Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly:

“We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand.

“No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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Venezuela – US Attack Imminent?

Peter Koenig – February 21, 2019

Imagine, the President of the self-declared, exceptional and unique Superpower, Donald Trump of the United States of America, has the audacity to threaten the Venezuelan military with their lives, if they keep standing behind the democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, and defending his Government. An open threat – yesterday, 18 February, at a Miami University, in a speech of ‘fire and fury’; this time against socialist Venezuela with which he wants to finish, like with all other socialist nations – especially those in his ‘backyard’. So, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia are next in Trump’s crosshairs – and / or the crosshairs of his handlers. Don’t forget, he is a staged and convenient fool for the “Deep State” or the “Profound Government” – whatever you want to call this secret clan of the Chosen People that intends to rule the world.

I cannot help being amazed at what level of inhumanity we have arrived. Trump calls openly out to assassinate those who stand behind the legitimate President of Venezuela – and the rest of the world just looks on, watches and says NOTHING – tolerates such atrocity coming from the mouth of a buffoon, aka the strongman of the self-proclaimed one and only superpower of the globe. – No, much worse – the so-called civilized west, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan – and some second- and third class puppet developing countries from South America, whose people are being starved while the elite admires and dances to the tune of the USA; united in what they call the “Group of Lima” (created in Lima in August 2017, to “safe” Venezuela). Members include, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

In the meantime, Mexico, under her new leftwing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or simply, AMLO, abstains from any decision against Venezuela. To the contrary, Mexico is part of the “Montevideo Mechanism” that comprises Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the member countries of CARICOM and seeks conflict resolution through dialogue with the opposition, for which the Maduro Government has been ready from the beginning of the conflict, but which has been boycotted by the opposition, as were the 20 May 2018 elections which the non-participating opposition now calls a fraud.

Trump the Buffoon calls for outright war against the Maduro regime – and to salvage the Venezuelan people, he sent US$ 20 million worth of “humanitarian aid” to Cucutá, border town in Colombia, which, of course, the Bolivarian army does not let enter Venezuela. There is no need for humanitarian aid, let alone for US$ 20 million worth, peanuts, as compared to what Venezuela buys on a daily basis in food and medical supplies.

Undeniably, the US warmongers – specially Bolton, Pompeo and Pence – are preparing for a hot war. Whether they will execute it, remains to be seen. But the Bolivarian military does not idly watch what may happen. They are ready to face any Yankee aggression. The US southern military command, SOUTHCOM, stationed in Florida, is preparing an impressive military build-up. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, with 3,200 military personnel, 90 fighter planes and helicopters is positioned off the Florida coast, accompanied by the cruise missile carrier, USS Leyte Gulf, and the destroyers, USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason, and USS Nite. Joining the fleet is also the Spanish marine ship ESPS Mendez Nuñez.

The Spanish participation in this war game of criminal aggression is outrageous. The Spanish socialist leader, Pedro Sanchez (who certainly does not deserve the attribute of ‘socialist’), has also had the audacity requesting Nicolas Maduro to resign and call elections. Who is the (faltering) head of the fallen Spanish empire to meddle in another country’s internal affairs? – Maybe because the Spaniards can still not stomach having been defeated by Simón Bolívar, still feel superior and behave racist over the ‘brown’ Latinos, or maybe because he wants to please the masters in Washington – or simply because he needs popular support in his own country, as he is leading a minority, currently non-government and had to call snap elections for 28 April 2019?

There are, however, also Russia and China, solid, but rather quiet partners of Venezuela’s. Russia has made it clear, though, “Don’t mess with Venezuela”. Russia has two nuclear capable bombers, TU-160, deployed to the Venezuelan Caribbean island of la Orchila, where Moscow will establish, with the agreement of Venezuela, a permanent military base.

Both Russia and China have tens of billions worth of investments in Venezuela’s hydrocarbon industry. But besides the commercial interests, Russia and China vie for a multipolar world and want to guarantee the independence of Latin America, the sovereignty of the peoples of the Americas.

On 26 January 2019, the US dragged the “Case Venezuela” to the UN Security Council, in an attempt to condemn Venezuela and to trailblaze the path for a military invasion. However, while nine of the 15 UNSC members voted for a special meeting on Venezuela (Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, United States), four voted against (China, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa), with two abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia). The Russian Federation’s delegate countered that the Council has no role to play in a domestic matter that poses no threat to international peace and security. And right he is!

This UNSC event prompted a solidarity movement of more than 50 states, including China, Russia, Cuba, DPRK, Syria, Iran, Palestine, Nicaragua, and many more, supporting Venezuelan’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza’s statement before the Security Council, declaring the illegality of unilateral coercive economic sanctions, and territorial invasions by the United States. As Carla Stea reports, this new alliance “constitutes a formidable force which Western capitalism will antagonize at its own peril.

This new alignment of more than 50 states comprise more than half of the world’s population, to a large extent people who have been exploited, slaughtered and their countries raped and ravaged for hundreds of years by western capitalist and colonialist powers. This alliance promises to become a solid new face in the otherwise western dominated and bought United Nations.

As to Venezuela’s fate, Trump has made vague indications of 23 February being the deadline for an assault on Venezuela. We will see whether this remains nothing but an intimidating insinuation, or whether it will be real. The latter case would be a disaster not only for Venezuela, and Latin America, but for the entire world. Will Trump’s handlers allow such blunder? – In any case, Venezuela’s armed forces are disposed to confront the empire’s nuclear aircraft carrier, missile launchers, countless fighter planes and the up to 5,000 US troops and mercenaries newly stationed in Colombia and ready to cross the border into Venezuela. – And, not to forget, there are also Russia and China.

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Russia is not an enemy of the US, but it will not be banging on a locked door – Putin

Russia is not an enemy of the US, but it will not be banging on a locked door – Putin
Despite anti-Russian actions by the US and its allies, Moscow still wants to have friendly relations with Washington, but it will neither knock on a locked door nor compromise its safety, President Vladimir Putin said.

Delivering a speech on the state of the nation on Wednesday, Putin explained how Russia would react to a possible deployment of US intermediate-range missiles in Europe, which will be made possible by Washington’s imminent withdrawal from the INF Treaty. He stressed the countermeasures planned by Russia should not be mistaken for an act of aggression.

“They call Russia pretty much the biggest threat to the US. I can tell it straight – that is not true. Russia wants a fulfilling equal and friendly relationship with the United States. Russia is not threatening anyone. All our actions in the security sphere are responsive and defensive in nature,” Putin said.

The Russian president accused part of the US leadership for deteriorating relations, saying those people ignored Russia’s security concerns to pursue their own geopolitical goals.

The people we deal with are energetic and very talented. Yet, the American ruling class has too many people obsessed with the idea of exceptionalism, superiority over the rest of the world. It’s their right to think what they want.

“But can they count? I bet they can. So, let them count the range and speed of our advanced weapon systems, that’s all we ask for. Let them count first and only then take decisions, which would pose additional and significant threats to our country,” Putin said.

Also on rt.com Putin’s annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly as it happened He stressed that Moscow is not seeking confrontation and is open to reducing its nuclear arsenal, as long as it finds in Washington a proper partner to negotiate with.

“We are prepared to negotiate on nuclear reduction, but we will no longer bang on a locked door. We will wait till our partners are ready, until they realize the need for a dialogue of equals on this issue,” he said.

We need peace for a long-term sustained development. All our work on increasing our defense has only one goal – to ensure the safety of our nation and our people. To make sure that nobody would even think about aggression against Russia, or even to attempt to use military force to pressure our country.

The keynote speech delivered by Putin on Wednesday was an annual address to the Federal Assembly, which is both chambers of the Russian parliament collectively. Scrapping of the INF Treaty was the biggest foreign relations issue mentioned by Putin.

Also on rt.com Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers He warned Russia will develop and deploy its own missiles of the kind banned by the treaty, if the US places its projectiles in Europe, as was the case during the height of Cold War.

Putin said not only the missile launch sites, but also the command-and-control centers, from which an order to launch them can come, will be considered a legitimate target by Moscow.

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Libya: The effects of the Hand of The Satan (= the U.S.)

2-6-2019 – Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

 

In 2011, NATO launched an illegal, savage attack against the country with the Highest Human Development Index in Africa. Let us see where Libya stands today.

When Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama, Clinton and that sickening clique of warmongering, interfering, imperialist thugs decided to attack Libya in 2011, in an attack planned and orchestrated for months in advance, they told us their fight was not against the people of Libya. Considering the state of  Libya today, who were they fooling and who is suffering? Under international law regarding the scope of applicability, there are rules as to the wanton and brazen use of force turning a peaceful situation into an ongoing theater of conflict. Why then have those responsible not been held to account?

The indictment and the tens of thousands of comments:

The names are clear to see in my indictment of NATO’s political and military leadership in 2011, a document which was sent to the ICC at The Hague and the European Court of Human Rights. As predicted, it did not even merit the courtesy of a reply. The tens of thousands of comments and materials produced by readers over the years were zapped from the Internet numerous times.

Libya, in 2011 and under Muammar al-Gaddafi, was the African country with the highest Human Development Index, for which Gaddafi was about to receive a United Nations Prize at the time of the savage attack by NATO, an attack launched to protect the terrorists NATO had planned to orchestrate from the west (Tunisia) and east (Egypt). At the time, Libyans were well fed, they had homes (free), education (free), healthcare (free), a good water supply and Libya was a filter and staging post for migrants moving towards Europe.

From prosperity to misery – the hand of NATO

Libyans lived in safety, whereas today they need protection. Today the poor people are sold as slaves or tortured or raped. Or all three. Or murdered. Libyans enjoyed free public healthcare and paid public healthcare abroad if they could not get the treatment they needed in Libya. Today the healthcare system has collapsed. Libyans used to enjoy a plentiful food supply and prided themselves on offering guests copious portions of their national dishes. Today a third of the population is hungry or starving. Libyans benefited from Gaddafi’s great manmade water supply across the desert, bringing clean water to the cities and countryside alike. Today an increasing number of people have no access to clean drinking water.

NATO destroyed all of that. They bombed the water supply, then bombed the factory producing pipes so that it could not be repaired, they strafed the electricity grid “to break their backs”, murdered Gaddafi’s grandchildren because they were classified as “legitimate targets”, murdered civilians, told lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie about the Government forces attacking indiscriminately when all they were doing was trying to stem the onslaught of foreign terrorists shipped in to do NATO’s dirty work, orchestrated by NATO boots on the ground, in direct breach of UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011).

Let us now take a look at Libya, 2019, and draw some conclusions as to who is responsible and as to why these people are not facing the consequences of what they have done. Before we start, we can conclude that if nothing has happened to them, if they have not even been the subject of due legal process, then international law per se does not exist, and therefore using it as a precept is a fallacy and pointless. Therefore on this case lies the entire moral fiber of NATO’s international standing and the countries which fund and follow its policies of interference, intrusion and military intervention.

NATO’s Libya: Chaos, collapse, calamity

The key-words describing Libya today are chaos, breakdown of the law, collapse of the State, massive displacement, danger, insecurity, hunger, murder, slavery, slave markets, a dysfunctional economy, deteriorating public sector. What a spectacular epitaph for Messrs. Cameron, Sarkozy, Obama and Madame Senator Clinton (whose infamous comment was “We came, we saw, he died” accompanied with her uproarious outburst of laughter).

552,000 people in need of urgent humanitarian need, 823,000 in need of humanitarian assistance, including 248,000 children. Out of a population of some 6.37 million. The international media has forgotten the story because it is embarrassing to NATO. Politicians across the world refuse to bring it up because they are threatened; the international community sniffs in derision.

Which leaves people like myself, and others, and media outlets such as this, and others, to carry the story, amid death threats, hacking, harassment, threatening emails, interference in communications and so on.

The direct consequence of NATO’s savage interference in Libya is abject misery for large swathes of the Libyan population. In the words of Maria do Valle Ribeiro, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, “Seven years of instability and insecurity have taken their toll on the well-being of many children, women and men in Libya. Each passing year people struggle to withstand the impacts of the crisis that has destabilized the country, put them in harm’s way, driven up food prices, and ravaged the economy”.

Way to go, NATO!

Where Libyans once lived in peace and security, safe to go wherever they wished, today the norm for many is torture, rape, murder, robbery, unlawful detention and shocking human rights abuses. Way to go, NATO! Where Libyans once enjoyed free public healthcare, with facilities present throughout the country, today the healthcare service is centered around the al-Jalaa public hospital in Tripoli, as even the basic healthcare facilities have been largely destroyed in the rest of the country, either directly by NATO (strafing hospitals and care centers) or by the violence which ensued the collapse of the Jamahiriya State. Way to go, NATO!

Where Libyans once enjoyed markets brimming with fresh produce grown in Libya after Gaddafi’s green agricultural revolution, providing land, seeds and know-how to farmers wishing to developed the Sahara, today one third of the population is classified by the UNO as living on borderline starvation, as Libyan households spend over half their income on basic foodstuffs and people are forced to adopt coping strategies, such as eating once per day and filling up with flour and water flatbreads. Way to go, NATO!

Where Libyans once had access to the purest water from underground springs brought to households through the Great Manmade River Project, this was bombed by NATO (war crime), as was the factory which made the pipes (war crime), depriving the people of the basic necessity for human life – water (war crime), relegating households with babies to lives of misery (war crime). Today a growing number of people do not have access to clean drinking water, and worse, the sewage system has collapsed in some areas, prompting the UNO to describe the situation as “alarming”. Way to go, NATO!

Where Libyans once lived in their own houses, free of debt, because the government distributed a home to every Libyan citizen/family, today homelessness is rife, with people huddling in deplorable shelters, without water, sanitation or the basic living conditions. Way to go, NATO!

Where Libyans once studied for free (education was free, literacy was close to 100 per cent) today in the Cordoba public school, as an example, 1,500 children share three toilets without running water and for entertainment in the breaks, the children can opt to sit inside stinking classrooms or else go and play in the school playground, which is today an open sewer knee-deep in excrement. Way to go, NATO! Today 343,300 people of school age do not have access to education or literacy, whereas under Gaddafi the country’s literacy rate grew from 25% to over 90%. Way to go, NATO!

In the words of the UN Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro “Years of instability and insecurity have taken a toll on the wellbeing of many children, women and men in Libya. Each passing year, people struggle to withstand the impact of a crisis that has destabilized the country, put them in harm’s way, and ravaged the economy.”

Whereas under Gaddafi, oil revenue funded public projects, imagine where the revenue from today’s one million barrels of oil per day is going? Let us turn again to Ms. Ribeiro: “Libya is now producing well over one million barrels of oil a day. However, this has not yet translated into tangible benefits for people. Many Libyans get poorer every year. Basic health and education services decay, and frustrated citizens cannot understand why oil production and increased government revenue does not lead to improved living standards, security and well-being for all in Libya”.

I invite those who caused this humanitarian catastrophe to man up and visit Libya, speak to Libyans, walk around the country and see what their NATO has done, then apologize publicly for their despicable acts and fund the reconstruction out of their own pockets, then turn themselves in for crimes against humanity and war crimes, along with common criminal and civil law violations.

They will not. They will just carry on as if nothing had happened, and international law will turn a blind eye to their crimes. Nobody will prosecute them, the media will drop the case. Welcome to Planet Earth 2019. Let this article be the political epitaph for those in my indictment of 2011, and a comment on this planet for future generations to come.

13. For he (the enemy – i.e., NATO) says, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a mighty man:

14. “And my hand has found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathers eggs that are left, have I gathered all the land; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.”

Isaiah 10:13-14

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CNN, Satan, Putin, and God

Press conference cameras indoor

2-5-19 Phil Butler

CNN reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin, without so much as a wave of his mighty hand, is now the cause of the fall of western civilization. You think I am kidding? We’ve known all along this was coming. Meanwhile, the people who own the CNNs of the world rip apart people’s belief in God. No, I am not kidding.

“Another good day for Putin as turmoil grips US and UK,” that’s the snappy title CNN analyst Stephen Collinson labeled the network’s latest fake Putin news with. According to Collinson, Britain having the worst Prime Minister ever, and America’s being run by a narcissist nincompoop equals “Putin done it.” Here’s the gist of his argument:

“In London, Theresa May on Tuesday suffered the worst defeat in the modern parliamentary era by a prime minister…..The United States, meanwhile, remains locked in its longest-ever government shutdown, which is now entering its 26th day…” 

The CNN political genius fails to mention the decades of economic and political malfeasance as the possible cause of the Anglo-European meltdown we’re all seeing. The author goes on to paint 21st-century America and the UK as shining beacons of truth, justice, and prosperity but that pesky Russian leader is all the more diabolical. Collinson resurrects the dead spirits of such noted leaders as Winston Churchill and FDR, melding their fame in with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan – dragonslayers who bested the evil U-S-S-R! Give me a break.

This dotard’s theory that Putin is destroying the west is based on the convoluted idea that those who have ruled the last 70 years deserve our loyalty and we should spur their comeback – SAVE ROME! I can just hear the CNN board chanting. According to Collinson, Putin is a “heartbroken KGB agent bent on bringing back the Soviet Union.” Seriously, does anybody ever take a close look at these politicians and so-called experts of the media? Come on, one look at former Vice-President Dick Cheney told me all I needed to know about evil.

Moving forward, we are better off judging reality by the looks of people, places, and things rather than reading or listening to the biggest liars the world has ever known. Before the EU and America orchestrated a coup in Ukraine, Collinson was reporting about Obama donut runs for French press. Now CNN readers are supposed to base their opinion of the waking world on his latest Russophobia rant. Meanwhile, in Kiev, the globalist takeover continues with Petro Poroshenko ripping that nation’s heritage, culture, and religion to shreds.

Here’s what president Putin said about the move by Kiev:

“It is a blatant interference and those who initiated it seem to have learned from the godless people of the last century.”

Western reporting and the dissemination of information have turned into absolute advertising and political propaganda. The average citizen is now in a system where it is as easy to believe in alien lizard people, or that Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin wringing his hands and smiling like Dr. Evil every morning when he arrives at work. Meanwhile CNN reports the fall of the Anglo-European Empire caused by Russian Internet trolls.

I leave you to decide who the real bad guys are. On one side of this dilemma, we have a dogma that tells us that we should welcome the chance to teach our little boys and our little girls they should consider a sex change before the age of 10. On the other side, there is a tradition that teaches people to be more Christlike and to adhere to a moral code. Which message do we follow? Go ahead then, say “The devil made me do it,” if things turn out badly.

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US MILITARY IN 177 COUNTRIES – AND EXPANDING. WHY?

US Military Presence in Africa: All Over Continent and Still Expanding

Arkady SAVITSKY – Strategic Culture Foundation  8-30-2018

Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. Those forces utilize several hundred military installations. Africa is no exemption. On August 2, Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier took command of US Army Africa, promising to “hit the ground running.”

The US is not waging any wars in Africa but it has a significant presence on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special ops are currently conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time, waging secret, limited-scale operations. According to the magazine Vice, US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day — an astounding 1,900% increase since the command rolled out 10 years ago. Many activities described as “advise and assist” are actually indistinguishable from combat by any basic definition.

There are currently roughly 7,500 US military personnel, including 1,000 contractors, deployed in Africa. For comparison, that figure was only 6,000 just a year ago. The troops are strung throughout the continent spread across 53 countries. There are 54 countries on the “Dark Continent.” More than 4,000 service members have converged on East Africa. The US troop count in Somalia doubled last year.

When AFRICOM was created there were no plans to establish bases or put boots on the ground. Today, a network of small staging bases or stations have cropped up. According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, “US military bases (including forward operating sites, cooperative security locations, and contingency locations) in Africa number around fifty, at least.” US troops in harm’s way in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Tunisia, and Uganda qualify for extra pay.

The US African Command (AFRICOM) runs drone surveillance programs, cross-border raids, and intelligence. AFRICOM has claimed responsibility for development, public health, professional and security training, and other humanitarian tasks. Officials from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, and Justice, among other agencies, are involved in AFRICOM activities. Military attachés outnumber diplomats at many embassies across Africa.

Last October, four US soldiers lost their lives in Niger. The vast majority of Americans probably had no idea that the US even had troops participating in combat missions in Africa before the incident took place. One serviceman was reported dead in Somalia in June. The Defense Department is mulling plans to “right-size” special operations missions in Africa and reassign troops to other regions, aligning the efforts with the security priorities defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. That document prioritizes great power competition over defeating terrorist groups in remote corners of the globe. Roughly 1,200 special ops troops on missions in Africa are looking at a drawdown. But it has nothing to do with leaving or significantly cutting back. And the right to unilaterally return will be reserved. The infrastructure is being expanded enough to make it capable of accommodating substantial reinforcements. The construction work is in progress. The bases will remain operational and their numbers keep on rising.

A large drone base in Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, is reported to be under construction. The facility will host armed MQ-9 Reaper drones which will finally take flight in 2019. The MQ-9 Reaper has a range of 1,150 miles, allowing it to provide strike support and intelligence-gathering capabilities across West and North Africa from this new base outside of Agadez. It can carry GBU-12 Paveway II bombs. The aircraft features synthetic aperture radar for integrating GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The armament suite can include four Hellfire air-to-ground anti-armor and anti-personnel missiles. There are an estimated 800 US troops on the ground in Niger, along with one drone base and the base in Agadez that is being built. The Hill called it “the largest US Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

According to Business Insider, “The US military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent US base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.” Four thousand American servicemen are stationed at Camp Lemonnier (the US base located near Djibouti City) — a critical strategic base for the American military because of its port and its proximity to the Middle East.

Officially, the camp is the only US base on the continent or, as AFRICOM calls it, “a forward operating site,” — the others are “cooperative security locations” or “non-enduring contingency locations.” Camp Lemonnier is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa that are used for aerial attacks against insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, as well as for exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. In 2014, the US signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.

In March, the US and Ghana signed a military agreement outlining the conditions of the US military presence in that nation, including its construction activities. The news was met with protests inside the country.

It should be noted that the drone attacks that are regularly launched in Africa are in violation of US law. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), adopted after Sept. 11, 2001, states that the president is authorized to use force against the planners of those attacks and those who harbor them. But that act does not apply to the rebel groups operating in Africa.

It’s hard to believe that the US presence will be really diminished, and there is no way to know, as too many aspects of it are shrouded in secrecy with nothing but “leaks” emerging from time to time. It should be noted that the documents obtained by TomDispatch under the United States Freedom of Information Act contradict AFRICOM’s official statements about the scale of US military bases around the world, including 36 AFRICOM bases in 24 African countries that have not been previously disclosed in official reports.

The US foothold in Africa is strong. It’s almost ubiquitous. Some large sites under construction will provide the US with the ability to host large aircraft and accommodate substantial forces and their hardware. This all prompts the still-unanswered question — “Where does the US have troops in Africa, and why?” One thing is certain — while waging an intensive drone war, the US is building a vast military infrastructure for a large-scale ground war on the continent.

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Washington Is World’s Worst Warmonger

Washington Resurrected the Arms Race

Paul Craig Roberts – February 1, 2019

The meetings in Beijing during January 30-31 between Washington, Russia, China, France and the UK apparently failed to preserve the commitment to prohibit intermediate range nuclear weapons. Washington stuck to its determination to withdraw from the historic agreement of Reagan and Gorbachev to destroy all land-based intermediate range nuclear missiles. This US withdrawal from a nuclear weapons reduction agreement follows the George W. Bush/Cheney regime’s withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Indeed, since the Clinton regime, every US president has produced worsening trust between the two major nuclear powers.

No good can come of this as Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at the Beijing meeting.

The intermediate range nuclear missile treaty (INF) does not involve US security. It protects Europe from Russian missiles and Russia from US missiles stationed in Europe. Trump’s announcement that he is breaking free of the treaty tells the Russians that they are going to have missiles on their borders that allow them no response time. The Europeans are crazy to go along with this as they will be targeted by Russia in turn, but the Europeans are Washington’s vassals.

Ever since Clinton broke Washington’s promise not to move NATO eastward, Russia has known that Washington seeks military advantage over Russia. By leaving the ABM treaty, the George W. Bush regime told Russia that Washington intended to gain superiority by constructing an anti-ballistic missile shield that would negate Russia’s retaliatory capability, thus subjecting Russia to nuclear blackmail.

Russia responded with new hypersonic ICBMs that cannot be intercepted and now holds nuclear superiority over the US, but does not exploit it. The US response is to tear up the INF treaty and put its missiles back on Russia’s borders.

Another way to look at the INF treaty’s demise is that the Obama regime committed one trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money (in addition to the annual one trillion dollar budget of the military/security complex) to build more nuclear weapons, none of which are needed as the US alone has enough to blow up the world several times. Breaking the INF treaty is a sure-fire way to initiate a new arms race which would provide justification for the trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money that Washington is handing over to the military/security complex for more nuclear weapons.

Yet another way to look at the demise of the treaty is that Washington wants out of the treaty so that it can deploy intermediate range missiles against China. Washington has actually drawn up plans for war against Russia and China and has conducted simulations of what the outcome would be. America wins, of course.

The dangerous idea that a nuclear war can be won has been pushed for some years by the neoconservatives who are committed to US hegemony over the world. This idea definitely serves the material interest of the military/security complex and is very popular among the power brokers in Washington.

Washington’s excuse for breaking the INF treaty is that Russia is cheating and has violated the treaty. But Russia has no interest in violating a treaty that protects Russia. Russia’s intermediate range missiles cannot reach the US, and the only reason Russia would target Europe would be to retaliate for Europe hosting US missiles on Russia’s borders.

The beneficiaries of a renewed nuclear arms race are the stockholders of the military/security complex. Washington is feeding their profits by placing humanity at greater risk of nuclear Armageddon. This makes the weapons the very opposite of security. Trump whose goal was to normalize relations with Russia is now under the thumb of the military/security complex and has announced US intentions to withdraw from the last remaining arms control agreement—the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The situation is serious. Very little is reported in US media of the resurrection of the nuclear arms race, and what is reported is blamed on Russia and China. Americans hear that it is China, not the US, that is militarizing the South China Sea and Russia that intends to restore the Soviet empire and that these intentions are threats to American national security. The evidence consists of assertion. The Russians have offered proof that they have not violated the INF treaty, but Washington doesn’t care because Washington is not leaving the treaty because of Russian violations.

Washington is leaving the treaty because Washington wants military hegemony over Russia and China and a good excuse to hand over another trillion dollars to the military/security complex. In the end capitalism does more than exploit labor. It ends life on earth

Traditionally, an aggressor paves the way to war with constant propaganda against the country to be attacked. The propaganda creates public support and justifies the attack. The constant stream of provocative accusations out of Washington against Russia and China (and Iran) in order to justify treaty breaking and higher armaments spending sounds to Russia and China like they are being set up for attack. It is reckless and irresponsible to convince nuclear powers that they are going to be attacked. There is no more certain way of producing war. Russia and China are hearing what Saddam Hussein heard, what Gaddafi heard, what Assad heard, what Iran hears. Unlike these victims of Washington, Russia and China have substantial offensive capability. When a country is convinced it is targeted for attack, does the country just sit there and await the attack?

Washington might be setting up America for a first strike with the extraordinary stream of accusations and provocations issuing from people too stupid to be in possession of nuclear weapons. In the nuclear era, it is reckless for a government to replace diplomacy with threats and coercion. Washington’s recklessness is the most dangerous threat that the world faces.

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A Lawless Government

by Paul Craig Roberts – 1-30-19

I remember when a suspect was regarded as innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. Today prosecutors convict their victims in the media in order to make an unbiased jury impossible and thereby coerce a plea bargain that saves the prosecutor from having to prove his case. In the United States law is no longer a shield of the people. Law is a weapon in the hands of prosecutors. (See Roberts & Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.)

Formerly, if a prosecutor staged an arrest for publicity purposes, as Mueller did by placing a CNN presstitute on the scene and sending a couple of dozen heavily armed men in a pre-dawn raid to arrest a well known political consultant for allegedly “lying to Congress” when the appropriate procedure is for Mueller to inform Stone’s lawyer to present his client for indictment, the judge would throw out the case on the grounds that the prosecutor’s unethical action had biased the juror pool and made a fair trial impossible. The judge might also have thrown out the case on the grounds of selective prosecution. James Clapper while serving as Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress under oath and suffered no consequences, and Hillary Clinton has clearly broken the law and lied about it.

Today judges permit unethical behavior by prosecutors that deprives defendants of a fair trial, because judges don’t want the bother of trials any more than prosecutors do. Consequently, according to official statistics 97% of federal criminal cases are settled by a defendant pleading guilty to a charge negotiated by his attorney and a prosecutor. As the charge is a negotiated or made-up one, most people in prison are there for confessing to crimes that never occurred.

Prosecutors, now that they are no longer bound by constraints of legal integrity, often fabricate a case against a person in order to force the person to give false testimony against the prosecutor’s real target. This is what Mueller’s cases against Cohen, Manafort, and Roger Stone are. Trump is the target, not Cohen, Manafort, and Stone. In addition, prosecutors string out the investigation so long that they force the target to use up his net worth fighting off an indictment. Then when the indictment arrives, there is no money left for lawyers, which adds to the pressure to “cooperate.” If Trump were a fighting man, he would pardon Cohen, Manafort, and Stone, reimburse them out of the Justice (sic) Department’s budget for their legal expenses, and have Mueller arrested for sedition and plotting to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States. This would be hypocritical as Trump himself is plotting to overthrow the duly elected president of Venezuela.

Mueller is not an agent of law. He is the agent of the military/security complex and the Democratic Party who intend to do away with Trump, because Trump positioned himself between them and their agendas.

The preposterous charge against Trump is that he, in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin somehow through computer hacking and backdoor deals stole the presidential election from Hillary Clinton. This is the fabrication known as “Russiagate.” The creation of this fabrication involves far more crimes than those of which Trump, Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are accused. “Russiagate” rests on a fake “dossier” paid for by the Democrats and perhaps the FBI that was used to mislead the FISA court in order to obtain permission to spy on the Trump team. This is a felony for which the officials responsible are not being charged. The spying failed to turn up any real evidence, and neither has Muller’s “investigation.” The charges against Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are unrelated to the election and are likely false and used as threats for the purpose of eliciting false testimony against Trump in exchange for dropping the charges.

Mueller’s tactics in his effort to frame the President of the United States are more despicable than the tactics to which the Gestapo stooped. Even worse, they are the tactics commonly in use today by US attorneys, and this evil has spread into state and local prosecutions. That prosecutors routinely behave in a way that once would have caused them to be dismissed from office shows the collapse of law and prosecutorial integrity in the United States.

The American and British media are as accommodating in the frameups as the German media was with the Nazi government. The Guardian, once an honest voice for the British working class, is now a propaganda sheet for British intelligence just as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR are for the CIA and FBI. The US media has never been very good, but until the Clinton regime during which 90 percent of the media was concentrated in six corporate hands, there was more than one explanation.

Since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, the media has been allied with the military/security complex and the Democratic Party in an effort to deep-six Trump. As I expected would be the case, Trump had no idea how to staff a government that would have supported him against the Establishment. He has been blocked on every front from normalizing relations with Russia to establishing control over US borders to withdrawal from Syria. The latest line from the military/security complex and the presstitutes is that the US cannot withdraw its troops illegally occupying a rump section of Syria, because ISIS is resurgent in Syria and Iraq and will renew the war if US troops are withdrawn.

This is nonsense. As General Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said on television, it was a willful decision of the Obama regime to send ISIS to overthrow Assad once Russia and the UK Parliament blocked a US invasion. It is Russia and Syria who fought and defeated Washington’s proxy army known as ISIS. Washington is blocking Trump’s order to withdraw US troops, because Israel wants the US to renew the attack on Syria and to carry it into Iran. Israel and its American vassals must think that Russia is going to stand down and permit the destabilization of the Islamic world to proceed into the Russian Federation.

Once upon a time the media and the foreign policy community would have publicly examined these issues. Now the media reads out the script handed to them.

As for Roger Stone, the media’s instructions are to convict Stone in the public’s mind as a facilitator of the Trump/Putin theft of the US presidential election. The actual facts do not matter, and the facts will never emerge from the media or from Mueller’s “investigation.”

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Washington Interfering In Venezuela’s Politics

January 25, 2019- Paul Craig Roberts

Washington has chosen a president for Venezuela. I wonder if Trump saw the black humor in doing to Maduro what the Democrats and presstitutes are doing to him.

Few Latin American governments have ever had a government that represents the majority indigenous people or a president who was not of Spanish descent. Chavez in Venezuela perhaps was the longest lasting indigenous leader. His successor Maduro is also indigenous.

Indigenous Latin American leaders are unacceptable to Washington, because they tend to be reformers who represent their country’s people instead of American business and financial interests. Consequently, when a Latin electorate elects a leader who will put them first, Washington overthrows the leader. This is the history of US/Latin American relations.

In the 21st century alone Washington has overthrown the elected presidents of Honduras, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela and overturned the independence of Ecuador that had provided asylum protection for Julian Assange. Washington’s coup with the Spanish elite against Chavez in Venezuela initially succeeded. Chavez was in captivity, but before he could be murdered the Venezuelan people and military forced his release.

Chavez, either because he lacked the power to move against the traitorous Spanish elite or because he chose to display magnanimity, did not hold those responsible who participated in the coup against his life and Venezuelan sovereignty. Washington’s agents, the Spanish elite, were not arrested and retained their control over the media and the economy. Venezuela has substantial oil revenues, but they do not reach the government’s budget or protect the value of the currency. I do not know who controls the Venezuelan oil, but it appears the revenues are being stolen. As it seems unlikely the Spanish elites would permit the indigenous people to control the oil business, possibly the oil revenues are what funds, along with Washington, the anti-Maduro opposition. If the Maduro government is stealing the revenues, then the government is committing suicide.

Consequently, Washington and its Venezuelan vassals have had a free hand against Maduro. The whores who comprise the Western media have served Washington’s demonization of Maduro, an elected president that Washington calls a dictator. In the election that re-elected Maduro, Washington instructed the traditional Venezuelan oligarchy to boycott the election. That allowed Washington to claim that Maduro was not legitimately elected.

Of course, if there had been any chance of Washington and its Spanish vassals winning the election, they most certainly would not have boycotted it. But the whores who constitute the American media have no integrity and thereby no problem in overlooking the fact that Venezuelans prefer Maduro to Washington’s Spanish vassals.

Washington using sanctions and economic punishments has been trying for years to destabilize Venezuela in order to bring down the government and install Washington’s agent as president. This policy has cruelly punished the Venezuelan people, but nevertheless they have clung to their indigenous leadership. The other day Washington organized a military coup, but few participated and it was easily put down.

Defeated on these fronts, Washington had Trump and Pence declare that Maduro was not the president of Venezuela and that Washington recognized its agent in the legislature as president. Pence called for the newly annointed president to overthrow the Maduro government and threatened Maduro with invasion if he acted against Washington’s designated president.

Maduro’s response, a numbrer of years late, was to order all US diplomats out of Venezuela. Washington replied that as Washington does not recognize Maduro’s government as legitimate, Maduro lacks the authority to throw them out. The US diplomats will remain and continue the conspiracy against Maduro.

Here we have a situation in which Washington, not the Venezuelan people, has chosen the president of Venezuela and refuses to accept the Venezuelan government’s break of diplomatic relations.

As I write, indications are that Washington’s vassals in Canada and Europe are also withdrawing recognition from the legally elected government of Venezuela, conferring recognition instead on the unelected agent of American business and financial interests selected by Washington.

What does this say about the West? The West regards itself as the home of integrity, human rights, democracy, truth, and goodness. But in fact the West is committed to supporting Washington’s suppression of Venezuelan self-determination.

What Washington is doing to Venezuela is a good lesson for the gullible Russian Atlanticist Integrationists and the gullible pro-western Chinese youth. As China’s Global Times put it: “For a long time, the US has been eager to replace international law with its geopolitical interests and values so as to legalize its interference” and hegemony over the world. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-24/china-joins-russia-slamming-us-interference-venezuela

Putin expressed his support for the legitimacy of Maduro’s government and said that the Venezuelan internal political crisis was “provoked from outside the country.” http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1136984.shtml

Will Washington announce tomorrow that the US has decided that Alexei Navalny, not Vladimir Putin, is president of Russia? Will Washington announce that the US no longer considers Xi Jinping to be China’s president, as his one party regime makes him illegitimate, and has replaced him with Tsai Lng-Wen?

How long will other powers tolerate Washington’s illegality and aggression?

How long will Americans tolerate the shame that Washington heaps upon their shoulders?

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Pentagon Wants Big War Funding – Now

LOG453422 Jim Dean – 1-15-19

We are off to a huge news cycle for 2019, with everything from shifting sands in the Mideast, to what some say could be a growing class rebellion in the EU, which might tip its house of cards over.

The Trump White House interprets its Syria policy differently day after day. More countries state their intentions to resume ties with Syria, including many in Europe. And the same EU has left Iran standing at the altar over its phantom Special Purpose Vehicle that Mogherini said would be ready by year end, but which appears to have morphed into a “dark project”.

Lost among all the current high profile stories was a Pentagon report that slipped by getting much news coverage, but continues the US long march from a new Cold War to a hot one. The US Defense Science Board issued a report titled Task Force on Survivable Logistics. Although it has a somewhat innocuous title, it is a message in a bottle to us all.

In short, the report was a maximum effort to sell a US military logistics crisis to fight a World War with a “strategic adversary”. And “crisis” was used in describing the situation, indicating that the US has allowed the military logistics supply chain to deteriorate badly, due to funding going into other things.

But there was no mention in the report of our fighting new fake wars after blowing trillions in failed and dead-end US military adventures in the Mideast that have left a wide path of destruction in their wake; and all this was done when no real war had been declared.

Wading through the report, I got the feeling that, after Trump had rolled out his nuclear modernization program with its big price tag and bragged he was going to build the biggest and best military machine on the planet, these logistics chiefs wanted to get in on the action. Dear Mr. President, when we outspend everyone else put together, just who did you have in mind to use this big bad machine on?

And as to the drafters of the report, I would ask them, if we do have crises logistics problems when we have over 700 bases worldwide, with members of NATO creeping up to the Russian and Chinese borders to be able to threaten them with a quick delivery first strike, then what country has a tiny fraction of the logistics power needed to attack Europe or the US? Successful merchants are not in the habit of killing their customers.

Frankly, there is no one. The three main bogeymen – China, Russia, and Iran – have their hands full with defending against the growing US threat with its huge navy, air power, and the largest logistics air fleet on the planet, and more prepositioned supplies than anyone else has. The last time I looked, the targeted countries had no feasible force projection, in terms of moving masses of troops to take and hold conquests.

Russia and China are investing heavily in mutually assured destruction, as that is their only real defense when facing the vastly numerically superior Western military forces, based on defense spending alone. A conventional war of attrition would make them the bookmaker’s choice. But let’s dig a little deeper.

NATO and the US have a huge number of planes, with a fleet of F-35s on the way that might bankrupt many EU countries after their purchase by the expensive maintenance that the US companies made sure would keep them rich a few decades into the future.

But when we get to down on the ground, it gets even worse. Germany published this week that it would take 16 years of current spending levels just to bring all of its war machinery into working order. Other EU countries face not only worse logistics problems but poor training and lack of combat experience.

Britain is having trouble even getting its small navy out to sea, due major breakdowns of old boats. And it continues to have a shortage of trained personnel and morale. And yet, despite these huge problems, it spent a fortune on a new aircraft carrier and insists on building new nuclear subs that it has no money for.

The country now has 25% living in poverty, a level matched by a number of southern EU countries. We can expect that NATO’s equipment and state of readiness would have them struggling to hold credible drills.

Forgive me for asking, but who in the world does the West need to be defended from? Russia? China? Or maybe the Iranians and Syrians? Who is pulling whose leg here on who the strategic threat is? Russia and China have spent two decades building their domestic economies, with lots of Western investment, I might add. They put their peoples’ standard of living first, and it worked well for them. Is that what made them targets, their success?

Russia discovered during the short Georgian War that its military was in bad shape from major neglect, and it began a long overdue modernization that has really come to bloom over the last few years. But Russia did this when it was not $22 trillion in debt, and climbing. It does not have 750 foreign bases.

So I view this Pentagon report as having a crocodile-tears aspect to it, asking the American people to bury themselves in more debt by manufactured threats to scare them into supporting it. Many might view that, if a military were onboard actually doing this, as being a threat to its own people.

Both Russia and China, because they have a deep bench of technical expertise and little foreign debt, unlike the US, had to focus on technical superiority to effectively be able to defend themselves from a US coalition attack. It is their defensive build up that our own military is spinning as an offensive one.

Many of the Vietnam Vets, those who have not yet died off from Agent Orange, see this as preparation for abusing another generation of Americans with fake threat wars, like the anti-domino theory operation they fought in. This included my own brother who died from Agent Orange complications in his mid-50s as a retired Army Ranger Colonel.

My family has tasted the bitter fruit of war, from our Revolution from the British Crown, to my Confederate ancestors, to my mother becoming a WWII widow at age 16, and my father who was a fighter pilot who miraculously survived a mid-air collision with another plane. Those were at least real wars in the traditional sense, although there was definitely some major prestaging going on with WWII.

We now have the sad state of affairs with Eastern Europe being groomed as expendable cannon fodder in the next continental war, perhaps to be sacrificed to wear down the Russian Western defenses in an early war of attrition.

The coming age of hypersonic weapons is going to put tremendous pressure on militaries to not get caught by a first strike, which for all practical purposes would require launching one first. The public would never be told the truth about such an event when it happens, as to who shot first.

Yet, despite the hair-trigger precipice we see ourselves heading toward, we hear few calls for taking stock of the approaching train wreck. Both parties in Congress are onboard Russia- and China-phobia, and both would be happy to send Americans off to die for Israel in the Mideast and blame it all on the country that has not invaded anyone in a thousand years, Iran.

America has been bankrupted by the Deep State. Their burying us in debt that ended up in their coffers has had them laughing all the way to the bank, amused that a people who would so meekly submit should deserve anything other than the short end of the stick.

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Europe on the Brink of Collapse?

YVR3453242 Peter Koenig – 1-16-19

The Empire’s European castle of vassals is crumbling. Right in front of our eyes. But Nobody seems to see it. The European Union (EU), the conglomerate of vassals – Trump calls them irrelevant, and he doesn’t care what they think about him, they deserve to be collapsing. They, the ‘vassalic’ EU, a group of 28 countries, some 500 million people, with a combined economy of a projected 19 trillion US-dollar equivalent, about the same as the US, have submitted themselves to the dictate of Washington in just about every important aspect of life.

The EU has accepted on orders by Washington to sanction Russia, Venezuela, Iran – and a myriad of countries that have never done any harm to any of the 28 EU member states. The EU has accepted the humiliation of military impositions by NATO – threating Russia and China with ever more and ever more advancing military basis towards Moscow and Beijing, to the point that Brussels’ foreign policy is basically led by NATO.

It was clear from the very get-go that the US sanctions regime imposed on Russia and all the countries refusing to submit to the whims and rules of Washington, directly and via the EU, was hurting the EU economically far more than Russia. This is specifically true for some of the southern European countries, whose economy depended more on trading with Russia and Eurasia than it did for other EU countries.

The ‘sanctions’ disaster really hit the fan, when Trump unilaterally decided to abrogate the “Nuclear Deal” with Iran and reimpose heavy sanctions on Iran and on “everybody who would do business with Iran”. European hydrocarbon giants started losing business. That’s when Brussels, led by Germany started mumbling that they would not follow the US and – even – that they would back European corporations, mainly hydrocarbon giants, sticking to their contractual arrangements they had with Iran.

Too late. European business had lost all confidence in Brussels EU Administration’s feeble and generally untrustworthy words. Many breached their longstanding and, after the Nuclear Deal, renewed contracts with Iran, out of fear of punishment by Washington and lack of trust in Brussel’s protection. Case in point is the French-British petrol giant, Total, which shifted its supply source from Iran to Russia – no, not to the US, as was of course, Washington’s intent. The damage is done. The vassals are committing slow suicide.

The people have had it. More than half of the European population wants to get out of the fangs from Brussels. But nobody asks them, nor listens to them – and that in the so-called heartland of ‘democracy’ (sic). That’s why people are now up in arms and protesting everywhere – in one way or another in Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Poland – the list is almost endless. And it can be called generically the ‘Yellow Vests”, after the new French revolution.

The latest in a series of the US attacking Germany and German business – and German integrity, for that matter – are the US Ambassador’s, Richard Grenell, recent threats to German corporations with sanctions if they work on Nord Stream 2, the 1,200 km pipeline bringing Russian gas to Europe, to be completed by the end of 2019. It will virtually double the capacity of Russian gas supply to Europe. Instead, Washington wants Europe to buy US shale gas and oil, and especially keeping Europe economically and financially in the US orbit, avoiding in any way a detachment from Washington and preventing the obvious and logical – an alliance with Russia. This attempt will fail bitterly, as various German Ministers, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, have loudly and with determination protested against such US hegemonic advances. Well, friends, you have bent over backwards to please your Washington Masters for too long. It’s high time to step out of this lock-step of obedience.

In France, this past weekend of 12 / 13 January, the Yellow Vests went into round 9 of protests against dictator Macron, his austerity program and – not least – his abject arrogance vis-à- vis the working class. A recent public statement of Macron’s is testimony of this below-the-belt arrogance: «Trop de français n’ont pas le sens de l’effort, ce qui explique en partie les ’troubles’ que connait le pays» – Translated: “Too many French don’t know the meaning of ‘effort’ which explains at least partially the trouble this country is in.”

The Yellow Vests and a majority of the French population want nothing less than Macron’s resignation. Protesters are consistently and largely under-reported by Christophe Castaner, the French Interior Minister. This past weekend the official figure was 50,000 demonstrators, countrywide, when in reality the figure was at least three times higher. The official French version would like the public at large, inside and outside of France, to believe that the Yellow Vest’s movement is diminishing. It is not. To the contrary, they are demonstrating all over France, and that despite the Macron regime’s increasing violent repression.

RT reports, on Macron’s orders the police are becoming more violent, using military suppression to control protesting French civilians. Thousands have been arrested, and hundreds injured by police brutality. Nevertheless, the movement is gaining massive public support and the ‘Yellow Vests” idea is spreading throughout Europe. This spread is, of course, hardly reported by the mainstream media.

In fact, 80% of the French back the Yellow Vests and their idea of a Citizen Initiated Referendum (RIC for “Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”), under which citizens could propose their own laws that would then be voted on by the general public. The RIC could effectively bypass the French Parliament, and would be enshrined in the French Constitution. A similar law exists since 1848 in Switzerland and is regularly applied by Swiss citizens. It is a way of Direct Democracy that any country calling itself a “democracy” should incorporate in its Constitution.

The UK is in shambles. Thousands are taking to the streets of London, organized by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity”, calling for general elections to replace the failing Tory Government. They are joined by the French Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests), out of solidarity. Many of the UK protesters are also wearing high-visibility yellow vests.

This is in direct correlation with the ever-growing louder debacle over BREXIT – yes, or no and how. At this point nobody knows what Britain’s future is going to be. Propaganda and counter-propaganda is destined to further confuse the people and confused people usually want to stick to the ‘status quo’. There is even a movement of pro “remain” propaganda, organized by some members of the European Parliament. Imagine! – Talking about sovereignty, if Brussels cannot even leave the Brits alone decide whether they want to continue under their dictate or not.

Hélas, the Brits are largely divided, but also past the stage of being swayed by foreign propaganda, especially in this delicate question of leaving the EU – which a majority of Brits clearly decided in June 2016. Prime Minister, Theresa May, has screwed-up the BREXIT process royally, to the point where many Brits feel that what she negotiated is worse than “no deal”. This has likely happened in close connivance with the unelected EU ‘leadership’ which does not want the UK to leave and under strict orders from Washington which needs the UK in its crucial role as a US mole in the European Union.

On 15 January 2019, the UK Parliament will vote on whether they accept the negotiated BREXIT conditions, or whether they prefer a ‘no deal’ BREXIT, or will request an extension for further negotiations under Article 50 of the “Treaty of Lisbon” (which was imposed by the heads of state of the 28 members, without any public vote, and is a false stand-in for a EU Constitution). Other options include a general election – and let the new leadership decide; or a second referendum which after two years is legally possible. The latter would likely cause severe public unrest, followed by atrocious police oppression – as already often witnessed in the UK – in which case, let’s just hope civil war can be avoided.

For weeks, the Yellow Vest movement has spread to Belgium and The Netherlands. For similar reasons – public discontent over austerity, EU dictatorship over Belgian and Dutch sovereignty. Last Friday, one of the Belgian Yellow Vests was overrun by a truck and killed. Authorities reported it as an accident.

Greece – The MS-media report all is ‘donkey-dory’, Greece is recovering, has since many years a positive growth rate and is able to refinance herself on the open capital market. Greece is no longer dependent on the irate and infamous troika (European Central Bank – ECB, European Commission and IMF). Reality is completely different, as about two thirds of the Greek population are still hovering around or below the survival level – no access to public health care, affordable medication, public schools – umpteen times reduced pensions, most public assets and services privatized for a pittance. Nothing has fundamentally changed in the last years, at least not for the better. The troika has allowed the Greek to go to the private capital markets – to boost falsely their, the Greek’s, image among the international public at large, basically telling the brainwashed populace, “It worked, we, the troika, did a good job”.

Nothing worked. People are unhappy; more than unhappy, they are indignant. They demonstrated against Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Athens, and their protests were violently oppressed by police forces. What do you expect – this is what has become of Europe, a highly repressive state of spineless vassals.

On Wednesday, 16 January, the Greek Parliament may hold a Vote of Confidence against or for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The official and make-believe reason is supposedly the controversy over the name of Macedonia, which in fact has long been settled. The real reason is the public’s discontent about the continuous and increasing blood-letting by never-ending austerity, sucking the last pennies from the poor. According to Lancet, the renowned British health journal, the Greek suicide rate is soaring. Nobody talks about it. – Will Tsipras survive a possible Vote of Confidence? -If not – early elections? – Who will follow Tsipras? – Don’t be fooled by the term ‘democracy’. – The elite from within and without Greece will not allow any policy changes. That’s when people à la Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) may come in. Civil unrest. Enough is enough.

In Italy the coalition of the 5-Star Movement and the small right-wing brother, Lega Norte, is pulled to the far right by Lega’s Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister. Mr. Salvini is clearly calling the shots – and they are firing strongly against Brussels and with good reason, as Brussels is attempting to impose rules on Italy’s budget, while the same rules do not apply equally to all EU member states. For example, Macron, France’s Rothschild implant, has special privileges, as far as budget overrun margins are concerned. Mr. Salvini’s anti-Brussels, anti-EU stance is no secret, and he has a lot of Italians behind him. An Italian Yellow Vest movement cannot be excluded.

The empire’s vassal castle is crumbling – and not even silently.

Then there are the former Soviet satellites, Hungary and Poland, turned right wing – don’t appreciate Brussels meddling with Hungary’s anti-immigration policy and in Poland over a controversial overhaul of the Judiciary system. Never mind whether you agree or not with individual country actions, both cases are clear interferences in these nations’ sovereignty. Though upon the European Court of Justice’s strong warning, Poland indeed blinked and reinstated the judges fired in the judiciary reform process. Poland’s love for NATO, and Brussels use of the NATO leverage, may have played a role in Poland’s reversal of decision. Nevertheless, discontent in Poland as in Hungary among the public at large remains strong. Migration and the Judiciary are just the visible pretexts. The legendary tip of the iceberg. Reality is on a deeper level, much deeper. These countries are both reminded of what they considered the Soviet Union’s handcuffs. “Freedom” is not being dictated by Brussels.

***

The triad of systematic and willful destabilization and destruction of what we know as the Greater Middle East and western world is what we have to be aware of. The east, mostly Russia and China, is a challenge being tackled simultaneously, impressively for the brainwashed westerner, but rather meekly for those who are informed about Russia’s and China’s military might and intelligence capacity.

This drive of destabilization cum destruction comes in three phases. It started with the Middle East which for the most part has become a hopeless hell-hole, a source of indiscriminate killing by the western allies, say, the emperor’s puppets and mercenaries, resulting in millions killed and in an endless flood of refugees destabilizing Europe – which is the second phase of the triad. It’s in full swing. It happens right in front of our eyes – but we don’t see it.

It’s the Yellow Vests, austerity, increasing inequality, unemployment, social sector’s being milked to zilch by the financial system, popular uprisings’ oppression by police and military forces; it’s reflected by the dismal powerlessness of the people – that leads to “enough is enough” in the streets. That’s the way it’s all wanted. The more chaos the better. People in chaos are easily controlled.

Now comes phase three of the triad – Latin America. It has already started three or four years back. Countries that have struggled for decades to eventually break loose with some form of ‘democracy’ from the fangs of empire, are gradually being subdued with fake elections and ‘internal’ parliamentary coups, back into the emperor’s backyard. The Southern Cone – Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay – is ‘gone’, except for Bolivia. Peru, Colombia, Ecuador all the way to Guyana are governed by neoliberal, even neonazi-shaded Lords of Washington. But there is still Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and now also Mexico that have not caved in and will not cave in.

In an extraordinary analysis, Thierry Meyssan describes in “The Terrible Forthcoming Destruction of the Caribbean Basin” –  how the Pentagon is still pursuing the implementation of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski plan. This time, aiming at the destruction of the “Caribbean Basin” States. There is no consideration for friends or political enemies, Thierry Meyssan observes. He goes on predicting that after the period of economic destabilization and that of military preparation, the actual operation should begin in the years to come by an attack on Venezuela by Brazil (supported by Israel), Colombia (an ally of the United States) and Guyana (in other words, the United Kingdom). It will be followed by others, beginning with Cuba and Nicaragua, the ‘troika of tyranny’, as per John Bolton.

Only the future will say to what extent this plan will be implemented. At the outset, its ambitions exceed the crumbling empire’s actual capacity.

***

When it comes all down to one single denominator, it’s the current western financial system that must go. It is private banking gone berserk. We are living in a financial system that has gone wild and running havoc, uncontrolled – a train of endless greed that is loosely speeding ahead and doesn’t know when it will hit an unyielding steel-enforced brick wall – but hit it will. It is a mere question of time. People are sick and tired of being milked no end by a fraudulent pyramid system – constructed by the US and her dollar hegemony and maintained by globalized private banking.

We are living in a private banking system that has nothing to do with economic development, but everything with a greed-driven domination of us, consumers, sold on debt and on money that we don’t control, despite the fact that we earned it with our hard labor; despite the fact that it is our added value to what we call the economy. No – this system is totally disrespectful of the individual, it is even ready to steal our money, if it needs to survive – our banking system. It takes the liberty of “administering” it and basically appropriating it. Once our money is in a private bank, we have lost control over it. And mind you and get it into your brains, private banks do not work for you and me, but for their shareholders. But through hundreds of years of indoctrination, we have become so used to it, that being charged interest for borrowing our own money, through an intermediary who does nothing, absolutely nothing but wait for profit to fall into its lap – has become the ‘normality’.

It isn’t. This system has to be abolished, the faster the better. Private banking needs to be eradicated and replaced by local public banking that works with local currencies, based on local economic output, way removed from globalized concepts that help steal resources, empty local social safety nets – all under the guise of austerity for progress. We should know better by now. There is no austerity for progress – has never been. This fraudulent IMF-World Bank concept has never worked, anywhere.

We have to de-dollarize our money, de-digitize our money and pool it through a public banking system for the purpose of people’s growth, hence a society’s or nation’s growth. There is currently one good example, the Bank of North Dakota. The BND has helped the US State of North Dakota through the 2008 and following years crisis, with economic growth instead of economic decline, with almost full employment, versus skyrocketing unemployment in the rest of the US and the western world. We need to build our common wealth with sovereign money, backed by our sovereign economies.

As the empire and its vassals are crumbling badly, they are shaking in their foundations, it is time to rethink what we have been taking for granted and for ‘normal’ – a fraudulent and deceptive monetary system, backed by nothing, no economy, not even gold – we are living on sheer fiat money, made by private banking by a mouse-click – and by letting us be enslaved by debt.

Enough is enough. The Yellow Vests have understood. They want to get rid of their “Macron” who keeps propagating the fraud. It is time to rethink and restart, as the crumbling is getting louder and louder. Empire’s European vassal state is falling apart and will pull Washington and its hegemonic war and money machine along into the abyss.

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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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