January 23, 2017
Washington, D.C. – The much maligned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a darling of the neoliberal establishment on both the left and the right, is dead in the water after President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the US from the controversial free-trade pact.
The TPP was the largest global trade agreement since NAFTA, and would have included the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Essentially the TPP was a policy move by the U.S. meant to create a trade bloc as a means of countering rising Chinese economic might — under the guise of an “Asian pivot” – but that was seen by many Americans as a give away to large multinational corporations.
Here is a short primer on the TPP and its partner legislation the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which reveal exactly how these deals were meant to operate:
Much of what the public knows about this secretive trade pact comes from leaks provided by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks. If not for the information Wikileaks has provided, the public would be even more in the dark than they currently are, as to the details included within these trade deals.
Hillary Clinton was a supporter of the TPP, before later claiming to be against it, while her rival in the for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, railed against the trade pact on a regular basis as something that would hurt American workers.
Opposing the TPP was one of the central tenets of the Trump presidential campaign, as Trump attempted to tap into the angst of the blue collar working class that Senator Sanders had so effectively coalesced in his failed primary run. The new administration called the trade pact a “potential disaster” for the United States, and said they would instead prefer to engage in bilateral deals with the individual states involved in the trade deal.
Critics of the TPP argue that it gives unfair competitive advantages to large multinational corporations. They also say that it takes away sovereignty from countries and gives it to small decision-making bodies that are not beholden to the public – thus further helping the rich get richer on the backs of the poor.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation laid out a succinct case against the TPP that revealed the far-reaching scope and dangers inherent to the trade deal:
In a joint letter to Congress released today, more than 250 technology companies and user rights organizations say that the extreme level of secrecy surrounding trade negotiations have led to provisions in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten digital innovation, free speech, and access to knowledge online, and the letter calls on Congress to come out against the Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), bill for legitimizing this secretive process…
The letter specifically identifies the TPP’s threats based on leaked texts of the agreement—how it threatens fair use, could lead to more costly forms of online copyright enforcement, criminalize whistleblowing and investigative journalism, and create investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) courts that would further jeopardize user protections in domestic laws.
Negotiations for the European-focused parallel trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also have come to a sudden end.
Additionally, it appears the Trump administration has it sights set on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated commercial barriers between the US, Canada and Mexico during the Clinton administration.
“We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump said on Sunday, after the swearing-in ceremony for senior White House staff.
It appears that this decision is one that many Americans, who aren’t part of the establishment-elite, were rooting for since long before Trump came onto the scene. Activists across the world have fought tirelessly to expose and defeat what they see as a give-away to industry and business at the expense of the average person.
We are unlikely to see any progress made in this tyrannical agency that thrives on the criminalization of the miraculous cannabis plant.
With eight states legalizing recreational cannabis and 26 other states legalizing medical cannabis use, federal government is the biggest obstacle to freedom – despite more and more U.S. lawmakers pushing for medical access and even complete decriminalization.
By far the biggest obstruction to a fact-based approach to cannabis is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which maintains cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic. This most restrictive category, which includes heroin and methamphetamine, is described as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
By now most everyone knows this classification is patently absurd for cannabis, as studies are piling up showing the medical benefits of cannabis, in addition to real-world evidence in medical use states. If that weren’t enough, the National Academies of Science just published a monumental study with nearly 100 conclusions, including the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
The DEA had a chance to correct its ignorance in 2016 by rescheduling cannabis on the advice of the FDA, but somehow kept a straight face when it announced in August it would keep the plant under Schedule 1. One explanation for this defiance of reality is the DEA’s allegiance to Big Pharma, which has admitted cannabis poses a threat to its profits.
Some aren’t taking the DEA’s disinformation lying down.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) found 25 falsehoods about cannabis still being peddled by the DEA on its website, and has filed a petition to force their removal. ASA points out that DEA is violating federal law called the Information Quality Act which requires agencies to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” when developing guidelines.
One reason we know their information is false is because the DEA contradicted those very falsehoods – with references to studies – when it refused to reschedule cannabis in 2016. Even though DEA accepted these studies, it somehow concluded ‘more research is needed’ to show cannabis has medical value.
According to the petition:
“DEA continues to disseminate certain statements about the health risks of medical cannabis use that have been incontrovertibly refuted by the DEA itself in its recent “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana”, issued August 12, 2016. In fact, the DEA’s recent statements confirm scientific facts about medical cannabis that have long been accepted by a majority of the scientific community.”
ASA groups the false claims into four categories: 1) “cannabis’ alleged capacity to induce psychosis, 2) “cannabis’ alleged capacity to induce lung cancer and cause damage comparable to that caused by tobacco use, 3) the “gateway theory” to use of other drugs, 4) “alleged permanency of cannabis-associated cognitive deficits.”
For each category, ASA lists the specific statements and then provides contradicting statements from the DEA itself, referencing scientific studies that refute the false statements still on their website.
“The overwhelming majority of the objective scientific studies – including studies cited by the DEA in the DPR – disprove the inaccurate DEA statements described in Section II (a)-(d). Because the DEA itself made statements in the DPR that directly contradict information in “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” and “Drugs of Abuse,” it is undeniable that the DEA information at issue lacks utility and objectivity.”
Given DEA’s demented stance that can only be described as a throwback to Reefer Madness, we are unlikely to see any progress made in this tyrannical agency that thrives on the criminalization of the miraculous cannabis plant. We can only hope that Congress continues to gather more supporters for the cause of freedom and medical access.
The CIA has published online nearly 13 million pages of declassified records, including papers on the US role in overthrowing foreign governments, but some of the most mind-blowing information is in reference to the secret ‘Star Gate’ telepathy project.
The details of CIA’s “Project Star Gate” are riveting, and expose uncharted waters to be researched as far as there is virtually no mainstream science or pop culture awareness of the phenomena exposed in the project – and is often ridiculed as the stuff of science fiction.
The revelations come as part of a massive almost 13 million file dump of declassified reports – that are now available on the internet for the first time.
Project Star Gate, was the code name for a CIA project that attempted to harness what until now has been thought of as “supernatural” or psychic abilities for military and intelligence use – noting in some of the documents that the method was “passive,” “inexpensive,” and that there was “no known defense.”
The papers show how the CIA was attempting to harness these abilities in individuals to spy on people and alter important objects, amongst other abilities.
One of the processes described, called “Psychoenergetics,” described a “mental process” where a person can “view,” “communicate,” or alter objects that are located in different space or time away from the subject. It also describes things such as remote viewing, where people can see objects that are located in another place, as well as telekinesis, which is the ability for someone to move objects they are not physically in contact with.
The declassified files suggest that CIA officials in charge of Project Star Gate believed that they had some success utilizing and harnessing these amazing extrasensory abilities, but noted perceived limitations. Reports reveal that remote viewing was to only be used to collect information in conjunction with other methods, and that intelligence gained through remote viewing “should not stand alone.”
Project Star Gate was officially concluded in in 1995, when the existence of the program was declassified, with the CIA reporting that it hadn’t proven useful enough and that previous results that seemed to show the veracity of telepathic powers had been doctored.
The length of time the project was acknowledged to be in existence, nearly 20 year, suggests that it the results of the project were promising enough to keep funding it to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over two decades. The idea that the program simply became public in 1995, and was ended after 20 years, is a naïve proposition. There is great likelihood that the program was simply rolled over into another Special Access Black Budget Program (SAPs) – meaning that all of the information and findings within these programs remains secret and unknown to the mainstream world.
From these (SAPS) we have unacknowledged and waived SAPs. These programs do not exist publicly, but they do indeed exist. They are commonly referred to as ‘deep black programs.’ A 1997 U.S. Senate report described them as “so sensitive that they are exempt from standard reporting requirements to the Congress.”
For the CIA to receive million of dollars in funding, to study these phenomena, suggests there was a level of initial and continued success that precipitated the continued money flow and nearly two decades of research — something you wouldn’t do for a tech without serious potential and promise. The explanation that they studied these abilities for almost 20 years then decided they didn’t work and cancelled the program, while possible, doesn’t really sound very credible.
Note that the military industrial complex has keenly studied this technology, while mainstream science and academia steadfastly refuse to fund research into this area of study — going so far as to shun and ridicule any legitimate academic that would dare attempt research into this discipline as a pseudoscientist.
The fact that these numerous telepathic abilities have been so intimately studied by our own government, in secret, while the public has been allowed to believe these types of abilities are akin to the realm of fantasy raises a very interesting question; If these powers exist, as evidenced by the research, then why has their existence been withheld from the general public?
As modern research has explored the mind/matter relationship, we have come to understand that consciousness, or factors associated with consciousness, actually have an observable effects on what we call the material world. These effects can be so small they are not even distinguishable by the human eye, but do exist on a quantum level.
Please share these exciting discoveries to help awaken others to the true human potential that likely resides within all of us!
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Jan 19, 2017
If you’re depressed, whatever you do, don’t go for the easy escapes. Don’t bother taking up yoga, watching soap operas or shopping for expensive stuff. And for all you disgruntled Americans, forget about moving to Canada. It’s too cold.
If you’re religious, don’t bother praying for divine intervention. As former senator George Mitchell famously remarked 30 years ago: “Although he’s regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in American politics.”
And do spare yourself more of the same self-help nonsense. For the self-help nation that it has become, America’s helplessness today comes not from a lack of enthusiasm and drive; it comes from a lack of fairness and too much drive.
Hyperbole won’t bring about fairness.
What then could be done about the Trump presidency? That’s a long story; perhaps a four-year ordeal; perhaps more, perhaps less. At any rate, plenty of time to think for the long term. As for this week, here are few good reasons why good people shouldn’t feel too bad or mad “the morning after” the inauguration.
The Republican vote for the man their leaders called a vulgar, braggart lose cannon is the ultimate demonstration of how the liberal elites have finally driven conservatives totally and utterly mad.
Once upon a time, conservatives used to be the “reasonable” lot, the cautious, steady bunch. Those who deliberated, avoided abrupt change, and espoused “traditional values”.
But since FDR’s New Deal Society, Republican leadership have defied Darwin’s theory of evolution. Instead of choosing better leaders, they’ve consistently devolved, starting with Dwight Eisenhower and ending with George W Bush and Donald Trump.
Trump’s hyperbole and bravado is bound to accelerate this process downwards. Once, his base realises that the security, economy and wellbeing of the nation requires more than 140-character tweets, Republicans will understand they need change, AGAIN.
As will the country. Meanwhile …
Americans have turned to Donald Trump only after Barrack Obama failed to change a rigid American establishment because he acquiesced to the liberal elites with high stakes in the rigged system.
Despite their championing of liberal values, these elites are as equally responsible for squashing the “American dream” as their conservative counterparts. Clearly, much of the country has had enough of their hypocrisy, surplus morality and so-called political correctness.
Trump’s humiliation of the likes of CNN and The New York Times, the mouthpieces of the liberal establishment, is only the beginning of what promises to be a roller-coaster ride. But once all is said and done, humiliation might bring a certain humility to those snotty elites, and eventually make way for the more authentic liberal voices in American society.
The left, which lost its way after Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton, has a chance to find its bearings again and return to its progressive roots. It can build on the momentum gained by Bernie, instead of lamenting the momentum lost by Hillary.
The left also has a chance to unify its ranks after it turned on itself over the past year. It tore itself apart in disagreement over whether or not to embrace “the lesser of the two evils”, Clinton over Trump, and over taking sides between Hillary and Vladimir Putin, and between Trump and the CIA.
OK, not exactly taking sides, but certainly getting politically invested in losing propositions.
As the Clintons depart and Obama no longer president, the left may finally focus on the ever-more needed progressive agenda as democrats try to find their footing in Trump’s America.
The holier-than-thou attitude of white Evangelicals was exposed in this election to be no more than a false cliche.
Their 80 percent vote in favour of known-to-be a “serial liar”, casino owner, thrice-married women groper, who appeared in Playboy videos, is a testimony to their hypocrisy.
Yes, they hated Clinton and what she stood for in terms of abortion rights and women’s rights, but they also liked and embraced Trump’s xenophobic and indeed racist statements about Latinos and Muslims.
I don’t usually prescribe literal interpretations to theological terms, but Evangelicals, who think Trump is their saviour, might discover that he is in fact a version of their much-anticipated “antichrist”.
The Donald presidency will relieve much of the pent-up tension, bitterness and disappointed by the Obama presidency.
The no-drama Obama is telling his base that everything will be OK, when he knows nothing is OK with Trump reversing his legacy; or becoming his legacy.
He once remarked that Trump may only deliver the inauguration speech in a Saturday Night Life comedy sketch. Delusional.
But as soon as he opens his mouth to deliver the inauguration speech, people of all walks of life will be nostalgic for the days of Obama, the commander-in-speech. Those who dislike disliking Obama will rejoice the morning after the inauguration for having someone they will genuinely like to dislike.
And as I always, say/cite, in the end everything will be OK, if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
And one extra thought to survive ‘the morning after’ is to watch The Reckoning, from Obama to Trump, Empire’s film that is airing on Al Jazeera English the night and the morning of the inauguration.
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera. Follow him on Facebook.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
The Trump era starts now – with geopolitics and geoeconomics set for a series of imminent, unpredictable cliffhangers.
I have argued that Trump’s foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger’s strategy to deal with the formidable Eurasia integration trio – Russia, China and Iran – is a remixed Divide and Rule; seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while keep harassing the weakest link, Iran.
In fact that’s how it’s already playing out – as in the outbursts of selected members of Trump’s cabinet during their US Senate hearings. Factions of US Think Tankland, referring to Nixon’s China policy, which was designed by Kissinger, are also excited with the possibilities of containment regarding at least one of those powers “potentially arrayed against America”.
Kissinger and Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski are the two foremost, self-described Western dalangs – puppet masters – in the geopolitical arena. In opposition to Kissinger, Obama’s foreign policy mentor Brzezinski, true to his Russophobia, proposes a Divide and Rule centered on seducing China.
Yet an influential New York business source, very close to the real, discreet Masters of the Universe, who correctly predicted Trump’s victory weeks before the fact, after examining my argument offered not only a scathing appraisal of those cherished dalangs; he volunteered to detail how the new normal was laid out by the Masters directly to Trump. Let’s call him “X”.
“X” starts by doing something US deep state-connected regulars, who revere their idols, never dare to, at least in public;
“It is important not to attribute too much importance to either Kissinger or Brzezinski as they are merely fronts for those who make the decisions and it is their job to cloak the decisions with a patina of intellectuality. Their input means relatively nothing. I use their names on occasion as I cannot use the names of those who actually make the decisions.”
That’s the cue for “X” to detail the new normal;
“Trump was elected with the support of the Masters to tilt towards Russia. The Masters have their tools in the media and Congress maintaining a vilification campaign against Russia, and have their puppet Brzezinski also come out against Russia, stating ‘America’s global influence depends on cooperation with China’. The purpose is to threaten Russia to cooperate and place these chips on the negotiating table for Trump. In a traditional good cop-bad cop approach, Donald is portrayed as the good cop wanting good relations with Russia, and Congress, media, Brzezinski are the bad cops. This is to aid Trump in the negotiations with Russia as Putin sees the ‘precarious’ position of his friend and should be willing to make major concessions as the line goes.”
And that brings us to how Taiwan – and Japan – got into the mix;
“Donald shows the Russian tilt by talking to the Taiwanese, demonstrating that the shift is serious. But it was decided to throw Japan into the mix as a predator against US industry, with an attack on Toyota, thoroughly deserved. That moderated the position as the Masters became afraid that the perception of our building up Japan against China would be too much of a provocation.”
So expect China – as “not too much importance” Kissinger prescribed – to be under non-stop scrutiny;
“The Masters have decided to reindustrialize the United States and want to take jobs back from China. This is advisable from the Chinese viewpoint; for why should they sell their work to the US for a dollar that has no intrinsic value and get really nothing back for the work. China should have a car in every Chinese worker’s garage and they will become a larger producer of cars than the EU, US and Japan combined, and their own nation will keep their wealth in their own country.”
And why China over Russia?
“Russia in this sense being a natural resource country with a gigantic military industrial complex (the latter being the only reason she is secretly respected) is exempt from any tough trade talk as they hardly export anything but natural resources and military equipment. The Masters want jobs back from Mexico and Asia including Japan, Taiwan, etc., and you see this in Trump’s attack on Japan. The main underlying reason is that the US has lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war. This is all that matters now and this is the giant story behind the scenes.”
In only a few words “X” details the reversal of an economic cycle;
“The Masters made money out of transfer of industry to Asia (Bain Capital specialized in this), and Wall Street made money from the lower interest rates on the recycled dollars from the trade deficits. But now, the issue is strategic; and they will make money on the return of industries scaling down their investments in Asia and returning them to the United States as we rebuild production here.”
“X” remains quite fond of Henry Ford’s business strategy; and that is the cue for him to address the crucial theme: national defense. According to “X”,
“Ford doubled the wages he paid and made more money than any other manufacturer. The reason was that a living wage where the mother can have many children on her husband’s wage was psychologically good for productivity in his car plants, and that his workers could then afford his cars. He thus recognized that in a society there must be a just distribution of wealth that his admirer Steve Jobs could not. Henry’s mass productivity was the wonder of the world and that was what won World War Two for the United States. Amazon does not contribute anything to national defense, being merely an internet marketing service based on computer programs, nor Google which merely organizes data better. None of this builds a better missile or submarine except in a marginal way.”
So yes; this all has to do with reorganizing the US military. “X” made a point to refer to a CNAS report I quoted in my initial column;
“It is very important for what is visible between the lines. And that is we are in deep trouble being technologically behind Russia by generations in weapons, which is a follow-up on the Brzezinski quote that we are no longer a global power.”
This is a thorough, wide-ranging analysis of how Russia has managed to organize the best armed forces in the world. And that does not even take into account the S-500 missile defense system, which is now being rolled out and arguably seals the entirety of Russian airspace. And the next generation – S-600? – will be even more powerful.
“X” does venture into deep state taboo territory, as in how Russia, over the past decade, has managed to leap far ahead of the US, “eclipsing it as the strongest military power”. But the game may be far from over – wishful thinking or otherwise;
“We hope Secretary of Defense James Mattis will understand this and that the Deputy Secretary of Defense has advanced technological skills, organizational ability and the foresight to understand that the weapons of World War Three are offensive and defensive missiles, and submarines, and not air power, tanks and aircraft carriers.”
A realist, “X” admits that the warmongering neocon/neoliberalcon status quo – represented by most US deep state factions – will never abandon the default posture of unremitting hostility towards Russia. But he prefers to focus on change;
“Let Tillerson reorganize the State Department along Exxon efficiencies. He may be worth something in that. He and Mattis may be gutless but if you tell the truth to the Senate you may not be confirmed. So what they say means nothing. But notice this about Libya. The CIA had a goal of driving China out of Africa and so does AFRICOM. That was one of the secrets to our Libyan intervention.”
Not that it worked; NATO/AFRICOM turned Libya into a wasteland run by militias, and still China was not driven away from the rest of Africa.
“X” also admits, “Syria and Iran are red lines for Russia. So is the eastern Ukraine from the Dnieper.” He is fully aware Moscow will not allow any regime change gambit on Tehran. And he’s also aware that “China’s investments in Iranian oil and gas imply that China also will not permit Washington’s overthrow of the Iranian government.”
The going really gets tough when it comes to NATO; “X” is convinced Russia “will invade Romania and Poland if those missiles are not taken out of Romania and the missile commitment to Poland rescinded. The issue is not the worthless defensive missiles of the United States but the substitutability of offensive nuclear missiles in these silos. Russia will not tolerate this risk. These are not subject to negotiation.”
In contrast to the “perpetual threat” perpetual propaganda by the US War Party, Moscow focuses on actual facts on the ground since the 1990s; the break up of historic Slavic ally Serbia; Warsaw Pact nations and even former USSR republics annexed by NATO, not to mention attempts to also include Georgia and Ukraine; US deployment of color revolutions; the “Assad must go “ fiasco, as in regime change forced on Syria even including the weaponizing of Salafi-jihadis; economic sanctions, an oil price war and raids on the ruble; and non-stop NATO harassment.
“X”, fully aware of the facts, adds, “Russia has always wanted peace. But they are not going to play a game with the Masters of the Universe that has Trump as the good guy and the Congress, CIA, etc. as the bad guy as a negotiating ploy. That is how they see it. They do not regard this circus as real.”
The circus may be just an illusion. Or wayang – Balinese puppet theatre – as I suggested. “X” advances a crisp interpretation of the shadow play ahead from Moscow’s point of view, allowing “several months to see if Putin can work out a detente with Trump that essentially creates an autonomous eastern Ukraine, a peace treaty in Syria with Assad in place, and a withdrawal of NATO forces back to their line of defense under Ronald Reagan.”
Who will prevail; the Masters, or the deep state? Brace for impact.