What would history look like if it were written in the style of the Israeli ‘Protective Edge’ operation in Gaza, asks URI AVNERY
WINSTON CHURCHILL was a scoundrel. For five years he kept the population of London under the unceasing fire of the German Luftwaffe.
He used the inhabitants of London as a human shield in his crazy war. While the civilian population was exposed to the bombs and rockets without the protection of an “iron dome,” he was hiding in his bunker under 10 Downing Street.
He exploited all the inhabitants of London as hostages. When the German leaders made a generous peace proposal, he rejected it for crazy ideological reasons. Thus he condemned his people to unimaginable suffering.
From time to time he emerged from his underground hideout to have his picture taken in front of the ruins and then he returned to the safety of his rat hole. But to the people of London he said: “Future generations will say that this was your finest hour!”
The Luftwaffe had no alternative but to go on bombing the city. Its commanders announced that they were hitting only military targets, such as the homes of British soldiers, where military consultations were taking place.
The Luftwaffe called on the inhabitants of London to leave the city and many children were indeed evacuated. But most Londoners heeded the call of Churchill to remain, thus condemning themselves to the fate of “collateral damage.”
The hopes of the German high command that the destruction of their homes and the killing of their families would induce the people of London to rise up and kick out Churchill and his warmongering gang came to naught.
The primitive Londoners, whose hatred of the Germans overcame their logic, perversely followed the coward Churchill’s instructions. Their admiration for him grew from day to day and by the end of the war he had become almost a god.
Four years later the wheel had turned. The British and US air forces bombed the German cities and destroyed them completely.
“Uninvolved civilians” were blown to smithereens, burned to death or just disappeared. Dresden, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, was totally destroyed within a few hours in a “fire storm.”
The official aim was to destroy the German war industry, but this was not achieved. The real aim was to terrorise the civilian population in order to induce them to remove their leaders and capitulate.
Corporations also enjoy lower tax rates than people do. (Except for the people who make a gain from the shares: they get a special, even lower tax rate called “capital gains.” Why is this? The capital gains tax rate is lower because the wealthiest make most of their income from capital gains, and the wealthiest make most of their income from capital gains because the capital gains tax rate is lower.)
And of course, corporate “persons” never have to die.
In return, we the people of the United States ask corporations to pitch in to help pay for the roads and courts and schools and scientific research and government contracts and the rest of the things that have helped make them the prosperous entities they are. But a number of American corporations are so fed up with the idea that should pay their taxes that they are actually renouncing their U.S. citizenship. These corporations are “leaving” the U.S. to dodge taxes — but their executives, employees, offices, stores, customers etc. are still here. The only thing that is really leaving the country is the requirement to pay U.S. taxes.
These corporations are able to “leave” the U.S. by engaging in something called inversion. Explaining an inversion is a bit complicated. A U.S. company buys or merges with a non-U.S. company, and the result is that the U.S. company can be considered to be a company from the other country. But at the same time the company keeps most of its operations, etc. inside the U.S. The result is that it might still owe taxes on income reported as made in the U.S., but it owes no taxes on income elsewhere.=
Rampant Speculation … Few Facts
U.S. officials said earlier today that Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was probably shot down by mistake … and there was no proof that Russia was directly involved.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.
In other words – despite the incessant beat of the war drums and false claims – the U.S. has little evidence that Russia is responsible.
Israeli propaganda has hit a new low. While the world was still trying to come to terms with the mass deaths in Shuja’iyeh, Benjamin Netanyahu went on CNN to state that Hamas uses the “telegenically dead” to further “their cause.” He added that for Hamas: “The more the dead, the better.” Even while Netanyahu followed the propaganda script, which is to first show sympathy and express remorse, by reducing dead Palestinians to a photo-op he showed how his own mind works.
There is a standard script for how to deal with Palestinian casualties. After Israel killed four boys on the Gaza beach on July 16th, the US establishment media fell in line behind Israel’s PR framework: acknowledge the tragedy but blame Hamas. This is exactly what Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev said onChannel 4 News when grilled by the anchor Jon Snow. It is also how the US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki responded using the same word-for-word talking points.
This framework, developed in 2009, can be found in The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary. The Orwellian manual provides a detailed outline on how to “communicate effectively in support of Israel.”
One of its first instructions is that pro-Israeli propagandists need to show empathy. The manual insists that they should “show empathy for BOTH sides” (caps in original) as a way of gaining credibility and trust. To make sure that the point is understood, the manual repeats again (in bold and underlined this time) the instruction “use Empathy”—the suggestion being that empathy is an important tool to be used in the propaganda war.
