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December 21, 2018
So…here we are, only a year away from 2020 and contemplating another year in the struggle for survival. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we’ve got about 12 years to turn this climate change thing around and that’s just to avoid catastrophe, never mind guaranteeing a healthy planet in the future. Such a catastrophe could well involve the extinction of human beings, which would reveal just how dumb we are. Is there anything more stupid that the most intelligently-evolved species on the planet could do than commit mass suicide?
I am astounded at the tenacity, resilience and persistence of folks such as climate scientist James Hansen who, on behalf of future generations, have been shouting about the environmental threat since the late 1980s. And, since those days of his Congressional testimony Hansen, who worked for many years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has courageously spread the word about climate change to fulfill part of NASA’s mission statement: To Understand and Protect the Home Planet.
Indeed, this was part of the mission statement of NASA until 2006 when those fateful words were quietly and very symbolically removed. Organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists were very disturbed about this development, noting at the time that research and funding opportunities related to earth science and climate change would be much harder to justify with NASA’s new focus solely on space exploration. Some may say it’s a bloody good job that we are learning more about life on other planets and how we can get there, given that a privileged bunch of us may have to flee this one at some point in the not-to-distant future. And, given the inequalities inherent in our current economic order, it will be only the rich that are saved. As for the poor and marginalized, they would be left behind to endure some sort of Mad Max-style barbarism and death.
At the recent climate summit in Poland, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned the plenary that ignoring the science is not just immoral, it’s “suicidal.” While we can feel some hope that the “High Ambition Coalition” of global North and several global South countries are committed to cutting their emissions in line with the 1.5 C temperature rise limit, there are some disturbing realities that must be confronted. Not to put too fine a point on it but achieving the 1.5C limit will require a global revolution. And it is not just about a revolution in technology. And it is certainly not about clever carbon emissions juggling and some tweaking of existing policy. It is fundamentally about recognizing that fossil capitalism, as Ian Angus calls it, is literally killing us.
This is not a new message for those on the environmental left, but for the global North mainstream, and perhaps particularly the Anglo-American portion of that mainstream, it is not an especially welcome message. Downsizing the “American way of life” implies not only radical changes to our daily consumption habits, including what we put on our plates, it also requires a radical ethos of solidarity and compassion that come into direct conflict with the individualist, competitive, growth-obsessed economic culture that dominates our societies. We are talking about a cultural shift that puts the health and welfare of people, communities and nature before profit and access to cheap “stuff.” It has almost become common place in environmental circles to point out that for everyone on the planet to live as we do in North America would require 3-5 planets. Last time I checked we only had one.
We need to directly confront the structural violence of contemporary capitalist institutional frameworks and processes brought to you by the world’s largest corporations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the various not so “free” trade agreements dotting the planet (have you seen any workers freely crossing borders lately while capital springs around boundary-less?).
These institutions provide the stage and grease the wheels (literally!) for rampant overconsumption in the global North while promising this lifestyle for increasing numbers in the global South. As living a life of dignity becomes less possible in many countries of the global South and inequality reaches what Oxfam has called “obscene” levels, the ghosts of our failed economic model appear in the form of economic refugees knocking increasingly loudly on our door only to discover tear gas or a wall. It is crucial that we recognize the connections between our Monty Python-sized ecological footprint and the economic and environmental marginalization of a significant majority of humanity. Increasing numbers of people are simply becoming irrelevant to the global economy.
Remember when we used to have dreams about technological developments meaning that time could be freed up for human beings to more deeply pursue their potential by having more of the mundane, dirty and necessary jobs done by machines? But as authors such as Garry Leech note, the “logic of capital” means that these greater efficiencies are often simply about increasing rates of profit while providing access to cheap stuff. Still reeling from “Black Friday” and heading into the holiday buying season, it is all too clear how much we like our stuff.
From a political perspective, maybe the good news is that climate change could be the great equalizer. While the effects are being and will continue to be disproportionately experienced by the poor, women, and people of colour, ultimately none of us can escape its consequences. However, in rich capitalist countries, while we face neoliberal austerity and rising inequality, we still have enough material comfort to pacify most of the population and to blind many of us to the realities of capitalism at a global level, from which we cannot separate ourselves.
I recently spent some time living in Cuba, the only country in the world, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, to have achieved “sustainable development” and where the question of what a future relationship with the capitalist world will look like is being asked very intentionally. It occurred to me while there, that from the perspective of climate change, it is perhaps even more important for usto ask what kind of relationship we will have with capitalism in the future. While our immediate issues and priorities may be different from Cuba’s, the question of what kind of values we want to live by and stand for is something that we can decide consciously, and this may be the most significant question we have to ask in contemporary politics.
So, what is to be done? What are we not doing that we should be doing? When I asked Cuban permaculture expert Roberto Perez what we need to do and what we need to talk about in the current moment to create social change in the global North that would contribute to a more socially just and ecologically sustainable global order, he replied: “When creating a political movement, I always think that things have to be attractive and sexy. The end of the world is not sexy.” We have learned the hard way that simply presenting people with the hard facts of global poverty, unjust wars and environmental degradation does not always lead to behavioral changes. This work is important and needs to happen but there is more to the picture.
The difficult thing to digest is that all of us in the global North are implicated in the continuation of the current economic model. And not because we are bad people. In actual fact, that we are all “guilty” is also good news in the sense that it highlights how we are all interdependent because our activities, purchases and general lifestyles are intimately connected to the fates of other human beings both within our own countries and around the world. In other words, changing our ways can save lives and the planet.
It is due to the everyday lifestyle choices of those in the North, and increasing numbers in China and India, along with the “threat” of those aspiring to live like us, that the capitalist growth machine keeps going. Even when we “know” what the consequences will be, it is difficult to get off the consumption train because everything we do from driving a car, to buying a pair of shoes, to flying to visit our sick grandmother, to eating a cheeseburger turns the wheels. Some people bike to work, shop ethically, and boycott factory farms, among other things, but there is still an underlying awareness that none of us can completely step off the train unless perhaps we decide to live isolated in the middle of the woods. But even living in the woods won’t work because not taking action to stop the train is also a form of accepting it—and the consequences of climate change will still be felt, even in the woods.
So, if providing people with the terrifying “facts” does not necessarily change behavior then what are we missing? Are we all just increasingly depressed and feeling more and more impotent? It turns out that the idea of the world ending really isn’t sexy after all because the changes required of us mean confronting many of our daily habits and comforts—and the less politically-minded may ask, for what? Some vague hope that paying more for my locally-produced organic veggies will make a dent in industrial monoculture crop production? Or that not buying an iPad may contribute to improvements in human rights for Chinese workers? Or not going through the fast food drive-thru may contribute to ending the systematic cruelty of factory farms? Or biking to work (if that is even possible) may mean I don’t contribute so much to fossil fuel emissions? Or putting up solar panels, getting a windmill, exploring geothermal heating etc.? And which f—king toothpaste should I buy? Why are there 20 choices?
Is it surprising that 21st century activists, and those simply aspiring to be good citizens, are a tad neurotic? The list of places and moments where ethical choices present themselves is endless. And is it any coincidence that it seems to be largely the middle and upper classes that have these options? Living ethically in North America not only requires a budget but to some degree it requires the privilege of social capital. Again, it is no coincidence that lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes are disproportionately prevalent along race and class lines in North America.
Buddhist scholar and philosopher Joanna Macy suggests that what many of us see as apathy in our fellow citizens is actually pain avoidance. We don’t want to face our own pain and sadness and neither do we want to confront the collective pain of the broader culture we are a part of. While indigenous cultures can’t imagine seeing themselves as separate from nature and each other, those influenced by Western culture and Enlightenment thinking seem determined to see themselves as separate. This has allowed us to justify all kinds of exploitation of people, non-human animals and nature.
Yet at an existential level it saddens many of us deeply that football fields of deforestation are happening every several minutes in the Amazon, that millions of children unnecessarily go hungry every day, that increasing numbers of people are facing floods, heatwaves, forest fires, and that so many non-human animals face cruelty and torture, not to mention extinction on a daily basis, and so on. Roberto Perez believes that “people in the global North know that something is very wrong, they just don’t know where to start.”
Macy suggests that creating spaces to acknowledge this pain and building active hope are at least part of the solution. By active hope she means a hope that does not depend on believing you will meet your goal. It is a hope that believes in the process, in what we do together today. The point being that this is not an individual journey. Interdependence means that we can’t really get out of this mess without collectively shifting the culture and without coming to terms with the fact that many of us feel sadness about the various effects of our consumer capitalist culture from climate change to species extinction to glaring inequality to human rights abuses. And as Roberto reminded me, there are many of us around the world feeling this way. But if we are to avoid stupidly killing ourselves off, then we need to begin asking ourselves: What kind of revolution is required to ensure our continued existence on this planet?
“And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall,” says the incoming congresswoman. “But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it.”
“And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall,” says the incoming congresswoman. “But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it.”
As President Donald Trump continues to throw a temper tantrum and threaten a government shutdown if he doesn’t get billions of dollars to build his infamous border wall, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) turned to Twitter on Friday to challenge the GOP trope that the federal government simply doesn’t have the money to implement bold progressive policies such as Medicare for All or a Green New Deal.
Spending legislation advanced by the Republican-controlled House Thursday night would allocate $5.7 billion to the wall, but that bill—at odds with a Senate-approved measure that lacks wall funding—seems unlikely to get through the upper chamber without Trump’s favored “nuclear option” of changing the Senate rules.
As the threat of a government shutdown looms, the incoming congresswoman highlighted the other ways—from increasing teacher pay to replacing water pipes—that lawmakers could spend the money:
Stony Brook University public policy and economics professor Stephanie Kelton, a former chief economist on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, responded to Ocasio-Cortez by homing in on one of the key policy items backed by the incoming representative, tweeting: “Congress authorizes the spending. Period. The mechanics of paying for a
#GreenNewDeal are exactly the same.”
Notice how it’s all about finding the VOTES. It’s how *everything* is paid for. Congress authorizes the spending. Period. The mechanics of paying for a #GreenNewDeal are exactly the same.
A Green New Deal, supported by climate advocates nationwide and a growing number of House Democrats, would couple measures to address the global climate crisis with policies to create jobs and a more just economy. While Ocasio-Cortez has called for the creation of a House Select Committee to craft such a deal, top Democrats including presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) have been accused of trying to kill it.
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—which endorsed Ocasio-Cortez’s successful bid to oust long-time Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last summer—responded to news of the potential $5.7 billion in border wall funding with a focus on healthcare. Along with a rising portion of the public, both DSA and Ocasio-Cortez support Medicare for All—a proposal championed by, among others, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would guarantee healthcare for all Americans.
Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein responded to Ocasio-Cortez with some figures—suggesting that the U.S. could implement universal pre-K or provide coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Americans with the money the House GOP wants to give Trump to bolster his anti-immigrant policies and fulfill one of his key campaign promises:
With $5.7B, you could:
— Cover 852,017 uninsured Americans
— Fund universal pre-K plan (options b/w $2B-$12B)
Granted you’d want these be recurring expenses rather than annual, but GOP also wants $25 billion for wall
— Repairing Flint’s water pipes: $55 million
Amazon’s creepy facial recognition doorbell won’t just be looking at your front porch. It will surveil the WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD and store the data in the Cloud.
Amazon’s creepy facial recognition doorbell won’t just be looking at your front porch. It will surveil the WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD and store the data in the Cloud.
At first glance of Amazon’s new patent application, one would be tempted to think it no more than a built-in “smart” security system.
But no, this facial recognition surveillance doorbell does a lot more than record would-be thieves.
According to a new report, the patent application, made available in late November, would pair facial surveillance such as Rekognition, the product that Amazon is aggressively marketing to law enforcement, with Ring – a doorbell camera company that Amazon acquired in 2018.
CNN writes, “Amazon’s application says the process leads to safer, more connected neighborhoods, as well as better informed homeowners and law enforcement.”
Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Here’s another:
Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells. –Jacob Snow, ACLU
Wow. Do you feel safer yet?
It’s going to record all who walk by and gather composite images and recordings that can be stored in a cloud and accessed by law enforcement to help surveil and catch suspects.
One of the main problems – besides the obvious privacy violations and smashing the 4th amendment to smithereens – is that facial recognition has been abysmal so far. That means if a database determines you are a suspect because you bear a striking resemblance, then the police could show up and detain you before you even drop off the potato salad to your next potluck.
While the details are sketchy, the application describes a system that the police can use to match the faces of people walking by a doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” Likewise, homeowners can also add photos of “suspicious” people into the system and then the doorbell’s facial recognition program will scan anyone passing their home. In either case, if a match occurs, the person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement, and the police could arrive in minutes.
The application describes creating a database of suspicious persons. Unwanted visitors would be added to the list when a homeowner tags them as not authorized. Other people could be added to the database because they are a convicted felon or registered sex offender, according to the application. Residents may also alert neighbors of a suspicious person’s presence.But some people, such as a mail courier, could be placed on an authorized persons list. Postal service logos could be used to help identify them.
Putting people on a naughty list? Wait, doesn’t that all sound eerily similar to the social credit system rolled out in China?
“The patent describes the neighborhood surveillance system as an opt-in service,” CNN adds.
But really, it is not possible to opt out of broad brushstroke surveillance. How can I opt out of my neighbor (and Amazon, and the government) storing everything about me in the Cloud? What if my neighbor hates that my tree branch hangs over their fence? Will I go on their suspicious persons list?
“As a former patent litigator, I’ve spent a lot of time reading patents. It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about,” writes Jacob Snow in a recent ACLU report on the newest invasive technology by the company that only 10 years ago just sold…books.
“These systems threaten to further entangle people with law enforcement, ripping families apart and increasing the likelihood of racially biased police violence,” Snow claims.
He adds, “this technology puts activists and protesters in danger when exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Tests from the ACLU showed that facial recognition doesn’t correctly identify people and this leaves the door wide open to let A.I. do the justice. That means innocent people could be filling up the privatized prison system.
The ACLU tested the Rekognition software and proved that it incorrectly identified members of Congress as common criminals. Yes, the irony would be giggle-inducing in a John Oliver segment, but not so much for the innocent person serving life in prison.
This glaring inaccuracy prompted Amazon shareholders to urge the company to stop selling this tech to law enforcement. The recent patent application serves as a flippant disregard for that plea.
“The application also undercuts Amazon’s own purported defense of its face surveillance product. The company has told the public that biometrics should only be used by law enforcement as an aid, not a replacement, to human judgment. But Amazon’s patent application is pushing the technology toward automation, removing human judgment from the identification process, and instead potentially relying on data, like arrest photos, that itself is a record of racially discriminatory policing,” says Snow.
The ACLU notes that facial recognition is even less accurate for darker skinned people and that this technology paves the way for harassment and wrongful action against the formerly incarcerated. But for activists, too.
Here is a figure of the doorbell and the surveillance scope. Check out the rest of the patent application HERE:
Snow warns that the patent makes it painfully clear that this surveillance tech will not be limited to doorbells or homes.
Any complementary audio or visual device – Cough! Echo! Cough! – can be set up for biometric scanning.
Amazon is expecting to target a bevy of other biometrics such as:
In addition, the surveillance tech could even include recognition based on behavioral characteristics, like:
Imagine a doorbell – or in-home device – that can do all that.
For Snow…“It confirms that Amazon wants to enable the tracking of everyone, everywhere, all the time. And it’s apparently happy to deliver that data to the government.”
We always knew the government had boundary issues but this is just TMI – too much intimacy.
A lot of people are comfy and cozy with the idea that they are being watched all the time, like the people lining up to be scanned at the airport to save two seconds of their time.
For me, being watched under a microscope by my government makes every nerve of my being burn with the fire of a thousand hells with the added dread that there is not one minute of reprieve, nor any identity of my own except to be an eyeballed object of the all mighty, omnipresent State.
But, hey, that’s just me…
If you go to someone’s house, you’ll be on the digital record.
Imagine if a neighborhood was set up with these doorbell cameras. Simply walking up to a friend’s house could result in your face, your fingerprint, or your voice being flagged as “suspicious” and delivered to a government database without your knowledge or consent. With Amazon selling the devices, operating the servers, and pushing the technology on law enforcement, the company is building all the pieces of a surveillance network, reaching from the government all the way to our front doors.
Like I said before when I wrote about biometrics at the Atlanta International airport: it’s nearly impossible to avoid facial recognition technology today.
Yet, we do still have control over how we spend our money, our voice, and with whom we spend our time. It’s not much control in the grand scheme of things but if we rise up and fight this, our great grandchildren will honor us.
That is, if they will even understand the concept of privacy by the time they get here…
It seems like every day I stumble across a new piece of creepy tech that someone wants to add to our every day lives under the guise of “convenience” and “safety.” How will you avoid getting caught in the net? Are you creeped out by this stuff?
by: Mike Adams
Friday, December 21, 2018
(Natural News) Achieving another breathtaking win for the American people while fighting against a criminal, corrupt establishment, President Donald J. Trump just legalized industrial hemp nationwide by signing the new Farm Bill into law. The hemp legalization provision was spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), further demonstrating that Republicans support hemp legalization and agricultural freedom.
After nearly 50 years of prohibition, industrial hemp will be legal to grow across America beginning January 1, 2019. It’s another huge victory that helps Make America Great Again by unleashing the power of agricultural freedom and natural health.
“This law marks the first change in the federal classification of the cannabis plant since it was initially classified as a schedule I controlled substance by Congress in 1970, and paves the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. NORML also adds:
The hemp-specific provisions of the 2018 Act amend the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law.
“Although hemp will no longer be in the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, prospective growers will have to submit cultivation plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), either through the state government or the USDA itself,” reports Marijuana Moment.
CBD and other cannabinoids are essentially “de-scheduled” from the Schedule I controlled substance list, but only if they are produced in accordance with the Farm Bill stipulations, meaning growers must comply with state and federal regulations which are so far not described anywhere. The USDA will reportedly regulate hemp production now, and states that wish to exert more restrictive state controls must coordinate their plans with the USDA. As NORML reports:
The Act (Section 297B) permits those US states that wish to possess “primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp” to submit a plan to the US Secretary of Agriculture. The agency has 60 days to approve, disapprove, or amend the plan. In instances where a state-proposed plan is not approved, “it shall be unlawful to produce hemp in that state … without a license.”
It explicitly allows the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or other purposes. It also puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products, so long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law.
Under the leadership of the Trump Administration, the FDA is indicating it may pursue regulatory reforms to legalize CBD in dietary supplement products nationwide. Via a December 20 announcement from the FDA:
Among other things, this new law changes certain federal authorities relating to the production and marketing of hemp… These changes include removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it will no longer be an illegal substance under federal law.
At first, the FDA reiterates that it maintains total control over CBD and that CBD is currently not allowed to be sold as a dietary supplement for the bizarre reason that certain companies are studying CBD for use as a possible prescription medication:
Additionally, it’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived. This is because both CBD and THC are active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs and were the subject of substantial clinical investigations before they were marketed as foods or dietary supplements. Under the FD&C Act, it’s illegal to introduce drug ingredients like these into the food supply, or to market them as dietary supplements.
That said, the FDA signals its willingness to hold conversations with industry leaders with the possible outcome of issuing new regulations that would eliminate its current restrictions on the selling of CBD-based dietary supplements. “[T]he FDA has authority to issue a regulation allowing the use of a pharmaceutical ingredient in a food or dietary supplement,” says the FDA, implying that CBD is a “pharmaceutical ingredient” even when CBD has been around for millions of years, long before pharmaceutical companies even existed. “We are taking new steps to evaluate whether we should pursue such a process.”
The FDA further explains it will hold public meetings to solicit input on further regulatory changes it might pursue:
Given the substantial public interest in this topic and the clear interest of Congress in fostering the development of appropriate hemp products, we intend to hold a public meeting in the near future for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with these products, including information and views related to the safety of such products.
We’ll use this meeting to gather additional input relevant to the lawful pathways by which products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds can be marketed, and how we can make these legal pathways more predictable and efficient.
Stay informed on hemp, cannabis and medical marijuana at HempScience.news.
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist…”
The concept of using the economy as a weapon is not an alien one to most people. Generally, we understand the nature of feudalism and how various groups can be herded onto centralized plantations to be exploited for their labor. Some people see this as a consequence of “capitalism,” and others see it as an extension of socialism/communism. Sadly, many people wrongly assume that one is a solution to the other – meaning they think that crony capitalism is a solution to communist centralization or that communism is a solution to the corruption of crony capitalism. The reality is that this is just another false paradigm.
What is most disturbing is that the majority of the public have no grasp whatsoever of the true solution to the problem of corrupt or totalitarian economies: free markets.
Free markets have not existed within the global economy on a large scale for at least the past 100 years. The rise of central banking has eroded all vestiges of freedom in production and trade. Crony capitalism with its focus on corporate power and monopoly has nothing to do with free markets, despite the arguments of rather naive socialists who blame “free markets” for the problems of the world. If you ever hear anyone making this claim, I suggest you remind them that corporations and their advantages are a creation of governments.
The protections of corporate personhood, limited liability, unfair taxation of small business competition and legislation shielding corporations from civil lawsuits are all generated by government. Therefore, corporations and crony capitalism are much more a product of socialist-style systems, not free markets. In a true free market devoid of constant government interference and favoritism, corporations could not exist and would be obliterated over time by the competitive environment. And without limited liability, business moguls that violate the rule of law and harm others would be subject to personal prosecution and jail time instead of simply paying a fine. The cost/benefit ratio for corrupt business would disappear and thus corrupt businesses would flounder.
At the very core of the combination of corporate power and government protection (what some might say is the classical definition of fascism), rest the central banks, globalist institutions and the banking elites behind them. Central banks are the stewards of the various plantations (nations) and oversee the exploitation of these societies and their labor. Major globalist constructs like the IMF or the Bank for International Settlements are the policy makers for the national central banks. They hand down the strategy, and the central banks implement that strategy in concert. At the top of the pyramid sit the round table groups and the international bankers themselves, reaping the rewards of the cycle of theft.
As noted scholar, globalist insider and mentor to Bill Clinton, Carroll Quigley wrote in his book Tragedy And Hope:
“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank … sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”
This is an easy notion to understand, I think. That is to say, the idea of oligarchs, the 1% if you will, controlling the other 99 percent through economic leverage is something that most people can agree exists, whether they identify with the political Right or the political Left. They may only have a vague notion of the facts behind this conspiracy, but they have seen it in action in their daily lives and they know it is real. Here is where most of them start to lose sight of the bigger picture, though…
Many see the conspiracy as merely a product of profit motive. That is to say, they don’t see it as a conscious and organized effort so much as unconsciously motivated greed. This reminds me of the most famous line from the movie The Usual Suspects:
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.”
All the evidence overwhelmingly assures us that the conspiracy is fully conscious, organized and deliberate. It is not an ugly or random byproduct of “profit motive.” This is absurd when you consider the amount of coordination that is required or the number of think tanks and secretive conferences that occur yearly, from the Council on Foreign Relations, to Tavistock, to the Trilateral Commission, to the Brookings Institute, to Davos, to Bilderberg and to even weirder circles like Bohemian Grove. These are very real centers of power that can have far reaching influence in our daily lives.
To ignore this and reduce it all down to a “natural” extension of greed is to stupidly rest one’s soft spongy head in the jaws of organized evil while pretending you can’t smell the stench of its gingivitis.
The control mechanisms of the globalists are far more complex though than simply exploiting the flow of money or the accumulation of debt. Numerous liberty activists that have accepted the reality of institutionalized control of the economy still refuse to acknowledge another very real control mechanism — the use of economic collapse. I’m not sure why this idea is taken as farfetched by people who are already versed in the facts behind globalism. Their biases just won’t allow them to look at the environment objectively and see the usefulness of collapse as a tactic to gain more leverage and influence.
I believe the key to understanding economics and the world at large is to embrace the truth that almost everything that is done in the world of politics and finance is done to manipulate public psychology toward certain ends. That is to say, the true battlefield is the human mind; everything else is secondary.
But what ends am I referring to? To be more specific, the masses are constantly being pressured into more dependency, more fear, less self-sufficiency and less awareness of the grand scheme. We are encouraged to box with our own shadows, to produce for the system but not for ourselves, to struggle for minimal gains spent haphazardly on meaningless objectives, to fight with each other for scraps while remaining blind to the enormous parasites attached to our backs, to affiliate with pointless causes led by puppet politicians and controlled opposition, to never build anything ourselves, always waiting for some hero on a white horse to come and save us.
In essence, we are consistently being distracted or admonished from our natural inclination to establish free markets – free markets in thought, in trade, in information, in government, etc. The globalists are even willing to collapse entire economic systems to prevent this outcome and to keep us trapped in centralization. This prison is a mental one, for the most part. At any time, we could walk away from the totalitarian model and build our own free market systems. Getting to this point psychologically, getting people to take the first steps, is the hard part, however.
Economics as the globalists implement it is not about profit. It is sometimes about milking the population for labor or hard assets, but this is a side benefit. What economics is really about is molding minds; it is about changing the psychology of millions of people. It is about erasing inborn conscience and moral compass. It is about destroying long held societal principles and heritage. And sometimes, it is about erasing history altogether, killing most of a generation, and then writing a new history that is more suitable to the globalist ideal, which is much easier when there are so few people who remember the truth left to argue about it.
Globalists exhibit most, if not all, the traits of narcissistic sociopaths, who sometimes organize into cooperative groups as long as there is a promise of mutual gain and a structure of top down dominance. Narcissistic sociopaths are notorious for using crisis as a means to keep the people around them off balance and serving their interests. Their ultimate goal is rarely profit. Instead, they seek power; power over every aspect of every life of every person around them. A modicum of power is not enough. They want total control, and they will use any means to get it, including engineering threats and disasters to elicit compliance or to paint themselves as a necessary hero or “protector.”
A sociopath is not content to control people through fear or violence alone. They want their victims to love them; to view them as saviors instead of tyrants.
To reiterate, the goal of economic subversion is to break down the human mind and change it into something else; something less human or, at the very least, something less rebellious. One can only control people through debt and false rewards for so long before they start to recoil and revolt. Economic collapse, on the other hand, can change people fundamentally through persistent terror and through tragedy. Through trauma, the globalists hope to make men into monsters or robots.
The current system was never built to last. Our economy is designed to fail, yet few people seem to question why that is? They tell themselves that this is because greed has led the money elite to self-sabotage, but this is a fantasy. It is not just that the system is designed to fail, but that it is designed to fail according to an organized timetable.
The globalist magazine The Economist announced in 1988 the coming of a one-world currency system, one that would be launched in 2018 and that would require the decline of the U.S. economy and the dollar to open the door to the reset. It is no coincidence that we are now witnessing the beginning of a major financial crash in the last quarter of 2018. This crash was engineered starting in 2008 by central banks first through the inflation of a historic bubble encompassing almost all asset classes using stimulus measures and near zero interest rates, and it is being imploded today by the same central banks using tightening measures into economic weakness.
It is also no coincidence that the globalists have announced in 2018 that their intention is to adapt to a digital monetary system using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. That is to say, the one world currency system predicted in The Economist is already here. They are only waiting for a crisis large enough to pressure society to accept total global centralization as a solution.
Forcing the public to embrace worldwide centralization would require several measures.
First, the current system, which as stated is designed to fail, would have to be allowed to crash.
Second, the crash would have to be blamed on someone other than the globalists and their ideology of globalism.
Third, philosophical opponents of globalism (i.e., conservatives, nationalists and decentralization activists) would have to be demonized or eliminated so that the globalists can build their new world order without opposition.
Fourth, the population would need to be sufficiently traumatized to the point of psychological submission and desperation, so that when the new system is introduced, they will be grateful for it, thus preventing future rebellion by making the public a willing cooperator in their own enslavement.
The success of such a plan is not guaranteed. In fact, I believe the globalists will ultimately fail in their endeavor as I have outlined in past articles. This does not mean though that they aren’t going to try. Liberty activists must accept the fact that the plan of the globalists involves the deliberate destruction of our current economy. Those who refuse will find themselves bewildered by the outcome of future financial developments, instead of being prepared. They will find themselves easily subdued, instead of ready to rebel. And they will wonder after it’s all over why they didn’t see it coming when the end game was so obvious.
We are at the remains of Panticapaeum, the capital of the Kingdom of Bosphorus, founded in the second quarter of the 6th century BC on both sides of the Kerch Strait.
We start our walk on the hilltop of Mithridates, in the heart of modern Kerch, where “terrible” king Mithridates of Pontus (134 – 64 BC) was killed. Greek geographer Strabo (63 BC – 23 AD) said Panticapaeum was the mother country of “all the Milesian cities of Bosphorus”. It was a big city that boasted a convenient harbor and a shipyard.
As we climb higher, we come across an obelisk celebrating victory in the Great Patriotic War. This is one of the last ridges in eastern Crimea. To the left is Kerch harbor with no warships, only coastguard patrol boats. To the right, the dark blue Sea of Azov, the Kerch strait – now one of the geopolitical hot spots of the young 21st century – and far in the distance is Krimsky Most, the Crimea bridge.
Crossing the bridge – a 19km-long engineering marvel, built in only two years – is as smooth as it gets and takes less than 15 minutes. On the right, work proceeds on the rail bridge, which will be ready next year.
The Crimea Bridge. Photo: Asia Times
I cross in the direction of Novorossiysk, then turn back from the Russian mainland. There’s a passport control and customs check, even though Crimea is now Russian territory. Cars and buses are carefully examined; a terror attack is always a concern. The guards are polite: “Welcome to Krym”. I say I was already in Krym. They smile.
Washington officially insists all Crimea-related sanctions will remain until Moscow returns the peninsula to Ukraine. This will never happen. For Moscow, Crimea is already back to where it belongs. After all, Nikita Khrushchev, a sentimental Ukrainian, had transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 in a fit of proletarian brotherhood, while blatantly violating the Constitution of the USSR.
Rising homelessness: The reality of life for America’s poor in the “greatest economy ever”
US neocons and assorted Russophobes insist that Washington should further weaponize Kiev’s land, sea and air forces to counter “Russian aggression”, but Crimeans treat this as a bad joke.
Everyone knows Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko needs a diversion from his dismal, corrupt government. Thus the illegal – according to the Minsk agreements – bombing of cities in Donbass and the recent Kerch “incident”.
Poroshenko is polling at a meager 8%. He used the Kerch incident to declare martial law. He wanted three months, but Kiev’s legislature gave him just one. He is bound to lose the next elections. Meanwhile, over two million Ukrainians have already voted with their feet and sought refuge in Russia. Poroshenko can’t afford to launch a full-scale war on Donbass with no weapons, funds and little support from the EU.
For four years, Poroshenko has used a propaganda tsunami to manipulate the Ukrainian far right, which always abhorred Russians, Poles and Jews, to direct their blind hate towards Russians, the country’s largest minority. But that was not enough to “solve” any of the myriad problems of a de facto failed state.
After Washington destroyed any possible detente with Moscow, President Putin’s position remains very clear, as expressed during the 15th anniversary of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi last October:
“Crimea is our land. We are still not going anywhere. Why is it our land? Not because we went there and took it… People came to a referendum in Crimea and voted for independence, first, and then for being part of Russia. Let me remind you for the hundredth time that there was no referendum in Kosovo, only the parliament voted for independence, that was all. Everyone who wanted to support and destroy the former Yugoslavia said: well, thank God, we are fine with that. Here, however, they disagree. Ok then, let’s have a discussion, go over the UN documents, see what the UN Charter is all about, and where it talks about the right of nations to self-determination. This will be an endless discussion. However, we proceed based on the will expressed by the people who live on that territory.”
Traveling from Simferopol to Kerch via Sevastopol, everyone I talked to confirmed they voted to re-join Russia, with no regrets.
For Russia-loving Crimeans, and Russians as a whole, Crimea back with the Motherland is a geopolitical, national security and national pride fait accompli. It also helps that Russia has done more for Crimea in four years than Ukraine did in six decades.
My first impression, arriving at the brand new Simferopol International Airport, with its elegant design featuring 146 waves, is that any mid-sized city across the West would kill for it.
Simferopol International Airport. Photo: Asia Times
Marina Borodina, very well educated at the University of Crimea, and a producer at Rossiya Segodnya, shows me around the capital, thriving in a real estate boom, including the area around the airport. Crimea is under sanctions, but businesses adapt. No Visa or Mastercard? Everyone uses the Mir payment system, or rubles. Smartphones with SIMs by Russian providers are only good for local calls. So, there is no 4G network and no international roaming.
There’s a road-building boom as well. The coastal road from Sevastopol to Kerch is being upgraded, but the jewel in the crown is the 240km-long east-to-west Taurida highway, to be completed next year, linking to the Crimea bridge.
Sevastopol – where Christianity, according to a complex mix of legend and fact, entered Russia – was built entirely by Russia along beautiful blue creeks always jammed with ships. It’s indelible in the Russian national psyche especially because of its spirited two-year defense during the Crimean war, as well as repelling the 10-month siege by the Nazis during World War II.
The delicious old-world Hotel Sevastopol still reigns supreme, complete with an attached French brasserie and faint echoes of 19th century Paris that influenced Tsarist times.
Military officers parading their families by the famous promenade embellished with Christmas decorations dismiss the potential for more confrontation in the Sea of Azov. It and the Black Sea are de facto “Russian lakes”.
When the Mongol Tatars of the Golden Horde first arrived in Crimea, they saw a tower and called it Kerim (“fort”), thus Crimea. Then the Tatars moved inland, to Bakhchisaray, where they built the gracious palace of the independent khanate in a green valley protected by stone hills. That was the apex of the Crimean Tatar khanate; Krym Tartary.
Bakhchisaray Palace. Photo: Asia Times
I had time to explore a virtually deserted Bakhchisaray when a bride and groom celebrating their Tatar marriage arrived to pose for the obligatory photos, escorted by a fleet of black Mercedes sporting the light blue Tatar flag with its yellow seal. They were well off and spoke of good business opportunities, saying there were no problems whatsoever with the Russian administration. There are roughly 300,000 Tatars in Crimea out of a population of 2 million.
Anna Naumenko at the Kerch museum. Photo: Asia Times
At the Kerch museum, a stone’s throw from Mithridates hill, I was privileged to engage with one of the caretakers, Anna Naumenko – also finely educated at the University of Crimea – on a thrilling historical ride. The museum has a small collection of precious Greek and Byzantine artifacts even though most of the archeological treasures are at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Crimea was the site of a groundbreaking historical encounter. Imagine Greek colonists, essentially urban, who had reached Crimea after navigating at least one month from the Bosphorus to southern Russia, finding themselves face to face with nomads from Central Asia who had crossed a sea of grass; the Scythians – an Indo-Iranian speaking confederation who were already deploying their nomadic skills around the Crimean steppes when the Greeks arrived in the 8th century BC.
Then came Sarmatians, Goths, Huns, Khazars – Turkic-speaking pastoral nomads from Central Asia, the Cuman (other Turkic-speaking nomads), Mongol-Tatars of the Golden Horde, before Byzantium, and the Ottoman empire. Crimean Tatars converted to Islam in the 14th century. The khanate went on until Catherine the Great conquered Crimea in 1783.
This shows how Crimea has always been an unparalleled crossroads intertwining “civilization” with what Athenian Greeks might describe as “barbarism”. The clashes forever permeate the Western self-perception of superiority in relation to an alleged inferior, usually nomad, Other.
The fabled Golden Horde – actually the western arm of the Tatar-Mongol empire – controlled the steppes north of the Black Sea as well as Crimea from the mid-13th Century until at least the mid-15th Century.
This is crucial because they were actually the first unifiers of Eurasia, assuring stability across the steppes from China to Hungary. And that led to trade connectivity; the Ancient Silk Roads, stretching from China all the way to the Black Sea, then sailing towards the Mediterranean. This is impregnated in the collective memory of all Eurasian peoples.
Byzantium was what Russian scholar Mikhail Rostovtzeff, in his fabulous book Iranians and Greeks in South Russia, described as a “very interesting” mixed civilization. So was the Black Sea, and Crimea.
The Ancient Silk Road brought silk, spices, porcelain, bronze and gold from China, Persia and India, while the Greeks exported wine, pottery, jewelry and ornaments first made in Greece and then in the Bosphorus kingdom in Kerch.
Peace in the steppes translated into free passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Mongol Tatars arrived in the Black Sea when the Byzantine empire was nearly dead. Behind the land armies of the Crusaders were the powerhouses of Venice and Genoa, eager to enhance trade connectivity with the markets of the Black Sea.
After the Crusaders had stormed Constantinople in 1204, they slipped through the Bosphorus to finally reach Crimea. For a while merchants in Tana, an important Venetian colony in the Sea of Azov, were able to monopolize through Venice virtually all the trade with China.
The Europeans could not help but see an opening. Sudak, in southeast Crimea, was a Greek, Byzantine and then Genoese colony. Yet as we know, this all ended when the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453 – and there was no more Byzantine empire around the Black Sea.
The Nazis had designs on Crimea. Two months before Germany invaded the USSR, it was decided that Crimea would be separated from Russia and handed to a puppet Ukraine; that was the Gotland project.
Most of the Nazi collaborators in Crimea during WWII were not Tatars. Still, under Stalin, the Tatars were the first ethnic minority to be entirely deported. When Soviet power was back in Crimea, those who remained were expelled en masse to Central Asia because of “treason to the Fatherland”. Now their sons and grandsons are coming back in droves.
When the USSR dissolved, the 19th-Century Tsarist Russian empire, plus Catherine the Great’s 18th century Novorossiya, across the northern shore of the Black Sea, also dissolved.
Crossing parts of the Crimean steppe, it’s easy to be reminded of Chekhov, who grew up in Taganrog on the Sea of Azov and loved the scent of herbs in the summer steppe.
It’s also fitting terrain to reflect on the collapse of empires. The Russian drive to reach the warm waters of the Mediterranean always clashed with the Turkish drive to hold on to the Ottoman conquests around the Black Sea. This history reverberated through the Crimean War in the 1850s and also through WWI, with Turkey allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary and Russia invading Anatolia. Yet even before WWI was over, both the Tsarist and Ottoman empires were gone.
Now Crimea is back to Russia, virtually for good, the union sealed by Krimsky Most. It is a sobering reality graphically visible from the ruins of Panticapaeum.
Dec 20, 2018
Applied mathematics/computer science student Etienne Jacob makes mesmerizing black-and-white animated GIFs using Processing, “a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts.” You can see much more of Jacob’s stunning work on his Necessary Disorder site and read Jacob’s tutorials here on his blog. Far fucking out.
President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. This is the right decision.
The U.S. military presence in Syria has not been authorized by Congress, is illegal under international law, lacks a coherent strategy, and carries significant risks.
President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. This is the right decision. The U.S. military presence in Syria has not been authorized by Congress, is illegal under international law, lacks a coherent strategy, and carries significant risks of entangling America in a broader quagmire in yet another Middle Eastern country.
As I wrote in Axios:
The Obama administration first deployed U.S. troops to Syria to complement its aerial bombing campaign against ISIS with special operations forces and coordinate with local anti-ISIS militias on the ground, gradually expanding from hundreds of troops to roughly 4,000.
The mission expanded, too, from merely defeating ISIS (substantially accomplished some time ago) to ushering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power, expelling Iranian forces, and edging out Russia.
…The bottom line: Absent achievable goals and a strong national security imperative backed up by congressional authorization, the U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate and better off wound down.
One prominent criticism of Trump’s decision is that it lacks a clear public explanation and evades the carefully planned and coordinated inter-agency process that enables such a withdrawal to be executed safely and responsibly. This is a fair criticism. Indeed, Trump seems not to have consulted the Defense Department, State Department, or really any of the national security principals in his administration before making this announcement.
I do worry about an administration that is too deferential to Trump’s every whim.
But the fault for evading process may lie more with the president’s hawkish advisors than with Trump himself. Trump has long expressed disapproval for the U.S. military presence in Syria, but his own officials—including National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the current Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey—either resisted or ignored the Commander-in-Chief’s clearly stated preferences on an ongoing military mission. That may have made the president feel he had no choice but to circumvent process and issue the order to withdraw on his own, via Twitter.
That said, I do worry about an administration that is too deferential to Trump’s every whim. I was heartened, for example, that cabinet officials spent months pushing back on Trump’s call to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Likewise with the president’s request for military options against North Korea, which the Pentagon reportedly slow-walked in the months before Trump shifted from maximum pressure to diplomatic negotiations with Kim Jong-un. And when Trump reportedly asked Mattis to assassinate Assad, it was probably a good thing that the Secretary of Defense chose not to take the suggestion seriously.
That withdrawal is the right decision does not mean Syria will flourish in peace and security. Several undesirable contingencies may occur in the aftermath of our exit. The Turks may engage in operations against the Kurds in Syria’s northeast. ISIS may make some gains here and there. But if these things materialize, they should not be cited as proof that withdrawal was unwise. That’s exactly the flawed argument hawks employed to criticize the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq. Sure, it left a vacuum in which ISIS emerged. But ISIS itself is a product of the US invasion of Iraq. And our presence in Syria could very well be creating comparable unintended consequences, instead of preventing them.
Anyone who favors a U.S. military presence in Syria should be calling for Congress to formally authorize it.
It can’t be America’s purpose to indefinitely forestall every plausible misfortune that may or may not bedevil this troubled region. In the near term, we can engage in diplomacy to try to curb Turkish plans to target the Kurds. And with regard to ISIS, it’s not at all clear that their permanent defeat depends on maintaining a U.S. ground presence in Syria. The extremist group is already decimated, and even without an indefinite U.S. presence, it is surrounded by enemies to whom we can pass the buck (should resurgence even occur, which is not a given).
Anyone who favors a U.S. military presence in Syria should be calling for Congress to formally authorize it. That process will require making a strong public case that deployment is required to preempt an immediate threat to U.S. security and that the mission has coherent, achievable goals that clearly define what victory looks like. Otherwise, our presence in Syria is illegitimate.
Dec 20, 2018
The New York Times, in early December 2018, ran a 5000-word article outlining how Russian propaganda, supported by independent media, has destroyed America’s understanding of what is real and true. This time I wasn’t cited personally as last year when Newsweek, the Washington Post, Politico and The Hill named me as a Russian agent.
Endless hours with Federal investigators began to recreate a sense of reality. They genuinely began to understand that they are the ones who have been the victims, fed a narrative of lies for years. It was heartening.
In particular, the times went after the downing of MH17, the Skripal poisoning, or whatever it was, various gas attacks, the alleged election rigging, blaming Russia for making it hard for them to get their version out and believed.
For my part, I rely on my experience not just as a journalist or diplomat but in over three decades in the intelligence community.
Let’s take MH17. I was personally involved in negotiations with the Malaysian government to set up a task force to independently investigate. The Dutch investigators were, according to Malaysia, predetermined to blame Russia. A team was assembled, including me and former FBI, a top DC law firm and others at VT but Malaysia was threatened by the US that if they began this effort, the United States would economically retaliate.
I have all the documents and correspondence, it’s not like this kind of thing doesn’t happen every day. We always ask, who benefits? The answer was easy, the extremists who had taken power in Ukraine and rogue members of military organizations with facilities in Azerbaijan and elsewhere. Intelligence had long since sited a conspiracy behind the downing of MH17 and the Malaysian government was the primary victim but had been extorted, threatened, cowed into backing down from seeking justice.
Let’s now look at al-Qaeda. It isn’t just an assertion that there is no such thing as al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden’s American handler is a close friend. I know the top Pakistani intelligence and military officials from the time and went over this with them as well including ISI Director General Hamid Gul, an editor at Veterans Today for nearly a decade.
It was always the same, the CIA formed al Qaeda and there never was a worldwide terror group that broke away and began targeting the United States. Take, for instance, al Qaeda in Yemen.
There were meetings, years ago, on how to justify more American involvement in the region. The decision was made to name some tribes in Yemen “al Qaeda,” tribes randomly picked. Then the GWOT (Global War on Terror) could pour funds into Yemen and aid Saudi interference in their affairs, something going on to this day.
As a side note, it was 18 months ago that Veterans Today asserted that the US was arming and fueling Saudi planes bombing civilians in Yemen. Only a few days ago, it was announced, finally, that the US had been doing it illegally with American funding “off the books.” Imagine, who deserves money less than Saudi Arabia, particularly in their efforts to murder civilians using their American weapons?
We can move on to the Syrian gas attacks. Russian media was accused of making up wild conspiracy theories to justify their aiding Syria in randomly gassing Syrian citizens, even in areas under government control, for no reason whatsoever other than “this is what Russians do.”
How do you fight logic like that particularly when it is presented with absolutely no evidence whatsoever?
This is the New York Times, but it is also the Trump administration. Do note that the Obama administration had never attacked the Damascus government.
We could move on to the Skripal “event.” It is easy to see why it would be in the American news. Imagine the most potent poison imaginable, VX gas, something the US and Israel had produced for years and still store away, according to our sources, in Romania, Georgia and Southern Libya.
However, when a former Russian “spy” named Skripal and his daughter became ill, and I suggest food poisoning or something similar, it had to be Russia and it had to be “Novachuk,” the Russian chemical agent made famous in Call of Duty video games.
Problem is, the Skripals survived and, in fact, there is no evidence they were ever ill in the first place. There are no records of medical care, nothing presented anywhere, no chemical analysis and the other “fact,” as it were, that VX kills in less than 3 seconds 100% of the time.
Both Skripals are alive and well.
Then there is the curious fact that dragging on this story took the Saudi/Trump involvement in the strangling and dismemberment of a Washington Post correspondent named Khashoggi out of the media. Even the CIA says Saudi Arabia did it and their intercepts say it was on the direct order of the Saudi crown prince, commonly known as MBS.
Then again, it is the Trump regime paying for fueling Saudi planes bombing Yemen and the Trump family with a recent $800 million contract in Saudi Arabia for projects that don’t seem to involve anything more than money going to Jared Kushner for doing nothing. Nothing is to be built or managed, only a contract for Saudi Arabia to pay the Trumps almost a billion dollars for unnamed services.
Is Trump being paid to gas up Saudi planes terrorizing Yemen?
What we have are accusations and assertions by a press organization, one of many that seem to act “on demand” to maintain a fake narrative.
The press never asks “why.” They don’t care. They report what they are told to report, make up sources, never complain about lack of proof and now cry like babies when nobody believes them.
For those who actually sit in the meetings, who looked at the documents, the radar tracking and interviewed witnesses on MH17 and other events, the press suffers a shameful lack of interest in reality.
For instance, only a few days ago it turned out that one district in North Carolina had actually counted votes prior to an election, not just early ballots but came up with totals prior to voting. That story was removed from the mainstream media only hours after it was reported.
It was Trump’s party that was involved but news organizations supposedly opposed to Trump covered it up, as they always do. Is the whole thing, the war on the press, all fake or mostly fake? It is certainly fake the only question is how fake?
Then again, there is this unpleasant reality. Those who govern, those who report, those who make war, those who profit, those who bleed the world dry on behalf of the mischief makers are people seldom burdened with issues of morality or values.
We say “seldom,” not “never.”
Each issue can be understood easy enough. There are facts, there are motives, there is evidence. None of these are ever referred to or discussed, only “belief” and “opinion.”
Belief and opinion are so very subject to manipulation and control and with that the debasement of humanity and the cycle of entropy, war, poverty, starvation and fear. In the end, one question lives above all others, who profits? It will never be asked.
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.”
Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. Giovanni Gentile (not Benito Mussolini)
With permission from
Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. Giovanni Gentile (not Benito Mussolini)
Most fascists would be insulted by the insinuation that they admire Google, Microsoft and Monsanto and are on the payroll of the NSA.
Corporatism means that the Congress can pass a law requiring you to do business with a company that has poor quality and even harmful products and services. Big Pharma and Monsanto come to mind.
Question: Which Fictional Detective Was The First To Solve a Murder Where Peanuts Were Used as a Lethal Weapon?
People seem to get used to the new normal. But try asking older people if they ever, as children, heard of anyone dying from peanut allergies? Sherlock Holmes never had such a case. One of the first I can find is an actor was killed on stage by peanut oil sprayed on an apple in a Monk episode which starred Tony Shaloub as the obsessive detective.
Wikipedia’s peanut allergy article fails to mention peanut oil in vaccines as a source of fatal peanut allergy reactions. Never happened or was extremely rare before vaccines.
Nor does Wikipedia tell you that the 49 vaccines required by California law to be taken by children before age 6 will do permanent damage to those too young to have developed a blood brain barrier.
What about the explosive growth in autoimmune diseases? Could the foreign DNA in MRC-5 be the cause of the tremendous increase in autoimmune diseases? MRC-5 is the polite way of saying aborted fetuses in the vaccines. Some militant pro-abortionists would love to compel men, women and children who oppose abortion on moral grounds to take vaccines containing aborted fetuses. But I would ask them if they really want everyone – Left, Right and Center- to develop autoimmune diseases from foreign DNA in vaccines? We could never afford the taxes needed to offer care to people who would be healthy if they had not been harmed by a vaccine.
The Corporatists Who Rule The West Do Intend US Great Harm.
3 million Americans starved to death in the 1930s because we were given a banking system that gave Bankers the right to charge us interest on money they created out of nothing. This creates massive amounts of Unpayable Debts. A Depression is a period in time when Unpayable Debts are cancelled en masse. Since we have more Unpayable Debts than in 1929, we are headed to a far worse financial future than any other generation in the past 500 years. This is according Dr Steve Keen.
Let’s look at some other unhealthy activities of the Corporatists or should I say Globalists.
Aspartame destroys neurotransmitters.
Aspartame destroys the brain’s two anti-oxidants that reduce aging and declining mental faculties.
Aspartame beaks down into wood alcohol which converts into formaldehyde.
Genetically Modified crops in lab tests turn the third generation of subjects into sterile, sickly runts.
Glyphosate which is in Round Up herbicide spray for GMO crops causes cancer. Google says it is not harmful to humans.
Water in America is unfit to drink. Tens of thousands of water districts have lead in their water which causes illness, brain damage and mental retardation. Tens of thousands of water districts put chlorine in the water which kills the friendly bacteria (probiotics)
in your intestines. Since they are 80% of your immune system, chlorine is definitely bad for your health.
The Communists used fluoride to help control and calm prisoners in the Gulags at a time when they were killing 60 million Gentiles. In the US in 1910 almost every drug store had an ad for a big fluoride pill. The advertisement said it would cure the most rebellious teenager. Did not say it did so by attacking the brain. The Communists accused the Nazis of using fluoride on their inmates. That did not happen. But Sigmund Freud’s nephew did convince the public to allow the government to put a toxic waste from the nuclear industry (fluoride) into their drinking water. The state of New Jersey uses two parts per million in the water for their criminally insane inmates.
Fluoride was first discovered to be poisonous to humans in 1893. It was found to destroy human enzymes. Your heart beats repeatedly because you have 2,000 enzymes enabling it to do so. Your body has over 5,000 named enzymes and many unnamed ones.
Chlorine reduces our immune response because it kills the beneficial microbes in our intestines.
Antibiotics are routinely given to sickly corporate raised cows and chickens to eliminate the cost of maintaining a clean working environment. This in addition to the chlorine in your water and the bromide in your bread kills the good bacteria in your intestines and opens you up to diseases so you can enter a hospital and become a victim of the Corporatist Big Pharma Death Care system.
A doctor warned the Congress of the dangers to the human body from electromagnetic radiation in 5G wireless. She talked about heart, kidney and brain damage. She was limited to 5 minutes. Your Corporatist Congress does not care about you.
When Dr Mark Skidmore discovered that $21 trillion in federal spending had gone missing from two departments (DOD and HUD) between 1998 and 2015, neither the Corporatist media nor Corporatist owned politicians thought this was important enough to talk to you about correcting the problem.
A Few Suggestions:
In the future we should never allow drug companies to test their products. Just give us the drugs. We will test Chemotherapy against Baking Soda or other unpatented remedies. Since chemo is worse than doing nothing, I don’t expect them to do well. If their drugs are less effective than a home remedy, then their cost should not be covered by insurance.
Lots of blood pressure medications would die on the shelf if they had to prove their efficacy and their safety.
We should get a state petition going somewhere that would forbid any vaccine that contains ingredients harmful to humans, such as, aluminum, mercury, MRC-5 and allergens like peanuts.
We are way beyond the point where where democracy and the free discourse of ideas are possible. We are in fact close to the point where the Dollar Dies. The Elite deliberately over populated America. Then they shipped jobs overseas. There would have been a rebellion 30 years ago but the Bankers created tens of trillions in paper money which in part paid the salaries and benefits of 31 million government workers, most of whom were never needed. And trillions of dollars were used to buy things from overseas for free because all the foreigners got was I Owe You Nothing Federal Reserve Notes. And many trillions were spent on military occupations, drone strikes and invasions which were unpopular on foreign shores.
When people overseas realize there is nothing they can do with their trillions in Federal Reserve Notes, they will dump them. One morning you will wake up to discover that your wages, pensions, benefits and savings have been permanently cut in half. The smarter ones in the Corporatist Elite know that day is coming. They are sort of hoping you will kill each other and not them. That is a major reason for flooding our countries with illegal aliens.
I have suggested in the past that junior officers in the US military stage a coup, arrest the Bankers, seize the money they stole from us and use those assets to fund Debt Cancellation. That would turn a ten year Depression into a 90 day recovery. I wrote about that here:
How And Why An American Military Coup Could Save The World
I have written before about the American Big Pharma Death Care system.
You Do Not Have Healthcare. You Suffer Under Disease Management Control.
The following is more typical of my writings:
Israel Killed JFK And Has Ruled America Ever Since.
Holy Holohoax. My Government Wouldn’t Lie To Me.
The US govt has spent millions of dollars drumming up support for the overthrow of Central America’s last progressive state: Nicaragua.
The intense focus on the “ills” of Nicaragua completely misses the deep issues of continued US intervention – imperial neocolonialism – into the sovereign lives of other countries, as here with Nicaragua. Whether you love or hate Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, their personalities and personal lives are not the issue, whatsoever.
For us Americans to be so closely scrutinizing clearly the most progressive government in Central America, ignoring the new US-friendly but unpopular president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada; the systematic violence in the streets of El Salvador which is directly related to the US funded death squad governments of the 1980s; the repressive and illegal President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez; and the repressive and corrupt government of Guatemala under President Jimmy Morales, is very interesting, and disturbing.
The elaborate, well-planned conspiracy behind the April-July 2018 US-orchestrated coup attempt against Nicaragua, included most of the church hierarchy, many wealthy ex-Somocistas, many NGOs including the European-funded CENIDH, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID, and a couple thousand young Nicaraguans trained over 4 years in the use of social media to blitzkrieg an agenda-loaded propaganda campaign when the right opportunity arose. It had been in the works since at least 2011 when Nicaraguan Felix Maradiaga teamed up with Colombian narco-trafficker Julio Cesar Paz Varela to develop a drug distribution network in Nicaragua, many of the proceeds of which were to be devoted to overthrowing the Sandinista government.
The facts are that the few NGOs (of over 4,000 NGOs in the country) who have recently been curtailed by the Nicaraguan government, is because of their support of various criminal activities designed to overthrow the government. Their accountability to the law was long overdue. The same goes for several TV stations (funded largely by NED), the internet news outlet Confidencial (funded by the NED), and La Prensa (funded by NED) which have openly supported opposition “terrorist” activities (yes, that is correct), something that would never be tolerated in the US or in virtually any country. Many of the hundreds participating in dozens of murders, arsons, destruction of buildings, tortures, and destruction of equipment (including over 50 ambulances), etc., committed by Opposition members, are fortunately now on trial or in jail. Over 200 fugitives remain in Costa Rica.
It is also ironical, that those people in the US who are so condemnatory of the Nicaraguan government, remain comfortably removed from the terror campaign, April-July, which was awful as I can attest as a resident, while I was forced to read and view, with rage and anger, the spew of scripted lies days after day on social media, and major media outlets, not based on any actual investigative reporting. Ironic, because the US is one of the most oligarchic, non-democratic countries on the planet, and its citizens possess no legal or moral authority to judge others. The US possesses the largest prison per capita population in the world, with 80,000 of prisoners in solitary confinement; it produces the most waste and pollution; it has military troops in 150 countries, and warplanes and ships everywhere; it is the wholesale terrorist force on the Planet; it has on average 3 citizens a day murdered by US police; it has a president who has been accused by over 15 women of sexual misconduct/assault, a president who lies multiple times each day; it is a country where student debt keeps graduates in a kind of servitude for life to the banks; it has thousands of homeless living in tents and abandoned cars in virtually every city; it is a country without accessible health care for millions of its citizens; etc. It has a political election process unreliable due to systematic voter suppression, gerrymandered Congressional districts every ten years, privatization of the voter counting process, while the process itself is literally owned by the millions and billions of dollars of the rich and mighty, headed by the military industrial complex that makes obscene profits on intervening everywhere.
So, Nicaragua is an easy center of focus. If anyone of us, or any other Central American government, was subjected to the intense efforts to destroy us, or any country, then one can predict the likely consequences. Neighboring Honduras has not yet recovered from the 2009 US-sanctioned coup of President Zelaya. The fear and the repression there is horrendous, but it seems that with those in the US, including in the government, nobody gives a shit? The NICA Act should be the HICA Act for Honduras instead of Nicaragua. But Honduras is a safe Cry Uncle government, despite the fact that the people live in constant fear.
And the idea of name calling people, as usual, is not helpful in the discussion. Catherine Cusic, who has called Camilo Mejia a liar, has called me several times as an idiot – then, in the past, and now. Not too constructive for healthy debate.
When will the issue of US imperialism be taken seriously, and a recognition that the US political economy is so destructive it is on a path to destroy the planet? And, yet, the most progressive country in Central America (where there really is NOT repression) – Nicaragua – with no friends in the Senate or House of Representatives, very little support in the solidarity community, and only supported by the ALBA countries of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia, is targeted for destruction. Lies, lies, more lies. Disgusting beyond disgusting. The truth as I have documented is virtually the exact opposite of what most social media and major media organs spew as if reading from a script. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, is famous for saying that a lie told enough times becomes the truth. Goebbels principle has come once again to haunt Nicaragua. And the US govt. has spent millions of dollars through NED, US AID, NGOs, etc., at least since 2014, getting ready for the overthrow of a progressive government, primarily because it IS progressive compared to the other Central American governments. It is not a Cry Uncle government. And despite the lies, the Sandinista government remains popular with a majority of the people, similar to Assad in Syria despite intense western media propaganda against him.
So, Libya, The Ivory Coast, Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia, and on and on, are touted as enemies, subject to the “exceptional” US to seek their overthrow to “correct” matters, if they haven’t already succeeded. It is interesting that Trump’s fanatical security adviser, John Bolton, has identified the Troika of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua (and soon Bolivia) to be targeted as threats to the national security of the US. So preposterous yet it is official US policy.
Astonishing, absurd, and criminal. So continue, folks, focusing on the issues you have with Ortega-Murillo, while the US continues on an uncontrolled imperial savagery. Meanwhile, feel smug with your support of “humanitarian intervention” by the most dangerous country on Earth.
Top Photo | Government supporters wave Sandinista flags on top of the Metro Center roundabout during a pro-government march in Managua, Nicaragua, Sept. 26, 2018. Alfredo Zuniga | AP
S. Brian Willson served in the US Air Force from 1966 to 1970, including several months as a combat security officer in Vietnam. He left the Air Force as a Captain. He subsequently became a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace (Humboldt Bay Chapter 56, California, later Portland, OR Chapter 72, and the UK Chapter in England). Upon completion of Law School at American University in Washington, D.C., he became a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Willson has had a variety of jobs including penal consultant, prisoner rights advocate, dairy farmer, legislative aide, town tax assessor and building inspector, veteran’s advocate, and small businessman.
Read more of S. Brian Willson work on his personal blog.
AUSTIN, TEXAS — A Texas speech pathologist has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas after she was reportedly fired for refusing to sign an oath that she would not boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
A U.S. citizen born in Austria and of Palestinian descent, Bahia Amawi is a speech specialist in western Texas who works with autistic and developmentally disabled people. The educator charges that the district refused to renew her contract in August after she declined to sign paperwork pledging that she “does not” and “will not” participate in any kind of boycott or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” against the Israeli state.
Speaking to Democracy Now!, Amawi explained her firsthand struggle with oppression and the reasoning behind her refusal to sign the oath:
I sent an email immediately, and I stopped even reading the additional codes [referring to the additional paperwork she was asked to sign in regards to Israel]. And I sent the email to my speech coordinator telling her, ‘Listen, I cannot sign this. This is against my principles, against my constitutional rights. And it’s also against my moral and ethical values, considering that I am a Palestinian American and I have family that actually live in the Occupied Territories, so it affects me personally, as well.’ So, it affects me in both ways — as an American citizen and as a Palestinian American, too.”
A lawsuit was filed in federal court on Amawi’s behalf this week alleging that the district’s refusal to renew her contract is a direct violation of her First Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen. Amawi, who worked for the Pflugerville Independent School District as a contractor for nearly 10 years, says her renewal contract contained a special document in August asking her to take an oath that she would not boycott or inflict economic harm against Israel in any fashion.
This may constitute the first direct challenge to new legislation aimed at curbing support for the growing Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States, which ultimately aims to end apartheid in Palestinian and Israeli territories.
Texas became the 20th state of what are now 26 to pass anti-BDS legislation that infringes upon free speech by banning U.S. citizens from participating in boycotts against the Israeli apartheid state in various ways, such as refusing to renew a teacher’s contract. Thirteen additional states have similar legislation pending.
The language in the oath Amawi was asked to sign would prohibit her from refusing to purchase goods from both Israel and the occupied West Bank. Furthermore, it could even ban her from expressing support for boycotts against Israel, if her speech or actions are construed to inflict financial harm on the apartheid state. Amawi explained:
The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people. Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”
Amawi refused to sign the oath because her family does not purchase goods made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank nor in the occupying entity of Israel itself. Amawi was the only Arabic-speaking speech specialist of her kind in the district, which boasts a growing Arab population.
Israel continues to construct illegal settlements in the West Bank and Palestinian territory despite international legislation barring it from doing so. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying entity to transfer its people into the occupied territory.
Furthermore, Israel has recently carried out a brutal repression against unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip, protests that have taken place every Friday since March after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Washington would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. Since the protests began, 204 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces and more than 18,000 have sustained injuries.
Dubbed the Great Return March, Palestinians seek to return to their homeland in accordance with UN Resolution 194, which states that refugees have the right to return to their homes at the earliest practical date.
Watch | Democracy Now! meets the Texas Speech Pathologist Who Lost School Job for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS Oath
Top Photo | Bahia Amawi, a former contractor in the Pflugerville Independent School District, is suing over a state law that says government contractors can’t boycott Israel. Bob Daemmrich | The Texas Tribune
Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.
With permission from
December 18, 2018
At an international media conference last December 12 in Caracas Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro referred emphatically to knowledge, that his government had acquired through its intelligence services, of preparations to destabilize Venezuela.
That in itself is major news but it is noticeable that his denunciation only two days after the well-publicized landing of Russian military aircrafts at Venezuela’s international Simon Bolivar airport of Maiquetía as part of Russia-Venezuela joint military exercises and training. This is not the first occurrence of military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela but this seems to be the first time such news has had enough impact on Washington to prompt a strong and undiplomatic reaction from the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who referred to the two countries as “two corrupt governments squandering public fund” in a tweet.
Is Russia putting a major gaping hole into “America’s backyard” with the help of Venezuela? It appears to be so, and certainly Venezuela is quite a wide door in geopolitical terms capable of countering the political reversals of some countries in the region surrendering to neoliberal ideology.
Russia’s display of support for Venezuela is not totally surprising for two reasons. First, the U.S. government has had a very aggressive policy against Russia by pushing the NATO military coalition to the doorsteps of Russia’s front yard despite the “iron clad guarantee” given by the U.S. administration in February 1990 to the then Soviet president Gorbachev that “NATO will not expand one inch.” The aggression continues today with the possibility of including Ukraine and Belarus in the NATO military alliance. Moscow indicates that it has the willingness and the capability to match Washington’s military threat in its own turf.
Second, in addition to military threats to both countries, the Trump administration has slapped sanctions against Russia and Venezuela, which also brings them closer as victims of economic warfare. The military threats against Venezuela are much more menacing therefore a balancing assistance from a more powerful friend is welcome.
But the timing of the assistance is also important to consider. Maduro will be sworn in as president of Venezuela for the next six years on January 10 following his re-election last May 20. This is a widely anticipated event not least because there have been “rumors” of major disruptions being organized in order to prevent it from happening. Russia is sending a clear signal that it fully endorses and supports the next Maduro presidency.
However, the official position is that these are not just rumors and the disruptions may include violent and terrorist tactics. To that effect president Maduro stated at the media conference: “Today I come again to denounce the plot that from the White House is being prepared to violate Venezuelan democracy, to assassinate me and to impose a dictatorial government in Venezuela.” Then he added more pointedly, “Mr. John Bolton has been appointed again, as head of the plot to turn Venezuela to violence and to seek a foreign military intervention, a coup, to assassinate President Maduro and impose what they call a ‘transitional government council’. I’m saying this to you to unveil their plans. ”
John Bolton is the National Security Advisor of the United States with the reputation of coining the term “troika of tyranny” in reference to the democratically elected, progressive governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Maduro’s statements are perfectly credible mainly based on specific details he provided. He revealed that a paramilitary group, called the G-8, is being trained in the municipality of Tona, in North Santander, Colombia. The group of 734 mercenaries, including Colombians and Venezuelans, are being prepared to undertake false flag actions.
Another group of mercenaries is being trained to attack Venezuela at the U.S. military case of Tolemaida in Colombia, one of the 7 bases that the U.S. maintains in that country.
Maduro also revealed that yet another commando group is located at the Eglin base of the U.S. Air Force in Florida. This “group of special forces is being trained for a surgical aggression against Venezuelan air and military bases. Its objective is to disembark, take and neutralize the Libertador air base at Palo Negro, the Puerto Cabello naval base and the Barcelona air base.”
For the historical record on these facts, Maduro’s statements and revelations were followed up with a formal diplomatic note of protest delivered by Venezuelan Minister of foreign affairs Jorge Arreaza to the U.S. chargé d’affaires, James Story in Caracas.
The deployment of the Russian warplanes in Venezuela – just one week after President Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Moscow – consists of two TU-160 long-range bombers with nuclear capability, an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane of the Russian aerospace forces. These are technologically advanced aircrafts whose force is still modest when compared to the 22 U.S. military bases in Latin America and the more that 800 in the world. However, the message that the action sends must be seen as a strong deterrent to any military intervention in Venezuela especially coming from Colombia.
Venezuela Minister of defense, Vladimir Padrino explained, “We must tell the people of Venezuela and the entire world that … we are also preparing to defend Venezuela to the last extent when necessary.”
It has been about 115 years since the practice of the Monroe doctrine established the U.S. unilateral right to dominance in the countries of Latin America. The first time that the attribution was unsuccessfully challenged was in 1962 during the so-called Cuban missile crisis when the Soviet Union attempted to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba. The recent deployment of Russian military aircrafts in Venezuela may not be as spectacular but it is certainly of considerable importance for the reasons and the timing mentioned above.
The U.S. response must be more measured today because Washington does not have the full political hegemony in Latin America that it had in the 1960s therefore Venezuela retains a tactical advantage. At present the so-called “America’s backyard” may not appear to be as inviolable providing a new opening to the Bolivarian vision of the Patria Grande (Great homeland).
U.S. sanctions and military threats have certainly been contributing factors to the strategic alliance between Russia and Venezuela. Another possible member of this alliance of resistance is Iran, also subject to U.S. sanctions and threats. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced that will soon send warships to Venezuela as a sign of strategic partnership.
What makes Russia’s presence in the region not only relevant but also valuable is its outstanding record in the combination of defense diplomacy and balancing role successfully used in the Middle East to allow Syria to defeat terrorism, to a great extent, while simultaneously deterring the U.S. from militarily achieving a regime change against the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad.
Russia practices a remarkable two-prong approach in its foreign policy that combines a responsible non-hegemonic military strength with careful maintenance of balance of forces in particularly conflictive areas. This is precisely what is needed in Latin America in order to preserve peace, as opposed to the divide-and-rule approach used by U.S. foreign policy.
More broadly, Russia and Venezuela share a common view of a multipolar world cooperating in social, military and economic areas of interest that replaces the hegemonic unipolar strangling financial world dominated by the U.S.
Finally, the U.S. response to the deployment of Russian aircrafts is not yet clear. Past track record may suggest a diplomatic reaction like a formal denunciations at the UN or through the OAS, or the use of any warfare tools ranging from more sanctions to infowar, to hybrid war including false flag actions as announced by Maduro. But any U.S. supported attempt to prevent the swearing in ceremony on January 10, or any subsequent attempts to destabilize Venezuela will have grave consequences in human lives to which the perpetrators will have to respond towards the international community.
Nevertheless, Venezuela is not letting its guards down and is quite aware that Russia is not there to put troops on the ground but only to provide assistance and training to the Venezuelan military to modernize its weapons systems.
Should there be a military intervention or hybrid war in Venezuela, Maduro has already given the basic instructions: “I order all our National Bolivarian Armed Forces, to be alert and maintain maximum deployment, discipline, leadership and preparation, in order to defeat imperial conspiracies and maintain peace. Venezuela counts on you!” And progressive Latin America counts on Venezuela in turn.
How does the West get away with its pretense of being an alliance of great democracies in which government is the servant of the people?
Nowhere in the West, except possibly Hungary and Austria, does government serve the people.
Who do the Western governments serve? Washington serves Israel, the military/security complex, Wall Street, the big banks, and the fossil fuel corporations.
The entirety of the rest of the West serves Washington.
Nowhere in the West do the people count. The American working class, betrayed by the Democrats who sent their jobs to Asia, elected Donald Trump and the American people were promptly dismissed by the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as “the Trump deplorables.”
The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve power, not the people.
In Europe we see the squashing of democracy everywhere.
British prime minister May has turned Brexit into subservience to the EU. She has betrayed the British people and has not yet been hung off of a lamp post, which shows how acceptance the British people are of betrayal. The British people have learned that they do not count. They are as a nothing.
The Greeks voted for a left wing government that promised to protect them from the EU, IMF, and big banks, but promptly sold them out with austerity agreements that destroyed what remained of Greek sovereignty and Greek living standards. Today the EU has reduced Greece to a Third World country.
The French have been in the streets in revolt for weeks against the French president who serves everyone except the French people.
There are currently massive protests in Brussels, Belgium, with half the government also resigning in protest against the government signing a pact that will replace the Belgian people with migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The corrupt and despicable governments who signed this pact represent foreigners and George Soros’ money, not their own citizens.
Why are citizens so powerless that their governments can elevate the interest of foreigners far above the interests of citizens?
There are a number of reasons. The main one is that the people are disarmed and are propagandized to accept violence from the state against them, but not to deliver violence in return against the governments’ illegal use of force against citizens.
In short, until the conquered peoples of Europe kill the police, who serve the ruling elite and delight in inflicting brutality against those whose taxes pay their salaries, take the weapons from the police, and kill the corrupt politicians who have sold them out, the peoples of Europe will remain a conquered and oppressed peoples.
Some time past Chris Hedges, one of the remaining real journalists, made it clear that without violent revolution to excise the tumor of government superiority over the people, freedom throughout the West is dead as a door-nail.
The question before us is whether the Western peoples are too brainwashed, too firmly locked in The Matrix, too exhausted to stand up and defend their freedom. Resistance is happening in France and Belgium, but the government that sold out Greece hasn’t been hung off of lamp posts. Americans are so brainwashed that they think Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela are their enemies when it is perfectly clear that their Enemy is “their” government in Washington.
Except for my American readers, Americans are locked in The Matrix. And they will kill in order to stay in The Matrix, where the controlled explanations are reassuring. Anyone who looks to Washington for leadership is an idiot.
Washington is a master of propaganda. Washington’s propaganda has even infected the Russian government, which from all reports stupidly believes that accommodation to Washington is the secret that will make Russia successful.
A government this stupid has no chance of survival.
Will robots soon be replacing humans across broad swaths of the labour market? Judging by headlines touting driverless cars, machine learning and the rapidly growing digital economy, one is tempted to answer: “Yes.”
No one can doubt the sweeping effects of new technologies. Historically, tens of millions of jobs have been eliminated by successive waves of technology-enabled innovation in industries ranging from agriculture, transportation and manufacturing, to electricity and information and telecommunications services.
A similar process is underway today, fuelled by advances in artificial intelligence, data science, and digital tools and platforms.
In past periods of widespread disruption, new jobs have been created in other occupations and industries to offset those lost due to the labour-displacing effects of new technologies. Will that happen this time?
There are mixed views.
Some researchers have produced jaw-dropping estimates of the number of jobs set to be destroyed by the relentless march of AI. Kai-Fu Lee, the former head of research for Google’s Asian operations, predicts that 40 to 50 per cent of U.S. jobs will be capable of being automated by 2035. Entrepreneur Elon Musk goes even further. He recently opined that with AI, humanity has “summoned a demon,” with smart machines ranking as “the biggest existential threat” to our species.
Other analysts paint a less frightful picture, in which AI alters many jobs and replaces some, but also stimulates new labour demand and fosters different forms of work. In this more optimistic scenario, automation doesn’t lead to mass unemployment.
My Business Council of B.C. colleague David Williams recently developed projections of the possible impact of automation on the labour market here in British Columbia. (David’s paper is available at bcbc.com.)
He finds that, from a purely technical or engineering standpoint, about 40 per cent of current B.C. jobs are in occupations with a “high potential” for automation in the next 20 years. Most of these fall into three broad categories: sales and service occupations; business, finance and office administration occupations; and trades, transport and equipment operators.
About 37 per cent of B.C. jobs are in occupations judged to have a “low probability” of being automated. The remaining 21 per cent of jobs fall somewhere in-between.
AI and related technologies are increasingly capable of performing routine, repetitive and rules-based tasks that feature prominently in many of the occupations most vulnerable to disruption. Some examples are retail salespersons, cashiers, food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, truck drivers, warehouse workers and general office support workers.
Finian CUNNINGHAM: Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.
You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.
Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.
The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.
Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.
The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.
To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.
Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.
In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.
It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.
Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?
The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.
When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.
Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.
What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.
But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.
This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.
Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.
And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.
With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.
During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.
Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.
Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.
The anti-terrorism unit suited up.
This was an international affair… a deal between the USA and New Zealand, two members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
Helicopters, tactical suits, high caliber firearms—the whole shebang. They busted in the doors and successfully raided the multi-million-dollar compound.
What was this… capturing the next in line after Bin Laden? Busting an international human trafficking ring?
Actually, elite New Zealand law enforcement was acting at the request of the United States to arrest a guy named Kim Dotcom.
Kim Dotcom is a large, jovial man of German-Swedish origins. He founded Megaupload, an online platform that allowed us to basically watch movies online for free.
Unfortunately for Kim, a lot of that content included American movies, with American copyrights.
US artists didn’t get their money, which meant the US government didn’t get its tax dollars.
But Kim Dotcom was a German citizen hanging out in New Zealand. So tough luck for the USA, right?
Wrong. US jurisdiction extends globally… and the government is getting its pound of flesh.
Violate US copyright laws, and get your door kicked in by a SWAT team, even half a world away.
Then there was the Australian, living in London who shared leaked, classified and sensitive documents with the public.
I’m talking about the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.
He walked into the Ecuadorian embassy in London six years ago, asking for asylum.
There was a Swedish warrant out for his arrest, alleging rape charges. He faced extradition to Sweden, and feared he would then be turned over to US authorities… who wanted Assange taken down for exposing the extent of the spying the US government was carrying out on its own citizens.
For years it was suspected that there was a sealed US indictment against Assange. Last month, the proof emerged when the US accidentally revealed the filing, but not the specific charges.
So, we’ve got a Aussie journalist who might get arrested in the UK (which has an extradition agreement with the US) for a crime allegedly committed in Sweden… all because the US government has a hard on for this guy.
But this journalist made the mistake of providing the world with the valuable insight that the authoritarian US government was surveilling its own citizens.
And, again, the US wants its pound of flesh.
Just recently, the US has once again flexed its global might to throw someone in jail.
As you’re likely aware, Trump is in the middle of some tense trade war negotiations with China.
Interesting timing that the Chief Financial Officer of the Chinese tech company Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was just arrested at the request of US authorities. The company allegedly violated US sanctions against Iran by selling technology to the country.
But here’s the thing… Wanzhou wasn’t on American soil. She was arrested in Canada. The Canadian government is bringing the US case against Wanzhou, who could be extradited to the US to face charges.
So a Chinese citizen, working for a Chinese company, complying with Chinese law, was arrested on Canadian soil… because she allegedly violated US law. (She was recently released on bail – after a 3-day bail hearing, and two weeks in jail.)
We know these webs of where the “guilty” are from, where they were living, where they were arrested and on whose behalf is all confusing.
US Prosecutors disclosed in a late Friday court filing that they are concerned for the safety of Maria Butina, the…
The point is, if you challenge the US government, prepare for your new accommodations in a 6 by 8 foot cage.
It’s crazy. You know I actually had pork the other night, yet somehow Saudi Arabia hasn’t arrested me for violating its laws against non “halal” food.
The US going after Dotcom and Assange is bad enough. But truth be told, these guys poked the bear.
Assange published sensitive, American documents which authorities claim has threatened national security.
Dotcom made the American government lose out on tax dollars.
I still don’t think it’s right to apply American law worldwide… but what do you expect America to do? It’s not surprising.
But the USA’s latest move should disgust anyone with even a distant memory of what freedom was.
If Huawei did business with Iran, this has nothing to do with the United States. It’s not illegal according to Chinese or Canadian law to do business with Iran. That’s a US law.
If the US wants to escalate trade wars or impose more tariffs to punish the company… fine, whatever.
But to bring criminal charges against company leadership just for doing their job is a terrifying development, even for the brazen US world police.
The USA is the self-declared dictator of the planet. Forget sovereign nations, US law applies worldwide.
And they will kidnap and extradite you from New Zealand, London, Canada, or wherever else they can get their hands on you.
If they want you, they will get you.
And to continue learning how to ensure you thrive no matter what happens next in the world, I encourage you to download our free Perfect Plan B Guide.
Names marked with an asterisk* in this piece have been changed to protect the interviewees’ anonymity.
Glasgow, Scotland – Sitting under the railway bridge at Glasgow Central Station, Alison* watches the world go by as an ice-cold December night grips Scotland‘s largest city.
Her eyes are sunken, her blonde hair matted, and her hands are calloused and caked with grime. As emphysema slowly takes its toll, her body is failing.
At just 36, Alison* has been a rough sleeper – on and off – for more than 20 years. Homeless, roofless and almost forgotten, she exists only on the fringes of society.
“When I wake up in the morning, I need 20 fags [cigarettes] and a bottle of vodka just to get myself up and running,” she said as distant shouts and the noise of traffic filled the air. “Then I sit for the rest of the day, and then I try and get my head down – and then I do it all over again. It’s like groundhog day.”
Earlier this month, some 10,000 people staged the “world’s biggest sleep-out” in the Scottish cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee to aid and raise awareness of homelessness, which includes rough sleeping. In 2017-18, 2,682 individuals reported as having slept rough in Scotland at least once in the three months before registering as homeless. The true figure, say campaigners, is likely to be higher.
It’s not nice when you have your period as some places don’t let you in to use the toilet.
Sally, homeless woman and sexual abuse survivor
Across the world, women rough sleepers face unique challenges living on the streets, and Scotland is no different. But many Scots are unaware of this dark underbelly of female existence where stories of sexual exploitation abound.
Natalie Lee, a support worker for homeless charity Simon Community Scotland, said at 43, women have a lower life expectancy than men on the streets.
“Women on the streets face more complex challenges – women are typically financially and sexually exploited by their male counterparts,” she told Al Jazeera.
“They usually are able to fund their lifestyles by begging or prostitution, and this leaves them vulnerable to further violence and at risk of harm. They also face huge challenges in relation to their sanitary needs.”
|Roughly 30 percent of rough sleepers in Glasgow are women [Alasdair Soussi/Al Jazeera]|
Alison, who is qualified as a hairdresser, told Al Jazeera that her hectic lifestyle, which has seen her sleep rough in towns and cities across Scotland and England, left her exposed to a sexual assault one night while she was staying at a Glasgow hostel for the homeless.
“I was in a hostel two years ago. Me and my man were lying in bed sleeping, and I got raped in my own bed next to my man,” she said.
Around the corner from Alison sits Barbara, who, propped up against a rubbish bin, is trying to keep warm as she tightly grips a hot coffee.
She has been living on the streets for nine months after domestic violence saw her lose her accommodation.
She whiles away the hours reading abandoned newspapers until tiredness forces her to find a safe place to bed down for the night.
The 40-year-old mother-of-two said she is regularly approached and harassed by random men.
“I used to sleep in a doorway and I was chased round and round by a man once, and I got in and used some plywood, which I pulled across,” explained the former drug addict. “I could hear him raking about the bins. I never shook so much in my life. If he found me, I don’t think I’d be here today.”
|Leanne has been sleeping rough for seven weeks and already faced sexual harassment [Alasdair Soussi/Al Jazeera]|
Charity worker Lee said women made up roughly 30 percent of rough sleepers in Glasgow.
“Historically, women [at risk of rough sleeping] will use creative ways as a means of avoiding sleeping on the street,” she said.
“Women often choose to live in a chaotic environment, namely an unsavoury character’s flat, as a means of self-preservation,” she continued. “Women are very street-wise using their mental strength to show little weakness to their male counterparts.”
Sally*, a drug addict, said she was raped after accepting an invitation from a man to go back to his flat.
“He offered me to have a bath at his place,” said the 30-year-old, sat at a shopping precinct as her eyes glazed over from a recent heroin hit. “But he wanted more than that – he forced me to do all sorts.”
In November, the Scottish government published its Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan. The plan, seen by many charities as “a world leader” in the drive to end homelessness in Scotland, has prioritised preventing homelessness.
The nation’s determination to ambitiously tackle health and social inequalities has proven form: earlier this year, government policy saw Scotland become the first country in the world to both implement minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol and announce the provision of free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities from the start of the 2018/19 academic term.
Indeed, sanitary issues have proven to be another area of concern for many women rough sleepers.
Sally, who has slept rough for five years, said she is often troubled by her period, despite being able to access free sanitary towels from charities.
“It’s not nice when you have your period as some places don’t let you in to use the toilet,” she said. “So, you need to go up the lane for a pee – and it’s not nice when you have to wipe yourself, and when you have cramps, you can’t get comfortable.”
|These items, which belong to Sally*, include a sleeping bag, blankets, a sandwich she has been given and a packet of instant noodles [Alasdair Soussi/Al Jazeera]|
Leanne sits under the railway bridge at Glasgow Central Station. She has been bedding down on Glasgow concrete for seven weeks, in between “sofa-surfing” at friends.
She told Al Jazeera that she turned to the streets after escaping a violent 13-year relationship.
She is often offered money for sex, which she rejects, and is regularly “pestered” by male passers-by.
“I’ve got 94 missed calls,” said the 32-year-old, holding up her mobile phone. “I gave my number to a guy because I thought he was a nice guy, but I’m going to have to change my number now; he’ll appear down here anyway so that’s probably not going to do it.”
Alison*, the 36-year-old with more than 20 years’ experience of street sleeping, said sexual abuse had been the mainstay of her life since she was a girl. The abuse saw her enter social care as a child.
“It started as a child – and nothing’s really changed, to be honest,” she said. “I’ve always been seen as an object.”
Follow Alasdair Soussi on Twitter: @AlasdairSoussi
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News