Archive | November 21st, 2019

Anti-Corbyn Propaganda on Full Blast as UK Election Nears

By Johanna Ross

With less than a month to go before the UK general election, all efforts are being made by political parties to further their agendas. Naturally each side is launching attacks on the other, but perhaps the most virulent campaign is that of the Conservatives towards Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Their malicious accusations, particularly regarding allegations of widespread anti-semitism in the Labour party, which are without any proper foundation, have been propagated more or less since Corbyn came to power.

The anti-Corbyn propaganda reached its peak last week with an article in The Guardian entitled: “Concerns about anti-semitism mean we cannot vote Labour”. Signed by 24 ‘celebrities’, the piece stated that Jeremy Corbyn was

‘steeped in association with anti-semitism’ and that the opposition leader had ‘a long history of embracing antisemites as colleagues’.

And yet a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into antisemitism in the UK in 2016 found

“no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party”.

Furthermore, Labour’s own investigation the same year ruled that the party was not “overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism”. Some party members did resign over matter – but this equated to as little as 0.08% of the membership – hardly a widespread issue it seems.

We therefore have to ask ourselves, why is it that we, the British people, are constantly being bombarded with information that the Labour party, and leader Jeremy Corbyn himself is anti-semitic? One can only deduce that it is pure propaganda being promoted by the Conservative party, because the fact is, there is very little to attack the Labour leader on. His policies genuinely have the potential to become extremely popular with the electorate, some of which are truly revolutionary and would nourish what is a nation starved of welfare provision after years of Tory austerity. Free broadband internet for all, raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour, nationalising public services – including rail, bus and Royal Mail – and creating a state-run pharmaceutical organisation: what is not to like? Britain is now a society steeped in injustice, with record levels of poverty and homelessness and despite Johnson’s attempt to compete with Corbyn on welfare with talk of also raising the minimum wage, he simply can’t undo the years of Tory austerity and the damage it has done to the lives of millions of ordinary working Brits.Anti-semitism Is Cover for a Much Deeper Divide in Britain’s Labour Party

Yet the Tory propaganda machine is on full blast. On Wednesday, after the ITV leaders’ debate where Corbyn and Johnson went head to head, it emerged that the Conservative press office twitter account was changed to the title ‘factcheckUK’ during the course of their exchange. The fact that it was temporarily changed during the one-hour programme was clearly an attempt to mislead the public into thinking that this was an unbiased, impartial media outlet offering commentary on the Labour leader’s performance. It’s video entitled: ‘factcheckUK verdict: Boris Johnson is winner of the leader’s debate’ demonstrates a clear aim to deceive the public.

But we should not be surprised that a Johnson government is prepared to go to such lengths to mislead and dupe the electorate. Under the current Prime Minister’s leadership, such deception is an everyday occurrence it seems, to the extent that one of the questions put to Johnson at the debate on Tuesday night was about ‘trust’ and whether indeed he could be trusted. The PM has been caught out lying, whether consciously or not, on so many occasions, and was engaged in this even before he took office. In the run up to the EU referendum he was one of many claiming that the UK would save around £350 million a year by leaving the EU.

It is easy to lose count of the number of times he has lied since becoming PM. He said the Conservatives were building 40 new hospitals – this has been shown to be untrue. He keeps repeating that there will be 20,000 new police officers to tackle crime; misleading considering his party have taken 21,000 police officers off the streets in recent years. His propensity to be untruthful does not go unnoticed, and frequently makes headlines: ‘For nine extraordinary minutes, Boris Johnson stood next to his bus and lied and lied and lied without stopping’ and ‘PM Makes String of False Claims in BBC Interview’. And it’s a sad state of affairs when you almost except the Prime Minister not to tell the truth: ‘Johnson’s Brexit would devastate business; the CBI must be hoping he is lying’, Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian.

And yet propaganda, it seems, works. For despite the woes of ordinary working Brits, they are still prepared to vote Conservative, for one reason or another at the ballot box. Personally, I find it difficult to work out why. One candidate is offering real solutions to the everyday strife facing working people, and another is promoting further uncertainty under Brexit  and a continuation of the status quo when it comes to social provision. And yet people seem to be taken in by the glossy, slick packaging of the Conservative manifesto and Johnson’s buffoonish, amiable personality. ‘He’s one of the boys, isn’t he?’ one Leave voter told Sky News recently. I shuddered in disbelief. One of the boys? How many average blokes in Britain have attended Eton and the Bullingdon Club? And yet people speak about him as if he joins the locals for a pint after work at the pub.

It’s time for people to waken up and smell the coffee come December 12th. For people’s livelihoods are at stake.

Posted in Campaigns, UK0 Comments

U.S. Relations with China Were Just Destroyed, and Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again

By Michael Snyder

Our relationship with China just went from bad to worse, and most Americans don’t even realize that we just witnessed one of the most critical foreign policy decisions of this century. The U.S. Senate just unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019”, and the Chinese are absolutely seething with anger.

Violent protests have been rocking Hong Kong for months, and the Chinese have repeatedly accused the United States of being behind the protests. Whether that is true or not, the U.S. Senate has openly sided with the protesters by passing this bill, and there is no turning back now.

The protesters in Hong Kong have been waving American flags, singing our national anthem and they have made it exceedingly clear that they want independence from China. And all of us should certainly be able to understand why they would want that, because China is a deeply tyrannical regime. But to the Chinese government, this move by the U.S. Senate is essentially an assault on China itself. They are going to argue that the U.S. is inciting a revolution in Hong Kong, and after what the Senate has just done it will be very difficult to claim that is not true.

The Chinese take matters of internal security very seriously, and the status of Hong Kong is one of those issues that they are super sensitive about. China will never, ever compromise when it comes to Hong Kong, and if the U.S. keeps pushing this issue it could literally take us to the brink of a military conflict.

And you can forget about a comprehensive trade agreement ever happening. Even if a Democrat is elected in 2020, that Democrat is going to back what the Senate just did. That is why it was such a major deal that this bill passed by unanimous consent. It sent a message to the Chinese that Republicans and Democrats are united on this issue and that the next election is not going to change anything.

And the trade deal that President Trump was trying to put together was already on exceedingly shaky ground. “Phase one” was extremely limited, nothing was ever put in writing, and nothing was ever signed. And in recent days it became quite clear that both sides couldn’t even agree about what “phase one” was supposed to cover

A spokesperson for China’s Commerce Ministry said earlier this month that both countries had agreed to cancel some existing tariffs simultaneously. Trump later said that he had not agreed to scrap the tariffs, lowering hopes for a deal.

“They’d like to have a rollback. I haven’t agreed to anything,” the president said.

On Tuesday, Trump was visibly frustrated by how things are going with China, and he publicly warned the Chinese that he could soon “raise the tariffs even higher”House and Senate Unanimously Support Destabilizing China

President Donald Trump threatened higher tariffs on Chinese goods if that country does not make a deal on trade.

The comments came during a meeting with the president’s Cabinet on Tuesday. The U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, have been locked in an apparent stalemate in trade negotiations that have lasted nearly two years.

“If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher,” Trump said in the meeting.

Unfortunately, raising tariffs isn’t going to fix anything at this point.

In fact, Trump can raise tariffs until the cows come home but it isn’t going to cause the Chinese to budge.

That is because on Tuesday evening everything changed.

When they passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019” by unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate essentially doused our relationship with China with kerosene and set it on fire. The following comes from Zero Hedge

In a widely anticipated move, just after 6pm ET on Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill, S.1838, showing support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by requiring an annual review of whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify its special trading status. In doing so, the Senate has delivered a warning to China against a violent suppression of the demonstrations, a stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s near-silence on the issue, the result of a behind the scenes agreement whereby China would allow the S&P to rise indefinitely as long as Trump kept his mouth shut.

As we reported last week, the vote marks the most aggressively diplomatic challenge to the government in Beijing just as the US and China seek to close the “Phase 1” of their agreement to end their trade war. The Senate measure would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to assess the extent to which China has chipped away the city’s autonomy; in light of recent events, Hong Kong would not pass. It’s unclear what would happen next.

I am finding it difficult to find the words to describe what this means to the Chinese.

We have deeply insulted their national honor, and our relationship with them will never be the same again.

Many will debate whether standing up to China on this issue was the right thing to do, but in this article I am trying to get you to understand that there will be severe consequences for what the U.S. Senate just did.

There isn’t going to be a comprehensive trade deal, the global economy is going to suffer greatly, and the Chinese now consider us to be their primary global adversary.

Shortly after the Senate passed the bill, a strongly worded statement was released by the Chinese government. The following excerpt comes from the first two paragraphs of that statement

On November 19th, the US Senate passed the “Hong Kong Bill of Rights on Human Rights and Democracy.” The bill disregards the facts, confuses right and wrong, violates the axioms, plays with double standards, openly intervenes in Hong Kong affairs, interferes in China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates the basic norms of international law and international relations. The Chinese side strongly condemns and resolutely opposes this.

In the past five months, the persistent violent criminal acts in Hong Kong have seriously jeopardized the safety of the public’s life and property, seriously trampled on the rule of law and social order, seriously undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and seriously challenged the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” principle. At present, what Hong Kong faces is not the so-called human rights and democracy issues, but the issue of ending the storms, maintaining the rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible. The Chinese central government will continue to firmly support the Hong Kong SAR Government in its administration of the law, firmly support the Hong Kong police in law enforcement, and firmly support the Hong Kong Judiciary in punishing violent criminals in accordance with the law, protecting the lives and property of Hong Kong residents and maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

For a long time I have been warning that U.S. relations with China would greatly deteriorate, and this is the biggest blow that we have seen yet.

The U.S. and China are now enemies, and ultimately that is going to result in a tremendous amount of pain for the entire planet.

Posted in USA, China0 Comments

Nazi regime Conducts Wide-scale Strikes on Syria ‘Video’

By South Front

On November 20, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that they had carried out “wide-scale strikes” on the “Iranian Quds Force” and the Syrian Armed Forces in Syria. The IDF claimed that the strikes were carried out in response to 4 rockets, which were reportedly launched from Syria at targets in northern Israel on November 19. The IDF’s Iron Dome intercepted these rockets over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Commenting on the November 20 attack, the IDF claimed that it destroyed “a number” of Syrian air defense batteries because they did not refrain from responding to Israeli strikes. The IDF provided almost no details regarding the impact of its attack. However, photos and videos of the ground show that it successfully hit civilian buildings in southwest and west of Damascus. At least 2 civilians were killed and several others were injured.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its Turkish-backed allies repelled an attack by the Syrian Army on the town of Misherfah in southern Idlib. According to pro-militant sources, the army suffered “notable casualties”. However, no precise number was provided. The army attack on Misherfah demonstrates that government forces are not going to halt their anti-terrorist efforts in the area.Video Player00:0002:14

On November 19, Asayish, a security force, of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), apologized for the ‘unfortunate incident’ with a Russian patrol in northeastern Syria. To be clear, this ‘unfortunate incident’ was an attempt by SDF supporters to burn a Russian vehicle with petrol bombs.

According to the Asayish statement, the group will work to prevent further attacks on Russian personnel in the region from Kurdish ‘activists’. The statement followed remarks by the Turkish foreign minister that Ankara is not satisfied with the implementation of the safe zone agreement and is ready to resume its offensive in northeastern Syria.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Syria0 Comments

The Globalization of War and the Global Economic Crisis. Is There a Relationship?

By Global Research

Professor Chossudovsky’s most recent book describes America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 reality whereby the U.S.-NATO military machine —coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world. The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

There is an intimate relationship between the Globalization of War and the Economic Crisis.  This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history. It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

Michel Chossudovsky views “economic conquest” as an integral part of the US military agenda. The US military and intelligence apparatus consults with Wall Street and the Texas oil conglomerates. Conversely the IMF and the World Bank are in permanent liaison with the Pentagon and the US State Department.

The Globalization of War, by Michel Chossudovsky

America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO military machine —coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world. The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history.

It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The ultimate objective is World conquest under the cloak of “human rights” and “Western democracy”.


The Globalization of War and the Global Economic Crisis. Is there a Relationship?The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity, Michel Chossudovsky

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0

Year: 2015

Pages: 240 pages with complete index

Global Research Price: US* $15.00 + shipping & handling
(List price: US $24.95)

CLICK TO ORDER

Also available in PDF format: CLICK HERE

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Rethinking National Security: CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress?

By Philip Giraldi

The developing story about how the US intelligence and national security agencies may have conspired to influence and possibly even reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election is compelling, even if one is disinclined to believe that such a plot would be possible to execute. Not surprisingly perhaps there have been considerable introspection among former and current officials who have worked in those and related government positions, many of whom would agree that there is urgent need for a considerable restructuring and reining in of the 17 government agencies that have some intelligence or law enforcement function. Most would also agree that much of the real damage that has been done has been the result of the unending global war on terror launched by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, which has showered the agencies with resources and money while also politicizing their leadership and freeing them from restraints on their behavior.

If the tens of billions of dollars lavished on the intelligence community together with a “gloves off” approach towards oversight that allowed them to run wild had produced good results, it might be possible to argue that it was all worth it. But the fact is that intelligence gathering has always been a bad investment even if it is demonstrably worse at the present. One might argue that the CIA’s notorious Soviet Estimate prolonged the Cold War and that the failure to connect dots and pay attention to what junior officers were observing allowed 9/11 to happen. And then there was the empowerment of al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war followed by failure to penetrate the group once it began to carry out operations.

More recently there have been Guantanamo, torture in black prisons, renditions of terror suspects to be tortured elsewhere, killing of US citizens by drone, turning Libya into a failed state and terrorist haven, arming militants in Syria, and, of course, the Iraqi alleged WMDs, the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. And the bad stuff happened in bipartisan fashion, under Democrats and Republicans, with both neocons and liberal interventionists all playing leading roles. The only one punished for the war crimes was former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed some of what was going on.

Colonel Pat Lang, a colleague and friend who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency HUMINT (human intelligence) program after years spent on the ground in special ops and foreign liaison, thinks that strong medicine is needed and has initiated a discussion based on the premise that the FBI and CIA are dysfunctional relics that should be dismantled, as he puts it “burned to the ground,” so that the federal government can start over again and come up with something better.

Lang cites numerous examples of “incompetence and malfeasance in the leadership of the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” to include the examples cited above plus the failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, he cites his personal observation of efforts by the Department of Justice and the FBI to corruptly “frame” people tried in federal courts on national security issues as well as the intelligence/law enforcement community conspiracy to “get Trump.”

Colonel Lang asks

“Tell me, pilgrims, why should we put up with such nonsense? Why should we pay the leaders of these agencies for the privilege of having them abuse us? We are free men and women. Let us send these swine to their just deserts in a world where they have to work hard for whatever money they earn.”

He then recommends stripping CIA of its responsibility for being the lead agency in spying as well as in covert action, which is a legacy of the Cold War and the area in which it has demonstrated a particular incompetence. As for the FBI, it was created by J. Edgar Hoover to maintain dossiers on politicians and it is time that it be replaced by a body that operates in a fashion “more reflective of our collective nation[al] values.”

Others in the intelligence community understandably have different views. Many believe that the FBI and CIA have grown too large and have been asked to do too many things unrelated to national security, so there should be a major reduction-in-force (RIF) followed by the compulsory retirement of senior officers who have become too cozy with and obligated to politicians. The new-CIA should collect information, period, what it was founded to do in 1947, and not meddle in foreign elections or engage in regime change. The FBI should provide only police services that are national in nature and that are not covered by the state and local jurisdictions. And it should operate in as transparent a fashion as possible, not as a national secret police force.

But the fundamental problem may not be with the police and intelligence services themselves. There are a lot of idiots running around loose in Washington. Witness for example the impeachment hearings ludicrous fact free opening statement by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (with my emphasis)

“In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire.”

And the press is no better, note the following excerpt from The New York Times lead editorial on the hearings, including remarks of the two State Department officers who testified, on the following day:

“They came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country, and for whom defending Ukraine against Russian aggression is more important to the national interest than any partisan jockeying…

“At another point, Mr. Taylor said he had been critical of the Obama administration’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other lethal defensive weapons in its fight with Russia, and that he was pleased when the Trump administration agreed to do so

“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the president, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally under constant assault by Russian forces. ‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years…’ Mr. Taylor said.”

Schiff and the Times should get their facts straight. And so should the two American foreign service officers who were clearly seeing the situation only from the Ukrainian perspective, a malady prevalent among US diplomats often described as “going native.” They were pushing a particular agenda, i.e. possible war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine, in furtherance of a US national interest that they fail to define. One of them, George Kenteulogized the Ukrainian militiamen fighting the Russians as the modern day equivalent of the Massachusetts Minutemen in 1776, not exactly a neutral assessment, and also euphemized Washington-provided lethal offensive weapons as “security assistance.”

Another former intelligence community friend Ray McGovern has constructed a time line of developments in Ukraine which demolishes the establishment view on display in Congress relating to the alleged Russian threat. First of all, Ukraine was no American ally in 2014 and is no “critical ally” today. Also, the Russian reaction to western supported rioting in Kiev, a vital interest, only came about after the United States spent $5 billion destabilizing and then replacing the pro-Kremlin government. Since that time Moscow has resumed control of the Crimea, which is historically part of Russia, and is active in the Donbas region which has a largely Russian population.

It should really be quite simple. The national security state should actually be engaged in national security. Its size and budget should be commensurate with what it actually does, nothing more. It should not be roaming the world looking for trouble and should instead only respond to actual threats. And it should operate with oversight. If Congress is afraid to do it, set up a separate body that is non-partisan and actually has the teeth to do the job. If the United States of America comes out of the process as something like a normal nation the entire world will be a much happier place.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Lawsuit Launched to Save 274 Species From Extinction Crisis

Wolverines, Moose, Bats, Turtles, ‘Jumping’ Slugs Among Hundreds Waiting for Lifesaving Protections

By Center For Biological Diversity

In one of the largest lawsuits ever launched under the Endangered Species Act, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to decide whether 274 imperiled animals and plants across the country should be federally protected. Decisions for these species are years overdue.

Among the species in today’s legal filing are wolverines in the Rockies, a “jumping” slug in the Pacific Northwest, moose in the Midwest, a western bumblebee that has declined by 84 percent, Venus flytrap plants in the Carolinas, and a tiny freshwater fish that flips stones with its nose to find food. (A full list is below.)

In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a workplan to address a backlog of more than 500 species awaiting protection decisions, including those in today’s notice, but the Trump administration has kept the agency from completing decisions for dozens of species every year. Today’s notice seeks to ensure that all the remaining species in the workplan that are still awaiting protection get decisions as soon as possible.

American wolverine, courtesy Audrey Magoun USFWS FPWC.JPG

Image: American wolverine, courtesy Audrey Magoun/USFW 

“Scientists around the world are sounding the alarm about the extinction crisis, but the Trump administration can’t be bothered to lift a finger for hundreds of species that are in serious trouble,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Every day protections are delayed is a day that moves these fascinating species closer to extinction.”

Earlier this year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, known as IPBES, warned governments around the world that 1 million species are now at risk of extinction because of human activity. IPBES scientists said that urgent actions are needed to avert mass extinction in the coming decades.

Meanwhile the Trump administration has only protected 19 species under the Endangered Species Act — the lowest of any administration at this point in the presidential term. By comparison, during the Obama administration, 360 species were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under Clinton 523 species were protected, while 232 species were protected under George H.W. Bush, 62 species under George W. Bush, and 254 under Reagan.

“The Trump administration’s hostility toward wildlife is appalling,” said Greenwald. “The Endangered Species Act has saved 99 percent of species under its protection, and it can save these plants and animals too, but only if they get the protection they need.”

The 274 species occur across the lower 48 states and include birds, butterflies, fish, mammals and more. All of the species face serious threats to their survival, ranging from habitat destruction to climate change to disease.

“The extinction crisis is an emergency of epic proportions, and habitat loss is playing a huge role,” Greenwald said. “If we’re going to have any real shot at saving these species, we need to protect more of the land and water in this country that they need to survive.”

Click here to view a table of the 274 species awaiting protection decisions.Animal Rights and Imperiled Species: Trump Administration Delays Lifesaving Protections

Wolverines, Moose, Bats, Turtles, ‘Jumping’ Slugs Among Hundreds Waiting for Lifesaving Protections

By Center For Biological Diversity

In one of the largest lawsuits ever launched under the Endangered Species Act, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to decide whether 274 imperiled animals and plants across the country should be federally protected. Decisions for these species are years overdue.

Among the species in today’s legal filing are wolverines in the Rockies, a “jumping” slug in the Pacific Northwest, moose in the Midwest, a western bumblebee that has declined by 84 percent, Venus flytrap plants in the Carolinas, and a tiny freshwater fish that flips stones with its nose to find food. (A full list is below.)

In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a workplan to address a backlog of more than 500 species awaiting protection decisions, including those in today’s notice, but the Trump administration has kept the agency from completing decisions for dozens of species every year. Today’s notice seeks to ensure that all the remaining species in the workplan that are still awaiting protection get decisions as soon as possible.

American wolverine, courtesy Audrey Magoun USFWS FPWC.JPG

Image: American wolverine, courtesy Audrey Magoun/USFW 

“Scientists around the world are sounding the alarm about the extinction crisis, but the Trump administration can’t be bothered to lift a finger for hundreds of species that are in serious trouble,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Every day protections are delayed is a day that moves these fascinating species closer to extinction.”

Earlier this year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, known as IPBES, warned governments around the world that 1 million species are now at risk of extinction because of human activity. IPBES scientists said that urgent actions are needed to avert mass extinction in the coming decades.

Meanwhile the Trump administration has only protected 19 species under the Endangered Species Act — the lowest of any administration at this point in the presidential term. By comparison, during the Obama administration, 360 species were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under Clinton 523 species were protected, while 232 species were protected under George H.W. Bush, 62 species under George W. Bush, and 254 under Reagan.

“The Trump administration’s hostility toward wildlife is appalling,” said Greenwald. “The Endangered Species Act has saved 99 percent of species under its protection, and it can save these plants and animals too, but only if they get the protection they need.”

The 274 species occur across the lower 48 states and include birds, butterflies, fish, mammals and more. All of the species face serious threats to their survival, ranging from habitat destruction to climate change to disease.

“The extinction crisis is an emergency of epic proportions, and habitat loss is playing a huge role,” Greenwald said. “If we’re going to have any real shot at saving these species, we need to protect more of the land and water in this country that they need to survive.”

Click here to view a table of the 274 species awaiting protection decisions

.Animal Rights and Imperiled Species: Trump Administration Delays Lifesaving Protections

Posted in Education, Environment0 Comments

Leaked Memo Shows the U.S. Still Does Not Understand Turkey’s Syria Operation

By Paul Antonopoulos

Syria

An ‘internal memo’ that was intentionally leaked has blasted U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision for the U.S. military to withdraw from Syria, or more accurately, relocate from northern Syria to the oilfields in the east, as well as his complacency as Turkey commits “war crimes and ethnic cleansing” against the Kurdish minority.

The author of the memo, diplomat and former ambassador to Bahrain, William V. Roebuck, took every opportunity to lambast Trump as he faces impeachment 12 months before the next U.S. presidential elections. Roebuck questioned whether the U.S. could have prevented the Turkish military operation in northern Syria by increasing military patrols, sanctions and threats, but conceded that “the answer is probably not,” citing Turkey’s membership in NATO and its large army against the small American presence in the region. “But we won’t know because we didn’t try,” Roebuck added.

The New York Times claims that Roebuck’s memo was delivered to the State Department’s special envoy on Syria, James F. Jeffrey, and to dozens of officials focusing on Syria in the State Department, White House and Pentagon. However, the entirety of the 3,200-word memo failed to mention Ankara’s motivation in conducting this operation.

The Syrian perspective is that this is part of a project for a Greater Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu emphasized in an October interview that Turkey is not interested in territorial expansionism, stating

“Russia is concerned about some sensitive issues, such as territorial integrity and the unity of the country [Syria]. We are also worried. If we look at all the joint statements of Turkey, Russia and Iran, we emphasize it.”

Although it may sound conspiratorial, this statement would have done little to alleviate this fear as Turkey has controlled large swathes of northern Syria since 2016 without any process to negotiate the return of these regions to Syrian government administration. In conjunction, Damascus would also remember the 1939 Turkish annexation of its Hatay province, Turkey’s invasion of neighboring Cyprus in 1974, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invoking an early 20th-century irredentist document that claims northern Syria, northern Iraq, most of Armenia, the entirety of Cyprus, much of Bulgaria and Greece’s northern and eastern Aegean islands as under Turkish sovereignty.

Although territorial expansionism may be a motivating factor for many in the Turkish political and military leadership, it would be a secondary motivating factor. What Roebuck’s memo failed to mention is that Turkey’s Syria policy today is motivated by security concerns.

In an academic article titled “Turkey’s interests in the Syrian war: from neo-Ottomanism to counterinsurgency,” I first made the argument that Turkey’s initial interests in Syria was to expand its influence, and perhaps territory. What was not envisioned by the Turkish leadership was the re-emergence of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Syria, recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, Syria and the U.S., but not by Russia. The PKK in Syria fight under the banner of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who comprise the majority of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).U.S. Sanctions Could Push Turkey to Leave NATO

Washington confusingly recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization, but has directly funded, armed and supported the YPG in Syria. Ankara makes no distinction between the PKK and the YPG, and this has been a primary source of recent hostilities between Turkey and the U.S. Although Syria once supported the PKK against Turkey, it has recognized the group as a terrorist organization since 1998, initially easing the tense relations between Damascus and Ankara, with Erdoğan even describing his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad as his “brother.”

Former Turkish Foreign Minister (2009–2014), Ahmet Davutoglu, adopted a “zero problems with neighbors” policy that saw his country strengthen economic and political ties with the Islamic World by lifting visa restrictions and taking a larger active role in critical Islamic issues like the fallout between the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah groups, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Syria and Israel. However, this new doctrine was taken to the test when the Syrian war began in 2011, with Ankara immediately contradicting the “zero problems with the neighbours” policy by supporting terrorist organizations and getting itself into disputes and hostilities with not only Syria, but also Iraq, Greece, Cyprus and Armenia.

The Arab Spring changed the status quo in the Middle East and provided an opportunity for Turkey to engage in power projections within a new regional order where Ankara would be the center of power. However, what Ankara had not calculated is that by abandoning the “zero problems with neighbors” policy and flooding Syria with tens thousands of terrorists, it was creating the very conditions for the PKK to return to Syria after a more than 20-year hiatus under the guise of protecting Syria’s Kurds.

Essentially, the project for a Greater Turkey has become secondary in the case of Syria, with Ankara’s current focus on what it calls a counterterrorist operation against the PKK/YPG, after they created the very conditions for them to return to Syria. Although Trump has whole teams dedicated to Syria, it appears that Washington refuses to acknowledge Turkey’s security concerns, just as Roebuck’s memo demonstrates.

The rise of the YPG brought questions of Kurdish independence or autonomy in northern Syria, which can also find justification for an autonomous or independent Kurdish state in eastern Turkey as the PKK, militarily and politically, has struggled for decades to achieve this. A Kurdish push for independence or autonomy in northern Syria not only threatens Turkey’s desire to illegally annex this region, but destabilizes Turkey as the Kurds can make a greater push for independence or autonomy in eastern Anatolia.

As Turkey strengthens its relations with Russia, the question remains whether the country will formally leave NATO or not. It is unlikely that the U.S. will push for Turkey’s expulsion from NATO as it has the second largest military in the alliance and occupies one of the most strategic spots on the planet.

Although the U.S. has turned to Greece as its Plan B to contain Russia in the Black Sea in any hypothetical war, Washington would know there is a great possibility that the next general election in Turkey could see Erdoğan out of power and replaced by a more Washington-friendly leader. Not only is Erdoğan’s popularity diminishing because of the economic crisis and his unpopular Syria policy, but the highly popular ex-economy minister Ali Babacan and ex-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have both recently left Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to establish their own respective political parties, which will only further weaken AKP who have lost over 840,000 members in one year alone.

The U.S. would be hoping that by continuing to apply military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Turkey, the tense situation in Turkey will see Erdoğan’s popularity diminish, and the return of a  pro-U.S. leader. The difficult economic situation, the millions of refugees and the increased terror attacks in Turkey can all be directly attributed to Erdoğan’s Syria policy, and the U.S. will continue to use these means to pressure Turkey until it conforms to Washington’s desires and reverse its strengthened ties with Russia.

Many within Washington are unsatisfied with Trump’s Turkey policy and feel that they are not utilizing their advantages to pressure Erdoğan. Roebuck’s memo however appears to be a potential gamechanger as it has critically expressed opposition to Trump’s policy at a formal, and now public, level.

Roebuck publicly revealed that Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria is “spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll” who are committing what can “only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” The same jihadist forces utilized by Turkey are no different to the ones the U.S. supported against Assad, who not only ethnically cleansed Kurds, but also Shi’ites, Alawites, Antiochian Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians.

Roebuck also suggested that the U.S. must maintain relations with Turkey. As Turkey is at a crossroads with its political leadership, Washington knows there is a strong possibility that Erdoğan might not be around by the time the next general election is scheduled in 2023, although it appears likely that these elections will take place years earlier. With Roebuck’s ‘leak,’ it is likely that Trump will start receiving stronger domestic political pressure to deal with Turkey in a much tougher way and continue to make every destabilizing effort to remove Erdoğan and have him replaced with a pro-U.S. leader.

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Middle East, Russia, Syria, Turkey0 Comments

Trump’s New Policy on Jewish illegal Settlements Is Illegal and Self-Serving

By Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Trump’s New Policy on Israeli Settlements Is Illegal and Self-Serving

Thumbing his nose at the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice, Donald Trump decided that Israel’s unlawful construction of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is lawful. This policy change is part of Trump’s pattern of seeking to legalize illegal Israeli practices. It panders to Israel at the expense of the Palestinians while aiming to burnish Trump’s bona fides with his Christian Zionist base. Christian Broadcasting Network quoted Jack Graham, pastor of the megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, as saying that the Trump administration “once again has demonstrated why evangelical Christians have been unwavering in their support.”

“The timing of this was not tied to anything that had to do with domestic politics anywhere in Israel or otherwise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed, denying that the change in policy was designed to benefit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s locked in a tight battle for political survival.

Rabbi Alissa Wise, acting co-executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said,

“It’s hardly a surprise that on the eve of Netanyahu’s indictment and Trump’s impeachment proceedings we suddenly have the Trump administration throwing the Geneva Convention and international consensus out the window and shamelessly pandering to the right-wing and evangelical base.”

Walking in lockstep with Netanyahu, Trump also illegally declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. And three months after he illegally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Netanyahu named a new — and illegal — settlement under construction, “Trump Heights.”

On November 18, Pompeo announced the end of the United States’s 41-year policy of considering Israeli settlements to be unlawful.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo declared.

In 1978, the Carter administration adopted the position detailed in a letter written by State Department Legal Advisor Herbert Hansell. It concluded thatObama Belatedly Says No to Israel

“the establishment of the civilian settlements in [the occupied Palestinian] territories is inconsistent with international law.”

Hansell’s letter cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring “parts of its own civilian population into the territories it occupies.” The letter stated that just because territory comes “under the control of a belligerent occupant,” it “does not thereby become its sovereign territory.”

After the 1967 war, Israeli military forces occupied Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. The narrative that Israel acted in self-defense when it attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria and seized those Palestinian territories is a false one.

Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1967, specifies “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” In 2016, the Council reiterated that language in Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel for the establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. The Resolution says that the building of settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

The United States abstained from Resolution 2334. Barack Obama allowed it to pass by not vetoing it. Just before Trump took office, he tried unsuccessfully to keep the resolution from reaching the Council floor. In addition to pandering to his evangelical base, Trump is reversing still another Obama achievement. Pompeo admitted that the new policy is a rejection of Obama’s failure to veto Resolution 2334.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the “settlements have been established in breach of international law.” The Court cited the Security Council’s characterization of Israel’s policy of establishment of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory as a “flagrant violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court considers an occupying power’s direct or indirect transfer “of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” to be a war crime.

Over 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. About 3 million Palestinians live there.

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, condemned the Trump administration’s “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’” He called on the global community to resist the new U.S. policy.

“Israel’s colonial-settlement enterprise perpetuates the negation of the Palestinian right to self-determination,” Erekat said.

“Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal,” Bernie Sanders tweeted. “This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

Trump has made explicit what has long been implicit: The United States directly enables Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and oppression of the Palestinians. As journalist Ali Abunimah tweeted, the U.S. proclamation that Israeli settlements do not violate international law “is merely a shedding of the fiction that the U.S. has ever opposed Israel’s land-theft colonies. It changes nothing but makes clear to all that the U.S. and Israel are partners in crime.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

The Lebanese Color Revolution Is a Defining Moment for the Resistance

By Andrew Korybko

What originally began as an expression of legitimate outrage at the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption quickly transformed into a Color Revolution aimed at carrying out regime change in Lebanon through the removal of Hezbollah from its government, the threat of which makes this a defining moment for the Resistance because its supporters’ loyalty is being tested to the core.

Lebanon is undoubtedly in the throes of an ongoing Color Revolution that’s already succeeded in securing the resignation of Prime Minister Hariri in response to large-scale protests against the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption, sparked as they were by a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls that served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The unrest has been condemned by two key members of the Resistance, Ayatollah Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who warned against the participants becoming useful idiots in the US, “Israel“, and the GCC’s plot against their homeland. The first-mentioned tweeted that “I recommend those who care in #Iraq and #Lebanon remedy the insecurity and turmoil created in their countries by the U.S., the Zionist regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary countries. The people have justifiable demands, but they should know their demands can only be fulfilled within the legal structure and framework of their country. When the legal structure is disrupted in a country, no action can be carried out”, while the second urged his supporters to stay away from the scene of the disturbances and emphasized how much the government’s fall could destabilize their fragile country.

Nevertheless, the situation still remains unresolved despite Hariri’s resignation, and ever-louder demands have made within Lebanon and through some Alt-Media outlets that Hezbollah should leave the government in order to resolve the crisis. The Resistance group, which functions as a socio-political and military force, had nothing to do with the trigger event that sparked this explosion of unrest, though the very fact that it’s now increasingly being targeted for removal from its elected positions in the government proves that there are forces that had intended for this to be the outcome all along when they encouraged the unfolding of events there. It shouldn’t be forgotten that US Secretary of State Pompeo ominously hinted at an ultimatum being made to Lebanon during his visit there in March when he thundered that “Lebanon faces a choice; bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future”, which strongly suggests that the US at the very least tacitly has a hand in guiding developments to that aforementioned end. What’s so disturbing about the latest narrative twist is that it appears to have the support of a critical mass of protesters, including those who have outwardly supported Hezbollah prior to this moment but evidently harbored deep feelings of antipathy towards it that are only now being publicly expressed through this “anti-corruption” “populist” pretext.

It’s impossible to accurately generalize every one of these supposed Resistance supporters feels this way, though sharing some plausible explanations could nevertheless still help to make sense of this previously unexpected trend. Hezbollah’s military might is appreciated by most patriotic Lebanese after it liberated their country from “Israeli” occupation in 2000 and prevented a second such occupation in 2006, though some look suspiciously upon its social activities because they wrongly interpret them through a sectarian lense. In addition, the group’s involvement in fighting terrorism in Syria side-by-side with the IRGC reinforced the weaponzied fake news perception among some that Hezbollah is just an “Iranian proxy”. These growing doubts about the group’s long-term strategic intentions might not have been able to be publicly expressed in such a direct way without risk of receiving accusations that the person voicing such views is unpatriotic, hence why they may have hitherto been outwardly supportive of Hezbollah despite internally cultivating hatred towards the organization and waiting for the “opportune” moment to express it in a way that couldn’t be as easily framed as part of a self-serving sectarian agenda on their part. That chance arrived when the proposed WhatsApp tax served as the catalyst for large-scale protests against the government as a whole, during which time it became “acceptable” among some to attack Hezbollah for its supposedly “corrupt” alliance with certain political forces.

It should be said at this point that Hezbollah is a responsible stakeholder in Lebanon’s stability and therefore understands the need to make tactical decisions in pursuit of the larger strategic end of preventing external forces from driving wedges between the country’s cosmopolitan socio-religious groups, hence why it’s entered into the certain political partnerships that it’s had out of its interest in working within the legal system to carry out responsible reforms to the best of its ability. These noble intentions have been deliberately misportrayed by those who have wanted to remove Hezbollah from the government for some time already as part of their never-ending campaign to delegitimize it, after which they believe that it’ll become more susceptible to the joint US-“Israeli”-GCC Hybrid War against it. A similar modus operandi is being pursued in nearby Iraq, where Resistance forces also hold considerable sway within the government but are plagued by the same accusations of allying themselves with corrupt figures, which is being used by agenda-driven forces to misportray them as “guilty by association” despite the reason for these tactical partnerships being the same as Hezbollah’s. Even worse, the similar events in both countries are being described by Mainstream Media as a “new Arab Spring“.

There’s no question at this point that legitimate anti-corruption protests have been hijacked for regime change ends aimed at removing Resistance forces from power in those countries, especially since both the Ayatollah and Nasrallah touched upon this in their recent statements on this topic, though there are still those who outwardly profess to support the Resistance’s broader mission but refuse to stop participating in the unrest there. This represents a true moment of reckoning for the Resistance that will ultimately separate its true supporters who have faith in this movement’s leaders from the opportunistically fraudulent ones who betrayed the cause as soon as they “conveniently” saw the “publicly plausible pretext” to do so. It doesn’t help any either that many Alt-Media outlets that used to have Resistance-friendly editorial lines are portraying the protests in a positive light despite the Iranian and Hezbollah leaders warning against the credible risk that they could spiral out of control and end up advancing the strategic goals of the Resistance’s enemies, which further confuses the audience at large who can’t countenance how or why this is happening, preferring instead to put their faith in those media forces instead of the leaders whose movement they had previously professed to support. As the situation remains unresolved, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

How did Jeffrey Feltman read the Lebanese developments?

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Brookings Institution published a study by former US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on the protests in Lebanon, saying that “the protests in Lebanon showed that what was not possible in the past may now be possible.”

“These trends are promising, although they are emerging and fragile, and are largely in line with American interests,” he said.

The study states that:

“Protests in Lebanon have shown that what was previously unthinkable may now be possible. After years of solidarity, Iran’s and Syrian proxies in Lebanon are showing initial signs of divergence. With Shiite demonstrators even taking to the streets and not following the calls of Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to disperse, some cracks appear on Hizbullah’s invincible façade. The Lebanese army and security forces responded with courage, restraint and independence in defiance of Hizbullah leaders’ appeals and appeals. Special Republican Palace to clear the roads. By contrast, with unprecedented public criticism of Hizbullah, popular support for the Lebanese army is growing.

These trends are promising, though emerging and fragile, and largely in line with US interests, but instead of reinforcing them, the White House, in a timely decision at all inappropriately, suspended US $ 105 million in security assistance to the same institutions that defied Hezbollah’s demands. To end demonstrations. The move by the Trump administration to both Damascus and Tehran gives the gift of delivering a unified message to the Lebanese about the unreliability of the United States as a partner.

The move also undermines the argument that the Lebanese army, which has improved capabilities thanks primarily to US support, provides better and more professional security than Hezbollah rockets, which only lead to risks rather than real protection. (Those who say that the Lebanese army is merely a cover for Hezbollah or an aide to Hezbollah underestimate the growing discomfort of army officers, who know to what extent the military’s capabilities have grown thanks to the United States, with Hezbollah’s arrogance and permanent underestimation of the army, and threatening the pride of the Lebanese army. Its capabilities, all linked to years of American support, are from the “narrative” of Hezbollah resistance.)

For years, Iranian and Syrian interests and tactics in Lebanon have generally met. It aims to discredit and divide the so-called “March 14” movement that emerged against Damascus and Tehran after the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and to “resist” US and French efforts to strengthen Lebanese sovereignty and independence and to exploit Lebanon to threaten Israel.

In the meantime, Hizballah has expanded and sometimes dominated its influence in local Lebanese institutions through its 2006 memorandum of understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party. The Free Patriotic Movement gave Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group backed by Iran, the character of transnational national political legitimacy that it had previously lacked. Hezbollah responded by supporting the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) founder Michel Aoun to the presidency three years ago, and since 2006, Aoun and his brother-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, have been credible fronts for Hezbollah’s interests and thus Iran’s interests in Lebanon. Until recently, Aoun and Basil probably saw no contradiction between their alliance with Hezbollah / Iran and Damascus’ interests in Lebanon.

The current demonstrations have the potential to destabilize the foundations of Iranian-Syrian synergies in Lebanon and the relationship between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, and Nasrallah has resorted to hints and motorcyclists in unsuccessful attempts to undermine the demonstrations and prevent the resignation of Saad Hariri’s government. In contrast, some of Syria’s traditional allies in Lebanon, including Suleiman Franjieh, Bashar al-Assad’s childhood friend, remained silent or even sent relatives to join the protests. Jamil al-Sayyed, a well-known former director of public security and one of Syria’s policy enforcers during its control of Lebanon before 2005, issued statements sympathetic to the protesters’ anti-corruption and / or institutional demands.

Moreover, Lebanese political activists saw an indication in the absence of a bilateral meeting between Aoun or Basil with the Syrian delegation on the sidelines of this year’s UN General Assembly. Another example of how Damascus is thought to see Aoun and Basil is reported, as no senior Syrian official attended Aoun’s speech at the UN General Assembly. The value of the Christian character of Hizbullah’s Free Patriotic Movement has plummeted, and Basil is now a preferred target for demonstrators as a symbol of all the ills of Lebanon.

Perhaps Iran and Syria are beginning to look at each other with suspicion in Lebanon. This will not be the first time that external actors have used Lebanon as a venue for competition. Two Lebanese politicians have put forward a theory about what is happening in Syria’s Alawite regions, where Bashar al-Assad may see Iranian influence and Shiite calls as a threat to his secular Alawite base.

Assad, who would have regarded Hezbollah as a small partner in the Syrian occupation of Lebanon before 2005, may also resent the current strength and presence of Hezbollah in Syria. Who is now a small partner? How much control does Assad have over Hezbollah in Syria? Given that Assad still needs the help of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, he can use Lebanon to send a message, according to this theory.

It is now conceivable that if Michel Aoun’s declining health leads to a presidential vacuum now, any Syrian-Iranian divergence will emerge more clearly, with Hezbollah (and Iran) supporting Basil and Syria’s desire to regain its sovereignty in Lebanon through someone like Franjieh. The supposed nomination of Lebanese army chief Joseph Aoun, with his increasing credibility of independence, will be more in line with the desire of the street. But the Lebanese president is elected by parliament, not by the people. As the current Lebanese parliament reflects the very institution that the protesters want to overthrow, one hopes that MPs will reflect on the demonstrators’ views if they are to choose between Damascus, Tehran or their Lebanese voters.

Despite the greatness of the current demonstrations, it is difficult to be positive when leaders do not emerge with cross-sectarian credibility to constructively direct road energy. The economic and financial situation increases the burden. However, the potential for positive change was never forthcoming a few weeks ago. We should not make it easier for pro-Syrian and Iranian forces to overcome any differences and ultimately win over the protests. ”

Jumblatt: I made the decision to formally join the popular movement

Progressive Socialist Party Chairman Walid Jumblatt announced on Tuesday the decision to formally join the popular movement in Lebanon.

Jumblatt added: “If we lose hope in the state, we will enter into chaos.”

Jumblatt’s remarks came after the announcement of the death of Alaa Abu Fakhr, the secretary of the Choueifat Interior Agency in the Progressive Socialist Party, after he was shot under Khalda Bridge.

He said: “There is no refuge for us despite what happened tonight except the state,” adding: “I contacted the army chief and chief of staff and will be investigating the incident.”

President Assad comments on the demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with the channel “Russia 24” and “Russia Sigodnia Agency,” that the demonstrations in neighboring countries, do not resemble what happened in Syria.

Asked if the demonstrations in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan last month were reminiscent of the beginning of events in Syria, Assad said: “What happened in Syria was that at the beginning there was money being paid to groups of people to march. A fraction of the people who came out with the demonstrations because it has goals in changing what the general situation is. ”

He continued: “The shooting and killing started from the first days of the demonstrations, which means it was not spontaneous, as the money was there and the weapon was prepared, and therefore can not be compared between what happened in Syria and the situation of other countries.”

He added: “If the demonstrations that took place in neighboring countries are spontaneous and sincere and express a national desire to improve the political, economic and other conditions in the country, they must remain national, because other countries that interfere in everything in the world such as America and the West, especially Britain and France, do not. This situation must be used to play a role and take things in a way that serves its interests. ”

Assad stressed that “the most important things to remain in the national framework because they will have positive results and because they reflect the people, but when the foreign factor enters, it will be against the interest of the country and this is what we tried in Syria.”

Posted in Lebanon0 Comments

The Worst Is Over for Oil Markets

By Nick Cunningham

Some analysts see the world dodging a recession next year, which provides some upward room for oil prices.

Last week, the IEA warned last week that “the hefty supply cushion” building up in the first half of 2020 will cause OPEC+ problems as the group tries to balance the oil market. Part of the reason for another potential surplus is the steep drop in demand growth this year, forcing oil forecasters to make multiple downward revisions to their projections.

“With consumption growth of just 830 thousand b/d YoY in 2019, global oil demand has easily expanded at the lowest rate since the global financial crisis 10 years ago,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

The slowdown was particularly concentrated in industrial sectors, which have been hit hard by the trade war.

“The manufacturing downturn in 2019 has been so pronounced that we think it could aptly be labeled as the third global industrial recession in the past 10 years, following the activity drops witnessed in 2012 and 2016,” the bank said.

Or, put more succinctly, “The world has just lived through an industrial recession,” Bank of America concluded, and oil prices really only held up because of massive supply outages in 2019. The industrial slowdown spread around the world.

Take India, for example. The “weak picture for the manufacturing and industrial” sectors of the Indian economy continue, JBC Energy said in a note on Monday, which have hit diesel sales.

“The 120,000 b/d (7%) y-o-y contraction was greater than even the demonetization-driven downside from January 2017,” JBC Energy said. “With bitumen sales also low, it appears activity in Indian manufacturing and construction is waning.”

But there are some reasons to think that things could turn around. While a lot still depends on the outcome of the U.S.-China trade war and the “partial deal” that the market still believes is likely, recent streams of data have tamped down fears of a recession.

“Looking into 2020, we expect an improvement in cyclical demand conditions as manufacturing PMIs seem to have stabilized and in some cases appear to be turning positive,” Bank of America said.

Part of the reason for more optimism is that corporations with global supply chains have held back on purchases over the past year, in large part because of the trade war, and have whittled away at inventory. The strategy seemed to be an attempt to wait out tariffs in the hopes of a negotiated breakthrough. That makes sense at the individual company level, but it hit manufacturers hard as sales and activity dropped. However, companies will now have to restock in 2020, Bank of America says. That could help steady the economy.

Meanwhile, if the U.S. and China can indeed agree to a partial trade deal, that would “further help boost industrial activity and confidence in the global economy,” Bank of America said, and “any signs of improvement on the trade front could add upward pressure to cyclical energy and metals prices.” The removal of some tariffs could both push down the dollar and raise commodity prices.

Still, a comprehensive breakthrough in the trade war is going to be extremely difficult, and the two sides have been far apart on the big issues. The partial deal, such as it is, would only suspend tariffs in exchange for China buying large sums of agricultural goods.

But even the partial deal has run into trouble. The Trump administration has hyped a $50 billion purchase from China for U.S. agricultural goods, a figure that some say is “not possible.” So, it’s worth noting that even a very narrow and modest agreement has become a challenging prospect, to say nothing of more structural differences between the two countries.

In short, while the tone has softened and both sides have signaled that negotiations are proceeding to a conclusion, the U.S.-China trade war is far from finished.

In fact, right on cue, doubts began to resurface on Monday. CNBC said that the “mood in Beijing about a trade deal is pessimistic due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s reluctance to roll back tariffs.” Beijing may instead decide to sit and wait, betting that Trump’s standing continues to deteriorate in the face of an impeachment inquiry.

“It looks like this is by no means a done deal,” Matthew Miskin, a market strategist at John Hancock Advisors in Boston, told Bloomberg.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Europe0 Comments


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