THE government belatedly announced a public inquiry yesterday into the murky events surrounding the death of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko over seven years ago.
Mr Litvinenko died in November 2006 in a London hospital after he was poisoned with with radioactive polonium as he took tea with two Russian men.
His family allege that he was working for MI6 at the time and was killed on the orders of Russian intelligence chiefs.
The agent’s widow Marina Litvinenko has been battling to reverse the British government’s earlier stubborn refusal to hold a public inquiry.
MI6 chiefs put pressure on the government to maintain a veil of secrecy around the spy’s relationship with British spooks.
The inquiry will be chaired by senior judge Robert Owen, who was the coroner overseeing Mr Litvinenko’s inquest last year.
Last July 12, Jewish Defense League (JDL) militants provoked some participants in a Paris protest demonstration against the Israeli attack on Gaza into violent clashes in front of a synagogue in the rue de la Roquette. The JDL militants were protected by police, whereas several pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested. The incident was loudly denounced by influential pro-Israel Jewish leaders as an act of French anti-Semitism.
It was no accident that this incident was falsely attributed to anti-Semitism.
It was no accident that Jeffrey Goldberg characterized the violence as “Jews Trapped by Rioters in Paris Synagogue” and questioned whether or not the incident was a cause for migration.
It was no accident that Avi Mayer of the Jewish Agency of Israel described the incident as an “anti-Semitic riot, which masqueraded as an anti-Israel rally.”
It was no accident that Yair Rosenberg, a writer for Tablet Magazine and employee of the Israeli State Archives, posted a video describing the incident as “European anti-Semitic attacks spiking during Israel’s operation”.
It was no accident because this incident was deliberately organized in order to brand a protest against attacks on Gaza as evidence of rampant “anti-Semitism” in France.
Above all, it was no accident because it fits perfectly into an official campaign of the Israeli government to lure French Jews to leave France for Israel.
This is the story of Jesse Snodgrass, a kid with Aspergers Syndrome who was entrapped by an undercover cop posing as a student at Jesse’s high school. This is the story of how the war on drugs preys on the most vulnerable.
“In other words [the government is] assisting in the downfall of America..”
By leaving strategic areas along the southern U.S. border unprotected, and by using children as the face of the illegal immigrant surge to elicit public sympathy, the federal government is engaging in a sophisticated military tactic known as “asymmetrical warfare” against the American people, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent is warning.
Scroll to 11:44 for “asymmetrical warfare” reference (see transcript below). / Video courtesy of Little Bonanza Productions. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the government allocates resources to South Texas, it is systematically leaving areas within the U.S., as well as vast swaths of land along the border, unguarded, outspoken former Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent Zach Taylor says in an excerpted clip taken from an upcoming documentary entitled, “Back to the Border.”
“This gives people that are trying to get their infrastructure, their personnel, their drugs, their dirty bombs, their biological weapons, their chemical weapons into the United States without being noticed” the opportunity to do so, “because this part of the border is open, it is not being controlled,” the 26-year Border Patrol veteran outlines in the extensive interview.
Events in Ukraine are a continuing and increasingly dangerous prolongation of a Cold War supposedly called off at the meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1992.
These events may be read as driven by ideology and material ambition. It is difficult to otherwise interpret American policy with respect to the expansion of NATO and weakening of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, as sought by the adherents of a New American Century. This ambition expresses the exceptional millenarianism that has been a force at work in American foreign policy since the United States has had a foreign policy, and today it collides with a visionary nationalism in the new Russia.
The American expansionism seems to have its dynamic center today in the offices of European and Eurasian Affairs of the Obama Administration’s Department of State, a surviving outpost of the Neo-Conservatism of the Bush Administration, which envisaged, in collaboration with the right-wing intelligentsia of the Israeli political class, a geopolitical advance of the West, employing the resources and political weight of NATO to conquer the Moslem Middle East and Central Asia.
At work on the side of Vladimir Putin’s Russia are motivations including revenge for the humiliations that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet state, which Chairman Gorbachev initially believed could be salvaged by the Union Treaty he proposed to the increasingly restless members of the Soviet Union in 1990, a predecessor to Mr. Putin’s Central Asian economic union.
Despite the War Drums, There Is No Evidence that Putin Shot Down the Malaysian Airplane Over Ukraine
We’ve previously documented civilian planes have accidentally been shot down by Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., Israel and China, and that the Malaysian plane may have accidentally been shot down over Russia.
The Associated Press confirms this possibility:
Senior U.S. intelligence officials say they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake.
Indeed, the Russian government claims Ukrainian fighter jets were flying very close to Malaysian Flight 17. While some believe this proves that the Ukrainians shot down the passenger plane, another theory has surfaced: that Ukrainian fighter jets were escorting the Malaysian plane through Ukrainian airspace. If so, whoever shot the plane down might have thought it was a military craft.
President Obama proclaimed two years ago: “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger.” Obama loves to preen about the U.S. government’s purported generosity to the world’s downtrodden. However, like previous presidents, he has largely ignored how U.S. aid programs clobber recipients.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the sordid history of U.S. food aid. Food for Peace was devised in 1954 to help dump abroad embarrassingly huge crop surpluses fomented by high federal price supports. The primary purpose of Public Law 480 (in which the program is embodied) has been to hide the evidence of the failure of other farm programs. Although PL-480 sometimes alleviates hunger in the short run, the program disrupts local agricultural markets and makes it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run.
The Agriculture Department (USDA) buys crops grown by American farmers, has them processed or bagged by U.S. companies, and pays lavishly to send them overseas in U.S.-flagged ships. At least 25 percent of food aid must be shipped from Great Lakes ports, per congressional mandate. Once the goods arrive at their destination, the Agency for International Development (AID) often takes charge or bestows the food on private relief organizations.
The US Congress is doing its part to escalate the tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a host of other issues. In so doing, the legislative and executive branches of the US Government work hand in glove to further the US-NATO agenda in Eastern Europe.
The bill, propagandistically titled the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014,” (S.2277) was proposed by right wing Republican Senator Bob Corker, and has been cosponsored by a significant number of prominent Republicans in the Senate. While Democrats have yet to cosponsor the bill, they are almost without exception behind President Obama and his aggressive policy towards Russia and Ukraine. Indeed, this bill, though obviously partisan in its political character, represents the consensus within the US political establishment – a consensus that presumes US aggression in Eastern Europe to be defensive in the face of Putin’s “expansionism” and “imperial ambitions.”
It goes without saying that such a distorted world-view is par for the course in Washington, where upside-down logic is the predominant way of thinking about the world. However, the proposed legislation is less a response to perceived aggression from Moscow, and more of an attempt to capitalize on the crisis in Ukraine, using it as a convenient pretext for the expansion of NATO, continued militarization of Eastern Europe, promotion of corporate oil and gas interests, and much more.
Essentially, the bill provides a blueprint for US intentions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for the coming years. Moreover, it reflects the greatest concern of all for Washington and its NATO allies: the loss of hegemony in the post-Soviet space. Seen in this way, S.2277 is not truly about punitive measures to punish Russia for its “aggression,” but rather is about pre-emptively attacking Russia politically and economically, while building up to a possible military confrontation. Needless to say, such dangerous and destabilizing actions are a reflection of the moral bankruptcy, not to mention utter insanity, of the US political establishment and the ruling class it serves.
A Close Reading of S.2277
In examining the language of the bill, one is immediately struck by the all-encompassing nature of the proposals, that is to say, the way in which the bill goes far beyond merely “punishing Russia,” instead advancing a militaristic agenda for all of Eastern Europe that will fundamentally remake the political and military character of the region. Indeed, far from punitive measures, the bill lays out strategic objectives that are designed to escalate the conflict, exacerbate tensions, and generally lead to some kind of disastrous confrontation. There is no conciliatory language in the bill, no concessions, no recognition of legitimate Russian interests in Ukraine or anywhere else for that matter, nothing to indicate that US political figures have learned anything at all from the last six months.
S.2277 “Directs the President to: (1) implement a plan for increasing U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and other NATO member-states; and (2) direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO to seek consideration for permanently basing NATO forces in such countries.”
At the outset, the bill establishes the fact that US policy must be rooted in the strategy of NATO expansion and further militarization. The phrase “increasing U.S. and NATO support” is deliberately ambiguous. Rather than enumerating a clear strategy for NATO members in the Baltic and Poland, the bill rather provides an open-ended “support” which could include anything and everything Washington and NATO might want to provide, from advanced weapons systems and additional funding to “boots on the ground.” It should be noted that even the notion of additional military buildup in the Baltic states is an escalation and a provocation considering Russia’s naval fleet at Kaliningrad which, quite likely, would be seen by the Kremlin as under threat from NATO.
Of course, the greatest provocation comes in the second clause regarding consideration from Poland and the Baltic states for permanent basing rights. Such a development would be far more than an escalation, it would be a provocation of the highest order, an attempt to destroy the tenuous peace that has existed since the height of the Cold War.
Even during the tensest days of the US-Soviet conflict, military and political strategists on both sides of the Cold War understood the importance of maintaining a military and strategic balance, without which the world could easily teeter on the brink of yet another world war. It seems that McCain, Corker, and their right wing Republican colleagues, like their predecessors going back to the Truman administration, have not bothered to read George Kennan or heed his advice regarding “containment” and dialogue with Russia. Rather, they have chosen the path of conflict and saber-rattling, a guarantee that an amenable solution that is both pragmatic and desirable will not be found.
S.2277 “Directs the President to submit a plan to Congress for accelerating NATO and European missile defense efforts.”
As if to underscore the fact that these right wing warmongers seek confrontation, rather than dialogue with Russia, the issue of “missile defense” is placed front and center. Recognized by nearly all honest political observers as a means to intimidate and menace Russia, the so-called “missile defense systems” that Washington has been trying to place in Eastern Europe for nearly a decade are a “red line” for Moscow. Moscow made it clear back in 2007 that the deployment of such missile systems would upset the stability created by the nuclear deterrent, and would require a new arms race in which Russia would be forced to acquire and/or develop new, advanced missile systems that would be able to overcome the US “defenses.”
In other words, Putin made clear to Obama, and Bush before him, that any move to place those missiles in Poland, Czech Republic, or elsewhere in Eastern Europe would be regarded as an aggressive action that Russia would respond to. And so, this clause in the proposed bill should correctly be understood as a provocation for military buildup and, ultimately, war.
S.2277 “Directs the President to impose asset blocking and U.S. exclusion sanctions, if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from Crimea within seven days after enactment of this Act” and “Directs the President to impose asset blocking and U.S. exclusion sanctions, if Russian armed forces have not withdrawn from the eastern border of Ukraine within seven days after enactment of this Act, or if agents of the Russian Federation do not cease actions to destabilize the control of the government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine.”
These two clauses are particularly insidious as they are deliberately designed to give Washington carte blanche in terms of its economic sanctions against Russia, specifically the language specifying that “Russian forces must have withdrawn from Crimea within seven days of the enactment of the Act.” Of course, this is impossible for a number of obvious reasons, including the fact that Russian forces have been in Crimea, by internationally recognized treaty, for decades. So to “withdraw from Crimea” would mean that Russia would have to voluntarily give up its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol; withdrawal is clearly an impossibility for Moscow. Secondly, it should be remembered that Crimea voted to reunify with Russia, which Russia ratified and accepted. So, to “withdraw from Crimea” means to withdraw from Russia, an utter absurdity and an obvious non-starter.
As for the demand that Russia “withdraw from the eastern border of Ukraine,” this is yet another manipulative, and deliberately vague, clause which is impossible for Russia to adhere to, even if it wanted to. It doesn’t take a PhD in geography to understand that the “eastern border of Ukraine” is, by definition, the Russian border. So, to demand that Russia remove its armed forces from its own border with a country raging in civil war is utterly ludicrous. No leader of any nation could be expected to accept such an insane demand.
It should also be noted that the clause presumes certain “facts” for which no evidence has been provided. The assertion of “Russian agents” destabilizing the government of Ukraine is false on a number of counts. Not only is there still no evidence, despite the propaganda drumbeat from Western media, of Russian agents operating in eastern Ukraine, it is still unclear what, if any, assistance Moscow has actually provided. If one were to even glance at Russian media and Russian opinion polls, it is obvious that not even the Russian people believe Moscow is doing enough to help their cousins in Ukraine’s East. So, how does one “cease destabilizing” in a place where they are not active? And, if Washington would like to again assert the claim of Russian agents, let them for once provide some evidence.
One should note too that the phrase “government of Ukraine” is problematic considering the boycott of the election by vast swaths of the population in the East whose preferred candidates and parties were intimidated, beaten, or otherwise prevented from participating in the elections. Therefore, the legitimacy of the Poroshenko government, including the imperial toadies Yatsenyuk and Turchinov, is in doubt. Furthermore, the genocidal campaign waged by Kiev against the people of Donbas has robbed the regime of whatever modicum of legitimacy it may have had. And so, Washington demands that Russia not only cease “aiding the resistance,” but de facto force itself and the people of the eastern Ukraine to accept it. This is obviously difficult to swallow, and Corker & Co. know it.
S. 2277 “Directs DOD to assess the capabilities and needs of the Ukrainian armed forces. Authorizes the President, upon completion of such assessment, to provide specified military assistance to Ukraine” and “Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should: (1) provide Ukraine with information about Russian military and intelligence capabilities on Ukraine’s eastern border and within Ukraine’s territorial borders, including Crimea; and (2) ensure that such intelligence information is protected from further disclosure.”
Essentially, the above clauses explicitly state that the US should provide military aid to the regime in Kiev. Considering the fact that Kiev is guilty of a number of war crimes, including the deliberate shelling of civilian targets, kidnappings and forced disappearances, and collective punishment, Washington would be wise to remember that Principle VII of the Nuremburg Principles states clearly that “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.” By arming the Kiev regime, Washington would knowingly be engaging in a war crime. Naturally, the US has no compunction about committing war crimes, as the people of Iraq, Libya, El Salvador, Yemen and many other countries could attest to.
But this legislation suggests far more than military aid, as it presumes direct military collusion in intelligence-sharing, materiel support and more. And so, S.2277 would aim to engage the US deeply in the war itself, going far beyond the diplomatic and political row that is already raging; a dangerous development indeed. Furthermore, how would Russia respond if Russian citizens or troops were killed by US weapons supplied by Washington to its puppets in Kiev? Would this not likely be interpreted as an act of war? Or, at the very least, Moscow would hold Washington culpable, thereby complicating the current conflict ever more.
Of course, the military angle doesn’t stop there, as S.2277 also “Provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova (during the period in which each of such countries meets specified criteria) for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services,” and “Directs the President to increase: (1) U.S. Armed Forces interactions with the armed forces of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia; and (2) U.S and NATO security assistance to such states.”
The above language can be interpreted only as the de facto enlargement of NATO outside even NATO’s own procedures for new membership. By providing “defense articles” and “defensive services” to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, these countries are essentially made into NATO protectorates in all but name. In doing so, Washington would be sending a dangerous message to Moscow, escalating the conflict in order to provoke the very much expected response from Moscow. This goes far beyond “brinksmanship” and into the realm of the completely unhinged.
And what exactly does “increase interactions” mean in the context of that long list of countries? It is not a stretch to interpret such language as, again, de facto NATO protectorate status for these non-NATO states. Were such a policy carried out, it would mean the absorption of nearly every country in Eastern Europe into the NATO orbit. Undoubtedly, the Kremlin would view this as yet another act of aggression and would be forced to respond in kind.
Toward the end of S.2277 one finds a seemingly innocuous clause that, when read carefully, may just be one of the most important in the whole bill. S.2277 “Amends the Natural Gas Act to apply the expedited application and approval process for natural gas exports to World Trade Organization members,” and “Urges the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction to promote assistance to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova in order to exploit natural gas and oil reserves and to develop alternative energy sources.”
It would seem then that the bill is not solely about Ukraine’s security, but also that of the major energy corporations who seek to make massive profits from the unrest in Ukraine. The clause provides that energy exports could be expedited, ostensibly as a means to undermine Russia’s energy dominance in Europe. As has been reported, major US officials and executives have been chomping at the bit to get their hands on the lucrative Ukrainian gas reserves, as well as its pipeline infrastructure. In this provision, the US congress would essentially provide the political cover for the major energy companies to do this. Hunter Biden, US Vice President Joe Biden’s son who sits on the board of Burisma Holdings Ltd., a major Ukrainian oil and gas company, as well as his high-powered colleagues from the energy sector, likely made sure that the legislation provided provisions for the exploitation of the energy sector. Now, with the international trade obstacles out of the way, it should be an easy, relaxing ride straight to the bank.
S.2277 “Directs the Secretary of State to: (1) strengthen democratic institutions, the independent media, and political and civil society organizations in countries of the former Soviet Union; and (2) increase educational and cultural exchanges with countries of the former Soviet Union” and “Directs the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America (VOA) to provide Congress with a plan for increasing and maintaining through FY2017 the quantity of U.S.-funded Russian-language broadcasting into countries of the former Soviet Union, with priority for broadcasting into Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova.”
Last but not least are the provisions for the expansion of US soft power into Russia and the former Soviet space. Anyone who has studied how soft power functions, and specifically the role of “democratic institutions” and “civil society” then understands that these are code words for US-funded subversion. As has been seen in Russia, Venezuela, Ukraine, and a number of other countries, so-called “civil society” organizations such as NGOs represent a tool of US foreign policy, a means with which to foment unrest, stage political protests regardless of their lack of broad-based support, and generally control discourse to the liking of US foreign policy.
Voice of America has long been understood as the propaganda organ of the US State Department. To “increase the quantity of Russian language broadcasting” is merely a means of proliferating the US narrative into targeted countries. This is a direct result of the recognition that the West no longer maintains a monopoly on news, information, and media penetration. VoA has long since been regarded as a means of destabilization, and should continue to be regarded as such.
S.2277 should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following US conduct in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict. It is an attempt to legislate a confrontation with Russia in order to further the imperial agenda of the US and NATO. It is not the first, and certainly not the last, attempt by the political establishment in the US of escalating the conflict. Those of us interested in peace, stability, and opposition to US imperialism are certainly not shocked. That being said, S.2277 should remind us all that Ukraine is not the whole conflict, it is merely a theater in the larger war being waged by Washington – a war for power, hegemony, and another century of control. However, resistance to these forces continues. Exposing dangerous legislation such as S.2277 is merely a start.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
We’ve been following the Guantanamo Bay prisoner hunger strikes for some time now, but the situation has inexplicably not improved. In fact, things have gotten so terrible that one of the nurses assigned to administer the force-feedings has declined to participate anymore.
The news comes from Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a man who has been detained at Guantanamo since 2002. Though officially cleared for release five years ago, Dhiab is still inexplicably being held against his will. He, along with many others who are no longer suspected of having terrorism ties, has gone on a hunger strike to protest their treatment and lack of due process. Rather than clearing the issue up, however, the U.S. has decided to force-feed the not-criminal prisoners instead.
Thus far, details on the disobedient nurse are limited. Although the nurse is believed to be a Navy medical officer, his name has not been publicized. However, an American official has confirmed that the story is legitimate. A Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged that an employee declined to perform this specific feeding task, so he was reassigned to other duties and someone else was ordered to do the feeding instead. Good to know that forced feedings are running on schedule without interruption!
Media in West insist Russia delivered Buk systems to separatists
California Republican and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce criticized the Obama administration for not sending weapons to the regime in Kyiv.
He said inaction by the administration has allowed Russian arms transfers to separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“Up until now, the administration has not really helped Ukraine on the ground so you’ve got this massive influx of Russian agents and Russian heavy weaponry and we haven’t done anything in response,” Royce said on CNN.
Royce said Russia has transferred tanks, rocket launchers and other military equipment to the separatists. He did not provide evidence of the transfer.
The regime in Kyiv has acted as the source for the allegations.
MH17 shoot down blame game
On Saturday the regime said it had proof that Russia provided the surface-to-air missile system that shot down MH17.
According to The New York Times:
At a news conference in Kiev, Vitaly Nayda, the head of counterintelligence for the Ukrainian State Security Service, displayed photographs that he said showed the three Buk-M1 missile systems on the road to the Russian border.
Nayda’s accusation is countered by an Associated Press report from July that contains a photograph showing the Ukranian military deliveirng Buk antiaircraft launchers in Sloviansk, a city in the Donetsk Oblast where separatists are opposing the Kyiv regime.
Ukrainian officials and the corporate media are now claiming Russia has covertly moved Buk launchers out of easter Ukraine.
“Three missile launchers trespassed the Ukraine border on July 18,” said Nayda from Kyiv.
He said Russian military officers accompanied the units as they moved across the border.
Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen made waves in her Congressional testimony last week when she argued that social media and biotech stocks were over-valued. She also said that the price of junk bonds was out of line with historic experience. By making these assertions in a highly visible public forum, Yellen was using the power of the Fed’s megaphone to stem the growth of incipient bubbles. This is an approach that some of us have advocated for close to twenty years.
Before examining the merits of this approach, it is worth noting the remarkable transformation in the Fed’s view on its role in containing bubbles. Just a decade ago, then Fed Chair Alan Greenspan told an adoring audience at the American Economic Association that the best thing the Fed could do with bubbles was to let them run their course and then pick up the pieces after they burst.
He argued that the Fed’s approach to the stock bubble vindicated this route. Apparently it did not bother him, or most of the people in the audience, that the economy was at the time experiencing its longest period without net job growth since the Great Depression.
The Fed’s view on bubbles has evolved enormously. Most top Fed officials now recognize the need to take steps to prevent financial bubbles from growing to the point that their collapse would jeopardize the health of the economy. However there are two very different routes proposed for containing bubbles.
The trade only works if everyone is lulled into staying on the long side until it’s too late.
Charles Hugh Smith
Let’s try a thought experiment: suppose we’re players in the stock market, Wall Street insiders with real leverage and connections to the Fed. You know, the kind of player who can reverse a decline in the S&P 500 with an order (executed through a proxy) for thousands of call options on the SPX.
Retail participants tend to forget we make money on both the long and short side.The small-fry who provide liquidity always assume a sharp decline in equities is a terrible thing because “everybody is losing their gains,” and this general belief is pushed by the mainstream financial media: unfailingly chirpy news anchors’ expressions and voices darken when reporting the rare drop in stocks: horrible, horrible, horrible, a drop means we all lose, I’m sad reporting this.
The players are laughing at this play-acting and the gullibility of the audience: insiders make huge gains when they engineer a sharp decline. It’s not that difficult to manipulate the market when volume and volatility are low, especially in an age where quant-bot trading machines are programmed to follow trends.
It’s also easy to hype stocks publicly while selling (distributing) your shares at the top to unwary punters who believe the PR (the Fed has your back, thanks to the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE), the market will never go down, etc.).
But pushing the melt-up higher gets more difficult when the market gets heavy.Markets get heavy when participation thins (i.e. fewer stocks are leading the advance), speculative sectors are rolling over as the crowd of greater fools shrinks and volume on up days keeps declining.
When the markets get heavy, the easy-profits trade is get short and engineer a sharp decline. Nudging a heavy market into a free-fall has a number of advantages to players, other than the gratifying profits from being short equities and long volatility.
1. The Fed needs a decline to “prove” it isn’t pushing markets higher, further enriching the already obscenely rich. A thoroughly corrupted Congress is finally awakening to the public rage over the Federal Reserve’s blatant enrichment of the few at the expense of the many, and as a result, the Fed has a serious PR problem: Janet Yellen may be a lot of things, but a believable actress isn’t one of them. Her performance claiming the Fed acts only on behalf of widows, orphans, Mom, apple pie and the merchants lining Main Street was laughably inauthentic.
A sharp decline would demonstrate that the Fed isn’t controlling the market to enrich the insiders–even though a sharp decline would only benefit the insiders who engineered the drop. Heh. No need to be churlish about it. Where’s your sense of humor?
2. A mini-crash would panic the herd into selling, enabling insiders to scoop up shares on sale. This is of course the classic insider play: unload enough shares to blow off all the sell stops (i.e. orders to sell if price drops to specified level), which extends the decline and reinforces the panic-selling.
3. Never give a sucker an even break. After two years without a meaningful correction and complacency at multi-year highs, how much profit is there left in pushing an increasingly heavy market up another few percentage points? The big money is in engineering a decline that catches the crowd by surprise and doesn’t allow the traders a chance to board the short-bus before it roars out of the station.
Many traders are confident the market will broadcast a technical signal that will give them a chance to get on the short bus with the insiders. How likely is this? If we’re engineering a decline, why would we spoil the trade by letting a bunch of peasants get on board? With every quant-bot programmed to recognize all the usual technical signals and systems, why telegraph the trade?
As legendary stock trader/manipulator Jesse Livermore observed, the market will take the fewest possible number of participants along for the ride, and expecting the market to issue a “go short now for easy profits” signal would violate this rule: if everybody shifts from the long side to the short side, the trade is no longer profitable.
The trade only works if everyone is lulled into staying on the long side until it’s too late.Traders seem to be waiting for another standard-issue decline in September/October that would set up yet another standard-issue Santa Claus rally. Will it really be this easy to book profits in the second half? When everybody expects the same thing to unfold, it’s just another form of complacency.
Complacency–and the confidence that you can beat a confidence game by following what everybody else is following–is dangerous.
IAEA says Iran has kept other commitments as well in bid to prove it has no nuclear weapon ambitions
The Iranian government has fulfilled its commitment to an international agreement signed last year by eliminating the most highly-enriched uranium in its stockpile, according to reporting from the international agency overseeing the process.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran has stood by its promise to dilute the nuclear fuel that is closest to being useful in a possible nuclear weapon. Iran has consistently stood by the assertion that its nuclear research and development is only intended for civilian uses, such as energy production and medical purposes.
As Agence France-Presse reports:
Even as talks to reach a nuclear deal with Iran were extended beyond an initial July 20 deadline, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran was standing by its international commitments.
As agreed under a so-called Joint Plan of Action reached in November, the Islamic Republic has cut half of its stock of 20-percent enriched uranium down to five-percent purity.
The rest was being converted into uranium oxide.
Tehran also refrained from enriching above the five-percent level at any of its nuclear facilities, the IAEA report said.
Iran and world powers have been trying to reach a crucial nuclear deal to alleviate international fears that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon.
Early Saturday, they agreed to give themselves four more months after marathon talks in Vienna.
A riveting letter is making its rounds from Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor volunteering in Palestine. In it, Dr. Gilbert describes his first-hand account of Israel’s boots on the ground in Gaza – the sounds of F16s, drones and Apache helicopters, “So much made and paid in and by US,” blended with the screams, the smells, the sight of shivers and blood. He pleads, “Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?
I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa … I am convinced, 100 percent, it would change history.”
Like President Obama, I’m complicit in this campaign of aggression in Gaza. We all are. The U.S. is using our money to pay for Israel’s party of death.
U.S. taxes are supporting $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing to Israel in 2014. Thursday, July 17th, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $621.6 million in U.S. funding for the U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Program. According to the Congressional Research Service’s April 11th, 2014 report, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” American taxpayers give Israel’s military campaigns $9.9 million per day – $121 billion in assistance to date.
The historian who chronicles US Empire, William Blum, issued his 130th Anti-Empire Report this week. In it he notes that the US, by far, is seen by the people of the world as “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” with 24% taking that view. Only 2% see Russia as such a threat, and 6% see China.
This should not come as a surprise since, as this map shows, much of the world has been bombed, had their democratically chosen governments overthrown and has been occupied by the United States. Blum follows these interventions closely and has reported that since the end of World War II, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries, according to Chapter 18 of his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.
It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.
Yet, despite this mass public opinion about the United States, US leaders seem oblivious. As Blum points out, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “In my travels as Secretary of State, I have seen as never before the thirst for American leadership in the world.”
And, potential future leaders show support for the path of military intervention. The Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2012, Paul Ryan (R-WI) said: “We need to be reminded that the world needs American leadership.” And the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, has said “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.”
A more accurate appraisal comes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Vietnam era when he said: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I cannot be Silent.” The people of the United States must follow the lead of Dr. King and work to end the interventionist violence of the United States Empire.
Just days after the tragic crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said. President Obama held a press conference to claim – even before an investigation – that it was pro-Russian rebels in the region who were responsible. His ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did the same at the UN Security Council – just one day after the crash!
While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.
They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when EU and US-supported protesters plotted the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Without US-sponsored “regime change,” it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.
The media has reported that the plane must have been shot down by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists, because the missile that reportedly brought down the plane was Russian made. But they will not report that the Ukrainian government also uses the exact same Russian-made weapons.
They will not report that the post-coup government in Kiev has, according to OSCE monitors, killed 250 people in the breakaway Lugansk region since June, including 20 killed as government forces bombed the city center the day after the plane crash! Most of these are civilians and together they roughly equal the number killed in the plane crash. By contrast, Russia has killed no one in Ukraine, and the separatists have struck largely military, not civilian, targets.
They will not report that the US has strongly backed the Ukrainian government in these attacks on civilians, which a State Department spokeswoman called “measured and moderate.”
They will not report that neither Russia nor the separatists in eastern Ukraine have anything to gain but everything to lose by shooting down a passenger liner full of civilians.
They will not report that the Ukrainian government has much to gain by pinning the attack on Russia, and that the Ukrainian prime minister has already expressed his pleasure that Russia is being blamed for the attack.
They will not report that the missile that apparently shot down the plane was from a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system that requires a good deal of training that the separatists do not have.
They will not report that the separatists in eastern Ukraine have inflicted considerable losses on the Ukrainian government in the week before the plane was downed.
They will not report how similar this is to last summer’s US claim that the Assad government in Syria had used poison gas against civilians in Ghouta. Assad was also gaining the upper hand in his struggle with US-backed rebels and the US claimed that the attack came from Syrian government positions. Then, US claims led us to the brink of another war in the Middle East. At the last minute public opposition forced Obama to back down – and we have learned since then that US claims about the gas attack were false.
Of course it is entirely possible that the Obama administration and the US media has it right this time, and Russia or the separatists in eastern Ukraine either purposely or inadvertently shot down this aircraft. The real point is, it’s very difficult to get accurate information so everybody engages in propaganda. At this point it would be unwise to say the Russians did it, the Ukrainian government did it, or the rebels did it. Is it so hard to simply demand a real investigation?