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US to block sale of Russian Su-30 aircraft to Iran: State Dept.

Press TV – April 5, 2016

The United States would use its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block the sale of Russian Ru-30 fighter jets to Iran, the State Department says.

Department of State Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon made the announcement on Tuesday during a congressional hearing on Iran. “We would block the approval of fighter aircraft.”

Shannon told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that any such sale of fighter jets would have to be approved by the UN Security Council.

Su-30 is a multirole advanced fighter aircraft for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

“The sale of Su-30 fighter aircraft is prohibited under UNSCR 2231 without the approval of the UN Security Council and we would block the approval of any sale of fighter aircraft under the restrictions,” Shannon said.

Shannon was referring to the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted by the Security Council on July 20, 2015, which endorsed the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany.

The UN resolution calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.

But according to diplomats, resolution 2231 does not prohibit Iran from buying fight jets, and the language of 2231 is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures.

Iran and the P5+1 finalized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. They started to implement the JCPOA on January 16, 2016.

Under the agreement, limits are put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all nuclear-related economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

NATO chief vows to make US allies ramp up defense bills citing ‘Russian aggression’

RT | April 5, 2016

Following a meeting with US President Obama, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg lauded the block’s “biggest reinforcement since Cold War,” promising European members will step up defense spending, while listing an “assertive Russia” among the alliance’s chief threats.

While never mentioning the maker of the latest “obsolete NATO” remarks by name, on Monday both Barack Obama and Stoltenberg did their utmost to dismiss Donald Trump’s recent statements and defend the Cold War-era block’s supposedly crucial role in assuring the allies’ security.

Obama described NATO as “a linchpin, a cornerstone of US security policy,” while Stoltenberg said it was “important as ever,” while ramming home the story that NATO “has been able to adapt” to a “more dangerous world.” The comments were made after a bilateral meeting in Washington, DC scheduled to mark the 67th anniversary of NATO – the first such high-level talks since the Paris and Brussels attacks.

“Together, we are now implementing the biggest reinforcement through our collective defense since the end of the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said.

The challenges discussed at the meeting ranged from countering Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorism in Libya, Syria, and at home, and training security forces in Afghanistan for “pushing back against the Taliban,” to dealing with the European migrant crisis and helping resolve the conflict in eastern Ukrainian. However, the reinforcements in question boiled down to one perceived threat: containing “a more assertive Russia, responsible for aggressive actions in Ukraine.”

Indeed, Obama has backed quadrupling the budget of the so-called European Reassurance Initiative, as the Pentagon has announced a plan to deploy additional US Army troops and equipment in Eastern Europe in 2017, meaning that US military presence in Europe could soon amount to three fully operational army brigades.

“This is really a strong example of the Transatlantic bond, how the United States is important for the security of Europe,” claimed Stoltenberg.

The “reassurance” would come at a price, however, with US taxpayers potentially on the hook for the $3.4 billion requested by Obama from Congress, and the alliance’s chief now pushing European NATO member states to step up their commitment by coughing additional funding up for the block from their coffers.

“I will work together with all the NATO allies to make sure that they make good on the pledge they made together to increase defense spending. And this is about that we have to invest more in our security when tensions increases, and therefore we have to make sure that we do what we promised, and that is to invest more in defense in the following years.”

The US and NATO have been increasingly active in pushing for a stronger military presence in Europe, particularly in regions close to Russia’s border. They argue that this deployment is necessary to deter Moscow from making aggressive military moves.

Commenting on the latest developments to Izvestia daily, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, noted on Thursday that alliance’s new advances contradict the spirit of the international treaties on mutual relations and military activity, which state that the Western military bloc is not to permanently station additional forces near Russian borders. He added that the plan to deploy new armored units in Eastern Europe would lead to “a significant deterioration of the situation in the military sphere,” vowing a “totally asymmetrical” response from Russia.

“We are not passive observers, we consistently take all the military measures we consider necessary in order to counterbalance this reinforced presence that is not justified by anything,” Grushko said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama told reporters on Monday that NATO is currently in contact with Russia with regard to resolving the crisis in Eastern Ukraine, but only in the form of consultations.

“NATO is consulting with Russia to reduce tensions and potential escalation,” the White House announced in a pool report. Obama then noted that both the US and NATO plan to further train and support the Ukrainian military in order to enhance its defense capabilities. “[US and NATO will] continue to be united in Ukraine in the wake of Russian incursions in the Ukrainian territory, [working in] a ‘train and assist’ fashion to help Ukraine develop its military capabilities defensively.”

“That does not mean we are not continuing to work with Russia to try and find a resolution to the problems in Ukraine. We think it’s important to maintain a dialogue with Russia and in a very transparent fashion indicate the firmness of our resolve to protect our values and our allies,” the pool report quoted Obama as saying.

The US has accused Moscow of military engagement in Ukraine, while Russia has repeatedly denied these claims. Kiev launched a military operation against militias in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 after they refused to recognize the new coup-installed government in Kiev. The confrontation has claimed over 9000 lives to date, according to UN estimates. Despite the second Minsk agreement of February 2015, which was aimed at suspending hostilities in the region and facilitating a political solution to the conflict, both sides occasionally breach the agreed upon ceasefire.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Iran Reaches Positive Net-of-Oil Trade Balance for First Time in 37 Years

Sputnik — 04.04.2016

Iranian exports excluding oil trade have exceeded imports for the first time in 37 years, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday.

“The government has tried to step by step reduce dependence on oil revenues, and for the first time in the history of post-revolutionary Iran [after 1979], in 2015-2016, our export revenues exceeded import spending without taking into account oil trade,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the IRINN broadcaster.

Rouhani added that Iran’s oil exports continue to grow, reaching two million barrels per day, and Iran will continue to seek to increase this figure.

Iran has been boosting its oil sales after a deal with the P5+1 group of world powers — including Russia, the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany — in July to monitor and limit Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.

In February, the head of the National Iranian Oil Company said that the country aims to raise its daily oil exports to 4.7 million barrels.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

‘Corruption’ as a Propaganda Weapon

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 4, 2016

Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”

Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.

We are now seeing what looks like a new preparatory phase for the next round of “regime changes” with corruption allegations aimed at former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The new anti-Putin allegations – ballyhooed by the UK Guardian and other outlets – are particularly noteworthy because the so-called “Panama Papers” that supposedly implicate him in offshore financial dealings never mention his name.

Or as the Guardian writes:Though the president’s name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage. The documents suggest Putin’s family has benefited from this money – his friends’ fortunes appear his to spend.”

Note, if you will, the lack of specificity and the reliance on speculation: “a pattern”; “seemingly”; “suggest”; “appear.” Indeed, if Putin were not already a demonized figure in the Western media, such phrasing would never pass an editor’s computer screen. Indeed, the only point made in declarative phrasing is that “the president’s name does not appear in any of the records.”

A British media-watch publication, the Off-Guardian, which criticizes much of the work done at The Guardian, headlined its article on the Putin piece as “the Panama Papers cause Guardian to collapse into self-parody.”

But whatever the truth about Putin’s “corruption” or Lula’s, the journalistic point is that the notion of objectivity has long since been cast aside in favor of what’s useful as propaganda for Western interests.

Some of those Western interests now are worried about the growth of the BRICS economic system – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as a competitor to the West’s G-7 and the International Monetary Fund. After all, control of the global financial system has been central to American power in the post-World War II world – and rivals to the West’s monopoly are not welcome.

What the built-in bias against these and other “unfriendly” governments means, in practical terms, is that one standard applies to a Russia or a Brazil, while a more forgiving measure is applied to the corruption of a U.S. or European leader.

Take, for instance, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s millions of dollars in payments in speaking fees from wealthy special interests that knew she was a good bet to become the next U.S. president. [See’sClinton Stalls on Goldman-Sachs Speeches.”]

Or, similarly, the millions upon millions of dollars invested in super-PACS for Clinton, Sen. Ted Cruz and other presidential hopefuls. That might look like corruption from an objective standard but is treated as just a distasteful aspect of the U.S. political process.

But imagine for a minute if Putin had been paid millions of dollars for brief speeches before powerful corporations, banks and interest groups doing business with the Kremlin. That would be held up as de facto proof of his illicit greed and corruption.

Losing Perspective

Also, when it’s a demonized foreign leader, any “corruption” will do, however minor. For example, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan’s denounced Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for his choice of eyewear: “The dictator in designer glasses,” declared Reagan, even as Nancy Reagan was accepting free designer gowns and free renovations of the White House funded by oil and gas interests.

Or, the “corruption” for a demonized leader can be a modest luxury, such as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s “sauna” in his personal residence, a topic that got front-page treatment in The New York Times and other Western publications seeking to justify the violent coup that drove Yanukovych from office in February 2014.

Incidentally, both Ortega and Yanukovych had been popularly elected but were still targeted by the U.S. government and its operatives with violent destabilization campaigns. In the 1980s, the CIA-organized Nicaraguan Contra war killed some 30,000 people, while the U.S.-orchestrated “regime change” in Ukraine sparked a civil war that has left some 10,000 people dead. Of course, in both cases, Official Washington blamed Moscow for all the trouble.

In both cases, too, the politicians and operatives who gained power as a result of the conflicts were arguably more corrupt than the Nicaraguan Sandinistas or Yanukovych’s government. The Nicaraguan Contras, whose violence helped pave the way for the 1990 election of U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Chamorro, were deeply implicated in cocaine trafficking. [See’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]

Today, the U.S.-supported Ukrainian government is wallowing in corruption so deep that it has provoked a new political crisis. [See Consortiumnews’com’sReality Peeks Through in Ukraine.”]

Ironically, one of the politicians actually named in the Panama Papers for having established a shadowy offshore account is the U.S.-backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, although he got decidedly second-billing to the unnamed Putin. (Poroshenko denied there was anything improper in his offshore financial arrangements.)

Double Standards

Mainstream Western journalism no longer even tries to apply common standards to questions about corruption. If you’re a favored government, there might be lamentations about the need for more “reform” – which often means slashing pensions for the elderly and cutting social programs for the poor – but if you’re a demonized leader, then the only permissible answer is criminal indictment and/or “regime change.”

One stark example of these double standards is the see-no-evil attitude toward the corruption of Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who is touted endlessly in the Western media as the paragon of Ukrainian good governance and reform. The documented reality, however, is that Jaresko enriched herself through her control of a U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund that was supposed to help the people of Ukraine build their economy.

According to the terms of the $150 million investment fund created by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Jaresko’s compensation was supposed to be capped at $150,000 a year, a pay package that many Americans would envy. But it was not enough for Jaresko, who first simply exceeded the limit by hundreds of thousands of dollars and then moved her compensation off-books as she amassed total annual pay of $2 million or more.

The documentation of this scheming is clear. I have published multiple stories citing the evidence of both her excessive compensation and her legal strategies for covering up evidence of alleged wrongdoing. [See’sHow Ukraine’s Finance Minister Got Rich” and “Carpetbagging Crony Capitalism in Ukraine.”]

Despite the evidence, not a single mainstream Western news outlet has followed up on this information even as Jaresko is touted as a “reform” candidate for Ukrainian prime minister.

This disinterest is similar to the blinders that The New York Times and other major Western newspapers put on when they were assessing whether Ukrainian President Yanukovych was ousted in a coup in February 2014 or just wandered off and forgot to return.

In a major “investigative” piece, the Times concluded there was no coup in Ukraine while ignoring the evidence of a coup, such as the intercepted phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who they would put into power. “Yats is the guy,” said Nuland – and surprise, surprise, Arseniy Yatsenyuk ended up as prime minister.

The Times also ignored the observation of George Friedman, president of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, who noted that the Ukraine coup was “the most blatant coup in history.” [See’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

The Propaganda Weapon

The other advantage of “corruption” as a propaganda weapon to discredit certain leaders is that we all assume that there is plenty of corruption in governments as well as in the private sector all around the world. Alleging corruption is like shooting large fish crowded into a small barrel. Granted, some barrels might be more crowded than others but the real decision is whose barrel you choose.

That’s part of the reason why the U.S. government has spread around hundreds of millions of dollars to finance “journalism” organizations, train political activists and support “non-governmental organizations” that promote U.S. policy goals inside targeted countries. For instance, before the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine, there were scores of such operations in the country financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), whose budget from Congress exceeds $100 million a year.

But NED, which has been run by neocon Carl Gershman since its founding in 1983, is only part of the picture. You have other propaganda fronts operating under the umbrella of the State Department and USAID. Last year, USAID issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing friendly journalists around the globe, including “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.”

USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,” In Ukraine before the coup, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” which sounds a bit like an operation to thwart the local government’s intelligence gathering, an ironic position for the U.S. with its surveillance obsession, including prosecuting whistleblowers based on evidence that they talked to journalists.

USAID, working with billionaire George Soros’s Open Society, also funds the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption. The USAID-funded OCCRP also collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins.

Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what looked to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014.

Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Though most genuinely independent bloggers are ignored by the mainstream media, Higgins has found his work touted by both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In other words, the U.S. government has a robust strategy for deploying direct and indirect agents of influence. Indeed, during the first Cold War, the CIA and the old U.S. Information Agency refined the art of “information warfare,” including pioneering some of its current features like having ostensibly “independent” entities and cut-outs present U.S. propaganda to a cynical public that would reject much of what it hears from government but may trust “citizen journalists” and “bloggers.”

But the larger danger from this perversion of journalism is that it sets the stage for “regime changes” that destabilize whole countries, thwart real democracy (i.e., the will of the people), and engender civil warfare. Today’s neoconservative dream of mounting a “regime change” in Moscow is particularly dangerous to the future of both Russia and the world.

Regardless of what you think about President Putin, he is a rational political leader whose legendary sangfroid makes him someone who is not prone to emotional decisions. His leadership style also appeals to the Russian people who overwhelmingly favor him, according to public opinion polls.

While the American neocons may fantasize that they can generate enough economic pain and political dissension inside Russia to achieve Putin’s removal, their expectation that he will be followed by a pliable leader like the late President Boris Yeltsin, who will let U.S. operatives back in to resume plundering Russia’s riches, is almost certainly a fantasy.

The far more likely possibility is that – if a “regime change” could somehow be arranged – Putin would be replaced by a hard-line nationalist who might think seriously about unleashing Russia’s nuclear arsenal if the West again tries to defile Mother Russia. For me, it’s not Putin who’s the worry; it’s the guy after Putin.

So, while legitimate questions about Putin’s “corruption” – or that of any other political leader – should be pursued, the standards of evidence should not be lowered just because he or anyone else is a demonized figure in the West. There should be single not double standards.

Western media outrage about “corruption” should be expressed as loudly against political and business leaders in the U.S. or other G-7 countries as it is toward those in the BRICS.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Establishment Hates Trump

By John McMurtry | CounterPunch | April 5, 2016

On the face of it, Donald Trump is Reagan on steroids. His towering size, his nativist US supremacism, his down-home talk, and his reality-show confidence make him ideal for the role of bullying and big lies from the oval office. He is America come to meet itself in larger-than-life image to rejuvenate it as its pride slips away in third-world conditions and a multi-polar world.

While Trump’s narrative is that the American Dream seeks recovery again, the dominant media and political elite relentlessly denounce him as an implicit fascist and disastrous fake. Something deeper is afoot. An untapped historic resentment is boiling up from underneath which has long been unspeakable on the political stage. Trump has mined it and proposed a concrete solution always denied of his candidacy. From his promise to halve the Pentagon’s budget to getting the Congress off corporate-donation payrolls, the public money that the big corporate lobbies stand to lose from a Trump presidency are off the charts. But his attackers dare not recognize these explosive issues because they are all part of the problem.

The public money stakes may be bigger than the US corporate stakes behind the foreign wars the US state has initiated since 1991. The takeaway promised by Trump’s policies threaten almost every big lobby now in control of US government purse strings. It grounds in the military-industrial complex spending close to $2,000,000,000 a day for its endless new untested weapons and foreign wars both of which Trump opposes. But the cut-off of hundreds of billions of public giveaways to the Big Corps do not end here. They hit almost every wide-mouthed transnational corporate siphon into the US Treasury, taxpayers’ pockets and the working majority of America. Masses of American citizens increasingly without living wages and benefits and in increasing public squalor and insecurity are paying attention to what the political establishment and corporate media have long buried and continue to silence.

Trump has raised the great dispossession from impotence into the establishment’s face, and this is why he is a contagion on the American political scene. He is pervasively mocked, accused and slandered in non-stop public fireworks of ad hominem hits, but the counter-attacks never engage what Trump has set his sights on – the long stripping of America by
corporate globalization selecting for the limitless enrichment of the very rich living off an ever-growing take from public coffers and the impoverishment of America’s working people. A primal rage unites the political establishment across party lines, but they can’t say why. No defaming scorn and abuse is off limits, but Trump’s underlying betrayal of the ruling game remains unspeakable on the stage.

The electoral dynamite of all the Americans who have lost all their good blue-collar jobs, social benefits and public infrastructures is recognized only in class condescension. But the facts cannot be denied of a corporate globalization effectively stripping the lower middle classes and the public realm itself with no-one in Washington establishment saying a word against the greatest transfer of wealth to the 1% in history.

Trump may deserve back as bad he gives. But this understanding keeps our eyes on the ego-contest which is the standard spectacle to avoid the real issues. The personal attacks only tells us how deep the rupture has become between Trump’s campaign and the establishment on the issues kept out of sight. This is why the corporate politicians and media are almost as wound into one-way demonization of Trump as they are when they beat the drums of war against a designated Enemy abroad.

In the end, it may get to him – as when he tries to find angry millions again from onside with an evangelical trumpet of abortion-is-murder just before the primary in Wisconsin.

Trump is a shameless opportunist, no doubt. Yet we continue to revolve within an ad hominem circle until we go deeper than the establishment morality tale of the evil of the stigma object – the oldest propaganda trick in the book. The major money interests that are really at stake in the conflict between Trump and the political-economic establishment remain unconnected and blocked out. “Who will stop Trump’ is not only now asked across America, but the world’s media in China too. But nothing is less talked about than the globally powerful interests he has promised to rein back from the public troughs bleeding the country’s capacities to build for and to employ its people. On this topic, there is only silence or abusive distortion frothing from the mouth.

Joining the Dots of the Great Silence

Eventually people may ask why the establishment unanimously abhors Trump across party divisions which are otherwise unbridgeable. Even if he is a caricature of American privilege and self-promotion, who else could fight the corrupt corporate-state and media establishment? Who else could ever get public support from dispossessed masses and from inside the Republican Party base itself? Who else could take on the supra-dominant corporate interests of the war state, drug monopoly, health insurance racket, lobby-run foreign policy, off-shore tax evasion, and global trade with only corporate rights to profit taking jobs in the tens of millions from home workers, and still hold a large and right-wing voter base onside?

Conversely, what else than Trump’s threat to the corporate-state establishment can explain the unity of voice and venom against an American paragon of wealth and chupzpah? What else could motivate a cross-party and corporate media hate campaign where there is nothing else in common across the condemning voices? Only those citizens depending on the deep system corruptions he promises to reverse are really threatened by Trump’s candidacy. But how do these huge private interests go on getting away with a corporate-lobby state transferring every more public wealth and control to them at the expense of the American majority and their common interest when most people already dislike and are systemically exploited by them? They get away with it by no-one being able to do anything about it.

Trump represents a threat to these gargantuan public-trough interests that even the super clean and informed Ralph Nader candidacy for president never did. The corporate media and party machines just shut him down on the electoral stage so few even knew he was a presidential candidate. You can’t do that with Trump. That is the very big problem for the otherwise seamless political and media establishment who are all in on the fabulous payoffs of this corporate state game. Trump’s entire strategy is based on getting public attention, and he is a master at it, unbuyably rich, and the most watched person in America across the country and the world. He can’t be shut up. Personal stigmatization and attack without let-up are the only way to gag his policies and turn the tide against him at the same time.

Maybe it will work in the end. It’s how disastrous and bankrupting foreign aggressions and wars have been sold whatever the ruinous costs to the public paying for them.

Until Wisconsin

When you join the dots to Trump also preaching a policy revolt against the insatiable corporate jaws feeding on trillions of dollars of public budgets in Washington, the meaning becomes clear. But that connected meaning is blacked out. In its place, the corporate media and politicians present an egomaniac blowhard bordering on fascism who preaches hate, racism and sexism. But the silenced policies he advocates are more like jumping into a crocodile pit. He is on record saying he will cut the Pentagon’s budget “by 50%”. No winning politician has ever dared to take on the military-industrial complex, with even Eisenhower only naming it in his parting speech. Trump also says that the US “must be neutral, an honest broker” on the Israeli-Palestine conflict – as unspeakable as it gets in US politics. Big Pharma is also called out with “$400 billion to be saved by government negotiation of prices”. The even more powerful HMO’s are confronted by the possibility of a “one-payer system”, the devil incarnate in America’s corporate-welfare state.

Trump even challenges “the Enemy” cornerstone of US ideology when he says “wouldn’t it be nice to get along with Russia and China for a change?” Not very fascist of him. He was also open to nationalizing the Wall Street banks after 2008. None of this sees the light of day in the hate-Trump culture that been effectively mounted across even left-right divisions. Most of all, Trump rejects the whole misnamed “free trade” global system because it has “hollowed out the lives of American workers” with rights to corporations to move anywhere to get cheaper labour and import back into the US tariff-free. But again the connected meaning is repressed. That Trump also wants to get the US out of foreign wars at the same time, the other great pillar of corporate globalization, is the real danger to the transnational corporate state he has set in motion.

All these policies threaten only the ruling money interests of America that depend on the superpower public purse to extend their transnational monopolies and multiply their wealth. This is the real establishment interest that has so far evaded the glare of publicity and critique of the Donald Trump phenomenon, bigger now with Bernie Sanders than any political challenge to the US system since the 1960’s. Trump is certainly not a working-class hero. He is a pure capitalist, with all the furies of private interest and greed that capitalism selects for. But at this time he is a capitalist who is not rich from looting the public purse as the biggest annual cash flow, nor from exporting the costs of labor and taxes to foreign jurisdictions with subhuman standards that come back to the US as “necessary to compete”. Trump has initiated a long overdue recognition of parasite capitalism eating out the life capacities of the US itself.

cancerstageJohn McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the author of the three-volume Philosophy and World Problems published by UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), and his most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: from Crisis to Cure.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

The Forces Behind the Attempted Coup in Brazil

By Mark Weisbrot | The Hill | April 5, 2016

If you are following the news of political turmoil in Brazil, it may be difficult to get a grasp of what is really going on. This often happens when there is an attempted coup in the Western Hemisphere, and especially when the U.S. government has an interest in the outcome. Usually the information about that interest, and often Washington’s role, is the first casualty of the conflict. (Twenty-first century examples include Paraguay in 2012, Haiti in 2011 and 2004, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010 and Venezuela in 2002.)

First, there is no doubt that this is a coup in progress. It is an attempt by Brazil’s traditional elite — which includes, as one of the most important players, most of the major media — to reverse the outcome of Brazil’s 2014 presidential elections. Exhibit A is the grounds on which they hope to impeach President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT by its Portuguese initials). It has nothing to do with corruption, or any serious offense.

The charge is that the government used borrowed money in 2014 to maintain the appearance that the primary budget surplus was within its target. But this is something that other presidents had done, and is hardly a serious offense. A comparison: When the Republicans in the U.S. Congress threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to extend the deadline, and there was little controversy over this.

The charges against Lula are also dubious, even if they turn out to be true. Most importantly, the accusers have not shown any connection to the big “Lava Jato” (car wash) corruption scandal — or any other corruption. Lula is accused of owning some beachfront property, which he denies owning, that was renovated by a Brazilian construction company; and of receiving money from various corporations for speeches. Most importantly, however, these are things that took place after he left the presidency. Although Bernie Sanders has rightly made an issue of Hillary Clinton’s receipt of millions of dollars from corporations for speeches, it is not illegal in the U.S. — or Brazil.

The main judge investigating these cases, Sergio Moro, had to apologize to the Supreme Court for leaking to the press wiretapped conversations between Lula and Dilma, as well as between Lula and his attorney, and between his wife and their children. The detention of Lula for questioning, with advance leaks to the media and involving 200 police despite the fact that Lula had always voluntarily submitted to questioning, also left no doubt as to the political nature of the investigation.

If Moro had any evidence linking Dilma or Lula to actual corruption, it is likely that some of it would have been released by now, given that he has leaked personal and private wiretapped conversations just to embarrass them. 

Brazil’s anti-democratic, corrupt elite is trying to take the country back to its pre-democratic past, when the electorate could not interfere with their choice of leaders.

Unfortunately, that is not all that long ago: The dictatorship that lasted until 1985 was installed in a 1964 U.S.-backed coup, to which the current efforts bear some resemblance.

 About the U.S. role today: It is no secret that Washington would like to get rid of all of the left governments in the region. In President Obama’s trip to Argentina last week, and other public statements from U.S. officials, they made it clear how happy they were to welcome the new right-wing government there. They also reversed their policy, implemented against the prior, left government, of blocking loans to Argentina from international lenders like the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank.

Of the coups mentioned above, evidence of the U.S. role is documented beyond a reasonable doubt in all of them except Ecuador, where there is no hard evidence. But since there has almost never been a coup in this hemisphere against a left government without some U.S. involvement, it is no wonder that many Ecuadoreans believe the U.S. was (and remains) involved there, too. 

And such speculation is not unreasonable in Brazil, where Washington intervened in 2005 in support of a legislative effort aimed at undermining the Workers’ Party government.

The massive spying on Brazil —and especially Petrobras — that Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald revealed in 2013, also points in this direction. It could be a coincidence that all this information about Petrobras was gathered by the U.S. government just prior to the scandals at the state-controlled oil company; or perhaps Washington shared some information with its allies in the Brazilian opposition. And there is no doubt that, like President Mauricio Macri in Argentina, the biggest players in this coup attempt — people like former presidential candidates José Serra and Aécio Neves — are U.S. government allies. 

Of course the PT government would not be in so much trouble today, even with the media leading the charge, if the economy – which shrank by an estimated 3.8 percent last year — were in better shape.

And that, unfortunately, is due mainly to their own mistakes; beginning at the end of 2010, they embarked on a series of spending cuts, interest rate increases, and other measures that stalled the economy, followed by even harsher austerity in 2015 that caused a deep recession with no end in sight. Unemployment has risen from a record low of 4.3 percent in December 2014 to 8.2 percent today. This didn’t have to happen; with more than $360 billion in foreign currency reserves, Brazil is not constrained by the balance of payments, and therefore could recover with expansionary macroeconomic policies.

Dilma and Lula are on the ropes and up against some powerful enemies, but it would be premature to count them out. They have faced tougher battles; unlike their adversaries and the big media companies that supported the dictatorship, they were imprisoned during its rule. If they can survive the current coup attempt, they will have a chance to fix the economy and return to their legacy — which is, after all, one of considerable economic and social progress.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Disgraceful BBC Panorama Propaganda Hides Grim Truth About Britain

By Craig Murray | April 5, 2016

Richard Bilton of the BBC today exposed himself as the most corrupt and bankrupt of state media shills – while pretending to be fronting an expose of corruption. There could not be a more perfect example of the western state and corporate media pretending to reveal the Panama leak data while actually engaging in pure misdirection.

In a BBC Panorama documentary entitled Tax Havens of the Rich and Powerful Exposed, they actually did precisely the opposite. The BBC related at length the stories of the money laundering companies of the Icelandic PM and Putin’s alleged cellist. The impression was definitely given and reinforced that these companies were in Panama.

Richard Bilton deliberately suppressed the information that all the companies involved were in fact not Panamanian but in the corrupt British colony of the British Virgin Islands. At no stage did Bilton even mention the British Virgin Islands.

Company documents were flashed momentarily on screen, in some cases for a split second, and against deliberately unclear backgrounds. There is no chance that 99.9% of viewers would notice they referred to British Virgin Islands companies. But instantly reading a glimpsed document is an essential skill for a career diplomat, and of course I happen to know immediately what BVI or Tortola mean on a document. So I have been back and got screenshots of those brief flashes.

Screenshot (17)

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Is it not truly, truly, astonishing the British Virgin Islands were not even mentioned when the BBC broadcast their “investigation” of these documents?

In deliberately obscuring the key role of the British money-laundering base of British Virgin Islands in these transactions, the BBC have demonstrated precisely why the entire database has to be released to the scrutiny of the people, rather than being filtered by the dubious honesty of state and corporate journalists. The BBC targeting of two very low level British minions at the end of their programme does not alter this.

The BBC could also address why their Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow is leased for £100 million from a hidden ownership company in the Cayman Islands.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The NY Times on Gaza: Israel Is Just Trying to Help

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | April 5, 2016

Now, at last, The New York Times has turned its sights on Gaza fishermen, a much beleaguered group, which has persevered under constant harassment and crippling restrictions. It has long been well under the radar as far as the newspaper’s reporting is concerned.

This week, however, we have an above-the-fold story on page 5 accompanied by a color photo of two fishermen with their nets. What has prompted this long overdue attention? It is the opportunity to present Israel as the benevolent caretaker of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Thus we find a headline announcing the following: “Israel Expands Palestinians’ Fishing Zone Off Gaza.” The story below reports the decision to increase the allowed zone from 6 to 9 nautical miles and the relief and excitement of Gaza fishermen and officials.

The article ends with a quote from Israeli officials, saying that the expansion was part of an effort to “improve the economy and foster stability” in the West Bank and Gaza, and so the story is framed around Israeli efforts to help struggling fishermen and Palestinians in general.

Thanks no doubt to the efforts of Times stringer Majd Al Waheidi of Gaza, readers find hints of the grim reality that fishermen there have actually faced over several years. We learn that Israeli gunboats have been firing on fishermen as they go to sea, and we hear the story of Ismail al-Shrafi, 62, who lost his boat five months ago when Israeli sailors confiscated it, injuring his son with live fire in the process.

The story, however, provides no data to place the case of al-Shrafi in context. Readers do not learn that during 2015, the Israeli navy fired on Gaza fishermen at least 139 times, wounding 24 fishermen and damaging 16 boats. Another 22 boats were confiscated, and 71 fishermen were detained.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, all these incidents took place within the legal 6-mile zone, but the Times notes that an army spokesperson denied that the navy had fired on boats within the permitted area.

The article, by Al Waheidi and Isabel Kershner, also states that over the weekend the navy “sank a suspected smuggling boat,” but it fails to inform readers that witnesses have contradicted this account. According to Palestinian news sources, the navy fired on several boats near Rafah, setting fire to one fishing vessel and causing it to sink.

The Times is denying readers the complete story here, but its most egregious paragraph is the final one in which officials claim that the expansion of the fishing zone was “part of a policy of loosening restrictions” to help the Palestinian economy.

In fact, Israeli policy appears to be aimed at impeding, rather than bolstering, economic progress in Gaza and the West Bank. Here are just a few examples of how Israeli actions and regulations impact the Palestinian economy:

Times readers, however, are told that Israel is trying to help, loosening restrictions to “improve the economy.” Thus we find the headline this week announcing a generous move to allow fishermen more access to their own Gaza Sea.

It seems that the newspaper’s editors are credulous consumers of Israeli spin, readily quoting the self-serving claims of officials and making no attempt to verify the facts. Readers—as well as the courageous fishermen of Gaza—deserve better.

Follow @TimesWarp on Twitter

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attempts to impeach Brazil president illegal: Attorney general

Press TV – April 5, 2016

Brazil’s attorney general has slammed impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff as illegal, saying such a bid is nothing more than an attempted coup d’état.

Jose Eduardo Cardozo, the government’s main legal advisor, defended Rousseff before the impeachment committee of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, dismissing the allegations leveled against the embattled president.

Opposition lawmakers, who are seeking to remove Rousseff, accuse her of taking out unauthorized government loans to hide a growing budget deficit.

Cardozo told the 65-member committee that such claims, even if true, could not be dealt with as an impeachment case, saying the “process was compromised from the start and as such it is invalid.”

“As such, impeaching her would be a coup, a violation of the constitution, an affront to the rule of law, without any need to resort to bayonets,” he added.

The hearing was the final plea by Rousseff’s administration against the impeachment. The committee will likely issue its recommendation this week.

If the impeachment passes the lower house, the president would be suspended for up to six months while facing trial in the Senate. Meantime, Vice President Michel Temer would replace her as acting president.

Rousseff, however, vowed that she would stand firm and would not bow to the pressure to bring her down. Her predecessor and ally Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has also pledged to support Rousseff.

The impeachment process began last December after lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha accepted the opposition request for such a move.

Cardozo said Cunha’s decision was motivated by his desire for political revenge against Rousseff, his bitter political rival.

The political crisis has brought Brazil to the brink of economic collapse as it is entangled in a deep recession and corruption allegations.

With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics just four months away, the Latin American country has been the scene of counter rallies in and against the government over the last few weeks, some of which even turned violent.

In the latest of such rallies, anti-government protesters took to the streets on Monday, denouncing the officials for not having decided over the impeachment bid.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela’s Political Killings: A Sign of the Repression to Come?

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | April 4, 2016

A mayor gunned down in a drive by shooting just meters from his own doorstep. A legislator shot by paramilitaries in plain sight outside a bodega. A solidarity activist butchered in a home invasion. Two police run over by militants in a stolen bus. These are just the latest in a wave of killings in Venezuela. The motives behind most of these killings remain unclear, though it’s hard to not be disturbed by what appears to be a growing wave of political violence gripping the country. In response, Venezuela’s right-wing, the mass media and even most human rights groups are all following a well worn script that seeks to downplay these killings, or at least deflect attention away from the context behind the violence. For example, Human Rights Watch’s latest report on Venezuela is basically just a call for Venezuela’s supreme court to be stacked with supporters of the right-wing political coalition, the MUD. Another of their recent reports focused on claims that imprisoned right-wing political figure Leopoldo Lopez didn’t receive a fair trial. Their third most recent report (at the time of writing) was another complaint about the Maduro administration’s human rights record, including false claims that “security forces violently cracked down on largely peaceful protests” in 2014. As I saw myself at the time, those suppressed “largely peaceful protests” included gangs of armed right-wing militants throwing Molotovs at hospitals, sniping at civilians from rooftops and setting up barricades to hold neighbourhoods hostage. Then and now, Venezuela is increasingly becoming a dangerous place for leftists.

Indeed, all the recent victims were either leftists, or police seeking to contain violent right-wing demonstrations. The latest victim was Marco Tulio Carrillo, the socialist mayor of a municipality in Trujillo state. Other victims include Haitian-Venezuelan solidarity activist Fritz Saint LouisTupamaro legislator Cesar Vera, and two police officers in Tachira state.

These killings take on a new dimension when contextualised: the right-wing MUD is preparing to oust Maduro, and wrestle control of all branches of the state from the left.

If they achieve this, the worst case scenario would be a return to the repression of the 20th Century, when leftists were all too often the targets of neoliberal regimes. Today’s right-wing has repeatedly shown it not only has no interest in disavowing violence, but is willing to turn on the Venezuelan people for their own political gain. From the 2002 coup to the violence of 2014, there has always been a sector of the right-wing that has never been afraid to use terror against ordinary Venezuelans. If it takes complete power, perhaps the MUD will learn to speak out against violence such as the recent killings, or perhaps not. After all, much of the MUD is generally slow to condemn violence against leftists, if they do so at all. So if they take complete power, will the right reign in their excesses, or rule with terror?

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn Calls on British PM to Tackle Tax Avoidance

teleSUR – April 5, 2016

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed David Cameron on the tax avoidance scandal saying the “unfairness and abuse must stop.”

The leader of Britain’s main opposition party called on the government Tuesday to tackle tax havens, saying it was high time British Prime Minister David Cameron stopped allowing “the super rich elite [to] dodge their taxes.”

“There cannot be one set of tax rules for the wealthy elite and another for the rest of us,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said at the launch of the party’s campaign for local elections next month.

“The unfairness and abuse must stop… I say this to the government and to the chancellor, no more lip service, the richest must pay their way.”

After leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm revealed how the world’s powerful use secretive offshore company structures to stash their wealth, Cameron has come under pressure to clamp down on tax evasion in British-linked territories after the “Panama Papers” implicated his father, Ian Cameron, in running an offshore tax-evasion fund.

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

The US Media War against the Leaders of Latin America (II)

By Nil NIKANDROV – Strategic Culture Foundation – 05.04.2016

See Part I

The defeat of the Kirchnerists in the recent presidential elections in Argentina was largely due to the publicity and propaganda advantages held by Mauricio Macri, the leader of the Republican Proposal party. Those advantages were provided by the Clarín media group that dominates public communications in Argentina. Macri was called the «US candidate», and this has proven true since he took office. Barack Obama came to Buenos Aires on an official visit and was full of optimism when he spoke of the upcoming golden era in the US-Argentine relations.

In order to earn this relationship, Macri took a confrontational tack toward Venezuela and what’s more, made it clear that he was carefully «studying the consequences» of the Kirchners’ 12-year rule. Now the accusations are growing louder against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over her involvement in the murder of Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. Nisman was planning to accuse Fernandez as well as Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of conspiring to «safeguard the impunity» of the Iranians who were involved in the bombing, according to one version …

The tabloids have published the «revelations» of Miriam Quiroga, who was Néstor Kirchner’s secretary as well as his alleged mistress. Her disclosures have sparked rumors that now proliferate about corruption, money-laundering, and the involvement of Cristina Fernandez and her family. It is entirely possible that the NSA will manufacture yet more materials in order to prevent Christina from taking part in future presidential elections. It does not matter to the orchestrators of this dirty war that the materials obtained through «bugging» are always fragmentary, superficial, and must be extensively cross-checked. Provocateurs are focused solely on spreading scandalous accusations that can feed a media frenzy lasting for years.

* * *

Bolivian President Evo Morales, with whom the US embassy in La Paz has a long history of grievances (if for no other reason than the 2008 expulsion of Ambassador Philip Goldberg), was not immune to the exposés that US intelligence agencies concoct in order to undermine the credibility of politicians. The Feb. 21 referendum on amendments to the Bolivian constitution allowing the president to run for a third consecutive term ended unfavorably for Morales. Voters were swayed by the story of the president’s former partner, Gabriela Zapata. The president had stated that they had had a son who died in infancy, but Zapata claimed otherwise – that the boy was supposedly alive and being cared for by her family. This electrifying news is now being thoroughly milked by the tabloids.

The media has also publicized information about the help provided by Morales in order to secure Zapata, who lacks a higher education, an executive position at the Chinese company CAMC. The multi-million-dollar contracts won by that company are attributed to Morales’ influence. The CIA’s hand is clearly visible in the scandal, because this news was publicized by the journalist Carlos Valverde Bravo, who has in the past headed the intelligence service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while earning a living on the side by cooperating with the biggest drug cartel in Bolivia (in the 1990s). Some members of the cartel used authorization documents issued by Valverde when transporting cocaine abroad. After a lurid story about sending drugs to the US inside decorative figurines, he was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. After his release, he began a career as a radio journalist and is now regularly invited to receptions at the US embassy, where he is provided with the subjects for his «targeted exposés».

* * *

Among the Latin American politicians causing unease in Washington is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a moderate nationalist and the most likely contender for victory in Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections. It is possible that he could be transformed into a «Mexican populist». Obrador has repeatedly jockeyed for that highest state office, but the backroom machinations and manipulation of the vote counting affected the final outcome. Particularly questionable was the defeat from the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, in 2012. Obrador’s newest bid is predicted to be successful, and it will be difficult for his enemies to block it using their old tricks. Political associates and bloggers who are sympathetic to Obrador constantly warn him that his life is in danger – because that is how political rivals are traditionally disposed of in Mexico.

Obrador is often asked if he is afraid of being assassinated and why he does not request a more substantial security detail. Without downplaying the dangers, he answers imperturbably, «He who owes nothing, fears nothing. If criminals are intent on doing something, they will corrupt every institution of power in order to realize their objectives. Thus, the only way to prevail over violence is through peaceful social mobilization. And it’s best if that takes the form of voting, because that shows that citizens are sick of the corruption that plagues their country».

Is Obrador sufficiently aware of the threat US intelligence agencies might pose to him? No question. Evidently this is why he has always distanced himself from Hugo Chávez. When the Venezuelan leader died on March 5, 2013, Obrador tweeted, «I had no ties to Chávez. My enemies used his image to attack me». Will this help him to dispel Washington’s mistrust and once again vie for the presidency? That’s doubtful. The US intelligence community has plenty of ways to bulldoze Obrador’s political career …

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment