Permanent US Occupation of Syria Planned

(Trump promised to pull US troops out of Syria. But will he?)

by Stephen Lendman – Pravda.RU

US new millennium wars on humanity rage endlessly with no prospect for resolution. It is a modern-day great game with stakes far higher than earlier. Today’s weapons are infinitely more powerful.

Resource control is a major US objective, along with dominating all other countries and eliminating challengers to its aim for global hegemony.

US special forces and troops are deployed in three-fourths of nations worldwide – the Pentagon’s global empire of bases, used as launching pads for endless wars.

CIA operatives are everywhere. Their objectives are sinister. Who needs diplomacy when brute force works best. This is the way the US has operated post-WW II with rare exceptions, especially since Soviet Russia’s dissolution December 1991.

Globally deployed US forces come to stay, not leave. Syria is no exception. Bolton, Pompeo, and the Pentagon state their plan more openly than Trump.

On Sunday, Bolton said there’s no timeline for withdrawing US troops from Syria. They’ll remain on the phony pretext of combating the scourge of ISIS. But that is a lie. Washington created and supports ISIS and protects Kurds in the northern parts of the country. The US doesn’t give a hoot about the Kurds. They’re used serve US interests, to be abandoned when no longer needed. On Monday, Iraqi deputy popular mobilization committee chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said “The US claim of pullout from Syria to Iraq is an old trick,” adding:

“The US security and military bodies are there for running the crises in the region. As Kurdish forces have witnessed, the Americans can never be trusted in the region” – or anywhere else.

Lebanese General Amin Hatit said US forces in Syria will likely remain indefinitely. Iranian Defense Minister General Amir Hatami vowed to continue aiding Damascus combat the scourge of (US-supported) terrorism in the country, saying:

“The Syrian nation has fended off a major threat posed to the nation and the region by fighting against terrorism, and we will accompany Syria until final victory as we have been standing beside the Syrian nation so far.”

Iran will also aid reconstruction in the country. Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani stressed that his military advisors in Syria ate there at the behest of Damascus.

Washington and its allies are illegal occupiers – “invaders,” Assad called them. Bolton said withdrawal of US forces from Syria is on hold, effectively saying  they’ll stay, not leave.

On Monday, Pompeo was asked if there’s a timeline for withdrawing US forces from Syria. “Nope,” he responded, adding “we don’t talk about timelines.”

He slammed Iran, turning truth on its head saying Obama “let Iran run loose,” repeating the Big Lie, falsely claiming the Islamic Republic is “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror” – but that dubious distinction applies to the US, NATO, and Israel.

He lied saying the US eliminated “99%” of ISIS in Syria, but the truth is thatWashington supports them. Thousands of its jihadists remain in Syria, the region, Afghanistan and elsewhere – deployed wherever the US wants them used as proxy troops.

Withdrawal of Pentagon forces from Syria is frozen. Weapons and munitions continue flowing into the country, including cross-border from Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel.

Asked if US withdrawal began, Pompeo said “I’m not going to talk about that.” What about other US personnel in the country? Pompeo declined to comment.

Saying the Trump regime is “trying to make sure that Israel and the Palestinians find a peaceful way forward.” But that is a lie.

Trump’s no-peace/peace for Palestinians remains on hold, dead before arrival. A so-called “coalition,” consisting of 95% America, Britain, and France, continues using ISIS and other jihadists as imperial foot soldiers.

Pompeo maintained the myth about an Iranian aim to develop nuclear weapons – another lie told to justify the thousands of US nuclear weapons.

Israel is the region’s nuclear state, along with America’s presence.

According to AMN News, citing Turkish media, Erdogan intends asking the Trump regime to give Ankara control over the Pentagon’s “22 military bases” in Syria if US forces withdraw.

Pulling out is increasingly unlikely. The US intends permanent occupation of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries, along with waging endless wars on humanity.

That’s what imperialism is all about.

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Banishing Truth

Seymour Hersh

The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.

“The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.”

Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure the impact of biological agents including tularemia, yellow fever, Rift Valley fever and the plague. He broke the story of the My Lai massacre. He exposed Henry Kissinger’s wiretapping of his closest aides at the National Security Council (NSC) and journalists, the CIA’s funding of violent extremist groups to overthrow the Chilean President Salvador Allende, the CIA’s spying on domestic dissidents within the United States, the sadistic torture practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by American soldiers and contractors and the lies told by the Obama administration about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet he begins his memoir by the candid admission, familiar to any reporter, that there are crimes and events committed by the powerful you never write about, at least if you want to keep your job. One of his laments in the book is his decision not to follow up on a report he received that disgraced President Richard Nixon had hit his wife, Pat, and she had ended up in an emergency room in California.

Reporters embedded with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely witness atrocities and often war crimes committed by the U.S. military, yet they know that access is dependent on keeping quiet. This collusion between the press and the powerful is a fundamental feature of journalism, one that even someone as courageous as Hersh, at least a few times, was forced to accept. And yet, there comes a time when reporters, at least the good ones, decide to sacrifice their careers to tell the truth. Hersh, relentlessly chronicling the crimes of the late empire, including the widespread use of torture, indiscriminate military strikes on civilian targets and targeted assassinations, has for this reason been virtually blacklisted in the American media. And the loss of his voice—he used to work for The New York Times and later The New Yorker—is evidence that the press, always flawed, has now been neutered by corporate power. Hersh’s memoir is as much about his remarkable career as it is about the death of investigative journalism and the transformation of news into a national reality television show that subsists on gossip, invective, officially approved narratives and leaks and entertainment.

Investigative journalism depends not only on reporters such as Hersh, but as importantly on men and women inside the systems of power who have the moral courage to expose lies and make public crimes. Writing off any institution, no matter how nefarious the activity, as filled with the irredeemable is a mistake.

“There are many officers, including generals and admirals, who understood that the oath of office they took was a commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution and not the President, or an immediate superior,” he writes. “They deserve my respect and got it. Want to be a good military reporter? Find those officers.”

One of the heroes in Hersh’s book is Ron Ridenhour, who served in a combat unit in Vietnam and who initiated the army’s investigation into the My Lai massacre and generously helped Hersh track down eyewitnesses and participants.

The government’s wholesale surveillance, however, has crippled the ability of those with a conscience, such as Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, to expose the crimes of state and remain undetected. The Obama administration charged eight people under the Espionage Act of leaking to the media—Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden—effectively ending the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government.

This government persecution has, by default, left the exposure of government lies, fraud and crimes to hackers. And this is the reason hackers, and those who publish their material such as Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, are relentlessly persecuted. The goal of the corporate state is to hermetically seal their activities, especially those that violate the law, from outside oversight or observation. And this goal is very far advanced.

Hersh notes throughout his memoir that, like all good reporters, he constantly battled his editors and fellow reporters as much as he did the government or corporations. There is a species of reporter you can see on most cable news programs and on the floor of the newsrooms at papers such as The New York Times who make their living as courtiers to the powerful. They will, at times, critique the excesses of power but never the virtues of the systems of power, including corporate capitalism or the motivations of the ruling elites. They detest reporters, like Hersh, whose reporting exposes their collusion.

The Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal was held in 1967 in Europe during the Vietnam War. It included the testimony of three American soldiers who spoke of watching soldiers and Marines routinely pump indiscriminate rounds of ammunition into villages with no regard for civilian casualties. Most of the American press dismissed the findings of the tribunal.  The Times foreign affairs columnist, C.L. Sulzberger, launched a venomous attack against the Noble Prize-winning philosopher and mathematician, who was then 94 years old. Sulzberger, a member of the family that owned the paper, wrote that Russell had “outlived his own conscious idea and become clay in unscrupulous hands.” The tribunal, Sulzberger went on, “cannot fairly be laid at the door of the wasted peer whose bodily endurance outpaced his brain.”

Hersh, however, tipped off by the testimony at the tribunal, eventually uncovered the My Lai massacre. But no publication would touch it. Magazines such as Life and Look turned down the story. “I was devastated, and frightened by the extent of self-censorship I was encountering in my profession,” Hersh writes. He finally published the story with the obscure, anti-war Dispatch News Service. Major publications, including The New York Times, along with Newsweek and Time, ignored the report. Hersh kept digging. More lurid facts about the massacre came to light.  It became too big to dismiss, as hard as the mainstream media initially tried, and Hersh was awarded the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. The only officer convicted of the war crime, which left 106 men, women and children dead, was Lt. William Calley, who spent three months and 13 days in prison.

Papers like the New York Times pride themselves on their special access to the powerful, even if that access turns them into a public relations arm of the elites. This desire for access—which news organizations feel gives them prestige and an inside seat, although the information they are fed is usually lies or half-truths—pits conscientious reporters like Hersh against most editors and reporters in the newsroom. Hersh, who at the time was working for the Times, describes sitting across from another reporter, Bernard Gwertzman, who was covering Henry Kissinger and the NSC.

“There was a near-daily ritual involving Bernie that stunned me,” Hersh writes. “On far too many afternoons around 5:00, Max Frankel’s secretary would approach Bernie and tell him that Max [the Times’ bureau chief in Washington] was at that moment on the phone with ‘Henry’ and the call would soon he switched to him. Sure enough, in a few moments Bernie would avidly begin scratching notes as he listened to Kissinger—he listened far more than he talked—and the result was a foreign policy story that invariably led the paper the next morning, with quotes from an unnamed senior government official. After a week or two of observing the process, I asked the always affable and straightforward Bernie if he ever checked what Henry was telling him with Bill Rogers, the secretary of state, or Mel Laird at the Pentagon. “Oh no,’ he said. ‘If I did that, Henry wouldn’t speak to us.’”

The Washington Post broke the Watergate story, in which operatives for the Nixon White House in June 1972 broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington while Hersh was at the Times. Kissinger’s assurances—Hersh writes that Kissinger “lied the way most people breathed”—that it was not an event of consequence saw the top editors at The New York Times initially ignore it. The paper, however, finally embarrassed by the revelations in The Washington Post, threw Hersh onto the story, although the paper’s executive editor, Abe Rosenthal, called Hersh with a mixture of affection and wariness “my little commie.”

Hersh left the paper after a massive expose he and Jeff Gerth wrote about the corporation Gulf and Western, which carried out fraud, abuse, tax avoidance and had connections with the mob, was rewritten by cautious and timid editors. Charles Bluhdorn, the CEO of Gulf and Western, socialized with the publisher Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger. Bluhdorn used his connections at the paper to discredit Hersh and Gerth, as well as bombard the paper with accusatory letters and menacing phone calls. When Hersh filed his 15,000-word expose, the business editor, John Lee, and “his ass-kissing coterie of moronic editors,” perhaps fearful of being sued, neutered it. It was one thing, Hersh found, to go up against a public institution. It was something else to take on a private institution. He would never again work regularly for a newspaper.

“The experience was frustrating and enervating,” he writes. “Writing about corporate America had sapped my energy, disappointed the editors, and unnerved me. There would be no check on corporate America, I feared: Greed had won out. The ugly fight with Gulf and Western had rattled the publisher and the editors to the point that the editors who ran the business pages had been allowed to vitiate and undercut the good work Jeff and I had done. … The courage the Times had shown in confronting the wrath of a president and an attorney general in the crisis over the Pentagon Papers in 1971 was nowhere to be seen when confronted by a gaggle of corporate con men. …”

His reporting, however, continued to relentlessly expose the falsifications in official narratives. The Navy intelligence official, Jonathan Pollard, for example, had been caught spying for Israel in 1985 and given a life sentence. Hersh found that Pollard primarily stole documents on how the United States spied on the Soviet Union. The Israeli government, Hersh suspected, “was trading Pollard’s information to Moscow in exchange for the emigration of Soviet Jews with skills and expertise needed by Israel.” Pollard was released, after heavy Israeli pressure, in 2015 and now lives in Israel.

The later part of Hersh’s career is the most distressing. He was writing for The New Yorker when Barack Obama was elected president. David Remnick, the magazine’s editor, socialized with Obama and was apparently wary of offending the president. When Hersh exposed the fictitious narrative spun out by the Obama administration about the killing of Bin Laden, the magazine killed the story, running instead a report about the raid, provided by the administration, from the point of view of one of the SEALs who was on the mission. Hersh resigned. He published the account of the raid in the London Review of Books, the beginning of his current exile to foreign publications. When we most urgently need Hersh and good investigative reporters like him, they have largely disappeared. A democracy, at best, tolerates them. A failed democracy, like ours, banishes them, and when it does, it kills its press.

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What Happens During a Partial Government Shutdown

President Donald Trump’s fight with Senate Democrats over border wall funding partially shut down the government and left many Americans wondering what happens during a partial government shutdown.

Various things transpire when the government shuts down.

Government agencies that have not received funding include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Interior Department, the State Department, the Agriculture Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), among other federal agencies.

During a government shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney runs, issues guidance to each agency to develop its own shutdown plan. In a shutdown, federal agencies must stop all “nonessential” work, and all non-employees must stay home until the shutdown ends.

The shutdown will end when President Trump signs a spending bill passed by Congress. Former President Bill Clinton experienced the longest government shutdown at 21 days.

Essential government services will continue, which include:

  • The U.S. Postal Service will remain open and deliver mail.
  • The Transporation Security Administration (TSA) will continue to provide security, especially for air travel.
  • The government will continue to provide Social Security checks.
  • Medicare and Medicaid coverage will continue.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will continue.
  • Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents at America’s border and American troops at the border will continue securing the border.
  • The Smithsonian and the National Zoo will remain open through January, using prior-appropriated funds.

Some minor government services will close during the partial shutdown. The Agriculture Department will close its state and local farm service centers across the country. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) might slow down loan processing, and approvals and new loan applications may not be considered until after the shutdown.

A shutdown also impacts many of the government’s hundreds of thousands of federal government employees.

More than 420,000 federal employees will have to work without pay. Additionally, the government will furlough, or send home without pay, roughly 380,000 federal employees, as the government considers them “nonessential.” Nonessential employees include:

  • Approximately 86 percent of the Department of Commerce staff
  • Approximately 96 percent of NASA employees
  • Roughly 52,000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees
  • Approximately 95 percent of HUD employees

Congress does not have to backpay furloughed employees; however, historically, it has done so.

Establishment media publications such as Politico and NBC News have attempted to portray the devastation that comes with Trump’s partial shutdown.

NBC News reported that in Washington, DC, lights were off at the Korean War Veterans Memorial and that part of the National Christmas Tree was closed following electrical repairs.

Politico wrote that the partial shutdown would slow down research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The publication also contended that furloughing nonessential employees would serve as a “blow to morale.”

Previous government shutdowns have been more painful for some, including America’s veterans.

Former President Barack Obama shut down the government in 2013 and set up barriers so that veterans could not visit the World War II Memorial.

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“The Worst Is Yet To Come Next Year”

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

When talking heads on mainstream news networks are using phrases such as “the worst is yet to come next year”, that is a clear indication that a new financial crisis has arrived.  And that is an extremely bold statement to make considering that this is already the worst quarter for the stock market in 10 years, this is the worst December for stock prices since 1931, and we just experienced the worst Christmas Eve that Wall Street has ever seen.  So when Mark Jolley made the following statement during a recent guest appearance on CNBC, it definitely raised some eyebrows…

“I would love to be more optimistic but i just don’t see too many positives out there. I think the worst is yet to come next year, we’re still in the first half of a global equity bear market with more to come next year,” Mark Jolley, global strategist at CCB International Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

At this point last year, nobody on Wall Street was talking like this.

In fact, nobody was talking like this even four or five months ago.

But after three extremely painful months the outlook has completely changed, and a lot of market participants are really starting to freak out.

And this is not just happening in the United States.  The truth is that most most markets around the world started to fall well before U.S. markets did, and at this point almost all of the big global indexes are in a bear market

Bear markets — typically defined as 20 percent or more off a recent peak — are threatening investors worldwide. In the U.S., the Nasdaq Composite closed in a bear market on Friday and the S&P 500 entered one on Monday. Globally, Germany’s DAX, China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei have also entered bear market levels.

This is the first global bear market that we have seen in a decade, and if central banks are going to try to stop the bleeding they will need to move very quickly.

But the Federal Reserve has already indicated that they do not plan to intervene.  In fact, they just told everyone that they plan to keep raising interest rates.

That is completely insane, but since they aren’t accountable to us they can literally do whatever they want.

So if the central banks don’t step in, who is going to come riding to the rescue?

Individual national governments could try to stimulate economic activity by spending more money, but most of them are already drowning in debt.

Just look at the mess that the U.S. government has created.  Since the beginning of the last financial crisis, we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt.  And over the last 12 months our debt problems have actually accelerated.  Between December 25th, 2017 and December 25th, 2018 we added almost 1.4 trillion dollars to the national debt.  The following comes from CNS News

The federal government has added another $1,370,760,684,441.54 to the debt since last December 25according to numbers published by the U.S. Treasury.

On Dec. 25, 2017, the federal debt was 20,492,874,492,282.58, according to the Treasury.

According to the latest numbers published by the Treasury, which show where the debt stood on Dec. 20, 2018, the federal debt was $21,863,635,176,724.12.

So the reality of the matter is that there is simply no room for more “stimulus spending”, because we have already been spending money like drunken sailors that think that they are likely to die tomorrow.

Right now the government is shut down as President Trump and Chuck Schumer square off over 5 billion dollars in border wall funding.  But nobody on Capitol Hill is even talking much about the 1.37 trillion dollars that we just added to the national debt, and that is really what everybody should be focusing on.

We are literally committing national suicide.  No matter what happens with border wall funding, the U.S. will continue to steamroll toward financial oblivion unless something is done about this horrific debt that we are accumulating.

As I wrap up this article, I would like to share something that Austin Murphy wrote that really struck a chord with me.  Over the course of a 33 year career in journalism, Murphy interviewed five presidents and wrote thousands of articles for Sports Illustrated.  But now he is delivering packages for Amazon

Let’s face it, when you’re a college-educated 57-year-old slinging parcels for a living, something in your life has not gone according to plan. That said, my moments of chagrin are far outnumbered by the upsides of the job, which include windfall connections with grateful strangers. There’s a certain novelty, after decades at a legacy media company—Time Inc.—in playing for the team that’s winning big, that’s not considered a dinosaur, even if that team is paying me $17 an hour (plus OT!). It’s been healthy for me, a fair-haired Anglo-Saxon with a Roman numeral in my name (John Austin Murphy III), to be a minority in my workplace, and in some of the neighborhoods where I deliver. As Amazon reaches maximum ubiquity in our lives (“Alexa, play Led Zeppelin”), as online shopping turns malls into mausoleums, it’s been illuminating to see exactly how a package makes the final leg of its journey.

Like Murphy, America’s future is going to be far less bright than its past if we don’t get things turned around, and right now there is absolutely no indication that this is going to happen.

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Withdrawal From Syria?

Paul Craig Roberts

According to various news reports, the validity of which is always questionable, US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of all US troops from the portion of Syria illegally occupied by US troops.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-19/drastic-reversal-us-prepares-full-withdrawal-forces-syria-immediately

This report is surprising as only a few days ago the US Department of Defense declared that any Syrian, Russian, or Iranian action against ISIS in the part of Syria occupied by US troops was “unaccptable.” https://www.rt.com/news/446328-pentagon-syria-turkey-military/

In other words, the Pentagon declared that the part of Syria still in ISIS’s hands was under US protection and was not to be attacked by Syria and its allies.

The question before us: Is Trump’s reported order of withdrawal going to happen?

It is too soon to say. As I write no support for Trump’s withdrawal order has been reported in the media. Even the official statement by the White House’s own spokesperson, Sarah Sanders, is unclear: “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.” https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-19/drastic-reversal-us-prepares-full-withdrawal-forces-syria-immediately

In other words, the campaign against Syria is not over, but “the next phase” apparently doesn’t need US troops. What is the next phase? Until we know the answer, we do not know whether Washington’s campaign against Assad is over.

Perhaps a decision has been made to bypass Syria for now and to knock out Iran before the Russians can intervene there.

The presstitutes, at home and abroad, who serve Israel and the Military/Security Complex and never the Truth, are opposed to ending the campaign against Syria.

The Guardian, once a legitimate working class newspaper, but now to all appearances a CIA asset, writes that Trump’s “walking away now is a remarkable gift for ISIS.”

Bloomberg, continuing its campaign against Trump, reported that Trump’s withdrawal order “left Washington’s Kurdish allies in the lurch,” subject to Turkey’s disposal. Even worse, according to Bloomberg, Trump’s withdrawal “leaves Syria’s future in the hands of Moscow and Tehran, allies of President Bashar al-Assad whose intervention in the conflict averted his potential defeat.”

Warmonger US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a total disgrace to the electorate who put and keeps this fool in office, quickly demurred from Trump’s sensible decision. War forever is Graham’s policy. It proves he is a tough guy who stands up for America.

Mark Dubowitz, chief exercutive officer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (an extinct political species in the West), who “has closely advised the Trump administration,” said that “pulling U.S. troops out of Syria would be a gift to Putin and to the mullahs in Tehran. And it would be a disastrous gift for the region.”

Brett McGurk, Trump’s special envoy to the fake “global coalition to defeat ISIS,” an organization created and financed to create deceptive cover for the support of ISIS, disavowed Trump’s reported decision: “Enduring defeat of a group like this means you can’t just defeat their physical space and then leave.”

Israel, which has reduced the President of the United States to a two-bit Israeli puppet, as it intends to do also to President Putin of Russia, is unlikely to permit Trump to withdraw US troops from Syria.

Why? The answer is that Syria and Iran, which is also on the Trump/Israeli hit list, support the only army in Lebanon worthy of the name—the Hezbollah militia that prevents Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanan.

Israel’s goal of occupying southern Lebanon is part of the Zionist plan for Greater Israel—from the Nile to the Euphrates. There is also the issue of the water resources in southern Lebanan, which Israel covets. If Syria and Iran can be reduced to the chaos, death, and destruction that Israel has caused in the Middle East through their neoconservative agents in Washington, Hezbollah would be left without any financial and military support, enabling Israel to seize southern Lebanon.

Many in the Western world have never heard of Israel’s interest in Lebanon. With the extraordinary control that the elite have established over communications and explanations, people are unaware that the American assault on the Middle East began with the neoconservatives’ published agenda of overthrowing the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, whose leadership saw the writing on the wall and went over to the Israeli side. The neoconservative agenda, as General Wesley Clark made clear, was handed to the Pentagon and became official US policy. https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

Israel operating through their neoconservative agents successfully used the United States to destroy Iraq, Libya, Somalia, almost Syria until the Russians intervened, and to demonize Iran and set Iran up for attack. The cost to the US taxpayers runs in the trillions of dollars. Americans also paid the costs in the deaths and maiming of relatives and loved ones, and in the sullied reputation of their country, now widely regarded as a war criminal government.

Despite these massive blows Israel has delivered against the United States, blows unmatched by those of any enemy, Israel has gone on to compromise the independence of 26 US state governments, with another 13 up for grabs. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/12/19/texans-grovel-at-israels-feet/

How do we explain the capture of the mighty United States by a tiny numerically insignificant people who are isolated in the world?

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US Troops Out of Syria – In Defeat, Not Victory

SCF EDITORIAL | 21.12.2018

US President Donald Trump’s order this week to withdraw American troops from Syria is long overdue. American forces have been in the Arab country for at least four years. They have been there illegally, present without any international mandate. Not with the permission of the Syrian government, nor with the sanction of the UN Security Council.

American troops in Syria are therefore an illegal occupying force, violating the sovereignty of Syria and international law. Washington claims its soldiers and air force are in the country to combat jihadist terror groups. That claim is risible given the ample evidence that Washington has been covertly supporting the same jihadist groups it is supposed to be fighting. Thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed by American forces in what amounts to countless war crimes.

President Trump declared “an historic defeat” of the terror groups was the reason for his order to withdraw US troops. Trump with his typical braggadocio is claiming a “victory”. That is so utterly misplaced. His self-righteous words are a travesty and an insult to international norms of law and morality.

The military forces that really brought an end to the terror groups were those of the Syrian army, Russia and Syria’s others allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Trump’s self-congratulations are grotesquely way off the mark. The terror proxies that wreaked havoc and horror in Syria for nearly eight years were enabled, armed and directed by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.

Still, it is to be cautiously welcomed that Trump has called it a day for American forces in Syria. With American withdrawal, there is now more chance of a political settlement being found for the war-torn country. But Washington deserves no thanks for its belated troop withdrawal. In a sane world, Washington should one day face justice for its barbaric crimes in Syria.

Whether US troops actually do vacate Syria remains to be seen. Media reports say the Pentagon plans to pull out nearly 2,000 US troops within the next month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual international press conference this week gave a cautious welcome to Trump’s announcement. Putin noted, however, that Trump has made a similar call earlier this year only for that to be overturned by the Pentagon. Putin also noted that Washington has been talking about removing troops from Afghanistan, yet the Central Asian country continues to be occupied by US troops more than 17 years after Trump’s predecessor GW Bush ordered an invasion in 2001.

So, it remains to be seen if Trump’s announcement this week regarding Syria is just a political stunt to placate his domestic base. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to bring the troops home. His withdrawal plan this week could therefore be a disingenuous Christmas “good news story” for his political base, which in the coming weeks may be quietly abandoned.

There are sound reasons to be skeptical about Trump’s withdrawal plan from Syria. Only a few months ago, his national security advisor, John Bolton, was saying that US forces would stay in Syria for as long as Iranian troops were present there. Notwithstanding that Iran forces are present in Syria legally at the request of President Bashar al Assad’s government, as are Russian forces.

It’s not clear if Trump is just acting on his own whim or if there is a significant strategic decision in Washington to retreat from its regime-change machinations in Syria.

One thing seems clear though. Washington’s would-be withdrawal from Syria has nothing to do with its supposed defeat of terror groups. How could that be when Washington has for eight years worked assiduously and covertly to foment these same terror entities for regime change?

Washington’s putative withdrawal from Syria, if anything, is due to its realization of defeat for its regime-change operation. The Syrian army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah deserve the laurels for heroically defeating the terrorist jihadist proxies whom Washington deployed to Syria for regime change. Salute too to the brave Syrian people for their amazing steadfastness in the face of horrific assault.

It is laughably ironic that US politicians, Britain and France are criticizing Trump this week, saying that “the terrorists are not yet defeated”. When it was these powers, plus Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Israel and Turkey which created, armed and supported the terror groups for the purpose of destroying Syria.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is correct in saying that US military pullout from Syria is potentially a positive move towards political settlement to the war in that country.

Russia, Iran and Turkey (belatedly) have been working diplomatically to bring about such a political settlement. Logically, with one less military player in Syria – the US – that lends towards a possible resolution of conflict. If, that is, Trump’s order is actually carried through. That’s a big “if”.

There is, however, concern that US withdrawal might spur Turkey to intensify its military involvement in Syria against Kurdish militants which the US has been protecting up to now. We may expect that Russia and Iran will act to prevent any such adventurism by Ankara.

All in all, US planned withdrawal from Syria is viewed as a good thing. It’s about time that Washington removed its illegal presence in the Arab country, and thereby permitting the country to restore the peace that it was so criminally denied for the past eight years.

Yes, Trump’s decision this week is to be welcomed, but it’s long overdue. Criminally long overdue.

Trump’s typical bravado about “winning the war” is contemptible. In reality, Syria stands as an historic defeat for US imperialism.

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US Meltdown Over TU-160s

Finian Cunningham – Dec. 13, 2018

Two long-range Russian bombers landed in Venezuela this week and the United States immediately flew into a fit of rage. Top diplomat Mike Pompeo had a virtual mental meltdown on Twitter, denouncing Russia and the South American country for daring to cooperate in holding a military exercise.

The TU-160s flew nearly 10,000 kilometres from Russia to Venezuela on a scheduled non-stop flight in order to demonstrate Moscow’s support for the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The week before, Maduro was hosted in Moscow by President Vladimir Putin during which the two leaders discussed closer cooperation in economic and military affairs.

The Venezuelan government has had close ties with Russia over the past two decades since the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez and his successor Maduro have been in power. The South American oil-producing giant has been threatened with US military aggression and sanctions which have caused havoc for its economy. Russia is promising to help stabilize the country with oil and other investments.

Thus, there was nothing improper about the two Russian warplanes flying to Caracas. It wasn’t the first time either. Five years ago, the TU-160s reportedly made a similar itinerary.

However, from the way US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reacted, one might have thought that Russia and Venezuela were hatching a sinister scheme.

“Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela,” Pompeo fumed,according to Reuters reporting.

He then went on to vent his fury with gratuitously nasty remarks about both countries.

“The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed Pompeo’s “undiplomatic” language and vacuous reasoning. In an apt counter-dig over the allegation of squandering public funds, Peskov noted that the annual US military spending of over $700 billion – more than 10 times Russia’s military budget.

Neither is the US is any position to lecture others about “squelching liberty and freedom”. Almost every week, American bombs kill countless civilians in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, while US troops are present in 150 countries around the world (80 per cent of all nations), with 800 bases in some 70 foreign states.

A reliable study of US wars and clandestine military interventions carried out in some 37 nations around the world during the decades since World War Two estimates the total number of deaths caused among mainly civilian populations at between 20-30 million. Those military onslaughts, such as the Vietnam War (3 million deaths), were declared to be in the name of “freedom” and “democracy” by the “leader of the free world”.

Such grotesque falsification of monumental crimes is what you call “propaganda”, systemized by Western media who have never told the unvarnished truth about the criminality of Washington and its allies.

Propaganda is what pathetic politicians like Mike Pompeo are full of. You know these American politicians are full of it because of their obtuse double-think.

Pompeo was reacting to Russian bombers flying to Venezuela because that country is considered by US imperialists to be in its “backyard”. In truth, the whole planet is considered to be America’s backyard when it has 800 military bases around the globe.

The distance between Caracas and Florida is nearly 2,450 kilometres. From the Venezuelan capital to Washington DC it is 3,300 km.

Now check out Pompeo’s rampant double-think. Only last month, the US-led NATO military alliance held its biggest-ever war exercises in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea — at a distance of 500 km from Russia’s northern border. The NATO Trident Juncture 2018 manoeuvres involved the deployment of 250 warplanes and 65 warships, including the nuclear-capable aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman.

Earlier this year, in July, the US Navy held its biggest NATO exercises in the Black Sea on Russia’s southern shores. Participating in those exercises were Ukrainian forces, even though Ukraine is not officially yet a member of NATO and even though the Neo-fascist regime in Kiev has repeatedly uttered crazed anti-Russian statements.

Let’s take this double-think to a sublime level. On November 26, the US-backed Kiev regime staged a military provocation against Russia with three warships violating Russia’s maritime territory. The Kiev regime and Washington then turned around and accused Moscow of “aggression” after Russia detained the offending vessels near the Kerch Strait — a few km from the Russian mainland.

Last week, on December 6, four days before the Russian TU-160s bombers landed in Venezuela (2,450 km from Florida!) on a scheduled trip between two allied nations, the US air force dispatched a surveillance plane over Ukraine on Russia’s western border. It was described by gung-ho US channel Fox News as an “extraordinary flight” over Ukraine “in response to Russia’s unprovoked attack”.

Onboard the US surveillance warplane was military personnel from Britain, France, Germany — and Ukraine, the very regime which staged the provocation in the Kerch Strait only days before.

The Fox News report continues: “The Open Skies flight [on December 6] also took place one day after a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed into waters claimed [sic] by Russia… near the port city of Vladivostok, home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet. It was the first such voyage for the US Navy in Russia’s contested waters since 1987.”

So there you have it. US forces are marauding and menacing Russian territory almost non-stop with hundreds of warplanes and ships, from north, south, east and west. And yet when two Russian bombers land in Venezuela, Washington goes into paroxysms of indignation. That is a measure of how irrational and deceptive the American political class are. Their capacity for double-think is limitless because of the propagandized fantasy world they live in.

It’s impossible to rationalize with such people through reasonable dialogue. The only language that might get through to them is a show of force when their idiocy goes too far.

Russian forces in Venezuela are not even comparable to US forces in Ukraine or the Baltic Sea in terms of proximity. Cuba would be more appropriate. But they are perhaps enough to show the arrogant buffoons in Washington that there is a tolerance limit for American aggression.

For the sake of peace, everyone needs to de-escalate military forces eventually. But the onus for that move is patently on the US with its global sprawl of war machines and outrageous attitude of impunity from sticking its weapons in the faces of other countries.

This harks to the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962. Why should US military forces be permitted to threaten others halfway around the world, and expect no reciprocal response? The days of American bullying double-think are long over. Fortunately, too, paradoxically, for the sake of world peace.

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Selling Murder as The Greater Good

Gary Barnett – December 12, 2018:

What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.

War is the scourge of mankind, the death of sanity, and oftentimes exists when armies of consenting soldiers band together in a military formed and controlled by those among us bent on killing for profit and power. War can only be justified for actual self-defense against aggressive invasion. Sadly, today’s U.S. wars are pure aggression, offensive in nature, and not waged to protect anyone.

What could drive soldiers to kill simply on orders from the state? Why would normal men risk all for the murderous desires of others?

There are many factors of course but the primary incentive necessary for men to voluntarily risk their lives in war boils down to a dangerous ideological mindset referred to as “the greater good.”  This refers to the notion that one is killing not for himself, but for the benefit of community, country, or the entire human race. This can be disguised as patriotism, nationalism, or love of country, but those false justifications are purposely embedded into the weak minds of brainwashed citizens throughout their lifetimes. Some progressive leftists describe the greater good as “actively participating with accountability in the positive growth of social, economic, and political change. “ This is absurd, and is meaningless poppycock. Wars are sold to the common man by using fear and guilt as motivations, all under the guise of this idiotic politically correct ideology.

Selling this concept has been a key component in the warmongers arsenal used to further its mission to marginalize all independent thought and action in favor of community. It is a brilliant strategy used to fool the general population into supporting state sponsored aggression. That aggression is war, and war needs the support of the masses in order for it to exist and prosper. It is not winning that matters to the controllers you understand, it is the perpetuation of war that is desired because continual conflict is what they seek. The purposely crafted and unending “war on terror” is the perfect vehicle to affect this strategy. This is accomplished by fomenting fear among the masses, and chaos is always the result. Continuous war is necessary to gain the money and power sought by the elite in charge. The more fearful a society becomes, the more it is willing to support war, and war is what makes the state possible.

The state understands this concept and has been successful in its efforts to incite fear among the people. In the past just as it remains today, an enemy was created and demonized, and the controlled media was used to inundate the sheep with targeted propaganda in support for war. In order for this strategy to continue to be effective for the long term, the public must remain continually frightened of monsters from afar. This state of mind alone is enough to cause not only panic, but will guide the crowd to band together behind powerful agents of force they think will protect them. This is exactly what the powerful deep state and its government puppets seek.

Warmongering is dependent on an extensive military-industrial complex, with a strong and effective propaganda arm. The U.S. propaganda machine is fully in place. Over the past century, the U.S. government has built the largest and most powerful military the world has ever known. It is monstrous not only in size and scope, but equally in its thirst for tyrannical supremacy. This military complex needs to not only have a huge standing army of willing soldiers, but weaponry and capital as well. It also needs to control the political class and the media. It accomplished this mission some time ago, and it is still gaining strength.

The United States is an empire based on aggression and expansion and accomplishes much of this lust for power today by gaining geopolitical control. This is not a recent phenomenon, but this empire continues to expand its reach through aggressive measures. In today’s world, it is not necessary for this monster to actually claim and take physical possession of all the territory it conquers. But with military bases numbering well over 8oo in more than 70 countries, the effect is the same. America is the most prolific empire in world history. In order to continue this empirical expansion, war must be waged unabated and endlessly.  War is what sustains the deep state and those dependent on it, including the political class, the financial and banking system, the corporate elite, and the entire military industrial complex. The actions of this behemoth are as cold as ice, and pathological in nature.

Why are so many filled with hate? Why do so many continue to torture, maim and kill? Why are imperialist wars applauded and those who orchestrate and prosecute them revered? Why are the masses mesmerized by those who support the death and destruction that accompany these wars?

Selling murder as salvation is the mission of an unscrupulous state apparatus. Those involved in this carnage are the worst among us. They are the benefactors of empire and war. They are the ones who gain money and power from it. They are parasites using the complicit masses to advance their murderous agenda.

The survival of mankind lies in the concept of peace. Peace can never be achieved through aggression. Wars of aggression perpetuate more war and more suffering, while peace encourages prosperity, and harmony.  There is no such thing as “the greater good” in any aggressive war.

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All US Presidents, Living and Dead, Are War Criminals

Glen Ford – December 06, 2018

Especially at state funerals, media and politicians pretend that US presidents are honorable men, instead of the mass murderers that all of them become in office.

“The US has caused the deaths of 20 to 30 million people since World War Two.”

The daily whitewashing of imperial crimes that masquerades as “news” on corporate media becomes high ceremony when a Genocider-in-Chief dies. Now it is George Herbert Walker Bush’s turn to be canonized for bringing “’a ‘thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world,” in the words of the current CEO of Empire, Donald Trump. Former White House denizens Obama, Clinton and Carter also lauded the life and works of their accomplice in global predation, as did the son-of-a-Bush, George W., the under-achiever who wound up out-doing his daddy in mass murder.

As high priests of American Exceptionalism, corporate news anchors absolve the dead leader of culpability for the mega-deaths inflicted on those countries targeted for invasion, drone strikes, regime change, proxy wars, or crippling economic sanctions under his watch — an easy task for the media glib-makers, since their colleagues sanitized those crimes while they were in progress, decades ago. But the whitewasher’s job is never done; the bodies keep piling up, “regimes” go “rogue,” meaning they disobey American dictat or otherwise get in the way of the imperial project, or run afoul of vital U.S. allies, as with the unfortunate Yemenis and Palestinians.

“The whitewasher’s job is never done.”

Whatever the human cost, it is “worth it,” as Clinton’s former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright said of the half a million Iraqi children that died as a result of U.S. sanctions and the bombing of Iraqi infrastructure – carnage begun by Daddy Bush and continued by Bill Clinton, and then begun again with Bush Junior’s “Shock and Awe” demonstration of U.S. military might. Obama got hundreds of thousands more Iraqis killed when he armed and trained head-chopping legions of Islamist jihadists to swarm the region in an attempted imperial comeback that has killed half a million Syrians, to date.

Presidential funerals are venues of absolution, mainly for crimes that are unacknowledged.

Most Americans would be shocked – or feign surprise — if told that their country had caused the deaths of 20 to 30 million people since World War Two. But they do know the U.S. leaves dead bodies in its wake all around the planet — Americans are not clueless, and that which they don’t know is due as much to deliberate, determined ignorance as it is to the failings of the news media. A nation born in genocide and slavery does not change its nature without undergoing a revolution, and the United States has not experienced such a transformation. At least half the population sees the death of millions of non-whites as “collateral damage” from America’s civilizing mission in the world: it’s “worth it.”

“A nation born in genocide and slavery does not change its nature without undergoing a revolution.”

In such a country, eight million murdered Congolese can be vanished from national consciousness without a trace of guilt. The Rwandans and Ugandans that carried out this holocaust under U.S. protection, with U.S. arms, and in service to U.S. imperial objectives, are also absolved, lest their crimes taint the reputations of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, or besmirch the U.S. national character.

The oldest of the living former presidents, Jimmy Carter, has spent decades building houses for the poor to atone for his crimes in the Oval Office. In addition to contributing to the carnage in Angola and backing fascist military regimes that slaughtered or disappeared hundreds of thousands in Latin America, the peanut-farming bible-thumper set in motion the U.S. alliance with al-Qaida. The creation of the first international network of Islamist jihadists, initially to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan, was the brainchild of Carter national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Tens of thousands of heads have rolled since then, thanks to the honorable and righteous Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter set in motion the U.S. alliance with al-Qaida.”

Barack Obama is a methodical man who claimed to be completing Dr. Martin Luther King’s work but instead added his own wars to the continuum of the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Obama told the U.S. Congress that his unprovoked attack on Libya was not a war, at all, because no Americans died, thus establishing a new doctrine and definition of warfare in which only U.S. deaths count. His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, established new lows in diplomacy when she greeted news of Muammar Gaddafi’s death, cackling, “We came, we saw, he died” – which could be the said of all the tens of millions of deaths at the hands of U.S. presidents.

International law has no place in U.S. foreign policy, or U.S. corporate media broadcasts, or in the U.S. political discourse. Bernie Sanders, the Great Gray Hope of leftish Democrats, prefers not to speak of foreign policy at all, and can thus ignore the millions of corpses left behind as a result of U.S. policy. And he is also considered to be an upright and moral man.

The current occupant of the White House has so far committed less carnage in the world than his peers, although the so-called “Resisters” that seek his ouster from office behave as if Trump is a greater criminal and threat than any of his predecessors. They applaud Trump only when he launches military attacks. Since he loves applause, it is certain that Trump will increase his body count before the election season begins in earnest.

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G20 Summit, Top Agenda Item: Bye-Bye American Empire

[editor:  The following article presents evidence that western power is fading – as seen in the idiotic maneuvers of U.S. Government, and in the cultural depravity of American society today.  The seeds of lies, thievery, and war planted by the U.S. system are today bearing bitter fruit of self destruction.

As the west is dying by its own poison, the eastern powers are on the rise for a season. The eastern powers have their own style of domination. It is not good, but as western powers destroy themselves they are creating a vacuum into which the eastern powers are stepping. The East is supplanting the crumbling domains of the brutal Roman west.

12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. – Revelation 16:12]

by Tyler Durden – Fri, 11/30/2018

The G20 summits are nominally about how the world’s biggest national economies can cooperate to boost global growth.This year’s gathering – more than ever – shows, however, that rivalry between the US and China is center stage.

Zeroing in further still, the rivalry is an expression of a washed-up American empire desperately trying to reclaim its former power. There is much sound, fury and pretense from the outgoing hegemon – the US – but the ineluctable reality is an empire whose halcyon days are a bygone era.

Ahead of the summit taking place this weekend in Argentina, the Trump administration has been issuing furious ultimatums to China to “change its behavior”. Washington is threatening an escalating trade war if Beijing does not conform to American demands over economic policies.

President Trump has taken long-simmering US complaints about China to boiling point, castigating Beijing for unfair trade, currency manipulation, and theft of intellectual property rights. China rejects this pejorative American characterization of its economic practices.

Nevertheless, if Beijing does not comply with US diktats then the Trump administration says it will slap increasing tariffs on Chinese exports.

The gravity of the situation was highlighted by the comments this week of China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, who warned that the “lessons of history” show trade wars can lead to catastrophic shooting wars. He urged the Trump administration to be reasonable and to seek a negotiated settlement of disputes.

The problem is that Washington is demanding the impossible. It’s like as if the US wants China to turn the clock back to some imagined former era of robust American capitalism. But it is not in China’s power to do that. The global economy has shifted structurally away from US dominance. The wheels of production and growth are in China’s domain of Eurasia.

For decades, China functioned as a giant market for cheap production of basic consumer goods. Now under President Xi Jinping, the nation is moving to a new phase of development involving sophisticated technologies, high-quality manufacture, and investment.

It’s an economic evolution that the world has seen before, in Europe, the US and now Eurasia. In the decades after the Second World War, up to the 1970s, it was US capitalism that was the undisputed world leader. Combined with its military power, the postwar global order was defined and shaped by Washington. Sometimes misleading called Pax Americana, there was nothing peaceful about the US-led global order. It was more often an order of relative stability purchased by massive acts of violence and repressive regimes under Washington’s tutelage.

In American mythology, it does not have an empire. The US was supposed to be different from the old European colonial powers, leading the rest of the world through its “exceptional” virtues of freedom, democracy and rule of law. In truth, US global dominance relied on the application of ruthless imperial power.

The curious thing about capitalism is it always outgrows its national base. Markets eventually become too small and the search for profits is insatiable. American capital soon found more lucrative opportunities in the emerging market of China. From the 1980s on, US corporations bailed out of America and set up shop in China, exploiting cheap labor and exporting their goods back to increasingly underemployed America consumers. The arrangement was propped up partly because of seemingly endless consumer debt.

That’s not the whole picture of course. China has innovated and developed independently from American capital. It is debatable whether China is an example of state-led capitalism or socialism. The Chinese authorities would claim to subscribe to the latter. In any case, China’s economic development has transformed the entire Eurasian hemisphere. Whether you like it or not, Beijing is the dynamo for the global economy. One indicator is how nations across Asia-Pacific are deferring to China for their future growth.

Washington likes to huff and puff about alleged Chinese expansionism “threatening” US allies in Asia-Pacific. But the reality is that Washington is living in the past of former glory. Trading blocs like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) realize their bread is buttered by China, no longer America. Washington’s rhetoric about “standing up to China” is just that – empty rhetoric. It doesn’t mean much to countries led by their interests of economic development and the benefits of Chinese investment.

One example is Taiwan. In contrast to Washington’s shibboleths about “free Taiwan”, more and more Asian countries are dialing down their bilateral links with Taiwan in deference to China’s position, which views the island as a renegade province. The US position is one of rhetoric, whereas the relations of other countries are based on material economic exigencies. And respecting Beijing’s sensibilities is for them a prudent option.

A recent report by the New York Times starkly illustrated the changing contours of the global economic order. It confirmed what many others have observed, that China is on the way to surpass the US as the world’s top economy. During the 1980s, some 75 per cent of China’s population were living in “extreme poverty”, according to the NY Times. Today, less than 1 per cent of the population is in that dire category. For the US, the trajectory has been in reverse with greater numbers of its people subject to deprivation.

China’s strategic economic plans – the One Belt One Road initiative – of integrating regional development under its leadership and finance have already created a world order analogous to what American capital achieved in the postwar decades.

American pundits and politicians like Vice President Mike Pence may disparage China’s economic policies as creating “debt traps” for other countries. But the reality is that other countries are gravitating to China’s dynamic leadership.

Arguably, Beijing’s vision for economic development is more enlightened and sustainable than what was provided by the Americans and Europeans before. The leitmotif for China, along with Russia, is very much one of multipolar development and mutual partnership. The global economy is not simply moving from one hegemon – the US – to another imperial taskmaster – China.

One thing seems inescapable. The days of American empire are over. Its capitalist vigor has dissipated decades ago. What the upheaval and rancor in relations between Washington and Beijing is all about is the American ruling class trying to recreate some fantasy of former vitality. Washington wants China to sacrifice its own development in order to somehow rejuvenate American society. It’s not going to happen.

That’s not to say that American society can never be rejuvenated. It could, as it could also in Europe. But that would entail a restructuring of the economic system involving democratic regeneration. The “good old days” of capitalism are gone. The American empire, as with the European empires, is obsolete.

That’s the unspoken Number One agenda item at the G20 summit. Bye-bye US empire.

What America needs to do is regenerate through a reinvented social economic order, one that is driven by democratic development and not the capitalist private profit of an elite few.

If not, the futile alternative is US failing political leaders trying to coerce China, and others, to pay for their future. That way leads to war.

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MUCH WORSE THAN EXPECTED: EXPERTS SHOCKED AS NEW HOME SALES PLUNGE 8.9 PERCENT

The U.S. economy is definitely deviating from the script, and we just got more evidence that “Housing Bubble 2” is bursting.  Experts were expecting that new home sales in the U.S. would rise in October, but instead they plunged 8.9 percent.  That number is far worse than anyone was projecting, and many in the real estate industry are really starting to freak out.  And to be honest, things look like they are going to get even worse in 2019.  One survey found that the percentage of Americans that plan to buy a home over the next 12 months has fallen by about half during the past year.  Mortgage rates have steadily risen as the Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates, and at this point most average Americans have been completely priced out of the market.  Home prices are going to have to come way down from where they are right now, and just as we witnessed in 2008, rapidly falling home prices can put an extraordinary amount of stress on the financial system.

(President Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

The worst part is perhaps the solution the government has proposed to the very real problem they have created. Things have gotten so bad that the Trump administration launched a $12 billion aid package for US farmers coping with retaliatory tariffs that foreign countries have imposed on their products. There is no such thing as a free market anymore.  In September, the government cut $25 million worth of bailout checks to the agriculture industry.)

It is hard for me to put into words just how bad this latest news is.  Even though I write about our growing economic problems on a daily basis, even I didn’t expect to see a number anywhere near this bad.  Sometimes a really bad number from one part of the U.S. can drag down the overall number, but that wasn’t the case this time.  According to Reuters, there were “sharp declines in all four regions”…

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a more than 2-1/2-year low in October amid sharp declines in all four regions, further evidence that higher mortgage rates were hurting the housing market.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new home sales dropped 8.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 units last month. That was the lowest level since March 2016. The percent drop was the biggest since December 2017.

But of course it isn’t as if this latest report is coming out of nowhere.  The truth is that new home sales have fallen in four of the last six months, and so a very clear trend is now developing.

Sadly, most mainstream economists still don’t seem to be understanding what is happening.  According to Reuters, the consensus estimate was that we would see new home sales rise 3.7 percent in October, and so an 8.9 percent plunge came as a real shock.

New home sales have now missed expectations for seven months in a row, and the similarities to 2008 are starting to become undeniable.

Sales of previously owned homes have been falling as well.  In fact, in October we witnessed the largest drop for previously owned home sales in four years

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes posted their largest annual decline since 2014 in October, as the housing market continues to sputter due to higher mortgage rates that are reducing home affordability.

If you want to blame someone for this mess, blame the Federal Reserve.

They created a “boom” in the housing market by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama years, and now they are creating a “bust” by aggressively jacking up interest rates at a pace that our economy simply cannot handle.

If we had allowed the free market to be setting interest rates all this time, we would not be on such a roller coaster ride.

Just like during “Housing Bubble 1”, millions of Americans have been buying houses that they cannot afford, and that could mean another massive wave of mortgage defaults as this new economic downturn intensifies.  At this point, the debt to income ratio for mortgages insured by the FHA is at an all-time record high

One worrying indicator: The average debt-to-income ratio for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which makes up about 22% of the housing market, is now at its highest level ever.

This is yet another indication that we are even more vulnerable than we were just prior to the subprime mortgage meltdown during the last financial crisis.

Let me try to shed some light on what is coming next.  Even if economic conditions remained stable, housing prices would need to start falling dramatically in order to attract buyers.  In fact, we are already starting to see this happen in southern California and other markets that were once extremely “hot”.  As housing prices fall, millions of Americans will suddenly find themselves “underwater” on their mortgages.  In other words, they will owe more on their homes than their homes are worth.  During the last recession, many “underwater” homeowners ultimately decided to walk away rather than continue to service ridiculously bloated mortgages.

But the truth is that economic conditions are not likely to remain stable.  In fact, many are projecting that the approaching downturn will be even worse than 2008.

In such a scenario, millions of Americans will lose their jobs, and that means that millions of Americans will suddenly not be able to make their mortgage payments.  As a result, mortgage defaults will skyrocket and home prices will drop like a rock.  Just like last time around, there could be people that wake up one day and realize that they owe two or three times as much money on their mortgages as their homes are currently worth, and the stampede of people walking away from “underwater” mortgages could become an avalanche.

Needless to say, millions of mortgages suddenly going bad is a scenario that our financial system is not equipped to handle.  What happened in 2008 was absolutely catastrophic for our large financial institutions, and what is coming is going to be even worse.

Of course the big financial institutions will want the federal government to bail them out, but there may not be much of an appetite for more corporate bailouts this time around.

And considering the fact that we are already 22 trillion dollars in debt, we can’t exactly afford to be throwing money around.

The Federal Reserve has set the stage for a giant mess, and it is going to shake the housing industry to the core.

We should have learned from the mistakes that we made in 2008, but we didn’t, and so now we are going to pay a very great price for our negligence.

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Stock Market Crash: The Dow Has Fallen Nearly 2,500 Points And FAANG Stocks Have Lost A TRILLION Dollars In Value

 

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

Thanksgiving week was not supposed to be like this.  Normally things are slow in the days leading up to Thanksgiving as investors prepare to gorge themselves with turkey and stuffing as they gather with family and friends.  But this year the stock market is crashing, and Wall Street is in panic mode.  On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 24,465.64, which is nearly 2,500 points lower than the all-time high of 26,951.81 that was set in early October.  But as I noted yesterday, what has been happening to tech stocks is even more dramatic.  Each one of the FAANG stocks is now down by more than 20 percent, and they have combined to lose more than a trillion dollars in value.  We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008, and at this point all of Wall Street’s gains for 2018 have been completely wiped out.

“FANG” is an acronym representing the most popular and best performing tech stocks in the market that have generated spectacular returns for their investors. The four stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google/Alphabet — all trade on the NASDAQ, which measures the performance of more than 3,000 tech and growth stocks that are considered a reflection of the economy and capital market.

Fear is a very powerful motivator, and right now a lot of investors are feverishly getting out of the market because they are afraid of losing their paper profits.

One analyst is describing what is going on as a rush for the exits

“The highways will be crowded this evening as the Thanksgiving rush will begin in earnest, but this morning investors are rushing for the exits,” Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, wrote to clients on Tuesday.

But for many tech investors, the truth is that the cattle have already left the barn.

Just check out how much market capitalization the “big five” have already lost.  The following numbers come from CNBC

  • Facebook: $253 billion
  • Amazon: $280 billion
  • Apple: $253 billion
  • Netflix: $67 billion
  • (Google) Alphabet: $164 billion

When you add those figures together, you get a grand total of 1.02 trillion dollars.

If you were alive when Jesus was born, and you spent a million dollars every day since then, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars by now.

A trillion dollars is an amount of money so vast that it is difficult to comprehend, and those that hesitated to sell at the peak of the market mania are never going to get that money back.

And many believe that the tech losses are just beginning because several of these companies have now entered “death cross” territory

This could be the final nail in the coffin for the FANG trade.

Three of the companies within the big-tech quartet have entered into death crosses, with FacebookNetflix and Google parent Alphabet seeing their 50-day moving averages cross below their 200-day moving averages.

We shall see what happens in the days ahead, but right now things do not look good.

Apple was supposed to be the strongest and most profitable of the FANG companies, but slowing sales have suddenly changed everything.  In fact, Goldman Sachs just cut their price target for the stock…

Goldman Sachs slashed its Apple price target on Tuesday. The firm said in a note there is a “weakness in demand for Apple’s products in China and other emerging markets,” as well as a disappointing reception for the iPhone XR model.

As the trade war intensifies, many in China have been encouraging a boycott of American goods.

Could this be one of the reasons why Apple phone sales are slowing over there?

The trade war is also being singled out as one of the reasons why the stock market as a whole is falling.  The following comes from CNN

The losses have been sparked by a flurry of concerns about everything from higher interest rates and crashing oil prices to the US-China trade war. But the overarching theme is that investors are bracing for the end of the fantastic economic and profit growth that marked the past year. Analysts expect a deceleration in 2019 driven by tariffs, the fading impact of the tax cuts and higher borrowing costs caused by the Federal Reserve.

“Put simply, stocks have already started to price in the risk of an economic slowdown,” Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin wrote to clients on Tuesday.

Ultimately, people buy stocks because they believe in the future.  If investors believe that they will get more money back than they are originally investing, they will buy stocks.  But if they don’t believe that will be the case, they won’t buy stocks.

For a long time, there was a tremendous amount of optimism about the future on Wall Street, but now that has disappeared.  Without that relentless optimism, it is inevitable that stock ratios will return to their long-term averages, and the S&P 500 sales to price ratio is telling us that stock prices still have a very long way to fall.

But our system will not be able to handle a decline of that magnitude.  There is more leverage on Wall Street today than ever before, and a huge decline in stock prices would lead to a meltdown unlike anything we have ever witnessed.

If we break 20,000 on the Dow, the panic on Wall Street will be off the charts, and the flow of credit will be absolutely strangled. As a result, economic activity would crash at a pace that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

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Study: Nearly ALL mass shootings since 1950 occurred in ‘gun-free zones’

(National SentinelEasy targets: They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result or outcome.

Given that, you could certainly say the Left’s default “solution” to the problem of mass shootings — more gun-free zones — is insane.

A new study proves that. Again.

Findings from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) show that 97.8 percent of mass shootings over a 68-year period occurred in “gun-free zones.”

Awr Hawkins notes:

These include the Virginia Tech University attack, which killed 32 (April 16, 2007); the Fort Hood attack, which killed 13 (November 5, 2009); the Aurora movie theater attack, which killed 12 (July 20, 2012); the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack, which killed 26 (December 12, 2014); the D.C. Navy Yard attack, which killed 13 (September 16, 2013); the Chattanooga military base attack, which killed 5 (July 16, 2015); the Umpqua Community College attack, which killed 9 (October 1, 2015); the San Bernardino attack, which killed 14 (December 2, 2015); the Orlando Pulse attack, which killed 49 (June 12, 2016); the Parkland high school attack, which killed 17 (February 14, 2018); and the Santa Fe High School attack, which killed 10 (May 18, 2018).

One of the purposes of the CPRC report was to refute errors in an earlier study issued by Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

“Everytown for Gun Safety’s recent report on mass shootings contains many errors. In addition, it muddies the discussion on mass public shootings by including shootings in private homes.”

“There is a distinction between what motivates mass public shooters who are committing their crimes to get media attention and those who shoot in private residences,” the group added.

The facts are clear: In places where guns are the least prevalent, more people are killed because no one can defend themselves.

Why is it that Americans are incapable of understanding this?

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PENTAGON’S ‘LOST’ TRILLIONS WENT TO BENEFICIARIES IN US MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

<i>The Pentagon, Image Source: <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindfrieze/2196640900'>Flickr</a></i>
Ron Paul – November 23, 2018

Former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul has said that “the Pentagon’s lost trillions have nothing to do with defense, adding that the “money propping up the high lifestyles of those connected to the military-industrial complex.”

Dr. Paul, a three-time American presidential candidate and the founder of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, made the remarks in an article published by his website on Monday.

Deputy US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has recently acknowledged that the Pentagon has failed its first-ever comprehensive audit, saying, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”

“It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial,” Shanahan claimed.

The first-ever audit of the of the $2.7 trillion enterprise that is the Pentagon identified widespread problems in cybersecurity, but found little in the way of savings that could offset potential budget cuts next year, according to officials.

Pentagon’s comptroller David Norquist, who has played a key role in the audit, said after the report release that although no glaring instances of fraud were detected in the US military establishment, its Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Special Operations and the Transportation Command all received failing grades.

In his article, Dr. Paul wrote that “the results are as many of us expected. After spending nearly a billion dollars to find out what has happened to trillions in unaccounted-for spending, the long look through the books has concluded that only ten percent of all Pentagon agencies pass muster.”

The political commentator stated that “the neocons love to throw out bogeymen like China and Russia as excuses for more military spending, but in fact they are hardly objective observers. Look at how much the military contractors spend funding the neocon publications and neocon think tanks telling us that we need more military spending! All this money is stolen from the productive economy and diverted to enrich neocon cheerleaders at our expense.”

“Of course the real problem with the Pentagon and military spending in general is not waste, fraud, and abuse,” he wrote. “The problem with military spending is the philosophy that drives it.”

“If the US strategy is to maintain a global military empire, there will never be enough spending. Because there is never enough to control every corner of the globe. But if we are to return to a well-defended republic, military spending could easily be reduced by 75 percent while keeping us completely safe. The choice is ours!” he concluded.

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Libya, seven years on: A shame for the West

10-27-2018 – After Messrs. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy committed a spectacular mission creep violating the terms of the UN Charter and the UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011), I wrote the following indictment along with some colleagues.

http://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/columnists/06-11-2011/119534-indictment_nato-0/

Needless to say, the European Court of Human Rights did not accept it and the ICC at The Hague likewise. But how  can a handful of war criminals invade a country, committing the acts named in the indictment among many others, and walk around today as if nothing had happened?

To put things into context, let us study a few figures about Libya in 2010 (the year before the unrest spurred on by the West in which terrorists were armed and abetted, terrorists on the FUKUS Axis own lists of proscribed groups, to destabilize the country).

GDP down from 188 bn. To 64

GDP in billion USD in 2010 was 187.8. In 2017 it was 64.4. GDP per capita in 2010 was 31,094 USD. In 2017 it was 9,986 USD, more than three times less. The inflation rate jumped from 2.5% in 2010 to a staggering  28% in 2017. The budget balance as a percentage of GDP was a positive 12.5% in 2010 and in 2017 it was 43.2% negative.

In 2010, under Muammar al-Qadafi, homelessness was at zero percent. Homes were guaranteed and free. Electricity was free. Bank loans carried a zero per cent interest rate. Farmers were given land, a house, seeds and equipment for free to set up farms in the interior of the country, where the Great Man-Made River irrigated the Sahara. NATO bombed the water supply network, bombed the tubes factory so it could not be repaired then bombed the electricity grid “to break their backs”.

Newly married couples received 50,000 USD, education was free, medical care was free. Higher education was free and students who wished to study abroad received 2,300 USD per month and a car allowance. Libyans who needed healthcare abroad travelled for free and their treatment was paid by the State.

Unemployed graduates received the average salary for the profession they wished to practice until they found a job. The State paid 50% of the price of a car. Mothers were paid 5,000 USD upon the birth of a child. To put this into context, a one could buy three loaves of bread with one US cent. Before al-Qadafi, 75% of Libyans could not read or write. Today the literacy rate is 100% among youths and 87% nationally. The external debt of Libya was zero and it had reserves of 150 billion USD. The FUKUS Axis stole this and today the country’s reserves remain frozen.

As said above, Libya had the highest Human Development Index in Africa and Muammar al-Qadafi was to receive a prize from the United Nations Organization for his development work. His crime? To be planning to drop the US Dollar for transactions and replace it with an African currency, which would have deprived the Western bankers of billions of dollars. His e-learning projects and telemedicine networks set up in Africa were already depriving western telecoms giants many millions in lost revenue.

Libya today does not have the resources to deal with illegal migrants, trafficked by gangs who are selling them as slaves in open-air markets, Libya today does not have the resources to deal with terrorism, Libya today does not have a budget to pay for what it needs to guarantee national security.

Today, power and the executive capacity in Libya is divided between the Tobruk-based Government and the National Libyan Army supported by Al-Qadafi loyalists, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya and the Warshefana militias; the Government of National Accord supported by the Misrata Brigares, the Zintan Brigades, the Amazigh Militias, the Toubou Militias, the Tuareg Militias, the Tripoli Brigade, and the Presidential Guard, among others; the National Salvation Government, supported by the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna, Ansar al-Sharia in Derna, the Abu Salim Martyrs; Islamic State (ISIL), divided into Wilayat Barqa, Wilayat Tripolitania and Wilayat Fezzan and supported by AQIM.

What a mess? Thank France, the UK and USA for that, thank Obama, Clinton, Cameron and Sarkozy and those mentioned in the indictment. All of them are walking around Scot-free as if nothing had happened. And what is the international community going to do about it?

Right, nothing. Welcome to Planet Earth 2018 but do NOT tell me that international law exists or that the West respects any form of the law.

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