ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Washington is not America’s brain

With a population that soon will surpass one-third of a billion people, America’s complexity defies the limits of the human imagination. No one, ultimately, can truly understand such a country, in the sense of having detailed insights into the specific needs of all its communities, ranging from tiny villages to neighborhoods in sprawling cities such as Los Angeles. Governments, however, are staffed by people — with all the human limitations that implies.

The United States cannot be well-governed from the center. The federal government can try, of course, but federal agencies and personnel do not possess valid, detailed knowledge regarding local conditions across the country. Prudent leaders remember their inherent human limitations, and understand that such limitations always are reflected in their governance. America, however, is not prudently governed.

The long-popular metaphor that governments are “brains,” while countries are the “bodies” they control, is deeply flawed. Someone stubbing their toe on a rock will recognize their error almost immediately; they feel pain. By contrast, distant bureaucrats can inflict excruciating pain on Americans without even being aware that they are doing so.

For instance, officials regulating the American health care system never planned to create an opioid epidemic, but it is obvious that the twists and turns of federal policy played a critical role in its development.

The United States Government is an abstract noun; it possesses no personality, intuition, or moral sense whatsoever. It is less like a brain than an awesomely powerful “chaos machine.”

Like the U.S. government, the machine would impose its endless whims upon individuals and communities, who would then have to adapt to the machine’s decisions as best they could. Whether they like the decisions is irrelevant — and, regardless of who they vote for, the machine continues operating.

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The conceit of the national governing elite is that the machine is not random — that there is a benevolent logic to its actions. If the machine sometimes makes errors, this is unfortunate, but turning it off would, they claim, assure disaster.

A critical question for America is how the machine can be disassembled, transferring its power to communities and individuals. Americans from Maine to Hawaii do not need a government that issues endless commands in the form of laws, regulations, and federal judicial decisions. They need a government that will leave them alone to cooperate freely, building and nurturing their own communities. Americans today face a choice: they can continue to receive the “help” of a distant chaos machine, or they can begin seriously discussing how to comprehensively dismantle it and empower themselves.


C. Dale Walton is associate professor of international relations at Lindenwood University.

The Myth of the Magical American Soldier

The Limits of Power – The Myth of the Magical American Soldier

Americans worship their fighting men and women; but it is dangerous to believe the mere presence of U.S. troops will achieve the miraculous in the Greater Middle East – it won’t!

We aren’t miracle workers. We’re just soldiers after all – kids barely out of their teens and officers in their mid-20s do most of the fighting. Still, policymakers in Washington, and citizens on Main Street both seem convinced that the mere presence of a few hundred or thousand American troops can alter societies, vanquish the wicked, and remake the world.

A colleague of mine refers to this as the myth of the magic soldier: sprinkle US troops in some horrific mess of a country and voilà – problem solved!

It sounds great, but this sort of delusional thinking has led the United States into one failed quagmire after another, killing some 7,000 US troops and close to one million locals. After 17 years of fruitless, indecisive war, its quite incredible that a bipartisan coalition of mainstream Republicans (neocons, mostly) and Democrats (neo-liberal relics) still cling to the idea that American soldiers wield magic powers. It’s long past time to review the record of our over-adulated troopers and reframe the actual – limited – capabilities of military force.

The standard Washington-media-military narrative goes something like this: take any unstable Muslim country that has any presence of Islamists at all; drop in a few thousand US Army advisors, trainers, or combat troops; stay indefinitely – and loudly proclaim that if ever those soldiers should leave said Muslim country it will undoubtedly collapse and the US of A will be directly threatened.

Some version of that exact formula has been tried in, sequentially, Afghanistan (2001-present), Iraq (2003-present), and Syria (2011-present), along with numerous smaller regional locales: Libya, Niger, Somalia, Yemen, etc. Sometimes the troop levels topped out at nearly 150,000 (Iraq), other times the ground forces and special operator teams are smaller (Yemen, Somalia), but the basic blueprint is the same – US airpower, plus commando raids, plus trainers and advisers can somehow stabilize the unstable, secure the insecure, and – ultimately – we hope, craft a “Little America” in the Muslim world. There’re just a couple problems with this veritable religion of US militarism: 1) we rarely consult with the locals before beginning each “crusade”; and 2) It. Has. Yet. To. Work.

Let us enter, then, the world of the absurd – US interventions since 9/11. In Afghanistan, the ultra hawks told (and tell) us, repeatedly, that more soldiers were needed to back up the government in Kabul. Without those magic troops, we’re warned, Al Qaeda will be back and the US Homeland in grave danger. Of course, the fact is there’s relatively few such fighters in Afghanistan, and the Taliban – our primary opponent – has neither the capacity or intent to threaten the US These folks want to conquer Kandahar not Kalamazoo…

Then there was the Iraq invasion, euphemistically titled Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began as a fantastical attempt to craft a liberal democracy between the Tigris and Euphrates – all at the point of a bayonet. By 2006, that adventure had all but fallen apart as the country tumbled into outright civil war. Only then, according the popular, prevailing military and political myth, a new general – David Petraeus – and some 30,000 more “magic” U.S. troopers, turned the tide. In hindsight that was never the case. The US military bought off former enemies with American blood on their hands and temporarilylessened violence. Washington never achieved a more vital political settlement in Baghdad and within three years of America’s departure Iraq was back in chaos. And back to Mesopotamia flew our soldier miracle workers.

This is when a second mainstream – and utterly bunk – myth developed: that if only Obama had left 10,000 “magic” soldiers in country that Iraq would have been just fine and ISIS would never have formed. Such an assertion denies agency to the Iraqis (who ultimately determine their own destiny), overestimates the capabilities of American troops, and ignores the fact that it was the Iraqi government that refused to sign a treaty to keep a US military presence on the ground. In the soldiers-as-miracles narrative, of course, all that is omitted or ignored.

The same goes for the smaller US presence in Syria, Africa, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and on and on. We’re assured that just a bit more airpower, a smidgen more commando raids, and a few more military advisors will turn the tide, stabilize the unstable, and ensure American security. The problem is this: in each case, no one seems able to articulate an exit strategy. That’s because there is none! And there’s the rub – so long as Americans are convinced of the preternatural capabilities of US troops, Washington will be forced to keep them forever deployed. Should they leave (any of these various locales) we’re told that chaos and transnational terror will explode in the region and in American cities. If that’s not a formula for perpetual war, then I don’t know what is!

The various interventions of the “War on Terror” have, at best, a checkered record. Most were, and are, complete strategic failures. They demonstrate the inherent limits of US military power and the need for tough cost/benefit analyses before taking the fateful step of deploying American men and women in harm’s way.

Yet on the wars churn, with no end in sight. And why not? Presidents (from both parties) wield force almost unilaterally; Congress is derelict in its duty to oversee the wars; the politicized Supreme Court demonstrates no intent to rule on the constitutionality of presidential war powers; and the citizenry, well, they could care less. With no conscription, innumerable technological distractions, and regularly fed information from a media focused more on minutiae than substance, how could we expect the American people to take much interest at all?

The truth is the war for the Greater Middle East is over. America already lost – it just hasn’t accepted it yet. The tragedy – and farce – of it all is that some number of US troops and innumerable local civilians are sure to die before Washington comes out of denial and accepts strategic defeat.

I can’t say when that will be; but odds are my own young children will be of military age by then…and so will yours.

Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

Copyright 2018 Danny Sjursen

Sleepwalking Through Servitude–Propaganda, Consumerism and Perpetual War

Sleepwalking Through Servitude: Propaganda, Consumerism and Perpetual War

Army Secretary Dr. Francis J. Harvey unveiled the effort to tell the Army about the "Army Strong" campaign, a key component of the Army’s recruiting efforts, during an opening ceremony for the 2006 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C

Army Secretary Dr. Francis J. Harvey unveiled the effort to tell the Army about the “Army Strong” campaign, a key component of the Army’s recruiting efforts, during an opening ceremony for the 2006 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C (Image in Public Domain via US Army)

The prevailing orthodoxy of today — an orthodoxy perpetuated by propaganda, PR, the media and the power behind them — is unquestioned obedience to the gods of money, consumerism and perpetual war.

I had the good fortune to hear the Ukrainian folk group Dakha Brakha in London this week.  Their extraordinary set was punctuated with references to the Russian annexation of Crimea, ending with their male singer, Marko Halanevych, holding up the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine.  It was a moving conclusion to a spelling-binding concert that got me thinking about propaganda. 

Ukraine is caught up in the continuing struggle between two power-bases (but no longer two ideologies).  NATO, spearheaded by the U.S, has pushed ever-farther east, effectively backing the Russian bear into a corner.  The policy is the height of folly, yet it is hardly ever questioned or debated in the West.

When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, a clear message was sent.  Why was it not heeded?  Why was a buffer zone not left between Russia and the West?  Why did we keep pushing?  Because, for NATO to exist and for arms orders to be placed, a threat must exist; real or imagined.  And the paradox is the same principles apply to the other side; for there to be a corresponding elite and the apparatus of war, a corresponding threat is needed. 

Propaganda and PR to Manufacture a Threat

If there isn’t a real threat, it’s easy to manufacture one.  And the key to manufacturing a threat is, of course, propaganda.  What else could make young people march off to slaughter their peers?  To make us believe blatant lies and be hoodwinked again and again? 

The Soviet Union used it, Putin uses it, the United States uses it, corporations use it.  Anyone with power and money can use it.  It goes under different names — public information, public relations or reputation management.  It’s all propaganda, and the end result is the same: manipulation of the masses.

The tactics used by all sides are simple: keep the general populace scared, poorly informed, and in awe of the state.  Mastery and control will follow.  

When the Soviet Union fell, a huge void was created — it was like the boogeyman disappeared overnight.  Without the threat of “commies” under the bed, the West scrambled to find a new enemy.  Enter Al Qaida, WMDs and Isis. 

9/11 and the ideal propaganda platform it produced gave America carte blanche to prosecute her ‘war on terror,’ to expand her empire and to undermine civil liberties and the U.S. Constitution itself.  All the while, Russia was moving laterally, outflanking the West and confounding it, not by force-of-arms, but by digital guile and subterfuge. 

Propaganda takes many forms.  It can be loud, brightly colored, blatant and overt, as it was in the Soviet Union, or it can be beguiling, covert and subtly embedded in the warp and weft of daily life.

In America of late, it’s just been brazen.

Here are Adolf Hitler’s basic principles of propaganda:

  • Avoid abstract ideas — appeal to the emotions
  • Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases
  • Give only one side of the argument
  • Continuously criticize your opponents
  • Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification

Sound familiar? 

If you can distract, divide, stifle, ridicule and undermine at the same time, all the better. 

Despots, dictators and demagogues use these same principles the world over.  They are simple, easily remembered (that’s helpful…) and extremely effective.

The Illusion of Information and Propaganda

Technology helps them.  We now endure an avalanche of information every day.  Statistics, facts and figures, news events, the three best ways to eat a watermelon.  It gives the illusion of being informed, of being plugged into the pulse, the ebb and flow of daily life on the planet and of life carrying on as per safe, pre-ordained rules.

It’s comforting in a way.  Even when the news is bad, and it does seem to be bad most of the time, feeling like we know what’s going on is reassuring. 

And that simple human frailty, of wanting to feel reassured, comforted and led, is the back door to our psyche.  It has been exploited by our rulers since the time of the Pharaohs, and it leaves us wide open to one of the most powerful technologies known to man.

As Goebbels knew, intelligence and information gathering are key to creating effective propaganda, and there is no more effective intelligence-gathering agent than a smartphone. 

We willingly carry around devices (strange how that word sounds so like divisive…) that have the ability to monitor what we say, how we look when we’re saying it, what our heart rate and blood pressure are, who we are talking to, what we read, buy, listen to, where we go, how we type, how and what we write, how we move and increasingly, how we think and what we are going to think.

2018 is Orwell’s 1984

It’s a nightmarish scenario.  It’s Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, all rolled into one — Big Brother is watching us as we greedily guzzle our daily ration of Soma.   It’s terrifying.

Orwell, a prophet if ever there was one, spoke of “every time having its own prevailing orthodoxy”.  The prevailing orthodoxy of today — an orthodoxy perpetuated by propaganda, PR, the media and the power behind them — is unquestioned obedience to the gods of money, consumerism and perpetual war (war for our own security, of course).

In this, we are all aiders and abettors; if people weren’t so human, the system wouldn’t work. But we are. We are suggestible, tribal, lazy, and for that reason, easily fooled.

It is time for us to take back our consciousness: to wake up and to live as dignified human beings, not as pawns in some kind of diabolical dance-to-the-death. 

It’s time to say enough.

TRUMP’S ‘ARAB NATO’ PROJECT IS DOOMED 

TRUMP’S ‘ARAB NATO’ PROJECT IS DOOMED 

With the stated aim of containing “Iran’s malign behavior” and bringing “stability to the region,” the Trump administration has proposed a collective security pact tentatively known as “the Middle East Strategic Alliance” (MESA). The MESA would bring about the six countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) along with Egypt and Jordan together under the guise of “Arab NATO” to confront Iran.

There has already been a meeting held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City in September, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gathered with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to prepare for future plans. While the specific timelines for holding the so-called “Arab NATO” have been fluid and uncertain, October 2018 has been suggested as a possibility.

The proposal for a collective security project is presented amid rising tensions and conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa. Hence, building a collective security pact with the stakeholders in the region seems necessary. But success in building such collective security projects can only be achieved if all the stakeholders in the region participate.Historically, proposals for constructing collective alliances have failed in the region as they were not designed by the regional actors themselves, but imported from outside of the region.

However, there are at least five reasons why the “Arab NATO” initiative has little chance of success given the dynamics of the region.

First, the proposal to build an “Arab NATO” has emerged at the time when the Arab world, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, can barely be more divided. From the year-long embargo that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have imposed on Qatar, to the bloody inter-Arab conflict in Yemen and Libya that has ravaged these Arab countries, a proposal as such to align these countries seems more like wishful thinking than a practical political strategy.

Hence, the main threat for some member states comes from within the very members of the alliance as much as from the outside. Equally importantly, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar are trying to balance their relation with Riyadh and Tehran. Moreover, Oman—which played the crucial role of “mediator” between Washington and Tehran over the Iran Nuclear Deal—prefers to continue its role during Trump’s era. To bring about sustainable peace and security to the Middle East, the first task would be to address the bilateral issues of concern that GCC countries have among themselves.

GettyImages-917838778Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill February 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C.CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

Second, since one of the main security challenges of the region is “sectarian conflict,” the U.S. initiative would heighten the flames of sectarian divide and add much to the already existing climate of bellicosity in the region, since it only pits the Arab and Sunni countries on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf against the Shīʿite Iran, and perhaps Iraq with Shia majority. Furthermore, the “Arab NATO” is reminiscent of the ancient colonial project with the notorious mission to “divide and rule.” Just as the U.K. colonial project was doomed to fail, so is the U.S. idea of the “Arab NATO.”

Third, if the main goal of constructing a collective security project in the region is to ensure long-term stability in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, then Iran must participate as a member, since about 50 percent of coastal area in the Persian are Iranian territories. Iraq, too, is a major stakeholder in the Persian Gulf area given its demographic weight and the significant role it plays in the OPEC. In the absence of Iran and Iraq as two major powers in the region, no collective security project will be effective. The Trump administration has suggested including Egypt and Jordan, whose geographic share of the Persian Gulf is nothing.

Fourth, terrorism led by ISIS and Al-Qaeda is another key security threat for the region and the world. If the aim of the “Arab NATO” is to counter terrorism, its supposed members must not provide support for terrorist organizations. The evidence for the Saudi royal family’s financial support for terrorist organizations such Al-Qaeda and the Taliban since the early 1990s is copious. The top-secret report from the U.S. Treasury Department revealed some important dimensions of the ties that exist between the Saudi royal family and terrorist organizations. The Saudi support, both fiscal and logistic, for radical groups—like the Qaeda offshoot Al Nusra—has continued to date, in the Syrian conflict and far beyond it.

Fifth, the Trump administration’s proposal for an “Arab NATO” is a push for unilateralism as opposed to multilateralism in the Middle East. It simply omits the interests of other world powers in the region, namely, the European Union, China, India and Russia. It also ignores Turkey as another major actor in the region, and the world of Islam more generally. A realistic and effective collective security pact can neither ignore key regional players nor major players in world affairs, whose interests in the region should also be taken into account.

In short, for a collective security project to ensure stability in the trouble-ridden Middle East in a meaningful way, it must be inclusive and welcoming to all stakeholders in the region, including Iran. The U.N. Security Council is the most responsible and legitimate international body to lead such an initiative. The U.N. Security Council Resolution 598 has already requested “the Secretary-General to examine, in consultation with Iran and Iraq and with other States of the region, measures to enhance the security and stability of the region.” At the same time, members of the alliance should first hold bilateral talks (i.e. Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis Iran, and Qatar vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia) in order to address their concerns. Without simultaneous multilateral approaches and bilateral talks, an imported collective security project such as the “Arab NATO” has almost no chance of success. It will only fuel the animosity between the countries in the region along racial and sectarian lines.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian isMiddle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University.

“Project Turkey Leg”

İbrahim Karagül

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s political future is over. Salman’s plans to lead his country, become the regional leader, shape a new Saudi Arabia in accordance with U.S.-Israeli expectations, and design a new region through this project have, for the time being, gone down the drain.

There will be much stronger evidence revealed regarding the connection between Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder and Mohammed bin Salman, and the world is going to find out all about this. The news of explosives in the U.S. yesterday is a clear sign of how huge the incident is, the kind of global project the Khashoggi murder has shaken.

He had started a ‘man hunt’ throughout this dual region

We are going to find out a great deal about how the orders to murder Khashoggi came directly from Salman, that they have lists with figures similar to Khashoggi, that they started a sort of “man hunt” not only in Saudi Arabia but throughout the region, that they were following a path similar to the “secret torture centers” introduced post-September 11 and the “CIA jets,” that they are doing this in coordination with U.S., Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, that United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is the main manager of the traffic in question, and that Salman is acting under Zayed’s control.

Many dirty files will be revealed, with topics ranging from money trafficking to terrorist organizations along the UAE-Saudi Arabia-Egypt-Israel-U.S. line, from civil war and invasion plans to regime change projects, from covert attacks and plans targeting Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to abduction and murder. They had established a new equilibrium in the region.

Once the documents are revealed, the noose around their neck is going to get tighter

The equilibrium was established on behalf of the U.S. and Israel. They had swiftly started overt/covert operations in all countries in the region. They were going to build a new tutelage, severely harm those against the equilibrium – and as a matter of fact, they were going to dismiss them. This was not their project; they had only received the tender and became the main undertakers in the region.

After this moment onward, the Saudi administration cannot carry this crown prince. The U.S. cannot establish a regional equilibrium through a person who has been tarnished and wounded to this extent. The U.S. and Israel are going to have to give up Salman whether they like it or not. They will lose serious ground in the region if they continue to support him.

Once the records and documents in Turkey’s possession are released, the noose around Salman’s neck is going to get tighter. The Zayed connection is going to become clearer. It is going to be revealed that Zayed, who is behind everything from the Qatar issue to the terror corridor in northern Syria, from the Libya and Yemen wars to the plans of the new front to be opened, is a trap for the region, and that Salman is a trap for Saudi Arabia.

Great regional war plans revealed

The Khashoggi murder revealed a massive plan targeting the entire region, including Turkey. There were those who were in the know, but it was difficult to explain, because much was carried out through covert operations. The likes of Mohammed Dahlan, U.S. mercenaries and security companies, and structures such as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Daesh were re-assigned in accordance with this project.

The murder also exposed a major war preparation that would spread through the entire region. As soon as the Syria issue was over, as soon the fate of the project aimed at the east of the Euphrates became clear, as a matter of fact, before these were completed, a massive front was going to be opened from the Persian Gulf.

An Iranian-Saudi war was going to be broken out, an Arab bloc led by Salman and Zayed was going to settle scores with Iran. No country in the gulf was going to be left out of this war. This plan was the plan to carry war to the heart of Islam. Salman’s withdrawal will at least delay this war.

Is it not yet time to question the project’s ‘Turkey leg’?

This is where the clues related to the project’s Turkey leg are revealed. It was obvious Turkey would take a stance aimed at protecting the whole region. This could have ruined plans. Hostility was put between Saudi Arabia and Turkey to prevent Turkey’s areas of intervention, and to prevent the Erdoğan-led political mind’s intervention in this project.

Anti-Turkey sentiment, discourse that “Turkey is a threat” was promoted in the Arab streets. The campaign was again made through Salman and Zayed. If thick walls are erected between Arabs and Turks, it was going to be the Arab world left defenseless, with this war ending in Saudi Arabia’s destruction.

For a few years I have been following how this process was cultivated. I have been following the clues to the Turkey leg of this plan for a few years. I had been following and seeing the “oppositional” formation that was underhandedly carried out, the kind of dialogues made with the masses, and the kind of “multinational intervention” scenario played out under the guise of “opposition.”

Turkey saw the project, and certain groups took action in panic

The parallel between the “Salman and Zayed axis” and this activity was quite interesting. A “multinational attempt” that has a conservative touch, includes crypto Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) members, and uses FETÖ logistics could be sensed in every area.

Turkey was quick to realize a comprehensive project targeting Erdoğan and itself that was carried out both in the region and inside the country. The Khashoggi murder unveiled the project. While some continue to discuss the criminal dimension alone, a major regional plan is on the verge of collapse. Turkey is currently the only country that has enough power capable of collapsing this.

I notice that the more the noose around Salman’s neck tightens, the more Zayed’s dirty files start to surface, FETÖ, the PKK, Daesh and those managing the Turkey leg of the said axis are suddenly starting to get active again.

Their first target was the People’s Alliance

1- The most important goal of the Turkey leg of this axis is the collapse of the People’s Alliance. They can do nothing while this alliance exists. The collapse of the alliance will quickly be followed by new steps.

2- After that stage, intervention opportunities in the north of Syria will be eliminated, weakened, and as a matter of fact, the Euphrates Shield and our presence in Afrin will be questioned nationally too.

3- The fight against terrorism will lose its impact in the country and be weakened, it will assume FETÖ-like roles, and Turkey’s national backbone will be severely weakened.

4- The consensus between Turkey and Russia will be ruined, damaged; the Syria file will once again fully turn to the U.S./Israel/PKK/Daesh axis.

There are preparations for a new ‘multinational’ intervention both in the region and in Turkey

5- What’s most important is that the “opposition and intervention” networking that is being carried out underhandedly, which some already see, is going to become blatant, with a serious disintegration being encouraged from politics to NGOs, from the media to capital, and the mind of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) voter will be severely confused.

6- It is true that these are all part of the Turkey leg of the said axis established through Salman and Zayed. Their areas of “operation” in Turkey need to be paid great attention. The more Salman is cornered, the more this plan has sped up.

7- Erdoğan and Turkey should take advantage of the opportunity gained with the Khashoggi murder and negate the anti-Turkey axis established in the region. The forces behind the “setup” carried out in Turkey will also be revealed within this context.

8- Because they are both preparations for the new “multinational intervention.” I will say it loud and clear: The new multinational intervention of the post-July 15 coup attempt has been revealed. I hope it will be prevented.

The bombs in the US: The worse may be yet to come

9- Let us add that the consecutive bomb reports received from the U.S. are not independent from these incidents, that they are adjusted to changing the agenda, to save the great project implemented through Salman and Zayed, and that there are attempts to attack the world’s extraordinary awareness.

I would say that if this does not work, take into consideration that something more serious and shocking will happen. There will be operations carried out locally and from abroad. But we are very strong. They are going to witness another counter-coup.

A Boatload of Anti-Trump Democrats Are Mailed Explosive Gifts With the Same Return Address–Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

[International Subversive George Soros Lives In Katonah, N.Y…Someone Left A Bomb In His Mailbox]

Suspicious package delivery to Eric Holder returned to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office

A suspicious package was mailed to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but was sent to the wrong address.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Law enforcement sources told CNN the package was then sent to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office in Florida because that address was on the return label.

[READ: Bombs sent to Trump foes: Here’s what we know]

Police don’t believe the packages originated from the Florida Democrat.

Her office was evacuated on Wednesday when a suspicious package was found.

Holder, who worked under former President Barack Obama, lives in Washington, D.C., with his family.

Among those who were sent the packages were former President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, and left-wing billionaire George Soros. A suspicious package was also found outside the office of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in San Diego.

Pakistan Army To Submit To Saudi Anti-Iranian Warfare Plans?

[Pakistan air chief visits Royal Saudi Air Force headquarters]

[Reports upon Iranian forces in the Sistani-Baloch region normallly have either no depth, or they come from biased (Iranian) websites.  The following report from the Jewish press gives a different slant and more details on the reports about terrorists preparing to execute 14 Iranian soldiers, tying the terrorist action directly to Saudi Arabia and Pakistani intelligence (ISI).  Further developing the history of the new terror outfit called Jaish ul-Adl, showing them to be the latest incarnation of the Jundullah terrorist group, also created by Pakistani ISI, under Saudi sponsorship.  We are seeing the American/Saudi worldwide terror network cells firing in different locations around and in the Middle East, enabling the great game of limited “world war” directed at the enemies of the Zionist state to continue without accidentally, prematurely, starting WWIII.New Saudi reinvestment in Pakistan will come with many strings…chief among them will be the joining of the Pak. Army w/Saudi efforts to create an “Arab NATO,” already being commanded by former Pak. Army Chieftain (SEE: Retiring Pak Army Chief Sharif Becomes Saudi’s Commander of Global Islamist Army).]

Seized by Jihadists: Iranian Soldiers to Be Executed by al-Qaeda Sunni Militia

According to several reliable sources an enigmatic Sunni militia linked to al-Qaeda called Jaish ul-Adl (Army of Justice) recently attacked a patrol of the Iran Revolutionary Guards, composed of Iranian soldiers and local volunteers. They took 14 soldiers into captivity, with plans to summarily execute them. (Photo Credit: nziv.net)

An Israeli news site reported on Monday that an enigmatic Sunni militia linked to al-Qaeda called Jaish ul-Adl (Army of Justice) recently attacked a patrol of the Iran Revolutionary Guards, composed of Iranian soldiers and local volunteers. They took 14 soldiers into captivity, with plans to summarily execute them.

Jaish ul-Adl (Army of Justice) is a Salafist jihadist terrorist organization based in Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran and has claimed responsibility for several attacks against civilians and military personnel in Iran.

The group was founded in 2012, by members of Jundallah, a Sunni militant group that had been weakened following Iran’s capture and execution of its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, in 2010. Its first major attack occurred in October 2013. Jaish ul-Adl is a designated terrorist organization by Iran and Japan.

On April 26, 2017, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that nine Iranian border guards were killed by the terrorist group in the Mirjaveh region, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan while patrolling at the zero border point. The “Army of Justice” fled to Pakistan’s territories after killing the Iranian border guards. Iran said Islamabad should be accountable for the presence of terrorists on its soil.

“Islamabad should be accountable for the presence of terrorist groups in its soil and for the outlaw groups operation against Iran from its territory,” said spokesman of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Bahram Qasemi in the aftermath of the attack.

In a November 18, 2013 report that appeared on the Almanar TV web site, the “Jaishul Haq” (Army of Right) launched an attack in the Iranian province of Sistan after a truce that lasted more than three years following the arrest of “Abdul Malik Rigi” by the Iranian authorities. Rigi is the leader of the Jundollah “the Soldiers of God” group, which has worked militarily against Iran from Pakistan before being exterminated by Iran in 2010. The attack resulted in the death of 16 Iranian soldiers, and the group set off from the “Baluchistan” province in Pakistan through the “Khojak” tunnel passing through Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, Pakistan.

In a December 10, 2013 report on the EA Worldview web site, it was reported that the Sistan Baluchestan-based Sunni Baloch insurgent group Jaish ul-Adl claimed responsibility for an attack against Iranian security personnel in the predominantly-Sunni province, and warned Tehran there would be more to come unless it ended its “crimes against the oppressed peoples of Iran and Syria”.

If Iran did not stop, Jaish ul-Adl warned that its “day-to-day operations would increase” and the group would “burn all the military regime in Balochistan, according to the EA Worldview web site.

Despite the local nature of the Sunni Baloch insurgency in Sistan Baluchestan, the fact that the group specifically mentions Iran’s involvement in Syria in its warning indicates that at least some of Jaish ul-Adl feel that their cause extends beyond Iran and Baluchestan, and that it is part of a wider, sectarian Sunni struggle against oppressors.

In a 2013 post on its Persian-language blog, Jaish ul-Adl talked about their cause as “jihad” and described their fighters as “mujahideen”.

Jaish ul-Adl posted that their aim is to protect the honor and dignity of Muslims, and that the way to do so is to join the Mujahideen. The group also warns that it is ready to train young people so that they can join the jihad.

Also in 2013, the group also issued a warning to the Iranian security forces, calling on Tehran to cease its “crimes against the oppressed peoples of Iran and Syria”,

The post also offers some more information about the claims of the December 2013 attack against Iranian security forces.

The group has claimed that the attack took place near the town of Rasak in Sarbaz County, close to the border with Pakistan. Jaish ul-Adl say that the Shahid (Martyr) Molavi Abdolmalek Brigade planted mines around 5 kilometers outside Rasak, to target a military vehicle.

French sources, well-informed about the profile of the insurgent Salafi groups that are supported by Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with Al-Manar at the time that Saudi Arabia ordered the attack, and that this new group represents the fruits of the Saudi “violent approach” adopted in facing Iran and the regional axis; allying with it in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The said sources also accused the Pakistani intelligence apparatus, in conjunction with the Saudi intelligence operations of creating and activating this group. The sources said that Saudi intelligence had spent large amounts of money to fund the Jaish al-Adl group, but the Saudis employed the Pakistani intelligence units to monitor the group that is controlling Jaish al-Adl and running it. The French sources confirmed that Pakistani intelligence had initiated the establishment of the group as it created, trained, and guided the Jundollah organization in the past, but abandoned it when its interest with Iran required so.

Pakistan, which receives funding from Saudi Arabia, entered into strategic alliance with Riyadh, and thus the leadership of the Pakistani army, which controls the Pakistani intelligence work, cannot reject the Saudi dictation in this regard. The Pakistani army has linked its policy in the region directly to the policy of Saudi Arabia for decades.

Yet, Pakistan is dissatisfied with the Iranian-American convergence and the Russian-American understanding in more than one hot area in the world, especially after the rise of Russia, which is considered by the Pakistani military institution as an important ally of Iran. The Pakistani military institution is concerned over this triple convergence that might affect its influence in Afghanistan and its rank in America, especially because Iran has a good relationship with India, the enemy of Pakistan, and the third largest importer of Iranian oil. The Pakistani military institution at the time was concerned about the return of the Russian influence to the Central Asian region and over the fact that this return might evoke the Pakistani role in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union, as well as the role of the Pakistani intelligence in financing and arming the Salafist groups fighting in Islamic countries, which were part of the former Soviet Union.

This all comes in addition to the Pakistani-Saudi intelligence role in assassinating “Ahmad Shah Massoud”, an ally of Russia and Iran in Afghanistan, and in supporting the Taliban of Moscow. These concerns that meet with the Saudi concerns put Islamabad under the control of Saudi intelligence in this file. This of course translates into the tense relationship that Pakistan and Iran have had and is being further strained by the Jaish al-Adl group against Iranian territory.

In February of 2014, it was reported by the Daily Beast that Jaish ul-Adl has claimed responsibility on a Twitter account for the abduction of five Iranian frontier guards along the Pakistani-Iranian border. They later posted photographs, allegedly depicting the captive guards on Facebook, according to the Daily Beast report.

The report said that this 2014 episode is part of a fledgling Sunni insurgency in which Tehran accuses its arch regional rival Saudi Arabia of stoking. The report indicated that Iran has protested the abductions and leveled accusations that Pakistani authorities are failing in an abysmal sense to police their shared border. They have also been accused of taking no steps in enforcing a bilateral security pact that was forged in 2013 before Saudi ally Nawaz Sharif was elected as Pakistan’s Prime Minister.

The report in the Daily Beast attributed the upsurge in Sunni jihadist activity to a rise in the number of madrasas promoting Saudi-style Wahhabism, according to analysts.

Other than Jaish ul-Adl, which is thought to number several hundred fighters, other Jihadi groups include Harakat Ansar, which says their objective is to secure autonomy for the province. But in their propaganda, both groups also refer heavily to the Syrian conflict and Iran’s role in shoring up Assad. Harakat Ansar has made an appeal on Saudi websites for funding.

The Iranian government is bracing for more problems with jihadist groups such as Jaish-ul-Adl which claims Iran needs to pay a price for its military and materiel support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

By: Jay Evan

Honduran Protest Marchers Filmed Being Paid/”Suffering Marchers” Ride In Truck Caravan Towards Yankee Border Assault

Honduran migrants paid in cash  Posted to Twitter by Rep. Matt Gaetz

Growing caravan of migrants pushes deeper into Mexico
Central American migrants making their way to the U.S. in a large caravan cling to trucks as they arrive to Tapachula, Mexico, on Sunday. (Moises Castillo/AP)

TAPACHULA, Mexico – Thousands of Honduran migrants hoping to reach the U.S. stretched out on rain-soaked sidewalks, benches and public plazas in the southern Mexico city of Tapachula, worn down by another day’s march under a blazing sun.

Keeping together for strength and safety in numbers, some huddled under a metal roof in the city’s main plaza Sunday night. Others lay exhausted in the open air, with only thin sheets of plastic to protect them from ground soggy from an intense evening shower. Some didn’t even have a bit of plastic yet.

“We are going to sleep here in the street, because we have nothing else,” said Jose Mejia, 42, a father of four from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. “We have to sleep on the sidewalk, and tomorrow wake up and keep walking. We’ll get a piece of plastic to cover ourselves if it rains again.”

Adela Echeverria, 52, a single mother of three, teared up as she spoke about her plight.

“One of my companions went to look for some plastic,” she said. “We are used to sleeping like this, taking care of each other. We don’t want to be separated.”

The group’s advance has drawn strong criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, who lashed out again Sunday at the Democratic Party over what he apparently sees as a winning issue for Republicans a little over two weeks ahead of midterm elections.

After blaming the Democrats for “weak laws” on immigration a few days earlier, Trump said via Twitter: “The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat party. Change the immigration laws NOW!”

In another tweet, he said the migrants would not be allowed into the United States.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested Sunday that the United States, Canada and Mexico work out a joint plan for funding development in the poor areas of Central America and southern Mexico.

“In this way we confront the phenomenon of migration, because he who leaves his town does not leave for pleasure but out of necessity,” said Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1.

The migrant caravan, which started out more than a week ago with less than 200 participants, has drawn additional people along the way and it swelled to an estimated 5,000 Sunday after many migrants found ways to cross from Guatemala into southern Mexico as police blocked the official crossing point.

Later in the day, authorities in Guatemala said another group of about 1,000 migrants had entered that country from Honduras.

 

Qatar has less than 48 hours before it faces a deadline on meeting Saudi Arabia’s demands

[SEE: Qatar questions timing of Riyadh agreement leak ]

Qatar has less than 48 hours before it faces a deadline on meeting Saudi Arabia’s demands

Analysts say things could get ugly.

A man stands before the Doha skyline. Qatar’s immense wealth has insulated it from the blockade it’s facing — for now.
 Getty Images

 

The diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is coming down to the wire.

On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a list of demands that Qatar must agree to in order for them to lift the diplomatic boycott and economic blockade against the tiny Gulf country. They gave Qatar 10 days to accede to their demands or continue to face isolation.

The original response for the deadline was midnight on Sunday, but Saudi and its allies agreed to a 48-hour extension at the request of Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator in the dispute. And on Monday, Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, arrived in Kuwait carrying an official response to the list of demands.

We don’t yet know what the letter says, but we do know that its contents are crucial to determining the next phase of what has become the most urgent diplomatic crisis in the Gulf region in decades.

It’s unclear what line Qatar will take, but recent comments from both sides of the rift suggest that it may end up being at least in part a combative one. The list of demands Qatar faces calls for the country to, among other things, shutter its immensely influential international media service Al Jazeera, curb ties with Turkey and Iran, and sever relations with Islamist political parties and terrorist groups in the region. They amount to an attempt to entirely quash Qatar’s decades-long history of pursuing a maverick foreign policy in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister characterized the list of demands as nonnegotiable last week. But over the weekend, Qatar’s foreign minister said they were “made to be rejected” and that Doha was interested in negotiations rather than complying with ultimatums.

Lori Plotkin Boghardt, an Arab Gulf specialist and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me in the runup to the Monday deadline that she thinks it’s likely for a stalemate to continue beyond the deadline.

“Neither side wants to blink,” she said. “We’re in a cycle now: The more extreme rhetoric we hear from one side just makes the other side more entrenched in its own position too.”

What does Saudi want from Qatar?

When Saudi Arabia and its allies originally launched their isolation campaign against Qatar, they framed it as punishment for Qatar’s alleged funding of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. But few analysts actually bought that explanation.

Instead, most believed Saudi Arabia’s anger at Qatar had far more to do with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other moderate Islamist groups, its chummy relations with Saudi’s regional rivals Turkey and Iran, and its powerful and far-reaching media network Al Jazeera, which Saudi Arabia and the others see as a propaganda outlet for Islamist political movements that threaten their governments.

The list of demands that Saudi Arabia eventually sent to Qatar weeks after the isolation campaign began confirmed that skepticism. Of the 13 demands, only two have anything to do with terrorism.

Here’s the list, in full:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups, or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, the US, and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements, and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
  12. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially, and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  13. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of them being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

As you can see, there’s a whole lot of stuff in there that has nothing to do with terrorism — and everything to do with stomping out Qatar’s regional aspirations and forcing it to fall in line with Saudi Arabia’s preferred policies.

There’s a lot at stake for the region — and the world

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain pulled a much milder version of the move that we’re seeing today, withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, among other wrongs. That time, Qatar made some concessions, including curbing some of its ties to the group and cooperating more closely with Gulf states on security, and diplomatic ties were restored.

The US’s interest is in having this regional dispute sorted out as swiftly and as smoothly as possible. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for “a lowering of rhetoric” and hinted that all parties should be willing to compromise in order to find a resolution.

President Trump, however, has complicated Tillerson’s pleas for calm by siding openly with Saudi Arabia against Qatar, labeling Qatar “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” That in turn is likely to make Saudi Arabia less open to a compromise.

Qatar has at least come capacity to wait out the boycott

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain have suspended all air, land, and sea travel to and from the country. But as a global energy giant with a population of under 3 million, Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita, and the government has huge reserves of cash on hand to help the country cope with restrictions on imports and the use of airspace in the region. The government, for example, is paying for shipments from new suppliers in Iran and India, according to the New York Times.

“We can cover the financial aspect without even tapping into our investments,” Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed al-Thani, a member of the ruling clan and a senior communications official in the government, told the Times. “It’s not a problem.”

Despite an earlier panic about the flow of food intro the country after Saudi Arabia sealed its border, through which Qatar imports most of its food, Qatar appears to be stable for now. Among the fairly modest inconveniences so far: Residents of Qatar are now reduced to drinking Turkish milk rather than Saudi milk.

And many Qataris are responding with an outpouring of pride in their country’s independence from Saudi Arabia, suggesting there may be some popular support for a refusal to comply with its demands.

“Suddenly, we went from people who gave a lot of s*** about having fresh milk in our cappuccinos to us drinking Turkish milk, which does taste weird — let’s be honest,” Hessa, a 22-year-old Qatari woman, told Al Jazeera.

“But we still say, ‘We love it! Turkish milk is great! We don’t need Saudi products!'”

We’ll see in the coming days if the government feels the same way.

Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Forced To Meet Saudi King and Crown Prince For Photo-Op Whitewash

Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Meets Saudi King And Crown Prince In Disgraceful Photo Op

Salah Khashoggi likely had no real choice to refuse the man who allegedly ordered his father’s murder.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 2

SAUDI PRESS AGENCY VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 23, 2018.  Officials in Saudi Arabia summoned Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to a palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, where he posed for photos with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 

While the Saudis claim that the son “expressed … great thanks to the Saudi King and Crown Prince for their condolences,” the pictures suggest otherwise, and with good reason.

Mohammed bin Salman reportedly ordered the operation that resulted in the death, allegedly by torture, of Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month. His body was allegedly then dismembered. Under international pressure, the Saudis admitted last week that Khashoggi died in an altercation in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, was living in the U.S.

King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

 

Salah Khashoggi himself has been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia since last year because of his father’s criticism of the Saudi regime, a friend of the Khashoggi family told the Associated Press.

Regardless of the intent behind the staged photos, the event didn’t sit well with observers on Twitter, many of whom noted its similarity to other forced photo ops with murderous tyrants:

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Jorge Guajardo

@jorge_guajardo

MBS meeting with Khasshogi’s son in Saudi Arabia (left) reminded me of Saddam Hussein meeting with foreign “guests” (unable to leave) in Iraq before Desert Storm.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Elizabeth Tsurkov

@Elizrael

The photo shoot of Khashoggi’s son with MbS, the man who probably ordered the murder of his father, reminds me of the time @WJoumblatt had to go meet Hafez al-Assad, shortly after apparently Hafez ordered the murder of Walid’s father, Kamal. Video: http://bit.ly/2R4wfwS 

View image on Twitter

Piers Morgan

@piersmorgan

REPULSIVE.
Saudi tyrant ‘MBS’ – aka Mohammed Bone Saw – forces Jamal Khashoggi’s son to do a PR photo-op handshake, days after ordering his father’s torture, dismemberment & murder.
A new low, even by the medieval standards of this barbaric crown prince.

Rula Jebreal

@rulajebreal

This is sickening! I’m outraged
The Saudi Regime is forcing Salah Jamal Khashoggi, Jamal Khashoggi’s own son, to shake the hand of the mastermind behind his father’s murderer.
The international community must pressure King Salman to lift the travel ban on Salah Jamal Khashoggi.

Ragıp Soylu

@ragipsoylu

BREAKING — Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince MbS met two members of #Khashoggi family, one of them is son Salah – SPA

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Qatar questions timing of Riyadh agreement leak

Qatar questions timing of Riyadh agreement leak

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed says release of ‘classified’ documents were aimed at diminishing US, Kuwait mediation.

In his joint press conference with Tillerson, Sheikh Mohammed said the blockading countries did not use GCC conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve their differences with Qatar [Reuters]
In his joint press conference with Tillerson, Sheikh Mohammed said the blockading countries did not use GCC conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve their differences with Qatar [Reuters]

Qatar’s foreign minister has questioned the timing of the leak of a set of agreements made between Gulf countries between 2013 and 2014 and insisted that his country was abiding by the accords.

After CNN on Monday published a set of documents known as the “Riyadh agreements,” Qatari officials said the leak aimed to weaken mediation efforts in the region.

The documents were published just as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in the Gulf for shuttle diplomacy between Jeddah, Doha and Kuwait City.

“These are clear efforts to diminish … the mediation by Kuwait, and the efforts of the United States to mediate this crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in a joint press conference with Tillerson in the Qatari capital on Tuesday.

The documents aimed to mend post-Arab Spring tensions between Gulf countries and banned support for opposition groups in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.

Both sides of the Gulf rift accused each other of violating the Riyadh agreements.

“They did not use any of the conflict resolution mechanisms,” in the agreements, Qatar’s foreign minister said. “If there are any grievances, they should be discussed either according to the Riyadh agreement, or according to GCC charter.”According to the leaked documents, the parties agreed to refrain from backing any “political groups that pose a threat to any member country of the [Gulf Cooperation] Council”, and called for the deportation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who are non-GCC citizens.

The existence of the accords had been known, but the content and the documents were never made public.

The publication of the documents came about three weeks after the Saudi-led group issued a 13-point list of demands, which included the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and severing all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

***

RIYADH AGREEMENTS

Qatar made a series of secret agreements with its Gulf neighbors in 2013 and 2014, signed by
the leaders of those countries. A third supplemental agreement was made in 2014. The
agreements are translated by CNN below, followed by the original documents in Arabic,
including the handwritten 2013 agreement.
1: The handwritten 2013 agreement
On Saturday, 19/1/1435 (Hijri Calendar, November 2013), The Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques Kind Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz Al-Saud, the Kind of Saudi Arabia, and his brother His
Highness Sheikh Sabbah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabber Al-Sabbah, the Prince of Kuwait, and his brother
His Higness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the prince of Qatar, met in Riyadh.
They held extensive deliberations in which they conducted a full revision of what taints the
relations between the [Gulf Cooperation] Council states, the challenges facing its security and
stability, and means to abolish whatever muddies the relations.
Due to the importance of laying the foundation for a new phase of collective work between the
Council’s states, in order to guarantee its movement within a unified political framework based
on the principles included in the main system of the Cooperation Council, the following has
been agreed upon:
1. No interference in the internal affairs of the Council’s states, whether directly or
indirectly. Not to give asylum/refuge or give nationality to any citizen of the Council
states that has an activity opposes his country’s regimes, except with the approval of his
country; no support to deviant groups that oppose their states; and no support for
antagonistic media.
2. No support to the Muslim Brotherhood or any of the organizations, groups or
individuals that threaten the security and stability of the Council states through direct
security work or through political influence.
3. Not to present any support to any faction in Yemen that could pose a threat to countries
neighboring Yemen.
2. The 2014 agreement
Top Secret
The Supplementary Riyadh Agreement
Based on a generous invitation by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin
Abdel-Aziz Al-Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, the following have met in Riyadh today, Sunday,
23/1/1436 (Hijri Calendar), 16/11/2014 (Gregorian Calendar): His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-
Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabbah, the Prince of Kuwait, His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eissa Al-Khalifa,
King of Bahrain; His Highness Shiekh Tamim Bin Hamd Bin Khalifa Al-Thanki, Prince of Qatar; His
Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashed Al-Maktom, the vice president and prime minister of the
United Arab Emirates and the governor of Dubai; and His Highness Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-
Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the deputy Commander of the Armed Forces of
the United Arab Emirates. This was to cement the spirit of sincere cooperation and to
emphasize the joint fate and the aspirations of the sons of the Gulf Cooperation Council for a
strong bond and solid rapprochement.
After discussing the commitments stemming from the Riyadh Agreement signed 19/1/1435
(Hijri) – 23/11/2013 and its executive measures; reviewing the reports of the committee
following the execution and the results of the joint follow-up [operation] room; and reviewing
the conclusions of the report of the follow-up room signed on 10/1/1436 (Hijri) – 3/11/2014
(Gregorian) by the intelligence chiefs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
the Kingdome of Bahrain and the state of Qatar.
The following has been reached:
1. Stressing that non-committing to any of the articles of the Riyadh Agreement and its
executive measure amounts to a violation of the entirety of the agreement.
2. What the intelligence chiefs have reached in the aforementioned report is considered a
step forward to implement (not clear because of the bad resolution, it could be SAVE)
)Riyadh agreement and its executive measures, with the necessity of the full
commitment to implementing everything stated in them(agreement and the Intelligence
report ) within the period of one month from the date of the agreement.
3. Not to give refuge , employ, or support whether directly or indirectly, whether
domestically or abroad, to any persons or a media apparatus that harbors inclinations
harmful to any Gulf Cooperation Council state. Every state is committed to taking all the
regulatory, legal and judicial measures against anyone who [commits] any
encroachment against Gulf Cooperation Council states, including putting him on trial
and announcing it in the media.
4. All countries are committed to the Gulf Cooperation Council discourse to support the
Arab Republic of Egypt, and contributing to this security, stability and its financial
support; and ceasing all meida activity directed against the Arab Republic of Egypt in all
media platforms, whether directly or indirectly, including all the offenses broadcasted
on Al-jazeera, Al-Jazeera Mubashir Masr, and to work to stop all offenses in Egyptian
media.
Accordingly, it has been decided that the Riyadh Agreement, and its executive measures,
and the components of the supplementary agreement, requires the full commitment to its
implementation. The leaders have tasked the intelligence chiefs to follow up on the
implementation of this results of this supplementary agreement and to report regularly to
the leaders, in order to take the measures the deem necessary to protect the security and
stability of their countries.
It has been agreed that implementing the aforementioned commitments pours in the unity
of the Council states and their interests and the future of their peoples, and signals a new
page that will be the strong base to advance the path of joint work and moving towards a
strong Gulf entity.
3. 2014 supplemental agreement.
This a translation from a meeting of the foreign ministers following the initial agreement of the
leaders in 2013.
It’s a detailed implementation mechanism for the three points that comprise the 2013
document we had last night. This is a rough translation
1. Sets annual meetings for the foreign ministers for review
2. GCC heads of states take the necessary measures against other non-abiding states.
Required measures
A. Concerning domestic affairs of the GCC:
1. The commitment of all media networks owned or financed –directly or
indirectly – by a member state to not discuss topics harmful to the GCC states. A list
of usch media outlets would be prepared and updated periodically.
2. Each member state commits to not giving its citizenship to whoever is proven
to have been involved in opposition activities against their governments. Each
country will report the names of its citizens, involved in opposition, to the countries
they reside in. This is in order to stop their activities and take the necessary
measures against them.
3. Take all the necessary precautions that guarantee no interference in the
internal affairs of other states: such as: 1. No financial or media support by official or
societal institutions, individual or activists. 2. No refuge or encouragement or
support or making the country a platform for opposition. 3 preventing external
groups, parties and organizations that target the GCC from finding a place inside
GDD countries. 4. Prohibits financial or intangible support to external organizations
hostile to the GCC
Concerning foreign policy:
Committing to collection discourse of the GCC and not to support entities that pose a risk to
the GCC including:
1. No support ot the Muslim Brotherhood, whether financially or through media.
2. Agreeing to expelling the non-citizen Muslim Brotherhood members, within the
agreed time frame and coordinating the lists of these people
3. NO support tot eh outside groups that pose a threat to the security and stability of
GCC whether in Yemen, Syria or any of the sites of sedition.
4. No support or offering refute to those who commit acts in opposition to any of the
GCC states, whether they are current or former officials or others, and not facilitating
a place for these people inside the country or allowing them to harm another GCC
country
5. Shutting down all academies and centers that train and rehabilitate GCC citizens to
work against their own governments.
Concerning internal security of GCC:
Bilateral meetings between security officials to discuss the details of the security files.

International Subversive George Soros Lives In Katonah, N.Y…Someone Left A Bomb In His Mailbox

Explosive Device Found in Mailbox at George Soros’s Westchester County Home

George Soros, a billionaire who has spent much of his fortune in support of liberal causes, in July.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

 

An explosive device was found on Monday in a mailbox at the Westchester County home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who is a favorite target of right-wing groups, the authorities said.

A law enforcement official confirmed that the device was found near Mr. Soros’s home. It did not explode on its own, and bomb squad technicians “proactively detonated” it, the official said.

Federal and state law enforcement officials responded to the scene in Katonah, N.Y., a hamlet in the upscale town of Bedford in northern Westchester, after the Bedford Police Department received a call about a suspicious package at about 3:45 p.m.

“An employee of the residence opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device,” the police said in a statement. “The employee placed the package in a wooded area and called the Bedford police.”

Mr. Soros was not home at the time.

The police said they had turned the case over to the F.B.I., which did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In a tweet late Monday night, the bureau’s New York office said it was conducting an investigation “at and around a residence in Bedford” and that there was no threat to public safety.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Soros, who was born in Hungary, made his fortune running a hedge fund and is now a full-time philanthropist and political activist. He donates frequently to Democratic candidates and progressive causes and has given at least $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations to promote democracy and human rights around the world.

His activism has made him a villain to conservative groups and the target of anti-Semitic smears. Roseanne Barr called him a Nazi in an infamous tweetstorm, and just this month, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, falsely speculated that Mr. Soros had funded a caravan of migrants moving north toward Mexico. There is no evidence that Mr. Soros paid thousands of migrants to storm the border. Nor is there evidence that Democrats support the effort, as President Trump has said.

Mr. Soros became a major political donor in the United States during George W. Bush’s presidency. He spent millions backing John Kerry’s unsuccessful bid to deny Mr. Bush a second term, was an early backer of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and contributed more than $25 million to Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates and causes during the 2016 election cycle.

Though Mr. Soros’s name has become a trigger for a subset of Republicans and conservatives, he has said that his main goal as a political activist was to see a return to bipartisanship.

He has said it was the extremism of the Republican Party that had prompted him to become a major Democratic donor, but also said he is opposed to the extreme left.

“I don’t particularly want to be a Democrat,” he said.

Bedford is about 50 miles north of Manhattan and has been home to many well-to-do city transplants, including Martha Stewart, Glenn Close and Ralph Lauren. Katonah, where Mr. Soros has a home, is known for its cultural offerings, including the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and the Katonah Museum of Art.

The town is known for its insularity and lack of gossip, which allows for well-known residents to fly under the radar. “They look to Bedford as to being protective of their privacy,” John Stockbridge, Bedford’s historian, said in a phone interview.

Mr. Stockbridge said that the town has largely avoided drama or violent scares. “I’ve been here for 35 years and I don’t remember any incident like what you’re talking about,” he said.

Al Baker contributed reporting.

“The U.S. government is holding a gun to our head”–Iraqi Govt. Spokesman

 

German-based giant Siemens had spent considerable time courting the Iraqi government in order to land the $15-billion-worth contract for building power infrastructure in the war-torn country. It had been considered an odds-on favorite until Washington reportedly intervened and compelled Baghdad to choose US-based General Electric.

In an attempt to secure Siemens’ positions in Iraq, its CEO Joe Kaeser signed a memorandum of understanding with the country’s electricity minister Kasim al-Fahdawi during his undisclosed trip to Baghdad. The German conglomerate, rivaled by US-based General Electric, has proposed a comprehensive reconstruction framework program for Iraq, the German outlet Welt reports, citing Siemens’ statement. A company spokesman told the newspaper that its economic scope hadn’t been evaluated, but declined to comment on the company’s rivalry with General Electric over Iraqi projects.

Meanwhile, head of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) Joachim Lang has lashed out at the US for its interference in business competition for projects in Iraq, using leverage to promote the interests of American big business.

“To implement the America First doctrine in this way in the global competition of multinational companies is not acceptable,” he told the German outlet Welt.

According to him, sovereign states and companies must have the freedom to negotiate the best economic solutions, in line with the principle of fair competition. The Federation demanded a “level playing field” for competitors worldwide.

However, Lang admitted that nobody had the ability to forbid any country from politically flanking its business projects. At the same time, he pointed out that no single company can be granted preferences in a situation where rules which are considered valid for other businesses are not applied to one particular actor.

On October 15, Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with Boston-based General Electric for building power infrastructure in the war-torn country, although Siemens had been considered the front- runner. In late September, the CEO of the German conglomerate, Joe Kaeser, traveled to Baghdad accompanied by State Secretary at Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Thomas Bareiss to meet Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. Kaeser and the head of the Iraqi government discussed a 4-year plan to install power plants with a generating capacity of 11 GW. The German outlet Handelsblatt reported the deal to be worth $15 billion.

However, as the Financial Times reports, Donald Trump’s administration bullied Baghdad to choose General Electric over Siemens, claiming that the deal with the German firm could put the US-Iraqi relations at risk. The outlet cited a source familiar with the situation, who revealed that an adviser to Al-Abadi said “The U.S. government is holding a gun to our head,” and told Siemens to give up on the contract two weeks ago.

READ MORE: US ‘Overall Objective’ is to Curb Iranian Influence in Syria, Iraq — Professor

Senior US officials are said to have warned Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi against leaning towards the German giant, Blomberg reported. The website claimed that the White House suspected that Iran is pushing Iraq towards a deal with Siemens “as a way of undercutting ties with the US,” in light of the Trump Administration’s plans to invoke a new package of sanctions in November.

Canada Exhausts Entire Inventory of Legal Pot In 2 Days…New Production Goal of 1 Million Pounds

[Trump can’t help but see dollar signs when he sees the untapped potential depicted on the map below…]

Canada is running out of marijuana two days after drug became legal

 

Government expected ‘a bit of a run on supply,’ MP says

Canadians were so excited about getting their hands on some legal, recreational marijuana the country is reportedly experience a shortage.

Police were called to help shops struggling to handle long queues and with frustrated people unable to buy cannabis.

Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who has led the government’s legalisation programme, told public broadcaster CBC the country was unable to supply enough to meet demand.

“We expected, you know, certain strains might run out and there would be a bit of a run on supply,” he said.

“But, you know, they’ve got a pretty good infrastructure in place and I’m confident it will work.”

On Wednesday Canada became the first industrialised nation and only the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalise recreational cannabis as part of a controversial experiment in drug policy.

Under the new law, citizens will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public and each household will be able to grow up to four marijuana plants.

According to Statistics Canada, 5.4 million Canadians will buy cannabis from legal dispensaries in 2018 – about 15 per cent of the population. Around 4.9 million already smoke.

Vancouver-based Lift, a marijuana media platform in Vancouver, estimates Canada’s cannabis industry has enough funding to boost production of the combustible herb to between 400,000 and 500,000 kilograms a year.

Trump Intent On Restarting Worldwide Nuclear Arms Race, By Trashing Reagan/Gorbachev Nuke Treaties

Trump: What We Really Need Right Now Is a Lot More Nukes

Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

The U.S. has had a brief respite from nuclear apocalypticism after that brief period when Donald Trump seemed pretty likely to start a war with North Korea via Twitter. But this being Trump, the power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has never seemed very far from his mind, and on Saturday he announced the country will be leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)—a landmark Ronald Reagan-era treaty between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union (now Russia) that eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles with a range between 310-3,240 miles (not including those based at sea).

Leaving one of his interminable campaign rallies in Nevada, CNN reported, Trump told reporters that “Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years”:

“And I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” he said. “We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement.

“But Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out,” he said of the agreement, which was signed in December 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachecv.

As the New York Times noted, the treaty had long been seen as effective until Russia violated the treaty in 2014 by testing a new ground-based cruise missile. Some 2,692 missiles were destroyed as a result of the pact, and most of them (1,846) belonged to the Russians instead of the U.S. (846).

In response, then-President Barack Obama initially opted for a cautious diplomatic response that was later superseded by hawks in Congress who urged the U.S. develop their own treaty-violating systems, as well as implemented provisions the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists described as an “exit strategy.” Yet as the Times noted, leaving the treaty would not only potentially escalate relations with Russia, but China, which is not a signatory to the INF and would likely interpret U.S. abandonment of the treaty as a prelude to encroachment on their sphere of influence:

But the pact has also constrained the United States from deploying new weapons to respond to China’s efforts to cement a dominant position in the Western Pacific and to keep American naval forces at bay. Because China was not a signatory to the treaty, it has faced no limits on developing intermediate-range nuclear missiles, which can travel thousands of miles.

… The Pentagon has already been developing nuclear weapons to match, and counter, what the Chinese have deployed. But that effort would take years, so, in the interim, the United States is preparing to modify existing weapons, including its non-nuclear Tomahawk missiles, and is likely to deploy them first in Asia, according to officials who have been briefed on the issue. Those may be based in Japan, or perhaps in Guam, where the United States maintains a large base and would face little political opposition.

Reuters noted that China has invested heavily in intermediate-range conventional missiles “as part of an anti-access/area denial strategy.”

According to the Times, the White House said that no formal decision has been made yet, but sources said such a declaration is likely to happen soon. One likely option in the short term will be to develop new versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile, which is currently launched by ships, for deployment on land.

Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Times, “The collapse of the treaty would likely open up a missile race in Europe and elsewhere. It would signal a new phase where countries would compete to deploy and counterdeploy weapons.”

The Guardian reported that the demise of the INF is likely the brainchild of national security adviser John Bolston, “a longstanding opponent of arms control treaties,” and that he and National Security Council arms control adviser Tim Morrison are also pushing for the end of the 2010 New Start agreement that limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear missiles. That agreement will end in 2021 if it is not extended.

While it’s tempting to worry exclusively about the specific individual whose fingers are aching to hit that big red button right now, arms experts are concerned that the demise of the treaty could bring back the Cold War-era nuclear arms race—which is very bad news no matter who ends up sitting behind the Resolute Desk.

Deputy director general of the Royal United Services Institute Malcolm Chalmers told the Guardian the situation was more serious than at any time since the 1980s, adding, “If the INF treaty collapses, and with the New Start treaty on strategic arms due to expire in 2021, the world could be left without any limits on the nuclear arsenals of nuclear states for the first time since 1972.”

Colorado Going After the Source of the “Opioid Epidemic”…The Drug Makers and Sales Reps (Pushers)

Colorado Sues Oxycontin Maker Who Patented a New Drug to Get People off Oxycontin…

BY CHRIS CENTENO

 

pic

This week the State of Colorado launched a lawsuit aimed at the maker of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma. I’ve blogged a few times about just how insane the late 1990s through 2000s were during the narcotic-prescribing free-for-all that began with Oxycontin. I still remember the pushy sales rep from Purdue Pharma. I also recall that once the prohibition on physicians freely prescribing high-dose narcotics for pain was broken, the floodgates opened, and this caused the opioid crisis. Let me explain.

Colorado’s Lawsuit

The Colorado attorney general’s office in its lawsuit stated that Purdue Pharma “downplayed the risk of addiction associated with opioids,” “exaggerated the benefits,” and “advised health care professionals that they were violating their Hippocratic Oath and failing their patients unless they treated pain symptoms with opioids.”

The most bizarre thing for me as a practicing doctor during this time and getting hit up frequently by the Purdue Pharma sales rep is that reading this statement this morning was déjà vu. Meaning, this is exactly what Purdue’s sales rep did. Let me explain.

What Is Oxycontin?

Oxycontin was an evil stroke of marketing genius. Why? Rather than creating a new narcotic drug and having to go through new clinical trials, Purdue simply took an existing drug (oxycodone, or the stuff that makes up a Percocet) and jammed loads of it into a pill with new delayed-release binder. Hence, getting it approved by the FDA was simply demonstrating what the binder and narcotic did to patients, as the base drug was presumed to be effective.

The problem with Oxycontin is that it can pack as many as 16 Percocet pills worth of oxycodone into a single pill. This made it a perfect drug for diversion by addicts as a handful of Oxy tablets was more powerful than any heroin hit. In short, you couldn’t design a better drug for abuse.

Downplaying the Risk of Addiction

It’s been said that the entire opioid crisis began with one sentence: “Delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.” This was allowed by the FDA to be on the package insert and marketing materials for Oxycontin. The problem? It was never true.

I remember my Purdue sales rep telling the doctors in my office this very statement. The delayed absorption of this stuff is what made it safe and “addiction proof.” The problem? We had seen many patients who were clearly addicted to it.

How could Purdue create the perception that Oxycontin was safe despite what doctors knew to be true? First, while it marketed to pain doctors, most of us knew that what Purdue was selling was not true. Hence, in an evil stroke of marketing genius, Purdue began focusing on getting opioid-prescribing naive family physicians comfortable with prescribing this stuff. In fact, in 2001 alone, Purdue spent 200 million on marketing! By 2003, because of this primary-care marketing focus, more than half of all prescribers of Oxycontin were family doctors rather than more-experienced pain management physicians.

So how did Purdue craft its message that dramatically underestimated the risk of addiction? The number we were told by our rep was that Oxycontin only had a 1% chance of creating an addict. To get this manufactured number, Purdue cited studies where narcotics were only used for acute pain and not chronic pain (the area where Purdue was pushing Oxycontin). In 2007, Purdue and its executives pled guilty to misleading doctors.

Purdue Opened the Floodgates

One of the reasons I’m happy to see this Colorado AG lawsuit is that in a very real way, Purdue opened the floodgates. By convincing a generation of family doctors that it was their moral obligation to treat chronic pain with opioids, they lit the bonfire that became the opioid crisis. In addition, the sales reps also pushed a philosophy to increase the dose of Oxycontin until the patient was out of pain. Hence, what began as 10mg of Oxycontin (the equivalent of two Percocets) soon escalated to 20mg, 40mg, and, finally, 80mg.

In addition, the financial success and blockbuster drug status of Oxycontin inspired many copycat narcotic drug plays, which was like throwing gasoline on the bonfire of the opioid crisis. As an example, we soon saw the fentanyl lollipop (Actiq). This little diabolical drug concoction made Oxycontin look like M&M’s. I watched as more than half of our patients who had chronic pain and who were given Actiq for post radiofrequency procedural pain couldn’t ever get off of the narcotic-laced candy.

Adding Insult to Injury

There’s a scene in HBO’s Breast Men that describes what just happened this week with the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma. The movie follows two plastic surgeons who developed silicone breast implants through the high times and then the low times of women reporting illness. At the end of the movie, one of the doctors has now created a new practice removing the silicone implants and inserting saline ones. A woman who is having a consultation to have her implants removed asks, “So let me get this straight, you charged me a bunch of money to put these in, they made me sick, and now you want to charge more to take them out?” The doctor says, “Yep, that’s about it,” and the woman says, “Where do I sign up?”

In a hat tip to that scene from Breast Men, this week the Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma and who made billions from Oxycontin, made news by patenting a new drug to wean patients off Oxycontin! Turns out their new drug is a form of buprenorphine, a drug commonly used to switch addicts from narcotics, like Oxycontin, to a slightly less (but still addictive) narcotic. This “treatment” in my experience just switches the addiction from one drug to another. You just can’t make this stuff up.

The upshot? A big thank you to the State of Colorado! I was there when Purdue began the opioid crisis, which has now either ruined or claimed the lives of millions worldwide. They deserve whatever it is they get!

If you have ten minutes and really want to dive into the genesis of the opioid epidemic and how it relates to Oxycontin, read this great review published by Van Zee in the American Journal of Public Health.

NATO To Takeover and Rebuild Old Albanian/Soviet Airbase

Albania’s graveyard of MiGs to become NATO air base

Second life

Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania’s base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station – to the delight of its former airmen longing to hear the engines roar again.

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Reuters
Remnants of the past

Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbours Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to economic decline in and around Kucova, which was called “Stalin City” during the era of Communist rule.

“The base is the first footprint of NATO in the Western Balkans as it will transform Kucova into the first NATO air base for the region,” Defence Minister Olta Xhacka said.

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Reuters
Cost to rebuild

NATO will spend over 50 million euros ($58 million) on the first stage of work to turn Kucova into a support base for supplies, logistics, training and drills, Xhacka said.

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Reuters

Earning a transformation

Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the world.

“The region as a whole has entered into an irreversible Euro-Atlantic integration process,” Xhacka added.

In pic: A Mi-4 helicopter is pictured in Kucova Air Base in Kucova, Albania.

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Reuters
Bringing hope

News of a NATO base has stirred hopes in Kucova.

Civilians see the base project as an economic boost for an area plagued by emigration and unemployment. The last generation of trained pilots, now in their early fifties, are keen to hear the rumble of engines again, while younger people on the site mull quitting due to their low wages.

Sheep graze in the bushes between the taxiing lanes and the runway. Some 88 MiGs squat on their flat tires near three underground hangars, while birds sing around them.

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Reuters
Stashing dynamite

Stashing dynamite

The runway, conceived by Soviet planners who stored dynamite under the airfield to blow it up should it fall into enemy hands and built by political prisoners in the 1950s, has good weather conditions all year round.

“A NATO base there will boost the country’s defence capacities, and foreign investors will have more confidence in Albania. It will also be good for employment in the area,” said 68-year-old retired air force commander Klement Alikaj.

Afghanistan’s Rogue General Raziq Killed In Terror Attack

Are Kabul Blasts War Within Afghan Govt, Or Taliban Reply To Abdul Raziq’s Invitation?

Did the Divided Afghan Govt Just Blow-Up In Kandahar?–Or Is It Open War w/Pakistan’s ISI?

Kandahar Chief Goes Forward w/His Taliban “Safe Zone”

UAE/Afghan Investigators Claim Quetta Taliban Ordered “The Hit” On UAE Officials In Kandahar

Top Afghan General Abdul Raziq killed in Kandahar attack

 

Powerful Kandahar police general killed, along with intelligence chief, in shooting claimed by Taliban.

Abdul Raziq was one of the most powerful figures in the Afghan security aparatus [Muhammad Sadiq/EPA]
Abdul Raziq was one of the most powerful figures in the Afghan security aparatus [Muhammad Sadiq/EPA]

The top security leadership of Afghanistan’s Kandahar has been assassinated in a brazen gun attack claimed by the Taliban, leaving a power vacuum in the crucial province ahead of Saturday’s elections.

General Abdul Raziq, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security officials, was killed along with Kandahar’s intelligence chief, Abdul Mohmin, when a bodyguard opened fire after a meeting in the southern province, officials said.

Deputy provincial governor Agha Lala Dastageri said Kandahar Governor Zalmai Wesa also died of his wounds after being taken to a local hospital, although security officials in the capital maintained Wesa was wounded but survived.

Citing US military officials, TOLOnews reported that Wesa survived the attack after undergoing surgery, adding that he is in stable condition.

General Scott Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan who had been at the meeting with Raziq only moments earlier, was also uninjured in the attack.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they had targeted both Miller and Raziq, who had a fearsome reputation as a ruthless opponent of the armed group.

The killing of Raziq is a major blow to the Afghan government ahead of parliamentary elections on October 20, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Kabul, said two US official were also wounded in the attack.

“There was a meeting between the US top commander in Afghanistan Scot Miller and top government representatives in Kandahar. After that meeting, there was gunfire inside the governor’s compound.

“In that gunfire, the intelligence chief, and the top police commander were killed. Two Americans were injured,” Ahelbarra reported.

Taliban claim

The Taliban have managed to infiltrate the most secure government meetings on multiple occasions this year, striking at the heart of its command.

“The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along several other officials,” a Taliban statement said.

Raziq was criticised by human rights groups but highly respected by US officers who saw him as one of Afghanistan’s most effective leaders, largely responsible for keeping Kandahar province under control.

A flamboyant commander, he had survived several attempts on his life over many years and narrowly escaped an attack last year in which five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates were killed in Kandahar.

NATO spokesperson Colonel Knut Peters said Miller, who took command of US and forces and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan last month, was uninjured but he confirmed that two Americans were wounded in the crossfire.

In Final Column, Jamal Khashoggi Laments Dearth of Free Press in Arab World

In Final Column, Jamal Khashoggi Laments Dearth of Free Press in Arab World


The Washington Post published a column by the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday, more that two weeks after he disappeared.  Middle East Monitor, via Reuters

By Jacey Fortin 

 

The dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul just over two weeks ago, and evidence increasingly suggests he was brutally murdered.

But on Wednesday night, a new piece of his work — submitted by his assistant after he disappeared — was published by The Washington Post, for which Mr. Khashoggi worked as a columnist.

In just over 700 words, his column lamented the dearth of a free press in the Arab world, which he said “is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors, but through domestic forces vying for power.” He sought to promote the free exchange of ideas and information under the headline, “What the Arab world needs most is free expression.

Mr. Khashoggi’s editor, Karen Attiah, wrote a preface to the column. She said she received the file from Mr. Khashoggi’s translator and assistant a day after he was reported to be missing.

“The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together,” Ms. Attiah wrote. “Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post.”

The column came amid reports of audio recordings suggesting that Mr. Khashoggi was met by his killers shortly after he walked into the consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, and that his fingers were severed and he was beheaded.

Saudi officials have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but they have not provided evidence that he left the Saudi Consulate, or offered a credible account of what happened to him.

President Trump appeared to take Saudi officials’ claims at face value, disregarding Turkish assertions that senior figures in the royal court had ordered his killing. The president told reporters on Wednesday that the United States had asked for copies of any audio or video evidence of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing that Turkish authorities may possess — “if it exists.”

In his column on Wednesday, Mr. Khashoggi wrote that government clampdowns on the press in the Arab world were sometimes met with little resistance.

“These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community,” he said. “Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.”

In Saudi Arabia, Mr. Khashoggi once served as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family. But after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman barred him from writing in the kingdom, he traveled to the United States. He reinvented himself as a prominent critic of the Saudi government — and of Crown Prince Mohammed in particular — and became a resident of Virginia.

On Oct. 2, he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document he needed to get married. His fiancée was waiting outside. But Mr. Khashoggi never came out.

His column on Wednesday was reminiscent of ones he had written before, which often condemned human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. He wrote that he had been reading a Freedom House report on political rights and civil liberties around the world, and it ranked most countries in the Arab world as “not free.”

“As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote. “They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives.”

He wrote about the hopes that had been shattered across the Middle East after Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 failed in several countries. And he wrote about governments’ efforts to imprison dissidents, block internet communication and censor the media.

He suggested the formation of a transnational media outlet — like Radio Free Europe, which was created by the United States government during the Cold War — that could be a platform for Arab writers, reporters and thinkers.

“We need to provide a platform for Arab voices,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote.

“We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.”

In her note, Ms. Attiah wrote that Mr. Khashoggi’s column “perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for.”

Matt Stevens contributed reporting.

Pentagon/CIA Continue To Double-Cross Every Ally In Syria, Except For the Kurds

Truckloads of US weapons continue to arm PKK terrorists in Syria–September 21, 2018

US continues to arm PKK/PYD terrorists in Syria

Russia accuses US of allowing ISIS Sanctuary to grow east of Euphrates

Kurdish leader says Syria gov’t will meet Daesh’s fate if they attack eastern Euphrates

 

US Sends 500 Trucks Of Arms To PKK/YPG Militants In Northern Syria In One Week

The US administration has supplied militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)’s Syrian affiliate, the YPG, with a sum of 500 truckloads of weapons in Syria’s Manbij in the past week alone, despite a deal between Ankara and Washington for the withdrawal of the group from the town.

The Manbij roadmap between Turkey and the US was agreed upon in June this year on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK from the town of Manbij to stabilize the region, which is in the Northeast of the Aleppo province in Northern Syria, the Turkish Yeni Safak paper reported.

The US forces in Syria’s Manbij have provided the YPG/PKK group with new construction equipment, allowing the militants to continue digging up trenches and build embankments around the town center.

As the US troops continue military and logistic transportation from Northern Iraq into Northeastern Syria, despite a deal between Ankara and Washington on the withdrawal of the terror group from the city, local sources told Anadolu Agency that the US also sent aid to YPG/PKK in the region.

Trucks, carrying four construction vehicles, were transported to Manbij. The US soldiers escorted the transfer of the construction machinery, which included 3 bulldozers and one excavator.

The YPG/PKK uses bulldozers and excavators to dig up trenches and embankments in the area.

PKK/KCK formed embankments at various depths in front of trenches to make up a series of lines stretching nearly 30 kilometers (18.06 miles).The trenches can be clearly seen in satellite photos taken by Anadolu Agency.

The YPG/PKK also built tunnels linking trenches to use during possible combat.

FARS

Russia accuses US of allowing ISIS Sanctuary to grow east of Euphrates

Russia accuses US inaction of allowing ISIS to grow east of Euphrates

Terrorists have managed to establish complete control over a 20-kilometer territory on the Euphrates’ east bank in Syria due to the inaction of pro-American groups, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Vladimir Savchenko said on Monday.

“As a result of inaction of pro-American groups, terrorists have managed to establish complete control over a 20-kilometer strip on the Euphrates’ east bank between the settlements of Hajin and al-Susa,” he said.

According to Savchenko, despite the United States’ statement on the defeat of Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia) terrorists, militants still enjoy control over some of Syria’s territories and the US-led coalition and pro-American Kurdish groups of the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to simulate fighting against militants in the south of the Deir ez-Zor governorate.

Thus, in his words, as many as 130 families (700 people) were taken to Hajin during the attack at a refugee camp near al-Bahrah on October 13.

The Russian reconciliation center continues to report ceasefire violations by militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone. “Thus, during the day, shelling attacks were reported in the settlements of Rashah, Akch Baer (thrice), Ain al-Naur, Jubb al-Zarur and Ikko in the Latakia governorate,” Savchenko said.

Officers of the Russian reconciliation center continue humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population.

Throughout the day, officers of the center conducted a humanitarian operation in the settlement of Bir Ajam in the al-Quneitra governorate.

A total of 1.3 tonnes of food products were distributed among civilians. Twenty-five wheelchairs, 50 blankets and 50 towels were handed over to the administration of a hospital in the city of Hamish in the Rif Dimashq governorate.

Trump Helping Saudis Squirm Out of “Intentional” Killing of Khashoggi In “Botched Interrogation”

Saudi Arabia will reportedly admit to killing Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia is prepared to admit that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation that went wrong, according to reports on Monday.

The kingdom is readying a report that will say Khashoggi’s death happened during an interrogation before being removed from Turkey, CNN reported.

The report will conclude that the operation was carried out “without clearance” and that those involved will be held responsible, the network said, but cautioned that it could still change.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Khashoggi was killed during a botched interrogation.

Separately, the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabian officials were developing a scenario that would shield Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman from any involvement.

It said that version would accuse a friend of the prince for carrying out the killing.

Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post, was living in self-imposed exile in the United States over the past year because he feared being arrested for writing critical articles about the Saudi ruling family.

The news comes after President Trump said he talked to Saudi King Salman and he “flatly denied” knowing anything about the disappearance of Khashoggi, who went missing from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After speaking to the king, Trump suggested that “rogue killers” may have been involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“He didn’t really know. Maybe – I don’t want to get into his mind – but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers – who knows?” the president said.

City of London–The epicentre of the global crime scene

City of London – The epicentre of the global crime scene

City of London - The Centre of the global crime scene

Originally published in May 2016: When it comes to The City of London, the term ‘tax haven’ is not describing all that it should. It is a It doesn’t just shield the mega-wealthy from paying their fair dues it goes further and offers a departure from the rule of law as you would know it. Secrecy is its raison d’être. These secrecy laws do not benefit the local people living in its jurisdiction but only those individuals and corporations with enough money and with something to hide.

 

The reality is that the City of London caters for those above the law, it operates on the basis of bypassing democratic society as a whole. This has come about over time where an extraordinary ‘ gentlemen’s agreement’ has stood the test of time. Over the centuries, the head of state and his/her governments have had the need for large loans for wars and the like. The City, in exchange for such commodity, has extracted certain privileges the rest of the population do not enjoy. The end result over the time is that it now has its own jurisdiction to do pretty much as it pleases.

A ‘watchman’ sits at the high table of parliament and is its official lobbyist sitting in the seat of power right next to the Speaker of the House who is “charged with maintaining and enhancing the City’s status and ensuring that its established rights are safeguarded.” The job is to maintain order and seek out political dissent that might arise against the CityThe City of London has its own private funding and will ‘buy-off’ any attempt to erode its powers; any scrutiny of its financial affairs are put beyond external inspection or audit.

For over a hundred years the Labour party tried in vain to abolish the City of London and its accompanying financial corruption. In 1917, Labour’s new rising star Herbert Morrison, the grandfather of Peter Mandelson made a stand and failed, calling it the “devilry of modern finance.” And although attempt after attempt was made throughout the following decades, it was Margaret Thatcher who succeeded by abolishing its opponent, the Greater London Council in 1986.

Tony Blair went about it another way and offered to reform the City of London in what turned out to be a gift from god. He effectively gave the vote to corporations which swayed the balance of democratic power away from residents and workers. It was received by its opponents as the greatest retrograde step since the peace treaty of 1215, Magna Carta. The City won its rights through debt financing in 1067, when William the Conqueror acceded to it and ever since governments have allowed the continuation of its ancient rights above all others.

The City effectively now stands as money launderer of the world, described now as the capital of the global crime scene. It is the heart and engine of the offshore haven, with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man its european collection centres, the caribbean and others hoovering up billions of American dollars from all over the globe. Whilst there are good and legal reasons for offshore accounts, it has a dark and shadowy client list; terrorists, drug barons, arms dealers, despots, dictators, shady politicians, corporations and companies, millionaires and billionaires  – most with something to hide.

The Independent newspaper reported in July 2015 that The City of London is the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to an internationally acclaimed crime expert. Another expert in Mafia criminology has come forward and stated the UK is now the most corrupt country in the world and firmly pins the blame on The City of London. In addition, every notable financial expert now agrees that due to incredibly lax financial laws facilitated by the British government, the London property market is heavily influenced by laundered money from all over the world involving hidden tax havens, most of which are British.

 

In 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee concluded that the London property market was the primary avenue for the laundering of £100bn of illicit money a year. Yes, £100 billion laundered each year – in property alone.

 

The London money launderers don’t just wash money from crime into property. Worse, they are financing terrorist activities and operations all over the world.

Her Majesty’s British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies make up around 25 per cent of the world’s tax havens, which are now blacklisted by the European Commission and now ranked as the most important player in the financial secrecy world.

Tax havens featured on the EC’s blacklist of June last year include Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands to name just a few and each is inextricably linked to the City of London’s crime offices.

David Cameron won praise in 2013 after announcing at the Open Government Partnership summit in London that the UK intended to require companies registered in the UK to reveal the identity of their real owners in public filings at Companies House. This was then heavily watered down after the Queen was warned that her British territories were now ranked as some of the world biggest tax havens, harbouring tens of trillions of illegally stashed cash and assets that was described as a “web of secrecy jurisdictions”. The Tax Justice Network (TJN) said Britain now rules the world of tax havens.

The consequence of its operations is that money laundering is now at such levels and so widespread that the authorities have recently admitted defeat in its battle of attrition by stating openly it has been completely overwhelmed and lost control.

 

Keith Bristow Director-General of the UK’s National Crime Agency said just six months ago that the sheer scale of crime and its subsequent money laundering operations was “a strategic threat” to the country’s economy and reputation and that “high-end money laundering is a major risk”.

 

Banks located in The City of London are connected to terrorists committing some of the worst atrocities of our time, the same with the international drug trafficking trade. Many people around the world are suffering and dying as a direct result of the activities going on in this one tiny regime. One bank alone laundered $7billion in cash. When caught its cocky arrogance was no better defined than its response “in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect” when they were fined $2billion in the USA for breaking international sanctions. Toothless financial regulators in Britain look aside and do nothing other than pay lip service to this crime wave set in the heart of one of the most important capital cities in the world.

This from Michael Meacher MP “After a blizzard of revelations of financial wrongdoing over this last year, without parallel in recent history, what do the following have in common: Barclays forced to pay $360m over its manipulation of Libor, HSBC fined $1.7bn for money-laundering and flouting sanctions, Standard Chartered made to pay $667m over breached in sanction laws, RBS over Libor fixing to name but some? They are all British companies that have committed very serious offences, but they were not prosecuted by British regulators at all, only by US ones.” The scandals escalated and the authorities had to act but did little in real terms.

As a consequence, the City of London remains politically immune and acts with criminal impunity as it sucks up what is now understood to be trillions in ill-gotten gains. Bankers and hedge-fund operators dodge the authorities with skill sets honed over hundreds of years who stride with disdain over anything remotely resembling decency. HMRC investigates nothing, it takes what it is given, the austerity ridden taxpayer continually short-changed.

It is of no coincidence that this small area of Britain, just 1.2 square miles has the highest pay in the land and the third lowest council tax for property anywhere in the United Kingdom. A £10 million mansion costs less than £1,000 a year in council tax, the same residence for New York bankers attracts $225,000 a year in property taxes.

At the last census, its population stood at just 7,325, its employees stand at 414,600, nearly 40 per cent of them in financial services. Nearly 17,000 businesses are registered there, 2,700 are finance and insurance based and just over 45 per cent are foreign owned entities. HSBC’s organisation is the ninth largest bank in the world following four Chinese and four American banks located down the road in Canary Wharf.

This tiny island haven, with its own borders and police force, sits inside London as an international hub, the tax haven of all tax havens. Glass towers full of international crime lords. The banks use offshore business organisations to escape regulation and the grip these organisations have over an ever corrupt political class is incomprehensibly astounding. The Conservative party is literally bankrolled by bankers and hedge funds. Half of the wealthiest hedge fund managers in the land pay millions each year to the Tories – what do they expect back from their investment? Not just hundreds of millions of stamp duty exemptions and taxes the hedge funds no longer have to pay.

The City of London would have you believe they contribute massively to the state for their efforts. One year after David Cameron’s arrival at No 10, corporation tax represented 40.8pc of tax collected from the London financial industry, while last year it was just 19.8pc. This is an environment where banks are earning even more by taking even bigger risks with our economy having fleeced the taxpayer for half a trillion pounds a few years earlier – enough additional money to fill the funding gaps for the NHS, education, police and social services for decades.

Unrecoverable VAT and employers’ National Insurance together make up over half of taxes borne, with corporation tax less than a fifth of this so called massive contribution. The City of London does very well like no other.

Thatcher’s neoliberal dream is now totally out of control. The legislators have capitulated to its power. Democracy is systematically deconstructed in favour of the corporations. In the legislators’ place, people-powered organisations emerge such as Tax Justice Network, Democratic Audit, New Economics Foundation to name a few who operate in the arena of social justice in an attempt not to stifle capitalism, but to level the playing field a bit.

Gunman arrested near Malibu park where camper was killed while with daughters

[California Chemist Mysteriously Shotgunned In His Sleep, While His Two Young Daughters Slept In L.A. Campground]

Gunman arrested near Malibu park where camper was killed while with daughters

 

CALABASAS, Calif. —  A man dressed in black and carrying a rifle was arrested Wednesday near Malibu Creek State Park, where a camper was shot and killed as he slept in a tent in June, authorities said. A vast search involving Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, a helicopter, search-and-rescue teams and detectives led to the arrest of Anthony Rauda, 42, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at an evening news conference.

The search was prompted by a series of at least eight burglaries over the past two years in the Calabasas-Malibu area in which food was stolen from local buildings. But for now, Rauda, who has a long criminal history, was only being held for a parole violation, the sheriff said.

Investigators had not ruled out a link to the shooting at the wilderness park, and the rifle will undergo ballistic testing to determine if it was used in any crimes, the sheriff said.

anthony-rouda.jpg

Anthony Rauda

 CBS LOS ANGELES

Only hours after his arrest, Rauda was being held without bail. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

Authorities had been looking for someone who broke into several offices and other buildings in the Malibu Canyon area and stolen food as far back as October 2016, including a string of burglaries in the past three months, McDonnell said. The investigation intensified after an Oct. 4 theft in which surveillance video recorded the suspected burglar wearing a mask and armed with a rifle.

On Tuesday, someone used a rock to smash the glass front door of the Agoura Hills-Calabasas Community Center and stole food from a vending machine.

On Wednesday, dozens of deputies began searching the canyon area and after several hours saw fresh boot prints leading to a steep ravine about a mile north of a road, McDonnell said.

A short time later, searchers heard movement in the brush and saw a man walking quickly. They stopped the man, who was dressed in black and had a rifle, and he surrendered, McDonnell said.

“I don’t know if he was living the brush or if there was housing out there,” the sheriff said.

CBS Los Angeles’ Stu Mundel reported from the station’s news helicopter overhead that there were many deputies — some undercover — and investigators on scene. He said they were seen “with boxes and bags of evidence” hiking down from an area way above the Malibu Creek State Park.

Rauda has a criminal history for burglary and weapons violations, he said.

Rauda potentially could face murder charges if the investigation links him to the death of Tristan Beaudette, 35, of Irvine. Beaudette was shot in the head as he camped with his two daughters, ages 2 and 4, in Malibu Creek State Park on June 22.

The park was closed after the killing.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department later said there had been seven other shootings in and around the park dating back to 2016.

James Rogers, a wildlife biologist, has told the Los Angeles Times that he was shot in November 2016 while sleeping in a hammock south of the park and needed surgery to remove shotgun pellets from his arm.

Malibu Creek State Park sprawls over more than 12 square miles in the rugged Santa Monica Mountains west of Los Angeles. It offers camping, hiking, biking, rock climbing as well as a look at locations used in filming Hollywood movies and TV shows, such as “MASH.”

 

US Intercepts Saudi Plans To Grab Khashoggi, But Refuse To Warn Expat Writer

Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show


Jamal Khashoggi with his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. (Courtesy of Hatice Cengiz)

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

Khashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

Khashoggi, however, was skeptical of the offers. He told one friend that the Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him.

“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’ ” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May, moments after Khashoggi had received a call from Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to the royal court.

Video claims to show chain of events in Istanbul on day of Khashoggi’s disappearance

A video obtained by The Washington Post purports to show events in Istanbul on the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. 

The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a “rendition,” in which someone is extra­legally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.

But Turkish officials have concluded that whatever the intent of the operation, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Investigators have not found his body, but Turkish officials have released video surveillance footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on the afternoon of Oct. 2. There is no footage that shows him leaving, they said.

The intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi have raised questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.

Intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident.

Jamal Khashoggi supporters urge Trump administration to investigate disappearance

Supporters of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared Oct. 2 at a Saudi consulate, urged the federal government to investigate on Oct. 10. 

“Duty to warn applies if harm is intended toward an individual,” said a former senior intelligence official. But that duty also depends on whether the intelligence clearly indicated Khashoggi was in danger, the former official said.

“Capturing him, which could have been interpreted as arresting him, would not have triggered a duty-to-warn obligation,” the former official said. “If something in the reported intercept indicated that violence was planned, then, yes, he should have been warned.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the warning process, declined to comment on whether Khashoggi had been contacted.

Administration officials have not commented on the intelligence reports that showed a Saudi plan to lure Khashoggi.

“Though I cannot comment on intelligence matters, I can say definitively the United States had no advance knowledge of [Khashoggi’s] disappearance,” deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Wednesday. Asked whether the U.S. government would have had a duty to warn Khashoggi if it possessed information that he was in jeopardy, Palladino declined to answer what he called a “hypothetical question.”

It was not clear to officials with knowledge of the intelligence whether the Saudis discussed harming Khashoggi as part of the plan to detain him in Saudi Arabia.

But the intelligence had been disseminated throughout the U.S. government and was contained in reports that are routinely available to people working on U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia or related issues, one U.S. official said.

The intelligence poses a political problem for the Trump administration because it implicates Mohammed, who is particularly close to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

On Wednesday, Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton spoke by phone with the crown prince, but White House officials said the Saudis provided little information.

Trump has grown frustrated, two officials said, after initially reacting slowly to Khashoggi’s disappearance. Earlier this week, he said he had no information about what had happened to the journalist.

White House officials have begun discussing how to force Saudi Arabia to provide answers and what punishment could be meted out if the government there is found responsible.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have reacted harshly to the disappearance. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators asked Trump to impose sanctions on anyone found responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, including Saudi leaders.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), perhaps the president’s closest ally in the Senate, predicted a “bipartisan tsunami” of action if the Saudis were involved and said that Khashoggi’s death could alter the nature of relations between the two countries.

Kushner’s relationship with Mohammed, known within national security agencies by the initials MBS, has long been the subject of suspicion by some American intelligence officials.

Kushner and Mohammed have had private, one-on-one phone calls that were not always set up through normal channels so the conversations could be memorialized and Kushner could be properly briefed.

For all his criticism of the Saudi regime, Khashoggi was not always opposed to Mohammed’s policies. Khashoggi credited the young leader for what he saw as positive changes, including loosening Saudi cultural restrictions.

Khashoggi often expressed affection for his homeland, even while saying he did not believe it was safe for him. One person in contact with the crown prince, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preserve the relationship, said Khashoggi last year asked him to give a message to Mohammed saying he needed someone like Khashoggi as an adviser.

When he transmitted the message, this person said, the crown prince said that Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Qatar, both Saudi adversaries, and that the arrangement would never happen.

Two other friends of Khashoggi said that at least twice he received cordial phone calls from Qahtani, the adviser to the prince, conveying friendly messages on his behalf.

In one of the calls, in September 2017, Qahtani said that Mohammed had been “very happy” to see Khashoggi post a message praising the kingdom after the government announced it was lifting a driving ban on women, according to one of the friends, who was with Khashoggi at the time. The tone of the call was pleasant, but Khashoggi also told Qahtani he would praise the government when there were “positive developments. When there are bad things, I will speak up.”

He spent the rest of the call advocating on behalf of several recently imprisoned critics of the regime.

A friend also said that Khashoggi told him he had been approached several times by a businessman close to the Saudi ruling family. The businessman, whom Khashoggi did not name, seemed “keen” to see him every time he visited Washington and told Khashoggi that he would work with the Saudi authorities to arrange his return, the friend said.

Kareem Fahim and Loveday Morris in Istanbul and Josh Dawsey, Karoun Demirjian, Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello in Washington contributed to this report.

Syria Received 24 S-300 Launchers and 300 Missiles…FOR FREE

Russia provided Syria two dozen S-300 launchers, 300 missiles for free: report

A Russian S-300 PMU2 Favorit surface-to-air missile system in Alabino, outside Moscow, last year.
AFP

Russia provided Syria’s military with two dozen advanced S-300 aerial missile defense launchers at no charge, a military source told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency on Monday.

The source said that the 24 S-300 launchers were transferred to Syria in three battalion sets with eight launchers each, and described the systems as “in good condition and are capable of performing combat tasks.”

“On October 1, three battalion sets of S-300PM systems of eight launchers each were delivered to Syria,” the source told the agency.

“These systems were previously deployed at one of the Russian aerospace forces’ regiments which now uses the [S-400] systems. The S-300 systems underwent capital repairs at Russian defense enterprises, are in good condition, and are capable of performing combat tasks,” he said.

The source added that the systems were given to Damascus for free, along with 100 surface-to-air guided missiles for each battalion — an arsenal of 300 in all.

Ties between Russia and Israel hit a snag last month over the accidental downing of a Russian jet by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli air raid in Latakia province on September 17, killing 15 Russian serviceman.

AFPLe président russe Vladimir Poutine et le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou 
AFP

Blaming Israel over the incident, Russia transferred its advanced S-300 missile defense system to Syria — a move Israel branded “irresponsible”.

Israel and the United States have vociferously opposed the decision by Russia to supply such weaponry to Syria, which they claim could exacerbate an already volatile situation and could impede Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in the region.

Until the incident, Russia — which is backing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government forces in the country’s civil war — had largely given Israeli warplanes a free hand over Syrian skies turning a blind eye to frequent strikes on Iranian positions and convoys transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the Iranian backed proxy operating in Syria.

But the delivery of the S-300 to Syria makes Israeli jets far more vulnerable in any future operations in the country.

Netanyahu has nonetheless reiterated that Israel will continue to act “at all times to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Netanyahu said Sunday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to meet “soon” to discuss continued military coordination in Syria.

The meeting would be the first between the two leaders since the friendly fire incident over Syria.

Deemed to be more efficient and advanced than any other interceptor missile system currently in Syrian possession, the S-300 can intercept not only planes but also ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 250 kilometers and at a very high altitude.

The S-300 system and the more advanced S-400 have been operational in Syria since 2016 but have only been used to protect Russian apparatus.

15 assassination squad and Jamal Khashoggi

 

MORNING, Saudi journalist Jamal Soonbill ‘s events involved in the disappearance of 15 people in the middle of mysterious intelligence team, reached the input images while Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

There's 15 assassination squad
SABAH announces the identity of the mysterious intelligence team of 15 people involved in the abduction of Saudi journalist Cemal Kaşıkçı , who disappeared after he entered the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2.

There's 15 assassination squad
Two people departing from Riyadh and landing at Ataturk Airport on 2 October with HZ SK1 and HZ SK2 tail number two Gulfstream IV private jet:

There's 15 assassination squad
1 – Meshal Saad M Albostani (born 1987): Passed the passport point at 01:45 . I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. He left the passport at 21:54 private jet belonging to Sky Prime Aviation.

There's 15 assassination squad
2- Salah Muhammad A Tubaigy (born in 1971): He arrived at Atatürk Airport on 2 October at 03:38 with a private jet owned by Sky Prime Aviation. I stayed at Mövenpick Hotel. At 20:29, he drove off again with a private jet.

There's 15 assassination squad
3- Naif Hassan S. Alarifi (born in 1986): Arrived on a scheduled plane, at 16:12 , he made the passport. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. At 21:45, Sky Prime Aviation departed for a private jet.

There's 15 assassination squad
4- Muhammed Saad H. Alzahrani (born in 1988): He arrived on a scheduled flight from Ataturk Airport, at 16:53 he made a pass from the passport. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. At 21:48 am, he left the passport to return to the private jet of Sky Prime Aviation.

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5- Mansur Othman M. Abahüseyin (born in 1972): He arrived on a scheduled flight from Atatürk Airport, arriving at the passport at 16:13. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. He left the passport at 21:45.

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6- Khaled Aedh G. Altaibi (born in 1988): Arrived by scheduled plane to Ataturk Airport, arriving at the passport at 01:44. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. He checked out of the passport at 20:28.

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7- Abdulaziz Muhammed M. Alhawsawi (born 1987): Arrived to Ataturk Airport by scheduled plane, arriving at the passport at 01:43. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel. Sky Prime Aviation, a private jet company returned from the passport at 20:28.

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8. Waleed Abdullah M. Alsehri (born in 1980): arrived at Atatürk Airport by private jet belonging to Sky Prime Aviation, entered at 3:41 pm. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He drove off again at 17.45pm to return to the private jet.

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9- Turki Musharraf M. Alsehri (born in 1982): Arrived by private jet, arriving at the passport at 03:39. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He drove off again at 17.45pm to return to the private jet.

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10- Thaar Ghaleb T. Alharbi (born 1979): arrived at Atatürk Airport by private jet belonging to Sky Prime Aviation, entered at 3:41 pm. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. It was a private jet at 17.40.

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11 – Maher Abdulaziz M. Mutreb (born in 1971): Arrived by private jet at Atatürk Airport, arriving at the passport at 03:38. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. She left at 17:57.

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12- Fahad Shabib A. Albalawi (born 1985): Sky Prime came from Aviation’s private jet. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He drove off again at 17.45.

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13- Badr Lafi M. Alotaibi (born in 1973): He arrived at Atatürk Airport by private jet belonging to Sky Prime Aviation. He entered the passport from 3:41 am. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He drove off again at 17.45pm to return to the private jet.

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14- Mustafa Muhammed M. Almadani (born in 1961): He arrived at Atatürk Airport by a private jet owned by Sky Prime Aviation. He entered the passport at 3:41 am. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He left at 00:18, on a scheduled flight.

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15- Saif Saad Q Alqahtani (born in 1973): He arrived at Atatürk Airport by private jet belonging to Sky Prime Aviation. At 3:41 pm he entered the passport. I stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel. He left the passport at 00:20 to go scheduled.

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CESET CONTROL IN THE VALUES

In the safety report, it is stated that the persons who are going to be on the plane have checked the General Aviation Terminal to see whether the bags they have passed through the X-RAY device have been checked and the following information is given:

“When the X-RAY security guard was asked, ‘If there are fragmented body parts in these luggage, it can be seen at the time of passing through the devices”, and the security officer stated that the marks of the body parts can be seen from the device and therefore there are no negative images in the luggage of 7 passengers. The unit was live watched at 22:00 and the parking area of ​​the aircraft was detected and the camera angles were recorded.

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INVESTIGATION OF CONSULATION

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hami Aksoy, Saudi Arabia’s consul general of Istanbul, disappeared after the disappearance of Saudi journalist Cemal Kaşıkçı’ya, “Consulate building will be examined in the building” information. Aksoy, Kaşıkçı’nın answered the question about the situation. “The investigation initiated by our authorities for the purpose of detecting the fate of the past is being carried out intensively,” he said. In the framework of the consulate building will be examined. ” The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also appointed a deputy attorney general and a public prosecutor for the judicial proceedings in the consulate. Last night at 21.30, three people entered the back door of the Consulate General with a tool kit. People staying for 1 hour in the interior of some of the door locks were suggested. In other news, UN Human Rights Office spokesman Ravina Shamdasani commented on the disappearance of Cemal Kasikci, “If the reports reported about his death are true, this is really shocking.”

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POLICE AIRPLANE SEARCHED DIDDY DID

On October 2, when the incident and the police officers were on the scene, HZ searched for the SK2 tail-numbered special jeep and examined all the camera records. According to the report prepared after this review, “MIT staff, according to the declaration of the possibility of kidnapping Cemal Kasikçı’nın confirmed, related to the issue to the point manager to promptly provide the passenger and crew information was given instructions, 7 passengers waiting in the hall was checked visually but the person sought this It was seen that there was not between passengers “. The aircraft was allowed to take off when there was no negativity.

İşte 15 kişilik suikast timiThere’s 15 assassination squad

The last appearance of Cemal Kaşıkçı (60), who was involved in the disappearances at the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, showed the moment when he entered the consulate building. The vehicles entering the house of the Consul General were examined. 2.5 hours after entering Kaşıkçı’s Consulate General, it was determined that six vehicles carrying 15 Saudi officials and the intelligence team emerged from the consulate general. The Mercedes-Vito-branded consulate-general vehicle, which also includes Kaşıkçı, entered the residence of Consulate General Muhammad al-Katibi, 200 meters from the consulate, along with another Audi brand. According to the determination of the safety of the vehicle in question, 3 days after staying in the condo returned to the building.

There’s 15 assassination squad

İşte 15 kişilik suikast timi
TRUMP: THE CONCERN

US President Donald Trump commented on the missing journalist Cemal Kasikci and said, “I am worried. Nobody knows anything at the moment. Trump also announced that he would meet with Saudi officials regarding the occasion of Kaşıkçı. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, were found in Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s calls to give more information to fully cooperate for the investigation carried out.

İşte 15 kişilik suikast timi

Saudi journalist Cemal Kasikci, 3 days before the disappearance of the interview, “Criticizing journalists are arrested. Arrested even not dissent. These people frighten,” he emerged. In an interview with the BBC, “I’m just a journalist. The Washington Post has given me an area and I write my thoughts there freely. I wish that opportunity had been given to me in my own country.” specified.

 

Watchdog demanded investigation into Nikki Haley’s private flights before she resigned

Watchdog demanded investigation into Nikki Haley’s private flights before she resigned

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced her resignation Tuesday after a watchdog group demanded that the State Department investigate private flights she accepted from South Carolina businessmen while serving in her current role.

[READ: Nikki Haley’s letter of resignation]

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a request Monday with the State Department’s inspector general asking that Haley be investigated over seven free flights on luxury aircraft she and her husband were gifted by three prominent executives in her home state of South Carolina.

The nonprofit organization, known as CREW, estimated that the air travel between New York, Washington, and three cities in South Carolina was worth “tens of thousands of dollars” to the ambassador.

In a press release, CREW said Haley’s 2017 public financial disclosure report stated the flights were not prohibited by federal ethics regulations because of her personal relationship with the men.

“The report, however, does not provide enough information to demonstrate that this exception was applicable to the flights,” the group wrote in a statement. “Whether the exception applies depends partly on whether the three businessmen were the only sources of the gifts; if business entities were sources of the gifts, the exception was inapplicable.”

Haley confirmed Tuesday she would be departing the top diplomatic post at the end of the year during a White House press event with President Trump in the Oval Office.

Chinese To Sell 48 High-End Attack/Spy Drones To Pakistan To Offset Indian S-400s

FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, file photo, a model of the Wing Loong II weaponized drone hangs above the stand for the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. at a military drone conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, who are world’s main distributor of armed drones. The sales are helping expand Chinese influence across a region crucial to American security interests and bolstering Beijing’s ambitions of being a world leader in high-tech arms sales. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

 

China to sell 48 high-end military drones to Pakistan

BEIJING: China will sell 48 high-end armed drones to its “all-weather ally” Pakistan in what a military observer said will be the largest deal of its kind, official media here reported Tuesday.

The cost of the major defence deal was not revealed.


Wing Loong II is a high-end reconnaissance, strike and multi-role endurance unmanned aerial system, capable of being fitted with air-to-surface weapons.

 


It is roughly equivalent to the American MQ-9 Reaper drone.

The drones will also be jointly manufactured by China and Pakistan, state-run Global Times reported.

Last year, China reportedly sold to countries like the UAE and Egypt the Wing Loong II at an estimated USD 1 million per unit, reports said.

China, an “all-weather ally” of Islamabad, is the largest supplier of weapon system to the Pakistan Army. Both the countries also jointly manufacture JF-Thunder a single engine multi-role combat aircraft.

The announcement by China to permit the sale of high-end military drones comes in the immediate backdrop of India’s move to acquire S-400 sophisticated missile defence systems from Russia. The deal was clinched during last week’s visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi.


The Trump administration has agreed to sell sell 22 Sea Guardian drones to India. The country is reported to have received 10 advanced Heron drones from Israel as well.

 

The deal for the acquisition of the drones manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company was announced by Pakistan Air Force’s Sherdils Aerobatic Team on its official Facebook account on Sunday, the Global Times report said without giving details about when the deal was struck or when the drones would be delivered.

The air force academy aerobatics team announced that in the future, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company will jointly manufacture the drones, the report said.

Wing Loong II drone made its maiden flight in February last year, an earlier report by the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

A report in December last year said Wing Loong II has already obtained the largest order of Chinese UAVs in the overseas market, even before its maiden flight. But the report did not specify the buyer.

According to the report, the system is composed of the ground station and various number of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Within 10 months of its maiden flight, multiple live firing tests had been conducted in accordance with the requirement of its customers, including stationary targets, moving targets, time sensitive targets and air-ground coordination, the report said.

A deal involving as many as 48 Wing Loong IIs, if confirmed, would be China’s largest export deal for drones to date, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.

It makes sense the aerobatic team was closely involved with the deal, Song said, noting that the team is expected to train the drone operators.

The deal is trustworthy given the close military ties between the two countries and Pakistan’s need for drones, Song said.

US drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are technologically more advanced, but Washington limits their export, Song said.

Chinese drones will enjoy more success in the international market in the future, he said, as they perform similarly at a lower cost.

China still lags behind the US, Russia and France in total arms sales but it is catching up. Chinese arms exports rose by 38 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global arms trade.

Pak Govt Cuts Chinese CPEC Lifeline/Gwadar Development Handed To Saudis

Authored by James Dorsey via Mid East Soccer blog,

Desperate for funding to fend off a financial crisis fuelled in part by mounting debt to China, Pakistan is playing a complicated game of poker that could hand Saudi Arabia a strategic victory in its bitter feud with Iran at the People’s Republic’s expense.

The Pakistani moves threaten a key leg of the USD60 billion plus Chinese investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a crown jewel of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative.

They also could jeopardize Chinese hopes to create a second overland route to Iran, a key node in China’s transportation links to Europe. Finally, they grant Saudi Arabia a prominent place in the Chinese-funded port of Gwadar that would significantly weaken Iran’s ability to compete with its Indian-backed seaport of Chabahar.

Pakistan’s first move became evident in early September with the government’s failure to authorise disbursements for road projects, already hit by delays in Chinese approvals, that are part of CPEC’s Western route, linking the province of Balochistan with the troubled region of Xinjiang in north-western China.

In doing so, Pakistan implicitly targeted a key Chinese driver for CPEC: the pacification of Xinjiang’s Turkic Muslim population through a combination of economic development enhanced by trade and economic activity flowing through CPEC as well as brutal repression and mass re-education.

The combination of Pakistani and Chinese delays “has virtually brought progress work on the Western route to a standstill,” a Western diplomat in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad said.

Pakistani Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, in a further bid to bring Pakistani government expenditure under control that at current rates could force the country to seek a $US 12 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has cut $2 billion dollars from the US$8.2 billion budget to upgrade and expand Pakistan’s railway network, a key pillar of CPEC. Mr. Rashid plans to slash a further two billion dollars.

“Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford (the) huge burden of the loans…. CPEC is like the backbone for Pakistan, but our eyes and ears are open,” Mr. Rashid said.

The budget cuts came on the back of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party projecting CPEC prior to the July 25 election that swept him to power to as a modern-day equivalent of the British East India Company, which dominated the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century.

PTI criticism included denouncing Chinese-funded mass transit projects in three cities in Punjab as a squandering of funds that could have better been invested in social spending. PTI activists suggested that the projects had involved corrupt practices.

Pakistan’s final move was to invite Saudi Arabia to build a refinery in Gwadar and invest in Balochistan mining. Chinese questioning of Pakistan’s move was evident when the Pakistani government backed off suggestions that Saudi Arabia would become part of CPEC.

Senior Saudi officials this week visited Islamabad and Gwadar to discuss the deal that would also involve deferred payments on Saudi oil supplies to Pakistan and create a strategic oil reserve close to Iran’s border.

“The incumbent government is bringing Saudi Arabia closer to Gwadar. In other words, the hardline Sunni-Wahhabi state would be closer than ever to the Iranian border. This is likely to infuriate Tehran,”said Baloch politician and former Pakistani ports and shipping minister Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

Pakistan’s game of poker amounts to a risky gamble that serves Pakistani and Saudi purposes, puts China whose prestige and treasure are on the line in a difficult spot, could perilously spark tension along the Pakistan-Iran border, and is likely to provoke Iranian counter moves. It also risks putting Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, who depend on China economically in different ways, in an awkward position.

The Saudi engagement promises up to US$10 billion in investments as well as balance of payments relief. It potentially could ease US concerns that a possible IMF bailout would help Pakistan service debt to China.

A refinery and strategic oil reserve in Gwadar would serve Saudi Arabia’s goal of preventing Chabahar, the Indian-backed Iranian port, from emerging as a powerful Arabian Sea hub at a time that the United States is imposing sanctions designed to choke off Iranian oil exports.

A Saudi think tank, the International Institute for Iranian Studies, previously known as the Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies (AGCIS) that is believed to be backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, argued last year in a study that Chabahar posed “a direct threat to the Arab Gulf states” that called for “immediate counter measures.”

Written by Mohammed Hassan Husseinbor, an Iranian political researcher of Baloch origin, the study warned that Chabahar would enable Iran to increase its oil market share in India at the expense of Saudi Arabia, raise foreign investment in the Islamic republic, increase government revenues, and allow Iran to project power in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Husseinbor suggested that Saudi support for a low-level Baloch insurgency in Iran could serve as a countermeasure. “Saudis could persuade Pakistan to soften its opposition to any potential Saudi support for the Iranian Baluch… The Arab-Baluch alliance is deeply rooted in the history of the Gulf region and their opposition to Persian domination,” Mr. Husseinbor said.

Noting the vast expanses of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Mr. Husseinbor went on to say that “it would be a formidable challenge, if not impossible, for the Iranian government to protect such long distances and secure Chabahar in the face of widespread Baluch opposition, particularly if this opposition is supported by Iran’s regional adversaries and world powers.”

Saudi militants reported at the time the study was published that funds from the kingdom were flowing into anti-Shiite, anti-Iranian Sunni Muslim ultra-conservative madrassas or religious seminaries in Balochistan.

US President Donald J. Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, last year before assuming office, drafted at the request of Mr. Trump’s then strategic advisor, Steve Bannon, a plan that envisioned US support “for the democratic Iranian opposition,” including in Balochistan and Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province.

All of this does not bode well for CPEC. China may be able to accommodate Pakistan by improving commercial terms for CPEC-related projects and Pakistani debt as well as easing Pakistani access to the Chinese market. China, however, is likely to find it far more difficult to prevent the Saudi-Iranian rivalry from spinning out of control in its backyard.

Goodbye Diplomacy, Hello Stone Age

[In their relentless quest to create the appearance of “Russian aggression”, US diplomats push Russia and the US into a potential nuclear confrontation over CIA suppositions about Russian cruise missile developments.  Claiming with absolute certainty that Russian cruise missiles exceed ranges limited by the INF Treaty, US diplomats talk war to eliminate the Russian threat, ignoring undeniable evidence that US Aegis missile launcher systems now based in Romania can launch either the (SM-3) Standard Missile or Tomahawk missiles (nuclear or conventional warheads).  The Russian missile in question is cited as the 9M729 missile, a.k.a., “Iskander”.]

Russia Deploying Iskander Missiles To Westernmost Kaliningrad To Counter US Anti-Missile Deployments
Iskandar Missile—720 Kilos of High Explosive At Mach 3

US Openly Threatens Russia with War: Goodbye Diplomacy, Hello Stone Age

PETER KORZUN

US Openly Threatens Russia with War: Goodbye Diplomacy, Hello Stone AgeUS Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison is a highly placed diplomat. Her words, whatever they may be, are official, which includes the ultimatums and threats that have become the language increasingly used by US diplomats to implement the policy of forceful persuasion or coercive diplomacy. Bellicose declarations are being used this way as a tool.

On Oct. 2, the ambassador proved it again. According to her statement, Washington is ready to use force against Russia. Actually, she presented an ultimatum — Moscow must stop the development of a missile that the US believes to be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). If not, the American military will destroy it before the weapon becomes operational. “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries,” Hutchison stated at a news conference. “Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty,” she added. “They are on notice.” This is nothing other than a direct warning of a preemptive strike.

It is true that compliance with the INF Treaty is a controversial issue. Moscow has many times claimed that Washington was in violation, and that position has been substantiated. For instance, the Aegis Ashore system, which has been installed in Romania and is to be deployed in Poland, uses the Mk-41 launcher that is capable of firing intermediate-range Tomahawk missiles.

[A Tomahawk missile being launched from the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System]

This is a flagrant breach of the INF Treaty. The fact is undeniable. The US accuses Moscow of possessing and testing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310-3,417 miles), but there has never been any proof to support this claim. Russia has consistently denied the charges. It says the missile in question — the 9M729 — is in compliance with the provisions of the treaty and has never been upgraded or tested for the prohibited range.

This is a reasonable assertion. After all, there is no way to prevent such tests from being detected and monitored by satellites. The US could raise the issue with the Special Verification Commission (SVC). Instead it threatens to start a war.

This is momentous, because the ambassador’s words were not a botched statement or an offhand comment, but in fact followed another “warning” made by a US official recently.

Speaking on Sept. 28 at an industry event in Pennsylvania hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested that the US Navy could be used to impose a blockade to restrict Russia’s energy trade. “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” he said, revealing that this was an option. The Interior Department has nothing to do with foreign policy, but Mr. Zinke is a high-ranking member of the administration.

Two bellicose statements made one after another and both are just short of a declaration of war! A blockade is a hostile act that would be countered with force, and the US is well aware of this. It is also well aware that Russia will defend itself. It’s important to note that no comments or explanations have come from the White House. This confirms the fact that what the officials have said reflects the administration’s position.

This brings to mind the fact that the Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act has passed the House of Representatives. The legislation includes the authority to inspect Chinese, Iranian, Syrian, and Russian ports. Among the latter are the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok. This is an openly hostile act and a blatant violation of international law. If the bill becomes law, it will likely  start a war with the US acting as the aggressor.

Trident Juncture, the largest training event held by NATO since 2002, kicks off on October 25 and will last until November 7, 2018. It will take place in close proximity to Russia’s borders. Russia’s Vostok-2018 exercise in September was the biggest seen there since the Cold War, but it was held in the Far East, far from NATO’s area of responsibility. It’s NATO, not Russia, who is escalating the already tense situation in Europe by holding such a large-scale exercise adjacent to Russia’s borders.

Russia is not the only country to be threatened with war. Attempts are being made to intimidate China as well. Tensions are running high in the South China Sea, where US and Chinese ships had an “unsafe” interaction with each other on Sept. 30. A collision was barely avoided. As a result, US Defense Secretary James Mattis had to suspend his visit to China when it was called off by Beijing. The security dialog between the two nations has stalled.

Perhaps the only thing left to do is to give up on having a normal relationship with the United States. Ambassador Hutchison’s statement is sending a clear message of: “forget about diplomacy, we’re back to the Stone Age,” with Washington leading the way. This is the new reality, so get used to it. Just shrug it off and try to live without the US, but be vigilant and ready to repel an attack that is very likely on the way.

It should be noted that Moscow has never threatened the US with military action. It has never deployed military forces in proximity to America’s shores. It did not start all those unending sanctions and trade wars. When exposing the US violations of international agreements, it has never claimed that the use of force was an option. It has tried hard to revive the dialog on arms control and to coordinate operations in Syria. But it has also had to issue warnings about consequences, in case it were provoked to respond to a hostile act. If the worst happens, we’ll all know who is to blame. Washington bears the responsibility for pushing the world to the brink of war.

Americans Must End the War on Terror

Americans Must End the War on Terror

The War on Terror has been a waste of money, resources, and lives while also furthering government surveillance and the war economy.

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By Harley Austin | United States

17 years ago, on October 7th, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan. They have been in the endless war since. As a result, thousands on both sides have died, and permanent scarring, both physical and mental, has affected countless others. The invasion of Afghanistan would also pave the way for the Iraq War and countless other U.S. interventions in the Middle East that continue to this day.

According to the United States government, they invaded Afghanistan to go after Al Qaeda, namely Osama Bin Laden. However, 17 years later, and 7 since Bin Laden’s death, over 8000 troops are still in the country. This, of course, is only a small part of the overall American presence in the Middle East.

Despite promises from multiple presidents to withdraw troops from the Middle East, the U.S. is still heavily involved. With 21 trillion dollars of national debt, a 720 billion dollar military budget, thousands of deaths, and Trump setting his sites on a new target: Iran, it’s time to serially evaluate the country’s massive military intervention. To do this, we have to analyze the results and intentions of our endless wars.

The Pretext of “Fighting Terrorism”

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” -James Madison

The primary excuse the government gives for American imperialism is “to fight terrorism”. However, this is absolutely fallacious, given the US’s history of funding terror groups or soon-to-be terror groups. Ignoring the anti-Soviet support of fundamentalist and nationalist “rebel” groups in the 1980s, the U.S. has funded numerous terror groups. In many cases, they have supplied groups with both money and equipment.

Most recently, the U.S. armed rebels in Syria in an attempt to topple Bashar Al-Assad. Similar practices have also taken place in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Yemen. In fact, a U.S. and Saudi coalition in Yemen is now allied with the Yemeni Al-Qaeda with the full support of its American members.

Counter-terrorism is also the excuse for a massive infringement upon American rights: massive surveillance. By passing the PATRIOT Act in wake of 9/11, the state virtually voided the right to privacy. The pretext for this has been the typical government security scam of “keeping people safe”.

However, there’s only one thing surveillance has kept safe: the government. Whether it be cruel and unusual punishments of suspected “terrorists” or the NSA’s collection of the private data of millions of innocent Americans without warrants, spying has been used the same way all government authority is used: to gain and maintain power.

The Pretext of “Spreading Democracy”

The second major excuse has been “spreading democracy” or “toppling dictators”. This has been a go-to excuse for unjust U.S. military intervention since Woodrow Wilson. Like the previous pretext, the idea of America “spreading democracy” is ridiculous, given its long track record of using coups, rebellions, and instability to install complacent dictators. From Latin America to South America, to Cold War Europe, to the Middle East, the U.S. has pulled the strings behind regime changes for over 100 years. Such a practice started as a means of expanding imperialist control over the world. Since then, it has grown in both scope and subtlety.

The first major case of “toppling dictators” in the Middle East was Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War in 2003. This also contained the myth that “Saddam had WMDs”, which clearly was not true. Saddam did, however, nationalize Iraqi oil, as mentioned below. The absolute fiasco of the “post”-war Iraq only led to massive instability and the rise of more terror groups. Conveniently, the U.S. was able to then start more wars.

A Fearsome Repetition

This whole scene repeated itself in Libya in 2011. This time, the official justification was a desire to bring a cease-fire to the Libyan Civil War. In reality, it was an obvious U.S. attempt to depose Gaddafi, who also nationalized the oil industry. Since then, there have been attempts to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through both supporting rebel groups and making questionable claims of using chemical weapons.

Now, however, the U.S. has set its sights on Iran, its Middle Eastern rival ever since the Iranian Revolution in the 70s. Ironically, it was the U.S.-backed 1953 coup (against an Iranian Prime Minister who nationalized the oil industry) and the Western-backed Shah that led to that revolution. Today, the United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, despite doing so themselves. Unfortunately, another war or regime change appears imminent. However, the goal will merely be to remove a thorn from America’s side under the guise of good intention. War is what the United States wants, and it succeeds.

The Real Reasons: Oil and Empires

Now that we’ve covered the pretexts governments have used to justify the War on Terror, let’s look into two of the real reasons we’ve been at war. Like all empires in history, the United States is after resources. Specifically, they are targeting oil and imperialist might.

The Oligarchy of Oil

Oil companies have had massive pull in U.S. politics for decades. In domestic cases, they have used their influence to gain subsidies and “environmental protection” agencies to crush their competition. Once again, restrictions lead to cronyism, practically making “Big Oil” its own industrial complex. In foreign cases, oil companies used their millions in lobbying powers to protect their interests abroad.

The reason for this is simple. Denationalization of massive oil reserves brings a black gold rush of Western companies desperate to gain resources. The U.S. dollar is also the sole currency for international exchanging of petroleum. With great power over the oil trade comes a great desire to keep non-compliant countries in line.

The desire for oil also conveniently intertwines with the desire for imperialist control in one place: Saudi Arabia. A fundamentalist monarchy, Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. ally for decades. This is primarily due to the massive amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia.

Middle Eastern Geopolitics

Moreover, there is another major issue at hand: the miniature Cold War between the Saudis and Iranians. Saudi Arabia, predominantly Sunni, and Iran, predominantly Shiite, have been fighting for centuries. However, things intensified during the Cold War, when the Soviets and Americans entered the mix. As America created instability, Iran and Saudi Arabia began a proxy war that has spread across the region. From Iraq to Syria to Yemen, the two have been funding insurgencies and allied terror groups.

Since Iran is an American enemy due to past intervention, the U.S. has allied with Saudi Arabia. It has also been willing to use its military might to crush Saudi enemies in order to maintain the oil-for-weapons trade. Such an alliance, along with the coalitions formed from it, have been behind numerous atrocities. Most recently, this includes the bombing of a bus full of Yemeni children.

The Military Industrial Complex

This leads to the main reason for modern warfare: defense contractors. Many may think that the inherently destructive consequences of war mean that nations would want to avoid them. While citizens may hold this view, governments often do not. A parasite on the people, the state actually benefits from war, in both imperial and monetary means. The government and private defense contractors hold a symbiotic relationship. Together, their cooperation forms the military industrial complex.

An industrial complex is when government regulation favors certain companies to the point where that company becomes a de facto extension of the state. The nominally private organization depends on the state to survive. Industrial complexes exist in any industry the government tampers with, from agriculture to energy.

The one we will be discussing is the military industrial complex. Some of the major names in it are defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and many more. The military gives these companies contracts to build destructive weaponry for wars. Though the private sector makes the equipment, the taxpayers ultimately pay for it, due to the contracts. This accounts for a sizable portion of the overall military budget.

Political Payola

By definition, the military industrial complex is flawed and in opposition to the idea of liberty. However, what it does in our political system makes it far worse. The companies depend on a large military budget and wars to exist. Congress can easily make sure they have no shortage of either. Last year alone, defense contractors spent 65 billion dollars lobbying Congress, which makes this particularly easy. This coincidently occurred in the same year in which the military budge drastically increased to 720 billion dollars.

To put it simply, the cycle works like this. First, military contractors lobby Congress. Then, Congress continues the endless War on Terror and increase the military budget. The US taxpayers are forced to pay for this through taxes and the country goes further into debt. Finally, the defense contractors gets billions of dollars manufacturing weaponry and start the whole process again in the next fiscal year. Modern War does nothing but steal the money from the US taxpayers and give it to politicians and defense contractors. The government and the military industrial complex get rich of our money and We the People are left with the bill and the debt.

A Simple Solution

The solution to this issue is relatively simple. First, the American people must stop voting for politicians who support wars and an increased military budget. This consists of both major parties.  War, the state-sponsored killing of civilians and the unnecessary destruction of foreign nations, deserves no support. A benevolent intention does not excuse mass murder, and neither does an R or a D on a ballot. Endless war is not a national strength: it is a tyranny of a parasitical government.

Consistent Opposition

Second, the American people must stop joining the military. The state needs bodies to operate the military and its industrial complex, and with this, it can kill on grand scales. Those who join the military are actively working for the state In many cases, they are ill-informed, truly believing they are fighting for their country. Thus, it is essential to peacefully inform the public about the true nature of the military. Yes, they are serving their country, but in a way that only enables slaughter. In order to end wars, we must deprive the state of the manpower it needs.

Finally, the American people must actively speak out against the War on Terror and all unjust government actions stemming from it. We must not give our rights away. Syria, Iran, and the terrorists do not take them away; the culprit is the American government.

SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER 9/11, The world in a perpetual state of war

SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER 9/11

The world in a perpetual state of war

 BANGLADESH

At 11am on September 11, 2001 the Bush administration had already declared that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At 9:30pm a War Cabinet was formed comprising of top intelligence and military advisers. And at 11pm, at the end of its historic meeting at the White House, the “War on Terror” was officially announced.

For those who have never read Orwell, his comment that, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous” may sound more real than fiction 17 years after 9/11 and the launching of the western world’s War on Terror. And yet, the worldwide Orwellian surveillance state formed and justified by the threat of terrorism that has stripped everyone of their right to privacy, is not the only cost that has had to be borne because of it.

According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute, America’s War on Terror from September 12, 2001 through fiscal year 2018 cost its taxpayers a whopping USD 5.6 trillion. On average, that’s at least USD 23,386 per taxpayer.

In terms of debt, the War on Terror added USD 2.1 trillion, or more than 10 percent to the US debt. And according to the US Department of Defence’s “Cost of War” report in 2017, the US had spent USD 250 million per day for 16 years on “defence” since 9/11.

All this, however, is only America’s dollar costs of the war.

It does not consider the complete and total destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and so on and so forth. It does not account for the millions of homes destroyed, people displaced, and lives lost and ruined because of war. And it also does not include the cost of the continuing worldwide destabilisation caused as a result of the War on Terror itself.

Which is why, the true cost of the War on Terror is, in reality, incalculable. After all, how can you assign dollar values to the larger human costs and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost? How can you even begin to estimate a cost in terms of the number of children whose futures have been ruined because of such conflicts?

According to legendary journalist Tom Engelhardt, in January 2018, “America’s war on terror…[had] spread to 76 countries across the globe.” That is roughly 39 percent of the planet, as identified by the Cost of War Project.

Fifteen years after the invasion of Iraq, which led to more than eight years of occupation of that country, it has been estimated that around 4,500 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq alone. While most western mainstream estimates put the number of Iraqi civilians killed at somewhere between 100,000 and 165,000, even they are forced to admit that the number may actually be closer to one million when those who died indirectly because of the war are factored in.

Now, keeping in mind that the number of casualties in the majority of the 76 countries that America’s War on Terror has spread to is much lower, just try to come up with an estimate of how many have died because of it. At best, it is a futile exercise, and at worst, it is equivalent to the gravest of crimes committed since the end of the Second World War.

Yet, for the most part, the so-called War on Terror is far from over as it continues to terrorise millions of people around the world even today. For example, 10 years after the initial invasion of Iraq, the US “had to” send in more troops to Iraq and Syria to deal with the Islamic State (IS). Whereas at the time of the Iraq invasion, the IS did not even exist even though now it supposedly poses the greatest threat of terrorism to the world in its entirety—and the fight against IS continues.

As even American military experts have had to concede, IS would most likely never have come into being if it wasn’t for the Iraq invasion. Thus, all of these “costs” are simply a blowback for America’s War on Terror.

Yet, what is often forgotten is that the rise of al-Qaeda and, therefore, the 9/11 attacks themselves were blowbacks for America’s funding of the Mujahideen (that eventually turned into al-Qaeda) in Afghanistan to drive out the Soviet Union. And while some may see that as noble, what should also be remembered is that it was US President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had lured the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in the first place, to overstretch itself, as he himself had later admitted in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998.

What that shows is that just like US policymakers never learned from funding the Mujahideen when 9/11 happened, they haven’t learnt from the events of 9/11 either—to not intervene in other countries in order to avoid such terrible consequences later on. And while it is ordinary people that suffer from these consequences, arms manufacturers and war contractors continue to make windfall profits as poverty, inequality and starvation rage across our war-torn planet.

And this is where things get really Orwellian.

As George Orwell wrote way back in 1949, in his book 1984: “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance…In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”

Considering that, perhaps the only way to achieve what US President Donald Trump says he wants to, which is to “Make America great again”, is to “Make Orwell fiction again”, rather than our everyday reality. And, with that in mind, to end the perpetual state of war that the world has been mired in for 17 long years, because of the War on Terror.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the editorial team at The Daily Star. His Twitter handle is: @EreshOmarJamal

Venezuela, China, Russia and Cuba are deployed in an exercise on the border with Colombia

Venezuela, China, Russia and Cuba are deployed in an exercise on the border with Colombia


Contingent of the Cuban `Black Wasps’ paraded in front of the Venezuelan pavilion. Photo: Operational Strategic Command of Venezuela.

 

Caracas

Carlos E. Hernández

The National Armed Forces (FAN) carried out, between September 22 and 29, a combined exercise in which a huge amount of material was deployed along with some 100,000 troops, as well as Chinese, Cuban and Russian soldiers. The Combined Strategic Operation 2018 was carried out, “along the 2,219 kilometers of border between Colombia and Venezuela”, as part of the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the Operational Strategic Command of the FAN (Ceofan)

“Venezuela is a democratic social state of law and justice and its Armed Forces are in constant training to raise the operational readiness,” said Ceofan’s commander, Admiral in Chief Remigio Ceballos Ichaso. He added that the four components of the FAN (Army, Navy, Military Aviation and National Guard) and the Bolivarian Militia participated in the operations, as well as confirming the presence of military elements from China, Cuba and Russia. “It is a combined operation, involving several countries,” he said.

In the official images disseminated there were no large movements of troops and equipment, but the timely deployment of systems of the Comprehensive Aerospace Defense Command (Codai), among others, the missile S-125 Pechora M2 short-range, and BUK M2E, of medium range, in addition to mobile radars.

The Military Aviation, for its part, deployed Lockheed Martin fighter jets F-16A / B Block 15 Fighting Falcon and Sukhoi Su-30MK2; training aircraft / light attack Hongdu K-8W Karakorum and Embraer EMB-312 Tucano; transport aircraft Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and Shaanxi Y-8F-200W; and helicopters Airbus AS332B2 Super Puma / AS532AC Cougar.

The Army Aviation, for its part, showed off its multipurpose helicopters Mi-17V-5 and attack M-35M2, while the 42nd Parachute Infantry Brigade was airlifted to the border in Military Aviation planes.


Reaffirmation of sovereignty in the gulf

At the beginning of the exercises, the transport ship Los Monjes (T-94), type Damen Stan Lander 5612, moved Norinco 8×8 VN1 amphibious armored vehicles, tactical vehicles and other materials of the Marine Infantry, from the naval base `Contralmirante Agustín Armario, located in the coastal center region, to the port of La Ceiba, on the eastern coast of Lake Maracaibo, Trujillo state.

Subsequently, Task Group 10.1 was formed with the frigate Almirante Brión (F-22), type Lupo / class Mariscal Sucre; the oceanic Kariña patrol boat (PO-14), type Navantia Avante 2400 / class Guaiquerí; Patria (PC-15) combat patrol vessel, Vosper type 37-m / Constitution class, a contingent of marines, and the commanding general of the Navy, Admiral Giuseppe Alessandro Alessandrello Cimadevilla, aboard the F-22. Task Group 10.1 conducted a patrol in the waters of the Gulf of Venezuela and then the commander of the Navy and the marines disembarked in the archipelago of Los Monjes, at the entrance to the gulf and where the Secondary Coast Guard Station is located. Captain Felipe Batista, to reaffirm sovereignty in that strategic and vital Venezuelan area.

The marines, when disembarking, deployed light and heavy weapons, as well as Igla-S portable anti-aircraft missile systems.

The Cuban ‘Black Wasps’

As indicated at the beginning of this note, Ceofan confirmed the participation of China, Cuba and Russia in the Combined Strategic Operation 2018. However, the participation of Chinese and Russian military personnel, but of Cubans was not detailed.

As for Russia, it must be remembered that, as reported by Infodefensa, last August Venezuela was in advance of the strategic air group of the Russian Aerospace Force, to participate in a coordination meeting, prior to the combined exercise.

Regarding China, as Infodefensa also reported, from September 22 to 29 he visited the country in a Daishan Dao hospital ship (T-AH 866) on a scale other than his Harmonious Mission international tour and Ceofan framed his presence in the Strategic Operation Combined 2018; However, during his stay in Venezuela, the ship remained anchored in the port of La Guaira, providing humanitarian medical assistance.

In the Cuban case, the Ceofan was more specific indicating the participation of a contingent of the Special Forces (`Avispas Negras’) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, and with the publication of photos on Twitter. According to official information, the Cuban military acted with units of the Codai and the Special Actions Forces (Faes) of Venezuela.

One of the Ceofan notes posted on Twitter said: “Integrating to beat”; Faes de Venezuela “strengthened their knowledge, skills and military skills for the Integral Defense of the Nation,” in the Combined Strategic Defensive Operation “with the Special Forces of Cuba` Black Wasps’ of the FAR. “

U.S. Set To Invade Venezuela

The U.S. Set To Invade Venezuela!

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello joined regional voices backing the overthrow of the Venezuelan government Tuesday, 2 Oct 2018 following the visit of the fugitive ex-Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, the venezuelanalysis.com reported.Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello (C) alongside his State Secretary Roberto Vilella (L) and Venezuelan fugitive opposition leader Antonio Ledezma (R) signing an agreement in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Antonio Ledezma Press)

Will the U.S. invade Venezuela before or after the November midterm elections?

Sadly, this military invasion is only a question of “when” and not “if”; absent extraordinary diplomacy to halt military war.

In the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, China halted all oil imports from the U.S..

America’s second-largest oil client, China, has completely stopped buying crude from the United States as trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies continue to grow. –Russia Today

China needs Venezuela’s oil production, now more than ever.

It is important to note that Russia, China, and Cuba completed very impressive military drills with Venezuela along the Colombia border last week (September 22-29, 2018).

If you search through the regional news propaganda, you will find much is being done to “prepare the ground for a ‘frontier clash’ at an opportune moment, in which Colombia must attack Venezuela to avenge the tragic deaths of several soldiers and civilians following an unprovoked, ruthless and reckless incursion by a contingent of brutal Venezuelan soldiers (the number of sensationalized border incidents being reported is already increasing).

Even as the mass media distracts most of the news headlines away from a critical look into this imminent military invasion threatening Venezuela. The military campaign is clearly funded within the IMS’ disruptive strategic policy.

Invasion will not be a surprise to Venezuela and will be met with a formidable coalition ready for war.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello joined regional voices backing the overthrow of the Venezuelan government Tuesday, 2 Oct 2018 following the visit of the fugitive ex-Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, the venezuelanalysis.com reported.

Governor Ricardo Rossello called for the “elimination” of President Maduro, who was democratically re-elected in May for a second term with 67.7 percent of the vote in elections qualified as transparent, free, and fair.

“What should happen is that the dictatorship should be eliminated. We are defining what will happen afterwards, and what steps are to be taken,” stated Rossello in a press conference following the meeting with Ledezma.
[…]
As part of the announcements, Rossello invited Venezuela’s opposition leaders to a summit this October 20 and 21, to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which will look to establish a ‘Commission for the Reconstruction of Venezuela’, with Puerto Rico acting as “the headquarters” for “logistical support” to a “transition” government in Venezuela.
[…]
Rossello’s comments follow controversial declarations by U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Organisation of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro, and others, which have backed a coup d’état, military intervention, or other forced rupture of democracy in Venezuela.

Let us remember that Maduro called Mr. Ledezma a “vampire flying around the world.”
According to the Miami Herald newspaper the ex-mayor fled Venezuela to Colombia…

Isn’t it curious that Mr. Ledezma is now in Puerto Rico at the agreement signing in San Juan to logistically stage the invasion and host the government transition?

Is it too far fetched to imagine Antonio Ledezma as the next Venezuelan Presidente?

Excuse Me, Humanitarian Aid & Regime Change is coming

Whether Venezuela want it or not – Remember Libya & Syria!

U.S. Military: Democracy is on its way

Truth seekers have shared open source Intel that indicate possible naval assets surrounding Venezuela that could be a combination of U.S. and UK military forces at sea – at a minimum three divisions to the North and East and in the Grenada harbor.

The U.S. Set To Invade Venezuela!
{I placed red six-sided stars for nearby U.S. naval assets in the above image.}

Rich in gold and oil resources, Venezuela was once the pride of South America and allied with the U.S..
After corruption and vulture capitalists ruined the country, Venezuela sought the alternative socialist model and now find themselves in the U.S. military industrial complex cross-hairs and a competing foothold for Russia and China.

In contradiction of the mass media depiction of horrible conditions and a ruthless government, the citizens are not in mass protests in attempts to overthrow Maduro and seek foreign military intervention. The benevolent U.S. military intervention is a hard and difficult narrative to swallow when under scrutiny for the truth.

I am not convinced that Central and South America will support the U.S. invasion (Brazil’s President Michel Temer may support the U.S. but he may lose the upcoming election and that support could be short lived) because U.S. imperialism is not a popular meme.

Venezuela has the odd assortment of fighter jets from both the U.S. and Russia with the Lockheed Martin F-16A/B and the Russian Sukhoi Su-30Mk2 and other modern warfare tech.




How committed is China and Russia to protecting El Presidente Maduro and Venezuelan sovereignty?
§

Central Banks & Their Funded Militaries are putting us all in danger.

I’ll conclude here, because I really do not wish to focus on war campaigns, sadly too few are discussing this in an attempt to DE-escalate this Wall Street/military industrial complex war-profiteering policy.

Citizens everywhere were seduced by false promises.
There are so many devious details to share and I ask you to research deeper in an effort to reveal the truth and DE-escalate the war against the Venezuelan people.

After the 2009 Too Big To Fail megabank’s bailout, Professor William Black a former financial regulator and an expert in white collar crime said the financial system is headed for an even bigger collapse. …“The system is ungovernable . . . It has already largely imploded.”

Professor Black was correct in pointing out that the refusal to prosecute criminal bank executives by the Bush, and later the Obama regime “that drove the crisis has made it clear that the rule of law no longer applies to wide ranges of life and that crony capitalism will continue to reign.”
Now, we must include the Trump regime for refusing to prosecute the criminal banking executives.

These are “Financial Terrorists“, “Money Junkies”, and control freaks, aka psychopaths within institutional central planning. They are directing nations into another global crisis, if they continue to have their way. We, the people appear to be the only hindrance to their central authority and globalization plans.
I feel it in my gut that the minions and puppets inside institutions are planning a major catastrophic event soon to further their agenda. ~ Ron 2013/09/18

All Wars Are Bankers' Wars

Left-Wing Radicals and Their War Upon American History

Culturally Radical, Profoundly Destructive

America’s left is at war with the past in a way that even the 20th century’s communist regimes never matched.

The pulling down and defacing of statues by the cultural Left has now spread from the states of the onetime Confederacy to the West Coast. There, Democratic politicians in alliance with various leftist activists are removing what we are told are offensive images from public view.

This iconoclastic fury has spread from removing statues of Columbus from municipal buildings and parks to dismantling memorials and plaques put up to honor Spanish missionaries. The attack on missionary settlers is justified by citing their use of native Indian labor as well as the more questionable claim that they forcibly converted the native inhabitants to Catholicism.

The missionaries who are now being dishonored created much of the Hispanic culture embraced by Latino minorities, including their language and majority religion. Latinos may have Aztec or Mayan blood, but they are also descended from Spaniards and took on much of a recognizably Spanish way of life.

The cultural Marxist revolution our country and much of the West are now undergoing requires that certain groups assume new collective identities. Through this transformation, essential elements of what these groups were in the past are suppressed and replaced by new characteristics. For example, Latinos are separated from their Spanish roots and turned into Spanish-speaking Amerindians, who were enslaved by Europeans. The last thing the cultural Left intends is to allow designated victim groups to hold on to their old identities. It seeks to turn new missionized groups into embattled enemies of traditional Western society—that is, Western society as it existed before the Left began its newest war against the past.

This modus operandi does not apply to all forms of the Left equally. For example, communists when in power have operated very differently because their interest was mostly a socioeconomic transformation. It’s not as if the communists were nice people. They just pursued a very different agenda from that of our cultural Left. Certainly they were not as thorough in seeking to purge the past of unprogressive heroes. Peter the Great remained a political hero in the Soviet Union, and Alexander Nevsky and Catherine the Great were periodically brought back when the circumstances required. Although the Christian religion was often persecuted in the Soviet empire, communist regimes periodically favored state churches when they thought they could control them.

The East German communist regime lavishly celebrated the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther in 1984. It depicted this profoundly conservative religious reformer as a forerunner of Germany’s revolutionary socialist government. In Der Turma sprawling novel of life in Dresden during the last years of communism, author Uwe Tellkamp presents a profoundly conservative intelligentsia pursuing very bourgeois literary studies under the guise of building a socialist society. Universities in Germany’s communist state were highly selective about whom they took in, and the East German military was as disciplined as it had been when the Prussian aristocracy was still in charge. Bernie Sanders, who spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union, and the American communist Angela Davis may have adored Soviet communism but I suspect Soviet leaders never returned their affection.

Although one could attribute such features of communist life to a failure to practice revolutionary ideals, arguably this situation was due to other circumstances as well. Marxist-Leninist governments were self-limiting in their radicalism. In communist countries, marriage was exclusively between members of opposite sexes and there were only two recognized genders. Under the communist Left, which always had a puritanical side, gay activities were driven underground as an expression of bourgeois decadence. Communism in practice, except perhaps during the Cultural Revolution in China, produced regimes that were mostly interested in preserving themselves. When they were not engaging in disastrous economic experiments, these governments devoted enormous energy to forestalling opposition. They were also relatively primitive in their use of propaganda and educational resources to preserve and expand their power.

Unlike the communists, our Left is culturally radical and profoundly destructive. It has the means to reshape public opinion, which it does partly by pulling down statues and renaming streets and parks.

As a final thought, I would note that this recent iconoclasm, which is typical of the cultural Left, is hardly normal everywhere. On a visit to Hong Kong, I noticed that the current Chinese government had not renamed the parks and other public sites that celebrated English monarchs, nor had it pulled down statues erected during British imperial rule. Although at least nominally communist, Chinese state officials look after these remnants of English rule with obvious care. In Israel, the government tends to the temples and monuments that Roman conquerors left behind, even though those same Romans slaughtered ancient Jews and destroyed their Second Temple. This seems infinitely more civilized than what the cultural Left has now unleashed on our shores.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

Iran’s Missile Strike Within 3 Miles of Illegal US Troops in Syria Sent Washington a ‘Signal’

In this photo released on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.In this photo released on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.Tehran: Iran’s Missile Strike Near US Troops in Syria Sent Washington a ‘Signal’ © AP Photo/ Sepahnews via AP

Tehran: Iran’s Missile Strike Near US Troops in Syria Sent Washington a ‘Signal’

Earlier this week, Iran launched seven drones and six precision-strike ballistic missiles on several terrorist targets in Syria’s Abu Kamal region in retaliation for a September 22 attack in Ahvaz that left 25 people dead.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani stated that Iranian rocket strikes on militants in Syria hit a target several kilometers away from the position of US troops, Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday.

“Our aerospace forces sent you [the Americans] an important signal when they fired rockets at facilities three miles [about 5 km] from you,” said Shamkhani.

He also suggested that the United States answer as to why its “forces were stationed three miles away from the militants of Daesh.*”

In a parallel development, Commander of Iran’s Army Major General Abdolrahim Moussavi told reporters that Tehran would make its enemies regret their actions.

“We will strike a more powerful and heavier blow in return to any strike by the other side. We can do the strike any time and anywhere,” Fars News Agency cited him as saying.

On Monday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fired several ballistic missiles across Syria east of the Euphrates River, where the organizers of the September terrorist attack in Iran’s Ahvaz were allegedly located.

During a military parade in Ahvaz on September 22, armed militants opened fire at, killing at least 25 and wounding 60. Three of the attackers were killed by Iranian security forces, while the fourth later died of his wounds.

Both the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahvaz and Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his part, has blamed the Ahvaz incident on “US-backed regimes in the region,” referring to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

*Daesh, also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS, is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

US navy plans major show of strength in South China Sea as warning to Beijing

This U.S. Navy photo, first obtained by gcaptain.com, shows the incident between the USS Decatur, left, and the Luoyang [class of destroyer]. (U.S. Navy)

Freedom of navigation operation will take place amid rising tensions and near-collision between USS Decatur and Chinese vessel

Teddy Ng

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The United States Pacific Fleet has drawn up a plan for a major show of force as a warning to China that will indicate its determination to counter Beijing’s military activity, it was reported on Thursday amid rising tension over the disputed South China Sea.

The plan would see planes and ships passing close to Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in a freedom of navigation operation, CNN reported, citing several unnamed US defence officials.

The proposal means US ships and aircraft will be operating close to Chinese forces and is expected to trigger a strong reaction from Beijing.

China’s defence ministry did not immediately comment on the report, but a Chinese diplomatic observer said that by expanding its operations from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait the US was escalating the confrontation.

The observer also predicted that China would step up its military presence in both areas.

The proposal is being driven by the military but CNN noted that carrying it out it in early November when the US midterm elections are taking place could have political implications for the Trump administration if the US troops are challenged by China.

Beijing has previously criticised freedom of navigation operations by the US in the South China Sea as an infringement of its territorial sovereignty.

Tensions are running high between the US and Chinese militaries over the disputed waters, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

On Sunday, a Chinese destroyer nearly collided with the USS Decatur, which was carrying out a freedom of navigation operation and sailing close to the China-claimed Gaven Reef.

The Chinese destroyer came within 41 metres (135 feet) of the American warship, the US navy said, describing the Chinese move as “unsafe and unprofessional”.

US Vice-President Mike Pence will give China a blunt warning on Thursday that the United States will not back down from what Washington sees as Chinese intimidation in the South China Sea.

Pence will address the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington and excerpts released in advance suggest he will draw attention to the incident.

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated. We will not stand down,” the speech will say.

Su Hao, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said recent incidents were a sign that the South China Sea had become an arena for the US and China to confront each, rather than simply being a territorial dispute between Beijing and the other claimants.

“Relations between China and the other claimants have been relatively calm recently, but the conflict in the South China Sea has been intensified by the involvement of the US,” he said.

“When two big nations are confronting each other, it is necessary to maintain a proper military balance to avoid the conflict from getting out of control,” he said. “The other nations in Southeast Asia will find it very difficult being sandwiched between the two big powers.”

By expanding its area of operations to the Taiwan Strait, Su continued, the US was linking the South China Sea and Taiwan and was prepared to confront China across a wider front.

UN’s highest court orders US to lift certain Iran sanctions

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations’ highest court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to the safety of civil aviation.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice is legally binding, but it remains to be seen if the administration of President Donald Trump will comply.

Trump moved to restore tough U.S. sanctions in May after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. Iran challenged the sanctions in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice.

In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.While imposing the so-called “provisional measures,” the court’s president, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, stressed that the case will continue and the United States could still challenge the court’s jurisdiction.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the court ruling on Twitter, calling it “another failure for sanctions-addicted” U.S. and a “victory for rule of law.” He added that it is imperative for the international community “to collectively counter malign US unilateralism.”

Iranian state television trumpeted the court’s decision in a scrolling graphic at the bottom of TV screens: “The victory of Tehran over Washington by the Hague Court.”

U.S. diplomats in The Hague had no immediate reaction.

The U.S. is expected to challenge the court’s jurisdiction in a future hearing. No date has been set for further hearings in the case.

At hearings in August, Tehran sought the suspension of the sanctions while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years. U.S. lawyers responded that the sanctions are a legal and justified national security measure that cannot be challenged by Tehran at the world court.

In its decision, the court said that the U.S. sanctions “have the potential to endanger civil aviation safety” in Iran and that sanctions limiting sales of goods required for humanitarian needs such as food, medicines and medical devices “may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”

The court said that the Trump administration must “ensure that licenses and necessary authorizations are granted” and payments not restricted if they are linked to the humanitarian and aviation goods.

The court also told both the United States and Iran to “refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute.”

U.S. lawyers had told the court that the administration would “use its best endeavors” to look at concerns about humanitarian and aviation related issues caused by the sanctions.

But in its written ruling the court said that the American assurances “are not adequate to address fully the humanitarian and safety concerns” raised by Iran.

Iran alleges that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries.

The treaty was signed when the U.S. and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution — fomented by Britain and the U.S. — that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and takeover of the U.S. Embassy and ensuing hostage crisis. However, the treaty remains in force.

Wednesday’s ruling could set up another clash between the Trump administration and a Hague-based court. Last month, Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, denounced the International Criminal Court — a separate and unrelated institution based just a few kilometers (miles) away from the International Court of Justice.

The ICC prosecutes people accused of war atrocities while the ICJ settles disputes between nations.

Bolton said last month that “for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

___

Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed.

An Indictment of the Failed Neo-liberal Paradigm

Failed Neo-liberal paradigm Poverty and inequality continue as persistent, unjust, socio-economic issues of our time

  • No definition of poverty can ever hope to truly fathom with accuracy what it really means to be poor
  • Globalisation is the intensification of worldwide links and affects distant, far away, localities
  • Globalisation has no space for people-centred ideologies

In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, Pope Francis, firmly and eloquently drew the attention of all global leaders, big and small, to fight poverty

and growing inequality with the sharpest words and phrases ever, on the dominant economic system, which he pointed out derives from “the tyranny of unfettered capitalism and the ideology of money.”

The world is at present mid-way into the second decade of the 21st Century, yet, still lacking the political will and moral courage and resolve, to delve deep into the policies, and structures that perpetuates poverty and inequality; And to conscientiously adopt whatever socio-economic adjustments and policy changes that are imperative, in order to end the scourge affecting the lives of billions of human beings on the face of this earth.

The fact is that no definition of poverty can ever hope to truly fathom with accuracy what it really means to be poor – the misery, the degradation, the squalor, the helplessness, the desperation, the powerlessness, and the callous oppression in many forms experienced. Perhaps, the only way of truly grasping what it actually means to people who are condemned to suffer it, is, to examine with empathy and sensitivity the lives of the poor around us.

Thus, Pope Francis made a point in this context by alluding to the irony of the difference in the manner in which we react to a news item of an elderly homeless man who dies of exposure to the harsh elements, and, the news item of the stock market losing two-points !!

Nearly two decades ago, Anthony Giddens in his celebrated book entitled The Consequences of Modernity, (Cambridge; Polity Press, 1990), described globalization, the twin partner of unfettered Capitalism, as the primary cause of all the socio-economic and political issues that are bedevilling mankind at present.

He defined globalisation, “as the intensification of worldwide social relations which linked distant, far away, localities in such a way, that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice-versa”.

Pope Francis, made a point in this context by alluding to the irony of the difference in the manner in which we react to a news item of an elderly homeless man who dies of exposure to the harsh elements, and, the news item of the stock market losing two-points

As many enlightened people know and remember Globalised Capitalism is quite a different kettle of fish to the wave of internationalism that blew across the globe for many years.

When globalization arrived, it brought with it a trail of different multidimensional agendas, one of which was the integration of real national economies with world capitalism, leading to the latter’s geographical reach spreading within a short period of time.

It not merely confined itself to gripping the local economic sphere, but, more pertinently, impinged on a wide range of existing local socio-economic and political institutions and their policies, no less, on the culture and style of living traditions and values.

These influences gradually became hegemonic, with the ability and strength to force changes in the power structures and balances of societies in decision-making mechanisms and governance.

Following these changes, radical changes came about in the political philosophy, ideological constructs, institutions and processes in society, social organizations, and, far more damagingly, in the way people relate to each other in public, in private and in their personal life, which resulted in the fractured societies and the now chaotic world we live in today.

The print and electronic media present daily, heart-rending scenes of restless youth, frustrated students, underpaid workers, forced workers, abducted workers, wounded young and old women, child-labour and child-soldiers, and alarmingly, oppressed and silenced intellectuals, academics, and civil society activists, mainly Journalists.

Any innovative alternatives to capitalist development can be evolved ONLY when the background and magnitude of the present crises are understood and realised.
Globalisation has no space for people-centred ideologies and socio-economic policies which are challenged, distributed, and emptied of their real relevance. The market and capital must dominate the world of intellectual discourse, not the compelling issues of the vast majority of the global population, even if billions have to go to bed hungry.

“The worship of the ancient biblical Golden Calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and dictatorship of an impersonal economy, lacking a truly human purpose”, wrote Pope Francis; “The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their real concern for Human Beings.”

Poverty alleviation projects with a plethora of high-sounding names have been formulated at huge costs for implementation in response to the widespread evidence of prevailing poverty in practically every country sitting in the United Nations. These are supremely mere palliatives, and considering the magnitude of the global problem they are by no means a substitute for a genuine, determined, and committed fight against poverty and inequality.

The world today, for those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear and for intelligent and objective observers, has sunk into decadence, economically, socially, culturally, morally, ethically, and seems to be immersed in a quagmire of unprecedented superficiality.

There are wars among nations, ethnic and religious groups, social upheavals between haves and have-nots, heinous forms of crimes, domestic violence, political violence, break down of law and order, revolution and counter-revolution; corruption by the mightiest, politicians, bankers, and businessmen, blatant violations of time-honoured principles and codes of conduct and decency; blatant violations of constitutions, democracy, the judiciary and the executive organs of administration. Even religious institutions are not exempt.

All of these have emerged, slowly but surely, as the inevitable consequences of a model of development that harshly treads on all alternative models of development, and imposed itself through-out the world. This model has been intrinsically exploitive of nations and people with little power between nations and of course within nations, and ruthlessly, the environment of our planet as well. That is precisely why Pope Francis was constrained to remark that, “unfettered capitalism is an amoral pursuit where the guiding stars, were not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but only, ‘profit’ and ‘loss’, which will be harder to sustain, sooner than later.”

The world remains in this chaotic state because, we, the people, are now experiencing an “existential vacuum”. We are confused, distracted, uninterested, selfish, self-centred and self-absorbed. It is imperative that all peoples wake-up to this reality before there is some form of universal calamity. Governments, civil society, and religious organizations should actively engage themselves in developing and promoting a more just and sustainable model and style of living, not by rhetoric but by example. It is the bounden duty and responsibility of intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, academics, politicians in particular, and religious leaders to wake-up and comes to the aid of the world and its people that are in a state of anguish.

(This is an updated version of an article which first appeared in the book Prophetic Indictments – The Failed Neoliberal Paradigms of Economics, Politics, Governance, Society and Science in Sri Lanka and Globally: The collected works of Dr Mervyn D. de Silva, published by Tulane Jubilee Publications, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, 2018. Available now at the VijithaYapa, Godage and Barefoot Bookshops)

Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep–Roger Waters

Roger Waters: Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep

Roger Waters: Neoliberal propaganda keeping voters ‘asleep’ like Orwellian sheep

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has taken aim at decades of neoliberalism in the West. Speaking to RT’s SophieCo, he said government propaganda in the media has left viewers “asleep” and uncomfortable “to see anything real.”

Speaking to Sophie Shevardnadze, Pink Floyd’s former frontman said that those who say he should “stick to music” were “sleepwalking” when it came to conflicts like the Syrian civil war and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“Because they’re asleep. Because they’re the victims of the neoliberalism that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher brought to the world,” Waters said.

Neoliberalism’s pervasiveness through Western culture and politics, in Waters’ view, has left many people with the inability to see and accept anything critical of the mainstream narrative.

“Part of the way it works is to anaesthetise people and almost make it uncomfortable for people to see anything real.”

For Waters the root of this antipathy, in the US at least, lies in part from its poorly funded public education system. In Waters’ view the reason for this lies in the political establishment’s desire to keep an ignorant and compliant population.

“They want to keep the electorate ignorant, and mindless, and unthinking, and malleable, and pliable, and very open to the use of consumerism and propaganda to keep them under control, to maintain the Orwellian notion of the sheep and whatever.”

Mainstream media consumption is another factor given by Waters for this outlook. Citing the “scripted, carefully shot” documentary on the White Helmets, and the group’s dubious claims of a Syrian government gas attack in the city of Douma, Waters said the MSM isn’t “interested in telling you anything about anything.”

“You know, it’s so obvious now that CNN and all of them are all the same, from MSNBC to Fox and everything in between,” he said after pointing out the lack of coverage in the West after an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report found no evidence of chemical weapons in Douma.

“Their narrative is that there was a chemical attack and the White Helmets are wonderful.”

One US channel to escape Waters’ ire was Discovery, describing it as the “one little piece of TV in the United States where you can occasionally get a glimpse of reality of what it’s like to be human.”

“The rest is just propaganda,” he added.

TRUMP NAILS W. BUSH FOR MAKING ‘WORST SINGLE MISTAKE’ IN U.S. HISTORY

TRUMP ACCUSES GEORGE W. BUSH OF MAKING ‘WORST SINGLE MISTAKE’ IN U.S. HISTORY

President Donald Trump has laid the blame for “the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country” squarely on the shoulders of former President George W. Bush.

In an interview with The Hill, Trump asserted that the worst mistake in U.S. history was “going into the Middle East, by President Bush.”

Known to rail against Democrats, rather than fellow Republicans, Trump said that while former President Barack Obama “may have gotten [U.S. military personnel] out wrong…going in, is to me, the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country.”

GettyImages-646453340U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (right) listen on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Commenting on who was responsible for the ‘worst’ mistake made in U.S. history, Trump pointed the finger at former President George W. Bush.JIM LO SCALZO – POOL/GETTY

Trump, who did not get Bush’s vote in the 2016 presidential election, said both the financial cost and the cost of lives lost due to the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East could not be justified.

“We spent $7 trillion in the Middle East,” the president said. “Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘Oh gee, let’s not do it.’ Seven trillion, and millions of lives, you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives.”

While different estimates have been made on how much wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S., a recent analysis by Brown University put the cost, as of September 2017, at $5.6 trillion.

That total includes costs of both U.S. wars, as well as military involvement connected to Pakistan and Syria, homeland security expenses and healthcare costs for veterans.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has put its estimate of total spending connected to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria between 2001 and 2018 at $1.52 trillion.

Read more: Donald Trump says ‘You can understand’ civil war and it wasn’t as bad as George W. Bush invading Middle East 

Nearly 290,000 civilians and combatants are estimated to have died in the Iraq War since it began in 2003, according to estimates from Iraq Body Count, a project dedicated to keeping record of fatalities resulting from the war.

In his interview with The Hill, the president appeared to compare Bush’s decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq with the American Civil War, which saw an estimated 620,000 soldiers die between 1861 to 1865.

“Civil war, you can understand,” Trump said. “That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East…that was just, that was a bad day for this country,” he said.

Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers

Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers

The United States is poised to deport Helegner Tijera Moreno, a former first lieutenant who deserted from the Venezuelan, faces deportation back to the country that accused him of “political militancy.” Courtesy of Helegner Tijera Moreno

Venezuelan military deserter faces deportation back to government U.S. calls dictatorship

Behind America’s long war on Syria

 Behind America’s long war on Syria

An important plank of the US strategy is to interfere in the Syrian government’s campaign to liberate Idlib from Al Qaeda

Stephen Gowans Literature Today

The United States has a new strategy for Syria, according to The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. The new direction, however, is simply the old, largely unrecognised, one, transformed from a de facto status to official one by presidential authorisation. In other words, an aggressive US policy on Syria will continue to be implemented — one the US president had, for a time, openly mused about reversing, but has now accepted.

The strategy, crafted by “the steady state”, and now acquiesced to by the US president, features the continued illegal and indefinite occupation of roughly one-third of Syrian territory by US forces as well as US interference in Syrian attempts to liberate Idlib from the control of Al Qaeda forces allied to Washington, its Arab monarchist collaborators, and their partner, Israel. It also features US pressure, military and otherwise, to confront Iranian forces and to drive them out of Syria. The overarching goal of the strategy, clearly articulated by US officials, is to dictate the form, nature and raison d’être of the Syrian state, the self-appointed prerogative of a globe-girding dictatorship. In the words of US officials, Washington seeks to build “a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community”. The goal, redolent with the stench of imperialism, can be challenged on democratic and liberal grounds, as well as on legal and moral ones.

First, it might be noted that almost every state in the Arab world was created by the dominant imperialist powers of the day, Britain and France, to serve their own interests at the expense of the Arabs they subordinated to their rule, occasionally directly but usually indirectly. London and Paris partitioned West Asia and North Africa without the slightest regard to the aspirations of the people who inhabited these regions, and imposed rulers upon them, quislings who collaborated with their imperial patrons in plundering the region’s resources. Washington’s plan to establish a government in Syria acceptable to the international community, i.e. the United States, continues a long imperialist tradition of indirect rule by outside powers.

Partisans of democracy should object to this plan for three reasons.

First, a Syrian government doesn’t have to be acceptable to the United States or any other country. It only needs to be acceptable to Syrians.

Second, democracy has both intra- and inter-national aspects. Internationally, it means that peoples have the right to organize their own affairs, free from the interference of foreign states. Governments need only answer to their own people; not to Washington. While the point should be obvious, it is studiously avoided in public discourse and therefore needs to made: US “leadership” and democracy are antitheses.

Third, there can be no democracy intra-nationally, if a government has been imposed on a people by outside powers, as provided for in Washington’s plan. Clearly, a government acceptable to Washington would be a government willing to do Washington’s bidding; one that would assent to reshaping Syria’s economy and politics to comport with US business and military-strategic interests, not with the interests of Syrians. There are already too many quisling governments in the Arab world; another is not needed.

Washington’s objection to the Assad government is of a piece with its fierce opposition to Nasser’s Egypt, Saddam’s Iraq and Gaddafi’s Libya. All these governments pursued the Arab socialist project of breaking the control of the region’s wealth by the Western oil companies and their Arab Petains in order to direct it to the uplift of Arabs. While the Western-backed emirs, kings and sultans built pharaonic palaces and lived lives of luxury in exchange for allowing Western oil corporations to pile up a Himalaya of profits, their subjects wallowed in poverty.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, during the 1970s, the Arab socialists used their country’s oil wealth to build a Golden Age. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, inspired by Nasser’s Arab socialism, built a society beyond the dreams of his compatriots who had lived lives of stark under-privilege under the tyranny of the Western-imposed King Idris I. In Syria and Egypt, Arab socialists implemented social reforms to uplift the poor, and asserted the right of women to equality. At the same time, they brought large parts of the economy under public control and implemented plans to overcome the economic legacy of colonialism.

In Egypt, the president Gamal Abdel Nasser lived in the modest house he occupied as an army colonel, while sending his children to public school. He threatened the West by proclaiming the democratic slogan “Arab oil for Arabs”. All these governments were assisted ably by the Soviet Union. Syria’s government stands in this tradition. It is the only Arab socialist government that has withstood the anti-democratic designs of Washington, Israel and the Saudi kings, to bring the entire Arab world, from the Atlantic to the Gulf, under their uncontested domination.

As part of its campaign to topple the last force of Arab independence, the United States currently controls about one-third of Syrian territory, by means of an unspecified number of US service personnel who direct a mercenary force of Kurds, and some traitorous Arabs under Kurd control.

Dennis Ross, who held several senior national security positions in the US state, says that “the US and its partners control about 40 percent of Syrian territory.” The Pentagon says there are some 2500 US troops in Syria, but acknowledges the number is higher, since covert forces and aircrew are not counted. The Pentagon, then, is running a semi-covert war on a sovereign Arab state, having obtained no legal authorisation for its actions, either from the United Nations Security Council or the US Congress.

The point is only partly relevant, since even if the Pentagon had obtained legal authorisation for its actions, the legal cover would in no way justify the occupation. Still, failure to obtain legal authorisation is significant in bringing to the fore the question of why US forces are in the country. Trump raised the question, though predictably not on moral or legal grounds, but in relation to the implications that US entanglement in Syria have for the US Treasury. This, of course, reflects Trump’s Mattis-identified inability to grasp the subtleties of US imperial strategy.

The ostensible purpose of the US presence in Syria is to defeat ISIS. Washington says that it must maintain its presence in the Levantine country to prevent an ISIS resurgence. This implies an indefinite occupation, based on the pretext of the occupation acting as an anti-ISIS prophylaxis. But US officials acknowledged earlier this year that the Pentagon plans to occupy the territory to a) prevent its recovery by the Syrian government; b) to create administrative structures, i.e., to impose a government on the US-controlled portion of a partitioned Syria; and c) to rebuild the territory under US control, using Saudi financing, while denying reconstruction funds to Damascus.

Another plank of the US strategy is to interfere in the Syrian government’s campaign to liberate Idlib from Al Qaeda. “Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the international coalition fighting Islamic State, has called Idlib ‘the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.’” The joint Syrian-Russian campaign will resemble other campaigns that have been waged by Syria, Russia, the United States and Iraq to wrest control of territory captured by Islamist guerillas. What has distinguished these campaigns is not the military methods used, but the way they have been presented by the Western media. Western news organisations have condemned ISIS as the bad jihadists and lionised Al Qaeda as the good ones.

The US-directed campaigns in Mosul and Raqqa to wrest control of these cities from ISIS were portrayed as laudable US-Iraqi military victories against a foe, ISIS, of ineffable depravity, whose fighters were branded as “terrorists”. In contrast, the Russia-Syria campaigns in Aleppo and now Idlib have been painted as murderous projects aimed at good jihadists, Al Qaeda, branded as “opposition fighters”.  In the former case, civilians caught in the crossfire were presented as a grim but necessary cost that regrettably needed to be incurred to eradicate the ISIS evil. US Defence Secretary James Mattis, in reference to the US campaign to capture Raqqa, intoned: “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.” In the latter case, civilian casualties become a humanitarian tragedy that evidences the evil of the Russian and Syrian governments. The fact of the matter is that Mattis is right: civilian casualties are unavoidable.

Added to the patent double standard is a clear attempt to build public support for US intervention against the Idlib campaign and therefore on behalf of Al Qaeda by announcing that the United States has information that Damascus is planning to use chemical weapons in liberating Idlib. Making the allegation appear credible to an all too frequently lied to public is facilitated by the single voice with which the Western media proclaim matter-of-factly that Damascus has built a track record of using chemical weapons in the long-running war. And yet the only so-called evidence presented of Syrian chemical weapons use are assessments by US officials that amount to: “We believe the Syrians have used chemical agents, but have no definitive evidence to back up our claim; still this is the kind of thing the evil Assad would do.”

Inasmuch as the Syrians dismantled their chemical weapons under an internationally supervised process and inasmuch as no credible evidence exists that they have retained or regained access to weaponised chemicals, any discussion of the possible future use of chemical arms by the Syrian military represents a decent into a world of fantasy. What’s more, even if Syrian forces had gas to use, “with the Russians positioning forces to carry out naval and air bombardments”, they have no need to use gas, as former US national security official Dennis Ross argues.

Lest we take Syria’s previous possession of chemical weapons as emblematic of a unique Syrian evil and menace, we ought to give the matter some thought.

First, Israel, with which Syria remains in a state of de jure and de facto war, has its own stock of chemical weapons. If Syria’s former possession of chemical weapons makes it evil, then what are we to say of Israel?

Second, the United States and its satraps, Israel included, use their military superiority to dominate, oppress, and exploit poor countries. What options are open to Syria to defend itself? Achieving parity in conventional arms is out of the question. On top of monopolising the world’s wealth, the United States and its allies monopolise the world’s weapons systems. Syria can’t hope to compete with the United States or US-subsidised Israel in conventional military terms.

Israel’s function within the US Empire is to weaken Arab and Islamic nationalism and prevent either from becoming a significant force that would challenge US control of the Arab world’s oil resources. As the last bastion of Arabism, Syria quite naturally is a target for Israeli aggression. Munificent US military aid has made the Jewish nationalist settler colonial state into the region’s military Leviathan. Not only is it more formidable than every Arab country in conventional arms, it is also much stronger militarily than the Persian country, Iran.

Additionally, Israel holds a regional nuclear weapons monopoly, and boasts stocks of chemical and biological weapons. Moreover, the United States exempts Israel, as it does itself, from any legal constraints on its right to use force. The only way Syria can defend itself against the imperialist predations of the United States and its Jewish nationalist janissary, both bursting at the seams with the world’s most sophisticated conventional arms and formidable collections of WMD, and unrestrained by international law, is to develop an equaliser. That means nuclear weapons, or, failing that, chemical and biological arms. It also means achieving parity with its adversaries by operating outside the constraints of international law.

We’re taught to shudder at the idea of chemical weapons (that is, when they’re used by a country that defies the international dictatorship of the United States, not when they’re used in its service, as they were in the 1980s by Iraq, then a temporary US ally of convenience against Iran, a US target. Washington accepted Iraq’s use of the chemical weapons it had helped the Arab state acquire.) But why should we shudder at the thought of chemical weapons any more than we do at cruise missile strikes, the Pentagon’s Mother of All Bombs, the incendiaries fighter pilot John McCain dropped on Vietnamese peasants and light bulb factory workers, Israeli snipers gunning down unarmed Palestinians in Gaza demanding their internationally-recognised right of return, and so on?

In all these cases, the outcome is death or disability, often brutal, regularly painful, and frequently prolonged. Does it matter how the death was brought about? The United States doesn’t use guillotines on the battlefield to kill quickly, painlessly and humanely; it maims, crushes, pulverises, vaporises, incinerates and leaves bodies to slowly bleed to death. And it reserves to right to use nuclear weapons, and assorted other WMD.

Shuddering at the methods available to the weak, the oppressed, the exploited, and the plundered, to fight back and defend themselves while accepting the more formidable weapons of the strong as legitimate makes no sense. Insisting we shudder at one but not the other is part of a class war of the oppressors against the oppressed, of tyrants against the tyrannised, carried out at an ideological level.

To deplore the weapons of the weak is to concede ground in this war of class. Syria hasn’t a stock of chemical weapons to use, but if it did, far from condemning their use, the only defensible course would be to welcome it as one of the few effective means by which a secular, republican, Arab socialist state can assert its independence and preserve its freedom against the intolerable despotism and anti-democratic machinations of the world’s paramount tyranny, the United States. –

http://gowans.wordpress.com

Iranian Missile attack On the headquarters of the Ahwaz terrorist crime squad in eastern Euphrates

[Terrorist Attack On Iran In Ahwaz Is Smoking Gun Linking Arab-Iranian Terror Group To Bandar bin Sultan]

IRGC missile attack at the headquarters of the Ahwaz terrorist crime squad in eastern Euphrates

IRGC News: Public relations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced a large number of Takfiri terrorists from a missile attack at the headquarters of Ahwaz terrorist crime squad in eastern Euphrates in Syria by the Air Force’s Missile Forces missile unit.

The Public Relations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the targeting of the headquarters of the terrorist Ahwaz terrorists in eastern Euphrates in Syria with several ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, a few minutes ago by the IRGC’s Missile Force.

According to preliminary information, a large number of Takfiri terrorists and Ahwaz terrorist terrorist leaders have been killed or injured in the attack.

Accordingly, the supplementary information will subsequently be issued to the honorable nation of Iran.