Archive | September 27th, 2017

Facing Irma in Cuba: “¡Saldremos adelante!” (“We Can Only Move Forward!”)

NOVANEWS

“Saldremos adelante!” (“We can only move forward!”). This is what a colleague exclaimed during one of my several phone calls to Havana in the days after Irma unleashed its wrath on the capital.

Others, when asked how they, their families, colleagues and neighbours were faring, declared in a similar manner, “We are fighters,” “We are never defeated” and “We are in the battle for recovery.”

Despite this attitude, they were unanimous in their emphasis that Cuba’s situation is “critical,” having suffered the most devastating hurricane in about 85 years. This coincides with Raúl Castro’s message to the people, when he said,

“No one should be fooled; the task we have before us is huge.”

Another colleague remarked that the Cubans’ trademark solidarity immediately became stronger and more widespread in the course of Irma’s fury on Havana. For example, in a small apartment building without gas or electricity for cooking, one family used charcoal to prepare meals for all the residents, using everyone’s food that was otherwise perishing in their refrigerators. Another colleague, a journalist, recounted how she was able to meet the deadline for her story despite her office building remaining without electricity, thanks to being granted access to the headquarters of another news outlet. One can hardly imagine a similar situation taking place in the US! Would CNN and FOX collaborate this way? Would the capitalist New York Times share its offices with its diehard competitor The Wall Street Journal? In the same manner, in Canada, can anyone imagine such cooperation between archrivals The Globe and Mailand the Toronto Star? This is just one great advantage of the Cuban press not being privately controlled. All of the above and countless other examples are also reflected in Raúl’s statement “with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.”

In fact, only three days after these initial phone conversations, the same people reported that their electricity and gas had been restored but that, sadly, many small towns on the north coast have been devastated to the extent that normal services and housing had not yet come close to being restored.

The Cuban Revolution and Notions of Defeat Are Incompatible

The Cuban Revolution does not know the meaning of defeat. It likewise does not accept in its collective and individual minds the notion of fear or despair. This new consciousness began developing in Cuba since 1959, solidifying and deepening over the decades in the face of adversity. This unique feature was noticeable before Irma, but it has become ever more evident these past two weeks. Its latest expression in the dramatic days during and after Irma could not help one to think of the first two sentences of the Cuban Constitution, which states that Cuban citizens express “combativity, firmness, heroism and sacrifice fostered by our ancestors.” An early example of this consists of “the Indians who preferred extermination to submission.” The 16th-century Taíno Indian chief Hatuey is a legend in Cuba. On February 2, 1512, Hatuey was tied to a stake at the Spanish camp, where he was burned alive. Just before lighting the fire, a priest offered him spiritual comfort, showing him the cross and asking him to accept Jesus and go to heaven. “Are there people like you in heaven?” he asked. “There are many like me in heaven,” replied the priest. Hatuey answered that he wanted nothing to do with a god that would allow such cruelty to be unleashed in his name.

Raul Castro cropped.jpg

Raul Castro (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This fierce characteristic of the native people remains true of the Cuban people today. The same cannot be said of the European peoples, nations and their descendants as a whole, with the exception of the Cuban nation, which, faced with one adversity or another ­– whether it be successive hurricanes, Moncada, post-1959 terrorist attacks on the island, the Bay of Pigs or the fall of the former USSR and Eastern European socialist countries (with which 85% of Cuba’s economy was entangled) – have demonstrated an indelible feature of their collectivity: the impossibility to accept defeat.

Cuba accomplished this not only since 1959, but also as far back as the wars of independence in the second half of the 19th century. One notable example of this historical period is the Protest of Baraguá. Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceocould not accept defeat because he did not feel defeated – he had been winning his battles and had a good military organization. In the Baraguá (eastern Cuba) meeting with the Spanish, he strongly objected to the terms of the peace agreement, which the conciliatory section of the resistance to the Spanish accepted, deeming the agreement to be insulting and brushing aside its promise of concessions. Cuba is an eternal Baraguá, as they say.

This feature of the Cuban people having revolutionized their mentality as a people and a nation in a protracted process, obliterating any notion of fear and defeat while replacing it with a firmly based new consciousness, is not only inspired by the inevitable victory over adversity, but is also of historic importance for this century. In Latin America, the Bolivarian Revolution (with its more than 8 million proactive people) is another example, even though it has not yet penetrated the Venezuelan people or nation as a whole.

It seems as if the overwhelming majority of Cuban people have reached this new consciousness, as it existed among the native peoples for thousands of years. The latter’s mindset constitutes an entirely different mentality generally not found as a distinguishing characteristic among European nations and their descendants. The Cuban off-springs of the Spanish and other Europeans, Africans, Chinese and others as a new nation have been evolving in the course of revolutionary struggles since 1868, with a renewed spark after the 1953 Moncada attack. This fearless way of thinking and corresponding actions seems to have merged into an entirely new national idiosyncrasy that has far more in common with the heritage of the native peoples than with that of the Europeans.

“Survival of the Fittest?”

The words that follow may stir some interest as well as cackles. It is a historical fact that the Cuban Revolution has survived against all odds and predictions despite, among other factors, the five-decade-long blockade and the earthshaking fall of the USSR, which was supposed to have sounded the death knell for the socialist revolution. Instead, rather than merely surviving it, Cuba has evolved further – socially and culturally – while constituting an unprecedented model of international solidarity. And, let us not forget, all this has transpired within the limits of the blockade, whose goal, it must always be recalled, is the protracted genocide of the Cuban people.

While social science is far from able to provide an exhaustive analysis, explanation or encouragement of this rare phenomenon that is the Cuba Revolution, the metaphoric use of natural science may be of assistance in reflection. Charles Darwin showed that, as part of natural evolution, only the fittest survive extinction. The Cuban Revolution is indeed the “fittest,” in the sense that it has imbued the vast majority of Cuban people composing the nation to overcome even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This mentality of refusing to accept defeat was also reflected in the call by Raúl to his people, when he ended by saying,

“We face the recovery with the example of Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, who, with his unwavering confidence in victory and iron will, taught us that nothing is impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.”

Fidel is at once the main impulse and guide, through his thinking, action and example for the Cuban Revolution. He embodies this iron will to fight off attacks from all hostile tendencies inside and outside Cuba to defeat any challenge that stands in its way and thus come out victorious.

International Solidarity

The Cuban people have proven themselves to be world leaders when it comes to international solidarity, and the love they have extended to others has been rewarded with the rapid material and moral support of Russia, Vietnam and countries in Latin America. For example, in a briefing after Irma hit Cuba, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, with his Chavista flair, showed a video of a Hercules plane loaded with material support landing on a makeshift runway cleared by the Cuban government as part of reopening of the Havana airport.

More than ever before, Cuba needs and deserves such material and moral support. While Cuba receives this type of solidarity from around the planet, Trump has signed the Trading with the Enemy Act once again, and made a statement on September 13 about human rights violations in Cuba and Venezuela. This was followed by the callous statement of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He stated on September 16 that, in light of the alleged and totally non-founded sonic interference by Cuba against the American diplomats in Havana, the US is considering closing its Embassy in Havana. He said with a callousness completely oblivious to the suffering of the Cuban people by the very real Irma:

“It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals [American diplomats] have suffered.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s Canadian government is among the Western countries that have not issued any statement of support or solidarity with Cuba. This is a sad reality, given Canada’s special relationship with Cuba, having not ever broken diplomatic ties with the country. In fact, Justin Trudeau’s father was the first Western leader to visit Cuba and express solidarity with Fidel Castro and “Cuba Libre.” Justin Trudeau himself visited Cuba and met with Raúl Castro only days before Fidel passed away. Furthermore, Canada has been the biggest source of tourism for Cuba for several decades, to the extent that millions of Canadians have visited the island not only once, but multiple times, making Cuba practically a home away from home for many.

One may hope that the Trudeau government will rectify and at least express its moral support, which would very much encourage the Cubans, who are conscious of this special Cuba–Canada relationship forged to an extent by the Trudeau tradition. As far as critically needed financial and material support, Canada should overcome its self-imposed bureaucracy and provide immediate aid. According to the website of the Cuban Mission in Ottawa, the first on the list of material needs is construction material. Canada is the fifth in the world as far as lumber production and hovers between the first and second of the world’s top exporters of timber products. Should Canada not immediately consider overcoming any obstacle and make use of this plentiful natural resource that is so necessary for Cuba in this critical situation?

This obstinacy by some Western governments – such as the US, Canada, the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as others – is in contrast to the attitude of solidarity organizations and other institutions in these countries that are going all out to raise relief funds at the grassroots level to support Cuba. While all countries in the Caribbean also need this support, Cuba was the hardest hit in terms of quantity of infrastructure and the number of people affected by Irma. It is also a political issue, in terms of supporting the survival of the Cuban Revolution, which is now facing an unprecedented climate challenge. Furthermore, the hurricane season still has close to another three months to go, as some of my colleagues in Havana have pointed out.

The American Blockade and Irma

Cuba is also facing a new disinformation campaign from mass media and others. Many are having a field day describing housing, roofs and other structures as being “dilapidated,” which to an extent is true, especially in cities such as Havana. But is this a feature of the Cuban system? The impression given is that any problematic housing and infrastructure is entirely Cuba’s fault and thus proof of the “failure of socialism.” However, what about the effects of the blockade, which was mainly completely ignored in these reports or reduced to a footnote? As mentioned by Cuban colleagues in Havana who were consulted on this issue of disinformation,

“It is no accident that these media hide or minimize the effects of the blockade.”

The cumulative effect of the blockade since 1961 seriously hinders normal economic development in Cuba. The blockade itself resulted from the original genocidal goal to make Cuba bend to its knees and give in to the US empire. Watching Cuban TV during and immediately after Irma, it was clear that the blockade has had a cataclysmic effect on the damage, just as it is having now with the recovery.

Take, for example, construction and infrastructures, where “dilapidated” housing is more likely a direct result of the blockade, which led to $30,868,200 in damages in a single year alone, spanning 2015–2016. One of the main causes of damages was the lack of access to lightweight and efficient construction technologies and energy components, which are available on the US market or are produced by subsidiaries of US-based companies. Could this not be the main cause of the “dilapidated” housing, notwithstanding any Cuban domestic insufficiencies?

This situation requires that we outside of Cuba counter the disinformation campaign against the Cuban Revolution and demand the complete lifting of the blockade, as part of our expression of financial, material and moral solidarity with Cuba.

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The Rise of the New McCarthyism

NOVANEWS

Image result for New McCarthyism CARTOON

By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

Make no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.

A difference, however, from the McCarthyism of the 1950s is that this New McCarthyism has enlisted Democrats, liberals and even progressives in the cause because of their disgust with President Trump; the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as “un-American” and as Communism’s “fellow travelers.”

The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political “meddling” as an opportunity to “get Trump.”

Already, the neocons and their allies have exploited the anti-Russian frenzy to extract tens of millions of dollars more from the taxpayers for programs to “combat Russian propaganda,” i.e., funding of non-governmental organizations and “scholars” who target dissident Americans for challenging the justifications for this New Cold War.

The Washington Post, which for years has served as the flagship for neocon propaganda, is again charting the new course for America, much as it did in rallying U.S. public backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in building sympathy for abortive “regime change” projects aimed at Syria and Iran. The Post has begun blaming almost every unpleasant development in the world on Russia! Russia! Russia!

For instance, a Post editorial on Tuesday shifted the blame for the anemic victory of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the surprising strength of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) from Merkel’s austerity policies, which have caused hardship for much of the working class, or from her open door for Mideast refugees, which has destabilized some working-class neighborhoods, to – you guessed it – Russia!

The evidence, as usual, is vague and self-interested, but sure to be swallowed by many Democrats and liberals, who hate Russia because they blame it for Trump, and by lots of Republicans and conservatives, who have a residual hatred for Russia left over from the Old Cold War.

The Post cited the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which has been pushing much of the hysteria about alleged Russian activities on the Internet. The Atlantic Council essentially is NATO’s think tank and is financed with money from the U.S. government, Gulf oil states, military contractors, global financial institutions and many other sources which stand to gain directly or indirectly from the expanding U.S. military budget and NATO interventions.

Blaming Russia

In this New Cold War, the Russians get blamed for not only disrupting some neocon “regime change” projects, such as the proxy war in Syria, but also political developments in the West, such as Donald Trump’s election and AfD’s rise in Germany.

The Atlantic Council’s digital lab claimed, according to the Post editorial, that “In the final hours of the [German] campaign, online supporters of the AfD began warning their base of possible election fraud, and the online alarms were ‘driven by anonymous troll accounts and boosted by a Russian-language bot-net.’”

Of course, the Post evinces no evidence tying any of this to the Russian government or to President Vladimir Putin. It is the nature of McCarthyism that actual evidence is not required, just heavy breathing and dark suspicions. For those of us who operate Web sites, “trolls” – some volunteers and some professionals – have become a common annoyance and they represent many political outlooks, not just Russian.

Plus, it is standard procedure these days for campaigns to issue last-minute alarms to their supporters about possible election fraud to raise doubts about the results should the outcome be disappointing.

The U.S. government has engaged in precisely this strategy around the world, having pro-U.S. parties not only complain about election fraud but to take to the streets in violent protests to impugn the legitimacy of election outcomes. That U.S. strategy has been applied to places such as Ukraine (the Orange Revolution in 2004); Iran (the Green Revolution in 2009); Russia (the Snow Revolution in 2011); and many other locations.

Pre-election alerts also have become a feature in U.S. elections, even in 2016 when both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton raised questions about the legitimacy of the balloting, albeit for different reasons.

Yet, instead of seeing the AfD maneuver as a typical ploy by a relatively minor party – and the German election outcome as an understandable reflection of voter discontent and weariness over Merkel’s three terms as Chancellor – the Atlantic Council and the Post see Russians under every bed and particularly Putin.

Loving to Hate Putin

In the world of neocon propaganda, Putin has become the great bête noire, since he has frustrated a variety of neocon schemes. He helped head off a major U.S. military strike against Syria in 2013; he aided President Obama in achieving the Iran nuclear agreement in 2014-15; Putin opposed and – to a degree – frustrated the neocon-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014; and he ultimately supplied the air power that defeated neocon-backed “rebel” forces in Syria in 2015-17.

So, the Post and the neocons want Putin gone – and they have used gauzy allegations about “Russian meddling” in the U.S. and other elections as the new propaganda theme to justify destabilizing Russia with economic sanctions and, if possible, engineering another “regime change” project in Moscow.

None of this is even secret. Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, publicly proclaimed the goal of ousting Putin in an op-ed in The Washington Post, writing: “The United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so.”

But the way neocon propaganda works is that the U.S. and its allies are always the victims of some nefarious enemy who must be thwarted to protect all that is good in the world. In other words, even as NED and other U.S.-funded operations take aim at Putin and Russia, Russia and Putin must be transformed into the aggressors.

“Mr. Putin would like nothing better than to generate doubts, fog, cracks and uncertainty around the German pillar of Europe,” thePost editorial said. “He relishes infiltrating chaos and mischief into open societies. In this case, supporting the far-right AfD is extraordinarily cynical, given how many millions of Russians died to defeat the fascists seven decades ago.”

Not to belabor the point but there is no credible evidence that Putin did any of this. There is a claim by the virulently anti-Russian Atlantic Council that some “anonymous troll accounts” promoted some AfD complaint about possible voter fraud and that it was picked up by “a Russian-language bot-net.” Even if that is true – and the Atlantic Council is far from an objective source – where is the link to Putin?

Not everything that happens in Russia, a nation of 144 million people, is ordered by Putin. But the Post would have you believe that it is. It is the centerpiece of this neocon conspiracy theory.

Silencing Dissent

Similarly, any American who questions this propaganda immediately is dismissed as a “Kremlin stooge” or a “Russian propagandist,” another ugly campaign spearheaded by the Post and the neocons. Again, no evidence is required, just some analysis that what you’re saying somehow parallels something Putin has said.

On Tuesday, in what amounted to a companion piece for the editorial, a Post article again pushed the unproven suspicions about “Russian operatives” buying $100,000 in Facebook ads from 2015 into 2017 to supposedly influence U.S. politics. Once again, no evidence required.

In the article, the Post also reminds its readers that Moscow has a history of focusing on social inequities in the U.S., which gets us back to the comparisons between the Old McCarthyism and the new.

Yes, it’s true that the Soviet Union denounced America’s racial segregation and cited that ugly feature of U.S. society in expressing solidarity with the American civil rights movement and national liberation struggles in Africa. It’s also true that American Communists collaborated with the domestic civil rights movement to promote racial integration.

That was a key reason why J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI targeted Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-American leaders – because of their association with known or suspected Communists. (Similarly, the Reagan administration resisted support for Nelson Mandela because his African National Congress accepted Communist support in its battle against South Africa’s Apartheid white-supremacist regime.)

Interestingly, one of the arguments from liberal national Democrats in opposing segregation in the 1960s was that the repression of American blacks undercut U.S. diplomatic efforts to develop allies in Africa. In other words, Soviet and Communist criticism of America’s segregation actually helped bring about the demise of that offensive system.

Yet, King’s association with alleged Communists remained a talking point of die-hard segregationists even after his assassination when they opposed creating a national holiday in his honor in the 1980s.

These parallels between the Old McCarthyism and the New McCarthyism are implicitly acknowledged in the Post’s news article on Tuesday, which cites Putin’s criticism of police killings of unarmed American blacks as evidence that he is meddling in U.S. politics.

“Since taking office, Putin has on occasion sought to spotlight racial tensions in the United States as a means of shaping perceptions of American society,” the article states. “Putin injected himself in 2014 into the race debate after protests broke out in Ferguson, Mo., over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an African American, by a white police officer.

“‘Do you believe that everything is perfect now from the point of view of democracy in the United States?’ Putin told CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program. ‘If everything was perfect, there wouldn’t be the problem of Ferguson. There would be no abuse by the police. But our task is to see all these problems and respond properly.’”

The Post’s speculative point seems to be that Putin’s response included having “Russian operatives” buy some ads on Facebook to exploit these racial tensions, but there is no evidence to support that conspiracy theory.

However, as this anti-Russia hysteria spreads, we may soon see Americans who also protest the police killing of unarmed black men denounced as “Putin’s fellow-travelers,” much as King and other civil rights leaders were smeared as “Communist dupes.”

Ignoring Reality

So, instead of Democrats and Chancellor Merkel looking in the mirror and seeing the real reasons why many white working-class voters are turning toward “populist” and “extremist” alternatives, they can simply blame Putin and continue a crackdown on Internet-based dissent as the work of “Russian operatives.”

Already, under the guise of combating “Russian propaganda” and “fake news,” Google, Facebook and other tech giants have begun introducing algorithms to hunt down and marginalize news that challenges official U.S. government narratives on hot-button issues such as Ukraine and Syria. Again, no evidence is required, just the fact that Putin may have said something similar.

As Democrats, liberals and even some progressives join in this Russia-gate hysteria – driven by their hatred of Donald Trump and his supposedly “fascistic” tendencies – they might want to consider whom they’ve climbed into bed with and what these neocons have in mind for the future.

Arguably, if fascism or totalitarianism comes to the United States, it is more likely to arrive in the guise of “protecting democracy” from Russia or another foreign adversary than from a reality-TV clown like Donald Trump.

The New McCarthyism with its Orwellian-style algorithms might seem like a clever way to neutralize (or maybe even help oust) Trump but – long after Trump is gone – a structure for letting the neocons and the mainstream media monopolize American political debate might be a far greater threat to both democracy and peace.

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The BBC and Zionist talking points on the evening of 9/11/01

NOVANEWS

Image result for Zionist 9/11CARTOON

Kenny’s Side Show

On the evening of 9/11 the wheels of war were beginning to turn. The talking points were ready, the media was in on the game and the ‘official’ story was beginning to take shape.

The BBC was told who to interview. Those who were the architects of the event in some way or another were prepared to step into the propaganda matrix.

A couple of PNAC members, Richard Perle and Frank Gaffney and perhaps one of the leading planners, Israel’s own Ehud Barak, were tasked to mold pubic perception. It was all lies.

Here’s some of what they had to say:

The full Barak interview:

Comments: 

  1. The Propaganda Matrix…indeed.

    I happened to be in Van Nuys on the morning of the eleventh, coming from my home in San Diego the night before for an interview at Stan Winston Studios.

    I caught a glimpse of the tapeloop of the second plane hitting the tower when I went down to the lounge of the hotel for coffee. Then I had to get to the studio.

    When I left Stans, I got in my car thinking to visit a friend before heading back down to SD. But the roads were utterly deserted, and I heard about the nation wide grounding of aircraft, and I siddenly thought–I’d better get home NOW {who knew what might happen next?}

    I had NPR on for the Twilight Zone drive back to SD–not a SINGLE car on the road the WHOLE way–I got tho my place in half an hour–what would normally be a three hour drive.

    But it is NPR that caught my attention–the OBVIOUSLY scripted interviews with all the ususal subjects; all of them reading from the same page–and this unusual phrase “The Homeland” that kept popping up.

    In that short half hour drive through an altered universe I realized that this was a psyop.

    When I saw the first tower erupt like a volcano, I KNEW it.
    There was no way that the plane had anything to do with the towers exploding–IMPOSSIBLE.

    Of course the continuing parade of “experts” kept up the mantra and the myth was born.

    On the whole, Amerikans are STUPID.

    \\ll//

    Comment by hybridrogue1 | September 11, 2010

  2. I think it is less stupidity than ignorance.Most Americans appear to have no idea for instance of the number of countries the U.S.A. has bombed,attacked and invaded since 1945.Look it up,it is somewhere between 25-35.Why? Had any of those countries attacked the U.S.? No. This refusal to “look in the mirror” at their own appalling agression is the main reason for the loathing they so complain about. 9/11 was an inside job. It was obvious from day 2 when the Bin Laden family was flown out of the country.The cry of stinking fish should have made every American THINK.Did they???

    Comment by Michael Culver | September 11, 2010

  3. through deception we shall make war…Mossad
    America beware of the zionist jews …..
    The Israelis did 911…the evidence is overwhelming…do
    your research online.
    Stay away from the mainstream media…they own it.

    Comment by chencho | September 12, 2010

  4. TV eats your brains.

    \\ll//

    Comment by hybridrogue1 | September 13, 2010

  5. Jewish kingpins pulled off 9/11. All those Mossad junior executives surrounding Bush and Cheney. What was that guy’s name who schmoozed the 9/11 commission, Zelikoff? A very unprofessional coverup, if I do say so, but what proved the decisive factor was the Jewish media mindlock that hid the details of the greatest crime in American history behind the folds of waving flags and yellow ribbons. (And then sabotaged the 9/11 skeptics movement that followed; but more on that later.)

    The richest Jewish puppeteers in the world, David Rockefeller and Jacob Rothschild, signed off on this caper at a Bilderberg meeting, and it was carried out by the operations wing of the world Jewish financial octopus and its treacherous minions in the Mossad-dominated U.S. government as part of this omnidirectional push to exterminate people, and then turn them into thoughtless robots, a goal which has nearly been achieved.

    Comment by john kaminski | May 5, 2011

  6. Oh yes we do. We in the US who are paying attention know full well the countries the Pentagon has attacked. Frank Gaffney is such a zionist along with Wolfowitz, Perle, Hadley, Libby, Negroponte, Rummy, Rice et al….they are involved in 911. Bush and Cheney were never put under oath during their 911 hearings? Most people who are paying attention know or believe that the Mossad and the Bush Crime family were responsible for 911. Bin Laden’s family were friendly with the Bush crime family and were in business with George War Bush. Why would Cheney permit the Bin laden family to leave this country on 911…when even live hearts werent allowed to fly? Why wouldnt the FBI want to speak with them before they left….this is the greatest hoax ever put onto the world. Cheneys new book is admitting the horror he approved of. Where is the International Criminal Court, why arent they prosecuting these people. Goes to show the UN is as big a coverup of these horrors, and cannot investigate without involving themselves.

    Comment by spktruth200 | August 30, 2011

    https://youtu.be/yBCxYicxTow?t=79

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Syria prepared to discuss post-war autonomy with Kurds in geo-strategic blow to the US and I$raHell

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Syria prepared to discuss post-war autonomy with Kurds in geo-strategic blow to the US and Israel

By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has stated that once the conflict against terrorist groups is finished in Syria, Damascus will be willing to politically negotiate internal autonomy for Syrian Kurds.

Reuters quotes Muallem, who delivered Syria’s address to the United Nations, as stating,

“This topic (Kurdish autonomy) is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh (aka ISIS), we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future”.

There are several geo-political implications to this statement.

1. Seizing the initiative from the US occupiers 

First and foremost, Muallem’s proposals take the wind out of the sails of the United States. As I wrote previously in The Duran, with Syria and Russia quickly securing control over areas east of the River Euphrates, the US is being squeezed out of Syria.

Bearing these realities in mind, one of the only options the US has left is to use the Kurdish national cause in order to foment either a new puppet state in the region that is built on stolen Syrian territory or else create a permanently occupied entity similar to the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Apart from this, the US will have no choice but to either leave Syria or directly confront the Syrian Arab Army and most likely, also its Russia ally. Presently, the US seems unwilling to confront Russia by any means other than through the US of proxy/terrorist forces and this is unlikely to change.

However, given the extreme backlash against Kurdish separatism in Iraq, the US would not only retain old enemies but gain new ones, particularly in the form of Turkey. Ankara is vocally opposed to Kurdish separatism in Iraq and has threatened to take all measures necessary to stop moves in this direction. Turkey has an even worse relationship with Syrian Kurds. This would automatically mean that the US would be in for a very difficult ride if they backed Kurdish separatism in Syria.

With Turkey’s President Erdogan specifically telling Iraqi Kurds “The Israel flag will not save you”, Syria’s proposals would be a geo-strategic blow not only to the US but also to Israel.

2. Separating SDF terrorists from civilian Kurds with Syrian citizenship 

The Arab Socialist Ba’ath party has already given Syrian Kurds full citizenship rights which means that they are co-equals to Arabs as well as to other minorities including Assyrians and Armenians, both of whom are grateful to the pluralistic Ba’athist government for protecting them from foreign funded Sunni supremacist terrorism.

While it is clear that the Kurdish fronted SDF proxy militia is operating as a terrorist force in Syria, the old line about separating terrorists from moderates could work in a post-war scenario where the SDF has been defeated in certain regions and rendered irrelevant in others.

In exchange for negotiated autonomy, one which would clearly have to protect the rights of Arabs in ‘Kurdish regions’ of an Arab Republic, Syria could force Kurdish leaders to weed out those who have collaborated with foreign powers and create a new political paradigm for Kurds in Syria.

This would give the moderate Kurds what they want, it would protect the human rights of Arabs and Syrian minorities and it would allow Syria to further purge her soil of terrorists and enemy collaborators.

3. Leverage with Turkey 

Unlike Iraq which is currently collaborating with Turkey in military drills bordering separatist regions of Iraq, Syria has no plans to engage with Turkey after years of Turkey’s participation in the pro-jihadist war against Syria.

However, in actively preventing the formation of a Kurdish state in Syria through a negotiated settlement which Turkey’s new found partner Russia could possibly help to broker, Syria could effectively end the current ‘Kurdish excuse’ which is being subtly invoked by Turkey to justify its continued presence in Syria.

Furthermore, Syria could, possibly again via Russia, offer Turkey assurances that Syria will not allow for PKK activity directed against Turkey to foment on Syrian soil. This would be in the best interests of peace in the region as Turkey and Syria both need to eventually come to terms with the fact that they are neighbours.

Historically, Syria’s traditional regional adversaries have been Israel and Jordan and more recently the extremist Arab states of the Persian Gulf. These are the states Syria must be on guard against when looking to the wider future. Because of this, Syria and Turkey will and should slowly but surely normalise relations.

4. Containing Iraqi Kurds 

While Iraqi Kurds are politically at odds with their Kurdish counterparts, there exists a fear that the menacing separatist movement in Iraq could lead towards a greater Kurdish push for a multi-state land grab which would be supported by Israel, especially where Syria and Iran are concerned.

If, as is expected, Turkey sends its troops into northern Iraq, it would send a message to the wider Kurdish movement that Kurdish independence equals creating not a greater Kurdistan but a greater Turkey.

Thus, the example of Iraq when viewed simultaneously with the generous offer from Syria, may lead to moderate elements within the Syrian Kurdish movement making the pragmatic choice for guaranteed autonomy versus the prospect of Turkish domination.

Conclusion 

Far from being a concession, it was always expected that after the present conflict against imperialism and imperialist funded jihad, Syria would happily engage in a political process with various parts of the Syrian population, including Kurds, in order to develop a settled internal peace.

Syria, in announcing this now however, sends a strong message to radical Kurds and the United States. The message is clear, Syria is a sovereign country and the Kurdish issue is a purely internal matter.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria prepared to discuss post-war autonomy with Kurds in geo-strategic blow to the US and I$raHell

Cuba-U.S. Relations

NOVANEWS

A review of “Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond” by Arnold August

 

A new book by Canadian journalist and political scientist, Arnold August, has recently been published by Fernwood Publishing (2017) titled “Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond.” The book has a well-written Foreword by eminent Canadian scholar Keith Ellis (“Arnold August brings to the task his finest gift, his superbly developed talent as a journalist.”). Ricardo Alarcon, former permanent representative of Cuba to the United Nations, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Deputy and President at the National Assembly of People’s Power, wrote the Introduction to the book where in his last sentence he writes that Che Guevara’s warning, “never trust imperialism, not one iota,” “remains as relevant as ever.”

There is no doubt that August does not trust imperialism either.

The main focus of the book is an informed assessment of the scope and impact of the historic three-day visit to Cuba by a U.S. president in nearly a century in March 21, 2015 following joint declarations by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro on December 17, 2014 (17D) to re-establish Cuba-U.S. diplomatic relations.

Much of the content presented in the book is based on articles written by the author in recent years, which shows August’s long-standing study, research and foresight about many aspects of Cuba U.S. relations. For example, he condenses six of his previous articles in the first chapter to set the stage for the “historical/political context” going back to the inception of U.S. policy on Cuba. This is a good memory refresher and a clear response to Obama’s much-criticized stance during his visit asking Cubans to forget the long history of constant U.S. intentions to annex the island, and the subversion attempts against the Cuban Revolution.

Throughout the book one gets the feeling that the author writes from a solid Cuban standpoint as someone who has close knowledge of current events in the country and follows its political pulse. This does not make it a biased book, rather a book that gives Cubans a voice that has been silenced by the Western media for almost 60 years. This personal perception is corroborated by a full chapter dedicated to interviews with five Cuban authors and analysts who are active writers and bloggers, and who “contribute one or more specific perspectives” on Cuba-U.S. relations.

From them we hear, for instance, about the “hegemonic status of the U.S.” such that the “asymmetry…is so marked that one cannot speak of a normalcy based on equality between parties.” One cannot speak of “normalization” but rather of “co-existence between opposites.” Another analyst interviewed by August alerts us more explicitly,

Obama is engaging with civil society with a view to identifying the sectors that will come on board with the changes to Cuba policy that he wants to put in place”. He “has a carrot for civil society and a stick for the revolutionary government.”

This is a sentiment fully shared by August.

It is precisely because of this “new” engagement with Cuban civil society and individuals, much more prominent through the wider use of the Internet among Cubans, that the author refers repeatedly to the perceived danger of cultural aggression as the ultimate weapon to undermine the Revolution. The notion of cultural aggression in Cuba is not new but it is much more recognizable now as a serious challenge for Cuba. August writes:

The point of view that refuses to recognize the reality of the cultural war and pretends that it somehow disappeared with the Cold War, or 17D, has now in effect merged into the cultural aggression against Cuba. The cultural war’s long historical antecedents and dangerous wide-ranging shifts in appearances over time do not leave room for neutrality.”

August is clearly not neutral. As a French Canadian he is quite well versed on the threats of a dominant culture. He goes on to write,

The danger is amplified because the defence of the Obama policy increasingly exists both on and off the island, and they rely heavily on each other.”

In addition to the more obvious danger of an incipient “private sector” that could be easily co-opted by the U.S. to undermine the socialist system, August also refers to the subtler World Learning initiative for “leadership” training launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development as moving “from aggression to seduction” of Cuban youth.

It is not a secret that within Cuba there is an ongoing broad debate about the hope for Cuba-U.S. relations. It is evident that August decided to make his book part of that debate and does not shy away from a direct challenge to those Cubans whom he perceives to have “the mindset that assists the U.S. in subtly introducing its new tactics to achieve its same goal of regime change.” This may also be a challenge for the reader.

The book was published before we learned of U.S. President Trump’s much-publicized announcement of “reversal” of Obama’s policies towards Cuba. However, it is still a timely read mostly because Obama’s policy changes were more cosmetic than substantial. While the respective embassies remain open, the small concession for U.S. citizens to be able to travel to Cuba under fewer restrictions is now gone. The bulk of the U.S. blockade on Cuba was never changed and the U.S. occupied territory of Guantanamo has not been returned. Also remains the U.S. government continued goal of regime change in Cuba.

Will this push some Cubans to “miss” Obama’s rhetoric about Cuba? Will it confirm without doubt the long history of Cuba-U.S. relations and help close ranks around socialism?

At this particular time – when Cuba fights back the continued economic challenges, and the ongoing U.S. designs on the island, when Cuba brings about the necessary changes established by the Lineamientos (Guidelines), when Cuba moves towards its new social economic model while preserving the socialist system, and when Cuba is about to experience the first government without the historical leadership of the revolution to take place in 2018 – those of us in the Cuba solidarity movement must be alert but never fail to trust that Cubans are at the frontline of the Cuban Revolution. In order to do that we must support and rally for strong unity while the dialogue and debates will continue on and off the island.


Title: Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond

Author: Arnold August

Publisher: Fernwood Publishing (May 1, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1552669653

ISBN-13: 978-1552669655

Click here to order.

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Economic Sanctions Against Russia Flop. They Hit the EU Much More than Russia

NOVANEWS

According to The First Comprehensive Study of Anti-Russia Sanctions

Did U.S. President Barack Obama create the anti-Russia sanctions in order to weaken the EU in its competition against America? If so, the policy has been a huge success — it has enormously damaged the EU’s economy. But, if Russia was the actual target — as Obama claimed — then it’s been a total flop: It has produced $100 billion loss to the EU, thus far — almost twice as much as the $55 billion total hit to Russia, and the hit to Russia might be even less than that, maybe even zero, because the harms to Russia included the harms from the plunging oil-prices, which weren’t at all due to the sanctions. Furthermore, the sanctions strongly helped Russia’s economy, in ways that don’t yet show up in the economic data but that constitute long-delayed reforms whose pay-offs will start only during the years to come. Washington’s economic sanctions against Russia could thus end up producing a net plus for Russia, on a long-term basis.

The deal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry culminated with King Saud on 11 September 2014 (after his having started those negotiations on 27 June 2014) to flood the market with oil to bring the oil price down and so harm Russia, which is a giant oil&gas-exporter, has hit Russia very hard, costing the Russian economy perhaps all of the $55 billion hit to Russia’s economy, measured thus far.

These figures come from the first-ever comprehensive study of the effects of the sanctions, a study which also estimates the negative effects upon human rights (this Special Reporteur’s chief mandate), but the cost-figures cited here, are entirely economic, not about “rights” at all (which are separately dealt with in the same report). 

The study was issued, on September 13th, by the staff of Algeria’s, Idriss Jazairy, who is the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures. His mandate recognizes economic sanctions as being pre-invasion acts of war, and so as being threats to world peace, an up-ramp toward physical warfare. Mr. Jazairy has Masters degrees from both Oxford and Harvard, and is personally grounded in a democratic national legal tradition: Algeria’s Constitution explicitly is democratic: Its Article 6 is titled “Popular Sovereignty” and unambiguously states, in its Sovereignty Clause, which is the most important clause in any nation’s Constitution: “(1) The People are the source of any power. (2) The national sovereignty belongs exclusively to the People.”

However, the findings by Jazairy’s team have nonetheless produced criticisms against him and his team (not against the methodology or the economic statistics upon which the study was based) by neoconservatives such as Israel’s “U.N. Watch.” The U.S. Government’s “Radio Free Europe,” then cited “U.N. Watch” as an authority against “Russia’s state-controlled Sputnik news agency” for Sputnik’s having reported the findings. U.S. (and its allies’) ‘news’media had been silent about the findings, until Jazairy issued a response on September 15th to those neoconservatives’ objections, by headlining “UN Special Rapporteur rejects accusations of Russian influence on sanctions findings”.

At the time of the report’s release, on September 13th, there were only two news-reports about it, both from Russia: one on Sputnik radio, and another (the only report that was accessible to Western audiences), which appeared at rt-dot-com, which headlined “Anti-Russian sanctions cost Europe $100bn – UN Special Rapporteur”. Other than that news-story at RT, there was no coverage of this U.N. report, at all, in the West. 

It should be noted that the U.N.’s own press-operation does everything possible to block the public from having access to the U.N’s reports, so that even when Mr. Jazairy’s office issued that press-release responding to the neoconservatives’ criticisms, and he wrote there “I stand ready to address any questions regarding the legal or factual findings in my report,” that crucial link was to something inaccessible, instead of to the publicly accessible online link to his report.

Until the present moment, there has been no press-report anywhere that links to the publicly accessible web-page, or that quotes more than just a few words from Jazairy’s report; and, so, here that is — the core of his team’s findings (and boldfacing the passages that I consider to be the most important, so that the boldfaced parts constitute a summary of the study’s findings):

http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/59ba95824.pdf

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/225/95/PDF/G1722595.pdf?OpenElement

Human Rights Council

Thirty-sixth session

11-29 September 2017

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, on his mission to the Russian Federation … 

49. Most of the cases of unilateral coercive measures investigated by the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was created have involved measures imposed on developing countries. This is the first time that the mandate has addressed unilateral coercive measures targeting such a powerful and strategically important player of the international community. The high level of integration of the Russian Federation in the global economy and the capacity of its economy to react immediately to a changing reality makes this a truly unique case. …

Impact of measures taken

51. Application of the unilateral coercive measures began at the start of 2014, a time when the price of oil fell substantially. Thus, two shocks occurred simultaneously: the “oil shock” and the “sanctions shock”. In view of the complexity of the mix of those causes, it is difficult to determine the discrete impact of the sanctions shock. According to some unofficial estimates provided to the Special Rapporteur in Moscow, they may have caused at most an average reduction of 1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Russian Federation between 2014 and 2016. It remains that the main adverse impact of the reversal of economic fortunes was attributable to the drop in oil prices.

52. The following evolution of general living standards has been observed on the basis of the data provided by the Federal State Statistics Service; part of the evolution can clearly be ascribed to the “sanctions shock”, though it is impossible to quantify precisely to what extent:

(a) The trend of overall personal income of the population, which had been increasing at a rate of 4.6 per cent in 2012 and 4 per cent in 2013, was reversed thereafter, falling successively by 0.7, 3.2 and 5.9 per cent for the following years up to and including the first quarter of 2016;

(b) The number of people living below the poverty line (defined to be 10,000 roubles), which had been falling since 1992 with very few exceptions, rose from 15.5 million in 2013 to 19.8 million in 2016, or 13.5 per cent of the total population;

(c) Of those living under the poverty line, some of the most vulnerable population groups — the 7-16 age group, women of working age and pensioners — were reported to have been most affected.

53. In terms of macroeconomic analysis, the combined impact of the two shocks reduced growth from 1.3 per cent in 2013 to 0.7 per cent in 2014 and to – 2.8 per cent in 2015. As a result of adaptation to the post-shock situation, there was a turnaround in economic activity already in the first quarter of 2016, with a negative growth rate of – 0.02 per cent, despite the fact that oil prices remained low. That rate moved back into positive territory in 2017 without any lifting of unilateral coercive measures. Over the past 12 months, the rouble appreciated by 15 per cent against the dollar. This is evidence of a successful adjustment. …

54. While the unemployment rate overall remained around 5.5 to 5.6 per cent, small and medium-sized enterprises lost over 15 per cent of their employees over that period and were incited to reduce investment by the climate of unpredictability resulting from the sanctions.

55. The reasons why the impact of economic sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights was not more severe in the country seem related to the following facts:

(a) The Government applied very effectively a counter-cyclical policy by letting the rouble float and by increasing the share of the State sector to substitute for the sanction-imposed ban on foreign funding for the corporate sector beyond 30 days, by reducing considerably the rate of inflation through conservative management of the economy and by ex-post compensation of inflation losses incurred by pensioners;

(b) The economy demonstrated great resilience and a capacity to adapt to new circumstances through Government-assisted restructuring to promote local funding of projects formerly funded by external sources;

(c) The diversification of the economy away from oil was given new impetus;

(d) Emphasis on research was increased, returning to an earlier stage when, in many sectors, including space technology, the Russian Federation was at the forefront (it should be noted that, according to Russian officials, cooperation with the United States in advanced space technology was maintained, including for the supply of engines for spacecraft, despite the ban on the export of advanced drilling technology by the United States); this enabled the Russian Federation to enhance its oil production in the Arctic by developing its own capacities for horizontal drilling and its production of shale oil, for which it had previously relied on foreign partners;

(e) Effective import substitution technologies were put in place, in particular in agriculture, to dispense with imports from the European Union that were the subject of retaliatory measures;

(f) A policy was quickly introduced to pivot towards other partners in Asia and other regions.

56. As in many other countries targeted by sanctions, there was a “rally around the flag” reaction, which led the population to accept the inconveniences caused by the unilateral coercive measures. …

64. The rough estimate of the adverse impact of the sanctions on the Russian Federation, if disentangled from the oil shock, is an average loss of 1 per cent of GDP. That seems to be a reasonable figure since, after “digesting” the oil shock, the difference between actual and potential GDP for 2017 is of about 0.80 per cent according to the International Monetary Fund.24 That output gap would amount to a direct loss therefore of some $15 billion per annum for the Russian Federation or a total of $55 billion so far.

65. The resulting overall income loss of $155 billion is shared by source and target countries. Although both source and target countries can internalize those losses, it is not clear that any partner is cowed by them or indeed that any rights holder, least of all European smallholder farmers, benefits from them. Meanwhile, business opportunities are forgone, curtailing the right to development of trading partners. Even if direct losses to the Russian Federation from unilateral coercive measures were twice as high as provided in the above estimate, source countries are having to suffer equally or more from the sanctions than the country they target. They may also be more vulnerable as, unlike the Russian Federation, they do not all have a consistent international trade surplus or such high foreign exchange reserves, which, in the case of the Russian Federation, remained consistently above $300 billion since sanctions were applied.25 So, while the sanctions were more political than economic, they have led in the process to a regrettable deterioration of the standard of living of the most vulnerable population groups in the Russian Federation and have also adversely affected smallholder farmers in Europe.

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A Well-Kept Open Secret: Washington Is Behind India’s Brutal Demonetization Project

First published by Global Research in January 2017

In early November 2016, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington’s role has been disguised only very superficially.

US-President Barack Obama has declared the strategic partnership with India a priority of his foreign policy. China needs to be reined in. In the context of this partnership, the US government’s development agency USAID has negotiated cooperation agreements with the Indian ministry of financeOne of these has the declared goal to push back the use of cash in favor of digital payments in India and globally.

On November 8, Indian prime minster Narendra Modi announced that the two largest denominations of banknotes could not be used for payments any more with almost immediate effect. Owners could only recoup their value by putting them into a bank account before the short grace period expired. The amount of cash that banks were allowed to pay out to individual customers was severely restricted. Almost half of Indians have no bank account and many do not even have a bank nearby. The economy is largely cash based. Thus, a severe shortage of cash ensued. Those who suffered the most were the poorest and most vulnerable. They had additional difficulty earning their meager living in the informal sector or paying for essential goods and services like food, medicine or hospitals. Chaos and fraud reigned well into December.

Four weeks earlier

Not even four weeks before this assault on Indians, USAID had announced the establishment of „Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership“, with the goal of effecting a quantum leap in cashless payment in India. The press statement of October 14 says that Catalyst “marks the next phase of partnership between USAID and Ministry of Finance to facilitate universal financial inclusion”. The statement does not show up in the list of press statements on the website of USAID (anymore?). Not even filtering statements with the word “India” would bring it up. To find it, you seem to have to know it exists, or stumble upon it in a web search. Indeed, this and other statements, which seemed rather boring before, have become a lot more interesting and revealing after November 8.

Reading the statements with hindsight it becomes obvious, that Catalyst and the partnership of USAID and the Indian Ministry of Finance, from which Catalyst originated, are little more than fronts which were used to be able to prepare the assault on all Indians using cash without arousing undue suspicion. Even the name Catalyst sounds a lot more ominous, once you know what happened on November 9.

Catalyst’s Director of Project Incubation is Alok Gupta, who used to be Chief Operating Officer of the World Resources Institute in Washington, which has USAID as one of its main sponsors. He was also an original member of the team that developed Aadhaar, the Big-Brother-like biometric identification system.

According to a report of the Indian Economic Times, USAID has committed to finance Catalyst for three years. Amounts are kept secret.

Badal Malick was Vice President of India’s most important online marketplace Snapdeal, before he was appointed as CEO of Catalyst. He commented:

 Catalyst’s mission is to solve multiple coordination problems that have blocked the penetration of digital payments among merchants and low-income consumers. We look forward to creating a sustainable and replicable model. (…) While there has been (…) a concerted push for digital payments by the government, there is still a last mile gap when it comes to merchant acceptance and coordination issues. We want to bring a holistic ecosystem approach to these problems.

Ten months earlier

The multiple coordination problem and the cash-ecosystem-issue that Malick mentions had been analysed in a report that USAID commissioned in 2015 and presented in January 2016, in the context of the anti-cash partnership with the Indian Ministry of Finance. The press release on this presentation is also not in USAID’s list of press statements (anymore?). The title of the study was Beyond Cash”.

“Merchants, like consumers, are trapped in cash ecosystems, which inhibits their interest” in digital payment it said in the report. Since few traders accept digital payments, few consumers have an interest in it, and since few consumers use digital payments, few traders have an interest in it. Given that banks and payment providers charge fees for equipment to use or even just try out digital payment, a strong external impulse is needed to achieve a level of card penetration that would create mutual interest of both sides in digital payment options.

It turned out in November that the declared “holistic ecosystem approach” to create this impulse consisted in destroying the cash-ecosystem for a limited time and to slowly dry it up later, by limiting the availability of cash from banks for individual customers. Since the assault had to be a surprise to achieve its full catalyst-results, the published Beyond-Cash-Study and the protagonists of Catalyst could not openly describe their plans. They used a clever trick to disguise them and still be able to openly do the necessary preparations, even including expert hearings. They consistently talked of a regional field experiment that they were ostensibly planning.

“The goal is to take one city and increase the digital payments 10x in six to 12 months,” said Malick less than four weeks before most cash was abolished in the whole of India. To not be limited in their preparation on one city alone, the Beyond-Cash-report and Catalyst kept talking about a range of regions they were examining, ostensibly in order to later decide which was the best city or region for the field experiment. Only in November did it became clear that the whole of India should be the guinea-pig-region for a global drive to end the reliance on cash. Reading a statement of Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India, with hindsight, it becomes clear that he stealthily announced that, when he said four weeks earlier:

India is at the forefront of global efforts to digitize economies and create new economic opportunities that extend to hard-to-reach populations. Catalyst will support these efforts by focusing on the challenge of making everyday purchases cashless.

Veterans of the war on cash in action

Who are the institutions behind this decisive attack on cash? Upon the presentation of the Beyond-Cash-report, USAID declared: “Over 35 key Indian, American and international organizations have partnered with the Ministry of Finance and USAID on this initiative.” On the website catalyst.org one can see that they are mostly IT- and payment service providers who want to make money from digital payments or from the associated data generation on users. Many are veterans of,what a high-ranking official of Deutsche Bundesbank called the “war of interested financial institutions on cash” (in German). They include the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Gates Foundation (Microsoft), Omidyar Network (eBay), the Dell Foundation Mastercard, Visa, Metlife Foundation.

The Better Than Cash Alliance

The Better Than Cash Alliance, which includes USAID as a member, is mentioned first for a reason. It was founded in 2012 to push back cash on a global scale. The secretariat is housed at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDP) in New York, which might have its reason in the fact that this rather poor small UN-organization was glad to have the Gates-Foundation in one of the two preceding years and the Master-Card-Foundation in the other as its most generous donors.

The members of the Alliance are large US-Institutions which would benefit most from pushing back cash, i.e. credit card companies Mastercard and Visa, and also some US-institutions whose names come up a lot in books on the history of the United States intelligence services, namely Ford Foundation and USAID. A prominent member is also the Gates-Foundation. Omidyar Network of eBay-founder Pierre Omidyar and Citi are important contributors. Almost all of these are individually also partners in the current USAID-India-Initiative to end the reliance on cash in India and beyond. The initiative and the Catalyst-program seem little more than an extended Better Than Cash Alliance, augmented by Indian and Asian organizations with a strong business interest in a much decreased use of cash.

Reserve Bank of India’s IMF-Chicago Boy

The partnership to prepare the temporary banning of most cash in India coincides roughly with the tenure of Raghuram Rajan at the helm of Reserve Bank of India from September 2013 to September 2016. Rajan (53) had been, and is now again, economics professor at the University of Chicago. From 2003 to 2006 he had been Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. (This is a cv-item he shares with another important warrior against cash, Ken Rogoff.) He is a member of the Group of Thirty, a rather shady organization, where high ranking representatives of the world major commercial financial institutions share their thoughts and plans with the presidents of the most important central banks, behind closed doors and with no minutes taken. It becomes increasingly clear that the Group of Thirty is one of the major coordination centers of the worldwide war on cash. Its membership includes other key warriers like Rogoff, Larry Summers and others.

Raghuram Rajan has ample reason to expect to climb further to the highest rungs in international finance and thus had good reason to play Washington’s game well. He already was a President of the American Finance Association and inaugural recipient of its Fisher-Black-Prize in financial research. He won the handsomely endowed prizes of Infosys for economic research and of Deutsche Bank for financial economics as well as the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Prize for best economics book. He was declared Indian of the year by NASSCOM and Central Banker of the year by Euromoney and by The Banker. He is considered a possible successor of Christine Lagard at the helm of the IMF, but can certainly also expect to be considered for other top jobs in international finance.

As a Central Bank Governor, Rajan was liked and well respected by the financial sector, but very much disliked by company people from the real (producing) sector, despite his penchant for deregulation and economic reform. The main reason was the restrictive monetary policy he introduced and staunchly defended. After he was viciously criticized from the ranks of the governing party, he declared in June that he would not seek a second term in September. Later he told the New York Times that he had wanted to stay on, but not for a whole term, and that premier Modi would not have that. A former commerce and law Minister, Mr. Swamy, said on the occasion of Rajan’s  departure that it would make Indian industrialists happy:

I certainly wanted him out, and I made it clear to the prime minister, as clear as possible. (…) His audience was essentially Western, and his audience in India was transplanted westernized society. People used to come in delegations to my house to urge me to do something about it.

A disaster that had to happen

If Rajan was involved in the preparation of this assault to declare most of Indians’ banknotes illegal – and there should be little doubt about that, given his personal and institutional links and the importance of Reserve Bank of India in the provision of cash – he had ample reason to stay in the background. After all, it cannot have surprised anyone closely involved in the matter, that this would result in chaos and extreme hardship, especially for the majority of poor and rural Indians, who were flagged as the supposed beneficiaries of the badly misnamed “financial-inclusion”-drive. USAID and partners had analysed the situation extensively and found in the Beyond-Cash-report that 97% of transactions were done in cash and that only 55% of Indians had a bank account. They also found that even of these bank accounts, “only 29% have been used in the last three months“.

All this was well known and made it a certainty that suddenly abolishing most cash would cause severe and even existential problems to many small traders and producers and to many people in remote regions without banks. When it did, it became obvious, how false the promise of financial inclusion by digitalization of payments and pushing back cash has always been. There simply is no other means of payment that can compete with cash in allowing everybody with such low hurdles to participate in the market economy.

However, for Visa, Mastercard and the other payment service providers, who were not affected by these existential problems of the huddled masses, the assault on cash will most likely turn out a big success, “scaling up” digital payments in the “trial region”. After this chaos and with all the losses that they had to suffer, all business people who can afford it, are likely to make sure they can accept digital payments in the future. And consumers, who are restricted in the amount of cash they can get from banks now, will use opportunities to pay with cards, much to the benefit of Visa, Mastercard and the other members of the extended Better Than Cash Alliance.

Why Washington is waging a global war on cash

The business interests of the US-companies that dominate the gobal IT business and payment systems are an important reason for the zeal of the US-government in its push to reduce cash use worldwide, but it is not the only one and might not be the most important one. Another motive is surveillance power that goes with increased use of digital payment. US-intelligence organizations and IT-companies together can survey all international payments done through banks and can monitor most of the general stream of digital data. Financial data tends to be the most important and valuable.

Even more importantly, the status of the dollar as the worlds currency of reference and the dominance of US companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has recently run a chilling story describing how that works (German). Employees of a Geran factoring firm doing completely legal business with Iran were put on a US terror list, which meant that they were shut off most of the financial system and even some logistics companies would not transport their furniture any more. A major German bank was forced to fire several employees upon US request, who had not done anything improper or unlawful.

There are many more such examples. Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the US government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the US or in dollars basically amounts to shutting them down. Just think about Deutsche Bank, which had to negotiate with the US treasury for months whether they would have to pay a fne of 14 billion dollars and most likely go broke, or get away with seven billion and survive. If you have the power to bankrupt the largest banks even of large countries, you have power over their governments, too. This power through dominance over the financial system and the associated data is already there. The less cash there is in use, the more extensive and secure it is, as the use of cash is a major avenue for evading this power.

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UN Takes First Concrete Step to Hold I$raHell Accountable for Violating Palestinian Human Rights

NOVANEWS

UN Takes First Concrete Step to Hold Israel Accountable for Violating Palestinian Human Rights

Today’s media reports revealed that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights began sending letters two weeks ago to 150 companies in Israel and around the globe, warning them that they could be added to a database of complicit companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements based in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The letters reminded these companies that their operations in and with illegal Israeli settlements are in violation of “international law and in opposition of UN resolutions.” They also requested that these companies respond with clarifications about such operations.

According to senior Israeli officials, some of the companies have already responded to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by saying they won’t renew their contracts or sign new ones in Israel. “This could turn into a snowball,” worried an Israeli official.

Of the 150 companies, some 30 are American firms, and a number are from nations including Germany, South Korea and Norway. The remaining half are Israeli companies, including pharmaceutical giant Teva, the national phone company Bezeq, bus company Egged, the national water company Mekorot, the county’s two biggest banks Hapoalim and Leumi, the large military and technology company Elbit Systems, Coca-Cola, Africa-Israel, IDB and Netafim.

American companies that received letters include Caterpillar, Priceline.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb.

The Trump administration is reportedly trying to prevent the list’s publication.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, commented,

After decades of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli military occupation and apartheid, the United Nations has taken its first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Palestinians warmly welcome this step.

We hope the UN Human Rights Council will stand firm and publish its full list of companies illegally operating in or with Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land, and will develop this list as called for by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

It may be too ambitious to expect this courageous UN accountability measure to effectively take Israel “off the pedestal,” as South African anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu once called for. But if implemented properly, this UN database of companies that are complicit in some of Israel’s human rights violations may augur the beginning of the end of Israel’s criminal impunity.

Featured image is from Mondoweiss.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on UN Takes First Concrete Step to Hold I$raHell Accountable for Violating Palestinian Human Rights

The City of London – Capital of an Invisible Empire

NOVANEWS

In July 2017 director Michael Oswald’s latest film, The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire was premiered at the Frontline Club in London. It has since had several screenings in London and public screenings can be organised from November onwards.  This fascinating interview just published in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten explores what inspired co-producers Michael Oswald and John Christensen to make a film documentary about London’s role as the world’s pre-eminent tax haven.  Oswald and Christensen also talk about how London might develop once Brexit kicks in, exploring the possibility of deepening the City’s tax haven role through further tax cuts for the rich and more rolling back of financial market regulation and other social protections.

The key inspiration, according to Michael Oswald, was Nicholas Shaxson’s best-selling Treasure Islands, which explained the way in which the formal British Empire morphed into a spider’s web of tax havens gathering financial wealth from across the world and funnelling it through to the City. As Oswald explains, this helped to re-establish London as the financial capital of Capital:

At the time of the British Empire, Britain structured its economy not around manufacturing and productive sectors, but around finance. City of London banks provided the financing for the Empire and the colonies would pay interest to the City.

As Britain’s Empire declined, City of London institutions were increasingly confronted by circumstances that limited their ability to function and make a profit. It was out of this need that various financial interests sought to fashion for themselves spaces in which they could continue to operate and profit. In order to create these spaces they used the expertise developed during empire and the territorial remnants of the Empire, such as Britain’s dependent territories, financial expertise and networks established during Empire and the knowledge of how to establish, run and benefit from an international financial system.”

Much of the expertise built up during the final decades of the formal empire was focused on ways to avoid paying taxes both in the colonies and in Britain itself.  In the 1920s and 30s offshore companies and trusts were increasingly used to avoid and evade paying taxes.  In the 1950s, with the emergence of the London-based Eurodollar market, international banks found themselves able to operate in a virtually unregulated financial market which the authorities – in this case the Bank of England – treated in a totally laissez-faire fashion.

As Christensen says in the interview, successive British governments have not only turned a blind eye to the British spider’s web of tax havens, they have actively supported its growth by blocking international attempts to tackle it:

“Britain has consistently voted against creating a globally representative inter-governmental body to shape a framework of rules to strengthen international cooperation on tax matters. Britain has successfully resisted international pressure to take effective action against its tax havens in the Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and other British dependencies.

I have observed British officials blocking attempts to strengthen international cooperation on tax information exchange by keeping discussion on offshore trusts off the agenda. This happened as recently as 2015 when Prime Minister David Cameron pushed to have trusts excluded from information exchange processes. This is a pivotal issue since offshore trusts are key to the British tax haven secrecy model. Britain has also spent years blocking EU attempts to make progress towards a common approach to taxing multinational companies (the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base).”

Fast forward to the present and it seems clear, especially post-financial crisis, that Britain’s reliance on the City as the engine of growth in the UK economy is a risky development strategy. Christensen again:

“The British economy is heavily reliant on external trade in services which is dominated by financial services. Any shock to the financial services sector, for example arising from being denied access to the EU Single Market, would be highly damaging to the economy.”

Which raises the inevitable question about where the British spider’s web might go post-Brexit.  Many of the services previously provided from London cannot be provided without the Single Market, which will require London-based banks and law firms to establish permanent establishment with the EU-27.  The British tax havens see new market possibilities in China, India, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, but this will probably involve laundering ever larger amounts of dirty money and enabling ever more tax avoidance.  The problem, as Christensen sees it, is that Britain has failed to plan for industrial diversification for decades and now faces limited development options:

Prime Minister May and her finance minister have already indicated that deepening Britain’s tax haven role is an option. This is a sign of weakness since a race-to-the-bottom on regulation, secrecy and corporate taxation would probably expose Britain to risks relating to financial stability and fiscal sustainability.”

Is this a viable development strategy?  Unquestionably there will be winners: oligarchs, kleptocrats and the multifarious aristocrats, bankers, lawyers, spooks and retired politicians who benefit from Britain’s tax haven empire.  For the vast majority of people in Britain, however, hosting the world’s largest tax haven has no benefits whatsoever and offers only the prospect of further relative decline and social division.  As Oswald comments in the interview:

This is something we explore in the documentary, in the case of the US and the UK, services do not make up for the reduction in industrial capacity. Michael Hudsonexplains that it is through attracting international capital whose origins may very well be criminal that this has become a possibility in the US and the UK.”

Read the full interview here.

Posted in UKComments Off on The City of London – Capital of an Invisible Empire

Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Still Unconstitutional

NOVANEWS

Featured image: Donald Trump attends the 9/11 Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, September 11, 2017. (Photo: Jim Mattis)

After federal courts struck down Donald Trump‘s first two Muslim bans, his functionaries crafted a third one. In an attempt to withstand judicial scrutiny by convincing the courts it is not really aimed at Muslims, Trump’s new travel ban (Muslim Ban 3.0) cosmetically adds two countries — Venezuela and North Korea — that do not have Muslim-majority populations. Nevertheless, the new ban suffers from the same constitutional infirmities as the first and second Muslim bans.

Trump’s second ban, which had included slight changes from his first one, was issued on March 6 and expired on September 24. It restricted travel to the United States by nationals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

The new ban, issued by Trump in a proclamation on September 24, restricts travel by most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. It bars everyone from Syria and North Korea from obtaining visas. Nationals from the other six countries will be subjected to varying additional security checks. Iranian students are exempted from the ban. It also forbids Venezuelan government officials and their families from traveling to the US.

This newest iteration, like its predecessors, violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by prohibiting nationals from eight countries, including six with Muslim majorities, from traveling to the United States.

During the presidential campaign, Trump clearly stated his goal of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” That goal apparently continues to motivate his latest mean-spirited and unnecessary travel ban.

Muslim Ban 3.0 discriminates against people from all eight countries on the basis of national origin, which violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The United States has ratified both treaties, making them “the supreme law of the land” under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Trump’s new ban purports to specify how each of the eight countries falls short in providing the US with sufficiently detailed information about its nationals or taking adequate precautions to protect US security interests. But it fails to tie nationals of those eight countries to terror attacks in the United States.

In February, the Department of Homeland Security concluded in an internal report that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” Indeed, the Cato Institute found that since 1975, no Americans have been killed on US soil by a terrorist from any of the eight countries covered by the new ban.

Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, stated,

“Of [the newly added] countries, Chad is majority Muslim, travel from North Korea is already basically frozen, and the restrictions on Venezuela only affect government officials on certain visas.” She added, “You can’t get any more transparent than that.”

“For the countries previously targeted, the targeting continues,” Zahra Billoo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told reporters. She called the three countries added to the ban “token additions.”

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, concurs.

“Six of President Trump’s targeted countries are Muslim,” he said. “The fact that Trump has added North Korea — with few visitors to the US — and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban.” Romero noted, “President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”

The new ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents, people with valid visas, dual citizens traveling on a passport from an unrestricted country, foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic visa, those who have been granted political asylum or immigration parole, or people whose deportation would violate the Convention Against Torture.

Unlike Trump’s two prior bans, his new ban has no end date but requires periodic reviews. It allows for the granting of waivers on a case-by-case basis if an individual “has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” “has previously established significant contacts with the United States,” “seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen,” or “has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government.” There must be a determination that denial would create an “undue hardship,” entrance would not “pose a threat to the national security or public safety,” and entrance is “in the national interest.”

The discretion to grant these waivers is up to a consular officer or the commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, or the commissioner’s designee.

Muslim Ban 3.0 does not apply to refugees, who are currently limited by Trump’s first travel ban. New rules governing refugees will reportedly be announced soon.

On June 26, the Supreme Court agreed to decide the legality of the second ban when it reconvenes. Wishing to proceed promptly, the Court calendared oral arguments for October 10. In the meantime, the high court allowed parts of the ban to go into effect. But it specified that the government could not bar individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

Muslim Ban 3.0 violates the Supreme Court’s June 26 order by barring even those with a bona fide relationship. But the new ban is scheduled to go into effect on October 15, five days after the date when the Court was scheduled to hear arguments on the legality of the second ban. So, in light of Trump’s proclamation of the third ban, the Supreme Court vacated the October 10 court date. The Court ordered the government and those challenging the ban to submit briefs by October 5 arguing whether the issue pending before the high court — the legality of the second ban — is now moot in light of the new ban.

Several civil rights and religious organizations recently filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, stating that hate crimes against Muslims have almost doubled since the first Muslim ban was instituted.

Moreover, the National Iranian American Council issued a statement about the third ban, saying,

“Casting a wider net only validates … that the Muslim Ban was but the first step in a wider initiative to implement Islamophobic, racist, and xenophobic policies that pander to the desires of Trump’s White supremacist base. These are not ‘targeted’ restrictions but arbitrary ones that do not keep the country safer and soil our national reputation.”

Why did Sudan disappear from the list in Muslim Ban 3.0? Because, Ryan Grim and Alex Emmons write in The Intercept, the United Arab Emirates lobbied Washington on behalf of Sudan and in return, Sudan provided mercenaries for the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

“The travel ban is being weaponized in odd but predictable ways,” Grim said.

Sudan is not a beacon of human rights.

 “Sudanese government forces have purposefully attacked civilians in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile region, according to Human Rights Watch, and the sitting president, Omar al-Bashir, has been charged with multiple counts of genocide by the International Criminal Court, related to his actions in Darfur,” according to Grim and Emmons.

When Muslim Ban 3.0 is challenged in court, it should be exposed for what it is, and struck down as violative of the First Amendment, ICCPR and ICERD.

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Still Unconstitutional


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