Archive | January 8th, 2018

Russiagate Turns on Its Originators

NOVANEWS

Russiagate originated in a conspiracy between the military/security complex, the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee, and the liberal/progressive/left. The goal of the military/security complex is to protect its out-sized budget and power by preventing President Trump from normalizing relations with Russia. Hillary and the DNC want to explain away their election loss by blaming a Trump/Putin conspiracy to steal the election. The liberal/progressive/left want Trump driven from office.

As the presstitutes are aligned with the military/security complex, Hillary and the DNC, and the liberal/progressive/left, the Russiagate orchestration is a powerful conspiracy against the president of the United States and the “deplorables” who elected him. Nevertheless, the Russiagate Conspiracy has fallen apart and has now been turned against its originators.

Despite the determination of the CIA and FBI to get Trump, these powerful and unaccountable police state agencies have been unable to present any evidence of the Trump/Putin conspiracy against Hillary. As William Binney, the former high level National Security Agency official who devised the spy program has stated, if there was any evidence of a Trump/Putin conspiracy to steal the US presidential election, the NSA would most certainly have it.

So where is the evidence? Why after one year and a half and a special prosecutor whose assignment is to get Trump has no evidence whatsoever been found of the Trump/Putin conspiracy? The obvious answer is that no such conspiracy ever existed. The only conspiracy is the one against Trump.

This has now become completely apparent. Russiagate originated in a fake “Trump dossier” invented by Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 intelligence officer. It is not yet clear whether it was the DNC, the CIA, or the FBI who paid Steele for the fake dossier. Perhaps he sold it to all three.

What we do know is that the FBI used what it knew to be a fake dossier to go to the FISA court for a warrant to spy on Trump.

As a consequence both Comey and the FBI, special prosecutor Mueller, and Christopher Steele are in hot water. The Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, has instructed the US Attorney General to launch a criminal investigation of Steele for false statements to FBI counterintelligence officials. 

You can see where this leads as former FBI director Comey is a participant in the Russiagate attack on President Trump. To protect himself Steele will have to rat on who put him up to it. If President Trump had any sense, he would put Steele under protective custody, as his life is clearly in danger. If the CIA and the FBI don’t get him, the Clintons surely will.

Trump’s easy election shook the Republican Establishment as well as it upset the Democrats and the military/security complex. The Republican Establishment hates losing control. Initially the Republican Establishment aligned with Trump’s enemies, but now understands that Trump’s demise means their demise.

Consequently, all of a sudden in Washington facts count. Not all facts, just those relating to the Steele dossier. Be sure you listen closely and carefully to these two videos of US Representative Jim Jordan’s destruction of US Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for sitting on his ass while a totally corrupt FBI attempted to destroy the elected president of the United States. Keep in mind that Rosenstein is a member of the Trump administration. Why does the President of the United States employ people out to destroy him?

Here are the videos:

Here are 18 questions asked by US Rep. Jim Jordan:

1) Did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, author of the dossier?

2) Was the dossier the basis for securing FISA warrants to spy on Americans? And why won’t the FBI show Congress the FISA application?

3) When did the FBI get the complete dossier and who gave it to them? Dossier author Christopher Steele? Fusion GPS? Clinton campaign/DNC? Sen. McCain’s staffer?

4) Did the FBI validate and corroborate the dossier?

5) Did Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, or Bruce Orr work on the FISA application?

6) Why and how often did DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr meet with dossier author Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign?

7) Why did DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr meet with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson after the election? To get their story straight after their candidate Clinton lost? Or to double down and plan how they were going to go after President-elect Trump?

8) When and how did the FBI learn that DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr’s wife, Nellie Orr, worked for Fusion GPS? And what exactly was Nellie Orr’s role in putting together the dossier?

9) Why did the FBI release text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page? Normally, ongoing investigation is reason not to make such information public.

10) And why did FBI release only 375/10,000+ texts? Were they the best? Worst? Or part of a broader strategy to focus attention away from something else? And when can Americans see the other 96% of texts

11) Why did Lisa Page leave Mueller probe two weeks before Peter Strzok? This was two weeks before FBI and Special Counsel even knew about the texts.

12) Why did the intelligence community wait two months after the election to brief President-elect Trump on the dossier (January 6, 2017)? Why was James Comey selected to do the briefing?

13) Was the briefing done to “legitimize” the dossier? And who leaked the fact that the briefing was about the dossier?

14) The New York Times reported last week that George Popadopoulos’ loose lips were a catalyst for launching the Russia investigation. Was President-elect Trump briefed on this?

15) Why did Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before and after her meeting with Donald Trump Jr.?

16) Why was FBI General Counsel Jim Baker reassigned two weeks ago? Was he the source for the first story on the dossier by David Corn on October 31, 2016? Or was it someone else at the FBI?

17) Why won’t the FBI give Congress the documents it’s requesting?

18) And why would Senator Schumer, leader of the Democrat party, publicly warn President-elect Trump on Jan. 3, 2017 that when you mess with the “intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you?”

Insouciant trusting gullible Americans who “believe in our government” have no comprehension how totally corrupt “their” government is. It is the most corrupt in the world. The corruption in Washington is really unbelievable. You have to experience it to know it, and those who experience it are part of it and will not tell.

The orchestration “Russiagate” proves that the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI are so corrupt and unaccountable that they comprise the greatest threat to the American people in the entire history of America. The only solution is to break these agencies into a thousand splinters, as President John F. Kennedy intended, and rebuild them from scratch with total transparency. No more protecting their vast crimes under the cloak of “national security.” No classification of any so-called intelligence unless it can pass a unanimous vote of Congress and the ACLU.

The orchestration of Russiagate is proof that the alleged “national security agencies” are an anti-American force detrimental to our survival as a free people. The criminals in the FBI, CIA, and DNC must be investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned or freedom in America is forever dead.

If President Trump fails in this task, he will have failed America. Everyone of us will be the victims.

One question with which we are left is why has the mainstream media failed in its investigating and reporting responsibilities and instead served as a cheerleader for the orchestration known as Russiagate? The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and the rest are serving as public relations agents for Russiagate, leaving it to Rep. Jim Jordan to ask the questions that the media should be asking. What explains the convergence of media and FBI/CIA interests? Are hidden subsidies involved? As the mainstream media is behaving as it would be if it were owned and controlled by the security agencies, this is a natural question. Why is the media not disturbed by its close relationship to the FBI and CIA? When did it become the function of the media to help the CIA and FBI control explanations?

Posted in USA, Russia0 Comments

Trashing the Planet for Profit

NOVANEWS

Introduction

Before I began this essay I read through some of my past forays that mentioned climate change and capitalism, the first I think, being in 2006 where I opined in a piece on the ‘War on Terror’:

Perhaps the impending climate catastrophe as well as the genocidal actions of the US will force us to finally start thinking and acting ‘outside of the box’ but without a clear idea of where we are heading or how to get there, currently the situation looks dire. — WOT is to be done?  2 November, 2006

In the intervening years, things have gotten even more dire on pretty much every front. It appears that the world’s political and business elite are even more entrenched inside their box. Except, we do know what has to be done, so why, in the face of the obvious, do we not act to forestall catastrophe?

Pessimism, Progress…

For the most part, us lefties are optimists. We believe in the future, in progress, that things will get better, eventually. That the ludicrous idea that capitalism is the ‘end of history’, that in spite of its relentless propaganda, and notwithstanding the defeat of the first socialist experiments, that there is a future beyond capitalism, conditional of course, that we come together to fight for it, as there’s nothing inevitable about it.

But as things stand, it may well be that the human race is not included in that future. Bacteria maybe, but not us.

Personally, I’ve always been an optimist, that in the future, eventually things would get better. Progress, revolution. Not in my lifetime perhaps but eventually we would move beyond capitalism to a sane society. One not driven by greed and short-term gain for the few. Until that is, the reality of climate change hit home, but more on this later.

And the Personal…

After my father died when I was 10, my mother got together with a family friend and he became not exactly a replacement for my father but let’s say, almost, for around 12 years (he died in 2016). Like most of my family and on both sides, he was also a lefty. A talented person. Royal College of Art, a designer, an actor, singer, song writer and lecturer, and a communist his entire life (he was 85 when he died). Like me, he was an optimist. He believed in a better future, better than this miserable present; until a year or so before his death that is (I think he starved himself to death because of his change of heart).

I surmise that what brought about this change was his belief that it was already too late, we had reached the proverbial ‘tipping point’ and there was no going back. He believed that the changes wrought on the biosphere by 200 years of industrial capitalism were now irreversible. We were on the slide toward catastrophe and there was nothing we could do about it given the stranglehold the 1% have on the world. Perhaps even worse, that no matter what we did now or in the future, it was already too late to halt, let alone reverse, catastrophic (to us) climate change.

Trashing the Planet, one plastic bottle at a time

When I was a child, in fact into my teens, containers came in only three types; glass/ceramic; paper/wood/cardboard and metal. All were recyclable and for most part, they were. Our milk was delivered to the front door in glass bottles, by our Coop milkman, Billy. There was no deposit on them, we left the (clean) empties for Billy to collect, returned to the bottling plant where they were washed and reused, at least three times before being recycled. And as a teenager I worked every Saturday on that Coop milk float, horse-drawn, would you believe. The horse knew the route better than we did. It knew at which house we stopped for tea and chocolate digestive biscuits and when to move on. Billy rarely touched the horse and I never did, I was frightened of it, it liked to bite.

And we bought our fruit and veg in paper bags from the local greengrocer, not a hundred meters from where we lived. Ditto the bread, from the bakery, fresh baked twice a day, one hundred meters past the greengrocers.

Nostalgia? Perhaps that’s a small part of it but the recent statistic that in a few years time there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish goes to the very heart of an economic system that can only see profit and worse, can’t see beyond today, beyond short-term gain, even if its actions threaten its own future as a class, as a system. Insane? You bet!

But as I’ve written many, many times before (herehereherehere, and here to name a few), the 1% think they can survive the coming conflagration, that their money, power, technology and weapons will enable them to ride out the coming storm, sacrificing the defenceless of the planet in the name of profit.

The problem is that we are witnessing exponential, negative feedback, so what was predicted say 10 years ago as a ‘breathing space’ of 30 or 50 years in which to take steps to halt the slide is now predicted to be ‘only’ 10 years and no doubt soon it will be upon us. No years! How can one be positive in the face of these revelations without entering a state of denial or resignation?

Even more repulsive, the 1% have no problem sacrificing vast swathes of humanity to preserve their privilege and the rule of capital. The ‘other’ are after all, ‘surplus to requirement’. A vast army of surplus labour, global in scope, not needed by the privileged few. And the effects of climate change are happening now, never mind ten years time, in places like Bangladesh and Puerto Rico. Firstly, by doing nothing to change the economic system that’s caused it and secondly by doing nothing where climate change has already caused unimaginable disasters and suffering.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned

56 years ago, in 1962, Rachel Carson wrote ‘Silent Spring’, about the disastrous effects of synthetic pesticides on the environment and on us. For her trouble:

“Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a “hysterical woman” unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto, Velsicol, American Cyanamid — indeed, the whole chemical industry — duly supported by the [US] Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.” – Climate Change: World War III by another name? 4 December 2008, By William Bowles

Over 50 years later climate scientists have suffered comparable attacks, with the sociopath Trump, who far from being the exception to capitalist rule, actually personifies it in all its naked barbarity. The only differences is that Trump publicly avows that he doesn’t give a damn! What we witness with Trump’s irrational attacks is a system at the end of its tether so-to-speak. Enraged by its failure to achieve total hegemony over the planet, it lashes out like some wounded beast. Unless stopped, it threatens nuclear Armageddon to add to its list  of genocidal crimes against the planet and its peoples.

Is it too late?

But what are the chances of overthrowing capitalism before it’s too late to stop, let alone reverse the changes wrought by this insane system? Can organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and indeed, a whole slew of ‘green’ pressure groups, force the capitalists to reverse their suicidal trajectory?

Not until they stop avoiding the issue of confronting capitalism itself rather than the ‘morally uplifting’ but ineffectual route of the personal act e.g., not buying stuff in plastic bottles. Not that, as individuals, we shouldn’t stop buying stuff in plastic bottles but that real change can only come through collective actions, as a class that collectively opposes capitalism and furthermore advocates an alternative way of living. For myself, I don’t see any other alternative than to some form of socialism.

Thus the current drive against the production of plastic bottles once more puts the onus on us, or the current fad around plastic-lined paper coffee cups (all ten billion of them) again, it puts the onus on us. But there is no call to ban their production or ban the production of the endless stream of plastic cartons, wrappings and boxes that are filling up the oceans and our waste tips. Make us pay for it instead with a levy (tax) on their sale. A tax no doubt that will be used to wage ever more wars on the planet. And we have to face the fact that we can’t have our cake and eat it, when it’s the planet and its peoples that paying the price for our useless and unhappy lives, in spite of the gadgets and 4K TVs.

As ever, the public and the planet pay the price for capitalist, profit-driven production. But ultimately it is actually our responsibility but it’s of a different order than being obedient but ‘responsible’ consumers by recycling this and that. It’s by tackling the issue at its root, capitalism. This is a qualitatively different struggle that requires not individual actions (though they are important), but organised, collective action to transform the way we make our living; our economic mode of production.

Moreover, it will require sacrifice on our part. We will have to decide how want to live our lives. I fear however that by the time we decide that going into debt to buy all the crap that ends up sitting in cupboards unused across the nation (allegedly 30% of it), it will be too late for us to do anything about it.

What is to be Done?

So, is it hopeless? Everything in me cries out, no, it’s not hopeless! We can do something about it before it’s too late. But what exactly, are the somethings that we need to do?

I think some of the initial somethings are self-evident, well at least to me. For example, the existing environmental/green groups need to wake up and smell the coffee and join with what’s left of our left and in turn, what’s left of our left needs to wake and smell the coffee too and put a stop to its imperial thinking and stop telling the rest of the planet what to do and concentrate on the problem of how to deal with the contradiction of being privileged citizens of the Imperialist world and at the same time calling ourselves socialists. Furthermore, what’s left of our left needs to stop cannibalising itself by spending most of its time attacking the various left factions and focus instead on tackling the real enemy, capitalism.

There is another issue which I fear is probably even more difficult to deal with and that’s our understanding (or lack of it) of what happens outside the imperial ‘bubble’ we live in. A friend of mine pointed it out to me the other day, noting that I had the advantage of having lived on three continents, including Africa. I had, at least in theory, the advantage of knowing what it was like to experience the reality of a world shaped by imperialism, one that has enabled me to step outside that bubble of imperial privilege, that influences even the most allegedly radical lefty.

It comes down to the ability to empathise, or not, with another person’s reality. To be able to put one’s self in another person’s shoes. To see and experience their reality rather than impose our own onto theirs. Hence an alleged lefty, indeed a ‘professional’ lefty like Tariq Ali, who said in 2012:

“He [Assad] has to be pushed out” – Assad must go to save Syria from interventionRT, 15 February 2012

By what right does Ali say this? The issue really is not about whether Assad should or shouldn’t go but about Ali’s almost divine right to lay down the law about another country from his privileged position as a citizen of Empire. The fact that he said it allegedly in the context that it would avert Western intervention if Assad stepped aside, totally misses the point, for if Assad was to go, it would mean that Imperialism had succeeded in its objective without the need for intervention! Duh! Ali attempted to rationalise his position by stating that:

“[Ali] believes that once Assad falls, the new government will keep good relations with Iran, because this will be in the interest of the new democratic government.” – Tariq Ali says Assad has to go: I’m depressed – no, I’m outraged, By William Bowles, 15 February 2012

I responded, ‘What new democratic government?’ Total wishful thinking on Ali’s part as it assumes that that’s what the West wants, a democratic government and should Assad step aside, that’s what Syria would get. Duh! Talk about self-delusion!

It exemplifies the contradiction of being an alleged socialist at home and enjoying the privilege of being part of the Empire’s intellectual elite and paid very well thank you very much, whilst dictating to Syria what it should and shouldn’t do. I fail to see the distinction between Ali’s arrogance and that of the West, that called for exactly the same thing! Assad has to go!

Furthermore, it reveals the gulf that has to be bridged between us and the proverbial ‘them’, the ‘other’. No mean stretch. It also illustrates the problem we face here, at home, in the belly of the beast of coming to terms with our responsibilities to the planet that we have raped for the past 500 years and continue to rape in order to preserve our (relative) privilege.

Perhaps this in part explains why collectively, we refuse to accept responsibility for the state of the planet. Yes, ultimately, it’s the economic system, capitalism that’s doing the damage but surely it’s time we also accept responsibility for our role in maintaining an unsustainable economic system, a system that in the short term we all benefit from.

Posted in Health, Politics0 Comments

Trump Preparing to Diplomatically Recognize Kurdish Control over Huge Swathe of Syria

 NOVANEWS

According to an unnamed senior Western official, US President Donald Trump is preparing to diplomatically recognize the areas of Syria that the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

“The 28,000 square km territory, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a collection of predominantly Kurdish militias including the YPG People’s Protection Units, took its first step toward US recognition after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to send US diplomats to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside US troops operating in the region,” the report said.

The SDF control the parts of Syria seen in yellow.

“According to the official, US initiatives in the region include empowering local councils, backing reconstruction efforts, assisting in training of government agency workers, improving public services and infrastructure, protecting SDF areas and engaging in the upkeep of military bases, all of which will eventually lead to diplomatic recognition,” the report continued.

Posted in USA, Syria0 Comments

How the Washington Post Became the US Military-Industrial Complex’s Chief Propagandist

It used to be that the New York Times and the Washington Post competed against each other to be the chief propagandist for the hundred or so top firms who sell to the US federal government — the 100 top “federal contractors,” almost all of which are Pentagon contractors — mainly these are weapons-manufacturing firms, such as the biggest, Lockheed Martin. The federal government is a large part of these firms’ essential market; so, invasions by the US against other countries require lots of their goods and services; and, also, America’s foreign allies additionally buy these weapons; and, right now, US President Trump is demanding that they increase their ‘defense’ budgets to buy more of them.

Wars produce corporate profits if (like in the United States) the military suppliers are private corporations instead of government-owned (socialized). Selling wars is crucial to such firms’ bottom lines. And, since there is no law against owning a ‘defense’ contractor and owning or donating to newsmedia (especially newsmedia such as the Times and Post, which publish lots of international news and so can encourage lots of invasions), a sensible business strategy for investors in ‘defense’ stocks is to also own or donate to some international-‘news’ media, in order to generate additional business for the arms-maker or other ‘defense’ firm. Not only does this business-plan relate to such newspapers as the NYT and WP, but they’ll be the focus here, because they are the most important of America’s international-news media.

Serious periodicals, such as The New RepublicThe Atlantic, and Mother Jones, have also been steady propagandists for ‘defense’ companies, but magazines don’t reverberate through the rest of the mass-media to the extent that the serious national (NYC & DC) newspapers do. TV and radio pick up on, and transmit, their news (and even CNN and others rely upon them more than these newspapers rely upon the broadcast media); and, in America, a lion’s share of the national political news, and especially of international news, is originated in the New York Times and Washington Post. This megaphone-effect forms the public’s opinions about whether we should invade or not. The owners of those two powerful newspapers, via their boards of directors and appointed editorial boards, make the key decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotions, and demotions, which determine news-slants from their employees (both from the reporters and especially from the editors who select what stories to publish and whether on page-one or inside the paper), and this power that these owners have, reverberates immensely (especially in regards to international relations) and thus largely shapes the results in the national polls (sampling the public, who view the world through the newsmedia); and, thus, every US President and every member of Congress becomes heavily impacted by that ‘news’, that ‘world’ the voting public see. And this coloring of the ‘news’ especially concerns international-news reporting, and the opinions that Americans have of foreign countries — such as of Iran.

Back in 2002, when the US Government was lying through its teeth about what it knew for certain and didn’t know about “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD),” the New York Times (NYT) was then the leading neoconservative (i.e., pro-imperialistic, pro-invasion, pro military-industrial-complex or “MIC”) propaganda-organ, stenographically transmitting to the public this Government’s provably false allegations, and the Washington Post (WP) was only #2 in this regard. But that order has now switched, and now the WP is even worse.

The latest MIC-promoted top story-line concerns the protests in Iran — a country the US long controlled via America’s agent, the brutal Shah, by and after a 1953 CIA coup there, and which country thus very reasonably loathes and fears the US Government. What caused these protests, and what they mean, are much in the news; and, the news-reporting and editorials and op-eds in the NYT have been significantly more honest and varied than in the WP. Here’s a sampling of that:

As of the time of this writing (January 5th), there has not yet been an editorial from the NYT regarding the protests in Iran. (Similarly, many other newspapers, such as Britain’s Guardian, haven’t yet ventured official editorial opinions regarding this matter.) However, one opinion-piece that has been published regarding it, has become an especially prominent target of attack by the more overtly pro-MIC propagandists: the NYT’“How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet.” It’s by “a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was an assistant secretary of state and White House coordinator for the Middle East during the Obama administration.” That writer closes by saying:

“If Mr. Trump blows up the [Iran nuclear] deal and reimposes sanctions, he will not be doing the opposition a favor but instead giving Iranians a reason to rally to — rather than work against — the government they might otherwise despise. The protests taking place in Iran today are perhaps a sign that, in the long run, the Iranian people want to be accepted as free, responsible members of the international community and that in time they might demand and achieve real change. The best way for Mr. Trump to help test that proposition and increase the chance of its success is to do nothing.”

That’s a rare example of an anti-MIC (military-sales-suppressing) opinion-piece in a major American ‘news’medium.

Less ‘controversial’ (more clearly mainstream) than that has been another NYT opinion-piece, “The Worst Thing for Iran’s Protesters? US Silence.” It’s by “a former Iranian-targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, … a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” The FDD is an Israeli front US think-tank, funded by many MIC-invested billionaires in both countries. The author concludes:

“The Trump administration can do better [than did the Obama Administration]. The president’s tweets in support of the protesters were a good start. Washington should also let loose a tsunami of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, the linchpin of Iran’s dictatorship. Policy-wise, that would be a good place to start. Contrary to received wisdom, the absolute worst thing that the United States can do for the Iranian people is to stay silent and do nothing.”

Another NYT op-ed is “Why Iran Is Protesting” and it’s by “an Iranian novelist and journalist.” He concludes that in Iran,

“something has fundamentally changed: The unquestioning support of the rural people they relied on against the discontent of the metropolitan elite is no more. Now everyone seems unhappy.”

That too is mainstream — it implies that the people of Iran have a bad Government, which should be removed.

The closest thing yet to being a NYT editorial on the subject of these protests is a column by the Times’s Roger Cohen, “Trump Is Right, This Time, About Iran.” It closes by advising the Administration:

“It should not, whatever happens, impose new sanctions: They only benefit the Revolutionary Guards. And it should learn, finally, that Iran is not, as Steve Bannon told Joshua Green, ‘like the fifth century — completely primeval’ — but rather a sophisticated society of deep culture full of unrealized promise better served by engagement than estrangement.”

That is a remarkably sympathetic (to the Iranian people) statement, but it nonetheless argues the exact opposite: “Trump Is Right, This Time, About Iran.” Its conclusion is the opposite of its title, but the main part of the article’s text is irrelevant to both the title and the conclusion. People such as this become columnists at top ‘news’media.

Those are the relevant opinions selected by the owner of the NYT for publication. They’re pro-MIC, but not fanatically so.

The WP published on January 1st their editorial on the subject, “The Post’s View: The West should support the protesters in Iran.” It’s like Roger Cohen’s column in the NYT. It closes:

“Mr. Trump should avoid acts that would undercut the protests and empower the regime’s hard-liners. Foremost among these would be a renunciation of the 2015 nuclear accord. That would divide the United States from European governments when they should be coordinating their response to the uprising, and it would give the regime an external threat against which to rally. Reform of the nuclear accord can wait. Now is the time for Mr. Trump to focus on supporting the people of Iran.”

Both Roger Cohen and the WP favor “supporting the people of Iran” while opposing and hoping for an overthrow of the President who was chosen by those people in the 2017 Iranian Presidential election, which was at least as democratic as was America’s 2016 US Presidential election. The Iranian polls right before the 19 May 2017 Presidential election showed the top three candidates as being Rouhani 35%, Raisi 18%, and Ghalibaf 2%. (20% “Won’t say.”) Ghalibaf and some of the other and even smaller candidates withdrew just days before the election. The final election result was Rouhani 57.14%, Raisi 38.28%. Raisi campaigned on a platform emphasizing that “Preventing the mixing of men and women in the office environment means that men and women can serve the people better” and advocating “Islamization of universities, revision of the Internet and censorship of Western culture.” Probably many of the recent protesters had voted for him. Perhaps if Iran becomes ruled by a “regime” instead of by an at least marginally democratic Government, then they’ll get a President like Raisi, after the US coup — which would be America’s second one in Iran. But, instead, Iranians chose Rouhani — and the U.S Government and its media call it a “regime” and say that the US Government wants to “support the people of Iran” by overthrowing the Government that Iranians voted for and support — support more than Americans support ours. (But whereas America’s CIA stirs protest-groups to overthrow Iran’s leaders, Iran has no equivalent operating in America, to overthrow our aristocracy’s choice of our leader.)

On January 3rd, the WP issued an opinion-piece by US V.P. Mike Pence, whose views are much closer to Raisi’s than to Rouhani’s. It was titled, “This time, we will not be silent on Iran.”

Another opinion-piece from the WP was the far-right Israeli Natan Sharansky’s ”The West should stop dithering and show its support for the protesters in Iran”, which attacked the Times’s “How Can Trump Help Iran’s Protesters? Be Quiet.” Sharansky said:

“As an opinion piece in the New York Times recently put it, the best way for the US government to help the Iranian protesters is to ‘Keep quiet and do nothing.’ Fortunately, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have already shown themselves unwilling to follow this advice.”

Yet another opinion-piece that the WP’s editors selected for publication on this topic was “Europe’s best chance on Iran could soon evaporate.” It criticized the Iran nuclear deal, and urged the Trump Administration to work with the EU “to sculpt a bipartisan policy that can save us from the next crisis, which is quickly coming our way.” This string of clichés ignored the fact that the only two actual available options for the US are to commit to the deal or else to depart from the deal; because Iran won’t leave it unless the US does, but it might leave it if the US does. And then, everything would be worse than it was previously. For the US to leave it while some of its allies don’t, would turn those allies to opposing the US Government and supporting Iran’s Government. And for the US to ‘renegotiate’ it would be impossible. Any European Government that would join with the US in order to attempt to force Iran to renegotiate it, would become embarrassed amongst its EU colleagues, and amongst its public. And yet, still, Iran would promptly resume its prior nuclear program, not renegotiate. To force Iran isn’t going to be so easy as such commentators presume it will. The article didn’t say how anything that it proposed to be achieved, could be achieved. It was simply trash.

Another WP opinion-piece was “The protesters in Iran need real help from Washington” and it was written by a top official of a think thank, WINEP, about which, as one knowledgeable person has said,

“WINEP was to be AIPAC’s cutout. It was funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located one door away, down the hall, from AIPAC Headquarters (no more. It has its own digs). It would also hire all kinds of people not identified with Israel as a cover.”

None of this information was revealed by WP about the piece’s author. It can only be called blatant Israeli propaganda, surreptitiously fed to readers as if it weren’t.

The WP columnist David Ignatius bannered “Trump is right to tell Iran the world is watching.” He closed by saying, about the “surprise explosion” of these protests:

“Khamenei will want to crush it. The best gift the United States can give the Iranian people is a digital lifeline, so humanity can witness their brave struggle and encourage them to prevail.”

The US regime already gave the Iranian people its ‘best gift’ in 1953 when it destroyed their democracy and instituted a 26-year-long dictatorship — and, Iranians can see through the US propaganda-media’s hypocrisies, even if the US public have been too deceived by those media, for too long, to be able to see through those lies.

So, the WP has become even more neoconservative (i.e, more in favor of invading countries that haven’t invaded us) now than it was back in 2002 when it cheered on George W. Bush’s lies about Iraq, after 9/11. How did this change happen?

In 2013, Jeff Bezos and Donald Graham met at the Bilderberg conference, and two months later, Bezos agreed to buy the Washington Post from Graham. Less than a year after that, Bezos’s Amazon won the CIA-NSA cloud computing contract, vital to the US military. Bezos’s most profitable operation has been that military contract — it is allegedly responsible for changing Amazon from a money-losing to a profit-making corporation. The money-losing Washington Post already had been, under Graham and before, a longstanding supporter of US armed invasions, which now require lots of cloud computing (and not only of the types of weaponry that Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, etc., supply). For example: the WP was gung-ho for regime-change in Iraq in 2002, as well as, more recently, for bombing Libya, Syria, and the bombing in Ukraine’s civil war after the coup. The main topic at the next year’s, 2014, meeting of the Bilderberg group was the war in Ukraine, but other wars were also on the agenda, such as Syria, and so were President Obama’s ’trade’ treaties: TPP, TTIP, and TISA. Luminaries present at that year’s secret discussions were Timothy Geithner, Eric Schmidt, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Charles Murray, etc., and Europeans such as Christine Lagarde and Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Perhaps some sales were made there, too.

Meanwhile, the NYT became the most-frequently-cited mis-reporter of such things as “Saddam’s WMD” during the years after the 2003 invasion on the basis of lies; and its publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., was forced quietly to fire his close friend and star White House stenographer (oops, ‘reporter’ — and she was even a Pulitzer-winning one!), Judith Miller, on account of the fraud-based Iraq War that she had so prominently and exceptionally helped to promote in her ‘news’-stories. Probably, Sulzberger’s successor, Arthur G. Sulzberger, is happy that when on 14 December 2017 his father handed the corporation’s controls over to him (effective on January 1st), the NYT’s position as the nation’s #1 PR-agent for US invasions has now been taken over by Jeff Bezos’s WP.

But, of course, Sulzberger’s profits don’t depend nearly as much on America’s MIC as Bezos’s do. The WP’s business plan is even more dependent upon war-promotion than the rest of America’s major ‘news’media’s are. However, if, say, a firm such as General Dynamics were to buy out the Sulzbergers, then perhaps the NYT would become #1 in the neoconservative league, once again. But, even when a major ‘news’medium, such as Mother Jones, isn’t owned (like the WP now is) by someone who also largely owns (via Amazon) a major military contractor, it still promotes invasions, and has deep connections to America’s Deep State. You can count on the fingers of a fingerless hand the number of major American newsmedia — online, print, or broadcast — that are not neoconservative. There are none — right, left, or center. Today’s ‘respectable’ American purveyors of alleged news have some ideological diversity, but all exist within the framework of being neoliberal and neoconservative.

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Colombia in 2017: 170 Social Leaders Killed

NOVANEWS

Community leader killings in Cauca, Nariño and Choco are related to land conflicts, while those in Bajo Cauca are related to illegal mining.

 
The landmark handshake between Juan Manuel Santos and Timoshenko, with two helping hands from Cuban President Raul Castro. (Justice for Colombia).

An estimated 170 Colombian social leaders were killed in 2017, up from 117 in 2016, according to the Institute of Studies for Peace Development, Indepaz, a Colombian non-governmental organization.

“The rise in homicides is over two main conflicts: (access to) land and (natural) resources. This latter refers to the rentiership in illegal mining and cultivation of illicit crops,” said Indepaz director Camilo Gonzalez Posso.

The report indicated that the murders are highly localized to four regional departments: Nariño (28), Antioquia (23), Valle (14) and Choco (12). There were 32 assassinations alone in the community of San Jose de Apartado Cauca located in Antioquia.

Posso added that the community leader killings in Cauca, Nariño and Choco are related to land conflicts, while those in Bajo Cauca are related to illegal mining.

“The majority of the killings are committed by armed men in areas where previously the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) used to rule.”

Leonardo Gonzalez, also of Indepaz, said that as the FARC left these territories, killings have increased.

The FARC began as a Marxist guerrilla movement in 1960s that advocated for peasant access to farmland. It gained the support of peasants and activists in rural areas over the past several decades. The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos eventually reached an accord with the FARC in November 2016, which included the group’s disarmament. Since the FARC’s leaving, violent right-wing paramilitaries have taken over.

“Where the (FARC) left, other paramilitaries … have arrived to take over the territories, by force”, Gonzalez said.

Maribel Perafan, the country’s Secretary of Government, said that the government is prioritizing the investigation into the 170 deaths. She said it’s necessary to “institutionalize” the protection of the human rights and social leaders.

Yet, social rights defenders in these areas have no guarantees, contended Modesto Serna from the Choco government. He said that the FARC’s leaving has left a vacuum, which hasn’t been replaced by the state, but “criminal gangs.” “We can’t fool ourselves,” he said of those who deny this is the scenario in Colombia.

The government created the National Protection Unity, UNP, after the historic agreement was reached to protect against potential threats and killings of social rights leaders in Colombia. However, according to Edgar Insandara of the Nariño government, when leaders report threats to the UNP,

“we find that there’s no effective state response. It’s very difficult to say that people are protected.”

Meanwhile, Luis Carlos Villegas of Colombia’s Department of Defense said the killings are unrelated and “personal” and therefore, are not “systematic” to the political situation within the country. He does say though that they are “absolutely unacceptable.

The government did announce last week that in order to protect social leaders, it’s sending out 63,000 of its own military soldiers to patrol 67 municipalities and 595 hamlets of the most affected areas, under Plan Uris.

Gonzalez, a principal author of the Indepaz report, concludes,

“we’re living in a transition from a war, which lasted many years, to a moment of peace. Now is the most important time to ensure that we don’t enter a new war. We have to strengthen (our) democracy.”

Starting Jan. 9, the Santos administration will sit down with mediators and members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in Quito to reaffirm disarmament talks. This is a follow up to their September meeting in the Andean capital city.

This is following the president’s discussions last week with former FARC leaders to review their peace agreement advancements and challenges one year after it was signed.

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“Genocide by Prescription”: Drug Induced Death in America

NOVANEWS
The ‘Natural History’ of the Declining White Working Class in America
 

This pathbreaking analysis, which is currently the object of controversy and debate, was first published by Global Research in July 2016

The white working class in the US has been decimated through an epidemic of ‘premature deaths’ – a bland term to cover-up the drop in life expectancy in this historically important demographic.  There have been quiet studies and reports peripherally describing this trend – but their conclusions have not yet entered the national consciousness for reasons we will try to explore in this essay.  Indeed this is the first time in the country’s ‘peacetime’ history that its traditional core productive sector has experienced such a dramatic demographic decline – and the epicenter is in the small towns and rural communities of the United States.  

The causes for ‘premature death’ (dying before normal life expectancy – usually of preventable conditions) include the sharply increasing incidence of suicide, untreated complications of diabetes and obesity and above all ’accidental poisoning’ – a euphemism used to describe what are mostly prescription and illegal drug overdoses and toxic drug interactions.

No one knows the total number of deaths of American citizens due to drug overdose and fatal drug interactions over the past 20 years, just as no central body has kept track of the numbers of poor people killed by police nationwide, but let’s start with a conservative round number – 500,000 mostly white working class victims, and challenge the authorities to come up with some real statistics with real definitions.  Indeed such a number could be much higher – if they included fatal poly-pharmacy deaths and ‘medication errors’ occurring in the hospital and nursing home setting.

In the last few years, scores of thousands of Americas have died prematurely because of drug overdoses or toxic drug interactions, mostly related to narcotic pain medications prescribed by doctors and other providers.  Among those who have increasingly died of illegal opioid, mostly heroin, fentanyl and methadone, overdose, the vast majority first became addicted to the powerful synthetic opioids prescribed by the medical community, supplied by big chain pharmacies and manufactured at incredible profit margins by the leading pharmaceutical companies.  In essence, this epidemic has been promoted, subsidized and protected by the government at all levels and reflects the protection of a profit-maximizing private medical-pharmaceutical market gone wild.

This is not seen elsewhere in the world at such a level.  For example, despite their proclivity for alcohol, obesity and tobacco – the British patient population has been essentially spared this epidemic because their National Health System is regulated and functions with a different ethic: patient well being is valued over naked profit.  This arguably would not have developed in the US if a single-payer national health system had been implemented.

Faced with the increasing incidence of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans dying from suicide and overdose from prescription opioids and mixed drug reactions, the Armed Forces Surgeon General and medical corps convened ‘emergency’ US Senate Hearings in March 2010 where testimony showed military doctors had written 4 million prescriptions of powerful narcotics in 2009, a 4 fold increase from 2001.  Senate members of the hearings, led by Virginia’s Jim Webb, cautioned not casting a negative light on ‘Big Pharma’ among the largest donors to political campaigns.

The 1960’s public image of the heroin-addicted returning Vietnam War soldier that shocked the nation had morphed into the Oxycontin/Xanax dependent veteran of the new millennium, thanks to ‘Big Pharma’s’ enormous contracts with the US Armed Forces and the mass media looked away.  Suicides, overdoses and ‘sudden deaths’ killed many more soldiers than combat.

No other peaceful population, probably since the 1839 Opium Wars, has been so devastated by a drug epidemic encouraged by a government.  In the case of the Opium Wars, the British Empire and its commercial arm, The East India Company, sought a market for their huge South Asian opium crops and used its military and allied Chinese warlord mercenaries to force a massive opium distribution on the Chinese people, seizing Hong Kong in the process as a hub for its imperial opium trade.   Alarmed at the destructive effects of addiction on its productive population, the Chinese government tried to ban or regulate narcotic use.  Its defeat at British hands marked China’s decline into semi-colonial status for the next century – such are the wider consequences of having an addicted population.

This paper will identify the (1) the nature of the long-term, large-scale drug induced deaths, (2) the dynamics of ‘demographic transition by overdose’, and (3) the political economy of opioid addiction.  This paper will not cite numbers or reports – these are widely available.   However they are scattered, incomplete and generally lack any theoretical framework to understand, let alone confront, the phenomenon.

We will conclude by discussing whether each ‘death by prescription’ is to be viewed as an individual tragedy, mourned in private, or as a corporate crime fueled by greed or even a pattern of ‘Social-Darwinism-writ-large’  by an elite-run decision making apparatus.

Since the advent of major political-economic changes induced by neoliberalism, America’s oligarchic class confronts the problem of a large and potentially restive population of millions of marginalized workers and downwardly mobile members of the middle class made redundant by ‘globalization’ and an armed rural poor sinking ever deeper into squalor.  In other words, when finance capital and elite ruling bodies view an increasing ‘useless’ population of white workers, employees and the poor in this geographic context, what ‘peaceful’ measures can be taken to ease and encourage their ‘natural decline’?

A similar pattern emerged in the early ‘AIDS’ crisis where the Reagan Administration deliberately ignored the soaring deaths among young Americans, especially minorities, adopting a moralistic  ‘blame the victim’ approach until the influential gay community organized and demanded government action.

The Scale and Scope of Drug Deaths

In the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of working age Americans have died from drugs.  The lack of hard data is a scandal.  The scarcity is due to a fragmented, incompetent and deliberately incomplete system of medical records and death certificates – especially from the poorer rural areas and small towns where there is virtually no support for producing and maintaining quality records.  This great data void is multi-faceted and hampered by the problems of regionalism and a lack of clear governmental public health direction.

Early in the crisis, medical professionals and coroners were largely in ‘denial’ and under pressure to certify ‘unexpected’deaths as ‘natural due to pre-existing conditions’ – despite overwhelming evidence that there had been reckless overprescribing by the local medical community.  Fifteen to twenty years ago, the victims’ families, isolated in their little towns, may have derived some short-term comfort from seeing the term ‘natural’ attached to their loved-one’s untimely death.  Understandably, a diagnosis of ‘death by drug overdose’ would evoke tremendous social and personal shame among the rural and small-town white working class families who had traditionally associated narcotics with the urban minority and criminal populations.  They thought themselves immune to such ‘big city’ problem.   They trusted ‘their’ doctors who, in turn, trusted ‘Big Pharma’s’ assurances that the new synthetic opioids were not addicting and could be prescribed in large quantities.

Despite the local medical community’s slowly growing awareness of this problem, there was little public attempt to educate the at-risk population and still fewer attempts to rein in the over-prescribing brethren physicians and private ‘pain-clinics’.  They, or their nurse practitioners and PA’s, did not counsel patients on the immense dangers of combining opioids and alcohol or tranquilizers.  Many, in fact, were not even aware of what their patients were prescribed by other providers.  It is common to see healthy younger adults with multiple prescriptions from multiple providers.

Through the last few decades under neo-liberalism, rural county heath department budgets were stripped because of business-promoted austerity programs.  Instead, the federal government mandated that they implement expensive and absurd plans to confront ‘bio-terrorism’.  Often, health departments lacked the necessary budget to pay for the costly forensic toxicology testing required for documenting drug levels in suspect overdose cases among their own population.

Further compounding this lack of quality data, there was no guidance or coordination from the federal and state government or regional DEA regarding systematic documentation and the development of a usable database for analyzing the widespread consequences of overprescribing legal narcotics.  The early crisis received minimal attention from these bodies.

All official eyes were focused on the ‘war on drugs’ as it was being waged against the poor, urban minority population.  The small towns, where over-prescribing doctors formed the pillars of the local churches or country clubs, suffered in silence.  The greater public was lulled by media mis-education into thinking that addiction and related deaths were an ‘inner city’ problem, one that required the usual racist response of filling up the prisons with young blacks and Hispanics for petty crimes or drug possession.

But within this vacuum, white working class children were starting to dial ‘911’…because, ‘Mommy won’t wake up…’.  Mommy with her ‘prescribed Fentanyl patches’ took just one Xanax too many and devastated an entire family unit.  This was the prototype of a raging epidemic.  All throughout the country these alarming cases were growing.  Some rural counties saw the proportion of addicted infants born to addicted mothers overwhelm their unprepared hospital systems.  And the local obituary pages published increasing numbers of young names and faces besides the very elderly –never printing any ‘cause’ for the untimely demise of a young adult while devoting paragraphs for a departed octogenarian.

Recent trends demonstrate that drug deaths (both opiate overdose and fatal mixed interactions with other drugs and alcohol) have had a major impact on the composition of the local labor force, families, communities and neighborhoods.  This is reflected in the lives of workers, whose personal life and employment has been severely impaired by corporate plant relocations, downsizing, cuts in wages and health benefits.  The traditional support systems, which provided aid to workers damaged by these trends, such as trade unions, public social workers and mental health professionals, were either unable or unwilling to intervene before or after the scourge of drug addiction had come into play.

The Dynamic Demography of Drug-Induced Death

Almost all publicized reports ignore the demography and differential class impacts of prescription-related drug deaths.   The majority of those killed by illegal drugs were first addicted to legal narcotics prescribed by their providers.  Only the overdose deaths of celebrities manage to hit the headlines.

Most of the victims have been low wage, unemployed or under-employed members of the white working class.  Their prospects for the future are dismal.  Any dream of establishing a healthy family life on one salary in ‘Heartland America’ would be met with laughter.  This is a huge national population, which has experienced a steep decline in its living standards because of deindustrialization.  The majority of fatal overdose victims are white working age males, but with a large proportion of working class women, often mothers with children.  There has been little discussion about the impact of an overdose death of a working age woman on the extended family.  They include grandmothers in their 50’s living with three generations under one roof.  In this demographic, women often provide critical cohesion and stability for several generations at risk – even if they had been taking ‘Oxy’ for their chronic pain.

Apparently the US minority population has so far escaped this epidemic.  Black and Hispanic Americans had already been depressed and economically marginalized for a much longer period – and the lower rate of prescription drug deaths among their populations may reflect greater resilience.   It certainly reflects their reduced access to the over-prescribing private-sector medical community – a grim paradox where medical ‘neglect’ might indeed have been ‘benign’.

While there may be few class-based studies looking at comparative trends in ‘overdose deaths’ among urban minorities and rural/small town whites from sociology, public health or minority-studies university departments, anecdotal evidence and personal observation suggest that minority urban populations are more likely to provide assistance to an overdosing neighbor or friend than in the white community where addicts are more likely to be isolated and abandoned by family members ashamed of their ‘weakness’.  Even the practice of ‘dumping’ an overdosed friend at the entrance of an emergency department and walking away has saved many lives.  Urban minorities have greater access and familiarity with the chaotic big-city emergency rooms where medical personnel are skilled at recognizing and treating overdose.  After decades of civil rights struggles, minorities are possibly more sophisticated in asserting their rights regarding use of such public resources.  There may even be a relatively stronger culture of solidarity among the marginalized minorities in rendering assistance or an awareness of the consequences of not taking someone’s neighbor to the ER.  These urban survival mechanisms have been largely absent in the white rural areas.

Nationwide, US doctors had long been dissuaded from prescribing powerful synthetic opioids to minority patients, even those in significant pain.  There are various factors here, but the medical community has not been immune to the stereotype of the Hispanic or black urban addict or dealer.  Perhaps, this widespread medical ‘racism’ in the context of the prescription opioid epidemic has had some paradoxical benefit.

Whatever the reason, urban minority addicts, while experiencing overdose in large numbers are more likely to survive an opiate overdose than small town or rural whites, unfamiliar with narcotics and their effects.

In the rural and small-town (deindustrialized) US heartland there has been an enormous breakdown in community and family solidarity.  This has followed the destruction of a century-old stable employment base, especially in the manufacturing, mining and productive agricultural sectors.  Only post-Soviet Russia experienced a similar pattern of declining life expectancy from ‘poisoning’ (alcohol and drugs) following the nationwide destruction of its socialized full employment system and the breakdown of all social services.  Furthermore the loss of the tough Soviet police apparatus and the growth of an oligarch-mafia class saw the tremendous in-flooding of heroin from Afghanistan.

The growth of opioid addiction is not based on ‘personal choice’, nor is it the result of shifts in cultural life styles.  While all class and educational levels are included among the victims, the overwhelming majority are younger white working class and the poor. They cover all age groups, including adolescents recovering from sports injuries, as well as the elderly with joint and back pain.  The surge of addiction is a result of major shifts in the economy and the social structure.  The regions most affected by overdose deaths are those in deep, prolonged and permanent decline, including the former ‘rust belt’ regions, small manufacturing towns of New England, Upstate New York, Pennsylvania and the rural South and agricultural, mining and forestry regions of the west.

This is the product of private executive decisions to (1) relocate productive US companies overseas or to distant, non-union regions of the country, (2) force once well-paid employees into lower paid jobs, (3) replace American workers with skilled and unskilled foreign immigrants or poorly paid ‘temps’, (4) eliminate pension and health benefits and (5) introduce new technology – including robots- which cuts the labor force by rendering human workers redundant.  These changes in the relationship of capital to labor have created enormous profits for senior executives and investors, while producing a surplus labor force, which puts even greater pressure on young first-time workers and workers with seniority.  There have been no effective job protection/ sustainable job creation programs to address the decades of declining well-paid employment.  Good jobs have been replaced by minimum wage, service sector ‘MacJobs’ or temporary poorly paid manufacturing jobs with no benefits or protections.  All across this devastated heartland, expensively touted programs, such as ‘Start-Up New York’, have failed to bring decent jobs while spending hundreds of millions of public money in free PR for state politicians.

The drug addiction epidemic has been most deadly precisely in those regions of industrial job loss and working wage decline, as well as in the depressed, once protected, agricultural and food processing sectors where union jobs have been replaced by minimum wage immigrants.  The loss of stable employment has been accompanied by a slashing of social services and tremendous cuts in benefits – just when such services should have been bolstered.

Precisely because the so-called ‘drug problem’ is linked to major demographic changes resulting from dynamic capitalist shifts, it has never been the focus of elite-run government and corporate foundation grant research – unlike their fixation on the ‘radicalization of Muslims’ or ‘trends in urban crime’.  Research tended to focus on ‘minorities’ or merely nibbled at the periphery of the current phenomenon.  Good studies and data would have provided the rationale and basis for major public programs aimed at protecting the lives of marginalized white workers and reversing the deadly trends.  The decade-long, nation-wide absence of research and data into this phenomenon has justified the glaring absence of an effective governmental response.  Here the ‘neglect’ has not been ‘benign’.

In parallel with the increase in opioid addiction, there has been an astronomical increase in the prescription of psychotropic drugs and anti-depressants to the same population – also highly profitable to ‘Big Pharma’.  The pattern of prescribing such powerful, and potentially dangerous, mood altering medications to downwardly mobile Americans to ‘treat’ or numb normal anxieties and reactions to the deterioration in their material condition has had profound consequences.  Such individuals, often on unemployment assistance or MEDICAID, may be expected to follow a complex daily regimen of up to nine medications – besides their narcotic pain medications, while trying to cope with their crumbling world.

Where a dignified job with a decent wage would effectively treat a marginalized worker’s despair without unpleasant or dangerous ‘side effects’, the medical and mental health community has consistently sent their patients to ‘Big Pharma’.  As a result, post-mortem toxicological analyses often show multiple prescribed psychotropic medications and anti-depressants in addition to narcotics in cases of opioid overdose deaths. While this may constitute an abdication of the medical provider’s responsibility to patients, it is also a reflection of the medical community’s utter helplessness in the face of systemic social breakdown – as has occurred in the marginalized communities where drug overdose deaths concentrate.

Demographic studies, at best, identify the victims of drug addiction.  But their choice to treat their despair as an ‘individual problem’ occurring in a ‘specific, immediate context’ overlooks the greater political and economic structures, which set the stage for premature death.

The Political Economy of Overdose Deaths

When the remains of a young working class overdose victim is wheeled into a morgue, his or her untimely demise is labelled a ‘self-inflicted’ or ‘accidental’ opioid overdose and a great cover-up machine is turned on:  The sequence leading up to the death is shrouded in mystery, no deeper understanding of the socio-cultural and economic factors are sought.  Instead, the victim or his/her culture is blamed for the end-result of a complex chain of elite capitalist economic decisions and political maneuverings in which a worker’s premature death is a mere collateral event.  The medical community has merely functioned as the transmission belt in this process, rather than as an agent for serving the public.

The vast majority of overdose fatalities are, in reality, victims of decisions and losses far beyond their control.  Their addictions have shortened their lives as well as clouded their understanding of events and undermined their capacity to engage in class struggle to reverse this trend.  It has been a perfect solution to the predictable demographic problems of brutal neoliberalism in America.

Wall Street and Washington designed the macro-economy that has eliminated decent jobs, cut wages and slashed benefits. As a result millions of marginalized workers and the unemployed are under tremendous tension and resort to pharmacologic solutions to endure their pain because they are not organized.  The historical leading role of trade union and community organizations has been eliminated.  Instead, redundant workers are ‘charged by Big Pharma’ to dig their own graves and class leaders are nowhere to be found.

Secondly, the workplace has become much more dangerous under the ‘new economic order’.  Bosses no longer fear unions and safety regulations: many workers are injured by the accelerating pace of work, longer hours, faulty job training and lack of federal supervision of working conditions.  Injured workers, lacking any judicial, trade union, or public agency protection rightly fear retaliation for reporting their work injury and increasingly resort to prescription narcotics to cope with acute and chronic pain while continuing to work.

When employers allow workers to report their injuries, the low coverage and limited treatments available, encourage providers to over-prescribe narcotics on top of other medications with potentially dangerous interactions.  Many pain clinics, contracted by employers, are eager to profit from injured clients while pharmaceutical companies actively promote powerful synthetic narcotics.

A vicious chain is formed:  The pharmaceutical industry’s mass production of narcotics has been among its most profitable products.  Corporate pharmacy chains fill the prescriptions written by tens of thousands of ‘providers’ (doctors, dentists, nurses and physician assistants) who have only a limited amount of time to actually examine an injured worker.  The deteriorating work conditions create the injury and the workers become consumers of Big Pharma’s miracle relief – Oxycontin or its cousins – which a decade of drug salesmen had touted as ‘non-addicting’.  A long line of highly educated professionals, including doctors and other providers, pathologists, medical examiners and coroners carefully paper over the real cause, the corporate decision makers, in order to protect themselves from corporate reprisals should they ‘blow the whistle’.  Behind the scientific façade there is a Social Darwinism that few are willing to confront.

Only recently, in the face of incredible numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from narcotic overdose, the federal government has started to release funds for research.   Academic-medical researchers have started to collect and publicize data on the growing epidemic of opiate deaths; they provide shocking maps of the most affected counties and regions.  They join the chorus in urging the federal and state agencies to become more actively involved in usual panacea: ‘education and prevention’.  This beehive of activity has come two decades too late into the epidemic and reeks of cynicism.

Funding for research into this phenomenon will not result in any effective long-term programs for confronting these small community-based ‘crises of capitalism’.  There is no institution willing to confront the basic cause:  the devastation of capitalist– labor relations in post-millennial America, the corrupt nature of state-corporate-pharmaceutical linkages and the chaotic, profit-driven character of our private medical system.  Very few writers ever explore how a national, public, single-payer, health system would have clearly prevented with epidemic from the beginning.

Conclusion

Why does the capitalist-state and pharmaceutical elite sustain a socio-economic process, which has led to the large-scale, long-term death of workers and their family members in rural and small town America?

One ready and convincing hypothesis is that the modern dynamic corporate elite profits from the results of ‘demographic change by overdose.’

Corporations gain billions of dollars in profits from the ‘natural decline’ of redundant workers:  slashing social services and job benefits, such as health plans, pension, vacation, job training programs, allowing employers to increase their profits, capital gains, executive bonuses and raises.  Public services are eliminated, taxes are reduced and workers, when needed, can be imported – fully formed – from abroad for temporary employment in a ‘free labor market’.

Capitalists profit even more from the technology gains – robots, computerization, etc. – by ensuring that workers do notenjoy reduced hours or increased vacations resulting from their increased productivity.  Why share the results of productivity gains with the workers, when the workers can just be eliminated?  Dissatisfied workers can turn inward or ‘pop a pill’, but never organize to retake control of their lives and future.

Election experts and political pundits can claim that white American workers reject the major establishment parties because they are ‘angry’ and ‘racist’.  These are the workers who now turn to a ‘Donald Trump’.  But a deeper analysis would reveal their rational rejection of political leaders who have refused to condemn capitalist exploitation and confront the epidemic of death by overdose.

There is a class basis for this veritable genocide by narcotics raging among white workers and the unemployed in the small towns and rural areas of American:  it is the ‘perfect’ corporate solution to a surplus labor force.  It is time for American workers and their leaders to wake up to this cruel fact and resist this one-sided class war or continue to mourn more untimely deaths in their own drug-numbed silence.

And it is time for the medical community to demand a ‘patient-first’ publicly accountable national health system that rewards service over profit, and responsibility over silent complicity.

Posted in USA, Health0 Comments

Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America

NOVANEWS
Among the Most Popular Global Research Articles in 2017

This article was first published May 1, 2013. 

Terrorism Is a Real Threat … But the Threat to the U.S. from Muslim Terrorists Has Been Exaggerated

An FBI report shows that only a small percentage of terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 were perpetrated by Muslims.

Princeton University’s Loon Watch compiled the following chart from the FBI’s data:

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%).  These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion.  These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.

(Loon Watch also notes that less than 1% of terror attacks in Europe were carried out by Muslims.)

U.S. News and World Report noted in February of this year:

Of the more than 300 American deaths from political violence and mass shootings since 9/11, only 33 have come at the hands of Muslim-Americans, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. The Muslim-American suspects or perpetrators in these or other attempted attacks fit no demographic profile—only 51 of more than 200 are of Arabic ethnicity. In 2012, all but one of the nine Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered were halted in early stages. That one, an attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, caused no casualties.

Wired reported the same month:

Since 9/11, [Charles Kurzman, Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writing for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and National Security] and his team tallies, 33 Americans have died as a result of terrorism launched by their Muslim neighbors. During that period, 180,000 Americans were murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism. In just the past year, the mass shootings that have captivated America’s attention killed 66 Americans, “twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11,” notes Kurzman’s team.

Law enforcement, including “informants and undercover agents,” were involved in “almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012,” the Triangle team finds. That’s in keeping with the FBI’s recent practice of using undercover or double agents to encourage would-be terrorists to act on their violent desires and arresting them when they do — a practice critics say comes perilously close to entrapment. A difference in 2012 observed by Triangle: with the exception of the Arizona attack, all the alleged plots involving U.S. Muslims were “discovered and disrupted at an early stage,” while in the past three years, law enforcement often observed the incubating terror initiatives “after weapons or explosives had already been gathered.”

The sample of Muslim Americans turning to terror is “vanishingly small,” Kurzman tells Danger Room. Measuring the U.S. Muslim population is a famously inexact science, since census data don’t track religion, but rather “country of origin,” which researchers attempt to use as a proxy. There are somewhere between 1.7 million and seven million American Muslims, by most estimates, and Kurzman says he operates off a model that presumes the lower end, a bit over 2 million. That’s less a rate of involvement in terrorism of less than 10 per million, down from a 2003 high of 40 per million, as detailed in the chart above.

Yet the scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security on American Muslims has not similarly abated. The FBI tracks “geomaps” of areas where Muslims live and work, regardless of their involvement in any crime. The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 restrictions on government surveillance remain in place. The Department of Homeland Security just celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2011, President Obama ordered the entire federal national-security apparatus to get rid of counterterrorism training material that instructed agents to focus on Islam itself, rather than specific terrorist groups.

Kurzman doesn’t deny that law enforcement plays a role in disrupting and deterring homegrown U.S. Muslim terrorism. His research holds it out as a possible explanation for the decline. But he remains surprised by the disconnect between the scale of the terrorism problem and the scale — and expense — of the government’s response.

“Until public opinion starts to recognize the scale of the problem has been lower than we feared, my sense is that public officials are not going to change their policies,” Kurzman says. “Counterterrorism policies have involved surveillance — not just of Muslim-Americans, but of all Americans, and the fear of terrorism has justified intrusions on American privacy and civil liberties all over the internet and other aspects of our lives. I think the implications here are not just for how we treat a religious minority in the U.S., but also how we treat the rights & liberties of everyone.”

We agree. And so do most Americans. Indeed – as we’ve previously documented – you’re more likely to die from brain-eating parasites, alcoholism, obesity, medical errors, risky sexual behavior or just about anything other than terrorism.

Kurzman told the Young Turks in February that Islamic terrorism “doesn’t even count for 1 percent” of the 180,000 murders in the US since 9/11.

While the Boston marathon bombings were horrific, a top terrorism expert says that the Boston attack was more like Columbine than 9/11, and that the bombers are “murderers not terrorists”.  The overwhelming majority of mass shootings were by non-Muslims.  (This is true in Europe, as well as in the U.S.)

However you classify them – murder or terrorism – the Boston bombings occurred after all of the statistical analysis set forth above. Moreover, different groups have different agendas about how to classify the perpetrators  (For example, liberal Mother Jones and conservative Breitbart disagree on how many of the perpetrators of terror attacks can  properly be classified as right wing extremists.)

So we decided to look at the most current statistics for ourselves, to do an objective numerical count not driven by any agenda.

Specifically, we reviewed all of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil as documented by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). (2012). Global Terrorism Database, as retrieved from http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd.

The START Global Terrorism Database spans from 1970 through 2012 (and will be updated from year-to-year), and – as of this writing – includes 104,000 terrorist incidents.  As such, it is the most comprehensive open-source database open to the public.

We counted up the number of terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims.  We excluded attacks by groups which are obviously not Muslims, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Medellin Drug Cartel, Irish Republican Army, Anti-Castro Group, Mormon extremists, Vietnamese Organization to Exterminate Communists and Restore the Nation, Jewish Defense League, May 19 Communist Order, Chicano Liberation Front, Jewish Armed Resistance, American Indian Movement, Gay Liberation Front, Aryan Nation, Jewish Action Movement, National Front for the Liberation of Cuba, or Fourth Reich Skinheads.

We counted attacks by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Black American Moslems, or anyone who even remotely sounded Muslim … for example anyone from Palestine, Lebanon or any other Arab or Muslim country, or any name including anything sounding remotely Arabic or Indonesian (like “Al” anything or “Jamaat” anything).

If we weren’t sure what the person’s affiliation was, we looked up the name of the group to determine whether it could in any way be connected to Muslims.

Based on our review of the approximately 2,400 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil contained within the START database, we determined that approximately 60 were carried out by Muslims.

In other words, approximately 2.5% of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1970 and 2012 were carried out by Muslims.*  This is a tiny proportion of all attacks.

(We determined that approximately 118 of the terror attacks – or 4.9% – were carried out by Jewish groups such as Jewish Armed Resistance, the Jewish Defense League, Jewish Action Movement, United Jewish Underground and Thunder of Zion. This is almost twice the percentage of Islamic attacks within the United States.  If we look at worldwide attacks – instead of just attacks on U.S. soil – Sunni Muslims are the main perpetrators of terrorism.  However: 1. Muslims are also the main victims of terror attacks worldwide; and 2. the U.S. backs the most radical types of Sunnis over more moderate Muslims and Arab secularists.)

Moreover, another study undertaken by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism – called ”Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism in the United States” – found:

Between 1970 and 2011, 32 percent of the perpetrator groups were motivated by ethnonationalist/separatist agendas, 28 percent were motivated by single issues, such as animal rights or opposition to war, and seven percent were motivated byreligious beliefs. In addition, 11 percent of the perpetrator groups were classified as extreme right-wing, and 22 percent were categorized as extreme left-wing.

Preliminary findings from PPT-US data between 1970 and 2011 also illustrate a distinct shift in the dominant ideologies of these terrorist groups over time, with the proportion of emerging ethnonationalist/separatist terrorist groups declining and the proportion of religious terrorist groups increasing. However, while terrorist groups with religious ideologies represent 40 percent of all emergent groups from 2000-2011 (two out of five), they only account for seven percent of groups over time.

Similarly, a third study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism Religion found that religion alone is not a key factor in determining which terrorists want to use weapons of mass destruction:

The available empirical data show that there is not a significant relationship between terrorist organizations’ pursuit of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) weapons and the mere possession of a religious ideology, according to a new quantitative study by START researchers Victor Asal, Gary Ackerman and Karl Rethemeyer.

Therefore, Muslims are not more likely than other groups to want to use WMDs.

* The Boston marathon bombing was not included in this analysis, as START has not yet updated its database to include 2013 terrorist attacks.  3 people died in the Boston attack.  While tragic, we are confident that non-Musliims killed more than 3 during this same period.

We are not experts in terrorism analysis.  We would therefore defer to people like Kurzman on the exact number.  However, every quantitative analysis of terrorism in the U.S. we have read shows that the percent of terror attacks carried out by Muslims is far less than 10%.

Postscript: State-sponsored terrorism is beyond the scope of this discussion, and was not included in our statistical analysis.  Specifically, the following arguments are beyond the scope of this discussion, as we are focusing solely on non-state terrorism:

  • Arguments by  University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole that deaths from 20th century wars could be labeled Christian terrorism

Posted in USA0 Comments

Will Trump Use “Human Rights” to Kill the Iran Nukes Deal?

NOVANEWS

In a matter of days, Donald Trump will have the chance to scuttle the Iranian Nuclear agreement, a transaction that Trump has called “the worst deal ever.” The future of the so called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA depends largely on whether Trump opts to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran or not. If the president does in fact reimpose sanctions, (sometime after January 13) the United States will be in “material noncompliance” with the terms of the nuclear agreement and all bets will be off.  That means there are two questions that readers should be asking themselves:

1. Will Trump reimpose sanctions and kill the Obama-era nukes deal?

2. Are the protests in Iran instigated by Washington to provide cover to Trump for scrapping the JCPOA?

Take a look at this brief summary from an article at Politico:

President Donald Trump allowed the Iran nuclear deal to survive through 2017, but the new year will offer him another chance to blow up the agreement — and critics and supporters alike believe he may take it.

By mid-January, the president will face new legal deadlines to choose whether to slap U.S. sanctions back on Tehran. Senior lawmakers and some of Trump’s top national security officials are trying to preserve the agreement. But the deal’s backers fear Trump has grown more willing to reject the counsel of his foreign policy team, as he did with his recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital….

When Trump last publicly addressed the status of the Iran agreement, in mid-October, he indicated his patience had worn thin with what he has called “the worst deal ever,” and demanded that Congress and European countries take action to address what he considers the deal’s weakness.

“[I]n the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in an Oct. 13 speech.” (“How Trump could kill the Iran nuclear deal in January”, Politico)

So there it is. We do not yet know whether Trump is planning to “blow up the deal” or not. Nor do we have a clear idea of how responsible US NGOs or US agents might be in fomenting the demonstrations on the ground. What we do know, however, is that scuttling the agreement — which took years of deliberation, collaboration and compromise– will be very costly for the United States. Former US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew explained what the US can expect if it does walk away from JCPOA. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial that appeared in the New York Times in 2014.

Lew meeting with President Barack Obama and the Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

…the United States does have tremendous economic influence. But it was not this influence alone that persuaded countries across Europe and Asia to join the current sanction policy, one that required them to make costly sacrifices, curtail their purchases of Iran’s oil, and put Iran’s foreign reserves in escrow. They joined us because we made the case that Iran’s nuclear program was an uncontained threat to global stability and, most important, because we offered a concrete path to address it diplomatically — which we did….Foreign governments will not continue to make costly sacrifices at our demand….

Indeed, they would more likely blame us for walking away from a credible solution to one of the world’s greatest security threats, and would continue to re-engage with Iran. Instead of toughening the sanctions, a decision by Congress to unilaterally reject the deal would end a decade of isolation of Iran and put the United States at odds with the rest of the world…

The major importers of Iranian oil — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey … will not agree to indefinite economic sacrifices in the name of an illusory better deal. We should think very seriously before threatening to cripple the largest banks and companies in these countries….

We must remember recent history. In 1996, in the absence of any other international support for imposing sanctions on Iran, Congress tried to force the hands of foreign companies, creating secondary sanctions that threatened to penalize them for investing in Iran’s energy sector. The idea was to force international oil companies to choose between doing business with Iran or the United States, with the expectation that all would choose us.

This outraged our foreign partners, particularly the European Union, which threatened retaliatory action and referral to the World Trade Organization and passed its own law prohibiting companies from complying. The largest oil companies of Europe and Asia stayed in Iran until, more than a decade later, we built a global consensus around the threat posed by Iran and put forward a realistic diplomatic means of addressing it.

(“The High Price of Rejecting the Iran Deal”, New York Times)

The Obama administration did not sign the Iranian nukes agreement because it wanted to, it signed it because it had to. Iranian negotiators made a number of crucial concessions that not only intensified the ongoing inspections regime, but also agreed that Iran would be treated more harshly (and unfairly) than any other nation that had ever signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

“The agreement subjects Iran to greater restrictions and more intrusive monitoring than any state with nuclear programs.”

Simply put, the US insisted that Iran accept a number of special protocols which in effect treat Iran like a second-class citizen. Iran accepted these terms so the US would stop its relentless economic strangulation which has persisted almost-continuously since 1979.

It is worth noting, that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program nor is there any evidence that they were trying to develop one. Like Saddam’s fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction, “Iran’s nukes” are largely a myth created to justify nonstop US-Israeli aggression. Check it out:

It is essential to recognize that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program, nor does it possess a nuclear weapon. On February 26, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Ayatollah Khomenei, the supreme leader of Iran, ended his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “as far as we know, he’s not made the decision to go for a nuclear weapon.”

This repeats the “high-confidence” judgement of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) that was first made in November 2007.

(Micah Zenko, “Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context”, Council on Foreign Relations)

Iran has no nukes, no nuclear weapons program, and no sinister nuclear project aimed at blowing up Israel or the United States. It’s all 100 percent bunkum conjured up by the same propagandists in the establishment media who concocted the mobile weapons labs, the yellowcake uranium, the aluminum tubes, curveball and the myriad other cockamamie fabrications that preceded the invasion of Iraq.

It’s also worth noting that “Forty-five US military bases encircle Iran, with over 125,000 troops in close proximity” and that both Republican and Democratic presidents have repeatedly expressed their support for regime change in Tehran. Moreover, the vast majority of Senators and Congressmen have frequently expressed their contempt for Iran while supporting covert activities to destabilize the government or punish the people. Ideally, Trump and his lieutenants would like to replace the Islamic clerics who currently rule Iran, with a puppet like the Shah who privatized oil production, ruled the country with an iron fist, and faithfully followed Washington’s diktats to the letter. The Shah’s reign of terror lasted a full 40 years during which time his CIA-trained secret police, the SAVAK, rounded up and tortured millions of innocent Iranians who were then systematically subjected to  “whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape.” This is how the United States brought freedom and democracy to the people of Iran under the Shah.

Is it any wonder why the Iranians are skeptical of Trump’s so called “supportive” tweets (such as):

“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime…..The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”  Donald Trump

Trump’s outspoken support for the protestors has many critics believing that Washington might be orchestrating events on the ground, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In an excellent article at the World Socialist Web Site, Keith Jones, explains that the massive demonstrations are reaction to neoliberal policies that have exacerbated inequality while fueling social tensions. “Liberal reforms” and austerity have negatively impacted living standards in Iran just as they have everywhere else they’ve been implemented. In other words, the social explosion we are seeing unfold in Iran is not a Washington-engineered color revolution, but a the emerging signs of a class war. Here’s an excerpt from the WSWS article:

Since Dec. 28, tens of thousands have defied the Islamic Republic’s repressive apparatus and taken to the streets in cities and towns across the county. They have done so to voice their anger over food price rises, mass unemployment, gaping social inequality, years of sweeping social spending cuts and a pseudo-democratic political system that is rigged on behalf of the ruling elite and utterly impervious to the needs of working people.

The scope and intensity of this movement and its rapid embrace of slogans challenging the government and the entire autocratic political system have stunned Iranian authorities and western observers alike. Yet, it was preceded by months of worker protests against job cuts and plant closures and unpaid wages and benefits…..

The trigger for this explosion of popular discontent was the government’s latest austerity budget. It will further slash income support for ordinary Iranians, raise gas prices by as much as 50 percent, and curtail development spending, while increasing the already huge sums under the control of the Shia clergy…

The claim that the current protests are akin to those mounted by the Green Movement in 2009 is a base slander meant to justify a bigger crime. The Green challenge to the results of the 2009 Iranian presidential election was a long-prepared political operation that followed the script of similar US-orchestrated “color revolutions” in the Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon and elsewhere. It was aimed at bringing to power those elements of the Iranian elite most eager to reach a quick rapprochement with US and European imperialism. It drew its popular support almost exclusively from the most privileged layers of the upper middle class, who were mobilized on the basis of neoliberal denunciations of the populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “squandering” money on the poor….

The current challenge to the Iranian regime is of an entirely different character. It is rooted in the working class, including in smaller industrial cities and district towns; draws its greatest support from young people who face an unemployment rate of 40 percent or more; and is driven by opposition to social inequality and capitalist austerity….The period in which the class struggle could be suppressed is coming to an end.

(“Working class opposition erupts in Iran: A harbinger for the world in 2018″”, World Socialist Web Site)

Iran’s protests are not the result of US meddling (although the US does undoubtedly have agents on the ground) Nor is there any real chance of regime change, in fact, from Trump’s point of view, that’s not even the main objective. In our opinion, the Trump administration is looking for a way to terminate the nuclear agreement without abrogating the deal itself.  My guess is that the administration plans to use Iran’s crackdown on protestors as a justification for rescinding the nukes deal, thus, providing cover for the allies to join Washington without fear of incurring the attendant penalties.

Trump’s recent tweets, all of which emphasize human rights, suggest the plan is already underway.

“Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!   Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018

The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018

Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!  Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017

Trump’s sudden interest in human rights is suspicious, but is it really a sign of a plan to kill the nukes deal?

We’ll see.

Posted in USA, Iran0 Comments

Free Syrian Army Commanders Visit Washington

NOVANEWS
 

Syrian opposition outlets revealed on January 6 that several commanders of the Wahhabi puppet Free Syrian Army (FSA) are currently in the US capital, Washington, to meet with US officials. The visit was not officially announced by the US or any FSA group.

Head of the Political Office of the Mu’tasim Brigade, Zio-Wahhabi Mustapha Sejeri, told the Syrian pro-oppositions news outlet ANA Press that the visit is aimed at strengthening the cooperation between the FSA and the US.

Zio-Wahhabi puppet Sejeri also revealed that fighting “the Iranian influence in Syria” was the main topic during the meeting between the two sides. The Mu’tasim Brigade official also stressed that the FSA is ready to fight Iran in Syria with support from the USA.

Moreover, Sejeri said that other points were discussed with the American side including foiling the upcoming National Syrian National Dialogue Conference that will be held in the Russian city of Sochi on January 29. The two sides also discussed the outcomes of Geneva Talks, according to Sejeri.

Via Twitter, Sejeri revealed more details and claimed that the FSA and the US also discussed countering the influence of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria. Sejeri’s statement was a shock to many Kurdish activists as the Kurdish dominated force is the main ally of the US in Syria.

“God willing, our presence in Washington will not only be a reason to end the control of your terrorist militias [SDF] on our regions, but will also be the beginning of the end of the Iranian presence on our soil, and the failure of the treachery conference in Sochi,”  Zio-Wahhabi puppet Sejeri tweeted in response to a Kurdish activist who criticized the FSA commanders’ visit to Washington.

The FSA visit to the US was criticized by many Syrian Kurdish activists, with some even accusing Washington of betraying the Kurds because the US never invited any SDF officials to Washington.

Meanwhile, Syrian pro-government activists viewed the visit as another attempt by Washington to destabilize the situation in Syria and reignite the war that slowed down after the de-facto defeat of ISIS.

The visit was the first since the war broke out in Syria in 2011. However, many US official including Senator Zionist John McCain and former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford had met with FSA commanders inside Syria on several occasions.

Posted in USA, Syria0 Comments

Afghan Refugees Feeling the Heat as US-Pakistan Geopolitical Tensions Rise

NOVANEWS

Last week, the Pakistani government callously doubled down on its strategy of using Afghan refugees as pawns in its ongoing political dispute with Afghanistan when it refused to grant a long-term extension of their stay in Pakistan. Islamabad’s move will anger Kabul, which has struggled to absorb and reintegrate the massive influx of Afghans returning from Pakistan in recent years.

On December 31, the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards of 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan expired after the federal government refused to provide an extension on time.  The PoR cards allow the refugees to live in Pakistan “legally” and avoid harassment by the state. On January 3, the long-suffering refugees learned they would only be given a 30-day extension, rather than the 1-year extension the government had been considering under a trilateral agreement with Afghanistan and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  The decision to limit the extension to 30 days was made during a meeting of the federal Cabinet in Islamabad which was chaired by Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

There are currently 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented refugees also living in the country.  The first wave of refugees began came over from Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, with many more arriving during the bloody civil war of the 1990s.  In 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan, beginning the longest war in American history. The 16-year neo-colonial occupation has devastated the lives of the Afghan people and created a new generation of refugees.

Many of the refugees have lived in Pakistan for decades and have had children in the country. There are indeed children among the 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees. A large number of refugees have established firm roots in the country and have lost all ties to Afghanistan. Kabul has struggled mightily to reintegrate the refugees into Afghan society, repeatedly insisting that Afghanistan does not have the resources to deal with massive numbers of returnees from across the border. Many refugees are also terrified at the prospect of returning to war-torn Afghanistan.  Civilian casualties due to the war reached a 16-year high during the first six months of 2017, according to the UN.

Pakistani politicians often scapegoat the refugees as “terrorists” and charge them with being a burden on the state.  Indeed, while Islamabad has agreed not to forcibly return refugees to Afghanistan, in recent years, it has resorted to a policy of intimidation and harassment of the refugees, so as to bring about their “voluntary” repatriation to the country.  In mid-2016, Pakistan launched what Gerry Simpson, a refugee expert at Human Rights Watch, described at the time as the “world’s largest recent anti-refugee crackdown.”  Afghan refugees have told human rights organizations about the cruel methods used by Pakistani authorities to coerce them into leaving for Afghanistan, including deportation during the winter and police abuses like arbitrary detention, extortion and nocturnal police raids. In fact, during the recent three day period during which 1.4 million refugees lost their documented status, the refugees were reportedly harassed by security personnel, leading them to confine themselves in their homes until the 30-day extension was granted.

In seeking to build domestic support for the forced repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan, Pakistani officials have described the refugee camps where the Afghans live as “safe havens” for terrorists. There is no doubt, however, that Islamabad hopes to use the refugee crisis to punish Afghanistan for shifting ever closer towards it arch-rival, New Delhi.

The deepening alliance between Afghanistan and India is viewed by Pakistan’s ruling elites as a vital security threat due to their fear of “strategic encirclement” by India, but Washington has turned a blind eye to Islamabad’s concerns and has encouraged the two countries to further enhance bilateral relations.  Moreover, US President Donald Trump has recently adopted a hardline stance towards Islamabad, with Washington suspending military aid to Pakistan on January 4.  The increasingly belligerent approach of the US towards Pakistan, where anti-US sentiment remains high, has forced the country’s ruling establishment to adopt a defiant stance towards Washington. Pakistan’s working-class majority remains steadfastly opposed to America’s imperialist war in Afghanistan, and to their government’s role in supporting and facilitating the ongoing occupation. With few options available to hit back at the US and Afghanistan, there is a danger that the Pakistani government may decide to throw the Afghan refugees to the wolves.

*

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments


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