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US plans for space wars are real – Russian Foreign Ministry

RT | January 25, 2019

US plans to pursue development of space-based interceptors signals that Washington would use space for military operations, the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned.

Washington’s concept of a space-based interceptor capable of destroying missiles in the boost phase was presented in the US Missile Defense Review (MDR) last week.

In the speech announcing the publication of the MDR, US President Donald Trump warned that the new strategy will “ensure that enemy missiles find no sanctuary on Earth or in the skies above.”

He also declared that “space is a new war-fighting domain with the Space Force leading the way.”

The US “implementation of its military space plans will hit the current system of space activities’ safety,” stated Moscow, referring to Washington’s previous attempts to achieve dominance in the military sphere resulted in “growing tensions and a spiralling arms race.”

The Foreign Ministry has also expressed regret that the US abandoned “constructive dialogue” and returned to the 1980s ‘Star Wars’ missile defense program of President Ronald Reagan, when the spaced-based interceptors were first envisioned.

Though the MDR only recommends studying the issue at this point, Moscow is convinced that the Trump administration puts a “strong emphasis” on it and will be inclined to go ahead with the development of the spaced-based weapons.

Besides development of space-based capabilities, the MDR describes plans to deploy 20 additional interceptor missiles in Alaska as soon as 2023. Other plans include arming missile facilities in Romania and Poland – part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) – with new Aegis SM-3 missiles.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Bolivia: Before and after Evo Morales

Poverty has been reduced, rights expanded, and the economy continues to grow

By Ana Laura Palomino García | Granma | January 23, 2019

Many years ago, the man who has taken the Plurinational State of Bolivia to first-rate statistics in the economic and social arenas, was jailed on a military base in Copacabana, a town in the department of La Paz, close to the border with Peru.

This was in 1995, and Evo Morales endured insults and interrogations, for defending his rights and those of coca growers. But the most hateful way his captors referred to him was “indio” – a word that served as an offense for them, but is one of his most valued attributes.

Now that “Indian,” Evo Morales, is loved by his people and continues to dignify his indigenous roots, struggling tirelessly to eradicate the social ills that in the past left his nation without a future.

Nonetheless, some far removed from this reality, at different latitudes, or in the comfort of their homes, criticize his decision to run for a fourth term as President, denying the broad support he enjoys among the people and the figures that confirm this fact.

BOLIVIA BEFORE EVO

An opportune comment appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, recalling how, in the not so distant past, a few owners of significant capital fiercely exploited the Aymara, Quechua, Guarani, and other original peoples of Bolivia’s universe, whose elemental rights were ignored.

The paper points out that 90% of the rural population lived in poverty, making Bolivia, Honduras and Haiti a trio of countries facing uncertain futures, with the worst human development indices in the region. At the same time, publicly owned companies were privatized by oligarchic governments beginning in 1952, and Presidents took turns auctioning off the people’s welfare and the assets they were elected to protect, not embezzle.

Nonetheless, as expert Darío Restrepo points out in a study conducted by the National University of Colombia, a new program was implemented with the arrival of the Morales administration, very different from that of the previous 20 years.

“Instead of exclusively representative democracy, power was redirected to indigenous, rural, and popular communities, peoples, and organizations; instead of the President calling for a modern, Western, liberal Bolivia, he expresses the aspiration for a multi-national Bolivia, criticizes the ‘colonial state’ and liberal, bourgeois democracy,” Restrepo states.

BOLIVIA WITH EVO

According to Chilean newspaper La Tercera, in the last 12 years the Bolivian economy has grown 4.9% annually, far exceeding the regional average of 2.7%, and tripling its GDP from 11.5 billion to the current 37.77 billion.

This publication also reports that, according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), inflation rose by just 2.7% in 2017, the lowest figure in ten years, while the labor market strengthened.

On the other hand, in an interview with the Bolivian leader by BBC Mundo, Evo described, as another of the battles of his government, the fact that for three or four consecutive years his nation has shown the highest economic growth in all of South America. “That has never happened since the founding of the Republic,” he reaffirmed.

Another achievement of his Presidency is the reduction of poverty. According to teleSUR, in 2017 Bolivia made considerable progress on this front, with the poverty rate falling to its lowest level in history, at 36.4%.

The minimum income has increased up to 127%, and the minimum wage of workers is the second best in Latin America.

But the population has not only benefited economically. As the Bolivian President says in the interview, “The most humiliated and marginalized sector, which was that of women of all social and indigenous classes, now has a place in the Plurinational State.”

“We all have the same rights and duties,” he stressed.

According to analyst Hugo Siles, “The contemporary history of Bolivia is divided in two: before and after Evo Morales.” In addition, he stresses in La Nación, “Bolivia has changed substantially in the last decade, there is a before and after with Evo Morales. It is a very different nation socially, economically, and politically. The arrival of Morales implied a 180-degree turnabout on issues such as the management of natural resources and the inclusion of indigenous peoples.”

At the same time, Siles recognizes that much remains to be done, especially on issues related to reforms or changes in the judicial system, and greater recognition of the LGBT+ population.

This modest man, from a humble family, who worked as a bricklayer, baker, and trumpeter to pay for his studies, was branded a terrorist and demonized by the opposition to curb his political aspirations. But in 2005, he won the Presidential elections with 53.7% of the votes, a level of support that continues to date.

IN FIGURES

• The Morales government has recently announced a 1.5 billion dollar investment in roads and airports.

• With Evo Morales as President, Bolivia has established 3,000 primary health care facilities and more than 200 for secondary assistance.

• More than 85% of the population has access to potable water, an everyday issue in the past.

• Some 1.4 billion land titles have been awarded to small farmers and indigenous peoples.

• A “Dignity” benefit is provided to 900,000 older adults, thanks to an allocation of more than 2.9 billion dollars

• A total of 14% of the state budget is destined to education.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments

Florida bill would censor info on Israel-Palestine in schools, colleges

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | January 25, 2019

Three Florida state lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that uses a new, Israel-centric definition of “anti-Semitism” that experts say would censor information about Israel-Palestine in Florida public schools and colleges.

The bill’s sponsor is Republican Mike Caruso of Palm County. The co-sponsors are Democrat Michael Grieco of Miami Beach and Republican Anthony Sabatini of Lake County.

Israel partisans are promoting such bills around the United States at both the state and federal level. The bills are part of an international effort to use an Israeli created redefinition of anti-Semitism to prohibit and even at times criminalize the dissemination of negative facts about Israel.

Entitled “HB 371 Discrimination In Florida K-20 Public Education System,” the bill contains a section on what it calls “anti-Semitism” that is virtually identical to a bill already passed in South Carolina.

Legislation using using the same Israel-centric definition has been introduced in the U.S. Congress.

Section #7 of the Florida bill states that “a public K-20 educational institution must take into consideration anti-Semitism when determining if a practice or act was discrimination on the basis of religion. For purposes of this section, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ means all of the following…” The bill then lists 13 actions that are “anti-Semitic.” Nine of them concern Israel.

The standard, dictionary definition of anti-Semitism, discrimination or hostility against Jews, says nothing about Israel.

The new, Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism was first formulated by an Israeli government minister in 2004. The official then assisted in procuring the adoption of this formulation in the United States. Israel partisan Hannah Rosenthal adopted it in the U.S. State Department in 2010.

‘Poses threat to free speech’

Numerous analysts oppose the bills on the basis that they violate freedom of speech and academic inquiry.

The Miami New Times reports that the  ACLU of Florida plans to track the bill’s progress to ensure that it doesn’t silence political speech. An ACLU Florida spokesperson said that addressing anti-Semitism and all forms of religious discrimination “is crucial, but it does not justify silencing constitutionally protected speech. All Floridians have the right to free speech without the threat of government interference.”

The national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a record of opposing such legislation, stating that it poses “a serious threat to the First Amendment free speech rights of those on campus who may hold certain political views.”

In a letter of opposition to the federal bill, the ACLU stated: “The First Amendment prevents the federal government from using its great weight to impose severe penalties on a person simply for sharing a political viewpoint critical of Israel.”

An ACLU analysis points out that “anti-Semitic harassment is already illegal under federal law.” The new legislation “does not change that fact, but its overbreadth makes it likely that it will instead silence criticism of Israel that is protected by the First Amendment.”

The article, entitled “The Latest Attack on Free Speech in the Israel-Palestine Debate,” states that there is a “disturbing surge of government-led attempts to suppress the speech of people on only one side of the Israel-Palestine debate. The trend manifests on college campuses, in state contracts, and even in bills to change federal criminal law, but the impact is the same: Those who seek to protest, boycott, or otherwise criticize the Israeli government are being silenced.”

The authors conclude: “These efforts to censor criticism of the Israeli government and advocacy for Palestinian rights do a disservice to the real problem of anti-Semitism in the United States.”

‘Affront to academic freedom’

One of the individuals who helped write the Israel-centric definition, attorney Kenneth Stern, has written that imposing it on campuses is “unconstitutional and unwise.” According to Stein, applying the definition to colleges “is a direct affront to academic freedom.”

Mike Caruso, sponsor of the Florida bill, is serving his first term in the Florida legislature after an extremely close election, winning with a 32-vote margin out of about 80,000 votes cast.

He represents Palm Beach County, known as a particularly pro-Israel area of Florida; approximately one third of the residents are Jewish and there are frequent pro-Israel events in the area. The local Jewish Federation website features a prominent announcement for the 2019 convention of the Israeli American Council, which advocates for Israel.

Recent related legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month passed a bill that would force President Trump to appoint a special envoy who would monitor criticism of Israel.

The position was created in 2005 as part of the effort for the U.S. to adopt the Israel-centric definition. The bill has not yet gone to the Senate.

The first Senate bill of 2019, S.1, would finalize a $38 billion package to Israel, the largest military aid package in U.S. history. Attempts to move the bill to a quick vote have stalled while Congress debates the government shutdown.

The bill is sponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, whose major backers include pro-Israel advocates Norman Braman, a Florida businessman, Paul Singer, and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

A companion bill, H.R.336, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Toxic femininity: ‘Badass’ US women demand right to torture and kill for Empire… just like men

© Global Look Press / Marvel Studios
By Michael McCaffrey | RT | January 25, 2019

Thanks to a new wave of feminism and its call for equality, it isn’t just toxic men who can kill, torture and surveil in the name of US militarism and empire, women can now do it too!

This past weekend was the third annual Women’s March, which is a protest originally triggered by Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election that encourages women across America to rise up against misogyny and patriarchy.

As sincere as these women are in their outrage, in their quest for power they are inadvertently reinforcing the immoral and unethical system that they claim to detest. This is most glaringly apparent when this new feminism boldly embraces the worst traits of the patriarchy in the form of militarism and empire.

The rise of #MeToo, Time’s Up and the anti-Trump Women’s Movement, has brought forth a new wave of politically and culturally active neo-feminists. This modern women’s movement and its adherents demand that “boys not be boys”, and in fact claim that the statement “boys will be boys” is in and of itself an act of patriarchal privilege and male aggression. The irony is that these neo-feminists don’t want boys to be boys, but they do want girls to be like boys.

The inherent contradiction of that ideology was on full display recently when the American Psychological Association (APA) put out a guide to treating men and boys. In the guide’s summary the APA makes the extraordinary claim that “traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.”

These APA guidelines blatantly turn “traditional masculinity” and “toxic masculinity” into synonyms, and never once mention testosterone, revealing a staggering ignorance of male biology. The APA is in essence blaming the bull for his horns.

Further diminishing their credibility, how can anyone look at the mess that is the current emotional state of our world and think we need less stoicism and not more?

The hypocrisy of the APA guidelines are glaringly evident because everywhere you look nowadays girls and young women are constantly being urged to be more competitive, dominant and aggressive. I guess when women do it, it is empowering, but when men do it, it is dangerous.

Women, and some men, often tell me that if women were in power, the world would be a better and safer place. But that old trope, which obviously animates the feminist movement of today, is foolishness. I mean have none of these people ever heard of that pernicious beast Margaret Thatcher? And does anyone think that Hillary Clinton’s proposed no-fly zone over Syria or her tough talk about Russia would have led to more peace and less war?

Another example of the vacuity of this ideology is the group of Democratic women with military and intelligence backgrounds who won seats in Congress in 2018. These women, who have dubbed themselves “The Badasses”, how toxically masculine of them, are being touted as the “antidote to Trump.”

No doubt these former military and intelligence “badasses” will be so much less toxic than their male counterparts when they demand the US “get tough” by militarily intervening across the globe to further American interests. This sort of star-spangled belligerence is no less toxic in a pantsuit than a three-piece suit, and will only lead to more victims of America’s “competitiveness, dominance and aggression” around the world.

Other toxically-masculine women in government are also being hailed as great signs of women’s empowerment.

Gina Haspel is the first female director of the CIA and women now also hold the three top directorates in that agency. Ms. Haspel proved herself more than capable of being just as deplorable as any man when she was an active participant in the Bush-era torture program. No doubt the pussy-hat wearing brigade would cheer her “competitiveness, dominance and aggression” when torturing prisoners… most especially the traditionally masculine ones.

Hypocritical Hollywood has long been a haven for toxic masculinity, be it in the form of depraved predators like Harvey Weinstein or Woody Allen or counterfeit tough guys like John Wayne. Hollywood has also long been the propaganda wing of the US military machine. It is well established that for decades Hollywood and the Department of Defense have worked hand in hand in creating movies that tout muscular American militarism and empire.

Now Hollywood and the Department of Defense (DoD) are using the social justice calling card of “diversity and inclusion” to take the next step in indoctrinating young people with the noxious ideology of American exceptionalism and aggression… but this time they are targeting girls and young women.

The latest product of the Hollywood and DoD propaganda machine is the Disney/Marvel movie, Captain Marvel, which comes out this March. The film, which has a budget worth $150 million and stars one of the leading feminist voices in Hollywood, Academy Award winner Brie Larson, tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former Air Force pilot who “turns into one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes.”

With Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans set to potentially leave their roles as Iron Man and Captain America respectively, Disney is positioning itself to replace them as the face of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who is described as a “badass superheroine”… one more flag-waving, badass lady for the girls to look up to!

The movie has been described as “the recruiting tool of the Air Force’s dreams”, and will no doubt be a huge boost to female recruitment, much like Tom Cruise and Top Gun boosted male military recruitment in the 1980’s.

The DoD has reportedly been partnered with Marvel since 2008’s Iron Man. The DoD and Air Force demand that any film project with which they assist “portrays the Air Force and military in an accurate way and that it is in the service’s interest to partner on the project.”

It is good to know that feminist Brie Larson is cashing in by partnering with the Air Force to make a movie that indoctrinates millions of US kids, specifically girls, with the dream of being able to bomb innocent people across the globe from miles up in the sky and look really “badass” while doing it.

I’m sure Ms. Larson, a public and outspoken advocate for abuse victims here in America, has meticulously weighed the pros and cons of being a recruitment tool for the US military, which in recent years has aided and abetted, or been directly responsible for, the murder of women and children in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

The cacophony of feminist voices in the public sphere has effectively challenged some minds about some things, but not the right minds about the right things. The mendacious US establishment and its virulent military industrial complex have co-opted this current feminist moment and are using it to further solidify their deadly stranglehold on the American consciousness and Brie Larson is now an accomplice to that crime.

Is this what the new wave of feminism is all about, putting lipstick on the pig of American empire and militarism and calling it a victory for equality? If so, I’ll pass on that toxic femininity.

I’ll stick with traditional masculinity, you know, the stoic kind, whose adherents, principled men like Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Daniel Ellsberg, Pat Tillman and Edward Snowden, among many others, all did the right thing in the face of enormous opposition, and who didn’t tout themselves as “badass,” didn’t start fights but finished them, didn’t torture, didn’t spy and didn’t bomb innocent women and children into oblivion.

The bottom line is this, I fervently believe that men and women should be equal in their rights and opportunities, but I believe just as fervently that regardless of gender, no one has the right to kill, maim and torture for the American empire.

Michael McCaffrey is a freelance writer, film critic and cultural commentator. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he runs his acting coaching and media consulting business. mpmacting.com/blog/

Read more:

The Pentagon & Hollywood’s successful and deadly propaganda alliance

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Charges do not relate to ‘Russian collusion’, says Roger Stone, pleads not guilty

RT | January 25, 2019

Released on bail after the early morning arrest in Florida, political operative Roger Stone said the charges against him are false and “politically motivated” and categorically denied any connection with WikiLeaks or Russia.

“I am falsely accused of making false statements during my testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. That is incorrect,” he said at the steps of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida courthouse on Friday morning.

Stone said 22 FBI agents arrived at his home “at the crack of dawn” though he was willing to surrender peacefully, adding that he intends to plead not guilty.

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president,” he said. “I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated.”

Asked if anyone in the Trump campaign asked him to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 US presidential election, Stone replied, “No.”

Asked if he had any contact with Russians, he said, “Categorically not.”

Stone described himself as one of President Donald Trump’s “oldest friends” and a “fervent supporter.” He advised the Trump presidential campaign at the outset, but parted ways with it in August 2015.

The 24-page indictment published on Friday accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Congress – all in the course of special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” investigation that started in May 2017.

Asked by reporters if he would ask or accept a pardon from Trump, Stone said the only pardon he ever advocated is for Marcus Garvey – the black political activist jailed in the 1920s by the predecessor of the FBI on charges of mail fraud, so he could be deported to Jamaica.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | 1 Comment

Silence of the Lambs: The Case of Marzieh Hashemi

By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch | January 25, 2019

In the wake of the outcry after the abduction and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—in a foreign country and under the directive of a rogue Crown Prince—one would think the threshold to condemn the detention of an American journalist in the United States without charge or trial would be quite low. Unfortunately, it has proven to be nearly insurmountable.

Marzieh Hashemi, a US citizen and anchorwoman of Iran’s English-language news station, PressTV, had been held under these circumstances for 10 days beginning shortly after her arrival to St. Louis Lambert International Airport Jan. 12 to work on a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. She was finally released, again without charge, on Wed Jan. 23.

Hashemi was purportedly an alleged material witness in an as-yet unspecified investigation. She was forced to remove her headscarf and offered pork to eat, both against the tenets of her religion, before being transferred to Washington, D.C. to an unknown location.

As such, the muted response of those organizations whose primary purpose is to stand for press freedoms and human rights and against religious intolerance was rather remarkable.

The Committee to Protect Journalists “expressed concern” in their statement on the situation but simultaneously found it necessary to add that, “Iran routinely jails journalists” as if to provide pretext for the US to do likewise.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the self-proclaimed largest US Muslim civil rights advocacy organization, called on the Department of Justice to merely “explain” why an American citizen living in Iran was deprived of her religious and due process rights. Indeed, CAIR’s national executive director politely asked law enforcement officials to just “clarify” the matter.

The incarceration of Hashemi was nowhere to be found on the Reporters Without Borders action page. Even the American Civil Liberties Union was seemingly mum on the case despite its salient “No Charges? No Trials? No Justice” article on Indefinite Detention.

The FBI and federal officials confirmed Hasehemi was not accused of or charged with any crime although little else is being said. The allowance that a witness may be so held if they are considered a flight risk, unwilling to respond to a subpoena or testify in a criminal proceeding of vital importance is more properly debated in legal circles (never mind that the myriad of legal experts routinely appearing on the various US cable news channels have not said anything on Hashemi but had the time to speak at length about CNN’s Jim Acosta’s ban from White House press briefings). However, the circumstances of Hashemi’s detention, that she is employed by an Iranian television station and in the context of the bellicose rhetoric adopted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisory John Bolton against Iran, made her confinement more than suspect.

Regardless of the legal ramifications and precedent set, the silence of groups and organizations regarding her ill-treatment and custody set an equally dangerous one. It highlights what little courage it takes to condemn atrocities committed abroad by foreign governments yet the mistreatment of an American journalist on domestic soil by US authorities will go unchecked.

It is this duplicitous, timid, half-hearted-to-absent response which requires “explanation” and “clarification” for us all.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

De-Dollarization? Analysts on Why Beijing Won’t Slash Its US Bonds Holdings

By Ekaterina Blinova | Sputnik | 25.01.2019

Beijing will not significantly reduce its investment in US government bonds, China Securities Regulatory Commission’s Fang Xinghai told the World Economic Forum. Speaking to Sputnik, CCTV editor Tom McGregor and Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel shared their views on the hidden meaning of Fang’s statement.

“China will continue to be a savings surplus country for some time, though the saving is declining. We have to invest abroad, and the US government bond market turns out to be a good place to invest”, Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, remarked while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 22 January.

Sputnik reached out to Tom McGregor, a Beijing-based political analyst, senior editor and commentator for China’s national broadcaster CCTV, and Charles Ortel, Wall Street journalist, investor and investigative journalist, asking them to share their views on Fang’s “message” that came amid trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

What’s Behind China’s Message

“US President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are still in the middle of a 90-day trade truce”, McGregor pointed out while commenting on the issue. “Beijing does not wish to see a return of Trump as ‘Tariff Man’, so of course, they would announce at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that Beijing would not intentionally sabotage US financial markets by slashing its US bond holdings”.

According to the Beijing-based commentator, “China believes they can score a win-win trade deal with President Trump”. And they are making much progress, McGregor highlighted.

In a July 2018 interview with Sputnik, the commentator strongly rejected speculations that Beijing may dump US government bonds in response to Trump’s tough tariff measures that the US kicked off in March 2018.

For his part, Ortel noted that Beijing is motivated by nothing less than “brutal reality”.

“There is only one debt market deep enough to absorb the massive sums that China already has, and may have, which it allocates towards ‘capital preservation’ as opposed to ‘equity speculation’ and that is the market for US government debt instruments”, the Wall Street analyst underscored.

He noted that Beijing’s choice is obvious given the fact that the US dollar “remains strong and could even appreciate against others in which liquid debt instruments are denominated”.

“In addition, an actual move by China away from US Treasury instruments would quickly be discerned and might add to building pressures towards a global markets panic”, he presumed.

According to Ortel, the People’s Republic also faces mounting internal pressures “because they have inflated a massive investment bubble in projects that likely are loss-making using strict accounting”.

“Considering the above, I imagine that China will retain massive holdings of US government debt even, and perhaps especially in a full-scale trade war, should one materialize”, the Wall Street analyst predicted.

Drifting Away From the Greenback

However, at the same time, China has clearly demonstrated its intent to move away from the greenback step by step. The People’s Republic is boosting its gold reserves and switching to national currencies in bilateral trade with Russia, Iran, Pakistan. It also signalled support for Turkey’s plan to ditch the dollar.

Furthermore, the Beijing-led One Belt and One Road project envisages the introduction of swap facilities in the countries of the region involved in the endeavour to promote the use of the yuan.

McGregor argues that one should not overestimate the apparent shift.

“The US dollar, the euro and Japanese yen are considered safe haven investments and will continue to be so”, he said. “China is forbidden to use the US dollar when conducting trade deals with North Korea and Iran due to economic trade sanctions. If the Chinese use US dollars on such occasions they stand the risk of getting arrested just like Meng Wanzhou if they make an appearance in Canada”.

He admitted that “in regards to Russia, Chinese law has encouraged Chinese companies to use the Russian rouble on financial transactions, but not sure if it’s on account of Washington-led economic sanctions imposed on Moscow”.

A Rush Out of US Treasury Debt by China Highly Unlikely

Commenting on the role of US Treasuries in China’s financial strategy, Ortel noted that “‘modern’ economists do not think clearly enough about the natural balances that emerge as nations develop their economies under a competitive global system”.

“In the early period, before citizens and nations build up substantial net worth, policies that accept devaluation arguably serve export-driven strategies”, the Wall Street analyst said. “However, nations such as China eventually become more concerned about where to invest their combined net worth for the longer term — and this is why US dollar sovereign debt becomes an attractive proposition”.

The investor elaborated that “if you are asked to develop a strategy for protecting the value of a ‘mere’ billion US dollars, you might flirt with betting against the US dollar with a portion of your holdings”. He continued that “if you, instead, are asked to protect one or more trillion dollars today and for the future, you will conclude that a substantial allocation to US Treasuries makes sense”.

“Until China proves that foreign investors are welcome inside their borders (coming and going) and reaches a trade and operating deal with the United States, our nations will be joined at the hip in the US government debt market”, Ortel emphasised, reiterating that “a rush out of US Treasury Debt by China is a low probability scenario”.

Economic Slowdown and Yuan Internationalisation

Sharing his prognosis for China’s economic growth in 2019-2020, McGregor suggested that it will continue to slowdown.

“If I had to pick a number for this year, I think 6.4 percent is a safe bet, but willing to go down to 6.2 percent”, the Beijing-based commentator predicted. “That’s pretty good, considering that China has enjoyed strong economic growth for so many years, successively”.

He pointed out, however, that “the Chinese are not panicking right now”.”Right now, China has introduced big-time tax cuts and that has already boosted Chinese consumption. I anticipate the tax cuts will really help Chinese households this year”, McGregor opined.

The journalist underscored that the expected trade deal between Washington and Beijing remain the focus of the Chinese’ attention.

“In order for Beijing to reach a trade agreement with Washington, China will be required to open up its financial markets to US banks and promote the renminbi internationalization”, McGregor explained. “Therefore, the People’s Bank of China must stop its strict restrictions on Chinese money flooding into overseas capital accounts”.

As a result, initially, the Chinese yuan may “drop in value as companies pour Chinese cash holdings out of the country and into overseas bank accounts”, he foresees. According to him, “this trend will be ongoing for 1-2 years before it settles down and some of that cash flows back into the China market”.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Israel warns Ireland over bill boycotting settlement goods, summons ambassador

RT | January 25, 2019

Israel has warned Ireland over passing a bill to ban imports of West Bank settlement products, saying the legislation, if adopted, would have “severe ramifications” on mutual relations, AP reported.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Friday it summoned Irish Ambassador Alison Kelly to the headquarters in Jerusalem and made Israel’s stance on the matter clear to her.

The ministry says the bill, which was advanced in Ireland’s lower house of parliament on Thursday, is “hypocritical and anti-Semitic.”

The law envisions prison terms and high fines for Irish businesses trading with goods originating from illegal settlements on occupied land.

If the bill becomes law, Ireland would become the first European country to ban settlement goods and would apply to illegal occupations anywhere in the world, not just Palestine and Israel.

The EU in 2015 issued guidelines on labeling settlement products. Palestinians see the West Bank as part of their future state.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 2 Comments

Juan Guaido: Imperial Point Man for a Venezuelan Civil War

By Jim Carey | Geopolitics Alert | January 23, 2019

Caracas – The imperial powers have found their new opposition point man in Venezuela; President of the National Assembly and President of the country according to some nations and organizations.

Now that the latest term of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has started and the western powers and their proxies refuse to recognize the Bolivarian government, the imperial states are in a mad dash to find a new face for the Venezuelan opposition. Now it seems that man has been found and the race is on, with state after state anointing the 35-year-old engineer Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó, now being called the “interim President” by everyone from Jair Bolsonaro, the Organization of American States (OAS), to Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau is the current president of the Venezuelan National Assembly. However, according to the states looking for a regime change in Venezuela, Guaidó isn’t just head of the parliament but also the rightful leader of Venezuela.

Guaidó has become a fast-rising star in the political opposition which has led the anti-Maduro National Assembly an opportunity to make political hay and possibly get outside assistance. The opposition acted on this chain of events Tuesday when the National Assembly declared Guaidó the interim President and said he is in charge of organizing new “legitimate” elections.

Putting a new face to the Venezuelan opposition then immediately allowed for all sorts of anti-Maduro actors use Guaidó as their man to rally around.

So now that there is a new imperial point-man inside Venezuela the real question is, what happens next?

There are two likely outcomes to the rise of Guaidó, one of which is contingent on him succeeding and the other which would be another complete failure for the imperialists.

Guaidó launches his campaign today following several days or organizing protesters at rallies in Caracas. The protests have already started to turn violent as of this writing with at least four dead and the opposition calling for the military to “rise up” against the Bolivarian government.

This is all backed by countries like Canada, European nations and sham imperial bodies like the Organization of American States (OAS), which also encourage regime change and now want Guaidó as the man to lead it. Surprisingly, US President Donald Trump was one of the few holdouts who had yet to recognize Guaidó as President but finally caved today.

Guaidó himself has also made promises that should the imperialists allow him to become president and his government to take over they would be welcomed back into the international community. The faux president has also made promises that under his leadership Venezuela would “easily” receive debt relief and loans. At the same time they’re doing this, the opposition also continues to push through measures to freeze the state’s assets, punishing average Venezuelans more in order to entice into turning on Maduro.

This kind of financial manipulation by the opposition coupled with the protests starting to say are essentially an insurrection against a state sponsored by the imperial powers. While protests aren’t necessarily “warfare,” the calls on the military to revolt also show that the opposition doesn’t just want to use civil disobedience but they’d be fine with a violent civil war.

Civil war may be one possible outcome of this latest anti-Maduro frenzy but there is also the possibility that these protests – like those in 2017 – fail. If Guaidó is looking to be president he obviously can’t have this happen or he’ll likely end up like Leopoldo Lopez, Washington’s last golden boy and fellow party member with the “interim President.”

Much like Guaidó, Lopez led protests that became violent and saw protesters causing damage meant to cripple Venezuelan infrastructure for extended periods of time. The problem for López is his little “uprising” failed, he was held accountable for encouraging the violence, and is now on house arrest.

If Guaidó and the empire fail again the “interim President” can likely look forward to the same fate.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Justifying the 17-Year War

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 25, 2019

When I first learned about the Thirty Years War in a history class in college, I was both fascinated and amazed. How in the world could a war go on for 30 years? That just seemed incomprehensible to me.

Not anymore. The U.S. war on Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years. And if the American people follow the advice of Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it’s a virtual certainty that the United States will easily surpass the Thirty Years War and, maybe, the Hundred Years War, which needless to say, also amazed and fascinated me when I learned about its existence.

I can just see Americans 83 years from now breaking the 100-year-war record and exclaiming in celebration, “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! KAG! KAG! Keep America Great!”

O’Hanlon’s advice comes in the form of an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times. It’s entitled “Our Longest War Is Still an Important War.” In his op-ed, O’Hanlon says that it is important that U.S. troops remain occupying Afghanistan, perhaps even in perpetuity.

Why does O’Hanlon feel this way? The thrust of his piece is a variation on the theme that has guided the so-called war on terrorism ever since the 9/11 attacks way back in 2001— that it’s better for U.S. forces to kill the terrorists over there before they come over here to get us.

Not surprisingly, O’Hanlon ignores a very important point about this “war on terrorism” — that it is U.S. interventionism that is the cause of anti-U.S. terrorism.

Why is that important? Because the continued and perhaps perpetual interventionism that he is endorsing produces the very thing that he’s using to justify the continued interventionism.

When U.S. forces kill five “terrorists” over there, they bring into existence ten more terrorists. Those ten new terrorists then become the justification for remaining over there instead of coming home after killing those original five terrorists. Then, once they kill the ten, twenty more come into existence, which is then used to justify staying over there so that they can kill the twenty.

That’s how the “war on terrorism” has become perpetual, which President George W. Bush even suggested would happen way back in 2001.

Interventionists, of course, hate it when we libertarians point out this obvious fact. Recall that famous Republican presidential debate when Ron Paul pointed out that “they” came over here to kill us because the feds were over there killing them. His Republican opponents went ballistic, as did the mainstream press. No one is supposed to say that.

You see, the official position is that the terrorists just spring up and strike a nation, sort of like the flu. Or that they just hate America for its “freedom and values.” I suppose they would say that the Swiss, whose government simply minds its own business, are just plan lucky to have been spared the terrorist flu.

The reality is that the cause of anti-American terrorism is U.S. interventionism. Thus, if you stop the interventionism, the anti-American terrorism stops.

But that’s the last thing interventionists want. Interventionists don’t have any problems with the militarism, the national-security statism, the massive spending, the empire of domestic and foreign military bases, the invasions, the occupations, the CIA, the NSA, the assassinations, coups, partnerships with dictatorial regimes, secret surveillance, and the installing of pro-U.S. regimes around the world.

Interventionists and the national-security establishment always need official enemies. Recall that throughout the Cold War, the official enemy was Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union, along with “godless communism” and the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world, which, they said, was based in Moscow.

When they ostensibly lost their official enemy in 1989 with the end of the Cold War, that’s when they began killing people in the Middle East, including during their invasion of Iraq and the subsequent killing of Iraqi children with sanctions. That’s when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein because the official enemy. He was coming to get us, they said, with WMDs.

Then after the blowback of the 9/11 attacks, it was the terrorists, who morphed into the Muslims, who, we learned, were engaged in a centuries-long conspiracy to make the United States a part of a worldwide caliphate based on Sharia law.

Most recently, we’ve come full circle with Russia being made once again into an official enemy, along with terrorists and Muslims and, well, also illegal immigrants and drug dealers.

I wish that I could tell you that was all. If you really want to get scared, read O’Hanlon’s article. It turns out that there are so many more bugaboos out there, which have caused him to embrace a continuation of the 17-year war in Afghanistan. Apparently, there’s al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, “related groups,”and, get this — even ISIS-K! According to O’Hanlon, that stands for ISIS-Khorasan. I’ll bet you hadn’t heard of that last one. Scary!

How can any American citizen buy into this nonsense? Bring the troops home, now. All of them. And discharge them. Interventionists have done enough damage to our nation and to the people of Afghanistan (and Iraq, Syria, Libya, and so many other countries). It’s time to return to founding principles, especially America’s founding principle of non-interventionism.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment