The Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange: An important step forward – By WSWS

Julian Assange

18 June 2018

Yesterday, Sunday June 17, a demonstration was held in Sydney’s Town Hall Square to fight for the immediate and unconditional freedom of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. The rally demanded that the Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull secure the release of Assange from his confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and his safe return to Australia.

The rally was introduced and chaired by longstanding Socialist Equality Party (SEP) leader Linda Tenenbaum. It was addressed by SEP National Secretary James Cogan; Evrim Yazgin, the president of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at the University of Melbourne; and Sue Phillips, the national convener of the Committee For Public Education (CFPE). It concluded with a powerful speech by well known journalist and documentarist John Pilger, who has been a tireless fighter for the freedom of Julian Assange and the media.

The rally was based on the political principle that the defense of Assange is inseparably linked to the fight against the oppressive capitalist system, which is the cause of war, social inequality and all attacks on democratic rights.

An audience of several hundred people, including many students and workers, attended and vigorously applauded the speakers. They attended despite a total establishment media blackout and the hostility of the entire official political set-up towards the defence of Assange.

Opening the rally, Tenenbaum declared, “The Socialist Equality Party has organised this rally to begin the fight to build a powerful defence campaign in Australia, New Zealand and internationally that will bring together all those committed to democratic rights—the right of journalists to inform the population, their right to freedom of speech, and the right of everyone to be informed of the truth. These are issues of the most fundamental character. The suppression of the truth, of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, goes hand in hand with the destruction of democratic rights.”

In his address, James Cogan declared that the rally was “crucial for the working class, because it is part of the greater struggle for all the social and democratic rights of the vast mass of humanity.”

Cogan explained that increasing awareness of and concerns about the danger of war were developing within the working class and youth “in these times when the American president speaks casually of ‘totally destroying’ entire countries with nuclear weapons.”

“Of perhaps the most decisive importance,” Cogan continued, “the working class and the youth are coming back into struggle in the United States—the epicenter of world reaction and capitalist degradation.

“One cannot understand the determination of the American ruling elite to silence WikiLeaks and Assange without an understanding of their fear of the working class. The capitalist ruling classes and their representatives in the US and internationally are terrified of the power that the Internet provides to the working class, to ordinary people.

“It gives them access to alternative analysis and news; the ability to exchange information and opinions; and to politically organise across national borders: to unite together as an international force.”

The speaker observed, “Over the past three weeks, as we have promoted this rally, and the vigils that are taking place on June 19, we have revealed the extent of the support for Assange and WikiLeaks that exists in the working class in Australia and internationally.

“The establishment has abandoned him. Millions of people have not. What governments and political parties do now, at a time when Assange faces immense danger, is not going to be forgotten.”

The speech delivered by John Pilger provided a fierce and penetrating exposure of all those politicians, newspaper editors, journalists, ex-liberals and “ex-lefts” who have abandoned Julian Assange to the wolves. It constituted a powerful defence of democratic rights.

“I know Julian Assange well,” he began. “I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.

“In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the ‘feeling of trust’ that is WikiLeaks’ ‘centre of gravity.’

“This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of ‘exposure [and] criminal prosecution,’ and an unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.

“Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media—those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth. The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists—after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.”

Pilger’s invocation of “Vichy” was a well chosen metaphor, and one that is particularly apt today.

A whole layer of pseudo-left organisations boycotted the rally. Nothing could more clearly expose the relationship between the “identity politics” of this cowardly milieu and the interests of imperialism. They utilised the filthy “rapist” slander campaign, concocted against Assange in Sweden, to line up with their own governments and disown any defence of the courageous whistleblower.

Against this affluent, self-interested and anti-working class layer, Pilger insisted, “No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account. It is as if a one-way moral screen has been pushed back to expose the imperialism of liberal democracies: the commitment to endless warfare and the division and degradation of ‘unworthy’ lives: from Grenfell Tower to Gaza.”

The rally was not a one-off event. The International Committee of the Fourth International will continue to develop and extend the fight for Julian Assange’s freedom throughout the world, and to mobilise the vast social power of the international working class in defence of social and democratic rights. Sunday’s rally underscored the fact that such a struggle can be waged only on the basis of an anti-imperialist, anti-war and socialist perspective.

Linda Tenenbaum

Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today – By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russian Army Gets the Weapons of the Future Today
Andrei AKULOV | 16.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The combat experience that Russia’s Terminator-2 tank support combat vehicle (BMPT-72) has gained in Syria has proven to be invaluable. It is being used to develop a new Terminator-3 version that will soon equip the tank support system to do things like attacking unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Other armored vehicles and dismounted infantry in difficult terrain remain high-priority targets.

Few details are available so far. Like its predecessors, the new vehicle’s armor protection will be equivalent to that of a main battle tank, with armaments allowing it to engage virtually any enemy weapon system or unit and to fire at multiple targets at the same time. Automation makes it possible to reduce the number of crew members from 5 to 3.

The new weapon system is likely to share its chassis, sensors, armor, and active protection system with the new Armata T-14 main battle tank. According to Russian media reports, the main armament will be a 57-mm. gun already used by the Russian Navy. Its rate of fire is 300 rounds per minute, its range — 16 km., and its altitude — over 4 km. The projectile can penetrate armor over 100 mm. thick. Because the firing range of its machine gun and automatic grenade launcher are 60-140% greater than that of the American Bradley IFVs and Stryker wheeled armored vehicles and anti-tank systems, this system can reliably protect tanks and infantry while remaining safely out of reach.

The Zvezda TV channel quoted officials from the weapons manufacturer Techmash who claimed that the Tosochka thermobaric, wheeled-chassis, heavy multiple-rocket launcher is to be delivered to the Russian Army in 2020. Using wheels instead of caterpillar tracks allows it to move faster but also increases the system’s vulnerability when operating on the front lines. One must assume that the MLRS will not be used to fire directly at targets, but will instead shoot at them from protected positions. Wheels make it more effective against terrorist units. It does not need trailers to move rapidly across great distances, which is exactly what is required to forcefully attack militants on different fronts.

Russian officials confirmed in May that the Uran-6 demining robot and the Uran-9 unmanned light battle tank have been tested in Syria. The latter is the first remote-controlled military robot in the world (a miniature tank) with a 30-mm. gun, enabling it to carry out the missions of an armored combat system supporting infantry on the ground.

The Uran-6 is a unique unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), or mine-clearing robotic system, that saves human lives by clearing routes across mine fields. Weighing six tons, it can be transported by truck. With its bulldozer blade and trawls, it can do the work of 20 sappers, neutralizing ordnance with a potential explosive energy of 59 kg. (130 lbs.) of TNT equivalent. Aided by four cameras for 360-degree view, it can be equipped with a large number of tools, such as a robotic arm, a rear forklift, a gripper with a cargo-lifting capacity of one ton, etc. The system can conduct demining operations on any terrain, while remaining at a safe distance of up to one km. away.

Made of steel plates 8 mm-10 mm thick, the vehicle is highly resistant to mine blasts and shrapnel damage. The system can defend itself using 7.62-mm small arms.

Built on the basis of a tracked chassis, the Uran-6 is powered by a 6-cylinder water-cooled, turbo-charged diesel engine, allowing it to move at a speed of up to 15 km., negotiate obstacles 0.8 m. high, cross 1.2-m wide ditches and water obstacles, and operate in swamps 0.45 m. deep. The system is able to work continuously for up to five hours. It did a great job in Palmyra, Syria, defusing bombs and bobby traps. The Russian Army plans to increasingly rely on UGVs as time goes on.

Mainly designed for reconnaissance and patrol purposes, as well as for protecting convoys and supporting infantry, Tigr-M all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles have also seen combat in Syria. With the Arbalet-DM remote module installed, the system becomes robotic. The module consists of a 12.7-mm. caliber Kord machine gun with 150 cartridges or a 7.62-mm caliber PKTM machine gun with 250 cartridges. Laser guidance is used. The Arbalet-DM can lock on and automatically track stationary and moving targets identified by a TV camera from a distance of 2.5 km. or 1.5 km. if thermal-imaging equipment is used. A laser range finder has a range of 100 m.-3,000 m. This new version of Tigr is funded by the 2018-2025 state procurement program.

The Tigr-M has outstanding off-road capabilities. With an operational range of 1.000 km, the vehicle can reach speeds of up to 155 km. per hour. It can climb 31-degree slopes and cross water obstacles that are 1.2 m wide.

The famous, combat-proven BMP-3 heavily armed infantry combat vehicles are to become unmanned too, as soon as the AU-220 combat module armed with a 57-mm. automatic cannon is installed. It will enable the system to strike aerial targets. The gun’s rate of fire is 80 rounds per minute and its range is 14.5 km. Any type of rounds can be used. An armor-piercing round can penetrate 130 mm. of steel from one km. away A coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun can hold 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The module can fully rotate 360 degrees.

The trend is clearly evident — the Russian Army is making great strides in its introduction of new, more highly automated technologies. New weapons that are unlike anything owned by any other country, such as tank support vehicles, are currently either being added to the Russian arsenal or are being developed. The army is also gradually moving away from soldier-to-soldier warfare, turning instead toward combat that is fought by remote-controlled machines driven by artificial intelligence. In March, Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said that a number of military robotic systems were nearing the completion of their trials before going into serial production this year. He was telling the truth. Many nations are working hard to put unmanned systems onto the battlefields, but Russia appears to be leading this race, fielding its military robotics more quickly than anyone else. The very pace of the updates to these armored vehicles captures the imagination.

At Least 525 Palestinians Injured Today by Israeli Forces on the Gaza Border- By Middle East Monitor (MINT PRESS)

Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Al-Quds Day

 

Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

At least 525 Palestinians have been wounded on the Gaza border by Israeli occupation forces who violently suppressed protests as part of Al-Quds Day, the Ministry of Health said today.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said at least seven people were in critical condition as a result of their injuries. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live ammunition at demonstrators as they called for an end to the stifling 11-year blockade. At least three journalists have been wounded as they attempted to cover the protests, with Muhammad Al-Baba suffering injuries to his right leg after a gunshot wound.

Activists on the ground in the east of Khan Younis also reported that ambulances were being targeted with gas bombs by Israeli forces.

Palestinian factions, youth organisations and national figures had called on the public to devote the last Friday of Ramadan to protest against the occupation at the border. Demonstrations also occurred in the occupied West Bank, with events held to mark the Million Man March to Jerusalem at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The latest demonstrations are the first since Palestinian paramedic Razan Al-Najjar was killed by Israeli sniper fire last week. The 21-year-old’s death sparked outrage and an outpouring of grief across the world, with thousands of Palestinians attending her funeral, dubbing her “the angel of mercy.”

At least 123 Gazans have been killed since the Great March of Return started on 30 March. The protests were launched by thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who took to the borders to demand their right of return to their original homelands, called for ending the 11-year siege on Gaza and protested against the opening of the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

Top Photo | Medics treat Palestinian children suffering from teargas inhalation during a protest near Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. Israeli soldiers shot and killed dozens of Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast a pall over Israel’s festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

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Amnesty: US-Led Coalition Committed War Crimes In Raqqa, Syria – By Elliott Gabriel – (MINT PRESS)

This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows damaged buildings in Raqqa, Syria, two days after Syrian Democratic Forces said that military operations to oust ISIS have ended and that their fighters have taken full control of the city. (AP/ Gabriel Chaim)
Mass Destruction

“Everyone we spoke to in Raqqa agreed that Isis had to be defeated. But they asked why their families had to be killed and their city destroyed in the process.”

LONDON — Last year’s Washington-led coalition effort against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the Syrian city of Raqqa included numerous “disproportionate or indiscriminate” attacks on the city, showing little regard for civilian lives and constituting potential war crimes, a new report by Amnesty International stated Tuesday.

The campaign to seize Raqqa spanned June to October of last year, and entailed tens of thousands of U.S. and allied air and artillery strikes in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed force dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia.

The report quotes U.S. Army Sergeant-Major John Wayne Troxell, who said:

In five months they [U.S. Marines] fired 30,000 artillery rounds on ISIS targets… They fired more rounds in five months in Raqqa, Syria, than any other Marine or Army battalion since the Vietnam War… Every minute of every hour we were putting some kind of fire on ISIS in Raqqa, whether it was mortars, artillery, rockets, Hellfires, armed drones, you name it.

“Given that artillery shells have a margin of error of over 100 meters, it is no surprise that the result was mass civilian casualties,” said Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera.


Read more from Elliott Gabriel


Around 90 percent of airstrikes and bombardments and the entirety of artillery strikes were carried out by U.S. military personnel, while the remaining airstrikes were launched by British and French forces. Remaining members of the 70-member U.S.-assembled Coalition assisted the indiscriminate bombing campaign with logistical help, such as refueling warplanes or by helping to identify targets.

Alleged deployment of white phosphorus munitions in Raqqa, Syria. as reported by ISIS-linked Amaq news. (Photo: YouTube)

As MintPress News has reported, Coalition forces also widely deployed white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in spite of its urgings that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refrain from the use of chemical agents in the war.

The report notes:

U.S. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend claimed that the Coalition’s offensive on Raqqa had been ‘the most precise air campaign in the history.’ The reality on the ground could not be more different.”

Throughout the campaign and afterward, journalists and rights monitors warned about the massive destruction of the city that Coalition efforts had led to, with entire civilian districts facing utter destruction due to their unfortunate inclusion in the city. Raqqa had become the administrative capital of the so-called ISIS “caliphate” in 2014, with civilians bearing the brunt of its jihadist brand of Islamist extremism. Rather than being “liberated” by Coalition forces, however, the people of Raqqa instead faced a war of annihilation that claimed thousands of lives while displacing tens of thousands of residents from their homes.

 

The U.S.-led coalition’s indefensible attacks on civilians

Documenting the ordeals of four families whose experiences were typical of the broader ordeal faced by civilians, the report offers further damning evidence that the U.S. and its Coalition partners failed to minimize the potential of killing or harming civilians living in the ISIS-ruled city.

The report detailed the plight of the Aswad family, which lost eight members in a single airstrike, as well as the Badran family which lost 39 members, the Fayad family which lost 16 members and the Hashish family which lost 18 members. In each of the cases, powerful bombs struck buildings full of civilians who had taken up long-term residency there.

Amnesty added that the experiences of the families, who were among 112 civilians interviewed by the group in February, offers “prima facie evidence that several coalition attacks which killed and injured civilians violated international humanitarian law.”

Speaking to the BBC, Coalition spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Sean Ryan said that Amnesty personnel should “leave the comforts of the U.K.” and see for themselves how Coalition forces are “fighting an enemy that does not abide by any laws, norms or human concern,” including the use of non-combatants as human shields “in order to sadistically claim the coalition is killing civilians.”

Yet Amnesty did clearly detail in its report how ISIS jihadists also endangered civilians by hiding among them or placing them in harm’s way.

 

In an opinion piece defending the report, Rovera and Middle East researcher Benjamin Walsby noted:

Everyone we spoke to in Raqqa agreed that Isis had to be defeated. But they asked why their families had to be killed and their city destroyed in the process. The coalition remains stubbornly wedded to the notion that precision airstrikes allowed it to defeat Isis with a minimal cost to civilian life. This is wishful thinking, as Amnesty’s research has revealed in Raqqa (and before that in the Iraqi city of Mosul).”

The report ends with a demand for the Coalition to make a public admission of the civilian deaths in Raqqa, to release information publicly for use in an independent investigation, and to pay reparations to those survivors who suffered due to the indiscriminate or intentional destruction of their neighborhoods, families and homes.

Top Photo | This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows Raqqa effectively destroyed following US-Coalition airstrikes. (AP/ Gabriel Chaim)

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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Pompeo: US Will ‘Not Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon’ – By SPUTNIK

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States is monitoring media reports about Iran’s plans to build up its nuclear capacity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Iranian state media reported earlier in the day that the government has ordered to start operations to boost uranium enrichment in light of the recent US decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Pompeo called Iran’s actions another representation of Tehran’s “foolishly squandering its resources.” Therefore, protests in the country come as no surprise, the US secretary of state concluded.US President Donald Trump announced in May that the United States would pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump also decided to restore wide-ranging sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions against financial institutions of third countries doing business with Tehran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.The deal stipulated the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

The West is racing towards full-blown economic collapse and when it comes it will be devastating – By Egon von Greyerz /King World News (SOTT)

eye on the world

As the world edges closer to the next crisis, today the man who has become legendary for his predictions on QE and historic moves in currencies, told King World News there is no way out and this is why the global collapse will be devastating.

20th Birthday Celebration!

The ECB (European Central Bank) just had its 20th birthday. But there is really nothing to celebrate. The EU is in a total mess and the Euro, which was launched on January 1, 1999, is a failed currency. Every president of the ECB has had to deal with fires that had very little to do with price stability but were more a question of survival. Most of these fires were a lot more serious than the candles in the Euro cake above which Draghi is trying to blow out. During the Frenchman Trichet’s watch, he had to deal with the Great Financial Crisis that started in 2006…

West Racing Toward Full-Blown Collapse

The only mandate of the ECB is to maintain price stability. Well that clearly has been a very costly exercise. Between 2006 and 2011 the ECB balance sheet tripled from €1 trillion to €3 trillion. But the crisis didn’t finish in 2011. After a brief reduction in debt, the balance sheet expanded fast from €2.3 trillion in 2014 to €4 trillion today. It is quite remarkable to watch the creation of a supranational bank which automatically creates a purpose for its own existence in the form of massive money printing. This is no better than burning money and serves no purpose whatsoever. And it is of course far distant from its purpose of price stability.

Money printing creates high inflation and eventually hyperinflation. The only reason why we haven’t seen high conventional inflation in the EU is that all the printed money, just like in the US, has stayed with the banks. The result has been low inflation in consumer products but huge asset inflation. Thus, we have seen massive increases in stock, bond and property prices but not in consumer prices. So major money creation by the ECB and the Eurozone banks have so far had only minor inflationary impact. But as the velocity of money increases, so will inflation. This moment is not far away. The same will happen in the US. As velocity of money accelerates, US inflation will pick up rapidly.

The EU now has major economic and/or political problems in many countries. Italy’s new coalition government is a protest against the EU and Euro. With debt to GDP already the highest in Europe, the new regime will exacerbate the problems. Lower taxes and higher spending will guarantee that. As the chart below shows, Italian debt to GDP is already 140%. By 2050 this is projected to grow to 210%. As interest rates go up, servicing the growing debt will soon absorb all tax revenue. Italy will be bankrupt long before 2050 and default on all its debt.

Italian debt

Between now and 2050, the Italian working age population is forecast to decline by 1/3, from 36 million to 24 million. There will be a lot less people to pay for a much higher debt.

Italian working-age population

The consequences of massive debt, economic stagnation and population decline will be a much lower GDP, which is expected to decline 35% by 2050.

GDP 2016-2050

If the above forecast of a major fall in the population as well as a substantial increase in debt is even vaguely accurate, Italy is on its way to the Dark Ages.

I must stress here that I find it so sad that this glorious country is suffering so much already and will suffer a lot more. Personally I love Italy – the people, the food, the architecture, the history and the Giola di Vivere (joie de vivre) of the Italians. It will be so tragic to see all of this disintegrate. Hopefully it will take a long time, although, sadly, the crisis might actually be around the corner.

But Italy is just one of many countries which will collapse in coming years. Spain is in a similar situation and the prime minister has just been kicked out. Greece’s problems have never been resolved and this fine country is also bankrupt and so are the Greek banks. I could go on with Portugal, France, Ireland, the UK and many others. Most of these countries have insoluble problems. It is only a matter of degree and time when the EU/Eurozone house of cards comes down. The map below shows potential leaving countries and names.

EU leaving countries

Coming back to the ECB’s main objective of price stability, that has failed totally. The change from the local currencies of mark, franc, lira, pesetas, etc, has disguised what has really happened. Many countries like, Spain, Italy Portugal and Greece, used to be very inexpensive when they had their own currency. That is no longer the case. The change to the Euro has hidden the real inflation that has taken place in these countries. No wonder the Germans called it the TEURO. Teuer in German means expensive.

EU flag

The consequence of one currency fits all is a disaster for the weaker Eurozone countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal etc. The Euro is much too strong for these countries. This leads to weak exports as well as balance of payment and budget deficits. Countries like Germany on the other hand, benefit from a weak Euro which generates strong exports and surpluses. But the other side of the coin is that the ECB, which means mainly Germany, must finance the deficits of the weaker countries. And we all know that these debts will never be repaid. So whatever way you turn, the EU experiment will end in disaster. It is only a matter of how long it will take.

The Major Disease The World Will Face In Coming Years

If Italy, Greece or Spain had their own currencies, these would have weakened substantially already. Currency debasement is going to be the major contagious disease that the world will have to live with in coming years. It will happen to most currencies and spread like wildfire. Like many diseases, it normally starts in the periphery. Just take the examples of Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. The currencies of these three countries have collapsed in this century and the fall is now accelerating.

The Turkish lira has lost 97% against gold since January 2000, and the fall is now picking up speed. For anyone who has been protected in gold, the gold price has gone up 38x vs the lira in the last 18 years (see chart below).

currency vs gold

The problem is worse in Argentina. Argentina used to have a very strong economy 100 years ago but lately they have gone through one crisis after the next. The Peso has lost 99% against gold since 2000. This means that gold is up 119x vs the peso in this century.

Finally let us look at the perfect example of a disastrously managed socialist economy with the resulting hyperinflation. I am taking about Venezuela of course. The Bolivar has lost 99.999% against gold since January 2000. So it now costs 550,000X more Bolivars to purchase an ounce of gold just in this century.

Comment: Except that Venezuela and it’s “disastrously managed socialist economy” has been a major target of financial, political and social sabotage for all those years from the empire to its north.

This all might sound unreal. These three currencies have lost between 97% and 99.999% in just 18 years. Well, it certainly isn’t unreal to the people in the three countries who have to suffer these precipitous losses of value of their money and disastrous falls in their standards of living.

And don’t think for one second that their governments told them to protect themselves, even when they knew they were going to print unlimited amounts of fiat money. No, the people had no warning. It is the same in all Western countries today. Governments in Europe, the US and Japan, just to mention a few, are already on the way to destroying their currencies in the 2000s. As the table shows, the Euro is down 75%, the Dollar 78% and the Yen 79% against gold since 2000. So inflation, leading to hyperinflation is already on the way in the West. It always starts slowly, although the fall so far in the last 18 years is already significant.

EU currency

But no government talks about how they are destroying their currency and no Western government tells their people to protect themselves by holding gold. They do the opposite. They manipulate the price of gold and see gold as a barbarous relic that has no place in a modern currency system. We know why they do this, of course, because gold can’t be printed or debased. Also, the gold price reveals their deceitful actions in ruining the currency and the economy.

Finally let’s look at two countries that understand gold and where the people buy and hold gold in important quantities.

Chindia gold demand

As the above chart shows, China and India have bought almost 25,000 tonnes since 2008. This means that on average they have bought the majority of annual gold mine production each year.

So my advice to investors is to learn from the recent economic problems/disasters in Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela. Any amount of personal gold, even very small, would have saved the holders in these countries from misery. It is also critical to heed the strong warning signs of deep trouble coming in Europe, Japan and the USA. A 75-79% fall in the currencies of these countries is telling us that they will all go to their intrinsic value of ZERO in the next few years.

And more importantly:

IGNORE THE PROPAGANDA FROM WESTERN GOVERNMENTS AND BANKS WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND HISTORY OR GOLD. INSTEAD FOLLOW THE LEAD OF CHINA AND INDIA AND PROTECT YOURSELVES AGAINST THE COMING DESTRUCTION OF PAPER MONEY, WITH PHYSICAL GOLD AND SOME SILVER.” For those who would like to read more of Egon von Greyerz’s fantastic articles CLICK HERE.

Comment: See also: Gold set to breakout amid coming economic downturn, says financial expert

Singer-songwriter Roger Waters calls for defence of Assange By WSWS

By our reporters
4 June 2018

The above message was displayed above the stage of musician Roger Waters’ “Us + Them 2018” concert in Berlin, Germany on June 2.

Roger Waters was part of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd from 1965 to 1985. For the past 33 years, he has continued a solo career, which has included staging the largest live concert event in history.

Throughout his long career, singer-songwriter Waters has spoken out publicly against war, oppression and injustice.

He emailed the World Socialist Web Site last month to convey his support for international action to defend Julian Assange.

OAS Panel Dutifully Ignores Zionist Abuses, Pushes Venezuela Regime Change – by Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

 

WASHINGTON — Venezuela is in the vise-grip of a deep crisis; this much was undeniable even prior to the release of a 400-page report by a dubious “independent panel of experts” at the Organization of American States (OAS).

For the past several years, the South American country has been mired in crippling inflation, major shortages of food and goods, and widespread political turmoil. Tens of thousands of desperate people have spilled across the border, multiplying the presence of unauthorized Venezuelan migrants across the Andes. Cities have witnessed violent clashes between the anti-Chavista­ U.S.-backed opposition and the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, with opposition forces firebombing public transportation systems and children’s hospitals, and even burning alleged Chavistas alive in broad daylight.

Meanwhile, the streets themselves — deprived of economic security – have become the stage for a virtual war between criminal elements, both organized and unorganized, and state security forces.

Yet, lost amid the laser-sharp focus on the “violence” of the Bolivarian Republic, the structural violence of U.S. imperialist hegemony remains undiscussed, almost taboo, and thus escapes culpability for the ruinous plight of the people of Venezuela.

 

The OAS: Washington’s “Ministry of Colonies”

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles speaks to the media following his meeting with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, at the OAS building in Washington, March 31, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Chief among the tools used by Washington in its withering economic siege on Venezuela is the OAS. Formed at the dawn of the Cold War in 1948, the OAS was conceived for the purpose of providing the nations of the Western Hemisphere with the ability to settle disputes through mediation, arbitration, dialogue and good-faith peace-building measures.

Since then, however, the Washington-based OAS has come to be regarded as a vulgar tool of U.S. imperialism – earning the title of the “U.S. Ministry of Colonies” from Havana following post-revolutionary Cuba’s expulsion from the body in 1961. As such, it is now being wielded for the express purpose of effecting “regime change” in Caracas, a move that would not only remove a major regional obstacle to U.S. domination of the region but would also open the door to the exploitation of Venezuela’s massive crude oil deposits – as well as its people – by Western multinational corporations.

On May 29, the OAS panel of “independent experts” convened in Washington to build the case for toppling the Bolivarian government and prosecuting Maduro at the International Criminal Court (ICC). As journalist Max Blumenthal said:

The panel comprised a collection of aggressive advocates of regime change in Venezuela. I attended the event to question the self-proclaimed experts on their ulterior agenda and the absurd contradictions behind their claims to support universal human rights.”

Let’s look at one example of such absurdity, as embodied by former Canadian Justice Minister, human rights celebrity, and “independent expert” Irwin Cotler.

 

An advocate for “universal” human rights … with exceptions

Cotler — an international human-rights lawyer and former Conservative, who recently joined Canada’s ruling Liberal Party — has long stood at the forefront of the West’s inquisitions against the governments of the Global South. While he has made questionable claims that he represented anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela in court, he has also championed right-wing Venezuelan coup leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez holds a Venezuelan national flag as he greets a group of opposition protesters outside his home in Caracas, Venezuela, July 8, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

Speaking to The Canadian Jewish News upon his appointment to the OAS panel last October, Cotler said:

The international experts panel is as timely as it is necessary. As Venezuela slides into dictatorship … and the human suffering of the Venezuelan people intensifies, the restoration of democracy and human rights while combating the culture of impunity is an overriding priority.”

Yet while Cotler has spoken passionately about the plight of human rights victims in some parts of the world – earning the title of “Counsel for the Oppressed” from flagship Canadian magazine Maclean’s – the award-winning rights champion has simultaneously shown scant concern for the plight of the Palestinian people suffering genocide at the hands of an Israeli state that acts with complete impunity.

Surely the plight of Gaza – which has been subjected to 11 years of a suffocating siege by land, air, and sea – would elicit a twinge of sympathy from any supporter of “universal human rights”? Sadly, not only has this not been the case but Cotler’s antipathy toward extending “universal” rights to Palestinians was made shockingly clear in his unflinching accusation that resistance-movement Hamas was to blame for the shocking massacre of 62 unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip last month.

If Cotler deserves distinction, it is for his fanatical devotion to the Zionist project, and his knee-jerk rallying to the defense of its actions on the basis of defending the right of the Jewish “original aboriginal people” to an ethno-religious colony built atop the freshly-bulldozed or bombed homes of Palestinians.

Israeli apartheid institutions deny the people of Palestine their own universal right to self-determination by imposing suffocating restrictions on their movement, travel, and trade. Israeli security forces have been criticized by rights organizations for resorting to the very kinds of excessive and wanton force for which Cotler has castigated Venezuela — including the extrajudicial killing and torture of unarmed Palestinians, including children. While Cotler has called on Western countries to intervene in cases of genocide, he is firmly against any criticism of Israeli apartheid or the construction of huge settlements within the occupied West Bank, which remains illegal under international law despite the apathy of Ottawa and Washington.


Read more from Elliott Gabriel


In the eyes of Cotler, the State of Israel and the Jewish People are one in the same. For this partisan of the universal application of human rights law, any criticism of Tel Aviv – whether its leadership is Labor or Likud, liberal-colonial or fascist-colonial – is a manifestation of the “new anti-Semitism” and the denial of Israel’s right to live as equals in the “Family of Nations,” as the tired old Zionist cliché goes.

It’s as if Cotler — whose ruling Liberal Party prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has apologized for Canada’s settler-colonial crimes against First Nations peoples — sees the “Family of Nations” as those countries — such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia — that completely did away with their indigenous populations. So now the European Jews who claim “Israel” as their home deserve a crack at it. Understood.

But what boundless cynicism does it require to claim with a straight face that the human-rights situation in Venezuela is even worse than that in the Gaza Strip – where Israeli bombings are routine, a blockade prevents medical goods and foodstuffs from entering the enclave, and the Israelis experiment with cruelly novel forms of repression and over a decade of collective punishment against a people guilty of resisting, and voting for what he calls “terror group Hamas”?

Palestinian protesters gather in front of burned tires while Israeli soldiers fire teargas during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, Friday, April 6, 2018. Palestinians torched piles of tires near Gaza's border with Israel on Friday, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air and drawing Israeli fire that killed one man in the second large protest in the volatile area in a week. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Of course, Cotler has also explicitly called for the “Responsibility to Protect” the people of Syria from “mass atrocity crimes” committed by the “regime” of President Bashar al-Assad. What else could one expect from such a typically hypocritical Western human-rights imperialist?

As Blumenthal noted in a recent interview with The Real News:

Whenever Israel committed some kind of atrocity, the Mavi Marmara massacre or one war after another in Gaza, Cotler would rush out, just like Dershowitz, as Israel’s public advocate … So, he’s just a suspicious, sort of morally dubious, figure. And for him to be on this panel, I think they just deserved to be questioned about that.”

 

The OAS panel: a mouthpiece of imperialism

Cotler is far from alone among the morally dubious figures arrogating moral authority to themselves; OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro has also praised the Israelis, favorably comparing the scandal-ridden Netanyahu government to that of Maduro, despite the latter head of state not having launched aggressive wars on his own population or neighboring states. In the meantime, Almagro has been relatively silent in respect to the Western Hemisphere’s most pressing human-rights crises — such as the Mexican government’s crackdowns on social movements resisting neoliberal structural reforms, assassinations of social movement leaders and paramilitary attacks on rural and Indigenous communities throughout Latin America, and the parliamentary coup against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The OAS panel on crimes against humanity in Venezuela is overseen by Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno Ocampo, another friend of the Israelis. The former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has advised the Israelis on how to evade criminal charges for their perpetual expansion of illegal settlements — maintaining that the settler-colonial state could wage a successful defense by manipulating international perceptions through legal arguments justifying the displacement of Palestinians and expropriation of their land, “once [legal permission is] ratified by the [Israeli] top court,” which Ocampo called “highly respected internationally.”

Ocampo hasn’t met a regime-change operation he hasn’t liked: while heading the ICC prosecutor’s office, he has called for warrants to arrest Sudanese President Omar Bashir, late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his officials, and Syria’s president. His seeming obsession with toppling leaders in the postcolonial world led Gambia Information Minister Sheriff Bojang to note in October 2016 that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color.”

As one can clearly see, the figures comprising the OAS panel are hardly “independent” and instead represent the White House and right-wing Latin America’s agenda to wage a violent coup against what remains of Venezuelan democracy.

Rather than serving the cause of humanitarianism and human rights, Cotler and his accomplices are selling their legal “expertise” to the cause of creating further suffering for the Venezuelan people through a stepped-up sanctions blockade – the preliminary step toward overthrowing the Bolivarian Republic and reducing a proudly independent nation to a state of neocolonial bondage.

Top Photo | Demonstrators gather in Bolivar Square to show their support of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela and Palestinian medics evacuate a colleague wounded by Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel (AP/Adel Hana).

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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Over 70 Syrian tribal leaders form coalition to expel illegal US and French forces from Syria – By SPUTNIK

syrian tribal leaders coalition june 2018

The tribal leaders announced the formation of a popular resistance unit that will fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army in a bid to liberate all Syrian lands and all foreign forces in Syria.

The presence of US troops in Syria is escalating tensions between government forces and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with some politicians and Syrian Army officers accusing the SDF of serving as “puppets” for the US and other western powers.

In excess of 70 Syrian tribal leaders met in the Aleppo Governorate, specifically the city of Deir Hafer, over the weekend to discuss plans and coordinate with one another to remove US forces from Syria, Al-Masdar News reported on Sunday.

Via a joint statement, the tribes, which are predominately Sunni Muslims, announced the formation of a coalition to oust US and French military personnel from Syria, in addition to liberating territory held by the SDF, provided Damascus is unable to negotiate a reconciliation deal with them.

#حسين_مرتضى The Syrian clans announce the formation of resistance factions to confront the American, French and Turkish occupation.
The tribesmen also reportedly discussed the prospect of fighting Turkish forces in northwestern Syria.

The different tribes hail from various parts of Syria which are currently occupied by US-backed forces, including the oil-rich provinces of Deir ez-Zor and al-Hasakah.

Although there’s been some low-level, sporadic clashes and attacks on SDF bases in northern Syria in recent months, particularly in the Raqqa Governorate, where the Popular Resistance of Raqqa (PRoR) operates, we are yet to see the[m] launch a widescale, continuous anti-SDF operation, by either the Syrian Army or local militiamen.

However, in a recent interview with RT, President Bashar al-Assad warned that a widescale anti-SDF offensive would be launched if negotiations fail.

In the meantime, the Syrian Army is mobilizing and deploying forces to southern Syria ahead of a major offensive in the Deraa government, where militants control a large chunk of territory, including parts of the provincial capital.

Last Friday, a military source confirmed to Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem that Hezbollah troops and other Iran-backed militiamen won’t be involved in the offensive, likely as part of an acceptable compromise reached with Israel via Russian mediators.

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Pepe Escobar: Why India is brushing aside US sanctions and sticking with Iran – By Pepe Escobar (SOTT)

Iran oil

Pay very close attention to what India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier this week in New Delhi:

“Our foreign policy is not made under pressure from other countries … We recognize UN sanctions and not country-specific sanctions. We didn’t follow US sanctions on previous occasions either.”

After fellow BRICS members China and Russia, India left no margin for doubt. And there’s more; India will continue to buy oil from Iran – its third top supplier – and is willing to pay in rupees via state bank UCO, which is not exposed to the US. India bought 114% more oil from Iran during the financial year up to March 2018 than in the previous term.

India-US trade amounts to $115 billion a year. In comparison, India-Iran trade is only $13 billion a year. India may grow an impressive 7% in 2018 and has reached a GDP of $2.6 trillion, according to the IMF, ahead of France, Italy, Brazil and Russia. To keep growing, India badly needs energy.

So for New Delhi, buying Iranian energy is a matter of national security. Couple it with the obsession in bypassing Pakistan, and it’s clear this is all about a complex interconnection of geopolitics and geoeconomics.

The comprehensive India and Iran partnership revolves around energy, trade and investment connectivity corridors, banking, insurance, shipping and – crucially – the imminent possibility of doing everything using the rupee and the rial, bypassing the US dollar.

India-Iran already trade in euros – so that is step one in bypassing the long arm of the US Department of the Treasury. Both nations are still using SWIFT. Assuming the EU does not give in to the unilateral US violation of the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, India’s oil imports won’t be sanctioned.

If that’s the case, step two will be turbo-charging the already booming trade in rupees and rials to the energy front – facilitated by the fact Tehran has invested in upgrading and perfecting insurance for its fleet of tankers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) energy strategy, unsurprisingly, needs to cover all fronts; solar, wind, oil and gas. Not only is Iran central to the strategy; Central Asia also features heavily, with New Delhi eagerly expecting to import oil and gas from Turkmenistan, certainly transiting via Iran and Kazakhstan.

New Delhi, by all means, needs plenty of access to natural gas from South Pars, the largest gas fields on the planet; either via the still ongoing Pipelineistan soap opera IPI (the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline) or, more plausibly, an underwater pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean.

Enter the Indo-Pacific Command

Also not surprisingly, the Holy Grail for India is Iran-related: the so far $500 million investment in Chabahar port in the Indian Ocean, as well as completing the Chabahar-Zahedan railway. Chabahar is the starting point of the Indian version of the New Silk Roads, linking India to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

For Indian trade, a straight sea lane to Iran and then overland to Central Asia, including direct access to the mineral wealth of Afghanistan, is absolutely invaluable. A trilateral memorandum of understanding signed two years ago committed $21 billion: $9 billion for the whole Chabahar project and the rest for developing Afghan iron ore.

If Iran, for Beijing, is a solid hub in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and an essential plank in the Eurasia integration project, Tehran is simultaneously courted by New Delhi as a counterpunch to one of BRI’s standout projects, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

So it’s no wonder that the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi continuously raves about the India-Afghanistan-Iran connectivity corridor, “from culture to commerce, from traditions to technology, from investments to IT, from services to strategy and from people to politics,” in the words of Swaraj.

Washington’s counterpunch so far has been to rename PACOM – the Pacific Command, which includes India, China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, Australia, Antarctica, in fact, the entire Pacific Ocean – as the “Indo-Pacific Command,” thus flattering New Delhi. Most of all, the move aligns with the Indo-Pacific strategy deployed by the Quad – US, India, Japan, Australia – which is a barely disguised containment of the China follow-up mechanism to the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia.

It’s still unclear how the Trump administration might “punish” New Delhi for non-stop trading with Tehran. In the case of Russia – also under sanctions – pressure is relentless. India has been encouraged not to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia. The excuse is not exactly subtle; that would “complicate interoperability” with US forces and “limit … the degree with which the United States will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology” into India, according to House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). New Delhi will announce its decision in October.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, on June 9, will be the privileged arena to discuss all these issues. Russia, China, India and Pakistan, as full members, will be there, as well as Iran and Afghanistan as current observers and, inevitably, future members. It’s clear that fellow SCO/BRICS members China, Russia and India will refuse to isolate Iran. And there’s nothing the Indo-Pacific Command can do about it.

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