Putin: Powerful people in US want to poison relationship with Russia against country’s interests – By RT

russia and us flags

© Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

There are powerful people in the US who steer the entire country on the path of confrontation with Russia, President Vladimir Putin warned, adding that the Kremlin must take this factor into account.

The warning came as Putin was addressing the senior members of the Russian diplomatic corps in Moscow. He spoke off the script to warn Russian ambassadors of the danger posed by Russia-haters in America.

“We can see forces in the United States, which would easily sacrifice Russian-American relationship for the sake of their ambitions in domestic political struggle in America. They would sacrifice the interests of the US business, which loses contracts and ties in Russia, US jobs, few as they may be, that rely on Russian-American cooperation,” Putin said.

These forces “would sacrifice the interests of their allies in Europe and in the Middle East, including the state of Israel… They would sacrifice their own security.”

He explained the latter point, saying that a lack of work on continuation of the New START nuclear arms limitation treaty between the US and Russia will result in its automatic expiry.

“We were taught that a statesperson should always prioritize core interests of his or her nation above everything else. Not so in this case. We see the forces in the US, who put their narrow group and party interests above those of their nation. Our satirists would describe them as ‘pathetic puny people’. But they are neither. On the contrary, they are quiet powerful, if they can swindle millions of their countrymen to buy stories that would not normally stand to reason,” Putin said.

The president added his warning was not meant to scold anyone, but as an instruction to the diplomatic corps to take the existence and influence of such forces into account during their work.

“Such are the facts of life for us today,” Putin stressed, before going back to his scripted speech.

The apparent improvisation comes days after Putin met US President Donald Trump in Helsinki, after which the American leader came under fire at home as critics accused him of caving in to Putin and selling out US interests. Trump later deflected the criticism, saying that people who hate him would rather see the two nations engaged in a shooting war than see him get along with Putin.

Global war with no oversight: US special forces deployed to 133 countries in first half of 2018 – By RT

US special forces soldier

© Shah Marai / Reuters
An American special forces soldier mans a tripod mounted sniper rifle on the roof of a vehicle in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, 20 August 2003.

US special forces have already deployed to 133 nations in the first half of 2018, signaling a sharp increase in the Pentagon’s shadowy operations when compared to previous years, according to a new report.
America’s Special Operations forces (SOF) are stationed all around the world, where they participate in a wide range of missions, including special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, as well as training and advising foreign troops. But special forces soldiers are also regularly involved in shadowy combat operations that receive little to no oversight. Shrouded in secrecy, these global operations continue to grow in quantity, size and expense – despite the fact that even Congress is often left in the dark, veteran investigative journalist Nick Turse recently revealed.

According to Turse, last year US special forces deployed to a staggering 149 countries -about 75 percent of the nations on the planet. But the figure for 2018 is likely to be considerably higher: US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) told Turse that America’s elite forces have already carried out missions in 133 countries – nearly matching the number of deployments during the last year of the Obama administration, and more than double the number of deployments during the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. If America’s special operators deploy to just 17 more countries by the end of the fiscal year, they will top last year’s record-breaking total.

The growing number of secretive deployments has been complemented by SOCOM’s ballooning size and budget. In 2001, for example, an average of 2,900 commandos were deployed overseas in any given week. This number has nearly tripled to 8,300. Likewise, “Special Operations-specific funding,” which totaled $3.1 billion in 2001, has increased to an astonishing $12.3 billion. But the grand total actually surpasses $20 billion, since an additional $8 billion is spent annually by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps for each branch’s special operations.

Despite the worrying implications of an expanding fighting force with little accountability, there’s no reason to believe that US Special Operations forces are going to be downsized anytime soon. According to Turse, SOCOM’s 2019 budget request calls for adding about 1,000 personnel to what would then be a force of 71,000.

Of course, not all of the deployments are malicious or covert in nature. For example, Air Force special operators were recently sent to Thailand to aid the successful attempt to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave.

But as Turse notes: “Unless they end in disaster, most missions remain in the shadows, unknown to all but a few Americans.”

Comment: Here are a few of the deployments that are known:

Joe Quinn on Sputnik: ‘They’re Not Really Fighting Against Russia, But Against Reality Itself’ – By SPUTNIK

putin trump summit

A Russian national has been charged in Washington accused of being an agent of the Russian Federation at the same time as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were meeting in Helsinki, a summit that has angered American politicians.

Maria Butina was charged Monday by the US Department of Justice with conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States, a criminal allegation that may be designed to draw attention away from Monday’s meeting between the US and Russian heads of state.

The charges are not related to the Mueller probe that is examining alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. She allegedly worked at the direction of a high-level Kremlin official. Sputnik spoke to political commentator Joe Quinn about the fallout from the Putin/Trump summit.

Sputnik: What do you make of the arrest situation in Washington of Maria Butina, the accusations and the motivations behind it?

Joe Quinn: Well this is another nothing-burger, like CNN described the Russian hacking of the US election last year. Given the timing, it’s an attempt to push the supposed ‘reality’ of Russian interference in the US election in support of Trump. The story of this Butina woman are two-a-penny in Western politics. What she’s doing is called lobbying: getting access to politicians to push particular policies.

The accusations that she was working for the Kremlin appears to be baseless – it’s the silly idea that any lobbyist in any country, anyone working to influence politicians in any country, only ever work for foreign governments. That’s obvious nonsense.

There’s probably dozens of American citizens in Russia attempting to garner the same kind of influence in exactly the same way as she has done.

Sputnik: The US president has also come under scrutiny in America following the Helsinki summit, how could this impact the President and Washington’s interactions with Moscow?

Joe Quinn: To say he’s come under scrutiny – or that this summit yesterday has come under scrutiny – is a bit of an understatement! This brief meeting of two hours that he had with Putin yesterday has been met with such a level of screaming and baying at the moon, from the usual suspects, that you’d think we’re back in the heyday of the McCarthy days.

To give you an example, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted yesterday – in all seriousness – that the football that Putin gave to Trump at the end of their meeting was probably carrying a listening device and should not be taken to the White House! I don’t know what to say to that kind of thing. You just roll your eyes…

I’m sorry to have to say that we can’t really expect the hysteria to diminish. Most of the Western media are now committed to this ridiculous campaign and have internalized the idea that Russia is a threat to the entire globe. Of course, the truth is that this situation has been deliberately provoked by elements of the ‘deep state’ as part of their ongoing war against Russia, who they see as an existential threat to their global power and control. They also seem to be quite happy to have as many people around the world – but particularly in US and Europe – believing complete lies.

Sputnik: The international accusations against Russia are mounting with the US elections, meddling and the Skripal case but with lack of evidence is the Western continuing anti-Russian rhetoric damaging any hope of improving international relations?

Joe Quinn: I don’t think that its damaging any hope – certainly it’s damaging them – but I don’t think it’s damaging any hope. Ultimately I think this campaign that’s been waged is not going to be successful. The problem for them is that history is NOT on their side. They’re not really fighting against Russia but against reality itself. The world has changed radically in the last 20 years – and it’s only just begun. The time is obviously ripe for a new global order based on multi-polarity rather than the sole dominance of a superpower, but the stewards of the empire are VERY reluctant, shall we say, to accept these necessary and inevitable changes, and unfortunately, we have to deal with chaos that they are causing as they try to forestall those changes.

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

White Helmets

© Hosam Katan / Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos at the NATO Summit Benefits Eurasian Integration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth Perspective: Trump’s Zionist Ball and Chain: The Kushner-AIPAC-Port Authority Connection – By SOTT

Trump Kushner Netanyahu

© Hispan TV

Most Americans probably know Jared Kushner as Ivanka Trump’s husband, and President Trump’s right-hand man working on the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine ‘deal of the century’. But how many remember his father, Charles? The elder Kushner is a real-estate developer, like Trump. But he’s also a convicted felon who has done jail time for his corrupt ‘business’ practices, various financial crimes and mafia-like antics. He’s also close friends with Benjamin Netanyahu, who once slept in Jared’s bed when Jared was a teenager (don’t worry, Jared slept in the basement).

Scratch below the surface of Kushner’s past and you will uncover the corrupt world of New Jersey and New York politics, the Port Authority, organized crime, and a pay-to-play system that would make Hillary and Bill blush: bribery and blackmail, trysts and affairs, conspiracy and collusion, revolving-door nepotism, backstabbing and lobbying for the interests of a foreign state. As Ryan Dawson of Anti-Neocon Report puts it, “Crooks are using the state to enrich themselves and then using this wealth to further the interest of the Israeli regime and its grip over America money, media, and military power.”

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss Dawson’s 2017 documentary God Is Not A Real Estate Agent: Trump’s Zionist Ball & Chain, which goes into all these topics in depth.

Running Time: 01:23:54

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Articles Cited

Israel takes its last breath in southern Syria as Hezbollah and Iran join Syrians in confrontation with ISIS on Golan border – By Elijah J. Magnier (ejmagnier.co) (SOTT)

daraa map

The Syrian army and the allies of Hezbollah and Iran are preparing to finish off the last pockets of militants and jihadists in the city of Daraa (the western part of it), as well as the Quneitra governorate, where the “Islamic State-Welayat Houran” (ISIS in Quneitra) militants are in control of 18 km along the 1974-line separating Syria from the occupied Golan. The presence of these terrorist groups has been tolerated and even supported by Israel in the last years of the Syrian war.

The next battle will be decisive in ending all pockets outside the authority of the Damascus government. Despite this fact Israel is still trying to intervene in the Syrian south, resisting any acceptance of the status quo: the years of war are over on its borders, and Syria is regaining the control of its territory. Actually, it is also the Israeli officials who are breathing their last in the Syrian war, which is nearing its end. What will remain to be liberated is the US & Turkish occupied North of Syria.

But the failure of the regime change is not hitting only Israel but the entire assembly of pundits in Arab and western countries. Daraa al Balad (the place where the first the slogan was raised in 2011 “Allawites to the coffin and Christians to Beirut” (Alawi ila al-Tabut wal Masihi ila Beirut)), has capitulated to the Syrian Army, who are in control of 85% of the province of Daraa. The Syrian Army is also advancing in ISIS & Huran controlled territory and is taking control of the high ground in order to pound the terrorist group’s position. The sound of bombardment is heard in the occupied Golan Heights, under the nose of the Israeli Army – which is incapable of changing the course of this next battle.

Sources in the Syrian capital say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow will only weaken Israel’s position, revealing not only President Putin’s intention not to meet the demands of his Israeli guest, but also that Israel’s reference in Syria, as it has not resorted to its traditional ally (the United States), has become Moscow, not Washington.

Netanyahu’s presence in the Russian capital – in parallel with the presence of the envoy and adviser of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati in Moscow – will only bring him back empty handed to Tel Aviv. Instead of presenting himself as a prestigious political leader “trying to score points in his favour”, Netanyahu is looking extremely weak, and also politically impotent. Trying to compensate for his diplomatic failure with Moscow by bombing the three abandoned positions of the Syrian army in Quneitra will achieve nothing. Netanyahu has only managed to appear feebler: he does not dare hit the Syrians and their allied forces (Hezbollah and Iran), in the presence of the hundreds of special units who are in the process of liberating the south.

Several days ago, Netanyahu bombed positions at the T4 military airport, sending his jets deep into the desert of al-Badiyah and towards Homs province. It is clear that he is aided by the American forces occupying northern Syria, who allowed Israel to use its military airports built in al-Hasaka province.

However, the first response Israel got came from the Lebanese “Hezbollah” which sent more special forces to confront ISIS in the Quneitra province. The Syrian Army and its allies are preparing for this forthcoming important battle once the 18km enclave occupied by ISIS is completely besieged. Therefore, before beginning the last battle in the south, the evacuation of all Jabhat al-Nusra (aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) and other jihadists and militants is necessary.

The second response came from Iran, sending a drone to penetrate 10 km into Israel. This act constituted a blow to the Israeli defences, showing their slow reaction and intelligence and military defence weaknesses – even if the plane was later shot down by a Patriot missile.

The bottom line: Israel has pushed Iran to violate all the “red lines” that existed (even if these were not announced and agreed by the parties concerned). Instead of the Iranian-Israeli conflict taking place outside the borders of Israel, the military bras-de-fer has moved into Israeli airspace. The Iranian and Hezbollah violation of Israeli airspace – unthinkable to any country or organisation in the Middle East – has become a regular promenade.

Netanyahu is begging the Russian leader – this is the third visit in 6 months – to prevent Iran and Hezbollah’s presence on the Syrian border. It is obvious that he has failed in his attempt, due to Hezbollah and Iran’s manifest presence in the southern battle of Syria. The Israeli Prime Minister will also ask Donald Trump to raise the same topic at the upcoming summit between the Russian and the US leaders in the coming days. But no great achievement in this regard is expected for the following simple reasons:

  1. Syria is determined to regain full control of its southern territories. Actually, the battle was imposed during the Russian-Israeli negotiations and President Assad is determined not to give up any inch of territory. Therefore, he has not succumbed to the Israeli threats.
  2. Israel lowered its ceiling of demands when President Bashar al-Assad helped remove Prime Minister Netanyahu from the tree he climbed by ordering his forces to begin the battle, imposing his own tempo and asking his allies to participate in the battle against Jihadists.
  3. Damascus does not meet all Russian demands, despite their joint military collaboration across Syrian geography. This difference has emerged in more than one battle in recent years, without necessarily causing any fundamental clash of interest between the two parties.
  4. Assad meets his Iranian ally’s goals and objectives: the two agreed on their common hostility to Israel without interfering with the good Russian-Israeli relationship.
  5. Assad will not abandon the “axis of resistance,” which has proved itself by its fulfilment of its obligations, supporting Syria with men and weapons. This “Axis” has always been, and still is, confident in the cause of the Syrian president, even though he almost lost the country in 2013. The advocates in this axis defended the Levant without imposing their faith or making demands on Assad in exchange for their intervention. Moreover, the members of the “Axis” gave complete freedom of decision to Assad to decide what he considered his priorities and objectives. They did not interfere in his internal policies and – unlike Russia on several occasions – did not stake a claim to the day when the Syrian President must step down from office (apparently to appease the West and the Arabs).

Israel is expected to strike again and to bomb in Syria, pretending to be relaxed and comfortable. In fact, Israel looks like a wounded bird hit by a hunter: it is dancing from the pain of leaving Syria.

Israel pulled out from Lebanon in 2000 unconditionally, and today it is abandoning its allies in the Syrian south, leaving these – as it did with the South Lebanon Army – without any support.

Israel contributed to the rise of the resistance in Lebanon in 1982 which gave birth to Hezbollah, the most powerful organisation in the Middle East, which now competes with many regular armies in the Middle East. Israel erred in supporting the jihadists in Syria and assisting the plan to overthrow Assad: it managed only to create a “Hezbollah-Syria”.

Syria has downed more than one Israeli jet; drones flew over Israel and rockets and missiles were fired at its soldiers in the occupied Golan Heights. Today, Israel is reduced to threatening any force violating the 1974 line – which has never been violated for the last 40 years.

Following 2006, Israel has once more been defeated, and in Syria. The aggressive stance it has used when claiming to “defend itself” will no longer be successful with an “axis” which is determined to liberate all Syria’s occupied territories… and in the Lebanon. It is now no longer be possible for Israel to use “the right to defend itself” as an excuse to do just what it wants.

Proof read by: Maurice Brasher

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About Elijah J. Magnier

Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years’ experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria. View all posts by Elijah J Magnier

Comment: Yesterday the Syrians completely liberated the city of Daraa. All that remains are the pockets of FSA/al-Qaeda/ISIS along the border with occupied Golan. See: Where it all began: Syrian Army liberates Daraa from western-backed terrorists

Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Is Precisely the Pro-Corporate Right-Wing Hack Progressives Fear – by Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, July 9, 2018, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

A run-down of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s positions on various social issues and the danger his appointment could pose to everything from the Department of Labor to the Environmental Protection Agency and even Roe v. Wade.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s choice Monday night to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second Supreme Court nominee has confirmed that Trump seems dead-set on fortifying conservative control of the court for years, if not decades, to come.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh has served on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for 12 years, and his ideological stances are firmly on the right end of the Washington spectrum. He is widely expected to be confirmed, given that the Republican Party commands a slight majority in the U.S. Senate. If his appointment clears that hurdle, it would mark the second successful lifetime appointment to the court by Trump in 18 months.

He earned his stripes in Washington taking part in the investigation of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the 1990s, where he served under independent counsel Kenneth Starr and drafted much of the Starr Report, paving the way to Clinton’s impeachment. He also took part in the Florida recount battle in the 2000 presidential election as a counsel in George W. Bush’s team and later as a senior Bush White House official.

Related

 

Kavanaugh, if confirmed, will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who retired late last month. If the nominee fills the outgoing conservative’s justice’s seat, experts fear that he may move the court further to the right – especially on issues relating to corporate regulations, immigrant rights, gun laws, women’s reproductive health, and religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Given that he was on the shortlist of nominees drawn up by Leonard Leo, the conservative Federalist Society’s executive vice president, one can assume that the judge will hold down the fort in terms of right-wing rulings if he proceeds to the top bench. The other potential figures under consideration had been federal appellate judges Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

 

Where He Stands

According to Axios, Kavanaugh would rank as the second most far-right justice on the court if he were confirmed, placing him slightly to the left of Justice Clarence Thomas and to the right of Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

A quick run-down of his positions on various social issues shows Kavanaugh as a party-line Republican holding down the far-right flank of conservative traditionalism (or social backwardness), posing the danger that his appointment would sound the death-knell for everything from the Department of Labor to the Environmental Protection Agency and even Roe v. Wade :

Corporate regulations – the 53-year old put significant wind in the sails of the banking industry when he wrote an opinion in October 2016 declaring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “unconstitutional” due to the “enormous executive power” given to its director and the “threat to individual liberty” it poses (for billionaire banksters). The watchdog agency was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the 2008 financial collapse and was later found to be constitutional.

He has also sided with the meat industry, opposing Department of Agriculture standards requiring that meat be labeled to allow consumers to know where each step of the meat production process took place. Kavanaugh backed Big Food by arguing that the government must support U.S. manufacturers, industrial farmers and ranchers versus foreign competitors.

Racial Equity – Kavanaugh is an opponent of affirmative action in college admissions, which has sought to increase the representation of historically oppressed nationalities and ethnicities in education since the 1960s. Since its inception, affirmative action has been the focus of attacks by right-wing forces in the U.S. who claim that it is an example of so-called “reverse racism” – a term alleging the victimization of whites by historically oppressed nationalities – and bars qualified white candidates from school placement, instead favoring their counterparts of color whom they perceived to be less qualified.

Workers Rights – The conservative justice has a solidly anti-worker record, and has opposed everything from protections of collective bargaining rights to basic workplace safety standards.

In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

Judge Kavanaugh routinely rules against working families, regularly rejects the right of employees to receive employer-provided health care in the workplace, too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace and promotes overturning well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”

Net Neutrality – In 2017, Kavanaugh dissented against the ruling in United States Telecom Association v FCC, writing: “The net neutrality rule is unlawful and must be vacated, however, for two alternative and independent reasons. First, Congress did not clearly authorize the FCC to issue the net neutrality rule … Second and in the alternative, the net neutrality rule violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The Environment – Kavanaugh was a major critic of Obama-era environmental protection agencies, and penned a decision rejecting attempts by the EPA to curb air pollution that spills over states’ borders. In the face of federal attempts to curb pollution and climate change, he has upheld corporate interests and the separation of powers.

Reproductive Health, Contraception and Abortion – He has argued that the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of contraception infringes on the “rights” of religious – read: evangelical fundamentalist – organizations and “religious liberty” groups. However, he has pledged in the past to uphold the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion access. Democrats are skeptical about his commitment to the decision, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that the party will be on the lookout for signs that he will repeal Roe.

Kavanaugh was the focus of a partisan battle when Bush nominated him to the appeals court in 2003, with Democrats accusing him of being a partisan ideologue. By 2006, the Senate confirmed him.

The narrow Republican Senate majority of 51-49 — with Sen. John McCain sitting out proceedings and basically standing at death’s door in Arizona – leaves Democrats with little options to wage their storied “resistance,” yet they can possibly apply pressure to Republican figures to create dissension and defections in GOP ranks.

 

“Resistance” on Capitol Hill and In the Streets

According to the White House, attempts by Trump’s team to reach out to Senate Judiciary Committee members prior to Monday’s nomination were largely greeted courteously – with the notable exception of Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris, whose office told White House Counsel Don McGahn, “We want nothing to do with you.”

In a tweet, the former California attorney general and centrist Democrat – widely considered to be a possible Democratic presidential candidate – wrote that Kavanaugh “represents a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.”

On Tuesday morning, Schumer also vowed on MSNBC to “oppose this nominee with everything that I’ve got.” Democrats are banking on the fear surrounding Trump’s Supreme Court pick and its anti-woman, white supremacist, and pro-corporate implications as a powerful motivator for voters, particularly Democrats, in this year’s midterm elections.

Despite the fear that Kavanaugh will turn the Supreme Court far to the right, some experts feel that the perception it was somehow ever “moderate” or even “progressive” was a false illusion and that a hard-right tilt by the Judiciary could clear up false expectations about the nature of the court.

“When people in [the U.S.] worry about the court tilting ‘hard-right’ it makes it seem as if the court has ever been a ‘left’ court,” National Lawyers Guild vice president Ken Montenegro told MintPress News.

“[But] the court has largely been centrist … So, it’s possible that in this time of emboldened white supremacy a tilt further to the right will mobilize people to question the [overall] nature of the judiciary,” he added.

Top Photo | President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, in the East Room of the White House, July 9, 2018, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

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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Who Is Isolating Whom? – By Martin SIEFF (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Who Is Isolating Whom?

For nearly 30 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States and its main Western European allies the United Kingdom, France and Germany have comfortably assumed themselves to be the invincible and unstoppable spearhead and cutting edge of the human race. The assumption that democracy and free trade, Western style will conquer the world is axiomatically held and permeates the educational systems and intelligentsia of all these nations.

Yet this presumption of moral and superiority and ideological inevitability by the leaders of the United States, the European Union, NATO and the Group of Seven (G7) nations has not been confirmed by any verifiable hard evidence.

On the contrary, the US State Department’s own reports have remorselessly documented throughout the 21st century that every nation where the United States intervened either directly, applying kinetic military power, or indirectly destabilizing existing governments and urging other players to rise up to destabilize existing governments – misery, not happiness has inevitably resulted.

Whether one looks at Ukraine, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Somalia or Syria, the pattern is always the same. Per capita rates of human trafficking, including, the enslavement of children for sexual exploitation, organized crime, drug trafficking, per capita hard drug addiction rate, and the likelihood of violent death has soared after every such US and/or allied military intervention. Life expectancy and standards of living as well as recorded GDP have plummeted catastrophically in every case.

Even the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on June 15, 2001 failed to dent Western paradigm blindness, arrogance and complacency about the true, future “Way of the World.” Now we see the same extraordinary complacency presented by the Western elites to the crucial accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO.

The geostrategic, world historical importance of this development cannot be overestimated. For 17 years since the founding of the SCO, the United States and its NATO and European Union allies have pressed ahead in one minor war of destabilization and aggression after another. Yet every one of those misadventures has been a strategic and even tactical failure. The United States and its NATO allies have proven all too adept at starting wars around the world. Through fear and the narrowest calculations of self-aggrandizement, tiny nations from Estonia to Georgia have flocked to their banner.

However now, at a single stroke, the two giant nuclear-armed nations of South Asia – India and Pakistan – have set aside their existential rivalries and suspicions and have both sought security and protection within the framework of the SCO. And more, these two nations are both English speaking democracies!

How can the United States and the United Kingdom in particular now claim to uphold the cause of democracy when the largest, most populous democracy on earth – a nation of almost 1.3 billion people, and another nation with an English-speaking democracy – Pakistan – with a population now in excess of 200 million have now joined the SCO?

How can the United States, NATO, the EU or the Group of Seven now claim to uphold democratic values around the globe when two democracies with a combined population of more almost 1.5 billion – double the population of all the 28 nations combined in the EU and almost five times the population of the United States – have now opted to join the SCO?

Why did Delhi and Islamabad both decide upon such a n epochal move? Clearly, they did so in large part because both nations fear the future potential coercive designs of the Western alliances against either of them.

Therefore despite US efforts at engineering Regime Change from Ukraine to Brazil, the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO confirms the isolation of NATO in the wider world, shrinking the alliance’s expansion into Eastern Europe to just the western end of Eurasia and the periphery of East Asia.

This therefore is the self-inflicted strategic catastrophe that the fantasy vision of global strategic engineering and a worldwide “crusade for democracy” has inflicted upon its perpetrators. Rather than isolating Russia, or China or both of them – an absurd goal if ever there was one – the half-baked failed neo-conservative and neo-liberal Hegelians of the Sub-Age of Francis Fukuyama have isolated themselves instead.

Just as the capitalist United States, the communist Soviet Union and the paleo-colonialist British Empire all eventually joined forces to crush the mutual threat of Nazism, the neocon and neo-lib fanatics of Permanent Global Revolution (PGR) – democratic – style – have expended trillions of dollars and set off wars costing millions of lives – only to succeed in isolating themselves.

The solution to this global catastrophe for the forces of the West w is actually very simple and practical. It is to end the policy of endless military interventions, to immediately end the remorseless expansion of NATO and indeed to permit any nation within the alliance to quietly and efficiently decide to leave it whenever it so chooses.

All NATO nations, led by the United States must also solemnly undertake to respect the primacy of international law and to implement and respect all decisions taken by the United Nations Security Council where the permanent veto power still welded by the United States and its allies the UK and France provide ample diplomatic and legal protection against their own coercive and expansionist tactics being turned against them.

This is what the leaders of the West should do. But of course they will not. For when did Fools ever willingly embrace Wisdom?

Organization of America – By Tamara Nassar and Ali Abunimah The Electronic Intifada (Electronic Intifada)

The emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani hired a Washington firm to cultivate support from the Israel lobby. Those efforts included large donations to the Zionist Organization of America.

Emmanuele Contini SIPA USA

Qatar donated $250,000 to some of the most extreme pro-Israel organizations in the United States, including one that funds senior Israeli military officers to go on propaganda tours.

Joseph Allaham, a lobbyist working for the Qatari government, transferred the money through his firm Lexington Strategies in late 2017 and early 2018.

The sums included $100,000 to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), $100,000 to Our Soldiers Speak and $50,000 for Blue Diamond Horizons, Inc.

Our Soldiers Speak describes itself as the “vehicle through which the IDF [Israeli army] and the Israeli National Police dispatch senior officers to select campuses overseas” and to give “briefings” to members of the US Congress.

Blue Diamond Horizons is a company controlled by Mike Huckabee, the Christian Zionist former governor of Arkansas.

Huckabee, who happens to be the father of Donald Trump’s White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, opposes any Israeli withdrawal from Jerusalem and has suggested Israel should annex the West Bank.

In US government disclosure documents, Lexington Strategies describes the payment to Huckabee’s company as an “honorarium for visit,” while the donations to the ZOA and Our Soldiers Speak are labeled as contributions for “charitable goodwill.”

In January this year, Huckabee traveled to Doha, as one of a parade of far-right and pro-Israel figures invited to Qatar as part of the Gulf emirate’s intensive outreach to Israel and its lobby.

Working for Emir

The disclosure, filed by Lexington Strategies on 15 June under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), reveals that the money given to the Zionist organizations came out of $1.45 million provided by the State of Qatar for lobbying on its behalf.

The document explicitly names Qatar’s ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as the client of Allaham’s lobbying efforts.

One of the stated purposes of the money paid by Qatar to the lobbying group is to encourage “dialogue with [the] Jewish community abroad and in the United States.”

In reality, Qatar has been reaching out to some of the most extreme supporters of Israel as part of its effort to curry favor with the United States.

For more than a year, Qatar has faced isolation and blockade by regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Trump administration initially expressed strong support for that blockade, labeling Qatar a sponsor of “terrorism.”

Doha fears that under the influence of the Saudi-led bloc, the US could withdraw its massive Al Udeid air base from Qatar, making the tiny state vulnerable to invasion from bigger neighbors.

In order to fight back, Qatar is competing with its Gulf rivals for US affections, and like those rivals it views the support of Israel and its lobby as the fastest route to Washington’s heart.

As part of this effort, Qatar hired lobbyist Nick Muzin and his firm Stonington Strategies and was in 2017 paying him a monthly retainer of $50,000. This was later increased to $300,000 a month, according to FARA filings.

With Allaham’s disclosure it now emerges that Qatar has hired more than one Washington firm to win the favors of the Israel lobby.

Shielding the lobby

One of the key concessions Qatar has made is to suppress an explosive Al Jazeera documentary revealing the inner workings of the US Israel lobby.

As The Electronic Intifada exclusively revealed in March, the film identifies a number of lobby groups as working directly with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques.

The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

The Zionist Organization of America, one of the recipients of the Qatari emir’s largesse and hospitality, took public credit for getting the film censored.

But amid criticism within pro-Israel circles, ZOA president Morton Klein claimed to be “shocked” when he learned that the money had originated from Qatar, and told The Jewish Week he would return the donations.

Our Soldiers Speak, the group that promotes the Israeli military, affirmed to the publication that it is “very pleased to take every penny.”

The Jewish Week also reported that one of the guests Allaham invited to the ZOA’s gala dinner last year was Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who had been a Qatari diplomat and the former head of Qatar Investments, a $100-billion sovereign wealth fund whose holdings include Qatar Airways.

While there, al-Rumaihi reportedly asked to be introduced to Steve Bannon, the former senior Trump adviser who gave a speech at the ZOA gala.

In an article published days before Allaham filed his FARA disclosure, Mother Jones magazine reported that Klein was questioned about al-Rumaihi’s presence at the dinner. The ZOA president responded, “What’s the problem? Joey [Allaham] paid me $100,000 for that table!”

Occupation advice

While courting those who facilitate and justify Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in Washington, Qatar presents itself as one of the key supporters of Palestinians in Gaza.

Qatar funds projects and provides aid in the territory that has faced massive Israeli military assaults and a devastating siege over more than a decade.

Israel also regularly sprays Palestinian farmland in Gaza with herbicides, destroying crops.

But recent comments by Qatari diplomat Mohammed al-Emadi suggest that Qatar’s agenda is effectively to help Israel pacify Gaza and manage its occupation better.

Al-Emadi is in charge of Qatar’s activities in Gaza. He suggested in an interview with Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday that the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel boundary fence would quiet down if Israel were to allow Palestinians in Gaza to work in Israel.

“It could start for example with 5,000 people in Gaza who would work in Israel. That is good. That would stop the protests, the fires, the kites and the balloons,” al-Emadi said.

Since the end of March, Israel has killed more than 140 Palestinians and injured more than 4,000 others with live fire during protests aimed at ending the siege and calling for the right for refugees to return to their original lands from which Israel excludes them because they are not Jews.

But while Israel is undoubtedly happy to see Qatar pay to keep Palestinians in Gaza at the edge of survival, there is no sign it is interested in taking Qatari advice.

On Monday, Israel announced it was closing the only goods crossing to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites launched from Gaza that have caused damage to crops on the Israeli side of the boundary.

The Israeli human rights group Gisha said that “collectively punishing nearly two million people in Gaza by closing its only official crossing for the movement of goods is both illegal and morally depraved.”

Tamara Nassar is associate editor and Ali Abunimah is director of The Electronic Intifada.

 

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