Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

FBI Starts Going After US Citizens Who Attend Iran-linked Conference – Reports

Sputnik – August 11, 2019

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is going after American citizens who have already attended or plan to attend the New Horizon Conference (NHC) held by an Iranian media expert to discuss major global issues.

A Virginia-based ex-Pentagon official said FBI agents were knocking at his door at 6:30 am in May, cited by Medium.com. Michael Maloof had travelled to Mashhad in northeast Iran to attend last year’s NHC and was one of the guests invited to the next conference which is to be held in the Lebanese capital of Beirut in September. The agents, however, warned him of consequences if he decides to attend.

In July, the FBI reportedly sent agents to the Florida home of Scott Rickard, a former translator with the US Air Force and the US National Security Agency (NSA) who once attended New Horizon, also warning him to skip the conference or face arrest.

The bureau also reportedly approached former State Department diplomat J. Michael Springmann, asking him over the phone to attend a meeting and answer a few questions about the conference, but he turned down the request. Vernellia Randall, an African American academic who wrote the book “Dying while Black,” and who attended the conference in Tehran in 2015, was also visited by the FBI.

Hicks said the FBI’s intimidation techniques set a “new low” in America’s approach to its relationship with Tel Aviv, where it has constantly backed the regime despite its many atrocities against the people of Palestine, Lebanon and more recently Syria. Later Hicks told Press TV that the FBI turned up at his door and warned him that New Horizon was being held by what they called “Iranian intelligence” without giving any evidence.

Nader Talebzadeh, the renowned Iranian intellectual and journalist who chairs the New Horizon organization, has filed a petition with the Treasury, appealing the decision.

“The consequence of your highly inaccurate and inflammatory allegations have had the result of seriously damaging our reputation, costing us a major loss of business and longtime friendships,” he wrote in the petition, adding that the NHC is a forum for free thought and expression of these thoughts.

See also:

Israeli elements behind US ban on New Horizon; FBI harassment of guests: Ex-diplomat

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Gentle and Loving but Still a Settler

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | August 11, 2019

Last week a car drew up alongside Dvir Sorek outside the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz. Dvir was on his back from Jerusalem where he had bought a book, a novel by David Grossman, as a gift for his teacher. He was almost home when a man jumped out of the car and stabbed him to death.

David Grossman did not know him but did not hesitate to add to the eulogies: the young man was clearly “a kind, sensitive youth who loved others and loved peace with the soul of an artist.” Netanyahu declared that the murderers would soon be found. Soldiers swooped on the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, raiding houses and confiscating security camera footage. Later four Palestinians were arrested in another village.

Grossman’s son was killed during the invasion of Lebanon in 2006, and Sorek’s grandfather on his mother’s side, a rabbi, also a settler of occupied land, killed in an attack near Nablus in 2000.   These other deaths made the killing of Dvir Sorek seem even more poignant.   “Death as a way of life,” declared the Times of Israel, blaming Hamas for the attack, even though the identity and possible ideological affiliations of the attacker/s were not known, as if the death of others was not a way of life for the state of Israel.

The media described Sorek as a student at a yeshiva, or religious school, in his case the hesder (‘arrangement’) yeshiva at Migdal Oz. The programs in the hesder schools blend advanced religious instruction with military service. Government funding makes an application to be listed as a hesder yeshiva an attractive option. Not all courses are of the same duration. They may last for three, four or even five years, with the active military service component varying from about 17 months to two years. Almost all hesder yeshiva students join combat units.

Officially, the peace-loving Dvir Sorek was an IDF soldier even though he had not yet begun the military component of his   course. No doubt this is the reason he was not armed when he was attacked.

In the West Bank yeshiva students, or former yeshiva students, especially those who fall under the heading of the ‘hilltop youth,’ are in the forefront of anti-Palestinian violence, from beating and occasionally killing to attacks on mosques, the destruction of olive trees and crops and the harassment, intimidation and abuse of the general population in general, women and children included. Their hatreds extend to all non-Jews and even ‘Hellenized’ or secular Jews, including those representing the state, including the soldiers who protect them. One has to wonder where this comes from if not religious instruction at the hands of their rabbis.

The history of the hesder schools go back to the 1960s. More recently, the lack of enthusiasm for war among Israel’s secularized youth, especially wars fought on the other side of what they regarded as Israel’s borders, has increased the appeal of religiously indoctrinated hesder zealots to the military command.

For secular Israeli Jews the enemies are Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and behind them, Iran, but for orthodox religious Jews, the enemy is Amalek, existential, taking different shapes and different forms at different stages of history but always there.

The injunction to destroy the tribe of Amalek is laid down in several passages of the Bible. According to Deuteronomy: “The Lord said to Moses ‘Write this down in a book to be remembered and tell it to Joshua: (God) will completely blot out any memory of Amalek … Remember what Amalek did to you on the road as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the road, attacked those in the rear, those who were exhausted and straggling behind when you were tired and weary. He did not fear God. Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance to possess you (Israelites) are to blot out all memory of Amalek from under heaven. Don’t forget!’ (Deuteronomy 25/17-19).

The message to the first king of Israel and Judah, Saul, from the prophet Samuel is even more forceful: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ (Samuel 1:15.3). Saul went to war against the Amalekites but did not kill them all, allowing their king to live and preserving the best of the livestock.

Learning of this, Samuel tells him he has been rejected by God and will lose his kingdom. He then kills the Amalekite himself. Saul lives until defeated by the Philistines in the battle of Gilboa, after which he either commits suicide or is killed by an Amalekite, according to differing Bible accounts but his death is seen as the consequence of having disobeyed God’s injunction to kill all the Amalekites.

All of this might have happened thousands of years ago – or did not happen as described – but it remains as fresh as yesterday in the thinking of orthodox religious scholars. In the modern age these injunctions are subject to numerous interpretations, partly based on what ‘blotting out’ could mean. Maimonides (12th-13th century) explains the commandment as meaning that if the Amalekites accepted Jewish law and agreed to pay a tax there would no need to kill them. There are numerous variations on the theme that ‘blotting out’ did not mean physical annihilation.

Steven Leonard Jacobs points out that the overwhelming majority of the world’s Jewish population does not draw such deadly conclusions, “much less the implication that they [the Palestinians] must be genocidally destroyed.” While those who do take the Biblical injunctions literally “are in the minority … they do exist and [they] present an ongoing challenge to how one reads history and sacred texts.” They keep the door open to violence: however wrongly understood, “there is an understanding that the enemies of the Jewish people are the literal and lineal descendants of the past.”

These genocidal invocations – as they would be regarded now – are read in synagogues at certain times of the year (during the ‘reading cycle’) and are emphasized again during the festival of Purim, celebrating the delivery of the Jews from Haman, the high Persian court official who planned to kill them all.

For the most extreme Jewish settlers, Amalek is still out there, waiting. According to Benzi Lieberman, former head of the Yesha settler council, “The Palestinians are Amalek … we will destroy them. We won’t kill them but we will destroy their ability to think as a nation. We will destroy Palestinian nationalism.”

However, Amalek is frequently invoked in the political mainstream, which has steadily shifted further to the right since the election of Menahim Begin in 1977 and now includes those once regarded as extremists if not outright fanatics. In the 1950s David Ben-Gurion referred to “the hosts of Amalek from north, east and south.” Begin opposed reparations from Germany, which he regarded as Amalek. During the siege of Beirut in 1982 he described PLO leader Yasser Arafat as Hitler hiding in his bunker, thus another manifestation of Amalek. Speaking in Cracow in 2010, without naming names but clearly thinking of Iran, Netanyahu said “A new Amalek is appearing and once again threatens to annihilate the Jews.” According to the ‘libertarian’ Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin “the Arabs engage in typical Amalek behaviour … I can’t prove this genetically but this is the behaviour of Amalek.”

Throughout history, while identifying Amalek as the existential enemy, Jews never had the power to destroy Amalek but now they do, in a state of their own that has an arsenal of nuclear weapons. According to Steven Jacobs “the propensity of rightwing settlers to identify the Palestinians with the Amalekites has sometimes had deadly consequences” The commandment to exterminate the Amalekites has been preserved by the rabbis “and for that reason, it remains a potential source of conflict.” Needless to say, Mr Jacobs does not regard the Palestinians as Amalekites.

Dvir Sorek was 18 and only a few days short of his 19th birthday when he was killed. He had not begun the military component of his course but in his religious studies he would have had to consider the injunctions to ‘blot out’ the Amalekites. What impact this would have had on his development as a soldier no-one can say.

In the eulogies Dvir was described as a gentle soul, as innocent and full of love for family and friends, all of which he probably was, but he was also living in occupied territory. Ofra, the settlement in which he lived, is illegal even under Israeli law because it was largely built on privately owned Palestinian land.

While a Palestinian drove in the knife, who must take ultimate responsibility for his death, if not the state which seized the land and the settler-colonists who have moved there, including Dvir’s parents? They may have shared the belief that the land was God’s selective gift to the Jewish people; they may have decided to live there because of subsidised housing and tax breaks but whatever their motives, they were living on the West Bank in breach of international law and they would have known it.

The UN General Assembly has passed numerous resolutions affirming the right to resist colonial domination and occupation by all means. It is only putting into print what has been human practice since the beginning of time. An occupied people will resist with all the means at their disposal. In the 1950s the white settlers of Kenya no doubt included loving gentle souls, but they were killed just as ruthlessly as anyone else by the Mau Mau. In the last stages of the Algerian war of independence (1964-62), the FLN (National Liberation Front) slaughtered many French settlers, including women and children innocent of any crime but part of a white settler community which had established itself through violence, collective punishment, the expropriation of land and the ‘purchase’ of land on the basis of forged or spurious documents. Needless, these are the precise tactics used by the Zionists in their occupation of Palestine.

For those whose land is being occupied, it is immaterial whether the colonial settler is a gentle soul or a ranting religious bigot or a family looking for subsidised housing and tax breaks. The settler is always the settler, the usurper of someone else’s lands and rights, to be resisted as long as possible.

It was the Zionists who began the cycle of violence in Palestine and logic demands that they must take the first steps to end it but for the Israeli government, logic is the logic of force and not the logic of justice, law, ethics and morality. The wrong, fateful, irreversible decisions Israel has made will mark its history forever: occupation instead of withdrawal, injustice instead of justice, war instead of peace, including more war, inevitably, beyond the borders of Palestine.

Israel has never had such a degree of military, economic and political support from its great benefactor, the US. Drugged with the sense of its own power it builds even more settlements as it moves steadily towards annexation, thereby guaranteeing that there will be more Dvir Soreks, and far more Palestinian men, women and children killed in the struggle against occupation. Israel is dragging itself and the region into a future even darker than the past.


Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Just the facts?

By Gavin Schmidt | Real Climate | August 9, 2019

In the wake of the appalling mass shootings last weekend, Neil DeGrasse Tyson (the pre-eminent scientist/communicator in the US) tweeted some facts that were, let’s just say, not well received (and for which he kind of apologised). At least one of the facts he tweeted about was incorrect (deaths by medical errors are far smaller). However, even if it had been correct, the overall response would have been the same, because the reaction was not driven by the specifics of what was said, but rather by the implied message of the context in which it was said. This is a key feature (or bug) of communications in a politicized environment, and one that continues to trip up people who are experienced enough to know better.

Why bring this up here? Two reasons: First, I still come across scientists active in public communications in the climate realm that insist that their role is simply to give ‘just the facts’ and that they do so in a completely objective manner. Second, I often see people using ‘facts’ rhetorically to distract, diminish and devalue arguments with which they disagree without ever engaging with the arguments substantively. Thus it’s worth picking apart what is happened to Tyson with an eye to improving self-awareness on how ‘facts’ are received by the public and to help recognize, and maybe defang, the rhetorical use of irrelevant ‘facts’ as distractions. It should go without saying that, of course, I support basing discussions on truth, but any real discourse is far more than a mere recitation of facts.

Why isn’t a recitation of facts objective? The ‘fact’ is, that there are far more facts that can be brought up at any one time than there is time or energy to do so. Thus any intervention in a public discussion that is nominally fact-based has already been filtered – choices have been made in what is being presented, when it is being presented, how and why. All of these choices are subjective, and are affected by one’s own values and assessment of whether any intervention will be effective with respect to your goals. No facts really stand alone, all of them require explicit or implicit context to be made sense of.

For instance, “CO2 concentrations have exceeded 410ppm” is a fact but for the importance of this to be clear, the reader might need to know that CO2 is a gas, in the Earth’s atmosphere, and that historical levels were much lower but now are rising fast, and that it affects long-wave absorption of radiation in the atmosphere and that this is a big part of what maintains the Earth’s climate, and that the last time CO2 was so high was perhaps in the Pliocene (3 million years ago) when temperatures were perhaps 3ºC warmer and sea level was ~25 meters higher than now. That’s a lot of implicit context for a simple ‘fact’.

If readers have a different context, an equivalently factual statement such as “CO2 concentrations have reached 0.041% of the atmosphere”, might have quite a different (intended) implication. And indeed, I see this one used all the time, with the implicit context that 0.041% is more obviously a small number, and that (implicitly) small concentrations can’t possibly have an impact (notwithstanding all the times when they do), and thus discussion of human-related causes of the CO2 rise is a waste of time.

I recall an episode when Joe Bastardi, trying to diminish the importance of rising CO2 for climate, described it as a ‘colorless, odourless, and tasteless gas’. These statements are correct, albeit that they are totally orthogonal to concerns about it’s increasing radiative effect. When I criticized his subsequent conclusions, he responded by claiming I actually agreed with him on most of his statements!

The implicit context of statements of fact has been extensively discussed in the philosophy of argumentation (notably by Toulmin), and is described as the ‘warrant’ for any conclusion. In the two examples above, a different ‘warrant’ is being appealed to. (Read Walsh (2017) for a good discussion on this topic in a climate context). Since warrants are frequently not spelled out, they are both a source of implicit bias and confusion. Different audiences can perceive different warrants, or none, and, especially on social media, can often assume the worst.

Claims, then, of pure fact telling, are thus correctly suspect. And worse, tit-for-tat exchanges of facts, each with differing implied warrants are almost totally pointless since the tacit (and conflicting) contexts are not being addressed.

At best, interventions like Tyson’s are ‘tone deaf’, since the implied warrant (‘people die all the time, so don’t worry about these’) goes directly counter to the more widespread value of empathy for the victims, and concerns that nothing is being done about these kinds of events. Any intervention that doesn’t acknowledge the reasons why people care (that acknowledges and shares their values) is going to be controversial (at best).

To conclude, facts don’t just stand on their own, and purveyors of facts are actually relying on implicit warrants that are values-based. If the goal is to generate more light than heat, these warrants need to be explicitly acknowledged and discussed (and that goes beyond mere facts). Conversely, if people are tossing out irrelevant facts, countering with other facts isn’t going to be productive. Either examine the implicit warrants and values, or just move on.

References

1. L. Walsh, “Understanding the rhetoric of climate science debates”, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, vol. 8, pp. e452, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wcc.452

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

A Sino-Russian firewall against US interference

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | August 11, 2019

China has explicitly accused the United States and Britain for fomenting the “pro-democracy” protests in Hong Kong. Beijing has taken up the matter via the diplomatic channel demanding that the US intelligence should stop inciting and abetting the Hong Kong protestors. Last week photographic evidence appeared in the media showing the political counsellor in the US consulate in Hong Kong Julie Eadeh confabulating in the lobby of a local luxury hotel with the student leaders involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Washington has taken umbrage that Julie’s cover has been blown. She is apparently an expert who organised “colour revolutions” in other countries and it has been disclosed that she was involved in plotting “subversive acts” in the Middle East region. The Global Times wrote a blistering editorial. It said:

“The US administration has played a disgraceful role in the Hong Kong riots. Washington publicly supports the protests and never condemns violence that targets police. The US consulate general in Hong Kong is stepping up its direct interference in Hong Kong’s situation. The US administration is instigating turmoil in Hong Kong the way it stoked “colour revolutions” in other places worldwide.”

Is the Chinese allegation plausible? Writing in the Asia Times, the noted Canadian academic, economist and author Ken Moak made a good point recently that the protests are lavishly funded and their logistics and organisation are of a scale taxing resources that “only foreign governments or wealthy individuals who might profit from them” would commit. He detailed past instances of Anglo-American attempts to destabilise China.

Moak anticipates “more intense and violent” subversive operations against China by the US in the future.

Indeed, agents provocateurs are calibrating the protests almost on daily basis such as burning the Chinese flag and occupying the Hong Kong airport. The game plan is to force Beijing to intervene so that the deluge follows — western sanctions, et al.

With the 5G technology just about rolling out, this is an opportune time for the US to frogmarch its western allies into an economic boycott of China when countries like Germany and Italy that have flourishing trade and investment ties with China are loathe to get into the American bandwagon.

The well-known Italian journalist and author and long-time China watcher based in Beijing, Francesco Sisci wrote recently that Hong Kong is in reality Beijing’s “safety valve” and choking it can cause asphyxiation to the entire Chinese system. Sisci compares Hong Kong with “a compensation chamber, a safety valve between the closed economy of mainland China and the open economies of the rest of the world.”

If China could globalise avidly and yet keep its economy closed, it was because it had Hong Kong, which was completely open and provided the third-largest financial market in the world. If large-scale capital flight ensues in Hong Kong, China will have to work its future financial arrangements through countries over which it it doesn’t have political control. To quote Sisci, “Hong Kong’s present status can help Beijing buy time, but the crucial issue is still the status of China. The time of being both in and out the global commercial system thanks to a complex architecture of special agreements is rapidly running out.”

Simply put, the unrest in Hong Kong becomes a template of the US’ maximum pressure approach to break China’s growth momentum and its ascendancy as a rival in technology globally in the 21st century. The influential China hands in the US are already opening the champagne bottle that “revolution is in the air in Hong Kong” — and, it will mark “the end of communism on Chinese soil.”

Enter Russia. Coincidence or not, small fires are being lit lately on the Moscow streets as well, and they are spreading into significant protests against President Vladimir Putin. If the extradition law was the pretext for the Hong Kong turmoil, it is the election to the Moscow Duma (city legislature) that has apparently triggered the Russian protest.

Protestors in Moscow, August 10, 2019

Just as there is economic and social discontent in Hong Kong, the popularity of Putin has declined lately which is attributed to the stagnation of the Russian economy.

In both cases, the American agenda is blatantly “regime change”. This may seem surprising, since the Chinese and Russian leaderships appear rock solid. The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party over which President Xi Jinping presides and the popularity of Putin still at a level that is the envy of any politician anywhere in the world, but the doctrine of “colour revolutions” is not built on democratic principles.

Colour revolutions are about upturning an established political order and it has no correlation with mass support. The colour revolution is coup by other means. It is not even about democracy. The recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine exposed that the colour revolution of 2014 was an insurrection that the nation disowns.

Of course, the stakes are very high when it comes to destabilising China and Russia. Nothing less than the global strategic balance is involved. The US’ dual containment strategy against Russia and China is quintessentially the New American Century project —  US’ global hegemony through the 21st century.

The US wagered that Moscow and Beijing would be hard pressed to cope with the spectre of colour revolutions and that would isolate them. After all, authoritarian regimes are exclusive and into the sanctum sanctorum of their internal politics not even their closest friends or allies are allowed in.

This is where Moscow has sprung a nasty surprise for Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in Moscow on Friday that Russia and China should exchange information on the US interference in their internal affairs. She flagged that Moscow is aware of the Chinese statements that the US interferes in Hong Kong affairs and treats this information “with all seriousness.”

“Moreover, I think it would be right and useful to exchange such information through respective services,” Zakharova said, adding that the Russian and Chinese sides will discuss the issue soon. She added that the US intelligence agency is using technology to destabilise Russia and China.

Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry had summoned the head of the Political Section in the US embassy Tim Richardson, and presented him with an official protest against the US encouraging an unauthorised opposition rally in Moscow on August 3.

Indeed, Moscow is far more experienced than Beijing in neutralising covert operations by the US intelligence. It is a hallmark of the great skill and expertise as well as the tenacity of the Russian system that through the entire Cold War era and “post-Soviet” period, there has never been anything like the turmoil on Tiananmen Square in Beijing (1989) or Hong Kong (2019) triggered by the US intelligence.

Moscow’s message to Beijing is direct and candid — ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ No doubt, the two countries have been in consultation and wanted the rest of the world to know. Indeed, the message Zakharova transmitted — on a joint firewall against US interference — is of epochal significance. It elevates the Russia-China alliance to a qualitatively new level, creating yet another political underpinning of collective security.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Moscow Mitch, Secret Russian Subs… and Russophobia Derangement

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 11, 2019

Arch Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is being taunted by major US media outlets and at political rallies as a “Russian asset”. Meanwhile, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports on “super-secret” Russian submarines which are “operating unseen” in British territorial waters.

The collapse in rational thinking among American and British political mainstream circles is highlighted by the rampant Russophobia. Such thinking is delusional, paranoid and ultimately horrifying at a time of heightened international tensions between nuclear superpowers.

First, let’s deal with the farcical furore over Senator McConnell being labelled a Russian asset. The Senate majority leader has been dubbed by US news channel MSNBC and the Washington Post as “Moscow Mitch” and “doing Putin’s bidding”. The monikers followed McConnell’s blocking of legislation aimed at tightening security of electoral systems ostensibly to prevent “foreign meddling”.

It’s not clear why McConnell objected to the proposed legislation. It seems he doesn’t agree with extra federal controls over state-level electoral systems. Also, he claims that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent upgrading electoral systems, and therefore additional expenditure is not warranted. He is a fiscal hawk after all.

Nonetheless, it is a preposterous leave of senses when paranoid Russophobia in US politics and media are inferring that McConnell’s opposition to the proposed electoral legislation is “evidence” that he is a Russian agent, by allegedly enabling Russian hacking into US elections.

At a recent political event in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell was heckled and booed by Democrat supporters chanting “Moscow Mitch, Moscow Mitch!” The protesters were wearing T-shirts and brandishing placards with images of McConnell donning a Cossack hat with Soviet-era hammer and sickles.

Understandably, the 77-year-old senator has been aghast over the political attacks. He called it “modern-day McCarthyism” harking back to the Cold War years of Red Baiting. He even said it was worse than the past McCarthyism. And he has a point there.

McConnell’s exasperation is borne out of the complete irrational vacuousness of the accusations. The six-time elected lawmaker is the longest-serving Republican senator. He is a grandee of the traditionally rightwing party, with an “impeccable” record of being hawkish towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

How anyone can construe that good ole boy McConnell is a Russian stooge is too absurd for words. What the accusations do betray is the total derangement and politically illiterate condition of mainstream American political and media culture.

As Princeton Professor Stephen Cohen remarked in a recent interview Russophobia and paranoia over alleged interference in US politics has become a permanent mindset among too many American politicians, pundits, military-intelligence agencies and Democrat supporters. Cohen rightly deplores how the whole baseless narrative of “Russia-gate” continues with a life of its own, having not been finally made redundant after the two-year Mueller probe spectacularly failed to provide any substantive details or evidence.

Still, however, former FBI chief Robert Mueller in recent hearings before Congress was permitted to reiterate hollow accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential elections and, he asserted, Moscow will do so again in the 2020 elections. This is simply doctrinal thinking which is, in turn, accepted as “fact” that Russia’s President Putin ordered an “interference campaign” to subvert American democracy. (Moscow has always vehemently rejected that.)

That’s why when someone as antipathetic towards Russia as Senate leader Mitch McConnell exercises relative sanity by rejecting the alleged need for more electoral security systems to “prevent foreign meddling” he is then assailed with hysterical accusations of being a “Russian asset”. The utter irrationality is self-reinforcing because of unhinged delusions about Russian malignancy. No evidence is required. It’s “true” because “we believe it is true”.

McConnell has hit back at his detractors by calling them “leftwing hacks” and “communists”. He made that conclusion by referring to the Democrats’ policy of seeking to expand free healthcare for American citizens. He proudly called himself the “Grim Reaper” who would protect America from a “socialist agenda”.

This inane back and forth demonstrates how dumbed down American political culture is. Increasingly bitter partisan accusations and slander are flying around based on no facts, no evidence, no reason, nor any intelligent understanding about policy, history or political philosophy.

But, lamentably, at bottom the crazed political discourse relies on an embedded Russophobia. Russia is viewed as evil and malicious, by both sides of the political coin. Rather than addressing inherent problems in American society, the discourse finds a common false explanation – blame it on Russia or association with presumed communism. The Cold War nihilism of American politics and propaganda has never stopped. It’s just become more delusional and divorced from any semblance of reality. In this context, the modern-day Russophobia is perhaps more dangerous because of its irrationality and evidence-free doctrinal thinking.

Which brings us to the “super-secret” Russian submarines that are stalking Britain, according to the Daily Telegraph. The so-called report (more accurately, psy-ops piece) is a must-read for exposing the delusional anti-Russia paranoia that the British political class have in common with the Americans.

“A new breed of super quiet Russian submarines are feared [sic] to be operating unseen [sic] in British territorial waters, according to military sources [sic],” the Telegraph claimed.

The sources were, as usual, anonymous, betraying that the Telegraph was being used, as it often is, as a conduit for British intelligence propaganda.

Not one scrap of evidence was presented to substantiate these “fears” of “unseen” Russian submarines. Supposedly, the “unseen” vessels are “proof” of how dastardly and stealthy those damn Russians are. The point of the article was to deliver a public message for more military spending on Britain’s Royal Navy.

What makes it possible for the Daily Telegraph to publish such bogeyman rubbish is the systematic inculcation of Russophobia among many, but not all, Britons.

As with its American counterpart, British political culture has become degenerate and depraved. It is the equivalent of medieval sorcery and “magical thinking”. Standards of proof, reason and due process have been abandoned. It’s like a regression to pre-Enlightenment times. The fact that the US and Britain possess nuclear arsenals aimed at Russia makes the deranged thinking of their political class a truly frightening prospect for the entire world.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Would the Democrats Want to be “Tough” on Trade, as Opposed to Smart on Trade?

By Dean Baker | Beat the Press | August 11, 2019

The New York Times has created an absurd dilemma for Democrats, “how to be tougher on trade than Trump.” This framing of the trade issue is utterly bizarre and bears no resemblance to reality.

While Trump has often framed the trade issue as China, Mexico, and other trading partners gaining at the expense of the United States because of “stupid” trade negotiators, this has little to do with trade policy over the last three decades. The United States negotiated trade deals to benefit U.S. corporations. The point of deals like NAFTA was to facilitate outsourcing, so U.S. corporations could take advantage of lower cost labor in Mexico.

The same was true with admitting China to the W.T.O.. This both allowed U.S. corporations to move operations to China and also made it possible for retailers like Walmart to set up low-cost supply chains to undercut their competitors. The job loss and trade deficits that resulted from these deals were not accidental outcomes, they were the point of these deals.

U.S. negotiators have also made longer and stronger patent and related protections (which are 180 degrees at odds with “free trade”) central components of recent trade deals. While these provisions mean larger profits for drug companies and the software and entertainment industries, they do not help ordinary workers. In fact, by forcing our trading partners to pay more money for the products from these sectors, they leave them with less money for other exports.

Anyhow, given the reality of our trade policy over the last three decades it is hard to know what being “tough on trade” means. In the Trumpian universe (and apparently at the NYT ) this could make sense, but not in the real world. The question is whether our trade policy is designed to help ordinary workers or to increase corporate profits, “tough” is beside the point.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Epstein’s Death Must Be the Start, not the End, of the Investigation

By Craig Murray | August 11, 2019

There are a number of royal palaces and grand residences of former Presidents and Prime Ministers where the inhabitants have a little bit more spring in their step following the death of Jeffrey Epstein. The media is rushing to attach the label “conspiracy theory” to any thought that his death might not have been suicide. In my view, given that so many very powerful people will be relieved he is no longer in a position to sing, and given that he was in a maximum security jail following another alleged “suicide attempt” a week ago, it would be a very credulous person who did not view the question of who killed him an open one.

There has been a huge amount of obfuscation and misdirection on the activities of Epstein and his set. To my mind, the article which remains the best starting point for those new to the scandal is this one from Gawker.

Two days ago a federal court unsealed 2000 pages of documents related to the allegations against Epstein. Of these the most important appears to be a witness statement from Virginia Giuffre alleging that while a minor she had sex at Epstein’s direction with Senate Majority leader George Mitchell and former New Mexico Governor Bill Mitchell, plus a variety of senior foreign politicians.

Epstein’s sexual activities and partying with young girls were carried out in full view of key friends, his domestic and office staff, his pilots and of course the participants. There is no shortage of potential witnesses. Several of these really ought to be taking great care – though if I were them I would certainly eschew any protection involving US security services or law enforcement. Ghislaine Maxwell might take heed of her father’s fate and avoid swimming for a few years.

(I am probably not the only one old enough to compare the many similarities between Robert Maxwell’s asset stripping career and that of Philip Green. The progress of society after thirty years of Thatcher, New Labour and returned Tories meaning that Green by contrast got no criminal charges and much bigger yachts.)

In the UK, Ms Giuffre’s alleged relationship with Prince Andrew has been mentioned in the media. In fact the evidence that she had a relationship with Prince Andrew of some sort is overwhelming. Here is some of the actual evidence from the court documents.

The age of heterosexual consent in England is 16 and there is no indication that Prince Andrew is doing anything illegal in this photograph in which Ms Giuffre is 17. Nor is the photo in itself evidence of sex, though it certainly is intimate. The notion however that Ms Giuffre was “lent out” to Andrew may have legal implications as she was flown into the country, allegedly for the purpose.

No satisfactory alternative explanation has been offered as to what might have been happening here, as Ms Guffre’s lawyers noted.

No further details appear in the documents to amplify Ms Giuffre’s claim that she was forced to have sex with a “well known Prime Minister”, other than to repeat the claim. But what is plain is that her tale is not entirely invention. Just how much more did Epstein know, and who might he have taken down with him?

The truth is that sexual abuse by the rich and famous transcends all political boundaries. Bill Clinton was very frequently on Epstein’s plane and Epstein joins the very long list of those connected to the Clintons who died in dubious circumstances.

Two coincidences – the first being the bruise marks on the neck sustained in Epstein’s first “suicide attempt” in jail – remind me of the case of John Ashe, the senior official very close to the Clintons who died with bruise marks on his neck, when he accidentally dropped his barbell on his throat while bench-pressing alone at home.

Ashe was charged and awaiting trial for receiving corrupt funds from businessman Ng Lap Seng while Ashe was serving in the USA’s turn as President of the UN General Assembly. Ng Lap Seng, a six time visitor to the Clinton White House, had previously been accused of making very large illegal donations to Clinton campaign funds, and was subsequently arrested while entering the USA with over US $4 million in cash. Unlike the Clintons, Ashe was charged with taking Seng’s money and rather like Epstein may have had an interesting song to sing while going down, had he not conveniently dropped the barbell on his throat.

I said that the first thing that jogged me to link the Epstein/Clinton and the Ashe/Clinton cases was the bruise marks on the throat. The second is that both stories have been debunked by self proclaimed “conspiracy-busting” website Snopes – in a manner which shows that Snopes has no regard for the truth whatsoever.

In the case of John Ashe, Snopes wrote an utterly tendentious piece of “myth-busting” which stated that it was a myth that Ashe’s death occurred shortly before his trial and that he was not due to testify against the Clintons. Snopes failed to mention that Ashe, a very senior Clinton appointee, was charged with taking corrupt money from precisely the same man who had been very widely accused of giving corrupt money to the Clintons. And while it was true his trial was not imminent, his pre-trial deposition was.

In the Epstein/Clinton case Snopes wrote a piece debunking the notion that this is a photograph of Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private jet.

Snopes sets out to prove that this is not Epstein’s private jet but that of another billionaire, and that the girl is not Rachel Chandler. For the sake of argument I am prepared to accept what they say on both counts. But is the sensible reaction to that photo to say “Oh that’s OK it’s another billionaire’s jet” or to say “Why is Bill Clinton on a billionaire’s private jet in an intimate pose with a worryingly young female”? As with the Prince Andrew photo, although it has been circulating for years no alternative innocent explanation is on offer.

And the fact that this is another billionaire’s plane should open again the much wider question of networks of the rich and the powerful indulging each other’s passion for sexual exploitation of the young. It is a great shame that in the UK, the Establishment has been able to characterise the falsifications of Carl Beech as discrediting the entire notion of historical child sexual abuse. It is as though one person making up stories about a Bishop would mean there was never child exploitation in the Catholic Church.

The deeper question is why such a significant proportion of the rich and powerful have a propensity to want to assuage their sexual desires on the most vulnerable and powerless in society, as opposed to forming relationships among their peers. I suspect it is connected to the kind of sociopathy that leads somebody to seek or hoard power or wealth in the first place.

It is not necessary to develop that idea further, to understand that the Epstein case had given us a glimpse of criminal sexual behaviour which beyond doubt involves many powerful people. It is essential that the threads that can be grasped are now worked on assiduously to uncover the entire network.

I am afraid to say I suspect the chances of that actually happening are very slim indeed.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

Syria warns US-Turkey safe zone deal is a plot for “expansionist ambitions”

By Sara Abed | August 11, 2019

After three days of intense negotiations in Ankara, US and Turkish officials reached an agreement on Wednesday to create a joint operations center and set up a safe zone east of the Euphrates in north eastern Syria. Deal details have not yet been disclosed.

This last minute deal between Washington and Ankara is in response to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement on Sunday that Turkey was prepared to carry out a unilateral cross-border operation to push back Kurdish militias on the Syrian Turkish border east of the Euphrates river, if Washington didn’t cut ties with the Kurdish militias and create a safe zone in northern Syria.

The two NATO allies agreed that the Turkish based joint operations center would be created as soon as possible to address Turkey’s security concerns.  The safe zone would become a “peace corridor”, and efforts would be made so that Syrian refugees could return home.

However, wanting peace is just a front for Erdogan’s true motives. The Syrian government categorically rejects the deal as a blatant attack on Syria’s territorial sovereignty and warns of Erdogan’s real reasons for establishing a so-called safe-zone on Syrian soil.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said “The agreement constitutes a partnership between the US and Turkey over aggression against Syria that would serve the interest of the Israeli occupation entity. It also reflects how evasive and misleading the policies of the Turkish regime are.”

On Thursday an official Syrian source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told SANA “Syria expresses categorical rejection of the agreement announced by the US and Turkish occupations on establishing the so-called [safe zone] which constitutes a blatant aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and a flagrant violation of the principles of international law and the UN Charter.”

Turkey is using the excuse of protecting its borders against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who Turkey views as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), to fulfill its long-term mission of expanding its territory by invading and balkanizing its sovereign neighbor.

Many nations including the United States, who designated the PKK as a terrorist group in 1997, and Turkey who has been in conflict with the PKK since their inception in 1984, consider them to be a terrorist organization.

Another Turkish goal is to replace the indigenous diverse ethnic population in northern Syrian with extremists that are sympathetic to Erdogan, like we have seen in Afrin and other towns on Turkey’s border in northern Syria.

Erdogan’s plans for invasion and annexation will put Christian minorities in danger, some of whom can trace their lineage back to the original inhabitants of this land. However, Kurdish militias have also targeted them by using forced conscription and other Daesh-like intimidation tactics. The Kurdish Connection: Israel, ISIS And U.S. Efforts To Destabilize Iran explains more about how Kurdish militias have been used by the US to achieve their own objectives in the Middle East.

A statement issued by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states “This agreement has very clearly exposed the US-Turkish partnership in the aggression against Syria which serves the interest of the Israeli occupation entity and the Turkish expansionist ambitions and it unequivocally exposed the misleading and evasiveness which govern the policies of the Turkish regime.”

“Syria calls on the Arab people to be aware of the dangers of the expansionist ambitions of the Turkish regime which is spreading the killing and chaos in different parts of the Arab world from Syria to Libya and the Sudan and it will not stop till it will satisfy its illusions on reviving the Ottoman Sultanate,” the source said.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative concluded by saying that “Syria calls on the international community and the UN to condemn the US-Turkish flagrant aggression which constitutes a dangerous escalation and poses a threat to peace and security in the region and the world and hinders all positive efforts for finding a solution to the crisis in Syria.”

All the major players involved in the proxy war in Syria, including Turkey, Russia, and Iran want the US to leave, except of course the US-backed Kurdish SDF which are just a rebranding of the YPG.

US President Donald Trump has expressed interest multiple times in a swift troop withdrawal, and to let the local regional players figure things out. However, the war hawks surrounding him in Washington, along with the Pentagon have derailed his plans since last December. They have stressed that US interests need to be protected by having a long-term presence in the oil-rich, agriculturally rich, breadbasket of Syria, to keep an eye on Iran while protecting their ally, Israel.

As I have stated previously establishing an independent Kurdish state in Syria is just part of the decades-long Israeli-American plan to weaken and divide all the nations neighboring Israel.

Although it might seem like Russia has been uncharacteristically quiet this week regarding the latest developments with Turkey and the US in north eastern Syria, Russia has consistently stood by the Syrian government’s right to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Whether its occupation and annexation by the Kurds or Turks, Kurdification or Turkification, the Syrian government and military categorically reject any infringement on their land, and have adamantly stated they will take back every inch of Syrian territory from terrorists or occupiers.

August 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 4 Comments