Archive | August 30th, 2017

Trump Seeks Rigged Intelligence to Renege on Iran Nuclear Deal

NOVANEWS

Featured image: Better be careful US President Donald Trump warns Iran president Rouhani (Source: Voice of People Today)

According to London’s Guardian, “US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement” – despite no evidence suggesting it.

The IAEA declared Tehran in compliance multiple times. The White House wants intelligence cooked to show otherwise, giving Trump a pretext to renege on the deal – an international treaty strongly supported by other P5+1 countries.

Collapse of the deal won’t “trigger a new crisis over nuclear proliferation,” as the Guardian suggests. It would further heighten tensions between Washington and Tehran – already strained because of longstanding US aims for regime change by color revolution or war.

According to the Guardian,

CIA “(i)ntelligence analysts, chastened by the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, launched by the Bush administration on the basis of phony evidence of weapons of mass destruction, are said to be resisting the pressure to come up with evidence of Iranian violations.”

Former CIA analyst Ned Price said current agency operatives told him

there’s “a sense of revulsion. There was a sense of deja vu. There was a sense of ‘we’ve seen this movie before.’ “

Former deputy CIA director David Cohen called it “disconcerting” for Trump to conclude Iran is in noncompliance without credible evidence proving it.

“It stands the intelligence process on its head,” he said. “If our intelligence is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do here, that undermines the utility of that intelligence all across the board.”

Langley was never shy about rigging intelligence for political purposes. Nor was Colin Powell as Bush/Cheney’s secretary of state – lying to Congress about nonexistent Iraqi WMDs, infamously claiming:

“(F)acts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.”

False!

“(E)very statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are the facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

False!

“The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction pose to the world.”

False again. None existed and Powell knew it. War was waged against a nation threatening no one, raping and destroying it, massacring its people, endless conflict continuing.

Does Trump have something similar in mind for Iran? Would he wage war on a country able to hit back hard regionally?

The Guardian:

“(T)here is now a general consensus among US intelligence and foreign intelligence agencies, the state department, the IAEA and the other five countries that signed the JCPOA, as well as the European Union, that there is no significant evidence that Iran has violated its obligations under the deal.”

Trump appears hellbent on reneging Washington’s treaty obligation anyway. He, administration and congressional neocons, along with Israel alone will be pleased if he acts irresponsibly.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini strongly supported the nuclear deal, saying it “was not an agreement between two countries. I have repeated it time and again, and I have the impression that we will need to repeat it time and again in the months to come,” adding:

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is “a commitment undertaken by the entire international community on one side and Iran on the other, supported by a resolution of the UN Security Council, and certified regularly by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

“(C)ompliance with the deal is certified by the IAEA and by the Joint Commission I chair…not by one single individual country,” a clear reference to Trump’s likely intention to pull out.

America will be more of an international outlaw than already if he unilaterally decertifies the deal – what appears likely at this time around mid-October.

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USA: “Disaster Scenario” of Hurricane Katrina Was Held in July 2004

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“Disaster Scenario” of Hurricane Katrina Was Held in July 2004, One Year Prior to the August 29, 2005 Disaster

Text of Open Letter by Rep. Henry Waxman and Chairman Tom Davis to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff

 

Twelve years ago, exactly: 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina. The Hurricane Harvey Catastrophe started on Friday 25, 2017

We bring to the attention of Global Research readers an event which has not been covered by the mainstream media.

This article was first published by GR, two weeks after the Katrina disaster of August 29, 2005

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had contemplated the possibility of a Hurricane disaster. In fact, it had simulated in minute detail the underlying consequences in an exercise undertaken in  2004.   

In an open letter to Homeland Security Department Secretary Chertoff, Rep. Henry  Waxman and Chairman of the Government Reform Committee Tom Davis outline the background of the Hurricane Disaster Scenario.

An exercise known as “Hurricane Pam,” was conducted by FEMA and IEM in July 2004:

 “bringing together emergency officials from 50 parish, state, federal, and volunteer organizations to simulate the conditions described above and plan an emergency response. As a result of the exercise, officials reportedly developed proposals for handling debris removal, sheltering, search and rescue, medical care, and schools.”

“The specific disaster scenario contemplated under the contract is strikingly similar to the actual disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The contract envisioned that “a catastrophic hurricane could result in significant numbers of deaths and injuries, trap hundreds of thousands of people in flooded areas, and leave up to one million people homeless.” The Scope of Work expressly directed the contractor to plan for the following specific conditions:

• “Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.”

• “Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.”

• “It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.”

The text of the Letter is published below. The original letter is available in pdf and word formats:

http://democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20050909123431-75333.pdf

http://democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20050909123505-34183.doc

[Text of Letter to Michael Chertoff without footnotes]

September 9, 2005

The Honorable Michael Chertoff

Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

The House Committee on Government Reform has obtained from the Department of Homeland Security a document describing the “Scope of Work” of a contract issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the development of a “Southeastern Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan.” We are writing to request any plans and other documents that were developed under this contract.

FEMA’s Scope of Work contemplated that a private contractor, Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM), would complete the work under the contract in three stages. “Stage One” called for a simulation exercise involving FEMA and the state of Louisiana that would “feature a catastrophic hurricane striking southeastern Louisiana.” “Stage Two” called for “development of the full catastrophic hurricane disaster plan.” And “Stage Three” involved unrelated earthquake planning.

A task order issued under the contract called for IEM to execute “Stage One” between May 19 and September 30, 2004, at a cost of $518,284. On June 3, 2004, IEM issued a press release announcing that it would “lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).” A second task order issued on September 23, 2004, required IEM to “complete the development of the SE Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane plan.” The cost of this task order was $199,969.

The “Background” section of the Scope of Work stated that “the emergency management community has long feared the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster,” which the document describes as “an event having unprecedented levels of damage, casualties, dislocation, and disruption that would have nationwide consequences and jeopardize national security.” According to the background discussion, the emergency management community was concerned that “existing plans, policies, procedures and resources” would not be adequate to address such a “mega-disaster.”

According to the Scope of Work, the contact “will assist FEMA, State, and local government to enhance response planning activities and operations by focusing on specific catastrophic disasters: those disasters that by definition will immediately overwhelm the existing disaster response capabilities of local, State, and Federal Governments.” With respect to southeastern Louisiana, the specific “catastrophic disaster” to be addressed was “a slow-moving Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane that … crosses New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.” The Scope of Work explained:

Various hurricane studies suggest that a slow-moving Category 3 or almost any Category 4 or 5 hurricane approaching Southeast Louisiana from the south could severely damage the heavily populated Southeast portion of the state creating a catastrophe with which the State would not be able to cope without massive help from neighboring states and the Federal Government.

The Scope of Work further stated: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP) believe that the gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to such an event.”

The specific disaster scenario contemplated under the contract is strikingly similar to the actual disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The contract envisioned that “a catastrophic hurricane could result in significant numbers of deaths and injuries, trap hundreds of thousands of people in flooded areas, and leave up to one million people homeless.” The Scope of Work expressly directed the contractor to plan for the following specific conditions:

• “Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.”

• “Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.”

• “It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.”

• “Rescue operations would be difficult because much of the area would be reachable only by helicopters and boats.”

• “Hospitals would be overcrowded with special-needs patients. Backup generators would run out of fuel or fail before patients could be moved elsewhere.”

• “The New Orleans area would be without electric power, food, potable water, medicine, or transportation for an extended time period.”

• “Damaged chemical plants and industries could spill hazardous materials.”

• “Standing water and disease could threaten public health.”

• “There would be severe economic repercussions for the state and region.”

• “Outside responders and resources, including the Federal response personnel and materials, would have difficulty entering and working in the affected area.”

It appears that IEM completed the task order for “Stage One,” the hurricane simulation. An exercise know as “Hurricane Pam,” was conducted by FEMA and IEM in July 2004, bringing together emergency officials from 50 parish, state, federal, and volunteer organizations to simulate the conditions described above and plan an emergency response. As a result of the exercise, officials reportedly developed proposals for handling debris removal, sheltering, search and rescue, medical care, and schools.

It is not clear, however, what plans or draft plans, if any, IEM prepared to complete “Stage Two,” the development of the final catastrophic hurricane disaster plan. The task order for “Stage Two” provided that the “period of performance” was September 23, 2004, to September 30, 2005.

The basis for the award of the planning work to IEM is also not indicated in the documents we received. The task orders were issued to IEM by FEMA under an “Indefinite Delivery Vehicle” (IDV) contract between IEM and the General Services Administration. According to the Federal Procurement Data System, FEMA received only one bid (from IEM) for the task orders.

The documents from the Department raise multiple questions about the contract with IEM and the planning for a catastrophic hurricane in southeastern Louisiana. To help us understand these issues, we request that the Department provide the following documents and information:

(1) Any documents relating to the “Stage One” simulation exercise, including documents prepared for exercise planners and participants, transcripts or minutes of exercise proceedings, participant evaluations, and after action reports;

(2) Any final or draft plans for a catastrophic hurricane in southeastern Louisiana prepared under “Stage Two” of the contract, including any final or draft Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan, Basic Plan Framework, Emergency Support Function Annex, or Support Annex; and

(3) An explanation of the procurement procedures used in selecting IEM for the contract and task orders, as well as a description of IEM’s qualifications and the justification for selecting IEM.

We recognize that Department officials are engaged in ongoing relief efforts, and we do not want to impair those efforts in any way. For this reason, we have tailored our request to the discrete set of documents and information set forth above. To expedite your response to this request, we have enclosed copies of the Scope of Work, task orders, and other documents cited in this letter.

Sincerely,

Rep. Tom Davis Rep. Henry A. Waxman

Chairman Ranking Minority Member

Enclosure


ANNEX

Opening Statement of Chairman Tom Davis

Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for

and Response to Hurricane Katrina

October 19th, 2005

Good morning, and welcome to the Select Committee’s third hearing on the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina.

On September 15, before this Select Committee was established by a bipartisan House vote, the Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the early lessons learned from Katrina.  At that hearing, the Committee’s Ranking Member, Henry Waxman, said there were “two steps we should take right away.”

First, he said, we should request basic documents from the agencies.  And second, he said – and I quote – “we need to hear from Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff.  These are the two government officials most responsible for the inadequate response, and the Committee should call them to testify without delay.”

I’m happy to report that we haven’t delayed.  We’ve met and exceeded these goals.  We’re doing the oversight we’re charged with doing.  While many who so urgently called on Congress to swiftly investigate have refused to participate and instead tilt at windmills, we’re investigating aggressively what went wrong and what went right.

And we – those on my side of the aisle, and those Democrats who agree we need to ask tough questions, together — are doing it by the book, letting the chips fall where they may.  I will continue to invite Democrats to join us.  I will continue to give them full and equal opportunity to make statements and question witnesses and help guide the direction of our inquiry.

But regardless of who does and does not show up for our hearings, we have a job to do, and I’m intent on doing it right.

Our goal today is to understand the Department of Homeland Security’s role and responsibilities before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on August 29, 2005.

I want to thank DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff for being here today so we can discuss the specific actions he took right before, during, and after the storm.  His insight and perspective will be critical as we construct the narrative that will serve as the foundation of our final report.

Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Michael Brown have received the most attention from Members of Congress, state and local officials, and the news media in Katrina’s wake, DHS and Secretary Chertoff have primary responsibility for managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan.

Three weeks ago we heard from Michael Brown.  Today we’ll hear from his boss, the man who ultimately fired him.

We need to find out if Michael Brown had it right when he testified before our committee.  Has FEMA been under-funded and under-staffed?  Has it become ‘emaciated’?  Did Congress undermine FEMA’s effectiveness when we folded it into DHS?

Michael Brown testified that he asked the Department for funding to implement the lessons learned from the Hurricane Pam exercise and that those funds were denied.  He also testified about brain drain, diminished financial resources, and “assessments” of $70 to $80 million by DHS for DHS-wide programs.  He said he wrote memos to Secretary Ridge and Secretary Chertoff regarding the inadequacy of FEMA’s resources.  We will ask the Secretary about these assertions.

And regardless of his response, we are left with the question of whether any of this affected the government’s preparation for and response to Katrina.

We also need to establish the Department’s role and responsibilities in a disaster.  What resources can the Secretary bring to bear?  What triggers the decision to deploy those resources?  During Katrina, how personally involved was Secretary Chertoff in seeking, authorizing, or deploying specific resources?

Michael Brown testified that he had “no problem picking up the phone and getting hold of [Secretary] Chertoff…”  How many times during these difficult days did he make those calls?  What did he ask for?  What did he get?

Michael Brown also testified that he wished he’d called in the military sooner.  Did that require Secretary Chertoff’s involvement?  Did Mr. Brown ask the Secretary to seek military support?  If so, when?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve all boned up on the disaster declaration process outlined in the Stafford Act.  We understand the goals, structure and mechanisms of the National Response Plan.  We’ve learned the alphabet soup of “coordinating elements” established by the Plan: the HSOC (“H-Sock”) and RRCC; JFOs and PFOs; the IIMG.

Now it’s our job to find out how this soup was served.

At the end of the day, we’ll tell a story about the National Response Plan, and how its 15 Emergency Support Functions were implemented with Katrina.  We’ll see how well the ESFs were followed.  Where there were problems, we’ll ask why.  Where even flawless execution led to unacceptable results, we’ll have to return to questioning the underlying Plan.

The American people don’t care about acronyms or organizational charts.  They want to know who was supposed to do what, when, and whether the job got done.  And if it didn’t get done, they want to know how we are going to make sure it does the next time.

Americans know by now that there was no shortage of plans, no shortage of exercises.  They know just as well that there was a profound failure to be proactive, a deep inability to execute.  They understand this was a big, big storm.  But they also understand that too many people viewed preparation and response as “someone else’s problem.”

Under the National Response Plan, the DHS Secretary is the federal official charged with declaring an Incident of National Significance.  Part of that declaration is naming a Principal Federal Official, or PFO, to manage the response.

We only received a handful of the e-mails we requested to and from Mike Brown in time to prepare for this hearing.  We were disappointed, to say the least, that a congressionally mandated committee, with subpoena power, has had to wait this long on a seemingly simple request.  The bulk of the documents we requested did not arrive until late last night.  It’s this sort of inadequate responsiveness to requests for information that has long frustrated many of our Members, and perhaps sheds some light on the Department’s woeful response to Katrina.

But, from the handful of Mike Brown’s emails we did received in a timely manner,  we know that he resented being named the PFO by the Secretary.  What does the Secretary have to say about that?  What does this say about the underlying Plan?

Finally, we hope today to ask Secretary Chertoff what we’re asking all officials as part of our investigation.  Where were you in the days and hours right before, during, and after the hurricane?  What were you doing?  Who were you talking to?  Establishing this timeline will be a key part of the story we end up telling in our report.

Based on the information we have gathered so far – and we have much, much more to gather – it seems that all too often, local, state, and federal leaders were planning in a crisis environment.  A lot of decisions that seemingly should have been made days or months or years before were being made on the fly, or not made at all.

That’s just not good government.

NYU Professor Paul Light wrote recently that “Mr. Chertoff is just about the only official in Washington who can say ‘I told you so’ about FEMA,” based on some of the reforms he outlined last July in his Second Stage Review.  I wonder if Secretary Chertoff believes FEMA’s response to Katrina would have been better if the reforms had been in place on August 29th.

Interviewed by CNN on September 21st, Secretary Chertoff said it is his “responsibility to fix the things that don’t work well.  That’s what we are in the process of doing right now.”  Today we hope to hear his thoughts on exactly what didn’t work well with Katrina, and how the Department’s process of self-examination is proceeding.

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Defending Against the Next Generation of Bioweapons

Chemical and biological weapons conjure in the mind terror and have been repeatedly cited as a pretext for both acts of military aggression and even entire wars. Scenes of soldiers and civilians choking on toxic chemicals or covered in boils after exposure have been the stuff of nightmares both geopolitically and in fiction.

While current chemical and biological weapons are far more limited than movies and politically-motivated narratives suggest, emerging biotechnology is making possible a new generation of biological weapons that may actually live up to the terror current weapons inspire.

A US policy think tank as early as 2000 in a publication titled, “Rebuilding America’s Defense” (PDF), a virtual blueprint of the plans and means the US sought to utilize toward achieving global hegemony, would make particular note of bioweapons and the use of genotype-specific weapons, stating:

Although it may take several decades for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and “combat” likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, “cyber-space,” and perhaps the world of microbes… 

…advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

In 2004, the Guardian in an article titled, “Could you make a genetically targeted weapon?,” would warn:

The prospect that rogue scientists could develop bioweapons designed to target certain ethnic groups based on their genetic differences was raised this week in a report by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The report, Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity II, warns that construction of genetic weapons “is now approaching reality”. Such “genetic bombs” could contain anthrax or bubonic plague tailored to activate only when genes indicated the infected person was from a particular group.

The topic of genotype-specific bioweapons has held interest across the West for  decades.  The Apartheid regime in South Africa attempted to produce biological weapons to induce infertility among the nation’s black population.

PBS Frontline’s article, “What Happened in South Africa?” would recount:

In 1998 South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission held hearings investigating activities of the apartheid-era government. Toward the end of the hearings, the Commission looked into the apartheid regime’s Chemical and Biological Warfare (CBW) program and allegations that it developed a sterility vaccine to use on black South Africans, employed toxic and chemical poison weapons for political assassination, and in the late 1970s provided anthrax and cholera to Rhodesian troops for use against guerrilla rebels in their war to overthrow Rhodesia’s white minority rule.

While South Africa’s entire CBW program was abhorrent, what is particularly frightening is the use of South Africa’s national vaccination program as a vector for infecting black women with viruses meant to sterilize them. Now that vaccination programs are being pushed globally, there lies the danger that such weapons could be used against entire regions of the planet.

PBS would elaborate further on the CBW program, stating that the South African government:

Developed lethal chemical and biological weapons that targeted ANC [African National Congress] political leaders and their supporters as well as populations living in the black townships. These weapons included an infertility toxin to secretly sterilize the black population; skin-absorbing poisons that could be applied to the clothing of targets; and poison concealed in products such as chocolates and cigarettes.   

PNAC’s dream of genotype specific bioweapons then, is not some far-off science fiction future, it is something that has been pursued in earnest for decades and apparently by interests aligned to the West, not enemies of it.

How These New Weapons Work 

More recently, the US Air Force in a 2010 assessment titled, “Biotechnology: Genetically Engineered Pathogens” (PDF),  would enumerate several ways such weapons could be wielded:

The JASON group, composed of academic scientists, served as technical advisers to the U. S. government. Their study generated six broad classes of genetically engineered pathogens that could pose serious threats to society. These include but are not limited to binary biological weapons, designer genes, gene therapy as a weapon, stealth viruses, host-swapping diseases, and designer diseases. 

The report would go into detail regarding each weapon including gene therapy:

Gene therapy might just be the silver bullet for the treatment of human genetic diseases. This process involves replacing a bad gene with a good gene to normalize the condition of the recipient. Transfer of the “healthy” gene requires a vector to reach its target. Vectors commonly used are “viruses that have been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA” such as “retroviruses, adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, and herpes simplex viruses.”

Gene therapy has already been used during clinical trials to successfully treat blood cancers, hemophilia and rare genetic immunodeficiency conditions. It is under investigation to treat everything from blindness and deafness to diabetes and heart failure. In utilizing it as a weapon, the report would note:

Another significant gene therapy outcome was the mousepox virus experiment in Australia. Researchers inadvertently developed a lethal mousepox virus while attempting to prevent the plague, within the mice population. This genetically altered virus attacked the immune systems of the experimental mice; it killed all of them. Researchers also found that sixty percent of those mice previously vaccinated died within days of exposure. Although this was unintentionally created, if the same modified virus was added to smallpox, it could present the same lethality for humans.

Regarding “stealth viruses,” the report states:

The basic concept of this potential bioweapon is to “produce a tightly regulated, cryptic viral infection that can enter and spread in human cells using vectors” (similar to the gene therapy) and then stay dormant for a period of time until triggered by an internal or external signal. The signal then could stimulate the virus to cause severe damage to the system. Stealth viruses could also be tailored to secretly infect a targeted population for an extended period using the threat of activation to blackmail the target.

The most worrying aspect of these next-generation biological weapons is how they might be delivered to a targeted population.

With South Africa’s Apartheid government using its national vaccine program as a vector for genotype-specific biological weapons and with current international vaccine programs dominated by Western pharmaceutical corporations and foundations, efforts to infect entire nations or regions of the planet with dormant stealth viruses is a very real threat.

Vaccine programs in the US for example, particularly the flu shot, are suspiciously promoted with unparalleled enthusiasm by governments and the private sector they are partnered with who are otherwise disinterested in the health and well-being of the American population. Vaccines are distributed widely, even freely in neighbors lacking even basics like clean drinking water and viable education programs.

Such vaccine drives are being promoted elsewhere, beyond America’s borders, creating the perfect conditions for both centralizing and controlling ideal vectors for the biological weapons described by the US Air Force assessment.

As humanity’s collective understanding of human genetics improves, the ability of weapon developers to target aspects of our humanity governed by our biology more precisely, including our very temperament and intelligence, will only improve. Besides targeting a foreign nation’s population in the context of foreign wars and conquest, such weapons could also be used domestically to induce enhanced obedience and subservience.

Until nations and even communities take full responsibility for the state of human healthcare within their respective boundaries, including the independent development, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, this threat will only grow.

Defending Against the Next Generation of Biological Weapons 

The US Air Force assessment would also note in regards to using gene therapy as a bioweapon that:

Nations who are equipped to handle biotechnology are likely to consider gene therapy a viable bioweapon. Groups or individuals without the resources or funding will find it difficult to produce this bioweapon.

Of course, not only will nations without the resources or funding to handle biotechnology be unable to produce such biological weapons, they will also be absolutely unable to defend against them.

Defending against biological weapons using gene therapy either directly or as stealth viruses requires national healthcare and defense infrastructure to be able to quickly read, write and edit genetic information.

Suspected victims of genotype-specific bioweapons would require having their genes examined through modern genetic sequencing, and countermeasures synthesized in the same manner gene therapy-based biological weapons are. If DNA can be edited maliciously, it can be re-edited to correct malicious code.

Thus, the development of a nation’s biotechnology infrastructure is not merely a means of taking advantage of possible scientific, human health and economic opportunities, it is also a matter of national defense.

Identifying and closing off the possible vectors of biological weapons, specifically vaccines and pharmaceuticals produced by Western monopolies, not only further enhances security, but encourages the local development of alternatives producing economic benefits to nations that undergo this essential transition.

Nations like China are already investing heavily in genetics and possesses infrastructure that could easily lead to a robust biological and genotype-specific weapon defense program. Other nations would be wise to follow suit.

Just as is the case regarding information technology and even conventional weapons, nations that lack self-sufficiency in biotechnology are exposing themselves and their populations to external threats materializing before their very eyes and wielded by eager aggressors in the West already engaged in conventional and cyberwarfare globally.

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How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’. “The Violence-as-Beauty Rhetoric Is At the Core of These Movements”

NOVANEWS
 

Behind the rhetoric of the “alt-right” about white nativism and protecting American traditions, history and Christian values is the lust for violence. Behind the rhetoric of antifa, the Black Bloc and the so-called “alt-left” about capitalism, racism, state repression and corporate power is the same lust for violence.

The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war. Their lives, battered by economic misery and social marginalization, have suddenly been filled with meaning. They hold themselves up as the vanguard of the oppressed. They arrogate to themselves the right to use force to silence those they define as the enemy. They sanctify anger. They are infected with the dark, adrenaline-driven urge for confrontation that arises among the disenfranchised when a democracy ceases to function. They are separated, as Sigmund Freud wrote of those who engage in fratricide, by the “narcissism of minor differences.” They mirror each other, not only ideologically but also physically—armed and dressed in black, the color of fascism and the color of death.

It was inevitable that we would reach this point. The corporate state has seized and corrupted all democratic institutions, including the two main political parties, to serve the interests of corporate power and maximize global corporate profits. There is no justice in the courts. There is no possibility for reform in the legislative bodies. The executive branch is a dysfunctional mess headed by a narcissistic kleptocrat, con artist and pathological liar. Money has replaced the vote. The consent of the governed is a joke. Our most basic constitutional rights, including the rights to privacy and due process, have been taken from us by judicial fiat. The economically marginalized, now a majority of the country, have been rendered invisible by a corporate media dominated by highly paid courtiers spewing out meaningless political and celebrity gossip and trivia as if it were news. The corporate state, unimpeded, is pillaging and looting the carcass of the country and government, along with the natural world, for the personal gain of the 1 percent. It daily locks away in cages the poor, especially poor people of color, discarding the vulnerable as human refuse.

A government that is paralyzed and unable and unwilling to address the rudimentary needs of its citizens, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as history has shown with the Weimar Republic and czarist Russia, eventually empowers violent extremists. Economic and social marginalization is the lifeblood of extremist groups. Without it they wither and die. Extremism, as the social critic Christopher Lasch wrote, is “a refuge from the terrors of inner life.”

Germany’s Nazi stormtroopers had their counterparts in that nation’s communist Alliance of Red Front Fighters. The far-right anti-communist death squad Alliance of Argentina had its counterpart in the guerrilla group the People’s Revolutionary Army during the “Dirty War.” The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels during the war I covered in El Salvador had their counterparts in the right-wing death squads, whose eventual demise seriously impeded the FMLN’s ability to recruit. The Serbian nationalists, or Chetniks, in Yugoslavia had their counterparts in the Croatian nationalists, or Ustaše. The killing by one side justifies the killing by the other. And the killing is always sanctified in the name of each side’s martyrs.

The violence by antifa—short for anti-fascist or anti-fascist action—in Charlottesville, Va., saw a surge in interest and support for the movement, especially after the murder of Heather Heyer. The Black Bloc was applauded by some of the counterprotesters in Boston during an alt-right rally there Aug. 19. In Charlottesville, antifa activists filled the vacuum left by a passive police force, holding off neo-Nazi thugs who threatened Cornel West and clergy who were protesting against the white nationalist event. This was a propaganda coup for antifa, which seeks to portray its use of violence as legitimate self-defense. Protecting West and the clergy members from physical assault was admirable. But this single act no more legitimizes antifa violence than the turkeys, Christmas gifts and Fourth of July fireworks that John Gotti gave to his neighbors legitimized the violence of the Gambino crime family. Antifa, like the alt-right, is the product of a diseased society.

The white racists and neo-Nazis may be unsavory, but they too are victims. They too lost jobs and often live in poverty in deindustrialized wastelands. They too often are plagued by debt, foreclosures, bank repossessions and inability to repay student loans. They too often suffer from evictions, opioid addictions, domestic violence and despair. They too sometimes face bankruptcy because of medical bills. They too have seen social services gutted, public education degraded and privatized and the infrastructure around them decay. They too often suffer from police abuse and mass incarceration. They too are often in despair and suffer from hopelessness. And they too have the right to free speech, however repugnant their views.

Street clashes do not distress the ruling elites. These clashes divide the underclass. They divert activists from threatening the actual structures of power. They give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and expand the powers of internal security. When antifa assumes the right to curtail free speech it becomes a weapon in the hands of its enemies to take that freedom away from everyone, especially the anti-capitalists.

The focus on street violence diverts activists from the far less glamorous building of relationships and alternative institutions and community organizing that alone will make effective resistance possible. We will defeat the corporate state only when we take back and empower our communities, as is happening with Cooperation Jackson, a grass-roots cooperative movement in Jackson, Miss. As long as acts of resistance are forms of personal catharsis, the corporate state is secure. Indeed, the corporate state welcomes this violence because violence is a language it can speak with a proficiency and ruthlessness that none of these groups can match.

“Politics isn’t made of individuals,” Sophia Burns writes in “Catharsis Is Counter-Revolutionary.” “It’s made of classes. Political change doesn’t come from feeling individually validated. It comes from collective action and organization within the working class. That means creating new institutions that meet our needs and defend against oppression.”

The protests by the radical left now sweeping America, as Aviva Chomsky points out, are too often little more than self-advertisements for moral purity. They are products of a social media culture in which each of us is the star of his or her own life movie. They are infected with the American belief in regeneration through violence and the cult of the gun. They represent a clash between the bankruptcy of identity politics, which produced, as Dr. West has said, a president who was “a black mascot for Wall Street,” and the bankruptcy of a white, Christianized fascism that produced Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

“Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness,” Chomsky writes in “How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence.” “They may boycott certain products, refuse to eat certain foods, or they may show up to marches or rallies whose only purpose is to demonstrate the moral superiority of the participants. White people may loudly claim that they recognize their privilege or declare themselves allies of people of color or other marginalized groups. People may declare their communities ‘no place for hate.’ Or they may show up at counter-marches to ‘stand up’ to white nationalists or neo-Nazis. All of these types of ‘activism’ emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy. They are deeply, and deliberately, apolitical in the sense that they do not seek to address issues of power, resources, decision making, or how to bring about change.”

The corporate state seeks to discredit and shut down the anti-capitalist left. Its natural allies are the neo-Nazis and the Christian fascists. The alt-right is bankrolled, after all, by the most retrograde forces in American capitalism. It has huge media platforms. It has placed its ideologues and sympathizers in positions of power, including in law enforcement and the military. And it has carried out acts of domestic terrorism that dwarf anything carried out by the left. White supremacists were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks in the United States from 2006 to 2016, far more than those committed by members of any other extremist group, according to a report issued in May by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. There is no moral equivalency between antifa and the alt-right. But by brawling in the streets antifa allows the corporate state, which is terrified of a popular anti-capitalist uprising, to use the false argument of moral equivalency to criminalize the work of all anti-capitalists.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center states categorically in its pamphlet “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” “Do not attend a hate rally.”

“Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something,” it recommends. “Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate. Hate has a First Amendment right. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutional right of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups to hold rallies and say whatever they want. Communities can restrict group movements to avoid conflicts with other citizens, but hate rallies will continue. Your efforts should focus on channeling people away from hate rallies.”

The Nazis were as unsavory to the German political and economic elites as Donald Trump is to most Americans who hold power or influence. But the German elites chose to work with the fascists, whom they naively thought they could control, rather than risk a destruction of capitalism. Street brawls, actively sought out by the Nazis, always furthered the interests of the fascists, who promised to restore law and order and protect traditional values. The violence contributed to their mystique and the yearning among the public for a strongman who would impose stability.

Historian Laurie Marhoefer writes:

Violent confrontations with antifascists gave the Nazis a chance to paint themselves as the victims of a pugnacious, lawless left. They seized it.

It worked. We know now that many Germans supported the fascists because they were terrified of leftist violence in the streets. Germans opened their morning newspapers and saw reports of clashes like the one in Wedding [a Berlin neighborhood]. It looked like a bloody tide of civil war was rising in their cities. Voters and opposition politicians alike came to believe the government needed special police powers to stop violent leftists. Dictatorship grew attractive. The fact that the Nazis themselves were fomenting the violence didn’t seem to matter.

One of Hitler’s biggest steps to dictatorial power was to gain emergency police powers, which he claimed he needed to suppress leftist violence.

What took place in Charlottesville, like what took place in February when antifa and Black Bloc protesters thwarted UC Berkeley’s attempt to host the crypto-fascist Milo Yiannopoulos, was political theater. It was about giving self-styled radicals a stage. It was about elevating their self-image. It was about appearing heroic. It was about replacing personal alienation with comradeship and solidarity. Most important, it was about the ability to project fear. This newfound power is exciting and intoxicating. It is also very dangerous. Many of those in Charlottesville on the left and the right were carrying weapons. A neo-Nazi fired a round from a pistol in the direction of a counterprotester. The neo-Nazis often carried AR-15 rifles and wore quasi-military uniforms and helmets that made them blend in with police and state security. There could easily have been a bloodbath. A march held in Sacramento, Calif., in June 2016 by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party to protest attacks at Trump rallies ended with a number of people stabbed. Police accused counterprotesters of initiating the violence. It is a short series of steps from bats and ax handles to knives to guns.

The conflict will not end until the followers of the alt-right and the anti-capitalist left are given a living wage and a voice in how we are governed. Take away a person’s dignity, agency and self-esteem and this is what you get. As political power devolves into a more naked form of corporate totalitarianism, as unemployment and underemployment expand, so will extremist groups. They will attract more sympathy and support as the wider population realizes, correctly, that Americans have been stripped of all ability to influence the decisions that affect their lives, lives that are getting steadily worse.

The ecocide by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries alone makes revolt a moral imperative. The question is how to make it succeed. Taking to the street to fight fascists ensures our defeat. Antifa violence, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, is a “major gift to the right, including the militant right.” It fuels the right wing’s paranoid rants about the white race being persecuted and under attack. And it strips anti-capitalists of their moral capital.

Many in the feckless and bankrupt liberal class, deeply complicit in the corporate assault on the country and embracing the dead end of identity politics, will seek to regain credibility by defending the violence by groups such as antifa. Natasha Lennard, for example, in The Nation calls the “video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face” an act of “kinetic beauty.” She writes

“if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation.”

This violence-as-beauty rhetoric is at the core of these movements. It saturates the vocabulary of the right-wing corporate oligarchs, including Donald Trump. Talk like this poisons national discourse. It dehumanizes whole segments of the population. It shuts out those who speak with nuance and compassion, especially when they attempt to explain the motives and conditions of opponents. It thrusts the society into a binary and demented universe of them and us. It elevates violence to the highest aesthetic. It eschews self-criticism and self-reflection. It is the prelude to widespread suffering and death. And that, I fear, is where we are headed.

Posted in USAComments Off on How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’. “The Violence-as-Beauty Rhetoric Is At the Core of These Movements”

Central Banks as Engines of Income Inequality and Financial Crisis

NOVANEWS

My just published book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Rope?: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, July 2017, is now available for immediate purchase on Amazon.com, as well as from this blog. (see book icon)

The following is an excerpt from an article by the title of this blog post, that appears in ‘Z magazine’s September 1 issue–describing how central bank policies have become a major contributor to income inequality, subsidizing and boosting capital incomes, as well as now are a primary cause of recurrent financial crises.

“This September 2017 marks the nineth year since the last major financial crisis erupted in 2008. In that crisis investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapsed. So did the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-government mortgage agencies, that were then bailed out at the last minute by a $300 billion US Treasury money injection. Washington Mutual and Indymac banks, the brokerage Merrill Lynch, and scores of other banks and shadow banks went under, or were forced-merged by the government, or were consolidated or restructured. The finance arms of General Motors and General Electric were also bailed out, as were the auto companies themselves, to the tune of more than a hundred billion dollars. Then there was the insurance giant, AIG, that speculated in derivatives and ultimately required more than $200 billion in bailout funds. The ‘too big too fail’ mega banks—Citigroup and Bank of America—were technically bankrupt in 2008 but were bailed at a cost of more than $300 billion. And all that was only the US. Banks in Europe and elsewhere also imploded or recorded huge losses. The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, helped bail them out as well by providing more than a trillion US dollars in loans and swaps to Europe’s banking system as well.

Although the crisis at the time was deeply influenced by the crash of residential housing in the US. Few US homeowners were bailed out, unlike the big banks, insurance companies, auto companies, and other businesses. More than 14 million US homeowners were allowed to foreclose on their homes. A mere $25 billion was provided to rescue homeowners, and most of that going to bank mortgage servicing companies who were supposed to refinance their mortgages but didn’t. More than $10 trillion conservatively was provided to financial institutions, banks and shadow banks, and big corporations, and foreign banks by US policy makers in the government and at the US central bank, the Federal Reserve. $25 billion for 14 million vs. more than $10 trillion for capitalists and investors.

The Federal Reserve Bank as Bail Out Manager

A common misunderstanding is that the banking system bailouts were managed by the US Congress passing what was called the Trouble Asset Relief Program, TARP. Introduced in October 2008, TARP provided the US Treasury a $750 billion blank check with which to bail out the banks. But less than half of TARP was used, and most of that went to the auto companies and smaller banks. Only half of the $750 billion was actually spent. By early 2009 the remainder returned to the US Treasury. So Congress didn’t actually bail out the big banks—the AIG, Bank of America, Citibank, investors in the subprime mortgage bonds that collapsed, etc. The real bail out was engineered by the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, in coordination with the main European central banks—the Bank of England, European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan.

The Central banks bailed out the big banks. That has always been the primary function of central banks. That’s why they were created in the first place. It’s called the ‘lender of last resort’ function. Whenever there’s a general banking crisis, which occurs periodically in all capitalist economies, the central bank simply prints the money (electronically today) and injects it free of charge into the failing private banks, to fill up and restore the private banks massive losses that occur in the case of banking crashes. Having a central bank, with operations little understood by the general public, is a convenient way for capitalism to rescue its banks without having to have capitalist politicians—i.e. in Congress and the Executive—do so directly and more publicly. Central banks take the heat off of the politicians, who otherwise would have to raise taxes to bail out the banks—and thus incur the ire of the general public even more so than they do for not preventing the crisis.

From Bail Outs to Perpetual Bank Subsidization

But central banks since 2008 have been evolving toward a new primary function. No longer just bailing out the banks when they get in trouble. But providing a permanent regime of subsidization of the banks even when they’re not in trouble. The latter function is new, and has become a permanent feature of the capitalist global banking feature in the post-2008 period. For the US banks were fully bailed out by 2010. But the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, as well as other major central banks, have simply kept the flow of free money, often just printed money, into the banking system even after the banks were effectively bailed out. In other words, since 2010 the Federal Reserve has continued to provide free money to the banks and continued to buy up the collapsed subprime mortgage bonds from banks and individual investors. In short, it has been subsidizing the profits of the financial system for the past nine years.

With the Fed in the lead, in 2008-09 the central banks of the advanced capitalist economies simply created money—i.e. the dollars, the pounds, euros and yen—and allowed banks and investors to borrow it virtually free. That is, the Fed and other central banks simply opened electronic accounts for the banks within the central bank. Banks were then allowed to borrow that money that was ‘electronically printed’, at essentially no interest. It was free money.

But free money in the form of near zero interest was still not the full picture. The Fed and other central banks were also pro-active in providing money to the banks. The Fed and other central banks went directly to the banks, as well as other institutional and even private investors, and said: ‘we’ll also buy up your bad assets that virtually collapsed in price as a result of the 2008-09 crash. This direct buying of bad mortgage and government bonds—and in Europe and Japan, buying of corporate bonds and even company stocks—was called ‘quantitative easing’, or QE for short. And what did the central banks pay for the assets they bought from banks and investors, many of which were worth as low as 15 cents on the dollar? No one knows, because the Fed to this day has kept it secret how much they overpaid for the bad assets they bought from individual investors, bankers or corporations.

But the QE and the effectively zero interest rates continued for nine years in the US and the UK. And in 2015 it was accelerated even faster in Europe. And since 2014 faster still in Japan. And even in China after 2015, when its stock market bubble burst. Central banks of the major economies after 2008 have thus opened a ‘fire hose’ of free money to their private banks and their investors. And in the course of the past nine years, the private capitalist banking system has become addicted to the free money. They cannot ‘earn’ profits on their own any longer, it appears. They are increasingly dependent on the free money from their central bankers. This is a fundamental change in the global capitalist economic system in the past decade—a change which is having historic implications for growing income inequality worldwide in the advanced economies as well as for another inevitable global financial crisis that will almost certainly erupt within the next decade.

The $25 Trillion Banking System Bailout

In the last financial crisis of 2008-09, central banks rescued their private banks by ensuring zero interest rates at which they could borrow funds. But central banks went a step further. The Fed and others pro-actively went directly to banks and investors and bought up their collapsed subprime bonds and other securities as well. But we do know the total amount of ‘bad assets’ they bought? The total was more than $20 trillion—i.e. in free money provided at zero rates and by central banks buying the ‘bad assets’ from the banks and investors by paying them more than the collapsed market prices at the time for those mortgage bonds and securities.

In the US, the Fed officially purchased $4.5 trillion in ‘bad assets’ between 2009 and 2014. But it was actually more, perhaps as much as $7 trillion. That’s because as some of the Fed purchased bonds matured and were paid off, the Fed reinvested the money once again to maintain the $4.5 trillion. So US banks and shadow banks got free money loans at 0.1% interest rates for nine years, plus the Fed directly bought up additional securities from investors in the amount of around $7 trillion. The cumulative totals from the zero rates and QE bond buying are likely more than $10 trillion for the US alone. That’s how the US banks got ‘bailed out’, not by the US Congress and the TARP program.

But the same occurred by other central banks of the advanced economies. The 2008-09 crash was global, so the Fed was not the only central bank player is this massive money printing and bailout scam. The European Central bank, as of 2017, has bailed out Europe banks via its QE and other programs to the tune of $4.9 trillion so far. The Bank of England, another $.7 trillion. And the Bank of Japan as of mid-2017 by more than $5 trillion. The People’s Bank of China, PBOC, did not institute formal QE programs. But after 2011 it too started injecting trillions of dollar in equivalent yuan, its currency, to prevent its private sector from defaulting on bank loans, to bail out its local governments that over invested in real estate, and to stop the collapse of its stock markets in 2015-16. PBOC bailouts to date amount to around $6 trillion. And the totals today continue to rise for all, as the UK, Europe, Japan, and China continue their central bank engineered bail out binge, and in the case of Europe and Japan are actually accelerating their QE programs.

Conservatively, therefore, the total bail outs from QE and QE-like programs among the big central banks globally—US, UK, Europe, Japan, and China—amount easily to more than $25 trillion. That’s $25 trillion of money created out of thin air.

Contrary to many critiques of rising debt levels since 2009, it is not the level of debt itself that is the problem and the harbinger of the next financial crash. It is the inability to pay for the debt, the principal and interest on it, when the next recession occurs. So long as economies are growing, businesses and households and even government can ‘finance’ the debt, i.e. continue to pay the principal and interest some way. But when recessions occur, which they always do under capitalism, that ability to keep paying the debt collapses. Business revenues and profits fall, employment rises and wages decline, and government taxes collections slow. So the income with which to pay the principal and interest collapses. Unable to make payments on principal and or interest, defaults on past incurred debt occur. Prices for financial assets—stocks, bonds, etc.—then collapse even faster and further. Businesses and banks go bankrupt, and the crisis deepens, accelerating on itself in a vicious downward spiral. That’s a great recession—or worse, a bona fide economic depression.

Think of it another way: the $25 trillion plus is what the central banks transferred in bad debt from the balance sheets of the banks and private corporations to their own central bank balance sheets. In other words, the private corporate debt at the heart of the last crisis has not been removed from the globally economy. It has only been shifted, from the business sector to the central banks. And this central bank debt has nothing to do with national governments’ debt. That’s a totally additional amount of government debt, as is consumer household debt which, in the US, is more than $1 trillion each for student loans, auto loans, credit cards, and multi-trillions for mortgage loans. Ominously, moreover, in recent months defaults on student, auto and credit card debt have begun to rise again, already in the highest in the last four years in the US.

Finally, it’s not quite correct, moreover, to even say that the $25 trillion injection of money into the banking system since 2008 has successfully bailed out the banks globally. Despite the total, there are still more than $10 trillion in what are called ‘non-performing bank loans’ worldwide. Most is concentrated in Europe and Asia—both of which are likely the locus of the next global financial crisis. And that crisis is coming.

In the interim, the central banks’ free money and bank subsidization machine is generating a fundamental dual problem within the global economy. It is feeding big time the trend toward income inequality and it is helping fuel financial asset bubbles worldwide that will eventually converge and then burst, precipitating the next global financial crash.

The Fed as Engine of Income Inequality

In the US, the US central bank’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet—and the nine years of free money at 0.1% rates—have been at the heart of a massive income shift to US investors, businesses, and the wealthiest 1% households.

Where did all this $4.5 trillion (really $7 trillion), plus the virtually free borrowed money at 0.1%, go? The lie fed to the public by politicians, businesses, and the media was this massive free money injection was necessary to get the economy going again. The trillions would jump-start real investment that would create jobs, incomes, consumption and consequently economic growth or GDP. But that’s not where it went, and the US economy experienced the weakest nine year post-recession recovery on record. Little of the money injection financed real investment—i.e. in equipment, buildings, structures, machinery, inventories, etc. Instead, investors got QE bail outs and banks borrowed the free money from the Fed and then loaned it out at higher interest rates to US multinational companies who invested it abroad in emerging markets; or they loaned it to shadow bankers and foreign bankers who speculated in financial asset markets like stocks, junk bonds, derivatives, foreign exchange, etc.; or the banks borrowed and invested it themselves in financial securities markets; or they just hoarded the cash on their own bank balance sheets; or the banks borrowed the money at 0.1% from the central bank and then left it at the central bank, which paid them 0.25%, for a 0.15% profit for doing nothing.

This massive money injection, in other words, was then put to work in financial markets and multiplied several fold. Behind the 9 year bubbles in stock and bond markets (and derivatives and exchange as well) is the massive $7 to $10 trillion Federal Reserve bank money injections. And how high have the stock-bond bubbles grown? The Dow Jones US stock market has risen from a low in 2009 of 6500 to almost 22,000 today. The US Nasdaq tech-heavy market has surpassed the 2001 peak before the tech bust. The S&P 500 has also more than tripled. Business profits have also tripled. Bond market prices have similarly accelerated. The 9 year near zero rates from the Fed have enabled corporations to issue corporate bonds by more than $5 trillion in just the last five years.
So how do these financial asset market bubbles translate into historic levels of income inequality, one might ask?

The wealthiest 1%–i.e. the investor class—cash in their stocks and bonds when the bubbles escalate. The corporations that have raised $5 trillion in new bonds and seen their profits triple in value then take that massive $6 to $9 trillion cash hoard to buyback their stocks and to issue record level of dividends to their shareholders—i.e. the 1%. Nearly $6 trillion of the profits-bond raised cash was redistributed in the US alone since 2010 to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks and dividends payouts. The 1% get $6 trillion or more and the corporations and banks sit on the rest in the form of retained cash.

Congress and Presidents play a role in the process as well. Shareholders get to keep more of the $6 trillion plus distributed to them as a result of passage of legislation that sharply cuts capital gains and dividend taxable income. Corporations gain by getting to keep more profits after-tax, to distribute via buybacks and dividends, as a result of corporate taxation cuts as well.

The Congress and President sit near the end of the distribution chain, enabling through tax cuts the 1% and shareholders to keep more of their distributed income. But it is the central bank, the Fed, which sits at the beginning of the process. It provides the initial free money that, when borrowed and reinvested in stock markets, becomes the major driver of the stock price bubble. The Fed’s free money also drives down interest rates to near zero, allowing corporations to raise $5 trillion more cash from issuing new corporate bonds. Without the Fed and the near zero rates, there would be nowhere near $5 trillion from new bonds, to distribute to shareholders as a consequence of buybacks and dividends. Furthermore, without the Fed and its direct $4.5 trillion QE program, investors would not have the historic excess money to invest in stocks and bonds (and derivatives and currencies) that drive up the stock and bond prices to bubble levels.

The Fed, the central bank, is thus the initial enabler of the process, i.e. of the accelerating stock and bond prices that transfer so much income to the 1% when the buybacks and dividend payouts kick in. The Fed, as well as other central banks, is an originating source of the runaway income inequality that has plagued the US since late 1970s decade. It is not coincidental that income inequality began to accelerate about that time, which is also the period of which the Fed, and other central banks, themselves began to provide massive money injections to bankers and investors.

Income inequality is a function of two things. One the one hand, accelerating capital incomes of the 1% as a result of buybacks and dividend payouts that generate capital gains for the 1% which constitute nearly 100% of the 1%’s total income. On the other, stagnating or declining wage incomes of non-investor households. Inequality may rise if capital gains drive capital incomes higher; or may rise if wage incomes stagnate or decline; or may rise doubly fast if capital incomes rise while wage incomes stagnate or decline. Since 2000 both forces have been in effect: capital incomes of the 1% have escalated while wage incomes for 80% of households have stagnated or declined.

Mainstream economists tend to focus on the stagnation of wage incomes, which are due to multiple causes like deunionization, rise of temp-part-time-contract employment, free trade treaties’ wage depressing effects, failure to adjust minimum wages, high wage industry offshoring, cost shifting of healthcare from employers to workers, reduction in retirement benefits, shifting tax burdens, etc.. But they engage little in explaining why capital incomes have been accelerating so fast. Perhaps it is because mainstream economists simply don’t understand financial markets and investment very well; or perhaps some do, and just don’t want to ‘go there’ and criticize runaway capital incomes.

Central Banks as Source of Financial Instability

The fire hose of money that central banks still continue to provide the capitalist banking system provides the basis for the growing financial asset bubbles that have been occurring worldwide once again since 2009.

The zero interest rate and direct QE money continue to inject massive money and liquidity into the banking systems, at a rate far faster than investors can choose to reinvest it in real investment projects that produce real things, that hire real people, and provide real wage incomes that stimulate economic growth. As previously noted, the massive money injections are not flowing through the private banks into real investment and growth. The trillions of central bank provided money is flowing out of the advanced economies and into emerging economies; or it is flowing through the banks into the financial asset markets—i.e. stock markets, bonds, derivatives, etc.—driving up asset prices and creating bubbles in those markets; or it is being distributed in stock buybacks and dividend payouts; or it is just being hoarded in the trillions of dollars, euros, etc. on balance sheets of private corporations.

As a result of Fed and other central banks’ money injections now for decades, and especially since 2008, there is a mountain of cash—virtually trillions of dollars—sitting ‘on the sidelines’. That money is looking for quick, speculative capital gains profit opportunities. That means for reinvestment short term in financial asset markets worldwide. The mountain of cash moves in and out of these global financial markets, creating and bursting bubbles as its shifts and moves. Periodically a major bubble bursts—like China’s stock market in 2015. Or a housing speculation bubble here or there. Or junk bonds or consumer debt in the US. Or the bubble in US stocks which is nearing its limit.

A new global finance capital elite has arisen in recent decades, having directly benefited from and controlling this mountain of cash. There are about 200,000 of them worldwide, mostly concentrated in the US and UK, some in Europe, but with numbers rising rapidly in Asia as well. They now control more investible assets than all the traditional commercial banks combined. Their preferred institutional investment vehicles are the global ‘shadow banking system’. Their preferred investment targets are the global system of highly liquid financial asset markets. This system of new finance capitalists, their institutions, and their preferred markets is the real definition of what is meant by the ‘financialization’ of the global economy. That financialization is generating ever more instability in the global capitalist system. But it would not exist were it not for the decades of past central bank injection of free money into the global economy—an injection which has been accelerating since 2008.

Will the Central Banks Retreat?

In 2017 a minority of policymakers in the Fed and other central banks have begun to recognize the fundamental danger to their own system from their providing free money and QE bond and stock buying money injections. The injections have not succeeded in stimulating their real economies, they have not raised prices for goods and services which continue instead to slow and stagnate, they have not sufficiently reduce unemployment (when contingent jobs are considered), and they have not raised wage incomes while bloating capital incomes instead. They have been creating financial bubbles.

So led by the Fed, the central banks of the major economies are now considering raising interest rates from the zero floor and trying to reverse their QE buying. Central bankers will meet in late August 2017 at their annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming gathering. The main topic of discussion will be raising rates and reducing their QE bloated, $15 trillion cumulative balance sheets.

But as this writer has argued, they will fail in both raising rates and selling off their balance sheets. Just as they failed in generating real economic recovery since 2009. For the banking system has become addicted and dependent therefore upon their free money injections and their firehose of central bank bond-stock buying QE programs. Should the central banks attempt to retreat, they will provoke yet another financial and economic crisis. The global capitalist system has become dependent on the permanent subsidization of the banking system by their central banks after 2008. Bail outs and lender of last resort functions by central banks have transformed into a permanent subsidization function. The global capitalist system entered a new period after 2008, changing in ways fundamentally. One of those ways is a greater dependency on the capitalist state to maintain and expand levels of profitability. One of those ways is for their central banks to continue to provide free money.

But the contradiction is that continued free money provisioning is driving further income inequality as well as fueling the next financial crash.

Posted in USAComments Off on Central Banks as Engines of Income Inequality and Financial Crisis

Breaking: Trump Administration Intends to Hyper-militarize State and Local Law Enforcement

NOVANEWS
 

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) condemns the announcement yesterday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions before a gathering of the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) that the administration of President Donald Trump intends to remove the restrictions on the government’s 1033 Program—transfer of deadly military grade equipment to local and state police forces.

According to BAP national organizer Ajamu Baraka,

“Since President Baraka Obama‘s administration’s so-called restrictions were merely a publicity stunt that had no measurable impact on the flow of deadly weapons going to police forces, the Trump administration’s announcement is intended to send another public message—that it intends to make war on Black and Brown people in the United States.”

Jeff Sessions claimed in Monday’s speech that the Trump administration is “rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies; ability to get equipment through federal programs.” However, we at BAP understand this order is meant as yet another green light for increased repression and brutality against Black and Brown working class and poor communities.

Therefore, BAP demands that an immediate halt to the racist, repressive 1033 Program and a suspension of all transfers of military grade equipment to local and state police that are currently being processed.

Furthermore, we specifically call on members of the Congressional Black Caucus (the “conscience of Congress”), and all progressive-minded congressional representatives, to take a public stand against all aspects of the 1033 Program.

The 1033 Program evolved out of the 1990 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s original authorization to facilitate the transfer of surplus military grade weaponry to state and local police forces as part of the federal government’s so-called “War on Drugs.” In the 1997 NDAA, the authorized transfer was named the 1033 program and it was expanded to include counter-terrorism. It has been largely responsible for the militarization of police forces across the nation as a result of over $5.4 billion worth of equipment being transferred to state and local police agencies.

Pressure from some members of Congress and demands from various organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement led to the Obama Administration placing some restrictions on a small class of equipment. But the flow of deadly equipment did not stop. In fact, according to the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which oversees the transfers, the value of the equipment reaching state and local police agencies actually increased the year after the restrictions were imposed.

It is clear that this “domestic weapons supply” program was never meant only to fight drugs or terrorism, but to contain and control Black and Brown bodies victimized by the rapacious consequences of a racist, capitalist order that has rendered whole sectors of the U.S. population disposable.

Featured image is from The Crux.

Posted in USAComments Off on Breaking: Trump Administration Intends to Hyper-militarize State and Local Law Enforcement

The Islamic State as “Place-Setter” for the American Empire

NOVANEWS

The Islamic State as “Place-Setter” for the American Empire. ISIS is the Product of the US Military-Intelligence Complex

 

“ISIS” is a product of the US Military-Intelligence complex. The word itself connotes “ISlam”, and so from the very beginning the construct serves to create Islamophobia, which is a necessary pre-condition for the US Empire’s holocaust-creating footprint overseas[1]. War requires hatred and ISIS fits the bill. The fact that ISIS’ deeds are entirely anti-Islamic is of no importance.

Rita Katz[2] et al. beheading videos and domestic false flag terrorism all serve the necessary function of engineering consent for a War On Terror which features as its main star the West’s very own terror proxies – ISIS. ISIS itself is a false flag in the sense that whereas ISIS is the designated enemy, the psychological operation conceals the fact that ISIS is also us – they are the Empire’s foot soldiers.

In terms of military strategy, ISIS is used as a “place-setter”. Empire directs ISIS to areas that it wants to destroy – under the false pretext of going after its own assets (ISIS et al.) so that it can destroy the target area even as it relocates the “target”.

Consider, for the example, Mosul, Iraq. Prof Chossudovsky explains in “The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq”[3] that the US co-opted the Iraqi military to “allow” ISIS into Mosul in the first place — so that the city could then be destroyed, and civilians massacred, in the name of going after ISIS.  Subsequently, ISIS was relocated from Mosul to Syria.

ISIS is also being used as a “place-setter” in Syria. Similar military strategies have been deployed in the occupation and destruction of Raqqa, Syria.

ISIS convoy leaves Raqqa, Syria

Similarly, the U.S coalition is using ISIS as a “place-setter” for a proposed “Kurdistan” region.[4]

Even as Syria and its allies defeat NATO terrorism, ISIS will continue to make its presence felt in areas of the world that dare to resist the U.S Empire’s dictatorship.

Notes

[1] Gideon Polya, “Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide and US Alliance holocaust denial.” December 13, 2009,       (https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/polya-gideon) Accessed August 29, 2017

[2] Mark Taliano, “Mainstream Media is corrupt to the core.” American Herald Tribune, November 04, 2015. (https://ahtribune.com/politics/73-mainstream-media-corrupt.html Accessed August 29, 2017.

[3] Michel Chossudovsky, “The Engineered Destruction and Political Fragmentation of Iraq.” Global Research, July 14, 2017. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-destruction-and-political-fragmentation-of-iraq-towards-the-creation-of-a-us-sponsored-islamist-caliphate/5386998) Accessed August 29, 2017.

[4] Mark Taliano, “ ‘Creative Chaos’ and the War Against Humanity. US-NATO Supports ISIS.” Global Research. May 29, 2017. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/creative-chaos-and-the-war-against-humanity-us-nato-supports-isis/5592499) Accessed August 29, 2017.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on The Islamic State as “Place-Setter” for the American Empire

Syria, Palestine, Awakening Through Suffering

NOVANEWS

Syria, Palestine, Awakening Through Suffering: Why Arab Unity Is the Only Answer to Modern Crises

 

With the opening of the 59th Damascus International Fair this month after a five-year hiatus, one can assume with cautious optimism that Syria has won the war against terrorism and Imperialist aggression, if not yet militarily, certainly intellectually and spiritually.

The Fair was a major success with a huge turnover, a victory that the people of the proud and secular Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic have every right to celebrate, not least because the theme was national revival and infrastructural renewal, with exhibitors from 23 different countries showcasing their products.

The people of Syria have shown tremendous moral resistance and grace ever since its independence in 1946, despite being on the receiving end of perpetual Israeli aggression, and more recently, of Western and Gulfi financed war that has ravaged the country since 2011.

But it is not just Syrians who have demonstrated a great deal of courage under sheer terror and destruction. The Palestinians who are being oppressed, starved, displaced and murdered in the 21st Century by the illegal and genocidal Zionist regime in Tel Aviv have also shown tremendous resilience. What’s more, the Israelis are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, while the Palestinians have only stones, guns and the occasional crude rocket to defend themselves with.

As far as I and many others are concerned, there is no such thing as a Palestinian terrorist in Palestine, any more than there is such a thing as an Israeli holding a gun with a clean conscience. The fact that the Zionists are annoyed that the Palestinians don’t shut up and put up, is another matter. What is true, however is that the Palestinians have every right to do as they please in their land, and it is the occupiers, the European immigrant Jews, the colonialists, who are the real terrorists. They have constructed a fake state and made a career terrorizing the natives in the most sickening and inhumane manner imaginable. The Palestinians are surviving against all odds.

I say all odds because other than Syria, Palestine has no real friends in the Arab world. Hamas is an extremist group with a dubious record both militarily and morally. It only exists as controlled opposition, to maintain the status quo. It has failed to protect the Palestinian people, much less liberate them. Nothing good will ever come of Hamas; as far as many are concerned, they are traitors to both Palestine and to the only real ally of Palestine, Syria. Let us not forget that during the Imperialist war on Syria, Hamas was on the same side as al Qaeda/Isis and Israel who have sought to dis-unify and occupy the Levant for decades.

What is quite interesting, is that when the British offered the European Jews part of British Uganda, they rejected the idea and insisted on Palestine due to the biblical connotations, an unrelated but clever marketing tactic that they have mastered to perfection.

I am inclined to believe that the British and the Jews may have known at some level that the Arabs would have been an easy people to occupy and oppress. That is not to say that the Arabs are not good warriors, they are just not trained to kill. Frankly, they could not have chosen a more defenceless people, and there are historical and cultural reasons for this.

Arabs have had it comparatively easy as a people throughout history. They were united and taken care of under the Caliphates and they also enjoyed substantial autonomy under Turkish rule that the Greeks, Serbs, Armenians and others were deprived of. Perversely, this reality has allowed for dis-unification over petty and meaningless matters, precisely because they are intrinsically more united than many other peoples who have struggled for centuries to create what the Arabs have naturally.

The Arabs have a common multi-continent contiguous landmass with many resources, a common language, Islam and Christianity are accepted as two styles of worship of the same God/Allah. All of this has resulted in an Arab culture that has become dis-unified not in spite of, but because of unity.

Germany had to fight a war with its own states and foreign powers (Austria and France) to unify; Russia struggled against centuries of foreign invasion and wars; India is grappling with sectarianism as the socialism of Nehru is subsumed by Modi’s radical Hindu extremism; Philippines suffered centuries of oppression, first under Spain and then under the United States. The Arabs, however have only been colonised by European imperialists as recently as the 20th century, and even though the states of the Arab world are technically independent, many still suffer from the cognitive dissonance of post-imperial malaise combined with a sense of independence and freedom based on the previous thousand years of Arab history.

If the presence of a colonial settler state of Israel combined with American military meddling across the Arab world cannot show the Arabs their existing advantages of historic unity, what can? Instead they have allowed themselves to be manipulated. The Shi’a/Sunni divides are getting worse while previously they had been better. The Arabs, once the most unified people in the world despite healthy local differences, are now fighting amongst one another over small differences. They are dividing and conquering themselves. They have set up their own gallows and then invited the imperialists in to perform the executions.

With the exception of Spanish barbarism in the 15th century, and the crusader aggression, the Arab people have never known suffering like they have in the 20th and 21st centuries. This tragic reality may instill a sense of perspective, and serve as a reminder that they are one people, that they can put their minor differences aside and fight the real enemies: Israel and the West.

There is only one leader in the Arab world today who clearly and sincerely articulates the importance of Arabism and unity against common threats to peace and prosperity. That man is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While Arab countries stand divided along sectarian lines and remain compromised due to alliances with imperial powers who retard the progress of Arab freedom and dignity, only Bashar al-Assad and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party can provide a leadership strong enough to bring unity to the Arab world. This is a leadership that emphasises national liberation, personal dignity and collective prosperity. For the Arab world it is a choice between this, and oblivion.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, SyriaComments Off on Syria, Palestine, Awakening Through Suffering

Syrian Forces Counterterrorism Operation, ISIS Defense Collapses in Uqayribat Pocket ”Video”

NOVANEWS
 

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Qalamoun Shield Forces are working to liberate the ISIS-held area of Uqayribat which was encircled by government forces earlier this month.

The SAA and its allies have recently liberated Kherbet Bil’as, Mushrifat Huwaysis, Kherbet, Kherbet Tawil Bil’as, and Jub Abyad, closing in on ISIS units in Uqayribat.

The town is the last remaining ISIS stronghold in the area north of the Homs-Palmyra highway.  As soon as it’s liberated, government forces will be able to focus on lifting the ISIS siege from Deir Ezzor.

The Russian Aerospace Forces destroyed 26 more pieces of ISIS military equipment, including 4 battle tanks and 2 fortified strong points belonging to the terrorist group, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Monday.

The failed ISIS advance in the Ghanem Ali area allegedly allowed the SAA to develop momentum along the  Euphrates River.  According to the defense ministry, ISIS is now trying to re-group its forces in the province of Deir Ezzor.

Commanders of two Arab factions within the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Ibrahim al-Banawi and Fayyad al-Ghanim, have reportedly defected to the SAA in the province of Raqqah amid the growing Kurdish-Arab tensions within the SDF.

Earlier, reports appeared that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were preparing to arrest both of the commanders as well as some members of their groups: Liwa Jund al-Haramain and Liwaa Suqour al-Raqqa.

Kurdish militias remain the only real military power within the SDF and contribute all possible efforts to consolidate political and military influence in the SDF-held areas.

Meanwhile, the SDF has captured Mansour district and advanced in the Thakanah district in the city of Raqqah.  Pro-Kurdish sources speculate that the entire city will be liberated from ISIS within 1-2 months.

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syrian Forces Counterterrorism Operation, ISIS Defense Collapses in Uqayribat Pocket ”Video”

Syria and Lebanon Are Defeating the ISIS Terrorists

NOVANEWS
Syria and Lebanon Are Defeating the ISIS Terrorists. Lebanese Forces Pounding ISIS-Daesh Positions in Border Region
 

Whatever the West may think, and no matter what the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri may say publicly, the Lebanese army, in clear coordination with Hezbollah (which is outlawed in many Western countries) as well as with the Syrian army, is now pounding the positions of deadly ISIS/Daesh, right at the border region.

The army began the operation on August 19, 2017, at 5 in the morning, by firing at the terrorists’ positions in Jaroud, Raas Ba’albak and al-Qaa’ using rockets and heavy artillery. It all has an emotional twist: the army commanders declared that the operation was launched in honor of the country’s kidnapped military men and martyrs.

Apparently, Lebanon has finally decided: that, enough is enough! First Al-Nusra Front and now ISIS have to go.

Ignore the fact the Lebanese government went out of its way to say that the Lebanese army is actually not coordinating with Syrian forces, or with Hezbollah. After all, Mr. Hariri just recently returned from Washington, where he met the US President who is treating Syrian President Assad as his personal enemy, and Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Personally, Mr. Hariri likes the West, and he is very close to its loyal ally, Saudi Arabia, where he was born.

But Mr. Haririwas never elected. Lebanon is using a complex and obscure “confession system”, ‘distributing political and institutional power proportionally among confessional communities’. President has to be a Maronite Christian; Speaker of the Parliament is Shi’a Muslim and Prime Minister has to be a Sunni Muslim.

Therefore, one thing is what Mr. Hariri says, and other what most of the people of Lebanon think or do.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese resistance, politicaland social movement Hezbollah has also declared a joint anti-Daesh (ISIS) offensive with the Syrian army, at the other side of the border. The gloves are suddenly off.

Unlike one month earlier, when Al-Nusra Front was almost totally wiped out by the same coalition but in the end its fighters were spared and offered a transfer to a  ‘safe zone’ inside Syria (Idlib), this time there is not going to be any preliminary negotiation with the most venomous of all terrorist groups in the region. The message is clear: either the unconditional or at least irreversible surrender of all ISIS terrorists, or their total destruction.

By the evening of August 20, the Lebanese army was already holding around 80 square kilometers (roughly 30%) of the area that was previously controlled by Daesh (ISIS).

*

Before I departed from the Lebanese capital for Cairo, Egypt, I drank a few cups of coffee with my good friend, an intellectual from Syria. We were sitting in the middle of Beirut’s Christian neighborhood, Achrafieh.

“Let’s take a ‘selfie’ together,” he said. I was surprised; before he was known to despise social media.

“We are winning,” he said, “and that’s great… But you never know what happens next… There will be, surely, some terrible retaliation. Who knows whether we’ll see each other again, you know… Something may happen to me, or to you, on the way to the airport.”

I knew what he was talking about, and I have written about the situation many times before. Lebanon, in some of the non-Muslim neighborhoods of Beirut, has been literally saturated with so-called “dormant cells”, of various terrorist organizations, particularly ISIS. At any moment they can get ‘activated’, destroying hundreds of lives in this beautiful but long-suffering city.

Beirut is nervous, edgy. Great victories in the mountains liberated tormented local people, and Lebanon is finally regaining its territories. But the terrorists will not disappear from the country overnight. They may be losing big territorial battles, but they are still capable of inflicting terrible casualties on the civilians and even the military.

But so far, everything is moving rapidly, in Lebanon and across the border. The once astonishing number of almost 2 million refugees on its territory has gradually been reduced to 1.5 million, and then adjusted further down to 1.2 million. Soon it may drop well under one million.

Syrians are going back, confident that peace is returning to their scarred land.

The Syrian forces, as well as Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah, are clearly determined to stop the insurgency of several terrorist groups on the Syrian territory, while China is now also playing an increasingly important and positive role.

Most of the terrorist armies are directly or indirectly supported by the West or by its close allies in the Gulf. Turkey is also playing dangerous and deadly games in the region.

*

Almost no one is talking about the final collapse of the Middle East, anymore. Entire nations have been damaged; some went up in flames. Implanted militant Islam served well both the West and much of the Gulf. But Syria survived; it fought bravely and determinedly, supported by its allies and at an enormous cost, it has managed to stop the imperialists and their brutal extremist local offshoots.

While no one is celebrating, yet, the mood in Syria, Lebanon and in several other part of the region is suddenly upbeat.

The West is now fully discredited, while Russia has gained great respect.

As Lebanese and Syrian armies are, with Hezbollah support, conducting offensive against the ISIS, Russian jets, it is reported, killed some 200 terrorists heading for a region of Deirez-Zur in Syria. In the same period of time, US-led strikes killed at least 17 civilians in Raqqah.

Mr. Assad has no illusions about the motives of the Western involvement in the region. As reported on August 20 by SANA Syrian Arab Agency, he recently gave a powerful speech:

“…This conflict is a valuable opportunity for the West to ‘settle the account’ with so many countries and subjugating countries which have refused to bow to the West’s hegemony during the past years or decades, including Syria, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus among others, even Russia.”

President Assad continued:

“Today the West is facing an existential conflict….living in a state of hysteria whenever there is a state that wants to take part with it in the international decision-making in any field and in any place in the world”.

*

By August 27 2017, it was clear that Daesh (ISIS) fighters were cornered, if not completely defeated. The Lebanese Army agreed to a cease-fire in its offensive, after terrorists decided to lay down arms. Negotiations began. It appears that the ISIS may soon pull out of Lebanese territory to Syria, to a designated zone.

Victory came at a heavy price: the Lebanese Army helicopters were flying helicopters with body bags containing remains of the soldiers, over the capital – Beirut.

Across the border (as was reported by Press TV on August 27), helicopters were used for totally different goals:

“For the second time this week, a helicopter operating under the US-led coalition has transferred members of the Daesh terrorist group in Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr Province, a UK-based monitoring group says… Syrian sources said that the operation was accompanied by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ artillery fire… The sources speculated that the airlift was possibly meant to transfer US mercenaries fighting alongside Daesh or the terror outfit’s ringleaders who sought to defect…”

*

Tiny Lebanon is tied to Syria with an umbilical cord. It is a rocky, often extremely complex relationship, but during the historic moments like this it is clear that both countries can and choose to act in unison. The Prime Minister of Lebanon may like to flirt with Donald Trump in Washington and with Saudi Arabia, but the armies of both countries are clearly together, fighting the same enemy. And so is Hezbollah.

To both the Syrian and Lebanese people, it is clear who the real enemies of the region are. And they are definitely not Hezbollah or President Assad.

Posted in Lebanon, SyriaComments Off on Syria and Lebanon Are Defeating the ISIS Terrorists

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