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Tue, 30 Aug 2016
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Demagoguery and cognitive dissonance: Making America great again?

© Chicago Tribune
A Trump supporter makes her allegiance known, in more ways than one.
I love this country. Not for what it's become, of course - a fascist police state with a rabidity and penchant for lashing out that can only be compared to the Third Reich. No, that's definitely my least favorite part about it. What I love is what it is conceptualized as, and what it ostensibly stands for: freedom, democracy, opportunity, a melting pot of cultures and civilizations.

Growing up, studying the history book version of America inspired me. Granted, we glazed over the Native American holocaust and lionized slave owners and oligarchs, but at the core there was an American mythos worth believing in: the right to be secure in our persons and property, the freedom to believe in and practice whatever religion we wanted, a 'free market' in which we could survive, thrive and prosper. In this America, we had the right to defend ourselves from violence, and to speak our minds when we thought there was something worth speaking about.

Sadly, that America doesn't exist, and worse - I doubt it ever did. Since its inception, America has been controlled by the money men. Those who have the most wealth also have the most power. They control and influence public opinion because they have the ability to talk louder than anyone else. They own the media. They buy politicians and legislation. Laws are selectively enforced based on whether or not the populace is aware that they've been violated, and even then this 'elite' usually get away with it. Bribery and corruption are nothing new - in fact, Citizens United legalized it to a whole new level by proclaiming that a corporation's ability to spend money on political campaigns could not be impugned because to do so is considered a 'violation of free speech' because, as everyone knows, corporations are the most important and privileged of all 'people'.

Gold Bar

Money, power and oil: A closer look at Hillary's emails and the 'humanitarian intervention' in Libya

© Eagle Bites
Critics have long questioned why violent intervention was necessary in Libya. Hillary Clinton's recently published emails confirm that it was less about protecting the people from a dictator than about money, banking, and preventing African economic sovereignty.

The brief visit of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Libya in October 2011 was referred to by the media as a "victory lap."

"We came, we saw, he died!" she crowed in a CBS video interview on hearing of the capture and brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.But the victory lap, write Scott Shane and Jo Becker in the New York Times, was premature.

Libya was relegated to the back burner by the State Department, "as the country dissolved into chaos, leading to a civil war that would destabilize the region, fueling the refugee crisis in Europe and allowing the Islamic State to establish a Libyan haven that the United States is now desperately trying to contain."

US-NATO intervention was allegedly undertaken on humanitarian grounds, after reports of mass atrocities; but human rights organizations questioned the claims after finding a lack of evidence. Today, however, verifiable atrocities are occurring. As Dan Kovalik wrote in the Huffington Post, "the human rights situation in Libya is a disaster, as 'thousands of detainees [including children] languish in prisons without proper judicial review,' and 'kidnappings and targeted killings are rampant'."

Before 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, its own food, its own oil, its own money, and its own state-owned bank. It had arisen under Qaddafi from one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country boasted the world's largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.

But that was before US-NATO forces bombed the irrigation system and wreaked havoc on the country. Today the situation is so dire that President Obama has asked his advisors to draw up options including a new military front in Libya, and the Defense Department is reportedly standing ready with "the full spectrum of military operations required."

The Secretary of State's victory lap was indeed premature, if what we're talking about is the officially stated goal of humanitarian intervention. But her newly-released emails reveal another agenda behind the Libyan war; and this one, it seems, was achieved.

Bad Guys

Turkish shelling of Kurds in Syria could 'torpedo' the entire ceasefire

With dozens of armed groups involved, the Russia-US brokered ceasefire in Syria was never going to be easy. But amazingly, the ceasefire is largely holding. Of course, there's always a few party poopers:
A Russia Defence Ministry center in Syria received reports on Saturday of Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions in Syria's Aleppo province, RIA news agency reported, while Turkey said it had been targeting Islamic State positions.
Were the "ISIS positions" in Turkey?

Comment: As if bombing Syria isn't enough, Lavrov has claimed Turkey's begun sending troops into Syria, committing themselves to a de facto invasion of the country. This is occurring as Russia, along with the Syrian Army, are making rapid progress towards ISIS' capital. Perhaps Erdogan's just feeling the heat as his dreams of toppling Assad fall apart, or perhaps Washington is using him for their own nefarious goals. Further reading:


Britain top dog in unregulated shadow world of mercenaries

© Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP
Britain has become the world's post-9/11 "mercenary kingpin" with hundreds of firms employing thousands of ex-military freebooters in a shadowy industry worth billions, a report by charity War on Want claims.

The report, titled 'Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies,' examines the rise of the industry over the past 15 years. It argues that the time has come to ban mercenary firms and "end the privatization of war."

War on Want claims private military and security companies (PMSCs) are reaping massive profits from the war, instability and chaos which have accompanied the 'War on Terror.'

In a statement on the charity's website, executive director John Hillary said: "Private military contractors ran amok in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of human rights abuses in their wake."


Lavrov: Russia has evidence Turkish troops have moved into Syria, 'a creeping expansion'

© Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 26, 2016.

Erdogan is playing a dangerous game in northern Syria

Russia has evidence that Turkish troops are on Syrian territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, accusing Turkey of a "creeping expansion" on its border with Syria.

The comments by Lavrov are the latest confrontation between Moscow and Ankara, after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border in November.
"Turkey has started to declare it has a sovereign right to create some safety zones on Syrian territory," Lavrov told Russian television channel Ren-TV. "According to our data, they have already 'dug themselves in' several hundred meters from the border in Syria. ... It's a sort of creeping expansion."
Lavrov also said that Russia would insist the United Nations invites Kurds to peace talks on the Syrian conflict despite Turkey's opposition.


Great moments in Idiocracy: Watch Trump make his peace with the war party

Donald Trump at Wrestlemania XXIII

Comment: Though Trump is quite often called a 'populist', the truth is that he appeals to the lowest common denominator in American society. That anyone should take anything seriously from Trump - except perhaps for his islamophobic and fascistic rantings - seems to be, at best, an unwise way to think about what he actually is. Still, there are those who like his "independent" streak on foreign policy. And actually believe it. For those few of you out there who are willing to forgive Trump all his other massive failings because of his few well-reasoned remarks, this article is for you.

Just as Reagan Learned to Love Big Government

Many promoters of peace, while not necessarily supporting him, do hope that a Donald Trump presidency would curb or maybe even end the hyper-active militancy of the American empire. They see glimmers of promise in Trump's foreign policy statements.

For example, while his Republican rivals vie with each other over who will most antagonize nuclear Russia, Trump talks about getting along with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Trump also veers off the GOP script when he characterizes the wars in Iraq and Libya as "yuge" mistakes (if not monumental crimes).

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could get along with the rest of the world?" he recently asked. Trump often sounds like an non-interventionist, and many hope he will govern like one too.

Of course it's all just campaign talk, which is never to be trusted. However, some of the cautiously hopeful seem to suspend skepticism in this case on the grounds that, unlike most peace-talking candidates, Trump is genuinely "anti-establishment," and so is more likely to chart an independent course as commander-in-chief.

Comment: More 'TV personality' than anything else, Donald Trump proves that the Idiocracy is here: Now:


South Front: Russian and Iranian military upgrades shifting the global power balance

Russia Defense Report: Russia's Anti-Missile Shield

Light Saber

UN envoy supports Russian stance - Kurds should have a say on Syria's future at Geneva talks

© Murad Sezer / Reuters
Syrian Kurds from Kobani
Syrian Kurds are an important part of the country and should be allowed to express their opinion on the region's future at the Geneva talks, says Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, adding that there is no 'plan B' if negotiations fail.

"The Syrian Kurds are an important component of the country, so we need to find a formula in which they are able to express an opinion on the constitution and the governance of the country," de Mistura told Swiss Le Temps newspaper on Saturday. He added that he has "a mandate to find the formulas ... that are as inclusive as possible."

In another interview published on Saturday, de Mistura said there is no 'plan B' if the peace negotiations fail in Geneva. "The plan B, as far as we can see, is just a continuation of a horrible conflict which will go on and on and on," de Mistura told Al Jazeera.

"And you know who will be the only victims? The Syrian people. And I don't think there is a real plan B except for pushing hard for this to go on into a successful outcome of a political solution according to the Geneva Communique."

Star of David

US willing to spend big on Israel to extend power in the Middle East

© AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press/File Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Tuesday, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a visit to the White House scheduled for later in March. Professor Ghada Talhami told Sputnik's Brian Becker that the relationship between Israel and the US is still defined by Washington lobbyists, and by America's dominating outlook.

The US has long turned a blind eye to Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories, and during Biden's previous official visit to Israel, the Netanyahu government announced the construction of additional settlements. According to Talhami, one of the reasons why the US cannot take effective action against Israel, America's biggest recipient of foreign aid, is the power of the Israeli lobby in Washington, DC.

"The work of the Israeli lobby has been unbelievable in the United States, to the extent that [Arabs in the US] call the United States Congress 'Israeli occupied territory'" Talhami said. "This is quite a machine; it has been built over the years and...has managed to restrain the chief executive in our government."


Supporting terrorists by proxy: Another CIA-backed group gives its weapons to al-Qaeda

© REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
Syria's Idleb province is held by Jabhat al-Nusra, aka al-Qaeda in Syria, and Ahrar al Sham with a sprinkling of "moderates" added to the mix. While Nusra and Ahrar have support from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the "moderates" are supported by the CIA which provides them with anti-tank weapons.

When in 2013 these groups stormed government held positions in Idleb, Nusra, Ahrar and Islamic State Jihadis were leading the fighting and employed suicide bombers. Their attacks were supported by electronic warfare measures from Turkey which disabled the Syrian Army's communication. The CIA "moderates" were integrated as anti-tank teams using their U.S. supplied weapons in support of the Jihadi offense.

The U.S.-supported groups in Idleb are currently grouped under the moniker "Division 13" or "Brigade 13". The cessation of hostilities in Syria means that all these "moderates" in Idleb province have time to discuss their ideological differences. Jenan Moussa (@JenanMoussa) is the "Roving reporter Arabic Al Aan TV. Based in Dubai but roams around MidEast". She reports on Syria from a mostly pro-opposition standpoint and has long favored "moderate" as well as "not-so-moderate" Jihadis.

Comment: According to the AFP, Nusra also kidnapped many Division 13 members. Division 13 also released a video "showing apparent widows of FSA men killed in the conflict protesting against al-Nusra Front at a graveyard."