Archive | December 17th, 2019

‘Impeach Trump for This’: Video Shows Final Hours of Teen’s Horrible Death in US Immigration Detention Center

byCommon Dreams

Contrary to claims by Border Patrol, “they didn’t take him to the hospital. They didn’t release him. They didn’t even seem to check on him as he was dying on the floor of his cell.”

by: Jon Queally,

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19. By the next morning, he was dead. (Photo: via Facebook)

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19. By the next morning, he was dead. (Photo: via Facebook)

Update (Dec. 9, 2019): Family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez objects to publication of video detailing his death while in U.S. custody.

Following last week’s original publication by ProPublica of the footage described below, the victim’s family voiced its objections to the painful footage being shared online and without prior consent. In a statement issued through a legal advocacy group representing them, the family members said:

It’s been really painful for our family to lose Carlos. We thought that not knowing what happened to him in that cell, whether he was all alone when he died, whether it was preventable, that we don’t know if we can hold the people responsible accountable— that that was the worst grief we could have, but having all these people watching him die on the internet is something we couldn’t have imagined in a movie or a nightmare.

In response to the family’s statement, ProPublica‘s editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg apologized for the pain caused:

We are very sorry to see the statement from the family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez regarding our handling of the video of the circumstances surrounding his death. Before publication, we discussed the video with Carlos’ father and a close family member, describing the contents in detail and why we thought it was important to publish it. The family member asked us to limit the graphic content that was shown, and we made excisions based on his concerns. We apologize to the family for the pain the release of the video has caused them.

We continue, however, to believe that the American people need to see this video in order to understand the actions of their government and what really happened to Carlos.

Ultimately, Engelberg said the decision to publish the video was a “judgement call” and that the “ethical questions surrounding this issue are complex.”

Earlier:

Footage from an immigrant detention center in Texas obtained by Pro Publica and published online Thursday shows the final hours of 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez—who died from complications of the flu while in custody—but also strongly indicates the border patrol agents responsible for his care lied about what happened that night.

“As immigration authorities sat by, a child lay dying from the flu on a slab of concrete in a pool of his own vomit next to a toilet.”
—Jess Morales Rocketto, Families Belong Together

Carlos, according to the news outlet,

was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19.

A few hours earlier, a nurse practitioner at the Border Patrol’s dangerously overcrowded processing center in McAllen had diagnosed him with the flu and measured his fever at 103 degrees. She said that he should be checked again in two hours and taken to the emergency room if his condition worsened.

While a log kept by officers at the McAllen detention center in Texas says that Carlos, born in Guatemala, was given wellness checks three times over the course of four hours during the overnight, the video footage reveals that his seemingly lifeless body remained where it was—on the floor by the cell’s toilet—from approximately 1:30am until Carlos’ cellmate discovers him there after waking up past 6:00am. Notably, while the local police say the obtained the video footage from CBP, it contains a four-hour gap that the CBP has still not explained even as they refuse to hand over or acknowledge the existence of a complete recording of the night.

Pro Publica explained it decided to publish the available portion of the video “because it sheds light on the Border Patrol’s treatment of a sick child and shows the government’s account was not true.”

Eric Umansky@ericuman

A 16-yr-old boy died in Border Patrol custody. He had the flu

They didn’t take him to the hospital
They didn’t release him
They didn’t even seem to check on him as he was dying on the floor of his cell, contrary to the govt’s account

The annotated video—the original of which was obtained from local law enforcement in Texas who investigated the death—details the final hours of Carlos life [warning the footage is graphic]:

Response to the video and accompanying reporting was a mix of a sadness, shock, and outrage.

“As immigration authorities sat by, a child lay dying from the flu on a slab of concrete in a pool of his own vomit next to a toilet,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of the immigration rights group Families Belong Together.

“Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez’s death was preventable,” Rocketto added. “As flu season is upon us, the Trump administration has ignored the CDC’s demands to vaccinate children in their immigration jails.     Three children have died of flu-related illnesses on the Trump administration’s watch in the past year.  We need action immediately to get children the life-saving care they deserve and ensure that no more kids die in cages.”

Rep. Mike Johnson@RepMikeJohnson · Dec 4, 2019

I just obtained unanimous consent to enter this into the record. #shameful #ImpeachmentHearing

View image on Twitter

Alex@AlexMcMackivan

Children are dying in cages at the border. Where’s your outrage for children who are actually being traumatized and abused?! https://www.propublica.org/article/inside-the-cell-where-a-sick-16-year-old-boy-died-in-border-patrol-care …

“Impeach Trump for this,” said another user on Twitter.

As the Pro Publica notes towards the end of its long and detailed reporting on Carlos’ death while in U.S. custody “reverberated beyond the small village of San Jose del Rodeo” from where he came.

“Friends posted video of his funeral and a village wake on social media, with emotional tributes to him,” the outlet reports. “Guatemalan immigrants outside New York City held a fundraiser to help support his family, one of the goals Carlos had in coming to the U.S.”

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Patents, Theft of Intellectual Property (IP), Product Piracy and US-China Relations

By Larry Romanoff

Global Research,

There is one factor that contributed heavily to the wealth of America today that US history books seem to neglect. The US government and corporations today produce volumes of propaganda accusing China of copying American products or ideas, of having no respect for American IP, but the Americans for 200 years or more have been the world’s masters of IP theft and product piracy.

During most of the nation’s early existence, American companies freely and without compensation copied everything that was made in Europe. Not only did they freely copy, but the US government erected impossibly high tariff barriers against foreign products, so that the originals from Europe would be too highly-priced to sell in America, while manufacturers of the local copies of course flourished. Moreover, as far back as the late 1800s, the US government often offered cash rewards of US$20,000 to US$50,000 – as much as the earnings of several lifetimes – to anyone who could steal and copy foreign technology, as happened with the cloth weaving machines that were the backbone of British industry for a century.

When the great American Thomas Jefferson was US Ambassador to France, he conspired to steal and smuggle out of Italy a strain of ‘miracle rice’ which was banned for exports and sales to foreigners. Jefferson was a brave man because, diplomatic immunity notwithstanding, the theft was punishable by death had he been caught. This theft process was true with almost every imaginable item. Many English authors despaired of ever selling their popular written works in the US, due to import regulations and high duties but, on travelling to America, were more than surprised to discover their books widely on sale in shops everywhere. When Charles Dickens discovered the extent of the piracy of his works in the US, he wrote a book condemning Americans as thieves, a book which was immediately pirated and offered for sale everywhere in the US.

For most of 200 years the US ignored the IP, the patents, the copyrights, of any person or company in any nation. The truth is that Americans, as Americans, have never invented much of anything, their only domestic creations being hardware that could kill more people faster and from a greater distance. But now being the engineer on the IP train, American firms have suddenly gotten religion and become sanctimoniously possessive, condemning others for precisely the same things they did so freely for so long.

Stephen Mihm wrote an excellent book in which he deals at length with 200 years of American patent and copyright violations and widespread IP theft. He perceptively recognises a “fast and loose brand of commerce” as simply a stage in a nation’s development, a stage which the US experienced in the same way that Japan did 30 years ago and that China is doing today. It is only the moralistic Christianity pervading American society that drives Americans to condemn China today for something they did so freely not very many years ago, and which they still do today. In truth, the US was by far the most rampant thief of all nations in the world’s history. (1) (2)

One American columnist wrote that if it were Europe or Asia that produced all those Hollywood movies, the US would very quickly find a way to reproduce them at home without paying royalties or recognising any IP rights. There is more than ample evidence that the US even today will freely copy anything it wants, while ignoring other nations’ claims to copyright or patent.

This is another of the prime reasons the US became a rich nation – because over two centuries it copied, stole, or took by force, much or even most of the world’s inventions, recipes, patents and processes, while refusing to permit imports on any reasonable or fair terms, thereby enabling America and its corporations to prosper at the expense of the world. There is little to be proud of, in America’s inventiveness or innovation. Few Americans today are aware of this part of their nation’s history because most of the perpetrators are now dead and because their history books have all been nicely sanitised – cleansed of all the facts of piracy, forcible theft and dirty tricks that are so much a part of the American legacy.

The US media have constantly accused the Chinese of using copied or unlicensed American software but, while some claims were no doubt valid, the picture of America being a hotbed of morality while the rest of the world consisted of thieves is patently false. Software copying originated in the US, not in China, and I can testify that unlicensed commercial software has always been in widespread use by corporations and governments in North America. Microsoft and many other firms have had this problem even with many branches of the US government and the military, and US corporations of all sizes installing many tens of thousands of copies of unlicensed software without paying the license fees. The US media ignore these stories, preferring to write about China.

As one example of many, in November of 2013, a US firm named Apptricity was planning to sue the US government for $300 million for unlicensed copying and installation of the firm’s software. Apptricity supplies the US military with logistics software used to track the locations of troops and critical missions shipments. The license fees are $1.35 million for installation on each server, and another $5,000 per computer using the software. But it seems the US government had installed this software on almost 100 servers and almost 10,000 individual computers without telling the company and without paying the necessary license fees, and had been doing this for more than ten years (3). The company’s total loss in fees alone was more than $300 million but the military bullied the company into accepting a settlement of only US$50 million. According to the company, “As on every other known subject, American pronouncements of moral superiority are all just hypocrisy”.

More than this, Americans have no shame in claiming credit for the inventions of others. There are hundreds of examples, a current one being the military stealth aircraft of which Americans are so apparently proud, and to which they repeatedly refer as evidence of their superior innovation ability. But stealth technology is just one more thing the Americans stole, in this case from Germany. At the end of the Second World War, US troops arrived in Berlin well in advance of the other Allied forces and wasted no time in looting the nation of all commercial and military secrets. By the time the Allies arrived in Berlin, the US military and government had packed up and shipped home more than 1,600 tons of documents on science and physics, nuclear energy, countless commercial patents and processes, and the German military’s research on stealth aircraft technology.

The US stealth aircraft today are a virtual copy of what the Germans designed and invented 70 years ago, from the shape and configuration of the fuselage, to the coatings, engine placements, everything. The engines of course are modern and different, but all of the science and technology, and most of the know-how was simply stolen from Germany. Similarly, the F-86 Sabre jet was built using design principles stolen from German aerodynamic research. It was German IP, not American inventiveness, that permitted Americans to boast about this famous aircraft holding world speed records for years. Also, much of current US aircraft technology was taken from the Canadian Avro Arrow, which was the first supersonic aircraft of its kind. Many Americans today claim some of this technology was American, but the truth is that the Canadians at the time had no wind tunnels and had contracted to do their aerodynamic testing in the US, following which the Americans copied – and stole – all of it.America’s History of Wartime Persecution of its Own People

America’s entire space program resulted from information stolen from Germany and from the post-war importation of thousands of Germans – many of whom were known war criminals. Werner von Braun and countless people like him who had invented all of Germany’s missile technology were brought to the US with all their knowledge of rocketry and missiles, to help put America into space. It is absolutely true that the US could never have managed any of those feats without the technology and know-how stolen from Germany. American inventiveness is mostly a jingoistic myth created by the American propaganda machine.

The US did the same to Germany after the First World War. As part of the conditions of surrender set in the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was forced to surrender all its patents to the US, in every commercial and military field, from fabrics to printing inks, from rockets and missiles to tanks and vehicles. Much of everything that Germany knew, designed, created up to that time, was surrendered to the US military and US commercial corporations. Countless German patents, including things as common as Bayer Aspirin, were seized by the Americans. This is copying and stealing – by military force – on very grand scale never before seen by any country. The US did the same after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, approaching former Soviet satellite nations as comrades in arms with the purpose of looting everything available, especially anything with military value.

Kodak and Polaroid might be American firms, but their IP was virtually all German. Without those IP thefts they might well have disappeared generations ago. I believe Intel also benefitted enormously from German semi-conductor research. American aircraft manufacturers like Boeing likewise owe much of their existence to stolen German IP. Interestingly, US automakers were so busy selling fashion accessories it apparently didn’t occur to them to steal foreign IP until it was too late.

An example from another category is the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which controls the spread of influenza, and which was patented by Hoffman LaRoche. The active ingredient in Tamiflu is extracted from star aniseed, which grew only in China and had been used there for several thousand years as a TCM prescription. There were many unhappy people with that pharma patent, since it was seen as effectively entering China, copying a Chinese medicine and claiming the worldwide rights to it. The same was true with ephedrine, a plant drug now widely used for treating colds, which was common in China for many centuries and introduced to the West only rather recently, but now patented by Western pharma companies.

Coca-Cola, originally called Kola Coca, was invented more than 140 years ago in a small town in Spain, the creators of the formula for the world’s best-selling soft drink having been cheated of its ownership and billions of dollars. The process was a well-kept secret at the time and quickly became a world-famous product, winning dozens of international gold medals and other awards. Unfortunately, Bautista Aparici, one of the company’s founders, attended a trade fair in Philadelphia and gave a sample and a brief description of the process to an American he happened to meet, and a short time later US pharmacist John Pemberton changed the name to Coca-Cola and patented the product and process, the US government refusing to recognise the original Spanish patent.

Nike is another famous American brand with an airbrushed past, based on a similar manner of IP theft as was Coca-Cola, and benefiting equally from the American government and judicial system. Phil Knight was a runner at the University of Oregon, with Bill Bowerman as his coach, both on the lookout for better quality running shoes. Knight was on a tour of Japan when he discovered the Onitsuka Tiger running shoe, a product far superior to anything available in the US at the time. Knight and Bowerman borrowed some money and placed an $8,000 order which quickly sold out. The two men then began making Onitsuka’s shoes in the US, selling the designs as their own. An Onitsuka executive, on a surprise visit to the US and to Nike’s premises, was himself surprised to discover his firm’s designs in the warehouse with an American brand on them. Naturally a major court case ensued, with the US courts, always committed to fair play and religiously following a rule of law, ruled that Knight and Bowerman did no wrong and that the two companies could “share” the patents, the IP and the brand.

American companies didn’t always steal from Europe or Asia; sometimes they stole from each other. Microsoft today might be only a bit player if it hadn’t directly stolen the ‘windows’ and the mouse concepts from Apple, and hadn’t had sufficient financial backing to pay for litigation until Apple was finally ground down and lost.

In spite of all the hypocritical noise made today about China, the US is still one of the worst violators of IP in the world, making its own rules to benefit American corporations and stubbornly ignoring the IP legislation and practices of other nations. The Americans more or less invented brand advertising and jealously guard their brands, but there are entire categories of famous names, products and proprietary processes originating in other countries that the Americans refuse to recognise even though they are fully protected in the other 96% of the world.

These are not oversights; the US government deliberately establishes its own rules as to which kinds of IP it will respect and which it will ignore, with the rules always designed to benefit only American firms. Any IP that doesn’t fit US political and commercial ideology will simply be ignored. These names and processes have been protected by laws and treaties in all developed nations and most undeveloped ones for more than 100 years – except by the Americans who adamantly refuse to sign despite repeated requests dating back more than a century.

These products include French champagne and cognac, Burgundy, Rhone and Chablis wine, Italy’s Chianti, Portugal’s Port and Madeira, Spain’s sherry and Hungary’s Tokay. They include Japan’s Kobe beef and Italy’s Parmesan cheese, and of course virgin olive oil. There are more than 600 of these specialised registered copyrights for which the US permits its corporations to violate all international copyright laws and profit illegally from the use of famous names. Champagne, by both French and international law, is a name that can be applied only to a wine produced by a particular method in the Champagne region of France. But not according to the US, whose winemakers gleefully sell US ‘champagne’, in clear violation of their claimed standards and of international laws. On the other hand, anybody printing “Florida Orange Juice” on a product that isn’t from Florida, will meet the full force of US law. European patents on wine or cheese are not valid in the US.

One of the world’s most famous cheeses is Parmigiano (Parmesan), from the Parma region of Italy. The cheese, the cows, the ingredients, the methods and processes, even the animals’ feed, are patented, trademarked, registered and protected by both Italian and international law – except in the US. American firms produce a pathetically substandard version of this cheese and market it as ‘original’ when it is no such thing, their violations protected by their own government.

Bloomberg did a recent study of grated cheeses, and many brands, including Kraft, tested for high cellulose content – cheese made of wood. Michael Mullen, a Kraft spokesman, said, “We remain committed to the quality of our products”. One company whose cheese tested high for cellulose content said, “We strongly believe that there is no cellulose present in our cheese.” Another company with high wood pulp content said, “We think the test could have been a false positive.”

There was a company named Castle Cheese in Pennsylvania that marketed fake cheeses for 30 years before the FDA caught up with them and discovered their “Italian Parmesan” was actually imitation cheese containing cellulose from American trees and leftover rinds and trimmings from other fake American cheeses. But the American Cheese Association claimed, “The wholesomeness of our dairy products is a treasured part of our story”, and one media report wrote, unbelievably, “[American] Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products by filling them with “too much cellulose”, made from wood pulp, instead of using cheaper cheddar.” If we’re talking about Parmesan cheese, I would have thought anything above zero would be too much cheddar, to say nothing of cellulose, but then this is America, and things are different here. So, genuine Italian Parmesan cheese, made in Wisconsin with wood pulp from Idaho trees. No IP problems here. And no food adulteration like we have in China.

Olive oil is one of the culinary delights of the world, something that has been produced for centuries in Southern Europe and the Middle East, with processes that have long been proven to produce the best product. The most valuable oil, which we call “Virgin Olive Oil” or “Extra-Virgin Olive Oil” is produced by a gentle cold physical pressing of the olives done in a particular manner. The oil that flows from this ‘first press’ is rather thicker, is a dark green color, and is the most fragrant and tasty, and the most healthful. Virgin Olive Oil carries a substantial financial premium.

But the US has its own rules here too. American species of olives cannot meet international standards, being grown in a climate not especially suited to this fruit, and produce only a poor yellow oil – which is almost invariably adulterated with inferior and leftover vegetable or seed oils. American marketers thus claim that “color is irrelevant” in olive oil. Recognising that many people refuse to buy into the ‘irrelevant color’ propaganda, American producers bottle their olive oil in dark green glass bottles, which of course makes it impossible to see exactly what one is buying. The American story is that the dark glass – always green, just like the color of Virgin oil – is to protect the oil from the ravages of exposure to sunlight. It must surely occur to thinking people somewhere that cooking and salad oils are normally stored in a dark kitchen cupboard and seldom left sitting out in the parking lot fully exposed to blinding sunshine, and therefore not actually requiring protection from sunlight. But then this is America, and maybe things are different here.

Few of us may remember that pistachios used to be dyed a pretty red, with a powdered food coloring that happily transferred itself to hands and clothing, but we still sometimes see them at Christmas, festively dyed in red, green and white. The American marketing machine tells us that Iran dyed its pistachios because the hulls contained unappetising splotchy stains from primitive and backward Iranian harvesting methods, these Moslem terrorists covering their sins by dying them. There was never any evidence presented for this accusation, but then California produces large volumes of both pistachio and pecan nuts which have naturally splotchy hulls (and no taste) and which the Americans have peroxided, hypochlorited, chlorinated, and dyed for generations, and still do today, to disguise their unattractive appearance. So when patriotic, hard-working, god-fearing Americans dye pistachios, they are simply employing modern agricultural best practices while making the world safe for democracy, but when Iran dyes pistachios this is precisely the kind of deceitful conduct we would expect from those primitive non-Christian ragheads. Americans are such a pain in the ass.

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Two Huge Suppressed News Reports Display Corrupt US and Allied Mainstream Press

By Eric Zuesse

Global Research,

On Friday, December 12th, Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept reported and documented that the mainstream U.S. press has lied through its teeth about “Russiagate,” and Zero Hedge reported and documented that not only had the U.S., UK, and France, committed an international war-crime when they invaded Syria on 14 April 2018 firing 105 missiles against Damascus, but the U.N.-authorized agency OPCW that was supposed to investigate the U.S.-&-allied allegation which had been the alleged ‘justification’ for that invasion was instead lying through its teeth about what the evidence actually showed about it: that this invasion had been based upon U.S.-&-allied lies.

These lies by the U.S.-and-allied ’news’-media are not exceptions to the rule; they are the rule whenever anything happens that is contrary to the self-justificatory ‘journalism’, or actually propaganda-line, of the U.S., and of its allied governments.

The lying that got these countries into invading Iraq on 20 March 2003, and into invading Libya in 2011, and into invading and occupying Syria in 2012 until now, are not simply ‘errors’, but are instead systematic and intentional on the part of the news-managements of all of the major U.S.-&-allied ’news’-organizations, none of which will ‘rat’ on any others of them, because they all are in the same boat of liars, and for any one of them to expose the ‘journalistic’ fraudulence of any other of them would be to expose also themselves, because they’re all in the same racket: destroying democracy — making democracy in their own country an impossibility.Ukraine Crisis Report: Violation of the Donbass Ceasefire Agreement, BRICS and IMF-World Intervention

Why are there not consumer boycotts against each one of them? Could it be because they all are very successful in hiding from their respective publics their own criminality, their PR-gangland fascist operation?

Glenn Greenwald’s report was titled “The Inspector General’s Report on 2016 FBI Spying Reveals a Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media”

Zero Hedge’s report was titled “New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative”.

Things like this don’t routinely happen in a democracy. They do happen routinely in the U.S.-&-allied countries.

Incidentally, Greenwald previously did a blockbuster news-report that’s closely related to the one he did on December 14th, and it was titled “The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story”. So: he has made this beat a particular specialty of his.

Anyone who subscribes to a major ‘news’-medium in the U.S.-and-allied countries is paying to be deceived.

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Neoliberal Economics Has Destroyed the U.S. Economy and America’s Middle Class

Today we have two economies. One is the real economy of production and consumption. The other is the financialized economy of paper wealth.

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

According to official US government economic data, the US economy has been growing for 10.5 years since June of 2009. The reason that the US government can produce this false conclusion is that costs that are subtrahends from GDP are not included in the measure. Instead, many costs are counted not as subtractions from growth but as additions to growth. For example, the penalty interest on a person’s credit card balance that results when a person falls behind his payments is counted as an increase in “financial services” and as an increase in Gross Domestic Product. The economic world is stood on its head.

It is aggregate demand that drives the economy. Payments made on a rise in interest rates on credit card balances from 19% to a 29% penalty rate reduce consumers’ ability to contribute to aggregate demand by purchasing goods and the services of doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Contrary to logic, the fee is magically counted in the “financial services” category as a contributor to GDP growth. The extortion of a fee that reduces aggregate demand lowers GDP, but builds paper wealth in the financial services sector.

GDP growth is also artificially inflated by counting as GDP abstract concepts that do not produce income streams. For example, for homeowners the US Department of Commerce estimates the rental values of owner-occupied housing, that is, the amount owners would be paying if they rented instead of owned their homes, and counts this imputed rent as GDP.

These and other absurdities have caused economist Michael Hudson to conclude correctly that the “financial reality of how the U.S. economy works is no longer captured in GDP statistics.”

Today we have two economies. One is the real economy of production and consumption. The other is the financialized economy of paper wealth. The former is doing poorly, and the latter is doing well. The financialized economy is growing much faster than the real economy. Indeed, the real economy might not be growing at all.

Michael Hudson describes the difference. The stock market is at all time highs that have created massive wealth in financial assets for stock and bond owners. In the real economy the situation is totally different:

“The Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 reports that 39% of Americans do not have $400 cash available for a medical or other emergency, and that a quarter of adults skipped medical care in 2018 because they could not afford it (see this). The latest estimates by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that nearly half (48 percent) of households headed by someone 55 and older lack any retirement savings or pension benefits (see this). Even in what the press calls an economic boom, most Americans feel stressed and many are chronically angry and worried. According to a 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association, financial worry is the “number one cause of stress in America today” (see this).

The data is completely clear. The rich are becoming much richer, and the rest are becoming poorer. Michael Hudson explains:

“The creation and trading of property and financial assets at rising prices has been fueled by rising debt levels owed to the financial sector. This sector’s returns therefore are best seen not as real wealth on the asset side of the balance sheet, but as overhead on the liabilities side. And the process is multi-layered: income accruing to the financial wealth owned by the top 10 Percent is paid mainly by the bottom 90 percent in the form of rising debt service and other returns to financial and other property.

“In the textbook models of industrial capitalism’s mass production and consumption, an asset’s price is determined by its cost of production. If the price rises above this level, competitors will offer it cheaper. But in the financialized economy an asset’s price is determined by how much credit buyers can borrow to buy it, not by its cost of production. A home is worth as much as a bank will lend to a bidder.

“The engine of industrial capitalism and its consumer society is a positive feedback loop in which widely shared income growth, expanding consumption and markets generated yet more investment and growth. By contrast, the feedback loop of financial capitalism is an exponential growth of credit-driven debt, driving up asset prices and hence requiring yet more borrowing to buy homes, retirement income and other assets. Corporate management and investment today is mainly about obtaining capital gains for real estate, stocks and bonds than about earning income.

“We illustrate this by charting the flow of income and capital gains in the real estate sector to show the dominance of asset-price gains over net rental income – and how rental income is used up paying interest in our financialized economy. Likewise, corporate income is spent (and new debt taken on) largely for stock buybacks to raise share prices. The resulting dynamic is exponential and destabilizing.”

This dynamic is destabilizing, because as more of consumers’ discretionary income is drawn off to service mortgage, credit card, automobile and student debt and for compulsory health insurance, less is left to purchase the goods and services in the real economy. Consequently, credit-driven debt grows faster than the income that services it, and this impoverishes the 90%. However, for the 10%, money creation by the Federal Reserve in order to protect the balance sheets of the “banks too big to fail or jail” drives up the values of financial assets. As a result the distribution of income and wealth becomes hightly polarized.

Think about the many Americans who meet their living expenses by making only the minimum payment on their credit card balance. At 19% interest their debt grows monthly. Eventually they hit a credit card debt cap and can no longer use the card to cover their living expenses. But they have the burden of a large debt balance to service without an income stream capable of servicing it.

Think about the corporation that decapitalizes itself in order to produce short to intermediate term capital gains for shareholders and executives by indebting the firm in order to buy back the firm’s shares. The end result is that all income goes for debt service.

In a financialized economy, the only possible outcomes are debt forgiveness or collapse.

As Michael Hudson makes clear, the combination of nonsensical categories in the National Income and Product Accounts and a financialized economy means we have no accurate picture of the economy’s condition. Michael Hudson has a proposal for correcting these problems and making GDP accounting more accurate, but as ecological economists such as Herman Daly have made clear, GDP measurement also omits the external costs of production. This means that we do not know whether GDP is growing or declining. It is entirely possible that the ecological and social costs of an increase in GDP (as currently measured) are greater than the value of the increased output. (See Paul Craig Roberts, The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism, see this)

Perhaps the major way in which GDP is overstated is the exclusion of external or social costs. External or social costs are costs of producing a product that the producer does not incur but imposes on third parties or on the environment. For example, untreated sewage dumped into a stream imposes costs on people downstream. Runoff of chemical fertilizers from commercial farming produces dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and toxic algal blooms such as Red Tide that result in massive fish kills, make seafood unsafe, cause human ailments and adversely impact the tourist trade of beach areas. The result is lost incomes, ruined vacations, health expenses, and none of these costs are born by the commercial farmers.

Real estate development produces massive external costs. Scenic views from existing properties are blocked, thus reducing their values. Construction noise and congestion impose costs on existing residents and reduces the quality of their lives. Water runoff problems are often created. Infrastructure has to be provided, such as larger highways to provide evacuation from hurricane-impacted areas, usually financed by taxpayers. If the global warming case is correct, the external cost of human economic activity can be the life of the planet.

Lakshmi Sarah in the May/June, 2019, issue of the Sierra Club magazine provides an excellent detailed account of the external costs of coal-fired power plants being built in India by the Indian conglomerate Tata with a loan from the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank. The ground water in the area has been ruined and is no longer drinkable. Farmers are no longer able to grow crops on half of the area farmland. Heated wastewater that is dumped into the Gulf of Kutch is destroying fishing. The ecology and the livelihoods of the population are essentially destroyed. None of these costs are born by the private power companies.

Tired of being doormats for capitalists and the World Bank, the residents of the affected provinces rebelled. They have succeeded in getting their case before the US Supreme Court. It seems that the International Finance Corporation is so accustomed to financing projects that produce large external costs that it overlooked its obligation to examine the environmental impact of the projects it finances. This oversight resulted in Indian farmers and fishermen getting their case before the US Supreme Court. The International Finance Corporation’s lawyers argued that the World Bank lending agency had “absolute immunity.” The Supreme Court said no and remanded the case to the circuit court to rule on the damages.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this apparent victory for ordinary faraway little people in an American court against the World Bank, a principle instrument of American imperialism, is that the Trump administration appeared in court as a friend of the Indian farmers and fishermen. The US Solicitor General, represented by Jonathan Ellis, rejected the notion that international orgnizations have absolute immunity. The Establishment exists on its immunity. Here we see the ultimate reason that the ruling Establishment wants rid of Trump.

Already the senior staff of the International Finance Corporation have come to the realization that they have other responsibilities than just to shuffle money out the lending shute. If the Indian farmers and fishermen succeed in protecting themselves from ruination by external costs, perhaps Americans who suffer external costs will follow their lead.

Perhaps economists will also come to the realization that they owe us accurate GDP accounting and not fanciful accounts that serve elite wealth in the financialized economy.

Posted in USAComments Off on Neoliberal Economics Has Destroyed the U.S. Economy and America’s Middle Class

“One Country, Two Systems”? Britain and Northern Ireland on Brexit

By Tom Clifford

Global Research,

One country, two systems. Britain is leaving the European Union. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not leaving on the same terms.

In the UK election, more Irish nationalists than Unionists were elected in Northern Ireland for the first time since Ireland was partitioned in 1921. Not surprisingly, it led to Sinn Fein renewing its calls for a vote to leave the UK and unite with the Irish Republic. This is not going to happen for reasons steeped in history. But also crucially there is not a groundswell of opinion, on either side of the border, for it. But Northern Ireland feels a lesser part of the UK today than at any time since Lloyd George was prime minister.

Hold the front page, as they used to say in pre-internet and website days. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is talking nonsense. There was, he said adamantly, no question of checks being needed on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom under his European Union withdrawal agreement.

“There will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain,” Johnson said in November.

Not so fast. His own Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, had to contradict him. Goods going from Northern Ireland will have to be accompanied by exit declarations and “targeted interventions” from customs officers, he said.Brexit, The Tories and the “Irish Question”

Johnson, according to his own allies, is a non-starter regarding trust. Let us not forget, he is actually the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Democratic Unionist Party feel they have been abandoned by him. On this, they are right. The DUP were convenient bedfellows when it suited him and when their usefulness was up, they were ruthlessly pushed out. This is no reason for non-Unionists to gloat. If the prime minister can dispatch his allies, then for those of a different political persuasion the occupant of No 10 Downing Street poses, at the very least, a troubling dilemma. Can he be taken at his word or trusted? The evidence suggests not.

Johnson is reneging on his absolute commitment to his allies in the DUP that a “border in the Irish Sea” is something “no British government could or should” ever accept.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was in no doubt. She said the British prime minister betrayed Unionist voters in Northern Ireland when he sealed a deal with the European Union that would introduce a trade barrier down the Irish Sea, jettisoning Northern Ireland from British customs procedures. He reneged on a promise he made when he spoke at their annual conference.

Foster said the party could no longer take Johnson at his word and would have to check if what he said “was actually factually correct”.

“Once bitten, twice shy, we will certainly be looking for the detail of what this [Brexit] is going to look like,” Foster said.

In his victory speech on Friday morning, Johnson said the UK is “leaving the EU as one United Kingdom”. Even if we ignore the Scottish question, this is utterly fraudulent. It is a matter of fact that Northern Ireland is not about to leave the EU on the same terms as Britain.

Crown subjects in Northern Ireland have a right to be told by their prime minister the truth about their status. Johnson displays a reluctance to tell the obvious truth that on the border, borders, literally, on the schizophrenic.


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Posted in UKComments Off on “One Country, Two Systems”? Britain and Northern Ireland on Brexit

The So-called “China Threat”: NATO and America’s “New Cold War” on China

With NATO declaring China a new strategic challenge at its summit in London in early December, the world has inched further in the direction of confrontation. 

By Jenny Clegg

Global Research,

The powers that be in the US are now viewing China as a deadly rival in a duel for global supremacy. Their aim at the summit was to draw their European allies into their China containment strategy.  This was made clear at a recent meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs in Brussels in November, when US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, called on the alliance to address ‘the current and potential long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,’ and to stand together in ‘the cause of freedom and democracy,’ to make the world safe against threats of authoritarianism. (1)

Pompeo’s demand came in response to deepening doubts among the European allies about US commitment to their defence following the failure by Washington to consult NATO before pulling forces out of northern Syria.  Calling up NATO’s original ideological Cold War mission to once again stiffen its purpose, Pompeo seemed to be suggesting that there was a trade off to be made: if Europe wants commitment from the US, they should themselves commit to the US and forge a united front against China.

But to what extent did the Europeans buy into this call for a NATO anti-China pivot? Whilst the US has cemented a Cold War view of China, Europe has struggled to find a common position on the emergence of the new major power, and besides their own preoccupations over security remain focussed on Russia and the Middle East.

Trump’s Cold War on China

Over the last four years, the Trump administration has single-mindedly sought to turn US China policy right around from engagement to containment, at the same time bringing China’s rise to the centre of the foreign policy agenda.  The 2017 National Security Strategy shifted the focus from the ‘war on terror’ to ‘great power competition’ identifying Russia and China as ‘revisionist powers’. The Indo Pacific was seen as ‘the centre of the most fundamental geopolitical change since the end of WW2,’ with China seeking to displace the US, expanding the reaches of its state-driven economic model to reorder the region in its favour.  Against this, a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was planned to draw Australia, Japan and India closer to the US; and a massive defence budget was agreed to pay for nuclear weapons modernisation and the establishment of a Space Command.

In October 2018, Vice President Mike Pence proceeded to launch an offensive on China across multiple fronts  – trade, technology, ideological, diplomatic and military. (2) Then earlier this year, following the US withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, and with the trade war escalating, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper hinted that the first deployments of US intermediate-range missiles would be in the Asia-Pacific region to counter Chinese missiles.(3) China was being lined up as a much more formidable long term strategic rival than Russia.  As the world’s second largest economy, it has far greater influence around the world than Soviet Union ever had.  In the words a former Senior Director of Strategic Planning in the Trump administration, China poses ‘the most consequential existential threat since the Nazi Party in World War 2’.(4)

What direction Europe? 

No doubt with Trump’s earlier remark on NATO’s obsolescence in mind, European members have begun to bend to US pressure on increasing defence spending to prove their relevance: by taking a greater share of the costs of containing Russia, the Allies will help to free the US to focus on  Asia and China.

However NATO’s European members are rather more equivocal about the so-called China threat. Earlier this year, the European Commission, in its EU-China: a Strategic Outlook Report, characterised China as a ‘systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance’.  Nevertheless, the EU has sought to distance itself from the US tactics of trade war with China.  Business and economic relations between Europe and China have been growing and, earlier in the year, EU-China negotiations made advances towards an investment agreement to be sealed in 2020.  At the same time, Italy, despite warnings from other European leaders, went ahead in signing up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the 14th EU member state – and the first G7 state – to join in the Chinese project,

For the US now it is imperative to stop this Eurasian drift, resorting then to a Cold War militarism through the heavy hand of the alliance to rein the Europeans in.

Shifting NATO’s focus towards Asia  

In light of the European Commission’s view, the Trump administration’s question to the EU has been: if China is a systemic rival, then how should this be managed?

To prepare for the London Summit, NATO began a review of the security implications of China’s rise to the EuroAtlantic. This was set as part of a wider overhaul of NATO defence planning and doctrine in the post-INF context. The collapse of the INF treaty has left Europe exposed to Russia missiles, but the US now insists that China’s intermediate-range and new missile capabilities must also be included in arms control proposals and that Europe needs to recognise that safety can only be found together in NATO. (5)

Warning of China’s rapidly expanding military might, Stoltenberg argued: “…we have to address the fact that China is getting closer to us… We see them in Africa; we see them in the Arctic; we see them in cyberspace and China now has the second largest defense budget in the world.’ (6) Chinese hypersonic weaponry and missiles, he argues, are capable of reaching Europe, a de facto ‘operational alliance’ with Russia is in evidence in recent military exercises in the Pacific, Central Asia and the Baltic, and, with China getting more involved in Europe through its Belt and Road Initiative, it has become necessary to question the strategic intentions of China’s Eurasian project. (7)

These effort to link EuroAtlantic security to the Indo-Pacific strategy raise the prospects of a global NATO.  The idea of a military alliance, spanning both the Atlantic and Pacific, has long been an aspiration on the part of the US.  A South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) was set up in 1954 as a counterpart to NATO, however it never really established itself, and, with regional states asserting their newly gained independence, was eventually dissolved in 1977.  More recently, since 2012, through its ‘partners across the globe’ programme, NATO has forged new links with US allies in the Asia Pacific region including Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.Washington’s Grand Design: Draw NATO into Confronting Russia and China

In 2016, NATO began to align with US Indo-Pacific priorities, agreeing to extend its operations to cover maritime security in parallel with US freedom of navigation exercises (FONOPs) which were stoking the militarisation of the South China Sea. In 2018, the UK and France announced their intentions to join the US FONOPs, subsequently sending warships into the vicinity. (8)

At this time also, the Five Eyes security intelligence network began to share classified information with Germany, Japan and France.(9)  This Cold War instrument, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, has gained a new importance with the rapid development of the new technologies and is the main instrument of surveillance of China’s foreign activities, such as cyberattacks.  Although such information is so far being shared with the other US allies on a bilateral basis, it points the way towards closer links between NATO and the Five Eyes with the potential to upgrade of NATO’s East Asian partnerships towards more extensive intelligence sharing, joint planning and military exercises.

Securing technology

This then comes to the heart of the matter: the issue of securing NATO’s communications technologies from the so-called Huawei ‘threat’.  It is China’s challenge in the digital world that concerns the US above all else. China’s emergence as a global leader in the development of new technologies, and its growing capacity to gather vast amounts of global data, is seen to have brought the world to a turning point.

With NATO and the Five Eyes partners reliant on 5G networks, the hype is of China leveraging Huawei’s commercial networks for military purposes to access highly classified information flowing among allies or even to block services in the event of conflict. (10)  But Europe has its doubts: GCHQ in the UK has found Huawei involvement to be manageable; and Merkel, rejecting the Cold War logic, has been reluctant to discriminate against a single company or a single country. (11) It is no doubt to enforce the Huawei ban, that Pompeo is turning on the ideological pressure.  The rhetoric is all about protecting freedom and democracy and securing the unfettered flow of information across the globe; the real fear is of the US losing the technological edge.

Is China a threat?

China has been upgrading its military forces, including its naval and missile capabilities, on a considerable scale.  Its military budget  however, despite its increase remains dwarfed by the US military spending and is just a fraction of the budgets of US and its Asian allies combined.  US military power is still far superior to that of China however, with China’s efforts concentrated on its own defence, it is its strengths in A2AD – anti-access and area denial – that particularly frustrate the US military.

China argues that having capability is not the same as intention to use.  It adheres to a no first use nuclear policy.  A similar commitment from the other nuclear powers should be at least one of the conditions of China signing up to any new arms control treaty; the inclusion of sea- and air-based as well as the land-based missiles covered by the INF, being another. China can also point to its years-long efforts together with Russia to gain agreement on a convention on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).  A Xi-Obama agreement on cyber-security had a degree of success. (12)

With Obama’s Asian pivot upgraded by Trump into the Indo-Pacific strategy, together with a deepening of the Cold War mindset, China has drawn closer to Russia to safeguard security and promote safety and stability through multipolarity.  Recent Sino-Russian joint military exercises with India, Pakistan and Central Asian states in September and with South Africa in November are a demonstration of this.

China then is not seeking to engage in an arms race with the US; it does not intend to follow the Soviet Union and risk its own downfall. In challenging US hegemony, its chosen battleground is the digital world; its race of choice is to the technological frontiers – a pre-arms race over innovation upon which the US military ‘full spectrum dominance’ relies for advantage.

An anti-China NATO?

To contain European wavering, Stoltenberg was careful with his words at the summit, recognising China’s rise as ‘presenting opportunities as well as challenges’ to avoid any overt suggestion that China was NATO’s next adversary.  Macron, in particular, concerned that NATO maintain its focus on the Middle East, had cautioned against China being classified as an enemy in a military way as is ISIS.  Nevertheless, there was broad agreement that China was a ‘part of our strategic environment’ and that NATO needed to coordinate its response to the challenges posed by China’s growing influence.

The commitment to a NATO space force was a particular mark of willingness on the part of the Allies to deter China’s rise as a rival military power. There was agreement to increase tools to respond to cyber attacks, and whilst a NATO maritime task force in the South China Sea is still a long shot, the organisation’s maritime posture is to be bolstered.

With the new US Cold Warriors looking to increase NATO cooperation with Japan and Australia in order to counter the Russian and Chinese multipolar moves, the call to further strengthen NATO’s political coordination is of particular significance in opening the door to wider consultation with these Indo Pacific partners.  The summit agreement on coordination on arms control may provide such a forum to build the case for the expansion of the INF to include China, in effect a means of containment, as a preliminary step towards a broader international front against Chinese influence.

Conclusion

What lies behind the disagreements among NATO members that have surfaced this year about its future is then the question of how to respond to the rise of China.  The US was looking for NATO summit to present a United Front in sending a clear message of deterrent to China.  However, European states see China not simply as a ‘systemic rival’ but also as an economic opportunity.  It is not just Greece and Italy which seek dialogue over ideological confrontation – even Macron, who warned Italy earlier this year against naivety in engaging with China, appeared recently at a major import-expo fair in Shanghai, coming away with a host of trade deals.

Around the world, Huawei offers a cheap upgrade to 5G networks. Around half of the 65 commercial deals that have been signed have been with European customers.  The US is demanding that its allies to put security first, a security set on its own terms but how much, the Europeans might ask themselves, does the US ambition to monopolise new technologies matter to them? European states have in the past resisted the US when it acted against their interests, for example over the Iraq war. What was perhaps most notable about the NATO summit communique was that, whilst there was a commitment on the part of all the leaders to ensuring their countries had secure 5G communications, there was no mention of Huawei.  In this, then, the United anti-China Front fell short.

However, caught between the old TransAtlanticism and a longer term rebalancing towards Eurasia, the Europeans seem incapable of rising to the challenge of repositioning and the kind of radical rethink of the very meaning security that this entails. Instead Merkel appeals to Macron that Europe must still rely on NATO for its defence.   An openly anti-China NATO is unlikely – this would divide Europe.  The danger nevertheless is that further small shifts towards the US Indo Pacific strategy might embolden the US in its ideological attacks on China and in moves to foment demands for independence in Taiwan with increased military backing. In that case, the outcome of the NATO summit may turbo-charge the already escalating US-China tensions. Indeed the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper has now designated China the top US military priority ahead of Russia (13).  2020 may prove a momentous year with an EU-China investment deal on the cards but at the same time with a new US-led military build up against Russia and China with two huge exercises, Defender 2020 in Europe, and Defender 2020 in the Pacific. The level of coordination between the two and the extent of participation by European allies in the latter remains to be seen.

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Dr. Jenny Clegg writes and researches on China’s development and international role.  She has published numbers of articles in academic and other journals.  Her book, ‘China’s Global Strategy: towards a multipolar world’ was published by Pluto Press in 2010.

Notes

  1. https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-at-a-press-availability-2/
  2. https://www.hudson.org/events/1610-vice-president-mike-pence-s-remarks-on-the-administration-s-policy-towards-china102018.
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/world/asia/inf-missile-treaty.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000bkxy/rivals-americas-endgame
  5. https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/07/nato-stoltenberg-shoots-back-france-emmanuel-macron-calls-brain-death-dead/
  6. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/03/china-should-be-natos-main-focus-at-summit-experts-say.html
  7. https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/08/its-time-nato-china-council/159326/
  8. https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2019/09/nato-respond-china-power
  9. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2149062/france-britain-sail-warships-contested-south-china-sea
  10. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190204/p2a/00m/0na/001000c
  11. https://gallagher.house.gov/media/columns/five-eyes-must-lead-5g
  12. https://www.politico.eu/article/merkel-pushes-back-on-calls-for-huawei-ban-in-germany/
  13. https://thediplomat.com/2018/08/did-the-obama-xi-cyber-agreement-work/
  14. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3042083/pentagon-head-says-china-has-become-top-us-military-priority?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_today&utm_content=20191214&MCUID=80088feeea&MCCampaignID=7575aef910&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=26

Posted in USA, ChinaComments Off on The So-called “China Threat”: NATO and America’s “New Cold War” on China

How Would Jesus Fare in the American Police State?

By Global Research News

Cruising Pamir Highway, the Heart of the Heartland. The New Silk Roads and Greater Eurasia

By Pepe Escobar,

Traveling the Pamir Highway, we’re not only facing a geological marvel and a magic trip into ancient history and customs. It’s also a privileged window on a trade revival that will be at the heart of the expansion of the New Silk Roads.

Khorog is the only town in the Pamirs – its cultural, economic and educational center, the site of the multi-campus University of Central Asia, financed by the Agha Khan foundation. Ismailis place tremendous importance on education.

The Child that Christmas Forgot: How Would Jesus Fare in the American Police State?

By John W. Whitehead,

The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable (a barn), where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus. Warned that the government planned to kill the baby, Jesus’ family fled with him to Egypt until it was safe to return to their native land.

Yet what if Jesus had been born 2,000 years later?

Our Vanishing World: Birds

By Robert J. Burrowes,

Birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic and in the 65 million years since the extinction of the rest of the dinosaurs, this ancestral lineage diversified into the major groups of birds alive today. See ‘The origin of birds’.

Because they did not exist during the first five mass extinction events on Earth, birds have been spared the widespread extinctions suffered by those species that did exist in earlier eras.

Bulgaria’s Willingness to Host NATO Naval Center Is Aimed at Containing Russia in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos,

In a joint statement between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the latter announced last Thursday that the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna is a willing new home of NATO’s Naval Force Coordination Center. NATO’s Maritime Headquarters is currently located in the United Kingdom, but Stoltenberg thanked his Bulgarian counterpart for its “strong commitment” and “strong focus” on so-called “Black Sea security.” By Black Sea security, it was of course meant that they want to contain Russia.

Video: President Assad Discusses Syria’s Reconstruction, China’s “Belt and Road” and US Aggression

By Bashar al AssadPhoenix Television, and Miri Wood,

In the third of recent international interviews, Syria’s President Bashar al Assad met with Phoenix Television, to discuss Belt and Road development projects with China’s Phoenix Television.

Given that Syria and China are both part of the original Silk Road that created a beautiful explosion of the development and trade that uplifted humanity, this interview has greater importance than the recent one with France’s Paris Match and that with Rai News 24, subsequently banned in Italy. Transcript courtesy of SANA.

Video: Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Narrative Collapses, Russia Trains New Militia in Hasakah

By South Front,

Russia has started creating a local force that will operate in northeastern Syria areas abandoned by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, several Syrian media outlets claim.

According to reports, the Russian military will train and equip a new pro-government militia in the province of al-Hasakah. This militia will be deployed at former positions of the SDF, which have not been taken by the Syrian Army.

The Real Interest of the U.S. in Latin America and the Caribbean. Preserve Imperialism

By Enrique Moreno Gimeranez,

Our America is again suffering escalating aggression by U.S. imperialism and local oligarchies. The region is experiencing a sad reality involving dangerous turmoil and socio-political instability, promoted by Washington. The hemisphere’s most reactionary forces are attacking sovereign governments with coups, methods of unconventional war, brutal police repression, militarization, unilateral coercive measures, rigged judicial persecution of progressive leaders, while proclaiming the validity of the Monroe Doctrine and McCarthyism.

Posted in USAComments Off on How Would Jesus Fare in the American Police State?

Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Narrative Collapses, Russia Trains New Militia in Hasakah ‘Video’

By South Front

Russia has started creating a local force that will operate in northeastern Syria areas abandoned by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, several Syrian media outlets claim.

According to reports, the Russian military will train and equip a new pro-government militia in the province of al-Hasakah. This militia will be deployed at former positions of the SDF, which have not been taken by the Syrian Army.

Since the start of the Russian military operation in Syria, Moscow has trained and equipped several pro-government factions that successfully operate in the provinces of Aleppo, Homs, Daraa and near Damascus. The Russian military also helped to create the 5th Assault Corps of the Syrian Army. The al-Hasakah-based militia will likely be used as a part of the wider plan to de-escalate the situation on the border with Turkey.

A team of experts from Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco has reportedly visited and inspected the al-Omar oil fields in southeastern Deir Ezzor. Local sources suggest that the US-led coalition is going to involve experts and entities linked to the Saudi company in an attempt to expand the scale of its oil smuggling business.Video Player00:0002:58

In November, the Syrian military carried out a series of strikes on oil smuggling facilities near the Turkish-occupied city of Jarabulus in northern Aleppo. Back then, sources in Damascus warned that these strikes were only a first step in a campaign to put end to the smuggling of the Syrian oil by foreign forces.Leaked Document Pokes More Holes in Establishment Syria Narrative

More and more data contradicting the mainstream narrative blaming the Assad government for the April 7, 2018 Douma incident become available to the public. On December 14, WikiLeaks released another batch of documents that reveal mass dissent within the OPCW’s experts over the formal decision to lay blame for the supposed chemical attack on Assad. The leaked data includes a memo stating 20 inspectors think that the officially released version of the OPCW’s report on Douma “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria]”. Another revelation is that the OPCW possessed scientifically credible evidence showing the victims of the alleged attack had symptoms not consistent with chemical gas exposure.

These documents became the latest in a series dissent memos and documents destroying the “Assad chemical weapons” narrative. The previously released evidence revealed that the OPCW had doctored the Douma report and manipulated the collected evidence. It should be recalled that the United States, the United Kingdom and France carried out a joint missile strike on Syria in 2018 justifying the move by claims that it was a needed response to the supposed “Assad chemical weapon attack” in Douma.

Posted in Russia, SyriaComments Off on Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Narrative Collapses, Russia Trains New Militia in Hasakah ‘Video’

Syria’s President Assad Discusses Syria’s Reconstruction, China’s “Belt and Road” and US Aggression ‘Video’

China’s Phoenix Television

By Bashar al AssadPhoenix Television, and Miri Wood

In the third of recent international interviews, Syria’s President Bashar al Assad met with Phoenix Television, to discuss Belt and Road development projects with China’s Phoenix Television.

Given that Syria and China are both part of the original Silk Road that created a beautiful explosion of the development and trade that uplifted humanity, this interview has greater importance than the recent one with France’s Paris Match and that with Rai News 24subsequently banned in Italy. Transcript courtesy of SANA.

Journalist:  Mr. President, on behalf of the Chinese television channel, Phoenix, I would like to thank you for giving us this interview.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Question 1:  Mr. President, allow me to start straight away…  Syria has been able to make great achievements in fighting terrorism and large areas of Syrian territories have been restored.  Now, where will you begin the reconstruction of Syria?

President Assad:  In fact, we are not waiting for the end of a particular stage of the war in order to start reconstruction; reconstruction starts immediately after the liberation of any area, whether it is big or small, a village or a city.  Reconstruction has stages, the first of which is rebuilding the infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water and electricity.  Later, the state shifts its focus to schools, health centers and hospitals.

However, the most important stage in reconstruction, which comes later and constitutes the most serious challenge for us, is restoring daily activity especially economic livelihood.  This requires a great deal of effort and is affected by internal factors and the external environment – namely the embargo imposed by Western countries on Syria, which has a negative affect and slows the process down.  So, reconstruction has already started, but we need more investments from within and outside the country in order to scale it up.

Question 2:  And here we ask, Mr. President, what are the most important areas in which Syria needs the help of friendly countries, including China?

President Assad:  China specifically provides assistance in reconstruction particularly in the humanitarian domain.  As I mentioned earlier, life’s necessities are water and electricity and China is providing support in these areas through humanitarian grants which we apply to the areas most in need.

In the past, we did not engage in discussions with our friends – and at the forefront China, on reconstruction because the security situation did not allow us to initiate this process on a large scale.  Now, with the liberation of most areas, we have started discussions with a number of Chinese companies experienced in reconstruction.  As I mentioned, the most important stage and the greatest challenge is the full restoration of the economic cycle.  We would hope that Chinese companies start looking and studying the Syrian market which is improving quickly and constantly in terms of security.

It is essential that we start discussing investment opportunities, because it is well-known that rebuilding countries destroyed partially or totally by war is very profitable and has high returns-on-investment.  The process is not limited to loans or providing aid without any returns, it is a profitable investment in every sense of the word.

We have started talking to a number of Chinese companies on finding ways to evade sanctions and have access to the Syrian market.  They have shown an interest because the process is profitable, but investors and investment companies still have concerns about the way sanctions could impact them.  We have found certain formulas, which will not be disclosed of course, for them to enter the Syrian market safely and consequently contribute to the reconstruction process in Syria.

crimes-against-peace

I would like to emphasize that this support is not limited to the economy; reconstruction ultimately means contributing to Syria’s stability for two reasons.  First, in the past two years, millions of Syrians have returned from abroad without finding sufficient job opportunities, which in itself is a factor that can be used by terrorists and outside powers.  Second, the reconciliation we have achieved in Syria, was in part with those who worked with the militants or the terrorists at a certain period.  They agreed to lay down their weapons and return to their normal lives – this return requires job opportunities.  So, the support from China and other friendly countries in Syria’s reconstruction, is as important as the military efforts to restoring stability in Syria, and striking and fighting terrorism.

Question 3:  So, can we ask about the concrete measures that are being taken by the Syrian government in order to attract investors coming from China and other friendly countries?

President Assad:  The first thing an investor needs is security.  When we talk about a country coming out of war: we have achieved great milestones in this respect, but we are not completely finished.  The first question an investor asks is about security, this is what we are doing on a daily basis – fighting terrorists and liberating areas one by one.

As to the investment environment, there are requirements any investor would need, regardless of whether there is a war or not.  In this regard, we are focusing on two things:  the urgent, which is improving this investment environment by addressing necessary measures, like transparency, clarity on investors’ rights and obligations in the country and the legal or judicial aspects of their investments.  With all these issues, we are currently drawing up clear guidelines for investors.

However, the more important and comprehensive step is the investment law.  We have achieved significant progress in developing our investment law in-line with similar laws in many other countries around the world, thus ensuring it is based on international investment standards.

This law clearly identifies the guarantees given to investors concerning their investment in Syria:  legal guarantees, financial guarantees, exemptions clearly laid out, the tax situation for their investments – and any other aspects which constitute a guarantee to ensure that this investment is completely safe and profitable.  We are now in the final stages of this law and it will be passed soon.

Question 4:  Well, Mr. President, are there specific measures taken to ensure the existence of a safe investment environment which assure Chinese investors to come and not face any security problems?  Chinese investors are very concerned about this.President Assad:  That’s right, this is a serious challenge.  In fact, there are two challenges.  First, is the current lack of sufficient or effective financial channels between Syria and China for the transfer of money.  This is a real problem caused mainly by the sanctions.  A solution must be found if we want investors to come to Syria; a solution needs the engagement of relevant financial institutions from both countries, which requires discussion at a state level.  This is a major obstacle that needs to be overcome.

The second issue is the fear that many Chinese companies still have.  Today, there are companies which are willing to send experts to Syria.  This is important because many Syrian industries have started to show interest in the Chinese market, for example Syrian factories which buy their equipment from China.  Previously, Chinese experts had concerns about coming to Syria; this has recently started to improve, which is a new step.

However, when we talk about Chinese investment with Chinese capital, this needs more assurances; we must exert greater effort in this regard as a Syrian state and we hope the Chinese state with its relevant institutions – like the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, to encourage investors to come to Syria or at least to the areas which have become completely safe.  In this interview I confirm this and since you are in Syria, you are able to convey the true, unexaggerated picture about the extent of security achieved recently.

Intervention: So, the Syrian government guarantees security to all Chinese companies which might come to Syria, and that there is no problem in terms of safety?

President Assad:  Certainly.

Question 5:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the Belt and Road Initiative.  How do you see this initiative in general?

President Assad:  From a strategic perspective, it constitutes a worldwide transformation, a transformation in the nature of international relations.  If we look at the current situation in the world, we see that it is governed by Western attempts of domination, particularly on the part of the United States.  In the past during the Cold War, there was a period of conflict among states.  This conflict was based on the degree of dominance of each pole, particularly the Western pole over a group of states, in order to achieve its interests against the other pole.

Before that, World War II and the preceding period of full colonialization; states occupied other nations and wherever they did so, they defined the interests of those peoples under their domination.  In most cases there were no mutual interests; those peoples were enslaved by the more powerful states.

Today, we see that there is a superpower – China, trying to strengthen its influence in the world. But what kind of influence?  It is not the negative influence we have become accustomed to, but rather an influence in the sense of relying on friends and an influence based on mutual interests.  When we in Syria think about being part of the Silk Road and Syria is a small country – by international, geographic, demographic, economic and military standards…

Intervention: But historically, it is on the Silk Road.

President Assad:  It is exactly on the Silk Road, but what is more important is that this new approach is derived from history but is suitable for the 21st century; it is an approach built on parity.  When we are part of this Road, China treats us as equals and not as a superpower dealing with a small country.  There are mutual interests: it is beneficial to China, Syria and all the countries on this Road.

Another aspect, is that it is not limited to China’s bilateral relations with these countries but rather it is a relationship among all the countries on this axis.  So, it is a relationship of culture and civilization which ultimately leads to greater prosperity and investment, and the improvement of the social, economic and security conditions in these countries.  This means more stability in the world, which is contrary to what we have known in our modern and recent history.  This is what we see in the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative): stability and prosperity.

Question 6:  Syria, for its part, expressed its desire to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative.  Are there any developments in this regard?

President Assad:  During the previous period, and especially in the early years of the war due to the instability, it wasn’t our priority.  Perhaps because it didn’t make sense to talk about infrastructure when you are in a state of life or death, not as individuals but as a homeland, as a nation – Syria.

Now that we have overcome this stage and with the increased stability and the improvement of the economic cycle in Syria, we have started this year a serious dialogue with the Chinese government on how Syria can become part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative).  At present Syria is not on the route; there are different routes and Syria is not on them.  However, part of the initiative includes cultural, educational and scientific domains, and through the direct relationship between us and China, there has been a large number – which has increased in recent years – of scholarships offered to Syria that we are benefitting from.  The discussions have recently started concerning infrastructure, which is one of the most important elements and could make Syria a part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) in the future.  We have proposed a number of projects only a few months ago.

Intervention:  In specific areas.

President Assad:  Of course.  In areas related to infrastructure, we have proposed around six projects to the Chinese government in line with the Belt and Road methodology and we are waiting for the Chinese government to determine which project, or projects, is in line with their thinking.  I think when this infrastructure is developed, with time, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Syria becomes a foregone conclusion, because it is not a road you only draw on a map.  Whilst it is true that historically the Silk Road passed through Syria, Iraq and this region, today however, this initiative takes into account the available infrastructure required for these routes.  Therefore, by establishing, strengthening, and developing this infrastructure, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) will pass through Syria in the future.Question 7:  Do you think that Syria has now become ready, security-wise, to be part of this initiative?Syria, The View From The Other Side

President Assad:  Precisely, because we are ready security-wise, we have started discussions with our Chinese friends.  Before that, it wasn’t logically or practically possible to initiate such a dialogue.

Question 8:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the situation in America.  The United States holds presidential elections next year.  If Trump is not reelected for a new presidential term, would that failure, in your opinion, be useful to Syria or not?

President Assad:  In one of my interviews, I referred to Trump as being the best because he is the most transparent.  Of course, being the best doesn’t mean that he is good; but transparency is a good thing especially that when it comes to Western politics because we have become accustomed to masks which hide real Western intentions regarding the world.

However at the same time, we need to realise that the American political system is not a state system in the sense that we understand.  It is a system comprised of lobbies.  The rulers of America are the money lobbies, whether in the form of oil, weapons, banks, or others. These lobbies control all parts of American politics.

When Trump tried to be independent, albeit in a very limited degree, the attack against him started.  We are now witnessing the impeachment process aimed at bringing the President back into line with the lobbies.  All the presidents we have dealt with in Syria, from Nixon in 1974 – when relations with America were restored, up to Trump today are controlled by these lobbies.   No matter how much good will any president has, he cannot act outside the policies of these lobbies.  Therefore, betting on the change of presidents is misplaced and unrealistic and I don’t think that this American policy will change in the next few years.  That’s why during the election campaign, they say one thing and once they are elected, they do the complete opposite.  For those reasons in Syria we never consider which American president comes and which one leaves.

Intervention:  In this context, I pose the question: after the American president announced his intention to withdraw American forces from Syria, he suddenly backtracked and said that he will leave American troops in Syria in order to protect oil wells in the area east of the Euphrates.  So, he suddenly takes a decision, and then goes back on it.

President Assad:  Exactly, what you are saying confirms my point that the lobbies are the ones in charge of the policies.  It also confirms that this state is not governed by principles, but rather by the interests of those companies; if they have an interest in occupying the oil wells, stealing and selling them one way or another, then this state and this regime will act in favor of these companies, regardless of international law and regardless of American law.  They violate American laws for the sake of these companies because if they don’t make them happy, the president might be impeached.

Question 9:  Mr. President, what is the number of the remaining American troops on Syrian territories now?

President Assad:  The funny thing in American politics is that they announce the number between thousands and hundreds.  When they say thousands: it is to make the the pro-war lobby – particularly the arms companies, happy that they are in a state of war.  When they say hundreds: they are addressing the people who oppose the war by saying that they are only “a few hundred.”  In actual fact, both figures are incorrect for a simple reason; even if these figures were correct, they are based on the number of American soldiers and not the number of individuals fighting with the American army.  The American regime relies significantly in its wars on private firms like Blackwater in Iraq and others.  So even if they had a few hundred American soldiers in Syria, they still also have thousands – maybe tens of thousands, of civilians working for such companies and fighting in Syria.  That’s why it is difficult to know the real number, but it is certainly in the thousands.

Question 10:  The Americans say that they will protect oil wells in the east of Euphrates area in Syria; but in the end, what are they going to do with the oil produced from those wells?

President Assad:  Before the Americans, in the early days Jabhat al-Nusra used these wells; after ISIScame and drove out al-Nusra – or rather when ISIS merged with al-Nusra and they all became ISIS, it also stole and sold oil.  Where? It used to sell it through Turkey.  Now America is the one stealing oil and selling it to Turkey.  Turkey is an accomplice, with all these groups, in selling oil; it doesn’t have a problem – Turkey is ready.  The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans.

Question 11:  In this situation, what is the impact on Syrian oil returns?

President Assad:  At a certain point at the beginning of the war, oil returns dropped to almost zero.  Today – after restoring a small number of wells during the past two years – we have a little amount of oil.  However, there is still limited positive impact on the Syrian economy from oil because most of the wells are either under the control of terrorist groups or groups acting outside the law and under American command.  So, the situation with the oil has not changed much.

Question 12:  Yes. So, how is the Syrian government going to face the question of American presence in the oil fields area east of the Euphrates?

President Assad:  First, the Americans rely on terrorists.   The terrorists must be attacked, this is a priority for us in Syria.  Striking the terrorists weakens the American presence one way or another.  At a later stage: there are Syrian groups acting under American command and these groups must be persuaded, one way or another and particularly through dialogue, that it is in all our interests in Syria that they embrace the homeland and join the Syrian state’s efforts to liberate all its territories.  At that point, it’s only natural that there will be no prospect for an American presence.  However, if they remained, they have their experience in Iraq to consider; there will be a popular resistance and they will pay the price.  Ultimately, the Americans will leave.

Question 13:  Mr. President, we have witnessed recently popular protests and riots in some neighboring countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, and even Iran.  In fact, these countries are considered, to a certain extent, Syria’s allies.  How do you view what happened and is happening in these countries?

President Assad:  Of course, neighboring countries have a direct impact on us because there are direct family and economic relations, as well as other types of relations that exist between any two neighboring countries.  At the same time, the Middle East as a whole is one area; the social fabric is similar, beliefs are similar and interests are intertwined even when these countries are not direct neighbors.

If we assume that the movements taking place aim to address the problems faced by the population and that they would lead to improving economic, political and other conditions in these countries, then I can say that the impact will be positive.

However, if we think logically, would the Western countries and in particular the United States, leave these countries to continue spontaneously?!  They would definitely interfere and would certainly exploit every movement in order to create chaos, because American policy – at least since 2000 and since the Iraq war – is to create chaos. This is what they called ‘constructive chaos;’ that is how George Bush and Condoleezza Rice referred to it.  This ‘constructive chaos’ which they are looking for, is a type of chaos that achieves their interests.  That’s why when this chaos takes place in our region, or in any other region, it will have a negative impact on us.  Chaos is contagious, it’s like a disease, it spreads; so, we can only hope that these events remain in the internal, spontaneous, popular framework.

Question 14:  Would it be possible to say that one should look for an American role wherever there is chaos?

President Assad:  This is self-evident and has become well-known throughout the world.  What is the difference between the policies of superpowers: America, and those who stand with it – like France and Britain, believe or think – which we see as wrong but they see as right – that the interests of these countries or this axis, lies in creating chaos; whereas Russia, China and most other countries believe that stability and international law are in the best interest of the world and its states, big or small.

Journalist:  Mr. President, thank you very much for availing us this opportunity and we wish you continued success and progress.

President Assad:  Thank you and I also thank Phoenix Television for this interview.

Journalist:  Thank you very much.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on Syria’s President Assad Discusses Syria’s Reconstruction, China’s “Belt and Road” and US Aggression ‘Video’

The Child that Christmas Forgot: How Would Jesus Fare in the American Police State?

By John W. Whitehead

“Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts… We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”—The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

The Christmas story of a baby born in a manger is a familiar one.

The Roman Empire, a police state in its own right, had ordered that a census be conducted. Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary traveled to the little town of Bethlehem so that they could be counted. There being no room for the couple at any of the inns, they stayed in a stable (a barn), where Mary gave birth to a baby boy, Jesus. Warned that the government planned to kill the baby, Jesus’ family fled with him to Egypt until it was safe to return to their native land.

Yet what if Jesus had been born 2,000 years later?

What if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, Jesus had been born at this moment in time? What kind of reception would Jesus and his family be given? Would we recognize the Christ child’s humanity, let alone his divinity? Would we treat him any differently than he was treated by the Roman Empire? If his family were forced to flee violence in their native country and sought refuge and asylum within our borders, what sanctuary would we offer them?

A singular number of churches across the country are asking those very questions, and their conclusions are being depicted with unnerving accuracy by nativity scenes in which Jesus and his family are separated, segregated and caged in individual chain-link pens, topped by barbed wire fencing.

These nativity scenes are a pointed attempt to remind the modern world that the narrative about the birth of Jesus is one that speaks on multiple fronts to a world that has allowed the life, teachings and crucifixion of Jesus to be drowned out by partisan politics, secularism, materialism and war.

The modern-day church has largely shied away from applying Jesus’ teachings to modern problems such as war, poverty, immigration, etc., but thankfully there have been individuals throughout history who ask themselves and the world: what would Jesus do?

What would Jesus—the baby born in Bethlehem who grew into an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day (namely, the Roman Empire) but spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire—do?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked himself what Jesus would have done about the horrors perpetrated by Hitler and his assassins. The answer: Bonhoeffer risked his life to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn asked himself what Jesus would have done about the soul-destroying gulags and labor camps of the Soviet Union. The answer: Solzhenitsyn found his voice and used it to speak out about government oppression and brutality.

Martin Luther King Jr. asked himself what Jesus would have done about America’s warmongering. The answer: declaring “my conscience leaves me no other choice,” King risked widespread condemnation when he publicly opposed the Vietnam War on moral and economic grounds.

Even now, despite the popularity of the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) in Christian circles, there remains a disconnect in the modern church between the teachings of Christ and the suffering of what Jesus in Matthew 25 refers to as the “least of these.”

As the parable states:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

This is not a theological gray area: Jesus was unequivocal about his views on many things, not the least of which was charity, compassion, war, tyranny and love.

After all, Jesus—the revered preacher, teacher, radical and prophet—was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. When he grew up, he had powerful, profound things to say, things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings.Jesus Was Born in a Police State

Image result for jesus crucified"

When confronted by those in authority, Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth to power. Indeed, his teachings undermined the political and religious establishment of his day. It cost him his life. He was eventually crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be.

Can you imagine what Jesus’ life would have been like if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, he had been born and raised in the American police state?

Consider the following if you will.

Had Jesus been born in the era of the America police state, rather than traveling to Bethlehem for a census, Jesus’ parents would have been mailed a 28-page American Community Survey, a mandatory government questionnaire documenting their habits, household inhabitants, work schedule, how many toilets are in your home, etc. The penalty for not responding to this invasive survey can go as high as $5,000.

Instead of being born in a manger, Jesus might have been born at home. Rather than wise men and shepherds bringing gifts, however, the baby’s parents might have been forced to ward off visits from state social workers intent on prosecuting them for the home birth. One couple in Washington had all three of their children removed after social services objected to the two youngest being birthed in an unassisted home delivery.

Had Jesus been born in a hospital, his blood and DNA would have been taken without his parents’ knowledge or consent and entered into a government biobank. While most states require newborn screening, a growing number are holding onto that genetic material long-term for research, analysis and purposes yet to be disclosed.

Then again, had Jesus’ parents been undocumented immigrants, they and the newborn baby might have been shuffled to a profit-driven, private prison for illegals where they first would have been separated from each other, the children detained in make-shift cages, and the parents eventually turned into cheap, forced laborers for corporations such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret. There’s quite a lot of money to be made from imprisoning immigrants, especially when taxpayers are footing the bill.

From the time he was old enough to attend school, Jesus would have been drilled in lessons of compliance and obedience to government authorities, while learning little about his own rights. Had he been daring enough to speak out against injustice while still in school, he might have found himself tasered or beaten by a school resource officer, or at the very least suspended under a school zero tolerance policy that punishes minor infractions as harshly as more serious offenses.

Had Jesus disappeared for a few hours let alone days as a 12-year-old, his parents would have been handcuffed, arrested and jailed for parental negligence. Parents across the country have been arrested for far less “offenses” such as allowing their children to walk to the park unaccompanied and play in their front yard alone.

Rather than disappearing from the history books from his early teenaged years to adulthood, Jesus’ movements and personal data—including his biometrics—would have been documented, tracked, monitored and filed by governmental agencies and corporations such as Google and Microsoft. Incredibly, 95 percent of school districts share their student records with outside companies that are contracted to manage data, which they then use to market products to us.

From the moment Jesus made contact with an “extremist” such as John the Baptist, he would have been flagged for surveillance because of his association with a prominent activist, peaceful or otherwise. Since 9/11, the FBI has actively carried out surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations on a broad range of activist groups, from animal rights groups to poverty relief, anti-war groups and other such “extremist” organizations.

Jesus’ anti-government views would certainly have resulted in him being labeled a domestic extremist. Law enforcement agencies are being trained to recognize signs of anti-government extremism during interactions with potential extremists who share a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

While traveling from community to community, Jesus might have been reported to government officials as “suspicious” under the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” programs. Many states, including New York, are providing individuals with phone apps that allow them to take photos of suspicious activity and report them to their state Intelligence Center, where they are reviewed and forwarded to law-enforcement agencies.

Rather than being permitted to live as an itinerant preacher, Jesus might have found himself threatened with arrest for daring to live off the grid or sleeping outside. In fact, the number of cities that have resorted to criminalizing homelessness by enacting bans on camping, sleeping in vehicles, loitering and begging in public has doubled.

Viewed by the government as a dissident and a potential threat to its power, Jesus might have had government spies planted among his followers to monitor his activities, report on his movements, and entrap him into breaking the law. Such Judases today—called informants—often receive hefty paychecks from the government for their treachery.

Had Jesus used the internet to spread his radical message of peace and love, he might have found his blog posts infiltrated by government spies attempting to undermine his integrity, discredit him or plant incriminating information online about him. At the very least, he would have had his website hacked and his email monitored.

Had Jesus attempted to feed large crowds of people, he would have been threatened with arrest for violating various ordinances prohibiting the distribution of food without a permit. Florida officials arrested a 90-year-old man for feeding the homeless on a public beach.

Had Jesus spoken publicly about his 40 days in the desert and his conversations with the devil, he might have been labeled mentally ill and detained in a psych ward against his will for a mandatory involuntary psychiatric hold with no access to family or friends. One Virginia man was arrested, strip searched, handcuffed to a table, diagnosed as having “mental health issues,” and locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait.

Without a doubt, had Jesus attempted to overturn tables in a Jewish temple and rage against the materialism of religious institutions, he would have been charged with a hate crime. Currently, 45 states and the federal government have hate crime laws on the books.

Had anyone reported Jesus to the police as being potentially dangerous, he might have found himself confronted—and killed—by police officers for whom any perceived act of non-compliance (a twitch, a question, a frown) can result in them shooting first and asking questions later.

Rather than having armed guards capture Jesus in a public place, government officials would have ordered that a SWAT team carry out a raid on Jesus and his followers, complete with flash-bang grenades and military equipment. There are upwards of 80,000 such SWAT team raids carried out every year, many on unsuspecting Americans who have no defense against such government invaders, even when such raids are done in error.

Instead of being detained by Roman guards, Jesus might have been made to “disappear” into a secret government detention center where he would have been interrogated, tortured and subjected to all manner of abuses. Chicago police have “disappeared” more than 7,000 people into a secret, off-the-books interrogation warehouse at Homan Square.

Charged with treason and labeled a domestic terrorist, Jesus might have been sentenced to a life-term in a private prison where he would have been forced to provide slave labor for corporations or put to death by way of the electric chair or a lethal mixture of drugs.

Indeed, as I show in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, given the nature of government then and now, it is painfully evident that whether Jesus had been born in our modern age or his own, he still would have died at the hands of a police state.

Thus, as we draw near to Christmas with its celebrations and gift-giving, we would do well to remember that what happened on that starry night in Bethlehem is only part of the story. That baby in the manger grew up to be a man who did not turn away from evil but instead spoke out against it, and we must do no less.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Child that Christmas Forgot: How Would Jesus Fare in the American Police State?

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