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What's in store for America in 2016?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."—George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1

Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day
In Harold Ramis' classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.—although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.

What remains to be seen is whether 2016 will bring more of the same or whether "we the people" will wake up from our somnambulant states. Indeed, when it comes to civil liberties and freedom, 2015 was far from a banner year.

The following is just a sampling of what we can look forward to repeating if we don't find some way to push back against the menace of an overreaching, aggressive, invasive, militarized surveillance state.

Light Saber

2015: The year Russia exposed Western barbarism

2015 was the year Russia exposed the barbaric nature of Western powers, from their criminal conspiracy for regime change in Syria, to aggression against Yemen, Iran, Russia, China and any country that does not toe the line.

It is a thread we can find in many other stories, many of which were covered by Western media. The difference is the latter media omit or lose the all-important thread of how Western powers have created or exacerbated major, pressing international problems.

Crisis made by the EU

Take the European Union's immigration crisis. Up to one million refugees have been recorded entering EU borders this year, according to the United Nations. Thousands perished while crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas on rickety boats to reach the shores of Italy or Greece. EU nations held several top-level summits on the emergency, but no collective response was forthcoming, leading to much recrimination between the 28-member states. Countries such as Britain and France were accused of not doing enough to take in refugees, while "front line" states Greece, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia complain they are being overwhelmed by the influx.

Bullseye

Putin, a man of his word: Some of his best quotes in 2015

© Sputnik/ Aleksey Nikolsky

Comment: Putin has taken a leading role in geopolitics in 2015, possibly even altering the course of our future trajectory as a planet, and the world is taking notice. After so many decades of seeing western leaders' words not match their actions, people are seeing that Putin's actions match his words and that he's working to be a force for good in this world. Hopefully he has a lot more in store for 2016.


In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched upon a whole array of pressing international issues, and it seems that the world was ready to listen as each remark made global headlines.

2015 saw Russian President Vladimir Putin discuss a spate of hot-button topics, with his thoughtful and sharp remarks quickly grabbing international headlines. Here is a list of some of Putin's most outstanding remarks at important occasions throughout the year, including his meetings with senior foreign officials, his address to the Russian Upper House (Federal Assembly), as well as his interviews and at his keynote press conference:

Horse

Shameless! Miraculous intervention by Sultan Erdogan 'saves man' from committing suicide on Istanbul bridge

© Turkish President's Press Office
Recipe: "Yo Mohammed, word up. Listen, what's the latest on re-routing that oil via Mosul?... One sec: some peasant wants a photo with me..."

Igor: "Oh wise sultan, your very presence has shown me the light!"
One poor fellow in Turkey - who reportedly had family problems - was lucky enough to find himself on the same bridge and at the same time as president Recep Erdogan had been traveling through it. The man was talked out of a suicide attempt, media reported.

In a video released on Christmas day, the presidential motorcade is seen on Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge - at the very same time that a man appears to be standing on it behind the guard rail, facing the bay.


Comment: So a coincidental and fleeting meeting between Erdogan's cavalcade and this Turkish man is somehow attended by several camera crews? Maybe they just happened to be doing a documentary on the height of bridges over the Bosporus?

We think it's time for a tune...




Light Sabers

Putin's destruction of US proxy armies in Syria sends Kerry scampering to the United Nations

"It is remarkable that western leaders only remember the term ceasefire when their rebels on the ground are losing. Why didn't they see the need for peace in Syria before the Russian operation started?"

— Iyad Khuder, Damascus-based political analyst
Imagine if the American people elected a president who was much worse than George W. Bush or Barack Obama. A real tyrant. Would that be sufficient justification for someone like Vladimir Putin to arm and train Mexican and Canadian mercenaries to invade America, kill US civilians, destroy cities and critical infrastructure, seize vital oil refineries and pipeline corridors, behead government officials and prisoners they'd captured, declare their own independent state, and do everything in their power to overthrow the elected-government in Washington?

Of course not. The question is ridiculous. It wouldn't matter if the US president was a tyrant or not, that doesn't justify an invasion by armed proxies from another country. And yet, this is precisely the policy that US Secretary of State John Kerry defended at the United Nations on Friday. Behind all the political blabber about a "roadmap to peace", Kerry was tacitly defending a policy which has led to the deaths of 250,000 Syrians and the destruction of the country.

Quenelle - Golden

Illegal humanity: Activists compelled to arm themselves and openly defy Texas law - in order to feed the homeless

When feeding the homeless becomes an act of civil disobedience, Americans have been asleep for far too long.

Luckily, however, there are still good people who are willing to defy such arbitrary and ill-conceived laws and ordinances.

The folks over at the aptly named organization Don't Comply, took to the streets just outside the Austin Street Shelter in Dallas this weekend to perform, what has now become a revolutionary act - feeding the homeless.

"We are not complying with a bad law today," Matthew Short, PR director of Don't Comply said. "Evidently the city of Dallas believes that it's wrong, or bad, or unlawful for us to feed more than a certain number of people at a time. But, during Christmas, we want to show love to our community and give these people a chance to survive the winter, whether it be with blankets or coats, or just giving them a holiday party like today with all kinds of cookies, and goodies, turkey and dressing, and the whole nine yards."

Comment: Imagine: we live in a world where normal people with conscience must break laws - and arm themselves - to do the types of things that our local and federal government should be doing in the first place. But then again, it is the runaway train that is our government which is largely responsible for creating these conditions to begin with. It seems that a few billion dollars taken from the allocated budgets of the surveillance-military-industrial-complex-security-state would require taking away too much funding from the "things that matter" in their warped sense of priorities.


