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US spent $585mn on ‘promoting democracy’ worldwide in past year

RT | November 18, 2016

Washington invested $585 million in promoting democracy across the globe in the past year, the US Department of State’s financial report for fiscal year 2016 revealed.

According to the paper, the State Department’s total assets equaled $93.8 billion in the last fiscal year, which concluded on September 30, increasing by $3.2 billion compared to 2015.

Of this amount, $585 million was spent by the State Department under the article ‘Democracy, human rights and governance’ – $70 million down on the 2015 figure.

The report didn’t specify the projects funded by the agency abroad, but Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in the preface that “we have supported important democratic gains in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Burma.”

Kerry also stressed that “in an era of diffuse and networked power, we (the US) are focusing on strengthening partnerships with civil society, citizen movements, faith leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and others to promote democracy and good governance and address gender-based violence.”

In later pages, the authors of the report explained that the State Department promotes democratic values because “stable democracies are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the US.”

Washington achieves its goals through leveraging trade agreements, pursuing meaningful sanctions, fostering people-to-people ties and encouraging responsible business conduct, which respects human and labor rights, the paper said.

According to the report, the State Department always back those who strive for justice and accountability in “post-conflict states.”

“Activists and organizations in authoritarian countries rely on our support as they work toward peaceful democratic reforms, democratic institutions, respect for minority rights, and dignity for all,” it stressed.

Prior to the Russian parliamentary election in September, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which works closely with the State Department, allocated $3 million to non-governmental organizations in Russia.

The investment was listed under the heading “For activity in Russia”, according to government website US Spending.

Since June, Russia has banned over a dozen NGOs from operating in the country as “undesirable” foreign groups.

The Soros Foundation, the US National Endowment for Democracy and Senator John McCain’s International Republican Institute were among the outlawed organizations.

“Today Russia faces its strongest attack in the past 25 years, targeting its national interests, values and institutes,” the Russian Senate said in its ruling.

“[The attack’s] main goal is to influence the internal political situation in the country, undermine the patriotic unity of our people, undermine the integration processes within the CIS space and force our country into geopolitical isolation,” the ruling added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also criticized Washington for its attempts to democratize foreign states via military or other means.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that you can’t change things from the outside, regarding political regimes, power change,” Putin said in September.

“I’m sure – and the events of the past decade add to this certainty – in particular the attempts of democratization in Iraq, Libya, we see what they led to: the destruction of the state system and the rise of terrorism,” the president said.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook blocks Palestine Network for Dialogue’s page

Palestinian Information Center – November 18, 2016

cthx0pjxgaa7nyiGAZA – Facebook administration resumed its policy of targeting Palestinian media pages after blocking Palestine Network for Dialogue’s page for the third time Friday.

The Palestine Network for Dialogue, an online discussion board, was blocked without any prior notice although it has 70,000 followers.

Palestine Network for Dialogue specializes in publishing stories about the plight of Palestinians both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in addition to those living in 1948 occupied Palestine.

Last September, several pro-Palestinian Facebook pages and accounts were removed including accounts of seven editors of the Palestinian Information Center.

In a controversial move, the Israeli government and Facebook reportedly agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on social media, aimed primarily at Palestinians.

Not long after Facebook’s agreement, several Palestinian pages with millions of readers found themselves closed and administrators locked out, in a move believed to be directly connected to the agreement between Facebook and the Israeli government.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

Spy Chief Admits US Doesn’t Know How Wikileaks Got Hillary Emails

Higgins News Network | November 18, 2016

In resigning from the Obama administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that US Intelligence Agencies do not know how or when Wikileaks received emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton during her campaign.

One more lie has been exposed as Fake news involving a Hillary Clinton lie that was supposedly fact checked and then echoed throughout the corporate media echo chamber.

It’s part of a year long pattern of media lies which has resulted in corporate media news outlets losing nearly all of the public’s trust.

Just a few weeks ago, Hillary and the democrats were running around blaming everything on the Russians and in the Presidential Debate she lied to the public stating the WikiLeaks emails shouldn’t be trusted because they were hacked by Russia.

Doubling down on the that lie, she cited 17 US Intelligence agencies as the basis for her claim.

Well, there were only two and the first walked away from the claim not longer after the debate leaving the other 16, which is actually only one, headed by James Clapper, still validating the claim.

Clapper submitted his resignation today as the President-elect is set to take office in January and in doing so he made the stunning revelation that has been buried as a one-liner in media reports.

Via Washington Post (subscription required):

He said intelligence agencies don’t have good insight on when or how Wikileaks obtained the hacked emails.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran fulfilling heavy water obligations under JCPOA: AEOI

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Spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi
Press TV – November 18, 2016

Iran has remained committed to its obligations, including those concerning its heavy water stockpiles, under last year’s landmark nuclear agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian nuclear official says.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has fulfilled its obligations on heavy water stockpiles based on the JCPOA (the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and remains committed to it,” the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, told IRIB on Friday.

Kamalvandi made the comments in reaction to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week that claimed that Iran’s stocks of heavy water had slightly exceeded the 130-tonne level set out in the JCPOA.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on Thursday chided Iran for exceeding the agreed limit on its stockpiles and said, “It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation.”

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA in July 2015 and started implementing it in January 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

The deal requires Iran’s storage of uranium enriched to up to 3.67 percent purity to stay below 300 kilograms. Tehran has also agreed to keep its heavy water stockpile below 130 metric tonnes.

“According to the JCPOA, we were required to offer on the international market any excess over 130 tonnes of heavy water and we have so far sold 70 tonnes,” Kamalvandi said.

He added, “Negotiations are under way with interested countries, the Europeans in particular,” to sell the rest.

The nuclear official emphasized that Iran would remain committed to its undertakings under the JCPOA on heavy water restrictions “so long as the JCPOA is in place.”

Last week, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner played down concerns about Iran exceeding the heavy water stockpile limit.

He said it was “important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this” and that he was “not sure whether that constitutes a formal violation.”

The AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi said in October that the Islamic Republic had sold 32 tonnes of heavy water to the United States and delivered 38 tonnes of the nuclear substance to Russia.

“European firms, including German and French ones, seek to purchase Iran’s heavy water and we have expressed our readiness in this regard,” Salehi added.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia set to break grisly stalemate in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 19, 2016

There are distinct signs that the discussion regarding the Syrian conflict between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US President-elect Donald Trump last Monday has been a defining moment. At the very least, it creates a firewall against the present US administration of President Barack Obama creating new facts on the ground that vitiates the climate for US-Russian cooperation in Syria after Trump takes over.

The US Defence Secretary Ashton carter had openly stated a week ago that he’d advise the president-elect firmly against taking any cooperation from Russia in addressing the Syrian situation. On the contrary, the remarks in Beirut on Thursday by the Russian presidential envoy on the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov suggest that there are contacts below the radar with Trump’s transition team. Bogdanov said:

  • We are at an important turning point; a new team is coming in with president-elect Donald Trump. We are now already beginning contact with people who will likely assist the new president. We hope the outgoing and incoming administration will accept that without Russia it is impossible to solve the Syrian issue, we are ready for open dialogue.

It is highly significant that soon after Monday’s phone conversation, Russian jets have resumed bombing missions in Syria. Jets from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and ship-launched cruise missiles joined attacks on Idlib and Homs. On Thursday, long-range strategic bombers flew an 11,000 kilometre mission from bases in Russia to fire missiles at targets in Syria. Syrian jets have also operations against rebel targets in Aleppo.

Even as the Obama administration is reduced to a mute witness, a dramatic change in the US policy in Syria seems to be unfolding. To quote Prof Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of Britain’s respected think tank, Royal United Services Institute, Trump’s “evident sympathy” for Vladimir Putin and his scepticism for America’s military alliances “cannot be assumed to be passing fancies”. (See a sensational report in Telegraph newspaper titled Downing Street warned to prepare for Donald Trump reversal on Syria and military support for the UK.)

Something of all this is most certainly emboldening Turkey to make a grab for the strategic northern Syrian city of Al-Bab, which aims at pre-empting any Kurdish enclave forming along Syria’s border with Turkey. The Syrian Kurds will be furious at the Turkish move, and they have been the US’ best allies so far in Syria. (Reuters )

Turkey’s intention is to break the backbone of the US-Kurdish alliance in northern Syria and pick up the pieces to put together a new Turkish-American paradigm by the time Trump takes office. By the way, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a contender to be Trump’s national security advisor, has been a staunch backer of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s government.

The Turkish offensive on Al-Bab cannot happen without a tacit Russian nod. Obviously, Turkey has reached out to [Russia] and Moscow is not standing in Erdogan’s way. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is due to travel to Moscow for talks about Syria and deepening bilateral relations. A Voice of America commentary said on a sombre note, “Deepening ties with Moscow is leading to some of Turkey’s NATO allies starting to question where Ankara’s loyalties lie… Ankara’s diversifying of its relations coincides with severe, if not unprecedented, strains with its Western allies.”

“Ankara remains at loggerheads with Washington over the latter’s support of Syrian Kurdish forces and Turkey’s demand for the extradition of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen… Those ties could be further strained over rising speculation that Gulen could be allowed to leave the United States for a third country.”

“Another key anchor with the West, Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the European Union, is on the verge of being severed, with its effort facing collapse, amid mutual recriminations.”

Similarly, the Iraqi Shi’ite militia supported by Iran is making a bid to capture Tal Afar, some 60 kilometres to the west of Syria. Control of Tal Afar will facilitate a direct land route for Iran to Syria and to Lebanon. The capture of Tal Afar by the pro-Iranian militia will be a serious blow to Israel.

Where does Trump stand on Syria? Actually, there is remarkable consistency in Trump’s pronouncements on the Syrian conflict over a considerable period of time. Deutsche Welle put together ‘fragments of a blueprint’ for Trump’s ‘vision’ of the conflict. Read the revealing ‘fragments’ here.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mainstream Media, Kellyanne Conway and Soros

By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | November 18, 2016

For most long time exiles from the Democratic Party, the post election liberal meltdown as a result of HRC’s historic, unexpected loss continues to gratify as photos of White House staff in tears do little to stir sympathy.

But unexpected? Only in the eyes of Democratic party stalwarts who wouldn’t know what to say to a Trump supporter, if they met one.

After all, how could she lose with the unwavering support of every institution in American life that mattered including every media conglomerate at the DNC’s fingertips – but even that boomeranged on the impending coronation.

Having digested Wikileaks emails re the MSM and partisan collusion, it was of no small interest then to view the Anderson Cooper and the Jake Tapper interviews on CNN’s Sunday morning talk shows two days before the election with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

Tapper who hosted the Presidential town hall debate in Columbus, Ohio and Cooper who co-hosted the last debate in St. Louis are both regarded as credible liberal reporters, synonymous with being fair and respectful, professional and amenable to alternative points of view. Their respective interviews with Conway proved none of that to be true.

On that Sunday, HRC was leading in the polls and expected to win up to 320 electoral votes. What was revealing was that, even in the face of Wikileaks confirmation, the MSM continued to unabashedly favor Clinton which did not go unnoticed by ‘deplorables’ around the country. Media bias for Democrats came as no surprise but what was unexpected was proof -positive that the media has been infiltrated by political partisans such as CNN’s Donna Brazile (she of the passing debate questions scandal). MSNBC, of course, is rife with political operatives who have moved into hosting their own shows masquerading as objective journalists.

