Shame on the U.S., Shame on Us


Africa
Assange pg.
Bullying USA
Bush, W.
Censorship
Central America
Democracy?? - Haa!
Dollar, The
Drones
Drug War, The
Election Meddling
Empire, Colonialism
Europe
Exceptionalism
Fascism
FEMA
Forfeiture
Government
Haiti
History Lessons
Human Rights
Illegal Wars
IMF, Int;l Monetary Fund
Immigrants
Institutionalized Evil Policies
Intelligence Community
Journalists, Journalism
Korea
Latest News
Leaving the US
Lobbys
Middle East
Military Polluters
Military Spending
Minimum Wage
Myths Americans Believe
NATO
Nature of the USA
NSA
Nuclear Policy
Patriarchy
Price of Empire
Propaganda
Quotes
Racism
Reagan
Rule of Law
Sanctions Now WMDs
Venezuela
Violence
Weapons
Whistle Blowers
World Bank


Quotes/ /

Quotes

"Our men . . . have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of 10 up... Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to "make them talk," and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later. .. stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses." - Philadelphia Ledger newspaper in 1901, from its Manila [Philippines] correspondent during the US war with Spain for the control of the Philippines

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love" - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The men that American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest the most violently are those who try to tell them the truth." -- H L Mencken (attributed: source unknown)

In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech, King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

If you think the United States is just wonderful, always well-meaning, and the paragon of righteousness, read some of the material below to get another perspective...

 

"The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitations services and basic education to every person on the planet. And we wonder why terrorists attack us." - John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

"Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. ...justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated." Manu 1200 bc

"The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own] government statements. I had no idea until then that you could not rely on [them]": James W. Fulbright: US senator who initiated the international exchange program for scholars, 1905-1995

"The only security for the American people today, or for any people, is to be found through the control of force rather than the use of force" : Norman Cousins: American essayist and editor, long associated with the Saturday Review, 1912-1990

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts -- not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." Abraham Lincoln

Wages

[Note from Colby: On the contrary, I think the cuts--$1 trillion and more--should come from the outrageously bloated military budget and military-industrial complex.]

"From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair." - William Blum [an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy. He worked in a computer related position at the United States Department of State in the mid-1960s]

"Some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena... [They] share the traits of psychopaths who are not sensitive to altruistic appeals, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse or guilt over their crimes. They possess the personality traits of lying, narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. These are the people to whom we have entrusted our fate. Is it any wonder that America is failing at home and world-wide?" - Jim Kouri [ former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s]

"Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq - mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods - are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs. Source" - Arundhati Roy, "Tide? Or Ivory Snow? Public Power in the Age of Empire,"

"Someday, the news media may get around to re-examining the assumption that killing foreigners in their own country is the best patriotic credential imaginable. A front-page New York Times story the other day referred to Sen. John McCain as "the most popular national political figure in the country." McCain built his career in politics while news accounts routinely described him as a "war hero," with frequent references to the captivity and torture that he withstood for years after a North Vietnamese missile brought him down from a plane he was piloting over Hanoi. Media outlets rarely put a fine point on the fact that McCain had been dropping bombs on civilians: Norman Solomon ": Source: - Beyond Hero-Worship

"Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable." - Howard Zinn, 1993


The appropriate US Logo
Killing innocents for profit

"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar soaked fingers out of the business of these [Third World] nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. And if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the "haves" refuse to share with the "have-nots" by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they ''t want and above all ''t want crammed down their throats by Americans." - General David Sharp - Former United States Marine Commandant

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it." - Madeleine K. Albright [In response to a question from Leslie Stahl, "We have heard that a half million children have died (as a result of Clinton's sanctions against Iraq). I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. ... is the price worth it?

The propaganda system allows the U.S. Ieadership to commit crimes without limit and with no suggestion of misbehavior or criminality; in fact, major war criminals like Henry Kissinger appear regularly on TV to comment on the crimes of the derivative butchers. " - Edward S. Herman, political economist and author










Latest News

Why you can't be nice to neo-Nazis or their enablers in the GOP, Frank Vyon Walton for Daily Kos

Well, it seems like our great investigative media has finally discovered the great secret that Donald John Trump has been not hiding at all for his entire life: He’s a racist shithead.

Who exactly didn’t know this after his claim that Mexicans are “rapists”; his attempt to ban Muslims from entering the country; his reference to “shithole countries”; birtherism; his calling for the death penalty against the Exonerated 5 from the Central Park Jogger case; his being sued twice for housing discrimination; his father saying “You know I don't rent to n*ggers”; his father being arrested at a 1927 Klan riot; the Polish Gang and his encouraging clients of his modeling agency to violate immigration laws; saying Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s judgement can’t be trusted because he has Mexican heritage; saying that Gold Star Mother Ghazala Khan didn’t speak at the DNC for cultural reasons; claiming there were “fine people” on both sides of a violent alt-right attack on Charlotesville, including those who support keeping the favorite flag of the Klan on public and state property; “I don’t like black guys touching my money”; trying to convince The Apprentice first season runner-up Kwame Jackson that he should share his win with a white guy; repeatedly using the n-word backstage at The Apprentice; saying “black people are too stupid to vote for me” and “Haitians all have AIDS”; and finally, his use of a phrase that’s literally in the EEOC manual as a prime example of discrimination, when he told four U.S. citizens who happen to be members of Congress to “go back to the [crime-infested countries]” they came from?

Who didn’t know? Apparently, nearly all of the Republican Party didn’t—and is still unable to admit it.

Having a well-documented racist in the White House is terrible, but that’s not the really big problem. The problem is that Trump still has 72% approval from Republicans, and that his support among the party faithful actually increased after his attack on Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib.

It’s not just that Trump is a raging bigot, but that so are those at the base of his support. Other than calling them out, what exactly should we, and can we, do about it?

As my favorite YouTube content provider Steve Shives points out: You just can’t be nice to neo-Nazis. It should be obvious that some people are so far gone that you can’t simply argue them out of their point of view, and you aren’t going to be able to come up with an amazing rationale that will show them the error of their ways and convert a raging bigot into a calm, reasonable, rational, and fair-minded person. That is simply not something they’re capable of.

Shives argues that once you begin trying to debate with a bigot who inherent believes in white supremacy, you’re likely to fall into the trap of trying to find the middle ground between bigotry and no bigotry.

When you assume you can have an honest conversation about our difference of opinion with someone who is a Nazi — neo or original recipe — we’re making a couple of very dangerous mistakes.

First, we’re elevating the belief and goals of Nazis to the level of civil discourse. That’s a bad idea. That’s worse than a bad idea — that’s morally abhorrent. If you’re on one side of the table arguing that all people deserve justice and equality regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, what-have-you, and the person across from you believes that certain people are inherently inferior and deserving of persecution and death based on which of those categories they happen to fall into, what’s the middle? Where do you compromise with someone who rejects the very idea of universal human rights?

Ah, you might say that I’m not seeking to compromise with that person. I won’t have to give up any ground, because I’m going to persuade them that I’m right. That’s where the second mistake come in: assuming that the Nazi sitting across the table from you is any less committed to his ideals than you are to yours.

I think that whether we realize it or not, a lot of us have the idea that people only disagree because they haven’t seen what we’ve seen, and they don’t know what we know. A Nazi only thinks white people are superior because he hasn’t gotten to know enough people of color. He only wants to establish an ethnostate because he doesn’t know any better. Right?

Sometimes. It happens. There are ex-Nazis, ex-Klansmen, People do see the light and change. But a world war wasn’t necessary to end the horrors of the Third Reich because more people didn’t try to reason with Hitler. It wouldn’t have mattered how many Jews answered Hitlers hatred with shows of goodwill. it wouldn’t have mattered how many other took the high road and tried to argue the Nazis out of committing atrocities.

It’s not as if the people who are not ex-Nazis are the only ones who ever encounter the arguments that convinced them to walk away from their old ideology. Lots of Nazis have heard those arguments. Most of them aren’t persuaded. Most of them don’t change.

[...]

You can’t put your faith in the reason and humanity of Nazis. If their reason and humanity were functioning properly, they wouldn’t be Nazis in the first place. Being nice to them, engaging them in intellectual discourse, appeasing them, doesn’t work.

You have to fight them.

Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean violence. [...] Those who promote bigotry and intolerance, who vilify and scapegoat minority groups, who seek to destroy institutions setup to guard against dictatorship and despotism must be resisted.

if you pass them a microphone, you’re not resisting them. if you fight for their ability to fundraise or recruit, you’re not resisting them. If you argue they deserve a place onstage, you’re not resisting them. if you ignore them, you’re not resisting them.

Where is the halfway point, where you can concede that their point of view has at least some validity? It may seem like an absolutist view, but do we have a responsibility to have a certain amount of tolerance for the intolerant? Is it possible to talk someone out of their most deep-seated beliefs? Should you simply ignore those beliefs and try to move forward in other ways, or do you have a moral duty to confront them over it? Do you have to make certain they know that those views are not tolerable, even if in the end there’s no chance that you might reach a middle ground, or ever convince them of the wrongness of their position?

We’ve seen different versions of this argument play out between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, when Biden said that he had been able to put aside the personal views of various pro-segregationist senators by compartmentalizing that issue as something they disagreed on and finding common ground on other issues where they could work together. Part of the backlash to his view was that if you’re able to ignore the basic immorality of someone’s position, are you being a tacit enabler of that position, even if you disagree with it?

Wasn’t former House Speaker Paul Ryan an enabler of Trump’s racism and bigotry after he stopped being willing to call him out publicly once he won the Republican nomination, whereas before he said that Trump’s attack on Judge Curiel was “textbook racism?” Didn’t he become a collaborator in Trump’s racism when he stopped being willing to oppose it? Or did he help America by keeping silent on those issues while working to shave off the harsher edges of Trump’s proposed policies?

"I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government," Ryan says in the book. "I wanted to scold him all the time. What I learned as I went on, to scratch that itch, I had to do it in private. So, I did it in private all the time. And he actually ended up kind of appreciating it."

Ryan's story is remarkable, but not rare. Trump's critics in the GOP are increasingly unwilling, or unable, to speak their minds publicly about the president for fear of enduring his wrath, or that of his constituents.

The silence of Republicans takes on new significance as Trump seeks a second term, potentially deepening his hold on the party.

"Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time," said Ryan, who stepped down after nearly two decades in Washington , in the book. "We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he's making some of these knee-jerk reactions."

Did he manage to mainstream Trump’s bigoted attitude directly into the American bloodstream by downplaying its toxicity or did he manage to save us—at least temporarily—from potentially even worse policies? It could be argued that he did both. He certainly didn’t resist Trump.

There were others in the GOP who simply weren’t willing to grin and bear it, even for the “greater good."

"He's not alone," said Flake, who retired early rather than run for reelection alongside Trump.

"I could not stand on a campaign stage with the president when people shouted, 'Lock her up!' — and I'm not alone in that," the Arizonan said by phone Friday. "The problem isn't just Trump. It's Trumpism. Unfortunately, it's a virus that's infected not just the Republican party, but the Democratic Party, as well."

The truth is that Trump’s own personal bigotry is only a symptom of a much larger problem. He was more than willing to ride the wave of political racial resentment and grievance that had been building during the Obama years among middle-class and blue-collar whites who felt left behind and ignored while America had an African-American president. Now, many of them feel more than a little emboldened to let their frustrations out—particularly in public, and against people of color.

Can any of us afford not to stand up and confront bigotry directly and clearly whenever we encounter it? Shouldn’t we feel a moral imperative, as did this fast-food restaurant manager when some of his customers demanded that he and a co-worker speak English to each other, even though it was a conversation that didn’t involve the customers?

This is how you handle racists.

These two women in Burger King heard a man speaking Spanish.

"GO BACK TO MEXICO" they said.

That man was the manager.

In reaction, the manager kicked them out of the establishment immediately, yet relatively politely.

If you don’t stand up against racism, are you not enabling racism? In another incident, a person pulled a knife on people who were peacefully protesting Trump’s immigration policy.

This racist asshole pulled out a knife and threatened to stab people who were peacefully protesting Trump’s immigration policy. Twitter, do your thing. Let’s find this son of a bitch.

And then there’s the white man who flew into a rage and ran over an autistic black man with his car for talking to his girlfriend.

Anderson was accused of purposefully striking 20-year-old Kevin Marshall with his pickup truck during a party, abandoning the vehicle in a wooded area and then fleeing to upstate New York, where he was taken into custody on Tuesday, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 27-year-old Anderson started fighting with Marshall, who had autism, after the black man talked to his girlfriend, who was hosting the party at her Covington home but left with her boyfriend after the incident.

"That’s hatred, to beat somebody and then run him over at that impact and keep going," said the victim’s mother, Robbie Marshall. "He took my son's life, he deserves not to have his. I want him to have the death penalty."

Hate crimes against black and minority citizens are on the rise. There are even children who have been whitening their skin to avoid racism not just in the U.S, but overseas.

Children as young as 10 are whitening their faces to avoid being subjected to racist abuse in Britain, a child protection group has warned, as police struggle to stem a rising tide of hate crimes against minors.

A total of 10,571 racially-motivated hate crimes against children -- an average of 29 a day -- were recorded by police in 2017-18, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) found. Toddlers and even babies were among those targeted.

That number is now a fifth higher than it was just three years ago, and is growing at a rate of about 1,000 new crimes a year.

This is not just a local American phenomenon, and it’s not just about Trump. There is an international, nativist, anti-immigrant, racist movement afoot. We would be remiss not to recognize that, and to recognize just how deeply entrenched it has become.

Trump supporters and nativists have responded to the clear human rights violations by Customs and Border Patrol agents on our border by basically accepting the Trump administration’s excuses and lies, and blaming the migrants themselves for being held for as long as 40 days without a shower, brushing their teeth, changing their clothes, or access to fresh clean water.

They think Ocasio-Cortez calling these migrant detention centers “concentration camps” is worse than the fact that the U.N. agrees that they are concentration camps.

Republicans were aghast on Tuesday when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — who has an ability to rile up the GOP like few others — called out the moral crisis that is President Donald Trump’s ongoing widespread use of “concentration camps” to detain immigrants and asylum seekers who have crossed the southern border.

"This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter, linking to an Esquire article. “This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis."

The claim set off a firestorm, with Republicans lashing out and saying Ocasio-Cortez was spreading falsehoods and zeroing in on her use of the term “concentration camps.” Among those who lashed out at her was Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third highest-ranking member of her party in the House and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney:

Liz Cheney [daughter of war criminal] tweet:

Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said she is "deeply shocked" by the conditions at the CBP migrant detention centers.

"As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,

So: not at all like summer camp. The facts of the conditions are the facts, even if Republicans like Mike Pence and Lindsay Graham have tried to white-wash things with their staged photo-ops.

It’s also not true that Rep. Ilhan Omar has expressed “support or pride” for al-Qaida.

President Donald Trump accused Rep. Ilhan Omar of professing a “love” for al Qaeda and talking about “how great” and “how wonderful” al Qaeda is. That is false.

Trump also misleadingly claimed polls showed Omar only has 8% support, not mentioning that a similar figure is from a poll of white likely general-election voters without a bachelor’s degree.

[...]

The White House press office did not provide any evidence to back up the president’s claim. But Trump appears to be referring, wrongly, to comments Omar made in October 2013 during a local PBS show in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. The program, BelAhdan, is hosted by Ahmed Tharwat, who described it as a show that “brings Somali Americans to your living room.” Omar’s appearance as a local political organizer came on the heels of a deadly attack at a Kenyan mall by members of al-Shabab, a Somali Islamist militant group that declared its allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012.

Ironically, the main discussion was about Omar’s frustration that the entire Muslim community — and the Somali Muslim community in Minnesota in particular — is asked to respond to violent acts committed by extremists overseas. She said there’s “a difference between the people that are carrying on the evil acts, because it is an evil act” and “the normal people … who carry on their lives."

[...]

Later in the interview, Omar was even more explicit in condemning al-Shabab.

"These people are taking part in terror and their whole ideology is based on terrorizing the communities that they would like to have an influence in," Omar said, later adding that she does not share the group’s ideology.

Unfortunately, the truth of this can barely get out of bed before right-wing lies have made it halfway around the planet. GOPers have long criticized the Muslim community en masse for failing to stand up to Islamic extremism, and yet when they are asked to stand up to white supremacists, they are largely insulted by the notion that a connection between them and alt-right/neo-Nazis can even be drawn.

Trumpism is not exactly like Nazism, of course. There is a distinction in that Trump’s goal isn’t to implement a genocide. Then again, with his new “You can leave” argument, it does appear that he supports encouraging America to become an ethnostate, just as a neo-Nazi would like. And for the record, neo-Nazis really like Trump’s latest rhetorical attack.

Shaun King tweet:

17 hours since the President of the United States tweeted that he wanted “Progressive Democrat Congresswomen” to go back the countries they came from.

And not ONE single elected Republican in Congress or otherwise has called it out.

Nothing. Utter silence.

They are complicit

These Dallas Republican women are not Nazis, but it’s also pretty clear that they aren’t resisting Trump’s naked bigotry even a little bit. Instead, they’re enabling and excusing it.

video from CNN

Again, these women are not Nazis, but they are bigots. They have completely absorbed Trump’s ridiculous reverse racism gambit that “The Squad” of freshman congresswomen are the “real racists” and poor Trump is just a victim of their mean, mean, meanness.

Trump is not a Nazi either, not exactly, but it’s clear that his efforts to block all asylum seekers from entry (even though it’s legal to cross the border at any point in order to seek asylum), his efforts to implement mass deportation and remove hundreds of thousands recipients of Temporary Protective Status (who again, are legal residents), and now saying the native-born U.S. ciitizens “should leave” if they don’t like his administration, are all very Nazi-like. You could say that it’s alt-Nazism, if you like.

The fact is though, that Trump and his sycophant followers — including the “Trumpettes” shown above — are actually somewhat worse than just merely alt-Nazis, because if racism isn't the source of these comments it’s much more horrible. Although he’s never suggested sending “Crazy” Bernie Sanders “back to Vermont”, he has implemented multiple racist attacks against Elizabeth “Fauxcohantus” Warren’s slim amount of Native Americn heritage, even though the DNA test she took exactly confirms the family history she had previously claimed, and he has said to ball players who kneel during that national anthem that “Maybe they should leave”, which includes several white players and also World Cup Star Megan Rapinoe.

If you honestly take the Trumphettes and most of the GOP at their word, where they make the excuse that his statements aren’t racist because “he didn’t say color”, and you assume that when he isn’t defending and holding a “summit” for actual hate-mongering Right-wing social media mavens of the ilk of Alex Jones, Gavin McInnis and the Proud Boys who’ve been banned by Twitter and Youtube for their hate speech, and encouraging the geniune anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that “Liberal Jews” like Tom Steyer and George Soros have been paying for the migrant caravans to “replace” the so-called forgotten man, he apparently thinks that even white native-born American citizens who dare to use their specifically enumerated right under the First Amendment to seek “petition for redress of grievances with their government” to criticize him and his policies somehow deserve to be attacked, harassed, intimidated and frankly terrorized — considering the already existing death threats against them even from members of law enforcement — even to the point of being physically forced out of their own country.

All people wanted Kierstjen Neilsen and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders to do was “leave” a public restaurant, not the entire country.

It suggests that these people would support forcibly striping certain people of their citizenship and deporting them, not just for racial reasons or by violaing asylum laws, but because of a political policy disagreement that makes them claim they don’t sufficiently “Love America”, by which they really mean they don’t sufficienly “Love Trump.” Even Nazis didn’t go quite that far, because that’s Stalinist totalitarianism. Just how many people — including U.S. citizens — would wind up in the detention camps under yet another illegal executive order while these people cheer along with it? Stalin ultimately killed 20 Million of his own people, far more than the Nazis, including those who were sent to the gulags, deported and forcibly resettled.

Deportation of kulaks

Large numbers of kulaks regardless of their nationality were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia. According to data from Soviet archives, which were published in 1990, 1,803,392 people were sent to labor colonies and camps in 1930 and 1931, and 1,317,022 reached the destination. Deportations on a smaller scale continued after 1931. Data from the Soviet archives indicates 2.4 million Kulaks were deported from 1930–34.[46] The reported number of kulaks and their relatives who had died in labour colonies from 1932 to 1940 was 389,521.

Simon Sebag Montefiore estimated that 15 million kulaks and their families were deported by 1937, during the deportation many people died, but the full number is not known.

Forced settlements in
the Soviet Union 1939-53

According to the Russian historian Pavel Polian 5,870 million persons were deported to Forced settlements in the Soviet Union from 1920–1952, including 3,125 million from 1939–52. [46] Those ethnic minorities considered a threat to Soviet security in 1939–52 were forcibly deported to Special Settlements run by the NKVD.

Poles, Ukrainians from western regions, Soviet Germans, Balts, Estonians peoples from the Caucasus and Crimea were the primary victims of this policy. Data from the Soviet archives list 309,521 deaths in the Special Settlements from 1941–48 and 73,454 in 1949–50.

According to Polian these people were not allowed to return to their home regions until after the death of Stalin, the exception being Soviet Germans who were not allowed to return to the Volga region of the USSR.

If Trump came up with a neo-totalitarian purge agenda for those who "Hate America", do you think any of the Trumphettes would lift a finger to stop it, or would they turn on those people who most loudly complain about it and cheer as they’re rounded up, jailed and "sent home"?

I have little doubt it would be the latter considering what we’re already seeing at his migrant concentration camps and as I noted above, his support among Republicans has increased as a result of his racist attacks on Democrats.

The “Day of the Rope” is what they really want. We could only hope that the courts would stop such a policy, but as we’ve seen that would take time and lead to multiple challeges in the appeals court and eventually SCOTUS while such an illegal policy could potentially continue, just as the completely impracticle and inhumane “zero tolerance” policy continues. It won’t be stopped because his base or the GOP disapproves, because they don’t disapprove — they truly think only they are the true “patriots” in America. The rest of us are expendable and disposable. All of us.

The question I still have is: Is there anything we can do about this other than just criticize it? Can we do anything to change it?

Even after the next election, assuming Trump is defeated or otherwise removed, what can we do about lingering Trumpism? What can we do about resolving the racial resentment that was the fuel for Trump’s rise?

Steve Shives credibly argues that you probably can’t just talk people out of their bigotry, and I think that’s true. However, I don’t think we should totally give up on a significant portion of our own population completely. We probably can’t force them to come around to the ideals of universal human rights, and we may not be able to convince them of the rightness and correctness of our point of view. It would be like trying to talk a drug addict or a cult member down.

I agree with Steve: That won’t work.

But there are some groups and organizations that have had some success bringing people out of hate movements and bringing them out of cults, gradually. Most of them have worked because they’ve been founded and operated by former members of hate groups and cults. Case in point: the anti-Supremacy group Life After Hate, which has been recently defunded by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

Founded by former extremists, we are committed to helping people leave the violent far-right. We are dedicated to inspiring all people to a place of compassion and forgiveness — for themselves and each other. It was these principles that guided us away from lives of hate and that drive us to help individuals exit hate groups today and to support those who have already left.

Our primary goal is to interrupt violence committed in the name of ideological or religious beliefs. We do this through education, interventions, academic research, and outreach. Our primary goal is to interrupt violence committed in the name of ideological or religious beliefs. We do this through education, interventions, academic research, and outreach.

You, I, or Democrats may not be able to make the argument that might bring a neo-Nazi or a hardcore Trump supporter around to our way of thinking. But a former Trump fan, or a former supporter of mass deportation who manages to come to another way of thinking just might be in the unique position to lead others toward enlightenment.

Unfortunately, those people are few and far between.

'Trump's 'Go home' invective echoes Nazi incitement against Jews:' Chemi Shalev for Haaretz

Now that Republican voters have embraced Donald Trump’s declaration that elected women of color who criticize his policies should “go back to where they came from,” this seems like the perfect opportunity to remind Republicans exactly what kind of people they have become.

In an op-ed published in Haaretz, Israel’s longest-running newspaper, editor and correspondent Chemi Shalev explains how the impulse to expel persons whom the state deems disobedient, disloyal or otherwise “undesirable” echoes the Nuremberg tactics of another famous “conservative” political party from several decades ago.

It’s hard to tell the difference between the large signs hung outside German cities declaring “Jews, immigrate to your land, in our land we already know who you are” and Trump’s suggestion to four non-white Democratic Congresswomen to “go back” to what he previously described as their “shithole” countries. Both imbibe from the same toxic cesspool of spreading division and hate, while defining the different as an alien and dangerous “other” in order to advance political and ideological aims.

One byproduct of being both Jewish and working for the state of Israel’s oldest newspaper is that you can draw upon a remarkably extensive institutional memory. Shalev takes us back to 1938 when a German company introduced a popular board game which challenged people to do just what Donald Trump and his supporters are clamoring for today.

In 1938, the German company Gunther and Co. came out with its brand new board game, “Juden Raus.” Participants in the game, which became immensely popular, had to extract Jewish citizens from their German cities to “concentration points,” over which hung a banner reading “Auf nach Palästina!” - Off to Palestine. The first player to successfully relocate six Jews from Germany to Palestine was the winner.

In its promotion, the company boasted that Juden Raus was an “up-to-date and outstandingly jolly party game for grown-ups and children.” After five years of Nazi rule, expelling Jews to “where they came from” was as natural and desirable as buying Boardwalk and Park Place.

With Republicans by virtue of either their abject silence or willing, vocal participation now aligning themselves with an exclusionary and intolerant ethic reminiscent of Nazi Germany, perhaps we can expect the same type of board game targeting immigrants and women of color promoted in the Republican social media universe. As Shalev acknowledges, at this point it's hard to imagine [how] low they won’t stoop to, even as the repulsive historical analog they seek to emulate stares them straight in the face.

As with Israel’s Likud and their leader Netanyahu, but a thousand times over, Trump’s invectives highlight the moral depths to which the Republican party has sunk: It has transformed from a Grand Old Party into a cheerleading squad that prostrates itself before its master, no matter what he says or does. Whether out of fear or hope for favor or both, the Republicans’ feebleness also echoes the conduct of similarly spineless political parties, which facilitated but later succumbed to the most evil tyrants of the 20th Century.

Shalev acknowledges that Trump is enjoying a surge in popularity among many segments of Israeli society, and without directly saying as much, wonders whether Trump’s singling out of these four women, all of whom have been critical of Israel, and two of whom are Muslim, serves for some Israelis as a kind of filter to the stark inhumanity Trump is espousing, the same one which Jews have been painfully aware for centuries, and one which he would expect them to be sensitive to.

Sadly, a great number also identify with his race-baiting remarks, especially when these are directed at Muslim legislators with an anti-Israeli animus. The history of the Jewish people as a persecuted minority perennially depicted as “the other,” no matter how long they’ve lived in the same place, doesn’t seem to speak to us anymore. As Israel’s venerated poet-columnist Natan Alterman once asked, in a slightly different context - “Where will we put our shame?"

"Where will we put our shame,” indeed. At least in this country, that’s a question most of us have stopped asking Republicans by now.

If You Provoke the Entire World, Something May Happen

By Andre Vltchek, July 11, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

The United States believes that it is so invincible, exceptional and so frightening that no one would ever dare to protest, let alone defend its people against constant humiliation, economic embargos and military threats.

It used to be like this for quite some time. In the past, the West used to bully the world before and after each well-planned assault. Also, well-crafted propaganda used to be applied.

It was declared that things are done ‘legally’ and rationally. There were certain stages to colonialist and imperialist attacks: “define your goals”, “identify your victim”, “plan”, “brainwash your own citizens and people all over the world”, and then, only then, “bomb some unfortunate country back to the stone ages”.

Now, things are slightly different. “The leader of the free world” wakes up in the middle of the night, and he tweets. What comes from his computer, tablet or phone, (or whatever he uses), is spontaneous, unpolished and incredibly dangerous. Similar in substance to what made him wake up in the middle of the night, in a first place.

He does not seem to plan; he shoots off from the hip. Today, as I am writing this essay, he has declared that he has “five strategies for Venezuela”. Go figure. Bravo!

Earlier, as he was about to land outside London, he embarked on insulting the Mayor of the British capital, calling him names. A bit like we used to do to each other, when we were five years old, in the neighborhood playground.

He has been regularly offending Mexico, and of course Iran, China and Russia.

He basically tells the leader of the most populous nation on earth – China – to “be there”, at the G20 Summit, or else.

Whenever he and his lieutenants are in the mood, they get busy antagonizing everyone: Cuba and Nicaragua, DPRK and Venezuela, Bolivia and Syria.

Of course, the main “culprits” are always the ‘biggest bad boys’, Russia and China.

Anyone, at any time, could easily land on the proverbial hit list of President Trump, and hawks of his United States of A. It could be India (which, during ‘good submissive times’ is called by the West the “biggest democracy”, or perhaps Turkey (militarily the second mightiest NATO country). The world had been converted into an entity which appears to be run by a bloodthirsty and unpredictable dictatorship. The world is an entity where everyone is terrified of being purged, imprisoned, starved to death, or directly attacked, even liquidated.

It was always like this, at least in the modern history of the planet. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism: they have many different faces but one common root. Root that has been often hidden deep under the surface.

But this time it is all in the open, raw and brutally honest.

Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they are honest.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both ‘suave’ presidents. They were loved in Europe, as they knew how to speak politely, how to dine elegantly, and how to commit mass murder in a ‘rational, righteous way’; ‘old-fashioned, European-style’.

The brutal, vulgar ways of W. Bush and Donald Trump, have been consistently shocking all those individuals who are pleased when things are done ‘stylishly’ and ‘politically correctly’; be it a coup or the starvation to death of millions through embargos. Or be it invasions or ‘smart’ bombing (practically, ‘smart’ meaning very far from the inquisitive eyes).

But it is not only the ‘offended sensibilities’ of predominantly European population, that matter.

The danger is that someone might take Donald Trump seriously, and respond accordingly.

In the past, verbal insults similar to those unleashed now by the US President, could easily have led to a war, or at least to the breaking up of diplomatic relationships.

And now?

In case Westerners have not realized it, yet – people all over the world are indignant. I talk to Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis, Venezuelans, Cubans, Iranians: they hate what comes from Washington; hate it with passion. They know that what is being done to them is terrorism, thuggery. But for now, they do not know how to defend themselves. Not yet, but they are thinking.

The entire world now resembles a brutal ghetto, or a slum, where a heavily armed gang controls the streets, and in fact every corner and alley.

At least in the past, subjugated people were able to hide behind decorative words and ideological pirouettes. They were able to ‘save their face’. They were sodomized in the name of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’. Now, a horrible reality is flying directly into all directions: “You will do as you are told!” “It is us who will decide.” “Obey, because we said so”. Entire proud nations are being reduced into states of slaves or even worse – lap dogs.

As everyone is well aware of, even lackeys and slaves often hold grudges. And abused dogs can bite.

Throughout history, slaves rebelled. True heroes came from rebellious and enslaved nations.

This, what we have now on our planet, is not good, not a healthy situation.

The more countries that are being intimidated, the higher the chances are that somewhere, soon, things will let go; collapse.

Only terrible fear, so far, assures that if a Syrian or a Libyan or an Afghan city is leveled to the ground, there is no real retaliation: urban areas in the USA stay intact.

Only incredible patience of the Russian or Chinese leaders guarantees that, so far, even as their economies are being battered by ridiculous sanctions, the two powerful nations do not retaliate and ruin the US financial system (which is only a paper tiger).

Trump dares. He tortures and humiliates more than half of the world, then looks straight ahead and laughs: “So what are you going to do now?”

So far, the world is doing nothing.

Even the proud and mighty Iran is not ‘crossing the line’. As millions of its people are suffering because of insane sanctions, the Iranian navy is not yet engaging the US battleships that are sailing very near its shores.

Even as more and more US bases are being built right next to both Russia and China’s borders, so far there are no substantial military bases being erected by Moscow or Beijing in places such as Nicaragua, Cuba or Venezuela.

All this may change, soon.

And the so much dreaded (by Washington) “domino effect” may actually take place.

Non-Western leaders have also their ‘bad days’ and terrible nights. They also wake up in the middle of the night, and think, want to communicate and to act.

Imagine an Iranian leader, waking up at 2AM, and suddenly feeling overwhelmed by wrath, because Iranian men, women and children are suffering, for no reason, as a result of the perverse sadism being regurgitated by the West. What if he Tweets an insult, too? What if he just orders, on a spur of the moment, to have all those obsolete US aircraft carriers and destroyers that are floating in the vicinity, be sunk? Iran can do it: everyone knows that it can! Technically, militarily, it is easy: those ships are just sitting ducks.

Then what? Will Washington nuke Iran?

Someone may say: The West is killing millions every year, anyway. Better to fight it, in order to stop it, once and for all. Others may join. And then, then what? Will Trump give orders to kill tens of millions, just to maintain control over the world?

What if the US navy vessels bump into a Russian or a Chinese ship, as they almost did in the South China Sea, recently? What if a Russian or Chinese ship sinks, dozens of sailors die. And there is a retaliation? Then what?

What if Syria has enough and begins shooting down Israeli military jets that are bombing it, and attacking North American and European ‘special forces’ that are still located, illegally, on its territory?

The US is engaged all over the world. France and the UK, too. And if you talk to the people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, you very soon realize what the real feelings towards Washington are!

If you provoke the entire world, something very terrible may happen!

Now, there is an entire coalition of powerful nations, ready to defend themselves, and also defend each other. Militarily, economically, and ideologically.

The world is not a slave of the West, or the United States. It is not a latrine.

This is the new world. Considering the horrors that were spread by the West, for many long years and centuries, Asia, Africa, “Latin America”, the Middle East and Oceania, are unbelievably patient and forgiving. But the USA and Europe should not take this tolerance for granted. They should not provoke its former and present victims.

Now, we (the people from the previously ruined part of the world) are beginning to speak up: about what is being done to us – to China and Russia, to South America and Africa, and the Middle East. With awareness comes courage. With courage comes pride.

Do not misinterpret our kindness. It is not a weakness. Not anymore. Think twice before you speak (or Tweet). Think a thousand times, before you act!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

I Pledge Allegiance to the United States of Sociopathy

By Elizabeth Keyes, February 05, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, Shadow of a Doubt, spunky, recent high school grad Teresa Wright discovers her beloved uncle is a serial killer.

Wright’s subsequent efforts to protect herself and others from psychopathic Joseph Cotten are continually frustrated by the extraordinary denial of her family and her community lost in the “thrall” of the worldly, smooth-talking Uncle Charlie.

Heartbroken and distraught, she must contend with her uncle’s violent agenda while being obstructed by a naive and vulnerable community of his enablers and/or soon to be victims.

Wright’s horrifying predicament resonates as I witness my – our – psychopathic uncle – UNCLE SAM, the U.S. government – perpetrate violent crime upon crime against humanity enabled by a maddening, morally mute, over-trusting, under-informed and/or indifferent citizenry.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully wrap my mind or heart around the profound lack of outrage and empathy among government leaders from both corporate parties, the corporate media, as well as the vast majority of my fellow citizens at the ongoing atrocities of the Global War on Terror (more accurately, the “US Global War of Terror”) and the “regime change” covert and/or overt operations initially and sinisterly described as “humanitarian interventions.”

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 seemingly justified a “gloves off” bloodlust defiance by the political and military “guardians” of America of the legal and moral pillars of our democracy. All these years since, the mandates for constitutional and moral justice “for all” have gone unheeded.

The Iraq war was launched illegally and with manipulative lies. Bush’s torture program was in total opposition to constitutional, international and moral law. Its perpetrators deserved serious prosecution.

The Geneva Conventions were ratified once upon a time by a U.S. Congress. Habeas corpus, in place since 1679, so cavalierly suspended with the GWOT’s “anything goes” rationale.

When such gobsmacking evil manifests on such a collective and global level for such a sustained amount of time, it deserves a serious analysis by those of us still spiritually awake enough to protest it.

At this point in my concerned citizenship, I am moving beyond anger into an awe of the scope of the – well – I call it downright and seriously unchallenged EVIL. Looking for a more clinical term than that? How about patriarchal psychopathology?

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter acknowledged the long trail of U.S. international war crimes as well as the lack of historical and current accountability by this government, corporate media and its citizenry for them.

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening . . . You have to hand it to America . . . masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Speaking of bottom-line and minimized evil, the specter of torture has reared its ugly head once again with President Donald Trump, an unabashed torture enthusiast, and the confirmation of his choice for Director of the CIA, “Bloody Gina” Haspel, notorious overseer of a secret black prison in Thailand where brutal torture was conducted. She was readily confirmed by a combination of Democratic and Republican senators. Senators, no doubt, who after fearful years of being labeled “too soft on terror” were not about to stick their necks out for decency and morality.

Too many of my fellow citizens, terminally influenced by an amoral corporate media, I am nonetheless at a loss for their easy acceptance of torture.

A Pew Research poll released in 2017 revealed that 48% of the US citizenry believed that some circumstances could justify the use of torture, and 49% maintained there were no circumstances that would ever justify it.

Every other US citizen is thumb’s up for the use of torture!

How disturbing over the last decade for the use of torture to be normalized and decriminalized by the military, citizenry, politicians, media, and those government lawyers who early on cravenly defied the obvious spirit of basic “Golden Rule” morality, the Constitution, and international law, to minimize the savagery of torture with euphemistic labels still parroted by much of the corporate media and or applied as fig leaves over the reprehensible.

“Enhanced interrogation techniques.” Thank you, New York Times. They are monstrous methods of inflicting debilitating psychological and physical anguish on victims even at times to the point of death. Techniques that, along with being illegal and immoral, are universally regarded as unreliable. They are reliable only in generating false confessions (which apparently was one of the goals of the original, craven perpetrators).

Torture is wrong. It is evil.

Reading Jacob Weisberg’s book, The Bush Tragedy, I learned that the main ego-armature for George W. Bush during his Yale University years was his participation in the fraternity culture.

Weisberg discloses that when “W” finally became head of a fraternity, he “ruled” at one point that lowly pledges be branded with real, Texas branding irons as part of their hazing.

When the Yale Daily News got wind of Bush’s sadistic and zealous intention, it disclosed it to the entire university community. The Yale administrative patriarchs immediately huddled together to deal with the negative P.R. (I’m guessing that far outweighed the actual physical or psychological welfare of the targeted pledges.)

The patriarchs’ solution? Rein in Mr. Bush, whose sociopathy they presumably minimized as an impish, “boys-will-be-boys”-ness. With the proverbial wink and nod, they insisted young Bush forego the branding irons and instead ONLY make use of scalding metal coat hangers or lit cigarettes to burn freshman flesh.

Say what?

Problem solved? This Yale incident foreshadowed and undoubtedly helped foster the ultimate creation of the craven and covert torture program by Bush and cabal, particularly with the ever-Satanic Dick Cheney.

The green-lighting of that more modest degree of torture speaks volumes of a troubling, profoundly unempathetic – sociopathic— macho-mindset within the deepest, most influential halls of America’s supposed intellectual and ruling class elite and mentors of said elite. They enabled and abetted young, already morally-deranged Master Bush, instead of role modeling and enforcing boundaries of basic human decency.

Just another rite of male passage? No wonder our American culture is so violent.

Andy Worthington, a prime advocate for victimized prisoners of Gitmo once reminded his audience during a NYC anti-war forum that in 2007 it was Senator Obama who declared:

“In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantánamo, we have compromised our most precious values. What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power.”

President Obama posed as a person of character most convincingly. It got him the White House. Twice.

Obama took no responsibility for his breathtaking, 180-degree reversals of golden promises of anti-Bush reform, pre-election.

The most obvious and necessarily immediate reforms that he failed to act on were the restoration of habeas corpus rights and the prosecution of the perpetrators of the clandestine Bush torture program, of those who had most reprehensibly exploited the post-9/11 fear, outrage and vengeance sensibility of much of the citizenry.

Obama’s policy decisions instead included deadly drone warfare, assassination kill lists, unlimited due-process-less detentions, military tribunals, countless corporate wars and U.S. military (corporate-opportunistic) garrisoning; and the continuation of Gitmo and God only knows what other black sites.

Obama’s posture was of an always rhetorically amiable and faux-reasonable Roman emperor with thumb’s up or down power over life and death. Many of his “subjects” adored him.

“We tortured some folks,” he finally admitted with a shrug at a press conference. As if it was not a colossally serious deal.

“Folks”? Now there’s a friendly word.

This is heart-of-darkness territory. Obama chose to become an enabler of violators of human rights and then a violator of them himself. To add to the horror, Obama so readily was enabled by the media in this, the vast majority of Congress, and the vast majority of citizens.

Does the cult of celebrity in America overwhelm basic human decency? It seems so.

Do U.S. leaders as diverse (but all amoral) as Bush, Obama and Trump, along with callous political cronies, military leaders and media, only need to repeat the word “terror” enough times to have so much of America fall into a “do with us, our money, or anyone else whatever depraved, anti-humanity behavior you want” kind of swoon?

“To torture or not to torture” not only a hot news media topic, but fodder for jingoistic and sensationalized movies and TV shows (as the normalization of torture steamrolls on).

Loyalty and admiration for the troops (no matter what war crimes they may be committing) and/or blind trust in a national administrative and military authority should not override human decency. American “exceptionalism” should not override identifying and ending war criminality. It does.

The status quo establishment in America has us locked into perpetual war with untold mass global deaths and maiming and ever-increasing economic hardship for all humanity except for a tiny percentage of transnational elites.

A paradigm shift from a “profits over people” patriarchy to the humanism of partnership and cooperation is the answer, but that would require decisions based on a U.S. leadership, a U.S. media and a U.S. society that seriously honored empathy, justice and the law.

Ours do not.

Scott Peck asserts in his book, People of the Lie, that mental health is “dedication to reality at all costs.” This healthy sense of reality includes an in-touchness with one’s inner reality and a respect for the reality of others. It requires the capacity to fully think and FEEL.

This “feeling capacity” – including and especially EMPATHY — seems most vulnerable to dysfunction in our society and world, among both leaders and followers.

Feelings are profoundly under-valued in our U.S. society, and this feeling dysfunction is at the heart (or lack thereof) of the existing suffering and injustice.

Alice Miller, in her book For Your Own Good, refers to a “poisonous pedagogy” that can infect a society. She explains that that was what made the “good” (as in compliant) German population easy prey for the authoritarianism of Hitler.

Miller emphasizes that the capacity for empathy is not linked to one’s intelligence. She points out that both Hitler and Stalin had enthusiastic, highly intellectual followers.

If one is not able to respond with authentic feelings and thoughtful consideration to real life situations involving oneself or others, one is susceptible to “enthrallment” to the will of a toxic and controlling leader, asserts Miller.

She also contends that unprocessed trauma in one’s childhood, that is, when children are exposed to profound degrees of non-empathy from adult caretakers, will cause a crippling or shutting down of their feeling capacity later in adult life along with the potential of a sudden dismantling of their own will for the will of another. Miller explains that such trauma undoubtedly also happened to the original destructive caretakers during their childhoods in a continuing, generational cycle of dysfunction.

When trauma goes unprocessed by feelings, that is, it stays unfelt and un-grieved, it induces one to over-identify with an aggressor and enter his or her “thrall” later in adulthood. Also, such conditioning can induce one to project one’s negative feelings about oneself onto others as scapegoats. People with a disordered feeling capacity cannot handle and take mature responsibility for whatever guilt, shame, anger, frustration gets triggered within them in the present and must deflect it.

In People of the Lie, Scott Peck discusses the experiments of Dr. Stanley Milgram at Yale in 1961 which revealed how people were so readily intimidated by an authority in a white coat that they willingly would inflict what they thought were disabling electric shocks on strangers without question. Six out of 10 of the tested humans were willing to inflict serious harm on strangers from their own over-conditioning to the will of authority figures.

Peck emphasizes how obedience is the foundation of military discipline. “A follower is never a WHOLE person,” he maintains. Tragically, most people are far more comfortable in the “follower” role, leaving the responsibility and decision-making to those who step forward as leaders. When ruthless, reckless, immature, even sociopathic persons assume leadership positions, especially in an authoritarian system, the results can be tragic.

He also contends that a lack of conscience in human beings is partly due to “specialization”, a detachment from responsibility. One regards oneself as simply playing a role in a group scenario and thus can easily pass the “moral buck” so-to-speak to another part of the group. Troops shooting foreign civilians with a kind of “video-game aloofness”, for example will rationalize: “We don’t kill the people. Our weapons do. Whoever gave us these weapons and instructions are really responsible for the killing. Not us.”

Another example he cites is of how weapons manufacturers, sellers, lobbyists, etc. feel no personal responsibility for the consequences of violence from the weapons they distribute. The moral decision as to the use of the weapons is not part of their “specialized” roles. (And the financial profits are just too damn juicy to consider otherwise.)

Peck also cites the regressive shutting down of authentic and appropriate feelings in people due to a phenomenon called “psychic numbing.” The mind has the ability to anesthetize itself from feelings in the face of trauma. “The horrible becomes normal,” he writes.

Finally, he explains that groups bond often within a collectively egotistical groupthink by circling the proverbial wagons against a common, demonized enemy. “The other.” Scapegoating occurs when a group collectively projects the “badness” of themselves, too difficult to fathom, onto others.

James Lucas in an article for globalresearch.com back in 2015 declared that the United States has killed approximately 20 million people in 37 countries since the end of World War II.

How many of us can actually begin to feel and process the utter enormity of such a revelation? (One thinks of a quote attributed to the profoundly non-empathetic Joseph Stalin: “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.”)

What say you to 20 million, America? Look what our UNCLE SAM has wrought.

Can we as a nation cultivate a collective capacity for “empathy”? A critical mass of us reached a breakthrough of collective conscience during the Vietnam era (though it took us long enough, admittedly).

Can each of us dedicate ourselves to a “reality at all costs” awareness for our individual as well as collective mental health?

The fast hardening of soft fascism seems to be happening with little conscious struggle among the masses who seem convinced we non-elites can get away with staying passive and will be supported by our corporate-captured politicians and media.

Can we face down and acknowledge the relentless criminality of our government and representatives (who are not really OUR representatives).

If such crimes are not acknowledged, called out and then accounted for they will continue and escalate in number and nature. Even more frightening, more and more and more “good” Americans will succumb to this “normalization” of evil.

Confronting evil is daunting. Confronting mass and institutionalized evil all the more so. Sickening. Spiritually exhausting. It even has been said to biologically weaken one’s thymus gland that supports the body’s immune system.

We must detach from seductive “cronyism” with authoritarians or authoritarian followers and encourage others to do so.

We must explore the details of what is going on in our citizen name, with our tax dollars and especially with our vulnerable, patriotic and earnest young who can become tragically confounded by and induced to perpetrate institutionalized evil policies.

We owe it to ourselves and our world to stay whole and awake as citizens. To speak truth to power. Once again, “a follower is not a whole person” as Scott Peck declared.

“This is why the individual is sacred. For it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”

It has been said there are three types of people in this world. A smallish group of people who make things happen. A larger group of people who watch things happen. (I am thinking, of those “good people who do nothing.”) And finally the third, excessively large and clueless group, exclaiming, “WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED???”

Let’s try to shrink the second and third groups and expand the first by getting up and exercising those consciences.

This article was originally published by "Counterpunch" -

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America's War on Venezuela

By Garikai Chengu, January 31, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded..

American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.

Over the past five years, American sanctions have cut Venezuela off from most financial markets, which have caused local oil production to plummet. Consequently, Venezuela has experienced the largest decline in living standards of any country in recorded Latin American history.

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded. During the same time period in America, it has been the absolute reverse. President Chavez funneled Venezuela’s oil revenues into social spending such as free+6 healthcare, education, subsidized food networks, and housing construction.

In order to fully understand why America is waging economic war on the people of Venezuela one must analyse the historical relationship between the petrodollar system and Sanctions of Mass Destruction: Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an Oil For Dollars agreement that would change the course of history and become the root cause of countless wars for oil. Under this petrodollar agreement the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar. The Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family’s regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something truly great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendancy of the United States as the world’s sole superpower. America’s war machine runs on, is funded by, and exists in protection of oil.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last two decades Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Over time the petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world’s only superpower, despite being a staggering $23 trillion in debt.

With billions of dollars worth of minerals in the ground and with the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela should not only be wealthy, but her people the envy of the developing world. But the nation is essentially broke because American sanctions have cut them off from the international financial system and cost the economy $6 billion over the last five years. Without sanctions, Venezuela could recover easily by collateralizing some of its abundant resources or its $8 billion of gold reserves, in order to get the loans necessary to kick-start their economy.

In order to fully understand the insidious nature of the Venezuelan crisis, it is necessary to understand the genesis of economic sanctions. At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcast through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage. The political backlash forced U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: economic sanctions.

The term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) was first defined by the United Nations in 1948 as

"atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above."

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century’s deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

In 2001, the U.S. administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. In fact, America already knew that the only weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had were not nuclear in nature, but rather chemical and biological. The only reason they knew this in advance was because America sold the weapons to Saddam to use on Iran in 1991.

What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that Saddam Hussein used to be a strong ally of the United States. The main reason for toppling Saddam and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq was the fact that Iraq had ditched the Dollar-for-Oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton’s sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America’s top foreign policy official, Albright, replied:

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Clearly, U.S. sanctions policies are nothing short of state-sanctioned genocide.

Over the last five years, sanctions have caused Venezuelan per capita incomes to drop by 40 percent, which is a decline similar to that of war torn Iraq and Syria at the height of their armed conflicts. Millions of Venezuelans have had to flee the country. If America is so concerned about refugees, Trump should stop furthering disastrous foreign policies that actually create them. Under Chavez, Venezuela had a policy of welcoming refugees. President Chavez turned Venezuela into the wealthiest society in Latin America with the best income equality.

Another much vilified leader who used oil wealth to enrich his people, only to be put under severe sanctions, is Muammar Gaddafi. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his quest to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. Dollars and denominate crude sales in a new gold backed common African currency. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold-backed Dinar currency.

Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the petrodollar system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which the United Nations Children’s Fund said caused widespread suffering among civilians by “severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are weapons of mass destruction.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, U.S. Military intervention and economic sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world’s most failed nations.

"They want to seize Libya's oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people," remarked Chavez during the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.

In September 2017, President Maduro made good on Chavez’s promise to list oil sales in Yuan rather than the US dollar. Weeks later Trump signed a round of crippling sanctions on the people of Venezuela.

On Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions that essentially steal $7 billion from Venezuela’s state owned oil company. At that press conference Bolton brazenly flashed a note pad that ominously said “5,000 troops to Colombia”. When confronted about it by the media, Bolton simply said,

"President Trump stated that all options are on the table."

America’s media is unquestionably the most corrupt institution in America. The nation’s media may quibble about Trump’s domestic policies but when it comes to starting wars for oil abroad they sing in remarkable unison. Fox News, CNN and the New York Times all cheered the nation into war in Iraq over fictitious weapons of mass destruction, whilst America was actually using sanctions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people. They did it in Libya and now they are doing it again in Venezuela. Democracy and freedom have always been the smoke screen in front of capitalist expansion for oil, and the Western Media owns the smoke machine. Economic warfare has long since been under way against Venezuela but military warfare is now imminent.

Trump just hired Elliot Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, who has a long and torrid history in Latin America. Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair, which involved America funding deadly communist rebels, and was the worst scandal in the Reagan Era. Abrams was later pardoned by George Bush Senior. America’s new point man on Venezuela also lied about the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history by U.S. trained forces in El Salvador.

There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état. A UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, pointed out that America’s aim in Venezuela is to “crush this government and bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations.”

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world’s top creditor country to the world’s most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system’s huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending.

America’s largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America’s largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation like Venezuela that threatens that export is met with America’s second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

This article was originally published by "Global Research"

In Case You Missed it - Reposted From December 2006 - Why We're at War? Confessions of a USA Economic Hit Man, Meet John Perkins

By Sam Elfassy, January 29, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", blows the lid of US imperiliasm and provides the reasons as to why it is at war in the Middle East.

Since his book was published, and his famous interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now TV, where he also describes more of the US ugly deeds against the innocent Iranian people, John Perkins has worked to get the truth out in every possible way.

Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars - in US government service.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he writes how he helped the US cheat poor countries around the world by blackmailing them to borrow more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.

Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard Professor, John E. Mack, writes about the book: "One of the most important stories of our time… a work of great insight, moral courage and transformational depth…a page turner about the ruthlessness with which the United States uses economic manipulation and political coercion to extend our power and control over other nations".

Perkins writes: "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. THEY WERE ASSASSINATED BECAUSE THEY OPPOSED THAT FRATERNITY OF CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT, AND BANKING HEADS WHOSE GOAL IS GLOBAL EMPIRE. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in".

Here is a three part speech given to the Veterans For Peace National Convention, Seattle, WA, in late 2006.




United States Doesn't Even Make Top 20 on Global Democracy Index, By Andrea Germanos, January 17, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

A new index released this week offers a sobering look at how democracy is faring in the United States.

According to the 2018 edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, the U.S. doesn't even make the list of top 20—its demonstrably "flawed democracy" notching it the 25th spot.

The ranking is based on 60 indicators spanning five interrelated categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Each category gets a 0-10 score, with the final score being the average of those five.

Topping out the index are Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Denmark. They are each declared "full democracies," as their scores, all above 9.22, were easily above the 8.2 threshold. With a final score of 7.96, the United States, in contrast, earned the "flawed democracy" label. The country's highest score was 8.22, which it earned back in 2006 and again in 2008.

North America still holds the claim for the highest average score of any region, but that's thanks to Canada's 9.15, which landed it the number 6 spot overall. Twenty countries (12 percent) were designated as full democracies, 14 of which are located in Western Europe.

Rounding out the bottom of the list, meanwhile, are Chad, the Central African Republican, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and North Korea, with scores identifying them as "authoritarian regimes."

The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization, By Paul Craig Roberts, January 17, 2019 "Information Clearing House "

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world.

Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies?—?the intelligence agencies?—?they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of?—?internally in the US, outside is another story.”

The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) or State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD), commonly known as the Stasi was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed. - Wikipedia

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities.

How The NSA Tracks You: Former NSA Technical Director

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

Saving America and the world by slashing US military spending, Dave Lindorff, NationofChange, January 18, 2019

Instead, we need to spend this huge totally wasted share of our national wealth on our own long neglected social needs and on saving this country and world from an increasingly obvious looming environmental catastrophe.

The time has come to cut the US military down to size.

Last November, the Pentagon admitted what critics have known for years: It cannot pass an audit that would let Congress, the media and taxpayers know what it does with the trillions of dollars that have been lavished on war and preparing for war by this country.

By all accounts, the US accounts for more than a third of all global military spending. The next biggest spender on its military, China, only spends a fifth as much as the U.S.. And remember, as a full-fledged police state and a country whose peripheral provinces have to be kept under tight military control lest they move towards independence from Beijing, much of China’s huge military is actually involved not in threatening other countries or even defending China, but in maintaining government control domestically.

[So how is that different than the USA?]

Let’s be honest: The United States faces no significant threat from any nation in the world.

Sure I know: Russia and even China have nuclear weapons that, if launched en masse at the U.S. could destroy this country. But everyone knows such an action would be to commit national suicide. With its vast nuclear arsenal stowed in patrolling submarines, in protected silos ready to be fired off in minutes, and in bases around the world, including some quite close to China’s and Russia’s borders, the U.S. not only could destroy both countries many times over in response, but is actually able and prepared to attack either country or both countries first, perhaps even preventing them from retaliating successfully

The reality is that it is the US which is the most threatening and destabilizing force in the world today. It is U.S. military spending, and the U.S. role as the world’s largest arms merchant, selling and giving away more than 34% of all weapons and military equipment in the global arms market to a total of 98 countries, that drives global military spending. Russia, at a puny 22% of all arms sales, is distinctly second rate in the world arms market.

None of these weapons sales by the U.S. make the world a safer place. They all, along ever-increasing spending by the U.S. on its own military, and its continuing use of that military to intervene in, invade and threaten other countries, contribute to the hugely costly and harmful effort by other nations to build up their own military in response to the U.S. and its client states.

The losers in this zero-sum game of one-upmanship are the peoples of the world, who are denied good schools, decent health care, sound economies, democratic governments, modern transport systems, and perhaps worst of all, spending on environmentally safe development of energy infrastructure that could prevent the destruction of the entire global ecosystem.

And that includes us, the people of the United States. Deliberately frightened by the amped up propaganda put out by government agencies like the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the Justice Department, we cower and accept having more than 54% of all federal discretionary spending – a sum that has reached over $1.6 trillion this year, equal to all income taxes and corporate profit taxes collected by the IRS – expropriated by the Pentagon and other “national security” agencies.

That is money that could be providing us with a first rate educational system, free college for all who desire and qualify for higher education, a modern transit system, revitalized cities, and a modern energy system based on the non-carbon-based sources like solar power, water power and geo-thermal power that would not contribute to rampaging climate change. Instead we have a school system that makes me cringe whenever I drive past a school building here in Philadelphia (the nation’s fifth largest school district) or in New York City, or when I read that only 12 percent of Los Angeles’s public school children go on to college.

It is simply madness that has led us to this point. Madness by a ruling elite that only cares about grasping an ever larger share of the national and global wealth, madness by a corporate media that cares only about gaining an ever larger share of readers/viewers even if that is achieved by offering people scare stories about health threats, crime, scary immigrants and terrorism instead of genuinely needed reports on environmental threats, political corruption and America’s true role as a rogue nation in the world, and madness among a public that has been led to believe that it has no real ability to change things except to go meekly to the polls once every two or four years to vote for carefully screened candidates of two parties controlled by corporate bribes.

I have traveled to much of the world (so far not yet Africa), and it is an eye-opener to see the incredible advances that have occurred in recent decades in previously backward countries like China, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea.

Just take China, where I lived on and off for six years in the ‘90s. During that time, Shanghai, which had no subway system in 1990, built an underground rail system as large as New York’s (400 miles of gleaming marble-and-glass subway stations and smooth, quiet tunnels), and morphed from a sleepy ruin of a colonial-era city of crumbling buildings to a huge metropolis of towering skyscrapers and international commerce, even featuring a maglev airport train that whisks passengers the for 30 miles between the international airport and the city center at almost 200 mph. Many other Chinese cities have undergone similar transformations.

I have visited European countries where citizens enjoy tax-funded universal health care at a far lower national and per capita cost than we face here in the U.S. and have well-funded government retirement schemes that allow the elderly to retire without any drop in their living standard, all the while having worked at jobs that paid them better than in the U.S. and gave them six or more weeks a year of paid vacation. Countries that also offer their nation’s youth free college education and far greater opportunities for upward social mobility than does the vaunted U.S. with its myth of “anyone can make it here.”

Why is this so? Because the US has become essentially a garrison warrior state – a kind of modern Sparta, obsessed with concepts like “global dominance,” the supposed ability to “fight and win two wars at once” (fully disproven over the past 74 years of lost and stalemated wars), with “force projection” and dreams of achieving “technological superiority.” We have become a country that lionizes generals, that applauds uniformed men and women walking through an airport waiting hall, that calls all its problematic police officers “heroes,” but that ignores its real heroes: the teachers, nurses, EMT personnel, volunteer firefighters, mail carriers, nursing home aides, artists, highway repair crews and yes, even journalists – the lowly folks who really keep the country going and make our lives possible.

If we don’t turn this situation around, renounce our obsession with violence and with war as the preferred solution to international disputes, not only will this country go the way of Sparta and Rome, both powerful states that died of self-inflicted wounds, but we will likely drag the rest of the world with us into oblivion.

The latest reports on the climate front are grim. It turns out that the world’s oceans have been for decades masking the real heating up of the globe that has been the result of humanity’s – and especially U.S. Americans’ frantic appetite for burning ever more coal, oil and gas in pursuit of goods, comfort, speed, wealth and power, absorbing as much as 93% of all the additional heat trapped by increased greenhouse chemicals in the atmosphere over the last two centuries.

Now the seas have taken on about all the extra heat they can, and we are likely to start seeing the atmosphere itself heat up dramatically. The North polar region, we know, is soon to lose its entire ice cap in summer, perhaps in a few years but in any even no later than 2030.

No less an agency than the U.S. Navy is saying this, and is being given funds by a hypocritical Congress of climate change deniers to establish a whole new Naval Fleet in the Arctic Ocean to “project power” in that newly navigable seventh of the famed Seven Seas, the better to allow U.S. energy corporations to extract even more dangerous oil and gas reserves from under the newly ice-free sea bed safe (at taxpayer expense) from challenges by competing countries with Arctic coastlines like Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark/Greenland.

Meanwhile the latest reports on Antarctica, where there is enough stored ice on land to, if it melts, raise the world’s seas by almost 200 feet, are that the ice there is melting all over the continent, not just in the western region, and that it is melting some six times faster than scientists had thought until now (even climate change-denying Fox TV is now reporting on this looming catastrophe).

There is an urgent need for the U.S., and for the people of this self-described “indispensable” nation to wake up from our torpor, to throw off our fear-induced and greed-driven obsession with military spending, and to turn both inward to the need to develop a humane and sustainable society that benefits all its members, and outward to become a cooperative and non-threatening member of the global community of nations so we can together tackle the grave challenges to global survival that our remarkable but at the same time often aggressive and emotionally volatile and short-sighted species has caused.

I suggest that for a start, we the American people demand that our government, in open public Congressional hearings, subject the Pentagon and all the other “national security” agencies of the federal government – the CIA, Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Interior Department, the Energy Department, etc. – to a rigorous process of zero-budget accounting, in which ever dollar being requested has to be justified before it can be appropriated and billed to taxpayers. It’s a process long overdue.

The Pentagon, for the last 28 years, has been obstinately refusing a Congressional mandate to produce an auditable budget. When it was finally forced by Congress last year to submit to one, it failed abysmally. As I wrote in a Nation magazine cover story last month, the Pentagon has been submitting fraudulent financial reports to Congress for nearly three decades, so we can’t even know what they have spent all our tax dollars on for decades, or even how much they have actually spent!

Only by making them defend their budget requests line by line and dollar by dollar can we really ever decide in a rational manner what we want to spend our money on. Only then can we weigh the $150 million cost of a single F-35 fifth-generation fighter-bomber against the opportunity lost of funding a new high school or hospital, or the cost of another aircraft carrier battle group against the opportunity lost of a new high speed rail line between New York and Chicago or a subway, instead of just two miles of abandoned tunnel, for Cincinnati.

If China, a nation of 1.3 billion fractious people living under an iron-fisted dictatorship, can get by with a military budget of just $174 billion (considerably less than the $198 billion U.S. will spend this year on just its Veterans Affairs budget to care for the damaged troops from its endless wars), surely this relatively domestically tranquil nation could do the same, slashing its military spending by 80% or more.

Want to “make America great again”? The way to do that is not to ramp up military spending as the current administration and Congress are doing, but rather to end our wasteful spending of over a trillion dollars a year on arms, war and so-called “national security” and to instead spend this huge totally wasted share of our national wealth on our own long neglected social needs and on saving this country and world from an increasingly obvious looming environmental catastrophe.

Dave Lindorff is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011 and 2012. Wikipedia

The Price of Empire - Why America and Britain Are Self-Destructing (And What the World Can Learn From it)

by Umair Haque, Eudaimonia, 1-11-19

It’s a striking fact of today’s world that the two rich societies in shocking, swift, sharp decline are America and Britain. Nowhere else in the world, for example, are real income, life expectancy, happiness, and trust all plummeting, apart from maybe Venezuela (No, “but at least we’re not Venezuela!” is not the bar to aim for, my friends.) Their downfall is, of course, a self-inflicted catastrophe. But the interesting question is: why? And what does it tell us about what it takes to prosper and thrive in the 21st century, which is something that America and Britain clearly aren’t doing, and maybe aren’t capable of doing?

Here’s an equally curious observation. America and Britain aren’t just any countries. They are the former hegemons of the world’s most powerful empires. Britain, until the first half of the 20th century, and America, picking up where Britain left off. Is this just a strange cosmic coincidence?—?that it is the two greatest empires of the most recent past who are the ones seemingly most incapable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century? There aren’t coincidences that great, my friends. Such tides of history always whisper lessons to be learned. What is this one trying to urgently teach us?

That there is a price to empire. A grave and ruinous one. And that price has grown over the centuries?—?so high that now, it is not worth paying anymore. Let me explain what I mean?—?because it is not just about spending too much money and grasping too high. Not at all. It is about the kind of a place and people such a country ends up limited to being?—?and perhaps can then never really easily outgrow.

To be a great empire, you must also be a certain kind of culture, society, place— a people with a certain set of values, a certain kind of attitudes. You must cherish control and prize possession over humanity and empathy and wisdom.

You must value brutal competition above all else?—?and train your children to be little warriors, basically, whether tossing them into seas, like Spartans, or making them do “active shooter drills.” You must be domineering and controlling and vengeful, feared, not loved?—?you must come to prize anger and rage as the only true or worthy emotions in life, not, say, intelligence gentleness, kindness, or happiness.

The primary objective of your institutions, the aspiration of your best and brightest, must be subjugating others, instead of lifting them up?—?after all, empires are made of subjects, not equals.

You must instill in people an admiration for violence--since empires are run with bullets, whether fired from drones or armies. Your science and art and so forth must be dedicated, fundamentally, to the proposition that somehow, you are the natural masters of the world which is your dominion?—?no matter how they claim to admire freedom and equality and truth. You cannot plan for any kind of long term good?—?your primary motive is simply to acquire, colonize, plunder, take the next possession.

In other words, to be an empire, you must cultivate the qualities of cruelty, of selfishness, of greed, of tribalism, socially. Of materialism and acquisitiveness and conformity to greed and selfishness, mentally. You must encourage the rise of supremacy and triumphalism and bigotry and misogyny, culturally. You must attach to all human life just one purpose: not happiness, or belonging, or the growth of meaning and purpose, but material gain, whether it’s measured in colonies, protectorates, slaves, bodies, or GDP.

Thus, the overarching organizing principle of your entire empire must be just this: the strong survive, and the weak perish. Everyone?—?even the weak--must come to buy into this principle, treasure it, cheer it, applaud it--even when they themselves are the ones being destroyed. Just think of how Donald Trump embodies all those values to a comical, disgusting degree.

How else are you to run an empire? How else are you to convince people to go out there and conquer the world for you?—?instead of happily tilling their fields and loving their children, taking fields and children from others? You can’t do it without accomplishing most or all of the above. Every empire from Rome to Egypt to America to Britain has needed to build these ramparts and beams of the human mind and spirit to be an empire.

Empires are Darwinian things, little pecking orders of humanity?—?what they are not is democracies, really, though they might be so in name, they cannot be in spirit, in intellect, in sentiment, in truth.

Now. Let’s observe the state of America and Britain today?—?and then connect the dots. What’s really curious about them? Just think of Trumpism and Brexit as you read the next paragraph.

These are societies which cannot brook the idea of being equals with any other. Isn’t that Trumpism and Brexit are really about?—?we must be number one? They are societies which cannot cooperate with any other--or even cooperate amongst themselves. They are societies which cannot plan for the long term. Societies which seem to revel in both their cruelty and their ignorance, while the world looks on, aghast.

They prefer being Darwinian places to being humane ones. They would rather build walls than build schools and hospitals, minds and bodies. They are societies which cannot tolerate the idea that they do not still reign supreme--and the moment their supremacy is threatened, bang! They lash out even at their closest neighbours, allies, friends, and partners.

Don’t these two lists seem weirdly, eerily, strikingly similar to you--the list of the qualities it takes to be an empire, and the list of savage, intractable problems afflicting Britain and America, which have caused them to crater into extreme ruin? That’s not a coincidence either. It is cause and effect. Let me put that more clearly.

America and Britain built the world’s two biggest, most powerful empires--ever, period. Sure, America didn’t call countries it’s colonies?—?it said (LOL) that it “liberated” them. What that means is that they effectively became colonies of American style predatory capitalism (take a look at Puerto Rico--or Iraq.) Just a century ago, half the world was a British colony?—?I don’t need to tell you that story.

Now, the problem with a colonial mentality, attitude, society, way of life is this. What happens when you run out of stuff to colonize? After all, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of tempting frontiers, helpless savages, Manhattans to trade for beads, fish in the ocean, and so on, right? That day might seem a long way away--but it has to come, after all.

Well, then, my friends, you are screwed--if you can’t give up the colonial mindset, then you will have to colonize yourself. What do I mean by this curious phrase, “colonize yourself”? I mean that you will have to exploit your own people the very same way that you exploited others before. You will have to teach them to exploit each other, just the same way that they once exploited poorer people of different “colors” and creeds, when there are no more of those strangers in new frontiers left to conquer, no more fresh mountains left to plunder.

And that is exactly what happened in America and Britain. It’s most obvious in America. When there was no one else left to exploit--first it was slaves, then it was subhuman blacks kept segregated, then it was various countries who were “liberated” by war for their oil and cheap labour--bang! Americans were told to turn on themselves. They obeyed. What else did they know? That is what they’d been told all their lives--that this mindset of exploitation and violence is good. So off the American went to work as a manager at an HMO, where his job was to deny people healthcare, or as a minor-league corporate droid, where his job was to find cleverer ways to jack up profits he never even saw a larger share of.

(It happened in Britain, too--only in a roundabout way. Though Britain tried to overcome empire’s hangover, by building great public institutions, like the NHS, in the end, the values of greed and selfishness and hate, the need to be supreme, won out. But all that meant was that Brits began to exploit each other. That is not just what Brexit clearly shows--but its root causes, Brits getting poorer for a decade or two, as they turned on each other.)

You see, giving up something like a colonial mindset is not easy. It is addictive, just like any easy pleasure. It’s much easier to suppose that my prosperity comes from taking yours, at the point of a gun--whether or not I call it “liberation”--than it does from recognizing you as a human being, doing the hard work of lifting you up.

But the truth is that is precisely where prosperity comes from: me lifting you up. Not me colonizing you. That is the greatest lesson of the 20th century. How do we know? From the nations which truly turned their backs on empire.

Many other nations had empires, too--just not ones as great and strong. So perhaps they were easier to let go of. Or perhaps it was the great war and its horrors which taught them the lesson better. Still, nations like France, Germany, and Spain did a better job of letting the colonialist mindset go. After the war, Europe tried hard to build a new continent on a new attitude--wealth would not come from seizing it from others anymore, but from cooperating to lift one another up. What had the road of seizing wealth, life, prosperity from others ended in after all--but horror and ruin?

But English speaking societies, it seems, never learned this lesson. There are days I wonder if they can. They are too wedded to their colonial mindset--attitudes of supremacy, of being-number-one, of not being able to treat anyone else as an equal, of an inability to cooperate, of anger as the primary emotion in life--to make any progress now, it seems to me. The English speaking countries probably won’t lead the world in the 21st century. That shouldn’t be controversial. They can barely manage themselves at this point. But the lesson, I think, cuts deep and true.

The price of empire is that maturity, psychologically, socially, economically, culturally, becomes harder and harder, every day. Maturity beyond what, exactly? Beyond violence. Beyond stupidity. Beyond greed and selfishness and cruelty.

You see, the Anglos of the world have never given up their strange love of and lust for all these things--whether it comes in the form of suddenly insulting their neighbours, building walls, starting needless wars, whether wars of trade or wars fought with missiles, drone-bombing children to death, or the subtler violence and greed of people taking their neighbours’ healthcare and jobs and savings away.

But violence and greed and cruelty cannot lead anyone anymore to prosperity in the 21st century. There is nobody left to colonize and exploit left but yourself, your very own society, in a world which is out of easy frontiers and helpless peoples. Nobody’s trading Manhattans for beads anymore, are they? And so violence and greed is only left in one form: self-destruction. Funnily, ironically, foolishly, tragically, the only choice that English speaking world seem able to make anymore is self-destruction--because the problem is that empire’s price is an addiction to ruin in the first place, but in the end, there is no one to ruin but yourself.

United States Will Bring Assange to US in Chains

By Ann Garrison November 14, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government.

It’s hardly surprising, given that in ten years’ time, Wikileaks published more classified information than all other media combined. It exposed human rights abuses, government spying, torture, and war crimes on an unprecedented scale.

WikiLeaks put government, corporations and even the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret.

It created a trove of primary source material that serious journalists and researchers will mine for years to come. Its publications are accessible to readers who prefer primary sources to mostly mediated news.

Wikileaks so infuriates the USA’s most violent, corrupt, and criminal institutions that Hillary Clinton half-jokingly suggested drone-bombing Assange. Other U.S. politicians called for his execution by other means.

California’s 28th District Congressman Adam Schiff, who became the chair of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats reclaimed the House, said he would speak to Assange “when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”

Schiff is a vociferous and supremely self-righteous leader of the Democratic Party’s “Resistance,” which sullies the name of the underground movement formed in France during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s occupying forces and the collaborationist Vichy government.

The “Resistance” tolerates only one truth and one loyalty: Russia is the enemy, interfering in Syria, the Ukraine and even U.S. elections. Russia elected Trump with Wikileaks’ help, it says. Russia dares to position missiles on its own borders, it says, to respond to NATO’s missiles on the other side. The U.S. must build more missiles, more drones, more nuclear weapons, and every other sort of weapon to defend the European world against Russia and its ally China.

Moral and Racial Superiority

Moral and racial superiority entitles the U.S. to occupy the world with military bases, ringing any nation that challenges its hegemony with military aircraft, battleships, assault vehicles, and military surveillance. Moral and racial superiority entitles its spy state agencies to shut down access to information deviating from its narratives and therefore to arrest and extradite Julian Assange.

The Republican Party shares the same supremely intolerant nature as the Democrats, but differentiates itself by insisting that, although Russia is the enemy, Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

The Republicans also want to silence the founder of Wikileaks and find a way to shut the organization down. Trump’s former CIA director, and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and vowed to hunt Assange down.

Has Time Run Out?

Assange has been an asylee in Ecuador’s London Embassy for more than six years—since August 2012. Ecuador and the UK, however, are no closer to an agreement that would allow him safe passage out of the embassy. In a recent video conference, #Unity4J organizer Suzie Dawson said she fears Assange and those working to free him are running out of time:

“Right now time is not on our side. And I had someone today complaining because they want us to do a big, big action day march. When you do those types of actions it takes two or three months to organize. You need to have an organizing committee, you need to wallpaper the town, you need to have one date that you do it on, you need to do a ton of advertising. You need to get all the unions and various other organizations to sign on board, and then you have this one action day.

“Well, there’s a couple of problems with that. First of all, I don’t think we have three months right now. If we schedule a February giant march in support of Julian, I honestly don’t think we have until February. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the actions we take in the short term, in the next days and weeks, will buy us that much time for Julian, but I don’t see it.”

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison for exposing the agency’s official use of torture, said if Assange walks out of the embassy without a guarantee of safe passage, he will be extradited to the U.S. in chains:

“We all know why the British have that embassy ringed. It’s to snatch him and to turn him over to the United States. If that happens, the CIA and the FBI are both going to be on that plane and they’re both going to be at least attempting to interrogate him all the way back home. They will bring him back to the United States in chains because that’s what they do.“

Dawson feels the FBI and CIA will interrogate and torture Assange to try to obtain information that would allow them to bring Wikileaks down. She has no doubt he’s been preparing for this eventuality for years. She believes he will have made sure the organization has adopted security codes and measures he himself doesn’t know and therefore can’t reveal—even if he’s tortured.

“They want to know about security files for example. They want to know about the inner processes and workings of Wikileaks. They want access to the knowledge that’s inside Julian’s brain. And they will torture him. And they will interrogate him in order to attempt to get that.

“Now I trust Julian to be smart enough to have made sure that even he doesn’t possess a lot of that knowledge. In my personal opinion, Julian has spent years planning for these various eventualities, but it won’t stop them from trying.”

Dawson aded intelligence agencies are eager to punish him: “At the end of the day they want to punish him for outing their corruption and their crimes. They’ve been waiting eight years to do it, and they will be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of the UK detaining him and extraditing him to the USA.”

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.

This article was originally published by " Consortium News"

The Day American Patriarchy Took its Mask Off--You Can Have a Democracy?—?or You Can Have Men Competing to be the Most Dominant and Abusive. But You Can’t Have Both.

9-27-18, Eudaimonia, by Umair Haque

I don’t know if I have the words to remotely do justice to today’s especially grotesque chapter in American collapse. So forgive me if I fall short. I’m still angry, disgusted, and ashamed?—?maybe you are too. I’ll come back to that.

We saw many things today. We saw an obviously, clearly still traumatized sexual assault survivor quivering with fright, displaying all the classic signs of severe emotional harm?—?yet still miles braver than all the jowled, preening, finely suited men taunting and goading and smirking at her.

We saw those very men arrange something like a Kafkaesque, Soviet political sham trial?—?a public spectacle, designed to humiliate, replete with hostile prosecutor, who interrogated her with irrelevant question after irrelevant question, designed to cast suspicion on this frightened, impossibly brave woman’s tiniest motive (“How did you get here?” “On an airplane.”).

And then, at last, we saw the accused himself?—?as high and mighty as Jove on a throne, sneering with disdain, dripping with contempt, voice cracking like a whip, rage flashing. And then?—?sobbing great, unctuous crocodile tears of self-pity. And then, in the end, finally, smirking that very same smirk all those men smiled, at the very beginning.

This was the day American patriarchy took its mask off. And revealed its true self to the world. Did you like what you saw? Or were you disgusted and repelled and ashamed, to be a part of this, too, enraged at the ordeal, like I was?

What mask am I talking about? What does it look like? Why have so many of us had such difficulty seeing through it for so long? The mask American patriarchy wears is made of lacrosse games and fraternities and societies and prep schools and Ivy League universities. Of blazers and club ties and boathouses. Of a veneer of genteel civility and politesse. And yet none of these things seem to civilize these boys very much, or nearly enough. They become young men, who become adults but somehow stay children, at all.

Landon and Georgetown Prep and Hilton Arms and Holy Cross. I grew up amongst all that, it might surprise you to know?—?but just for a year. I rebelled so fiercely that my parents had to, shouting at me, apologizing to the principal, take me out of the storied private school they’d proudly put me into?—?not understanding, coming from another world, just how explosively destructive American patriarchy really was.

What did you see Brett Kavanaugh do today? He flipped, in this strange, polarized, binary way, between extreme narcissistic rage?—?shouting, red-faced, about his many accomplishments, thundering how he’d been first in his class, and so on?—?and just as extreme unctuous self-pity, in great broken sobs?—?how can they have done this to me? Isn’t that bizarre? Psychologically, we’d call it borderline level malignant narcissism?—?not an ounce of concern or regard for anyone else: he was the world’s greatest victim, hounded and pursued by malign forces, unfair because he was as pure as the driven snow. A virgin, so they say.

All that?—?as confusing as it may be?—?is exactly what patriarchy really is. These are the only two behaviours that patriarchy really allows men. I will come to why, but first I want you to understand them. Men in patriarchal hierarchies?—?let’s just say people who can only really climb up or slide down hierarchies?—?only have two behaviours available to them. Those who will climb to the top of such systems must do so by becoming the most dominant and controlling?—?they must threaten the most violence. When they cannot do that, they must become obsequious, maybe even weepy, playing the victim. That way, their potential power is maximized?—?those below them fall into line, while those above them aren’t threatened.

Violence is the only language such men really understand?—?only now the mask is slipping away, so we can see it a little better. Hasn’t that always been an especially American problem?

Hence, again and again, we see such personalities rise in them?—?Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and so forth. Classic malignant narcissists?—?who skyrocketed through patriarchal systems, which were rising in collapsing democracies, as they always do. Pecking orders of violence were being established, as democracies were crumbling.

Do you see how the dynamics of social hierarchies neatly explain the strange, bizarre behaviour we saw in Kavanaugh today?—?the screams which became the sobs? It wasn’t that he exhausted himself?—?not at all. He alternated rapidly, unconsciously, predictably between threatening a kind of ruinous violence?—?at one point he literally shouted at the country “you’ve reaped the whirlwind!!”, I think?—?which was as plain as day to see on his face, which was why everyone who had been near an abuser commented how obvious his rage was?—?and then lapsed into great gasping sobs of self-pity and self-entitlement, instantly becoming the world’s greatest victim (“I was number one in my class!!”).

The reason that men in such structures make sport of abuse?—?gang rape, hazing, bullying, and so on?—?is that the abuse is what establishes the hierarchy.

Remember, the one who is the most violent is the one who rises highest. And so the group must discover, together, who that one really is. Who will lead the rape tonight? Who will throw the first punch at the cowering little child? Who will aim the first kick at the gay couple? All these establish the leader of the pack, the top dog, if you like, amongst men in hierarchical structures. They need violence to “structurate”, to establish the structures that bond them together, to form the tribal hierarchy. Pecking orders of violence.

[Yep. That's Trump alright. - CG]

...it’s not the case that these were once decent and kind men. Instead, it seems that American social structures select for and reward abusers?—?because that is how tribal, primal hierarchies are maintained, enforced, and reproduced. It takes predation and abuse to establish the hierarchy, who is on top, who is on bottom, and who is not a person at all, and America is made of just such hierarchies, such pecking orders of dominance and violence, only maybe implicit, everywhere you look?—?from work to politics to culture?—?and hence, America is a place where abuse and predation have become endemic, systemic, and normal.

You can either have patriarchy?—?or you can have democracy. But you cannot have both. America has never really become a genuine democracy?—?just 20% of the American Congress and Senate are women, compared to 40% in Europe, for example, less even than in Pakistan?—?and that is because what it has always been is far too much a patriarchy.

But now that you understand what that word really means, let’s state it more plainly. It has always been ruled by a little tribe of men among whom the most violent, abusive, and narcissistic rise to the top--because rigid hierarchies will quite naturally always select for such a person.

Social structures which go on selecting for violence, instead of courage, truth, kindness, wisdom, intelligence, or compassion, are the grim residue--the toxic waste--of centuries of supremacy, of racism, of slavery, of genocide, if we are honest. They are what made America rich, and maybe even powerful if you think power is only a thing had at the point of a gun.

But now this structurally selected, encouraged, inculcated, and cultivated violence?—?so prized amongst American elites?—?is what is tearing America apart, too.

That is why we see monsters rising in America today. America’s fundamentally undemocratic social structures were never really undone, unraveled, unmade enough?—?and so the pecking orders of violence which structurate America rule on and on.

People were never really made equal?—?which is to say, liberated from being preyed upon and abused, for the sake of the social status of the predators and abusers.

All that is what today proves. And you are very right to be ashamed, because, in truth, we all stand disgraced, as a nation, as a country, and as a people.

Has The U.S. Gone Insane?

By Jeffrey Bowers November 09, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

What does United States of America stand for nowadays if political division is at an all time high?

Is it still the land of the free if America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world?

Are we still the home of the brave if we refuse to stand up to injustice, because it would compromise our pocketbook?

This disconnection from reality is the definition of psychosis.

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, best-selling author, and activist Chris Hedges, has made it his life’s work to highlight this inequity and combat the complacency of the consumerist culture. In a 2010 essay published on Adbusters, Hedges caught the eye of filmmaker Amanda Zackem, when he succinctly spelled out the problems with totalitarian capitalism and corporate power. Those ideas deeply resonated with Zackem and caused her to reach out to Hedges about bringing his essay into the cinematic realm in order to expose them to a larger audience. This week’s Staff Pick Premiere, “American Psychosis,” is the result of that process and their attempt to make people think more deeply about the world we’re living in.

“We live in an unbalanced, exploitation-based system and that’s not morally right or just. The issues of totalitarian capitalism and totalitarian corporate power need to be discussed more openly and honestly in our national dialogue,” says Zackem. “To be clear, totalitarian capitalism is not sustainable and should not be intertwined with our government. Most people don’t realize how their consumer choices negatively impact the world – environmentally, socially, culturally, politically, globally.”

Without going deep into the trenches, the short documentary illuminates many of these issues. However, with its hard-lined perspective, “American Psychosis” serves as a vital entry point to critically observing, thinking, and acting on the imbalances one sees in society. “I learned long ago that you can’t change anybody unless they want to change themselves. With this in mind, my intention when making this film was to encourage people to begin to think critically about the world we live in as opposed to just going through our daily motions.

Most of us aren’t even aware of the oppressive, inequitable systems we are a part of, or if we are, we choose not to look, or not to talk about it, because it is uncomfortable. I want people to question the world we live in, the systems we’ve set up. I want people to self-reflect and take personal responsibility for our current situation. Why do we allow it to continue? What are we afraid of? How can we co-create and help each other live and thrive as individuals and as a community?”

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Using those words as a rubric, one can’t help but acknowledge the widespread injustice happening across our society and question our government’s interests.

Traditionally totalitarian mechanisms are being used to silence dissenters, imprison people without due process, challenge the freedom of the press, promote hatred between different ethnic groups, and destroy the humanities and arts. “I believe in the ripple effect and that every person’s energy – be it big or small actions towards positive change – is powerful and vital to a functioning democracy,” says Zackem. “This film is my contribution to this larger dialogue.” As the United States moves closer to the November 6th midterm election, each citizen must ask themselves what they want for this country and how to best achieve it. The first step is to vote, which is the easiest and best way to contribute to that change.

Vimeo: Thinking about American society since the 2016 presidential
election (post international fiascos, post Brett Kavanaugh, and more),
what from Chris’s words seem most important or prescient?

American Psychosis on Vimeo

The United States is a very strange place when you really think about it. We celebrate freedom and yet we live in a nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have tons of money, but people go bankrupt and/or die because they can’t afford healthcare. We have an abundance of food, much of which ends up in the trash, yet so many children and families are going hungry. Our education system is a mess. Teachers aren’t paid properly, nor do they have enough funding or resources to do their job. Our universities are putting our youth into massive debt. Women are still not paid as much as men; the list goes on and on. And yet in the United States productivity has never been higher but average wages have been virtually stagnant since the 1970’s. Corporations pay hardly any taxes and hide their money abroad and our governmental system somehow allows this to continue? All of this, as Chris highlights, is totally insane.

The US Is Once Again Supporting Death Squads in Central America

June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United States has been quietly funding and equipping elite paramilitary police units in El Salvador accused of extrajudicially murdering suspected gang members, according to a forthcoming United Nations report reviewed in advance by CNN.

UN Calls on US to “Immediately Halt” Policy of Detaining Migrant Children

June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration “immediately halt” its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice “always constitutes a child rights violation.”

Chaco Canyon, Chaco Earth By Chris Hedges April 23, 2018

In New Mexico, a great civilization built a complex religious and administrative center that now lies in ruins. The ghosts there are whispering a message to us.

A bitter wind whipped down the 10-mile-long Chaco Canyon, kicking up swirls of dust among the thorny greasewood and sagebrush bushes. I ducked behind one of the towering sandstone walls in the three-acre ruin, or Great House, known as Pueblo Bonito, to escape the gusts. I was in the section of the 800-room complex where burials took place. Treasure hunters and archaeologists have uncovered in these ruins and tombs delicate white-and-black painted ceramics, flutes, ceremonial sticks, tiny copper bells, inlaid bone, macaw and parrot skeletons, cylindrical jars with the residue of chocolate that would have been imported from Mexico, shells and intricate turquoise jewelry and sculptures. From this vast, bureaucratic and ceremonial complex, the Anasazi—a Navajo word meaning ancient ones or possibly ancient enemies—dominated the Southwest from about the year 850 until the society collapsed in about 1150.

The Chaco ruin, 6,200 feet above sea level, is one of the largest and most spectacular archeological sites in North America. It is an impressive array of 15 interconnected complexes, each of which once had four-to-five-story stone buildings with hundreds of rooms each. Seven-hundred-pound wooden beams, many 16 feet long, were used in the roofs. Huge circular, ceremonial kivas—religious centers dug into the earth, with low masonry benches around the base of the room to accommodate hundreds of worshippers—dot the ruins. It rivals the temples and places built by the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Radiating from Chaco is a massive 400-mile network of roads, some 30 feet wide and still visible in the haunting desert landscape, along with dams, canals and reservoirs to collect and store rainwater. The study of astronomy, as with the Aztec and the Maya, was advanced. Petroglyphs and pictographs on the canyon walls often record astrological and solar events. One pictograph shows a hand, a crescent moon and a 10-pointed star that is believed to depict a 1054 supernova, and one of the petroglyphs appears to represent a solar eclipse that occurred in 1097.

A few thousand priests and ruling elites, along their retainers and administrators, lived in the Great Houses or palaces. They oversaw the trade routes that stretched to the California coast and into Central America. They maintained the elaborate network of lighthouses whose signal fires provided rapid communication. They built the roads, the long flights of stairs carved into the rock formations, the bridges, the wooden ladders to scale the towering cliffs, and the astronomical observatories that meticulously charted the solar observations to determine the equinoxes and solstices for planting and harvesting and for the annual religious festivals when thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, would gather. The buildings in the complexes were oriented to solstitial or cardinal points, a difference the anthropologist Stephen H. Lekson believes denoted not only competing cosmologies but competing political ideologies.

“Chaco was the political capital of a well-defined region that encompassed most of the Four Corners country, with more than 150 outlying Great Houses scattered over an area about the size of Ireland,” Lekson writes.

But this complex society, like all complex societies, proved fragile and impermanent. It fell into precipitous decline after nearly three centuries. The dense forests of oak, piñon and ponderosa pines and juniper that surrounded the canyon were razed for construction and fuel. The soil eroded. Game was hunted to near-extinction. The diet shifted in the final years from deer and turkey to rabbits and finally mice. Headless mice in the late period have been found by archaeologists in human coprolites—preserved dry feces.

The Anasazi’s open society, one where violence was apparently rare, where the people moved unhindered over the network of well-maintained roads, where warfare was apparently absent, where the houses of the rich and powerful were not walled off, where the population shared in the spoils of empire, was replaced with the equivalent of gated, fortified compounds for the elites and misery, hunger, insecurity and tyranny for the commoners.

Dwellings began to be built in the cliffs, along with hilltop fortresses, although these residences were not close to the fields and water supply. Defensive walls were constructed along with moats and towers. The large, public religious ceremonies that once united the culture and gave it cohesion fractured, and tiny, warring religious cults took over, the archaeologist Lynne Sebastian notes.

Lekson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, believes the Anasazi rulers during the decline increasingly resorted to savage violence and terror, including the public executions of dissidents and rebels. He finds evidence, much of it documented in Steven A. LeBlanc’s book “Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest,” that “Chaco death squads” were sent out across the empire. LeBlanc writes that at Yucca House, a Chaco Great House near Mesa Verde, as many as 90 people were killed and tossed into a kiva and at least 25 showed signs of mutilation.

“Chacoan violence, concentrated and brutal, appears to represent government terror: the enforcement of Chaco’s rule by institutionalized force,” Lekson writes in the article “Chaco Death Squads” in Archeology magazine. “Violence was public, intended to appall and subdue the populace. Chacoan death squads (my term, not LeBlanc’s) executed and mutilated those judged to be threats to Chacoan power, those who broke the rules.”

The anthropologist Christy G. Turner, who specialized in osteology, the study of human bones, in his book “Man Corn” cited “cannibalism and human sacrifice as conspicuous elements of terrorism.” In short, as Lekson writes, “the death squad killed you, cut you up, and then ate you in front of your relatives and neighbors.” The term “man corn” comes from the Nahuatl word “tlacatlaolli,” which Turner defined as a “sacred meal of sacrificed human meat, cooked with corn.” Debra Martin goes on to argue in a paper titled “Violence Against Women in the La Plata River Valley, A.D. 1000-1300” (located on the periphery of the Chacoan empire) that there is evidence of battered women who were perhaps slaves.

The Anasazi elites, no longer willing or able to provide social services or competent governance and plagued by shortages of natural resources, kept extracting unsustainable tribute. They resorted to harsher and harsher forms of repression. By the end, they were hated. The civilization suffered a severe drought in the year 1130. It was the final blow. The impressive structures would lie abandoned until they were discovered by the nomadic Navajos some 600 years later. The Navajos did not reoccupy the buildings, many of which contained skeletal remains, because they believed them to be filled with evil spirits.

“Prosperity, social integration, altruism, and generosity go hand-in-hand,” Stuart adds. “Poverty, social conflict, judgmental cynicism, and savagery do, too.”

Collapse, as Joseph A. Tainter points out, is “a recurrent feature of human societies.” Complex societies create centralized bureaucratic structures that exploit resources until exhaustion and then prove unable to adapt to scarcity. They create more sophisticated mechanisms to extract depleted resources, evidenced in our own time by the decision of the Trump administration to open up the lands around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park to fracking. In the end, the technologies and organization that make the rise of complex societies possible become the mechanisms that destroy them.

The fate of the Anasazi replicates the fate of all complex societies. The collapse came within one or two decades after the peak. As Jared Diamond writes in “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” the trajectories of complex societies “are unlike the usual course of individual human lives, which decline in a prolonged senescence. The reason is simple: maximum population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production mean maximum environmental impact, approaching the limit where impact outstrips resources.”

“Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea.

"This human inability to foresee—or watch for—long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by millions of years when we lived hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general population begin to suffer.”

We in 2018 are beset with signs of impending collapse. The droughts, wildfires, flooding, soaring temperatures, crop failures, poisoning of the soil, air and water, and social breakdown from global warming are leaving huge segments of the world’s poor without adequate food, water and security. Desperate migrants are fleeing the global south. Crisis cults carry out nihilistic acts of terrorism, often in the name of religious beliefs.

Our predatory elites, who have retreated to their own versions of Anasazi Great Houses, with access to private security, private education, private medicine, private transportation, private sources of water and food and luxury items that are unavailable to the wider population, have walled out reality. Their hubris and myopia, as well as blind obedience to an ideology—global capitalism—that benefits them but accelerates social and environmental destruction, mean they have only bought a little more time before they succumb like the rest of us.

We can no longer live on the capital of the natural world and instead must learn to make do with the interest. This means the end to reliance on fossil fuels and the animal agriculture industry. It means adopting a simplicity that rejects the ethos of capitalism and the hedonism and gluttony that define the consumer society. It means a communal society in which inequality and income disparity are not extreme. If we continue to live as if the future does not matter, our society, like that of the Anasazi, will fracture and die. We will vanish from the earth in an act of global suicide.

The human species faces its greatest existential crisis. Yet, our elites replicate the imbecility, arrogance and greed of past elites. They hoard wealth. They shut us out from circles of power. They use brutal forms of repression to maintain control. They exhaust and poison the ecosystem. The longer the corporate elites rule, the longer we fail to revolt, the less chance we have to endure as a species. Settled or civilized life is less than 10,000 years old. Our peculiar human social construction is but a nanosecond to the universe. It may prove to be a brief and fatal experiment. Perhaps, as Franz Kafka wrote, “There is hope; though not for us.”

How Conservatives Rationalized Their Being Cold Warriors ICH By William Blum, 9/26/18

Can the man be serious? Yes, he is. God help us. I’ve published 5 books which give the lie to that statement, detailing all the foreign governments the US has overthrown, or tried to, because they were too friendly with Moscow, or were themselves too communist or too socialist, or simply too liberal. China, France, Italy, Greece, Korea, Albania, Iran, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Haiti, British Guiana, Iraq, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Congo, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ghana, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Australia, Portugal, East Timor, Angola, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Philippines, Grenada, Suriname, Libya, Panama... I’m only up to 1989... God help us... Read my books...

So, overthrowing governments and assassinating their leaders because they’re friendly to the Soviet Union is not a contradiction to trying to improve relations with the Soviet Union. Interesting. The CIA also connived to get Soviet diplomats expelled from various countries and did various things to block Soviet international financial transactions, etc., etc. All signs of trying to improve relations with Moscow? Silly me for not thinking of that. I’ll have to revise my books.

The above is one example of how conservatives rationalized their being Cold Warriors -– The United States always meant well. No matter how bad their foreign interventions may have looked, America’s heart was always in the right place. The current US secretary of Defense, James Mattis, recently stated: “We are the good guys. We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.”

Russian interference in US election [is] The new Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Washington Post has a regular “fact checker”, Glenn Kessler, who checks the accuracy of statements made by politicians and other public figures. On September 3 he announced that President Trump’s first 592 days in office had produced 4,713 false or misleading claims; that’s about 8 per day.

The article included a list of the types of claims, including the investigation into “Russian interference in the 2016 election” and whether people in the Trump campaign were in any way connected to it. Kessler believes they were. “All told, more than 200 times the president has made claims suggesting the Russia probe is made up, a hoax or a fraud.”

The “fact checker” needs to be fact-checked. He takes it as gospel that Russia consciously and purposefully interfered in the election, but like all the many other commentators offers no evidence. It’s conceivable that evidence of such has actually been presented and I was in a coma that day. (Would I remember that I was in a coma? Probably only if someone told me. So far no one has told me that I was in a coma.)

Keep in mind that a statement from the CIA that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from the FBI that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from the NSA that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from a dozen other US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Here’s James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence: “To me it stretches credulity to think that the Russians didn’t have profound impact” on the outcome of the election. Clearly if the man had any evidence to substantiate his statement he would have provided it at the time. He did not provide any. So all we get is another statement.

There are not many government bureaucrats who would publicly contradict the CIA, the FBI and the NSA on an important intelligence matter. How impressed would you be if a dozen Russian intelligence agencies all declared that Russia did not interfere in any way in the US 2016 election?

Moreover, keep in mind that numerous notices and advertisements posted to Facebook and other social media calling for the election of Trump and/or the defeat of Clinton do not count as evidence of Russian interference in the election even if some or most of the postings were seemingly made by Russians. Countless other notices and advertisements called for the election of Clinton and/or the defeat of Trump.

Moreover, many of these social-media postings (which members of Congress and the media like to make so much of) were posted well before the candidates were chosen, or even after the election took place.

So what do we make of all this? Well, it’s been pointed out that most of these postings were to so-called “click-bait” Internet sites that earn payments based on their volume of traffic. I have not come across any other explanation of the huge number of electoral postings during 2014-2017.

And forget about Trump aides like Paul Manafort and his partner Rick Gates, who’ve been charged with various financial crimes such as money laundering, tax and bank fraud, failure to register as a lobbyist, and more; in part the charges involve Ukraine – But NOTHING to do with Russian interference in the 2016 US election, although their cases have undoubtedly fed that story.

[...]

Even if you assumed that all the charges made about “Russian interfering in the elections” were true, and put them all together, they still wouldn’t have a fraction of the impact on the 2016 elections as did Republicans in several states by disenfranchising likely Democratic voters (blacks, poor, students, people in largely Democratic districts), by purging state voting lists.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out that Israeli intervention in US elections “vastly overwhelms” anything Russia has done. Israeli leader Netanyahu goes directly to speak to Congress without even consulting the president.

The United States joined a grand alliance with the forces of the communist Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin in World War II, but Washington can’t even talk civilly now with capitalist Russia.

When your goal is world domination any country that stands in the way of that is an enemy. American conservatives in particular have a most difficult time shaking this mind-set. Here’s the prominent conservative host of National Public Radio (NPR), Cokie Roberts, bemoaning Trump’s supposed desire to develop friendly relations with Russia, saying: “This country has had a consistent policy for 70 years towards the Soviet Union and Russia, and Trump is trying to undo that.”

If Trump were to establish good relations with Russia the lack of a European enemy would also leave NATO (= the US) even more obviously unnecessary.

Then we have the Skripal poisoning case allegedly carried out by Russia in the UK: There are just two things missing to support this allegation: 1) any verifiable evidence, AT ALL, and 2) any plausible motive for the Russian government to have carried out such a crime. But stay tuned, the Brits may yet find Vladimir Putin’s passport at the scene of the crime.

One of Washington’s greatest crimes

The world will long remember the present immigrant crisis in Europe, which has negatively affected countless people there, and almost all countries. History will certainly record it as a major tragedy. Could it have been averted? Or kept within much more reasonable humane bounds?

After the United States and NATO began to bomb Libya in March 2011 – almost daily for more than six months! – to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi (with the completely phoney excuse that Gaddafi was about to invade Benghazi, the Libyan center of his opponents, and so the United States and NATO were thus saving the people of that city from a massacre}, the Libyan leader declared: “Now listen you people of Nato. You’re bombing a wall, which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it. You’re idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa.”

Remember also that Libya was a secular society, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, all destroyed by America while supporting Saudi Arabia and various factions of al Qaeda. It’s these countries that have principally overrun Europe with refugees.

Gaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do very valuable things. He, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in all of Africa; they had not only free education and health care but all kinds of other benefits that other Africans could only dream about. But Moammar Gaddafi was never a properly obedient client of Washington. Amongst other shortcomings, the man threatened to replace the US dollar with gold for payment of oil transactions and create a common African currency. He was, moreover, a strong supporter of the Palestinians and foe of Israel.

In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the prime moving force behind the United States and NATO turning Libya into a failed state, where it remains today. The attack against Libya was one that the New York Times said Clinton had “championed”, convincing President Obama in “what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as Secretary of State.”

The American people and the American media of course swallowed the phoney story fed to them, though no evidence of the alleged impending massacre has ever been presented. The nearest thing to an official US government account of the matter – a Congressional Research Service report on events in Libya for the period – makes no mention at all of the threatened massacre. Keep this in mind when reading the latest accusations against Russia.

The US/NATO heavy bombing of Libya led also to the widespread dispersal throughout North African and Middle East hotspots of the gigantic arsenal of weaponry that Gaddafi had accumulated. Libya is now a haven for terrorists, from al Qaeda to ISIS, whereas Gaddafi had been a leading foe of terrorists.

Oh my god, I’ve been called an anti-Semite!

British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and many others in the UK and the US are attacked for being anti-Semitic if they criticize Israel. But John McCain had very friendly meetings, and posed for photos, with prominent neo-Nazis in Ukraine and the Middle East – without being accused of being anti-Semitic. People involved in political activity on the left have to learn to ignore charges of anti-Semitism stemming from their criticism of Israel. These accusations are just thrown out as a tactic to gain political advantage – like with “anti-American” and “conspiracy theorist” – and do not deserve to be taken seriously. Whenever possible, such name-calling should be made fun of.

There’s an unwritten rule in right wing circles: It’s okay to be anti-Semitic as long as you’re pro-Israel. Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson is such an example.

While in the past an “anti-Semite” was someone who hates Jews, nowadays it is the other way around: An anti-Semite is someone the Jews hate.

“God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America’s Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.” – John LeCarré

George Bush, Sr.’s Secretary of State, James Baker, famously said to a colleague: “Fuck the Jews! They don’t vote for us anyway”.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser under Jimmy Carter: “An anti-Israel bias is not the same as anti-Semitism. To argue as much is to claim an altogether unique immunity for Israel, untouchable by the kind of criticism that is normally directed at the conduct of states.”

What the man [Trump] actually believes about his presidency

He keeps bragging about how he forced NATO to collect more money from members other than The United States. Here he is in a phone conversation with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

"You do know I'm doing a great job for the country. You do know that NATO now is going to pay billions and billions of dollars more, as an example, than anybody thought possible, that other presidents were unable to get more? ... So it's a tremendous amount of money. No other president has done it. It was heading down in the opposite direction."

Woodward said nothing to contradict Lord Trump. Someone other than the Post’s star reporter might have – just might – have pointed out that giving NATO billions more is not necessarily a good thing, that the member countries might have – just might – have spent that money on health, education, the environment, etc., etc. for their own people instead of more planes, bombs and tanks.

If not at that very moment on the phone, Woodward or the Post could at least have mentioned this subsequently in print.

William Blum is an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy. He worked in a computer-related position at the United States Department of State in the mid-1960s. Initially an anti-communist with dreams of becoming a foreign service officer, he became disillusioned by the Vietnam War. https://williamblum.org

All Wars Are Illegal, So What Do We Do About It? ICH By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, September 26, 2018

Every war being fought today is illegal. Every action taken to carry out these wars is a war crime.

In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact or Pact of Paris was signed and ratified by the United States and other major nations that renounced war as a way to resolve conflicts, calling instead for peaceful ways of handling disputes.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was the basis for the Nuremberg Tribunal, in which 24 leaders of the Third Reich were tried and convicted for war crimes, and for the Tokyo Tribunal, in which 28 leaders of the Japanese Empire were tried and convicted for war crimes, following World War II.

Such prosecutions should have prevented further wars, but they have not. David Swanson of World Beyond War argues that a fundamental task of the antiwar movement is to enforce the rule of law. What good are new treaties, he asks, if we can’t uphold the ones that already exist?

The United States is violating international law, and escalating its aggression

All wars and acts of aggression by the United States since 1928 have violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter since it was signed in 1945. The UN Charter states, in Article 2:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Yet, the United States has a long history of threatening aggression and using military force to remove governments it opposed and install friendly ones. Illegal attacks by the US since World War II have resulted in 20 million people being killed in 37 nations. For example, as we outline in “North Korea and the United States: Will the Real Aggressor Please Stand Down,”the United States used violence to install Syngman Rhee in power in the 1940’s and subsequently killed millions of Koreans, in both the South and the North, in the Korean War, which has not ended. Under international law, the “war games” practicing to attack North Korea with conventional and nuclear weapons are illegal threats of military action.

The list of interventions by the United States is too long to list here. Basically, the US has been interfering in and attacking other countries almost continuously since its inception. Currently the US is involved directly in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The US is threatening Iran and Venezuela with attack.

The United States has 883 military bases in 183 countries and has hundreds of outposts scattered throughout the world. Lynn Petrovich recently examined the new defense budget. With regard to the Pentagon’s 2019 budget report, she writes:

If the planet is our community, America is the bully in the neighborhood. Reference to the word ‘lethal’ is sprinkled no less than 3 dozen times throughout The Report (‘more lethal force’ p. 2-6, ‘technology innovation for increased lethality’ p.1-1, ‘increasing the lethality of new and existing weapons systems’ p. 3-2)."...

"Were it not for The Report’s dire (yet, fully funded) predictions for world domination, one would think this budget request was satire by The Onion."

Included in the new budget are funds to recruit 26,000 more of our youth into the military, purchase ten more “combat ships,” build more F-35s, even though they don’t work, and “modernize” our nuclear weapons. At a time when the United States is losing power in the world and falling behind in wealth, the government voted nearly unanimously to provide $74 billion more than last year to be more aggressive. Imagine what that money could do if it were applied instead to improving public education, transitioning to a clean energy economy and a public works program to restore our failing infrastructure.

The United States empire is falling and blindly taking all of us down with it as it tries to assert its power.

What to do about it

The peace movement in the United States is being revived and building alliances with peace activists in many countries, and it can’t happen fast enough. There are many opportunities for action this fall, the “Antiwar Autumn.”

The World Beyond War conference, #NoWar2018, just concluded in Toronto. The focus of the conference was legalizing peace. Among the topics discussed was how to use courts to prevent wars, stop the escalation of militarism and investigate war crimes. Professor Daniel Turp of the University of Montreal and his students have sued the Canadian government over participating in extraditing prisoners to Guantanamo, potential intervention in Iraq and providing weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Turp recommends that activists who are considering legal action first look to domestic courts for a remedy. If none exists or domestic action is unsuccessful, then it is possible to turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court or the United Nations. Any people or organizations can file a report or complaint with these bodies. Before doing so, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible, first hand accounts are strong but even hearsay can be grounds to trigger an investigation.

Currently, Popular Resistance is supporting an effort to ask the International Criminal Court to launch a full investigation of Israel for its war crimes. People and organizations are invited to sign on to the letter, which will be delivered by a delegation, including us, to the Hague in November.

SIGN ON: TELL THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TO INVESTIGATE ISRAEL’S CRIMESSince the Nakba in 1947, Israel has displaced, brutalized and murdered Palestinians. The United States is Israel’s biggest supporter and regularly provides cover for the crimes committed by Israel.

The US gives more money to Israel than to any other country, almost $135 billion since 1946. The last Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, signed by President Obama, gives a record $38 billion over ten years.

The United States and Israel consistently vote as a bloc in the United Nations to oppose recognition of Palestine and to prevent criticism of Israel’s actions. During the six weeks of peaceful actions by Palestinians starting in March to demand their Right of Return, the United States tried to block a UN resolution calling on Israel to show constraint instead of injuring and murdering Palestinians, including children, reporters and medics. Fortunately, the resolution passed without the US in June.

William Curtis Edstrom of Nicaragua wrote a letter to the United Nations in advance of Trump’s visit to serve as the chair of the Security Council meeting. He is requesting “hearings, debate and vote on an effective plan of action against various crimes that have been committed by people working for the government of the US that are of significance to the global community.”

This week, Medea Benjamin confronted a Trump administration official, the head of the new “Iran Action Group,” at the Hudson Institute. President Trump is planning to advocate for more aggression against Iran at the United Nations. When the US tried this in the past, it has received push back from other nations Now it is clear it is the US, not Iran, that has violated the nuclear agreement and is conducting an economic war against Iran while threatening military action. The world is likely to stand up to Trump and US threats.

Recent progress towards peace by North and South Korea show that activism is effective. Sarah Freeman-Woolpert reports on efforts by activists in South Korea and the United States to build coalitions and organize strategic actions that create the political space for peace.

Leaders of both countries met this week to discuss improving relations and finding a compromise between North Korea and the United States. President Moon will meet with President Trump at the United Nations this month. Korean activists say that their greatest concern is that Koreans finally having “the ability to shape the future of [their] country.”

When we understand that war is illegal, our task becomes clear. We need to make sure that all nations, especially the United States, obey the law. We can replace war with mediation, conflict resolution and adjudication. We can legalize peace.

America’s False History ICH By Paul Craig Roberts, September 14, 2018

David Ray Griffin writes books faster than I can read them. Therefore, I am going to borrow Edward Curtin’s review of Griffin’s history of the United States: The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? which Curtin suggests should have been titled: A Diabolic False Flag Empire.

Griffin’s book is a humdinger and will certainly upset brainwashed American super-patriots, but it throughly documents how Washington’s aggression toward other lands is covered up by politicians, media, and court historians with moral verbiage. In my view the hubris, arrogance, and ignorance of “American exceptionism” has the world locked on a trajectory to its extinction in nuclear Armageddon.

Curtin points out that Griffin makes an extraordinary mistake, unusual for a scholar as careful as Griffin, in his assessment of President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was the president who tried to move America’s trajectory off of its demonic path and was murdered by his own government for his attempt. But as I have said, none of us knows everything. We often have to rely on others, and others, also, make mistakes.

Washington’s aggression and war crimes against the Confederacy. The Union’s aggression included warring against civilians and the intentional destruction of their livelihoods. It was the same for its time as the US and British firebombing of German cities and Washington’s destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic bombs.

Washington has never let morality stand in the way of its empire.

Washington has never permitted treaties and domestic laws to stand in its way either. For example:

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated the Non-Detention Act passed by Congress in 1971 and signed by President Nixon.

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated The Convention Against Torture, ratified by the Senate in 1994 and bolstered by a US law that prohibits US officials anywhere in the world from torturing anyone.

–The Cheney/Bush regime unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-ABM Treaty.

–The Trump regime unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

–The Obama regime dismissed the due process protection in the US Constitution and arbitrarily assassinated US citizens without indictment, trial, and conviction.

The above examples merely scratch the surface. Just think of all of the treaties with the various American Indian tribes that Washington dishonored.

As Washington’s word means nothing, it is a puzzle that Iran and Russia make worthless agreements with Washington. The answer must be that hope prevails over experience.

A Diabolic False Flag Empire

By Edward Curtin

September 08, 2018 "Lew Rockwell" - The past is not dead; it is people who are sleeping. The current night and daymares that we are having arise out of murders lodged deep in our past that have continued into the present. No amount of feigned amnesia will erase the bloody truth of American history, the cheap grace we bestow upon ourselves.

We have, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel address, been feeding on “a vast tapestry of lies” that surrounds us, lies uttered by nihilistic leaders and their media mouthpieces for a very long time. We have, or should have, bad consciences for not acknowledging being active or silent accomplices in the suppression of truth and the vicious murdering of millions at home and abroad.

But, as Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.”

No one is more emblematic of this noble effort than David Ray Griffin, who, in book after book since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has meticulously exposed the underside of the American empire and its evil masters. His persistence in trying to reach people and to warn them of the horrors that have resulted is extraordinary. Excluding his philosophical and theological works, this is his fifteenth book since 2004 on these grave issues of life and death and the future of the world.

In this masterful book, he provides a powerful historical argument that right from the start with the arrival of the first European settlers, this country, despite all the rhetoric about it having been divinely founded and guided, has been “more malign that benign, more demonic than divine.” He chronologically presents this history, supported by meticulous documentation, to prove his thesis. In his previous book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, Griffin cataloged the evil actions that flowed from the inside job/false flag attacks of September 11th, while in this one – a prequel – he offers a lesson in American history going back centuries, and he shows that one would be correct in calling the United States a “false flag empire.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 are the false flag fulcrum upon which his two books pivot. Their importance cannot be overestimated, not just for their inherent cruelty that resulted in thousands of innocent American deaths, but since they became the justification for the United States’ ongoing murderous campaigns termed “the war on terror” that have brought death to millions of people around the world. An international array of expendable people. Terrifying as they were, and were meant to be, they have many precedents, although much of this history is hidden in the shadows.

Griffin shines a bright light on them, with most of his analysis focused on the years 1850-2018.

As a theological and philosophical scholar, he is well aware of the great importance of society’s need for religious legitimation for its secular authority, a way to offer its people a shield against terror and life’s myriad fears through a protective myth that has been used successfully by the United States to terrorize others. He shows how the terms by which the U.S. has been legitimated as God’s “chosen nation” and Americans as God’s “chosen people” have changed over the years as secularization and pluralism have made inroads. The names have changed, but the meaning has not. God is on our side, and when that is so, the other side is cursed and can be killed by God’s people, who are always battling el diabalo.

He exemplifies this by opening with a quote from George Washington’s first Inaugural Address where Washington speaks of “the Invisible Hand” and “Providential agency” guiding the country, and by ending with Obama saying “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” In between we hear Andrew Jackson say that “Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number” and Henry Cabot Lodge in 1900 characterize America’s divine mission as “manifest destiny.” The American religion today is American Exceptionalism, an updated euphemism for the old-fashioned “God’s New Israel” or the “Redeemer Nation.”

At the core of this verbiage lies the delusion that the United States, as a blessed and good country, has a divine mission to spread “democracy” and “freedom” throughout the world, as Hilary Clinton declared during the 2016 presidential campaign when she said that “we are great because we are good,” and in 2004 when George W. Bush said, “Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom.” Such sentiments could only be received with sardonic laughter by the countless victims made “free” by America’s violent leaders, now and then, as Griffin documents.

Having established the fact of America’s claim to divine status, he then walks the reader through various thinkers who have taken sides on the issue of the United States being benign or malign. This is all preliminary to the heart of the book, which is a history lesson documenting the malignancy at the core of the American trajectory.

“American imperialism is often said to have begun in 1898, when Cuba and the Philippines were the main prizes,” he begins. “What was new at this time, however, was only that America took control of countries beyond the North American continent.” The “divine right” to seize others’ lands and kill them started long before, and although no seas were crossed in the usual understanding of imperialism, the genocide of Native Americans long preceded 1898. So too did the “manifest destiny” that impelled war with Mexico and the seizure of its land and the expansion west to the Pacific. This period of empire building depended heavily on the “other great crime against humanity” that was the slave trade, wherein it is estimated that 10 million Africans died, in addition to the sick brutality of slavery itself. “No matter how brutal the methods, Americans were instruments of divine purposes,” writes Griffin. And, he correctly adds, it is not even true that America’s overseas imperialistic ventures only started in 1898, for in the 1850s Commodore Perry forced “the haughty Japanese” to open their ports to American commerce through gunboat diplomacy.

Then in 1898 the pace of overseas imperial expansion picked up dramatically with what has been called “The Spanish-American War” that resulted in the seizure of Cuba and the Philippines and the annexing of Hawaii. Griffin says these wars could more accurately be termed “the wars to take Spanish colonies.” His analysis of the brutality and arrogance of these actions makes the reader realize that My Lai and other more recent atrocities have a long pedigree that is part of an institutional structure, and while Filipinos and Cubans and so many others were being slaughtered, Griffin writes, “Anticipating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s declaration that ‘we don’t do empire,’ [President] McKinley said that imperialism is ‘foreign to the temper and genius of this free and generous people.’”

Then as now, perhaps mad laughter is the only response to such unadulterated bullshit, as Griffin quotes Mark Twain saying that it would be easy creating a flag for the Philippines:

We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

That would have also worked for Columbia, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and other countries subjugated under the ideology of the Monroe Doctrine; wherever freedom and national independence raised its ugly head, the United States was quick to intervene with its powerful anti-revolutionary military and its financial bullying. In the Far East the “Open Door” policy was used to loot China, Japan, and other countries.

But all this was just the beginning. Griffin shows how Woodrow Wilson, the quintessentially devious and treacherous liberal Democrat, who claimed he wanted to keep America out of WW I, did just the opposite to make sure the U.S. would come to dominate the foreign markets his capitalist masters demanded. Thus Griffin explores how Wilson conspired with Winston Churchill to use the sinking of the Lusitania as a casus belli and how the Treaty of Versailles’s harsh treatment of Germany set the stage for WW II.

He tells us how in the intervening years between the world wars the demonization of Russia and the new Soviet Union was started. This deprecation of Russia, which is roaring at full-throttle today, is a theme that recurs throughout The American Trajectory. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Wilson called the Bolshevik government “a government by terror,” and in 1918 “sent thousands of troops into northern and eastern Russia, leaving them there until 1920.”

That the U. S. invaded Russia is a fact rarely mentioned and even barely known to Americans. Perhaps awareness of it and the century-long demonizing of the U.S.S.R./Russia would enlighten those who buy the current anti-Russia propaganda called “Russiagate.”

To match that “divine” act of imperial intervention abroad, Wilson fomented the Red Scare at home, which, as Griffin says, had lasting and incalculable importance because it created the American fear of radical thought and revolution that exists to this very day and serves as a justification for supporting brutal dictators around the world and crackdowns on freedom at home (as is happening today).

He gives us brief summaries of some dictators the U.S has supported, and reminds us of the saying of that other liberal Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said of the brutal Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, that “he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” And thus Somoza would terrorize his own people for 43 years. The same took place in Cuba, Chile, Iran, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc. The U.S. also supported Mussolini, did nothing to prevent Franco’s fascist toppling of the Spanish Republic, and supported the right-wing government of Chiang-Kai Shek in its efforts to dominate China.

It is a very dark and ugly history that confirms the demonic nature of American actions around the world.

Then Griffin explodes the many myths about the so-called “Good War” – WW II. He explains the lies told about the Japanese “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor; how Roosevelt wished to get the U.S. into the war, both in the Pacific and in Europe; and how much American economic self-interest lay behind it. He critiques the myth that America selflessly wished to defend freedom loving people in their battles with brutal, fascist regimes. That, he tells us, is but a small part of the story:

This, however, is not an accurate picture of American policies during the Second World War. Many people were, to be sure, liberated from terrible tyrannies by the Allied victories. But the fact that these people benefited was an incidental outcome, not a motive of American policies. These policies, as [Andrew] Bacevich discovered, were based on ‘unflagging self-interest.’

Then there are the conventional and atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nothing could be more demonic, as Griffin shows. If these cold-blooded mass massacres of civilians and the lies told to justify them don’t convince a reader that there has long been something radically evil at the heart of American history, nothing will. Griffin shows how Truman and his advisers and top generals, including Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff, knew the dropping of the atomic bombs were unnecessary to end the war, but they did so anyway.

He reminds us of Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s response to the question whether she thought the deaths of more than 500, 000 Iraqi children as a result of Clinton’s crippling economic sanctions were worth it: “But, yes, we think the price is worth it.” (Notice the “is,” the ongoing nature of these war crimes, as she spoke.) But this is the woman who also said, “We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall…”

Griffin devotes other chapters to the creation of the Cold War, American imperialism during the Cold War, Post-Cold War interventions, the Vietnam War, the drive for global dominance, and false flag operations, among other topics.

As for false flag operations, he says, “Indeed, the trajectory of the American Empire has relied so heavily on these types of attacks that one could describe it as a false flag empire.” In the false flag chapter and throughout the book, he discusses many of the false flags the U.S. has engaged in, including Operation Gladio, the U.S./NATO terrorist operation throughout Europe that Swiss historian Daniele Ganser has extensively documented, an operation meant to discredit communists and socialists. Such operations were directly connected to the OSS, the CIA and its director Allen Dulles, his henchman James Jesus Angleton, and their Nazi accomplices, such as General Reinhard Gehlen. In one such attack in 1980 at the Bologna, Italy railway station, these U.S. terrorists killed 85 people and wounded 20 others. As with the bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia today on Yemeni school children, the explosive used was made for the U.S. military. About these documented U.S. atrocities, Griffin says:

“These revelations show the falsity of an assumption widely held by Americans. While recognizing that the US military sometimes does terrible things to their enemies, most Americans have assumed that US military leaders would not order the killing of innocent civilians in allied countries for political purposes. Operation Gladio showed this assumption to be false.”

He is right, but I would add that the leaders behind this were civilian, as much as, or more than military.

In the case of “Operation Northwoods,” it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff who presented to President Kennedy this false flag proposal that would provide justification for a U.S. invasion of Cuba. It would have involved the killing of American citizens on American soil, bombings, plane hijacking, etc. President Kennedy considered such people and such plans insane, and he rejected it as such. His doing so tells us much, for many other presidents would have approved it. And again, how many Americans are aware of this depraved proposal that is documented and easily available? How many even want to contemplate it? For the need to remain in denial of the facts of history and believe in the essential goodness of America’s rulers is a very hard nut to crack. Griffin has written a dozen books about 11 September 2001, trying to do exactly that.

If one is willing to embrace historical facts, however, then this outstanding book will open one’s eyes to the long-standing demonic nature of the actions of America’s rulers. A reader cannot come away from its lucidly presented history unaffected, unless one lives in a self-imposed fantasy world. The record is clear, and Griffin lays it out in all its graphic horror. Which is not to say that the U.S. has not “done both good and bad things, so it could not sensibly be called purely divine or purely demonic.” Questions of purity are meant to obfuscate basic truths. And the question he asks in his subtitle – Divine or Demonic? – is really a rhetorical question, and when it comes to the “trajectory” of American history, the demonic wins hands down.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one place where Griffin fails the reader. In his long chapter on Vietnam, which is replete with excellent facts and analyses, he makes a crucial mistake, which is unusual for him. This mistake appears in a four page section on President Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam. In those pages, Griffin relies on Noam Chomsky’s terrible book – Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture (1993), a book wherein Chomsky shows no regard for evidence or facts – to paint Kennedy as being in accord with his advisers, the CIA, and the military regarding Vietnam.

This is factually false. Griffin should have been more careful and have understood this. The truth is that Kennedy was besieged and surrounded by these demonic people, who were intent on isolating him, disregarding his instructions, and murdering him to achieve their goals in Vietnam. In the last year of his life, JFK had taken a radical turn toward peace-making, not only in Vietnam, but with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and around the globe. Such a turn was anathema to the war lovers. Thus he had to die.

Contrary to Chomsky’s deceptions, motivated by his hatred of Kennedy and perhaps something more sinister (he also backs the Warren Commission, thinks JFK’s assassination was no big deal, and accepts the patently false official version of the attacks of 11 September 2001),

Griffin should have emphatically asserted that Kennedy had issued NSAM 263 on October 11, 1963 calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, and that after he was assassinated a month later, Lyndon Johnson reversed that withdrawal order with NSAM 273.

Chomsky notwithstanding, all the best scholarship and documentary evidence proves this. And for Griffin, a wonderful scholar, to write that with the change from Kennedy to Johnson that “this change of presidents would bring no basic change in policy” is so shockingly wrong that I imagine Griffin, a man passionate about truth, simply slipped up and got sloppy here. For nothing could be further from the truth.

Ironically, Griffin makes a masterful case for his thesis, while forgetting the one pivotal man, President John Kennedy, who sacrificed his life in an effort to change the trajectory of American history from its demonic course. It is one mistake in an otherwise very important and excellent book that should be required reading for anyone who doubts the evil nature of this country’s continuing foreign policy. Those who are already convinced should also read it, for it provides a needed historical resource and impetus to help change the trajectory that is transporting the world toward nuclear oblivion, if continued.

If – a fantastic wish! – The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? were required reading in American schools and colleges, perhaps a new generation would arise to change our devils into angels, the arc of America’s future moral universe toward justice, and away from being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, as it has been for so very long.

We still have time to repent for American racism WP By Danya Ruttenberg [Danya Ruttenberg is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah.] September 18, 2017

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night. This is the season during which Jews make tshuvah — engage in the work of repentance and repair — for all we’ve done wrong in the past year. Tshuvah isn’t just about saying sorry; it’s really about healing wrongs, to whatever extent that might be possible.

And it’s that part about healing wrongs that makes this cultural moment in the United States so unsurprising. The rise of white nationalism, the election of a man who campaigned and governs on a platform of racist fearmongering, even the fact of Confederate statues serving as a political lighting rod — it’s all the product of tshuvah left undone.

Maimonides, the great 12th century philosopher and sage, defines complete tshuvah as that which happens when a person has the opportunity to commit the same sin as he had in the past, but does not — he makes a different choice the second time around. How could it be that you might return to the exact situation in which you had previously screwed up? Who gets an instant replay like that? My rabbi, Alan Lew, used to explain Maimonides thusly: “If you haven’t done the work of tshuvah in any kind of serious way, you’ll get back there.” That is, without the necessary soul-searching and growth, you will undoubtedly manage to find yourself in some variation of the same situation over and over and over again.

Our country is in that position. The Christian writer Jim Wallis has famously described racism as America’s “original sin.” Our country has never done tshuvah for its many racist wrongs — particularly those committed against black and indigenous people.

There has been no real introspection by those who hold institutional power, no formal apologies made to those enslaved or their descendants. There has been, on an official level, no display of curiosity about whether restitution is needed and what that might possibly look like.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has introduced the bill that’s now known as H.R. 40 (the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”) in Congress every single year for the last 28 years. It establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals that would “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present” and make recommendations for solutions. Not to hand out money, just to study and make recommendations; implementation would be an entirely optional step outside the scope of the bill. Conyers’s bill has never even made it to the House floor.

We have never done the work of tshuvah as a country, and so we continue to find opportunities to commit the same sins, again and again and again. We went from slavery to lynchings, from Jim Crow to redlining to mass incarceration and challenges to voting rights. From the Trail of Tears to Wounded Knee to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it:

To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy ,,, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying …. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt …. We cannot escape our history. All of our solutions to the great problems of health care, education, housing, and economic inequality are troubled by what must go unspoken.

There are several steps to making tshuvah: You have to acknowledge what you did wrong (no matter whether it was intentional). You have to take actions to correct the mistake, or to make amends, if possible. And you need to invest some time working out how things can be different next time.

Can an entire nation make tshuvah? One needs only look to Germany’s behavior over the past 70 or so years to know that it is, at the very least, possible to do some of the work at a national level. They have taken full responsibility for the Holocaust, issued formal apologies, paid over 66 billion euros in reparations payments, built memorials to the victims of atrocities — in sharp contrast to the veneration of Confederate slaveholders here — and are committed to being different, now. Everything from their attitude toward military engagement to the language in their textbooks is influenced by the knowledge that to become different, they need to behave differently.

There is much discussion in Maimonides’s “Laws of Tshuvah” and elsewhere in Jewish literature about whether or not someone who has committed an atrocity can ever do complete tshuvah — particularly in a situation in which true amends can never be made. Meaningful restitution can never be made to Nat Turner, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, or 500 years’ worth of other human lives. But whether the United States — or Germany, for that matter — can, or should, ever be forgiven by our victims or their descendants isn’t the question. The work should be done not to attain absolution, but because it is the only moral way forward.

I don’t have a lot of hope that those with the greatest power in our federal government will be undertaking a tshuvah process for the sins of American racism any time soon. It’s much more likely that new wounds will be created in the coming months, new traumas, an entrenching of some oppressive systems and perhaps even the creation of new ones. We continue to arrive to the same place, again and again. But Maimonides reminds us that the gates of tshuvah are always open — we can become baalei tshuva, penitents, even on the day of our death. Perhaps one day our country will be ready to interrupt the cycle of injury and injustice on an institutional level. Until then, well, the rest of us have plenty of work to do.

Election Meddling

Inside America’s Meddling Machine: The US Funded Group that Interferes in Elections Around the Globe ICH By Max Blumenthal

Filmed inside the Capitol, this Grayzone special explores the National Endowment for Democracy, a taxpayer funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington’s agenda.

On June 13, 2018 the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy presented its 2018 Democracy Award to a collection of Korean activists who aim to topple the communist government of North Korea.

The event was timed to coincide with President Donald Trump’s peace summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-Un. The ceremony appeared to be the opening shot of a massive public relations effort aimed at stifling normalized relations with North Korea

I covered the ceremony because these organizations are doing precisely what Congress accuses Russia-funded media outlets and troll farms of doing in the United States. They interfere in other countries’ politics with foreign money. The only difference is they do it openly, and in the name of spreading freedom.

Founded in 1983 by then president Ronald Reagan, the National Endowment for Democracy became an international vehicle for the neoconservative agenda. Its founding cadre were Cold War ideologues who were, like so many early neoconservative operatives, former Trotskyists who once belonged to the Social Democrats USA party.

Over the years, the NED and its partner organizations have weaponized civil society and media against governments that stand in the way of right-wing, free market parties and corporate interests.

Heavy payouts for anti-DPRK testimony, often with embarrassing results

Among the groups honored at the NED gathering was the Unification Media Group. They foment internal opposition to the North Korean government through shortwave radio broadcasts.

Also on hand was a collection of defectors. These activists are responsible for much of what the West believes about North Korea and its human rights record. While many tell harrowing tales of escape from political repression, others have been exposed as serial fabricators lured by hefty sums of cash.

In 2017, South Korea quadrupled the payout for testimony from North Korean defectors to a whopping $860,000. The bounty has incentivized colorful accounts of sadistic — and unusually creative — human rights abuses.

According to one defector, a crowd of 10,000 was forced to watch the execution of 11 musicians for the crime of viewing porn. He said the musicians were shot with anti-aircraft guns, then run over with tanks. Another defector claimed female prisoners were raped and then forced to hand their babies over to be used as food for hungry guard dogs.

That same year, news of the defection of 13 North Korean waitresses provided a boost to Pyonyang’s opponents

But recently, the waitresses’ manager admitted to tricking the women into leaving under pressure from the South Korean intelligence services. The scandal is now under UN investigation.

A separate UN investigation accusing Kim Jong-Un of crimes against humanity was marred by fabricated testimony from defectors like Shin Dong-hyuk, who confessed to inventing parts of his story.

Testimony to US Congress by another defector, Kwon Hyuk, who claimed to have witnessed live human experimentation in North Korean prisons, helped drive the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in 2004. But Kwon too was unmasked as a fabulist and quickly disappeared from the public eye....

The Transitional Justice Working Group, an NED grantee, is responsible for delivering some of these testimonies to the West.

At the NED ceremony, we met the group’s director, Hubert Younghman Lee, who emphasized the importance of American backing: “I’d like to express our sincere gratitude to bipartisan support, and also US congresspeople and US citizens especially. We are doing this work with US citizens’ tax [dollars].”

As with many high profile defectors, information delivered to Western media by South Korean intelligence has often proven unreliable, and provoked some embarrassing media updates.

In 2016, Western media filled with reports that North Korea had executed General Ri Yong-gil. However, General Ri turned up alive days later.

Three years before, Western media buzzed with reports that Kim Jong Un had executed his ex-girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol, by firing squad. Months later, Hyon appeared alive as ever, performing her music on North Korean television.

So this begs the question: is North Korea populated by zombies who rise from the dead? Or is a US-funded influence operation cultivating opposition to engagement with North Korea by relying on often unreliable sources with dubious agendas?

Bipartisan support

During the NED ceremony, Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi recalled a trip she took to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. “When we saw the people in Pyonyang — the blank faces, the brainwashing that went on — the poverty of spirit I saw exceeded the poverty [of] any place in the world.”

Pelosi then claimed that locals were executed on the spot for unauthorized corn consumption. “They would get shot if they just took one corn on the cob, one husk of corn,” she claimed.

Pelosi was among a bipartisan cast of lawmakers on hand to pay homage to the NED. They included Republican representatives like Ed Royce and Pete Roskamp, as well as Democrats like Rep. Julian Castro and Stephanie Murphy.

Though the NED was hailed by Congress as a politically benign entity advancing democracy and human rights, its record tells a different story.

Sowing chaos, spreading instability, and opening markets

The NED’s first success was the defeat of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua’s 1990 elections, replacing it with the neoliberal party of Violeta Chamorro.

Since then, the NED’s advanced US interests in countless countries: it helped swing a Russian election for Boris Yeltsin in 1996, it drove a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, it orchestrated a successful one in Haiti in 2004, and another one in Ukraine in 2014, which paved the way for neo-Nazis to move into the mainstream.

Philip Agee, the late CIA whisteblower, described the work of the NED as a more sophisticated version of the old-fashioned covert operations that Langley used to engineer. “Nowadays, instead of having the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process by inserting money here and giving instructions secretly and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, NED.”

Agee’s words were openly confirmed by Alan Weinstein, a former Trotskyist and founding member of the NED. Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Since then, NED funding has almost quadrupled. In the past four years alone, the organization has directed at least 4 million dollars into parties and media outfits in Nicaragua.

That prompted an NED funded publication — the Global Americans — to boast of the role the group played in “laying the groundwork for change” in Nicaragua, where violent protests attempted to topple the country’s elected president, Daniel Ortega. The article went on to say that “it’s becoming more and more clear that U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

Uyghur “re-education camp” allegations against NED target China

Another top target of NED and its Washington partners is China.

The US has worked closely with Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group that has faced discrimination at the hands of the Chinese government. As the confrontation with Beijing deepens, the US has attempted to use Uyghurs as a bargaining piece to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing.

At the ceremony, I met Omer Kanat, chairman of the World Uyghur Congress — a group funded almost entirely by the NED.

“The Chinese authorities have put more than one million Uyghurs in re-education camps, it is very similar to concentration camps,” Kanat claimed to me.

He said that his organization, a top NED grantee, had supplied much of the information the US government and Western media rely on about the alleged camps.

Indeed, along with the US-funded Radio Free Asia, which Kanat used to work for, Kanat’s US-funded Uighur Congress is responsible for widely reported claims that as much as one tenth of the Muslim population of China’s Xianjing province has been placed in re-education camps.

The numbers of Uighurs said to be housed in these camps vary wildly, from 120,000 to 500,000 to a million. And the sources invariably boil down to US-backed media like Radio Free Asia.

Western analysts concede that testimonies from actual camp prisoners is rare. One of the few detailed testimonies arrived through an anonymous source.

Kanat himself conceded that he did not know how many people were in the alleged camps, and that he was relying on “Western media estimates” to make his claim of one million.

The disturbing but still-unverified allegations about Uyghur re-education camps have added momentum to a new Trump national defense doctrine that singles out China as a top American adversary. With help from pundits like late night comedian John Oliver, who also echoed the claims of US-government backed sources on Xianjang, Washington appears to be hoping that a carefully crafted PR campaign will reverse Americans’ generally favorable attitude towards China.

Making Mongolia neoliberal

The NED has also turned up the heat on China by interfering in its neighbor’s elections.

Back in 1996, the International Republican Institute (IRI) — an NED partner group — helped propel right-wing libertarian parties to victory in Mongolia, dealing a death blow to the country’s socialist tradition and driving record levels of economic inequality.

At the NED ceremony, I spoke to an IRI staffer, Alexander Moree, who presented the group’s work in Mongolia as a blueprint for a post-communist North Korea. “So we took a group of defector-scholars over to Mongolia to study their transition,” Moree explained to me. “So Mongolia’s transition, if you don’t know, it was a peaceful democratic transition, there was no fighting, there was no revolution. But it developed a successful free market economy with peaceful elections without any dramatic turnover of power. It’s more of an island of democracy in Asia, and that’s more the model we want to encourage the North Koreans to pursue.”

“So like, transitioning from a socialist economy to a free market economy is paramount?” I asked him.

“Exactly.”

The meddling machine McCain built

The IRI has been led for years by Senator John McCain, who turned the group into what the New York Times called “a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman.”

Carl Gershman founded the National Endowment for Democracy. He’s neoconservative activist with roots in Trotskyism. Today, Gershman still embraces the ideology of permanent worldwide revolution.

But with peace looming on the Korean peninsula, Gershman was forced to reassure his grantees that their work for regime change would not become irrelevant.

“There is some concern among the activists that the focus on the nuclear issue today will reduce pressure for human rights in North Korea and maybe even reduce support for the kind of work that is being done by the organizations that we have honored this evening,” Gershman said. “I want to assure our friends that NED’s support is solid.”

In the Longworth hallway outside of the NED event, I asked Nancy Pelosi if she thought the US government should stop funding organizations that seeking regime change against North Korea if it signed a peace treaty with the South. “I don’t know if that’s what they do,” Pelosi responded, referring to the NED and regime change, “but I do know they promote human rights where ever they [are].”

I then asked if she considered NED activities to be the same sort of foreign meddling Russia is accused of carrying out in the US. “I’m not going into any hypotheticals,” she said, dismissing the issue out of hand.

America remains obsessed with the specter of Russian interference and Moscow’s supposed active measures against our political system. But at the same time, official Washington celebrates its own taxpayer funded meddling machine as an engine of “democracy promotion.” Does the American public know what’s being done with its money, and will there ever be a public debate on the consequences of Washington’s regime change efforts?

Ban Censorship By Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2018

In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart.” His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

“[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. ” In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

“[R]equiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so.” America’s long tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous political speech — not least among it the Revolution-era pamphlets of Thomas Paine — shouldn’t be subject to the veto of Mark Warner or Chris Murphy.

Then, a good laugh: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics.”

Since when has government ever produced proper oversight, transparency, or effective management of anything? And what could possibly go wrong with eviscerating the First Amendment to give these jokers “oversight” or “management” powers over technologies that undergird our politics? What’s really going on here?

Political blogger Michael Krieger answers that question with a simple headline: “Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared.” The American political establishment has spent the last decade quaking in its boots over the next potential disclosure from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, or whistleblowers yet unknown. This isn’t about “our democracy.” It’s about “their power.”

The US government’s use of putatively “private sector” social media outlets as proxy censors has been going on for some time, but the Russiagate scandal lent it new momentum. And it’s not just some alleged lunatic fringe that they’re after. Recent victims of Twitter’s ban policy include non-interventionist foreign policy analysts like Scott Horton (editorial director of Antiwar.com), former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren, and Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams.

We don’t need “more government oversight” of social media. What we need is for it to be recognized, and treated, as a criminal abuse of power (and a violation of US Code Title 18 § 241 — “conspiracy against rights”) for government officials or employees to attempt to “oversee” or “manage” social media’s content standards.

Let me reconfigure Chris Murphy’s authoritarian statement to name the stakes: The survival of our freedom depends on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths By Lee Camp July 26, 2018

Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right?

No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.

Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.

So … shouldn’t there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn’t it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren’t on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone’s going to work at gunpoint? No. We’re all choosing to continue on like this.

Why?

Well, it comes down to the myths we’ve been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned.

I’m going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I’m going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled “Hundreds of Myths of American Society,” (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other shit to do.

Myth No. 8—We have a democracy.

If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? … You probably can’t do it. It’s like trying to think of something that rhymes with “orange.” You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn’t. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy: A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control.

Myth No. 7—We have an accountable and legitimate voting system.

Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap!

What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system?

No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world. Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he’s driving the car? That’s what our election system is—a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, “I’m steeeeering!”

And I know it’s counterintuitive, but that’s why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what’s stolen through our ridiculous rigged system.

Myth No. 6—We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable.

Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can’t get anything resembling hard news because it’s funded by dicks.) The corporate media’s jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It’s their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I’m telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they’re standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat.

Myth No. 5—We have an independent judiciary.

The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted, “The most basic constitutional rights … have been erased for many. … Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.”

If you’re not part of the monied class, you’re pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times, “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.”

That’s the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don’t have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn’t advertise on beer coasters.)

Myth No. 4—The police are here to protect you. They’re your friends.

That’s funny. I don’t recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states.)

The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs—which by definition is a war on our own people.

We lock up more people than any other country on earth. Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea—none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty’s skirt.

Myth No. 3—Buying will make you happy.

This myth is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious).

If we’re lucky, we’ll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn’t truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you’ll feel alive!

The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won’t keep running around the wheel. And if we aren’t running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us.

Myth No. 2--If you work hard, things will get better.

According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey: “80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs” and “[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.” That’s about one-seventh of your life—and most of it is during your most productive years.

Ask yourself what we’re working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to:

I plant the food—>I eat the food—>If I don’t plant food = I die.

But nowadays, if you work at a café—will someone die if they don’t get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-piss-latte? I kinda doubt they’ll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency.

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths
By Lee Camp

July 26, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right?

No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.

Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.

So … shouldn’t there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn’t it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren’t on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone’s going to work at gunpoint? No. We’re all choosing to continue on like this.

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Why?

Well, it comes down to the myths we’ve been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned.

I’m going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I’m going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled “Hundreds of Myths of American Society,” (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other shit to do.

Myth No. 8—We have a democracy.

If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? … You probably can’t do it. It’s like trying to think of something that rhymes with “orange.” You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn’t. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy: A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control.

Myth No. 7—We have an accountable and legitimate voting system.

Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap!

What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system?

No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world. Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he’s driving the car? That’s what our election system is—a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, “I’m steeeeering!”

And I know it’s counterintuitive, but that’s why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what’s stolen through our ridiculous rigged system.

Myth No. 6—We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable.

Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can’t get anything resembling hard news because it’s funded by dicks.) The corporate media’s jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It’s their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I’m telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they’re standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat.

Myth No. 5—We have an independent judiciary.

The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted, “The most basic constitutional rights … have been erased for many. … Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.”

If you’re not part of the monied class, you’re pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times, “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.”

That’s the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don’t have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn’t advertise on beer coasters.)

Myth No. 4—The police are here to protect you. They’re your friends.

That’s funny. I don’t recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states.)

The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs—which by definition is a war on our own people.

We lock up more people than any other country on earth. Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea—none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty’s skirt.

Myth No. 3--Buying will make you happy.

This myth is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious).

If we’re lucky, we’ll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn’t truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you’ll feel alive!

The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won’t keep running around the wheel. And if we aren’t running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us.

Myth No. 2—If you work hard, things will get better.

According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey: “80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs” and “[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.” That’s about one-seventh of your life—and most of it is during your most productive years.

Ask yourself what we’re working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to:

I plant the food—>I eat the food—>If I don’t plant food = I die.

But nowadays, if you work at a café—will someone die if they don’t get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-piss-latte? I kinda doubt they’ll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency.

If you work at Macy’s, will customers perish if they don’t get those boxer briefs with the sweat-absorbent-ass fabric? I doubt it. And if they do die from that, then their problems were far greater than you could’ve known. So that means we’re all working to make other people rich because we have a society in which we have to work. Technological advancements can do most everything that truly must get done.

So if we wanted to, we could get rid of most work and have tens of thousands of more hours to enjoy our lives. But we’re not doing that at all. And no one’s allowed to ask these questions—not on your mainstream airwaves at least. Even a half-step like universal basic income is barely discussed because it doesn’t compute with our cultural programming.

Scientists say it’s quite possible artificial intelligence will take away all human jobs in 120 years. I think they know that will happen because bots will take the jobs and then realize that 80 percent of them don’t need to be done! The bots will take over and then say, “Stop it. … Stop spending a seventh of your life folding shirts at Banana Republic.”

One day, we will build monuments to the bot that told us to enjoy our lives and … leave the shirts wrinkly.

And this leads me to the largest myth of our American society.

Myth No. 1—You are free.

And I’m not talking about the millions locked up in our prisons. I’m talking about you and me. If you think you’re free, try running around with your nipples out, ladies. Guys, take a dump on the street and see how free you are.

I understand there are certain restrictions on freedom we actually desire to have in our society—maybe you’re not crazy about everyone leaving a Stanley Steamer in the middle of your walk to work. But a lot of our lack of freedom is not something you would vote for if given the chance.

Try building a fire in a parking lot to keep warm in the winter.

Try sleeping in your car for more than a few hours without being harassed by police.

Try maintaining your privacy for a week without a single email, web search or location data set collected by the NSA and the telecoms.

Try signing up for the military because you need college money and then one day just walking off the base, going, “Yeah, I was bored. Thought I would just not do this anymore.”

Try explaining to Kentucky Fried Chicken that while you don’t have the green pieces of paper they want in exchange for the mashed potatoes, you do have some pictures you’ve drawn on a napkin to give them instead.

Try running for president as a third-party candidate. (Jill Stein was shackled and chained to a chair by police during one of the debates.)

Try using the restroom at Starbucks without buying something … while black.

We are less free than a dog on a leash. We live in one of the hardest-working, most unequal societies on the planet with more billionaires than ever.

Meanwhile, Americans supply 94 percent of the paid blood used worldwide. And it’s almost exclusively coming from very poor people. This abusive vampire system is literally sucking the blood from the poor. Does that sound like a free decision they made? Or does that sound like something people do after immense economic force crushes down around them? (One could argue that sperm donation takes a little less convincing.)

Point is, in order to enforce this illogical, immoral system, the corrupt rulers—most of the time—don’t need guns and tear gas to keep the exploitation mechanisms humming along. All they need are some good, solid bullshit myths for us all to buy into, hook, line and sinker. Some fairy tales for adults.

It’s time to wake up.

Reagan Ruined America The GOP is a party of nihilists, members of the government, actively working to dismantle that very government. The Trump Administration has doubled-down on this strategy, inadequately staffing critical departments including the State Department, and appointing agency heads who aim to destroy their agencies: Scott Pruitt at the EPA or Ryan Zinke at Interior. Republicans want us to become so disenchanted with government that we let them tear the whole structure down. That means an end to environmental regulations, Social Security, food stamps, and consumer protections: a libertarian dream.

To understand how a major political party became obsessed with destroying government, consider their demigod, Ronald Reagan. No man has done more to erode American faith in government, collective action, and national community. Reagan took libertarianism mainstream and created our first anti-government government. Thirty years later, we are still paying the price.

From the 1930s until the 1970s, income inequality fell and the nation’s middle class experienced unprecedented growth in living standards. While global competition and the 1970s recession dampened middle class prosperity, Reagan’s policies were an economic game-changer.

Reagan believed in “trickle-down economics” the voodoo that tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy will flow down to benefit the rest of Americans.

Thus, Reagan more than halved the cut the top income tax rate, while simultaneously slashing public assistance programs. As a result, the rich grabbed a far greater share of the nation’s wealth, while wages for middle class workers stagnated. The benefits never trickled-down: talk of “job-creators” and “makers vs. takers” won’t hide the fact that the one-percent have prospered, while the middle class has been hollowed out.

In addition to reducing taxes on the rich, Reagan attacked another libertarian bogeyman, organized labor. When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike in 1981, Reagan took the radical step of firing over 10,000 of these government employees. This act not only damaged the aviation system for years, but also struck a blow against all unions.

Reagan’s conservative heirs like Scott Walker have used his treatment of PATCO to strip collective bargaining power from public employees, and advocate “right-to-work” laws to cripple unions.

Reagan also worked to weaken workers’ rights through pro-employer appointees on the National Labor Relations Board. These appointees helped shatter America’s unions and reduce the power of America’s workers.

Today, most Americans enjoy less job security and far fewer benefits than their parents did. Reagan’s assault on organized labor paved the way for the gig economy, where more and more workers lack benefits, representation, and rights.

Greed is Good
Beyond stacking the deck against ordinary Americans through tax and labor policies, Reagan destabilized the economy through his embrace of unbridled capitalism. Reagan’s economic team believed in radically free markets and saw little role for the government as regulator or defender of the public interest. Their philosophy began the trend of financial deregulation that has led to repeated economic crises including the Savings and Loan Crisis, the Dot Com Bubble, and the Great Recession. By eliminating government oversight, Reagan incentivized risky behavior. No wonder that the Garn-St. Germain Act, which deregulated the savings and loan industry, was followed by the Savings and Loan Crisis.

Reagan’s Administration also showed an appalling unwillingness to prosecute the epidemic of white-collar crime of the 1980s. This era of “cowboy capitalism” was marked by corporate raiders who made millions by cutting American jobs, Wall Street market manipulators, and obscene compensation for CEOs. Given that a record 138 Reagan appointees were indicted during his presidency, perhaps it’s no surprise that the administration failed to act against these anti-social practices. Previously, the government had moderated such excesses, punishing bad behavior and regulating business to prevent economic crises. After Reagan, deregulation unsurprisingly became a pillar of the GOP platform. Frustratingly, even some Democrats have advocated deregulation, due to the massive lobbying efforts of Wall Street.

While Reagan supported corporate welfare, he opposed actual welfare and anti-poverty programs. He saw government assistance programs as corrupt, incompetent money pits that cheated hardworking (white) Americans out of their tax dollars. The “welfare queen” captures this racist view. Sadly, this image has shaped popular perceptions of welfare recipients as irresponsible drug-abusers, despite evidence to the contrary. Although many whites in red states benefitted from public assistance, the GOP cynically employed racist dog-whistles to convince voters that these critical programs exclusively benefitted non-whites. Their strategy sought to destroy the social safety net by turning different ethnic groups against each other. Today, Trump copies this script to divide Americans on issues like immigration and voting rights.

Every man for himself
To a libertarian, freedom means the right to take as much as we can for ourselves. As Reagan’s ally, Margaret Thatcher, once said, “there is no such thing as society.” There’s no more libertarian creed than that. Such a view destroys any idea of community or collective action, and makes greed a virtue and a right. Human history has shown the folly of this go-it-alone approach. From winning WWII to putting a man on the moon, from the New Deal dams to atomic energy, many of America’s greatest achievements have been the result of coordinated, collective action.

Representative Barney Frank once said, “government is simply the name for the things we do together.” Reagan and his successors have waged a 30-year war against this active and community-minded vision. Unfortunately, they have been winning. Trust in government is at historic lows, and many Republicans see no role for the government in improving life in America.

The Reagan Revolution is already a generation old. In that time, we have seen the fall of the middle class and the rise of inequality, the proliferation a selfish and self-destructive brand of capitalism, and the exploitation of ethnic resentment and community disintegration. To that legacy, we should “just say no.”

How the U.S. Prevented North Korea and South Korea From Reaching Real Peace By Michael Pembroke August 14, 2018

China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree.

In the long history of Korea, nothing compares to the 20th century division of the peninsula or the war that followed. That war has not finished, and a peace treaty remains elusive. China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree.

If President Trump turns out to be the exception, that shift could help put an end to more than a half-century of conflict — and the role of the United States in determining whether peace arrives is not a small one. Neither is it coincidental: in fact, the U.S. has played a key role in keeping the conflict going as long as it has.

The division of Korea is not what Franklin Delano Roosevelt intended as World War II ended. As President, he had discussed with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin an “international trusteeship” of Korea that would help bring the country out of Japanese colonial rule and restore its sovereignty. But Roosevelt died in April 1945 and President Truman had different priorities. The change of thinking by the Truman administration led to a change of direction that altered the course of history in northeast Asia.

What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador By Peter Koenig August 14, 2018

Stories about corruption and internally government-generated violence concerning most unaligned countries abound in the MSM. These lies fuel hatred. And the public at large start a malicious rumor circuit. Which, in turn is taken over by the MSM, so that their lies are pushing in open doors. The war drums start beating. The populace wants foreign imposed order, they want blood and ‘regime change’. The consensus for war has once more worked. And the blood may flow. Instigated by outside forces, such as the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, which train and fund nationals clandestinely in-and outside the country where eventually they have to operate. They are commandeered by Washington and other western powers and act so as to blame the “non-obedient” governments, whose regime must be changed. They constitute part of the Fifth Column.

A Fifth Column is a group of people, who undermine the government of a country in support of the enemy. They can be both covert and open. The term Fifth Column originates from the Spanish Civil War, when in October 1936 nationalist rebel General Mola initiated the coup d’état against the legitimate Republican Government. This marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. General Mola besieged Madrid with four “columns” of troops and claimed he had a “Fifth Column”, hiding inside the city. The term was henceforth used for infiltrated enemies within a legitimate government. Mola, the mastermind behind the coup died in a 1937 plane crash, and General Francisco Franco became Spain’s dictator for the next almost 40 years. He prevailed over the Republican resistance thanks to Hitler’s and Mussolini’s air support.

Now what’s the true story behind the violence-plagued Nicaragua and Venezuela, and the treacherous new Moreno government in Ecuador?

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot’s fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela’s petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz’ successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt (“The Revolution will Not be Televised”, 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington’s backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates’ key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

Take Nicaragua – it all started with the Board of Directors of the Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) on 16 April 2018 approving an IMF-imposed social security reform, modified and then supported by President Ortega. The reform maintained social security at its current level, but would increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund. These reforms triggered the coup attempt initiated by the business lobby and backed by the Nicaraguan oligarchy.

Student protests were already ongoing in different university cities in connection with university elections. These protests were re-directed against the Ortega government with the help of US-funded NGOs and the Catholic Church, an ally of the wealthy in most of Latin America. Some of the students involved in ‘re-directing’ the protests were brought to the US for training by the Freedom House, a long-time associate of the CIA. USAID announced an additional US$ 1.5 million to build opposition to the Ortega Government. These funds along with financing from the NED will be channeled to NGOs to support anti-government protests.

Summarizing, in the course of the weeks following the coup, violence increased leaving a total of more than 300 dead by early August. Even though Ortega reversed the pension measures, unrests continued, now demanding the resignation of the President and Vice-President, his wife Rosario Murillo Zambrana. Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista and former guerilla leader, was first elected President in 1985. It is clear that the US and the dark forces behind the empire were preparing Fifth Column-type groups to intervene and take advantage of any social upheaval in the country to bring about regime change. What could have and would have been contained, continued as US inspired violent protests eventually aiming at the overthrow of Ortega’s government. That would bring Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua – and Panama – in line with US policies. Will Washington succeed?

On Venezuela – In mid-June 2018, I was privileged to be invited to Caracas as one of several international economists to participate in a Presidential Economic Advisory Commission – to discuss internal and external economic issues. Without going into details of the commission’s deliberations – it is absolutely clear who is behind the food and medicine boycotts (empty supermarket shelves), and the induced internal violence. It is a carbon copy of what the CIA under Kissinger’s command did in Chile in 1973 which led to the murder of the legitimate and democratically elected President Allende and to the Pinochet military coup; except, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary experience, and built up some tough resistance.

To understand the context ‘Venezuela’, we may have to look at the country’s history.

Before the fully democratically and internationally observed election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was governed for at least 100 years by dictators and violent despots which were directed by and served only the United States. The country, extremely rich in natural resources, was exploited by the US and Venezuelan oligarchs to the point that the population of one of the richest Latin-American countries remained poor instead of improving its standard of living according to country’s natural riches. The people were literally enslaved by Washington controlled regimes.

A first coup attempt by Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1992 was oppressed by the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Chavez was sent to prison along with his co-golpistas. After two years, he was freed by the Government of Rafael Caldera.

During Peréz’ first term in office (1974-1979) and his predecessors, Venezuela attained a high economic growth based on almost exclusive oil exports. Though, hardly anything of this growth stayed in the country and was distributed to the people. The situation was pretty much the same as it is in today’s Peru which before the 2008 crisis and shortly thereafter had phenomenal growth rates – between 5% and 8% – of which 80% went to 5% of the population oligarchs and foreign investors, and 20% was to be distributed to 95% of the population – and that on a very uneven keel. The result was and is a growing gap between rich and poor, increasing unemployment and delinquency.

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot’s fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela’s petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz’ successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt (“The Revolution will Not be Televised”, 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington’s backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates’ key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

In addition, another socialist revolution as one of Washington’s southern neighbor – in addition to Cuba – is not convenient. Therefore, the US and her secret forces will do everything to bring about regime change, by constant economic aggressions, blockades, sanctions, boycotts of imports and their internal distribution – as well as outrights military threats. The recent assassination attempt of President Maduro falls into the same category.

And let’s not forget, Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia, fully under Washington’s control, has just recently become a NATO country. How absurd, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, stationed in a South American country. But then, NATO is also in Afghanistan, Syria, in the Balkans and wherever US-instigated conflicts need to be fought. Colombian and Venezuela share a border of some 2,200 km of which about 1,500 are difficult to control ‘porous’ jungle, from where clandestine as well as overt military infiltrations are relatively easy. They may also spread to other South American countries. It’s already happening into countries with open doors for US military, like Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Less than 5 years ago, 80% of Latin American populations lived under democratically elected, left-leaning governments. It took South America some 20-25 years to free themselves from the fangs of the Monroe Doctrine. Now in the course of a few years the trend has been reversed, through US intervention with election manipulations – Argentina, Ecuador, Chile – and parliamentary coups – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay. – Venezuela, together with Bolivia and Cuba, today is Latin America’s last holdout ad hope.

What lays ahead for Ecuador does not look bright. Several IMF inspired reforms – yes, Ecuador returned to the IMF and World Bank – might reverse social gains achieved under the Correa Regime for the working and indigenous people. Also, a breach on free speech by Moreno is imminent: He announced already a while ago that Julian Assange’s days in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are counted. If and when Assange has to leave the Embassy, he will likely be arrested by UK police and eventually handed over to the US – where he may expect a very uncertain, but possibly violent future.

The US Is Once Again Supporting Death Squads in Central America June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United States has been quietly funding and equipping elite paramilitary police units in El Salvador accused of extrajudicially murdering suspected gang members, according to a forthcoming United Nations report reviewed in advance by CNN.

UN Calls on US to “Immediately Halt” Policy of Detaining Migrant Children June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration “immediately halt” its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice “always constitutes a child rights violation.”

Criminal Nation: Obama and Trump Both Should Be Jailed for War Crimes By Glen Ford, May 11, 2017

It is as if the Gambino and Genovese crime families were arguing their turf disputes in the courts and the news media.

It’s the Saturday Night Massacre all over again, cry the Democrats, harkening back to the weekend in 1973 when President Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. But this is not about the rule of law -- quite the opposite: it’s about continuing the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun in 2011 under President Obama, a wholly illegal aggression that has destroyed Libya, killed half a million Syrians, delivered vast regions to the control of the two feuding factions of al-Qaida, and brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

US Not Sitting Idly By on Eve of Venezuelan Election 5/20/18 As Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday, the U.S. is working to disrupt the re-election of Nicolas Maduro and rollback leftwing governments in the region, reports Roger D. Harris.

The Korean Massacre the U.S. Needs to Apologize For 5/20/18 To help make peace in Korea, the U.S. should follow South Korea's lead and apologize for its role in the devastating Jeju massacre.

The White House-Mercenary Connection By Lawrence Davidson [retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester PA.] April 30, 2018

When the United Nations General Assembly met in December 1989, one of its most important achievements was passage of the Mercenary Convention – the “International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.” The Convention was subsequently ratified by 35 countries and went into effect as an international treaty in 2001.

Considering that, historically, mercenaries have, with rare exception (today’s Swiss Guard at the Vatican), proven to be lawless killers who both spread and thrive on anarchy, this move by the General Assembly was a prescient one. The problem was, and still is, that many of the world’s “great powers” are remarkably short-sighted and refuse to sign on. Among these is the United States. In the meantime the mercenary business has become a worldwide big business. So much for the UN Mercenary Convention.

Now, some 29 years later, we have a president of the United States, Donald Trump, who thinks the world’s most notorious mercenary – an American by the name of Erik Prince – can help achieve the misguided goals of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East. It would seem that the answer to that perennial question, “Will they ever learn?” is no.

Under Prince’s leadership Blackwater was employed by the G. W. Bush administration to protect convoys of American diplomats in Iraq. It did so in a predictable “cowboy” fashion, leaving a large number of dead civilians in its wake. Most of Blackwater’s second-tier administrators ended up under indictment in the U.S., and some of its operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan have been charged with murder. None of this was surprising to anyone who knew the history of mercenary forces.

In 2010 Erik Prince decided he “needed a break from the United States” and moved to Abu Dhabi, where he now acts as a military adviser to the United Arab Emirates.

Donald Trump and Erik Prince are a good match. First, both men believe in the privatization of almost all activities (including military ones) that are, in truth, best carried on by responsible governments. The “free” market is their ultimate definition of freedom generally. As we will see, this really makes them both advocates for anarchy. Here they follow in others’ footsteps. Remember that Prince’s initial employer was the Bush Jr. administration, also made up of conservative “free” market ideologues.

Second, both men are immoral – they have no scruples. This is pretty obvious when it comes to Trump and his corrupt cohorts, and Prince is in at the fringes of that syndicate. He reportedly served as a go-between for Trump and Russian bankers with close connections to Vladimir Putin. This effort was allegedly made to establish a back-channel connection between the incoming Trump administration and the Russians. It is possible that, in sworn testimony before Congress, Prince lied about the nature of his activities in this regard.

Religious zealots, just like most ideological fanatics, are prone to violence, and some of history’s bloodiest crimes have been committed in the name of religion. That includes recent ones like G. W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. G.W. reportedly claimed he was told to invade by God. The problem is ongoing. To judge from today’s headlines, it would seem that violent religious zealots are the scourge of our age. So Prince fits right in.

President Trump’s present interest in Prince has to do with the bloody mess in Syria. Trump is under some pressure from the U.S. military to pull out the 2,000 or so U.S. troops still in that country. But in Trump’s view this would be a step toward turning the western part of that country (where the U.S. forces operate) over to the Assad government, the Iranians and the Russians. So he needs an alternative strategy. Trump has consulted with the Saudis and Gulf Arabs about funding and manning what amounts to a mercenary army to replace the U.S. troops in Syria. And who is the West’s expert in mercenary endeavors – the fellow who can put all of this together and make it work? It is Erik Prince.

The notion that the good society is the one that looks after the basic needs of its citizens so as to create a platform for the realization of their creative potentials is, if not dead, then in serious abeyance. Something has come along to undermine this ideal. What now competes with it is the idealization of anarchy. And, in this the United States leads the way. The main route to this end is economic – the privatization of just about everything while simultaneously destroying regulation. We know, again from history, that this can only lead to disaster, but the politicians who are leading this charge are themselves ideologues who don’t give a fig for any history that might call into question their free market preferences.

The main route opens into many tributaries and one of them leads to the mercenary – the gun for hire. It is hard enough keeping professional soldiers in line – those operating under rules of engagement put in place by states which have signed on to the Geneva Conventions. Bring mercenaries into the mix and, as Niccolo Machiavelli realized at the end of the 15th century, you are now tying your interests to untrustworthy and quite bloodthirsty barbarians. To grasp this fact you must know something about the history of warfare and be able to correctly learn from the experiences of others. Most politicians seem not to be able to do either of these things. It’s an old story and seems to be today’s story as well.

The (Unrecognized) US Contribution to Bloodshed in Syria By As`ad AbuKhalil April 30, 2018

The US has been heavily involved in the Syrian war from the very beginning-and most probably even before that.

The dominant US. media narrative says only the Syrian government has killed anyone during the seven-year conflict while the US role in Syria’s nightmare is blacked out, says As’ad AbuKhalil in the first part of this Consortium News commentary.

The US government—under Barack Obama and Donald Trump—has managed to exonerate itself from responsibility for the carnage in Syria and the prolongation of the war there. Media of the left and right (those ideological distinctions are meaningless when it comes to the coverage of the Syrian war in the US) have contributed to a narrative that basically presents the US as an innocent bystander to the bloodshed in Syria.

Worse, even when the US clearly engages in bombing which results in high rates of civilian casualties, the US media and the public attributes benevolent motives to the US—first to Obama and then to Trump. You have to believe that Trump orders bombing of Syria (or “bombing of Bashshar,” as US media like to say, implying that US bombs and rockets don’t fall on innocent Syrians) because Trump is moved by scenes of suffering. For this bizarre narrative to set in, it was necessary to engage in falsification and propaganda that far exceeds the propaganda of any party to the conflict. Far from being an outside party, the US has been heavily involved in the Syrian war from the very beginning—and most probably even before that.

The US government (and the compliant media—from the left to the far right) established a convenient explanation for the Syrian conflict: that the US and its allies (some of the most despotic regimes on the face of the earth in addition to the Israeli occupation state) have not contributed to any of the killing in Syria. All the killing in the civil war, this explanation goes—and it has become a civil war, albeit with regional and international dimensions like the Lebanese civil war—has been perpetrated by foes of the US and Israel.

Damascus - the Sarajevo of 21st Century? By Finian Cunningham April 30, 2018

NATO allies do not seem willing to comply with international law.

The 20 happiest countries on the planet The latest World Happiness Report reveals that Scandinavia continues to reign supreme; USA gets sadder and sadder.

the report is intended as a tool to help create positive public policy, including policy directed at helping the planet.

And every year the report reads like a love letter to Scandinavia; this year is no exception. What is different for 2018 is that the poor United States of America, a country that went from 13th to 14th place last year, tumbled to 18th place this year. It is the worst ranking that the USA has received since the report was founded.

Money Laundering: Is It Really True that Switzerland Is the #1 Most Corrupt Nation, and the U.S. #2? Counter Information By Eric Zuesse, Global Research, February 01, 2018

The Tax Justice Network produces a Financial Secrecy Index, ranking countries for the assistance their legal systems provide, to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the score, the more corrupt the government is. The last time this Index was published, in 2015, Switzerland was rated the world’s most-corrupt country, and Hong Kong was then #2.

But now, in its newly released global rankings, “Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results”, though Switzerland still holds its #1 (most-corrupt) spot, the U.S. has become #2, and Hong Kong has now fallen to #4, which is immediately below Cayman Islands (which is #3, and which had been #5 in 2015).

This Is Your Brain on Money: Why America’s Rich Think Differently Than the Rest of Us Economist Chris Dillow cites research by Cameron Anderson and Sebastien Brion, showing that overconfident individuals are seen by others as more competent. He argues that, “overconfident people are more likely to be promoted. And this could have positive feedback effects. Higher status will itself breed even more overconfidence. (E.g. “I got the job so I must be good.”) And if bosses employ like-minded subordinates, the result could be entire layers of management which are both over-confident and engaged in groupthink.” Many other studies cited.

Making America Great Through Exploitation, Servitude and Abuse By James Petras [a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York] February 11, 2018


Can anyone say with a straight face that the US remains a nation of free and autonomous citizens?

The public denunciation by thousands of women and a few men that they had been victims of sexual abuse by their economic bosses raises fundamental issues about the social relations of American capitalism.

The moral offenses are in essence economic and social crimes. Sexual abuse is only one aspect of the social dynamics facilitating the increase in inequality and concentration of wealth, which define the practices and values of the American political and economic system.

Billionaires and mega-millionaires are themselves the products of intense exploitation of tens of millions of isolated and unorganized wage and salaried workers. Capitalist exploitation is based on a rigid hierarchy with its private prerogatives, which enables the oligarchs to demand their feudal privileges, their seigniorial sexual predations.

US capitalism thrives on and requires unlimited power and the capacity to have the public treasury pay for its untrammeled pillage of land, labor, transport systems and technological development. Capitalist power, in the United States, has no counterpart; there are few if any countervailing forces to provide any balance....

The much-celebrated technological innovations have been subsidized by the state and its educational and research institutions. Although these are financed by the tax-payers, the citizen-workers are marginalized by the technological changes, like robotics, that they originally funded. High tech innovations flourish because they concentrate power, profits and private privilege.

The hierarchical matrix of power and exploitation has led to the polarization of mortality rates and moral codes. For the working poor, the absence of competent health care has led to the massive use and abuse of prescription opioids and other addictive drugs. For the upper class, it has led to the flagrant physical and psychological abuse of vulnerable employees, especially, but not exclusively young working women. The prestigious bourgeois media blur the class polarization by constant reference to what they term ‘our shared traditional democratic values.’

The most advanced forms of entertainment thrive in an environment of absolute impunity in which the occasional exposé of abuse or corruption is hidden behind a monetary settlement. The courage of an individual victim able to secure public attention is a step forward, but will have greater significance if it is organized and linked to a massive challenging of the power of the bourgeois entertainment industry and the system of high tech exploitation. Sexual abuse of an individual in the workplace is just part of a chain that begins with exploitation of workers in general and can only be stopped through collective worker organization.

Servitude and moral degradation are the outcome of an atomized, impotent laboring class who may change one boss for another or one vulgar president for a moralizing hypocrite. We hope that the exposés will start something but without class conscious organizations we '’t know what will arise.

US Largely to Blame for Venezuela’s Crumbling Economy? By Joe Emersberger February 02, 2018

In 1998, when the late Hugo Chavez was first elected, Venezuela had a poverty rate of about 50 percent despite having been among the world’s top oil exporters since the 1930s — and had governments that consistently had good relations with the United States.

In the late 1970s, at one of its most prosperous points ever as measured by per capita GDP, Venezuela’s child mortality rate was about double that of Cuba’s and Costa Rica’s.

In April of 2002, Chavez was overthrown for two days in a military coup. The New York Times editorial board said the coup was a victory for democracy and praised the soon to be ousted dictator, Pedro Carmona, as a “respected businessman”.

Prominent opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles led the kidnapping of a government minister while Carmona was in power.

Sixty people were killed in the uprising that ousted Carmona. The U.S. Office of the Inspector General conceded that the Bush Administration provided “training, institution building and other support” to groups involved in the military coup.

Two months before Chavez was overthrown in 2002, he floated Venezuela’s currency. It was set by supply and demand rather than at a fixed rate or multiple rates set by the government.

In other words, Chavez corrected what would become the government’s most devastating error in economic policy in recent years.

Months after the coup, the U.S.-backed opposition led a two month shutdown of the oil industry that drove the poverty rate over 60 percent.

The government reverted to a fixed exchange rate system and never again floated the currency.

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.? bigger version of the map

USA: A Different Strategy For A Different Ambition The U.S. is a Joint Criminal Enterprise intent on seizing control of the world for its sole interests. By Christopher Black January 10, 2017

I have just read through the new United States National Security Strategy released by President Trump in December 2017. There have been many comments on it most of them focusing on the hostility in the document towards Russia and China but also some question of what the Strategy is.

Well, after reading page after page of delusions, bombast, bragging, bullying, lies, fantasies and deep-seated megalomania, you discover that there is no strategy. They '’t have one. The only use that document has is as irrefutable evidence that the government of the United States is what they like to call a Joint Criminal Enterprise intent on seizing control of the world for its sole interests.

Fortunately, they have, apparently, no idea how they are going to achieve that goal except through war, war, and more war, and if that doesn’t work some more war until they collapse from exhaustion, like a mad, rabid dog.

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America The Guardian, Dec. 15. 2017

a two-week journey into the dark side of the American Dream. The spotlight of the UN monitor, an independent arbiter of human rights standards across the globe, has fallen on this occasion on the US, culminating on Friday with the release of his initial report in Washington.

His fact-finding mission into the richest nation the world has ever known has led him to investigate the tragedy at its core: the 41 million people who officially live in poverty.

Of those, nine million have zero cash income – they do not receive a cent in sustenance.

Alston’s epic journey has taken him from coast to coast, deprivation to deprivation. Starting in LA and San Francisco, sweeping through the Deep South, traveling on to the colonial stain of Puerto Rico then back to the stricken coal country of West Virginia, he has explored the collateral damage of America’s reliance on private enterprise to the exclusion of public help.

Think of it as payback time. As the UN special rapporteur himself put it: “Washington is very keen for me to point out the poverty and human rights failings in other countries. This time I’m in the US.”

David Busch, who is currently homeless on Venice beach, in Los Angeles. Photograph: Dan Tuffs for the Guardian ~ The Gubbio project at St Boniface in San Francisco. The church opens its doors every weekday at 6am to allow homeless people to rest until 3pm. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The tour comes at a critical moment for America and the world. It began on the day that Republicans in the US Senate voted for sweeping tax cuts that will deliver a bonanza for the super wealthy while in time raising taxes on many lower-income families. The changes will exacerbate wealth inequality that is already the most extreme in any industrialized nation, with three men – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet – owning as much as half of the entire American people.

A few days into the UN visit, Republican leaders took a giant leap further. They announced plans to slash key social programs in what amounts to an assault on the already threadbare welfare state.

“Look up! Look at those banks, the cranes, the luxury condos going up,” exclaimed General Dogon, who used to be homeless on Skid Row and now works as a local activist with Lacan. “Down here, there’s nothing. You see the tents back to back, there’s no place for folks to go.”

California made a suitable starting point for the UN visit. It epitomizes both the vast wealth generated in the tech boom for the 0.001%, and the resulting surge in housing costs that has sent homelessness soaring. Los Angeles, the city with by far the largest population of street dwellers in the country, is grappling with crisis numbers that increased 25% this past year to 55,000.

Conspiracy Theorists Were Right: Corporate Media Finally Forced to Admit America Armed ISIS A new investigation has concluded that 97 percent of the weapons used by the Islamic State were supplied illegally by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Mainstream Media Just Admitted Billions of Your Tax Dollars Are Funding Child Rape on a Massive Scale Americans are funding a massive child rape operation—to the tune of $70 billion—and most people could not care less.

Afghanistan — As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the US has known about and covered up horrifying acts of sexual abuse committed by US-allied commanders against children. Not only is the Pentagon covering up the abuse, but your tax dollars are funding it—to the tune of $70 billion.

According to the Leahy Law, no assistance shall be furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the “Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

It is widely known that U.S.-funded Afghan units routinely engage in “bacha bazi” — boy play. This practice consists of military leaders kidnapping male children and holding them as sex slaves. As TFTP reported at the time, scores of witnesses have come forward to report the rampant sexual abuse committed by their Afghan allies and not only does the US do nothing about it but they are actually funding it.

Afghanistan War Crimes Probe A Sham and Cover-up For US By Finian Cunningham November 14, 2017

The ICC [The Hague-based International Criminal Court] is a byword for self-serving Western political control, either whitewashing crimes or smearing designated opponents.

How America Spreads Global Chaos By Nicolas J.S. Davies November 01, 2017

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a “rules-based” global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is “might makes right” — and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer


As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it, and then pushing on regardless, all came down to “credibility”: the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America’s international credibility as a military power.

Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA’s politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country’s credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. His predictable response has been to escalate ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and West Africa, and to threaten new ones against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

Ironically but predictably, the U.S.’s aggressive and illegal war policy has finally provoked a real military threat to the U.S., albeit one that has emerged only in response to U.S. war plans. As I explained in a recent article, North Korea’s discovery in 2016 of a U.S. plan to assassinate its president, Kim Jong Un, and launch a Second Korean War has triggered a crash program to develop long-range ballistic missiles that could give North Korea a viable nuclear deterrent and prevent a U.S. attack. But the North Koreans will not feel safe from attack until their leaders and ours are sure that their missiles can deliver a nuclear strike against the U.S. mainland.

North Korea – As Trump Threatens, the Nation Still Struggles with America’s Lethal Legacy The US is undoubtedly the "Leader of the Free World" in one thing: killing.

Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ … More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” (Amnesty International, 1996.)

As the US threatens to decimate North Korea again – if not the entire planet, given 'ald Trump’s chillingly casual approach to the use of nuclear weapons – an article (1) has revealed the criminal legacy remaining from America’s last attack, ending sixty four years ago, on a country smaller than Mississippi. (North Korea is a landmass of 120,540 square kilometers, Mississippi is 125,443 square kilometers.)

“Experts say it will take a hundred years to clean up all of the unexploded ordnance”, says Major Jong Il Hyon: “but I think it will take much longer.”

In Hamhung, the country’s second largest city three hundred and seventy mortar rounds were found in an elementary school playground in October last year, with a rusted, lethal round discovered nearby in February this year.

“Bombs, mortars and pieces of live ammunition” are still found in “thousands.” “Virtually all of it is American”

The US is undoubtedly the “Leader of the Free World” in one thing: killing. It is also clearly the undisputed king of overkill and the most murderous of legacies, ensuring its actions will never be forgotten or indeed forgiven by the populations affected. Which of course, is why North Korea is trying to ensure it is powerfully enough armed to deter another attack. Whatever it has or has not achieved in this respect, compared to America’s planet threatening nuclear arsenal, it is utterly insignificant, for all Washington’s undiplomatic, bombastic bluster.

Has anyone on Capitol Hill heard of “cause and effect”?

Our Ever-Deadlier Police State By Chris Hedges October 24, 2017

None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense.

The grotesque distortions of the judicial system and the aggressive war on the poor by the police will get worse under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There has been a rollback of President Barack Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the 1033 Program, a 1989 congressional action that allows the transfer of military weaponry, including grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers and .50-caliber machine guns, from the federal government to local police forces. Since 1997, the Department of Defense has turned over a staggering $5.1 billion in military hardware to police departments.

The Trump administration also is resurrecting private prisons in the federal prison system, accelerating the so-called war on drugs, stacking the courts with right-wing “law and order” judges and preaching the divisive politics of punishment and retribution.

The Praetorian Guard of the elites, as in all totalitarian systems, will soon be beyond the reach of the law. As Vitale writes in his book, “Our entire criminal justice system has become a gigantic revenge factory.”

This is what Trump is playing to. This idea that the only appropriate role for the state is one of coercion and threats—whether it’s in the foreign policy sphere or in the domestic sphere.”

Police forces, as Vitale writes in his book, were not formed to ensure public safety or prevent crime. They were created by the property classes to maintain economic and political dominance and exert control over slaves, the poor, dissidents and labor unions that challenged the wealthy’s hold on power and ability to amass personal fortunes. Many of America’s policing techniques, including widespread surveillance, were pioneered and perfected in colonies of the U.S. and then brought back to police departments in the homeland. Blacks in the South had to be controlled, and labor unions and radical socialists in the industrial Northeast and Midwest had to be broken.

Again, the direct connection between colonialism and the domestic management of workers. … It’s a two-way exchange. As we’re developing ideas throughout our own colonial undertakings, bringing those ideas home, and then refining them and shipping them back to our partners around the world who are often despotic regimes with close economic relationships to the United States. There’s a very sad history here of the U.S. exporting basically models of policing that morphs into death squads and horrible human rights abuses.”

The accelerated assault on the poor and the growing omnipotence of the police signal our transformation into an authoritarian state in which the rich and the powerful are not subject to the rule of law. The Trump administration will promote none of the conditions that could ameliorate this crisis—affordable housing; well-paying jobs; safe and nurturing schools that do not charge tuition; better mental health facilities; efficient public transportation; the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure; demilitarized police forces in which most officers do not carry weapons; universal, government-funded health care; an end to the predatory loans and unethical practices of big banks; and reparations to African-Americans and an end to racial segregation.

Trump and most of those he has appointed to positions of power disdain the poor as a dead weight on society. They blame stricken populations for their own misery. They seek to subjugate the poor, especially those of color, through police violence, ever harsher forms of punishment and an expansion of the prison system.

U.S. Nuclear Bombers Prepare to Go on 24-Hr Alert for First Time Since the Cold War


Washington, DC – With tensions continually escalating on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. Air Force is reportedly preparing to put its fleet of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers on 24-hour ready alert for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Texas Officials Forcing Hurricane Victims to Pledge Loyalty to Israel to Receive Funding—Seriously According to official documents, Hurricane Harvey victims reportedly have to agree to not "boycott Israel," in order to receive aid to rebuild their homes.


As the Americans who were affected by Hurricane Harvey attempt to rebuild their homes and replace their belongings, they have the option to request help from the city they live in—but residents in Dickinson, Texas, are learning that their city’s “Harvey Repair Grant” comes with a strange clause.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement criticizing the requirement and noting that while “the city appears to be enforcing a recently passed Texas law that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel,” it is still a clear violation of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled on the “right to boycott” in the 1982 case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. As the ACLU noted, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the NAACP’s decision to boycott a Mississippi business to protest segregation and racial injustice was “a protected form of free association and free expression,” based on the fact that “political boycotts empower individuals to collectively express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and advocate for political, social, and economic change. These are precisely the freedoms the Constitution is meant to protect.”

As The Free Thought Project reported in July, the United States Congress is currently considering the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a crime to “boycott Israel” that could lead to “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”

In addition to the problems that stem from the fact that requiring Americans to agree to not “boycott Israel” is in direct violation of their rights to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, it is also a broad term that can be defined in a number of ways.

Does agreeing not to boycott Israel mean that one specifically agrees not to support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement against Israel, or can the meaning be as broad as to include that one agrees to not criticize the Israeli government, the blockade it has imposed on Palestine, or even the nearly $4 Billion the U.S. sends Israel in military assistance each year?

The Iran Dilemma – The Tyrant Has Spoken The tyrant, of course, is 'ald Trump. He launched tirade after tirade, and keeps launching them, insult after insult, lies after lies after miserable lies at the Government of Iran


Since it is now difficult for Mr. Trump or any of his handlers to pretend that Iran has failed the agreement, Trump has changed his language. He, and some of his most ridiculous stooges say now that Iran is infringing on the “spirit” of the agreement, as if Trump even knew what spirit and spirituality means.

He, the tyrant, keeps insulting and hammering down on the Government of Iran all the same – spreading lies which even Iran’s enemies know are lies: Iran is spreading and funding terrorism in the region, and the world, they are[military] threat to the region – and they are even a ‘National Security Threat’ – 12,000 km away from Washington. Imagine, one of the most peaceful countries in the world. The only National Security Threat to virtually ALL the nations of the globe, minus Israel, is the only rogue state we know – the United States of America.

Iran is beyond sanctions. Iran is already part of the new economic system – the one emanating from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, and detached from the dollar hegemony. Therefore, slandering Iran, threatening Iran with war and sanctions or both, is one big bluff – and Trump, Netanyahu’s puddle, believe the world will go for it.

Both countries are trading with the world since quite a while outside of the fiat dollar system, using instead yuans and rubles convertible into gold. That’s the new currency standard offered to the world. The west can take it or leave it.. It’s like jumping on the fast train that has already left the Shanghai station, racing through Eurasia towards Europe, called the OBI – the One Belt Initiative, President Xi’s answer to the western economy of fraud, that will lay the tracks for a new and peaceful economy, possibly for the next few hundred years.

I have said it many times before, and will keep repeating it, the future is in the east; the west is passé. It is committing suicide, greed, war and lie-driven auto-destruction. Iran, India, Pakistan are already members of the SCO, others, including NATO Turkey, are vying to join and be no longer vulnerable to US imposed sanctions and sledgehammer policies.

Even far-away Venezuela has decided to trade her hydrocarbon resources with China in gold-convertible yuans. Hence, Venezuela is detaching herself from the dollar economy, freeing herself from the financial and economic shackles of Wall street, the FED and the Bretton Woods Institutions. Venezuela is a beacon illuminating a new economy for South America, as well as an example of a solid democracy, as demonstrated by this past weekend’s regional fully transparent elections to elect governors and state legislators – a new path to follow by other Latin American countries, who are still enslaved and trampled by the dictate of Washington.

America's Scramble for Africa By Finian Cunningham October 21, 2017

The ugly row over whether President Trump disrespected the young widow of a fallen American soldier has overshadowed a bigger issue. That is, the increasing number of US military operations across the African continent.

In all the media controversy over what Trump said or didn't say, questions about what US troops are doing in Niger are unfortunately overlooked. Not just Niger, but in dozens of other African nations.

It is reckoned from US army data that there are thousands of special forces and other military personnel carrying out up to 100 missions at any given time in some 24 African states. That's nearly half of all the countries comprising the African continent.

The deployment of US troops in Africa was first stepped up under President GW Bush when his administration formed AFRICOM in 2007, a whole US command dedicated to the continent. Subsequently, under President Barack Obama, the American deployments increased further. Now under President Trump, the US force presence is reckoned to be at its highest level yet.

The official explanation is that American soldiers, Navy and air power, as well as CIA clandestine operations, are there to counter terror groups, who could plan and mount strikes on Europe and North America.

But there is more than a suspicion that the US is using the cover of combating terrorism to conceal and project its real objective, which is to exert its influence over African nations. One observation for raising doubts is that the problem of these terror groups has actually grown more rapidly after the US troops started to be deployed in larger numbers under President Bush. Echoes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria here.

When Trump hosted several African leaders last month in New York during the UN annual congress he told them that his American investor friends were hotfooting it to the continent "to make a lot of money". Typical of Trump, everything is reduced to filthy lucre.

The trouble for America and other Western powers is that China has stolen a march on them in terms of cultivating investments and harnessing resources across Africa. Under President Xi Jinping, China has investment projects worth an estimated $60 billion in dozens of African countries. This is way ahead of what the Americans or Europeans have invested.

Earlier this year, China opened its first ever overseas military base, in the East African country of Djibouti. That's still small news compared with the reported 46 military bases that the US has across the continent.

The big difference between the US and China is that while Beijing has devoted most of its resources to developing trade and industry with African states, Washington's emphasis is on military relations.

China has gained much respect from African nations for its genuine commitment to partnership. It is bringing capital and technology to Africa and gaining access to natural resources of oil and gas, metals and other minerals. Unlike the old European colonialism, China's involvement in Africa is based on partnership and mutual development. For access to raw materials, China has built schools, universities, telecommunications and transport networks, which are all helping the continent reach its huge potential.

The Americans like the Europeans are stuck in an "extractive mentality" when it comes to Africa. But today, American capitalism is broke. It can't even invest in its own nation never mind Africa.

Trump speaks for American capitalism. Knowing the rich resources possessed in Africa's earth and its people, Trump salivates over the prospect of making big bucks. But the Americans aren't prepared to spend the investment money needed to harness the rewards. That's where the US military muscle comes in. In place of proper economic investment, diplomacy and political partnership, Washington is using its military edge to encroach on Africa — under the guise of "fighting terrorism".

That's not to say that American troops aren't confronting terror groups. They are, as the deadly firefight in Niger shows.

But the real purpose for increasing US military strength in Africa is about securing American strategic economic interests "on the cheap" by using military power as opposed to deploying financial commitment in the way that China has.

America's militarism in Africa will bring no benefit to the countries. As in other parts of the globe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the pattern clearly shows that terrorism burgeons where US military operations occur.

Besides, American capitalism is not motivated by developing Africa for its people. It's about making profits for Wall Street and rich investors like Trump.

The real danger is that this militarism will lead to another point of confrontation with China if the latter's economic interests are threatened, as they were when US and NATO forces bombed Libya in 2011 for regime change.

It's such a crying shame that American widows are having their hearts broken for a mission that is totally fraudulent — and getting no thanks for it from a callous Commander-in-Chief.

The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime By Lars Schall and Douglas Valentine 9/22/17

On occasion of the CIA’s 70th anniversary, Lars Schall talked with U.S. researcher Douglas Valentine about the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Valentine, the CIA is “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government”, doing the dirty business for the rich and powerful.

Lars Schall: 70 years ago, on September 18, 1947, the National Security Act created the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. Douglas, you refer to the CIA as “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government.” Why so?

Douglas Valentine: Everything the CIA does is illegal, which is why the government provides it with an impenetrable cloak of secrecy.

While mythographers in the information industry portray America as a bastion of peace and democracy, CIA officers manage criminal organizations around the world.

For example, the CIA hired one of America’s premier drug trafficker in the 1950s and 1960s, Santo Trafficante, to murder Fidel Castro. In exchange, the CIA allowed Trafficante to import tons of narcotics into America.

The CIA sets up proprietary arms, shipping, and banking companies to facilitate the criminal drug trafficking organizations that do its dirty work. Mafia money gets mixed up in offshore banks with CIA money, until the two are indistinguishable.

Drug trafficking is just one example.

LS: What is most important to understand about the CIA?

DV: Its organizational history, which, if studied closely enough, reveals how the CIA manages to maintain its secrecy. This is the essential contradiction at the heart of America’s problems: if we were a democracy and if we truly enjoyed free speech, we would be able to study and speak about the CIA. We would confront our institutionalized racism and sadism. But we can’t, and so our history remains unknown, which in turn means we have no idea who we are, as individuals or as a nation. We imagine ourselves to be things we are not. Our leaders know bits and pieces of the truth, but they cease being leaders once they begin to talk about the truly evil things the CIA is doing...

'ohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

LS: Do the people at the CIA know that they’re part of “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government”? In the past, you’ve suggested related to the Phoenix program, for example: “Because the CIA compartmentalizes itself, I ended up knowing more about the program than any individual in the CIA.”

DV: Yes, they do. I talk at length about this in my book The CIA as Organized Crime. Most people have no idea what cops really do. They think cops give you a speeding ticket. They '’t see the cops associating with professional criminals and making money in the process. They believe that when a guy puts on a uniform, he or she becomes virtuous. But people who go into law enforcement do so for the thrill of wielding power over other people, and in this sense, they relate more to the crooks they associate with than the citizens they’re supposed to protect and serve. They’re looking to bully someone and they’re corrupt. That’s law enforcement.


The CIA is populated with the same kind of people, but without any of the constraints. The CIA officer who created the Phoenix program, Nelson Brickham, told me this about his colleagues: “I have described the intelligence service as a socially acceptable way of expressing criminal tendencies. A guy who has strong criminal tendencies but is too much of a coward to be one, would wind up in a place like the CIA if he had the education.” Brickham described CIA officers as wannabe mercenaries “who found a socially acceptable way of doing these things and, I might add, getting very well paid for it.”

... the CIA recruits secret police forces as assets in every country where it operates, including occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In Latin America...

... What’s less well known is that the CIA’s executive management staff is far more concerned with selecting the right candidates to serve as CIA officers than it is about selecting agents overseas. The CIA dedicates a huge portion of its budget figuring how to select, control, and manage its own work force.

It begins with instilling blind obedience. Most CIA officers consider themselves to be soldiers. The CIA is set up as a military organization with a sacred chain of command that cannot be violated. Somebody tells you what to do, and you salute and do it. Or you’re out.

Other systems of control, such as “motivational indoctrination programs”, make CIA officers think of themselves as special. Such systems have been perfected and put in place over the past seven decades to shape the beliefs and responses of CIA officers. In exchange for signing away their legal rights, they benefit from reward systems – most importantly, CIA officers are immune from prosecution for their crimes. They consider themselves the Protected Few and, if they wholeheartedly embrace the culture of dominance and exploitation, they can look to cushy jobs in the private sector when they retire.

The CIA’s executive management staff compartments the various divisions and branches so that individual CIA officers can remain detached. Highly indoctrinated, they blindly obey on a “need to know” basis. This institutionalized system of self-imposed ignorance and self-deceit sustains, in their warped minds, the illusion of American righteousness, upon which their motivation to commit all manner of crimes in the name of national security depends. That and the fact that most are sociopaths.

It’s a self-regulating system too. As FBN Agent Martin Pera explained, “If you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy.”

LS: Is the war on drugs also a war on blacks?

DV: America is a former slave state and a blatantly racist society, so yes, the war on drugs, which is managed by white supremacists, was and is directed against blacks and other despised minorities as a way of keeping them disenfranchised.

LS: Is it ironic to you that the whole drug trade wouldn’t exist as it does today if the drugs were not illegal in the first place?

DV: The outlawing of narcotic drugs turned the issue of addiction from a matter of “public health” into a law enforcement issue, and thus a pretext for expanding police forces and reorganizing the criminal justice and social welfare systems to prevent despised minorities from making political and social advances.

The health care industry was placed in the hands of businessmen seeking profits at the expense of despised minorities, the poor and working classes. Private businesses established civic institutions to sanctify this repressive policy.

Public educators developed curriculums that doubled as political indoctrination promoting the Business Party’s racist line. Bureaucracies were established to promote the expansion of business interests abroad, while suppressing political and social resistance to the medical, pharmaceutical, drug manufacturing and law enforcement industries that benefited from it. It takes a library full of books to explain the economic foundations of the war on drugs, and the reasons for America’s laissez faire regulation of the industries that profit from it. Briefly stated, they profit from it just like the Mafia profits from it.

Suffice it to say that Wall Street investors in the drug industries have used the government to unleash and transform their economic power into political and global military might; never forget, America is not an opium or cocaine producing nation, and narcotic drugs are a strategic resource, upon which all of the above industries – including the military – depend. Controlling the world’s drug supply, both legal and illegal, is a matter of national security.

LS: Is the CIA part of the opium problem today in Afghanistan?

DV: In Afghanistan, CIA officers manage the drug trade from their hammocks in the shade. Opium production has soared since they created the Karzai government in 2001-2 and established intelligence networks into the Afghan resistance through “friendly civilians” in the employ of the opium trafficking warlord, Gul Agha Sherzai. The American public is largely unaware that the Taliban laid down its arms after the American invasion, and that the Afghan people took up arms only after the CIA installed Sherzai in Kabul. In league with the Karzai brothers, Sherzai supplied the CIA with a network of informants that targeted their business rivals, not the Taliban.

the CIA methodically tortured and killed Afghanistan’s most revered leaders in a series of Phoenix-style raids that radicalized the Afghan people. The CIA started the war as a pretext for a prolonged occupation and colonization of Afghanistan.

The drug trade also has “intelligence potential”. CIA officers have an accommodation with the protected Afghan warlords who convert opium into heroin and sell it to the Russian mob. It’s no different than cops working with Mafia drug dealers in America; it’s an accommodation with an enemy that ensures the political security of the ruling class. The accommodation is based on the fact that crime cannot be eradicated, it can only be managed.

DV: Afghanistan is a case study of the standard two-tiered Phoenix program developed in South Vietnam. It’s guerrilla warfare targeting “high value” cadre, both for recruitment and assassination. That’s the top tier. It’s also psychological warfare against the civilian population – letting everyone know they will be kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, extorted and/or killed if they can be said to support the resistance. That’s the second tier – terrorizing the civilians into supporting the US puppet government.

The US military resisted being involved in this repugnant form of warfare (modeled on SS Einsatzgruppen-style special forces and Gestapo-style secret police) through the early part of the Vietnam War, but got hooked into providing soldiers to flesh out Phoenix. That’s when the CIA started infiltrating the military’s junior officer corps.

.... There are no more conventional wars, so the military, for economic and political reasons, has become, under the junior officer corps recruited by the CIA years ago, the de-facto police force for the American empire, operating out of 700 + bases around the world.

LS: In what form and fashion is the Phoenix program alive today in America’s homeland?

DV: Karl Marx explained over 150 years ago how and why capitalists treat workers the same, whether at home or abroad. As capitalism evolves and centralizes its power, as the climate degenerates, as the gap between rich and poor widens, and as resources become scarcer, America police forces adopt Phoenix-style “anti-terror” strategies and tactics to use against the civilian population.

The government has enacted “administrative detention” laws, which are the legal basis for Phoenix-style operations, so that civilians can be arrested on suspicion of being a threat to national security. Phoenix was a bureaucratic method of coordinating agencies involved in intelligence gathering with those conducting “anti-terror” operations, and the Department of Homeland Security has established “fusion centers” based on this model around the nation. Informant nets and psychological operations against the American people have also proliferated since 9-11. This is all explained in detail in my book, The CIA as Organized Crime.

LS: How important is mainstream media for the public perception of the CIA?

DV: It’s the most critical feature. Guy Debord said that secrecy dominates the world, foremost as secret of domination. The media prevents you from knowing how you’re being dominated, by keeping the CIA’s secrets. The media and the CIA are same thing....

Any domestic Phoenix-style organization or operation depends on double-speak and deniability, as well as official secrecy and media self-censorship. The CIA’s overarching need for total control of information requires media complicity. This was one of the great lesson defeat in Vietnam taught our leaders. The highly indoctrinated and well rewarded managers who run the government and media will never again allow the public to see the carnage they inflict upon foreign civilians. Americans never will see the mutilated Iraqi, Afghani, Libyan, and Syrian children killed by marauding US mercenary forces and cluster bombs.

LS: Is the CIA an enemy of the American people?

DV: Yes. It’s an instrument of the rich political elite, it does their dirty business.

One Map With All the Countries the US Has Invaded Will Make You Question Everything For those who have ever wanted a clearer picture of the true reach of the United States military — both historically and currently — but shied away due to the sheer volume of research required to find an answer, a crew at the Independent just made things a whole lot simpler.

Using data compiled by a Geography and Native Studies professor from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, the indy100 team created an interactive map of U.S. military incursions outside its own borders from Argentina in 1890 to Syria in 2014.


To avoid confusion, indy100 laid out its prerequisites for what constitutes an invasion:

“Deployment of the military to evacuate American citizens, covert military actions by US intelligence, providing military support to an internal opposition group, providing military support in one side of a conflict, use of the army in drug enforcement actions.”

But indy100 didn’t stop there. To put all that history into context, using data from the Department of Defense (DOD), the team also put together a map to display all the countries in which nearly 200,000 active members of the U.S. military are now stationed.


The three countries with the biggest U.S. presence, according to DOD numbers, are Japan at 39,623, Germany at 34,399 and South Korea at 23,297.


The publication of the maps comes just after President 'ald Trump announced the military would not be pulling out of its 16-year engagement in Afghanistan — a reversal of his previous stance — and that the U.S. would seek stronger ties with India to combat terrorism in South and Central Asia.

Beijing’s “Belt and Road” Initiative, Towards an Economy of Peace? By Peter Koenig [an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites.] August 31, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Why is Peace not breaking out, when the vast majority of the world’s populace does not want war?

Why is the world one huge fireball of hostilities, conflicts, threats of economic sanctions, propaganda of lies and mind manipulations, fearmongering – killing – massive killing – 12-15 million people killed since 9/11? – Why is that? And all provoked and executed by ONE country, and her vassals in the form of NATO, stooges of Brussels and the Middle East, and their prostituted proxies, paid mercenary whores, Islamic State, by the one Rogue Nation the world is subjected to – the United States of America.

All that at the cost of trillions of dollars, tax-payers’ money – really? – More likely privately FED, Wall Street created fiat money, pyramid money, based on usury and debt, subjugating debt to be pillaged from the ordinary citizens; but government debt never to be repaid, as per Alan Greenspan (FED Chairman, 1987-2006) to an exasperated journalist who asks, when will the US ever pay back its huge debt? – “Never – we will just print new money”. – So, is it really ‘tax-payers’ money’? – Would tax-payers’ money be able to pay for these trillions and trillion spent on conflicts, wars and hostilities – hundreds of billions spent on propaganda of deception and lies to promote endless assassinations around the globe? Hardly.

Why is it that we live willingly and knowingly in a fraud and greed-economy? – Is living in deception the illusion that keeps ultra-capitalism alive? – That leads us to ever higher grounds of avarice – ending in all-destructive fascism? – Possibly in a globe-annihilating mushroom?

Why do we worship war, if at least 99.99% of the peoples of this globe want peace?

Why do we tolerate such atrocities imposed by one nation – no longer worthy of the term ‘nation’ – destructions of entire countries, civilizations, the cradle of western history? Obliteration of livelihoods for generations to come? – For nothing else but gluttony, for insane accumulation of material goods and power? For world hegemony of a few? Why do we tolerate Inhumanity as our ‘leadership’?

It is well-understood that such ‘leaders’ are put in place not by elections, but by fraud – why do we not throw them out? – Why do we bend over still believing in the lies of democracy ? if in the back of our minds a little spark of conscience tells us exactly that we are being betrayed by our governments, not once, not twice – but ALL THE TIME?

And this refers to WE in the WEST.

.....

There is a new economic paradigm waiting in the wings, offered by China and Russia, an Economy of Peace. An economy backed by labor, by construction, by research, education – by culture – and by gold. No fiat economy – an economy of Equal Rights and equal benefits for all participants; a non-war based economy, totally contrary of the western usury rent-seeking destructive economy. Who would not be attracted by this new model of Peace Economics?

The new Silk Road – also President Xi Jinping’s OBI – One Belt Initiative, formerly known as “The One Belt One Road” (OBOR) – an economic development program spanning the entire super-Continent of Eurasia and North Africa, from Vladivostok to Lisbon, and from Shanghai to Hamburg. Every territory in between is invited to participate, in what is possibly the largest and most wide-ranging economic expansion initiative in modern history.

It is a multi-trillion-dollar (equivalent) endeavor that could literally stretch out for centuries, creating infrastructure, work, trade, income, new technologies, education- the palette is almost endless – for many areas still largely deprived of human well-being.

The “Road” encompasses land route development from Central China to Central Asia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Eastern Europe – construction of ports and coastal infrastructure from Southeast Asia to East Africa and the Mediterranean. In fact, OBI was initiated by President Xi in 2013 and is already well under way. China’s modernization of Greece’s Port of Piraeus, arguably the largest in the Mediterranean, is already part of it.

It keeps Brussels nervous. The hot-rock of mud and corruption is afraid it may ‘lose’ Greece – a NATO country – from their control. Greece diplomatically assures them ‘loyalty’ – nevertheless, thanks to Greek pressure – under these new circumstances – Brussels ‘vassalic’ human rights condemnation and new sanctions directed at China, in Washington’s latest efforts to pressure China on North Korea, were stopped thanks to Greek intervention on behalf of China. Quite a feat, for a small country – downtrodden into financial and abject purposeful economic misery by Germany and the nefarious troika. It shows not only the west’s bluff, but their fear from the East – where Brussels and Washington know very well – the world’s future lays.

This revival of the ancient Silk road with 21st Century technology, as China calls it, also comes with financing to promote basic needs, such as urban planning, water supply, sanitation, food production and distribution. The old axiom of comparative production advantages will be applied in an open market of equals among equals, already begun under the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), signed by Presidents Putin and Xi in May 2015, and rapidly expanding westward.

The OBI is sometimes referred to as the Eastern Marshall Plan. But it should rather and more aptly be called the Xi Plan. It comes with the appropriate financial instruments, foremost the Beijing based Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB). The Xi Plan is destined for economic development and peoples’ well-being. Whereas the Marshall Plan was designed for deceit, exploitation and enslavement of Europe with its subservient Bretton Woods Institutions – and it succeeded.

Among AIIB’s members are many western countries, conventional allies of the United States, like Germany, the UK, France, many Nordic countries, Australia and others. Despite the objection of Washington, they have decided to join anyway. They realize the future is in Asia, in the East, much of it represented by this gigantic promising New Silk Road. After having lived through a fake and fraudulent privately run monetary economy for most of the last 200 years -even the staunchest ally and Washington vassal is becoming wary and ready for a new start.

AIIB will be tough competition for the Bretton Woods Institutions, IMF and World Bank, especially since the AIIB will be playing by faire rules ? no strangulation structural adjustment loans to privatize social sectors and natural resources, and to plunge developing countries into misery and subjugation with austerity programs no end. The World Bank and IMF records of causing misery and hardship are almost endless. Most developing countries, utterly distrustful of such practices, are just waiting to become members of the AIIB and to enter economic development that actually benefits their people.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, Charles Freeman described the OBOR / OBI project as

“potentially the most transformative engineering effort in human history. China will become the center of economic gravity as it becomes the world’s largest economy. The ‘Belt and Road’ program includes no military component, but it clearly has the potential to upend the world’s geopolitics as well as its economics.” (NBC News, May 12, 2017)

Even the NYT lauds

“The initiative … looms on a scope and scale with little precedent in modern history, promising more than $1 trillion in infrastructure and spanning more than 60 countries. Mr. Xi is aiming to use China’s wealth and industrial know-how to create a new kind of globalization that will dispense with the rules of the aging Western-dominated institutions. The goal is to refashion the global economic order, drawing countries and companies more tightly into China’s orbit. It is impossible for any foreign leader, multinational executive or international banker to ignore China’s push to remake global trade. American influence in the region is seen to be waning.”



In addition, the BRICS members – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will meet in early September in Xiamen, the coastal city of China’s Fujian Province to “deepening the BRICS partnership and opening up a brighter future”. One of the key items on their agenda is the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and its Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The BRICS NDB is headquartered in Shanghai and will work in parallel with the AIIB to further economic cooperation, growth, and human well-being. The NDB Treaty was signed in July 2015 with a subscribed capital of US$ 50 billion, of which US$ 10 billion paid-in and US$ 40 billion callable. BRICS funding, similar to that of the AIIB, is meant primarily for infrastructure and energy development. Again – the funding is for Peace Economics.

These new financing initiatives will be a serious challenge for the western monetary cabal and a thorn in the eye of Washington’s drive for dollar hegemony. Although AIIB’s and NDB’s capital base is still accounted for in US-dollars, it is likely changing in the near future into a basket-type currency, similar to the IMF’s SDR (Special Drawing Rights), but without the US-dollar.

With this bright perspective of an Economy for Peace from the East, who would want to continue adhere to the western fiat monetary system which has never been based on economic output, but was made to manipulate world economies to the detriment of the working peoples and for the benefit of the private owners and creators of the system, the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, Goldman, et al .

“We Burned Down Every Town in North Korea” By John Laforge August 21, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

“We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another… Over a period of three years or so, we killed off, what, 20 percent of the population?” - General Curtis LeMay, in “Strategic Air Warfare,” by Richard H. Kohn


The US public wants to know why North Korea is so paranoid, militarily hostile and boastful. And why do the leaders in the capital city Pyongyang point their fingers at the US every time they test another rocket or bomb? Sixty-five years after the US burned down every town in North Korea, the US military is now simultaneously bombing or rocketing seven different non-nuclear countries. The US conducts military exercises with South Korea off the North’s coastline twice a year.

North Korea’s rocket tests mostly fail but are nevertheless called “provocative” and “destabilizing” by the State Dept., the Council of Foreign Relations, and the White House. This is regardless of which party is in power.

In Robert Neer’s 2013 book “Napalm,” the author reports that General Lemay wrote, “We burned down just about every city in North and South Korea both … we killed off over a million civilian Koreans…” Eighth Army chemical officer 'ald Bode is quoted as saying, on an “average good day” … pilots in the Korean War “dropped 70,000 gallons of napalm: 45,000 from the U.S. Air Force, 10,000-20,000 by its navy, and 4,000-5,000 by marines” ¾ marines who nicknamed the burning jellied gasoline “cooking oil.”

Neer found that a total of 32,357 tons of napalm were used on Korea, “about double that dropped on Japan in 1945.” More bombs were dropped on Korea than in the whole of the Pacific theater during World War II ¾ 635,000 tons, versus 503,000 tons. “Pyongyang, a city of half a million people before 1950, was said to have had only two buildings left intact,” Neer wrote. This is still living memory in North Korea.

Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” says, “Perhaps 2 million Koreans, North and South, were killed in the Korean war, all in the name of opposing ‘the rule of force.’” Bruce Coming’s 2010 history “The Korean War” says, “of more than 4 million casualties … at least 2 million were civilians. … Estimated North Korean casualties numbered 2 million including about 1 million civilians… An estimated 900,000 Chinese soldiers lost their lives in combat.”

After Truman fired Gen. MacArthur in May 1951, the former supreme commander testified to Congress, “The war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20 million people. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children … I vomited.”

What is it exactly to threaten to destroy an entire country’s people? Is it terrorism? Trump’s fire and fury “the likes of which the world has never seen” would have to be beyond the half million dead in the US Civil War; 18 million overall deaths in World War I and 50 to 80 million dead in World War II; 3 million dead Vietnamese and at least 2 million dead Koreans. As usual, Mr. Trump cannot be taken seriously, or he is frighteningly unhinged.

Overthrowing Other People’s Governments: The Master List By William Blum September 09, 2014 "ICH"

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)

China 1949 to early 1960s
Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
Syria 1956-7
Egypt 1957
In'esia 1957-8
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
France 1965
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
In'esia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Zaire 1975
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Suriname 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Iraq 1991
Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993

Yugoslavia 1999-2000 * Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Libya 2011*
Syria 2012

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

Social Justice Quiz 2017: Children – Ten Questions By Bill Quigley August 15, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Question One. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent or 46 million people are living in poverty in the US. How many of those people living in poverty are children? Answer to Question about children in poverty is 14 million.

Question Two. What percentage of children live in a poor family in the US? Answer to question about percentage of children in poverty is 20 percent.

Question Three. How does poverty rate compare for children under 18 and people over 65? Answer to comparison between the poverty rate of children and people over 65 is that children are more than twice as likely to be poor as people over 65.

Question Four. On any given night, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports over half a million people are homeless in the US. How many of those are children? Answer to Question about homeless children is 120,000.

Question Five. On any given night, how many children are in foster care? Answer to Question about children in foster care is 425,000.

Question Six. On any given night, how many children are incarcerated? Answer to Question about children incarcerated is 50,000.

Question Seven. About 1,900 children die of cancer each year. How many die from gun injuries? Answer to Question about children dying from gun injuries is 1,297.

Question Eight. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) helps about 20 million children each month for an annual cost of about $30 billion for the children each year. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children under 5 (WIC) provides food and healthcare referrals to 8 million people, for an annual budget of about $6 billion. The National School Lunch program feeds about 30 million children each school day and the School Breakfast Program feeds 14 million as well for an annual budget of about $16 billion. Together, these programs for children spend about $52 billion dollars. How does the spending on these programs for food for kids compare to what people in the US spend on pets? Answer to Question comparing government spending on child nutrition with spending on pets is that the country spends more on pets, over $61 billion per year according to the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics.

Question Nine. Of the thirty five countries in the world which are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, where do you think the US ranks in terms of child poverty? Answer to Question about infant mortality is 29th.

Question Ten. The United States spends more money on healthcare than any country in the world. Where does the US rank in the death rate of infants within the first year of life among the top 35 countries in the OECD? Answer to Question about rank of children in poverty in top 35 countries, which is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, is 33rd.

Hightower: Wall Street Is Pulling a Big-Time Car Loan Scam on Thousands of Americans By Jim Hightower / AlterNet August 10, 2017,

The "new way" is the same old story of the rich robbing the rest of us.

The self-described "Geniuses of Wall Street" are being stupid. Again.

In 2007, their stupid schemes and frauds crashed our economy, destroying middle-class jobs, wealth and opportunities. Far from getting punishment, however, these financial scofflaws were bailed out by their Washington enablers -- so the moral lesson they learned was clear: Stupid pays!

Sure enough, only a decade later, here they come again! Rather than investing America's capital in real businesses to generate grassroots jobs and shared prosperity, Wall Street is siphoning billions of investment dollars into speculative nonsense -- such as high-profit securities "secured" only by rickety bundles of subprime auto loans.

Car dealers, eager to goose up sales, have been hawking new vehicles to lower-income people, offering quick credit approval. Banks -- eager to hook more people on monthly car payments -- have been approving these subprime car loans without verifying the buyer's ability to pay.

Then, a Wall Street bank's investment house buys up thousands of these iffy individual loans, bundles them into multimillion-dollar "debt securities," and sells them to wealthy global speculators. Last year alone, banks sold $26 billion-worth of these explosive bundles of car loans.

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U.S. Government Helped Rise of Mexican Drug Cartel: Report By Per Liljas August 11, 2017

Mexican newspaper reveals secret arrangement between DEA and Sinaloa cartel

The U.S. government allowed the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel to carry out its business unimpeded between 2000 and 2012 in exchange for information on rival cartels, an investigation by El Universal claims.

Citing court documents, the Mexican newspaper reports that DEA officers met with top Sinaloa officials over fifty times and offered to have charges against cartel members dropped in the U.S., among other pledges.

Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior research scholar in law and economics at Columbia University, says that the tactic has been previously used in Colombia, Cambodia, Thailand and Afghanistan.

Only Morons Believe What The US Government Says About North Korea By Daniel McAdams [] August 11, 2017

Usually foreign analysts of the American political scene are either sycophantic or just annoying, but no one would dare say that about Aussie observer Caitlin Johnstone, whose punk rock style of cutting to the chase is as refreshing as it can be shocking (I am not a fan of the strong language, but I get it). Since President Trump's "fire and fury" explosion yesterday Americans have to an unsettling degree once again rallied 'round the (false) flag of war propaganda. Today Ms. Johnstone provided a much-needed slap in the face to the mind-numbed masses once again clamoring for US bombs on a country they could not find on a map if their lives depended on it.

~

Johnstone reminded anyone with half a brain of one eternal truth: Governments and their house servants (the mainstream media, neocons, deep state, etc) are murderous liars and the only way they dare flush a few hundred billion dollars -- and oceans of blood -- down the toilet of war is to first lie their brains out to the people they are confident will swallow the poison pills and call them candy.

Of course the United States government and its minions are lying about North Korea, Johnstone reminds us. They ALWAYS lie!

She Writes:

The United States power establishment has an extensive history of using lies, false flags and propaganda to manipulate its hundreds of millions of citizens into supporting needless military interventionism. From the Gulf of Tonkin incident to the false Nayirah testimony to the amazing network of lies spun about Saddam Hussein to the 'humanitarian' intervention in Libya to the unconscionable Bana Alabed psy-op in Syria, there is no depth to which the US war machine will not stoop in deceiving the public about the need to unload the military-industrial complex’s expensive inventory onto some third world country overseas, no limit to the evils that America’s unelected power establishment will commit in order to secure geopolitical dominance, and no end to the mass media propaganda machine’s willingness to report war propaganda as objective fact.

It is quite literally impossible to be too paranoid about these people. If you had an acquaintance who was a known compulsive liar with an extensive history of duping people into fighting one another for his own sociopathic amusement, how would you react if he handed you a gun and told you that your neighbor is getting ready to attack you?

Blood's on your hands, not ours.

The United States and the Crucifixion of Yemen By Paul Street August 09, 2017

The United States has killed, maimed, displaced and otherwise harmed an astonishing number of people in its 241-year record of murder and mayhem--including more than 20 million killed in 37 nations since 1945.

Polls: US Is ‘the Greatest Threat to Peace in the World Today’ By Eric Zuesse August 09, 2017

Empire of Whiners By Pepe Escobar July 27, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

As a new report by the Army War College tracks the loss of "US primacy" around the world, it prescribes more of the same; propaganda, surveillance and war.

The Myth of American Exceptionalism By Melvin Goodman [a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA analyst] July 27, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Like too many nations, the United States likes to think of itself as a chosen nation and a chosen people. Presidential inauguration statements are typically an exercise in proclaiming American exceptionalism, and this mentality has far too much influence in the United States.

An excellent example of our exceptionalism appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post in the form of an op-ed by Tom Malinowski, the former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration. In a fatuous display of ignorance, Malinowski lambasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for stating that the United States frequently meddles in the politics and elections of other countries. Malinowski argued that it is Russia that interferes in democratic elections, such as the U.S. presidential race in 2016, but that the United States consistently “promotes democracy in other countries.”

One of the reasons why the United States has so little credibility in making the case against Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election is the sordid record of the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency in conducting regime change and even political assassination to influence political conditions around the world.

The revelation of assassination plots in Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam finally led to a ban on CIA political assassination in the mid-1970s. Nevertheless, when Libyan leader Muammar Qadafi was killed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boasted that “we came, we saw, he died.” In an incredible turn of events, the United States invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, although it was a CIA-sponsored coup against Colonel Abdul Kassem that led to the emergence of Saddam Hussein in the first place.

Before former U.S. officials such as Tom Malinowski decide to lambaste Putin for cynicism and treachery, it would be a good idea to become familiar with U.S. crimes and calumny. Forty years ago, former senator Frank Church said the United States “must never adopt the tactics of the enemy. Each time we do so, each time the means we use are wrong; our inner strength, the strength that makes us free, is lessened.” Malinowski should ponder William Faulkner’s admonition about the land of his birth: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Assange: 'CIA Not Only Armed Syrian Terrorists -It Paid Their Salaries' By Chris Menahan July 23, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Wikileaks' Julian Assange is continuing his attempt to "take down America any way he can" by accurately reporting the truth.

CIA-backed Fighters Killed Or Wounded 100,000 Syrian Soldiers By David Ignatius July 23, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

What did the CIA’s covert assistance program for Syrian rebels accomplish? Bizarrely, the biggest consequence may be that it helped trigger the Russian military intervention in 2015 that rescued President Bashar al-Assad — achieving the opposite of what the program intended. [Typical -CG]

America’s Embarrassment By Margaret Kimberley July 08, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Trump is a truly repugnant human being, but he did not attack seven nations (Obama), destroy a major social welfare program (Clinton), or authorize massive new surveillance on Americans (Bush and Obama).

'ald Trump is a national embarrassment.

But when one considers what this country is like, the outrage over comportment doesn’t amount to very much.

Consider that the United States has the world’s largest prison population, more than two million people. Consider again that this mass incarceration system has been targeted specifically against black people, and that one eighth of all imprisoned people on the planet are black Americans.

Death at the hands of police is the fate of an average of three people every day in the United States.

Many Americans love to brag that theirs is “the richest country in the world.” There are certainly big banks, rich individuals and trillions of dollars in the treasury but the masses of people rarely benefit from this wealth. This country routinely ranks near the bottom when compared to other “developed” nations in any measure of how it treats its people. It is now considered a “second tier” nation in terms of the wellbeing of its citizens.

It is certainly unusual to have such a decidedly boorish president. Trump literally pushes other presidents aside, engages in public feuds with celebrities and makes anyone an enemy who dares to oppose him or his policies. He makes up terms like “bigly” and “modern presidential” and excoriates the press when they criticize him. Condemning this kind of behavior is the lowest hanging fruit.

Trump is putting into practice Republican Party voter suppression schemes. He has established what he calls an election integrity commission and asked every state to provide names, Social Security numbers and party affiliation of their voters. The inevitable result will be the removal of black people from voter rolls.

The list of reasons to be embarrassed about America is very long and it existed before Trump was inaugurated. He has surely added to that ledger but legitimate cause for concern shouldn’t be pushed aside in favor of phony outrage about optics. President Trump is an ill- mannered, impulsive, happily uninformed bigot. Most of his predecessors were better behaved and followed rules of public relations. But they filled the jails, ended the right to public assistance, killed millions of people abroad, kept wages low and used a variety of schemes to make the rich even richer. Despite his obvious shortcomings 'ald Trump is not the worst among them. And that is the most embarrassing fact of all.

Making America Great, Again? Racism, Poverty, Violence… When was America great?

By Kim Petersen [a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter.] July 27, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

Obviously, to be become great again, America must have at one time been great. When was that? Was America great at its inception? In an era when it was killing Indigenous peoples, violating treaties, and stealing their land? Can you be great when the early colonists, many professedly Christians, broke sacred commandments like “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal”?

Was going to war with Mexico from 1846 to 1848 to aggrandize the US landmass great?

Was it great when the US allowed slave labor for the profit of slave owners? The Emancipation Proclamation was not issued until 1863, so unless a person believes that a country in which slavery can be practiced is great, then greatness must not have been possible until the later half of the 19th century. There are, however, some niggling complications to be discussed below.

In 1893, US corporate interests engineered an overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and annexed the islands. Was this great? Yes, the US Congress apologized, but how great of an apology is that? If someone steals your car and says sorry, but that person does not return your car and instead continues driving it around town, would you be content with the apology? Can such an apology even be construed as sincere?

Near the close of the 19th century, the US went to war with Spain. While docked in Havana Harbor, an onboard explosion occurred sinking the USS Maine with huge loss of life. The cause of the sinking remains mysterious; some point to a spontaneous combustion fire. Nevertheless, despite unclear etiology, the US government, urged on by the yellow journalism of newspaper magnates, blamed Spain and went to war.

Spanish colonies fought with the US against Spain. At the war’s end, the US subsumed administration of the former Spanish colonies. Aspirations for self-determination by Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were crushed. After bloody wars against the US, the Philippines finally gained independence in 1946. Cuba liberated itself in 1959 (although Guantanamo Bay remains occupied by the US). Guam and Puerto Rico remain de facto colonies of the US.

The 20th century also does not look great on the moral front for the US.

The US entered WWI and WWII in the later stages of each war, and it helped to defeat imperialist warmongers in Europe and East Asia. It came up with the Marshall Plan to help Europe back on its feet again and provide markets for US capitalism.(anarchist professor Noam Chomsky says, “… the Marshall Plan was designed largely as an export-promotion operation for American business, not as the noblest effort in history …” Understanding Power, p 39).

Then in 1969, the US accomplished a spectacular feat by placing the first men on the moon. However, at the same time back on planet Earth, the US was waging war against an already war-ravaged Viet Nam that wound up killing millions of Vietnamese, and this came on the heels of waging war against North Korea also killing millions of Koreans. Neither of these countries posed a military threat to the US, and both wars imposed military defeats on the US.

As soon as China entered the war in Korea, it pushed the US back from the Yalu River all the way to the 38th parallel. The US war on Viet Nam was a resounding defeat for the US, one that witnessed US troops scampering, at war’s end, from a Saigon rooftop to be transported to safety by helicopters.

Elsewhere, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, lies the Chagos archipelago, the site of more questionable American greatness. There the British government conspired with the US to remove all Chagossians from the British colony (which Britain had severed from Mauritius) to serve as an unfettered American military installation. It remains an ethnically cleansed strategic platform for American imperialism and militarism, as well as a site for extraordinary renditions.

Slavery was long ago outlawed, but racism and discrimination were still rife in 20th century America. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that the legal sanctions of racist Jim Crow laws were repealed. [although Jim Crow is alive and well in America -CG]

Aside from the violence against Blacks on the homefront, the US was involved in several violent incidents in the 20th century such as the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Grenada, Panama, Chile, etc. Is greatness conferred by waging violence? Especially violence against smaller, less militarily armed countries?

Has America ever been a noble beacon on the hill? Has it been an exemplar for democracy, freedom, human rights, and equal opportunity – values that would indicate greatness?

Has the 21st century seen a move toward American greatness? In 2003, the Persian Gulf Slaughter, led by the US, saw a genocide committed against Iraq based on a contrived casus belli.

In 2004, the US, abetted by Canada and France, orchestrated a military coup against the elected president of Haiti that forced Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile overseas.

Then there is the ongoing war against Afghanistan; the war against Libya; the warring against Syria; a US-backed coup in Honduras; US-backed coup plots against the government in Venezuela; and unabated, continued support for the occupation and oppression of Indigenous Palestinians by the Jewish state. The litany of moral depredations that America wreaks upon peoples or that it is fully complicit with demand legal redress.

Given the above, this writer regards with extreme skepticism the notion of America ever having been great in any meaningful sense. Granted, great deeds have been accomplished in America, including developing a leading university system; technological breakthroughs in astronomy, aviation, transportation, communication, armaments; entertainment; sports; etc. However, the deeds do not add up to a great nation.

The Chinese way to Greatness

Greatness is not conferred by having the most billionaires and neither by having the biggest corporations. When at the same time there are millions of working poor and unemployed what is indicated? When there are millions who are homeless and nourished by dumpster diving what does this tell one about the greatness of a country? Clearly, there is a wide chasm between the haves and have-nots. This is not greatness. The number of skyscrapers, the number of overseas military bases, the number of nuclear weapons, Silicon Valley, and the glitz of Hollywood do not mask the stench of a having a huge underclass that refutes any claim to greatness.

Greatness is a transcendent quality that sets itself above all else. Greatness is anathema to moral turpitude. The destruction of Indigenous peoples, the subjugation of others to slavery, the constant resort to lethal violence to impose one’s will, and the deteriorating quality of life for millions of people on the domestic front point toward a quality that rebuts any claim to greatness.

Instead of his bellicose rhetoric against China, Trump would be better advised to consider how the Chinese are pursuing a peaceful path to greatness.

Unlike the US, China has pledged no first use of nukes. Although China has strengthened itself militarily (and who can blame it given that China is ringed by US military bases, and given the way an unfriendly US conducts itself in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the world), Chinese Communist Party chairman Xi Jinping affirms that peace is the way to settle disputes.

China has an extraordinary goal: it is on target to eliminate poverty by the year 2020. Imagine that! No manned moon landing can compare since the elimiation of poverty is not based on a vicarious pride; rather, it is a social development that affects every citizen directly.

Moreover, the rising dragon is also poised to place humans on lunar soil.

Instead of imposing the scourge of war on small countries, China is a country that aspires to greatness through peaceful dialogue and by ridding itself of the scourges of hunger, homelessness, and other attributes of poverty.

China partners with other nations to develop their economies; as such it funds and engages in multilateral economic development with a host of nations.

Africa is not just a source for resource exploitation; China invests heavily in African infrastructure development. Across Asia and into Europe China invests in the mega Belt and Road Initiative that is spurring economic activity across Eurasia.

Conclusion

Is China great? In terms of the nation state, some kind of agreed upon definition is required. Assuredly, any meaningful definition of greatness would preclude wreaking violence on others. And how great are you if you can not properly care for and provide the basic necessities for your own citizens?

In the case of America, to become genuinely great a first step is demanded. Since America exists as a nation state through its denationalization of Indigenous nations, it must first address and atone for this longstanding injustice. Second, America must sincerely address the historical wrongs committed against African-Americans. And should that day arrive — and hopefully soon — when America has ridden itself of racism, poverty as well as resolutely disavowing violence, then it may be considered to have genuinely attained greatness.

US Gov’t Proves Loyalty To ISIS As Bill To ‘Stop Arming Terrorists’ Gets Only 13 Supporters By Matt Agorist [Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Matt is the founder of The Free Thought Project. http://thefreethoughtproject.com/] June 21, 2017 "Information Clearing House"


Tulsi Gabbard [D-HI], author of the bill

One of the most rational bills ever proposed, barring the Feds from giving money and weapons to child murdering terrorists, has almost ZERO support.

For the last several decades, the US government has openly funded, supported, and armed various terrorist networks throughout the world to forward an agenda of destabilization and proxy war. It is not a secret, nor a conspiracy theory, America arms bad guys.

Given the insidious history of the American empire and its creation and fostering of terrorist regimes across the globe, it should come as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of politicians would refuse to sign on to a law that requires them to ‘Stop Arming Terrorists.’ And, that is exactly what’s happened.

H.R.608 – Stop Arming Terrorists Act was introduced by Rep. Gabbard, Tulsi [D-HI] on January 23 of this year. The bill doesn’t have any crazy strings attached and its original cosponsors are a mix of Republicans and Democrats — highlighting that it transcends party lines.

After nearly 5 months since its introduction, only 13 of the 535 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors. What this lack of support for the bill shows is that the federal government is addicted to funding terror and has no intention of ever stopping it.

To add insult to treason and murder, Senator Rand Paul [R-KY] introduced this same legislation in the Senate. He currently has zero cosponsors.

Given the overwhelming lack of support for a bill that simply asks the government to stop giving money to people who behead children and video it, it should come as no surprise that 'ald Trump signed hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons deals with other countries who also fund these people.

As Americans bicker over Trump’s bogus and non-existent Russian scandal, he’s signing a deal worth hundreds of billions of dollars with the largest state sponsor of terror in the world — ensuring decades of future wars and the continuation of the cycle of terrorism.

What’s more is the fact that less than one week after publicly reprimanding Qatar for terrorism, President Trump signed off on the sale of $12 billion in weapons to the country he referred to as a “funder of terrorism.” This move, in Trump’s own stance, makes him a de facto funder of terrorism now.

What this lack of support for the bills and the recent moves to arm the terrorist regimes illustrates is the fact that the US has no intention of ever stopping terrorism. Trump, just like Obama and Bush before him, will continue to foster the growth of terrorism to enrich those who profit from war.

Terrorism is necessary for the state. War, is the health of the state.

Without the constant fear mongering about an enemy who ‘hates our freedom,’ Americans begin questioning things. They challenge the status quo and inevitably desire more freedom. However, when they are told that boogeymen want to kill them, they become immediately complacent and blinded by their fear.

While these boogeymen were once mostly mythical, since 9/11, they have been funded and supported by the US to the point that they now pose a very real threat to innocent people everywhere.

Trump is proving that he can lie to get into power and his supporters ignore it. If you doubt this fact, look at what Trump did by calling out Saudi Arabia for their role in 9/11 and their support for terror worldwide prior to getting elected. He now supports these terrorists and his constituency couldn’t care less.

Washington’s War Crimes in Syria By Bill Van Auken [Bill Van Auken (born 1950) is a politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party and was a presidential candidate in the U.S. presidential election of 2004. Van Auken is a full-time reporter for the World Socialist Web Site (my party -Colby), and resides in New York City.] June 16, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

War crimes being carried out by Washington threaten to coalesce into a global conflict.

The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria.

US warplanes have dropped tens of thousands of munitions on Raqqa and the surrounding area, killing and maiming thousands of Syrian men, women and children. US Marines units, which have steadily swelled the ground forces illegally deployed on Syrian soil, have unleashed further lethal firepower, firing 155mm howitzers into crowded urban neighborhoods and flying Apache attack helicopters to provide close air support to the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces.

The bloody siege of Raqqa is unfolding even as the Pentagon is carrying out a similar slaughter, begun last October, in Mosul, an Iraqi city 232 miles to the east that once boasted a population of over 2 million. Most of Mosul has been pulverized by US bombs, rockets and shells. Thousands have been killed and wounded, while many remain still buried under the rubble.

The scope of the war crimes being carried out by the Pentagon comes more sharply into focus with the verified reports that US artillery units are firing white phosphorus shells into both Raqqa and Mosul. These incendiary chemical weapons, banned under international law for use in populated areas, ignite human flesh on contact, burning it to the bone, while those who breathe the gases released by the shells suffocate and burn from the inside out. The horrific wounds caused by these weapons reopen when exposed to air. White phosphorus is used to strike terror among those under attack.

Last month, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told the media that the Pentagon was adopting “annihilation tactics” in its anti-ISIS campaign, adding, “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”

Washington’s strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria are not those of “fighting terrorism,” but rather consolidating US hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East and preparing for war against the principal obstacles to this objective, Iran and Russia. For US imperialism, undisputed control over both the Persian Gulf and Central Asia would provide the means to cut off energy supplies to its global rival, China.

These predatory aims are the source of war crimes, and not only in Iraq and Syria. In Yemen, Washington is backing a near-genocidal war led by the Saudi monarchy with the objective of weakening Iran’s influence in the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, Washington is preparing to once again escalate the protracted slaughter in Afghanistan. .. Thousands more soldiers are expected to be deployed, with the aim of carrying out the “annihilation tactics” favored by the defense secretary.

As these atrocities play out across an ever-expanding global battlefield, what is striking is the absence of any organized opposition to US war crimes... The media, a faithful propaganda arm of the Pentagon and the CIA, has shown a complete disinterest in US war crimes...

Moreover, while masses of working people in the US and around the world are opposed to war, the pseudo-left groups that got their start in the middle class antiwar protests of the 1960s and 1970s have aban'ed even verbal opposition to US military aggression. Reflecting the interests of privileged middle-class layers, groups like the International Socialist Organization in the US, the Left Party in Germany and the New Anti-capitalist Party in France have articulated the politics of this new constituency for imperialism, justifying neo-colonial interventions in the name of “human rights” and portraying CIA regime-change operations as in Libya and Syria as “revolutions.”

Where the US Ranks on the List of Most Peaceful Nations in the World By Darius Shahtahmasebi. June 06, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

The Global Peace Index, which bases its annual assessment on a complex analysis of social, economic, and political factors, has found that the United States of America is the 114th most peaceful nation on the planet.

This most recent ranking sees the U.S. down 11 places from the previous year. This drop places Armenia and Rwanda in front of America, and El Salvador and China right behind.

“Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. It is joined at the top of the index by New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark. There was also very little change at the bottom of the index. Syria remains the least peaceful country in the world, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen,” the report said.

The other countries at the bottom of the list (including Syria) are actively being bombed into oblivion by the United States.

“The U.S. deterioration is primarily driven by the growing intensity of internal conflict within the country, which was partly seen in the divisive 2016 Presidential election, as well as increases in the perceptions of criminality across American society,” the analysis said.

Leaked 5/30/17 by Park Rangers... on Facebook

Leaked documents now expose military tactics used to defeat pipeline protesters at Standing Rock.

In September of last year, when protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota were at its peak, disturbing footage showed security personnel releasing their dogs at the peaceful water protectors. This widely shared clip sparked nationwide criticism and anger towards the controversial project.

To counter the protests, DAPL parent company Energy Transfer Partners turned to a private security firm that treated the demonstrators. TigerSwan, which is run by a special forces Army veteran and has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan, is described as a shadowy international mercenary and security firm that originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror. TigerSwan applied military-style counterterrorism measures including the use of helicopters and drones for aerial surveillance, radio eavesdropping, infiltration of camps and activist circles, and even tracking persons "of interest" over state lines.

The firm also planned a counter-information campaign by creating and distributing content critical of the protests on social media. Another troubling revelation is TigerSwan's alleged collaboration with law enforcement across five states and the federal government to suppress the uprising. The leaked documents detail communications among agents from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Justice Department, the Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as state and local police.

How U.S. Military Bases Back Dictators, Autocrats, and Military Regimes By David Vine [a TomDispatch regular, is associate professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C. His latest book is Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (the American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).] May 17, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

here’s the strange thing: the critics generally ignored the far more substantial and long-standing bipartisan support U.S. presidents have offered these and dozens of other repressive regimes over the decades. After all, such autocratic countries share one striking thing in common. They are among at least 45 less-than-democratic nations and territories that today host scores of U.S. military bases, from ones the size of not-so-small American towns to tiny outposts. Together, these bases are homes to tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

"This pattern of daily support for dictatorship and repression around the world should be a national scandal in a country supposedly committed to democracy."


To ensure basing access from Central America to Africa, Asia to the Middle East, U.S. officials have repeatedly collaborated with fiercely anti-democratic regimes and militaries implicated in torture, murder, the suppression of democratic rights, the systematic oppression of women and minorities, and numerous other human rights abuses. Forget the recent White House invitations and Trump’s public compliments. For nearly three quarters of a century, the United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in maintaining bases and troops in such repressive states.


Many of the 45 present-day undemocratic U.S. base hosts qualify as fully “authoritarian regimes,” according to the Economist Democracy Index. In such cases, American installations and the troops stationed on them are effectively helping block the spread of democracy in countries like Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.


Far from bringing democracy to these lands, however, such bases tend to provide legitimacy for and prop up undemocratic regimes of all sorts, while often interfering with genuine efforts to encourage political and democratic reform. The silencing of the critics of human rights abuses in base hosts like Bahrain, which has violently cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators since 2011, has left the United States complicit in these states’ crimes.


The 45 nations and territories with little or no democratic rule represent more than half of the roughly 80 countries now hosting U.S. bases (who often lack the power to ask their “guests” to leave). They are part of a historically unprecedented global network of military installations the United States has built or occupied since World War II.


Today, while there are no foreign bases in the United States, there are around 800 U.S. bases in foreign countries... there are, according to the Pentagon, 181 U.S. “base sites” in Germany, 122 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea. Hundreds more dot the planet from Aruba to Australia, Belgium to Bulgaria, Colombia to Qatar. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, civilians, and family members occupy these installations.


By my conservative estimate, to maintain such a level of bases and troops abroad, U.S. taxpayers spend at least $150 billion annually -- more than the budget of any government agency except the Pentagon itself.



email from Roots Action:

a massive U.S. Air Force facility in southwest Germany, the Ramstein base, serves as a global hub for Washington’s drone warfare that has caused so many civilian casualties.

That drone war, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East and Africa, relies on surveillance data that German and American intelligence agencies continue to collaborate on gathering.


from Rober Hunzika, UK progressive

A World in Turmoil, Thank You Mr. Trump! By Philip Giraldi April 12, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - "Unz Review"


The man who promised a sensible and non-interventionist Middle Eastern policy and a reset with Moscow has now reneged on both pledges. His nitwit United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has directly linked Russia and Syria for punishment by the omnipotent Leader of the Free World lest anyone be confused.

Trump, regarded by many including myself as the sensible “peace candidate,” appears to be preparing to engage militarily on multiple fronts worldwide. And things are particularly heating up in the Middle East and South Asia. More U.S. troops are being deployed to Iraq and also to Syria, in that latter case without any invitation from Damascus or legal justification or even a phony United Nations mandate, and thousands more soldiers will be returning to Afghanistan to “stabilize” the situation. Meanwhile Yemen continues to suffer as the U.S. supports Saudi aggression.


Russia meanwhile is indicted without evidence for trying to overthrow our democratic system and the recent terrorist attack in St. Petersburg would have been reported more extensively but for the fact that those Soviet holdovers probably deserved it. No one is asking why the United States should believe itself to be empowered to intervene anywhere unless it is actually being directly and seriously threatened by some other nation.

So it is all a mess, largely of our own creation due to our tendency to get involved in places regarding which we know nothing and could really care less about. And by supplementing all of that with our inclination to believe in the myth of our national Exceptionalism as a genuine force for good, you wind up with a witch’s brew that has fueled anti-Americanism worldwide, led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and emptied our treasury. Ambassador Chas Freeman has aptly perceived the U.S. government as the “foreign relations equivalent of a sociopath – a country indifferent to the rules, the consequences for others of its ignoring them, and the reliability of its word.”

Chomsky: Outrage Over Russian Hacking Claims is Laughable ideo and Transcript By Democracy Now! April 04, 2017

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Noam Chomsky, I’d like to ask you about something that’s been in the news a lot lately. Obviously, all the cable channels, that’s all they talk about these days, is the whole situation of Russia’s supposed intervention in American elections. For a country that’s intervened in so many governments and so many elections around the world, that’s kind of a strange topic. But I know you’ve referred to this as a joke. Could you give us your view on what’s happening and why there’s so much emphasis on this particular issue?


NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s a pretty remarkable fact that—first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter. The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships. Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways. So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.

So why are the Democrats focusing on this? In fact, why are they focusing so much attention on the one element of Trump’s programs which is fairly reasonable, the one ray of light in this gloom: trying to reduce tensions with Russia? That’s—the tensions on the Russian border are extremely serious. They could escalate to a major terminal war. Efforts to try to reduce them should be welcomed. Just a couple of days ago, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, came out and said he just can’t believe that so much attention is being paid to apparent efforts by the incoming administration to establish connections with Russia. He said, "Sure, that’s just what they ought to be doing."

So, meanwhile, this one topic is the primary locus of concern and critique, while, meanwhile, the policies are proceeding step by step, which are extremely destructive and harmful. So, you know, yeah, maybe the Russians tried to interfere in the election. That’s not a major issue. Maybe the people in the Trump campaign were talking to the Russians. Well, OK, not a major point, certainly less than is being 'e constantly. And it is a kind of a paradox, I think, that the one issue that seems to inflame the Democratic opposition is the one thing that has some justification and reasonable aspects to it.

U.S. Should Ship Statue of Liberty Back to France By Eric Zuesse February 05, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - "SCF"

This monument for compassion, and against bigotry, is now merely a metaphorical sore thumb here.


A Sham

If U.S. Cared About Muslims, They Would Stop Killing Them by the Millions By Glen Ford [BAR executive editor] February 02, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - "BAR"

“Since 2001, war has been normalized in the U.S. -- especially war against Muslims.”

Trump’s current ban on travelers affects nations that were already targeted by President Obama, “a perfect example of the continuity of U.S. imperial policy in the region.” The memo from State Department “dissenters” contains “not a word of support for world peace, nor a hint of respect for the national sovereignty of other peoples.”

Neither outburst of dissent was directed against the U.S. wars and economic sanctions that have killed and displaced millions of people in the affected countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In neither memo is there a word of support for world peace, nor a hint of respect for the national sovereignty of other peoples -- which is probably appropriate, since these are not, and never have been, “core American and constitutional values.”

Trump orders military to prepare for world war By Tom Eley [Freelance journalist. Lives in Nottingham, England] 28 January 2017, WSWS.org

During a visit to the Pentagon on Friday, President 'ald Trump issued an executive action calling for stepped up violence in Syria and a vast expansion of the US military, including its nuclear arsenal, to prepare for war with “near-peer competitors”—a reference to nuclear-armed China and Russia—and “regional challengers,” such as Iran.

The US currently spends approximately $600 billion on its military annually—excluding expenditures on the intelligence agencies and Veterans Administration— more than the next nine largest military spenders combined. American “defense” spending accounts for, by itself, over one third of all global military spending, and it consumes the great majority of the federal discretionary budget.

Increases in military spending, coupled with Trump’s promises to drastically lower taxes on corporations and the rich, must inevitably be paid for by cuts to education, health care and infrastructure, and by plundering Social Security and Medicare.

US Is No Longer A Full Democracy, EIU Warns By Nyshka Chandran January 25, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - "CNBC" 1/25/17

The U.S. has been demoted from a full democracy to a flawed democracy for the first time, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Every year, the firm's Democracy Index provides a snapshot of global democracy by scoring countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Nations are then classified under four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.

America's score fell to 7.98 last year from 8.05 in 2015, below the 8.00 threshold for a full democracy, the EIU announced in a report on Wednesday. That put the world's largest economy on the same footing as Italy, a country known for its fractious politics.

A flawed democracy is a country with free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, according to the EIU. Other flawed democracies in 2016 included Japan, France, Singapore, South Korea and India, the report said.

However, Washington can't point fingers at President 'ald Trump for the nation's downgrade.

"The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00," the report explained. Instead, dwindling trust in government, elected representatives and political parties is to blame.

The increasing role played by non-elected technocrats, increased voter abstention and curbs on civil liberties are among the main symptoms of this global malaise, the EIU said, noting that almost half of the 167 countries covered by its index registered a decline in overall scores between 2006 and 2016.

Norway topped the EIU's list of full democracies last year, followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark; Canada and Ireland tied for sixth place.


U.S. Shields Its Torturers and War Criminals, Now Officially Honors Them By Glenn Greenwald [a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law] December 07, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "The Intercept"

As vice president, Dick Cheney was a prime architect of the worldwide torture regime implemented by the U.S. government (which extended far beyond waterboarding), as well as the invasion and destruction of Iraq, which caused the deaths of at least 500,000 people and more likely over a million. As such, he is one of the planet’s most notorious war criminals.

President Obama made the decision in early 2009 to block the Justice Department from criminally investigating and prosecuting Cheney and his fellow torturers, as well as to protect them from foreign investigations and even civil liability sought by torture victims.

Obama did that notwithstanding a campaign decree that even top Bush officials are subject to the rule of law and, more importantly, notwithstanding a treaty signed in 1984 by Ronald Reagan requiring that all signatory states criminally prosecute their own torturers. Obama’s immunizing Bush-era torturers converted torture from a global taboo and decades-old crime into a reasonable, debatable policy question, which is why so many GOP candidates are now openly suggesting its use.

But now, the Obama administration has moved from legally protecting Bush-era war criminals to honoring and gushing over them in public. Yesterday, the House of Representatives unveiled a marble bust of former Vice President Cheney, which — until a person of conscience vandalizes or destroys it — will reside in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

Yesterday, the U.S. government unambiguously signaled to the world that not only does it regard itself as entirely exempt from the laws of wars, the principal Nuremberg prohibition against aggressive invasions, and global prohibitions on torture (something that has been self-evident for many years), but believes that the official perpetrators should be honored and memorialized provided they engage in these crimes on behalf of the U.S. government. That’s a message that most of the U.S. media and thus large parts of the American population will not hear, but much of the world will hear it quite loudly and clearly.

Docs Show US Wanted to Rig Election in Ecuador to Prevent Left-Wing Victory By teleSUR December 17, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "teleSur"

While leftist Jaime Roldos Aguilera went on to become Ecuador's president, he was later killed in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances.

Previously classified documents released earlier this week on Operation Condor have shed further light on how the U.S. controlled and meddled in Latin America politics in the 1970s, showing how the U.S. was tossing up the idea of “tinkering” with the outcome of elections in Ecuador as the victory of a left-wing president appeared likely.

The latest release of the Cold War-era documents detailed intelligence from July 24, 1978, where the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency looked into committing fraud in Ecuador’s 1979 election after left-wing candidate Jaime Roldos Aguilera won the most votes in 1978 but not enough to avoid a second runoff election scheduled for April 1979.

Showing Washington's clear disdain for left-wing candidates, the intelligence report states that “a DIA summary sees some possibility of tinkering the outcome for the second slot in the run-off since Huerta would have a better chance of defeating Roldas than the current apparent second place candidate Duran.”

Yet Roldos won the runoff election and become president in August 1979, the country’s first freely elected president without a background in the military. His campaign was built on a populist platform on human rights and labor reforms. During his tenure he brought in a number of important labor measures such as increasing the minimum wage and capping the country’s workweek to 40 hours.

He was well known for his advocacy of human rights around Latin America and pushed other Andean countries develop a charter of universal rights built on social justice and in particular non-intervention - something that did not sit well with the U.S. amid the fear of communism spreading during the cold war.

Roldos also supported a number of left-wing movements around the region, again ruffling feathers within Washington. Roldos also declined Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration in 1981.

Roldos died in a plane crash in May 1981, which created accusations that it was a part of a U.S.-backed assassination. Panama President Omar Torrijos, who also was critical of the U.S. role in the region and was known for his human rights leadership, died two months later in a plane crash, raising similar accusations.

After a CIA document was released in 2014, revealing that Ecuador was a part of Operation Condor, Ecuador’s attorney general’s office opened an investigation into his death.

The 2014 document states that Ecuador became part of Operation Condor in 1978, joining dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Ecuador's intelligence services and its armed forces agreed to share information with other countries and to take part in surveillance and psychological warfare, according to files.

The Smear Campaign Against Keith Ellison Is Repugnant but Reveals Much About Washington By Glenn Greenwald December 05, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "The Intercept"

Ever since he announced his candidacy to lead the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has been the target of a defamation campaign that is deceitful, repugnant, and yet quite predictable. At first expressed in whispers, but now being yelled from the rooftops by some of the party’s most influential figures, Ellison is being smeared as both an anti-Semite and enemy of Israel — the same smears virtually any critic of the Israeli government reflexively encounters, rendered far worse if the critic is a prominent American Muslim.

Three days ago, the now ironically named Anti-Defamation League pronounced Ellison’s 2010 comments about Israel “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” Other Israel advocates have now joined in. What are Ellison’s terrible sins? He said in a 2010 speech that while he “wanted the U.S. to be friends with Israel,” the U.S. “can’t allow another country to treat us like we’re their ATM.”

But that insanity is par for the course in Washington, where anyone who even questions U.S. policy toward Israel is smeared in this way — from James Baker to Howard Dean to Bernie Sanders and even 'ald Trump. So pernicious is this framework that the U.S. Senate just passed legislation expressly equating what it regards as unfair criticism of the Israeli government with “anti-Semitism.” And when one is an American Muslim, ugly stereotypes and pervasive Islamophobia are added to this toxic brew to make the smears worse by many magnitudes.

Obama extends global reach of US Special Operations death squads In major actions reported only briefly by the establishment press, President Obama has given vast new scope to the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), authorizing it to carry out assassinations across the globe.

Obama has approved a proposal to give JSOC independent authority to operate outside the regional commands, essentially as a globalized assassination force. JSOC units will bypass the regional commanders and report directly to Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the Pentagon.

According to the Washington Post, “The missions could occur well beyond the battlefields of places like Iraq, Syria and Libya, where Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carried out clandestine operations in the past.


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When finalized, it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multi-agency intelligence and action force.”

The mandate of the new formation, to be called the “Counter-External Operations Task Force,” or Ex-Ops in Pentagon jargon, will embrace the entire planet. This means US military death squads could be sent to virtually any location, from European cities to South American jungles, INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES ITSELF.

The Religious Fervor of the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem by Lucy Steigerwald, September 17, 2016

First, all patriotic actions are the same. The National Anthem, with its bombastic third stanza about killing slaves, is equal to the Pledge of Allegiance, a robotic, moldy 19th century socialist loyalty oath that children in public school say most often.

Waving a flag is cheering a soldier, and if we stop any of it, Brooks is concerned that our nation will stop improving itself. He has written a mildly interesting act of pundit contortionism, but that’s it. At its core, the piece is merely New York Times-speak for pure tribalism. If you do not stand, you are not in the in-group, and therefore cannot help to make that group better. It’s "you can’t sit with us" dressed up as deep thoughts.

A common, confused critique of actions like Kaepernick’s is that darn it, soldiers died so he would have the freedom to not stand for the National Anthem. Pretending that that statement is itself factual (somehow), it is still unsatisfying. Were we as Americans not supposed to exercise the rights to protest and free speech that the troops reportedly died for? And why is critiquing America while being free to do so in a way you might not be in other nations, again, intended to be an argument against that act of protest?

To cheer the military at sporting events, even at millions of dollars of cost to the taxpayer? (Yep, the NFL and college football both get paid by the military for patriotism, which offends even the ostensibly pure of heart politicians who love flag. Now nobody’s happy.)

Americans '’t just forget wars quickly, or atrocities on their nation’s collective head. We even forget how much we forgot. Nobody wants to remember how the Dixie Chicks nearly lost their careers for speaking out against President Bush on the eve of the Iraq war (talk about conservatives needing safe spaces).

Symbolism is either important, or it isn’t. Some people argue that standing for the Pledge, or the National Anthem doesn’t translate to support for everything the US has ever 'e. But it’s intended to be a show of tribalism, isn’t it? Just as Brooks said, it’s supposed to say that we’re all in this together. Not as human beings, but as residents of the same state, who are supposed to react to soldiers as if they’re Christ dying for their America-centric sins; who should treat America’s freedoms as an excuse not to exercise them, for fear we offend the gods.

U.S. One of Three Countries to Vote Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning the Glorification of Nazism Nov 18, 2016

UNITED NATIONS — The United States was one of three countries to vote against a U.N. resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism on Thursday, citing freedom of speech issues and concerns Russia was using it to carry out political attacks against its neighbors.

"Rebuilding America's Defenses" – A Summary Blueprint of the PNAC Plan for U.S. Global Hegemony Some people have compared it to Hitler's publication of Mein Kampf, which was ignored until after the war was over.

Obama: Americans Too 'Lazy' to Know Anything About the Rest of the World

President Barack Obama said Americans can be "lazy" because we are so big we think "We ''t have to know anything about other people."

Federal Bill Seeks First Native American Land Grab in 100 Years Even as the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in Standing Rock has galvanized Native Americans across the U.S., a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Utah Republican Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz seeks to take 100,000 acres of Ute tribal lands and hand them over to oil and mining companies.

The proposed bill also seeks to remove protection from 18 million acres of land in eastern Utah and prevent President Obama from designating the Bears Ears area a national monument.

Adjoining Canyonlands National Park and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Bears Ears is an unprotected culturally significant region that contains more than 100,000 Native American archeological sites. These sacred sites are subject to continual looting and desecration. More than a dozen serious looting cases were reported between May 2014 and April 2015.

The area has been inhabited for at least 11,000 years. Many Southwestern tribes have longstanding connections to this land, including Navajo, Ute and Paiute peoples. The Navajo Nation and the White Mesa Ute Reservation border Bears Ears. Rock paintings and petroglyphs are found throughout the area.

You Must be Kidding! Adventures in an American World of Frustration By Tom Engelhardt September 23, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Tom Dispatch"

Here are a few recent examples from the world of American-style war and peace. Consider these as random illustrations, given that, in the age of Trump, just about everything that happens is out-of-this-world absurd and would serve perfectly well. If you’re in the mood, feel free to shout out that line with me as we go.

Nuking the Planet: I’m sure you remember Barack Obama, the guy who entered the Oval Office pledging to work toward “a nuclear-free world.” You know, the president who traveled to Prague in 2009 to say stirringly: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons… To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.”

That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize largely for what he might still do, particularly in the nuclear realm. Of course, that was all so 2009!

Almost two terms in the Oval Office later, our peace president, the only one who has ever called for nuclear “abolition” – and whose administration has retired fewer weapons in our nuclear arsenal than any other in the post-Cold War era – is now presiding over the early stages of a trillion-dollar modernization of that very arsenal. (And that trillion-dollar price tag comes, of course, before the inevitable cost overruns even begin.) It includes full-scale work on the creation of a “precision-guided” nuclear weapon with a “dial-back” lower yield option.

And that brings me to the September 6th front-page story in the New York Times that caught my eye. Think of it as the icing on the Obama era nuclear cake. Its headline: “Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons.” Admittedly, if made, such a vow could be reversed by any future president. Still, reportedly for fear that a pledge not to initiate a nuclear war would “undermine allies and embolden Russia and China… while Russia is running practice bombing runs over Europe and China is expanding its reach in the South China Sea,” the president has backed down on issuing such a vow. In translation: the only country that has ever used such weaponry will remain on the record as ready and willing to do so again without nuclear provocation, an act that, it is now believed in Washington, would create a calmer planet.

Plain Old Bombing: Recall that in October 2001, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. was bombing no other largely Islamic country. In fact, it was bombing no other country at all. Afghanistan was quickly “liberated,” the Taliban crushed, al-Qaeda put to flight, and that was that, or so it then seemed.

On September 8th, almost 15 years later, the Washington Post reported that, over a single weekend and in a “flurry” of activity, the U.S. had dropped bombs on, or fired missiles at, six largely Islamic countries: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. (And it might have been seven if the CIA hadn’t grown a little rusty when it comes to the drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands that it’s launched repeatedly throughout these years.)

Meanwhile, President Obama has personally helped pioneer a new form of warfare that will not long remain a largely American possession. It involves missile-armed drones, high-tech weapons that promise a world of no-casualty-conflict (for the American military and the CIA), and adds up to a permanent global killing machine for taking out terror leaders, “lieutenants,” and “militants.” Well beyond official American war zones, U.S. drones regularly cross borders, infringing on national sovereignty throughout the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, to assassinate anyone the president and his colleagues decide needs to die, American citizen or otherwise (plus, of course, anyone who happens to be in the vicinity).

The president is now not just commander-in-chief but assassin-in-chief, a role that no imaginable future president is likely to reject. Assassination, previously an illegal act, has become the heart and soul of Washington’s way of life and of a way of war that only seems to spread conflict further.

The Well-Oiled Machinery of Privatized War: And speaking of drones, as the New York Times reported on September 5th, the U.S. drone program does have one problem: a lack of pilots. It has ramped up quickly in these years and, in the process, the pressures on its pilots and other personnel have only grown, including post-traumatic stress over killing civilians thousands of miles away via computer screen.

Selling Arms As If There Were No Tomorrow: In a recent report for the Center for International Policy, arms expert William Hartung offered a stunning figure on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. “Since taking office in January 2009,” he wrote, “the Obama administration has offered over $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia in 42 separate deals, more than any U.S. administration in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The majority of this equipment is still in the pipeline, and could tie the United States to the Saudi military for years to come.” Think about that for a moment: $115 billion for everything from small arms to tanks, combat aircraft, cluster bombs, and air-to-ground missiles (weaponry now being used to slaughter civilians in neighboring Yemen). Of course, how else can the U.S. keep its near monopoly on the global arms trade and ensure that two sets of products – Hollywood movies and U.S. weaponry – will dominate the world’s business in things that go boom in the night? It’s a record to be proud of, especially since putting every advanced weapon imaginable in the hands of the Saudis will obviously help bring peace to a roiled region of the planet. (And if you arm the Saudis, you better do no less for the Israelis, hence the mind-boggling $38 billion in military aid the Obama administration recently signed on to for the next decade, the most Washington has ever offered any country, ensuring that arms will be flying into the Middle East, literally and figuratively, for years to come.)

You must be kidding! Of course, I could go on. I could bring up a Congress seemingly incapable of passing a bill to fund a government effort to prevent the Zika virus from spreading wildly in parts of this country. (You must be kidding!)

I could discuss how the media fell face first into an SUV – NBC Nightly News, which I watch, used the video of Hillary Clinton stumbling and almost falling into that van, by my rough count, 15 times over four nights – and what it tells us about news “coverage” these days. (You must be kidding!)

Wards of the Nanny State Protecting America’s Children from Police State Goons, Bureaucratic Idiots and Mercenary Creeps

By John W. Whitehead September 22, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Rutherford Institute"

It’s not easy being a parent in the American police state.

When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ [Hitler] said in a speech on November 6, 1933, “I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’”—As reported by historian William L. Shirer

Out on the streets, you’ve got the menace posed by police officers who shoot first and ask questions later. In the schools, parents have to worry about school resource officers who taser teenagers and handcuff kindergartners, school officials who have criminalized childhood behavior, school lockdowns and terror drills that teach your children to fear and comply, and a police state mindset that has transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

In your neighborhoods, you’ve got to worry about the Nanny State and its network of busybodies turning parents in for allowing their children to walk to school alone, walk to the park alone, play at the beach alone, or even play in their own yard alone.

And now in the last refuge for privacy—one’s home—parents are being put through the grinder, their actions scrutinized and judged by government goon squads armed with outrageous, overreaching, egregious laws that subject families to the hyped-up, easily offended judgment of the Nanny State.

The latest slap in the face comes from the Arizona Supreme Court whose 3-2 ruling in Arizona v. Holle paves the way for parents to be charged as child molesters or sexual abusers for such innocent acts as changing their children’s diapers or taking baths with their kids.

The message is chillingly clear: your children are not your own but are, in fact, wards of the state who have been temporarily entrusted to your care. Should you fail to carry out your duties to the government’s satisfaction, the children in your care will be re-assigned elsewhere.

This doesn’t even touch on what happens to your kids when they’re at school—especially the public schools—where parents have little to no control over what their kids are taught, how they are taught, how and why they are disciplined, and the extent to which they are being indoctrinated into marching in lockstep with the government’s authoritarian playbook.

The harm caused by attitudes and policies that treat America’s young people as government property is not merely a short-term deprivation of individual rights. It is also a long-term effort to brainwash our young people into believing that civil liberties are luxuries that can and will be discarded at the whim and caprice of government officials if they deem doing so is for the so-called “greater good” (in other words, that which perpetuates the aims and goals of the police state).

Clearly, the schools should be educating children about their duties as citizens and how to protect their constitutional rights. Instead, government officials are molding our young people into compliant citizens with no rights and subjecting them to invasive questioning, searches of their persons and property, and random drug testing, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Franklin D. Roosevelt observed, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

Syria: Attack on Aid Obliterates US War Crimes in Support of ISIS-Daesh Terror Group? By Felicity Arbuthnot September 22, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Global Research"

Handle With Care: American Psycho System A 'Co-worker Of God' By Finian Cunningham September 22, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "RT"

US President Barack Obama made his eighth – and final – address to the United Nations General Assembly this week. What a relief, not to be subjected to any more florid speeches filled with vacuous, psychopathic lies.

Unfortunately, his successor – whoever that is – will pontificate more of the same. For the American psycho power-system is delusional about being a force for good.

As usual, Obama delivered another one of his soaring rhetorical pirouettes. The American Conjurer-in-Chief presented a sweeping vista of history that was a travesty of reality. Sweeping American global crimes under a carpet of lies.

What is nauseating about an American president standing up in front of the world’s nations at the opening of the UN annual assembly is not merely having to tolerate listening to such venal verbiage. It is an insult to common human intelligence to witness such brazen falsification of world conflicts – and specifically the sickening self-exoneration of American responsibility.

Obama even had the gall to quote Martin Luther King by calling on nations to join with the United States as “co-workers of God”.

US In Denial Over Sponsoring Terrorism Is Why War On Syrian Rages On By Finian Cunningham September 08, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "RT"

How can a solution be found when one of the parties is part of the problem?

Cutting through diplomatic jargon, the fundamental problem is that the US remains in denial about its criminal role in fueling the war.

It is this role by the US and various foreign allies in supporting illegally armed groups that ensures the continuance of the conflict, which has been running for nearly six years with hundreds of thousands killed.

Washington and its allies – in particular this week Turkey – claim to be fighting terrorism. But the myriad global networks of weapons, cash, oil smuggling and military intelligence all testify to systematic state sponsorship of terrorism in Syria – in spite of random apparent anti-terror operations by these same sponsor-states.

America the Illiterate By Chris Hedges September 04, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Truth Dig"

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth.

The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.

This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation.

The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless. They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers.

Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest. They only need to appear to have these qualities. Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book. The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology.


Watch first:

US Military - A Cancer [video]

How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home Making America Pain-Free for Plutocrats and Big Pharma, But Not Vets By Ann Jones

"I Didn't Serve, I Was Used"

A friend of mine, a Vietnam vet, told me about a veteran of the Iraq War who, when some civilian said, “Thank you for your service,” replied: “I didn’t serve, I was used.” That got me thinking about the many ways today’s veterans are used, conned, and exploited by big gamers right here at home.

Andrew Bacevich writes:

“Some individuals and institutions actually benefit from an armed conflict that drags on and on. Those benefits are immediate and tangible. They come in the form of profits, jobs, and campaign contributions. For the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries, perpetual war is not necessarily bad news.”

Bacevich is certainly right about war profiteers, but I believe we haven’t yet fully wrapped our minds around what that truly means. This is what we have yet to take in: today, the U.S. is the most unequal country in the developed world, and the wealth of the plutocrats on top is now so great that, when they invest it in politics, it’s likely that no elected government can stop them or the lucrative wars and “free markets” they exploit.

How We Know ISIS Was Made In The USA By Roger Stone August 20, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - "Lew Rockwell"

Judicial Watch proved it. Under a Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch was able to obtain a (heavily redacted) copy of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) directive that initiated the creation of ISIS in 2012. the DIA report states,

“THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION . . . [SUPPORT] ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA . . . IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME . . .”.

Not even Judicial Watch seems to have appreciated the significance of this document, where its press release focused on the Benghazi attack. Recent releases of Hillary’s emails, moreover, confirm that taking out Assad has nothing to do with his alleged abuse of the Syrian people but because it will help Israel.

Just in case it has slipped anyone’s mind, Hillary was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. Barack was inaugurated in 2008 and steps down in 2016. It happened on their watch. It could not have happened without their approval. They really did create ISIS!

Modern America: The Empire of Lies By Martin Berger August 20, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - "NEO"

It’s a sad fact that today the absolute majority of Washington’s policies along with the foundation of so-called “American democracy” are built upon blatant lies.

But honestly, what does one expect from the likes of Hillary Clinton if even the Washington Post wouldn’t hesitate to present a video filled with her lies and “shifting positions?” Her ideas on Bosnia, healthcare, Wall Street, NAFTA are ever-shifting, since she’s convinced that Americans are unable to memorize basic facts or recall even recent American history.

US War Crimes or ‘Normalized Deviance’ By Nicolas J S Davies August 15, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - "Consortium News"

Sociologist Diane Vaughan coined the term “normalization of deviance” as she was investigating the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. She used it to describe how the social culture at NASA fostered a disregard for rigorous, physics-based safety standards, effectively creating new, lower de facto standards that came to govern actual NASA operations and led to catastrophic and deadly failures.

Vaughan published her findings in her prize-winning book, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA, which, in her words, “shows how mistake, mishap, and disaster are socially organized and systematically produced by social structures” and “shifts our attention from individual causal explanations to the structure of power and the power of structure and culture – factors that are difficult to identify and untangle yet have great impact on decision making in organizations.”

The normalization of deviance has since been cited in a wide range of corporate crimes and institutional failures, from Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests to deadly medical mistakes in hospitals. In fact, the normalization of deviance is an ever-present danger in most of the complex institutions that govern the world we live in today, not least in the bureaucracy that formulates and conducts U.S. foreign policy.

The normalization of deviance from the rules and standards that formally govern U.S. foreign policy has been quite radical. And yet, as in other cases, this has gradually been accepted as a normal state of affairs, first within the corridors of power, then by the corporate media and eventually by much of the public at large.

Once deviance has been culturally normalized, as Vaughan found in the shuttle program at NASA, there is no longer any effective check on actions that deviate radically from formal or established standards – in the case of U.S. foreign policy, that would refer to the rules and customs of international law, the checks and balances of our constitutional political system and the experience and evolving practice of generations of statesmen and diplomats.

It is in the nature of complex institutions infected by the normalization of deviance that insiders are incentivized to downplay potential problems and to avoid precipitating a reassessment based on previously established standards. Once rules have been breached, decision-makers face a cognitive and ethical conundrum whenever the same issue arises again: they can no longer admit that an action will violate responsible standards without admitting that they have already violated them in the past.

This is not just a matter of avoiding public embarrassment and political or criminal accountability, but a real instance of collective cognitive dissonance among people who have genuinely, although often self-servingly, embraced a deviant culture. Diane Vaughan has compared the normalization of deviance to an elastic waistband that keeps on stretching.

Within the high priesthood that now manages U.S. foreign policy, advancement and success are based on conformity with this elastic culture of normalized deviance. Whistle-blowers are punished or even prosecuted, and people who question the prevailing deviant culture are routinely and efficiently marginalized, not promoted to decision-making positions.

For example, once U.S. officials had accepted the Orwellian “doublethink” that “targeted killings,” or “manhunts” as Defense Secretary 'ald Rumsfeld called them, do not violate long-standing prohibitions against assassination, even a new administration could not walk that decision back without forcing a deviant culture to confront the wrong-headedness and illegality of its original decision.

Then, once the Obama administration had massively escalated the CIA’s drone program as an alternative to kidnapping and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, it became even harder to acknowledge that this is a policy of cold-blooded murder that provokes widespread anger and hostility and is counter-productive to legitimate counterterrorism goals – or to admit that it violates the U.N. Charter’s prohibition on the use of force, as U.N. special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings have warned.

Underlying such decisions is the role of U.S. government lawyers who provide legal cover for them, but who are themselves shielded from accountability by U.S. non-recognition of international courts and the extraordinary deference of U.S. courts to the Executive Branch on matters of “national security.” These lawyers enjoy a privilege that is unique in their profession, issuing legal opinions that they will never have to defend before impartial courts to provide legal fig-leaves for war crimes.

Seymour Hersh on White House Lies About bin Laden's Death, Pakistan and the Syrian Civil War By Mark Karlin August 15, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Truth Out"

In The Killing of Osama bin Laden, Seymour Hersh offers a compelling alternative version to the details that led to bin Laden's death. He also investigates unproven assertions justifying the US's thus far disastrous involvement in the Syrian civil war. Truthout recently interviewed Hersh about the book.

Mark Karlin: I found your narrative based on research and informants very persuasive. Your version of how Osama bin Laden came to be killed was ridiculed by the White House, the intelligence communities and the military. Why do you think the mainstream press -- and even The Guardian -- marginalized your sourced account as conspiratorialist?

Seymour Hersh: The mainstream press relies on access. The reporters covering beats -- most notably national security beats -- must be able to get calls returned and interviews when needed. This does not mean that the reporters on those beats are incompetent or in the hands of the White House -- it is just a fact of life that those who cross boundaries, as defined by the White House, do not get the same treatment as those who faithfully reflect the view of the President and his minions. It is especially so when it comes to crisis reporting -- an airplane tragedy, a battlefield victory or defeat. Thus, the White House controlled all details of the story from the moment President Obama announced the kill, and it did all -- as White Houses will -- to glorify the President’s action and shape the story in ways that would help in Obama’s re-election the next year.

Once the narrative was set, any significant change in the story had to be resisted by the White House, and especially by those who wrote the initial stories. The scapegoat in my revisionist approach to the bin Laden killing was my reliance on anonymous sources, as if anyone on the inside who deviated from the official script could survive in their job if their name became known. Most journalists, especially those in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where I worked with a lot of prize-winning success in the 1970s, were especially angered at my reporting. Their position, in my view, defies common sense

Berta Cáceres's Name Was On Honduran Military Hitlist, Says Former Soldier By Nina Lakhani in Mexico City 6/23/16

A unit trained by US special forces was ordered to kill the environmental activist who was slain in March, according to an ex-member who now fears for his life.

Lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of social and environmental activists were given to two elite units, with orders to eliminate each target, according to First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz, 20.

Cruz’s unit commander, a 24-year-old lieutenant, deserted rather than comply with the order. Cruz – who asked to be identified by a pseu'ym for fear of reprisal – followed suit, and fled to a neighbouring country. Several other members of the unit have disappeared and are feared dead.

There is No U.S. War Against ISIS; Instead, Obama is Protecting His “Assets” By Glen Ford [Glen Ford has been a journalist and political activist – a provider of “information for liberation,” as he puts it – for over 40 years. Host of The Black Agenda Radio. Co-published BlackCommentator.com (2002) and BlackAgendaReport.com (2006). Ford has served as a White House, Capitol Hill and State Department correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief] June 03, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "BAR"

Two years ago, President Obama said he had no strategy to combat the Islamic State. The U.S. is still not waging war against ISIS or “jihadists of any brand in Syria.” The international jihadist network is a U.S. imperial asset. “The general aim of the Obama administration’s jihadist policy, now deeply in crisis, is to preserve the Islamic State as a fighting force for deployment under another brand name, under new top leadership.”

The U.S. claim that it is waging a global “war on terror” is the biggest lie of the 21st century, a mega-fiction on the same historical scale of evil as Hitler’s claim that he was defending Germany from an assault by world Jewry, or that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a Christianizing mission. In reality, the U.S. is the birth mother and chief nurturer of the global jihadist network – a truth recognized by most of the world’s people, including the 82 percent of Syrians that believe “the U.S. created the Islamic State.” (Even 62 percent of Syrians in Islamic State-controlled regions believe this to be true.)

Only “exceptionalism”-addled Americans and colonial-minded Europeans give Washington’s insane cover story the slightest credibility. However, it is dangerous in the extreme for any country to state the fact clearly: that it is the United States that has inflicted Islamic jihadist terror on the world. Once the charade has been aban'ed; once there is no longer the international pretense that Washington is not the Mother Of All Terror, what kind of dialogue is possible with the crazed and desperate perpetrator? What do you do with a superpower criminal, once you have accused him of such unspeakable evil?

It’s actually a desperate effort to balance U.S. interests in preserving ISIS as a American military asset, while also maintaining the Mother Of All Lies, that the U.S. is engaged in a global war on terror, rather than acting as the headquarters of terror in world. To maintain that tattered fiction, at least in the bubble of the home country, requires the maintenance of a massive and constant psychological operations apparatus. It’s called the corporate news media.

US Terrorizes Europe for NATO Scam By Finian Cunningham June 08, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Sputnik"

The US has succeeded at last with its audacious con-job. The lead NATO member has managed to orchestrate a huge turnaround for increased military spending among its European allies.

And at the heart of this scam is the hysterical anti-Russia propaganda campaign.

Over the past two years there has been a quickening drumbeat out of Washington and certain European capitals, warning of “Russian aggression” and “security threat”.

Bombastic accusations of Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and “destabilizing” Ukraine – with the skimpiest of evidence – have all been thrown into a propaganda cauldron, stirred up and ladled out on the Western public by corporate and government-controlled “news” media.

It’s so corny, it’s unbelievable. But shamefully the Big Lie has worked its way into accepted policy.

The upshot is the dramatic deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West and the inculcated notion that Russia is a menace to the security of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

That, in turn, has driven calls – mainly by the Americans – for increased spending on NATO military forces. And that is the key to understanding this whole collective derangement.

When the US-led military alliance holds its big summit in Warsaw next month, the 28-member states will be told that years of declining military expenditure have been reversed.

“Defence spending by Europe’s NATO states is set to rise for the first time in nearly a decade,” reported the Financial Times.

U.S. Expands Secret Wars In Africa By Justin Yun June 04, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Chimes"

The secret expansion of U.S. military bases and special operations in Africa has initiated a new and lightweight style of warfare and welcomes the next phase of American military imperialism. Unlike the highly publicized U.S. military “pivot to Asia,” the proliferation of drones, special ops, mercenary spies, classified bases, proxy fighters and cyber warfare constitute what the journalist Nick Turse calls a “new light-footprint Obama doctrine”

On any day, elite U.S. forces conduct covert missions in an estimated 70 to 90 countries. According to Turse, special forces have been sent to an unprecedented 147 countries — 75 percent of the world’s nations last year alone. This is a 145 percent increase from the rate of operations conducted under the Bush administration.

Wars conventionally fought by large infantry forces and full-scale invasions of foreign countries have made way for a new style of fighting — one that has become increasingly dependent on special forces, drones and private defense contractors. Because of the confidential nature of special ops, the Pentagon can essentially keep foreign military involvement secret from the American public.

JSOC — a clandestine organization that carries out kill/capture missions. JSOC has been called “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine” by counterinsurgency advisor John Nagl and many have described it as the president’s “private assassination squad.” The group reports directly to the White House. It is the military’s secret military.

With military presence in 53 of 54 of Africa’s nations, the American empire has emerged to pick up where the former European colonial powers have left off.

Made In America: How The US Dominates The World Arms Trade By JP Sottile June 04, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "AntiMedia"

Who says nothing is made in the USA anymore?

Certainly not the well-heeled denizens of the State Department’s diplomatic corps. And they should know. That’s because they’re stationed on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to preserve Uncle Sam’s dominant market share of the global weapons trade.

Not only was America the world’s leading arms dealer in 2014 with $36.2 billion in sales, but it topped that 35% surge in sales over 2013.

As Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) determined in its recent report on the global arms trade, the United States maintains a commanding “33% share of total arms exports” and is the world’s top seller for five years running. And its customer base includes “at least” 96 countries, which is nearly half of the world’s nations. A robust 40% of those exports end up in the Middle East.

Assad Must Go...... Americans Go On Swallowing The Wrong Pill By Paul Edwards May 30, 2016 "Information Clearing House" America leads the world in weapons production, public debt, and bullshit.

It’s no news the world has grown used to--and bored with---the pompously dingbat pronouncements with which those smarmy horses asses, our sorry “leaders”, have serially embarrassed us, if not themselves.

The turgid effluent of hogwash Obama and Kerry have emitted about our “mission” in Syria exactly matches the imbecility of U.S. actions there. One shining example: CIA jihadis actually fought Special Forces jihadis recently, Aunt Sam funding both. There never was, and can never be, justification for our villainy in that death-stinking charnel house our arrogance created.

The Speech Obama Should Have Given in Hiroshima By Matt Peppe May 28, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to visit Hiroshima on Friday, more than seven decades after the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a 10,000-pound atomic bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" on the city whose military value was far less than that of Tampa to the United States. More than 70,000 people were instantly killed, and virtually the entire city was flattened. Many survivors would suffer prolonged and unimaginably painful aftereffects of radiation, which would cost at least 100,000 more people their lives. The effects of radiation would harm people for years and decades after the initial explosion.

Obama stood at a podium with the epicenter of the blast, the Genbaku Domu, in the background and said that he had "come to mourn the dead." While Obama mourned, there was one thing he did not do: apologize.

Here's what he could have said:

Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, an American warplane unleashed the most horrific and inhuman weapon ever invented, immediately imperiling the survival of the entire human species. This act of terrorism was the ultimate crime: a crime of mass murder, a crime of war, and a crime against humanity.

The victims, those who died incinerated in a flash, and those who died slowly and painfully over years from chemical poisoning, were never able to see justice served. Sadly, there is no way the criminals who carried out this heinous and barbaric act will ever face justice for their crimes.

I cannot change that. But, there is one thing I can do as the leader of the nation in whose name the bombing of Hiroshima was carried out: I can tell you, residents of Hiroshima and the rest of Japan, that I am sorry. I am sorry on behalf of my government and my country.

There is no justification for the bomb. Period.

The truth is that by August 6, 1945 Japan was defeated and had been seeking a conditional surrender for months. And American war planners knew this. They knew it because they had cracked the Japanese code and were intercepting their messages.

Japan was willing to surrender under the condition that their Emperor, who was seen as a God among the Japanese people, be allowed to maintain his throne and not be prosecuted for war crimes. The Emperor himself called for "a plan to end the war" six weeks before the fateful day. [2] After so much unspeakable death and destruction, this reasonable offer should have been met with ecstatic celebration and relief.

Instead, U.S. officials disregarded it. They decided that it was necessary not just to defeat Japan, but to leave them utterly humiliated and disgraced. They wanted to demonstrate to their public that they could force another country to lay prostrate in front of them in complete submission. This is the mindset of terrorists, torturers, and sadists.

Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War By John Pilger May 27, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "teleSur"

Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party's rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun.

The first to be assassinated that year, Martin Luther King, had dared link the suffering of African-Americans and the people of Vietnam. When Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose”, she spoke perhaps unconsciously for millions of America's victims in faraway places.

The 2016 election campaign is remarkable not only for the rise of 'ald Trump and Bernie Sanders but also for the resilience of an enduring silence about a murderous self-bestowed divinity. A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington's boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

The breathtaking record of perfidy is so mutated in the public mind, wrote the late Harold Pinter, that it “never happened …Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. It didn't matter … “. Pinter expressed a mock admiration for what he called “a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take Obama. As he prepares to leave office, the fawning has begun all over again. He is “cool”. One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave full reign to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor. He prosecuted more whistleblowers – truth-tellers – than any president. He pronounced Chelsea Manning guilty before she was tried. Today, Obama runs an unprecedented worldwide campaign of terrorism and murder by drone.

In 2009, Obama promised to help “rid the world of nuclear weapons” and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama. He is “modernising” America's doomsday arsenal, including a new “mini” nuclear weapon, whose size and “smart” technology, says a leading general, ensure its use is “no longer unthinkable”. James Bradley, the best-selling author of Flags of Our Fathers and son of one of the US marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, said, “[One] great myth we're seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who's trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He's the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He's committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that's attached to actual policy. It isn't.” On Obama's watch, a second cold war is under way. The Russian president is a pantomime villain; the Chinese are not yet back to their sinister pig-tailed caricature – when all Chinese were banned from the United States – but the media warriors are working on it. In Asia, the Pentagon is sending ships, planes and special forces to the Philippines to threaten China. The US already encircles China with hundreds of military bases that curve in an arc up from Australia, to Asia and across to Afghanistan. Obama calls this a “pivot”. As a direct consequence, China reportedly has changed its nuclear weapons policy from no-first-use to high alert and put to sea submarines with nuclear weapons. The escalator is quickening. It was Hillary Clinton who, as Secretary of State in 2010, elevated the competing territorial claims for rocks and reef in the South China Sea to an international issue; CNN and BBC hysteria followed; China was building airstrips on the disputed islands. In its mammoth war game in 2015, Operation Talisman Sabre, the US practiced “choking” the Straits of Malacca through which pass most of China's oil and trade. This was not news. Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. In America, people are being primed to see any Chinese defensive position as offensive, and so the ground is laid for rapid escalation. A similar strategy of provocation and propaganda is applied to Russia. Clinton, the “women's candidate”, leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia. It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland -- that Hitler's Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. This epic catastrophe remains a presence in Russia. Clinton's presidential campaign has received money from all but one of the world's ten biggest arms companies. No other candidate comes close.

Sanders, the hope of many young Americans, is not very different from Clinton in his proprietorial view of the world beyond the United States. He backed Bill Clinton's illegal bombing of Serbia. He supports Obama's terrorism by drone, the provocation of Russia and the return of special forces (death squads) to Iraq. He has nothing to say on the drumbeat of threats to China and the accelerating risk of nuclear war. He agrees that Edward Snowden should stand trial and he calls Hugo Chavez – like him, a social democrat – “a dead communist dictator”. He promises to support Clinton if she is nominated. The election of Trump or Clinton is the old illusion of choice that is no choice: two sides of the same coin. In scapegoating minorities and promising to “make America great again”, Trump is a far right-wing domestic populist; yet the danger of Clinton may be more lethal for the world. Western Aggression: The Highest Form of Terrorism EDWARD S. HERMAN USA POLITICS, WAR ZONES FEBRUARY 4, 2016

Aggression is arguably the highest form of terrorism as it invariably includes the frightening of the target populations and their leaders as well as killing and destruction on a large scale. The U.S. invaders of Iraq in 2003 proudly announced a “shock and awe” purpose in their opening assault, clearly designed to instill fear; that is, to terrorize the victim population along with the target security forces. And millions of Iraqis suffered in this massive enterprise. Benjamin Netanyahu himself defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.”

How do the responsible U.S. and Israeli leaders escape this designation? One trick is the disclaiming of any “deliberateness” in the killing of civilians. It is “collateral damage” in the pursuit of proper targets (Iraqi soldiers, Hamas, etc.) This is a factual lie, as there is overwhelming evidence that in both the Iraq and Gaza wars the killing of civilians was on a large scale and often not comprehensible in terms of genuine military objectives.

But even if the killings were only collateral damage, the regular failure to avoid killing civilians, including a built-in carelessness and/or reliance on undependable sources of information, is both a war crime and terrorism. Recall that the Geneva Conventions state that combatants “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and, accordingly, shall direct their operations only against military objectives” (Part IV, Chap. 1, Article 48).

France and US killed Qaddafi for his gold and oil Perkins points out that the attack on Libya, like the attack on Iraq, has to do with power and control of resources, not only oil, but gold. Libya has the highest standard of living in Africa. “According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned. The IMF estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults,” Perkins wrote.

NATO went there like modern Barbary Coast Pirates – to loot Libya’s gold. The Russian media, in addition to Perkins, reported that the Pan-Africanist Qaddafi, the former President of the African Union, had been advocating that Africa use the gold so plentiful in Libya and South Africa to create an African currency based on a gold dinar.

“It is significant that in the months running up to the UN resolution that allowed the U.S. and its allies to send troops into Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi was openly advocating the creation of a new currency that would rival the dollar and the euro.

The U.S. Military Budget Is the Work of True Scam Artists The United States is on track to spend more than $600 billion on the military this year—more, that is, than was spent at the height of President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War military buildup, and more than the military budgets of at least the next seven nations in the world combined. And keep in mind that that’s just a partial total. As an analysis by the Straus Military Reform Project has shown, if we count related activities like homeland security, veterans' affairs, nuclear warhead production at the Department of Energy, military aid to other countries, and interest on the military-related national debt, that figure reaches a cool $1 trillion.

As the only major federal agency that can’t pass an audit, the Department of Defense (DoD) is the poster child for irresponsible budgeting.

It’s not just that its books '’t add up, however. The DoD is taking active measures to disguise how it is spending the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it receives every year—from using the separate “war budget” as a slush fund to pay for pet projects that have nothing to do with fighting wars to keeping the cost of its new nuclear bomber a secret. Add in dozens of other secret projects hidden in the department’s budget and the Pentagon’s poorly documented military aid programs, and it’s clear that the DoD believes it has something to hide.

Examining American Exceptionalism By Stephen J. Bergstrom May 25, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "The Saker"

The Great Leap Backward: America’s Illegal Wars on the World Can we face it in this election season? America is a weapons factory, the White House a war room, and the president the manager of the neoliberal conspiracy.

Americans: A Conquered People: The New Serfs By Paul Craig Roberts May 23, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

As readers know, I have seen some optimism in voters support for Trump and Sanders as neither are members of the corrupt Republican and Democratic political establishments. Members of both political establishments enrich themselves by betraying the American people and serving only the interest of the One Percent. The American people are being driven into the ground purely for the sake of more mega-billions for a handful of super-rich people.

The optimism that I see is that the public’s support of outsiders is an indication that the insouciant public is waking up. But Americans will have to do more than wake up, as they cannot rescue themselves via the voting booth. In my opinion, the American people will remain serfs until they wake up to Revolution.

The optimism that I see is that the public’s support of outsiders is an indication that the insouciant public is waking up. But Americans will have to do more than wake up, as they cannot rescue themselves via the voting booth. In my opinion, the American people will remain serfs until they wake up to Revolution.

We know that Killary is a liar, a crook, an agent for the One Percent, and a warmonger.

Reform or Revolution By Chris Hedges May 23, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Truth Dig"

The political, cultural and judicial system in a capitalist state is centered around the protection of property rights. And, as Adam Smith pointed out, when civil government “is instituted for the security of property, [it] is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” The capitalist system is gamed from the start.

Capitalism searches the globe to exploit cheap, unorganized labor and pillages natural resources. It buys off or overthrows local elites. It blocks the ability of the developing world to become self-sufficient.

Meanwhile, workers in the industrialized world, stripped of well-paying jobs, benefits and legal protections, are pushed into debt peonage, forced to borrow to survive, which further enriches global speculators.

An economy built on credit, Luxemburg foresaw, transforms a regular series of small economic crises into an irregular series of large economic crises—hence two major financial dislocations to the U.S. economy in the early part of the 21st century—the dot-com collapse of 2000 and the global meltdown of 2008. And we are barreling toward another. The end result, at home and abroad, is serfdom.

We who seek to build radical third-party movements must recognize that it is not about taking power now. It is about taking power, at best, a decade from now. Revolutions, Luxemburg reminded us, take time.

In an understanding that eludes many Bernie Sanders supporters, Luxemburg also grasped that socialism and imperialism were incompatible. She would have excoriated Sanders’ ostrichlike refusal to confront American imperialism. Imperialism, she understood, not only empowers a war machine and enriches arms merchants and global capitalists. It is accompanied by a poisonous ideology—what social critic Dwight Mac'ald called the “psychosis of permanent war”—that makes socialism impossible.

The nation, in the name of national security, demands the eradication of civil liberties. It defines dissent as treason. It creates a centralized system of power that ultimately—as has happened in the United States—serves the dictates of empire rather than democracy.

A population finally rises up against a decayed system not because of revolutionary consciousness, but because, as Luxemburg pointed out, it has no other choice. It is the obtuseness of the old regime, not the work of revolutionaries, that triggers revolt.

The consequences of not carrying out a revolution against corporatism are catastrophic. This makes Luxemburg vital. She warns us that in a crisis, the liberal elites become our enemy. She cautions against terror and gratuitous violence. She urges us to maintain open, democratic structures to ensure that power rests with the people. She keeps us focused on the ultimate savagery of capitalism. She understands the danger of imperialism. And she reminds us that those of us committed to socialism, to building a better world, especially for the oppressed, must hold fast to this moral imperative.

Time for Counter-Coups in Latin America? – and Europe? By Peter Koenig May 18, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

What Happens when the accuser of terrorism are themselves the terrorists? – Namely the supra-national corporations and financial oligarchs acting in their own profit-driven interest, but under the direction of Washington and the protection of the US – NATO killer armies? Fear and confusion happens. Fear is the weapon of choice of the real terrorists, those who make us believe they are spreading and defending democracy.

In Brazilian cities millions are in the streets protesting against the illegal takeover of the Presidency in defiance of 54 million voters, by a corrupted parliament, and even worse, by vice-President, Michel Temer, who himself is accused of corruption and who would be ineligible to stand for election for any public office in Brazil during at least the next 8 years; and still worse, Michel Temer, who, as just release by WikiLeaks, has been for years a CIA informant... Temer is ready to sell Brazil to the money vultures, Wall Street, FED, IMF, World Bank and he has ‘promised’ to privatize vital social and public services, so that the oligarchs get richer and the Brazilians have to fight again for their survival.

In Honduras, President Juan Orlando Hernández came to power through a Washington instigated and supported coup in 2009 (now even admitted by Killery) against left-leaning President Zelaya, who was the clear front-runner for the upcoming elections. Under Orlando Hernandez’s tyranny, always protected by Washington, the crime and murder rate, already the highest in Central America, is increasing drastically. Oppression of free speech and political expression is rampant. The environment, natural resources, like forests (illegal logging) and water (privatization), gold and other minerals, is rabidly raped. Environmental protesters are being chased and gunned down.

In Ecuador and Bolivia, destabilizing CIA directed Washington trained groups and ‘NGOs’ are at work, buying support among indigenous people. In Bolivia they are recruiting (‘buying’) ‘street kids’ to form anti-government protest groups to be infiltrated into the heartland of the pluri-national state of Bolivia, comprising some 36 cultures based on the number of indigenous languages.

In the case of Ecuador, the very people made unhappy by Rafael Correa’s concession to oil giants, concessions he had to make under US pressure, are now being ‘destabilized’, mobilized against the government by the CIA and its local handlers.

In Europe, the real terrorists, the Unites States of war Crimes and its vassal, the European Union with its non-transparent sub-layers of corrupt institutions, the so-called, but miss-named European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC – a non-elected dishonest and secretive sub-layer of the EU), the IMF – have wreaked economic and humanitarian havoc in the southern fringe states which they call humiliatingly “PIGS” – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

In Greece people are succumbing to famine, lacking health care and are suffering extreme and seemingly unstoppable plunder of public assets and social services – plunder of Life Capital. People die by the thousands from mal-nutrition, lack of medical attention, and outright famine, all induced by endless and merciless austerity programs imposed by – and seemingly uncontested by the ruling so-called leftwing Syriza party – the inhuman, criminal troika (EC, ECB, IMF) – all driven by the Anglo-Zionist-owned and directed FED and Wall Street. It is amazing how the rest of Europe of this rotten European Union, corrupt to the bones, is just on-looking, hapless and spineless as they are, dreaming that it will never happen to them.

In Spain, the Movement 15 (M15 – a consolidated movement of the ‘indignados’, the ‘outraged’, that started in Madrid on 15 May 2011) celebrated its 5th Anniversary, prompting millions of outraged people to march on 500 cities throughout the world, in a coordinated and solidary effort to fight the neoliberal assault on humanity – an onslaught that uses three types of weapons: tanks and bombs; media lie-propaganda and slander; and financial strangulation and subordination through debt.

The UK – is in a class by itself – with a strong people’s movement towards BREXIT. It reflects the popular discontent with the EU and with PM David Cameron’s submission to the non-transparent rules of the EU and its unelected European Commission. This video http://subterrnews.blogspot.com/2016/05/brexit-movie-full-film.html illustrates fairly well what the EU has promised but is actually doing to the UK; not much different from what the EU technocracy is doing to the rest of Europe.

If the Brits succeed against the will of the Masters in Washington and Brussels to vote for exiting the EU – and if the vote is actually accepted – then dynamics of European discontent may well bring about a collapse of the European Union and its fake, unbacked and unsustainable currency, the euro. That in itself would be an enormous blow to the US empire – a blow it may not survive. The consequences might be tremendous, including a disintegration of NATO which could and might and hopefully would be a death knell for the US hegemon.

This criminal universal onslaught of the US-NATO forces is also engulfing the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe with foreign-bread wars and armed proxy conflicts, causing millions and millions of refugees in the region – refugees that are eventually seeking a new life, of all places, in the countries of their hangmen – Europe. And Europe – still the colonialists of hither-day – rejects them miserably, prevents their entry with walls, yes walls – remember the Berlin Wall? – and barbed wires, chasing them away with tear gas and rubber bullets, mothers with babies and small kids. Some are hurt, some are even killed. The media of course does not report on them. Once they become refugees they are forgotten souls.

NATO, armed to the teeth, despite all the promises to the contrary after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is rapidly expanding eastward, encircling Russia, including occupying Ukraine. Ukraine has been for hundreds of years an integral part of Russia, but it is a crucially strategic and economic piece of land for the West to dominate on its journey towards world hegemony. Therefore, US-NATO instigated a bloody coup in February 2014, installed a Nazi-Government in Kiev, committing heinous war crimes in the eastern 'bass Region of Ukraine – a civil war massacre for which the ruthless west is blaming Russia. Naturally, with accusations fabricated by the bought presstitute media.

Murder Is Washington’s Foreign Policy By Paul Craig Roberts March 04, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

Washington has a long history of massacring people, for example, the destruction of the Plains Indians by the Union war criminals Sherman and Sheridan and the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilian populations, but Washington has progressed from periodic massacres to fulltime massacring. From the Clinton regime forward, massacre of civilians has become a defining characteristic of the United States of America.

Washington is responsible for the destruction of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and part of Syria. Washington has enabled Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen, Ukraine’s attack on its former Russian provinces, and Israel’s destruction of Palestine and the Palestinian people.

The American state’s murderous rampage through the Middle East and North Africa was enabled by the Europeans who provided diplomatic and military cover for Washington’s crimes. Today the Europeans are suffering the consequences as they are over-run by millions of refugees from Washington’s wars.

Mattea Kramer points out that Washington has added to its crimes the mass murder of civilians with drones and missile strikes on weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, medical centers and people’s homes. Nothing can better illustrate the absence of moral integrity and moral conscience of the American state and the population that tolerates it than the cavalier disregard of the thousands of murdered innocents as “collateral damage.”

The US defense establishment can be considered victorious in one sense only: it has conquered and subdued the people of the United States. [Dmitry Orlov]

America’s Role in the Illegal Wildlife Trafficking Trade and How to Stop It America plays a crucial role in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking is one of the most lucrative forms of illegal activity, with an estimated annual global value of $7 billion to $23 billion. The United States is generally accepted as one of the largest consumers of illegal wildlife and wildlife products worldwide. In fact, much of the world’s trade in illegal wildlife is either driven by U.S. consumers or passes through U.S. ports on its way to other destinations.p> We found that meat was by far the type of wildlife product in highest demand. Over 3.3 million pounds of meat was discovered in the ten years of data, mostly mollusk meat. Other products in high demand were fins (1.5 million pounds), medicinal products (889,000), feathers (884,000), and products made from shells (556,000).

Consumer demand remains the most important driver of wildlife trafficking. Thus, raising awareness amongst consumers and even non-consumers is important in helping people wake up to the unpleasant truth: illegal wildlife is offered for sale in the United States. Pointing out wildlife products that are frequently imported illegally helps educate consumers and empower them to ask for documentation before purchasing.

10 New Ways Other Countries Are Actually Solving Problems—and Kicking Our Ass Apparently for some, American exceptionalism means exceptional stupidity.

Here are 10 examples of problems being solved everywhere but in America:

1. Peru: free solar-powered electricity for the poor.

2. Iceland: white-collar criminals go to jail.

3. France: stop throwing away food.

4. Sweden: the six-hour workday.

5. Portugal: decriminalize drugs.

6. Ireland: drug addiction is a health issue.

7. Japan: make children self-sufficient.

8. Sweden (again!): we are all feminists.

9. Israel: water can be managed. [The solution was three-pronged. The government mandated limited use of water, even limiting the length of showers. The limits resulted in cutting water use by one-fifth. Recycling of water became public policy, with more than three-fourths of the country’s wastewater recycled and used for agricultural purposes (compare this with the U.S., which recycles only 1% of its water). The third prong was the construction of desalinization plants, which drew saltwater from the sea and produced drinkable water.]

10. England: Domestic abuse isn’t always physical.

We’re Never Winning These Wars: America Has Zero to Show For Its Decades of Bloodshed in the Middle East Armed conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond hasn't brought anything close to lasting peace. Quite the opposite.

10 Signs That America Is the Most Corrupt Nation

US Military - A Cancer [video]

Class War Films We have one mission: to expose, explain, attack, and dismantle the myth of American Exceptionalism, the mask and disguise of Predatory Capitalism.

President Kennedy and His Brother Were Murdered By The Military-Security Complex By Paul Craig Roberts. February 13, 2016 "Information Clearing House" [Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.]

Presstitute Media, such as the UK Telegraph, spend a lot of energy debunking exposes of government conspiracies. For example, the thousands of highrise architects, structural engineers, physicists, nano-chemists, demoltion experts, first responders, military and civilian pilots, and former government officials who have provided vast evidence that the official story of 9/11 is a made-up fairy tale at odds with all evidence and the laws of physics are dismissed by presstitutes as “conspiracy theorists.” Similarly, those, such as James W. Douglass, who have proven beyond all doubt that President John F. Kennedy was not assassinated by Oswald but by his own paranoid anti-communist military-security complex, are dismissed as conspiracy theorists. The 9/11 Commission Report and the Warren Commission Report were cover-ups. VP Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives he sponsored needed a “new Pearl Harbor” in order to begin their military assaults on the Middle Eastern countries that had independent foreign policies instead of being US/Israeli vassals. 9/11 was their orchestrated “new Pearl Harbor,” and this fact had to be covered up when 9/11 families persisted in their demands for an investigation and could not be bought off for large sums of money. Similarly, the Warren Commission had no choice but to cover up that a popular American president, John F. Kennedy, had been murdered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the Secret Service, because he was believed by paranoid anti-communists to be “soft on communism” and thereby a threat to the security of the United States. The cold war was on, and the Warren Commission could not hold those responsible accountable without destroying the public’s confidence in the American military and security services. Nevertheless everyone aware of the forged case against Oswald knew what had happened. One of these people was Attorney General Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother. This was confirmed to me years ago by a distinguished journalist and documentary film maker who was standing just behind Robert Kennedy when he was shot. He told me that he felt the bullet that hit Kennedy go by his ear and saw its impact. He wrote a full report for the FBI and despite his credentials was never contacted by the investigation. Now, last Wednesday, 48 years later, Paul Shrade has presented ironclad evidence at the parole hearing of the now 71 year old Sirhan Sirhan that Robert Kennedy was shot by someone else from the rear, not from the front where Sirhan Sirhan was standing. You can read Paul Shrade’s statement here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44184.htm Anyone who thinks that democratic governments would not kill their own citizens is uninformed beyond belief. If, dear reader, you are one of these gullible people, please go to the Internet and become familiar, for example, with Operation Northwoods and Operation Gladio. Deep State’s Draconian Measures to Criminalize Citizens By Joachim Hagopian [Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “'’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field with abused youth and adolescents for more than a quarter century. In recent years he has focused on his writing, becoming an alternative media journalist. His blog site is at http://empireexposed.blogspot.co.id/.] January 12, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

A fire in Alaska started by the US military during a live training exercise against the local fire chief’s recommendation and without seeking BLM permission burned over 85,000 acres of federal land, destroyed multiple buildings, caused many residents to evacuate and endangered their health and lives along with millions of dollars’ worth of damage, yet because it was the military at fault, no prosecutions followed.

The far bigger issue here is that since 9/11 Washington has usurped individual citizen rights and nearly overnight turned the government from a once democratic republic into a fascist totalitarian police state and the oppressed, abused American people are fast reaching the breaking point of armed rebellion, all by carefully plotted federalist/globalist design.

The central powers’ sinister game has been to intentionally push fed up Americans over the edge with each passing year its militarized police force continuing to terrorize and murder mounting numbers of unarmed Americans (over a thousand in 2015 alone), launching an all-out war against its own citizens of every political persuasion on both left and right by lumping them together to identify the whole lot as so called “radicalized extremists.”

This long awaited, plotted scenario sets the stage for the next major false flag crisis to break out, giving more than ample enough excuse for the feds to use deadly force to quell the citizen uprising and subsequently spread civil disturbance across the nation in order to declare martial law that will readily pave the way toward one world government and ultimately formalize a New World Order slavery over the entire human species on this planet.

.. the very same international crime cabal led by central banks and a handful of globalist families like the Rothschilds and Rockefellers have been calling the shots causing Western wars at will and controlling Western history for centuries.

Over the last decade the expanding parameters of who gets targeted as “radicalized” has evolved literally into anyone who in any way opposes the federal government tyranny.

Criminalizing citizens can now be applied to homeowners who choose to grow vegetables and fruits on their own front or backyard property or neighbors who elect to collect rainwater with an open barrel. Increasingly it’s unlawful to conserve rainwater collected on your own land for your own personal use even in such drought-stricken Western states as California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Colorado as well as Florida. Or now being a Good Samaritan desiring to feed the homeless in a local public park is becoming a lawbreaker in many municipalities.

One key strategy employed by the ruling elite facilitating totalitarian tyranny can be observed in the unholy union between Big Pharma’s push to manipulate and control psychiatry and the medical establishment by “psychopathologizing” virtually every man, woman and child with some diagnostic label that deems them mentally ill and/or mentally incompetent... another sinister, pathological means of population control...

those of us who still practice critical thinking skills and exhibit nonconforming behavior are increasingly viewed and judged by diagnosticians as mentally ill. “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” is the label attached to anyone who dares to challenge authority or is a free thinker refusing to succumb to the growing pressures to conform to the mindless herd.

To see how far over the edge the populace has become as controlled automatons, look around at any international airport and notice over 90% of the people are all mesmerized by their electronic button-pushing toys. Empirical studies show that such chronic enrapture with radiation spewing, mind control boxes are posing serious health hazards from actually changing the DNA structure and damaging the human brain, drastically reducing male sperm count, to causing rising cancer rates, and in effect dumbing down Americans in both test scores and capacity to think freely and critically. Of course all this is by diabolical grand design too.

drugs are used for sinister social engineering, control purposes, the mental health system as largely practiced in the West has long been an embedded, disgracefully destructive institution. And with Obama’s recent calls for more gun control combined with this fast descending culture of medical tyranny within the totalitarian matrix, all this has frighteningly deep state implications for rampant horror and abuse. Wanton violation of privacy, consent and lack of due process combined with arbitrary misjudgment by an abusive medical-statist authoritarianism smacks of yet more Orwellian nightmare.

When you realize that 70% of US citizens are now regularly drugged, taking highly addictive, potentially lethal prescription medications on a daily basis that merely smother symptoms rarely if ever actually healing the underlying malady’s causes, it’s not surprising that we’re dying younger. To compound the matter, just look at all the slow kill methods the ruling elite has in its ever-expanding arsenal – fluoride, mercury, vaccines, chemtrails, Monsanto’s pervasive glyphosate poisoning and its GMO’s, nutrition-dead processed radiated foods, radiated oceans, the toxic, cumulative buildup that’s been destroying our very living habitat for more than a century

Whenever he fails to gain congressional support as in his OCD gun control obsession, Obama simply makes his own laws which amidst the 2014 Ebola scare outbreak included rounding up of individuals suffering from respiratory ailments. Under Obama’s watch the roundup of the homeless has also begun. His across-the-boards, thinly veiled agenda is again to grant the deep state Luciferian authority to deem anyone mentally unfit, certifiably crazy, deviant, infirm or otherwise undesirable, thus branding virtually anyone and everyone as suitable candidates for institutional lockup at their local FEMA prison camp.

For many decades the ruling elite has been executing a not so secret eugenics plan to drastically reduce the global population by 90% through a WMD arsenal of both hard and soft kill methods. UN Agenda 2030 , UN Agenda 21 and America 2050 all foretell how under the NWO buzzword “sustainability,” deep state (since the US will no longer be a sovereign nation) will herd the diminishing American population into “stack and pack” hi-risers in 11 controlled bicoastal urban living zones and 50% land grab all private property from the vast interior, no longer inhabited designated wilderness sections of North America in order to extract whatever valuable natural resources remain under its topsoil. The one world slave system of absolute control permeates all the UN’s euphemistic lies

While the FDA regularly allows harmful pharmaceuticals on the market before undergoing any rigorous clinical research trials, in effect permitting Big Pharma that owns the FDA a free pass much to public detriment and harm, the absorbent fines, unfair legal regulations that legislators and FDA impose on small health businesses and the perpetual harassment with their criminal Gestapo tactics are designed to eliminate once again consumer choice and any and all Big Pharma competition. But then all of this is simply the heinous machinations of a fascist international crime cabal government in bed with transnational corporations churning out nation-killing TPP and TTIP while dancing to the marching order tunes of the oligarchs. The obvious fast track intent is to destroy America and all national sovereignty globally in order to install its long plotted one world government.

American Empire Exposed

Why WWIII Is On The Horizon By Paul Craig Roberts [Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments.]; December 29, 2015

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave birth to a dangerous American ideology called neoconservativism. The Soviet Union had served as a constraint on US unilateral action. With the removal of this constraint on Washington, neoconservatives declared their agenda of US world hegemony. America was now the “sole superpower,” the “unipower,” that could act without restraint anywhere in the world.

The staggering unipolar power that history has given to Washington has to be protected at all costs. In 1992 top Pentagon official Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz penned the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which became the basis for Washington’s foreign policy.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine states that the “first objective” of American foreign and military policy is “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat [to US unilateral action] on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” (A “hostile power” is a country sufficiently strong to have a foreign policy independent from Washington’s.)..

With this background, we can understand that the dangerous situation facing the world is the product of the neoconservative’s arrogant policy of US world hegemony. The failures of judgment and the dangers in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts are themselves the consequences of the neoconservative ideology...

Russia and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, have been demonized by neoconservatives and their puppets in the US government and media. For example, Hillary Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, declared Putin to be “the new Hitler.” A former CIA official called for Putin’s assassination. Presidential candidates in both parties are competing in terms of who can be the most aggressive toward Russia and the most insulting toward Russia’s president.

The effect has been to destroy the trust between nuclear powers. The Russian government has learned that Washington does not respect Washington’s own laws, much less international law, and that Washington cannot be trusted to keep any agreement. This lack of trust, together with the aggression toward Russia spewing from Washington and the presstitute media and echoing in the idiotic European capitals, has established the ground for nuclear war. As NATO (essentially the US) has no prospect of defeating Russia in conventional war, much less defeating an alliance of Russia and China, war will be nuclear.

The European governments, especially Germany and the UK, are complicit in the move toward nuclear war. These two American vassal states enable Washington’s reckless aggression toward Russia by repeating Washington’s propaganda and supporting Washington’s sanctions and interventions against other countries. As long as Europe remains nothing but an extension of Washington, the prospect of Armeged' will continue to rise.

At this point in time, nuclear war can only be avoided in two ways. One way is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. The other way is for an independent leader in Germany, the UK, or France to rise to office and withdraw from NATO. That would begin a stampede to leave NATO, which is Washington’s prime tool for causing conflict with Russia and, thereby, is the most dangerous force on earth to every European country and to the entire world. If NATO continues to exist, NATO together with the neoconservative ideology of American hegemony will make nuclear war inevitable.

Noam Chomsky: Murder, Theft, Exploitation: How American Imperialism and Neoliberal Economics Conquered Latin America By Noam Chomsky / Haymarket Books December 12, 2015

The following is an excerpt from the book Year 501 by Noam Chomsky, part of a series of twelve new editions of Chomsky's classic works recently published by Haymarket Books:

A novel idea was implemented in Colombia, where security guards of a medical school murdered poor people and sold the bodies to the school for student research; reports indicate that before they were killed, organs that could be sold on the black market were removed.

These practices, however, scarcely make a dent in one of the worst human rights records in the continent, compiled by security forces that have long benefited from US training and supply and have now become one of the hemisphere's top recipients of US military funding. As elsewhere, the main targets for mutilation, torture, and murder are priests, union activists, political leaders and others who try to defend the poor, form cooperatives, or otherwise qualify as "subversives" by interfering with the neoliberal economic model implemented under instructions from the US and the World Bank...

Top 10 Signs the U.S. Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World Posted on Dec 13, 2015 By Juan Cole

Those ratings that castigate Afghanistan and some other poor countries as hopelessly “corrupt” always imply that the United States is not corrupt.

While it is true that you '’t typically have to bribe your postman to deliver the mail in the US, in many key ways America’s political and financial practices make it in absolute terms far more corrupt than the usual global South suspects. After all, the US economy is worth over $16 trillion a year, so in our corruption a lot more money changes hands.

1. The rich are well placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. A nonentity like 'ald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes, and is now trying to buy the presidency. The way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited buying of elections is the height of corruption. Note that despite his supposed “populism,” Trump never talks about the unfairness of our current tax system, instead dividing and ruling working and middle class Americans by stirring racial and religious hatreds.

2. Money and corruption have seeped so far into our media system that people can with a straight face assert that scientists aren’t sure human carbon emissions are causing global warming. Fox Cable News is among the more corrupt institutions in American society, purveying outright lies for the benefit of the billionaire class. The US is so corrupt that it is resisting the obvious urgency to slash carbon production. Even our relatively progressive president talks about exploiting all sources of energy, as though hydrocarbons were just as valuable as green energy and as though hydrocarbons weren’t poisoning the earth.

Even Qatar, its economy based on natural gas, freely admits the challenge of human-induced climate change. American politicians like Jim Inhofe are openly ridiculed when they travel to Europe for their know-nothingism on climate.

3. Instead of having short, publicly-funded political campaigns with limited and/or free advertising (as a number of Western European countries do), the US has long political campaigns in which candidates are dunned big bucks for advertising. They are therefore forced to spend much of their time fundraising, which is to say, seeking bribes. All American politicians are basically on the take... Former House Majority leader John Boehner has actually just handed out cash on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to other representatives.

4. That politicians can be bribed to reduce regulation of industries like banking (what is called “regulatory capture”) means that they will be so bribed. Billions were spent and 3,000 lobbyists employed by bankers to remove cumbersome rules in the zeroes. Thus, political corruption enabled financial corruption (in some cases legalizing it!) Without regulations and government auditing, the finance sector went wild and engaged in corrupt practices that caused the 2008 crash.

5. That the chief villains of the 2008 meltdown (from which 90% of Americans have not recovered) have not been prosecuted is itself a form of corruption.

6. The US military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next twelve major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale.

7. The US has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jail and penitentiary. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system. It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars.

8. The National Security Agency’s domestic spying was a form of corruption in itself, and lends itself to corruption. With some 4 million government employees and private contractors engaged in this surveillance, it is highly unlikely that various forms of insider trading and other corrupt practices are not being committed. If you knew who Warren Buffett and George Soros were calling every day, that alone could make you a killing.

9. As for insider trading, it turns out Congress undid much of the law it hastily passed forbidding members, rather belatedly, to engage in insider trading (buying and selling stock based on their privileged knowledge of future government policy).

10. Asset forfeiture in the ‘drug war’ is corrupting police departments and the judiciary.

So '’t tell the Philippines or the other victims of American corruption how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Capitalism’s Cult of Human Sacrifice Posted on Dec 13, 2015 By Chris Hedges

HOUSTON—Bryan Parras stood in the shadows cast by glaring floodlights ringing the massive white, cylindrical tanks of the Valero oil refinery. He, like many other poor Mexican-Americans who grew up in this part of Houston, struggles with asthma, sore throats, headaches, rashes, nosebleeds and a host of other illnesses and symptoms. The air was heavy with the smell of sulfur and benzene. The faint, acrid taste of a metallic substance was on our tongues. The sprawling refinery emitted a high-pitched electric hum. The periodic roar of flares, red-tongued flames of spent emissions, leapt upward into the Stygian darkness. The refinery seemed to be a living being, a giant, malignant antediluvian deity.

Parras and those who live near him are among the hundreds of millions of human sacrifices that industrial capitalism demands. They are cursed from birth to endure poverty, disease, toxic contamination and, often, early death. They are forced to kneel like bound captives to be slain on the altar of capitalism in the name of progress. They have gone first. We are next. In the late stages of global capitalism, we all will be destroyed in an orgy of mass extermination to satiate corporate greed.

Murder And Mayhem In The Middle East By Chris Martenson. December 06, 2015

To understand what’s happening in Syria right now, you have to understand the tactics and motivations of the US and NATO -- parties sharing interwoven aims and goals in the Middle East/North African (MENA) region.

While the populations of Europe and the US are fed raw propaganda about the regional aims involved, the reality is far different.

Where the propaganda claims that various bad dictators have to be taken out, or that democracy is the goal, neither have anything at all to do with what’s actually happening or has happened in the region.

For starters, we all know that if oil fields were not at stake then the West would care much much less about MENA affairs.

But a lot of outside interests do care. And their aims certainly and largely include controlling the region’s critical energy resources. There’s a lot of concern over whether Russia or China will instead come to dominate these last, best oil reserves on the planet.

Further, we can dispense with the idea that the US and NATO have any interest at all in human rights in this story. If they did, then they’d at least have to admit that their strategies and tactics have unleashed immeasurable suffering, as well as created the conditions for lots more. But it would be silly to try and argue about or understand regional motivations through the lenses of human rights or civilian freedoms -- as neither applies here.

Divide And Conquer

Instead, the policies in the MENA region are rooted in fracturing the region so that it will be easier to control.

But to get a handle on the level of depravity involved, I think it useful to examine what happened in Libya in 2011 when NATO took out Muamar Gaddafi and left the country a broken shell -- as was intended...

Statement and Appeal from the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity The people of Venezuela and its Bolivarian Revolution are in combat against the intense dirty war carried out by the opposition in that country, orchestrated by the regional right, old European right-wingers, and the United States.

The current situation represents a new escalation against the Bolivarian process of Venezuela, promoted by the right allied to the transnational oligarchy. They are preparing a new provocation and interference plans essentially aimed to destroy and eliminate the revolution and therefore the integration and unity of Latin American.

The Parliamentary elections in Venezuela on December 6 will decide the future of the Revolution and at the same time the rest of the progressive countries of Latin America.

The Bolivarian revolution is not alone. It attained the respect and affection of all our peoples under the leadership of the ever-present Commander Hugo Chavez, which President Nicolas Maduro today gives continuity in very difficult conditions.

Ensuring the continuity of the Bolivarian process is of vital importance to the sovereignty of the region, maintain regional integration and curb the hegemonic and subversive campaign that the United States has established for Latin America.

The US Military's Best-kept Secret By Nick Turse. 11/17/15. For years, American military expansion in Africa has gone largely unnoticed, thanks to a deliberate effort to keep the public in the shadows.

See also, David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World.

In the shadows of what was once called the “Dark Continent,” a scramble has come and gone. If you heard nothing about it, that was by design. But look hard enough and—north to south, east to west—you’ll find the fruits of that effort: a network of bases, compounds, and other sites whose sum total exceeds the number of nations on the continent.. ? In remote locales, behind fences and beyond the gaze of prying eyes, the US military has built an extensive archipelago of African outposts, transforming the continent, experts say, into a laboratory for a new kind of war.


US military outposts, port facilities, and other areas of access in Africa, 2002-2015

In the years since, the United States has embarked on nothing short of a building boom—even if the command is loath to refer to it in those terms. As a result, it’s now able to carry out increasing numbers of overt and covert missions, from training exercises to drone assassinations.

“AFRICOM, as a new command, is basically a laboratory for a different kind of warfare and a different way of posturing forces,” says Richard Reeve, the director of the Sustainable Security Programme at the Oxford Research Group, a Lon'-based think tank. “Apart from Djibouti, there’s no significant stockpiling of troops, equipment, or even aircraft. There are a myriad of ‘lily pads’ or small forward operating bases…so you can spread out even a small number of forces over a very large area and concentrate those forces quite quickly when necessary.”

This combination of manpower, access, and technology has come to be known in the military by the moniker “New Normal.”

The camp, which also serves as the forward headquarters for Task Force 48-4, a hush-hush counterterrorism unit targeting militants in East Africa and Yemen, has seen personnel stationed there jump by more than 400 percent since 2002.

In the same period, Camp Lemonnier has expanded from 88 acres to nearly 600 acres and is in the midst of a years-long building boom for which more than $600 million has already been awarded or allocated.

Top 10 Reasons Governors are Wrong to Exclude Syrian Refugees By Juan Cole. November 17, 2015

Some half of US governors have announced their opposition to their states taking in Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks.. anyway, here are the reasons for which these announcements are a form of political hysteria and not grounded in any rational policy considerations:

1. The attackers in Paris were European nationals. The Syrian passport found near one of them was a fake. So are the governors opposed to Belgian immigration into the United States?

2. The attackers were not refugees. They were born in Europe.

3. There is no rational reason to bar Syrian refugees but accept refugees from other conflict areas.

4.These refugees undergo at least 18 months of background checks, contrary to what Sen. Mario Rubio (whose parents were Cuban immigrants to the US) has alleged.

5. The Economist points out that since 2001, the US has admitted roughly 750,000 refugees and none, zero, nada have been accused of involvement in domestic terrorism aimed at the US .

6. The need is urgent. Of the some 22 million Syrians, a good half are homeless. Winter is arriving and the refugees have no proper shelter, clothing or nourishment. The US has to step up in the face of one of the world’s great humanitarian crises.

7. Syrian refugees are not guerrilla fighters or terrorists. They are fleeing the oppression of the Bashar al-Assad government or the brutality of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) or al-Qaeda. They are the victims of America’s enemies.

8. The US owes these refugees. Without the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, there would have been no al-Qaeda in that part of the world, and no al-Qaeda offshoots like Daesh/ ISIL. Why do the governors (most of whom supported the invasion of Iraq) think the US can go around the world sowing instability and being responsible for creating the conditions that lead to millions of refugees but then can avoid the responsibility of ameliorating those broken lives?

9. Some US politicians, such as Ted Cruz, have spoken of taking in only Christian refugees. That step would be unconstitutional. But let’s remember that such a policy would have excluded Albert Einstein from coming to the US in 1933, after the Nazis seized his property in Germany.

10. Cruz’s call for Christian refugees to be given special privileges reminds us of the the racist Chinese Exclusion Act, which derived in part from Christian American dislike of those they called “heathens.” Religion is often an element in the construction of ethnicity, so the privileging of Christianity has a long history of being a stealth form of racism.

Ignorance and Indoctrination of Westerners Kills Millions By Andre Vltchek. November 17, 2015

Our Planet Earth is heading straight towards the most dangerous collision in its history. It is not a collision with some foreign body, with an asteroid or a comet, but with the most brutal and selfish chunk of its own inhabitants: with people who proudly call themselves “members of the Western civilization.”

Again and again it is clearly demonstrated that Western culture, which the paramount psychologist Carl Jung used to call “pathology”, couldn’t be trusted.

This “culture” had already mercilessly slaughtered several hundreds of millions of people in all corners of the world; it enslaved entire continents, and plundered all that had any value, whether it was located above or under the surface of earth.

They also demonstrated utmost ignorance and the highest level of indoctrination!

For centuries, citizens of France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and other Western nations were staring at the battle ships leaving their shores, sailing towards Asia, Latin America and Africa ... Mouths open wide; they were pretending that they did not really know what horrors these ships were going to spread. When the ships returned, packed with slaves and unimaginable booty, they shut down their brains, claimed ignorance once again, attributing thriving of their cities and states to some “Western ingenuity, enterprising spirit and hard work,” but definitely not to terror, rape and appalling plunder of the world.

Throughout the history, holocausts have been performed, again and again, all over Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America, Caribbean, sub-Continent, and Asia Pacific, even in Oceania.

The Westerners never lifted a finger to stop crimes that their states have been committing! As long as they were getting fat, why should they? Their servile and cowardly intellectuals are still refusing, with some tiny exceptions that do not constitute even 1 percent, to depict gruesome destruction, humiliation and torment of “the others”.

Christianity (even its non-religious forms called “secularism” or “atheism”) has been spreading intolerance, bigoted dogmas, exclusivism and complexes of superiority. It offered justification; it even inspired the crusades, colonial expansionism, mass murder as well as destruction of entire local cultures.

And yet, the same bandit nations, the same cowardly but sadistic culture, the same perverse religion, are still clinging to power, still torturing and murdering the millions.

War after war, genocide after genocide, the Westerners are still playing dumb! They refuse to acknowledge whet they are doing to the world.

When over 100 French people died during a bizarre recent string of attacks in Paris (who was behind them? West’s allies - jihadists, or maybe their own establishment?), Europeans began mourning their own victims – and pointing fingers at “the others”. People all over the world, either too scared to say “no” or too brainwashed as well, began expressing solidarity with the French nation.

After all, refugees were only escaping their countries that were ruined and plundered by both Europe and the United States!

But this is not how a common European was instructed to see the world.

The common European and North American is much more submissive to the regime, than a common inhabitant of any other part of the world. He or she learns what is required to be learned, listens attentively what the media/propaganda people digest and serve. Debates are almost always within the permitted framework.

The dumber they, the Westerners, are, the more self-assured and arrogant their worldview. You see people like this in a pub, but you also see them controlling all international organizations, even the UN agencies. Those big, beefy, tall Germans, Scandinavians, North Americans, Brits - speaking with air of a stone superiority to those “agile Asians, clumsy Africans and insecure Arabs”!

No apologies, no remorse, no grand plan for how to reverse the flow, how to return at least some part of what had been stolen and how to stop murdering.

Yes, over 100 people died in Paris. Right before that, almost 50 died in Beirut, Lebanon. While thousands are dying in Yemen, every month... While 17,000 already vanished in Iran – victims of West-sponsored terrorism... While hundreds of thousands have been dying in Libya and Syria... While millions have been dying in Somalia and Iraq... While some 10 millions already died in a looted and raped DRC (the Democratic Republic of Congo) … All of them victims of Western assaults and banditry or of Western-sponsored terrorism directly!

Can this planet be entrusted to those who watch crap on their television screens, day after day – both Hollywood propaganda production, and news propaganda briefings?

Can anything that comes from the West be taken seriously, after centuries of lies and murder?

Who is killing whom, lately? Who is behind what?

Ex-World Bank chief economist exposes “failure” of austerity, deregulation Nafeez Ahmed. Joseph Stiglitz, a senior OECD expert, slams OECD’s own policies to prevent global slowdown

In a little-known speech at the United Nations University, renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz criticised Western approaches to addressing the global economic crisis for being obsessed with market solutions that cannot work.

Describing standard neoclassical and behavioural models of economics as “wrong” on the basis of new advances in economic research, Stiglitz blamed ongoing economic stagnation on the so-called “Washington Consensus”?—?a set of neoliberal policies advocated most strongly by the US and Britain.

The Washington Consensus (WC) consists of a string of interlinked policies requiring reductions in public spending; rampant deregulation to reduce restrictions on banks, corporations and other financial actors; extensive privatisation of social and public services; and liberalisation based on reducing taxes, tariffs and non-tarrif barriers to trade.

All this is believed to drive growth and enhance the distribution of wealth.

In reality, as Stiglitz told an audience at the UN University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research, it has 'e the opposite.

“War Is a Racket” James Albertini – TRANSCEND Media Service. 19 Oct. 2015

The U.S. military receives more funding than the rest of the 10 largest militaries in the world combined (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, U.K., France, Japan, India, Germany & South Korea): $1.3 trillion dollars per year.

These figures do not include additional military-related spending by the VA, CIA, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice or State Departments, nor interest payments on past military spending, which combine to raise the true cost of U.S. militarism to about $1.3 trillion per year, or one thirteenth of the U.S. economy.

War Is A Crime: Record U.S. Military Budget

Syria

That the United States got involved in Syria in 2006 is revealed in WikiLeaks. That the Pentagon was intent on overthrowing the Syrian government in 2001 is revealed by the 'ald Rumsfeld memo shown to Wesley Clark, and by Tony Blair in 2010.

That misdirection also facilitates leaving out of the story the U.S. brushing aside of a peace process proposed by Russia in 2012.

Quoting Obama on a 2013 proposal for a "targeted military strike" blatantly avoids Seymour Hersh's report on the massive bombing campaign Obama had planned.

At least as early as 2001, the United States had the Syrian government on a list of governments targeted for overthrow.

In 2003, the United States threw the Middle East into a whole new sort of turmoil with its invasion of Iraq. It created sectarian divisions, and fueled and armed and facilitated the organization of violent groups.

At least as early as 2006, the United States had people in Syria working for the overthrow of the government.

The U.S. response to the Arab Spring, and the U.S.-led overthrow of the Libyan government made matters worse. ISIS was developing long before it burst into the news, its leaders organizing in U.S. prison camps in Iraq. The region was heavily armed with weapons from outside the region, primarily from the United States.

In 2012, Russia proposed a peace-process that would have included President Bashar al-Assad stepping down, but the U.S. brushed the idea aside without any serious consideration, suffering under the delusion that Assad would be violently overthrown very soon, and preferring a violent solution as more likely to remove the Russian influence and military -- and perhaps also due to the general U.S. preference for violence driven by its weapons industry corruption.

Seymour Hersh would later reveal that the U.S. plan had been for a massive bombing campaign. And Robert Parry, among others, would report on the debunking of White House lies about the chemical weapons attack. While Syria might have been guilty, the White House almost certainly did not know that, and the U.S. public seemed to recognize that even such guilt would not justify entering the war.

What compelled Obama to accept diplomacy as the last resort in 2013 was the public's and Congress's refusal to allow war. But Obama went right on arming and training fighters in the Syrian war, and sending more troops back into Iraq.

When ISIS burst onto the scene it openly begged the United States to attack it, viewing this as a huge recruitment opportunity. The United States obliged, attacking ISIS from the air in Iraq and Syria (and getting numerous allies to do so as well), in addition to continuing its arming and training operations -- now supposedly aimed at both ISIS and Assad. ISIS thrived, as did various anti-Asad groups. Turkey joined in by attacking Kurds rather than ISIS or Assad. Russia joined in by bombing ISIS and anti-government groups in Syria. This dangerously increased already high tension between Russia and the United States, as Russia intends to keep the Syrian government from being overthrown, and the United States intends to overthrow it

Mass Killing is the American Way What Obama and others in the Washington political establishment appear oblivious to is the profound nature of state violence in the US. America is a state whose official use of mass violence is endemic. The heinous targeting of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, is testament to that.

However, what about the thousands of innocent people who are killed each year around the world from American warplanes and aerial drones? In the bombing of the Kunduz hospital by US forces this week, the medical staff said they had repeatedly phoned through to the American military to tell them that the hospital had been hit. But the air strikes continued for another 30 minutes, repeatedly. The United Nations has since condemned the attack as a war crime.

Obama has previously even bragged that his military forces have bombed seven countries since he took office. They include Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya where American military have killed tens of thousands of civilians in a so-called “war on terror” over the past 14 years.

Obama has arrogated the executive power to draw up assassination targets in any part of the world. Under his orders and without any judicial oversight, US drones have killed hundreds of terror “suspects” in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Many of the victims have been later found to be innocent civilians.

Chris Hedges: What It Means to Be a Socialist Chris Hedges gave this speech Sunday at a Santa Ana, Calif., event sponsored by the Green Party of Orange County.

We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources, exploits cheap, unorganized labor and creates pliable, corrupt governments that aban' the common good to serve corporate profit.

The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.

We will, as Friedrich Engels wrote, make a transition to either socialism or barbarism. If we do not dismantle global capitalism we will descend into the Hobbesian chaos of failed states, mass migrations—which we are already witnessing—and endless war. Populations, especially in the global South, will endure misery and high mortality rates caused by collapsing ecosystems and infrastructures on a scale not seen since perhaps the black plague. There can be no accommodation with global capitalism. We will overthrow this system or be crushed by it. And at this moment of crisis we need to remind ourselves what being a socialist means and what it does not mean.

First and foremost, all socialists are unequivocal anti-militarists and anti-imperialists. They understand that there is no genuine social, political, economic or cultural reform as long as the militarists and their corporatist allies in the war industry continue to loot and pillage the state budget, leaving the poor to go hungry, workingmen and -women in distress, the infrastructure to collapse and social services to be slashed in the name of austerity.

The psychosis of permanent war, which infected the body politic after World War I with the internal and external war on communism, and which today has mutated into the war on terror, is used by the state to strip us of civil liberties, redirect our resources to the war machine and criminalize democratic dissent.

We have squandered trillions of dollars and resources in endless and futile wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East, at a time of ecological and fiscal crisis. The folly of endless war is one of the signs of a dying civilization. One F-22 Raptor fighter plane costs $350 million. We have 187 of them. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.41 million. We fired 161 of them when we attacked Libya. This missile attack on Libya alone cost us a quarter of a billion dollars. We spend an estimated $1.7 trillion a year on war, far more than the official 54 percent of discretionary spending, or roughly $600 billion. If we '’t break the back of the war machine, profound change will be impossible.

The human cost has been horrendous. Over 1 million dead in Iraq. Millions more are displaced or are refugees. Iraq will never be reconstituted as a unified state. And it was our war industry that created the mess. We attacked a country that did not threaten us, and had no intention of threatening its neighbors, and destroyed one of the most modern infrastructures in the Middle East. We brought not only terror and death—including the Shiite death squads we armed and trained—but power outages, food shortages and the collapse of basic services, from garbage collection to sewer and water treatment. We dismantled Iraq’s institutions, disbanded its security forces, threw its health service into crisis and engineered massive poverty and unemployment. And out of the chaos rose insurgents, gangsters, kidnapping rings, jihadists and rogue paramilitary groups—including our hired mercenaries, like [the current army of] Iraq.

Foreign battlefields are laboratories for the architects of industrial slaughter. They perfect the tools of control and annihilation on the demonized and the destitute. But these tools eventually make their way back to the heart of empire. As the corporatists and the militarists disembowel the nation, rendering our manufacturing centers boarded-up wastelands and tossing our citizens into poverty and despair, the methods of subjugation familiar to those on the outer reaches migrate back to us—wholesale surveillance, indiscriminate use of lethal force in the streets of our cities against unarmed citizens, a stripping away of our civil liberties, a dysfunctional court system, drones, arbitrary arrest, detention and mass incarceration.

Democracy is snuffed out. As the German socialist Karl Liebknecht said during the First World War: “The main enemy is at home.” We will destroy the engines of endless war and shut down the war profiteers or we will become the next victims; indeed many in our marginal communities already are its victims.

You cannot be a socialist and an imperialist. You cannot, as Bernie Sanders has 'e, support the Obama administration’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and be a socialist. You cannot, as Sanders has 'e, vote for every military appropriations bill, including every bill and resolution that empowers and sanctions Israel to carry out its slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, and be a socialist. And you cannot laud, as Sanders has 'e, military contractors because they bring jobs to your state. Sanders may have the rhetoric of inequality down, but he is a full-fledged member of the Democratic Caucus, which kneels before the war industry and their lobbyists. And no genuine grass-roots movement will ever be born within the bowels of the Democratic Party establishment, which is currently attempting to shut down Sanders to make sure its anointed candidate is the nominee. No elected official dares to challenge any weapons system, no matter how costly or redundant. And Sanders, who votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time, steers clear of confronting the master of war.

There is a reason no establishment politician, including Sanders, dares say a word against the war industry. If you do, you end up like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political wilderness. Nader was not afraid to speak this truth. And it is in the wilderness, I am afraid, that real socialists must for the moment reside. Socialists understand that if we do not dismantle the war industry, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change; indeed, things will only get worse.

War is a business. Imperial wars seize natural resources on behalf of corporations and ensure the profits of the arms industry. This is as true in Iraq as it was in our campaigns of genocide against Native Americans. And, as A. Philip Randolph said, it is only when it is impossible to profit from war that wars will be dramatically curtailed, if not stopped.

War, wrapped in the cant of nationalism and the euphoria that comes with the giddy celebration of power and violence, is used by ruling elites to thwart and destroy the aspirations of workingmen and -women and distract us from our disempowerment.

Eugene V. Debs--“I have been accused of obstructing the war,” Debs said in court. “I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.”

Debs, who would spend 32 months in prison, until 1921, also delivered to many a socialist credo at his sentencing after being found guilty of violating the Espionage Act:

“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

The redirecting of national frustrations and emotions into the struggle against a common enemy, the cant of patriotism, the endemic racism that is the fuel of all ideologies that sustain war, the false bonding that comes with the sense of comradeship, seduces those on the margins of society. They feel in wartime that they belong. They feel they have a place. They are offered the chance to be heroes. And off they march like sheep to the slaughter. By the time they find out, it is too late.

“War,” as Randolph Bourne wrote, “is the health of the state.” It allows the state to accrue to itself power and resources that in peacetime a citizenry would never permit. And that is why the war state, like the one we live in, has to make certain that we are always afraid.

The manufacturing of weapons systems and the waging of war is today the chief activity of the state. It is no longer one among other means of advancing the national interest, as Simone Weil pointed out, but has become the sole national interest.

The radicals, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or Wobblies, founded by Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood in 1905, were destroyed by the state. Department of Justice agents in 1912 made simultaneous raids on 48 IWW meeting halls across the country and arrested 165 IWW union leaders. One hundred one went to trial, including Big Bill Haywood, who testified for three days. One of the IWW leaders told the court:

"This war is a business man’s war and we '’t see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we now enjoy."

The Wobblies once led strikes involving hundreds of thousands of workers and preached an uncompromising doctrine of class warfare. It went the way of the passenger pigeon. The Socialist Party by 1912 had 126,000 members, 1,200 officeholders in 340 municipalities, and 29 English and 22 foreign-language weeklies, along with three English and six foreign-language dailies. It included in its ranks tenant farmers, garment workers, railroad workers, coal miners, hotel and restaurant workers, dock workers and lumberjacks. It too was liquidated by the state. Socialist leaders were jailed or deported. Socialist publications such as The Masses and Appeal to Reason were banned. The assault, aided later by McCarthyism, has left us without the vocabulary to make sense of our own reality, to describe the class war being waged against us by our corporate oligarchs.

We will regain this militancy, this uncompromising commitment to socialism, or the system the political philosopher Shel' Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism” will establish the most efficient security and surveillance state in human history and a species of neofeudalism. We must stop pouring our energy into mainstream political campaigns. The game is rigged.

We will rebuild our radical movements or become hostages to the capitalists and the war industry. Fear is the only language the power elite understands. This is a dark fact of human nature. It is why Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. Nixon was not a liberal [personally]. He was devoid of empathy and lacked a conscience. But he was frightened of movements. You do not make your enemy afraid by selling out. You make your enemy afraid by refusing to submit, by fighting for your vision and by organizing. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to build movements to keep power in check. Without these movements nothing is possible.

“You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it,” Malcolm X said. “When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a ‘crazy Negro,’ or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger”—they '’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red, or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom."

The New Deal—which as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a charter member of the oligarchic class, said—saved capitalism, was put in place because socialists were strong and a serious threat. The oligarchs understood that with the breakdown of capitalism—something I expect we will again witness in our lifetimes—there was a real possibility of a socialist revolution. They were terrified they would lose their wealth and power.

In other words, Roosevelt went to his fellow oligarchs and said hand over some of your money or you will lose all your money in a revolution. And his fellow capitalists complied. And that is how the government created 15 million jobs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and public works projects. The capitalists did not do this because the suffering of the masses moved them. They did this because they were scared. And they were scared of radicals and socialists.

George Bernard Shaw got it right in his play “Major Barbara.” The greatest crime is poverty. It is the crime every socialist is dedicated to eradicating.

We must stop looking for our salvation in strong leaders. Strong people, as Ella Baker said, do not need strong leaders. Politicians, even good politicians, play the game of compromise and are too often seduced by the privileges of power. Sanders, from all I can tell, began his political life as a socialist in the 1960s when this was hardly a bold political statement, but quickly figured out he was not going to have a seat at the table if he remained one. He wants his seniority in the Senate. He wants his committee chairmanships. He wants his ability to retain his seat unchallenged. This was no doubt politically astute. But in this process he sold us out.

Integrity and courage are powerful weapons. We have to learn how to use them. We have to stand up for what we believe in. And we have to accept the risks and even the ridicule that comes with this stance. We will not prevail any other way.

As a socialist I am not concerned with what is expedient or what is popular. I am concerned with what is right. I am concerned with holding fast to the core ideals of socialism, if for no other reason than keeping this option alive for future generations. And these ideals are the only ones that make possible a better world.

If you will not call for an arms embargo along with the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, you are not a socialist. If you will not demand we dismantle our military establishment, which is managing the government’s wholesale surveillance of every citizen and storing all our personal information in perpetuity in government computer banks, and if you will not abolish the for-profit arms industry, you are not a socialist.

If you will not call for the prosecution of those leaders, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who engage in aggressive acts of pre-emptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act, you are not a socialist. If you will not stand with the oppressed across the globe you are not a socialist.

Socialists do not pick and choose whom among the oppressed it is convenient to support. Socialists understand that you stand with all the oppressed or none of the oppressed, that this is a global fight for life against global corporate tyranny. We will win only when we stand together, when we see the struggle of workingmen in Greece, Spain and Egypt as our own struggle.

If you will not call for full employment and unionized workplaces you are not a socialist. If you will not call for inexpensive mass transit, especially in impoverished communities, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for universal, single-payer health care and a banning of for-profit health care corporations you are not a socialist. If you will not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour you are not a socialist.

If you are not willing to provide a weekly income of $600 to the unemployed, the disabled, stay-at-home parents, the elderly and those unable to work you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal anti-union laws, like the Taft-Hartley Act, and trade agreements from NAFTA to the TPP and CAFTA, you are not a socialist. If you will not guarantee all Americans a pension in old age you are not a socialist.

If you will not support two years of paid maternity leave, as well as shorter workweeks with no loss in pay and benefits, you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal the Patriot Act and Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act as well as halt government spying on citizens, along with mass incarceration, you are not a socialist.

If you will not put into place laws that prohibit all forms of male violence against women and criminalize the trafficking and pimping out of prostituted girls and women, while not criminalizing the exploited girls and women, you are not a socialist. If you do not support a woman’s right to control her own body you are not a socialist. If you do not support full equality for our GBLT community you are not a socialist.

If you will not declare global warming a national and global emergency and divert our energy and resources to saving the planet through public investment in renewable energy and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels you are not a socialist. If you will not nationalize public utilities, including the railroads, energy companies and banks, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government funding for the arts and public broadcasting to create places where creativity, self-expression and voices of dissent can be heard and seen you are not a socialist.

If you will not terminate our nuclear weapons programs and build a nuclear-free world you are not a socialist. If you will not demilitarize our police, meaning that police no longer carry weapons when they patrol our streets but rely on specialized armed units that have to be authorized case-by-case to use lethal force, you are not a socialist.

If you will not support government training and rehabilitation programs for the poor and those in our prisons, along with the abolition of the death penalty, you are not a socialist.

If you will not grant full citizenship to undocumented workers you are not a socialist. If you do not declare a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions you are not a socialist.

If you will not provide free education from day care to university, and forgive all student debt, you are not a socialist. And if you will not provide free, state-run mental health care, especially for those now caged in our prisons, you are not a socialist. If you will not dismantle our empire and bring our soldiers and Marines home you are not a socialist.

Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit. And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth.

I am not naive about the forces arrayed against us. I understand the difficulty of our struggle. But we will never succeed if we attempt to accommodate the current structures of power. Our strength lies in our steadfastness and our integrity. It lies in our ability to hold fast to our ideals, as well as our willingness to sacrifice for those ideals. We must refuse to cooperate.... We must rebel.

I cannot promise you we will win. I cannot promise you we will even survive as a species. But I can promise you that an open and sustained defiance of global capitalism and the merchants of death, along with the building of a socialist movement, is our only hope. I am a parent, as are many of you. We have betrayed our children. We have squandered their future. And if we rise up, even if we fail, future generations, and especially those who are most precious to us, will be able to say we tried, that we stood up and fought for life. The call to resistance, which will require civil disobedience and jail time, is finally a call to the moral life. Resistance is not about what we achieve, but about what it allows us to become. In the end, I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

A combination of imperial hubris and ignorance has led Washington to believe it could overthrow any government that was disobedient or uncooperative.

President Bashar Assad Is No Great Satan The Syrian war began almost five years ago by the US, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Syria’s Iranian and Russian-backed government. The result so far: 250,000 dead, 9.5 million refugees flooding Europe and Syria shattered.

This is nothing new: the first CIA coup attempt to overthrow a Syrian ruler Gen. Husni Zaim was in 1949.

A combination of imperial hubris and ignorance has led Washington to believe it could overthrow any government that was disobedient or uncooperative. Syria was chosen as the latest target of regime change because the Assad regime – a recognized, legitimate government and UN member –was a close ally of America’s Great Satan, Iran.

A highly effective propaganda war waged against Syria and Russia by the US, French and British media has so demonized Syria’s President Assad that Washington will find it very difficult to negotiate or include him in a peace deal. The US made the same stupid mistake with Afghanistan’s Taliban and now is paying the price.

President Bashar Assad is no Great Satan. He was a British-trained eye specialist forced into the dynastic leadership of Syria by the car crash that killed his elder brother. The Assad regime has plenty of nasty officials but in my long regional experience Syria is no worse than such brutal US allies as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco or Uzbekistan.

Vlad Putin keeps his game tightly under control. I’m not so sure about the Obama White House and its confused advisors. Better make a deal with Assad, a natural US ally, and end this crazy war before Sen. John McCain and his Republican crusader pals really do start World War III.

Washington refuses Russia any legitimate sphere of influence in Syria, though Moscow has had a small base in Tartus on the coast for over 40 years. This Russian logistics base is now being expanded and guarded by a ground force estimated at a reinforced company.

Howls of protest are coming from Washington and its allies over Russia’s military intervention. '’t we hate it when others do exactly what we do. The US has over 800 bases around the globe. French troops operate in parts of Africa. Both nations stage military interventions when they see fit.

Video: The Truth About Refugees

A Refugee Crisis Made in America Will the U.S. accept responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of Washington-manufactured wars?

I thought to myself, “What kind of monsters have we become.” And in truth we had become monsters. Bipartisan monsters wrapped in the American flag. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said that killing 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions was “worth it.” She is now a respected elder statesman close to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Overwhelmed by thousands of would-be travelers, Hungary suspended train service heading towards Western Europe while countries like Serbia and Mace'ia deployed their military and police along their borders in a failed attempt to completely block refugees. Italy and Greece have been overwhelmed by migrants arriving by sea. Germany, to its credit, is intending to process up to 800,000 refugee and asylum applications, mostly from Syria, while Austria and Sweden have also indicated their willingness to accept many more. Immediate neighbors of the zone of conflict, notably Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are hosting more than three million of those who are displaced, but the wealthy Arab Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia have 'e little or nothing to help.

Many of the would-be migrants are young men looking for work in Europe, a traditional enterprise, but most of the new arrivals are families escaping the horrors of war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Their plight has been described in the media in graphic terms, families arriving with nothing and expecting nothing, fleeing even worse conditions back at home.

The United States has taken in only a small number of the refugees and a usually voluble White House has been uncharacteristically quiet about the problem, possibly realizing that allowing in a lot of displaced foreigners at a time when there is an increasingly heated debate over immigration policy in general just might not be a good move, politically speaking. But it should perhaps be paying some attention to what caused the problem in the first place, a bit of introspection that is largely lacking both from the mainstream media and from politicians.

Indeed, I would assign to Washington most of the blame for what is happening right now. Since folks inside the beltway are particularly given to making judgements based on numerical data they might be interested in the toll exacted through America’s global war on terror. By one not unreasonable estimate, as many as four million Muslims have died or been killed as a result of the ongoing conflicts that Washington has either initiated or been party to since 2001.

Significantly, the countries that have generated most of the refugees are all places where the United States has invaded, overthrown governments, supported insurgencies, or intervened in a civil war. The invasion of Iraq created a power vacuum that has empowered terrorism in the Arab heartland. Supporting rebels in Syria has piled Pelion on Ossa. Afghanistan continues to bleed 14 years after the United States arrived and decided to create a democracy. Libya, which was relatively stable when the U.S. and its allies intervened, is now in chaos, with its disorder spilling over into sub-Saharan Africa.

Though I recognize that the refugee problem cannot be completely blamed on only one party, many of those millions would be alive and the refugees would for the most part be in their homes if it had not been for the catastrophic interventionist policies pursued by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the United States.

It is perhaps past time for Washington to begin to become accountable for what it does. The millions of people living rough or in tents, if they are lucky, need help and it is not satisfactory for the White House to continue with its silence, a posture that suggests that the refugees are somehow somebody else’s problem. They are, in fact, our problem. A modicum of honesty from President Barack Obama would be appreciated, perhaps an admission that things have not exactly worked out as planned by his administration and that of his predecessor. And money is needed. Washington throws billions of dollars to fight wars it doesn’t have to fight and to prop up feckless allies worldwide. For a change it might be refreshing to see tax money doing some good, working with the most affected states in the Middle East and Europe to resettle the homeless and making an honest effort to come to negotiated settlements to end the fighting in Syria and Yemen, both of which can only have unspeakably bad outcomes if they continue on their current trajectories.

Cuba's health system Cuba, a country of 11 million people, has achieved health outcomes that are the envy of the Third World. It has one of the lowest infant and young child (under age 5) mortality rates and longest life expectancies in the Americas, outperforming the U.S. on all three of these indicators[6] (although the maternal mortality rate is still considerably higher than that in rich countries[7]). This year, Cuba also became the first nation in the world that, according to the World Health Organization, had eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.[8] How has a Third World country, subjected to decades of economic sanctions, accomplished this?

Part of the answer lies in the post-revolutionary government’s establishment of a comprehensive, universal health care system — structured around primary and preventive care — with a network of physicians, nurses and home health workers generally living in the same community as their patients.

To ensure adequate staffing for this initiative, the government invested heavily in medical education, which resulted in Cuba having nearly three times as many physicians per capita as the U.S.[10] This also enabled the country to send a self-reported total of 130,000 of its own health professionals to provide low- or no-cost medical care to patients in other Third World countries, with nearly 37,000 working in 70 countries as of 2008.[11] Cuba was among the first to respond to the past year’s Ebola epidemic, sending more doctors to Sierra Leone than any country besides Great Britain.

The country’s universal vaccination programs eradicated many previously commonplace childhood and tropical diseases, including polio, measles and diphtheria.[13] Many of the vaccines, as well as other medications, are manufactured by a domestic pharmaceutical industry that was developed, in part, in response to the U.S. embargo. This biotechnology sector employs about 10,000 people and manufactures most of the medicines used in the country, including 33 vaccines, 33 cancer drugs, 18 drugs to treat cardiovascular disease and seven drugs for other diseases.[14],[15] At one point, Cuba was the leading provider of pharmaceuticals to Latin America and also supplied medicines to several Asian countries.[16] Its medical infrastructure is also relatively advanced, with 22 medical campuses and academic journals in all of the major medical specialties.

Much of the progress made in improving the well-being of the Cuban population also traces back to policies independent of the health care sector, including universal education, guaranteed nutrition, clean drinking water and modern sanitation.[18] Perhaps more important were the Cuban government’s egalitarian economic policies that dramatically reduced the wealth inequalities that had existed prior to the revolution.[19] An extensive body of research shows that income inequality is closely associated with, and likely a critical determinant of, population health, and Cuba is no exception.

What makes Cuba’s health advancements all the more remarkable is that they were achieved under more than five decades of a stifling economic embargo. In 1962, three years after the Cuban revolution, the U.S. instituted the embargo to cripple Cuba’s economy,[21] in the hope that the pain inflicted on the Cuban people would spur them to overthrow the government. (The embargo was just one of several methods employed by the U.S. to do away with the Cuban government; see text box below for more details.)

In a comprehensive 1997 report documenting the impact of the U.S. embargo of Cuba, the American Association for World Health (AAWH) observed that it was “one of the few embargoes of recent years … that explicitly include[d] foods and medicines in its virtual ban on bilateral commercial ties.”[22] The report found that the tightening of the embargo during the 1990s had resulted in shortages of drugs, water treatment supplies and food, leading to malnutrition and waterborne diseases, among other problems.[23] The AAWH concluded that “[a] humanitarian catastrophe [resulting from the embargo] has been averted only because the Cuban government has maintained a high level of budgetary support for a health care system designed to deliver primary and preventive health care to all of its citizens.”

Amnesty International followed the AAWH report with its own 2009 analysis of how the embargo had affected the “economic and social rights” of the Cuban people.[25] The report documented numerous instances in which Cuba was unable to import a range of medical supplies, including HIV and psychiatric medicines, vaccines and syringes, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, condoms, and pediatric nutritional products.

The U.S. has long been isolated from the rest of the world on its policy towards Cuba. Every year since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly (188-2 was last year’s tally) in favor of a resolution calling on the U.S. to end the embargo.[27] Nevertheless, The New York Times claimed in an editorial last year that it was not the U.S. but Cuba that suffered from a “beleaguered international standing.”

Puerto Rico: a US debt colony hounded by hedge funds On August 1 [2015], Puerto Rico defaulted on part of its enormous $72 billion debt, paying back only $628,000 on a $58 million loan that was due at the start of the month. The default, which marks the most serious credit event in US state and municipal bond markets since the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013, has led many to draw obvious comparisons to Greece – and understandably so.

Like Greece, Puerto Rico has been mired in a protracted recession that has seen unemployment rise, living standards fall and countless people leave their homeland in search of better life opportunities abroad. Like Greece, Puerto Rico is buckling under an unsustainable debt load that its leaders claim “cannot be paid.” And like Greece, Puerto Rico is effectively a ward of the larger union of which it is a part: Greece of the Eurozone and Puerto Rico of the United States.

But for all these obvious similarities, there is one puzzling difference: while Puerto Rico was allowed to default on its debts without drawing much ire – or interest – from the US government, Greece has not been able to do the same. Why was Puerto Rico allowed to default while Greece was not? The answer is simple: first follow the rules, then follow the money – and you will see.

When it comes to the rules, part of the answer surely lies in the peculiar institutional arrangement Puerto Rico finds itself in. As a commonwealth – or a de facto colony – of the United States, Puerto Rico and its public corporations can neither turn to the IMF for a bailout loan, as nominally “sovereign” nations like Greece and Portugal have 'e in recent years, nor file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the US, as state municipalities like Detroit and Stockton, CA. have...

What most Puerto Rican savers and pensioners did not know was that their island’s awkward legal status under US law had allowed the big players on Wall Street to effectively turn their homeland into a casino. Because Puerto Rico’s government was in dire need of external financing, and because its public bonds are governed by a so-called “triple-exemption rule” that makes interest paid on them free of all city, state and federal taxes in the mainland United States, the banks saw a potential boom market...

Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, and many others rushed to underwrite massive loans in the form of bond purchases in order to then turn around and sell those bonds to hedge funds and other investors in the US and around the world, thereby raking in tremendous profits on the underwriting fees.

10 Things Europe Does Way Better Than America Europe is way ahead of the United States. From health care to civil liberties to sexual attitudes, one can make a strong case for “European exceptionalism.”

1. Lower Incarceration Rates--Benjamin Franklin famously said that those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

2. Less Violent Crime Than the U.S.--in 2012, the U.S. had a homicide rate of 4.8 per 100,000 people compared to only 0.3 per 100,000 in Iceland, 0.7 per 100,000 in Sweden, 0.8 per 100,000 in Denmark and Spain, 0.9 per 100,000 in Italy, Austria and the Netherlands, 1.0 per 100,000 in France, and 1.2 per 100,000 in Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.

3. Better Sex Education Programs, Healthier Sexual Attitudes--European countries with comprehensive sex-ed programs and liberal sexual attitudes actually have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

4. Anti-GMO Movement Much More Widespread--in Europe, GMO restrictions are much more widespread. France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Greece are among the countries that have either total or partial bans on GMOs. And in Italy, 16 of the country’s 20 regions have declared themselves to be GMO-free when it comes to agriculture.

5. Saner Approaches to Abortion-- in many European countries, most politicians are smart enough to share Bill Clinton’s view that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” And the ironic thing is that European countries that tend to be sexually liberal also tend to have lower abortion rates.

6. More Vacation Time-- the U.S. has no federal law mandating any time off. And that’s quite a contrast to Europe: CEPR reported that government-mandated paid vacation time in Europe includes 35 days off in Austria, 31 days off in Italy and France, 34 days off in Germany and Spain, 30 days off in Belgium and 29 days off in the Republic of Ireland.

7. Universal Healthcare--every developed country in Western Europe has universal health care.

8. Greater Life Expectancy-- in McDowell County [Virginia], the average male dies 18 years younger than the average male in Switzerland.

9. Mass Transit Systems--Europe, however, has some of the best, most extensive public transportation systems in the world. And there are many advantages to that: less congestion, reduced air pollution, health benefits (walking is great exercise), a vibrant street scene/sidewalk culture and more productivity in the workplace, and reduces the no. of DUIs.

10. Europeans More Likely to Speak Foreign Languages--[Americans are provincial, narrow minded, and stupid.]

And, that is not including free higher education.

US Weapons Exporters Lead World in War Profiteering finds that the United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide... in 2014, global "defense" trade surpassed $64.4 billion

The Shocking Tax Loophole for Corporations that Commit Crimes This is how taxpayers end up subsidizing corporate criminals. Jim Hightower

Video: 9/11 Exposed - 2nd Edition (2015) Full Documentary Film

A Quaker Perspective on the Possibility of U.S. Strikes in Syria the Quaker testimonies-- simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship... When one of the children asked me about Syria after meeting, I told her that there had been an extreme civil conflict going for more than two years and that many people were losing their homes and being killed. She asked me, “Why would America choose to destroy even more instead of trying to help?”

Robert Reich: 3 Biggest Myths Blinding Us to Economic Truth The “job creators” are CEOs, corporations and the rich, whose taxes must be low in order to induce them to create more jobs... The critical choice is between the “free market” or “government.”... We should worry most about the size of government


TORTURE, U.S. Abu Ghraib et al.
Iraq & Empire, Why? full explanation of why the U.S. is willing to go to war over oil
U.S. War Crimes


""The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode," writees Kinzer. "It was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons" (Amitabh Pal. "From the Halls of Montezuma..." The Progressive, Sep 2006: 41-44).


".. more than 50 of [Mexico's] nationals [are] on U.S. death rows.. Late last month, the World Court in the Hague found that the United States violated the rights of these nationals and ordered American authorities to provide meaningful review of the sentences" (Patrick Timmons. "The Politics of Death." Texas Observer, 4/9/04, 18)


"Washington has resorted to two shameful initiatives [in Iraq]: First it reactivated a U.S. Army reconnaissance unit accued of war crimes during the Vietnam War to hunt down and kill suspected saboteurs; second, it hired a South African security firm with ties to apartheid-era death squads to manage a pipeline-protection service.

"Both of these efforts are part of a campaign known as Task Force Shield, intended to stop sabotage of the 300-mile pipeline carrying crude oil from fields near Kirkuk in norther Iraq to the Turkish border...

"...the Tiger Force.. snipers flew over the pipelines in.. Black Hawk helicopters and fired at suspected saboteurs from distances of more than 1.5 miles... questionalbe practice of shooting people before they can be identified" (Michael T. Klare. "Fighting for Oil--Still." The Nation, Apr. 19, 2004, 23).


"On February 29 [2004], Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, was deposed... by a U.S.-backed military force...

"The interim national government in Port-au-Prince has been handpicked by the U.S. government... including Colonel Henry Robert Marc-Charles, who was indicted for mass murder..." (Alan Pogue. "Haiti After the Coup." Texas Observer, 7/30/04: 16).


"...the "embedded" journalists joy-riding across the Kuwaiti border... their adrenaline-heavy, totally irrelevant reportage... the wowie-zowie enthusiasm of the "embeds"...

"...Al Jazeera has simply come much closer to doing its job as a news organizations than have CNN and all the rest... the American response to Al Jazeera... our military's killing of journalists from Al Jazeera and Dubai, and ..its attack on the hotel which was widely known to house journalists..." (David Theis. "The View From Doha." Texas Observer, 7/30/04: 24-25).


"American dereliction of duty in Iraq [has given] world terrorists recruiting posters... numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses that were part of systemic and illegal abuse inflicted on the detainees by American troops...

"...military commanders took months to begin their own investigation and then did little to end the abuses...

"...Rumsfeld's strategy... encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners...

"Neither Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch has been allowed to enter and inspect Iraqi prisons under American control...

"...the Bush administration's excuse that the torturing of Iraqi prisoners by enlisted troops was the sin of "a few bad apples" reflected the "low regard for the law" that has marked every chapter of its war on terror" ("American Dereliction of Duty in Iraq Gives World Terrorists Recruiting Posters." Washington Spectator, June 1, 2004: 1-3).


"American Indians and Alaska Natives have higher mortality rates than the white population... have a higher death rate than the general population from alcoholism (770%), diabetes (420%), and suicide (190%)... the IHS [Indian Health Service] spends $1,600 per person per year for comprehensive health services... roughly 50 percent below per person expenditures by public and private health insurance plans (2003). The federal government spends more than $5,200 on each veteran... $3,803 for federal prisoners..." ("Health Status Should Lead to Hill Action." FCNL Indian Report, Spring, 2004: 1).


7 deadly spins:

Spin #1: The Sleeping Giant: The U.S. minds its own business, but the sleeping giant is eventually provoked.

Spin #2: Good Wars: Once forced into war, the U.S. only does so in the name of Democracy and justice.

Spin #3: U.S. vs. Them: Terrorists, evildoers and more-the U.S. has faced off against the worst humanity has to offer.

Spin #4: Support the Troops: No matter what we think, we all unite behind our troops once the fighting starts.

Spin #5: The Devil Made U.S. Do It: During war, even the U.S. has to play a little rough.

Spin #6: Surgical Strikes: Those billion-dollar weapons can differentiate between the guilty and the innocent.

Spin #7: Only Losers Commit War Crimes: Enemies of the U.S. must be brought to justice. (from the book The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda, By Mickey Z).


"How, they ask, can human rights violations in Kosovo justify the bombing of civilian targets while the trampling of those same rights in China, Russia or Palestine is deemed unworthy even of trade sanctions? It's a good question" (Paul Hockenos. "German Greens and Pax Europa." The Nation, July 19, 2004: 26).


"...The pattern of corruption is a very old one, well-known to the Founders of this nation, who had carefully studied the example of Rome: A powerful republic gives birth to an empire, which in turn destroys the republic. The emperor who rules by force abroad develops a taste for ruling his own people in the same manner.

"The [Bush] Administration's across-the-board hostility to the constraints of law, domestic and international, is not accidental. The constitutional structure that is the backbone of the republic is a stumbling block to the empire. The republic requires a single standard, to which all are subject -- the law. But the empire requires a double standard -- one set of regulations for others, and another set, or none, for the imperial ruler. In the imperial conception, "law" is a set of rules dictated by the ruler for everyone else to obey. In this conception, other countries are not permitted weapons of mass destruction, but the United States may have them (and use them to stop the others from getting them). Other countries' troops must obey the Geneva Conventions, but the United States is exempt. Other countries must wage war only defensively; the United States may do so pre-emptively" (Jonathan Schell. "Empire Without Law." The Nation, May 31, 2004: 7).


"...(Kerry did engage in some historical distortion, however, when he said the United States has a "time-honored tradition" of fighting wars of necessity. How about the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War, just to name a few?)" (Matthew Rothschild. "Kerry's Mistake." The Progressive, Sep. 2004: 4).


"The problem has its roots in a long-term American forgetfulness, going back to the acid fog in which the United States ended World War II. There was never a complete moral reckoning with the harsh momentum of that conflict's denouement -- how American leaders embraced a strategy of terror bombing, slaughtering whole urban populations, and how, finally, they ushered in the atomic age with the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Scholars have debated those questions, but politicians have avoided them, and most citizens have pretended they aren't really question at all. America's enduring assumptions about its own moral supremacy, its own altruism, its own exceptionalism, have hardly been punctured by consideration of the possibility that we, too, are capable of grave mistakes, terrible crimes...

""The past is never dead," William Faulkner said. "It isn't even past." How Americans remember their country's use of terror bombing affects how they think of terrorism" (James Carroll. "The Bush Crusade." The Nation, Sep. 20, 2004: 14-22).


"...US occupation powers have been unabashed in their efforts to steal money that is supposed to aid a war-ravaged people. The State Department has taken $184 million earmarked for drinking water projects and moved it to the budget for the lavish new US Embassy in Saddam's former palace... he is robbing Iraq's people, who, according to a recent study by Public Citizen, are facing "massive outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, nausea and kidney stones" from drinking contaminated water...

"...if financial scandals made you blush, the entire reconstruction of Iraq would be pretty mortifying. From the start... it was treated as an ideological experiment in privatization...

"As a result, the reconstruction was seen not as a recovery from war but as an extension of the occupation, a foreign invasion of a different sort...

"...quoted on NPR's Marketplace, "At least 20 percent of US spending in Iraq is lost to corruption"...

"Rather than models of speed and efficiency, the contractors look more like overbilling, underperforming, lumbering beasts, barely able to move for fear of the hatred they have helped generate. The problems goes well beyond the latest reports of Halliburton drivers aban'ing $85,000 trucks on the road because they ''t carry spare tires. Private contractors are also accused of playing leadership roles in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib...

"...Senate Republicans just defeated an attempt to bar private contractors from interrogating prisoners and also voted down a proposal to impose stiffer penalties on contractors who overbill. Meanwhile, the White House is also trying to get immunity from prosecution for US contractors in Iraq..." (Naomi Klein. "Shameless in Iraq." The Nation, July 12, 2004: 14).


George W. Bush's September 21 speech to the United Nations, marked by an air of unreality and hypocrisy, was insulting to many other nations. Bush presented the United States as the world's premier social worker, leading the fight against AIDS, poverty, child trafficking, human cloning and genocide in Darfur. At best, the Administration has a mixed record in these areas, while the United States continues to give less overseas aid as a percentage of gross national income than any other industrialized country. Moreover, the Administration has focused virtually nonstop on terrorism and Iraq, even when other countries have wanted to talk about trade, economic development and other issues...

"The President's speech, with its grandiose claims of bringing liberty and democracy to the world, contrasted sharply with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's emphasis on the rule of law. "Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it," Annan said in remarks before Bush's speech, an implicit criticism of US actions. Annan's approach is far more likely to create the foundations for an international order that makes possible the spread of democracy than is a self-determined and selective American crusade" ("Bush Spins at the UN." The Nation, Oct. 11, 2004: 3).


"Imagine the scandal if a foreign government had for years funneled millions of dollars to political groups in the United States in an attempt to affect the outcome of a U.S. election. Even worse, what if some of the groups that received money had been involved in a failed coup attempt against a democratically elected U.S. president? Would the U.S. public not have a right to be outraged at the attempt to manipulate our political process?

"Of course we would -- which is why the people of Venezuela have a right to be outraged at the U.S. government's ongoing attempts to meddle in the electoral process in Venezuela" (Robert Jensen. "U.S. Supports Anti-democratic Forces in Venezuela Recall." http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0811-01.htm. 8-12-04).

"Hugo Chavez drives George Bush crazy. Maybe it's jealousy: Unlike Mr. Bush, Chavez, in Venezuela, won his Presidency by a majority of the vote.

"Or maybe it's the oil: Venezuela sits atop a reserve rivaling Iraq's. And Hugo thinks the US and British oil companies that pump the crude ought to pay more than a 16% royalty to his nation for the stuff. Hey, sixteen percent isn't even acceptable as a tip at a New York diner.

"Whatever it is, OUR President has decided that THEIR president has to go...

"Justice offered up to $67 million, of our taxpayer money, to ChoicePoint in a no-bid deal, for computer profiles with private information on every citizen of half a dozen nations. The choice of which nation's citizens to spy on caught my eye. While the September 11th highjackers came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Arab Emirates, ChoicePoint's menu offered records on Venezuelans, Brazilians, Nicaraguans, Mexicans and Argentines...

"What do these nations have in common besides a lack of involvement in the September 11th attacks? Coincidentally, each is in the throes of major electoral contests in which the leading candidates -- presidents Lula Ignacio da Silva of Brazil, Nestor Kirschner of Argentina, Mexico City mayor Andres Lopez Obrador and Venezuela's Chavez -- have the nerve to challenge the globalization demands of George W. Bush...

"Here's what it comes down to: The Justice Department averts it's gaze from Saudi Arabia but shoplifts voter records in Venezuela. So it's only fair to ask: Is Mr. Bush fighting a war on terror -- or a war on democracy?" (Greg Palast. "Will The Gang That Fixed Florida Fix the Vote in Caracas this Sunday?" http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0811-02.htm. 8-12-04).


"The most deadly weapons in the world today are legal, accessible and dirt cheap. And the United States is spreading them around the world"...

"The AK-47, the M-16 and other so-called "small arms" are responsible for the deaths of half a million people each year. About 300,000 people – mostly civilians – are killed in wars, coups d'etat and other armed conflicts each year by small arms. Another 200,000 people are killed each year in homicides, suicides, unintentional shootings and shootings by law enforcement officers using these weapons. In addition to those killed, an estimated 1.5 million people are wounded by small arms annually. If we take into account their cumulative impact, small arms are truly weapons of mass destruction.

"These lethal weapons are cheap, portable and easily concealed, making them ideal weapons for terrorists. They are hard to destroy and so simple to operate that even an eight-year old can carry and use them.

"The United States has the dubious honor of being the largest exporter, with $741.4 million in sales in 2003, which accounts for 18 percent of the market. The U.S. also purchased $602.5 million in small arms and munitions in 2003, making it the largest importer of small arms, as well.

"The failure of nations like the United States to curb the manufacture of these deadly weapons has a devastating impact on human rights, development and the war against terrorism." (Mass Destruction in Small Packages, by Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute)


"Deep in the psyche of the American mind is the myth of exceptionalism: that we are the greatest country on earth, a shining beacon on a hill, placed here by God himself. This is the American superiority complex, a profound affliction that distorts our perceptions and enables manipulative Presidents to give the marching orders" ("The Meaning of Defeat." The Progressive, Dec. 2004: 8-10).


"Imagine the scandal if a foreign government had for years funneled millions of dollars to political groups in the United States in an attempt to affect the outcome of a U.S. election. Even worse, what if some of the groups that received money had been involved in a failed coup attempt against a democratically elected U.S. president? Would the U.S. public not have a right to be outraged at the attempt to manipulate our political process?

"Of course we would -- which is why the people of Venezuela have a right to be outraged at the U.S. government's ongoing attempts to meddle in the electoral process in Venezuela" (Robert Jensen. "U.S. Supports Anti-democratic Forces in Venezuela Recall." http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0811-01.htm. 8-12-04).

"Hugo Chavez drives George Bush crazy. Maybe it's jealousy: Unlike Mr. Bush, Chavez, in Venezuela, won his Presidency by a majority of the vote.

"Or maybe it's the oil: Venezuela sits atop a reserve rivaling Iraq's. And Hugo thinks the US and British oil companies that pump the crude ought to pay more than a 16% royalty to his nation for the stuff. Hey, sixteen percent isn't even acceptable as a tip at a New York diner.

"Whatever it is, OUR President has decided that THEIR president has to go...

"Justice offered up to $67 million, of our taxpayer money, to ChoicePoint in a no-bid deal, for computer profiles with private information on every citizen of half a dozen nations. The choice of which nation's citizens to spy on caught my eye. While the September 11th highjackers came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Arab Emirates, ChoicePoint's menu offered records on Venezuelans, Brazilians, Nicaraguans, Mexicans and Argentines...

"What do these nations have in common besides a lack of involvement in the September 11th attacks? Coincidentally, each is in the throes of major electoral contests in which the leading candidates -- presidents Lula Ignacio da Silva of Brazil, Nestor Kirschner of Argentina, Mexico City mayor Andres Lopez Obrador and Venezuela's Chavez -- have the nerve to challenge the globalization demands of George W. Bush...

"Here's what it comes down to: The Justice Department averts it's gaze from Saudi Arabia but shoplifts voter records in Venezuela. So it's only fair to ask: Is Mr. Bush fighting a war on terror -- or a war on democracy?" (Greg Palast. "Will The Gang That Fixed Florida Fix the Vote in Caracas this Sunday?" http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0811-02.htm. 8-12-04).


WMD, Nuclear Weapons, Shameful U.S. Acts, Veterans

"U.S./British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Despite Massive Evidence of Negative Health Effects" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 57).

"British and American coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq.. flouting a U.N. resolution that classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction...

"Our own soldiers in the first Gulf War were often required to enter radioactive battlefields unprotected and were never warned of the dangers.. In effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction on his own soldiers" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 58).


Africa, Shameful U.S. Acts

"During the Cold War years (1950-1989), the U.S. sent $1.5 billion in arms and training to Africa thus setting the stage for the current round of conflicts.. These U.S.-funded wars have been responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans and the subsequent displacement, disease, and starvation of many millions more" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 64).

"The U.S... the IMF, World Bank, and G8.. Structural Adjustment programs (SAPs).. require that governments reduce public spending (especially on health, education, and food/storage).. creating a domino effect of disasters (prolonged famine, conflict, abject poverty, and environmental exploitation) linked to an estimated 21 million deaths and, in the process, transferring hundreds of billions of dollars to the West" (65).

"The U.S. has created a holocaust in Africa by backing wars and imposing structural adjustment programs.." (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 66).

see..

Asad Ismi "The United States government is the greatest purveyer of violence in the world" -Martin Luther King, Jr.


"The April, 2002, military coup in Venezuela was supported by the United States government.. the CIA actively organized the coup.. Venezuela is the fourth largest oil-producing nation" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 71).

See..

Venezuela's Electronic News
Narco News reporting on the drug war and Democracy from Latin America


"The world's largest polluter, the U.S. military, generates 750,000 tons of toxic waste material annually, more than the five largest chemical companies in the U.S. combined. This pollution occurs globally, as the U.S. maintains bases in dozens of countries.. it's poisoning the land.. resulting in increased rates of cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, low birth weight, and miscarriage" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 79).


"During the first Gulf War, the United States deliberately bombed Iraq's water system... a direct violation of the Geneva Convention" (139).

"[If this action were taken against the] U.S. civilian population. It would be called terrorism, or worse, genocide... International law on this matter is unambiguous -- depriving people of life-sustaining resources is a war crime" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 140).


"Bush Appoints Former Criminals to Key Government Roles:

"John Poindexter [head of the Information Awareness Office].. found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and the destruction of evidence...

"Elliot Abrams [National Security Council (NSC)] plead guilty to withholding evidence from Congress... active in covering up some of the worst [war] atrocities...

"John Negroponte [Ambassador to the U.N.].. is known for his role in the cover-up of human rights abuses by CIA trained paramilitaries...

"Otto Reich [assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs].. was instrumental in the failed Venezuelan coup.. censured by Congress for "prohibited covert propaganda activities".." (147).

"John Poindexter is barred from Costa Rica for drug trafficking... convicted of five felony counts of lying to Congress" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 149).


"[The] CIA kidnaps suspects for overseas torture and execution.. suspects are denied legal counsel and detained without specific charges" (154).

"Amnesty International.. makes clear that the U.S. is in violation of numerous human rights and war laws..." (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 156).


"The controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United States about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq...

"...Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayyoub... a US warplane swooped in and fired a rocket at Al Jazeera's office...

"At noon on April 8, a US Abrams tank fired at the Palestine Hotel, home and office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in Baghdaad at the time. The shell smashed into the fifteenth-floor Reuters office, killing two cameramen, Reuters's Taras Protsyum and Jose Couso of Spain's Telecinco... "Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists"...

"..."...the American... military--do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work... this is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity."

"The US military has yet to discipline a single soldier for the killing of a journalist in Iraq... the killing of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, shot near Abu Ghraib prison... the killing of Al Arabiya TV's Mazen al-Tumeizi, blown apart by a US missile... on Baghdad's Haifa Street...

"...at US military checkpoints... March 2004 shooting deaths of Ali Abdel-Aziz and Ali al-Khatib of Al Arabiya.... Reuters freelancer Dhia Najim was killed by US fire...

"...tortured by the US military... Salah Hassan and Suheib Badr Darwish of Al Jazeera... and three Reuters staffers...

"... journalists were reporting on places or incidents that the military may not have wanted the world to see" (Jeremy Scahill. "Shooting the Messenger." The Nation, March 7, 2005: 4-6).


"To a growing number of Europeans, however, it is America that is in trouble and the "American way of life" that cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance - as material surrogates for happiness - is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand (or, more precisely, other people's money). For many Americans the promise of a better future is a fading hope. Contemporary mass culture in the US is squalid and meretricious...

"America's cultural peculiarities (as seen from Europe) are well documented: the nation's marked religiosity, its selective prurience,[1] its affection for guns and prisons (the EU has 87 prisoners per 100,000 people; America has 685), and its embrace of the death penalty...

"(of the world's developed countries only the US and South Africa offer no universal medical coverage). According to the World Health Organization the United States is number one in health spending per capita - and thirty-seventh in the quality of its service.

"As a consequence, Americans live shorter lives than West Europeans. Their children are more likely to die in infancy: the US ranks twenty-sixth among industrial nations in infant mortality, with a rate double that of Sweden, higher than Slovenia's, and only just ahead of Lithuania's...

"...a recent study suggests that for every dollar the US spends on education it gets worse results than any other industrial nation. American children consistently under-perform their European peers in both literacy and numeracy...

"The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights promises the "right to parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child" and every West European country provides salary support during that leave. In Sweden women get sixty-four weeks off and two thirds of their wages. Even Portugal guarantees maternity leave for three months on 100 percent salary. The US federal government guarantees nothing. In the words of Valgard Haugland, Norway's Christian Democratic minister for children and family: "Americans like to talk about family values. We have decided to do more than talk; we use our tax revenues to pay for family values."...

Foreign aid... "The US is the meanest of all the rich countries on the OECD's Development Assistance Committee. The Europeans are by far the most generous...

"There is more. The US contains just 5 percent of the world's population (and falling), but it is responsible for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas output per annum. Each year our atmosphere has to absorb twenty metric tons of carbon dioxide for every American man, woman, and child; but just nine tons for every European. And the American share continues to grow, even as the Bush administration blocks any international action on pollution or global warming...

"Abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership, whereas the US currently executes prisoners on a scale matched only in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Congo. American opposition to an International Criminal Court has been supported in the UN and elsewhere by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, In'esia, Israel, and Egypt. The American doctrine of "preventive war" now finds its fraternal counterpart in Muscovite talk of "preventive counterrevolution."...

"As things now stand, boundary-breaking and community-making is something that Europeans are doing better than anyone else. The United States, trapped once again in what Tocqueville called its "perpetual utterance of self-applause," isn't even trying" (Tony Judt. "Europe vs. America." The New York Review of Books, 10 February 2005 Issue; http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/012305L.shtml, accessed June 7, 2005).


"...called "global strike"... In a shocking innovation in American nuclear policy, recently discolsed in the Washington Post by military analyst William Arkin, the Administration has created and placed on continuous high alert a force where by the President can launch a pinpoint strike, including a nuclear strike, anywhere on earth with a few hours' notice...

"These actions make operational a revolution in US nuclear policy... targeting of, among others, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libra... grew out of Bush's broader new military strategy of pre-emptive war...

"The incorporation of nuclear weapons into the global strike option, casting a new shadow of nuclear danger over the entire planet, raises fundamental questions. Perhaps the most important is why the United States, which now possesses the strongest conventional military forces in the world, feels the need to add to them a new global nuclear threat. The mystery deepens when you reflect that nothing could be more calculated to goad other nations into nuclear proliferation" (Jonathan Schell. "A Revolution in American Nuclear Policy." The Nation, Mar. 14, 2005: 12).


"...what they ''t like about the United States... summarized... "The US is a selfish, individualistic society devoted to commerce, profit, and the despoliation of the planet. It is uncaring of the poor and sick and it is indifferent to the rest of humankind. The US rides roughshod over international laws and treaties and threatens the moral, environmental, and physical future of humanity. It is inconsistent and hypocritical in its foreign dealings, and it wields unparalleled military clout. It is, in short, a bull in a global china shop"...

"...most Europeans are appalled by the death penalty..." (Reid, T.R. The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy: p. 14)


Maureen Dowd. New York Times: "America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered intrastructure, a gutte police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning. But this time it's happening in America...

"It is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode... Who are we if we can't take care of our own?"

Independent: "Hurricane Katrina has revealed some uncomfortable truths about the world's richest and most powerful nation. The catastrophe in New Orleans exposed shocking inequalities--both of wealth and race--and also the relative impotence of the federal authorities when faced with a large-scale disaster. Many Americans are beginnint to ask just what sort of country they are living in... The more information emerges, the more irresponsible the federal authorities appear" ("The Week." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 9, 2005: 2).


"Now the debacle in New Orleans has underlined again the competence deficit inside the Bush administration.

"The stories about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be comical if their results had not been so tragic. Shipment of supplies were held up, sometimes only a few miles from their destination, because FEMA officials insisted that the 'ors had not filled in the right forms.

"FEMA ordered the Red Cross not to enter New Orleans, lest it provide a reason for residents to remain, even though thousands of people were by then trapped in the city's Superdome and convention centre. FEMA officials claimed not to have been aware, more than four days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, that the convention centre had become a humanitarian nightmare for 20,000 people--suggesting they had neither been watching television nor talking to the local police" (Julian Borger. "Bush's competence deficit." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 16, 2005: 7).


"...leaving the US for Canada is 'e with no enormous regret. Behind you lies the weight of American touchiness and hysteria, the radio shock jocks, the twerpish, bow-tied TV pundits, the religious nuts who deny evolution with the phrase "intelligent design." and the madness that descants on the ills of passive smoking, yet allows a tax break on SUVs. This is to say little of a president who seems only confident when he is standing at a podium as commander-in-chief with bristling military types behind him talking about "Amraaaka".

"But one must not exaggerate. America is not in some proto-fascist statte and, actually, there is much I still love about the place, but the country is in a very weird mood. So much of its decency, cordiality, wit and thoughfulness is drowned out by strident chaps wearing flags in their lapels and the babbling hatred that pours from the Fox Network. When you get to Canada, the clamour stops. Suddenly you find yourself in the place that America should be and once was, though it would offend every American to think that Canada has anything the US should want.

"Canada is the lame, slow-talking cousin up north where people say "golly", "cripes" and "geeezzz". The origin of the name is held to be significant: it is commonly thought to derive from a Spanish cartographer who wrote on an early map "Aca-Nada", or "nothing here".

"If only on the grounds of Canada's economic success, Americans should take more notice. Last month the Liberal government announced that it would cut C$30bn ($26bn) out of the budget because of the enormous fiscal surplus, running at about C$13.4bn a year. Just over C$5bn is to be given back to Canadians on taxes collected this year. And in future some of the surplus will be spent on training the settling of immigrants and student grants...

"The main point, which you never hear in Britain or the US, is that Canada alone among G7 countries is balancing its budget. When you compare its performance with the Bush Administration's (the US trade deficit is $706bn), it's a wonder Canadians aren't a bit more cocky" (Henry Porter. "It's Great Up North." Guardian Weekly, Jan 13, 2006: 22).


"...the scorched earth policy in Fallujah removed any doubt that this was not a benign occupation. ON Bush's orders, the US military went into Fallujah to avenge the killing of four US mercenaries working for Blackwater Security. A friend of Glantz's, a British filmmaker, returns from Fallujah with video and indignation: "Unbelievable. Un-fucking-believable. Your people are butchers. I have to find the technical definition of genocide because your government may be committing one." US snipers were shooting innocent women and children in the neck and firing on ambulances, she reported" (Matthew Rosthchild. "The Iraq Debacle." The Progressive, Nov. 2005: 48-52).


"Chavez has sold the discounted oil in two US markets, New York and Massachusetts... bought 12m gallons at a steep discount after US oil companies ignored its plea for help. Similar oil deals are in the works elsewhere.

"On the second scow day in the Bronx, it did not escape the notice of tenants that a foreign government stepped in after Congress did not...

"Last week Citgo bought full-pagge ads in the Washington Post and the New York Times, lauding Venezuela's role in heating the homes of the nation's poor" (Michelle Garcia. "Bronx warmly receives Venezuelan oil." Guardian Weekly, Dec. 16, 2005: 7).


Still No Coherent and Effective Strategy for Defeating ISIS By Alan Hart, 11/19/15

Way back in July I wrote an article with the headline No sign of a coherent strategy for defeating perverted and barbaric Islamic fundamentalism. Four months and several jihadist atrocities on, and with still no sign, my conclusion is that Western leaders do not have the will to do what is necessary to put ISIS and its affiliates out of business because they '’t want to come to grips with the bottom line truth.

It can be summarised as follows.

ISIS and its affiliates are empowered by the hurt, humiliation, anger and despair of many who make up the Arab and other Muslim masses. It follows that the only way to erode support for ISIS and its affiliates and eventually put them out of business is by addressing this hurt, humiliation, anger and despair.

As I wrote previously, there are two prime causes of it.

One is American-led Western foreign policy for the Arab and wider Muslim world including its double standard as demonstrated by refusal to call and hold Israel to account for its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians.

The other prime cause of Arab and other Muslim hurt, humiliation, anger and despair is the corruption, authoritarianism and repression of most if not all Arab and other Muslim regimes. (In most cases they are regimes supported/endorsed by American-led Western foreign policy).

It also follows that addressing these two prime causes is something that can’t be 'e with bombs and bullets. They only play into the hands of ISIS and its affiliates.

What could American-led Western governments actually do to if they were willing to play their necessary part in addressing Arab and other Muslim hurt, humiliation, anger and despair?

As a priority that could endtheir double standard with regard to Israel by putting the Zionist state on notice that it will be isolated and sanctioned if it continues to demonstrate nothing but contempt for international law and its lack of interest in justice for the Palestinians.That really would give Western foreign policy a degree of credibility and respect and by doing so assist the process of eroding support for ISIS. and its affiliates.

But the single most important thing Western governments could and should dois use their leverage to persuade Arab and other Muslim leaders that it really is time for authoritarianism to give way to something approaching democracy. If Arab and other Muslim leaders agreed (no matter how reluctantly), this would rob ISIS and its affiliates of their most persuasive argument – that the Arab and other Muslim masses have nothing to gain from politics and non-violent demands for change.

Why, really, are Western governments unwilling to do what is necessary to put ISIS and its affiliates out of business?

I can think of two answers.

One is that governments are not free agents. They are prisoners of powerful vested interests including and especially the Military Industrial Complex and the Zionist lobby in all of its manifestations. (In America this lobby has the assistance of those organizations which represent and promote deluded, mad, Christian fundamentalism),

The other answer is short-termism – the art of politics in which decision-making is determined by what has to be said and 'e for short-term gain and winning the next election.

In my view this short-termism is the cancer at the heart of politics throughout the Western world because it provides no space and time for consideration of what has to be 'e over 10, 15, 20 and more years if a whole range of problems which threaten the wellbeing of all of humankind (the threat posed by ISIS and its affiliates is only one of many) are to be solved.

So it’s not only the Arab and other Muslim nations which desperately need new politics. We all do.

States of Terror By Chris Hedges — We waded into conflicts in the Middle East we did not understand, propelled forward by fantasy. And our folly spawned a death spiral of political, social and economic collapse, widespread poverty, massive displacement, misery and radical jihadism.

Could Veganism End World Hunger? The World Health Organization calls malnutrition "the silent emergency", and says it is a factor in at least half the 10.4 million child deaths which occur every year.

If you’re concerned about animal rights, water conservation, clean air and health then you may already be on the road to becoming vegan – so why not take five minutes and find out how veganism could end world hunger?

There is more than enough food being produced to feed everyone in the world twice over.

The problem is, our meat-based diet means that land, water, and other resources that could be used to grow food for human beings are being used to grow crops for farmed animals instead.

70% of U.S. grain production is fed to livestock.

One-third of the world's fish catch is fed directly to livestock.

In cycling our grain through livestock, we waste 90% of its protein and 96% of its calories.

An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production. Legumes [beans] can produce ten times as much.

"Those who consume livestock products and fish are competing directly with those who need grain for food." (Lester Brown, president of Worldwatch)

The truth can no longer be dodged. Livestock farming gobbles up agricultural land, water and energy that could be far more efficiently devoted to growing food for people.

The cost of an 8 ounce steak will fill 45 to 50 bowls with cooked cereal grains.

Livestock now outnumber humans by almost three to one. In the last 40 years, the number of cattle has doubled and the fowl population has trebled.

The meat and dairy industry is also putting a huge strain on our water supply.. it is unsustainable.

"The American fast food diet and the meat-eating habits of the wealthy around the world support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry" [Dr. Waldo Bello].

It would take just 40 million tons of food to eliminate most world hunger, yet a staggering 760 million tons of grain will be used to feed farmed animals this year.

An individual can make a huge difference. They can stop supporting the meat, fish, egg and dairy industries. They can become vegan.

In the U.S., 64% of cropland produces feed for animals, while only 2% grows fruit and vegetables.

It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater.

Fact: You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

Veganism is about wanting something better.. for the future of our children and the world as a whole.

Veganism is about making the world we live in a better place for people and animals alike.

Diet and Global Warming If one takes the threat of global warming seriously, the most powerful personal step you can take may well be choosing a vegetarian diet.

America’s & NATO’s Outrageous Behavior, Greatest Threat that Exists By Eric Zuesse [] May 19, 2016

On May 18th, two top people at NATO, one being its current Secretary General — the very top person — laid out in preliminary form the case for war against Russia, which presumably will be presented in more detail at the NATO Summit to be held in Poland on 8-9 July this year.

As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s the matter reported by Bryan Cloughly at Strategic Culture, headlining on May 19th, “Surging Towards yet Another War”, where he pointed out that “The United States has no territorial rights of any sort, in the South China Sea which is 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometres) from its west coast. There is nothing in international law that justifies its unilateral military ‘challenge’ to China’s presence” there, in that area which is contested between five countries: China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. The American government, which has no authority to speak for the entire world regarding international law — of which the U.S. itself has been perhaps the most frequent violator during the past 16 years — isn’t “policeman of the world,” certainly not judge and jury and executioner (well, maybe executioner) of the world, but instead it’s merely an aspiring global thug.

“The Pentagon declared on 10 May that China’s ‘excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise’.” Cloughly points out that the U.S. “refuses to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention — while ordering every other country to abide by it.”








Fascism

Regime Change Is Urgently Needed In Washington

By Andre Vltchek, February 28, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

It is not Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran that are in dire and crucial need of ‘regime change’. It is the United States of America, it is the entire European Union; in fact, the entire West.

And the situation is urgent.

The West has gone mad; it has gone so to speak, bananas; mental. And people there are too scared to even say it, to write about it.

One country after another is falling, being destroyed, antagonized, humiliated, impoverished. Entire continents are treated as if they were inhabited by irresponsible toddlers, who are being chased and disciplined by sadistic adults, with rulers and belts in their hands yelling with maniacal expressions on their faces: “Behave, do as we say, or else!”

It all would be truly comical, if it weren’t so depressing. But… nobody is laughing. People are shaking, sweating, crying, begging, puking, but they are not chuckling.

I see it everywhere where I work: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

But why?

It is because North American and European countries are actually seriously delivering their ultimatum: you either obey us, and prostrate yourself in front of us, or we will break you, violate you, and if everything else fails, we will kill your leaders and all of those who are standing in our way.

This is not really funny, is it? Especially considering that it is being done to almost all the countries in what is called Latin America, to many African and Middle Eastern nations, and to various states on the Asian continent.

And it is all done ‘professionally’, with great sadistic craftsmanship and rituals. No one has yet withstood ‘regime change’ tactics, not even the once mighty Soviet Union, nor tremendous China, or proud and determined Afghanistan.

Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK and Syria may be the only countries that are still standing. They resisted and mobilized all their resources in order to survive; and they have survived, but at a tremendous price.

The victims keep crying. A few independent countries keep expressing their outrage. But so far, there is no grand coalition, which would be ready to fight and defend each other: “one for all, all for one”.

Until the recent ‘rebellion’ at the UN, no one has been openly and seriously suggesting that international law should apply to all nations of the world, equally.

People talk about ‘peace’. Many are begging the brigands to ‘to stop’, to ‘have mercy’, to show some compassion. But, neither Europe nor North America has ever shown any compassion, for long, terrible centuries. Look at the map of the beginning of the 20th century, for instance: the entire world was colonized, plundered and subjugated.

Now it is all moving in the same direction. If the West is not stopped, our planet may not survive at all. And let us be realistic: begging, logical arguments and goodwill will not stop Washington, Paris or London from plundering and enslaving.

Anyone who has at least some basic knowledge of world history knows that.

So why is the world still not forging some true resistance?

Is Venezuela going to be the last straw? And if not Venezuela, that is if Venezuela is allowed to fall, is it going to be Nicaragua, Cuba or Iran next? Is anything going to propel people into action?

Are we all just going to look passively how, the socialist Venezuela, a country which has already given so much to the world, Venezuela which managed to create beautiful visions and concepts for our humanity, is going to be burned to ashes, and then robbed of all of its dreams, its resources and of its freedom?

Are we all such cowards? Is this what we – human beings – have actually become; been reduced to? Cowards and cattle, selfish and submissive beings; slaves?

All this, simply because people are too scared to confront the empire? Because they prefer to hide and to pretend that what is so obvious, is actually not taking place?

Therefore, let me pronounce it, so at least my readers do not have that ‘luxury’ of claiming that they were not told:

This world is being brutalized and controlled by the fascist clique of Western nations. There is no ‘democracy’ left in this world, as there is near zero respect for international law in North American and European capitals. Colonialism has returned in full force. Western imperialism is now almost fully controlling the world.

And begging, trust me – begging and talking of peace is not going to help.

During WWII, fascism had to be stopped. If not, it was going to devour the entire planet. In the past, tens of millions have already died fighting for freedom and for our mankind. Yes, some nations tried to compromise and negotiate with Nazi Germany, but we all know where it all ended.

Now, the situation is the same. Or worse, perhaps much worse, because the West has nukes and a tremendous propaganda apparatus: it controls human brains all over the world with ‘mass media’, and ‘education’.

And because the citizens of the West are now much more brainwashed than the Germans and Italians were in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s; more brainwashed, more scared, submissive and more ‘disciplined’.

Look, seriously: are the people who are now writing those “peace essays”, in which they argue with the Western regime about who is right and who is wrong, seriously thinking that they are going to move people like Donald Trump, or Pompeo, or Abrams, or Rubio?

Do they believe that Washington is going to stop murdering millions of people all over the world? Or that the neo-colonialist plunder would stop, after the US Congress and Senate suddenly understands that it has been at the wrong side of history?

This is not some rhetorical question. I am serious: I demand answers!

Does ‘peace movement’ thinks that by amassing arguments it could stop Western expansionism? Yes or no?

Do they believe that Pompeo or Trump will suddenly hit their foreheads and exclaim: “You people are correct! We did not see this!” And call their troops, their thugs and mercenaries back?

If not, if this is not what peace movements believe would be done by North American and European leaders, then why all those thousands of wasted pages?

Would you go near a crocodile that is ready to devour an innocent child, and try to reason with it? Would you, seriously? Do you think it would stop, drop a few tears, wag its tail and leave?

Sometimes I tend to believe that ‘peace movements’ in the West are making things worse. They create false hopes, and they behave as if the empire is some entity that has a soul, and understands logic. They grossly underestimate the threat; the danger.

And they tend to analyze the Western threat from a Western perspective, using Western logic.

It somehow gets lost in interpretation that fascism, terror, and bestiality have to be confronted and fought.

One cannot negotiate with a group of countries which are already bathed in the blood of some 80% of the planet. If it was to happen, it would just be a mockery and it would simply humiliate everyone that is sincerely trying to stop the assassins.

Right now, Venezuela needs solidarity. It requires direct help, actions; not words. And so do many other countries.

Instead, it gets an endless avalanche of best wishes, as well as premature obituaries.

The Bolivarian Revolution has gotten plenty of colorful words. But what it urgently needs is volunteers, money, and internationalist brigades!

I know that billions of people all over the world are now cheering from their armchairs; in fact, doing absolutely nothing, while also spending zero. Their love for Venezuela is ‘platonic’.

I have just left Syria, where I was covering the Idlib war zone. There was not one single foreigner near me, during those days. Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley usually work all over the toughest areas in Syria, but how many others do? And most of the time we work with near zero backing, just because we feel that it is our moral obligation to inform humanity.

I am wondering, how many foreigners are fighting for Venezuela, right now?

Who is going to face the Western spooks implanted into the Caracas and the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil? A few RT and TeleSur reporters, those true heroes, yes, but who else?

Only direct action can save Venezuela, and the world.

This is no time for debates.

This is worse, much worse than the late 1930’s.

The proverbial crocodile is here; its enormous ugly mouth open, ready to devour yet one more brilliant, proud country.

It is time to stick a big metal rod into its mouth. Now, immediately; before it gets too late.

Let us shout LONG LIVE VENEZUELA! But with our hands, muscles and purses, not just with our mouths.

And let us not be scared to declare: if anywhere, it is Washington where regime change is truly and urgently needed!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

How Patriarchy and Supremacy Cost America the Future: You Can Have Modernity or Barbarity--But Not Both

Here’s a strange and funny observation.

There is the very famous psychology professor who shouts that college students protesting neo Nazis are deep, dangerous threats to free speech--but has yet to condemn internment camps for children. There is the other very famous psychology professor whose goal in life is to persuade you and I that the world is getting better--while America implodes into the panicked chaos of authoritarianism (I guess America isn’t part of the world). Over there, the renowned columnist who argued women should be sexually enslaved, so that men don’t shoot people (I guess he didn’t learn two wrongs don’t make a right in kindergarten--but we’ll return to him).

Friends, I’m here to tell you something you’d rather not hear. Patriarchy and supremacy made America dumb. Wait, not just dumb. Mean, cruel, and poor, too. All the above, if you pause and think about it, are just reflections of a culture, society, way of thinking, still steeped up to its eyeballs in patrarichy and supremacy. Only the rest of the rich world isn’t. How so?

American discourse consists (more or less) of the ideas of supremacy and patriarchy--just softly encoded into shining myths of exceptionalism, where it’s a little better hidden. One endless reiteration of a set of tired fairy tales--and if you know them, you’ll quickly see that every newspaper column you read, every TV show you watch, every politician’s speech, is an endless retelling of them. Here they are (if you haven’t figured them out by now): Everyone must be self-reliant. Only the strong survive, so weakness must be punished. The purpose of life is profit, ownership, and control. Be as cruel and exploitative and ruthless, especially to those beneath them, as possible. The only right way to organize a society is as a jungle--a food chain, to feed the apex predators.

Wouldn’t you say that accurately describes most of the beliefs underpinning American life, from healthcare to education to aspiration to work to play? Why else do we aspire to be “ninjas” and “killers” working a hundred hours a week for less money every week, accomplices to our own ruin--while the rest of the rich world, which lives longer, better, happier lives, gently sips wine in little town squares, chatting and laughing under the stars--wondering what went wrong with us?

Guess who wins when a nation buys into patriarchy and supremacy? Here’s a hint--not you. No one at all, not even the patriarchs and supremacists. Why? Here is the problem and it’s a very big one.

The rest of the civilized world rejected these myths long ago. Because they led to millennia of poverty, ruin, war, and tragedy, from which whole continents had to painfully rebuild, over and over again. What happened when Europe organized itself along these lines? Germany burned, Hitler rose from the ashes, scapegoated the Jews, started a great war, and launched the Holocaust.

America’s Collapsing Into Fascism Because Americans Still Don’t Understand Fascism: Fascism Isn’t What Americans Think it Is, and That’s Why Americans Are Losing the Fight Against Fascism

Yesterday, I sat down over coffee to write an essay about an organized bombing campaign by a right wing extremist targeting the political opposition. But by the time I’d finished a gunman radicalized by the delusional, paranoid propaganda of an authoritarian movement had committed a mass murder at a synagogue. What a tragedy, what a loss. One of those killed was a holocaust survivor.

That, my friends, is an extreme pace of social collapse?—?one that should leave you profoundly unsettled. And yet while I’ve long had had the uncomfortable suspicion that fascism would rise in America during my lifetime?—?across the world in fact?—?I’ve also suspected that would be because Americans, many of them, enough of them, even especially the good ones were never really taught what fascism is.

What is fascism? This wave of violence, my friends, is fascism coming to life. Now I suspect when I say this, you feel conflicted. One part of you probably says, “I know that, you idiot!!”?—?while another one, trying to be reasonable, says “but this isn’t really, you know, fascism fascism.” How curious. Am I right? Do you have something like this unconscious inner dialogue going on? I’d bet that you do. But why?

The reason is that Americans have been badly miseducated about fascism. They have been told a terrible and stupid lie, that I will come to. That part of you that objects, “but this isn’t fascism fascism,” does so because somewhere, probably in grade school, and then all over again in college, you were taught the definition that every American is taught. Fascism is the “concentration of state and economic power.”

Now, let’s think about this for a second. If this is fascism, then Britain’s NHS, France’s retirement system, and Germany’s high speed rail network meet this definition, too--and all those kind folks working in them are…fascists. Lol. In fact, they are the precise opposite of fascism--goods designed explicitly to make everyone better off, regardless of their position in society, their caste, creed, place?—?which is why we call them “public” goods. And yet this definition--“the concentration of state and economic power,” or those like it?—?has no racial or ethnic component, nor one of violence, whatsoever. Isn’t that, well, strangely, bafflingly ignorant? After all, isn’t fascism at its core about exactly that?

I want you to see the point. The definition of fascism Americans have been taught is tragically and funnily backwards. So much so that it quite literally makes no sense at all?—?it falls apart on the merest examination. What is it really defining, if it’s not defining fascism?

Americans have been taught that socialism is fascism. Not even totalist communism, a la Soviet Russia?—?even lightweight social democracy. Quite literally, under the terms of this bizarre definition--“the concentration of state and economic power”--Americans are left badly, deeply, and profoundly confused.

But wait! If we build that high speed rail line, or give people healthcare--isn’t that a step on the road to fascism? LOL--of course not: it is an inoculation against taking that step. I’ll come back to exactly why. Do you see how convoluted our logic grows, how dim our reason becomes, when our definitions begin from a backwards place? When we suppose fascism is a thing without a politics begin with, when we have reduced it to a ghost, a shell--then what are we to fight against?

Now. The interesting question is: why?

Why were Americans taught that socialism is fascism--when in fact the diametrical opposite is true?

The reason is quite simple, but to really understand it?—?and you will not like the explanation?—?we need to consider America’s gruesome, weird, and terrible history.

Fascism is best seen this way. A person who believes that there is a hierarchy of personhood?—?that some people are more human than others, and some fall below the threshold of being people entirely--and furthermore, that that hierarchy should be institutionalized, is a fascist.

A movement composed of such people is a fascist movement. A government managing such a project is a fascist government. (The natural moral logic of such a hierarchy is that violence must be done to the weak by the strong, since they are not human beings at all, but parasites and predators.)

But that creates a very big problem for America. If that definition is true--you are welcome to think about whether it is--then America was a fascist country for a very long time, and many Americans have always been welcoming to fascist ideas, because the central organizing principle of American life was just such a hierarchy of personhood--and its institutionalization. Slavery and segregation, after all, was exactly all this, wasn’t it?

So now we come to a difficult truth?—?one that is perhaps too difficult for America to ever really face, and that is why it is where it is now.

You see, the problem is that fascism was an American creation. The Nazis didn’t begin by being America’s enemies. They were its great admirers. They openly studied America’s long history of slavery and segregation to model their own race laws upon. Now, Americans, quite naturally, wanting to disown this legacy, were left calling fascism “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” and so on. But these are inaccurate, sanitizing terms, which only hide a bitter and grim reality--and leave us unable to ever really improve upon it much, either.

(Hence, I don’t say any of this to condemn, blame, or judge you, by the way. No nation has a virgin birth. I say these difficult things for the sake of democracy. As hard as that might be to swallow, or even accept. I wish only the best for you, really?—?which is the attitude democracy demands of us, I think, but I digress.)

Americans were taught that socialism is fascism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

Their echoes, ideals of supremacy and nationalism and so on, were something repellent, maybe, but also to be tolerated, in the “market” or “battle” of “ideas”. That legacy, that history of failed ideas, of poor thinking, is what made America ever more vulnerable to today’s fascist collapse. Because when one doesn’t know what is seeing, one is just as blind as if one cannot see at all.

Let’s consider the question now--is what we see today really fascism? You know, fascism fascism, the real thing, as our unconscious minds probably object--now that we have some criteria we can use. If fascism is just the concentration of state and economic power--then it is Europe who is fascist, not America.

But it isn’t Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain in which mass political violence against Jews, refugees, and immigrants is breaking out--and their heads of state and governments are not applauding, cheering, and promoting it.

But if fascism is the institutionalization of a hierarchy of personhood, well, then, America is obviously the one who is well on the way to becoming fascist. But becoming is the wrong term. The right term is “reverting”--because that is what America was always built upon. Perhaps in the end history will sum America up this way, if Americans make the wrong choice in about ten days: it had just fifty short years of democracy between dark centuries of fascism.

(Now, there are qualifications and objections we can make--they go like this. One: fascism is a modern phenomenon, it’s sometimes said, because the machinery of the state is used bureaucratically to control and subjugate people, with accounting and ledgers and all the techniques of modern management. But these aren’t convincing ones, to me. Because precisely the same thing happened to black American slaves, and native Americans who face genocide--they were counted, tracked, parcelled, sorted, and valued by managers and underlings and administrators, too...

Two: fascism is an organized campaign of genocide, and America has never done any such thing, and therefore it is not fascist. My friend, if you tell yourself this, you badly misunderstand what “genocide” is. When the child was sold, and the mother kept, or the family broken up, that too was genocide--because it is simply limiting the reproductive destiny of a group. It would be a foolish kind of ignorance to suppose America’s centuries of slavery were not one long, slow genocide--one of history’s greatest.)

And that brings us back to that very uncomfortable place--at least if we are American. Because now we are face to face with a shattering truth. We are backwards people, thinking backwards thoughts--and among these, one of the most backwards is that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

I don’t want to mince words, on this eve of a massacre. It is believing lies like these that have made us history’s great fools--easy, gullible marks for the worst among us, who never went anywhere at all. Where would they go? After all, we were taught that socialism was the idea never to be tolerated--but not supremacy, not violence, hierarchies of personhood. Those are ingrained in us as deep as our very pores. “Hey--maybe that billionaire really is just smarter, tougher, better!” Ah, I suppose that means, too, then, that the slave wasn’t. I suppose maybe we should arm the teachers--not take away the guns. Do you see my point?

Let me make that even sharper. Slavery and segregation were seminal, pioneering forms of fascism--but Americans have not yet understood that yet. Yet without understanding that, they are impotent to know what it is to truly be, and also stay, a democracy.

What distinguishes fascism from “white supremacy”? Fascism is the superset of supremacies--it’s best to think about it that way.

So in America, it might be whites who aspire to be supreme, and in Asia, castes or tribes of some kind, and so forth. Supremacies are just different forms of the category fascism. And the only real difference between them is the desire, appetite, and will to institutionalize such a hierarchy of the weak and the strong--but what supremacist doesn’t want to do that, really? Yet that is precisely what America did, for far, far longer than it has undone.

So Americans struggle to understand fascism because they have been taught to think about it not just poorly--but in a fatally backwards from the very beginning. They’ve been taught the stupid, foolish, lie that socialism is fascism, but supremacy, slavery, and segregation weren’t. Therefore, today, the echoes of the expressions of the idea that some people are more human than others, are quite alright (hey, I hear people talking about dirty, filthy lower kinds on Faux News all the time, what’s the big deal?) But a little bit of public healthcare, education, media, or retirement--my God, that way lies the abyss!

Do you see the setup for tragedy occurring here? It made it almost inevitable that America would fail at really becoming a modern democracy--and collapse right back into the fascism it had pioneered. Socialism, in the way of public goods, is the one thing that, by equalizing societies, prevents and mitigates fascism, just as it has done in Europe, where, of course, thanks to global economic stagnation, it has risen too, but has been much, much more successfully fended off. Nobody in London, Paris, or Berlin is killing people at synagogues and sending bombs to the opposition, inspired by a demagogue, who preaches hate in the open, after all.

So what was likely to happen when fascism began to rear its ugly head again in America--driven by a sense of frustration, the very first time after the end of segregation that the economy stagnated? People were likely not to see it as a monster at all. They’d been taught that “fascism” was socialism, not the echoes of slavery and segregation, supremacy, the notion that ethnic and racial hierarchies should order societies, all of which might be repellent but were to be tolerated as “free speech” and the “debate of ideas” and so on, expressed openly, everywhere. Over and over again, American received one message: socialism equals fascism, but INSTITUTIONALIZED SUPREMACY does not.

So, quite naturally, when the classical sequence of fascist collapse began--comically textbook style, no less--demagogue, demonization, scapegoating, camps, trials, mass violence--neither intellectuals nor populace could quite anticipate, comprehend, or prevent any of it. Instead, they were shocked, every single day, more or less. “How can this be happening to us?” They cried. “We are better than this!” they shouted--even as the mass killings began.

But we were the ones who invented fascism to begin with, and, in perpetual denial of that terrible fact, remained altogether too comfortable with its expressions, ideals, and component thoughts. We had to tell ourselves it was the one thing it had never been at all--but that made it altogether too easy to stay just that thing. That’s always the price of denial, isn’t it?

So funnily, ironically, tragically, the sequence of fascist collapse began, picked up steam, and soon enough had wrecked the nation’s norms, values, institutions, rules, codes, expectations--and all this was because America, trying to run away from the ugly truth, made itself impotent to slow it, stop it, reverse it, too. If you think socialism is fascism, after all--you will fight socialism, but let fascism flourish.

And that is exactly what America’s politicians, intellectuals, thinkers, and pundits did, at the crucial moment, upon the election of a demagogue. “The real threat to us is Medicare for all! And what about Hillary’s emails? Who cares if he calls some dirty, filthy Mexicans names? Grow up!!”

Society had been constructed by now on a terrible and stupid lie. Socialism was fascism, but supremacy never had been. Therefore, hate, spite, and violence, built to enforce hierarchies of personhood, were never really rooted out of society, torn up, and turned into dust for history to spread over the ocean. Soon enough, the hierarchies demanded the violence they always did. “The intruders and the subhumans”, cried the bomber and the gunman, “are taking what is ours!! We must put them back in their place, with the fist, the knife, the bullet!” The sad truth is that could just as easily have been settlers and slavers talking about the native American or the black, too.

Fascism didn’t come to America. It didn’t even come back to America. It was born here, nourished here with centuries of slavery and segregation--hence, the Nazis learned it from us--and only slumbered a few short decades, while Americans told themselves proudly that the real monsters were not the people they had once been, but the people they did not want to be.

It’s hard to face the truth of yourself. The guilt and shame and fear that come with it. Is this really who I am? And yet until and unless you do--you will stay just that person. If you ask me, that is what the lie that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t, has done to America. Made it incapable of ever really changing very much.

Fascism? It’s this, my friends. The rule of violence, committed to establish hierarchies of personhood, with the intent of institutionalizing them, with a little bit more intimidation and fear every day. The lie that fascism isn’t this, but socialism, is what the phase of turmoil America is collapsing into now, day by day, a little more explosively, almost inevitable. And I wonder--and you should too--whether we have learned anything yet. Umair
October 2018

America Is Committing War Crimes and Doesn’t Even Know Why

Foreign Policy, 8-15-18

The United States has spent far more time obscuring its role in the Saudi-led war in Yemen than in explaining any rationale for it.


Institutionalized Evil Policies

I Pledge Allegiance to the United States of Sociopathy

By Elizabeth Keyes, February 05, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, Shadow of a Doubt, spunky, recent high school grad Teresa Wright discovers her beloved uncle is a serial killer.

Wright’s subsequent efforts to protect herself and others from psychopathic Joseph Cotten are continually frustrated by the extraordinary denial of her family and her community lost in the “thrall” of the worldly, smooth-talking Uncle Charlie.

Heartbroken and distraught, she must contend with her uncle’s violent agenda while being obstructed by a naive and vulnerable community of his enablers and/or soon to be victims.

Wright’s horrifying predicament resonates as I witness my – our – psychopathic uncle – UNCLE SAM, the U.S. government – perpetrate violent crime upon crime against humanity enabled by a maddening, morally mute, over-trusting, under-informed and/or indifferent citizenry.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully wrap my mind or heart around the profound lack of outrage and empathy among government leaders from both corporate parties, the corporate media, as well as the vast majority of my fellow citizens at the ongoing atrocities of the Global War on Terror (more accurately, the “US Global War of Terror”) and the “regime change” covert and/or overt operations initially and sinisterly described as “humanitarian interventions.”

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 seemingly justified a “gloves off” bloodlust defiance by the political and military “guardians” of America of the legal and moral pillars of our democracy. All these years since, the mandates for constitutional and moral justice “for all” have gone unheeded.

The Iraq war was launched illegally and with manipulative lies. Bush’s torture program was in total opposition to constitutional, international and moral law. Its perpetrators deserved serious prosecution.

The Geneva Conventions were ratified once upon a time by a U.S. Congress. Habeas corpus, in place since 1679, so cavalierly suspended with the GWOT’s “anything goes” rationale.

When such gobsmacking evil manifests on such a collective and global level for such a sustained amount of time, it deserves a serious analysis by those of us still spiritually awake enough to protest it.

At this point in my concerned citizenship, I am moving beyond anger into an awe of the scope of the – well – I call it downright and seriously unchallenged EVIL. Looking for a more clinical term than that? How about patriarchal psychopathology?

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter acknowledged the long trail of U.S. international war crimes as well as the lack of historical and current accountability by this government, corporate media and its citizenry for them.

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening . . . You have to hand it to America . . . masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Speaking of bottom-line and minimized evil, the specter of torture has reared its ugly head once again with President Donald Trump, an unabashed torture enthusiast, and the confirmation of his choice for Director of the CIA, “Bloody Gina” Haspel, notorious overseer of a secret black prison in Thailand where brutal torture was conducted. She was readily confirmed by a combination of Democratic and Republican senators. Senators, no doubt, who after fearful years of being labeled “too soft on terror” were not about to stick their necks out for decency and morality.

Too many of my fellow citizens, terminally influenced by an amoral corporate media, I am nonetheless at a loss for their easy acceptance of torture.

A Pew Research poll released in 2017 revealed that 48% of the US citizenry believed that some circumstances could justify the use of torture, and 49% maintained there were no circumstances that would ever justify it.

Every other US citizen is thumb’s up for the use of torture!

How disturbing over the last decade for the use of torture to be normalized and decriminalized by the military, citizenry, politicians, media, and those government lawyers who early on cravenly defied the obvious spirit of basic “Golden Rule” morality, the Constitution, and international law, to minimize the savagery of torture with euphemistic labels still parroted by much of the corporate media and or applied as fig leaves over the reprehensible.

“Enhanced interrogation techniques.” Thank you, New York Times. They are monstrous methods of inflicting debilitating psychological and physical anguish on victims even at times to the point of death. Techniques that, along with being illegal and immoral, are universally regarded as unreliable. They are reliable only in generating false confessions (which apparently was one of the goals of the original, craven perpetrators).

Torture is wrong. It is evil.

Reading Jacob Weisberg’s book, The Bush Tragedy, I learned that the main ego-armature for George W. Bush during his Yale University years was his participation in the fraternity culture.

Weisberg discloses that when “W” finally became head of a fraternity, he “ruled” at one point that lowly pledges be branded with real, Texas branding irons as part of their hazing.

When the Yale Daily News got wind of Bush’s sadistic and zealous intention, it disclosed it to the entire university community. The Yale administrative patriarchs immediately huddled together to deal with the negative P.R. (I’m guessing that far outweighed the actual physical or psychological welfare of the targeted pledges.)

The patriarchs’ solution? Rein in Mr. Bush, whose sociopathy they presumably minimized as an impish, “boys-will-be-boys”-ness. With the proverbial wink and nod, they insisted young Bush forego the branding irons and instead ONLY make use of scalding metal coat hangers or lit cigarettes to burn freshman flesh.

Say what?

Problem solved? This Yale incident foreshadowed and undoubtedly helped foster the ultimate creation of the craven and covert torture program by Bush and cabal, particularly with the ever-Satanic Dick Cheney.

The green-lighting of that more modest degree of torture speaks volumes of a troubling, profoundly unempathetic – sociopathic— macho-mindset within the deepest, most influential halls of America’s supposed intellectual and ruling class elite and mentors of said elite. They enabled and abetted young, already morally-deranged Master Bush, instead of role modeling and enforcing boundaries of basic human decency.

Just another rite of male passage? No wonder our American culture is so violent.

Andy Worthington, a prime advocate for victimized prisoners of Gitmo once reminded his audience during a NYC anti-war forum that in 2007 it was Senator Obama who declared:

“In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantánamo, we have compromised our most precious values. What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power.”

President Obama posed as a person of character most convincingly. It got him the White House. Twice.

Obama took no responsibility for his breathtaking, 180-degree reversals of golden promises of anti-Bush reform, pre-election.

The most obvious and necessarily immediate reforms that he failed to act on were the restoration of habeas corpus rights and the prosecution of the perpetrators of the clandestine Bush torture program, of those who had most reprehensibly exploited the post-9/11 fear, outrage and vengeance sensibility of much of the citizenry.

Obama’s policy decisions instead included deadly drone warfare, assassination kill lists, unlimited due-process-less detentions, military tribunals, countless corporate wars and U.S. military (corporate-opportunistic) garrisoning; and the continuation of Gitmo and God only knows what other black sites.

Obama’s posture was of an always rhetorically amiable and faux-reasonable Roman emperor with thumb’s up or down power over life and death. Many of his “subjects” adored him.

“We tortured some folks,” he finally admitted with a shrug at a press conference. As if it was not a colossally serious deal.

“Folks”? Now there’s a friendly word.

This is heart-of-darkness territory. Obama chose to become an enabler of violators of human rights and then a violator of them himself. To add to the horror, Obama so readily was enabled by the media in this, the vast majority of Congress, and the vast majority of citizens.

Does the cult of celebrity in America overwhelm basic human decency? It seems so.

Do U.S. leaders as diverse (but all amoral) as Bush, Obama and Trump, along with callous political cronies, military leaders and media, only need to repeat the word “terror” enough times to have so much of America fall into a “do with us, our money, or anyone else whatever depraved, anti-humanity behavior you want” kind of swoon?

“To torture or not to torture” not only a hot news media topic, but fodder for jingoistic and sensationalized movies and TV shows (as the normalization of torture steamrolls on).

Loyalty and admiration for the troops (no matter what war crimes they may be committing) and/or blind trust in a national administrative and military authority should not override human decency. American “exceptionalism” should not override identifying and ending war criminality. It does.

The status quo establishment in America has us locked into perpetual war with untold mass global deaths and maiming and ever-increasing economic hardship for all humanity except for a tiny percentage of transnational elites.

A paradigm shift from a “profits over people” patriarchy to the humanism of partnership and cooperation is the answer, but that would require decisions based on a U.S. leadership, a U.S. media and a U.S. society that seriously honored empathy, justice and the law.

Ours do not.

Scott Peck asserts in his book, People of the Lie, that mental health is “dedication to reality at all costs.” This healthy sense of reality includes an in-touchness with one’s inner reality and a respect for the reality of others. It requires the capacity to fully think and FEEL.

This “feeling capacity” – including and especially EMPATHY — seems most vulnerable to dysfunction in our society and world, among both leaders and followers.

Feelings are profoundly under-valued in our U.S. society, and this feeling dysfunction is at the heart (or lack thereof) of the existing suffering and injustice.

Alice Miller, in her book For Your Own Good, refers to a “poisonous pedagogy” that can infect a society. She explains that that was what made the “good” (as in compliant) German population easy prey for the authoritarianism of Hitler.

Miller emphasizes that the capacity for empathy is not linked to one’s intelligence. She points out that both Hitler and Stalin had enthusiastic, highly intellectual followers.

If one is not able to respond with authentic feelings and thoughtful consideration to real life situations involving oneself or others, one is susceptible to “enthrallment” to the will of a toxic and controlling leader, asserts Miller.

She also contends that unprocessed trauma in one’s childhood, that is, when children are exposed to profound degrees of non-empathy from adult caretakers, will cause a crippling or shutting down of their feeling capacity later in adult life along with the potential of a sudden dismantling of their own will for the will of another. Miller explains that such trauma undoubtedly also happened to the original destructive caretakers during their childhoods in a continuing, generational cycle of dysfunction.

When trauma goes unprocessed by feelings, that is, it stays unfelt and un-grieved, it induces one to over-identify with an aggressor and enter his or her “thrall” later in adulthood. Also, such conditioning can induce one to project one’s negative feelings about oneself onto others as scapegoats. People with a disordered feeling capacity cannot handle and take mature responsibility for whatever guilt, shame, anger, frustration gets triggered within them in the present and must deflect it.

In People of the Lie, Scott Peck discusses the experiments of Dr. Stanley Milgram at Yale in 1961 which revealed how people were so readily intimidated by an authority in a white coat that they willingly would inflict what they thought were disabling electric shocks on strangers without question. Six out of 10 of the tested humans were willing to inflict serious harm on strangers from their own over-conditioning to the will of authority figures.

Peck emphasizes how obedience is the foundation of military discipline. “A follower is never a WHOLE person,” he maintains. Tragically, most people are far more comfortable in the “follower” role, leaving the responsibility and decision-making to those who step forward as leaders. When ruthless, reckless, immature, even sociopathic persons assume leadership positions, especially in an authoritarian system, the results can be tragic.

He also contends that a lack of conscience in human beings is partly due to “specialization”, a detachment from responsibility. One regards oneself as simply playing a role in a group scenario and thus can easily pass the “moral buck” so-to-speak to another part of the group. Troops shooting foreign civilians with a kind of “video-game aloofness”, for example will rationalize: “We don’t kill the people. Our weapons do. Whoever gave us these weapons and instructions are really responsible for the killing. Not us.”

Another example he cites is of how weapons manufacturers, sellers, lobbyists, etc. feel no personal responsibility for the consequences of violence from the weapons they distribute. The moral decision as to the use of the weapons is not part of their “specialized” roles. (And the financial profits are just too damn juicy to consider otherwise.)

Peck also cites the regressive shutting down of authentic and appropriate feelings in people due to a phenomenon called “psychic numbing.” The mind has the ability to anesthetize itself from feelings in the face of trauma. “The horrible becomes normal,” he writes.

Finally, he explains that groups bond often within a collectively egotistical groupthink by circling the proverbial wagons against a common, demonized enemy. “The other.” Scapegoating occurs when a group collectively projects the “badness” of themselves, too difficult to fathom, onto others.

James Lucas in an article for globalresearch.com back in 2015 declared that the United States has killed approximately 20 million people in 37 countries since the end of World War II.

How many of us can actually begin to feel and process the utter enormity of such a revelation? (One thinks of a quote attributed to the profoundly non-empathetic Joseph Stalin: “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.”)

What say you to 20 million, America? Look what our UNCLE SAM has wrought.

Can we as a nation cultivate a collective capacity for “empathy”? A critical mass of us reached a breakthrough of collective conscience during the Vietnam era (though it took us long enough, admittedly).

Can each of us dedicate ourselves to a “reality at all costs” awareness for our individual as well as collective mental health?

The fast hardening of soft fascism seems to be happening with little conscious struggle among the masses who seem convinced we non-elites can get away with staying passive and will be supported by our corporate-captured politicians and media.

Can we face down and acknowledge the relentless criminality of our government and representatives (who are not really OUR representatives).

If such crimes are not acknowledged, called out and then accounted for they will continue and escalate in number and nature. Even more frightening, more and more and more “good” Americans will succumb to this “normalization” of evil.

Confronting evil is daunting. Confronting mass and institutionalized evil all the more so. Sickening. Spiritually exhausting. It even has been said to biologically weaken one’s thymus gland that supports the body’s immune system.

We must detach from seductive “cronyism” with authoritarians or authoritarian followers and encourage others to do so.

We must explore the details of what is going on in our citizen name, with our tax dollars and especially with our vulnerable, patriotic and earnest young who can become tragically confounded by and induced to perpetrate institutionalized evil policies.

We owe it to ourselves and our world to stay whole and awake as citizens. To speak truth to power. Once again, “a follower is not a whole person” as Scott Peck declared.

“This is why the individual is sacred. For it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”

It has been said there are three types of people in this world. A smallish group of people who make things happen. A larger group of people who watch things happen. (I am thinking, of those “good people who do nothing.”) And finally the third, excessively large and clueless group, exclaiming, “WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED???”

Let’s try to shrink the second and third groups and expand the first by getting up and exercising those consciences.

This article was originally published by "Counterpunch" -










Sanctions Now WMDs

Russia, China, Iran & Venezuela developing crypto to challenge US financial control – study

By RT, July 12, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

A new report by the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) says the US’ geopolitical adversaries are deploying blockchain technology to help avoid sanctions and counter US financial power.

According to the FDD, with the increase of adoption of cryptocurrencies around the world, efforts are underway to build new systems for transferring value that work outside of conventional banking infrastructure.

Governments in Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela are experimenting with the technology that underpins the crypto market, said the report. They are prioritizing blockchain technology as a “key component of their efforts to counter US financial power.”

The efforts of the four nations go beyond mere sanctions evasion, according to the report, which said that they “seek to reduce the potency of unilateral and multilateral sanctions by developing alternative payment systems for global commerce.”

The authors of the report noted that the US position of influence is not necessarily permanent.

"Technology has created a potential pathway to alternative financial value transfer systems outside of US control. The target timeline may be two to three decades, but these actors are developing the building blocks now. They envision a world in which cryptocurrency technology helps them eclipse US financial power, much the way that the dollar once eclipsed the British pound."

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America's War on Venezuela

By Garikai Chengu, January 31, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded..

American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.

Over the past five years, American sanctions have cut Venezuela off from most financial markets, which have caused local oil production to plummet. Consequently, Venezuela has experienced the largest decline in living standards of any country in recorded Latin American history.

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded. During the same time period in America, it has been the absolute reverse. President Chavez funneled Venezuela’s oil revenues into social spending such as free+6 healthcare, education, subsidized food networks, and housing construction.

In order to fully understand why America is waging economic war on the people of Venezuela one must analyse the historical relationship between the petrodollar system and Sanctions of Mass Destruction: Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an Oil For Dollars agreement that would change the course of history and become the root cause of countless wars for oil. Under this petrodollar agreement the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar. The Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family’s regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something truly great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendancy of the United States as the world’s sole superpower. America’s war machine runs on, is funded by, and exists in protection of oil.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last two decades Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Over time the petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world’s only superpower, despite being a staggering $23 trillion in debt.

With billions of dollars worth of minerals in the ground and with the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela should not only be wealthy, but her people the envy of the developing world. But the nation is essentially broke because American sanctions have cut them off from the international financial system and cost the economy $6 billion over the last five years. Without sanctions, Venezuela could recover easily by collateralizing some of its abundant resources or its $8 billion of gold reserves, in order to get the loans necessary to kick-start their economy.

In order to fully understand the insidious nature of the Venezuelan crisis, it is necessary to understand the genesis of economic sanctions. At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcast through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage. The political backlash forced U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: economic sanctions.

The term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) was first defined by the United Nations in 1948 as

"atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above."

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century’s deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

In 2001, the U.S. administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. In fact, America already knew that the only weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had were not nuclear in nature, but rather chemical and biological. The only reason they knew this in advance was because America sold the weapons to Saddam to use on Iran in 1991.

What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that Saddam Hussein used to be a strong ally of the United States. The main reason for toppling Saddam and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq was the fact that Iraq had ditched the Dollar-for-Oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton’s sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America’s top foreign policy official, Albright, replied:

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Clearly, U.S. sanctions policies are nothing short of state-sanctioned genocide.

Over the last five years, sanctions have caused Venezuelan per capita incomes to drop by 40 percent, which is a decline similar to that of war torn Iraq and Syria at the height of their armed conflicts. Millions of Venezuelans have had to flee the country. If America is so concerned about refugees, Trump should stop furthering disastrous foreign policies that actually create them. Under Chavez, Venezuela had a policy of welcoming refugees. President Chavez turned Venezuela into the wealthiest society in Latin America with the best income equality.

Another much vilified leader who used oil wealth to enrich his people, only to be put under severe sanctions, is Muammar Gaddafi. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his quest to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. Dollars and denominate crude sales in a new gold backed common African currency. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold-backed Dinar currency.

Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the petrodollar system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which the United Nations Children’s Fund said caused widespread suffering among civilians by “severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are weapons of mass destruction.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, U.S. Military intervention and economic sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world’s most failed nations.

"They want to seize Libya's oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people," remarked Chavez during the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.

In September 2017, President Maduro made good on Chavez’s promise to list oil sales in Yuan rather than the US dollar. Weeks later Trump signed a round of crippling sanctions on the people of Venezuela.

On Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions that essentially steal $7 billion from Venezuela’s state owned oil company. At that press conference Bolton brazenly flashed a note pad that ominously said “5,000 troops to Colombia”. When confronted about it by the media, Bolton simply said,

"President Trump stated that all options are on the table."

America’s media is unquestionably the most corrupt institution in America. The nation’s media may quibble about Trump’s domestic policies but when it comes to starting wars for oil abroad they sing in remarkable unison. Fox News, CNN and the New York Times all cheered the nation into war in Iraq over fictitious weapons of mass destruction, whilst America was actually using sanctions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people. They did it in Libya and now they are doing it again in Venezuela. Democracy and freedom have always been the smoke screen in front of capitalist expansion for oil, and the Western Media owns the smoke machine. Economic warfare has long since been under way against Venezuela but military warfare is now imminent.

Trump just hired Elliot Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, who has a long and torrid history in Latin America. Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair, which involved America funding deadly communist rebels, and was the worst scandal in the Reagan Era. Abrams was later pardoned by George Bush Senior. America’s new point man on Venezuela also lied about the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history by U.S. trained forces in El Salvador.

There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état. A UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, pointed out that America’s aim in Venezuela is to “crush this government and bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations.”

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world’s top creditor country to the world’s most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system’s huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending.

America’s largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America’s largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation like Venezuela that threatens that export is met with America’s second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

This article was originally published by "Global Research"

In Case You Missed it - Reposted From December 2006 - Why We're at War? Confessions of a USA Economic Hit Man, Meet John Perkins

By Sam Elfassy, January 29, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", blows the lid of US imperiliasm and provides the reasons as to why it is at war in the Middle East.

Since his book was published, and his famous interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now TV, where he also describes more of the US ugly deeds against the innocent Iranian people, John Perkins has worked to get the truth out in every possible way.

Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars - in US government service.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he writes how he helped the US cheat poor countries around the world by blackmailing them to borrow more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.

Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard Professor, John E. Mack, writes about the book: "One of the most important stories of our time… a work of great insight, moral courage and transformational depth…a page turner about the ruthlessness with which the United States uses economic manipulation and political coercion to extend our power and control over other nations".

Perkins writes: "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. THEY WERE ASSASSINATED BECAUSE THEY OPPOSED THAT FRATERNITY OF CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT, AND BANKING HEADS WHOSE GOAL IS GLOBAL EMPIRE. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in".

Here is a three part speech given to the Veterans For Peace National Convention, Seattle, WA, in late 2006.




Rattling Cages in the Propaganda War

By Mike Maharrey

It appears I have rattled some cages.

I recently appeared on RT to talk about how the United States weaponizes the dollar and wields it like a billy club to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives. I specifically mentioned how the U.S. can use the dollar-denominated SWIFT payment system as a tool and the threat that this kind of economic warfare poses to the U.S. domestic economy.

A couple of days after the interview, I got a somewhat contentious email from Voice of America asking for my comment because they are “fact-checking” the web story RT published based on my interview. VoA is a U.S. government-funded and operated media outlet.

The fact-checking arm of VoA (polygraph.info), asked if RT quoted me accurately. (They did.) The Polygraph reporter then stated, “We suspected there might be some inaccuracy because any expert on SWIFT would surely know that while the US has sought to influence it, it is primarily a European and European-based institution, which would of course limit the US’ ability to ‘use’ it as a weapon as the article states.”

SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The system enables financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized environment. Since the dollar serves as the world reserve currency, SWIFT facilitates the international dollar system.

SWIFT and dollar dominance give the U.S. a great deal of leverage over other countries.

I didn’t respond to the Polygraph request because it’s clear that I am going to be cast in a bad light and my statements questioned. And I can tell you before they publish their article at least one fact they will present. They will tell you, “A U.S Treasury Department official confirmed to Polygraph.info that the U.S. does not control who SWIFT removes from its system.”

I know VoA will say this because it already has. I pulled that line from a 2017 VoA fact-check on a story relating to SWIFT locking a Russian bank out of the payment system.

It is undeniable that SWIFT has been used to support U.S. economic sanctions. A March 2019 article by Reuters reported on plans by Russian banks to “retain at least short-term access to the global financial system in the event that they are hit by fresh U.S. sanctions.”

"The two biggest threats to the banking sector in Russia are being cut off from the SWIFT banking messaging system and losing access to foreign currency, which they usually get from U.S. banks via correspondent accounts."

A Bloomberg article in November 2018 reported on SWIFT blocking access to Iranian banks and the fear that the same policy could be used against other countries. Bloomberg cites SWIFT officials indicating that the U.S. government put pressure on the payment system.

"The U.S. has ramped up sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and banking sectors as part of the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against the Islamic Republic. Swift has said its move is in the interest of keeping the global financial system stable after senior U.S. officials said that it could be penalized if it authorizes payments between sanctioned entities."

Eurasia Review elaborated on the story, quoting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who told reporters that SWIFT is no different than any other financial institution.

"We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure."

So, despite what VoA and the Treasury Department claim, the U.S. government clearly pressures SWIFT to serve as a foreign policy tool. It may be technically accurate to say the U.S. government does not “control” SWIFT. But the U.S. clearly applies political pressure on the institution and that pressure yields results. There is enough worry about this in other countries, including Russia and China, that there are verifiable and concerted efforts to find alternative outside of the dollar-denominated system.

The Treasury Department’s statement to VoA about its control over SWIFT feels a little like claims of Federal Reserve “independence” we get from government officials and central bankers pretending the Fed operates outside and above any kind of political pressure or influence. We all know that’s utter bullshit.

What about this assertion that SWIFT is primarily a European and European-based institution and that shields it from any kind of U.S. influence?

It is true that the Belgium-based organization operates under EU law. But as the Eurasia Review article points out, SWIFT’s board includes executives from U.S. banks subject to U.S. laws, “allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe.”

"Washington’s pressure has pushed Brussels to look at creating a SWIFT alternative. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the European Union to set up an independent equivalent of the system."

If the EU maintained significant control over the SWIFT system, why did it feel the need to create a payment alternative to SWIFT in order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran? Why didn’t the EU assert its influence on this “European-based” institution and insist that it allow transactions with Iran to continue unhindered?

The new payment system called INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) will allow France, Britain and Germany, along with other EU nations, to continue trade with Iran outside of the dollar-based SWIFT payment system. When EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the plan, she said the new payment channel would allow companies to preserve oil and other business deals with Iran despite U.S. sanctions.

The creation of an EU alternative to SWIFT gives you a pretty strong indication about who holds the biggest sway over SWIFT.

RT receives funding from the Russian government and there’s no question it has an editorial bias slanted toward Russian interests. But every major media organization has its bias. If you don’t think U.S. corporate media like Fox News, CNN and the New York Times have an agenda heavily influenced by U.S. “interests,” you live in a fantasyland.

The fact the VoA feels the need to “fact-check” the RT article based on my interview indicates that I have stumbled over a narrative the U.S. government doesn’t want getting into the mainstream. That doesn’t make the narrative untrue.

The fact is the U.S. uses the dollar as a foreign policy weapon. End of story.

Not only that, debt monetization by the Federal Reserve makes American interventionist wars possible. U.S. wars since 2001 have cost each American taxpayer $23,000. if they had actually had to write a $1352.94 check to the Pentagon every year for the last 17 years, the foreign wars would have ended long ago. Thanks to the Fed, they don’t have to.

This economics of war and intervention undermine the U.S. economy and makes it vulnerable. The U.S. government has already run up more than $22 trillion in debt and counting. There is a limit to the amount of debt it can take on, and the central bank’s ability to effectively print money. At some point, the economic house of cards will collapse.

You may think the intervention and aggressive U.S. foreign policy is necessary. Regardless, you need to count the cost. But the government doesn’t even want you to know a cost exists.

This article was originally published by " Tenth Amendment Center"

America’s Respectable War Criminals

By Rev. William Alberts, June 23/24, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

A Boston Globe story highlights Wellesley College alumnae Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s return to the College for their 60th and 50th respective reunions. The story states that “their early days at Wellesley College were marked by uncertainty and feeling out of place.” But they “overcame their trepidation and went on to illustrious careers including serving as the country’s top foreign diplomat under different presidents.” Wellesley College president Paula A. Johnson asked them questions for over an hour, with the audience giving “Albright and Clinton an enthusiastic reception, including three standing ovations.” What created the enthusiastic response? Albright and Clinton “urged the audience to speak up and take action to protect democracy from the threat of fascism under President Trump.” (“At Wellesley, Madeleine and Hillary Clinton encourage protest, political action.,” By Laura Crimaldi, June 9, 2019)

“Speak up and take action to protect democracy.” Okay. The country certainly needs to be protected from “the threat of fascism under President Trump.” But such honoring of Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton’s “illustrious careers” is quite a commentary on The Boston Globe and Wellesley College and the selective morality of many Americans. Trump can serve to distract attention from war crimes committed by other, respectable, U.S. political leaders, among them Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.

Consider Madeleine Albright. The U.N. imposed draconian sanctions on Iraq, pushed by the U.S. and Britain after it invaded Kuwait. Before that, in 1989 Iraq was reported to have “one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, as well as universal, free healthcare and education.” (“Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq,” johnpilger.com, 1-15-05) Iraq’s remarkable health was due to President Saddam Hussein nationalizing the country’s vast oil resources, and investing certain of its revenue in the Iraqi people. This policy did not set well with Western oil corporations, which saw Iraq’s bountiful oil reserves as a gold mine to be controlled and tapped.

The sanctions prevented Iraq from importing supplies of food and medicine and other necessities. A survey by two scientists, Drs. Mary Smith Fawzi and Sarah Zaidi, found that "as many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council." ("Iraqi Sanctions, Kill Children, U.N. Reports," By Barbara Crossette, The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1995)

In 1996, President Bill Clinton's U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes with reporter Lesly Stahl, who said, "We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And - you know, is the price worth it?" Albright replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it." ("The price is worth it," By Edward S. Herman, msuweb.montclair.edu) Evidently the harsh criticism she received led her to apologize for her words years later, but not for the brutal sanctions against Iraq she helped to enforce as America's U.N. Ambassador.

Edward S. Herman, now deceased American economist, media scholar and social critic, wrote that "the ratio of dead Iraqi children to deaths in the WTC/Pentagon bombings was better than 80 to 1," but "the mainstream media and intellectuals have not found Albright's rationalization of this mass killing of any interest whatsoever." Their interest is about "who" not "why." Herman asked, "Is it not morally chilling, even a bit frightening, that he [a liberal historian] and the great mass of citizen compatriots, can focus with such anguish and indignation on their own 6,000 dead, while ignorant of, or not caring about, or approving his (their) own government's ongoing killing of scores of times as many innocents abroad?" He also said, "Because the media make the suffering and death of 500,000 children invisible, the outrage produced by the intense coverage of the WCT/Pentagon bombing victims does not surface on their behalf. . . . The media . . . are not interested in root causes." Herman concluded, "This reflects the work of a superb propaganda system." (Ibid)

Evidently the Wellesley College president did not ask former U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright questions about the U.S.-driven U.N. sanctions and the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children. The "superb propaganda system" was obviously on display at Wellesley College — and in The Boston Globe.

Nor could Osama bin Laden's words penetrate America's "superb propaganda system." He wrote a "letter to America," in which, he cited the "whys" of the 9/11 attacks. Among the U.S. government's sins against Muslim nations: "You have starved the Muslims in Iraq, where children die every day," he said. "It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet," he continued, "when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down." ("Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America,'" The Guardian, Nov. 24, 2002)

The U.S. government's answer to Osama bin Laden was to send a Special Forces team to silence him, killing him in his compound — as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others watched his assassination, and also the killing of three men and a woman, from the safety of the White House's Situation Room. Bin Laden's body was then dumped into the sea – to prevent his burial in a known grave where mourners could gather and be inspired to engage in more protests against U.S. imperialistic policies. (See "Death of Osama bin Laden Fast Facts," CNN Library, www.cnn.com, April 18, 2019)

The assassination of Osama bin Laden is merely one example of The U.S. government silencing people who dare to expose America's war crimes. In an extensive In These Times article on "The Crackdown on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange Is About Protecting U.S. Empire," Chip Gibbons writes about the fates of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange: "army Intelligence analyst Manning shared massive troves of Iraq and Afghanistan War logs with Assange, who released them. Videos showed American soldiers' needless killing of Iraqi civilians, in what WikiLeaks called "Collateral Murder." Gibbons cites American journalist Dahr Jamail's report from Iraq: "The WikiLeaks cables from Iraq displayed the brutality of U.S. polices that were ongoing throughout the occupation." (May 14, 2019)

Chip Gibbons also quotes "Phillis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies." She stated that "the Afghan War Logs 'were crucially important,' as they showed 'Afghanistan was and is a real country where hundreds of thousands, millions of people with no connection to 9/11 would be killed or see their lives and families destroyed.'" Gibbons also pointed out: "The Guantanamo leaks revealed the U. S government knowingly held 150 innocent men." (Ibid)

Mr. Gibbons states that "this massive insight into U.S. foreign policy apparatus showed 'the world according to U.S. empire.' But," he said, "for much of mainstream U.S. media, there is little if any true reckoning with the civilian cost of war." And "exposing the U.S. empire comes at a cost. . . . WikiLeaks is currently in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, because it challenged this secrecy head on."(Ibid)

Chelsea Manning spent seven years in prison, before President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence. But she is back in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange. Assange himself in now in a British prison, after being hounded and spending seven years in refuge in Ecuador's Embassy in London. The U.S, is eager to have him extradited, to face a number of charges under the Espionage Act, with his case possibly used to erode press freedom by criminalizing journalists who expose governmental crimes for the public good.

Enter Hillary Clinton. Her 2016 presidential campaign was victimized by WikiLeaks disseminating communications obtained from her campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Her response to Assange's arrest: "I think it is clear from the indictment that came out it's not about punishing journalism, it is about assisting in the hacking of a military computer to steal information from the United States government." ("Hillary Clinton says Assange 'has to answer for what he's done,'" By Julie Gallagher, CNN, April 12, 2019) Never mind that the "information" hacked was about the U.S. government's concealed war crimes.

Hillary Clinton also said about Julian Assange's indictment: "The bottom line is he needs to 'answer for what he's done.'" (Ibid) Clinton herself needs to answer for what she's done. In 2002, she voted to authorize the George W. Bush administration's falsely-based, unnecessary, illegal invasion of Iraq, and still needs to answer for contributing to that horrible, unending war crime. Obviously, Wellesley College President Johnson did not ask Clinton about the reported "4,500 American soldiers killed and thousands more permanently disabled, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; the destabilization of the region with the rise of ISIS; and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs." ("Clinton's Iraq War Vote Still Appalls," by Stephen Zunes, progressive.org, April 14, 2016)

During her run for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton expressed regret for her Iraq war vote when New York senator. An obvious and strategically voiced regret, because the basis for invading Iraq, Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, had long been proven a lie peddled by the George W. Bush administration. The reported reality then: "Clinton ignored information provided by U.N. inspectors, reports by independent strategic analysts, and articles in reputable arms control journals that challenged the administration's claims." (Ibid) The 2016 election demanded moral hindsight from Clinton.

Hillary Clinton's immoral "foresight" is seen in her response to Libya as Secretary of State. In the Black Agenda Report, Solomon Comissiong, educator and founder of the Your World News Media Collective, writes that Clinton and President Obama "orchestrated the destruction of what was once the African nation with the highest living standards – Libya!" Clinton especially "was a strong proponent and vocal cheerleader of the barbaric bombing of Libya, a bombing campaign that destroyed tens of thousands of civilian lives." As a result, "Libya continues to be submerged in a quagmire of slavery of Black Africans, civil war, death and destruction." ("How Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Contributed to Libya's Slavery Crisis," Dec. 6, 2017) And Libyan refugees have flooded European countries.

Along with "bombing Libya into oblivion," Mr. Comissiong states that the Obama administration used "racist and terrorist rebel groups to do their dirty deeds on their ground." These groups "often targeted Black Africans for rape, torture and public lynching simply because they were seen as allies of Muammar Gaddafi – who had provided a safe haven for those same Black Africans." (Ibid)

Mr. Comissiong says that the justification for toppling President Muammar Gaddafi was based on a lie: "that he “was planning to murder Libyan civilians." His real sins included being "resistant to the United States' neo-colonial machinations with Africom," and calling for a United State of Africa. . . . just the kind of leader and (Libyan Jamahiriya) government the United States hates and loves to overthrow." Comissiong concludes "Both parties are unapologetic imperialists, hell-bent on global domination." (Ibid)

Noun. Jamahiriya (uncountable) (historical) State of the masses; people's republic; the form of the Libyan state ruled by Muammar Gaddafi from 1977-2011, during which time it was known first as the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya then as the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. - Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton provides a window into her own soul in response to learning that Col. Muammar Gaddafi has been captured by rebel forces, beaten and sodomized by a bayonet. In a CBS News interview, she gleefully said, "We came, we saw, he died" – then raised her hands in laughter. ("Hillary's War Crime," By Paul Craig Roberts, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct. 24, 2016)

There are a number of respectable American war criminals – on both sides of the aisle. Former vice president and now leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, along with 28 other Democratic senators, voted to authorize then President George W. Bush's criminal invasion of Iraq. There is Bush himself, who used his Jesus "changed my heart" profession of faith and lies about President Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction to justify his preemptive war against Iraq. And he is still respectable, with a library and museum named after him at Southern Methodist University, and dominant media covering his commentary on President Trump's falsehoods and nativism.

Add President Bush's still respectable Vice President, Dick Cheney [aka Darth Vader], who also falsely charged Iraq with having weapons of mass destruction and was a strong advocate for war. Cheney later wrote a memoir, "In My Time," that was a #1 New York Times best seller.

Include respectable Gen. Colin Powell, Bush's Secretary of State, who lied to the U.N. about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, thereby selling the U.N. Security Council on the case for war. His book, "It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership," is billed as written by "one of America's most admired figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir."

Then there is respectable President Barack Obama, whose use of drone warfare has killed countless civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Somalia. Obama also created a "kill list," giving himself the presidential authority to order the assassination of anyone without due process, including Americans, who are suspected of terrorism. Innocent children became victims of Obama's "kill list" and drone warfare. Sixteen-year-old American Abdulrahman, son of American Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and the youth's teenage cousin and other innocent friends, were killed in Yemen by an Obama-ordered CIA drone strike, just two weeks after America-radicalized cleric al-Awlaki was assassinated and silenced in Yemen, also by a CIA drone strike. (See "Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister," By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Jan 30, 2017)

Like George W. Bush's Presidential Library and Museum at SMU, Obama will have his Barack Obama Presidential Center near the University of Chicago campus.

President Donald Trump followed in President Obama's respectable footsteps, ordering a Navy Seal 6 commando raid in Yemen, that resulted in the killing of "30 people including 10 women and children," one of whom was "the 8 year-old daughter . . . of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki." (Ibid) Trump specializes in brutalizing powerless children and their families for political gain, hence his 2020 presidential campaign vow to deport "millions of illegal aliens." With Iran also in his psychopathic lying sights. The list of respectable America war criminals continues.

These respectable American war criminals reveal that many Americans live in an alternative reality, where their government’s war crimes, if ever mentioned by mainstream media, are usually called “mistakes,” and rarely investigated or persistently challenged. In calling America "the greatest nation on earth" and "the exceptional nation" and saying "Make American Great Again," Presidents Bush and Obama and Trump are attributing to America a moral superiority, which conveniently serves to cover up the U.S. government's imperialistic war crimes. A moral superiority which many Christians especially have been conditioned to believe because of their own exceptional Christian self-image. People need to be morally diminished to justify their subjugation.

Respectable American war criminals count on respectable people of faith. These political leaders could not get away with their war crimes and then be honored in high – and holy — places without the accommodation of people of faith. This is not to discount the immeasurable good works people of faith perform. But when it comes to speaking truth to the U.S. government’s criminal global wars against so-called “terrorism,” more often than not people of faith remain respectable chaplains of the status quo, rather than prophets of all the people. It is about power, not morality.

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

This article was originally published by "CounterPunch"

Exporting Dictators

The U.S. government, as of 2017 provided military "aid" to 73% of the world's dictatorships.

By David Swanson, April 16, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

The U.S. government gets little credit for it, doesn’t even like to brag about it, but as of 2017 provided military “aid” to 73% of the world’s dictatorships. Ocassionally, the U.S. turns against one of its dictators and chooses that moment to tell everyone about him: Hussein, Noriega, Gadaffi, Assad. Sometimes it loses a dictator for other reasons: the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak.

Sometimes the U.S. imposes a U.S. dictator on a foreign colony: as historically in the Philippines, or Haiti, Chile, or post-“liberation” Iraq. More often it selects and trains, imposes and props up a dictator from within the population of “natives” or “savages.” And sometimes such a dictator spends many years in the United States preparing and awaiting opportunity.

When I heard that Juan Guaido, a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had proclaimed himself president of Venezuela, I was reminded that his fellow GW (and Harvard and Princeton) graduate Syngman Rhee was flown to South Korea by the United States government and put in charge of the place, and given the power to commit massive atrocities — the greatest of which was pushing the Korean peninsula into war. Does George Washington University recruit students with promises of small distant countries in which to have life-and-death power over the primitives?

Then Khalifa Haftar hit the news again. This guy lived in Falls Church, Virginia, from around 1990 to 2007, and Vienna, Virginia, until 2011. If you’re not from Fairfax County, Virginia, you should know that you could practically topple over a pyramid of naked Muslim prisoners on the roof of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and land some of them in Falls Church or Vienna. Haftar was exported to Libya multiple times during those years in failed attempts to take the place over. His latest attempt has been ongoing since the United States exported him in 2011. Maybe there is an area of U.S. exports other than weaponry that is increasing.

Haftar is not unique. The D.C. area harbors a number of dictators in waiting less well known than Mike Pence. There’s Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan and various other members of the Afghan royal family. There’s Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last dictator whom the United States imposed on Iran from 1953 to 1979. Pahlavi lives in Potomac, Maryland, (across the river from Langley) and openly advocates for an overthrow of the Iranian government (because 1953 has worked out so well?) or, as the Washington Post puts it, “runs an advocacy association that is outspoken about the need for democracy in his home country.”

Now, call me crazy, but I’d like to leave it up to the people of Iran to run their own country, free of sanctions, lies, and threats. But the dictator-export industry does not seem to me to be completely without value. Surely there must be some place to which — despite his troubled apprenticeship — we can now export Donald Trump.

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache: Examining the Freak Show,

By Fred Reed, February 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

He feels sadistic delight at starving Venezuelans, inciting civil war, and ruining the lives of millions who have done nothing wrong.

ICH image

American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren’t crazy. Today’s administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And–this is important–their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America. It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

Donald the Cockatoo

Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this. All politics being herd politics, the population has coalesced into herds fanatically pro-Trump and fanatically anti-Trump. Yet Trump’s past is not a secret. Well-documented biographies describe his behavior in detail, but his supporters don’t read them. The following is a bit long, but worth reading.

From The Making of Donald Trump, Johnston, David Cay. (p. 23). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

“I always get even,” Trump writes in the opening line of that chapter. He then launches into an attack on the same woman he had denounced in Colorado. Trump recruited the unnamed woman “from her government job where she was making peanuts,” her career going nowhere. “I decided to make her somebody. I gave her a great job at the Trump Organization, and over time she became powerful in real estate. She bought a beautiful home.

“When Trump was in financial trouble in the early nineties…..”I asked her to make a phone call to an extremely close friend of hers who held a powerful position at a big bank and would have done what she asked. She said, “Donald, I can’t do that.” Instead of accepting that the woman felt that such a call would be inappropriate, Trump fired her. She started her own business. Trump writes that her business failed. “I was really happy when I found that out,” he says.

“She had turned on me after I did so much to help her. I had asked her to do me a favor in return, and she turned me down flat. She ended up losing her home. Her husband, who was only in it for the money, walked out on her and I was glad. Over the years many people have called me asking for a recommendation for her. I always gave her bad recommendation. I can’t stomach disloyalty. ..and now I go out of my way to make her life miserable.“

All that because (if she exists) she declined to engage in corruption for the Donald. That is your President. A draft dodger, a pampered rich kid, and Ivy brat (Penn, Wharton). This increasingly is a pattern at the top: Ivy, money, no military service.

Pussy John Bolton

A particularly loathsome sort of politician is one who dodges his country’s wars when of military age, and then wants to send others to die in later wars. This is Pussy John, arch hawk, coward, amoral, bully, willing to kill any number while he prances martially in Washington. Speaking as one who carried a rifle in Viet Nam, I would like to confine this fierce darling for life in the bottom of a public latrine in Uganda.

Pussy John, an Ivy flower (Yale) wrote in a reunion books that, during the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” In an interview, Bolton explained that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because “by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from.”

This same Pussy John, unwilling to risk his valuable being in a war he could have attended, now wants war with Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. In these wars millions would die while he waggled his silly lip broom in the West Wing. His truculence is pathological and dangerous.

Here is PJ on Iran: which has not harmed and does not threaten America: “We think the government is under real pressure and it’s our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. “As the British say, ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

How very brave of him. He apparently feels sadistic delight at starving Venezuelans, inciting civil war, and ruining the lives of millions who have done nothing wrong. Whence the weird hostility of this empty jockstrap, the lack of humanity? Forgot his Midiol? Venezuela of course has done nothing to the US and couldn’t if it wanted to. America under the Freak Show is destroying another country simply because it doesn’t meekly obey. While PJ gloats.

Bush II

Another rich kid and Yalie, none too bright, amoral as the rest, another draft dodger, (he hid in the Air National Guard.) who got to the White House on daddy’s name recognition. Not having the balls to fight in his own war, he presided over the destruction of Iraq and the killing of hundreds of thousands, for no reason. (Except oil, Israel, and Empire. Collectively, these amount to no reason.) He then had the effrontery to pose on the deck of an aircraft carrier and say, “Mission accomplished.” You know, just like Alexander the Great. Amoral. No empathy. What a man.

The striking pattern of the Ivy League avoiding the war confirmed then, as it does now, that our present rulers regard the rest of America as beings of a lower order. These armchair John Waynes might have called them “deplorables,” though Hillary, another Yalie bowwow hawk, had not yet made the contempt explicit. This was the attitude of Pussy John, Bushy-Bushy Two, and Cockatoo Don. Compare this with the Falklands War in which Prince Andrew did what a country’s leadership should do, but ours doesn’t..

Wikipedia: “He (Prince Andrew) holds the rank of commander and the honorary rank of Vice Admiral (as of February 2015) in the Royal Navy, in which he served as an active-duty helicopter pilot and instructor and as the captain of a warship. He saw active service during the Falklands War, flying on multiple missions including anti-surface warfare, Exocet missile decoy, and casualty evacuation”

The Brits still have class. Compare Andrew with the contents of the Great Double-Wide on Pennsylvania Avernus.

Gina

A measure of the moral degradation of America: It is the only country that openly and proudly engages in torture. Many countries do it, of course. We admit it, and maintain torture prisons around the globe. Now we have a major government official, Gina Haspel, head of the CIA, a known sadist. “Bloody Gina.” Is this who represents us? Would any other country in the civilized world put a sadist publicly in office?

Think of Gina waterboarding some guy, or standing around and getting off on it. You don’t torture people unless you like it. The guy is tied down, coughing, choking, screaming, begging, desperate, drowning, and Gina pours…more water. The poor bastard vomits, chokes. Gina adds a little more water….

What kind of woman would do this? Well, Gina’s kind obviously. Does she then run off to her office and lock the door for half an hour? Maybe it starts early. One imagines her as a little girl, playing with her dolls. Cheerleader Barbie, Nurse Barbie, Klaus Barbie….

Michael Pompeo

Another pathologically aggressive chickenhawk. In a piece in Foreign Affairs he describes Iran as a “rogue state that America must eliminate for the sake of all that is good. Note that Pompeo presides over a foreign policy seeking to destroy Venezuela’s economy and threatens military invasion, though Venezuela is no danger to the US and is not America’s business; embargoes Cuba, which in no danger to the US and is not America’s business; seeks to destroy Iran’s economy, though Iran is no danger to the US and none of Americas business; sanctions Europe and meddles in its politics; sanctions Russia, which is not a danger to the United States, in an attempt to destroy its economy, pushes NATO up to Russia’s borders, abandons the INF arms-control treaty and establishes a Space Command which will mean nuclear weapons on hair trigger in orbit, starts another nuclear arms race; wages a trade war against China intended to prevent its economic progress; sanctions North Korea; continues a seventeen-year policy of killing Afghans for no discernible purpose; wages a war against Syria; bombs Somalis; maintains unwanted occupation forces in Iraq; increasingly puts military forces in Africa; supports regimes with ghastly human-rights records such as Saudi Arabia and Israel; and looks for a war with China in the South China Sea, which is no more America’s business than the Gulf of Mexico is China’s.

But Pompeo is not a loon, oh no, and America is not a rogue state. Perish forfend.

Nikki Haley

A negligible twit–I choose my vowel carefully–but characterized, like Trump, PJ, and Pompeo, by loyalty to Israel and wild combativeness. She seemed less dangerous than just embarrassing. Like the rest of this administration, she threatened war and retribution against any countries that did not obey the United States–not that she would put her own rounded pink sit-down ion the line n a war. That is for deplorables.

“Mad Dog” Mattis

“After being promoted to lieutenant general, Mattis took command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. On February 1, 2005, speaking at a forum in San Diego, he said “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”

Perhaps in air-to-air combat you want someone who regards killing as fun, or in an amphibious assault. But in a position to make policy? Can you image Dwight Eisenhower talking about the fun of squaring a man’s brains across the ground?

The Upshot

We have until recently never had government as aggressive, reckless, or psychiatrically fascinating as now. Again, it is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats. No administration of any party, stripe, or ideology has ever pushed to aggressively toward war with so many countries. These people are not right in the head.

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper’s, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers. He is by all accounts as looney as a tune. https://fredoneverything.org

N.C. election officials: Harris operative collected and falsified ballots, then tried to obstruct state investigation, 2-18

RALEIGH, N.C. — State election officials in North Carolina said Monday that a political operative for Republican Mark Harris orchestrated a “coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme” in the 9th Congressional District last year, hiding evidence of the operation as it unfolded and obstructing the state’s investigation after the election.

War With China? It’s Already Under Way

By Michael T. Klare, February 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

Even before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the U.S. military and other branches of government were already gearing up for a long-term quasi-war.

In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk of a conflagration was substantial. Like much current analysis of U.S.-Chinese relations, however, he missed a crucial point: for all intents and purposes, the United States and China are already at war with one another. Even if their present slow-burn conflict may not produce the immediate devastation of a conventional hot war, its long-term consequences could prove no less dire.

To suggest this means reassessing our understanding of what constitutes war. From Allison’s perspective (and that of so many others in Washington and elsewhere), “peace” and “war” stand as polar opposites. One day, our soldiers are in their garrisons being trained and cleaning their weapons; the next, they are called into action and sent onto a battlefield. War, in this model, begins when the first shots are fired.

Well, think again in this new era of growing great-power struggle and competition. Today, war means so much more than military combat and can take place even as the leaders of the warring powers meet to negotiate and share dry-aged steak and whipped potatoes (as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping did at Mar-a-Lago in 2017). That is exactly where we are when it comes to Sino-American relations. Consider it war by another name, or perhaps, to bring back a long-retired term, a burning new version of a cold war.

Even before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the U.S. military and other branches of government were already gearing up for a long-term quasi-war, involving both growing economic and diplomatic pressure on China and a buildup of military forces along that country’s periphery. Since his arrival, such initiatives have escalated into Cold War-style combat by another name, with his administration committed to defeating China in a struggle for global economic, technological, and military supremacy.

This includes the president’s much-publicized “trade war” with China, aimed at hobbling that country’s future growth; a techno-war designed to prevent it from overtaking the U.S. in key breakthrough areas of technology; a diplomatic war intended to isolate Beijing and frustrate its grandiose plans for global outreach; a cyber war (largely hidden from public scrutiny); and a range of military measures as well. This may not be war in the traditional sense of the term, but for leaders on both sides, it has the feel of one.

Why China?

The media and many politicians continue to focus on U.S.-Russian relations, in large part because of revelations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 American presidential election and the ongoing Mueller investigation. Behind the scenes, however, most senior military and foreign policy officials in Washington view China, not Russia, as the country’s principal adversary. In eastern Ukraine, the Balkans, Syria, cyberspace, and in the area of nuclear weaponry, Russia does indeed pose a variety of threats to Washington’s goals and desires. Still, as an economically hobbled petro-state, it lacks the kind of might that would allow it to truly challenge this country’s status as the world’s dominant power. China is another story altogether. With its vast economy, growing technological prowess, intercontinental “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, and rapidly modernizing military, an emboldened China could someday match or even exceed U.S. power on a global scale, an outcome American elites are determined to prevent at any cost.

Washington’s fears of a rising China were on full display in January with the release of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, a synthesis of the views of the Central Intelligence Agency and other members of that “community.” Its conclusion: “We assess that China’s leaders will try to extend the country’s global economic, political, and military reach while using China’s military capabilities and overseas infrastructure and energy investments under the Belt and Road Initiative to diminish U.S. influence.”

To counter such efforts, every branch of government is now expected to mobilize its capabilities to bolster American -- and diminish Chinese -- power. In Pentagon documents, this stance is summed up by the term “overmatch,” which translates as the eternal preservation of American global superiority vis-à-vis China (and all other potential rivals). “The United States must retain overmatch,” the administration’s National Security Strategy insists, and preserve a “combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success,” while continuing to “shape the international environment to protect our interests.”

In other words, there can never be parity between the two countries. The only acceptable status for China is as a distinctly lesser power. To ensure such an outcome, administration officials insist, the U.S. must take action on a daily basis to contain or impede its rise.

Starving Venezuela into Submission

By Israel Shamir, February 13, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid.

“So many delightful goodies: sacks of rice, canned tuna and protein-rich biscuits, corn flour, lentils and pasta, arrived at the border of troubled Venezuela – enough for one light meal each for five thousand people”, – reported the news in a sublime reference to five thousand fed by Christ’s fishes and loaves.

True, Christ did not take over the bank accounts and did not seize the gold of those he fed. But 21st century Venezuela is a good deal more-prosperous than 1st century Galilee. Nowadays, you have to organise a blockade if you want people to be grateful for your humanitarian aid.

This is not a problem. The US-UK duo did it in Iraq, as marvelous Arundhati Roy wrote in April 2003 (in The Guardian of old, before it turned into an imperial tool): After Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged… the blockade and war were followed by… you guessed it! Humanitarian relief. At first, they blocked food supplies worth billions of dollars, and then they delivered 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid and celebrated their generosity for a few days of live TV broadcasts. Iraq had had enough money to buy all the food it needed, but it was blocked, and its people received only some peanuts.

And this was rather humane by American standards. In the 18th century, the British colonists in North America used more drastic methods while dispensing aid to disobedient natives. The Red Indians were expelled from their native places, and then they were provided humanitarian aid: whiskey and blankets. The blankets had been previously used by smallpox patients. The native population of North America was decimated by the ensuing epidemics from this and similar measures. Probably you haven’t heard of this chapter of your history: the USA has many Holocaust museums but not a single memorial to the genocide near home. It is much more fun to discuss faults of Germans and Turks than of your own forefathers.

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposed by John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) “And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese”. Or, rather, “we could offer to do [that] at the conference table.” Planning a million dead by starvation, in writing: if such a note would be found on the ruins of the Third Reich, it would seal the story of genocide, it would be quoted daily. But the story of the genocide of the Vietnamese is rarely mentioned nowadays.

They did it in Syria, too. At first, they brought weapons for every Muslim extremist, then they blockaded Damascus, and then they sent some humanitarian aid, but only to the areas under rebel control.

This cruel but efficient method of breaking nations’ spirit has been developed by lion tamers for years, perhaps for centuries. You have to starve the beast until it will take food from your hands and lick your fingers. 'Starvation-taming', they call it.

The Israelis practice it in Gaza. They block all export or import from the Strip, interdict fishing in the Mediterranean and drip-feed the captive Palestinians by ‘humanitarian aid’. Jews, being Jews, make it one better: they made the EU to pay for the humanitarian aid to Gaza AND to buy the aid stuff from Israel. This made Gaza an important source of profit for the Jewish state.

So in Venezuela they follow an old script. The US and its London poodle seized over 20 billion dollars from Venezuela and from Venezuelan national companies. They stole over a billion in gold ingots Venezuela had trustingly deposited in the cellars of the Bank of England.

Well, they said they will give this money to a Venezuelan Random Dude, rather. To the guy who already promised to give the wealth of Venezuela to the US companies. And after this daylight robbery, they bring a few containers of humanitarian aid to the border and wait for the rush of bereft Venezuelans for food.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted:

"The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE."

Venezuelans aren’t starving, even though they are going through difficulties. The biggest noise is made by the wealthy, as always. If Pompeo wants to help Venezuelans, he might lift the sanctions, return the funds, lift the blockade. The biscuits he wants to provide are of but little use.

President Maduro is right when he refuses to let this hypocrisy bribe the stomachs and hearts of his people. It is not just that he remembers his Virgil and knows, Timeo danaos et dona ferentes, “beware gift-bearing Greeks.” There are too many American and Colombian soldiers around the pending delivery place, and this place is suspiciously close to an airport with an extra-long runway suitable for a an airlift.

The US is known for its propensity to invade its neighbours: Panama was invaded in 1989 to keep the Panama Canal in American hands and to roll back the agreement signed by the good-hearted President Jimmy Carter. President George Bush Sr sent his airborne troops in after calling Panama president “a dictator and cocaine smuggler”. This is exactly what President Trump says about Venezuela’s president.

They are likely to use this aid to invade and suborn Venezuela. Wisely, Maduro began large military exercises to prepare the army in case of invasion. The situation of Venezuela is dire enough even without invasion. Their money has been appropriated, their main oil company is as good as confiscated; and there is a strong fifth column waiting for Yankees in Caracas.

This fifth column consists mainly of compradors, well-off young folk with a smattering of Western education and upbringing, who see their future within the framework of the American Empire. They are ready to betray the unwashed masses and invite the US troops in. They are supported by the super-rich, by representatives of foreign companies, by Western secret services. Such people exist everywhere; they tried to organise the Gucci Revolution in Lebanon, the Green Revolution in Iran, the Maidan in the Ukraine. In Russia they had their chance in the winter of 2011/2012 when their Mink-Coat Revolution was played at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Heath.

In Moscow they lost when their opponents, the Russia-First crowd, bettered them by fielding a much-bigger demo at Poklonnaya Hill. The Western news agencies tried to cover the defeat by broadcasting pictures of the Putin-supporters demo and saying it was the pro-Western Heath. Other Western agencies published pictures of 1991 rallies saying they were taken in 2012 on the Heath. In Moscow, nobody was fooled: the mink-coat crowd knew they were licked.

In the Ukraine, they won, for President Yanukovich, a hesitant and pusillanimous man of two minds, failed to gather massive support. It is a big question whether Maduro will be able to mobilise Venezuela-First masses. If he is, he will win the confrontation with the US as well.

Maduro is rather reticent; he hasn’t disciplined unruly oligarchs; he does not control the media; he tries to play a social-democrat game in a country that is not Sweden by long shot. His subsidies have allowed ordinary people to escape dire poverty, but now they are used by black marketeers to siphon off the wealth of the nation. Far from being a disaster zone, Venezuela is a true Bonanza, a real Klondike: you can fill a tanker with petrol for pennies, smuggle it to neighbouring Colombia and sell it for market price. Many supporters of the Random Guy have made small fortunes this way, and they hope to make a large killing if and when the Americans come.

A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can’t produce. Now they can’t buy and they do not produce. Imagine a democratic Saudi Arabia hit by blockade.

In order to save the economy, Maduro should drain the swamp, end the black market and profiteering, encourage agriculture, tax the rich, develop some industry for local consumption. It can be done. Venezuela is not a socialist state like orderly Cuba, nor a social-democratic one like Sweden and England in 1970s, but even its very modest model of allowing the masses to rise out of misery, poverty and ignorance seems too much for the West.

It is often said there are two antagonists in the West, the Populists and the Globalists, and President Trump is the Populist leader. The Venezuela crisis proved these two forces are united if there is a chance to attack and rob an outsider country. Trump is condemned at home when he calls his troops back from Afghanistan or Syria, but he gains support when he threatens Venezuela or North Korea. He can be sure he will be cheered on by Macron and Merkel and even by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He has the real WMD, the Weapons of Mass Deception, to attack Venezuela, and these WMD had been activated with the beginning of the creeping coup. When a rather unknown young politician, the leader of a small neoliberal rabidly pro-American fraction in the Parliament, Random Dude, claimed the title of president, he was immediately recognised by Trump, and the Western media reported that the people of Venezuela went out in mass demos to greet the new president and demand Maduro’s removal.

They beamed videos of huge Caracas demos back to Venezuela. Not many viewers abroad noticed that the video was old, filmed in 2016 demos, but the Venezuelans saw that at once. They weren’t fooled. They knew that there is no chance for a big protest demo on that day, the day of a particularly important baseball game in the professional league between Leones of Caracas and Cardenales de Lara from Barquisimeto.

But the WMD kept lying. Here is a report by Moon of Alabama: the reports of large anti-government rallies are fake news or prophecies hoping to become self-fulfilling ones:

AFP news agency:

Tens of thousands of protesters are set to pour onto the streets of Venezuela's capital #Caracas Saturday to back opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections as international pressure increased on President #Maduro to step down

That was at 7:10am local time in Caracas, several hours before the rally took place. Such “predictive reporting” is now supposed to be “news”. A bit later AFP posted a video

They lie that there are army deserters spoiling for a fight with the army. The young guys CNN presented weren’t deserters, and they didn’t live in Venezuela. Even their military insignia were of the kind discarded years ago, as our friend The Saker noticed.

However, these lies won’t avail – my correspondents in Caracas report that there are demos for and against government (for Maduro slightly bigger crowds), but the feelings aren’t strong. The crisis is manufactured in Washington, and the Venezuelans aren’t keen to get involved.

That’s why we can expect an American attempt to use force, preceded by some provocation. Probably it won’t be a full-blown war: the US never fought an enemy that wasn’t exhausted prior to the encounter. If the Maduro administration survives the blow, the crisis will take a low profile, until sanctions do their work and further undermine the economy.

In this struggle, President Trump is his own bitter enemy. He seeks approval of the War Party, and his own base will be disappointed by his actions. His sanctions will send more refugees to the US, wall or no wall. He undermines the unique status of the US dollar by weaponising it. In 2020, he will reap what he sow.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net.

This article was originally published by "The Unz Review."-

ICH, 2-14-19

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela, 2-10

A Case of News-Suppression All Across the Mainstream Media


By Eric Zuesse, Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all US and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the UN General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public.

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the UN’s General Assembly received the report from the UN’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel th[r]ough both countries focused on "how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries."

He "noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone."

He noted "that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services." However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

AU travel: Do not travel to Venezuela due to the unstable political
and economic situation, food, water, medicine and petrol shortages and
high levels of violent crime. Many hospitals are closed. Power and water outages are common.

29. …Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being "weaponized" against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [UN] resolution 2625 (XXV): "no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State".

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through "fake news", aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights "end" justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill.


41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military "humanitarian intervention".

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it "is still a high-income country ... and as such is not eligible".

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called "protagónica", is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter'48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.


48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on "hate speech" and "incitement". Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly:

(g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?

(h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law....

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain's Independent headlined "Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens", and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

Mapa de regiones naturales (Venezuela) - Wikimedia

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to "crimes against humanity" under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in "economic warfare" against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself "interim president" of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him...

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government ministers, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup...

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed...

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country...

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions...

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under…

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a "humanitarian crisis" are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being "weaponised" to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more "palatable"...

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they're not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

Important Notes

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the US empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.

Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the UN needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the UN’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the UN itself.

On January 23rd, Germany's Die Zeit headlined "Christoph Flü:gge: 'I am deeply disturbed': The UN International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flü:gge: Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges". Flü:gge: especially cited US President Trump's agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain's Guardian, bannered "International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference".

This news-report said that, "A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN's international courts in The Hague citing 'shocking' political interference from the White House and Turkey." The judge especially criticised Bolton:

The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat." Flü:gge said that the judges on the court had been "stunned" that "the US would roll out such heavy artillery."

Flü:gge told the Guardian: "It is consistent with the new American line: ‘'e are No 1 and we stand above the law'."

On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn't get any of the major-media sites to publish it), "A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria", and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the US Government and press (what he called America's "frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers") apply in order to report the 'news' about Syria.

So: how can the public, in a country such as the US, democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity

No Hay Comida = There is no food

In Venezuela, White Supremacy is a Key to Trump’s Coup


By Greg Palast, February 10, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela, 2-10

A Case of News-Suppression All Across the Mainstream Media

By Eric Zuesse, Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all US and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the UN General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public.

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the UN’s General Assembly received the report from the UN’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel th[r]ough both countries focused on "how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries."

He "noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone."

He noted "that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services." However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

29. …Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being "weaponized" against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [UN] resolution 2625 (XXV): "no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State".

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through "fake news", aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights "end" justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill.

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military "humanitarian intervention".

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it "is still a high-income country ... and as such is not eligible".

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called "protagónica", is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter'48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on "hate speech" and "incitement". Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly:

(g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?

(h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law....

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain's Independent headlined "Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens", and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to "crimes against humanity" under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in "economic warfare" against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself "interim president" of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him...

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government ministers, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup...

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed...

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country...

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions...

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under…

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a "humanitarian crisis" are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being "weaponised" to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more "palatable"...

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they're not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

Important Notes

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the US empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.

Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the UN needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the UN’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the UN itself.

On January 23rd, Germany's Die Zeit headlined "Christoph Flü:gge: 'I am deeply disturbed': The UN International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flü:gge: Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges". Flü:gge: especially cited US President Trump's agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain's Guardian, bannered "International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference".

This news-report said that, "A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN's international courts in The Hague citing 'shocking' political interference from the White House and Turkey." The judge especially criticised Bolton:

The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat." Flü:gge said that the judges on the court had been "stunned" that "the US would roll out such heavy artillery."

Flü:gge told the Guardian: "It is consistent with the new American line: ‘'e are No 1 and we stand above the law'."

On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn't get any of the major-media sites to publish it), "A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria", and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the US Government and press (what he called America's "frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers") apply in order to report the 'news' about Syria.

So: how can the public, in a country such as the US, democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity


AU travel: Do not travel to Venezuela due to the unstable political
and economic situation, food, water, medicine and petrol shortages and
high levels of violent crime. Many hospitals are closed. Power and water outages are common.

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America's War on Venezuela

By Garikai Chengu, January 31, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded..

American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.

Over the past five years, American sanctions have cut Venezuela off from most financial markets, which have caused local oil production to plummet. Consequently, Venezuela has experienced the largest decline in living standards of any country in recorded Latin American history.

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded. During the same time period in America, it has been the absolute reverse. President Chavez funneled Venezuela’s oil revenues into social spending such as free+6 healthcare, education, subsidized food networks, and housing construction.

In order to fully understand why America is waging economic war on the people of Venezuela one must analyse the historical relationship between the petrodollar system and Sanctions of Mass Destruction: Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an Oil For Dollars agreement that would change the course of history and become the root cause of countless wars for oil. Under this petrodollar agreement the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar. The Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family’s regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something truly great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendancy of the United States as the world’s sole superpower. America’s war machine runs on, is funded by, and exists in protection of oil.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last two decades Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Over time the petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world’s only superpower, despite being a staggering $23 trillion in debt.

With billions of dollars worth of minerals in the ground and with the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela should not only be wealthy, but her people the envy of the developing world. But the nation is essentially broke because American sanctions have cut them off from the international financial system and cost the economy $6 billion over the last five years. Without sanctions, Venezuela could recover easily by collateralizing some of its abundant resources or its $8 billion of gold reserves, in order to get the loans necessary to kick-start their economy.

In order to fully understand the insidious nature of the Venezuelan crisis, it is necessary to understand the genesis of economic sanctions. At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcast through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage. The political backlash forced U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: economic sanctions.

The term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) was first defined by the United Nations in 1948 as

"atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above."

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century’s deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

In 2001, the U.S. administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. In fact, America already knew that the only weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had were not nuclear in nature, but rather chemical and biological. The only reason they knew this in advance was because America sold the weapons to Saddam to use on Iran in 1991.

What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that Saddam Hussein used to be a strong ally of the United States. The main reason for toppling Saddam and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq was the fact that Iraq had ditched the Dollar-for-Oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton’s sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America’s top foreign policy official, Albright, replied:

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Clearly, U.S. sanctions policies are nothing short of state-sanctioned genocide.

Over the last five years, sanctions have caused Venezuelan per capita incomes to drop by 40 percent, which is a decline similar to that of war torn Iraq and Syria at the height of their armed conflicts. Millions of Venezuelans have had to flee the country. If America is so concerned about refugees, Trump should stop furthering disastrous foreign policies that actually create them. Under Chavez, Venezuela had a policy of welcoming refugees. President Chavez turned Venezuela into the wealthiest society in Latin America with the best income equality.

Another much vilified leader who used oil wealth to enrich his people, only to be put under severe sanctions, is Muammar Gaddafi. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi’s greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his quest to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. Dollars and denominate crude sales in a new gold backed common African currency. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold-backed Dinar currency.

Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the petrodollar system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which the United Nations Children’s Fund said caused widespread suffering among civilians by “severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are weapons of mass destruction.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, U.S. Military intervention and economic sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world’s most failed nations.

"They want to seize Libya's oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people," remarked Chavez during the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.

In September 2017, President Maduro made good on Chavez’s promise to list oil sales in Yuan rather than the US dollar. Weeks later Trump signed a round of crippling sanctions on the people of Venezuela.

On Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions that essentially steal $7 billion from Venezuela’s state owned oil company. At that press conference Bolton brazenly flashed a note pad that ominously said “5,000 troops to Colombia”. When confronted about it by the media, Bolton simply said,

"President Trump stated that all options are on the table."

America’s media is unquestionably the most corrupt institution in America. The nation’s media may quibble about Trump’s domestic policies but when it comes to starting wars for oil abroad they sing in remarkable unison. Fox News, CNN and the New York Times all cheered the nation into war in Iraq over fictitious weapons of mass destruction, whilst America was actually using sanctions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people. They did it in Libya and now they are doing it again in Venezuela. Democracy and freedom have always been the smoke screen in front of capitalist expansion for oil, and the Western Media owns the smoke machine. Economic warfare has long since been under way against Venezuela but military warfare is now imminent.

Trump just hired Elliot Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, who has a long and torrid history in Latin America. Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair, which involved America funding deadly communist rebels, and was the worst scandal in the Reagan Era. Abrams was later pardoned by George Bush Senior. America’s new point man on Venezuela also lied about the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history by U.S. trained forces in El Salvador.

There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état. A UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, pointed out that America’s aim in Venezuela is to “crush this government and bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations.”

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world’s top creditor country to the world’s most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system’s huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending.

America’s largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America’s largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation like Venezuela that threatens that export is met with America’s second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

This article was originally published by "Global Research"

Top 5 Dumbest Arguments Defending Trump’s Venezuela Interventionism, 1-26

1. "Socialism is bad!"

This one is easily the most common and most stupid of all the arguments I’ve been receiving. I’m not familiar enough with pro-Trump punditry to be able to describe how the MAGA crowd got it into their heads that attacking Venezuela has something to do with fighting socialism, but it’s clear from my interactions over the last couple of days that that is the dominant narrative they’ve got swirling around in their collective consciousness.

2. "It's not interventionism! There are no boots on the ground."

Oh yes it is interventionism. Crushing economic sanctions, CIA covert ops, illegally occupying embassies, and a campaign to delegitimize a nation’s entire government are absolutely interventionism, and that is happening currently. It’s stupid to make “boots on the ground” your line in the sand when, for example, vast amounts of US resources can easily be poured into fomenting a “civil” war that could kill hundreds of thousands and displace millions as we saw with Syria.

The shabbiest U.S. president ever is an inexpressibly sad specimen, George Will, 1-18-19

Half or a quarter of the way through this interesting experiment with an incessantly splenetic [bad-tempered; spiteful, angry, wrathful, cross, peevish, petulant] presidency, much of the nation has become accustomed to daily mortifications. Or has lost its capacity for embarrassment, which is even worse.

If the country’s condition is calibrated simply by economic data — if, that is, the United States is nothing but an economy — then the state of the union is good. Except that after two years of unified government under the party that formerly claimed to care about fiscal facts and rectitude, the nation faces a $1 trillion deficit during brisk growth and full employment....

The president has kept his promise not to address the unsustainable trajectory of the entitlement state (about the coming unpleasant reckoning, he said: “Yeah, but I won’t be here”), and his party’s congressional caucuses have elevated subservience to him into a political philosophy.

The Republican-controlled Senate — the world’s most overrated deliberative body — will not deliberate about, much less pass, legislation the president does not favor. The evident theory is that it would be lése-majesté for the Senate to express independent judgments.

And that senatorial dignity is too brittle to survive the disapproval of a president not famous for familiarity with actual policies. Congressional Republicans have their ears to the ground — never mind Winston Churchill’s observation that it is difficult to look up to anyone in that position.

The president’s most consequential exercise of power has been the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opening the way for China to fill the void of U.S. involvement. His protectionism — government telling Americans what they can consume, in what quantities and at what prices — completes his extinguishing of the limited-government pretenses of the GOP, which needs an entirely new vocabulary. Pending that, the party is resorting to crybaby conservatism: We are being victimized by “elites,” markets, Wall Street, foreigners, etc.

After 30 years of U.S. diplomatic futility regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the artist of the deal spent a few hours in Singapore with Kim Jong Un, then tweeted: “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” What price will the president pay — easing sanctions? ending joint military exercises with South Korea? — in attempts to make his tweet seem less dotty?

By his comportment, the president benefits his media detractors with serial vindications of their disparagements. They, however, have sunk to his level of insufferable self-satisfaction by preening about their superiority to someone they consider morally horrifying and intellectually cretinous.

For most Americans, President Trump’s expostulations are audible wallpaper, always there but not really noticed. Still, the ubiquity of his outpourings in the media’s outpourings gives American life its current claustrophobic feel. This results from many journalists considering him an excuse for a four-year sabbatical from thinking about anything other than the shiny thing that mesmerizes them by dangling himself in front of them.

Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life.

His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made.

His childlike ignorance — preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion — concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people, he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.

Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself. And as balm for his base, which remains oblivious to his likely contempt for them as sheep who can be effortlessly gulled by preposterous fictions. The tungsten strength of his supporters’ loyalty is as impressive as his indifference to expanding their numbers.

Either the electorate, bored with a menu of faintly variant servings of boorishness, or the 22nd Amendment will end this, our shabbiest but not our first shabby presidency. As Mark Twain and fellow novelist William Dean Howells stepped outside together one morning, a downpour began and Howells asked, “Do you think it will stop?” Twain replied, “It always has.”

UN Court Orders United States to Lift Iran Sanctions Linked to Humanitarian Goods, Civil Aviation

ICH By Mike Corder October 03, 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The United Nations' highest court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to civil aviation safety.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice is legally binding, but it remains to be seen if the administration of President Donald Trump will comply.

Trump moved to restore tough U.S. sanctions in May after withdrawing from Tehran's nuclear accord with world powers. Iran challenged the sanctions in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice.

In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must "remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from" the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.

Could Trump Take Down the American Empire?

ICH By Gareth Porter October 03, 2018

More than any other presidency in modern history, Donald Trump’s has been a veritable sociopolitical wrecking ball, deliberately stoking conflict by playing to xenophobic and racist currents in American society and debasing its political discourse. That fact has been widely discussed. But Trump’s attacks on the system of the global U.S. military presence and commitments have gotten far less notice.

Trump had entered the White House with a clear commitment to ending U.S. military interventions, based on a worldview in which fighting wars in the pursuit of military dominance has no place. In the last speech of his “victory tour” in December 2016, Trump vowed, “We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we knew nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.” Instead of investing in wars, he said, he would invest in rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.

In a meeting with his national security team in the summer of 2017, in which Secretary of Defense James Mattis recommended new military measures against Islamic State affiliates in North Africa, Trump expressed his frustration with the unending wars. “You guys want me to send troops everywhere,” Trump said, according to a Washington Post report. “What’s the justification?”

Mattis replied, “Sir, we’re doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square,” to which Trump angrily retorted that the same argument could be made about virtually any country on the planet.

Trump had even given ambassadors the power to call a temporary halt to drone strikes, according to the Post story, causing further consternation at the Pentagon.

Trump’s national security team became so alarmed about his questioning of U.S. military engagements and forward deployment of troops that they felt something had to be done to turn him around. Mattis proposed to take Trump away from the White House into “the Tank” at the Pentagon, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff held their meetings, hoping to drive home their arguments more effectively.

It was there, on July 20, 2017, that Mattis, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior officials sought to impress on Trump the vital importance of maintaining existing U.S. worldwide military commitments and deployments. Mattis used the standard Bush and Obama administration rhetoric of globalism, according to the meeting notes provided to Woodward. He asserted that the “rules-based, international democratic order”—the term used to describe the global structure of U.S. military and military power—had brought security and prosperity. Tillerson, ignoring decades of U.S. destabilizing wars in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, chimed in, saying, “This is what has kept the peace for 70 years.”

Trump said nothing, according to Woodward’s account, but simply shook his head in disagreement. He eventually steered the discussion to an issue that was particularly irritating to him: U.S. military and economic relations with South Korea. “We spend $3.5 billion a year to have troops in South Korea,” Trump complained. “I don’t know why they’re there. … Let’s bring them all home!”

At that, Trump’s chief of staff at the time, Reince Priebus, recognizing that the national security team’s effort to get control of Trump’s opposition to their wars and troop deployments had been an utter failure, called a halt to the meeting.

Those Trump complaints prompted H.R. McMaster, then the national security adviser, to call for a National Security Council meeting on the issue on Jan. 19. Trump again demanded, “What do we get by maintaining a massive military presence in the Korean peninsula?” And he linked that question to the broader issue of the United States paying for the defense of other states in Asia, the Middle East and NATO.

But such arguments made no impression on Trump, who saw no value in having troops abroad at a time when the United States itself was crumbling. “We have [spent] $7 trillion in the Middle East,” Trump said at the end of the meeting. “We can’t even muster $1 trillion for domestic infrastructure.”

Before the Singapore summit with Kim, Trump ordered the Pentagon to develop options for drawing down those U.S. troops. That idea was viewed by the news media and most of the national security elite as completely unacceptable, but it has long been well known among military and intelligence specialists on Korea that U.S. troops are not needed—either to deter North Korea or to defend against an attack across the DMZ.

Trump’s willingness to practice personal diplomacy with Kim and to envision the end or serious attenuation of the U.S. troop deployment in South Korea was undoubtedly driven in part by his ego, but it could not have happened without his rejection of the ideology of national security that had dominated Washington elites for generations.










Democracy??

Creeping Toward Tyranny

The destruction of the rule of law, an action essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state, began long before the arrival of the Trump administration.

By Chris Hedges, May 06, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

The destruction of the rule of law, an action essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state, began long before the arrival of the Trump administration. The George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and implementation of a doctrine of pre-emptive war were war crimes under international law. The federal government’s ongoing wholesale surveillance of the citizenry, another legacy of the Bush administration, mocks our constitutional right to privacy.

Assassinating a U.S. citizen under order of the executive branch, as the Obama administration did when it murdered the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, revokes due process.

The steady nullification of constitutional rights by judicial fiat — a legal trick that has enabled corporations to buy the electoral system in the name of free speech—has turned politicians from the two ruling parties into amoral tools of corporate power.

Lobbyists in Washington and the state capitals write legislation to legalize tax boycotts, destroy regulations and government oversight, pump staggering sums of money into the war machine and accelerate the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history, one that has involved looting the U.S. Treasury of trillions of dollars in the wake of the massive financial fraud that set off the 2008 economic collapse.

The ruling elites, by slavishly serving corporate interests, created a system of government that effectively denied the citizen the use of state power. This decades-long disregard by the two major political parties for the rule of law and their distortion of government into a handmaiden for corporations set the stage for Donald Trump’s naked contempt for legality and accountability. It made inevitable our kakistocracy, rule by the worst or most unscrupulous (“kakistocracy” is derived from the Greek words kakistos, meaning worst, and kratos, meaning rule).

Those in the parade of imbeciles, grifters, con artists, conspiracy theorists, racists, Trump family members, charlatans, generals and Christian fascists, all of whom often see power as a way to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer, are too many to list here. They include former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (who blamed “environmental terrorist groups” for the 2018 California wildfires, hired private jets to fly himself around the country and opened public lands for mineral and gas exploitation), former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (who held lavish dinners with the coal-mining and chemical executives whose companies he then deregulated) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

This moral swamp also contains bizarre, Svengali-like figures darting in and out of the shadows, such as Stephen Miller, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci and Omarosa Manigault Newman, not to mention paid-off porn stars and mistresses, sleazy lawyers and bungling and corrupt campaign managers.

At the center of this clown court is Trump, who, if the rule of law was in place, would have been impeached on his first day in office for violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause; by violating that prohibition, this chief executive is raking in millions from officials of foreign governments and lobbyists who stay at his hotels and resorts and use his golf courses. Trump not only does not attempt to mask his profiting from his office but in corporate promotional material says that those who stay at his properties may be able to get a photo with the president of the United States. As illustrated by the Robert Mueller report and by Attorney General William Barr’s open contempt for Congress, Trump does not even bother to pay lip service to the requirements of the law or the Constitution.

The mechanisms that once made democracy possible have withered and died. We no longer have elections free of corporate control; real legislative debate; an independent press rooted in verifiable fact that lifts up the voices and concerns of the citizens rather than peddling conspiracy theories such as “Russiagate” or cheerleading for disastrous military interventions and occupations; academic institutions that vigorously examine and critique the nature of power; or diplomacy, negotiation, détente and compromise.

Puffed up by self-importance, intoxicated by the ability to wield police and military power, despots and their grotesque courtiers are freed with the collapse of the rule of law to carry out endless vendettas against enemies real and imagined until their own paranoia and fear define the lives of those they subjugate. This is where we have come, not because of Trump, who is the grotesque product of our failed democracy, but because the institutions that were designed to prevent tyranny no longer function.

Trump will eviscerate what little legal restraint remains. The Republican Party, which has been transformed into a Trump personality cult, will not stop him. Neither will the Democratic Party leadership, which thinks Trump will be an easy target in the 2020 presidential election, a foolish mistake similar to the one Hillary Clinton made in the 2016 campaign. That the Democratic Party elites place their hope to regain power in Joe Biden, a goofy male version of Clinton, is yet another example of the colossal failure of the democratic process. It shows how out of touch the ruling elites are with the growing social inequality, economic stagnation, suffering, disempowerment and rage that afflict over half the population.

The old forms of political theater and the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that buttressed the ruling elites in the past do not work anymore. Yet, the mind-numbing presidential campaigns, begun two years before the vote and devoid of meaningful content, are once again dominating the airwaves with empty slogans and the posturing by carefully packaged political personalities.

This burlesque is anti-politics masquerading as politics. Its disingenuousness, obvious to most of the country, is what made Trump’s crude taunts and ridiculing of the system so attractive to betrayed voters. Trump may be inept, vile and a con artist, but in this system of anti-politics you vote not for what you want, but against those you hate. And the established elites, the Bushes and the Clintons, are loathed far more than Trump by most of the country.

The billions in campaign funds provided to selected candidates by the wealthy and corporations, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote, created, before the arrival of Trump on the political landscape, “a pecking order that calibrates, in strictly quantitative and objective terms, whose interests have priority. The amount of corruption that regularly takes place before elections means that corruption is not an anomaly but an essential element in the functioning of managed democracy. The entrenched system of bribery and corruption involves no physical violence, no brown-shirted troopers, no coercion of the political opposition. While the tactics are not those of the Nazis, the end result is the inverted equivalent. Opposition has not been liquidated but rendered feckless.”

Mass culture has for decades been awash in the lies skillfully disseminated by the public relations and advertising industries. These lies appeal to our vanity and insecurities. They are used to sell us products or experiences that promise an unachievable happiness. These forms of manipulation, which confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, also were adopted by political parties before Trump gained the presidency. “The result,” Wolin wrote in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spector of Inverted Totalitarianism,” “has been the pollution of the ecology of politics by the inauthentic politics of misrepresentative government, claiming to be what it is not, compassionate and conservative, god-fearing and moral.”

Armando Iannucci’s movie “The Death of Stalin,” a brilliant black comedy, captures what happens when self-interested narcissists, buffoons and gangsters make the laws and rule a state. Once power is based solely on blind personal loyalty and whim, anything, including wholesale murder, becomes possible. Rights are transformed into privileges that can be instantly revoked. Lies replace truth. Opinions replace facts. History is erased and rewritten. The cult of leadership replaces politics. Paranoia grips a ruling elite that feeds off conspiracy theories, sees mortal enemies everywhere and increasingly lives in a hermetically sealed nonreality-based universe. Force becomes the sole language despots use to communicate to a restive population and the outside world.

Despotic regimes are uninterested in, and often incapable of understanding, nuance, complexity and difference. They perpetuate themselves through constant drama and never-ending crusades against internal and external enemies that are presented as existential threats to the nation. When real enemies cannot be found, they are invented. The persecution of “undesirables” starts with the demonized—immigrants, the undocumented, poor people of color and Muslims, along with those under occupation in the Middle East or socialists in Venezuela—but these “undesirables” are only the beginning. Soon everyone is suspect.

Trump’s capricious and arbitrary decisions to remove those around him from power keep his courtiers constantly on edge. The instability fuels the vicious court intrigues that characterize all despotism. Trump’s inner circle, aware that the only criterion to remain in power is an exaggerated and obsequious personal loyalty acutely attuned to his mercurial moods and temper tantrums, base all decisions on pleasing the despot. This leads to extreme mismanagement and corruption.

The corporate capitalists who hold real power view Trump as an embarrassment. They would prefer to put a more dignified face on the American empire, one like Biden who will do their bidding with the decorum of a traditional president. But they will work with Trump. He has given them huge tax cuts, is slashing what is left of government oversight and regulation and has increased the budgets for internal security and the military.

It may be an uncomfortable relationship, as was the relationship between German industrialists and the buffoonish leaders of the Nazi Party, but for the corporate elites it is far preferable to having to deal with a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren. Capitalists, throughout history, have backed fascism to thwart even the most tepid forms of socialism. All the pieces are in place. The hollowing out of our democratic institutions, which cannot be blamed on Trump, makes tyranny inevitable.

United States Doesn't Even Make Top 20 on Global Democracy Index, By Andrea Germanos, January 17, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

A new index released this week offers a sobering look at how democracy is faring in the United States.

According to the 2018 edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, the U.S. doesn't even make the list of top 20—its demonstrably "flawed democracy" notching it the 25th spot.

The ranking is based on 60 indicators spanning five interrelated categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Each category gets a 0-10 score, with the final score being the average of those five.

Topping out the index are Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Denmark. They are each declared "full democracies," as their scores, all above 9.22, were easily above the 8.2 threshold. With a final score of 7.96, the United States, in contrast, earned the "flawed democracy" label. The country's highest score was 8.22, which it earned back in 2006 and again in 2008.

North America still holds the claim for the highest average score of any region, but that's thanks to Canada's 9.15, which landed it the number 6 spot overall. Twenty countries (12 percent) were designated as full democracies, 14 of which are located in Western Europe.

Rounding out the bottom of the list, meanwhile, are Chad, the Central African Republican, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and North Korea, with scores identifying them as "authoritarian regimes."










NSA

The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization, By Paul Craig Roberts, January 17, 2019 "Information Clearing House "

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world.

Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies?—?the intelligence agencies?—?they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of?—?internally in the US, outside is another story.”

The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) or State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD), commonly known as the Stasi was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed. - Wikipedia

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities.

How The NSA Tracks You: Former NSA Technical Director

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.










Military Spending

Saving America and the world by slashing US military spending, Dave Lindorff, NationofChange, January 18, 2019

Instead, we need to spend this huge totally wasted share of our national wealth on our own long neglected social needs and on saving this country and world from an increasingly obvious looming environmental catastrophe.

The time has come to cut the US military down to size.

Last November, the Pentagon admitted what critics have known for years: It cannot pass an audit that would let Congress, the media and taxpayers know what it does with the trillions of dollars that have been lavished on war and preparing for war by this country.

By all accounts, the US accounts for more than a third of all global military spending. The next biggest spender on its military, China, only spends a fifth as much as the U.S.. And remember, as a full-fledged police state and a country whose peripheral provinces have to be kept under tight military control lest they move towards independence from Beijing, much of China’s huge military is actually involved not in threatening other countries or even defending China, but in maintaining government control domestically.

[So how is that different than the USA?]

Let’s be honest: The United States faces no significant threat from any nation in the world.

Sure I know: Russia and even China have nuclear weapons that, if launched en masse at the U.S. could destroy this country. But everyone knows such an action would be to commit national suicide. With its vast nuclear arsenal stowed in patrolling submarines, in protected silos ready to be fired off in minutes, and in bases around the world, including some quite close to China’s and Russia’s borders, the U.S. not only could destroy both countries many times over in response, but is actually able and prepared to attack either country or both countries first, perhaps even preventing them from retaliating successfully

The reality is that it is the US which is the most threatening and destabilizing force in the world today. It is U.S. military spending, and the U.S. role as the world’s largest arms merchant, selling and giving away more than 34% of all weapons and military equipment in the global arms market to a total of 98 countries, that drives global military spending. Russia, at a puny 22% of all arms sales, is distinctly second rate in the world arms market.

None of these weapons sales by the U.S. make the world a safer place. They all, along ever-increasing spending by the U.S. on its own military, and its continuing use of that military to intervene in, invade and threaten other countries, contribute to the hugely costly and harmful effort by other nations to build up their own military in response to the U.S. and its client states.

The losers in this zero-sum game of one-upmanship are the peoples of the world, who are denied good schools, decent health care, sound economies, democratic governments, modern transport systems, and perhaps worst of all, spending on environmentally safe development of energy infrastructure that could prevent the destruction of the entire global ecosystem.

And that includes us, the people of the United States. Deliberately frightened by the amped up propaganda put out by government agencies like the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the Justice Department, we cower and accept having more than 54% of all federal discretionary spending – a sum that has reached over $1.6 trillion this year, equal to all income taxes and corporate profit taxes collected by the IRS – expropriated by the Pentagon and other “national security” agencies.

That is money that could be providing us with a first rate educational system, free college for all who desire and qualify for higher education, a modern transit system, revitalized cities, and a modern energy system based on the non-carbon-based sources like solar power, water power and geo-thermal power that would not contribute to rampaging climate change. Instead we have a school system that makes me cringe whenever I drive past a school building here in Philadelphia (the nation’s fifth largest school district) or in New York City, or when I read that only 12 percent of Los Angeles’s public school children go on to college.

It is simply madness that has led us to this point. Madness by a ruling elite that only cares about grasping an ever larger share of the national and global wealth, madness by a corporate media that cares only about gaining an ever larger share of readers/viewers even if that is achieved by offering people scare stories about health threats, crime, scary immigrants and terrorism instead of genuinely needed reports on environmental threats, political corruption and America’s true role as a rogue nation in the world, and madness among a public that has been led to believe that it has no real ability to change things except to go meekly to the polls once every two or four years to vote for carefully screened candidates of two parties controlled by corporate bribes.

I have traveled to much of the world (so far not yet Africa), and it is an eye-opener to see the incredible advances that have occurred in recent decades in previously backward countries like China, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea.

Just take China, where I lived on and off for six years in the ‘90s. During that time, Shanghai, which had no subway system in 1990, built an underground rail system as large as New York’s (400 miles of gleaming marble-and-glass subway stations and smooth, quiet tunnels), and morphed from a sleepy ruin of a colonial-era city of crumbling buildings to a huge metropolis of towering skyscrapers and international commerce, even featuring a maglev airport train that whisks passengers the for 30 miles between the international airport and the city center at almost 200 mph. Many other Chinese cities have undergone similar transformations.

I have visited European countries where citizens enjoy tax-funded universal health care at a far lower national and per capita cost than we face here in the U.S. and have well-funded government retirement schemes that allow the elderly to retire without any drop in their living standard, all the while having worked at jobs that paid them better than in the U.S. and gave them six or more weeks a year of paid vacation. Countries that also offer their nation’s youth free college education and far greater opportunities for upward social mobility than does the vaunted U.S. with its myth of “anyone can make it here.”

Why is this so? Because the US has become essentially a garrison warrior state – a kind of modern Sparta, obsessed with concepts like “global dominance,” the supposed ability to “fight and win two wars at once” (fully disproven over the past 74 years of lost and stalemated wars), with “force projection” and dreams of achieving “technological superiority.” We have become a country that lionizes generals, that applauds uniformed men and women walking through an airport waiting hall, that calls all its problematic police officers “heroes,” but that ignores its real heroes: the teachers, nurses, EMT personnel, volunteer firefighters, mail carriers, nursing home aides, artists, highway repair crews and yes, even journalists – the lowly folks who really keep the country going and make our lives possible.

If we don’t turn this situation around, renounce our obsession with violence and with war as the preferred solution to international disputes, not only will this country go the way of Sparta and Rome, both powerful states that died of self-inflicted wounds, but we will likely drag the rest of the world with us into oblivion.

The latest reports on the climate front are grim. It turns out that the world’s oceans have been for decades masking the real heating up of the globe that has been the result of humanity’s – and especially U.S. Americans’ frantic appetite for burning ever more coal, oil and gas in pursuit of goods, comfort, speed, wealth and power, absorbing as much as 93% of all the additional heat trapped by increased greenhouse chemicals in the atmosphere over the last two centuries.

Now the seas have taken on about all the extra heat they can, and we are likely to start seeing the atmosphere itself heat up dramatically. The North polar region, we know, is soon to lose its entire ice cap in summer, perhaps in a few years but in any even no later than 2030.

No less an agency than the U.S. Navy is saying this, and is being given funds by a hypocritical Congress of climate change deniers to establish a whole new Naval Fleet in the Arctic Ocean to “project power” in that newly navigable seventh of the famed Seven Seas, the better to allow U.S. energy corporations to extract even more dangerous oil and gas reserves from under the newly ice-free sea bed safe (at taxpayer expense) from challenges by competing countries with Arctic coastlines like Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark/Greenland.

Meanwhile the latest reports on Antarctica, where there is enough stored ice on land to, if it melts, raise the world’s seas by almost 200 feet, are that the ice there is melting all over the continent, not just in the western region, and that it is melting some six times faster than scientists had thought until now (even climate change-denying Fox TV is now reporting on this looming catastrophe).

There is an urgent need for the U.S., and for the people of this self-described “indispensable” nation to wake up from our torpor, to throw off our fear-induced and greed-driven obsession with military spending, and to turn both inward to the need to develop a humane and sustainable society that benefits all its members, and outward to become a cooperative and non-threatening member of the global community of nations so we can together tackle the grave challenges to global survival that our remarkable but at the same time often aggressive and emotionally volatile and short-sighted species has caused.

I suggest that for a start, we the American people demand that our government, in open public Congressional hearings, subject the Pentagon and all the other “national security” agencies of the federal government – the CIA, Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Interior Department, the Energy Department, etc. – to a rigorous process of zero-budget accounting, in which ever dollar being requested has to be justified before it can be appropriated and billed to taxpayers. It’s a process long overdue.

The Pentagon, for the last 28 years, has been obstinately refusing a Congressional mandate to produce an auditable budget. When it was finally forced by Congress last year to submit to one, it failed abysmally. As I wrote in a Nation magazine cover story last month, the Pentagon has been submitting fraudulent financial reports to Congress for nearly three decades, so we can’t even know what they have spent all our tax dollars on for decades, or even how much they have actually spent!

Only by making them defend their budget requests line by line and dollar by dollar can we really ever decide in a rational manner what we want to spend our money on. Only then can we weigh the $150 million cost of a single F-35 fifth-generation fighter-bomber against the opportunity lost of funding a new high school or hospital, or the cost of another aircraft carrier battle group against the opportunity lost of a new high speed rail line between New York and Chicago or a subway, instead of just two miles of abandoned tunnel, for Cincinnati.

If China, a nation of 1.3 billion fractious people living under an iron-fisted dictatorship, can get by with a military budget of just $174 billion (considerably less than the $198 billion U.S. will spend this year on just its Veterans Affairs budget to care for the damaged troops from its endless wars), surely this relatively domestically tranquil nation could do the same, slashing its military spending by 80% or more.

Want to “make America great again”? The way to do that is not to ramp up military spending as the current administration and Congress are doing, but rather to end our wasteful spending of over a trillion dollars a year on arms, war and so-called “national security” and to instead spend this huge totally wasted share of our national wealth on our own long neglected social needs and on saving this country and world from an increasingly obvious looming environmental catastrophe.

Dave Lindorff is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011 and 2012. Wikipedia










Price of Empire

The Price of Empire - Why America and Britain Are Self-Destructing (And What the World Can Learn From it)

by Umair Haque, Eudaimonia, 1-11-19

It’s a striking fact of today’s world that the two rich societies in shocking, swift, sharp decline are America and Britain. Nowhere else in the world, for example, are real income, life expectancy, happiness, and trust all plummeting, apart from maybe Venezuela (No, “but at least we’re not Venezuela!” is not the bar to aim for, my friends.) Their downfall is, of course, a self-inflicted catastrophe. But the interesting question is: why? And what does it tell us about what it takes to prosper and thrive in the 21st century, which is something that America and Britain clearly aren’t doing, and maybe aren’t capable of doing?

Here’s an equally curious observation. America and Britain aren’t just any countries. They are the former hegemons of the world’s most powerful empires. Britain, until the first half of the 20th century, and America, picking up where Britain left off. Is this just a strange cosmic coincidence?—?that it is the two greatest empires of the most recent past who are the ones seemingly most incapable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century? There aren’t coincidences that great, my friends. Such tides of history always whisper lessons to be learned. What is this one trying to urgently teach us?

That there is a price to empire. A grave and ruinous one. And that price has grown over the centuries?—?so high that now, it is not worth paying anymore. Let me explain what I mean?—?because it is not just about spending too much money and grasping too high. Not at all. It is about the kind of a place and people such a country ends up limited to being?—?and perhaps can then never really easily outgrow.

To be a great empire, you must also be a certain kind of culture, society, place— a people with a certain set of values, a certain kind of attitudes. You must cherish control and prize possession over humanity and empathy and wisdom.

You must value brutal competition above all else?—?and train your children to be little warriors, basically, whether tossing them into seas, like Spartans, or making them do “active shooter drills.” You must be domineering and controlling and vengeful, feared, not loved?—?you must come to prize anger and rage as the only true or worthy emotions in life, not, say, intelligence gentleness, kindness, or happiness.

The primary objective of your institutions, the aspiration of your best and brightest, must be subjugating others, instead of lifting them up?—?after all, empires are made of subjects, not equals.

You must instill in people an admiration for violence--since empires are run with bullets, whether fired from drones or armies. Your science and art and so forth must be dedicated, fundamentally, to the proposition that somehow, you are the natural masters of the world which is your dominion?—?no matter how they claim to admire freedom and equality and truth. You cannot plan for any kind of long term good?—?your primary motive is simply to acquire, colonize, plunder, take the next possession.

In other words, to be an empire, you must cultivate the qualities of cruelty, of selfishness, of greed, of tribalism, socially. Of materialism and acquisitiveness and conformity to greed and selfishness, mentally. You must encourage the rise of supremacy and triumphalism and bigotry and misogyny, culturally. You must attach to all human life just one purpose: not happiness, or belonging, or the growth of meaning and purpose, but material gain, whether it’s measured in colonies, protectorates, slaves, bodies, or GDP.

Thus, the overarching organizing principle of your entire empire must be just this: the strong survive, and the weak perish. Everyone?—?even the weak--must come to buy into this principle, treasure it, cheer it, applaud it--even when they themselves are the ones being destroyed. Just think of how Donald Trump embodies all those values to a comical, disgusting degree.

How else are you to run an empire? How else are you to convince people to go out there and conquer the world for you?—?instead of happily tilling their fields and loving their children, taking fields and children from others? You can’t do it without accomplishing most or all of the above. Every empire from Rome to Egypt to America to Britain has needed to build these ramparts and beams of the human mind and spirit to be an empire.

Empires are Darwinian things, little pecking orders of humanity?—?what they are not is democracies, really, though they might be so in name, they cannot be in spirit, in intellect, in sentiment, in truth.

Now. Let’s observe the state of America and Britain today?—?and then connect the dots. What’s really curious about them? Just think of Trumpism and Brexit as you read the next paragraph.

These are societies which cannot brook the idea of being equals with any other. Isn’t that Trumpism and Brexit are really about?—?we must be number one? They are societies which cannot cooperate with any other--or even cooperate amongst themselves. They are societies which cannot plan for the long term. Societies which seem to revel in both their cruelty and their ignorance, while the world looks on, aghast.

They prefer being Darwinian places to being humane ones. They would rather build walls than build schools and hospitals, minds and bodies. They are societies which cannot tolerate the idea that they do not still reign supreme--and the moment their supremacy is threatened, bang! They lash out even at their closest neighbours, allies, friends, and partners.

Don’t these two lists seem weirdly, eerily, strikingly similar to you--the list of the qualities it takes to be an empire, and the list of savage, intractable problems afflicting Britain and America, which have caused them to crater into extreme ruin? That’s not a coincidence either. It is cause and effect. Let me put that more clearly.

America and Britain built the world’s two biggest, most powerful empires--ever, period. Sure, America didn’t call countries it’s colonies?—?it said (LOL) that it “liberated” them. What that means is that they effectively became colonies of American style predatory capitalism (take a look at Puerto Rico--or Iraq.) Just a century ago, half the world was a British colony?—?I don’t need to tell you that story.

Now, the problem with a colonial mentality, attitude, society, way of life is this. What happens when you run out of stuff to colonize? After all, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of tempting frontiers, helpless savages, Manhattans to trade for beads, fish in the ocean, and so on, right? That day might seem a long way away--but it has to come, after all.

Well, then, my friends, you are screwed--if you can’t give up the colonial mindset, then you will have to colonize yourself. What do I mean by this curious phrase, “colonize yourself”? I mean that you will have to exploit your own people the very same way that you exploited others before. You will have to teach them to exploit each other, just the same way that they once exploited poorer people of different “colors” and creeds, when there are no more of those strangers in new frontiers left to conquer, no more fresh mountains left to plunder.

And that is exactly what happened in America and Britain. It’s most obvious in America. When there was no one else left to exploit--first it was slaves, then it was subhuman blacks kept segregated, then it was various countries who were “liberated” by war for their oil and cheap labour--bang! Americans were told to turn on themselves. They obeyed. What else did they know? That is what they’d been told all their lives--that this mindset of exploitation and violence is good. So off the American went to work as a manager at an HMO, where his job was to deny people healthcare, or as a minor-league corporate droid, where his job was to find cleverer ways to jack up profits he never even saw a larger share of.

(It happened in Britain, too--only in a roundabout way. Though Britain tried to overcome empire’s hangover, by building great public institutions, like the NHS, in the end, the values of greed and selfishness and hate, the need to be supreme, won out. But all that meant was that Brits began to exploit each other. That is not just what Brexit clearly shows--but its root causes, Brits getting poorer for a decade or two, as they turned on each other.)

You see, giving up something like a colonial mindset is not easy. It is addictive, just like any easy pleasure. It’s much easier to suppose that my prosperity comes from taking yours, at the point of a gun--whether or not I call it “liberation”--than it does from recognizing you as a human being, doing the hard work of lifting you up.

But the truth is that is precisely where prosperity comes from: me lifting you up. Not me colonizing you. That is the greatest lesson of the 20th century. How do we know? From the nations which truly turned their backs on empire.

Many other nations had empires, too--just not ones as great and strong. So perhaps they were easier to let go of. Or perhaps it was the great war and its horrors which taught them the lesson better. Still, nations like France, Germany, and Spain did a better job of letting the colonialist mindset go. After the war, Europe tried hard to build a new continent on a new attitude--wealth would not come from seizing it from others anymore, but from cooperating to lift one another up. What had the road of seizing wealth, life, prosperity from others ended in after all--but horror and ruin?

But English speaking societies, it seems, never learned this lesson. There are days I wonder if they can. They are too wedded to their colonial mindset--attitudes of supremacy, of being-number-one, of not being able to treat anyone else as an equal, of an inability to cooperate, of anger as the primary emotion in life--to make any progress now, it seems to me. The English speaking countries probably won’t lead the world in the 21st century. That shouldn’t be controversial. They can barely manage themselves at this point. But the lesson, I think, cuts deep and true.

The price of empire is that maturity, psychologically, socially, economically, culturally, becomes harder and harder, every day. Maturity beyond what, exactly? Beyond violence. Beyond stupidity. Beyond greed and selfishness and cruelty.

You see, the Anglos of the world have never given up their strange love of and lust for all these things--whether it comes in the form of suddenly insulting their neighbours, building walls, starting needless wars, whether wars of trade or wars fought with missiles, drone-bombing children to death, or the subtler violence and greed of people taking their neighbours’ healthcare and jobs and savings away.

But violence and greed and cruelty cannot lead anyone anymore to prosperity in the 21st century. There is nobody left to colonize and exploit left but yourself, your very own society, in a world which is out of easy frontiers and helpless peoples. Nobody’s trading Manhattans for beads anymore, are they? And so violence and greed is only left in one form: self-destruction. Funnily, ironically, foolishly, tragically, the only choice that English speaking world seem able to make anymore is self-destruction--because the problem is that empire’s price is an addiction to ruin in the first place, but in the end, there is no one to ruin but yourself.


Whistle Blowers

Why are we expanding the covert agent secrecy law now? 7-23-19

Bruce W. Sanford is a First Amendment attorney in Washington whose clients include the Society of Professional Journalists. Bruce D. Brown is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

What are those patriots and rascals at the CIA up to now? Believe it or not, the intelligence agency is trying to fast-track through Congress a sweeping expansion of the 1982 law that criminalizes the disclosure of the identities of covert CIA agents operating abroad — and is trying to do so in a way that would directly impact press rights.

When Congress tries to sidestep the First Amendment’s order that it “make no law . . . abridging the freedom" of the press or speech, it enters a brier patch. Care and caution are required.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday, and the Senate passed it in late June. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has expressed concern, but there has been no meaningful debate. It now likely goes to conference.

Back in 1982, Congress took six years to craft a narrowly tailored law, called the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), that protected officers’ identities while they were active and working overseas but did not interfere with the media’s ability to report on national security and foreign affairs. The CIA lobbied for the law because one of its rogue former officers, Philip Agee, was outing undercover officers and agents abroad. Agee was never prosecuted under the law, and it has rarely been used — primarily because of its limited scope.

Prosecutors, however, are not famous for their self-restraint, as the recent indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange demonstrates. He is charged with multiple violations of the Espionage Act and, for the first time, the government has sought to punish the pure act of publishing classified information. Bad cases, as lawyers say, make bad law; they also inspire excessive prosecutorial zeal.

Into this climate the CIA now opportunistically plunges, explicitly citing WikiLeaks in arguing that the 1982 law be dramatically expanded, even though no such law is needed to prosecute Assange.

The bill, proposed by the CIA and included in the intelligence spending packages of both chambers, would expand the universe of officers and agents covered by the law to those whose outing would not result in potential physical harm or legal jeopardy to them or their families. As such, it could impair the public’s ability to learn about clandestine intelligence activities without any corresponding benefit to the security of agents and officers.

To limit the reach of the law to instances in which there was a realistic threat to an intelligence officer’s or agent’s safety, Congress included two important checks: It required proof that a nongovernment discloser like Agee engaged in a “pattern of activities” intended to out covert agents. And it required some overseas service or residency as part of the definition of “covert agent.” For intelligence officers and employees, they must have served overseas in the past five years.

Congress explicitly included the overseas service requirement to limit the law’s scope to cases in which outing could lead to physical harm or legal jeopardy for the undercover agent.

The CIA’s new proposal would remove this requirement entirely. This means that the law would permit the CIA and other intelligence agencies to forever criminalize the disclosure of the identity of an undercover officer, even if that person is retired and hasn’t been posted overseas in years.

Even though there have been few IIPA prosecutions, the messy investigation into the disclosure of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s name in the early 2000s shows just how much mischief can be caused by drawn-out legal battles over the confidential sources of news organizations in such cases.

Although the government could not make out a IIPA case in Plame and ended up convicting then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter" Libby, of making false statements, obstruction of justice, and perjury (he was later pardoned), the wide-ranging special prosecutor’s investigation landed a New York Times reporter in jail and forced Time magazine to turn a reporter’s work product over to authorities.

The impulsive attempt to expand a law without any real need or rationale must not be fast-tracked through an intelligence spending bill. The proposal would expand the ability of the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department to chill reporting on government mistakes and embarrassments through threats to prosecute reporters and outlets.

United States Will Bring Assange to US in Chains

By Ann Garrison November 14, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government.

It’s hardly surprising, given that in ten years’ time, Wikileaks published more classified information than all other media combined. It exposed human rights abuses, government spying, torture, and war crimes on an unprecedented scale.

WikiLeaks put government, corporations and even the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret.

It created a trove of primary source material that serious journalists and researchers will mine for years to come. Its publications are accessible to readers who prefer primary sources to mostly mediated news.

Wikileaks so infuriates the USA’s most violent, corrupt, and criminal institutions that Hillary Clinton half-jokingly suggested drone-bombing Assange. Other U.S. politicians called for his execution by other means.

California’s 28th District Congressman Adam Schiff, who became the chair of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats reclaimed the House, said he would speak to Assange “when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”

Schiff is a vociferous and supremely self-righteous leader of the Democratic Party’s “Resistance,” which sullies the name of the underground movement formed in France during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s occupying forces and the collaborationist Vichy government.

The “Resistance” tolerates only one truth and one loyalty: Russia is the enemy, interfering in Syria, the Ukraine and even U.S. elections. Russia elected Trump with Wikileaks’ help, it says. Russia dares to position missiles on its own borders, it says, to respond to NATO’s missiles on the other side. The U.S. must build more missiles, more drones, more nuclear weapons, and every other sort of weapon to defend the European world against Russia and its ally China.

Moral and Racial Superiority

Moral and racial superiority entitles the U.S. to occupy the world with military bases, ringing any nation that challenges its hegemony with military aircraft, battleships, assault vehicles, and military surveillance. Moral and racial superiority entitles its spy state agencies to shut down access to information deviating from its narratives and therefore to arrest and extradite Julian Assange.

The Republican Party shares the same supremely intolerant nature as the Democrats, but differentiates itself by insisting that, although Russia is the enemy, Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

The Republicans also want to silence the founder of Wikileaks and find a way to shut the organization down. Trump’s former CIA director, and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” and vowed to hunt Assange down.

Has Time Run Out?

Assange has been an asylee in Ecuador’s London Embassy for more than six years—since August 2012. Ecuador and the UK, however, are no closer to an agreement that would allow him safe passage out of the embassy. In a recent video conference, #Unity4J organizer Suzie Dawson said she fears Assange and those working to free him are running out of time:

“Right now time is not on our side. And I had someone today complaining because they want us to do a big, big action day march. When you do those types of actions it takes two or three months to organize. You need to have an organizing committee, you need to wallpaper the town, you need to have one date that you do it on, you need to do a ton of advertising. You need to get all the unions and various other organizations to sign on board, and then you have this one action day.

“Well, there’s a couple of problems with that. First of all, I don’t think we have three months right now. If we schedule a February giant march in support of Julian, I honestly don’t think we have until February. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the actions we take in the short term, in the next days and weeks, will buy us that much time for Julian, but I don’t see it.”

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who spent two years in prison for exposing the agency’s official use of torture, said if Assange walks out of the embassy without a guarantee of safe passage, he will be extradited to the U.S. in chains:

“We all know why the British have that embassy ringed. It’s to snatch him and to turn him over to the United States. If that happens, the CIA and the FBI are both going to be on that plane and they’re both going to be at least attempting to interrogate him all the way back home. They will bring him back to the United States in chains because that’s what they do.“

Dawson feels the FBI and CIA will interrogate and torture Assange to try to obtain information that would allow them to bring Wikileaks down. She has no doubt he’s been preparing for this eventuality for years. She believes he will have made sure the organization has adopted security codes and measures he himself doesn’t know and therefore can’t reveal—even if he’s tortured.

“They want to know about security files for example. They want to know about the inner processes and workings of Wikileaks. They want access to the knowledge that’s inside Julian’s brain. And they will torture him. And they will interrogate him in order to attempt to get that.

“Now I trust Julian to be smart enough to have made sure that even he doesn’t possess a lot of that knowledge. In my personal opinion, Julian has spent years planning for these various eventualities, but it won’t stop them from trying.”

Dawson aded intelligence agencies are eager to punish him: “At the end of the day they want to punish him for outing their corruption and their crimes. They’ve been waiting eight years to do it, and they will be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of the UK detaining him and extraditing him to the USA.”

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.

This article was originally published by " Consortium News"










Patriarchy

The Day American Patriarchy Took its Mask Off--You Can Have a Democracy--or You Can Have Men Competing to be the Most Dominant and Abusive. But You Can’t Have Both.

9-27-18, Eudaimonia, by Umair Haque

I don’t know if I have the words to remotely do justice to today’s especially grotesque chapter in American collapse. So forgive me if I fall short. I’m still angry, disgusted, and ashamed?—?maybe you are too. I’ll come back to that.

We saw many things today. We saw an obviously, clearly still traumatized sexual assault survivor quivering with fright, displaying all the classic signs of severe emotional harm?—?yet still miles braver than all the jowled, preening, finely suited men taunting and goading and smirking at her.

We saw those very men arrange something like a Kafkaesque, Soviet political sham trial?—?a public spectacle, designed to humiliate, replete with hostile prosecutor, who interrogated her with irrelevant question after irrelevant question, designed to cast suspicion on this frightened, impossibly brave woman’s tiniest motive (“How did you get here?” “On an airplane.”).

And then, at last, we saw the accused himself?—?as high and mighty as Jove on a throne, sneering with disdain, dripping with contempt, voice cracking like a whip, rage flashing. And then?—?sobbing great, unctuous crocodile tears of self-pity. And then, in the end, finally, smirking that very same smirk all those men smiled, at the very beginning.

This was the day American patriarchy took its mask off. And revealed its true self to the world. Did you like what you saw? Or were you disgusted and repelled and ashamed, to be a part of this, too, enraged at the ordeal, like I was?

What mask am I talking about? What does it look like? Why have so many of us had such difficulty seeing through it for so long? The mask American patriarchy wears is made of lacrosse games and fraternities and societies and prep schools and Ivy League universities. Of blazers and club ties and boathouses. Of a veneer of genteel civility and politesse. And yet none of these things seem to civilize these boys very much, or nearly enough. They become young men, who become adults but somehow stay children, at all.

Landon and Georgetown Prep and Hilton Arms and Holy Cross. I grew up amongst all that, it might surprise you to know?—?but just for a year. I rebelled so fiercely that my parents had to, shouting at me, apologizing to the principal, take me out of the storied private school they’d proudly put me into?—?not understanding, coming from another world, just how explosively destructive American patriarchy really was.

What did you see Brett Kavanaugh do today? He flipped, in this strange, polarized, binary way, between extreme narcissistic rage?—?shouting, red-faced, about his many accomplishments, thundering how he’d been first in his class, and so on?—?and just as extreme unctuous self-pity, in great broken sobs?—?how can they have done this to me? Isn’t that bizarre? Psychologically, we’d call it borderline level malignant narcissism?—?not an ounce of concern or regard for anyone else: he was the world’s greatest victim, hounded and pursued by malign forces, unfair because he was as pure as the driven snow. A virgin, so they say.

All that?—?as confusing as it may be?—?is exactly what patriarchy really is. These are the only two behaviours that patriarchy really allows men. I will come to why, but first I want you to understand them. Men in patriarchal hierarchies?—?let’s just say people who can only really climb up or slide down hierarchies?—?only have two behaviours available to them. Those who will climb to the top of such systems must do so by becoming the most dominant and controlling?—?they must threaten the most violence. When they cannot do that, they must become obsequious, maybe even weepy, playing the victim. That way, their potential power is maximized?—?those below them fall into line, while those above them aren’t threatened.

Violence is the only language such men really understand?—?only now the mask is slipping away, so we can see it a little better. Hasn’t that always been an especially American problem?

Hence, again and again, we see such personalities rise in them?—?Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and so forth. Classic malignant narcissists?—?who skyrocketed through patriarchal systems, which were rising in collapsing democracies, as they always do. Pecking orders of violence were being established, as democracies were crumbling.

Do you see how the dynamics of social hierarchies neatly explain the strange, bizarre behaviour we saw in Kavanaugh today?—?the screams which became the sobs? It wasn’t that he exhausted himself?—?not at all. He alternated rapidly, unconsciously, predictably between threatening a kind of ruinous violence?—?at one point he literally shouted at the country “you’ve reaped the whirlwind!!”, I think?—?which was as plain as day to see on his face, which was why everyone who had been near an abuser commented how obvious his rage was?—?and then lapsed into great gasping sobs of self-pity and self-entitlement, instantly becoming the world’s greatest victim (“I was number one in my class!!”).

The reason that men in such structures make sport of abuse?—?gang rape, hazing, bullying, and so on?—?is that the abuse is what establishes the hierarchy.

Remember, the one who is the most violent is the one who rises highest. And so the group must discover, together, who that one really is. Who will lead the rape tonight? Who will throw the first punch at the cowering little child? Who will aim the first kick at the gay couple? All these establish the leader of the pack, the top dog, if you like, amongst men in hierarchical structures. They need violence to “structurate”, to establish the structures that bond them together, to form the tribal hierarchy. Pecking orders of violence.

[Yep. That's Trump alright. - CG]

...it’s not the case that these were once decent and kind men. Instead, it seems that American social structures select for and reward abusers?—?because that is how tribal, primal hierarchies are maintained, enforced, and reproduced. It takes predation and abuse to establish the hierarchy, who is on top, who is on bottom, and who is not a person at all, and America is made of just such hierarchies, such pecking orders of dominance and violence, only maybe implicit, everywhere you look?—?from work to politics to culture?—?and hence, America is a place where abuse and predation have become endemic, systemic, and normal.

You can either have patriarchy?—?or you can have democracy. But you cannot have both. America has never really become a genuine democracy?—?just 20% of the American Congress and Senate are women, compared to 40% in Europe, for example, less even than in Pakistan?—?and that is because what it has always been is far too much a patriarchy.

But now that you understand what that word really means, let’s state it more plainly. It has always been ruled by a little tribe of men among whom the most violent, abusive, and narcissistic rise to the top--because rigid hierarchies will quite naturally always select for such a person.

Social structures which go on selecting for violence, instead of courage, truth, kindness, wisdom, intelligence, or compassion, are the grim residue--the toxic waste--of centuries of supremacy, of racism, of slavery, of genocide, if we are honest. They are what made America rich, and maybe even powerful if you think power is only a thing had at the point of a gun.

But now this structurally selected, encouraged, inculcated, and cultivated violence?—?so prized amongst American elites?—?is what is tearing America apart, too.

That is why we see monsters rising in America today. America’s fundamentally undemocratic social structures were never really undone, unraveled, unmade enough?—?and so the pecking orders of violence which structurate America rule on and on.

People were never really made equal?—?which is to say, liberated from being preyed upon and abused, for the sake of the social status of the predators and abusers.

All that is what today proves. And you are very right to be ashamed, because, in truth, we all stand disgraced, as a nation, as a country, and as a people.


Nature of the USA

Has The U.S. Gone Insane?

By Jeffrey Bowers November 09, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

What does United States of America stand for nowadays if political division is at an all time high?

Is it still the land of the free if America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world?

Are we still the home of the brave if we refuse to stand up to injustice, because it would compromise our pocketbook?

This disconnection from reality is the definition of psychosis.

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, best-selling author, and activist Chris Hedges, has made it his life’s work to highlight this inequity and combat the complacency of the consumerist culture. In a 2010 essay published on Adbusters, Hedges caught the eye of filmmaker Amanda Zackem, when he succinctly spelled out the problems with totalitarian capitalism and corporate power. Those ideas deeply resonated with Zackem and caused her to reach out to Hedges about bringing his essay into the cinematic realm in order to expose them to a larger audience. This week’s Staff Pick Premiere, “American Psychosis,” is the result of that process and their attempt to make people think more deeply about the world we’re living in.

“We live in an unbalanced, exploitation-based system and that’s not morally right or just. The issues of totalitarian capitalism and totalitarian corporate power need to be discussed more openly and honestly in our national dialogue,” says Zackem. “To be clear, totalitarian capitalism is not sustainable and should not be intertwined with our government. Most people don’t realize how their consumer choices negatively impact the world – environmentally, socially, culturally, politically, globally.”

Without going deep into the trenches, the short documentary illuminates many of these issues. However, with its hard-lined perspective, “American Psychosis” serves as a vital entry point to critically observing, thinking, and acting on the imbalances one sees in society. “I learned long ago that you can’t change anybody unless they want to change themselves. With this in mind, my intention when making this film was to encourage people to begin to think critically about the world we live in as opposed to just going through our daily motions.

Most of us aren’t even aware of the oppressive, inequitable systems we are a part of, or if we are, we choose not to look, or not to talk about it, because it is uncomfortable. I want people to question the world we live in, the systems we’ve set up. I want people to self-reflect and take personal responsibility for our current situation. Why do we allow it to continue? What are we afraid of? How can we co-create and help each other live and thrive as individuals and as a community?”

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Using those words as a rubric, one can’t help but acknowledge the widespread injustice happening across our society and question our government’s interests.

Traditionally totalitarian mechanisms are being used to silence dissenters, imprison people without due process, challenge the freedom of the press, promote hatred between different ethnic groups, and destroy the humanities and arts. “I believe in the ripple effect and that every person’s energy – be it big or small actions towards positive change – is powerful and vital to a functioning democracy,” says Zackem. “This film is my contribution to this larger dialogue.” As the United States moves closer to the November 6th midterm election, each citizen must ask themselves what they want for this country and how to best achieve it. The first step is to vote, which is the easiest and best way to contribute to that change.

Vimeo: Thinking about American society since the 2016 presidential
election (post international fiascos, post Brett Kavanaugh, and more),
what from Chris’s words seem most important or prescient?

American Psychosis on Vimeo

The United States is a very strange place when you really think about it. We celebrate freedom and yet we live in a nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have tons of money, but people go bankrupt and/or die because they can’t afford healthcare. We have an abundance of food, much of which ends up in the trash, yet so many children and families are going hungry. Our education system is a mess. Teachers aren’t paid properly, nor do they have enough funding or resources to do their job. Our universities are putting our youth into massive debt. Women are still not paid as much as men; the list goes on and on. And yet in the United States productivity has never been higher but average wages have been virtually stagnant since the 1970’s. Corporations pay hardly any taxes and hide their money abroad and our governmental system somehow allows this to continue? All of this, as Chris highlights, is totally insane.










Central America

'The coup turned Honduras into hell': President Manuel Zelaya on 10th anniversary of overthrow by US, 7-1-19

Overthrown Honduran president: US-backed coup fueled migrant caravan.

The Grayzone's Anya Parampil sat down for an exclusive interview with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, on the 10th anniversary of the US-backed right-wing military coup that overthrew him.

We discussed the extreme violence, drug trafficking, economic depression, migration crisis, Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH), WikiLeaks, Venezuela, and more.

Watch video.

The US Is Once Again Supporting Death Squads in Central America

June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United States has been quietly funding and equipping elite paramilitary police units in El Salvador accused of extrajudicially murdering suspected gang members, according to a forthcoming United Nations report reviewed in advance by CNN.

The massacre Trump’s envoy to Venezuela wants us to forget, 2-15-19

“I fail to understand,” the congresswoman said at a hearing Wednesday, “why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

The politician in question was freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Her interlocutor was Elliott Abrams, the veteran national security official recently installed by the Trump administration as Washington’s special envoy to Venezuela. Omar, who weathered a storm of controversy this week over her tweets about the financial influence of a pro-Israel lobby group, was now heaping scrutiny on the diplomat’s checkered career.

Abrams, Omar reminded the hearing, had pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information from Congress — essentially lying over the Iran-contra affair in the late 1980s while serving as an official in the Reagan administration. In 1992, though, he was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush and later joined the younger Bush’s National Security Council. Out of office, he has remained a fixture in Washington’s foreign policy establishment as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

But Omar was not so impressed. She pushed him on an earlier chapter of his career, when, as a prominent State Department official in the Reagan administration, Abrams led the American coverup of a hideous massacre in the Salvadoran village of El Mozote. In December 1981, the U.S.-backed Salvadoran army, locked in a struggle with leftist guerrillas, slaughtered at least 800 civilians in the town as part of its brutal counterinsurgency. On Wednesday, Abrams balked at Omar’s line of questioning, deeming it “ridiculous.”

“The back-and-forth refocused a spotlight on controversies that have trailed Abrams, 71, during a half-century in public life,” wrote The Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker. “And it revealed the moral trade-offs involved in the hawkish role that he has advanced for the United States — a global posture that Trump once purported to reject but has increasingly embraced, including by maintaining that military intervention in Venezuela is ‘an option.’ ”

As footage of the exchange went viral on social media, Beltway insiders and foreign policy veterans rallied in defense of Abrams, arguing that a dark chapter nearly four decades ago need not negate a lifetime of public service. “Elliott Abrams is a devoted public servant who has contributed much of his professional life to our country,” tweeted Nicholas Burns, a former senior State Department official. “It’s time to build bridges in America and not tear people down.”

Francisco Toro, a dissident Venezuelan writer, wheeled on Omar for focusing on the death squads of a long-defunct regime, rather than the current abuses of the one in Caracas. “Showcasing astonishing insensitivity to the victims of a human rights catastrophe that is still ongoing today, she disgraced her perch in Congress and scored an invaluable propaganda victory to the regime sponsoring the exact type of human rights abuses she imagines herself to be opposing,” Toro wrote for The Post’s Global Opinions.

Many others, though, commended Omar for raising the ghosts of the past. Abrams’s lengthy career, argued Esquire’s Charles Pierce, seemed proof that in Washington “there is no limit to the number of peasants on your butcher’s bill that would keep you from government work."

“If you are going to appoint someone who has a history of lying to Congress about human rights abuses to be the special envoy for a brewing humanitarian crisis,” noted Dan Drezner in PostEverything, “it is entirely fair to question him about prior acts of bad faith.”

The massacre at El Mozote occurred just before Abrams assumed his post as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs in the Reagan administration.

News of the brutal killings and rapes that took place there and in surrounding hamlets — considered some of the worst atrocities in modern Latin American history — reached the United States via the front pages of the New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Post’s Alma Guillermoprieto, who reached El Mozote in January 1982, found “dozens of decomposing bodies,” left to molder for a month in the ruins of the flattened village and adjacent fields. In a central square, she entered a church where many of the village’s men had been taken and executed. “The walls of the smaller sacristy beside it also appeared to have had its adobe walls pushed in,” she wrote. “Inside, the stench was overpowering, and countless bits of bones — skulls, rib cages, femurs, a spinal column — poked out of the rubble.”

Later reports uncovered other acts of barbarism. “We could hear the women being raped on the hills,” one witness told journalist Mark Danner, author of “The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War.” “And then, you know, the soldiers would pass by, coming from there, and they’d talk about it. You know, they were talking and joking, saying how much they liked the 12-year-olds.”

Men were beheaded with machetes, women raped and left to die, children had their skulls crushed in under the boots of soldiers.

At the time, Abrams worked to suppress news of the massacre, dismissing the news reports as not “credible” and enabling the propaganda of the guerrillas. “He was the point of the spear of the Reagan administration in denying a massacre had taken place at El Mozote,” Danner said in an interview with Today’s WorldView. He added that, for Abrams, human rights violations like this “were really nothing” compared with the grave danger perceived by the Reagan administration of left-wing, pro-Soviet victory in Central America.

This Cold War thinking would underlie Abrams’s actions and decision-making in Latin America through the 1980s. He called for the lifting of an arms embargo on Guatemala, supporting the regime of Efrain Rios Montt, who in 2013 was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity against the country’s indigenous Mayan population. In El Salvador, the full details of the massacre at El Mozote would only start to emerge a decade later, in part through the painstaking excavations of forensic scientists. It was just one episode in a hideous decade of violence, carried out largely by the Salvadoran army and right-wing death squads supported by the United States.

“It was a bloody, brutal, and dirty war,” wrote Raymond Bonner, who reported on the massacre for the New York Times, in a recent piece for the Atlantic. “More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads. Peasants were shot en masse, often while trying to flee. Student and union leaders had their thumbs tied behind their backs before being shot in the head, their bodies left on roadsides as a warning to others.”

The traumas of that era in Central America, Bonner argued, prefigured the mass exodus of asylum seekers that President Trump now insists amounts to an emergency on the U.S. southern border.

In an email to The Post’s Stanley-Becker, Abrams defended his record and angrily rejected Omar’s interrogation. “It’s a remarkable record of support for Latin democracy, of which Rep. Omar is obviously unaware and in which she is uninterested,” he said. “That was clear from her conduct, which constituted attacking rather than questioning a witness.”

But Danner pointed to the power of amnesia in Washington. “If you stay in D.C. long enough, no matter how dirty your bedsheets, they are going to be bleached clean simply by the corrosive force of forgetfulness,” he said. That is, unless a congresswoman decides to remind everyone.

“Omar performed a public service,” Danner said.










Immigrants

UN Calls on US to “Immediately Halt” Policy of Detaining Migrant Children

June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration “immediately halt” its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice “always constitutes a child rights violation.”

How Conservatives Rationalized Their Being Cold Warriors ICH By William Blum, 9/26/18

Can the man be serious? Yes, he is. God help us. I’ve published 5 books which give the lie to that statement, detailing all the foreign governments the US has overthrown, or tried to, because they were too friendly with Moscow, or were themselves too communist or too socialist, or simply too liberal. China, France, Italy, Greece, Korea, Albania, Iran, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Haiti, British Guiana, Iraq, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Congo, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ghana, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Australia, Portugal, East Timor, Angola, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Philippines, Grenada, Suriname, Libya, Panama... I’m only up to 1989... God help us... Read my books...

So, overthrowing governments and assassinating their leaders because they’re friendly to the Soviet Union is not a contradiction to trying to improve relations with the Soviet Union. Interesting. The CIA also connived to get Soviet diplomats expelled from various countries and did various things to block Soviet international financial transactions, etc., etc. All signs of trying to improve relations with Moscow? Silly me for not thinking of that. I’ll have to revise my books.

The above is one example of how conservatives rationalized their being Cold Warriors -– The United States always meant well. No matter how bad their foreign interventions may have looked, America’s heart was always in the right place. The current US secretary of Defense, James Mattis, recently stated: “We are the good guys. We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.”

Russian interference in US election [is] The new Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Washington Post has a regular “fact checker”, Glenn Kessler, who checks the accuracy of statements made by politicians and other public figures. On September 3 he announced that President Trump’s first 592 days in office had produced 4,713 false or misleading claims; that’s about 8 per day.

The article included a list of the types of claims, including the investigation into “Russian interference in the 2016 election” and whether people in the Trump campaign were in any way connected to it. Kessler believes they were. “All told, more than 200 times the president has made claims suggesting the Russia probe is made up, a hoax or a fraud.”

The “fact checker” needs to be fact-checked. He takes it as gospel that Russia consciously and purposefully interfered in the election, but like all the many other commentators offers no evidence. It’s conceivable that evidence of such has actually been presented and I was in a coma that day. (Would I remember that I was in a coma? Probably only if someone told me. So far no one has told me that I was in a coma.)

Keep in mind that a statement from the CIA that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from the FBI that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from the NSA that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Keep in mind that a statement from a dozen other US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.

Here’s James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence: “To me it stretches credulity to think that the Russians didn’t have profound impact” on the outcome of the election. Clearly if the man had any evidence to substantiate his statement he would have provided it at the time. He did not provide any. So all we get is another statement.

There are not many government bureaucrats who would publicly contradict the CIA, the FBI and the NSA on an important intelligence matter. How impressed would you be if a dozen Russian intelligence agencies all declared that Russia did not interfere in any way in the US 2016 election?

Moreover, keep in mind that numerous notices and advertisements posted to Facebook and other social media calling for the election of Trump and/or the defeat of Clinton do not count as evidence of Russian interference in the election even if some or most of the postings were seemingly made by Russians. Countless other notices and advertisements called for the election of Clinton and/or the defeat of Trump.

Moreover, many of these social-media postings (which members of Congress and the media like to make so much of) were posted well before the candidates were chosen, or even after the election took place.

So what do we make of all this? Well, it’s been pointed out that most of these postings were to so-called “click-bait” Internet sites that earn payments based on their volume of traffic. I have not come across any other explanation of the huge number of electoral postings during 2014-2017.

And forget about Trump aides like Paul Manafort and his partner Rick Gates, who’ve been charged with various financial crimes such as money laundering, tax and bank fraud, failure to register as a lobbyist, and more; in part the charges involve Ukraine – But NOTHING to do with Russian interference in the 2016 US election, although their cases have undoubtedly fed that story.

[...]

Even if you assumed that all the charges made about “Russian interfering in the elections” were true, and put them all together, they still wouldn’t have a fraction of the impact on the 2016 elections as did Republicans in several states by disenfranchising likely Democratic voters (blacks, poor, students, people in largely Democratic districts), by purging state voting lists.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out that Israeli intervention in US elections “vastly overwhelms” anything Russia has done. Israeli leader Netanyahu goes directly to speak to Congress without even consulting the president.

The United States joined a grand alliance with the forces of the communist Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin in World War II, but Washington can’t even talk civilly now with capitalist Russia.

When your goal is world domination any country that stands in the way of that is an enemy. American conservatives in particular have a most difficult time shaking this mind-set. Here’s the prominent conservative host of National Public Radio (NPR), Cokie Roberts, bemoaning Trump’s supposed desire to develop friendly relations with Russia, saying: “This country has had a consistent policy for 70 years towards the Soviet Union and Russia, and Trump is trying to undo that.”

If Trump were to establish good relations with Russia the lack of a European enemy would also leave NATO (= the US) even more obviously unnecessary.

Then we have the Skripal poisoning case allegedly carried out by Russia in the UK: There are just two things missing to support this allegation: 1) any verifiable evidence, AT ALL, and 2) any plausible motive for the Russian government to have carried out such a crime. But stay tuned, the Brits may yet find Vladimir Putin’s passport at the scene of the crime.

One of Washington’s greatest crimes

The world will long remember the present immigrant crisis in Europe, which has negatively affected countless people there, and almost all countries. History will certainly record it as a major tragedy. Could it have been averted? Or kept within much more reasonable humane bounds?

After the United States and NATO began to bomb Libya in March 2011 – almost daily for more than six months! – to overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi (with the completely phoney excuse that Gaddafi was about to invade Benghazi, the Libyan center of his opponents, and so the United States and NATO were thus saving the people of that city from a massacre}, the Libyan leader declared: “Now listen you people of Nato. You’re bombing a wall, which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it. You’re idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa.”

Remember also that Libya was a secular society, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, all destroyed by America while supporting Saudi Arabia and various factions of al Qaeda. It’s these countries that have principally overrun Europe with refugees.

Gaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do very valuable things. He, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in all of Africa; they had not only free education and health care but all kinds of other benefits that other Africans could only dream about. But Moammar Gaddafi was never a properly obedient client of Washington. Amongst other shortcomings, the man threatened to replace the US dollar with gold for payment of oil transactions and create a common African currency. He was, moreover, a strong supporter of the Palestinians and foe of Israel.

In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the prime moving force behind the United States and NATO turning Libya into a failed state, where it remains today. The attack against Libya was one that the New York Times said Clinton had “championed”, convincing President Obama in “what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as Secretary of State.”

The American people and the American media of course swallowed the phoney story fed to them, though no evidence of the alleged impending massacre has ever been presented. The nearest thing to an official US government account of the matter – a Congressional Research Service report on events in Libya for the period – makes no mention at all of the threatened massacre. Keep this in mind when reading the latest accusations against Russia.

The US/NATO heavy bombing of Libya led also to the widespread dispersal throughout North African and Middle East hotspots of the gigantic arsenal of weaponry that Gaddafi had accumulated. Libya is now a haven for terrorists, from al Qaeda to ISIS, whereas Gaddafi had been a leading foe of terrorists.

Oh my god, I’ve been called an anti-Semite!

British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and many others in the UK and the US are attacked for being anti-Semitic if they criticize Israel. But John McCain had very friendly meetings, and posed for photos, with prominent neo-Nazis in Ukraine and the Middle East – without being accused of being anti-Semitic. People involved in political activity on the left have to learn to ignore charges of anti-Semitism stemming from their criticism of Israel. These accusations are just thrown out as a tactic to gain political advantage – like with “anti-American” and “conspiracy theorist” – and do not deserve to be taken seriously. Whenever possible, such name-calling should be made fun of.

There’s an unwritten rule in right wing circles: It’s okay to be anti-Semitic as long as you’re pro-Israel. Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson is such an example.

While in the past an “anti-Semite” was someone who hates Jews, nowadays it is the other way around: An anti-Semite is someone the Jews hate.

“God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America’s Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.” – John LeCarré

George Bush, Sr.’s Secretary of State, James Baker, famously said to a colleague: “Fuck the Jews! They don’t vote for us anyway”.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser under Jimmy Carter: “An anti-Israel bias is not the same as anti-Semitism. To argue as much is to claim an altogether unique immunity for Israel, untouchable by the kind of criticism that is normally directed at the conduct of states.”

What the man [Trump] actually believes about his presidency

He keeps bragging about how he forced NATO to collect more money from members other than The United States. Here he is in a phone conversation with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

"You do know I'm doing a great job for the country. You do know that NATO now is going to pay billions and billions of dollars more, as an example, than anybody thought possible, that other presidents were unable to get more? ... So it's a tremendous amount of money. No other president has done it. It was heading down in the opposite direction."

Woodward said nothing to contradict Lord Trump. Someone other than the Post’s star reporter might have – just might – have pointed out that giving NATO billions more is not necessarily a good thing, that the member countries might have – just might – have spent that money on health, education, the environment, etc., etc. for their own people instead of more planes, bombs and tanks.

If not at that very moment on the phone, Woodward or the Post could at least have mentioned this subsequently in print.

William Blum is an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy. He worked in a computer-related position at the United States Department of State in the mid-1960s. Initially an anti-communist with dreams of becoming a foreign service officer, he became disillusioned by the Vietnam War. https://williamblum.org

The time the United States illegally deported 1 million Mexican Americans WP

In 1931, President Herbert Hoover started a program that would result in the illegal deportation of 1.8 million people to Mexico by the end of the 1930s. Of those people, 60 percent were U.S. citizens.










History Lessons

Chaco Canyon, Chaco Earth By Chris Hedges April 23, 2018

In New Mexico, a great civilization built a complex religious and administrative center that now lies in ruins. The ghosts there are whispering a message to us.

A bitter wind whipped down the 10-mile-long Chaco Canyon, kicking up swirls of dust among the thorny greasewood and sagebrush bushes. I ducked behind one of the towering sandstone walls in the three-acre ruin, or Great House, known as Pueblo Bonito, to escape the gusts. I was in the section of the 800-room complex where burials took place. Treasure hunters and archaeologists have uncovered in these ruins and tombs delicate white-and-black painted ceramics, flutes, ceremonial sticks, tiny copper bells, inlaid bone, macaw and parrot skeletons, cylindrical jars with the residue of chocolate that would have been imported from Mexico, shells and intricate turquoise jewelry and sculptures. From this vast, bureaucratic and ceremonial complex, the Anasazi—a Navajo word meaning ancient ones or possibly ancient enemies—dominated the Southwest from about the year 850 until the society collapsed in about 1150.

The Chaco ruin, 6,200 feet above sea level, is one of the largest and most spectacular archeological sites in North America. It is an impressive array of 15 interconnected complexes, each of which once had four-to-five-story stone buildings with hundreds of rooms each. Seven-hundred-pound wooden beams, many 16 feet long, were used in the roofs. Huge circular, ceremonial kivas—religious centers dug into the earth, with low masonry benches around the base of the room to accommodate hundreds of worshippers—dot the ruins. It rivals the temples and places built by the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Radiating from Chaco is a massive 400-mile network of roads, some 30 feet wide and still visible in the haunting desert landscape, along with dams, canals and reservoirs to collect and store rainwater. The study of astronomy, as with the Aztec and the Maya, was advanced. Petroglyphs and pictographs on the canyon walls often record astrological and solar events. One pictograph shows a hand, a crescent moon and a 10-pointed star that is believed to depict a 1054 supernova, and one of the petroglyphs appears to represent a solar eclipse that occurred in 1097.

A few thousand priests and ruling elites, along their retainers and administrators, lived in the Great Houses or palaces. They oversaw the trade routes that stretched to the California coast and into Central America. They maintained the elaborate network of lighthouses whose signal fires provided rapid communication. They built the roads, the long flights of stairs carved into the rock formations, the bridges, the wooden ladders to scale the towering cliffs, and the astronomical observatories that meticulously charted the solar observations to determine the equinoxes and solstices for planting and harvesting and for the annual religious festivals when thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, would gather. The buildings in the complexes were oriented to solstitial or cardinal points, a difference the anthropologist Stephen H. Lekson believes denoted not only competing cosmologies but competing political ideologies.

“Chaco was the political capital of a well-defined region that encompassed most of the Four Corners country, with more than 150 outlying Great Houses scattered over an area about the size of Ireland,” Lekson writes.

But this complex society, like all complex societies, proved fragile and impermanent. It fell into precipitous decline after nearly three centuries. The dense forests of oak, piñon and ponderosa pines and juniper that surrounded the canyon were razed for construction and fuel. The soil eroded. Game was hunted to near-extinction. The diet shifted in the final years from deer and turkey to rabbits and finally mice. Headless mice in the late period have been found by archaeologists in human coprolites—preserved dry feces.

The Anasazi’s open society, one where violence was apparently rare, where the people moved unhindered over the network of well-maintained roads, where warfare was apparently absent, where the houses of the rich and powerful were not walled off, where the population shared in the spoils of empire, was replaced with the equivalent of gated, fortified compounds for the elites and misery, hunger, insecurity and tyranny for the commoners.

Dwellings began to be built in the cliffs, along with hilltop fortresses, although these residences were not close to the fields and water supply. Defensive walls were constructed along with moats and towers. The large, public religious ceremonies that once united the culture and gave it cohesion fractured, and tiny, warring religious cults took over, the archaeologist Lynne Sebastian notes.

Lekson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, believes the Anasazi rulers during the decline increasingly resorted to savage violence and terror, including the public executions of dissidents and rebels. He finds evidence, much of it documented in Steven A. LeBlanc’s book “Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest,” that “Chaco death squads” were sent out across the empire. LeBlanc writes that at Yucca House, a Chaco Great House near Mesa Verde, as many as 90 people were killed and tossed into a kiva and at least 25 showed signs of mutilation.

“Chacoan violence, concentrated and brutal, appears to represent government terror: the enforcement of Chaco’s rule by institutionalized force,” Lekson writes in the article “Chaco Death Squads” in Archeology magazine. “Violence was public, intended to appall and subdue the populace. Chacoan death squads (my term, not LeBlanc’s) executed and mutilated those judged to be threats to Chacoan power, those who broke the rules.”

The anthropologist Christy G. Turner, who specialized in osteology, the study of human bones, in his book “Man Corn” cited “cannibalism and human sacrifice as conspicuous elements of terrorism.” In short, as Lekson writes, “the death squad killed you, cut you up, and then ate you in front of your relatives and neighbors.” The term “man corn” comes from the Nahuatl word “tlacatlaolli,” which Turner defined as a “sacred meal of sacrificed human meat, cooked with corn.” Debra Martin goes on to argue in a paper titled “Violence Against Women in the La Plata River Valley, A.D. 1000-1300” (located on the periphery of the Chacoan empire) that there is evidence of battered women who were perhaps slaves.

The Anasazi elites, no longer willing or able to provide social services or competent governance and plagued by shortages of natural resources, kept extracting unsustainable tribute. They resorted to harsher and harsher forms of repression. By the end, they were hated. The civilization suffered a severe drought in the year 1130. It was the final blow. The impressive structures would lie abandoned until they were discovered by the nomadic Navajos some 600 years later. The Navajos did not reoccupy the buildings, many of which contained skeletal remains, because they believed them to be filled with evil spirits.

“Prosperity, social integration, altruism, and generosity go hand-in-hand,” Stuart adds. “Poverty, social conflict, judgmental cynicism, and savagery do, too.”

Collapse, as Joseph A. Tainter points out, is “a recurrent feature of human societies.” Complex societies create centralized bureaucratic structures that exploit resources until exhaustion and then prove unable to adapt to scarcity. They create more sophisticated mechanisms to extract depleted resources, evidenced in our own time by the decision of the Trump administration to open up the lands around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park to fracking. In the end, the technologies and organization that make the rise of complex societies possible become the mechanisms that destroy them.

The fate of the Anasazi replicates the fate of all complex societies. The collapse came within one or two decades after the peak. As Jared Diamond writes in “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” the trajectories of complex societies “are unlike the usual course of individual human lives, which decline in a prolonged senescence. The reason is simple: maximum population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production mean maximum environmental impact, approaching the limit where impact outstrips resources.”

“Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea.

"This human inability to foresee—or watch for—long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by millions of years when we lived hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general population begin to suffer.”

We in 2018 are beset with signs of impending collapse. The droughts, wildfires, flooding, soaring temperatures, crop failures, poisoning of the soil, air and water, and social breakdown from global warming are leaving huge segments of the world’s poor without adequate food, water and security. Desperate migrants are fleeing the global south. Crisis cults carry out nihilistic acts of terrorism, often in the name of religious beliefs.

Our predatory elites, who have retreated to their own versions of Anasazi Great Houses, with access to private security, private education, private medicine, private transportation, private sources of water and food and luxury items that are unavailable to the wider population, have walled out reality. Their hubris and myopia, as well as blind obedience to an ideology—global capitalism—that benefits them but accelerates social and environmental destruction, mean they have only bought a little more time before they succumb like the rest of us.

We can no longer live on the capital of the natural world and instead must learn to make do with the interest. This means the end to reliance on fossil fuels and the animal agriculture industry. It means adopting a simplicity that rejects the ethos of capitalism and the hedonism and gluttony that define the consumer society. It means a communal society in which inequality and income disparity are not extreme. If we continue to live as if the future does not matter, our society, like that of the Anasazi, will fracture and die. We will vanish from the earth in an act of global suicide.

The human species faces its greatest existential crisis. Yet, our elites replicate the imbecility, arrogance and greed of past elites. They hoard wealth. They shut us out from circles of power. They use brutal forms of repression to maintain control. They exhaust and poison the ecosystem. The longer the corporate elites rule, the longer we fail to revolt, the less chance we have to endure as a species. Settled or civilized life is less than 10,000 years old. Our peculiar human social construction is but a nanosecond to the universe. It may prove to be a brief and fatal experiment. Perhaps, as Franz Kafka wrote, “There is hope; though not for us.”

America’s False History ICH By Paul Craig Roberts, September 14, 2018

David Ray Griffin writes books faster than I can read them. Therefore, I am going to borrow Edward Curtin’s review of Griffin’s history of the United States: The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? which Curtin suggests should have been titled: A Diabolic False Flag Empire.

Griffin’s book is a humdinger and will certainly upset brainwashed American super-patriots, but it throughly documents how Washington’s aggression toward other lands is covered up by politicians, media, and court historians with moral verbiage. In my view the hubris, arrogance, and ignorance of “American exceptionism” has the world locked on a trajectory to its extinction in nuclear Armageddon.

Curtin points out that Griffin makes an extraordinary mistake, unusual for a scholar as careful as Griffin, in his assessment of President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was the president who tried to move America’s trajectory off of its demonic path and was murdered by his own government for his attempt. But as I have said, none of us knows everything. We often have to rely on others, and others, also, make mistakes.

Washington’s aggression and war crimes against the Confederacy. The Union’s aggression included warring against civilians and the intentional destruction of their livelihoods. It was the same for its time as the US and British firebombing of German cities and Washington’s destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic bombs.

Washington has never let morality stand in the way of its empire.

Washington has never permitted treaties and domestic laws to stand in its way either. For example:

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated the Non-Detention Act passed by Congress in 1971 and signed by President Nixon.

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated The Convention Against Torture, ratified by the Senate in 1994 and bolstered by a US law that prohibits US officials anywhere in the world from torturing anyone.

–The Cheney/Bush regime unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-ABM Treaty.

–The Trump regime unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

–The Obama regime dismissed the due process protection in the US Constitution and arbitrarily assassinated US citizens without indictment, trial, and conviction.

The above examples merely scratch the surface. Just think of all of the treaties with the various American Indian tribes that Washington dishonored.

As Washington’s word means nothing, it is a puzzle that Iran and Russia make worthless agreements with Washington. The answer must be that hope prevails over experience.

A Diabolic False Flag Empire

By Edward Curtin

September 08, 2018 "Lew Rockwell" - The past is not dead; it is people who are sleeping. The current night and daymares that we are having arise out of murders lodged deep in our past that have continued into the present. No amount of feigned amnesia will erase the bloody truth of American history, the cheap grace we bestow upon ourselves.

We have, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel address, been feeding on “a vast tapestry of lies” that surrounds us, lies uttered by nihilistic leaders and their media mouthpieces for a very long time. We have, or should have, bad consciences for not acknowledging being active or silent accomplices in the suppression of truth and the vicious murdering of millions at home and abroad.

But, as Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.”

No one is more emblematic of this noble effort than David Ray Griffin, who, in book after book since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has meticulously exposed the underside of the American empire and its evil masters. His persistence in trying to reach people and to warn them of the horrors that have resulted is extraordinary. Excluding his philosophical and theological works, this is his fifteenth book since 2004 on these grave issues of life and death and the future of the world.

In this masterful book, he provides a powerful historical argument that right from the start with the arrival of the first European settlers, this country, despite all the rhetoric about it having been divinely founded and guided, has been “more malign that benign, more demonic than divine.” He chronologically presents this history, supported by meticulous documentation, to prove his thesis. In his previous book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, Griffin cataloged the evil actions that flowed from the inside job/false flag attacks of September 11th, while in this one – a prequel – he offers a lesson in American history going back centuries, and he shows that one would be correct in calling the United States a “false flag empire.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 are the false flag fulcrum upon which his two books pivot. Their importance cannot be overestimated, not just for their inherent cruelty that resulted in thousands of innocent American deaths, but since they became the justification for the United States’ ongoing murderous campaigns termed “the war on terror” that have brought death to millions of people around the world. An international array of expendable people. Terrifying as they were, and were meant to be, they have many precedents, although much of this history is hidden in the shadows.

Griffin shines a bright light on them, with most of his analysis focused on the years 1850-2018.

As a theological and philosophical scholar, he is well aware of the great importance of society’s need for religious legitimation for its secular authority, a way to offer its people a shield against terror and life’s myriad fears through a protective myth that has been used successfully by the United States to terrorize others. He shows how the terms by which the U.S. has been legitimated as God’s “chosen nation” and Americans as God’s “chosen people” have changed over the years as secularization and pluralism have made inroads. The names have changed, but the meaning has not. God is on our side, and when that is so, the other side is cursed and can be killed by God’s people, who are always battling el diabalo.

He exemplifies this by opening with a quote from George Washington’s first Inaugural Address where Washington speaks of “the Invisible Hand” and “Providential agency” guiding the country, and by ending with Obama saying “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.” In between we hear Andrew Jackson say that “Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number” and Henry Cabot Lodge in 1900 characterize America’s divine mission as “manifest destiny.” The American religion today is American Exceptionalism, an updated euphemism for the old-fashioned “God’s New Israel” or the “Redeemer Nation.”

At the core of this verbiage lies the delusion that the United States, as a blessed and good country, has a divine mission to spread “democracy” and “freedom” throughout the world, as Hilary Clinton declared during the 2016 presidential campaign when she said that “we are great because we are good,” and in 2004 when George W. Bush said, “Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom.” Such sentiments could only be received with sardonic laughter by the countless victims made “free” by America’s violent leaders, now and then, as Griffin documents.

Having established the fact of America’s claim to divine status, he then walks the reader through various thinkers who have taken sides on the issue of the United States being benign or malign. This is all preliminary to the heart of the book, which is a history lesson documenting the malignancy at the core of the American trajectory.

“American imperialism is often said to have begun in 1898, when Cuba and the Philippines were the main prizes,” he begins. “What was new at this time, however, was only that America took control of countries beyond the North American continent.” The “divine right” to seize others’ lands and kill them started long before, and although no seas were crossed in the usual understanding of imperialism, the genocide of Native Americans long preceded 1898. So too did the “manifest destiny” that impelled war with Mexico and the seizure of its land and the expansion west to the Pacific. This period of empire building depended heavily on the “other great crime against humanity” that was the slave trade, wherein it is estimated that 10 million Africans died, in addition to the sick brutality of slavery itself. “No matter how brutal the methods, Americans were instruments of divine purposes,” writes Griffin. And, he correctly adds, it is not even true that America’s overseas imperialistic ventures only started in 1898, for in the 1850s Commodore Perry forced “the haughty Japanese” to open their ports to American commerce through gunboat diplomacy.

Then in 1898 the pace of overseas imperial expansion picked up dramatically with what has been called “The Spanish-American War” that resulted in the seizure of Cuba and the Philippines and the annexing of Hawaii. Griffin says these wars could more accurately be termed “the wars to take Spanish colonies.” His analysis of the brutality and arrogance of these actions makes the reader realize that My Lai and other more recent atrocities have a long pedigree that is part of an institutional structure, and while Filipinos and Cubans and so many others were being slaughtered, Griffin writes, “Anticipating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s declaration that ‘we don’t do empire,’ [President] McKinley said that imperialism is ‘foreign to the temper and genius of this free and generous people.’”

Then as now, perhaps mad laughter is the only response to such unadulterated bullshit, as Griffin quotes Mark Twain saying that it would be easy creating a flag for the Philippines:

We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

That would have also worked for Columbia, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and other countries subjugated under the ideology of the Monroe Doctrine; wherever freedom and national independence raised its ugly head, the United States was quick to intervene with its powerful anti-revolutionary military and its financial bullying. In the Far East the “Open Door” policy was used to loot China, Japan, and other countries.

But all this was just the beginning. Griffin shows how Woodrow Wilson, the quintessentially devious and treacherous liberal Democrat, who claimed he wanted to keep America out of WW I, did just the opposite to make sure the U.S. would come to dominate the foreign markets his capitalist masters demanded. Thus Griffin explores how Wilson conspired with Winston Churchill to use the sinking of the Lusitania as a casus belli and how the Treaty of Versailles’s harsh treatment of Germany set the stage for WW II.

He tells us how in the intervening years between the world wars the demonization of Russia and the new Soviet Union was started. This deprecation of Russia, which is roaring at full-throttle today, is a theme that recurs throughout The American Trajectory. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Wilson called the Bolshevik government “a government by terror,” and in 1918 “sent thousands of troops into northern and eastern Russia, leaving them there until 1920.”

That the U. S. invaded Russia is a fact rarely mentioned and even barely known to Americans. Perhaps awareness of it and the century-long demonizing of the U.S.S.R./Russia would enlighten those who buy the current anti-Russia propaganda called “Russiagate.”

To match that “divine” act of imperial intervention abroad, Wilson fomented the Red Scare at home, which, as Griffin says, had lasting and incalculable importance because it created the American fear of radical thought and revolution that exists to this very day and serves as a justification for supporting brutal dictators around the world and crackdowns on freedom at home (as is happening today).

He gives us brief summaries of some dictators the U.S has supported, and reminds us of the saying of that other liberal Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said of the brutal Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, that “he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” And thus Somoza would terrorize his own people for 43 years. The same took place in Cuba, Chile, Iran, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc. The U.S. also supported Mussolini, did nothing to prevent Franco’s fascist toppling of the Spanish Republic, and supported the right-wing government of Chiang-Kai Shek in its efforts to dominate China.

It is a very dark and ugly history that confirms the demonic nature of American actions around the world.

Then Griffin explodes the many myths about the so-called “Good War” – WW II. He explains the lies told about the Japanese “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor; how Roosevelt wished to get the U.S. into the war, both in the Pacific and in Europe; and how much American economic self-interest lay behind it. He critiques the myth that America selflessly wished to defend freedom loving people in their battles with brutal, fascist regimes. That, he tells us, is but a small part of the story:

This, however, is not an accurate picture of American policies during the Second World War. Many people were, to be sure, liberated from terrible tyrannies by the Allied victories. But the fact that these people benefited was an incidental outcome, not a motive of American policies. These policies, as [Andrew] Bacevich discovered, were based on ‘unflagging self-interest.’

Then there are the conventional and atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nothing could be more demonic, as Griffin shows. If these cold-blooded mass massacres of civilians and the lies told to justify them don’t convince a reader that there has long been something radically evil at the heart of American history, nothing will. Griffin shows how Truman and his advisers and top generals, including Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff, knew the dropping of the atomic bombs were unnecessary to end the war, but they did so anyway.

He reminds us of Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s response to the question whether she thought the deaths of more than 500, 000 Iraqi children as a result of Clinton’s crippling economic sanctions were worth it: “But, yes, we think the price is worth it.” (Notice the “is,” the ongoing nature of these war crimes, as she spoke.) But this is the woman who also said, “We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall…”

Griffin devotes other chapters to the creation of the Cold War, American imperialism during the Cold War, Post-Cold War interventions, the Vietnam War, the drive for global dominance, and false flag operations, among other topics.

As for false flag operations, he says, “Indeed, the trajectory of the American Empire has relied so heavily on these types of attacks that one could describe it as a false flag empire.” In the false flag chapter and throughout the book, he discusses many of the false flags the U.S. has engaged in, including Operation Gladio, the U.S./NATO terrorist operation throughout Europe that Swiss historian Daniele Ganser has extensively documented, an operation meant to discredit communists and socialists. Such operations were directly connected to the OSS, the CIA and its director Allen Dulles, his henchman James Jesus Angleton, and their Nazi accomplices, such as General Reinhard Gehlen. In one such attack in 1980 at the Bologna, Italy railway station, these U.S. terrorists killed 85 people and wounded 20 others. As with the bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia today on Yemeni school children, the explosive used was made for the U.S. military. About these documented U.S. atrocities, Griffin says:

“These revelations show the falsity of an assumption widely held by Americans. While recognizing that the US military sometimes does terrible things to their enemies, most Americans have assumed that US military leaders would not order the killing of innocent civilians in allied countries for political purposes. Operation Gladio showed this assumption to be false.”

He is right, but I would add that the leaders behind this were civilian, as much as, or more than military.

In the case of “Operation Northwoods,” it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff who presented to President Kennedy this false flag proposal that would provide justification for a U.S. invasion of Cuba. It would have involved the killing of American citizens on American soil, bombings, plane hijacking, etc. President Kennedy considered such people and such plans insane, and he rejected it as such. His doing so tells us much, for many other presidents would have approved it. And again, how many Americans are aware of this depraved proposal that is documented and easily available? How many even want to contemplate it? For the need to remain in denial of the facts of history and believe in the essential goodness of America’s rulers is a very hard nut to crack. Griffin has written a dozen books about 11 September 2001, trying to do exactly that.

If one is willing to embrace historical facts, however, then this outstanding book will open one’s eyes to the long-standing demonic nature of the actions of America’s rulers. A reader cannot come away from its lucidly presented history unaffected, unless one lives in a self-imposed fantasy world. The record is clear, and Griffin lays it out in all its graphic horror. Which is not to say that the U.S. has not “done both good and bad things, so it could not sensibly be called purely divine or purely demonic.” Questions of purity are meant to obfuscate basic truths. And the question he asks in his subtitle – Divine or Demonic? – is really a rhetorical question, and when it comes to the “trajectory” of American history, the demonic wins hands down.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one place where Griffin fails the reader. In his long chapter on Vietnam, which is replete with excellent facts and analyses, he makes a crucial mistake, which is unusual for him. This mistake appears in a four page section on President Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam. In those pages, Griffin relies on Noam Chomsky’s terrible book – Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture (1993), a book wherein Chomsky shows no regard for evidence or facts – to paint Kennedy as being in accord with his advisers, the CIA, and the military regarding Vietnam.

This is factually false. Griffin should have been more careful and have understood this. The truth is that Kennedy was besieged and surrounded by these demonic people, who were intent on isolating him, disregarding his instructions, and murdering him to achieve their goals in Vietnam. In the last year of his life, JFK had taken a radical turn toward peace-making, not only in Vietnam, but with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and around the globe. Such a turn was anathema to the war lovers. Thus he had to die.

Contrary to Chomsky’s deceptions, motivated by his hatred of Kennedy and perhaps something more sinister (he also backs the Warren Commission, thinks JFK’s assassination was no big deal, and accepts the patently false official version of the attacks of 11 September 2001),

Griffin should have emphatically asserted that Kennedy had issued NSAM 263 on October 11, 1963 calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, and that after he was assassinated a month later, Lyndon Johnson reversed that withdrawal order with NSAM 273.

Chomsky notwithstanding, all the best scholarship and documentary evidence proves this. And for Griffin, a wonderful scholar, to write that with the change from Kennedy to Johnson that “this change of presidents would bring no basic change in policy” is so shockingly wrong that I imagine Griffin, a man passionate about truth, simply slipped up and got sloppy here. For nothing could be further from the truth.

Ironically, Griffin makes a masterful case for his thesis, while forgetting the one pivotal man, President John Kennedy, who sacrificed his life in an effort to change the trajectory of American history from its demonic course. It is one mistake in an otherwise very important and excellent book that should be required reading for anyone who doubts the evil nature of this country’s continuing foreign policy. Those who are already convinced should also read it, for it provides a needed historical resource and impetus to help change the trajectory that is transporting the world toward nuclear oblivion, if continued.

If – a fantastic wish! – The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? were required reading in American schools and colleges, perhaps a new generation would arise to change our devils into angels, the arc of America’s future moral universe toward justice, and away from being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, as it has been for so very long.










Illegal Wars

"...(Kerry did engage in some historical distortion, however, when he said the United States has a "time-honored tradition" of fighting wars of necessity. How about the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War, just to name a few?)" (Matthew Rothschild. "Kerry's Mistake." The Progressive, Sep. 2004: 4).


All Wars Are Illegal, So What Do We Do About It? ICH By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, September 26, 2018

Every war being fought today is illegal. Every action taken to carry out these wars is a war crime.

In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact or Pact of Paris was signed and ratified by the United States and other major nations that renounced war as a way to resolve conflicts, calling instead for peaceful ways of handling disputes.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was the basis for the Nuremberg Tribunal, in which 24 leaders of the Third Reich were tried and convicted for war crimes, and for the Tokyo Tribunal, in which 28 leaders of the Japanese Empire were tried and convicted for war crimes, following World War II.

Such prosecutions should have prevented further wars, but they have not. David Swanson of World Beyond War argues that a fundamental task of the antiwar movement is to enforce the rule of law. What good are new treaties, he asks, if we can’t uphold the ones that already exist?

The United States is violating international law, and escalating its aggression

All wars and acts of aggression by the United States since 1928 have violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter since it was signed in 1945. The UN Charter states, in Article 2:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Yet, the United States has a long history of threatening aggression and using military force to remove governments it opposed and install friendly ones. Illegal attacks by the US since World War II have resulted in 20 million people being killed in 37 nations. For example, as we outline in “North Korea and the United States: Will the Real Aggressor Please Stand Down,”the United States used violence to install Syngman Rhee in power in the 1940’s and subsequently killed millions of Koreans, in both the South and the North, in the Korean War, which has not ended. Under international law, the “war games” practicing to attack North Korea with conventional and nuclear weapons are illegal threats of military action.

The list of interventions by the United States is too long to list here. Basically, the US has been interfering in and attacking other countries almost continuously since its inception. Currently the US is involved directly in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The US is threatening Iran and Venezuela with attack.

The United States has 883 military bases in 183 countries and has hundreds of outposts scattered throughout the world. Lynn Petrovich recently examined the new defense budget. With regard to the Pentagon’s 2019 budget report, she writes:

If the planet is our community, America is the bully in the neighborhood. Reference to the word ‘lethal’ is sprinkled no less than 3 dozen times throughout The Report (‘more lethal force’ p. 2-6, ‘technology innovation for increased lethality’ p.1-1, ‘increasing the lethality of new and existing weapons systems’ p. 3-2)."...

"Were it not for The Report’s dire (yet, fully funded) predictions for world domination, one would think this budget request was satire by The Onion."

Included in the new budget are funds to recruit 26,000 more of our youth into the military, purchase ten more “combat ships,” build more F-35s, even though they don’t work, and “modernize” our nuclear weapons. At a time when the United States is losing power in the world and falling behind in wealth, the government voted nearly unanimously to provide $74 billion more than last year to be more aggressive. Imagine what that money could do if it were applied instead to improving public education, transitioning to a clean energy economy and a public works program to restore our failing infrastructure.

The United States empire is falling and blindly taking all of us down with it as it tries to assert its power.

What to do about it

The peace movement in the United States is being revived and building alliances with peace activists in many countries, and it can’t happen fast enough. There are many opportunities for action this fall, the “Antiwar Autumn.”

The World Beyond War conference, #NoWar2018, just concluded in Toronto. The focus of the conference was legalizing peace. Among the topics discussed was how to use courts to prevent wars, stop the escalation of militarism and investigate war crimes. Professor Daniel Turp of the University of Montreal and his students have sued the Canadian government over participating in extraditing prisoners to Guantanamo, potential intervention in Iraq and providing weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Turp recommends that activists who are considering legal action first look to domestic courts for a remedy. If none exists or domestic action is unsuccessful, then it is possible to turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court or the United Nations. Any people or organizations can file a report or complaint with these bodies. Before doing so, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible, first hand accounts are strong but even hearsay can be grounds to trigger an investigation.

Currently, Popular Resistance is supporting an effort to ask the International Criminal Court to launch a full investigation of Israel for its war crimes. People and organizations are invited to sign on to the letter, which will be delivered by a delegation, including us, to the Hague in November.

SIGN ON: TELL THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TO INVESTIGATE ISRAEL’S CRIMESSince the Nakba in 1947, Israel has displaced, brutalized and murdered Palestinians. The United States is Israel’s biggest supporter and regularly provides cover for the crimes committed by Israel.

The US gives more money to Israel than to any other country, almost $135 billion since 1946. The last Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, signed by President Obama, gives a record $38 billion over ten years.

The United States and Israel consistently vote as a bloc in the United Nations to oppose recognition of Palestine and to prevent criticism of Israel’s actions. During the six weeks of peaceful actions by Palestinians starting in March to demand their Right of Return, the United States tried to block a UN resolution calling on Israel to show constraint instead of injuring and murdering Palestinians, including children, reporters and medics. Fortunately, the resolution passed without the US in June.

William Curtis Edstrom of Nicaragua wrote a letter to the United Nations in advance of Trump’s visit to serve as the chair of the Security Council meeting. He is requesting “hearings, debate and vote on an effective plan of action against various crimes that have been committed by people working for the government of the US that are of significance to the global community.”

This week, Medea Benjamin confronted a Trump administration official, the head of the new “Iran Action Group,” at the Hudson Institute. President Trump is planning to advocate for more aggression against Iran at the United Nations. When the US tried this in the past, it has received push back from other nations Now it is clear it is the US, not Iran, that has violated the nuclear agreement and is conducting an economic war against Iran while threatening military action. The world is likely to stand up to Trump and US threats.

Recent progress towards peace by North and South Korea show that activism is effective. Sarah Freeman-Woolpert reports on efforts by activists in South Korea and the United States to build coalitions and organize strategic actions that create the political space for peace.

Leaders of both countries met this week to discuss improving relations and finding a compromise between North Korea and the United States. President Moon will meet with President Trump at the United Nations this month. Korean activists say that their greatest concern is that Koreans finally having “the ability to shape the future of [their] country.”

When we understand that war is illegal, our task becomes clear. We need to make sure that all nations, especially the United States, obey the law. We can replace war with mediation, conflict resolution and adjudication. We can legalize peace.

We still have time to repent for American racism WP By Danya Ruttenberg [Danya Ruttenberg is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah.] September 18, 2017

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night. This is the season during which Jews make tshuvah — engage in the work of repentance and repair — for all we’ve done wrong in the past year. Tshuvah isn’t just about saying sorry; it’s really about healing wrongs, to whatever extent that might be possible.

And it’s that part about healing wrongs that makes this cultural moment in the United States so unsurprising. The rise of white nationalism, the election of a man who campaigned and governs on a platform of racist fearmongering, even the fact of Confederate statues serving as a political lighting rod — it’s all the product of tshuvah left undone.

Maimonides, the great 12th century philosopher and sage, defines complete tshuvah as that which happens when a person has the opportunity to commit the same sin as he had in the past, but does not — he makes a different choice the second time around. How could it be that you might return to the exact situation in which you had previously screwed up? Who gets an instant replay like that? My rabbi, Alan Lew, used to explain Maimonides thusly: “If you haven’t done the work of tshuvah in any kind of serious way, you’ll get back there.” That is, without the necessary soul-searching and growth, you will undoubtedly manage to find yourself in some variation of the same situation over and over and over again.

Our country is in that position. The Christian writer Jim Wallis has famously described racism as America’s “original sin.” Our country has never done tshuvah for its many racist wrongs — particularly those committed against black and indigenous people.

There has been no real introspection by those who hold institutional power, no formal apologies made to those enslaved or their descendants. There has been, on an official level, no display of curiosity about whether restitution is needed and what that might possibly look like.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has introduced the bill that’s now known as H.R. 40 (the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”) in Congress every single year for the last 28 years. It establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals that would “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present” and make recommendations for solutions. Not to hand out money, just to study and make recommendations; implementation would be an entirely optional step outside the scope of the bill. Conyers’s bill has never even made it to the House floor.

We have never done the work of tshuvah as a country, and so we continue to find opportunities to commit the same sins, again and again and again. We went from slavery to lynchings, from Jim Crow to redlining to mass incarceration and challenges to voting rights. From the Trail of Tears to Wounded Knee to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it:

To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy ,,, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying …. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt …. We cannot escape our history. All of our solutions to the great problems of health care, education, housing, and economic inequality are troubled by what must go unspoken.

There are several steps to making tshuvah: You have to acknowledge what you did wrong (no matter whether it was intentional). You have to take actions to correct the mistake, or to make amends, if possible. And you need to invest some time working out how things can be different next time.

Can an entire nation make tshuvah? One needs only look to Germany’s behavior over the past 70 or so years to know that it is, at the very least, possible to do some of the work at a national level. They have taken full responsibility for the Holocaust, issued formal apologies, paid over 66 billion euros in reparations payments, built memorials to the victims of atrocities — in sharp contrast to the veneration of Confederate slaveholders here — and are committed to being different, now. Everything from their attitude toward military engagement to the language in their textbooks is influenced by the knowledge that to become different, they need to behave differently.

There is much discussion in Maimonides’s “Laws of Tshuvah” and elsewhere in Jewish literature about whether or not someone who has committed an atrocity can ever do complete tshuvah — particularly in a situation in which true amends can never be made. Meaningful restitution can never be made to Nat Turner, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, or 500 years’ worth of other human lives. But whether the United States — or Germany, for that matter — can, or should, ever be forgiven by our victims or their descendants isn’t the question. The work should be done not to attain absolution, but because it is the only moral way forward.

I don’t have a lot of hope that those with the greatest power in our federal government will be undertaking a tshuvah process for the sins of American racism any time soon. It’s much more likely that new wounds will be created in the coming months, new traumas, an entrenching of some oppressive systems and perhaps even the creation of new ones. We continue to arrive to the same place, again and again. But Maimonides reminds us that the gates of tshuvah are always open — we can become baalei tshuva, penitents, even on the day of our death. Perhaps one day our country will be ready to interrupt the cycle of injury and injustice on an institutional level. Until then, well, the rest of us have plenty of work to do.

Inside America’s Meddling Machine: The US Funded Group that Interferes in Elections Around the Globe ICH By Max Blumenthal

Filmed inside the Capitol, this Grayzone special explores the National Endowment for Democracy, a taxpayer funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington’s agenda.

On June 13, 2018 the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy presented its 2018 Democracy Award to a collection of Korean activists who aim to topple the communist government of North Korea.

The event was timed to coincide with President Donald Trump’s peace summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-Un. The ceremony appeared to be the opening shot of a massive public relations effort aimed at stifling normalized relations with North Korea

I covered the ceremony because these organizations are doing precisely what Congress accuses Russia-funded media outlets and troll farms of doing in the United States. They interfere in other countries’ politics with foreign money. The only difference is they do it openly, and in the name of spreading freedom.

Founded in 1983 by then president Ronald Reagan, the National Endowment for Democracy became an international vehicle for the neoconservative agenda. Its founding cadre were Cold War ideologues who were, like so many early neoconservative operatives, former Trotskyists who once belonged to the Social Democrats USA party.

Over the years, the NED and its partner organizations have weaponized civil society and media against governments that stand in the way of right-wing, free market parties and corporate interests.

Heavy payouts for anti-DPRK testimony, often with embarrassing results

Among the groups honored at the NED gathering was the Unification Media Group. They foment internal opposition to the North Korean government through shortwave radio broadcasts.

Also on hand was a collection of defectors. These activists are responsible for much of what the West believes about North Korea and its human rights record. While many tell harrowing tales of escape from political repression, others have been exposed as serial fabricators lured by hefty sums of cash.

In 2017, South Korea quadrupled the payout for testimony from North Korean defectors to a whopping $860,000. The bounty has incentivized colorful accounts of sadistic — and unusually creative — human rights abuses.

According to one defector, a crowd of 10,000 was forced to watch the execution of 11 musicians for the crime of viewing porn. He said the musicians were shot with anti-aircraft guns, then run over with tanks. Another defector claimed female prisoners were raped and then forced to hand their babies over to be used as food for hungry guard dogs.

That same year, news of the defection of 13 North Korean waitresses provided a boost to Pyonyang’s opponents

But recently, the waitresses’ manager admitted to tricking the women into leaving under pressure from the South Korean intelligence services. The scandal is now under UN investigation.

A separate UN investigation accusing Kim Jong-Un of crimes against humanity was marred by fabricated testimony from defectors like Shin Dong-hyuk, who confessed to inventing parts of his story.

Testimony to US Congress by another defector, Kwon Hyuk, who claimed to have witnessed live human experimentation in North Korean prisons, helped drive the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in 2004. But Kwon too was unmasked as a fabulist and quickly disappeared from the public eye....

The Transitional Justice Working Group, an NED grantee, is responsible for delivering some of these testimonies to the West.

At the NED ceremony, we met the group’s director, Hubert Younghman Lee, who emphasized the importance of American backing: “I’d like to express our sincere gratitude to bipartisan support, and also US congresspeople and US citizens especially. We are doing this work with US citizens’ tax [dollars].”

As with many high profile defectors, information delivered to Western media by South Korean intelligence has often proven unreliable, and provoked some embarrassing media updates.

In 2016, Western media filled with reports that North Korea had executed General Ri Yong-gil. However, General Ri turned up alive days later.

Three years before, Western media buzzed with reports that Kim Jong Un had executed his ex-girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol, by firing squad. Months later, Hyon appeared alive as ever, performing her music on North Korean television.

So this begs the question: is North Korea populated by zombies who rise from the dead? Or is a US-funded influence operation cultivating opposition to engagement with North Korea by relying on often unreliable sources with dubious agendas?

Bipartisan support

During the NED ceremony, Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi recalled a trip she took to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. “When we saw the people in Pyonyang — the blank faces, the brainwashing that went on — the poverty of spirit I saw exceeded the poverty [of] any place in the world.”

Pelosi then claimed that locals were executed on the spot for unauthorized corn consumption. “They would get shot if they just took one corn on the cob, one husk of corn,” she claimed.

Pelosi was among a bipartisan cast of lawmakers on hand to pay homage to the NED. They included Republican representatives like Ed Royce and Pete Roskamp, as well as Democrats like Rep. Julian Castro and Stephanie Murphy.

Though the NED was hailed by Congress as a politically benign entity advancing democracy and human rights, its record tells a different story.

Sowing chaos, spreading instability, and opening markets

The NED’s first success was the defeat of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua’s 1990 elections, replacing it with the neoliberal party of Violeta Chamorro.

Since then, the NED’s advanced US interests in countless countries: it helped swing a Russian election for Boris Yeltsin in 1996, it drove a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, it orchestrated a successful one in Haiti in 2004, and another one in Ukraine in 2014, which paved the way for neo-Nazis to move into the mainstream.

Philip Agee, the late CIA whisteblower, described the work of the NED as a more sophisticated version of the old-fashioned covert operations that Langley used to engineer. “Nowadays, instead of having the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process by inserting money here and giving instructions secretly and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, NED.”

Agee’s words were openly confirmed by Alan Weinstein, a former Trotskyist and founding member of the NED. Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Since then, NED funding has almost quadrupled. In the past four years alone, the organization has directed at least 4 million dollars into parties and media outfits in Nicaragua.

That prompted an NED funded publication — the Global Americans — to boast of the role the group played in “laying the groundwork for change” in Nicaragua, where violent protests attempted to topple the country’s elected president, Daniel Ortega. The article went on to say that “it’s becoming more and more clear that U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

Uyghur “re-education camp” allegations against NED target China

Another top target of NED and its Washington partners is China.

The US has worked closely with Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group that has faced discrimination at the hands of the Chinese government. As the confrontation with Beijing deepens, the US has attempted to use Uyghurs as a bargaining piece to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing.

At the ceremony, I met Omer Kanat, chairman of the World Uyghur Congress — a group funded almost entirely by the NED.

“The Chinese authorities have put more than one million Uyghurs in re-education camps, it is very similar to concentration camps,” Kanat claimed to me.

He said that his organization, a top NED grantee, had supplied much of the information the US government and Western media rely on about the alleged camps.

Indeed, along with the US-funded Radio Free Asia, which Kanat used to work for, Kanat’s US-funded Uighur Congress is responsible for widely reported claims that as much as one tenth of the Muslim population of China’s Xianjing province has been placed in re-education camps.

The numbers of Uighurs said to be housed in these camps vary wildly, from 120,000 to 500,000 to a million. And the sources invariably boil down to US-backed media like Radio Free Asia.

Western analysts concede that testimonies from actual camp prisoners is rare. One of the few detailed testimonies arrived through an anonymous source.

Kanat himself conceded that he did not know how many people were in the alleged camps, and that he was relying on “Western media estimates” to make his claim of one million.

The disturbing but still-unverified allegations about Uyghur re-education camps have added momentum to a new Trump national defense doctrine that singles out China as a top American adversary. With help from pundits like late night comedian John Oliver, who also echoed the claims of US-government backed sources on Xianjang, Washington appears to be hoping that a carefully crafted PR campaign will reverse Americans’ generally favorable attitude towards China.

Making Mongolia neoliberal

The NED has also turned up the heat on China by interfering in its neighbor’s elections.

Back in 1996, the International Republican Institute (IRI) — an NED partner group — helped propel right-wing libertarian parties to victory in Mongolia, dealing a death blow to the country’s socialist tradition and driving record levels of economic inequality.

At the NED ceremony, I spoke to an IRI staffer, Alexander Moree, who presented the group’s work in Mongolia as a blueprint for a post-communist North Korea. “So we took a group of defector-scholars over to Mongolia to study their transition,” Moree explained to me. “So Mongolia’s transition, if you don’t know, it was a peaceful democratic transition, there was no fighting, there was no revolution. But it developed a successful free market economy with peaceful elections without any dramatic turnover of power. It’s more of an island of democracy in Asia, and that’s more the model we want to encourage the North Koreans to pursue.”

“So like, transitioning from a socialist economy to a free market economy is paramount?” I asked him.

“Exactly.”

The meddling machine McCain built

The IRI has been led for years by Senator John McCain, who turned the group into what the New York Times called “a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman.”

Carl Gershman founded the National Endowment for Democracy. He’s neoconservative activist with roots in Trotskyism. Today, Gershman still embraces the ideology of permanent worldwide revolution.

But with peace looming on the Korean peninsula, Gershman was forced to reassure his grantees that their work for regime change would not become irrelevant.

“There is some concern among the activists that the focus on the nuclear issue today will reduce pressure for human rights in North Korea and maybe even reduce support for the kind of work that is being done by the organizations that we have honored this evening,” Gershman said. “I want to assure our friends that NED’s support is solid.”

In the Longworth hallway outside of the NED event, I asked Nancy Pelosi if she thought the US government should stop funding organizations that seeking regime change against North Korea if it signed a peace treaty with the South. “I don’t know if that’s what they do,” Pelosi responded, referring to the NED and regime change, “but I do know they promote human rights where ever they [are].”

I then asked if she considered NED activities to be the same sort of foreign meddling Russia is accused of carrying out in the US. “I’m not going into any hypotheticals,” she said, dismissing the issue out of hand.

America remains obsessed with the specter of Russian interference and Moscow’s supposed active measures against our political system. But at the same time, official Washington celebrates its own taxpayer funded meddling machine as an engine of “democracy promotion.” Does the American public know what’s being done with its money, and will there ever be a public debate on the consequences of Washington’s regime change efforts?

Ban Censorship By Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2018

In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart.” His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

“[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. ” In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

“[R]equiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so.” America’s long tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous political speech — not least among it the Revolution-era pamphlets of Thomas Paine — shouldn’t be subject to the veto of Mark Warner or Chris Murphy.

Then, a good laugh: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics.”

Since when has government ever produced proper oversight, transparency, or effective management of anything? And what could possibly go wrong with eviscerating the First Amendment to give these jokers “oversight” or “management” powers over technologies that undergird our politics? What’s really going on here?

Political blogger Michael Krieger answers that question with a simple headline: “Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared.” The American political establishment has spent the last decade quaking in its boots over the next potential disclosure from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, or whistleblowers yet unknown. This isn’t about “our democracy.” It’s about “their power.”

The US government’s use of putatively “private sector” social media outlets as proxy censors has been going on for some time, but the Russiagate scandal lent it new momentum. And it’s not just some alleged lunatic fringe that they’re after. Recent victims of Twitter’s ban policy include non-interventionist foreign policy analysts like Scott Horton (editorial director of Antiwar.com), former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren, and Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams.

We don’t need “more government oversight” of social media. What we need is for it to be recognized, and treated, as a criminal abuse of power (and a violation of US Code Title 18 § 241 — “conspiracy against rights”) for government officials or employees to attempt to “oversee” or “manage” social media’s content standards.

Let me reconfigure Chris Murphy’s authoritarian statement to name the stakes: The survival of our freedom depends on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths By Lee Camp July 26, 2018

Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right?

No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.

Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.

So … shouldn’t there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn’t it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren’t on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone’s going to work at gunpoint? No. We’re all choosing to continue on like this.

Why?

Well, it comes down to the myths we’ve been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned.

I’m going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I’m going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled “Hundreds of Myths of American Society,” (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other shit to do.

Myth No. 8—We have a democracy.

If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? … You probably can’t do it. It’s like trying to think of something that rhymes with “orange.” You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn’t. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy: A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control.

Myth No. 7—We have an accountable and legitimate voting system.

Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap!

What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system?

No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world. Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he’s driving the car? That’s what our election system is—a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, “I’m steeeeering!”

And I know it’s counterintuitive, but that’s why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what’s stolen through our ridiculous rigged system.

Myth No. 6—We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable.

Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can’t get anything resembling hard news because it’s funded by dicks.) The corporate media’s jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It’s their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I’m telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they’re standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat.

Myth No. 5—We have an independent judiciary.

The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted, “The most basic constitutional rights … have been erased for many. … Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.”

If you’re not part of the monied class, you’re pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times, “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.”

That’s the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don’t have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn’t advertise on beer coasters.)

Myth No. 4—The police are here to protect you. They’re your friends.

That’s funny. I don’t recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states.)

The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs—which by definition is a war on our own people.

We lock up more people than any other country on earth. Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea—none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty’s skirt.

Myth No. 3—Buying will make you happy.

This myth is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious).

If we’re lucky, we’ll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn’t truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you’ll feel alive!

The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won’t keep running around the wheel. And if we aren’t running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us.

Myth No. 2—If you work hard, things will get better.

According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey: “80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs” and “[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.” That’s about one-seventh of your life—and most of it is during your most productive years. Ask yourself what we’re working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to: I plant the food—>I eat the food—>If I don’t plant food = I die. But nowadays, if you work at a café—will someone die if they don’t get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-piss-latte? I kinda doubt they’ll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency.

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths By Lee Camp July 26, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right? No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself. Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation. So … shouldn’t there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn’t it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren’t on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone’s going to work at gunpoint? No. We’re all choosing to continue on like this. Are You Tired Of The Lies And Non-Stop Propaganda? Get Your FREE Daily Newsletter No Advertising - No Government Grants - This Is Independent Media Why? Well, it comes down to the myths we’ve been sold. Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned. I’m going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I’m going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled “Hundreds of Myths of American Society,” (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other shit to do. Myth No. 8—We have a democracy. If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? … You probably can’t do it. It’s like trying to think of something that rhymes with “orange.” You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn’t. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy: A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control. Myth No. 7—We have an accountable and legitimate voting system. Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap! What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system? No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world. Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he’s driving the car? That’s what our election system is—a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, “I’m steeeeering!” And I know it’s counterintuitive, but that’s why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what’s stolen through our ridiculous rigged system. Myth No. 6—We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable. Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can’t get anything resembling hard news because it’s funded by dicks.) The corporate media’s jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It’s their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I’m telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they’re standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat. Myth No. 5—We have an independent judiciary. The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted, “The most basic constitutional rights … have been erased for many. … Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.” If you’re not part of the monied class, you’re pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times, “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.” That’s the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don’t have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn’t advertise on beer coasters.) Myth No. 4—The police are here to protect you. They’re your friends. That’s funny. I don’t recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states.) The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs—which by definition is a war on our own people. We lock up more people than any other country on earth. Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea—none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty’s skirt. Myth No. 3—Buying will make you happy. This myth is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious). If we’re lucky, we’ll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn’t truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you’ll feel alive! The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won’t keep running around the wheel. And if we aren’t running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us. Myth No. 2—If you work hard, things will get better. According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey: “80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs” and “[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.” That’s about one-seventh of your life—and most of it is during your most productive years. Ask yourself what we’re working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to: I plant the food—>I eat the food—>If I don’t plant food = I die. But nowadays, if you work at a café—will someone die if they don’t get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-piss-latte? I kinda doubt they’ll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency. If you work at Macy’s, will customers perish if they don’t get those boxer briefs with the sweat-absorbent-ass fabric? I doubt it. And if they do die from that, then their problems were far greater than you could’ve known. So that means we’re all working to make other people rich because we have a society in which we have to work. Technological advancements can do most everything that truly must get done. So if we wanted to, we could get rid of most work and have tens of thousands of more hours to enjoy our lives. But we’re not doing that at all. And no one’s allowed to ask these questions—not on your mainstream airwaves at least. Even a half-step like universal basic income is barely discussed because it doesn’t compute with our cultural programming. Scientists say it’s quite possible artificial intelligence will take away all human jobs in 120 years. I think they know that will happen because bots will take the jobs and then realize that 80 percent of them don’t need to be done! The bots will take over and then say, “Stop it. … Stop spending a seventh of your life folding shirts at Banana Republic.” One day, we will build monuments to the bot that told us to enjoy our lives and … leave the shirts wrinkly.

And this leads me to the largest myth of our American society.

Myth No. 1—You are free.

And I’m not talking about the millions locked up in our prisons. I’m talking about you and me. If you think you’re free, try running around with your nipples out, ladies. Guys, take a dump on the street and see how free you are. I understand there are certain restrictions on freedom we actually desire to have in our society—maybe you’re not crazy about everyone leaving a Stanley Steamer in the middle of your walk to work. But a lot of our lack of freedom is not something you would vote for if given the chance. Try building a fire in a parking lot to keep warm in the winter. Try sleeping in your car for more than a few hours without being harassed by police. Try maintaining your privacy for a week without a single email, web search or location data set collected by the NSA and the telecoms. Try signing up for the military because you need college money and then one day just walking off the base, going, “Yeah, I was bored. Thought I would just not do this anymore.”

Try explaining to Kentucky Fried Chicken that while you don’t have the green pieces of paper they want in exchange for the mashed potatoes, you do have some pictures you’ve drawn on a napkin to give them instead. Try running for president as a third-party candidate. (Jill Stein was shackled and chained to a chair by police during one of the debates.) Try using the restroom at Starbucks without buying something … while black. We are less free than a dog on a leash. We live in one of the hardest-working, most unequal societies on the planet with more billionaires than ever. Meanwhile, Americans supply 94 percent of the paid blood used worldwide. And it’s almost exclusively coming from very poor people. This abusive vampire system is literally sucking the blood from the poor. Does that sound like a free decision they made? Or does that sound like something people do after immense economic force crushes down around them? (One could argue that sperm donation takes a little less convincing.)

Point is, in order to enforce this illogical, immoral system, the corrupt rulers—most of the time—don’t need guns and tear gas to keep the exploitation mechanisms humming along. All they need are some good, solid bullshit myths for us all to buy into, hook, line and sinker. Some fairy tales for adults. It’s time to wake up.

Reagan Ruined America The GOP is a party of nihilists, members of the government, actively working to dismantle that very government. The Trump Administration has doubled-down on this strategy, inadequately staffing critical departments including the State Department, and appointing agency heads who aim to destroy their agencies: Scott Pruitt at the EPA or Ryan Zinke at Interior. Republicans want us to become so disenchanted with government that we let them tear the whole structure down. That means an end to environmental regulations, Social Security, food stamps, and consumer protections: a libertarian dream.

To understand how a major political party became obsessed with destroying government, consider their demigod, Ronald Reagan. No man has done more to erode American faith in government, collective action, and national community. Reagan took libertarianism mainstream and created our first anti-government government. Thirty years later, we are still paying the price.

From the 1930s until the 1970s, income inequality fell and the nation’s middle class experienced unprecedented growth in living standards. While global competition and the 1970s recession dampened middle class prosperity, Reagan’s policies were an economic game-changer.

Reagan believed in “trickle-down economics” the voodoo that tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy will flow down to benefit the rest of Americans.

Thus, Reagan more than halved the cut the top income tax rate, while simultaneously slashing public assistance programs. As a result, the rich grabbed a far greater share of the nation’s wealth, while wages for middle class workers stagnated. The benefits never trickled-down: talk of “job-creators” and “makers vs. takers” won’t hide the fact that the one-percent have prospered, while the middle class has been hollowed out.

In addition to reducing taxes on the rich, Reagan attacked another libertarian bogeyman, organized labor. When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike in 1981, Reagan took the radical step of firing over 10,000 of these government employees. This act not only damaged the aviation system for years, but also struck a blow against all unions.

Reagan’s conservative heirs like Scott Walker have used his treatment of PATCO to strip collective bargaining power from public employees, and advocate “right-to-work” laws to cripple unions.

Reagan also worked to weaken workers’ rights through pro-employer appointees on the National Labor Relations Board. These appointees helped shatter America’s unions and reduce the power of America’s workers.

Today, most Americans enjoy less job security and far fewer benefits than their parents did. Reagan’s assault on organized labor paved the way for the gig economy, where more and more workers lack benefits, representation, and rights.

Greed is Good
Beyond stacking the deck against ordinary Americans through tax and labor policies, Reagan destabilized the economy through his embrace of unbridled capitalism. Reagan’s economic team believed in radically free markets and saw little role for the government as regulator or defender of the public interest. Their philosophy began the trend of financial deregulation that has led to repeated economic crises including the Savings and Loan Crisis, the Dot Com Bubble, and the Great Recession. By eliminating government oversight, Reagan incentivized risky behavior. No wonder that the Garn-St. Germain Act, which deregulated the savings and loan industry, was followed by the Savings and Loan Crisis.

Reagan’s Administration also showed an appalling unwillingness to prosecute the epidemic of white-collar crime of the 1980s. This era of “cowboy capitalism” was marked by corporate raiders who made millions by cutting American jobs, Wall Street market manipulators, and obscene compensation for CEOs. Given that a record 138 Reagan appointees were indicted during his presidency, perhaps it’s no surprise that the administration failed to act against these anti-social practices. Previously, the government had moderated such excesses, punishing bad behavior and regulating business to prevent economic crises. After Reagan, deregulation unsurprisingly became a pillar of the GOP platform. Frustratingly, even some Democrats have advocated deregulation, due to the massive lobbying efforts of Wall Street.

While Reagan supported corporate welfare, he opposed actual welfare and anti-poverty programs. He saw government assistance programs as corrupt, incompetent money pits that cheated hardworking (white) Americans out of their tax dollars. The “welfare queen” captures this racist view. Sadly, this image has shaped popular perceptions of welfare recipients as irresponsible drug-abusers, despite evidence to the contrary. Although many whites in red states benefitted from public assistance, the GOP cynically employed racist dog-whistles to convince voters that these critical programs exclusively benefitted non-whites. Their strategy sought to destroy the social safety net by turning different ethnic groups against each other. Today, Trump copies this script to divide Americans on issues like immigration and voting rights.

Every man for himself
To a libertarian, freedom means the right to take as much as we can for ourselves. As Reagan’s ally, Margaret Thatcher, once said, “there is no such thing as society.” There’s no more libertarian creed than that. Such a view destroys any idea of community or collective action, and makes greed a virtue and a right. Human history has shown the folly of this go-it-alone approach. From winning WWII to putting a man on the moon, from the New Deal dams to atomic energy, many of America’s greatest achievements have been the result of coordinated, collective action.

Representative Barney Frank once said, “government is simply the name for the things we do together.” Reagan and his successors have waged a 30-year war against this active and community-minded vision. Unfortunately, they have been winning. Trust in government is at historic lows, and many Republicans see no role for the government in improving life in America.

The Reagan Revolution is already a generation old. In that time, we have seen the fall of the middle class and the rise of inequality, the proliferation a selfish and self-destructive brand of capitalism, and the exploitation of ethnic resentment and community disintegration. To that legacy, we should “just say no.”

How the U.S. Prevented North Korea and South Korea From Reaching Real Peace By Michael Pembroke August 14, 2018

China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree.

In the long history of Korea, nothing compares to the 20th century division of the peninsula or the war that followed. That war has not finished, and a peace treaty remains elusive. China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree.

If President Trump turns out to be the exception, that shift could help put an end to more than a half-century of conflict — and the role of the United States in determining whether peace arrives is not a small one. Neither is it coincidental: in fact, the U.S. has played a key role in keeping the conflict going as long as it has.

The division of Korea is not what Franklin Delano Roosevelt intended as World War II ended. As President, he had discussed with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin an “international trusteeship” of Korea that would help bring the country out of Japanese colonial rule and restore its sovereignty. But Roosevelt died in April 1945 and President Truman had different priorities. The change of thinking by the Truman administration led to a change of direction that altered the course of history in northeast Asia.

What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador By Peter Koenig August 14, 2018

Stories about corruption and internally government-generated violence concerning most unaligned countries abound in the MSM. These lies fuel hatred. And the public at large start a malicious rumor circuit. Which, in turn is taken over by the MSM, so that their lies are pushing in open doors. The war drums start beating. The populace wants foreign imposed order, they want blood and ‘regime change’. The consensus for war has once more worked. And the blood may flow. Instigated by outside forces, such as the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, which train and fund nationals clandestinely in-and outside the country where eventually they have to operate. They are commandeered by Washington and other western powers and act so as to blame the “non-obedient” governments, whose regime must be changed. They constitute part of the Fifth Column.

A Fifth Column is a group of people, who undermine the government of a country in support of the enemy. They can be both covert and open. The term Fifth Column originates from the Spanish Civil War, when in October 1936 nationalist rebel General Mola initiated the coup d’état against the legitimate Republican Government. This marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. General Mola besieged Madrid with four “columns” of troops and claimed he had a “Fifth Column”, hiding inside the city. The term was henceforth used for infiltrated enemies within a legitimate government. Mola, the mastermind behind the coup died in a 1937 plane crash, and General Francisco Franco became Spain’s dictator for the next almost 40 years. He prevailed over the Republican resistance thanks to Hitler’s and Mussolini’s air support.

Now what’s the true story behind the violence-plagued Nicaragua and Venezuela, and the treacherous new Moreno government in Ecuador?

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot’s fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela’s petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz’ successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt (“The Revolution will Not be Televised”, 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington’s backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates’ key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

Take Nicaragua – it all started with the Board of Directors of the Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) on 16 April 2018 approving an IMF-imposed social security reform, modified and then supported by President Ortega. The reform maintained social security at its current level, but would increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund. These reforms triggered the coup attempt initiated by the business lobby and backed by the Nicaraguan oligarchy.

Student protests were already ongoing in different university cities in connection with university elections. These protests were re-directed against the Ortega government with the help of US-funded NGOs and the Catholic Church, an ally of the wealthy in most of Latin America. Some of the students involved in ‘re-directing’ the protests were brought to the US for training by the Freedom House, a long-time associate of the CIA. USAID announced an additional US$ 1.5 million to build opposition to the Ortega Government. These funds along with financing from the NED will be channeled to NGOs to support anti-government protests.

Summarizing, in the course of the weeks following the coup, violence increased leaving a total of more than 300 dead by early August. Even though Ortega reversed the pension measures, unrests continued, now demanding the resignation of the President and Vice-President, his wife Rosario Murillo Zambrana. Daniel Ortega, a Sandinista and former guerilla leader, was first elected President in 1985. It is clear that the US and the dark forces behind the empire were preparing Fifth Column-type groups to intervene and take advantage of any social upheaval in the country to bring about regime change. What could have and would have been contained, continued as US inspired violent protests eventually aiming at the overthrow of Ortega’s government. That would bring Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua – and Panama – in line with US policies. Will Washington succeed?

On Venezuela – In mid-June 2018, I was privileged to be invited to Caracas as one of several international economists to participate in a Presidential Economic Advisory Commission – to discuss internal and external economic issues. Without going into details of the commission’s deliberations – it is absolutely clear who is behind the food and medicine boycotts (empty supermarket shelves), and the induced internal violence. It is a carbon copy of what the CIA under Kissinger’s command did in Chile in 1973 which led to the murder of the legitimate and democratically elected President Allende and to the Pinochet military coup; except, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary experience, and built up some tough resistance.

To understand the context ‘Venezuela’, we may have to look at the country’s history.

Before the fully democratically and internationally observed election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was governed for at least 100 years by dictators and violent despots which were directed by and served only the United States. The country, extremely rich in natural resources, was exploited by the US and Venezuelan oligarchs to the point that the population of one of the richest Latin-American countries remained poor instead of improving its standard of living according to country’s natural riches. The people were literally enslaved by Washington controlled regimes.

A first coup attempt by Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1992 was oppressed by the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Chavez was sent to prison along with his co-golpistas. After two years, he was freed by the Government of Rafael Caldera.

During Peréz’ first term in office (1974-1979) and his predecessors, Venezuela attained a high economic growth based on almost exclusive oil exports. Though, hardly anything of this growth stayed in the country and was distributed to the people. The situation was pretty much the same as it is in today’s Peru which before the 2008 crisis and shortly thereafter had phenomenal growth rates – between 5% and 8% – of which 80% went to 5% of the population oligarchs and foreign investors, and 20% was to be distributed to 95% of the population – and that on a very uneven keel. The result was and is a growing gap between rich and poor, increasing unemployment and delinquency.

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot’s fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela’s petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz’ successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt (“The Revolution will Not be Televised”, 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington’s backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates’ key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

In addition, another socialist revolution as one of Washington’s southern neighbor – in addition to Cuba – is not convenient. Therefore, the US and her secret forces will do everything to bring about regime change, by constant economic aggressions, blockades, sanctions, boycotts of imports and their internal distribution – as well as outrights military threats. The recent assassination attempt of President Maduro falls into the same category.

And let’s not forget, Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia, fully under Washington’s control, has just recently become a NATO country. How absurd, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, stationed in a South American country. But then, NATO is also in Afghanistan, Syria, in the Balkans and wherever US-instigated conflicts need to be fought. Colombian and Venezuela share a border of some 2,200 km of which about 1,500 are difficult to control ‘porous’ jungle, from where clandestine as well as overt military infiltrations are relatively easy. They may also spread to other South American countries. It’s already happening into countries with open doors for US military, like Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Less than 5 years ago, 80% of Latin American populations lived under democratically elected, left-leaning governments. It took South America some 20-25 years to free themselves from the fangs of the Monroe Doctrine. Now in the course of a few years the trend has been reversed, through US intervention with election manipulations – Argentina, Ecuador, Chile – and parliamentary coups – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay. – Venezuela, together with Bolivia and Cuba, today is Latin America’s last holdout ad hope.

What lays ahead for Ecuador does not look bright. Several IMF inspired reforms – yes, Ecuador returned to the IMF and World Bank – might reverse social gains achieved under the Correa Regime for the working and indigenous people. Also, a breach on free speech by Moreno is imminent: He announced already a while ago that Julian Assange’s days in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are counted. If and when Assange has to leave the Embassy, he will likely be arrested by UK police and eventually handed over to the US – where he may expect a very uncertain, but possibly violent future.

The US Is Once Again Supporting Death Squads in Central America June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United States has been quietly funding and equipping elite paramilitary police units in El Salvador accused of extrajudicially murdering suspected gang members, according to a forthcoming United Nations report reviewed in advance by CNN.

UN Calls on US to “Immediately Halt” Policy of Detaining Migrant Children June 06, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday demanded that the Trump administration “immediately halt” its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice “always constitutes a child rights violation.”

Criminal Nation: Obama and Trump Both Should Be Jailed for War Crimes By Glen Ford, May 11, 2017

It is as if the Gambino and Genovese crime families were arguing their turf disputes in the courts and the news media.

It’s the Saturday Night Massacre all over again, cry the Democrats, harkening back to the weekend in 1973 when President Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. But this is not about the rule of law -- quite the opposite: it’s about continuing the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun in 2011 under President Obama, a wholly illegal aggression that has destroyed Libya, killed half a million Syrians, delivered vast regions to the control of the two feuding factions of al-Qaida, and brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

US Not Sitting Idly By on Eve of Venezuelan Election 5/20/18 As Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday, the U.S. is working to disrupt the re-election of Nicolas Maduro and rollback leftwing governments in the region, reports Roger D. Harris.

The Korean Massacre the U.S. Needs to Apologize For 5/20/18 To help make peace in Korea, the U.S. should follow South Korea's lead and apologize for its role in the devastating Jeju massacre.

The White House-Mercenary Connection By Lawrence Davidson [retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester PA.] April 30, 2018

When the United Nations General Assembly met in December 1989, one of its most important achievements was passage of the Mercenary Convention – the “International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.” The Convention was subsequently ratified by 35 countries and went into effect as an international treaty in 2001.

Considering that, historically, mercenaries have, with rare exception (today’s Swiss Guard at the Vatican), proven to be lawless killers who both spread and thrive on anarchy, this move by the General Assembly was a prescient one. The problem was, and still is, that many of the world’s “great powers” are remarkably short-sighted and refuse to sign on. Among these is the United States. In the meantime the mercenary business has become a worldwide big business. So much for the UN Mercenary Convention.

Now, some 29 years later, we have a president of the United States, Donald Trump, who thinks the world’s most notorious mercenary – an American by the name of Erik Prince – can help achieve the misguided goals of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East. It would seem that the answer to that perennial question, “Will they ever learn?” is no.

Under Prince’s leadership Blackwater was employed by the G. W. Bush administration to protect convoys of American diplomats in Iraq. It did so in a predictable “cowboy” fashion, leaving a large number of dead civilians in its wake. Most of Blackwater’s second-tier administrators ended up under indictment in the U.S., and some of its operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan have been charged with murder. None of this was surprising to anyone who knew the history of mercenary forces.

In 2010 Erik Prince decided he “needed a break from the United States” and moved to Abu Dhabi, where he now acts as a military adviser to the United Arab Emirates.

Donald Trump and Erik Prince are a good match. First, both men believe in the privatization of almost all activities (including military ones) that are, in truth, best carried on by responsible governments. The “free” market is their ultimate definition of freedom generally. As we will see, this really makes them both advocates for anarchy. Here they follow in others’ footsteps. Remember that Prince’s initial employer was the Bush Jr. administration, also made up of conservative “free” market ideologues.

Second, both men are immoral – they have no scruples. This is pretty obvious when it comes to Trump and his corrupt cohorts, and Prince is in at the fringes of that syndicate. He reportedly served as a go-between for Trump and Russian bankers with close connections to Vladimir Putin. This effort was allegedly made to establish a back-channel connection between the incoming Trump administration and the Russians. It is possible that, in sworn testimony before Congress, Prince lied about the nature of his activities in this regard.

Religious zealots, just like most ideological fanatics, are prone to violence, and some of history’s bloodiest crimes have been committed in the name of religion. That includes recent ones like G. W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. G.W. reportedly claimed he was told to invade by God. The problem is ongoing. To judge from today’s headlines, it would seem that violent religious zealots are the scourge of our age. So Prince fits right in.

President Trump’s present interest in Prince has to do with the bloody mess in Syria. Trump is under some pressure from the U.S. military to pull out the 2,000 or so U.S. troops still in that country. But in Trump’s view this would be a step toward turning the western part of that country (where the U.S. forces operate) over to the Assad government, the Iranians and the Russians. So he needs an alternative strategy. Trump has consulted with the Saudis and Gulf Arabs about funding and manning what amounts to a mercenary army to replace the U.S. troops in Syria. And who is the West’s expert in mercenary endeavors – the fellow who can put all of this together and make it work? It is Erik Prince.

The notion that the good society is the one that looks after the basic needs of its citizens so as to create a platform for the realization of their creative potentials is, if not dead, then in serious abeyance. Something has come along to undermine this ideal. What now competes with it is the idealization of anarchy. And, in this the United States leads the way. The main route to this end is economic – the privatization of just about everything while simultaneously destroying regulation. We know, again from history, that this can only lead to disaster, but the politicians who are leading this charge are themselves ideologues who don’t give a fig for any history that might call into question their free market preferences.

The main route opens into many tributaries and one of them leads to the mercenary – the gun for hire. It is hard enough keeping professional soldiers in line – those operating under rules of engagement put in place by states which have signed on to the Geneva Conventions. Bring mercenaries into the mix and, as Niccolo Machiavelli realized at the end of the 15th century, you are now tying your interests to untrustworthy and quite bloodthirsty barbarians. To grasp this fact you must know something about the history of warfare and be able to correctly learn from the experiences of others. Most politicians seem not to be able to do either of these things. It’s an old story and seems to be today’s story as well.

The (Unrecognized) US Contribution to Bloodshed in Syria By As`ad AbuKhalil April 30, 2018

The US has been heavily involved in the Syrian war from the very beginning-and most probably even before that.

The dominant US. media narrative says only the Syrian government has killed anyone during the seven-year conflict while the US role in Syria’s nightmare is blacked out, says As’ad AbuKhalil in the first part of this Consortium News commentary.

The US government—under Barack Obama and Donald Trump—has managed to exonerate itself from responsibility for the carnage in Syria and the prolongation of the war there. Media of the left and right (those ideological distinctions are meaningless when it comes to the coverage of the Syrian war in the US) have contributed to a narrative that basically presents the US as an innocent bystander to the bloodshed in Syria.

Worse, even when the US clearly engages in bombing which results in high rates of civilian casualties, the US media and the public attributes benevolent motives to the US—first to Obama and then to Trump. You have to believe that Trump orders bombing of Syria (or “bombing of Bashshar,” as US media like to say, implying that US bombs and rockets don’t fall on innocent Syrians) because Trump is moved by scenes of suffering. For this bizarre narrative to set in, it was necessary to engage in falsification and propaganda that far exceeds the propaganda of any party to the conflict. Far from being an outside party, the US has been heavily involved in the Syrian war from the very beginning—and most probably even before that.

The US government (and the compliant media—from the left to the far right) established a convenient explanation for the Syrian conflict: that the US and its allies (some of the most despotic regimes on the face of the earth in addition to the Israeli occupation state) have not contributed to any of the killing in Syria. All the killing in the civil war, this explanation goes—and it has become a civil war, albeit with regional and international dimensions like the Lebanese civil war—has been perpetrated by foes of the US and Israel.

Damascus - the Sarajevo of 21st Century? By Finian Cunningham April 30, 2018

NATO allies do not seem willing to comply with international law.

The 20 happiest countries on the planet The latest World Happiness Report reveals that Scandinavia continues to reign supreme; USA gets sadder and sadder.

the report is intended as a tool to help create positive public policy, including policy directed at helping the planet.

And every year the report reads like a love letter to Scandinavia; this year is no exception. What is different for 2018 is that the poor United States of America, a country that went from 13th to 14th place last year, tumbled to 18th place this year. It is the worst ranking that the USA has received since the report was founded.

Money Laundering: Is It Really True that Switzerland Is the #1 Most Corrupt Nation, and the U.S. #2? Counter Information By Eric Zuesse, Global Research, February 01, 2018

The Tax Justice Network produces a Financial Secrecy Index, ranking countries for the assistance their legal systems provide, to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the score, the more corrupt the government is. The last time this Index was published, in 2015, Switzerland was rated the world’s most-corrupt country, and Hong Kong was then #2.

But now, in its newly released global rankings, “Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results”, though Switzerland still holds its #1 (most-corrupt) spot, the U.S. has become #2, and Hong Kong has now fallen to #4, which is immediately below Cayman Islands (which is #3, and which had been #5 in 2015).

This Is Your Brain on Money: Why America’s Rich Think Differently Than the Rest of Us Economist Chris Dillow cites research by Cameron Anderson and Sebastien Brion, showing that overconfident individuals are seen by others as more competent. He argues that, “overconfident people are more likely to be promoted. And this could have positive feedback effects. Higher status will itself breed even more overconfidence. (E.g. “I got the job so I must be good.”) And if bosses employ like-minded subordinates, the result could be entire layers of management which are both over-confident and engaged in groupthink.” Many other studies cited.

Making America Great Through Exploitation, Servitude and Abuse By James Petras [a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York] February 11, 2018


Can anyone say with a straight face that the US remains a nation of free and autonomous citizens?

The public denunciation by thousands of women and a few men that they had been victims of sexual abuse by their economic bosses raises fundamental issues about the social relations of American capitalism.

The moral offenses are in essence economic and social crimes. Sexual abuse is only one aspect of the social dynamics facilitating the increase in inequality and concentration of wealth, which define the practices and values of the American political and economic system.

Billionaires and mega-millionaires are themselves the products of intense exploitation of tens of millions of isolated and unorganized wage and salaried workers. Capitalist exploitation is based on a rigid hierarchy with its private prerogatives, which enables the oligarchs to demand their feudal privileges, their seigniorial sexual predations.

US capitalism thrives on and requires unlimited power and the capacity to have the public treasury pay for its untrammeled pillage of land, labor, transport systems and technological development. Capitalist power, in the United States, has no counterpart; there are few if any countervailing forces to provide any balance....

The much-celebrated technological innovations have been subsidized by the state and its educational and research institutions. Although these are financed by the tax-payers, the citizen-workers are marginalized by the technological changes, like robotics, that they originally funded. High tech innovations flourish because they concentrate power, profits and private privilege.

The hierarchical matrix of power and exploitation has led to the polarization of mortality rates and moral codes. For the working poor, the absence of competent health care has led to the massive use and abuse of prescription opioids and other addictive drugs. For the upper class, it has led to the flagrant physical and psychological abuse of vulnerable employees, especially, but not exclusively young working women. The prestigious bourgeois media blur the class polarization by constant reference to what they term ‘our shared traditional democratic values.’

The most advanced forms of entertainment thrive in an environment of absolute impunity in which the occasional exposé of abuse or corruption is hidden behind a monetary settlement. The courage of an individual victim able to secure public attention is a step forward, but will have greater significance if it is organized and linked to a massive challenging of the power of the bourgeois entertainment industry and the system of high tech exploitation. Sexual abuse of an individual in the workplace is just part of a chain that begins with exploitation of workers in general and can only be stopped through collective worker organization.

Servitude and moral degradation are the outcome of an atomized, impotent laboring class who may change one boss for another or one vulgar president for a moralizing hypocrite. We hope that the exposés will start something but without class conscious organizations we '’t know what will arise.

US Largely to Blame for Venezuela’s Crumbling Economy? By Joe Emersberger February 02, 2018

In 1998, when the late Hugo Chavez was first elected, Venezuela had a poverty rate of about 50 percent despite having been among the world’s top oil exporters since the 1930s — and had governments that consistently had good relations with the United States.

In the late 1970s, at one of its most prosperous points ever as measured by per capita GDP, Venezuela’s child mortality rate was about double that of Cuba’s and Costa Rica’s.

In April of 2002, Chavez was overthrown for two days in a military coup. The New York Times editorial board said the coup was a victory for democracy and praised the soon to be ousted dictator, Pedro Carmona, as a “respected businessman”.

Prominent opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles led the kidnapping of a government minister while Carmona was in power.

Sixty people were killed in the uprising that ousted Carmona. The U.S. Office of the Inspector General conceded that the Bush Administration provided “training, institution building and other support” to groups involved in the military coup.

Two months before Chavez was overthrown in 2002, he floated Venezuela’s currency. It was set by supply and demand rather than at a fixed rate or multiple rates set by the government.

In other words, Chavez corrected what would become the government’s most devastating error in economic policy in recent years.

Months after the coup, the U.S.-backed opposition led a two month shutdown of the oil industry that drove the poverty rate over 60 percent.

The government reverted to a fixed exchange rate system and never again floated the currency.

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.? bigger version of the map

USA: A Different Strategy For A Different Ambition The U.S. is a Joint Criminal Enterprise intent on seizing control of the world for its sole interests. By Christopher Black January 10, 2017

I have just read through the new United States National Security Strategy released by President Trump in December 2017. There have been many comments on it most of them focusing on the hostility in the document towards Russia and China but also some question of what the Strategy is.

Well, after reading page after page of delusions, bombast, bragging, bullying, lies, fantasies and deep-seated megalomania, you discover that there is no strategy. They '’t have one. The only use that document has is as irrefutable evidence that the government of the United States is what they like to call a Joint Criminal Enterprise intent on seizing control of the world for its sole interests.

Fortunately, they have, apparently, no idea how they are going to achieve that goal except through war, war, and more war, and if that doesn’t work some more war until they collapse from exhaustion, like a mad, rabid dog.

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America The Guardian, Dec. 15. 2017

a two-week journey into the dark side of the American Dream. The spotlight of the UN monitor, an independent arbiter of human rights standards across the globe, has fallen on this occasion on the US, culminating on Friday with the release of his initial report in Washington.

His fact-finding mission into the richest nation the world has ever known has led him to investigate the tragedy at its core: the 41 million people who officially live in poverty.

Of those, nine million have zero cash income – they do not receive a cent in sustenance.

Alston’s epic journey has taken him from coast to coast, deprivation to deprivation. Starting in LA and San Francisco, sweeping through the Deep South, traveling on to the colonial stain of Puerto Rico then back to the stricken coal country of West Virginia, he has explored the collateral damage of America’s reliance on private enterprise to the exclusion of public help.

Think of it as payback time. As the UN special rapporteur himself put it: “Washington is very keen for me to point out the poverty and human rights failings in other countries. This time I’m in the US.”

David Busch, who is currently homeless on Venice beach, in Los Angeles. Photograph: Dan Tuffs for the Guardian ~ The Gubbio project at St Boniface in San Francisco. The church opens its doors every weekday at 6am to allow homeless people to rest until 3pm. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The tour comes at a critical moment for America and the world. It began on the day that Republicans in the US Senate voted for sweeping tax cuts that will deliver a bonanza for the super wealthy while in time raising taxes on many lower-income families. The changes will exacerbate wealth inequality that is already the most extreme in any industrialized nation, with three men – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet – owning as much as half of the entire American people.

A few days into the UN visit, Republican leaders took a giant leap further. They announced plans to slash key social programs in what amounts to an assault on the already threadbare welfare state.

“Look up! Look at those banks, the cranes, the luxury condos going up,” exclaimed General Dogon, who used to be homeless on Skid Row and now works as a local activist with Lacan. “Down here, there’s nothing. You see the tents back to back, there’s no place for folks to go.”

California made a suitable starting point for the UN visit. It epitomizes both the vast wealth generated in the tech boom for the 0.001%, and the resulting surge in housing costs that has sent homelessness soaring. Los Angeles, the city with by far the largest population of street dwellers in the country, is grappling with crisis numbers that increased 25% this past year to 55,000.

Conspiracy Theorists Were Right: Corporate Media Finally Forced to Admit America Armed ISIS A new investigation has concluded that 97 percent of the weapons used by the Islamic State were supplied illegally by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Mainstream Media Just Admitted Billions of Your Tax Dollars Are Funding Child Rape on a Massive Scale Americans are funding a massive child rape operation—to the tune of $70 billion—and most people could not care less.

Afghanistan — As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the US has known about and covered up horrifying acts of sexual abuse committed by US-allied commanders against children. Not only is the Pentagon covering up the abuse, but your tax dollars are funding it—to the tune of $70 billion.

According to the Leahy Law, no assistance shall be furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the “Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

It is widely known that U.S.-funded Afghan units routinely engage in “bacha bazi” — boy play. This practice consists of military leaders kidnapping male children and holding them as sex slaves. As TFTP reported at the time, scores of witnesses have come forward to report the rampant sexual abuse committed by their Afghan allies and not only does the US do nothing about it but they are actually funding it.

Afghanistan War Crimes Probe A Sham and Cover-up For US By Finian Cunningham November 14, 2017

The ICC [The Hague-based International Criminal Court] is a byword for self-serving Western political control, either whitewashing crimes or smearing designated opponents.

How America Spreads Global Chaos By Nicolas J.S. Davies November 01, 2017

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a “rules-based” global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is “might makes right” — and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer


As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it, and then pushing on regardless, all came down to “credibility”: the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America’s international credibility as a military power.

Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA’s politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country’s credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. His predictable response has been to escalate ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and West Africa, and to threaten new ones against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

Ironically but predictably, the U.S.’s aggressive and illegal war policy has finally provoked a real military threat to the U.S., albeit one that has emerged only in response to U.S. war plans. As I explained in a recent article, North Korea’s discovery in 2016 of a U.S. plan to assassinate its president, Kim Jong Un, and launch a Second Korean War has triggered a crash program to develop long-range ballistic missiles that could give North Korea a viable nuclear deterrent and prevent a U.S. attack. But the North Koreans will not feel safe from attack until their leaders and ours are sure that their missiles can deliver a nuclear strike against the U.S. mainland.

North Korea – As Trump Threatens, the Nation Still Struggles with America’s Lethal Legacy The US is undoubtedly the "Leader of the Free World" in one thing: killing.

Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ … More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” (Amnesty International, 1996.)

As the US threatens to decimate North Korea again – if not the entire planet, given 'ald Trump’s chillingly casual approach to the use of nuclear weapons – an article (1) has revealed the criminal legacy remaining from America’s last attack, ending sixty four years ago, on a country smaller than Mississippi. (North Korea is a landmass of 120,540 square kilometers, Mississippi is 125,443 square kilometers.)

“Experts say it will take a hundred years to clean up all of the unexploded ordnance”, says Major Jong Il Hyon: “but I think it will take much longer.”

In Hamhung, the country’s second largest city three hundred and seventy mortar rounds were found in an elementary school playground in October last year, with a rusted, lethal round discovered nearby in February this year.

“Bombs, mortars and pieces of live ammunition” are still found in “thousands.” “Virtually all of it is American”

The US is undoubtedly the “Leader of the Free World” in one thing: killing. It is also clearly the undisputed king of overkill and the most murderous of legacies, ensuring its actions will never be forgotten or indeed forgiven by the populations affected. Which of course, is why North Korea is trying to ensure it is powerfully enough armed to deter another attack. Whatever it has or has not achieved in this respect, compared to America’s planet threatening nuclear arsenal, it is utterly insignificant, for all Washington’s undiplomatic, bombastic bluster.

Has anyone on Capitol Hill heard of “cause and effect”?

Our Ever-Deadlier Police State By Chris Hedges October 24, 2017

None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense.

The grotesque distortions of the judicial system and the aggressive war on the poor by the police will get worse under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There has been a rollback of President Barack Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the 1033 Program, a 1989 congressional action that allows the transfer of military weaponry, including grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers and .50-caliber machine guns, from the federal government to local police forces. Since 1997, the Department of Defense has turned over a staggering $5.1 billion in military hardware to police departments.

The Trump administration also is resurrecting private prisons in the federal prison system, accelerating the so-called war on drugs, stacking the courts with right-wing “law and order” judges and preaching the divisive politics of punishment and retribution.

The Praetorian Guard of the elites, as in all totalitarian systems, will soon be beyond the reach of the law. As Vitale writes in his book, “Our entire criminal justice system has become a gigantic revenge factory.”

This is what Trump is playing to. This idea that the only appropriate role for the state is one of coercion and threats—whether it’s in the foreign policy sphere or in the domestic sphere.”

Police forces, as Vitale writes in his book, were not formed to ensure public safety or prevent crime. They were created by the property classes to maintain economic and political dominance and exert control over slaves, the poor, dissidents and labor unions that challenged the wealthy’s hold on power and ability to amass personal fortunes. Many of America’s policing techniques, including widespread surveillance, were pioneered and perfected in colonies of the U.S. and then brought back to police departments in the homeland. Blacks in the South had to be controlled, and labor unions and radical socialists in the industrial Northeast and Midwest had to be broken.

Again, the direct connection between colonialism and the domestic management of workers. … It’s a two-way exchange. As we’re developing ideas throughout our own colonial undertakings, bringing those ideas home, and then refining them and shipping them back to our partners around the world who are often despotic regimes with close economic relationships to the United States. There’s a very sad history here of the U.S. exporting basically models of policing that morphs into death squads and horrible human rights abuses.”

The accelerated assault on the poor and the growing omnipotence of the police signal our transformation into an authoritarian state in which the rich and the powerful are not subject to the rule of law. The Trump administration will promote none of the conditions that could ameliorate this crisis—affordable housing; well-paying jobs; safe and nurturing schools that do not charge tuition; better mental health facilities; efficient public transportation; the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure; demilitarized police forces in which most officers do not carry weapons; universal, government-funded health care; an end to the predatory loans and unethical practices of big banks; and reparations to African-Americans and an end to racial segregation.

Trump and most of those he has appointed to positions of power disdain the poor as a dead weight on society. They blame stricken populations for their own misery. They seek to subjugate the poor, especially those of color, through police violence, ever harsher forms of punishment and an expansion of the prison system.

U.S. Nuclear Bombers Prepare to Go on 24-Hr Alert for First Time Since the Cold War


Washington, DC – With tensions continually escalating on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. Air Force is reportedly preparing to put its fleet of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers on 24-hour ready alert for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Texas Officials Forcing Hurricane Victims to Pledge Loyalty to Israel to Receive Funding—Seriously According to official documents, Hurricane Harvey victims reportedly have to agree to not "boycott Israel," in order to receive aid to rebuild their homes.


As the Americans who were affected by Hurricane Harvey attempt to rebuild their homes and replace their belongings, they have the option to request help from the city they live in—but residents in Dickinson, Texas, are learning that their city’s “Harvey Repair Grant” comes with a strange clause.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement criticizing the requirement and noting that while “the city appears to be enforcing a recently passed Texas law that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel,” it is still a clear violation of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled on the “right to boycott” in the 1982 case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. As the ACLU noted, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the NAACP’s decision to boycott a Mississippi business to protest segregation and racial injustice was “a protected form of free association and free expression,” based on the fact that “political boycotts empower individuals to collectively express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and advocate for political, social, and economic change. These are precisely the freedoms the Constitution is meant to protect.”

As The Free Thought Project reported in July, the United States Congress is currently considering the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a crime to “boycott Israel” that could lead to “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”

In addition to the problems that stem from the fact that requiring Americans to agree to not “boycott Israel” is in direct violation of their rights to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, it is also a broad term that can be defined in a number of ways.

Does agreeing not to boycott Israel mean that one specifically agrees not to support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement against Israel, or can the meaning be as broad as to include that one agrees to not criticize the Israeli government, the blockade it has imposed on Palestine, or even the nearly $4 Billion the U.S. sends Israel in military assistance each year?

The Iran Dilemma – The Tyrant Has Spoken The tyrant, of course, is 'ald Trump. He launched tirade after tirade, and keeps launching them, insult after insult, lies after lies after miserable lies at the Government of Iran


Since it is now difficult for Mr. Trump or any of his handlers to pretend that Iran has failed the agreement, Trump has changed his language. He, and some of his most ridiculous stooges say now that Iran is infringing on the “spirit” of the agreement, as if Trump even knew what spirit and spirituality means.

He, the tyrant, keeps insulting and hammering down on the Government of Iran all the same – spreading lies which even Iran’s enemies know are lies: Iran is spreading and funding terrorism in the region, and the world, they are[military] threat to the region – and they are even a ‘National Security Threat’ – 12,000 km away from Washington. Imagine, one of the most peaceful countries in the world. The only National Security Threat to virtually ALL the nations of the globe, minus Israel, is the only rogue state we know – the United States of America.

Iran is beyond sanctions. Iran is already part of the new economic system – the one emanating from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, and detached from the dollar hegemony. Therefore, slandering Iran, threatening Iran with war and sanctions or both, is one big bluff – and Trump, Netanyahu’s puddle, believe the world will go for it.

Both countries are trading with the world since quite a while outside of the fiat dollar system, using instead yuans and rubles convertible into gold. That’s the new currency standard offered to the world. The west can take it or leave it.. It’s like jumping on the fast train that has already left the Shanghai station, racing through Eurasia towards Europe, called the OBI – the One Belt Initiative, President Xi’s answer to the western economy of fraud, that will lay the tracks for a new and peaceful economy, possibly for the next few hundred years.

I have said it many times before, and will keep repeating it, the future is in the east; the west is passé. It is committing suicide, greed, war and lie-driven auto-destruction. Iran, India, Pakistan are already members of the SCO, others, including NATO Turkey, are vying to join and be no longer vulnerable to US imposed sanctions and sledgehammer policies.

Even far-away Venezuela has decided to trade her hydrocarbon resources with China in gold-convertible yuans. Hence, Venezuela is detaching herself from the dollar economy, freeing herself from the financial and economic shackles of Wall street, the FED and the Bretton Woods Institutions. Venezuela is a beacon illuminating a new economy for South America, as well as an example of a solid democracy, as demonstrated by this past weekend’s regional fully transparent elections to elect governors and state legislators – a new path to follow by other Latin American countries, who are still enslaved and trampled by the dictate of Washington.

America's Scramble for Africa By Finian Cunningham October 21, 2017

The ugly row over whether President Trump disrespected the young widow of a fallen American soldier has overshadowed a bigger issue. That is, the increasing number of US military operations across the African continent.

In all the media controversy over what Trump said or didn't say, questions about what US troops are doing in Niger are unfortunately overlooked. Not just Niger, but in dozens of other African nations.

It is reckoned from US army data that there are thousands of special forces and other military personnel carrying out up to 100 missions at any given time in some 24 African states. That's nearly half of all the countries comprising the African continent.

The deployment of US troops in Africa was first stepped up under President GW Bush when his administration formed AFRICOM in 2007, a whole US command dedicated to the continent. Subsequently, under President Barack Obama, the American deployments increased further. Now under President Trump, the US force presence is reckoned to be at its highest level yet.

The official explanation is that American soldiers, Navy and air power, as well as CIA clandestine operations, are there to counter terror groups, who could plan and mount strikes on Europe and North America.

But there is more than a suspicion that the US is using the cover of combating terrorism to conceal and project its real objective, which is to exert its influence over African nations. One observation for raising doubts is that the problem of these terror groups has actually grown more rapidly after the US troops started to be deployed in larger numbers under President Bush. Echoes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria here.

When Trump hosted several African leaders last month in New York during the UN annual congress he told them that his American investor friends were hotfooting it to the continent "to make a lot of money". Typical of Trump, everything is reduced to filthy lucre.

The trouble for America and other Western powers is that China has stolen a march on them in terms of cultivating investments and harnessing resources across Africa. Under President Xi Jinping, China has investment projects worth an estimated $60 billion in dozens of African countries. This is way ahead of what the Americans or Europeans have invested.

Earlier this year, China opened its first ever overseas military base, in the East African country of Djibouti. That's still small news compared with the reported 46 military bases that the US has across the continent.

The big difference between the US and China is that while Beijing has devoted most of its resources to developing trade and industry with African states, Washington's emphasis is on military relations.

China has gained much respect from African nations for its genuine commitment to partnership. It is bringing capital and technology to Africa and gaining access to natural resources of oil and gas, metals and other minerals. Unlike the old European colonialism, China's involvement in Africa is based on partnership and mutual development. For access to raw materials, China has built schools, universities, telecommunications and transport networks, which are all helping the continent reach its huge potential.

The Americans like the Europeans are stuck in an "extractive mentality" when it comes to Africa. But today, American capitalism is broke. It can't even invest in its own nation never mind Africa.

Trump speaks for American capitalism. Knowing the rich resources possessed in Africa's earth and its people, Trump salivates over the prospect of making big bucks. But the Americans aren't prepared to spend the investment money needed to harness the rewards. That's where the US military muscle comes in. In place of proper economic investment, diplomacy and political partnership, Washington is using its military edge to encroach on Africa — under the guise of "fighting terrorism".

That's not to say that American troops aren't confronting terror groups. They are, as the deadly firefight in Niger shows.

But the real purpose for increasing US military strength in Africa is about securing American strategic economic interests "on the cheap" by using military power as opposed to deploying financial commitment in the way that China has.

America's militarism in Africa will bring no benefit to the countries. As in other parts of the globe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the pattern clearly shows that terrorism burgeons where US military operations occur.

Besides, American capitalism is not motivated by developing Africa for its people. It's about making profits for Wall Street and rich investors like Trump.

The real danger is that this militarism will lead to another point of confrontation with China if the latter's economic interests are threatened, as they were when US and NATO forces bombed Libya in 2011 for regime change.

It's such a crying shame that American widows are having their hearts broken for a mission that is totally fraudulent — and getting no thanks for it from a callous Commander-in-Chief.

The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime By Lars Schall and Douglas Valentine 9/22/17

On occasion of the CIA’s 70th anniversary, Lars Schall talked with U.S. researcher Douglas Valentine about the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Valentine, the CIA is “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government”, doing the dirty business for the rich and powerful.

Lars Schall: 70 years ago, on September 18, 1947, the National Security Act created the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. Douglas, you refer to the CIA as “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government.” Why so?

Douglas Valentine: Everything the CIA does is illegal, which is why the government provides it with an impenetrable cloak of secrecy.

While mythographers in the information industry portray America as a bastion of peace and democracy, CIA officers manage criminal organizations around the world.

For example, the CIA hired one of America’s premier drug trafficker in the 1950s and 1960s, Santo Trafficante, to murder Fidel Castro. In exchange, the CIA allowed Trafficante to import tons of narcotics into America.

The CIA sets up proprietary arms, shipping, and banking companies to facilitate the criminal drug trafficking organizations that do its dirty work. Mafia money gets mixed up in offshore banks with CIA money, until the two are indistinguishable.

Drug trafficking is just one example.

LS: What is most important to understand about the CIA?

DV: Its organizational history, which, if studied closely enough, reveals how the CIA manages to maintain its secrecy. This is the essential contradiction at the heart of America’s problems: if we were a democracy and if we truly enjoyed free speech, we would be able to study and speak about the CIA. We would confront our institutionalized racism and sadism. But we can’t, and so our history remains unknown, which in turn means we have no idea who we are, as individuals or as a nation. We imagine ourselves to be things we are not. Our leaders know bits and pieces of the truth, but they cease being leaders once they begin to talk about the truly evil things the CIA is doing...

'ohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

LS: Do the people at the CIA know that they’re part of “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government”? In the past, you’ve suggested related to the Phoenix program, for example: “Because the CIA compartmentalizes itself, I ended up knowing more about the program than any individual in the CIA.”

DV: Yes, they do. I talk at length about this in my book The CIA as Organized Crime. Most people have no idea what cops really do. They think cops give you a speeding ticket. They '’t see the cops associating with professional criminals and making money in the process. They believe that when a guy puts on a uniform, he or she becomes virtuous. But people who go into law enforcement do so for the thrill of wielding power over other people, and in this sense, they relate more to the crooks they associate with than the citizens they’re supposed to protect and serve. They’re looking to bully someone and they’re corrupt. That’s law enforcement.


The CIA is populated with the same kind of people, but without any of the constraints. The CIA officer who created the Phoenix program, Nelson Brickham, told me this about his colleagues: “I have described the intelligence service as a socially acceptable wa