Archive | October 7th, 2018

Inda: Karl Marx Bicentenary Symposium at Udaipur

rajasthan

THE CPI (ML) organized a symposium on 30 September 2018 at Udaipur in Rajasthan to mark the occasion of Karl Marx’s bicentennial anniversary. The symposium was attended by hundreds of Party activists, democracy-loving people and intellectuals. CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya was the main speaker on the occasion. Addressing the symposium Com. Dipankar said that Marxism shows the way to freedom from oppression. Even 170 years after the writing of the Communist Manifesto, it is Marxism which provides the theory and analysis to understand the rampant inequality across the world due to capitalism. That is why Marx is being read again all over the world and continues to inspire the working class to fight against this socio-economic inequality. The RSS and BJP try to reject Marx by saying that he is a foreigner but the truth is that as early as the 1850s Marx had spoken about freedom for the people of India from British colonization. The truth is that the very people who are today breaking statues of Lenin who followed Marx are also breaking status of Gandhi, Periyar and Ambedkar.

Com. Dipankar said that Marx advocated change as essential for freedom from oppression and slavery. He said that we cannot wait for change to happen; we must start a decisive battle without delay to bring about change. Marx had pointed out that those who have capital have a free license to loot and oppress. Capital did not always exist, neither will it always exist. As production is social, control over it also has to be social. Oppression, loot, slavery, and murder, are all a part of building capital, and can be controlled only when there is social control over it. For this, he added that class struggle is necessary. Inequality in society can be erased only through class struggle. He expressed confidence that fascist forces will be overthrown and democracy will be saved through the unity of farmers, workers, and democratic forces.

State Committee member Com. Shankar Lal Chaudhary said that the road showed by Marx to end the oppression of capitalism is relevant even today, when 73% of the country’s resources are being controlled by 1% of the population.

State Secretary Com. Mahendra Chaudhary said that Marx had explained the crisis of capitalism very well. The capitalist class used the Modi government to shift its economic burden on to the common people through demonetization and GST. Demonetization brought the common man’s money into the banks and this money was used for granting loan waivers worth lakhs of crores to rich capitalists and letting the likes of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi go scot free, whereas the government remains silent on loan waivers to farmers who are facing grave distress and an unprecedented agrarian crisis.

Professor Hemendra Chandaliya said that in the Indian context, the issue of caste must be understood from the viewpoint of class; only then can we build the India of Ambedkar’s dreams. State AICCTU in-charge Com. Saurabh Naruka said that those who talked of the end of Marxist ideology 3 decades ago are now taking the help of Marx to understand the global economic crisis, and there has been a resurgence of the Left in the bastions of capitalism like America, Britain and Europe.

The symposium was attended by a good number of Left, democratic, and progressive people from Udaipur city and ML activists from Udaipur, Ajmer, Jaipur and Jhunjhunu. Among those who addressed the symposium were Rajesh Singhvi, Abid Abid, Bhanwari Bai, Pratap Singh Devda, and Subhash Shrimali. The symposium was conducted by Sudha Chaudhary and LR Patel proposed a vote of thanks.

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THE AMERICAN HOLOCAUST ‘Video’

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Image result for HOLOCAUST CARTOON

THE UNHEALED WOUND

SUBJUGATION, TERMINATION, RESERVATIONS…

Joanelle Romero began putting this film together in 1995.

It was originally intended to be a 90 minute film, but due to a lack of funding, this 29 minute version released in 2001 is all that’s been completed so far.

Romero traces direct connections between the Nazi holocaust and the slaughter of millions of Native Americans – at least 19 million by conservative estimates.

The US policy towards Native Americans was studied, praised and emulated by Adolph Hitler. That’s a historical fact. Apartheid leaders in South Africa and dictators in Latin America emulated the US system too.

Subjugation, extermination, reservations…

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Mark Dankof on New World Order in Iran and Terrorism

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It is no accident that this despicable terror attack in Ahvaz occurred on the anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, which produced more casualties than any conflict since World War II.

…by Jonas E. Alexis and Mark Dankof

Mark Dankof is the former 36th District Chairman of the Republican Party in King County/Seattle. He was an elected delegate to Texas State Republican Conventions in 1994 and 1996 and entered the United States Senate race in Delaware in 2000 as the nominated candidate of the Constitution Party against Democratic candidate Thomas Carper and Republican incumbent William Roth.

Jonas E. Alexis: I have argued in the past that the New World Order is essentially a world in which practical reason in the moral and political order plays virtually no role. The New World Order’s most enduring legacy is contempt for morality and what Immanuel Kant calls practical reason in the comprehensible universe. This is an essential point.

Our dear friend and colleague Mark Dankof has recently taken the New World Order by the horn and cut it to pieces. He has exposed NWO agents in Iran and elsewhere, and he deserves to be applauded. I am sur that you won’t be disappointed in his recent piece here.

Tasnim: As you know, 25 people were killed and dozens of others injured after unknown terrorists opened fire at a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday. What is your take on the attack?

Dankof: It is no accident that this despicable terror attack in Ahvaz occurred on the anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, which produced more casualties than any conflict since World War II. The launching of that conflict by Iraq had the full backing of the United States, Israel, and Britain among others, and was designed to strike back at the then newly established Islamic Republic of Iran in the wake of the overthrow of the Pahlavi Regime.

The Ahvaz horror perpetrated during an Iranian military parade occurs against the backdrop of the totally irresponsible statements and policies of the current Zionist-Neo Conservative foreign policy team of Donald Trump led by John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, who clearly want an American-Israeli military conflict with Iran at the behest of Benjamin Netanyahu and his sycophants in the American Congress and American Mainstream News Media.

The probable use of al-Ahvaziya in the Ahvaz attack mirrors the longtime use of the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK/MKO) in carrying out terror attacks and assassinations on Iranian soil, including the latter’s pivotal role in the murder of Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran. Both of these terrorist organizations are based abroad, the latter currently headquartered in Albania.

Both organizations have shadowy connections to the players ultimately behind the crime in Ahvaz, which are the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. These nation-states are provably behind the use of Wahhabic terrorists imported into Syria as a means of overthrowing the Assad regime to set up the complete isolation of Iran in the Arab world, the continued encirclement of Russia, and an enhanced position from which to attack Iran and South Lebanon militarily.

This is part of a larger set of Zionist-Neo Conservative aggressions against Iran with the Regime Change mantra being chanted by Rudolph Giuliani, a stooge of both the MEK and the Israeli Lobby, and the aforementioned Bolton, Pompeo, and Haley among many others, being the endgame. The employment of terrorists in Iran is but one.

The others are the renewed and increasingly draconian economic sanctions put in motion by the Trump Administration against Iran subsequent to the former’s illegitimate pullout from the JCPOA/P5+1 Treaty with Iran at the behest of Zionist interests and pressure on the President of the United States, and the ultimate use of American, NATO, and Israeli overt military force if all else fails. The fascinating thing is that the announced cooperation of the European Union, Russia, and China in the creation of a clearing house system that would allow their companies and others to continue to trade with Iran by circumventing Western banks, has Mike Pompeo and the other members of the Netanyahu-Saudi War Team screaming foul. This is but one of the many unintended consequences for the reckless and irresponsible actions taken by the Administration with Netanyahu’s Tail Wagging the Dog.

Tasnim: According to media reports, the al-Ahvaziya terror group, whose recruits are believed to be scattered in several European countries, including in the Netherlands and in Denmark, claimed responsibility for the attack in Ahvaz. The terror outfit, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has a record of carrying out sabotage acts in Iran’s Khuzestan province, which encompasses Ahvaz and some other Arab-dominated towns. How do you see the role of Riyadh in the attack?

Dankof: As already mentioned, I believe they were directly involved in the utilization of those who carried out this criminal act in Ahvaz, for reasons previously articulated. They have the motive, the means, the opportunity, and the criminal mindset necessary for such an event. Look at their genocidal war being conducted in Yemen with the military, political, and logistical support of the United States.

Look at their pivotal role in supporting ISIS (Daesh) and the al-Qaeda affiliates in a war against Assad’s regime in Syria that has killed at least 500,000 people and displaced half the population of 17 million. Their latest criminal attacks on Shiite believers in their own Eastern Province is but another example.

Tasnim: Following the attack on Saturday, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an adviser to the Abu Dhabi government, justified the attack on Twitter, claiming that it was not a terrorist attack and that “moving the battle to the Iranian side is a declared option”. “Attacks of this kind will increase during the next phase,” he said. What do you think?

Dankof: Mr. Abdulla simply corroborates what I have said about this matter. If one thinks about it, he looks and sounds like a cross-dressing John Bolton with a Sunni turban on. Denying the inherently criminally terroristic character of the attack, and employing incendiary rhetoric like “Moving the battle to the Iranian side is a declared ‘option’. . . . Attacks of this kind will increase during the next phase,” suggests a psychotically criminal outlook that mirrors the latest lies of the American National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

Bolton blamed Iran for the recent shootdown of the Russian IL-20 surveillance aircraft clearly to be blamed on the approximately 200th illegal Israeli air strike on Syria, where the IAF used the Russian aircraft as cover to fool the Syrian S-200 anti-aircraft missile system into killing 15 Russian military personnel.

At the same time, The Times of Israel tells us that Bolton’s latest appearance before the United Against Nuclear Iran front organization in New York produced his most incendiary rhetoric yet, including warning the Iranian government of “hell to pay” for the latter’s failure to bow down to Zionist threats and aggression.

Who constitutes this United Against Nuclear Iran organization? Even Wikipedia gives us the truth on this one: Leaders like Joseph Lieberman, Mark Wallace, Richard Holbrooke, and Dennis Ross, with funding from Zionist billionaires Thomas Kaplan, and Republican mega-donors and Netanyahu/Trump pals, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. As Pat Buchanan once put it so well, the American Government is a “Zionist Occupied Government.”

Tasnim: Reports suggest that US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were behind the attacks. Do you believe so?

Dankof: I obviously do believe this based on answers to the first three fine questions raised. There is another dimension of this war that needs to be understood by the fine people of Iran, Syria, Russia, and elsewhere who read my articles and hear my broadcast appearances.

The Alternative Right journalists and broadcasters in the United States against the Zionist New World Order and American support for its wars are already being subjected to national and global Internet censorship by Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube among others. A classic example of this is a recent radio broadcast by Dr. Patrick Slattery of National Bugle Radio and the Republic Broadcasting Network with me as the guest. It is entitled, “Saraqib as Sarajevo? The Constellis and Olive Groups and False Flags in Syria.”

On that show, using public sources, we demonstrated who was behind the recent efforts to establish a False Flag Chemical Attack in Idlib Province in Syria designed to be falsely blamed on President Assad and to justify an American military attack in that country. YouTube blocked that broadcast from being aired in 40 countries only one day after the show was released. This is but one instance of this increasingly frequent phenomenon.

The ante with all of this has recently been upped with the Trump Administration’s naming of Jewish Zionist activist attorney Kenneth L. Marcus to the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights for the US Department of Education. Why is this significant?

It is significant because the Trump Administration has now adopted a definition of “anti-Semitism” in schools (Politico, Sept. 11th, 2018) which 1) equates any criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic”; and which, in accepting the definition adopted by the draconian Global Anti-Semitism Review Act passed by the American Congress in 2004 and signed into law by President George W. Bush, makes a series of things “anti-Semitic” that are in fact demonstrably true when examined and researched objectively and dispassionately. The list of these is provided by cursory Internet research.

This is not only an assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of Freedom of Speech in the United States, but is following the draconian curtailments on freedom of speech and association well underway in Europe, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere.

Here, the Alternative Right is the most obvious target in the crosshairs of this Kosher Gestapo. Why? Because certain of their media outlets have not only linked Israel to the vast majority of crimes committed by the United States in that region, but because the Alternative Right has spoken out on the truth about Zio-Lies related to the First and Second World Wars, the Federal Reserve Board, the Kennedy Assassination, the Lavon Affair, Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, the Pollard and AIPAC spy cases, Israel’s role in using the MEK in acts of terror in Iran, and the pivotal role of Jewish pressure and lobby groups in bringing legalized abortion and gay marriage into play in the United States in my lifetime.

As we continue exposing the Zionist-Globalist War on Syria, Palestine, Iran, and Russia, we shall continue to expose the War Party’s War on legitimate dissent and protest in the United States. It is a seamless garment. The war is relentless. It is being waged on two fronts. The forces that target me and other members of the Alternative Right media in America are targeting the people of Iran simultaneously.

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The Anglo-European Negotiations

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Michael Shrimpton reviews the current state of the UK/EU negotiations over Brexit and reports on the latest dramatic developments in his case.

After the Salzburg summit the Anglo-European negotiations have effectively collapsed. They always were a waste of time. Theresa May’s seriously flawed Chequers Plan looks to have gone the way of the Munich Agreement. It is now looking more likely than ever that the UK will leave the EU without a deal. Since any deal would be worse than no deal, this is good news for Britain!

The interesting thing is the possible role played by Russia, which obviously wants Britain to break free of the German orbit. There is no way the Commission, which sabotaged the Salzburg summit, would have done so without instructions from Germany. Although President Macron of France claimed the ‘credit’, he’s a German puppet, in the tradition of Marshal Pétain and Pierre Laval, no offense intended, and none taken, I am sure.

What would no deal mean?

As part of ‘Project Fear’ Remainers have trotted out a series of reports suggesting that UK GDP would suffer, unemployment would go up, the sky would fall in, there would be mass outbreaks of measles etc. etc. The reality is that the UK would continue to trade with the EU, in the same way that you guys do, not to mention the Chinese, the Aussies and the Kiwis.

Since the UK trades at a massive deficit with the EU27, mutual tariffs will benefit British industry. The car industry in particular will benefit. As French, German and Italian cars become more expensive more cars will be made here. None of the reports which I have seen mention import substitution.  There is almost nothing which the EU makes which we cannot make ourselves, champagne excepted, indeed champagne is our only essential import from the EU.

The level of exports to the EU27 has been inflated for political reasons. As opponents of EEC entry predicted British exports collapsed after 1973 and unemployment rose. It’s only really starting to come down with the impact of Brexit, as European workers start to go home.

All exports via the giant container ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam are counted as exports to Belgium and the Netherlands respectively, even if they’re going to China. Exports to the EU are also calculated differently to exports to the rest of the world, based on VAT returns. In practice these give a false high reading.

Leaving the EU should lead to a revival of British manufacturing and a steep fall in unemployment. EU workers will no longer enjoy unfettered access to the British jobs market. The likeliest outcome on immigration is that citizens of EU member states will no longer enjoy special privileges and will have to apply for work permits like everybody else.

There are panic stories in the media about British citizens needing visas to visit France for a vacation. The stories are nonsense of course – it’s highly unlikely that French citizens will be treated as visa nationals after withdrawal, that is to say they will not require a visitors’ visa for a short stay in the UK and vice versa.

Is a second referendum likely?

Both sides in the 2016 referendum promised to respect the result, as did the government. The Remain side were lying through their teeth however – they had no intention of abiding by a Leave result. So far as they are concerned referenda are only allowed to produce the result the EU wants. If a national electorate defies the European elite it has to vote again and again until it gets it right.

Their arrogance and contempt for democracy knows no bounds. Having tried to lie and murder their victory in 2016 they are now desperate to try and undermine the result. Their credibility is shot.

I am not saying and have never said that everybody in the Remain camp knew about the plan to murder pro-EU Labour MP Jo Cox and blame it on an allegedly right-wing patsy in the hope that the Leave side would be blamed. Some must have known about the plot, however, and more will have found out about it since. It’s unlikely to have been a coincidence that Theresa May referred to the Cox Assassination in her speech to the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham yesterday. (That’s Birmingham England, BTW, not Birmingham Alabama, which has fewer race relations problems.)

In any event there is probably isn’t enough time left to organise a referendum between now and March, thankfully. The government has ruled one out and Labour are lukewarm, so it’s unlikely to happen.

When is Theresa May going?

One Tory MP, with superb timing, publicly announced that he had sent a letter of no confidence to the Chief Whip shortly before Theresa May’s keynote speech. She hasn’t got long, but it looks as though the God-fearing Tory Right will delay their move until after Brexit. I think that’s a mistake, frankly, but the numbers don’t appear to be there for the time being.

Theresa May is still pushing the Chequers Plan – the one formulated in secret by the Cabinet Office and bounced on the Cabinet at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat. She has almost no chance of getting Chequers through Parliament, however.

Ditching May now would finally kill Chequers off. If ‘Appeaser Theresa’  stays Chequers can’t be eliminated as a possibility altogether, since it’s backed by the Cabinet Secretary, the notorious Sir Jeremy ‘von’ Heywood. ‘Oily’ Robbins, the UK’s sinister chief negotiator, reports to ‘von’ Heywood. ‘Oily’ is now more of a hate figure for the Tory Right than Mao Tse-Tung, understandably. ‘Von’ Heywood and May are likely to go as a package. May’s policy is to let Sir Jeremy run the country, i.e. she’s a house-trained idiot, no offense intended.

The Cabinet Office still hasn’t gotten over its failure to hand World War II to Germany, despite the best efforts of the traitorous Cabinet Secretary, Sir Edward Bridges. He’s the guy who helped the Japanese sink HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in the South China Sea in December 1941.

HMS Prince of Wales

Set up by the Imperial German Secret Service in 1916, via their asset David Lloyd George, in order to control Whitehall, the Cabinet Office in practice is part of the German state bureaucracy, not the British. The Cabinet Office has always been the enemy of the Service departments, e.g., and tends to get in the way of every major project. Its mentality is that the Luftwaffe won the Battle of Britain – it views Britain as a German client state.

The idea behind the Chequers Plan is effectively for the EU to continue to decide Britain’s laws, without British participation, which was always a fig-leaf anyway. (I can’t think of a single directive that we have been able to water down or amend.)

The Tory Right now hate the Cabinet Office in the way that the Roundheads hated Charles 1, whose approach to running the country was pretty much on the same lines as Sir Jeremy Heywood’s, no offense intended. (Although the arguments are finely balanced, I am not actually suggesting that Sir Jeremy be subjected to the full panoply of a State Execution, even though the costs would more than be recovered through the sale of the television rights.) Taking the great Bomber Harris as their example the time has come for the Tory Right to rain paralysing hammer blows upon the Cabinet Office.

Judge Kavanaugh

I anticipate that the Senate will confirm Judge Kavanaugh tomorrow. Even though the FBI backed Hillary and are opposed to President Trump and his Administration, and have a sordid record of politicising criminal investigations, it seems unlikely that the Bureau has been able to stand up the allegations of sexual misconduct against the learned judge.

The law abhors delay. The starting point with stale accusations which are only raised when the alleged perp is running for office or about to be confirmed for the Supreme Court is that they are false. You don’t need 33 years to work out that you’ve been raped, frankly, whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s the sort of thing you tend to notice.

With respect, I was most unimpressed with Christine Blasey Ford’s histrionic performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her connections to the CIA through her father damage her credibility even further, given the CIA’s heavy penetration by the CORREA/Correa Group and its bitter hostility to the Trump Administration.

I am not surprised that aspects of her testimony, such as her alleged fear of flying, are coming under scrutiny. If Dr Ford genuinely thought that Judge Kavanaugh was unfit for judicial office she should have come forward during his previous confirmation hearing. Remember that Judge Kavanaugh is already a federal appellate judge. The timing of Ford’s allegations is highly suspicious. The reality is that the judge’s diaries have demolished her accusation.

The underlying issue is Democrat and German concern about the possible reversal of Roe v. Wade (410 US 113 (1973)), the with respect junk law SCOTUS decision which legalized abortion and which continues to affect US birth rate and demographics. That was the case where the Supreme Court persuaded themselves that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson believed in baby-killing.

Judge Kavanaugh is a fine jurist, with respect. It’s unlikely that he finds the reasoning, if that is not too strong a word, in Roe v. Wade persuasive. It’s a legal, not a political, question. Roe v. Wade with respect was a political, not a legal, decision. It’s high time that it was reversed and constitutional legitimacy restored.

My case

I am sorry to say that I was disbarred on September 20th, subject to appeal. (I hope readers will forgive the recent erratic timing of my columns – the hearing and preparing the appeal have absorbed a great deal of my time.) What happened was this.

Convicted barristers used to be able to challenge their convictions. Without widespread consultation or Parliamentary authority the Bar Standards Board (BSB) purported to change the rules and make criminal convictions conclusive for professional purposes. I challenged the legality or vires of this rule change.

On January 30 last year a Disciplinary Tribunal of the Council of Inns of Court, presided over by Her Honour Judge Suzanne Matthews QC, a good lawyer with respect, ruled in my favor that the rule barring a challenge to convictions had to be read subject to the Rules of Natural Justice, which were brought in by a separate rule. Directions were given for the service of evidence challenging my convictions should the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) decline to refer my convictions back to the Court of Appeal.

After the CCRC backed away in April I prepared and served my evidence, in accordance with the directions. In the end my bundle totaled nearly 750 pages. By June of this year the indecent images conviction had collapsed completely, thanks to fresh evidence from Dell, a change of heart by SanDisk, warranty evidence from those nice people the Western Digital Corporation and a series of forensic reports.

To recap, the memory stick containing the images turned out to have been manufactured several months after I was supposed to have acquired it, and the hard drive used to convict me turned out to have been an aftermarket item, probably purchased two months after the illegal police raid on my flat in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, in 2012.

The CCRC’s conclusions were so weak, with respect, that they managed to persuade themselves, without taking expert advice, that when you buy a Dell laptop you get a separate warranty for the hard drive! Their inquiry was a farce, no offense intended.

When the BSB saw my evidence they appear to have panicked. Having actually agreed with Judge Matthews last year they now decided to attack her ruling, not by appealing it, but by running the same failed arguments at the same level. Judge Matthews was replaced by a new judge, His Honour Judge Critchlow. He ruled that I could not challenge my convictions, which will of course be my first ground of appeal.

In the meantime my solicitors applied to the new Home Secretary for a recommendation to the Palace for two Royal Pardons. So far as I can tell the Cabinet Office are fighting a desperate rear guard action to prevent the Home Secretary from seeing the application. It went in in June but still has not been acknowledged! The Department of Justice, in contrast, were courteous enough to acknowledge receipt of the US Attorney-General’s copy within days.

I’ll keep you posted! The battle to clear my name could well last until 2020.

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Syrian War Report – October 5, 2018: US-backed Forces Clash With ISIS In Euphrates Valley

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…from SouthFront

Clashes between ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed up by the US-led coalition, are ongoing in the area of Hajin in the province of Deir Ezzor.

According to pro-SDF sources, during the last week of the clashes, the SDF killed up to 100 ISIS members and destroyed up to dozen of vehicles belonging to the terrorist group. However, at the same time, it appears that the SDF achieved limited gains on the ground.

On October 3, the SDF captured about 10 positions near the ISIS-held town of Hajin and expanded a buffer zone near the recently captured town of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani. SDF units also advanced on al-Susah, but were not able to break the ISIS defense there.

On October 4, the US-backed group repelled an ISIS counter-attack near al-Baghuz al-Fawqani and continued advance on al-Susah.

The SDF operations were actively supported by aircraft and artillery of the US-led coalition, which delivered up to 40 strikes on ISIS targets.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army groups prevented the al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group Horas al-Din from attacking positions of the Syrian Arab Army in northern Lattakia, according to pro-militant sources.

A representative of Horas al-Din, Abu Rayan al-Ma’sadah, criticized his group’s counterparts for this move slamming their alleged attempts to support the Turkish-Russian deconfliction agreement on Idlib.

Previously reports appeared about a rift between the radical and relatively moderate parts of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham on the Idlib demilitarization zone agreement. While the radical side seeks an open military confrontation with the Syrian Army, the moderate faction is ready to obey to the Russian-Turkish deal if it gives the group an opportunity to keep influence in the province.

As the day of the formal establishment of the Idlib demilitarization zone comes closer, the rift between different Idlib militant groups and factions within them will likely grow further.

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Mike Pence Says Beijing “Wants a Different American President”

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Accusing China of Falling in Line With Majority of Americans, Mike Pence Says Beijing “Wants a Different American President”

“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs,” said Wang Yi, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, last week.

US Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at China in a speech on Thursday, accusing Beijing of seeking to undermine American democracy and “meddling” in elections as a way to get US President Donald Trump out of office. (Photo: Hudson Institute)

In a blatant attempt to invert the script on election “meddling” and interference, Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday accused the Chinese government of seeking to undermine U.S. democracy and charged, without evidence, that Beijing is acting malevolently because “China wants a different American president.”

Speaking at the right-wing Hudson Institute, Pence told the audience that “China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.”

Watch:

While Pence declared that behavior of Russia “pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” he only cited vague internal declarations by U.S. intelligence agencies and then pointed to an advertisement, purchased by the state-run China Daily newspaper, that was placed in the Des Moines Register that criticized the Trump administration’s trade war tactics. Beijing, of course, has been open about its opposition to new tariffs imposed by Trump and has made no mystery about its strategy of letting U.S. farming communities and other industries understand that its economic retaliation would be targeted at Trump’s political base.

The relevance of Pence’s comment, reportsAxios, was this:

President Trump raised eyebrows by declaring last week, without offering evidence, that China was meddling in the midterms.

  • Pence is attempting to put meat on those bones, while laying out a broader case that Beijing is a threat to U.S. interests and a destabilizing force around the world.
  • He’ll also make an explicit comparison to Russian interference, saying: “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what [China] is doing across this country.”

After Trump’s accusations directed at China last week, Wang Yi, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, rejected the charge directly while in New York for the United Nation’s General Assembly. “We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs,” said Wang. “We refuse to accept … unwarranted accusations against China.”

It was Axios, in fact, which last month reported that the White House had “secret anti-China plans” that, based on administration sources, would be launched in the weeks ahead.

But reaction to the vice president’s remarks by critics on Thursday, however, warned that Pence and the Trump administration are playing a dangerous game.

Whereas Pence accused China of “reckless harassment” by increasing its military presence in the South China Sea, he said the United States “will not be intimidated” and “will not stand down,” even as a Chinese and American warships came within 50 yards of one another this week in those waters.

A Chinese Luyang-class destroyer (right) sailed within 41 metres of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea on Sunday. (Photo: US Navy)A Chinese Luyang-class destroyer (right) sailed within 41 metres of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea on Sunday. (Photo: US Navy)

Oriana Skylar Mastro, assistant professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, toldThinkProgress in an interview that the approach outlined in the  speech is “problematic” for a number of reasons.

“Some of the things that the vice president, and indeed, the president, are saying about Chinese behavior are true, and some are an exaggeration, kind of conspiracy-theoryesque,” said Mastro.

Troubling, Mastro added, the framing of China as a “meddler” in U.S. elections recreates the unhelpful “Cold-War ideological battle” which is not good for ongoing and future relations.

Sound familiar?

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A VISIT TO THE NSA DATA CENTER IN UTAH ‘Video’

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Image result for cia logo

AN ENGINEER TALKS ABOUT WHAT HE SAW
“WE WERE ABLE TO CALCULATE THE CAPACITY BY COUNTING THE GENERATORS”

A visit to the NSA data center in Utah.

Journalists are not allowed in, but one engineer got to see the center when it was under construction…and here’s what he says.

Take aways:

“We were able to calculate the capacity by counting the generators”

“People don’t understand: All the data from their personal communications is being intercepted and stored.

“If you trust the government to do the right thing, I think you’re alone in that respect.

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Confluence of Trump’s Climate Villainy and Jailing Child Refugees

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Confluence of Trump’s Climate Villainy and Jailing Child Refugees, Says Bill McKibben, Nothing Short of ‘Downright Evil’

“Telling people to stay home is not an option—when there’s no water, or when the floods come each year, or when the sea rises into your kitchen, people have to leave. Period.”

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, wrote an op-ed for the Guardian raising alarm about the Trump administration and how the global climate crisis is expected to force millions of people to flee their homes over the next few decades. (Photo: Mark Dixon/Flickr/cc)

Environmental activist Bill McKibben, in an op-ed published by the Guardian on Tuesday, expresses alarm over the Trump administration’s “disastrous, linked policies on climate change and child refugee camps.”

“The Trump years are a fantasy land where we pretend we can go on living precisely as in the past [and] insist that the rest of the world stay locked in place as well. It’s impractical, it’s unfair, and when it ends up with camps for kids in the desert it’s downright evil.”
—Bill McKibben, activist

While much of the media for the past week has focused on the contentious confirmation process of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the women who have accused him of sexual assault, McKibben writes, “two new Trump initiatives slipped by with less notice than they deserve.”

Washington Post report published Friday revealeda “startling assumption” buried in an environmental impact statement (pdf) recently produced by the Transportation Department to justify the administration’s rollback of vehicle emissions rules: that the planet could warm 7°F, or about 4°C, above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

“Were the world to actually warm that much, it would be a literal hell, unable to maintain civilizations as we have known them,” McKibben notes. “But that’s now our policy, and it apparently rules out any of the actions that might, in fact, limit that warming. You might as well argue that because you’re going to die eventually, there’s no reason not to smoke a carton of cigarettes a day.”

On the heels of that revelation came a “horrific” report from the New York Times on Sunday that due to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, more than 1,600 unaccompanied migrant children at shelters and foster homes across the nation have been roused in the dead of night to be transported to, in the words of McKibben, “what can only be described as a concentration camp near the Mexican border.”

The “tent city” located in the border town of Tornillo, Texas opened in June as a temporary shelter for undocumented minors who entered the United States without parents or who were forcibly separated from their families under the “zero tolerance” policy. After a series of delayed closures, the administration announced last month that the detention center would triple its capacity to house the record number of migrant children in government custody.

“That camp is linked to climate change because, first, it’s in a desert. If you searched high and low across the North American continent, you could barely find a place hotter and drier,” McKibben points out. “But the link goes much deeper. Most of those migrants are from Central America and Mexico, and they might as easily be described as refugees fleeing gang violence (much of it rooted originally in the U.S.) and a changing climate.”

Looking to a future that, based on World Bank estimates, could see 140 million climate migrants by 2050, McKibben warns:

This will, of course, get steadily worse in the years ahead—every climate forecast shows deserts spreading and water evaporating across the region. And of course more migration will follow, in every corner of the world. […] Telling people to stay home is not an option—when there’s no water, or when the floods come each year, or when the sea rises into your kitchen, people have to leave. Period.

And telling people to stay home is not a moral option, either. Because the climate chaos setting off waves of refugees is born above all from the unconstrained migration of carbon dioxide molecules from America over the last century… [W]e are a world without atmospheric borders, where the people who have done the least to cause the problem feel its horrors first and hardest. That’s why, over the last half-decade, the environmental and migrant-rights movement have grown ever closer.

“The Trump years are a fantasy land where we pretend we can go on living precisely as in the past, unwilling even to substitute electric SUVs for our gas guzzlers, and able to somehow insist that the rest of the world stay locked in place as well,” he concludes. “It’s impractical, it’s unfair, and when it ends up with camps for kids in the desert it’s downright evil.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Confluence of Trump’s Climate Villainy and Jailing Child Refugees

Glenn Greenwald on the Possible Election of a Far-Right Demagogue in Brazil

NOVANEWS

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TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Voters in Brazil head to the polls, Sunday, in an election that could reshape the political landscape of South America. Polls show the current frontrunner is the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army officer who has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. Bolsonaro has a long history of making racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments. He has encouraged police to kill suspected drug dealers. Most polls show Bolsonaro winning on Sunday, but failing to win enough votes to avoid a runoff election on October 28. He has risen to the polls since September 8 when he was stabbed while campaigning. Bolsonaro also directly benefited from the jailing of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in April, who had been leading all presidential polls. Lula remains in jail on what many consider trumped up corruption charges to prevent him from becoming president. Lula, the head of the Workers Party, was then forced to drop out of the race. Lula’s handpick successor Fernando Haddad is currently placing second in most polls. On Saturday, tens of thousands took part in women-led rallies in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and other cities, on Saturday, to protest Bolsonaro. The theme of the protest, “Not Him.”

PROTESTER: May name is [indiscernable] and I’m here because Bolsonaro is dangerous. He represents hatred for our country, because he represents the loss of the few rights that the people that he targets such as the black people, the indigenous people, and the LGBT community, and women have conquered, so far. He represents a threat to democracy in our country, a democracy that we are still building.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us in Rio de Janeiro is the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who co-founded The Intercept. Glenn, welcom back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of what is happening right now in Brazil, and particularly on Sunday, the election?

GLENN GREENWALD: To begin with, the significance is that Brazil is a country of 210 million people, so it’s the fifth most populous country in the world right behind the United States, the second largest in the hemisphere, and the most influential in all of Latin America. It’s also the seventh-largest economy in the world with major oil reserves. And what the Western media has often been doing and talking about Bolsonaro is calling him Brazil’s Trump, which drastically and radically understates the case. He is much closer to, say, Duterte in the Philippines, or even General El-sisi in Egypt, both in terms of what he intends to do and wants to do, and what he is able to do, given the fragility of Brazil, which is an extremely young democracy that exited a military dictatorship only thirty three years ago and therefore doesn’t have the same kind of institutions to limit what someone would want to do the way, say, the United States or the UK would. So, it’s an extremely dangerous moment for this country. Polls do show that he’s unlikely to win in the first round on Sunday, but there is a possibility that he might. That he could actaully just get 50% of the vote and avoid a runoff entirely. But, even if he does make the runoff, the signs are really showing that he is likely to win against Lula’s hand-picked successor because of how much animus has been built up by the media and the business class toward PT in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk more about just exactly what Bolsonaro represents, his homophobic comments, his anti-women comments, his support of the Brazilian military dictatorship?

GLENN GREENWALD: And you can go through the whole list of shocking comments. He once said in an interview that he would rather to hear that his son died in a car accident than here that his son is gay. He told a colleague in the lower house of Congress where he served for 30 years, when she accused him of defending torture and rape — which he did during the dictatorship — that she need not worry because in his words, she didn’t deserve to be raped by him, meaning that she was too ugly to deserve and merit his rape. There’s a whole slew of comments like that about black people, about the indigenous. But, the much more worrying aspects are not these kind of comments, but the policies that he has explicitly endorsed. His model for how he wants to deal with crime are the world’s worst dictators. People like Pinochet. He’s advocated that we do things like in the Philippines where we just in the military and police to just indiscriminately slaughter whatever, whoever they think is a drug dealer or a criminal without trials. He believes in military rule. He doesn’t regard the military coup of 1964 and the 21 year resulting military dictatorship as a coup or as a dictatorship. He regards it as something noble and he wants to replicate it. And he has the entire top level of the Brazilian military supporting him and behind him.

So, you really don’t have institutions the way you do in the US like a strong Supreme Court or a kind of deep state of the CIA and the FBI or political parties that would constrain him in what he wants to do. And especially given how much popular support there is now behind him, there’s a substantial part of the country that is genuinely terrified about what he intends to do and intends to do rather quickly and probably can do, namely, bringing back the worst abuses of the kinds of dictatorships that summarily executed dissidents, that shut down media outlets, that close congresses that we thought was a thing of the past here in Latin America, but now is on the verge of returning to its most important and largest country.

AMY GOODMAN: Last month, the world renowned dissident, linguist, Noam Chomsky met with Brazil’s imprisoned former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his visit coming shortly after Lula officially pulled out of the presidential race. Speaking outside the prison after a visit, Noam Chomsky condemned the right-wing media in Brazil.

NOAM CHOMSKY: — just had the great privilege of spending an hour with Lula. And one of the points that he emphasized was that during his entire tenure in office, there was just a constant flood of attacks from all the media. Constant. Thousands of attacks from every direction, which of course, confuses and undermines public opinion. So, the answer to your question is, something is needed to counter the concentrated power of right-wing media, which particularly in Latin America, just overwhelms everything.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Noam Chomsky. Glenn Greenwald, couple questions about that. How is the media allowed to cover Noam Chomsky visiting Lula in prison, and also the significance of what’s happened to Lula and then who the person, the handpicked successor to Lula is?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I met with Noam Chomsky after that meeting in São Paulo, and we talked a lot about the dynamics brought up to this point. This brought us to this point. The dynamics that have brought us to this point. And one of the things that we focused most on during our discussion was the fact that the dynamic is so similar to what’s happening in the US, the UK, and in Western Europe where you see the spread of extremism and this rise of right-wing fanaticism. And the media outlets and the establishment factions that have laid the groundwork for its rise refuse to take any responsibility. And that’s definitely the case here in Brazil, where a very oligarchiacal media is in the hands of a small number of very rich families, and has sewn these seeds and has kind of created the climate in which Bolsonaro’s victory is possible. Even to this very minute, even though these journalists are, themselves, afraid of a Bolsonaro win and are not supporting him, they, nonetheless, continue to endorse this narrative, that is the biggest asset for Bolsonaro, which is the idea that PT, the Workers Party and Bolsonaro are just opposite sides of the same coin. You have left dictatorship or right wing dictatorship and both are equally bad. PT ran this country for 14 years, and whatever else you might want to say about whatever mistakes they made, you certainly had a very free and open press that constantly attacked it. They impeached one of their presidents and put the other one in prison.

So, the idea that it’s a dictatorship on par with what Bolsonaro wants to do is grotesque, but, it’s the sort of thing that is normalizing Bolsonaro. And the thing that he has done, Bolsonaro, that is probably the smartest, is he has chosen as his kind of economic guru, the person he said he was going to put in charge of the economy, a kind of classic, right-wing University of Chicago, neoliberal economist that the international market and the oligarchical class absolutely adores. And so it’s kind of neutralized what otherwise would have bee the opposition to them. And what they’ve done to Lula, not just putting him in prison when he was leading the polls, but since then, what they have done is they’ve banned all media outlets from even being able to interview Lula. We’ve tried. Others have tried. There’s a prior restraint order on the part of the Supreme Court to prevent Lula from being able to speak out at this crucial moment. It’s not enough just to put him in prison to stop him from running when people wanted him to be president, they’ve silenced him through censorship orders that apply not just to him, but to all of us in the media. And so Brazilian institutions, the Brazilian establishment bears a lot of blame, just like US institutions do for the rise of Trump, British institutions do for Brexit, and just the general globalization policies of Europe does for the rise of right-wing extremism and that part of the world as well.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to former Brazilian President or the former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, himself, front runner until he was jailed. I spoke to him right before he went to jail, and he was talking about the presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] He is a member of the federal Congress. He was a Army captain in the Brazilian Army. The information that we have is he was expelled from the Brazilian Army. And he is — his behavior is far right-wing fascist. He is very much prejudiced against women, against blacks, against indigenous persons, against human rights. He believes that everything can be resolved with violence. So, I don’t think he has a future in Brazilian politics. He has the right to run. He speaks. He projects a certain image to please a part of the society that is of the extreme right. But I don’t believe that the Brazilian people have an interest in electing someone with his sort of behavior to serve as president of the Republic.

AMY GOODMAN: You think he was happy with Marielle’s death?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I think so because he is preaching violence every day. He preaches violence. He believes that those who defend human rights are doing a disservice to democracy. He thinks that those who defend women’s rights are doing a disservice to democracy, likewise those who defend the rights of the black community. He is against everything that is discussed when one is talking about human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva speaking in March onDemocracy Now! for the hour. You can check it out at democracynow.org. At the end he was talking about the assasination of Rio city councilwoman Marielle Franco. Your comments on what he said, as we begin to wrap up, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I mean just the last part about the assassination of Marielle Franco, which I’ve spoken on your show about before. Just to give you a sense of what the climate is like here, just this week, two candidates from Bolsonaro’s party, including, one of whom is running for Congress and ran as the vice mayoral candidate of Bolsonaro’s son who ran for Mayor of Rio four years ago, took a street sign in commemoration of Marielle Franco and broke it in half and wearing shirts that had pistols on them pointed directly at the camera, displayed it proudly for the camera. And then the last line of the post on social media that they wrote to accompany the photo was, “for you scumbag leftists. When we take over, your days are numbered.” Exactly as Lula said, the climate is one of violence. Bolsonaro’s signature gestures for his campaign is to put his fingers in the position of a pistol. They want to use violence to solve political problems here. They are very explicit and open about that. But unfortunately, everybody who has been in charge of Brazilian society, including PT including the establishment, needs to also ask itself what it has done to make this country lose so much hope and faith that it’s willing to abandon democracy and turn to a demagogue and an extremist like Bolsonaro. That’s the key question that I think needs to be asked if he does end up winning.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn, we’re going to do part two of this discussion and post it online at democracynow.org on a number of issues. But, in this last minute, you are a constitutional lawyer. Your thoughts as you look north to the United States, you are an American citizen, on the nomination and possible confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, in just 30 seconds, if you can.

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I do think there are real due process questions when it comes to accusations about somebody that we ought to take very seriously. At the same time, there’s a lot of credible evidence. And I think even more important, the behavior that he displayed and the very partisan messages that he has been delivering his whole life and at that hearing make it impossible to imagine him on the Supreme Court in a way that could be — have that institution be a credible, apolitical body. I think that’s the real overarching issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Glenn for being with us. Again we will do part two and talk about a number of issues including President Trump and Vice President Pence’s attacks on China, saying they are the real threats to the midterm elections. The indictment of Russian hackers, as well as more on Judge Kavanaugh and what’s happening in the world today. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Also, you can go to democracynow.org for our hour with Lula, who is now in prison in Brazil. That does it for our show.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Glenn Greenwald on the Possible Election of a Far-Right Demagogue in Brazil

How Saudi Money Keeps Washington at War in Yemen

NOVANEWS

It was May 2017. The Saudis were growing increasingly nervous. For more than two years they had been relying heavily on US military support and bombs to defeat Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now, the Senate was considering a bipartisan resolution to cut off military aid and halt a big sale of American-made bombs to Saudi Arabia. Fortunately for them, despite mounting evidence that the US-backed, supplied, and fueled air campaign in Yemen was targeting civilians, the Saudi government turned out to have just the weapon needed to keep those bombs and other kinds of aid coming their way: an army of lobbyists.

That year, their forces in Washington included members of more than two dozen lobbying and public relations firms. Key among them was Marc Lampkin, managing partner of the Washington office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (BHFS), a company that would be paid nearly half a million dollars by the Saudi government in 2017. Records from the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) show that Lampkin contacted Senate offices more than 20 times about that resolution, speaking, for instance, with the legislative director for Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) on May 16, 2017. Perhaps coincidentally, Lampkin reported making a $2,000 contribution to the senator’s political action committee that very day. On June 13th, along with a majority of his fellow senators, Scott voted to allow the Saudis to get their bombs. A year later, the type of bomb authorized in that sale has reportedly been used in air strikes that have killed civilians in Yemen.

Little wonder that, for this and his other lobbying work, Lampkin earned a spot on the “Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns” list compiled by the Washington publication the Hill.

Lampkin’s story was anything but exceptional when it comes to lobbyists working on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was, in fact, very much the norm. The Saudi government has hired lobbyists in profusion and they, in turn, have effectively helped convince members of Congress and the president to ignore blatant human rights violations and civilian casualties in Yemen. According to a forthcoming report by the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative program, which I direct, at the Center for International Policy, registered foreign agents working on behalf of interests in Saudi Arabia contacted Congressional representatives, the White House, the media, and figures at influential think tanks more than 2,500 times in 2017 alone. In the process, they also managed to contribute nearly $400,000 to the political coffers of senators and House members as they urged them to support the Saudis. Some of those contributions, like Lampkin’s, were given on the same day the requests were made to support those arms sales.

The role of Marc Lampkin is just a tiny sub-plot in the expansive and ongoing story of Saudi money in Washington. Think of it as a striking tale of pay-to-play politics that will undoubtedly be revving up again in the coming weeks as the Saudi lobby works to block new Congressional efforts to end US involvement in the disastrous war in Yemen.

A Lobby to Contend With

The roots of that lobby’s rise to prominence in Washington lie in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As you may remember, with 15 of those 19 suicidal hijackers being citizens of Saudi Arabia, it was hardly surprising that American public opinion had soured on the Kingdom. In response, the worried Saudi royals spent around $100 million over the next decade to improve such public perceptions and retain their influence in the US capital. That lobbying facelift proved a success until, in 2015, relations soured with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. Once Donald Trump won the presidency, however, the Saudis saw an unparalleled opportunity and launched the equivalent of a full-court press, an aggressive campaign to woo the newly elected president and the Republican-led Congress, which, of course, cost real money.

As a result, the growth of Saudi lobbying operations would prove extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

This meteoric rise in spending allowed the Saudis to dramatically increase the number of lobbyists representing their interests on both sides of the aisle. Before President Trump even took office, the Saudi government signed a deal with the McKeon Group, a lobbying firm headed by Howard “Buck” McKeon, the recently retired Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. His firm also represents Lockheed Martin, one of the top providers of military equipment to the Kingdom. On the Democratic side, the Saudis inked a $140,000-per-monthdealwith the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta, whose brother John, a long-time Democratic Party operative, was the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Tony Podesta later dissolved his firm and has allegedly been investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for serving as an unregistered foreign agent.

And keep in mind that all this new firepower was added to an already formidable arsenal of lobbying outfits and influential power brokers, including former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who, according to Lee Fang of the Intercept, was “deeply involved in the [Trump] White House hiring process,” and former Senator Norm Colemanchairman of the pro-Republican Super PAC American Action Network. All told, during 2017, Saudi Arabia inked 45 different contractswith FARA-registered firms and more than 100 individuals registered as Saudi foreign agents in the US They proved to be extremely busy. Such activity reveals a clear pattern: Saudi foreign agents are working tirelessly to shape perceptions of that country, its royals, its policies, and especially its grim war in Yemen, while simultaneously working to keep US weapons and military support flowing into the Kingdom.

While the term “foreign agent” is often used as a synonym for lobbyist, part of the work performed by the Kingdom’s paid representatives here resembles public relations activity far more than straightforward lobbying. For example, in 2017, Saudi foreign agents reported contacting media outlets more than 500 times, including significant outreach to national ones like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and PBS, which has aired multiple documentaries about the Kingdom. Also included, however, were smaller papers like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and more specialized outlets, even ESPN, in hopes of encouraging positive stories.

The Kingdom’s image in the US clearly concerned those agents. Still, the lion’s share of their activity was focused on security issues of importance to that country’s royals. For example, Saudi agents contacted officials at the State Department, which oversees most commercial arms transfers and sales, nearly 100 times in 2017, according to FARA filings. Above all, however, their focus was on Congress, especially members with seniority on key committees. As a result, at some point between late 2016 and the end of 2017, Saudi lobbyists contacted more than 200 of them, including every single Senator.

The ones most often dealt with were, not surprisingly, those with the greatest leverage over US relations with Saudi Arabia. For example, the office of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sits on both the appropriations and armed services committees, was the most contacted, while that of Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was the top Democratic one. (He sits on the appropriations and foreign relations committees.)

Following the Money From Saudi Arabia to Campaign Coffers

Just as there’s a clear pattern when it comes to contacting congressional representatives who might help their Saudi clients, so there’s a clear pattern to the lobbying money flowing to those same members of Congress.

The FARA documents that record all foreign-agent political activity also list campaign contributions reported by those agents. Just as we did for political activities, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative program conducted an analysis of all campaign contributions reported in those 2017 filings by firms that represented Saudi interests. And here’s what we found: more than a third of the members of Congress contacted by such a firm also received a campaign contribution from a foreign agent at that firm. In total, according to their 2017 FARA filings, foreign agents at firms representing Saudi clients made $390,496 in campaign contributions to congressional figures they, or another agent at their firm, contacted on behalf of their Saudi clients.

This flow of money is best exemplified by the 11 separate occasions we uncovered in which a firm reported contacting a congressional representative on behalf of Saudi clients on the same day someone at the same firm made a campaign contribution to the same senator or House member. In other words, there are 10 other cases just like Marc Lampkin’s, involving foreign agents at Squire Patton Boggs, DLA Piper, and Hogan Lovells. For instance, Hogan Lovells reported meeting with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia on April 26, 2017, and that day an agent at the firm made a $2,700 contribution to “Bob Corker for Senate 2018.” (Corker would later decide not to seek reelection.)

While some might argue that contributions like these look a lot like bribery, they turn out to be perfectly legal. No law bars such an act, and while it’s true that foreign nationals and foreign governments areprohibited from making contributions to political campaigns, there’s a simple work-around for that, one the Saudis obviously made use of big time. Any foreign power hoping to line the pockets of American politicians just has to hire a local lobbyist to do it for them.

As Jimmy Williams, a former lobbyist, wrote: “Today, most lobbyists are engaged in a system of bribery, but it’s the legal kind.”

The Saudi Lobby Today

Fast forward to late 2018 and that very same lobby is now fighting vigorously to defeat a House measure that would end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen. They’re flooding congressional offices with their requests, in effect asking Congress to ignore the more than 10,000 civilians who have died in Yemen, the US bombs that have been the cause of many of those deaths, and a civil war that has led to a resurgence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. They’ll probably mention Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent “certification” that the Saudis are now supposedly taking the necessary steps to prevent more civilian casualties there.

What they’re not likely to mention is that his decision was reportedlydriven by the head of the legislative affairs team at the State Department who just happens to be a former foreign agent with BGR Government Affairs, one of 35 FARA registrants working for Saudi Arabia at this moment. Such lobbyists and publicists are using the deep pockets of the Saudi royals to spread their propaganda, highlighting the charitable work that government is doing in Yemen. What they fail to emphasize, of course, are the Saudi blockade of the country and the American-backed, armed, and fueled air strikes that are killing civilians at weddings,funeralsschool bus trips, and other civilian events. All of this is, in addition, helping to create a grotesque famine, a potential disaster of the most extreme sort and the very reason such humanitarian assistance is needed.

In the end, even if the facts aren’t on their side, the dollars are. Since September 2001, that reality has proven remarkably convincing in Washington, as copious dollars flowed from Saudi Arabia to US military contractors (who are making billions selling weapons to that country), to lobbying firms, and via those firms directly into Congressional coffers.

Is this really how US foreign policy should be determined?

Posted in USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on How Saudi Money Keeps Washington at War in Yemen

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