Archive | May 1st, 2017

David Ignatius’ 15 Years of Running Spin for Saudi Regime

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By Adam Johnson | FAIR 

Last week, in “A Young Prince Is Reimagining Saudi Arabia. Can He Make His Vision Come True?,” Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius (4/20/17) wrote what read like a press release for the Saudi regime. What’s more, he’s written the same article several times before. For almost 15 years, Ignatius has been breathlessly updating US readers on the token, meaningless public relations gestures that the Saudi regime—and, by extension, Ignatius—refer to as “reforms.”

Ignatius columns on Saudi Arabia break down roughly into two groups: straight reporting mixed with spin and concern trolling, and outright press releases documenting the dictatorship’s spectacular reforms. First the latter:

  • “Home-Grown Saudi Reform” (3/7/03)
  • “Saudis Act Aggressively to Denounce Terrorism” (6/13/10)
  • “Change and Balance in the Saudi Kingdom” (11/21/11)
  • “Women Gain Newfound Stature in Saudi Arabia” (1/18/13)
  • “Reshuffling the House of Saud” (2/3/15)
  • “A 30-Year-Old Saudi Prince Could Jump-Start the Kingdom — or Drive It Off a Cliff” (6/26/16)

Let’s begin by taking a look at his most recent iteration of this genre (4/20/17), featuring a brave Saudi prince taking on “religious conservatives” (vague reactionaries who are never named or defined) to change his own monarchy:

Two years into his campaign as change agent in this conservative oil kingdom, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be gaining the confidence and political clout to push his agenda of economic and social reform.

Ignatius begins by doing something a lot of “reformer” boosters do in Saudi Arabia: conflating “economic reform” with social reform. The latter is typically the neoliberal lubricant to get to what really matters, the further privatization and leveraging of Saudi’s immense wealth. Indeed, the only social reforms even mentioned in the glowing report are “a Japanese orchestra that included women” performing to “mixed audience,” and a co-ed Comic Con. Perhaps by 2025 they’ll have mixed-gender D&D tournaments.

Ignatius’ cheerleading columns always rely on vague person-on-the-street sources as a placeholder for the Voice of the People. Take, for example, this framing in  “Women Gain Newfound Stature in Saudi Arabia” (1/18/13):

King Abdullah announced January 11 that 30 women would join the kingdom’s Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 persons, and that women henceforth would hold 20 percent of the seats. Skeptics cautioned that it’s a symbolic move, since this is an advisory group that doesn’t actually enact any legislation. But it’s a powerful symbol, according to men and women here.

Which men and women? Was a poll done? It’s unclear. He goes on to interview a Cambridge-educated woman who appears hand-picked by the regime for a glossy profile. She’s from a humble background and was about to drop out of college until the king stepped in and benevolently paid her tuition. A story Ignatius, of course, dutifully repeats without skepticism.

Then there’s the other genre of Saudi coverage we’ll call Checking In On the House of Saud:

  • “Can Saudi Arabia Help Combat the Islamic State?” (7/28/14)
  • “Saudi Arabia’s Coming Struggle” (1/22/15)
  • “Saudi Arabia Stirs the Middle East Pot” (8/21/13)
  • “The Son Who Would Be the Saudis’ King?” (9/8/15)
  • “A Cyclone Brews over Saudi Arabia” (10/13/15)
  • “The Costly Blunders of Saudi Arabia’s Anxiety-Ridden Monarchy” (1/5/16)

These pieces generally consist of down-the-middle updates about the status of Saudi Arabia, with some light criticism around the margins. Saudi Arabia is painted as a fearful, almost childlike place, whose evil deeds are animated by paranoia rather than ambition—bumbling “misfires” and “mistakes” rather than sinister motives.

The one piece whose headline seems to indicate actual criticism of the Saudi regime is anything but. In “The Costly Blunders of Saudi Arabia’s Anxiety-Ridden Monarchy” (1/5/16), our tough-luck Saudis are bumbling around the Middle East under siege:

Saudi Arabia is a frightened monarchy…. Countries that feel vulnerable sometimes do impulsive and counterproductive things, and that has been the case recently with Saudi Arabia.

Counterproductive? Saudi Arabia has been a bad boy and needs a timeout.

Strangely, in 15 years of writing columns about the monarchy, David Ignatius has not himself used the term “human rights,” much less addressed their abuse in a meaningful way. In one of the few columns (1/5/16)  in which Ignatius actually levels criticism of the Saudi rulers’ gross human rights abuses, they are stripped of all autonomy, with the beheading of a minority religious figure painted as a response to the Evil Iranians: “The kingdom’s fear of a rising Iran led it to execute a dissident Shiite cleric.”

Ignatius went on to lament the execution in equally middle-management terms, saying it was a “mistake” and an “error.” What it wasn’t: “criminal,” “immoral” or “murder.” Moralizing is reserved for US enemies; US allies are simply under-performing employees in need of guidance and mild chiding.

Saudi Arabia, despite being an oppressive absolute monarchy that arbitrarily detains, tortures, executes and mercilessly bombs civilians, is never given the dreaded “regime” moniker like Assad and Gaddafi and North Korea. Actions are not done by an anthropomorphized state, but a nebulous blob of reluctant bureaucrats. And they are not even actions; they are always good-faith reactions to “Iranian hegemony.”

The Saudis’ ruthless bombing of Yemen, which has claimed over 10,000 civilian lives since March 2015, is almost never mentioned by Ignatius, and the few times it is touched upon it is glossed over as “costly and unsuccessful.” It is bad—not in terms of morals, but in process. It’s “costly” like an ill-advised real-estate investment.

Even more shockingly, Ignatius simply takes the regime’s word that all 47 people—including two minors—subject to its 2016 mass execution were guilty of being “extremists”:

A defensive, anxious Saudi leadership tried to show its resolve with last week’s execution of 47 extremists.

That “defensive, anxious Saudi leadership”—a caged animal always responding to threats and occasionally over-correcting.

In 2015, when King Abdullah died, Ignatius (1/22/15) insisted that the monarch who ruled for ten years over a country that didn’t allow women to drive, swim, own property or travel alone “was seen by many Saudi women as their secret champion.” A pretty well-kept secret, it must have been—aside from allowing women to take part in meaningless local “elections” and meaningless advisory councils, it’s unclear what Ignatius’ evidence is for this, but it’s “seen by many Saudi women,” so that’s good enough.

One Washington Post reader put it best in a letter to the editor (2/4/15):

The Saudis have been talking reform at least since I was a student of Middle East affairs in the 1960s. Yet it still is the epicenter of inequality, human rights violations and gratuitous state-sponsored violence.

The wheels of alleged reform in that country are perpetually spinning but going nowhere. The rulers continue to steal the oil revenue that belongs to the people; civil liberties and personal rights are repressed; beheadings, stonings and whippings for nonviolent offenses continue unabated; and people such as Mr. Ignatius still crow about how the regime is a force for change.

Ignatius, of course, is not alone. He joins a long line of faithful Western pundits who frame the Saudi regime as a reformist entity, earnestly pushing change in a fundamentally reactionary country under perma-threat from Shia forces. The Al Saud mafia is not in league with religious extremists, but a bulwark against them; they are not an illegitimate dictatorship, but an enlightened ruling class helping usher in “reform” in the face of a hyper-religious population.

And throughout it all, they are on a 71,500-year reform plan where they are effusively praised for moving their country toward the 19th century every five years or so. Other regimes that oppress their people and bomb civilians “must go” now, and are beyond the moral pale—mere allegations of being friendly with them, a career-ender. But the Saudi regime, a friendly host to light-touch US pundits, is just a well-meaning scrappy band of reformers this close to turning into Switzerland. All they need is a bit more time.

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Deceit, Betrayal and the Left: The ‘Traitor of the Year Award’

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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By James Petras 

Introduction

While the Right faithfully supports the policies and interests of its ruling class supporters, the Left has systematically betrayed their political platform promises and deceived its working class, salaried employees, small business and regional supporters.

Historic reversals have happened in rapid succession by Leftist leaders, including greater oligarch control over the economy, more dictatorial political domination by imperial powers (US,EU), increasing inequalities and poverty, and ‘Leftist’ support for imperial wars.

In some cases leftist leaders have gone beyond their rightist opponents by passing even more extreme reactionary policies upon assuming power.

In this essay, we will identify some of the turncoat leftists: The ‘Champions of Betrayal’.

Secondly we will review their policy reversals and the consequences for their working class and rural supporters.

Thirdly, we will present a case study of the world’s worst ‘Left’ traitor today: Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece.

In the final section, we will discuss some of the possible explanations for the trend of political reversals by left leaders.

Turncoat ‘Leftists’ of the Early 21st Century

There are numerous examples of former guerrilla movements, leftist regimes and political leaders who gained mass popular support on the promise of radical structural transformations and who turn around to embrace the interests of their oligarchical and imperial adversaries.

An entire generation of radicals from the 1960’s and ’70’s started on the left and, by the ’80’s and 90’s ended up in ‘centrist’ and rightwing regimes – even becoming collaborators with the extreme right and the CIA.

Former guerrilla fighters, who turned centrist and rightwing, became Cabinet Ministers or Presidents in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

El Salvadoran guerrilla commander, Joaquin Villalobos, later collaborated with the CIA and provided ‘advice’ to the ‘death squad’ President of Colombia.

The list of late 20th century traitors is long and dismal. Their policy betrayals have caused great hardship for their mass supporters who suffered socio-economic losses, political repression, arrests, torture, death and a profound distrust toward ‘left’ intellectuals, political leaders and their ‘promises’.

The 21st Century: Starting on the Left and Ending on the Right

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a revival of left regimes and political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), led by the great peasant leader Manual Marulanda, had 20,000 fighters and millions of supporters. In 1999, it had advanced to the outskirts of the Capital, Bogota. The reality today is a dramatic reversal.

In France, the Socialist Party adopted a left program and elected Francois Hollande as President in 2012. He promised to raise taxes on the rich to 75% in order to finance a massive jobs program. He promised to extend progressive labor legislation and to defend national industries. Today his credibility is near zero.

Throughout Latin America, Leftists were elected to head governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. With the possible exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, they have been ousted by their rightwing partners or opponents.

In Spain, Portugal and Greece, new radical leftist parties emerged with promises to end the brutal European Union-imposed austerity programs, and launch profound, class-based, structural transformations. Here history is repeating itself with another series of betrayals.

The Revolutionary Armed of Forces of Colombia (FARC): From Revolution to Surrender

By June 2017, the FARC leadership had disarmed its fighters, abandoning millions of peasant supporters in regions formerly under their control. The FARC’s signing of the Peace Pact with the Santos regime led to neither peace nor a real pact. Dozens of activists are already being murdered and hundreds of leftists and peasants are fleeing for their lives from death squads connected to the Santos regime. Assassinations occurred throughout the negotiation process and afterwards. Guerrilla fighters, who turned in their arms, now face kangaroo trials, while peasants who apply for agrarian reform are driven from their farms. Rank and file FARC fighters and militants are abandoned with their families in the jungle without homes, jobs and security from the death squads. US military bases and advisers remain. The entire socio-economic system is unchanged. Only the Cuba-based guerrilla ‘leaders’ are guaranteed security, two comfortable seats in Parliament– which has been denied– and the praise of the US government!

FARC leaders and chief negotiators, Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez, are clear contenders for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’.

France’s President Hollande: An Imperial Collaborator Flushed down the Toilet

President Francois Hollande’s tenure was not far behind the FARC’s betrayal. Elected President of France in 2012 under the Socialist Party, he promised to ‘tax the rich’ by 75%, extend and deepen workers’ rights, reduce unemployment, revive bankrupt industries, prevent capitalist flight and end France’s military intervention in Third World countries.

After a brief flirtation with his campaign rhetoric, President Hollande went on a pro-business and militarist rampage against his voters:

First, he deregulated business relations with labor, making it easier and quicker to fire workers.

Second, he reduced business taxes by $40 billion Euros.

Third, he imposed and then extended a draconian state of emergency following a terrorist incident. This included the banning of strikes by workers protesting his anti-labor legislation and the double-digit unemployment rate.

Fourth, Hollande launched or promoted a series of imperial wars in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

France under Francois Hollande initiated the NATO bombing of Libya, the murder of President Gadhafi, the total destruction of that nation and the uprooting of millions of Libyans and sub-Saharan African workers. This led to a massive flood of terrified refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe with tens of thousands drowning in the process.

President Holland’s neo-colonial project oversaw the expansion of French troops into Mali (destabilized by the destruction of Libya) and the Central African Republic.

A clear promoter of genocide, Hollande sold arms and sent ‘advisers’ to support Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war against impoverished Yemen.

President Hollande joined the US mercenary invasion of Syria, allowing some of France’s finest nascent jihadis to join in the slaughter. His colonial ambitions have resulted in the flight of millions of refugees into Europe and other regions.

By the end of his term of office in 2017, Holland’s popularity had declined to 4%, the lowest level of electoral approval of any President in French history! The only rational move he undertook in his entire regime was to not seek re-election.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’

Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.

Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:

1) He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.

2) He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.

3) He decreed the sharpest reduction of pensions, salaries and minimum wages in European history, while drastically increasing the cost of health care, hospitalization and drugs. He increased VAT, (consumer taxes) and tax on island imports and farm income while ‘looking the other way’ with rich tax evaders.

4) Tsipras is the only elected leader to convoke a referendum on harsh EU conditions, receive a massive mandate to reject the EU plan and then turn around and betray the Greek voters in less than a week. He even accepted more severe conditions than the original EU demands!

5) Tsipras reversed his promises to oppose EU sanctions against Russia and withdrew Greece’s historic support for the Palestinians. He signed a billion-dollar oil and gas deal with Israel which grabbed oil fields off the Gaza and Lebanon coast. Tsipras refused to oppose the US -EU bombing of Syria, and Libya – both former allies of Greece.

Tsipras, as the leader of the supposedly ‘radical left’ SYRIZA Party, leaped from left to right in the wink of an eye.

The first and most revealing indication of his turn to the right was Tsipras’ support for Greece’s continued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO during the formation of SYRIZA (2004).

SYRIZA’s ‘left’ mouthed the usual platitudes accompanying EU membership, raising vacuous ‘questions’ and ‘challenges’ while talking of ’struggles’. None of these ‘half pregnant’ phrases made sense to any observer who understood the power of the German-led oligarchs in Brussels and their strict adherence to ruling-class imposed austerity.

Secondly, SYRIZA had played a minor role, at best, in the numerous trade union general strikes and worker and student led direct action in the run-up to its electoral victory in 2015.

SYRIZA is an electoral party of the lower middle and middle class, led by upwardly mobile politicos who had few if any ties to shop-floor factory and agrarian struggles. Their biggest struggles seemed to revolve around internal factional wars over seats in Parliament!

SYRIZA was a loose collection of squabbling groups and factions, including, ‘ecology movements’, Marxist sects and traditional politicos who had floated over from the moribund, and corrupt PanHellenic Socialist Party (PASOK). SYRIZA expanded as a party at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis when the Greek economy collapsed. From 2004 to 2007 SYRIZA increased its presence in Parliament from 3.5% to only 5%. Its lack of participation in the mass struggles and its internal squabbles led to a decline in the 2009 legislative elections to 4.6% of seats.

Tsipras ensured that SYRIZA would remain in the EU, even as its self-styled ‘left wing’, the Left Platform, led by ‘Marxist academic’ Panagiotis Lafazanis, promised to “keep an open door to leaving the EU”. Alexis Tsipras was first elected to the Athens city council, where he publicly attacked corrupt and demagogic rightwing colleagues while taking private lessons in power from the oligarchy.

In 2010, the rightwing PASOK and far right New Democracy agreed to an EU dictated debt bail-out leading to massive job losses and the slashing of wages and pensions. SYRIZA, while outside of power, denounced the austerity program and gave lip-service to the massive protests. This posturing allowed SYRIZA to quadruple its representation in parliament to 16% in the 2012 election.

Tsipras welcomed corrupt ex-PASOK members and financial advisers into SYRIZA, including Yanis Varoufakis, who spent more time motorcycling to upscale bars than supporting the unemployed workers in the streets.

EU ‘memorandums’ dictated the privatization of the economy, as well as deeper cuts in education and health. These measures were implemented in shock waves from 2010 through 2013. As an opposition party, SYRIZA increased its seats 27% in 2013 … a scant 3% behind the ruling rightwing New Democracy. In September 2014, SYRIZA approved the Thessalonika Program promising to reverse austerity, rebuild and extend the welfare state, restart the economy, defend public enterprises, promote tax justice, uphold democracy (direct democracy no less!) and implement a ‘national plan’ to increase employment.

The entire debate and all the resolutions turned out to be a theatrical farce! Once in power, Tsipras never implemented a single reform promised in the Program. To consolidate his power as head of SYRIZA, Tsipras dissolved all factions and tendencies in the name of a ‘unified party’ – hardly a step toward greater democracy!

Under ‘Dear Uncle Alexis’ control, SYRIZA became an authoritarian electoral machine despite its left posturing. Tsipras insisted that Greece would remain within the EU and approved a ‘balanced budget’ contradicting all his phony campaign promises of public investments to ‘extend the welfare state’!

A new EU bailout was followed by a jump in unemployment to over 50% among youth and 30% of the entire labor force. SYRIZA won the January 25, 2015 parliamentary elections with 36.3% of the electorate. Lacking a single vote to secure a majority in parliament, SYRIZA formed an alliance with the far-right ANEL party, to which Tsipras gave the Defense Ministry.

Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras announced his plans to renegotiate Greece’s bailout and ‘austerity program’ with the EU oligarchy and the IMF. This phony posturing could not hide his impotence: Since SYRIZA was committed to staying in the EU, austerity would continue and another onerous ‘bailout’ would follow. During ‘internal meetings’, members of SYRIZA’s ‘Left Platform’ in the Cabinet called for leaving the EU, reneging the debt and forging closer ties with Russia. Despite being totally ignored and isolated, they stayed on as impotent ‘token leftist’ Cabinet Ministers.

With Tsipras now free to impose neo-liberal market policies, billions of Euros flowed out of Greece and its own banks and businesses remained in crisis. Both Tsipras and the ‘Left Platform’ refused to mobilize SYRIZA’s mass base, which had voted for action and demanded an end to austerity. The media’s gadfly, Finance Minister Varoufakis, put on a sideshow with grand theatrical gestures of disapproval. These were openly dismissed by the EU-IMF oligarchy as the antics of an impotent Mediterranean clown.

Superficial as ever, the Canadian, US, European left-wing academics were largely unaware of SYRIZA’s political history, its opportunist composition, electoral demagogy and total absence from real class struggle. They continued to blather about SYRIZA as Greece’s ‘radical left’ government and attended its PR functions. When SYRIZA flagrantly embraced the EU’s most savage cutbacks against Greek workers and their living standards affecting everyday life, the highly paid, distinguished professors finally spoke of SYRIZA’s ‘mistakes’ and ladled the ‘radical left’ from this stew of opportunists! Their grand speaking tours to Greece were over and they flitted off to support other ’struggles’.

As the summer of 2015 approached, Prime Minister Tsipras moved ever closer to the entire EU austerity agenda. ‘Dear Alexis’ dumped Finance Minister Varoufakis, whose histrionics had irked Germany’s Finance Minister. Euclid Tsakalotos , another ‘radical’ leftist, took over as Finance Minister, but turned out to be a malleable lieutenant for Tsipras, willing to implement any and all EU-imposed austerity measures without the antics.

By July 2015, Tsipras and SYRIZA accepted a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU. This rejected SYRIZA’s entire Thessalonika Program proclaimed a year earlier. The entire population, and SYRIZA’s rank and file members grew angrier, demanding an end to austerity. While approving a ‘belt tightening’ austerity program for his electoral mass base throughout the summer of 2015, Tsipras and his family lived in luxury in a villa generously loaned by a Greek plutocrat, far from the soup lines and hovels of the unemployed and destitute.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras implemented policies earning him the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’. His was a duplicitous strategy: On July 5, 2015, he convoked a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s bailout conditions. Thinking his ‘pro-EU’ supporters would vote ‘Yes’, he intended to use the referendum as a mandate to impose new austerity measures. Tsipras misjudged the people: Their vote was an overwhelming repudiation of the harsh austerity program dictated by the oligarchs in Brussels.

Over 61% of the Greek people voted ‘no’ while merely 38%voted in favor of the bailout conditions. This was not limited to Athens: A majority in every region of the country rejected the EU dictates – an unprecedented outcome! Over 3.56 million Greeks demanded an end to austerity. Tsipras was ‘admittedly surprised’ . . . and disappointed! He secretly and stupidly thought the referendum would give him a free hand to impose austerity. He put on his usual grin as the voting results were announced.

Less than a week later, on July 13, Tsipras renounced the results of his own referendum and announced his government’s support for the EU bailout. Perhaps to punish the Greek voters, Tsipras backed an even harsher austerity scheme than the one rejected in his referendum! He drastically slashed public pensions, imposed massive regressive tax hikes and cut public services by $12 billion euros. Tsipras agreed to the infamous ‘Judas memorandum’ of July 2015, which increased the regressive general consumer tax (VAT) to 23%, a 13% food tax, a sharp increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs and tuition fees, and postponed the retirement age by five years to 67.

Tsipras continued on his ‘historic’ rampage over the suffering Greek people throughout 2016 and 2017. His regime privatized over 71,500 public properties, including the historic patrimony. Only the Acropolis was spared the auction block…. for now! The resulting unemployment drove over 300,000 skilled and educated Greeks to migrate. Pensions slashed to 400 Euros led to malnutrition and a three-fold rise in suicides.

Despite these grotesque social consequences the German bankers and the regime of Angela Merkel refused to reduce the debt payments. Prime Minister Tsipras’ groveling had no effect.

Sharp tax hikes on farm fuels and transport to tourist islands led to constant marches and strikes in cities, factories, fields and highways.

By January 2017 Tsipras had lost half of his electorate. He responded with repression: gassing and beating elderly Greeks protesting their poverty pensions. Three-dozen trade unionists, already acquitted by the courts, were re-tried by Tsipras’ prosecutors in a vicious ’show trial’. Tsipras supported the US-NATO attacks on Syria, the sanctions against Russia and the billion-dollar energy and military agreements with Israel.

Short of the Nazi occupation (1941-44) and Anglo-Greek civil war of (1945-49), the Greek people had not experienced such a precipitous decline of their living standards since the Ottomans. This catastrophe occurred under the Tsipras regime, vassal to the Brussels oligarchy.

European, Canadian and US leftist academic tourists had ‘advised’ SYRIZA to remain in the EU. When the disastrous consequences of their ‘policy advice’ became clear… they merely turned to advising other ’struggles’ with their phony ’socialist forums’.

Conclusions

The betrayals by ‘Leftist’ and ‘radical leftist’ leaders are partly due to their common practices as politicians making pragmatic deals in parliament. In other cases, former extra-parliamentary and guerrilla leaders were faced with isolation and pressure from neighboring ‘left’ regimes to submit to imperial ‘peace accords’, as in the case of the FARC. Confronting the massive build-up of the US supplied and advised armies of the oligarchs, they folded and betrayed their mass supporters.

The electoral framework within the EU encouraged leftist collaboration with class enemies – especially German bankers, NATO powers, the US military and the IMF.

From its origins SYRIZA refused to break with the EU and its authoritarian structure. From its first day of government, it accepted even the most demonstrably illegal private and public debts accumulated by the corrupt right-wing PASOK and New Democracy regimes. As a result SYRIZA was reduced to begging.

Early on SYRIZA could have declared its independence, saved its public resources, rejected its predecessors’ illegal debts, invested its savings in new jobs programs, redefined its trade relations, established a national currency and devalued the drachma to make Greece more flexible and competitive. In order to break the chains of vassalage and foreign oligarch imposed austerity, Greece would need to exit the EU, renounce its debt and launch a productive socialist economy based on self-managed co-operatives.

Despite his electoral mandate, the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras followed the destructive path of Soviet leader Michel Gorbachev, betraying his people in order to continue down the blind ally of submission and decay.

While several leaders offer stiff competition for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’, Alexis Tsipras’ betrayal has been longer, more profound and continues to this day. He broke more promises and reversed more popular mandates (elections and referendums) more quickly than any other traitor. Moreover nothing short of a generation will allow the Greeks to recover left politics. The left has been devastated by the monstrous lies and complicity of Tsipras’ former ‘left critics’.

Greece’s accumulated debt obligations will require at least a century to play out – if the country can even survive. Without question, Alexis Tsipras is the ‘Traitor of the Year’ by unanimous vote!!!

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UAE Zio-Wahhabi regime expands military presence in Africa, Mideast

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The United Arab Emirates is quietly expanding its military presence into Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East, a US report says.

According to the Associated Press, the UAE has new overseas bases on the African continent after deploying expeditionary forces to Yemen and Afghanistan.

The UAE is taking part in a Saudi war on Yemen to restore a former government to power, which has killed about 12,000 people so far.

Yemeni sources have revealed that the United Arab Emirates is trying to establish control over the strategic island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea, which Yemen’s CIA puppet Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had rented out to the Persian Gulf kingdom for nearly a century.

According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, the UAE is building an airstrip on Perim or Mayun Island, a volcanic island in Yemen that sits in a waterway between Eritrea and Djibouti in the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait.

UAE military bases in Africa

The UAE has also been building up a military presence in the Eritrean port of Assab, the US-based private intelligence firm Stratfor has said.

Satellite images show new construction at a once-deserted airfield, which Stratfor links to the UAE. It also reported development at the port and the deployment of tanks and aircraft, including warplanes, helicopters and drones.

“The scale of the undertaking suggests that the UAE military is in Eritrea for more than just a short-term logistical mission supporting operations across the Red Sea,”  Stratfor said in December.

South of Eritrea, the UAE agreed with the authorities of Somalia’s breakaway northern territory of Somaliland in February to open a naval base in the port town of Berbera.

Previously, the UAE international ports operator DP World reached an agreement to manage Somaliland’s largest port nearby.

Moreover, the UAE is suspected of launching air raids in Libya and operating out of a small air base in the North African country’s east, near the Egyptian border.

The seven-state federation also deployed special forces troops in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks to support the US-led alleged war against the Taliban.

The UAE, currently, hosts Western forces, including American and French forces, at its military bases.

The UAE has seen its military grow in recent years. Back in 2011, it confirmed working with private military contractors, including a firm reportedly tied to Erik Prince, the founder of the infamous US security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, to build up its military.

The Associated Press also cited Colombia’s media reports as saying that Colombian mercenaries were serving in the UAE’s military.

In 2014, the UAE introduced compulsory military service for all Emirati males aged between 18 and 30. The training is optional for Emirati women.

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The Haircut (2017) – A North Korean Adventure

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Boy Boy

The isolated, hermit kingdom of the DPRK is shrowded in secrecy, It’s nearly impossible to get any reliable information from behind the bamboo curtain. Nonetheless, every week, on T.V. and online, we are bombarded by the bizzare media-spectacle of North Korea. From nuclear apocalypse and prison camps to banned sarcasm and compulsory identical haircuts – any shred of information regarding North Korea becomes a viral media hit, regardless of how dubious the story is.

But that’s all about to change.

Two Aussie boys decided to take matters into their own hands and go to North Korea to find out the truth for themselves. Join us as we look past the clickbait and unpack the forces behind the way our media represents the “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea”.

– Warning – Graphic Content

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Nazi regime denies compensation to family of toddler burned to death

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Palestine Information Center 

Nazi regime will not pay ‘terror’ victims compensation to Ahmed Dawabsha, a Palestinian boy whose parents and brother were killed in a 2015 arson attack carried out on their home by Nazi Jewish settlers, Nazi war minister Avigdor Lieberman told a Knesset member in an official correspondence on the issue.

Writing to Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabareen in response to a question as to why the now-orphaned Ahmed has not yet received money from ‘Israel’, Lieberman said the 6-year-old, who was badly injured in the attack, does not qualify as a “terror victim” and will therefore not receive compensation.

According to the Times of ‘Israel’ daily, the current law stipulates that ‘Israel’ must compensate Israeli’s affected by terrorism, but does not apply to Palestinians “who are not citizens or residents of Israel,” Lieberman wrote.

In January 2016, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein rejected a request from Jabareen for Dawabsha to be recognized as a terror victim.

“The compensation should be a right, not a gift,” he claimed. “The state needs to give him full compensation due to the severe incident he has suffered.”

Jabareen said the family would now “turn to the courts” in order to seek both recognition and compensation for Dawabsha.

Two homes in Duma, south of Nablus, were set alight in the July 31 attack. In the attack, Ali Dawabsha,18 months old, was burned to death and father Saad Dawabsha, his wife Riham and their son Ahmad, who was four at the time, were critically injured. Saad died in August and Riham in September. The only surviving member of the family, Ahmed, received months of treatment for severe burns.

Responding to Lieberman’s letter, Jabareen accused the war minister of implementing a racist policy towards the Palestinians.

“The defense minister’s position is based on racial discrimination,” Jabareen said in a statement. “If we were talking about Jewish settlers hurt by Palestinians, the victims would automatically receive compensation.”

The attack caused massive outrage in the occupied Palestinian territories and around the world.

In January 2016, a 21-year-old Jewish Nazi settler—Amiram Ben-Uliel—and an unnamed 16-year-old minor were indicted for carrying out the Duma terror attack.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi regime denies compensation to family of toddler burned to death

Hamas outlines its vision for Palestine in the 21st century

NOVANEWS
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By Dr Daud Abdullah | MEMO

One hundred years of oppression have not diminished or erased the Palestinian hope for freedom. Throughout this year, 2017, they are marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which started their tragedy. The occasion is about the past, as well as the future. And, it is in this context that the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas has launched its new General Policies and Principles Document.

When Hamas issued its founding Charter in August 1988, the occupied territories were in the grip of the First Intifada (uprising). Both the content and tone of its message was then largely one for its followers and the “stone-throwing generation” who had risen up against the occupation. Thirty years on, things have changed drastically. The occupation has become more inhumane while transforming itself into a system of apartheid rule. A new political framework is, therefore, needed to give not just hope, but direction to the Palestinian people as well.

Politics aside, Hamas is plainly positioning itself to occupy the moral high-ground left vacant by other national forces. The leadership which brokered the ill-fated Oslo Accords two decades ago still remains in power; albeit now discredited and mistrusted by large sections of Palestinian society. Despite their best efforts, they seem incapable of shaking off the image of a self-serving and corrupt elite.

Rightfully, Palestinians yearn for an all embracing and inclusive leadership; one that honours their sacrifices, respects their will and pursues their legitimate rights. With this in mind Hamas has carefully framed its General Policies Document in a language that resonates with Palestinians of all political and religious persuasions. While affirming a willingness to recognise a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, Hamas, nonetheless, remains committed to its declared objective of a free Palestine, from Naqurra in the north to Rashrash in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

No doubt, some may argue that this new document has been long overdue. The truth, however, is that Hamas has over the years shown a capacity to critique its political positions and explore options that were not mentioned in its founding Charter as long as they did not compromise national interests. Hence, while still in prison Sheikh Ahmad Yassin proposed a long-term cessation of hostilities (hudnah) with Israel for the first time in 1994. In 1997 he told the Associated Press that Hamas would accept a ten-year truce if Israel would withdraw its troops and settlers from all of the West Bank and Gaza.

Similarly, Dr Abdel Aziz Rantissi, another founding leader of the movement, told Reuters on 27 January 2004: “We accept a state in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We propose a 10-year truce in return for [Israeli] withdrawal and the establishment of a state.” Two years later, in May 2006, these very ideas were adopted in the document that came to be known as the National Conciliation Document of the Palestinian prisoners. It was signed by representatives of the four largest Palestinian factions: Marwan Barghouthi of Fatah, Sheikh Abdel Khaliq Al-Natsche of Hamas, Sheikh Bassam Al-Saadi of Islamic Jihad and Abdel Rahim Malouh of the PFLP.

Many of the points embodied in the Prisoners Document such as the acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, the right of return and the right to resist are all now asserted in Hamas’ new General Policies Document. Having signed up to the Prisoners Document Hamas has, furthermore, demonstrated a willingness to be part of a national project that secures the rights of all Palestinians and not only its supporters.

Since the Lebanese-based Al-Mayadeen TV station published a leaked draft copy of the new document cynics have wasted no time searching for contradictions and compromises. Apart from the issue of a state within the 1967 borders, they point to the fact that whereas the founding Charter identified the movement as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood this new General Policies Document makes no such mention. Nor does it deny its ideological links with the Brotherhood. As for any supposed organisational connection and the co-ordination of political strategies within a unified leadership, that was never the case. Indeed, what Hamas does in its new General Policies Document is to identify itself as a national liberation movement.

Hamas of 2017 is a significantly different body from what existed in the late 20th century. Today, for better or worse, it finds itself in a position where it has to administer the Gaza Strip and provide jobs and social services for its two million people. Its regional and international standing has also changed. Hence it has to respond to all the challenges that these entail. Foremost among these is to maintain adherence to its strategic political positions such as the right to resist, non-recognition of Israel and adherence to the liberation of Mandatory Palestine. At the same time, it has to avoid being crippled by ideological dogma.

The new General Policies Document is an attempt to do just this. Its completion shows an honesty to acknowledge and correct errors. For example, in 1988 the founding Charter framed the conflict in these words;  “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious.” This is manifestly wrong. The conflict has always been one between the Palestinian people and the Zionist colonisers who conquered Palestine and now occupy it.

Hamas’ founding Charter was written in the last quarter of the 20th century. Politics is never static anywhere; and it certainly is not in Palestine. Conditions change rapidly. The wider region is itself in a state of continuous flux where alliances are formed and broken. By taking this audacious step to write this new General Policies and Principles Document Hamas is laying out its vision for Palestine in the 21st century. One that would guide and enable the Palestinian people to liberate their land and enjoy the security and freedom from oppression and discrimination that they richly deserve. It is a vision and framework to create opportunities that would ultimately lead to the control and development of their natural resources, as well as realise their full human potential.

Is there any justification to deny them these fundamental human rights?

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Above the law: I$raHell’s non-implementation of UN resolutions on Occupied Palestine

NOVANEWS
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Half a century has elapsed since Israel established its brutal occupation of Palestine, and almost seven decades have passed since the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, which constitutes the beginning of discrimination, dispossession and displacement for Palestinians and their persistent suffering. Since then, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have figured prominently on the United Nations (UN) agenda. Nonetheless, the plight of the Palestinians continues.

In the light of this, Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) has commissioned a report – “Above the Law: Israel’s Non-Implementation of UN Resolutions”. The report assesses Israel’s implementation of resolutions concerning Palestine and Palestinian rights adopted by the main UN bodies – the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and ECOSOC – from 1948 to 2017. The 330 page study builds on assessment by UN experts, governments and civil society actors, and draws on field observations in Palestine. It focuses on six selected thematic areas, which are periodically addressed in UN resolutions:

  1. Palestinians’ right to self-determination
  2. Legal, geographic and demographic status of Occupied Palestine
  3. Palestinian refugees and displaced persons
  4. Governance, natural resources and economy
  5. Militarisation and military operations
  6. Palestinians’ human rights

The main finding of the study is that Israel has blatantly disregarded all UN resolutions criticising its illegal activities and their dire consequences for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people since 1948. The study also finds that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is intricately linked with its apartheid system. Israel’s distinction between Jewish nationality and the “citizenship” or “residence” statuses of Palestinians forms the basis for discrimination against Palestinians. This system is also interlinked with Israel’s increasingly anti-democratic policies and practices targeting political opponents, including Jewish Israeli dissidents.

The right to self-determination

The report shows that the groundwork for Israel’s illegal policies and practices characteristic of colonialism and apartheid was laid almost seven decades ago, with the 1948 Nakba. Overriding the partition resolution, Israel had extended its borders beyond the UN-designated partition lines and annexed West Jerusalem, which had been envisaged as a city under an international regime. After having imposed its military occupation on the remaining territory of Palestine in 1967, Israel furthered administrative and legislative measures aimed at establishing permanent control over occupied Palestine, notably through its settlement policy. In recent years, Israel has taken actions subverting Palestinian self-determination in retaliation for explicit recognition of this right by the international community.

Legal, geographic and demographic status

Pursuant to its establishment in 1948, Israel was quick to develop the legislative framework for the expropriation of Palestinian land and property for the sake of Jewish settlement – first within Israel and from 1967 onwards in occupied Palestine – in an effort to alter the character, status and demography of historic Palestine illegally. On grounds of discriminatory domestic property laws, military orders and an apartheid zoning and planning regime, Israel has unabatedly confiscated Palestinian land and expropriated or demolished Palestinian property inside Israel and in occupied Palestine to construct and consolidate illegal Jewish settlements. These measures run counter to innumerable UN resolutions determining that Israel’s construction of settlements has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. Rather than constituting a novel policy, Israel’s retroactive “legalisation” of outposts hitherto considered illegal even under Israeli law, which allow for the expropriation of private Palestinian land, is a continuation of longstanding violations.

The settlement policy, in conjunction with the erection of physical obstacles, undermines the contiguity of Palestine and fragments Palestinian communities in small disconnected enclaves controlled by the Occupying Power and surrounded by massive Israeli settlement blocs, walls, checkpoints and vast security zones and roads for the exclusive benefit of Israeli settlers. Appeals by the international community, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ), dissolved into thin air in the face of Israel’s unabashed settlement and Wall construction, which deepened the fragmentation of Palestinian land and tore families apart.

The report, moreover, reveals how Israeli activities since 1948 have eroded the traditional status of Jerusalem as the centre of Palestinian political, cultural and social life and continue to subvert the future status of East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.

Refugees and displaced persons

Notwithstanding landmark General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 and Security Council resolution 237 of 14 June 1967, as well as innumerable related resolutions, Israel persists in its denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons, particularly their right of return. In the absence of a just solution, many face immense suffering and deplorable conditions under occupation and in exile marked by vulnerability, dispossession and perilous socioeconomic situations. Israel’s population transfer and recurrent military operations result in incessant displacement among the Palestinian population, for which accountability and compensation remain absent.

Governance, natural resources and the economy

A further thematic area of UN resolutions whose implementation is assessed is Israel’s interference with or obstruction of Palestinian governance, economy, social development and infrastructure, which violate Palestinian political, social and economic rights.

Governance: After 1967, Israeli military forces attacked, detained or deported Palestinian politicians and attacked or closed down government institutions. The Oslo Accords entrenched the political occupation because the Palestinian Authority became dependent on Israeli funding and bound by the provisions of the agreement. Until today, Israel continues to interfere in Palestinian governance through, inter alia, the withholding of funds, the prevention of development projects, the closing down of institutions and offices, the curbing of political activity and the restriction on movement of Palestinian government officials.

Natural resources: The discriminatory system of control over Palestinian resources lies at the heart of Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian natural resources for the benefit of the Israeli economy and population, including settlers. Israel’s closure policy and movement restrictions further obstruct Palestinians’ use of their own natural resources.

Economy, social development and infrastructure: Israel lost no time in gearing the Palestinian economy towards Israeli interests. Under the 1994 Paris Protocol, Palestinian economic dependency on the Occupying Power became entrenched. Israeli restriction on the movement of people and goods, rigorous sanctions, the discriminatory zoning and planning regime, military actions and the suffocating blockade on Gaza have devastated the Palestinian economy and caused lasting socioeconomic hardship as well as a protracted humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Militarisation and military operations

The continued refusal of Israel to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention since 1967 created a situation in which a defenceless civilian population faces a vast and powerful military sustained financially by the Israeli state and supported by the Israeli government on a daily basis. Israel persists in its prolonged military occupation and frequent devastating operations, particularly in Gaza, marked by excessive use of force affecting Palestinian civilians disproportionately. These cause unquantifiable loss and suffering, further deprive the Palestinian people of a dignified life and deepen despair.

Human rights

The widespread violations by Israel against the Palestinian people constitute the longest outstanding, serious human rights issues on the UN agenda. Regardless of repeated appeals by the international community since 1967 to apply its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in occupied Palestine, Israel has entrenched its deliberate, organised and institutionalised violations of Palestinians’ human rights, which have been criticised regularly in UN resolutions:

  • The use of excessive and often lethal force by Israeli occupying forces and the failure to prevent settler violence violate Palestinians’ fundamental right to life.
  • Israel continues to conduct large-scale arbitrary arrests and detention under untenable conditions of imprisonment and under the use of torture, to impose collective punishment, most deplorably in the form of its blockade on the entire population of Gaza, and to displace and deport Palestinians forcibly.
  • The Occupying Power arbitrarily and violently interferes with the right to property by destroying homes and vital infrastructure on the basis of discriminatory laws, military orders and an apartheid zoning and planning scheme.
  • Severely infringing on Palestinian freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and the right to participate in public and political life, Israel, inter alia, closes down institutions, disperses peaceful protests violently and arrests human rights defenders.
  • Israel limits Palestinians’ right to education, inter alia, through restrictions on school development, demolitions and closing down of educational institutions, movement restrictions, military raids and settler violence.
  • Restricting freedom of movement, Israel imposes curfews on entire areas and has constructed and maintains the Wall, the system of checkpoints and other physical obstacles and the associated permit regime.
  • Undermining the right to residence and family life, Israel enacts discriminatory laws governing entry and residence as well as family reunification, and perpetuates practices that discriminate against the Palestinian population, inter alia, the denial and revocation of residency statuses.
  • The Occupying Power, furthermore, violates the freedom of religion and worship, notably through access restrictions and “archaeological excavations” imperilling the maintenance of Holy Places. Frequent incursions, provocations and incitement by government officials, religious leaders, occupying forces and extremist settlers violate the historic status quo and sanctity of Holy Sites.
  • Through its policies and practices, Israel deprives Palestinians of the right to an adequate standard of living. Its actions imperil livelihoods, heighten poverty and food insecurity, deny Palestinians social services, restrict access quality medical care and have hurled Gaza into an entrenched humanitarian crisis.

General assessment

While Israel has continued to defy international law and human rights law with utmost impunity throughout almost seven decades, Palestinians see their inalienable rights disintegrate in the face of prolonged occupation, asymmetrical warfare, power politics and political expediency. The unrelenting efforts by several UN Member States to introduce necessary forcible measures under UN Charter Chapter VII through the Security Council to force Israel to comply with its international obligations have been blocked repeatedly by the veto of the United States.

The report concludes that the only way to end violations in the region is to dismember the brutal system of occupation. The liberation of Palestinians from the shackles of occupation and apartheid and the dissolution of discrimination against ethnic and increasingly political minorities within Israel would give way to real democracy and just peace in the region. To finally achieve this aim, all actors who are genuinely concerned about human rights and peace must act as a united front to bring to an end an inhumane system that threatens the humanity of, and justice for, all of us.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on Above the law: I$raHell’s non-implementation of UN resolutions on Occupied Palestine

The silence of the pseudo-left on the danger of war

NOVANEWS
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By Eric London | Defend Democracy Press 

A wide range of nominally left-wing political groups and publications have acquiesced to a series of dangerous military actions by the Trump administration that have brought the world to the brink of war.

On April 13, the US dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in history in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb weighs over 10 tons and is so destructive it reportedly obliterated the homes of peasants living several miles from the drop zone.

Four days later, Vice President Michael Pence traveled to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula, where the US has threatened to use preemptive military force against the nuclear-armed North. Pence acknowledged that the MOAB bombing was aimed at proving that the US was prepared to go to war.

“Just in the past two weeks,” he declared, “the world witnessed the strength of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

The growing danger of a nuclear conflagration is widely felt. A Marist poll published this month shows that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about growing international tensions. Leading figures in Russia, China, North Korea and the United States have warned of the real possibility of war.

“Nuclear war has become thinkable again,” reads a headline in Monday’s Guardian. The New York Times’ April 17 editorial warns of “President Trump’s Loose Talk on North Korea,” while the Times news section compares tensions in East Asia to the Cuban missile crisis. Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman wrote an article titled, “Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and the risk of nuclear miscalculation.”

All the more remarkable is the role played by various political groups that identify themselves as left-wing but have maintained an intentional silence with regard to the dropping of the MOAB and the threat of war in Korea. These groups hide the threat of war from their readers and provide political cover for US imperialism.

Not a single article relating to these events appears on the front page of Jacobin Magazine’s website, nor does its official Facebook page make any reference to the MOAB attack or the recent US threats against Korea. There are no references to the MOAB or rising tensions in North Korea on the front page of the Pabloite International Viewpoint website.

Similarly, Socialist Alternative’s website has no articles dealing in any detail with the bombing or US moves against North Korea. One article from April 15 titled “Trump administration damaged and unpredictable” includes a one-sentence reference to the MOAB in the 13th paragraph, while North Korea is addressed only briefly later in the article.

It is the most basic obligation of socialists to condemn and oppose US war threats and warn the working class of the dangers and root causes of imperialist war.

The front page of Socialist Worker, the publication of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has no references to the dropping of the MOAB, and only on Tuesday did it publish its first article of the year relating to North Korea.

At no point in the article (“Will Trump start a new Korean War?”) does the writer, David Whitehouse, state that the ISO is opposed to the American government’s provocative war threats. It instead reports the potential outbreak of nuclear war as a disinterested observer, including 20 hyperlinks to various reports in the bourgeois press, including five from the New York Times alone.

Whitehouse refers to Washington’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea as a “sticky issue.” He reports US-South Korean joint war games, as well as proposals to assassinate North Korean leaders and launch preemptive strikes, but passes over them without making any critical comment.

The article downplays the danger of war. It begins, “Now that the latest North Korean missile test failed on April 16, the immediate risk of a US military attack may fade.” It comments further on that “Trump’s ‘new’ belligerence toward North Korea is really the latest oscillation between the twin options of ‘containment’ or ‘rollback’ that have lain in the US policy toolkit since the Cold War.”

Whitehouse complacently asserts that the likelihood of US military intervention is lower than some claim: “Trump can talk a tougher line, but US military options have begun looking weaker, not stronger, since the North’s three-decade arms build-up.”

Fifteen years after the mass protests leading up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pseudo-left’s support for war shows that the present absence of an organized antiwar movement is not the product of popular apathy. Rather, it is due to the rightward shift of previously radicalized sections of the middle class whose opposition to war has disappeared in the decades following the Vietnam War.

This section of the population has greatly enriched itself since the late 1960s and early 1970s, in part from the spoils of the wars of the past quarter century that have inflated the stock market and enriched American banks and corporations. Their political orientation is toward the Democratic Party and the state.

This weekend, many representatives of this milieu will be gathering at New York University for the Historical Materialism forum. Sponsors and participants include Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara as well as historians Lars Lih and Eric Blanc. The ISO’s International Socialist Review is an event sponsor and ISO members Paul Le Blanc, Tithi Bhattacharya, Todd Chretien and Paul Heideman will appear as speakers.

Of the 60 scheduled panels, not a single one relates to the subject of war. The words “imperialism,” “war,” “Iraq,” “North Korea,” “Afghanistan,” “Libya” and “Somalia” do not appear in any panel title.

Instead, the NYU panel features discussion topics such as “Queer(ing) Marxism,” “Women’s Strikes in the Age of Feminization,” “The International Women’s Strike and the Anticapitalist Feminist Movement,” “Silencing the Subaltern: Resistance & Gender in Postcolonial Theory,” “Concerning Violence: Subjections, Resistance, Subversions,” “Adorno: Subjectivity and Critique,” “New Directions in Marxist/Feminist Theory,” “Race, Repetition, Rebellion: The Political Economy of Surplus,” and “Late Althusser: Politics and Theoretical Practice.”

Any connections that the radicalized middle class once had to anti-imperialism or socialism are long gone. The categories of analysis they employ have nothing to do with class or historical materialism. War, social inequality and poverty all take a back seat to what really interests them: race, gender and their own sex lives.

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Big Brother Is Still Watching You: Don’t Fall for the NSA’s Latest Ploy

NOVANEWS

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By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute 

“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984

Supposedly the National Security Administration is going to stop collecting certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target.

Privacy advocates are hailing it as a major victory for Americans whose communications have been caught in the NSA’s dragnet.

If this is a victory, it’s a hollow victory.

Here’s why.

Since its creation in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency has been covertly spying on Americans, listening in on their phone calls, reading their mail, and monitoring their communications.

For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”

Not even the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated, managed to curtail the NSA’s illegal activities.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails.

Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.

It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.

What this brief history makes clear is that the NSA cannot be reformed.

This is an agency whose very existence—unaccountable and lacking any degree of transparency—flies in the face of the Constitution.

Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the NSA has continued to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.

As long as the government is allowed to make a mockery of the law—be it the Constitution, the FISA law, or any other law intended to limit its reach and curtail its activities—and is permitted to operate behind closed doors, relaying on secret courts, secret budgets and secret interpretations of the laws of the land, there will be no reform.

Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have done much to put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.”

The beast has outgrown its chains. It will not be restrained.

Moreover, even if the NSA could be reformed, the problem of government surveillance goes far beyond the criminal activities of this one agency.

In fact, long before the NSA became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace. Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people.

Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

Corporate trackers monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere. For example, every time you use a loyalty card at the grocery store or elsewhere, your purchases are being monitored, mined for data, and sold to the highest bidder. Every time you use your credit or debit card, or your digital “wallet,” your transactions are being tracked. Uber’s ride service app knows where you are even when you are not actively using the service. Even store mannequins are being used to monitor and identify shoppers with facial recognition software.

Major cities are being transformed into “Smart Cities” filled with sensors in everything from pavement to lamp posts, and all of that data is being linked together to monitor the day-to-day lives of everyone in them. In some cities, even the sewage is being monitored and could potentially be used to find out what drugs a household may have used.

All of your medical data in the near future will be constantly monitored, and while the data is supposed to only be shared with your doctor, in practice it will be accessible by any number of government and private actors.  Microchips in “smart pills” can communicate with tablet devices to ensure the elderly take their medications already exist. And a transponder injected into the skin that contains a person’s entire medical history has been approved by the FDA.  Wearable health-monitoring devices likewise can be used to monitor you, and the information collected can be used in a court of law.  Smart toothbrushes can monitor your brushing habits and communicate them to your dentist, or anyone else.  Smart alarm clocks can monitor your sleep habits.

Like all other devices relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) to communicate, these can be hacked into by government and private corporations.

The “internet of things” refers to the growing number of “smart” appliances and electronic devices now connected to the internet and capable of interacting with each other and being controlled remotely. These range from thermostats and coffee makers to cars and TVs.

Of course, there’s a price to pay for such easy control and access. That price amounts to relinquishing ultimate control of and access to your home to the government and its corporate partners. For example, while Samsung’s Smart TVs are capable of “listening” to what you say, thereby allow users to control the TV using voice commands, it also records everything you say and relays it to a third party. Same goes for Amazon’s Echo.

“Smart houses” filled with IoT-capable devices are just starting to come into play, but by 2020 Samsung pledges that all of its devices, including its household appliances, will be IoT capable.  Such products include ovens, microwaves, vacuums (including robot vacuums), refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers, as well as smart hubs which coordinate everything.  Coffee makers and toasters are also being made IoT compatible.

Smart TVs seemingly out of Orwell’s 1984 will also collect data and spy on you.  Modern gaming consoles likewise have internet connections, and those with cameras can be used to spy like any smartphone or computer.  Smart power outlets can turn your lights on and off remotely, and smart thermostats work similarly.

All of them monitor when you’re at home or not, as can smart home security systems.  Wi-Fi routers can even monitor the inside of your home and distinguish between different individuals in the house, while reading their lips to “hear” what they say.  Other forms of home monitoring systems for the elderly can be hacked and used by anyone.

Already the web-enabled “Hello Barbie” doll has been the center of a hacking controversy, in which security experts disclosed a number of significant security flaws with the toy.  Other smart objects include smart golf clubs, which monitor the speed, acceleration, and swing plane of your golf swing, smart shoes which track your location and can guide you on where to go. Tostitos has even unveiled a promotional smart bag of chips which can tell you if you’ve been drinking too much.

That doesn’t even begin to touch on all of the government’s many methods of spying on its citizens. For instance, police have been using Stingray devices mounted on their cruisers to intercept cell phone calls and text messages without court-issued search warrants.

Doppler radar devices, which can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, are already being employed by the police to peer inside a suspect’s home.

License plate readers, yet another law enforcement spying device made possible through funding by the Department of Homeland Security, can record up to 1800 license plates per minute. These surveillance devices can also photograph those inside a moving car. Recent reports indicate that the DEA has been using license plate readers in conjunction with facial recognition software to build a “vehicle surveillance database” of the nation’s cars, drivers and passengers.

Sidewalk and “public space” cameras, sold to gullible communities as a sure-fire means of fighting crime, is yet another DHS program that is blanketing small and large towns alike with government-funded and monitored surveillance cameras. It’s all part of a public-private partnership that gives government officials access to all manner of surveillance cameras, on sidewalks, on buildings, on buses, even those installed on private property.

Couple these surveillance cameras with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology and you have the makings of “pre-crime” cameras, which scan your mannerisms, compare you to pre-set parameters for “normal” behavior, and alert the police if you trigger any computerized alarms as being “suspicious.”

Capitalizing on a series of notorious abductions of college-aged students, several states are pushing to expand their biometric and DNA databases by requiring that anyone accused of a misdemeanor have their DNA collected and catalogued. Technology is already available that allows the government to collect biometrics such as fingerprints from a distance, without a person’s cooperation or knowledge. One system can actually scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away.

Radar guns have long been the speed cop’s best friend, allowing him to hide out by the side of the road, identify speeding cars, and then radio ahead to a police car, which does the dirty work of pulling the driver over and issuing a ticket. Now, developers are hard at work on a radar gun that can actually show if you or someone in your car is texting. No word yet on whether the technology will also be able to detect the contents of that text message.

It’s a sure bet that anything the government welcomes (and funds) too enthusiastically is bound to be a Trojan horse full of nasty surprises. Case in point: police body cameras. Hailed as the easy fix solution to police abuses, these body cameras—made possible by funding from the Department of Justice—are turning police officers into roving surveillance cameras. Of course, if you try to request access to that footage, you’ll find yourself being led a merry and costly chase through miles of red tape, bureaucratic footmen and unhelpful courts.

And the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cellphone and record your conversations. The FBI can also do the same thing to laptop computers without the owner knowing any better.

Government surveillance of social media such as Twitter and Facebook is also on the rise. Americans have become so accustomed to the government overstepping its limits that most don’t even seem all that bothered anymore about the fact that the government is spying on our emails and listening in on our phone calls.

Drones, which are taking to the skies en masse, will be the converging point for all of the weapons and technology already available to law enforcement agencies. This means drones that can listen in on your phone calls, see through the walls of your home, scan your biometrics, photograph you and track your movements, and even corral you with sophisticated weaponry.

It’s a given that the government’s tactics are always more advanced than we know, so there’s no knowing what new technologies are already being deployed against us without our knowledge. Certainly, by the time we learn about a particular method of surveillance or new technological gadget, it’s a sure bet that the government has been using it covertly for years already.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’ve all become suspects, a.k.a. potential criminals.

As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

This is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, and probation officer.

So don’t get too excited about the NSA’s latest concession.

It won’t stop Big Brother from watching you.

Posted in USAComments Off on Big Brother Is Still Watching You: Don’t Fall for the NSA’s Latest Ploy

Is the US Preparing for a Nuclear Strike – Or For a WMD False-Flag…?

NOVANEWS

With all the current talk and bluster concerning North Korea, nuclear weapons and possible war, the arrival of a massive drill/exercise in the US has excited the interest of a number of conspiracy theorists.

From April 18th right through to May 5th, a ‘major nuclear detonation drill’ has been widely reported, taking place in the New York/New Jersey area and apparently involving a number of federal, state and local organisations. Called ‘Operation Gotham Shield’, the exercise is said to involve 4 nuclear devices and is presented as a preparation/simulation of a nuclear incident.

The multi agency exercise involves FEMA, Homeland Security and various law enforcement and military agencies. Response units for chemical and biological weapons and WMDs are being tested in this exercise. The U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, FBI, FEMA, NORTHCOM and others are specified as being involved in the operations.

Spokespeople for the simulation operation have said the exercises have nothing to do with current events, but were planned long in advance. However, given the current tensions between the US and North Korea (with all the accompanying talk of potential nuclear strikes), a suspicious mind would be prompted to wonder if the exercise might not be coincidental.

The exercise could be a preparation/drill for an expected or feared event – such as a North Korean retaliatory strike in the aftermath of a US assault.

An equally suspicious mind might also wonder if a false-flag event involving WMDs or a nuclear attack might be a possibility too.

Several (mostly right-wing) conspiracy theorists had already suggested the drill scenario might ‘go live’ in a sleight-of-hand switch that could echo various false-flag terrorist attacks, most famously 9/11 (in which a drill/simulation of plane hijackings was famously going on at the same time as the ‘real’ hijacking/attack happened – the latter replaced the former in what had to have been a meticulously planned operation).

It is also worth remembering previous ‘predictions’ from US officials and media outlets that ‘ISIS’ or some other terrorist operatives could detonate a nuclear device in a major American city.

I have wondered for some time whether conspirators in the US need another huge terror event on the scale of 9/11, as opposed to the various small-scaled false-flags: if so, the already-prophesied ‘ISIS nuclear attack’ would fit that bill, especially as the notion has already been put into people’s minds. In reality, of course, this is all an ongoing psy-op and ‘ISIS’ (whichever definition of ‘ISIS’ we’re using today) is unlikely to have anything like the capabilities or resources for carrying out such an attack in the United States.

Just as the PNAC/Neo-Cons behind the Bush administration had written about needing their “new Pearl Harbour” (which 9/11 became), one wonders if there’s a document somewhere that talks about needing a “new 9/11”.

One therefore has to wonder if the exercises carried out in Operation Gotham Shield might, on a later date, be repeated in a staged ‘real life’ nuclear/WMD attack from a foreign or hostile force (‘ISIS’, North Korea or some other) – but which, in reality, would simply be another simulated operation serving ulterior motives.

In all likelihood, Operation Gotham Shield 2017 is probably just what it is claimed to be: a preparedness drill for a major nuclear or WMD event in a major urban center.

But why now? And who or where is the real-world threat perceived to be coming from?

We should probably remember that Kim Jong-un’s regime isn’t the only possible source of a WMD attack. As unlikely as it may seem, Russia and China could also be a possibility. And it should probably also be considered, again, that the drill/exercise might have the hypothetical scenario be a *retaliatory* attack by one of those foreign powers in the aftermath of a US *first strike*.

Paul Craig Roberts has hinted for some time at ‘changes in US war doctrine that indicate that Washington is preparing a preemptive nuclear attack on Russia and China…’. He wrote in a post a few days ago, ‘It is extremely dangerous to all of mankind for Washington to convince two nuclear powers that Washington is preparing a preemptive nuclear strike against them. It is impossible to imagine a more reckless and irresponsible act.’

It was also reported recently that representatives of the Russian Armed Forces had stated the US is creating a military infrastructure near Russia’s borders for the application of a sudden nuclear strike.

At some other time or in some other circumstances, we might rely on cooler heads prevailing.

But we’re in the President Trump era now; in which provocations and a glorying in military firepower seems to be the order of the day. Trump himself, it is clear, has no clear handle on or policy on nuclear weapons, having made all kinds of contradictory statements, ranging from a stated unwillingness to ever engage in a first-strike policy all the way to asking “if we have nukes, why can’t we use them?”

But it isn’t really about Trump himself, who appears to be a non-entity in terms of thought-process and policy – and is more about the Pentagon, his senior military figures and whatever influence the Neo-Cons are exerting over his administration.

John Pilger’s 2016 film, The Coming War on China, was highly suggestive of the incoming Trump administration taking the US into a war with China that could potentially go nuclear. Pilger interviewed Pentagon war planners, members of China’s emerging political class and those resisting the presence of US military bases in South Korea for the film.

In a recent article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Pilger writes, ‘The United States is at a critical moment. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria – following his bombing of a mosque and a school – he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.’

The scene Pilger creates is reminiscent of a Mafia boss sitting to dinner with a rival boss. He continues, ‘Trump’s attack on Syria had little to do with chemical weapons. It was, above all, to show his detractors and doubters in Washington’s war-making institutions – the Pentagon, the CIA, the Congress – how tough he was and prepared to risk a war with Russia. He had spilled blood in Syria, a Russian protectorate; he was surely now on the team. The attack was also meant to say directly to President Xi, his dinner guest: this is how we deal with those who challenge the top dog.’

___________

Of course, what most of us are doing is merely speculating – we don’t have any inside knowledge of what the motivation is for this drill. And so we guess, albeit based on some past precedents.

At any rate, something like Operation Gotham Shield only adds to anxieties and concerns over such matters.

I have also been concerned lately with the increased talk by political figures in the UK (including Michael Fallon) about nuclear strikes, including ‘first strike’ options, as well as by the fact that President Trump’s military decided to drop the biggest non-nuclear bomb (MOAB) since World War II on a cave complex in Afghanistan instead of using a more conventional weapon – as if they were very much trying to send out a broader signal.

I have been wondering for a while whether there are a whole bunch of unhinged figures – serious war hawks, Neo Cons, weapons manufacturers and military industrialists – who frothed at the mouth at the prospect of a temperamental, inexperienced and slightly unstable US President arriving on the scene; someone who would enable them to be freed from longstanding moral, ethical and strategic constraints and to simply go nuts.

Prior to the inauguration, I jokingly referred to a coterie of Gotham City villains gaining unprecedented power over the leader of the free world and even used an image of Batman villains to illustrate the point (President Trump then bizarrely quoted the Batman villain, Bane, in his inauguration speech): I’m sure the naming of this drill/operation as ‘Gotham Shield’ is just a funny coincidence, but one does wonder why it has been given that name.

More importantly, one also wonders how on earth we’ve ended up in an era and climate where nuclear weapons (and ‘first strikes’) are now increasingly being talked about as military options rather than as the mere deterrents they were meant to be.

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