Saudis Intensify Hodeida Offensive, as Clamor Rises for US to Stop Supplying Weapons – By Ahmed Abdulkareem – MINT PRESS

Yemeni scholars and tribes held the U.S. responsible for the atrocities of the Saudi-led military alliance against civilians in Yemen, calling for Washington to stop selling weapons to Saudi-led coalition — weapons that have been used against innocents in Yemen in atrocities such as the recent school-bus attack.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — More than 15 Yemeni fishermen lost their lives and several others sustained injuries in Hodeida, western Yemen, on Sunday, when U.S.-Saudi airstrikes targeted their fishing boats off the Sawabi Islands, and Kadahah, south of the city.

AbdulQader al Wadei, Head of General Authority for Marine Fisheries in the Red Sea told MintPress:

An iron boat owned by Ahmed Bin Ahmed Haieshah, a civilian based in Hodeida who has a number of boats, was targeted by warships after it left al Kadaha district in Khukhah, killing 12 fishermen; there are no survivors.”

Also, two Saudi warplanes struck a boat bearing the number 11201, near to al Madkoub Dhaher island, killing four fishermen and injuring six. The boat belongs to 40-year-old Yahya Mohammed Abdullah, a father to seven who lives in the city of Hodeida; four fishermen remained unaccounted for.

Since 2015, when the U.S.-Saudi-led coalition military campaign against Yemen began, 217 fishermen have been killed, 204 wounded, and four others missing, according to the General Authority for Marine Fisheries in its press conference held today in Hodeida.

The General Authority for Marine Fisheries said that the coalition attacks have destroyed 205 fishing boats in 70 operations launched during the past three years. The Ministry added that more than $ 5.5 billion is the total loss of the fish sector in the Red Sea through the end of last July.

 

 

A new escalation of the attack against Hodeida

These attacks come amidst an escalation of the attack against Hodeida, as the coalition mounted a new offensive in Duraihami, southern Hodeida, four days after laying a siege to the heavily-populated area.

“We are trapped in our houses, we can not move anywhere, the city is being constantly targeted by airstrikes, rocket attacks, and artillery without discrimination,” 50-year-old Ali Qassem al Dreihemi said to MintPress in a phone call. “There are some people who have bled to death in the street, and no one dared to help them because of airstrikes that target passers-by, paramedics, and fleeing civilians on purpose; some corpses have decayed.”

Meanwhile, UAE Apache attack helicopters conducted aerial attacks on government buildings,  homes, farms, shops, mosques and health centers in the city, without safe corridors for civilians to flee. “We live in a state of terror during Tuesday; Amimah and Sa`eed are terrified. Somebody helps us,” a mother of three children sent a message via SMS to her brother in Sanaa.

The Ministry of Public Health and Population said in a statement to MintPress:

Dozens were killed and wounded, mostly children, women and the elderly. The coalition has also imposed a land and air siege on the city. It has been preventing the citizens’ cars and ambulances from transferring the wounded to Hodeida’s hospitals.”

While local authorities and humanitarian organizations are trying to cope with a severe shortage of food and medicines due to the U.S.-Saudi siege, the attacks have also crippled internet coverage across the region, making it almost impossible for residents to contact the outside world.

In prior, the Saudi-led coalition announced a military operation to seize the Duraihami District backed by air power, rockets, artillery and a ground offensive, as well as militia groups loyal to Yemen’s ousted former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. They claimed to take into consideration a fragile humanitarian situation to avoid civilian casualties

The bombing of fishing boats was among the dozens of massive attacks that targeted civilians this month. In one of the bloody attacks, U.S.-Saudi warplanes targeted a school bus in Dhahian, northwestern province of Sa’ada last week, leaving 40 children dead, using an American bomb.

On August 3, the coalition launched its initial salvo of airstrikes on a fish market and al Thwarah Hospital — 60 civilians were killed and 130 were wounded. Also, four fishing boats were targeted off of Hodeida’s coast inside of Yemen’s territorial waters, killing multiple fishermen.

 

Yemeni scholars and tribes call to stop selling weapons to Saudi-led Coalition

Yemeni scholars and tribes have called on all freedom-loving people worldwide, leaders, activists, and clerics, to raise their voices and fulfill their humanitarian and religious duties in the face of the Saudi-led coalition`s criminal acts against civilians in Yemen. In a statement released on Sunday, they held the United States responsible for the atrocities of the Saudi-led military alliance against civilians in Yemen, calling for Washington to stop selling weapons to Saudi-led coalition — weapons that have been used against innocents in Yemen in atrocities such as the recent school-bus attack.

The Saudi-led coalition claims the port of Hodeida is a lucrative source of revenue for the Houthis and was used in an attack against oil tankers. But Houthis deny these claims and have agreed to allow port revenue to be monitored by the United Nations if employee salaries are paid. They also suspended retaliatory attacks against Saudi-led coalition forces in the Red Sea for weeks in order to bring an end to attacks against Hodeida. But the coalition did not stop its attacks.

The Saudi-led blockade of Hodeida port over the last three years — which has prevented medical supplies, food, and humanitarian aid from reaching Yemen — has created one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the modern era.

 

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News and local Yemeni media.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

President Putin Visits Germany – Peter KORZUN – STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION

President Putin Visits Germany
Peter KORZUN | 20.08.2018 | WORLD / Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has wound up his European trip to include the Austrian FM’s wedding ceremony and talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The drop-in visit to Austria showed that Putin enjoys good personal relations with the representatives of Europe’s political beau monde. They see nothing odd in inviting him to social events, such as the wedding of Austrian FM Karin Kneissl, especially if the organizers want to grab the media spotlight.

This was followed by a summit with the German chancellor — the second time the two leaders have met in just over three months. The previous meeting took place in the Black Sea city of Sochi in May. The chancellor has visited Russia several times.

The “Meseberg Castle talks” in Germany were substantive and detailed, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has noted, but evidently important enough that few details were made public. For some time the leaders talked tête-à-tête without interpreters. They compared notes on Ukraine (including the prospects for a UN-sponsored peace mission and the EU’s new role of mediator), Syria (and the problems of its reconstruction), the US sanctions on Iran, and the future of the Nord Stream 2 undersea gas-pipeline project.

There were no agreements planned for the meeting, but the “America First” policy is pushing these two countries that are divided by their different views on international issues toward a closer cooperation. Russia can play a very important role in creating the right conditions under which the Syrian refugees could leave Germany and return home, thus mitigating that pressing problem. Syria’s reconstruction is opening up new opportunities for Russian-German cooperation.

President Putin and Chancellor Merkel discussed the idea of a meeting on Syria involving the leaders of France and Turkey as well as Russia and Germany. They agreed to launch new talks under this format. No date for that four-nation summit was set.

Some time ago, such a visit to Germany and Austria was hardly conceivable and any hope of reviving a dialog would have seemed far-fetched. The times are changing, reflecting the need to get that relationship back to normal. Conflicts and negative emotions are giving way to cool-headed, constructive approaches. Besides, Russia has demonstrated its ability to resist pressure.

Right on the eve of the Putin-Merkel summit, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the sanctions being prepared by the US to stop Nord Stream 2. It’s time for Germany to stand tall and continue to pursue that project. During the talks with President Putin, Chancellor Merkel said that’s exactly what she is going to do. A cursory look at history supports her position.

In the early 1980s the administration of US President Ronald Reagan was trying to prevent Western Europe and the Soviet Union from working together over energy. Sanctions were used as an instrument to force them into submission. Despite that, the “Brotherhood” pipeline (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod), also dubbed the Siberian pipeline or the Yamal project, was born in the heat of the Cold War. The framework agreement between West Germany and the USSR was signed in July 1981. Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik policy was continued, to everyone’s benefit. In November 1982, the sanctions were lifted, and on January 1, 1984, natural gas started to flow. The similarity between Yamal and Nord Stream 2 is obvious. Resisting pressure benefits the one who refuses to kneel.

Germany is not alone. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a strong supporter of Nord Stream 2. The Republic of Austria became the first country in Western Europe to sign a gas contract with the Soviet Union in 1968. In 2017, a new record for Russian gas exports to Austria was set at 9.1 billion cubic meters, an increase of 50.3% (3 billion cubic meters) from 2016 (6.1 billion cubic meters) and 33.8% (2.3 billion cubic meters) from 2005, when the previous record had been reached (6.8 billion cubic meters).

Donald Trump is very critical of the German chancellor, whose government is not as strong as it used to be. The idea to withdraw American forces from Germany has recently been floated. The ongoing rift between the US and its European NATO allies opens up the question of the continent’s security.

Before the July NATO summit, the chancellor came out in support of President Macron’s initiative to create a European expeditionary force. It was Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current German president and then foreign minister, who launched a European armscontrol initiative in 2016. And it was West Germany who signed the Treaty of Moscow with the USSR in August, 1970 which contributed to détente. During the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel emphasized that disagreements with Moscow must be resolved through dialog. She feels that there are many conflicts that can be settled if the two nations cooperate.

Indeed, Russia and Germany historically have had a special relationship. They began cooperating economically and working to ease political tensions against the backdrop of confrontation between the West and East. They can do so again. The Meseberg meeting showed that both sides realize the importance of dialog and the need to avoid at all costs any return to the Cold War. 

The Geopolitics of Energy – By Andreas ANDRIANOPOULOS – Strategic Culture Foundation

The Geopolitics of Energy

Some brief notes on the situation around the world with respect to the influence that energy has on political developments.

1. The Middle East

The Middle East continues to play a major role in the global energy scene. Notwithstanding changes that have occurred in the political situation of many countries in the area — i.e., Libya, Iraq, Qatar, and Iran — the Middle East still remains one of the most important providers of oil and natural gas in the world. This is why many global powers, namely the United States, China, and Russia, keep a close eye on developments there. Events in Iraq, Iran, and on the Arabian peninsula continue to ring alarm bells in major world capitals, since whatever happens there has severe repercussions on the price of energy. This in turn affects the economic welfare of many parts of the world and puts huge strains on the diplomatic efforts of major countries to design policies to deal with the resulting problems.

The antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran sets off a variety of political reverberations affecting the countries of the Persian Gulf, unsettling the situation between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and entangling Russia and the United States in the ensuring imbroglio.

The countries of North Africa, Egypt, and of course Israel/Palestine are part of the same puzzle that mixes energy and diplomacy at every step of the way.

2. The Russian Federation

Russia plays a crucial role in the politics of global energy. Russia is one of the world’s most important exporters of oil and natural gas. This means that apart from playing a pivotal role in the formation of world energy prices, its presence, behaviour, and diplomatic manoeuvring is of paramount importance when it comes to energy security and the possibility of preventing or causing peripheral animosities or establishing peace and stability.

The role of the Russian Federation cannot be viewed apart from what is happening in the energy-rich, formerly Soviet Central Asian republics. The so-called -Stans (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan) are major players in today’s energy markets. Whatever they do, however, cannot be seen as separate from what Russia is doing or from Russia’s intentions. Although some of them, primarily Azerbaijan, have initiated projects that are not aligned with Moscow’s goals, they nevertheless need to behave in ways that do not upset their powerful northern neighbour on whom they are heavily reliant, to some extent, for their welfare (due to their dependence on oil and gas pipeline networks).

Politics is therefore deeply intertwined with energy in most of those cases, bringing diplomacy front and centre as a determinant of behaviour and economic outcomes.

3. Latin America

There have been many upsets in Latin America in recent years, creating uncertainty about how energy is managed. Venezuela, for starters, embarked upon policies that unsettled markets and led to unpleasant outcomes. Under President Chavez and then his successor Maduro after the former’s death, foreign companies were expelled, all energy facilities nationalized, and the decision was made to “spread all the wealth around” to the people. The end result was that all foreign investment dried up, the state went bankrupt, and foreign aid was needed to sustain some level of energy availability! Something similar happened in Bolivia, and Brazil has been rocked by scandals in its oil sector, while Petrobrazil has been dashed against the rocks, taking its country’s new socialist leadership along with it.

The rising hopes of economic well-being in the continent collapsed in the disasters that followed their newly emergent leaderships’ policies of nationalization, reducing those budding economies to ruins.

4. Northern Europe

Europe’s problem is that, with the exception of North Sea oil and gas, it relies entirely on imports to provide it with a comfortable level of energy. Thus, events in the Middle East and the Russian stance toward the continent determines whether it is adequately supplied with energy or faces shortages.

The deposits in the North Sea have kept some European states (Britain and Scandinavia among others) well supplied for quite a while. But unfortunately there is a strong suspicion that these deposits are diminishing at a dangerous rate. As a result Europe will gradually become dependent on imports from the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, and the Atlantic (Angola, Brazil, Mexico, and the US). The situation is disquieting since Japan, and more recently, China, are seeking to buy their own supplies from the same sources.

Europe is obviously going to face difficulties in the future, but those problems can be resolved by Russia, on the one hand, and the discovery of shale gas and oil through fracking in the USA and Canada on the other. This opens up many opportunities for diplomacy to explore ways to establish new alliances and understandings. But Europe will ultimately be dependent on the goodwill of other countries.

5. The United States

After taking over the reins of world dominance from Britain, the USA continued to pay particular attention to events in the Middle East. Although the Americans had energy deposits of their own, they nevertheless wanted to safeguard the stability of world supplies, mainly to guarantee the security and welfare of most of their allies. Although their total dependence on supplies from the Gulf and North Africa never exceeded 12% of their annual needs, they were well aware of the fact that for Europe and Japan, stability in those regions was crucial for the unobstructed flow of energy. In the event of disruption, the USA would also find itself in a difficult situation. This was because its allies would be rushing to purchase oil from the same suppliers that served America’s needs. Angola, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, and the North Sea would be stretched to their limits in order to quench the energy thirst of the world. And this equation has become more complicated as China and India have entered a phase of high energy consumption.

Thus, American involvement in the affairs of the Middle East has become a regular occurrence, leading to strange compromises, especially with respect to developments in the Islamic world. The defence of Saudi Arabia continued even after the attacks on 9/11, despite the fact that most of the terrorists who killed themselves were Wahabi devotees who came from the Saudi lands or from other Gulf states. The need for energy produced most of these strange bedfellows.

Things started to change after the fracking and shale gas revolution. The United States suddenly realized that it could not only became absolutely self-sufficient in oil and gas, but it also emerged as one of the most important exporters to the rest of the world. That automatically signalled two things:

a. The USA no longer needed to be a silent ally to those regimes in the Arab world that did not fully comply with American principles and ideas.

b. It was not imperative for the USA to worry so much about the supply of energy to its allies, either due to their excessive dependence on Moscow (i.e., Europe) or because they might block the USA from its own supply networks (in Angola and Latin America).

America could now establish, perhaps with Canadian help, its own supply routes and offer solutions that provided alternatives to either Russia or to some ‘difficult’, friendly countries in the Middle East. In the years of the Obama presidency this became very obvious, as the US turned its back on events in the Arab World and opened up corridors of communication with Iran. Under President Trump these priorities have not really changed, but the American administration has adopted a more business-oriented approach. That is, contacts have focused more on eventual ‘deals’ than on issues of ideology or democratic principles.

Relations are judged now more on the eventual results than on declarations of higher values and the pursuit of pure ideals. Thus, the USA cut deals with the Saudis while maintaining warm relations with Qatar, a regime detested by the Saudis. The private meeting with President Putin in Helsinki, which enraged State Department officials, may have largely focused on energy, the Arab world, and Islam.

America is also important for China’s energy needs. It can prohibit access, through the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia/Indonesia, to millions of tons of oil destined daily for Chinese ports. It can also create havoc at the ports of Myanmar for supplies moving by land to southeastern China. By causing problems in the East China Sea, the US could isolate Chinese navigation and disrupt energy imports to that country.

China has now been incorporated into the global commercial system. They produce cheaply, so that the rest of the world buys freely. If the West stops buying, mainly due to higher costs (and energy is crucial among them), they stop producing. But this leads to significant unemployment. This may have devastating effects for the China’s colossal urban network, which might not hold up under the strain …

In short the USA will play a pivotal role in energy matters in the near future, as a producer/supplier of energy, a military superpower keeping a close watch over global networks of supply, and as a world power extending its diplomatic reach to encompass issues of energy security and transport.

Energy Geopolitics

International politics today, as shown above, revolves around issues of energy. Countries enter into alliances and break off partnerships because of the energy deals they have entered into or broken away from. Countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan pivot the focus of their attentions on the global scene because of their position, either prominent or less so, within the energy matrix. Global powers, like the USA, China, and Russia, either utilize their energy deposits or are driven by their needs to embark upon foreign-policy initiatives influenced by issues relating to energy.

Energy has transformed geopolitics so that it plays out as geoeconomics, since financial gains or losses are directly related to a country’s position within the hierarchy of political influence. Today, power emanates not from the territory one can occupy, but from the spread of markets one can control or influence. To a very large extent this is due to energy. What deposits a country commands, what transportation networks it controls, and how many lesser powers or state entities depend on its abilities and resources define its role in the international community and in the overall power architecture.

The role played by energy will not diminish in the future. Under the various transformations that will emerge, resources will always be important for the lives of nations and their peoples. War and peace will continue to be decided by those sitting at the tables where energy deals are negotiated. It will be very difficult to think of geopolitics apart from energy.

CAMPAIGN TO LIBERATE IDLIB HAS STARTED; SYRIA’S FIRST LADY TREATED FOR EARLY-STAGE CANCER; ISIS ON ROAD TO ANNIHILATION IN SUWAYDAA – By ZIAD FADEL

IDLIB: 

The Russian government has confirmed that almost all drones attacking the airbase at Humaymeem in Latakia are being flown out of Idlib Province.  What this means is that the terrorists on Turkish soil, in the Turk-occupied Hatay Province, are not being given freedom of action by the regime in Ankara.  This is, of course, a good sign of improving relations between Turkey and Russia.  But, Russian experts are sending confusing signals about the nature of the threat.  For example, one source claimed that the drones were “crude”, while saying, in the same breath, that the drones exhibited signs of “sophistication”.  Whatever the case, it appears the Russians are alert and vigilant.

Sarja and Umm Rujaym:  The towns on Sarja and Um Rujaym have been liberated after forces belonging to Jaysh Al-‘Izza and Al-Hizb Al-Turkistaani were routed on August 16, 2018.  Among the many dead from heavy Syrian Army artillery salvos was Abu-‘Ubaada whose real name is Khaalid Al-Wazeer.  He was blown to bits while crouching with his male catamite – his buttocks pointed at the heavens.

Abu Zhuhoor Crossing:  This is the same area where you find the Abu Zhuhoor Airbase.  Well, hundreds of Syrian hostages of Jabhat Al-Nusra poured over the crossing today, August 21, 2018, under the protection of the largely Russian military who made the area secure for the civilians.  It was supposed to open last Thursday, but, due to a security glitch, the matter was postponed until today.  It appears that Syrian MI unearthed a plot by ISIS and Nusra to send in suicide drivers to disrupt the jubilant queue of citizens relieved to be free of the stench of Wahhabism.

There can be no question that the campaign to retake Idlib has begun in earnest.  Reports to SyrPer indicate a massive redeployment of Syrian Army regulars to the northern front with huge columns of armor moving in the same direction, many having already reached the administrative borders of Hama and Idlib.  It appears that Russia is planning to give the SAA its all to make this, indeed the last front.  President Putin will not leave Syria until the job is done.  With the army concentrating on the border, the din of despair on the side of the cannibals is most audible.  In Saraaqib, there is fighting over territory and stolen appliances.  Russian intelligence is picking up conversations proving the desperation to get out of Idlib even though the Turks have locked their entry routes.  Soon the terrorists will be making their way to Europe as Dr. Assad’s pay-back begins to take effect.  Go terrorists!

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DAMASCUS:

الرئيس الأسد والسيدة أسماء يزوران أحد أنفاق جوبر الذي حوله فنانون سوريون الى مكان للفن والإبداع

In this photo, you can see Dr. Assad and the First Lady touring a tunnel in Douma where the terrorists of Jaysh Al-Islam ran amok terrorizing civilians. The First Lady has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer that is being treated in Syria at the military hospital outside Damascus.  She is expected to make a rapid and complete recovery.

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NEWS AND COMMENT:

Want to know how the West smuggles weapons to terrorists?  Well, John Esq., sent me this article which answers that question:

https://trud.bg/350-diplomatic-flights-carry-weapons-for-terrorists/

Agent Orange, White Phosphorus… Roundup: Monsanto’s Killer History in Full – By SPUTNIK

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A Californian court has found chemical giant Monsanto’s weedkiller caused a 46-year-old man’s terminal cancer and ordered the company to pay almost US$290 million in compensation, in a landmark ruling which could open the door to thousands of similar cases being brought the world over. For the company’s critics, the news is a long-time coming.

The jury found the firm failed to warn clients about cancer risks associated with the product’s main ingredient, glyphosate, and Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos ruled the company “acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished”.

The 46-year-old plaintiff, DeWayne Johnson, came in contact with the substance for years as a school groundkeeper, using up hundreds of gallons at a time. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, a cancer affecting white blood cells, a year prior to World Health Organization concluding glyphosate was probably carcinogenic. At least 220 other actions are currently ongoing against the company in San Francisco alone, brought by similarly affected individuals.

Influencing Policy

The hazardous potential of glyphosate was well known to Monsanto, but the company went to significant efforts to suppress and/or distort its lethal potential. In 2017, it was revealed the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) finding two years earlier that Roundup, glyphosate’s trade name, was safe to use was based on scientific papers heavily influenced by the company. In one instance, a paper was even written by company staff outright, and published under academics’ names.

Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop at Bonneuil-Sur-Marne near Paris, France, June 16, 2015.

The revelation emerged from hundreds of internal Monsanto emails released by a US court. In a February 2015 missive, then-Head of Product Safety at the firm William Heydens proposed in-house scientists write a study, and independent academics “edit and sign their names” to the document without disclosing Monsanto’s involvement, an approach he dubbed “ghostwriting”. Subsequent communications indicate it was not the first time the firm had employed the tactic, saying it was “how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro“. Claiming authorship for work done by others is a serious ethical breach in the academic community, as is not disclosing conflicts of interest.

In another, Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer says “you cannot say Roundup does not cause cancer” — and a separate glyphosate study was also “redesigned” with the help of company scientists, in order to create a more favorable outcome.

Both studies were used in 2015 by EFSA when it evaluated the safety of glyphosate as part of the chemical’s licence renewal process — the body concluded there was insufficient evidence glyphosate caused cancer in humans, and the chemical lacked the mechanism capable of damaging DNA in living cells and subsequent cancer in humans.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict in his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. A San Francisco jury on Friday ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto to pay $289 million to the former school groundskeeper dying of cancer, saying the company's popular Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease
Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict in his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. A San Francisco jury on Friday ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto to pay $289 million to the former school groundskeeper dying of cancer, saying the company’s popular Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease

The email trove indicates the studies influenced by Monsanto deliberately ignored and downplayed glyphosate’s deleterious health implications — even staff were compelled to concede the papers “stretched the limits of credibility”. Despite this, the company paid independent toxicology consultant Dr. David Kirkland to attach his name to one of the papers to boost its legitimacy.As a result of the disclosure, Monsanto lobbyists were banned from entering European parliament, with company officials precluded from meeting MEPs, attending committee meetings or using digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg.

Controversial History

In a sense, it’s perhaps unsurprising Monsanto products have such a devastating impact on human health. The company was a leading provider of ‘Agent Orange’ to the US government, a ‘defoliant’ widely used by US forces during the Vietnam war as a highly destructive chemical weapon.

While its primary purpose was theoretically strategic deforestation, the destruction of jungle cover and food resources necessary for the  sustainability of North Vietnamese forces’ guerilla campaigns, Agent Orange’s hazardous implications for human health were well known.

A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near U.S. troops on patrol in South Vietnam, 1966 during the Vietnam War
A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near U.S. troops on patrol in South Vietnam, 1966 during the Vietnam War

Subsequent scientific research has made clear the agent’s carcinogenic nature, with even passive contact with the chemical producing devastating repercussions not merely for the individual in question, but those they come into subsequent contact with, and their offspring. A 2002 study of dioxin levels in the city of Bien Hoa, a city in southern Vietnam located near an air base used for spray missions, indicated noticeably elevated blood dioxin levels three-decades after hostilities ceased, with Agent Orange specifically found in blood samples — even those sourced from post-war emigrants to the city.Moreover, Agent Orange is intimately connected to birth defects, with several meta-analyses of contemporary studies concluding there is a statistically significant correlation between an individual being exposed to Agent Orange at any point in their life, and their likelihood of either possessing or acting as a genetic carrier of birth defects.

This is a June 8, 1972 file photo of South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places
This is a June 8, 1972 file photo of South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places

Monsanto’s prevalence in chemical warfare persists to this day, with the company providing the US — and thus Israel — with white phosphorous. The chemical weapon is extremely lethal, igniting upon contact with skin and burning until it runs out of fuel, or is cut off from oxygen. If inhaled or swallowed it can cause severe damage to mucous membranes with which it comes into contact.Moreover, absorption through skin means even a 10 percent burn can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys. Even after healing from an initial exposure, victims suffer from long-lasting health problems, such as birth defects and neurological damage.

US forces used white phosphorous during the Iraq war, most notoriously during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. Israel also used white phosphorous in Lebanon in 2006.

While the use of white phosphorus is not a war crime in itself, and is justified by the US and Israel on the basis it can obscure troop movements or illuminate areas, its use in civilian areas however, even if not directed at the civilian population, is banned under the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

A Palestinian man is treated for burns in Jan. 2009. Human Rights Watch reported in March 2009 that Israel had used white phosphorous in the densely populated Gaza strip, in violation of international law.
A Palestinian man is treated for burns in Jan. 2009. Human Rights Watch reported in March 2009 that Israel had used white phosphorous in the densely populated Gaza strip, in violation of international law.

Speculators will make hay from great Australian economic crash while workers pay the price – By Steve KEEN- By RT


Steve Keen
Steve Keen is an Australian economist and author. He’s professor and Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University in London. You can support his attempts to build a new economics https://www.patreon.com/ProfSteveKeen.
Speculators will make hay from great Australian economic crash while workers pay the price
For years, Australia has been seen as the goose which laid the golden egg for workers, migrants and investors. Ironically, as America’s casino closes, it will eventually end up as a speculator’s paradise.

The performance of the Australian stock market relative to its American equivalent since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) shows the difference between a country where Quantitative Easing (QE) – the buying of bonds by the central bank to drive bond prices up and interest rates down, and thus encourage firms to invest and financial institutions to buy shares – was practiced and one where it was not. It’s both a warning about what could happen when the Fed starts to unwind QE, and a perverse opportunity to profit when Australia’s central bank, the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) inevitably starts its own QE program.

Since Australia avoided the GFC, and its rate of economic growth has been twice as fast as America’s post-crisis (an average 2.7 percent per year, versus 1.3 percent for the US), you might expect Australia’s stock market to have done better than America’s. In fact, it’s performed much worse: the main Australian index, the ASX, still hasn’t returned to its mid-2000s peak, while the US S&P500 has more than doubled its pre-crash level, and it’s almost four times as high as it was in the deepest depths of 2009.

The timing of the US stock market recovery is instructive: it began in February 2009, just three months after the Federal Reserve began “QE1” (the first of three episodes of Quantitative Easing), when it promised to net buy bonds from the financial sector to the tune of $1 trillion per year ($80 billion per month).

Trouble ahead

With the Fed buying a trillion bucks worth of bonds every year, thus giving the financial sector one trillion in cash per year in place of its interest-earning bonds, the only place the financial sector could stash that dough in search of a return was the stock market. This was the intention of the policy of course: to drive share prices higher in order to stimulate the economy. Aside from the fact it’s made the wealthier even wealthier as a direct effect of government policy, and cost far more than a direct boost to the poor would have done, it’s worked a treat: according to Robert Shiller’s “Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings Ratio,” it’s driven America’s stock market to its second-highest peak in history, higher than the 1929 bubble, second only to the DotCom maximum in 2000, and more than twice its long-term average.

Now the Fed is planning to both unwind QE – to sell bonds back to the financial sector in return for cash – and to push interest rates up as the economy booms, and the inflation rate finally kicks higher after a decade of low interest rates and QE.

That means that the Fed will be on the sell side for bonds, putting the finance sector on the buy side. To pay for those purchases, the finance sector will have to sell shares. Interest rates will also rise doubly, firstly from the Fed pushing its policy rate higher, secondly from the unwinding of QE driving down bond prices and therefore driving up interest rates. Anyone’s who’s in the US stock market and not worried about what that triple whammy could do to share prices is delusional.

So what’s a share market speculator to do? Well, when one casino turns bad, why not look for another one? The odds are that the next stock market casino in which the tables will be tilted by the house in favor of the gambler will be Australia’s.

Short-sighted sheep

Australia’s RBA didn’t have to rescue its economy from the crash, because prompt fiscal action by the Australian government (and re-starting the housing bubble via a bribe to entice first-home buyers into the market) stopped the private sector deleveraging that caused the crisis everywhere else. So Australia’s long boom since its last recession in 1990 was prolonged by continuing its private-debt bubble.

However, this isn’t how the RBA interpreted Australia’s success. Because its chieftains are as blissfully unaware of the importance of private debt to macroeconomics, as was Ben Bernanke (and I know this from personal interactions with them at up to the deputy governor level). Instead, Australia’s apparent success led its political and economic pundits to believe that the GFC was not in fact a global phenomenon, but a “North Atlantic Financial Crisis” due to how poorly financial systems were managed in the US and UK, versus their excellent management in Australia.

Ha! The real reason that Australia (and Canada) avoided the worst of the GFC is that they kept on drinking the Kool-Aid that caused it: private debt, and especially household mortgage debt. Whereas the other Anglo-sphere countries which had serious crises in 2007-08 (the US, UK and Ireland) have reduced their household debt levels since then, Canada and Australia have continued to lever up – Australia to the spectacular level of over 120 percent of GDP.

This additional leverage is what has kept the housing bubbles alive in both these countries well after they burst in the rest of the English-speaking world. But it’s starting to turn in both states now, especially in Australia where growth in household credit has turned negative, and house prices have already fallen more than 5 percent from their peak. When that deleveraging gathers momentum, a recession will strike and Australia’s RBA will do just what the Fed did: start QE to try to prop up the share market.

So ironically, Australian shares will likely start to do well, just as the national economy begins to tank. Such is the nature of stock markets when central banks believe keeping stock prices high is more important than keeping unemployment low, never mind wage growth.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Vanessa Beeley: Now that focus is on Idlib, Syrian children are being robbed of their innocence to act as mouthpieces for US coalition – proxies – By Vanessa Beeley – SOTT

propaganda children

© Umit Bektas / Reuters

Syrian children are being callously exploited by the regime change war promoters and marketing agencies to sell a conflict that will inevitably lead to the deaths of more children.

First there was Bana al-Abed, who, at only six-years-old, shot to fame depicting life under “Syrian and Russian bombs” in East Aleppo while ignoring the ravages of this enclave by the numerous US coalition-sponsored terrorist and extremist factions that included Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) and an assortment of client sectarian militants who collectively punished Syrian civilians in both East and West Aleppo for almost five years.

Bana rose to prominence in the final months of the Syrian Arab Army campaign to finally liberate the Aleppo’s eastern suburbs from extremist mafia gangs and criminal parasites armed by NATO member states and Gulf States and promoted by the Western media as “moderate rebels” while they crucified, executed, tortured, raped and generally abused the Syrian civilians who did not submit to their version of “democracy and freedom“.

The exploitation of Bana by her own parents has been extensively documented and her father’s ties to Nusra Front and even ISIS have been explored. Bana herself has been instrumentalized and converted into a tool for Western military adventurism in Syria. She has been firmly placed on the treadmill of useful “victim” stardom where she will continue to provide the propaganda gymnastics required of her by her controllers and handlers working within the Western soft power complex. These modern-day child-catchers and Svengalis will ensure Bana a future of book tours and UN appearances to maintain the theatre designed to facilitate “humanitarian” intervention under a “Responsibility to Protect” pretext, which translates into a “licence to kill,” according to former UK Ambassador to Syria,Peter Ford.

Previously we had Omran Daqneesh, the “face of the suffering of Aleppo”. Unfortunately for the pro-regime-change cartel, Omran’s fame was short-lived when his father was interviewed in 2017, expressing his steadfast support for the Syrian government and his horror that his son had been so universally exploited. Those interviews exposed the story as fake on a number of levels and the media promulgators of the story as shallow, hypocritical narrative builders for empire.

In Eastern Ghouta, at the apex of the battles for its liberation, we had Noor and Alaa, who sprang up in a similar fashion to Bana, to produce videos pleading for peace which could only be achieved by international intervention. “We ask the international community to put pressure to stop bombing civilians and provide immediate humanitarian assistance.”

Children under the age of ten arguing in perfect English for what would effectively be the escalation of the externally stoked conflict that has raged for seven years in Syria. Unlike Bana, Noor and Alaa were diverse in their messages, targeting Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Idlib, Daraa, producing detailed and eerily professional video shorts presenting the case for defending the “moderates” and bringing in reinforcements to turn the tide of the SAA liberation campaigns.

When Noor and Alaa were eventually evacuated to Idlib with their family they issued a video supporting the Western clamour that the Syrian government was forcefully displacing civilians from Eastern Ghouta. However, my time in Eastern Ghouta during those evacuations demonstrated that only the hardcore extremist factions left on the green buses to Idlib. The majority of civilians, even those who had taken up arms at some point in the conflict, chose to accept amnesty and to remain in Eastern Ghouta to rebuild and to restore their lives back to the peace and stability they had known before 2011.

The exit package for Noor and Alaa was similar to Bana’s – from Idlib they headed to Turkey, the country that was most active in nurturing and incubating the extremist entities that have infested Syria with their ideological hatred and racism.

Perhaps, more notably, Noor and Alaa met with Raed Saleh, leader of the NATO-member-state-created and multi-million-dollar-financed “propaganda construct“, the White Helmets. The PR machine that operates behind the scenes of this faux “humanitarian” group of alleged Syrians from all walks of life is vast, it is powerful, and it is capable of producing all manner of spin offs from their central hub of propaganda production.

Why do all these child prodigy Twitter accounts speak perfect English? Why does their language mirror that of the NATO-aligned media, think tanks and pseudo NGOs? How are they able to produce, almost daily, high-quality videos in areas that are largely deprived of electricity and internet coverage? A scroll through Noor and Alaa’s Twitter page is a trip down the memory lane of regime change themes and slogans – beautifully packaged into Shirley Temple personas who deliver the message with polished appeal.

The flurry of activity and production of accounts of six-year old girls all promoting the “moderates” in Idlib reached a crescendo when Lana closed her account and morphed into Yara whose Tweets are “protected” but who displays the same photograph as Hala. Confused? You will be.

If we focus on the Hala account, this was used to launch the #EyesOnIdlib campaign which will replace the #AleppoIsBurning and #Pray4Ghouta hashtags as the SAA turn their attention to Idlib and its infestation of extremist groups, many of which have been evacuated there from previously liberated areas.

Of course, none of these children pray for or mention the civilians being maimed and mutilated on a daily basis, under fire from the armed factions that have been camped in the outskirts of towns, cities and villages and raining down mortars, missiles, rockets and explosive bullets upon innocent civilians who are living in areas under Syrian government protection.

The terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta fired 14,800 missiles into residential areas of Damascus city, over the six-year period of their occupation. Thousands of civilians were killed by these attacks including children just like Noor, Alaa, Bana, Hala, Yara, Marwa and Lana. Those children had been too busy just trying to survive to produce videos begging people in the West to end their governments’ financing of terrorism in a failed regime change operation in Syria.

Of the Idlib child pool, Marwa is the most eloquent and is once again promoting the White Helmets, another common thread that runs through the child chatter from inside areas that are “serviced” by this dubious search and rescue team that has been roundly discredited by Scott Ritter – a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.

“First and foremost, as a “light” USAR team, the White Helmets are not trained or equipped to conduct rescues of entrapped victims. […] The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped. […] In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims.” Ritter said in an op-ed piece titled ‘Trump’s Sarin Claims Based on a Lie‘.

Marwa would like Turkey to save Idlib according to her Tweets. “Children in Syria want freedom The world is watching how Assad and Putin are committing crimes against children, women and civilians in Syria.” This very un-childlike rhetoric is reminiscent of the Bana deleted tweets in which she invented the #HolocaustAleppo hashtag and suggested that ‘Dear World’ should start WWIII to counter the Syrian & Russian advances towards Aleppo’s liberation.

Whoever is harnessing these children into the humanitarian war complex is cynically relying upon their appeal to promote causes that serve the US-led coalition agenda in Syria and the region. Children should not be exposed to war but even more importantly they should not be exposed to a sinister behavioural change apparatus that will rob them of their innocence and their childhood while converting them into mouthpieces for the military industrial complex and cover for Western governments’ crimes under international law. These children are unwitting pawns in a game being played by global powers where their parents have chosen the side of the mercenaries and extremists and have sacrificed their children to a lost cause. The children are not to blame but one wonders what they will become.

Where are the Yaras and Halas in Yemen? Where are the perfect-English tweets describing the horror of a school bus full of children being targeted by the Saudi coalition with US and UK-manufactured bombs? Yemen has no slick PR companies defending its “human rights”, there are no White Helmets in Yemen. Syria is the cradle of propaganda for the West and its allies in the Gulf States, Turkey and Israel. When we witness what can only be described as the abuse of children on such a horrifying scale, we know those PR agencies have reached the depths of moral bankruptcy which is only a reflection of the ruling elite who control the entire information battlefield and who have strewn it with the decaying remnants of failed propaganda stunts in their race towards failure in Syria. Idlib will be liberated and no amount of Halas, Marwas or Lanas will alter the course of history and victory for Syria and her steadfast allies.

Then and only then will Syrian children, who are not given voices in the West, be truly free and the role of the Bana imitators will come to an end.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent investigative journalist and photographer. She is associate editor at 21st Century Wire.

Comment: The battle for Idlib is heating up, hence the need for propaganda. Watch the following from Southfront, Militant Propaganda Goes Wild Ahead Of Battle For Idlib that further explains the desperate attempts on the part of the head-choppers to maintain a little control:

The Mind of The Mass Media: Email Exchange With a leading Washington Post Foreign Policy Reporter – William Blum (The Anti-Empire Report) (SOTT)

mainstream media lies

July 18, 2018

Dear Mr. Birnbaum,

You write Trump “made no mention of Russia’s adventures in Ukraine”. Well, neither he nor Putin nor you made any mention of America’s adventures in the Ukraine, which resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, which led to the justified Russian adventure. Therefore …?

If Russia overthrew the Mexican government would you blame the US for taking some action in Mexico?

William Blum

Dear Mr. Blum,

Thanks for your note. “America’s adventures in the Ukraine”: what are you talking about? Last time I checked, it was Ukrainians in the streets of Kiev who caused Yanukovych to turn tail and run. Whether or not that was a good thing, we can leave aside, but it wasn’t the Americans who did it.

It is, however, Russian special forces who fanned out across Crimea in February and March 2014, according to Putin, and Russians who came down from Moscow who stoked conflict in eastern Ukraine in the months after, according to their own accounts.

Best, Michael Birnbaum

To MB,

I can scarcely believe your reply. Do you read nothing but the Post? Do you not know of high State Dept official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine in Maidan Square to encourage the protesters? She spoke of 5 billion (sic) dollars given to aid the protesters who were soon to overthrow the govt. She and the US Amb. spoke openly of who to choose as the next president. And he’s the one who became president. This is all on tape. I guess you never watch Russia Today (RT). God forbid! I read the Post every day. You should watch RT once in a while.

William Blum

To WB,

I was the Moscow bureau chief of the newspaper; I reported extensively in Ukraine in the months and years following the protests. My observations are not based on reading. RT is not a credible news outlet, but I certainly do read far beyond our own pages, and of course I talk to the actual actors on the ground myself – that’s my job.

And: yes, of course Nuland was in the Maidan – but encouraging the protests, as she clearly did, is not the same as sparking them or directing them, nor is playing favorites with potential successors, as she clearly did, the same as being directly responsible for overthrowing the government. I’m not saying the United States wasn’t involved in trying to shape events. So were Russia and the European Union. But Ukrainians were in the driver’s seat the whole way through. I know the guy who posted the first Facebook call to protest Yanukovych in November 2013; he’s not an American agent. RT, meanwhile, reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time. By all means consume a healthy and varied media diet – don’t stop at the US mainstream media. But ask yourself how often RT reports critically on the Russian government, and consider how that lacuna shapes the rest of their reporting. You will find plenty of reporting in the Washington Post that is critical of the US government and US foreign policy in general, and decisions in Ukraine and the Ukrainian government in specific. Our aim is to be fair, without picking sides.

Best, Michael Birnbaum

======================= end of exchange =======================

Right, the United States doesn’t play indispensable roles in changes of foreign governments; never has, never will; even when they offer billions of dollars; even when they pick the new president, which, apparently, is not the same as picking sides. It should be noticed that Mr Birnbaum offers not a single example to back up his extremist claim that RT “reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time.” “All the time”, no less! That should make it easy to give some examples.

For the record, I think RT is much less biased than the Post on international affairs. And, yes, it’s bias, not “fake news” that’s the main problem – Cold-War/anti-Communist/anti-Russian bias that Americans have been raised with for a full century. RT defends Russia against the countless mindless attacks from the West. Who else is there to do that? Should not the Western media be held accountable for what they broadcast? Americans are so unaccustomed to hearing the Russian side defended, or hearing it at all, that when they do it can seem rather weird.

To the casual observer, THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA indictments of July 14 of Russian intelligence agents (GRU) reinforced the argument that the Soviet government interfered in the US 2016 presidential election. Regard these indictments in proper perspective and we find that election interference is only listed as a supposed objective, with charges actually being for unlawful cyber operations, identity theft, and conspiracy to launder money by American individuals unconnected to the Russian government. So … we’re still waiting for some evidence of actual Russian interference in the election aimed at determining the winner.

The Russians did it (cont.)

Each day I spend about three hours reading the Washington Post. Amongst other things I’m looking for evidence – real, legal, courtroom-quality evidence, or at least something logical and rational – to pin down those awful Russkis for their many recent crimes, from influencing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election to use of a nerve agent in the UK. But I do not find such evidence.

Each day brings headlines like these:

“U.S. to add economic sanctions on Russia: Attack with nerve agent on former spy in England forces White House to act”

“Is Russia exploiting new Facebook goal?”

“Experts: Trump team lacks urgency on Russian threat”

These are all from the same day, August 9, which led me to thinking of doing this article, but similar stories can be found any day in the Post and in major newspapers anywhere in America. None of the articles begins to explain how Russia did these things, or even WHY. Motivation appears to have become a lost pursuit in the American mass media. The one thing sometimes mentioned, which I think may have some credibility, is Russia’s preference of Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But this doesn’t begin to explain how Russia could pull off any of the electoral magic it’s accused of, which would be feasible only if the United States were a backward, Third World, Banana Republic.

There’s the Facebook ads, as well as all the other ads … The people who are influenced by this story – have they read many of the actual ads? Many are pro-Clinton or anti-Trump; many are both; many are neither. It’s one big mess, the only rational explanation of this which I’ve read is that they come from money-making websites, “click-bait” sites as they’re known, which earn money simply by attracting visitors.

As to the nerve agents, it makes more sense if the UK or the CIA did it to make the Russians look bad, because the anti-Russian scandal which followed was totally predictable. Why would Russia choose the time of the World Cup in Moscow – of which all of Russia was immensely proud – to bring such notoriety down upon their head? But that would have been an ideal time for their enemies to want to embarrass them.

However, I have no doubt that the great majority of Americans who follow the news each day believe the official stories about the Russians. They’re particularly impressed with the fact that every US intelligence agency supports the official stories. They would not be impressed at all if told that a dozen Russian intelligence agencies all disputed the charges. Group-think is alive and well all over the world. As is Cold War II.

But we’re the Good Guys, ain’t we?

For a defender of US foreign policy there’s very little that causes extreme heartburn more than someone implying a “moral equivalence” between American behavior and that of Russia. That was the case during Cold War I and it’s the same now in Cold War II. It just drives them up the wall.

After the United States passed a law last year requiring TV station RT (Russia Today) to register as a “foreign agent”, the Russians passed their own law allowing authorities to require foreign media to register as a “foreign agent”. Senator John McCain denounced the new Russian law, saying there is “no equivalence” between RT and networks such as Voice of America, CNN and the BBC, whose journalists “seek the truth, debunk lies, and hold governments accountable.” By contrast, he said, “RT’s propagandists debunk the truth, spread lies, and seek to undermine democratic governments in order to further Vladimir Putin’s agenda.” Washington Post, November 16, 2017″>

And here is Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor (2014-2017) – last year he reported that Putin had “charged that the U.S. government had interfered ‘aggressively’ in Russia’s 2012 presidential vote,” claiming that Washington had “gathered opposition forces and financed them.” Putin, wrote Malinowski, “apparently got President Trump to agree to a mutual commitment that neither country would interfere in the other’s elections.”

“Is this moral equivalence fair?” Malinowski asked and answered: “In short, no. Russia’s interference in the United States’ 2016 election could not have been more different from what the United States does to promote democracy in other countries.” Ibid., July 23, 2017″>

How do you satirize such officials and such high-school beliefs?

We also have the case of the US government agency, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has interfered in more elections than the CIA or God. Indeed, the man who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” Ibid., September 22, 1991″> On April 12, 2018 the presidents of two of NED’s wings wrote: “A specious narrative has come back into circulation: that Moscow’s campaign of political warfare is no different from U.S.-supported democracy assistance.”

“Democracy assistance”, you see, is what they call NED’s election-interferences and government-overthrows. William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 19 on NED”> The authors continue: “This narrative is churned out by propaganda outlets such as RT and Sputnik [radio station]. … it is deployed by isolationists who propound a U.S. retreat from global leadership.” Washington Post, April 2, 2018″>

“Isolationists” is what conservatives call critics of US foreign policy whose arguments they can’t easily dismiss, so they imply that such people just don’t want the US to be involved in anything abroad.

And “global leadership” is what they call being first in election-interferences and government-overthrows.

What God giveth, Trump taketh away?

The White House sends out a newsletter, “1600 daily”, each day to subscribers about what’s new in the marvelous world inhabited by Donald J. Trump. On July 25 it reported about the president’s talk before the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Missouri: “We don’t apologize for America anymore. We stand up for America. And we stand up for our National Anthem,” the President said to “a thundering ovation”.

At the same time, the newsletter informed us that the State Department is bringing together religious leaders and others for the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. “The goal is simple,” we are told, “to promote the God-given human right to believe what you choose.”

Aha! I see. But what about those who believe that standing for the National Anthem implies support for America’s racism or police brutality? Is it not a God-given human right to believe such a thing and “take a knee” in protest?

Or is it the devil that puts such evil ideas into our heads?

See Also:

Drowning among Israeli settlements, an ancient Christian village in Palestine struggles to survive Israel/Palestine – By Yumna Patel on August 17, 2018 – MONDOWEISS

Nestled in the hilltops of the central occupied West Bank, an ancient Palestinian Christian village is gearing up for a fight against the Israeli occupation that it has all too much experience with.

In late July, the village of Aboud, whose existence dates back two millennia, was handed an order by Israeli authorities confiscating some 324 dunums (80 acres) of land shared by Aboud and its neighboring village al-Lubban al-Gharbiya.

Israeli authorities confiscated the land under the pretext that it would be used to build an Israeli-only road between the two illegal settlements of Beit Arye and Ofarim — both of which are built on the lands of Aboud.

The villagers however, insist that this time, it is not an ordinary tale of land confiscation — something they have been subject to for decades.

“There is already a road that exists between the settlements, so they are lying to us when they say they are taking the land for this purpose,” 70-year-old Abdullah Sharqawi, a resident of Aboud, told Mondoweiss.

“It is clear what they are trying to do,” he said. “They want to use the land to build new houses and create a settlement bloc in the area.”

Sharqawi’s predictions were more than just a speculation held by one elderly man.

His fears were echoed by other villagers and local officials who spoke to Mondoweiss, each of whom recounted stories of decades of land confiscation and settlement expansion that has led the village to its current state: a dwindling piece of history fighting to stay on the map.

‘As long as the settlers are happy’

Located just 10km east of the Green Line, the Tel Aviv skyline visible through the mountains even on a hazy day, Aboud is a quiet village filled with Muslims and Christians, whose families have lived on the land for centuries.

Thousands of dunams of land have been confiscated by Israel from the village over the years for different purposes, including the building of illegal settlements and outposts on Aboud’s lands, the construction of Israeli bypass roads in order to connect neighboring settlements, and the Israeli separation wall.

Over 760 dunams of village land, around 5.2% of the total village area, has been used for the
construction of Beit Aryeh to the north and Ofarim to the southwest, which are home to more than 4,000 settlers.

According to the Applied Research Institute — Jerusalem (ARIJ), Aboud was divided between Area B (16.8% of total area) and Area C (83.2% of total area), the latter of which falls under complete Israeli civilian and security control, making it “illegal” for Palestinians to build on the land.

“All of the village residents live in the borders of Area B,” Yousif Mas’ad, the former Mayor of Aboud, told Mondoweiss. “The rest of the land, that is Area C, is agricultural and used by farmers in Aboud.”

Mas’ad told Mondoweiss that Israeli forces began working on the land that was confiscated almost immediately after the village was given the notice last month.

“They have been working on this road everyday, non stop, except on Saturdays,” he said.

“But it is hard to believe that they want to use this for yet another road,” he said, highlighting the fact that the Israeli government has already confiscated dozens of acres of the village’s land for existing bypass roads, which according to ARIJ, number to three roads.

“The settlements of Beit Arye and Ofarim are only two kilometers away from each other, and there is already a road that exists between them. Why do they need another one?” Mas’ad asked earnestly.

Mas’ad pointed out that while the settlers have several roads to choose from, the road connecting Aboud with its neighboring village al-Lubban al-Gharbiya has been permanently closed off since the Second Intifada.

“What should be a less than five minute journey for us, actually takes 30 minutes,” he said. Laughing, Mas’ad remarked “but as long as the settlers are happy and comfortable, right?”

“Our fears that they will use the land to create a large settlement bloc on this land, much of which is privately owned, doesn’t come from nothing,” Mas’ad said, as he pointed to existing massive settler conglomerates in the West Bank like the Gush Etzion bloc in the Hebron district, and the Ariel bloc in Salfit. “This has been done before.”

As he sat among some of his former colleagues in the village’s municipality office, Mas’ad began to list all the farmers and their families who would be affected by the land grab.

“More than 45% of the villagers work in the agricultural sector,” Mas’ad said. “If they lose this land, it will not only affect their personal livelihoods and that of their families, but also the entire economy of the village.”

A bleak future for farmers

Seventy-year-old Abdullah Sharqawi, the patriarch of one of Aboud’s Christian families, is one of the local farmers who potentially stands to lose the most as a result of the land confiscation.

Sitting in his Ottoman-era stone home, where pictures of his children on their wedding days hang on the paint-chipped walls, Sharqawi wipes his brow as his wife prepares fresh lemonade, picked from their garden.

“My family has owned hundreds of dunums of land in Aboud for centuries. Our roots date so far back, I cannot even count,” he told Mondoweiss.

“In 1948, when we saw how much land was being taken and how much was being destroyed by Israel, my grandfather and father decided that we should plant our land, because surely, we thought, they cannot destroy land that is planted and grows fruits of the earth,” Sharqawi said.

The hopes of preventing the theft of their land began to fade away with the construction of Beit Arye and Ofarim in the 1980’s.

“First they would take the land, and say ‘oh you can still come to farm it’, but slowly, as time went on, they began to push us out completely until we were not able to reach some parts of land at all,” he said.

“At one point, about 10 years ago, they uprooted 26 olive trees to make way for a settler road,” Sharqawi told Mondoweiss, as he expressed fears that the land he currently has access to, which falls under the confiscated area, will suffer a similar fate.

“On that land, which they said they are using to build the road, we have 400 olive trees, 200 almond trees, grape vines, fig trees, everything,” Sharqawi said. “These trees support the livelihood of 15 people in our family, and provide food to the people of the village and people all over Palestine.”

For Sharqawi, even if the land is used to build another road, it is only a matter of time before new settlement houses start popping up alongside it.

“For now maybe they will let me access the land. But inevitably, with time, they will tell me no, it is not allowed,” he said.

Faint hope of justice

According to Mas’ad and other officials in the Aboud municipality, the village has collected all the necessary paperwork and has hire a lawyer to being proceedings to fight the confiscation.

“We cannot stand to lose more and more land like this,” remarked one municipality employee, who asked to remain unidentified.

“The least we can do is try to fight it, even if we know deep down, the possibility to win is very low.”

Mas’ad and the others in the office nodded in agreement. “But, at the end of the day, this is a huge injustice,” Mas’ad said.

“We know it is a difficult case to win, but maybe we have a chance because we have the documents proving that the land is privately-owned, meaning that settlement construction on it is even illegal under Israeli law.”

As the municipality workers went back and forth, exchanging theories and weighing possibilities, Sharqawi brushed off the plan to file a case in Israeli court against the settlers.

“If the Israelis are the ones who are taking away the land, how can we possibly trust that they could deliver us justice?”

About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia freelance journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on twitter @yumna_patel.

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Review: “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism” by Andre Vltchek -The UNZ report

Review: “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism” by Andre Vltchek

shutterstock_327841346

How can I write a review of Andre Vltchek’s new book Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism? I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. Andre himself says that:

“There is nothing to add to the writing of maverick revolutionary philosophers. Hands off their work! Let them speak! Editions without prefaces and introductions, please; no footnotes! The greatest works of philosophy were written with heart, blood and passion! No interpretation is needed. If allowed to read them, even a child can understand.”.

He is speaking about the works of other great revolutionary writers, not himself. I think Andre is a great revolutionary writer, too. But, who am I to speak for Andre? Read his great works for yourself, and you will understand them without my introduction. You will find that Andre has the guts to put himself out there, let it all hang out, and expose his vulnerabilities as well as his wisdom…

But I am damned if I don’t write a book review for Andre’s book, because I told him I would give it a try. I don’t want to let him down. This is the best I can do. So, you can stop reading right here if you wish, and just buy Andre’s book and let him speak to you for himself.

Our struggling revolutionary artists whom still speak and write the truth need all the support we can give them. That goes for the alternative media site you are reading this on. We are in a war, an information and propaganda war. Truth tellers are an endangered species. The Empire is trying to shut them up and shut them down.

 

Now if you are still with me, I do have a few words to say. Take what I say that you like and leave the rest.

A lot of people are not going to like Andre’s book “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”, I can tell you that right now. The first to hate it will be the Empire, because they fear truth-tellers more than bomb-throwers. The next who will not like Andre’s book will be the smug critics who want to nitpick his every word. I am not talking about the Deep State and its Mockingbirds. I am talking about the so-called liberal/progressives; especially the ones that never get off of the “proverbial couches of spinelessness”, which Andre speaks of. You have to be brave to put up with their shit. This is the time when we should be organizing and supporting each other, instead of criticizing, and letting the Empire divide us. Andre is a revolutionary writer and doer that is on a mission that is bigger than himself. It is called “life”. Look at his website “Vltchek’s World in Words and Images” to see what he has been doing with his life.

As Andre says: “Obedient and cowardly masses hate those who are different”. Different is an understatement to describe Andre Vitchek. You’ll not find many like him in Europe or North America. You may have to go to South America, Africa, Asia, or Russia to find such uniquely honest voices.

Russia is the perfect metaphor for Andre: Russia is neither Europe nor Asia; it is both and neither. Like Russia, Andre is unique. He is neither this nor that. He is a writer, philosopher, photo journalist, pamphleteer, activist, witness and doer. He is all of those things, but above all he is a humanist and an artist. He is an optimistic pessimist. Only a hopeless optimist would say:

“One day, hopefully soon, humanism will win over dark nihilism; people will live for other people and not for some cold profits, religious dogmas and “Western values”.

Western values, now that is an oxymoron if there ever was one. Andre is a pessimist that sees and writes about the anti-humanism and the soullessness of so-called Western values. He exposes it for what it is: gray, cold and without spirit.

Andre says he is a Communist in an era when being a communist is not fashionable. Most liberal/progressives are afraid to mention John Maynard Keynes, let alone Marx, Lenin and Mao.

For a while in 2016 pseudo-socialism was popular among supporters of Bernie Sanders, whom claimed to be a socialist. He promised his followers what every poll shows that most Americans want: universal healthcare, low cost higher education, better infrastructure, strong economic safety nets, and $15 dollars an hour minimum wage. Where have all these so-called socialists gone now that Bernie disillusioned them? Chasing illusionary Russian spies, it seems.

Sanders and his “Sandernistas” rarely talked about ending US illegal wars of aggression in 2016. If liberal/progressives had insisted that Bernie take an anti-war platform and a reduction of the Empire’s military-industrial-complex, then Bernie might well be in the White House now, instead of Trump. Instead most of the Sandernistas told liberal/progressives to shut up about the wars. They said it would be political suicide for Bernie to bring up war during a presidential campaign. Sandernistas said not to worry, because Bernie was secretly antiwar. We fell for that one with Obama, who committed more war crimes than George W. Bush.

Andre has the guts to say that liberal/progressives do not deserve free college, universal healthcare and all the goodies that Bernie was selling us, while also peddling the trillion dollar F-35 boondoggle. I agree with Andre, especially since Bernie sold out his loyal followers, and sheep dogged for warmongering Hillary. We do not deserve social programs at home, while the Empire is killing millions of people with all the US illegal wars of aggression. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“A time comes when silence is betrayal— I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”

The Empire’s “destructive suction tube” is waging all sorts of wars: military, economic and propaganda. It is waging economic terrorism against the Global South. The Empire-backed World Bank, IMF and gangster banking monopolies force austerity on the poor of the world. Those poor countries in the Global South that are under attack by the Empire’s economic terrorist organizations do not get to have Bernie’s socialism. Not only do I agree with Andre that we do not deserve Bernie’s social programs, nor do we have funds or the energies for them. Bernie and the Sandernistas rarely spoke about rehabilitation of America’s poor; it was all about the middle class. Silence is betrayal.

Whatever the Empire does in foreign lands, sooner or later the chickens come home to roost. The Empire keeps crushing countries of the Global South whose leaders want to use their country’s natural resources for their own people. Anti-colonial revolutionaries like Castro, Che and Ho were personally vilified for not embracing the Empire’s neocolonial model of capitalism. The Empire conspires to overthrow governments that nationalize their country’s natural resources, and have social programs for the people.

The Empire always wants enemies. The public never seems to question why the most powerful military the world has ever known, supposedly has so many poor weak enemies threatening it. It is all a pretext for the Empire to extract wealth from the Global South for the benefit of oligarchs.

The Empire never stops plotting to overthrow revolutionary leaders. Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Russia, Cuba and North Korea are under attack because they want to go their own way. There will be economic warfare, propaganda warfare, and political warfare, and when those don’t work to impose conformity and compliance; there is always the military option. For the Empire “all options are always on the table”, including the nuclear option. The Empire would rather see the destruction of the entire world, than to coexist with a threat to its hegemony.

 

Now the cry goes out that the Russians are coming! Those like myself that lived through the Cold War are seeing history repeated. The paranoia, propaganda, lies, repression, persecution and provocations are déjà vu. The US has encircled Russia with military bases, and plays war games on its border. We are told, and we are supposed to believe that Russia is the aggressor and an expansionist threat.

Georgia attacks South Ossetia, and we are told that Russia invaded Georgia. The US midwifes a coup against an elected government in Ukraine, but it is Russia that is blamed for destabilizing Ukraine. Crimea has a referendum to rejoin Russia, and we are told that the Russians used military force to annex Crimea. The US has criminally invaded Syria, but we are told that Russia invaded Syria, even though they are there legally.

We are supposed to be afraid that Putin will “destroy the West’s democracy” by sowing dissention, chaos and meddling in US elections. If anybody wants to destroy America’s democracy, then they are several decades too late. It has already been mostly destroyed. The Bill of Rights has been eviscerated, except for the 2nd Amendment, which is enabling the worst fascistic elements in the US to heavily arm themselves. The police are militarized. The US has secret police, secret courts, and secret prisons.

Nationalism that breeds repression at home and wars abroad is running amok. The people no longer have the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Protesters are restricted to so-called free-speech zones, and they are subject to indiscriminate mass arrest. The people are told to obey the government, but it is the government that is supposed to obey the people in a democracy. Those that don’t worship the flag, and praise militarism are accused of being unpatriotic.

Andre has much to say on all the above issues in his book “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”. The book is a collection of many of his great writing of the past few years. Shorter versions of his essays have been published in articles by non-Western media, such as the New Eastern Outlook (NEO) as well as Western alternative media such as The Greanville Post.

Andre writes about the Empire’s many crimes. Terrible crimes have been committed against millions of people who have done the West no harm, and were of no threat. The Empire and its vassal states punish people of the Global South for being born in countries with vast natural resources that the Empire covets. Andre gives these victims a voice and a human face.

Andre’s writings are not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. He will pound the truth into you on every page, and you may not be able to put his book down, as I could not. The reader realizes that Andre is on a mission. Part of that mission is to be the conscience of the world, and to make sure that the victimized are not forgotten and that they are not alone. Andre has a great capacity for empathy. His writing, videos and documentaries cry out for the world to have empathy too. The world is empathy deficient.

Even for those that already intellectually know the truths that Andre writes about, will have that truth pound into their hearts and souls. Unfortunately, the people that are ignorant of the truth are the most likely ones not to read Andre. We all know people like that. They are our brother-in-law, neighbors, and the students and professors in our institutions of so-called higher learning. Our schools do not teach the important truths and philosophies anymore. They have just become vocational schools turning out accountants, lawyers, propagandist, stockbrokers, and super sales people to keep churning money in the economy, so that it flows up the food chain.

In every direction one turns now they face a barrage of propaganda put out by the Empire. Most Americans are isolated and know very little about the rest of the world. For many people the mainstream media is their only source for information. What they get is a steady stream of propaganda that Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Russia are evil. They believe it, just like when I was a child, I believed the US propaganda during the Cold War. Russia was both feared and ridiculed when I was growing up. I was told that communism never works, and that Russia cannot even make toilets that flush. Imagine how surprised I was when I finally went to Russia and found out that their toilets work just fine.

When I mentioned the above story to someone who was regurgitating anti-Putin propaganda he asked me a rhetorical question:

“As for Russia, besides the toilets flushing, was there anything you wanted to buy there besides vodka and nesting dolls? Or do they have anything that you would wish that we imported (like Japanese cars or Chinese clothing or Swiss watches, etc.)?”

I know that Andre gets the stupidity of that question. In the Empire one is only valuable for what they have to sell. It is all about dollars and cents, and the logic of the market. The market determines the value of everything, including people. If it has a market price, then it has value. If not then it is worthless and of no value, according to the market.

Andre writes about things that are priceless and have great value. They are the things of life that make us human, instead of robots. There is no market for love and living a fulfilling life. It is free if one knows how to find it. Andre helps to show us the way.

Besides Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism Andre has written many other books, such as Exposing Lies of the Empire, a novel titled Aurora and many other books. Andre is a world class philosopher, novelist, filmmaker, investigative journalist, poet, playwright, and photographer. He is a true revolutionary. He is a human being. His website is http://andrevltchek.weebly.com/ .

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