Archive | November 13th, 2016

A Tale of Three Foundations: Carter, Clinton and Trump

NOVANEWS
Image result for Jimmy Carter CARTOON
By Peter Van Buren   

Seen the latest front-page Jimmy Carter Center scandal? Hear about the six figure speaking fees former president Jimmy Carter pulls in from shady companies and foreign governments? An oil painting of himself he bought with charity money? Maybe not.

Take a moment to Google Jimmy Carter. Now do the same for Bill Clinton. The search results tell the tale of two former presidents, one determined to use his status honorably, the other seeking exploitation for personal benefit. And then throw in Donald Trump, who of course wants to someday be a former president. Each man has his own charitable foundation. Let’s compare them.

Three charitable organizations enter, only one emerges with honor. Let’s do this!

Carter

Carter’s presidency carries an uneven legacy. Yet his prescient but unwelcome 1979 warning that the country suffered a crisis of confidence, preventing Americans from uniting to solve tough problems, anticipated the faux bravado of Reagan’s “Morning in America.”

Many feel Carter has been a better ex-president than he was a president. His Carter Center focuses on impactful but unglamorous issues such as Guinea worm disease. When Carter left office, the disease afflicted 3.5 million people, mostly in Africa. Now it’s expected to be only the second disease, after smallpox, to ever be eradicated worldwide.

Carter, 90, still donates a week of his time each year to Habitat for Humanity. Not a photo-op, Carter goes out without the media in tow and hammers nails. Carter also tirelessly monitors elections in nascent democracies, lending his stature as a statesman to that work over 100 times already. Summing up his own term in office, Carter said “We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war.”

He is the last president since 1977 who can make that claim.

Clinton

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Bill Clinton pushed the NAFTA agreement through, seen now by many as a mistake that cost American jobs. He pointlessly bombed Iraq and sent troops into Somalia (see Blackhawk Down.) Clinton’s legacy most of all is his having an oral affair with an intern, then fibbing about it, and then ending up one of only two American presidents ever impeached as a result.

As a former president, Clinton is nothing if not true to his unstatesman-like form. Bill makes six-figure speeches to businesses seeking influence within the U.S. government, earning as much as $50 million during his wife’s term as secretary of state alone. He used a shell company to hide some of the income.

His own charity, humbly known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Global Foundation, is a two billion dollar financial tangle. It spent in 2013 the same amount of money on travel expenses for Bill and his family as it did on charitable grants. Instead of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Bill takes his big donors on executive safaris to Africa. Many of those same donors also give generously to the Hillary Clinton campaign and its constellation of PACs.

Trump

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Trump refuses to be very specific about who his charity donates to. We know its off-shoot, the Eric Trump charity, donated to a wine industry association, a plastic surgeon gifting nose jobs to kids and an artist who painted a portrait of Donald Trump. Trump-owned golf resorts received $880,000 for hosting Trump charity events.

Reports show Trump donated money from his foundation to conservative influencers ahead of his presidential bid, effectively using funds intended for charity to support his own political ambitions. The New York Attorney General ordered Donald Trump’s charity to immediately halt fundraising in the state, following reports that it had not submitted to routine audits.

***

Voters should judge a candidate not just on examples of past competency, but with an eye toward the core things that really matter: character, values, honesty, humility and selflessness. Perhaps this tale of two presidents and a wanna be has a lesson in it for 2016.

 

We Meant Well

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NYT Admits Key Al Qaeda Role in Aleppo

NOVANEWS
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By Robert Parry    

As much as The New York Times and the mainstream U.S. media have become propaganda outlets on most foreign policy issues, like the one-sided coverage of the bloody Syrian war, sometimes the truth seeps through in on-the-ground reporting by correspondents, even ones who usually are pushing the “propo.”

Such was the case with Anne Barnard’s new reporting from inside west Aleppo, the major portion of the city which is in government hands and copes with regular terror rocket and mortar attacks from rebel-held east Aleppo where Al Qaeda militants and U.S.-armed-and-funded “moderate” rebels fight side-by-side.

Almost in passing, Barnard’s article on Sunday acknowledged the rarely admitted reality of the Al Qaeda/”moderate” rebel collaboration, which puts the United States into a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda terrorists and their jihadist allies, fighting under banners such as Nusra Front (recently renamed Syria Conquest Front) and Ahrar al-Sham.

Barnard also finally puts the blame for preventing civilians in east Aleppo from escaping the fighting on a rebel policy of keeping them in harm’s way rather than letting them transit through “humanitarian corridors” to safety. Some of her earlier pro-rebel accounts suggested that it wasn’t clear who was stopping movement of civilians through those corridors.

However, on Sunday, she reported: “We had arrived at a critical moment, as Russia said there was only one day left to pass through a corridor it had provided for people to escape eastern Aleppo before the rebel side was flattened, a corridor through which precious few had passed. The government says rebels are preventing civilians from leaving. Rebels refuse any evacuation without international supervision and a broader deal to deliver humanitarian aid.”

Granted, you still have to read between the lines, but at least there is the acknowledgement that rebels are refusing civilian evacuations under the current conditions. How that is different from Islamic State terrorists in Mosul, Iraq, preventing departures from their areas – a practice which the Times and other U.S. outlets condemn as using women and children as “human shields” – isn’t addressed. But Barnard’s crimped admission is at least a start.

Barnard then writes: “Instead [of allowing civilians to move through the humanitarian corridors], they [the rebels] are trying to break the siege, with Qaeda-linked groups and those backed by the United States working together — the opposite of what Russia has demanded.”

Again, that isn’t the clearest description of the situation, which is stunning enough that one might have expected it in the lede rather than buried deep inside the story, but it is significant that the Times is recognizing that Al Qaeda and the U.S.-backed “moderates” are “working together” and that Russia opposes that collaboration.

She also noted that “Three Qaeda-linked suicide bombers attacked a military position with explosive-packed personnel carriers on Thursday, military officials said, and mortar fire was raining on neighborhoods that until now had been relatively safe. It was among the most intense rounds in four years of rebel shelling that officials say has killed 11,000 civilians.”

While she then throws in a caveat about the impossibility of verifying the numbers, the acknowledgement that the U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels and their Al Qaeda comrades have been shelling civilians in west Aleppo is significant, too. Before this, all the American people heard was the other side, from rebel-held east Aleppo, about the human suffering there, often conveyed by “activists” with video cameras who have depicted the conflict as simply the willful killing of children by the evil Syrian government and the even more evil Russians.

