Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Democratic Demagogues and ‘The Better Deal’

By James Petras • Unz Review • August 9, 2017

Introduction

After 6 months of blaming Russia for the Democratic Party’s Presidential election debacle, the Party stalwarts have finally realized that the American electorate is not listening.

Democratic Party investigators in Washington still hold hearings and the mass media are still scandal mongering, but the public is not rallying to their cause.

Trump’s demagogy may have lost its appeal, while the Republican Administration purges and internecine squabbles have been met with a huge collective yawn by the public. The Democratic Party proves itself to be a weird sideshow for the vast majority of American voters… and for good reason.

Their perpetual (corrupt and senile) leaders are unwavering supporters of every indignity and economic hardship that the majority of worker families have suffered for the last three decades.

Democratic Party Senator Chuck ‘the Schmuck’ Schumer and Congresswomen Nancy ‘The Loser’ Pelosi have spent a collective sixty-five years in Congress. Their joint tenure marks a period of long decline in working class living standards and even worker life expectancy, while they have made possible the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% plutocrats.

The Democratic Party’s ‘Better Deal’ – But for Whom?

In July 2017, nearly a dozen of the top Democratic Party honchos and Congress people met to spin out a new electoral manifesto for American workers which they are marketing as ‘A Better Deal’.

They issued prophetic press releases claiming to have received (presumably from the Holy Mountain) ‘a new vision of the party’. They claimed ‘the vision’ was also the result of their humble ‘listening to the American people’. They confessed that ‘the American people deserve better’. But their sweetly harmonized collective ‘Mea Culpa’ omitted any mention of the four previous Democratic Party Presidential terms, under Bill ‘The Shill’ Clinton and Barak ‘The Con” Obama, which ushered in this deplorable state of affairs for the American working class.

The Democratic Party’s ‘new vision’ wallows in the muddy demagogic footsteps of ‘The Donald’ Trump: Their new ‘product’ is just ‘demagogy lite’.

Tossing electoral fodder to the multitude, they have trotted out three ‘new promises’: 1. cheaper drug prices, 2. the regulation of ‘monopolies’ and 3. more funds to retrain workers. Their new marketing campaign does not include even a tiny whisper about a single payer national health system (favored by the majority of the public and by tens of thousands of doctors and nurses). Their cheap shots on ‘drug prices’ does not mention how Obama and Clinton facilitated the Big Pharma’s pillage of the public for decades. They mention ‘monopolies’ but made no attack on Wall Street billionaires. Their ‘job re-training’ promises have no provision for any national public employment program. The ‘Better Dealers’ with their ‘New Vision’ have banished all mention of ‘trade unions’.

The minimalist program of these old hack Democrats, re-packaged as the ‘Better Deal’, will not attract American workers for several clear reasons:

Reason #1: The Democrats Have a Rotten Record

For the majority of the American electorate there is no reason to believe or trust the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate. The leading Senate Democrat is New York’s ‘Chuck, the Schmuck’ Schumer, best known for his three decade residence in the pockets of Wall Street, his open loyalty to the dictates of Tel Aviv and his cozy relationship with the Brighton Beach mafia.

Schumer promoted the ‘trillion-dollar tax-payer bailout’ of Wall Street while foreclosing on 2 million household mortgages. He consistently defended AIPAC officials caught spying for Israel and has led the Zionist attack against the UN whenever questions of Israel’s war crimes and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people arise. He led the Senatorial Pack of wolves into destroying Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. He has now turned his tribal ire against his ‘fellow’ American citizens, leading the Senate campaign to make criticism of Israel by boycotting Israeli products punishable by a fine of $1 million dollars and 20 years in Federal Prison. Huge numbers of law-abiding Americans who support the BDS movement for justice and international law will now be targeted with felony convictions and loss of their civil rights by the Israel Anti-Boycott Law (S720). That Senator Schumer would condemn thousands of his own compatriots to virtual life imprisonment for the ‘crime’ of exercising their First Amendment Right of Free Speech speaks volumes about his respect for the Constitution. This thug has brow-beaten scores of his fellow representatives in Washington to support this tyrannical legislation by threatening them with the career-ending accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ if they waver in their fealty to the war criminals in Israel.

Throughout his political career, Senator Schumer consistently supported Federal Reserve free marketer Alan Greenspan, whose wholesale deregulation of the banks and finance sector led directly to the financial crash of 2008.

Geographically closer to Senator Chuck than Tel Aviv are the factory towns, green hills and valleys of Upstate New York where his forgotten constituents have suffered from decades of de-industrialization, 30% de-population and a raging socio-economic crisis of which the opioid epidemic is only part. Meanwhile, the warmonger Schumer prefers to rant for war against North Korea demanding Trump impose trade sanctions on China. If Beijing finally decides to tell Netanyahu how ‘the Shumck’s’ sanction bombast would harm Israel’s lucrative trade with China, a gentle whisper from Tel Aviv would silence Schumer’s bluster.

Peering over his bifocals, ‘Commandante Schumer’ now claims to lead the “The People’s Resistance against Trump”. While his party activists vent against the ‘Trump and the deplorables’ over the internet, Chuck will be attending the Bar Mitzvahs of Brighten Beach mobsters at the Waldorf Astoria and soirees with his Wall Street billionaire backers, consulting over strategy with his real constituents. Under Schumer, New York City has become the most socially and economically polarized and unequal city in the US.

