taking care of the world’s “wretched refuse.” Perhaps we would do better than to worry about some tarnished Civil War-era statues of dead Southern generals and think more about editing that plaque.

Yet mass legal migration into the country is no longer considered enough. Even the very concept of a border wall or fence has been derided as “racist,” a grand “monument to white supremacists,” by the radical left.

No nation can last forever when its front door is open to every stranger under the sun.

Push Feminism, the Pill and Abortion

In 1960, with the advent of reliable contraception known as “the Pill,” followed up later with nationwide Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, American society entered upon one of its greatest revolutions of all time. Women, now free to engage in noncommittal sexual relations without fear of unwanted pregnancy, celebrated their emancipation by, yes, entering the workforce. But since there were dishes piling up in the sink and hungry mouths to feed, newly radicalized feminists, seeing males as nothing more than nails that need constant pounding, demanded ‘equal rights’ across the board.

Needless to say, this overnight overhaul of longstanding social norms spelt disaster for the family unit. Divorce rates and single-parent households exploded as men and women, now more concerned with career advancement than marriage commitment, seemed more distant from each other than ever before.

Camille Paglia, the American ‘anti-feminist feminist’ academic, has critiqued that part of feminist ideology that has turned men and women into enemies at worst, strangers at least.

“At this point it’s turned into a neurosis,” Paglia said in a 2017 interview.

And just like that, the two most fundamental relations – that between man and woman – have become almost irreparably damaged, while the greatest victims are American society and the all-important family unit.

Supersize the military

No other nation state or empire in history has had a greater global military footprint than the United States. But that vast presence – with an estimated 800 bases in 80 countries worldwide – does not necessarily equate to power. In fact, it may be the ultimate source of weakness, the veritable Achilles heel of US strength.

At the pinnacle of its power, the Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Euphrates River. Yet, as the Romans discovered the hard way, maintaining such an extensive network requires vast amounts of resources, both physical and financial. Today, whereas more isolationist countries, like Russia and China, have chosen not to travel abroad in search of monsters to destroy (with Russia’s decision to go after Islamic State in Syria as the notable exception), this has allowed them to maintain approximate parity with the US military, and despite the latter’s much higher rate of spending. It could be argued that the United States is too preoccupied with taking out “seven countries in five years,” to quote General Wesley Clark, that it risks falling behind on technological development.

To understand how much the US spends on its military, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced on September 10, 2001 that the Pentagon could not trace over 2 trillion dollars in its coffers. How is that remotely possible? Considering that the US national debt now stands at 22.5 trillion dollars, Rumsfeld revealed a level of corruption – for what else could it be – that simply cannot be sustained over the long haul. And with the next financial crisis predicted to be possibly worse than the last, the most dramatic and unexpected effect from such an event could realistically be the US military going into a quick retreat across the planet for simple lack of resources. Whether that would be a blessing in disguise or the precursor to global pandemonium is anyone’s guess. In any case, to believe for a second that the United States can forever stay one step ahead of excessive spending and corruption just because it has a Central Bank to bail it out may prove to be the greatest fallacy of modern times.

Promote transgender lifestyles – to children

Personally, like most people, I’ve got no problem with people choosing whatever sexual lifestyle they desire. My only requirement is that they either keep it in the bedroom or get a hotel room. Pretty simple. In these days of sexual oversaturation, however, when the LBGTQ community has been designated an entire month to celebrate their sexual proclivities on the street, while the straight, child-producing majority is essentially ostracized and even linked to – wait for it – “white nationalists,” then it’s safe to say, ‘Houston, we’ve got a problem’.

Today, innocent children as young as five and six years old, still in kindergarten, are being exposed to discussions on transgender issues without their parents’ approval. In March, for example, the Washington Post reported – very supportively, by the way – that kindergarten students in Arlington, Virginia were told stories by a transgender advocate.

“I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way,” the advocate, Sarah McBride, read to the students from a storybook.

Is this really an appropriate topic of discussion for children, many of whom still believe in Santa Claus? My personal take is that this ‘education’ amounts to a form of pedophilia and should be outlawed across the country through federal legislation. After all, such incredibly complicated conversations would be considered risqué for many high schools, and even college students, to say nothing about kindergarten kids. Having written previously on this topic at length, I can avow that this is just the first stage of the madness. Next comes the chance that some misguided or confused child will get it into their head – possibly due to the subtle influence of something they’ve heard on television, from their parents or in the classroom – that they ‘identify’ with the opposite sex. Heaven forbid that a boy should play with a baby doll, or a girl participate in a game of football!

Now should the parents take their child to a counselor, it is now standard medical practice that the child not be provided psychotherapy. I repeat, not be provided psychotherapy. Instead, the medical practitioner must accept the child’s claim at face value that they really are the opposite sex. In fact, this is now law. This bit of mischief at the child’s expense is called “affirmative care,” despite the fact that nothing has been ‘affirmed’ at this point except that the medical community has lost its mind. From here the fun and games really begin.

“Once the teenage years begin, affirmative care means giving young people cross-sex hormones,” one mother, Elaine, said during a panel discussion on ‘transitioning,’ organized by the Heritage Foundation. “Girls as young as twelve are prescribed testosterone for lifetime usage, while boys are given estrogen. These are serious hormonal treatments that impact brain development, cardiovascular health and may increase the risk of cancer.”

Further ‘treatment’ involves puberty-blocking drugs, mastectomies, vaginal surgery and even fake penises; these are just some of the radical experimental methods being used on children with irreversible life-changing procedures.

Can a society that condones such inhumane treatment of its most vulnerable members survive? It is the opinion here that it cannot. Playing such mind games with impressionable children, and then attempting to turn them into the opposite sex with lifelong use of drugs, coupled with surgical procedures is the very definition of insanity. With all due respect for transgender people, children should not be introduced to questions of a sexual nature until they are considered legal adults.

Bury your national history over PC lunacy

The one inviolable aspect of every country is, or should be, its history. This documented record of accumulative deeds and acts, performed by various personalities, is the very foundation stone of any nation. Without it, the country will quickly lose its identity and purpose. Yet that is exactly what is being allowed to happen in the United States, where raw emotions are now king. Whatever alleged victim group screams the loudest over some alleged wrong is declared the winner in this never-ending Olympics of the Emotionally Impaired.

What is now happening is that American history is in the process of being rewritten according to the dictates of what is considered to be ‘politically correct’. Don’t believe it? You don’t need to watch Civil War statues tumbling into the dirt for proof. Just perform a quick Google search on ‘American inventors.’ What appears at the top, in the scrolling bar? Just two inventors of European ancestry are listed in the top ten. No Henry Ford, no Steve Jobs, no Wright Brothers, not even an Albert Einstein. That is no mistake. Yet the people at Google will blame it on the algorithms, of course, as if nobody has been performing searches for ‘Einstein’ or ‘Tesla’ or ‘Ford’ to warrant these individuals their rightful place in the selection. Is ‘machine learning’ really that stupid?

If there is an equivalent in America to Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth,’ that place would have to be Silicon Valley, where Liberal-oriented employees are quietly determining what is worthy of public attention and what is not. More often than not, it seems, the conservative right always gets the haircut. This internal slant has already been revealed by Google insiders, like James Damore, the former Google employee who circulated a memo describing the company’s “ideological echo chamber” that actively works to discriminate against conservatives, Whites and men.

More recently, Project Veritas, an investigative group of journalists led by James O’Keefe, captured a former Google executive admitting that the company is working to prevent another ‘Trump situation’ from occurring in 2020.

Today, with Google in the driver’s seat as far as the nation’s history, identity and future is concerned, it has the power to create whatever reality it sees fit. Increasingly, it seems the reality it is giving the American people no longer stands up to the facts. This power, perhaps more than any other, is enough to lead the country astray by simply forgetting who it is and what it stands for. After all, it only takes one generation to ‘reboot’ the national memory.

At that point, it’s game over, your country is history.

[Category: Americas, World, Federal Reserve, Trump, US]

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[l] at 7/14/19 4:05am

The War of 1812 was a military conflict, lasting for two and a half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies.

[Category: UK, US]

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[l] at 7/13/19 10:20am

After President Trump decided not to launch an air strike against Iran in response to Iran shooting down a Global Hawk surveillance drone, the big question was, “Okay, now what?”

My initial thoughts on this centered on Russia. And Russia’s affirmation of its relationship with Iran saw Trump begin a pivot towards a different strategy than one of direct confrontation.

He went to North Korea after the G-20 in Osaka, meeting with DPRK Leader Kim Jong-Un to advance his relationship there.

He’s mostly kept his mouth shut on Iran other than a little obvious Twitter-rattling about ‘annihilation’ if Iran attacks any U.S. asset.

So, it seems that Trump himself is ready to alter the trajectory of his foreign policy. The problem is, as has been pointed out repeatedly, these actions have empowered all manner of other actors to commit provocations which Trump will have to respond to at some point.

Case in point the seized oil Iranian oil tanker by British marines at Gibraltar. This is purely outrageous behavior. And the details of the seizure itself are highly suspect. Claims that the tanker was headed for a Syrian port which can’t even berth a tanker of that size are a dead giveaway.

And then there’s the planted story about Iran ‘attack boats’ trying to seize a British tanker in retaliation.

As Bernard at Moon of Alabama points out, the U.S. and the Brits can’t even get their story straight as to how many boats the Iranians used in this operation. Was it three? Five?

Moreover, what was the ship doing turning off its AIS transponder as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz?

Of interest is also that the ship turned off its AIS signal, see the dotted line, during its passage through the Hormuz Strait.

CNN also noted that:

On July 10, the ship turned off its transponders for almost 24 hours, making it undetectable by radars. When it switched on its transponders at around 1pm Eastern Time, it appeared to have sailed through the Persian Gulf escorted by the HMS Montrose.

Turning of the AIS in a high traffic area and especially at night is quite dangerous. The AIS signals a ships type, speed and course and other ships use that data to plan their own course. But even without AIS the ship will still be visible on the Iranian surveillance radars that control the Hormuz Strait. A ship on the radar screen without AIS information would be suspicious.

So why would the British ship do that? Was that an attempt to draw special attention to it from the Iranian coast guard or military?

To me it seems that the empty British crude carrier, which was shadowed by a British frigate, was used as bait. There were probably Royal Marines on board waiting for an Iranian attempt to seize the ship. Iran did not fall for it.

Bernard likely has it right here. And it’s ridiculous. But par for the course if you consider the lengths the U.S. and U.K. ‘security’ infrastructure are willing to go to provoke a war with Iran and a wider war in the Middle East.

Remember it was likely U.K., Israeli and French collaborators which shot down the Russian IL-20 ELINT plane last year. And Russian President Vladimir Putin, had to concoct a fairy tale about Israeli Jets and Syrian Air defense crews to avoid being forced to retaliate and start World War III.

The British, especially under Theresa May, have been a non-stop source of half-baked intelligence and military provocations acting as the U.S. Deep State’s proxy. And one has to wonder if these pokes to Iran are just another set of poison pills Boris Johnson, presumably, will have to deal with while he settles into 10 Downing St.

Johnson will be up to his neck in preparing for confronting the EU over Brexit. These cheap theatrics by the British military and Foreign Office he used to run and his opponent for Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt, currently does, simply won’t be high on his priority list.

He won’t have the energy, if he was so willing, or time to root out the people behind these decisions and clean them out. Again, that’s assuming Johnson is even opposed to war with Iran in the first place.

Iran’s responses to these clear amateur hour acts of aggression has been to do what Putin does, mostly ignore them. Lodge official complaints and simply let the aggressors look like the bad guys.

How many people in the U.K. are willing to fight and die in John Bolton’s and Bibi Netanyahu’s war on Iran? Not many.

And that’s where this gets interesting. Because Iran’s passivity is part of its means of striking back. The more the U.S. cries wolf over oil tanker aggression the more it highlights why the sanctions are wrong in the first place.

It’s already had the desired effect of raising insurance rates over ten times since the first tankers were attacked a little over a month ago.

The first attacks at Fujairah were likely Iran. But every incident after that has been one of Iran’s enemies trying to pin the attack on it.

There comes a point where the pressure from the real economy will overshadow the games played by ‘intelligence’ operatives and they are reined in.

The Brits are out over their skies here as a signatory to the JCPOA that is supposedly in favor of Iran staying in the deal. And yet, they are out there enforcing U.S. sanctions policy by proxy which sends the wrong message in the end.

And it gives Iran that much more diplomatic cover to violate the terms of the agreement and ensure its complete failure.

That’s where Iran’s leverage is and why it was right, strategically, not morally, to being enriching Uranium beyond 3.67% as stipulated in the deal.

The continued attempt to strangle Iran from every angle will fail in the end. They will remain passive to direct confrontation while upping the pressure on Trump with each kilogram of Uranium processed.

It’s a dangerous game but it’s the one Iran, I think, has to play. They know the U.S. is not interested in a deal that leaves Iran’s sovereignty intact. And Europe is revealed as less than useless.

This is why U.S. and Iranian officials are meeting behind the scenes while entrenched pro-war interests in both the U.S. and British establishment are activating operations or making statements to counter these early steps by Trump to walk back away from the abyss of global war.

Trump wants the unachievable. He wants a new nuclear deal and not to go to war with Iran. Iran knows this and is using that as the fulcrum to beat him back at every turn. Russia and China aren’t happy with Iran provoking the U.S. by violating the deal but it’s likely the only thing that will bring the U.S. to the table.

On the other side, the hawks are pushing him in back towards the middle of the ring to bomb Iran.

Trump needs to make the grand gesture soon, like firing John Bolton, but it may not be enough.

[Category: Middle East, World, Bolton, Iran, JCPOA, Trump]

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[l] at 7/13/19 5:25am

Hysteria won’t solve anything. We’ve created a politicized immigration system and we need to fix it.

Peter Van BUREN

How did we end up with kids in cages? We put them there, across multiple administrations, creating a politicized immigration and asylum system that constrains better options.

It’s time to stop saying this isn’t who we are and it’s time to start looking beyond the hysteria.

Bill Clinton’s 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act set new records for immigrants detained. Next up was George W. Bush’s 2005 Operation Streamline, a zero-tolerance plan to prosecute all illegal entrants. But to avoid the logistics and negative optics, the program made exceptions not written into the law for adults traveling with children. Nature finds a way, and more and more economic migrants arrived with somebody’s child in hand as a Get Out of Jail Free card. Fewer kids in cages, but more illegals.

Obama initially prosecuted only those found illegally entering more than once. Caught off guard by an influx of asylum seekers from Central America, his administration in 2014 established then-legally permitted family detention centers to hold parents and children—potentially indefinitely—in cages as a means of deterring others. And if kids arrived without their parents or in the hands of human traffickers or if their parents were criminally dangerous, they were held alone in cages. The program ended only because of a 2016 court decision ordering the release of most of those hostage families and largely prohibiting family detention facilities. Adult men, women, and children would be caged separately in the future.

Trump set out in April 2018 to prosecute every illegal crosser, first or tenth time, with or without kids, the letter of the law. There had been a growing rise in the number of people from the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) and from Mexico. For example, the border patrol detained 6,405 unaccompanied children in May 2018, up from 4,302 in April. In comparison with May 2017, the number of unaccompanied children soared by 329 percent, and parents migrating with kids as families surged by 435 percent in 2018.

By law, today, children and adults cannot be detained together, though it was allowed during the Obama years and earlier under the Flores Settlement. Most parents arrested at the border are criminally charged with illegal entry. Due process laws do not allow children to be kept with their parents because the child is not being prosecuted. Overall, interpreting what these laws say must be done versus can be done to end up at what should be done draws some very fine, politically motivated legal lines.

What is clear is that by ending the various catch-and-release and ignore-and-don’t-catch policies of his predecessors, Trump triggered the next variation of an old problem. With no legal avenue to immigrate for work, and with border enforcement stopping many from simply walking north and blending into the estimated 11 million illegals already in the U.S., a vast number of economic migrants now ask for asylum. They are aided by for-illegal-profit asylum cartelsstaff from a Democratic congresswoman’s office, and volunteer American lawyers.

Asylum applicants must demonstrate that, if sent home, they would be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group. The definition of those five protected grounds has varied based on American domestic politics. For example, since 1994, LGBT status has been a possible grounds of asylum. Victims of domestic violence were granted consideration under the Obama administration, only to be rolled back under Trump. However, asylum has never and was never intended to stretch over security or economic situations affecting blanket-like most everyone in a country. “Wanting a better life” has never been grounds for an asylum claim.

And yet economic immigrants without legitimate claims to asylum have long taken advantage of slow processing by American authorities. A Mexican man caught on the border who says he came just to work may be sent back almost immediately. However, should he make a claim to asylum, the U.S. is obligated to adjudicate his case, however frivolous (there are potential expedited processes).

The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act requires those seeking asylum to be detained while their cases are processed. But for logistical and political reasons, prior administrations simply released most asylum seekers into American society to wait. Asylum seekers become eligible for work authorization if their cases have been pending for more than 150 days, as almost all do. Trump has directed that the letter of the law be followed, ending this catch-and-release system. He has also negotiated for many asylum seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico instead of working while in the U.S.

The problem is that the backlogs are unresolvableAffirmative asylum seekers, such as most of those now at the border, apply administratively through the Department of Homeland Security. The number of such pending cases as of January 2019 was 325,277, more than 50 times higher than in January 2010. Defensive seekers are those applying for asylum once facing deportation or removal for some reason, including being denied under an earlier affirmative application. These cases go through the courts. As of July 2018, there were over 733,000 pending. The average wait time for a hearing was a staggering 721 days.

The approval rates for asylum claims are low, and always have been. The recent rate for Mexican claimant approvals was 12 percent, for Salvadorans 21 percent, Hondurans 22 percent, and Guatemalans 26 percent. Those countries account for more than 40 percent of all asylum applications, and have for some time. The high refusal rates, while up under Trump, are not at odds historically. In 1984, only 3 percent of asylum cases from El Salvador and Guatemala were granted, even as U.S.-sponsored wars raged there. Approval rates for all nationalities over the past decade average only 28 percent, skewed high over recent years by waves of cases designed to pander to American voters (Chinese pro-democracy applicants) and evangelical voters (Chinese anti-One Child Policy applicants).

But as we talk, there are still kids in cages. None of this is to defend the conditions in detainee camps. Those are a result of a sudden shift in implementation of immigration law coupled with a lack of infrastructure planning, driven by a president who impulsively wants to be seen as “tough” facing down a problem, all backed by an asylum system no longer suited for the conditions imposed upon it. Conditions can be quickly improved: the House just voted $4.6 billion to do that.

But we need also acknowledge the dangers in 2019 of hysteria, driven by media and progressive politicians exploiting the situation to paint themselves as liberating another concentration camp on the road to Berlin, when what’s really needed are hygiene kits and child care workers. And no whataboutism. Under Obama, we tolerated kids in cages. So why shouldn’t we under Trump?

There are even deeper dangers. Progressives don’t want to fix Trump’s logistical mistakes (AOC and others voted against the recent humanitarian funding increases). The camps must not be made more humane, they say, they must be closed. Deportations must not be limited, they must be ended by decriminalizing illegal entry. Free medical care for illegal immigrants. Asylum to economic migrants. Abolish ICE. Open borders.

Meanwhile, Trump’s immigration policies resonate with important sectors of the public. Some 60 percent of likely voters support efforts to “prevent migrants from making fraudulent asylum claims and being released into the country.” This does not grow out of racism or white supremacy (Latinos support much of the Republican immigration agenda), though using those words is an easy way to blame people impacted by decades of imposed change and delete them from the conversation over how to do better.

What’s driving all this is elites’ imposition of an uncounted number of illegal immigrants with unknown skills and unknown criminal backgrounds. Do we get the guy with the 4.0 GPA or the one who committed 4.0 murders? We are destined—required—to take the bad with the good, scatter them around the country, and hope for the best.

So when economic turmoil in Mexico during the early 1990s pushed migrants north, just as war in Central America drove them in the 1980s and gang violence does today, in America there was no plan. Tired, consumed, with resources stretched, there was a backlash building that Trump sensed and acted on. As he was unprepared at the border and told DHS to make do, America for decades has been unprepared and told to make due. A de facto open border similar to 2015 Europe imposed by progressives would have the same effect here as there, leading to a new, even more conservative backlash.

The peak year for legal immigration to America was 1907. Your great-grandfather entered an agricultural and rapidly industrializing nation desperate for workers with no time to waste putting kids in cages. To get them out today, we need more than old-timey nostalgia and modern outrage. We need a 21st-century asylum and immigration policy.

theamericanconservative.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Latin America, LGBT, Mexico, Migration]

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[l] at 7/13/19 4:25am

Daniel LAZARE

Don’t look now, but a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has just shut down half of Robert Mueller’s Russian-interference case.

In February 2018, the special prosecutor indicted a St. Petersburg troll farm called the Internet Research Agency along with two other companies, their owner, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and 12 employees.  The charge: fraud, traveling to the United States under false pretenses, and using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to “sow discord” and “interfere in US political and electoral processes without detection of their Russian affiliation.”

One-time home in St. Petersburg, Russia, of Internet Research Agency, an “online influence” concern. (WikiMedia Commons)

The charge was both legally dubious and heavy-handed, a case of using a sledge hammer to swat a fly.  But Mueller went even further in his report, an expurgated version of which was made public in April.  No longer just a Russian company, the IRA was now an arm of the Russian government. “[T]he Special Counsel’s investigation,” it declared on page one, “established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election principally through two operations.  First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents.”

“Prigozhin,” the report added, referring to the IRA owner, “is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”  A few pages later, it said that the IRA’s efforts “constituted ‘active measures’ … a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.”

Thus, the IRA played a major role in the vast Kremlin conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2016 election and install Donald Trump in office.  But now Judge Dabney Friedrich has ordered Mueller to stop pushing such stories because they’re unfair to Concord Management and Consulting, another Prigozhin company, which astonished the legal world in May 2018 by hiring an expensive Washington law firm and demanding its day in court.

Silent on IRA-Kremlin Connection

Contrary to internet chatter, Friedrich did not offer an opinion as to whether the IRA-Kremlin connection is true or false.  Rather, she told the special prosecutor to keep quiet because such statements go beyond the scope of the original indictment and are therefore prejudicial to the defendant.  But it may be a distinction without a difference since the only evidence that Mueller puts forth in the public version of his report is a New York Times article from February 2018 entitled “Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian Oligarch Indicted by US, Is Known as ‘Putin’s Cook.’”

Judge Dabney Friedrich. (Twitter)

It’s a case of trial by press clip that should have been laughed out of court – and now, more or less, it is.  Without the IRA, the only argument left in Mueller’s brief is that Russia stole some 28,000 emails and other electronic documents from Democratic National Committee computers and then passed them along to WikiLeaks, which published them to great fanfare in July 2016.

But as Consortium News pointed out the day the Mueller report came out, that’s dubious as well.  [See “The ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Gaps in Mueller’s Full Report,” April 18.]  The reason: it rests on a timeline that doesn’t make sense:

  • June 12, 2016: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announces that “leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton” were on the way.
  • June 15: Guccifer 2.0, allegedly a stand-in for Russian military intelligence, goes on line to claim credit for the hack.
  • June 22: Guccifer and WikiLeaks establish contact.
  • July 14: Guccifer sends WikiLeaks an encrypted file.
  • July 18: WikiLeaks confirms that it’s opened it up.
  • July 22: The group releases a giant email cache indicating that the DNC rigged the nominating process in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders.

But why would Assange announce the leaked emails on June 12 before hearing from the source on June 22?  Was he clairvoyant?  Why would he release a massive file just eight days after receiving it and as a little as four days after opening it up?  How could that be enough time to review the contents and ensure they were genuine? “If a single one of those emails had been shown to be maliciously altered,” blogger Mark F. McCarty points out, “WikiLeaks’s reputation would have been in tatters.”  Quite right.  So if Mueller’s chronology doesn’t hold up, then Assange’s original statement that “our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party” still stands – which it plainly does.

Going Up in Smoke 

Bottom line: Russiagate is going up in smoke.  The claim that Russian military intelligence fed thousands of emails to WikiLeaks doesn’t stand up to scrutiny while Mueller is not only unable to a prove a connection between the Internet Research Agency and the Kremlin but is barred from even discussing it, according to Friedrich’s ruling, without risking a charge of contempt.  After 22 months of investigating the ins and outs of Russian interference, Mueller seems to have finally come up dry.

Reed Smith’s Pittsburgh office. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Revenge of the oligarchs” might be a good headline for this story.  The IRA indictment initially seemed to be a no-lose proposition for  Mueller. He got to look good in the press, the media got to indulge in yet another round of Russia-bashing, while, best of all, no one had to prove a thing.  “Mueller’s allegations will never be tested in court,” noted Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor turned pundit for the rightwing National Review.  “That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument.”

Then came the unexpected.  Concord Management hired Reed Smith, a top-flight law firm with offices around the world, and demanded to be heard.  The move was “a real head-scratcher,” one Washington attorney told Buzzfeed, because Concord was beyond the reach of U.S. law and therefore had nothing to fear from an indictment and nothing to gain, apparently, from going to court.  But then the firm demanded to exercise its right of discovery, meaning that it wanted access to Mueller’s immense investigative file.  Blindsided, Mueller’s requested a delay “on the astonishing ground,” according to McCarthy, “that the defendant has not been properly served – notwithstanding that the defendant has shown up in court and asked to be arraigned.”

Prigozhin was forcing the special prosecutor to show what he’s got, McCarthy went on, at zero risk to himself since he was not on U.S. soil.  What was once a no-lose proposition for Mueller was suddenly a no-lose proposition for Putin’s unexpectedly clever cook.

Prigozhin: Forced Mueller to show his hand. (YouTube)

Now Mueller is in an even worse pickle because he’s barred from mentioning a major chunk of his report.  What will he discuss if Democrats succeed in getting him to testify before the House intelligence and judiciary committees next week – the weather?  If his team goes forward with the Concord prosecution, he’ll risk having to turn over sensitive information while involving himself in a legal tangle that could go on for years, all without any conceivable payoff.  If he drops it, the upshot will be a public-relations disaster of the first order.

As skeptics have pointed out, the IRA’s social-media campaign was both more modest and more ineffectual then the Mueller report’s over-the-top language about a “sweeping and systematic” conspiracy would suggest.  Yet after Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman tweeted that “the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election,” he was forced to beg for forgiveness like a defendant in a Moscow show trial for daring to play down the magnitude of the crime.

But it wasn’t Goldman who shaved the truth.  Rather, it was Mueller.  Thanks to the unexpected appearance of Concord Management, he’s now paying the price.

consortiumnews.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Russiagate]

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[l] at 7/13/19 4:00am

It’s been well over two years since the Qatar blockade started, one of many regional policy fiascos launched by Saudi Arabia, which even its closest allies have admitted has massively backfired – but the Emir’s recent visit to Washington is a turning point which not only shows how valuable Qatar is to Donald Trump but what an outstanding error of judgment on Trump’s part to go along with it was in the first place.

In fact, what we know now is that Trump agreed to go along with the ruse in May and June of 2017 because he had just received a cash gift of 2.5m dollars from the UAE leader, via his chief fundraiser Elliot Broidy and Middle East fixer George Nader.

The recent Mueller report in America exposed the Lebanese businessman’s dirty work, commissioned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) to send the money to the US president in return for a number of policy decisions in the region; Qatar blockade was one, which he claimed just a few days after returning from the summit in Riyadh with King Salman in May of 2017, was in fact his own brainchild. Others include special arms deals to the Saudis being unblocked including nukes to the Saudis and – possibly – even the decision to launch strikes against Iran after the drone incident, which Trump came very close to doing.

But the Qatar blockade, which most blamed the Saudis for as a decision based on rank stupidity, was actually Trump’s which is why Riyadh had the unsettling confidence to do it, in the first place.

Since the arrest of George Nader on June 3 in New York relating to child porn offences – and his story being unearthed by investigative journalists – we are witnessing a wising up of Trump. We can only speculate how much money has been funnelled to him from MBZ and MBS in Saudi Arabia (for sure it’s far more than merely 2.5m USD) but what is clearer is that on June 21st when he pulled back from launching retaliatory strikes against Iran, he realised he was about to fall into a trap – perhaps created by the neocons (to go ahead with a war with Iran) and possibly even Saudi Arabia and UAE, who would dearly love the US to war with Iran, while they both keep a safe distance.

The objectives of that entire cabal, was for Trump to lose his re-election bid in 2020.

But the Qatar blockade is interesting and was seen as a major victory of a middle eastern leader to pull off such a stunt whereby a US president would accommodate whoever was paying, with a policy decision.

Quite apart from the stunt massively backfiring on so many levels, in particular against Saudi Arabia geopolitically (but also to some extent financially the UAE), what we are witnessing now is a new significance and importance to Trump and his administration of this tiny gas-rich country.

Trump does not need warmongers in the Middle East but peace brokers who can pull him out of a hole and win him votes in 2020. Where the UAE and Saudi Arabia patently can’t do that, the bandwidth is taken up by Qatar who is showing sterling signs that it punches above its weight in the region.

In July 2018 Trump instructed his advisors in Afghanistan to pull out all the stops and begin talks with the Taliban, which, quite apart from having an office in Qatar since 2013, is connected in many ways with the country’s rulers. Indeed, Qatar (as well as Germany) has been playing an important role of back channel communicator for quite a while and the Emir’s arrival in Washington on July 8th, to be welcomed by Trump personally at a black tie dinner, gives a lucid clue to onlookers who seek to identify any logic to Trump’s tumultuous attempts at off-the-hoof-diplomacy in the region. Trump has had his fingers burnt by the MBZ/MBS experience which may have filled his coffers with re-election funding but came at a very high price indeed, almost costing him the presidency as he came within a whisker of pressing the Iran war button. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is a cool player who prefers peace in the region rather than escalated tensions as a business model. He may well just be Trump’s new partner in the Middle East as if he can give a face saving exit in Afghanistan then Trump will certainly look to him to find a solution in Iran too, which Al Thani is even better placed to do.

[Category: Middle East, World, Qatar]

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[l] at 7/12/19 6:56am

America’s top General Joseph Dunford this week announced plans for a US-led naval coalition to patrol the Persian Gulf in order to “protect shipping” from alleged Iranian sabotage.

The move is but the latest in a series of efforts by the Trump administration to mobilize Arab allies into a more aggressive military stance towards Iran. It follows recent visits to the region by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, both of whom have been urging a more organized military front led by the US to confront Iran.

The latest naval coalition proposed by General Dunford will be charged with escorting oil tankers as they pass through the Strait of Hormuz exiting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, and also through the Bab al Mandab entrance to the Red Sea on the Western side of the Arabian Peninsula. The former conduit serves oil supply to Asia, while the latter position between Yemen and Eritrea leads shipping to the Suez Canal on the way to the Mediterranean and Europe. Both narrow sea passages are strategic chokepoints in global oil trade, with some 20-30 per cent of all daily shipped crude passing through them.

The apparently chivalrous motives of the US to “guarantee freedom of navigation” sounds suspiciously like a pretext for Washington to assert crucial military control over international oil trade. That is one paramount reason for objecting to this American proposal.

Secondly, the very idea of sending more military vessels to the Persian Gulf under Pentagon command at this time of incendiary tensions between the US and Iran is a reckless provocation too far.

In the same week that the Pentagon called for a naval coalition, the US and Britain were blaming Iranian forces for trying to block a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has dismissed the allegations that its naval vessels interfered in any way with the British tanker. Both London and Washington claimed that a British Royal Navy frigate had to intervene to ward off the Iranian vessels. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the accusations as “worthless”.

The latest incident follows a string of sabotage attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf by unidentified assailants. The US has blamed Iran. Iran has vehemently denied any involvement. Tehran has countered by saying that tensions are being inflamed by “malicious conspiracies”.

One can easily foresee in this already supercharged geopolitical context in the Persian Gulf and the wider region how any additional military forces would be potentially disastrous, either from miscalculation, misunderstanding or more malign motive.

Furthermore, media reports indicate a heightened wariness among some Gulf Arab states about being pushed into confrontation with their neighbor Iran. US policy is recklessly fomenting regional tensions against the better judgement of proximate countries.

The Washington Post reported this week: “The escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf have exposed differences between the United States and its regional allies, in part over how aggressively the Trump administration should confront Iran… With these countries likely to find themselves on the front lines of any military conflict with Iran, some of the smaller states are hesitant to support the more combative stance of the United States and regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

The report goes on: “The more-assertive approach championed by Saudi Arabia — and in particular by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — puts the kingdom at odds with some of the smaller US allies in the region, which want to see the crisis settled through negotiations. Kuwait and Oman, which have pursued bilateral relations with Iran, have long resented Saudi attempts to pressure them to adopt a more confrontational foreign policy, analysts say.”

Qatar is another important regional player which is bound to have misgivings about the growing tensions. The gas-rich emirate has been roughed up by Saudi Arabia and the UAE with a two-year blockade on trade and political links. While Qatar is a US ally and a Sunni Arab neighbor traditionally aligned with Saudi Arabia, the country also shares the region’s close historical trading ties with Shia Iran to the North. Centuries of overlapping cultural ties belie the attempt by the US and its Saudi and UAE allies of trying to polarize the region into an anti-Iran axis.

Aware of the danger of a catastrophic war erupting, several regional states are right to be even more alarmed by the latest proposition of a naval coalition led by the US. Washington is arrogantly over-stepping its presumption to control global oil trade, and it is pushing tensions in the region with a provocation too far. Hopefully, reckless US-led antagonism will be rebuffed by wiser regional states who stand to lose much more than Generals and warmongers sitting comfortably in Washington.

Moreover, the correct way to calm and resolve tensions in the region is for the Trump administration to halt its aggression towards Iran and to respect the 2015 international nuclear accord which it unilaterally trashed last year. Remove sanctions and warships from the region and – for a fundamental change – respect international law, diplomacy and peaceful negotiations.

[Category: Editorial, Dunford, Iran, Middle East, Pentagon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, US, US Navy]

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[l] at 7/12/19 5:02am

Israel new course to prepare high school students traveling overseas to be good “ambassadors” includes training on how to combat BDS, claims of apartheid and more.

Miko PELED

While Israel tries to portray a friendly face to the outside world, internally it is promoting racism and violence at levels that are more alarming than ever before. A course to prepare young high school students traveling overseas to be good “ambassadors” stands in contrast to racist policies and the advancement of a military that is encouraged to exercise unprecedented violence against civilians.

Young ambassadors

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, recently demanded that the Israeli Education Ministry halt an online course that was designed to prepare young Israelis traveling abroad to be “good ambassadors.” The content, particularly regarding anti-semitism and BDS (the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement), is so offensive to Arabs and Muslims that a school in Nazareth canceled an exchange program for high school students from the city to go to Sweden, rather than having the students exposed to the content of the course.

To actually see the content of the course, one has to enroll, and so I did. The course has 12 chapters, starting with an introduction by former Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. Bennett begins by explaining “what is an ambassador,” and then gives examples of how to be a good one.

Bennett’s introduction is friendly, straightforward and full of praise for Israel. He provides students with tools with which they can “explain” Israel. For example:

If it wasn’t for Israel, you could never wake up in the morning, because the chip in your cell phone that works as an alarm is made in Israel. You couldn’t find your way to work because the application WAZE is an Israeli product, so you’d get lost. If you made it to work somehow you wouldn’t have a computer because Intel produces its parts in Israel, and then your account would be hacked because cyber security is made in Israel. On top of that, you would have no cucumbers to eat because Israel invented the irrigation systems that make it possible to grow cucumbers.”

Bennett also mentions that the students may encounter people saying crazy things about Israel like that it is an “apartheid state,” and that Israeli soldiers are killing Palestinians, and that, of course, this is all nonsense. Israel, he says, as a photo of Palestinian Knesset member Ahmed Tibi is shown, is the only democracy where the minority Arab population has freedom and participates in a real democracy.

Other chapters include “What is a State,” “The Status of Jerusalem,” “Israeli Accomplishments,” “How to Combat Anti-Semitism,” and “BDS,”  among others. It is stated by Gideon Bachar, a special ambassador for issues of anti-semitism, that historically Jews suffered from persecution due to anti-semitism by Christians in Europe and Muslims in the Arab world. Today anti-semitism in Europe is fuelled by massive immigration from Muslim countries.

BDS, Talia Gorodes explains, is a coalition of “green and red.” According to Gorodes, Director of “Reut” Institute for Strategic Thinking, green represents Islamic fundamentalism and red represents radical leftist groups. Together they create a powerful front to delegitimize Israel. However, not to worry, Israel has a plan and “you student ambassadors are part of the plan.” The students are told that the way they conduct themselves and listen and explain things will dramatically change the way the world perceives Israel and change it for the better.

Adalah’s letter stressed that the “Education Ministry’s propaganda exam focuses on core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that are the subject of deep political controversy.” The course guides students — indeed they are required to choose specific “correct” positions, as though “they reflect an objective factual truth.” The course, Adalah also claims — and, having taken it, I must agree — presents a racist ideological perspective that creates an equivalence between Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and anti-semitism and violence.

This course is also required of Palestinian high school students who are citizens of Israel and study in the Israeli school system.

Notorious general promoted

As the Ministry of Education is preparing students going overseas to show the kind and gentle face of Israel, Ha’aretz reports on the promotion of notoriously violent IDF officer Ofer Winter to the rank of major general. His new job is one of the most prestigious in the IDF: commander of the 98th Division, also known as the Fire Formation, which includes the Paratroopers Brigade, the Commando Brigade, and two reservist brigades.

Winter’s promotion was delayed for several years by the previous IDF Chief of Staff owing to his role in what is called Black Friday in Rafah. “Black Friday” is the name given to a massive, irrational and vengeful attack on Rafah during the Israeli assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014. Winter, then a colonel and commander of the infamous “Givati” Brigade, came to public attention twice, once as the result of a letter he sent to the unit commanders, in which he wrote that they were fighting “a blasphemous enemy that defiles the God of Israel.” His use of religious terminology was cause for concern even in Israel but should come as no surprise.

Winter was educated in two radical, religious-Zionist educational institutions. The first is Yeshivat Or Zion, which is headed by Haim Drukman, one of the most notorious leaders of the “settlers movement.” The second is the military preparatory academy “Bnei David,” in the settlement of “Ali.” Bnei David has come under severe criticism for racist comments made by fanatic Zionist rabbis who teach there. They are known to follow an aggressively racist curriculum and have been quoted teaching that Arabs are slaves and Jews are masters and that Hitler was not wrong, he was just on the wrong side.

Winter also raised concerns when, under his command, the Givati brigade was criticized for its conduct during Black Friday. It was August 1, 2014 in Rafah and a cease-fire was in place when hundreds of innocent people were killed as a result of what is known as the “Hannibal Directive.” Ha’aretz reported at the time that “[t]his was the most aggressive action of its type ever carried out by the IDF.” Codeword “Hannibal” is an IDF military directive that is given when a soldier is taken prisoner. It allows for unrestrained use of firepower to stop the abduction, even at the price of the life of the soldier that was taken.

In this case, the directive was given after an Israeli officer was captured following a clash with Palestinian fighters in which an officer and a soldier were killed. It was during what was supposed to have been a cease-fire for humanitarian purposes. According to a report by Amnesty International, when the IDF attacks began:

The roads in eastern Rafah were full of disoriented civilians moving in all directions. Believing a ceasefire had begun, they had returned – or were returning – to their homes. Many decided to turn around, attempting to flee under a barrage of bombs and gunfire.”

According to testimony given by Palestinian witnesses, the attack included “jets, drones, helicopters and artillery.” The attack was described as “raining fire at pedestrians and vehicles at the intersections, indiscriminately hitting cars, ambulances, motorbikes and pedestrians.”  Ofer Winter was the brigade commander. Now he has been given what many consider to be the most prestigious commands in the IDF, which will no doubt make him a strong candidate to be a future army chief of staff.

Racist municipal ordinances

Following an election promise to act against the “conquest” by Arab residents from surrounding communities of a city park, the municipality of the city of Afula issued an ordinance that says only city residents may enter the city park. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reports from the northern city of Afula that when Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi who lives in neighboring Nazareth brought her infant to the park, a security guard stopped them from entering because they are from Nazareth, which is a Palestinian Arab city.

This is not the first time that Afula is in the news owing to racist tendencies. In 2018, Jewish residents of Afula, along with the mayor, protested against the sale of a home to an Arab family. Afula is not alone. The establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities were created to stop Palestinian citizens of Israel from moving in.

It is no coincidence that Israel’s nation-state basic law includes a clause that authorizes “a community, including those belonging to one religion or nationality, to maintain separate community living.” This basic law affirms Israel’s policy of segregation and makes it constitutional and thus unchallengeable in court.

Israel is more overtly racist and violent than ever before, and yet it is preparing Israeli youth who travel overseas to paint it with bright, friendly colors. If ever there was a time when the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions — BDS — against Israel was not only justified but urgent, it is now.

mintpressnews.com

[Category: Editor's Choice, Israel, Jerusalem, Racism]

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[l] at 7/12/19 5:00am

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the person Trump appointed to broker a Middle East peace agreement recently called Palestinians “hysterical and stupid.” That is particularly galling language coming from a notorious New Jersey, New York, and Maryland slumlord and the son of a federally convicted criminal. Kushner’s father and real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, spent fourteen months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud and witness tampering, among other crimes. Jared Kushner believes his father was wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But the wunderkind son-in-law of Trump has no problem in maintaining the status quo in the Middle East, one that has led to the large-scale incarceration of the people of the Gaza Strip in virtual desert ghetto.

Mr. Kushner does not have the business acumen to run a New York City sandwich cart, let alone a major foreign policy initiative like a final Middle East peace agreement. Such a concordat has eluded a every US president since the creation of Israel in 1948. Kushner’s real estate bankruptcies are legendary, and they have resulted in him and his father panhandling for loan relief financing from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and China, among other countries.

In the wake of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled at a workshop in Bahrain in June of this year, government officials around the world reacted with an almost-unanimous thumbs down. The Bahrain conference more resembled a meeting of potential investors in one of Kushner’s real estate scams. The Palestinians, claiming that to present an economic plan for the Palestinian territories prior to a political settlement, boycotted the Bahrain conclave. Under the “Kushner Plan,” Gaza was to become a tourist resort with transport routes through Israel to the West Bank. No mention was made of the crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockades imposed on the densely populated Gaza enclave of 1.8 million people. Kushner displayed his utter ignorance of geo-politics, history, and diplomacy when he said Palestinians would reap a financial whirlwind of real estate development and tourism investment money if “there’s not a fear of people doing terrorism.” Doing terrorism? In Kushner’s pampered rich kid myopic view of the world, “doing terrorism” is like “doing lunch” or “doing a Broadway show.”

Participating in Kushner’s gabfest, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that Kushner’s roll-out was like a “hot IPO,” an initial public offering of shares in a company. Seasoned Middle East experts, including diplomats and scholars, were far less enthusiastic, with one likening Kushner’s conference to a Monty Python sketch.

Kushner also lambasted the Palestinian leadership for saying “crazy things.” The son-in-law of the man who, on a daily basis, says and tweets “crazy things” believes that it is “crazy” for Palestinian leaders to condemn Israeli expansion into East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. In fact, “crazy” was Trump ordering the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, shuttering the US Consulate General in Jerusalem that served as the de facto US mission in Palestine, cutting off all US economic assistance to the Palestinians, closing the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s Golan Heights.

Kushner called the Palestinians “stupid and hysterical.” However, nothing exemplifies hysterical and stupid more than Kushner family friend Binyamin Netanyahu, who once stood before the United Nations General Assembly and displayed a cartoon drawing of a bomb to “prove” that Iran was nearing development of a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu’s histrionics before the world assembly was not the first time he resorted to gimmickry and lying in order to tick off a list of favorite Zionist talking points.

Kushner does not appreciate the hyper-hysterical nature of Israel and its supporters, of which he is one. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement targeting Israel’s racist and expansionist policies has resulted in hysterical extreme measures aimed at undercutting constitutional and other inherent freedoms of speech in other countries. These anti-free speech actions have been advanced by Kushner’s friends and colleagues and include twenty-eight American states enacting legislation that bans individuals and companies supporting BDS from receiving state government contracts. Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, is actively working to disrupt the global BDS movement, including the operations of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The anti-BDS campaign includes Mossad collecting intelligence on BDS operations in foreign countries and placing BDS leaders and supporters on INTERPOL and EUROPOL watch lists. Kushner’s Zionist friends have even spoken of Israel filing lawsuits against BDS organizations and individuals abroad. There was little surprise when Mossad’s anti-BDS activities in the United States were linked to the now-defunct Israeli private intelligence firm PSY-Group and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Kushner can whine all day long about Palestinians being “hysterical.” No one is more hysterical and hypocritical than Kushner and his Orthodox Jewish cabal that includes the dodgy Chabad movement – which has been tied into everything from drug and human organ trafficking to tax evasion and money laundering, as well as the 2020 presidential campaign of New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker. No sooner had New England Patriots football owner and Trump Mar-a-Lago club member Robert Kraft beat a criminal charge of soliciting prostitution from a Florida massage parlor employing Chinese indentured employees, he donated his $1 million Genesis Prize – Israel’s version of the Nobel Prize – to the anti-BDS movement. That kind of money would have paid for quite a lot of $57 “sessions” at Kraft’s favorite, but now closed, Florida massage parlor. Even though Kraft was dumb enough to get caught on video tape in a law enforcement sting on illegal prostitution activities, Kushner claims it is the Palestinians who are “stupid.”

Recently, Kushner’s friends in Israel and Germany forced the resignation of Dr. Peter Schäfer, a foremost scholar of Judaic Studies, as director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum. Using Inquisition-like tactics, Schäfer stood accused by Israel supporters of backing the BDS movement by tweeting a link to a letter signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars opposing a bill passed by the German parliament that linked the BDS movement to anti-Semitism. The campaign against Dr. Schäfer was centered on the activities of an Israel-based organization called NGO Monitor. The group, which is nothing more than a cipher for Mossad, targets international non-governmental organizations tagged with being supportive of the Palestinians or the BDS movement.

Under pressure from such anti-democratic forces as NGO Monitor; its Geneva-based companion, UN Watch; the American Jewish Committee; and similar repugnant pressure organizations, the freedom of speech rights of pro-Palestine activists have been severely hampered by actions of the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and other nations.

Mr. Kushner and his friends who gathered in Bahrain for his real estate development (land theft) prospectus seminar would trick the world into believing that it is the Palestinians who are “hysterical.” When international supporters of the Palestinians decide to hit the Israelis where it hurts the most – their wallets – all one can hear from the offices and board rooms of Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ramat Gan, New York, and other centers of Israeli commerce and intrigue is loud wailing and promises to “get even.” And Kushner accuses the Palestinians of being “hysterical.”

In fact, the Palestinians have been quite measured in response to Israel’s overt and covert campaigns against them and their inalienable rights. Since Trump and Kushner launched their diplomatic, political, and economic warfare against Palestine, the State of Palestine has been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Colombia; Italy voted for a UN Security Council for a resolution that opposed the US movement of its embassy to Jerusalem; the UN’s Group of 77 (G77) developing nations invited Palestine to chair the group’s meeting during 2019; Spain’s Josep Borell, who is pro-Palestinian and tough on Israel, was named the next Foreign Affairs Commissioner of the European Union; and former US President Jimmy Carter called on the United States to recognize Palestinian sovereignty. These small but significant advances on behalf of the Palestinians were achieved as a result of Palestine’s commitment to diplomacy, not the hysteria practiced by Kushner and his friends in Israel, as well as by pro-Israel embeds found throughout the Trump administration.

[Category: Security, War and Conflict, Israel, Kushner, Middle East, Palestinе]

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