[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/9/23 8:30am
Ken Klippenstein, an investigative journalist at The Intercept, has exposed how the Pentagon very quietly launched a new internal division, dubbed the “Influence and Perception Management Office” (IPMO), in March. Its existence is not strictly secret, although there has been no official announcement of its launch, let alone an explanation from Department of Defense (DoD) officials as to its raison d’être or modus operandi. Its budget likewise remains a mystery but purportedly runs into the “multimillions.” Pentagon financial documents from 2022 offer a laconic and largely impenetrable description of IPMO. The Office, it is said, “will serve as the senior advisor” to Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, Ronald S. Moultrie, on “strategic and operational influence and perception management (reveal and conceal) matters”: It will develop broad thematic influence guidance focused on key adversaries; promulgate competitive influence strategies focused on specific defense issues, which direct subordinate planning efforts for the conduct of influence-related activities; and fill existing gaps in policy, oversight, governance, and integration related to influence and perception management matters. [IPMO]…provides necessary support to National Defense Strategy…to address the current strategic environment of great power competition.” Nonetheless, references to “reveal and conceal” and “influence and perception management” are tantalizing in the extreme. So too, is IPMO’s position within the U.S. national security structure and the Office’s acting director being intimately tied to the Pentagon’s spookiest operations. Despite its low-key rollout, IPMO looks set to be a hugely influential new DoD agency in the future, waging ceaseless information warfare at home and abroad. What makes the new venture all the more sinister is that such capabilities are nothing new; the Pentagon has managed multiple similar, if not identical, operations in the past and continues to do so, despite significant controversy and public backlash. Indeed, the DoD’s official dictionary has a dedicated definition of “perception management”, linking the practice to “psychological operations,” which are defined as actions intended to influence the “emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior” of target governments, organizations, groups, and individuals: Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.” This, of course, begs the question of why a new incarnation of what came before and never went away is now being inaugurated by the U.S. defense establishment. As we shall see, no reassuring answers are forthcoming.   “Signature Reduction” Despite the lack of a public paper trail, a memo outlining IPMO’s modus operandi was acquired by Klippenstein. It offers a hypothetical scenario in which the Pentagon “wants to influence Country A’s leaders to stop purchasing a weapon system from Country B” because it believes the sale “might jeopardize DoD’s military advantage, in some way, if the U.S. ever had to engage in armed conflict with Country A.” “Assuming IPMO has worked to establish the desired behavior change, how might key influencers be identified that have sway over these leaders’ thought processes, beliefs, motives, reasoning, etc. (including ascertaining their typical modes and methods of communication)?” the memo reads. “Thereafter, assuming an influence strategy is developed, how might the DIE [Defense Intelligence Estimate] or IC [Intelligence Community] determine if DoD’s influence activities are working (aside from waiting and watching hopefully that Country A eventually stops purchasing the weapons system in question from Country B)?” The document was signed by IPMO director James Holly, previously Director of Special Programs for the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). During this time, he ran espionage operations for an unnamed paramilitary organization in Iraq and was an intelligence officer for a Combined Joint Task Force in Afghanistan. Precisely what these roles entailed is not certain. However, that he made the leap from JSOC to IPMO is striking, given the Command is the nucleus of all the Pentagon’s spookiest, most sensitive operations. The division very rarely makes the news, but when it does, the stories are invariably remarkable and disturbing. For example, in May 2021, Newsweek exposed how the Command operates “the largest undercover force the world has ever known” under a program named “Signature Reduction.” In all, 60,000 people – “more than ten times the size of the clandestine elements of the CIA” – are part of this secret army, “many working under masked identities and in low profile.” Working both at home and overseas, its operatives carry out covert assignments using civilian cover “in real life and online, sometimes hiding in private businesses and consultancies, some of them household name companies.” “Dozens of little-known and secret government organizations support the program, doling out classified contracts and overseeing publicly unacknowledged operations. Altogether, the companies pull in over $900 million annually to service the clandestine force, doing everything from creating false documentation and paying the bills and taxes of individuals operating under assumed names to manufacturing disguises and other devices to thwart detection and identification, to building invisible devices to photograph and listen in on activity in the most remote corners of the Middle East and Africa.” A series of photos from the Signature Reduction program provided to Newsweek by William Arkin | Editing by MintPress News This cloak-and-dagger militia moves entirely in the shadows and may contravene U.S. laws, the Geneva Conventions, basic standards of accountability, and various codes of military conduct. Chief among the latter is the longstanding principle that the military does not conduct covert operations on American soil. Yet, JSOC has circumvented this restriction ever since its founding in December 1980, operating under a veil of almost total official secrecy, all the while often in tandem with the CIA. In June 1984, The New York Times outlined how JSOC effectively acted as a law unto itself, quickly evolving far beyond its original remit to “collect intelligence to plan for special military operations” into “a nighttime operation, with its own weapons procurement and research, as well as communications.” Two months earlier, a senior Pentagon official told elected lawmakers that the Command was not “an agency of interest to the intelligence oversight committee” and refused to answer questions about its activities. Nonetheless, the Times offered a brief overview of what was known about JSOC’s activities over the prior four years. In addition to assisting the illegal invasion of Grenada, the Command had provided extensive assistance to CIA cloak-and-dagger operations in Central America. In particular, it supported the fascist Contras in Nicaragua, helping the Agency sidestep Congressional restrictions on its brutal efforts to topple the elected left-wing Sandinista government.   “Prohibited, Covert Propaganda” JSOC’s involvement in that CIA dirty war is particularly notable given this period gave rise to the very concept of “perception management” as a legitimate form of psychological warfare to be waged by the CIA, Pentagon, and other government agencies against the domestic population. The overriding objective of this Reagan administration push was to falsely paint the murderous Contras as heroic freedom fighters. In reality, the Contras, with CIA direction, funding and arms, deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, slaughtered priests, nuns, labor activists, students, peasants and indigenous citizens. In turn, the social democratic Sandinistas were transformed into viciously repressive autocrats, ruling Nicaragua with an iron fist and transforming their country into a “beachhead” for Soviet invasion of the U.S. Similar propaganda messaging has been employed in every American proxy war since, from Yugoslavia to Ukraine. All this activity, the full extent of which may never be known, represented egregious violations of the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, which places strict restrictions on the domestic dissemination of state propaganda. Take, for instance, the Office of Public Diplomacy, a dedicated pro-Contra propaganda unit run by Reagan’s top National Security Council aide Oliver North, who was simultaneously working with cocaine traffickers to arm the Nicaraguan “rebels.” The unit was found to have broken a welter of U.S. laws by separate official investigations into the Iran-Contra scandal. The U.S. Comptroller General, for example, concluded the Office engaged in “prohibited, covert propaganda…beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities.” An ad placed by the Young Republicans under the cognizance of the Office of Public Diplomacy, March 20, 1985. Credit | NSA Archive Yet, despite such damning findings, the “perception management” techniques honed by these assorted units, and many of the formal and informal structures contemporaneously created to disseminate CIA, Pentagon, and White House propaganda, did not go anywhere. Two decades later, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld’s leadership struck upon the bright idea of creating the Office of Strategic Influence to deliberately plant “misleading” black propaganda in the foreign media, which would then be picked up by the U.S. media. In a perverse twist, precisely this strategy was used by British foreign intelligence service MI6 as far back as 1998 to lay the foundations for the Iraq War. Under “Operation Mass Appeal”, the agency circulated dubious or even fabricated “intelligence” to editors and journalists on its payroll the world over, influencing the output of leading international news outlets. The spooks sought to “shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD.” The Office of Strategic Influence operated in secret from its launch in October 2001 until February of the next year, when the mainstream media caught wind of its existence. Due to intense outcry, just a week later, it was officially shuttered at Rumsfeld’s request. Yet, at a November 2002 press conference, the defense secretary made unguarded remarks starkly indicating it very much lived on thereafter: The Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And ‘oh my goodness gracious isn’t that terrible, Henny Penny, the sky is going to fall.’ I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I’ll give you the corpse. There’s the name. You can have the name, but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have.”   Of World War III and UFOs The Klippenstein-secured memo suggests IPMO is involved in identical propaganda operations to those described here. It notes the Office “is tasked with the development of broad thematic messaging guidance and specific strategies for the execution of DoD activities designed to influence foreign defense-related decision-makers to behave in a manner beneficial to U.S. interests.” Given that Washington is again heavily engaged in a Nicaragua-style proxy war in Ukraine, an accompanying propaganda unit would be of enormous use. After all, despite the Western media’s best efforts to whitewash the issue, Nazi sympathies of soldiers and military units remain stubbornly flagrant. The phenomenon of Swastika tattoo and military patch-toting fighters is so profuse that, earlier this month, the New York Times was prompted to publish an article bemoaning how such National Socialist iconography leaves “diplomats, Western journalists and advocacy groups in a difficult position.” On the one hand, “calling attention to the iconography risks playing into Russian propaganda,” on the other, “saying nothing allows it to spread.” The wider question of why so many Ukrainian nationalists eagerly elect to exhibit such emblems was unexplored. Fittingly too, in December 2022, independent journalist Jack Murphy published an investigation alleging the CIA was “using a European NATO ally’s spy service to conduct a covert sabotage campaign inside Russia under the agency’s direction,” in which JSOC was a key player. The Command purportedly supports these operations “with targeting information from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, such as drones, that can see and hear deep into Russia.” Further clues as to the sudden push to formally codify what the Pentagon has been doing with total impunity for so long may likewise be provided by the online records of private security company Sancorp Consulting, which offers “counter-insider threat solutions, artificial intelligence and machine learning, IT solutions, identity and data activities, intelligence and counterintelligence solutions” to private sector and state clients. An index of Sancorp’s “past performance” for customers lists providing “specialized and sensitive administrative, security, policy, operations, and analytic support services” to none other than IPMO. Since-deleted records from the company’s website indicate it also counts the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) as a client. This DoD division is charged with investigating UFOs and other unexplained aerial phenomena. The Pentagon has of late exhibited a pronounced interest in flying saucers, just as it did during the Cold War. Then, the purpose was to bamboozle and bedevil the public while providing cover for experimental U.S. military innovations, aircraft, and testing. There is little cause to believe the DoD’s motives have changed in the present day. Declassified documents show that for years, the Navy Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, known as N2N6, currently exercises complete control over the dissemination of UFO-related information to American audiences on behalf of the Pentagon. This extends to directing Pentagon divisions to respond to media inquiries and FOIA requests from journalists and the public and how. Perhaps the Pentagon has decided to bring these responsibilities in-house. Coincidentally, on June 6, an Air Force veteran and former member of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency went public with claims that extraterrestrial craft are routinely recovered in secret by the U.S. government. This shock exposé couldn’t have come at a better time. As the New Cold War ramps up, and ever-more threatening tech is inevitably road-tested in the skies above Area 51 and other shadowy military installations in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is necessary to misdirect public attention away from the known to the unknown and unknowable. Meanwhile, U.S. military chiefs regularly and openly talk about waging war on China in the very near future – which makes constructing a dedicated propaganda office in advance all the more expedient. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPresss News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg. The post Exposed: Disturbing Details of New Pentagon “Perception Management Office” appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Investigations, National, Top Story, Covert Propaganda, Department of Defense, Influence and Perception Management Office, Pentagon, signature reduction, UFOs]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/8/23 7:23am
Remarks by Chinas United Nations Ambassador, Geng Shuang, on the situation in Occupied Palestine on May 24 were impeccable in terms of their consistency with international law. Compared to the United States’ position, which perceives the UN, and particularly the Security Council, as a battleground to defend Israeli interests, the Chinese political discourse reflects a legal stance based on a deep understanding of the realities on the ground. Articulating the Chinese thinking during a UNSC Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine Question, Geng did not mince his words. He spoke forcefully about the “irreplaceable” need for a “comprehensive and just solution” that is based on ending Israels “provocations” in Jerusalem and the respect for the right of “Muslim worshipers” as well as the “custodianship of Jordan” in the citys holy sites. Widening the context of the reasons behind the latest violence in Palestine and the May 9 Israeli war on Gaza, Geng went on to state a position that both Tel Aviv and Washington find utterly objectionable. He unapologetically condemned the illegal expansion of (Israeli Jewish) settlements in Occupied Palestine and Israels “unilateral action,” urging Tel Aviv to “immediately halt” all its illegal activities. Geng proceeded to discuss issues that have been relatively ignored, including “the plight of the Palestinian refugees.” In doing so, Geng has enunciated his countrys political vision regarding a just solution in Palestine, one that is predicated on ending the Israeli occupation, halting Tel Avivs expansionist policies, and respecting the rights of the Palestinian people. But is this position new? While it is true that Chinas policies on Palestine and Israel have historically been consistent with international law, China, in recent years, attempted to tailor a more balanced position, one that does not impede growing Israeli-Chinese trade, particularly in the area of advanced microchips technology. However, the China-Israel affinity was motivated by more than mere trade. Since its official launch, Chinas Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has served as the cornerstone of Beijings global outlook. The massive project involves nearly 150 countries and aims to connect Asia with Europe and Africa via land and maritime networks. Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, Israels strategic importance to China, which, for years, has been keen on gaining access to Israeli seaports, has doubled. Expectedly, such ambitions have been of great concern to Washington, whose naval vessels often dock at the Haifa Port. Washington has repeatedly cautioned Tel Aviv against its growing proximity to Beijing. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, went as far as warning Israel in March 2019 that, until Tel Aviv re-evaluates its cooperation with China, the US could reduce “intelligence sharing and co-location of security facilities.” Fully appreciating the current, but also the potential global power of China, Israel labored to find a balance that would allow it to maintain its special relationship with the US while financially and strategically benefiting from its closeness to China. Israels balancing act encouraged China to translate its growing economic prowess in the Middle East into a political and diplomatic investment as well. For example, in 2017, China put into motion a peace plan initially formulated in 2013 called the Four-Point Proposal. The plan offered Chinese mediation as a substitution for US bias and, ultimately, failed peace process. The Palestinian leadership welcomed Chinas involvement, while Israel refused to engage, causing an embarrassment to a government that insists on respect and recognition of its rising importance in every arena. If balancing acts in geopolitics were possible back then, the Russia-Ukraine war brought it all to a sudden end. The new geopolitical reality can be expressed in the words of a former Italian diplomat, Stefano Stefanini. Italy’s former ambassador to NATO wrote in an article in La Stampa that the “international balancing act is over” and “there are no safety nets.” Ironically, Stefanini made this reference to Italys need to choose between the West and China. The same logic can also be applied to Israel and China. Soon after China succeeded in striking a landmark deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran on April 6, it again floated the idea of brokering peace between Palestine and Israel. Chinas new Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, reportedly consulted with both sides on “steps to resume peace talks.” Again, the Palestinians accepted while Israel ignored the subject. This partly explains Chinas frustration with Israel and also with the US. As Chinas former ambassador to Washington (2021-23), Qin must be familiar with the inherent US bias towards Israel. This knowledge was expressed by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying during the latest Israeli war on Gaza. “The United States should realize that the lives of Palestinian Muslims are equally precious,” Hua said on May 14. A simple discourse analysis of the Chinese language regarding the situation in Palestine clarifies that Beijing sees a direct link between the US and the continued conflict or the failure to find a just solution. This assertion can also be gleaned from Ambassador Gengs most recent UNSC remarks, where he criticized “piecemeal crisis management,” a direct reference to US diplomacy in the region, offering a Chinese alternative that is based on a “comprehensive and just solution.” Equally important is that the Chinese position seems to be intrinsically linked to that of Arab countries. The more Palestine takes center stage in Arab political discourse, the greater emphasis the issue receives in Chinas foreign policy agenda. In the recent Arab Summit held in Jeddah, Arab governments agreed to prioritize Palestine as the central Arab cause. Allies, such as China, with great and growing economic interests in the region, immediately took notice. All of this must not suggest that China will be severing its ties with Israel, but it certainly indicates that China remains committed to its principled stance on Palestine, as it has over the decades. Soon, the relationship between China and Israel will face the litmus test of US pressures and ultimatums. Considering Washington’s unparalleled importance to Israel, on the one hand, and the Arab-Muslim world’s significance to China, on the other, the future is easy to foresee. Judging by China’s political discourse on Palestine situated within international and humanitarian laws it seems that China has already made its choice. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post China and Palestine: No To ‘Piecemeal Crisis Management’ appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, News, Belt and Road Initiative, China's position on Palestine, China-Israel relations, humanitarian law, International Law, Middle East peace process, Palestinian Refugees, US-China relations]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/7/23 10:52am
On December 22, 2020, Israel and Morocco officially normalized relations after former President Donald Trump’s administration declared occupied Western Sahara as Moroccan. In the years following, Israeli companies have boosted their business involvement in Western Sahara, suggesting the pair’s cooperation is fueling each other’s land theft. In 1975, Morocco annexed part of Western Sahara – a region indigenous to the Sahrawi people – and its entirety in 1979. Few have accepted these actions: today, 82 countries recognize Western Sahara’s independence, while only the United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the land.   “The worst of the worst” While Israel hasn’t officially recognized Western Sahara as part of Morocco, several Israeli companies are already working with Morocco in the occupied territory. These include NewMed Energy, Ratio Petroleum, Selina Group, Halman-Aldubi Technologies, and an unnamed company launching an aquaculture project in Western Sahara. MintPress News contacted the known firms for comment on why they are doing business in occupied territory, but did not receive a response. According to watchdog group, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), the only companies pursuing oil and gas exploration in Western Sahara are Israeli — NewMed Energy and Ratio Petroleum. “Those are resources that will be depleted and disappear under occupation before the conflict has been resolved, and that is very worrisome for the Sahrawi people,” Erik Hagen, WSRW board member, told MintPress News. “So the stuff the Israeli companies are doing now is kind of the worst of the worst.”   Investing in another occupation Similar to the Israeli settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel is now boosting its economic opportunities in Western Sahara. In September 2021, the Moroccan National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) signed an agreement with Ratio Gibraltar, a subsidiary of the Israeli oil company Ratio Petroleum, to search for oil and gas off the coast of Dakhla, a city in Western Sahara. The budding business partnership grew from there. Ratio Gibraltars oil exploration claim in Morocco-Occupied Western Sahara In December last year, NewMed Energy entered into a business deal with ONHYM and Gibraltar-based Adarco Energy for offshore gas and oil exploration in Western Sahara’s Boujdour Atlantique block. NewMed Energy is a subsidiary of Israeli firm Delek Group. According to WSRW, Delek Group is backed by a number of European and American investors. Delek Group owner, Yitzhak Tshuva, is the company’s largest shareholder, followed by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. Deutsche Bank is the company’s 10th biggest owner. Six U.S. financial companies hold shares: Dimensional Holdings, Vanguard Group, BlackRock, Grantham Mayo van Otterloo & Co, Charles Schwab Corporation, and Empirical Finance. WSRW contacted NewMed Energy in December regarding its offshore drilling license in Western Sahara and received the following response from NewMed Energy’s VP of Regulatory and Public Affairs, Nadav Perry: I would like to clarify that all our actions in the past and in the present are done in accordance with and subject to international law and Israeli law and the laws in force. In addition, it should be noted in this context that we act in accordance with the stated policy of the Israeli government and we intend to continue doing so. WSRW responded to NewMed Energy requesting clarification on which country’s laws it is following but did not receive an answer. This spring, more Israeli businesses began cropping up in Western Sahara. Israel’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Ofir Akunis, announced in March that an unknown Israeli company will launch an aquaculture project in the occupied territory. “This, and other areas of cooperation have been made possible by the Abraham accords,” Akunis said of the deal during the 2023 UN Water Conference. MintPress News reached out to the Israeli ministry on which company is responsible for the aquaculture project but did not receive a response. In April, an Israeli hospitality company, Selina Group, opened a new hotel in the Western Sahara city of Dakhla. Also in April, a consortium of Israeli startups, led by Halman-Aldubi Technologies, announced it would collaborate with Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University to develop sustainable food solutions in Western Sahara. These startups include Seakura, Shachar Group, FreezeM, and Celitron. Obtaining foreign investments in Western Sahara is part of Morocco’s strategy to establish facts on the ground, International Crisis Group, an organization centered on preventing war and mitigating conflict, North Africa director Riccardo Fabiani, said. “By attracting foreign investments in Western Sahara, you are effectively creating international recognition and acceptance for Moroccan control of Western Sahara,” Fabiani told MintPress News. With Israel increasing its business operations in Western Sahara, “youre signaling to other foreign companies that its fine to invest in Western Sahara. It’s business as usual,” Fabiani said. Before normalization, international companies would steer away from Western Sahara in fear of legal repercussions. But now, with more outside business involvement in the region, Fabiani noted, Western Sahara’s label is changing on the global stage. “The stances and positions that many Western countries and companies are taking increasingly toward Western Sahara is the idea that this is not really an occupied territory; its more like a disputed area under control by the Moroccans,” he said.   A partnership that’s now public While Morocco and Israel normalized relations less than three years ago, the pair’s collaboration has spanned decades, albeit in secret. The Moroccan Air Force purchased Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron drones in 2014 but did not receive the weapons until 2020. The arms are reportedly being used against the Polisario Front, the group fighting for Western Sahara’s independence. “By doing this, the Israelis are effectively helping the Moroccans fight back the Polisario, and you could argue that its a way of repressing the pro-independence movement,” Fabiani said. In 2018, the website MenaDefense.net uploaded a video of Moroccan police officers donning Israeli-made Tavor (X95) firearms during a parade. Morocco denied it received the weapons from Israel, saying they were acquired through a European firm. Several reports claimed the firearms were manufactured under a Ukrainian license; however, Ukraine denied this. That particular version of Tavor is not produced in Ukraine. Moroccan General Belkhir El Farouk, left, flanked by Israeli military personnel, attends a live-fire exercise at Tzeelim military base in Israel, September 2022. Photo | DPA | AP According to Amnesty International, Moroccan authorities used the Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to unlawfully target activists, journalists, and human rights defenders in Western Sahara between 2017-2020. In 2021, Morocco bought kamikaze drones from IAI, and then purchased IAI’s Barak MX  antiaircraft and missile interceptor system in 2022. Israeli company BlueBird Aero System sold drones to Morocco in 2021, reportedly to be used for surveillance and intelligence collection in Western Sahara. Under normalization, Morocco and Israel’s military alliance is no longer just a secret. It’s also intensifying. “Before the normalization happened, the Israelis would collaborate with the Moroccans, but also wouldnt feel comfortable going beyond this covert intelligence or military or ad hoc cooperation,” Fabiani said. “But with normalization, this has now reached a whole new level that is unprecedented.” Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News. The post Exporting Occupation: Israeli Business is Booming in Morocco-Occupied Western Sahara appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, News, Top Story, gas exploration, Israel, Israeli businesses, Morocco, occupation, Western Sahara]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/6/23 7:14am
The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. The truth can’t be racist, wrote British Home Secretary Suella Braverman in April of this year, as she peddled xenophobic and debunked tropes about South Asian men being a particular threat to British children. Braverman’s comments come after nearly a decade of national hysteria about so-called Pakistani “grooming gangs” roaming around the country, sexually abusing white children while overly woke authorities watch on, helpless, too scared to act, lest they be called racist. Braverman, who herself is of South Asian (Indian) origin, made these comments in the far-right magazine The Spectator, an outlet that has published articles with titles such as “In Praise of the Wehrmacht” and A fascist takeover of Greece? We should be so lucky. Nevertheless, her screed breathed new life into the relentless push to demonize British Muslims. Here to talk about “grooming gangs,” academic malpractice, pseudoscience, and the malfeasance of the ruling British Conservative Party is Dr. Ella Cockbain, an associate professor in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London. Cockbain has been at the heart of scrutinizing the dangerous media tropes presenting Muslims as a threat. She is the author of the article “Failing Victims, fuelling hate: challenging the Harms of the ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ Narrative,” published in the academic journal Race & Class. Cockbain claims that Braverman is an “overtly racist” politician, noting her (false) comments that members of grooming gangs are “almost all British-Pakistani” and that their victims are “overwhelmingly white girls from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds” have done much to undermine tolerance and coexistence in the United Kingdom. “These things are not facts,” Cockbain said; “actually, they [Braverman’s claims] directly contradict the findings of her own department, the U.K. home office.” While Cockbain agrees that men of Pakistani origin have committed horrific crimes against children, so have people from all other racial, ethnic, religious and class backgrounds. Yet when other offenders – particularly white men – attack children, their race is never singled out as a causal factor. Thus, when Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Prince Andrew or a host of other high-profile white abusers hit headlines, there is no campaign to demand all white men be put under high surveillance, and there are no far-right marches demanding payback for what whites have done to “our children.” The effect of this ongoing moral panic, based on what Cockbain calls “terrible pieces of pseudoscience,” has been to harden attitudes and create racial conflicts within British society. Children of South Asian origin report being bullied and being called a “groomer.” The U.K. far-right has capitalized on this, leading hate marches against Muslim communities under the cover of supposed concern for British children. White nationalist terrorists such as Darren Osborne or the Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant have specifically mentioned anger over British Muslim “grooming gangs” as reasons for why they carried out their atrocities. Unfortunately, Britain’s notorious press has played along, fanning the flames of resentment. The effect of this has been to distract from the government’s own failings. Ironically, the Conservative government has been cutting budgets for child protection, mental health, schooling and other services that directly deal with the effects of child sexual abuse, making the problem far worse. Yet refugees and other minority groups are blamed for long waiting times to see doctors or the fact that services are overused. Thus, they have skillfully managed to shift the blame onto some of Britain’s most marginalized communities, playing the game of divide and rule masterfully. Watch or listen to the show on MintPress, or your favorite podcast provider. And if you enjoyed it, please leave us a “like” or a five-star review. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post The Truth About Britains Grooming Gangs, with Ella Cockbain appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Podcasts, Top Story, Britain, Ella Cockbain, Grooming Gangs, Lowkey, Muslims, Pakistani]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/5/23 9:38am
Amid an ongoing crisis in recruitment, the military has found a novel way of enticing teens to enlist: thirst traps. “MintCast” co-host Alan MacLeod joins Mnar Adley for an in-house edition of the podcast to describe how the military is using young teens’ horniness against them, utilizing an army of attractive women posting sexually suggestive content on social media – in effect, turning a generation of young men from simps into soldiers. Alan MacLeod is senior staff writer and podcast producer for MintPress News. He has worked at the company since 2019. Before joining MintPress, he was an academic and freelance journalist specializing in Latin America and in analyzing media and propaganda. In recent months, he has specialized in analyzing U.S. military propaganda and exploring the national security state’s ties to big social media organizations. His latest investigation, “From Simp to Soldier: How the Military is Using E-Girls To Recruit Gen Z Into Service,” can be read exclusively at MintPress News. Chief amongst these new Army e-girls pushing their followers to join up is 21-year-old Hailey Lujan. In recent months, Lujan’s social media profile has exploded, with the young star now boasting nearly three-quarters of a million followers on TikTok alone. In between posting highly sexually suggestive content and zany memes, however, are subtle and not-so-subtle commands to her army of loyal followers to join up. “Don’t go to college; become a farmer or a soldier instead,” she says in one recent video. The plot thickens, however, when we look into Lujan’s background. She is a member of the Army’s psychological operations division, whose job it is to carry out online propaganda and influence operations. Despite constantly hinting that she is a “psyop” herself, Lujan strenuously denies that the Army controls her content. MintPress asked the Department of Defense for comment but received no response. MacLeod told Adley today that it is almost a moot point whether the Army is actively directing Lujan or merely tacitly approves of her attempts to lure horny young people into serving, stating: I think if you were [psychology expert and father of modern propaganda] Edward Bernays, you might say that it doesn’t really matter whether she is or isn’t being supported by the military, because, ultimately, what this is doing is getting people who look at this content – and there are millions of people watching this stuff – to associate lustfulness and horniness with joining the military. It’s literally making them horny for war.” In recent months, multiple branches of the military have also entered into partnerships with top YouTube influencers to produce sponsored content promoting enlistment, with these stars telling their tens of millions of fans to consider joining the military. Unlike other paid promotion deals, though, these content creators are not selling soda or sneakers but a life in the world’s most ruthless and deadly killing machine. From there, MacLeod also describes the Department of Defense’s shocking influence in the world of video games, movies and entertainment, detailing how so many of the titles we know and love have been totally redesigned in secret by military agents in order to make their message as pro-war as possible. The discussion reveals how wide-ranging the reach of the military is in everyday life and how so much of our reality is curated by forces we do not perceive. Join us for an incredible and eye-opening discussion. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. Mnar Adley is founder and director of MintPress News and Behind The Headlines and is also a producer and host for both platforms. Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Thirst Trap Nation: How E-girls Are Luring Young Boys Into Joining Army, with Alan MacLeod appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, National, Top Story, Alan MacLeod, E-girls, Hailey Lujan, Propaganda, psychological operations, recruitment crisis, Social Media, Thirst traps, U.S. military]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/5/23 6:02am
After signing a military decree on May 18, allowing illegal Israeli Jewish settlers to reclaim the abandoned Homesh settlement located in the northern Occupied West Bank, the Israeli government has informed the US Biden Administration that it will not turn the area into a new settlement. The latter revelation was reported by Axios on May 23. This contradiction is hardly surprising. While Israels far-right ministers, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, know precisely what they want, Netanyahu is trying to perform an impossible political act: he wants to fulfill all the wishes of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, but without veering off from the US political agenda in the Middle East, and without creating the circumstances that could eventually topple the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, Netanyahu wants to normalize with Arab governments while continuing to colonize Palestine, expand settlements and have complete control over Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy shrines. Worse still, he wants, per the insistence of Ben-Gvir and his extremist religious constituency, to repopulate Homesh and create new outposts while avoiding an all-out armed rebellion in the West Bank. Concurrently, Netanyahu wants good relations with the Arabs and Muslims while constantly humiliating, oppressing and killing Arabs and Muslims. Indeed, such a feat is virtually impossible. Netanyahu is not a novice politician who is failing at appeasing all his target audiences simultaneously. He is a right-wing ideologue who uses the Zionist ideology and religion as the foundation of his political agenda. Anywhere else, especially in the Western world, Netanyahu would have been perceived to be a far-right politician. One of the reasons that the West is yet to brand Netanyahu as such is that if there is a general agreement that Netanyahu is an affront to democracy, it would be difficult to engage with him diplomatically. While the likes of Italy’s far-right government of Giorgia Meloni hosted Netanyahu last March, US President Joe Biden is yet to meet the Israeli leader in person, months after the latter composed his latest government of far-right religionists. Netanyahu is aware of all these challenges and that his countrys reputation, even among allies, is in tatters. The Israeli leader, however, is determined to persevere for his own sake. It took five elections in four years for Netanyahu to assemble a relatively stable government. New elections carry risks, as the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, is slated to win a majority of seats if a sixth election is held. But satisfying Ben-Gvir and others is turning Israel into a country governed by populist, nationalist leaders determined on instituting a religious war. Judging by the evidence on the ground, they might get what they want. The truth is neither Ben-Gvir nor Smotrich has Netanyahus political savvy or experience. Rather, they are the political equivalent of bulls in a China shop. They want to sow the seeds of chaos and use the mayhem to further their agenda: more illegal settlements, more ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and, ultimately, a religious war. Due to these pressures, Netanyahu, with an expansionist agenda of his own, is unable to follow a clear blueprint regarding how to fully annex large parts of the West Bank and render Palestinians permanently stateless. He cannot develop and maintain a consistent strategy because his allies have a strategy of their own. And, unlike Netanyahu, they care little for overstepping their boundaries with Washington, Brussels, Cairo or Amman. This must be frustrating for Netanyahu, who, through over 15 years in office, has developed an effective strategy based on several equilibriums. While slowly colonizing the West Bank and maintaining a siege and occasional wars in Gaza, he also learned to feign the language of peace and reconciliation internationally. Though he had his own troubles with Washington in the past, Netanyahu often prevailed, with the support of the US Congress. And though he provoked Arab, Muslim and African countries on numerous occasions, he still managed to normalize ties with many of them. His was a winning strategy, which he bragged about shamelessly at every election campaign. But it seems that the party is finally over. Netanyahus new political agenda is now motivated by a single objective: his own survival or, rather, that of his family, several members of which are implicated by charges of corruption and nepotism. If the current Israeli government collapses under the weight of its own contradictions and extremism, it would be nearly impossible for Netanyahu to recover his position. If far-right parties abandon Netanyahus Likud, Israel will sink even deeper into a seemingly unending political crisis and social turmoil. For now, Netanyahu will have to stay the course that of unprovoked wars, deadly raids on the West Bank, attacks on holy shrines, repopulating or establishing new illegal settlements, allowing armed settlers to unleash daily violence against Palestinians and so on, regardless of the consequences of these actions. One of these consequences is widening the armed rebellion to reach the rest of the Occupied West Bank. For a few years now, the armed struggle phenomenon has been growing across the West Bank. In areas like Nablus and Jenin, armed Resistance groups have grown in power to the point that the PA is left with little control over these regions. This phenomenon is also an outcome of the lack of a true Palestinian leadership that invests more in representing and protecting Palestinians against Israeli violence rather than engaging in security coordination with the Israeli military. Now that Ben-Gvir and Smotrichs followers are wreaking havoc in the West Bank in the absence of any protection for Palestinian civilians, Palestinian fighters are adopting the role of protectors. The Lions Den is a direct manifestation of this reality. For Palestinians, armed resistance is a natural response to military occupation, apartheid and settler violence. It is not a political strategy per se. For Israel, however, violence is a strategy. For Netanyahu, the frequent deadly raids on Palestinian towns and refugee camps translate into political assets that allow him to keep his extremist supporters happy. But this is short-term thinking. If Israel’s unchecked violence continues, the West Bank could soon find itself in an all-out military uprising against Israel and an open rebellion against the PA. Then, no magic trick or balancing act by Netanyahu can possibly control the outcomes. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Gangster Diplomacy: How Netanyahu is Provoking Armed Intifada in the West Bank appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Top Story, conflict, intifada, Israel, Netanyahu, Palestine, Peace Process, Settlements, violence, West Bank]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/1/23 9:08am
You can indict Vladimir Putin over war crimes in Ukraine. But if you do, you’d better indict Joe Biden as well. That is the message that Professor Alfred de Zayas, world-renowned human rights and international law expert, gave “MintCast” host Alan MacLeod on today’s episode of the series. A Swiss-American lawyer, academic and United Nations official with over 50 years’ experience in the field of human rights, de Zayas joins us for a wide-ranging discussion about international law and Ukraine, U.S. sanctions, whistleblowers, the successes and failures of the United Nations and its bodies, and the growth of a new and cynical “human rights industry” that weaponizes the concept to attack foreign governments. “The double standards [with regard to Russia] are absolutely breathtaking” de Zayas said, noting how British International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan had discontinued all investigations into NATO war crimes in Afghanistan but continued those into the Taliban against NATO. Now the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Putin, another one-sided decision that de Zayas claims has made the organization a joke: There is no question that here, the crime of aggression has been committed, and certainly Russian troops have committed crimes in Ukraine. But you cannot prosecute one side and let the other side off scot-free. If you are going to indict a serving head of state [like Putin], then you would have to indict Joe Biden.” The United States and NATO, he says, have been carrying out dangerous provocations in Ukraine for years, supplying weapons to militias who use them against civilians, while also carrying out similar crimes to Russia in Afghanistan, meaning that anyone with a semblance of balance or neutrality would conclude that American leaders need to be held accountable, too. After graduating from Harvard University in 1970, de Zayas practiced law in New York and Florida. For many years, he served in various human rights organizations and as a senior official at the United Nations. From 2010 to 2013 he was editor-in-chief of Ex Tempore, the United Nations’ literary journal. Until 2018, he was UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order. In addition to this, he has taught law at academic institutions across the world, including the University of Geneva, the University of Trier, the Human Rights Institute at the Irish National University and DePaul University. De Zayas is also a prolific author and thinker attempting to construct the framework for a better world. Among his recent works include “Building a Just World Order” (2021), “Countering Mainstream Narratives,” (2022) and his latest book, “The Human Rights Industry” (2023). De Zayas has been a leading international critic of U.S. sanctions, which, he points out, should really be referred to as “unilateral coercive measures”, as the former conveys some legitimacy to them. “It’s important not to use the term ‘sanctions’, because ‘sanctions’ implies that the country imposing them somehow has a legal or moral authority to do so and the targeted country has somehow violated international law,” he told MacLeod. In fact, he notes, it is the U.S. that regularly flouts international law, and it can get away with it because its overwhelming power has allowed it a foster “culture of impunity” for its actions, internationally. In 2020, after travelling to the country, de Zayas described U.S. sanctions against Venezuela as akin to a medieval siege and estimated that they had killed 100,000 innocent people. From there, the esteemed diplomat casts his ire on the mainstream, corporate media, who he claims are complicit in Western war crimes, on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which as “lost its credibility” going along with the U.S. on Syria and on those who keep Julian Assange in confinement because of his services to journalism. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Ukraine, Human Rights, and International Law, with Alfred de Zayas appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Alan MacLeod, Alfred de Zayas, Human Rights, International Law, Ukraine]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 6/1/23 7:09am
Amid a crisis in recruitment, the U.S. military has found a new way of convincing a war-weary Generation Z to enlist: thirst traps. Chief among these attractive young women in uniform posting sexually suggestive content alongside subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) calls to join up is Hailey Lujan. In between the thirst traps and memes, the 21-year-old makes content extolling the fun of Army life to her 731,000 TikTok followers. “Don’t go to college, become a farmer or a soldier instead,” she instructs viewers in a recent video. “Just some advice for the younger people: if you’re not doing school, it’s ok. I dropped out of college. And I’m doing great,” she adds. If Lujan feels like a psyop (a psychological operation) it is because, technically, she is. Lujan is a psychological operations specialist; one of a small number of Army personnel whose job is to carry out influence and disinfo operations, either on or offline. Thus, she is using her femininity to recruit legions of lustful teens into an institution with an infamous record of sexism and sexual assault against female soldiers. According to Lujan, being a soldier is the “coolest job in the world.” She certainly does make Army life look fun, as she abseils down walls, fires a howitzer, and flies around in an Apache helicopter. “101st airborne division knows what the girls (and boys) really want”, she notes as she plays around with a high-tech, remote controlled robot. Until late last year, Lujan’s social media accounts were far more tame. But as she pivoted towards content of her in skimpy outfits or suggestive, military-related videos and pictures, her following exploded to nearly three-quarters of a million on TikTok alone. Judging by the comments, her army of followers sees military life in a new light. There are many active duty service members with large social media followings, but what makes Lujan stand out is her offbeat, Gen-Z style humor and how she leans into the idea that she is a military propaganda operation. With videos titled “My handlers made me post this”, “Not endorsed by the DoD ? :3” or “most wholesome fedpost”, she revels in layers of irony and appears to enjoy the whole “am I or aren’t I” question that people in her replies and mentions constantly debate. The ironyposting is dialed up to 11, however, with Lujan’s own videos about psychological operations. In a video entitled “no one is immune to propaganda”, she even shares content laying out how the U.S. government manipulates public opinion through the media. In true Gen-Z style, she captioned another of her videos “propaganda this propaganda that let me take a propa ganda at them yitties”. As many popular e-girls have done, she has diversified her content, producing a calendar and t-shirts for her battalions of loyal simps to buy. Her official personal website is called Sike Ops. Lujan’s content appears to be a part of a weird new strategy of military outreach, shocking academics and military experts alike. “My main reaction is disgust and disappointment. People like Lujan are why I ended up declaring myself a conscientious objector during the Iraq War,” Rosa del Luca, adjunct professor of journalism at Diablo Valley College and author of “Breaking Cadence: One Womans War Against the War” told MintPress, adding: I cant believe shes getting away with posting some of this stuff. Everyone learns in boot camp that when you are in uniform, you cannot act unprofessionally, or you get in deep trouble. Maybe they [Army brass] saw how popular Lujans posts are, and how shes basically doing recruiting for them and left her alone.” Matthew Alford, a media and propaganda specialist from the University of Bath, U.K., was similarly amazed by her content. “Lujans content and messaging is wild. If she really is being used by the military for recruitment, then we have entered a brave, bizarre new world of Army recruitment strategies,” he told MintPress.   Yvan ehT Nioj There is no doubt that Lujan is aware that she functions as a new, avant-garde Army recruitment tool. In one short film made with a fellow military influencer, she stars as the pretty military bait, luring young men into service. Played for laughs, the film shows a young man standing outside an Army recruitment center, deciding not to enlist, only to see the dreamy Lujan enter the building, after which he joins up in a haze of horniness. Thus, it is clear that Lujan is indeed a military recruitment tool. The only question is whether the famously image-conscious Army merely tacitly approves of her content, or whether they are intimately involved in its production. MintPress asked the Department of Defense for clarification, but has received no response. Nevertheless, Edward Bernays, the father of modern propaganda, might conclude that it matters little if Lujan is or is not an Army psyop; the consequence is still to get impressionable young men to associate lust with the military, connecting sexual desire with the armed forces – in effect, making them horny for war. The fact that Lujan is a psychological operations specialist with the Army makes the whole situation even more suspicious, given that her jobs is to convince, persuade and propagandize in creative new ways. The Army recruitment website description of the role sounds eerily similar to her own content. “As a Psychological Operations Specialist, you’ll be an expert at persuasion,” it reads, adding: You’ll assess and develop the information needed to influence and engage specific audiences. You’ll broadcast important information through various mediums and assist U.S. and foreign governments, militaries, and civilian populations.” Multiple videos suggest Lujan is connected with the 101st Airborne Division. Location data shows she is based at Fort Campbell, a large military installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky border that houses the storied division. Last year, she took part in Saber Junction 22, a huge military exercise in Germany, featuring thousands of troops from the U.S., Italy, Romania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and a host of NATO ally states.   Armies of Simps Lujan is far from the only serviceperson on military TikTok (#MilTok) promoting military life, however. Juliana Keding – a military policewoman with over 900,000 followers – regularly combines thirst traps with videos about Army life. Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force medic Rylee (@RyeRoast, 468,000 TikTok followers), has even leaned into the idea that her online persona is also a psyop. Yet their content is less overt and there is no hard recruitment sell with them. Indeed, they rarely discuss it at all. @bigdaddyjujuonthatbeat To clarify (and so i dont get in trouble) id gaf about other’s opinions of me or about excuses HAPPY MONDAY!!! #MADEBEFOREWORKINGHOURS #trending #viral #fyp #foryoupage #foryou #miltoks #miltok #miltokcommunity #femalemarines #usmc #marines #navy #army #airforce #military #marinecorps #hair #hairtutorial #buntutorial ♬ MuffinTops Jimmy Baggz Nevertheless, it is clear that the powers that be appreciate their content subtly promoting military life. The official Air Force media guide states that “You are encouraged to use social media to share your experiences as an Airman” as “Your stories might inspire someone to join the Air Force, support the Air Force, comfort a parent or spouse, improve morale or correct inaccurate information.” Those experiences, however, better be positive ones, as it also warns that sharing the wrong kind of information (i.e. content showing the military in a bad light) “could jeopardize you and your Airman’s career”. “My leadership is fully aware of my social media and actually are, in fact, very supportive of it” Rylee states in one video, “Id love to get payed [sic] for this lmao” she commented on another, suggesting that hers is a freelance operation. Perhaps the closest star to Lujan in tone and content is Israeli Defense Forces military policewoman Natalia Fadeev, aka @GunWaifu. With 2.7 million TikTok followers, Fadeev is the queen of the simp-to-soldier pipeline, posting highly suggestive content alongside passionate defenses of Israel. Her videos (many of which have garnered over 1 million views each) suggest that Palestinians are an invented people, that Israel is a safe haven for LGBT groups and that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. In addition to the propaganda, Fadeev has also flirted with the idea that her account is an Israeli psyop.   YouTubers join the military TikTok is not the only battleground for young people’s minds, however. In the last year, a significant portion of the Biden administration’s record-breaking $857 billion defense budget went on advertising. The Army in particular has spent large sums of money collaborating with some of YouTube’s biggest stars to produce barely disguised recruitment videos. YouTube star Michelle Khare (3.71 million subscribers) “joined the Army” for her video, traveling to Fort Benning, GA, where she tackled obstacle courses, practiced marksmanship, and trained to jump out a plane. Glossing over the fort’s infamous reputation for training many of the world’s most brutal military dictators, the video ends with the message, “To Army soldiers and veterans, thank you for your service.” The description box features multiple pro-Army hashtags, plus an affiliate link to sign up for service. The video has already garnered 2.8 million views. In April, YouTube mega influencer Ben Azelart released a strikingly similar partnered video to Khare’s, called “YouTubers vs. U.S. Army” in which he also glamorized military life, interviewing one officer who told him that the Army is, at its core, about: The absolute transformation of the individual into a more accomplished, better version of themselves. As a valued member of a team, stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something new, challenging yourself, but being encouraged along the entire way.” And like Khare, Azelart was careful to direct his 20.8 million subscribers towards an Army recruitment link, stating, “The challenges we had to endure were both physically and mentally challenging, but so rewarding! The Army is an opportunity, a bridge to self-development, and a place where you can be a valued member of a team regardless of hometown, ethnicity, or gender.” Meanwhile, pro gaming star Doug “Censor” Martin flew out to Fort Carson, CO, to shoot a fawning extended advertisement for the military, presenting Army life as just like playing military shooter video game “Call of Duty.” “Without you guys, what do we have?” Martin says to the soldiers he encounters, adding; We love you; we appreciate all of you guys. If you guys have any interest in joining the Army, there are so many different career paths, over 200 career paths. If you guys want to know any more information, click the links down below. I had so much fun coming out here, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” This sort of content is far more potent than the simple advertisements between television programs of yesteryear. Firstly, because it is the show and allows the Army to showcase itself to millions of impressionable viewers, most of whom cannot differentiate between paid and unpaid content. Furthermore, it comes courtesy of stars viewers love, respect and trust.   War Machine The difference, however, between these and other advertisements YouTube stars run is that they are not selling their suggestible young audiences soda or shoes, but are trying to convince them to join the world’s most sophisticated and ruthless killing machine. A new study from the Costs of War project at Brown University estimated that 4.5 million people have died as a result of the U.S.’ post-9/11 wars, primarily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan. In addition, the report estimates at least 38 million more people have been forced to flee their homes. Yet this sort of brutal devastation is not even hinted at in these promotional videos. The United States is a nation addicted to war, spending 229 of its 247 years of existence in some kind of conflict. It controls a network of over 800 military bases spanning the globe, and, according to a Congressional report, has carried out a staggering 251 foreign military interventions since the end of the Cold War in 1991. A new report compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that the U.S. spends more on its military than 144 nations combined. This constant drive towards war takes a serious toll on those recruits who enlist. The job attrition rate is extremely high; only 17% of active duty military members stay around long enough to earn any pension whatsoever. Veterans complain of broken promises from recruiters, while every year, between 6,000 and 7,000 veterans commit suicide. Del Luca also noted that women face a particularly hard time. “The military is extremely sexist,” she said; Even the VA agrees that 1 in 3 women in uniform are sexually assaulted while ‘serving.’ I put ‘serving’ in quotation marks because I dont see a useful service being done. Young people who join the military are taught how to kill and use weapons and follow orders and shut up.” These carefully choreographed advertisements say nothing about these harsh realities, instead painting a rosy picture of life in uniform as one of endless opportunities and dignified service.   Propaganda Blitz Faced with a shortfall in recruitment, the military has been aggressively marketing itself towards younger and younger generations. The Army has sponsored gaming tournaments, even fielding their own U.S. Army Esports team and directly trying to recruit teens on streaming sites such as Twitch. The Amazon-owned platform eventually had to clamp down on the practice after the military used fake prize giveaways that lured impressionable young viewers onto recruitment websites. As detailed in a previous MintPress investigation, the Armed Forces also work closely with video game companies on titles such as “Call of Duty,” flying executives out to ensure they become, in their own words, more “credible advocates” for American power. Meanwhile, Dr. Alford’s research has exposed how deep the connection between Hollywood and the Pentagon has become, with the Department of Defense essentially co-producing thousands of movies and TV shows. “In our 2017 book ‘National Security Cinema’ we listed around 2000 titles worked on by the state. By the time our film, ‘Theaters of War’ was out in 2022, we had evidence for 10,000. This suggests an incredible level of public manipulation – and cover up”, he told MintPress. These titles include a vast array of blockbuster films, including “Iron Man”, “The Avengers” and “Top Gun: Maverick”, all the way down to light entertainment like “Teen Idol”, “The Price is Right” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”. Militaristic propaganda is everywhere in pop culture. Katy Perry’s music video for “Part of Me” is shot at Camp Pendleton in California and shows the star joining the Marines to better herself. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball held what it called a “military appreciation week” last month, where players, coaches and all on-field personnel were instructed to wear camo “service-inspired” caps and encouraged to sport camo socks, helmets and other gear. Some teams are going further: the Washington Nationals are hosting six “Branch Day” games this summer, dedicated to the six arms of the U.S. military. The events are sponsored by arms manufacturer Raytheon Technologies. Major League Baseball did not respond to MintPress’ questions, but previous ultra-nationalistic displays were not independent outbursts of patriotism, but carefully planned events paid for by the military, meaning that the taxpayer footed the bill to be exposed to such propaganda. It is now well-established (if not well-known) that the Department of Defense also fields a giant clandestine army of at least 60,000 people whose job it is to influence public opinion, the majority doing so from their keyboards. A 2021 exposé from Newsweek described the operation as “The largest undercover force the world has ever known,” warned that this troll army was likely breaking both domestic and international law, and explaining that, These are the cutting-edge cyber fighters and intelligence collectors who assume false personas online, employing ‘nonattribution’ and ‘misattribution’ techniques to hide the who and the where of their online presence while they search for high-value targets and collect what is called ‘publicly accessible information’—or even engage in campaigns to influence and manipulate social media.” The Twitter Files further exposed the Department of Defense’s shadowy propaganda, showing how it worked with Twitter to carry out a Washington-run influence project across the Middle East, even as Twitter claimed it was working to shut down foreign-backed disinformation operations.   Not our war For all the creatively dystopian attempts to market itself as a positive force to young people, it is far from clear whether the military is succeeding in its goal. 2022 saw the lowest recruitment figures since the draft was abolished in 1973. The Army alone missed its enlistment target by 25%, or 15,000 active-duty soldiers. The numbers for 2023 are expected to be even more dismal. A great number of Generation Z do not qualify for service on medical grounds, and even fewer wish to join. According to a recent survey, America’s youth are decidedly against becoming a cog in the war machine; only 9% of Zoomers express any interest in enlisting in the Armed Forces. This, according to U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, is in large part down to many “misconceptions” people have about soldiers being sexually harassed, developing PTSD or driven to suicide by what they have seen. Others, such as del Luca, might consider those justified concerns. The military, she says, preys on desperate idealistic teens trying to find a way out of their life circumstances or go to college. Every single veteran you meet will tell you that the expectations they had before enlisting were wildly different from how their service ended up,” she said; “I hope teens wise up to the fact that they are being hunted and lured by recruiters who have a quota to fill… If the military was a great, honorable profession, then they wouldnt need to spend $6 billion a year bribing people to join.” While it is still not certain whether they are actually directing and paying for it, what is clear is that the U.S. military is hoping that E-girls will be part of their recruitment solution, turning armies of horny American teens from simps into soldiers. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post From Simp to Soldier: How the Military is Using E-Girls To Recruit Gen Z Into Service appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Investigations, National, News, Top Story, E-girls, Hailey Lujan, Propaganda, psychological operations, recruitment crisis, Thirst traps, U.S. military]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/30/23 9:09am
There needs to be a particularly high standard of cynicism and cruelty to rob destitute people. In many ways, this is what capitalism is all about. But to use the fact that people are near ruin to exploit them is as cold as it gets. People in Gaza are confined to living with few resources in what amounts to a prison. They are permitted levels of nutrition and medicine that are just enough to prevent total starvation and disease. This is only because Israel, which controls the piece of land known as the Gaza Strip, does not want disease to spread into its own borders.   Exploiting Gazans Israel exploits the suffering of Gazans in order to recruit collaborators and garner whatever intelligence they may be able to provide. It is well known that people in Gaza who are in need of permits for medical care for themselves or their children are often asked to work for the Israeli authorities as informants. While all of these are expressions of cruelty, brutality and racism, here we are actually discussing another issue, one of unimaginable historic value. For years, Gaza has been robbed of priceless archaeological treasures that will very likely end up in an Israeli museum or in the private collections of the wealthy.   A History of wealth Gaza has been an important and wealthy city since the days of antiquity. It is obvious that archeological treasures of immense value lay buried under the ground of the city and its surroundings. According to sources from Gaza who shall remain unnamed, there is a criminal and highly immoral network of diplomats, journalists and people working in non-governmental organizations who smuggle these immeasurably valuable artifacts out of the strip. Once they are out, these ancient artifacts are sold to the highest bidder. There are several Israeli institutions that hold archeological treasures stolen from all parts of Palestine, including Gaza. Two notable examples of this theft can be found right beside each other: the Israel Museum and the Israeli Lands of the Bible Museum in occupied West Jerusalem. Left, Abdelkarim al-Kafarna, displays potteries found in a tomb discovered in his backyard in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. Right, a Palestinian boy looks at a discovered tomb consisting of nine burial holes, in his backyard in Beit Hanoun,. Photo | AP But the treasures discussed here are being dug out of people’s backyards and the immense tunnels that crisscross the Gaza Strip. Rather than remain in the hands of Palestinians, they are being bought and sold as commodities, and there is a very real risk that Gaza will lose some of its greatest archeological treasures. A friend showed me a picture of gold coins found in someone’s garden. Gold coins with images of pharaohs, others with Roman emperors. Since unemployment was skyrocketing in the area, the person who dug them from the ground wanted cash for these items, just so he could keep food on the table.   Disregard for the Palestinian people The immense loss of life and lack of freedom for people in Gaza is paramount. It is the result of a total disregard for the life of Palestinians. The great theft of items from Gaza also comes from disregard for the past and the possible future of its people. This is not a criticism of those who are trying to feed their children; it is an indictment of a world that will enrich itself by exploiting people’s lack of options. People who smuggle these treasures from the Gaza Strip must know that these invaluable artifacts will never return to their rightful owners. Instead, they will adorn the private collections of greedy men and women who will, from time to time, donate an item to a museum or allow the artifacts to be displayed and be rewarded with plaques and accolades for their “generosity.” As these collectors of stolen artifacts enjoy them and share them with others, the people of Gaza are bleeding what may be the last treasure they have; their rich history and the artifacts that this history has buried for future generations to find.   A City of great importance Gaza was known to be the home of great universities. It is well known that the sons of Greek and Roman Noblemen would be sent there to study. It was a wealthy city, both in trade and in culture. Later on, it also became an important center for monastic Christian traditions. The famous Madaba Map at Saint George’s church in Madaba, Jordan, is a mosaic map considered to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Dating back to the 6th century AD, it is the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land, depicts it stretching from Lebanon all the way to the Nile delta. Jerusalem is shown in great detail. The 6th century AD Madaba Map at the Orthodox Church of St. George the Victorious in Madaba, Jordan. Alexander Melnikov | Sputnik via AP   The Nakba as a force of destruction Sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, slightly broken from the wear and tear of the years, the map shows the city of Gaza. Based on the size and the detail that Gaza is depicted, it was clearly a city of some importance. However, what do people today know of Gaza and its glory? Nothing. The Nakba, which was recently commemorated, though totally inadequately, is a process of destruction and genocide that has been going on for three-quarters of a century. It is a phenomenon where an external, foreign power has taken over Palestine with the clear intention of destroying it and erasing its history by any, and all means necessary. The Nakba is an act of terrorism aimed at genocide and erasure. It is arguably unprecedented in its scope and length of time. Gaza is unique in its position and in the conditions that exist within it, but the grand theft of Palestine and its riches is part and parcel of the Nakba throughout all of Palestine. Now, wicked, greedy people are taking advantage of the poverty and despair in Gaza in order to loot what may be its last bit of ancient historical wealth. Feature photo | Ramadan Ahmed collects wealth of stones and archaeological rocks in Gaza. Yousef Masoud | Sipa via AP Images Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books areThe Generals Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, and Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. The post The Cultural Looting of Gaza appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, News, Top Story, Antiquities, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Miko Peled, theft]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/30/23 7:02am
It is unclear why 100-year-old Henry Kissinger has been elevated by the Western intelligentsia to serve the role of the visionary in how the West should behave in response to the Russia-Ukraine war. But does the centenarian politician have the answers? Every major global conflict that involved the US and its NATO allies in the past had its own state-sanctioned intellectuals. These are the people who usually explain, justify and promote the Wests position to their own countrymen first, then internationally. They are not intellectuals in the strict definition of the term, as they rarely use critical thinking to reach conclusions that may or may not be consistent with the official position or interests of Western governments. Instead, they advocate and champion stances that are dominant within the various strands of power. Quite often, these intellectuals have the privilege of time. In the case of Iraq, for example, neoconservative intellectuals, the likes of Bernard Lewis, worked tirelessly to promote war, which ended in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Though the neocons continued to strongly support greater involvement in Iraq and the Middle East through military surges and the like, they were eventually though not permanently sidelined by a different group of intellectuals who supported a stronger American military presence in the Asia-pacific region. The West also had its own intellectuals who dominated news headlines during the so-called Arab Spring. The likes of French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy played a disruptive role in Libya and labored to shape political outcomes in the whole Middle East, posing as a dissident intellectual and a great advocate of human rights and democracy. From Lewis to Levy to others, the powerful Western intellectual practiced more than mere intellectualism. They have traditionally served a fundamental role in politics without being politicians per se, elected or otherwise. Kissinger, however, is an interesting and somewhat different phenomenon. He is the quintessential US-western politician who defined a whole era of realpolitik. Such notions as human rights, democracy and other moral considerations were rarely factors in his hawkish approach to politics throughout his stints as a Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and other official or non-official political roles. For Kissinger, what ultimately matters is Western hegemony, particularly the sustaining of the current power paradigm of Western global dominance at any cost. Thus, Kissingers intellect is the outcome of real-life experiences related to his long expertise in US diplomacy, the Cold War and other conflicts involving mainly the US, Russia, China, the Middle East and a host of NATO members. Another difference between Kissinger and other state-sponsored intellectuals is that the man’s wisdom is now being sought regarding an event that has not, per the West’s own claims, been instigated by US-NATO actions. Indeed, many Western countries believe that they are in a state of self-defense. Usually, this is not the case. Western foreign policy intellectuals typically shape policies in advance and promote and justify them while these policies are being carried out. In the case of Kissinger, Western intelligentsia sought his wisdom as a result of their palpable desperation, reflecting their own failure to read and respond to events in Ukraine in a unified and strategic manner. It is as if Henry Kissinger is a 100-year oracle whose prophecy can save the West from the supposed invasion of the hordes coming from the East. This claim is substantiated by the infamous statement made by the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, when he said that “Europe is a garden (but) most of the rest of the world is a jungle.” The problem, however, is that the oracle does not seem to make up its mind regarding the proper course of action. In a recent interview with the Economist, Kissinger sharply contradicted earlier comments he made last September at a forum organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. Back then, Kissinger stated that the expansion of NATO beyond its present context seemed to me an unwise measure. Relative to Kissingers legacy, that position seemed sensible enough as a starting point for future dialogue. The response to Kissingers comment from Western analysts and ideologues, however, forced him to alter his position. In an article in The Spectator in December, Kissinger articulated his own peace plan, one that ensures the freedom of Ukraine within a new international structure, one that would allow Russia to find a place in such an order. As for Ukraine and NATO, Kissinger proposed that some kind of a peace process should link Ukraine to NATO, however, expressed. That, too, was rejected, and loudly so, by many. Almost a year after the start of the war, Kissinger shifted further away from his original position by declaring that Ukrainian membership in NATO was the appropriate outcome of the war. And finally, in his long interview with the Economist, Kissinger linked Ukraine’s membership in NATO to the very safety of Europe. It would be convenient to claim that the apparent inconsistencies in Kissinger’s position were necessitated by new events on the ground. But little has changed on the ground since Kissinger made his first statement. And the possibility of a global, even nuclear war remains a real one. The problem, of course, is not Kissinger himself. The crisis is twofold: The West is unwilling to accept that war, for once, will not solve its problems, but it also has no alternative to ending conflict except through the triggering of yet more conflicts. This time around, Kissinger does not have the answer. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth.’ Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Prophets of Doom: Henry Kissinger and the ‘Intellectual’ Decline of the West appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, crisis, Henry Kissinger, NATO, nuclear war, Peace Plan, Realpolitik, Russia-Ukraine war, Ukraine, Western hegemony, Western intelligentsia]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/25/23 7:27am
Though the United States remains a strong supporter of Israel, there are some indications that the supposed unbreakable bond with Tel Aviv is faltering, though more in language than in deeds. Following the provocative ‘Flag March’ on May 18, which is carried out annually by Israeli Jewish extremists in the Occupied Palestinian city of East Jerusalem, the US joined other countries around the world in condemning the racism displayed at the event. The language used by the US State Department was firm but also guarded. Spokesman Matthew Miller did not condemn the racist, provocative march which involved leading Israeli officials but the language used by the large crowds, most of whom are strong supporters of the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form,” Miller tweeted. “We condemn the hateful chants such as Death to Arabs during today’s marches in Jerusalem.” The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form. We condemn the hateful chants such as “Death to Arabs” during today’s marches in Jerusalem. — Matthew Miller (@StateDeptSpox) May 19, 2023 Carefully articulated not to appear as a condemnation of Israel itself, the US position is still more ‘balanced’ than previous positions, where Palestinians were often the ones associated with the US use of words such as condemnation, incitement, and the like. On the other hand, during the Israeli bloody five-day war on Gaza, starting on May 9, Washington had resorted to the same old script, that of Israel having the ‘right to defend itself,’ thus entirely misrepresenting the events which led to the war in the first place. This US position on Israel’s war on Gaza suggests that Netanyahu is the defender of Israel against supposed Palestinian violence and terrorism. But this purported champion of Israeli rights is yet to be invited to the White House five months after he returned to power at the helm of Israels most rightwing government in history. Some want to believe that the decision by the Joe Biden administration to distance itself from Netanyahu was entirely altruistic. But that cannot be the case, as the US continues to back Israel militarily, financially, politically and in every other way. The answer lies in Netanyahus major miscalculations of the past when he crossed a dangerous line by turning against the Democratic Party and allying his country entirely with Republicans. His tactics paid dividends during the term of Republican President Donald Trump but backfired when Trump left the White House. Biden is unquestionably pro-Israel. Per his own repeated remarks, his support for Israel is not only political but ideological as well. “I am a Zionist. You dont have to be a Jew to be a Zionist,” he has repeated, and proudly so, on several occasions. But the US President is also anti-Netanyahu, a dislike that even preceded the Trump-Netanyahu love affair. It mostly dates back to Barack Obamas two terms in office, when Biden was the vice president. Netanyahu’s political shenanigans and relentless attacks on the Obama Administration at the time taught Biden that Netanyahu simply could not be trusted. Yet, Biden, with historically low ratings among ordinary Americans, cannot possibly, on his own, challenge Netanyahu and Israels stronghold on Washington through its influential lobby. Something else is at work, namely, the fact that the Democratic Party as a whole had shifted allegiances from Israel to Palestine. This assertion would have been unthinkable in the past, but the change is real, confirmed time and again by credible polling companies. The latest was in March. “After a decade in which Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% versus 38%,” the Gallup poll concluded. The fact that such growing affinity with Palestine has been taking place for at least a decade suggests that the position of the Democrats was a generational one, not an outcome of a single event. Indeed, numerous organizations and countless individuals are working on a daily basis to create a link between affinity and policy. Buoyed by the growing sympathies for Palestine, a long-time advocate of Palestinians’ rights in the US Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum reintroduced, on May 5, the ‘Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’. Co-sponsored by 16 other members of Congress, the legislation demands that Israel must be prohibited from using “US taxpayer dollars in the Occupied West Bank for the military detention, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.” Two years earlier, the Intercept had reported that McCollum and her supporters were pushing towards barring US aid to Israel from “subsidizing a wider array of Israeli occupation tactics.” Alex Kane wrote this is “an indication of just how far the debate over the US aid to Israel has come in the past six years,” a reference to 2015 when McCollum introduced the first legislation on the matter. Since then, things have moved forward at an even more accelerated speed. The effort to hold Israel accountable has now reached the New York state assembly. On May 16, The New York Post reported that legislation was introduced by several Democratic lawmakers aimed at blocking registered US charities from funneling money to fund illegal Israeli Jewish settlements. The legislation, Not on Our Dime!: Ending New York Funding of Israeli Settler Violence Act, dares to challenge Israel on multiple fronts: the traditional power of the pro-Israel lobby, questioning US funding of Israel and confronting the channeling of funds to illegal settlements in the name of charity work. Several reasons compel us to believe that the shift in US policy on Palestine and Israel, though slow, nuanced and, at times, symbolic, will likely continue. One is the fact that Israel is turning towards far-right nationalism, which is increasingly difficult to defend by US liberal government and media. Two, the steadfastness of Palestinians and their ability to overcome mainstream media restrictions and censorship that had prevented them from having any fair representation. And finally, the dedication of numerous civil society organizations and the widening network of support for Palestinians throughout the US, which allowed courageous lawmakers to push for substantive change in policy. Time will tell what direction Washington will take in the future. But, considering the current evidence, support for Israel is dwindling at rates that are unprecedented. For those advocating a just peace in Palestine, this is a good thing. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Not On Our Dime: Why Democrats Are Finally Challenging Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Banjamin Netanyahu, Betty McCollum, Democratic Party, Democrats, Flag March, Israel, Matthew Miller]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/25/23 7:27am
Though the United States remains a strong supporter of Israel, there are some indications that the supposed unbreakable bond with Tel Aviv is faltering, though more in language than in deeds. Following the provocative ‘Flag March’ on May 18, which is carried out annually by Israeli Jewish extremists in the Occupied Palestinian city of East Jerusalem, the US joined other countries around the world in condemning the racism displayed at the event. The language used by the US State Department was firm but also guarded. Spokesman Matthew Miller did not condemn the racist, provocative march which involved leading Israeli officials but the language used by the large crowds, most of whom are strong supporters of the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form,” Miller tweeted. “We condemn the hateful chants such as Death to Arabs during today’s marches in Jerusalem.” The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form. We condemn the hateful chants such as “Death to Arabs” during today’s marches in Jerusalem. — Matthew Miller (@StateDeptSpox) May 19, 2023 Carefully articulated not to appear as a condemnation of Israel itself, the US position is still more ‘balanced’ than previous positions, where Palestinians were often the ones associated with the US use of words such as condemnation, incitement, and the like. On the other hand, during the Israeli bloody five-day war on Gaza, starting on May 9, Washington had resorted to the same old script, that of Israel having the ‘right to defend itself,’ thus entirely misrepresenting the events which led to the war in the first place. This US position on Israel’s war on Gaza suggests that Netanyahu is the defender of Israel against supposed Palestinian violence and terrorism. But this purported champion of Israeli rights is yet to be invited to the White House five months after he returned to power at the helm of Israels most rightwing government in history. Some want to believe that the decision by the Joe Biden administration to distance itself from Netanyahu was entirely altruistic. But that cannot be the case, as the US continues to back Israel militarily, financially, politically and in every other way. The answer lies in Netanyahus major miscalculations of the past when he crossed a dangerous line by turning against the Democratic Party and allying his country entirely with Republicans. His tactics paid dividends during the term of Republican President Donald Trump but backfired when Trump left the White House. Biden is unquestionably pro-Israel. Per his own repeated remarks, his support for Israel is not only political but ideological as well. “I am a Zionist. You dont have to be a Jew to be a Zionist,” he has repeated, and proudly so, on several occasions. But the US President is also anti-Netanyahu, a dislike that even preceded the Trump-Netanyahu love affair. It mostly dates back to Barack Obamas two terms in office, when Biden was the vice president. Netanyahu’s political shenanigans and relentless attacks on the Obama Administration at the time taught Biden that Netanyahu simply could not be trusted. Yet, Biden, with historically low ratings among ordinary Americans, cannot possibly, on his own, challenge Netanyahu and Israels stronghold on Washington through its influential lobby. Something else is at work, namely, the fact that the Democratic Party as a whole had shifted allegiances from Israel to Palestine. This assertion would have been unthinkable in the past, but the change is real, confirmed time and again by credible polling companies. The latest was in March. “After a decade in which Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% versus 38%,” the Gallup poll concluded. The fact that such growing affinity with Palestine has been taking place for at least a decade suggests that the position of the Democrats was a generational one, not an outcome of a single event. Indeed, numerous organizations and countless individuals are working on a daily basis to create a link between affinity and policy. Buoyed by the growing sympathies for Palestine, a long-time advocate of Palestinians’ rights in the US Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum reintroduced, on May 5, the ‘Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’. Co-sponsored by 16 other members of Congress, the legislation demands that Israel must be prohibited from using “US taxpayer dollars in the Occupied West Bank for the military detention, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.” Two years earlier, the Intercept had reported that McCollum and her supporters were pushing towards barring US aid to Israel from “subsidizing a wider array of Israeli occupation tactics.” Alex Kane wrote this is “an indication of just how far the debate over the US aid to Israel has come in the past six years,” a reference to 2015 when McCollum introduced the first legislation on the matter. Since then, things have moved forward at an even more accelerated speed. The effort to hold Israel accountable has now reached the New York state assembly. On May 16, The New York Post reported that legislation was introduced by several Democratic lawmakers aimed at blocking registered US charities from funneling money to fund illegal Israeli Jewish settlements. The legislation, Not on Our Dime!: Ending New York Funding of Israeli Settler Violence Act, dares to challenge Israel on multiple fronts: the traditional power of the pro-Israel lobby, questioning US funding of Israel and confronting the channeling of funds to illegal settlements in the name of charity work. Several reasons compel us to believe that the shift in US policy on Palestine and Israel, though slow, nuanced and, at times, symbolic, will likely continue. One is the fact that Israel is turning towards far-right nationalism, which is increasingly difficult to defend by US liberal government and media. Two, the steadfastness of Palestinians and their ability to overcome mainstream media restrictions and censorship that had prevented them from having any fair representation. And finally, the dedication of numerous civil society organizations and the widening network of support for Palestinians throughout the US, which allowed courageous lawmakers to push for substantive change in policy. Time will tell what direction Washington will take in the future. But, considering the current evidence, support for Israel is dwindling at rates that are unprecedented. For those advocating a just peace in Palestine, this is a good thing. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Not On Our Dime: Why US Democrats Are Finally Challenging Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Banjamin Netanyahu, Betty McCollum, Democratic Party, Democrats, Flag March, Israel, Matthew Miller]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/24/23 8:58am
The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. It is now over four years ago that Julian Assange was spirited away from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and detained in Belmarshs maximum security prison. Being locked in a tiny concrete room for more than 1500 days has taken a serious toll on the Australian publisher; reports from this week suggest that his health is “deteriorating by the minute.” One man who has covered the Wikileaks co-founder’s case closer than almost anyone is Kevin Gosztola. Gosztola is an American journalist, the managing editor of Shadowproof and co-hosts the Unauthorized Disclosure Podcast with Rania Khalek. He is the author of the new book “Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case against Julian Assange.” Today, he joins “Watchdog” host Lowkey to talk all things WikiLeaks, Assange, leaks and cybersecurity. The U.S. government has always been hostile to leakers revealing embarrassing or compromising information about its actions. But Gosztola states that the Central Intelligence Agency’s “gloves came off” in 2017 as it ramped up its attacks on Assange. By 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo had labeled WikiLeaks as a hostile non-state intelligence service and began turning the screw. For Gosztola, the CIA’s response was a symptom of the agency’s insecurity; “And so at that point, the CIA probably feels they are threatened, their whole regime of pursuing the global war on terrorism is in jeopardy as a result of WikiLeaks,” he told Lowkey. It is often forgotten how much incredible, extraordinary information WikiLeaks provided the world. This included the Guantánamo prison manuals, which showed that the U.S. Army hid prisoners from Red Cross inspectors and illegally held captives in solitary confinement to soften them up for interrogation. WikiLeaks also published copious details of American war crimes. The most infamous of these was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, where American helicopter pilots carried out a massacre in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least nine people, including a Reuters journalist. Hillary Clinton’s notorious leaked emails also revealed the underhanded skulduggery of the Democratic Party machine, the documents showing how the party establishment had put their thumb on the scale for Clinton in a successful attempt to shut out left-wing populist Bernie Sanders from gaining the party’s nomination for president. Nevertheless, what WikiLeaks published was barely a toothpick in a forest compared to the amount of information the U.S. national security state keeps secret. Every day, Gosztola said, Washington produces tens of millions of pieces of classified information. This means, he added that it is becoming increasingly difficult and unwieldy to keep all these secrets under lock and key. If this continues, it might become “impossible for the U.S. government to keep doubling down and adding more infrastructure… eventually, the system might actually collapse in on itself because it isn’t able to support all of the stresses that are being put on it to protect” itself, he adds. Perhaps, then, Assange’s sacrifices will not be in vain, and the world will move towards a new, more open system of information exchange. Watch the video or listen to the audio exclusively with MintPress News. And subscribe to us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post The Fight To Free Julian Assange, with Kevin Gosztola appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Podcasts, Top Story, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case against Julian Assange, Julian Assange, Kevin Gosztola, Lowkey, Wikileaks]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/23/23 5:55am
The annual display of Jewish Supremacy in Palestine, known as the Flag March, is not limited to the Old City of Jerusalem. It is part of a campaign of intimidation in cities around the country that have a significant Palestinian population. This year this racist, violent display of supremacy took place in Jerusalem, Yafa ad El-Lyd.   The Torah Seed What could be more innocuous than a seed? A Torah seed is a seed through which the Torah grows and spreads. Building bridges, connecting people to their ancient traditions, aiding those who are in need and generally developing communities steeped in the values of charity and goodwill. This is the veil behind which the Settler community is planting itself in what are known as “mixed cities.” The world, and most Israeli Jews, concentrate only on the fanatic, racist gangs of settler communities in the West Bank. However, for several decades the same political, quasi-religious movement that created these awful communities has been moving into municipalities known as “mixed cities.” These include Yafa, El-Lyd, Ramle and a few others with large Palestinian populations. Their purpose is twofold: • To “plant the Torah seen in the Jewish communities,” or in other words, win the hearts and minds of poor, disenfranchised Israeli Jews, who typically live in “mixed cities.” • To terrorize and eventually push out the Palestinian communities from these cities, making them pure and Jewish.  This, of course, has nothing to do with Judaism. It is yet another expression of the racist ideology which created the State of Israel and is known as Zionism.   We are the landlords Claiming ownership of Palestine has always been an important Zionist talking point. What the Torah Seed groups are doing is marching through Palestinian neighborhoods to make that point. “We are the landlords,” we heard Itmar Ben-Gvir saying as he walked through the holy sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, and this they yell into the megaphones throughout Palestinian neighborhoods, in Yafa, El-Lyd, Ramle, Hebron, and, of course, Jerusalem. These settlers – who many people think are confined to the West Bank – are taking over by squeezing Palestinians out. We no longer see trucks with soldiers evicting Palestinians like in 1948 or 1967. Instead, we see settler gangs armed with police protection terrorizing Palestinians and making their lives unlivable. Because these cities are within the boundaries of 1948 Palestine, it is not the army that protects these thugs but the police.   Numbers In order to claim ownership of the land, Zionists have been obsessed with demographics. It was clear from the beginning that on that front, they are losing, and so they found a formula that makes it seem as though there is a Jewish majority and an Arab minority in “Israel.” Another sign of the Zionist obsession with demographics is that the state of Israel conducts a census almost every year – and year after year for as long as I can remember, they end up with the same calculation. Not that the numbers don’t grow, but the percentage of Arabs always remains more or less at twenty percent of the total population. We know that for decades Palestinians account for much more than twenty percent, so how does Israel do this? Well, it is not magic; they simply lie about the numbers. Israel does not count all the Palestinians, only the ones who live in the pre-1967 borders. In other words, while Jewish Israelis are counted regardless of where they live within the country, only Palestinians who live in 1948 Palestine are accounted for. This means that the state of Israel is leaving out more than five million Palestinians from their figures. This makes sense when one considers that successive Israeli governments and Israeli society more generally see no connection to Palestinians living in the territories taken by Israel in 1967. While Palestinians who remained in 1948 are referred to as citizens, the ones who were added as a result of the 1967 occupation have no status and, therefore, do not (officially) exist.   Two marches per year In the city of Yafa, which officially is part of the Tel Aviv municipality, the Settlers conduct two flag marches per year. One on Israeli Independence Day and one on Jerusalem Day. The city claims that it is an expression of diversity, not unlike days when Palestinians hold a Christmas parade or a Ramadan market. But there is a difference; neither the Christmas nor Ramadan events include harassment by uniformed militarized police and plain-clothed detectives. During these parades of racism and supremacy, Palestinian citizens of the city are instructed to stay out of sight. They are subjected to searches and seizures, and they are confined to areas where they will be out of the way of the parading gangsters with flags of hate. In the city of El-Lyd, thousands of settlers marched through the old town, through Palestinian neighborhoods and businesses, harassing and terrorizing anyone in their path. Over the years, El-Lyd has seen some of the worst violence by settler gangs, and this parade of hate and supremacy is there to let the Palestinians in the city that El-Lyd is not theirs. In 1948, the area had been subjected to brutal massacres and of the citys 40,000 citizens, only 400 remained. Today, the Palestinian population makes up between 30% and 40% of the population.   Palestine is not confined to the West Bank Many people still refer to 1948 Palestine as Israel and to the West Bank as Palestine. However, these people would do well to remember that until May 1948, it was all known as Palestine and that Palestinians live throughout the entire country and endure the same hate and violence regardless of where they live, what identification card they carry or whether they are counted by the Apartheid State or not. On a personal note if you read this article, please leave me a note here. It does not need to be long; just a hi is fine. If you have a comment or a question, feel free to comment or ask. Thank you. Feature photo | An Israeli man waves a flag of the ultra nationalist Jewish Terrorist movement Kach, outside Damascus gate In Jerusalem as part of a controversial flag march, May 2023. Eyal Warshavsky | Sipa via AP Images Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books areThe Generals Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, and Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. The post Flag March: The Annual Israeli Display of Jewish Supremacy appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Flag March, Israel, Jerusalem Day, Jewish Supremacy, Miko Peled, mixed cities, Palestine, yafa]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/22/23 5:19am
In anticipation of next months United Nations Security Council talks on reforming the inherently archaic and dysfunctional political body, China’s foreign policy chief, Yang Yi, stated his countrys demands. “The reform of the Security Council should uphold fairness and justice, increase the representation and voice of developing countries, allowing more small and medium-sized countries to have more opportunities to participate in the decision-making of the Council,” Wang Yi said in a statement on April 29. More specifically, the new UNSC must redress historical injustices against Africa. Although calls for reforms of the UNSC have been made many times in the past, Beijing’s position is particularly important in both language and timing. When the United Nations was founded in 1945 following World War II, it was meant to mark the rise of a new world order, one that was largely dominated by the winners of that horrific war, giving greater influence to the United States and its Western allies. Indeed, of the 51 founding members of the UN back then, five countries were chosen to serve permanently on the Security Council the executive branch of the UN. The rest were given membership in the General Assembly, which played a marginal and, at times, even symbolic role in world affairs. Six other nations were allowed to serve as non-permanent members of the Council, though they were not granted the same veto power held and exercised by the five powerful UNSC members only. A few years later, in 1963, the non-permanent membership status, served through annual rotations, was expanded to 10, making the total number of 15 UNSC members. However, the reforms ended there, never to be revisited. The UN was hardly ever a democratic platform, fairly reflecting the realities of the world, whether based on economic influence, demographics or any other indicators aside, of course, from military might and political hegemony. From the post-WWII geopolitical realities, however, the UN perfectly expressed a sad, unfair, but also somewhat true global power paradigm. That paradigm, however, is now shifting, and rapidly so. Calls for reforms have been underway for years, reflected in the activities of the Group of Four (G4) Brazil, Germany, India and Japan for example; and the Sirte Declaration of the African Union (AU) in 2005, among others. But the renewed calls for reforming the UN in recent months have become louder, more significant and, indeed, more possible. The Russia-Ukraine war, which has divided the world into political camps, further empowered China the worlds soon-to-be largest economy and emboldened many countries in the Middle East, Africa and South America. Of the many indicators of a global power shift, the BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have proven to be the greatest success story in challenging Western dominance over global markets and the status of the dollar as the worlds main currency. As BRICS readies for a major membership expansion, it is poised to become the worlds leading economic forum ahead of the powerful G7. One of the BRICS members, India, as of April 2023, overtook China to become the worlds most populous country. Along with China and the combined demographics and wealth of other BRICS countries, it becomes unacceptable that a BRICS member like India, is still not a permanent member of the UNSC. The same logic applies to Brazil. Indias UN Ambassador, Ruchira Kamboj, recently referred to the UN Charter as anachronistic. “Can we practice ‘effective multilateralism’ by defending a charter that makes five nations more equal than others and provides to each of those five the power to ignore the collective will of the remaining 188 member states?” Kamboj said during a debate on the UN Charter. Of course, she is right. Her logic, however, carries much greater weight now that her country along with other BRICS nations, the collective power of the African Union among other nations and political entities is in a much stronger position to bargain for substantive change. China, on the other hand, is already a permanent UNSC member and a holder of the veto power. The fact that Wang Yi is demanding serious changes at the UN, particularly in the makeup of the Security Council, is a powerful indicator of Chinas new global foreign policy agenda. As a rising superpower with close and deepening ties with many countries in the Global South, China rightly believes that it is in its interests to demand inclusion and fair representation for others. This is an unmistakable sign of political maturity by Beijing, which will surely be resisted by the US and other European powers. The West is keen on either maintaining the UNSCs West-leaning status as it is, or, if it must, engaging in superficial or self-serving reforms. This would be unacceptable for China and the rest of the Global South. The UN’s reputation is already in tatters following its failure to address international conflicts, climate change, global pandemics and more. If not reformed to address global challenges through more democratic means meaningfully, the UN will risk its future relevance, if not its very existence. Feature photo | Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at U.N. headquarters. Mary Altaffer | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Led by China and India: The Global South Is Trying To Fix the UN appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, BRICS nations and UN Security Council membership, Calls for UN Security Council reforms, China's demands for UN Security Council reform, China's rising superpower status and demand for UN reform, Global power shift and UN Security Council reform, Inclusion and fair representation in UN Security Council, Political maturity of China in demanding UN reform, Redressing historical injustices against Africa in UN Security Council, UN's future relevance and the need for democratic reforms, United Nations Security Council reform]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/19/23 11:06am
The war in Ukraine is well into its second year, and the United States is insistent on pumping billions more into the quagmire that has already seen thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. The U.S. has already approved more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, most of which is weaponry. This year, President Biden has earmarked a record-breaking $842 billion on the military. Yet much of this is not even directed towards Europe but at China. Seemingly not content with turning Europe into a war zone, Washington now has its sights set on Asia. Joining MintCast hosts Mnar Adley and Alan MacLeod to discuss Washington’s permanent drive to war is author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges. “[War with China] is a serious threat given the mindset of the warmongers who dominate the Washington establishment,” Hedges says before naming and shaming many of the most callous hawks in the nation. “They never go away; it doesn’t matter how wrong they are. They were, of course, all cheerleaders for the war in Iraq. But they represent those interests, and they are creations of the Washington establishment. They don’t actually know war or geopolitics,” he added. Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent across the world, including in Central America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In 2002, he was part of a New York Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the global war on terror. After publicly denouncing the Iraq War, however, he was forced out of his job. Since then, he has worked in independent media. A prolific and best-selling author, his latest book, “The Greatest Evil is War” was published last year. You can find his work at ChrisHedges.substack.com/. America is “clearly on the decline,” Hedges told Adley and MacLeod, suggesting that: Anyone who drives through large swathes of the United States will tell you, it is one decayed city after another. All the mechanisms of repression that were tested largely on people of color (the way the Israelis do on Gaza) have migrated back to the homeland. Militarized drones, wholesale surveillance, militarized police, we have the largest prison system in the world; [the U.S. has almost] 25% of the world’s prisoners even though we are less than 5% of the world’s population. So we are dying the same way any empire dies.” Why the United States has turned its eye towards China, MacLeod states is that it considers itself a world empire. Few remember now that the U.S. invaded and occupied China for four years in the 1940s and has never forgiven China for freeing itself from a century of humiliating Western rule. Much of the panic over Beijing’s rise is being bankrolled by the Taiwanese government. MacLeod’s investigation for MintPress showed how the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States funneled millions to warmongering think tanks who put out reports demanding Washington step in to save the island – all of which contributes to a sense of heightened tensions with Beijing. However, if war really does break out between China and the U.S., the results will be catastrophic, not only for Taiwan but for the rest of humanity, too. Listen or watch now to hear one of America’s most astute and knowledgeable intellectuals share his thoughts. MintPress News is a fiercely independent. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube and subscribe to rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. Mnar Adley is founder and director of MintPress News and Behind The Headlines and is also a producer and host for both platforms. Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Chris Hedges on Weapons to Ukraine, Military buildup to China and Pentagon Spending appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Alan MacLeod, China, Chris Hedges, Miltiary Industrial Complex, Mnar Adley, Pentagon Spending, Ukraine, US empire]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/19/23 9:53am
The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. The U.S. dollar is in crisis. In just a few short months, it has gone from the unquestioned global reserve currency to one scores of countries are dumping in favor of using their own or regional currencies for international transactions. One individual who is not lamenting the dollar’s sharp decline is Ben Norton, who joins the show today. Ben is an American journalist based in Nicaragua and the editor-in-chief of the independent news outlet Geopolitical Economy Report. In the past year, dozens of countries have announced that they will no longer be using the U.S. dollar for international transactions, preferring instead to use regional or new currencies. This harms the U.S. economy, as countries will no longer exchange goods and services for pieces of green paper that Washington prints, almost for free. The move away from the dollar also had huge implications for the American empire and Washington’s ability to wage economic war across the world. As Florida Senator Marco Rubio lamented, Brazil, the largest country in the Western hemisphere south of us, cut a trade deal with China. They are, from now on, going to do trade in their own currencies and go right around the dollar. They’re creating a secondary economy totally independent of the United States. We won’t have to talk about sanctions in five years because there will be so many countries transacting in currencies other than the dollar that we won’t have the ability to sanction them.” Norton told Lowkey that much of this comes as an unexpected consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating: Because the West imposed brutal sanctions on Russia and also stole half of the Russian central banks foreign exchange reserves, which includes around $300 billion of dollar assets and euro denominated assets that were held by what was essentially the Russian people… that was a ‘wake up’ kind of moment for a lot of countries, because they say ‘if we do something that the West doesnt like, they can simply steal all of our US dollar- and euro-denominated assets.’” As Washington declines, Beijing is rising. China has steadily grown to the point where, if measured in purchasing power parity, it has now surpassed that of the United States. Countries in the Global South (i.e., poor nations), Norton suggests, are happy to see this and prefer to trade with China, as there are far fewer strings attached than dealing with the West. At every turn, the United States has tried to prevent this, attempting to pressure nations into shunning both Russia and China, something which Norton said is akin to asking them to commit economic suicide. American power is slipping so rapidly that even longtime allies such as Saudi Arabia are beginning to play both sides. Riyadh has refused to sanction Russia or shun China. Indeed, Beijing played a key role as a mediator for the détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran and in winding down the Saudi-led war on Yemen. If the United States can no longer count on the unflinching support of even Saudi Arabia, its days as the global hegemon are likely over. Join us for this crucially important introduction to global geopolitics. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post The Inevitable De-Dollarization of the Global Economy, with ​Ben Norton appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, News, Top Story, Ben Norton, China, De-Dollarization, Dollar decline, Lowkey, Petrodollar, US dollar]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/19/23 6:00am
The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. Even as Israel’s war against Palestine continues unabated, a new movement has arisen in the United Kingdom, challenging the Israeli war machine – and it has been winning some impressive victories. Founded in 2020, Palestine Action is a grassroots activist movement that seeks to end British complicity in Israeli war crimes by shutting down arms manufacturing sites across the U.K. Today, Lowkey welcomes back Palestine Action co-founder Huda Amori to talk about the rise of her organization that has taken the country by storm and has weapons manufacturers fleeing. Born in the U.K., Amori is a Palestinian-Iraqi whose father was chased out of his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967, and forced to flee, without even a pair of shoes. Decades later, Amori has found a way to fight back, using direct action to occupy and shut down Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms firm. With the help of the community in her native Oldham, Amori and Palestine Action’s occupation has forced Elbit Systems to leave the town and sell their factory at a substantial loss. Last summer, they abandoned their London headquarters. And last winter, the British Ministry of Defence canceled around £280 million (around U.S.$350 million) of contracts with the company. Elbit’s products, such as drones and surveillance tech, are directly used on the civilian population of Palestine, Amori explained. They are then marketed as “battle tested” around the world and sold to countries like Australia and India. “If you are building weapons here to be sent back to Israel to be used against Palestinians, or if you are a customer of weapons that have been developed on the Palestinian people, then you are just as guilty,” Amori said, adding: For example, the British Ministry of Defence buy many of these weapons after they have been developed and used against the Palestinians, which only encourages the further development and use of weapons on Palestinians, and to continue the occupation. This cycle of violence just continues to benefit the oppressors and work against the oppressed.” What happens to Palestinians reverberates throughout the world. The people of the West Bank and Gaza function as guinea pigs for the world’s most oppressive technologies. Those technologies are then exported globally. As Amori told Lowkey, because their electronics and other tech in Israel’s annexation wall proved so effective, Elbit Systems won a contract to build the Trump administration’s controversial wall on the Mexican border. While Amori and Palestine Action are constantly charged and regularly appear in court for criminal damages, they are yet to be convicted. Indeed, once they get in front of a jury to tell their story, it is often Elbit Systems that seems to be on trial. At the end of last year, a jury at the Crown Court unanimously found Amori and her colleagues innocent, accepting that they were trying to prevent an even bigger crime from taking place. The jury even proceeded to thank the activists for their bravery publicly. Some, Amori claimed, went so far as to blow kisses at them. While it is not clear whether they will continue to grow and be successful, what is obvious is that Palestine Action’s direct action strategy is achieving success and that arms manufacturers the world over are watching on, worried. Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times. The post Shutting Down the Israeli Arms Industry, with Huda Amori appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Podcasts, Top Story, Elbit Systems, Huda Amori, Israel, Oldham, Palestine, Palestine Action, United Kingdom]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/18/23 7:48am
Even with all the protests and mentions of Nakba Day on social media, commemorating this horrific, sad event is nowhere near where it ought to be. Arguably one of the darkest and most awful chapters in the long history of Palestine, the Nakba needs to be fully commemorated in every capital in the world. The politicization of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the consequent installment of an apartheid regime to govern it is such that few countries dare even to mention these crimes against humanity. The full scope of the Nakba, a combination of several crimes against humanity, is yet to be understood. To begin with, the Nakba is a tragedy that began over seventy-five years ago and continues in full force. Furthermore, the full extent of the crimes committed in the early Nakba, from 1947 to 1952, is still being uncovered. The latest discovery was just published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. According to the article, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, ordered chemicals to be used to poison wells in Palestinian villages. Newly found mass graves and testimonies of Zionist terrorists like Yerachmiel Kahnovich, who admitted in a recent YouTube video that he shot an anti-tank missile into the Dahmash mosque in Lyd in June 1948, are still being uncovered. Kahnovich single-handedly murdered over one hundred people taking refuge in the mosque as Lyd was undergoing a brutal ethnic cleansing. As the years go by, more testimonies like his are opening up. We should remember and appreciate that both the perpetrators and the victims of the acts that took place during the early period of the Nakba are getting old and will soon be gone. Unlike the Holocaust, where the widely-accepted number of victims is recognized as six million, in the case of the Nakba, there is yet to be an agreed-upon death toll. So how many Palestinians were murdered as a result of the Nakba? No one knows for sure. At least part of the reason for the lack of an established figure of Palestinians killed by Zionist terrorism is that the perpetrators of the crime are not done. The Israeli army continues to terrorize, and massacre Palestinians almost daily, and this killing essentially has the stamp of approval of the international community. A Palestinian from east Jerusalem is kicked by Israeli police during a Nakba commemoration protest, May 14, 1998 Zoom 77 | AP The successor of the pre-1948 Zionist terrorists, the IDF, is now considered a respectable army. It has colonels and generals whose feats on the battlefield are taught in military academies across the world. It conducts training and military maneuvers with other armies and members of NATO, including the U.S. military. Yet, since it is highly regarded and respected, it cannot be accused of terrorism. To gain the recognition needed for the world to commemorate the Nakba similarly to the Holocaust, there needs to be an understanding that the perpetrator, the Israeli military and affiliated Zionist militias, did indeed commit crimes against humanity. However, even though the evidence is clear, accusing Israel and the Zionist movement is not possible for obvious political reasons. We know that the Palestinian struggle has no parents. No one today speaks formally for, or in any way represents, Palestine or Palestinian interests. There is no serious push, or, for that matter, motivation, for the international community to fully recognize the horrific crimes that make up the Nakba. There is no movement among the international community to stand up and demand that the culprits be brought to justice and pay for these unspeakable crimes. Unless leaders in the West, East, Africa, the Arab and Muslim world and beyond are forced to recognize and commemorate the crimes that were committed (and continue to be committed) against the people of Palestine, there will never be a proper recognition and commemoration of the heinous crimes that make up the Palestinian Nakba. At a small event in Washington, D.C., Representative Betty McCollum spoke about her bill to protect Palestinian families and children from detention and torture by Israel. It is an important, indeed groundbreaking bill. However, she insisted on referring to Israel as a democracy, despite a 75-year history demonstrating that Israel is not and never was a democracy. A report by Amnesty International clearly shows that Israel is engaged in the crime of apartheid, a crime so heinous that it is designated as a crime against humanity. Yet, McCollum and others continue to call Israel a democracy. Tragically, the world insists on ignoring reality. The world continues to ignore an event that began over seventy-five years ago and has grown to unspeakable, tragic proportions. In fact, this assault began three short years after the world saw the end of another unspeakable crime: the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. It was due to the Holocaust that the designation of “crimes against humanity” was established; crimes so terrible that they have their own special designation and consequences. Israel is engaged in three such practices: ethnic cleansing, genocide, and apartheid, all of which are central features of the Palestinian Nakba. Feature photo | Joao Daniel Pereira | Sipa via AP | Editing by MintPress News Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books areThe Generals Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, and Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. The post Unveiling a Dark History: Nakbas Tragedy Continues Unabated after 75 Years appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, News, Top Story, Crimes against Humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, Israel, Nakba, Palestine]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/17/23 6:42am
Congress recently voted against pulling American troops out of Somalia. Officially, U.S. forces number 900 and are there in an advisory role to help the government of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud combat terrorist forces such as Al-Shabab. Yet our guest today states that U.S. boots on the ground in Somalia are doing nothing but serving as a recruiting tool for jihadists, their presence provoking widespread resentment among the people of the resource-rich but war-torn African nation. Ann Garrison is a journalist and a contributing editor to The Black Agenda Report. You can also find her at The Grayzone and on Pacifica Radio. Her latest article, “Ilhan Omar Voted to Withdraw from Somalia, but She’s No Anti-Imperialist,” assesses the Minnesota Congresswoman’s record on opposing U.S. actions in the Horn of Africa. Garrison notes that Washington has little interest in genuinely opposing radical jihadist groups in the region and is instead focused on maintaining control of a strategically important part of the world. Somalia sits on the Red Sea, across a narrow strait from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Around 40% of world seaborne trade passes by its waters on the way to or from the Suez Canal. Moreover, the nation is believed to possess over 100 billion barrels of untapped offshore oil reserves. “Securing African resources is an existential imperative” for the U.S., Garrison said. The United States has spent the past decade bullying and intimidating countries in North East Africa. From the bombing of Libya and the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 to its attempts to isolate Eritrea economically and politically to bombing Somalia and supporting the insurgency of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front against Ethiopia, Washington’s actions have led many in the region to sour on the United States altogether. Into this void has stepped China and, to a lesser extent, Russia. Massive Chinese infrastructure projects are everywhere in the region, as Chinese companies build railways, hospitals, schools and roads. African countries have, by and large, also refused to follow the U.S. line on the Ukraine War, instead opting to stay neutral rather than condemn and oppose Moscow. The U.S. has attempted to push China out of the region, but, as Garrison said, “China isn’t going anywhere.” And while Western analysts constantly warn of Chinese “debt trap diplomacy,” working with Beijing does not entail the risk of coups, wars, sanctions or invasions, as dealing with the West does. Thus, Garrison argues, the United States has already “shot itself in the foot” when it comes to Africa. While Garrison welcomed the campaign led by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz to get everyone in Congress on record as to whether they support or oppose ending the seemingly endless war in Somalia, she cautioned that Gaetz is not a committed anti-imperialist, but a strong China hawk, and sees U.S. conflicts like the one in Somalia as a sideshow to the real showdown against Beijing. Mnar Adley is founder and director of MintPress News and Behind The Headlines and is also a producer and host for both platforms. Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. MintPress News is fiercely independent. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube and subscribe to rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post Oil Wars, Weapons and How the US is Fueling the Somalia Crisis, with Ann Garrison appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Al-Shabab, Ann Garrison, offshore oil, Somalia, US troops]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 5/16/23 9:18am
All Israeli wars on the Palestinians throughout the years have been promoted and justified by Tel Aviv in the name of ‘security’ and ‘fighting terrorism.’ Israel’s biggest challenge throughout many of these wars was hardly the Palestinian Resistance, however steadfast and resilient. The challenge has always been Tel Aviv’s ability to kill many Palestinians, including civilians, without tarnishing its image internationally as an oasis of democracy and civilization. Israel has been losing the public relations battle rapidly so, and now, it is losing a different kind of battle as well. Throughout its 75-year-old history, from its violent birth on the ruins of historic Palestine in May 1948 up to its latest war on besieged Gaza on May 9, Israel’s history has been associated with violence. Pro-Israel Western propaganda, along with masterful Israeli manipulation of facts and rewriting of history, allowed Israel to blame the violence on others: first, the Arabs who supposedly attacked Israel, unprovoked, time and again; then the Palestinian ‘terrorists’ from all ideological colors, the socialists, the secularists and, as of late, the ‘Islamic fundamentalists’. Alas, the Israeli hasbara worked, not because of its sheer genius but because of the near-total embargo on the Palestinian voice in all aspects of life. This embargo continues to this day and has extended to reach dominant social media platforms, leading amongst them, Facebook. But the fight for the truth, intellectual integrity and freedom of speech continues, and Palestinian successes are now far greater than all attempts by Israel, its benefactors and supporters to censor, sideline or muffle the Palestinian voice. The days of hiding Israeli crimes or blaming them on someone else seem to be over. There are reasons why Israel’s propaganda is living its worst days. Aside from the power and influence commanded by Palestinian intellectuals, social media activists and the numerous platforms made available to them through innumerable solidarity networks around the world, Israeli hasbara has itself grown weak and unconvincing. Israel is a fragmented society. While it is true that Israelis often unite during times of war, this time around, their unity is stale and unimpressive. The rise of a far-right, even fascist government under the leadership of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last December generated mass protests that have rocked Israeli cities since then. Trapped, Netanyahu needed an outlet to unify angry Israelis behind him and to keep his far-right ministers satisfied. He opted to attack Gaza. The choice of exporting Israel’s political crises to Palestine is an old tactic. However, since stiff and increasingly strong Palestinian resistance in recent years, a Gaza war is no longer an easy option. The May 2021 war, dubbed “Guardian of the Walls” by Israel and “Sword of Jerusalem” by Palestinians, for example, was a painful reminder of how such foolish miscalculations on the part of Tel Aviv can backfire and badly. So, Netanyahu resorted to a different model: a mini war that targets one Palestinian group in an isolated area, at a time, for example, the Lions’ Den in Nablus and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Netanyahu’s choice of attacking Gaza and assassinating top leaders in the Islamic Jihad’s military arm, Al-Quds Brigades, was not a haphazard one. The group is strong enough that such a decisive and bloody military operation can be marketed by Netanyahu and his supporters as a restoration of ‘deterrence,’ but without involving Israel in a prolonged and costly war with all Palestinian Resistance groups all at once. This tactic worked in the past, at least according to Israel’s own calculations. In November 2019, Israel launched a war on the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. It was dubbed “Black Belt.” Though other Resistance groups declared support for the Islamic Jihad then, they did not engage in the fight directly. Why? For years, the Resistance in Gaza wanted to change the rules of engagement with Israel. Instead of allowing Israel to determine the time and place for war based on Tel Aviv’s own agenda and degree of readiness, Resistance factions in Gaza wanted to have a say over the timing of such battles. Israel completely failed to understand the Palestinian strategy and assumed that the “Black Belt” operation reflected Palestinian weakness, indecisiveness and, more dangerously, disunity. The May 2021 war and Unity Intifada should have alerted Israel to the fact that Palestinian Resistance groups remained united and that the Resistance Joint Operations Room, which includes Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the socialist PFLP, among others, continues to operate in unison. Netanyahu wished to ignore the clear messaging transmitted by Palestinians, not only in Gaza but also through the unified Resistance in the West Bank, perhaps out of his own desperation to divert attention from his multiple political crises and corruption trials at home. For whatever reason, Netanyahu thought that he would be able to successfully copy the “Black Belt” experience, divide the Resistance and restore ‘deterrence’. Soon after the assassination of top Islamic Jihad commanders – Jihad al-Ghannam, Khalil al-Bahtini and Tariq Ezz al-Deen. – on May 9, Netanyahu appeared at a press conference along with his archenemy, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, to prematurely detail Israel’s supposed victory. The victory lap did not last for long, however. After 35 hours of perplexing silence, and as nearly two million Israelis hid in shelters as if awaiting their punishment, the Resistance responded. Then, the rockets of the Resistance came raining in, creating panic, from Sderot, Ashkelon and Netivot all the way to Rehovot or Gush Etzion. Suddenly, the ‘deterrence’ war, named “Shield and Arrow” by the Israeli military, became Netanyahu’s nightmare. And, yet, all of this was done by the Islamic Jihad alone, in coordination and support from the rest of the Resistance factions. Though Hamas, the PFLP and others have fully supported the Islamic Jihad in its ongoing fight, Israeli officials still refrained from resorting to their usual threats of assassinating all Palestinian Resistance leaders. The only exception was comments made by Israel’s Minister of Energy of Infrastructure, Israel Katz, who threatened, in an interview with Israel’s Kan 11 News, to ‘eliminate’ top Hamas leaders in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif. Now that, as of Saturday evening, May 13, a tentative ceasefire has been reached, pro-Netanyahu propagandists will spend many hours speaking of the splendid victory over ‘terror,’ and pro-Israeli spin doctors will labor to twist facts and blame Palestinians, including children, for their own misery. But the uncontested truth is that the Palestinian Resistance has managed to challenge, if not reverse, the rules of engagements like never before. More importantly, Palestinians on the ground have shown us that unity is not expressed through cliched language, empty slogans and press conferences in luxury hotels. It is the unity of those resisting on the ground, from Gaza to Nablus and from Jenin to Sheikh Jarrah, that matters most. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net   The post Netanyahus Tactical Mistake: A Fragmented Israel Faces Palestinian Unity appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Insights, Top Story, ceasefire, Gaza War, Islamic Jihad, Israeli wars on Palestinians, Netanyahu's tactics, Palestinian Resistance, Palestinian unity, Rules of Engagement, Tel Aviv's propaganda, unity]

As of 6/10/23 10:32am. Last new 6/9/23 10:29am.

Next feed in category: Zero Hedge