As if deliberately thumbing their nose with a certainty that the mass of American voters are semi literate, bumbling racists who don’t know how to think, corporate media continued to display an obvious partiality, disputing any analysis that did not conform with their high opinion of HRC as they persisted in following Clinton’s grievously flawed candidacy down the tubes to ignominious defeat.

Obviously Conway’s choice of candidate is irrelevant to her right to speak freely on publicly-owned airwaves without being humiliated and bullied by big name, multi-million dollar media stars who believe that as journalists they inherited a God-given right to influence an election by disparaging one candidate against another – some of those same media stars who believe steadfastly in their own arrogance were so utterly wrong and ethically compromised on election evening for all the world to see.

As Anderson and Tapper approached their prospective interviews with Conway, they had to know beforehand that she had already proven to be an intelligent, knowledgeable and savvy politico as any Presidential campaign manager on the national stage should be. It was clear watching their performance that there was a deliberate intent on ‘cracking’ her composure and breaking her resolve. As millions of women watched, some of whom may not have yet voted, saw the Cooper/Tapper assault as another example of Big Media anti Trump overreach.

In what might easily be seen by HRC’s female supporters as sexual harassment, both Cooper and Tapper ‘s behavior was consistently unprofessional and discourteous as they repeatedly interrupted Conway, spoke over her so as to drown out her comments and otherwise continued a harangue they never would have unloaded on John Podesta .

While much media attention was focused on Trump’s sexual indiscretions of more than a decade ago, the Big Blue Propaganda Machine was banking on voters believing that liberal men are paragons of virtue immune from sexual misconduct. White female voters proved to be more discriminating as economic issues mattered more with 53% voting for Trump over Clinton.

Lest you think this essay is only about how high powered men in positions of power publicly mistreat women in comparable positions of power, Conway’s interview on The View in early October was equally appalling. In an insightful if excruciating ‘view’ of how liberal women treat other women who have a different political point of view, there was no evidence of Sisterhood. Whoopi Goldberg grilled Conway about Trump’s tax returns claiming that HRC’s ‘transparency is insane” while another member of the panel suggested that Trump spent money in Cuba during the US embargo equated to ‘treason’.

Throughout all three interviews which millions of women who vote were watching, Conway, a smart, experienced political strategist, stayed on message, never lost her cool and maintained an admirable poise. As the first woman to successfully manage a Presidential campaign, Conway is tough enough to understand that being female and a Trump supporter made her an object of ridicule and an irresistible target for the Hollywood/New York City and MSM elites.

Clearly, if the MSM does not agree with the message, the DNC playbook is to attack the messenger. Any communications professor might consider using either of these interviews to teach their students how not to conduct an interview.

In an October 31 appearance on Morning Joe, Conway commented that since “Hillary Clinton was engendering boos for the FBI and the FBI director at her rallies yesterday,” she asked “Are we going to start asking if she’s going to accept the result if she loses” and “are we going to start asking her if she’s inciting violence.”

As if a prescient answer to Conway, much of the nation may have been surprised to see thousands of young people in the streets to protest Trump’s election with a disturbing level of violence, property destruction and their own version of intense hatred. While it is encouraging to see young’uns feel passionate about civic engagement and stand up for principle as they take advantage of their constitutional rights, they have been duped.

What the MSM has described as ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations were generated by MoveOn.org which has been a thinly-disguised front for the Democratic party since its inception. Created in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual indiscretions, MoveOn (aka Change.org) has a reported membership of eight million members and received funding of $1.4 million from Big Blue oligarch, international financier and currency speculator George Soros who recently donated $50 million to the ACLU which promptly issued a challenge to President-elect Trump.

As a Wikileaks release in August described, this is the same Soros, who has a history of funding and fomenting protests around the world and in 2011 instructed Secretary of State HRC to overthrow the government of Albania including the need to “forestall further public demonstrations.” Days later, HRC followed Soros’ instructions to a T.

On March 11th, the NY Times reported on the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago due to ‘violent scuffles’ and protestors who “engaged in intense disputes” with security officials. What the Times did not report was that MoveOn took credit for the mob violence sending out an email that read “This is what standing up to hate looks like” citing an ‘outpouring of peaceful opposition” which was actually not peaceful.

So in orchestrating protests that fan the flames of fear, violence and civil disorder, high school and college students are being taught that lawless, violent behavior is appropriate and to be condoned if a valid election result does not meet their expectation. Adult liberals have also reacted with shock in discovering that much of country does not necessarily think as they do.

The issue here is not that Trump’s rhetoric did not deserve an appropriate response; he is clearly a flawed individual and will be watched for authentic evidence of violating his oath of office. However, the 2016 election is not a replay of 2000 when the Democrats rolled over as the election was stolen. MoveOn could have then provided a useful public service but GW was akin to the influential oligarch elite class which would have presumably been satisfied with either Gore or Bush.

The larger problem is that partisan-connected oligarchs have a personal agenda that threatens the integrity of a constitutional democracy as they found and fund public interest groups which manipulate its members that, in turn, benefit the oligarchs own financial and political gain.

Despite anxiety and concern generated by HRC and MSM that Trump would not accept election results thereby causing riots, civil unrest and perhaps beginning a civil war, there have been no signs of Trump supporters confronting the protests – so who exactly is perpetuating the violence and hostility?

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton, The Vote, and Contemporary Feminism’s Class Blindness

By Julian Vigo and Jasmine Curcio | CounterPunch | November 18, 2016

The recent electoral victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton has led to a massive spewing of theatrics on social media whereby public “mourning” which verges on the sycophantic has given rise to a larger public momentum of mass neoliberal outrage as the surrogate for political activity. Even within feminist circles are the myriad Facebook groups devoted to discussing how Clinton was the arch-victim of misogyny, no mention of class politics or Clinton’s having turned her back on the mere mention of class.  Now with the recent movement to utilise safety pins as a means to “indicate that the person wearing the pin is a safe person for those who might feel in danger, whether that’s due to their religion, nationality or other status,” we have fully entered into the age of absurdist politics whereby “safety” is demarcated through cheap political gimmickry and the real analysis of political failure is fobbed off by feminists as the inability of people to recognise the necessity of women’s political self-determination—or whatever that has come to mean nowadays.

Sarah Ditum in her recent piece, “Donald Trump has grabbed America by the pussy, and it’s women who will suffer,” writes, “Women do not “vote with our vaginas”, as a rule. Maybe it’s time we looked into that.” Likewise, Cosmopolitan has announced that the election result “is such a deeply felt insult to women across the United States,” and numerous other publications have insinuated the same: that Clinton’s loss somehow represents an “erasure” of women, with zero analysis as to how Clinton’s campaign failed to address class issues or, more poignantly, how class is directly related to issues of sex. Indeed, one must wonder if Ditum et al have even considered for a moment how women in Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine have been affected by her policies which lead to the murder and rapes of women throughout these regions after political instability was ensured by Clinton’s actions. Not negligible in this timeline is how Clinton utilised false claims of rape to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi or how Clinton refuses to address the coup in Honduras, instead naming it a “crisis” while assisting in the deposition of former Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, which resulted in myriad documented rapes throughout the country.

If women must “vote with our vaginas” then, it would seem that the choice between two candidates where one grabs pussies while the other leaves them exposed to poverty, death, and rape, resulted in what would appear to be the least overtly violent figure. That is if you are not a white woman living outside the neoliberal dream of 401k or hedge fund accounts. To think that Trump could possibly have been the more class-conscious and feminist choice of the two might seem surreal to many, but the Realpolitik of this election demonstrates that Hillary Clinton was unable to mobilise support from the working class or women. As Lorna Garano notes: “One problem with the Bernie Bro myth: He had massive support from women. That’s because things like healthcare, education, and a liveable wage are women’s issues. You can’t eat symbolism.” Certainly, if the choice is down to women being targeted because of their vaginas and the assumption that they are unable to think beyond their anatomical parts, then women are truly, in all senses of the word, fucked.  What seems to be missing from recent “feminist” analyses of political power is how class issues are most definitely women’s issues and it would seem that American women know this far better than liberal pundits. The larger question is how feminist analysis today might learn from this election rather than refract pussy politics onto all those “mindless, blondes” who voted for Trump.

Yet in spite of her extensive political record, not to mention her repeated choice to stand by Bill in the face of sexual assault allegations, Hillary Rodham Clinton was constructed by a vocal subset of liberal feminists as a quasi-divine figure incapable of (serious) wrongdoing, whose election as President would in an instant vindicate the struggles of our mothers and grandmothers, delegitimize all misogynist representations, liberate women from the lack of confidence we have accumulated over the course of our lives, and, to top it off, would smash the ultimate glass ceiling. A woman, leading the free world!

If this iteration of the culturally-overplayed narrative of fulfilling every girl’s dream of a female president seems too good to be true, it probably is. But dreams themselves are ultimately anchored to material situations – those who allocute the needs of females via mainstream media outlets are often blindsided by their own history, socialisation, and material wealth, universalising their particular interests in projecting them onto all women. Not coincidentally, the persistence, enunciated by many feminists today, that Clinton represents the best interests of females is driven by a uniquely Western perspective whereby these interests adopt a myopic aperture, relegating all that is important to female lives as restricted within a very narrow set of political and economic paradigms. Namely the needs of a neoliberal class of women for whom pussy politics is a luxury because money has allowed this brand of feminism to advance in an eerily similar trajectory to the Clintonian mandate whereby class is elided in favour of a happy feminism where those pesky, depressing issues of paying rent, bus fare, and groceries need not be on the table.  Glass ceilings sound far more appealing and empowering by comparison.

But what would a Clinton presidency concretely offer women? This question was answered with the supercilious assumption that the “benefits” to women – whatever they were – would trickle down to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, in a fashion reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s economic plan for the masses. That if we let the privileged women at the top chase money and power, they, grateful for the opportunity, would commence giving a hand up to all women below. Given the US’s position as imperialist superpower, this was imagined to take place on a global scale. Aside from being dangerously close to essentialism, this assumption relies on a notion of there existing an organic feminist consciousness arising crudely and simply out of the fact of being a woman, able to manifest itself irrespective of pre-existing political commitments, policies or party lines. It ultimately condescends to all women by downplaying their intelligence and political acumen whilst inviting them to participate in a political arena curtailed by a predetermined narrative and naked class interests, telling them that the only way they could make a real impact on the world is, in fact, by voting with their vagina.

This sort of feminist politics is not new and is reminiscent of an earlier moralisation where the feminist movement was largely composed of middle and lower-class women who coalesced their power within the temperance movement, seeking political gains at the ends of moralist and pragmatic interventions. Where these first wave feminists advocated the development of moral integrity and exemplarity, Clinton’s politics represent anything but.

Feminist history, in particular the suffragist movement of the first wave and the image of hunger-striking suffragettes sacrificing for future generations of women, was cleverly utilised by the Clinton campaign to coalesce sentiment around the idea that Hillary was a direct successor of this tradition and that her presidency would represent an achievement of the same nature, a sort of capstone on the suffragist achievement. And the vote our foremothers gave us would have made it all possible. The campaign’s manifest ignorance of the political history of the first wave, in advancing a warmonger as representative of a staunch anti-war tradition, is embarrassing at best. First wave feminists emphasised the cultivation of female responsibility and the importance of moral character development via engagement with the wider world denied them, in opposition to the prevailing Victorian cultural worship of the “angel in the house” curtailed by her inferior feminine, childlike capacities, foreclosed from the ethical and political dimensions of truly-human experience and left to exercise her feminine wiles to procure anything she needed. How Clinton herself signified continuity with this tradition remains a mystery; if one is to go about the business of idealising a human figure, one would think that this process would first of all entail that they, at the very least, embody some noteworthy ethical characteristics or political principles. The cognitive dissonance in deifying a war criminal did not seem to diminish but further strengthened the desperate exhortation to women to simply believe (in Her). The Hillary campaign’s conviction that the suffragists’ work, ceaselessly campaigning throughout three generations for voting rights and just barely scraping forth that achievement for themselves, was ultimately carried out in order to execute a neoliberal program entirely antithetical to their values and aims, displays a deep hubris which verges on betrayal.

Alternatively, if those first wave principles so happen to trouble you by obstructing Hillary worship, you can reassure yourself in shooting the whole thing down. Sarah Churchwell devotes space in a recent Guardian article to the cultural examination of the female-president fantasy, in which she writes off the fundamental values of the first wave as a naive belief that “idealised women should cleanse American politics with their purity.” Purity, in the first wave lexicon, didn’t signify what we now come to know as moral puritanism, let alone the sexist double standard. A simple assessment of the meaning of the colours of the suffragist flag tells us the following: white symbolised “purity in public as well as private life, purple for dignity and self-respect and green for hope and new life”. A crucial conceptual distinction is made here that severs dignity and sexual “honour” from female ethical conduct in such a fashion that posits women, for the first time in history, as political beings to be judged by their principles. As for the crusade to clean up politics with the mop of feminine values, it is useful to remember that in campaigning for their en masse entry into political life by winning the vote, women had to put forth a pressing reason why their political contribution would be valuable, and strategically made use of the reasons for their exclusion – pacifism, maternal qualities – by transforming them into arguments for inclusion. You can only fight with what you’ve got, after all. It is similarly mistaken to directly equate negative representations of a female president in American literature with antipathy toward the idea as such; judging by the passages Churchwell has quoted it is apparent that a female presidency was used as a narrative device to make a general statement about women. Tales of women leaving the presidency behind for (grand)motherhood, displaying the monstrous, “masculine” characteristics of a human subject while in office, or admitting they fundamentally need men under the guise of mating with the last man alive, reflect misogynist male anxieties toward women in general. Churchwell nevertheless maintains that it is Americans’ deeply seated cultural fear of a female president that pushed a Trump victory. But if this line of argument fails to convince as to why Hillary Clinton was cheated out of the presidency she deserved, you can always cry conspiracy.

The amount of feminist energies poured into the Clinton campaign raises further questions on what the vote still means today for feminism. The idea that the vote empowered American women to definitively “choose” their liberation, as if an either-or dilemma, at the ballot box in 2016 seems fatuous. The narrative upheld by Hillary supporters with regard to the vote’s place as the lever that would lift her into the presidency, is surrounded by the politics of affect and the vote’s importance to feminism has been elevated to such an extreme level that it may not ultimately deserve. Again they neglect to take feminist history into account. The late Shulamith Firestone, author of The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970) and founding figure of second wave Anglo-American feminism, evaluated the trajectory of the first wave as a foundation upon which to rebuild a movement for women’s liberation. She was not prone to nostalgic idealism about the vote, which she saw as a political failure, not a victory, in the long run. In The Dialectic of Sex she writes:

The granting of the vote to the suffrage movement killed the W.R.M. [Women’s Rights Movement]. Though the anti-feminist forces appeared to give in, they did so in name only. They never lost. By the time the vote was granted, the long channeling of feminist energies into the limited goal of suffrage – seen initially as only one step to political power – had thoroughly depleted the W.R.M. The monster Ballot had swallowed everything else … The women who later joined the feminist movement to work for the single issue of the vote had never had time to develop a broader consciousness: by then they had forgotten what the vote was for. The opposition had had its way (22).

And in Notes from the First Year, published by New York Radical Women in 1969:

For what is the vote worth finally if the voter is manipulated? Every husband knows he’s not losing a vote, but gaining one. Today, some 50 years later, women still vote as wives, just as they govern as wives.

Despite the major flaw in her feminist analysis, of adducing women’s oppression solely on the basis of a fundamental biological capacity for childbirth, Firestone came from a strong left tradition which informed her feminism. Unlike her more liberal contemporaries such as Kate Millett, economic class was woven into the very fabric of her radical feminist analysis. In the chapter of The Dialectic of Sex on childhood, Firestone notes that bourgeois women and children possessed an economic patronage which partially offset their oppression. Theirs was a “privileged slavery”. This is a far cry from contemporary intersectional analyses which displace class not only as a separate axis from other oppressions (which suddenly becomes relevant when we have poor people to feel sorry for), but as a concept itself that would inform theoretical understandings of oppression and remove the need for a problem-solving legal theory concerned with the topography of the individual.

What intersectional feminism does for the bourgeois female subject today, Reaganomics did for the economic elite of the 1980s who were made to believe that by paying virtually no taxes, they were helping the poor. And such tactics work as long as everyone is complicit in keeping the fantasy alive. The recent Twitter storms and Facebook debates rage on as alleged feminists have, over the past week, made the claim that by disagreeing with Clinton’s policies one is necessarily giving a tacit nod to Trump, or that in critiquing the use of safety pins as meaningful political resistance one is “mock[ing] people who are scared.” The reality on the ground is that all Trump’s victory has accomplished, thus far, is that white liberals—both male and female—are living out a theatre of “fright” which speaks more to their own inability to read public sentiment about the economy and the reality of pre-existing and current racial politics in the United States. Meanwhile, the most cogent critique of both the Trump victory and white neoliberal reactions to the election was beautifully presented by David Chappelle and Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live as they made fun of this demographic’s shock over their “nightmare scenario,” Clinton’s “power grab” of three electoral votes in Vermont, and finally, the enunciation which causes both men to burst out into laughter: “This is the most shameful thing America has ever done!”

So, when the likes of J.K. Rowling can boast so gleefully about their social position and wealth, it is clear that feminism is heading towards an impasse where its own aversion to class politics will be its own undoing. Just as many feminists have bravely fought against the onslaught of identity politics demanding a historical materialist analysis of of the political landscape, feminism risks forming a new niche of identity politics given its inability to recognise class as central to contemporary life and its concomitant nexus to race and sex.

The 2016 presidential election has indeed been historic. If all the Hillary campaign was capable of offering the masses at the end of the day was symbolic value, it was therefore necessary to reconfigure the election as a contest of symbols, each candidate representing a set of values. Yet these values were anchored in identity divorced from political economy, which turned the Hillary campaign’s omission into the Trump campaign’s relevance. The discourse of this election demonstrates that, under late capitalism, representative democracy is in crisis: when “politics” is administrative assent to a neoliberal end-of-history consensus, identity becomes the primary ground of contestation, substantially transforming the previous meaning of political representation.

Ultimately, the election result has demonstrated that the majority of women have found the liberal feminist program of self-empowerment wanting. Lesser-evilism won the day, not positive support. We were sold a fabricated choice: between the Clinton campaign’s individualist ethos and false political narrative that warned of the horror show of trauma that would befall women if they didn’t vote for her, and the Trump campaign that catalysed the masses through misogynist and racist rhetoric—while also paying some attention to working class concerns. Criticism is forbidden. Left-liberal rhetoric instead implores us to trust the science of intersections stating that the white female establishment politician knows best and any opposition are just unenlightened pussy-grabbing fascists. The feminist fight for liberation has been sidelined into pussy politics.

Julian Vigo is a scholar, film-maker and human rights consultant. She can be reached at: julian.vigo@gmail.com.  Jasmine Curcio is a materialist feminist writer and activist living in Melbourne, Australia. 

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Many Americans Should Un-Stupid Themselves

By Joel S. Hirschhorn | Dissident Voice | November 18, 2016

To be upfront, I strongly believe that President Trump is exactly what the USA desperately needs at this time, a disrupter. I say this as someone who worked in the political world for over 20 years, is white, highly educated, old and affluent. I ask all who have negative views of Trump to open their minds and consider my arguments.

In September 2015 I published an article in which I said: “Trump surely has more current and potential supporters than the media and political establishment can accept. Unlike Trump, they have no imagination. The Donald, to his credit, is really on to something Great. I hope that many more Americans recognize that he is exactly what the nation needs. Stick that middle finger up at all the chronic liars that have sold out the vast majority of Americans.” More than a year before the election I was correct.

The most fascinating post-election fact I have seen is that Trump prevailed with voters making $100,000 or more a year. Second was that Trump won 53 percent of white women. Would you have ever predicted these from what you heard from the mainstream media?

The craziest moment I had was watching President Obama very close to the election support voting by illegal immigrants.

During the campaign I was appalled at the insane pro-Clinton bias among the corporate media; it made me nauseous and caused me to greatly reduce my watching of CNN and MSNBC and all three major television networks.

Not only were most Trump supporters not deplorable, they were not racist, sexist or stupid. But the media, Democrats and establishment Republicans tried to make them feel like they were.

When 70 percent of the nation consistently says that the country is on the wrong track there is enormous pent up demand for change. Did anyone really think Clinton was a change agent? The media dismissed the significance of the demand for change. When you thirst for change you are willing to ignore a lot of negatives of a change candidate. The media and Clinton were just the opposite; they were status quo supporters.

And now what amazes me is that all these media companies have not fired the many, many pro-Clinton anchors, pundits, columnists and reporters. Days after the election all these people who got nearly everything wrong about this election are still appearing in the same venues. A great many columnists, editors and reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post and countless personalities at CNN and MSNBC should be fired. Not solely because they were wrong, but because they showed themselves to lack any journalistic integrity. That means you Wolf Blitzer.

Even more sickening are the countless Democrat politicians and hacks who refuse to accept full responsibility for all the idiotic and disrespectful things they did that caused their terrible candidate to appropriately lose the election. The clearest sign of Democrat stupidity and delusion is the constant garbage bragging that Clinton got more votes than Trump. Why is this so repulsive? Because presidential campaigns are devised and operated on the basis of the Electoral College system that constitutionally determines the victor. This means that a winning campaign must focus on specific states rather than on states with the largest populations. In other words, Clinton’s larger national popular vote total is irrelevant and meaningless. Moreover, millions of illegal immigrants may have voted for Clinton. Clinton herself has clearly refused to accept personal responsibility for her loss. This makes all of us who intensely opposed her feeling justified as well as even more thrilled with her loss.

What the biased media apparently also has not learned is their behavior helped the Trump victory. Why? Because it pissed off many millions of Americans. Sure, politicians lie a lot, including Trump and Clinton. But to constantly see and hear nearly all media outlets distort and lie about the pros and cons of both major candidates irritated rational, smart Americans who supported Trump for valid reasons having nothing to do with racism and other negative characterization.

The media has done of terrible job of properly informing Americans about the true nature of globalization that is pushed by corporate interests. There are two main dimensions. One is the advocacy for international trade agreements that have already sold out middle class Americans by exporting good jobs in manufacturing. The availability of cheaper goods does not outweigh the incredible costs and pain for a large segment of the American population. There has been a transfer of American wealth to countries such as China, but that wealth has been robbed from the middle class, not the upper wealthy and corporate class that has increased their wealth because of trade.

The other side of globalization is the escalating movement of non-white people from terrible situations and countries to white-majority countries. This too has been pushed by corporate interests seeking low cost labor. Both legal and illegal immigrants have been changing the culture and economy of white-majority democracies. What I greatly resent is that Americans have never been given a clear political choice to vote for changing their beloved white-majority country to a very different kind of country. Neither Obama or Clinton or any other politicians clearly told the American public that their long-term objective was to convert the white-majority nation to something very different. Of course Clinton was pretty clear that her campaign was based on getting the votes of blacks and Hispanics, which, in the end, she failed at. This – I strongly say – is not about racism; it is about the right of a majority population to maintain a major characteristic of their nation and culture. None of the historic waves of immigration in previous centuries did what the current kind and scope of immigration is doing to the fundamental character of the USA. It has been imposed upon the white-majority population in a fundamentally undemocratic way. Americans were never given a chance to vote on this change, except to vote for someone like Clinton who never honestly said what she wanted. So white Americans saw the truth this time and acted on their beliefs and fears.

Here is the truth of contemporary nationalism: Any national majority has a democratic right of self-determination to use their political system to reject immigration that threatens to change that majority, whether that majority is based on race, religion, culture or language. Political leaders that use humanitarian arguments to ignore majority resistance to immigration face defeat such as Hillary Clinton’s loss.

Thus the Trump victory is consistent with what is going on in other democracies, namely a rejection of elitist, establishment, corporate driven systems pushing globalization and intense immigration. So called right wing populist movements reflect a rejection of globalization priorities. Not only is this not about racism, it is also not about isolationism. It is about self-determination of majority populations. Swedes have a right to keep their white culture, the French have a similar right and so do Americans. It is not racist to see connections between fast, massive immigration and threats from terrorism and crime.

Give Trump time to show that he can actually help make America great again. If you did not see the true realities that produced the Trump victory, then un-stupid yourself.

The most stupid thing you can do right now is to ignore the several core serious messages of Trump that resonated so much with so many Americans because for one reason or another you hate the messenger.


Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

The Brits Have Their War Dead, We Have Bobby Sands

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch | November 18, 2016

Dublin – Last Sunday Britain remembered yet again its soldiers which were “killed in past and present” wars. This annual British event – Remembrance Sunday – is their annual “fuck you” to the world. It basically is a defence of the British Empire and the willing executioners it sent out to the four corners of the world. It’s insensitivity towards the peoples Britain conquered and condemned is so breathtaking that it begs a bloody response.

And when Britain’s role in the 21st century Arab slaughter is taken into account – the sight of Britain’s military shamelessly looking for respect is nothing less than the sabotage of morality. It makes a mockery of international solidarity and international equality. It is not a nation remembering but a nation defecating – defecating on the universal rights of men and women everywhere. It is a pure crime parading as pure innocence.

Britain’s ruling class was profoundly embarrassed by Brexit. Ever since the vote to “leave” Europe – this establishment has been at pains to express its love for Europe and the globe. Yet every year this social class recalls with pride the British rape of the world. Indeed this ruling class has steadfastly refused to apologise for its historical and contemporary acts – choosing instead to institutionalise its rapaciousness. Brexit may be an embarrassment for this class – but not war. On the contrary – war is policy – a perennial policy.

Just how long has war been British policy? Since it’s unification in 1707 Britain has been at war more or less nonstop somewhere in the world. From the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13) to the destruction of Libya and Syria (2011-16) the British have been in the business of killing foreigners. In a light hearted book All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Around To (2013) the writer Stuart Laycock concludes that Britain has invaded 90% of the world’s countries. That is: out of nearly 200 countries – only 22 have escaped British terror. However being light hearted about this will not stop the killing machine.

In contrast the writer Richard Gott in his book Britain’s Empire (2011) looks very closely at this trail of blood and guts. For him it is not a joke for Brits to laugh at. But is a problem to deal with. And overcome. He looks for the victims of British terror and their resistance to British rule so as to gain a liberating view of the past and therefore of the present. Once the revolt and resistance is included and embraced – an alternative to Empire becomes possible. By seeing Britain clearly and by rising up against it – Britain’s victims gave and give birth to a better world. This is one of the great stories – if not the greatest story – of the modern world. One that we cling to today in the face of a resurgent Empire.

In a revealing remark Gott claims that this global struggle against British violence can be summed up in one story – that of Ireland.

“No colony in their Empire gave the British more trouble than the island of Ireland. No subject people proved more rebellious than the Irish. From misty start to unending finish, Irish revolt against colonial rule has been the leitmotif that runs through the entire history of Empire, causing problems in Ireland, in England itself, and in the most distant corners of the British globe.”

And if this is so – we contend that this Gaelic/Global rebellion against Britain is embodied in the life of one Irishman: Bobby Sands. If Ireland is the cutting edge of freedom from Britain everywhere – then Bobby Sands is the diamond that cuts deeply into the rock of British rule everywhere.

Born in Belfast in 1954 and dead 27 years later – Sands lit up the world from inside a British dungeon. He died because he refused to be broken by Britain. He died because he had more integrity and courage than Britain’s entire military history. He died because he rejected the criminalisation of resistance – resistance to Empire. He died with nine other Irish men on hunger strike. Sands was not only the leader of the striking prisoners – he was the leader at that moment of the entire global fight against injustice. From inside a prison cell he touched the four corners of the world.

Not only was Bobby Sands a leader in the political revolution – he was also a leader in the cultural revolution. His lust for freedom was not just a material thing. It was also a mental thought. One he put into words: words that fit perfectly into the art of Che and Mao. In his Writings from Prison (1997) he sings to us as he deconstructs the British gulag. Without needing to break down the walls that imprisoned him – he walked free. And in that cultural sense (indeed in every sense) he was freer than and greater than any of the mercenaries and sepoys that have died for Britain. Fidel Castro said Bobby Sands was more valuable than Jesus Christ. And he was right.

We remember the working class hero from Belfast – the IRA volunteer – who will always be an example for the world. In Bobby’s words:

“I was a skeleton compared to what I used to be but it didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered except remaining unbroken. I rolled over once again, the cold biting at me. They have nothing in their entire imperial arsenal to break the spirit of one single Republican political prisoner-of-war who refuses to be broken, I thought, and that was very true. They can not or never will break our spirit. I rolled over again freezing and the snow came in the window on top of my blankets.

“Tiocfaidh ár lá,” I said to myself. “Tiocfaidh ár lá.”

“Tiocfaidh ár lá” means in English “Our day will come”.

Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Michael Flynn named Trump’s next national security adviser – source

RT | November 18, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has named retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his new national security adviser, according to a close source. The former DIA chief has been criticized in US circles for refusing to take an anti-Russian stance.

The 57-year-old three-star general, who once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is considered a controversial figure in US circles for a number of reasons. In May, he claimed in an Al Jazeera interview that the rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, including the emergence of Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, was not the result of chance or ignorance – but of calculated thinking.

General Flynn dismissed Al Jazeera’s suggestion that the Obama administration had simply overlooked the DIA’s analysis, instead arguing that the government had “turned a blind eye” on his agency on purpose.“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” the former DIA chief said, referring to a highly-contentious 2012 DIA memo.

The Pentagon veteran, who was a key figure in the Bush administration’s War on Terror, also lambasted Washington for criticizing Russia’s plans to fight Islamic State in Syria. Flynn told RT in October that he strongly believes that “Russia and the United States working together and trying to work with the other partners that we all have in this region can come up with some other solutions.”

“We have to understand as Americans that Russia also has foreign policy; Russia also has a national security strategy. And I think that we failed to understand what that is,” said the former DIA chief.

Flynn was heavily criticized for taking this position. In a Washington Post interview, Dana Priest tried to portray him as a supporter of Russia, and therefore the antithesis of everything Washington stands for. The interviewer grilled Flynn about a trip he had taken to Moscow, when he was among the speakers and panel guests at an RT conference celebrating its first 10 years on air, and met with President Vladimir Putin. When Priest questioned Flynn about his opinion of RT, the general replied that he didn’t see a difference between the work of RT and US news networks like MSNBC and CNN.

In US circles, the Pentagon veteran is seen by some as representing the legacy of firebrand former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. As the former commander of special ops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is considered to be “one of the most influential figures in the dramatic post-9/11 expansion of the role of US Special Operations forces globally,” the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill wrote in September.

Appointment to the post of national security adviser does not require confirmation by the Senate, and the choice of the former DIA chief was merely a rumor until it was confirmed on November 18 by NBC, which spoke to an official close to the transition.

Flynn will be replacing Susan Rice, and is considered to be part of Donald Trump’s cabinet reshuffle that aims to reflect a tougher stance toward both friends and rivals. Flynn was DIA chief in 2012-2014, but reportedly left early due to clashes with senior Obama officials. He is also known for proposing an overhaul of the DIA that was met with opposition.

The controversial figure and Trump loyalist is perhaps best known to the American public for making incendiary remarks about Islam in past tweets, such as the one claiming that it is “rational” to fear Muslims.

There continues to be anxiety about what the new US president will do on a whole series of issues, including, but not limited to, Syria, Iran, and Russia. Trump is expected to make his first international appearance at this summer’s G20 and NATO summits.

Read more:

US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was ‘a willful Washington decision’

Moscow’s red lines were crossed – ex US intel chief on Russian military op in Syria

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Couldn’t prove Iraq war crimes: German court rejects US Army deserter’s asylum application

RT | November 18, 2016

A Munich court has rejected a US soldier’s plea for asylum six years after his application was filed. The soldier deserted his post in southern Germany after being ordered to return to Iraq, where he feared he would be forced to take part in war crimes.

Andre Shepherd, 39, deserted his post at Katterbach Kaserne military base in southern Germany in 2007 after being told he would have to return to Iraq for a second tour. He claims he felt that he would be forced to take part in what he called “war crimes” if he did.

However, that excuse failed to hold up in court and the case was dismissed on Thursday, with presiding Judge Josef Ruber ruling that Shepherd had failed to exercise all available options to leave the military before deserting, making no attempt to join another military unit.

Ruber also said that Shepherd – who served as an Apache helicopter mechanic for the US Army – was unable to prove that he would have been forced to commit war crimes on returning to Iraq, Deutsche Welle reported.

The ruling is the latest in what has become a drawn out case for Shepherd, who initially filed his asylum application in 2008. His original plea was denied by the Federal Ministry for Refugees in 2011, prompting the former soldier to file an appeal under a European directive that protects military deserters who have witnessed human rights violations in combat and consequently fear persecution.

That appeal was taken to the European Court of Justice, which last year remanded the case back to the German court, which ultimately ruled against Shepherd on Thursday.

Shepherd’s lawyer plans to appeal the latest verdict, according to DPA news agency.

In a statement to AP, the US Army in Europe said it was aware of Shepherd’s case, but was not seeking to take part in any legal proceedings.

“We do not, as a general policy, proactively pursue deserters,” the statement said. “However, should Shepherd be returned to US Army custody, his case would be handled as would every other deserter returned to US custody, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and on its own merit.”

Shepherd maintains the right to remain in Germany despite the Thursday ruling, as his wife is German.

The 39-year-old is the first Iraq War veteran to pursue refugee status in Germany, and only the second US soldier to ever have done so in the European country.

Shepherd claims that American forces have done “anything that anyone can possibly imagine in terms of war crimes committed in world history,” telling RT in 2011 that they were “continuing to do this on a daily basis.”

“The soldiers were being attacked, but they didn’t know from where, so they just shot randomly in different directions,” Shepherd said, recalling his Iraq experience.

Even being a helicopter mechanic in Iraq was troubling his conscience.

“I am sitting here and thinking: What am I doing? I’m putting together a lethal machine that is just killing innocent people,” Shepherd was quoted as saying in 2009.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment