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Once Again, Mainstream Media Does Pharma’s Bidding

By Martha Rosenberg | CounterPunch | May 30, 2017

As CounterPunch has told you, taxpayers are stuck paying for the opioid crisis created by Big Pharma to make more money. Late last year, the Senate approved $1 billion of our money for “opioid prevention and treatment programs” as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

What’s wrong with this picture?

When Big Tobacco was busted for causing millions of deaths by lying to consumers that its products were neither addictive or deadly it was forced to pay $206 billion in the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. [executives are pictured before Congress in 1994) Provisions include paying states, in perpetuity, for some of the medical costs of people with smoking-related illnesses. Why are taxpayers paying for the similar, Pharma-caused scourge?

This week the New York Times ran another opioid crisis piece that ignores where the crisis came from–– Pharma’s deliberate machinations. The opioid crisis “just happened” say mainstream media (and lawmakers) so taxpayers have to pay.

In naming a new mental health czar, Dr. McCance-Katz, says the Times, the central rift and disagreement is “the medical model of psychiatry, which emphasizes drug and hospital treatment and which Dr. McCance-Katz has promoted, and the so-called psychosocial, which puts more emphasis on community care and support from family and peers.”

No, Times, the rift is actually about nothing but money and the financial role the drug industry plays in recovery. “Addiction medicine,” –treating opioid addiction with more opioid drugs (buprenorphine/Suboxone)–– is big business and surfaced when the opioid/heroin overdoses and deaths could no longer be ignored. It literally makes money off the people Pharma hooked. Ka-ching.

Bain Capital, for example, paid $720 million for CRC Health in 2006 and resold it for $1.18 billion in 2014. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment unashamedly admits it is industry funded to “Educate the public about the disease of opioid addiction and the buprenorphine treatment option; [and] help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with patients with addiction disorders.”

Insurance companies seldom reimburse rehab facilities anymore unless an expensive drug is used in the addiction treatment. Peers, patients advocates and former addicts, on the other hand, realize that more drugs is not the answer to drugs and the medical model is just a money making scheme. Peer support such as Twelve Step programs, on the other hand, is 100 percent free.

It is not hard to see why mainstream media give Big Pharma a shameless pass. Drug ads are estimated to account for as much as 72 percent of commercials and almost all media companies allow drug company representatives to serve as board members.

The Times cites Dr. McCance-Katz’s support from the the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as proof of her appropriateness for office. Both the APA and NAMI were investigated by Congress for Big Pharma financial conflicts of interest.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Things that Saudis can’t buy off

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | May 29, 2017

There is something obscene about anyone who held high positions in the government – for example, an Ambassador or an Army Chief – taking up a post-retirement job as employee of a foreign government. Pakistan’s former army chief General Raheel Sharif should not have accepted the offer made by Saudi king Salman to appoint him as the head of a newly-formed Islamic Military Alliance.

It is common sense that the assignment would effectively make the Pakistani general a vassal of the House of Saud. What was the need for it? A Pakistani general is almost certainly a very wealthy man who really doesn’t need more money. And if Gen. Sharif had an insatiable itch to continue to fight terrorism till the end of his life, Pakistan itself provided ample opportunities.

Why Saudi Arabia? The only plausible answer is — avarice. The Saudis’ capacity to lure foreign elites is a legion. According to reports, Salman gave away to US President Donald Trump personal gifts alone worth $1.2 billion. One heavy sword made of pure gold and studded with diamond stones weighing 25 kilograms alone was worth $200 million. Then, there is this 125 meter long yacht, which is apparently the world’s tallest personal yacht, with 80 rooms with 20 royal suites.

Maybe, the yacht is useful for Trump’s escapades, but what will he do with a 25 kg sword? Obviously, Salman was bribing Trump. As quid pro quo, Salman probably expects Trump to close the file on the 9/11 attacks and drop the idea of seeking compensation for the victims’ families under the US legislation known as Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

Of course, Saudis do not have to give away such lavish gifts to the elites in Pakistan (or India.) A Mont Blanc ballpoint pen, Rolex wrist watch, an odd job for the nephew or son-in-law – that generally does the trick. To be sure, by Pakistani standards, Gen. Sharif must be getting a fat salary.

However, the amazing part is that the Pakistani government gave him an exceptional ‘No Objection Certificate’ to take up such an assignment. The Pakistani leadership would have known that the Saudis had a certain agenda in creating the Islamic Military Alliance. The Saudi intention is to rally Sunni Muslim countries and create a phalanx against Shi’ite Iran. No matter the gloss put on the IMA being an anti-terror enterprise, the alliance’s Iran orientation was crystal clear.

The Pakistani press reported that Iran’s ambassador in Islamabad Mehdi Honardoost called on army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi twice during the month of April alone to convey Tehran’s disquiet over Sharif’s appointment. But the government remained impassive.

The birds are now coming to roost. One outcome of Trump’s visit to Riyadh last week is that the Islamic Military Alliance now stands pretty naked as a Sunni Muslim alliance to fight Iran. Not only that, the alliance will fight Iran in secret collaboration with Israel. The Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has bragged in a media interview, “We will not wait for the war to be waged on Saudi soil. We will make sure that the war is waged in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia.”

Now, this is all spinning out of control. Imagine Gen. Sharif landing the IMA troops in Badar-e Bushehr and leading the charge of the light brigade to Shiraz and Esfahan and on to Tehran to overthrow the Iranian regime.  Therefore, it is not at all surprising that Gen. Sharif is reportedly developing cold feet and is contemplating to resign from his job and return to Pakistan.

Even if that is not the case, Pakistani leadership should order him to return home. It will be extremely damaging to Pakistan’s interests any which way one looks at it, if it gets entangled in the Saudi-Iranian tensions. As the African proverb says, ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt’.

The really bizarre part of it is that Trump’s rhetoric about Iran is all baloney. Trump is a bluff master. He will now walk away laughing with the sword and the yacht. Read a report in the New York Times – As Iran and U.S. Leaders Trade Barbs, Big Deals Proceed.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Alleged Russia-Taliban Arms Link Disputed

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | May 29, 2017

A tiny article from Reuters in late May quoted the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency as telling a Senate hearing, “I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred.” Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart was addressing widespread claims by top Pentagon officials of Russian arms flowing to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

By conceding the reports have no real substance, Stewart quietly called the bluff of military hardliners who are invoking the Russian menace to justify prolonging and escalating the longest and second-most-costly war in U.S. history. Stories of Russian military shipments to Afghanistan began last December, with a typical headline from the Washington Post: “Russia begins supplying weapons to Afghanistan, sides with Taliban.”

Down in the body of the story, however, it emerged that Moscow had agreed to ship 10,000 assault rifles not to the Taliban but to the Afghan government’s police force in Kabul. A Russian Foreign Ministry official said, “Russia has been consistently pursuing the policy of providing comprehensive assistance to Afghanistan in the establishment of a peaceful, independent, stable and self-sufficient state, free from terrorism and drugs.” Russia previously supplied helicopters and pilot training to Afghan forces, under a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense, which continued thanks to a special U.S. waiver on economic sanctions.

As to the Taliban, the Russian official said only that his government stood ready, in the interests of Afghanistan’s national reconciliation, to support “the possible weakening of the sanctions regime . . . against the Taliban, if it is not contrary to the national interests of Afghanistan.” He added that Russia shared the Taliban’s interest in defeating ISIS in Afghanistan.

Scapegoating the Russians

Starting in March, coincident with urgent requests by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan for thousands more troops to stem the Taliban’s military advances, senior Pentagon officers began blaming Russia for setbacks on the battlefield.

“I think it is fair to assume they may be providing some sort of support to [the Taliban] in terms of weapons or other things that may be there,” General Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command, told members of Congress.

Defense Secretary James Mattis chimed in with claims, paraphrased by NPR correspondent Tom Bowman, that “the Russians are providing some support, including maybe weapons to the Taliban.” Noting that the details were “murky,” Bowman added, “the commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, thinks this is a way for the Russians just to undermine the U.S. and NATO.”

Staying on message, a spokesman for the NATO coalition in Afghanistan told the Los Angeles Times days later, “We know that actions by Russia in Afghanistan are meant to undermine the work of the United States and NATO to support the Afghan government.” The reporters then stated as fact, “It . . . represents another effort by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to exert power globally while weakening the U.S.”

In late April, a “senior U.S. military official,” speaking on background, asserted that the Russians had “increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months.” He said “the Russians have been sending weapons, including medium and heavy machine guns, to the Taliban under the guise that the materiel would be used to fight the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.”

Secretary Mattis, quoted in the same article, said menacingly, “we’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”

Russian Denials

Russia, increasingly considered a “hostile power” by many Americans, won few converts by denying what it called “irresponsible accusations” based on “rumors and conjectures.” Its special envoy to Afghanistan branded the allegations of its arms transfers to the Taliban insurgents “absolute lies . . . aimed at justifying the failure of the U.S. military and politicians.”

But Russia’s credibility – even after months of strident and varied accusations from Western officials – could hardly have been lower than the Afghan sources quoted in U.S. news accounts to bolster the Pentagon’s claims. One notable example was the police chief of Uruzgan province, who spoke of Russian agents, “dressed in doctor’s uniforms,” infiltrating his region and “enticing people against the government, providing training and teaching how to assemble land mines.”

The rotten corruption of the Uruzgan provincial police has been attested to by no less than the commander of the Afghan army in that province. Police there abandoned the provincial capital last year, allowing Taliban forces to walk in unopposed — not because of Russian weapons but because senior officials had pocketed police pay for months at a time.

Similar claims against Russia came from the governor of Kunduz province, whose capital was overrun by Taliban forces last fall in what reporters described as a “seemingly easy re-entry” into the city after a similar Taliban incursion in 2015 was repelled by U.S. Special Forces. Other Afghan officials, and independent reporters, ascribed the Taliban’s easy victories to the local population’s grievances against the “mafia-like” elite who run the province.

Experts also blamed aid from Pakistan — not Russia — to the Taliban. Echoing their complaint, former U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said last year, “The issue of the U.S. inability to deal effectively with Pakistan, and the [Taliban] sanctuary problem in Pakistan, has been the mother of all problems for U.S.-Afghan relations and of Afghanistan to some degree since 9/11.”

Another big supplier of the Taliban is Saudi Arabia. An exposé by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times revealed that as a longtime ally of Pakistan, “Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents.”

How US Arms Taliban

Perhaps the biggest arms supplier of all to the Taliban is the U.S. taxpayer. The Taliban rake off hundreds of millions of dollars from extortion of U.S.-funded projects in the country. They also fill their armories with U.S.-made weapons. A Taliban commander told Bloomberg News that when he needs more weapons and fuel, he simply buys or steals them from his foe. “It’s simple and cheaper,” he said.

As journalist and book author Douglas Wissing observed recently, “U.S-enabled corruption lost the Afghan War. . . Corruption funds the enemy, with hundreds of millions of dollars skimmed from U.S. logistics and aid money. . . . Empowered and financed by this corruption, Taliban strength has grown at double-digit rates annually since 2005. Insurgents now control about 40 percent of the countryside, and are pressuring government centers across country, including increasingly besieged Kabul.”

In the past, Donald Trump was correct when he tweeted that the war in Afghanistan was a “total disaster” – although as President, he is reportedly considering a Pentagon plan to escalate the U.S. role, again.

Blaming the Russians for the war’s latest reversals may let our Afghan allies and our own military off the hook for losing this long war in slow motion, but it won’t change the outcome.

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

teleSUR | May 23, 2017

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal.

Brazil’s largest television channel, Globo, has admitted that is has divulged false information about former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Globo journalist William Waak acknowledged on television Tuesday that previous reports about Lula and Rousseff, allegedly owning offshore accounts, were inaccurate.

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal involving Joesley Batista, owner of JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packing company.

“We said that Joesley Batista had claimed in the awarding statement that he deposited fines on two current accounts abroad, in the name of the ex-Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff,” Waak said.

“In reality, however, Batista said that the account is in his name, but that money was going to be allocated to Lula and Dilma’s campaigns.”

The correction did not repair damage caused to Lula and Rousseff’s image, since many international agencies and foreign newspapers have since echoed Globo’s false claim, failing to correct them.

Last Friday, Batista confessed that de-facto President Michel Temer had requested and received bribes from his company since 2010.

Batista, the protagonist of a wiretapping scandal incriminating the unelected Brazilian leader, exposed the arrangement to the Brazilian attorney general’s office. He claims he paid Temer roughly US$1 million in 2010 alone. Another US$921,000 was requested by the embattled president in 2012 to support Gabriel Chalita’s bid to become mayor of Sao Paulo.

Batista also claimed that during the impeachment process against ousted former President Dilma Rousseff, Temer requested a payment of more than US$85,000 dollars for online political marketing expenditure.

Temer has repeated that he has no intention of resigning. Contrarily, he’s considering a lawsuit against the owner of JBS in order to strengthen his defense.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

President Emmanuel Macron: Reversing Five Decades of Working-Class Power

By James Petras :: 05.21.2017 

Introduction

Whatever has been written about President Emmanuel Macron by the yellow or the respectable press has been mere trivia or total falsehood. Media lies have a purpose that goes beyond Macron’s election. Throughout Europe and North America, bankers and manufacturers, NATO, militarists and EU oligarchs, media moguls and verbal assassins, academics and journalists, all characterized the election victory of Macron as a ‘defeat of fascism’ and the ‘triumph of the French people’.

Macron and ‘What People’?

First of all, Macron received only 46% of the actual vote. Over 54% of eligible French voters either abstained, spoiled their ballots or voted for Marine Le Pen, the nationalist populist. In other words, 26 million voters rejected or ignored Macron’s candidacy versus 20.6 million voters who endorsed him. This was despite an unremitting push for Macron from the entire French and European mass media, all of the major political parties and the vast majority of academics, journalists, publishers, undertakers and doormen.

In a word: Emmanuel Macron is a minority President, unpopular to most of the French electorate.

There are some very sound political and socio-economic reasons why Macron’s candidacy would be rejected by most of the French people, while receiving full support from the ruling class.

Secondly, there was a phony image of Macron as the ‘novice, untainted by old-line corrupt politics’. The financial and business press busily painted an image of the virgin Manny Macron bravely prepared to introduce ’sweeping reforms’ and rescue France – a sort of banker-Joan of Arc against the veteran ‘fascist’ Marine Le Pen and her ‘deplorable’ supporters.

The reality is that Macron has always been a highly experienced member of the most elite financial-political networks in France. He served as a senior executive in the notorious Rothschild banking conglomerate. In a few short years ‘Saint Manny’ had accumulated millions of euros in commissions from fixing corporate deals.

Macron’s financial colleagues encouraged him to accept the post of Economic Minister under the decrepit regime of President Francois Hollande. Banker Macron helped the ‘Socialist’ President Hollande shed any of his party’s pro-labor pretensions and embrace a radical anti-worker agenda. As Economic Minister Macron implemented a 40 billion euro tax cut for businesses and proposed far-right legislation designed to weaken workers collective bargaining rights.

The Hollande-Macron proposals faced massive opposition in the streets and parliament. With the government’s popular support falling to the single digits, the anti-labor legislation was withdrawn or diluted … temporarily. This experience inspired Macron to re-invent (or re-virginize) himself: From hard-assed rightwing hack, he emerged the novice politico claiming to be ‘neither right nor left’.

The totally discredited ‘Socialist’ Hollande, following the example of France’s financial elite, supported presidential candidate Macron. Of course, whenever Macron spoke of representing ‘all France’, he meant ‘all’ bankers, manufacturers and rentier oligarchs – the entire capitalist sector.

In the first round of presidential voting, Macron’s candidacy divided the elites: Bankers were split between Macron and Fillon, while many social democrats, trade union officials and ‘identitarian’-single issue sectarians would end up voting Macron.

Macron won by default: Fillon, his far right bourgeois rival was snared in a political- swindle involving ‘family’ and his finicky supporters switched to Macron. The Socialists defected from their discredited Hollande to the ‘reconstructed choirboy’ Macron. Meanwhile, the ‘left’ had rediscovered ‘anti-fascism’: They opposed the national-populist Le Pen and slithered under the bankers’ backdoor to vote for Macron.

Almost one-third of the French electorate abstained or showed their contempt by spoiling their ballots.

Throughout the election theatrics, the media breathlessly reported every frivolous ‘news’ item to polish the halo of their ‘novice’ Macron. They swooned over the ‘novelty’ of Macron’s teen age ‘love affair’ and subsequent marriage to his former schoolteacher. The media played-up the charmingly ‘amateurish’ nature of his campaign staff, which included upwardly mobile professionals, downwardly mobile social democrat politicos and ‘off the street’ volunteers. The mass media downplayed one critical aspect: Macro’s historic ties to the big bankers!

Behind the carefully crafted image of a ‘political outsider’, the steely eyed Macron was never influenced by the swooning media propaganda: He remained deeply committed to reversing fifty years of working class advances in France in favor of the financial class.

Macron’s Power Grab : En Marche to Defeat the Working Class

Immediately upon his election, Macron presented his first major piece of legislation: The ‘liberalization’ (reversal) of France’s progressive and socially protective labor laws.

President Macron promised to eliminate industry-wide labor-capital negotiations, in favor of factory-by-factory negotiations. Undermining industry-wide collective power means that each monopoly or conglomerate can dominate and isolate workers in their work place. Macron envisions a complete shift of power into the hands of capital in order to slash wages, increase work hours and reduce regulations on workplace safety and worker health. The proposed anti-labor laws represent a return of capitalist power to the golden age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – precisely why the financial elite anointed Macron as ‘President of all France’.

Even more important, by destroying a unified, labor movement and the power of workers’ solidarity, Macron will be free to radically restructure the entire socio-economic system in favor of capital!

Concentrating all power and profits in the hands of the capitalist class, Macron’s legislative agenda will free him to fire over 150,000 public employees, drastically reduce public spending and investment and privatize critical public financial, energy and industrial sectors.

Macron will shift the balance of power further away from labor in order to increase profits, reduce middle and working class social, health and educational services and to decrease corporate taxes from 33.3% to 25%.

Macron’s plan will strengthen the role of the French financial elite within the European Union’s oligarchical structure and allow the bankers to impose harsh ‘austerity’ policies throughout Europe.

In the sphere of foreign and military affairs, Macron fervently supports NATO. His regime will back the aggressive US military policies toward Russia and the Middle East – especially the violent breakup of Syria.

President Macron’s reactionary, ‘liberalizing’ agenda will require his party and allies to gain a majority in next month’s parliamentary elections (June 2017). His strategy will consist of ‘diversity in appearance and hard, single-minded reactionary policies in content’.

The ‘diverse’ groups and individuals, allied with Macron, are largely composed of fragmented collections of opportunists and discredited politicos mainly in search of office. Under Macron, the parliament will include everything from old-line rightwing social democrats, as well as single-issue environment and gender opportunists, allied with conservatives looking for a chance to finally savage France’s labor laws.

If successful in the coming elections, Macron’s parliament will legitimize the policies of his far right Prime Minister and Cabinet. If Macron fails to secure an outright majority, he is sure to patch together a coalition with veteran right-wing politicos, which, of course, will be ‘balanced’ with 50% women. Macron’s coalition of dinosaurs and ‘women’ will eagerly smash the rights and living standards of all workers – regardless of gender!

Macron hopes to win sufficient parliamentary votes to negotiate alliances with the traditional conservative parties and the rump of the Socialist Party to consolidate the rule of the Troika: the bankers, the EU and NATO.

President Macron: By the Ballot or the Bullet

There is no doubt that the French working class, the salaried public and private employees, the unemployed youth, students and public health workers will take to the streets, with the backing of 60% or more of the public, including the 33% who voted for Marine Le Pen.

Strikes, general and partial, of long and short duration, will confront the Macron regime and its far right, self-styled ‘transformative’ agenda.

Rothschild’s errand boy, Manny Macron cannot mobilize supporters in the streets and will have to rely on the police. Many parliamentary backers are fearful of both the problem (strikes) and the solution (police repression).

The Corporate Elite: President Macron Adopts Napoleonic Decrees

In 2016 when Macron was the Economic Minister in the President Francois Hollande’s regime, he introduced a new regressive labor policy dubbed the ‘El Khomri’ law (named after the reactionary Labor Minister Myriam El Khormi). This led to massive street demonstrations forcing Hollande to withdraw the legislation. Now as President, Macron proposes a far more rigid and destructive labor law, which his corporate colleagues insist he implement by the ‘ballot’ if possible or the ‘billy club’ if necessary. In other words, if he cannot win the support of the National Assembly, he will implement the labor law by presidential decree.

The President of MEDEF (Mouvement des Entreprises de France), the employers’ federation, Pierre Gattaz, has demanded immediate implementation of policies to crush labor. Macron will outlaw labor protests via presidential decree and cut parliamentary debate in order to transform the elite’s ‘El Dorado’ of all (labor) reforms (sic) into reality.

The entire leadership of the capitalist class and financial press backs Macron’s bid to govern by decree as a ‘good idea in the circumstances’, (Financial Times, 5/10/17, pg. 2). Macron’s ‘Napoleonic’ pretentions will inevitably deepen class polarization and strengthen ties between the militant trade unions and Le Pen’s industrial working class supporters.

We face an approaching time of open and declared class war in France.

Conclusion

Reality has quickly cut through the lies about the origin of Emmanuel Macron’s electoral victory. Brutal police truncheons, wielded in defense of Macron’s election triumph, will further reveal the real faces of French ‘fascism’ better than any editorial by the French ‘left’. The fascists are not to be found among Le Pen’s working class voters!

The fools within the French academia, who backed the Rothschild candidate in the name of ‘fighting fascism at all cost’, will soon find themselves wandering among the workers’ street barricade, dodging the clouds of teargas, on the way to their cafes and computers.

The ruling class chose Macron because they know he will not back down in the face of street demonstrations or even a general strike!

The intellectuals who backed Macron as ‘the lesser evil’ are now discovering that he is the greater evil. They are not too late to be . . . irrelevant.

Macron’s grandiose vision is to introduce his hyper-capitalist ideology throughout Europe and beyond. He proposes to transform the EU into a ‘competitive capitalist paradise under French leadership’.

Given the historic role of the French worker, it is more likely that Macron will not succeed in implementing his ‘labor reforms’. His decrees will surely provoke powerful resistance from the streets and the public institutions. When he falters, his parliamentary supporters will fracture into little warring clans. Factory owners will bemoan the workers who occupy their plants and bankers will complain that the farmers’ tractors are blocking the roads to their country villas.

The Germans and British elite will urge their ‘little Napoleon’ to hold firm, for fear the ‘French contagion’ might spread to their somnolent workers.

On the one hand, Macron’s successful decree can open the way for a transformation of capital-labor relations into a modern 21st century corporate state.

On the other, a successful general strike can open the door to a Europe-wide revolt. Macron’s enigmatic (and meaningless) slogan ‘neither right nor left’ is now exposed: He is the “Bonaparte of the Bourse”!

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Corporate Democrats Use Public Option to Derail Push for Single Payer

Single Payer Action | May 2, 2017

The corporate Democrats are using the public option to derail the newly energized movement to single payer.

The single payer movement is halfway to passing single payer in the House of Representatives.

One hundred and nine members of the House, out of a total of 218 needed for passage, have signed on the HR 676, the House single payer bill.

And single payer remains the hot topic at Congressional town halls meetings.

But the dominant corporate wing of the Democratic Party wants nothing to do with it.

That was made clear once again last week when a number of Democrats took to the microphones to savage President Trump and his repeal and replace push.

Attending the press conference were Senators Ron Wyden (Oregon), Patty Murray (Washington), Chris Murphy (Connecticut), and House members Bobby Scott (Virginia), Cheri Bustos (Illinois), Frank Pallone (New Jersey) and Richard Neal (Massachusetts).

It was typical Democratic rhetoric – totally ignoring the 109 Democrats in the House who had signed onto single payer.

Toward the end of the press conference, the Democrats were asked whether any of them supported single payer and whether any of them would join their 109 colleagues in the House who had signed on.

None of the Democrats at the press conference came up to the microphone to support single payer, although one of them, Bobby Scott, is a co-sponsor of HR 676.

Senator Murphy, the Senator from Connecticut, home to the private health insurance industry, was the first to pull out the public option deflection.

“I understand there is another conversation happening for an ultimate replacement for the existing health care system,” Murphy said. “But we are focused on stopping this (Republican) legislation because it is a real, current threat to our constituents.”

“Speaking for myself, I’m a supporter of the public option,” Murphy said. “Giving consumers the choice to join a Medicare system or stay with private insurance is the best way to go. That’s my preference. And let people choose.”

Wyden said that “any state that wants to set up their own public option using (Obamacare section 1332) has the legal authority to do it.”

When asked whether he was opposed to single payer, Wyden said that “a number of states are trying to do single payer as well through 1332.”

“Right now, I want to get on to the business at hand, particularly to hold down prescription drug costs and hold down insurance bills,” Wyden said. “And in places where there is only one insurance choice – and there are some of those – a state could set up a public option and they could move right away to do it.”

Single payer activists weren’t buying the public option.

“I call the public option what it really is, the profiteer’s option, because it is a relief valve for the private insurers,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Health Over Profit. “They will keep the healthiest enrollees and the public option will attract people who need health care.”

“We can’t delay the solution to our healthcare crisis,” Flowers said. “If Democrats want public support, they need to get more active in advocating for single payer. Those who don’t will show the public that they are on the wrong side of this issue.”

Kevin Zeese of Health Over Profit said that “the Democratic Party leadership is out of touch with the majority of Democrats in the House who have signed on to HR 676 and with the super majority of their voters who support National Improved Medicare for All.”

“It’s not a surprise that Senator Wyden is representing the medical industry and not the people by introducing a public option,” Zeese said. “Senator Wyden is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, the most corrupt committee in the Senate.”

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Adviser and Son-in-Law Fails to Report Dealings With Soros, Goldman Sachs

Sputnik – May 2, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner did not disclose existing business connections with the investment firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and billionaires George Soros and Peter Thiel, media reported on Tuesday.

Kushner holds shares of a New York-based real-estate financial firm Cadre that works on a number of project with Goldman Sachs and prominent investors, including Soros, The Wall Street Journal reported citing securities filings.

Trump’s son-in-law also failed to report nearly $1 billion in loans from more than 20 lenders to his corporations and properties, according to the filings. Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick said his client disclosed his ownership of BFPS Ventures LLC, which is a housing company for Cadre.

Since Trump took office in January, US media and lawmakers have detailed a number of his and his family’s business dealings and possible conflicts of interest. In April, Senator Michael Bennet suggested foreign individuals, entities and governments may patronize Trump businesses to influence the White House policies.

Kushner is a former real estate developer who began advising Trump and meeting foreign leaders after the November election. He was named to an official White House position on January 9, the same day he announced he would step down as CEO of the Kushner Companies.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 2 Comments

Brazil’s Odebrecht Gave Argentina’s Macri US$500k For Presidential Run

teleSUR | April 30, 2017

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri received US$500,000 from Brazil’s Odebrecht construction firm for his 2015 electoral campaign, Argentine daily La Nacion revealed on Sunday.

The donation was processed through Odebrecht’s Braksem SA branch, and appeared in Macri’s party 2015 balance record. The company defended the move as “totally legal,” saying the sum of money was for the purchase of cutlery for a fundraising dinner that Macri’s Cambiemos coalition organized in March of that year.

“Braksem belongs to Odebrecht, it’s dedicated to the petrochemical market, with a branch in Argentina,” said the paper. “The Brazilian giant’s strategy was to have this lower-profile branch’s name appear in order to avoid public exposure.”

The leak comes after Odebrecht admitted it funded the electoral campaigns of other Latin American presidents, including Colombia’s current President Juan Manuel Santos and Peru’s former President Ollanta Humala.

Macri was also one of the main figures involved in the Panama Papers scandal after a leak from a company revealed how world leaders had thousands of offshore companies in tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

For 2015, Macri declared his fortune as being worth US$110 million to Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office, an increase of 100 percent from the US$52 million he reported for the 2014 fiscal year. Following the Panama Papers leak, Macri admitted to having over US$18 million in tax havens.

Macri’s government has proposed a tax amnesty bill, which has been approved by the country’s congress. This controversial law is aimed to shield tax evaders who have undeclared holdings and assets while offering them lower taxes in order for them to bring assets to the country.

At Macri’s request, the law excluded any relatives of officials who have engaged in money laundering or have undeclared assets abroad from legal responsibilities, a caveat that critics say is a clear wink at his own father and siblings.

Earlier this month, polls found that Macri’s approval rate dropped to 24 percent, with 54 percent of Argentines polled saying they did not trust him.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Confirmed: the crucial role of Chilean media mogul on US plan to overthrow Allende

Failed Evolution | April 30, 2017

Media mogul Agustin Edwards Eastman, who was widely regarded as the Rupert Murdoch of Chile, died on April 24, at age 89, leaving a legacy of close collaboration with Henry Kissinger and the CIA in instigating and supporting the September 11, 1973, military coup. Edwards was the only Chilean—civilian or military—known to meet face-to-face with CIA Director Richard Helms in September 1970 in connection with plans to instigate regime change against Socialist leader Salvador Allende, who had just been elected president.

Declassified CIA and White House documents posted today by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University show conclusively what Edwards repeatedly denied – that he and his newspaper, El Mercurio, became a critical part of U.S. plans to foment a military coup against President Allende.

National Security Archive

Key points:

  • Edwards’ extraordinary influence on U.S. policy and CIA intervention in Chile did not stop there. When CIA covert action—which included the assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider—failed to block Salvador Allende’s inauguration, the Edwards media empire became the leading clandestine collaborator in fomenting a military coup d’etat. President Nixon personally authorized covert CIA funding to sustain El Mercurio so that it could become a media megaphone of opposition, agitation and misinformation against the Allende government. In the aftermath of Allende’s overthrow, the CIA explicitly credited its media propaganda project in Chile for playing “a significant role in setting the stage for the military coup of 11 September 1973,” and continued to secretly funnel money to the Edwards group so that El Mercurio could “present the Junta in the most positive light for the Chilean public.
  • During his lengthy conversation with CIA Director Helms and one of his top aides, Kenneth Millian, Edwards not only pushed for a U.S.-backed, preemptive, coup to block the inauguration of the duly elected next president of Chile, Salvador Allende; he also provided detailed intelligence on potential coup plotters in the Chilean armed forces and discussed “timing for possible military action.” According to the CIA memorandum of conversation with Edwards, titled “Discussion of Chilean Political Situation,” they systematically reviewed the strength and coup potential of each branch of the military.
  • After the meeting with the CIA director, Edwards stayed in Washington for a number of days to continue to share more detailed information with agency officials as the CIA mobilized to implement President Nixon’s orders to orchestrate a coup. On September 18, Helms reported to Kissinger that “Further conversations and a more exhaustive debriefing are going on with Mr. Edwards right now.
  • Henry Kissinger, according to declassified transcripts of his telephone calls, attempted to arranged an ultra-secret meeting between Edwards and President Nixon. On the evening of September 14, 1970, Kissinger called Nixon’s scheduler, Stephen Bull, and requested that Edwards quietly be ushered into the Oval Office before a meeting Nixon had scheduled the next morning with the deputy chairman of the German Christian Democratic Union party, Gerhard Schroeder. “Does Edwards need more than 15 minutes?” Bull asked. “Absolutely not,” Kissinger replied. “We will schedule you from 9:15 to 10:00,” Bull stated. “In that 45 min[ute] period we will do Edwards at the beginning and then bring in Schroeder.” Kissinger asked for the Schroeder meeting to start at 9:45. To keep the Nixon-Edwards meeting secret, Kissinger then instructed Bull: “don’t let [Edwards and Schroeder] meet. Get Edwards out.
  • President Nixon personally authorized over $1 million dollars in September 1971 “to keep the paper [El Mercurio ] going.” (The initial funding amounted to the considerable sum of 67 million escudos.) CIA and White House documents show that the Edwards media group received almost $2 million in covert CIA funds between the fall 1971 and May 1972. The money was used to pay El Mercurio’s bills and debts, and cover the “monthly operating deficits” in order to assist opposition forces—El Mercurio “does help give heart to the opposition forces,” states a memo to Henry Kissinger—and to provide positive media coverage for the anti-Allende candidates in the March 1973 Congressional elections. In addition, CIA records reveal that the Edwards Group received secret funds from the ITT corporation in $100,000 increments through a Swiss bank account.
  • In May 1973, the CIA Station in Santiago identified “the El Mercurio chain of newspapers” as among “the most militant parts of the opposition” which “have set as their objective the creation of conflict and confrontation which will lead to some sort of military intervention.” The secret CIA cable continued: “Each [militant part] in its own way is trying to coordinate its efforts with members of the armed forces known to them who share this objective.” The CIA credited its “propaganda project” in which El Mercurio and the Edwards media outlets were the key actors, as having “played a significant role in setting the stage for the military coup of 11 September 1973.” According to a secret CIA post-coup report, “Prior to the coup the project’s media outlets maintained a steady barrage of anti-government criticism, exploiting every possible point of friction between the government and the democratic opposition, and emphasizing the problems and conflicts which were developing between the government and the armed forces.”
  • After the coup, El Mercurio continued to receive covert CIA funding until June 1974. The CIA determined the funds were needed to assist the newspaper’s effort to help the Pinochet regime consolidate its power. “Since the coup, these media outlets have supported the new military government. They have tried to present the Junta in the most positive light for the Chilean public,” according to a CIA request for continuing covert monies for El Mercurio. “The project is essential in enabling the [CIA] Station to help mold Chilean public opinion in support of the new government…”

Full report, documents:

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB587-Agustin-Edwards-left-legacy-of-collaboration-with-CIA-in-Chile-Coup/

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Not a Probe of ‘Israel-gate’?

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 20, 2017

The other day, I asked a longtime Democratic Party insider who is working on the Russia-gate investigation which country interfered more in U.S. politics, Russia or Israel. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Israel, of course.”

Which underscores my concern about the hysteria raging across Official Washington about “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential campaign: There is no proportionality applied to the question of foreign interference in U.S. politics. If there were, we would have a far more substantive investigation of Israel-gate.

The problem is that if anyone mentions the truth about Israel’s clout, the person is immediately smeared as “anti-Semitic” and targeted by Israel’s extraordinarily sophisticated lobby and its many media/political allies for vilification and marginalization.

So, the open secret of Israeli influence is studiously ignored, even as presidential candidates prostrate themselves before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both appeared before AIPAC in 2016, with Clinton promising to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship “to the next level” – whatever that meant – and Trump vowing not to “pander” and then pandering like crazy.

Congress is no different. It has given Israel’s controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record-tying three invitations to address joint sessions of Congress (matching the number of times British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared). We then witnessed the Republicans and Democrats competing to see how often their members could bounce up and down and who could cheer Netanyahu the loudest, even when the Israeli prime minister was instructing the Congress to follow his position on Iran rather than President Obama’s.

Israeli officials and AIPAC also coordinate their strategies to maximize political influence, which is derived in large part by who gets the lobby’s largesse and who doesn’t. On the rare occasion when members of Congress step out of line – and take a stand that offends Israeli leaders – they can expect a well-funded opponent in their next race, a tactic that dates back decades.

Well-respected members, such as Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy (both Republicans from Illinois), were early victims of the Israeli lobby’s wrath when they opened channels of communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the cause of seeking peace. Findley was targeted and defeated in 1982; Percy in 1984.

Findley recounted his experience in a 1985 book, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, in which Findley called the lobby “the 700-pound gorilla in Washington.” The book was harshly criticized in a New York Times review by Adam Clymer, who called it “an angry, one-sided book that seems often to be little more than a stringing together of stray incidents.”

Enforced Silence

Since then, there have been fewer and fewer members of Congress or other American politicians who have dared to speak out, judging that – when it comes to the Israeli lobby – discretion is the better part of valor. Today, many U.S. pols grovel before the Israeli government seeking a sign of favor from Prime Minister Netanyahu, almost like Medieval kings courting the blessings of the Pope at the Vatican.

During the 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu viewed with suspicion, traveled to Israel to demonstrate sympathy for Israelis within rocket-range of Gaza while steering clear of showing much empathy for the Palestinians.

Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu

In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney tried to exploit the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship by stopping in Israel to win a tacit endorsement from Netanyahu. The 2016 campaign was no exception with both Clinton and Trump stressing their love of Israel in their appearances before AIPAC.

Money, of course, has become the lifeblood of American politics – and American supporters of Israel have been particularly strategic in how they have exploited that reality.

One of Israel’s most devoted advocates, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has poured millions of dollars in “dark money” into political candidates and groups that support Israel’s interests. Adelson, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb inside Iran to coerce its government, is a Trump favorite having donated a record $5 million to Trump’s inaugural celebration.

Of course, many Israel-connected political donations are much smaller but no less influential. A quarter century ago, I was told how an aide to a Democratic foreign policy chairman, who faced a surprisingly tough race after redistricting, turned to the head of AIPAC for help and, almost overnight, donations were pouring in from all over the country. The chairman was most thankful.

The October Surprise Mystery

Israel’s involvement in U.S. politics also can be covert. For instance, the evidence is now overwhelming that the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister Menachem Begin played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980 strike a deal with Iran to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages before Election Day.

Begin despised Carter for the Camp David Accords that forced Israel to give back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin also believed that Carter was too sympathetic to the Palestinians and – if he won a second term – would conspire with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to impose a two-state solution on Israel.

Begin’s contempt for Carter was not even a secret. In a 1991 book, The Last Option, senior Israeli intelligence and foreign policy official David Kimche explained Begin’s motive for dreading Carter’s reelection. Kimche said Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Kimche continued, “This plan prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge must rank as a unique attempt in United States diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”

But Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”

In a 1992 memoir, Profits of War, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe also noted that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

Ben-Menashe was among a couple of dozen government officials and intelligence operatives who described how Reagan’s campaign, mostly through future CIA Director William Casey and past CIA Director George H.W. Bush, struck a deal in 1980 with senior Iranians who got promises of arms via Israel in exchange for keeping the hostages through the election and thus humiliating Carter. (The hostages were finally released on Jan. 20, 1981, after Reagan was sworn in as President.)

Discrediting History

Though the evidence of the so-called October Surprise deal is far stronger than the current case for believing that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign, Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media have refused to accept it, deeming it a “conspiracy theory.”

One of the reasons for the hostility directed against the 1980 case was the link to Israel, which did not want its hand in manipulating the election of a U.S. president to become an accepted part of American history. So, for instance, the Israeli government went to great lengths to discredit Ben-Menashe after he began to speak with reporters and to give testimony to the U.S. Congress.

When I was a Newsweek correspondent and first interviewed Ben-Menashe in 1990, the Israeli government initially insisted that he was an impostor, that he had no connection to Israeli intelligence.

However, when I obtained documentary evidence of Ben-Menashe’s work for a military intelligence unit, the Israelis admitted that they had lied but then insisted that he was just a low-level translator, a claim that was further contradicted by other documents showing that he had traveled widely around the world on missions to obtain weapons for the Israel-to-Iran arms pipeline.

Nevertheless, the Israeli government along with sympathetic American reporters and members of the U.S. Congress managed to shut down any serious investigation into the 1980 operation, which was, in effect, the prequel to Reagan’s Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal of 1984-86. Thus, U.S. history was miswritten. [For more details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen NarrativeSecrecy & Privilege; and Trick or Treason.]

Looking back over the history of U.S.-Israeli relations, it is clear that Israel exercised significant influence over U.S. presidents since its founding in 1948, but the rise of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party in the 1970s – led by former Jewish terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir – marked a time when Israel shed any inhibitions about interfering directly in U.S. politics.

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin

Much as Begin and Shamir engaged in terror attacks on British officials and Palestinian civilians during Israel’s founding era, the Likudniks who held power in 1980 believed that the Zionist cause trumped normal restraints on their actions. In other words, the ends justified the means.

In the 1980s, Israel also mounted spying operations aimed at the U.S. government, including those of intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, who fed highly sensitive documents to Israel and – after being caught and spending almost three decades in prison – was paroled and welcomed as a hero inside Israel.

Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the photo from his U.S. Naval Intelligence ID

A History of Interference

But it is true that foreign interference in U.S. politics is as old as the American Republic. In the 1790s, French agents – working with the Jeffersonians – tried to rally Americans behind France’s cause in its conflict with Great Britain. In part to frustrate the French operation, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In the Twentieth Century, Great Britain undertook covert influence operations to ensure U.S. support in its conflicts with Germany, while German agents unsuccessfully sought the opposite.

So, the attempts by erstwhile allies and sometimes adversaries to move U.S. foreign policy in one direction or another is nothing new, and the U.S. government engages in similar operations in countries all over the world, both overtly and covertly.

It was the CIA’s job for decades to use propaganda and dirty tricks to ensure that pro-U.S. politicians were elected or put in power in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, pretty much everywhere the U.S. government perceived some interest. After the U.S. intelligence scandals of the 1970s, however, some of that responsibility was passed to other organizations, such as the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

NED, USAID and various “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) finance activists, journalists and other operatives to undermine political leaders who are deemed to be obstacles to U.S. foreign policy desires.

In particular, NED has been at the center of efforts to flip elections to U.S.-backed candidates, such as in Nicaragua in 1990, or to sponsor “color revolutions,” which typically organize around some color as the symbol for mass demonstrations. Ukraine – on Russia’s border – has been the target of two such operations, the Orange Revolution in 2004, which helped install anti-Russian President Viktor Yushchenko, and the Maidan ouster of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

NED president Carl Gershman, a neoconservative who has run NED since its founding in 1983, openly declared that Ukraine was “the biggest prize” in September 2013 — just months before the Maidan protests — as well as calling it an important step toward ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Gershman called directly for regime change in Russia.

The Neoconservatives

Another key issue related to Israeli influence inside the United States is the role of the neocons, a political movement that emerged in the 1970s as a number of hawkish Democrats migrated to the Republican Party as a home for more aggressive policies to protect Israel and take on the Soviet Union and Arab states.

In some European circles, the neocons are described as “Israel’s American agents,” which may somewhat overstate the direct linkage between Israel and the neocons although a central tenet of neocon thinking is that there must be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel. The neocons say U.S. politicians must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel even if that means the Americans sidling up to the Israelis rather than any movement the other way.

Since the mid-1990s, American neocons have worked closely with Benjamin Netanyahu. Several prominent neocons (including former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser and Robert Loewenberg) advised Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign and urged a new strategy for “securing the realm.” Essentially, the idea was to replace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states with “regime change” for governments that were viewed as troublesome to Israel, including Iraq and Syria.

By 1998, the Project for the New American Century (led by neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan) was pressuring President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, a plan that was finally put in motion in 2003 under President George W. Bush.

But the follow-on plans to go after Syria and Iran were delayed because the Iraq War turned into a bloody mess, killing some 4,500 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bush could not turn to phase two until near the end of his presidency and then was frustrated by a U.S. intelligence estimate concluding that Iran was not working on a nuclear bomb (which was to be the pretext for a bombing campaign).

Bush also could pursue “regime change” in Syria only as a proxy effort of subversion, rather than a full-scale U.S. invasion. President Barack Obama escalated the Syrian proxy war in 2011 with the support of Israel and its strange-bedfellow allies in Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-ruled Gulf States, which hated Syria’s government because it was allied with Shiite-ruled Iran — and Sunnis and Shiites have been enemies since the Seventh Century. Israel insists that the U.S. take the Sunni side, even if that puts the U.S. in bed with Al Qaeda.

But Obama dragged his heels on a larger U.S. military intervention in Syria and angered Netanyahu further by negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program rather than bomb-bomb-bombing Iran.

Showing the Love

Obama’s perceived half-hearted commitment to Israeli interests explained Romney’s campaign 2012 trip to seek Netanyahu’s blessings. Even after winning a second term, Obama sought to appease Netanyahu by undertaking a three-day trip to Israel in 2013 to show his love.

Still, in 2015, when Obama pressed ahead with the Iran nuclear agreement, Netanyahu went over the President’s head directly to Congress where he was warmly received, although the Israeli prime minister ultimately failed to sink the Iran deal.

In Campaign 2016, both Clinton and Trump wore their love for Israel on their sleeves, Clinton promising to take the relationship to “the next level” (a phrase that young couples often use when deciding to go from heavy petting to intercourse). Trump reminded AIPAC that he had a Jewish grandchild and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Both also bristled with hatred toward Iran, repeating the popular falsehood that “Iran is the principal source of terrorism” when it is Saudi Arabia and other Sunni sheikdoms that have been the financial and military supporters of Al Qaeda and Islamic State, the terror groups most threatening to Europe and the United States.

By contrast to Israel’s long history of playing games with U.S. politics, the Russian government stands accused of trying to undermine the U.S. political process recently by hacking into emails of the Democratic National Committee — revealing the DNC’s improper opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign — and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — disclosing the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street and pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation — and sharing that information to the American people via WikiLeaks.

Although WikiLeaks denies getting the two batches of emails from the Russians, the U.S. intelligence community says it has high confidence in its conclusions about Russian meddling and the mainstream U.S. media treats the allegations as flat-fact.

The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as “fracking.”

The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge “Russian propaganda” (often conflated with “fake news”) from the Internet.

It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.

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

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the Democrats are Dead: DeLauro Says No to Single-Payer

By Russell Mokhiber | CounterPunch | April 19, 2017

If you want to know why the Democratic Party is dead, dead, dead, look no further than Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut).

She’s a member of the House Progressive Caucus, which as a group has endorsed HR 676, the single payer bill in the House.

A cool one hundred of DeLauro’s colleagues have co-sponsored HR 676, including a blue dog from Tennessee (Jim Cooper) and a member from Mississippi (Bennie Thompson) (See Single Payer Action’s running total.)

But not DeLauro.

We asked why, but her office did not respond.

DeLauro’s legislative aides have told constituents recently DeLauro would vote for single payer if it came to the floor.

But pushing single payer now is a diversion.

The imperative is to defend Obamacare from the Republican onslaught.

One DeLauro aide told a constituent that when he hears from constituents “Obamacare sucks, we need single payer — it shows they don’t understand the reality in DC that we cannot get a single payer bill even to a vote with the current makeup of Congress and we have to spend all our energy and focus defending what we have.”

But the same aides have said that HR 676 is not good enough — that it lets the Veterans Administration stand and therefore is not true single payer — signaling that she’s for a tougher single payer bill.

“Democrats who, like Rosa DeLauro, support the Affordable Care Act are out of touch with the fact that the ACA can’t be fixed, that the only way to solve our healthcare crisis is to get rid of private insurers and create a single publicly-financed plan such as national improved Medicare for All and that the majority of Democratic Party voters and the public in general support Medicare for All,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Health Over Profit.

“We recognize that Medicare for All is off the table no matter which of the major corporate parties is in power and that it will take an organized movement of movements to put it on the table and pass it. We cannot wait any longer for a real solution to the healthcare crisis. Every day, people across the country are suffering and dying from lack of access to necessary care. This is the most important reality — that people are suffering and dying needlessly in the richest country in the world because members of Congress are more concerned with politics than with doing the right thing.”

DeLauro supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary battle against Bernie Sanders.

Single payer fueled Sanders’ run through the primaries, but now Sanders is traveling the country with Democratic National Committee Chair and Clinton supporter Tom Perez on a “come together and fight back tour.”

In a joint statement announcing the tour, Sanders and Perez say they will speak out on minimum wage, climate change, infrastructure spending, immigration, tax reform — nothing about single payer.

(Sanders’ aides, who last year took DeLauro’s line and said that single payer was a diversion from defending Obamacare, now say that Sanders will introduce a single payer bill in the Senate sometime soon.)

The reason the 100 members of the House have co-sponsored HR 676 is because at every town hall meeting, single payer is the driving force.

DeLauro too is hearing it from her constituents in Connecticut.

But DeLauro and the four other members of the House from Connecticut — all Democrats– John Larson, Jim Himes, Joe Courtney and Elizabeth Esty — have yet to relent.

Not yet, Connecticut.

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

School-issued computers spy on children in US without parental consent – digital rights group

RT | April 18, 2017

School-issued computer devices – provided to one-third of school children across the US – collect excessive amounts of highly sensitive personal data on the students without parental consent or even prior notice, a new study finds.

Electronic devices distributed in US schools collect unprecedented amounts of personal data on children as young as five years old, according to a new report by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), dubbed ‘Spying on Students’ – the result of a two-year study.

The surveillance comes under the guise of “personalized education.” Roughly one-third of primary and secondary education (K-12) students have received various electronic devices. Many tech companies provide electronic devices for free or a steeply reduced fee, as they seek their share in the $8 billion education technology (ed-tech) market.

Ed-tech, however, can be described as “the world’s most data-mineable industry by far,” according to the report, as the devices use apps and software which collect highly sensitive personal information, including names, dates of birth, browsing history and location data of children. Providers of ed-tech services, however, often fail to protect sensitive data.

The researchers “investigated the 152 ed tech services reported as in use in classrooms, and found troubling trends in their privacy policies regarding lack of encryption, opaque data retention practices, and inadequate data aggregation and de-identification.” Only 118 of them had published privacy policies, while some sort of encryption was mentioned in only 46 of them, and de-identification or aggregation of user data was mentioned in 51. De-identification – the prevention of linking a person’s identity with information – was almost exclusively mentioned in connection with providing information to third parties about their services, according to the report.

The potentially dangerous devices are also often distributed without parental consent or notice. Parents sometimes do not receive any information about ed-tech until after the technology is implemented, according to the study.

“We were given no information about our first-grader receiving a device – a tablet – this year. And when we ask questions, there is little information given at every level,” the report quoted parents from Maryland as saying.

Teachers and school officials are also obliged to use the school-issued devices, often without their consent as well.

“Staff and student details – that is, full names and school email addresses – were passed to Google to create individual logins without consent from staff. I’m not sure about consent from parents,” a teacher wrote on social media, according to the report.

Parents who expressed privacy concerns were often not able to opt out of the programs, as the authorities for some reasons protected interests of ed-tech providers instead of users. For example, when a California teacher allowed a schoolgirl to use her own device instead of a school-issued device after her parents voiced concerns over her privacy, district officials intervened and prohibited such exceptions, according to the report.

“While schools are eagerly embracing digital devices and services in the classroom – and ed tech vendors are racing to meet the demand – student privacy is not receiving the attention it deserves,” the study concluded. “Meaningful improvements in student data protection will require changes in state and federal law, in school and district priorities, and in ed tech company policies and practices.”

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment