I saw the Phoenix Lights UFOs in Victoria, BC, Canada in 1991. Mount Doug beach around dusk.They are all over the world. Once you see it with your own eyes there is no more doubt. We are not alone.
I saw the Phoenix Lights UFOs in Victoria, BC, Canada in 1991. Mount Doug beach around dusk.They are all over the world. Once you see it with your own eyes there is no more doubt. We are not alone.
Margarita Simonyan: You called my cell phone, saying that you were Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov. You’re Alexander Petrov, and you’re Ruslan Boshirov. You do look like the people we saw in those pictures and videos from the UK. So who are you in reality?
Alexander Petrov: We are the people you saw.
Ruslan Boshirov: I’m Ruslan Boshirov.
AP: And I’m Alexander Petrov.
MS: These are your real names?
RB: Yes, these are our real names.
MS: But even now, frankly, you look very tense.
AP: What would you look like if you were in our shoes?
RB: When your whole life is turned upside down all of a sudden, overnight, and torn down.
MS: The guys we all saw in those videos from London and Salisbury, wearing those jackets and sneakers, these are you?
AP: Yes, it’s us.
MS: What were you doing there?
AP: Our friends have been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city.
MS: Salisbury? A wonderful city?
MS: What makes it so wonderful?
RB: It’s a tourist city. They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral. It’s famous throughout Europe and, in fact, throughout the world, I think. It’s famous for its 123-meter spire. It’s famous for its clock. It’s the oldest working clock in the world.
MS: So, you traveled to Salisbury to see the clock?
AP: No, initially we planned to go to London and have some fun there. This time, it wasn’t a business trip. Our plan was to spend some time in London and then to visit Salisbury. Of course, we wanted to do it all in one day. But when we got there, even our plane could not land on the first approach. That’s because of all the havoc they had with transport in the UK on March 2 and 3. Because of heavy snowfall, nearly all the cities were paralyzed. We were unable to go anywhere.
RB: It was in all the news. Railroads did not work on March 2 and 3. Highways were closed. Police cars and ambulances blocked off highways. There was no traffic at all – no trains, nothing. Why is it that nobody talks about any of this?
MS: Can you give the timeline? Minute by minute, or at least hour by hour, or as much as you can remember. You arrived in the UK – like you said, to have some fun and to see the cathedral, to see a clock in Salisbury. Can you tell us what you did in the UK? You spent two days there, right?
AP: Actually, three.
MS: OK, three. What did you do those three days?
AP: We arrived on March 2. We went to the train station to check the schedule, to see where we could go.
RB: The initial plan was to go there and return that day. Just take a look and return the same day.
AP: To Salisbury, that is. One day in Salisbury is enough. There’s not much you can do there.
RB: It’s a regular city. A regular tourist city.
MS: OK, I get that. That was your plan. But what did you actually do? You arrived. There was heavy snowfall. No trains, nothing. So, what did you do?
AP: No, we arrived in Salisbury on March 3. We wanted to walk around the city but since the whole city was covered with snow, we spent only 30 minutes there. We were all wet.
RB: There are no pictures. The media, television – nobody talks about the fact that the transport system was paralyzed that day. It was impossible to get anywhere because of the snow. We were drenched up to our knees.
MS: Alright. You went for a walk for 30 minutes, you got wet. What next?
AP: We traveled there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But it didn’t work out because of the slush. The whole city was covered with slush. We got wet, so we went back to the train station and took the first train to go back. We spent about 40 minutes in a coffee shop at the train station.
RB: Drinking coffee. Drinking hot coffee because we were drenched.
AP: Maybe a little over an hour. That’s because of the large intervals between trains. I think this was because of the snowfall. We went back to London and continued with our journey.
RB: We walked around London…
MS: So, you only spent an hour in Salisbury?
AP: On March 3? Yes. That’s because it was impossible to get anywhere.
MS: What about the next day?
AP: On March 4, we went back there, because the snow melted in London, it was warm.
RB: It was sunny.
AP: And we thought, we really wanted to see Old Sarum and the cathedral. So we decided to give it another try on March 4.
MS: Another try to do what?
AP: To go sightseeing.
RB: To see this famous cathedral. To visit Old Sarum.
MS: So, did you see it?
RB: Yes, we did.
AP: On March 4, we did. But again, by lunchtime, there was heavy rain with snow.
RB: For some reason, nobody talks about this fact.
AP: So we left early.
MS: Is it beautiful?
RB: The cathedral is very beautiful. They have lots of tourists, lots of Russian tourists, lots of Russian-speaking tourists.
AP: By the way, they should have a lot of pictures from the cathedral.
MS: Your pictures, you mean?
AP: They should show them.
MS: I assume you took some pictures while at the cathedral?
RB: Of course.
AP: Sure, we did.
RB: We went to a park, we had some coffee. We went to a coffee shop and drank coffee. We walked around, enjoying those beautiful English Gothic buildings.
AP: For some reason, they don’t show this. They only show how we went to the train station.
MS: If you give us your pictures, we can show them. So, while you were in Salisbury, did you go anywhere near the house of the Skripals?
AP: Maybe. We don’t know.
RB: What about you? Do you know where their house is?
MS: I don’t. Do you?
RB: We don’t either.
AP: I wish somebody would tell us where it is.
RB: Maybe we passed it, or maybe we didn’t. I’d never heard about them before this nightmare started. I’d never heard this name before. I didn’t know anything about them.
MS: When you arrived in the UK, when you were in London or in Salisbury, throughout your whole trip, did you have any Novichok or some other poisonous agent or dangerous substance?
AP: It’s absurd.
MS: Did you have the bottle of Nina Ricci perfume which the UK presents as evidence of your alleged crime?
RB: Don’t you think that it’s kind of stupid for two straight men to carry perfume for ladies? When you go through customs, they check all your belongings. So, if we had anything suspicious, they would definitely have questions. Why would a man have perfume for women in his luggage?
AP: Even an ordinary person would have questions. Why would a man need perfume for women?
MS: Where would an ordinary person see that you have a perfume bottle?
RB: I mean, when you go through customs…
MS: Long story short, did you have that Nina Ricci bottle or not?
AP: No, of course not.
MS: Speaking of straight men, all footage features you two together. You spent time together, you lived together, you went for a walk together. What do you have in common that you spend so much time together?
RB: You know, let’s not breach anyone’s privacy. We came to you for protection, but this is turning into some kind of interrogation. We are going too far. We came to you for protection. You’re not interrogating us.
MS: We are journalists, we don’t protect. We aren’t lawyers. In fact, this was my next question. Why did you decide to go to the media? Your photos were published some time ago together with your names, but you were keeping silent. Today, you called me because you wanted to talk to the media. Why?
RB: To ask for protection.
AP: You say we kept silent. After our lives turned into a nightmare, we didn’t know what to do, where to go. Police? Investigative Committee? UK Embassy?
RB: Or FSB. We didn’t know.
MS: Why would you go to the UK Embassy?
AP: We really didn’t know what to do. Where to go? Hello?
RB: You know, when your life is turned upside down, you don’t really understand what to do and where to go. And many say, why don’t you go to the UK Embassy and explain everything?
MS: And you know what they are saying about you, right?
AP: Of course we do.
RB: Yes, of course. We can’t go out on the street because we are scared. We’re afraid.
MS: What are you afraid of?
RB: We fear for our lives. And for the lives of our families and friends.
MS: So, you fear that the UK secret service will kill you or what?
RB: We just don’t know.
AP: Simply read what they write there. They even offer a reward.
MS: What do you mean? There’s a bounty on your head?
RB: Dmitry Gudkov, if I am not mistaken, promised a trip to the UK to anybody who brings us to him. Do you think it’s OK? And you think we can feel just fine, walking around all smiling, talking to people? Any sensible person would be afraid.
MS: Why did you call me of all people? Why did you contact RT?
RB: We were reading the news today, your Telegram channel.
MS: Now I know people read it.
AP: You said it yourself. I don’t know whether I can mention this on air.
MS: Just say it. If it’s something we can’t say, we’ll take it out.
AP: “Let’s go, bastards,” you wrote.
MS: Oh, that. I wrote, “Go to the back of the line, you bastards” [meaning other media]. [This is a quote from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Heart of a Dog.]
The United Nations warns that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is “catastrophic” due to a decade-long “economic siege” imposed by Israel on the densely-populated Palestinian coastal enclave.
“The situation in Gaza is becoming less and less livable,” Isabelle Durant, the deputy head of the United Nations development agency (UNCTAD) said on Wednesday.
The UN agency said in an annual report that unemployment in the occupied Palestinian territories rose to more than 27 percent overall in 2017, the world’s highest, while around 44 percent in Gaza alone.
It noted that the adverse conditions imposed by the Tel Aviv regime disproportionately affected women and young people, saying that half of Palestinians under the age of 30 are out of work.
The report said that the widespread Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods, confiscation of land and natural resources, and the accelerating expansion of settlements were also damaging.
The UNCTAD said that removing restrictions on the besieged territory was particularly important, warning that the strip had been “reduced to a humanitarian case of profound suffering and aid dependency.”
Lifting some of the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and investment could allow the territory’s gross economy to swell by up to 10 percent, the UN agency said.
The UN agency further said that a sharp drop in international support to the Palestinians, “a freeze in the reconstruction of Gaza and unsustainable credit-financed public and private consumption paint a bleak picture for future growth.”
International development assistance to the Palestinians shrunk by more than 10 percent compared to a year earlier.
That dramatic drop in donor support came before US President Donald Trump’s administration decided to completely halt its funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), part of a policy to impose maximum pressure on the Palestinians to satisfy the Israeli regime’s interests and Zionist constituencies in the US.
Last month, the Trump administration decided to cancel all US funding to UNRWA, which had previously stood at around $350 million a year.
Washington also scrapped around $200 million in aid for the West Bank and Gaza, and at the weekend said it would cut $25 million more in direct aid to six hospitals that primarily serve Palestinians in Jerusalem al-Quds.
Mahmoud Elkhafif, who coordinates UNCTAD’s Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit, said that US cuts would certainly result in “more misery” in Gaza.
Israel has been enforcing an all-out blockade of the territory since 2007.
The UN has warned that the blockade on Gaza would render it uninhabitable by 2020, but on Wednesday the UN agency said conditions “are worse” than when they made that prediction.
The UNCTAD said that a decade-long siege and three Israeli-imposed wars have “eviscerated” Gaza’s productive capacity.
The Israeli regime denies about 1.8 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education.
Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014 and ended in late August the same year. The aggression killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and injured over 11,100 others.
The number of hungry people in the world continues to grow, reaching 821 million in 2017, or one in every nine people, according to the report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018,” released Tuesday in Rome by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other groups.
The figures are horrific: 151 million children under five years old, 22 percent of the world’s total, are “stunted” by malnutrition; one in every ten children in Asia is described as “wasting,” with weights well below what they should be given their heights; a staggering one in three women of child-bearing age suffers from anemia, in large measure from poor diet.
The report’s authors warn of “alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition,” but offer no prescription to resolve the deepening crisis except the pious wish that more should be done to bring an end to the military conflicts, including civil wars, which are the primary cause of food insecurity, and to counteract climate change, the second most important cause.
The 821 million hungry people in the world include an estimated 515 million in Asia, 256.5 million in Africa, 39 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and perhaps 20 million in the rest of the world.
The last figure is undoubtedly a gross underestimate, since it largely accepts the claims of governments in the advanced capitalist countries that hunger and malnutrition are non-existent. If accurate figures could be obtained for the number living on the brink of starvation in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the European Union, the total for the world would likely top 1 billion people.
These figures demonstrate the utter failure of capitalist system. The productive forces—land, machinery, agricultural technique—are more than adequate to feed the human race. There is a super-abundance of food on the planet. But the profit drive of giant agribusiness corporations, and the reactionary nation-state system, dividing humanity with its artificial and completely outmoded boundaries, keep a billion human beings from obtaining the food they need as a minimum condition of a decent existence.
The UN report found that 2017 was the third year in a row in which the number of people who aren’t getting enough to eat has risen. This figure has risen from 783.7 million in 2014, for a total rise of more than 38 million. In 2017, severe food insecurity, defined as a family running out of food and going at least a day without eating, was up in every region of the world except Europe and North America.
The sharpest increases in malnutrition were in Africa and South America, as well as in the country of Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula across the Red Sea from East Africa, which has been ravaged by war and a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with US backing. High levels of malnutrition were found in South Asia as well, but these were largely unchanged from 2016 to 2017.
Over a longer time frame, since 2005, the FAO found that the number of malnourished people in Africa had increased by 60 million, while the number in Asia declined significantly.
Particularly striking was the change in North Africa, once a comparatively prosperous area, where the number facing malnutrition fell from 9.7 million in 2000 to 8.5 million in 2010, before soaring to 20 million last year. Similarly, the number facing malnutrition in Western Asia—the Middle East—rose from 20.1 million in 2010 to 30.2 million in 2017.
The combined increase across this vast region, extending from Morocco to Iran, is more than 20 million people added to the rolls of those on the brink of starvation, during the period that coincides with the US-NATO attack on Libya, the revolutionary uprising and its bloody suppression in Egypt, the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and the aftermath of the war in Iraq.
The FAO’s 2017 report on food security focused largely on the impact of these wars, as well as similar conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Somalia in driving up the number facing hunger. The agency’s 2018 report focuses mainly on the impact of the second most important cause of hunger in the twenty-first century, climate change.
According to the report, “climate variability—extreme droughts and floods—are already undermining production of wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions, and that the trend is expected to worsen as temperatures increase and become more extreme.”
It continued, “Hunger is significantly worse in countries with agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability and severe drought, and where the livelihood of a high proportion of the population depends on agriculture.”
Drought, linked to the long-term changes in weather patterns associated with climate change, has devastated four different population centers: southern Africa, including South Africa, the enclaves of Lesotho and Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar; the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda; West Africa, from Mali to Senegal; and parts of the Indian subcontinent, especially southern Sindh province in Pakistan and neighboring regions in India, which are densely populated.
Wasting is a syndrome that has the most pernicious effect on children’s health, both short-term and long-term. Children affected by wasting accounted for 875,000 deaths in 2013, the last year when studies are available, 12.6 percent of all deaths of children under five years of age. Of these, 516,000 were related to severe wasting, essentially deaths by starvation and related diseases.
Half of all the children afflicted by wasting live in South Asia, and the countries with a prevalence of 15 percent or more include India and Sri Lanka. Also in this category are Papua New Guinea, Yemen, and four countries in East Africa: Eritrea, Djibouti, South Sudan, and Sudan.
What all these countries have in common—although there is not a word of this in the UN report—is that they are former colonies of the world’s imperialist powers, which continue to dominate the world economy and exploit the resources of the “less developed countries,” whether through direct investment, loans, or austerity demands enforced by the International Monetary Fund.
Among the worst-off countries are those like Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, subjected to imperialist wars and imperialist-instigated civil wars, which in some cases have extended for more than a generation.
Nutrition is an increasing concern, not just for the billions in Asia, Africa and Latin America, who constitute the majority of the world’s population, but for the working class in the advanced capitalist countries, where living standards have been driven down for more than three decades.
According to the UN report, the second-largest nutritional crisis involves the spread of obesity, particularly in North America. This too is a disease of poverty. “Food insecurity contributes to overweight and obesity, as well as undernutrition, and high rates of these forms of malnutrition coexist in many countries,” the report explains. “The link between food insecurity and overweight and obesity passes through diet, which is affected by the cost of food. Nutritious, fresh foods often tend to be expensive. Thus, when household resources for food become scarce, people choose less expensive foods that are often high in caloric density and low in nutrients, particularly in urban settings and upper-middle- and high-income countries.”
Some 13 percent of the world’s adults, or 672 million, are medically obese, about one person in eight, with the highest rates by far in the United States. The lowest rates of obesity are in Africa and Asia, although rates are rapidly increasing.
Two Russian men accused by the United Kingdom of attempting to murder a former Russian double agent and his daughter have claimed they were in the country as tourists.
The men, who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told Russian state television RT that they visited Salisbury in early March because they wanted to see the southern English town’s famous cathedral.
Britain’s government has accused Petrov and Boshirov of trying to kill the Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia. The officials also allege that the pair are military intelligence agents who were sent to the UK to poison the Skripals with the nerve agent Novichok.
The men denied the allegations and said they visited Salisbury on March 3 for tourism but stayed for 30 minutes only.
“We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum. But we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. We got wet, took the train and came back [to London],” the pair told RT before adding that they returned to Salisbury the following day “to see the Old Sarum and the cathedral”.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the two men as “civilians”.
“We, of course, checked who these people are,” said Putin. “There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. We’ll see in the near future.”
A spokesperson for the UK government said the two men who appeared on RT were the same men suspected of poisoning the Skripals.
“The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service – the GRU – who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.”
“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. Today – just as we have seen throughout – they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”
A British government minister, who represents Salisbury, said on Twitter that the statements were not credible.
“Delighted that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov were able to see the world-class attractions that #Salisbury has to offer. But very strange to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage,” Tweeted John Glen, the Member of Parliament for Salisbury.
“Salisbury welcomes tourists from around the world and is very much open for business. But the Petrov/Borishov statements are not credible and don’t match the widely accepted intelligence we have on these individuals.”
On March 4, Skripal and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the town of Salisbury after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.
The failed attack triggered a major diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia, with the British government alleging Moscow was responsible for the attempted murder. Russia has repeatedly denied those claims.
UK prosecutors have said they have “sufficient evidence” to charge the pair but did not formally demand their extradition, as Russia does not extradite its citizens.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies
After decades of warfare, the federal drug war has become a predictable cycle.
Drug dealer, drug gang, or drug user busted. DEA agents celebrate the bust. Newspaper reporters laud the DEA. Defendants prosecuted, convicted, and sent to jail.
Then, the cycle repeats itself. Drug dealer, drug gang, or drug user busted. DEA agents celebrate the bust. Newspaper reporters laud the DEA. Defendants prosecuted, convicted, and sent to jail.
And again and again and again. Month after month. Year after year. Decade after decade. The cycle never stops.
Normally when one wages a war, he strives for victory. But no one ever defines what victory in the drug war would look like. The feds seem satisfied to simply engage in the same cycle, over and over again, into perpetuity.
Some proponents of the drug war say that if only the federal government really cracked down in the war on drugs, the war could be won. But what they fail to recognize is that over the years, the federal government really has cracked down.
The feds adopted mandatory-minimum sentences, which took sentencing discretion out of the hands of federal judges and imposed draconian sentences for drug-law violations.
They enacted asset-forfeiture laws, which enable the DEA to seize people’s money without charging them with any offense.
They bash people’s door down in the middle of the night, violently raiding their homes, oftentimes killing the inhabitants or their pets.
They arbitrarily stop, search, abuse, and humiliate people, especially African-Americans.
In some cases, they have even resorted to planting drugs on people.
None of it has brought victory. The cycle simply continues to repeat itself, over and over again. Drug bust, followed by prosecution, conviction, and incarceration, followed by a new drug bust, followed by prosecution, conviction, and incarceration.
Drug-war proponents might say, “Jacob, the problem is that we haven’t really, really cracked down. If we got the military involved and authorized our soldiers to fight this war like a real war, where they could raid people’s homes whenever they wanted, search whoever they like, and kill anyone suspected of violating drug laws, victory would finally be ours.”
Why hasn’t drug-war victory been declared in the Philippines? According to Human Rights Watch, the Philippine government has killed more than 12,000 drug suspects in the last two years of drug warfare. No arrests. No trials. No convictions. No incarcerations. Just straight-out killing.
Yet, still no victory! In fact, they continue to wage their war on drugs with even more ferocity. What gives with that? It’s pretty much impossible to crack down more than arbitrarily killing drug-war suspects outright. Doesn’t that imply that if the DEA and the U.S. military were given the same power here in the United States, killing tens of thousands of Americans would still not lead to drug-war victory?
Consider Mexico, where the military has long played an active role in the country’s drug war. According to the Guardian,
It is 11 years since the then president Felipe Calderón launched a militarised crackdown on drug cartels deploying thousands of soldiers and promising an end to the violence and impunity. But the bloodletting continues, the rule of law remains elusive and accusations of human rights abuses by state security forces abound. All the while, Mexico continues to race past a series a grim milestones: more than 200,000 dead and an estimated 30,000 missing, more than 850 clandestine graves unearthed. This year is set to be the country’s bloodiest since the government started releasing crime figures in 1997, with about 27,000 murders in the past 12 months.
Do we really want the federal government to go down Mexico’s road by bringing in the U.S. military to try to win the drug war? Why should we expect different results here?
If the objective of the drug war is stop people from possessing or distributing drugs, that objective has obviously not been achieved despite decades of warfare. Moreover, in the process of trying to achieve that objective, the federal government has unleashed massive death, destruction, ruination of lives, exorbitant spending, and loss of liberty and privacy. In fact, when we look back on this whole thing, the only thing the drug war has really accomplished is jobs for DEA agents, federal prosecutors, federal judges, and, yes, black-market drug dealers.
I say: Let’s just legalize drugs, which would, in one fell swoop, eradicate drug gangs and drug cartels, along with the necessity for DEA agents and federal prosecutors and federal judges whose jobs depend on the drug war. It would also keep drug use and drug abuse in the private sector, including rehabilitation, where they belong.
That would be a genuine victory.
The September 11 terror incidents in 2001 are said to be the biggest-ever deadly attack on US soil. Shamefully, exactly 17 years later, the US president and Pentagon military chiefs are threatening to go to war in Syria – to defend the same ilk of terrorists.
“Shamefully” is perhaps not the most fitting word here. “Consistently” would be more appropriate.
Officially, the spectacular plane-crashing mayhem 17 years ago in New York City was due to 19 Arab hijackers affiliated with the Al Qaeda terror network.
That account of the world-changing event has been hotly disputed, with many respected authors and organizations claiming that evidence shows the US intelligence agencies are implicated in an inside job. The death of some 3,000 American citizens was hence exploited as a pretext for launching a series of US overseas wars, whose hidden agenda was for promoting imperialist objectives.
In any case, the official story is that Al Qaeda operatives hijacked four airliners on the morning of September 11, 2001, and flew them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, as well as into the Pentagon building near Washington. The fourth plane crashed in a rural area in Pennsylvania, allegedly after passengers challenged
the terrorist pilots.
The Al Qaeda terror network, with its ideological links to Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism, was declared “enemy number one” by then President George W Bush, who proceeded to launch wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, supposedly to avenge the 911 atrocity perpetrated against
The so-called “war on terror” has since become a much-overused blank check for successive US governments and their NATO allies to launch wars anywhere in the world to “defeat terrorists”. It has been used to justify increasing Western state surveillance powers against its own citizens in the name of counter-terrorism.
To be sure, the official story on 911 and subsequent US and NATO military rampaging around the globe has been challenged by skeptics and critics.
One of the key lines of contesting the official narrative is the documented evolution of the Al Qaeda terror franchise, which grew out of US sponsorship of motley radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan during the 1980s. That covert ploy was to give then occupying Soviet troops “their Vietnam”. American and British military intelligence along with lavish Saudi funding created the Frankenstein Monster of Islamic terrorism that mutated and spread across the Middle East and beyond.
So, the very notion that, post-911, the American creators of the terrorist monster would serve to protect the civilized world from their own creation was always a deeply suspect proposition.
The truth is that the US never stopped colluding with these terror groups since the days of the putative Afghan Vietnam for the Soviet Union.
The 911 incidents may have been some form of “blowback” or, plausibly, it was American intelligence handlers contriving a plot which would give imperialist planners their much-desired “new Pearl Harbor” – a blank check to declare war on the planet for the benefit of advancing US strategic interests.
Granted, the success of that nefarious covert scheme is questionable given the unforeseen huge financial and social costs to American society, as well as from general bedlam undermining global security.
For observers willing to see, it seems indisputable that there is something of a symbiotic relationship between Islamist terror proxies and the US imperialist state. The official “enemy” is a boon for justifying oppressive state powers against citizens; it serves as a pump for bloated budgets to the military-industrial complex at the heart of the American capitalist economy; and this enemy can also serve as target practice for illegal military intervention in foreign countries – US interventions that would otherwise be seen for what they are, as “criminal aggression”.
Further, the terror proxies continue to serve as a cat’s paws for US imperialism, as in the earlier formation in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Rather than direct large-scale American military involvement, the Al Qaeda brigades are deployed to do Washington’s dirty work. Syria is emerging as the new Afghanistan.
Officially, the Pentagon and US corporate news media scoff at these claims of collusion with terrorists. “We are bombing Syria to defeat terrorists,” so goes the mantra. Substitute any number of countries for “Syria”, as required.
Well, if that’s the case why have senior US military people like Michael Flynn admitted that the former Obama administration deliberately cultivated the terror brigades in Syria? Why have hundreds of millions of dollars gone into forming a non-existent “moderate rebel army” in Syria only for the American weaponry to end up in the hands of terror groups like Nusra Front?
What about credible reports of US military helicopters airlifting Nusra commanders out of harm’s way to other, safer parts of Syria? Similar reports of airlifting, or airdropping weapons, have come out of Afghanistan, where the Pentagon is still “fighting terrorists” – 17 years after 911.
It has taken a painfully long time over the eight years of war in Syria to uncover the full and real extent of criminality by the US and its British and French allies, along with the Saudis, Turks and Israelis.
But now we are coming full circle. President Donald Trump and his officials are warning that they will launch military strikes on Syria if the Syrian army and its Russian and Iranian allies proceed with the offensive to retake Idlib province. The northwest province is the last-remaining stronghold of anti-government militants. These militants are not the illusory “moderate rebels” the Western media have long bamboozled the public with. The militants comprise Nusra Front, Ahrar al Sham, Islamic State, and other self-professed Wahhabi jihadists of the Al Qaeda franchise. The myriad, mercurial names are merely part of the US cynical cover.
Trump – the supposed non-interventionist president – has even discarded the earlier ruse of invoking “chemical weapons” as a pretext for a US military attack on Syria. He and his officials are simply saying that any offensive by the Syrian army to retake all of its territory is an “unacceptable escalation” that will be met with a US military response.
There is no other credible rationale for such military deployment by Washington in Syria. The Western media are as usual riding shotgun with the mendacity, claiming that the Syrian army offensive will trigger a “humanitarian crisis”, rather than reporting the salient fact that the offensive is aimed at eradicating the most vile terror groups from that country.
In Syria, today, 17 years after 911, the real relationship between US authorities and terrorism is on display. The United States of Anarchy.
Sometimes when I step back from the overwhelming flow of geopolitical insanity I’m reminded of the old adage that coming close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
To which, I always add, “And nuclear war.”
I’ve been watching the build up to the operation to liberate Idlib in Syria which includes the endless neocon and Israeli moral preening warning Assad against using chemical weapons with a sense of detachment. And I keep thinking to myself, “Do they really think we’re that stupid?”
Three times the chemical weapons canard has been used to justify further aggression against Syria and three times a full-blown U.S. invasion has been averted. First by Vladimir Putin’s deft diplomacy and General Dunford’s refusal to implement a ‘no-fly zone’ in 2013 and then during the Trump years with ineffectual air strikes on Syrian airbases.
How much of that ineffectuality of those airstrikes were designed by Defense Secretary James Mattis to avoid a wider conflagration and how much was Russian EW/missile defense is anyone’s guess.
The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.
That is why everyone who is worrying about the U.S.’s blustering over Syria’s Idlib campaign needs to take a big step back and think the scenario through.
Because the neoconservatives and Israel are forcing the situation to its crisis point, thinking they can manipulate the headlines and the levers of power to still eke out a victory in Syria that will allow them to continue on their quest to destroy Russia first and conquer the rest of Asia after that.
And they are willing to blackmail us with the threat of WWIII over 50,000 head-chopping mercenaries to get their cookie.
However, when you factor in the men actually in charge of the U.S. military chain of command, Trump and Mattis, and you realize the lengths to which Mattis’ field commanders have gone to avoid direct confrontation with Russian forces, you come to the conclusion that the men who will actually fight this war the neoconservative provocateurs and laptop bombardiers are clamoring for won’t actually pull the trigger.
The reasons for this are manifest.
First, the potential for the conflict to go nuclear is too high for rational men to take that chance. Mattis and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu are hard-bitten, no-nonsense men. Neither underestimates the other’s resolve to defend their men and national interests.
So, once the shooting starts expect it to get ugly quick. Therefore it is unlikely to get to that point.
Second, there is no profit in that kind of escalation for the people who profit from war. The banks and the military weapons makers thrive in low-intensity, frozen conflicts which keep sales flowing and governments indebted to pay for them.
In an age of nuclear weapons, proxy wars fought by mercenaries with drones are far more profitable than any large-scale invasions. I hate to say this but from a discounted cash flow perspective Lockheed-Martin wants predictability to cover their quarterly dividends to shareholders more than they want to bring about the supposed Zionist plan for Greater Israel.
Sorry to burst everyone’s conspiracy theories.
Third and most importantly, the U.S. cannot afford a non-nuclear confrontation with Russia that punctures the illusion of U.S. military superiority. Too much of the world’s confidence in the dollar itself rests in the U.S.’s ability to project power and defend its interests militarily.
This confidence is a mixture of that military capability and the U.S.’s traditional position of a country with an excellent legal framework within which to do business. It is fashionable among geopolitical critics, myself included, to get caught up in the rhetoric and projection of a sclerotic and weakening United States, but legally it is still one of the best places on earth to do business.
But, as Martin Armstrong pointed out recently, Trump’s domestic opposition has openly declared sedition against him this week in the New York Times. Former Secretary of State, John Kerry, is doing the talk show circuit calling for a constitutional crisis over Trump allegedly being unfit for office. And George Soros is paying protesters to disrupt the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
If allowed to run its course to impeachment in the event of the Republicans losing control of the House in November, this would be a death blow to the U.S.’s reputation as a nation of laws rather than a nation of men. The U.S. dollar would not recover from such a blow to its credibility, especially in light of Trump’s nearly-unhinged use of sanctions and threats of tariffs, weaponizing the dollar indiscriminately.
The grey-market appeal of cryptocurrencies, and the finality of every transaction encoded on a blockchain, has made…
And this is why Vladimir Putin openly showed his hand to the world in March. Strategically, he let everyone know that any confrontation between Russia and the U.S. would result in the U.S losing its status as the world’s pre-eminent military power.
This is why the neocons and the U.S./U.K. Deep State have been so adamant in accelerating its provocations against Russia. They have to present us with the Faustian bargain of WWIII before Russia has these weapon systems fully deployed.
It’s also why Trump and Mattis are allowing them to have their head. It feeds Trump’s “Art of the Deal” strategy for negotiations while also allowing him the opportunity to save face after Idlib is liberated regardless of whether another chemical weapons attack is staged.
I think we won’t see one here.
The way out of Syria for the U.S. with its face-saved is to thunder and bluster, threaten fire and brimstone just like Trump did with Kim Jong-un and use that to explain why Assad showed restraint and didn’t use chemical weapons this time.
I can even see Trump tweeting something about three strikes and he would be out.
Once Idlib is liberated Mattis will happily begin pulling vulnerable troops out of al-Tanf and Afghanistan. That’s why I believe he went there to the surprise of the CIA house-organ Washington Post last week.
And then the neocon and Israeli muddying of the waters will move to the Geneva talks, but we’ll cross that Rubicon when it approaches.
“Given what we are facing when paying in dollars, more and more countries have the desire to trade in their national currencies,” Putin said Wednesday.
“Moreover, it is right for financial sustainability to develop bilateral trade in national currencies. We will move towards this gradually,” he added.
The Russian president noted that there are risks in settlements in national currencies, but they could be minimized. “Risks exist everywhere and they need to be minimized, and in order to minimize them diversification is required.”
According to Putin, the US dollar is also a risky financial tool. “US foreign debt amounts to $20 trillion. What will be next? Who knows?”
Putin added that Russia is diversifying its foreign reserves and public debt. “All this creates the stability of our financial system,” he said.
Russia has been dumping US debt securities in recent months. The latest data from the US Treasury shows that Russia’s share hit an 11-year minimum and totaled only $14.9 billion. Russia held $96.1 billion in US Treasuries in March. In 2010, Russia was among the top 10 holders of US Treasuries at $176.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Russia’s gold holdings have been steadily increasing, bringing its share of the precious metal to its highest level in nearly two decades – almost 2,200 tons.
In the classic 1973 heist movie The Sting, two con men—played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman—build a fictitious world in a Depression-era Chicago basement to defraud a corrupt banker. They make an offtrack-betting room, hire actors to ensure the scene is convincing, and even enlist pretend law enforcement to fake-bust their mark. The film is memorable because it is one of the finest movies in the genre, well written and funny, but also because the duo’s work is so meticulously detailed.
The con has changed since then, both short and long. In this age, the online equivalent of The Sting is a phishing site: a fake reality that lives online, set up to capture precious information such as logins and passwords, bank-account numbers, and the other functional secrets of modern life. You don’t get to see these spaces being built, but—like The Sting’s betting room—they can be perfect in every detail. Or they can be thrown together at the last minute like a clapboard set.
This might be the best way to think about phishing: a set built for you, to trick information out of you; built either by con men or, in the case of the recent spear-phishing attack caught and shut down by Microsoft, by spies and agents working for (or with) interfering governments, which seems a bit more sinister than Paul Newman with a jaunty smile and a straw hat.
But that’s the untargeted stuff. Enticing someone to click on a phishing link, in an email or elsewhere, is where a targeted attack, also known as spear-phishing, comes in: learning about someone’s life and habits to know just what email would get them unthinkingly to click. A reality built for one person, or one cohort of people. The con is on, the set is built, and the actors are hired to make the sting, all from a web browser.