Brutal, barbarian, beyond belief.
The horror that is the human primate never ceases to surprise me in the ways that if our minds can visualize an idea, any idea, any object, the possibility of horror beyond evil becomes a reality.
Not for the feint of heart, but this is our human story.
Children crossing the border are being sexually exploited to pay for their safe passage into France from the Italian border, a report by Save the Children Italy, pointed out.
According to the report, the minors, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa are being forced to perform sexual acts if they aren’t able to pay the drivers around US$180 to cross the border, with some children even being offered food or shelter in return for the abuse. The charity says it has evidence of many such cases since the beginning of this year.
Raffaela Milano, the director of Italy-Europe programs at Save the Children, wrote in the report, “These are very young, and particularly at-risk girls, who are among the invisible flow of unaccompanied migrant minors in transit at the northern Italian border who, in an attempt to reunite with their relatives or acquaintances in other European countries, are deprived of the opportunity to travel safely and legally.”
The report pointed out that migrant children were also being sexually exploited in other parts of Italy, including Rome and the regions of Veneto, Abruzzo, and Marche, as well as the island of Sardinia.
The report indicated that between January 2017 and March 2018, over 1,900 girls had been sexually exploited across the region out of which at least 160 were children, with the rest recently reaching the age of 18 or were pretending to be adults.
“It is unacceptable that in our country children and adolescents end up in the network of unscrupulous exploiters,” added Milano, according to the Guardian.
Save the Children report follows an Oxfam report which first reported in June that French border police illegally sent migrant children back to Italy. They were accused of detaining children as young as 12 without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes so they did not try to attempt the journey again, and stealing Sim cards from their mobile phones.
According to the Oxfam report, of nearly 16,500 migrants, at least a quarter of them children had passed through Ventimiglia in the nine months to April.
The situation in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia was further aggravated after a makeshift camp by the Roya river was dismantled earlier in April. Since then, migrant children had been forced to live on the streets in “degrading, promiscuous and dangerous conditions,” the report pointed out.
Now, there’s one other thing that modern quantum mechanics doesn’t handle. Oddly enough, physics at present has no contact with the notion of actuality. You see, classical physics has at least some notion of actuality in saying that actuality consists of a whole collection of particles that are moving and interacting in a certain way. Now, in quantum physics, there is no concept of actuality whatsoever, because quantum physics maintains that its equations don’t describe anything actual, they merely describe the probability of what an observer could see if he had an instrument of a certain kind, and this instrument is therefore supposed to be necessary for the actuality of the phenomenon. But the instrument, in turn, is supposed to be made of similar particles, obeying the same laws, which would, in turn, require another instrument to give them actuality. That would go on an infinite regress. Wigner has proposed to end the regress by saying it is the consciousness of the actual observer that gives actuality to everything.”
David Joseph Bohm FRS (/boʊm/; December 20, 1917 – October 27, 1992) was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.
Bohm advanced the view that quantum physics meant that the old Cartesian model of reality – that there are two kinds of substance, the mental and the physical, that somehow interact – was too limited. To complement it, he developed a mathematical and physical theory of “implicate” and “explicate” order. He also believed that the brain, at the cellular level, works according to the mathematics of some quantum effects, and postulated that thought is distributed and non-localised just as quantum entities are.[not in citation given]
Bohm warned of the dangers of rampant reason and technology, advocating instead the need for genuine supportive dialogue, which he claimed could broaden and unify conflicting and troublesome divisions in the social world. In this, his epistemology mirrored his ontology. Due to his Communist affiliations, Bohm was the subject of a federal government investigation in 1949, prompting him to leave the United States. He pursued his scientific career in several countries, becoming first a Brazilian and then a British citizen. He abandoned Marxism in the wake of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.
Bohm’s main concern was with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which according to Bohm is never static or complete but rather an unfolding process.
Published on Dec 4, 2011In 31 years of medical practice Kirk Hamilton has seen dairy products cause virtually any symptom you can think of. Sometimes very serious diseases. In this talk you will learn why dairy products aren’t an optimal food for human infants and adults; the dairy, calcium, bone and protein myths; and why dairy products, especially cheeses, are so addictive. After listening to this talk take Kirk’s one month “Ain’t Got Milk Challenge” and you may not only feel better, but you may even save a loved one’s life…And that’s No Bull! Go to Kirk’s website http://www.prescription2000.com and listen to podcasts with Dr. Joseph Keon , author of “Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cow’s Milk and Your Health” http://www.prescription2000.com/Stayi… and Dr. Amy Joy Lanou, author of “Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis.” http://www.prescription2000.com/Stayi… It’s time to stop the needless suffering. To order Kirk’s book “Staying Healthy in the Fast Lane” at a significant discount go to http://www.prescription2000.com.
One thing is clear, Donald Trump has no idea what a war with Iran would cost. Estimates of American combat dead begin at 80,000 and move upward. Civilian death in the US, not counting any nation that would aid the US in such an endeavor, would likely top 50,000 or more.
The financial cost is estimated in the trillions with Saudi Arabia’s oil output ended for all time. That nation would lie in ruins. The same is likely for Israel as well.
Then again, Russia listens to Trump, but Iran is a “red line” for Russia as was Syria. Iran is and always has been the “back door” into Russia.
Past that, Turkey and Pakistan have both become hostile to the US under Trump. There are no land approaches to Iran but through Pakistan or Turkey and neither love nor trust the US anymore.
In fact, both might well choose to war on the US, particularly if Russia or China joined in, even in a limited way.
War with Iran might well be the end of America as a world power.
President Trump has chosen to go to war with Iran. His attempts to threaten Iran into humiliation as he has done with some success with America’s NATO partners, will fail miserably. Iran is not France.
Trump is simultaneously moving against both Turkey and Pakistan. Through terror surrogates, ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, a “failed mission,” the Kurds and radical cleric Fethullah Gulen against Turkey, the MEK against Iran and the Indian/Israeli trained “fake” Taliban fighting Pakistan, America has chosen to dominate the Middle East and South Asia.
From there, Trump has chosen to use economic sanctions, Iran in place and Turkey and Pakistan in the planning stage, to institute regime change and put in place puppet governments.
It won’t just be Iran’s President Rouhani. White House plans include removal of Turkey’s President Erdogan, Pakistan’s President elect Imran Khan along with secret plans to kidnap or kill Syrian President Assad.
Sources at the highest level of Italy’s counter-terrorism forces have leaked reports of a joint US/Israel document, a plan to use witnesses from the notorious White Helmet organization, a CIA MI6 front group operating as a fake NGO, to seek an indictment against Assad at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Please note that both the US and Israel have, themselves, withdrawn from that body in fear that their own leaders might face indictment as well.
When American President Donald Trump “tweeted” threats to Iran in late July 2017 hit, the reality of a broad war entered a new phase, a war Trump will never understand, and a war Trump’s mouth may have inexorably moved toward.
“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
The returning salvo from Iran was issued, not by President Rouhani, but by Major General Qassim Soleimani, perhaps the most respected and feared military leader of our era, spoken of as a combination of Che Guevara and Erwin Rommel with a touch of Patton thrown in for good measure.
Soleimani, reported killed more than once in Israeli assassination attacks, is truly “bigger than life.”
“You threaten us with an action that is ‘unprecedented’ in the world. This is cabaret-style rhetoric. Only a cabaret owner talks to the world this way.
What was it that you could do over the past 20 years but you didn’t? You came to Afghanistan with score of tanks and personnel carriers and hundreds of advanced helicopters and committed crimes there. What the hell could you do between 2001 and 2018 with 110,000 troops? You are today begging Taliban for Talks.
Afghanistan was a poor country, what the hell could you do in this country that you are currently threatening us?
You arrogantly attacked Iraq with 160,000 troops and multiple times (military equipment) compared to what you used in Afghanistan. But what happened? Ask your then commander who was the person that he sent to me and asked ‘Is it possible for you to give us time and use your influence so that our soldiers will not be attacked by the Iraqi fighters in these few months until we exit the country?’
Have you forgotten that you provide adult diapers for your soldiers in the tanks? Despite that you are currently threatening the great country of Iran? With what background to you threaten us?
We are near you where you can’t even imagine. We are the nation of martyrdom, we are the nation of Imam Hossein, you better ask. Come; we are ready. We are the man of this arena. You know that this war would mean annihilation of all your means. You may begin the war but it is us who will end it.
A mere organization is standing against you in Yemen but it has emerged victorious in the face of the most advanced of your military equipment. What have you achieved over the past four years? You stripped the Red Sea, which used to be a safe sea, of security. You fought under fire Saudi Arabia and its capitol Riyadh, which had not seen a single rocket fired at them for 100 years.
Trump, you must not threaten our nation and must not insult our president. America had some grandeur in the past when its fleet moved out, a nation fell apart. You have now become attacked to Munafiquin (haters of Islam) who have been thrown on the trash bin of Iran’s history. You have become attacked to a vagrant woman and show her in all your news networks. (UN Ambassador Nikki Haley?)
Is your hope pinned on this? Is this all your power? You are aware of our power in the region and capability for launching asymmetrical war?”
General Soleimani was kind in not mentioning Vietnam, perhaps the real lesson Trump should have learned if he hadn’t failed to join his generation in their conflict do to “personal choices” tied to wealth and privilege.
What Trump fails to see is the real condition of America’s military. He needs to visit a waiting room at a Veterans Affairs Regional Medical Center where the survivors of America’s War on Terror, torn apart by repeated deployments to the Middle East, sit as empty shells among the remaining survivors of Vietnam.
The drones and missiles, the stealth aircraft, the carrier battle groups, all are useless against people both not afraid to die and capable of striking out.
Iran’s massive missile arsenal is modern, accurate and capable of overwhelming any defense. It controls the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and even the Eastern Mediterranean.
American carriers would need to be a thousand miles at sea to avoid being sunk while American bases in Turkey or Qatar, even Diego Garcia, would be quickly obliterated.
America poured the last of its cruise missile inventory into Syria, in a failed effort to save ISIS and al Qaeda surrogates.
All the while, America’s stock markets would crash, gasoline would hit $12 and even $15 a gallon in America and become unaffordable in Europe. Eventually, with crashing revenues and unbridled expenditures, America’s economy would spiral even worse than it did in the post Iraq/Afghanistan crash of 2007/8.
It might well be America that faces regime change then.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Former US President Barack Obama was in South Africa last week for the centennial anniversary marking the birth of the late Nelson Mandela. Obama delivered a speech warning about encroaching authoritarianism among nations and the “rise of strongman politics”.
Coming on the heels of the summit in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, media reports assumed that Obama was taking a swipe at these two leaders for supposed growing authoritarianism.
Obama’s casting of the “strongman” as a foreboding enemy to democracy is a variant of the supposed threat of “populism” that Western political establishments also seem concerned about.
Trump, Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, Italy’s Salvini, Victor Orban in Hungary and Sebastian Kurz in Austria, among many others, are all lumped together as “strongman politics”, “populists” or “authoritarians”.
Here we are not trying to defend the above-mentioned political leaders or to make out that they are all virtuous democrats.
The point rather is to debunk the false narrative that there is some kind of dichotomy in modern politics between those who, on one hand, are supposedly virtuous, liberal, democratic, multilateralists, and on the other hand, the supposedly sinister “strongman”, “authoritarian”, or “populist”.
In Obama’s pompous depiction of world political trends, people like him are supposedly the epitome of a civilized, democratic legacy that is now under threat from Neo-fascists who are darkly rising to destroy an otherwise happy world order. That world order, it is presumed, was up to now guided by the magnificence of American political leadership. In short, the “Pax Americana” that prevailed for nearly seven decades following the Second World War.
Following the Helsinki summit, the Western media went full-tilt in hysterics and hyperbole. Trump was assailed for “embracing a dictator” while repudiating Western democratic allies.
In a Washington Post article, the headline screamed: “Is Trump at war with the West?” It was accompanied by a photograph of Trump and Putin, bearing the caption: “The New Front”.
Meanwhile, a New York Times piece editorialized: “His [Trump’s] embrace of Putin is a victory dance on the Euro-American tomb.”
Another NY Times op-ed writer declared: “Trump and Putin vs. America”.
The Western establishment political and media commentary promulgates the notion that the US-led Western order is breaking down because of “populist”, “strongman” Trump. In this alleged assault on the pillars of democracy and rule of law, Trump is being aided and abetted by supposedly nasty, like-minded authoritarians like Russian leader Vladimir Putin, or other nationalistic European politicians.
The premise of this establishment narrative is that all was seemingly salubrious and convivial in the US-led order until the arrival of various renegade-type politicians, like Trump and Putin.
That premise is an absolute conceit and deception. If we look at Obama’s presidency alone, one can see how the supposed guardians of democracy and international order were the very ones who have actually done the most to decimate that order.
Obama, you will recall, was the US president who notched up seven simultaneous overseas wars conducted by American military, arguably without a shred of international legal mandate. Under international law, Obama and other senior officials in his administration should face prosecution for war crimes. He also greatly expanded the executive use of assassination with aerial drones, reckoned to have killed thousands of innocent civilians in several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, merely on the suspicion of being terrorists.
It was Obama who ramped up the covert war policy of his predecessor GW Bush in Syria, arming and directing terrorist proxies in a failed bid to overthrow the elected government of President Assad. That US-backed covert war in Syria, along with Obama’s overt regime-change war in Libya, largely contributed to the refugee crisis that has destabilized the politics of the European Union.
So here we have the supremely bitter irony. Obama now lectures audiences with his pseudo-gravitas about the specter of strongman politics and xenophobic populism, when in fact it was politicians like Obama who created much of the refugee problems that have given rise to anti-immigrant politics in Europe.
It really is a conceited delusion among US and European establishment politicians, pundits and media that somehow a once virtuous, law-abiding US-led Western order is being eroded by rabble rousers like Trump, Salvini, Orban and so on, all being orchestrated by a “strongman dictator” in the Kremlin.
For the record, Putin, the supposed “strongman” in the Kremlin, warned more than a decade ago in a seminal Munich speech that the international order was being eroded by rampant American unilateralism and disregard for law in its pursuit of illegal wars for US hegemony. That was at the height of US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which killed more than one million civilians and forced millions more into infernal destitution.
In truth, the Pax Americana that is presumed to have prevailed over the past 70 years was never about order, peace or justice in the world. The notion that the US guided the world with its “moral authority” and maintained stability throughout is one of the most fatuous delusions of modern history.
From the atomic holocaust in Japan and during subsequent decades, the US has waged wars non-stop in almost every year, whether from covert operations in Latin America and Africa, to full-on genocidal wars in Indochina. The past quarter-century has seen an acceleration and expansion of these US wars, sometimes with the assistance of its military axis in NATO, largely because Washington viewed that its license to kill for mass murder was unchecked after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This is the real dynamic underlying why the Western order is now seen to be collapsing. The US and its minions among European allies have destroyed any foundations of international order from their unabated wars and campaigns of mass murder. Their corporate-capitalist plunder has eviscerated the planet.
The chaos from these wars, including economic impacts of gargantuan costs to Western populations, has created social conditions which engender politics of protest, anti-establishment, anti-austerity, anti-war, anti-immigration, and so on.
If the supposed order is shaking for the establishment political class and its flunkies like Barack Obama it is because of their own criminal depredations – depredations which have been going on for decades under the guise of Pax Americana.
The writers at Monthly Review had it so presciently right years ago, when they analyzed the actual Western order as “Pox Americana” – a diseased affliction.
This is the historical context which accounts for why US and European establishments are decrying “strongmen” and “populists”. They are essentially scapegoating others for the historic failure of institutionalized Western criminality led primarily by “democratic” regimes in Washington.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands out as the one international leader who put a brake on the US-led criminal assault on global peace. Putin’s stand first emerged with his landmark speech in Munich in 2007, and then came into clear expression when he helped put an end to the US-led covert criminal war on Syria.
That is why Putin is so vilified and demonized by the Western establishment. The poachers have been stopped from raiding the globe, and in their exasperation, they have whipped up all sorts of disparaging epithets like “strongman” and “authoritarian”.
No one has practiced more fascist-style criminality and brutality towards law and peace than the polite-sounding pseudo-democrats who have been in office for the past 70 years in the US and Europe.
The Western political establishment and its elite-driven capitalism is rotten to the core. Always has been. Its own erosion and oozing corruption is the source of the putrid smell that it now wishes to waft away by scapegoating others.
July 29, 2018
“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Zadie Smith wrote in her spectacular essay on optimism and despair. The illusion of permanent progress inflicts a particularly damning strain of despair as we witness the disillusioning undoing of triumphs of democracy and justice generations in the making — despair preventable only by taking a wider view of history in order to remember that democracy advances in fits and starts, in leaps and backward steps, but advances nonetheless, on timelines exceeding any individual lifetime. Amid our current atmosphere of presentism bias and extreme narrowing of perspective, it is not merely difficult but downright countercultural to resist the ahistorical panic by taking such a telescopic view — lucid optimism that may be our most unassailable form of resistance to the corruptions and malfunctions of democracy.
That is what Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) insisted on again and again in Specimen Days (public library) — the splendid collection of his prose fragments, letters, and diary entries that gave us his wisdom on the wisdom of trees, the singular power of music, how art enhances life, and what makes life worth living.
Shortly before his sixtieth birthday and a decade after issuing his immensely prescient admonition that “America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without,” Whitman writs under the heading “DEMOCRACY IN THE NEW WORLD”:
I can conceive of no better service in the United States, henceforth, by democrats of thorough and heart-felt faith, than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy.
Having lived and saved lives through the Civil War, having seen the swell of “vast crops of poor, desperate, dissatisfied, nomadic, miserably-waged populations,” having witnessed the corrosion of idealism and the collapse of democratic values into corruption and complacency, Whitman still faces a dispiriting landscape with a defiant and irrepressible optimism — our mightiest and most countercultural act of courage, then and now and always:
Though I think I fully comprehend the absence of moral tone in our current politics and business, and the almost entire futility of absolute and simple honor as a counterpoise against the enormous greed for worldly wealth, with the trickeries of gaining it, all through society in our day, I still do not share the depression and despair on the subject which I find possessing many good people.
Zooming out of the narrow focus of his cultural moment — as we would be well advised to do with ours — Whitman takes a telescopic perspective of time, progress, and social change, and considers what it really takes to win the future:
The advent of America, the history of the past century, has been the first general aperture and opening-up to the average human commonalty, on the broadest scale, of the eligibilities to wealth and worldly success and eminence, and has been fully taken advantage of; and the example has spread hence, in ripples, to all nations. To these eligibilities — to this limitless aperture, the race has tended, en-masse, roaring and rushing and crude, and fiercely, turbidly hastening — and we have seen the first stages, and are now in the midst of the result of it all, so far. But there will certainly ensue other stages, and entirely different ones. In nothing is there more evolution than the American mind. Soon, it will be fully realized that ostensible wealth and money-making, show, luxury, &c., imperatively necessitate something beyond — namely, the sane, eternal moral and spiritual-esthetic attributes, elements… Soon, it will be understood clearly, that the State cannot flourish, (nay, cannot exist,) without those elements. They will gradually enter into the chyle of sociology and literature. They will finally make the blood and brawn of the best American individualities of both sexes.
Three years later, and ten presidencies before a ruthless government began assaulting and exploiting nature as a resource for commercial and political gain, Whitman revisits the subject under the heading “NATURE AND DEMOCRACY—MORTALITY”:
American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices — through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life — must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or it will morbidly dwindle and pale. We cannot have grand races of mechanics, work people, and commonalty, (the only specific purpose of America,) on any less terms. I conceive of no flourishing and heroic elements of Democracy in the United States, or of Democracy maintaining itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part — to be its health-element and beauty-element — to really underlie the whole politics, sanity, religion and art of the New World.
Specimen Days remains one of the most timelessly insightful books I have ever encountered. Complement this particular portion with Iris Murdoch on why art is essential for democracy, Rebecca Solnit on lucid optimism in dark times, and Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman’s animated tribute to Leonard Cohen’s anthem to democracy, then revisit Whitman on the essence of happiness and his advice on the building blocks of character.
US retailer Walmart, with revenue of $486 billion in 2017, out-earned the sixth-largest economy in the euro zone – Belgium (with GDP of $468 billion). If it were a country, Walmart would be ranked 24th in the world by GDP.
Revenues of German automaker Volkswagen are greater than Chile’s GDP. The company, which has been hit by the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, earned $276 billion last year. Chile’s GDP in 2016 was $250 billion, and it is considered by many to be the most stable nation in South America, ahead of other nations such as Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Volkswagen would be number 43 in the world if its revenue represented its GDP.
US technology giant Apple would be 47th in the world by GDP if it were a country. The company, which has been accused of mistreating and underpaying their employees, hiding money offshore, and not paying taxes, earned $229 billion last year. In comparison, Portugal’s GDP in 2016 was $205 billion.
Online retailer Amazon, which is close to surpassing Apple as the world’s most valuable company, earned almost $118 billion in 2017. Its revenue exceeded the GDP of Kuwait ($111 billion). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has recently become the richest man in modern history, with his wealth topping $150 billion this month.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, earned more last year than Puerto Rico, which has a GDP of $105 billion. Alphabet revenues in 2017 totaled $111 billion. Going off its revenues, the company would be 59th in the world by GDP if it were a country.
Experts say globalization is largely responsible for companies being able to grow to such sizes. However, bigger does not always mean better. Many multinational corporations, including those from the list above, have generated negative headlines and are among the most hated.
Statistics show that salaries of CEOs have ballooned over the past 50 years, extending the gaps between them and their employees. Today, these ‘fat cats’ can earn the annual salary of a typical worker by lunchtime. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s total compensation rose two percent in 2017 to $22.8 million. Meanwhile, the company’s average employee earned $19,177 in the same period.
“The city center becomes an urban jungle at night,” Zuurmond told Dutch paper, Trouw. “Criminal money flourishes, there is no authority and the police can no longer handle the situation.”
Drugs are being sold openly in the streets, pedestrian areas are used for car and bike races, there’s widespread theft and other offenses, the ombudsman said, using the world “mayhem” to describe what’s happening in the city.
Earlier, Zuurmond set up three CCTV cameras at the busy Leidseplein square ringed by bars and clubs, which is located in the south western part of the city center. The facts exposed as a result of his surveillance experiment turned out to be quite depressing.
“One night we counted 900 offences, mainly between the hours of 2:00am and 4:00am. The atmosphere is grim, and there is an air of lawlessness,” the ombudsman told Trouw. “Scooters race through the pedestrian areas. There is a lot of shouting. Drugs are being bought. There is stealing,” he said, adding that police often do not even try to intervene.
“There is violence but no action. You can even pee on the van of a mobile [police] unit and the driver won’t say anything,” Zuurmond said. He also described the situation at the square at night as “intolerable lack of authority.”
The notorious Red Light district streets, which are “packed” with crowds of revelers in the evenings, also witness a high crime rate. Human trafficking has become a particular source of concern for the local authorities as it even prompted the municipality to launch a special project aimed at combating the issue as well as reducing the overall crime rate. However, all the efforts have been largely to no avail so far, the paper reports, citing the assessment made by the Amsterdam city court.
The problems deepen as they continue to spread across the city, Zuurmond warned. He particularly drew attention to the fact that some 2,000 illegal taxis are now roaming the streets at nights for fares. The city also has a flourishing black market with racketeers dealing with wads of cash. “Shadowy money is everywhere in the city center,” the ombudsman said.
The tense situation is partly a result of government policy, Zuurmond explained. “The government has deliberately stimulated tourism after the economic crisis, but [it] has forgotten to… take additional [security] measures.”
According to Dutch media, the problem that currently plagues the capital of the Netherlands might in fact be part of a larger issue. In the Netherlands, there are around 160,000 people who have been “irrevocably convicted” but have managed to avoid punishment, Trouw reports, citing data provided by the municipality of Amsterdam.
According to the ministry of justice, more than 12,000 out of the 160,000 have to serve a custodial sentence. About 10 percent of such convicts fleeing justice reportedly reside in Amsterdam, where they can actually apply for a new passport virtually without any background checks. As a result, hundreds of alleged “street criminals” just “disappear.”
Amsterdam welcomes 18 million tourists every year – more than the total population of the Netherlands. The city has recently been hit by a string of violent incidents. In late June, a motorcycle gang member was arrested after he allegedly fired an anti-tank missile at an office building which houses a magazine publisher in Amsterdam. Just days later, a van crashed into the head office of daily newspaper De Telegraaf in the Dutch capital, in what police believe was a deliberate attack. Neither incident resulted in casualties.
Last week, a Briton was shot in the head outside a café in Amsterdam by a fellow national in what police described as a gang feud. An international manhunt was launched after the incident. The shooting victim remains in the hospital in stable condition.
US intelligence officials say Russian hackers are shifting their focus on the country’s power grid rather than its electoral systems, a report says.
According to a New York Times report on Saturday, the hackers are “state-sponsored.”
Moscow has already dismissed allegations of meddling in the 2016 election, which yielded President Donald Trump.
Citing “intelligence officials and executives of the companies that oversee the world’s computer networks,” the American newspaper said the hackers have boosted efforts to implant malware in the electrical grid.
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the Russian military intelligence agency had infiltrated the control rooms of power plants across the US.
The report follows allegations of Russian efforts to infiltrate the online accounts of two Senate Democrats up for re-election.
Trump, who is under investigation for alleged collusion with the Kremlin, “has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state to other malicious actors,” according to a White House statement.
Twelve Russian military officers were accused of American election interference earlier this month.
Ever since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, the US intelligence community has overwhelmingly maintained that Moscow sought to meddle in the 2016 election.
Russia has denied meddling in the election as well as being in possession of any damaging information on the US president.
Bill Van Auken
Lenín Moreno, the president of Ecuador, made it clear on Friday that his government is actively negotiating the handover of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the British authorities, whose police are waiting outside the Ecuadorian embassy to grab him the moment he sets foot on the London sidewalk.
If he were to fall into the clutches of the British authorities, he would be subjected to lengthy imprisonment pending extradition to the US, where he could face life imprisonment or even the death penalty on espionage and conspiracy charges.
Moreno, who is conducting a European tour seeking to ingratiate himself and his government with the major imperialist powers, went out of his way on Friday to vilify Assange.
“I’ve never agreed with the activity Mr. Assange performs,” Moreno said. “I’ve never agreed with the intervention in people’s emails to obtain information despite how valuable it is to shed light on some undesirable acts by governments and people… There are correct and legal ways to it.”
Previously, Moreno called Assange a “hacker,” an “inherited problem” and a “stone in our shoe.”
There is no evidence whatsoever that Assange or WikiLeaks hacked into anyone’s emails or violated any law, for that matter. Assange has carried out invaluable work as a courageous and resourceful journalist, making available to the people of the world information kept secret from them about imperialist war crimes, mass surveillance and anti-democratic machinations and conspiracies carried out by Washington and other governments and transnational corporations.
Assange was granted asylum by the previous Ecuadorian government of President Rafael Correa in 2012 because of the clear evidence that he faced political persecution for exposing these crimes.
Announcing Quito’s decision to grant Assange asylum, Ecuador’s foreign affairs minister, Ricardo Patino, had declared that Washington’s retaliation for Assange’s exposures “could endanger his safety, integrity and even his life.” Patino added, “The evidence shows that if Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, he wouldn’t have a fair trial. It is not at all improbable he could be subjected to cruel and degrading treatment and sentenced to life imprisonment or even capital punishment.”
What has changed since then? Assange has spent the past six years trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy. The Trump administration has only made US intentions more explicit, with former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” and proclaiming that its reporting is not protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has insisted that bringing Assange to the US in chains to face a rigged prosecution is a “priority” for the US Justice Department.
In his statement on Friday, Ecuadorian President Moreno said: “The only thing we want is a guarantee that his life will not be in danger. We have spoken to, and, of course, we are dealing with this with Mr. Assange’s legal team and with the British government.”
It would appear that the only condition being laid down by the Ecuadorian government in return for withdrawing Assange’s asylum and handing him over to his persecutors is a worthless promise from the British and US authorities that Assange will not be executed. The other threats to Assange cited by the Ecuadorian authorities in 2012, including “cruel and degrading treatment” and “life imprisonment,” are apparently now acceptable.
In addition to his talks with the British government, Moreno has visited Spain, signing a security agreement with the right-wing Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) minority government led by Pedro Sánchez, while guaranteeing Spanish capitalists unfettered access to Ecuador’s markets, resources and cheap labor.
It was reportedly Spain’s protests over Assange’s condemnation of Madrid for the arrest of former Catalonian regional President Carles Puigdemont that led the Moreno government to cut off Assange’s access to the Internet and prevent him from receiving phone calls or visitors, reducing him to a state of incommunicado detention with fewer rights than a prisoner.
What is involved here is a sharp turn to the right, not only by the government of Lenín Moreno, but by all of the governments of Latin America’s so-called Pink Tide and their pseudo-left satellites.
Moreno is the hand-picked successor to former president Rafael Correa, who proclaimed himself a partisan of the “Bolivarian Revolution” of Venezuela’s late Hugo Chávez. While Moreno and Correa have had a bitter falling out, the right-wing policies of rapprochement with imperialism and escalating attacks on the working class were initiated under Correa, whose government was the first to cut off Assange’s Internet access in retaliation for WikiLeaks’ publication of emails exposing the Democratic Party’s rigging of the 2016 primary campaign to assure the victory of Hillary Clinton and defeat of Bernie Sanders.
Meanwhile, other governments identified with the so-called “turn to the left” in Latin America have been thoroughly discredited. Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has placed the full burden of Venezuela’s desperate economic crisis onto the backs of the working class, while assuring the wealth and privileges of the country’s oligarchs and military commanders, as well as the debt payments to the international banks.
Nicaragua’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega has unleashed a bloodbath to crush popular protests against austerity measures, resulting in over 400 deaths. And in Brazil, Lula, the former president of the Workers’ Party (PT), is in jail, while the PT has been thoroughly discredited by its own antidemocratic measures and attacks on workers’ rights, opening the path to the most right-wing government since the military dictatorship and to the openly fascistic candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
The Latin American pseudo-left—dominated by petty-bourgeois nationalism and oriented to the national labor bureaucracies, the pursuit of parliamentary posts and adaptation to identity politics—has largely ignored the attacks on Assange, refusing to lift a finger in his defense and failing to inform Latin American workers of the decisive democratic and social interests that are bound up with his fate.
Typical is the reaction—or, more accurately, lack of reaction—of the main pseudo-left parties in Argentina, the PTS (Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas) and the PO (Partido Obrero), which, whatever their differences, are united in an unprincipled electoral “Front of the Left and the Workers” (FIT).
The last major article on Assange posted on the PTS’s website, Izquierda Diario, was on April 3, 2017. It proclaimed in its headline: “With the victory of Lenín Moreno, Julian Assange has avoided his expulsion from the Ecuadorian embassy.” Sowing illusions in the right-wing bourgeois politician Moreno and complacency about the dangers posed to Assange, the PTS actually undermined the defense of the WikiLeaks editor.
As for the PO, it has completely ignored the question of Assange, writing nothing about his case for more than five years. This party, oriented toward an alliance with the Peronist union bureaucracy at home and the extreme right-wing forces of Russian Stalinism abroad, exemplifies the reactionary outlook of Latin American petty-bourgeois nationalism, which in the Assange case, as on every other major political question, serves as conduit for imperialist pressure upon the working class.
The task of defending Julian Assange—and more broadly the defense of the social and democratic rights of working people, together with the liberation of Latin America from imperialist oppression, social inequality and poverty—can be achieved only through the political mobilization of the working class independently of all of the supposedly “left” bourgeois parties and the petty-bourgeois pseudo-left groups that support them.
The working class constitutes the only genuine constituency for the defense of democratic rights, which can be secured only as part of the fight to unite workers internationally to put an end to the capitalist system, which threatens humanity with world war and dictatorship.
Latin American workers must join ranks with workers all over the world in coming to the defense of Assange, demanding that the government of Ecuador halt its reactionary bid to rescind his asylum, fighting for his immediate freedom from persecution by US and British authorities and preparing mass protests and strikes against any attempt to arrest or extradite him.
Protecting your identity in the lawless wild of the Internet is considered to be a lost cause. But an article on Survival Blog.com tackled how you can set up a secure virtual machine for browsing online.
Start by getting a gaming laptop with Windows 10 Professional. To make sure the purchase can’t be traced back to you, buy a used unit with cash or have someone else order it from Amazon for you.
Windows 10 Professional has Bitlocker, a full disk encryption program. To use this, click the Start button, go to Settings, and enter “manage Bitlocker” in the search bar. Use Bitlocker to encrypt your C drive. It will provide you with instructions for the process.
Create a secure password for your laptop. Go for a sentence that has 21 characters and contains punctuation. Make it something you can remember easily.
After setting your password, Bitlocker will ask you if you want a recovery key to recover your drive. It’s up to you; make sure you keep it safe. (Related: Online censorship is a WAR against human knowledge and sustainable civilization.)
The next step is to set up a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts the data you exchange with a VPN provider. A hacker will only see encrypted data.
Make sure you pick a VPN provider that can be trusted to not sell your data. Two good choices are Proton VPN and Private Internet Access VPN.
Now you need to get a secure email service. Proton Mail is a good choice and free, to boot. But there are others you may want to consider. Do be warned that many secure mail services support themselves by advertising pornography.
After getting your VPN and secure email, update the defenses of your laptop. Windows 10 comes with its own antivirus, Windows Defender. Go to Settings and look up “check for updates.” Bring Defender and everything else up to date.
If you feel you need more protection, consider getting ESET or F-Secure antivirus programs. Always remember that these programs cannot protect you from every danger, so do not do risky things.
All this effort is intended to set up your laptop as the host for a virtual machine, a computer that is made of pure software. A virtual machine is much more secure than a physical computer. It is also much easier to replace because new ones can simply be downloaded or set up.
Download two virtual machine software: Virtual Box for Windows, and Tails for Linux. As a bonus, Virtual Box is free, and installing it is a matter of clicking “Next” a few times.
In Virtual Box, select the “MS Edge Windows 10 Stable” virtual machine for downloading. The download page will have the default user name and password; you will need these later.
Go to your Downloads folder and extract the contents of the file. Look for the .ovf file that will import the virtual machine into Virtual Box. Double-click this file. When the computer prompts you, pick “Import.”
You will need to take “snapshots” of your new virtual machine so that you can restore it to those earlier states. Take a snapshot immediately after you import it.
Select the virtual machine and pick “Screenshots.” Click the camera icon and name it “Baseline.” You can restore the virtual machine to this state whenever you need to.
Start the virtual machine up. Enter the default user name and password. Then pick “Input,” “Keyboard,” and press Ctrl-Alt-Del. That brings up an option to change the password. Give it a strong one.
Find more ways to shield your identity every time you go online at Glitch.news.
“Israel, a country born in bloodshed, has become the world leader in assassinations.”
Forty years ago, Wadie Haddad was one of the world’s most wanted men. Bold, determined, ruthless, Haddad was the founder of the far-Left Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He trained notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal and masterminded the hijack of an Air France plane that was flown to Entebbe in Uganda and later rescued by Israeli commandos.
Not surprisingly, the Israeli secret service, Mossad, wanted him dead. But six years after they first put out a ‘kill order’, Haddad was still very much alive, living in apparent comfort in Baghdad.
What happened next was worthy of a James Bond thriller. On January 10, 1978, a Mossad agent inside Haddad’s inner circle, known only as Sadness, switched his toothpaste for an identical tube laced with a deadly toxin, developed in a secret laboratory near Tel Aviv.
Every time Haddad brushed his teeth, a tiny quantity of the toxin worked its way through his gums into his bloodstream.
Forty years ago, Wadie Haddad was one of the world’s most wanted men. Bold, determined, ruthless, Haddad was the founder of the far-Left Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Little by little, he began to die. His Palestinian friends contacted the East German secret police, who flew him to a hospital in East Berlin. Ten days later, bleeding from every orifice, Haddad died in agony.
The doctors were baffled. But back in Israel, Mossad congratulated itself on a job well done.
What happened to Haddad, argues Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman in a riveting new book, was merely the most melodramatic example of what is now an enduring pattern.
Israel, a country born in bloodshed, has become the world leader in assassinations.
The numbers alone are extraordinary. Not only have Mossad’s secret agents killed more people than the agents of any other state since World War II, but the pace has rapidly increased, with some 800 operations in the past decade.
The number of deaths will never be known for sure, but they are in the thousands.
There is, of course, something irresistibly fascinating about the idea of the globe-trotting secret agent, moving through the murky world of Middle Eastern politics with a licence to kill. And some of Bergman’s stories do have the flavour of a Hollywood spy blockbuster.
One operation in 1968 was directly inspired by the film The Manchurian Candidate, with Mossad hiring a Swedish-born psychologist to brainwash a Palestinian prisoner into murdering Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
The psychologist picked a suitable prisoner and spent three months hypnotising him with the simple message: ‘Arafat bad. He must be removed’.
The prisoner, known only as Fatkhi, was trained to shoot at pictures of Arafat, hidden in a specially prepared room.
Revenge: Ali Hassan Salameh (pictured) whose group murdered 11 Israeli athletes, was killed in a Mossad bombing,
On December 19, 1968, a Mossad team smuggled Fatkhi across the River Jordan, from where he was supposed to infiltrate Arafat’s headquarters.
Then they waited. Five hours later, news came. Fatkhi had wasted no time. He had gone straight to a police station and accused Mossad of trying to brainwash him. The operation was an abject failure.
In recent years, however, Mossad has lived up to its reputation as the most efficient secret killing machine in the world. One operation in Dubai proves the point. In January 2010, a team of several dozen Mossad agents flew to the oil-rich emirate on false passports, wearing wigs and false moustaches.
Disguised as tourists and tennis players — some of them even carried racquets — they broke into a room at the luxurious Al-Bustan Hotel.
There they waited for their quarry, top Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. As soon as al-Mabhouh let himself into his room, they grabbed him and used a high-tech ultrasound instrument to inject poison into his neck without even breaking the skin.
He died within moments. Four hours later, most of the team had already flown out of Dubai. Job done.
All this might sound swashbuckling or heroic. In reality, there is nothing glamorous about Bergman’s story.
Indeed, the first man to die in his book is not some Palestinian terrorist or Left-wing extremist. It is a British policeman: Detective Superintendent Tom Wilkin, from Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast.
In the autumn of 1944, Wilkin was in Jerusalem, where he was in charge of cracking down on Zionist guerillas.
At the time, Jerusalem was part of British-governed Palestine, where the authorities were struggling to keep a lid on the tensions between Zionists — who wanted an independent Jewish state — and their Palestinian neighbours.
To the Jewish militants in the terrorist Stern Gang, Wilkin was not a man. He was a target. In September, 1944, as he was strolling down a street, a boy sitting outside a grocery store threw down his hat — a sign the target was in range.
Moments later, two young Jewish men opened fire with revolvers. Wilkin ‘managed to turn around and draw his pistol,’ one assailant, David Shomron, recalled, ‘but then he fell face first. A spurt of blood came out of his forehead, like a fountain.’
Shomron did not feel the slightest remorse. ‘Not even a little twinge of guilt,’ he said later. ‘We believed the more coffins that reached London, the closer the day of freedom would be.’