Most voters know that Schumer’s ‘reincarnation’ as a ‘resistance politico’ is laughable and that the Senator’s re-election rests comfortably with the multi-million dollar contributions from his brothers on Wall Street.

Across the nation, most working class voters have dismissed the antics of the Democratic Party’s ‘Maestro of Demagogy’, Bernie Sanders – who spoke pious piffle to the workers while running errands for the ‘Queen of Chaos’, Hilary Clinton, would-be President and life-long Wall Street warmonger.

The citizens rightly reject the Presidential and Senatorial demagogues, Trump and ‘The Schmuck’. According to a recent Bloomberg Poll, 58% of Americans disapprove of the Democrats, a few points lower than the Republicans level of disapproval. An ABC /Washington Post poll revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that the Democratic Party stands for something!

Nine months after the Clinton debacle, the Democrats remain at or below their dismal voter-approval. Trump has skillfully managed to sink a few points below the Democrats.

In other words, nearly 60% of the voters disapprove of leaders from both parties.

The ‘anti-Trump circus and road show’ increasingly takes place to an empty audience. Their “fight” for ‘transgender rights’ attracts the 1% while studiously ignoring the basic life supporting interests of the seventy million Americans (including both transgendered and straight) who work at lousy part-time contingent and minimum wage jobs and desperately need full-time employment at living wages.

In multiple national polls, one hundred and fifty million Americans have registered their support for a national, single payer health system to insure fairness and access to competent medical care. Instead the ‘newly visioned’ Democrats are merely offering cheaper opioids for their social pain. The people want billions of dollars in public investment for deteriorating schools and infrastructures, not bi-partisan (sic) expansion in military spending for seven ongoing wars and new wars in the making.

Warmongers are not Vote-getters

The high level of voter disapproval against the Democrats results from ultra-militarism, as well as their demands for provocative economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Palestine and China – exceeding Trump and his warmongers.

The voters know that the Democrats ‘new vision’ is a thinly veiled recipe for costly new wars and economic sanctions that will spill their children’s blood, cripple their families futures and reduce job opportunities everywhere for everyone.

New Candidates, Grass-roots Movements and the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party’s fiasco and their election losses, as well as the growing realization that the socio-economic demands of the American people are never going to be addressed by the ‘old-new visionaries’, have led to a new ‘crop’ of candidates for the 2018 elections.

Over 200 Democratic Party candidates have registered to run in 2018 elections, hoping that ‘new faces’ and a new style of demagogy will bring back the disenchanted voters. These much-ballyhooed ‘upstarts’ toss out empty promises to the victims of the dying economy, industrial towns in ruins, villages with social and health crises, big cities with skyrocketing rents and stagnant wages. They offer nothing that can bring workers back to a Democratic Party still tightly controlled by the Tel Aviv-Wall Street shilling, war-mongering Pelosis and Schumers.

The Democratic Party ‘insurgents’ try to imitate the ‘Bernie’ Sanders double-speak, attacking the billionaires while shilling for the oligarchs’ stable of loyal Democratic Party hacks. The ‘new vision’ Democrats have motes in both eyes and a long road to regaining the votes of the disillusioned ‘deplorables’!

Media-sponsored trips to Rust Belt States to bad-mouth ‘The Donald’ and his anti-health agenda provides no alternative to the decades of Democratic Party betrayal on health care, especially during the last Democrat Presidents whose policies facilitated the rise of Big Pharma’s prescription opioid epidemic which has killed over 500,000 overworked and underpaid workers since 1999. Their continued refusal to hold these policies and their authors to account does not reflect any vision of a viable solution to the crisis.

Conclusion

In place of the discredited bipartisan electoral system, numerous grass roots groups are emerging: Some are operating parallel to the flurry of new Demo-demagogues while many are working against it.

Many community-based groups have taken radical positions, which demand vast new job programs and public finance for a national, accountable, high quality health care system.

They demand prosecution and long prison sentences for Wall Street swindlers, money launderers, tax evaders and corporate drug pushers.

They demand a 90% tax rate ‘adjustment’ on the trillion dollar corporations- Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google etc.

The grass roots movements are more than just an ‘anti-Trump’ bandwagon (secretly driven by the old pols of the Democratic Party): They are against both parties and all demagogues. They are especially opposed to any phony ‘Better Deals’ coming out of the backsides of the billionaire-backed ‘shilling and dealing’ Democrats!

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Monsanto knew of grave health risks from toxic PCB chemicals it sold for years before ban, docs say

RT | August 9, 2017

Monsanto used toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs in the production of everyday appliances such as TVs, fridges and plastics for at least eight years after discovering the harm they did, newly-compiled archives claim to prove.

From the 1930s, and until the end of their distribution in 1977, Monsanto was the dominant US producer of the chemicals.

Now a trove of 20,000 documents, dubbed the “Poison Papers,” gathered from regulators, lawsuits and archives by campaigners and scientists, claims that the Missouri-headquartered company openly discussed the environmental and health impact of PCBs.

“If authentic, these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact. They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit,” Bill Sherman, the assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, which is suing the company, told the Guardian.

Several cities in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle, and multiple municipalities in California, such as San Diego and San Jose, are also currently pursuing legal action against Monsanto.

As far back as 1969, an internal policy document admitted “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” and stated that “evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”

The non-biodegradable nature of PCBs, which are still found both in water and in soil worldwide, has since turned out to be one of its most serious legacies.

“Direct lawsuits are possible… because customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor do our labels carry this information,” read the assessment. At the end of the document, the author provides Monsanto with three solutions: Do Nothing (“poor customer relations” and “potential loss of business”), Discontinue Manufacture (“not that simple”) and presumably the option the company chose: Respond responsibly by phasing out the product (“maximizing the corporate image by publicizing this fact”).

“At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety,” said Sherman.

Notably, the company admitted in its internal documents that PCBs were “highly toxic” to birds, and in 1975 noted that they can have “permanent effects on the human body.”

Yet, it challenged government findings of toxicity, and said in a memo to “let govt prove its case on a case by case basis.”

Monsanto argues that it was an industrial leader in curtailing the use of PCBs – stopping their sale in applications where they could leak in 1972, and discontinuing their retail altogether two years before the 1979 ban.

“More than 40 years ago, the former Monsanto voluntarily stopped production and sale of PCBs prior to any federal requirement to do so,” Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, Scott Partridge, told the Guardian. He stressed though that back then, the product was legal and hence the company “has no liability for pollution caused by those who used or discharged PCBs into the environment.”

Human contact with increasing quantities of PCBs is linked to a host of negative outcomes, from cancers, to neurological damage and sterility. PCBs were responsible for two mass food contamination events, in Japan in 1968 and in Taiwan in 1979, as well as a scandal over an alleged cover-up of a contamination in Belgium in 1999, which is thought to have brought down the incumbent government.

Monsanto, which has been the target of high-profile public protests for decades, is currently besieged by several high-profile class action lawsuits over the carcinogenic properties of its weedkiller Roundup, which has been banned in several European countries, and the lengths to which it purportedly went to manipulate academic, regulatory and media coverage of the glyphosate-based bestseller. The company is awaiting EU approval for its $66 billion takeover by German chemical giant Bayer, which could result in the elimination of the Monsanto brand, which has become synonymous with various controversial industrial practices.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , | Leave a comment

Response to Nation Article on Single Payer: Improved Medicare for All is the Solution

By Margaret Flowers | Health Over Profit for Everyone | August 7, 2017

On August 2, 2017, The Nation published an article by Joshua Holland, “Medicare for All isn’t the Solution for Universal Health Care,” chastising Improved Medicare for All supporters because, in his view, the single payer movement has “failed to grapple with the difficulties of transitioning to a single-payer system.” The article, which doesn’t quote anyone involved in the movement for Improved Medicare for All, begs a response because it shows what liberals opposed to single payer believe. Holland dredges up the same arguments used to keep single payer off the table during the creation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He even dusted off a few that were used to try to stop Medicare from coming into existence in the 1960s. And then he attempts to distract single payer supporters away from supporting Improved Medicare for All and settling for something less, as was done successfully in 2009.

The first error that Holland makes is confusing the term “Medicare for All” as meaning that advocates would simply take the current Medicare system, with both traditional and ‘Advantage’ plans, and expand that. This is why it is important to use the phrase “Improved Medicare for All.” As outlined in HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, the new system would be based on the current Medicare system, which is already national, but it would be a single public plan that is comprehensive in coverage and does not have out-of-pocket costs or caps. It would ban investor-owned facilities and ban private insurers from selling policies that duplicate what the system covers. A single system is the simplest for patients and health professionals because there is one transparent set of rules.

Most people who purchase health insurance have no idea which plan is best for them because nobody can anticipate what their healthcare needs will be in the future. A study of the Massachusetts health exchange plans done by the Center for American Progress showed that some plans were best for patients with cancer and other plans were best for people with heart disease or diabetes, but that isn’t something that can be advertised up front. Even if it were, people can’t predict if they will be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or diabetes in the future. HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act solves this problem by creating a single public plan designed to cover whatever our healthcare needs will be.

 

A second error that Holland makes is saying that HR 676 calls for the new system to start within a single year. The bill will take effect “on the first day of the first year that begins more than [emphasis added]1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.” This means that if HR 676 were to be signed by the President in July of 2018, then it would take effect in January of 2020. Holland raises the concern that we can’t move the whole country into the new Improved Medicare for All system that quickly. In fact, HR 676 has transition periods for the Veteran’s Administration, the Indian Health Service, displaced workers and buying out for-profit health providers.

When Medicare was enacted in 1965, more than 50% of seniors were uninsured and the rest had some form of health insurance. Without computers and without a national health system in place, all 19 million seniors were enrolled in the first year (almost twice as many as were enrolled in the ACA in the first four years). At present, the United States has Medicare infrastructure in place and all practicing health professionals have a National Provider Identifier issued to them by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). When the new Improved Medicare for All system takes effect, enrollment will be very simple because there is only one plan that is universal and paid for up front though taxes. All health professionals will be in it. Every person could be sent a card, much as CMS does now for people who are turning 65. For those who do not receive a card, HR 676 has a solution – when they present for care at a health facility, they are assumed to be in the system, are treated first and then are enrolled in the system afterwards.

