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‘Europe is lost’: Barcelona’s chief rabbi urges Jews to move to Israel

RT | August 19, 2017

In the aftermath of this week’s terrorist attacks in Barcelona, the city’s chief rabbi has warned his community that Jews in the region are doomed because of the threat of radical Islam.

At least 14 people were killed and over 100 injured in two separate terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the nearby coastal town of Cambrils. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack on Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

“I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good, and I encourage them to buy property in Israel,” Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen said in an interview with Jewish news agency JTA.

“This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.”

Bar-Hen said the attacks highlighted the presence of a large Muslim community with “radical fringes” in the region, and alleged Spanish authorities are reluctant to confront Islamist terrorism.

The rabbi cited the recent decision to allow Palestinian Leila Khaled to enter Spain for a book festival as apparent evidence of his claim. Khaled was involved in high-profile airplane hijackings in 1969 and 1970.

The rabbi, who was keen to stress that he was speaking in a private capacity and not on behalf of the community, also said this applied more widely to Europe as a whole.

“Europe is lost,” he concluded.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain appear not to share Bar-Hen’s pessimistic outlook. The organization issued a statement Thursday, saying: “Spanish Jews trust the State Security Corps that work daily to prevent radical fanatics and Islamists from sowing chaos and pain in our cities.”

The group also urged politicians to “deal intelligently and determinedly with the struggle against fanaticism and in favor of freedom and democracy.”

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

A Venezuelan Tanker Is Stranded Off The Louisiana Coast

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | August 17, 2017

A tanker loaded with 1 million barrels of Venezuelan heavy crude has been stranded for over a month off the coast of Louisiana, not because it can’t sail but as a result of Venezuela’s imploding economy, and its inability to obtain a bank letter of credit to deliver its expensive cargo. It’s the latest sign of the financial troubles plaguing state-run oil company PDVSA in the aftermath of the latest US sanctions against the Maduro regime, and evidence that banks are slashing exposure to Venezuela across the board as the Latin American nation spirals into chaos.

As Reuters reports, following the recently imposed US sanctions, a large number of banks have closed accounts linked to officials of the OPEC member and have refused to provide correspondent bank services or trade in government bonds. The stranded tanker is one direct casualty of this escalation.

The tanker Karvounis, a Suezmax carrying Venezuelan diluted crude oil, has been anchored at South West Pass off the coast of Louisiana for about a month, according to Marinetraffic data.

For the past 30 days, PBF Energy, the intended recipient of the cargo, has been trying unsuccessfully to find a bank willing to provide a letter of credit to discharge the oil, according to two trading and shipping sources.

The tanker was loaded with oil in late June at the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius where PDVSA rents storage tanks, and has been waiting for authorization to discharge since early July, according to Reuters. It is here that the delivery process was halted as crude sellers request letters of credit from customers that guarantee payment within 30 days after a cargo is delivered.

While the documents must be issued by a bank and received before the parties agree to discharge, this time this is impossible as the correspondent bank has decided to avoid interacting with PDVSA and running afoul of the latest US sanctions. It was not immediately clear which banks have denied letters of credit and if other U.S. refiners are affected.

In an ironic coincidence, these days the state energy company of Venezuela, PDVSA, is almost as much Venezuelan as it is Russian and Chinese. Chinese and Russian entities currently take about 40% of all PDVSA’s exports as repayment for over $60 billion in loans to Venezuela and the company in the last decade, as we reported last year and as Reuters recently updated. This has left U.S. refiners among the few remaining cash buyers. Meanwhile, as a result of these ongoing historical barter deals exchanging oil for refined products and loans, PDVSA’s cash flow has collapsed even as the company’s creditors resort to increasingly more aggressive measures to collect: just this April, a Russian state company took a Venezuelan oil tanker hostage in hopes of recouping $30 million in unpaid debt.

The first indication that the financial noose is tightening on the Caracas regime came earlier this month when Credit Suisse barred operations involving certain Venezuelan bonds and is now requiring that business with President Nicolas Maduro’s government and related entities undergo a reputation risk review. In a while publicized move, this past May Goldman Sachs purchased $2.8 billion of Venezuelan debt bonds at steep discount, a move criticized by the Venezuelan opposition and other banks.

While PDVSA owns the cargo, the actual tanker was chartered by Trafigura:

Since last year, the trading firm has been marketing an increasing volume of Venezuelan oil received from companies such as Russia’s Rosneft, which lift and then resell PDVSA’s barrels to monetize credits extended to Venezuela, according to traders and PDVSA’s internal documents.

Some barrels are offered on the open market, others are supplied to typical PDVSA’s customers including U.S refiners.

Meanwhile, even before this latest sanctions-induced L/C crisis, Venezuela’s oil exports to the US were already in freefall: PDVSA and its JVs exported only 638,325bpd to the US in July, more than a fifth, or 22% less, than the same month of 2016, according to Reuters Trade Flows data.

As for the recipient, PBF received just three cargoes for a total of 1.58 million barrels last month, the lowest figure since February. Other U.S. refineries such as Phillips 66 did not receive any cargo. The US refiner and PDVSA have a long-term supply agreement for Venezuelan oil signed in 2015 when PBF bought the 189,000-bpd Chalmette refinery from PDVSA and ExxonMobil Corp.

Earlier in the month, PBF’s Chalmette refinery received half a million barrels of Venezuelan crude on the tanker Ridgebury Sally B. This second delivery got stuck on tanker Karvounis.

It is likely that soon virtually all Venezuelan cargos bound for the US will share a similar “stranded” fate as one bank after another cease providing L/C backstops to the Venezuelan company, ultimately suffocating Maduro’s regime which is in dire need of dollars to keep the army on its side and prevent a revolution. As for how high the price of oil rises as Venezuela’s oil production is slowly taken offline, it remains to be seen. Three weeks ago, Barclays calculated that a “sharper and longer disruption” to Venezuela oil production could raise oil prices by at least $5-7/barrell. Such a disruption appears to now be forming.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

The Fourth Branch

By Kary Love | CounterPunch | August 18, 2017

I am a lawyer. My pro bono clients are often those who offer nonviolent resistance to wrongs committed by our own government.

I read that, this week past, some nonviolent resisters entered a nuclear weapons storage facility in Germany.

Damn if it is not a list of many of my clients. These people are incorrigible. Next time at sentencing I will argue jail is a waste of time and public money for those sorts; you just cannot deter some people from a life of “crime.”

What a world, in which those acting peaceably for peace are criminals while those in power ordering the killing of people “for their own good” are not.

I still subscribe to law professor Francis Boyle’s view; nuclear weapons and related materiel are not property–property rights attach to legitimate things, not to criminal instrumentalia that have no use but criminal annihilation.

I’ve argued all this a few times with success and many other times not. As to the juries in cases of nonviolent resistance to injustice or in defense of higher laws, I trust them if they are allowed to hear all germane facts.

In one case in which I argued that the nonviolent defendants—who had used hand tools to dismantle a portion of a US nuclear Navy command facility—did not interfere with the defense of the USA because technical experts—whose published work the defendants had read—those defendants were innocent of sabotage charges.

We won this case in great part because of Captain James Bush’s (Ret.) testimony; the members of that jury were fully informed. Bush told the jury of 12 that as he commanded a United States nuclear submarine loaded with ‘city-busting’ weapons that he was also earning a graduate degree in International Relations and that he came to understand that he was in violation of the law every day. Hearing that from a retired commander made quite an impression. The jury rose to the occasion and acquitted, even with a hostile judge.

But it’s degenerating. The recent Espionage Act prosecutions have prevented defendants such Kiriakou et al. from even saying the word “whistleblower.” Reality Winner will be so shackled in her defense.

I have experienced this abuse of the law in nuke protest cases in US federal court–to the point I conclude such trials are Soviet Mock Potemkin Trials (back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR).

In my judgment the jury is the 4th branch of government. The Founders knew power corrupts, and that sooner or later, the Congress, the President and the judges would abandon the Constitution for power and that only fully informed juries could stem the tide of corruption.

The Federal judges who issue orders in limine so jurors do not hear all the evidence (as to both the law and the facts) are complicit in destroying the check and balance the jury must be–as all others involved, i.e., Congress, President, judges, are beholden to the system.

In the case to which I referred above, the State Court Judge had some residual fidelity to the Constitution and we kind of boxed him in to allowing Bush to testify as he did–though I expect the Judge did not think a “military man” would have such a complicated mind, capable of rational thought and a moral code superior to his willingness to “just follow orders.”

Kinda tricky of me, I guess. But my oath is to the Constitution, not Congress, White House, or Judge–all of whom are creatures of the Constitution deserving of no respect nor obedience when they violate same (as is the ordinary course of all branches these days.)

Despite many disappointments, I still have faith in juries of ordinary people when fully informed to make “just” decisions even if necessitating deviation from the law. Thus, government fears the people so long as there is trial by jury.

This is as it should be. A government making unjust laws as ours does ought to fear its ability to convict when justice is not served by conviction. The three branches have become unmoored from being “bound down in the chains of the Constitution”–with the result it is a lawless beast.

Ultimately it will be up to the people: a nation of law, or a nation of beasts? Our “leaders” have no interest in curbing their own abuse of power. As victims of such abuse, the people are responsible, for the sake of their progeny and the future of liberty.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

‘More wars in the pipeline: Bannon exit bodes ill for US aggression opponents’

RT | August 19, 2017

With the firing of anti-globalist Steve Bannon, neo-conservatives and hawks may take complete control of US foreign policy, says investigative journalist Rick Sterling, adding that it’s not a good sign when hawkish Senator John McCain is smiling.

US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon – viewed as a key figure in Team Trump – has left the White House.

After the firing, Bannon, 63, resumed his role as head of conservative website Breitbart News, and announced that he was “going to war” for Trump.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents – on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” he told Bloomberg News Friday.

The departure is just the latest in a series of shake-ups since Trump took office.

What will Bannon’s firing mean for the Trump administration and how it could affect policymaking? RT discussed with investigative journalist Rick Sterling.

“Bannon was an anti-globalist strongly opposed by hawkish senators like John McCain… While liberals and neo-conservatives may be cheering, it may bode ill for those who oppose US aggression and think the US should not be the world’s policeman,” he said.

The now-former White House chief strategist was in favor of a trade war with China and “ratcheting up economic contention,” but he was against conflict with North Korea, Sterling said.

Just a couple of days before his exit, Bannon said in an interview that there is no military solution to the North Korean problem. The comment was rebuffed by both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Bannon’s stance was also in “sharp contrast with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who said that North Korea poses a direct military threat,” Sterling said. “The very dangerous thing right now is that neo-conservatives and the hawks take complete control of US foreign policy… we are going to see a lot more war coming down the pipeline.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) reacted to the decision by saying in a statement: “there is one less white supremacist in the White House.”

Commenting on the matter, Sterling opined that “they’ve manipulated the situation where Breitbart and Steve Bannon were allied with right-wing nationalist forces within the US.”

Ironically, he went on to say, “these forces are much more resistant to US wars of aggression.”

“So, we’ve got key issues coming up now. In the coming period, we’re going to have decisions on whether the US is going to escalate the troop involvement and the intervention in Afghanistan; we’ve got the situation with North Korea; the situation with Syria is coming to a head. Steve Bannon, as an anti-globalist, was arguing against the US escalating military intervention and now the situation seems to be controlled by the generals in the White House, and it’s not a good sign when hawkish Senator John McCain is smiling and very happy,” Sterling said.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | | 13 Comments

Trump is not the problem

By John Andrews | Dissident Voice | August 18, 2017

Ever since he won the US presidency Donald Trump has attracted an unusually high amount of criticism from the mainstream media. This is extraordinary and quite unprecedented. The US president is normally treated by the press like a messiah, destined to lead mankind into some sort of American paradise. But Trump isn’t treated this way, and I don’t know why. He’s certainly no worse than any who preceded him in the last fifty years or more.

It isn’t easy criticising the US government – not because there isn’t much to criticise, but because it’s a fairly scary business: it wields awesome power, and loves to do so. I understand completely why the British government, for example, is its most loyal and sycophantic lieutenant: it’s too terrified to do otherwise. I get that, I understand: America frightens me too.

The US is the most terrifying organisation on the planet by far. No other country, or organisation, even comes close. No one else has spy stations and powerful military bases located in just about every country on earth (and has used them to overthrow more than fifty governments since the end of WW2, and to control the global economy with ruthless self-interest); or is responsible for more environmental destruction. Anyone who isn’t properly terrified of the US is either a foot-soldier, or a beneficiary of their regime, or just doesn’t understand the situation.

The United Nations – not the United States – is supposed to be the closest thing there is to a world government. The fact that it’s basically powerless to do what it’s supposed to do is not because it’s incompetent, it’s because the US won’t let it.

Ever since the UN was created the US has regarded it as another tool for administering its imperialism. The UN is expected just to rubber-stamp US foreign policy decisions. Member nations are routinely bribed or intimidated to support US proposals. If the General Assembly does go against the US, as sometimes happens, it’s simply ignored (as with Cuba, for example), or vetoed (as with Israel, for example). President Reagan once showed America’s arrogant contempt: “‘One hundred nations in the UN have not agreed with us on just about everything that’s come before them where we’re involved, and it didn’t upset my breakfast at all’.1 No other country has exercised its veto as often as the US.

The problem is not temporary presidents like Mr Trump who come and go, because the president has little personal political power; the real problem is with the terrifying ever-present US government.

  1. The Great Deception, Mark Curtis, p. 188.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Russia-gate’s Evidentiary Void

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | August 18, 2017

The New York Times’ unrelenting anti-Russia bias would be almost comical if the possible outcome were not a nuclear conflagration and maybe the end of life on planet Earth.

A classic example of the Times’ one-sided coverage was a front-page article on Thursday expressing the wistful hope that a Ukrainian hacker whose malware was linked to the release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in 2016 could somehow “blow the whistle on Russian hacking.”

Though full of airy suspicions and often reading like a conspiracy theory, the article by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins contained one important admission (buried deep inside the “jump” on page A8 in my print edition), a startling revelation especially for those Americans who have accepted the Russia-did-it groupthink as an established fact.

The article quoted Jeffrey Carr, the author of a book on cyber-warfare, referring to a different reality: that the Russia-gate “certainties” blaming the DNC “hack” on Russia’s GRU military intelligence service or Russia’s FSB security agency lack a solid evidentiary foundation.

“There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the DNC attack to the GRU, FSB or any agency of the Russian government,” Carr said.

Yet, before that remarkable admission had a chance to sink into the brains of Times’ readers whose thinking has been fattened up on a steady diet of treating the “Russian hack” as flat fact, Times’ editors quickly added that “United States intelligence agencies, however, have been unequivocal in pointing a finger at Russia.”

The Times’ rebuke toward any doubts about Russia-gate was inserted after Carr’s remark although the Times had already declared several times on page 1 that there was really no doubt about Russia’s guilt.

“American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic national Committee,” the Times reported, followed by the assertion that the hacker’s “malware apparently did” get used by Moscow and then another reminder that “Washington is convinced [that the hacking operation] was orchestrated by Moscow.”

By repeating the same point on the inside page, the Times editors seemed to be saying that any deviant views on this subject must be slapped down promptly and decisively.

A Flimsy Assessment

But that gets us back to the problem with the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment,” which — contrary to repeated Times’ claims — was not the “consensus” view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, but rather the work of a small group of “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency. And, they operated under the watchful eye of President Obama’s political appointees, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was the one who called them “hand-picked.”

Those analysts presented no real evidence to support their assessment, which they acknowledged was not a determination of fact, but rather what amounted to their best guess based on what they perceived to be Russian motives and capabilities.

The Jan. 6 assessment admitted as much, saying its “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

Much of the unclassified version of the report lambasted Russia’s international TV network RT for such offenses as hosting a 2012 presidential debate for third-party candidates excluded from the Republican-Democratic debate, covering the Occupy Wall Street protests, and reporting on dangers from “fracking.” The assessment described those editorial decisions as assaults on American democracy.

But rather than acknowledge the thinness of the Jan. 6 report, the Times – like other mainstream news outlets – treated it as gospel and pretended that it represented a “consensus” of all 17 intelligence agencies even though it clearly never did. (Belatedly, the Times slipped in a correction to that falsehood in one article although continuing to use similar language in subsequent stories so an unsuspecting Times reader would not be aware of how shaky the Russia-gate foundation is.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have denied repeatedly that the Russian government was the source of the two batches of Democratic emails released via WikiLeaks in 2016, a point that the Times also frequently fails to acknowledge. (This is not to say that Putin and Assange are telling the truth, but it is a journalistic principle to include relevant denials from parties facing accusations.)

Conspiracy Mongering

The rest of Thursday’s Times article veered from the incomprehensible to the bizarre, as the Times reported that the hacker, known only as “Profexer,” is cooperating with F.B.I. agents inside Ukraine.

Yet, the reliance on Ukraine to provide evidence against Russia defies any objective investigative standards. The Ukrainian government is fiercely anti-Russian and views itself as engaged in an “information war” with Putin and his government.

Ukraine’s SBU security service also has been implicated in possible torture, according to United Nations investigators who were denied access to Ukrainian government detention facilities housing ethnic Russian Ukrainians who resisted the violent coup in February 2014, which was spearheaded by neo-Nazis and other extreme nationalists and overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

The SBU also has been the driving force behind the supposedly “Dutch-led” investigation into the July 17, 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. That inquiry has ignored evidence that a rogue Ukrainian force may have been responsible – not even addressing a Dutch/NATO intelligence report stating that all anti-aircraft missile batteries in eastern Ukraine on that day were under the control of the Ukrainian military – and instead tried to pin the atrocity on Russia, albeit with no suspects yet charged.

In Thursday’s article, the Times unintentionally reveals how fuzzy the case against “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear” – the two alleged Russian government hacking operations – is.

The Times reports: “Rather than training, arming and deploying hackers to carry out a specific mission like just another military unit, Fancy Bear and its twin Cozy Bear have operated more as centers for organization and financing; much of the hard work like coding is outsourced to private and often crime-tainted vendors.”

Further, under the dramatic subhead – “A Bear’s Lair” – the Times reported that no such lair may exist: “Tracking the bear to its lair … has so far proved impossible, not least because many experts believe that no such single place exists.”

Lacking Witnesses

The Times’ article also noted the “absence of reliable witnesses” to resolve the mystery – so to the rescue came the “reliable” regime in Kiev, or as the Times wrote: “emerging from Ukraine is a sharper picture of what the United States believes is a Russian government hacking group.”

The Times then cited various cases of exposed Ukrainian government emails, again blaming the Russians albeit without any real evidence.

The Times suggested some connection between the alleged Russian hackers and a mistaken report on Russia’s Channel 1 about a Ukrainian election, which the Times claimed “inadvertently implicated the government authorities in Moscow.”

The Times’ “proof” in this case was that some hacker dummied a phony Internet page to look like an official Ukrainian election graphic showing a victory by ultra-right candidate, Dmytro Yarosh, when in fact Yarosh polled less than 1 percent. The hacker supposedly sent this “spoof” graphic to Channel 1, which used it.

But such an embarrassing error, which would have no effect on the actual election results, suggests an effort to discredit Channel 1 rather than evidence of a cooperative relationship between the mysterious hacker and the Russian station. The Times, however, made this example a cornerstone in its case against the Russians.

Meanwhile, the Times offered its readers almost no cautionary advice that – in the case of Russia-gate – Ukraine would have every motive to send U.S. investigators in directions harmful to Russia, much as happened with the MH-17 investigation.

So, we can expect that whatever “evidence” Ukraine “uncovers” will be accepted as gospel truth by the Times and much of the U.S. government – and anyone who dares ask inconvenient questions about its reliability will be deemed a “Kremlin stooge” spreading “Russian propaganda.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment