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If US attempts to seize Iranian tankers carrying oil to Venezuela now, de-escalation will be more difficult than ever

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 3, 2020

To expand its “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign targeting Iranian oil and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command, the US has a warrant to seize the cargo of four tankers heading to Venezuela. We should expect the worst.

Just weeks ago, in May and June, the world watched with bated breath as Iran dispatched five tankers carrying cargoes of gasoline and chemicals desperately needed by the Venezuelan nation, starved as it was of the ability to refine its own gas, due to the US’ stringent economic sanctions. While protesting the move, Washington did nothing to stop it, beyond sanctioning the ships involved. In what appears to be a replay, the Iranian government has now engaged four ships – the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna – to deliver approximately 1,163,000 barrels of gasoline to Venezuela.

In an effort to prevent this, the US government sought, and obtained, a federal forfeiture warrant on the grounds that the sale of the cargo violates the law regarding economic activity conducted by or on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC), previously designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organization. The Iranian government has condemned the issuing of this warrant as an act of piracy.

How exactly the warrant will be executed, and what the consequences of such an action will be are scenario dependent. One possible scenario would be for the US to attempt a replay of last year’s gambit to bribe an Iranian ship’s captain to steer his vessel to a country that would then impound the tanker and its contents on behalf of the US.

The Iranian ship in question, a tanker named the Adrian Darya, had been seized by the UK on suspicion of violating EU sanctions regarding the sale of oil to Syria, and held in the port of Gibraltar. Iran, in retaliation, seized a British tanker operating in the Strait of Hormuz. After behind-the-scenes negotiations, a Gibraltan judge ordered the Iranian vessel to be released – but not before the US Justice Department had issued a warrant for the seizure of the ship.

Using the warrant as a stick, the State Department had its Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, contact the Iranian captain by email and offer him several millions of dollars to, in effect, defect with his ship and its cargo. The State Department was using a 1984 program known as ‘Rewards for Justice,’ which had been expanded under the Trump administration to target the IRGC by offering rewards of up to $15 million for information that led to the disruption of illicit Iranian activity.

In the case of the Adrian Darya, the effort failed. However, according to information contained in the complaint filed in support of the warrant, the owner of two of the ships engaged in the transport of gas to Venezuela, the Bella and Bering, both sailing under Liberian registry, indicated that he was concerned over what he called “the American threat.” The Iranian middlemen involved in the transaction had pressured him into undertaking the voyage and had offered to purchase the vessels outright, if needed. The key question for all involved is how the captains of any of the four vessels currently underway would respond if subjected to a similar solicitation of money as was made to the captain of the Adrian Darya.

Even if the US wasn’t able to entice a defection from one or more, possibly all, of the targeted tankers, the threat of seizure alone might suffice to compel the captains to abort their journeys and either return to their ports of origin, or seek to transfer the contents of their respective vessels to other tankers willing to complete the task of delivering the gasoline to Venezuela.

The consequences of a ship’s defection would more than likely be treated by Iran as the equivalent of having the vessels boarded and seized in international waters, as the end result – the confiscation of the ship’s cargo – would be the same.

Given past precedent, it is highly likely that Iran would conduct a tit-for-tat seizure of a vessel of similar capacity that was either sailing under the US flag or carrying a US-destined consignment. This would be a risky move that would probably lead to some sort of confrontation between the Iranian and American navies and might very well escalate into a general regional conflict.

Another option is that the tankers would seek to complete their mission by sailing in international waters with their onboard automatic identification system – a transponder that enables the ship’s movements to be tracked by other vessels using satellites – turned off.

This has been the practice that Iranian and Chinese vessels have engaged in during the delivery of Iranian oil to China in violation of US sanctions. Considered a very risky and dangerous move that could result in a collision with other vessels, it also makes a ship difficult to track and therefore interdict.

The US could respond by placing a screen of US naval vessels just outside Venezuelan territorial waters, creating a de facto blockade that the four tankers would have to run if their respective deliveries were to be made. Whether or not the US would actually attempt a boarding and seizure is another question, as it could be seen as a violation of international law. Moreover, the potential for direct conflict with the Venezuelan navy and air force would be high, given their practice of seeking to escort Iranian tankers once they arrive in Venezuelan waters.

In the past, both Iran and the US have shown restraint in seeking to avoid any major force-on-force confrontation between their respective militaries, knowing that once initiated, de-escalation would be difficult, and the transition to a general regional war all but assured. The social, economic, and political costs to all parties involved would be prohibitively high – a universally accepted reality that usually serves as a deterrent against rash action by either Iran or the US. But the present time finds US President Donald Trump in the political fight of his life, with polls indicating a difficult, uphill fight for re-election in November.

By undertaking this attempted delivery of gasoline to Venezuela, the Iranian government has placed Trump in a dilemma that he’s worsened by seeking, and getting, a warrant for the seizure of the involved tankers. Any inaction on the part of the US will be seized on by Trump’s political opponents as a sign of his impotence as a national leader, while a seizure that results in a war with Iran would destroy any chance of the post-pandemic economic recovery he’s betting on to help carry him to victory this fall.

Once again, the world is forced to watch while its collective future is decided not in terms of what is best for the global collective, but in terms of how an action is best interpreted from an American domestic political perspective.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Caracas Bashes UK Court for Seeking ‘to Strip Venezuela of Its International Gold Reserves’

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 03.07.2020

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has lambasted the British High Court’s move to recognise Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the president of the Latin American country.

Arreaza tweeted on Thursday that Caracas “rejects the opinion” of the UK court, which “seeks to strip our country of its international gold reserves at the Bank of England, and will initiate the corresponding legal procedures to appeal such an absurd decision.”

According to Arreaza’s attached press release from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, “President Nicolas Maduro […] has requested that Venezuelan judicial bodies initiate the necessary procedures to punish those involved in the theft of Venezuelan gold and to ensure that justice is done.”

The statement comes after the British High Court said in a ruling that the UK government “has unequivocally” recognised Guaido as Venezuelan president, adding that “there is no room for recognition of Mr Guaido as de jure president and of Mr Maduro as de facto president.”

The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), in turn, argued that London, which maintains diplomatic relations with Caracas, “recognised” the government of the elected president despite calling him “illegitimate.”

The BCV also cautioned that the UK recognising Guaido would be a violation of international laws and an “impermissible intervention in the affairs of Venezuela”.

Right now, the Bank of England holds about $1.13 billion worth of Venezuelan gold, refusing to give Maduro’s government access to it or transfer the gold to another bank.

In May, the BCV filed a legal claim in a commercial court in London to try to force the Bank of England to transfer Venezuela’s gold reserves to fund the nation’s coronavirus response.

Venezuela’s push to release its frozen gold assets in the UK began after the US and other western countries refused to recognise the results of the 2018 presidential election in Venezuela, in which Maduro secured an overwhelming victory for another term amid an economic meltdown in the country.

After the US slapped a raft of economic sanctions against Venezuela, the South American nation’s financial assets were frozen in a number of foreign countries. The situation worsened after Guaido proclaimed himself interim president contesting Maduro’s claim to the country’s gold assets, including those in the UK.

July 3, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

UK court recognizes Juan Guaido as ‘unequivocally’ Venezuela’s president in legal fight for tons of gold

RT | July 2, 2020

The UK High Court has ruled that Venezuela’s legitimate president is in fact its self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido, and not the elected Nicolas Maduro, in a bizarre legal battle for $1 billion of gold bullion.

The Bank of England (BOE) holds close to $2 billion of Venezuela’s gold for safekeeping. With both the Venezuelan government and the opposition laying claim to the fortune, the High Court has been tasked with deciding who deserves the funds, and said on Thursday that the UK “unequivocally recognizes” self-proclaimed leader Guaido as president.

“Whatever the basis for the recognition, her majesty’s government has unequivocally recognized Mr Guaido as president of Venezuela,” Justice Nigel Teare said on Thursday. “It necessarily follows that her majesty’s government no longer recognizes Mr Maduro as president of Venezuela.”

Venezuela’s central bank wants the gold back so it can be sold to buy medicine and equipment to battle Covid-19. It has said the funds would be transferred to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to ensure it isn’t used for anything else, but the opposition objects to this and claims Maduro wants to use the money to pay off his foreign allies.

Guaido, who has self-identified as the country’s interim president since 2019, with backing from Western nations, claims the gold is his to control and alleged the bank would be “financing torture” if Maduro won. The British government is among more than 50 nations that have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s leader.

A lawyer for Venezuela’s central bank said that they would appeal the judgement which “entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground.”

The BOE rejected Venezuela’s request to withdraw the gold in January, which was reportedly at the request of US officials. This prompted Venezuela’s central bank to file a claim against the BOE in May. Its case points to the fact that the UK Foreign Office maintains full diplomatic relations with the Maduro government, arguing that the UK can’t have these relations while also recognizing someone else as the head of state.

The Venezuelan government first made moves to remove its gold stores after the 2018 election, which Maduro won and the opposition boycotted. Boris Johnson, who was then the foreign minister, said at the time that the UK “may have to tighten the economic screw on Venezuela,” and with further US sanctions placed on the country, its central bank informed the UK bank that it wished to take its gold back.

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | 8 Comments

Iran resumes gas exports to Turkey after pipeline fixed

Press TV – July 1, 2020

The Iranian Oil Ministry says it has resumed exports of natural gas to Turkey despite reports in the media suggesting that exports could stop for good because of price disputes.

A spokesman of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said on Wednesday that Turkey had finished repair work on a pipeline that came out of service after an explosion on March 31, allowing Iran to resume exports.

“Exports have resumed now that repairs on gas export pipeline in the Turkish territory have finished,” said Mohammad Asgari, adding, “Iran’s gas exports to Turkey is going on as before.”

The announcement puts an end to weeks of speculations about a potential decision by Turkey to halt imports of natural gas from Iran.

Reports in April had suggested that Turkey was unwilling to repair the damaged pipeline because it was unhappy with the price of gas supplied from Iran.

Those reports said a sudden fall in international oil prices, which are used as a benchmark to determine gas prices, had caused Turkey to press Iran for a fresh negotiation on gas prices.

Authorities in Turkey had denied there was a major issue with the price, insisting that repair work on the pipeline had been delayed because of the spread of the new coronavirus in the region.

That comes as oil prices have rebounded in recent weeks mainly because of an international agreement to cut the output.

Turkey is entitled to receive around 8.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran each year under a 25-year contract which began in 2001.

Based on the agreement, any change in oil prices would take at least six months to have an effect on the price of gas delivered by Iran to Turkey.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

If Suez Canal Blocks Iran’s Aid Ships to Lebanon & Syria, Strait of Hormuz Will Be Closed: Al-Akhbar Report

Al-Manar | July 1, 2020

Amid the squeezing US economic blockade on Lebanon and Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to aid allies and provide them with the basic consumption items by all means.

The Lebanese daily newspaper, Al-Akhbar, reported Wednesday that Iran has offered to sell oil to Lebanon which would pay in the national currency in return, adding that the Iranian ships are ready to sail without any political or geographical barrier.

In this context, the paper pointed out that the Iranians have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in case the Suez Canal is blocked to the aid ships heading to Lebanon and Syria, citing a positive Egyptian stance in this regard.

The Iranian offer, expected to leave Tehran losing hundreds of millions of dollars, is inexactly viewed in Lebanon, according to the Al-Akhbar report Hezbollah has informed the Lebanese authorities it will help finalize the deal when they approve it.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s latest speech tackled the Iranian offer on the basis of a promise his eminence received from the Supreme Leader Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Al-Akhbar mentioned.

July 1, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Impeachment Reminder of Our Toxic Foreign Aid

By James Bovard | Ron Paul Institute | Monday June 29, 2020

Foreign aid to Ukraine helped spur the Democrats’ effort to impeach and remove President Trump earlier this year. Ukraine was supposed to be on the verge of great progress until Trump pulled the rug out from under the heroic salvation effort by US government bureaucrats. Unfortunately, Congress has devoted a hundred times more attention to the timing of aid to Ukraine than to its effectiveness. And most of the media coverage pretended that US handouts abroad are as generous and uplifting as congressmen claim.

US foreign aid has long fueled the poxes it promised to eradicate — especially kleptocracy, or government by thieves. A 2002 American Economic Review analysis concluded that “increases in [foreign] aid are associated with contemporaneous increases in corruption” and that “corruption is positively correlated with aid received from the United States.” Windfalls of foreign aid can make politicians more rapacious, which economists have dubbed the “voracity effect.”

Early in his presidency, George W. Bush promised to reform foreign aid, declaring, “I think it makes no sense to give aid money to countries that are corrupt.” Regardless, the Bush administration continued delivering billions of dollars in handouts to many of the world’s most corrupt regimes.

Barack Obama proclaimed at the United Nations in 2010 that the US government was “leading a global effort to combat corruption.” The Los Angeles Times noted that Obama’s “aides said the United States in the past has often seemed to just throw money at problems,” while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that “a lot of these aid programs don’t work” and lamented their “heartbreaking” failures. But Obama promised during his 2008 campaign to double foreign-aid spending, which obliterated efforts to reform failed programs. In 2011, congressional Republicans sought to restrict foreign aid going to fraud-ridden foreign regimes. Secretary of State Clinton wailed that restricting handouts to nations that fail anti-corruption tests “has the potential to affect a staggering number of needy aid recipients.”

Regardless, the Obama administration continued pouring tens of billions of US tax dollars into sinkholes such as Afghanistan, which even its president, Ashraf Ghani, admitted in 2016 was “one of the most corrupt countries on earth.” The governor of Kandahar denounced his own government officials and police officers as “looters and kidnappers.” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), declared that “US policies and practices unintentionally aided and abetted corruption” in Afghanistan.

Since the end of the Soviet Union, the United States has provided more than $6 billion in aid to Ukraine. At the House impeachment hearings late last year, a key anti-Trump witness was acting US ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. The Washington Post hailed Taylor as someone who “spent much of the 1990s telling Ukrainian politicians that nothing was more critical to their long-term prosperity than rooting out corruption and bolstering the rule of law, in his role as the head of US development assistance for post-Soviet countries.” A New York Times editorial lauded Taylor and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent as witnesses who “came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country.”

Their testimony spurred Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, to bewail that “this is the most fraught time and the most difficult time for our members” since Sen. Joe McCarthy’s accusations of communism in the 1950s. A Washington Post headline echoed him: “The diplomatic corps has been wounded. The State Department needs to heal.” But not nearly as much as the foreigners supposedly rescued by US bureaucrats.

The Wall Street Journal reported on October 31 that the International Monetary Fund, which has provided more than $20 billion in loans to Ukraine, “remains skeptical after a history of broken promises [from the Ukrainian government]. Kiev hasn’t successfully completed any of a series of IMF bailout packages over the past two decades, with systemic corruption at the heart of much of that failure.” The IMF concluded that Ukraine continued to be vexed by “shortcomings in the legal framework, pervasive corruption, and large parts of the economy dominated by inefficient state-owned enterprises or by oligarchs.” That last item is damning for US benevolent pretensions. If a former Soviet republic cannot even terminate its government-owned boondoggles, then why was the US government bankrolling them? While many members of Congress could not find Ukraine on a map, far fewer could have offered any coherent explanation of what US aid bought in Ukraine.

Transparency International, which publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, shows that corruption surged in Ukraine in the late 1990s (after the United States decided to rescue that country) and remains at abysmal levels. Ukraine now ranks in the bottom tier on the list of most corrupt nations, with a worse rating than Egypt and Pakistan, two other major US aid recipients notorious for corruption.

Actually, the best gauge of Ukrainian corruption is the near-total collapse of its citizens’ trust in government or in their own future. Since 1991, the nation has lost almost 20 percent of its population as citizens flee abroad like passengers leaping off a sinking ship. But as long as Kiev was not completely depopulated, US bureaucrats could continue claiming to be on the verge of achieving great things.

The House impeachment hearings and much of the media gushed over those career US government officials despite their strikeouts. It was akin to a congressional committee’s resurrecting Col. George Custer in 1877 and fawning as he offered personal insights in dealing with uprisings by Sioux Indians (while carefully avoiding awkward questions about the previous year at the Little Bighorn).

Foreign aid is virtue-signaling with other people’s money. As long the aid spawns press releases and photo opportunities for presidents and members of Congress and campaign donations from corporate and other beneficiaries, little else matters. Congress almost never conducts thorough investigations into the failure of aid programs despite their legendary pratfalls. As the Christian Science Monitor noted in 2010, AID “created an atmosphere of frantic urgency about the ‘burn rate’ — a measure of how quickly money is spent. Emphasis gets put on spending fast to make room for the next batch from Congress.” Martine van Bijlert of the nonprofit Afghanistan Analysts Network commented, “As long as you spend money and you can provide a paper trail, that’s a job well done. It’s a perverse system, and there seems to be no intention to change it.” The “burn rate” fixation produced endless absurdities, including collapsing school buildings, impassable roads, failed electrification projects, and phantom health clinics. SIGAR’s John Sopko “found a USAID lessons-learned report from 1980s on Afghan reconstruction but nobody at AID had read it.”

Perverse incentives

“Fail and repeat” was also AID’s motto in Iraq. After the 2003 invasion, AID and the Pentagon paired up to spend $60 billion to rebuild Iraq. As long as projects looked vaguely impressive at ribbon-cutting ceremonies, AID declared victory. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), listed some of the agency’s farcical Iraq success claims at a 2011 hearing: “262,482 individuals reportedly benefited from medical supplies that were purchased to treat only 100 victims of a specific attack; 22 individuals attended a five-day mental-health course, yet 1.5 million were reported as beneficiaries; … and 280,000 were reported as benefitting from $14,246 spent to rehabilitate a morgue.” Ali Ghalib Baban, Iraq’s minister of planning, denied in 2009 that US aid for relief and reconstruction had benefitted his country: “Maybe they spent it, but Iraq doesn’t feel it.” An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity noted that, according to top Iraqi officials, the biggest impact of US aid was “more corruption and widespread money-laundering.”

After driving around the world, investment guru Jim Rogers declared, “Most foreign aid winds up with outside consultants, the local military, corrupt bureaucrats, the new NGO [nongovernmental organizations] administrators, and Mercedes dealers.” Mercedes-Benz automobiles became so popular among African government officials that a new Swahili word was coined: wabenzi — “men of the Mercedes-Benz.” After the Obama administration promised massive aid to Ukraine in 2014, Hunter Biden, the vice president’s son, jumped on the gravy train — as did legions of well-connected Washingtonians and other hustlers around the nation. Similar largesse ensures that there will never be a shortage of overpaid people and hired think tanks ready to write op-eds or letters to the editor of the Washington Post whooping up the moral greatness of foreign aid or some such hokum.

Bribing foreign politicians to encourage honest government makes as much sense as distributing free condoms to encourage abstinence. Rather than encouraging good governance practices, foreign aid is more likely to produce kleptocracies. As a Brookings Institution analysis observed, “The history of US assistance is littered with tales of corrupt foreign officials using aid to line their own pockets, support military buildups, and pursue vanity projects.” Both US politicians and US bureaucrats are prone to want to continue the aid gravy train regardless of how foreign regimes waste the money or use it to repress their own citizens.

US government leaders are far more concerned with buying influence than with safeguarding purity. Foreign aid is often little more than a bribe for a foreign regime to behave in ways that please the US government. One large bribe naturally spawns hundreds or thousands of smaller bribes, and thereby corrupts an entire country. The impeachment of Trump was driven by the specific favor that Democrats claimed he had requested from the Ukrainian president, not from seeking favors per se.

When it comes to the failure of US aid to Ukraine, almost all of Trump’s congressional critics are like the “dog that didn’t bark” in the Sherlock Holmes story. The real outrage is that Trump and prior presidents, with Congress cheering all the way, delivered so many US tax dollars to Kiev that any reasonable person knew would be wasted.

Foreign aid will continue to be toxic as long as politicians continue to be politicians. There is no bureaucratic cure for the perverse incentives created by flooding foreign nations with US tax dollars. If Washington truly wants to curtail foreign corruption, ending US government handouts aid is the best first step. Counting on foreign aid to reduce corruption is like expecting whiskey to cure alcoholism.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Davos: the birthplace of a New World Government? But who are the parents?

By Robin Horsley | Brexit Watch | June 25, 2020

DAVOS, is the small town, nestled high in the Swiss Alps, widely known for hosting the annual conference of global business-people, world leaders, activists, and journalists that takes place every January. The organisation that arranges the event, the World Economic Forum (WEF), and its enigmatic founder Klaus Schwab, are less well-known.

The WEF’s exclusive shindig used to be thought of simply as a grandiose talking-shop. The ultimate annual ‘networking’ event where the wealthy and powerful could grand-stand in front of the world’s media. But in recent years, as the ambitions and agenda of the WEF have become clearer, many people have gradually realised there is far more to Davos and the World Economic Forum than they previously thought.

The WEF operates from its own modern, low-rise office complex, overlooking Lake Geneva on some of the most expensive land in the world and now generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues from its membership fees paid by what it describes as the world’s top 1,000 companies. According to its most recent annual report, the WEF now has assets valued in excess of half a billion dollars.

In June 2019 the WEF signed an exclusive partnership agreement with the United Nations to accelerate the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which has been adopted by all 193 UN member countries.

This strategic partnership caused great consternation in many quarters. The Transnational Institute (TNI), a think-tank with its roots in the anti-Vietnam war movement, denounced it for “formalising the corporate capture of the UN and moving towards an increasingly privatised and less democratic global governance.” 400 organisations subsequently signed a letter calling for the termination of the UN/WEF’s agreement.

Far from being inhibited from continuing to develop policy – or using its influence and the resources of its powerful, global corporate membership to persuade or compel national Governments to adopt it’s ideals – the WEF states “now is the time to press the reset button on capitalism”. In essence it is calling for the dismantling of the entire global economic system in order that it can be re-cast to a design complying with its own agenda.

The sheer audacity of this ‘Great Reset’ agenda as it is known, with the scope to impact billions of lives on the planet, is quite simply breath-taking. It is none other than a globalist agenda seductively cloaked in green, equal-opportunity, pro-diversity packaging. In response the TNI has highlighted the combined economic power of WEF’s ‘members’, which utterly dwarfs that of most nation states, represents a serious threat to democratic global governance. Likewise, the history and commercial interest of many of the WEF’s members are, unsurprisingly, completely at odds with its supposedly green credentials.

At Davos 2020, the WEF appeared to install Prince Charles as its titular head placing him, as keynote speaker, on their global stage extravagantly emblazoned with the official heraldic insignia of the Prince of Wales, the three feathers.

It must have been a shattering moment for the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who had previously banned his Government ministers from attending Davos, to see his childhood ambition to become ‘world-king’ apparently thwarted by the future British monarch. For others there are disturbing echoes of a previous Prince of Wales cosying up to another group with similarly grandiose ambitions of pioneering a new global world order.

The rise of the World Economic Forum has been truly remarkable. In 50 years it has grown from a small three-person office in Geneva to a global organisation with a membership whose combined annual turnover, and economic power, is in the tens of trillions of dollars. Klaus Schwab, its founder and still its Executive Chairman 50 years on, has unparalleled access to political leaders across the entire world.

But how did the World Economic Forum come about?

Delving back into the historical archive of the WEF yields some interesting observations. The first Davos conference took place in 1971, the year the WEF was founded and, according to Wikipedia, was funded by the European Commission, the powerful central institution of the European Union.

This connection to, and support from, the European unification movement reveals itself further when looking through the photographic archive. That first Davos conference, or ‘symposium’ as it was then called had, as its keynote speaker, another royal long awaiting his king-ship.

Otto von Habsburg, also known as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the first Davos keynote speaker. Habsburg’s monarch was a casualty of the First World War. He was the last crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, an empire which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia – and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. His father, Charles, was the last emperor until its dissolution in 1919.

Otto Habsburg had been one of the original founders, in 1922, of the Pan-European Union which still exists today and is widely recognised as the oldest European unification movement still in existence. Habsburg went on to be its President in 1973, following the death of his co-founder Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, and subsequently served as a Member of the European Parliament for 20 years following its creation in 1979.

Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder, was born in Ravensburg, Germany in 1938 and studied economics and, at the behest of his father, engineering. His father had been Managing Director for a Swiss engineering company, Escher Wyss, who continued operating in Germany throughout World War II. In interviews, Schwab recalls travelling between war-torn Germany and neutral Switzerland as a small child and the impression that the contrast made upon him.

After studying in Germany, Schwab travelled to the USA to attend lectures at Harvard Business School. Here he made some key contacts that he was later able to use, including Henry Kissinger.

It is clear, looking at the history of the World Economic Forum, that Schwab’s aim was not simply to provide a platform for others to use for meeting and making decisions. The WEF launched its first ‘Davos Manifesto’ at its third annual event in 1973. It was always, essentially a political construction but one that lacked any truly democratic foundation.

The theme of the WEF’s forthcoming 50th Annual event in January 2021 is ‘The Great Reset’, a radical plan to completely re-work the mechanics of the entire global economy. Had the Covid-19 virus not emerged this year, bringing the global economy to a shuddering halt, it’s difficult to conceive how this agenda could ever have hoped to have been implemented.

But now, with the prospect of vast and potentially devastating economic impacts ahead – albeit temporarily masked by unsustainable financial interventions by national governments, such as the UK’s furlough scheme – it may be that the people of the world are driven to radical solutions in the near future.

Working with the UN, International banks and the WEF’s stable of global industrial and technology giants it is now possible that together they have the opportunity to create ‘the new normal’ – a world that works as they plan it to work.

The deeply disturbing concern for us mere mortals is that it appears these organisations intend to impose their agenda on us without any democratic consent and without any democratic system of accountability in place to ensure it serves the needs and interests of the people of our planet – rather than the interests of the wealthy and powerful who control this agenda.

The World Economic Forum’s ‘Strategic Partners’ are its top-tier group of 100 global organisations. This group includes major global banks such as Barclays, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered Bank who yield immense financial power.

It also includes major technology and communications companies such as Huawei, Publicis, Omnicom, (two global communications companies) Facebook and Google.

With this combination of enormous financial power, skilled persuasion capabilities and control of the communications infrastructure at their disposal WEF has huge power to mould, influence and control events – while shaping public opinion.

We, the ordinary people, shall have to keep a very close eye on WEF’s activities as its ‘Great Reset’ agenda unfolds over the coming months ahead.

Robin Horsley is the founder of YouPolitics.uk a new online UK politics social media channel. He founded The Great Brexit Debate in 2016 a Facebook site with over 30,000 followers, and has worked with political campaigning organisations such as The Bruges Group and Veterans for Britain and has campaigned on issues in the areas of justice, defence and education.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Connecting the Dots

By Larry Romanoff • Unz Review • June 24, 2020

It often happens that events we view as isolated occurrences are connected as integral parts of a much larger picture, often as part of a wide-ranging plan, and frequently with important social, economic, and/or political implications which become evident only when seen in total. The several topics of this essay add a necessary context to all major social, commercial, and geo-political events of recent decades, which may help us in connecting dots. For this, it is extremely important to realise and understand that in these matters there are no accidents, that ‘crises’ (other than things like volcanic eruptions) do not just happen, and that the final result of any crisis, however it may appear, was the result intended.

As one example, this many decades ago, we noticed that in our city in Canada one brand of American convenience store seemed to have a habit of opening new stores within a stone’s throw of the existing ‘mom and pop’ variety stores (as they were then called), these shiny and attractive new shops inevitably resulting in the closure of our traditional community stores with the resulting loss of livelihood of the owner-families. It was a surprise to learn later that this practice existed in all cities in Canada and it eventually became clear that each such apparently minor event reflected the gradual execution of an astonishingly predatory plan to not only become established in another country but to progressively eliminate all existing competition in doing so. The dawning of this realisation came too late for authorities to take preventive action, resulting in the destruction of what had been an important part of Canada’s community cultural landscape.

In a different category, and more recently, we learned that during a period of ten or more years ending around 2015, GlaxoSmithKline engaged in an enormous tax and marketing fraud in China[1][2], involving billions of RMB in massive and systemic bribery and falsified accounts, the discovery punctuated by the company’s China CEO Mark Reilly fleeing the country on the first plane to England “on a previously-planned business trip”, and intending to remain there “to help with the investigation from that end”.[3] Lacking additional information, we tend to view this revelation as a domestic issue involving the typical group of ‘a few bad apples’. But with a bit of investigation we discover that GSK carried on a series of virtually identical criminal adventures simultaneously in the US and other countries as well, having been fined billions of dollars in the US alone for repeated occurrences. This additional knowledge substantially amends our perception of the picture. When, with a bit of additional investigation, we discover that all the major pharma companies have repeatedly engaged in a wide range of criminal activities resulting in fines totaling tens of billions of dollars in the US alone, our appreciation of GSK’s activities in China, and of the entire landscape of big pharma, are much altered and more accurate. We now know something we didn’t know before, and we now understand we are not dealing with a few bad apples in an isolated if unfortunate event, but with an industry corrupt to its core, worldwide. [4][5]

Similarly, we learned that Apple, the darling of the US stock market and of iphone fans everywhere, was being hounded by the Chinese commercial authorities, this time over warranty periods, Chinese law categorising Apple’s ipad as a computer requiring a two-year warranty with Apple insisting the ipad was a phone and refusing to comply. Following stringent insistence and a huge public outcry, Apple was eventually forced to conform.[6][7] Reading this as an isolated occurrence, we might judge this as a technical domestic argument of little consequence but, with a bit of investigation, we discover that Apple’s warranties had been under fire for years throughout Europe (and other countries) for precisely the same reasons and with precisely the same outcome – Apple stubbornly flouting the consumer laws of dozens of countries.[8][9] With this additional information, our perception of Apple’s behavior in China assumes a different flavor. We no longer see a simple dispute between a retailer and a socialist government with perhaps sticky laws, but a multinational corporation suffused with sufficient arrogance to not only challenge but attempt to dictate consumer laws and warranty policies to all sovereign nations where it does business. To say nothing of some bold tax dodges.[10] Further investigation reveals that, of all computer and mobile phone companies, only Apple appears to take this position. We now have a more accurate picture of the international IT landscape and Apple’s position within it, our sympathy for Apple’s difficulties in China certainly moderating if not transforming into outright hostility.

In each case, our understanding has been substantially amended because we can see the whole picture and we now know something we did not know before. It is true for a great many occurrences in the world, of many different kinds, that these are not single disconnected events but are related in a set pattern and to a set purpose. Simply put, if one house burns down on a street, that’s unfortunate; if two houses burn down on that street, that’s a coincidence; if five houses burn down on that same street, that’s a plan.

Thus, for many of the world’s events, most especially those containing strong social, economic and/or geo-political effects, it behooves us to bypass the mass media who force-feed us with only carefully-selected sound bytes, and to engage ourselves in a bit of independent research to discover whether these apparently disconnected events are in fact related in a larger context. It is necessary to bypass the media because the absence of connection between these apparently disparate (but related) events is not accidental; the media coverage by design and intent renders it impossible for the general public to connect the dots.

The Official Narrative

In attempting to understand social, economic and geo-political events, there is a second matter demanding our attention, that of the initial mass media coverage, because this often betrays secrets of an event that might otherwise be unknown.

Consider: if there is an explosion in a shopping mall somewhere, at first neither we nor the relevant authorities know anything. It might have been caused a gas line leak, perhaps from faulty maintenance, or stored chemicals, or perhaps a disgruntled citizen set off a bomb. At first, we don’t even know what, much less having a clear idea of who or how, or why, and it takes time to ferret out these details and form a sensible working theory of that event. If it appears that persons were responsible, the authorities require additional time to determine why and who, then begin their search.

But, if we are paying attention, it often happens that immediately upon the occurrence of such an event, the mass media present us with a full-blown story lacking only small details, a more or less complete description of what, how, who and why, a story that could not possibly be known at that stage. Not only is the media description immediate, but it is universal and unanimous, with all apparently unrelated media presenting the same story line, often verbatim, with no disagreement on any significant elements, these uniform storylines sometimes flooding the news for days, weeks, and even months.

Such a unanimous flood can occur only with all participants reading from the same script, prepared beforehand and readied for simultaneous release. In the above case, there are only two possibilities:[1] The story, if true, could be known only by the perpetrators or, [2] the story is a fabricated falsehood, taking the microphone to pre-empt independent rational thought by the public and force the discussion into desired channels, resulting in the elimination of critical public analysis and preventing the truth from escaping confinement.

At one time, not so long ago, this was impossible. But today, with the intense concentration of media ownership across all continents, (and with the increasingly strong censorship of the social media) we have only five or six people, all colleagues, controlling perhaps 90% of all media content and with a powerful financial influence on the remainder.

As one ready example, we could review the unfortunate flight of Korean Airlines 007 in 1983, a Boeing 747 which was shot down by Russian aircraft when it ventured about 500 kilometers off-course and perilously close to some Russian military installations. The media response was immediate and universal that “the Russians” killed hundreds of innocent passengers, and a great deal else. I don’t want to dwell on this here but, if you would like some personal entertainment, you might enjoy doing some thorough research on this event. One of the more entertaining issues was that the water was shallow where the aircraft eventually went down, and the Russians searched thoroughly but located only a few bodies of the crew. No hundreds of innocent passengers. One other discovery was hundreds of pairs of new sneakers and a great deal of new clothing still folded in its original packaging. But no bodies. The official response was that when the aircraft was hit by the missiles, the decompression “sucked all the passengers out of their clothes”, then presumably folding and packaging their clothing. Mother Nature is nothing if not neat and tidy.

The events of 9-11 were certainly one of these, with the entire final version of the “official story” appearing the next day in all the Western media, all verbatim including the who, how and why. SARS and ZIKA fit this pattern in every respect, and COVID-19 also fit very well as do the seven biological pathogens unleashed on China during the past two years alone. With the 2019 swine flu, the entire Western media knew instantly that Chinese “criminal gangs” and “pork speculators” were for unknown reasons infecting all of China’s pigs, although no evidence ever surfaced to support any part of their story. If we review the media coverage for many notable events in our recent history, the pattern is the same. We are then facing the only sensible conclusion that those events were executed as part of a plan with the unanimous media coverage arranged well in advance – and with the knowing participation of the media owners.

Normally, subsequent contradictory theories arise over time as we learn details and assemble the pieces in what might be a more logical and sensible combination but, in these cases, all contradictions are first ignored by the mass media, then condemned as “conspiracy theories”, those presenting them unanimously mocked and derided. The more attention these contradictory theories generate, and the more that serious flaws are exposed in the official story, the louder the derision and more vicious the condemnation, again unanimous and universal. Moreover, as these theories gain traction, the underlying facts are increasingly ignored in exchange for attacking their proponents. If we don’t like the message, we kill the messenger. There is no shortage of examples of historians, authors, various experts, being hounded to bankruptcy, infamy, and even death, merely for publishing (or even attempting to publish) inconvenient truths. This process is now so well-established that whenever we see accusations of ‘conspiracy theories’ we can be certain that a government or a corporation has something to hide.

As time passes, the public become inundated with what we term “the official narrative”, most tending to believe a story repeated daily for weeks from dozens of apparently independent and reputable sources, to the point where the matter is no longer news and dissenting opinions are lost in the haze. It then becomes almost impossible for hidden truths to emerge and, even if they do emerge, it is too late to significantly alter the public conviction or to obtain the required critical mass of dissention for a re-examination of the facts. It is said that if we hear a lie five times, especially from five different sources, we will believe it as true and will later be astonishingly reluctant to alter our opinion even in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. This is one of the fundamental tenets of all propaganda.

In so many past instances, generally involving malfeasance, the US government or some branch of it quickly took the initiative to promulgate an “official story” that it wanted the public to accept, always with widespread media and scientific or other support. It isn’t usually difficult to distinguish between these crafted tales and other situations where the truth of an event innocently emerges as facts are sequentially discovered. One sure sign that we are being told a story is when “the official narrative” appears much too soon – before any actual facts emerge that would support the hypothesis, a ploy necessary to pre-empt independent conclusions and prevent more realistic or more factual versions from gaining traction.

Directed Channels of Discourse

There is one other item that serves to actively prevent our connecting the dots and forming correct conclusions about events, this being an intense and coordinated media focus to direct public discourse into desirable channels and away from the key issues. As a simple example, some years ago there were intense debates about the future of the Euro, with growing public opinion that the group currency was a failed experiment and European nations should revert to their original national currencies. But the mass media spawned a flood of debate centered on a wide range of options more or less titled “What is the best way to save the Euro?”, forcing public debate into a context where continuation of the Euro was assumed as immutable and all discussion focused on methods of preservation. Of course, the real question was “Should the Euro be saved?”, but those raising this question were ignored, mocked, derided, and painted as traitors to Europe.

If we pay attention to the mass media on the occurrence of many events, it is easy to see that we are often being propagandised and programmed to see the world through the same pair of eyes – the pair our masters want us to look through. It is a most effective tool of public manipulation, with most of us unaware this thought control is taking place. As Noam Chomsky noted in discussing propaganda[11], “The smart way . . . is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” In simple terms, if you can focus the public on asking the wrong questions, you needn’t worry about the answers.

A Brief Case Study in Connecting Dots

In 2001, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease ravaged the British farming industry. Exports from the UK of live animals, meat and dairy products were banned by other nations, and the government ordered a mass slaughter of millions of animals. The losses to British farmers were nearly incalculable, with a great many farmers going bankrupt or otherwise put out of business, and some farmers committing suicide in anguish over their losses. Within six months, almost 4 million animals had been slaughtered and their carcasses burned. Oddly, in the face of this enormous disaster, the government refused to hold a public inquiry into the outbreak, announcing instead three small separate investigations, the results of which would not be made public. A similar event occurred again a few years later. It was later admitted that the pathogen for this disease had gone “missing” from Porton Down and Pirbright, the UK’s two primary L-4 bio-weapons labs, the government then claiming “animal rights activists” had entered these military-guarded labs, stolen huge amounts of pathogen and released it. No information as to why they might do such a thing. The outcome of the UK foot and mouth disease outbreaks was to eliminate small farmers and turn over the UK’s beef supply to a few billionaire owners of Big Agra.

I won’t provide more detail here, but I have written a brief article covering this, the details of which will shock you.[12] As one example, for months prior to the outbreak the UK government was scouring the country for all loose volumes of timber admittedly to be used to burn the carcasses of the millions of cattle soon to become infected and slaughtered.

But so far, even to a suspicious mind, no clear evidence of malfeasance and no conspiracy. But we have other layers of dots here. It seems that immediately prior to this disastrous outbreak of a deadly biological pathogen, there was a ‘simulation’ dealing with precisely this eventuality, exactly the same as that held prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and including most of the same players, most notably Pirbright who were the admitted source of the bovine pathogen and also who had developed and held patents on five coronavirus varieties, I believe the same five that infected the US and then the world.

And yet another layer of dots. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho wrote a report in the Institute of Science in Society, dated September 24, 2001, entitled “Foot & Mouth Outbreak, GM Vaccine and Bio-warfare”. It was after her report that investigations by the Evening Chronicle discovered papers leaked from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that confirmed the simulation which had been secret to that point. Readers may recall this is the same Dr. Ho who called for a full investigation into the possible genetic engineering and dissemination of the SARS virus, the evidence eventually conclusive that SARS emerged from a lab.

Let’s turn to the swine flu outbreak in China in 2019 where the nation’s pork was raised by hundreds of thousands of small farmers much as the beef in the UK. With 50% of the livestock slaughtered, American firms had an open door to take control of China’s pork supply. In this case the effort failed because the Chinese government, not being a party to the pathogen, immediately provided financing and other assistance for the small farmers to rebuild their herds.

However, if we research the outbreaks of animal pathogens around the world – swine flu, bird flu, the evidence seems to indicate that the expansion of Big Agra follows closely on their heels. This is an apparently natural occurrence, given that small competitors have been eliminated while market demand remains constant – unless this occurs more than once or twice. When these outbreaks inexplicably appear repeatedly on all continents with Big Agra in the background, we have dots to connect. I do not possess details of every outbreak of an animal pathogen in all countries for the past ten or twenty years, but I have a powerful suspicion that if we correlate these with the growth in market share of the world’s few Big Agra companies, we would receive a surprise.

Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com.

Notes

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/business/international/china-rules-glaxo-bribes-sex-tape-whistleblower-cautionary-tale.html

[2] https://money.cnn.com/2014/09/19/news/china-gsk-bribery/index.html

[3] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-glaxo-settlement-idUSBRE8610S720120702

[4] https://fortune.com/2016/03/31/big-pharma-fines/

[5] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/drug-giants-fined-11bn-for-criminal-wrongdoing-8157483.html

[6] www.china.org.cn/business/2013-03/31/content_28407911.htm

[7] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-apple-apology-idUSBRE9300DM20130402

[8] https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2367484

[9] https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/48730/how-does-apples-two-year-warranty-in-europe-work

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/aug/30/apple-pay-back-taxes-eu-ruling-ireland-state-aid

[11] Noam Chomsky [2013]. “How the World Works”, p.234, Soft Skull Press

[12] UK Foot and Mouth Disease

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Drifting at Sea: Tankers With Venezuelan Oil Reportedly Unable to Unload Over Threat of US Sanctions

Sputnik – 24.06.2020

Reuters has quoted unnamed industry sources as saying that at least 16 tankers with a total of 18.1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil on board are stuck at sea across the world amid buyers’ fears to contact the vessels to avoid being hit by US sanctions.

The cargo is reportedly the equivalent of nearly two months of Venezuela’s current oil output rate.

“This is our third attempt to find a buyer”, according to a source from an oil firm registered as customer of the national oil and gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).Most of the tankers, which were en route to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, or Togo have been at sea for over six months and have failed to unload due to the threat of sanctions.

Some vessels are reportedly managed by the Amsterdam-based company GPB Global Resources, which was cited by Reuters as saying that they are “conducting business in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations, including US sanctions”. PDVSA and the Venezuelan Oil Ministry have not commented on the matter yet.

The developments come after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported earlier in June that the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) wants to add up to 50 tankers to its blacklist for cooperation with Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro.

This followed the US slapping Venezuela-related sanctions against four entities and four oil tankers sailing under the flags of Panama, Bahamas, and the Marshall Islands.

The sanctions were preceded by Iran sending five fuel tankers to Venezuela in May and pledging more supplies if requested. All ships received a military escort after the US said that it was considering options for responding to the deliveries, which violate Washington’s sanctions imposed on both countries.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, for his part, said at the time that the tracing and tracking of fuel tankers entering Venezuelan waters constituted a violation of international law.

US Sanctions Against Venezuela

The Trump administration started introducing heavy economic sanctions against Venezuela’s economy in 2018 in a bid to oust President Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, supported by Washington.

Washington then moved to freeze the US-based assets of PDVSA as part of its efforts to sanction the South American nation. Caracas condemned the move, saying that it was unlawful and accused the Trump administration of seeking to get its hands on the nation’s oil reserves.

The subsequent shutdown of many PDVSA refineries forced Venezuela to consider importing fuel supplies to cover its domestic shortage.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

EU’s Aviation Deal with Israel ‘The Pinnacle of Hypocrisy’

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | June 20, 2020

I had barely finished my rant against the British Government for showering new rewards on the Israelis (see Do Palestinians’ lives matter? ) when the EU voted to do the same.

The UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement signed last year comes into force next January. The Government says it loves this relationship and is committed to strengthening it. “We will seek to work with counterparts in the new Israeli government to host a bilateral trade and investment summit in London.” This will “identifying new opportunities and collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom”.

Not to be outdone, the EU has now decided to hand Israel a juicy aviation agreement, the latest in a long line of goodies awarded to the apartheid regime for its crimes against humanity. And that’s after the EU had voiced condemnation of Israel’s latest annexation plan.

Not only that, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s financing institution, has just agreed a 150 million euros loan for a seawater desalination plant – one of the largest in the world – for Israel “in one of the world’s most water-stressed regions”. So water-stressed that Israel long ago stole the Palestinians’ aquifers and deprived them of access to their own supply. And it made no difference that the criminals were now gearing up to annex even more Palestinian territory.

According to this report 437 MEPs (that’s 62%) from EPP, REG, ECR voted to ratify the EU-Israel Aviation Agreement even though MEP Clare Daly from Ireland warned that doing so “would be perceived as an upgrade in bilateral relations with the state of Israel”. So who are these confused people?

The EPP (European People’s Party) Group, the oldest and largest, says: “We must continue to promote human rights and democracy in our relations with third countries.” So, naturally, they have no objection to promoting the Israeli regime in its policy to permanently deny Palestinians their human rights and self-determination.

The REG (Renew Europe Group) would have us believe: “At a time when the rule of law and democracy are under threat in parts of Europe, our Group will stand up for the people who suffer from the illiberal and nationalistic tendencies that we see returning in too many countries.” Oh really?

The ECR Group (European Conservatives & Reformists) declare: “We are the voice of COMMON SENSE.”

As if their behaviour wasn’t bizarre enough, these MEPs then held a separate debate with High Representative Joseph Borrell to discuss EU measures to deter Israel from declaring annexation.

The aviation deal builds on a 2013 agreement. Back then scheduled direct passenger flights connected Israel and 18 EU Member States and the EU was said to be the most important aviation market for Israel, accounting for 57% of scheduled international air passenger movements to and from Israel, and that Israel was one of the most important aviation markets for the EU in the Middle East with a strong growth potential.

The aim now is to take EU-Israel aviation relations to a new level. Higher volumes of tourism in both directions will create additional jobs and economic benefits on both sides. Of course much of the benefit of increased tourism to the Holy Land rightly belongs to the Palestinians if only they were permitted their own airport, but the EU doesn’t seem to care that all visitors to and from the Holy Land are forced through Israel’s Ben Gurion airport – or should we call it Lydda? Thereby hangs an interesting tale….

Growing airline traffic rewards Israeli terror

Strictly speaking Ben Gurion, near Tel Aviv, belongs to the Palestinians. It was formerly Lydda airport; and Lydda, a major town in its own right during the British mandate, was designated Palestinian in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. In July 1948, after Britain left and Israel declared statehood, Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population as part of the ethnic cleansing and territorial expansion programme set out in their infamous ‘Plan Dalet’. In the process they massacred 426 men, women, and children. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. See here for the gory details.

Those who survived were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies — men, women and children — along the way. Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of loot. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given a Hebrew name, Lod.

So Israel has no real right to Lydda/Lod/Ben Gurion airport — it was stolen in a terror raid, as was so much else. And it’s Israeli terror that is being rewarded by increasing airline flights and boosting tourism and trade.

Today the airport is the international gateway to Israel… and indirectly to Palestine. And what happened to Gaza’s airport? The Oslo II Agreement of 1995 provided for one to be constructed. The Yasser Arafat International airport was built with funding from Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Germany and Morocco, and cost $86 million. Arafat and US President Clinton attended the opening in 1998. Owned and operated by the Palestinian Authority it was capable of handling 700,000 passengers a year.

In December 2001 Israel destroyed the radar station and control tower, and cut the runway.

Back to the fiasco with the 437 MEPs who plainly don’t give a four-X about adding to the Palestinians’ misery. Aneta Jerska, the coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) says: “Those same political groups whom we heard expressing concern about annexation had just made annexation possible by voting in favour of the EU-Israel Aviation Agreement. This is by any standards the pinnacle of the EU’s hypocrisy. European citizens need to see no more crocodile tears from their elected politicians. The EU must impose sanctions on Israel, as member states once did against apartheid South Africa, including a military embargo on Israel, a ban on trade with illegal settlements and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Only by ending ‘business as usual’, will Israel feel pressure to change its criminal behaviour.”

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Barbaric U.S. Sanctions on Syria Are Futile Extension of Failed Regime-Change War

Strategic Culture Foundation | June 19, 2020

A total blockade of war-torn Syria is the desired effect of sweeping new sanctions imposed this week by the United States. The purpose is to prevent the Arab nation from achieving reconstruction and international normalization after suffering nearly a decade of war.

Washington’s objective is to make regime change in Damascus inevitable by making social conditions in the country as unbearable for the population as it possibly can.

With cruel Orwellian irony, the American sanctions implemented this week bear the words “Syria Civilian Protection Act”.

The U.S. legislation was passed by both parties in the Congress last year and signed off by President Donald Trump. Syria was already under American sanctions, but the latest round of restrictions aim to choke off all international investment and trade with the country.

It should be remarked too that the European Union renewed its own sanctions on Syria last month. Such partnering with the U.S. is a reprehensible sign of the EU’s political and moral bankruptcy.

Kelly Craft, America’s ambassador to the UN, informed the Security Council that the sanctions would prevent the Syrian government from “securing military victory”.

The move was denounced by Russia, China and Iran as “inhumane”. Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bashar al-Ja’afari, said the American plan for embargo showed a “new face of terrorism”.

Washington’s admission that the restrictions are aimed at preventing military victory are telling. It shows that the U.S. is livid from the failure of its regime-change campaign over the past decade in which Washington and other NATO powers covertly sponsored foreign aggression against Syria. That nefarious plot was defeated by the courage of the Syrian people and their armed forces, along with the crucial support of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Having failed on the battle field, Washington is now pursuing its criminal regime-change war objective through economic aggression.

All of this, it should be said, is in flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter. The U.S. conduct is tantamount to the Nuremberg-standard designating crimes of state-sponsored terrorism.

The sanctions unveiled this week are but the opening of a new front for assault on Syria.

“We anticipate many more sanctions,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who went on to say for risible propaganda effect, “and we will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict.”

The “political solution” that Pompeo is referring to is the one dictated by Washington which means Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping down, to be replaced by an American puppet regime.

It is notable that the new sanctions also target the Assad family, including the president’s wife, Asma, as well as the wider national economy. Pompeo vilified Asma al-Assad as a “notorious war profiteer”. Such personal attack on a foreign leader and his family shows a new low in Washington’s gutter tactics. It is no doubt a sign of the frustration and vindictiveness seething in the waning U.S. imperium that it is resorting to such sordid gouging.

The latest U.S. sanctions are a despicable act of barbarity by Washington. If there was any prevailing justice, Washington should be paying massive reparations to Syria for orchestrating a war of aggression. Not only the U.S., but all those other accomplices in the criminality: Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.

However, the renewed aggression will backfire. America’s international image is descending rapidly into a cesspool of its own making. At a time of global pandemic from the coronavirus, Washington is seen as an unrelenting degenerate ramping up sanctions against several nations, including Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China, as well as Cuba and North Korea.

Whatever moral and political authority the U.S. may have had in the past, it is now squandering at a startling pace. The corrosive effect from this degeneracy on U.S. power and its financial privileges from the dollar as international reserve currency is very real and underway.

The attempts to block Syria’s reconstruction will only galvanize other nations to redouble their efforts to solidify an alternative to the U.S.-dominated financial system. Iran has vowed to ignore American sanctions on Syria. So too will Russia, China, Venezuela and others.

Washington failed to subjugate the Syrian nation despite inflicting unspeakable terrorism on it by enlisting jihadi gangs from all over the world to do its dirty work. The war’s death toll stands at near 400,000 with millions of more lives ruined through displacement. Reconstruction costs may run into trillions of dollars. But the new phase of American economic aggression will also fail. Because of international solidarity with Syria.

Washington’s tyranny is inadvertently creating a portal to a new global geopolitical realignment, one which will see the final demise of U.S. imperial power.

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Police Killings are a Political Tactic

By Rob Urie | CounterPunch | June 15, 2020

As the spark that lit a fire, the murder of George Floyd was horrifyingly, sickeningly ordinary. According to the scant data on police killing of citizens that is available, about three people are killed by the police in the U.S. every day. And despite the protest movements Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, this number has remained about constant in recent years through Democratic and Republican administrations. This persistence stands in contrast to the political ‘branding’ of the mainstream political parties where difference is claimed, but little is evident.

The place of Mr. Floyd’s murder in the ordinary working of American governance makes it the catalyst, not the cause, of current protests. The background circumstances of economic calamity suggest that political tensions will continue to rise as unemployment and economic desperation exert a toll on social stability. The horror of Mr. Floyd’s murder should get outraged citizens into the streets regardless of broader circumstances. But with history as a guide, it is these broader factors that are creating the political moment. This highlights the urgency of acting while there is an opening.

Graph: according to this credible— because it is unofficial, source, the total number of citizens killed by police per year has held steady at about 1,100 over the last decade. Ironically, given the scale and scope of the current rebellion, the number of blacks killed by the police has been falling over the last few years— meaning that the killing of whites has been rising. Illustrated here is the trend in blacks killed by the police by year. Source: mappingpoliceviolence.org.

The disproportionate targeting of blacks by the police is given needed context when the data is organized by economic class. Poor and working-class whites are arrested and incarcerated at about the same rate as poor and working-class blacks. By its nature, this data says nothing about history. But it does offer structural and political insights. To the prior, history informs the present, it doesn’t define it. To the latter, 1) the frame of race divides people who otherwise have shared class interests and 2) poor and working class ‘allies’ are struggling for their own freedom from police violence, whatever their intentions.

What this arithmetic of disparity implies is that a larger proportion of blacks than whites are poor and working class. One interpretation is that race defines economic opportunity, which is overly generous to how capitalism works. Whatever people’s sentiments, slavery, convict leasing and Jim Crow had economic explanations. Some people, call them capitalists, make themselves rich by making and keeping other people poor. Here is a dry, academic and partial explanation of how poor people are kept poor in the present.

The current focus on police violence is roughly analogous to explaining foreign entanglements like wars through the actions of foot soldiers and technicians rather than through the strategic and tactical goals of state leaders. And explanations of police power like police unions and white supremacy ignore modern history at the peril of their purveyors. The film 13th offers key insights into this history from a black liberal perspective. Richard Nixon created the carceral state to imprison the political enemies of capital.

As writer Dan Baum reported in Harper’s in 2016, Mr. Nixon created the ‘war on drugs’ to give state and local police a state-sanctioned (‘legitimate’) reason to arrest and imprison the counterculture left and blacks. Whatever Mr. Nixon’s sentiments regarding race, his goal was straightforwardly political— to use state power to arrest and imprison his political enemies. And his strategy worked. Through the war on drugs, the U.S. created the largest gulag system to imprison real and potential opponents of official state policy in human history.

This ‘political’ explanation of the carceral-police state strains the brains of Democrats who spent four decades arming, militarizing and supporting the police to combat ‘crime.’ That it is overwhelmingly poor and working people in prison who were sent there on drug charges supports Mr. Baum’s claim. As his source, Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, added, Mr. Nixon clearly understood that 1) ‘crime’ related to drugs was a political designation intended to 2) put the entire counter culture— which at the time included a large black nationalist movement, in prison.

The political question related to ‘crime’ wasn’t: what socially destructive behavior should be punished? It was: what laws can be enacted that will specifically target the political enemies of establishment interests to prevent them from mounting effective political challenges to it? To state the obvious, some of the most dangerous and socially destructive drugs (alcohol and tobacco) were kept legal to be distributed at a profit. And as ‘conspiracy theory’ as the charge still reads, decades of evidence place the CIA as the distribution center of the American narcotics trade.

What Mr. Nixon accomplished was twofold: he created the largest gulag system in world history and he gave a federal purpose to otherwise disparate and locally funded police departments. This is where Bill Clinton picked up. Through the liberal frame, Mr. Clinton’s deregulation of the banks, cutting of social spending and build out of the carceral state were unrelated acts. But even within a neoliberal frame, these are related as a carrot and stick approach to force people to adhere to the emerging neoliberal order. The requirement to work or starve was intended to recover the Dickensian conditions of early capitalism in ways that Ronald Reagan only dreamed of.

Another way to understand deregulation is as reducing the number, scale and scope of laws that constrain corporate behavior. Capital was freed by Bill Clinton as he used the class-proxy of ‘crime’ to increase violent state repression of poor and working people. By giving the police immunity for their actions, Mr. Clinton made violent crime a state-sponsored enterprise. Within the range of available options, he reduced social spending in poor neighborhoods, choosing instead to criminalize poverty. The Democrats have been the party of Wall Street ever since.

As with race in an earlier era, incarceration was made the marker that defines a super-exploitable class. The incarcerated— overwhelmingly from the poor and working class, were made to pay for their incarceration, often by working for private corporations at below-market wages; were the last hired and the first fired after being released from prison, and they were excluded from political participation through prohibitions on felon voting. These practices tie in history to convict leasing and Jim Crow— and liberal Democrats supported them.

Furthermore, what bearing would police reforms have on the political purpose of the carceral system? This purpose is determined by oligarchs and the agents of capital, not cops. Reforms will only be adopted and kept in place as long as to the broader political and economic goals of the oligarchs are met. For instance, the New Deal was jettisoned the moment it could be plausibly argued that it constrained capital. As for the Voting Rights Act, after blacks were given the right to vote, capital took over the electoral system.

Back to the film 13th for a moment. After presenting the half-baked assertion that Bill Clinton was forced by the political zeitgeist to take up Richard Nixon’s program of (re) racializing policing and the carceral system, it was clearly and accurately stated that Mr. Clinton was directly, and almost singularly, responsible for the willful destruction of millions of black and brown lives through his buildout of the carceral and police states. Mr. Clinton’s defense— that violent crime was a real problem, ignores the role that his patrons played in neighborhood destruction and the resulting social carnage that led to this outcome.

The film (13th) also provides a string of dim, thuggish, prattle from Donald Trump where he incites violence against ‘outsiders’ at his political rallies in his proto-fascist manner. This ties to his Nixonian threat to use the U.S. military to ‘dominate’ protests and protesters through violent repression. This in turn led to a rash of ‘Reichstag fire’ type analogies that treat Mr. Trump’s threats as facts while reducing the actual history of liberal Democrats building the largest gulag system in world history to a momentary lapse in judgment.

This public exploration of the liberal id was followed by well-placed editorials in the establishment press arguing that ‘Donald Trump is no Nixon— he is much worse.’ Here is Richard Nixon discussing with Nelson Rockefeller how to murder as much of the captive population of Attica prison, including prison guards, as was logistically possible just before Mr. Rockefeller did so. In addition to creating the American gulag system to imprison his political opponents, Mr. Nixon expanded the U.S. war in Vietnam to Laos and Cambodia, gratuitously slaughtering untold innocents in a war known to have been lost a full decade earlier.

That the Clintonite architect of the modern police and carceral states, Joe Biden, is the establishment Democrat’s candidate for president demonstrates their commitment to their neoliberal program. Joe Biden wrote key parts of the 1994 Crime Bill and the Patriot Act, and he dedicated his career to empowering the police while exempting them from accountability for their actions. After Bill Clinton, Joe Biden is the national political figure most responsible for the police practices that led to the murder of George Floyd.

In terms of emerging political alliances, the distance between words and actions is a political strategy. By analogy, the actions of white liberal Democrat Amy Cooper in using the NYPD for social leverage in her dispute with black birdwatcher Christian Cooper are instructional. By Ms. Cooper’s own words, she isn’t racist. Her use of race was transactional— race (and gender) are social levers, she wanted social leverage in her confrontation with Mr. Cooper, so she used them. The police were the social device at her disposal.

This is corporate logic— Ms. Cooper was a financial executive before she was publicly exposed for abusing Christian Cooper. It is also the mode of operational logic that dominates the Democrat’s political culture. The national Democrats who conceived and promoted the 1994 Crime Bill used its racial subtext for political leverage much as Ms. Cooper did. Ms. Cooper was careful to use politically correct terminology to demonstrate that while she was using race and gender to her advantage, she isn’t racist. #Resistance liberals used ‘Russia’ and ‘Putin’ in similar fashion to discredit their political opponents.

With regard to the current alliance of convenience between protesters, the establishment press and national Democrats, it was only a few weeks ago that the latter were lauding the American political police— the FBI, as the saviors of freedom and democracy in the Russiagate fraud. That the FBI was behind the scenes in the murders of Black Panther Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, suggests that protecting freedom and democracy isn’t precisely its mandate. Through its Cointelpro program, the FBI worked with Richard Nixon— and subsequent administrations, to disrupt, thwart and otherwise destroy organized opposition to state policy.

Closer to home, the FBI was ‘deeply involved’ in the vicious police repression that was used to shut Occupy Wall Street down in an organized multi-state operation. To bring this back to Mr. Nixon’s service to capital in creating the modern carceral-police state, the FBI coordinated with the large Wall Street banks that the Obama administration was still in the process of bailing out when its assault on the peaceful protesters of OWS took place. For those who may have forgotten, Wall Street bank J.P. Morgan made a $4.6 billion contribution to the NYPD pension fund as OWS gained political strength.

Events have moved past the murder of George Floyd as establishment hacks try to extinguish the flames with ham-fisted theatrics. I had a hard time not vomiting at the sight of craven Democrats dressed in kante garb kneeling in Kaepernick fashion to show solidarity with the people they have dedicated their careers to selling out to the highest bidder. Given that ‘we’ were in a similar place in 2015, with near daily high-profile murders of unarmed youth at the hands of the police that they had empowered, and they did nothing. To save the suspense, they engage in theatrics in place of taking meaningful action, not in addition to it.

With capitalism in its deepest crisis since 2009, and possibly since the 1930s, the current political moment is fraught. As was demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the existing powers are incapable of governing. What they are capable of is massive transfers of social wealth to the already rich and political repression. If capital is perceived to be threatened, look for self-preservation to come in the form of political violence no matter which party holds the White House. One might ask what happened to Bernie Sander’s ‘coalition,’ which I supported for tactical reasons (to head off environmental calamity [?!?] ). Bernie Sanders is a Democrat. That is what happened.

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , | Leave a comment