Next, Holland brings up the same arguments used to prevent universal health care attempts in the past. He states that people don’t want to give up what they have. This is called ‘loss aversion.’ It is a task of the single payer movement to build the public support for Improved Medicare for All necessary to overcome any potential loss aversion. Public figures and elected officials can play a role in building support as well.

Holland raises concerns that employers and seniors won’t want to give up their private plans, but that is based on his mistaken belief that Improved Medicare for All will be the same as current Medicare. The reality is that people will be less worried about giving up what they have if they know that it will be replaced with something better and that they will no longer fear losing their doctor as they will all be in the new system. Improved Medicare for All will provide more comprehensive benefits, no out-of-pocket costs and an unrestricted network of health professionals from which to choose. Employers will no longer be burdened with the high costs of health insurance. People with pre-existing health conditions will no longer worry about losing coverage or having to pay more. Unions and employers can offer supplemental plans for extras not covered by the new system, as is done in countries like France, if they choose to do so.

Holland also raises the concern that people will lose their doctor because they will opt out of the system due to low reimbursements. We are already losing doctors because of the current system. Physician burnout was listed as the second biggest concern by the Surgeon General last year. Under Improved Medicare for All, all health professionals will be in the system. There won’t be any place to opt out to. And why would they want to? Health professionals will save tens of thousands of dollars each year on billing and won’t have to worry about whether a patient has insurance or not. They can see anyone who calls for an appointment. And they will have a system with which to negotiate fair reimbursement. Private health insurance doesn’t negotiate with physicians and hospitals. Each year they make an offer and providers can either basically take it or leave it. Doctors in single payer systems that spend much less per capita than the United States are paid well, so the US can certainly afford to reimburse doctors adequately.

Every transformative change has suffered from loss aversion, but that hasn’t stopped them. When Medicare was enacted, it was called socialized medicine, a government intrusion that would take away people’s choices and freedom and become an opening to government control over our lives. The scare tactics didn’t work and Medicare is one of the most popular parts of our current healthcare system. Desegregation, women’s rights, workers’ rights and more were great changes that were successful and we are a better society for them. Why is the right to health care any different?

Finally, Holland dives into the myth that we can’t afford Improved Medicare for All because it will be too expensive. My first response when I hear this is that the same excuse wasn’t made when we spent $16 trillion to bail out the banks in 2008 and is never made when we invade another country, so why is it raised when it comes to one of the most basic necessities a society can have? The United States has the highest wealth and the highest wealth inequality of industrialized nations. The new “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index” recommends social spending on education, health and other basic social protections as its top priority. Congress can appropriate the funds to do this. This should be a top priority in the United States as well.

The reality is that the United States is already spending the most on health care per person each year because the market has failed to control costs. That is exactly why we need a single payer system like National Improved Medicare for All. It is the only way to simplify the bloated bureaucracy of the current healthcare system, which would save around $500 billion each year, and to control the costs of medical procedures, medical devices and pharmaceuticals by having a single system that can negotiate fair prices. In addition to the bureaucracy created by a multi-payer system, the US subsidized the insurance industry with more than $300 billion last year. A system based on health, rather than profits for investors, can identify and prioritize our greatest health needs and work to address them.

For example, the US is failing when it comes to care for people with chronic diseases. There are numerous reasons why this is occurring – lack of access to consistent care, inability to afford medications, insufficient time for health education when patients see a health professional, cheap and highly processed food, environmental pollutants and more. An actual health system could take meaningful action to address these issues, and keep people healthier. Think about it: people with high blood pressure or diabetes in the US may not be able to see the doctor regularly or stay on their medicines due to cost, but when they suffer a stroke or kidney failure, and need long term care or dialysis, then they can receive disability benefits and Medicare. How much better and less expensive would it be for everyone to prevent strokes and kidney failure in the first place?

Just as many ‘progressive’ groups did during the health reform process that resulted in the ACA, Holland works to convince us that we don’t need a single payer system, and that we can work with the current system. Once again, Jacob Hacker, a leading advocate for the ACA and single payer opponent, is invoked and we are told that we can add a Medicare buy-in or another form of a public option. We are told that other countries use private insurance, so why can’t we? The Democrats, beholden to the medical industrial complex, want us to believe these false non-solutions that protect the insurance industry. It feels like 2009 all over again.

Rather than go through all of the reasons why these approaches will fail, I urge you to read articles on that topic posted on HealthOverProfit.org (Click here for a list of them). Instead, I refer to a saying used by my now-deceased mentor Dr. Quentin Young: “You can’t cross an abyss in two jumps.” The only way we can get to a universal single payer healthcare system in the United States is by creating a universal single payer healthcare system in the United States. Anything less than that will fail because it will not achieve the savings on administration and prices needed to cover everyone and it will not compete with the powerful private insurance industry.

Throughout time, every great social movement has been told that it was asking for too much. Advocates for worker’s rights, women’s rights, civil rights, etc., were labelled as unreasonable radicals wishing for some pie-in-the-sky change that can’t be achieved. Holland is doing the same to the single payer movement. Don’t fall for it. We have the resources in the US to have one of the top healthcare systems in the world. We have health policy experts who have helped to design excellent systems for other countries. Single payer is a proven solution, unlike the plans being proposed by the Democratic leadership.

One thing that Holland and I do agree on is that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. We could have an excellent national debate about which type of single payer healthcare system we support – a fully socialized system like the Veteran’s Health Administration, a national health service, or a socialized payer with multiple types of providers as in the Expanded and Improved Medicare for all Act. At the basis of our discussion must be the principles that every person in the US deserves high quality health care without financial barriers.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

‘Free trade’ has come to mean powerful interests get whatever they want

By Yves Engler · August 8, 2017

“Free trade” has become a euphemism for “whatever power wants,” no matter how tangentially tied to transferring goods across international borders.

In an extreme example, Ottawa recently said its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Israel trumps Canada’s Food and Drugs Act since accurately labelling two wines might undermine a half-century long, illegal, military occupation.

Of little connection to international trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement — and subsequent FTAs — has granted foreign corporations the ability to bypass domestic courts and sue governments in secret tribunals for pursuing policies that interfere with their profit making. Over 75 cases have been brought before the Investor State Dispute Settlement section of NAFTA, which has resulted in tens of millions of dollars paid to companies impacted by Ottawa banning the export of toxic PCB wastes or the import of suspected neurotoxin gasoline additive MMT.

Strengthening this dynamic, Canada’s “free trade” deal with the European Union (CETA) empowers companies to sue municipalities if they expand public services. For instance, a municipality unhappy with private water delivery could face a suit if they tried to remunicipalize (or de-privatize) this service.

CETA, TPP, WTO and other self-described “free trade” agreements also extend patent and copyright protections (monopolies), which stifle competition, a pillar of free trade ideology. CETA’s increased patent protections are expected to drive up already high Canadian pharmaceutical drug costs by between $850 million and $1.65 billion a year. Negotiations to “modernize NAFTA” could end up granting big pharma perks that would effectively block Canada’s ability to set up universal pharmacare. Similarly, the yet to be signed TPP strengthens patents and would increase the length of copyright in Canada from 50 to 70 years after the death of an author.

It is little exaggeration to say politicians have come to employ the term “free trade” to mean “whatever powerful corporations want.” But, the Trudeau Liberals recently broadened the term’s definition even further. In a move to make “free trade” mean “whatever powerful interests want,” they announced that Canada’s FTA with Israel supercedes this country’s Food and Drugs Act.

After David Kattenburg repeatedly complained about inaccurate labels on two wines sold in Ontario, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notified the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) that it “would not be acceptable and would be considered misleading” to declare Israel as the country of origin for wines produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Quoting from official Canadian policy, CFIA noted that “the government of Canada does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967.”

In response to pressure from the Israeli embassy, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith, CFIA quickly reversed its decision. “We did not fully consider the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement,” a terse CFIA statement explained. “These wines adhere to the Agreement and therefore we can confirm that the products in question can be sold as currently labelled.”

In other words, the government is publicly proclaiming that the FTA trumps Canada’s consumer protections. But, this is little more than a pretext to avoid a conflict with B’nai B’rith, CIJA and Israeli officials, according to Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Trade and Investment Research Project director Scott Sinclair. “This trade-related rationale does not stand up to scrutiny,” Sinclair writes. “The Canadian government, the CFIA and the LCBO are well within their legal and trade treaty rights to insist that products from the occupied territories be clearly labelled as such. There is nothing in the CIFTA [Canada–Israel FTA] that prevents this. The decision to reverse the CFIA’s ruling was political. The whole trade argument is a red herring, simply an excuse to provide cover for the CFIA to backtrack under pressure.”

In another commentary on the government “backtracking under pressure,” Peter Larson points out that CIFTA grants Israel an important concession that seeks to sidestep Canada’s commitments under international law. The agreement says, “unless otherwise specified, ‘territory’ means with respect to Israel the territory where its customs laws are applied,” but omits “in accordance with international law,” which is in many of Canada’s other free trade agreements. This omission seeks to allow goods produced on land occupied in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention and Statute of Rome to benefit from CIFTA.

David Kattenburg and his lawyer Dmitri Lascaris will be challenging CFIA’s decision in court. On Monday they filed an appeal of the wine labelling and released a statement to the media.

The Council of Canadians and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have recently added their voices to those criticizing CFIA’s decision. The NDP’s trade critic has yet to comment.

Kattenburg and Lascaris’ court challenge offers NDP leadership candidates Niki Ashton, Charlie Angus, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh a good opportunity to express their opposition to defining “free trade” as “whatever power wants.”

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Global Deception: “The War on Terror” is a Campaign for Permanent War and Terror

By Mark Taliano | Global Research | August 8, 2017

The “War On Terror”, an outgrowth of the crimes of September 11, 2001[1], was never a war on terror. It has always been a campaign for permanent war and terror. War is terror.

The terrorists in Syria, including al Qaeda[2], are proxies for the West’s dirty war on Syria. They are aided and abetted by illegal sanctions and every tactic used by the West to destroy the country and its institutions. Any action that the West takes against the Syrian Arab Army or the Syrian government aids the terrorists, since the SAA and the Syrian government are the dominant forces fighting the terrorists.

The veil of confusion drops every time the official narratives change. The terrorists who reportedly flew into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were, reportedly, al Qaeda[3]. Al Qaeda is the supposed enemy. But the West supports al Qaeda and all the terrorists in Syria, so whereas al Qaeda is one of humanity’s enemies, al Qaeda is the ally of those who control the levers of power. The enemy consists of the neo-con “power elites” who are orchestrating the terror, the globalized war, and the globalized poverty beneath their public lies and deceptions. The enemy consists of publicly-financed warfare states, like the U.S, and increasingly its allies, which endanger and impoverish humanity for the perceived benefit of the elites and corporate profits.

Whereas the public presumably believes that it is somehow benefiting from the carnage and mass murder, it is actually being fleeced. Gillian Kiley reports that

(as) the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approach, the United States has spent or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on the Department of Homeland Security.[4]

Unfortunately, evidence-based reporting is conspicuously absent from totalitarian corporate messaging that blankets Western populations. Otherwise, the increasingly infantilized public might withdraw its tacit consent for the warmongering.

Corporate monopolies, bailed out and entirely dependent on public monies, are increasingly fused to the military industrial complex, and these monopolies are the governing “power elites”. They determine what we see, hear, and believe.

Syria, like its predecessors Libya and Iraq, was largely free of terrorist infestations before U.S.-led NATO and its allies waged their phony so-called “humanitarian” wars of mass destruction – largely for the benefit of corporate monopolies and imperial hegemony.

But all of this is (hopefully) changing. Despite the fact that that the U.S. continues to spray Syrian civilians with weaponized white phosphorous[5] and pretends that Assad is the bad guy, the days of a U.S./neo-con led unipolar world order may be behind us.

Syria and its allies are defeating imperial terrorism, and in doing so they are strengthening the rule of international law, and humanity’s chances for peace.

Syrians in government-secured areas are celebrating. We should all be celebrating with them.

Notes

[1] Mark Taliano, How To Break the Cycle of Delusions and Crimes. HuffPost 10/04/2014, Accessed August 7, 2017

[2] State Department: Renamed Al-Qaeda Not A Terrorist Organization – Can Receive CIA Supplies. Moon of Alabama, May 15, 2017. Accessed August 7, 2017

[3] David Ray Griffin, Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11? Accessed August 7, 2017.

[4] Gillian Kiley, The Costs of War: US Military Spending on Middle East Wars, Homeland Security Will Reach $4.79 Trillion in 2017. September 15, 2016, Accessed August 7, 2017.

[5] Syria urges UN to assume responsibility, end int’l coalition’s crimes against Syrian people. SANA, July 30, 2017, Accessed August 7, 2017.

Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2017

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Kissinger, Tireless Prophet of Doom

By Diana Johnstone | American Herald Tribune | August 9, 2017

Henry Kissinger, 94, is no longer a policy-maker but his pontificating provides hints as to the thinking of his successors in Washington. In a long August 2 article on CapX, he pontificated on various subjects including the Middle East, where he elaborately missed the point by failing to mention Israel even once.

He seemed worried by the imminent defeat of Isis. “Most non-Isis powers—including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states—agree on the need to destroy it,” he observed. Most, but perhaps not all. Israel’s attitude is ambiguous to say the least, since Isis has served very effectively to wreak chaos in Arab lands, blurring the borders between Iraq and Syria as a step toward the breakup of these Arab nationalist States into small rival entities, leaving Israel as dominant regional power.

Without Isis, then what? “But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran?” It is taken for granted that there can be no restoration of the relatively multi-religious States of Iraq and Syria. The region must be permanently doomed as a battlefield in the religious war between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

For Israeli leaders, watching the two sides kill each other has always offered the consolation of strengthening Israel. But this advantage (unmentioned by Kissinger) would be lost if the war is won by one side or the other. “If the Isis territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.”

One can ask in what way Iranian influence must amount to a “radical empire”, and how this would be worse than the enormous stretch of radical Saudi influence from the Balkans to the Philippines, financed by petrodollars. But the United States cannot let history take its course without attempting to manipulate it. The West (meaning in the case mainly Washington and Tel Aviv) “must decide what outcome is compatible with an emerging world order and how it defines it. It cannot commit to a choice based on religious groupings in the abstract since they are themselves divided. Its support must aim for stability and against whatever grouping most threatens stability.”

What is stability? It is not peace. At best, it could be called “balance of power”. In practice, U.S.-promoted “stability” is a euphemism for “let them keep killing each other and don’t let either side win.” This policy dictated U.S. support for Saddam Hussein’s aggression against Iran, in a long war clearly under the sign of “let them kill each other.” When that slaughter came to an end, the United States rewarded Saddam by bombing and finally invading his country and having him executed.

Another name for the same strategy is “the even playing field”, which was used to justify supporting the Muslim side in Bosnia to prevent the Serbs from prevailing and ending the war on terms essentially the same as those the United States eventually accepted. Meanwhile, thousands died.

As long as the United States pursues “stability” in the Middle East, the mutual slaughter will continue, as Israel looks on, and the U.S. Congress passes resolutions more or less written by AIPAC.

Diana Johnstone is author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (2002), and Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (2016), as well of the introduction and conclusion to her father’s memoir, From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning, by Paul H. Johnstone (Clarity Press, 2017).

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Philippine President Wants North Korea to Become ASEAN Dialogue Partner

Sputnik | August 8, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed on Tuesday his desire to invite North Korea to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“You know, I always wanted to invite you here,” Duterte, who is a also chairperson of ASEAN in 2017, told North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, as quoted by the SunStar media outlet.

The Philippine president added that North Korea “would be a good dialogue partner.”

Ri reportedly thanked Duterte for the initiative.

The statement was made less than a week after Duterte criticized North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

ASEAN has 10 dialogue partners, which are India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and China.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

Brazil’s Slave-Descended Quilombos Shaken by String of Murders

teleSUR – August 8, 2017

Brazilian authorities have revealed that six rural workers were mysteriously murdered in their homes in the lush rural state of Bahia in Brazil Sunday.

The crime, which was only announced Tuesday, is the latest in a wave of killings targeting residents in the disputed Iuna Quilombola Territory that lies in the city of Lencois. The murders bring to eight the number of those killed in disputed lands in Bahia within less than a month.

According to authorities, the victims lived in two neighboring homes — four in one house and two in the other — and were killed by men in an unidentified black vehicle. Each victim was shot four to six times. All were quilombolas — the descendants of Afro-Indigenous Brazilians who escaped from slavery to hinterland settlements known as Quilombos.

The victims have been identified as Adeilton Brito de Souza, Gildasio Bispo das Neves, Amauri Pereira Silva, Valdir Pereira Silva, Marcos Pereira Silva and Cosme Rosario da Conceicao

While state security forces are investigating possible links between the victims and drug traffickers, the crimes have shed light on an ongoing dispute between quilombolas and farmers who want the quilombolas expelled from the region.

In 2010, the Quilombola Territory of Iuna began the process of gaining legal recognition and titles to the land. The roughly 3,500-acre territory is home to 1,400 residents and is in the city of Lencois, a major eco-tourist destination and the starting point for treks into Chapada Diamantina National Park. The park spans a highland region of canyons and waterfalls known for its hiking trails, which were opened by miners searching for diamonds, gold and other precious minerals.

While in theory, Brazil’s 1988 Constitution assures quilombos titles to lands they historically are located on, very few quilombos actually enjoy legal recognition. According to recent data, 303 quilombo territories in Bahia state alone are seeking regularization, but only 34 are in an advanced state of regularization. The state still has no legally-recognized quilombola territories, while 19 territories have been identified as disputed land claimed by third parties.

On July 16, quilombola Lindomar Fernandes Martins was fatally shot six times on a road leading into Iuna. No one was arrested for the crime. The next day — also in Bahia — Jose Raimundo Mota de Souza, Jr., the president of the Association of Rural Workers in the Jiboia Quilombola Community, was shot dead while working in the fields with his brothers and family members.

The Association of Rural Workers’ Advocates and Catholic Church-linked Pastoral Land Commission, as well as the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform — the government agency charged with processing quilombo land claims — have issued messages of solidarity with the victims’ families and urged authorities to investigate and prosecute those involved in Sunday’s killings.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo: Maldonado Victim of ‘State Violence’

teleSUR – August 8, 2017

The Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have blamed the Argentine government for the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, an activist who disappeared after a military police raid on a Mapuche community Aug. 1.

The award-winning human rights group say Maldonado was a victim of “institutional state violence” and demand President Mauricio Macri recovers the activist alive.

“The Argentine community knows we have a disappearance in the democracy of Mr. Macri.” Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, said at a press conference.

The organization said it will occupy the Plaza de Mayo on Friday to pressure the government to deliver Maldonado.

Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies and the Permanent Human Rights Assembly have joined the call to recover Maldonado, claiming the state deliberately disappeared the activist to threaten the Mapuche community.

“This Friday at 5 p.m. we will occupy the Plaza de Mayo with one message: Santiago Maldonado must be found alive.”

“This attack against the community is no coincidence. It is a message from the government to say, ‘guys, don’t mess with us,’” said Norma Rios, president of the Permanent Human Rights Assembly.

Maldonado was last seen during a military police eviction operation against the Pu Lof Mapuche community in the Chubut department of Cushamen. Witnesses say they saw officers shove the 28-year-old into a van and drive away.

Maldonado’s family blame the military police for the young man’s disappearance but the government denies its involvement.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

US accountable for fatal raid on Hashd al-Sha’abi forces: Senior commander

Press TV – August 9, 2017

A commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has held the US-led coalition accountable for a recent deadly attack on its forces near the Syrian border, saying Daesh terrorists could not have been behind the assault as they are not in possession of smart weapons.

On August 7, the PMU’s Sayyad al-Shuhada Brigades said its military base in the al-Tanf region had come under a smart bomb and artillery attack by the US-led coalition, which purports to be fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

More than 30 Iraqi volunteer forces, known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, were killed in the assault.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Meanwhile, US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the US-led forces, rejected the reports as “inaccurate” and denied having conducted air attacks in that area at the time.

However, Karim al-Nouri, a PMU spokesman, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television channel that the attack could not have been conducted by Daesh terrorists since they are not in possession of any smart bombs as the ones that hit the Iraqi base.

He described the attack as intentional, saying it was impossible for the US military to have mistakenly targeted the Iraqi troops.

The US had, prior to the incident, threatened Hashd al-Sha’abi forces in the area and warned them against approaching the Iraq-Syria border, the commander said.

Speaking to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency on Tuesday, Abu Ala al-Wella’ei, who commands the Brigades, said the attack had been followed by a Daesh strike against the Hashd al-Sha’abi forces in the area.

The nature of the assault, he said, indicates a team-up between the US-led coalition and Daesh.

He rejected claims that the US attack could have been carried out by mistake, saying drones perform ceaseless surveillance operations over the area giving the US forces perfect command over the situation.

Al-Wella’ei called Operation Inherent Resolve, the codename for the US-led offensives, a sham, saying the mission was rather providing air cover for Takfiris on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that an initial investigation indicates Daesh had been behind the attack.

“It seems that Daesh carried out a breach using artillery and car bombs,” Abadi said in a televised press conference in Baghdad.

“The international coalition has no authority to carry out bombardment without the knowledge of Iraq,” the premier said.

Hashd al-Sha’abi is a group of Shia and Sunni volunteer fighters that was formed after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014. Back then, it helped strengthen the government forces, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of sweeping Daesh advances.

Hashd al-Sha’abi also played a significant part in the months-long operations, that culminated in the liberation of Mosul, the terror group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, earlier this year.

Last November, the Iraqi parliament recognized Hashd al-Sha’abi as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Nine Years After Georgia-Russia War, ‘NATO Hustle in Caucasus Looks Suspicious’

Sputnik – 08.08.2017

Exactly nine years ago Tbilisi launched the US-backed Operation “Clear Field” against South Ossetia and Abkhazia. While the operation led to the resounding defeat of the Georgian armed forces, it appears that the lesson remained unlearned, Sputnik contributor Alexander Khrolenko notes.

If Georgia, the US, and their allies don’t take into account the interests of Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Caucasus, that’s not going to be good for anyone, Sputnik contributor Alexander Khrolenko points out, recalling that exactly nine years ago Georgia kicked off its Operation “Clear Field” aimed at depriving South Ossetia of its independence and sovereignty and invading Abkhazia.

“On the night of August 8, [2008] Georgian troops attacked the capital of South Ossetia Tskhinval and the positions of Russian peacekeepers with massive artillery shelling (including cluster munitions), followed by the invasion of the South Ossetian territories by Georgian Special forces and tanks,” Khrolenko wrote.

However, Georgia had not launched the invasion on its own — Tbilisi was backed by the US and its allies.

“The invasion was carefully planned and exercised in the course of joint Georgian-American military drills,” the journalist elaborated, “Kiev delivered ‘Buk’ and ‘Tor’ missile defense systems to Tbilisi along with Ukrainian combat crews. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) experts also provided their assistance [to Georgia].”

“In August 2008, the US urgently organized an ‘air bridge’ to transfer arms and ammunition from Jordan to Georgia,” he added.

Furthermore, Washington and NATO spent $2 billion from 2004 to 2008 to train the 20,000-strong Georgian national military contingent, which boosted its skills in Iraq. The alliance worked out a concept of conducting combat operations in mountainous conditions and developed a plan aimed at what they called “restoring the constitutional order” in South Ossetia.

Although the US and Georgia spent a lot of effort in preparing for the invasion of South Ossetia, their plan to create a NATO foothold in the South Caucasus failed.

“Their calculations proved wrong and Georgian troops fled in panic from Tskhinvali to Tbilisi, throwing down their weapons and equipment, from an adversary which was equal in number to [Georgian forces],” the journalist emphasized.

It transpires that the $2 billion was spent in vain, Khrolenko writes, citing the fact that neither the strategic nor the geopolitical goals of the US-Georgian partnership were achieved.

The journalist quoted Svante E. Cornell, a Swedish scholar specializing on politics and security issues in Eurasia, who underscored in his article for The American Interest that “the war in Georgia and the financial crisis were a double whammy that fundamentally altered the balance of power in the Caucasus to the detriment of the West.”

However, it seems that the lesson remained unlearned for Tbilisi, Khrolenko remarked.

“Georgia continues to accuse Russia of ‘infringement’ of sovereignty, persistently strives for NATO membership, and proceeds with its claims for the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, renouncing the principle of non-use of force,” the journalist noted.

On the other hand, Georgian military forces continue to take part in NATO drills on a regular basis.

On July 31, a US Army Europe-led exercise Noble Partner started at the Vaziani military base in Georgia.

“The exercise serves as home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force and includes eight participating nations: Armenia, Georgia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States,” the US Department of Defense official website reads.

Citing US Ambassador Ian Kelly the Pentagon reported that “this year’s exercise seeks to enhance interoperability and readiness by improving the participating nations’ ability to conduct multinational mission command and control and measure the ability to support a multinational operational scenario.”

In addition, the US Congress signaled its willingness in mid-July to mull over Georgia’s membership in the Atlantic military bloc.

It looks rather suspicious, Khrolenko emphasized, adding that by boosting its ties with NATO Tbilisi is seemingly making steps which may shatter the fragile balance of power in the region.

Interestingly enough, almost simultaneously, Europe is considering the issue of creating a refugee center in Georgia. Needless to say, that is likely to further aggravate tensions in the Southern Caucasus.

Alas, “after many years of devotional service to foreign interests, Georgia has not won the respect of its ‘senior partners’,” the journalist wrote, “One way or another, Tbilisi will have to pay for a visa-free regime and its pro-Western policy.”

August 9, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment