Monday, December 11, 2017

Enviros React to NDP Site C "No Choice" Decision

Site C dam given green light by NDP

by WildernessCommittee.org


December 11, 2017

Wilderness Committee outraged and warns of rising debt and conflict

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Wilderness Committee has reacted with shock and anger at the news that B.C. Premier John Horgan has given the green-light to the massive, misguided Site C dam project.

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision,” said Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director Joe Foy.
“Allowing this money wasting, human rights abusing boondoggle of a white elephant to proceed will go down as one of the worst blunders in B.C. history.”

The Site C dam is now an addition to the sad history of human rights violations when constructing large industrial projects in the Peace River country like the fracking boom and the W.A.C. Bennett Dam.

“This dam is an assault on the human rights of the Indigenous people of the Peace River Valley. The province is so worried about the two billion dollars sunk into it already, but that is nothing to pay for reconciliation,” said Foy.
“You can’t say you are committed to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and then approve the Site C dam.”

The Wilderness Committee has been fighting this proposal since 2010 and is part of a group of environmental organizations, First Nations, unions, human rights groups, science associations, political parties and local community members that have come together in recent years to oppose the Site C dam.

“Since the 1970’s when it was first proposed, the Site C dam has caused nothing but worry and heartbreak for the farm families and First Nations living in the Peace River Valley. With the election of the NDP government, there came reason to hope. But now the looming threat of a dam flooding them out is back – what a lost opportunity,” said Foy.
“Approving this dam is a heist of billions of dollars of public funds for a project the province does not need and could never pay off. Every right-minded B.C. resident has a responsibility to keep fighting this damn dam until it is gone.”

- 30 -

For Immediate Release – Dec. 11, 2017

For more information, please contact:

Joe Foy | National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
 joe@wildernesscommittee.org

Related Campaign: Stop the Site C Dam

Site C: "I Have No Choice" Says BC Premier

"I Have No Choice" Says BC Premier

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press


December 11, 2017

Today's is a date that will live in infamy in British Columbia. On the 20th anniversary of the precedent setting Delgamuukw decision on First Nations rights and treaty-making, the New Democratic Party has turned its back on First Nations' objections to a mega project that will submerge the spirit of that decision, washing away those rights as surely as the rising waters of the Peace River.

In announcing the decision to continue the controversial project, NDP leader, John Horgan insisted, "I had no choice." Now it's clear, voters in BC have no political alternative to the corporate BC Liberals who initiated Site C, a project not only environmentally, culturally, and politically devastating for the province but also a white elephant certain to be financially crippling for generations to come.

As disappointing as the NDP volte-face on Site C has been, the tepid objections to it raised by Green Party of BC leader, Andrew Weaver convinces too, any hope British Columbia's polity had to reverse the rapine, business as usual, corporate friendly ideology emanating from Victoria will have to wait at least another generation.

For those voters wishing real change, Horgan's weak invocation of "no choice" today rings with a bitter irony his party will soon learn to its' regret.  
  

Is "Radical Feminism" the Only Solution to Male Sexual Aggression?

Radical feminism is the only solution to men’s ongoing ‘sexual misconduct’

by Robert Jensen - feminist current


December 10, 2017

Radical feminism challenges us to be better than our patriarchal culture asks of us — to reject patriarchy’s glorification of control, conquest, and aggression.


I’m not surprised,” women say, in response to the flood of revelations of sexual “misconduct” by men, especially men in positions of power. But none of us — women or men — should be surprised, because the United States is a patriarchal society and in patriarchy men routinely claim the right to own or control women’s bodies for reproduction and sexual pleasure. Men — liberal and conservative — know that just as well as women.

In such a society, conservative and liberal men will often disagree in public about the conditions under which they can rightly claim ownership. Conservative men argue for control of women within the heterosexual family. Liberal men argue for more expansive access to women.

In public, the policy debates about reproductive rights and sexual access rage on. In private, conservative and liberal men claim their “right” to do as they please, which is why women sometimes find it difficult to tell conservative and liberal men apart when it comes to behavior.

What kind of world has that produced? A sexually corrosive pop culture (both in dating practices and mediated images), with expanding sexual exploitation industries (primarily prostitution and pornography), and routine sexual intrusion (the spectrum from sexual harassment to sexual assault). Women are routinely objectified in pop culture, reducing complex human beings to body parts for male pleasure. Men routinely buy and sell those objectified bodies for sexual pleasure, in person and on screens. And when men believe they can take those bodies without challenge, some men do just that.

Male or female, we are should not be surprised when in a patriarchal society — a society based on institutionalized male dominance — men exercise that dominance. Of course patriarchy is not static nor unidimensional, nor is it the only system of illegitimate authority. Patriarchy in 2017 is not exactly the same as in 1917; patriarchy in the United States is not the same as patriarchy in Saudi Arabia. Race, class, religion, and nation affect how patriarchy plays out in a specific time and place.

Patriarchy also is not immune to challenge. Feminism makes gains, patriarchy pushes back, and the struggle continues. Women advance in business, politics, and education, and men assert their control over women’s bodies where they can get away with it.

Radical feminism is the term for that component of the second wave of feminism (in the United States, the phase of the movement that emerged in the 1960s) that most directly confronts men’s sexual exploitation of women. In the three decades that I have been involved in radical feminist projects, this analysis has become more useful than ever in explaining an increasingly corrosive society, the mainstreaming of sexual exploitation, and the epidemic levels of sexual intrusion.

Yet both conservatives and liberals routinely dismiss radical feminism as dangerous, out of date, irrelevant. Why would an analysis that offers a compelling explanation of social trends be ignored? My experience suggests that it’s precisely because of the power of the radical feminist analysis that it is avoided. U.S. society is unwilling, or unable, to confront the pathology of patriarchy, a system of illegitimate authority woven so deeply into the fabric of everyday life that many people are afraid of naming it, let alone confronting it.

I remember clearly my first exposure to radical feminist ideas, when I was 30 years old, in the late 1980s. I knew that the women making these arguments, specifically about men’s exploitation of women in and through pornography, had to be crazy — because if they weren’t crazy, I not only would have to rethink what I had learned about the sex/gender system in patriarchy but also change my own behavior. But radical feminism wore me down — with evidence and compelling arguments, along with an undeniable emotional honesty. Once I let myself listen carefully, radical feminism not only explained the oppression of girls and women but also helped me understand why I had never felt I could live up to the pathological standards of masculinity in patriarchy.

I had been taught that feminism — especially radical feminism — was a threat to men. I came to understand that it is a gift to us. Not the kind of gift that makes one feel warm and fuzzy but instead challenges us to be better than our patriarchal culture asks of us, to reject patriarchy’s glorification of control, conquest, and aggression.

I’m about to turn 60, and the half of my life lived with a feminist analysis has not always been easy, nor have I magically overcome all my flaws. But radical feminism allowed me to stop worrying about how to be a “real man” and start figuring out how to be a decent person.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men, and Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully. He can be reached at rjensen@austin.utexas.edu or through his website: robertwjensen.org.
To join his email list, visit: thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can We Trade Tribalism and Become Universal?

I’m Not Racist, Am I?

by Gilad Atzmon


December 11, 2017

I'm Not Racist: The video below is rapper’s Joyner Lucas' "I'm Not Racist." It's uncomfortable for some of us to watch, but within a few days it was viewed by 12 million people.

The video opens with a big white man in a "Make America Great Again" hat ‘speaking his mind,’ by expressing what many white Americans believe about blacks. In the second verse, the song takes a surprising turn -- a young black man in dreadlocks tells his story and counters each of the white man’s identitarian generalizations.



Why has I’m Not Racist attracted millions of viewers? Because unlike Western academia, media, politicians and progressives who try to suppress the way people think and express themselves, the artist here attempts to reshape the universe, offering a prospect of unity.

While oligarchs and their identitarian lapdogs push us into race wars, religious conflicts, immoral interventionist disasters and identity battles, beauty focuses on the universal. Art shows us how to escape from the dystopia inflicted by the Soroses and their cultural and political mercenaries.

In I’m Not Racist’s final scene we see forgiveness. The white and the black men reconcile. The big Trump supporter and the young black man embrace. Human bonds prevail. Let us try extend this exercise a bit. Can we imagine an Israeli and a Palestinian telling each other what they really think about each other? I think we can. Can we think of a Jihadi Muslim playing a similar role with a global war enthusiast? I think we can.

But what about a Goy and a Jew? Can we envisage a video of a Goy shouting angrily at a Jew what many Goyim think about Israel, choseness, the Fed, Goldman Sachs, Soros, Hollywood, the Holocaust industry, the Holodomor, Palestine, AIPAC, CFI, the Lobby, Weinstein, Epstein, Lord Janner? Would a video with such content survive for one day on Youtube? Can we also imagine an angry Jew standing in front of a camera sharing the Jewish side of the story? Will he proffer the Jewish view of the world and in particular, the Goyim? Will he tell us the meanings of Goyishe Kopf, shiksa and Shvartze? I suspect that we all know the answer to this. It is not going to happen for the same reason it has never happened.

Those who self identify (politically) as Jews are often removed from the realm of the universal. When they ‘oppose racism,’ they are too often primarily concerned with antisemitsm. Even when they support the Palestinians, they do so within racially exclusive Jewish political cells as JVPs can attest. When they fight for ‘freedom of Speech on Israel’ within the Labour Party they still operate as the ‘Jewish’ Voice for Labour and form an ‘all-Jewish panel.’

It is a reasonable argument that the Jew/Goy relationship is volatile territory, guarded and even policed by a variety of means including legal measures.

Rapper Joyner Lucas crosses the black/white divide because for him being in the world is being amongst others. To achieve the same goal, Jews must find a way to rid themselves of all traces of choseness and exceptionalism. And here is the Jewish dilemma once again – when Jews do that, when they drift away from choseness, they become ordinary boring humans, they stop being Jews they become Goyim. Some Jews in the past have chosen this path – they have successfully blended into the universal.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

How Britain Finances Al Qaeda

Going Underground: Vanessa Beeley on UK money supporting Al Qaeda

by RT


December 9, 2017

Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley reveals how UK taxpayers’ money supports terrorism. Plus, we read this week’s PMQs!




The Shakin' All Over Ain't Over 'til It's All Over!

China, Saudi Arabia and the US: Shake Up and Shake Down

by James Petras  - ICH


December 09, 2017


Major changes are roiling the states, societies and ruling classes of the biggest industrial economies, oil regimes and military complexes.

China is re-allocating its economic wealth toward building the most extensive modern infrastructure system in history, linking four continents. Saudi Arabia is transferring a trillion dollars of pillage from princes to princes, from old business parasites to up-to-date versions, from austere desert mirages to fantasies of new mega-cities.

The United States is emptying the swamp of the Capital’s corruption and immediately replenishing it with the scandal of the day.

One Cabinet Secretary is fired; another Secretary is hired; one enemy is embraced; an ally denounced; the stock market flourishes and trade agreements are abandoned. One tax is sliced and pleases the powerful; another is spliced and chokes the consumers.

Turmoil, some would say; chaos, others would claim. And the stouthearted argue, that’s the way the world turns round.

But for all the world’s current ‘shaking’, there is substance and direction: There are models for the shaking-up and paradigms for the shaking down.

‘Shaking up’ occurs where visions of wealth and prosperity accompany science and discovery.

‘Shaking down’ is where the science of palace coups and the art of bloody intrigues fleece the poor while enriching and amusing the powerful.

The Art and Artist of the Shake Down


The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), pursues a new policy of scientific, systematic, large-scale and long-term shakedown (SD). Science is evident in these procedures, in their rigorous identification of targets and their efficient methodology of securing subjects and achieving success.

MBS and his associates launched their policy of SD in several well-planned stages.




First, they cloaked the entire SD operation as part of the vast transformation of the Kingdom, accompanied by a string of Western buzzwords: modernization of a traditional society; cleansing the suites of corruption; diversifying the oil dependent economy; privatizing ARAMCO; and replacing camels and tents with a state-of-the-art mega city in the desert.

MBS thus moved to seize state power as the final act in an operation starting with a wave of shakedowns.

The Princes-in-waiting experienced the initial shakedown.

In orderly fashion, MBS wielded his royal sword on behalf of righteousness (according to his adoring fans in the Western press, like Thomas Friedman): Scores of corrupt princes and hundreds of the business and military elite were arrested (or abducted for ransom . . . and safe keeping).

The ‘shakedown’ was underway, but the captives were held in circumstances worthy of their status. The abduction, imprisonment and plea-bargaining for ransom and release took place in the 5-star Riyadh Ritz-Hilton.

The MBS meritocratic modernizers (MM) held the highest degrees in finance and accounting and were adept at calculating appropriate ransoms from each and every captive. The MM demanded hundreds of millions from the billionaires while the generals settled for an early retirement, stripped of pensions and commands. Upon payment and release, the newly fleeced Saudi Princelings fled to the brothels of Beirut to receive un-brotherly comfort. They were freed on one condition: They would return some of the Kingdom’s pillage to fund a ‘New Class’ in a ‘New Arabia’ under the Crown Prince MBS.

However, Western investors, who quietly kept their snouts in the ‘traditional trough’ of Saudi wealth, were not sure where they stood with MBS and his meritocratic modernizers. They needed to know, for the sake of their stockholders: Were they victims or beneficiaries of the big shakedown? Were they condemned to suffer among the corrupt billionaires or granted entry into the new realm of the virtuous Prince?

MBS may have carried out the largest shakedown in recent times, in the name of justice, but there are still no signs of a diversified, modern and prosperous society arising on the Arabian Peninsula. In some places, there rose a more diverse variety of shakedown artists and plotters: Many, who applaud the Crown Prince, await their share of the loot. In other parts of the peninsula, MBS continues to deliver famine, cholera and desperation and rain down bombs on the people of Yemen. If Israel could turn the remnant of Palestine into an open-air prison for periodic slaughter, MBS could find his own ‘Palestinians’ in Yemen for target practice.

China: The Shake Up


China is in the throes of one, two, many upheavals: Over one million high and low ranking officials and millionaires, who levied their own ‘private tax’ on the public treasury, will celebrate another Chinese New Year – in jail.

Meanwhile, over 25 billion dollars has been spent on innovative high tech projects, reshaping the economy, reducing pollution and expanding the welfare state.

Over one trillion dollars is being spent on huge global infrastructure projects linking China to four continents in an integrated network of trade – The One Road-One Belt Network.

China is the polar-opposite of Saudi Arabia: In place of state-sponsored ransom and blackmail (the ‘shakedown’) China is experiencing a monumental ‘shake-up’ – spending money in multiple directions. There are overseas projects to promote trade relations; upward projects linking business to high technology and greater profits; downward projects to train and expand the skilled labor force, reduce pollution, increase social welfare, save lives and increase productivity.

Unlike the US, China has nourished its manufacturing sector, and not starved it of investment. The average factory in the US is twice as old as those in China. To even dream of catching up with Chinese production, the US would have to invest over $115 billion a year in manufacturing for the next three decades.

Limited access to investment capital will condemn the tens of thousands of small and medium size manufacturing enterprises in the US to low productivity and reduced exports.

In contrast, the Chinese government directs investment capital widely to manufacturers of all sizes and shapes. Moreover, local Chinese manufacturers connect readily to the supply chain with big exporters. China provides explicit incentives to exporters to work with local suppliers to ensure that profits are re-invested in the home market.

In the US, the multinational suppliers are located out of the country and their earnings are hoarded overseas. Whenever profits return to the US, these are directed into buybacks of shares and dividends for the stockholders —not into new production.

Beijing manages debt, raising and limiting it to promote dynamic development with a level of efficiency unmatched in the US.

China keeps a close eye on excessive debt, speculation and investment, in contrast to the unrestrained chaos of the so-called ‘free market’ of the US and its parasitical allies, the Saudi coupon–clipping shakedown artists.

The US: The Political Economy of Scandalous Conspiracies and ‘Flight Capitalism’


The chaotic free-for-all in the US political economy is manipulated by scandalmongers, conspirators and flight capitalists. Instead of preparing an economic plan to ‘make America great again’, they have embraced the political blackmailers and intriguers of Saudi Arabia in a sui-generis global political alliance. Both countries feature purges, resignations and pugnacious politicos who have never been weaned from the destructive bosom of war.

As a point of history, the United States didn’t start out as a bloated, speculative state of crony capitalists and parasitical allies: The US was once a powerful industrial country, harnessing finance and overseas investments to securing raw materials for domestic industries and directing profits back into industry for higher productivity.

Fake, or semi-fake, political rivalries and electoral competition counted little as incumbents retained their positions most of the time, and bi-partisan agreements ensured stability through sharing the spoils of office.

Things have changed. Overseas neo-colonies started to offer more than just raw materials: They introduced low-tax manufacturing sites promising free access to cheap, healthy and educated workers. US manufacturers abandoned Old Glory, invested overseas, hoarded profits in tax havens and happily evaded paying taxes to fund a new economy for displaced US workers. Simultaneously, finance reversed its relation to industry: Industrial capital was now harnessed to finance, speculation, real estate, insurance sectors and electronic gadgets/play-by-yourself ‘i-phones’ promoting isolated ‘selfies’ and idle chatter.

Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood replaced Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago. Stockbrokers proliferated, while master tool-and-die makers disappeared and workers’ children overdosed on ‘Oxy’.

In the transition, politicians, who had no connection to domestic industry, found a powerful niche promoting overseas wars for allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, and disseminating domestic spats, intrigues and conspiracies to the voters. Vietnam and Watergate, Afghanistan and Volker, Iran-Contra and Reaganomics, Yugoslavia and Iraq, daily drone strikes and bombings and Bill Clinton’s White House sex scandals giving salacious birth to Special Prosecutors . . .

In this historic transformation, American political culture put on a new face: perpetual wars, Wall Street swindles and Washington scandals. It culminated in the farcical Hillary Clinton – Donald Trump presidential election campaign: the war goddess-cuckquean of chaos versus the crotch-grabbing real-estate conman.

The public heard Secretary of State Clinton’s maniacal laugh upon her viewing the ‘snuff-film’ torture and slaughter of the wounded Libya’s President Gadhafi: She crowed: ‘We came, we saw…and he died’ with a sword up his backside. This defined the Clinton doctrine in foreign affairs, while slaughter of the welfare state and the bloated prison industry would define her domestic agenda.

Trump’s presidential election campaign went about the country pleasuring the business and finance elite (promises of tax cuts, deregulations, re-contamination and jacking up the earth’s temperature with a handful of jobs), and successfully pushed aside the outrage over his crude rump grabbing boasts.

Wars, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood all gathered to set the parameters of the United States’ political economy: The chase was on!

The Clinton sleuths uncovered an army of Russian conspirators running Trump’s electoral campaign, writing his speeches, typing his ‘Tweets’, designing his tactics and successfully directing the votes of millions of duped ‘deplorables’ – the rural and rust-belt poor.

The entire media world auto-pleasured their friends and allies with the Trump Administration’s political strip tease, shedding appointees, dumping nominees and misdirecting policies with a string of revelations. According to dubious anecdotes, the Special Prosecutor uncovered Russian conspiracies to enlist Salvation Army bell ringers and Washington lobbyists. The ‘deplorables’ meanwhile tuned out in disgust.

Trump retaliated with midnight Tweets and appointed a clutch of retired Generals, who had been battle-seasoned in Obama’s seven losing wars and even found a loudmouth South Carolina belle to evoke visions of mushroom clouds in the United Nations. Naturally, there was the coterie of Zionist advisers from the ‘think tanks’ and from his own family working double time to set US-Middle East policy on the road to new wars.

Trump’s Generals and Zionists on the one hand and the Democrats, liberals, anti-fascists and leftists formed the ‘resistance’ and fought fiercely for freedom: Freedom to direct the state to censor alternative news or informed discussion debunking the canard about Russian meddling, exposing Ukraine’s land grabs, proving Iran’s compliance to the nuclear deal and Tel Aviv’s baseless warnings about Tehran. Bolstered by the President’s Chief Advisor Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, the Saudi Crown Prince was praised for kidnapping the Lebanese Prime Minister and forcing his resignation. Everyday there was a new scandal, conspiracy upon conspiracy and, of course, fake news blaring out from all sides of corporate media and NPR.

The threat of war spreads across the Middle East: How many families would the unholy trinity of Saudi Arabia-US-Israel slaughter, starve or incarcerate in Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? Drowned out by domestic scandals and conspiracies – this carnage did not happen – in the news. While scores of thousands in Yemen suffered from cholera amidst a brutal Saudi blockade, The Washington Post – NY Times CBS-NBC-ABC published the same front-page photo of Trump’s clumsy handshake at the APEC Conference. At least, the trillion-dollar corporate-oligarch tax cut merited a jolly Tweet from the Donald.

The Big Shakedown is all about the swindles and the sex designed to keep Wall Street safe, the Pentagon at war and the public distracted.

Conclusion


Three countries are shaking the world in different directions:

In Saudi Arabia, MBS is engaged in a region-shattering shakedown, picking the pockets of Princes for a trillion dollars of unearned and pilfered oil rents to finance more cholera, starvation and mass murder in Yemen and beyond.

Through China, there is a Eurasian ‘shakeup’ as Beijing expands modern Silk-Roads everywhere and with everyone to connect markets, develop supply chains and increase prosperity at home and among its trade partners.

And the US just shakes . . . and trembles as its leaders rush to further enrich the ultra-rich, conspire to uncover conspiracies upon plot, scandalize the scandalmongers and tell us that freedom really means the freedom to expose and gnaw over the sordid acts of petty perverts while hiding much greater truths and reality. Official truth has become a stinking mound of offal.

One can only hope for a great ‘shaking off’. 



James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. https://petras.lahaine.org

Friday, December 08, 2017

From Strength to Weakness: Russia Brokers End of Syria War, While Washington Fades into Background

Mideast Peacemaking is No Longer Made-in-America

by Sharmine Narwani - The American Conservative


December 8, 2017

The U.S. lost the military gamble in Syria; now it appears to be ceding its diplomatic edge, too.

As 2017 comes to a close, the warring parties in Syria are moving towards reconciliation—but the U.S. is not among them. The Islamic State is all but defeated, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are now closing in on the few remaining pockets occupied by other extremists, and Iranians, Russians, and Turks are mapping out the peace to come.


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L),
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R)
shake hands prior to the Syria talks in Sochi.
Credit: CreartiveCommons/www.kremlin.ru.

Then there’s America. Donald Trump may have hinted at changes up his sleeve, but he’s treading the same tired path as his predecessor on Syria.

Determined to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a means to weaken Iran and re-establish U.S. regional hegemony, Barack Obama’s White House placed its bets on two pathways to this goal: 1) a military strategy to wrest control over Syria from the regime, and 2) a UN-sponsored and U.S.-backed mediation in Geneva to transition Assad out.

Washington lost its military gamble when the Russian air force entered the battle in September 2015, providing both game-changing air cover and international clout to Assad’s efforts.

So the U.S. turned its hand to resuscitating a limp Geneva peace process that might have delivered a Syrian political settlement sans Assad.

Instead, two years on, the tables have turned in this sphere, too. Today, it is the Iranians, Turks, and Russians leading reconciliation efforts in Syria through a process established in Astana and continued last week in Sochi—not Geneva. The three states have transformed the ground war by isolating key extremists, carving out ceasefire zones, and negotiating deals to keep the peace.

To nobody’s surprise, the Americans are neither part of this new initiative, nor have they offered any constructive counters. Meanwhile, the UN’s Geneva framework, after eight rounds of talks, has not once been able to bring the two Syrian sides face-to-face at the Big Table.

To illustrate, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who leads these talks, now says things like this with a straight face: “We have started very close proximity parallel meetings. In fact, I have been shuttling between two rooms at a distance of five meters from each other.”

In short, the U.S.’s Syrian efforts have hit a brick wall, while new regional and international power brokers have stepped in to pick up the slack.

Geneva: A process designed to fail


Just one week ago, with great media fanfare, we were promised a fresh start and new twists in Syria. For the first time since the Geneva I conference launched in June 2012, we were told the opposition was “unified” and there were no “pre-conditions” that might hold up talks.

Those expectations were shattered almost immediately when various Syrian opposition members went off-message and insisted that “Assad must go” at some point during a future transition period. Unified they were not. And the Syrian government didn’t hide their disgust. They arrived a day late and scurried back to Damascus just as quickly.

And here is why Geneva negotiations will never, ever get off the ground.

Firstly, the “Syrian opposition” do not actually represent “the Syrian people.” Most of these individuals have been selected by foreign governments—until recently, mainly by U.S. allies in Riyadh, Doha, Ankara—to do their bidding in Geneva, and have been “elected” by no more than a few dozen other Syrians in foreign capitals.

UN envoy de Mistura didn’t bother to hide that fact last week when he thanked the Saudis for facilitating “the establishment of a unified opposition delegation.”

The UN-led process—like the U.S. administration—has created conditions that exclude Syria’s more independent and nationalistic domestic opposition from negotiations. These are people who have largely rejected foreign intervention and the militarization of the conflict, rail against Western-imposed sanctions, and signal actual readiness to talk to Assad’s government about the reforms they desire.

The Russians and Iranians have kept open channels to these individuals and groups, and many of them have beaten a path to Moscow over the years to strike compromises and seek solutions. A few even made the cut, for the first time, at this eighth round of Geneva talks.

Secondly, the Syrian opposition have lost the war—victors decide the peace, not the vanquished. The team sitting in Geneva seems oblivious to the fact that the Syrian government and its allies have now gained an almost-irreversible military advantage on the battlefield. These are not two parties on equal footing—and no great-power mentors in the world can change that fact.

Assad’s government has said on numerous occasions that it is willing to sit with any Syrian who comes without preconditions and negotiates in good faith. Years of “reconciliations” on the ground between the government, local citizens, NGOs, friendly foreign state-guarantors, and rebel fighters lend a proven track record to those claims. This is the format for future negotiations—it is a tested, homegrown Syrian solution, not one made-in-America-or-Riyadh.

“Ceasefires” struck in Astana


The breakthrough came in late 2016. Turkey, the main adversary state through which weapons and jihadists flowed into Syria, made a U-turn on its Syria strategy, driven by U.S. military support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which Ankara views as a national security threat. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a tactical engagement with Russia and Iran, and pulled Qatar and its respective Syrian rebel allies along with him. These moves tipped the balance on the battlefield, allowing the SAA and its allies to liberate Aleppo (a turning point in the war) and launch their ultimately successful campaign against ISIS.

Shortly afterward, delegations consisting of the Syrian government and a dozen opposition rebel factions convened in Astana, Kazakhstan, for indirect talks sponsored by Turkey, Iran, and Russia.

By early May, the three countries had signed a memorandum to establish four “de-escalation zones” in rebel-occupied areas in Syria. The zones cover key hotspots in northern Homs, southern Syria, eastern Ghouta, and Idlib province, and are renewable at six-month intervals. While some armed groups have rejected the concept, the de-escalation zones have largely succeeded at halting hostilities and, importantly, have helped create separation between extremists and rebels willing to participate in ceasefires.

Furthermore, for the more than two million people believed to reside in these zones, the Astana process also guarantees humanitarian and medical access, the return of displaced persons to their towns and homes, the reconstruction of vital infrastructure, and other benefits.

In July, the U.S. and Jordan joined Russia to broker the details of the southern Syrian de-escalation zone, with a joint command established in Jordan. And in September, Iran, Russia, and Turkey agreed to implement the fourth and final de-escalation zone in Idlib, a stronghold of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra terrorist group.

In short, within eight months, four key areas of Syria demilitarized under the watch of three countries: Turkey, a major supporter of Syrian opposition militants, and Iran and Russia, both close allies of the Syrian government.

A “political solution” in Sochi next?


Ceasefires are, incidentally, one of the two primary objectives of the Geneva process. They are the military part of a Syrian solution.

The other objective is the political settlement of the Syrian conflict, envisioned by Geneva’s architects as the establishment of a transitional government that would generate a revised constitution, prepare elections, and the like.

Last week, on the eve of Geneva-8, the three Astana sponsors convened in Sochi after an unexpected meeting there between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin that appeared to signal an official Syrian approval for what came next.

In a joint statement, the presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey called for a “Syrian National Dialogue Congress” to be held in Sochi in the near future, consisting of the Syrian government and “the opposition that are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-fractional character of the Syrian state.”

While they were careful to point out that the initiative is intended to “complement” Geneva, not act as an “alternative,” the statement also made clear that “Iran, Russia and Turkey will consult and agree on participants of the Congress.”

Will this be another rubber-stamped opposition directed by foreign mentors? An informed source says no, “any Syrian who does not exclude him or herself can participate.”

It is highly likely that hardliners and extremists will exclude themselves from the Sochi talks—they have consistently rejected direct interactions with the Syrian government and will never accept a future with Assad at the helm. Instead, Sochi is likely to draw interest from a larger cross-section of Syrian society closer to the views of Syria’s traditional domestic opposition, who were never given a chance in Geneva.

In the end, it is altogether conceivable that a final Syrian political solution will look very similar to the reforms Assad offered up in 2011 and 2012. His proposals were never given the time or space to mature and were, at the time, rejected outright by foreign governments and their Syrian allies.

But most importantly, if Sochi can finish what Geneva could never start, we will be thrust into a genuine post-American era where alternative regional actors will be able to broker globally significant peace deals.

The resolution of a conflict of this magnitude largely outside the umbrella of a UN- or U.S.-led framework breaks with the assumption that major geopolitical solutions need be made-in-America.

The most common refrain in a disgruntled Middle East today is that “Americans don’t solve conflicts, they manage them.”

Trump this week forever dispelled the notion that America is an honest mediator in Middle East peace efforts when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is not surprising that the Saudis, Jordanians, Qataris, Sudanese, Egyptians, and others are now beating a path to Moscow for some fresh thinking.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics based in Beirut.

Disgrace: The Unlamented Demise and Departure of Frankenfingers

Franken Goes Down

by Manuel Garcia Jr. - Dissident Voice


December 8th, 2017

I find Al Franken’s greatest transgression to be his vote as a superdelegate (in the Dems’ July 2016 national convention) for H. Clinton (and thus for Wall Street and the neocons), instead of Bernie Sanders, who was favored by the voters of Franken’s state (Minnesota) in their Democratic Primary. When questioned about it he arrogantly stated that he knew better than the voters he was supposed to represent.

This was an anti-democratic transgression, a misuse of power he had over the regular citizens.

Entertaining troops (during the Iraq War) and pontificating over the radio waves (on Air America) could be transgressions against the public interest, in the sense of propaganda: efforts to influence the decisions of actual policymakers (pro Iraq War), and to influence support for those policies by a duped public. But, his collusion in Hillary’s anti-democratic, pro-corporate, anti-Bernie scheme was by use of actual political power, a procedural power he had because of his government office (senator, thus a Dem superdelegate).

That and his evident careerism evaporated any interest and sympathy I might have had for him.

I’m sure the Dems are dumping Franken solely out of concern to keep him from contaminating them with the “masher plague” now being so vociferously attacked by the #metoo crusaders. Aside from the usual cover-your-ass concern of any political hack, part of the Dems publicly moral indignation against surreptitious male sexist exploitation is undoubtedly an emotional outlet for the disappointed Hillary cultists who didn’t get their “first female president,” as well as a tactic by the party managers to maintain a sharply contrasting image for the Dem Party from that of the Republican Party, which is poised to elect an open pedophile to the Senate, from Alabama: Roy Moore, a real positive showcase for Southern hospitality and charm!

Even if Franken is replaced by a Republican, it won’t matter much since the Dems are in the minority anyway. The Democrats can never outdo the Republicans for being Neo-Nazi, Klanner, sexist (against women), homophobic, and pedophile-friendly, so the Dems will never gain political majorities by aping the Republicans in the appeal to the bigot legions. So, they will make a show of being “inclusive” and of displaying a moralistic politically correct intolerance, to attract the audiences repelled by the Republicans’ flagrant lack of morals.


Clearly, for both major parties, power is everything, and neither is concerned about appearing either “moral” or abysmally crude and base, if such a display helps them accumulate power by getting their partisans into political office.

Hillary never had a problem with defending Bill’s sexual predations (and persecuting his sexual victims), and winking at the exploits of Bill’s pervy pals (like Jeremy Epstein, and Donald Trump), nor hanging out with Harvey Weinstein, so long as the money came in to her “campaign fund;” and about 99% of the Republicans are now salivating on the floor in anticipation of Roy Moore swinging his dick around the Malls of Washington, D.C., and helping them gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, so as to further punish the poor for being impoverished, and increase the ranks of the impoverished in order to satisfy the insatiable greed of the wealth-obsessed.

If the Dems had a one vote majority in the Senate I’ll bet Franken would have been scolded, sent to a plush rehab center for a month, and then declared rehabilitated and fit for duty. Power, money, career, with focus on one, and loyalty to none.

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is an occasional writer who is always independent. His e-mail address is: mangogarcia@att.net.
Read other articles by Manuel, or visit Manuel's website.

The previous comments were prompted by the following: Al Franken (comments on his resignation from the Senate) by William Blum

Ultimately, US Embassy Move Is About Palestinian Displacement

Unlike US Embassy, Palestinians Will Not Be Moved

by TRNN


December 7, 2017

As protests erupt over the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti says Trump and Netanyahu won't succeed in displacing Palestinians from their homeland.



Mustafa Barghouti was born in Jerusalem, 1954. He is a leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, founded in 2002 and a member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former Minister of Information, unity government, March-June 2007. 

War By Other Memes: America's South Korean Sports Front

War Against Russia on the South Korean Front

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


December 8, 2017

Moscow - Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th century German soldier and military strategist, famously remarked that war is the continuation of policy (politics) by other means.

By war, von Clausewitz meant the old-fashioned idea of running people through or making them run away, so they give up their territory, treasure, and women. By war these days there are fresh ways of running people through and grabbing treasure and women. There’s cyber warfare, which strikes at the enemy’s minds, not their bodies; sanctions, which are the modern form of siege warfare, starving the enemy of cash for food; and sports warfare, which means killing the most popular entertainment in the world. Olympic Games and World Cup football have replaced rape and rapine of olden times, at least in countries which regard themselves as civilized.

Since the US has been at war with Russia from 2014, the military junta in Washington has lost its campaign on the Syrian front. On the Ukraine front it has been so bogged down that Kiev has lost more treasure than it can hope to recover in a generation, or two. The US is also losing its military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. The escalation of military operations and sanctions war on the Korean front has achieved no American policy goals. Quite the opposite.

The first US sports war targeted the Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014 – and that failed. The second sports war will be to disrupt the World Cup football, due in Russia between June 14 and July 15. The third offensive is the ban on the Russian team participating under their national flag at the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang (pronounce “pong-chung”), South Korea. This ban, which also excludes officials of the state sports administration, was announced by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on December 5.

Read the OC announcement here. For the evidence on which the IOC Executive Board says it based its ban, click to open.

Since the Korean Winter Games are scheduled for February 9 to 25 next, the political impact in Russia will come before the World Cup. It will also come before the Russian presidential election, due on March 18. The Russian evidence indicates the IOC ban will backfire. The only Russian opinion poll to have been reported so far – a nationwide survey done on November 25-26, just before the IOC announcement — found that more half the population believes there has been a state programme for doping in sports; roughly equal numbers believe the government has done enough to stop it as believe that not enough has been done. But the popular Russian reaction to the IOC ban is as political as the ban itself. Almost 60% of Russians say they think Russian athletes should not compete without the Russian flag. For a summary, read this. For the detailed questions and answers, click.

Russian public opinion, like the views reported in the press from Russian Olympic athletes, believes that Russia has been singled out by the US and its European allies. They believe state doping programmes are conducted by other governments, including China. In the US Russians think that government support for sports is paid through universities, working hand in hand with the big corporations and media networks which pay for programmes of performance enhancement.

The IOC claims that it, “is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.4 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.”

In fact, and in the belief of most Russians, the IOC directs a multi-billion dollar business whose management is dominated by Americans and Europeans. That management operates in secret. So when the IOC board voted for the Russian ban at Pyeongchang, the discussion of the evidence, and of fitting the punishment to the crime, was conducted behind closed doors. The voting has been concealed.

Putin’s reaction to the Tuesday announcement from the IOC was to turn von Clausewitz on his head by playing politics as the continuation of war by other means.


Left: President Putin speaking on December 6 to workers at GAZ, 
a property owned by Oleg Deripaska. Right, General von Clausewitz.

Speaking to a meeting of autoworkers at their factory in Nizhny Novgorod, Putin said of the IOC ban:

“All of this looks like an absolutely staged and politically motivated decision. We can see it, and for me there is no doubt about it. We will certainly not declare any boycott. We will not prevent our Olympians from competing if they want to take part as individuals.” 

He means the Russian television audience will be able to watch the traditional Russian dominance of winter sports minus the national anthem and the flag.

The South Korean Government also issued a statement yesterday to mitigate the impact of the IOC decision by inviting Russian athletes to participate. “South Korea has called on Russian athletes to participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag,” the state media reported from an announcement by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Seoul. The Ministry added that the Games should “be a good opportunity to further strengthen the traditional friendly relations between South Korea and Russia…We urge to take an active part [in the Games] athletes in winter sports from all over the world, including the Russian athletes.”

The IOC has also been re-examining doping control tests of Russian medal winners at Sochi. The focus has been less on finding evidence of banned performance-enhancing substances as evidence of tampering with doping control tests. The offences alleged against the Russians include raising salt levels to alter urine composition results, and scratches on the inside of urine sample bottles to indicate tampering. Through last month, a total of 11 Russian medals have been cancelled and their winners banned from future competitions. In the original Sochi results table, Russia ranked fourth after Norway, Canada and the US. Following the latest IOC disqualifications, Russia has dropped to seventh, equal with Switzerland.




The IOC’s proposal that Russians can still compete at the Korean games is a qualified one. According to the IOC announcement, “the IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list.” Exclusion of individual Russian athletes from the invitation list will not be explained, nor will those excluded have the right to examine the evidence against them, test it in court, or appeal.


The IOC Executive Board reported its decision against Russia here
The organization does not report how the members present at the 
December 5 session voted.

The 14 members of the IOC Executive Board are listed here. There are two Americans; five representing NATO member states, six if the Aruba member is regarded as a substitute for The Netherlands, the former colonial ruler of the Caribbean island. Counting the representatives from Singapore, Guatemala and Ukraine as members of US military defence and arms supply pacts, and the two Swiss and one Swede as representing countries taking Kiev’s side in the present war against Moscow, the IOC board is stacked 12 to 2 against Russia – 12 to 1 if Fiji follows US direction, as it usually does.

EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

The board members are also not obliged to pass bodily samples into sealed bottles in order be tested for political prejudice. Instead, they announced that they voted in reliance on a report by former Swiss President Samuel Schmid. Schmid makes the claim that his investigation of the Russians provided the athletes and state officials with “due process”. In fact, he concedes “it was decided to reverse the rule of ‘presumption of innocence’ for the Russian athletes.” That meant they were obliged to prove to the IOC they were not guilty of doping or tampering offences.

The evidence accepted by the IOC including computer simulations of sample tampering, as well as hearsay reported in the press. The report of one of the IOC’s expert consultants, Richard McLaren, was qualified in the Schmid report as not “evidence of a level [of] being able to stand legal challenges in Court.”


Left, Samuel Schmid; right, Richard McClaren.

According to Schmid, his group “has no investigation power similar to the one of the Law Enforcement Agencies. Thus it is dependent on the information available in the public domain, the elements published by the IP [Independent Person appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Richard McClaren] and the information shared voluntarily by the persons concerned.”

The most important of these “persons concerned” was Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of a Moscow testing laboratory, who defected to the US in November 2015, and has been testifying as a salaried US Government source in a witness protection programme operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Most of the email evidence on which Schmid relied for substantiating Russian government participation in the doping programmes came from emails Rodchenkov provided from his computer.

Rodchenkov’s importance was identified by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report issued in November 2015. Repeated in the Schmid report, when it was handed to the IOC Executive Board this month, WADA said “one of the major actors identified was Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the Moscow Laboratory; he was at the heart of doping activities and of the positive drug tests cover-up; he had direct access within the Ministry of Sport to request funds for the laboratory equipment. The [WADA] Report showed that in his position he was not only accepting but also requesting money in order to execute the concealment of positive tests of Russian athletics athletes.”

A year after he became a US Government informant, Rodchenkov was reported in the New York Times as making detailed allegations of doping and doping concealment by the Russian government.


Grigory Rodchenkov in the New York Times, May 12, 2016:  

The newspaper reported that after Rodchenkov had been named as culpable in doping by the WADA report of November 2015,

“Russian officials forced him to resign. Fearing for his safety, he moved to Los Angeles…In his six months in Los Angeles, Dr. Rodchenkov has taken on a more active role in that documentary, ‘Icarus,’ to be released in September. He has otherwise spent his time gardening, making borscht and writing in his diary. Reflecting on his career, he said he was unapologetic about his role in Russia’s doping program, considering it a condition of his employment. To receive funding and support for his lab, he said, he had to do the Kremlin’s bidding.”

There was no reference by the New York Times to US Government payments to Rodchenkov, or to his place in the FBI’s witness protection programme.

According to the Schmid report, on May 19, 2016, WADA appointed “Prof Richard McClaren as an Independent Person (IP) to analyse these new [New York Times] allegations, as well as the evidence provided by Dr Grigory Rodchenkov.” McClaren is a Canadian law professor. Russian prosecutors later reported their investigations did not substantiate McClaren’s and Rodchenkov’s claims.

The Schmid report quoted Putin as saying in March of this year:

“In Russia there has never been, and, I hope, will never be a State-doping support system. On the contrary, there will only be anti-doping actions.” 


Schmid reported that Putin had also said “our anti-doping system failed, it is our fault, and we should admit it.” Schmid conceded that his recommendations to the IOC board followed after the Kremlin-ordered clean-up of the state sports administration was well under way.

The IOC has acted several times in the past to ban countries from sending teams to the Olympic Games; for this history, click to read. The extent to which Russia has been the target of anti-doping investigations in the past three years is unprecedented, however. No other country has been investigated to the same extent, and no other country charged with state-supported doping violations and manipulation of test results. Without the defection of Rodchenkov to the US, this would not have been possible. No comparable defector from another country has turned up.


“We must come right out and say that we’re partly to blame here, because we gave them the pretext for this,” Putin admitted this week, addressing the IOC ban.

But the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, he added. The IOC had “used this pretext in not the most honest way [because] no legal system in the world practices collective punishment.”

In the State Duma, a Communist Party deputy announced that he has filed suit in a Moscow court charging Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sports, Vitaly Mutko (above), for failing in his duties.

Russian analysis of corruption in sports has followed western investigations of the ballooning of costs for the Olympic Games, the largest of which, so far, has been the Sochi Winter Games of February 2014.




According to the Russian interpretations, and also to reports from Greece, the financial incentives driving the selection of Olympics Games sites and the doping programmes to assure victory in events started with the US Government’s efforts to assure that Atlanta won the Summer Games of 1996. The money spent on the Atlanta bid, led by the Coca Cola corporation, prevented Greece from hosting the centennial Olympic Games, as it had the first Games in 1896. At the time of the contest for IOC votes, the US Government was also aiming to topple the Greek government of Andreas Papandreou.

For more discussion of the politics behind the IOC ban, listen to today’s (Dec. 7, 2017) interview on Gorilla Radio from Victoria, British Columbia, here.



Gorilla Radio is broadcast every Thursday by Chris Cook on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The radio station can be heard here. The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published by the Pacific Free Press. For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Municipal Networks Point Way to Connectivity Paradise

Net Neutrality is just for starters: municipal networks are the path to paradise: North Carolina's Gigabit City

by Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing.net


November 29, 2017

We just bought a house here in Burbank and I was delighted to learn that my new home office -- part of a business incorporated in the state of California -- would be sitting directly on one of the scorching-fast fiber optic lines that the city of Burbank maintains to wire up Disney, Warner's and the other major businesses in town.

Finally, an end to my long nightmare of slow, balky internet from Charter/Spectrum, my local cable monopolist!

Then I called up the city and my dreams were smashed. The city's agreement with the cable monopoly prohibits them from connecting me to that fat, gigabit pipe, because my incorporated business is sited in a property that is zoned for residential use, and every residence in Burbank has four internet choices: Charter, AT&T, wireless, or two Dixie cups and a piece of string.

Writing in Wired, Net Neutrality superhero Susan Crawford tells the tale of those rare, Utopic American towns where the city government has not sold the populace's digital future to an incumbent. Towns like Wilson, North Carolina, where the city's fiber system offers symmetrical 50mbps service for $40/month. If you move to a house that's not currently on the fiber loop, the city pulls a piece of fiber to you.

Wilson's network is available to all comers. If you have bad credit or no credit, you just leave $10 on deposit and they'll give you access for $1.15/day. To unlimited, unfiltered, 50mbps service. People who live in housing projects get their service for $10/month. 50mbps, symmetrical.

To sign up, you make a phone call. To switch plans, you call the same automated system. No hard sells, no upsells, no legendary "Comcast customer service excellence."

Wilson did this to make life easier for new customers, or for customers who want to avoid signing up for a full month of service.

“It removes barriers to access and puts the customer in control,” says Will Aycock, the manager of Wilson’s Greenlight fiber service. 

The $1.15 is the prorated, per-day amount for Wilson’s regular monthly service—$39.95 for internet access alone. No data caps. When I asked Aycock why other internet access companies don’t provide an equivalent product, he was stumped. “I have no idea,” he said.

Wilson’s prepay program isn’t the only step Wilson has taken to reach more of its citizens with fiber. Though the city’s Greenlight fiber service is already connected to about 40 percent of the units in the town, it hasn’t—like the unregulated private fiber providers in the US—decided to deny fiber to some parts of the city. If you move to a place in Wilson that doesn’t have fiber, all you have to do is call and ask for service. Greenlight will install it for you for free.

Even more dramatically, if you’re in public housing or an apartment building in Wilson, in exchange for $10 per month added to your rent check you can get 50 Mbps symmetrical fiber internet access service. Wilson does this because it is in the city’s interest to provide service to the most people it can at the most reasonable cost. And about 50 percent of public housing residents are signing up.

AJIT PAI'S SHELL GAME [Susan Crawford/Wired]

Cold War II: Still Chilly After All These Years

Cold War Number One: 70 Years of Daily National Stupidity; Cold War Number Two: Still in Its Youth, But Just as Stupid

by William Blum - CounterPunch

 
December 7, 2017  

“He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
– President Trump, re Vladimir Putin after their meeting in Vietnam. 



Putin later added that he knew “absolutely nothing” about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials. “They can do what they want, looking for some sensation. But there are no sensations.”

Numerous US intelligence agencies have said otherwise. Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, responded to Trump’s remarks by declaring:

“The president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election.”

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

As we’ll see below, there isn’t too much of the “clear and indisputable” stuff. And this of course is the same James Clapper who made an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir” and “not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. Lies don’t usually come in any size larger than that.

Virtually every member of Congress who has publicly stated a position on the issue has criticized Russia for interfering in the 2016 American presidential election. And it would be very difficult to find a member of the mainstream media which has questioned this thesis.

What is the poor consumer of news to make of these gross contradictions? Here are some things to keep in mind:

How do we know that the tweets and advertisements “sent by Russians” -– those presented as attempts to sway the vote -– were actually sent by Russians? The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), composed of National Security Agency and CIA veterans, recently declared that the CIA knows how to disguise the origin of emails and tweets. The Washington Post has as well reported that Twitter “makes it easy for users to hide their true identities.” Even if these communications were actually sent from Russia, how do we know that they came from the Russian government, and not from any of the other 144.3 million residents of Russia?

Even if they were sent by the Russian government, we have to ask: Why would they do that? Do the Russians think the United States is a Third World, under-developed, backward Banana Republic easily influenced and moved by a bunch of simple condemnations of the plight of blacks in America and the Clinton “dynasty”? Or clichéd statements about other controversial issues, such as gun rights and immigration? If so, many Democratic and Republican officials would love to know the secret of the Russians’ method. Consider also that Facebook has stated that 90 percent of the alleged-Russian-bought content that ran on its network did not even mention Trump or Clinton.

On top of all this is the complete absence of even the charge, much less with any supporting evidence, of Russian interference in the actual voting or counting of votes.

After his remark suggesting he believed Putin’s assertion that there had been no Russian meddling in the election, Trump – of course, as usual – attempted to backtrack and distant himself from his words after drawing criticism at home; while James Clapper declared:

“The fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable.”

Given Clapper’s large-size lie referred to above, can Trump be faulted for being skeptical of the intelligence community’s Holy Writ? Purposeful lies of the intelligence community during the first Cold War were legendary, many hailed as brilliant tactics when later revealed. The CIA, for example, had phony articles and editorials planted in foreign newspapers (real Fake News), made sex films of target subjects caught in flagrante delicto who had been lured to Agency safe houses by female agents, had Communist embassy personnel expelled because of phony CIA documents, and much more.

The Post recently published an article entitled “How did Russian trolls get into your Facebook feed? Silicon Valley made it easy.” In the midst of this “exposé,” The Post stated: “There’s no way to tell if you personally saw a Russian post or tweet.” So … Do the Cold Warriors have a case to make or do they not? Or do they just want us to remember that the Russkis are bad? So it goes.

An organization in Czechoslovakia with the self-appointed name of European Values has produced a lengthy report entitled “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact”. It includes a long list of people who have appeared on the Russian-owned TV station RT (formerly Russia Today), which can be seen in the US, the UK and other countries. Those who’ve been guests on RT are the “idiots” useful to Moscow. (The list is not complete. I’ve been on RT about five times, but I’m not listed. Where is my Idiot Badge?)

RT’s YouTube channel has more than two million followers and claims to be the “most-watched news network” on the video site. Its Facebook page has more than 4 million likes and followers. Can this explain why the powers-that-be forget about a thing called freedom-of-speech and treat the station like an enemy? The US government recently forced RT America to register as a foreign agent and has cut off the station’s Congressional press credentials.

The Cold War strategist, George Kennan, wrote prophetically:

“Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

Writer John Wight has described the new Cold War as being “in response to Russia’s recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the failed attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter.”

So let’s see what other brilliance the New Cold War brings us. … Ah yes, another headline in the Post (November 18, 2017):

“British alarm rising over possible Russian meddling in Brexit”.
Of course, why else would the British people have voted to leave the European Union? But wait a moment, again, one of the British researchers behind the report “said that the accounts they analyzed – which claimed Russian as their language when they were set up but tweeted in English – posted a mixture of pro-‘leave’ and pro-‘remain’ messages regarding Brexit. Commentators have said that the goal may simply have been to sow discord and division in society.”

Was there ever a time when the Post would have been embarrassed to be so openly, amateurishly biased about Russia? Perhaps during the few years between the two Cold Wars.

In case you don’t remember how stupid Cold War Number One was …

+ 1948: ThePittsburgh Press published the names, addresses, and places of employment of about 1,000 citizens who had signed presidential-nominating petitions for former Vice President Henry Wallace, running under the Progressive Party. This, and a number of other lists of “communists”, published in the mainstream media, resulted in people losing their jobs, being expelled from unions, having their children abused, being denied state welfare benefits, and suffering various other punishments.

+ Around 1950: The House Committee on Un-American Activities published a pamphlet, “100 Things You Should Know About Communism in the U.S.A.” This included information about what a communist takeover of the United States would mean:

Q: What would happen to my insurance?

A: It would go to the Communists.

Q: Would communism give me something better than I have now?

A: Not unless you are in a penitentiary serving a life sentence at hard labor.

+ 1950s: Mrs. Ada White, member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, believed that Robin Hood was a Communist and urged that books that told the Robin Hood story be banned from Indiana schools.

+ As evidence that anti-communist mania was not limited to the lunatic fringe or conservative newspaper publishers, here is Clark Kerr, president of the University of California at Berkeley in a 1959 speech: “Perhaps 2 or even 20 million people have been killed in China by the new [communist] regime.” One person wrote to Kerr: “I am wondering how you would judge a person who estimates the age of a passerby on the street as being ‘perhaps 2 or even 20 years old.’ Or what would you think of a physician who tells you to take ‘perhaps 2 or even twenty teaspoonsful of a remedy’?”

+ Throughout the cold war, traffic in phony Lenin quotes was brisk, each one passed around from one publication or speaker to another for years. Here’s U. S. News and World Report in 1958 demonstrating communist duplicity by quoting Lenin: “Promises are like pie crusts, made to be broken.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles used it in a speech shortly afterward, one of many to do so during the cold war. Lenin actually did use a very similar line, but he explicitly stated that he was quoting an English proverb (it comes from Jonathan Swift) and his purpose was to show the unreliability of the bourgeoisie, not of communists.

“First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia, then we will encircle the United States, which will be the last bastion of capitalism. We will not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.”  

This Lenin “quotation” had the usual wide circulation, even winding up in the Congressional Record in 1962. This was not simply a careless attribution; this was an out-and-out fabrication; an extensive search, including by the Library of Congress and the United States Information Agency failed to find its origin.

+ A favorite theme of the anti-communists was that a principal force behind drug trafficking was a communist plot to demoralize the United States. Here’s a small sample:

Don Keller, District Attorney for San Diego County, California in 1953: “We know that more heroin is being produced south of the border than ever before and we are beginning to hear stories of financial backing by big shot Communists operating out of Mexico City.”

Henry Giordano, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1964, interviewed in the American

Legion Magazine: Interviewer: “I’ve been told that the communists are trying to flood our country with narcotics to weaken our moral and physical stamina. Is that true?”

Giordano: “As far as the drugs are concerned, it’s true. There’s a terrific flow of drugs coming out of Yunnan Province of China. … There’s no question that in that particular area this is the aim of the Red Chinese. It should be apparent that if you could addict a population you would degrade a nation’s moral fiber.”

Fulton Lewis, Jr., prominent conservative radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, 1965: “Narcotics of Cuban origin – marijuana, cocaine, opium, and heroin – are now peddled in big cities and tiny hamlets throughout this country. Several Cubans arrested by the Los Angeles police have boasted they are communists.”

We were also told that along with drugs another tool of the commies to undermine America’s spirit was fluoridation of the water.

+ Mickey Spillane was one of the most successful writers of the 1950s, selling millions of his anti-communist thriller mysteries. Here is his hero, Mike Hammer, in “One Lonely Night”, boasting of his delight in the grisly murders he commits, all in the name of destroying a communist plot to steal atomic secrets. After a night of carnage, the triumphant Hammer gloats, “I shot them in cold blood and enjoyed every minute of it. I pumped slugs into the nastiest bunch of bastards you ever saw. … They were Commies. … Pretty soon what’s left of Russia and the slime that breeds there won’t be worth mentioning and I’m glad because I had a part in the killing. God, but it was fun!”

+ 1952: A campaign against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because it was tainted with “atheism and communism”, and was “subversive” because it preached internationalism. Any attempt to introduce an international point of view in the schools was seen as undermining patriotism and loyalty to the United States. A bill in the US Senate, clearly aimed at UNESCO, called for a ban on the funding of “any international agency that directly or indirectly promoted one-world government or world citizenship.” There was also opposition to UNESCO’s association with the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it was trying to replace the American Bill of Rights with a less liberty-giving covenant of human rights.

+ 1955: A US Army 6-page pamphlet, “How to Spot a Communist”, informed us that a communist could be spotted by his predisposition to discuss civil rights, racial and religious discrimination, the immigration laws, anti-subversive legislation, curbs on unions, and peace. Good Americans were advised to keep their ears stretched for such give-away terms as “chauvinism”, “book-burning”, “colonialism”, “demagogy”, “witch hunt”, “reactionary”, “progressive”, and “exploitation”. Another “distinguishing mark” of “Communist language” was a “preference for long sentences.” After some ridicule, the Army rescinded the pamphlet.

+ 1958: The noted sportscaster Bill Stern (one of the heroes of my innocent youth) observed on the radio that the lack of interest in “big time” football at New York University, City College of New York, Chicago, and Harvard “is due to the widespread acceptance of Communism at the universities.”

+ 1960: US General Thomas Power speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is tokill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”

+ 1966: The Boys Club of America is of course wholesome and patriotic. Imagine their horror when they were confused with the Dubois Clubs. (W.E.B. Du Bois had been a very prominent civil rights activist.) When the Justice Department required the DuBois Clubs to register as a Communist front group, good loyal Americans knew what to do. They called up the Boys Club to announce that they would no longer contribute any money, or to threaten violence against them; and sure enough an explosion damaged the national headquarters of the youth group in San Francisco. Then former Vice President Richard Nixon, who was national board chairman of the Boys Club, declared: “This is an almost classic example of Communist deception and duplicity. The ‘DuBois Clubs’ are not unaware of the confusion they are causing among our supporters and among many other good citizens.”

+ 1966: “Rhythm, Riots and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, The Communist Master Music Plan”, by David A. Noebel, published by Christian Crusade Publications, (expanded version of 1965 pamphlet: “Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles”). Some chapters: Communist Use of Mind Warfare … Nature of Red Record Companies … Destructive Nature of Beatle Music … Communist Subversion of Folk Music … Folk Music and the Negro Revolution … Folk Music and the College Revolution

+ 1968: William Calley, US Army Lieutenant, charged with overseeing the massacre of more than 100 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai in 1968, said some years later: “In all my years in the Army I was never taught that communists were human beings. We were there to kill ideology carried by – I don’t know – pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh. I was there to destroy communism. We never conceived of old people, men, women, children, babies.”

+ 1977: Scientists theorized that the earth’s protective ozone layer was being damaged by synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons. The manufacturers and users of CFCs were not happy. They made life difficult for the lead scientist. The president of one aerosol manufacturing firm suggested that criticism of CFCs was “orchestrated by the Ministry of Disinformation of the KGB.”

+ 1978: Life inside a California youth camp of the ultra anti-communist John Birch Society: Five hours each day of lectures on communism, Americanism and “The Conspiracy”; campers learned that the Soviet government had created a famine and spread a virus to kill a large number of citizens and make the rest of them more manageable; the famine led starving adults to eat their children; communist guerrillas in Southeast Asia jammed chopsticks into children’s ears, piercing their eardrums; American movies are all under the control of the Communists; the theme is always that capitalism is no better than communism; you can’t find a dictionary now that isn’t under communist influence; the communists are also taking over the Bibles.

+ The Reagan administration declared that the Russians were spraying toxic chemicals over Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan – the so-called “yellow rain” – and had caused more than ten thousand deaths by 1982 alone, (including, in Afghanistan, 3,042 deaths attributed to 47 separate incidents between the summer of 1979 and the summer of 1981, so precise was the information). Secretary of State Alexander Haig was a prime dispenser of such stories, and President Reagan himself denounced the Soviet Union thusly more than 15 times in documents and speeches. The “yellow rain”, it turned out, was pollen-laden feces dropped by huge swarms of honeybees flying far overhead.

+ 1982: In commenting about sexual harassment in the Army, General John Crosby stated that the Army doesn’t care about soldiers’ social lives – “The basic purpose of the United States Army is to kill Russians,” he said.

+ 1983: The US invasion of Grenada, the home of the Cuban ambassador is damaged and looted by American soldiers; on one wall is written “AA”, symbol of the 82nd Airborne Division; beside it the message: “Eat shit, commie faggot.” … “I want to fuck communism out of this little island,” says a marine, “and fuck it right back to Moscow.”

+ 1984: During a sound check just before his weekly broadcast, President Reagan spoke these words into the microphone: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia, forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” His words were picked up by at least two radio networks.

+ 1985: October 29 BBC interview with Ronald Reagan: asked about the differences he saw between the US and Russia, the president replied: “I’m no linguist, but I’ve been told that in the Russian language there isn’t even a word for freedom.” (The word is “svoboda”.)

+ 1986: Soviet artists and cultural officials criticized Rambo-like American films as an expression of “anti-Russian phobia even more pathological than in the days of McCarthyism”. Russian film-maker Stanislav Rostofsky claimed that on one visit to an American school “a young girl trembled with fury when she heard I was from the Soviet Union, and said she hated Russians.”

+ 1986: Roy Cohn, who achieved considerable fame and notoriety in the 1950s as an assistant to the communist-witch-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, died, reportedly of AIDS. Cohn, though homosexual, had denied that he was and had denounced such rumors as communist smears.

+1986: After American journalist Nicholas Daniloff was arrested in Moscow for “spying” and held in custody for two weeks, New York Mayor Edward Koch sent a group of 10 visiting Soviet students storming out of City Hall in fury. “The Soviet government is the pits,” said Koch, visibly shocking the students, ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. One 14-year-old student was so outraged he declared: “I don’t want to stay in this house. I want to go to the bus and go far away from this place. The mayor is very rude. We never had a worse welcome anywhere.” As matters turned out, it appeared that Daniloff had not been completely pure when it came to his news gathering.

+ 1989: After the infamous Chinese crackdown on dissenters in Tiananmen Square in June, the US news media was replete with reports that the governments of Nicaragua, Vietnam and Cuba had expressed their support of the Chinese leadership. Said the Wall Street Journal: “Nicaragua, with Cuba and Vietnam, constituted the only countries in the world to approve the Chinese Communists’ slaughter of the students in Tiananmen Square.” But it was all someone’s fabrication; no such support had been expressed by any of the three governments. At that time, as now, there were few, if any, organizations other than the CIA which could manipulate major Western media in such a manner.

NOTE: It should be remembered that the worst consequences of anti-communism were not those discussed above. The worst consequences, the ultra-criminal consequences, were the abominable death, destruction, and violation of human rights that we know under various names: Vietnam, Chile, Korea, Guatemala, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil, Greece, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and many others.
  
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com
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