Aletho News


Gitmo Destroyed Our Constitutional Order

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | April 23, 2019

Sunday’s Washington Post carried an article about the suicide of former Peruvian President Alan García, who Peruvian officials had charged with official corruption while he was in office. The article posited the possibility that García committed suicide because under Peru’s judicial system, he would have faced up to three years in pretrial detention without actually being indicted, which the Post said was “a term unthinkable in many democracies, even for suspects facing overwhelming evidence of the most heinous crimes.”

What the Post did not point out is that indefinite detention without a trial is not unthinkable in the United States. Instead, thanks to the Pentagon and the CIA, indefinite detention has now become a core feature of America’s criminal-justice system. As the Post implies, it is also a hallmark of tyranny.

Among the potential acts of tyranny with which our American ancestors were most concerned was the power of the federal government to keep people in jail indefinitely without a trial. That was why the Constitution, which called into existence a government of limited powers, did not delegate such a power to federal officials. It’s also why the American people enacted the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, which expressly guaranty the rights of trial by jury, a speedy and public trial, bail, and protection from cruel and unusual punishments.

The Pentagon and the CIA destroyed those rights with the establishment of their prison, torture program, and “judicial” center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, there are people at Gitmo who have been languishing for more than a decade, denied the benefits of trial by jury, a speedy and public trial, and bail.

This shouldn’t surprise us. In the long sordid history of the U.S. national-security establishment and its infamous regime-change operations in foreign countries, it has always stood for installing dictatorships into power, preferably military ones. By their very nature, military establishments almost always lean conservative, viewing procedural protections as nothing more than “technicalities” that permit guilty people to go free. Thus, the last thing that military regimes are going to do is honor and respect the principles enunciated in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

An example was the U.S.-inspired coup in Chile in 1973, where the regime of military Gen. Augusto Pinochet had his national-security state forces round up some 50,000 people, incarcerate them, rape them, torture them, and murder or disappear around 3,000 of them. No trial by jury. No bail. Fearful of the power of the Chilean national security establishment, the Chilean federal courts went silent, as did the Chilean legislature.

The same thing happened in the CIA’s coup in Guatemala some 20 years before that. The CIA succeeded in ousting the democratically elected president of the country, Jacobo Arbenz, and installed a brutal military general in his stead, who proceeded to round up, torture, and kill people without a trial.

We saw it with Iran, when a CIA coup in 1953 ousted the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and restored the brutal tyranny of the Shah. While the Shah wasn’t a military general, his U.S.-supported rule was every bit as tyrannical as that of any military general. Indefinite detention and torture, without the benefit of a trial, were hallmarks of his brutal rule, which came to an end in 1979 when the Iranian people revolted against it.

We see it today in the military dictatorship in Egypt. Indefinite detention and torture, without trial. All fully supported by the Pentagon, the CIA, and most of the rest of the federal government.

Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that the Pentagon and the CIA established this same type of system in Cuba, where the ruling leftist communist regime, ironically enough, engages in indefinite detention and torture without trial as well. In fact, don’t forget that that is why our ancestors demanded that the Bill of Rights be enacted — they were certain that federal officials would do the tyrannical acts proscribed by the Amendments. What the Pentagon and the CIA have done in Cuba is a confirmation of the concerns that motivated Americans to enact the Bill of Rights.

One irony in all this, of course, is that U.S. military officials and CIA officials take an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. But it’s obvious that the oath is nothing more than a lie. After all, the reason that the Pentagon and the CIA established their prison and torture center in Cuba was precisely to avoid the provisions of the Constitution. Their very aim was to establish a Constitution-free zone, one in which they could keep people jailed forever and torture them to their heart’s content and never have to bring them to trial.

It’s a sad and pathetic legacy of the decision after World War II to convert the U.S. government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, a type of governmental structure that is inherent to totalitarian regimes, one in which government officials wield tyrannical powers. That’s why it’s not enough to close the Pentagon’s and CIA’s imperialist prison and torture center in Cuba. To restore freedom and justice to our land, it’s also necessary to restore a limited-government republic to ensure that this type of dark tyranny never afflicts our nation again.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 4 Comments

What Will It Take To End Anti-Greenhouse Gas Insanity?

By Francis Menton | Manhattan Contrarian | April 15, 2019

It was nearly six years ago, in one of the very early posts on this blog, that I wrote as to the global warming scam, “[E]ven as the cause becomes more and more ridiculous, the advocates just double down again and again.” At the time, world temperatures had failed to rise in accordance with alarmist predictions for about 15 years running, and I still had the naive idea that the politics of this issue ultimately would follow the scientific method; in other words, that the hypothesis of catastrophic human-caused warming would inevitably be forced to face the test of empirical evidence. Over time, empirical evidence would accumulate. As it became more and more clear that the evidence failed to support the hypothesis, the whole thing would gradually fade away. But up to that point, as I reported in that April 2013 post, what was happening was closer to the opposite. Extremely weak or completely negative empirical evidence for the hypothesis only made the advocates more and more extreme in their demands for immediate transformation of the world economy to “save the planet.”

