Archive | January 9th, 2018

Nazi minister: We’ll be in the West Bank for ‘5,000 years’

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Nazi Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s Justice Minister of the far-right Jewish Home party

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked vowed Wednesday that Nazi state would remain in the occupied West Bank for “5,000 years”, speaking during a Knesset debate on applying Nazi legislation to Nazi Jewish settlers.

The Knesset House Committee decided that from now on, “legislative committees will be instructed to discuss each new bill’s application to the West Bank”. Nazi laws currently normally require a military order to apply in the West Bank, since the region is governed by the army.

“We’re not in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in order to disappear one day”, Nazi Shaked said. “We’re here for 50 years already, and we will be here for another 5,000 years. Our policy is clear: Settlement in the entire Land of Israel and normalization of life in Judea and Samaria”.

Nazi Shaked’s coalition colleague, Tourism Minster Yariv Levin, expressed his support for the annexation of the occupied West Bank, stating that “the right thing to do is to apply our sovereignty on all parts of the Land of Israel, and I`m certain that this will be done soon”.

Read: Who is responsible for annexing the West Bank to Israel?

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said the Knesset was legislating for an apartheid situation.

“There is a territory that is outside of Israel’s borders, and what you’re suggesting is to have two parallel legal systems in the same land, where the only measure that determines which system applies to whom is a person’s race. This has a name, and you know what it is,” she said.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Nazi authorities raze Palestinian wedding venue in Haifa

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Demolished wedding venue
Palestine Information Center 

Nazi municipal authorities on Sunday demolished a Palestinian wedding venue in the industrial zone of Baqa al-Gharbiyye city in the Haifa District (Palestine 1948 occupied lands) at the pretext of unlicensed construction.

Owner of the venue Mohamed Khashan said that he had tried to go to Nazi courts to prevent the demolition, but he was surprised to see Nazi police troops cordoning off the area at dawn yesterday before a bulldozer embarked on knocking down the place.

Khashan told Quds Press that the bulldozer razed the place over wedding equipment and furniture, without allowing him to move anything away.

He pointed out that dozens of weddings, ceremonies and celebrations had been held in his venue, which was built several years ago.

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Did BBC team responsible for faked footage of Syrian chemical attack travel under terrorist protection?

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 By Catte | OffGuardian 

Most of our readers are now more than familiar with the bizarre events surrounding the BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. We’ve already returned to this story several times. The possibility that this program presented faked footage of a non-existent chemical attack by government troops on a school in Syria has been meticulously documented by independent researcher Robert Stuart over several years.

But a further twist to the story seems to show that the crew who filmed this questionable footage were being escorted and protected during their sojourn in Syria, by members of a jihadist terrorist group affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The evidence, on the face of it, seems damning.

Ten minutes, 18 seconds into the program (which can be seen here) the film crew record a car journey, with the two British doctors featured in the program, to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is”. At one point the journalist Ian Pannell can be heard in voice over saying:

Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.

As he speaks we see Pannell himself, presumably filmed by his cameraman Darren Conway, in a car, part of a convoy, accompanied by armed men. We also see the hood of one of the cars in the convoy several times and pretty clearly. It has a logo on it. This is it:

The inset on the right is the logo of Ahrar-al-Sham.

In case you’re wondering, this is the same Ahrar-al-Sham identified by a Human Rights Watch report in October 2013 as participants in the killing of women and children (see “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside.). The report details the slaughter of nearly 200 civilians “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” by opposition forces including Ahrar al-Sham on August 4 2013.

It was just 19 days after this massacre – on August 23 – that Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway (now an OBE) apparently decided Ahrar-al-Sham were the go-to ’security’ guys for them. The documentary further shows Pannell, Conway and their chums being waved through ISIS road blocks without a hitch. This is the same ISIS who – allegedly – had declared war on all westerners and were prone to cutting off their heads (though in 2013 this hadn’t become the media meme it later became). Our boys are apparently welcome deep in ISIS territory, with no worries about repercussions.

This is probably explained by the fact Ahrar-al-Sham, according to Stanford University’s Mapping Militant Program, “worked with the Islamic State (IS) until January 2014″.

But maybe the contact with terrorists was fleeting and almost accidental? Well, below are two images that tell a story. The top one is a screencap from Saving Syria’s Children. The man outlined in red is the “Fixer/Translator” for the program, Mughira Al-Sharif, and he is shown driving Pannell’s convoy car (Pannell himself can be seen second from right next to the window in the back). Mughira is seen again in the bottom image in a photograph taken the same day and shared on Instagram. Also with him in this pic, and looking remarkably chummy, are two members of the Ahrar-al-Sham security detail who can be seen in Pannell’s car. Mughira described these men in his Instagram post as ‘friends’. That post was subsequently deleted.

(Above) Fixer/Translator Mughira Al-Sharif driving Ian Pannell’s convoy saloon car in Saving Syria’s Children. Pannell is second from right. (Below) Al Sharif poses with two of the Ahrar al-Sham men in an Instagram post of the same day, describing them as “friends”. The post was subsequently deleted.

Let’s be clear – these “friends’ of Mughira’s could well have taken part in the recent slaughter discussed above, and must, at very least, be assumed to support the mass murder of innocent people. And this man Mughira is employed by Pannell as his guide and helper in making their documentary.

Why are a supposedly distinguished and professional BBC journalist and his crew working with allies of ISIS? Why are they using them as their ‘security’? Why are they comfortable tooling round Syria in a car festooned with jihadist logos? Why did they end up producing a documentary using highly questionable footage to promote UK intervention against the elected government of Syria?

Did neither they nor their employers at the BBC realise what they were doing?

Or did they know and think it was just dandy?

When is the BBC – and Ian Pannell and Darren Conway(OBE) – going to answer these and the many other questions hanging over this program and their credibility?

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BDS calls for boycotting US projects in Palestine

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Image result for BDS CARTOON

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called for the boycott of American projects in the occupied Palestinian territories in retaliation for US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

In reaction to Trump’s December announcement, the BDS has called for a boycott of “activities organized or sponsored by US institutions, in Jerusalem and abroad.”

Managers of US-funded programs in Palestinian territories say the announcement has been followed by protests and refusals to meet with their project managers.

Activists have also urged groups working with the American programs to remove US-linked branding – including the US flag- from their promotional materials.

Palestinians have also rejected US assistance in various areas. Some law schools, for example, have pulled out of an international event for which the US consulate had planned to buy plane tickets.

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, told The Guardian that most Palestinians were upset with Trump’s decision and saw Washington as an accomplice to Israel’s crimes.

“The overwhelming majority of Palestinians has always recognized successive US administrations as not just patrons of, but also partners in crime with Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid,” he said.

The activist also warned that Trump’s unconditional support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the constant undermining of Palestinian rights at the United Nations had taken the protests to an unprecedented level.

“The latest attempt by the far-right, anti-Palestinian Trump-Netanyahu alliance to take off the table UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people, including Jerusalem, has taken popular Palestinian protests against this deepening official US complicity to a level that has not been seen since the 1993 Oslo accords,” he argued.

Israel has placed a travel ban against Barghouti as part of a broad policy to counter BDS. He was recently denied to travel to Jordan for his mother’s surgery.

Infuriated by the campaign’s worldwide success and growing popularity, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry published on Sunday a blacklist of organizations whose activists were partaking in the BDS movement.

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Why cutting US aid to the Palestinian Authority is not a bad idea

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Related image

Dr Alaa Tartir | Middle East Eye 

Many observers and analysts warn that cutting US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is dangerous and may threaten stability. Some have even argued that US President Donald Trump’s funding threat to Palestinians is more dangerous than his decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Do you think that the PA’s days are now numbered?” is one of the most recurring question by journalists over the past few days after Trump’s statement that “we pay the Palestinians hundred of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue.”

Actions against Palestinians

Trump continued by saying “with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”. However, Trump’s threat to withdraw aid to the PA should not come as a surprise.

US aid has been always used as a political tool, and the conditionality attached to it has been harmful and damaging for the Palestinians.

But in case the threat of cutting aid to the PA materialises, is it really that bad? I argue no; it is not that bad. Arguably it may prove beneficial – possibly not in the short term, but certainly in the long term.

US aid to the PA largely aims to solidify the role of the PA as a subcontractor to Israel’s occupation and has made the Israeli occupation cheaper and longer, which has benefited Israel’s economy, entrenched Palestinian fragmentation, and denied the potential for Palestinian democracy. For all these reasons, cutting US aid to the PA is not that bad.

The first and foremost goal of the US to Palestine is to promote “the prevention or mitigation of terrorism against Israel”. In other words, aid is provided to the Palestinians to secure Israel; but is that an assistance to the Palestinians or to Israel?

Israel-first paradigm

According to this Israel-first security paradigm, the US administration poured millions of dollars of security assistance to the PA as a way to “professionalise” its security forces for the stability and the security of Israel, its occupation, and settlers in the occupied West Bank.

This skewed logic meant that the PA became a subcontractor to the Israeli occupation, thanks to US aid and conditionality.

This did not only sustain Israel’s occupation, but also it made it profitable for Israel, its economy and its companies. US assistance to the Palestinians is often used to pay PA creditors directly, many of which are Israeli companies charging predatory rates and taking advantage of a captive PA economy.

In addition, the majority of US aid for Palestine (up to 72 percent), especially the securitised aid, ends up in Israel’s economy. Therefore, a large portion of the US “assistance” to the Palestinians effectively translates to additional support for Israel and its security apparatus.

US aid has also entrenched Palestinian fragmentation over the past decade and fuelled the divide between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Also, the aid does not only deny the potential for Palestinian democracy but sponsors the emergence of an authoritarianstyle of governance in the West Bank.

Driven by its securitised agenda, the US-sponsored securitised processes aims to criminalise resistance against Israel’s occupation and supress the Palestinian people’s needs and aspirations.

US aid intervention

The operations and interventions of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the office of the US Security Coordinator (USSC), were instrumental in causing all this harm. By doing so, these two institutions not only violate key international principles of aid delivery, but also they effectively act as a complementary arm of the Israeli colonial occupation.

Certainly, these damages and harmful consequences of the US aid intervention will not be automatically reversed if Trump’s threat to cut aid becomes a reality.

It is far more complex than that, as it requires dismantling complex structures, dynamics, and institutions that have emerged and solidified over the past quarter of a century.

What is crucial at this stage is that Palestinians do not panic and curse their luck for “losing” $300mn to $400mn a year; rather, they should act – and they have plenty of choices. As a starter, they should hold USAID and the USSC accountable, and they should revoke the registry exemptions the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat gave to USAID to operate without any Palestinian oversight.

Reverse vetting process

It is time to reverse the “vetting process”; instead of USAID vetting the Palestinians, it is time for the Palestinians to do the necessary vetting to USAID and the other US bodies in the aid industry in Palestine.

Doing so requires the political will and courage among Palestine’s political leadership. However, the current PA leadership remains fixated on its failing approaches and formulas.

The inability of the PA leadership to perform small actions, such as revoking USAID registry exemptions, reflects a deeper legitimacy crisis and illustrates the tactical moves by the current PA leadership to buy time, remain in authority, or re-arrange “peace” talk cards. Those ideas must be urgently resisted and replaced by new strategic directions that are dictated by the Palestinian people.

The remaining major challenge, however, is how to channel the Palestinian people’s demands and aspirations into a legitimate polity and representative institutions.

From the ordinary Palestinian people perspective, there will be short-term negative consequences in the event of Trump’s threat to cut aid  materialising. However, it is also crucial to recognise that aid to the PA does not automatically translate to aid to the Palestinian people.

It is misleading to assume that aid and its benefits trickle down to ordinary Palestinian people. The aid industry is designed to benefit few and harm many.

Sam Bahour, the chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, recently argued: “I would not lose any sleep if Congress totally stopped funding the Palestinian Authority. It would not make daily life easier under occupation, but maybe it would wake up enough American leaders to see the absurdity of their being dragged around like a flock of sheep by their Israeli herder.”

I would not lose any sleep, either. While a US aid cut will have some negative consequences on Palestinian lives, long-term prospects may prove more more positive as this action would push the PA to abandon the framework of the Oslo Accords aid model. It’s time to lay the failed Oslo aid model to rest.

But a phasing out process requires serious actions, concrete and clear steps, and a national action/rescue plan for a transition toward a post two-state formula and a post-Oslo Accords framework.

Finally, while humanitarian assistance is important, what matters more for the ordinary Palestinians is not a coupon to get wheat or sardines, but rather the political roots to fight against the denial of their rights.

Until those political roots are addressed and no matter of how big the aid flows get, ordinary Palestinians will not feel the positive outcome of aid, be it American, European, or Arab aid.

Trump’s threat to cut aid offers ordinary Palestinians a new opportunity to place the principles of self-determination and dignity in the core of the aid framework and industry.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA0 Comments

One Small Step in Defence, One Giant Leap for EU

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Adelina Marini

The past 2017 will remain in the history of the European Union as one of the more significant integration years. In 2017, a decision was finally taken to establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is a significant step in the so far taboo sphere of European integration. The year will be remembered also with the opening of defence for deeper integration. On December 11, the Council of Ministers signed a decision to establish a permanent structured cooperation in defence, better known as PESCO. This is a small step in the sense of integration, but a huge leap in a sphere that has so far been completely closed to sharing.

Like the European Prosecutor’s Office, PESCO too is not being set up by all member states. Twenty-five countries have signed this decision: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia , Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. Initially, 23 members expressed their desire for the establishment of PESCO, but later Ireland and Portugal joined them.

As euinsidewrote, PESCO is a strange and very flexible format, the main part of which will be work on joint projects. Ministers signed a declaration on 11 December to work together on 17 projects, not all 25 participants being required to join. They may choose to work on a few or only one project, but cannot participate in none. The decision on the projects is expected to be taken this year, most probably during the Bulgarian presidency. Depending on which countries and in how many projects they will be involved, this will show in real time what multi-speed Europe means – at least in the area of defence.

This will also be a clear indicator of the depth of integration, as some projects are rather “light” but others require solid convergence. There are several projects that require integration. One of them is the creation of a network of logistics hubs in Europe, which aims to strengthen logistics planning and traffic across Europe. This project also provides for the establishment of common standards and procedures to improve the ability of the EU and NATO to carry out even the most demanding missions. This project is directly linked to another that will work to facilitate military mobility. Its aim is to reduce obstacles to cross-border movement of military equipment and troops. This includes work on reducing bureaucratic requirements, such as passport checks, and solving infrastructure problems to allow large military vehicles to cross roads and bridges.

The third project, which requires considerable convergence, is to create a European certification centre for the training of European armies. This project will work to standardise military training standards. The training centre will also be performing broad-based simulations covering the entire spectrum of command and control. The core task of the Centre will be to train soldiers and civilian staff to work together in a simulated environment on scenarios such as humanitarian aid and support for stabilisation and capacity building. The project also envisions working on sharing experience for planning and conducting joint missions and operations.

The project on cyber threats and the information sharing platform is also very interesting and provides for a strong unification of efforts. It plans to develop more active defensive measures by possibly moving from firewalls to more active measures. There are other projects in the area of ​​cyber-security. The “softer” projects are for creation of naval autonomous systems for mine counter-measures. Under this project, participants will work on the creation of (semi-)autonomous submarine,land and air technology to respond against sea mines. It is envisioned to develop underwater autonomous vehicles to locate and prevent the dangers of underwater mines.

Another project envisions the creation of an integrated system of marine sensors, software and platforms to process data and identify potential threats at sea. It is about creating a system that can operate in ports, coastal areas and coastal waters. A third project envisions improving surveillance of the EU’s maritime borders. Leading countries in these projects are Italy and Greece, but Croatia is also interested in them. The list also includes a project to develop a prototype of a European armoured vehicle, an amphibious assault, and lightweight armoured vehicle. It must be capable of being quickly deployed, manoeuvrable, serving for intelligence purposes, providing support in combat, logistical support, and medical assistance.

The development of a mobile artillery platform is also planned. Among the projects is the creation of a military package to help with natural disasters. Its aim is to be available both in EU-led and non-EU-led operations.

As a result of such a great and extremely rapid achievement, the decision to create PESCO was celebrated at a special ceremony during the December EU summit in Brussels in mid-December, attended by the military leaders of the participating countries. The significance of the integration step was best described by European Council President Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP), who reminded us that the vision for a European defence community has been in place for more than half a century, but so far it has not been possible due to the lack of unity and courage, and because of the mismatch between dream and reality.

For many years, the strongest argument against PESCO had been the fear that it would lead to the weakening of NATO. But it is quite the opposite. Strong European defence naturally strengthens NATO“, Mr Tusk added. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (Italy, Socialists and Democrats), who will play a major role in the development of PESCO, said that through continued cooperation, the EU will become a credible security provider. She proposed to the leaders the creation of a European Peace Facility within the next multiannual EU budget to finance the EU’s security and defence ambitions. In her words, this does not mean militarisation of the European budget, but is necessary for the EU to become more flexible and operational when needed.

After relatively short reflection, Ireland, too, decided to join PESCO, although it adheres to its military neutrality. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, however, has the ambition to change the balance of power in the EU and has announced that his country will mainly participate in counter-cybercrime and cyber-terrorism projects as well as under UN or EU auspices. Ireland is also interested in maritime surveillance of borders and the protection of ports.

“It is a lot more than defence, it’s about foreign policy and we believe that its important for Ireland to be involved in projects such as PESCO. First of all, because, by being involved ,we can shape it. If you’re not involved you cannot shape how it is going to develop in the future. And also it is an important part of European solidarity. And I think we have seen a good example in the last couple of years and months of European countries showing solidarity with Ireland and we want to show solidarity with other European countries and taking part in PESCO is an example of that”, said Mr Varadkar after the end of the European Council in December.

The security and defence topic was among the few issues on which conclusions were adopted by the leaders during their two-day summit. However, the text differs in some parts from the draft approved by the General Affairs Council several days earlier, with ambition in some cases significantly reduced. For example, draft conclusions, which euinside has its hands on, highlighted the importance of “quickly implementing the first batch of fifteen projects“, while the text adopted only referred to the “first projects” without mentioning a specific figure. When it comes to capacity building, the ambition of the final text is bigger, indicating the spring of 2018 as a deadline, whereas the draft indicated June 2018.

 

The draft conclusions called for further work on the implementation of the full set of NATO cooperation proposals, including those further approved in December, “notably in the areas of counter-terrorism, military mobility and cyber defence.” However, in the text approved by the leaders, the quoted part is completely removed. The defence topic will again be on the leaders’ agenda in June, which means that during this time, the Council will have to actively work, and this in turn means that the presiding country – Bulgaria – should put all its efforts to keep the level of ambition high enough to avoid the multi-speeding in this sphere.

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“Completely spontaneous” manufactured protests in Iran

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Image result for spontaneous protests in Iran CARTOON

ONE MILLION PEOPLE HOMELESS

YEARS OF SABER RATTLING

Endless saber rattling…

It’s been going on since the Carter administration.

Iran is a much bigger country than Iraq, it has more people and its military is in great shape.

Its commanders are veterans of the bloody Iraq-Iran War and they know their business.

We can barely deal with a ragtag band of tribal fighters in Afghanistan and ex-Iraq military armed with improvised weapons in Iraq.

How is our overextended military going to deal with a real military?

What a war with Iran would be like

Iran – The country, the people, the reality

www.brasscheck.com/video/6-9-us-businessman-visits-iran/

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Breitbart Billionaire Board Bashes Steve Bannon

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Breitbart Billionaire Board Bashes Steve Bannon. The Traditional Elite vs. The Right Populist Challengers

Since the run-up to the election of 2016, the ruling elite in America who control the two wings of the single Corporate Party of America (CPA)—the Republican and Democratic Parties—have been battling it out with ‘right populist’ challengers over who will define US policy in the decade ahead. Thus far in 2017 the elite have been clearly winning.

The likely sacking this coming week of Breitbart News’s CEO, Steve Bannon—which follows his banishment from the White House earlier in 2017—is but the latest example of the elite’s post-election objective of bringing their right populist challengers to heel, and in the process herding Trump himself back under their policy umbrella. (see my prior prediction, ‘Taming Trump’, this blog November 30, 2016)

The history of the traditional elite vs. right populist challengers goes back at least to the emergence of the so-called ‘Contract with America’ in 1994 followed soon thereafter by their effort to impeach then president, Bill Clinton. Clinton’s hard shift to the right after 1994 on economic, social and foreign policy deflated the challengers’ offensive, albeit temporarily. Then there was the so-called ‘Tea Party’ faction after 2001 that ran primary candidates and disrupted the elite Republican wing’s electoral strategy. With the assistance of the Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce, the Teaparty version of ‘right populist’ challengers were purged in 2014 from Republican primary races and candidacies.  The challengers were not defeated, however.  With the financial and organizational aid of the power behind the so-called ‘populist right’—i.e. the Koch brothers, the Mercers, Adelsons, Paul Singers and other radical right big financial supporters backing them—they returned with a vengeance in the 2016 election backing Trump, who opportunistically welcomed their organizational, media and ideological support as the traditional elite consistently rejected him. They bet their Trump Card and gained the White House.  The contest did not stop there, however.

In 2017 the contest with the Republican wing of the elite continued.  The ‘right populist’ mouthpiece within Congress, the US House ‘Freedom Caucus’, was able to prevail over other Republican colleagues and launch a full frontal assault on repealing Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. They recklessly rolled the dice on their first toss…and lost. Check one for the traditional elite right out of the box in early 2017.

Image result for trump bannon

Another subsequent 2017 ‘win’ by the Republican wing of the elite was to get Trump to go slow on reversing NAFTA and other free trade agreements. Another was the driving of Steve Bannon and his allies from their perch as White House advisers. Yet another elite 2017 success was to convince Trump to back off from campaign promises to reorganize NATO and reset relations with Russia, and instead to continue providing strategic weapons to east Europe and, most recently, the Ukraine. That policy shift is now in acceleration mode. Then there was the defeat of Moore for Senator in Alabama, who Trump and the right populists both endorsed. The Republican wing of the traditional elite—both in and out of Congress—abandoned Moore and joined with the Democrat wing to ensure Moore’s defeat.  To have supported Moore would have signaled that the Republican elite’s strategy since 2014, a strategy denying right radicals from formal Republican (and Chamber of Commerce) support, was no longer in effect.  A Moore victory would have brought even more radicals from the right demanding to run on Republican electoral tickets. The Chamber could not permit that again.

But the very latest event in the internal battle was last week’s public rift between former right populist Trump election strategist and White House adviser, Steve Bannon, and Trump himself. A rift that, this writer predicts, will almost certainly lead to Bannon’s sacking as CEO of the influential right populist media organ, Breitbart News, this coming week or soon thereafter.

The Bannon sacking will clearly reveal that Bannon is not the driving force behind Breitbart. Nor is the radical ‘right populist’ movement itself an independent force.  Bannon and Breitbart are but a mouthpiece. For what? For the real force behind the Breitbart media outlet, Bannon, and similar media organizations and talking heads pushing far right political alternatives and economic policies—i.e. the billionaire money interests that fund them and make the strategic decisions for them behind the scenes. It is the billionaires who sit on the Breitbart board, and other boards of similar right populist organizations who fund the Breitbarts, the Bannons, and those like them that came before and will come after.

It is those billionaires in particular who have become super-wealthy since the 1990s by speculating in commercial property and trusts and shadow banking; the billionaires over-represented from the ranks of private equity firms, real estate REITs, hedge fund capitalists, asset management companies, etc. On the level of individual capitalists, it is the Adelsons, Paul Singers, the Mercers, the Mays, and others—all billionaires—who have been bankrolling the ‘right populists’ from the very beginning, giving them a public soapbox with which to promote their views, ideology, and mobilize public opinion. More traditional economic sector billionaires, like the Kochs, are also among their ranks, of course. But they are especially over-populated with speculators and financial manipulators (much like Trump himself) who want a more deregulated, winner-take-all kind of capitalism they see as necessary to compete with challengers globally in the coming decades.

These billionaires are the election campaign financiers that all the major candidates for national office trek to every election cycle, genuflect before, hold out their hats to for donations. And with their money comes a ‘Faustian’ bargain: they are allowed to define policies once their candidates get elected.  They are the silent sources that Trump regularly calls in the early morning hours from the White House to ask their advice and input.

Late last week, the billionaire Mercer family, that bankrolls and finances Breitbart News let it be known it was breaking relations with Bannon. Bannon quickly and contritely offered a public statement supporting Trump and calling him a ‘great man’, which Trump just as quickly retweeted. The Bannon retreat followed a reported statement he made to author Michael Wolf, who in his new book out last week quoted Bannon as saying Trump was psychologically unbalanced and “had lost it”.  Calls for Breitbart News to fire Bannon as its CEO quickly followed, and the Mercers statement was made public in turn.

So Bannon’s days are numbered and perhaps in hours not days. He will be gone, relegated to the speech circuit for right wing demagogues, joining the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, and others that occasionally over-estimate their influence with the capitalist ruling elite and their usefulness to them. And then find themselves on the outside looking in.

What the Bannon sacking will represent is that the ‘right populist’ movement will now ebb, albeit temporarily once more.  It will be resurrected when needed, with another figure(talking)head replacing Bannon. The Becks, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys and the Bannons are all expendable, and replaceable with another cookie-cutter ideologue whenever the elite consider it necessary.

The Bannon development more importantly signals that more traditional Republican elite policies and legislation will now ever further supplant the right populist initiatives in Congress. The Trump tax cuts just passed benefit clearly the wealthiest 1% and their corporations, and not the middle class, the embittered blue collar workers of the Midwest and Great Lakes, or any other voting constituency in America.

The demise of Bannon also signals that Donald Trump, if he wishes to continue as president will agree to continue his shift toward policies adopted by the Republican wing of the elite.  He has been in synch totally with the recent passage of the Trump Tax Cut act—the elite’s #1 policy objective which is now achieved.  Trump will now continue to back off of radical restructuring of free trade, especially NAFTA. He will fall in line with NATO and policies toward east Europe and Russia. He’ll provide more advanced weaponry to eastern Europe and the Ukraine. He will be satisfied with a token Wall and back off from disrupting immigration relations. And he will continue to soft-pedal his tweeting with regard to North Korea and support trade deals with China the elite want him to deliver.

This does not mean Trump’s troubles with the traditional elite are over, however. The events of the past year, culminating in the Bannon purge, only reflect Trump coming to terms with the Republican wing of the elite, as he tactically moves under their political protective umbrella.  The Democrat wing of the elite will continue trying to build a case against him.

The Democratic wing of the elite will continue to exert pressure on Trump through its powerful media organs and its deep connections with and influence within the State bureaucracy (FBI, NSA, State and Justice departments, DEA, military intelligence arms, etc.). This second front against Trump and his former right populist allies is reflected in the on-going investigation into a Russia-Trump connection during the 2016 election cycle—which that wing of the elite hopes will lead, if not to outright collusion, then to evidence of some form of obstruction of justice by Trump; or perhaps uncover in the process past criminal activity by the Trump business organization with regard to tax evasion or foreign bribes for contracts with Russian oligarchs and mafia. This second front has recorded some success over the past year, as former FBI director, Mueller, has been able to extract evidence from suspected principals, Michael Flynn, Paul Monafort, and Papadopoulos.

The second major development of the past week was the publication of the Michael Wolf book on Trump. With the publication a new issue has been thrown into the political hotpot:  Now it is not just whether Trump has colluded with the Russians, or obstructed Justice to stop the Mueller investigation, or engaged in illegal bribes and deals with Russian oligarchs.  Now the new mantra is Trump is psychologically unbalanced—as evidenced in his own Tweets and in the constant flow of leaked statements by his own administration about his basic ‘child-like character’(Senator Corker), his ability to function at a level of ‘an idiot’ (Secretary of State Tillerson), or that he “has lost it” (Bannon).

In the months ahead the Republican wing—for whom Trump has nicely delivered in the form of tax cuts in the trillions of dollars and with whom Trump is now playing ball with regard to free trade—will circle the wagons on behalf of Trump.  The Republican party wing of the elite don’t want to drive Trump from the White House. They want him tamed and continuing to deliver to policy agenda. So they have already begun to circle the wagons on Trump’s behalf—and to launch a counteroffensive in his defense.  The past week’s reopening of the investigation of Clinton’s foundation and demands to indict the author of the ‘Trump dossier’ are but two examples of the counteroffensive.

And watch what happens after Trump eventually fires FBI investigator, Mueller.  They’ll block the appointment of an independent prosecutor once Mueller is gone. And that means there won’t be any impeachment in 2018.  All that could change, however, should Trump’s historic low approvals slip still further and result in the Republican loss of either the House or Senate in November 2018. Then watch the two wings of the elite unite in efforts to push Trump out.

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Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center in China. Poaching Foreign Talent

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already fundamentally changing information technology and stands poised to permeate and transform technology both online and off ranging from manufacturing and transportation to medicine and military applications. The US, Russia and China have all noted that dominance in this field of technology will be an essential ingredient to holding global primacy in the near future.

What resembles a sort of arms race has emerged between prominent nations around the globe. Perhaps in an effort to provide the US with an edge, or perhaps in an effort to mitigate the impact of such an arms race, Google has opened an AI center in China.

CNN in its article, “Google is opening an artificial intelligence center in China,” would announce:

Despite many of its services being blocked in China, Google has chosen Beijing as the location for its first artificial intelligence research center in Asia.

The purpose of the center, according to CNN, citing China’s desire to become a global leader in AI technology, will be to:

…help China pursue its aim to become the global leader. The facility will employ a team of researchers who will be supported by engineers the company already has in China.

Considering Google’s services being banned, blocked and otherwise unwelcomed in China, the question remains as to why exactly Google would seek to aid China in becoming a leader in AI technology Google itself seeks to position itself as a leader in.

This question may have been at least partially answered in a recent AI summit which included Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Poaching Foreign Talent

The Washington DC-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), as part of its Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative, held its Artificial intelligence and Global Security Summit (video) in early November 2017. During Schmidt’s question and answer session, he remarked that China would likely overcome America’s lead in AI technology by 2025.

While Schmidt offered suggestions on how the US could keep its lead over China, particularly through establishing its own national laboratories for researching and developing AI technology within an enumerated national strategy regarding AI, it would be his comments on US immigration policy that hinted at why Google might open an AI center in China as part of maintaining America’s lead.

Schmidt would remark (emphasis added):

Let’s talk about immigration. Shockingly, some of the very best people are in countries that we won’t let in to America. Would you rather have them building AI somewhere else or having them build it here? I’ll give you a specific example: Iran produces some of the smartest and top computer scientists in the world. I want them here! And to be clear I want them working for Alphabet and Google. I’m very, very clear on this. It’s crazy not to let these people in. So I could go on.

An alternative to having exceptional computer scientists brought into the United States would be poaching them at centers precisely like the one opened in China. The center not only allows Google, and by extension, the US access to Chinese computer scientists, it also creates a node within China’s own research and development network, providing immense insight and intelligence regarding China’s progress in this pivotal technological field.

Google’s own announcement regarding the center’s opening would offer additional insight, stating:

Focused on basic AI research, the Center will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by Google China’s strong engineering teams. We’ve already hired some top experts, and will be working to build the team in the months ahead (check our jobs site for open roles!). Along with Dr. Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI, I’ll be leading and coordinating the research. Besides publishing its own work, the Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community.

In other words, Google’s center is to serve as a window into China’s AI research community, a window through which it can observe China’s progress, but also a window it can reach through via funding and sponsoring to directly influence.

The Center Serves as a Window, Looked Through From Both Sides 

But as with all forms of industrial, corporate and international espionage, the presence of Google’s center poses risks for itself and US technological primacy, as much as it may provide opportunities.

Google, far from merely a technology company, has a long and well-documented history of collusion with the United States government and the powerful special interests that determine its foreign and domestic policy. It is this relationship Google has with Washington and its role in leveraging technology to attack and undermine political stability around the globe (particularly during the Arab Spring) that has many of its services banned in China in the first place.

It is unlikely that Beijing has not noticed the implications and potential threats of Google’s AI center on its own soil.

Analysts will likely want to pay close attention to the projects and personalities attracted to this center in order to discern who the net benefactor will be of Google’s most recent move.

Mutual Mitigation of Risk

There also remains the possibility that AI technology may be transparently developed in such a way as to mitigate the most destructive aspects of a what analysts are calling a possible “3rd offset” sought by America’s military enabled by AI technology. This possibility could play a role in China’s decision to host the center.

China may also expect a certain degree of access to America’s AI research and development networks in return for hosting Google. This arrangement would be not unlike many of the Cold War deals struck between Washington and Moscow to prevent nuclear war and other possible conflicts owed solely on a lack of transparency or through misunderstandings.

Creating an equitable balance of power regarding the use of AI technology before any sort of disparity can emerge between nations resulting in a “Hiroshima-Nagasaki” style event would most certainly benefit either Washington or Beijing depending on who emerged at the winning and losing ends of such disparity. Since neither Washington nor Beijing can honestly say for sure who will end up on the winning and losing ends, they may both have calculated that preventing the scenario from ever unfolding in the first place may be the wisest course of action to take.

Ultimately, the old adage of keeping one’s friends close, and one’s enemies closer, may have contributed to both Google’s desire to establish the center, and Beijing’s acceptance to host it.

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Does the US Military “Own the Weather”? “Weaponizing the Weather” as an Instrument of Modern Warfare?

NOVANEWS
 

First published in September 2017.

Environmental modification techniques have been available to the US military for more than half a century.

The issue has been amply documented and should be part of the climate change debate.

Note: There is no evidence of “weather modification” in relation to recent climatic disturbances (hurricanes), but at the same time there is no firm evidence that this climate instability is attributable to greenhouse gas emissions.

The broader issue of environmental modification techniques must be addressed and carefully analyzed.

***

US mathematician John von Neumann, in liaison with the US Department of Defense, started his research on weather modification in the late 1940s at the height of the Cold War and foresaw ‘forms of climatic warfare as yet unimagined’. During the Vietnam war, cloud-seeding techniques were used, starting in 1967 under Project Popeye, the objective of which was to prolong the monsoon season and block enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The US military has developed advanced capabilities that enable it selectively to alter weather patterns. The technology, which was initially developed in the 1990s under the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), was an appendage of the Strategic Defense Initiative – ‘Star Wars’. From a military standpoint, HAARP  –which was officially abolished in 2014– is  a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the outer atmosphere and capable of destabilising agricultural and ecological systems around the world.

Officially, the HAARP program has been closed down at its location in Alaska. The technology of weather modification shrouded in secrecy, nonetheless prevails. HAARP documents confirm that the technology was fully operational in the mid 1990s.

(For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: Owning the Weather for Military Use, first published by Global Research in 2006). 

It should be emphasized that while the US military confirms that weather warfare is fully operational, there is no documented evidence of its military use against enemies of the US. The subject matter is a taboo among environmental analysts. No in-depth investigation has been undertaken to reveal the operational dimensions of weather warfare.

The irony is that the impacts of ENMOD techniques for military use were documented by CBC TV in the early 1990s.

The CBC TV report acknowledged that the HAARP facility in Alaska under the auspices of the US Air Force had the ability of triggering typhoons, earthquakes, floods and droughts: .

Directed energy is such a powerful technology it could be used to heat the ionosphere to turn weather into a weapon of war. Imagine using a flood to destroy a city or tornadoes to decimate an approaching army in the desert. The military has spent a huge amount of time on weather modification as a concept for battle environments. If an electromagnetic pulse went off over a city, basically all the electronic things in your home would wink and go out, and they would be permanently destroyed.”

CBC TV Report

Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather

In this article we will provide key quotations from a US 1996 US Air Force document which analyzes weather modification techniques for military use.

The underlying objective from a military standpoint is “Owning the Weather”.

At the time this study was commissioned in  1996, the HAARP program was already fully operational as documented by the CBC documentary.

The stated purpose of the Report is described below:

In this paper we show that appropriate application of weather-modification can provide battlespace dominance to a degree never before imagined. In the future, such operations will enhance air and space superiority and provide new options for battlespace shaping and battlespace awareness there, waiting for us to pull it all together;” in 2025 we can “Own the Weather.” US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report,  

Weather-modification, according to the US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report, 

offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary”, capabilities, it says, extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes:

‘Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog and storms on earth or to modify space weather… and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of [military] technologies.” 

See complete reports commissioned by the US Air Force at

http://csat.au.af.mil/2025/volume3/vol3ch15.pdf

 ….From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary. Some of the potential capabilities a weather-modification system could provide to a war-fighting commander in chief (CINC) are listed in table 1.

Source: US Air Force

Why Would We Want to Mess with the Weather? is the subtitle of chapter 2 of the Report

According to Gen Gordon Sullivan, former Army chief of staff, “As we leap technology into the 21st century, we will be able to see the enemy day or night, in any weather— and go after him relentlessly.” global, precise, real-time, robust, systematic weather-modification capability would provide war-fighting CINCs with a powerful force multiplier to achieve military objectives. Since weather will be common to all possible futures, a weather-modification capability would be universally applicable and have utility across the entire spectrum of conflict. The capability of influencing the weather even on a small scale could change it from a force degrader to a force multiplier.

Under the heading:

What Do We Mean by “Weather-modification”?

The report states:

The term weather-modification may have negative connotations for many people, civilians and military members alike. It is thus important to define the scope to be considered in this paper so that potential critics or proponents of further research have a common basis for discussion.

In the broadest sense, weather-modification can be divided into two major categories: suppression and intensification of weather patterns. In extreme cases, it might involve the creation of completely new weather patterns, attenuation or control of severe storms, or even alteration of global climate on a far-reaching and/or long-lasting scale. In the mildest and least controversial cases it may consist of inducing or suppressing precipitation, clouds, or fog for short times over a small-scale region. Other low-intensity applications might include the alteration and/or use of near space as a medium to enhance communications, disrupt active or passive sensing, or other purposes. (emphasis added)

The Triggering of Storms:

Weather-modification technologies might involve techniques that would increase latent heat release in the atmosphere, provide additional water vapor for cloud cell development, and provide additional surface and lower atmospheric heating to increase atmospheric instability.

Critical to the success of any attempt to trigger a storm cell is the pre-existing atmospheric conditions locally and regionally. The atmosphere must already be conditionally unstable and the large-scale dynamics must be supportive of vertical cloud development. The focus of the weather-modification effort would be to provide additional “conditions” that would make the atmosphere unstable enough to generate cloud and eventually storm cell development. The path of storm cells once developed or enhanced is dependent not only on the mesoscale dynamics of the storm but the regional and synoptic (global) scale atmospheric wind flow patterns in the area which are currently not subject to human control. (page 19)

Is the CIA involved in Climate Engineering? 

The Involvement of the CIA in Climate Change Technologies

Back in July 2013,  MSN news reported that the CIA was involved in helping to fund a project by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) focusing on geo-engineering and climate manipulation. The report not only acknowledged these technologies, it confirmed that US intelligence has been routinely involved in addressing the issue of climatic manipulation:

The CIA is helping fund the research because the NAS also plans to evaluate “the national security concerns (that could be) related to geoengineering technologies being deployed somewhere in the world,” Kearney said.

In an emailed statement, Christopher White, a spokesman for the CIA’s office of public affairs, told MSN, “On a subject like climate change, the agency works with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security.”

Although the CIA and the NAS are tight-lipped about what these concerns might be, one researcher notes that geoengineering has the potential to deliberately disrupt the weather for terrorist or military goals.

John Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington-based firm that specializes in addressing emerging security concerns, says that worries about the potential impact of geoengineering aren’t as paramount as the potential security issues that could arise if the United States doesn’t use the technology.

“A failure to engage in geoengineering could impact the political stability of other countries, and that could lead to trouble for the U.S.,” he said.

The NAS project is supported by the U.S. intelligence community, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Energy.

historical examples of related technologies (e.g., cloud seeding and other weather modification) for lessons that might be learned about societal reactions, examine what international agreements exist which may be relevant to the experimental testing or deployment of geoengineering technologies, and briefly explore potential societal and ethical considerations related to geoengineering. This study is intended to provide a careful, clear scientific foundation that informs ethical, legal, and political discussions surrounding geoengineering.

(See http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49540)

According to a  2015 report in the Independent (screenshot above), quoting a renowned US scientist Alan Robock:

A senior American climate scientist has spoken of the fear he experienced when US intelligence services apparently asked him about the possibility of weaponising the weather as a major report on geo-engineering is to be published this week.

Professor Alan Robock stated that three years ago, two men claiming to be from the CIA had called him to ask whether experts would be able to tell if hostile forces had begun manipulating the US’s weather, though he suspected the purpose of the call was to find out if American forces could meddle with other countries’ climates instead. (emphasis added)

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