Gold Seal

Former Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and says "America's ship is sinking"


Former National Security Advisor, Assistant Secretary of State and retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

"This ship is sinking,"
retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson tells Abby Martin, adding that "today the purpose of US foreign policy is to support the complex that we have created in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war."

The former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations reflects on the sad but honest reflection on what America has become as he exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

"It's never been about altruism, it's about sheer power."

Comment: With almost no exceptions, Wilkerson, a former political and military insider, takes a clear, objective, sane, moral and conscientious stance on every topic covered in this 24 minute interview. Is it that individuals of such character are so abysmally rare in the culture of establishment institutions and the halls of power? Or, is it merely the nature of such institutions and the people employed by them that they are so corrupted, so mired in greed, and so hungry for the trappings of power that taking such a view as Wilkerson's must be considered an anomaly? Perhaps both. But whatever the case is, mark Wilkerson's final words closely - as they are most probably a taste of things to come in the US.


Blackbox

What the heck? U.S. calls on Turkey to remove troops from Iraq, Kerry says Assad doesn't have to go

© AFP
It has been a strange two days for US foreign policy.

Earlier today we reported that in what amounts to a significant blow to the official US position over Syria, namely the multi-year demands to replace president Assad with a western puppet ruler, John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia's long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad's future be determined by his own people, as Washington and Moscow edged toward putting aside years of disagreement over how to end Syria's civil war."
"The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change," Kerry said, adding that the focus is no longer "on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad."

In a testament to the fact that mainstream media is beginning to understand just how weak America's negotiating position has become, AP offered the following rather sarcastic assessment: "President Barack Obama first called on Assad to leave power in the summer of 2011, with "Assad must go" being a consistent rallying cry. Later, American officials allowed that he wouldn't have to resign on "Day One" of a transition. Now, no one can say when Assad might step down."

Kerry also called demands by the "moderate" opposition that Assad step down before peace negotiations begin an "obvious nonstarter."
All of the above, some may say, makes the US presence in Syria, whether through CIA covert ops, commandos, or even the Islamic State, moot: after all, if the US has folded on an Assad regime change, then there is no longer any point in continuing the proxy war, which revolves around one key issue: regime change in Syria.


Comment: Consider that just one month ago, the U.S. was singing an entirely different tune: Obama Says Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad Must Go. The folks at Hot Air put it nicely: "Obama wants regime change. Putin doesn't want regime change. Regime change canceled."


Comment: So, Kerry (with a morose Nuland) flies to Russia for important talks with Lavrov and Putin. Now this... And this: And this:
  • UN Security Council passes joint US-Russia resolution targeting ISIS funding
What, are the U.S. and Russia best buds now? Even the IMF is changing its tune. First, they change their rules in order to benefit Ukraine, and now: Just what the heck did Putin tell Kerry?! Mike Whitney has some interesting speculation on that:


Light Sabers

Pepe Escobar: Russian intervention in Syria shatters Pentagon dream of Full Spectrum Dominance

No wonder Full Spectrum Dominance practitioners in the Beltway and beyond are consumed by deep denial.

They look at the Syrian chessboard and as power projection goes, they see Russia comfortably settling down, with a serious land and air base, to conduct all sorts of operations across MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) in the near future. The Pentagon obviously never saw it coming.

And that's just the beginning. Further on down the road there's bound to be increased military interaction between Russia, China and Iran across Southwest Asia. The Pentagon qualifies Russia, China and Iran - the key nodes of Eurasia integration - as threats.

Russia getting deeper into Syria - and in the long run MENA - progresses just as Moscow insists on dealing with assorted NATO members as «partners» in the war against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Some stab Moscow in the back, like Turkey. Some may share sensitive military intel, like France. Some may profess the desire to collaborate, like Britain. And some are a geyser of ambiguity, like the US.

Amidst all the ambiguities, «partners» could not be a more delightfully diplomatic way to mask what is a stunning fact in the skies: with its current mix of sophisticated surface-to-air, sea-to-air and air-to-air defenses, from cruise missiles launched out of submarines to the S-400s, the de facto no-fly zone over Syria is now decided by Moscow - not Washington and much less Ankara.

Propaganda

Western media brought to you by state-sponsored terrorism

© Fotolia/ Karelin Dmitriy
Multi-million-dollar advertising money has long been suspected as an unspoken filter for Western news media coverage. If the news conflicts with advertising interests then it is simply dropped. Western complicity in Yemen's conflict is a case study. Add to that the celebrity sheen of Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman. What we then have is an illustration of how ugly realities of killing and war crimes are cosmetically air brushed from public awareness.

Let's take three major Western media outlets — BBC, CNN, France 24. All are notable for their dearth of news coverage on the bloody conflict in Yemen. On any given day over the past nine months, these channels have rarely given any reports on the daily violence in the Arabian Peninsula country. Yemen is heading into peace talks in Geneva this week, so there might follow some desultory reports on the said channels. But over the past nine months when the country was being pummelled in an appalling onslaught by foreign powers, the same channels gave negligible reportage.

It also turns out — not coincidently — that major advertisers on these same news channels include Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad. The latter two advertisers feature screen celebrities Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman, posing as satisfied customers of these Gulf state-owned companies.