More Balance

With the admission of rebel terror attacks on civilians in west Aleppo, the picture finally is put into more balance. The Al Qaeda and U.S.-backed rebels have been killing thousands of civilians in government-controlled areas and the Syrian military and its Russian allies have struck back only to be condemned for committing “war crimes.”

Though the human toll in both sides of Aleppo is tragic, we have seen comparable situations before – in which the U.S. government has supported, supplied and encouraged governments to mount fierce offensives to silence rockets or mortars fired by rebels toward civilian areas.

For instance, senior U.S. government officials, including President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have defended Israel’s right to defend itself from rockets fired from inside Gaza even though those missile rarely kill anyone. Yet, Israel is allowed to bomb the near-defenseless people of Gaza at will, killing thousands including the four little boys blown apart in July 2014 while playing on a beach during the last round of what the Israelis call “mowing the grass.”

In the context of those deaths, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who has built her career as a supposed humanitarian advocating a “responsibility to protect” civilians, laid the blame not on the Israeli military but on fighters in Gaza who had fired rockets that rarely hit anything besides sand.

At the United Nations on July 18, 2014, Power said, President Obama spoke with [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself…. Hamas’ attacks are unacceptable and would be unacceptable to any member state of the United Nations. Israel has the right to defend its citizens and prevent these attacks.”

But that universal right apparently does not extend to Syria where U.S.-supplied rockets are fired into civilian neighborhoods of west Aleppo. In that case, Power and other U.S. officials apply an entirely different set of standards. Any Syrian or Russian destruction of east Aleppo with the goal of suppressing that rocket fire becomes a “war crime.”

Perhaps it’s expected that the U.S. government, like other governments, will engage in hypocrisy regarding affairs of state: one set of rules for U.S. allies and another for countries marked for U.S. “regime change.” Statements by supposed “humanitarians” – such as Samantha Power, “Ms. R2P” – are no exception.

But double standards are even more distasteful when they come from allegedly “objective” journalists such as those who work at The New York Times, The Washington Post and other prestige American news outlets. When they take the “U.S. side” in a dispute and become crude propagandists, they encourage the kind of misguided “group thinks” that led to the criminal Iraq War and other disastrous “regime change” projects over the past two decades.

Yet, that is what we normally see. A thoughtful reader can’t peruse the international reporting of the U.S. mainstream media without realizing that it is corrupted by propaganda from both government officials and from U.S.-funded operations, often disguised as “human rights activists” or “citizen journalists” whose supposed independence makes their “propo” even more effective.

So, it’s worth noting those rare occasions when The New York Times and the rest of the MSM let some of the reality peek through. When evaluating the latest plans from Hillary Clinton and other interventionists to expand the U.S. military intervention in Syria – via prettily named “safe zones” and “no-fly zones” – the American people should realize that they are being asked to come to the aid of Al Qaeda.

For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s  The De Facto US/Al Qaeda Alliance.

 

*Consortium news

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Here is What Everyone Missed About the TRUMP/OBAMA Meeting

NOVANEWS
‘Illuminati’ Election 2016: Here is What Everyone Missed About the TRUMP/OBAMA Meeting.

donaldtrump-mania

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Donald Trump visited his future home, the White House, to meet Barak Obama on Thursday.

I mean, there’s a conversation it would’ve been fascinating to hear: a conversation between the first Black President of America and his soon-to-be successor – a man endorsed officially by the Ku Klux Klan. I mean, just process that for a moment and reflect on what it symbolizes for the direction of a society in the twenty-first century.

And hey, I’m not bashing Donald Trump – it’s not his fault the KKK endorsed him (or that his father belonged to the organisation). But it still says something anyway about the state of affairs; a state of affairs that is so toxic, so depressing, when you really think about it in its fullest terms. If George Soros has anything to do with the anti-Trump protests currently going on – which all of the ‘Alt-Right’ outlets are insisting; and which I accept may or may not be the case – the other side of the equation is hardly covered in fucking roses either.

And I am astonished by the sheer, blind gullibility of so-called ‘conspiracy researchers’ and so-called alternative, anti-establishment writers – including one or two who I respect and am on good terms with – who are so hopelessly adrift in Trump Mania that they’re like Disney princesses being swept off their feet by their tall, handsome (pussy-grabbing) Prince.

I’ve been trying to process my thoughts about the Trump victory and whatever it is that’s going to unfold in America, and those thoughts are too complicated to properly express just yet.

Instead, I want to focus on just one thing: as mentioned, Trump’s odd, awkward visit to Obama in the White House. Because there are very curious things to notice if you pay attention.

Now of course the president-elect being hosted by the sitting president is the norm, even if these particular two men have been absolute enemies who’ve character-assassinated each other beyond belief. But, between spoonfuls of Weetabix, I watched the news coverage of this meeting with great curiosity.

Firstly, most people might’ve noticed how uncomfortable Donald Trump looked.

I would go further than uncomfortable – I would say he looked shaken. You could put some of that down to nervousness about his impending presidency, but my gut feeling was that this was something more. This didn’t look like the same swaggering, confident, loud-mouthed character we’ve been seeing for months: he looked unsettled, small and overwhelmed. Obama looked relatively fine – albeit, a little insulted by having to sit with someone whose victory the Ku Klux Klan have announced they’re going to hold an official celebration for in a few days.

But it seems to me that something has been said to Donald Trump – not necessarily by Obama himself, but nevertheless during his visit to the White House. Whatever it is, Trump learnt something in that visit that he hadn’t known before that – and it seems like it disturbed him and took the wind out of his sails.

I’ve tried to speculate to myself what that might’ve been – but there’s no way of knowing. It could’ve been to do with whatever’s going to unfold in the next few months. He could’ve been threatened the same way Bernie Sanders was (though this is unlikely – if anyone wanted to threaten him, they would’ve done it ages ago). Shit, he may have just been told about Little Green Men in the Nevada Desert, for all we know. Or, to be less imaginative, maybe Obama just explained to him how complex and difficult the presidency is going to be and that there isn’t enough petty cash for the Mexican wall. There are possibly simple, non-conspiratorial explanations.

But seriously, watch the footage again – he looks very shaken by something and it is very out-of-character.

But, in all seriousness, I’m concerned about this situation and about Trump himself. Whatever else he may be – good or bad – he is also a 70 year-old man (the oldest man to ever be elected president) who went from looking like King of the World to deeply troubled in the space of about two days. And people have been burning effigies of him in the streets and calling for his assassination – that can’t be comfortable to know either.

But there is something else more important I very curiously noticed about the awkward footage from the White House – and it’s something I haven’t seen anyone else point out.

Have you noticed how many secret hand signals he was making?
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Everyone online these days is obsessed with the so-called ‘Illuminati’ hand signals. I don’t particularly believe in the ‘Illuminati’ – which, as far as I know, was just a European intellectual secret society from a few centuries ago and probably wasn’t anything sinister. But I do accept that there is very likely a network of powerful secret societies, under various other names, that exists and is very much in operation.

And the secret hand signal thing among high-level political and cultural leaders does very much seem to be real just from all the photographic evidence alone. Well, Donald Trump has been throwing up these hand signals (particularly the 6 symbol, as shown above, and the pyramid symbol shown below) all throughout this presidential race and his rallies.
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illuminati-handsigns

I mostly ignored it for months; but on Thursday it just seemed so much more pronounced. Here he is, President-Elect, just won an astonishing election victory, and he’s on his first trip to the White House to meet the soon-to-be-ex president, and he is well aware the cameras are on him and that this is a massive moment that the whole world is watching… and there he is, making the 6 signs and pyramid signs while Obama talks to the journalists.

As if that’s not curious enough, him and Obama then seem to share what looks like a secret/masonic-style handshake – when they could’ve just shaken hands normally if they’d wanted to. Admittedly the handshake is harder to make out for sure – but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s throwing up interesting hand signals elsewhere.
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Of course, the likes of Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson and Info Wars, Breitbart, and all the other hate-preaching so-called ‘Alt Right’ media outlets – who’ve been doing for Trump precisely what CNN, ABC and co have been doing for Hillary – won’t mention this or draw attention to it. But as far as I’m concerned, Trump just announced his covert affiliations for everyone who knows what to look for.

He may have, in fact, been showing these hand signals specifically to alert other secret-society members in government or media that they don’t need to worry about him having won the election – as he is part of the family, even if some of them didn’t know that before.

And Info Wars, Breitbart and the other ‘Alt Right’ platforms , who’ve over the years spent hours pointing out every ‘Leftist’ or ‘Liberal’ politician with alleged ‘Illuminati’ or secret-society affiliations (according to most of these, little old Angela Merkel is the Devil, apparently), are not going to draw any attention to Trump throwing out these signals.

Which just confirms what I have already known – and been saying – for some time: that Jones, Watson, Breitbart and the rest of them (all of them surely pretty wealthy by now) are in fact a covert operation (probably run by intelligence agencies or COINTELPRO) and not actually real ‘alternative media’ at all. Which is just as well – as the nasty, KKK-lite bile they peddle would make me jump ship even if they were a legit operation.

And, as I said months ago, those platforms – possibly along with the entire Trump campaign – are probably working specifically to agitate a ‘Civil War’ or ‘race wars’ among the population; they’re simply inciting the violent hatred from one side while Soros and other organisations are probably pushing the other side.

It’s a total sham. If you get sucked in by it, that’s your choice and your right. But it would be because you’re stupid.

All of that aside, I’m honestly still not sure what the fuck is actually going on: whether Trump was meant to win the election or whether it was supposed to be Hillary.

And also, someone being a member of a secret society doesn’t automatically make them sinister: most secret societies, at their point of origin in previous centuries, were probably good organisations designed for intellectual pursuits, science and philosophy, and were forced to operate in secrecy and develop secret handshakes and the like to protect themselves from the tyranny of the church. A secret society could presumably be up to good or up to evil – my point being that the secrecy itself isn’t proof of ‘evil’.

The main point I’m getting at here is that it is very suspect when ‘Alt Right’ platforms obsess about the so-called ‘Illuminati’ and secret societies and brand Hillary Clinton as ‘Lucifer’ or ‘Satan’ or a child murderer, but then completely fail to notice their own candidate throwing up ‘Illuminati’ hand signals left, right and centre in the White House. Hey, I’m no fan of Hillary – I resent her on account of Libya, Syria and a few other key things (including the probability that she would’ve escalated a war with Russia): but there’s a difference between that and claiming she eats babies or is the Bride of Satan.

Also, the biggest, most menacing figure in this equation now is probably neither Hillary nor Trump: but Trump’s baffling choice of Vice-President – the disgusting, shady and frankly sinister-looking Mike Pence.

And I’m not totally dismissing Trump either. Him belonging to a secret society isn’t a crime and doesn’t necessarily mean he’s Up To No Good. But it is very, very suspect for someone who’s being held up as the ‘anti establishment’ hero – particularly when a whole lot of the gay-hating, Mexican-hating, pussy-grabbing plebs are declaring him ‘the Messiah’ or as someone “sent by God” to “bring down the New World Order”.

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First effect of The Trump win: Al-Qaeda morale in Aleppo collapses

NOVANEWS
First effect of Trump win: Al-Qaeda morale in Aleppo collapses, Western campaign against Russian bombing ends
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By Alexander Mercuris  

One place where Donald Trump’s election victory has had an immediate effect is in the battlefield around Aleppo.

Reports from the area of the battlefield speak of a total collapse of morale amongst the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi forces which have been attacking the city from the south west, as whatever lingering hopes there were of a Western military intervention following a victory by Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election have turned to dust.

The result is that the Jihadi forces have been rapidly losing ground in the south western suburbs of Aleppo over the last three days, a fact which has apparently obliged Al-Qaeda to draw on its last reserves in order to rush reinforcements to the front to prevent a total collapse there.

As always the situation is confused, but it seems the Syrian army has now entirely liberated the strategically located 1070 housing complex and the Minyan and Al-Assad districts, and that it is starting to develop an offensive towards the strategically important town of Khan Tuman, which is the base from which the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis launch their attacks on south west Aleppo.

Importantly these Syrian army advances are taking place despite the continued absence of Russian bombing in the area of Aleppo.

In the meantime there are reports that the Russian fleet which includes the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the nuclear powered missile battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky has moved closer to the Syrian coast.

There have even been scattered reports that some of the Kuznetsov’s aircraft have been spotted flying over Syria on what appear to be reconnaissance missions.

There are also reports that the Russian fleet is preparing to launch heavy cruise missile strikes against the Jihadis forces concentrated in south west Aleppo, and that these will happen within the next few hours.

Reports that such attacks were imminent have in fact been circulating for around a week.

It appears the Russian fleet has taken longer to deploy to the Syrian coast than was expected despite being present in the eastern Mediterranean for several days.

Even allowing for a possible political decision by the Russian leadership to delay the attack until after the US Presidential election, it is still not clear why there has been a further delay given that the election took place several days ago.

Possibly there have been technical problems, though there are no reports of any problems with Kuznetsov’s engines.   Alternatively, the Russians might have felt the need to take additional security precautions after the strange incident several days ago involving the Dutch submarine.

It does however seem that an attack on the Jihadis attacking Aleppo from the Russian fleet in the eastern Mediterranean is indeed now about to happen, and that this attack may now be only hours away.

Regardless of when the attack happens, the key point is that following Trump’s election any idea of the West intervening directly in the fighting in Aleppo is now finally and conclusively dead.

Already the West’s media campaign against the Russian bombing of the Jihadi districts of eastern Aleppo, which was dominating the news just a few weeks ago, seems like an age away, whilst the demands for Russia to be further sanctioned or prosecuted for war crimes because of its actions in Syria have been quietly dropped.

*The Duran

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UK: A brief history of establishment hysteria

NOVANEWS

RT 

The NatWest account closure is only the latest entry in the channel’s saga in the UK.

Over the last couple of years, certain voices in the UK media – and the wider establishment –  have been feeding a wave of hysteria over the channel’s presence in the British market. Here are the highlights:

October 2014 – Posters for RT’s Second Opinion” ad campaign are rejected for outdoor posting by several London platforms for having what they called “political undertones.” Instead, RT puts up a “redacted version of the posters, which use the example of the Iraq War to draw attention to the importance of diversity in the news media.

November 2014 – The network officially launches RT UK, a dedicated channel broadcasting from its own studios in London. The British mainstream media, predictably, freaks out.

December 2014 – John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, lamented “It is frightening, the extent to which we are losing the information war,” with Peter Horrocks, a former top executive of the BBC’s global news operation, explaining to The Guardian that the Beeb was losing ground to RT because it is “financially outgunned.”  The problem with Horrock’s contention is that it simply isn’t true. That year, the BBC World Service ALONE was allocated a 2014 budget of £245 million ($382 million at that time), primarily for radio and online services.  RT, with its much costlier TV signal distribution, received 15.38 billion rubles ($271 million then).

January 2015 – The British Army announces it is creating a special force of “Facebook warriors” – a 1,500-strong brigade of professional soldiers to promote UK narratives on social media platforms. According to the Guardian, part of the justification for the move was that Russia’s point of view is resonating with the UK audience.

February 2015 – The Economist’s senior editor, Ed Lucas, pays a lot of attention to RT – especially in his other gig as a lobbyist for American weapons manufacturers. In this instance, he calls for KGB methods to be used against RT’s staff. “I think we could do a bit more ostracism,” Lucas said at a Munich security conference,” just as RT journalists were coming under fire near Donetsk. “Far too many people see a job at RT as the first stage on a career ladder. It’s not. It’s the last stage on a career ladder,” he said.

November 2015 – Larry King comes to London to promote his two shows “Larry King Now” and “Politicking,” which have been coming out on RT America and are about to start airing on RT UK. He grants an interview to BBC’s Evan Davis, who tries to give the legendary King of Chat a very hard time about working with RT. But BBC’s own viewers are not impressed.

Eventually, even Newsnight’s own Editor, Ian Katz, throws in the towel, writing “in case you missed… Larry King schooling our Evan Davis on the art of the interview.”

February 2016 – The BBC submits written testimony (made public over the summer) to Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee to justify demands for more funding, despite having just received £289 million for four years from the UK’s defense budget. The report outlines the reasons why RT’s success should create panic among the UK establishment: “Viewing figures for RT, Russia’s international news channel, have seen a sharp increase… It also operates very successfully on social media.”  The Russians are coming! The British government nods along in response.

August 2016 – The Times’ UK publishes seven pieces on the dangers of Russian media, mostly RT, over a single weekend. Obsessing much?

October 2016 – NatWest Bank, a subsidiary of Britain’s majority state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland, gives notice that it is closing RT’s accounts – without explanation. Hundreds of messages and statements of support pour in from RT’s audience, NatWest/RBS customers, and UK public figures, who criticize the move as an affront to the UK’s principles of freedom of speech.

Stay tuned!

READ MORE: 
RT responds to ‘ostracism’ calls by Economist editor at Munich conference

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Good Deaths in Mosul, Bad Deaths in Aleppo

NOVANEWS

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By Robert Parry

Note how differently The New York Times prepares the American public for civilian casualties from the new U.S.-backed Iraqi government assault on the city of Mosul to free it from the Islamic State, compared to the unrelenting condemnation of the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on neighborhoods of east Aleppo held by Al Qaeda.

In the case of Mosul, the million-plus residents are not portrayed as likely victims of American airstrikes and Iraqi government ground assaults, though surely many will die during the offensive. Instead, the civilians are said to be eagerly awaiting liberation from the Islamic State terrorists and their head-chopping brutality.

“Mosul’s residents are hoarding food and furtively scrawling resistance slogans on walls,” writes Times’ veteran war correspondent Rod Nordland about this week’s launch of the U.S.-backed government offensive. “Those forces will fight to enter a city where for weeks the harsh authoritarian rule of the Islamic State … has sought to crack down on a population eager to either escape or rebel, according to interviews with roughly three dozen people from Mosul. …

“Just getting out of Mosul had become difficult and dangerous: Those who were caught faced million-dinar fines, unless they were former members of the Iraqi Army or police, in which case the punishment was beheading. … Graffiti and other displays of dissidence against the Islamic State were more common in recent weeks, as were executions when the vandals were caught.”

The Times article continues: “Mosul residents chafed under social codes banning smoking and calling for splashing acid on body tattoos, summary executions of perceived opponents, whippings of those who missed prayers or trimmed their beards, and destroying ‘un-Islamic’ historical monuments.”

So, the message is clear: if the inevitable happens and the U.S.-backed offensive kills a number of Mosul’s civilians, including children, The New York Times’ readers have been hardened to accept this “collateral damage” as necessary to free the city from blood-thirsty extremists. The fight to crush these crazies is worth it, even if there are significant numbers of civilians killed in the “cross-fire.”

And we’ve seen similar mainstream media treatment of other U.S.-organized assaults on urban areas, such as the devastation of the Iraqi city, Fallujah, in 2004 when U.S. Marines routed Iraqi insurgents from the city while leveling or severely damaging most of the city’s buildings and killing hundreds of civilians. But those victims were portrayed in the Western press as “human shields,” shifting the blame for their deaths onto the Iraqi insurgents.

Despite the fact that U.S. forces invaded Iraq in defiance of international law – and thus all the thousands of civilian deaths across Iraq from the “shock and awe” U.S. firepower should be considered war crimes – there was virtually no such analysis allowed into the pages of The New York Times or the other mainstream U.S. media. Such talk was forced to the political fringes, as it continues to be today. War-crimes tribunals are only for the other guys.

Lust to Kill Children

By contrast, the Times routinely portrays the battle for east Aleppo as simply a case of barbaric Russian and Syrian leaders bombing innocent neighborhoods with no regard for the human cost, operating out of an apparent lust to kill children.

Rather than focusing on Al Qaeda’s harsh rule of east Aleppo, the Times told its readers in late September how to perceive the Russian-Syrian offensive to drive out Al Qaeda and its allies. A Sept. 25 article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta, entitled “Syria and Russia Appear Ready to Scorch Aleppo,” began:

“Make life intolerable and death likely. Open an escape route, or offer a deal to those who leave or surrender. Let people trickle out. Kill whoever stays. Repeat until a deserted cityscape is yours. It is a strategy that both the Syrian government and its Russian allies have long embraced to subdue Syrian rebels, largely by crushing the civilian populations that support them.

“But in the past few days, as hopes for a revived cease-fire have disintegrated at the United Nations, the Syrians and Russians seem to be mobilizing to apply this kill-all-who-resist strategy to the most ambitious target yet: the rebel-held sections of the divided metropolis of Aleppo.”

Again, note how the “rebels” are portrayed as local heroes, rather than a collection of jihadists from both inside and outside Syria fighting under the operational command of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which recently underwent a name change to the Syria Conquest Front. But the name change and the pretense about “moderate” rebels are just more deceptions.

As journalist/historian Gareth Porter has written:

“Information from a wide range of sources, including some of those the United States has been explicitly supporting, makes it clear that every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by Nusra militants. All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it. …

“At least since 2014 the Obama administration has armed a number of Syrian rebel groups even though it knew the groups were coordinating closely with the Nusra Front, which was simultaneously getting arms from Turkey and Qatar. The strategy called for supplying TOW anti-tank missiles to the ‘Syrian Revolutionaries Front’ (SRF) as the core of a client Syrian army that would be independent of the Nusra Front.

“However, when a combined force of Nusra and non-jihadist brigades including the SRF captured the Syrian army base at Wadi al-Deif in December 2014, the truth began to emerge. The SRF and other groups to which the United States had supplied TOW missiles had fought under Nusra’s command to capture the base.”

Arming Al Qaeda

This reality – the fact that the U.S. government is indirectly supplying sophisticated weaponry to Al Qaeda – is rarely mentioned in the mainstream U.S. news media, though one might think it would make for a newsworthy story. But it would undercut the desired propaganda narrative of “good guy” rebels fighting “bad guy” government backed by “ultra-bad guy” Russians.

What if Americans understood that their tax money and U.S. weaponry were going to aid the terrorist group that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks? What if they understood the larger historical context that Washington helped midwife the modern jihadist movement – and Al Qaeda – through the U.S./Saudi support for the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s?

And what if Americans understood that Washington’s supposed regional “allies,” including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel, have sided with Al Qaeda in Syria because of their intense hatred of Shiite-ruled Iran, an ally of Syria’s secular government?

These Al Qaeda sympathies have been known for several years but never get reported in the mainstream U.S. press. In September 2013, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored Syria’s Sunni extremists over President Bashar al-Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

And, in June 2014, speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

But such cynical – and dangerous – realpolitik is kept from the American people. Instead, the Syrian conflict is presented as all about the children.

There is also little said about how Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its allied jihadists keep the civilian population in east Aleppo essentially as “human shields.” When “humanitarian corridors” have been opened to allow civilians to escape, they had been fired on by the jihadists determined to keep as many people under their control as possible.

Propaganda Fodder                       

By forcing the civilians to stay, Al Qaeda and its allies can exploit the injuries and deaths of civilians, especially the children, for propaganda advantages.

white-helmets-girl-repeat

Going along with Al Qaeda’s propaganda strategy, the Times and other mainstream U.S. news outlets have kept the focus on the children. A Times dispatch on Sept. 27 begins:

“They cannot play, sleep or attend school. Increasingly, they cannot eat. Injury or illness could be fatal. Many just huddle with their parents in windowless underground shelters — which offer no protection from the powerful bombs that have turned east Aleppo into a kill zone.

“Among the roughly 250,000 people trapped in the insurgent redoubt of the divided northern Syrian city are 100,000 children, the most vulnerable victims of intensified bombings by Syrian forces and their Russian allies. Though the world is jolted periodically by the suffering of children in the Syria conflict — the photographs of Alan Kurdi’s drowned body and Omran Daqneesh’s bloodied face are prime examples — dead and traumatized children are increasingly common.”

This propagandistic narrative has bled into the U.S. presidential campaign with Martha Raddatz, a moderator of the second presidential debate, incorporating much of the evil-Russians theme into a question that went so far as to liken the human suffering in Aleppo to the Holocaust, the Nazi extermination campaign against Jews and other minorities.

That prompted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to repeat her call for an expanded U.S. military intervention in Syria, including a “no-fly zone,” which U.S. military commanders say would require a massive operation that would kill many Syrians, both soldiers and civilians, to eliminate Syria’s sophisticated air-defense systems and its air force.

Based on the recent Wikileaks publication of Clinton’s speeches to investment bankers and other special interests, we also know that she recognizes the high human cost from this strategy. In one June 2013 speech, she said, “To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk — you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”

Yet, during the campaign, Clinton has spoken glibly about her own proposal to impose a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which has become even more dangerous since 2015 when the Russians agreed to directly assist the Syrian government in fighting Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Also, left unsaid about such a U.S. intervention is that it could open the way for Al Qaeda and/or its spinoff Islamic State to defeat the Syrian army and gain control of Damascus, creating the potential for even a worse bloodbath against Christians, Shiites, Alawites, secular Sunnis and other “heretics.” Not to mention the fact that a U.S.-imposed “no-fly zone” would be a clear violation of international law.

Over the next few weeks, we are sure hear much about the Islamic State using the people of Mosul as “human shields” and thus excusing U.S. bombs when they strike civilians targets and kill children. It will all be the terrorists’ fault, except that an opposite set of “journalistic” rules will apply to Aleppo.

 

*Consortium News

Posted in USA, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on Good Deaths in Mosul, Bad Deaths in Aleppo

Nazi regime re-arrests British citizen 

NOVANEWS
Image result for NAZI COURT LOGO
Israel re-arrests British citizen after he is cleared by military court

Nazi appeal court has ordered the re-arrest of a British citizen after he was cleared of assisting terrorist organisations by a military court, Anadolu reported on Friday.

It was alleged that the “confession” of Faiz Mahmoud Ahmed Sherari, a 49 year-old British-Lebanese citizen, was obtained by “coercion” by the internal security agency Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet’. He was arrested during a four-day visit to the West Bank in September and accused of providing cash and mobile phones to Hamas, the Guardian said in a previous report.

Nazi Radio said that the court of appeal challenged the ruling of the first Nazi court in the illegally occupied West Bank. It did not say what will happen to Sherari.

Nazi judge in the trial earlier this month, Lieutenant Colonel Nazi Azriel Levy, criticised the pressure put on Sherari by Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet’, noting that his rights had been violated. Reports revealed that he had been handcuffed painfully for an extended period as well as threatened. He was also prevented from seeing lawyer.

“There is no doubt that the defendant’s confession, which was given an hour after the end of his Shin Bet interrogation, was dramatically influenced by the method of interrogation,” the judge said in his ruling. “This included pained and prolonged shackling, threats and a blatant exploitation of the defendant’s demonstrated weakness.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, LebanonComments Off on Nazi regime re-arrests British citizen 

What Trump’s International Policies Could Look Like

NOVANEWS

Image result for 9/11 CARTOON

By Brian CLOUGHLEY 

In June 2011, before the 9/11 catastrophe shook the world and before President George W Bush committed his country to endless and unwinnable wars, he met with President Putin and described their conversation as «straightforward and effective». He found Mr Putin «to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue… He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship».

Times changed, however, and the hawks in Washington — the military-industrial-Congressional complex — were (and continue to be) intent on challenging Russia and China in every sphere. Among other manoeuvres, they intensified the US military presence in the South China Sea (part of the Pivot to Asia) and encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in further military expansion round Russia’s borders. In 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia became part of the military grouping, and after Obama came to power they were joined by Albania and Croatia.

There was no possibility that the Obama administration, whose secretary of state was Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2013, would engage in dialogue with Russia. The State Department’s blatant encouragement of the anti-Russian coup in Ukraine («Yats is the guy») confirmed Moscow’s conviction that confrontation was Washington’s inflexible policy.

As one observer wrote at the time of the Kiev coup, «the reality is that, after two decades of eastward NATO expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration». The fact that the current Kiev administration is one of the most corrupt in the world is hardly surprising, but its unconditional support by the US-NATO military alliance is a sad comment on international affairs.

Might things be looking up, with a Donald Trump presidency in the offing? Clinton was totally opposed to dialogue with Russia and made it clear that if she were president she would carry on confronting because «I’ve stood up to Russia, I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as President». Trump, on the other hand, has been positive in calmly stating that «We are going to have a great relationship with China. We are going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia». You can’t get more definite than that, and in consequence his election was warmly greeted by those who prefer dialogue to war.

President Putin was guarded in his reaction to Trump’s election, and said only that «We heard the campaign slogans when he was still a candidate which were aimed at restoring relations between Russia and the United States. We understand that it will not be an easy path given the current state of degradation in the relations. And as I have repeatedly said, it’s not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a poor state. But Russia wants and is ready to restore full-fledged relations with the United States… we are ready to play our part, and do everything to return Russian-American relations to stable and sustainable development track». In other words — It’s a good result ; but let’s wait and see what happens when the man is sitting in the Oval Office.

Will a Trump presidency result in cessation of flights of US electronic warfare aircraft up to the borders of China and Russia, which they do regularly in order to «light up» defensive radars and other systems? Will President Trump forbid the provocative coat-trailing ‘freedom of navigation’ incursions by nuclear-armed US warships in the South China Sea? And, above all things, might it mean an end to the US-NATO military build up to war?

The Secretary General of the Pentagon’s branch office in Brussels, NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg, highlighted his important global status by joining heads of state and national political leaders in noting the election result, saying that «I congratulate Donald Trump on his election as the next President of the United States and I look forward to working with President-elect Trump,» which no doubt brought a smile to the face of Mr Trump who rightly considers NATO to be ‘obsolete’ and involved with countries that his supporters have ‘never even heard of.’ He is so right, because average Americans couldn’t care less about countries that are so unimportant to their lives.

Trump knows very well that Russia has no intention of invading the Baltic states or, indeed, anywhere else, and objects greatly to the ‘freeloading’ of European NATO nations, because the US spends more on its military than anyone else. You can prove almost anything with figures, but the incontrovertible fact is that the US spends 3.6 per cent of its GDP on running its military forces while other NATO countries such as Germany, France, Canada, Turkey and Italy spend less than 2 per cent. Understandably, Trump objects to this inequality.

Yet even given his reservations about NATO, it is not clear how Mr Trump equates his desire to cool things with Russia and China with his statements that the US needs a 350 ship navy, another 90,000 soldiers, an increase in missile capability, and 100 more fighter aircraft. That doesn’t sound like a peace-producing policy, because if he intends to talk with China and Russia, and reduce the speed and thrust of the present march to war, it might seem that a vast increase in military spending would send a contradictory message. There are no other countries in the world with whom the US is likely to go to war on the scale that a conflict against either Russia and China would entail. So why does he want so much more military hardware? The threat from the Islamic State is extremely dangerous, but it doesn’t require the US army to have another 90,000 soldiers.

This is but one reason for President Putin’s ‘wait and see’ attitude. He wants rapprochement — we would all welcome rapprochement, except for the Washington military-industrial mafia — but it doesn’t look as if it’s guaranteed.

Sometimes you wonder who exactly is in charge in America, because on November 5 the commander of the US Army in Europe, General Ben Hodges, declared that «No matter who is president, no matter who controls Congress, the United States is always going to be interested and need security and stability in Europe,» which was an intriguing foreign policy statement to be made by a general. He went even further in his commitment to US military involvement overseas by saying that «my expectation is the US Army will be given the mission to continue supporting Ukraine for as far as I can see», which sentiment is directly opposed to that of his future commander-in-chief, who said in a media interview that «the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were». Of President Putin he said that «He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?»

President Putin will be pleased to talk with Mr Trump, and obviously has hopes that, as in his 2001 discussions with George W Bush, there might be «the beginning of a very constructive relationship». There are some indications that this could be achieved, just as there are some indications that US foreign policy under Trump will not be as confrontational as that of recent years. Yet it would be unwise to ignore the sheer power of Washington’s military-industrial mafia and such as the loudmouthed General Hodges who have been given a boost by the Trump declaration that he intends to greatly expand the country’s military capabilities.

Trump will soon pronounce on his intended foreign policy, once he has taken advice from those more knowledgeable than he is about international affairs. He seems to realise that peaceful coexistence beats belligerent confrontation, and we must hope that he will stick to his guns rather than buy a lot more of them.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on What Trump’s International Policies Could Look Like

Meet Team Trump

NOVANEWS

yesterday by corbett report

nif_teamtrump

by James Corbett

The voting machines have decided who will be the next puppet figurehead of the Pax Americana deep state for the next four years. The circus is over and the peanut shells are being swept out of the stands. So what do we have to show for all of it?

Well, I have some good news, some bad news, and some not-so-good news for you. Let’s start with the bad news.

Apparently some people voted for Trump in the belief that he was some sort of anti-establishment truth-telling hero of the working class. I hate to be the one to disabuse you of this notion, so let’s just look at his transition team, his campaign team, the people who have already been tapped to be part of the new administration and the people who are being contacted for potential cabinet appointments. Warning: It’s not a pretty picture.

trumpcabinet

So who’s leading this transition team that’s helping to sort out the cabinet and move Team Trump into the White House? Oh, just the usual assortment of bankster-connected corporate lobbyists we would expect to be hanging around any president-elect. This time is no exception. From former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Eric Ueland to Koch Industries lobbyist Michael Catanzaro to Aetna / Verizon lobbyist William Palatucci, the gaggle of corporate cronies manning Trump for America Inc. (the actual nonprofit group set up to oversee the transition) are as establishment as they come. And the whole kit-and-kaboodle is being run by Chris Christie. Yes, that Chris Christie.

And who are they reaching out to for potential positions in the Trump White House?

Steven Mnuchin – The chief fundraiser for the Trump campaign was not featured in a lot of alt-right cheerleading for the Trump train, and for good reason: He is a 17-year Goldman Sachs veteran who went on to work for Soros Fund Management. Yes, that Soros. Oh, and he donated to Hillary Clinton. But other than that, I’m sure he’s a great fundraiser. Which is why he is apparently a frontrunner to be Secretary of the Treasury in the Trump White House. That’s right folks, yet another Goldman Sachs vampire squid alumni is within a hair’s breadth of taking over the Treasury, just like Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin before him. But don’t worry, because another person in consideration for the Treasury Secretary position is…

Jamie Dimon – I’m going to assume you know who Jamie Dimon is, but just to make sure everyone is aware, let me spell it out in black and white: Jamie Dimon is chairman, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, the monstrous banking offspring of JP Morgan & Co. and the Rockefellers’ own Chase Manhattan. Other than Lloyd God’s work Blankfein, it would be hard to find a more bankster-y bankster in the world of banksterism. To list Dimon’s entire rap sheet would be an editorial unto itself, but let’s just remind ourselves of his role in the 2008 bailout fiasco via my Federal Reserve documentary, Century of Enslavement:

A stunning 2011 Government Accountability Office report examined $16 trillion of bailout facilities extended by the Fed in the wake of the crisis and exposed numerous examples of blatant conflicts of interest. Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric served as a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the same time the Fed provided $16 billion in financing to General Electric. JP Morgan Chase chief executive, Jamie Dimon, meanwhile, was also a member of the board of the New York Fed during the period that saw $391 billion in Fed emergency lending directed to his own bank. In all, Federal Reserve board members were tied to $4 trillion in loans to their own banks. These funds were not simply used to keep these banks afloat, but actually to return these Fed-connected banks to a period of record profits in the same period that the average worker saw their real wages actually decrease and the economy on main street slow to a standstill.

If there’s any ray of hope here, it’s that (as I discussed with James Evan Pilato on a recent edition of New World Next Week), Dimon recently said he wouldn’t want to become Treasury Secretary due to “Democrat-Republican bullshit.” As Pearse Redmond points out, the Trump team may be floating Dimon’s name right now to make it seem not so bad when they “only” appoint Goldman/Soros insider Mnuchin to the position,

John Bolton – John Bolton is a career Republican insider who served roles in both Bush White Houses, including most recently as UN Ambassador in 2005-2006. He’s also the worst kind of crazed, bloodthirsty neocon who has literally never heard of a foreign invasion he didn’t lust after. Don’t take my word for it, listen to him explain Trump’s foreign policy imperatives…for as many seconds as you can stomach it. And yes, he’s commenting on Trump’s foreign policy because he has been advising the Trump campaign and has been name-dropped for months as a possible Secretary of State in the Trump cabinet. So are all of those who voted Trump over Hillary because they didn’t like her warmongering suitably upset now? Well if not there’s always his picks for Secretary of Defense, like:

Stephen Hadley – Hadley is the man who, acting as Bush Jr.’s Deputy National Security Advisor, served as the conduit for the ridiculously fake yellowcake uranium forgeries that were used to help drum up the war in Iraq. He was also the guy who kept the bogus yellowcake story in Bush’s October 2002 speech in Cincinnati laying out the case for the illegal bloody war of aggression in Iraq. A share of the million dead Iraqi’s blood is on his hands. And he’s in the running to be Trump’s Secretary of Defense.

Reince Priebus – Nothing says “anti-establishment party outsider” like the current chairman of the Republican National Committee, right? Well, guess what: Reince Priebus is under consideration for Trump’s chief of staff. You know, the highest ranking employee of the White House? Priebus is apparently competing against the likes of Stephen Bannon (Trump campaign C.E.O. and former head of Breitbart News) and Jared Kushner‘s (The Donald’s own son-in-law who the Times of Israel takes great pains to point out is an Orthodox Jew, as is Ivanka Trump). Regardless of who gets the spot, the very fact that Priebus is in the running shows that Trump’s feud with the Republican Party was about as real as Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania.

Rudy Giuliani – Rudy Giuliani is an unconvicted 9/11 criminal who illegally cleared the 9/11 crime scene, and who failed to pass on the prior warning that he received about the towers’ destruction. He is also hated by the New York Fire Department for having kicked the firemen off the pile as soon as the gold was discovered. As Associate Attorney General in 1981 he was involved in the PROMIS software octopus. He oversaw New York’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policing policy. He is a ghoul in every sense. So naturally the only question is which spot will he fill in the Trump cabinet: Attorney General, DHS chief, cybersecurity czar, or something else entirely?

Getting nauseated yet? You should be, but if not there are many many many more contemptible establishment insiders who are being vetted for potential cabinet positions at this very moment. But don’t worry, this is why I saved the good news for last.

But first, the not-so-bad news: None of these positions have been filled yet. We don’t know who is going to actually make it into the Trump cabinet at this point. Who knows, maybe it will be a bunch of swell, upstanding Beltway outsiders, non-banksters and populists who are committed to the principles of human freedom. Trump and Change 2016!

OK, alright. That’s wishful thinking. But here’s the really good news:

turnout2016

That’s right, the electorate favored nobody at all by an almost 2-to-1 margin over either fake, controlled political puppet. Turnout was down from previous elections. Things are looking good.

For those who stayed home out of principle: I salute you.

For those who stayed home out of apathy: can I interest you in some reading?

For those who voted for Clinton: why are you on this website?

And for those who voted for Trump: will you commit to standing by the principles you thought you were voting for when you cast your ballot, or will you rally around the party flag as a new crew of neocons and banksters and establishment insiders step into their pre-ordained roles? And if so, will you re-examine what your vote actually did, or will you simply say “I’ll show them! I’ll vote them out next time!” Because if it’s the latter, then you haven’t learned anything at all.

Posted in USAComments Off on Meet Team Trump

Qatar calls into question its sincerity in pushing World Cup-driven reform

Foreign workers in Qatar

By James M. Dorsey

For much of the last six years since winning the hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar appeared to be taking a slow and torturous path towards some degree of reform. Yet, in an increasingly conservative world in which human rights are put on the back burner, fears among rights and trade union activists that lofty Qatari promises of labour reform and some degree of greater liberalism may not be much more than just lofty undertakings appear to be gaining steam.

To be sure, the controversial awarding of the hosting rights has contributed to more open discussion in Qatar of hitherto taboo subjects, including the rights of workers who constitute the vast majority of the population of the tiny, energy-rich Gulf state; the definition of Qatari identity; what rights, if any, non-Qataris should have in obtaining Qatari citizenship; and the rights and social position of women and gays.

“Playing with people’s lives”

A 28-year old Qatari, in the latest pushing of the envelope that brings into the open issues that in the past were kept private because of Qataris’ sense of privacy and family honour, earlier this month decried in an article in Doha News that government policy denies young men and women the right to marry the person of their choice.

It hurt to see my country talking about human rights on the global stage, but then denying citizens the right to marry whoever they choose. (“Yousef”)

Writing under the pseudonym Yousef, the young Qatari described how he was forced to divorce his wife of East European origin after the government refused to sanction the marriage and give his spouse a residence permit because she was not a Muslim even though she had converted.

Yousef wrote:

Our marriage changed me. It took me outside my bubble, and made me question our culture’s values. I didn’t understand why, for example, we Qatari men are allowed to go to clubs where alcohol is served, but at the same time the committee was telling me that my wife’s culture and traditions did not fit ours. This was not making any sense to me.

He added:

I feel that the Qatari government is playing with people’s lives. It hurt to see my country talking about human rights on the global stage, but then denying citizens the right to marry whoever they choose. I want to know why my request was refused. Was it because my family isn’t important enough? Do we not know the right people? I know plenty of Qatari men married to foreign women who got their approval in less than a month, just because they know someone in the government. And why is it OK to marry a second wife or a third wife, but refuse a man permission to marry just one?

Demographic anxiety

Yousef ultimately came to the conclusion that “I will have to leave Qatar and live abroad if I want to get married to a foreigner. I hate that it has to be like that. I love my country. I don’t want to leave Qatar or leave my family, but what options do I have?”

As with the rights of migrant workers caught in a sponsorship system that puts them at the mercy of their employers, Yousef’s plight goes to the heart of Qatar’s most existential problem: the viability of a demography in which the citizenry accounts for a mere 12 per cent of the population and fears that any change will endanger their grip on their society, culture and state.

Wafer-thin rights

Six years into the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, the belief among many activists as well as officials of the world’s football body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) that Qatar’s stark demographic reality was forcing it to move slowly on reforming, if not abolishing the sponsorship or kafala system, is wearing thin.

To be sure, Qatar in the wake of the awarding of the World Cup and in contrast to other Gulf states initially cooperated with it critics who took it to task for the labour and living conditions of workers constructing World Cup-related infrastructure. The Qatari 2022 committee as well as a few other major Qatari organisations adopted standards and model contracts in cooperation with the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

New measures designed to streamline and curtail abuse of the sponsorship or kafala system are scheduled to come into law before the end of the year. The measures fall short, however, of granting workers’ basic rights.

Against the backdrop of a recent Amnesty report that counters assertions of the Qatari committee that it is applying the standards but cannot enforce them on non-World Cup contractors, FIFA is likely to take on more direct responsibility for the issue and come under greater pressure regarding the labour issue.

With a Dutch trade union taking FIFA to court in Switzerland on the issue of labour rights in the Gulf state, the football body has announced that starting with the Qatar World Cup it would scrap local organising committees for its flagship event.

The 52-page Amnesty report listed eight ways in which World Cup workers employed for the showcase Khalifa International Stadium were still being abused and exploited. It charged that despite efforts to the contrary, workers still pay exorbitant recruitment fees, live in appalling conditions, are lured to Qatar with false salary and job promises, do not get paid on time, cannot freely leave Qatar or change jobs, and are threatened by employers when they dare complain.

The Qatari 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy asserted in a statement that “challenges in worker conditions existing during early 2015” that had been identified by Amnesty had largely been addressed by June of this year. It said the problems involved four of some 40 companies involved in work on the Khalifa stadium and that three of those firms had been banned.

The statement added:

The tone of Amnesty International’s latest assertions paint a misleading picture and do nothing to contribute to our efforts. We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change – it will not be built on the back of exploited workers. We wholly reject any notion that Qatar is unfit to host the World Cup.

Questionable sincerity

The Qatari committee, in a further indication that Qatar may be backtracking on promises, said that current restrictions on alcohol consumption would be upheld during the World Cup. Qatar had earlier said that venues for alcohol consumption would be expanded from hotel bars to specific locations around the country during the tournament.

Not that alcohol is the litmus test of a successful Qatari World. The tournament, moreover, may attract a different demography with far more fans from the Middle East, North Africa and the Muslim world who care less about alcohol than their Western counterparts.

Nonetheless, the backtracking on alcohol, coupled with increasingly strained Qatari relations with human rights groups and trade unions, and the snail pace of labour reform casts a shadow on Qatari sincerity.

Qatar may well feel that the rise of populist leaders across the globe could reduce pressure on it to embark on real reform. That could be true. Yet, by the same token, populist leaders who ride a wave of nationalism may also have to also be seen to be standing up for the rights of their nationals working in foreign lands.

Posted in QatarComments Off on Qatar calls into question its sincerity in pushing World Cup-driven reform

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