The intervening six years have seen the ongoing accumulation of considerably more evidence, essentially all of it negative to the catastrophic global warming hypothesis, but my faith that actual evidence could resolve the issue has been almost completely shattered. Massive alterations have been made to the world thermometer temperature records by US and UK bureaucrats — almost entirely to reduce early-year temperatures and thereby create an apparent warming trend far greater than exists in the raw data. I have covered this issue extensively in a now-twenty-two part series “The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time.” Meanwhile, every hurricane, tornado, drought, flood, or other damaging act of nature is presented by the progressive press as evidence of human-caused “climate change” — even as the actual occurrences of such events have been definitively shown to have no increasing trend over time. Actual evidence gets massively altered, buried and/or ignored.

And now here we are in 2019, and the demands of the anti-greenhouse gas activists have only become more shrill and strident. Exhibit A is the so-called Green New Deal, a call to end most or all GHG emissions by 2030 at a cost of maybe 100 trillion dollars or so. And we are treated to claims by seemingly serious elected officials that the world will end in 12 years if we do not follow these prescriptions. If mere adverse empirical evidence cannot end this insanity, what can?

Here’s what I think will put this to an end: the actual implementation by some jurisdictions of the activists’ preferred policies, all of which would impose massive costs on the people with no measurable impacts on world temperatures or the climate. The problem with expecting the scientific method to resolve this issue is that very few people have the time or inclination to follow empirical evidence of world temperatures to see if they are rising in accordance with predictions. Even fewer people are willing to get into the nitty gritty to evaluate alterations to the temperature data to see if they are legitimate. But almost everybody will notice immediately when their electricity bill gets tripled.

The process of imposing massive costs on the voting public in the name of saving the planet has been proceeding slowly in many places, and only very recently has this process started to face the beginnings of political blowback. For example, in Germany, the so-called Energiewende began in 2010, and over the ensuing near-decade has gradually brought consumer electricity prices in that country to about triple the US average, with minimal reductions in actual greenhouse gas emissions. Seven plus years into this, in the late-2017 elections, two climate skeptic parties (Free Democrats and Alliance for Germany) went from almost nothing to winning some 24.6% of the seats in the Bundestag. South Australia is an even more complex political situation, but they have also seen fanatic imposition of a “green” energy agenda, with vast increases in “renewable” electricity generation, the closing of coal plants, leading to several massive blackouts, and electricity prices also rising to about triple the US average. This has definitely become a major political issue. And just yesterday in Finland, a climate skeptic party called the Finns Party got 17.5% of the votes and 39 seats in parliamentary elections where the biggest establishment party (Social Democrats) got only 17.7% and 40 seats. Many sources report that the election was dominated by the Finns Party’s rallying cry of “climate hysteria.”

Here in my home city of New York, so far it has been all talk and not much action on the front of “fighting climate change” by forcibly suppressing greenhouse gas emissions. But that may all be about to change. A new omnibus package of “climate” bills has just been introduced in the City Council, seeking to go all in on every ridiculously expensive and completely ineffective policy you can think of, supposedly to “save the planet.” The Huffington Post has a big write-up here. Allegedly this monstrosity is going to come up for a vote as early as a week from today, April 22, aka “Earth Day.”

From the lead sponsor:

“This is about saving New York City,” Councilman Costa Constantinides, the Queens Democrat leading the effort. . . . “This is saving the city as we know it.”

This guy actually has the idea that he can stop bad weather or sea level rise or something by ordering the people of New York City (about 0.1% of the world’s population) to change their energy sources or use less energy or otherwise stop their sinning. How about some specifics?

The heart of the legislation is a measure requiring buildings of over 25,000 square feet ― the biggest source of carbon pollution in the city ― to install new windows, insulation and other retrofits to become more energy efficient. Starting in 2024, the legislation orders landlords to slash emissions 40% by 2030, and double the cuts by 2050.

Well, I have some experience as a building owner, and I can tell you that you can replace all the windows and insulate to your heart’s content, and you are not going to reduce your building’s energy usage by anything close to 40%, let alone 80%. In addition to which, most large buildings have long since made these upgrades. But hey, these are evil landlords, so we can just order them to do it, and it will happen.

And how about some other things we can order evil companies to do:

The full Climate Mobilization Act package goes further. One bill orders the city to complete a study over the next two years on the feasibility of closing all 24 oil- and gas-burning power plants in city limits and replacing them with renewables and batteries.  Another establishes a renewable energy loan program. Two more require certain buildings to cover roofs with plants, solar panels, small wind turbines or a mix of the three.  The last in this initial bunch tweaks the city’s building code to make it easier to build wind turbines.

These are some things with the real possibility of increasing our costs of electricity by big multiples. You might think I would strenuously oppose the bills, given that I am a designated guinea pig and victim for an experiment that can’t possibly end in anything other than abject failure. But you would be wrong. I say, let them try this nonsense, and the sooner and faster the better. That’s the only way that the inattentive multitudes will finally wake up. And, when electricity bills or gasoline prices or rents multiply by factors of three, or maybe five, then wake up they will. The insane politics of New York City might seem completely impervious to change, but that’s because the limits have not yet been tested. Going down this road could finally lead to a 180 degree reversal. I say, go for it!

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 4 Comments

Death Squads: The French-Algerian School

English Version of “Les escadrons de la mort: L’école franco-algérienne,” a 2003 documentary by Marie-Monique Robin about how Latin American death squads were trained by the generals in charge of the “The Battle of Algiers,” and how the film by that name was used unironically as a training film. Also how these generals and Trinquier’s book created the foundation of the School of the Americas curriculum and the Phoenix program in Vietnam.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Fictions in Economics

By Dean Baker | CEPR | April 18, 2019

Economists pride themselves on being the serious social science, the one most deserving of status as an actual science. I will let others make the comparative assessment, but there is an awful lot of nonsense that passes as serious analysis within economics. For cheap fun, I thought I would use a nice spring afternoon to highlight some of my favorites.

Myth 1: The Robots Are Taking All the Jobs

The “robots taking the jobs” story gets top place both because it is completely ridiculous and it is widely taken seriously in policy discussions. The story is ridiculous because it is directly contradicted by the data. Robots taking all the jobs is a story of rapid productivity growth. It means that we can produce the same output with fewer workers because the robots are doing work that used to be done by people. That is the definition of productivity growth.

But the productivity data refuse to cooperate with this story. This is not hard to discover. The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases data on productivity every quarter. The data show that productivity growth has been very weak in recent years, averaging just 1.3 percent annually since 2005. This compares to a rate of productivity growth of 3.0 percent in both the period from 1995 to 2005 and the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973.

The job-killing robots story is sometimes diverted into a scenario that is just around the corner instead of being here today. Of course, we can’t definitely rule out that at some point in the future productivity will  accelerate sharply, but it is worth noting that this pickup does not seem to be on the immediate horizon. Investment is not especially high as a share of GDP, averaging 13.4 percent over the last three years. That compares to 14.2 percent from 1999 to 2001, and 14.4 percent from 1980 to 1982, its post-war peak.

Investment is not even especially high in the more narrow categories of computers and information technologies, where we would expect the robots to live. This means that if businesses are about to start a mass displacement of workers with robots, they don’t seem to be spending too much money on the process.

Perhaps the most important point here is that there is no reason to assume that a pickup in productivity growth would be associated with mass unemployment and a collapse of wage income. The 1947 to 1973 Golden Age was a period of rapid wage growth, as were the years from 1995 to 2001, when the stock bubble collapsed and the economy fell into recession.

Bad economic policy can prevent workers from sharing in the benefits of productivity growth (e.g. Peter Peterson-types demanding deficit reduction, thereby reducing output and employment), but it would be crazy to blame robots because Wall Street billionaires are slowing growth and pushing the economy toward recession.

Myth 2: We Are Threatened by a Declining Population

Our policy elite can be very flexible in their thinking. At the same time that many are worried that the robots are taking all the jobs, we also have the opposite threat frequently arising in public debates, that we are running out of workers. The basic story is that the baby boomers are retiring. The generation that followed is smaller. Furthermore, fertility rates among young people are falling to record lows. So, we now face the horrible problem that we are running out of workers just as the rise of robots means we are running out of jobs.

The running out of workers story also involves incredibly sloppy thinking. Yes, a decline in the workforce means that we will have fewer workers to support each retiree. But we have been seeing declining ratios of workers to retirees for the last eight decades. This stems from the problem that people are living longer.

The declining ratio of workers to retirees has not prevented both workers and retirees from seeing rises in living standards for the simple reason that the impact of productivity growth in raising living standards swamps the impact of demographics in lowering living standards. (It’s also worth noting that children have to be supported by workers as well, so the ratio of dependents to workers is actually considerably lower today than at its peak in 1965.)

The declining population story is sometimes turned into a fear of slower growth story. Other things equal, slower workforce growth will mean slower GDP growth. This should bring the obvious response, “who cares?” We should care about rising living standards, in which per capita growth is a factor. There is no obvious benefit in having more rapid growth due to a larger population. In fact, insofar as there are negative externalities not picked up in GDP (e.g. congestion and pollution), we should be happier if the population is growing less rapidly or shrinking.

There is a serious issue here that because of poor family supports, such as the availability of quality daycare and inadequate family leave policy, many people feel they cannot afford to have children. That is a genuine problem, but this is because people should be able to have children, not because society needs their kids.

Myth 3: Technology Is Shifting Income Upwards to the More Skilled

The slightly coherent version of the robots taking our jobs story is that technology is causing an upward redistribution of income to those who have the sophisticated skills needed to master the technology. This is the old “skills-biased technical change” argument that my friends Larry Mishel and Jared Bernstein did a great job decimating two decades ago.

Not only does the data not support the story of an increasingly rapid shift in labor demand to more skilled labor, the logic of the argument skips a key factor. The price commanded by new technologies, and therefore the demand for associated labor, is determined by policy, not the technology.

To be specific, the amount of money that goes to people developing software, artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals, robots and other areas thought of as being at the technological frontier depends on the length and strength of patent and copyright protection. Shorter and weaker protections (or no protections) would send the price of these items plummeting. It would also mean much less demand for labor in these areas and much lower pay for the highly skilled workers in related occupations.

Arguably we benefit from having stronger and longer patent and copyright protection (I don’t think so), but the fact that these are government policies is not arguable. Insofar as there actually is a shift in income to people with skills in technology-related fields this is a result of policy choices, not the technology itself.

Myth 4: The Government Debt Will Impoverish Our Kids

An evergreen whine from the policy elite is that the government debt is going bankrupt our kids because they will be stuck paying it off. This one is so off the mark that it is difficult to know where to begin.

First of all, the debt involves payments within a generation, not between generations. At some point all of us profligate types will all be dead, so we will not be around to collect the interest on the debt. The rich ones among us will own government bonds, which they will presumably pass on to their kids. So the debt is then not an issue where our children and grandchildren will be paying us interest, but rather they will be paying interest to the children and grandchildren of Bill Gates and his friends.

That might not be a great story for those who are not children of the rich, but it can be fixed with that old-fashioned remedy of taxing the rich. In any case, the question is one of intra-generational distribution, not inter-generational distribution. It’s also worth noting that even with our relatively high debt-to-GDP ratio, the interest burden of the debt is less than 1.0 percent of GDP. That compares to the more than 3.0 percent of GDP that us baby boomer types had to pay in the 1990s when we were young.

The more serious version of the debt impoverishing our kids is that government deficits are pushing up interest rates, which in turn crowds out investment and slows growth. With nominal and real interest rates at extraordinarily low levels over the last decade, it is hard to tell this one with a straight face.

It is also worth noting that we have lost far more productive capacity (potential GDP) due to the austerity demanded by deficit hawks than we ever could have plausibly lost due to the crowding out story. In other words, the policies demanded by the “government debt will impoverish our kids” gang will cause our kids to have much lower real incomes. (The story is even worse when we consider that demands for austerity prevented measures to slow global warming.)

The other aspect missing from the debt story is that government debt is only one way that the government creates commitments for the future. When it grants patent and copyright monopolies it is also directing flows of income, often for decades in the future.

These monopolies are alternative mechanisms for paying for activities. Rather than directly paying for innovation and creative work with public funds, the government threatens to arrest people who violate the monopolies it grants, thereby allowing the monopoly holders to charge prices far above the free market price.

This gap is often quite large. By my calculations, government-granted monopolies cost us close to $370 billion (1.8 percent of GDP) a year in the case of prescription drugs alone and possibly as much as $1 trillion (5.0 percent of GDP) in total. Incredibly, the “government debt will impoverish our kids” gang never talks about the burdens created by patent and copyright monopolies.

Myth 5: Economy Threatening Bubbles Are Difficult to Detect

We saw the tenth anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy last fall and with it a whole round of papers and conferences dedicated to the problems of the financial crisis. There was virtually no discussion of the housing bubble, the collapse of which was the real cause of the Great Recession.

There is a huge sense in which the focus on financial crises is self-serving for the economics profession. Financial instability can be difficult to anticipate. After all, many financial assets are complex, with new assets constantly being created. In many cases, there is limited data that is publicly available. Who knew that AIG had issued $600 billion worth of credit default swaps against mortgage-backed securities? This gives economists an excuse for missing the Great Recession.

By contrast, the housing bubble, whose crash sank the economy, was easy to see for anyone who pays attention to economic data. We get monthly data from the Commerce Department on residential construction. We also have the quarterly GDP data in which residential construction is a major component. It required some determined ignorance for macroeconomists not to notice the huge jump in this category, which peaked at 6.7 percent of GDP in 2005. That compares to a normal level in the neighborhood of 4.0 percent of GDP.

The unprecedented run-up in house prices was also easy to see with publicly available data. After largely tracking the overall inflation rate in the post-war era, real house prices rose 70 percent from 1996 to 2006. The fact that this increase was associated with virtually no rise in real rents might have seemed peculiar to people who know economics. Also, the fact that the vacancy rate was high and rising might also have suggested that this rise in house prices was not being driven by the fundamentals of the markets.

And, economists also should have known that a collapse of the housing bubble would lead to an end to the consumption driven by the ephemeral wealth created by the bubble. Some guy named Alan Greenspan wrote several papers on this consumption driven by housing wealth.

But rather than own up to having missed the obvious, the economics profession has decided that the problem was a mysterious financial crisis that caught everyone by surprise. Who knows where the next one may lurk?

As a policy matter, this actually has the positive effect of generating more political support for limiting abuses in the financial industry, since we are supposed to be worried that somehow bad practices will, by themselves, lead to another financial crisis and Great Recession. This is good, because finance is an intermediate good, like trucking.

We want the financial sector to be as small and simple as possible, there is no more reason to want a large financial sector than there is to want a trucking industry where goods are shipped back and forth for no reason. The financial industry has been both a major source of waste and inequality over the last four decades.

It would be best if we could rein in the financial sector based on an honest discussion of its role in the economy, but in American politics, no one expects honest discussions. So, we’ll settle for some positive spillover from economists’ efforts to cover their asses.

Myth 6: CEOs Manipulate Share Prices with Buybacks to Maximize Shareholder Value

One of the bizarre stories that passes for wisdom is that CEOs have gotten in the habit of committing large amounts of money to share buybacks in order to maximize shareholder value. Just about every part of this story is hard to square with reality.

First, if the goal is maximizing shareholder value, they are not doing a very good job. Stock returns have been extraordinarily low over the last two decades, averaging less than 5.0 percent annually, after adjusting for inflation, compared to a long-term average of 7.0 percent. It does seem at least a bit odd that when management is supposed to be exceptionally focused on providing returns to shareholders that they are doing such a poor job of it.

Another aspect of this story is that the reason that companies are not investing more is supposed to be that they are paying out so much money to shareholders. Looking at the data, what seems most striking is that there is not much fluctuation, apart from cyclical ups and downs in the share of GDP going to investment.

If investment is determined primarily by investment opportunities, and these tend not to change much, at least for the economy as a whole, then in a period of high profits like the present one, lots of money will be paid out to shareholders, since companies have nothing else to do with it. There is good reason to be unhappy with the rise of corporate profits at the expense of wages, but if companies don’t have good investment opportunities, it’s not obviously bad that they pay the money out to shareholders.

Finally, the focus on buybacks as being especially pernicious seems odd. Is there a reason anyone would be happier if the money was paid out as dividends instead? The switchover to buybacks instead of dividends as the main route for giving money to shareholders, dates from an early 1980s court ruling that approved the practice.

I have heard the complaint that buybacks are worse because top management can manipulate the timing in order to maximize the value of their stock options or planned sales. While that may true, they can also manipulate dividend announcements or statements on earnings.

More importantly, if we think management is manipulating the timing of buybacks, then the victims of the manipulation are shareholders who aren’t in on the joke. That is entirely possible, but then we are not telling a story of maximizing shareholder value. We are telling a story where CEOs and other top management are enriching themselves at the expense of shareholders.

That sets up a dynamic in which shareholders should be allies in cracking down on excessive CEO pay, but I’ll leave that one for another day.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment

On Jews Being United

By Gilad Atzmon | April 18, 2019

In his Times of Israel article “What All Anti-Semites Have In Common,” Andres Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, tells us everything we shouldn’t know about the current state of the Jew/Goy divide.

“Today,” Spokoiny complains, “many Jews are willing to overlook and even excuse anti-Semitism when the bigots hate a certain type of Jews.” In the good old days, anti-Semitism was a uniting force. “Anti-Semitism used to be the big Jewish unifier. Jews were always fractious and quarrelsome, but when it came to anti-Semitism, everybody agreed. Anti-Semites hated us without distinction, so in the face of a common threat, we would recognize the danger and unite.” Spokoiny is nostalgic, he wants to see the Jews reunited into a fist of resistance against anti-Semitism.

In the eyes of Spokoiny, the three types of contemporary anti-Semitism, be it Left, Right or Islamic (“which is not only fascistic but outright genocidal,” according to Spokoiny) are in fact one by nature: “there’s just one type of anti-Semitism that simply dresses its ugly persona in different ideological garments.” So it isn’t just the Jews that should be reunited; the Goyim, or shall we say the rest humanity, aren’t diverse either, their oppositions to Jewish politics, Israel or Zionism are only a matter of “different ideological garments.”

In Spokoiny’s universe, the Jews are hated for being Jews. It is not that some oppose Israel for being racist, expansionist and genocidal. It is not because some may be upset that the Israeli Lobby dominates Western foreign affairs in the open. It is not because American and British boys and girls are sent to fight and die in Zio-con wars, it is not because some have noticed that it was a bunch of prominent Jewish intellectuals who have managed to reshape the Western ethos by means of so-called progressive ideologies. It is not because the media seems to be biased in favour of a criminal state, which happens to be a Jewish one. In Spokoiny, reasoning and self-reflection are pushed aside. In his universe some just hate Jews blindly, irrationally and for no reason.

But Spokoiny may as well be right. There is a common element in the Left-wing, Right-wing, Christian and Islamic opposition to Jewish politics, culture and ideology: opposition to choseness is how Bernard Lazare described it in his 1894 Zionist text Antisemitism: Its History and Causes. There is a shared common ground that unites all those so-called ‘anti-Semites.’ The alleged ‘enemies of the Jews’ are people who want the Jewish past to be subject to scrutiny like all other historical chapters, Israeli barbarism to be curtailed, Wall Street to be restricted, Palestine to be free. They want globalisation to be halted, immoral interventionism to die out. The so-called ‘anti-Semites’ actually follow the Zionist promise, they want Jews to finally assimilate and become ‘people like all other people.’ The so-called ‘enemies of the Jews’ are upholding the most enlightened rational universalist ethical positions. They treat Jews as ordinary people and expect their state and institutions to subscribe to ethical standards.

Spokoiny hates Alain Soral, the French intellectual who was sentenced this week to one year in prison by a French court for “negationisme” (history revisionism).

In the eyes of French Jewish institutes and Spokoiny, Soral is the ultimate enemy. He has managed to present a unifying message that appeals to the Left, the Right and Muslim immigrants. Soral calls for a universal reconciliation, between them all under a French nationalist egalitarian ethos. The French Jewish institutions see Soral’s call as a vile anti-Semitic message as it doesn’t seem to accommodate Jewish exceptionalism. However, some Jews have joined Soral’s movement. But they clearly demoted themselves to French patriots. They left chosenism behind, they see themselves primarily as French.

“We in the Jewish community need to believe him (Soral).” Spokoiny writes, “We need to stop participating in the divide-and-conquer game of those who hate us.” In other words, Spokoiny wants to see Jews as one monolithic identity. One that sticks together and exercises its power. If Spokoiny or anyone else thinks that such politics may eradicate anti-Semitism, he or she must be either naïve or just stupid. What Jews need to do is to self-reflect, to ask themselves why anti-Semitism is rising again. Jews must identify their own role in this emerging reality. Rather than constantly blaming their so called ‘haters,’ Jews may want to repeat the early Zionist exercise and ask what is exactly in Jewish culture, identity and politics that makes Jewish history into a chain of disasters.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 6 Comments

Facebook bans British anti-immigrant groups including EDL, BNP and Britain First

RT | April 18, 2019

Facebook has banned 12 high-profile, anti-immigrant British organizations and individuals including the English Defence League, the British National Party, Britain First and Jayda Fransen.

The silicon valley company said it took the decision because it bans users who “proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence.”

“Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” it said in a statement.

The following organizations and people are now prohibited from the site: The British National Party and Nick Griffin, Britain First and Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, English Defence League and Paul Ray, Knights Templar International and Jim Dowson, National Front and Tony Martin, and Jack Renshaw.

They were all outlawed under Facebook’s ‘Dangerous Individuals & Organisations policy’. They will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram and posts and other content which expresses praise or support for them will also be banned.

“Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our Community Standards,” the statement added.

The Knights Templar International said it was “horrified” by the ban, and that it was investigating legal options. “Facebook has deemed our Christian organisation as dangerous and de-platformed us despite never being charged, let alone found guilty of any crime whatsoever,” it said in a statement. “This is a development that would have made the Soviets blush.”

In February the social media giant banned EDL founder Tommy Robinson from its platforms saying the prominent anti-immigration activist repeatedly breached its policies on Hate speech.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Academic: Saudi arrest campaign against Palestinians

MEMO | April 18, 2019

Saudi is carrying out an arrest campaign against Palestinians in the country, an exiled academic has said according to Al-Resalah newspaper.

On Twitter, Said Bin Nasser Al-Ghamdi wrote: “In the kingdom, a new and wide arrest campaign against a number of Palestinians, another number under travel ban, their accounts were frozen and their organisations were confiscated.”

Al-Ghamdi said that these Palestinians are accused of “sympathising with the resistance in Palestine, having an interest in the issue of Jerusalem and Gaza or supporting Hamas.”

He also said that authorities arrested Saudis, who sponsored the Palestinians or employed them in the kingdom.

In early March, Saudi announced the arrest of 50 people over security concerns, they included 30 of its own nationals, six Palestinians and three Jordanians.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

CIA Docs Shows UK, France and West Germany Wanted to Bring “Operation Condor” To Europe

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | April 17, 2019

SANTIAGO, CHILE — A recently declassified CIA document has revealed that members of the intelligence agencies of France, the United Kingdom and West Germany discussed how to establish “an anti-subversive organization similar to [the CIA’s Operation] Condor” in their own countries. Described by the CIA as “a cooperative effort by the intelligence/security services of several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion,” Operation Condor was a campaign of state terrorism originally planned by the CIA that targeted leftists, suspected leftists and their “sympathizers” and resulted in the forced disappearances, torture and brutal murders of an estimated 60,000 people, as well as the political imprisonment of around half a million people. Around half of the estimated murders occurred in Argentina.

The document, released last Friday as part of a release of newly declassified U.S. government documents related to the U.S.-backed military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, states that:

Representatives of West German, French and British intelligence services had visited the Condor organization secretariat in Buenos Aires during the month of September 1977 in order to discuss methods for establishment of an anti-subversion organization similar to Condor” due to their view that “the terrorist/subversive threat had reached such dangerous levels in Europe.”

The representatives from the three countries then stated that they felt that pooling “their intelligence resources in a cooperative organization such as Condor” would be an important way of combating the “subversive threat.” Notably, England at the time was already involved in an international “intelligence sharing” program known as ECHELON, a program between the “Five Eyes” intelligence pact between the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand that continues in a different form today.

The document, which was written in 1978, came two years after Operation Condor targeted left-wing Latin American exiles living in Europe. Several other documents in the recent release discuss a decision made by Condor member countries in May 1976 to train and send a military unit to “conduct physical attacks” against left-wing Latin American exiles and their supporters in France, in what was codenamed “Teseo.” Several Condor countries, aside from Brazil and Bolivia, were eager to participate and the training of the “Teseo” unit did occur, though the CIA was apparently unaware whether the unit was actually sent to France.

Operation Condor: Made in the West

European interest in bringing home a state-sponsored terror campaign may seem shocking, given Europe’s publicly stated concerns at the time regarding Condor member countries’ mind-boggling human rights abuses and state-sponsored murders. But it will hardly surprise those who have studied Operation Condor, as the operation itself was a Western invention that was imposed on Latin America through a series of military coups, which again were backed by Western governments.

Operation Condor officially began in 1975, though CIA documents in this recent release suggest that the inter-country intelligence-sharing aspect had likely begun a year earlier in 1974. The countries involved — Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia — were all backed and supported by the U.S., which was also incidentally the largest weapons dealer to these government over this same time frame. During the latter portion of Operation Condor, one of the recently declassified documents claims that Israel took over key roles played by the U.S. in Operation Condor, including the “training of local personnel and sales of certain types of advanced military equipment,” despite the many innocent Jews murdered by several of the Condor dictatorships.

Several of the Condor countries had seen their military dictatorships installed with U.S. government involvement, as was the case in Chile and Brazil, with the U.S. government suspected in other coups that preceded Operation Condor by only a few years, such as the 1971 coup in Bolivia and the 1973 coup in Uruguay. After the 1976 coup in Argentina — Argentina’s sixth and final coup of the 20th century — it too joined Operation Condor.

The U.S. provided planning, training, funding and arms for Operation Condor, and European nations also provided a significant number of weapons. France — one of the countries interested in creating a Condor-style program for Europe — was noted in one of the recently declassified documents for its “excellent prospects for sales of jet aircraft and air defense systems” to Condor dictatorships; while West Germany, another country interested in a European Condor, “should be able to market missiles, ground force equipment and submarines.”

U.S. and European intelligence agencies were well aware of what Condor dictatorships were doing with those weapons, as indicated by past and recent document releases that detail horrific descriptions of the torture and murder of those suspected of being left-wing and those suspected of sympathizing with the left, as well as those who opposed the neoliberal economic policies imposed by all of the U.S.-backed Condor dictatorships.

Some of the more infamous tactics used by Condor nations had also been inspired by past European and U.S. war crimes. This includes the “death flights,” where victims were drugged, bound and placed in plastic body bags, and/or had their stomachs cut open before being thrown out of a plane or helicopter over the ocean. This tactic was said to have been inspired by the actions of French armed forces during the Algerian war and, according to the 2003 documentary The Death Squads: The French School, French intelligence had taught these and other methods to Argentine military officials during the dictatorship.

Whitewashing away the full horror of Condor

Notably, much of the recent coverage of Operation Condor and the CIA releases has sought to whitewash the program’s horrific legacy, with The Guardian describing Operation Condor as “a secret programme in which the dictatorships of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador conspired to kidnap and assassinate members of leftwing guerrilla groups in each other’s territories.” This, of course, implies that those targeted were guerilla members and thus combatants.

However, many — and one could convincingly argue the majority — of those killed, tortured and imprisoned were not members of guerilla groups, as there are thousands of documented cases of college students, musicians, writers, journalists, priests and nuns, pregnant women, teachers, indigenous leaders, union members and others who were subject to the extreme prejudice of Operation Condor despite not being combatants in any capacity. The Guardian also dramatically downplayed the program’s death toll, claiming that “the conspiracy led to the deaths of at least 100 people in Argentina,” while the actual figure is around 30,000. The Guardian also failed to mention the intimate role of the U.S. and other Western nations in facilitating and arming the program.

Such poor reporting is offensive to those who lost their lives and to their families, many of which have never stopped looking for their lost loved ones. Many of those families, such as Argentina’s “Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo,” have spent the last several decades looking for the estimated 500 children and babies separated from their disappeared and murdered parents and given to dictatorship-supporting families.

In a clear testament to how the effects of Operation Condor are still felt today, one of those babies — now over 40 years old — was identified on April 9 and is set to be reunited with her father, who survived the dictatorship and has spent the last several decades looking for his lost daughter. The mother was kidnapped while pregnant, allowed to give birth to the baby and killed immediately afterwards.

The very idea that European countries wanted to bring such a horrific terror campaign to their continent to target “subversives” should serve as a cautionary tale to Europeans who trust their government’s professed interest in promoting democracy and human rights, all while exporting terror overseas.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel is holding 22 Palestinian journalists behind bars: NGO

Press TV – April 16, 2019

A non-profit organization representing journalists, writers and broadcasters says nearly two dozen Palestinian journalists are currently being held in harsh conditions in Israeli jails contrary to various treaties and international law.

The Journalists Support Committee (JSC), in a statement released on the eve of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day – which is marked on April 17 every year, highlighted that four journalists are being incarcerated under the so-called administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.

“The Israeli occupation arrests [Palestinian] journalists for their opinions and then hauls them before military courts using racist laws,” the statement read.

The JSC further noted that the practice violates international rights conventions guaranteeing freedom of the press.

The NGO then condemned Israel’s practice of arresting journalists or banning them from entering certain areas.

Palestinian journalists Ahmad Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja succumbed to Israeli-inflicted gunshot wounds last year, while covering anti-occupation protests along the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied land.

The Tel Aviv regime has thus been seeking a media blackout on the criminal acts of its soldiers, with Israeli cabinet ministers authorizing a contentious bill in mid-June 2018 that would criminalize the filming of certain military activities.

Under the proposed legislation, those found photographing, recording or filming Israeli troops “with the intention of undermining the spirit” of the army “shall be liable to five years imprisonment” and those “intending to harm” Israel’s security could be given 10 years in jail.

The bill, which has been widely censured as an attack on media freedom, needs several parliamentary votes to become law.

In recent months, Israeli troops have on numerous occasions been caught on camera brutally killing Palestinians, with the videos going viral online and sparking condemnations of the regime’s military.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel confiscates 51,000 dunams from Jordan Valley

Ma’an – April 16, 2019

TUBAS – The Israeli authorities confiscated 51,000 dunams and isolated five villages in the Jordan Valley area in the northern occupied West Bank, an official in charge of Jordan Valley’s Israeli settlements file at the Palestinian Authority (PA) reported.

Mutaz Bisharat told the Voice of Palestine radio station that the Israeli authorities confiscated 51,000 dunams, isolated 5 villages and seized control over water springs, agricultural machinery and solar cells.

Bisharat added that the Israeli policy is very clear in isolating villages of the Tubas district, pointing out that these areas were marked as closed military areas banning their owners from entering without an Israeli-issued permit.

He stressed that Israel aims to expel Palestinians from the area under its plan to seize the Jordan Valley area.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control.

International rights organizations consider the continuation of the Israeli campaign which targets Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, whether though confiscations, demolitions or evictions under the pretext of holding military exercises, as a violation of international humanitarian law.

Since the beginning of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Israel has confiscated hundreds of thousands of dunums by declaring it state land.

Israeli authorities in 1968 banned Palestinians from registering their lands and subsequently took advantage of previously low rates of land registration to confiscate areas currently or previously in use by locals but not registered as such.

The confiscated lands are then used to construct Jewish-only settlements on the land, while further confiscation often uses the pretext of the settlements’ security.

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Palestinian prisoners reach agreement to achieve demands, end hunger strike

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | April 16, 2019

Palestinian prisoners have reached an agreement with the Israeli prison administration to achieve their demands and suspend their hunger strike, the Battle of Dignity 2, on Monday, 15 April. The agreement came as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were engaged in their eighth day of a collective hunger strike.

According to the leadership of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, the agreement includes the installation of public telephones in the prison sections, which prisoners would be allowed to use three times a week for 15-minute calls, as well as stopping the installation of cell-phone jamming devices. In addition, the repressive measures and sanctions imposed in the past year upon the prisoners will also be lifted, while fines imposed on prisoners in recent struggles inside the prisons would be reduced. Hundreds more prisoners have been set to join the hunger strike in the coming days, especially 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said that the agreement also included provisions to transfer the women prisoners from Damon prison to another detention center; the prisoners have repeatedly cited harsh, difficult conditions unsuitable for human life in the Damon prison. In addition, sick prisoners would be returned to the previous section in the Ramleh prison clinic, an area that was considered better than their current location.

The National and Islamic Forces held a press conference in Gaza City to highlight the prisoners’ final statement. “The battle is not over; the hardest phase of this struggle is to implement what has been agreed upon,” the prisoners wrote, noting that previous agreements have been repeatedly broken by the Israeli prison administration.

They saluted the prisoners in section 4 of the Negev desert prison and section 1 in Ramon prison who were attacked by Israeli repressive forces, noting that “their great sacrifices underline that freedom and dignity are… human rights that cannot be denied.” They saluted Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, occupied Palestine ’48 and exile and diaspora, as well as supporters of freedom around the world, journalists and prisoners’ centers, that stood with the prisoners in their struggle. The statement particularly saluted “the people and leadership in Gaza,” noting their unity in commitment to the struggle.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest salutes and greetings to all of the Palestinian prisoners on this occasion of victory. These achievements follow on many historical accomplishments of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, on the front lines of the Palestinian liberation struggle, extracting their victories through great sacrifice, with their bodies and lives on the line. As Palestinian Prisoners Day approaches, we emphasize our continuing dedication to work for the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners and the freedom of Palestine from the river to the sea.

Mohammed Tabanja, Hussam al-Ruzza, Khaled Farraj

In addition, we urge people around the world to continue their solidarity activities to support the Palestinian prisoners, throughout the coming days, months and years, until their freedom is achieved. In particular, we emphasize the cases of three Palestinian prisoners who remain on hunger strike: Hussam al-Ruzza (61), Mohammed Tabanja (40) and Khaled Farraj (31). Al-Ruzza has been on hunger strike since 19 March – nearly one month – while Tabanja and Farraj have been on hunger strike since 25 March. All are held without charge or trial under administrative detention orders, and their detention has been repeatedly and arbitrarily renewed.

They are among nearly 500 Palestinians out of approximately 5,500 Palestinian prisoners jailed with no charges and no trial for indefinitely renewable periods under administrative detention. The end of administrative detention is a long-time demand of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and supporters of justice and liberation around the world. Join the call to free Hussam al-Ruzza, Mohammed Tabanja, Khaled Farraj and all Palestinian prisoners!

April 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment