Archive | July, 2018

‘Putin’s War on America’ Is Nothing Compared With America’s War on Democracy


Missing from this media hysteria is the question of who will protect U.S. elections and purported “democracy” from the unmentionable malign influence of U.S. oligarch

"It was as if Trump had let Russia-mad MSNBC and CNN craft the Helsinki news conference and write his lines for him." (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

“It was as if Trump had let Russia-mad MSNBC and CNN craft the Helsinki news conference and write his lines for him.” (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

The noted North Korean political commentator Kim Jong Un got it right last year: Donald Trump is a “mentally deranged dotard.”

Consider the U.S. president’s bizarre performance next to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last Monday.

Asked about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President Trump said this: “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

He continued: “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Talk about walking into your enemy’s wheelhouse. Trump looked, acted and sounded like a big floppy and supine plaything of his smirking Russian master. It was surreal.

I’m no fan of “Russiagate” and never have been. But it was as if Trump had let Russia-mad MSNBC and CNN craft the Helsinki news conference and write his lines for him.

The response from the U.S. corporate media minus Fox News was swift, harsh and unremitting. Cable news went wild. Its talking heads (except for Trump State Television/Fox) were unanimous: A “treasonous” Trump had “thrown his own country”—with “country” understood to mean the U.S. “intelligence” (spying and subversion) apparatus—“under the bus” and “sided with the enemy instead.

A sour POTUS had to reluctantly walk his comments back the next day, awkwardly claiming that he’d really meant to say, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be.”

Right. I lied more convincingly than that in second grade.

Does Putin have the dirty photos after all? Does Trump have a late-life schoolboy crush on “strong and powerful” Vlad? Or on the related binding powers of head-of-state authoritarianism and senior white maleness? Political power envy? Bicep envy? Trump’s knee-jerk revulsion at any suggestion that his “great victory” in the 2016 Electoral College was tainted? All or some of the above?

We can only guess about the real source(s) of Trump’s peculiar Putin jones at this point.

By contrast, I can say with full confidence that nothing Trump said Monday or Tuesday was as ridiculous as something I heard leading Democrat and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tell CNN the night of Trump’s Helsinki debacle.

“It is the role of the U.S. intelligence community,” Warner said to Anderson Cooper, “to speak truth to power.”

Read that again: “It is the role of the U.S. intelligence community to speak truth to power.”

Never mind that the FBI has long surveilled, hounded, harassed, oppressed, slandered, maimed and even murdered U.S. labor, civil rights, peace, social justice and environmental activists and leaders—people fighting concentrated wealth, privilege and power. The FBI’s long record of domestic police-state repression has continued to the present day, up through Occupy, the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock.

Never mind the CIA’s longstanding central role in the crushing and subversion of national independence and social justice movements, popular revolutions and democratically elected governments the world over. Or the CIA and FBI’s central role (current Russiagate investigator Robert Mueller’s having been a top player) in the creation of false intelligence pretexts for George W. Bush’s monumentally criminal, mass-murderous invasion of Iraq.

There was nothing close to the hint of a pushback against Warner’s idiotic statement from Cooper (a former CIA intern) or anyone else in the “mainstream media.” It doesn’t enter cable news’ talking heads’ minds to see the nation’s spying, surveillance and police state for what it is at its core: an instrument of class, racial and imperial oppression.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper could be heard on CNN using the same phrase—“speaking truth to power”—to describe the mission of “the intelligence community.”

Clapper was just one among dozens of former U.S. military and intelligence officials and experts—all proud agents and defenders of the American global empire and so-called capitalist democracy—paraded across the CNN and MSNBC sets to express horror at Trump and Russia.

The more Russia- and Trump-obsessed cable news I watched last week, the crazier it got. Things went really off the rails Wednesday night. That’s when MSNBC’s Russia-mad talk-show host Rachel Maddow leaped from reporting a ridiculous Sarah Huckabee Sanders comment on how the Trump White House was discussing whether to honor Putin’s request to hand over a former U.S. diplomat (Barack Obama’s Russian ambassador, Michael McFaul) for questioning in Russia (which would be a bizarre and astonishing development and was obviously never going to happen) to telling ordinary individual Americans that they could soon be at risk of being picked up by the White House and handed over to Russia to be killed by Putin (or “other foreign dictators”). Who was more wacky—White House press secretary Huckabee Sanders, for saying the White House was considering handing over a former U.S. ambassador to Russian authorities (something that was never going to occur), or Maddow, for telling everyday Americans that Trump may one day mark them for rendition to Russia at the behest of the Kremlin (also never going to occur)?

Cable news commentators also expressed concern for another “American” sought for questioning (and torture and murder, purportedly) by Putin: financial mogul Bill Browder, who happens, hilariously enough, to be the grandson of the former Soviet-captive U.S. Communist Party head Earl Browder. Putin’s interest has to do with tax disputes related to Browder’s onetime investments and “human rights” activism in Russia. Here’s a fun little fact about Bill Browder that wasn’t highlighted by MSNBC and CNN: The multimillionaire “American” renounced his U.S. citizenship and “re-domiciled” to England in 1998 to avoid paying U.S. taxes on foreign investments. It’s hard to imagine the Boston patriots of 1773 forming a Tea Party in defense of the “great American” Bill Browder.

Speaking on behalf of power—imperial power in this case—nothing Trump said Monday and Tuesday was quite as absurd as the undisputed condemnation U.S. corporate news talking heads and pundits heaped on Trump for saying in Helsinki that he held “both countries responsible” for the decline in U.S.-Russia relations. “I think we’re all to blame,” Trump said.

Outraged U.S. media authorities fell over themselves to express shock and horror at this “Orwellian” statement of “false equivalency.” CNN and MSDNC (I mean MSNBC) likened it to the white-supremacist Trump’s deservedly infamous comments likening so-called “alt-left” civil rights protesters to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., last August.

In historical reality, as the “mainstream” U.S. media would never acknowledge, Trump’s “both countries responsible” comment understated Washington’s primary culpability in the rise of the “new,” that is, post-Soviet, U.S.-Russia Cold War. The record of imperial U.S. aggression and provocation is clear to anyone who pays remotely serious attention to the record of the recent past:

  • President Bill Clinton’s decision to annul a 1990 agreement with Moscow not to push the North Atlantic Treaty Organization farther east after the reunification of Germany and not to recruit Eastern European states that had been part of the Soviet-ruled Warsaw Pact.
  • Widespread U.S. interference in Russian electoral politics and civil society—including brazen U.S. intervention in Russia’s pivotal 1996 presidential election—before, during and ever since the collapse of Soviet socialism.
  • U.S.-led NATO’s decisions to renege on its 1997 pledge not to install “permanent” and “significant” military forces in former Soviet bloc nations and to place four battalions on and near the Russian border.
  • The 1999 U.S.-NATO military intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, leading to the dismemberment of Serbia and the building of a giant U.S. military base in the NATO- and U.S.-created state of Kosovo. (That recent history has hardly prevented Washington from shaming Russia for “forcibly redrawing borders in Europe” by annexing Crimea.)
  • President George W. Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • President Obama’s decision to deploy anti-missile systems (supposedly aimed at Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons and really meant to intercept Russian missiles) in Romania and Poland.
  • Obama’s decision to invest more than $1 trillion on an upgrade of the U.S, nuclear weapons arsenal, which was already well enough stocked to blow up the world 50 times over. The upgrade continues under Trump. It involves “strategic” bombs with smaller yields, something that dangerously blurs the lines between conventional and nuclear weapons. It has helped spark a new nuclear arms race with Russia and, perhaps, China.
  • Longstanding U.S. efforts “to move Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit and integrate it into the West” (to quote U.S. foreign relations scholar John Mearsheimer).
  • U.S. provocation and endorsement of a right-wing 2014 coup against the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, on Russia’s repeatedly invaded western border—a development that constituted a severe national security threat to Russia and predictably created war in eastern Ukraine and a crisis that led to numerous dangerous incidents between NATO and Russian forces.
  • Washington’s constant self-righteous denunciation of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, a thoroughly predictable Russian response to the United States’ installation of a right-wing and heavily neo-Nazi-affiliated, pro-NATO and anti-Russian government in Kiev, Ukraine.

“NATO leaders,” American political writer Diana Johnstone stated in June 2014, “feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified ‘Russian aggression.’ The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.”

One does not have to be a fan of Vladimir Putin or a left critic of U.S. imperialism (guilty here) to understand the nationalist logic behind the Russian president’s concerns with U.S. and Western aggression—and the popularity of Putin’s resistance to that aggression among millions of Russians fed up with decades of national humiliation by the West.

As the mainstream “realist” Mearsheimer argued in a 2014 article—“Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault”—published in the establishment Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, Putin reasonably viewed Washington’s commitment to NATO expansion and NATO’s U.S.-led recruitment of Ukraine as “a direct threat to Russia’s core interests … [and] who can blame him?” Mearsheimer asked, adding that “the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying forces anywhere in the Western hemisphere, much less on its borders.”

“We need not ask,” Noam Chomsky wrote two years ago, “how the United States would have reacted had the countries of Latin America joined the Warsaw Pact, with plans for Mexico and Canada to join as well. The merest hint of the first tentative steps in that direction would have been ‘terminated with extreme prejudice,’ to adopt the CIA lingo.”

An honest look at the history of U.S. and Western aggression in Eastern Europe and, well, meddling in Russia itself, suggests plenty of reasons why Russia would have wanted some say in the 2016 U.S. election—and why it would have preferred a bizarre “isolationist” NATO critic with a long and strange personal and financial history with Russia (Trump) over a committed Russia-hating, NATO-expansionist and global imperialist like Hillary Clinton.

If you don’t want other countries messing, or trying to mess, with your nation’s internal politics, then don’t mess with theirs—and don’t set up armies and hostile regimes on their borders. The United States, which maintains more than 800 military bases spread across more than 100 “sovereign” nations, regularly interferes in the internal affairs—including elections—of the other states and societies.

A final preposterous thing that “mainstream” U.S. news media has been repeating over and over in the last several days is the charge that “Russia tried to undermine our democracy.” In three days of informal but regular monitoring of CNN and MSNBC, I heard that phrase or some variation of it (including “Russia waged war on our democracy”) at least 30 times.

To what “American democracy” are they referring? University of Kentucky history department chair Ronald Formisano’s latest book is titled “American Oligarchy: The Permanence of the Political Class” (University of Illinois, 2017). By Formisano’s detailed account, U.S. politics and policy are under the control of a “permanent political class”—a “networked layer of high-income people,” including congressional representatives (half of whom are millionaires), elected officials, campaign funders, lobbyists, consultants, appointed bureaucrats, pollsters, television celebrity journalists, university presidents and executives at well-funded nonprofit institutions. This “permanent political class,” Formisano finds, is taking the nation “beyond [mere] plutocracy” to “the hegemony of an aristocracy of inherited wealth.” The super-opulent moneyed elite it minds and apes is a product of U.S. history and has nothing to do with Russia.

Formisano is just one of many distinguished and mainstream American thinkers who understands that the U.S. is simply not a democracy. (Even some conservative elites like the veteran federal jurist and economist Richard Posner concede this basic reality.) As the distinguished liberal political scientists Benjamin Page (Northwestern) and Martin Gilens (Princeton) showed in their expertly researched book “Democracy in America?” last year:

[T]he best evidence indicates that the wishes of ordinary Americans actually have had little or no impact on the making of federal government policy. Wealthy individuals and organized interest groups—especially business corporations—have had much more political clout. When they are taken into account, it becomes apparent that the general public has been virtually powerless. … The will of majorities is often thwarted by the affluent and the well-organized, who block popular policy proposals and enact special favors for themselves. … Majorities of Americans favor … programs to help provide jobs, increase wages, help the unemployed, provide universal medical insurance, ensure decent retirement pensions, and pay for such programs with progressive taxes. Most Americans also want to cut ‘corporate welfare.’ Yet the wealthy, business groups, and structural gridlock have mostly blocked such new policies [and programs].

We get to vote? Big deal. An “unelected dictatorship of money” (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson) reigns nonetheless in the United States, where, Page and Gilens find, “government policy … reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”

But, OK, so how significant was “Russian interference” in tipping the 2016 election to one of the money-vetted capitalist candidates (Trump) over the other one (Clinton)? Russia’s impact on the outcome was negligible. An important source here is the brilliant political scientist and money and politics analyst Thomas Ferguson’s study (co-authored with Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen), “Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election” (Institute for New Economic Thinking, January 2018). Ferguson finds that Russia’s sway over the contest was (no surprise for serious analysts) tiny compared with that of the homegrown U.S. corporate and financial oligarchs who sit atop “America, the Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”

The billionaire rentier-capitalist Trump used his own personal fortune to leap over his more traditional Wall Street Republican competitors—absurdly posing as a champion of the forgotten “heartland” working class—in the 2016 presidential primaries. To win the general election, however, he depended on a remarkable influx of big campaign cash from dodgy right-wing U.S. billionaires and equity capitalists in the late summer and fall of 2016. Even more significant, perhaps, was Clinton’s remarkable, record-setting funding by big financial and other business interests (including corporate sectors that normally supported Republicans but came over to the Democrats’ side thanks largely to candidate Trump’s declared protectionism and isolationism) that helped create the dismal centrist awfulness and deafening policy silence of Clinton’s miserable campaign.

“Putin’s war on America” was nothing compared with the American ruling class’ war on America when it comes to the inside story of how “American democracy” was pre-empted as usual by big money (among other and related vectors of concentrated wealth) during the last great quadrennial electoral extravaganza.

Russia did not make Hillary Clinton into one of the worst political candidates ever to disgrace the campaign podium. (I saw her quite a few times in Iowa in 2007. She had less charisma and inspiration than any other politician I’d ever seen.)

Russia didn’t turn her into an elitist, right-wing, Walmart-and-Wall Street neoliberal corporatist. Yale Law, the corporate and financial “elite,” the plutocratic U.S. party and elections system, the Democratic Leadership Council, and Clinton’s own craven wealth- and power-worship did that all on their homegrown own, no help from Moscow required, long before 2016

Russia didn’t make the “lying, neoliberal warmonger” Clinton avoid real policy issues to an astonishing degree (more than any major party presidential candidate in recent history) during the 2016 general election campaign.

Russia didn’t make the Clinton campaign decide to run almost solely on candidate quality and character when its own unpopular candidate was highly vulnerable on precisely those “issues.”

Russia did not make Clinton fail to buy ads in Michigan and fail to set foot in Wisconsin after the Democratic National Convention.

Russia didn’t create the massive economic inequality and insecurity and bipartisan corporatism and parasitic state-capitalist globalism that Trump was able to exploit—with no small help from Steve Bannon, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and the Mercer family—in 2016.

Russia didn’t make the Clinton machine and the Democratic National Committee collude to rig the 2016 primaries and Democratic National Convention against Bernie Sanders, who likely would have defeated Trump in the general election.

Should there be an investigation of Hillary Clinton as a Russia asset?

After Trump’s pathetic Helsinki debacle, U.S. cable news talking heads were agog with claims that “malign Russia”—“America’s ruthless adversary”—has been waiting for the conclusion of the World Cup to unleash new assaults on Western and U.S. “democracy,” understood to mean upcoming Western and U.S. elections. What, they ask, are federal, state and local governments doing to “protect our elections and democracy” from the “malign influence of Russia”

Strangely, yet predictably—since corporate media personalities are themselves parts of Formisano’s American oligarchy—missing from this media hysteria is the question of who will protect U.S. elections and purported “democracy” from the unmentionable malign influence of U.S. oligarchs. They sit atop a New Gilded Age in which the top 10th of the upper 1 percent owns as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90 percent, and three absurdly rich people (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett) possess among them the same net worth as the nation’s poorest half. “We must make our choice,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said in 1941: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

That’s a timeworn problem in the United States and indeed across the supposedly democratic capitalist world. If you want to blame the horrible authoritarian consequences of that core contradiction on Russia and its supposed “asset” Donald Trump, then you are an even bigger idiot or cynic than the dotard’s own dumb self.

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Did you catch this Jimmy Dore episode?

His guest was Nellie McKay.

Besides being a wonderful singer she is progressive to the bone and very articulate about it.

One of Jimmy’s best shows.

She’s a good solo performer, but you should hear her on piano or when she’s backed band. A first class singer and musician.

From the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert series

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‘God Only Knows’: The Tortured, Killed, or Forcibly Disappeared People of Yemen


US citizens bear responsibility for the US government’s support of these crimes

"To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war."(Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

“To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war.”(Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

“If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like.”

In July of 2018, an Amnesty International report entitled “God Knows If He’s Alive,”documented the plight of dozens of families in southern Yemen whose loved ones have been tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared by Yemeni security forces reporting to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that, with vital US support, has been bombarding and blockading famine and disease-ravaged Yemen for three brutal years. The disappearances, and torture, can sadly be laid at the doorstep of the United States.

The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that, with vital US support, has been bombarding and blockading famine and disease-ravaged Yemen for three brutal years. The disappearances, and torture, can sadly be laid at the doorstep of the United States.

One testimonial after another echoes the sentiments of a woman whose husband has been held incommunicado for more than two years. “Shouldn’t they be given a trial?” she asked. “Why else are there courts? They shouldn’t be disappeared this way – not only are we unable to visit them, we don’t even know if they are dead or alive.”

The report describes bureaucratic farces in which families beg for information about their loved ones’ whereabouts from Yemeni prosecutors and prison officials, but the families’ pleas for information are routinely met with silence or intimidation.

The families are appealing to an unelected Yemeni exile government whose president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, (when “elected” president in 2012, he was the only candidate) generally resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UAE has, so far, supported Hadi’s claim to govern Yemen. However, the Prosecutor General of Hadi’s government, as well as other officials, told Amnesty International the government of Yemen has no control over operations “spearheaded by the UAE and implemented by the Yemeni forces it backs.”

When months and years pass and families of people who are missing still have no news about their loved ones, some try to communicate unofficially with prison guards or with former detainees who have been released from various detention sites. They repeatedly hear stories about torture of detainees and rumors about prisoners who died in custody.

The Amnesty report implicates UAE-backed local forces in Yemen, as well as the UAE military, in the crimes of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Of seven former or current detainees interviewed by Amnesty, five said they were subjected to these abuses. “All seven witnessed other detainees being tortured,” the report adds, “including one who said he saw a detainee held in a cell next to him being carried away in a body bag after he had been repeatedly tortured.”

In June 2017, Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press exposed a network of clandestine prisons operated by the UAE in Yemen. Their reports described ghastly torture inflicted on prisoners and noted that senior US military leaders knew about torture allegations. Yet, a year later, there has been no investigation of these allegations by the Yemeni government, by the UAE, or by the UAE’s most powerful ally in the Yemen war, the United States.

“It is shocking, to say the least,” the Amnesty report states, “that one year after a network of secret prisons operated by the UAE and the Yemeni forces it backs was exposed, these facilities continue to operate and that there has not been a serious investigation undertaken into credibly documented violations, including systemic torture in custody.” The Amnesty report calls on the US to “facilitate independent oversight, including by the US Congress, over US military or intelligence cooperation with Yemeni and UAE forces involved in detention activities in Yemen.” It further calls for investigating any involvement of US military or intelligence personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen.

To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war.

Since March of 2015, a coalition of nine countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and relying on crucial U.S. logistical aid, has bombarded Yemen while blockading its major port, despite Yemen’s status as one of the poorest countries in the world. Targeting transportation, electrical plants, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools, mosques, weddings and funerals, the vicious bombing has led to starvation, displacement, and the spread of disease including cholera.

On the same day that the Amnesty report was released, Saudi Arabia’s King Salmanpardoned “all military men, who have taken part in the Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties, in regard of some rules and disciplines.” It seems likely that the Amnesty report precipitated this royal decree.

Ending arms sales to the UAE and Saudi monarchies, supported by both sides of the aisle, will signal to the UAE and Saudi Arabia the US will no longer assist their efforts to prolong war and siege in Yemen.

Along with three countries in North Africa’s “Sahel” desert region, Yemen has been cited as part of the worst famine crisis in the 70-year history of the UN. In the past three years of aerial and naval attacks, Yemen’s key port of Hodeidah has remained partially or fully closed despite the country’s vital need for relief supplies. And, while Yemenis suffer the chaos and despair characteristic of war, the Saudis and UAE refer to the war as “Operation Restoring Hope.”

Many thousands of Yemenis, subjected to consistent bombing and threats of starvation and famine, have fled their homes. Many seek refuge out of Yemen. For instance, close to 500 Yemenis have traveled nearly 500 miles to reach a visa-free port on South Korea’s Jeju Island. On July 21, during an international phone call hosted by young friends in Afghanistan, listeners heard Kaia, a resident of Jeju Island, describe the “Hope School.” She explained how she and several other young people are trying to help welcome Yemenis now living in their village of Gangjeong. The young people are already committed to peacefully resisting U.S. and South Korean military destruction of their shoreline and ecosystem. Now, they have started an informal school so Yemeni and South Korean residents can learn from one another. Small groups gather for conversational exchanges translated from Arabic to English to Korean. Many South Koreans can recall, in their own familial history, that seven million Koreans fled Japanese occupation of their land. Their Korean forebears relied on hospitality from people in other lands. The Catholic Bishop of the Jeju diocese, Monsignor Kang Woo-il, called on Koreans to embrace Yemeni refugees, labeling it a crime against human morality to shut the door on refugees and migrants.

Kaia’s account of the newly launched school describes an effort that truthfully involves restoring hope. The cynical designation of Saudi and UAE led war in Yemen as “Operation Restoring Hope” creates an ugly smokescreen that distracts from the crucial need to investigate war crimes committed in Yemen today.

US citizens bear responsibility for the US government’s support of these crimes.

The Yemenis mean us no harm and have committed no crime against us. Congressional votes have come quite close, with bipartisan support, to ending US participation in and support for the Saudi and Emirati led Coalition war against Yemen. Ending arms sales to the UAE and Saudi monarchies, supported by both sides of the aisle, will signal to the UAE and Saudi Arabia the US will no longer assist their efforts to prolong war and siege in Yemen. On cue from the initiative and energy shown by young South Koreans, people in the US can and should organize campaigns to educate their communities, educational institutions, and media outlets about the plight of people in Yemen. Conscious of the nightmare faced by Yemenis whose husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have been disappeared or detained by shadowy military enforcers, US people can work toward implementing each recommendation in Amnesty’s devastating report.

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Action Alert: It’s Been Over a Year Since MSNBC Has Mentioned US War in Yemen


Why is the No. 1 outlet of alleged anti-Trump #resistance completely ignoring his most devastating war?

“MSNBC chat show/Starbucks commercial Morning Joe did run one segment that vaguely mentioned the war on Yemen, but failed to note the U.S.’s role in it at all, much less that Washington is arming and backing the conflict’s primary aggressor,” Johnson writes. (Photo: VOA/Screengrab)

As FAIR has noted before (1/8/18, 3/20/18), to MSNBC, the carnage and destruction the US and its Gulf Monarchy allies are leveling against the poorest country in the Arab world is simply a non-issue.

On July 2, a year had passed since the cable network’s last segment mentioning US participation in the war on Yemen, which has killed in excess of 15,000 people and resulted in over a million cases of cholera. The US is backing a Saudi-led bombing campaign with intelligence, refueling, political cover, military hardware and, as of March, ground troops. None of this matters at all to what Adweek (4/3/18) calls “the network of the Resistance,” which has since its last mention of the US’s role in the destruction of Yemen found time to run over a dozen segments highlighting war crimes committed by the Syrian and Russian governments in Syria.

By way of contrast, as MSNBC was marking a year without mentioning the US role in Yemen, the PBS NewsHour was running a three-part series on the war, with the second part (7/3/18) headlined, “American-Made Bombs in Yemen Are Killing Civilians, Destroying Infrastructure and Fueling Anger at the US.” The NewsHour’s Jane Ferguson reported:

The aerial bombing campaign has not managed to dislodge the rebels, but has hit weddings, hospitals and homes. The US military supports the Saudi coalition with logistics and intelligence. The United States it also sells the Saudis and coalition partners many of the bombs they drop on Yemen.

MSNBC chat show/Starbucks commercial Morning Joe did run one segment (4/25/18) that vaguely mentioned the war on Yemen, but failed to note the US’s role in it at all, much less that Washington is arming and backing the conflict’s primary aggressor. Instead, they did the perverse inversion––previously mastered by Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl (FAIR.org6/27/17)—of not only ignoring the US’s major role in killing thousands, but painting the US as a noble haven for refugees. The schlocky segment, an interview with writer Mohammed Al Samawi, was a shallow mixture of “interfaith” pablum, poverty porn and self-congratulations to the US for taking in refugees (without, of course, acknowledging that they’re seeking refuge from a crisis the US has created).

For a bit more context, in the time period of July 3, 2017, to July 3, 2018, MSNBCdedicated zero segments to the US’s war in Yemen, but 455 segments to Stormy Daniels. This isn’t to suggest the Stormy Daniels matter isn’t newsworthy—presidential corruption is per se important. But one has to wonder if this particular thread of venality is 455 stories more important than Trump aggressively supporting a war that’s killing hundreds of people a month, injuring thousands, and subjecting millions to famine and cholera. Did MSNBC editors, poring over the latest academic foreign policy literature, really come to the conclusion Trump’s war in Yemen isn’t important? Or is MSNBC simply fueled by partisan Russia dot-connecting and stories that allow them to say “porn star” as much as possible?

What seems most likely is MSNBC has found that attacking Russia form the right on matters of foreign policy is the most elegant way to preserve its “progressive” image while still serving traditional centers of power—namely, the Democratic Party establishment, corporate sponsors, and their own revolving door of ex-spook and military contractor-funded talking heads (3/26/18). After all, Obama backed the war on Yemen—though not nearly as aggressively as Trump has—and it’s difficult to make a coherent left-wing, anti-war criticism when the current Republican in office is simply carrying out your guy’s policy, but on steroids.

In any event, it’s not like any Yemenis are going to pull ads, turn down appearances, or phone Comcast higher-ups complaining. So, who cares? To be poor and brown—to say nothing of not serving the immediate partisan interests of the Democratic party—is evidently to not matter much in the eyes of MSNBC producers and on-air talent.


Please tell MSNBC to pay serious attention to the US role in the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

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Africa – Where the Next US Oil Wars Will Be

The Black Alliance for Peace Demands U.S. Out of Africa

On Feb. 7 George Bush announced the formation of AFRICOM, a new Pentagon command which will, under the pretext of the so-called “Global War On Terror”, plan and execute its oil and resource wars on the African continent.  What does this mean to African Americans?  And to Africans?  BAR consults Prexy Nesbitt, an architect of the anti-apartheid struggles of the 70s and 80s


 “It’s about the oil. And the diamonds. And the coltan. But mostly about the oil.”

The Pentagon does not admit that a ring of permanent US military bases is operating or under construction throughout Africa.  But nobody doubts the American military buildup on the African continent is well underway.  From oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals have been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials.  They’ve conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.

Their new bases are not bases at all, according to US military officials.  They are instead “forward staging depots”, and “seaborne truck stops” for the equipment which American land forces need to operate on the African continent.  They are “protected anchorages” and offshore “lily pads ”  from which they intend to fight the next round of oil and resource wars, and lock down Africa’s oil and mineral wealth for decades to come.

BAR caught up with Chicago’s Prexy Nesbitt , one of the architects of the US anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s and ‘80s.  We asked Dr. Nesbitt about the importance to Africans and African Americans of George Bush’s Feb. 7 announcement of AFRICOM , the new Pentagon command for the African continent.

“It means a tremendous amount to Africans, because African people, from working people to university elites all follow very closely everything that the US government does wherever it does it in the world.  …More and more African Americans in the US are following carefully what’s the US is doing in Africa, but not enough… What we’re seeing (is) …a US military penetration of the African continent and that this penetration is…motivated by the US quest…for new sources of oil and other minerals.”

In other words, it’s about the oil.  And the diamonds, and the uranium, and the coltan .  But mostly about the oil.  West Africa alone sits atop 15% of the world’s oil, and by 2015 is projected to supply a up to a quarter of US domestic consumption.  Most oil from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East winds up in Europe, Japan, China or India.  Increasingly it’s African oil that keeps the US running.

“West Africa alone sits atop 15% of the world’s oil, and by 2015 is projected to supply a up to a quarter of US domestic consumption.

A foretaste of American plans for African people and resources in the new century can be seen in Eastern Nigeria.  US and multinational oil companies like Shell, BP, and Chevron , which once named a tanker after its board member Condoleezza Rice, have ruthlessly plundered the Niger delta for a generation.  Where once there were poor but self-sufficient people with rich farmland and fisheries, there is now an unfolding ecological collapse of horrifying dimensions in which the land, air and water are increasingly unable to sustain human life, but the region’s people have no place else to go.

Twenty percent of Nigerian children die before the age of 5, according to the World Bank.  Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil have been extracted from the Niger Delta, according to Amnesty International in 2005.  But its inhabitants

    “…remain among the most deprived oil communities in the world – 70 per cent live on less than US$1 a day. In spite of its windfall gains, as global oil prices have more than doubled in the last two years, the Nigerian government has failed to provide services, infrastructure or jobs in the region.”

In a typical gesture of disregard for local black lives and livelihoods, the natural gas which sits atop many oil deposits but is more expensive to capture and process than petroleum is simply burned off or flared at African wellheads.  Throughout the 1990s it is estimated that 29 million cubic feet per day of Nigerian natural gas was disposed of in this manner.  Many of the flares, according to local Niger delta residents, have burned continuously for more than twenty years, creating a toxic climate of acid fogs and rains , depositing layers of soot and chemicals that stunt or kill ocean and riverine fish and livestock, and poison the few surviving crops.  For this reason, flaring at oil wells has long been outlawed in the US.  But many African communities near the mouth of one of the planet’s largest rivers are now entirely dependent on water trucked in from outside.

According to Dr. Nesbitt:

    “Years ago people from the then American Committee on Africa brought back slide footage which showed…people living in oil mud slime fields, drinking water that’s made up of oil slime.  It was just [an] extraordinarily frightening situation…  As far as we know not much has changed [in about 15 years] except that [now] there is a movement for justice taking place.  But the United States military command has indicated, has partnered up really, with the Obasanjo government…to try to control that justice movement.  Some very explicit comments have been made by US military people; they will be prepared militarily to move into that arena…securing that oil source for the United States”

delta_rebelsLocal Africans are demanding respect and a share in what is after all, their oil.  They are now routinely, viciously suppressed in eastern Nigeria, in Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere, by African troops trained and equipped with American tax dollars.  When resistance continues, as it certainly will, America is preparing to up the ante with more American equipment, with military and civilian advisers, with bombs, bullets and if need be, with American bodies.  That’s what AFRICOM is about, and what it will be doing in the new century.

Empire in Africa: A Business Opportunity For Black Americans?

Doug Lyons, an African American columnist at the Orlando Sun-Sentinel is one of those ugly black Americans who see, in the ratcheting up of merciless exploitation of humanity’s motherland, great career and business opportunities for a few black henchmen and women.

    “AFRICOM shouldn’t be shunned as another appendage of our nation’s military industrial complex, even though it is. It also offers a unique opportunity for black America.

    “There’s potential for those individuals who have interest in African and African-American heritages to become more knowledgeable about Africa, and its links to the United States.

    “That knowledge should lead to better cultural understanding and greater business opportunities for blacks on both sides of the Atlantic, in addition to expanded opportunities for African-Americans in world trade and the diplomatic corps.

    “…imagine the possibilities. The vehicle is about to be put in place, and for a select few, the chance will come to make even more black history. “

“AFRICOM will indeed open new vistas for a handful of qualified black Americans in the corporate, military and intelligence establishments.”

The imaginative need look no further than GoodWorks International, the business consulting firm founded by former Atlanta mayor, UN ambassador and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Andrew Young.  GoodWorks is making black history indeed, along with buckets of cash from clients like Barrick Gold, a Bush-connected operation whose Congolese mines help fuel a bloody civil war with 5 million dead and counting so far.  Young’s firm enjoys intimate and lucrative connections with the shadowy Maurice Templesman , a prominent figure in the trade of African blood diamonds for decades.  It’s the registered lobbyist for the Nigerian government in Washington, and implicated in at least one money laundering scheme for Nigeria’s president Obasanjo, in addition to fronting for various multinational oil and mineral companies on the African continent.

    “There’s an increasing number of…a class of African Americans who…feel no sense of responsibility, no shame, no ties to the continent, who are incapable of playing any kind of role.  I think we see that with Condoleezza Rice.  We see it even more clearly in some of the other appointments which have been recently made, like for example the new assistant secretary of state for Africa.  She seems…an individual to be very concerned about given her past, and her military background, with regard to what type of role she will play in the system.  So we see African Americans often emerging as functionaries of the system, the gendarmes, if you will, of the system for the recolonization of Africa both by corporate and military establishment in the United States.”

Nesbitt seems to agree with Doug Lyons, in a twisted sort of way. AFRICOM will indeed open new vistas for a handful of qualified black Americans in the corporate, military and intelligence establishments.  Andy and Condi were first, but they may not be the last.  There are plenty more African gold mines, oil tankers and mass graves waiting to be named after black Americans.

We asked Dr. Nesbitt what the Congressional Black Caucus and ordinary Americans here ought to be doing to stall imminent US military intervention on the African continent.

   “We need a stronger voice from the Congressional Black Caucus.  It needs to become much more enraged about these developments and help to politicize and educate the masses of the black American community across the country so that we don’t let this constant history of the United States [allow them to feel] that they need not worry about any ramifications…from the population that is most concerned… those of us in the African diaspora in the US.  I think we are at a very important passage point with regard to the relationships of the African American community in general with the continent of Africa.

    “Africa is a part of the world that has immense resources and immense riches.  But…the history has been nothing but the capitalist system sucking Africa dry of those riches.  I think that the particular challenge facing Americans – Americans who care about other human beings, who care about the planet – is what steps will they take to help African people stop this continual rape and plunder of the African continent.”

George Bush, Big Oil, Andy Young and the Pentagon are already implementing their plan for Africa.  It looks like Nigeria, the classic case of a rich country full of poor people.  It looks a lot like the impoverished, poisoned, festering wasteland of the Niger delta, where they’ve had a free hand for decades.  And when Africans resist, as they surely will, the backup plan is to declare Africans who want to control their own resources “terrorists”, and through AFRICOM, deploy US military might to lock down Africans and African resources.  It’s time for black America and the Congressional Black Caucus to take Dr. Nesbitt’s advice, and come up with a couple of our own plans to end more than five hundred years of Western pillage of Africa, and to keep AFRICOM and the US military off the African continent.

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US Secret Wars in Africa Rage on Despite Talk of Downsizing

US Secret Wars in Africa Rage on Despite Talk of Downsizing
US Secret Wars in Africa Rage on Despite Talk of Downsizing

“There is no evidence yet of massive cuts, gradual reductions, or any downsizing whatsoever.”

Last October, four U.S. soldiers — including two commandos — were killed in an ambush in Niger. Since then, talk of U.S. special operations in Africa has centered on missions being curtailed and troop levels cut.

Press accounts have suggested that the number of special operators on the front lines has been reduced, with the head of U.S. Special Operations forces in Africa directing his troops to take fewer risks. At the same time, a “sweeping Pentagon review” of special ops missions on the continent may result in drastic cuts in the number of commandos operating there. U.S. Africa Command has apparently been asked to consider the impact on counterterrorism operations of cutting the number of Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other commandos by 25 percent over 18 months and 50 percent over three years.

Analysts have already stepped forward to question or criticize the proposed cuts. “Anybody that knows me knows that I would disagree with any downsizing in Africa,” Donald Bolduc, a former chief of U.S. commandos on the continent, told Voice of America.

“The number of commandos operating on the continent has barely budged since 2017.”

While the review was reportedly ordered this spring and troop reductions may be coming, there is no evidence yet of massive cuts, gradual reductions, or any downsizing whatsoever. In fact, the number of commandos operating on the continent has barely budged since 2017. Nearly 10 months after the debacle in Niger, the tally of special operators in Africa remains essentially unchanged.

According to figures provided to The Interceptby U.S. Special Operations Command, 16.5 percent of commandos overseas are deployed in Africa. This is about the same percentage of special operators sent to the continent in 2017 and represents a major increase over deployments during the first decade of the post-9/11 war on terror. In 2006, for example, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa — fewer than in the Middle East, the Pacific, Europe, or Latin America. By 2010, the number had risen only slightly, to 3 percent.

Today, more U.S. commandos are deployed to Africa than to any other region of the world except the Middle East. Back in 2006, there were only 70 special operators deployed across Africa. Just four years ago, there were still just 700 elite troops on the continent. Given that an average of 8,300 commandos are deployed overseas in any given week, according to SOCOM spokesperson Ken McGraw, we can surmise that roughly 1,370 Green Berets, Navy SEALs, or other elite forces are currently operating in Africa.

“More U.S. commandos are deployed to Africa than to any other region of the world except the Middle East.”

The Pentagon won’t say how many commandos are still deployed in Niger, but the total number of troops operating there is roughly the same as in October 2017 when two Green Berets and two fellow soldiers were killed by Islamic State militants. There are 800 Defense Department personnel currently deployed to the West African nation, according to Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, a Pentagon spokesperson. “I can’t give a breakdown of SOF there, but it’s a fraction of the overall force,” she told The Intercept. There are now also 500 American military personnel – including Special Operations forces — in Somalia. At the beginning of last year, AFRICOM told Stars and Stripes, there were only 100.

“None of these special operations forces are intended to be engaged in direct combat operations,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert S. Karem, while speaking about current troop levels in Niger during a May Pentagon press briefing on the investigation into the deadly October ambush. Despite this official policy, despite the deaths in Niger, and despite the supposed curbs on special operations in Africa, U.S. commandos there keep finding themselves in situations that are indistinguishable from combat.

In December, for example, Green Berets fighting alongside local forces in Niger reportedly killed 11 ISIS militants in a firefight. And last month in Somalia, a member of the Special Operations forces, Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad, was killed and four other Americans were wounded in an attack by members of the Islamist militant group Shabaab. Conrad’s was the second death of a U.S. special operator in Somalia in 13 months. Last May, a Navy SEAL, Senior Chief Petty Officer Kyle Milliken, was killed, and two other American troops were wounded while carrying out a mission there with local forces.

“U.S. commandos in Africa keep finding themselves in situations that are indistinguishable from combat.”

Between 2015 and 2017, there were also at least 10 previously unreported attacks on American troops in West Africa, the New York Times revealed in March. Meanwhile, Politico recently reported that, for at least five years, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other commandos — operating under a little-understood budgetary authority known as Section 127e that funds classified programs — have been involved in reconnaissance and “direct action” combat raids with local forces in Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, and Tunisia. Indeed, in a 2015 briefing obtained by The Intercept, Bolduc, then the special ops chief in Africa, noted that America’s commandos were not only conducting “surrogate” and “combined” “counter violent extremist operations,” but also “unilateral” missions.

While media reports have focused on the possibility of imminent reductions, the number of commandos deployed in Africa is nonetheless up 96 percent since 2014 and remains fundamentally unchanged since the deadly 2017 ambush in Niger. And as the June death of Conrad in Somalia indicates, commandos are still operating in hazardous areas. Indeed, at the May Pentagon briefing, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, drew attention to special operators’ “high-risk missions” under “extreme conditions” in Africa. America’s commandos, he said, “are doing a fantastic job across the continent.”

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Dmitry Orlov: US Intelligence Community is Tearing the Country Apart from the Inside

Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.

He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed ‘The Dystopians’ in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.

He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America’s will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.

He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.

His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.

If you haven’t discovered his work yet, please take a look at his archive of articles on RI. They are a real treasure, full of invaluable insight into both the US and Russia and how they are related.

In today’s United States, the term “espionage” doesn’t get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans’ own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term “intelligence.” This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things.

First of all, US “intelligence” is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.

In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps.In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as “Al Qaeda.” There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.

Most recently, British “special services,” which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence.

There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their “secret” lab in Porton Down doesn’t work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).

There is another unwritten, commonsense rule about spying in general: whatever happens, it needs to be kept out of the courts, because the discovery process of any trial would force the prosecution to divulge sources and methods, making them part of the public record. An alternative is to hold secret tribunals, but since these cannot be independently verified to be following due process and rules of evidence, they don’t add much value.

A different standard applies to traitors; here, sending them through the courts is acceptable and serves a high moral purpose, since here the source is the person on trial and the method—treason—can be divulged without harm. But this logic does not apply to proper, professional spies who are simply doing their jobs, even if they turn out to be double agents. In fact, when counterintelligence discovers a spy, the professional thing to do is to try to recruit him as a double agent or, failing that, to try to use the spy as a channel for injecting disinformation.

Americans have been doing their best to break this rule. Recently, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian operatives working in Russia for hacking into the DNC mail server and sending the emails to Wikileaks. Meanwhile, said server is nowhere to be found (it’s been misplaced) while the time stamps on the files that were published on Wikileaks show that they were obtained by copying to a thumb drive rather than sending them over the internet. Thus, this was a leak, not a hack, and couldn’t have been done by anyone working remotely from Russia.

Furthermore, it is an exercise in futility for a US official to indict Russian citizens in Russia. They will never stand trial in a US court because of the following clause in the Russian Constitution: “61.1 A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state.”

Mueller may summon a panel of constitutional scholars to interpret this sentence, or he can just read it and weep. Yes, the Americans are doing their best to break the unwritten rule against dragging spies through the courts, but their best is nowhere near good enough.

That said, there is no reason to believe that the Russian spies couldn’t have hacked into the DNC mail server. It was probably running Microsoft Windows, and that operating system has more holes in it than a building in downtown Raqqa, Syria after the Americans got done bombing that city to rubble, lots of civilians included. When questioned about this alleged hacking by Fox News, Putin (who had worked as a spy in his previous career) had trouble keeping a straight face and clearly enjoyed the moment.

He pointed out that the hacked/leaked emails showed a clear pattern of wrongdoing: DNC officials conspired to steal the electoral victory in the Democratic Primary from Bernie Sanders, and after this information had been leaked they were forced to resign. If the Russian hack did happen, then it was the Russians working to save American democracy from itself. So, where’s the gratitude? Where’s the love? Oh, and why are the DNC perps not in jail?

Since there exists an agreement between the US and Russia to cooperate on criminal investigations, Putin offered to question the spies indicted by Mueller. He even offered to have Mueller sit in on the proceedings. But in return he wanted to question US officials who may have aided and abetted a convicted felon by the name of William Browder, who is due to begin serving a nine-year sentence in Russia any time now and who, by the way, donated copious amounts of his ill-gotten money to the Hillary Clinton election campaign.

In response, the US Senate passed a resolution to forbid Russians from questioning US officials. And instead of issuing a valid request to have the twelve Russian spies interviewed, at least one US official made the startlingly inane request to have them come to the US instead. Again, which part of 61.1 don’t they understand?

The logic of US officials may be hard to follow, but only if we adhere to the traditional definitions of espionage and counterespionage—“intelligence” in US parlance—which is to provide validated information for the purpose of making informed decisions on best ways of defending the country. But it all makes perfect sense if we disabuse ourselves of such quaint notions and accept the reality of what we can actually observe: the purpose of US “intelligence” is not to come up with or to work with facts but to simply “make shit up.”

The “intelligence” the US intelligence agencies provide can be anything but; in fact, the stupider it is the better, because its purpose is allow unintelligent people to make unintelligent decisions. In fact, they consider facts harmful—be they about Syrian chemical weapons, or conspiring to steal the primary from Bernie Sanders, or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden—because facts require accuracy and rigor while they prefer to dwell in the realm of pure fantasy and whimsy. In this, their actual objective is easily discernible.

The objective of US intelligence is to suck all remaining wealth out of the US and its allies and pocket as much of it as possible while pretending to defend it from phantom aggressors by squandering nonexistent (borrowed) financial resources on ineffective and overpriced military operations and weapons systems. Where the aggressors are not phantom, they are specially organized for the purpose of having someone to fight: “moderate” terrorists and so on.

One major advancement in their state of the art has been in moving from real false flag operations, à la 9/11, to fake false flag operations, à la fake East Gouta chemical attack in Syria (since fully discredited). The Russian election meddling story is perhaps the final step in this evolution: no New York skyscrapers or Syrian children were harmed in the process of concocting this fake narrative, and it can be kept alive seemingly forever purely through the furious effort of numerous flapping lips. It is now a pure confidence scam. If you are less then impressed with their invented narratives, then you are a conspiracy theorist or, in the latest revision, a traitor.

Trump was recently questioned as to whether he trusted US intelligence. He waffled. A light-hearted answer would have been:

“What sort of idiot are you to ask me such a stupid question? Of course they are lying! They were caught lying more than once, and therefore they can never be trusted again. In order to claim that they are not currently lying, you have to determine when it was that they stopped lying, and that they haven’t lied since. And that, based on the information that is available, is an impossible task.”

A more serious, matter-of-fact answer would have been:

“The US intelligence agencies made an outrageous claim: that I colluded with Russia to rig the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The burden of proof is on them. They are yet to prove their case in a court of law, which is the only place where the matter can legitimately be settled, if it can be settled at all. Until that happens, we must treat their claim as conspiracy theory, not as fact.”

And a hardcore, deadpan answer would have been:

“The US intelligence services swore an oath to uphold the US Constitution, according to which I am their Commander in Chief. They report to me, not I to them. They must be loyal to me, not I to them. If they are disloyal to me, then that is sufficient reason for their dismissal.”

But no such reality-based, down-to-earth dialogue seems possible. All that we hear are fake answers to fake questions, and the outcome is a series of faulty decisions. Based on fake intelligence, the US has spent almost all of this century embroiled in very expensive and ultimately futile conflicts.

Thanks to their efforts, Iran, Iraq and Syria have now formed a continuous crescent of religiously and geopolitically aligned states friendly toward Russia while in Afghanistan the Taliban is resurgent and battling ISIS—an organization that came together thanks to American efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The total cost of wars so far this century for the US is reported to be $4,575,610,429,593. Divided by the 138,313,155 Americans who file tax returns (whether they actually pay any tax is too subtle a question), it works out to just over $33,000 per taxpayer. If you pay taxes in the US, that’s your bill so far for the various US intelligence “oopsies.”

The 16 US intelligence agencies have a combined budget of $66.8 billion, and that seems like a lot until you realize how supremely efficient they are: their “mistakes” have cost the country close to 70 times their budget. At a staffing level of over 200,000 employees, each of them has cost the US taxpayer close to $23 million, on average. That number is totally out of the ballpark! The energy sector has the highest earnings per employee, at around $1.8 million per. Valero Energy stands out at $7.6 million per. At $23 million per, the US intelligence community has been doing three times better than Valero. Hats off! This makes the US intelligence community by far the best, most efficient collapse driver imaginable.

There are two possible hypotheses for why this is so.

First, we might venture to guess that these 200,000 people are grossly incompetent and that the fiascos they precipitate are accidental. But it is hard to imagine a situation where grossly incompetent people nevertheless manage to funnel $23 million apiece, on average, toward an assortment of futile undertakings of their choosing. It is even harder to imagine that such incompetents would be allowed to blunder along decade after decade without being called out for their mistakes.

Another hypothesis, and a far more plausible one, is that the US intelligence community has been doing a wonderful job of bankrupting the country and driving it toward financial, economic and political collapse by forcing it to engage in an endless series of expensive and futile conflicts—the largest single continuous act of grand larceny the world has ever known. How that can possibly be an intelligent thing to do to your own country, for any conceivable definition of “intelligence,” I will leave for you to work out for yourself. While you are at it, you might also want to come up with an improved definition of “treason”: something better than “a skeptical attitude toward preposterous, unproven claims made by those known to be perpetual liars.”

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Dr. Swee Ang and Palestine: the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza


Update: “The International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza expressed its concern for the safety of the international solidarity activists who were on board the Gaza-bound Al-Awda (Return) boat which was boarded by the Israeli navy on Sunday.

Activist on board on the boat were reportedly assaulted by masked Israeli soldiers. They were then detained by the Israeli naval forces and held at Givon prison in Ashdod. Among those assaulted was 69-year-old British activist and orthopaedic consultant Dr. Swee Ang.”

Dr. Swee Ang (UK) Sailing on Al Awda, ‘The Return’ wrote this on why she joined:

When invited to come on board Al Awda, the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, I knew I must join them. This summer marks the thirty-sixth year of my journey with the Palestinians. It began in 1982 when as an ignorant Pro-Israel Christian doctor I first stepped foot as a volunteer surgeon in Gaza Hospital in Beirut’s Sabra Shatila Palestinian refugee camp. There I fell in love passionately with a generous, kind, honest and gentle people – the Palestinians. They were forced out of Palestine in 1948 and found themselves, refugees. Despite the dispossession, persecution and injustice they remained human.

About 3 weeks after my arrival, more than three thousand of them were cruelly massacred. My heart was broken and trampled on, and would have remained dead and buried in the rubble of their bulldozed homes. But the survivors, even while burying their own loved ones, nurtured me back to life with their tears and love. The children filled with courage, hope and dignity inspired me and gave me the strength to walk on with them. “We are not afraid Doctor come with us”.

It is now 70 years since the Palestinian Nakba and Diaspora in 1948. When will their journey home begin? Today, six million Palestinians dispersed in various refugee camps are denied the right of return to their ancestral Palestine; the other six million lived under occupation in Gaza and West Bank. For twelve years, two million Palestinians have been imprisoned under a brutal land and sea military blockade in Gaza. During this time there were three major military assaults where Gaza was relentlessly bombed for weeks.

Recently, since 30 March 2018, unarmed Gaza demonstrators calling for the Right of Return are shot at with high-grade military assault rifles leaving more than 124 dead and 13,000 severely wounded with hundreds of amputees and potential amputees. The Flotilla brings hope to the besieged Palestinians. They are praying for us in their mosques and churches in the Gaza Strip. They know we are making this journey for them. Even if we are to be abducted, imprisoned and deported, may we remain faithful in solidarity and love for the people of Palestine and Gaza.

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The US-Backed Coalition in Yemen: Triggering Another Massive Cholera Epidemic


Last year, over one million people contracted cholera in Yemen and over two thousand died.

The U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition in Yemen carried out multiple airstrike attacks across Yemen on Friday, Islam’s holy day. Although the raids were not absent of casualties, today’s airstrikes appeared to target vital civilian infrastructure rather than human life. The continual attacks on water wells and treatment facilities make it seem as though the U.S.-backed coalition is attempting to trigger another massive cholera epidemic.

Last year, over one million people contracted cholera in Yemen and over two thousand died.

U.S.-backed warplanes belonging to the Saudi coalition launched at least five airstrikes on the Sana’a International Airport. The attacks took place immediately following the departure of UN envoy, Martin Griffith. Griffith had just met with the leader of the Yemeni Ansarullah revolution, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi to discuss the conflict and humanitarian disaster.

The coalition against Yemen has hit Sana’a’s airport over 160 times since the war began despite the fact that the Saudi-imposed blockade forced the airport to shut down. Additional airstrikes on Friday targeted a farm, communication tower, and plastic factory.

Coalition planes also destroyed an important water project in Yemen’s Hodeidah province: one of Yemen’s poorest yet most populated epicenters as a major port city. The people of Hodediah temporarily lost access to water. The United Nations estimates that 8.6 million children lack access to clean water putting them at risk for deadly illnesses like cholera.

You Can Deprive People of Water, but Don’t You Dare Cost the UN Money

This is just the most recent U.S.-backed attack on a water supply in Yemen. Last week, coalition warplanes destroyed a major water project in Saada province which left over 10,000 people without access to clean water. The constant attacks on water systems have prompted condemnation from the United Nations — mostly because they’re the ones footing the bill.

UNICEF deplores in the strongest terms yet another attack on vital and lifesaving water systems in Yemen. A large water facility in Sa’ada, northwest of the country, came under attack this week. This is the third such attack on the same facility. More than half of the project is now damaged, cutting off 10,500 people from safe drinking water. Continuous attacks on water systems in Yemen are cutting off children and their families from water; increasing the likelihood of water-borne diseases spreading in the war-torn country. For families in Yemen, these crumbling basic services, are a matter of life and death.”

The UNICEF statement also mentions that two separate Saudi attacks on a water project in March cost the UN $20,000. Last week’s incident will cost the UN $300,000.

While these attacks on water supplies are certainly worthy of nothing but the strongest condemnation, the UN has failed to hold the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates accountable in any practical manner thus far. (Likely due to blackmail and financial manipulation.)

Creating Another Cholera Epidemic

These attacks on water infrastructure come at a crucial time.

Yemen’s summer weather creates the perfect environment to contract cholera. The World Health Organization reported an estimated 3,000 suspected cholera cases in just the first week of July — the highest yet this year.

The UK-based group, Save the Children, warns that a U.S.-backed Saudi and Emirati advance on Hodeidah port could quickly exasperate the spread of cholera:

Yemen could be on the brink of a deadly new cholera epidemic that could affect thousands of people in the coming weeks unless urgent action is taken, Save the Children is warning. Save the Children is becoming increasingly concerned that Hodeidah city could be besieged as the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition makes advances in northern Yemen and continues to consolidate gains around the south of the city. This could potentially cut off Hodeidah city, its port and its people from the rest of the country.”

In 2017, over one million Yemenis contracted cholera — an epidemic completely unprecedented in modern times. Cholera is a very preventable — yet very treatable — disease contracted by drinking unclean water.

It’s clear that these U.S.-backed attacks on water infrastructure are very deliberate. The cholera epidemic last year was not an accidental byproduct of the blockade and arbitrary airstrikes — it was an intended consequence.

This is part and parcel of the Saudi coalition’s strategy to beat Yemenis into submission as coalition troops fail on the ground. Disease and famine are two of Washington and Riyadh’s favorite weapons to use in Yemen for this purpose.

Feature Image:  A girl is treated for a suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. The World Health Organization says a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Yemen has already claimed thousands of lives. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

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Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: Most Participants Still in Prison: Grave Concern for Safety and Cargo

Two people from Al Awda (The Return) have been released, but most of the crew and participants are still in unlawful detention at Givon prison in Israel. We are still gravely concerned for their safety and well-being as we had no contact with most of them as of 14:00 CEST today. We continue to demand that our boat and the medical supplies on board reach their rightful recipients, Palestinian civil society in Gaza.

Although the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) claim that the capture of our vessel happened ‘without exceptional incident’, eye-witness Zohar Chamberlain Regev reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.” We urgently need to know the details of who was injured and how seriously, and what treatment they are receiving, if any. A military attack on a civilian vessel is a violent act and a violation of international law. Taking 22 people from international waters to a country which is not their destination constitutes an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the international Convention of the Law of Sea.

From the time we lost contact around 13:15 local time on Sunday, we know that the IOF blocked all communication signals, including satellite phones. We are very concerned about this violation of journalists’ right to report freely and we remain gravely concerned about their ability to keep their professional equipment and their storage media. As Australian journalist Chris Graham recently observed “Bad things happen when good people stay silent, as history well records. But horrendous things happen when media are prevented from scrutinizing the actions of a state.”

Two of our participants who are Israeli citizens have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail this morning. One of them, boat leader Zohar Chamberlain Regev, reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship.

In comparison with the violence routinely directed at Palestinian civilians, including at fishers from Gaza, and the violent capture of Palestinian fishing boats, yesterday’s seizure and kidnapping may not be the most serious of Israeli crimes. What these violents acts have in common is that there is no accountability demanded by other governments and Israel continues to enjoy total impunity.

We call on national governments, civil society and international organizations to demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our boat so that we can deliver our much-needed medical supplies on Al Awda and the fishing boat itself to the rightful recipients in Gaza. Detailed specification of our exact cargo on board are available on request.

Israel’s capture of the lead boat in this Gaza-bound flotilla may seem like a predictable outcome to some, but that doesn’t make it any less violent nor any less illegal. Our second boat Freedom will follow Al Awda within a day or two, and the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement.

Details about detainees still in prison, including their last videos and personal statements, can be found on our website and Facebook pages:

For more information, contact media spokespeople:

Feature Image: Low resolution photo transmitted from the boat during final hours of navigation

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: Most Participants Still in Prison: Grave Concern for Safety and Cargo

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