The Price of Israeli State Terror – by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

PALESTINEMAP

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

According to West Bank Palestinian journalists, Israeli-instigated violence from July 14 – 28 caused 15 deaths, about 1,400 others injured, some seriously.

Clashes resulted from unacceptable Israeli security measures imposed on the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound, mostly in Jerusalem’s Old City, elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel continues holding bodies of 13 Palestinians killed during this period – so far refusing to return them to families for proper Muslim burials.

On Friday, Israel lifted security measures and other restrictions imposed on the Al-Aksa mosque and compound.

The Islamic Endowment in charge of running the holy site confirmed all gates are open, Palestinian men and women of all ages free to enter the mosque and compound for prayers.

Over 100 detained Palestinians were released on Thursday and Friday on these conditions. Old City residents were banned from entering Al-Aqsa for two weeks, other Jerusalem residents banned from the Old City for two weeks, other Palestinians banned from the city for two weeks.

Palestinian victories are rare and nearly always short-lived. It’s just a matter of time before large-scale Israeli-instigated violence again occurs.

Besieged Gazans endure horrendous Israeli mistreatment, struggling to survive under dire conditions.

Elsewhere in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli persecution continued on Saturday, numerous Palestinians assaulted, many detained, including disabled ones in Hebron and Bethlehem.

Multiple raids happen daily in Palestinian communities. Hundreds are administratively detained uncharged without trials.

Separately, Netanyahu threatened to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel, claiming it’s “inciting” violence in Jerusalem’s Old City, especially around the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound.

“I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem,” he blustered.

“If this does not happen because of legal reasons, I will work to legislate the laws required to remove Al Jazeera from Israel.”

Israel rejects criticism of its policies – by media, groups and individuals, including bloggers freely expressing their views.

Repressive Knesset legislation targets speech, assembly, association and the right to dissent, Palestinians especially vulnerable.

Military censorship prohibits information published about its high crimes against peace. willfully suppressing what Israelis need to know, claiming national security priorities.

Discussing anything Israel considers classified information risks prosecution. Protests are prohibited for political reasons. Nonviolent resistance is suppressed, academic freedom endangered.

The Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms (MADA) reported “51 violations of media freedoms in Palestine during June by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Palestine is illegally occupied territory, the entire population threatened by brutal Israeli repression – ongoing daily.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

Is Labor about to abandon Israel? By Red Flag

A resolution expected to pass at the NSW Labor state conference in late July, urging “the next Labor government to recognise Palestine” has been touted as a dramatic shift in Labor policy by the pro-Israel Murdoch press. “Labor will formally abandon almost 40 years of explicit ideological support for Israel”, according to the Australian’s national political editor Simon Benson.

Last month, the Tasmanian ALP state conference called on the next federal ALP government to “immediately recognise the state of Palestine” and Labor’s Queensland conference, also in late July, is expected to pass a similarly worded resolution. These resolutions follow public calls by former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd and former foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr for diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state.

All of these Labor stalwarts were die-hard Israel supporters during the heyday of their parliamentary careers. Hawke and Carr established Labor Friends of Israel back in 1977. Hawke remained steadfastly defensive of Israel even while the apartheid state brutally suppressed a popular uprising against its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the 1980s (the first Intifada). During the 2007 federal election campaign, Kevin Rudd claimed he had Israel “in his DNA”. Two years later, his deputy Julia Gillard defended Israel’s bombardment of the defenceless and blockaded civilian population of Gaza, claiming Israel “had a right to defend itself”.

What is behind this apparent conversion? Is Labor now dumping decades of support for apartheid Israel in favour of an independent and viable Palestinian state?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and its predecessor, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), have conducted a long campaign to secure diplomatic recognition from the United Nations and its member states. Currently, 137 nations recognise Palestine, including eight EU members. The EU adopted a position of support for recognition of Palestinian statehood in 2014.

The EU and its members have given the PA more than €10 billion in aid since it was established in 1994 following the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. US aid to Palestinians has averaged $400m a year over the last decade. However, such aid not only relieves Israel – the occupying power – of its obligations. It also serves to reinforce the occupation through the policy of “security coordination”.

Under the Oslo Accords, the PA is obliged to share information with Israel about armed resistance to the occupation. This policy has been deemed “sacred” by the PA’s chief Mahmoud Abbas, who claims the title of Palestinian president 13 years after being elected to a four-year term. The Abbas-led PA spends US$1 billion annually on security. PA security officers, who make up half of PA civil servants, are increasingly despised by Palestinians for their role in detaining anti-occupation activists and passing on information to Israeli occupation forces.

“It is very clear we have the Palestinian security services collaborating with the Shabak – the internal Israeli security service”, Shawan Jabarin, head of the Ramallah-based Al-Haq human rights organisation, told Al Jazeera last March.

“This type of coordination does not provide security to the Palestinians; rather, it is used against them. It is lethal, dangerous, and should be terminated”, he said.

Today the PA is a vital pillar in maintaining the status quo in occupied Palestine. Its call for “statehood” amounts to little more than the authority of a municipal government, while Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land for settlements, routinely bombs Gaza, and controls the occupied Palestinian territories’ land borders, water supplies, seas and airspace.

Like the UN Security Council condemnation of illegal Israel settlement building in the West Bank, Palestinian “statehood” serves a largely symbolic purpose. The mantra of a “two-state solution” in which two nations – Israel and Palestine – live behind “safe and secure” borders remains the official policy of both the ALP and the Liberals, as well as the governments of Israel’s closest allies, the US, Canada, Britain and France. Yet to most Palestinians, it remains a pipe dream. It also fails to address the needs of Palestinians living inside Israel under conditions of apartheid, as well as millions of Palestinian refugees who are denied the right to return to their homeland.

The need to be seen to be doing something to limit the worst excesses of Israeli barbarism is no doubt influencing a growing number of Labor politicians, especially given the intransigence of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take any meaningful steps to allow Palestinians to govern themselves.

The gulf between bipartisan support for Israel and Australian public opinion has never been so large. A Roy Morgan poll conducted last March found that 61 percent of Australians condemn illegal Israeli settlement building, 73 percent favour diplomatic recognition of Palestine by the Australian government and 55 percent consider the call for a boycott of companies who profit from the Israeli occupation as “reasonable”.

A shift in Labor policy towards recognition of Palestine is a pragmatic step. It would place an incoming Labor government more in sync with a growing number of Western governments that are prepared to criticise Israel while continuing to support a “two-state solution”.

However, it falls well short of abandoning support for Israel. If Labor wants to offer tangible support for Palestinian liberation it should back the Palestinians’ decade-long call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions directed at Israel to force the apartheid state to end its occupation and discrimination against Palestinians once and for all.

 

Pepe Escobar – Imperial folly brings Russia and Germany together

© CC0

The Empire of Whiners simply can’t get enough when it comes to huff, puff and pout as the Empire of Sanctions.

With an Orwellian 99% majority that would delight the Kim dynasty in North Korea, the “representative democracy” Capitol Hill has bulldozed its latest House/Senate sanctions package, aimed mostly at Russia, but also targeting Iran and North Korea.

The White House’s announcement – late Friday afternoon in the middle of summer – that President Trump has approved and will sign the bill was literally buried in the news cycle amidst the proverbial 24/7 Russia-gate related hysteria.

Trump will be required to justify to Congress, in writing, any initiative to ease sanctions on Russia. And Congress is entitled to launch an automatic review of any such initiative.

Translation; the death knell of any possibility for the White House to reset relations with Russia. Congress in fact is just ratifying the ongoing Russia demonization campaign orchestrated by the neocon and neoliberalcon deep state/War Party establishment.

Economic war has been declared against Russia for at least three years now. The difference is this latest package also declares economic war against Europe, especially Germany.

That centers on the energy front, by demonizing the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and forcing the EU to buy US natural gas.

Make no mistake; the EU leadership will counterpunch. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission (EC), put it mildly when he said, “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

On the Russia front, what the Empire of Sanctions faces does not even qualify as a hollow victory. Kommersant has reported that Moscow, among other actions, will retaliate by banning all American IT companies and all US agricultural products from the Russian market, as well as exporting titanium to Boeing (30% of which comes from Russia).

On the Russia-China strategic partnership front, trying to restrict Russia-EU energy deals will only allow more currency swaps between the ruble and the yuan; a key plank of the post-US dollar multipolar world.

And then there’s the possible, major game-changer; the German front.

The Fools on the Hill

Even without considering the stellar historical record of Washington not only meddling but bombing and regime-changing vast swathes of the planet – from Iraq and Libya to the current threats against Iran, Venezuela and North Korea – the Russia-gate hysteria about meddling in the 2016 US presidential election is a non-story, by now thoroughly debunked.

The heart of the matter is, once again, energy wars.

According to a Middle East-based US energy source not hostage to the Beltway consensus, “the message in these sanctions is the EU has no future unless it buys US natural gas to cut out Russia. To deny Russia the natural gas market of the EU was the goal behind the just lost war in Syria to put the Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Syria-Turkey-EU pipeline in and the opening to Iran for an Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-EU pipeline. None of these plans worked.”

The source adds as evidence the 2014 oil price war against Russia, orchestrated by “the dumping of Gulf States’ surplus oil or reserve capacity on the world market. Since this has failed to bring Russia to its knees, the destruction of the Russian natural gas market in the EU has become a national priority for the United States.”

As it stands, 30% of all EU oil and natural gas imports come from Russia. In parallel, the Russia-China energy partnership is being progressively enhanced. Russia is already geared to increase oil and gas exports to China and Asia as a whole.

The leadership in Berlin is now convinced that Washington is jeopardizing Germany’s energy diversification/energy security via the sanctions war. Russian natural gas and oil is secured by overland routes and is not dependent on the oceans, which, as the energy source stresses, “are no longer under United States control. If Russia in response to United States belligerency drops an Iron Curtain over Europe, and redirects all its natural gas and oil exports to China and Asia, Europe will be utterly dependent on largely insecure sources of natural gas and oil such as the Middle East and Africa.”

And that bring us to the “nuclear” possibility in the horizon; a Germany-Russia alignment in a Reinsurance Treaty, as first established by Bismarck. CIA-related US Think Tankland is now actively discussing the possibility.

Another US business/political source, also a practitioner of thinking outside the (Beltway) box, stresses, “this is what it’s all about. That is the true goal of Russia, and the United States has fallen into the trap. The United States has had enough of Germany and what it considers dumping of German products on the United States through rigged currency. They are now threatening Germany with sanctions, and there is nothing Germany can do with the EU on their back facing vetoes from Poland, who is giving them trouble once again. The fools in Congress are really going after Germany, and throwing Germany in the arms of Russia.”

The US as the New Carthage

A possible Germany-Russia alliance, as I’ve written before, rounds up the China/Russia/Germany entente capable of reorganizing the entire Eurasian land mass.

The Russia-China strategic partnership is extremely attractive to German business, as it smoothes access via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to the business/political source, “the US is at war with China and Russia (but not Trump, our President) and Germany is having second thoughts about being nuclear cannon fodder for the US. I have discussed this in Germany, and they are thinking of renewing the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia. No one trusts this US Congress; it is considered a lunatic asylum. Merkel may be asked to leave for the leadership of the UN, and then the treaty would be signed. It will shake the world and end any thought of the United States being a global power, which it isn’t anymore.”

The source adds, half in zest, “we think that Brzezinski died under the pressure of the realization that this was coming and that all his hatred of Russia and his life work to destroy them was becoming utterly undone.”

So, in a sense, it’s “welcome to the 1930s all over again and the rise of nationalism in Europe. This time Germany will not make the mistakes of 1914 and 1941 but will stand against their traditional Anglo-Saxon enemies. The United States has truly become today’s Carthage and the disorder in Congress reflects the same stupidity of Carthage facing Rome. Legislators undermined their genius Hannibal as they are undermining the greatest president of the United States since Andrew Jackson. As Sophocles wrote in ‘Antigone’, ‘God first makes mad those he wishes to destroy.’ This Congress is mad.”

SYRIAN ARMY ENJOYS FIRE CONTROL OVER AL-SUKHNA; EYELESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BULLY-BOY TRUMP FLAILS AGAINST IMAGINARY ENEMIES – By Ziad Fadel

SYRIANFORALLSYRIANS

Donald Trump is obsessed with Iran and North Korea.  Because he doesn’t read anything historical, or even political, he relies on late night Fox programming and the National Enquirer.  This is the leader of the most powerful nation on earth who has access to daily intelligence summaries prepared by his “highly trained professionals”.  Leave aside the fact that all American intelligence agencies have been penetrated by Zionist sympathizers, it remains puzzling why the president chooses to rely on the “fake media” instead of his own American, ultra-professional lie factories.

I cannot tell you who has got Trump’s ear on Iran, but, it must be someone linked to the Zionist Apartheid State.  I write this because of Mileikowski’s (“Netanyahu’s) own personal crusade during Obama’s tenure in office to scotch the Iran Nuclear Deal.  No one party was as active and rabid as the Zionist Entity when it came to speaking before Congress about the dangers of letting Iran off the hook.  Luckily for everyone, Mileikowski did not succeed and the deal continues despite cryptic tweets from Trump about scuppering the whole protocol.

Trump is a 5-time deferred draftee.  He never served in the military and that makes him doubly dangerous.  Like other Republicans – think of G.W. – he envisions himself a warrior and war-time president although he never got to taste the glories of war – the screams of the injured or the pleasant aroma of burned human flesh – the sounds of babies under bricks or collapsed buildings or the uplifting sight of human limbs spread out around a bomb crater.  He missed all the good times.  But, he persists in flailing at enemies, most of whom are arming themselves to the teeth because they perceive there’s a bully on the block.

Who is the bully, you ask?  Well, aw shucks, you know, it’s that bully who runs around the globe invading other countries, destroying infrastructure – assassinating leaders – murdering hundreds of thousands of people. And who could that be?  It couldn’t be a country as democratic as the United States, could it?  Could it be a country that pretends to support democracy by enveloping other nations in a shroud of cordite, napalm and Agent Orange, a minor deficiency sufficient to keep that civilized country voluntarily off the list of nations who have signed on to the International Criminal Court?  I mean, why wouldn’t the bully be a part of the ICC?  Because, it’s just a bully?  That’s it?

From Vietnam, where the U.S. gleefully slaughtered over one million Vietnamese civilians to Iraq where the figures are somewhere between 400,000 to 800,000; to Panama where the U.S. extracted a whole government with whom it was not at war to a little island, called Grenada, whose only sin was having Cuban engineers building a runway for it; to Rwanda where Clinton could have done something (like lifting a finger) to prevent a genocide – but, didn’t because: who in the Hell cares about a bunch of black people? ……..all the way to Syria where a media blitzkrieg attempted to convince a war-weary American public that the U.S. should invade a member state of the United Nations even though Syria had never done anything to damage the U.S…..all the way to Syria where American support and training for cannibals, savages, jihadists and other forms of parasite were tasked with bringing down a secular government which protected all sectors of society and which was on the verge of departing the Third World.

And don’t forget Libya.  That’s where the Russians got snookered by the foul-smelling English and their French skunk cousins into supporting a U.N.S.C. resolution aimed clearly at protecting civilians from the rampaging Qaddafi forces, a fig leaf for “regime change” when it appeared that the Bad Boy of Benghazi wasn’t going out the easy way.  This one act of perfidy, so vile it makes the hair follicles on my otherwise bald head quiver, resulted in the death of Libya’s leader at the hands of a child, watched ostensibly by adult “revolutionaries”, who then shoved the leader’s own pistol between his haunches to fire one bullet that would insure the strongman’s death.  This monstrous act was filmed.  And so was Hillary Clinton’s reaction in front of a camera:  “We came. We saw. He died!”)  This was followed by the scag caterwauling with delight as onlookers rolled their eyeballs in disbelief.  So much for American diplomacy.  Class?

Libya is in ruins and irreversible decay.  Trump would like to bring the same to Iran and North Korea.  Obama wanted to bring this to Syria.  Bush did bring that to Iraq. Obama and Trump are bringing it to Venezuela, too.  Land of liberty and the home of the brave.

__________________________________________

DAYR EL-ZOR:  Syrian Army Republican Guard forces almost totally surrounded by ISIS vultures are about to see relief after 4 years of snuffing out every effort by the American/Zionist-created terrorists to penetrate their Air Base and the areas they control inside the city.  Their efforts were not for naught.  The resilience of their worshiped commander, Maj. Gen. ‘Issaam Zhahreddeen, his perfunctory reliance on the professionalism of his officers and the impavid obstinacy of his core fighters, turned every British plan to overrun the base into one disaster after another with hundreds, if not thousands, of putrefying terrorist carcasses oozing into the soil providing the rural countryside with more organic nutrients than any volcanic eruption before or after Krakatoa.

The SAAF has been running continuous patterns of sorties over the areas of Panorama, the Airbase and Base 137.  Yesterday, a major ISIS leader usually infesting Mu-Hassan, was turned into so much hamburger meat by a bomb that landed a few yards from his cringing carcass.  His name was “Mu’aawiya Al-Faraj”, a Jordanteezian pedophile and drug dealer.

Yesterday, the SAAF destroyed all fortifications at Panorama, Base 137, the Al-Raqqa Bridge, ‘Ayn Abu Jum’ah Police Station and at the Conoco Desert Oil Field.  This was in preparation for the arrival of the Tiger Forces who will play the most instrumental role in exterminating the rodents presence in the city.

In East rural D.Z., we can confirm the death of “Abu Ghosn Al-Albaani”, obviously some Albanian derelict who couldn’t get enough Slivovitza at home.

We are delighted to report the deaths of 2 corrupt ISIS degenerates at the hands of local women in Al-Saalihiyya who set a trap for the naive morons by offering fresh bread.  When the cannibals laid down their rifles in order to fill their pockets with the tasty muffins, the women clobbered the rodents with clubs and then, as the wretches were squirming, the women calmly clobbered them again until some young men came and beheaded the shivering swine.

In Al-Husayniyya Village, the leader of ISIS’s Security Bureau, Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Tunisi (Tunisian foot fetishist and committed child molester), Abu Haarith Shaqra and Abu Al-Mu’tassim Al-Dayri were all found dead at the Tourist Oasis Rest Stop snuggled around an Ottoman-style toilet.

With morale at an all time high, leaders of ISIS have been conspicuously preparing to abandon ship.  Just yesterday, one of ISIS’s main communications officers disappeared from sight in a red BMW sedan.  ‘Issa Al-Humaydi simply decided that the promise of 72 belly dancers was too remote a possibility and opted for parts unknown.  And so did a formerly fanatical field commander, Hishaam Ramadhaan perform a splendid disappearing act hauling his brood of scum out of north Al-Sukhna to the safety of Al-Mayaadeen.

For more local events of importance, at Al-Hirri Village, members of the Shu’aytaat tribe halted a car carrying 4 rodents.  Before they could get off one shot, the young men exterminated them in a hail of lead. Boo hoo hoo.

_______________________________________

HOMS:  But, the big news is Al-Sukhna.  It is now under complete fire control because the SAA has taken over all ISIS positions at the hilltops of Tal Umm Khassm and Qulaylaat Mountain.

East of Al-Salamiyya in Hama Province, the SAAF is flying continuous sorties to principally block any attempt to resupply ISIS rodents anywhere near Al-Sukhna.  At ‘Uqayrabaat, Al-Sooha, Jurooh, North Qastal and Qulayb Al-Thawr, the SAAF has not only destroyed whole convoys of trucks carrying arms and ammo, it has also laid waste to supportive vehicles like flatbeds armed with 23mm cannons.

At Al-Zakiyya Village, two days ago, the SAA arrested scores of Nusra/Alqaeda and ISIS terrorists seizing all their equipment, armaments and ammunition.

_______________________________________

NEWS AND COMMENT:

For more kinky developments in the ME, you can’t go wrong reading about this from Brandon:

http://www.activistpost.com/2017/07/lgbt-brigades-syria.html

 

 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/07/syrian-army-enjoys-fire-control-over-al-sukhna-eyeless-in-the-middle-east-bully-boy-trump-flails-against-imaginary-enemies.html#x1JOj814mip4xHDQ.99

Alternative Media Is Ignoring Venezuela’s Regime Change Problem – By Whitney Webb

Independent media outlets tend to pose alternative viewpoints that conflict with the narratives espoused by mainstream media. But when it comes to Venezuela, whose socialist government is in danger of being overthrown, they are parroting the mainstream line or ignoring the issue altogether.

An anti-government protester holds a shield brandished with photos of President Nicolas Maduro, government officials and a gun sight, during clashes with security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, July 22, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

CARACAS– (Analysis)  Even though the independent media community in the West is diverse, there are often some common themes that unite alternative media outlets from different sides of the political spectrum. Common among these unifying forces is a criticism of the U.S. imperial war machine and U.S. efforts – both covert and direct – to subject governments throughout the world to regime change, often for simply conflicting with the U.S.’ “national interest.”

This has held true for independent media coverage of U.S.-led regime change efforts in countries like Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Syria, where the reporting of most alternative media outlets has brought them into direct conflict with mainstream media, government-approved narratives. However, for several conservative-leaning independent media outlets, there is one glaring exception: Venezuela.

While some more left-leaning independent media sites have acknowledged the U.S.’ role in the destabilization of oil-rich Venezuela and its multi-million dollar funding of the political opposition, some on the more conservative side – such as Zero Hedge, InfoWars and We Are Change – have often ignored this outright or only mentioned it as a mere afterthought.



Instead they have chosen to embrace the mainstream media narrative supportive of U.S.-backed regime change in Venezuela, painting the current government of Venezuela as a dictatorship and the sole party responsible for the country’s current crisis, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

 

CIA-backed coups and opposition funding

For any student of U.S.-led regime change efforts, Venezuela’s current situation has the hallmarks of previous scenarios: lucrative resources, a history of U.S.-backed coup attempts, U.S.-led economic sabotage and a U.S.-funded political opposition.

Venezuela Anti Imperialist March

Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, found itself in the crosshairs of the US corporate empire as soon as its people rejected the U.S.-allied oligarchical government by electing socialist President Hugo Chávez in 1999. Chávez then began implementing policies that put the Venezuelan people ahead of American business interests that sought to exploit the nation’s resources.

Just a few years later, a U.S.-backed coup took place, one that involved many of the same figures who now lead the Venezuelan opposition. Chávez then ejected two major U.S. oil corporations, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, in 2007, further fomenting the ire of the United States government and corporate world. In the years that followed, numerous foiled coup attempts were uncovered in Venezuela and though Chávez resisted them all, he eventually succumbed to a sudden and rapidly advancing strain of cancer, with some going so far as claiming that the cancer was induced by his foreign enemies.

Ever since Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor, won a tight election in the aftermath of Chávez’s death, he too has faced major problems. Similar to what transpired in other Latin American countries targeted for regime change, a scarcity of goods, food and medicine emerged in parts of the country. However, much of this was caused by major corporations – whose owners side with the opposition – hoarding those goods and refusing to put them on shelves.

The shortage was compounded by a drop in oil prices, which was brought about through artificial manipulation by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Though the price manipulation had the ultimate aim of hurting Russia, other oil-dependent economies, like Ecuador and Venezuela, have also suffered tremendously as a result.

Yet, the clearest sign of U.S. involvement in seeking regime change in Venezuela comes from its funding of the opposition. The U.S. government gave well over $100 million to the Venezuelan political opposition from 2002 to 2010, with the “progressive” Obama administration alone pledging $20 million to that cause.

The Obama administration also notably slapped Venezuela with sanctions, calling the nation a “threat to national security” despite no evidence being provided to support that claim. In addition, a current Senate bill, if passed, would give $10 million more to opposition parties. Many of the top figures in the Venezuelan opposition, including those lionized by Western media, have direct ties to the U.S. government.

For instance, according to a leaked recording from 2013, opposition leader Maria Corina Machado detailed how Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, the chairman of the opposition umbrella group Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, told the State Department that “the only way to resolve this (salir de esto) is by provoking and accentuating a crisis, a coup or a self-coup. Or a process of tightening the screws and domesticating to generate a system of total social control.”


Related: The Violent Past Of Leopoldo Lopez, Poster Boy For The Venezuelan Opposition


In addition, recent coup attempts in Venezuela were shown to be linked to the CIA and the DEA. More confirmation of current CIA involvement in Venezuela came earlier this week when the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, stated that the U.S. is working towards a “transition” in Venezuelan governance in coordination with the governments of Colombia and Mexico.

Were Venezuela to be replaced in this account with the name of any other country (save Cuba), it is likely that the very same alternative media sites that refuse to recognize that something is amiss in the mainstream narrative on Venezuela would be up in arms at the U.S.’ meddling in yet another attempt to force a democratically-elected government from power.

 

Zero Hedge’s flawed coverage of Venezuela

Despite the clear similarities between Venezuela and other victims or would-be victims of U.S. regime change, some alternative media sites refuse to even report on the U.S.’ role in destabilizing Venezuela, instead blaming “socialism” for all of the country’s ills. This, incidentally, is the very same pro-regime change stance taken by U.S. mainstream media and the U.S. government.

One consistent example is Zero Hedge, a respected news aggregation site in alternative media with a focus on finance and libertarian politics. Though Zero Hedge has never hesitated to point out U.S. regime change meddling in countries like Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Honduras and others, it flat out denies the other forces that have clearly had a significant role in shaping Venezuela’s current crisis.


Related: The Strategy Behind Washington’s Destabilization Of Venezuela


Zero Hedge is often accurate in its analysis of why certain economic crises have begun, yet it claims that the problems of Venezuela’s oil sector are due to “mismanagement, a lack of investment and re-nationalization of foreign oil companies,” without mention of the artificial manipulation of oil prices that Zero Hedge has acknowledged was carried out covertly by the U.S. and the Saudis for geopolitical reasons.

This assessment suggests that Venezuela’s economic problems, with relation to the economy’s main driver (oil), are the sole fault of the Chavista government. While these factors have certainly played a role, the drastic decline in oil prices cannot be ignored in good conscience.

However, Zero Hedge has done just that, blaming all of Venezuela’s problems on its embrace of socialism and ignoring other factors that could debunk the “failed socialist state” narrative. It has even scoffed at the idea that the U.S. would orchestrate a coup against Maduro, despite the fact that the U.S. has targeted the Chavista government in the past, most notably in 2002.

In addition, one of Zero Hedge’s most recent articles on Venezuela began with the following: “Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has made it clear: Nothing short of the invasion threatened by President Donald Trump will stop him from holding a vote on a new constituent assembly that will officially replace the country’s legislature and likely allow the embattled president to rewrite the country’s Constitution, cementing his grip on power.”

This assessment, however, is inaccurate and buys into the depiction of Maduro as a “power hungry” president “cementing his grip on power” at all costs. Maduro is actually authorized by Venezuela’s current constitution to call for a National Constituent Assembly. On the other hand, the assembly would not replace the opposition-controlled legislature, as it is tasked solely with authoring a national constitution. This claim comes exclusively from the Venezuelan opposition, who are so opposed to the Assembly that they refused to participate in it, allowing Western media to suggest that only the ruling Chavista party would “hand-pick” the assembly’s membership.

 

Alex Jones’ war on socialism

Another well-known conservative-leaning alternative news site is InfoWars, led by the firebrand radio host Alex Jones. While Jones is certainly a polarizing figure, there is no denying his popularity nor his success as a figure in alternative media. Jones often speaks against U.S. regime change efforts, criticizing such attempts by the U.S. “deep state” practically across the board.

A May, 11 2016 article republished on Infowars.com from right-leaning DCWhispers.com.

However, for InfoWars, Venezuela is different, largely because of the site’s strong dislike for socialism. Indeed, InfoWars has warned its readers that the crisis in Venezuela would also befall the U.S. were Bernie Sanders elected U.S. president, as Venezuela’s crisis is the result of “democratic socialism.” They have also warned that “socialism kills.”

Beyond that, InfoWars has published glowing portrayals of the Venezuelan opposition protesters, often referred to as “anti-socialism” protesters, even though those same protesters are often U.S.-funded and violent. Opposition protesters have burned people alive, threatened business owners who won’t join their cause, and threatened journalists from Venezuela and abroad. Yet, InfoWars has had no problem reporting on the U.S.-funded and violent armed opposition in Syria, for example.


Related: Alex Jones Is ‘No Better Than ISIS’: How The Infowars Host Spreads Fear For Profit


Interestingly, InfoWars has debunked its own narrative on Venezuela. In 2008, it published a story regarding journalist Eva Golinger’s documentation of U.S. efforts to discredit and destabilize the Chavista government, efforts that InfoWars now seems to support. It has also admitted that the U.S. engineered an economic crisis against another Latin American democratic socialist, Salvador Allende of Chile.

A 2012 article by Kurt Nimmo published on the site correctly states that former President Richard Nixon “had ordered the CIA to ‘make the economy scream’ in Chile to ‘prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.’” This included manufacturing shortages of goods, food and medicine in supermarkets and other stores, much like what has transpired in Venezuela. Allende was later removed in a violent U.S.-backed coup in 1973.

In addition, We Are Change (WRC), an alternative media organization that made a name for itself confronting face-to-face various politicians and other figures of the U.S. and UK political elite, has also taken an anti-Venezuelan government position in recent years. In a 2016 video titled “You Won’t Believe What We Saw In Socialist Venezuela” and filmed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Luke Rudowski of WRC says at several points that he is convinced that the Venezuelan government is criminal and that its problems are just part of the socialist “endgame.”

Watch Luke Rudowski’s video on the crisis in Venezuela:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/UOQb7Y5QVO8?rel=0&showinfo=0

Rudowski argues that the crime wave in Caracas was “brought on by the government as a way to control the people.” His evidence for this claim, however, is threadbare. Essentially, Rudowski cites the common presence of public signs denoting “gun-free” zones – despite high crime rates – are tantamount to the government actively encouraging violent crime.

In addition, actual footage of crisis in Venezuela is minimal throughout the video and fails to show or support some of the more wild claims it makes. Compare this to recent footage taken by journalist Abby Martin in Caracas in which she interviews a variety of people with different viewpoints, as well as visits various stores and locales throughout the capital city.

 

Regime change: an affront to national sovereignty

One may think that the apparent about-face of these, and other, alternative media sites could be due to the fact that Venezuela’s government is left-leaning. However, all three mentioned here have had no problem recognizing that the overthrow of the leftist and democratically-elected government of Honduras in 2009 was the work of the United States. So why leave Venezuela out?

It may be related to either the fact that the Honduras coup was backed by the Obama administration, namely Hillary Clinton, or the fact that Honduras’ pre-coup government, led by Manuel Zelaya, was not overtly “socialist.” Either way, does Venezuela’s embrace of socialism for nearly two decades really justify ignoring the U.S. regime change efforts that have long targeted the country?

Here, it seems, some of these alt-media outlets have made a rather interesting choice. Instead of opposing all U.S. regime change efforts, those targeting governments with certain economic systems is just fine, even if that regime was democratically elected by the people of that country. One may not agree with socialism, one may even despise it; however, U.S. regime change against any government is an affront to the very principle of national sovereignty. When it targets a democratically-elected government, it is an affront to the right of people to govern themselves, whether one agrees with their decision or not.

 

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Hezbollah and rebels agree ceasefire at Lebanese-Syrian border POLITICS – By Wang Lei

2017-07-27 17:02 GMT+8

6892km to Beijing

A ceasefire took effect on Thursday in a mountainous area of the Lebanese-Syrian border where Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it is on the verge of defeating jihadist militants in their last foothold at the frontier.

The ceasefire, beginning at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT), comes a week after the powerful Shiite militant group launched an offensive against the jihadists in the mountainous Jurud Arsal border region.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) said the ceasefire was part of a deal brokered by the country’s general security agency chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim. 

A Hezbollah fighter holds his weapon at Juroud Arsal, Syria-Lebanon border, July 25, 2017. /Reuters Photo

Under the deal, remaining fighters from the former al-Qaeda affiliate once known as al-Nusra Front will withdraw from the region.

“The al-Nusra fighters and their families will go to Idlib,” a province in northwestern Syria largely under the control of the jihadists, NNA said.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday his group was close to defeating al-Nusra Front militants, saying they had “effectively lost” most of the land they held in the barren, mountainous border region known as Jroud Arsal.

He said negotiations had begun on Tuesday between Lebanese officials and the al-Nusra Front over the withdrawal of remaining militants to insurgent-held territory in Syria.

A Hezbollah member kisses the coffin of Hezbollah fighter Mohammed Chouaib, during his funeral in Toul village, Lebanon, July 24, 2017. /Reuters Photo

Security sources say some two dozen Hezbollah fighters have been killed overall, and nearly 150 militants.

ISIL militants in an adjacent area of the border zone are expected to be targeted in the next phase of the operation unless they agree to withdraw.

Six-year Syrian war

The al-Nusra Front was al-Qaeda’s official wing in the Syrian war until last year when it formally severed ties to the global jihadist network and rebranded itself. It now fights as part of the Tahrir al-Sham Islamist alliance, which it dominates.

Hezbollah has played a major role in fighting militants in the border region during the six-year Syrian war, part of a much bigger role it has played in the Syrian conflict in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. /Reuters Photo

The Arsal region was the scene of one of the most serious spillovers of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon, when al-Nusra Front and ISIL militants briefly overran the town of Arsal, abducting dozens of Lebanese soldiers and policemen.

ISIL is still holding nine Lebanese soldiers captured at that time. Their fate is unknown.

(Source: Reuters, AFP)

Related stories:

Hezbollah fights militants along Syrian-Lebanese border

Lebanon’s Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

How Imperialism Crushed Syrian Secularism With Sectarianism – By Steven Sahiounie

Politician Antoun Saadeh was a champion of Syrian secularization, advocating the separation of religion and politics to create greater national unity. But his secular society would be demolished by Western powers that sought to divide and conquer the country.

A Syrian woman with the words "hands off" painted on her face takes part in a protest against US military action in Syria across the road from the entrance of Downing Street in London, Aug. 28, 2013.

SYRIA (Analysis) — The philosopher and politician Antoun Saadeh was a true visionary.  He died in 1949; but before he perished, he foretold of the sorts of conflicts and wars that we are seeing today in Syria and the Middle East. He is perhaps best known for founding the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in 1932, which would result in his arrest three years later.

His 1935 arrest was the first of several that would see him locked up in intermittent periods between that year and 1937. But his imprisonment did not stop him from expanding on the ideology he established with the SSNP, as he would write three books (“The Rise of Nations,” “Principles Explained” and “The Rise of the Syrian Nation”) while in prison. His manuscript for the third book was taken by French authorities and now sits under lock and key in the Louvre, much like Saadeh himself when he was jailed.

One of the cornerstones of his ideology was secularization. He advocated the complete separation of religion and politics as a fundamental condition for real national unity. He valued diversity, saying “Every nation is made up of diverse racial groups, and none of them is the product of one race or one specific tribe.”



But in the years since his death, his birthplace of Lebanon has become a highly sectarian nation and society. In the political scene, the nation is broken into pieces by religion and sect. The President must be Maronite Catholic, while the Prime Minister must be Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of the Parliament must be Druze. Religion and sect are not chosen through one’s own free will, but are imposed at birth.

Foreign powers, hoping to create chaos in the Middle East, have long used the tactic of igniting sectarian strife in the countries they wish to target, pitting some of the population against others through the strategy of “divide and conquer.” The U.S. and NATO have used this extensively in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The SSNP’s official logo, the “Zawba’a,” is a symbol derived from Mesopotamian art.  The red whirlwind symbol is said to symbolize the blood that was shed by the party’s martyrs throughout its history, while the black circle symbolizes the dark ages of sectarianism and colonial oppression.

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party logo is seen behind a portrait of late Syrian President Hafez Assad during a demonstration against possible US military action in Syria, in front of the UN headquarters, in Beirut, Lebanon,, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP/Bilal Hussein)

In keeping with his ideology, Saadeh opposed the colonization that broke up greater Syria. His ideology refers to a “Natural Syria,” including the Fertile Crescent, that comprises a Syrian homeland that includes the Taurus and Zagros mountains, extending to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, across the Sinai and Gulf of Aqaba and down to  the Mediterranean Sea, including the island of Cyprus, down to the Arabian Desert and Persian Gulf.

Saadeh traced Syrian history back to the ancient Phoenicians, Canaanites, Assyrians and Babylonians, believing that the people of Syria transcended religious distinctions. To him geography was the defining characteristic of the nation – not religion or ethnicity. He felt that Syria was historically, culturally and geographically distinct from the rest of the Arab world.

Saadeh witnessed the end of World War I in 1918, which saw the violent partitioning of Syria into smaller states, with part of Syrian territory given to the new Turkish government.  Lebanon was cut out of Syria and declared an independent state in 1920. Syria then endured a brutal and repressive military occupation by France from 1920 to 1946.

This partitioning is playing out all over again in modern times, as reported in this 2017 article from Executive Intelligence Review:

“According to the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph  Dunford, the partition of Syria is in their plans.  

As the U.S.-led coalition supports local efforts to seize Raqqa, Dunford said, another effort led by the U.S. State Department is establishing a governance body that will take over once Raqqa is seized. That governance will leverage Arab leaders who are from Raqqa and will also work on establishing a security force made up of local personnel so stabilization efforts that will follow the seizure of Raqqa.”

 

The plot to partition Syria – past and present

Saadeh was no friend of Turkey, as he saw them as an oppressive force determined to take Syria for themselves. As he wrote in 1937 in the newspaper Al-Nahdhah:  

“The Turks took Iskanderun, and from now they are saying it is Turkish, and are spreading their ideology in it, and they are calling it by a Turkish name, and they will not stop there, they want to take over Aleppo and Al Jazeera.”  

Just one year later, Saadeh wrote in the same newspaper:

“Turkey is the closest, the strongest and most dangerous country that is looking at us with greedy eyes.  They are waiting for the right moment to take political advantage of Syria while in a crisis. Then what is our duty when we know our enemy’s greediness?  We should be strong because weakness will allow the enemy to eat us alive.  Especially, our society lost the unity which had existed among us, and that is why Syria was broken apart easily, and is continuing until now.  They see in our unity the danger to their plans.”

Saadeh saw the land grab Turkey made in northwest Syria in 1920. Now, in 2017, we are witnessing history repeating itself, much of which was foreseen by Saadeh.  

Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, (Y.P.G), stand guard next to American armored vehicles at the Syria-Turkey border, Apri, 2017. (Youssef Rabie Youssef/EPA)

For example, in a speech given by Saadeh in Aleppo in 1948, he said:

“There is a second danger in front of our eyes.  This is the danger of Kurdistan and making a Kurdish country. Foreign countries back this plan, in order to create chaos in the Middle East. By establishing a country called Kurdistan, these foreign countries will be fighting against Turkey. Don’t think that the danger is only in Palestine. The danger is all around our nation.”

Conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Turkey have created a tangle of political and military organizations among the Kurds.  The estimated 25 to 35 million ethnic Kurds spread across Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran are at the center of several conflicts that are now reshaping the Middle East. For instance, The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has carried out a nearly four-decade long armed struggle against the Turkish state, resulting in the deaths of about 40,000 people.

In Syria, the Kurds are full Syrian citizens, having all the same rights as other Syrians under secular civil law. Syria is made up of many religious and ethnic groups, and all are full citizens, including the country’s small Jewish community. However, some Syrian Kurds have seen the chaos brought on by external threats to Syria as an opportunity to benefit from their neighbors’ suffering.

Not only have they benefited financially by fighting as salaried soldiers under the U.S. government, but they are drawing the long-term benefit of declaring their own homeland from land they have stolen from other Syrians. Kurds currently fighting for the U.S. are committing a large-scale ethnic cleansing of non-Kurdish civilians.

 

Saadeh warns of the rise of Zionism

During Saddeh’s lifetime, he saw European Jewish immigrants coming into Palestine with a Zionist plan to eventually declare it a Jewish state. The Jewish state of Israel was declared in 1948, not long before Saadeh was executed.  

Palestinian refugees

Saadeh warned of the rise of Israel. He said the dangers of the Zionists were not only in Palestine, but in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. In 1938, Saadeh said the Zionists would not stop at Palestine, but would, in fact, want to expand beyond the region’s borders.

On March 2, 1947 Saadeh said, “The goal of the Syrian National Social party (SSNP) is to save, and should work toward saving Palestine from the greediness of the Zionists, and saving Palestine should be a Lebanese goal, not only a Palestinian goal.   Zionism is a danger to the whole region.”  

In the current Syrian conflict, Israel has been supporting radical Islamic terrorists who are fighting for regime change. This suits Israeli policy in Syria, and Israel has therefore gone so far as to treat wounded terrorists inside Israeli hospitals.


Related: UN Expresses Concern Over Israel’s Interaction With Syrian Militants


With the Ottoman defeat in 1918, the Arabs saw their lands divided into French and British areas in accordance with the Sykes-Picot accords of 1916. Lebanon became a French mandate and in September 1920, the frontiers of modern-day Lebanon were established.  It was about that time that Saadeh completed his education and left Lebanon, first for the U.S., and a year later in 1921, for Brazil.

On May 1, 1924, the magazine San Paolo published an article written by Saadeh titled  “The Fall of the U.S. from the World of Humanity.” In it, he wrote the following:

“It looks like the shining of the Dollar which has made the Americans go blind, and they attack other nations, and the blood is spilt in cold blood, against the freedom of other nations, who may have been loyal to the US and had been allies previously. The west has failed, and is bankrupt completely. The U.S. slapped nations in the face, even though they had been loyal and friends of USA.  Some of those nations gave large numbers of their own young men in the world war as allies of the U.S.”

 

Today’s empires, tomorrow’s ashes

Greedy superpowers have sought to carve up Syria since the days of the Ottoman Empire. From the French and English after World War I to the U.S., Israel and Arab Gulf states of today – all have supported the destruction of Syria. Saadeh, in his time, worked to oppose those superpowers that would seek to endanger the country. His efforts ended with his execution on July 8, 1949, as he was found to be a danger to the geopolitical goals of the countries he opposed.

A Free Syrian Army fighter takes position close to a military base, near Azaz, Syria, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

On Oct. 15, 1937, Saadeh wrote in Al-Nahdhah:  

“Our ideology found in the extremist Wahhabi religion, that spread in the Arab Gulf, an enemy. The Wahhabi religion is an enemy to Christians, Sunnis and Shiites. It is a danger to all the nations around Saudi Arabia, especially the Syrian nation. It is not only an economical danger, or occupation, but it is the Saudi Royal family who are working on a war inside of the society in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, by their agents on the ground, who are spreading Wahhabism and its goals, by the media, by politicians, and the religious clerics.”

Saadeh grew up under the oppressive occupation of his home by a foreign power. His visionary ideology touched on issues that still make headlines today, even as he wrote about them almost 100 years ago. His warnings about potential threats to Syria and the Middle East still ring true. But kingdoms built on the shifting sands of the Middle East may one day blow away in the hot desert winds and take their Western masters along in the whirlwind.    

 

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HUNDREDS OF NUSRA TERRORISTS SURRENDER IN LEBANON – By Ziad Fadel

RUSSIA TODAY NEEDS TUNE UP; THOUSANDS OF SYRIAN TROOPS PUSH TOWARD DZ

The fighting on the border between Syria and Lebanon has intensified with reports of hundreds of Nusra/Alqaeda terrorists surrendering to the Lebanese army, HZB and the SAA.  With no hope of resupply, (see below) these supposed “jihadists” have finally figured out that God is not on their side after all.  It appears their god has abandoned them, sending them a hint that their cause may not have been as worthy as they thought.  With that in mind and their wretched families screaming for some modicum of peace, the rodents are breaking with their own tradition and raising white flags everywhere in the ‘Arsaal Area.

On the Syrian side, at Faleeta, it looks very grim for Alqaeda.  The Syrian government is not as forgiving as the one in Beirut.  Moreover, Syria has something Lebanon doesn’t have:  an air force.  And Syrian bombers have been flying night and day firing missiles at ever-compromised fortifications built up by the nearly-starving rodents.  My source in Damascus writes that there will be a serious hygiene issue once all terrorist defenses collapse with rotting carcasses dotting the mountainous area.  Such conditions sometimes result in contagion.  He has informed me that Syria’s medical  establishment is preparing for this eventuality.

____________________________________

DAMASCUS:  July 25, 2017.  A huge shipment of arms and ammunition was seized in the Damascus rural east by elements of the SAA’s Military Intelligence anti-terrorism units.  A truck was spotted with tell-tale depression of its suspension system and was ordered to pull to the side of the road.  The driver remained inside, no doubt aware of what was going to happen.  The agents found cases containing hundreds of thousands of bullets, CG cannons manufactured in the U.S., C-57 anti-tank rockets made in France, Belgian sniper rifles (NATO), telescopic lenses and rockets for RPGs.  Upon interrogation, the driver admitted to being assigned the job of delivering the load to Alqaeda in the Western Qalamoon where the rodents are being suffocated by HZB and SAA.  That battle is about to end.

____________________________________

MOSCOW:  I have a problem with Russia Today.  It’s my favorite news channel and I watch it every day religiously.  And so I was watching Oksana Boyko’s program last Saturday (“Worlds Apart”)  which was devoted to interviewing a former Pentagon agent named Matthew Kroenig whose demeanor and method of speech reminded me of Robocop.  He is now a “senior” scholar at the Atlantic Institute, a stink tank employing scores of failed diplomats and providing haven for neo-cons traitors and professional cowards.

Oksana’s problem in this instance was, in effect,  not jumping on the howling mistakes this Kroenig made on the air.  For example, she could have easily pounced on him when he admitted to supporting the ouster of Dr. Assad when he was at the Pentagon.  She could have mentioned that such an effort was in violation of international law and continued to probe into whether or not this Kroenig believed that such violations were acceptable.  She did not jump on that point even though I was trying to coach her by sending mental messages across the airwaves.

This Kroenig is symptomatic of what is wrong with the U.S.. Completely and utterly ignorant to a fault, he presented on her program with a stiff-upper-lip robot-like mien designed to project superiority.  What happened instead was the observer getting the feeling this imbecile was manufactured out of wax; he was incapable of demonstrating any of his ideas with supportive evidence relegating himself to the tiresome label of “talking head”.  Oksana did not exploit the opportunity to destroy this macabre creep.

He said ridiculous things on the air.  With a totally straight face, he denigrated Russia to the status of a “regional” troublemaker no different from North Korea or Iran.  This, despite the fact that Russia has a global naval presence and the ability, like the U.S., to destroy this earth many times over.  Russia is also challenging the U.S. in so many regions that his statements should have been used effectively to cast doubt on his credibility.

For example, he stated that the Russian economy was the size of Italy’s.  Oksana should have answered that the Italians don’t control the natural gas flow to Europe and that if Russia wanted to strangle the Italian economy, it could do so by tightening the spigot over at Gazprom.  Neither Italy nor the U.S. had that kind of power.

Oksana is quite adventurous.  She invites all kinds of cretins on her program like Charles Kupchan who desperately tried to ostracize Russia.  Kupchan talked a lot like Robert Ford with his nasal tone virtually announcing unctuousness and sleaze.  But, her one major obstacle might be that English is a second language for her.  I bet that if she was thinking in her native Russian, she would have smashed Kroenig with rapier-like debating points.  Well, Kroenig can’t even speak English well enough so let’s forget about this improbable scenario.

In any case, Kroenig was a sitting duck who should have been targeted for humiliation.  To her credit, Oksana got the last bite in when she concluded her show by mentioning the guest’s complete lack of credibility.  She said that with a smile.  That was very nice coming from a pretty Russian lady.

 

 

 

Read more at https://syrianperspective.com/2017/07/hundreds-of-nusra-terrorists-surrender-in-lebanon-russia-today-needs-tune-up-thousands-of-syrian-troops-push-toward-dz.html#VWrJvseSf2xl33vh.99

Pepe Escobar – Empire of Whiners – By Pepe Escobar

© AFP 2017/ Mark Ralston
People walk amongst US national flags erected by students and staff from Pepperdine University as they pay their respects to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, at their campus in Malibu, California.

As a new report by the Army War College tracks the loss of “US primacy” around the world, it prescribes more of the same; propaganda, surveillance and war.

It’s public knowledge that from the point of view of the Pentagon, the United States faces five existential threats: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorism, in that order. Way beyond rhetoric, all Pentagon actions should be understood and analyzed under this framework.

Now global public opinion may have access to an even more intriguing document; a new study by the Army War College titled At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World. Readers are actively encouraged to download it and study the fine print.

Researcher Nafeez Ahmed has proposed some helpful decoding of this “post-primacy” predicament, that took virtually ten months to be put together.

The intellectual firepower concerned involved all sections of the Pentagon scattered around the world, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Intelligence Council, and proverbial neocon-heavy think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for the Study of War.

All that for what? To announce the obvious – that the US has lost its “primacy”; and to propose more of the same, as in Orwellian surveillance; “strategic manipulation of perceptions”, a.k.a. propaganda; and a “wider and more flexible” military, as in more wars.

If this is the best US military “intelligence” can come up with, peer competitors Russia and China might as well grab a gin and tonic and relax by the pool.

Oh you damn revisionists

The study is a classic piece of myopic Exceptionalism – which might at least allow for some entertaining value if presented with some rhetorical flourish.

Russia and China are duly described as “revisionist forces” (doesn’t that sound like Mao in the 1950s?) which should be prevented from pursuing their own legitimate national interests. Why? Because that represents a threat that undermines US hegemony.

Readers of the study should desist from finding any concrete evidence that both Russia and China pose a serious threat to US national security. They should rely on US corporate media, which blares all these “threats” 24/7.

It gets curioser and curioser when it comes to Iran and North Korea – both also demonized non-stop by media and US Think Tankland. The problem is not that they pose a nuclear threat; the problem is they are obstacles to the smooth expansion of the “US-led order.”

In parallel, what really irks US military intel are “murkier, less obvious forms of state-based aggression”. As in the “threat” represented by Sputnik and RT, for instance.

“Facts”, any real facts that challenge the legitimacy of the hegemon are considered by the study as a major driver of US decline. OK, the Pentagon does not do irony, so don’t expect any expert to acknowledge that these real facts simultaneously unmask the Empire’s actions and debunk its rhetoric.

The study’s circular logic is a hostage of – what else – imperial logic; US military power is essentially depicted as a key tool to coerce and force other nations into following the Empire’s diktats.

Which leads those “experts” to bomb the concept of defense to smithereens – and turn it into offense; the Empire always reserves itself the right to go heavy metal when it pleases. If any actor questions this sovereign imperial right – for instance, North Korea launching a missile or China creating facts on the South China Sea – this becomes a threat, and it must be eliminated.

Even progressive US analysts still don’t get why, after a short 70 years of hegemony, American geopolitical primacy in Eurasia is at an end. As much as the internal war between Trump and the deep state may be accelerating the process, this is still all about the post-9/11 world.

The adventures of the War Party – from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria; the US government’s astonishing, unpayable debt; the steady erosion of the petrodollar; the inexorable march of Eurasia integration – reflected in US military obsession with the three key vectors, China, Russia and Iran.

These are only some of the factors involved.

Beijing and Moscow don’t need to be reminded by studies like this of the real game – as in US proxy wars deployed from Ukraine to the South China Sea with the ultimate target of disrupting the 21st century’s top story; Eurasia connectivity.

Same for Tehran, which identifies very well the multiple machinations, instrumentalizing the GCC petrodollar gang, aimed at perpetuating a Sunni-Shi’ite fratricidal war.

Which brings us to “the next war” insistently monopolizing the rumor mill in the Beltway. Were the US government foolish enough to provoke a war against Iran, that would be due to the Exceptionalism mindset; an economy where endless war is the only tool to boost GDP and pay off debts; deep state hegemony; and the eternal Return of the (Neocon) Living Dead inside Think Tankland, the CIA and the Pentagon itself.

“Post-primacy”? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Australia – Goodbye Internet Privacy, Hello Police State – By Ryan Jones (Sott.net)

It hasn’t been a Good News Week over the last seven days in Australia. You all remember us, right? We may be on the other side of the world, way down under, and not very significant politically, but as a vassal of the American empire, what happens down here is usually pretty indicative of what’s happening in the rest of the “international community”. So let’s see what this latest week had in store for us.

On Friday morning, the 14th of July, the prime minister of the ‘Lucky Country’ informed the multiverse that math was no longer relevant in Australia. Here’s the quote:

Malcolm Turnbull: “Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.

Apparently, laws written by politicians and enforced by judges and juries, can somehow overrule basic mathematical concepts such as “1+1=2”, proven in the early 20th century and documented in the Principia Mathematica by Whitehead & Russell, and intuitively known by humans for millennia if not longer. Clearly, Malcolm Turnbull has joined the neocon “reality creator” club, where a person can just “act” and the rest of us can then “judiciously” study the ‘reality’ they just supposedly created. The laws of government trump those that govern reality. Obviously.

The larger agenda behind this bizarrely stupid comment concerns the security agencies of the “Five Eyes” governments and their desire to remove the last vestiges of privacy from the Internet, and thus hopefully achieve “full spectrum dominance” in the face of an empowered Eurasia.

On Friday, the government unveiled plans to introduce legislation this year that would force internet companies to assist law enforcement in decrypting messages sent with end-to-end encryption.The package will also contain authority for the Australian Federal Police to “remotely monitor computer networks and devices”, a power currently possessed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and force handset makers to help authorities break into devices they sell.

End-to-end encryption is exactly what the name suggests – encryption that secures the communication from the point of transmission from one participant to the point of reception for all others, and vice versa. If the communication is facilitated by intermediaries, all those intermediaries will see will be encrypted data, with no way for any of them to obtain the information in the communication. Popular software such as “Signal”, “Telegram”, and even Apple’s proprietary iMessage software use end-to-end encryption to preserve the integrity and privacy of the information their users receive and transmit.

The complex mathematics that encryption is based upon make it very difficult to ‘unscramble’ a ‘scrambled’ message via automated, sequential calculation in a reasonable amount of time – unless you have the ‘password’ (or ‘key’) that simplifies the ‘unscrambling’ (decryption) process. As the computation capabilities of modern computers have rapidly increased over the last few decades, encryption methods have needed to change in order to prevent unauthorised decryption from becoming something that could be accomplished quickly. There are also ways to analyse cryptographic methods (algorithms) in order to find ‘short-cuts’ through the mathematics that don’t require massive repetitions of calculations in order to decrypt encrypted messages. This is commonly referred to as ‘breaking’ or ‘cracking’ the algorithm. MD5 and SHA-1 are examples of two common, long-standing cryptographic functions that have been made insecure by advances in mathematical knowledge. The debate over whether ‘uncrackable’ cryptography is a fantasy is a long-standing one, and beyond the scope of this article.

Regardless of what Australian PM “Trumble”, as he was famously called by Sean Spicer (or “Truffles” as he’s also known in Australia) may think, what they are attempting to achieve is insanely difficult. Australian Attorney­ General (and apparent flaming psychopath) George Brandis stated to the prime minister that he was informed by the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency that the government’s plan to bust encrypted messages is possible:

“Last Wednesday, I met with the chief cryptographer at GCHQ … and he assured me this was feasible. What the government is proposing to do is to impose upon the companies an obligation conditioned by reasonableness and proportionality.” Brandis said that if the companies that are compelled by these laws disagree, then he will see them in court.

Clearly, the tech giants aren’t impressed, because only a few hours after this statement, Facebook issued a response saying: “Weakening encrypted systems for them [police] would mean weakening it for everyone” and “[there is] a protocol in place to respond to [law enforcement] requests where we can.” Apple declined to even comment on the matter. Having stood up to the FBI over national-security-related bullying in the San Bernardino false-flag terror case, it’s unlikely that Apple (or any other major tech company) will even pause stride at the Trumble government’s announcement.

That being said, is there any truth to the GCHQ chief cryptographer’s advice to Brandis? It would be stupid to assume that Brandis did not first check with Australian security agencies (ASIO, and possibly the ASD) to verify the claims made by GCHQ before the government potentially opened themselves to a public fight that could make them look like clueless retards and put the final nail into the coffin of their government. This means we can reasonably conclude that the Aussie ‘deep state’ is in accord with its UK kindred, and most likely the rest of the “Five Eyes” group as well. And who invented these near-ubiquitous encryption algorithms? The NSA of course – part of the infamous US ‘deep state’!

What it all boils down to is this: if the government and tech companies can bypass encryption, that essentially means the encryption is not really encryption. And when one person or organization can bypass it, someone else can too. And that defeats the purpose of encryption entirely, which is to protect the privacy of the average citizen. If you think privacy isn’t important, next time you’re talking to a friend or family member on the phone, imagine if the conversation was being automatically listened to by a government official. How does that make you feel?

So, if the Masters of Encryption need to show the Tech Giants who the real ‘boss’ is by publicly humiliating them through triggering their ‘secret weapon’ of flawed encryption of their own creation, surely they risk a) causing massive disruption to the infrastructure of the Internet (and any commerce that depends on it) and b) losing a key strategic advantage in surveillance technology – after all, the “190 Eyes” of the rest of the world will immediately shift to a different technology to secure their systems, and may become opaque to the “Five”.

Thus, if they intend to do so, they must see a benefit to be had after emerging from such chaos. And if such a benefit exists, why have they not put this strategy into motion already? There are several converging factors to consider here:

  1. The US Petrodollar is collapsing, and as a result, so is the US economy.
  2. The US is being militarily stymied in its quest for resource dominance in the Middle East.
  3. Russian and Chinese high-tech industries are beginning to catch up to (and even exceed) those in the US.
  4. Years of cyber attacks against Russian infrastructure have been yielding no results, and Russian cyber security may actually be superior to US cyber warfare capabilities.
  5. The current US Trump Administration is openly defiant of attempts to have democratic processes and leadership roles in the US manipulated in the customary way.
  6. Solar Systemic Changes producing a global climate shift have been underway for decades, and the effects of drastic climate rebalancing may soon become more palpable to all across the world, potentially causing mass social upheaval in the most inequitable countries.

Another data point is what the Australian PM did next. On Monday morning, the 17th, he announced:

changes to the “call out” powers which will empower the military to join local police in confronting terror threats and grant special forces the ability to shoot-to-kill. […] Australian barrister and spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance Greg Barns likened the new military powers legislation to “martial law”, when military control is imposed over civilian government during war. “Martial law, from Malcolm Turnbull, who last week said the Liberal Party stood for freedom”. Former Department of Defence secretary Paul Barrett also took to social media to warn Australians of his concerns over what he interpreted as “very dangerous legislation”.

© The Sydney Morning Herald

Announced in front of heavily-armed, gas mask-clad Special Forces troops (the photos speak for themselves), not even two days after the shooting death of an Australian woman by trigger-happy police in the US, the new laws take all the worst aspects of militarized policing directly from France & the US, effectively giving Australian troops legal immunity if they were ever ordered to kill Australian citizens.

Not surprisingly, the Australian mainstream media responded with… nothing. Or rather, just brief reports of the main facts before pointedly moving on to other stories. Even most of the alt-media was fairly quiet. Or course, they didn’t have much time to reflect upon it, because with a “one-two” that would have made Muhammad Ali proud, Trumble was back in front of the cameras the next day to announce the formation of Australia’s new Gestap… err… “Department of Home Affairs”. It seems “Home Office” and “Homeland Security” were already taken.

Actually, “Home Affairs” is an appropriate name, because it reflects the kind of adulterous relationship the Australian government has with its ex (the UK government) and legal partner (the US government). Australia will happily bend over whenever the US asks, but it seems like it just has to run back to the UK every so often for a bit of that “stiff upper lovin’ “, as former avowed Republican Turnbull did just the previous week. I guess he and his compadres needed some advice.

The new ministerial portfolio of ‘Home Affairs’ is a merger of oversight responsibilities for no less than six existing agencies – the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Office of Transport Security.

The entity placed in charge of this new behemoth security apparatus was none other than former Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton. Overseas readers may be familiar with his name – he has been responsible (in recent years) for destroying Australia’s international reputation and overseeing the crushing of all hope of refugees in the Australian deterrence… sorry… ‘detention’ centres of Manus Island & Nauru, a role where he committed such devoted acts of service as:

As David Donovan at Independent Australia writes:

“…there simply couldn’t be a better person for the role of running Australia’s new Austasi. As a former Queensland drug cop who quite unsuspiciously became extremely wealthy soon after leaving the force, there is no reason whatsoever to fear he may use his position for his own benefit. Perish the thought! His incorruptibility is, as we all know, legendary. And, of course, he will be firm but fair – as shown by his sensitive and not at all human rights abusing tenure overlooking Australia’s overseas refugee holiday camps.”

Sarah Smith, also at Independent Australia, writes:

“Refugee advocates have long-warned that what the Government sees fit to do to refugees, they are capable of doing to Australians. Still, we were not joined in the streets by millions protesting the detention and deportation of people who – just like them – called Australia home. The protests numbered only in the thousands and, when this was seen to be insufficient to sway the government to end their inhumane policies, the numbers did not grow. So perhaps it is fitting that on this, the four year anniversary of a decision that has caused suicides, deaths from medical negligence, physical and psychological impairment, and has been described as “inhuman” by the United Nations, we are now party to a new decision. A decision that will affect all of us and, if it doesn’t personally cost us our liberty or our lives, has the potential to do so for our families, our friends, our teachers, our students, our neighbours and our colleagues.”

Ominously, these rapid-fire blitzkriegs on freedom in Australia were marked by another set of seemingly unrelated events. Two sitting senators for the Green party, widely recognised as excellent, intelligent individuals and each unique among their peers in the Upper House of the Australian Parliament, were forced to resign suddenly when it was discovered that they held dual citizenship of Australia and a second country.

Section 44 of the Australian Constitution forbids dual-national citizens from taking up a post as an elected Member of Parliament in Australia, so there was no legal uncertainty about the situation. Normally such details are checked by multiple people (assistants, lawyers, etc.) in major political parties, but the oversight has cost them and their country dearly. Both were the co-deputy leaders of their party. Richard Di Natale, leader of the Greens, the party that represents the environment in Australian politics, temporarily stands alone while new deputies are appointed and replacement Senators found for the vacated seats.

Significantly, one of the former senators, Scott Ludlam, was considered to be one of the most knowledgeable politicians in Parliament regarding the Internet and Information Technology – he announced his retirement the same day that Malcolm Turnbull (widely viewed as one of the primary saboteurs of the Labor-party­-designed National Broadband Network) announced that the Laws of mathematics were irrelevant when it came to law in Australia.

The other former senator, Larissa Waters, made headlines not long ago by becoming the first Australian MP to breastfeed her baby daughter, Alia Joy Waters, while delivering an address to the Senate. She was generally applauded for this courageous act.

Malcom Turnbull’s placing of Peter Dutton in a position of such power is an egregious mistake that he will live to regret. Andrew Lobaczewski, in his seminal work Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes made the following observation about leaders of totalitarian regimes, but the main point applies just as well to the government of Australia:

“An observer watching such a union’s [the current Australian LNP government] activities from the outside and using the natural psychological world view will always tend to overestimate the role of the leader and his allegedly autocratic function. The spellbinders and the propaganda apparatus are mobilized to maintain this erroneous outside opinion.”

Many Australians fervently believe that their Prime Minister holds absolute power as the head of government, and to a certain extent, the mainstream media support this current delusion. Since 2009 though, awareness is creeping in that political parties in Australia have the power to ‘chop and change’ their leader at will, and this has been observed numerous times since Kevin Rudd was deposed as PM in 2010 – he ousted Julia Gillard a few years later, then Tony Abbott was dispatched similarly after winning government for the LNP. Media (even mainstream media) speculation has been rife that Turnbull’s current grip on power is shaky at best, but no obvious usurper has been identified yet.

“The leader, however, is dependent upon the interests of the union, especially the elite initiates, to an extent greater than he himself knows. He wages a constant position-jockeying battle; he is an actor with a director. In macrosocial unions, this position is generally occupied by a more representative individual not deprived of certain critical faculties; initiating him into all those plans and criminal calculations would be counterproductive.”

One of the reasons Turnbull was able to seize power from Abbott was that he was able to convince the majority of the LNP that he represented a ‘moderate’, ‘rational’, and ‘sensible’ approach compared with the idiotic extremism of Tony Abbott, a man who humiliated his country and even more so himself, by threatening to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting of 2015 when it was held in Brisbane. Arguably, that was the foolhardy move that finished Abbott’s short-lived career as Australian PM.

Turnbull has always been considered a ‘leftist among conservatives’ in the LNP, based on his Republican movement background, ‘scientific’ approach to climate change (according to the mainstream perspective), and superficial grasp of technology issues. Although this gave him (and the government) a large popularity boost when he took over from Abbott, he has repeatedly been manipulated into making bad decisions that have possibly eroded his ability to truly assert himself as a leader strong enough to control the extremist elements in his ponerized party. With this latest series of announcements, he seems to have crossed a certain threshold of delusion, and appears to be embracing (and publicly expounding) pathological ideas.

In conjunction with part of the elite, a group of psychopathic individuals hiding behind the scenes steers the leader, the way Bormann and his clique steered Hitler. If the leader does not fulfill his assigned role, he generally knows that the clique representing the elite of the union is in a position to kill or otherwise remove him.

Turnbull appears to be quite aware of this now. His pronouncements and press conferences have taken on the tone of someone who is saying what he believes he should say, rather than what he thinks. Unfortunately, his delusions and lack of knowledge are blinding him to the fact that only those with bonafide psychopathy are considered to be candidates for the ‘elite’ within a pathocracy, and so he will never be told the full story. He will be used as a puppet, and discarded once he is no longer of value to them. Perhaps he has been held hostage to the nutjobs within his party for so long now that he has developed some sort of political ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. In any case, his critical thinking abilities seem to have atrophied to the point where it is unlikely he will ever achieve what he had hoped to by becoming prime minister.

And the spider, Peter Dutton, appears to have received the ‘nod’ from the elites within the party to proceed with the hidden agenda of ‘reforming’ Australia’s security apparatus and bending it to their will, so that Australian citizens will soon wake up to find themselves in a similar sort of situation as their UK siblings – spied upon at every turn, intimidated into self-censorship, blasted continually with propaganda, and manipulated into proceeding down the path that is planned for them: focusing their attention on the goals and outcomes that the so-called ‘elites’ desire, one of which is to continue to turn public opinion against both Russia and China.

But Russia has already called the empire’s bluff militarily. The likelihood of an all-out ‘scorched earth’ nuclear war has come and gone with Hillary Clinton. Faced with the failure of their keystone ‘regime change’ foreign policy in Syria, Iran, and North Korea (by which they attempted to contain, isolate, besiege, and dominate Russia & China), the Project for a New American Century, and the neoconservatives behind it, are finished. With the recent death of Zbigniew Brezinski, one of the masterminds of anti-Russian geopolitical strategy is gone. Is it simply coincidence that John McCain, one of the chief neocon warmongers in the US government, was just diagnosed with brain cancer? There have been renewed calls for Tony Blair to be held accountable for war crimes in Iraq, and John Howard receives criticism every time he makes a public appearance in Australia.

So what is the empire’s ‘Plan B’?

Thus we return to the subject of encryption, and the converging factors that point to a reaction by the “Five Eyes” into making final preparations to ‘pull the trigger’ on their Information ‘secret weapon’: to remove effective encryption capabilities for private citizens while simultaneously creating vulnerabilities in systems all around the world that could be quickly exploited to further a coordinated agenda. What comprises such an agenda might be highly speculative, but consider that with the moves in the West toward cashless economies, an automated workforce, and militarised police states, a situation noted by many alt-­media commentators and writers may be plausible: that a ‘global economic reset’ is in the works. And consider that without encryption, or more specifically, the commercial confidence that encryption enables, blockchain-based virtual currencies such as BitCoin will become useless.

Given the sudden development of an economic collapse, the U.S. ‘deep state’ would only need to activate such a plan, and not only would it disrupt global encrypted communications using the trojan protocols, but the financial consequences would be magnified many times over, and it could all be blamed upon ‘cybercrime activity by mysterious hacker groups’ with ridiculous names and unlikely origins. Note how many sets of military-grade cyber-weaponry have made it into the public domain over the last few years via ‘leaks’.

While such a ‘bigger picture’ is highly speculative, the prognosis for Australia is, sadly, less speculative. Rather than embracing the opportunities offered by an ascendant Eurasia, the Turnbull government, in thrall to its security agencies (and those of the UK and the USA), has once again doubled-down on the failed policies of a dying empire. Rather than foreswearing the “Five Eyes” and charting their own course, it seems Australian politicians are too addicted to power and cheap spy novels to make sensible and rational decisions.

Perhaps, after a little more time, experience and of course suffering, the Australian people will understand the nature of the creatures that currently occupy their Parliament, and choose to do something about it.

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