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The Black Swan Is a Drone

By Charles Hugh Smith | of two minds | September 15, 2019

Predictably, the mainstream media is serving up heaping portions of reassurances that the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities are no big deal and full production will resume shortly. The obvious goal is to placate global markets fearful of an energy disruption that could tip a precarious global economy into recession.

The real impact isn’t on short-term oil prices, it’s on asymmetric warfare: the coordinated drone attack on Saudi oil facilities is a Black Swan event that is reverberating around the world, awakening copycats and exposing the impossibility of defending against low-cost drones of the sort anyone can buy.

(Some published estimates place the total cost of the 10 drones deployed in the strike at $15,000. Highly capable commercially available drones cost around $1,200 each.)

The attack’s success should be a wake-up call to everyone tasked with defending highly flammable critical infrastructure: there really isn’t any reliable defense against a coordinated drone attack, nor is there any reliable way to distinguish between an Amazon drone delivering a package and a drone delivering a bomb.

Whatever authentication protocol that could be required of drones in the future–an ID beacon or equivalent–can be spoofed. For example: bring down an authenticated drone (using nets, etc.), swap out the guidance and payload, and away it goes. Or steal authentication beacons from suppliers, or hack an authenticated drone in flight, land it, swap out the payload–the list of spoofing workaround options is extensive.

This is asymmetric warfare on a new scale: $20,000 of drones can wreak $20 million in damage and financial losses of $200 million–or $2 billion or $20 billion, if global markets are upended.

If it’s impossible to defend against coordinated drone attacks, and impossible to differentiate “good” drones from “bad” drones, then the only reliable defense is to ban drones entirely from wide swaths of territory.

So much for the lightly regulated commercialization of drones.

What sort of light bulbs are going off in the minds of copycats? It doesn’t take much imagination to see the potential for mayhem–and without sacrificing your own life. I won’t elaborate on the possibilities here, but they’re obvious to us all.

The range and payload of low-cost drones is limited. The big drones can fly hundreds of miles and carry hundreds of pounds of weaponry, but these can be targeted by radar and conventional ground-to-air missiles. So-called hobby drones skimming over the rooftops (or deserts or forests) are difficult to shoot down, especially if the attack is coordinated to arrive from multiple directions.

Larger commercially available drones can carry up to 20 KG or 40 pounds–more than enough explosive capacity to take out any number of targets.

Defense and intelligence agencies have no doubt war-gamed the potential for coordinated drone attacks, and the world’s advanced militaries are already exploring the potential for self-organizing “drone hordes” of hundreds or even thousands of drones overwhelming defenders with sheer numbers. The success of the oil facilities attack proves the effectiveness of much smaller scale drone attacks.

Put yourself in the shoes of those tasked with securing hundreds of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas around the world. What’s your defense against drone attacks? A.I.-controlled or remote-operated gun towers every few hundred yards, along thousands of miles of pipelines? Human patrols covering the entire pipeline 24/7? The cost of such defenses would burden the defenders with enormous costs without providing 100% reliable security. (Guards can be bribed, remotely operated guns can be overwhelmed by an initial wave of cheap unarmed hobby drones, etc.)

It’s obvious there are no low-cost, effective defenses of thousands of miles of pipelines. (Recall that the Saudis depend on seawater being piped hundreds of kilometers into the desert to inject into oil wells to maintain production. Taking out these water lines and pumps would cripple production, too.)

The only effective way to limit drone attacks is to ban all drones and institute a shoot-on-sight policy in restricted areas. But that will not negate the potential for coordinated drone strikes or drone attacks on remote facilities.

The mainstream media will be under permanent pressure to downplay the consequences of this attack, but the cat is out of the bag: the Black Swan is a drone. What was “possible” yesterday is now a low-cost proven capability, and the consequences are far from predictable.

This unpredictability alone should unsettle markets, as the risk of future asymmetric warfare drone strikes just increased to a degree that is difficult to measure or hedge.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections

By Ralph Nader | September 18, 2019

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare, and although it has improved access to healthcare for some, tens of millions of Americans still cannot afford basic medical care for their family. No healthcare system is without problems but Canadian-style single-payer — full Medicare for all — is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal for all basic and emergency medical and hospital services.

In the mid-1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 25 ways the Canadian health care system — and the resulting quality of life in Canada — is better than the chaotic, wasteful and often cruel U.S. system.

Replace it with the much more efficient Medicare-for-all: everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital. It will produce far less anxiety, dread, and fear. Hear that, Congress and the White House!

Number 25:

In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out. A human right.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 28 million Americans (9 percent) are still uninsured and 85 million Americans (26 percent) are underinsured. Obamacare is made even worse by Trumpcare restrictions. (See Trumpcare by John Geyman MD (2019)).

Number 24:

In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare has done little to curb insurance industry profits and in fact has increased the concentrated insurance industry’s massive profits.

Number 23:

In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 22:

In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you only for as long as you can afford your insurance.

Number 21:

In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay dearly for it.

Number 20:

In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in insurance premiums directly and indirectly per employer.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time. The survivors are confronted with very high, often unregulated drug prices.

Number 19:

In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills are terribly complex, replete with massive billing fraud estimated to be at least $350 billion a year by Harvard Professor Malcolm Sparrow.

Number 18:

In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 17.9 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 17:

In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, health-care-driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 16:

In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, often staggering complexity ratchets up huge administrative costs and overhead.

Number 15:

In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 14:

In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases. As a result, drug prices remain exorbitant and continue to  skyrocket.

Number 13:

In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2017, the CEO of Aetna alone made a whopping $59 million.

Number 12:

In Canada, there are no required co-pays or deductibles in inscrutable contracts.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans. Fine print traps are everywhere.

Number 11:

In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 10:

In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 9:

In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, tens of thousands of Americans will continue to die every year because they lack health insurance or can’t pay much higher prices for drugs, medical devices, and health care itself.

Number 8:

In Canada, health care on average costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, unlike in the United States, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority support Medicare-for-all. But they are being blocked by lawmakers and their corporate paymasters.

Number 7:

In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are modestly progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 6:

In Canada, people use GoFundMe to start new businesses.

In the United States, fully one in three GoFundMe fundraisers are now to raise money to pay medical bills. Recently, one American was rejected for a heart transplant because she couldn’t afford the follow-up care. Her insurance company suggested she raise the money through GoFundMe.

Number 5:

In Canada, people avoid prison at all costs.

In the United States, some Americans commit minor crimes so that they can get to prison and receive free health care.

Number 4:

In Canada, people look forward to the benefits of early retirement.

In the United States, people delay retirement to 65 to avoid being uninsured.

Number 3:

In Canada, Nobel Prize winners hold on to their medal and pass it down to their children and grandchildren.

In the United States, a Nobel Prize winner sold his medal to help pay for his medical bills.

Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in 1988 for his pioneering physics research. But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away in November 2018, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills.

Number 2:

In Canada, the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s 954 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Number 1:

In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, a growing majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system – Medicare-for-all, free choice of doctor and hospital , everybody in, nobody out and far less expensive with better outcomes overall.

It’s decision time, America!

For more information, see Single Payer Action.


Ralph Nader is a leading consumer advocate, the author of Unstoppable The Emerging Left Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State (2014), among many other books, and a four-time candidate for US President.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Putin’s Multipolar Offer to Saudi Arabian Exceptionalism

By Tim Kirby | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 18, 2019

Global Islamic Terrorism is universally recognized as today’s big threat and has been the justification for all sorts of changes, especially to life in the West after 9/11. The Islamic terrorists whom we are supposed to fear on a daily basis more or less believe in some form of Wahhabism, which grew up in and is spread from Saudi Arabia. Surprisingly the US and the Saudis have been and still are staunch allies. This makes little sense on the surface but Saudi exceptionalism extends to Russia as well. Russia and former parts of its territory have been some of the biggest victims of Wahhabism and still fight it to this day and yet President Putin just vowed to protect them from air threats via Russia’s top of the line equipment. So this raises the question by what logic would Russia want work with the Saudis who prop up the ideas that murder their citizens? The short answer is Multipolarity.

During the Cold War we saw two great powers with massive spheres of influence dividing the planet between themselves. This Bipolar (in the literal sense) structure forced everyone on America’s side to be Capitalist / Western-style Democratic and everyone on the USSR’s side to be Communist. So for every Communist revolution that succeeded Moscow’s sphere of influence grew while Washington’s shrank.

Now in the 21st century this dynamic is much different as the sole Hyperpower is fighting against any upstarts who challenge its status, which means that every nation that succumbs to the Washington status quo is a victory for Monopolarity, while any nation that begins to act on its own or under the influence of anyone besides the US/NATO/The West is a victory for Multipolarity.

This is why today, unlike during the Cold War Russia has a policy of being open to working with anyone who is willing to work with them regardless of ideology. Of course during the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union would work with countries outside their political theory of preference to some degree, but now Russia is free from the burdens of Communist ideology and is thus free to associate with anyone and Moscow is willing to work with anyone because any nation that rises up to a high level of sovereignty creates another crack in the monolith of Monopolarity.

This is why Moscow has been cooperating with Turkey who at times has been very aggressive towards them, shooting down a Russian plane, forcing their way into Syria and working against Assad’s and Russia’s interests in the region, and opening Turkish Universities across parts of the Former USSR challenging Russian cultural influence. These all sound bad, but Moscow has bigger fish to fry and the upstart Turks, despite being in NATO are beginning to push for a more powerful sovereign pro-Turkish foreign policy, which is bad for Russia in doses, but on the whole is a huge stride towards a Multipolar World that Russia so desperately needs.

And this is the logic that applies to the Saudis. True the Saudi Wahhabism and loud inaction in terms of containing Wahhabism have lead to the deaths of many Russian-speaking people the world over, but the Multipolar mission takes precedence, thus Putin offered the Saudis to buy Russian S-400 systems because “Our (Russian) air defenses can protect you, like they do Turkey and Iran” and that “These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack.”

Syria and Turkey are both major Multipolar victories so perhaps in Putin’s words there is a hint that Saudi Arabia could jump on the Other World Order’s boat by buying these defense systems. The S-400s in question could be used to defend against a local neighbor, but we could suppose that a massive surface-to-air set up would best be used to defend against NATO, who is the only serious missile launching threat.

To an extent it is very possible that this offer by President Putin to the parties indirectly responsible for a great deal of suffering in Russia could actually be an invitation to the Multipolar World.

Saudi Arabia has been very much the exceptional Arab nation in the Middle East when it comes to NATO’s actions, but nothing lasts forever. The Saudis have oil and little means to defend it, while at the same time maintaining an ideology that has been demonized by the Mainstream Media for almost 20 years, prepping the West with a casus belli when the time comes. The fear of Monopolar aggression could force the Saudis to buy into team Multipolarity.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom in Sight for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Prison Radio | September 16, 2019

Freedom is now in sight. New evidence, recently found, and surpressed for decades could be the key to relief for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Joe McGill and Ed Rendell, trial prosecutor and DA, respectively, manipulated evidence and framed Mumia Abu-Jamal for first degree murder in 1982.

Six boxes of undisclosed case files labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” were found in a furniture closet last December by new DA Larry Krasner. Here is the exculpatory “Brady” evidence that was inside:

  • A letter from a witness demanding his money.
  • Memo after memo to and from Joe McGill tracking the open cases of another key witness.
  • Handwritten notes on original files, closely tracking the race of jurors.

Now we know that for 37 years the District Attorney’s office actively lied. They scrubbed clean every single document production, during multiple appeals, for years. It is cliché and almost predictable: evidence “lost” in a storage closet for 37 years by evil absent-minded hoarders.

Make no mistake- this evidence would have directly challenged the only “witnesses” at trial who identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the shooter of officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

The testimony of these two witnesses was compromised, something the jury was kept from knowing. One witness had as many as 35 prior convictions and 4-5 open cases. Now we know the DA was monitoring those cases very closely asking to be advised when they were in court. The other witness to the shooting was driving a cab on a suspended license and was on probation for throwing a Molotov cocktail into a school for pay. The jury never heard this. This information certainly would have challenged prosecutor Joe McGill’s statement to the jury that they had nothing to gain from lying. Remember this is a jury who asked for re-instruction on the charges and were wavering on a finding of 1stDegree Murder. Remember Albert “I am going to help them they fry the nigger” Sabo, was the judge. And Alfonso “I retired with full pay and was indicted” Giordano, a commander, was the highest ranking officer on the scene that night.

On July 3rd, 1982, this was not an open and shut case. The petition to the Superior Court also raises the reinstated appeal issues from the Castille decision handed down by Judge Tucker. These include claims of improper jury selection (Batson Claims), Ineffective assistance of counsel, and errors of law made by the court in previous appeals.

Every time you see Joe McGill in the courtroom or at an FOP event, or you see Ed Rendell at a party or a campaign event, remember this- they were stepping on the scales of justice from the beginning.

Mumia came within 10 days of being executed because of this misconduct. I was there. I got that call from the strip cell. Mumia had nothing but an orange jump suit, a half a sheet of paper and the cartridge of a pen (so he could send another prisoner as a proxy to the law library). Before and after his two death warrants he was held in solitary confinement on death row for decades!

Fast forward to 2017: Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker admonishes the District Attorney to produce all of the requested material from their files. Finally, having no faith in their review, he demands that they deliver all of their files to his chambers. There he found documents revealing the bias of PA Supreme Court Judge Castille that the DA had somehow “missed”  – or willfully suppressed. After all of that, in 2018, newly elected DA Larry Krasner comes across six boxes of original trial material labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” in a storage closet. A week later they find hundreds of more boxes in that “storage cavern.”

Please know that the road ahead may still be rough. But there is hope.

Freedom is more possible than it has ever been before.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Why do so many spy agencies take so much interest in Gaza?

By Motasem A Dalloul | MEMO | September 16, 2019

The Gaza Strip is a part of Palestine with more than two million Palestinians living in around 365 square kilometres. It has been occupied by Israel since 1967, which has imposed a near-total 13-year land, air and sea blockade. It is regarded as one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The coastal enclave has been subject to many Israeli military offensives, with three major attacks during the past decade alone. It has no natural resources and “less than four per cent of fresh water is drinkable and the surrounding sea is polluted by sewage.” Tragic humanitarian statistics — unemployment at 52 per cent; poverty 53 per cent; water pollution 95 per cent; and daily power outage 75 per cent — convey a bleak picture. A United Nations report warned in 2018 that it could soon become unfit for humans to live in by 2020.

However, Gaza has a presence in many corridors of power around the world, in both the East and the West. Last week, a security source in Gaza told me that they had so far discovered agents for 25 regional and international intelligence agencies operating in the territory.

Furthermore, every official or partisan Israeli election list has the issue of Gaza at the top of the agenda in their current campaigns. What are they promising to do with the Gaza Strip?

According to Ron Ben-Yishai, the military correspondent of Yedioth Ahronoth, for example, the Likud Party is planning a large-scale military ground operation in Gaza to deter the Palestinians’ “military power”, after which, he claimed, Israel will call for the world to disarm the security forces there and reconstruct the infrastructure and economy. The Blue and White party, said Ben-Yishai, is promising potential voters that it will do more or less the same thing as Likud.

The veteran journalist pointed out that the head of Israel’s Jewish Home party, Avigdor Lieberman, is promising its voters to carry out a similarly “strong” military operation in Gaza to “completely” remove its government before rebuilding the enclave “from zero”. Again, the intention is to have a disarmed population on Israel’s doorstep. The Yamina alliance led by the former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, meanwhile, is promising to carry out a massive air strike in Gaza and carry out assassinations (“targeted killings”) of Palestinian leaders.

It is no secret that Egypt is a major player in the situation in Gaza. It plays a role in the Israeli and internationally-backed blockade, and has a special unit in almost every security agency tasked with dealing with the Gaza Strip. In practice, Egypt, is the only state beside Israel which has a land border with the Gaza Strip, but regards it as a security issue and is dealing with it as such. As far as the Palestinians can see, though, since the time of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s deep state gives priority to Israel’s interests in Cairo’s relationship with Gaza.

End Gaza Siege! – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The UAE has imposed severe restrictions on Gaza since the victory of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in the 2006 elections. Hamas has been the de facto government in Gaza ever since. The government in Abu Dhabi has since deported or asked hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza to leave the Emirates, and has been running active intelligence agencies in the Gaza Strip with the help of Palestinian MP Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the UAE with his family.

During the 2014 Israeli military offensive against Gaza, the security services discovered that an ostensibly medical aid convoy which entered the territory included intelligence staff instead of doctors and medical staff. To avoid clashes with the UAE, the Gaza security officials immediately deported the UAE nationals.

Jordan also has a hidden agenda in Gaza. A security source told me that a Jordanian MP who visited the territory during the 2014 Israeli offensive was discovered collecting and reporting intelligence on behalf of a certain country. He was immediately deported with the threat that he would be exposed to the media if he did not leave his hotel in the enclave at once.

Other known agents active in Gaza include those working on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Western powers, the US and Russia. Prior to 2008/9, an American citizen in her 20s entered Gaza posing as a journalist and claimed to me that she was a CIA agent. Israel, of course, has many Palestinian collaborators in the territory.

Why are the countries of the world paying so much attention to the sliver of land known as the Gaza Strip? Could it be because Gaza is the only place in the whole Arab world which is being ruled by the people who were chosen by democratic elections declared to be free and fair by international monitoring bodies, including the NGO run by former US President Jimmy Carter? Or is it because the Gaza Strip is a “superpower” that the whole world is afraid of? May be the latter is true precisely because of that electoral accountability.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

World sleepwalking into total nuclear war as callous elites fear no bloodshed – Russian scholar

RT | September 16, 2019

Limiting nuclear arsenals doesn’t make the world safer – not while the elites, who have never seen a big war, complacently believe they never will. This dangerous illusion invites apocalyptic conflict, a renowned scholar believes.

Humankind’s history might be a history of wars, but for several decades there was a sort of lull, with no really big armed conflict affecting leading world powers. That is, in part, thanks to nuclear weapons. Fear of their power kept the Cold War from becoming a hot one and restricted the actual fighting to proxy conflicts.

And that, in turn, has led to a situation where many of those currently in power don’t take the threat of war with the gravity it deserves, says Sergey Karaganov, a researcher of international relations and a dean at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.

Complacency breeds danger

“The previous generations had a gut fear of war because their fathers or they themselves experienced World War II. But modern generations think of war very lightly,” he told RT.

This attitude is a major reason why the world now is in fact a more dangerous place than it was at the height of the US-Soviet confrontation, he believes. Some powers believe they are entitled to live in peace and cannot imagine that a smaller conflict elsewhere may escalate into a nuclear Armageddon. Meanwhile old mechanisms meant to prevent such a disaster are rapidly deteriorating, he said.

This year Washington scrapped one of the key Cold War agreements restricting nuclear weapons – the INF Treaty – and indicated that another one – New START – would not be extended beyond 2021. The US changed its nuclear posture and now doesn’t rule out responding with nukes to a cyberattack. The Pentagon’s generals want a larger toolbox of smaller nuclear weapons and are weighing up options on how to use them in regular conflicts.

These days, it’s more complicated than just nukes

That said, those old mechanisms are also failing for purely technological reasons. In the 1970s there was a reasonably clear distinction between strategic weapons and everything else, so ensuring parity was relatively simple. Basically the US and the USSR settled on numbers of missiles, long-range bombers, submarines and warheads they were comfortable with and agreed ways to verify that each party sticks to the limits.

“There are people in our country, as well as in other countries, who are stressing that we should go as we have been going in the 1960s and the ‘70s and the ‘80s. I must say I am very skeptical, because even in the ‘70s and the ‘80s we were basing our analysis on the very, very strange presumption of what was called parity,” Karaganov says.

But the distinction between “nuclear and non-nuclear, conventional and non-conventional” is blurred today. How does one take into the equation, for example, a conventional precision missile that can be fired across the border and take out the other nation’s military headquarters? Or a satellite that can blind an ICBM early warning spacecraft? Or a hypersonic glider? Or a computer virus that can shut down the power grid?

“Now strategic parity is almost impossible to count.”

Stop trying to limit nukes – change the thinking

Karaganov recently co-authored a report on this persistent danger. He admits it doesn’t have all the right answers, but offers some ideas where to begin – and philosophy is at least as important as politics or technicalities.

For example, nations should acknowledge that geopolitical rivalry was not an aberration of the ideologically-divided past but rather a natural order of things. Strong players have great appetites and will use any means to impose their will on weaker ones. Unfair, but such is life.

The next step would be to embrace a new multilateral deterrence arrangement that would include additional players, first and foremost China, and somehow incorporate non-nuclear things like cyber weapons into the calculation.

“The aim of the strategic policy of all responsible nuclear powers should not be doing away or even reducing their nuclear weapons, but strengthening mutual deterrence, and that is a completely different philosophy,” Karaganov suggests.

Essentially, he and his colleagues suggest ditching the old idea of nuclear stability – achieved through the reduction and capping of the two largest superpowers’ arsenals. Instead, any new treaties should focus on transparency – as well as developing protocols to wind down a nuclear conflict once it does start, which is much more likely to happen by accident than by intention.

The result may be somewhat of a Mexican standoff, but the alternative is far more dangerous, the scholars argue. An armed conflict involving nuclear-capable powers has the potential to spiral out of control, with sides trading increasingly serious blows and hoping the other one will chicken out.

A few decades ago the fear of nuclear weapons put a reasonably low cap on such games of nerves, but it is no longer the case and the risks are rising by the year. The solution would be for the great powers to put de-escalation as the paramount goal whenever a clash brews and treat any potential war between them as a doomsday in the making.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Who stabbed Sirhan Sirhan, and by the way who killed Bobby Kennedy?

By Jay Jackson | Big News Network  | September 1, 2019

SAN DIEGO, California – Sirhan Sirhan, the man alleged to have assassinated Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 continues to recover in hospital after being stabbed by a fellow inmate on Friday.

Sirhan, a Christian, was convicted of slaying Kennedy, however there is considerable evidence that he was not responsible for the late attorney general’s death.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a statement late Friday indicating a prisoner at the Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, had been stabbed and said “officers responded quickly” to the attack.

The statement said the victim of the stabbing was in stable condition.

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death but that sentence was later commuted to life in prison after Sirhan agreed, on his lawyer Grant Cooper’s advice, to admit to the shooting, even though he did not remember it. Cooper, who was widely criticised for this tactic, and for not investigating the crime, had offered the jury the concession to sway the jury from recommending the death sentence for his client.

Sirhan, an exercise boy at racetracks and a stock clerk and delivery boy at a health food store, at the time, and to this day, says he has no recollection of shooting Kennedy, and was badly advised by his legal counsel.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot.

Kennedy was shot at point-blank range from behind, the bullet piercing just below his ear. The autopsy performed by Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Thomas Noguchi concluded the gun had been fired no more than one or 2 inches from Kennedy. Sirhan, however, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant on a Jordanian passport, was standing several feet in front of him and shooting indiscriminately.

Another problem for Sirhan’s legal team was that they were only provided with the autopsy report well into the trial.

Just as there is significant doubt about the killer of his brother John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963, Robert Kennedy’s death too has been clouded with speculation.

It has been suggested Sirhan may have been subjected to coercive hypnosis, in a real-life version of “The Manchurian Candidate.” Several witnesses said he was in a trance-like state. It is known that well into the 1960s the CIA had a project in operation that was in full experimentation mode whereby individuals were being hypnotised and instructed to carry out actions in a waking state, and to say things that would be compatible with the actions they were instructed to undertake.

Other evidence to throw doubt on Sirhan’s role in the assassination is that a number of witnesses swore that up to 13 shots were fired at the time, when Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets.

Robert Kennedy Jnr., a lawyer, who was just 14 when his father was assassinated, says he harbours doubts about Sirhan’s guilt. He recently visited him in prison.

“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” he told The Washington Post. “I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”

Kennedy has called for a reinvestigation of the assassination.

His sister, former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is now expressing doubts, too. “Bobby makes a compelling case,” she told The Washington Post. “I think the investigation should be reopened.”

Paul Schrade, who was in the Kennedy entourage and who was shot while walking behind him still remembers the night. “He immediately started shaking hands,” with kitchen workers, he said of Kennedy. “The TV lights went on. I got hit. I didn’t know I was hit. I was shaking violently, and I fell. Then Bob fell. I saw flashes and heard crackling. The crackling actually was all the other bullets being fired.”

Witnesses reported that Kennedy said, “Is everybody okay? Is Paul all right?”

Schrade when he recovered tried to set the record straight. Since 1974 he has been trying to get the case reopened. “Yes, he did shoot me. Yes, he shot four other people and aimed at Kennedy,” Schrade said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The important thing is he did not shoot Robert Kennedy. Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was. They wanted a quickie.”

“I’m interested in finding out how the prosecutor convicted Sirhan with no evidence, knowing there was a second gunman,” Schrade said.

As with Lee Harvey Oswald, everything was down pat for the LAPD when Kennedy went down. Sirhan confessed to the killing at trial (he claims this was done on his lawyer’s instruction). He took hours of target practice with his pistol earlier in the day, and he had the gun with him when he went into the Ambassador Hotel that night. He had been seen at a Kennedy speech at the Ambassador two days earlier. He had a newspaper clipping critical of Kennedy in his pocket and had written “RFK must die” repetitively in notebooks found at his home, none of which he had any recollection of. And he waited in the pantry for about 30 minutes, according to witnesses who said he asked if Kennedy would be coming through there. With five wounded victims, and Kennedy having been shot 3 times, that accounted for the eight bullets in Sirhan’s gun. Game, set and match.

Witnesses however said bullet holes were found in the door frames of the Ambassador Hotel’s pantry, and photos showed investigators examining the holes in the hours after the shooting. This would imply there was a second shooter. Lead crime scene investigator DeWayne Wolfer said at the time the holes were not bullet holes, and the doors had since been destroyed.

“Though Los Angeles authorities had promised transparency in the case, the police and prosecutors refused to release their files until 1988, when they produced a flood of new evidence for researchers,” The Washington Post said in its report.

“Among the material was an audiotape, first unearthed by CNN journalist Brad Johnson, which had been inadvertently made by Polish journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski in the Ambassador Hotel’s ballroom, and turned over to police in 1969.”

“Pruszynski’s microphone had been on the podium where Kennedy spoke, and TV footage shows him detaching it and moving toward the pantry as the shooting happens,” the Post report says.

“In 2005, audio engineer Philip Van Praag said the tape revealed that about 13 shots had been fired. He said he used technology similar to that of the ShotSpotter used by police to alert them to gunshots, and which differentiates gunshots from firecrackers or other loud bangs.”

Van Praag said mid-last year that different guns create different resonances and that he was able to establish that two guns were fired, that they fired in different directions, and that some of the shot “impulses” were so close together they couldn’t have been fired by the same gun. He said he could not say “precisely” 13 shots but certainly more than the eight contained by Sirhan’s gun,” said The Washington Post report.

“There were too many bullets,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”

He described Sirhan’s trial as “really a penalty hearing. It wasn’t a real trial. At a full trial, they would have litigated his guilt or innocence. I think it’s unfortunate that the case never went to a full trial because that would have compelled the press and prosecutors to focus on the glaring discrepancies in the narrative that Sirhan fired the shots that killed my father.”

Kennedy told the Post he was asleep in his dorm at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., on June 5, 1968, when a priest woke him and told there was a car waiting outside to take him to the family home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Va. The priest didn’t say why.

In his memoir, “American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family,” Kennedy said his mother’s secretary was waiting for him. “Jinx Hack told me my father had been shot, but I was still thinking he’d be okay. He was, after all, indestructible.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his older sister Kathleen and brother Joe flew to Los Angeles on Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey’s plane, Air Force Two.

At Good Samaritan Hospital, Kennedy wrote, his father’s head was bandaged and his face was bruised. A priest had already delivered last rites. His mother was there.

“I sat down across the bed from her and took hold of his big wrestler’s hand,” he wrote. “I prayed and said goodbye to him, listening to the pumps that kept him breathing. Each of us children took turns sitting with him and praying opposite my mom.

“My dad died at 1:44 a.m., a few minutes after doctors removed his life support. My brother Joe came into the ward where all the children were lying down and told us, ‘He’s gone.’ ”

Sirhan has been in prison for over fifty years now. His 50th anniversary took place on 23 May this year. He has been denied parole fifteen times.

At his last parole hearing in 2016, Schrade spoke on Sirhan’s behalf and apologized for not coming forward sooner to advocate for his release and exoneration.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

9/11 – TAKE THE QUIZ

luogocomune2 | September 9, 2019

How much do you really know about the most important terrorist attacks in human history?

Italian version here: https://youtu.be/8r30BwB7YGo — Version française ici: https://youtu.be/ndA2N7ZbKas

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 4 Comments

Scientists Alarmed as Transgenic Mosquitos Meant to Combat Zika Virus Interbreed With Local Species

Sputnik – 14.09.2019

While the mixing of the modified mosquitos and their indigenous counterparts does not pose a health risk in itself, the fact that this outcome was not anticipated by scientists is “concerning,” one of the researchers noted.

A genetically modified strain of mosquitos that was introduced in Brazil years ago in an effort to combat the spread of mosquito-borne diseases has apparently managed to successfully interbreed with the local mosquito population despite being specifically designed to prevent such outcome, Yale News reports citing a new study conducted by researchers from Brazil and the United States.

According to the media outlet, a commercial company called Oxitec Ltd. released approximately 450,000 transgenic Aedes aegypti male mosquitos “containing a dominant lethal gene” over a period of 27 months, between 2013 and 2015, in the Brazilian city of Jacobina.

The experiment was aimed at reducing the risk of people contracting diseases such as Zika or yellow fever via this particular vector, as female mosquitos mating with the males from the modified strain were supposed to be unable to produce offspring.

However, a study of the mosquito specimens collected in the region has revealed that the genes from the transgenic strain continue to exist in some members of the local mosquito population.

“The claim was that genes from the release strain would not get into the general population because offspring would die. That obviously was not what happened,” said Jeffrey Powell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and senior author of the report.

He noted that while this “mixing” of the indigenous mosquitos and the modified strain apparently does not pose any “known health risk”, “it is the unanticipated outcome that is concerning”.

“Based largely on laboratory studies, one can predict what the likely outcome of the release of transgenic mosquitoes will be, but genetic studies of the sort we did should be done during and after such releases to determine if something different from the predicted occurred,” Powell added.

The researchers also noticed that while the mosquito population in the region initially declined after the introduction of the modified males, it had rebounded about 18 months after the experiment.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Mark LaGanga’s WTC 9/11 Video

MiscellaneousUploads

Re-upload from WTCFOIAVideos in full 1080p 60 fps. Let’s hope it doesn’t get taken down for copyright…

September 14, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

In Chile, Dictatorship-Era Legacy of Impunity Is Still Endorsed by Governments

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 13, 2019

“It does not matter whether the government is right or left-wing; impunity is maintained. Even with the previous governments it was discovered that the Armed forces burnt the archives with information and no steps were taken.” Former Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) member and torture survivor Erika Hennings has experienced the trauma of state-enforced oblivion – she is still seeking the details about the extermination and disappearance of her husband, Alfonso Chanfreau.

Forty-six years since the US-backed military coup overthrew the democratically-elected, socialist government led by Salvador Allende, Chilean society remains fragmented and burdened with a legacy which all governments since the transition back to democracy have failed to challenge.

The neoliberal experiment unleashed upon Chile was violent – in 2011, the Chilean state recognised 40,018 people as victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, among them 3,065 who were killed and disappeared. The Chilean military’s pact of silence has hampered efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as forced Chileans to contend with gaps in their personal and collective memory.

Human rights lawyer and Communist Party deputy Carmen Hertz, whose husband Carlos Berger was one of the victims of the Calama Massacre in October 1973 – the last stop of the dictatorship operation known as the Caravan of Death, has also blamed the governments from the transition onwards for cultivating state impunity. Fragments of her husband’s remains were identified – together with the other Calama victims, Berger was mutilated, buried clandestinely and later exhumed for disposal into the ocean. The Chilean state, Hertz asserted, “has debt in truth, in justice, in reparation.”

The Chilean state, however, has no intention of facilitating the Chilean quest for justice and memory. Upholding impunity remains a prime concern for the government and the military. Oblivion, the act of forgetting which Pinochet insisted upon as the only means to move on from dictatorship crimes against humanity, is never far from Chileans’ consciousness. As a mechanism endorsed and implemented at state level, Chileans involved in memory and resistance activity are perpetually fighting against government efforts to erase remembrance.

Last Sunday, a march led by various human rights and memory group commemorating the victims of the Pinochet dictatorship in Santiago was violently disrupted by the Chilean police.

A recent cruel taunt by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro directed at former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, whose father was murdered by the dictatorship, was mildly reprimanded by Chilean President Sebastian Piñera who, while denouncing the comment as regards subject matter, downplayed its significance by describing Bolsonaro’s dictatorship admiration as “different opinions”.

Bachelet, herself a torture victim, failed to maintain her promise to close the luxury prison of Punta Peuco, where former dictatorship agents serving multiple sentences lead privileged lives in incarceration. During her presidential terms, Bachelet made use of the Pinochet-era anti-terror law to target Mapuche communities and individuals involved in resistance. Although by no means an exception in resorting to the legislation, its use was most widespread during her tenure.

As part of his electoral campaign, Piñera had vowed changes to make the legislation easier to implement against the Mapuche. In November 2018, Mapuche youth Camilo Catrillanca was murdered by the Comando Jungla – a special force trained by the US and Colombia. Evidence related to the killing was destroyed and the witness, a minor, was beaten by the police.

In August this year, it was revealed that the Chilean military was spying on the Chilean investigative journalist and author Mauricio Weibel in 2016.

In another bizarre case, a former DINA agent pressed criminal charges against Javier Rebolledo, a Chilean investigative writer. Rebolledo’s research revealed detailed accounts of torture and sexual abuse perpetrated by DINA agents, among them Raul Quintana Salazar, who sued the author for purported defamation.

State-endorsed oblivion in Chile has made a travesty out of justice. Yet it has also ensured a strengthening of memory. The latter, however, faces one main hurdle in the form of governments normalising dictatorship violence. If governments in Chile continue to uphold the dictatorship pacts of silence, Chile’s memory will, with time, remain tethered to narrations which do not make it beyond diluted versions of history.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Pirates of Gibraltar

By Sasan Fayazmanesh | CounterPunch | September 13, 2019

When I hear the word “pirates” certain images conjure up: the silly, moldy, dusty “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride in Disneyland that I saw in my youth; the banal, boring, childish Hollywood movies by the same title that I could not watch for more than a few minutes; or the actual pirates, such as the modern day bandits who were actively raiding ships a few years ago off the coast of Somalia. But the image of British, American and Israeli politicians in three-piece suits or skirts as pirates never came to my mind until very recently. If you don’t know what I am talking about, read the script below which appears in chronological order.

On April 17, 2019, a tanker named Grace 1 left Iran for an unspecified destination with reportedly 2.1 million barrels of crude oil, worth some $130 million. According to a March 20 report in Reuters about how Iran tries to evade US sanctions, the Grace 1 was “Panamanian-flagged and managed by Singapore-based shipping services firm.” The Grace 1, TankerTrackers reported, was built in 1997 and, given its age and size, was not allowed to dock at many ports. It therefore had a history of handling ship-to-ship fuel oil transfers at sea. It would typically receive fuel oil from Iran, the source stated, and then deliver it to smaller vessels.

The tanker appeared to be heading to the Mediterranean Sea. But instead of taking the much shorter route of the Suez Canal, it circled around Africa. Why? Because, according to TankerTrackers, the ship was too heavy and, therefore, too submerged to pass through the shallow Suez Canal. Such heavy tankers can, using pipelines, offload some of their oil before entering the canal and receive them on other side of the canal. However, since Saudi Arabia is part owner of the pipeline, and is hostile to Iran, it would not allow Iran to use the facility.

On July 4, 2019, The New York Times reported that British marines and the port authorities in Gibraltar detained the Grace 1 as it “was carrying crude oil from Iran to Syria, a violation of European Union sanctions against Syria.” It further stated that according to Spain, the tanker had been detained at the request of the United States, and that British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had praised Gibraltar and the British marines “for this bold move to enforce Syria sanctions.” (The New York Times, of course, did not mention the fact that Gibraltar is a British colony with little or no say in international matters, and that carrying oil to Syria by the tanker is merely an allegation.) The report said that Iran had summoned the British ambassador over what it called “illegal” seizure, and the ambassador had been told that the British action “is very strange because these sanctions are not imposed by the Security Council and Iran rejects them.” In other words, these were merely EU imposed sanctions and Iran did not have to abide by them.

Subsequently, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that “UK’s unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of the B team is piracy, pure and simple” (Press TV, July 8). By the B team he meant US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, individuals who were actively pushing for a war with Iran. Zarif reiterated that the British argument that the tanker was seized because it was in breach of the EU sanctions against Syria made no sense, since “Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo.” In addition, he pointed out that since EU was against extraterritoriality, it made no sense to argue that Britain seized the tanker on behest of the US government, which amounts to imposition of US laws on other countries. Moreover, various sources reported that according to Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, the Grace 1 was not even going to Syria but was going “somewhere else.”

On July 11, UPI reported that the Royal Gibraltar Police had arrested the captain and chief officer of the Grace 1, who were Indian nationals, on “suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.” According to the report, the Grace 1 had been searched and documents and electronic devices had been seized and examined. The report also mentioned that Iranian gunboats in the Strait of Hormuz had attempted to detain the British Heritage tanker, but they had backed down following a warning from the British warship HMS Montrose.

On July 13, the Guardian reported that Hunt had told Zarif that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained Grace 1 oil tanker if there were guarantees it would not go to Syria and that Zarif had told him that Iran wanted to resolve the issue and did not want to escalate tensions. Nevertheless, the report went on to say, the UK was increasing its military presence in the Persian Gulf by sending a second warship to the region to protect British commercial oil tankers. The report further stated that Hunt and Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, had “agreed the importance of deescalating the current situation as quickly as possible while noting the importance of Gibraltar enforcing EU sanctions against Syria.”

Six days later Reuters reported that the Gibraltar government has announced that its “Supreme Court,” at the request of the “Attorney General,” has extended the period of detention of the Grace 1 for an additional 30 days and has set a new hearing for August15. It also reported that Fabian Picardo held a “constructive and positive” meeting with Iranian officials in London to discuss the tanker. On July 18 British Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to Gibraltar’s efforts in detaining the Grace 1 and thanked Gibraltar’s chief minister for detaining the oil tanker (The National).

On July 19, in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran seized a British tanker called Stena Impero which sailed under the UK flag and was registered in London. The seizure followed the same dramatic routine that had been followed by the British when they captured the Grace 1. In a video that Iran released shortly after the incident, Iranian commandos in black ski masks and fatigues rappelled from a helicopter onto the British tanker. Even though Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claimed that the Stena Impero was seized because it failed to follow international maritime regulations, it was clear that the act was simply a tit for tat and intended to put pressure on the British government to release the Grace 1. The Tasnim news agency reported that the Guards had also stopped another UK-operated tanker but released it afterward. The British raised a hue and cry. Jeremy Hunt stated: “I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz. . . I will shortly attend a COBR [Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms] meeting to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels” (CNBC, July 19). BBC also quoted Hunt as saying that the Iranian seizures were “completely unacceptable” and “freedom of navigation must be maintained.” (Note that when British imperial forces engage in an act of piracy, it is acceptable, but when Iranians try to copy them it is “completely unacceptable”!) Hunt warned Iran that “if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences.”

In a detailed article on July 20 the Guardian unmasked the role that the US, and particularly John Bolton, had played in the seizure of the Grace 1. It wrote that when the Grace 1 was captured, Bolton tried to act as if he had no previous knowledge of the act by tweeting: “Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions.” But “Bolton’s national security team was directly involved in manufacturing the Gibraltar incident.” The Grace 1 had been under surveillance by US satellites since April, when it was anchored off Iran. Once it headed for the Mediterranean Sea the US informed Spain of its arrival and its passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain, which does not recognize British rule over Gibraltar, took no action. But the British, who had also been told to seize the tanker, acted and stormed the tanker with 30 marines. The result, as the Guardian pointed out, was that “Britain has been plunged into the middle of an international crisis it is ill-prepared to deal with.” Iran’s retaliation in snatching the Stena Impero, the Guardian stated, has further exposed “Britain’s diplomatic isolation and its military and economic vulnerability,” and “Hunt’s appeal for international support for Britain has so far fallen on deaf ears.”

The British pirates and their dominions in Gibraltar, who had been duped by an American pirate, had to give up. On August 15 the British released the Grace 1 despite all efforts by Bolton and his gang to continue the detention of the tanker. Officials in Gibraltar issued a statement saying that that the US Department of Justice had “applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations,” but a judge in Gibraltar’s Supreme Court later ruled he had not received an “application” for the US seizure (USA Today). Moreover, all legal actions against the tanker’s crew and captain were dropped. The New York Times also reported that Fabian Picardo had issued a statement saying that he had “received written assurance” from Iran that “if released, the destination of Grace 1 would not be an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions” and in “light of the assurances we have received, there are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1.” When asked where the ship was headed, Picardo answered: “That is not an issue for the authorities in Gibraltar.” According to the report, an oil trader in Iran had said the tanker would sail to Greece and then to Italy.

As the Grace 1 prepared to leave Gibraltar, it changed its name and flag. It was now called Adrian Darya 1 and the flag of Panama was replaced with the Iranian flag (Darya means Sea in Persian). The reason for these changes was that Panama did not want the tanker to sail under its flag anymore. The Adrian Darya 1 then drifted into the Mediterranean Sea with no clear destination (Press TV, August 18). US pirates were on its tail and threatened every country that the tanker tried to get close to.

The first country that the tanker approached was Greece. But the US stated that it had conveyed its “strong position” to the Greek government not to let the tanker dock (Reuters, August 20). According to a US State Department official, “any efforts to assist the tanker could be construed as providing material support to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, which has immigration and potential criminal consequences.” This position had “been communicated not only to Greece but other states and ports in the Mediterranean,” the official stated. Given the US threats, Greece’s government said that there had been no formal announcement that the Adrian Darya 1 will arrive at the Greek port Kalamata. The next day, Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister stated that we have “sent a clear message that we would not want to facilitate the trafficking of this oil to Syria in any instance,” and that Greece did not even have a port capable of handling such a large oil tanker (CNBC, August 21).

The Adrian Darya 1 then headed for Cyprus. But a Cypriot diplomat stated that “Cyprus wouldn’t allow the Iranian tanker to enter its territory were the vessel to make such a request” (Bloomberg, August 22). The tanker then listed its destination as the port of Mersin in southern Turkey, estimating its arrival to be August 31 (Deutsche Welle, August 24). But given the “paralyzing sanctions” of the Obama Administration, followed by the “maximum pressure” of Trump’s gang, Turkey had stopped buying Iranian oil in May 2019 and would not want to have anything to do with the Iranian oil tanker, especially since it already had a tense relation with the US. On August 25, Bloomberg reported that the tanker had changed “signal sent from the ship’s satellite transponder to ‘For Order,’ a designation meaning the vessel isn’t disclosing any destination.”

On August 26 a sensational news appeared: “Iran sells oil tanker pursued by US” (The Independent). According to the news, in a press conference, an Iranian government spokesperson stated that the tanker had been sold by Iran and the new buyer would decide its ultimate destination. Iran declined to name the buyer and discuss the terms for the sale.

Even though Iran tried to wash its hands of the tanker, US pirates continued their chase. It was now completely unclear where the Adrian Darya 1 might go next and what would happen to it. “Confusion over Iranian tanker’s destination after weeks of ordeal,” was the title of an Aljazeera news item on August 30. After the rumors that the tanker is still heading for another port in Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister stated: “This tanker is not heading actually to Iskenderun [in Turkey], this tanker is heading to Lebanon.” But Lebanon had already dismissed the scenario, “stressing that it never buys crude oil because it simply does not have refineries.”

On August 30, Press TV reported that the US has blacklisted the Adrian Darya 1 and sanctioned its captain. Indeed, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a statement saying that it is taking action against the Adrian Darya 1 which is “benefiting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).” Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, stated: “Vessels like the Adrian Darya 1 enable the IRGC-QF to ship and transfer large volumes of oil, which they attempt to mask and sell illicitly to fund the regime’s malign activities and propagate terrorism.” (It should be noted that Sigal Pearl Mandelker’s place of birth and citizenship, whether Israel or the US, has been subject of much controversy. But setting that issue aside, like the previous heads of the OFAC, she has shown quite a bit of hostility toward Iran in Israeli affiliated circles, such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and has been instrumental in passing one set of sanctions or another on Iran.)

With the bandits on its tail and having no place to go, the Adrian Darya 1 headed for Syria, precisely the place that the US had tried to prevent it from going in the first place. On August 31 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted “FM @JZarif guaranteed to the UK that the IRGC oil tanker #Grace1 / #AdrianDarya1 would not head to Syria. We have reliable information that the tanker is underway and headed to Tartus, Syria. I hope it changes course. It was a big mistake to trust Zarif” (The Times of Israel ).

On September 3 AP reported that the tanker “blacklisted and pursued by the U.S. turned off its tracking beacon off the coast of Syria,” leading to speculation that its oil will end up there. It was further speculated that there will a ship-to-ship transfer of its oil.

One day later, stunning news appeared: A report by The Financial Times revealed that four days before the US sanctioned the Adrian Darya 1, Akhilesh Kumar, the tanker’s Indian captain, received an email from Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran at the Department of State. Hook wrote to Kumar on August 26: “This is Brian Hook. I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran. I am writing with good news.” The good news was that that the Trump Administration would give Kumar “several million dollars” to take the tanker to “a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US.” To assure Kumar that the email was genuine, Hook included an official state department phone number. In a second email Hook wrote to Kumar: “With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age. . . If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.” In the intervening two days, the report went on, the Adrian Darya 1 made “doughnut” shape maneuvers, suggesting that Kumar might have been trying to decide how to react. But ultimately, the captain failed to respond, and Brain Hook emailed him to say that the US Treasury had imposed sanctions on him. According to the report, “in an effort to scare mariners” into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price, in recent months Hook had emailed or texted roughly a dozen captains. (Let me emphasize that the author of the above email(s) is not Don Vito Corleone or even Capitan Hook. It is Brain Hook, the US special representative for Iran at the Department of State. Capitan Hook is quite clever, he offers “a few million dollars” for a ship that is at least worth $130 million! Perhaps that is why Kumar did not respond to his offer!)

With Hook’s bribery and threat email(s) out in the open, and the Adrian Darya 1 close to the Syrian coast, the saga of the Iranian tanker was almost over. On September 5, it was reported that Iran would soon release some of the crew members of UK flagged tanker (The Independent). On the same day US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that he “currently had no plan on his desk to seize the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1” (Reuters ). On September 6, the Guardian reported that the tanker is photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus.

On September 8 Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi reported that the “Adrian Darya 1 oil tanker, despite acts of sabotage, finally docked on the Mediterranean coast and unloaded its cargo and its owner will make a decision for its future” (Press TV). The British Foreign Office issued an angry statement on September 10 saying it was “now clear that Iran has breached” its “assurances and that the oil has been transferred to Syria and Assad’s murderous regime” (Sky News). On the same day John Bolton was fired by Trump!

The saga of the Iranian tanker would make a great movie about modern day piracy. It could cast many great stars; Bolton, a pirate with a huge mustache fighting his boss while trying to steal an Iranian ship; Hunt, a bumbling pirate who is losing his job along with his boss Teresa May in tears; Pompeo, a large, big belly, jolly pirate, engaged in a Twitter war with Zarif; Capitan Hook, a man with a pirate smile issuing threats and dangling money in front of Indian captains; Sigal Pearl Mandelker, a venomous female pirate out to get Iran on behest of Bibi Netanyahu and Mark Dubowitz, the head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, etc.

So, listen Hollywood! Instead of making another insipid movie about Pirates of the Caribbean, make a movie about Pirates of Gibraltar. It would be a lot more interesting and it would have a happy ending, not because the good guys win, but because the baddest of all bad dudes lose!

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno, and is the author of Containing Iran: Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy.” He can be reached at: sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment