Actually, Iran is Complying With the Nuclear Agreement but the U.S. Isn’t – by Darius Shahtahmasebi (MINT PRESS)

Targeting Iran by Carlos Latuff for MintPress News

U.S. (and its allies) ‘to prevent interference with the realisation of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting specified’ in the deal. Section 29 commits the U.S. and Europe to ‘refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.’ Section 33 commits them to ‘agree on steps to ensure Iran’s access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy.’”

Press review: What’s the next US game plan for Syria and IS terrorists changing tactics – By TASS

April 27, 13:00 UTC+3

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, April 27

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Kommersant: US and allies looking for new ways of resolving Syrian conflict

Russia, Turkey and Iran are getting ready for new talks on Syria in Astana scheduled to be held for May 14. As part of these preparations, Moscow will host a meeting of the three countries’ top diplomats on April 28.

Meanwhile, Washington and its European allies are discussing alternative plans for settling the Syrian crisis. The issue topped the agenda during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the United States, where Paris and Washington agreed to push ahead with efforts to counter-balance Iran’s and Russia’s role in resolving the Syrian conflict.

Experts interviewed by the paper did not rule out that some Arab countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (in contrast to Egypt), could take part in the Syrian operation provided that the Americans and their European allies remain there.

 

According to Grigory Kosach, Professor of the Modern East Department of History, Political Science and Law at the Russian State University for the Humanities, attempts are being made to “float trial balloons, mulling various options and difference alliance.” Anyway, an unpleasant trend for Russia is obvious, the expert noted. “Our relations with Saudi Arabia, which have barely emerged, may collapse, the alliance with Turkey on Syria, fragile as it is, will be jeopardized. We can remain alone with Iran,” Kosach stressed.

Kirill Semyonov, an expert with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), told the paper that the issue at hand is setting up “an alternative Syrian project” in the north of that country where the funds allocated by the Gulf states will be used, while there is shortage of money to rebuild the country in other parts of Syria. “This is a matter of concern for Moscow, Tehran and Damascus,” he stressed.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Islamic State changing tactics, notes expert

Spokesman for the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia), Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, has addressed supporters on behalf of the group’s leaders.

The message contained the traditional threats against all those who do not support or are opposed to IS. Along with recognizing the challenges the organization is facing, it described the Washington-declared victory over the Islamic State as illusory, Nikolay Plotnikov, Head of the Center for Scientific and Analytical Information at the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Oriental Studies, wrote in his article published by Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The Islamic State’s chief propagandist in particular called on the citizens of Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq to refrain from going to the polling stations, adding that the group’s supporters should derail the election process.

Last Sunday’s suicide bombings in Kabul and in the city of Pul-e Khomri (in northern Afghanistan) demonstrated that these are not just idle threats, the expert pointed out.

He stressed that IS terrorists stepped up their activities both in Iraq, especially in the provinces bordering Syria, and in Syria itself.

“There are IS militants in Syria’s areas controlled by official Damascus and in those areas where the Syrian government’s control has not yet been restored. While Syrian state forces backed by Russia and Iran continue to consistently and methodically eliminate the remaining IS enclaves, the situation in the areas controlled by US troops is different,” Plotnikov writes.

IS units continue to operate in a vast area in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the US military. There are about 2,000 US troops there.

The expert is certain that fighting Islamic State is just a pretext for grabbing control over Syrian oil. “That means that all statements made by [US President Donald Trump] about the speedy withdrawal from Eastern Syria will remain nothing but words. Besides, the US president can hardly resist the persistent requests from the European Union, specifically, French President Emmanuel Macron, who would like the US to remain in Syria even after the war against the Islamic State is over in order to create ‘a new Syria’, together with its allies,” he stressed.

 

RBC: Armenian protests aim to fight corruption and poor governance, opposition leader asserts

The Armenian parliament is expected to endorse the country’s new prime minister on May 1. The move comes amid mass protests that have swept the country. The opposition insists that leader of the Yelq faction MP Nikol Pashinyan be elected to the post.

Pashinyan stated in an interview with RBC that the most important thing for the Armenian opposition is honest and legitimate elections. “We will guarantee such elections, regardless of whether we win or lose,” he said.

According to the protest leader, the events that occurred in Armenia over the past two weeks have changed a lot in people’s thinking. “Just a month ago, many in Armenia thought they cannot decide anything at all. Now I am sure that people understand the situation and their role in the country’s future, and that changes a lot. These changes are another factor that guarantees free elections.”

Referring to his recent meeting with the Russian ambassador, Pashinyan noted that among the issues discussed at it was “how Russia can contribute to efforts to resolve this situation.”

“This [protest] movement has no geopolitical context whatsoever,” he emphasized. “This is not a movement against Russia or the United States or the European Union or against Iran or against Georgia. This is a movement against corruption, against inefficient governance, and this is a purely internal Armenian movement. I am glad that Russian officials say they have no intention of meddling in Armenia’s internal processes, the more so since there is no geopolitical context here and no anti-Russian sentiment at all.”

 

Izvestia: Victory Day marches to be held in Ukraine despite extremists’ provocations

The Immortal Regiment processions to memorialize those who fought in the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945 will be held on May 9 in many Ukrainian cities. The events to mark Victory Day are expected to bring together at least one million people this year, the organizers informed Izvestia.

“The Immortal Regiment marches are expected to be held in many Ukrainian cities. In addition to Kiev, that’s Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk), Nikolayev and Zaporozhye. Some events will be held in Lvov. Over 600,000 people took part in such processions last year, while this year we expect at least one million people to join them. Not a single event held by the authorities brought together such a large number of participants,” the Immortal Regiment organizers said.

The organizers added that they are ready for any incitement by extremists who, just like in previous years, are gearing up for counteractions with the connivance of the Ukrainian authorities. Searches were earlier conducted at the apartments of the movement’s activists and volunteers in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. In light of that, the march organizers decided to seek support from human rights activists and politicians.

“Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko (2011-2014) said he was willing to help. Televised round-table panels attended by lawyers and activists are planned as well. They will tell people how to behave with law enforcement officers, what they need to know if they are apprehended and what kind of provocations can be expected on May 9,” the movement’s coordinators said.

Difficulties surrounding Victory Day celebrations stem from Kiev’s new policy aimed at glorifying Nazi henchmen, demolishing and vandalizing Soviet-era monuments and other steps aimed at rewriting history.

 

Vedomosti: Russia’s middle class returns to cautious pre-crisis optimism

The sentiment of the urban middle class in Russia improved during the first quarter of 2018 almost reaching the pre-crisis level of mid-2014, Vedomosti writes citing data provided by Sberbank, Russia’s biggest banking and financial conglomerate.

According to Sberbank’s consumer confidence index, the so-called well-being index, that is, the difference between those who believe their incomes have dropped and those sharing opposite views, rose from -18% in the first quarter of 2017 to -12% in early 2018 (compared to -6% in 2014).

A total of 2,300 people in 164 Russian cities with a population of more than 100,000 people were interviewed for this survey.

Just like a year ago, the middle class considers corruption and unemployment the biggest challenges to the country’s economy (the share of unemployed people within this group dropped by 1 percentage point to 9.9%).

The economy has stabilized, there are no more drops in incomes for a sizeable part of the population. All that led to a rise in consumer optimism and confidence in prospects for the future, the paper quotes Natalia Akindinova, Director of the Center of Development at the Higher School of Economics, as saying. However, the sanctions and exchange rate fluctuations can have an adverse effect on the middle class’ consumer expectations, in particular, its willingness to invest in real estate, expensive cars and the desire to travel, she noted. However, if the West does not impose new restrictive measures and Russia does not come up with tit-for-tat steps, which always affect consumers’ welfare, the economic situation is unlikely to deteriorate, and people’s sentiment will hardly change, the expert added.

 

More:
http://tass.com/pressreview/1002052

Skripal case: British confirm they have no suspect; Yulia Skripal vanishes, no word of Sergey Skripal – By Alexander Mercouris ( THE DURAN)

Amidst speculation that British government has imposed reporting restrictions, British authorities admit they have no suspect in Skripal case

A week ago the British media were full of reports from the usual anonymous sources of a breakthrough in the Skripal case.

Allegedly the British authorities by comparing CCTV pictures from Salisbury and details of travellers to and from Britain had been to identify the persons who were supposedly responsible for the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.

These stories came with further stories of a Russian James Bond style assassin – “Gordon” aka “Mihails Savickis” – who together with his team had supposedly carried out the attack.

The stories about “Gordon” aka “Mihails Savickis” came with a bizarre identikit picture supposedly of him, which was too ridiculous to take seriously.

In an article I wrote for The Duran on 24th April 2018 I expressed skepticism about these claims

…….it looks to me as if despite all the claims to the contrary the police investigation of the Skripal case has made little actual progress.  The British seem to have little more knowledge of who carried out the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal and why than they did when the investigation began.  Could it possibly be because they are looking in the wrong place?

Testimony by Sir Mark Sedwill, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s National Security Adviser, to the House of Commons Defence Committee on 1st May 2018 has now revealed that all the claims about a breakthrough in the Skripal case – not to mention the claims about “Gordon” aka “Mihails Savickis” – were (as I suspected) nonsense.

Here is how Sir Mark Sedwill’s testimony is reported by The Guardian

Police and intelligence agencies have failed so far to identify the individual or individuals who carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, the UK’s national security adviser has disclosed.

The comments by Sir Mark Sedwill punctured hopes that the police and other security agencies had pinpointed suspects but were withholding the name or names from the public.

Asked by an MP at a Commons defence committee hearing if he knew the individuals responsible, he replied curtly: “Not yet.”

Sedwill, who coordinates the work of the MI6, MI5, the surveillance agency GCHQ and others, did not elaborate but among problems that have hampered the agencies is a lack of CCTV coverage in Salisbury compared with London. Known Russian spies based in Britain have also been investigated and ruled out.

In other words the investigation is going nowhere and has drawn a complete blank.

All this comes hot on the heels of suggestions – which are very likely true – that the wall of silence which has recently descended on the British media’s reporting of the Skripal case is the product of a British government D-Notice, ie. of a formal request by the British government to the media to limit their coverage of the Skripal story on grounds of national security.

It has also been suggested that despite formal denials the most likely reason for the D-Notice is the desire of the British authorities to conceal a possible connection between Sergey Skripal, his former MI6 controller Pablo Miller, and Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier.

There are even suggestions that Sergey Skripal may have had a hand in producing the Trump Dossier, and that this was the reason for the attack on him.

Whilst all this may be true, I have to say that Sergey Skripal – identified as a British spy by the Russians in 2004 and isolated from Russia in the leafy British town of Salisbury since 2010 – seems an unlikely source for the Trump Dossier, largely fictitious though that strange concoction is.

Moreover speculation that it was Skripal’s connection to the Trump Dossier that was the cause of the attack on him and that it is what has provoked the D-Notice – assuming it even exists – is for the moment pure speculation unsupported by fact.

To my mind a much greater cause for immediate concern is the fate of Sergey and Yulia Skripal.

On 11th April 2018 Yulia Skripal – supposedly now sufficiently recovered from the effect of the attack on her – was discharged from Salisbury Hospital.

The British police released a statement from her which spoke warmly of her family and of the attempts of the Russian consulate to contact her, but which at the same appeared to reject their offers of help.

As many have pointed out, this statement was clearly written by a native British speaker and not by Yulia Skripal herself, though it probably does reflect at least some of her views.

By way of example, the warm words about her family and about the Russian consulate in the statement appear to contradict earlier reports that she was intending to claim political asylum in Britain and had become hostile to Russia.

Since then we have heard nothing directly from Yulia Skripal at all, and there is no information about her whereabouts.

Instead we have heard at second hand and from the usual anonymous sources the strange story from a week ago of her unsuccessful attempts since her discharge to contact her fiancé Stepan Vikeev in Russia.

Meanwhile of Yulia’s father Sergey Skripal we have heard nothing since 7th April 2018, when he was reported to be recovering strongly.

There is however no information about his present condition, though he is still presumably a patient in Salisbury Hospital.  I say this because there is no word that he has been discharged.

The Skripals – father and daughter – have for the time being vanished into a memory hole.

That is something which should be concerning, and the fact that there are no reports about it in the British media does suggest that a D-Notice exists, and moreover that it is principally about them.

If so then then given that a D-Notice is supposed to be used only in matters which affect national security, that is a very remarkable fact indeed.

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US plan of last push against ISIS raises specter of Syria partition – By RT

 US plan of last push against ISIS raises specter of Syria partition
Announcing the start of military operations against the remaining strongholds of Islamic State, the US State Department included some pointed language, hinting at de facto partition of Syria, analysts tell RT.

“The days of ISIS controlling territory and terrorizing the people of Syria are coming to an end,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday.The operations will be conducted by the US-led coalition and local partners, including the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces.

The US will also work with Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon to “secure their borders” from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Nauert said. This is intriguing, because the only remaining IS presence is near the Iraqi border, with a pocket south of Damascus currently being cleared out by Syrian government forces.

Nauert also said the US will ensure there is a “strong and lasting footprint” in Syria so that IS cannot return and the liberated populations “are not exploited by the Assad regime or its Iranian supporters.”

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed the “No Assistance for Assad Act,” or HR 4681. If approved by the Senate, it would mandate that any US funds for recovery, reconstruction or stabilization in Syria “should be used only in a democratic Syria or in areas of Syria not controlled by a government led by Bashar al-Assad or associated forces.”

Between Nauert’s statement and the House bill, a question arises on whether the US intends to allow the reintegration into the Syrian state of any areas liberated from IS.

US statements supporting the territorial integrity of Syria “are only words” that serve as cover for “plans to partition Syria,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday, after a meeting with Turkish and Iranian officials in Moscow. Lavrov had also warned earlier this year about Western plans to partition Syria.

The State Department’s language is “subterfuge,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. The US and its allies intend to occupy the eastern part of Syria and partition the country, in order to “use the Sunnis in East Syria and West Iraq to form a barricade to stop any Iranian influence and cut off supplies to Hezbollah.”

Washington’s objectives are aligned with the axis between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Maloof added, with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hoping the US will fight Iran for Israel.

“They will go alone if they have to and drag the US into it,” Maloof told RT. “We’re getting sucked into another war.”  

Nauert’s reference to a “future political settlement that honors the will of all Syrians, including Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen, and other minorities” could mean either regime change or some form of partition, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT. The State Department notably made no mention of Shia or Alawite Syrians.

“Even if the Syrian government headed by President Assad remains in power in the west,” Jatras said, “de facto or de jure areas will be created for Kurds and particularly Sunnis.” The reference to Turkmen could signal the possibility of permanent Turkish presence in, or even annexation of, some parts of Syria, he added.

“ISIS is a sideshow. The real US targets are the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian backers,” Jatras said. “The stage is being set for a confrontation with Iran, in which Syria is simply one theater.”

“The reference to Christians is simply cynical. It is intended to make Americans think we give a damn about Syria’s Christians, despite seven years of arming and funding jihadists for whom Christians are prime targets for murder and enslavement,” Jatras explained.

The US has approximately 2,000 troops in Syria, who are there without legal authorization. The Russian military contingent that has aided Damascus against IS and other terrorist groups arrived in September 2015 at the government’s invitation.

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Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Banks Meet the Definition of Terrorists – by Paul Buchheit (MINT PRESS)

Big Oil

Common threads persist throughout definitions of terrorism: violence, injury or death, intimidation, intentionality, multiple targets and political motivation. Big pharma, big oil and big banks meet them all.

Various definitions of terrorism have been proposed in recent years, by organizations such as the FBI, the State DepartmentHomeland Security, and the ACLU. Some common threads persist throughout the definitions: violence, injury or death, intimidation, intentionality, multiple targets, political motivation. All the criteria are met by pharmaceutical and oil and financial companies. They have all injured and intimidated the American public, and caused people to die, with intentionality shown by their refusal to acknowledge evidence of their misdeeds, and political motives clear in their lobbying efforts, where among all U.S. industries Big Pharma is #1, Big Oil is #5, and Securities/Investment #8.

The terror inflicted on Americans is real, and is documented by the facts to follow.

 

Big Pharma: Qualifying for Trump’s Call for Capital Punishment for Drug Dealers

In a Time Magazine article a young man named Chad Colwell says “I got prescribed painkillers, Percocet and Oxycontin, and then it just kind of took off from there.” Time adds: “Prescriptions gave way to cheaper, stronger alternatives. Why scrounge for a $50 pill of Percocet when a tab of heroin can be had for $5?” About 75% of heroin addicts used prescription opioids before turning to heroin.

Any questions about Big Pharma’s role in violence and death in America have been answered by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Journal of Public Health. Any doubts about Big Pharma’s intentions to intimidate the public have been put to rest by the many occasions of outrageous price gouging. And any uncertainty about political pressure is removed by its #1 lobbying ranking.

As for malicious intentions, Bernie Sanders noted, “We know that pharmaceutical companies lied about the addictive impacts of opioids they manufactured.” Purdue Pharma knew all about the devastating addictive effects of its painkiller Oxycontin, and even pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the drug’s risk. Now Purdue and other drug companies are facing a lawsuitfor “deceptively marketing opioids” and ignoring the misuse of their drugs.

No jail for the opioid pushers, though, just slap-on-the-wrist fines that can be made up with a few price increases. But partly as a result of Pharma-related violence, Americans are suffering “deaths of despair”— death by drugs, alcohol and suicide. Suicide is at its highest level in 30 years.

 

Big Oil: Decades of Terror

Any doubts about the ecological terror caused by fossil fuel companies have been dispelled by the World Health Organization, the American Lung Association, the United Nations, the Pentagon, cooperating governments, and independent research groups, all of whom agree that human-induced climate change is killing people.

The oil industry’s intentionality and political motives have been demonstrated by their refusal to admit the known truth, starting with Exxon, which has covered up its own climate research for 40 years, and continuing through multi-million dollar lobbying efforts by Amoco, the US Chamber of Commerce, General Motors, Koch Industries, and other corporations in their effort to dismantle the Kyoto Protocol against global warming.

 

Big Banks: Leaving Suicidal Former Homeowners Behind

Any doubts about the violence stemming from the 2008 mortgage crisis have been resolved by studies of recession-caused suicides. Both the British Journal of Psychiatry and the National Institutes of Healthfound definite links between the recession and the rate of suicides.

As with Big Pharma and Big Oil, intentionality and political motives are evident in the banking industry’s lobbying efforts on behalf of deregulation — leading to the same conditions that threatened American homeowners in 2008. There has also been a surge in the number of non-bank lenders, who are less subject to regulation.

Making it all worse are private developers, who make most of their profits by building fancy homes for the rich. And by avoiding affordable housing. Since the recession, Blackstone and other private equity firms — with government subsidies — have been buying up foreclosed houses, holding them till prices appreciate, and in the interim renting them back at exorbitant prices.

This is leaving more and more Americans out in the cold — literally. A head of household in the U.S. needs to make $21.21 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at HUD standards, much more than the $16.38 they actually earn. Since the recession, the situation has continually worsened. From 2010 to 2016 the number of housing units priced for very low-income families plummeted 60 percent.

Here’s the big picture: Since the 1980s there’s been a massive redistribution of wealth from middle-class housing to the investment portfolios of people with an average net worth of $75 million. It’s not hard to understand the “deaths of despair” caused by the terror inflicted on people losing their homes.

Top Photo | Jared Rodriguez/Truthout

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet, where it first appeared.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Financial Experts: US Will Fail to Undermine China-South America Free Trade Deal – By SPUTNIK

A US 100-dollar banknote with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin and Chinese 100-yuan banknotes with portrait of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong are seen in the picture illustration in Beijing, China

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Financial experts discussed with Sputnik remarks by Argentine Ambassador to China Diego Ramiro Guelar, who said recently that talks about a possible free-trade deal between China and South America’s major economies could start as early as next year.

Following the Summit of the Americas held in Lima, Peru, earlier in April, the ambassador said that China’s investments were essential for Argentina, which is struggling to reform its isolated economy and regain access to the international capital market.

“China is as important as the US and sometimes it is more important than the US,” Guelar told the South China Morning Post, adding that “the Americans might be worried because they used to think that they would be hegemonic in the region.”

Financial experts told Sputnik that while the Latin American Market apparently seeks to strengthen economic ties with China and it is very likely that the free-trade deal will be reached, the US will certainly hinder the negotiations, pile political pressure on certain countries and try to unravel regional organizations.

Bian Yongzu, a researcher with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the People’s University of China, told Sputnik that the beginning of free trade zone negotiations between China, Argentina and other South American states has been greatly anticipated.

READ MORE: Pentagon Chief Pushes to Waive Sanctions for US Allies That Buy Russian S-400s

“In recent years, trade and economic cooperation between [these parties] has been tightening. The project is predetermined by the structure and interrelatedness of the region’s economic paradigms,” the expert said.

He explained that China, for instance, has invested in the extraction of mineral resources, infrastructure and agriculture of South America. In its turn, South America exports minerals and agricultural products to China; and the volume of trade between the regions has been consistently growing.

“On the other hand, South America has traditionally been the United States’ backyard. [The US] interferes in South America’s politics and economy, sanctioning some of the region’s states at every given opportunity,” Bian said. “Meanwhile, China’s economic clout in the world has been growing, which allows South American nations to consider other ways of cooperation on development.”

“All indications are that China’s development provides South America with a chance to solidify its positions in dialogue with the US. It is safe to say that negotiations between China and South America on a free-trade zone are exigencies of modern times,” the expert said.

Bian cautioned that the US may still try to slow the process down with a demonstration of power, but in the end it cannot do anything to stop the growing trend away from American dominance of the region, given the numerous and growing alternatives.

READ MORE: Grab the Popcorn: Trump Promises to ‘Take On’ EU in New Trade War

Alexander Kharlamenko, an expert from Russia’s Institute of Latin America, told Sputnik that China has long and successfully been developing relations with Cuba, Venezuela and some of the other countries in the region, and these countries will have to deal with political blows aimed at disrupting the unity of Latin America.

The expert suggested that the US will likely continue to pressure some of the region’s right-wing governments, seeking to undermine the system of regional organizations, including MERCOSUR [Southern Common Market].

“China will counter with its economic power,” the expert said. “It obviously seeks to avoid an open politicization of relations with countries in this region, securing normal relations and economic cooperation even amid regime changes.”

“China will rely upon its traditional flexibility, the policy of non-interference in internal affairs, supporting the independence of states in the region. That is a traditional Chinese policy to counter hegemonism,” Kharlamenko concluded.    

Tehran dismisses Pompeo’s ‘unfounded’ accusations Politics – By CGTN

Tehran dismisses Pompeo’s ‘unfounded’ accusations
Politics
CGTN

2018-04-30 16:46 GMT+8

Iran on Monday dismissed new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “unfounded” accusations regarding its “ambition to dominate the Middle East”.

Pompeo lashed out at Tehran on Sunday during a rapid tour of the US’ Middle East allies ahead of a crucial White House decision on whether to quit the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Speaking during a visit to Iran’s arch-rival and key US ally Saudi Arabia just days after he took office, Pompeo accused Tehran of destabilizing the Middle East through its support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and for rebels in Yemen.

Read more: Pompeo: US concerned by ‘destabilizing and malign activities’ of Iran

“The US Secretary of State’s remarks on the presence and role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in certain countries in the region are a repetition of absurd and unfounded accusations,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said in a statement Monday.

Iran’s presence in Syria and Iraq is in response to requests from the two countries’ governments and is part of “the fight against terrorism in the region”, he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shakes hands with Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman on April 30, 2018. /VCG Photo

“This assistance will continue as long as [these] governments need help in this fight,” he said.

Ghassemi also reiterated previous government statements denying Saudi and US accusations that Iran is supplying weapons to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, backed politically by Tehran.

Such charges are “a false problem, created solely for the purpose of diverting the attention of international public opinion from the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia in its daily attacks” in Yemen, he said.

Shiite-dominated Iran and Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic ties in January 2016, are engaged in a region-wide struggle for influence and back rival sides in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Tehran has deployed “military advisers” and thousands of Iranian and Afghan “volunteer” fighters to Syria and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia launched a military coalition in 2015 to battle Huthi rebels in Yemen who had seized the capital Sanaa the previous year.

The United Nations and rights groups have slammed the Saudi-led campaign for causing civilian casualties and sparking a humanitarian crisis.

Source(s): AFP

How Google, Facebook and Twitter are manipulating the Mexican presidential elections—Part 1 – By By Alex González and Andrea Lobo ( World Socialist Web Site)

BANKERS,CONSERVATISM,CORPORATIONS.jpg

US election meddling in the age of the Internet

By Alex González and Andrea Lobo
28 April 2018

This is the first part in a two-part series

In recent months, Google, Facebook and Twitter have signed agreements with the Mexican National Electoral Institute (INE), the organization charged with carrying out elections in Mexico, in what amounts to a massive campaign to manipulate the outcome of the July 1 general elections in the world’s tenth most populous country.

The announcement comes as “left” candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as AMLO) has maintained a double-digit lead in recent polls. López Obrador would have an almost 80 percent chance of winning the presidency if the election were held today, according to a survey by Spanish newspaper El País.

In contrast, former finance minister José Antonio Meade Kuribreña—the preferred candidate of the bankers and the military and a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)—ranks third in the polls and was only given a 5 percent chance of winning the election. With their unchecked powers to demote and blacklist critical websites, these platforms are working to hide and falsify the right-wing record of Meade, who is widely hated for his key role in privatizing the country’s oil and hiking the price of gasoline by 20 percent.

Though López Obrador has run a right-wing campaign aimed at proving himself a “responsible” capitalist politician to the Mexican and American ruling classes, the deals between INE and powerful Internet corporations with close ties to American imperialism show that the US government is taking no chances and is mobilizing against López Obrador, claiming his campaign is being bolstered by Russia.

INE signs agreements with Google, Facebook and Twitter

On February 5, INE announced a Memorandum of Cooperation with Facebook under the guise of combating “fake news” and helping “inform the electorate.”

The public version of the deal included transmitting the presidential debates, sending users reminders to vote, adding a feature on the platform with information about the elections and candidates, and informing users of where and when to vote.

However, the confidential components of the deal between Facebook and INE, which were almost immediately leaked by the newspaper El Universal, reveal the true nature of the agreement. The deal agreed to in private makes no mention of the elements that were in the version that had been sanitized for the public.

Google and the INE sign a formal agreement to collaborate

Instead, it highlights three components that will be used to tamper with the election. First, INE will provide Facebook with “real-time data” on election night from the Program for Preliminary Electoral Results (PREP). Second, INE will provide Facebook with “a physical space in its office where Facebook can perform election-related activities.” Lastly, Facebook agreed to conduct a forum for journalists on “how elections are organized and held in Mexico.”

After significant public backlash, INE waited two months before releasing another agreement, this time with Twitter. The public agreement between INE and Twitter released on March 25 states that Twitter will share “verified” content, including via a “bot that will share through Twitter key electoral information.”

Two days later, the INE publicly unveiled a deal with Google. In the most extensive agreement of the three, Google is set to share “useful information” about the election through its search engine, to direct voters to their polling place via Google Maps, to “remind” voters about important electoral dates, to transmit the presidential debates via YouTube, and to “report” preliminary results the day of the election through the PREP.

The companies’ abilities to use algorithms to censor search results and reduce the impact of posts is ripe for electoral manipulation. Facebook already announced plans to reduce “political” posts from newsfeeds—what prevents Facebook and INE from reducing the frequency of posts that are friendlier to López Obrador or critical of the PRI and National Action Party (PAN) candidates? What prevents Facebook, at the behest of the US or Mexican ruling class, from ensuring that poorer and younger Facebook demographics—those most likely to vote for López Obrador—see less political news in the run-up to election day?

Which users will receive reminders and be directed to the polls? Google Maps could “glitch” or “accidentally” send López Obrador voters incorrect polling locations, distances, travel times, all of which would dampen participation in areas that may be supportive of López Obrador but might be less likely to vote—such as young voters and poorer workers. Moreover, the recently approved Internal Security Law will provide an avenue to deploy the military to specific areas to intimidate voters and suppress protests.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

When will preliminary results be released, and how will this data be used by the Facebook “office” at the INE? As results start trickling in, the INE could feed tampered PREP results that Facebook, Google and Twitter could report uncritically, which could be used to make sure that López Obrador is never shown to have a major lead. This would give the PRI and the US military-intelligence apparatus enough time to calculate just how many votes they will need to tip the scales in favor of Meade Kuribreña.

After the elections, how will critical reporting of the “official results” be covered by the corporate news? The technology giants can use their algorithms to make sure that coverage of demonstrations and protests is more difficult to find on social media, while reports of tally sheets or vote counts collected by representatives of Morena or eyewitnesses that contradict the governments’ claims can quickly be labeled as “fake news” by “Russian agents” that are looking to “sow divisions” in Mexico.

Inconsistencies between the PREP results and ballot counts were reported during the 2006 and 2012 presidential elections, both of which were lost by López Obrador, as well as during the defeat of his political party, the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena), in last year’s gubernatorial race for the State of Mexico. If formal complaints are submitted, INE and the prosecutor’s office for electoral crimes (FEPADE) can be counted on to undercut any serious investigations.

Who is behind the INE-Facebook-Google-Twitter deals?

All indications are that the deals were organized by US imperialism.

The Google and Twitter deals were announced shortly after leading representatives of these corporations gathered in Mexico City at a conference co-hosted by INE and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a CIA front organization headed by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

At the conference, titled “Improving Electoral Conversation: Alternatives to Combat Disinformation,” Google, Facebook and Twitter representatives met with corporate media executives, academics and NDI and INE officials to “share international learning on disinformation and effective approaches for countering disinformation.” While transcripts of the closed-door discussions were not provided, the NDI website highlights the meeting’s antidemocratic premise by featuring a quote from the Mexican electoral official Adriana Favela, who stated, “One thing is freedom of expression … and another thing is to create false news.”

A panel at the NDI-INE conference, including Colin Crowell, head of global public policy at Twitter and former aide for Democratic Senator Ed Markey [second from left] and Jorge Silva, VP of communications at Latino Victory and leading “Latino Media” staffer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign

This is the modern equivalent of former national security adviser Henry Kissinger’s 1970 statement that the US must prevent the election of Salvador Allende in Chile: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Facebook’s strategic partner manager for news in the northern Latin America region, Luis de Uriarte, told the meeting that the US government, the media corporations and INE “all aspire to the same thing” and that “the issue of false news is a problem that we have to solve together.”

The NDI praised INE for “taking concrete steps to work with the media and technology platforms to ensure accurate information about the elections process reaches voters” because “Russia may already be gearing up to launch a campaign of ‘subversion, disinformation and propaganda’ in an effort to sway the Mexican election.”

The NDI warned that “non-state actors,” i.e., protesters and oppositional movements, also employ “coordinated campaigns aimed at injecting divisive and controversial narratives into the online conversations. These campaigns exploit points of tension within communities and societies …” In other words, according to the NDI, INE and the social media companies, discussion of divisive or controversial issues like mass poverty and widespread gang violence and police impunity are not appropriate for the upcoming elections. The NDI notes that it “agreed to facilitate further communication and collaboration.”

Speaking at the Atlantic Council last June, Albright announced that NDI was leading “a global, long-term response” to “Russian disinformation,” linking “government, civil society and technology firms.” The NDI organized “Digital Disinformation Forum,” which took place before the Atlantic Council meeting and was billed as an “invitation-only event that includes thought leaders from tech firms, political institutions, academia, media, the democracy community and philanthropic organizations for an off-the-record discussion on how to collectively address the global challenge of digital disinformation.”

While INE and the NDI are professing themselves as defenders of “information integrity,” they have been exposed as being nothing of the sort. In the aftermath of the 2006 Mexican presidential elections, WikiLeaks released internal memos of the Stratfor think tank, which works closely with the US military-intelligence apparatus, that exposed the complicity of the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE)—the INE’s predecessor—in committing electoral fraud: “There was a clear and flagrant intervention of president Vicente Fox in the election process, using the regime apparatus against AMLO’s candidacy.” The memo lists the presence of a “media war” and “IFE cooptation.”

The INE deals come after the latest National Defense Strategy document from the Pentagon presents Latin America as one of the arenas for “great power competition.” The document says the US plan will “require the seamless integration of multiple elements of national power—diplomacy, information, economics, finance, intelligence, law enforcement and military.” The US military-intelligence apparatus is integrating the largest technology and Internet companies as a key component in its drive to tighten the US stranglehold over Latin America in preparation for a new imperialist carve-up of the world.

Silicon Valley’s alliance with the military-intelligence apparatus

Google, Twitter and Facebook’s efforts to influence the Mexican elections are just one piece of its alliance with the military and intelligence agencies, which are now being ever more closely integrated to advance the predatory aims of US foreign policy in Latin America and across the world.

In his testimony to Congress in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook would work to prevent “disinformation” in “important elections in India, in Brazil, in Mexico, in Pakistan, and in Hungary.”

Significantly, INE’s agreement with Google was negotiated directly with their US headquarters and signed by Philip Schindler—the company’s chief business officer, overseer of Google’s “country strategies” and, according to Fortune magazine, an influential manager of their artificial-intelligence applications. On March 20, Schindler was charged with introducing the company’s “News Initiative” to shift “even more towards authoritative sources in the context of breaking news,” including during elections.

Two weeks prior to the launch of Google’s “News Initiative,” Facebook, Twitter and Google announced their participation in a project known as #Verificado2018 (#Verified2018). Under the guise of flighting against “Russian meddling” in the Mexican elections, #Verificado2018 aims to bring together major national and international media outlets to unilaterally dictate what would be considered “verified information,” seeking to present oppositional news sources as “fake news.”

This campaign is being spearheaded by Animal Político, an ostensibly “independent” news site which received a large share of its income last year from the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundation, both of which are closely tied to the US intelligence agencies.

In April of this year, users in Mexico complained that using Google’s search engine to look up the names of candidates Andres Manuel López Obrador (Morena), Ricardo Anaya (Party for National Action), and Margarita Zavala (Independent) produced a prominent advertisement of the Meade 2018 website. A spokesperson of the Meade campaign acknowledged that, since Meade Kuribreña was the least searched of the four main candidates, his campaign had secured the services of the advertisement tool Google Adwords to show the PRI candidate’s information even when a user was searching for another candidate’s information.

One can only image the hysterical headlines that would be spattered across the Western corporate media, claiming Putin’s involvement, if López Obrador was found to be seeking to deceive users on any Internet platform by paying for such ads.

Silicon Valley’s involvement in the Mexican elections represents the integration of the technology firms ever more firmly into instruments of political repression.

About 58 percent of the population in the country visits social networks, including 96 percent of “Millennials.” The Mexican ruling class and US imperialism abhor the threat posed to bourgeois rule by mass online access to news outlets and organizational tools that circumvent the press and institutions they control.

Last April, Google introduced new search algorithms that have reduced traffic to left-wing, antiwar, and progressive websites by up to 75 percent, hitting the World Socialist Web Site the hardest. Since then, Google, Facebook and Twitter have employed tens of thousands of former military, police and intelligence officials to monitor and censor their users and to train their artificial intelligence systems to manipulate what users see and don’t see on a previously unimaginable scale.

As the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, warned in a statement sent to the WSWS in January: “Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities.”

To be continued

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The Impact of America’s Wars on Freedoms and Democracy at Home – by Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during a visit to the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

While America has gone a century and a half without being “war-torn” in the conventional sense, the damage of war is not limited to that inflicted by guns and bombs.

MINNEAPOLIS – Despite concern that the United States will soon find itself in a major war that could have global consequences, many Americans are uninterested in that eventuality as shown by the minimal attention major geopolitical events, like the recent bombing of Syria or the 17-year-long occupation of Afghanistan, receive compared to the President’s alleged sexcapades and rapper Kanye West’s tweets. Though many theories have been put forth as to why so many Americans are uninterested in their government’s military actions abroad that are committed in their name and with their tax dollars, there is one that stands out from the rest.

The United States has been at war for 93 percent of its history. However, a vast majority of those wars took place abroad and did not drastically alter domestic life for most Americans, except in the case of the Civil War. The suffering of wars in which the U.S. has participated has largely eluded the majority of Americans, save for American servicemen and veterans — who are often forced to internalize their suffering in a country disconnected from the consequences of war.

Compare, for instance, the suffering unleashed upon the people of Korea during the Korean War, the people of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the people of Iraq during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq to the domestic experience of the average American while those wars were taking place. Even the “just” wars of years past, like World War I and World War II, did not cause the type of destruction that those wars wrought upon Europe. In fact, the U.S. government – beyond the loss of life of its soldiers – benefited greatly from these catastrophes and allowed the country to become a world power.

As a result, there is a prevailing, though likely unconscious, perception that U.S. military adventurism abroad, no matter how brutal or criminal, does not significantly impact the day-to-day activities of American life, allowing a substantial portion of the population to ignore the more sordid consequences of U.S. imperial ambition.

Yet, while America has gone a century and a half without being “war-torn” in the conventional sense, the damage of war is not limited to that inflicted by guns and bombs. With yet another war looming, it is worth revisiting the effects past wars have had on American domestic life as well as the dangerous precedents that past actions of the U.S. government taken during war-time have set. Indeed, were the U.S. to get involved in a major war with a country like Russia or Iran, many of the past actions taken by the government, particularly those aimed at curbing dissent, are highly likely to make a comeback to the great detriment of American domestic life and, most of all, American democracy.

 

The Espionage and Sedition Acts: Protecting Americans from themselves

Reaching back a century ago, the memory of World War I is faint. “The Great War,” as it was called at the time, killed millions and arguably changed the face of war forever. While the war did not take place on U.S. soil, it too brought great change to America, with Orwellian consequences that still persist today.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson decided that the country needed to be protected from “the insidious methods of internal hostile activities,” and went to great lengths to restrict freedom of speech and criminalize dissent. One of the results of Wilson’s efforts was the Espionage Act of 1917. Though it was similar to past laws dealing with espionage, the Espionage Act was unique in the sense that it deemed anyone a criminal who published information during times of war that the president declared to be “of such character that it is or might be useful to the enemy” or may “attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of duty [draft dodging].” The act passed with a wide majority in both houses of Congress. For those found guilty, the legislation imposed a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

Another piece of legislation passed a year later went even further in curbing domestic dissent by limiting speech. The Sedition Act, an amendment that extended the Espionage Act, officially forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” that cast the U.S. government, its armed forces, or even the national flag in a negative light or led others to view the U.S. government and its institutions with contempt during times of war — regardless of whether the information expressed was true. It also prohibited speech that interfered with the sale of government bonds designed to fund the war effort.

Though it was repealed in 1920, the Sedition Act ultimately paved the way for similar legislation that would regulate speech during peacetime in the years to come. The acts were also used to entirely dismantle the progressive left in the United States. For instance, Victor Berger, the first socialist elected to Congress, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “hindering” the war effort, and legendary socialist leader Eugene Debs received 10 years in prison for making a single anti-war speech.

Today, a revised version of the Espionage Act of 1917 continues to be used by the U.S. government to prosecute whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, among others, as well as journalists and publishers like Julian Assange.

However, it is worth remembering that, in times of war, the Espionage Act becomes a much more powerful curb on speech and, given that the U.S. uses the law to target whistleblowers in times of peace, the war powers it bestows on the government are sure to be used if and when the U.S. enters into another major war.

 

The chill of civilian spy networks

In addition to legislative efforts and the use of media to manipulate opinion and squash dissent, American citizens were also encouraged to spy on their countrymen, leading to the formation of citizen vigilante groups likes the Knights of Liberty, the American Defense Society and the National Security League, among others.

A 1917 Chicago Tribune article on the The America Protective League.

The most powerful of these groups was the American Protective League (APL), a semi-official organization that worked with the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation and boasted around 250,000 members in some 600 cities across the U.S. Though ostensibly tasked with identifying war saboteurs, draft dodgers and foreign spies, the APL’s members surveilled, harassed, intimidated and “arrested” Americans whose loyalty to the war effort was called into question.

Declining to buy Liberty Bonds, being an immigrant of “questionable” origin, and even having food stores in your home were enough to raise the suspicion of the APL. They raided factories, union halls and private homes with impunity, seeking out any American who opposed the war effort as well as targeting innocent Americans of German descent, whom they tarred and feathered and attacked with horsewhips in full public view. They also worked to suppress American labor unions, calling unions and socialists “pro-German” and “anti-American” and working with the U.S. government to conduct mass raids on the socialist labor union International Workers of the World (IWW).

Despite the clearly illegal tactics of the APL, it had the support of then-Attorney General Thomas Gregory, who assured a skeptical President Wilson that the APL “should be encouraged and…not subject to any real criticism.” During the course of the war, the APL detained some 40,000 people and claimed to have found more than 3 million cases of “disloyalty.”

Though the APL and organizations like it have become relics of wars past, civilian vigilante groups that collaborate with the government have attempted to make a comeback in post 9/11 America. For instance, under the George W. Bush administration, the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), was created and sought to create a domestic intelligence-gathering program that would have U.S. citizens report “suspicious” activity. The measure sought to recruit one out of every 24 Americans for the program, mainly those whose work provided access to private homes or businesses, such as mailmen, utility employees and truck drivers. The program, however, was eventually canceled and replaced with Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” initiative.

 

Propaganda: getting everyone on board for war

In addition to intimidating the public and curbing speech in increasingly fascist attempts to limit dissent, World War I also saw the advent of a new government agency aimed at the mass distribution of propaganda in order to drum up support for the war. The Committee on Public Information (CPI), established by Wilson through an executive order, put journalist George Creel – a fervent supporter of Wilson and the war – in charge of the first state propaganda bureau in the country’s history. In addition to Creel, the members of the committee were the Secretaries of State, War and the Navy.

The idea for the CPI was not Wilson’s, it was Creel’s. Creel had heard many military leaders call for strong censorship of criticism of the war and subsequently sought to convince Wilson that “expression, not suppression” of a controlled press could help the war effort. He urged Wilson to create an agency that would disseminate “not propaganda as the Germans defined it, but propaganda in the true sense of the word, meaning the ‘propagation of faith.’”

The CPI brought powerful businessmen, media personalities, scholars, novelists and artists into its fold, creating a propaganda machine that blended marketing techniques with human psychology. It became the primary conduit for information regarding the war, leading Creel to assert that – in any given week – more than 20,000 newspaper columns across the country were filled with information provided by CPI handouts. Towards the latter half of the war, much of the content produced by the CPI was hateful and xenophobic, adopting slogans like “Stop the Hun!” on posters that showed German soldiers terrorizing women and young children. Its film division produced such titles as The Kaiser: The Beast of Berlin and Wolves of Kultur.

The CPI was also remarkably thorough in its control of dissenting narratives. According to historian Michael Sweeney, “every war story [against the government narrative] had been censored somewhere along the line — at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with ‘voluntary’ rules established by the CPI.” The CPI was also a global operation, with offices in nine countries, and used its propaganda to great effect in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.

The CPI was dissolved soon after the war and the domestic (but not foreign) distribution of propaganda was made illegal by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. However, in 2013, then-President Barack Obama signed the 2013 National Defense and Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which contained a piece of legislation, known as “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012,” that completely lifted the propaganda ban. The act’s co-authors asserted at the time that removing the domestic propaganda ban was necessary in order to combat “al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among populations.”

Five years later, the result of the lifting of the ban can be seen in the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” in which false narratives have become commonplace and largely normalized, as those who publish demonstrably false claims face minimal, if any, accountability. Meanwhile, alternative media sources that provide dissenting narratives are rapidly being silenced and those journalists and citizens who offer different perspectives on key issues are dismissed as “regime apologists” and “Russian bots.” Were war to break out, surely the current efforts under way to control the narrative would only grow.

 

WWII: Wash, rinse, repeat

World War II, in which propaganda likewise flourished, also resurrected the dangerous “protection” practices set during World War I, namely the mass targeting of those suspected of “disloyalty” to the war effort. The most infamous of these was the internment of Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast on the sole basis of their ethnicity.

In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, which put the Secretary of War and his commanders in charge of establishing military zones, or concentration camps, and deciding whom to imprison within their confines. Congress supported the measure, passing Public Law 503, which allowed for the executive order’s implementation. Significantly, the measures did not name a specific ethnic group, but allowed the military to restrict anyone it deemed a “threat.”

Anyone of Japanese ancestry along the U.S. West Coast was considered by the military to present such a threat and, after the laws were passed, many of these individuals were placed under restrictions and curfews before being “evacuated” to internment camps scattered across the country from California to Arkansas. However, it was later shown that the Japanese-Americans were targeted, not out of fear for the national security, but due to the influence of “farmers seeking to eliminate Japanese competition, a public fearing sabotage, politicians hoping to gain by standing against an unpopular group, and military authorities.”

Following evacuation orders, this store was closed.  The owner, a University of California graduate of Japanese descent, placed the "I AM AN AMERICAN" sign on the store front the day after Pearl Harbor.  Oakland, CA, April 1942.  Dorothea Lange.

Around 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, were sent to the camps. More than half of those interned were children. They were not given due process and were incarcerated for up to four years, unable to leave the prison camps. Many of the children imprisoned there came to consider the camps “home.”

Strangely and tellingly, Japanese-Americans, despite being considered a domestic security threat, were able to join the U.S. Armed Forces after filling out a short questionnaire.

Not all Japanese-Americans complied with the government orders, however. The most well-known of those who disobeyed the internment order was Fred Korematsu, who later challenged the internment of Japanese-Americans on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court eventually ruled 6-to-3 that the internment of Japanese-Americans was well within the war powers of the President, arguing that in times of war such actions — even if blatantly racist — are justified when there exists a “military necessity.”

It is important to note, however, the vague nature of the law that led to the internment of Japanese-Americans. It stated that the Secretary of War was authorized to “prescribe military areas” and that “the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.” Thus, the legal war-time precedent that resulted from war hysteria gave the U.S. military the ability to place anyone from any group into concentration camps using “national security” and “military necessity” as justification.

It’s not hard to imagine how this could play out in the United States today if and when war breaks out. Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” and push to make a registry of Muslim immigrants, as well as top U.S. officials calling people of Russian descent “genetically driven” to be untrustworthy, are just a few examples of the xenophobia and related hysteria currently at work in the U.S. As long as those irrational fears are cloaked in the patriotic blanket of “military necessity,” it seems that the internment camps could again make an appearance on American soil.

 

Fascism and racism cloaked in patriotism: an inevitable cycle

Ultimately, what the past shows us is that, in times of war, the United States often embodies the very evils it purports to stand against – fascism and racism chief among them – but does so by wrapping these troubling acts in a veneer of patriotism that falsely seeks to claim that such crimes against the Constitution and American democracy are done out of “necessity” to national security.

Again, the oft-repeated adage that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it” rings true. Trump’s Muslim ban and the anti-Russian hysteria of the “Resistance” have raised concern among Japanese-Americans that another group could again suffer in American internment camps as they once did. Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” program shows that the APL’s brand of patriotic vigilantism still lives on. The U.S. government’s continued use of the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers and journalists further shows that dissenting narratives are unwelcome here, whether during times of war or times of peace.

Top Photo | President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during a visit to the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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Iran drops the dollar. Others tried and were bombed. ‘It’s all about the banking,’ says Lee Camp – By RT

Iran drops the dollar. Others tried and were bombed. 'It's all about the banking,' says Lee Camp
Iran recently announced it is dropping the US dollar in foreign trade. Just as Iraq did shortly before it was invaded by the US, or Libya planned to before it was bombed by NATO-led allies. Lee Camp is starting to see a pattern.

The US is gearing up to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, which has all but killed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, because it’s not restrictive enough. With Iran already saying it won’t accept more demands or more sanctions, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of chain reaction might ensue.

READ MORE: Iran dumps dollar for euro in foreign trade transactions

Comedian Lee Camp’s guess is pretty grim. He notices how Iran recently ditched the dollar in favor of the euro – something Iraq also did 18 years ago, a couple years before the US invaded it under the phony pretext of weapons of mass destruction. Libya wanted to do the same, although its leader Muammar Gaddafi wanted to establish its own currency, the gold dinar – but in 2011, NATO warplanes bombed his country to support an uprising against him. Almost immediately, the rebels formed their own central bank and were given leave by the US and the UN to legally sell oil from the land they controlled.

On his show Redacted Tonight, Lee deconstructs these parallels and more, because “It’s all about the banking!”

WATCH THE FULL EPISODE HERE:

 
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