How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran = By Pepe ESCOBAR (THE SAKER)

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by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Rhetorical war has far-reaching consequences, including a potential economic slump via the disruption of global oil supplies

The key take away from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – important Global South players – strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.

The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: “We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”

Closer examination of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech unlocks some poignant details.

Xi, crucially, emphasizes delving further into “our strategic partnership.” That implies increased BRICS and Beyond BRICS multilateral trade, investment and economic and financial connectivity.

And that also implies reaching to the next level; “It is important that we continue to pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in our development strategies, and reinforce the competitiveness of the BRICS countries, emerging market economies and developing countries.”

If PartNIR sounds like the basis for an overall Global South platform, that’s because it is.

In a not too veiled allusion to the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Xi called all parties to “abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation,” adding that the BRICS are inevitably working for “a new type of international relations.”

Relations such as these certainly do not include a superpower unilaterally imposing an energy export blockade – an act of economic war – on an emerging market and key actor of the Global South.

Xi is keen to extol a “network of closer partnerships.” That’s where the concept of BRICS Plus fits in. China coined BRICS Plus last year at the Xiamen summit, it refers to closer integration between the five BRICS members and other emerging markets/developing nations.

Argentina, Turkey and Jamaica are guests of honor in Johannesburg. Xi sees BRICS Plus interacting with the UN, the G20 “and other frameworks” to amplify the margin of maneuver not only of emerging markets but the whole Global South. 

So how does Iran fit into this framework?

An absurd game of chicken

Immediately after President Trump’s Tweet of Mass Destruction the rhetorical war between Washington and Tehran has skyrocketed to extremely dangerous levels.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force – and a true rock star in Iran – issued a blistering response to Trump: “You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it.”

The IRGC yields massive economic power in Iran and is in total symbiosis with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It’s no secret the IRGC never trusted President Rouhani’s strategy of relying on the JCPOA as the path to improve Iran’s economy. After the unilateral Trump administration pullout, the IRGC feels totally vindicated.

The mere threat of a US attack on Iran has engineered a rise in oil prices. US reliance on Middle East Oil is going down while fracking – boosted by higher prices – is ramping up. The threat of war increases with Tehran now overtly referring to its power to cripple global energy supplies literally overnight.

In parallel the Houthis, by forcing the Yemen-bombing House of Saud to stop oil shipments via the Bab al-Mandeb port, are configuring the Strait of Hormuz and scores of easily targeted pipelines as even more crucial to the flow of energy that makes the West tick. 

If there ever was a US attack on Iran, Persian Gulf analysts stress only Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela might be able to provide enough oil and gas to make up for lost supplies to the West. That’s not exactly what the Trump administration is looking for.

Iranian “nuclear weapons” was always a bogus issue. Tehran did not have them – and was not pursuing them. Yet now the highly volatile rhetorical war introduces the hair-raising possibility of Tehran perceiving there is a clear danger of a US nuclear attack or an attack whose purpose is to destroy the nation’s infrastructure. If cornered, there’s no question the IRGC would buy nuclear weapons on the black market and use them to defend the nation.

This is the “secret” hidden in Soleimani’s message. Besides, Russia could easily – and secretly – supply Iran with state-of-the-art defensive missiles and the most advanced offensive missiles.

This absurd game of chicken is absolutely unnecessary for Washington from an oil strategy point of view – apart from the intent to break a key node of Eurasia integration. Assuming the Trump administration is playing chess, it’s imperative to think 20 moves ahead if “winning” is on the cards.

If a US oil blockade on Iran is coming, Iran could answer with its own Strait of Hormuz blockade, producing economic turmoil for the West. If this leads to a massive depression, it’s unlikely the industrial-military-security complex will blame itself.

There’s no question that Russia and China – the two key BRICS players – will have Iran’s back. First there’s Russia’s participation in Iran’s nuclear and aerospace industries and then the Russia-Iran collaboration in the Astana process to solve the Syria tragedy. With China, Iran as one of the country’s top energy suppliers and plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Russia and China have an outsize presence in the Iranian market and similar ambitions to bypass the US dollar and third-party US sanctions.

Beam me up, Global South

The true importance of the BRICS Johannesburg summit is how it is solidifying a Global South plan of action that would have Iran as one of its key nodes. Iran, although not named in an excellent analysis by Yaroslav Lissovolik at the Valdai Club, is the quintessential BRICS Plus nation.

Once again, BRICS Plus is all about constituting a “unified platform of regional integration arrangements,” going way beyond regional deals to reach other developing nations in a transcontinental scope.

This means a platform integrating the African Union (AU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the South Asian Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Iran is a future member of the SCO and has already struck a deal with the EAEU. It’s also an important node of the BRI and is a key member, along BRICS members India and Russia, of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), essential for deeper Eurasia connectivity.

Lissovolik uses BEAMS as the acronym to designate “the aggregation of regional integration groups, with BRICS Plus being a broader concept that incorporates other forms of BRICS’ interaction with developing economies.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defined BRICS Plus and BEAMS as the “most extensive platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.” The Global South now does have an integration road map. If it ever happened, an attack on Iran would be not only an attack on BRICS Plus and BEAMS but on the whole Global South.

Russia’s Defense Tests and Development Program Fire the Imagination – By Andrei AKULOV – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russia’s Defense Tests and Development Program Fire the Imagination
Andrei AKULOV | 22.07.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

There’s a first time for everything. The Russian Avangard was the first hypersonic boost-glide vehicle to have passed its development stage and gone into production. The news was announced by Deputy Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces Major General Sergey Poroskun on July 19. The 13th missile regiment, deployed near the town of Dombarovka in the Orenburg region (southern Russia), will be the first unit armed with the new weapon. The regiment’s infrastructure is ready to receive it. According to Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov, the system is to be fully operational by 2020.

The pace of the weapon’s development takes one’s breath away. Few people knew about the Avangard’s existence just a few months ago, yet after a series of successful tests the vehicle has already reached the production phase!

No other country is yet able to produce hypersonic weapons — only Russia.

Launched from Russian territory, the Avangard can reach Washington in 15 minutes. No one in the world has a weapon with a speed exceeding Mach 20 or about 15,300 miles per hour (four miles per second). The Avangard also stands out for its ability to withstand extreme heat during the final phase of its trajectory. The use of composite materials enables it to resist temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Celsius. The Russian media reported on July 17 that the Avangard will be upgraded with a heat-resistant titanium casing. It also boasts special protection from lasers, in addition to its unique flight trajectory, with rapid course changes in the atmosphere as well as signatures quite different from traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Advanced countermeasure systems increase its ability to sidestep missile defenses.

The Avangard sits atop an ICBM. After launch, the 5.4 meter-long vehicle travels part of its flight path through the denser layers of the atmosphere at an altitude of several dozen kilometers. The yield of its nuclear warhead ranges from 150 kilotons to 1 megaton of TNT, but in truth the glider needs no warhead at all, as its sheer speed is enough to destroy any target in a kinetic kill.

The Avangard is extremely hard to spot and next to impossible to engage. This makes it an ideal weapon against an enemy’s strategic capabilities and key infrastructure sites. The boost-glide vehicle undeniably extends the Russian armed forces’ capabilities. “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” said General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command, speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.

The new Burevestnik 9М730 nuclear-powered long-range cruise missile was tested on July 19 as well A coastal missile battery launched it out toward the ocean. This is the start of a long series of tests to reach its initial operational capability. Fired from bombers and submarines, the weapon has an intercontinental range and can be equipped with a nuclear warhead. The INF Treaty does not cover the Burevestnik, as it uses air and sea platforms. The missile boasts almost unlimited range, low visibility and altitude, supersonic speed, and a limited radar cross-section, allowing it to hit targets everywhere in the world on short notice and with little warning.

On July 20, the Defense Ministry released a statement claiming Russia had successfully test-fired the new 40N6Е air-defense missile at the Sary Shagan firing range in Kazakhstan. The interceptor will be used by S-400 and S-500 systems to provide them with long-range (400 km) capability. It has an altitude of 185 km — enough to hit a high-orbit satellite. There are plans for the missile to enter service with the S-400s in late summer. The S-500 Prometey is expected to be added to the arsenal in 2020. That missile can travel at a speed of 5 km per second, flying 185 km in 41 seconds. Once the 40N6Е is operational, it will provide the S-500 with the capability to defend Moscow without nuclear warheads.

The Ministry also released a video showing a test of the Kinzhal air-to-surface missile launched from a Tu-22M3 strategic bomber (not a MiG-31 fighter as before), raising the combined range of the platform and the missile up to 3,000 km.

An array of new weapons has already been tested in July. The Peresvet high-powered laser weapon system and the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone have also been through trials according to reports. The operational tempo of the development and tests fires the imagination. Many countries are working on their own programs to create new generations of weapons, but Russia is the only one to have such systems already up and running. Although its defense budget is only 1/10th the size of the Pentagon’s, Russia has taken the lead in weapons development. Moscow’s defense programs are much more effective, offering more bang for the buck.

Russia is not only an advanced military power to be reckoned with, it’s the world leader in military technology. During the July 16 summit in Helsinki, the US and Russian presidents agreed to revive the dialog on arms control. There has been a widespread belief in the American Congress that Russia needs those negotiations more than the United States and that Washington could get concessions here and there in exchange for its mere consent to talk about the issue. Events have proved otherwise. American self-confidence has taken a hit. The US needs to make progress in arms control even more than Russia.

As Syrian Army liberates territory, West scrambling to save their White Helmets assets – By PRESS TV (SOTT)

White Helmets

© Hosam Katan / Reuters

Western countries have reportedly been scrambling to evacuate “volunteer” White Helmets from Syria, who have been accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks.

CBS News broadcasting service reported on Saturday that White Helmets members are in danger of assassination and in need of rescue as the Syrian army intensifies its counter-terrorism operation in the country’s southern part.

The report said the issue of the White helmets’ withdrawal from Syria had been raised with US President Donald Trump in multiple conversations with allied countries on the sidelines of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels.

The Netherlands, Britain, France, Canada and Germany have been trying to find a way to get an estimated 1,000 White Helmets volunteers and their family members out of Syria, the report added.

Comment: Just what these countries need: more jihadi ‘refugees’.

British Prime Minister Theresa May brought up the issue during her meeting with Trump in the UK, and that the topic may also be discussed at Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier.

Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.

US officials and Western diplomats say the evacuation has not been formalized on the agenda of the July 16 Trump-Putin meeting due to uncertainty about the Russians’ help in the process, The CBS News said.

“We are not there yet at all in terms of firming up the necessity to have a discussion with Putin,” a Western diplomat said. “If we run out of options, and the only option left is the Russians, then it is worth pursuing.”

A US government official stressed that efforts to evacuate the White Helmets from Syria are in line with the Trump administration’s plans for a withdrawal from the Arab country.

“This effort says we are in the evacuation phase. It is an admission that the regime is going to regain control of the country and the White Helmets can’t remain,” he said. “Or else the regime will take repercussions on them.”

Back in March, Trump ordered the State Department to suspend $200 million in recovery funds for Syria, including aid to the White Helmets, amid a review of the future of the US role in the war-torn country.

Three months later, however, Trump authorized the release of $6.6 million in previously frozen funding for a volunteer organization, without referring to the $193.4 million that remains frozen.

Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the group claims to be a humanitarian NGO, but actually supports terrorists and covers up their crimes.

“The White Helmets not only feel at home on Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh-controlled territories but openly sympathize with them and provide them with information and even financial support. How is that for double standards? There is documentary evidence of the White Helmets’ involvement in some of al-Nusra’s operations and cover-up over civilian deaths,” she said.

Comment: We can’t wait for Trudeau to dress up like a jihadist White Helmet and take some selfies with them once they get evacuated to Canada.

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration – By Federico PIERACCINI – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration

The chaos that has engulfed the NATO summit is yet further confirmation of the world’s transition from a unipolar to a multipolar order, with the return of great-power competition and different states jockeying for hegemony. Trump is adapting to this environment by seeking to survive politically in a hostile environment.

The meeting of the NATO countries in Brussels highlighted the apparent intentions of the US president towards his allies and the Atlantic organization. Trump’s strategy is to oblige the European countries to halt energy imports from Moscow and replace them with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US at a price that is obviously not cheap. The gas would come from the US by ship, entailing huge logistical costs that are not the case with regard to physical pipelines between Europe and Russia. This issue directly affects Germany and the Nord Stream II project, a deal worth billions of euros.

The reasons behind Trump’s behavior are twofold. On the one hand, we have the politics of “America First”, with the intention of increasing exports of LNG while boasting of “successes” to the base. The other purpose of Trump’s words is to highlight, sotto voce, the inconsistency of EU countries, who despite considering Russia an existential danger, nevertheless strongly depend on Russia’s energy exports.

To be fair to Trump, these same EU countries — fearful of Moscow but ready to do business with it — do not even spend 2% of their GDP on defense, while the US commits closer to 4%. For Trump this is surreal and intolerable. The NATO Summit began more or less with this anomaly, conveyed by Trump in front of the cameras to Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, with Pompeo and the US ambassador to NATO on either side of him doing their best to remain impassive.

The photo-op with Merkel did not go any better. Needless to say, the American media is being driven into a tizzy. The headlines blare: “Trump betrays the allies”; “End of NATO”. CNN is in a state of mourning. Brzezinski’s daughter (yes, that Brzezinski ) almost vomited from the tension on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

In truth, Trump is engaging in a lot of public relations. When he makes these performances in front of the cameras, he is speaking directly to his electoral base, showing that he is keeping his promises by putting “America First”. To be honest, it would be more appropriate to declare, “America, b****h!”

To back his words up with actions, he slaps his allies with tariffs and sanctions against Russia, and now Iran, incurring huge losses for Europe. He mocks leaders like Merkel and Trudeau in public, and has humiliated Macron in front of the world.

In practical terms, Trump does not care whether Germany buys LNG from the United States. If this is to ever occur, then it will take 20 years, given the cost and time needed to build dozens of LNG facilities on the European and American coasts.

The summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki could even lead to more drama if Trump wants to drive the media, liberals, neocons and his European allies into further conniptions.

It depends on the issues on his checklist that he has to deal with before the November midterm elections. I do not rule out seeing Kim Jong-un in Washington before then, or a summit between the US, Israel and Palestine — anything that will play to the desired optics. The issue is just that: all image, no substance.

Trump is focussing principally on triumphing in the November midterms, and to do so he needs to look like a winner. He will be keen to ensure the moneybags of the Israel lobby and Saudi Arabia keep flowing. In doing so, he will probably even win the 2010 presidential election. There is always the possibility that the Fed and other financial conglomerates will decide to commit harakiri and blow up the economy with a new financial crisis in order to get rid of Trump. It would be the deserved end of the US empire.

European politicians also await the midterms with great anticipation, hoping that this will be the end of the Trump nightmare. They still live in the same dreamworld of Hillary Clinton, believing that Democratic victory is possible and that Trump’s election was simply an anomaly.

They will not have woken from their nightmare when they come to realize that Trump has increased the number of Republicans in the House and Senate. Perhaps at that point, with sanctions in place against Russia and Iran and with huge economic losses and the prospect of another six years with Trump, a coin will drop for someone in Europe, and Trump will be seen as the catalyst for breaking ties with Washington and looking east towards a new set of alliances with China and Russia.

In conclusion, we are experiencing the full effects of the Trump presidency, which is destructive of and devastating for the neoliberal world order. As I said at least a year before he was elected, Trump is accelerating the decline of the United States as a lodestar for the West, representing Washington’s swan song as the only superpower.

It is not “America First”, it is Trump First. There is no strategy or logic behind it. There are only friendships, his personal ego, and the need to remain in the saddle for another six years. Meanwhile, get your popcorn ready in anticipation of the Helsinki summit.

Where it all began: Syrian Army liberates Daraa from western-backed terrorists – By Hugo Turner Anti-Imperialist U (SOTT)

syria daraa

Early in the Syrian war Daraa became a terrorist hotbed in part because it was extremely close to Israel and their illegally occupied Syrian territory the Golan Heights. Israel has made it abundantly clear that the Daraa terrorists are its terrorist proxies and it hoped to steal even more Syrian territory when Syria was destroyed. However with Eastern Ghouta liberated the Syrian Arab Army was finally able to turn its full attention to liberating Southern Syria. Israel has launched illegal airstrike after illegal airstrike in a desperate bid to save its terrorist proxies including ISIS. It has threatened to launch a region-wide war targeting not just Syria but Lebanon, Iraq, in addition of course to their endless ongoing war on the Palestinians, their butchery of women and children which will never cease until Palestine is liberated. However Syria refused to give in to Israeli or American threats. Syria along with its allies Iran and Hezbollah were prepared to fight a full-scale war if necessary. Russia after some foot dragging also decided to help the SAA liberate Daraa. Israel was forced to watch as their terrorist proxies were routed in a matter of months. The battle of Daraa is not over but it is clear that a decisive victory has already occurred. Syria has secured the Naseeb border crossing with Jordan liberated huge swathes of territory encircled the terrorists and cut off their supplies. Today July 12 they entered the southern part of the city of Daraa.

The war in Syria continues. ISIS have been launching increasing attacks in an attempt to save Daraa but Syria have been launching a major campaign to clear them out of their desert stronghold. Once Daraa is liberated the SAA may turn its attention to Idlib and to ejecting the Turks. The Syrians are holding secret negotiations with the Kurds who are rethinking their treachery after America has decided to let Turkey occupy more and more SDF held territory. Plans are already in place to kick out the American, British and Italian occupation forces with resistance groups being formed in the north of Syria. Unfortunately the Americans are stubborn, vindictive and very sore losers so there is no telling what new plan they are hatching to extend the war and bring still more misery to the long-suffering Syrian people. Even if the US forces do leave, the propaganda war against Syria could go on for decades. More tragically the economic war on Syria that began back in 2003 with sanctions on Syria will continue. Vital supplies needed to repair Syria, vital medicines and equipment needed to heal the people of Syria are being prevented from entering the country. There is no telling how many thousands of people have already died as a result of these sanctions which are usually overshadowed by the brutal crimes of the western backed terrorists.

Despite the obstacles they face Syria continues to march towards victory. With the help of its allies it has defeated America, Israel, NATO, the Saudis and the many other members of the axis of chaos. They have withstood untold misery and nearly every family has given a martyr to the cause of Syrian independence. When the war is won the balance of power will forever be shifted in the region and hopefully the empire will be forced to vacate Iraq and the Axis of resistance will be able to turn it’s attention to the liberation of Palestine. Unfortunately in much of the world the future is much bleaker.

Sources

Read the full article at Anti-Imperialist U.

Comment: The Syrian Army have now retaken the city of Daraa after encircling the last remaining terrorists within the southern part of the city. The “rebels” holding the area agreed to the terms of reconciliation offered by the Syrian government and Russian Reconciliation Center:

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has allowed the Russian military police to enter the districts they control in Daraa, as they begin the process of reconciliation.

In the next 48 hours, the Free Syrian Army is expected to handover their heavy and medium weapons to the Russian military police.

The Free Syrian Army fighters that do not want to reconcile with the Syrian government and the jihadist rebels from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham will be given safe passage to western Daraa.

As shown in the footage below, Russian military police were filmed entering the Daraa Al-Balad District that was controlled by the rebel forces for several years:

Here’s a map view of the Syrians’ progress (today, compared to January):

daraa map

© syria.liveuamap.com
daraa map

© syria.liveuamap.com

Monsanto ‘bullied scientists’ and hid weedkiller (Roundup) cancer risk, – By VT /Senior Editors

As ill California man’s landmark case begins, attorney attacks Roundup maker’s response to researchers’ findings

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Thank you Republicans.  50 million dead and counting….(ed)

Monsanto has long worked to “bully scientists” and suppress evidence of the cancer risks of its popular weedkiller, a lawyer argued on Monday in a landmark lawsuit against the global chemical corporation.

“Monsanto has specifically gone out of its way to bully … and to fight independent researchers,” said the attorney Brent Wisner, who presented internal Monsanto emails that he said showed how the agrochemical company rejected critical research and expert warnings over the years while pursuing and helping to write favorable analyses of their products. “They fought science.”

Wisner, who spoke inside a crowded San Francisco courtroom, is representing DeWayne Johnson, known also as Lee, a California man whose cancer has spread through his body. The father of three and former school groundskeeper, who doctors say may have just months to live, is the first person to take Monsanto to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the Roundup brand is linked to cancer. Thousands have made similar legal claims across the US.

 

The case is significant in part because the judge has allowed Johnson’s lawyers to present scientific arguments. The suit centers on glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, which Monsanto began marketing as Roundup in 1974, presenting it as a technological breakthrough that could kill almost every weed without harming humans or the environment.

Read more at UK Guardian

 
SOURCE

Legitimizing The Occupation: An Occupied Palestine is a Land Without Hope – By Miko Peled (MINT PRESS)

Israeli border police drag an activist by the next to Israel's apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil'in. (AP/Nasser Nasser)Israeli border police drag an activist by the next to Israel's apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil'in. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

Many in the community of Palestinian citizens would like to see themselves as an integral part of Israeli society that has its own Arab and Muslim culture and roots. The problem is that Israel has never seen them as such.

JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — (Analysis) Khaled and I sat and chatted one evening at his family’s home in Qalansawe. “They look at us as though we are completely Israeli,” he said, speaking of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, “and we call them ‘Dafawi’ if they are from the West Bank and ‘Ghazzawi’ if they are from Gaza.” Khaled is a successful man, one of the few Palestinian citizens of Israel who became an executive in an important Israeli company.

When he talks about himself and the community of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, he uses the Israeli terms “Arviyey Israel,” which means the Arabs of Israel, or “The Arab Sector.” Qalansawe is a Palestinian town of 23,000 in the “Muthalath” or Triangle area, an area just west of the West Bank town of Tul-Karem. There is a relatively large concentration of Palestinian towns in that area, which became a part of Israel when the borders were drawn after 1948. It is called the Triangle because of the three main cities of Taybe, Tire and Qalansawe.

Municipal elections are due to take place in Qalansawe in October 2018. Ma’aruf is considered one of the leading candidates for the post of mayor. He is a retired high school principal with a reputation of a guy that gets things done.

If he is elected, he faces problems that characterize all Palestinian towns that became a part of Israel: water and electricity shortages; no urban planning; no infrastructure; never-ending land confiscations by the state, which are then diverted to build primarily for Jews; no enforcement of city ordinances or the law in general; high crime rates and poverty rates; and, even though there is no shortage of college graduates, high unemployment.

An Israeli Arab woman walks in the Arab town of Taybeh, central Israel wants to move large chunks of Israeli Arabs into Palestine, reminding Arabs of their second-class status in the Jewish state. Ariel Schalit | AP

“In the office by six in the morning and the last one to leave,” Khaled said about Ma’aruf in admiration, “which is why I will support his candidacy.” Ma’aruf and I drove together one day across Highway 6 south towards Tel-Aviv. He laughed when I told him that I understand why people want him to run, “but what’s in it for you?”

Unlike in the U.S., where each city has its own police force, Israeli police are a national police force and reluctant to intervene in crime in Palestinian towns. This means that the mayor has no means of enforcement, and because of a complex bureaucratic reality, which he explained to me and I was unable to comprehend, in Qalansawe the mayor cannot even hire inspectors to enforce city ordinances. So it’s chaos and, since weapons are easily accessible, the strongest prevail.

Water and electricity are cut off for several hours each day — most likely by Mekorot, Israel’s water authority, and by the Israeli electricity authority. So the homes in Palestinian towns must have a reserve tank on the roof in which to store water. Khaled has one too on the roof of his beautiful home. He told me that he needed to buy a floating device like the ones used in a toilet tank to indicate when the water reaches a certain level. He went to a hardware store in an Israeli Jewish town and asked for one. “What kind of place do you live in that you need that sort of thing?” the man at the store asked. “The difference between Jews and Arabs,” Khaled concluded: Jews have no need for this sort of thing because in their homes the water never stops running.

Khaled and I talked about the upcoming municipal elections and about the Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. He said what many people in this community say: “they should stick to domestic issues like housing and crime and stay away from foreign affairs — particularly the Palestinian-Israeli issue.” Many in the community of Palestinian citizens would like to see themselves as an integral part of Israeli society that has its own Arab and Muslim culture and roots. The problem is that Israel has never seen them as such. Their existence is a testament to the failure of the campaign of ethnic cleansing that began in 1948.

“The Palestinian issue is a domestic issue to Palestinians,” I said to Khaled; “it is at the heart of their existence. The root cause of the problems that exist in Gaza and the problems that exist in Qalansawe is the same. You are no less occupied than the Dafawi and the Ghazzawi Palestinians.” He gave me a disappointed look and I could sense that deep down he knows this is true but wished I would prove him wrong.

 

A string of commemorated catastrophes

In Palestine there is no shortage of days and events to commemorate. Begin with the Nakba — the catastrophe that befell Palestine in 1948 — with the massacre at Deir Yassin that was a part of that campaign, and the massacre at Kafr Qassem that was an extension of that campaign intended to bring about a mass exodus of Palestinians from Palestine from the “Triangle” area into Jordan. Then the war of 1967, or the Naksa, which is often referred to as the war that changed the face of the Middle East but in fact solidified and legitimized Israel’s 1948 conquests. These are merely for starters. There are many, many more days and events filled with horror for Palestinians to commemorate and it seems like new ones come up every day. So much so that it is almost impossible to dwell on one event, to thoroughly discuss and understand it because there is a new one, a more current one taking place.

In Israel and in much of the world, the war of 1967 is still seen as a justified response by Israel to an existential threat, even though all the evidence shows that it was a well-planned attack on three Arab countries in order to conquer land and impose Israel’s will on the region. The war of 1967 achieved a goal that was declared very early on, which was that the eastern border of the state of Israel must be the Jordan River, in other words, complete the conquest that was left incomplete in 1948. Though Israel had never officially defined the borders of the state, in his memoirs, Israel’s first foreign minister, Moshe Sharet, mentions a speech given by my father Matti Peled on October 26, 1953 in front of Jewish leaders, who included then-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Sharet himself. My father, then a young Lt. Colonel, said that “the existing border with Jordan is unacceptable […] and the army is prepared for war in order to capture the remaining parts of the land of Israel.”

Palestinian refugees carry their belongings as they prepare to cross the wrecked Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River from the Israeli-occupied section of Jordan, June 22, 1967. Many of the refugees said they were forced to leave by the Israelis. (AP Photo/Bernard Frye)

It has also been recorded that the Israeli army had made plans to occupy the West Bank as early as 1958 and then again in 1964 and to extend the Israeli military rule that was in place already in other parts of Palestine to the West Bank, (Ilan Pappe, The Forgotten Palestinians). The conquest of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were not the “spoils of war” but the result of a premeditated campaign. Then, once these areas were taken by the army, the Israeli government went in very rapidly and began to push out the Palestinian population, and make life unlivable for those who remained. And they built massively for Jews only, making these territories an inseparable part of Israel.

After the war, my father, Matti Peled — who was a general by then and a member of the Israeli army high command during the war, retiring a year later — Uri Avneri, and several other staunch Zionists began talking about a revised version of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which called for the creation of two states in Palestine. Their version, however, was far more favorable to Israel and would legitimize the otherwise illegitimate conquests of 1947- 48. It was the idea of the Two States where the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in the post-1948 boundaries and accept a small, weak state for themselves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli establishment, both military and political, viewed this idea with disdain. The people who were behind this idea, who were all staunch Zionists with impeccable records, were pushed aside and marginalized for suggesting that any recognition should be granted to the rights of Palestinians to the land.

One of the most important achievements of the war of 1967 was making the conquests of 1948 legitimate, and now it was about post-1948 Israel “giving back” or not “giving back” the territories it occupied in 1967. One clear example of that is the well known and totally ignored UN resolution 242, which was passed in November of 1967. It mentions “withdrawal of Israel Armed Forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;” in other words, the territories captured in 1948, in violation of prior UN resolutions regarding Palestine and regarding the status of Jerusalem, became irrelevant as a result of the 1967 conquests.

 

Israel’s long-term strategy: Forced transfer, slow genocide  

“They say we are a strategic threat, a fifth column,” Khaled admitted with regret; “some people even call for the transfer of the entire community out of the country.” According to a poll conducted in Israel in 2008 and published in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, 75 percent of Israelis believe that Palestinian citizens of Israel should be forcefully transferred out of the country.

Israeli riot police officers scuffle with Arab men in Arab village of Ara, northern Israel, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. About 50 right wing activists protested in Ara outside the home of Nashhat Milhem, who killed three people in a shooting rampage in Tel Aviv in January 2016 before police killed him in a shootout. The demonstrators demanded Israel deport Milhem's family and shouted "There is no Palestine." They arrived under heavy police escort to the village, where locals held a counterdemonstration.

In a statement he made in the spring of 2017, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that “the only way to reach a sustainable solution is land swaps and population transfers as part of a general regional agreement,” thus giving the government’s seal of approval to the already prevalent idea that the community of close to two million Palestinian citizens of Israel can be placed on trucks and removed.

No matter how hard Palestinians try, as long as Palestine is occupied things will not change for the better. The finest people can run for mayor and the cities will continue to be in disarray; the most talented youth can get degrees in education and they will not be given teaching jobs in Israeli Jewish schools.

People in Gaza can protest or remain at home but, as the last seven decades have shown, they will be killed either way. They may be shot or they may just die from thirst or other causes that are easily preventable. Whatever differences exist among Palestinians, it is crucial that the line that connects all of Palestine is not broken and must be strengthened. In order for Palestine and its people to be free, we must all stand united against the seven-decade-long occupation.

Top Photo | Israeli border police drag an activist by the hair next to Israel’s apartheid wall during a protest in the occupied West Bank village of Bil’in, March 2, 2018. Palestinian protesters and foreign activists marched to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the ongoing weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall and Jewish-only settlements in Bil’in. Nasser Nasser | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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The Dictatorship Over America: How It Functions – By Eric ZUESSE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Dictatorship Over America: How It Functions
Eric ZUESSE | 01.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, which, with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, will have resulted in the appointment of eight of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. And yet four of those justices will have been appointed by presidents who took office despite having fewer votes than their opponent. Republicans will have increasingly solid control of the court’s majority, with the chance to replace the sometimes-wavering Kennedy with a never-wavering conservative movement stalwart.

Over the last generation, the Republican Party has moved rapidly rightward, while the center of public opinion has not. It is almost impossible to find a substantive basis in public opinion for Republican government. On health care, taxes, immigration, guns, the GOP has left America behind in its race to the far right. But the Supreme Court underscores its ability to counteract the undertow of its deepening, unpopular extremism by marshaling countermajoritiarian power.

This is the way that the neocon (Hillary Clinton wing) Democrat Jonathan Chait, writing at the Democratic Party propaganda-organ New York magazine, got something correct, for a change. That quotation opened Chait’s June 27th commentary, which was ominously titled “The Republican Court and the Era of Minority Rule”. However, the prospects for democracy in America are actually even worse than that. This problem is bipartisan, and Chait himself has been part of it. Neoconservatives (otherwise called “America’s imperialists” but they’re basically no different from imperialists in other countries) run both of America’s political Parties — not only the Republican Party — regardless of what voters might happen to think of the neoconservative philosophy. This disparity between the non-ideological public and the virtually 100% neoconservative rulers, is due to the fact that voters have no real power in America(something that Chait noted in that excerpt, but only within a partisan Democratic-Party-versus-Republican-Party context, not any broader or more encompassing context, one that questions the political and economic system itself — at a deeper level than merely “Democratic” versus “Republican”). By contrast against that powerless public, America’s aristocrats possess all of the real power, in both Parties, and they’re virtually 100% imperialists (“neocons”) because they want their private international corporate empires to dominate over the entire world — at the public’s expense, with a huge, globe-spanning, military

This insightful (though too narrowly focused) opening from Chait shows that even neoconservatives (such as he) aren’t always wrong about everything. In fact, this opening, from a Democratic Party neoconservative, about America’s increasing conservative (Republican) dictatorship, was entirely truthful within its partisan narrow scope, and therefore (to that extent) it was more like an exemplification of the proverbial “infinite monkey theorem” — that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.” That opening was a random masterpiece.

However, Chait’s ‘Shakespearean’ string ended precisely there, when he immediately followed it by saying, “The story really begins in December 2000,” and he proceeded then to blame everything on Bush-v.-Gore, and on the way that the Republican operatives raped the American nation on 9 December 2000. But to allege that the problem started in 2000 is false ‘history’. This problem started much earlier (as will now be documented).

The only comprehensive and scientific study which has ever been done of whether the US is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, was published in 2014. It studied the period during 1981 through 2002, and it found that“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.”

Consequently, for example, prior to our invasion of Iraq in 2003, our opinions of “Saddam’s WMD” were simply being manipulated by the controlling owners of US-based international corporations (including their ‘news’media, which they advertise in and/or also own), just as those same super-rich individuals (most of whom are Americans) have controlled whom the nine people will be who rule from the Supreme Court, about what the US Constitution means, and doesn’t mean (and this judicial panel, of course, also decided Bush-v.-Gore, to which Chait blames America’s dictatorship).

So: the US Constitution has become increasingly twisted (by such jurists) to ‘mean’ things (such as aristocratic dictatorship) that were actually loathed by America’s Founders, who even went to war against Britain’s aristocracy — this anti-aristocratic Constitution has become increasingly twisted by the aristocracy’s court-picks, to ‘mean’ things such as creating and expanding an international empire, and as allowing US taxpayers to be forced to subsidize the political speech of some religions and not of other religions, nor of seculars (rejectors of all religions). Especially the Republican Party benefits enormously from empowering evangelical pastors to preach Republican propaganda to their congregations. Religion becomes a political football.

According to that scientific study, the United States, during the period that was studied, 1981 through to 2002, which was virtually the entire twenty years PRIOR to Bush-.v.-Gore — and this is quoting now directly from the study itself“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” So: it didn’t start in 2000.

A study published two years later (in 2016) reviewed the entire relevant literature and found “that responsiveness [to the American public’s preferences] seems to have declined during the late twentieth century” and might be getting worse yet than that: “The picture appears to be even more ominous — that is, opinion and policy are negatively related — on highly salient issues that attract media attention.” (Consequently: the more media-attention, the less that the Government’s policy will reflect the public’s preferences on the given issue.) This report states, in its “Conclusions,” that, “the trends seem to be moving in the wrong direction from the standpoint of democratic theory — that is, people seem less and less likely to get what they say they want from government.” 

The basic problem in America, therefore, isn’t Democratic versus Republican; it is instead democracy versus dictatorship. And this problem exists within each Party: each Party is controlled by its billionaires, not by its voting-public.

So: how does this — the aristocracy’s dictatorial grip on America’s Government — actually function? Not only the 2000 US Presidential ‘election’ was stolen from the American electorate, but so too are almost all US national elections stolen, especially the crucial ones, such as the political primary elections to Congress and the Presidency, for candidates to become the selected nominees of each of the two political Parties and thus to become offered to the public as the final contestants who might actually win those offices in the US national Government. Just as Bernie Sanders was the most-preferred of all candidates in 2016 to become the US President but the nomination was stolen from him by the Democratic National Committee for Hillary Clinton, it’s the same in most ‘elections’ to American national offices. And this dictatorship by the super-rich didn’t start with Bush.-v.-Gore, such as Chait alleges.

Here’s a current example of how this dictatorship functions: Right now, the US aristocracy, who control all of the large US corporations — including all of the major news-media — are pushing very hard to impose a kind of lock-down against the few media that they don’t control: against the media whose only presence is online, because these small media lack the funding to have either a print-and-paper presence, or else network broadcast and telecast facilities or a cable network. The way that the ‘news’-giants propagandize for this lockdown against unwanted truths, is by calling those small media sites (especially the half-dozen or so which do publish the elsewhere prohibited truths) ‘fake news’ media, and by alleging that only the print-broadcast-cable ‘news’ media (the very same ‘news’media which had deceived the public in 2002 to fear “Saddam’s WMD,” and which subsequently also ‘justified’, in 2011, Obama’s destruction of Libya, and then his subsequent invasion of Syria) ought to be trusted by the American people. Obviously, trusting those media is crazy, but America’s aristocrats want the public to believe this false way — trusting the billionaire-controlled ‘news’media.

Thus, on June 27th, Gallup reported:

Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation conducted a web-based experiment to assess the effectiveness of a news source rating tool designed to help online news consumers discriminate between real news and misinformation. The tool identifies news organizations as reliable (using a green cue) or unreliable (using a red cue) based on evaluations of their work, funding and other factors by experienced journalists.

The Gallup news-report closed: “Gallup and Knight Foundation acknowledge support for this research provided by the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.” All of them are neoconservative organizations, which represent the interests of America’s billionaires — not of the public anywhere.

The technical report of this experiment concluded that mainstream news-media can increase the public’s prejudice against non-mainstream news-media, by having their own hired “experienced journalists” label those small competing news-media as providers of ‘misinformation’ instead of ‘news’: 

This survey experiment evaluated the effect of a specific source rating tool — cues about news organization trustworthiness based on evaluations from experienced journalists. The findings suggest that using this approach may help combat online misinformation and restore confidence in obtaining quality news.

Of course, this finding is very good news for America’s billionaires, because further suppressing what the aristocrats are calling ‘misinformation’ (such as this, from one of the sites on the aristocracy’s banned list) will enable them to increase their dictatorship, even more. (Incidentally, both the bipartisan aristocratic control, and the truth-suppression, are similar in UK to what they are in US, and with similar results.)

As time goes by, the means of deceiving the public, become even cagier than they were before. The way that the dictatorship in America functions is by deceiving the public; and perhaps this Gallup-Knight-Ford-Gates-Soros study has helped them to develop a more effective “tool” to do that.

Maybe the next big invasion will be of Iran. American-and-allied media seem to be focusing increasingly on this particular target. Perhaps “experienced journalists” are being promoted right now, for that very purpose. With Donald Trump in power, Iran is systematically becoming the main next target. It was his top target even before he became elected; and one can even say that he was selected by the US aristocracy, and by Israel’s aristocracy, and by the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia, and by the leader of UAE’s royal families, mainly for this reason, to be installed to run the US regime. But, of course, they would also have done very well if Hillary Clinton had been ‘elected’. That’s the way things are: politics in America, especially at the national level, is now merely a puppet-show. And, apparently, many if not most of the people who are pulling the strings in it don’t so much as live here — they are foreigners, though of the types that Trump (as now is obvious), relies upon, instead of persecutes (such as ‘wetbacks’). The American people are merely the audience. We didn’t even buy this puppet-show. Those billionaires did. (The American ones also buy the puppet-theater which presents Russia — not Israel or Saudi Arabia — as being the foreign power that controls the US Government and that ‘endangers democracy’ everywhere. During the communist era, that story-line was believable by even intelligent people, but after 24 February 1990, it no longer is: the US’s own aristocracy clearly is that “foreign power.”)

NOTE: The way that the present writer tries to facilitate readers’ checking-out the trustworthiness of the allegations in my own news-reports, isn’t based on sites (like the aristocracy want it to be, so that the news that they don’t want the public to know — and that their own ‘news’-sites won’t publish — won’t be able to have an impact) but instead is based on individual news-reports, by means of providing links to that specific source whenever a given allegation is of such nature that a significant percentage of readers might think it to be false. I am selective of each and every individual article or video that I cite (link to) as being evidence; I never select and link to sources on the basis of the news-medium that published them, because I sometimes find falsehoods published on even the best media, and sometimes find thoroughly accurate articles or videos to be published on even the worst media.

Selecting on the basis of media, instead of specific evidence, is for fools. Every news-consumer should know what the prejudices of any given ‘news’medium are — its main propagandistic orientations. But to evaluate any given allegation on that type of basis, is foolish. It is an ad-hominem, not ad-rem, evaluation regarding that given allegation. It welcomes prejudices, instead of facts — it repels truths. And that is why the aristocracy encourages and promotes it, as the Gallup-Knight-Ford-Gates-Soros study does. (In fact, I’ve seen evidence that the Washington Post uses software that automatically rejects any submission which links to a website that isn’t on the Post’s management-approved list of sites to link to. And, of course, this management-policy encourages the ‘news’paper to accept submissions that have no links in them at all — precisely the least-trustworthy type of submissions.) 

‘Rulers need myth that US is a democracy to give Americans illusion of control’ – Lee Camp – By RT

‘Rulers need myth that US is a democracy to give Americans illusion of control’ – Lee Camp
Jeff Bezos has $141 billion, and 63 percent of Americans say they can’t afford a $500 emergency. The system of massive inequality is unsustainable, but it keeps going thanks to the myths we are told, Lee Camp says.

Comedian Lee Camp breaks down the eight great myths of American society in the latest edition of his satirical talk show Redacted Tonight on RT.

In the opening segment, Camp says that the corporatocracy is steadily tightening its grasp, the insanely wealthy get richer every day, and the poor get exploited more and more.

63 percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, the rear end of the spectrum, if you will, and you should, Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. Meanwhile, worldwide 1 in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people at $2 a day to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. And that’s if they only buy single-ply toilet paper. And yet there are riots in the streets for the most part, at least not in the US.

Camp is puzzled why we are okay with this and says the reason is “the myths we are all sold.

Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth when our heads are still soft. These myths are accepted and basically never questioned,” Camp said, adding that he feels it is his job to lay them all out.

Myth #8:  We have a democracy

If you think that we still have a democratic republic, ask yourself this: when was the last time Congress did something that the people of America wanted that was not in the benefit of corporations? You probably can’t do it, right?

Camp claims that Congress doesn’t do “a damn thing without the approval of their sugar daddies.”

He noted that even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed to an oligarchy – a small corrupt elite group controls the country without much input from the people.  

The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control,” he said.

Check out the other seven myths here:

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Has a new American Civil War begun? – By RT

US flag

© Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

From celebrities calling on citizens to take to the streets, to members of Congress calling for the public harassment of White House officials, to mob justice at restaurants – is the US heading toward a new kind of Civil War?

Well, some people think the seeds of a new Civil War have already been sown – and in a recent article, University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds argued that this new war is indeed “well underway.”

Reynolds was echoing similar comments from political scientist Thomas Schaller who wrote in a recent Bloomberg column that America is “at the beginning of a soft civil war,” and author Tom Ricks who agreed that the country seems to be “lurching” in that direction.

Much of the recent disquiet has been spurred on by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies and the decision to separate children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, but things have been bubbling up since Trump took office 18 months ago.

Comment: Or perhaps Trump isn’t spurring anyone, but it’s the radical left that is looking for and utilizing any reason to incite a civil war among the masses?

1. ‘God is on our side!’

Maxine Waters

© Mike Segar / Reuters

Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) caused a huge stir last week when she encouraged critics of the White House’s immigration policies to go out and harass members of the Trump administration in public. Waters made an impassioned call for citizens to ensure there would be “no sleep, no peace” for White House officials.

“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she said.

But her comments were so extreme and incendiary that it prompted a former secret service agent to call them “dangerous” and warned they “go beyond breaking the norms” of civil discourse and criticized her for “endorsing mob-rule to satisfy a political goal.”

Not long after Waters’ comments, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia because she works for the Trump administration.

2. ‘Surround their homes and schools in protest!’

Celebrities are getting in on the action, too, encouraging Americans to take to the streets in the millions to protest the Trump administration.

Last week, comments by actor Peter Fonda put the secret service on alert when he suggested that Trump’s 12-year-old son Barron should be taken from his mother Melania and put “in a cage with pedophiles” and that citizens should “surround the schools” of administration officials’ children in response to the child-separation policy.

Somewhat less dramatically, other Hollywood figures have called for protests and change. Actor John Cusack accused the Trump administration of “fascism” and “torturing” children – while musician Serj Tankian wrote on Instagram that the US is in a state of “utter regression” and that it is time for a “peaceful revolution.”

3. Confederate monuments controversy

confederate monument controversy

© Bryan Woolston / Reuters

The fierce debate over the removal of confederate monuments and symbols across the US epitomizes the current political and social divide and the competing interpretations of American history, with one side believing the monuments revere figures who fought to maintain slavery while the other side believes they honor great patriots.

When white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black Americans attending a prayer service in Virginia in 2015, it prompted a movement to have Confederate monuments removed from public spaces across the country. More than 100 publicly-supported monuments and symbols have been removed since 2015 – but not without controversy and counter-protests. While monuments are being removed across the US, other groups are pushing for new ones to be erected.

Last year a ‘Unite the Right’ rally called in protest at the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent when a protester drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing activist Heather Heyer.

4. Media wars, polarization of opinion

All of this social discord is playing out, magnified, on Americans’ TV screens in a way that appears to be exacerbating the problem. Eager to up their ratings, news networks invite the most polarizing of guests for daily screaming matches to be beamed into people’s homes. Far from the days of simply favoring one news channel over another, now if Americans don’t like how something is reported, it instantly becomes “fake news” or “propaganda.”

In his article, Reynolds wrote that news media which “promote shrieking outrage in pursuit of ratings and page views, are making the problem worse” and reminisced about a time when Americans could disagree with each other without hating each other.

5. Stratification of society

Kaepernick takes a knee

© Orlando Ramirez – USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

While all this is being played out on TV screens and social media, those at the fringes of society are feeling the effects of a sick system perhaps more than anyone. The socio-economic stratification of American society appears more obvious than it has at any time in recent years.

Inequality and rampant police violence against African-Americans prompted the NFL kneeling protests, which turned into a nationwide controversy between Americans who are proud of their flag and national anthem and all they stand for – and those who believe true freedom and justice have not yet come to America. A devastating opioid crisis, one of the highest child poverty rates in the world, and a strict adherence to policies which make the poor poorer and the rich richer, have all helped take anger in America from a simmer to a boil.

Reynolds wrote that part of the problem now is that Americans don’t feel social ties which transcend politics. It’s all us vs. them – and nothing in between. He argues that churches, fraternal organizations and neighborhoods used to cross political lines, but that this America has “shrunk and decayed” and people are increasingly finding their identity only in politics.

Marriage counselors, Reynolds explains, say that a relationship is doomed to fail when the couple begin to view each other with contempt – and in America today, there seems to be nothing but feelings of contempt felt on both sides of the political spectrum.

6. Shooting Republican politicians

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks suggested in a radio interview that Republicans are retiring en masse because of assassination fears.

Brooks was speaking on “The Dale Jackson Show” about the first Republican practice the Congressional Baseball Game after last year’s shooting that left Majority Whip Steve Scalise severely injured.

“We have multiple rings of security, plainclothes, uniform, Capitol Police, other police,” he said. “There was a medical vehicle nearby just in case there was a copycat.”

But Brooks said while there were multiple factors that contributed to a slew of Republicans leaving the House, he suggested fears of violence was a major one.

“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor,” he said.

7. Leaving dead animals on civil servants’ doorsteps

A decapitated and burned animal carcass was found on the porch of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staffer, the latest in a spate of threats tied to President Trump’s immigration policy, according to WTOP/ABC.

Around two dozen incidents have been reported against government employees issued in the past few days – primarily against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, which resulted in a determination by Homeland Security that there is a “heightened threat against DHS employees.”

The uptick in threats comes amid multiple protests directed at ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers, as well as the DHS secretary. It’s unclear exactly how much the threats have increased. –WTOP/ABC

“This assessment is based on specific and credible threats that have been levied against certain DHS employees and a sharp increase in the overall number of general threats against DHS employees,” said Claire Grady, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security in a Saturday letter to employees.

Comment: See also:

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