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Mass Protests in Haiti, Like France’s Yellow Vests, Threaten Modern Oligarchic Structure

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 12, 2019

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Throughout recent Latin American history, it is hard to find a country that has been as thoroughly manipulated and plundered by the United States as Haiti has. After over a century of U.S. intervention — from the 19-year-long U.S. military occupation that began in 1915 to the 2010 election rigged by the Hillary Clinton-run State Department — Haiti has become the ultimate neoliberal experiment that has forced its people to live in conditions so horrible that rivers of sewage often run through the city streets.

Even Haiti’s own president, Jovenel Moise — who has presided over the most recent phase of U.S.-backed plunder — recently called the entire country a “latrine.”

Yet — much as in 1791, when Haiti was the site of the first successful slave revolt in the Americas — today the people of Haiti seem to have finally had enough of being slaves in all but name and are taking to the streets en masse in an effort to end the rule of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK), the U.S.-backed political party with close ties to the Clintons.

For six days, thousands of Haitians have marched through the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince and other major cities, calling for Moise’s ouster for corruption and gross economic mismanagement in recent years, much of which can be traced directly back to the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent U.S.-UN “relief” effort that let to rigged elections, caused a deadly cholera outbreak and sought to turn the entire country into one massive sweatshop for American clothing companies.

More specifically, Moise has ignited popular ire after being implicated in the embezzlement of a $4 billion loan given to the Haitian government to develop the country via Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program and for his failure to combat the double-digit inflation that has further impoverished the Caribbean nation.

President Moise has thus far responded to the protests much like the president of Haiti’s former colonial ruler, France, where President Emmanuel Macron has sought to disperse the Yellow Vest popular protest movement with police violence. Similarly, Moise has ordered police to shoot tear gas and live ammunition into crowds of unarmed protesters, killing at least four people, including a 14-year-old boy who was not even a part of the protests, and injuring scores more.

Despite the violent response from the Moise-led government, protesters have continued to come out in force, even stoning Moise’s personal home on Saturday. That same day, Moise declared that he would “clean the streets” of every protester by Monday.

Yet the mass protests continued through Monday, when police were seen standing down in Carrefour (a suburb of Port-au-Prince), no longer willing to fire on protesters. In a video of the incident shared on social media, one female protester yells that “the police are afraid.” Late Monday afternoon, local reports asserted that PHTK ruling elite were evacuated via helicopter from the wealthy enclave of Petionville to the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, apparently planning to flee the country — at least temporarily. Other reports stated that at least one police officer had been shot during Monday demonstrations that turned violent and saw several businesses looted.

Local media on Tuesday reported high turnout for protests in several cities.

The international response to the protests in Haiti has been limited, with the UN warning Haitian protesters on Sunday that “in a democracy change must come through the ballot box, and not through violence.” This unintentionally ironic statement ignores the documented meddling of the United States in massaging vote totals and other manipulative tactics in the last two presidential elections. This, combined with the fact that the U.S. has kidnapped and overthrown Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a left-leaning populist politician, each time he won an election — first in 1991 and then in 2004 — has greatly reduced Haitians’ faith in their “democracy.”

The U.S. knows something about election meddling

Since he came to power in February 2017, Moise’s policies have resulted in several mass protests — including last July, when protesters forced Moise’s government to abandon a planned hike in fuel prices; and last November, when protesters demanded Moise’s ouster for the embezzlement of PetroCaribe funds. With so many protests in such a short span of time, the anger among the Haitian population at this unpopular president is pungent and will likely prove difficult to placate this time.

A large part of Moise’s unpopularity is likely related to the fact that he was never popularly elected to begin with. The 2016 election that Moise allegedly won was disorganized and had turn-out so dismal that Moise, the “winner,” received only around 600,000 votes out of a national population of over 11 million. Prominent Haitian politicians called the election an “electoral coup.”

In addition, that election was overseen by Ken Merten, former Obama administration ambassador to Haiti and then Obama’s Haiti Special Coordinator, and was wracked by accusations of vote-buying and -stealing and other fraudulent activities. Merten’s involvement is particularly nefarious given that he oversaw the previous Haiti election (2010) where the U.S. State Department had altered the vote count.

If that were not enough, in addition to the election fraud, Moise was widely believed to have been ineligible for office soon after having been “elected,” after it was revealed that he had laundered money through his personal bank account and was tied to a drug-trafficking operation.

Ultimately, Moise’s unpopular rule is the continuation of that of his predecessor, Michel Martelly, who chose Moise — then a political neophyte — as his successor. Martelly’s rise to power was similar to Moise’s but even more fraudulent. In the 2010 election that saw Martelly “win,” the Hillary Clinton-run State Department changed the vote totals in order to place Martelly in a runoff election for which he hadn’t in fact qualified. When the previous Haitian government resisted, Clinton herself traveled to Haiti and threatened to withdraw all U.S. aid from Haiti if Martelly did not replace the second runoff candidate, Jude Celestin.

After coming to power, it took little time for observers to realize why the U.S., particularly the Clinton-led State Department, had chosen Martelly. Not only was Martelly an avid supporter of neoliberal policies that impoverished his people, he also supported the outright theft of Haitian land by wealthy foreign corporations to create so-called “Free Trade Zones,” and brokered a deal with the Clintons to release Americans who had been arrested for child trafficking.

Furthermore, Martelly also helped squander much of the foreign aid that did make it into Haiti, cementing his reputation as notoriously corrupt, although most of that aid never even made it to Haiti and instead remained in the hands of corrupt foreign contractors.

In addition, Martelly was also a supporter of the Duvalier family — which ruled Haiti with an iron fist during the dictatorships of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Indeed, when “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned from exile in France to attend a Haitian government ceremony, Martelly — along with Bill Clinton, who was also in attendance – rose to greet him.

Martelly’s government included several officials who were connected to the Duvalier dictatorship, including his prime minister, Garry Conille, whose father held a cabinet position in the Duvalier dictatorship. In addition, Conille served with Bill Clinton on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and had previously worked as a development manager for the United Nations before receiving his prominent position in the government installed by both the U.S. and the UN.

Thus, Haiti under Martelly and Moise has been little different in practice from the Duvalier era. Indeed, as Amy Wilentz noted in a 2014 article in The Nation, “[The Duvalier] political toolbox — authoritarianism, trumped up elections, distrust of free speech, corruption of the forces of order, and no justice — are the methods by which Haiti’s ruler [Martelly] still controls the country.” With Moise serving as the new face of PHTK and Martelly’s chosen successor, this neo-Duvalier era in Haiti that has largely been orchestrated by the U.S. is now in danger of falling apart.

Haiti puts the neo-colonial oligarchy on edge

If the movement to oust the U.S.-backed and illegally installed rulers of Haiti is successful, it could easily send shockwaves through the power structures of the United States and its client states, much as the Haitian revolution did to the colonial powers two centuries ago. Indeed, the Haitian revolution instilled fear in European colonial masters throughout the Americas and the world and inspired countless slave revolts in the United States alone. Today, it still serves as a reminder that the most repressed class of a society can rise up to declare their equality and independence — and win. Perhaps that is why the current oligarchical system has invested so much in robbing Haitians of their economic and political power.

Though today is unlike the late 18th century in the sense that those at the bottom of the rung are no longer called “slaves” and those at the top are no longer called “masters” and “kings,” the record inequality that now exists throughout the world, the U.S. included, has recreated in today’s power structures an ethos eerily similar to that of the feudal-colonial systems of centuries past.

As both Haiti and France have become the new epicenters of popular unrest against predatory elites, much as they were two centuries ago, it is time to see both of these current movements as part of the same struggle for basic human dignity in an era of neocolonialism, imperialism and global oligarchy.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Why are Democrats Driving Regime Change in Venezuela?

By William Walter Kay | Ron Paul Institute | February 6, 2019

Many see President Trump conspiring with oilmen to capture Venezuelan petroleum reserves. Trump’s earlier blunt talk about seizing oilfields buttresses this thesis. As well, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron appreciate better than anyone the astronomic value of Venezuela’s heavy oil. There are, however, flaws in the petro-conquistador thesis. Foremost, it does not explain why oil-resistant Democrats and Europeans play lead roles in this regime change travesty.

On December 18, 2014 a Democrat-led Senate passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act. This legislation, sponsored by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, imposed sanctions on Venezuela while promising support for Venezuelan “civil society.” The Act also sought to meet “the information needs of the Venezuelan people” through publications and broadcasts; and through “distribution of circumvention technology.” Obama signed immediately.

On March 9, 2015 Obama declared:

… a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States presented by the situation in Venezuela.

His accompanying Executive Order 13692 extended sanctions while undertaking to: “support greater political expression in Venezuela.”

At this time the US deep state conducted an orchestra of American and European agencies and foundations disbursing $50 million a year to Venezuelan “civil society” (opposition politicians, student activists and journalists). Key agencies were USAID and National Endowment for Democracy. Participating foundations included: (Jimmy) Carter Centre; (Soros’s) Open Society; (Democratic Party-affiliated) National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; plus several Spanish and German concerns.

On January 16, 2017, four days before Trump’s inauguration, Obama renewed his declaration designating Venezuela a national security threat. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister called the move “new aggression by Barack Obama” extending Obama’s “legacy of hate and serious violation of international law.”

On January 4, 2019 a Democrat-led House of Representatives swore in.

On January 10 House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Eliot Engel (Democrat-NY) said he would waste no time holding “Mr. Maduro” accountable. Simultaneously, former DNC Chair and Hillary Clinton fixer, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz unveiled her Venezuelan-Russian Threat Mitigation Act. She was flanked by former Clinton cabinet member and Clinton Foundation boss, Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala who announced her Venezuelan Arms Restriction Act to prevent weapons sales, including non-lethal police gear, to Venezuela. Next up was Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, sponsor of the Venezuelan Humanitarian Assistance Act aimed at allowing US operatives to bypass Venezuelan authorities and distribute “aid” directly to Venezuelans.

On January 24, less than 24 hours after Juan Guaido declared himself Venezuelan President, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (House Intelligence Committee Chair) blamed Maduro’s “dictatorial” rule for devastating Venezuela’s economy, then recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s “rightful leader.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Democrat-IL) piped in calling Venezuela’s 2018 election a sham before endorsing Guaido’s presidency.

Of 280 Democratic Senators and Representatives 3 dissented. This troika did not include Bernie Sanders. On January 24 Bernie boarded the war-train with a battle-whoop beginning:

The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent. Further the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.

Bernie goes on to warn of the perils of regime change while leaving wide open the door to punitive sanctions. His statement is silent on America’s economic war on Venezuela. His support for “civil society” is willfully naïve about such groups’ involvement in political meddling up to and including regime change. (Bernie supported starvation sanctions against Iraq, and the bombing of Serbia. He calls Hugo Chavez a “dead communist dictator.”)

Regarding Venezuela the Democrats march in lockstep with: the Liberal Party of Canada under PM Trudeau; Merkel’s ruling coalition in Germany; French President Macron; and the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Spain.

These governments are committed to phasing petroleum out of their economies. All champion the Paris Climate Accord. None can be quickly dismissed as Exxon’s goons. None take orders from Trump. Thus, the petro-conquistador thesis appears ill-equipped to explain their behaviour.

No doubt Washington DC hosts cabals of oilmen and politicos coveting unfettered access to the Orinoco Belt. Here, however, it seems fantastical that President Maduro might be removed by anything short of civil war; or that the Orinoco Belt might be exploitable amidst the Vietnam-style conflagration surely to ensue. Then, arises the enigmatic spectacle of a dozen “liberal-leftist-environmentalist” Western parties and governments frantically tilting at the same windmill. Pourquoi?

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Britain lurches Deeper into Brexit Crisis as its Population Remains Deeply Alienated from the Political Establishment

By Leon Tressell | Dissident Voice | February 4, 2019

The British political establishment is experiencing an unprecedented crisis over the issue of exiting the European Union. The Conservative government staggers from crisis to crisis over its Brexit deal while politicians of all colours bicker and argue as the UK lurches towards a potentially devastating No Deal scenario. This had lead to a huge distrust in the political class amongst the long suffering public.

As the clock ticks down towards the 29 March exit date it is worth while recalling how this crisis came about in the first place. Regardless of which Brexit option the UK takes over the next period it will not detract from the fact that there is a huge chasm between large sections of a bitterly discontented population and the political establishment that does not bode well for the future stability of a key American ally.

A recent poll of 33,000 people revealed that an overwhelming majority felt that whatever Brexit option is adopted it will not address the rampant inequalities, political alienation and disenchantment that lay behind the vote to leave the EU in 2016.

In June 2016 the UK vote to exit the EU shocked the financial and political elites and led to turmoil on global stock markets. The corporate media was full of shocked pundits lamenting the democratic decision of British people for Brexit. Brexit voters were being blamed for everything from the rise in racism against immigrant families to the increased dangers of terrorist attacks.

The corporate media both in Britain and internationally was and still are furious with the British electorate for voting for Brexit. They never saw it coming and still don’t fully understand why ordinary people voted for Brexit. More than this, they still don’t understand how the Brexit vote reveals how completely out of touch the corporate media and the political/financial elites are with the millions of working class people who voted for Brexit.

Let’s be very clear about this: the vote for Brexit was a working class rebellion against the financial and political elites of Britain who have presided over a massive redistribution of wealth in favour of the super rich leaving a fifth of the population in poverty. Analysis of the referendum vote shows how the poorer an area was the higher the vote was for Brexit.

The working class stood up to massive pressure from the Bremain camp that included: all of the mainstream political parties, the Bank of England, CBI, IMF, ECB, Obama, the World Bank and the trade union bureaucrats.

The vote for Brexit revealed how out of touch the establishment advocates of the EU are with working class people. Millions of working class people are struggling to get by with low wages, incessant benefit cuts, zero hour contracts, food banks and poor housing that are putting their families and communities under intense strain. On top of this, working class people suffer the most from the cuts to the welfare state and the incessant cuts to local council services.

Working class people are not stupid they can see how the EU is a fundamentally undemocratic organisation that is completely unaccountable to them. The secret negotiations that took place between the EU and the Obama administration over TTIP, which members of the European Parliament had no say over, proved conclusively how this is an organisation run for the benefit of the too big to fail banks and the multi-national corporations.

They can see how the undemocratic EU has bludgeoned the people of Greece into living in permanent austerity and mass poverty despite a referendum last year that decisively rejected austerity measures. Obama’s favourite economist Paul Krugman called the EU’s intervention into Greece in 2015 a ‘coup d’etat’.

The advocates of Bremain in 2016 such as Mark Carney (ex-Goldman Sachs), then Prime Minister Cameron (from a tax avoiding banker family) then Chancellor George Osborne (son of a Baronet) warned working class people that Brexit would lower their living standards more than any other group in UK society.

However, millions of working class people were not taken in by the crocodile tears coming from those responsible for creating a massively unequal society. Quantitative easing and ZIRP have made the super rich fabulously richer as they have benefited from the massive bubbles on the stock market and in property. The top 10% of society own 45% of all wealth totalling over £5 trillion while the bottom 50% of society own a pathetic 9% of the wealth.

Prime Minister Cameron’s government presided over a savage attack upon welfare benefits which have led to one and half million benefit sanctions leaving people totally destitute and leading to hundreds of people committing suicide. The attack on welfare benefits for disabled people has been so severe it prompted the UN to launch an investigation into the human rights violations of disabled people. In 2018 the UN accused the UK government of ‘’systematic violations’’ of disabled people’s rights.

The political and financial elites who advocated that Britain should stay in the EU were puzzled as to why so many working class people stubbornly supported Brexit in 2016. They were and still are incapable of comprehending the anger, pain and suffering of millions of working class people who feel increasing contempt towards a political and financial elite that has no understanding of their daily lives. Over 13 million live in poverty (1 in 5 of the population) while 15 million live in inadequate housing conditions.

This inchoate anger at the daily reality that confronts them has few outlets in life. The EU referendum provided working class people with a means of sticking two fingers up at the political and financial establishment which now presides over a very divided country along lines of class and geography. This sense of alienation and disenchantment with the political establishment has only increased in the two and half years since the Brexit referendum.

The Brexit vote has led to unprecedented turmoil in both of the main political parties in Britain, particularly the Conservative Party.

The financial and political elites suffered a major defeat in 2016 Brexit vote. The Conservative Party is one of the oldest and most successful political parties in history and has served the British ruling class well for over two hundred years. Now it faces an unprecedented crisis and is unable to effectively govern.

Regardless of which Brexit option the Conservative government takes over the next period the UK will face huge challenges as the world economy continues to slow down and heads towards another devastating recession.

This will pose major challenges for the stability of the UK, whose manufacturing base continues to weaken while its financial services sector loses its dominant position in European capital markets due to Brexit. A discontented population may take inspiration from its yellow vested neighbours across the English Channel.

Leon Tressell is a UK based historian with a research focus upon geo-politics and economics.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

A Clinton Memo That Killed Half a Million People

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | January 11, 2019

A Hillary Clinton memo that Wikileaks made public in 2016 has not gotten the attention it deserves.

It takes us back to 2012 and the early phase of the Syrian war.

At that point, it was largely an internal affair, although Saudi arms shipments were playing a greater and greater role in bolstering rebel forces. But once the Obama administration decided in favor of intervention, the conflict was quickly internationalized as thousands of holy warriors flooded in from as far away as western China.

The 1,200-word memo by then-Secretary of State Clinton begins with the subject of Iran, an important patron of Syria.

She dismisses any notion that nuclear talks will stop Iran “from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program—the capability to enrich uranium.” If it does get the bomb, it goes on, Israel will suffer a strategic setback since it will no longer be able to “respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.” Denied the ability to bomb at will, Israel might leave off secondary targets and strike at the main enemy instead.

Consequently, Clinton argues that the U.S. should topple the Assad regime so as to weaken Iran and allay the fears of Israel, which has long regarded the Islamic republic as its primary enemy. As the memo puts it:

“Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted.”

This document making the case to arm Syrian rebels may have been largely overlooked because of the dates, which appear to be inaccurate.

One line gives the time as “2001-01-01 03:00” even though Clinton was still a New York senator-elect at that point. That date is also out of synch with the timeline of nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Another contains a State Department case and document number and a date of Nov. 30, 2015. But that’s incorrect as well since it postdates Clinton’s resignation as secretary of state by better than two and a half years.

Central to the Great Debate

Consequently, anyone stumbling across the memo in the Wikileaks archives would have no idea of how its rather loopy logic figures in the great debate about whether to use force to bring down Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.  But textual clues provide an answer. The second paragraph refers to nuclear talks with Iran “that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May,” events that took place in 2012.  The sixth invokes an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour conducted with then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “last week.” Since the interview took place on April 19, 2012, the memo can therefore be dated to the fourth week in April. This is shortly before Clinton joined forces with then-CIA Director David Petraeus to push for an aggressive program of rebel military aid.

Needless to say, Clinton’s skepticism about negotiating with Iran proved to be unwarranted since Iran eventually agreed to shut down its nuclear program.  The memo thus illustrates her hawkishness along with her conviction that Israeli security trumps all other considerations even if it means setting fire to a region that’s been burned over more than once.

But the memo illustrates much else besides: Clinton’s recklessness, her lack of realism and her almost mystical belief that everything will fall neatly into place once the United States flexes its muscle. Overthrowing Assad would be nothing less than “transformative,” she writes:

“… Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles.”

It was “a low-cost high-payoff approach,” she writes, that would eliminate one enemy, weaken two more, and generate such joy among ordinary Syrians that peace talks between Damascus and Tel Aviv will spring back to life. The risks were nil. Since “the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region,” the memo says, referring to the overthrow of strongman Muammer Gaddafi six months earlier, the Syrian operation wouldn’t either:

“Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example [in which NATO bombed Russian-ally Serbia] shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain. Russian officials have already acknowledged they won’t stand in the way if intervention comes.”

So, there was nothing to worry about. Sixty-five years of Arab-Israeli conflict would fall by the wayside while Russia remains safely marginalized.

How it Turned Out

Needless to say, that’s not how things turned out. At that moment, Libya seemed under control. But three or four months later, it would explode as Western-backed Islamist militias blasted away at one another, imposing strict Sharia law, re-instituting slavery and rolling back decades of social progress. Once President Barack Obama approved a modified version of the Clinton-Petraeus plan, Syria would plunge into the same abyss as jihadis funded by Saudi Arabia and the other oil monarchies spread sectarian violence and fear.

Clinton’s assumption that the U.S. could neatly and cleanly decapitate the Syrian government without having to worry about broader consequences was little short of deluded.

The notion that ordinary Syrians would fall to their knees in gratitude was ludicrous while her disregard for the intricacies of Syrian politics was astonishing.

Then there’s the memo’s blithe suggestion that Washington “work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train, and arm Syrian rebel forces.”

In late 2009, Clinton wrote in another diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” So what made her think two years later that the kingdom would not fund Syrian jihadis of precisely the same ilk?

The 2009 memo slammed Qatar for allowing Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups to use the sheikdom “as a fundraising locale.” So what made her think that a pro-Al Qaeda autocracy would now help Syrians “fight for their freedom,” as the memo puts it? Wouldn’t Qatar be more likely to remove what little freedom Syrians had left? Of course, it would.

There is a remarkable continuity between the Syria policy that Clinton was proposing and earlier policies in Afghanistan and Libya. In the first, U.S. military aid wound up flowing to the notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a religious sectarian and raging anti-western xenophobe who nonetheless was “the most efficient at killing Soviets,” as Steve Coll put it in “Ghost Wars,” his bestselling 2004 account of the CIA’s love affair with jihad.

Hekmatyar’s cutthroats wound up with the lion’s share of American arms. More or less the same thing happened in Libya once Clinton persuaded Qatar to join the anti-Gaddafi coalition. The sheikhdom seized the opportunity to distribute some $400 million to various rebel militias, many of them Islamist. The Obama administration said nothing in response.

British Fighters with International Freedom Battalion in northern Iraq. (Wikimedia)

British Fighters with International Freedom Battalion in northern Iraq. (Wikimedia)

Once again, U.S. arms and materiel flowed to the most reactionary elements. The same would happen in Syria where U.S. and Saudi arms went to the local Al Qaeda affiliate, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, and even to ISIS, as a meticulous report by Conflict Armament Research, a Swiss and EU-funded study group in London, has shown. (See “Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?” Consortium News, Dec. 21, 2017.)

Insurgency Mix  

By August 2012, a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report found that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda were already “the major forces driving the insurgency” and that the U.S. and Gulf states backed them regardless. Speechwriter Ben Rhodes summed up the problem of “moderate” rebels who were indistinguishable from Al Qaeda in his White House memoir, “The World As It Is.” In that, he writes that “Al Nusra was probably the strongest fighting force within the opposition, and while there were extremist elements in the group, it was also clear that the more moderate opposition was fighting side by side with al Nusra. I argued that labeling al Nusra as terrorists would alienate the same people we want to help, while giving al Nusra less incentive to avoid extremist affiliations.”

The problem was how to separate the “good” Al Qaeda fighters from the “bad.” Rhodes later complained when Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he and his fellow Obama officials were “trying to climb a spruce tree naked without scratching our ass.” This was “smug,” Rhodes says. But Putin was merely using a colorful expression to say that the policy made no sense; which it didn’t.

The cost, half a dozen years after the Clinton email, is staggering. As many as 560,000 people have died, half the population has been displaced, while the World Bank has estimated total war damage at $226 billion, roughly six years’ income for every Syrian man, woman, and child. A cockeyed memo thus unleashed a real-life catastrophe that refuses to go away. It’s a nightmare from which President Donald Trump is struggling to escape in his confused and deluded way and that the Deep State – everyone from arch-neocon John Bolton to “liberal” Nancy Pelosi– is determined to renew.

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The War on Populism

CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | January 10, 2018

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressors, debaucherous eau de Novichok assassins, Bernie Sanders, the yellow-vested French, emboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombers, Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

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Photo: Zakaria Abdelkafi – AFP

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

How the War Party Lost the Middle East

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • January 1, 2019

“Assad must go, Obama says.”

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. … the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot “leave now,” insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or “the Kurds are going to get slaughtered.”

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will “get slaughtered”?

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban for granting sanctuary to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad is today negotiating for peace talks with that same Taliban. Yet, according to former CIA director Mike Morell, writing in The Washington Post today, the “remnants of al-Qaeda work closely” with today’s Taliban.

It would appear that 17 years of fighting in Afghanistan has left us with these alternatives: Stay there, and fight a forever war to keep the Taliban out of Kabul, or withdraw and let the Taliban overrun the place.

Who got us into this debacle?

After Trump flew into Iraq over Christmas but failed to meet with its president, the Iraqi Parliament, calling this a “U.S. disregard for other nations’ sovereignty” and a national insult, began debating whether to expel the 5,000 U.S. troops still in their country.

George W. Bush launched Operation Iraq Freedom to strip Saddam Hussein of WMD he did not have and to convert Iraq into a democracy and Western bastion in the Arab and Islamic world.

Fifteen years later, Iraqis are debating our expulsion.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric with American blood on his hands from the fighting of a decade ago, is leading the charge to have us booted out. He heads the party with the largest number of members in the parliament.

Consider Yemen. For three years, the U.S. has supported with planes, precision-guided munitions, air-to-air refueling and targeting information, a Saudi war on Houthi rebels that degenerated into one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.

Belatedly, Congress is moving to cut off U.S. support for this war. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, its architect, has been condemned by Congress for complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul. And the U.S. is seeking a truce in the fighting.

Who got us into this war? And what have years of killing Yemenis, in which we have been collaborators, done to make Americans safer?

Consider Libya. In 2011, the U.S. attacked the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and helped to effect his ouster, which led to his murder.

Told of news reports of Gadhafi’s death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked, “We came, we saw, he died.”

The Libyan conflict has since produced tens of thousands of dead. The output of Libya’s crucial oil industry has collapsed to a fraction of what it was. In 2016, Obama said that not preparing for a post-Gadhafi Libya was probably the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

The price of all these interventions for the United States?

Some 7,000 dead, 40,000 wounded and trillions of dollars.

For the Arab and Muslim world, the cost has been far greater. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, civilian and soldier alike, pogroms against Christians, massacres, and millions uprooted and driven from their homes.

How has all this invading, bombing and killing made the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure? One May 2018 poll of young people in the Middle East and North Africa found that more of them felt that Russia was a closer partner than was the United States of America.

The fruits of American intervention?

We are told ISIS is not dead but alive in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims, that if we leave Syria and Afghanistan, our enemies will take over and our friends will be massacred, and that if we stop helping Saudis and Emiratis kill Houthis in Yemen, Iran will notch a victory.

In his decision to leave Syria and withdraw half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, Trump enraged our foreign policy elites, though millions of Americans cannot get out of there soon enough.

In Monday’s editorial celebrating major figures of foreign policy in the past half-century, The New York Times wrote, “As these leaders pass from the scene, it will be left to a new generation to find a way forward from the wreckage Mr. Trump has already created.”

Correction: Make that “the wreckage Mr. Trump inherited.”

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 25.12.2018

There is a great uproar over the recent decision by US President Trump to pull US troops out of Syria, announcing his reason for doing so is that ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has largely been defeated. What lies behind the decision and more important, what was behind the surprise emergence of ISIS across Syria in 2014 brings the spotlight to yet-classified documents of the Obama term. If the reorganized Justice Department is compelled to make these documents public in lawsuits or Freedom of Information requests, it could rock organizations such as the CIA and many in the Obama camp.

In 2010 the US Administration under President Barack Obama developed a top secret blueprint for the most ambitious and far-ranging series of US-backed regime change across the Islamic Middle East since World War I and the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreement. It was to set off a wave of wars and chaos, of failed states and floods of war refugees unimaginable to the most cynical veteran diplomat, and beyond the belief of most lay persons in the world.

In August, 2010, six months before Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution was launched by the Washington NGOs including the NED, the Soros Foundations, Freedom House and others, President Obama signed Presidential Study Directive-11 (PDS-11), ordering Washington government agencies to prepare for “change.” The change was to be a radical policy calling for Washington’s backing for the secret fundamentalist Islamic Muslim Brotherhood sect across the Middle East Muslim world, and with it, the unleashing of a reign of terror that would change the entire world.

According to US Congressional testimony of Peter Hoekstra, former Chairman of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Obama Administration PSD-11 directive–as of March 2017 still classified Top Secret–“ordered a government-wide reassessment of prospects for political reform in the Middle East and of the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the process.”

A Grandiose Task Force

To draft the contents of PSD-11, a top secret task force was established within the Obama National Security Council (NSC), headed by Dennis Ross, Samantha Power, Gayle Smith, Ben Rhodes and Michael McFaul.

The PSD-11 Task Force members were remarkable in many regards. Samantha Power, who would go on to become Obama’s UN Ambassador and lead the demonizing of Russia after the CIA’s Ukraine Color Revolution coup in 2014, was to play an instrumental role in convincing President Obama that Libya’s Mohammar Qaddafi must be militarily removed for what she called “humanitarian reasons.” Dennis Ross, accused by Palestinian opponents of being “more pro-Israeli than the Israelis,” co-founded the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). He was Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director at the NSC for the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia when he was part of the PSD-11 task force.

Gayle Smith would later go on in 2015 to head the USAID, the CIA-linked State Department agency that funneled US taxpayer millions to finance the NGOs of the Arab Spring and other Color Revolution regime changes. Michael McFaul, who once described himself as a “specialist on democracy, anti-dictator movements, revolutions,” was later named Obama’s Ambassador to Moscow where he coordinated opposition protests against Putin.

The Top Secret PSD-11 report that the Task Force drew up was partially revealed in a series of legal Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department. Released official documents revealed that the NSC Task Force had concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “viable movement” for the US Government to support throughout North Africa and the Middle East. A resulting Presidential directive ordered American diplomats to make contacts with top Muslim Brotherhood leaders and gave active support to the organization’s drive for power in key nations like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria, at the 2011 outset of the “Arab Spring.” The PDS-11 secret paper came to the bizarre conclusion that the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of political Islam, combined with its fervent nationalism, could lead to “reform and stability.” It was a lie, a lie well known to the Obama PSD-11 Task Force members.

The True Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan–Arabic for The Brotherhood–is a secret masonic-like organization with a covert  or underground terrorist arm and a public facade of “peaceful doing of charity.” It was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna who developed the cult’s guiding motto. The credo of his Society of Muslim Brothers was incorporated into a chant of six short phrases:

Allah is our goal; The Prophet is our Leader; The Qur’an is our Constitution; Jihad is our Way; Death in the service of Allah is the loftiest of our wishes; Allah is Great, Allah is Great.

Al-Banna created a secret or hidden arm of the Ikhwan in Egypt and later worldwide, known as the Special Section (al-nizam al-khass), or, as it was referred to by the British in Egypt, the Secret Apparatus (al-jihaz al-sirri). That was the military wing of the Brotherhood, in effect, the “assassination bureau.” Al-Banna taught his recruits, exclusively male, that “Jihad is an obligation of every Muslim.” He preached the nobility of “Death in the Service of Allah,” and wrote, Allah grants a “noble life to that nation which knows how to die a noble death.” He preached a death cult in which “Victory can only come with the mastery of the ‘Art of Death.’” For the Brotherhood that “mastery” was perfected in the killing of “infidels” in Jihad or Holy War in the name of Allah. The infidels could be other Muslims such as Shi’ite or Sufi who did not follow Al-Banna’s strict Sunni practice, or Christians.

Hasan Al-Banna called for adoption of the very strict Islamic Shari’a law, the complete segregation of male and female students, with a separate curriculum for girls, a prohibition of dancing, and a call for Islamic states to eventually unify in a Caliphate.

During World War II, leading Muslim Brotherhood figures spent exile from British-controlled Egypt by fleeing to Berlin where, among others, Al Banna’s close Muslim brotherhood ally, Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, worked intimately with the SS and Heinrich Himmler to create special Muslim Brotherhood terror units of the SS, so-called Handschar SS, to kill Soviet soldiers and Jews. In the 1950’s the CIA discovered the Nazi Muslim Brotherhood recruits in exile in postwar Munich and decided they could be “useful.”

Virtually every major Jihadist terrorist organization and leader has come out of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden, who worked for the CIA in Pakistan recruiting Jihadist Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, was a Muslim Brotherhood member who was recruited by the CIA and Saudi Intelligence head Prince Turki al-Faisal, to create what came to be called Al Qaeda. Other known terrorist members of the Ikhwan were Al Qaeda’s Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and the blind Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman who recently died in a US prison serving time for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Sheikh Omar was accused of conspiring to assassinate Egypt’s Mubarak and masterminding the Muslim Brotherhood assassination of Anwar Sadat in addition to the bombing of the World Trade Center.

The members of the Obama Administration National Security Council PSD-11 Task Force that recommended a US Government embrace of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in Islamic countries of the Arab Middle East, knew very well who they were dealing with. Since the 1950’s the CIA had worked with the Ikhwan around the world. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq and in Syria, al Nusra Front in Syria, as well as the so-called Islamic State or ISIS all were created out of Muslim Brotherhood networks, changing names as a chameleon lizard changes color to suit its surroundings.

The origins of Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria and later of ISIS , the murderous wars and chaos sweeping across the Arab Middle East and into Western Europe since 2010, could all be directly traced back to those Washington Obama policies, their so-called Arab Spring, coming from that August 2010 PSD-11 Presidential Task Force directive. This is what threatens to come out with declassification of US Justice Department files in the coming months. Some in Washington speak of treason, a strong word.

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Syria Insanity Must Continue, Sez Washington Establishment & Media

By James Bovard | December 20, 2018

The Washington Post front page today is in full panic mode over Trump’s decision on Syria. Reading the Post, one would think that US intervention had achieved something aside from getting vast numbers of Syrians pointlessly killed. Washington’s laptop bombardiers are hysterically opposed to Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria. But the “Combat Veterans for Continued Carnage” lobby is almost nonexistent.  I slammed Trump’s Syria policy last year in USA Today as his “worst foreign policy folly” but his decision to exit Syria is one of his best decisions yet.

Here’s a link to a USA Today oped I did five years ago on why Americans couldn’t trust Obama on Syria. In a 2014 blog on “Obama’s Great Syrian Bombing Scam,” I groused: “Obama loves to preen as if he is spreading peace, freedom, and democracy with his bombs. But there is no reason to presume that bombing Syria is not as idiotic as it appears. Thus far, the Establishment media is largely playing a lapdog role.” The media’s response to Trump’s withdrawal announcement vivifies how the pro-war bias continues.

When Trump denounced “trigger-happy Hillary” on the campaign trail in 2016, crowds roared. Hopefully exiting Syria is the start of a sea change in U.S. intervention abroad.

Cartoonist Tom Toles beautifully captured the idiocy of U.S. policy in this 2014 cartoon. Two years later, CIA-backed Syrian rebels were fighting Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels. What could possible go wrong?

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December 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Failed Oregon Solar Equipment Plant Leaves Behind Millions in Taxpayer Losses

By Bonner R. Cohen | The Heartland Institute | November 26, 2018

A multi-year effort by federal, state, and local agencies to prop up an Oregon solar-panel manufacturer has ended in a shuttered factory, millions of taxpayer dollars down the drain, and a heavily polluted manufacturing site.

In 2010 SoloPower Systems (SoloPower) claimed it could manufacture “flexible” solar PV cells and modules that were light and thin enough to be installed on buildings that couldn’t support regular solar panels. Promising to employ hundreds of people at its 225,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, SoloPower attracted millions of dollars in loans and tax credits from government agencies.

Governments Provide Funding

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Energy loaned SoloPower $10 million. Business Oregon, a state agency, granted SoloPower $20 million in tax credits. The City of Portland agreed to cover half of SoloPower’s debt to the state, provided the solar-panel factory was located within the city’s limits, while Multnomah County, where Portland is located, declared the company’s factory site was in an enterprise zone, freeing the company from paying property taxes as long as it met certain job creation requirements.

By August 2011, the Obama administration increased is commitment to the project, furnishing $197 million in DOE loan guarantees to the company, and the California Energy Commission loaned the company nearly $5 million.

Company Falters

SoloPower’s prospects yielded relatively quickly to marketplace realities with the company’s largely untested technologies proving unreliable and more expensive than those offered by its competitors.

In April 2013, the company shut down its factory and laid off most of its workforce. By July 2013 it stopped making payments on its state loans and shortly thereafter, California sued the company for failing to make payments on its loan.

Subsequently, the U.S. Energy Department withdrew its $197 million in loan guarantees, and in the fall of 2017, the Trump Energy Department declared SoloPower in default of its original $10 million loan.

Also in 2017, Multnomah County sued the company for $1.8 million in back property taxes the county says the company owes for failing to meet the job commitments necessary to qualify for the property tax breaks it received, and SoloPower ceased making to the state of Oregon, saddling Portland with repaying the company’s entire $5 million loan guarantee from the state.

Toxic Waste Site

In an audit of the company Oregon’s Secretary of State pointed out although “Multnomah County had the legal right to seize the borrower’s equipment for delinquent taxes,” it was unlikely to do so because the plant was heavily polluted with cadmium and hydrochloric acid.

Seizing the equipment may not be an option given the level of pollution at the plant.

This stuff is very caustic,” Michael Vaughn, Multnomah County accessor told Oregon Live. “And there’s lots of it. It’s one big mess.”

Cleaning up the plant is estimated to cost more than $500,000.

Read the rest of the story here.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

We want to believe: ‘Russian hacking’ memo REVEALS how US intel pinned leaks to Kremlin

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | November 10, 2018

A newly-out memo containing the Obama admin’s talking points about “Russian hacking” in the 2016 election reveals how US spy agencies attributed email leaks to the Kremlin by saying it’s “consistent” with what they think Russia does.

The seven-page document was contained within the 49 pages published on Friday by BuzzFeed, which obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in late October. At the root of it is a November 29 letter by several Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, asking then-President Barack Obama to declassify documents concerning “Russian Active Measures.”

The claim that Russia directly interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections – by first hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, and then releasing them through DCLeaks, WikiLeaks and the hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0” – was all the rage in Washington at the time, as Democrats sought to explain the fact that Clinton just lost to Donald Trump.

Obama did not declassify the documents. Instead, he apparently instructed DNI James Clapper to respond to the senators. Moving at the speed of government, the ODNI responded on January 27 – a week after Trump’s inauguration – saying that their inquiry resulted in the January 6 release of the intelligence community assessment (ICA) on “Russian activities and intentions.”

This ended up as the infamous report making all sorts of claims and accusations but offering no evidence – and prominently featuring an annex about RT dating back from 2012.

The talking points memo sent by ODNI to the Senate Democrats has not been previously published. Reading through it, one is struck by the circular reasoning of the US “intelligence community” – or rather, Clapper’s hand-picked group of CIA, FBI and NSA people charged with coming up with the assessment.

The US intelligence community is “confident” that the Russian government was behind the “compromises” of emails, because their release is “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the talking points say. In other words, this fits what US spies believe are Russian objectives, therefore it had to be the Kremlin doing it!

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the memo goes on to say. Again, inference based on assumption, not evidence.

Blaming Russia for the hack of the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCC) was based on “the forensic evidence identified by a private cyber-firm” – meaning CyberStrike, a DNC contractor led by Atlantic Council fellow Dmitry Alperovich – and the spies “own review and understanding of cyber activities by the Russian Government.”

In plain English, the evidence CrowdStrike gave the intelligence community fit its preconceived notions about Russian cyber operations, which sounds quite convenient.

Remember the accusations that several state election systems were also “hacked” by the Russians? Here is the ODNI, saying that they “are not definitively attributing the intrusions into state elections systems to the Russian Government.” But “the fact that they are consistent with Russian motivations and intent behind the DNC and DCCC intrusions, strongly suggests that Russia is responsible.”

Answering its own question whether Russia is trying to alter the outcome of the election, the ODNI says: “The Kremlin probably expects that publicity surrounding the disclosures will raise questions about the integrity of the election process and would undermine the legitimacy of the President-elect.”

At this point, any TV legal drama would have a charming courtroom lawyer shout out “Objection, speculation!” Except that passage is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. It wasn’t the disclosures of Democrat emails, however, that sowed doubts about the legitimacy of US elections, but rather the absurd conspiracy theory about Trump’s “collusion” with the Kremlin and “Russian hacking,” which the ODNI memo reveals was based on nothing more than the spies wanting to believe it was true.

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ex-Pentagon Analyst: US Exit From INF Treaty Could Boost US Nuke Arms Industry

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s decision to scrap the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty will be welcomed by the US nuclear weapons industry and major defense contractors, veteran Pentagon analyst Chuck Spinney told Sputnik on Monday.

“The trashing of the INF treaty is simply another step down a slippery slope that is being greased by the nuclear arms contractors,” said Spinney, a senior Department of Defense analyst for more than 30 years.

Trump said on Saturday that his administration was preparing to withdraw from the INF.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn on Monday, the US president also claimed that Russia had not done enough to adhere to the treaty. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied on Monday that Moscow was in violation of the landmark agreement.

Spinney said Trump’s decision to scrap the INF was an anticipated and expected consequent of his predecessor, President Barack Obama’s approval of a colossal $1.5 trillion US nuclear modernization and expansion weapons program over the next 30 years.

“In my view, this evolution was almost inevitable. We unilaterally pulled out of the missile defense treaty and effectively launched a new arms race when Obama caved into the nuclear weapons industry and launched his across the board nuclear modernization plan,” he said.

Spinney recalled that Obama had been praised for negotiating the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after only one year in office, but that his huge nuclear weapons program contradicted those claimed achievements.

“Trump’s strategy and nuclear posture review essentially sealed Obama’s actions,” he said.

Trump has also refused to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate concern about the potential offensive capabilities of the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems that the United States has deployed in Poland and was also setting up in Romania, Spinney pointed out.

“Russians claim the BMD capabilities placed in Eastern Europe could be used to offensive purposes and their ‘new’ missile may well be a response to that,” he said.

Terminating the INF treaty would be a heavy blow for the entire international legal system of nonproliferation and arms control, the Russian Security Council said on Monday.

The INF was signed in 1987 and was pivotal in eliminating thousands of missiles from the American and Russian arsenals. Ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who signed the treaty along with then-US leader Ronald Reagan called Trump’s planned withdrawal from it very irresponsible.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment