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November 15, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Trump and Putin begin work on US-Russia reset

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 15, 2016

The Russian President Vladimir Putin made the long-expected phone call to the US president-elect Donald Trump on Monday.

It stands to reason that the presidential spokesman in the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, one of Putin’s closest aides, travelled to New York last week ostensibly to attend a world chess event, but principally to prepare the ground for the phone conversation on Monday.

The agenda of such Russian-American conversations is usually agreed upon beforehand. The Kremlin readout (and the brief statement by Trump’s transition team in New York) gave a positive account of the phone conversation.

From available details, it was a substantive conversation, which focused on reviving the Russian-American relationship, and, most important, also took up the Syrian conflict in some detail, including “issues related to solving the crisis”.

So, what emerges is that Putin and Trump have begun discussing Syria in their very first conversation as statesmen, hardly 6 days after the latter got elected, even before his key cabinet posts have been filled, and with 8 weeks still to go to before the new presidency commences.

Clearly, Syria is right on top of Trump’s mind – and the need to engage with Russia. Again, Trump had touched on Syria during his weekend interview with Wall Street Journal (when he made it clear that the US should dump Syrian rebels.)

Quite obviously, Monday’s phone conversation underscored that Trump was not at all fanciful or a maverick when he repeatedly stuck out his neck on the campaign trail and took much flak, including wild allegations of him being a Russian poodle, when he kept insisting on the imperative need of constructively dealing with Putin, as a collaborator rather than as adversary.

As could have been expected, Putin said to Trump that Moscow is ready “to develop a dialogue of partnership” with the US based on the “principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs” – in short, a principled relationship that could be the core of a US-Russia reset .

From the Kremlin point of view, what Putin articulated is a minimalist agenda. Putin has not spoken of any balancing of interests or the desirability of the two countries showing sensitivity to each other’s interests – although they discussed the fight against the “common enemy” – international terrorism and extremism.

Trump’s transition headquarters quoted the president-elect as saying to Putin that “he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia.”

With Monday’s conversation, one controversial part of Trump’s foreign-policy plank is gaining transparency.  Both Trump and Putin “expressed support for active joint efforts to normalise relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues.

They emphasised the importance of establishing a reliable foundation for bilateral ties by developing the trade and economic component,” which in turn “would help “stimulate a return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation.”

The twitter from New York said Trump and Putin discussed “strategic economic issues.” Energy issues? Western sanctions against Russia? We should know in a near future. Something seems to be brewing here.

At any rate, it is a terrific forward- looking signal. For, how can the “trade and economic component” be developed so long as the sanctions continue, or when New Cold War clouds are hanging so low?

Yet, the Kremlin readout omitted any reference to Ukraine. However, both Putin and Trump noted that at the leadership level, they “should encourage a return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation in the interests of both countries, as well as global stability and security.”

By the way, on Monday, Trump also spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Xinhua news agency reported that Trump paid fulsome compliments to China as “a great and important country with eye-catching development prospects”.  Trump added that Sino-American relations “will witness even greater development” during his presidency. Trump and Xi agreed to meet “at an early date”.

Interestingly, Putin and Trump also agreed to not only keep in touch by telephone but also begin planning for an in-person meeting. Would such a meeting take place before or after Trump’s inauguration in January?

Conceivably, these could be the first signs of a new type of big-power relationship. Trump may seek a US-Russia-China entente cordiale to carry forward the US’ global leadership while America attends to the repair and reconstruction of its economy and society. Such an approach dovetails with Trump’s agenda of ‘America First’.

No doubt, Trump has started running no sooner than he hit the ground. This seems to confirm the general impression of him as a man in a hurry. And Putin seemed to expect it.

The Kremlin aide Peskov’s prognosis has been that Putin and Trump are two men “very much alike… in their basic approach towards international relations”, and there’s good reason “to believe that they will manage to establish good relations.”

However, this sort of extraordinary ‘pro-active’ diplomacy by the president-elect, as he has shown on Monday, may not go down well with the American foreign policy and security establishment.

Some of the irritation may even have welled up to the surface when the Obama administration chose Monday itself  to announce even more sanctions against Russia – against six Russian parliamentarians representing Crimea and Sevastopol in the Duma.

At any rate, Moscow too bid farewell on Monday to the Obama administration. Reacting to the reported advice by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to Trump not to cooperate with Russia over Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in Moscow on Monday that Moscow is no more interested than the United States (read Obama administration) in such cooperation and will proceed on that basis.

Ryabkov said derisively that in any case, Moscow does not intend to “persuade the Pentagon leadership to change something in this regard.” To be sure, things have touched a nadir in Russian-American relations, and from this point things can only get better.

Having said that, a genuine Russian-American reset depends on the balancing of mutual interests on a number of fronts where progress will be slow and needs to be hard-won. It is the Eurasian theatre that poses formidable challenges.

Issues such a NATO expansion, Crimea, US missile defence, forward deployments of NATO along Russia’s borders, ‘colour revolutions’ — these are difficult topics. Maybe, the experience in working together on Syria — and an easing of western sanctions against Russia, which is entirely conceivable sometime through 2017 — would have a positive effect on the overall climate of trust and mutual confidence.

What Monday’s phone conversation testifies is that Russia definitely sees a window of opportunity in the incoming Trump presidency; a reset in the troubled relationship is possible; and, that Putin and Trump could strike personal chemistry of a kind that was never found possible for the Russian leader with Obama.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Walmart warns workers not to use app helping them understand company’s labor rules

RT | November 15, 2016

OUR Walmart, a worker-led activist group, has devised a new app, now available for Android smartphones, that uses artificial intelligence to help workers understand company policies and legal rights. Walmart has told workers to not download the app.

The app, WorkIt, was released Monday to offer advice to Walmart workers on a host of issues, according to OUR Walmart.

OUR Walmart is a labor group, but not a union, as Walmart does not offer collective bargaining rights, which has thousands of paying members and has organized Black Friday protests at Walmart locations nationwide.

The OUR Walmart organization teamed up with software development company Quadrant 2 to develop WorkIt. The app uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence bot to answer concerns or questions of employee, who are only identified on the app by their username and store position. Watson accesses a database built by Walmart workers to address user questions. When Watson cannot answer one of about 200 queries, “there is a peer network of experts that will interact with the users,” Jason Van Anden, founder of Quadrant 2, told the Wall Street Journal. Watson then has the ability to learn how to answer certain questions from the peer experts.

For its part, Walmart has already addressed store managers about the app, warning that OUR Walmart is “increasingly trying to get our associates to turn over personal information to the union by using deceptive and slick looking social media and mobile apps,” according to a document reported by the WSJ.

“We just wanted to give you a heads up that if someone tries to get you to download an OUR Walmart work-related app on your mobile device, you may unknowingly be giving away valuable personal information like your location and personal contact information that the union can use however it wants,” Walmart wrote to store managers, according to Bloomberg.

“There is no way to know if the details this group is pushing are correct,” Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in a statement. “Our people are smart and see this for what it is; an attempt by an outside group to collect as much personal and private information as possible.”

The app does not track location or ask users to submit their location, according to Cat Huang, a technologist who worked on the app.

“We’re not going to sell the data, ever,” OUR Walmart co-director Andrea Dehlendorf told Bloomberg. “We will share it with researchers and use it to inform conversations with Walmart. But it’s not part of the revenue model.”

The app’s utility emerged in the days when Walmart employees had limited time to access information on the company’s extensive human resources policy guide held on the Walmart intranet known as Wire. (The company says it has offered more access to its policies since early 2016, Bloomberg reported.) In addition, queries to OUR Walmart’s Facebook page became to much for the group to handle.

OUR Walmart directors raised money from various groups, like the Workers Lab, and hired a technologist, Huang, and a developer, Van Anden, to help create the app.

The app will also assist OUR Walmart by gathering data on specific issues that impact employees, allowing the group to address the company with hard proof of the employee experience.

“It will give us real evidence to talk to the company about what’s broken,” Dehlendorf told Bloomberg. “We have to be in a place where we can say, ‘This is the truth. We have massive data.'”

The app does not access Walmart’s policy guide directly, but offers “interpretations of the policies,” Huang told Bloomberg.

OUR Walmart said it expects about 14,000 employees, or around 1 percent of Walmart workers, to download the app by the end of 2017.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Break Up the Democratic Party: It’s Time for the Clintons and Rubin to Go – and Soros Too

joshua-roberts-reuters

Photo – Joshua Roberts, Reuters
By Michael Hudson | CounterPunch | November 15, 2016

In the week leading up to last Tuesday’s election the press was busy writing obituaries for the Republican Party. This continued even after Donald Trump’s “surprising” victory – which, like the 2008 bank-fraud crash, “nobody could have expected.” The pretense is that Trump saw what no other politician saw: that the economy has not recovered since 2008.

Democrats still seem amazed that voters are more concerned about economic conditions and resentment against Wall Street (no bankers jailed, few junk mortgages written down). It is a sign of their wrong path that party strategists are holding on to the same identity politics they have used since the 1960s to divide Americans into hyphenated special-interest groups.

Obviously, the bottom 95 Percent realize that their incomes and net worth have declined, not recovered. National Income and Federal Reserve statistics show that all growth has accrued to just 5 percent of the population. Hillary is said to have spent $1 billion on polling, TV advertising and high-salaried staff members, but managed not to foresee the political reaction to this polarization. She and her coterie ignored economic policy as soon as Bernie was shoved out of the way and his followers all but told to join a third party. Her campaign speech tried to convince voters that they were better off than they were eight years ago. They knew better!

So the question now is whether Donald Trump will really be a maverick and shake up the Republican Party. There seems to be a fight going on for Donald’s soul – or at least the personnel he appoints to his cabinet. Thursday and Friday saw corporate lobbyists in the Republican leadership love-bombing him like the Moonies or Hari Krishna cults welcoming a new potential recruit. Will he simply surrender now and pass on the real work of government to the Republican apparatchiks?

The stock market thinks so! On Wednesday it soared almost by 300 points, and repeated this gain on Thursday, setting a DJIA record! Pharmaceuticals are way up, as higher drug prices loom for Medicaid and Medicare. Stocks of the pipelines and major environmental polluters are soaring, from oil and gas to coal, mining and forestry, expecting U.S. environmental leadership to be as dead under Trump as it was under Obama and his push for the TPP and TTIP (with its fines for any government daring to impose standards that cost these companies money). On the bright side, these “trade” agreements to enable corporations to block public laws protecting the environment, consumers and society at large are now presumably dead.

For now, personalities are policy. A problem with this is that anyone who runs for president is in it partly for applause. That was Carter’s weak point, leading him to cave in to Democratic apparatchiks in 1974. It looks like Trump may be similarly susceptible. He wants to be loved, and the Republican lobbyists are offering plenty of applause if only he will turn to them and break his campaign promises in the way that Obama did in 2008. It would undo his hope to be a great president and champion of the working class that was his image leading up to November 8.

The fight for the Democratic Party’s future (dare I say “soul”?)

In her Wednesday morning post mortem speech, Hillary made a bizarre request for young people (especially young women) to become politically active as Democrats after her own model. What made this so strange is that the Democratic National Committee has done everything it can to discourage millennials from running. There are few young candidates – except for corporate and Wall Street Republicans running as Blue Dog Democrats. The left has not been welcome in the party for a decade – unless it confines itself only to rhetoric and demagogy, not actual content. For Hillary’s DNC coterie the problem with millennials is that they are not shills for Wall Street. The treatment of Bernie Sanders is exemplary. The DNC threw down the gauntlet.

Instead of a love fest within the Democratic Party’s ranks, the blame game is burning. The Democrats raised a reported $182 million dollars running up to the election. But when Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and other candidates in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania asked for help, Hillary monopolized it all for TV ads, leaving these candidates in the lurch. The election seemed to be all about her, about personality and identity politics, not about the economic issues paramount in most voters’ minds.

Six months ago the polls showed her $1 billion spent on data polling, TV ads and immense staff of sycophants to have been a vast exercise in GIGO. From May to June the Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw polls showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump, but Hillary losing. Did the Democratic leadership really prefer to lose with Hillary than win behind him and his social democratic reformers.

Hillary doesn’t learn. Over the weekend she claimed that her analysis showed that FBI director Comey’s reports “rais[ing] doubts that were groundless, baseless,” stopped her momentum. This was on a par with the New York Times analysis that had showed her with an 84 percent probability of winning last Tuesday. She still hasn’t admitted that her analysis was inaccurate.

What is the Democratic Party’s former constituency of labor and progressive reformers to do? Are they to stand by and let the party be captured in Hillary’s wake by Robert Rubin’s Goldman Sachs-Citigroup gang that backed her and Obama?

If the party is to be recaptured, now is the moment to move. The 2016 election sounded the death knell for the identity politics. Its aim was to persuade voters not to think of their identity in economic terms, but to think of themselves as women or as racial and ethnic groups first and foremost, not as having common economic interests. This strategy to distract voters from economic policies has obviously failed.

It did not work with women. In Florida, only 51 percent of white women are estimated to have voted for Hillary. It didn’t even work very well in ethnic Hispanic precincts. They too were more concerned about their own job opportunities.

The ethnic card did work with many black voters (although not so strongly; fewer blacks voted for Hillary than had showed up for Obama). Under the Obama administration for the past eight years, blacks have done worse in terms of income and net worth than any other grouping, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s statistics. But black voters were distracted from their economic interests by the Democrats’ ethnic-identity politics.

This election showed that voters have a sense of when they’re being lied to. After eight years of Obama’s demagogy, pretending to support the people but delivering his constituency to his financial backers on Wall Street. “Identity politics” has given way to the stronger force of economic distress. Mobilizing identity politics behind a Wall Street program will no longer work.

If we are indeed experiencing a revival of economic class consciousness, who should lead the fight to clean up the Democratic Party Wall Street leadership? Will it be the Wall Street wing, or can Bernie and perhaps Elizabeth Warren make their move?

There is only one way to rescue the Democrats from the Clintons and Rubin’s gang. That is to save the Democratic Party from being tarred irreversibly as the party of Wall Street and neocon brinkmanship. It is necessary to tell the Clintons and the Rubin gang from Wall Street to leave now. And take Evan Bayh with them.

The danger of not taking this opportunity to clean out the party now

The Democratic Party can save itself only by focusing on economic issues – in a way that reverses its neoliberal stance under Obama, and indeed going back to Bill Clinton’s pro-Wall Street administration. The Democrats need to do what Britain’s Labour Party did by cleaning out Tony Blair’s Thatcherites. As Paul Craig Roberts wrote over the weekend: “Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them. We have proof of this throughout South America. Every revolution by the indigenous people has left unmolested the Spanish ruling class, and every revolution has been overthrown by collusion between the ruling class and Washington.”[1] Otherwise the Democrats will be left as an empty shell.

Now is the time for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the few other progressives who have not been kept out of office by the DNC to make their move and appoint their own nominees to the DNC. If they fail, the Democratic Party is dead.

An indication of how hard the present Democratic Party leadership will fight against this change of allegiance is reflected in their long fight against Bernie Sanders and other progressives going back to Dennis Kucinich. The past five days of MoveOn demonstrations sponsored by Hillary’s backer George Soros may be an attempt to preempt the expected push by Bernie’s supporters, by backing Howard Dean for head of the DNC while organizing groups to be called on for what may be an American “Maidan Spring.”

Perhaps some leading Democrats preferred to lose with their Wall Street candidate Hillary than win with a reformer who would have edged them out of their right-wing positions. But the main problem was hubris. Hillary’s coterie thought they could make their own reality. They believed that hundreds of millions of dollars of TV and other advertising could sway voters. But eight years of Obama’s rescue of Wall Street instead of the economy was enough for most voters to see how deceptive his promises had been. And they distrusted Hillary’s pretended embrace of Bernie’s opposition to TPP.

The Rust Belt swing states that shifted away from backing Obama for the last two terms are not racist states. They voted for Obama twice, after all. But seeing his support for Wall Street, they had lost faith in her credibility – and were won by Bernie in his primaries against Hillary.

Donald Trump is thus Obama’s legacy. Last week’s vote was a backlash. Hillary thought that getting Barack and Michelle Obama to campaign as her surrogates would help, but it turned out to be the kiss of death. Obama egged her on by urging voters to “save his legacy” by supporting her as his Third Term. But voters did not want his legacy of giveaways to the banks, the pharmaceutical and health-insurance monopolies.

Most of all, it was Hillary’s asking voters to ignore her economic loyalty to Wall Street simply to elect a woman, and her McCarthy-like accusations that Trump was “Putin’s candidate” (duly echoed by Paul Krugman). On Wednesday, Obama’s former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted that “Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded.” It was as if the Republicans and even the FBI were a kind of fifth column for the KGB. Her receptiveness to cutting back Social Security and steering wage withholding into the stock market did not help – especially her hedge fund campaign contributors. Compulsory health-insurance fees continue to rise for healthy young people as the main profit center that Obamacare has offered the health-insurance monopoly.

The anti-Trump rallies mobilized by George Soros and MoveOn look like a preemptive attempt to capture the potential socialist left for the old Clinton divide-and-conquer strategy. The group was defeated five years ago when it tried to capture Occupy Wall Street to make it part of the Democratic Party. It’s attempt to make a comeback right now should be heard as an urgent call to Bernie’s supporters and other “real” Democrats that they need to create an alternative pretty quickly so as not to let “socialism” be captured by the Soros and his apparatchiks carried over from the Clinton campaign.

Notes.

[1] Paul Craig Roberts, “The Anti-Trump Protesters Are Tools of the Oligarchy,” November 11, 2016.

Michael Hudson’s new book, Killing the Host is published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet. He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Evolution or revolution: what do the anti-Trump protesters really want?

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | November 14, 2016

The anti-Trump protesters must be honest with themselves about the true intentions of their protest. And here’s why.

The protests against Donald Trump that happened directly after his election victory appear to be petering out. They were never very large, and were always going to end given the indisputable fact – which the protests can’t change – that Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States.

The protests have, however, attracted a great deal of attention and in view of that, and because I know of some people who have taken part in them, I feel that I should offer my views of them.

Firstly, people have a right to protest provided they do so in a lawful and peaceful way.

Secondly, whilst they have a right to protest against Donald Trump, they need to be clear what they are protesting against.  If by protesting they are trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming President of the United States, then since Trump has been elected legally and constitutionally, they are taking a revolutionary position. 

That is true even if, as some of them have said, the purpose of the protests is to persuade some of the electors on the Electoral College to switch support to Hillary Clinton from Donald Trump, defying the voters of their states.

If the purpose of the protests is indeed revolutionary – intended to overthrow or set aside the result of an election carried out in accordance with the established legal and constitutional processes of the United States – then the protesters need to be honest with themselves about it, and cannot in that case avoid scrutiny of some of the organisations which appear to be involved in organising the protests, or to hearing questions about them.

Alternatively, if the protests are against Trump’s policies or what the protesters think Trump’s policies will be, then they are a legitimate form of political activity carried out within the established norms of US politics, provided they are carried out in a lawful and peaceful way. Though, since coming in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election victory, they inevitably provoke comments about the protesters being sore losers.

I make these points because in the second case I would offer the view that, over time, protests may lead to be a positive development in US politics.

No one looking at the US political situation objectively before Trump’s election victory could be satisfied with the state of the US political system.  Virtually everyone agrees that it has become calcified, corrupt and increasingly detached from the people of America.

Hillary Clinton’s victory would simply have perpetuated for a further four years this failing and discredited system.  It is a system where democratic politics has ceased to function in any meaningful way, so that countries like Libya, Iraq and Syria can be destroyed, and democratically elected governments can be overthrown in Honduras and Ukraine, without anyone protesting or even properly knowing about it. 

As I have discussed previously, the situation has now become so bad that just a month ago the US found itself in a dangerous military stand-off with the Russians in Syria, and with the American people left in complete ignorance of it.

And this is not even touching on the way in which US domestic politics has been captured by powerful organised lobbies so that social inequalities have been allowed to grow with more and more people left behind. 

In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt spoke of how “government by organised money was as dangerous as government by organised mob”.  Who can deny that that is the situation the US has had up to now?  How else could someone like Hillary Clinton have been nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for President?

Donald Trump’s election offers an opportunity to break with this system.  If the protests that followed his election were the beginning of some sort of return to real politics – as opposed to the virtual reality post-modern politics we have had up to now – that could turn out over time to be a good thing.

However, the protesters must in that case ask themselves what it is exactly that they are protesting for, not just what they are protesting against. Are they protesting for Hillary Clinton and for a return to the unloved and unsatisfactory pre-Trump status quo? If so then the protests will be no more than a spasm of a discredited dying system, rather than the promise of something positive and new.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Trump the Anti-Semite?

Or is it just that liberal Jews hate Trump?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 15, 2016

One of the more curious bits of invective hurled at presidential candidate Donald Trump was the claim that he is an anti-Semite. The allegation is particularly odd as Trump worked comfortably for decades in the heavily Jewish New York real estate world, his daughter Ivanka, whom he is very close to, has converted to Judaism and is married to a Jew who was prominent in Donald’s campaign while Trump’s grandson from that marriage is being raised as Jewish. Trump was Grand Marshall of New York City’s 2004 Salute to Israel Parade and has contributed to predominantly Jewish charities.

On November 2nd, a position paper was released that had been prepared by the candidate’s supporters Jason Dov Greenblatt and David Friedman of the Trump campaign’s Israel Advisory Committee which detailed its Middle Eastern policy. It hails the “unbreakable bond” between the U.S. and Israel while calling Israel a Jewish state and a “staunch ally.” It promises to increase financial and political support for Israel, blames the Palestinians for failure to have peace, commits to cut off funding to UN organizations that criticize Israel, rejects any suggestion that Israel is an occupying power, and pledges major diplomatic and legislative efforts to stop the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Movement by whatever means necessary. It commits to having the Justice Department investigate on-campus attempts to “intimidate students who support Israel.” It concludes by rejecting a Palestinian state “where terrorism is financially incentivized” and supports Israel’s continued maintenance of “defensible borders” through its settlements. It calls for implementing “tough, new sanctions” against Iran and promises to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making the United States the only country in the world to do so.

Indeed, if one judges philo-Semitism by the relationship to Israel Trump fares well on all fronts, his campaign having also been perceived very positively in that country. One of the first calls from a foreign head of state that Trump took upon winning the election was from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will likely be the very first head of state to visit with Trump.

Admittedly the state of Israel is not exactly identical to Judaism or to what might drive pro- or anti-Jewish sentiment, but it would be difficult to imagine a more pro-Israel with the intention of being pro-Jewish document than the Trump campaign policy paper. Nevertheless, the attacks regarding anti-Semitism in the Trump campaign continued. The claims are usually generic and circumstantial, often evidence free. They tend not to be ad hominem directed at Trump himself because it is impossible to actually cite any instances where the candidate himself made unambiguously anti-Semitic statements or supported causes hostile to Jews.

One recent piece by Dana Milbank, a cookie cutter Washington Post columnist who has been blasting Trump for over a year is characteristic. Milbank, an Ivy league twit who is himself Jewish and liberal to a fault, claimed on November 7th that “Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody.” He claimed that Trump has been “playing footsie with American neo-Nazis for months” and based his broader allegation on Trump’s going after banks and the “global power structure” that Hillary Clinton embodied, which Milbank believes is codeword for citing an International Jewish Conspiracy. What set him off in particular was a Trump ad that appeared on November 4th depicting “those who control the levers of power” and who “represent global interests.” The three individuals appearing on the ad were Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve; George Soros, the international financier; and Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs. All three are Jewish.

Milbank may or may not believe that banks and financial services are fair game when it comes to discussing America’s economic malaise, but he clearly thinks that it is not desirable to do so if it involves his tribe. Trump’s ad in no way mentions Jews or Judaism. It does identify individuals who are key players in the global economy, which would appear to be the point. And one might well observe that discussing banks and bank(st)ers will inevitably lead to people with Jewish names as American Jews are way over represented in the profession.

Janet Yellen is the third Jew in a row to be chairman of the Federal Reserve and her deputy Stanley Fischer is a Rhodesian born Israeli who was formerly head of the Bank of Israel. Soros is a Hungarian born billionaire investor who has supported what some regard as subversive progressive causes for three decades, making him an obvious target of Trump, while Blankfein and the notorious Goldman Sachs needs no further elaboration. One suspects that for Milbank it might be possible to talk critically about some banks, but not if the banking practices under scrutiny are connected with Jews, particularly if such commentary might be construed as suggestive of the political access and control that money buys.

A couple of weeks before Milbank’s venting of his spleen, one Yochi Dreazen made his case against Trump in an article entitled “It’s time to acknowledge reality: Donald Trump talks like an anti-Semite.” He does so largely by citing other people and entities that he links to Trump, including David Duke, The Daily Stormer website and Pepe the Frog. He accuses Trump of using “language and imagery that carry anti-Semitic undertones” and even attacks Trump’s telling the Republican Jewish Coalition that he didn’t need their money and wouldn’t be bought. He also digs up the controversy, as does Milbank, about a mysterious six pointed star appearing on a campaign ad featuring Hillary Clinton and stacks of money. It might be doubted that the creators of ads during a heated political campaign would be inclined to insert secret symbols to inflame their most extreme supporters but even if that is true it is quite a stretch to suggest that Donald Trump either had a hand in it or approved of it.

Dreazen’s wrath is most focused on a speech Trump made in Florida in mid-October, which is reproduced in “key phrases” in his article. Here is what Trump allegedly said:

It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities…

We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors…

This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.

This election will determine whether we’re a free nation, or whether we have only an illusion democracy but in are in fact controlled by a small handful of special global interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged.

Dreazen regards all of the above as a “paranoid and hate filled rant” as well as “a hoary anti-Semitic canard” but I don’t quite get it. I would agree with most of what Trump said and would observe that he is not unique in thinking that way either as most of what he said has long been common currency among both liberal and conservative critics of the status quo in the U.S. I think that very few Americans who might agree with the sentiments expressed would under any circumstances think that it refers to Jews. Rather, some thoughtful observers who have actually thought about the issues at stake might well believe that Trump is talking about the American Deep State, which, as far as I know, has never been described as some kind of Jewish conspiracy. Trump does not mention Jews at all and the only proper name that he cites in his speech was Hillary Clinton, whom he was running against, and she claims to be a Methodist.

Let’s face it, Milbank and Dreazen are pro-Establishment guys who have hated Trump from the beginning because he does not fit into their progressive world view and who delight in being able to make the kind of twisted arguments that enable them to label him an anti-Semite as well as a misogynist, racist, bigot and homophobe. Have I left anything out? They are attacking him not for what he has actually clearly stated or done but over what he might be thinking. For them it is always convenient to be able to recall Munich in 1938 or to conjure up Cossacks at the front door to win an argument, but someone should tell them that calling someone an anti-Semite is fortunately a slur that is losing its effectiveness through overuse and lack of credibility. Joe Sobran put it very well when he observed that anti-Semite used to be an expression applied to people who hate Jews but now it is more often used to describe people that Jews hate.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

Trump Sending ‘Good Signals’ on Syria, but the Devil Is in the Details

Sputnik – 14.11.2016

US President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that tackling Daesh will be a key priority for the incoming administration, prompting many to say that Washington will withdraw its tacit support of the Syrian rebels and work with Damascus instead. Professor Alexander Azadgan told Radio Sputnik that these are “good signals.”

“He had some interesting general policy statements, but as you know the devil is in the details. We’ll have to see how he actually implements even the generalities that he talked about,” Azadgan, Professor of Strategic Global Management and International Political Economy, said. “These are good signals. However, saying that ‘we are going to fight [Daesh]’, that’s not good enough. Everybody is fighting [Daesh], even Washington’s fighting [Daesh].”

The analyst urged policymakers in Washington to “change their vocabulary” when it comes to Syria, particularly the Syrian rebels.

“There is no such thing as a Syrian rebel. We’ve got to throw [this word combination] out of our vocabulary. There are mercenary, lunatic Wahhabis from everywhere around the world, especially Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. They are neither Syrian, nor rebels. They are terrorists and savages.”

Trump appears to have questioned the concept last week when he said that “now we’re backing rebels against Syria and we have no idea who these people are.”

Azadgan expressed concern that Washington was not ready to listen to other countries with regard to resolving the Syrian crisis.

“I don’t think that Washington has good will to want to compromise or have some kind of fruitful negotiation. I think they are just buying time. Every time Washington says that they are going to negotiate, they create a false flag operation, like the bombing of a Syrian convoy that happened two months ago,” he said. “I don’t think they are interested in peace whatsoever. They are into prolonging this conflict. … It’s very dangerous. And war, even planned war, never goes right.”

The analyst was referring to an attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in mid-September, a week after a ceasefire brokered by Russian and American diplomats had entered into force. The incident took place near Aleppo, with the US swiftly blaming Moscow and Damascus. The Russian Defense Ministry provided detailed information disproving these allegations.

Azadgan suggested that Washington’s foreign policy could change once Trump is sworn in as the next US president. “We could reason that maybe Washington has realized that these policies are unsustainable and that they are going to have some face-saving change in policy. We have to talk about this potential,” he said.

The analyst further compared the present-day situation with regard to Syria to Serbia a century ago, saying that we are at a dangerous stage when global powers have taken different sides in a local conflict, which could have global implications.

Trump’s apparent willingness to limit to an extent Washington’s engagement overseas is a good sign.

“If you have cooler heads in Washington, if you have people expressing slight forms of isolationism, this is good for world peace. More importantly this is good for American taxpayers who have seen their taxes being plundered in the Middle East by policymakers, who are illiterate, imperialistic and hegemonic.”

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Anti-democracy protests spread to Moldova

Press TV – November 15, 2016

Thousands of Moldovans have protested in the capital Chisinau after a West-leaning politician claimed that a presidential runoff which propelled her pro-Russian rival to victory was “neither free nor fair.”

The protesters gathered in front of Moldova’s Great National Assembly before marching to the Central Electoral Commission where a high number of riot police were deployed.

Final results on Monday showed socialist-backed opposition candidate Igor Dodon won 52.2 percent of the vote against Maia Sandu who had 47.8 percent.

Sandu cried foul, accusing her rival of using “manipulation, lies, dirty money” in his bid to win.

Up to 3,000 mostly young Moldovans then marched to the offices of the Central Election Committee in Chisinau shouting “Down with the Mafia!”

International election observers, however, said “fundamental freedoms were respected,” even though “polarized media coverage, harsh rhetoric detracted from the process.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) described its overall assessment of the election as positive but said reports that some voters were unable to vote due to the lack of ballots were “regrettable.”

The 41-year-old Dodon tapped into popular anger over the approximately $1 billion that went missing from Moldovan banks before the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Many Moldovans hope Dodon’s election will rekindle ties with Moscow, which took a hit after the country signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Dodon to visit Moscow and said he looked forward to developing bilateral relations.

The eastern European state of 3.5 million is located on the fault line separating Russia from Europe. Dodon has pledged to pursue closer ties with Russia rather than the European Union.

He argues that the recent gravitation towards the European Union has cost the country its ties with neighboring Russia. Dodon’s policy is backed by many Moldovans who suffered financially from the goods embargo imposed by Russia and a broader economic downturn.

Moldova has been in turmoil since the mysterious disappearance of money from three banks, which sparked huge street protests and the arrest of the former prime minister Vlad Filat.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment