The activities of organizations funded by US billionaire investor George Soros in Hungary are “anti-democratic,” as they want to undermine the government in Budapest, the foreign minister of Hungary told RT.
Soros “would like this government to fail, he would like to kind of fire this government because he doesn’t like our approach, doesn’t like our policies,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze.
“We find it very anti-democratic if someone from abroad would like to influence Hungarian voters on whom to vote for,” he asserted.
Several days before the interview, the Hungarian parliament began to discuss a bill allowing authorities to audit NGO executives and request detailed reports on their foreign donations.
Earlier in January, chairman of the ruling Fidesz party Szilard Nemeth said that “these organizations must be pushed back with all available tools, and I think they must be swept out, and now I believe the international conditions are right for this with the election of the new president [Donald Trump].”
Last September, Nemeth, who is also the deputy chairman of Hungary’s National Security Committee, submitted a list of 22 NGOs “connected to the Soros network for the purpose of having these organizations screened.”
Foreign Minister Szijjarto said it is obviously the right of his country to be protected from foreign influence. “This is what we have heard a lot from the US for the last months – that external influence is so dangerous… So, it’s a good reason – if this is the American position, it can be our position as well.”
Hungary, which lies at the very heart of Europe, last year became a main passageway for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees eager to reach northern European countries. The government, led by right-wing President Viktor Orban, responded by erecting fences along Hungary’s borders and introducing strict border controls. Budapest has consistently refused EU-backed mandatory resettlement quotas, calling them a blow to member states’ sovereignty.
Szijjarto cited intelligence reports alleging that “there were organizations which helped illegal migrants find ways to Hungary, to find where they could violate our border, to find out how to apply for asylum status, and these reports have said that George Soros was in the background of these organizations.”
Countries to Hungary’s east and south are concerned about Soros’ operations, too. In Macedonia, an organization called Stop Operation Soros (SOS) has been launched. Its founder, Nikola Srbov, accused Soros of hijacking civil society, calling upon followers to “fight against one-mindedness in the civil sector, which is devised and led by Soros,” according to Vecer newspaper.
Russian prosecutors branded the Open Society Foundation (OSF), a major Soros asset, and Open Society Institute’s Assistance Foundation threats to the country’s constitutional order and national security in 2015, and banned them from providing grants to Russian partners.
Groups run by Soros have also been accused of meddling in Ukrainian affairs and supporting the 2013 Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovich.
I regularly hear or read arguments from agencies compromising our natural heritage that such and such studies support their management decisions. However, often the agencies overlook or ignore contrary science that does not support the policy or management decision.
To give them a break, the average district ranger or even specialists like wildlife biologists, fire managers, and others often do not have time to keep up with the latest science. So, recognize that they may not really know the “best” science.
Yet, the public, and often the media, naively accepts without question the assertions of public agencies as “unbiased” observers. One often hears agencies defend their statements and policies by suggesting if everyone is angry with their positions, they must be “doing something right.”
Well not everything is splitting the baby. The Earth is round, not flat or half way flat. Gravity exists whether you believe it or not—just try jumping off a cliff. There are some things that are more accurate than others.
Both proponents and opponents of various public policies rely upon scientific studies to give credibility to their positions and boost confidence in their assertions. So how does one determine whose science is reliable?
There are several ways that I decide the relative veracity of scientific research and whether to grant authority to agency representatives—I follow the money.
The Upton Sinclair quote that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” often is a good starting point for determining the accuracy of statements.
I know few foresters, for instance, who are opposed to logging. If you are a forester, your job depends on cutting trees.
The first thing I do is look at the occupation and affiliation of the spokesperson. Obviously if you are reading a study about the safety of smoking cigarettes and the authors work for tobacco companies, this would raise a yellow flag of caution. But it is not always as obvious that there are conflicts.
For instance, one of the ideas we hear surrounding livestock grazing is that grazing can prevent large wildfires by targeted removal of the fuel—grasses—that sustains fires.
There have been several studies that purport to show that “targeted” grazing can halt large fires. So, the first thing I do is look at who the authors are and where they are employed. The studies that suggest that livestock grazing—at least the ones I’m aware of—are all done by people in range departments.
Why is this important? Because if you are a professor or graduate student in a range program, your entire budget and survival as a professor and department depends on maintaining livestock grazing on public lands. Hence you have a vested interested in promoting livestock “benefits” whether real or imagined, and minimizing any known negative effects.
Next I look at the journal where the research was published. Not all journals are equal. Some are much more discriminating in the papers accepted for publication. Some journals also have unspoken biases. For instance, the Journal of Rangeland Ecology and Management published by the Society for Range Management is biased towards promoting livestock production.
You will find few papers in this journal that recommends removal of livestock as the best management option, even when the authors may document significant resource damage from livestock. They almost always recommend “proper grazing management” as the solution to problems, whether proper management can work under field conditions.
Beyond the journal publication, one then must look at the funding source for the study. If you are doing range studies in the western United States, most of your funding will be coming from either livestock organizations, and/or federal/state money appropriated to demonstrate why livestock grazing is a beneficial use of the landscape.
In all instances of the above examples, money and jobs dictates the perspective of the individual, and woe to the person who steps over the line and does not promote the accepted policy positions.
So, in the case of targeted grazing, you must read crucially the study methods, and conclusions. Most scientists have integrity—even though who are advocates of grazing, logging, oil extraction or whatever. They do not out-right lie or distort their findings.
What they do instead is restrict the kinds of questions they ask, how they set up their experimental design, how they interpret their findings and what they propose for solutions.
For instance, I studied wildlife biology in college. There was not one professor of mine that questioned or even raised the question whether hunting wildlife was appropriate and perhaps harmful to the long-term survival of the animals. (And yes, there is evidence that even “regulated” hunting can negatively impact wildlife).
We simply never discussed this idea because almost all wildlife biology professors get a substantial amount of their research funding from Fish and Game agencies.
As an example of the unexamined assumptions, one of the papers widely referenced by the BLM in its management plans to save sage grouse champions “targeted grazing” to reduce western range fires.
The original study was based on the grazing of several small plots where the cattle were confined by fences and herding. While the grazed areas did have less fuels, the applicability of this management of confinement to large public lands allotments is questionable. The cost of such confinement would be prohibitive.
While the research might show that “targeted” grazing might reduce some wildfires, the practical application of this approach to wide-open public lands allotments is questionable.
Beyond the costs and the lack of landscape scale application, the study relied on “models” of fire behavior to conclude that grazing would reduce wildfires.
Models are notoriously imprecise. As the saying goes, what goes into the model affects what comes out.
One of the factors in their model was limiting the wind speed in the fire models.
Why is this important? Because nearly all large wildfires are driven by high winds. Under less than high winds, wildfires do not spread rapidly and are easy to control—whether grazed or not.
Models are better than nothing, but they are no substitute for empirical data. In other words, direct observation of how real wildfires interact with grazed landscapes.
Finally, in at least one of these studies, the authors admitted in the very final paragraph that their findings only applied to wildfires burning under low to moderate weather conditions.
One had to read the entire paper to find this one line which is a dead giveaway that targeted grazing is not likely to significantly influence the large wildfires burning across the West. These large wildfires all burn under extreme fire weather conditions.
The same caution applies to other science as well. Nearly all the science supporting thinning/logging to reduce high severity wildfire is done by forestry schools and/or researchers who work for federal or state forestry agencies like the US Forest Service.
For instance, the Oregon State University Forestry School gets 10% of its funding from a tax on logging, which alone would be enough incentive for the department to have a favorable perspective on logging issues, not to mention that timber industry dollars also directly fund some of the department’s research.
No one wants to bite the hand that feeds them.
I hasten to add that this does not mean all research done by forestry schools, nor are all professors in such departments minions for industry. Nevertheless, there are often unquestioned assumptions that permeates the science. A reasonable person would exercise caution in accepting all “peer reviewed” science as equally valid.
George Soros Image © Maurizio Gambarini / http://www.globallookpress.com
With the EU elite threatened by a populist insurgency aiming to end free and easy immigration programs and promote nationalism over globalism, an influential think tank says populism will only – wait for it – fuel the fires of corruption.
Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-graft group, warned in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index about the purported perils of populism, a political animal that on occasion rolls through nations like a force of nature to contend with the excesses of an out-of-touch, elitist minority.
“Populism is the wrong medicine,” stated TI chair Jose Ugaz, without offering any alternative prescriptions. “In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary.”
“Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems,” Ugaz continued.
With regards to corruption, the watchdog attempts mind-reading by asserting that populist politicians “have no intention of tackling the problem [of corruption] seriously.”
The report takes to task some firebrand politicians, including Donald Trump (USA), Marine Le Pen (France), Jaroslw Kaczynski (Poland) and Victor Orban (Hungary), among others, who are currently topping the popularity charts among their constituents by declaring open season on the moribund establishment.
Transparency International sounded the alarm over these political “con artists” who are “reactive, nativist and often right-wing…” while alleging that these disruptive newcomers “have been able to exploit the disenchantment of people with ‘the corrupt system’ and present themselves as the only ‘way out’ of the vicious cycle described… ”
While deliberating upon the potential risks associated with the new agitators on the block, the report conspicuously failed to mention the reasons why so many voters today are disaffected with the same old run-of-the-mill politicians, who are guilty, it must be said, of far worse crimes than mere corruption.
In all too many cases we are talking about complicity in actual atrocities, from bloody regime change in places like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, with efforts underway in Syria, to the wholesale destruction of Western civilization due to the unchecked immigration of war refugees without the consent of the governed. If NATO member states are feeling pangs of guilt over their direct complicity in the serial murders of nation states, forcing the refugees of these war zones onto the territory of their people is undoubtedly not the answer.
In light of these unsavory actions on the part of many NATO countries, concerns over high level corruption may seem a bit exaggerated and misplaced. At the risk of sounding cynical, separating corruption from the world of politics is tantamount to separating the chicken from the egg, and, as the popular riddle reminds us, very difficult to say what came first.
And speaking of corruption. The scale of corruption in the Clinton camp, revealed by WikiLeaks in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, is simply astounding and should be enough to preclude any lectures on good behavior by the folks at Transparency International.
For starters, it was revealed in November that the Clinton Foundation received a $1 million ‘gift’ from Qatar without telling the State Department, thereby breaking an agreement requiring it to reveal all foreign donations. The check was reportedly a gift to former President Bill Clinton in 2011 for his 65h birthday. A meeting was to take place between him and Qatari officials at some point, according to an email published last month, but it is not clear if this ever happened.
At the same time, it was also established that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were not only donating heavily to the Clinton Foundation but were also arming and funding the militants of Islamic State. Now if that isn’t the worst case of political corruption then I don’t know what is.
It is, therefore, no coincidence that populist politicians, simply responding to the market demand for fresh leadership, appeared around the world at just about the same time. The fact that France has its own version of Donald Trump in the form of Marine Le Pen would only come as a surprise to those people who don’t follow world events, or who are not told the truth about them.
Now that so many Western politicians and their affiliated parties are facing the threat of eviction this year (The most influential EU member states are witnessing a fierce struggle in the ranks amid the spectacular rise of anti-establishment, far-right politicians, like Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in Holland and Frauke Petry in Germany), it is somewhat ironic that Transparency International would release a report warning voters that they are about to be hoodwinked by rabble-rousing, right-wing demagogues.
But there is a simpler explanation for the one-sided nature of this report, and it is due to a massive conflict of interest on the part of its sponsors.
Take it away, George
If you were doing consumer research on a particular product, would you trust the manufacturer of that product to carry out the research, or would you prefer some independent body to handle the job? I think most people would agree that the most reliable, trustworthy method would be to commission some third party with no connections to the company to provide its consensus. That would dramatically reduce the chances of inaccurate results due to something called ‘self-interest.’
And therein lies the glaring problem not only with this report but with Transparency International as a watchdog group.
A brief perusal of its supporter list should remove any doubt as to why Transparency International is extremely wary about populist politicians rocking the European boat of power.
Aside from receiving from a number of foreign governments (Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Estonia and Finland, to name a few), TI is sponsored by the some of the most dubious names in democracy today, brought to you by none other than investor and philanthropist George Soros himself.
The Open Society Institute (OSI) and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) ranks just behind the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a soft power non-profit sponsored by the US government, on the list of TI’s supporters.
Clearly, this is the last organization one should trust for providing an objective look at the rise of new political parties across the world. Indeed, George Soros himself has been largely responsible for the massive influx of refugees to the European Union, going so far as to offer cash incentives to refugees who wish to make the long, dangerous journey from the Middle East to the European continent.
Never mind that none of these displaced peoples, who have every right to our sympathy, will live in the same neighborhood as Mr. Soros, who can well afford all the personal protection that is certainly desirable when embracing such reckless policies. But for the average European citizen, who must accommodate these millions of new people who do not share the same religious, social and cultural predilections, nor in many cases the same high level of education, this social experiment carried out on the whim of a billionaire is the epitome of reckless behavior.
In fact, it should come as no surprise that the TI report singled out Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. Just this month, Szilard Nemeth, a vice president of the ruling Fidesz party, said it would use “all the tools at its disposal” to “sweep out” NGOs funded by the Hungarian-born financier, which “serve global capitalists and back political correctness over national governments.”
But all that pales in comparison to an award that Transparency International bestowed upon none other than former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 for “her emphasis on the importance of increasing transparency and countering corruption as part of US foreign policy, with the award addressed solely to those contributions.” Needless to say, that award drew a lot of raised eyebrows around the world.
There is a breathtaking degree of conflict of interest in this TI report, which, like so many closed halls of power in the EU today, is just begging for the transparent light of day.
Robert Bridge, an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia, is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, released in 2013.
An Israeli Finance Minister, who is in charge of implementing a law to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank, is himself living in an unlicensed building in an illegal colonial settlement on Occupied Palestinian land – and he is just one of many Israeli officials living in illegal settlements, according to a new report.
The report, released Wednesday by the Palestine Liberation Organization, documented a number of top Israeli officials, many of whom are tasked with displacing Palestinians or demolishing their homes, living on illegally seized Palestinian land.
The Israeli Finance Minister Avi Cohen, lives in a colonial settlement outpost of 40 fixed and mobile structures, which was constructed on land stolen from Palestinian owners in the villages of Qaryout, Saweiya and Al-Luban in the Nablus region.
The settlement where Cohen lives is an expansion of the larger settlement of ‘Eli’ and is known as ‘Bilgi Maime’. But the Israeli government did not approve this expansion, and Cohen’s part in building his home on stolen Palestinian land is in direct violation of both Israeli and international law. However, since Cohen has headed the Regional Unit on Planning and Construction, under his watch the unit has tacitly and actively allowed the expansion of settlements like Bilgi Maime on Palestinian land.
Cohen himself was in charge of issuing demolition orders against Palestinian homes, including some that were demolished in order to make way for the construction of Cohen’s illegal settlement outpost. He also defied an Israeli court order to dismantle the outpost, which was reiterated every year from 2001 – 2007.
Cohen is one of a number of Israeli officials who are either living in or contributing to illegal Israeli settlement outposts on stolen Palestinian land. During a recent investigation into corruption charges against the Yisrael Beitenu Party , the Israeli police discovered that Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, transferred government funds to pay for the debts of a settlement company that works in the West Bank named the Samaria Development Co.
The new report found that a fund of NIS 2.4 million was transferred to a private company from Israeli taxpayers to the executive arm of Aamnah Movement, which is active in the field of settlement construction.
This comes in the context of a new campaign of collective punishment against Palestinian residents of the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukaber in Jerusalem, after one resident of the town ran his truck over a group of Israeli soldiers.
Meir Turgeman, deputy mayor of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem, and head of the local planning and construction committee, announced that he intends to impose collective punishment against the family members and neighbors of the deceased attacker.
The Israeli campaign also includes a resolution by the occupation Minister of interior, who ordered the seizure of 12 identity passes from members of Kanbar family (forcing these residents to move from their homes into internal displacement), and the distribution of demolition notices against 81 houses in the Al-Kanbar, Al-Jdeirh and Salaah neighborhoods, belonging to families of Al-Kabnbar, Al-Jdeirh and Salaah, under the pretext of being built without licenses.
Moreover, the campaign has also involved closing the main roads, which disturbed the movement of transportation, as well as preventing people from going to work and school, and hindered the ability to provide first aid.
Troops also invaded several agricultural and commercial stores, asking their owners to leave the areas, and finally threatened to carry out the demolition orders.
WASHINGTON – Nearly three quarters of all Americans agree with President Donald Trump’s charge that a group of elitists in Washington has grown wealthy at the expense of the United States, a Rasmussen national poll reported.
“Seventy-two percent of likely US voters agree with this statement,” Rasmussen said in a release on Tuesday.
The survey found that only 17 percent of the US public disagreed with Trump’s claim while 11 percent were not sure.
Trump in his inaugural address delivered on Friday charged the Washington, DC political establishment with profiting for many years at the expense of ordinary Americans, pledging to end the practice immediately, the release explained.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters was carried out on Sunday by Rasmussen Reports, the company said.
Donald Trump’s election victory has brought an end to the Clinton era of intervention in Serbia’s internal affairs, including the murky web of connections between NGO’s in the US and abroad, experts told Sputnik Srbija.
When the US election results were announced in November 8, representatives of Serbia’s NGO elite were in attendance at Belgrade’s Crown Plaza Hotel, where the US Embassy had organized a get-together.
In a straw poll conducted of those present, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner, and her defeat was greeted with disbelief and disappointment by those who have grown used to getting support from American government and non-government organizations.
Political analyst Branko Radun told Sputnik Srbija that supporters of Clinton among Serbia’s pressure groups can be divided into two groups – those who were thinking with their heads, and those who were thinking with their wallets.
“I would divide the pro-Clinton elite in two. The first group is parties, NGO’s, the media and individuals which are ideologically close to American liberals and Democrats and are connected with them in various ways, including ideologically. The second group is parties, organizations and individuals which following the overthrow of Milosevic got used to a situation whereby we have a pro-Clinton elite. In order to survive on the political scene, they made compromises and deals with domestic ‘Clintonistas’ and with the global elite, comprised above all of American Democrats, that liberal, pro-Soros global elite,” Radun said.
Radun said that changes to Serbia’s political situation will take some time to become clear.
“These changes will come in phases. Firstly, of course, there will be a change in the structure of the State Department, so those who have links there will immediately feel the change. Others, who may have ties to other structures, will feel the changes later. I think those changes don’t seem dramatic and visible at the moment.”
Analyst Dejan Vuk Stankovic said that Serbian NGO’s have had good reason to promote liberal American values in Serbia, thanks to funds from organizations such as US AID, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI and the IRI are affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
“This is an interesting network of individuals, the non-governmental sector, some opposition parties, I would not rule out that there are also some people within the current governing structures. But in general, (they are) the post-Milosevic political elite and the remnants of their media and NGO, their open or hidden allies in the robes of civil society or independent societies of journalists, lawyers and so on,” Stankovic said.
“I think the choice of Trump is not good news for NGO beneficiaries of American grants. This does not mean that there won’t be any, there will be, but on a much smaller scale. I doubt that Trump will have any particular engagement with what Democrats were engaged in when in power. That political work which had various forms of subversion: the preparation for and the destruction of political regimes via the non-government sector with the help of opposition parties. I think Trump will put politics in some kind of official context, as a politician he will be without ideological vices. He will hold negotiations in the way in which business deals are made.”
Radun said that despite the disappointment in some quarters, a Clinton victory would not have benefited Serbia. In fact, a Clinton administration was likely to raise tensions in the Balkans by inflaming the situation in Kosovo and neighboring Bosnia.
“First of all, pressure on Republika Srpska would have increased and in the direction of its suppression. There would also have been an attempt to complete the constitution of Kosovo as an independent state. On the other hand, with Trump somehow we start from scratch. The situation is uncertain, but compared to the other side (Clinton), which would certainly have been negative, uncertainty is better because with uncertainty you have a chance,” said Radun.
I attended the women’s rights rally in Portland, Oregon, today to support women worldwide and urge Trump to end Obama and Hillary Clinton’s record weapons deals with the most repressive state for women in the world, the totalitarian dictatorship of Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, the Clinton state department organized the biggest weapons sale in US history. The sale was to strongman Abdullah Abdullaziz, who had women executed as punishment for being raped. The Kerry state department followed the deal with a sale of almost a billion dollars worth of illegal cluster bombs to the dictator. Obama approved both deals.
Bloomberg reports Clinton’s weapons sales to woman-oppressing dictators increased dramatically after the tyrants ‘donated’ to what Harper’s magazine calls the Clintons’ ‘slush fund’, the Clinton Foundation.
An unfortunate aspect of much of the current anti-Trump upheaval around the country is that similar actions were not undertaken when policies Democrats would or will oppose if Trump carries them out were not opposed by Democrats when Obama and Hillary Clinton performed them.
However, this is largely because the general public is kept ignorant of most of these policies. Such actions, Dr. Chalmers Johnson has noted, are “kept secret” from the US-American public.
Respected analysts this week highlighted the disparity between Obama’s treatment in the neoliberal press and his actual record.
John Pilger quotes a typically sycophantic example of a description of Obama, this one from The Guardian:
“But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool … [He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”
Nicolas J S Davies outlines the reality: Obama, whose political career has been sponsored by, among many other similar elements, lethal weapons manufacturer General Dynamics, “has increased U.S. military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).
In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the U.S. Cold War average…”
Under Obama, “… the U.S. and its allies dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles in his first term. In his second term, they have dropped four times that number, bringing the total for Obama’s presidency to over 100,000 bombs and missiles striking seven countries, surpassing the 70,000 unleashed on five countries by George W. Bush.”
Pilger notes Obama ordered an average of 72 explosive devices to be planted and detonated every day in 2016.
Davies continues that Obama has used the US’s Central American model of favoring proxy-armies and death-squads over sending in US troops, and has thus provided arms and ignited and fueled conflicts that have killed hundreds of thousands around the world.
But the strategy has also included “a massive expansion of U.S. special operations forces, now deployed to 138 different countries, compared with only 60 when Obama took office.”
Pilger notes this “amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa.”
Highlighting what these US operations and hegemonic expansion mysteriously achieve, Oxfam this week released a report noting that about 8 people now control as much wealth as half the world’s population. This is down from 16 people within the past year or so, and around 70 people before that.
Within the US, while thousands of the poorest people in places like Detroit had their water turned off in violation of the universal declaration of human rights, Obama allocated a trillion dollars to the nuclear arsenal, in violation of legal obligations and agreements.
And while he has refused to prosecute torturers and war criminals from the Bush Jr. regime (let alone his own), he has waged a campaign of persecution against those who have exposed torture and war crimes.
Amnesty International and other groups note a highlight of Obama’s presidency was his recent commutation of the sentence of US political prisoner Chelsea Manning, who released documents exposing some US war crimes. But the commutation came after an offer from another, higher-value whistle-blower and political prisoner, Julian Assange, to accept extradition to the US in exchange for clemency for Manning.
Others note Obama has deported millions of people and increased military aid to human rights violators like Israel and Saudi Arabia more than any other president.
While at least some Democrats would express opposition to these actions if they were performed by Trump, this cannot necessarily be called hypocrisy, since the US and Western propaganda model (corporations dumping billions into favored media outlets to overwhelm the market) prevents the vast majority of them from knowing Obama undertook the actions himself.
This is not new. Similar demonstrations expressing disgust were carried out by Democrats and others during the inauguration of Bush Jr., but not in opposition to policies carried out by Clinton such as his genocide in Iraq that killed some 500,000 children, his support for terrorist Paul Kagame in Rwanda, which has contributed to the deaths of millions, or Clinton’s aggression against Yugoslavia.
Continuing to illustrate how these and other crimes are “kept secret” from or distorted for the US and Western public, Reuters this week said the US/NATO aggression against Yugoslavia was carried out in response to Serbia “killing about 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians there.”
But Noam Chomsky and other US/Western propaganda analysts note that according to the West’s own monitors, including the British Parliamentary inquiry into the matter, this is a reversal of the chronology.
In the year before the US/NATO attack, about 2,000 people were killed due the conflict in Yugoslavia, with more killings attributed to the KLA – the terrorist-integrated guerilla force backed by the US and Western countries – than to the Serbs. Before the US/NATO attack, the killings had mostly subsided, but the KLA continued to carry out provocations to, as it stated, try to instigate NATO intervention on its behalf.
Wesley Clarke, the NATO commander at the time, said bombing Yugoslavia would cause more deaths and atrocities than would occur without Western bombing. Others agreed, but, with Hillary Clinton’s urging, Bill Clinton began bombing the country, leading to the “about” 10,000 deaths Reuters this week says the bombing was a response to.
The Reuters article also mysteriously fails to mention that if the US had intervened to prevent atrocities, it would not have been supporting what Dr. Michael Parenti, in a book on the topic written under the supervision of Balkan experts, notes were worse atrocities carried out by Turkey (against the Kurds) and other regimes around the world.
Through countless similar distortions and omissions, the US/Western propaganda model thus continues to keep Democrats uninformed and thus complacent or supportive of politicians who carry out actions Democrats sometimes vehemently oppose when the same actions are planned or carried out by Republicans.
Comparable dynamics are also true in reverse.
Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.
Judging from how the mainstream media has characterized the legacy of Barack Obama so far, the outgoing president will be most remembered for his many rousing aspirational speeches and well-timed shows of emotion.
His talent as a persuasive public communicator and the strength of his personal brand, bolstered by years of apple-shining from liberal magazines and newspapers, has been Obama’s most valuable asset.
This perception of Obama that has been propagated from the top, the view that he is essentially a benevolent figure with deep integrity or the personification of a modern liberal-statesmen, is a stunning smokescreen.
The contradiction between the high-minded rhetoric of the president in contrast to the actual policies pursued by his administration has been stark and utterly scandalous.
To hear Obama wax poetic about ‘the politics of hope’ and ‘how ordinary Americans can steer change’ feels deeply perverse coming from a figure that has institutionalized a vast, unaccountable permanent warfare state.
In the face of Obama’s global covert assassination program, his numerous secret wars without congressional approval, a mass electronic surveillance capability unprecedented in history, the speeches reveal themselves as little more than banal platitudes and vapid sloganeering.
As the sun sets on Obama’s presidency, to say the press has given him a pass is a grand understatement.
Some outlets have occasionally run criticism of Obama’s drone policies or inconvenient relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Other voices invert reality altogether, chastising Obama for his reluctance to militarily engage Syria, despite the US dropping over 12,000 bombs on the country in 2016 alone.
Contrary to his predecessor, Obama had a firmer grasp on the political risks inherent in the large-scale deployment of US troops in sustained military campaigns, but his strategic objectives differed little, and his belief in American exceptionalism was total.
Rather than ‘shock and awe,’ Obama proffered ‘leading from behind,’ culminating in NATO support and air power for insurgents that toppled the Libyan government on the pretext of defending human rights, turning the country into a cauldron of rival fiefdoms and lawlessness.
The Obama administration and the CIA fueled a proxy war in Syria with arms and training for insurgents, many of whom took up arms with ISIS or Al-Qaeda affiliated groups. The US military’s presence in Syria and support for non-state actors abjectly violates international law, and John Kerry’s leaked comments make clear how the administration cynically leveraged the threat of ISIS against the Syrian government.
Not only did Obama fail in his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay torture facility, he effectively replaced enhanced interrogation with an unaccountable covert assassination complex, endowing himself with the roles of judge, jury, and executioner.
By virtue of his suave and benevolent public persona, top-tier entertainers and figures of the liberal intelligentsia were largely willing to acquiesce to the precedent set by Obama’s unrestrained executive powers, exercised in near-complete secrecy.
They believed Obama would use the entrenched military and surveillance capacities of the US government judiciously. They swallowed the Democrats’ rhetoric of social inclusion and focused their political energies largely on identity issues.
Liberal figures didn’t protest against the president’s ability to spy on countless Americans suspected of no crime, nor did they organize against the president’s extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens and non-Americans without trial or due process.
Liberals hardly spoke out against the thousands of civilians killed by Obama’s drone bombings. Oddly enough, many seemed more outraged at Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Muslims and Mexicans than the reality of President Obama engaging in military hostilities against seven Muslim countries and deporting more people than any president in history.
Frankly, far too many Americans have been utter cowards in the face of the outgoing Democratic presidency. Obama will soon leave office as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms at war.
Despite his tense relationship with the Israeli prime minister and token opposition to the expansion of settlements, Obama signed the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance to Israel in history, enabling the cancerous Israeli occupation and further brutalization of Palestinians.
As the Saudi military ceaselessly bombarded towns and cities across impoverished Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, in a botched attempt to reinstall an ousted proxy government, the Obama administration offered muted criticism and a $115 billion arms deal.
Obama’s administration has in fact brokered more arms sales than other since the second world war. Despite campaigning on the building of ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ he has waged war against whistleblowers and official leakers, invoking the 1917 Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined.
Obama spoke of his dramatic commitment to building a nuclear weapons-free world on the campaign trail. Once in office, he committed the country to a trillion-dollar modernization of US nuclear production facilities and weapons, including warheads with adjustable yields that, according to the New York Times, make the weapons “more tempting to use.”
One of the most consequential international developments to occur under Obama’s watch was the deterioration of US-Russia relations and the revival of Cold War antagonisms, marked by the covert American role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine that brought to power a crude, corrupt and pervasively anti-Russian regime.
The largest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the second world war has unfolded under Obama’s watch, and the White House has moved in lock-step with the US intelligence community to propagate the anti-Russian line that has now captured American politics.
His administration’s pivot to Asia policy aimed to transfer 60 percent of the US naval presence to the Asia Pacific region by 2020, while the now-botched Trans-Pacific Partnership sought to – in the words of Senator Charles E. Schumer – “lure” other countries “away from China.”
On the domestic front, there have hardly been any clear-cut achievements for President Obama. He has overseen an obscene transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class, becoming the first two-term presidency that has failed to post a three percent GDP growth on an annualized basis over two terms.
The much-touted streak of job recovery rests on the proliferation of insecure part-time and temporary jobs with the low protection characteristic of the gig economy, while the share of workers in temporary jobs has risen from 10.7 percent to 15.8 percent under his watch.
Wall Street banks hoarded funds fueled by the quantitative easing policies of the Federal Reserve to triple the size of stock values. Corporate profits reached an 85-year peak under Obama while the total compensation of employees’ wages and salaries slipped to levels last recorded in 1929.
The wealth of the richest 400 Americans increased from $1.57 trillion in 2008 to $2.4 trillion in 2016.
The market-driven Affordable Care Act, Obama’s primary domestic initiative, did extend medical coverage to segments of American society, while millions of others were forced to pay higher premiums for substandard care. This shifted health care costs from employers and the state to working individuals in a move that effectively amounts to a bailout for private insurers.
And finally, there is the obscene proliferation of police brutality that has unfolded under Obama’s watch, with offending officers rarely held to account for their actions. African-American males were found to be nine times more likely to be killed by police officers in 2015 than white men of the same age.
But despite Obama’s troubled and deeply hypocritical track record, he remains a figure that many Americans continue to admire and respect, especially as the country moves rapidly toward a new and highly divisive political era.
A great many Americans, especially those in African-American communities, desperately and sincerely want to believe in the hope that Obama inspired in them. Unfortunately, Obama’s key achievement has proven to be his skillful usurpation of progressive rhetoric in the interest of an extremely militaristic and pro-corporate political agenda.
While many fear the specter of Donald Trump’s incoming presidency and the new forms of authoritarianism and state violence that will inevitably accompany it, none should forget that it was President Obama who set a precedent for the extreme executive authority that President Trump will soon enjoy.
Nile Bowie is an independent writer and current affairs commentator based in Singapore. Originally from New York City, he has lived in the Asia-Pacific region for nearly a decade and was previously a columnist with the Malaysian Reserve newspaper, in addition to working actively in non-governmental organisations and creative industries. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Democratic Party establishment has responded to Hillary Clinton’s election loss the same way they would have responded had Hillary Clinton won, by changing absolutely nothing. Clinton’s overt embrace of wealthy donors and establishment figures from both political parties repelled thousands of voters toward third parties, voting for Trump, or apathy.
This trend embodied by Clinton’s candidacy has resulted in Democrats losing over 900 state legislature seats and failing to recoup majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead of figuring out how to reconnect with working and middle class voters across the country, Democrats are handing the keys of the party directly over to wealthy billionaire donors while attempting to maintain the facade they care about the common voter.
Despite formal complaints, a lawsuit, and ethical concerns, billionaire donor and close ally to former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Stephen Bittel was elected by the Florida Democratic Party establishment to serve as its new Chair on January 14. Next weekend in Florida, billionaire donors will gain even more ground in the Democratic Party at a private retreat hosted by Clinton propagandist David Brock, where each candidate for the new DNC Chair will participate in a forum to woo support from the Democratic Party’s donors.
David Brock became notorious after his attacks on Anita Hill, who accused 1991 Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and passed a polygraph test in addition to testifying in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Thomas was confirmed anyways, and David Brock became rich off a book he wrote smearing Anita Hill. In 2001, Brock admitted he based the book on lies, part of his transition from Republican hit man to Hillary Clinton’s propaganda henchman.
Now that Hillary Clinton’s machine has broken down, Brock is depending on bundling his donor network with that of billionaire George Soros’ Democracy Alliance to push back against the direction Bernie Sanders and his supporters want to pull the party in, away from wealthy donors, with the support of the Democratic Party establishment. The DNC has allowed Brock’s Super-Pac, American Bridge, to develop strategy for a “Trump War Room,” and the next DNC Chair will likely be chosen by billionaire donors at the private retreat Brock is hosting under the distraction veil afforded by Trump’s Inauguration Ceremony.
If Democrats want to constructively hold Donald Trump accountable and recoup, they need to disavow themselves from David Brock’s incompetence. Relying on smear campaigns, propaganda, and hyperbolic attacks, in an attempt to portray a stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats will backfire as it did for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. The Clinton Campaign, David Brock, and the mainstream narrative focused their campaign on manufacturing outrage toward Donald Trump rather than try to make meaningful connections with working and middle class voters, especially in areas like the rust belt that have suffered increasing economic anxiety over the past decade.
David Brock won’t be a part of any viable solution for the Democratic Party. As Bernie Sanders Aide Michael Briggs said during the Democratic Primaries, Hillary Clinton, “should be ashamed of her association with Brock.” The same goes for the Democratic Party if they continue to provide Brock a platform and network to perpetuate his awful ideas and strategies along with out-of-touch wealthy donors.
“Their top-down approach to politics — a service model animated by an unwavering belief in their own superior intelligence — leaves us defenseless in the face of Trump and the right-wing forces he’s empowered,” wrote Alex Press for Jacobin in November. “Their existential dread of radical change renders them suspicious of precisely the policies that could unite workers of all races and blunt Trump’s appeal. In short, the rich can’t save us.”
Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1
The wealth of the 8 richest people on earth equals that of the poorest 3.6 billion, according to a report by Oxfam presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This vast wealth gap is a threat which may “pull our societies apart,” the report warned.
The list of the eight wealthiest individuals in the world, all men, comes from Forbes magazine’s billionaires list, and includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Others include Inditex clothing company founder, Amancio Ortega, investor Warren Buffett, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Oxfam emphasized the potential connection between the growing gap between the richest and the poorest, and the increasing anger at establishment politicians.
“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, who will be attending the Davos Forum, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” Oxfam said in its new report – “An economy for the 99 percent.”
According to the report, if things continue on their current course, the world will see its first trillionaire in the next 25 years.
Inequality exists not only between the rich and the poor, but is gender-based as well. “On current trends, it will take 170 years to see women paid the same as men,” the report says.
Oxfam urged an increase in tax rates for “rich individuals and corporations,” adding that tax evasion is a critical issue. The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimated that developing countries lose around $100 billion yearly due to tax evasion, the report said, adding that it would be enough money to ensure that 124 million children who currently have no access to education can go to school.
The report also slams corporate lobbying and the close relationship between business and politics.
“Crony capitalism benefits the rich, the people who own and run these corporations, at the expense of the common good and of poverty reduction. It means that smaller businesses struggle to compete and ordinary people end up paying more for goods and services,” it stated.
The revised figures come after last year’s report that 62 people owned the same wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population. The new report takes into account data from India and China.
Friends, “fake news”, and censorship pays off big. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth jumps $5 billion in two weeks
Facebook has been coming under fire for promoting “fake news”.
The huge social network was pressured by the neo-liberal left deep state to censor news that harms the Soros “Open Society” globalist agenda, pushed heavily under the Barack Obama presidency.
Facebook folded to the neo-liberal agenda like origami, and decided to crack down on “fake news”.
It looks like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is reaping the rewards for decisions made to crack down on “fake news”.
In the first two weeks of 2017, Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped by nearly $5 billion. This is the biggest gain of any person in the world.
Climbing ad revenues and a series of bullish analyst reports, are credited for Facebook’s shares inching closer to October’s all-time high.
Forbes has the details of the Facebook founder’s two week, $5 billion good fortune…
Zuckerberg, who owns 410 million company shares, has more than recouped the losses he suffered in the weeks following Donald Trump’s election, when his net worth fell 7% to $49 billion. He is now worth an estimated $53.8 billion dollars, according to FORBES’ real-time rankings of the world’s billionaires, and clocks in as the planet’s fifth-richest person; Zuckerberg trails only Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Amancio Ortega of Spain, each of whom holds a fortune of more than $70 billion.
Zuckerberg’s $5 billion surge vastly outpaces the gains of any other individual on the FORBES billionaires list, based on data compiled between the start of normal trading hours on January 3 and the end of normal trading at 4:00 P.M. EST on Friday, January 13.
Of course, Facebook’s spiking share price cannot be attributed to any single event, but the company has received a string of positive press as of late for its efforts to tackle the proliferation of fake news content on its site. On Wednesday it unveiled a new “journalism project,” with the goal of improving its relationship with the media and increasing “news literacy.” The initiative follows a previously announced plan to “[disrupt] fake news economics” by preventing abusive media outlets from using Facebook’s ad-placing technology.
Zuckerberg, who famously founded the social media giant as a 19-year-old Harvard undergrad, has watched his personal fortune consistently rise year after year. In 2016 he cracked the top five on The Forbes 400 for the first time, placing fourth behind Gates, Buffett and Bezos. If Facebook maintains its current trajectory, he may soon place even higher.
We completely agree with Forbes… if Facebook continues to play nice with the globalist deep state, censoring any opposing voices, then expect more positive “buy” stock analysis to propel FB to the valuation stratosphere.
Users on the other hand are seemingly unimpressed with FB’s recent censorship business model, rating the social network as the sixth worst company in the United States.
Pissed off users, neo-liberal globalist darling… something has got to give.