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What to Really Expect From the Government Shutdown

By Ron Paul | January 22, 2018

It’s deja-vu all over again, as baseball legend Yogi Berra might have said. The politicians and media are telling us the world is coming to an end because a “compromise” could not be made at the 11th hour to keep the Federal government in business.

Republicans blame Democrats for the shutdown over their insistence on legislation to benefit about 700,000 “Dreamers” — immigrants who were brought illegally in to the country as children. Democrats make the shutdown all about Donald Trump, hoping to gain political points from his unpopular status. The media headlines are recycled from the last phony “shutdown.” It’s all about “partisanship” in Washington, mainstream media tells us. The same pundits are on television demanding that the parties put aside differences and work together for the American people.

Don’t let the politicians and the media fool you. Despite the appearance of ferocious partisan warfare, the truth is that both political parties agree on all the important issues.

Both parties support perpetual, undeclared war.

Both parties voted last week to continue suspending the Fourth Amendment, granting President Trump and his Administration the “authority” to continue spying on all of us without a warrant for another six years. So much for Democrat talk that President Trump could not be trusted: they have entrusted him with the authority to spy on us for six more years!

Both sides agree on no spending limits for the warfare-welfare state. Both parties agree that the Federal Reserve should continue to manipulate our currency to the benefit of big banks, well-connected corporations, and Wall Street.

While they want to frighten us by claiming the shutdown will shut down the US military, making us less safe, the fact is Pentagon operations overseas will continue without pause. Defense Secretary Mattis assured us over the weekend that “daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our war fighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”

In other words the Pentagon will function as if there was no Legislative Branch to rein them in. But that’s not new. That’s been true for a long time!

Americans should understand that much of the Federal government is on auto-pilot. The deep state holds the cards no matter who is elected or how long the government is shut down. The CIA will continue arming terrorists and plotting to overthrow governments overseas. The “Justice” Department will continue handing out long prison sentences for people using marijuana even in states that have legalized marijuana. The NSA will continue spying on us without a warrant and telling us it is to keep us safe and free.

We are told that all “non-essential” personnel will be furloughed until Congress agrees to begin funding the Federal government again. In fact, the real “non-essential” personnel are most Members of Congress themselves! Perhaps their pay should be docked for each day they pretend to be in conflict. The only danger of that, of course, is that they would reach the inevitable compromise even sooner.

The only way average Americans will notice that the government is shut down will be high-profile closures of any national park or other such facility that Americans actually want to visit. That is their way of punishing Americans.

Who wins when a “compromise” is finally announced? Not the American people, that’s for sure! The winner will be, as usual, big government.

Copyright © 2018 by RonPaul Institute

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The NSA Is a Blackmail Agency

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute For Political Economy | January 21, 2018

The main function of the National Security Administration is to collect the dirt on members of the house and senate, the staffs, principal contributors, and federal judges. The dirt is used to enforce silence about the crimes of the security agencies.

The blackmail mechanism was put into gear the minute the news reported that the House Intelligence Committee had assembled proof that the FBI, DOJ, and DNC created Russiagate as a conspiracy to unseat President Trump. Members of Congress with nothing to hide demanded the evidence be released to the public. Of course, it was to be expected that release of the facts would be denounced by Democrats, but Republicans, such as Rep. Mike Conaway (R, Texas), himself a member of the committee, joined in the effort to protect the Democrats and the corrupt FBI and DOJ from exposure. Hiding behind national security concerns, Conaway opposes revealing the classified information. “That’d be real dangerous,” he said.

As informed people know, 95% of the information that is classified is for purposes that have nothing to do with national security. The House Intelligence Committee memo has no information in it related to any security except that of Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary, Obama, Mueller, Rosenstein, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, the DNC, and the presstitute media. The logical assumption is that every member of Congress opposed to informing the American public of the Russiagate conspiracy to unseat the President of the United States is being blackmailed by the security agencies who planned, organized, and implemented the conspiracy against the President of the United States and American democracy.

American insouciance is a great enabler of the ability of the security agencies and their media whores to control the explanations.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Twitter and Facebook and Russia: Consider the numbers

left i on the news | January 20, 2018

Remember how we were initially told that “Russia” (in quotes, because we have no idea who actually placed these ads, whether they had any relationship to the Russian government, or whether they were Russian at all) placed 3000 ads on Facebook? Only to learn later that 56% of them were placed after the election, 25% of them were never shown to anyone, 50% had ad budgets less than $3, and 99% of them had ad budgets less than $1000? Leaving approximately 14 ads seen during the election which had a budget exceeding $1000. And by the way virtually none of these ads mentioned Trump or Clinton at all; most dealt with issues like Black Lives Matter or gun rights. How that had an influence on the election is never quite specified. We’re told this is because Russia is trying to encourage “divisiveness” in America. As if we aren’t doing quite well on that score all by ourselves, with a little assist from FOX and MSNBC, and why that would effect that election anyway isn’t clear. Oh and most of those ads were geographically targeted, and some of the ones that were were targeted to non-“swing states”.

And then we were told by FB that those “Russian ads” reached “up to” 126 million Americans. There were 198 million Facebook users in 2016. According to Politico, 128 million people across the US generated 8.8 billion likes, posts, comments and shares related to the election. Which means that the ads reached 98.4% of all people who were posting or seeing posts about the election! Really? Bear in mind that are only 144 million Americans in the 18-65 age range, which is the default age range when you place an ad on FB (it can be changed of course). Which means that, according to FB, “Russian ads” reached a whopping 87.5% of all FB users aged 18-65. Again, really? Did you see any? I know I didn’t.

Now along comes Twitter with its own math challenges. They tell us they found 50,000 (!) accounts “linked to Russia”, which were followed, liked, or retweeted by at least 677,775 Americans, all of whom have received dire warnings from Twitter that their thinking may have been swayed by these tweets. 3,814 accounts were operated by alleged “Russian state operatives” connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a company allegedly “linked to” the Russian government (how has never exactly been specified). Twitter said these IRA accounts posted 175,993 tweets during the election period, and 8.4% of these were election-related.

Wait, what? This was the big attempt to influence our election, but 91.6% of the output of these alleged “trolls” couldn’t even be classified as “election-related” according to what were undoubtedly extremely loose criteria. So that’s not 176K tweets, but 15K tweets. Is that a lot? Well, to begin with that’s over an 18 month period, so we’re talking about fewer than 1K tweets per month, or fewer than 30 per day. What’s Twitter’s volume? According to them, more than 1 billion tweets about the election were sent out. 15K election-related tweets amounts to 0.0015% of that amount. Not 1%. Not a tenth of a percent. Not a hundredth of a percent One and a half thousandths of one percent.

And what about the daily rate of all tweets? There are 500 million tweets sent out every day. 21% of Twitter users are American, and I’m going to guess (because I can’t find the statistic) that they send out more than their share of tweets, so lets round up to 25% and say that Americans send out 125 million tweets/day (obviously people from other countries were also tweeting about the election, but we’re going to disregard that). So if these Russian trolls were sending out 325 tweets a day on all subjects (not just the election), that amounts to 0.00026% of the tweets on any given day. 2 and a half ten-thousandths of a percent of all tweets being sent out. Have you stopped laughing yet?

None of this, by the way, goes to the effectiveness of these FB ads or Tweets. If you’re following a rabidly pro-Trump account, chances are you’re either a rabidly pro-Trump person yourself, or perhaps the opposite just monitoring the opposition. How many neutral people whose minds were susceptible to be changed follow such accounts? There has yet to be any measurement, or for that matter even anecdotal accounts, of such things happening. “Well, I was going to vote for Hillary, but then I saw this Russian troll account tweet that Hillary lost the debate to Trump, so I changed my mind.” Really?

And now FB is going to let users rank news sources for trustworthiness. I can’t think of a worse idea. Trump supporters will rank FOX as credible and everything else as “Fake News”. The 99.5% of the population who have never even watched RT or listened to Sputnik will rank them as “untrustworthy”, because they’ve been told repeatedly that’s what they are, leaving the 0.5% of us who do to recognize they’re both as, or more credible, than any U.S. corporate media (and carry viewpoints we can’t get on the latter). Actually I can think of a worse idea, and that would be to let FB itself do the ranking. We’ve already seen what happens when Google does that, as progressive and left-wing sites, once easy to find when searching Google or Google News, have been harder or even impossible to find.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Is A “Great War” on Israel’s Horizon?

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | January 21, 2018

After more than a century the Zionists seem poised to deliver the coup-de-grace to Palestine, by annexing the West Bank. Limited in the first place to the settlements, it would be the forerunner to the annexation of the entire territory. The status of the Palestinian population would continue to be held in limbo until a permanent solution appears. After annexation, some might leave. The greater the number the greater the satisfaction for Israel, but two mass expulsions have taught the Palestinians that they must stay. There could still be a third wave of expulsions, with war again providing the smokescreen and, again, war is beckoning.

The Zionist founders never wanted anything less than all of Palestine. From the start they knew they would have to eject the indigenous population. The ‘binationalism’ of Martin Buber was a nice idea that had no traction in the political class. The intentions of the Zionist leadership had to be hidden until the colony had reached the point where it had the physical force to take Palestine over.

Weizmann and others proclaimed nothing but good intentions, nothing but wanting to live alongside the Palestinians and as for wanting a Jewish state, that was the furthest thing from their mind. Only in their diaries did they record what they really wanted, from Herzl’s wish to spirit the ‘penniless population’ out of Palestine to the conclusion in 1940 of Yosef Weitz, the director of the land settlement department of the Jewish National Fund that there was no room in Palestine for the settlers and ‘the Arabs’. The latter would have to go. These intentions were not anomalous but representative of what the Zionist leadership realised would have to be done if Palestine was to be theirs.

As the Palestinians would fight to the last, the land could be taken only by force. Step by step the Zionists were able to move forward towards this objective. The British helped by suppressing the Palestinian uprising in 1936-39, the first intifada, decapitating  the populist leadership that would have led the struggle against the Zionists in the 1940s. Thousands were killed and many more arrested.

The partition plan of 1947 did not represent the genuine wishes of UN members. It was imposed on the General Assembly by threats made to vulnerable members by the US and would never have passed otherwise. Israel benefitted from it politically but had no intention of adhering to its provisions, which would have left the Palestinians intact, three times the size of the Zionist settler community. The war of 1948 was a war of necessity: without the ethnic cleansing of Palestine there could have been no Israel.

The mass expulsions of 1948/49 were followed by a second bout of expulsions in 1967, followed by the slow strangulation of the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, with Israel using all means possible, military, economic and pseudo-legal. There were other wars, all aimed at consolidating and expanding the Zionist hold on Palestine and destroying Israel’s enemies: Suez 1956, Lebanon 1978, 1982 and 2006, Gaza on numerous occasions, along with innumerable border ‘incursions’ taking, altogether, the lives of tens of thousands of Arab civilians.

There was also a ‘peace process’, an initiative of the PLO, which Israel only followed up to see what it could get out of it. Launched in 1993 it was clearly finished as early as 1995, although the corpse continues to pulsate to the present day. The ‘peace process’ was a diplomatic ruse giving Israel more time to strengthen its hold on the territories taken in 1967. Yasser Arafat was accepted as a negotiating partner and when there was nothing more he could or would give, Israel turned the peacemaker back into a terrorist and killed him. Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen of revolutionary days) followed Arafat, taking on the role of Israel’s tribune in the West Bank, also only to be discarded once Israel no longer had any use for him.

On the back of endless settlement-building and Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (rejected by virtually the rest of the world), along with a subsequent cut in US aid to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees), the PLO is now threatening to ‘derecognize’ Israel. If this takes the ‘Palestine problem’ back to 1948, that is only appropriate, because Israel has never left it.

The time taken up from 1993 until now has allowed Israel to plant hundreds of thousands more settlers on the West Bank, whom it says cannot be removed without the risk of civil war. That might be true but the state put them there to stay, as they are bringing the Zionist project closer to fulfilment, and has never had any intention of removing them. Israel now intends to ‘legitimize’ what until it has called illegal settler ‘outposts’, as if there is any difference in international law between the complete illegality of the settler presence on the West Bank, whether in the settlements or in the outposts set up by the ‘hilltop youth’, running amuck whenever and wherever they please, beating, burning and destroying.  They are protected by the state and no wonder, as this is a state which has run amuck for more than seven decades.

The bellwether of the Zionist flock now is Naftali Bennett, the education minister, who has just spoken of ‘the end of the era of the Palestinian state and the beginning of the era of sovereignty’, by which he means Israeli annexation of the West Bank and sovereignty over all of Palestine. If there is a difference between Bennett, a likely next Prime Minister, and Netanyahu, it is only that the former speaks more plainly about his intentions. The glib Netanyahu, still seeing benefit in talking of a ‘peace process’, has others in his party to speak as openly as Bennett does. Tzipi Hotovely, for example, the Deputy Foreign Minister, also speaks of annexation: she can’t wait to see the Israeli flag flying over the Haram al Sharif and regards the former soldiers belonging to the protest movement Breaking the Silence as ‘war criminals.’

Bennett is only pointing in the direction Israel will be taking sooner or later. From the Zionist point of view the next substantial move has to be annexation. The peace tactic has been played out to the end, the two-state solution is dead (insofar as it ever lived), there is nothing more to be squeezed out of the Palestinian Authority and in Washington Israel has a friend, Donald Trump, who is delivering as much and more (recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) than any previous US president going back to 1948: only Truman’s recognition of Israel the moment the state was declared compares. What can come next now but annexation? Bennett thinks the tide is turning in Israel’s favour and insofar as backroom dealings with gulf governments and even more lavish support from the US, he is right.

But is this enough to think the game is over and Israel has won, game, set and match? Perhaps not: perhaps not at all. This issue is not just about the Palestinians and never was. It is an Arab issue, a Muslim issue, a human rights issue and a world issue. It has not gone away and it will not go away. Ahed Tamimi, slapping an Israeli soldier on the face after he struck her (did anyone notice? Certainly not the mainstream media) and now locked away indefinitely for this heinous crime, is the latest example of Palestinian fortitude in the face of oppression.

From the beginning, however brave and steadfast, the Palestinians faced forces which no small group of people could overcome on their own: the British, the Zionists, the United States and the enormous resources they have poured into the occupation of Palestine over the past century. However, Palestine is not just a Palestinian issue and not just a broader human rights issue: it is an issue that goes to the heart of Arab history and identity. The road back to Palestine would always have to run through the Arab world. That was clear virtually from the beginning. So far, two Arab governments (Egypt and Jordan) have signed ‘peace’ treaties with Israel. These paper arrangements between governments have no popular support in either Egypt or Jordan: it is not that their people do not want peace, but that they are not prepared to sacrifice Palestine to get it. There is a slumbering giant here which Israel seems to think will slumber forever. The people are the dynamite at the end of the wick. In the right circumstances and by the right leaders they can be mobilized, as they have been before.

As a racist state Israel has a long history of treating ‘the Arabs’ with contempt or thinking them not capable of doing what they ended up doing. The prime example is 1973 when the Egyptians launched a brilliant cross-canal operation and caught the Israeli troops completely by surprise. They broke and ran and had not Sadat betrayed Hafiz al Assad, by calling the Egyptian offensive off after a week, Israel could have been driven out of the Sinai and off the Golan Heights as well. Only further US intervention (it was already directly intervening by airlifting military supplies directly into Sinai) could have prevented an Israeli defeat. In occupied southern Lebanon, Israel suffered shock after shock. It was outthought and outfought by Hezbollah, and effectively cut and run in 2000. It had another go in 2006, and was humiliated again, which is why Israel is determined to destroy Hezbollah next time, even if Lebanon has to be buried with it.

Naftali Bennett was one of Israel’s soldiers in Lebanon. He projects a tough guy persona. ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my time and there’s no problem with that’, he has said.  Among ‘the Arabs’ he has helped to kill were the more 100 Lebanese civilians, many of them children, who had taken refuge in the UN compound at Qana, southern Lebanon, when it was shelled by an invading Israeli force in April, 1996. One man lost 31 members of his family, including nine children. Bennett was a member of the so-called ‘elite’ Maglan unit.  When his detachment was caught in an ambush by Hezbollah he called for help from an artillery unit. According to another officer, when he came on the line, Bennett was hysterical, but the shells came in and saved him, 13 exploding in the UN compound. Israel’s claim that it was a mistake was belied by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali, who filed a report with the Security Council showing that the bombing was unlikely to have been an error, given that the compound had been under reconnaissance by Israeli drones and helicopters. He lost his second term in office as a result, the US refusing to support him and backing Kofi Annan instead.

Bennett regards himself and his former military comrades as warriors. This is not an opinion shared by Hasan Nasrallah, on the basis of all the experiences Hezbollah has had with the Israelis. In a recent interview on Al Mayadeen television station Nasrallah derided the fighting capacity of Israeli soldiers. In his eyes the achievements of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine had shattered the myth of Israeli invincibility (a myth actually shattered at least as far back as the war of 1973). Hezbollah and allied forces had fought the takfiris for more than seven years in Syria and more than three years in Iraq. This was an enemy going into battle with squads of suicide bombers, an enemy ready to die ‘without limit’, compared to the Israelis whom, Nasrallah said, do not move forward unless they are preceded by armor, followed by ambulances and protected by fighter jets and helicopters overhead. ‘Such a soldier is defeated beforehand. He is a coward with no will to fight.’  Fighting the Islamic State was much more difficult than fighting Israel, which it was possible to defeat ‘bila shaq’ (without doubt). It was the human factor that gave the resistance the edge.

Nasrallah referred repeatedly to the coming ‘great war’ with Israel, which would involve not just the ‘axis of resistance’ (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and all organizations in the Arab world ‘that support this path’) but hundreds of thousands of Arab volunteers. Nasrallah said Sayyid Abd al Malik al Houthi had promised to send tens of thousands of fighters volunteers even if the Saudi-Yemeni war continued. This war, which Nasrallah has frequently said Hezbollah would carry across the armistice line into Galilee, and would stretch along the whole Lebanese and Syrian front with Israel, has been the central theme of all his recent interviews.

Israel’s strategy from the start will be the total destruction of Hezbollah as quickly as possible and as much of Lebanon as is needed to destroy Hezbollah. Air power will be the crux of Israel’s war strategies, as it has been in the past. This is what Hezbollah and its allies will have been working on for years to neutralize. That Israel is actively preparing for war is clear from the air and ground exercises it has held in the past six months, combining air, naval and ground forces, robotics, fighting in tunnels and the evacuation of civilians from the northern region up to the armistice line with Lebanon. The Israeli general staff has effectively acknowledged the poor performance of troops on the ground, in Gaza or in Lebanon in 2006 by increasing the ratio of soldiers and officers from a religious settler background, more strongly motivated to fight, it thinks, than young men from a secular background.

There is no doubt that the Israeli general staff analyses every word Nasrallah utters, takes him seriously and has respect for him on the basis of Hezbollah’s military achievements but little of what he says reaches the ‘western’ mainstream media. He is just the bushy-bearded cleric regularly presented as Iran’s proxy in Lebanon as if he has no mind of his own, rather than having one of the most impressive minds in the Middle East. Nasrallah never indulges in loose talk and talks only of the ‘possibility’ of a coming great war, so as not to alarm people, when clearly in his mind it is not just a probability but a war that will bring the historical confrontation with Israel to an end point. By inflicting a crushing defeat on its enemies, this is certainly what Israel will have in mind. Hezbollah is prepared and Nasrallah thinks it can win.

The very idea that Israel could be defeated on the battlefield has no place at all in a ‘western’ discourse built as it has been on media bias and centuries of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias. It would be regarded as unthinkable, nonsensical, and laughable. Israel has setbacks but it does not lose wars: the possibility does not exist in minds conditioned by endless media bias. Such a war should be regarded with dread: as Nasrallah says, no-one could say where it might not lead, but with all options for peace destroyed, the pendulum inevitably swings in this direction. Has Hasan Nasrallah drifted away from reality, talking of victory and the hundreds of thousands of fighters who will join this coming war, or does he know something that we don’t? He obviously knows many things that we don’t but to defeat Israel, its offensive and defensive air power would have to be neutralized. Have Hezbollah and Iran worked out how to do this? Is this the source of his confidence? We will have to wait for the war to find out.

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 4 Comments

The less-mentioned lives of Mrs. Krim

By Helena Cobban | Just World News | January 18, 2018

This week, US media have contained many glowing obituaries of a 91-year-old medical researcher called Mathilde Krim, who in the early 1980s played an apparently huge role in publicizing and destigmatizing the then-new disease of HIV/AIDS and in mobilizing funding for NGOs and research centers working to understand the disease and treat its many victims. Dr. Krim died on January 15.

The New York Times, for example, carried this obituary, covering more than half a page, that devoted nearly all its column inches to the many contributions Dr. Krim had made to AIDS research.

What that obit referred to only in passing was the role she had played in immediate post-1945 Europe as a gun-runner for the Irgun– described there only as part of the “Zionist underground” rather than (as would have been more accurate) an already well-known terror group.

Mathilde and JohnsonBut neither the NYT nor any other Western MSM outlet I have seen/heard has made any mention of the role Mrs. Krim played as a very close confidante to Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson during the crucial days leading up to and during Israel’s “Six Day War” of 1967 against its Arab neighbors.

In those days, Mrs. Krim’s husband (her second) was Arthur B. Krim, a prominent Hollywood lawyer who was Chair of the Democratic National Finance Committee. Conveniently, the Krims had a ranch in Texas right next to Pres. Johnson’s; and it was a barely hidden secret in leading government circles in Israel and the United States at the time that Mrs. Krim was extremely close to Lyndon Johnson.

In the days leading up to the war, the many forms of “signaling” conducted between Washington and Tel Aviv were extremely important. Israel’s Labor Party PM, Levi Eshkol, needed to win support from Washington for the strategy he pursued in the lead-up to this war, which he and his generals were planning in exquisite detail in those days. And he needed reassurances from Washington that Pres. Johnson would back him, before he and his generals finally launched the “blitz” against the Arab armies that destroyed nearly all their capabilities in the first hours of the war. Mrs. Krim was almost certainly one key channel for those messages. She and Johnson were at their ranches together in the days leading up to the war (with several in-person visits and phone calls recorded between them); and then she went to Washington DC when he did, once the war broke out.

Mrs. Johnson, meanwhile, was suffering from what was described as a massive headache, and stayed in Texas.

More details about Mathilde Krim’s relationship with Johnson in that crucial period can be found in Donald Neff’s 1985 book Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days that Changed the Middle East. I don’t have a copy to hand but shall look for one shortly.

The huge role that Mrs. Krim played in 1967 is well-known to everyone who has seriously studied US-Israeli relations at that time. After all, she was an integral part of a well-oiled pro-Israeli influence movement at the heart of the US political system, and the DC-Tel Aviv signaling process that she was part of worked strongly in Israel’s favor to transform not just the Middle East but the whole shape of global politics. (It also led to the misery of the people of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem; Gaza, and the Golan Heights: all of whom continue until today to live under the military occupation rule initiated by that war.)

So surely, that role Mrs. Krim played in the events of May-June 1967 should have received some mention in the news media this week? That it has not, thus far, probably tells us a lot about the extreme skittishness with which the Western MSM continues to address any topics related to the deep entanglement of so much of the US political elite– especially the Democratic Party– with their counterparts in Israel.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters

By James Bovard | CounterPunch | January 19, 2018

After violence in Charlottesville last August, a Washington Post article asserted that alienated right-wingers had “sparked the deadly standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho” in 1992. Ruby Ridge has recently been invoked by many people to show the need for federal crackdowns on dangerous extremists. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has largely forgotten – or expunged – the federal misconduct and deception that permeated that showdown. But it is difficult to comprehend the fear that many Americans have of the government without reconsidering Ruby Ridge.

Randy Weaver and his family lived in an isolated cabin in the mountains of northern Idaho. Weaver was a white separatist who believed races should live apart; he had no record of violence against other races — or anyone else. An undercover federal agent targeted him and entrapped him into selling a sawed-off shotgun. The feds sought to pressure Weaver, who often indulged in anti-government bluster, to become an informant against the Aryan Nation, but he refused.

After Weaver was sent the wrong court date and (understandably) failed to show up, the feds used any and all means to take him down. Idaho lawyer David Nevin noted that U.S. “marshals called in military aerial reconnaissance and had photos studied by the Defense Mapping Agency. They prowled the woods around Weaver’s cabin with night-vision equipment. They had psychological profiles performed and installed $130,000 worth of long-range solar-powered spy cameras. They intercepted the Weavers’ mail. They even knew the menstrual cycle of Weaver’s teenage daughter, and planned an arrest scenario around it.”

On August 21, 1992, six U.S. Marshals outfitted in full camouflage and carrying machine guns trespassed onto the Weavers’ property. Three marshals circled close to the Weaver cabin and threw rocks to provoke the Weavers’ dogs. As Weaver’s 14-year old son, Sammy, and Kevin Harris, a 25-year old family friend living in the cabin, ran towards the barking, a marshal shot and killed a dog. Sammy Weaver fired in the direction those shots came from. As he was leaving the scene, a marshal shot him in the back and killed him. Harris responded by fatally shooting a federal marshal who had fired seven shots in the melee. (The U.S. Marshals Service later gave its highest valor awards to the marshals who carried out the ambush.)

The FBI decided that Weaver was such a bad person that the Constitution no longer applied. Snipers from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team were sent in the next day and ordered to shoot to kill any adult male outside the Weaver cabin. The rules of engagement epitomized federal overreach against citizens whom the government despised. A 1997 federal appeals court decision derided the rules as “a gross deviation from constitutional principles and a wholly unwarranted return to a lawless and arbitrary wild-west school of law enforcement.” A 2001 federal appeals court ruling noted that “a group of FBI agents formulated rules of engagement that permitted their colleagues to hide in the bushes and gun down men who posed no immediate threat. Such wartime rules are patently unconstitutional for a police action.”

On August 22, 1992, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot Randy Weaver in the back after he stepped out of his cabin. As he struggled to return to his home, Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki Weaver, who was standing in the cabin door holding their 10-month old baby. A confidential 1994 Justice Department task force report was appalled that people were gunned down before receiving any warning: “The absence of a [surrender demand] subjected the Government to charges that it was setting Weaver up for attack.”

Weaver and Harris, who never fired any shots at FBI agents, surrendered after an 11-day siege. At their 1993 trial, federal prosecutors asserted that Weaver long conspired to have an armed confrontation with the government. The feds made the bizarre claim that his moving from Iowa to a spot near the Canadian border in 1985 was part of that plot. U.S. Marshal Dave Hunt, in later congressional testimony, repeatedly stressed that Weaver had criticized the federal government as a “lawless government.” Did federal agents feel compelled to silence any citizen who publicly proclaimed that the government is lawless?

An Idaho jury found Weaver not guilty of almost all charges and ruled that Harris’s shooting of the U.S. Marshal was self-defense. Federal Judge Edward Lodge released a lengthy list detailing the Justice Department’s and FBI’s misconduct and fabrication of evidence in the case.

In January 1995, FBI chief Louis Freeh announced that the FBI had completed its self-investigation, which effectively confirmed that the bureau was still immaculate. Writing in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, I bashed that ruling and the continuing cover-up. Freeh responded by denouncing my “misleading or patently false conclusions” and “inflammatory and unfounded allegations.”

In the summer of 1995, the FBI and Justice Department’s elaborate cover-up unraveled. (I acquired a copy of a damning 542-page confidential Justice Department report on Ruby Ridge and highlighted its findings in the Wall Street Journal.) A top FBI official was sent to prison for destroying key evidence. The feds in 1995 paid the Weaver family $3 million to settle their wrongful-death lawsuit.

When Boundary County, Idaho, sought in 1998 to prosecute the FBI sniper who killed Vicki Weaver, the Clinton administration torpedoed their lawsuit by invoking the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (which blocks local and state governments from challenging federal power). Seth Waxman, the Solicitor General of the United States, absolved the FBI agent because “Federal law-enforcement officials are privileged to do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen.” Federal judge Alex Kozinski was dumbfounded by Waxman’s claim, asking, “If the Constitution does not provide limitations for federal agents’ actions, then what does?”  Waxman did not have a good answer but, despite Kozinski’s eloquent dissent, the federal appeals court rode to the rescue of the FBI killer.

Most of the media coverage nowadays forgets that in the 1990s, Ruby Ridge was not simply a right-wing cause: the American Civil Liberties Union joined the National Rifle Association in condemning federal misconduct. CounterPunch’s Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair also slammed federal abuses at Ruby Ridge.

Fear of another round of Ruby Ridge-style executions haunts many anti-government protestors, especially out West.  In the 2014 Nevada showdown between federal agencies and ranchers, the Bundy family faced federal conspiracy charges (among other charges) because they summoned militia to defend them after claiming FBI snipers had surrounded their ranch. The FBI spent three years denying that their snipers were on the scene around the Bundy property, and Justice Department lawyers perennially scoffed at this claim. Late last year, the feds were forced to admit that snipers were there before the confrontation spun almost out of control. Federal judge Gloria Navarro denounced prosecutors’ “flagrant misconduct” and dismissed all charges. After the case was thrown out of court, Ammon Bundy reviled the feds: “They basically came to kill our family, they surrounded us with snipers. And then they wanted to lie about it all like none of it happened. And they were caught.”  The mission of the snipers around the ranch was unclear – or unproven – but it is understandable that their targets did not assume they had benign intent.

The specter of Ruby Ridge also drove the prosecution’s tactics in the Bundy case. A Justice Department brief last month revealed that prosecutors dreaded jury nullification – “not guilty” verdicts due to government abuses. That spurred prosecutors to suppress or wrongfully withhold thousands of pages of evidence that profoundly undermined the federal case. “They feared jury nullification, they got judge nullification,” as one online commenter quipped.

Political denunciations of extremism are no substitute for compelling federal agencies to obey the law and the Constitution. As long as many Americans believe that FBI snipers have a license to kill, they will assume the worst when federal agents are deployed. And as long as the Justice Department prattles about the privileges of federal agents to act unlawfully, the government deserves all the cynicism it reaps.

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at www.jimbovard.com

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Trump versus Wolfowitz

By Deena Stryker – New Eastern Outlook – 19.01.2018

Who today knows the name of Paul Wolfowitz? He was neither a Congressman, Senator, nor governor, yet until this month, official US ‘defense’ policy has borne his name.

A former President of the World Bank and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, following the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the neo-conservative he authored the “Defense Planning Guidance of 1992″, which came to be known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Intended to “set the nations direction for the next century,” its first objective was “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival.” In case the reader didn’t immediately get the message, it is spelled out as deterring’ potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’ by maintaining ‘unquestioned military superiority and, if necessary, employ[ing] force unilaterally.

Both Colin Powell and President Bush objected to this brash approach to world affairs, so before becoming known as the Bush Doctrine it was rewritten in milder language. Since 2009, at the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank, Wolfowitz has advocated for the troop surge in the Afghanistan War [and direct military strikes in Syria, continuing to lament an “absence of American leadership, as global pressure against the American-led international order intensifies.

Imagine now as candidate for the presidency, a real estate magnate enamored of ‘deals’ declares “Wouldn’t it be better if we could be friends with Russia?” From there, it’s a straight line to a Special Counsel being appointed by the Justice Department to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and President Putin.

Russia went from being a rival to be contained, to an ‘adversary’, then imperceptibly, an ‘enemy’, by supporting two breakaway regions of Ukraine after the US — in full view of the world — used Neo-nazi militias to carry out a coup against a democratically elected president who continued historical close ties with Russia. While loudly defending ‘human rights’, Washington claims that Russian-speaking Ukrainians are not entitled to separate themselves from a regime that flouts Nazi insignia, calls them ‘cockroaches’ (burning some alive), and makes use of their language illegal.

Given these events, could Russia count on that same Kiev government to respect the permanent lease of a naval station in Crimea dating back to Catherine the Great? Or might prudence have dictated it encourage Crimea’s Russian-speaking population to act on its long-held desire to once again be a part of Russia? Could the presence of ‘little green men’ to ensure that a referendum was carried out without interference possibly be construed as an attack? For daring once again to wield sovereignty over a territory that houses its only warm water naval base, Russia has become an ‘enemy’ of the West!

By a large margin, Americans believe that every effort should be made to avoid using nuclear weapons. They do not know that per the twenty-five year old Wolfowitz Doctrine, their country is building a case for nuclear war with the other major nuclear power. Russian ‘behavior’ (the word invariably spoken in the tone of an adult disciplining a child) in its own back yard justifies stationing NATO forces along its entire western border with Europe, then condemning its inevitable military build-up in response: Americans are gradually being accustomed to the idea that the inevitable use of nukes this situation could set off would be merely a temporary detour on the path of human progress.

Aside from ‘invading’ Ukraine’, Russia is guilty of having ‘interfered’ in the American election, now consistently referred to as ‘America’s ‘Democracy’. (Since the highest court baptized corporations as people, allowing them to spend unlimited money to help their candidates win elections, these are now referred to as Democracy with a capital D, the media breathlessly highlighting the amounts candidates raise, rather than the ideas they espouse.) This system had for decades brought to power candidates fully committed to the Wolfowitz Doctrine of unchallengeable American world hegemony. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton was its most fervent adept, consistently attacking the President of Russia.

Since the election, Vladimir Putin’s sin is not to have drawn a sword, but to have perhaps electronically tipped the scale toward peace and cooperation with the US — any other policy being tantamount to treason vis a vis the Russian people.

A century ago, Americans were taught to regard Russia as an ‘evil empire’ for having embraced a political philosophy intended to ensure the well-being of the 99%, (whether or not it succeeded). When, after seventy years of trying, it executed a stunning turnaround, allowing capitalism to flourish (creating many crooks and billionaires in the process), American policymakers could have applauded. Instead, fearing a capitalist Russia as much as a socialist one, the Wolfowitz Doctrine issued a year later, in 1992, called for the US to carve up the world’s largest country into loyal fiefdoms to ensure continuing American world hegemony.

Only now superseded by the Trump Doctrine, its purpose was to “prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union, whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” This grammatical construction, whether or not deliberate, conveys the fact that Russia’s crime is to possess resources that could enable it to dominate the US. When the Wolfowitz doctrine, intended to ensure that no country is ever able to challenge American hegemony, was leaked to the New York Times, Senator Edward Kennedy described it as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” Rewritten in softer language, when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan — neither of which could possibly challenge American hegemony – in its name, it became known as the Bush Doctrine.

The new version declared:

Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source… The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the re-nationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.

Continued uninterruptedly at the cost of thousands of foreign lives, some might see in this doctrine echoes of Hitlers plan for a thousand year Reich, but sadly, most Americans believe their country is ‘generously’ exercising ‘benevolent oversight’ over an innocent, rules-based order of its creation. Ready to condemn Donald Trump’s challenge to the principle of US world dominance, they approve the pursuit of those who, having helped him get elected, are accused of ‘collusion with a foreign power’ (foreign powers having been America’s nemesis since the days of its ‘revolutionary’ separation from Great Britain).

Although Russia and China are the only countries capable of challenging US dominance, they have made no threats. Vladimir Putin’s crime was to have proposed, in a landmark speech to the 2007 Munich International Security Conference, an international architecture in which the four or five regional powers would cooperate on the international stage to ensure peace and prosperity for all.

Stunningly, from the very first paragraph, Donald trump’s security doctrine lifts its principles straight from that speech, calling, exactly like his Russian counterpart, for a world of strong, sovereign, and independent nations, each with its own cultures and dreams, thriving side- by-side in prosperity, freedom, and peace—throughout the upcoming years...”

Since any form of power-sharing contradicts the Wolfowitz/Bush doctrine, the US responded to Putin’s Munich speech by fomenting a series of color revolutions, in Georgia in 2008, and in Ukraine in 2014. Then, it positioned NATO forces along Russia’s entire Western border as a prelude to carving it up before taking on the more formidable other major power, China.

It’s no surprise that candidate Trump’s foreign policy declarations set off a concerted effort to legally sideline him once elected. Erroneously convinced he is the boss, Trump ordered his Security Doctrine to be codified:

China and Russia want to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests. China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor. Russia seeks to restore its great power status and establish spheres of influence near its borders. The intentions of both nations are not necessarily fixed. The United States stands ready to cooperate across areas of mutual interest with both countries.

In addition, after being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned. China and Russia began to reassert their influence regionally and globally. Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime. In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.

As President Putin in his New Years’ address calls for pragmatic dialogue, Trump formally criticizes ‘authoritarian regimes’, while pursuing that same objective, which if pointed out, would be approved by voters of both parties. Unlike Bush/Cheney/Obama, Trump’s concern is with the pursuit of our commercial interests, rather than with power as an absolute. To secure these interests (while satisfying the arms industry), Trump calls for the United States to overmatch” its adversaries, described as:

.“the combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success and to ensure that Americas sons and daughters will never be in an unfair fight. Overmatch strengthens our diplomacy and permits us to shape the international environment to protect our interests. To retain military overmatch the United States must restore our ability to produce innovative capabilities, restore the readiness of our forces for major war, and grow the size of the force so that it is capable of operating at sufficient scale and for ample duration to win across a range of scenarios.”

This policy is justified by the desire to “create wealth for Americans and our allies and partners.(‘Enemies’ or even ‘rivals’ are in Trump’s view ‘competitors’, and prosperous states are stronger security partners who are able to share the burden of confronting competitors.”) –In support of this view, America’s ‘Priority Actions’ are:

  • REINFORCE ECONOMIC TIES WITH ALLIES AND PARTNERS: We will strengthen economic ties as a core aspect of our relationships with like-minded states and use our economic expertise, markets, and resources to bolster states threatened by our competitors.
  • DEPLOY ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON SECURITY THREATS: We will use existing and pursue new economic authorities and mobilize international actors to increase pressure on threats to peace and security in order to resolve confrontations short of military action.
  • SEVER SOURCES OF FUNDING: We will deny revenue to terrorists, WMD proliferators, and other illicit actors in order to constrain their ability to use and move funds to support hostile acts and operations.

INFORMATION STATECRAFT

Americas competitors weaponize information to attack the values and institutions that underpin free societies, while shielding themselves from outside information. They exploit marketing techniques to target individuals based upon their activities and interests.

COMMON THREATS. Fair and reciprocal trade, investments, and exchanges of knowledge deepen our alliances and partnerships, which are necessary to succeed in today’s competitive geopolitical environment.

Trump replaces unchallengeable world hegemony with an “America First” foreign policy [that] “celebrates Americas influence in the world as a positive force that can help set the conditions for peace and prosperity and for developing successful societies.”

We are not going to impose our values on others. Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions are built on free will and shared interests. When the United States partners with other states, we develop policies that enable us to achieve our goals while our partners achieve theirs.

Today, the United States must compete for positive relationships around the world. China and Russia target their investments in the developing world to expand influence and gain competitive advantages against the United States. China is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure across the globe. Russia, too, projects its influence economically, through the control of key energy and other infrastructure throughout parts of Europe and Central Asia. The United States provides an alternative to state-directed investments, which often leave developing countries worse off. The United States pursues economic ties not only for market access but also to create enduring relationships to advance common political and security interests.

PRIVATE SECTOR ACTIVITY AND RULE OF LAW. The United States will shift away from a reliance on assistance based on grants to approaches that attract private capital and catalyze private sector activity. We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements—projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping U.S. businesses. By mobilizing both public and private resources, the United States can help maximize returns and outcomes and reduce the burden on U.S. Government resources.

Here, Trump deliberately misrepresents an adversary: while most African countries welcome the fact that China builds infrastructure without requiring reciprocal purchases (unlike the US), Trump takes advantage of American ignorance to claim that:

Unlike the state-directed mercantilism of some competitors that can disadvantage recipient nations and promote dependency, the purpose of U.S. foreign assistance should be to end the need for it. The United States seeks strong partners, not weak ones. American-led investments represent the most sustainable and responsible approach to development and offer a stark contrast to the corrupt, opaque, exploitive, and low-quality deals offered by authoritarian states.

Continuing an apparent condemnation of authoritarianism, Trumps states that:

Actors have long recognized the power of multilateral bodies and have used them to advance their interests and limit the freedom of their own citizens. If the United States cedes leadership of these bodies to adversaries, opportunities to shape developments that are positive for the United States will be lost. All institutions are not equal, however. The United States will prioritize its efforts in those organizations that serve American interests, to ensure that they are strengthened and supportive of the United States, our allies, and our partners. Where existing institutions and rules need modernizing, the United States will lead to update them. At the same time, it should be clear that the United States will not cede sovereignty to those that claim authority over American citizens and are in conflict with our constitutional framework.

EXERCISE LEADERSHIP IN POLITICAL AND SECURITY BODIES: The United States will strive for outcomes in political and security forums that are consistent with U.S. interests and values, which are shared by our allies and partners. The United Nations can help contribute to solving many of the complex problems in the world, but it must be reformed and recommit to its founding principles. We will require accountability and emphasize shared responsibility among members. If the United States is asked to provide a disproportion- ate level of support for an institution, we will expect a commensurate degree of influence over the direction and efforts of that institution.

Although the menace of Soviet communism is gone, new threats test our will. Russia is using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of Americas commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments. With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region. Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors with threatening behavior, such as nuclear posturing and the forward deployment of offensive capabilities.

The United States will deepen collaboration with our European allies and partners to confront forces threatening to undermine our common values, security interests, and shared vision. The United States and Europe will work together to counter Russian subversion and aggression, and the threats posed by North Korea and Iran. We will continue to advance our shared principles and interests in international forums.

For Washington bureaucrats, who remain the same from one president to the next, Wolfowitz will always be the law of the land. Trips to Moscow are invariably construed as ‘political’ and criminalized by the FBI. Even at home, Americans are required to signal any encounter with Russians to the FBI! Saudi Arabia can bomb tiny Yemen to smithereens in the biggest ethnic cleansing ever, but talking to Russians can land you in jail. The Republican Party — which had been dragged kicking and screaming behind Trump in the 2016 election, is now vociferously demanding an investigation of the FBI itself, in order to derail its investigation of the President’s Russian ties.

Whether or not one applauds the election of Donald Trump, it should be obvious that if the nuclear great powers do not maintain friendly relations, the future of mankind is in jeopardy. Why should Russia’s ‘behavior’ in its own back yard justify plans for war? Why, instead of praising those who reach out to Russia, is the deep state threatening to ruin their lives? Why do those who hope that President Trump will not challenge North Korea to a nuclear exchange not also worry about the missiles we installed in Europe, to be launched against Russia should a US-dominated Old World decide it’s had enough of Uncle Sam’s ‘solicitude’?

The commercialization of every aspect of their lives has brought much harm to Americans, and now they need to stop focusing on their commercially-oriented president’s puerile tweets, and hope that in foreign policy, he manages to gain the upper hand over Wolfowitz before it’s too late.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • January 19, 2018

The war for dominance in the Middle East, following the crushing of ISIS, appears about to commence in Syria — with NATO allies America and Turkey on opposing sides.

Turkey is moving armor and troops south to Syria’s border enclave of Afrin, occupied by Kurds, to drive them out, and then drive the Syrian Kurds out of Manbij further south as well.

Says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “We will destroy all terror nests, one by one, in Syria, starting from Afrin and Manbij.”

For Erdogan, the Kurdish YPG, the major U.S. ally in Syria, is an arm of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey, which we and the Turks have designated as a terrorist organization.

While the Kurds were our most effective allies against ISIS in Syria, Turkey views them as a mortal peril and intends to deal with that threat.

If Erdogan is serious, a clash with the U.S. is coming, as our Kurdish allies occupy most of Syria’s border with Turkey.

Moreover, the U.S. has announced plans to create a 30,000-man Border Security Force of Kurds and Arabs to keep ISIS out of Syria.

Erdogan has branded this BSF a “terror army,” and President Bashar Assad of Syria has called BSF members “traitors.”

This U.S. plan to create a BSF inside Syria, Damascus declared, “represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.”

Does not the Syrian government have a point?

Now that ISIS has been driven out of Raqqa and Syria, by what authority do U.S. forces remain to arm troops to keep the Damascus government from reimposing its authority on its own territory?

Secretary of State Tillerson gave Syria the news Wednesday.

The U.S. troop commitment to Syria, he said, is now open-ended.

Our goals: Guarantee al-Qaida and ISIS do not return and set up sanctuary; cope with rising Iranian influence in Damascus; and pursue the removal of Bashar Assad’s ruthless regime.

But who authorized this strategic commitment, of indefinite duration, in Syria, when near two decades in Afghanistan have failed to secure that nation against the return of al-Qaida and ISIS?

Again and again, the American people have said they do not want to be dragged into Syria’s civil war. Donald Trump won the presidency on a promise of no more unnecessary wars.

Have the American people been had again?

Will they support a clash with NATO ally Turkey, to keep armed Kurds on Turkey’s border, when the Turks regard them as terrorists?

Are we prepared for a shooting war with a Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to hold onto a fourth of Syria’s territory in alliance with Kurds?

The U.S. coalition in Syria said this week the BSF will be built up “over the next several years” and “be stationed along the borders … to include portions of the Euphrates river valley and international borders to the east and north.”

Remarkable: A U.S.-created border army is going to occupy and control long stretches of Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq, over Syria’s objections. And the U.S. military will stand behind the BSF.

Are the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria really up to that task, should the Turks decide to cleanse the Syrian border of Kurds, or should the Syrian regime decide to take back territory occupied by the Kurds?

Who sanctioned this commitment to a new army, which, if Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies, and the Turks, do not all back down, risks a major U.S. war with no allies but the Kurds?

As for Syria’s Kurds casting their lot with the Americans, one wonders: Did they not observe what happened when their Iraqi cousins, after helping us drive ISIS out of Mosul, were themselves driven out of Kirkuk by the Iraqi army, as their U.S. allies watched?

In the six-year Syrian civil war, which may be about to enter a new phase, America faces a familiar situation.

While our “allies” and adversaries have vital interests there, we do not. The Assads have been in power for the lifetime of most Americans. And we Americans have never shown a desire to fight there.

Assad has a vital interest: preservation of his family regime and the reunification of his country. The Turks have a vital interest in keeping armed Kurds out of their border regions adjacent to their own Kurdish minority, which seeks greater independence.

The Israelis and Saudi royals want the U.S. to keep Iran from securing a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus to Lebanon.

The U.S. War Party wants us to smash Iran and remain in the Middle East forever to assure the hegemony of its favorites.

Have the generals taking us into Syria told the president how and when, if ever, they plan to get us out?

Copyright 2018 Creators.com.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump at One Year: His Fate May Hang on What He Does Next About Immigration

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.01.2018

When in 2016 Donald Trump mugged the bipartisan political establishment in the United States, there were three issues that put him beyond the pale:

  • Restructuring America’s trade relations to favor American workers and producers, not international corporations keen to dump their costly domestic employees and relocate abroad, sending in their products tariff-free; and
  • Stopping the migration invasion of the US, symbolized above all by building The Wall on the Mexican border – and making Mexico pay for it.

As Trump’s first year in office comes to a close, where do we stand?

War and Foreign Policy

The neoconservatives who have made a disaster of American policy for almost three decades are exultant that Trump is dancing to their tune. In the Middle East, “America First” has turned into “Israel and Saudi Arabia First” and a vendetta against Iran. While Trump has taken credit for the possible outbreak of peace between the two Koreas, that is a byproduct of the intransigence and bluster coming from Washington – which may resume as soon as the Olympics are over.

With respect to Russia, the picture is dreary and the trend worrisome. The absurdly named “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” passed last year with a bipartisan, veto-proof supermajority, stripped Trump of his constitutional authority to make policy toward Russia. A new round of legislatively mandated sanctions designed to block any possible outreach to Moscow by criminalizing contact with any Russian within screaming distance of the Kremlin is imminent. Early hopes of US-Russia cooperation in Syria against jihad terrorist have given way to a continued (illegal) US military presence east of the Euphrates, talk of a “New Syrian Army” (recycled Daesh and al-Qaeda terrorists, with a push to turn the CIA aid spigot back on), plausible Russian suggestions of a US hand in a drone attack on Russian personnel, and back to square one with “Assad must go!” Providing lethal weapons to Ukraine – which could entail American advisers on the ground near the conflict line in the Donbas – moves us closer to military confrontation.

All that said, there is a school of thought that says Trump is in so precarious a position vis-à-vis a Deep State working overtime to remove him (and if pushed too hard, might just “JFK” him), that he has no choice but to adopt a “rope-a-dope” strategy. Patrick Armstrong thinks that Trump is purposely undermining the imperial order bit by bit by degrading the narcissistic notion of US global “leadership.” This means Trump’s seeming to go along with his ubiquitous adversaries’ bellicose agenda to the Nth degree but in the process making the US less and less relevant.

Korea may be an example: bluster and threaten, so the panicked South reached out to the North. Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: the US is no longer the mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, and we defund the Palestinian Authority and the UN to boot. Threaten to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal: nervous Europeans distance themselves from Washington and cozy up to Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran, which may in turn lead to a diminished US enthusiasm for defending “disloyal” NATO allies. Double down on the failed Afghanistan non-strategy: blame Pakistan and cut off their money. Impose economic and financial sanctions with reckless abandon: an alternative international finance system is in the works.

In any case, among Trump’s three populist heresies from the bipartisan Swamp’s agenda, this is the least well articulated and least important to his base in Flyover Country, many of whom reflexively if ignorantly respond positively to anything that sounds “tough” and militaristic (“Support our troops!” – so how about we stop getting them killed and crippled in unnecessary missions?). Whatever Trump thinks he’s doing, as long as he doesn’t stumble us into a war somewhere like Korea, Iran, Ukraine, or Syria, things are still better than if Hillary had won.

  • Verdict after one year: Let’s call it a wash. But there’s still reason to worry.

Trade

Not much can be said about trade at this time. Maybe that’s good. There are solid America First people in the administration, such as U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, who heads the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, backed up by speechwriter Stephen Miller, the main nationalist-populist left in the Trump inner circle. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is generally counted in this camp. Perhaps a low decibel level means quiet progress.

Or not. The trade nationalists are at daggers drawn with the globalists and generals: National Economic Council chief Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The former two are ideological free traders and advocates for global corporations and banks. The latter favor the tried-and-failed decades-long policy of buying geopolitical and strategic advantage by taking it out of the hide of American workers and producers: we give our satellites like Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc., etc., free, non-reciprocal access to our domestic market, they hand over their sovereignty. What a deal!

Who will come out on top is unclear. Pulling out of TPP was a positive sign. What Trump does about NAFTA will be a critical, which is why the usual suspects are in full-throated hysteria over his threat to insist Canada and Mexico renegotiate it or to pull the US out. With respect to the 800-pound gorilla of America’s trade woes, an America First pitch to China ought to be getting us out of Korea and the South China Sea while rebalancing our enormously one-sided trade relationship. Unfortunately, the globalists and generals would rather do the opposite: keep sacrificing Americans’ economic well-being in an effort to “contain” China strategically.

Trade won’t matter much in the November elections amid happy-news perceptions of improved job creation, stock market record highs (though how much of that represents real economic growth and how much a ballooning investment bubble is open to debate), and higher consumer confidence. But over the long term, if this opportunity is lost to put Americans’ interests ahead of those of transnational corporations it might not come again.

  • Verdict after one year: It could go either way.

Immigration

Of the three Trumpish heresies from bipartisan orthodoxy, this is the most important. While for the establishment it ranks with foreign policy and is closely tied to it (“Invade the world, invite the world”), for Trump’s base it is head and shoulders above the other two. If not for his pledge to build The Wall and make Mexico pay for it, Trump never would have been the Republican nominee and won the presidency.

For the past week the American media and political class have been in a tizzy over precisely what scatological term Trump may have used in a closed-door White House meeting over DACA (“Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals,” Obama’s so-called “Dreamers”) and immigration policy generally, including funds to build The Wall. (There evidently is some question of whether the second syllable was “hole” or “house.”) Is this the worst word ever uttered in a non-public meeting in the Oval Office? At least nobody claims Trump said whatever it was he said like Lyndon Johnson, perched on the presidential throne.

Trump’s real offense was less the word itself than its implication that certain Countries ABCD are horrible places to live, while other Countries WXYZ are quite the opposite. And since Countries ABCD are pretty much full of black and brown people, and Countries WXYZ are almost exclusively the abodes of white and yellow people, he’s a racist for noticing the difference. Hence, the media and Trump’s critics’ frenzied repetition of the R-word word, as though it were a sort of magical incantation that at some point will cause him to crumble into dust.

There are over seven and a half billion people inhabiting this orb of woe. Probably somewhere in the range of 90 percent of them would dramatically improve their lives if they left where they are and moved to the United States. Aside from the clear benefit to the Democratic Party in welcoming spanking new voters, how does it profit the American nation to import mobs of impoverished and uneducated people to drag down wages, especially in low-paying job categories, and to consume a disproportionate share of public benefits?

Keep in mind too that because a very high proportion of migrants in this category would be considered “minorities” under US law, they and their progeny would immediately qualify upon arrival for affirmative action status in hiring and education. What kind of idiot country imports foreigners and then discriminates in their favor against the natives? For what purpose – to offset historical wrongs to which the newcomers were never victim?

Conversely, the President’s defenders suggest that what’s really needed is to switch from a country-of-origin and family-reunification basis for our immigration system to a merit-based system. Let’s take only the best and the brightest, from whatever place they hail.

A supposed merit-based system is a bad idea too. First off – let’s show a little altruism here – it would make the plight of the horrible countries worse. I am not generally a fan of Pope Francis with respect to his views on migration, but he has a point when he says, like Pope John Paul II before him, that a “brain drain” from Third World countries robs them of much of their best talent and hope for improving their own homelands.

However, to note that is not to suggest that importing cherry-picked high-achievers into the US is such a blessing for us. Just as we don’t need a migrant underclass, neither do we need an imported overlord class taking the best jobs from American kids who have busted their hump getting through school and in many cases gone heavily into debt.

This is a particular problem in high-tech and IT, where massive companies with near-monopoly market control – and consequently almost total obsequy from the bipartisan political class – demand the importation of ever more foreign talent, particular in STEM fields. This is despite serious uncertainty as to whether there are enough jobs even for Americans trained in those disciplines.

A special area of concern is pushback against the Trump Administration’s modest effort to trim the much-abused H-1B program for supposedly “temporary” workers, a transgression against both the left’s multiculturalism and corporate plutocrats’ demand for cheap, docile indentured labor. There exists a kind of reverse-nativism, according to which America needs a vital “transfusion of fresh blood” from lots and lots of bright, energetic foreigners. You see, American-born people are just too lazy and stupid to succeed on their own and deserve to be replaced. If you or your offspring lose out to an “insourced” immigrant or H-1B via-holder, maybe one who can trump you on an affirmative action preference, too bad for you.

Here’s a suggestion. Let’s nix both imported underclass and overclass and have a long (if not permanent) immigration timeout like we had from the end of the first Great Wave of immigration in the mid-1920s until the current wave was set off by the 1965 immigration act. For almost half a century, those who entered in that previous wave (such as all four of this writer’s Spartan grandparents) and their progeny had time to assimilate and become Americans. Unless and until those who arrived in the past few decades have likewise Americanized (are we allowed to say that?) to the extent possible – and the millions now here illegally have been repatriated – entry should be cut down to the absolute minimum. That should be not much more than spousal visas, and those should be strictly scrutinized for fraud.

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s language, whatever it was, will translate into good policy. In the wake of “S-Gate,” he’s in a strong position. Republicans can move a clean federal government funding bill and dare the Democrats to block it and shut down the government of the whole country because it doesn’t save the “Dreamers.” But never underestimate the potential for panic among Congressional Republicans and their ability to throw away a winning hand.

That’s where the risk for Trump is. If he falls for a chump’s deal on immigration, where he yields on DACA in exchange for promises and gestures the way Ronald Reagan got suckered on the last big amnesty in 1986, his base – which indeed wouldn’t care if he gunned down someone in the middle of 5th Avenue – might not be so forgiving. They can overlook a lot, but not that. And if his base stays home this November, we’re looking at a Democratic Congress, impeachment, and President Mike Pence.

  • Verdict after one year: Trump’s rough talk and the hateful reaction to it increase the chances he will stand his ground. But it still could go either way. This is the one to watch.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

The Lancet Accused Of Sacrificing The Poor On Pollution

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | January 18, 2018

I have highlighted much of the mendacious nonsense coming out of the Lancet concerning climate change and pollution issues.

Now a hard hitting report by Mikko Paunio, a specialist in public health matters has destroyed both the credibility and integrity of two of the Lancet’s recent papers on pollution.

The GWPF, who commissioned the paper, report:

London, 18 January: A pair of influential reports published by the medical journal, The Lancet, are a “gross distortion” of public health science and threaten to devastate public health in the developing world. That is the warning by eminent epidemiologist Mikko Paunio.

The Lancet Commissions on Pollution and Health have claimed that the third world is suffering appalling health effects from industrial pollution. But as Professor Paunio explains, this is far from the truth:

“Most of the deaths that they say are caused by industrial air pollution are actually caused by domestic heating and cooking with renewable energy such as wood and dung, and most of the deaths from diarrhea that they say are caused by polluted water are actually caused by poor hygiene because the poor do not have enough water for washing.”

Professor Paunio also says that the Lancet Commissions’ proposal for a ban on new fossil-fueled power stations will be devastating for human health:

“To prevent most of the deaths from diarrhea, you need abundant water supplies, and that depends on having a reliable electricity grid, which can only come from fossil fuels. Clean air depends on centralised power generation in large power stations.”

Dr Paunio has set out his position in a hard-hitting report published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) this week, just ahead of an important meeting of the World Health Organization Executive, which is expected to consider the Lancet Commission’s proposals.

“Professor Paunio writes clinically and factually to demonstrate the errors, exaggerations, distortions, misquotations and suppressions of established evidence which pervade The Lancet reports. His facts and arguments are vitally important and should be widely read,” writes former Labour minister Lord Donoughue in his foreword.

Dr Paunio is a former government scientist at the European Commission and the World Bank. He works at the health ministry in Finland and is an adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki. He is best known as one of the first scientists to speak out against Andrew Wakefield’s claims, also published in The Lancet, about the MMR vaccine and autism.

Full paper (pdf)

Lord Donoghue has written the very pertinent foreword to the paper:

Professor Paunio has enjoyed a distinguished career in global public health, both in Europe and the USA. He has a proven record of countering medical falsehoods, based more on environmental propaganda than on scientific evidence. He certainly adds to that reputation in this hard-hitting and evidence-based paper. It focusses on two recent reports published (to its discredit) in the medical journal The Lancet. They have been widely quoted in the British Parliament and in the popular media. They were predictably trumpeted by climate alarmists at the 23rd UN Convention on Climate Change, clearly their target political audience.

The reports’ conclusions are supportive of the familiar climate-campaign claims that industrial development, and especially pollution derived from coal-fired power generation, are the main cause of much ill health and mortality in the world. Their political purpose is to convince global policy makers to take radical environmental action, for example by regulating and restructuring our energy economy, however inefficiently and expensively, in order to serve the noble cause of saving lives and improving health. There may be a case for that, if based on scientific facts, but Professor Paunio shows that The Lancet does not respectably advance that cause.

The Lancet’s political activism is apparently part of a wider political environmental campaign to blame almost any issue of current public and media concern on climate change (which is happening and always has): mass migration, floods, droughts, storms (now conveniently named to make a greater impact on public memory), and (allegedly) disappearing animal species such as Al Gore’s polar bears – now interestingly at a near peak of population. Professor Paunio writes clinically and factually to demonstrate the errors, exaggerations, distortions, misquotations and suppressions of established evidence which pervade The Lancet reports. Focussing on their misrepresentation of the latest factual evidence relating to the health factors involving air pollution and water supplies, he demonstrates how the main cause of global pollution deaths is from open-fire cooking and heating in the less-developed world, which causes ten times as much health damage in China and India than do their coal-fired power plants, which the climate alarmists so hate.

He also points out that global health has in fact dramatically improved during the past near two centuries of modest global warming. This is mainly due to economic development and especially because of improvements in institutional health provision in the developed world, something which the climate alarmists choose to ignore since it does not fit in with their ideological position.

Interestingly in this debate, it should be noted that modest global warming of the degree we have enjoyed is actually less health-threatening than global cooling. Warming does not significantly increase mortality; it does reduce temperature-related deaths. It is officially estimated that in the UK only 3 deaths per 100,000 of the population are heat related. However, 61 deaths per 100,000, twenty times as many, are cold related. So a cooling cycle, should it reappear, would be intrinsically more threatening to health than a warming one. This is not just in the UK. Stanford University research estimates that an increase of warming temperatures of 2.5◦C would reduce mortality in the USA by 40,000 deaths a year and so greatly reduce medical costs.

Most global ill health and mortality derives, not from industrial development and related climate matters, but from underdevelopment, especially domestic pollution and the malnutrition that can render it fatal. This does not mean that there are not serious concerns over climate change, where properly evidenced. But they should be address rationally, and not dogmatically.

Professor Paunio’s well researched paper shows that The Lancet’s concerns are not properly evidenced. His facts and arguments are vitally important and should be widely read, especially by policy makers and media commentators, not just for exposing the particular falsehoods in the reports, but also for demonstrating the dangers lying in the wider climate change debate of political groupthink.

Bernard Donoughue MA, D.Phil (Oxon)
Senior Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister 1974–79
Minister for Farming and Food 1997–99

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science

By Martha Rosenberg | CounterPunch | January 17, 2018

Do you overeat? Did your boyfriend just break up with you? Does no one return your emails? Do you fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning? If so, you may be suffering from mental illness! Mental illness is a highly stigmatized, life-long condition, that millions do not even realize they have and only a pharmaceutical drug can fix says Pharma and its operatives.

Few marketing gambits have been as successful as Pharma’s elevation of everyday symptoms into “mental illness.” It has enabled it to aggregate “patient” groups to petition lawmakers, insurers and Medicaid and Medicare for payment of high-priced psychiatric drugs. It has allowed groups like the Pharma-funded Active Minds and NAMI to infiltrate college campuses and proclaim the ups and downs of growing up and college life “mental illness”––growing the market. And now it has allowed it to infiltrate Boston’s Museum of Science.

Last spring an exhibit called Many Faces of Our Mental Health debuted at the museum, taking Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill message to museum goers and the general public. Visitors to the  exhibit “might gain new insights and better understand the complex nature of mental health,” said the press release. They might “reflect on how mental health affects their own lives or the lives of friends and family.” Hey, they might have “mental illness” too!

Funders of the exhibit included the Pharma-backed NAMI and the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. and Sidney A. Swensrud foundations both of which stress screening and early intervention for childhood “mental illness.” Both mechanisms are widely seen as a way to grow the market for psychiatric drugs. In fact, the Baer Foundation funds the Pharma-funded Joan Luby who not only finds mental abnormalities in toddlers, she thinks they are present in “late preterm” babies!

There is no biological test for “mental illness”––whether depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder––and until recently, depression and anxiety were not even considered “mental illness.” Now, television drug ads, faux patient groups and faux public service announcements and online quizzes have produced a groundswell of self-diagnosed “mentally ill” people. Pharma funded patient groups like Active Minds and NAMI have even made the badge of mental illness “cool” on high school and college campuses.

“When insurers balk at reimbursing patients for new prescription medications,” says the Los Angeles Times, these groups “typically swing into action, rallying sufferers to appear before public and consumer panels [and] contact lawmakers.”

With an estimated one quarter of the population now taking expensive psychiatric drugs, Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill ploy enriches Wall Street and raises our health care costs. Gone are the days when bad moods were attributed to problems with finance, romance, debt, jobs, housing, careers, family, marriages and health. Worse, Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill ruse siphons off legitimate, activist anger at a government system that keeps people poor and powerless by suggesting they have a personal problem and the answer is a happy pill. Also known as––retreat into individualism.

“People living with mental illness can lead very productive lives and this exhibition highlights this important concept,” said Christine Reich, vice president of exhibit development and conservation, about the Museum of Science exhibit adding this commercial for expensive Pharma drugs: “Mental illness is greatly affect[ed] by the treatment options that are available.”

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

On the Israeli government banning people from going to Israel

Israel’s wall, on confiscated Palestinian land, has blocked travel to and from Palestinian cities, towns and villages in the West Bank for over 15 years.
Another barrier, similarly manned by Israeli soldiers, has blocked travel to and from Gaza for almost a quarter of a century.
If Americans Knew | January 17, 2018

The Israeli government recently publicly added 20 groups to those it bans from traveling to Israel. Following a previous Israeli ban in 2017, Alison Weir wrote the following:

Dear Israeli Government:

You’ve recently banned foreigners who support boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements from being allowed to enter Israel – even Jewish foreigners, a first for the self-proclaimed Jewish state After all, your “Law of Return” has allowed (and encouraged) Jewish foreigners to freely immigrate to Israel, even as multitudes of Palestinians have been banned from returning to their homes.

People throughout the Western world have objected in outrage to your new law, particularly Jewish Westerners who have family and connections in Israel from whom they’ll be cut off in retaliation for their political positions.

Critics, even some who oppose boycotting Israel and who have had no problem with excluding Palestinians, have called out the law for diverse reasons: its quashing of free debate and political expression, its anti-democratic nature, how it will affect them and others personally.

I support these objections.

But I’m not trying to visit Israel.

I want to go to Bethlehem and Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. I hope to return to Khan Yunis, Rafah, Gaza City, and numerous other towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza.

In other words, I want to go to Palestine – a country recognized by 136 countries around the world. But your law, astoundingly, prevents me from visiting that country. You control entry and exit to the places I want to visit, even though they’re not part of your territory, or included in your exclusive democracy.

When I was born, Palestine referred to the whole of the land that your founders then ethnically cleansed and renamed. Now, it officially refers to a few segments of land, surrounded and trapped.

Unlike the residents of every other country on earth, Palestinians are not free to travel to and from their own country unless a foreign country gives them permission – a normally universal right that you routinely deny: to young and old, Muslims and Christians, professors and paupers, men and women.

Visitors are similarly obstructed. You decide whether they can get in, and whether they can get out.

When I try to visit Bethlehem, for example, I must face your armed soldiers manning the Kafkaesque, towering concrete wall you have erected on Palestinian land. These gun-toting youngsters will decree whether or not I and others – including Palestinian descendants of Bethlehem’s ancient shepherds – can pass through.

In other words, Israel is essentially imprisoning over 4 million men, women, and children (with some help from Egypt, its proxy to the south). Israeli jailers, euphemistically “border guards,” determine who may even visit this incarcerated population, and what supplies may reach them.

Over the years I’ve seen you prevent numerous individuals and groups, many bringing medicines and life-saving supplies, from visiting this captive population. You’ve blocked sons from visiting dying mothers, suffering children from receiving critical medical care, malnourished toddlers from receiving help.

It is a profound shame upon the world that this cruel and unconscionable condition has been permitted to persist year after year. There should have been massive and irresistible objections long before your recent legislation.

I remember when the United States opposed the Iron Curtain. Today, the U.S. gives the perpetrator of this current captivity $10 million per day.

Israel already denied me entry once 15 years ago, locking me up for 28 hours in a detention cell in Ben Gurion Airport before expelling me. I remember Israeli officials telling me I was not “allowed into Israel.” They didn’t even supply a reason.

Next time, they may say it’s because I endorse BDS, which I wholeheartedly do.

But I’m not trying to go to Israel. I want to go to Palestine.

– Alison Weir  

January 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments