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WA Court Dismisses Seven-Year Lawsuit Over Boycott of Israeli Goods

Center for Constitutional Rights | March 9, 2018

Olympia, WA – Today, a Washington State court ended a seven-year litigation battle against former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op over their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 by five co-op members seeking to block the co-op’s boycott and to collect monetary damages against the board members. Two of the five members pulled out of the case, and none of the defendants originally named in the case remains a board member of the co-op. The court granted the motion for summary judgment from the former board members, who were represented by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, finding the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case because they failed to show the co-op was injured.

“We are pleased that the court has dismissed this meritless lawsuit.  It is a relief and a vindication for our clients, and a victory for everyone who supports the right to boycott,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood, who argued today.

Earlier this week, CCR filed with the court a recently produced document (Exhibit B) in which plaintiffs celebrated the lawsuit’s success in discouraging other co-ops from boycotting Israeli goods.

“We’re delighted that the judge has decided to dismiss this retaliatory lawsuit and protect our clients’ First Amendment freedoms,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

In 2017, the co-op board of directors passed a resolution affirming that the litigation—which was purportedly brought on behalf of the co-op—was not approved by the co-op, is not in the co-op’s interest, and should be dismissed.

Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that CCR and Palestine Legal have documented and called the “Palestine Exception” to free speech. CCR and Palestine Legal report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism, and baseless legal complaints. Between 2014 and 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 such incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights.

“We are thrilled to be found in favor of for a second time on this frivolous lawsuit. We are proud of our attorney team, and proud of our community for supporting us, and we are grateful for the outpouring of solidarity we’ve received from around the world,” said defendant Grace Cox. “Taking a stand for economic and social justice is at the heart of the co-op’s mission. Given Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights, we would have failed in this mission had we not approved a boycott.”

The case was initially dismissed, in 2011, under a Washington State statute that protected against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). The Washington Supreme Court later struck down the SLAPP law in 2015, sending the case back to the lower courts. After engaging in discovery, plaintiffs essentially abandoned the litigation until reviving it recently.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is counsel in Davis, et al., v. Cox, et al. with CCR cooperating counsel Barbara Harvey from Detroit, Michigan, along with Seattle attorneys Bruce E.H. Johnson and Brooke E. Howlett of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

For more information, visit CCR’s case page.

For more information about Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, visit http://www.dwt.com.


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Putin calls for investigation into strikes on civilians in Syria

“As for crimes, go back to Raqqa and at least bury the dead bodies”

RT | March 10, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there should be an investigation into the massive airstrikes on residential areas in Syria’s Raqqa. Putin pointed out that the dead are still unburied and corpses are lying in the ruins.

“As for crimes, go back to Raqqa and at least bury the dead bodies, which are still lying amid the ruins after the air strikes on residential neighborhoods – and investigate these attacks,” the Russian leader said as he sat down for an “at times combative” interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly. Putin also raised the point that the battle for Iraq’s Mosul involving the US-led forces left the city “razed to the ground.”

The interview heated up when the two were speaking about Syria, when the anchor asked about alleged chemical attacks, for which the West blames the Syrian government. Those claims were rebuffed as “fake news” by the Russian leader. Putin stressed that Damascus destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons long ago, and the militants aimed “to simulate chemical attacks” which were then blamed on the Syrian army.

“All the attempts that have been made repeatedly in the recent past, and all the accusations were used to consolidate the efforts against Assad,” Putin told the journalist. As Kelly continued to ask about alleged chemical attacks that led to civilian deaths, Putin noted that there had been no thorough investigation into what had happened in Syria.

“Russia is for a full-scale investigation. If you do not know this, I am telling you this now. It is not true that we are against an objective investigation. That is a lie.”

Read more:

US has no evidence of sarin use by Syrian govt, still concerned about Assad – Mattis

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Russian Spy Poison Attack: Is Nord Stream 2 the Bigger Target?

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.03.2018

The mysterious apparent murder bid on an ex-Russian spy in Britain has taken on a wider European dimension.

Predictably, the incident was used to whip up anti-Russian claims in the British media. But, in addition, the European Union soon came under pressure to show “solidarity” with Britain in the supposed Russian assault on its sovereignty.

Former British officials were reported bemoaning the lack of solidarity from EU states over the alleged Russian violation on British soil. The EU then responded with an obligatory statement of “solidarity” with Britain, with the tacit acceptance of Russian malfeasance at play.

The allegations of Russian state involvement in the apparent lethal poisoning of exiled Kremlin agent Sergei Skripal in England last Sunday have been leveled with deplorable disregard for due legal process.

Within hours of the incident – which saw 66-year-old Skripal and his adult daughter rushed to intensive hospital care – British media were speculating that Russian agents had carried out a revenge assassination attempt.

Skripal was exiled from Russia in 2010 after being convicted for treason as a double agent for Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6. He was living in the southern English town of Salisbury, where he was found paralyzed in a public park along with his 33-year-old daughter.

British counter-terrorism officers have disclosed that the pair were victims of a toxic nerve agent attack, without identifying the chemical used. They have claimed that the attacker or attackers must have been state-sponsored to carry out such a lethal operation. British police have not yet specified any particular agency for the attack, but as noted the British media quickly jumped to reckless speculation of Russian involvement. The speculation has been fueled by government ministers like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson using innuendo.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations of Moscow’s involvement as “more irresponsible Russophobia”.

The notion that Russia would carry out a risky operation on the eve of its presidential elections this month in order to avenge a disgraced former spy who had been living openly in England for the past eight years defies credibility. It’s frankly absurd given the already heightened anti-Russia hysteria in the Western media that the Kremlin would even contemplate such a scheme.

Nevertheless, the evidence does point to an assassination attempt on Skripal using a military-grade chemical weapon. Senior British toxicologist Dr Alistair Hay told Radio Free Europe this week that the chemical substance used in the attack was most likely one of the organophosphate poisons, such as soman or tabun, which are related to sarin and VX. These are nerve agents that can kill from exposure of human skin to a single droplet.

Hay, who is an advisor to the British government on chemical warfare agents, cautioned against rushing to accusations against Russia. “In my view, it’s much, much too early to point a finger at anybody at this stage,” said the expert.

All that the internationally respected toxicologist would venture to say is that the nature of the attack had “military capability” because of the extreme lethality of the substances involved.

If we assume that Russia was not involved – which is a fair assumption given the above reasoning – then the question is: what state agency could have carried it out? For what objective?

In particular, focus is drawn here to agencies which are seeking to sabotage Europe-wide relations with Russia. As noted above, one of the ramifications from the anti-Russian allegations over the poisoning incident was prompt pressure on the EU to show a tough response towards Moscow.

Former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, reportedly accused the rest of Europe of lacking in support for Britain.

“The European Union will once again fail to help the UK in its fight against Russia after a former Russian spy was allegedly poisoned in Salisbury, according to former ambassador Sir Tony Brenton,” reported the Daily Express.

Another former British foreign office advisor claimed that because of the EU’s bitter wrangling with Britain over the Brexit “the Kremlin was taking advantage of the UK’s lack of allies in the US and EU, and its inability to do much about the Skripal case”.

This logic implicating Russia is unhinged. But the telling aspect is the seeming intended effect of embroiling Europe in a wider antagonistic response to Moscow.

Admittedly, the following discussion here is speculative. But it’s worth a posit.

Last week, the US-led political campaign to scupper the Russia-EU Nord Stream 2 project was given renewed impetus.

The $11 billion, 1,200-kilometer gas delivery pipeline is nearing completion next year.

Foreign ministers from Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were in Washington DC to meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the specific subject of the Nord Stream 2, and how it might be cancelled, reported Voice of America.

Poland and the Baltic states are advocating for US supply of gas to replace the traditional European source from Russia. The issue is of huge strategic importance. US President Trump has been vocal in his support for the European states switching to American gas exports, even though that would work out much more expensive for European consumers.

The Nord Stream 2 project is a partnership between Russian state-owned Gazprom and five private energy companies from Britain, Germany, France and Netherlands.

But the project has been buffeted by the political repercussions over allegations against Russia concerning Ukraine, Crimea and purported “interference” in US and European elections.

The German and Austrian governments are strong backers of the new gas network with Russia. Last week, Austrian President Sebastian Kurz was in Moscow where he met with Vladimir Putin and expressed his support for the Nord Stream 2.

However, apart from Poland and the Baltic states which are marked by vehement anti-Russian ideological politics, there are also elements with the EU administration which are similarly opposed to the Nord Stream supply. It is claimed, they say, that such an arrangement will give too much leverage to Moscow over European affairs. Such advocates tend to be pro-NATO and pro-Washington.

The point is that the campaign to undermine the Russian-EU gas partnership has come with renewed impetus – as seen in the delegation last week to Washington by the Polish and Baltic government ministers. Of course, they are pushing at an open door. American state interests are wedded to the objective of knocking out Russia as Europe’s gas supplier.

Now then, the timing of an assassination bid in England which is framed on Russia comes at a convenient moment in the strategic tussle over Europe’s global energy market. It seems significant that pressure is being brought to bear on the EU “to get tough” on Moscow over the alleged attempted murder of the exiled Russian spy. The “get tough” response being sought could be cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 gas project.

If that stands up as a motive for the latest attempt to cleave EU-Russian relations, then our focus on the likely perpetrators shifts to the following: American state agents, possibly working with British and Eastern European accomplices, in trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, with the purpose of blackballing Moscow.

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

The Guardian’s fresh ravings on Russia reflect West’s tipping point into new levels of dangerous insanity

“We hates Putin… we hates him forever…”

By Catte | OffGuardian | March 10, 2018

There is ample evidence that the Guardian is now, following the re-shaping of its financing and management, reinvented as the paper of record for the UK/US intel agencies, which in turn currently harbour some of the most extreme anti-Russian pro-war ideologues in the business. As such its editorial policy gives us an insight into exactly who is currently getting most leverage in policy-making. When they go relatively soft on Russia you know the voices of sanity are making headway. When they begin ranting about Putin you know the lunatics have grabbed the steering wheel again and we’re heading back towards the cliff edge.

Currently the Guardian’s editorial style isn’t so much ranting as it is writhing on the ground screaming “Putin… curse him… and crush him… we hates him forever”.

Since the still unexplained and increasingly odd Skripal “poisoning” hit the headlines, there has been at least one hysterical anti-Russian piece published every day over at Graun HQ. And if we thought previous bias and inaccuracy was deplorable, the journalistic standard displayed in these recent examples has become debased and frankly terrifying.

Terrifying because it shows that zealotry and pure xenophobia are driving out every other consideration. These articles are barely coherent any more. They are clearly written by people who have lost even the ambition toward perspective. They are little more than distilled Hate. Hate for an individual, hate for a culture, hate for an entire nation, hate that doesn’t even try to pretend it has higher motives than hate itself any more.

Who beside other zealots can read these outpourings and not be horrified at what they say about the state of sanity in our political class and for future peace?

Look at this editorial from yesterday.

Guardian view on the Russian spy attack: Sergei Skripal and the sowing of discord

Six paragraphs of nothing but poorly-sourced antagonism and (there’s no other word) lies. The opening sentence itself is a flagrant lie by omission of context.

When Vladimir Putin was asked recently what historical event he would change if he had the power, he said he would undo the collapse of the Soviet Union…

The source it links to is Radio Free Europe, which pulls the same trick. Everyone who knows anything about Putin knows what he meant when he said those words. Everyone knows he regrets, not the end of Communism, but the social disintegration that followed. He has said as much, unambiguously and clearly, numerous times. The Guardian just doesn’t care enough about its own journalistic reputation to apply a minimal amount of context. Hating Putin is more important than its own credibility it seems.

Second paragraph and another lie, but this time dipped in farce. Clawingly desperate to make its readers Hate as deeply as the author clearly does, it grabs at everything and anything it can find.

commentary on Russian state television observed that “traitors to the motherland” are not safe on UK soil, alluding to the “strange deaths” of other Russians in Britain in recent years, not just the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

The author of the editorial (and indeed the author of an entire article devoted to this subject also on the Guardian a day or so back) is apparently too far gone to notice they’re quoting a joke. And a joke moreover implying the absolute diametrical opposite of what they claim it is saying.

The joke is that the British are killing Russians in the UK.

But the bigger and much darker joke, really, is the Guardian’s grim-faced inability to get it.

The disregard of anything approaching research here is best embodied by the fact an earlier version of the diatribe ascribed RT (“Mr Putin’s mouthpiece”) as a source for the above

But then sheepishly retracted when this elementary inaccuracy was pointed out to them:

In addition to the rambling poison-pen letter that is this editorial, we have also been treated to in recent days, this contribution from Mark Rice-Oxley:

This from the always reliably fact-lite Luke Harding:

This from Mark Bennetts just before the Skripal story broke (unsurprisingly the body of the article completely fails to substantiate the claim made in this ridiculous headline):

And this “review” by Sam Wollaston of the BBC’s documentary from last night:

It’s pretty clear from this that the Washington/London-led campaign against Russia is currently being ratcheted up rather than dialed back. Are we going to see “Snow Revolution#2” hit the streets of Moscow post-election? And if (when) that fails, what next? At some point the hate needs to stop and accommodation with reality needs to begin, and if it doesn’t where else can it end but in war?

Addendum:Check out the comments below the review mentioned above. Overwhelmingly represented by lowest common denominator Russia-hate. Where are the sober and sensible voices so often heard BTL on the subject of Syria and other matters, that lead to comments sections being closed as soon as they open? Are they all being deleted, pre-moderated, or are the majority of Guardian readers who are so sceptical about every other aspect of the mainstream narrative completely won over by its views on Russia?

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Illusion of War Without Casualties

By Nicolas J.S. Davies | Consortium News | March 9, 2018

Last Sunday’s Oscar Awards were interrupted by an incongruous propaganda exercise featuring a Native American actor and Vietnam vet, featuring a montage of clips from Hollywood war movies.

The actor, Wes Studi, said that he “fought for freedom” in Vietnam. But anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of that war, including for instance the millions of viewers who watched Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary, knows that it was the Vietnamese who were fighting for freedom – while Studi and his comrades were fighting, killing and dying, often bravely and for misguided reasons, to deny the people of Vietnam that freedom.

Studi introduced the Hollywood movies he was showcasing, including “American Sniper,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” with the words, “Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to these powerful films that shine a great spotlight on those who have fought for freedom around the world.”

To pretend to a worldwide TV audience in 2018 that the U.S. war machine is “fighting for freedom” in the countries it attacks or invades was an absurdity that could only add insult to injury for millions of survivors of U.S. coups, invasions, bombing campaigns and hostile military occupations all over the world.

Wes Studi’s role in this Orwellian presentation made it even more incongruous, as his own Cherokee people are themselves survivors of American ethnic cleansing and forced displacement on the Trail of Tears from North Carolina, where they had lived for hundreds or maybe thousands of years, to Oklahoma where Studi was born.

Unlike the delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention who broke out in chants of “no more war” at displays of militarism, the great and the good of Hollywood seemed nonplussed by this strange interlude.  Few of them applauded it, but none protested either.

From Dunkirk to Iraq and Syria

Perhaps the aging white men who still run the “Academy” were driven to this exhibition of militarism by the fact that two of the films nominated for Oscars were war movies.  But they were both films about the U.K. in the early years of the Second World War – stories of British people resisting German aggression, not of Americans committing it.

Like most cinematic paeans to the U.K.’s “finest hour,” both these films are rooted in Winston Churchill’s own account of the Second World War and his role in it.  Churchill was roundly sent packing by British voters in 1945, before the war was even over, as British troops and their families instead voted for the “land fit for heroes” promised by the Labour Party, a land where the rich would share the sacrifices of the poor, in peace as in war, with a National Health Service and social justice for all.

Churchill reportedly consoled his cabinet at its final meeting, telling them, “Never fear, gentlemen, history will be kind to us – for I shall write it.”  And so he did, cementing his own place in history and drowning out more critical accounts of the U.K.’s role in the war by serious historians like A.J.P. Taylor in the U.K. and D.F. Fleming in the U.S.

If the Military Industrial Complex and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are trying to connect these Churchillian epics with America’s current wars, they should be careful what they wish for.  Many people around the world need little prompting to identify the German Stukas and Heinkels bombing Dunkirk and London with the U.S. and allied F-16s bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and the British troops huddled on the beach at Dunkirk with the destitute refugees stumbling ashore on Lesbos and Lampedusa.

Externalizing the Violence of War

In the past 16 years, the U.S. has invaded, occupied and dropped 200,000 bombs and missiles on seven countries, but it has lost only 6,939 American troops killed and 50,000 wounded in these wars.  To put this in the context of U.S. military history, 58,000 U.S. troops were killed in Vietnam, 54,000 in Korea, 405,000 in the Second World War and 116,000 in the First World War.

But low U.S. casualties do not mean that our current wars are less violent than previous wars.  Our post-2001 wars have probably killed between 2 and 5 million people.  The use of massive aerial and artillery bombardment has reduced cities like Fallujah, Ramadi, Sirte, Kobane, Mosul and Raqqa to rubble, and our wars have plunged entire societies into endless violence and chaos.

But by bombing and firing from a distance with very powerful weapons, the U.S. has wreaked all this slaughter and destruction at an extraordinary low rate of U.S. casualties.  The U.S.’s technological war-making has not reduced the violence and horror of war, but it has “externalized” it, at least temporarily.

But do these low casualty rates represent a kind of “new normal” that the U.S. can replicate whenever it attacks or invades other countries?  Can it keep waging war around the world and remain so uniquely immune from the horrors it unleashes on others?

Or are the low U.S. casualty rates in these wars against relatively weak military forces and lightly armed resistance fighters giving Americans a false picture of war, one that is enthusiastically embellished by Hollywood and the corporate media?

Even when the U.S. was losing 900-1,000 troops killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan each year from 2004 to 2007, there was much more public debate and vocal opposition to war than there is now, but those were still historically very low casualty rates.

U.S. military leaders are more realistic than their civilian counterparts.  General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Congress that the U.S. plan for war on North Korea is for a ground invasion of Korea, effectively a Second Korean War.  The Pentagon must have an estimate of the number of U.S. troops who are likely to be killed and wounded under its plan, and Americans should insist that it makes that estimate public before U.S. leaders decide to launch such a war.

The other country that the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia keep threatening to attack or invade is Iran.  President Obama admitted from the outset that Iran was the ultimate strategic target of the CIA’s proxy war in Syria.

Israeli and Saudi leaders openly threaten war on Iran, but expect the U.S. to fight Iran on their behalf.  American politicians play along with this dangerous game, which could get thousands of their constituents killed.  This would flip the traditional U.S. doctrine of proxy war on its head, effectively turning the U.S. military into a proxy force fighting for the ill-defined interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Iran is nearly 4 times the size of Iraq, with more than double its population.  It has a 500,000 strong military and its decades of independence and isolation from the West have forced it to develop its own weapons industry, supplemented by some advanced Russian and Chinese weapons.

In an article about the prospect of a U.S. war on Iran, U.S. Army Major Danny Sjursen dismissed American politicians’ fears of Iran as “alarmism” and called his boss, Defense Secretary Mattis, “obsessed” with Iran.  Sjursen believes that the “fiercely nationalistic” Iranians would mount a determined and effective resistance to foreign occupation, and concludes, “Make no mistake, U.S.military occupation of the Islamic Republic would make the occupation of Iraq, for once, actually look like the ‘cakewalk’ it was billed to be.”

Is This America’s “Phony War”?

Invading North Korea or Iran could make the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan look in hindsight like the German invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland must have looked to German troops on the Eastern front a few years later. Only 18,000 German troops were killed in the invasion of Czechoslovakia and 16,000 in the invasion of Poland.  But the larger war that they led to killed 7 million Germans and wounded 7 million more.

After the deprivations of the First World War reduced Germany to a state of near starvation and drove the German Navy to mutiny, Adolf Hitler was determined, like America’s leaders today, to maintain an illusion of peace and prosperity on the home front.  The newly conquered people of the thousand-year Reich could suffer, but not Germans in the homeland.

Hitler succeeded in maintaining the standard of living in Germany at about its pre-war level for the first two years of the war, and even began cutting military spending in 1940 to boost the civilian economy.  Germany only embraced a total war economy when its previously all-conquering forces hit a brick wall of resistance in the Soviet Union.  Could Americans be living through a similar “phony war”, one miscalculation away from a similar shock at the brutal reality of the wars we have unleashed on the world?

How would the American public react if far greater numbers of Americans were killed in Korea or Iran – or Venezuela?  Or even in Syria if the U.S. and its allies follow through on their plan to illegally occupy Syria east of the Euphrates?

And where are our political leaders and jingoistic media leading us with their ever-escalating anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda?  How far will they take their nuclear brinksmanship?  Would American politicians even know before it was too late if they crossed a point of no return in their dismantling of Cold War nuclear treaties and escalating tensions with Russia and China?

Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war was a response to the public reaction to what were in fact historically low U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But Obama waged war on the quiet, not war on the cheap.  Under cover of his dovish image, he successfully minimized the public reaction to his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, his proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, his global expansion of special operations and drone strikes and a massive bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

How many Americans know that the bombing campaign Obama launched in Iraq and Syria in 2014 has been the heaviest U.S. bombing campaign anywhere in the world since Vietnam?  Over 105,000 bombs and missiles, as well as indiscriminate U.S., French and Iraqi rockets and artillery, have blasted thousands of homes in Mosul, Raqqa, Fallujah, Ramadi and dozens of smaller towns and villages.  As well as killing thousands of Islamic State fighters, they have probably killed at least 100,000 civilians, a systematic war crime that has passed almost without comment in the Western media.

“… And It Is Late”

How will the American public react if Trump launches new wars against North Korea or Iran, and the U.S. casualty rate returns to a more historically “normal” level – maybe 10,000 Americans killed each year, as during the peak years of the American War in Vietnam, or even 100,000 per year, as in U.S. combat in the Second World War?  Or what if one of our many wars finally escalates into a nuclear war, with a higher U.S. casualty rate than any previous war in our history?

In his classic 1994 book, Century of War, the late Gabriel Kolko presciently explained,

“Those who argue that war and preparation for it is not necessary to capitalism’s existence or prosperity miss the point entirely: it simply has not functioned in any other way in the past and there is nothing in the present to warrant the assumption that the coming decades will be any different…”

Kolko concluded,

“But there are no easy solutions to the problems of irresponsible, deluded leaders and the classes they represent, or the hesitation of people to reverse the world’s folly before they are themselves subjected to its grievous consequences.  So much remains to be done – and it is late.”

America’s deluded leaders know nothing of diplomacy beyond bullying and brinksmanship.  As they brainwash themselves and the public with the illusion of war without casualties, they will keep killing, destroying and risking our future until we stop them – or until they stop us and everything else.

The critical question today is whether the American public can muster the political will to pull our country back from the brink of an even greater military disaster than the ones we have already unleashed on millions of our neighbors.

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

USA-North Korea: Who is now advising the US president on Korean matters?

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 10.03.2018

We have already written more than once on the US president’s views on the Korean question: outlining the general approach, summarizing the arguments, emphasizing what a difficult choice he is faced with and looking at how an attempt at dialogue, initiated, it appears, by Joseph Yun, the United States’ Special Representative for North Korea Policy, failed because the necessary preconditions were not met.

The difficulty of the choice has resulted in a large number of different opinions. The USA is prepared to talk with the DPRK if the latter completely abandons its nuclear program before the talks begin. In these circumstances, Donald Trump has assured Moon Jae-in that the USA will never start a war with North Korea without South Korea’s agreement, even though he has ambiguously hinted at the possibility of doing so if sanctions fail.

The lack of a clear policy is frequently blamed on the fact that there is no experienced North Korea specialist in the Trump Administration. Most academics do not like the new president and do not want to advise him- they would rather just wait and see him get himself in a mess that he can’t get out of. Non specialist political experts keep repeating, year after year, that the regime is facing imminent collapse. It is also well known that Donald Trump does not particularly trust the US Intelligence Service and Department of State.

So, let us have a look at some recent rumors and resignations. First, the decision not to appoint the political analyst Victor Cha, who is well known as a harsh critic of Pyongyang, as ambassador to South Korea. Victor Cha is an ethnic Korean and a Protestant, who was the Director for Asian Affairs in the White House’s National Security Council during George W. Bush’s administration, and was part of the US delegation for the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear problem. He currently teaches at Georgetown University and works as an advisor for CSIS (the Centre for Strategic and International Studies).

His opinions are typical of those held by Pyongyang’s opponents- he wrote in 2011 that the North Korean regime was nearing its end, and after the death of Kim Jong-il the DPRK would last only a few weeks, or at most months, before it had its own version of an “Arab Spring”. And his book, “The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future” was seen, even in the USA, as representing an extreme and politically motivated view, which verged on a deliberate refusal to understand the situation in the DPRK.

The decision not to appoint Victor Cha was, in effect, taken as long ago as August 2017. On December 10 a request for his agrément was sent, but the Washington Post, citing the White House, reported that the appointment had been withdrawn. That newspaper blamed differences of opinion, on at least two points, between Victor Cha and the Trump Administration. Firstly, Victor Cha expressed concern about the Trump Administration’s intention to withdraw from a trade agreement with Seoul which the USA did not benefit from.

Secondly, he spoke out against a so-called “bloody nose” strike- a precision attack on the DPRK’s nuclear facilities and other strategic targets, avoiding any civilian casualties (or keeping them to a minimum). Presumably such a strike would not trigger a full-scale war- Kim jong-un is not a mindless bloody tyrant, after all-, and North Korea would accept the blow to its pride and not respond to an attack on a limited scale by triggering a nuclear war. If that assumption is correct then it is possible to play with North Korea’s patience, and then, after a series of strikes, convince Pyongyang of its vulnerability and persuade it make concessions, including giving up its nuclear weapons.

However, according to media reports, in December 2017 Victor Cha “expressed concern about a plan to warn Pyongyang with a narrow rocket strike”, and already, after his resignation, he published an article warning about the grave risks of such an attack and arguing that it would solve nothing and would only push the regime into taking more extreme steps.

As a result the US diplomatic embassy in South Korea is currently headed by a temporary appointee, Mark Napper, and experts have expressed concern about how the lack of an ambassador may disrupt the continuity of communications between Seoul and Washington, even though the US administration has promised to find a new candidate without delay.

And then the next resignation: the retirement “for personal reasons” of Joseph Yun. Born in South Korea, as a child he immigrated with his parents to the USA at an early age and started his diplomatic career in 1985. During his career he has served as the military attaché to the US embassy in Seoul, the US ambassador in Malaysia, and, most recently, a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and, at the same time, Special representative for North Korea policy. In the latter capacity, among other achievements, he arranged the release of the American student Otto Warmbier and was considered Washington’s main policy former ideologue in its relations with Pyongyang.

Rex Tillerson accepted Joseph Yun’s resignation with regret, and Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the US Department of State, announced that the US’s special representative for North Korean policy will, as before, be on the staff of the Department for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. However, experts in both South Korea and Russia have noted that Joseph Yun was a supporter of any dialogue, even at the most superficial level, with Pyongyang, and his departure increases the risk of conflict. According to a number of sources, Mr. Yun was the only more-or-less high-profile state official with whom Moscow was able to find points of agreement. “We are aware, and he himself made no secret of this, that he was pretty much on his own, surrounded by “hawks” in the US administration, but his presence gave us hope that the calls for dialogue might be heard. It is a pity he has gone. It is to be expected that the USA’s policy towards Pyongyang will become even more aggressive and intransigent.”

Heather Nauert’s comment on the resignation was as follows: “We are sorry to see him retire, but our diplomatic efforts regarding North Korea will continue based on our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the DPRK.” In theory, that could mean that Joseph Yun, unlike Heather Nauert and the rest of the gang, did not see the “Olympic thaw” as a gesture of despair and a sign that the regime was near collapse, nor did he adhere to the idea that the best response to the DPRK’s outstretched hand is to tighten the pressure so that North Korea will finally collapse.

And, as South Korean media have pointed out, he is not the only experienced American diplomat to resign over a difference of opinion with the Trump administration. Recently, Tom Shannon, the U.S. State Department’s third-ranking official, announced that he was stepping down. Michael Ratney, the US Special Envoy for Syria, has made a similar decision. And if reports from the generally anti-Trump media are to be believed, then Donald Trump has asked the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to dismiss his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his daughter, Ivanka. Those last reports are probably false, but the question of who is now advising Donald Trump is becoming more and more pressing. For example, it is clear that Peter Navarro, who is well-known for his strongly anti-Chinese views, has an influence on the USA’s policies towards China. One of his books is called “Death by China: How America Lost Its Manufacturing Base”.

Of course, Donald Trump is not a person who relies on other peoples’ opinions when he makes decisions, but his personal experience as a businessman and politician have not provided him with the high level of judgement required to understand the situation in North East Asia. We have already written about some of the problems this has caused, and, given the “difficult choice” he is faced with, all he can do at the moment is hope that the “maximum pressure” approach will work, or threaten the world with “Plan B”. And that means that, following Joseph Yun’s resignation, a successful resolution to the Korean problem has become rather less likely.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, Leading Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

America’s Troll Farm Media

By Gerald Sussman | CounterPunch | March 9, 2018

Despite all the smoke and mirrors, most Americans seem to see where the stenographers of corporate capitalism are taking us. A recent Gallup poll found that while 84% of Americans see media as “critical” or “very important” to democracy, only 28% see the corporatist mainstream news media (MSM) as actually supporting democracy. They’re right on both counts of course. The quality of a democracy is only as good as the information people have to make informed judgements about public policy and politicians.

Even as the mainstream news media continue to lose street cred, they persist in a rumor-saturated full court press against the “Trump-Putin presidency,” which only further exposes their lack of professionalism and increasing vulgarity. MSM management and their boardroom bosses have long understood that as long as they spice up their “nothing burger” news, ratings and advertising rates will keep them in business and please their commercial and government clients. Tabloid journalism, which can describe most American mainstream media these days, even when wrapped up as “all the news that’s fit to print,” is in constant search of sensation, scandal, gossip, and profit – and only occasionally in public-oriented investigative integrity.

What else does the citizenry have to say? A mere 18% have “a lot” of trust in the MSM, while 74% see them as “biased” (Pew Research, July 2016). A study by the Harvard-Harris polling organization in May 2017 confirmed this, finding that 65 percent of Americans consider the so-called “free press” biased, obsessed with scandal, and full of “fake news” and therefore cannot be trusted. Among the concurring are a majority of both Democrats (53%) and Independents (60%) as well as 80% of Republicans. Amongst the “informed public,” trust in American institutions in general, that is, the government, business, NGOs, and the MSM, is going through the worst crisis in recorded history, according to the marketing firm Edelman in 2018. The US is the lowest rated of the 28 countries surveyed by the firm on this measure. This is not consistent with the image of a serious “democracy.”

On the MSM coverage of national politics, Americans are equally skeptical. A June 2017 Rasmussen survey of likely American voters indicated that 50% think most reporters are prejudiced against the president, and only 4% believe most reporters are biased in Trump’s favor. Although this is weighted by the 76% of Republicans who support this view, the study also found that 51% of independent voters and even 24% of Democrats also agree. Aided by the billions of dollars of free, almost all negative, publicity the MSM provided, with apparent reverse effect during the presidential campaign, Trump’s standing is also supported by the 47 million American shock troops that faithfully follow him on Twitter.

On January 27, 2018, the Washington Post editorial board issued this statement: “A foreign power interfered in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. law enforcement is trying to get to the bottom of that story. Congress should be doing everything possible to make sure the investigation can take place.” Obviously referring to Russia, the Post’s declaration, as the late investigative journalist Robert Parry and many other independent and respected writers have pointed out, was and remains without a shred of evidence. It’s WMD time all over again, only this time the propaganda is being trumpeted mainly by the Democrats. It would better serve the cause of democracy to investigate the Post for its covert coalition and collusion with the deep state and the Clinton (right) wing of the Democratic Party. The Post and the rest of their pack have constructed a wicked Russia foil in order to undermine Moscow’s presumed ally Trump and boost bigger Pentagon budgets. It’s an extremely dangerous game that is headed toward military confrontation and massive annihilation by the yahoos in government and the liberal media.

But it’s not a new game, because despite their “free press” claims, American major news media have long been instruments of state propaganda. In the 1970s, Carl Bernstein exposed the fact that the overseas branches of US MSM had long served as eyes and ears of the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird,” and it’s very likely than many amongst their ranks remain agency assets. Back then, Philip Graham, publisher of the Post, ran the agency’s media industry operations, a fact not mentioned in the currently showing eponymous film. During the GW Bush presidency, the Pentagon recruited over 75 military generals to spread propaganda in the mass media, fed in camera by leaders at the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, and the White House. Their responsibilities included their employment as “objective” foreign policy and war analysts for major network and cable news channels, many of them concurrently receiving pay by military contracting firms. The Pentagon referred to the on-air military propagandists as “surrogates” and “message force multipliers.”

The Russians are Coming

In February 2018, former CIA director John Brennan, the man who fed the Russian “hacking” story to the House Intelligence Committee, became a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC in what has become standard revolving door practice between government and the corporate world. Brennan was a well-known advocate for the CIA’s rendition and torture program, spying on its critics, and its use of drone bombings and assassinations in the Middle East. And he certainly knows something about hacking, as he was forced to admit, after first lying about it, that his CIA hacked the computers of Senate staffers who were investigating the agency’s role in torturing prisoners. A man the MSM apparently regard as having impeccable credentials for truth telling.

If the Russia “hacking” story has no legs, the more interesting piece of news is the organized efforts of the Democrats and some Republicans to bring down Trump and turn over the White House to theocrat Mike Pence. Mainstream pundits and reporters are churning out unsubstantiated speculations about Russia and Trump by the hour. A number of Democrats, military brass, and mercenary journalist (and former country club caddy) Thomas Friedman have characterized alleged Russian intervention as a new “Pearl Harbor” or “9/11,” thereby building a case for war and for treason against the president. There’s no downside to making even the most absurd claims about Russia and Trump, no penalty for fabrications, misrepresentations, or getting facts wrong. If they were honest, their ledes might read: “This fictional news report is loosely based on a true story.” Or: “Any resemblance in this story to real people and events is merely coincidental.”

There’s room in the inferno for the Democrats’ deep state allies. Starting in mid-2015, Peter Strzok, the FBI’s H. Clinton personal email scandal investigator before taking the lead in the probe of Russian election interference, sent emails to his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which  clearly revealed that both of them were actively working for the Clinton campaign to undermine Trump in any way possible. The pair also exchanged references to a “secret society” that was operating within the Department of Justice and the FBI to block a Trump victory. Until their exposure, Strzok had been Robert Mueller’s right hand man on the Trump-Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, two years later, the hunt for the smoking Kalashnikov continues. The best the MSM have come up with is that a St. Petersburg outfit called Internet Research Agency (IRA) placed $100,000 in ads on Facebook (compared to the $81 million Facebook ad spending by the Trump and Clinton campaigns), some of the Russian ads actually directed against Trump. As Jeffrey St. Clair pointed out in the pages of CounterPunch, in the key states where Clinton lost the election, the traditional Democrat strongholds of Michigan ($832 spent on token IRA buy ads), Pennsylvania ($300), and Wisconsin ($1,979), all but $54 of this amount was spent before the party primaries even started.

Facebook’s vice president for advertising Rob Goldman said that in fact most of the total Russian ad buys occurred after the presidential election. “We shared that fact,” he tweeted, “but very few [news] outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative” about Trump’s election victory. Winning the election for Trump was simply not the Russian objective, Goldman says. Alex Stamos, Facebook chief security officer, concurred. The ads, he said, were more about sowing discord, with messages about guns, immigrants, and racial strife, than on pushing a particular candidate. Think about all the blockbuster American (and British) movies that portray Russians as sinister, violent, and criminal. For starters, remember über-teutonic Ivan Drago, Sgt. Yushin, the many sadistic “Russian” mafia nogoodniks, along with the Cold War-for-children cartoon characters, Boris Badanov and Natasha Fatale? Among the many Russophobic films and TV shows over the decades: The Americans, Air Force OneThe Peacemaker, The Saint, Rambo III, Red Dawn, Red Heat, the James Bond flicks, and the 2018 Oscar for documentaries, Icarus. Soviet and Russia-era films, not well tutored in ethnic caricatures, have no comparable stereotypical American counterparts.

There are a few signs of life in mainstream journalism. New York Times correspondent Scott Shane was one of the few journalists who happened to notice that the US intelligence agency (the CIA, NSA, and FBI) report of January 6, 2017 on Russian “hacking” actually offered no evidence. “Instead,” he said, “the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’” It took the mainstream media 6 months before they acknowledged that the Obama administration claim that 17 intelligence agencies backed the hacking claim was false, the real number was only 3, and even the NSA had only “moderate confidence” in the finding. Last January, the NSA made a significant alteration in its mission statement: it removed the words “honesty” and the pledge to be truthful from its list of priorities.

Even if there were genuine evidence that Russian officials had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta emails, as originally claimed by the intelligence agencies, one should put this in context of the long history of the CIA’s efforts to overthrow many democratically elected leaders who had the temerity to stand up to the superpower. These would include Allende, Arbenz, Mossadeq, Lumumba, Chavez, Goulart, Ortega, and others. The list of US interventions in foreign elections just since 1948 (Italy) is voluminous. Do the mainstream media suffer amnesia about Victoria Nuland and John McCain’s presence in the Maidan, egging on the coup against Yanukovych or her infamous leaked phone call to the US ambassador in Kiev in which she dictated the ousted president’s successors? And is it reasonable to expect Russia to be passive about a hostile NATO putting troops along its borders and reacting to efforts to install an anti-Russian regime next door in the Ukraine? In this recent historical context, US accusations of Russian political interference smack of complete hypocrisy.

A study by Carnegie Mellon professor Dov Levin found that between 1946 and 2000 alone, the US intervened in foreign elections 81 times, which does not include its invasions, blockades, sanctions, assassination attempts, and other regime change initiatives. “The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries,” he wrote. In 1996, the US intervened in the Russian election to prevent the Communist Party from returning to power. Have the MSM also forgotten the lies the government and the CIA told about Saddam Hussein’s WMD and connections to terrorist movements? Or that, thanks to Edward Snowden’s exposés, we know that Obama’s NSA bugged the phones of 35 foreign political leaders?

If the MSM are still confused, perhaps they should listen to former CIA director James Woolsey. Interviewed by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Woolsey was asked directly whether the US ever interfered with other countries’ elections. He initially said, “probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid the communists from taking over.” Ingraham followed up with the question, “We don’t do that now?” To this Woolsey responded, “nyum, nyum, nyum, nyum, nyum, only for a very good cause,” a rather frank admission that merely amused Ingraham, who failed to follow up with this obvious statement of US double standards. After leaving the CIA, Woolsey became chairman of Freedom House, a right-wing government-supported private NGO that putatively supports human rights causes and has been active in regime change operations around the world – far more actively than merely doing Facebook postings.

William Binney, formerly with NSA as a high-level intelligence operative, subsequently becoming a whistleblower on the agency’s illegal surveillance operations, called the alleged Russian attacks on the DNC “a charade.” Speaking to Daniel Bernstein at Consortium News, Binney said that had any bulk transmissions come from across the Atlantic, the NSA would have known about it, as they tap every communication from abroad. The data from “Guccifer 2.0,” was a download “not a transfer across the Web,” which “won’t manage such high speed.” The intelligence agencies “have been playing games with us.  There is no factual evidence to back up any charge of hacking here.” It was likely no more than a USB transfer, he said.

Is there any hope for the mainstream media to change? It would take a revolution to get the MSM to become more democratic. A Harvard Shorenstein Center report found that media coverage of the 2016 US party conventions contained almost no discussion of policy issues and instead concentrated on polling data, scandals, campaign tactics, and Trump and Russia bashing. Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, spoke for the media establishment: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS …. The money’s rolling in …. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald.”

As Walter Cronkite would say, “And that’s the way it is.”

Gerald Sussman is professor of urban studies and international and global studies at Portland State University. He is the author and editor of several books, including The Propaganda Society: Promotional Culture and Politics in Global Context (2011).

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

2017 ADL strategy paper on how to defeat the Palestinian rights movement

If Americans Knew | March 9, 2018

In January 2017 the Anti-Defamation League and Israel’s Reut Institute co-published a strategy paper that analyzed the movement for Palestinian rights and detailed diverse strategies to defeat it. The paper said that despite a “robust coordinated global effort” on behalf of Israel, increasing numbers of people were supporting Palestinian rights. Read this detailed document:

Click here to download the report.

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Inside the State Department’s Troll Farm – Daniel McAdams on The Corbett Report

Corbett Report Extras | March 7, 2018

Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Liberty Report and RonPaulInstitute.org joins us today to discuss the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center,” an online troll farm dedicated to countering “foreign disinformation” on the web…with their own disinformation. We talk about the origins of the center and how it connects to the grander neocon-created #Russiagate disinfo campaign.

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=26318

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment