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MSM fake news industry uses projection as the major weapon

MSM allegations of "fake news" and attempts to discredit the opponent as a projection of own misbehavior

News Anti Trump Hysteria Recommended Links Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Whataboutism as a thought crime Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak
Demonization of Putin Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? Obama's Putin-did-it fiasco Media-Military-Industrial Complex Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton
Doublespeak Discrediting the opponent as favorite tactic of neoliberals The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Freedom of speech played by Western MSM as three card monte Patterns of Propaganda The importance of controlling the narrative
MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Cold War II "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place Neoconservatism as the USA version of Neoliberal ideology  Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers New American Militarism
Swiftboating: Khan gambit against Trump at Democratic Convention Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome" Deception as an art form The Deep State National Security State Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law
Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair US and British media are servants of security apparatus The attempt to secure global hegemony American Exceptionalism Co-opting of the Human Rights to embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism Manipulation of the term "freedom of press"
Lewis Powell Memo Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Edward Lucas as agent provocateur Groupthink Soft propaganda
Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' The Real War on Reality Nation under attack meme Bullshit as MSM communication method
Neo-fascism Classic Hypocrisy of British Ruling Elite Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Big Uncle is Watching You What's the Matter with Kansas Media as a weapon of mass deception
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass The Good Soldier Svejk Nineteen Eighty-Four Propaganda Quotes Humor Etc
  For more and more Americans, the other side isn’t merely misguided in the extreme. It’s evil in the absolute, and virtue is measured by the starkness with which that evil is labeled and reviled. There are emotional satisfactions to this. There is also a terrible price.

, June 17, 2017

I’m O.K. — You’re Pure Evil - The New York Times

Liars always become very touchy when confronted with their falsehoods. They will inevitably attack there accusers with more lies to make them look bad. This is a fundamental reflex all liars respond to critics with. "I'm not lying, you are!" Those who want to believe the real liar love this response, because it gives them an excuse not to investigate if the accuser may be right. Then they can just turn on the accuser and blame them for false accusation – without the slightest proof, of course.

Comment at https://consortiumnews.com

The capacity to disseminate misinformation, in order to paint the opposition in wildly negative light, suppressing any rebuttal is now standard tactic of US MSM. It allows sharp polarization of  the electorate, the classic "divide and conquer" strategy.

Over the past decade in particular, the internet and social media have changed the game. They speed people to like-minded warriors and give them the impression of broader company or sturdier validation than really exist. The fervor of those in the anti-vaccine movement exemplifies this.

Admirers can now coalesce quickly (like was the case during Sanders run), but the same is true for the opposite side. The Web becomes worldwide Hyde Park, where everyone shows up with his/her personal opinions, convictions, and, of course,  truth.

But Web sites with  forums of likeminded people create echo camera effect, “create a whole new permission structure, a sense of social affirmation for what was once unthinkable...”   If words can inspire, then they can also incite or debase. As the result, people are  surrendering restraint and a socially important thing called tact. And this "verbal extremism" guarantees to widen the divisions between us. That’s true whether those words are spoken from the right or from the left, and the monetization of partisan combat spans the ideological spectrum.

George Orwell’s “Looking Back on the Spanish War,” said that for him, “history stopped in 1936,” because it was there, in Spain, that he discovered for the first time “newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts.”

It was there that he sensed that “the very concept of objective truth,” ruined by propaganda. more modern form including "mathiness" -- miring the obvious in a miasma of charts and graphs

Another interesting effect of Web is that now it is not necessary to suppress somebody opinion expressed say in the article on the Web. now it is enough to remove it from Google and couple of other popular search engines.

Also valid, valuable opinions became diluted in tremendous amount of "junk" - irrelevant or clearly erroneous information generated on the Web.  If one read attentively Guardian forums (which are one of the most high quality forums on the Web), one can state that there is 5% or less commenters who really know the subject they are talking about; often better/deeper then the author of the article they discuss. But to find them one need to browse pages of irrelevant comments.

Discrediting the opponent as a favorite tactic of neoliberals

Whataboutism is a nickname MSM have given that dirty the tactic of discrediting the opponent, when the opponent questions the USA objectivity because it committed similar or worse crimes in the past. Which, of course, if nor deprive, but greatly diminish the USA status as an objective judge.

Neoliberal channels are ready to come up with numerous conspiracy theories, painting the opponent, especially Russia, as ruthless canning opportunists, devoid of any moral principles. But, unfortunately, this is true about the USA too.

The key idea of this cynical post-modern media strategy, perfected by neoliberal political technologists is to block/suppress/dilute all opposing views in the "neoliberal noise" (like air dominance in war the US MSM practice full airwave dominance). That's why Putin interview is edited in such a wya as to hide any substantial criticism of the US policy. And not only Putin. This  is a universal strategy of deciet.  Its goal of the US MSM is to confuse what’s true with what’s not, to the point that the truth vanishes. What it undeniable is that over the past year neoliberals created an artificial reality that matches or exceed the one that existed in the USSR. Along with demonization Russia they also greatly succeeded in demonization of Trump.

This color revolution that Clinton and their supporters in several intelligence agencies launched against Trump in election would be painfully familiar to one who observed , for example, Ukrainian Orange revolution. Templates are identical.  just the goals are different (in case of Orange revolution delegitimization of elections to the extent that new elections were called; in case of anti-Trump  color revolution the appointment of the Special Prosecutor (aka Grand Inquisitor) was the goal.

WJ , May 4, 2018 3:53:30 PM | 12

The detail of b's analysis that stands out to me as especially significant and brilliant is his demolition of the Guardian's reuse of the Merkel "quote."

This one detail tells us so much about how propaganda works, and about how it can be defeated. Successful propaganda both depends upon and seeks to accelerate the erasure of historical memory. This is because its truths are always changing to suit the immediate needs of the state. None of its truths can be understood historically.

B makes the connection between the documented but forgotten past "truth" of Merkel's quote and its present reincarnation in the Guardian, and this is really all he *needs* to do.

What b points out is something quite simple; yet the ability to do this very simple thing is becoming increasingly rare and its exercise increasingly difficult to achieve. It is for me the virtue that makes b's analysis uniquely indispensable.

Related to the above, consider the nature of the recently christened thought-crime, "whataboutism." The crime may be defined as follows:

"Whataboutism" is the attempt to understand a truth asserted by propaganda by way of relation to other truths it has asserted contemporaneous with or prior to this one. It is to ask, "What about this *other* truth? Does this *other* truth affect our understanding of *this* truth? And if so, how does it?"

Whataboutism seems to proclaim that each asserted truth stands on its own, and has no essential relation to any other past, present, or future asserted truth.

This is what must be done by free thinkers if they are to counter and reverse the collectivist nightmare of neoliberalism.

Try to avoid false trick of "shaming" under some artificial labels like communist or racist: Social justice relies on shaming tactics, usually by slandering an opponent with a label that does not really apply to him, in order to control his arguments and behavior. If you don’t care about being called a bigot, a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, a homophobe, etc., then there is not really much that they can do to you.

Do not self-censor: This does not mean you should go out of your way to be antagonistic or act like an ass, but the thought police have power only if you give power to them. Say what you want to say when you want to say it, and do it with a smile. Let the PC police froth and scream until they have an aneurism. neoliberals are generally weaklings. They avoid physical confrontation like they avoid logic, so why fear them?

Demand facts to back claims: neoliberals tend to argue on the basis of opinion rather than fact. Present facts to counter their claims, and demand facts and evidence in return. Opinions are irrelevant if the person is not willing to present supporting facts when asked.

Do not play the game of "unconscious bias": If social justice cultists can't counter your position with facts or logic, they will invariably turn to the old standby that you are limited in your insight because you have not lived in the shoes of a - (insert victim group here).  I agree.  In fact, I would point out that this reality of limited perception also applies to THEM as well.  They have not lived in my shoes, therefore they are in no position to claim I enjoy "privilege" while they do not.  This is why facts and evidence are so important, and why anecdotal evidence and personal feelings are irrelevant where cultural Marxism is concerned.

Let neoliberals know their fears and feelings do not matter: No one is entitled to have their feelings addressed by others. And, a person’s fears are ultimately unimportant. Whether the issue is the nonexistent “rape culture” or the contempt neoliberals feel over private gun ownership, their irrational fears are not our concern. Why should any individual relinquish his liberties in the name of placating frightened nobodies?

Demand that banksters respect your inherent individual rights: Banksters message is that there is no such thing as inherent rights or liberties and that all rights are arbitrary and subject to the whims of the group or the state. This is false. I have written extensively in the past on inherent rights, inborn psychological contents and natural law, referencing diverse luminaries, scientists and thinkers, including Thomas Aquinas, Carl Gustave Jung, Steven Pinker, etc., and I welcome readers to study my many articles on individualism.  Freedom is an inborn conception with universally understood aspects. Period. No group or collective is more important than individual liberty. No artificial society has preeminence over the individuals within that society. As long as a person is not directly impeding the life, liberty, prosperity and privacy of another person, he should be left alone.

Maintain your rights as long as they do not hurt other people: PC cultists will invariably argue that every person, whether he knows it or not, is indirectly harming others with his attitude, his beliefs, his refusal to associate, even his very breathing.  "We live in a society", they say, "and everything we do affects everyone else...".  Don’t take such accusations seriously; these people do not understand how freedom works.

Say, for instance, hypothetically, that I refuse to bake a gay wedding cake for a couple and I am accused of violating their rights in the name of preserving my own. I would immediately point out that no one is entitled to a gay wedding cake, baked by me or anyone else and I have every right to choose my associations based on whatever criteria I see fit. Now, a corrupt government entity may claim I do not have that right. But the fact is I do, and no one — not even government — can force me to bake a cake if I don’t want to. Also, I would point out that the gay couple in question has every right in a free society to bake their OWN damn cake or open their own cake shop to compete with mine. This is how freedom works. It is not based on collective entitlement; it is based on personal responsibility.

Refuse to deny the scientific fact of biological gender: Gender is first and foremost a genetic imperative. Society only partially determine gender roles; nature does the most. A man who chops up his body and takes hormone pills to look like a woman is not and will never be a woman. A woman who tapes down her breasts and gets a short haircut will never be a man. There is no such thing as “transgendered” people. No amount of social justice or wishful thinking will ever allow them to reverse their genetic proclivities. Their psychological and sexual leanings do not change their inborn biological reality.

By extension, we should refuse to play along with this nonsense. I will never refer to a man in a wig and dress as a “woman.” I will never refer to a woman with identity issues as “transgendered.” They are what nature made them, and we should not police our pronouns just to falsely reassure them that they can deny nature.

Deny both neoliberal idea of "greed is good" and the illusion of Utopian equality: "Greed is good" proved to be an effective instrument of destruction of the USA society in just 35 years. Now we have "Dis-united States of America." Not the "United States of America." Like traffic light regulation perform a vital fuinction and removing vital regulations inflict a heavy price of the society. Opposite is also true: too much regulations  also inflict a price.  There is no such thing as pure social equality. It was never achieved in societies that try it, such as early the USSR.  Society is not a homogeneous entity, it is an abstraction built around a group of unique individuals.  Individuals can be naturally gifted, or naturally challenged.  But there will always be some people who are more apt towards success than others and the success of the society depends of promoting such people to more important  roles. Financial remuneration actually can pray here secondary role, but different in status is unavoidable. Primates-related concept of 'alpha male" is a precursor to social differentiation in human societies. 

I have no problem whatsoever with the idea of equality of opportunity, which is exactly what we have in this country (except in the world of elitist finance which is purely driven by nepotism).  I do have a problem with the lie of universal equality through engineered means.

Standards of success should not be lowered in order to accommodate the least skilled people to facilitate artificial parity.  For example, I constantly hear the argument that more people with victim group status should be given greater representation in positions of influence and regard within our culture, from science and engineering, to media, to business CEO's, to politics, etc.  The key word here is "given", rather than "earned".  There is nothing wrong with one group of people excelling in a field more than another group, and there is nothing wrong with inequality when it comes to individual achievement.  We must begin refusing to reward people for mediocrity and punishing success simply because the winners are not part of a designated victim group.

If you are a man, embrace your role: I am a man and cannot claim to know what specific solutions women should take to counter cultural Marxism. I would love to read an article written on the subject by a woman in the Liberty Movement.  I will say that men in particular have a considerable task ahead in terms of their personal endeavors if they hope to repair the destruction of social justice.

For thousands of years, men have been the primary industrial force behind human progress. Today, they are relegated to cubicles and customer service, to video games and Web fantasies, to drug addictions and a lack of responsibility. If we have any chance of undoing the damage of cultural Marxism, modern men must take on their original roles as producers, inventors, entrepreneurs, protectors, builders and warriors once again. They should do this for their own benefit, and not for the validation of others.

You don’t have to prove to anyone you do "manly things", just go out and do them. Most importantly, become dangerous. Men are meant to be dangerous beings. That does not mean we are meant to be indiscriminately violent (just as women aren’t meant to be indiscriminately violent), but we are supposed to be threatening to those who would threaten us. Modern society has NOT removed the need for masculinity and I believe people will begin realizing this the more our culture sinks into economic despair. Train in martial arts, learn tactical firearms handling, go hunting and don’t take lip from people. In my opinion, every man should know how to kill things, even if he never plans on using those abilities.

Resist neoliberal brainwashing of your children: It’s simple, if you don’t want your kids propagandized, if you truly want them to be free from collectivist conditioning, then you will make the sacrifice and extract them from public schooling. With the introduction of Common Core into U.S. schools in particular, there is no other recourse but home schooling to prevent the brainwashing of cultural Marxism. If you do not do this, you are relying on the hope that your children will escape with their critical thinking abilities intact. Some do, and some don’t. Others turn into mindless social justice zombies. You can give them an advantage by removing them from a poisonous environment, and that is what matters.

The insane lie that neoliberals seem to have conned themselves and others into believing is that their “activism” is somehow anti-establishment. In fact, social justice is constantly coddled and supported by the establishment.

From politicians to judges to media pundits to the blogosphere, the overwhelming majority of people in positions of traditional power (even in supposedly conservative circles) have been more than happy to become the enforcers of the neoliberal agenda (including "fake democratization" agenda). There is no establishment for the army of enforces of political correctness to fight; the establishment bias works vastly more in favor of their ideology than any other. Neoliberals ARE the establishment.


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Old News ;-)

[Jan 24, 2020] Peter Hitchen to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat: You're not in the ladies' lingerie trade now, sweetie

Highly recommended!
Kevin Smith: "Higgins is currently frantically trying to prop up the Douma narrative against a mountain of evidence disproving his conclusions. For those who’ve followed his story, it’s clear that Higgins is an intelligence asset, set up to take the fall when the currently collapsing narratives take hold in the mainstream.
Jan 24, 2020 | off-guardian.org

"You didn't think that one through, did you, @eliothiggins sweetie? You're not in the ladies' lingerie trade now. This discussion is about truth, which endures, is not held together by elastic, and is not for sale." ~Peter Hitchens responding to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat over the OPCW scandal on Twitter – 2 January 2020.

[Jan 24, 2020] Crimes of the century truth, perception and punishment

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I believe more people nowadays recognise that the devastating wars in Iraq and Libya and events in Syria were pushed by our governments and media. They can even accept, when you explain, that we've been assisting terrorists to unseat governments for years. But they seem hesitant of taking the next step and we need to encourage them on this path. ..."
"... This path leads to recognising the sheer evil in our midst and getting out of this mindset that criminal behavior and lying in governments and in our media is normal or should in any way be tolerated. Perhaps some people appreciate this already but don't want to address it out of concern to what they might find. Maybe some people dread the thought of a global conflict so ignore it. But we need to hammer home the consequences of simply doing nothing. ..."
"... I've been trying to think of an analogy to try to get this point across. I sometimes say to people, we wouldn't have released a serial killer like Harold Shipman from prison and appointed him Foreign Secretary. Therefore, why do we tolerate a long line of Foreign Secretaries complicit in laying waste to the world? Sadly, with this analogy most people usually look back at me blankly so I have been searching for one more complete and rooted in history which people can relate better to events today. ..."
Jan 24, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Kevin Smith

"You didn't think that one through, did you, @eliothiggins sweetie? You're not in the ladies' lingerie trade now. This discussion is about truth, which endures, is not held together by elastic, and is not for sale."
Peter Hitchens responding to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat over the OPCW scandal on Twitter – 2 January 2020.

Like many, I've been following the Douma scandal for some time and particularly since the OPCW whistleblowers and leaked emails blew the lid off the official narrative that Assad used chemical weapons there.

This issue is being discussed on one of my 'go to' accounts on Twitter – Peter Hitchens who has brought this to the attention of the mainstream .

For the past few weeks he's been debating the topic with Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, Scott Lucas and various Middle East based journalists who created and then pushed the false narrative.

In fact, it's not really a debate. Peter Hitchens is quite literally slaughtering these narrative managers – his logic and clear thinking – and wit exposing the numerous gaps in their story and their desperate deflections.

Hitchens position is not exactly the same as many of us here hold – that Douma was a clear false flag. What he is saying is the evidence points to there being no chemical attack by the Syrian government, the pretext used for the attack on Syria. He doesn't wish to speculate on matters which aren't conclusively proven, for example precisely on what did actually happen.

I respect that position in many ways and his refusal to comment on the dead civilians in the Douma images makes sense from a journalist in the mainstream. I think by having a position which is clear and unassailable enables him to easily brush off his online detractors and not allow them to deflect to other issues.

While I don't agree with everything he says, Hitchens has a calm and rational argument for all the issues he covers. This puts clear ground between him and his online opponents who often resort to childish abuse.

My 80-year old mum admires him too. She describes him as 'frightfully posh'. Perhaps someone who might have belonged in a previous age – but I'm glad we have him in this one.

Anyway, I think we can be sure that Hitchens will continue his important work within the remit he's chosen and others will investigate the unanswered questions which arise from the Douma incident.

Ultimately the question about the dead civilians in the images is simply too dreadful to ignore.

This is because if a chemical attack did not take place and Assad was not responsible it seems highly likely that the civilians including children were murdered to facilitate a fabrication.

And were our own intelligence agencies involved in a staged event, considering the refusal to even establish the basic facts in the days following?

And then, of course, the resulting air strikes nearly caused us to go to war with Russia, with all that would entail.

While these investigations continue, I think it's timely to see where these events fit into the way the general public think and perceive wrongdoing and to try to radically to change this.

I believe more people nowadays recognise that the devastating wars in Iraq and Libya and events in Syria were pushed by our governments and media. They can even accept, when you explain, that we've been assisting terrorists to unseat governments for years. But they seem hesitant of taking the next step and we need to encourage them on this path.

This path leads to recognising the sheer evil in our midst and getting out of this mindset that criminal behavior and lying in governments and in our media is normal or should in any way be tolerated. Perhaps some people appreciate this already but don't want to address it out of concern to what they might find. Maybe some people dread the thought of a global conflict so ignore it. But we need to hammer home the consequences of simply doing nothing.

I've been trying to think of an analogy to try to get this point across. I sometimes say to people, we wouldn't have released a serial killer like Harold Shipman from prison and appointed him Foreign Secretary. Therefore, why do we tolerate a long line of Foreign Secretaries complicit in laying waste to the world? Sadly, with this analogy most people usually look back at me blankly so I have been searching for one more complete and rooted in history which people can relate better to events today.

So, here follows an analogy of a character who lived in the 17th century. His traits, his crimes, the political climate and peoples misguided perceptions in response can be compared to recent events and one particular individual causing havoc in the world today.

Of course I refer to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat.

Eliot ( 'suck my balls' ) Higgins and Titus Oates 1. Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat

Higgins probably doesn't need much of an introduction here. It seems he has no specific qualifications relevant to his role and a bit of a drop-out in terms of education.

Higgins has been quoted as saying :

Before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons than the average Xbox owner. I had no knowledge beyond what I'd learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo."

But this didn't prevent him blogging about world events and then setting himself up and his site as investigator for several incidents most notably the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane over Ukraine and allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. It's now known that Bellingcat is funded by pro-war groups including the Atlantic Council

Higgins has been accused by chemical weapons experts, academics and independent journalists on the ground of fabricating evidence to reach a predetermined outcome decided on by his funders.

His rise to prominence was fast and apparently some media editors now refer their journalists to Bellingcat fabrications rather than allowing them to do any journalism themselves.

Higgins is currently frantically trying to prop up the Douma narrative against a mountain of evidence disproving his conclusions.

For those who've followed his story, it's clear that Higgins is an intelligence asset, set up to take the fall when the currently collapsing narratives take hold in the mainstream.

2. Titus Oates and the Popish Plot

Oates was a foul-mouthed charlatan , serial liar and master of deception who lived in the 17th century. His earlier life included being expelled from school and he was labelled a 'dunce' by people who knew him. He became a clergyman and later joined the Navy. His career was plagued by various sex scandals and charges of perjury.

In the 1670s during the time of Charles II, religious tensions threatened to spill over into civil war but the pragmatic King, by and large, kept a lid on it.

However, along with Dr Israel Tonge an anti-Catholic rector, Oates started writing conspiracy theories and inventing plots and later began writing a manuscript alleging of a plan to assassinate King Charles II and replace him with his openly Catholic brother.

When the fabrication started to gather momentum, the King had an audience with Oates and was unconvinced and was said to have found discrepancies in his story.

However, the tense political and religious climate at that time was ideal for conspiracy theories and scaremongering. The King's ministers took Oates at his word and over a dozen Catholics were executed for treason. This story created panic and paranoia lasting several years taking the nation to the brink of civil war.

Over time Oates lies were exposed and when the Catholic King James II came to the throne, he tried Oates with perjury and he was whipped and placed in the pillory.

After James II fled England during the so-called 'Glorious Revolution' King William and Queen Mary pardoned Oates and gave him a pension.

For me, this whole episode has many obvious parallels with Higgins, the long-running Russia and the anti-Semitism witch-hunts in the media and the false narratives over Iraq, Libya and Syria. Like those in power today, Oates had a knack for getting away with it. And I guess we can all relate this to Julian Assange – the victims or whistleblowers being punished and the perpetrators getting off.

I had wondered why James II, often ruthless and unforgiving had not executed Oates. But apparently the crime of perjury even then didn't carry the death sentence. The judge who convicted Oates was said to have tried his best to finish him off through the whipping, though he survived.

But perhaps even the King and judiciary in failing in this or not using other means at their disposal, couldn't comprehend the enormity of his crimes. Oates was after all a rather absurd character, open to ridicule.

Perhaps this is a bit similar to people today when discovering that Eliot Higgins is also a foul-mouthed fraud – but they can't reconcile this comical ex-lingerie employee as a menace to humanity.

3. Modern day

In the past few weeks I've read various older articles on Iraq and Syria. US troops shooting people for fun from a helicopter . The perpetrators are still free – the whistle-blowers who exposed that, and other events in prison or exile.

Last year we learned about a shocking massacre of Syrian children, unreported in the mainstream media . Mainstream journalists through their one-sided distortions of the conflict and silence, perpetuating the myth that the terrorists who carried out this mass murder are freedom fighters.

And as I've mentioned, we've seen firmer evidence of what many of us knew along – that Douma was a staged fabrication as a pretext for air-strikes and dangerously escalating the Syrian war. The likes of Eliot Higgins and others in the media, colluding in the cover-up of mass murder which likely facilitated this event. And for those honest journalists and experts who bring the truth of these staged events to us, smears will no doubt continue .

Higgins and others in the media who lie, misinform or remain silent are no better than those shooting civilians from helicopters or starting these wars in the first place. In fact, they have killed more and keep killing.

This modern-day Titus Oates, and others share a big responsibility for death and destruction in the Middle East and a dangerous new Cold War.

As I say, I think people are waking up to the distorted narratives and misdirections which have inflicted war on others. Now they need to take the next step and grasp the sheer enormity of the crimes and the risks of global conflict if we don't act.

So, how do we achieve this and get in a position of holding the criminals and war propagandists to account?

By confronting them directly and mercilessly. As Jeremy Corbyn should have done over the anti-Semitism hoax. Perhaps we should adopt some of the tactics they use against the truth-tellers and whistle-blowers. I don't mean by lies or smears. Maybe even ridiculing these people and their nonsense might have the effect of trivialising the crimes they have committed.

No, I think it is time for plainer, no-holds-barred language describing these people for the true evil they are – until the truth and label sticks.

We need to recognise more the seriousness of the crimes. This commentary from the usually measured Piers Robinson about the staged event in Douma reflects the true gravity of the situation in terms of the OPCW complicity .

4. The hijacking of OPCW

The cover-up of evidence that the Douma incident was staged is not merely misconduct. As the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of civilians, those in OPCW who have suppressed the evidence of staging are, unwittingly or otherwise, colluding with mass murder."

We need to now apply this strong language to all crimes committed, be it from the soldiers on the ground, the governments starting these wars or supplying terrorists or the media which promote mass murder through their lies, distortions and silence when presented with the true facts.

We need to go on the offensive and call out the criminals and spell out in no uncertain terms what we are dealing with. With the evidence and fact-based analogies or arguments we publish we should be using more commentary such as 'mass murderer', 'traitor' or 'terrorist propagandist'.

This is particularly important in light of events in recent days. The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani has been normalised in both mainstream and on social media. The people legitimising state-sponsored murder in offices thousands of miles away from Iran, woefully ignorant of the potential of this causing a chain of events which could visit our door soon.

Above all, we should specifically name and shame the individuals promoting war. This needs to be relentless. The official war narratives which have crumbled so far are ample evidence of wrongdoing on a vast scale. So, we can be confident in doing this with the truth firmly on our side.

Filed under: Douma "Chemical Attack" , historical perspectives , latest , Syria Tagged with: Bellingcat. Eliot Higgins , douma chemical attack , Glorious Revelution , Kevin Smith , OPCW , Peter Hitchens , Titus Oates can you spare $1.00 a month to support independent media

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wardropper ,

No, I think it is time for plainer, no-holds-barred language describing these people for the true evil they are – until the truth and label sticks.
Yes indeed.
I was, however, reminded today of the huge mountain we yet have to climb before it can be normal again NOT to be corrupt and wicked. The scenario was a session of acrimony in a US Senate chamber, and according to the NYTimes, "Tensions grew so raw after midnight that Chief Justice Roberts cut in just before 1 a.m. to admonish the managers and the president's lawyers to "remember where they are" and return to "civil discourse." "
"Remembering where you are", when dealing with Titus Oates and other vulgar frauds is perhaps not entirely appropriate ?

wardropper ,

Apologies, I forgot to set the first sentence in quotes

Thom ,

Hitchens may be on the level on this particular issue but it is part of a wider deception where Hitchens poses as a friend to critical thinkers and then tells them they are helpless and/or can do nothing about it. If he really had journalistic integrity he wouldn't be taking a salary from the Mail on Sunday, a newspaper that relentlessly lied for the Tories at the last election, with the help of the itelligence agencies.

Koba ,

As good as Hitchens has done here he's still at heart a Trotskyist he lives a good split and a toothless display just like the Trotskyists he used to side with. His brother went from Trotskyist to soft neocon and peter went from Trotskyist to an ardent Christian Conservative in a veeeeeery short space of time. Plus there dad was deeeeep in with the establishment and his mum Jewish. So .

Richard Le Sarc ,

what?

Gall ,

Bellingcrap is just another scam like Dupes (Snopes) and Politi"facts". All of them are funded by the Atlantic Council and the CIA front National Endowment for "Democracy". Their cover as an "independent objective fact checking service" is about as transparent as Saran Wrap.

tonyopmoc ,

I really liked this when I read it this morning, before the grandkids came round, but I thought some of the comments a bit severe..

I mean this photo is of some 40 year old kid, who lives in Leicester, and his Mum/wife/sister or whatever works in the local Post Office .

I personally had never heard of Brown Noses, and I have never personnally succeeded in getting anything I wrote, posted above our below the line, since The Manchester Guardian moved from Manchester to London, and whilst I do love reading some of the posters' comments well look face it.

Even though Rhys probabaly doesn't like what this kid writes – Elliot is it? he is hardly going to come round with a chainsaw, to cut his head off is he? He probably never even thought of it.

He did say he is small fry, and he probably is still a virgin (been brainwashed – so he actually belives the model doll is better. What has he got to compare it to?)

So I can't blame any of them.

There are alternatives as well as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and all those Dating Websites, when almost everything you write gets deleted.

Just go down the local pub when there is a good band on. Even I can pull there, but I am better looking than both Rhys and Elliot

I Like Girls.

I am a man. It's Normal

Just keep fit dancing and smiling, and you will be O.K.

Tony

paul ,

The prime importance of these endless hoaxes, smears, lies, fabrications and official approved conspiracy theories, lies not so much in the events themselves as what it says about the nature of the people who rule over us and their courtiers and handmaidens in the MSM.

It would take a whole forest of trees merely to catalogue all their lies over the years, whether it's the Iraq Incubator Babies, the black Viagra fuelled rape gangs in Libya, the Syrian Gas Hoaxes, 9/11, Iraq's WMD, Iran's non existent nuclear weapons, Skripal, Russiagate, Ukrainegate, or the communist spy/ terrorist/ anti semitic smear campaign against Corbyn. And that is only the tip of a very large iceberg. You could go back further to Gladio, Operation Northwoods, Tonkin Gulf, the "Holocaust", Zinoviev Letter, Bayonetted Belgian Babies, Raped Belgian Nuns, Human Bodies Made Into Soap. The list is endless.

We have been lied to consistently for years, decades, and generations. And these lies have been peddled endlessly in the MSM, no matter how ludicrous and transparently false they are. In the absence of direct personal knowledge or very convincing evidence to the contrary, you just have to assume that everything we have ever been told, are being told, and will be told, and most of the accepted historical record, are simply false. Nothing, nothing at all, can ever be taken at face value.

And those who rule over us and who are responsible for these lies are psychopathic subhuman filth devoid of any moral values or any redeeming features whatsoever. They are a thousand times worse than the worst mass murderers or child killers who have ever been through our courts. The Moors Murderers, the Ted Bundys, the Jeffrey Dahmers, were seriously damaged individuals who killed a handful of victims. And they did their own dirty work. The Blairs, the Campbells, the Straws, the Bushes, the Cheneys, the Rumsfelds, the Allbrights, the Macrons, the Camerons, the Netanyahus, the Trumps, have the blood of millions on their hands. They and their wire pullers are responsible for the death, starvation and misery of tens and hundreds of millions.

So when Blair, or Johnson, or Trump or whoever is interviewed on television, you have to remember that individual is a thousand times worse than the Moors Murderers, and we would actually be that much better off if Brady or Hindley were ruling over us. They deserve no respect or deference or legitimacy. They plot the murders of millions and the starvation of tens of millions – and laugh and giggle as they do so. They should be simply recognised for what they awe – psychopathic subhuman filth.

austrian peter ,

I do agree with you Paul and of course all you say is true. One of the main problems is that these people have the power to build artificial constructs sufficient for the masses to believe and perpetuated through their bought and paid for MSM whose journalists are mere foot soldiers and wish only to get their pay checks. They have no reason to question the lies and distortions pedaled to them by TPTB – they merely repeat the false narrative:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" – Upton Sinclair

And we, the great 99%, have little power to change things except within our local network. We can shout all we like on social media but it changes nothing until the great crisis reoccurs and perhaps the masses will rise and demand a just and equitable system. Until that day perhaps this little video will provide an understanding:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/rStL7niR7gs?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Roberto ,

The business of the MSM throughout the ages has been to traumatise or at least just generally worry the public with headlines focused on fear, envy, anger, revenge, and hate. Include all five in your story and you're well on the way to a Pulitzer Prize, bestowed on the profession by one of the great muckrakers of all time. It's not incidental that there have been a disturbing number of winners that have turned out to be dissembling frauds. Add to this the fact that 'journalism' training apparently does not teach entrants to distinguish the difference between opinion and news, and the die is cast: propaganda as news.

Dungroanin ,

Here is what BellEndScat supporting Rusbridger is moaning about.

"For some years now – largely unreported – two chancery court judges have been dealing with literally hundreds of cases of phone hacking against MGN Ltd and News Group, the owners, respectively, of the Daily Mirror and the Sun (as well as the defunct News of the World).
The two publishers are, between them, forking out eye-watering sums to avoid any cases going to trial in open court. Because the newspaper industry lobbied so forcefully to scrap the second part of the Leveson inquiry, which had been due to shine a light on such matters, we can only surmise what is going on.

But there are clues. Mirror Group (now Reach) had by July 2018 set aside more than £70m to settle phone-hacking claims without risking any of them getting to court. The BBC reported last year that the Murdoch titles had paid out an astonishing £400m in damages and calculated that the total bill for the two companies could eventually reach £1bn."

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/19/there-is-a-reason-why-royals-demonised-but-wont-read-all-about-it-prince-harry-meghan-markle

On the overall perfidious msm he quips:

"Because the newspaper industry lobbied so forcefully to scrap the second part of the Leveson inquiry, which had been due to shine a light on such matters, we can only surmise what is going on."

-- --

Completely ignoring that the Integrity Iniative infested Guardian ITSELF objected to the recommendation of Levesons thoroughly public Inquiry and opposition to a independent press regulator!

It would have been a building block and certainly stopped most of the continued press misbehaviour over the last 5 years.

Neither Fish nor Fowl Mr Rusbridger. More sinner that saint, more like.

Hugh O'Neill ,

Going to the heart of what Bellingcat, MI6 and CIA is Pompeo's: "We lie, we cheat, we steal." These evil filth are devoid of any moral code and have no respect whatsoever for the laws of God or Man. At which point, consider Moses' (how apt) Ten Commandments. There among them is: "Thou shalt not bear false witness". Think what you will of these Ten, but as a moral code, they were quite useful.

Richard Le Sarc ,

Would that all these scum could share the fate of their progenitor, Streicher-without the ' necktie party'. Life at hard labour would do the lot of them much good.

Brianeg ,

I looked at the Veterans Today link and it all sounds very plausible'

However in today's world nothing makes sense especially when the questions arise.

Is it possible to change the signal of an aircrafts transponder remotely. Can the target acquisition radar on the missile be spoofed remotely. Just why did the flight control officer sanction the take off of this plane in the middle of a war unless they were party to the whole thing.. Just what were the six Israeli F-35 jets doing flying close to the Iranian border?

Okay there is a lot of smoke but just where is the fire.

Just as interesting is that none of the twelve Iranian missiles was intercepted and there are rumours that the Iranians were able to take out of action American air defences.

I am sure that like with Douma when the majority of NATO missiles were intercepted by missiles that were decades old, you wonder what might happen when most of the middle east is covered by the S-300 and later versions.

This is a story that has got a long way to run and we might never hear the ending.

Dungroanin ,

Facts are inconvenient.
Many planes took off.
This one was delayed by the pilot 'to remove overloading'.
Reports of Cruise missiles heading in.

Mucho ,

For the best info on this, go to Brendon O' Connell's channel and watch 1 to 3 and number 22. You will get answers there.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYaLxbD7Rix3p1rdGY3IMjg?pbjreload=10

Also go to the Antedote and listen to Greg and Jeremy's latest offering.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMf1qGR8km1c8vg_dtpzzVQ

Dungroanin ,

It sounds a bit MAGA.

The thing about 'chips' is they could easily be identified by putting them in a black box and watching what they do using a chip which only does that!

The whole bs about it's THEM not US crap falls away. Just need some open source simple 'custodian' chip manufacturer to make that available. If it can be made a 'gate keeper' than we are all safe.

Mucho ,

"It sounds a bit MAGA. "
After this, I will never, ever read any of your comments ever again. Get lost!

Mucho ,

You talk so much crap. Please, keep it to yourself

Dungroanin ,

I ain't saying that is your opinion am I?

The bit I watched was him being gung-ho about getting back 'control of microprocessors' !!!

There is a big difference between designing chips and 'manufacturing' facilities'.

Have you never wondered why most actual building of small electrical component equipment takes place in Asia?

I don't care wherher you read my comments- i am free to post what I want on whatevet article and whoevers comment. And stick to facts.

Mucho ,

"The bit I watched ".
Honestly, I am so tired of people who comment on things they know nothing about. Everything you say is wrong, because you are speaking from a position of total ignorance, because you haven't watched the films.
Watch 1 to 3. Watch 22 and 23 ALL THE WAY THROUGH, not skimming. Then comment. Every inaccurate comment you make is covered in detail. Honestly it's no wonder we're so fucked.

From 2005 after one google search, time spent on this, 10 seconds:
"While Yona was developed in partnership with one of Intel's California centers, the 65nm microprocessor product is the first to be developed in its entirety, both the architecture and strategy, by Intel engineers at its Israel plants in Haifa and Yakum. "
https://www.israel21c.org/intels-new-chip-design-developed-in-israel/

You know zilch, you understand nothing, you make assumptions, you don't watch or read the material, and then in your total ignorance, you spew your feeble thoughts on this forum. Moron

Mucho ,

You define the phrase "ignorant Brit"

Dungroanin ,

Mucho since you FAILED instantly in your promise to ignore me – i will respond to your toy throwing out of the parambulator.

First just telling people to WATCH something without explaining what the salient point to be learnt – is not the way to influence or educate.

I prefer reading an argument- I definitely do not spend hours watching TV or listening to propaganda by msm / indy or 'shock jocks' – that last was the personality I saw and didn't feel the need to hear anymore as I don't when Nigel Farage and his ilk do on the radio here.

If you want to inform or prove something to me or anyone else kindly post a link to a written piece.

Second, chips are designed eveywhere there is such competence. Chip manufacturing mainly improved theough research in top universities.
The UK was a lead chip designer too.

None of that means the Israelis haven't monopolosed tech and own many patents. The fact is the Israelis ARE part of the 5+1 eyed world Empire – they are the plus one. Snowdens whistleblowing makes absolutely clear that the +1 gets a higher clearance than the +4.

That's as nice as I am prepared to be, so finally, that last paragraph is what is known as PROJECTION. Look it up and learn that it comes from your fav bogeymen brainfuckers.

That is some serious self-hate you have going on – work on it.

Take it easy ok?

Mucho ,

Number 23 is totally relevant too, going deep into chips, backdooring and kill switch usage

Koba ,

So the mocking of maga is what set you off? Fuck maga and it's idiot supporters great nations don't slaughter civilians for capital

bevin ,

Has this link been cited?
https://thewallwillfall.org/2020/01/19/important-douma-opcw-update-from-prof-piers-robinson/

norman wisdom ,

chris morris is very funny has a fine body of twisted comedick works
for all his charm his role is too destroy society degrade
he is khazar after all

sacha baron co hen the names speaks for itself an empty cruel tool
never trust a coen cohen khan or cowen or co they cookoo

eliot mcfuck higgins is not oirish
he is not certainly related to snooker loopy or is it darts i cannot remember hero alex higgins.

eliot"s dad is rita katz from site intel group amaq news
his mom barbera lerner spector
or is it vice versa
versa vice
whatever
shirley you

get my the friends of the oirish israel drift
so to speaks
or sum such

Mucho ,

Brilliant, insightful, logical hypothesis of the recent plane downing over Iran by Jeremy Rothe Kushel. Ignore the video, this is about the written article.

The Prime Suspect in Ukrainian PS752 Shootdown: Israel's Unit 8200
https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/10/ps752/

Mucho ,

For further info about Israeli tech domination, what it is, where it comes from and the implications of this, go to Brendon O Connell's YT channel. Number 22 in his list is very important.

Mucho ,

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel is a very important member of the truth community, in no small part due to the fact that he is an Ashkenazi Jew. My personal belief is that in the end, the Jewish community will play a pivotal role in weeding out the evil that rules over us. I wish we didn't have these labels, that we could have true freedom to play our chosen role in our God created realm, but at this stage in the game, we're stuck with our divide and rule labels and systems of control.
Jeremy's style is to the point, he has great depth of knowledge, an encyclopedic knowledge of his field and is a highly astute commentator. He presents a lot of complex information in fairly easy to digest chunks with his co-host, Greg McCarron, on their show "The Antedote" on YT, as well as doing a lot of guerilla style activism in US politics. Highly recommended.

norman wisdom ,

i met elliot many years ago
the chap on the 8 year old lap top above
we called him fat face down the synagogue ohh how we laughed
he laughed as well everytime someone said it
such fun
are rabbi one day organised a trip and lecture tour of chatham house the belly of the beast.
we learnt all about how tough regime change was and how difficult it is to do on a bbc size budget.

what we learnt was that having are people everywhere really helped
scripted up to speed influencer roles in media in public on track on page working cog like.
a kind of khazar collective non semites only for security reasons of course.
we could work from a very low pound dollar and shekels base and still be very effective.

never under estimate the benjamins or elliots it is folks like this that are the real hero of the oded yinon
yes sir
already my life
fat face eliot boy done good

and like all khazar he hates the sephardim jewisher and the unclean arab which is shirley a bonus is it not

George Mc ,

First off, if folks haven't a clue who Harold Shipman is, you're not going to get far with Titus Oats. At the most they might think it's a character from Gormenghast.

Second, I initially misread the article and thought that the figure from the 17th century actually WAS Higgins of Bellingcat. And if that seems an absurd assumption to make, even temporarily, it doesn't seem much more absurd than some of the stuff he says e.g.

I had no knowledge beyond what I'd learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo.

The point has been raised that there are psyops perpetrated with a malicious sense of humour as if to say, "These suckers will swallow anything". Higgins with his "education" from Arnold and Rambo may be an example of one of those jokes.

Third, and to end on an optimistic note, I like the 17th century sentencing and recommend we bring it back:

and he was whipped and placed in the pillory.

Dungroanin ,

Admin – a suggestion on keeping recent articles available from the top of the page.

Problem: As you add new aricles at top left the ones on the very right drop away! Almost as if being binned into a memory hole.

Solution: allow a scroll at the right hand edge so that these older links are easily available to readers. Only a minor coding change without any change to your front page.

Tallis Marsh ,

I concur! I'm sure many of us will appreciate a scroll on the right hand edge so we can access the older articles. Thanks in advance, OffG!

Oliver ,

HM Armed Forces operations in Syria follow the doctrine of Major General Sir Frank Kitson who learnt his stuff in Kenya in the 1950s. Murder, torture, rape the staples of the British military's modern terrorist ability. NATO doctrine too.

Joe ,

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0oLfNr4JjeI?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

BigB ,

This is an important article: one of the few that dares to express that Douma et al are not mere false flags they a darkly psychotic form of 'snuff propaganda porn' (including the recycling and rearanging of 'props' that were until recently animate human souls with a lifetime of possibility abnegated for ideology). The Working Group on Syria is part of a small counter-narrative subset – along with Sister Agnes Mariam, Vanessa Beeley, RT (on occasion), UK Column, The Indicter, Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli – who are willing to state plainly that this is child murder. Now I wholeheartedly commend Kevin that we should name and shame the culprits and their supporters.

"No, I think it is time for plainer, no-holds-barred language describing these people for the true evil they are – until the truth and label sticks."

I had a similar epiphany in early 2016. The barbaric of murder of starved and thirsty children at Rashidin – Syrian innocence lured by much needed sweets and drinks only to be blown apart in front of their mothers. Anyone who supports the White Helmets terrorist construct and their NATO-proxy child-murderers needs to be exposed. But what if that trail of exposure leads back to the leader of the Labour party: who had just personally endorsed the charity funding of the White Helmets? And continued to support the Jo Cox Foundation of Syrian humanitarian bombers and R2P interventionists? Which itself is a front for the dark money web of 'philanthrocapitalism' that is the shadow support network for regime change crimes against humanity. This is when righteous indignation meets the dark wall of silence around the social construction of reality. Especially if you put Jeremy Corbyn in the frame.

What this means is the ability to frame dark actors for the true evil they are has to be a two-way flow. Meaning is created across networks, not just by naming but by naming and agreeing across narrative communities. Again, this is not abstruse: it is social reality. Social reality is not reality: it is a consensual constructivism. Significant numbers of others have to be in a position of consensual agreement in order to challenge the dominant narrative(s). So I echo the sentiment that many can see that the dominant narrative – especially concerning Syria – is deeply flawed. But they are as yet unwilling to admit that the depth of the flaw is in fact a tear in social reality that cannot be easily healed.

This is the aspect of social reality called 'universe maintenance'. Doxa is the reality constructing belief set – the episteme of interacting beliefs. The narrative has two main aspects: ortho-doxa and hetero-doxa – the orthodox maintaining and heterodox subverting discourses. In order to truly subvert the hegemonic orthodoxy – there has to be a social moment of criticality when the heterodox is no longer deniable. To reach that point: the intrajecting true has to be believable to the hegemonic orthodoxy. Now we have a third mode: para-doxa when the true 'state of affairs' is not believable – it is easily rejected as paradoxical to the reigning consensus covenant of the true. This is universe maintaining: whereby the the totality of the dominant discourse actually subsumes or repels any paradox as a half-truth or ameliorated, disarmed less-than-true ('conspiracy theory'). This is known as 'recuperation'. Anything that meets the dominant discourse has to be explained in the terms of the dominant discourse accommodative and recommending itself to the dominant discourse. Which then becomes a part of the dominant universe of discourse.

A moment of the true is like a barb to a bubble. It has to be contained and wrapped in narrative that describes and explains it into a consumable form. The full realisation of the propagandic child murder in Syria – tacitly supported by the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn in particular – would destroy the symbolic universe of social reality. Of which it is my personal experience no one really wants to do. The correlations, direct and indirect links, and universally maintained orthodoxy of narrative discourse point to an accomodation. An explanation or multivariate set of explanations that problem shift and ascribe blame to imaginary actors. To deflect or defend the personal self. Because the personal self is independently situated outside the social sphere. Or is it?

Seeing the real event as it happens requires the perspicacity of social inclusion. We all create social reality together: with our without layers of dualising exclusion that protects us from the way the world really is. Who would vote to legitimise the supporters of NATO and the child-murderers of Syria? 31 million legitimising independent social actors just did. Do you suppose they did so in full knowledge that it is child-murder they were supporting? Or did they create universe maintaining accommodations to the truth? That is how powerful the screening discourses and legitimising orthodoxic narrative mythology is. It is not that it cannot be subverted: its just that calling out the true evil has to be heard in unison by large or social small assemblages willing to totally change everything – including themselves. In order to transition to a different social reality one that accommodates the truth. One which will look nothing like the social reality we choose to maintain as is.

Francis Lee ,

My first attempt didn't get through. Herewith second.

It seems to me that the internal affairs of the Russian Federation, although they may have some impact on external geopolitical issues, are a matter for them. At the present time the relevant question regarding the RF is as follows: Question 1. Is Russia a revionist state intent on an expansionist foreign policy? Answer NO. But it is not going to tolerate NATO expansion into its own strategic zones, namely, Ukraine, Georgia and the North Caucusas. Question 2. Is the Anglo-Zionist empire in open of pursuit of a world empire intent on destroying any sovereign state – including first and foremost Russia – which stands in its way? Answer YES. This really is so blatant that anyone who is ethnically challenged should seek psychiatric help. In Polls conducted around the world the US is always cited as the most dangerous enemy of world peace, including in the US itself. Thus a small influential (unfortunately deranged) cabal based in the west has insinuated its way into the institutions of power and poses a real and present danger to world peace.

This being the case it is imperative to push all and any 'normal' western governments and shape public opinion and discourse (except the nut-jobs like Poland and the Baltics) into diplomacy. Wind down NATO just as the Warsaw Pact was wound down. that will do for starters. Of course the PTB in all the western institutions – the media (whores) the deep state, the Atlantic Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House the Arms merchants, the security services GCHQ, the CIA, Mossad and the rest will oppose this with all the power at their command. This is the present primary site of struggle, mainly propagandistic, cultural and economic, but with overtones of kinetic warfare.

Similar diplomatic initiatives must be directed at China. Yes, I know all about China's social credit policy, I don't particularly like the idea of 24 hour system of surveillance, and I wouldn't want to live there, but is already a virtual fait accompli in the west. Again it bears repeating that sovereign states should be left to their own devices. After all 'States have neither permanent friends of allies, only permanent interests. (Lord Palmerston, 19 century British Statesman). No more 'humanitarian interventions' thank you very much. How about Mind our own Business non-interventions.

I make no apologies for being a foreign policy realist – if that hasn't become apparent by this stage!

BigB ,

Francis:

The Russian Federation is involved is strategic partnership with China in consolidating the Eurasian 'supercontinent' into the world island. One which is slowly being drawn together into a massive market covering 70% of the world's population, 75% of energy resources, and 70% of GDP. I'd call that expansionist, wouldn't you?

Market mechanisms and methodology are exponentially expansionist, extractivist, and extrapolative. Market propaganda is free and equal exchange coupled with mutual development through comparative advantage. Everyone benefits, right?

No: markets operate as vast surplus value extractors that only operate unequally to deliver maximum competitive advantage to the suprasovereign core. Surplus value valorises surplus capital which cannot be contained in a single domestic market: so it seeks to exploit underdeveloped foreign markets setting up dependencies and peripheries in the satellite states. Which keeps them maldeveloped. In short: Russia and China's wealth is not just their own.

Russia and China are globalisation now. Globalist exponential expansionism, extractivism, and extrapolation is the repression of humanism and destruction of the biosphere. It can't stop growing in the cancer stage of hyper-capitalism. We are currently consuming every resource at a material throughput increase of 3% per annum year on year. That's a 23 year exponential doubling of material resources. And a 46 year doubling of the doubling. How long before globalisation uses everything? How far into the race to the bottom will the market collapse?

It would be really nice to return to a Westphalian System of non-expansionist, non-extractivist sovereign nation states. It is just not even plausible under market mechanisms of extraction. There can be no material decoupling and development remains contingent on an impossible infinity: because development remains parallel and assymetrically maintained. And all major resources are depleting exponentially too. Including the nominative renewable and sustainable ones.

Degrowth; self-sufficiency; localised 'anti-fragility', steady-state; asymmetric development of the marginalised and the peripheralised; regenerative agroecological agriculture; human development not abstract market development; are just some of the pre-requisites of a return to sovereign states. Russia 'sovereigntist' globalisation is the expansionist opposite to that. The RF is part of the biggest market in the world that hoovers up as much surplus value as it can before sending a large tranche of it to London. As much as $25bn a year in capital flight into the offshore nexus of secrecy jurisdictions. It's a globalist expansionist market mechanism that hoovers all vitality out of the life-ground. That: I call expansionist and imperialist of which Russia and China are now the major part.

Francis Lee ,

"The Russian Federation is involved is strategic partnership with China in consolidating the Eurasian 'supercontinent' into the world island. One which is slowly being drawn together into a massive market covering 70% of the world's population, 75% of energy resources, and 70% of GDP. I'd call that expansionist, wouldn't you?"

No, I wouldn't actually. Building roads, rail connections and other trade routes doesn't strike me as imperial expansion. No-one is being forced to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or into reconfiguring their internal political and economic structures, as the US does in Latin America or as the British did in India and Southern Africa. (East India Company and the British British South Africa Chartered Company). The SCO is a voluntary arrangement. Uzbekistan for example has decided not to join the central Asian Eurasian Economic Union – well that's its prerogative. No-one is going to send any gun-boats to force them. (I am aware that Uzbekistan is a landlocked country, but I was talking figuratively.)

The EEU's genesis has along with the SCO and BRI has been forced upon the China/Russia axis as part of an emerging counter-hegemonic alliance against the US's imperial aggrandisement with its kowtowing vassals in tow. Russia has no claims on any of its neighbours since it is already endowed with ample land and mineral deposits. China is a key part of this essentially geopolitical bloc quite simply because the US imperial hegemon is determined to stop China's development by all means necessary including the dragooning of contiguous military bases in US proxy states around China's maritime borders.

A distinction should be made between rampant imperialism of the Anglo-zi0nist empire, and the response of an increasingly bloc of states who find both their sovereignty and even their existence threatened by the imperial juggernaut. What exactly did you expect them to do given the hostility and destructive intent of the Empire? Defence against imperialism is not imperialism. The defence of autonomy and sovereignty of international society and the creation of an anti-hegemonic have the potential to finally create a transformative new world order (and goodness knows we need one) announced at the end of the Cold War in 1991. This ambition finds support not only in Russia and China but in other countries ready to align with them, but also in many western countries. I obviously need to put the question again. Who is and who is not the greatest threat to world peace? Surely to pose the question is to answer it.

Dungroanin ,

Agree Francis.
There is a move to suggest that the Old Empire retains a 'maritime' world and the SCO confines itself to the Eurasian land mass.
Dream on.
The Empire is DEAD. Long live the new Empire!

BigB ,

Who is the greatest threat to world peace and to the world itself? We are. The global carbon consumption/pollution bourgeoisie. It is the global expansionist mindset that is increasing its demands for growth – as the only solution to social problems, maldevelopment, and maldistribution caused by excessive growth. Supply has to be met by exponentially expanding markets. Whether this is voluntaristic or coerced makes very little difference to the market cancer subsuming the globe. Benign or aggressive forms of cancer are still cancer. And the net effect is the same.

Russia and China – the 'East' – uphold exactly the same corporate model of global governance that the 'West' does. Which has been made clear in every joint communique – especially BRICS communiques. I have made the case – following Professor Patrick Bond – that BRICS in particular (a literal Goldman Sachs globalist marketing ploy) – are sub-imperial, not anti-imperial. All their major institutions are dollar denominated for loans; BRI finance is in dollars; BRICS re-capitalised the IMF; Contingency Reserve Arrangements come with an IMF neoliberalising structural adjustment policy; etc. It is the same model East and West. One is merely the pseudo-benign extension of the other. The alternative to neoliberal globalisation is neoliberal globalisation. This became radiantly clear at SPIEF 2019: TINA there is no alternative.

The perceived alternative is the reproduction of neoliberalism – which has long been think-tanked and obvious – and its transformation from 'globalisation 3.0' to 'globalisation 4.0' trade in goods and services, with the emphasis on a transition to high-speed interconnectivity and decoupled service economies. Something like the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM)? With a sovereigntist and social inclusivity compact. So the neoliberal leopard can change its spots?

No. Whilst your argument is sound and well constructed: it is reliant on the early 20th century Leninist definition of 'imperialism' as a purely militarist phenomena. Imperialism mutated since then – from military to financial (which are not necessarily exclusive sets) – and is set to metastasise again into 'green imperialism' of man over man (and it is an andrarchic principle) and man (culture) over nature. Here your argument falls down to an ecological and bio-materialist critique. Cancer is extractivist and expansionist wherever it grows.

Russia is the fourth largest primary energy consumer on the planet. Disregarding hydro – which is not truly ecological – it has a 1% renewable penetration. It is a hydrocarbon behemoth set to grow the only way it knows how – consuming more hydrocarbons. They cannot go 'green': no one can. And a with a global ecological footprint of 3.3 planets per capita, per annum, this is not sustainable. Now or ever.

So a distinction needs to be made between the old rampant neoliberal globalisation model (3.0) – the Anglo-Zionist imperialist model – and the emergent neoliberal globalisation model (4.0) of Russia/China's rampant ecological imperialism? And a further distinction needs to be made about what humanity has to do to survive this distinction between aggressive and quasi-benign cancer forms. Because we will be just as dead, just as quick if we cannot even identify the underlying cancer we are all suffering from.

Koba ,

Big B sit down ultra! China and Russia rent empires and have no desire to be! If you're a left winger you're another poor example of one and more than likely a Trotskyist

Richard Le Sarc ,

Love the nickname, Josef.

Louis Proyect ,

This is because if a chemical attack did not take place and Assad was not responsible it seems highly likely that the civilians including children were murdered to facilitate a fabrication.

And were our own intelligence agencies involved in a staged event, considering the refusal to even establish the basic facts in the days following?

-- -

This is the sort of conclusion you must come to if you are into Islamophobic conspiracy theories. The notion that this kind of slaughter took place to "facilitate" a false flag is analogous to the 9/11 conspiracism that was on display here a while back and that manifested itself through the inclusion of NYU 9/11 Truther Mark Crispin Miller on Tim Hayward's Assadist propaganda team.

Sad, really.

Harry Stotle ,

Go on Louis, remind us about the 'terrorist passport' miraculously found at the foot of the collapsed tower with a page coveniently left open displaying a 'Tora Bora' stamp – I kove that bit.

I mean who, apart from half the worlds scientific community is not totally convinced by such compelling evidence, especially when allied to the re-writing of the laws of physics in order to rationlise the ludicrous 2 planes 3 towers conspiracy theory?

Next you'll be telling us it was necessary for the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq for reasons few American'srecall beyond the neocon fantasy contructed on 11th Septemember, 2001.

Dave Hansell ,

It's clear to a blind man on a galloping horse from this comment of yours Mr Proyect that concepts such as objective evidence, logical and rational deduction, the scientific method etc are beyond your ken.

Faced with the facts of a collapsing narrative of obvious bullshit and lies you have bought into, which you are incapable of facing up to, it is unsurprising that you are reduced to such puerile school playground level deflections.

So come on, try getting out of the gutter and upping your game. Because this fare is nothing short of sad and pathetic.

We know from the evidence of those who actually know their arse from their elbow on these matters that the claims of an attack using chemical weapons on this site are unsustainable.

Which leaves the issue of the bodies at the site. Given they did not lose their lives as a result of the unscientific bullshit explanation you desperately and clearly want to be the case the question is how did those civilians lose their lives? How did their corpses find their way to that location?

Did Assad and his "regime" murder them and move the bodies to that site (over which they had no control) in order to create a false flag event to get themselves falsely accused of an NBC attack Louis? Because that's the only reasonable and rational deduction one can imply from your argument and approach.

It is certainly more reasoned, rational and in keeping with the scientific method (you might want to try it sometime) to surmise that the bodies on site, having not been the result of the claimed and unsustainable narrative you have naively committed to, either died on site from some other cause or were brought to the site for the purpose of creating your fantasy narrative.

In the latter case it is further a matter of rational and reasoned deduction that such an occurrence could only be carried it in circumstances in which whoever carried it out had actual, effective and physical control of a geographical location and area situated within a wider conflict zone.

Again, it remains a piece of factual reality that this location was not under the control of the Assad 'regime.' Not least because otherwise there would be no logical or rational military reason for the de facto Syrian Government and it's armed forces to waste resources attacking it.

Unless of course he buys I to the conspiracy theory and hat they somehow organised a false flag implicating themselves?

I'm sure everyone else here in the reality based community is waiting with bated breath for you to 'explain' how they did this Louis.

I know I am. I could do with a good laugh.

George Mc ,

This is the sort of conclusion you must come to if you are into Islamophobic conspiracy theories.

Umm – the assumption that Muslims DIDN'T do it is "Islamophobic"? Even on your own terms you're not making much sense these days, Louis.

lundiel ,

There was little doubt that British special forces were captured in Eastern Ghouta when the SAA prevented an all out attack on Damascus. European precursors and British munitions were uncovered along with factories within the tunnel complex, itself a product of western engineering and slave labour. This was no propaganda, evidence was collected, statements were taken and everything was documented. Douma was a direct follow-on from that failure and yet, you refuse the evidence piling up, but accept testimony of journalists based in Jordan and Turkey? The "conspiracy" is wholly yours Louis and you are guilty of malicious intent, false representation and pretending to be a "Marxist" when you are a Zionist neocon.

lundiel ,

Hi I'm Louis an unrepentant Marxist and I willfully refuse to use block-quotes.

Richard Le Sarc ,

More proyectile vomitus in defence of child-murdering salafist vermin. How low can this creature descend?

Louis Proyect ,

Richard, such abusive language only indicates your inability to discuss the matter at hand. In general, a detached sarcasm works much better in polemics. You need to read Lenin to see how it is done. I should add that I am referring to V.I. Lenin, not John Lenin who wrote "Crippled Inside".

Richard Le Sarc ,

You defended the salafist butchers with lies, proyectile-do you not even comprehend your own sewage? Or did someone else write it and you just appended your paw-print?

Dave Hansell ,

Apologies here. There is an open goal and the ball needs to be put in the back of the net:

Seems that Louis here is well ahead of the curve in terms of Fukuyama's well known observation about the end of history.

For Louise history, in terms of the progress and development of human knowledge, stopped around a century ago with whatever Lenin wrote.

But that's what happens to those who only read one book.

Sad really.

Dungroanin ,

You come across more as Yaxley – Lenin mr Tommy Proyect – but he is a MI5 stooge unlike you cough cough.

Koba ,

Lenin hates Trotsky! Trotsky was a power mad maniac who wanted a permanent war state to somehow spread his specific brand of "ahem" socialism, which won't win you friends! "Hi yeah sorry we killed your family in a war we started to save you but yippee Trotsky is now in charge so stop complaining"! You're just a bunch of liars the trots

Maggie ,

learn to use the internet which has the information you need to learn the truth:

Acting out a chemical attack?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/o63VnLJpwuc?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Jimmy Dore hits the nail every time!!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FLRQSfSKoJo?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Didn't you just love George Carlin, identifies just what the problem is with dicks like Proyect.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KLODGhEyLvk?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Maggie ,

Here's another Jimmy Dore Vid from 2017
Watch and learn

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MnSAB4qeDug?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Koba ,

Maggie don't take jimmy bore as some truth teller he's a bland progressive with revolutionary slogans like proyect! He also has a habit of equating Stalin with Hitler in that god awful nasal accent of his

Richard Le Sarc ,

Thems White Helmets is always so neat and tidy. Their mammies must have insisted that they always look their best.

paul ,

The British taxpayer funded head choppers and throat slitters in Syria routinely committed massacres and filmed their victims. The resulting footage was passed off by tame media hacks as "evidence" of regime atrocities.

Koba ,

Death to the Trotskyists
Fuck proyect your name calling says it all!
Islamophobes indeed?! What an idiot

Harry Stotle ,

The alternative media, and a smattering of truth tellers are locked in an asymmetrical information-war with the establishment – with an all too obvious 'David & Goliath' sort of dynamic underlying it.

The question asked at the heart of this article is how to break the vice like grip information managers hold over various geopolitical narratives, referencing events in Douma in particular.

Alnost reflexively 9/11 comes to mind – a fairly unambiguous example of mass murder for which the official account does not withstand even the most cursory form of scrutiny.
Professionals even went so far as to purger themselves while the investigating committee admitted they were 'set up to fail' (to quote its chairman).

Yet the public, instead of shredding Bush, limb from limb (for the lies that were told) rolled onto their back while the neoncons tickled their collective belly as you might do with a particulalrly adorable puppy,
So if we can't even get to the bottom of events in the middle of New York what realistic chance of doing so in a hostile war zone like Douma?

On balance racism, together with other forms of collective loathing is the most likely reason why this unsatisfactory state of affairs is unlikely to change.

A collective 'them and us' mindset makes it far easier for information managers to manipulate a visceral hatred and fear of 'the other'.
Today it is Qasem Soleimani westerners are taugyt to despise, yesterday it was Bashar al-Assad, before that Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Nicolás Maduro . the list just goes on and on.
Information managers simply wind the public up so that collective anger can be directed toward governments or individuals they are trying to bring down – recent history tells us that the public are largely oblivious to this process, so thus never learn from their mistakes.

Perhaps one thing western leaders, and the US in particular can always rely on, is the ease with which the public can be persuaded to believe that certain bogeymen pose a grave threat to 'our way of life' while failing to notice that it is in fact our own leaders who are carrying out the worst atrocities.

harry law ,

Harry Stotle, .."Perhaps one thing western leaders, and the US in particular can always rely on, is the ease with which the public can be persuaded to believe that certain bogeymen pose a grave threat to 'our way of life'. That's true Hermann Goring had it about right with this quote
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

[Jan 24, 2020] One real Trump crime about which DemoRats are afraid to talk: OPCW Investigator testifies at UN that no Chemical Attack Took Place in Douma, Syria

Notable quotes:
"... Video and a transcript of former OPCW engineer and dissenter Ian Henderson's UN testimony appears at the end of this report. ..."
"... Video of the session follows at the bottom of this article, along with a full transcript of Henderson's testimony ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Ian Henderson's testimony begins at 57:30 in this official UN video ..."
Jan 24, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

by Ben Norton / January 23rd, 2020

Video and a transcript of former OPCW engineer and dissenter Ian Henderson's UN testimony appears at the end of this report.

A former lead investigator from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has spoken out at the United Nations, stating in no uncertain terms that the scientific evidence suggests there was no gas attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

The dissenter, Ian Henderson, worked for 12 years at the international watchdog organization, serving as an inspection team leader and engineering expert. Among his most consequential jobs was assisting the international body's fact-finding mission (FFM) on the ground in Douma.

He told a UN Security Council session convened on January 20 by Russia's delegation that OPCW management had rejected his group's scientific research, dismissed the team, and produced another report that totally contradicted their initial findings.

"We had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred," Henderson said, referring to the FFM team in Douma.

The former OPCW inspector added that he had compiled evidence through months of research that "provided further support for the view that there had not been a chemical attack."

Western airstrikes based on unsubstantiated allegations by foreign-backed jihadists

Foreign-backed Islamist militants and the Western government-funded regime-change influence operation known as the White Helmets accused the Syrian government of dropping gas cylinders and killing dozens of people in the city of Douma on April 7, 2018. Damascus rejected the accusation, claiming the incident was staged by the insurgents.

At the time, Douma was controlled by the extremist Salafi-jihadist militia Jaysh al-Islam , which was created and funded by Saudi Arabia and formerly allied with Syria's powerful al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra .

The governments of the United States, Britain, and France responded to the allegations of a chemical attack by launching airstrikes against the Syrian government on April 14. The military assault was illegal under international law, as the countries did not have UN authorization.

Numerous OPCW whistleblowers and leaks challenge Western government claims

In May 2019, an internal OPCW engineering assessment was leaked to the public. The document, authored by Ian Henderson, said the "dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders" in Douma "were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder having been delivered from an aircraft," adding that there is "a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft."

After reviewing the leaked report, MIT professor emeritus of Science, Technology and International Security Theodore Postol told The Grayzone, "The evidence is overwhelming that the gas attacks were staged." Postol also accused OPCW leadership of overseeing "compromised reporting" and ignoring scientific evidence .

In November, a second OPCW whistleblower came forward and accused the organization's leadership of suppressing countervailing evidence , under pressure by three US government officials .

WikiLeaks has published numerous internal emails from the OPCW that reveal allegations that the body's management staff doctored the Douma report.

As the evidence of internal suppression grew, the OPCW's first director-general, José Bustani, decided to speak out. "The convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had," Bustani stated.

"I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing," the former OPCW head concluded.

OPCW whistleblower testimony at UN Security Council meeting on Douma

On January 20, 2020, Ian Henderson delivered his first in-person testimony, alleging suppression by OPCW leadership. He spoke at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on the fact-finding mission report on Douma.

( Video of the session follows at the bottom of this article, along with a full transcript of Henderson's testimony .)

China's mission to the UN invited Ian Henderson to testify in person at the Security Council session. Henderson said in his testimony that he had planned to attend, but was unable to get a visa waiver from the US government. (The Trump administration has repeatedly blocked access to the UN for representatives from countries that do not kowtow to its interests, turning UN visas into a political weapon in blatant violation of the international body's headquarters agreement .)

Henderson told the Security Council in a pre-recorded video message that he was not the only OPCW inspector to question the leadership's treatment of the Douma investigation.

"My concern, which was shared by a number of other inspectors, relates to the subsequent management lockdown and the practices in the later analysis and compilation of a final report," Henderson explained.

Soon after the alleged incident in Douma in April 2018, the OPCW FFM team had deployed to the ground to carry out an investigation, which it noted included environmental samples, interviews with witnesses, and data collection.

In July 2018, the FFM published its interim report , stating that it found no evidence of chemical weapons use in Douma. ("The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties," the report indicated.)

"By the time of release of the interim report in July 2018, our understanding was that we had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred," Henderson told the Security Council.

After this inspection that led to the interim report, however, Henderson said the OPCW leadership decided to create a new team, "the so-called FFM core team, which essentially resulted in the dismissal of all of the inspectors who had been on the team deployed to locations in Douma and had been following up with their findings and analysis."

Then in March 2019, this new OPCW team released a final report, in which it claimed that chemical weapons had been used in Douma.

"The findings in the final FFM report were contradictory, were a complete turnaround with what the team had understood collectively during and after the Douma deployments," Henderson remarked at the UN session.

"The report did not make clear what new findings, facts, information, data, or analysis in the fields of witness testimony, toxicology studies, chemical analysis, and engineering, and/or ballistic studies had resulted in the complete turn-around in the situation from what was understood by the majority of the team, and the entire Douma [FFM] team, in July 2018," Henderson stated.

The former OPCW expert added, "I had followed up with a further six months of engineering and ballistic studies into these cylinders, the result of which had provided further support for the view that there had not been a chemical attack."

via @ BenjaminNorton

A former OPCW inspection team leader and engineering expert told the UN Security Council that their investigation in Douma, Syria suggested no chemical attack took place. But their findings were suppressed and reversed

Read more here: https://t.co/HI028MZl0k

via @BenjaminNorton pic.twitter.com/rmaSzWzs5Z

-- The Grayzone (@TheGrayzoneNews) January 22, 2020

US government pressure on the OPCW

The US government responded to this historic testimony at the UN session by attacking Russia, which sponsored the Arria-Formula meeting.

Acting US representative Cherith Norman Chalet praised the OPCW, aggressively condemned the "Assad regime," and told the UN that the "United States is proud to support the vital, life-saving work of the White Helmets" – a US and UK-backed organization that collaborated extensively with ISIS and al-Qaeda and have been involved in numerous executions in Syrian territory occupied by Islamist extremists .

The US government has a long history of pressuring and manipulating the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the George W. Bush administration threatened José Bustani, the first director of the OPCW, and pressured him to resign.

In 2002, as the Bush White House was preparing to wage a war on Iraq, Bustani made an agreement with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein that would have permitted OPCW inspectors to come to the country unannounced for weapons investigations. This infuriated the US government.

Then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton told Bustani in 2002 that US Vice President Dick " Cheney wants you out ." Bolton threatened the OPCW director-general, stating, "You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don't comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you We know where your kids live."

Attacking the credibility of Ian Henderson

While OPCW managers have kept curiously silent amid the scandal over their Douma report, an interventionist media outlet called Bellingcat has functioned as an outsourced press shop, aggressively defending the official narrative and attacking its most prominent critics, including Ian Henderson.

Bellingcat is funded by the US government's regime-change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and is part of an initiative bankrolled by the British Foreign Office.

Following Henderson's testimony, Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins tried to besmirch the former OPCW engineer's credibility by implying he was being used by Russia . Until 2019, Higgins worked at the Atlantic Council , a pro-war think tank financed by the American and British governments , as well as by NATO.

Supporters of the OPCW's apparently doctored final report have relied heavily on Bellingcat to try to discredit the whistleblowers and growing leaks. Scientific expert Theodor Postol, who debated Higgins, has noted that Bellingcat "have no scientific credibility at any level." Postol says he even suspects that OPCW management may have relied on Bellingcat's highly dubious claims in its own compromised reporting.

Higgins has no expertise or scientific credentials, and even The New York Times acknowledged in a highly sympathetic piece that "Higgins attributed his skill not to any special knowledge of international conflicts or digital data, but to the hours he had spent playing video games, which, he said, gave him the idea that any mystery can be cracked."

In his testimony before the UN Security Council, Ian Henderson stressed that he was speaking out in line with his duties as a scientific expert.

Henderson said he does not even like the term whistleblower and would not use it to describe himself, because, "I'm a former OPCW specialist who has concerns in an area, and I consider this a legitimate and appropriate forum to explain again these concerns."

Russia's UN representative added that Moscow had also invited the OPCW director-general and representatives of the organization's Technical Secretariat, but they chose not to participate in the session.

Video of the UN Security Council session on the OPCW's Douma report

Ian Henderson's testimony begins at 57:30 in this official UN video :

https://www.un.org/webcast/1362235914001/B1J3DDQJf_default/index.html?videoId=6125087582001

Transcript: Testimony by OPCW whistleblower Ian Henderson at the UN Security Council

"My name is Ian Henderson. I'm a former OPCW inspection team leader, having served for about 12 years. I heard about this meeting and I was invited by the minister, councilor of the Chinese mission to the UN. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances around my ESTA visa waiver status, I was not able to travel. I thus submitted a written statement, to which I will now add a short introduction.

I need to point out at the outset that I'm not a whistleblower; I don't like that term. I'm a former OPCW specialist who has concerns in an area, and I consider this a legitimate and appropriate forum to explain again these concerns.

Secondly, I must point out that I hold the OPCW in the highest regard, as well as the professionalism of the staff members who work there. The organization is not broken; I must stress that. However, the concern I have does relate to some specific management practices in certain sensitive missions.

The concern, of course, relates to the FFM investigation into the alleged chemical attack on the 7th of April in Douma, in Syria. My concern, which was shared by a number of other inspectors, relates to the subsequent management lockdown and the practices in the later analysis and compilation of a final report.

There were two teams deployed; one team, which I joined shortly after the start of field deployments, was to Douma in Syria; the other team deployed to country X.

The main concern relates to the announcement in July 2018 of a new concept, the so-called FFM core team, which essentially resulted in the dismissal of all of the inspectors who had been on the team deployed to locations in Douma and had been following up with their findings and analysis.

The findings in the final FFM report were contradictory, were a complete turnaround with what the team had understood collectively during and after the Douma deployments. And by the time of release of the interim report in July 2018, our understanding was that we had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred.

What the final FFM report does not make clear, and thus does not reflect the views of the team members who deployed to Douma -- in which case I really can only speak for myself at this stage -- the report did not make clear what new findings, facts, information, data, or analysis in the fields of witness testimony, toxicology studies, chemical analysis, and engineering, and/or ballistic studies had resulted in the complete turn-around in the situation from what was understood by the majority of the team, and the entire Douma team, in July 2018.

In my case, I had followed up with a further six months of engineering and ballistic studies into these cylinders, the result of which had provided further support for the view that there had not been a chemical attack.

This needs to be properly resolved, we believe through the rigors of science and engineering. In my situation, it's not a political debate. I'm very aware that there is a political debate surrounding this.

Perhaps a closing comment from my side is that I was also the inspection team leader who developed and launched the inspections, the highly intrusive inspections, of the Barzah SSRC facility, just outside Damascus. And I did the inspections and wrote the reports for the two inspections prior to, and the inspection after the chemical facility, or the laboratory complex at Barzah SSRC, had been destroyed by the missile strike.

That, however, is another story altogether, and I shall now close. Thank you."

• Article first published in The Grayzone

Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @ BenjaminNorton . Read other articles by Ben , or visit Ben's website .

This article was posted on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020 at 12:37pm and is filed under Chemical weapons , Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) , Syria , United Nations , WikiLeaks .

[Jan 22, 2020] Journalism as the last escape of mathematically illiterates

Jan 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Jan 22 2020 12:30 utc | 95

@ Russ | Jan 22 2020 8:33 utc | 86 (about the gas cylinder(s).

Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus can tell you, give you, a range of terminal velocities in air at that elevation. You have to assume that the thing fell in the "best" attitude, and also the "worst" attitude - a matter of aerodynamic drag. Obviously there's a terminal velocity - somewhere about 200 feet per second. There's a minimum altitude above which it doesn't fall any faster because of drag...and it has a krappy drag coefficient. You have to work with the numbers to get a fine understanding...but it's the sort of question you'd see in a university engineering exam.

The mass is assumed to be something like 100 pounds. Do the math.

Then there's the question of concrete quality...it's highly heterogeneous..but you can assume it's top quality, and estimate the rebar density and thickness from the pretty pictures.

And you can assume zero projectile deformation (not even straps torn off!!?) and the hole's not big enough.

The story's bull.

William Gruff , Jan 22 2020 13:48 utc | 98

somebody @96: "But Western main stream media does not report on it."

Of course not. The western corporate mass media does not have among their workforce "Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus..." that Walter @95 points out as being a prerequisite to see how bogus is the narrative they are tasked with amplifying. The workforce chose to major in Journalism specifically because they had difficulties with basic arithmetic, with such heartless and unyielding topics as addition and subtraction being forever beyond them in the absence of a calculator.

Many think I exaggerate or am joking, but this is literal truth. These individuals of which the corporate mass media are composed get their conception of physics from crappy syfy movies in which spaceship blasters make "Pew-pew!!" noises in the vacuum of space. If it is necessary for the plot that a flimsy canister is able to punch through steel rebar reinforced concrete with barely a scratch, then they are fine with it. If these new age journalists' "contact" in Langley (what we know to be their "handler" or "operator" ) says it is believable, they won't pause for an instant to question.

After all, earnest delusion and ignorance serves the Mockingbird mass media's handlers in the CIA far better than does cynical and deliberate deception, though that last does have a sizable role to play as well. Deliberate deception is difficult and requires some skill, while any American can do stupidity with the greatest of ease.

[Jan 21, 2020] Wikipedia is fine for non-political info. For political information it is CIApedia

Jan 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

NoOneYouKnow , Jan 21 2020 18:50 utc | 34

Wikipedia is fine for unimportant info. I hope anyone who relies on it for serious subjects reads this: https://medium.com/@helen.buyniski/wikipedia-rotten-to-the-core-dcc435781c45
Also, in the penultimate sentence of Nebenzia's statement, "shelled" should be "shelved."

"talk-embed-stream-container"> hootowl 11 hours ago remove Share link Copy The CIA is funded, populated, and controlled by sociopathic dual-staters and drug cartels. They don't give a damn about Americans or real American interests.

17 so-called "Intelligence Agencies" are an existential threat, a clear and present danger to what remains of our constitutional freedoms and prosperity.

Who the hell can possibly control 17 intelligence agencies run by sociopaths and corrupt politicians (is that redundant)?

hootowl 11 hours ago remove Share link Copy The CIA is funded, populated, and controlled by sociopathic dual-staters and drug cartels. They don't give a damn about Americans or real American interests.

17 so-called "Intelligence Agencies" are an existential threat, a clear and present danger to what remains of our constitutional freedoms and prosperity.

Who the hell can possibly control 17 intelligence agencies run by sociopaths and corrupt politicians (is that redundant)?

/div

[Jan 21, 2020] BBC faces existential threat. In the 21st century, it has nobody left to lie to -- RT Op-ed

Jan 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.

Whoever replaces outgoing BBC Director General Tony Hall, be sure that establishment interests will be in safe hands. But multiple scandals the broadcaster has been involved in damaged it quite possibly beyond repair.

... ... ...

Corbyn had to be destroyed at almost ANY cost. Their news and current affairs output (and appointments) over the Corbyn era of 2015-2019 was as crude, and crudely effective, as any screaming, screeching Rupert Murdoch tabloid. Perhaps they were worried the ghost of Sir Alasdair Milne would return to haunt them in the form of his son Seumas Milne, Corbyn's director of communications and strategy and right-hand man. The junior Milne – also Winchester and Oxford – is a considerably harder nut to crack than anyone the BBC had ever had to deal with before

[Jan 21, 2020] HBO hires 'king of fake news' Brian Stelter from CNN to produce documentary on the dangers of fake news

Notable quotes:
"... "disinformation and the cost of fake news." ..."
"... "how post-truth culture has become an increasingly dangerous part of the global information environment," ..."
"... To say Stelter's involvement in the documentary attracted mockery online would be an understatement. "This is like Harvey Weinstein doing a documentary on sexual assault," lawyer and journalist Rogan O'Handley wrote. ..."
"... "HBO has hired Brian Stelter to do a documentary on Fake News. That's like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach accounting. Like hiring Michael Moore to host a fashion show. Not to mention [Stelter] is the dullest human ever on television," ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

If you were making a documentary on fake news and wanted to get journalists involved behind the scenes, there are a few people you may want to avoid. One of those is CNN host Brian Stelter. The HBO network is rightly being mocked for putting Stelter – the host of a CNN show ironically named 'Reliable Sources' – on the team for an upcoming documentary on fake news.

According to Stelter himself, the documentary will investigate "disinformation and the cost of fake news." The film, for which Stelter was executive producer, will dive into "how post-truth culture has become an increasingly dangerous part of the global information environment," according to WarnerMedia.

HBO just announced something I've been working on for a couple of years: A documentary titled "AFTER TRUTH: DISINFORMATION AND THE COST OF FAKE NEWS." The film will premiere on TV and online this March. Directed by @a_rossi !

-- Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 15, 2020

To say Stelter's involvement in the documentary attracted mockery online would be an understatement. "This is like Harvey Weinstein doing a documentary on sexual assault," lawyer and journalist Rogan O'Handley wrote.

"HBO has hired Brian Stelter to do a documentary on Fake News. That's like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach accounting. Like hiring Michael Moore to host a fashion show. Not to mention [Stelter] is the dullest human ever on television," radio host Mark Simone added.

[Jan 21, 2020] WaPo columnist endorses all twelve candidates

Highly recommended!
Are WaPo and NYT both encouraging their readerships to split the 'Anybody But Bernie' vote six ways from Super Tuesday? Fantastic!
Jan 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Cassiodorus on Mon, 01/20/2020 - 11:44am Alexandra Petri tells us:

In a break from tradition, I am endorsing all 12 Democratic candidates.

Of course, this is a parody of the NYT's endorsement of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren , trying to encourage the "who cares about policy we want an identity-politics win" vote. Petri's funniest moment is:

One of two things is wrong with America: Either the entire system is broken or is on the verge of breaking, and we need someone to bring about radical, structural change, or -- we don't need that at all! Which is it? Who can say? Certainly not me, and that is why I am telling you now which candidate to vote for.

[Jan 21, 2020] Bernie Sanders Walks Straight Into the Russiagate Trap

Jan 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Daniel Lazare January 20, 2020 © Photo: Wikimedia The New York Times caused a mini-commotion last week with a front-page story suggesting that Russian intelligence had hacked a Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings in order to get dirt on Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win re-election.

But the article was flimsy even by Russiagate standards, and so certain questions inevitably arise. What was it really about? Who's behind it? Who's the real target?

Here's a quick answer. It was about boosting Joe Biden, and its real target was his chief rival, Bernie Sanders. And poor, inept Bernie walked straight into the trap.

The article was flimsy because rather than saying straight out that Russian intelligence hacked Burisma, the company notorious for hiring Biden's son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month job, reporters Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had to rely on unnamed "security experts" to say it for them. While suggesting that the hackers were looking for dirt, they didn't quite say that as well. Instead, they admitted that "it is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for."

So we have no idea what they were up to, if anything at all. But the Times then quoted "experts" to the effect that "the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens – the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment." Since Trump and the Russians are seeking the same information, they must be in cahoots, which is what Democrats have been saying from the moment Trump took office. Given the lack of evidence, this was meaningless as well.

But then came the kicker: two full paragraphs in which a Biden campaign spokesman was permitted to expound on the notion that the Russians hacked Burisma because Biden is the candidate that they and Trump fear the most.

"Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can't beat the vice president," the spokesman, Andrew Bates, said. "Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections."

If Biden is the number-one threat, then Sanders is not, presumably because the Times sees him as soft on Moscow. If so, it means that he could be in for the same neo-McCarthyism that antiwar candidate Tulsi Gabbard encountered last October when Hillary Clinton blasted her as "the favorite of the Russians." Gabbard had the good sense to blast her right back.

"Thank you @Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know – it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine ."

If only Sanders did the same. But instead he put out a statement filled with the usual anti-Russian clichés:

"The 2020 election is likely to be the most consequential election in modern American history, and I am alarmed by new reports that Russia recently hacked into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment trial, as well as Russia's plans to once again meddle in our elections and in our democracy. After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddle in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn [sic] by Donald Trump ."

And so on for another 250 words. Not only did the statement put him in bed with the intelligence agencies, but it makes him party to the big lie that the Kremlin was responsible for putting Trump over the top in 2016.

Let's get one thing straight. Yes, Russian intelligence may have hacked the Democratic National Committee. But cybersecurity was so lax that others may have been rummaging about as well. (CrowdStrike, the company called in to investigate the hack, says it found not one but two cyber-intruders.) Notwithstanding the Mueller report, all the available evidence indicates that Russia did not then pass along thousands of DNC emails that Wikileaks published in July 2016. (Julian Assange's statement six months later that "our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party" remains uncontroverted.) Similarly, there's no evidence that the Kremlin had anything to do with the $45,000 worth of Facebook ads purchased by a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency – Robert Mueller's 2018 indictment of the IRA was completely silent on the subject of a Kremlin connection – and no evidence that the ads, which were politically all over the map, had a remotely significant impact on the 2016 election.

All the rest is a classic CIA disinformation campaign aimed at drumming up anti-Russian hysteria and delegitimizing anyone who fails to go along. And now Bernie Sanders is trying to cover his derrière by hopping on board.

It won't work. Sanders will find himself having to take one loyalty oath after another as the anti-Russia campaign flares anew. But it will never be enough, and he'll only wind up looking tired and weak. Voters will opt for the supposedly more formidable Biden, who will end up as a bug splat on the windshield of Donald Trump's speeding election campaign. With impeachment no longer an issue, he'll be free to behave as dictatorially as he wishes as he settles into his second term.

After inveighing against billionaire's wars, he'll find himself ensnared by the same billionaire war machine. The trouble with Sanders is that he thinks he can win by playing by the rules. But he can't because the rules are stacked against him. He'd know that if his outlook was more radical. His problem is not that he's too much of a socialist. Rather, it's that he's not enough.

[Jan 20, 2020] NYT Editors Hedge Their Bets, Endorse Warren Klobuchar

Fake news are consistent: Klobuchar and not Tulsi ?
Jan 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

...

in what the paper described as a "significant break with convention", the members of its editorial board have selected not one, but two candidates - both of them women.

Its chosen candidates are: Elizabeth Warren, the Republican-turned-progressive who for years posed as a Native American to game America's system of affirmative action - and Amy Klobuchar, the midwestern senator from the great state of Minneapolis with a reputation for being an unhinged dragon-lady boss.

That the NYT selected the two remaining women among the top tier of contenders is hardly a surprise: This is, after all, the same newspaper that kicked off #MeToo by dropping the first expose about Harvey Weinstein's history of abusing, harassing and assaulting women just days before the New Yorker followed up with the first piece from Ronan Farrow.

...After all, if the editors went ahead with their true No. 1 choice, Klobuchar, a candidate who has very little chance of actually capturing the nomination, they would look foolish.


DeePeePDX , 2 hours ago link

NYT is like that ex you dumped that won't stop trying to get your attention with increasingly desperate and pathetic acts.

Griffin , 2 hours ago link

Warren is a much better candidate than Biden is in my view.

Warren seems to get into trouble sometimes for all kinds of reasons like most people do, but the problems are usually trivial, more silly than dangerous. There is tendency in her to stick to her guns even when she does not know what she is doing.

When i run into something unexpected or something that seems to be something i don't understand, i usually backtrack and look at the problem from some distance to see what happened and why before trying to correct or fix the problem, rather than just doing something.

Its not a perfect plan, but it seems to work most of the time.

https://9gag.com/gag/ap5AO19

Someone Else , 2 hours ago link

The tennis shoe I threw away last week is a better candidate than Biden. So that's not saying much.

TheManj , 3 hours ago link

NYT remains a joke. Their endorsement is straight up virtue-signalling.

Here's some reality: Warren's latest antics have cemented her image as dishonest and high-strung. Knoblocker has no charisma and remains practically unknown.

John Hansen , 3 hours ago link

Why are foreign ownedNew York Times allowed to meddle in the election?

Where is the investigation?

pitz , 4 hours ago link

I've personally sat down and talked with Klobuchar. Not a lot of depth of intelligence in her, that's for sure, easily manipulated by lobbyists. Warren, at least, knows what the problem is, although she might have swallowed the proverbial Democratic party "kool aid".

spam filter , 4 hours ago link

Warren is the deep state establishment pick. If you must vote Dem, pick someone that isn't, or one the establishment seems to work against. Better yet, vote Trump, safe bet on gun rights, freedoms.

SheHunter , 5 hours ago link

Here's the link. It is a gd editorial.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/19/opinion/amy-klobuchar-elizabeth-warren-nytimes-endorsement.html

[Jan 19, 2020] Johnson was probably one of the architects of Skripal fake poisoning and now can't admit that this false flag operation failed

Jan 19, 2020 | www.politico.eu

https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-vladimir-putin-uk-russia-relations-still-poisoned/

In a statement , No. 10 Downing Street said: "He was clear there had been no change in the U.K.'s position on Salisbury, which was a reckless use of chemical weapons and a brazen attempt to murder innocent people on U.K. soil. He said that such an attack must not be repeated."

There was no immediate statement by the Kremlin, but Putin has rejected the British allegations as baseless and Russian officials repeatedly demanded that U.K. authorities come forward with hard evidence.

In its statement, No. 10 portrayed Johnson as unbudging in his insistence that Russia end its extra-territorial mischief and said he had reiterated the two countries' responsibilities as world powers.

"The Prime Minister said that they both had a responsibility to address issues of international security including Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran," the statement said. "The Prime Minister said there will be no normalization of our bilateral relationship until Russia ends the destabilizing activity that threatens the U.K. and our allies and undermines the safety of our citizens and our collective security."

Johnson and Putin were in the German capital for an international conference aimed at achieving a cease-fire to end a long-running civil war in Libya.

[Jan 19, 2020] CNN is Trash

Jan 19, 2020 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Then CNN turned to a story that it had reported on just prior to the debate, alleging that Sanders had told Senator Elizabeth Warren that he did not believe a woman could be elected U.S. president. The CNN moderator ignored Sanders' assertions that he had a public record going back decades of stating that a woman could be elected president, that he had stayed out of the race in 2015 until Warren decided not to run, and that in fact he had told Warren no such thing. Then came this exchange:
CNN: So Senator Sanders -- Senator Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you're saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?

SANDERS: That is correct.

CNN: Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?
You don't have to know that you'd be better off with free college and Medicare for All than with yet another war to recognize the bias here.

Many viewers recognized the slant. Many even began to notice the strange double standard in never mentioning the cost of any of the wars, but pounding away on the misleading assertions that healthcare and other human needs cost too much. Here's a question asked by CNN on Tuesday:
" Vice President Biden, does Senator Sanders owe voters a price tag on his health care plan? "

There was even time for this old stand-by bit of name-calling: " Senator Sanders, you call yourself a Democratic Socialist. But more than two-thirds of voters say they are not enthusiastic about voting for a socialist. Doesn't that put your chances of beating Donald Trump at risk? "

So say the people who did so much to elect Donald Trump.
Source, links:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/17/cnn-is-trash/

[Jan 18, 2020] Curbs to Presidential power could be intended to preserve Russia from a West-backed President

Notable quotes:
"... The economic/social model in the neo-liberal West is one of outright parasitism driving ever increasing inequality and elite wealth, which is the expression in real life of the psychopathic elites' INTENSE hatred of others. For Russia to follow China in creating a society of utilitarian concern for ALL the population, of poverty reduction and of social solidarity between all levels of the population, increases the risk of what Chomsky called 'the good example' ..."
"... 'He might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch'. Surely a 'Yeltsin' must replace or join 'Quisling' in the popular lexicon as a title for a traitor, in future. ..."
Jan 18, 2020 | off-guardian.org

The US/NATO/EU bloc is eagerly awaiting the chance to replace Putin with a pro-Western neo-liberal. One who will increase national debt, implement austerity, privatise industry, gut the public sector, and open up Russia to the IMF just like has been done all over the Western world.

Search Jan 18, 2020 15 Russian Reforms: Is Putin planning for his successor? Curbs to Presidential power could be intended to preserve Russia from a West-backed President Kit Knightly Kit Knightly

Last week, after Putin put forward constitutional reforms that would "empower the legislative branch" and his entire government resigned, the Western press (and the West-backed "opposition" in Russia) went on at length about how Putin was preparing to "extend his power", to move to an office "without term limits", or something along those lines.

After years complaining about the amount of power the President of Russia has, the MSM decided that limiting those powers was ALSO bad (or perhaps, never even actually read the speech itself at all).

This isn't deliberate deception on their part, they are just trained animals after all. Criticising Putin is a Pavlovian response to the man saying, or doing absolutely anything.

There's no point in gain-saying it, or analysing it. It is dogs howling at the moon. Instinctive, base and – to a rational mind – entirely meaningless.

Forget what our press says. It is white noise. They have no insight and no interest in acquiring any.

However, even the alternative media are confused on this one. MoA is a good analyst, but he's not sure what's at play here .

.so what IS going on in Russia? Why the constitutional reforms?

Let's take a look at the headline proposals:

Limit the Presidency to a two-term maximum Empower the Duma to appoint the Prime Minister and cabinet, in place of the President Anyone running for President has to have lived in Russia for 25 years Dual-nationals are forbidden from holding public offices

Are these really steps designed centralize the power of the state in an individual? Do they logically support the argument "Putin wants to be in power for life"?

Given that list, I would say "no". I would say, quite the opposite.

The first two points limit the powers of the Presidency, whilst empowering the legislative branch. Why would Putin limit the powers of the President if he intends a third term?

Western "analysts" argue Putin plans to stay on as Prime Minister, but these rule changes don't empower the PM, they only empower the Duma to choose the PM.

If he were going to change the constitution to keep himself in power, why not just scrap term limits? Or increase the Presidental term length?

The third proposed change is interesting – "prevent dual nationals from holding public offices" – is this a way of limiting possible Western interference in Russian politics?

In the days of the Roman Empire, upon conquering a province the Romans would take children of members of the ruling class to back to Rome, to be fostered in Roman families and raised as Romans. Then, when they reached adulthood, the new Romanised Celts or Assyrians or Goths would be sent back to the land of their birth and rule as the province in Rome's name, serving Rome's interests.

The modern Rome, the United States, does exactly the same thing.

Juan Guaido is Venezuela's "acting President". He was educated at Georgetown University in Washington DC . Alexey Navalny is the "leader of the Russian opposition", he was a "world fellow" at Yale .

The US/NATO/EU bloc is eagerly awaiting the chance to replace Putin with a pro-Western neo-liberal. One who will increase national debt, implement austerity, privatise industry, gut the public sector, and open up Russia to the IMF just like has been done all over the Western world.

So: We have rules limiting the power of the office of President, and a rule clearly aimed at making it impossible for a US-backed puppet to be inserted into said office.

Here's where we get into some hardcore speculation:

I think, having done the hard work to fix many of Russia's societal and security-related problems, Putin is seeking to make systemic changes that prevent this work being undone.

I think Putin wants to go – or is at least considering it – and is trying to put rules in place to protect Russia from his possible successors.

To demonstrate my point, we should take a look at the other parts of Putin's speech – the parts no one in the Western press is interested in discussing.

In many ways, it was a speech you could have heard coming out of Jeremy Corbyn's mouth. Laying out a vision of Russia with improved healthcare, free (hot) school meals for all children, internet access for all Russian citizens. (You can read the whole thing here .)

If a British politician made this speech, it would be considered "radical". If an American had done so, they would be called a crazy socialist. But there's more to this than just socialist economic policies.

Here is Putin on pensions:

We have a law on this, but we should formalise this requirement in the Constitution along with the principles of decent pensions, which implies a regular adjustment of pensions according to inflation.

On minimum wage:

Therefore, I believe that the Constitution should include a provision that the minimum wage in Russia must not be below the subsistence minimum of the economically active people.

On local government:

the powers and practical opportunities of the local governments, a body of authority that is closest to the people, can and should be expanded and strengthened.

On the Judiciary:

The country's fundamental law should enshrine and protect the independence of judges, and their subordination only to the Constitution and federal law

On Russian sovereignty:

requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

On Constitutional law:

extending the powers of the Constitutional Court to evaluate not only laws, but also other regulatory legal acts adopted by various authorities at the federal and regional levels for compliance with the Constitution.

Is there a pattern here?

Enshrining economic reforms in the constitution Decentralizing the power for the federal government Legally protecting the independence of the courts Protecting Russian law from international bodies Reviewing future laws to make sure they don't breach the constitution

These could be interpreted as legal backstops. Safeguards on the progress Russia has made under Putin.

We've been over the numbers a lot. There's no need to repeat them. Suffice to say, under Putin Russian life expectancy, income, employment rate and birth rate are up. Violent crime, poverty, alcoholism and debt are down .

Under Yeltsin, Russia was a borderline failed state. Putin pulled them back from that brink.

Yeltsin's 1993 Constitutional Referendum drastically enhanced the powers of the President, he doesn't wield quite as supreme executive power as the office of POTUS, but it's comparable:

The referendum approved the new constitution, which significantly expanded the powers of the president, giving Yeltsin the right to appoint the members of the government, to dismiss the Prime Minister and, in some cases, to dissolve the Duma.

It could be argued Putin has used that power as it was intended – for the benefit of the Russian people. Perhaps he feels he cannot rely on anyone who comes after him to be as diligent.

By disempowering the role of President before he leaves office, he ensures that anyone who follows – be they a US-educated plant, a corrupt billionaire, or a hardline hawkish nationalist – can't undo all the good his administration has accomplished.

Whether or not Putin wants to be in "power for life" is an answer known only to the man himself, but there's nothing to suggest it in this speech, and none of the reforms put forward would appear to help in that regard at all. It looks more like a man securing his legacy.

Perhaps the question becomes not "does Putin want another term?", but rather does Putin even intend to serve all of this one?


Baron ,

(1) What he proposed isn't the final word, the proposals will be debated, (2) the danger of Navalny's getting in even with a strong push by the Americans, or their NGO poodles, is minimal, the greater risk is the communist and their fellow travellers gaining power, (3) the last twenty years have shown Putin may not be the ideal leader, but he's as close to an ideal as the Russians may ever hope to get, his remaining in a position of some power after his Presidency term expires should be a positive for Russia.

Putin infuriates the Western Governing Elites (GEs) because he totally contradicts their progressive, PC, woke agenda and, to make matters worse, his stance resonates with the Western unwashed. That's unforgivable for the GEs, but one hopes he'll continue doing so. Just as our Parliament functions best if the opposition has some muscle, so the world also needs a strong opposition to keep the GEs of the nation of the "exceptional people" in check.

Jen ,

The answer to KK's second question, that is, whether Putin intends to serve out his current term, is that any constitutional reforms such as what he proposed in his speech to the Federal Assembly need time to be discussed, analysed, put to referendum, approved and included in the Constitution. Also a succession plan needs to be in place by 2024 when Putin leaves the Presidency. By then we'll know if Mishustin or anyone else (Rogozhin? Glazyev?) might replace him as President....

richard le sarc ,

The economic/social model in the neo-liberal West is one of outright parasitism driving ever increasing inequality and elite wealth, which is the expression in real life of the psychopathic elites' INTENSE hatred of others. For Russia to follow China in creating a society of utilitarian concern for ALL the population, of poverty reduction and of social solidarity between all levels of the population, increases the risk of what Chomsky called 'the good example', like Cuba has been for sixty years as the rest of the Latin American continent, under US terror, descended into a charnel-house and mass immiseration. So 'Russia delenda est', and Putin is Hannibal, and, thankfully, the rotten cadaver called the 'Home of Free', in a fit of malignant self-delusion, ain't gonna produce no Scipios any time soon. They've been reduced to creating Pompeo Adiposus Minors.

Brianeg ,

...Watching a documentary about poverty and homelessness in America by Deutsche Welle, it is criminal what is going on in that country especially when it seems fit to up the military budget to $750 billion. Surely at some point civil war will come to that country to correct the gross imbalance.

Reading about the strange actions of the liquid magma going on deep underground, you almost wish that nature might intervene and deflect America away from its constant onslaught of war and interference in other countries politics.

RobG ,

Boris Yeltsin, (western installed) Russian President from 1991 to 1999, during which the former Soviet Union was totally plundered

https://www.youtube.com/embed/v9YnDirqwT4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

richard le sarc ,

'He might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch'. Surely a 'Yeltsin' must replace or join 'Quisling' in the popular lexicon as a title for a traitor, in future.

[Jan 18, 2020] Boris Yeltsin, (western installed) Russian President from 1991 to 1999, during which the former Soviet Union was totally plundered

Jan 18, 2020 | off-guardian.org

RobG ,

Boris Yeltsin, (western installed) Russian President from 1991 to 1999, during which the former Soviet Union was totally plundered

https://www.youtube.com/embed/v9YnDirqwT4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

richard le sarc ,

'He might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch'. Surely a 'Yeltsin' must replace or join 'Quisling' in the popular lexicon as a title for a traitor, in future.

[Jan 18, 2020] Trump is following Putin and started grooming his own successor

Jan 18, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Fair dinkum ,

I hear tell that Emperor Trump is also grooming his potential successor/s

It's a neck and neck race between Kim Kardashian, who Trump is giving personal 'hands on' assistance, and Montgomery Burns, who is one of Trump's role models.

[Jan 16, 2020] After Putin: Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly

Jan 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Search Jan 15, 2020 14 TRANSCRIPT: Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly Editor Below is a full (translated) transcript of Vladimir Putin's speech to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday the 15th of January 2020. It is taken from the Kremlin's official website , and presented here for Western audiences who are curious to read it, but aren't likely to be bothered trawling the Kremlin's website looking for it.

Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, fellow Russians,

The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly is delivered at the very beginning of the year for the first time. We need to address large-scale social, economic and technological tasks facing the country more quickly and without delay.

Their content and guidelines are reflected in the national projects, whose implementation will require a new quality of state governance and work on the part of the Government and state bodies at all levels, as well as direct dialogue with citizens.

Our society is clearly calling for change. People want development, and they strive to move forward in their careers and knowledge, in achieving prosperity, and they are ready to assume responsibility for specific work. Quite often, they have better knowledge of what, how and when should be changed where they live and work, that is, in cities, districts, villages and all across the nation.

The pace of change must be expedited every year and produce tangible results in attaining worthy living standards that would be clearly perceived by the people. And, I repeat, they must be actively involved in this process.

Colleagues,

Russia's future and historical perspective depend on how many of us there are (I would like to start the main part of my Address with demography), how many children are born in Russian families in one, five or ten years, on these children's upbringing, on what kind of people they become and what they will do for the country, as well as on the values they choose as their mainstay in life.

There are nearly 147 million of us now. But we have entered a difficult, a very difficult demographic period. The measures we took starting in the mid-2000s have had a positive effect on demography. We have even reached a stage of natural increase. This is why we have more children at schools now.

However, new families are being created now by the small generation of the 1990s. And the birth rate is falling again. This is the main problem of the current demographic period in Russia.

The aggregate birth rate, which is the key index showing the number of births per woman, was only 1.5 in 2019, according to tentative estimates. Is this few or many? It is not enough for our country. It is approximately equal to the figure reported in many European countries. But it is not enough for Russia.

I can tell you by way of comparison that the figure was 1.3 in 1943, during the Great Patriotic War. It was only lower in the 1990s: 1.16 in 1999, lower even than during the Great Patriotic War. There were very few families with two children, and some couples had to put off starting a family.

I want to say once again that we are alarmed by the negative demographic forecasts. It is our historic duty to respond to this challenge. We must not only get out of this demographic trap but ensure a sustainable natural population growth by 2025. The aggregate birth rate must be 1.7 in 2024.

Demography is a sector where universal or parochial solutions cannot be effective. Each step we take and each new law or government programme we adopt must be scrutinised from the viewpoint of our top national priority – the preservation and increase of Russia's population.

As we build a long-term policy to support families, it must be based on specific life situations. We need to look closely at difficulties faced by new families, families with many children or single-parent families.

The most sensitive and crucial issue is the opportunity to enrol one's child in a day nursery. Earlier, we allocated funds from the federal budget to help the regions create 255,000 new places in day nurseries by the end of 2021. However, in 2018 to 2019, instead of 90,000, 78,000 new places were created, out of which only 37,500 places can actually be provided to kids. Other places are unavailable simply because an educational licence is still not obtained. This means that these nurseries are not ready to enrol children.

Governors, heads of other constituent entities, my dear colleagues, this is not how work is done. Come on! It means we have created 77,700 places that are still not fully available. Half of them cannot operate – and we must create 177,300 by 2021. I am asking you to do everything (although it will be very difficult now, however, it needs to be done) to close this gap. Once again, we must work across all areas of family support.

But there is a daunting challenge that directly threatens our demographic future and it is the low income of a significant part of our citizens and families.

According to various estimates, roughly 70 to 80 percent of low-income families are families with children. You are well aware of this. It often happens that even when not one but both parents work, the income of such a family is still very modest.

What decisions have already been made? From January 2020, families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per person will receive monthly benefits for their first and second child. Moreover, these benefits will be paid until the child reaches the age of three rather than 18 months as was the case before. The benefit amount will depend on the subsistence minimum in a specific region. The nationwide average is over 11,000 rubles per child per month. Once again, this is an average and depends on a specific region.

Additionally, with the support of the federal budget we have started paying benefits for the third child and subsequent children in 75 constituent entities, now including all regions in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

All of this amounts to substantial support. But the following thought has crossed my mind, and I believe that you also realise this. Parents stop receiving payments when their child turns three, and this means that their family can immediately face financial problems. To be honest, this is happening already. We must prevent this, especially since I realise that mothers often find it hard to combine working and caring for their children before they start school.

We know from the experience of our own children and grandchildren that they often fall ill. Their mothers are therefore unable to work. In this connection, I suggest we introduce monthly payments for children aged between three and seven starting already from January 1, 2020.

Who will be covered by this measure, and how is it supposed to function?

Families whose incomes do not exceed per-capita subsistence minimum will receive these payments. That is, it concerns families facing a very difficult situation.

To obtain these payments, they will only have to file an application and list their official legal incomes. I would like to note that this procedure must become as convenient and simple as possible, so that people would be able to apply without queuing and clearing hurdles. Or they should do this online on the relevant state website.

As I have already said, incomes may vary from region to region. First stage payments will amount to 5,500 rubles, or 50 percent of the subsistence minimum. But that is not all. We will have to analyse and assess the operation of this system. And we will take the next step, if we see that some families are unable to achieve the subsistence minimum while receiving 5,500 rubles. From 2021, we will pay the subsistence minimum in full, or over 11,000 rubles, that will vary from region to region. I repeat, the specific sums will vary, but on average it will amount to 11,000 rubles per child per month.

We will need substantial resources for implementing the proposed measure, and we will also have to adjust the federal budget. I ask the Government and members of the Parliament to do this as quickly as possible. The regions should also complete their share of regulatory work.

What else should we do equally quickly?

In my Address last year I said that we should expand the system of social contracts. It should become an individual programme whereby every low-income family will be able to increase their income and enhance their quality of life. Under these contracts, the state will make regular payments to such families, finance retraining and advanced training and help them to find employment or start a small business.

While providing comprehensive assistance to low-income people, society and the state have a right to expect them to take steps as well to deal with their problems, including finding employment and taking a responsible attitude to their children and other family members.

The regions are already introducing the mechanism of social contracts. But it is not sufficiently effective yet, and it is not helping much to fight poverty or to increase family incomes.

Therefore, first of all I would like to ask the Government to analyse the experience of the pilot projects and revise the principles of social contracts. Second, we must increase financial assistance to the regions so that all of them introduce this mechanism in 2021.

I would like all our colleagues, including the regional heads, to note that we will assess their performance not by the number of social contracts signed but by poverty decline figures.

Colleagues,

Back in 2006, I said the following in my Address to the Federal Assembly: "And now for the most important matter. Indeed, what I want to talk about is love." It was then that I proposed launching the maternity capital programme aimed at helping the families that decided to have their second child.

This programme will expire on December 31, 2021. I know than many people wonder what the state will do after that. We will extend this programme to December 31, 2026 at the least. We must do this without fail. But this measure only is no longer enough.

We must support young people who are starting their families and, I am sure, dreaming about having children. In this sense, I would like to introduce new, additional decisions concerning the maternity capital, which should also come into effect on January 1, 2020.

Even when the first child is born, the family will have the right to the full amount of the maternity capital, which is 466,617 rubles after the indexation in January 2020. This is the sum that was paid when the second or the next child was born. This support will give families a chance to prepare for the birth of their second child.

But I believe that this is still not enough in today's conditions, considering the demographic challenges Russia is facing. We can and must do even more. I suggest increasing the maternity capital by a further 150,000 rubles. Families will have the right to this additional money for the maternity capital when their second child is born.

This means that the total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will amount to 616,617 rubles. It will be indexed annually in the future.

At the same time I believe that if a family already has a child, we must provide the new, increased maternity capital when the second child is born, which is, as I have already said, 616,617 rubles.

Let me add that we have already made the decision that when the third child is born, the government pays 450,000 rubles towards the family's mortgage loan. This means that overall a family with three children will be able to invest over one million rubles to solve their housing problems with the help of the government. In many regions, cities, and even regional capitals this amounts to almost half of the cost of a house or a flat.

Let me also remind you that a reduced mortgage interest rate, six percent per year, for families with two or more children has been extended for the entire time of the loan, which resulted in the number of people using this support measure growing almost 10-fold at once.

A social programme for young families has been launched in the Far East: mortgage loans at 2 percent interest rate. I ask the banks, and not just the banks with state capital, to become more actively involved in its implementation.

And here is another highly important matter. I have already mentioned a new payment for children aged between three and seven. But this is not all that we can and must do. Yes, when children start attending school, their parents, especially mothers, get more opportunities to work and earn an additional income. However, families have to pay more in order to send their children to school, they face extra problems, and we have to support them at that stage. In this connection, I suggest providing free hot meals to all primary school students from grade one through four.

I will not conceal the fact that we have had heated discussions on this subject. On the whole, some colleagues do not object, but they say that it would not be very fair that people with decent incomes and low incomes should receive the same amount of support from the state. They are not saying this because they do not want to support the children. Indeed, this argument has its own logic. But there is another logic that prevails in our society: everyone must have equal opportunities, and children and their parents who are often demeaned by the current situation must not think that they are even unable to feed their children.

I believe that this is very important for our society. Yes, they tell me that these benefits were not available even during the Soviet period, when there was large-scale social support for the people. But there was no great social stratification at that time either. I believe that this measure will be justified.

In order to provide free hot and, most importantly, healthy meals, I suggest channelling funding from three sources: the federal, regional and local budgets. But money is not the only thing that matters. We need to create the required infrastructure at schools, set up cafeterias and lunchrooms and put in place a system for supplying high-quality food. I would like to note that this was not done even during Soviet times, as I have already said. This, of course, will require time. But free hot meals must be provided starting from September 1, 2020 in those regions and schools that have the required level of technical equipment. I ask our colleagues to expedite this work. Primary school students must start receiving high-quality hot meals free of charge in all regions from September 1, 2023.

So colleagues, here is the point I want to make, in short. I would like to emphasise – all the steps we are taking are aimed at creating a streamlined, large-scale and, most importantly, an effectively working family support programme, so that people's incomes, especially for those raising children, are high enough for a decent life.

Secondly, what I said at the beginning of the Address: the steps that we took in previous years in the field of demographic development have already brought results. They have yielded results back then: a large generation is growing up in Russia. I am referring to children who are in preschool and primary school now. It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country.

Colleagues,

Supporting families and family values ​​is always a forward-looking strategy addressing the generations that are to live in an age of tremendous technological and social changes, and something that will determine Russia's fate in the 21st century. So, to have these new generations participate in creating this future even now, to have them fully reveal their potential, we must create the necessary conditions for them, primarily for every child in every region of Russia to get a good education.

In the middle of the coming decade, Russia will have about 19 million schoolchildren, which is 6 million more than in 2010. Some say it is too difficult to influence objective demographic processes, so it is unadvisable to channel large resources for demographic development. However, in reality, we can see direct evidence of the opposite: family support policies are working, and sometimes their results even exceed our wildest expectations. It is great that there are so many children in our schools again. On the other hand, this situation should not affect the comfort and quality of their learning.

I ask the Government to coordinate with the regions, consider the demographic and other factors, estimate how many more children the schools need to serve, and make the necessary changes to the Education National Project. That will require flexible solutions: not only to build more schools, but also to efficiently use the entire educational and other infrastructure we have for these purposes, as well as the benefits of modern technology for education.

Almost all schools in Russia have internet access now. In 2021, they should no longer just be connected, but have high-speed internet access to fully embrace the digital transformation in national education; teachers and students should have access to advanced educational programmes; individual approach to teaching should be practiced to reveal each child's talents.

Our network of extracurricular technology and engineering centres is developing dynamically. Our children should also benefit from a modern environment for practicing music, art, and other forms of creativity.

Russia is allocating more than 8 billion rubles for equipment and musical instruments for children's art schools as part of the Culture National Project. But the problem is much wider. More than 1,000 art school premises are dilapidated and not fit for use as intended. I would like to ask the Government to help the regions improve them. And I ask the regional authorities not to forget that this is their responsibility.

Furthermore, a modern school implies forward-looking teaching staff enjoying high social status and prestige. By the middle of the next decade, the national professional advancement system should canvas at least half of the country's teachers, in the future including additional professional training, along with general education workers.

Class teachers are closest to their pupils. Their ongoing daily work including mentoring children and teaching them the right ways is a huge responsibility, and definitely requires special training and special support for these mentors. In this regard, I consider it necessary to introduce, from September 1, at least 5,000 rubles in additional payment to them financed from the federal budget.

There is a lot of controversy about this decision, because this is actually the responsibility of the regions. Those present in this room are well aware of this. But what is a class teacher? A mentor and supervisor, and those are federal functions.

But, of course, I would like to point this out: all current regional payments to class teachers should continue, colleagues; I am calling your attention to this. And I will definitely look at what will be happening in practice, in real life.

I pointed out more than once that the pay parameters for teachers, doctors and other public sector employees set out in the May 2012 Executive Orders must be strictly complied with. There is a reason why I keep returning to this subject. If we slacken control of this matter, this will create the temptation to neglect these provisions, as many of those present here know. This must not be allowed. I would like to emphasise that the issue concerns professionals working in the spheres of vital significance for society and the country, and they must receive good and fair pay for their work.

The number of school graduates will be increasing in the next few years. In light of this, we must ensure equal and fair access to free intramural university education. Therefore, I suggest that the number of university scholarships be increased every year. Moreover – what I am going to say next is very important, the priority in this matter must be given to regional universities, especially the regions that are lacking doctors, teachers and engineers.

Of course, we must not simply enrol more students but boost the development of regional universities with support from businesses and employers. In particular, we must strengthen their training, research and social infrastructure, as well as improve the system of training and advanced training of teachers for regional universities so that students receive up-to-date knowledge and can have successful careers in their regions.

The employment market is changing rapidly, with new professions appearing and higher requirements made to the existing ones. Our universities must be able to respond to these changes flexibly and quickly. I believe that third-year students must be offered an opportunity to choose a new path or curriculum, including related professions. This is not easy to do, but we must indeed do this. To ensure that talented and decent people play a major or leading role in our national development, we have launched the Russia – Land of Opportunity project. Over 3.5 million people have taken part in its competitions and Olympiads. We will continue to improve this system.

Colleagues,

Last year life expectancy in Russia exceeded 73 years for the first time, which is eight years longer than in 2000. This is the result of social and economic changes in Russia, the development of mass sports and promotion of healthy lifestyles. And, of course, the entire healthcare system made a significant contribution, especially the programmes of specialised, including high-tech aid, as well as maternity and childhood welfare and protection of health of mother and child.

The rate of infant mortality has reached a historic low. This indicator is even better than in some European countries. I am well aware that the public in many developed countries is very critical of the state of their national healthcare system, and you also know this. In fact, almost everywhere – no, everywhere – people criticise their healthcare system, however well organised it looks from here.

Still our achievements in this area show that if we set certain goals, we can achieve results. However, let me repeat this, people do not judge the healthcare system by figures and indicators. A person who has to travel dozens of kilometres to a polyclinic or spend a whole day waiting in line for an appointment with a specialist is not very interested in how life expectancy has grown on the average. People think about their lives, their health, about how to get high-quality and timely medical aid without obstacles and when they need it. This is why now we must focus our efforts on primary care, which all people and all families have to deal with. This is where we have the worst and most sensitive problems.

This year we are to fully complete the creation of a network of rural paramedic centres, as stipulated in the related national project. This does not mean, however, that all the problems of these rural paramedic centres have been settled. I would like to point out that the mission of these centres is not to make out prescriptions or refer patients to regional medical centres. Local specialists must be able to really help people by using modern equipment and high-speed internet. I would like to ask the Russian Popular Front to monitor the provision of equipment, construction and repair of rural paramedic centres.

On July 1 we will also launch a programme to modernise the system of primary healthcare. We will have to repair and provide new equipment to outpatient clinics, rural hospitals and first-aid stations in all our regions. We have allocated an additional 550 billion rubles for this purpose, more than 90 percent of which will come from the federal budget.

At the same time, I ask the regional authorities to find additional funds for providing housing to doctors and paramedics, in particular in villages, settlements and small towns, and to use all the available instruments towards this end, including employer-rented housing and private housing projects.

Training and recruitment are key elements of medical education. By 2024, all levels of healthcare, but first of all the primary healthcare level, must have the necessary number of specialists. In this connection, I suggest that the admission procedure to medical universities be changed significantly. For example, 70 percent of scholarships in the field of general medicine and 75 percent in paediatrics will be awarded to prospective students who will return to their native regions upon graduation. The quotas will be distributed based on requests filed by the regions, which must subsequently provide employment to the graduates who must be able to work where people need their services.

As for residency training, I suggest that almost 100 percent of scholarships be given to medical graduates in critically important spheres. Priority during enrolment will be given to those with practical experience in the field of primary healthcare, especially in rural areas. This system should be also stipulated for federal medical centres.

And lastly, just as we agreed, a new system of remuneration will be gradually introduced in healthcare starting this year. It is based on clear, fair and understandable rules, with a fixed share of salary in the overall income and a uniform list of compensation payments and commercial incentives for all regions.

I am aware that the implementation of all these goals requires extensive resources. If you go back to where I started, every goal needs a great deal of money. In this regard, I ask the Government to once again consider identifying priorities for our development while retaining the budget's stability. This is an advantage we have achieved in the past few years, and we must maintain it.

I know that last year a number of regions saw a disruption in medication supplies as the regions' purchases were not made, with certain officials treating it as if it were some sort of office supplies purchases claiming it was not a big deal and new tenders would be announced. But people were left without essential and vitally important medications. I should point out that such cases must never happen again.

This year, efforts will be made to launch an integrated comprehensive register of recipients of medications that are provided to citizens free of charge or with a considerable discount through a federal or regional subsidy to avoid any confusion in this regard in the future.

Also, certain legislative decisions have already been adopted that will allow for official and centralised imports of certain medications to Russia that are yet to receive regulatory approval. I ask the Government to promptly organise this work so that people, particularly the parents of sick children, do not find themselves in a desperate situation when they cannot legally find the necessary medications.

Control over pharmaceutical drugs will also significantly change. It will be tightened both at pharmaceutical companies and during all stages of medication circulation, including at pharmacy networks.

Colleagues,

In recent years, we have focused on strengthening macroeconomic sustainability, and it is something I just mentioned. The federal budget has had a surplus again. Our government reserves confidently cover our gross external debt. And here I am not talking about some abstract or theoretical indicators – I would like to emphasise that these figures are directly influencing the life of each and every person in our country, and have to do with the fulfilment of our social commitments. We can see the problems, even shocks that citizens of other states face, where government had no such cash cushion and their financial position turned out to be unstable.

The consistent work of the Government and the Bank of Russia has led to a stabilisation of prices. Last year, inflation stood at 3 percent, which is below the target level of 4 percent. True, the prices of certain goods and services have risen slightly, but overall, I repeat, inflation is at a predictably low level. The situation fundamentally differs from what it was five or ten years ago, when double-digit inflation was a tax on all citizens of the country, being an especially hard burden for those on a fixed salary or pension – retired people and workers in the public sector.

Now, relying on a stable macroeconomic foundation, we need to create conditions for a substantial increase in people's real incomes. Again, this is the most important responsibility of the Government and the Central Bank. To meet it, the national economy needs structural changes and higher efficiency. In 2021, Russia's GDP growth rates should be higher than the global ones.

To have this kind of dynamics, it is necessary to launch a new investment cycle, to seriously increase investment in the creation and upgrading of jobs, in infrastructure, in the development of industry, agriculture and the services sector. Starting this year, annual investment growth should be at least 5 percent, and investment share in the country's GDP, 25 percent by 2024 from the current 21 percent.

What needs to be done to encourage investment?

First of all, we agreed not to change the tax treatment for businesses over a period of the next six years and thus provide a wider horizon for investment planning. The deputies and the Government should speed up the adoption of a package of draft laws on protecting and promoting investment. As you are well aware, tax treatment for major important projects should remain unchanged for up to 20 years, and the requirements and standards for building production sites should remain the same for three years. These investor guarantees should become standard law.

Of course, in addition to major projects, small- and medium-sized businesses' initiatives should be supported as well. Today, the regions are entitled to provide an investment-based tax deduction and a three-year revenue tax break, but they rarely use them. It is clear why: they do so because regional budgets thus lose revenue. In this regard, we would like federal funds to compensate the regions for two-thirds of the lost revenue stemming from the use of an investment-related tax deduction.

Second, the reform of the oversight and supervisory activities must be completed in 2020, and businesses should thus see improvements in their operating environment.

Third, I have already submitted to the State Duma the amendments to remove vague criminal law provisions in part related to so-called frauds. Thus, entrepreneurs have repeatedly mentioned Article 210 of the Criminal Code, under which any company whose senior executives violated the law could qualify as an organised criminal group, meaning that almost all of its employees were liable. Tougher restrictive measures and punishment were put in place. Law enforcement agencies will henceforth be required to prove that an organisation or a company was initially deliberately created with an illegal purpose in mind.

Fourth. It is estimated that as soon as this summer the foreign currency reserves of the National Welfare Fund will pass the mark of 7 percent of GDP. We have accumulated these reserves to guarantee our stability and security, which means we can invest our additional revenue in development and the national economy.

Cost-effective projects that remove infrastructure restrictions for our territories must become our priority. This includes bypass roads for big cities, arterial roads between regional capitals and exit roads to federal motorways. These projects will inevitably bring about the growth of small businesses, tourism and social activity in the regions and locally.

Fifth. For investment to grow steadily, our economy needs long-term money. We all know this very well. This is a direct responsibility of the Central Bank. I appreciate its consistent course for making loans for the real sector of economy more accessible.

Of course, businesses, companies (especially large ones) must remember about their social and environmental responsibility. I would like to thank our parliament members for demonstrating integrity during their work on the emission quota law.

Obviously, it is necessary to act upon our plans faster. Our next steps include testing and implementing the air quality monitoring system and subsequently expanding this control system to cover the entire country. It is necessary to monitor not only the condition of air but also water and soil – that is, to develop a comprehensive environmental monitoring system.

Next. By the end of this year, at least 80 out of the 300 largest industrial facilities must complete the transition to best available technology and obtain complex environmental permits, which means a consistent reduction of hazardous emissions. Sixteen permits have been issued as of now but overall this work is on schedule. No matter what, we must not allow any disruptions here. It is necessary to drastically cut the amount of waste ending up in landfills, implement waste sorting and generally move towards the circular economy. By 2021, we must already launch the mechanism of extended producer responsibility when producers and importers of goods and packaging are responsible for recycling costs. To put it simply, contaminators must pay.

Colleagues,

I would like to stress that Russia is ready to support Russian and foreign scientists' joint research on ecology, climate change, environmental and ocean pollution. These are global development challenges shared by everyone.

Today the speed of technological change in the world is increasing manifold, and we must create our own technologies and standards in areas that define our future, such as, first of all, artificial intelligence, genetics, new materials, energy sources and digital technology. I am confident that we can reach a breakthrough here, as we did in defence. I will speak about this later.

In order to solve difficult technological tasks, we will continue to develop research infrastructure, including megascience-class facilities. I am sure that an opportunity to work with unique equipment and tackle the most ambitious tasks will encourage talented young people to work in science. This is already happening. According to estimates, by the middle of the decade every second scientist in Russia will be under 40.

We should give researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs the freedom they need to do their work and to conduct innovative scientific research. I ask the Government and State Duma deputies to fast-track the discussion of the technological legislative package. This year we must launch a flexible mechanism of experimental legal modes to design and introduce new technologies in Russia and establish up-to-date regulation of the big data turnover.

Next, we should establish a mechanism of social support for direct and venture finance tools based on the best global practices. The technological entrepreneur should have the right to take a risk, so that failing to implement an idea will not automatically mean inappropriate use of funds and a possible criminal prosecution. I mean that we should establish such legal and financial conditions that as many start-ups and pioneer teams as possible could become strong and successful innovative companies.

We need to support the export of high-tech products and, of course, to boost domestic demand for innovative products. In this context, I believe it would be right to fast-track the digital transformation of the real economy. A requirement should be set that national projects are largely carried out using domestic software.

We have already put in place, say, major digital television infrastructure, which, in terms of its technical characteristics, is one of the most advanced in the world. Currently, the digital television coverage in Russia is more expanded than, for example, in France, Austria or Switzerland.

The internet has become a must-have for people today. Russia is one of few countries in the world which has its own social networks, messengers, e-mail and search engines and other national resources.

Given all the things I've just mentioned, I suggest that the Affordable Internet project be developed and carried out and that free access to socially important domestic internet services be available across Russia. I repeat that in this case people will not have to pay for the internet service, for internet traffic.

Colleagues,

The high availability of the internet should become Russia's and our citizens' competitive advantage and create, across the board, an environment conducive to education, creative work, communications and the implementation of social and cultural projects. Of course, this means new opportunities for people to get involved in the life of the country. We appreciate every creative initiative of our citizens, public associations, non-profit organisations, as well as their willingness to contribute to national development.

It is very important that the volunteer movement is becoming more popular, and it unites schoolchildren, university students, and people of different generations and ages. The Victory Volunteers project embodies the tradition of mutual assistance and respect for older generations and our history.

This year, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. For Russia, May 9 is the greatest and sacred holiday. We are proud of the generation of victors and honour their feat, and our memory is not only a tribute to our heroic past, but it also serves our future, inspires us and strengthens our unity.

It is our duty to defend the truth about the Victory; otherwise what shall we say to our children if a lie, like a disease, spreads all over the world? We must set facts against outrageous lies and attempts to distort history. Russia will create the largest and most complete set of archival documents, film and photo materials on the Second World War, accessible both for our citizens and for the whole world. This work is our duty as a winning country and our responsibility to the future generations.

Colleagues,

We can see how unpredictably, uncontrollably events are developing in the world, what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa literally in recent weeks and recent days, how regional conflicts can rapidly grow into threats to the entire international community.

I am convinced that it is high time for a serious and direct discussion about the basic principles of a stable world order and the most acute problems that humanity is facing. It is necessary to show political will, wisdom and courage. The time demands an awareness of our shared responsibility and real actions.

The founding countries of the United Nations should set an example. It is the five nuclear powers that bear a special responsibility for the conservation and sustainable development of humankind. These five nations should first of all start with measures to remove the prerequisites for a global war and develop updated approaches to ensuring stability on the planet that would fully take into account the political, economic and military aspects of modern international relations.

Russia is ready to enhance cooperation with all interested parties. We are not threatening anyone or seeking to impose our will on anyone. At the same time, I can assure everyone that our efforts to strengthen national security were made in a timely manner and in sufficient volume. For the first time ever – I want to emphasise this – for the first time in the history of nuclear missile weapons, including the Soviet period and modern times, we are not catching up with anyone, but, on the contrary, other leading states have yet to create the weapons that Russia already possesses.

The country's defence capability is ensured for decades to come, but we cannot rest on our laurels and do nothing. We must keep moving forward, carefully observing and analysing the developments in this area across the world, and create next-generation combat systems and complexes. This is what we are doing today.

Reliable security creates the basis for Russia's progressive and peaceful development and allows us to do much more to overcome the most pressing internal challenges, to focus on the economic and social growth of all our regions in the interest of the people, because Russia's greatness is inseparable from dignified life of its every citizen. I see this harmony of a strong power and well-being of the people as a foundation of our future.

Colleagues,

We can move towards this goal only with the active participation of society, our citizens and, of course, intense and productive work of all branches and levels of government, the potential of which should be expanded.

In this regard, I would like to spend a moment discussing state structure and domestic policy, which are defined by the Fundamental Law of our country – the Constitution of the Russian Federation. I keep getting these questions all the time, including at the most recent annual news conference.

Clearly, we cannot but agree with those who say that the Constitution was adopted over 25 years ago amidst a severe internal political crisis and the state of affairs has completely overturned since then. Thank goodness, there is no more armed confrontation in the capital or a hotbed of international terrorism in the North Caucasus.

Despite a number of acute unsolved problems that we talked about today, the socioeconomic situation has stabilised, after all. Today some political public associations are raising the issue of adopting a new Constitution.

I want to answer straight off: I believe there is no need for this. Potential of the 1993 Constitution is far from being exhausted and I hope that pillars of our constitutional system, rights and freedoms will remain the foundation of strong values for the Russian society for decades to come.

In the meantime, statements regarding changes to the Constitution have already been made. And I find it possible to express my view and propose a number of constitutional amendments for discussion, amendments that, in my opinion, are reasonable and important for the further development of Russia as a rule-of-law welfare state where citizens' freedoms and rights, human dignity and wellbeing constitute the highest value.

Firstly, Russia can be and can remain Russia only as a sovereign state. Our nation's sovereignty must be unconditional. We have done a great deal to achieve this. We restored our state's unity. We have overcome the situation when certain powers in the government were essentially usurped by oligarch clans. Russia has returned to international politics as a country whose opinion cannot be ignored.

We created powerful reserves, which multiplies our country's stability and capability to protect its citizens' social rights and the national economy from any attempts of foreign pressure.

I truly believe that it is time to introduce certain changes to our country's main law, changes that will directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal framework.

What does it mean? It means literally the following: requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

Second, I suggest formalising at the constitutional level the obligatory requirements for those who hold positions of critical significance for national security and sovereignty. More precisely, the heads of the constituent entities, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, the prime minister and his/her deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal agencies and judges should have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state.

The goal and mission of state service is to serve the people, and those who enter this path must know that by doing this they inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances.

Requirements must be even stricter for presidential candidates. I suggest formalising a requirement under which presidential candidates must have had permanent residence in Russia for at least 25 years and no foreign citizenship or residence permit and not only during the election campaign but at any time before it too.

I know that people are discussing the constitutional provision under which one person cannot hold the post of the President of the Russian Federation for two successive terms. I do not regard this as a matter of principle, but I nevertheless support and share this view.

I have already said before that our goal is to ensure high living standards and equal opportunities for all throughout the country. It is towards this goal that our national projects and development plans are aimed.

At the same time, you know about the problems to do with education, healthcare and other fields created by a divide between the federal and municipal authorities – I have pointed this out more than once. This divide and, at the same time, the complex system of powers are having a negative effect above all on the people.

The rights, opportunities and guarantees, that are legally equal for all citizens, are not provided equally in different regions and municipalities. This is unfair to people and is directly threatening our society and national integrity.

I believe that the Constitution must seal the principles of a unified system of public authority and effective interaction between the federal and municipal authorities. At the same time, the powers and practical opportunities of the local governments, a body of authority that is closest to the people, can and should be expanded and strengthened.

And lastly, the state must honour its social responsibility under any conditions throughout the country. Therefore, I believe that the Constitution should include a provision that the minimum wage in Russia must not be below the subsistence minimum of the economically active people. We have a law on this, but we should formalise this requirement in the Constitution along with the principles of decent pensions, which implies a regular adjustment of pensions according to inflation.

Fourth, Russia is a huge country, and every region has its specifics, problems and experience. Of course, this must be taken into account. I believe it is necessary to cardinally increase the role of governors in decision-making at the federal level. As you know, back in 2000 the State Council was restored at my initiative, where the heads of all regions participate. Over the past period the State Council has proven its high effectiveness; its working groups provide for the professional, comprehensive and qualified examination of issues that are most important for people and Russia. I believe it would be appropriate to fix the status and role of the State Council in the Russian Constitution.

Fifth, Russian society is becoming more mature, responsible and demanding. Despite the differences in the ways to address their tasks, the main political forces speak from the position of patriotism and reflect the interests of their followers and voters.

At the same time, almost all the parties represented in the State Duma – and you know that I have regular meetings with their leaders – believe that the Federal Assembly is ready to take more responsibility for forming the Government. (Applause.) I expected this round of applause, but I think you will have another opportunity for applause now; please listen until the end.

More responsibility for forming the Government means more responsibility for the Government's policy. I completely agree with this position.

What is the situation like now? In accordance with articles 111 and 112 of the Russian Constitution, the President only receives the consent of the State Duma to appoint the Prime Minister, and then appoints the head of the Cabinet, his deputies and all the ministers. I suggest changing the procedure and allowing the State Duma to appoint the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and then all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers at the Prime Minister's recommendation. At the same time the President will have to appoint them, so he will have no right to turn down the candidates approved by the Parliament. (Applause.)

All of this means drastic changes to the political system. However, let me repeat, considering the maturity of our main political organisations and parties as well as the reputation of civil society, I believe these proposals are justified. This will increase the role and importance of the State Duma and parliamentary parties as well as the independence and responsibility of the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members and make cooperation between the representative and executive branches of government more effective and substantive.

Colleagues,

I would like to emphasise that our country, with its vast territory, complex federal and administrative division and diverse cultural and historical traditions, cannot properly advance and even exist sustainably as a parliamentary republic.

Russia must remain a strong presidential republic. The president must undoubtedly retain the right to determine the Government's tasks and priorities, as well as the right to dismiss the prime minister, his deputies and federal ministers in case of improper execution of duties or due to loss of trust. The president also exercises direct command over the Armed Forces and the entire law enforcement system. In this regard, I believe another step is necessary to provide a greater balance between the branches of power.

In this connection, point six: I propose that the president should appoint heads of all security agencies following consultations with the Federation Council. I believe this approach will make the work of security and law enforcement agencies more transparent and accountable to citizens.

The principle of appointment following consultations can be applied to regional prosecutors as well. Currently they are appointed in coordination with regional legislative assemblies. Colleagues, this may lead to certain, including informal, obligations towards local authorities and ultimately to the risk of losing objectivity and impartiality.

As to the territories' position regarding a prosecutor candidacy in the constituent entities of the Federation, it can be considered during consultations in the Federation Council, which is in fact the chamber of the regions. We cannot have different local legislative systems in different regions; the prosecutor is a supreme authority who exercises control over the execution of laws irrespectively of any regional circumstances.

I am confident that a greater independence of prosecution agencies from local authorities would be beneficial for citizens regardless of the region. Colleagues, let us always be governed by the interests of our people.

And my seventh and final point: the judicial system – the Constitutional and Supreme courts – plays a key role in ensuring legality and citizens' rights. I would like to emphasise, along with judges' professionalism, their credibility should be unconditional as well. Being fair and having a moral right to make decisions that affect people's lives have always been considered of paramount importance in Russia. The country's fundamental law should enshrine and protect the independence of judges, and their subordination only to the Constitution and federal law.

At the same time, I consider it necessary to stipulate in the Constitution the Federation Council's authority to dismiss, on the proposal from the President, Constitutional and Supreme Court judges in the event of misconduct that defames a judge's honour and dignity, as well as in other cases provided for by federal constitutional law, that make it impossible for a person to maintain the status of a judge. This proposal is derived from the established practice. This is something Russia definitely needs today.

Furthermore, to improve the quality of domestic legislation, to reliably protect citizens' interests, I propose strengthening the role of the Constitutional Court, namely: to verify, at the President's request, the constitutionality of draft laws adopted by the Federal Assembly before they are signed by the head of state. We might also think about extending the powers of the Constitutional Court to evaluate not only laws, but also other regulatory legal acts adopted by various authorities at the federal and regional levels for compliance with the Constitution.

Colleagues,

Again, the proposals made today, by no means limit the discussion around possible amendments to the Constitution. I am sure that public associations, parties, regions, the legal community, and Russian citizens will express their ideas. The broadest public discussion is needed. But, opening this discussion, I would like to give it a start in a certain direction, or at least to show what challenges we are facing.

Please, do not forget what happened to our country after 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we still had the same ambitions and of course have preserved the colossal potential – the human, intellectual, resource, territorial, cultural and historical potential, and so on. But there were also threats, dangers of a magnitude no one could have imagined ever before. And that was a pity, as they should have thought about it in due time.

Therefore in our further state building efforts, we are facing seemingly contradictory tasks that serve as a guideline for values and may appear incompatible at first sight. What am I referring to? We must create a solid, reliable and invulnerable system that will be absolutely stable in terms of the external contour and will securely guarantee Russia's independence and sovereignty. At the same time, this system must be organic, flexible and capable of changing quickly in line with what is happening around us, and most importantly, in response to the development of Russian society. This system must ensure the rotation of those who are in power or occupy high positions in other areas. This renewal is indispensable for the progressive evolution of society and stable development that may not be infallible but ensures that the most important thing – Russia's interests ­– remains immutable.

What else do I consider important and would like to emphasise? The amendments that we will discuss do not concern the foundations of the Constitution and, hence, can be approved by Parliament in line with the existing procedure and law through the adoption of relevant constitutional laws.

At the same time, considering that the proposed amendments concern substantial changes in the political system and the work of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, I believe it necessary to hold a vote of Russian citizens on the entire package of the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The final decision must be made only on the basis of its results.

The opinion of people, our citizens as the bearers of sovereignty and the main source of power must be decisive. In the final analysis everything is decided by the people, both today and in the future. I am referring to both the choice of national development strategy and daily issues in each region, city or village. We will be able to build a strong, prosperous and modern Russia only on the basis of unconditional respect for the opinions of the people, the opinions of the nation.

The current year of 2020 is a landmark in many respects. It is a transition to the third decade of the 21st century. Russia is faced with breakthrough historical tasks and everyone's contribution is important for resolving them. Working together we are bound to change our lives for the better. I often mention the word "together" because Russia means all of us. I am referring not to the people present in this hall or rather not only to the people present in this hall but all citizens of this country because I believe that success is determined by our will for creation and development, for the implementation of the most ambitious plans, our labour for the sake of our families and loved ones, our children and their future, and hence, for the sake of Russia's greatness and the dignity of its citizens.

Thank you for your attention.

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Stephen Morrell ,

Putin clearly is the most informed and visionary bourgeois politician in the world today, by a country mile. He not only is attempting to address the very real real social, demographic and economic needs of Russia, in his usual comprehensive manner, but also and cannily is co-opting many of the expectations that the USSR used to fulfil, attempting to neutralise any socialist political sentiments in the Russian population. Putin is the Bismarck of Russia.

richard le sarc ,

Russia's economic situation, within the global capitalist system, with its large reserves, much in gold, no exposure to the toilet paper of US Treasuries, and substantial local self-sufficiency in agriculture (thank-you sanctions)means that when the Western debt Ponzi Himalaya implodes, the Russians will be pretty much immune to the consequences.

BigB ,

Fantastic set of propositions: of which there is nothing comparable – that I know of – in the West.

The problem is that I strongly suspect that no one can see the problem?

Our minds have become so dematerialised, idealised, and ecologically sanitised that I doubt anyone will agree? There are two things we cannot do going forward in the 21st century – exponentially grow the economy and/or exponentially grow the population. We have to degrow both – as compassionately and quickly as possible. We have too many people to sustain with depleting fossil fuels. We could sustain them agroecologically without: but we are not doing that. They may not be in the right places: but if Russia and China both try to correct demographic problems by increasing population the knock on effect is poverty and misery elsewhere.

As for material throughput: Russia's is quite large. In fact, they are the fourth primary energy consumer on the planet. With a pathetic renewables penetration of 3.6% of which only 1% is wind and solar. So good luck with decarbonisation and emissions targets. Which means only one thing: increased GDP is a function of increased hydrocarbon extraction and pollution. Russia faces another problem: its barely cured Dutch Disease a still high correlation of GDP to fossil fuel trading. An exogenous shock to the energy market will hit Russia badly as it did in 2008. They have diversified since then, only not enough.

With other countries set to decarbonise (barely disguised laughter) the overall market for fossil fuels will theoretically decrease which will hit the producers badly. And then there is the depression of global markets and the already extant oil glut. Good plan and beautiful state socialist sentiment only, has anyone got a spare planet?

Increasing hydrocarbon consumption plus all the other material resources allied to an industrial high-speed capitalist economy is another fossil relict. That is, if the ecological rationale is to survive. Growth is not an option. And population growth is irresponsible. What seems like a good state socialist plan falls apart ecologically. Of course, Russia is not isolated – the entire developed world wants to develop more 'sustainably'. Which is a form of insanity from a planetary perspective which too few have.

Consider, all those socialised benefits are equally viable if delinked from exponential GDP growth and thus delinked from exponential fossil fuel consumption. The best parts of socialisation are essentially free including the fucking for Mother Russia! Degrowth, decentralisation, decarbonisation do not mean less socialisation. They are totally dependent on holistic socialisation and cooperative social relations. Which are potentially permanent and truly sustainable with a just transition away from capitalism.

Why grow when it makes you vulnerable to exogenous market shocks? Russia has the resources to be quasi-self-sufficient internal to its own borders. There is no need to trade fossil fuels and prospect for more. We have too much carbon as it is: of which most should remain in the ground as 'unburnable carbon'. And there is definitely no need to make deals with despots and dictators like el-Sisi, Kagame, Museveni – who have murdered conservatively 12 million souls for corporate profit. Who now get their arms from Russia and their troops trained for free. And I could add Netanyahu and Erdogan, despots and murderers in their own right.

It has to start somewhere. Some group of people have to break ecological extinction's stranglehold and demand less. To transition monetised social relations to actual real social relations – independent of exponential fossil fuel extractivism, exponential market expansion, exponential GDP expansion, exponential population expansion (when the correct demographic is reached: will the population debreed?). It's a progressive plan: for the wrong planet at the wrong time.

But we will continue to grow – not degrow – both global economies and populations (with regional variations). Until we can't. When all those contingent and precarious market state socialisms will disappear. When we may live to rue the day we made our plans for social integration market and fossil fuel contingencies. We could have had it all if we were more savvy. If only everyone could see how.

Hugh O'Neill ,

Whilst I understand the gist of your argument (and you could not make it any more understandable, so please don't try) I still hold that the world is a better place because of Putin. With any other leader, the world would have been rendered uninhabitable by the Pentagon crazies. Russia has acted as the essential check on their warped ambitions to rule the Earth. The biggest threat to the planet is the US Military for the amount of oil they burn, the toxins they produce in their chemical warfare, their attempted theft of Ukraine for industrial farming, and their never-ending wars. Imagine if all the monies wasted on wars had gone to peaceful ends and proper support for renewable energy.
On the question of GDP, I would refer only to the speech by Robert Kennedy, in which he totally destroys the whole sordid concept of GDP as being a worthwhile measure of anything.

BigB ,

The world will be rendered uninhabitable by Russian extractivism, ecological expropriation, and human exploitation. Because Russian extractivism is not isolated: the entire globalist system is extractivist. Which is why ecologists use 'dynamic systems theory' to conceive of the emergent planetary 'super-organism' or 'fossil fuel amoeba'. When we isolate a bounded portion of the global extinction system; compare it with other isolated portions, and give it a human face we are invisibilising the ecological roots and genesis of capitalism's 'wealth' – oil and the exponential depletion of resources.

So what do we do when the life-ground of the planet no longer supports life? Celebrate the unequal distribution of rubles, pounds, yuan, and dollars? Or wish we had come to find a greater source of wealth in who we really are, when we are not destroying the planet and extracting surplus value from others less fortunate?

We live in a strange world when we cannot imagine life without capitalism and look beyond to see that the real source of wealth is humanity itself in its completeness. A completeness we will never know because of extractivism, ecological unequal exchange, and our own abdication of our self-alienated powers that make capitalism the taken-for-granted vehicle of extinctionism. If there is to be life after capitalism – and on the planetary scale there will be, though *homo economicus* is technologically fast bent on curtailing its species viability – some provision for systems transition has to be made now. The techno-dream bubble we can grow our way to humanism is about to burst then what?

richard le sarc ,

I agree entirely, but Putin has no alternative. Any chink in his armour and the USA will destroy Russia and break it up into fragments as they did in Yugoslavia, the USSR and wish to do in China. I rather think that Putin knows full well how dire is the global ecological situation, but he needs to balance less enlightened forces at home, and the 'Atlanticist' Quislings.

BigB ,

I don't disagree either: but that is not my point. The Atlanticists are waiting in the wings for another four years. Last time I checked: they still command 80% of Russian private property. And were expropriating $25bn pa annum in capital flight which has slowed slightly in the last few years. I read the Saker too. There is a deadlock and uneasy power sharing arrangement internally. But you may have missed the time when the Saker admitted "Putin is a neoliberal"?

It may be difficult to disentangle our vision from the neoliberal-statist-market ontology we are being repressed by but that is what we must do. We cannot expect neoliberal capitalist social inclusivity to save us from ecological catastrophe. Nor can we expect to grow economically into humanism: when exponential growth is what is destroying any lasting chance of a purely sustainable human-emancipatory freedom. Putin may not have a choice: but we do. The neoliberal-statist-market ontology is globally self-determined to produce total failure as its inevitable and only possible outcome. This is known a 'parametric determinism' when we automatically follow a maladaptive 'rational' self-optimising behaviour pattern long after it failed as it did in 2007. There is no recovery possible, and technology only speeds total failure whilst masking the ecological destruction it is accelerating.

States have to think and act in a pre-determined way that is true. But we do not have to think like that. Not if there is to be any alternative or succession of humanity ex-post the neoliberal-statist-market ontology which is morally, ecologically, humanistically and most importantly *actually* bankrupt at this point.

Do we exit a 350 year process of exponentially disproportionate wealth distribution, deliberate maldevelopment and global dehumanisation with all the wealth in the hands of those who benefited from the expropriation? Or do we attempt a redistribution and develop a new, hitherto unknown (and unknowable under capitalist alienation), value set where everyone globally has equal access to resources and a right to life as a birthright?

The decision is not beyond you or I: but it will take the development of the assessment of capitalism on other than its own neoliberal-statist-market ontological terms. No state or state leader can develop humanity on the path of less-is-more it needs to take but the people can. That's all.

richard le sarc ,

Putin is either a believing neo-liberal, in which case he is part of the problem you identify, or he is using it through necessity. I could not agree more with your diagnosis of the omnicidal nature of capitalism, and the inability of so many to visualise the end of capitalism-they more easily can conceive of the end of humanity. In fact I rather think that that is the way in which the ruling parasites intend to save their own bacon, by allowing the ecological Holocaust to cull the 90% of 'useless eaters' that the ruling elites fear and despise, and who they see only as a threat. Their labour is no longer required in an age of automation, robotisation and computerisation, and even their consumption is today superfluous. The ecological Holocaust has passed numerous tipping-points and points of no return, while the IPCC downplays the extremity of our situation, the Right still denies it is even happening, and the public is slowly waking up, too late of course. We've just experienced a fire Holocaust, yet the Pentecostal thug PM, 'Smoko' Morrison, who is surely seeing it all as God's Will and the sign of the coming End Times that his cult so longs for, utterly refuses to reduce CO2 emissions beyond a ludicrous 28% by 2030 from 2005 (base-line creep)levels, 'target', that we will not come close to. And now it is raining, a little, so the Great Austrayan Mediocracy can go back to their slumber. But they'll 'Wake in Fright', again, soon.

Hugh O'Neill ,

"It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country."

I know very little of Russia alas, but the over-riding impression I take from this speech is President Putin's depth and breadth grasp of detail and concern for every aspect of Russian society – and his frustration that decisions made at federal level do not transform into concrete action at regional levels. The curse of bureaucracy and local fiefdoms jealous of their power and autonomy.

I was fully expecting him to come up a resonating phrase like: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can for your country." For Russia to have (seemingly) escaped the rapacious talons of the vulture capitalists unleashed by the Yeltsin puppet ought to be a lesson for us all.

Finally, in international politics, he remains impeccably diplomatic, restrained and wise. Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Vierotchka ,

Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Imagine if the USA had a president like Putin

For starters, the Department of Defense would be just that, and not the Department of Offence with lipstick on.

Then, ponder this:

Just imagine if there was a Putin-like President of the USA

Hugh O'Neill ,

Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other. Looking at the calibre of Presidents since JFK, it seems that all the best candidates were either killed off or scared off. All the Unspeakable can do is kill in answer to any and all problems.

richard le sarc ,

Imagine the money freed if US military expenditure was not 90% graft and inefficiency.

Hugh O'Neill ,

In the quote I used above, how often do we hear world leaders – other than the Pope – speak of love? Twisted minds might dismiss Putin's call for more Russian children as to provide cannon fodder for the Russian military, but why would he also wish to ensure their creativity and their arts education? It is quite refreshing to hear Humanity discussed as a desirable asset, rather than non-stop pro-death, pro-abortion as a Human Right brigade, "bomb-bomb-bomb Iran" hatred. I expect a bit of flak for defending the unborn. I can take it.

richard le sarc ,

His manifest virtues are precisely why the vermin of the Western ruling elites hate him so psychotically.

[Jan 16, 2020] TRANSCRIPT Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly

Jan 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

This is about fight with fifth column... The time for those changes is long overdue.

I truly believe that it is time to introduce certain changes to our country's main law, changes that will directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal framework.

What does it mean? It means literally the following: requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

Second, I suggest formalising at the constitutional level the obligatory requirements for those who hold positions of critical significance for national security and sovereignty. More precisely, the heads of the constituent entities, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, the prime minister and his/her deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal agencies and judges should have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state.

The goal and mission of state service is to serve the people, and those who enter this path must know that by doing this they inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances.

Requirements must be even stricter for presidential candidates. I suggest formalising a requirement under which presidential candidates must have had permanent residence in Russia for at least 25 years and no foreign citizenship or residence permit and not only during the election campaign but at any time before it too.

I know that people are discussing the constitutional provision under which one person cannot hold the post of the President of the Russian Federation for two successive terms. I do not regard this as a matter of principle, but I nevertheless support and share this view.

I have already said before that our goal is to ensure high living standards and equal opportunities for all throughout the country. It is towards this goal that our national projects and development plans are aimed.


Stephen Morrell ,

Putin clearly is the most informed and visionary bourgeois politician in the world today, by a country mile. He not only is attempting to address the very real real social, demographic and economic needs of Russia, in his usual comprehensive manner, but also and cannily is co-opting many of the expectations that the USSR used to fulfil, attempting to neutralise any socialist political sentiments in the Russian population. Putin is the Bismarck of Russia.

richard le sarc ,

Russia's economic situation, within the global capitalist system, with its large reserves, much in gold, no exposure to the toilet paper of US Treasuries, and substantial local self-sufficiency in agriculture (thank-you sanctions)means that when the Western debt Ponzi Himalaya implodes, the Russians will be pretty much immune to the consequences.

richard le sarc ,

I agree entirely, but Putin has no alternative. Any chink in his armour and the USA will destroy Russia and break it up into fragments as they did in Yugoslavia, the USSR and wish to do in China. I rather think that Putin knows full well how dire is the global ecological situation, but he needs to balance less enlightened forces at home, and the 'Atlanticist' Quislings.

BigB ,

I don't disagree either: but that is not my point. The Atlanticists are waiting in the wings for another four years. Last time I checked: they still command 80% of Russian private property. And were expropriating $25bn pa annum in capital flight which has slowed slightly in the last few years. I read the Saker too. There is a deadlock and uneasy power sharing arrangement internally. But you may have missed the time when the Saker admitted "Putin is a neoliberal"?

It may be difficult to disentangle our vision from the neoliberal-statist-market ontology we are being repressed by but that is what we must do. We cannot expect neoliberal capitalist social inclusivity to save us from ecological catastrophe. Nor can we expect to grow economically into humanism: when exponential growth is what is destroying any lasting chance of a purely sustainable human-emancipatory freedom. Putin may not have a choice: but we do. The neoliberal-statist-market ontology is globally self-determined to produce total failure as its inevitable and only possible outcome. This is known a 'parametric determinism' when we automatically follow a maladaptive 'rational' self-optimising behaviour pattern long after it failed as it did in 2007. There is no recovery possible, and technology only speeds total failure whilst masking the ecological destruction it is accelerating.

States have to think and act in a pre-determined way that is true. But we do not have to think like that. Not if there is to be any alternative or succession of humanity ex-post the neoliberal-statist-market ontology which is morally, ecologically, humanistically and most importantly *actually* bankrupt at this point.

Do we exit a 350 year process of exponentially disproportionate wealth distribution, deliberate maldevelopment and global dehumanisation with all the wealth in the hands of those who benefited from the expropriation? Or do we attempt a redistribution and develop a new, hitherto unknown (and unknowable under capitalist alienation), value set where everyone globally has equal access to resources and a right to life as a birthright?

The decision is not beyond you or I: but it will take the development of the assessment of capitalism on other than its own neoliberal-statist-market ontological terms. No state or state leader can develop humanity on the path of less-is-more it needs to take but the people can. That's all.

richard le sarc ,

Putin is either a believing neo-liberal, in which case he is part of the problem you identify, or he is using it through necessity. I could not agree more with your diagnosis of the omnicidal nature of capitalism, and the inability of so many to visualise the end of capitalism-they more easily can conceive of the end of humanity. In fact I rather think that that is the way in which the ruling parasites intend to save their own bacon, by allowing the ecological Holocaust to cull the 90% of 'useless eaters' that the ruling elites fear and despise, and who they see only as a threat. Their labour is no longer required in an age of automation, robotisation and computerisation, and even their consumption is today superfluous. The ecological Holocaust has passed numerous tipping-points and points of no return, while the IPCC downplays the extremity of our situation, the Right still denies it is even happening, and the public is slowly waking up, too late of course. We've just experienced a fire Holocaust, yet the Pentecostal thug PM, 'Smoko' Morrison, who is surely seeing it all as God's Will and the sign of the coming End Times that his cult so longs for, utterly refuses to reduce CO2 emissions beyond a ludicrous 28% by 2030 from 2005 (base-line creep)levels, 'target', that we will not come close to. And now it is raining, a little, so the Great Austrayan Mediocracy can go back to their slumber. But they'll 'Wake in Fright', again, soon.

Hugh O'Neill ,

"It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country."

I know very little of Russia alas, but the over-riding impression I take from this speech is President Putin's depth and breadth grasp of detail and concern for every aspect of Russian society – and his frustration that decisions made at federal level do not transform into concrete action at regional levels. The curse of bureaucracy and local fiefdoms jealous of their power and autonomy.

I was fully expecting him to come up a resonating phrase like: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can for your country." For Russia to have (seemingly) escaped the rapacious talons of the vulture capitalists unleashed by the Yeltsin puppet ought to be a lesson for us all.

Finally, in international politics, he remains impeccably diplomatic, restrained and wise. Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Hugh O'Neill ,

Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other. Looking at the calibre of Presidents since JFK, it seems that all the best candidates were either killed off or scared off. All the Unspeakable can do is kill in answer to any and all problems.

richard le sarc ,

Imagine the money freed if US military expenditure was not 90% graft and inefficiency.

richard le sarc ,

His manifest virtues are precisely why the vermin of the Western ruling elites hate him so psychotically.

[Jan 16, 2020] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/jan/07/freedom-without-constraints-how-the-us-squandered-its-cold-war-victory

Jan 16, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

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News Opinion Sport Culture Lifestyle The long read Freedom without constraints: how the US squandered its cold war victory cwt Composite: Guardian Design/Getty The US believed the American way of life was humankind's ultimate destiny. But unrestrained greed has led to an era of injustice and division. By Andrew Bacevich

Tue 7 Jan 2020 01.00 EST Last modified on Thu 16 Jan 2020 06.09 EST

Shares 1,002 'W ithout the Cold War, what's the point of being an American?" Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the novelist John Updike's late-20th-century everyman, posed that question just as the "long twilight struggle" was winding down. More than quarter of a century later, the plaintive query still awaits a definitive answer.

Indeed, the passage of time has only sown confusion about whether there is a point to being an American. Even as the cold war was ending, Updike's everyman was not alone in feeling at a loss. By the 1980s, the cold war had become more than a mere situation or circumstance. It was a state of mind.

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Most Americans had come to take its existence for granted. Like the polar ice cap or baseball's status as the national pastime, it had acquired an appearance of permanence. So its passing caught citizens unaware. Those charged with managing the cold war were, if anything, even more surprised. The enterprise to which they had devoted their professional lives had suddenly vanished. Here was a contingency that the sprawling US national security apparatus, itself a product of the anti-communist crusade, had failed to anticipate.

On one level, of course, the surprise could not have been more gratifying. In the epic competition pitting west against east, the god-fearing against the godless and democracy against totalitarianism, "our side" had won. All-out nuclear war had been averted. The cause of freedom, which Americans felt certain they themselves embodied, had prevailed. Victory was decisive, sweeping and unequivocal.

In another sense, however, the passing of the cold war could not have been more disorienting. In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , had warned: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy."

As the Soviet Union passed out of existence, Americans were left not just without that enemy, but without even a framework for understanding the world and their place in it. However imperfectly, the cold war had, for several decades, offered a semblance of order and coherence. The collapse of communism shattered that framework. Where there had been purposefulness and predictability, now there was neither.

Winning the cold war brought Americans face-to-face with a predicament comparable to that confronting the lucky person who wins the lottery: hidden within a windfall is the potential for monumental disaster. Putting that money to good use while avoiding the pitfalls inherent in suddenly acquired riches calls for prudence and self-awareness – not easily demonstrated when the big house, luxury car and holiday home you have always wanted are yours for the asking.

Similarly, the end of the cold war might have given Americans pause, especially since the issues at hand were of considerably greater significance than homes and cars. At least in theory, the moment might have invited reflection on some first-order questions, such as: what is the meaning of freedom? What does freedom allow? What obligations does it impose? Whom or what does it exclude?


O f course, Americans had been wrestling with such questions since well before 1776 , the answers evolving over time. During the several decades of the cold war, however, the exigencies of the east-west rivalry had offered a reason to throttle down impulses to explore freedom's furthermost boundaries. Except on the fringes of American politics, most citizens accepted the word from Washington that their way of life was under grave threat. In the pecking order of national priorities, addressing that threat – defending freedom rather than enlarging it – tended to take precedence over other considerations.

This is not to suggest that cold-war Americans were a compliant lot. They were not. From the 1950s, misleadingly enshrined as a decade of conformity, through the Ronald Reagan-dominated 80s, domestic crises and controversies were constants. Among the issues energising or enraging Americans were civil liberties, the nuclear arms race, mismanaged wars of dubious provenance, challenges to artistic tradition, leftwing and rightwing radicalism, crass materialism that coexisted with widespread poverty and a host of simmering issues connected to race, sex and gender. Yet through it all, a common outlook, centred on resistance to the "red threat", endured. For most citizens most of the time, the cold war itself sufficed to explain "the point of being an American".

The collapse of the Soviet empire between 1989 and 1991 robbed that outlook of its last vestiges of authority. Rarely, if ever, had the transition from one historical period to another occurred quite so abruptly, with such a precise set of demarcations, and with such profound implications. As if in an instant, the discipline that the cold war had imposed vanished. The absurdity of defining reality as an either/or choice – red or dead, slave or free, good v evil – now became blazingly apparent. The impact on American ambitions and expectations was akin to removing the speed limiter from an internal combustion engine. Suddenly the throttle opened up. The future appeared uniquely promising, offering Americans a seemingly endless array of choices, while confronting them with few evident constraints. Everything seemed possible.

Confident that an era of unprecedented US economic, military and cultural ascendancy now beckoned, members of an intoxicated elite threw caution to the winds. They devised – and promulgated – a new consensus consisting of four elements.

Germans on top of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 10 November 1989. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

The first of these was globalisation or, more precisely, globalised neoliberalism. Stripped to its essence, globalisation was all about wealth creation: unconstrained corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale in a world open to the movement of goods, capital, ideas and people would create wealth on a hitherto unimagined scale.

The second element was global leadership, a euphemism for hegemony or, more simply still, for empire. At its core, global leadership was all about order: unchallengeable military might would enable the US to manage and police a postcolonial yet implicitly imperial order favourable to American interests and values. Through the exercise of global leadership, the US would enforce globalisation. Order and abundance would go hand in hand.

The third element of the consensus was freedom, an ancient word now drastically revised. The new conception of freedom emphasised autonomy, with traditional moral prohibitions declared obsolete and the removal of constraints maximising choice. Order and abundance together would underwrite freedom, relieving Americans of existential concerns about safety and survival to which those less privileged were still obliged to attend.

The final element of the consensus was presidential supremacy, with the occupant of the Oval Office accorded quasi-monarchical prerogatives and status. Implicit in presidential supremacy was a radical revision of the political order. While still treated as sacred writ, the constitution no longer described the nation's existing system of governance. Effectively gone, for example, was the concept of a federal government consisting of three equal branches. Ensuring the nation's prosperity, keeping Americans safe from harm, and interpreting the meaning of freedom, the president became the centre around which all else orbited, the subject of great hopes, and the target of equally great scorn should he fail to fulfil the expectations that he brought into office.

All these elements together constituted a sort of operating system. The purpose of this operating system, unseen but widely taken for granted, was to cement the primacy of the US in perpetuity, while enshrining the American way of life as the ultimate destiny of humankind. According to the calendar, the end of the 20th century, frequently referred to as the American century, was then drawing near. Yet with the cold war concluding on such favourable terms, the stage appeared set for a prolonged American epoch.

This, however, was not to be.


T he US wasted little time in squandering the advantages it had gained by winning the cold war. Events at home and abroad put the post-cold war consensus to the test, unmasking its contradictions and exposing its premises as delusional. Although globalisation did enable some to acquire great wealth, it left behind many more, while fostering egregious inequality. The assertion of global leadership provided American soldiers with plentiful opportunities to explore exotic and unfamiliar lands, but few would mistake the results for even an approximation of dominion, much less peace and harmony.

Instead, Americans came to accept war as habitual. And while the drive for individual empowerment removed constraints, it did little to promote the common good. An enlarged conception of freedom brought with it a whiff of nihilism. As for exalting the chief executive as a visionary leader, it yielded a succession of disappointments, before imploding in November 2016.

The post-cold war moment, dating from the early 90s and spanning the administrations of Bill Clinton , George W Bush and Barack Obama, turned out to be remarkably brief. By 2016, large numbers of ordinary Americans had concluded, not without reason, that the post-cold war consensus was irretrievably defective. Globalised neoliberalism, militarised hegemony, individual empowerment and presidents elevated to the status of royalty might be working for some, but not for them. They also discerned, again not without cause, that establishment elites subscribing to that consensus, including the leaders of both political parties, were deaf to their complaints and oblivious to their plight.

https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/the-long-read

By turning their country over to Donald Trump , those Americans signalled their repudiation of that very consensus. That Trump himself did not offer anything remotely like a reasoned alternative made his elevation to the presidency all the more remarkable. He was a protest candidate elected by a protest vote. In that regard, the 2016 presidential election marked a historical turning point comparable in significance to the fall of the Berlin Wall a quarter of a century earlier.

As the cold war had evolved from the late 40s into the 80s, the rhetoric of freedom remained central to American political discourse. Among members of the intelligentsia, fads came and went, but none displaced freedom as the defining issue of the age. As the designated "leader of the free world", each US president was in turn expected to talk the talk. From Truman through to Reagan, with differing levels of eloquence, none failed to do so.

The way it ended – with euphoric young Germans dancing on the wall – imparted to the entire cold war a retrospective moral clarity that it did not deserve. The cold war tainted everything it touched. As an episode in world history, it was a tragedy of towering proportions. So its passing ought to have called for reflection, remorse, repentance, even restitution. Yet the prevailing mood allowed for none of these, at least as far as most Americans were concerned. Instead, out of an era punctuated throughout by anxiety and uncertainty came a sense that a dazzling future lay just ahead.

In effect, the passing of the cold war relieved Americans of any further obligation to exhibit more than nominal cohesion. Except as a matter of personal preference, virtues such as self-discipline and self-denial, once deemed essential to enabling a nation to stand firm against existential threats, now became passé. The spirit of the post-cold war era prioritised self-actualisation and self-indulgence over self-sacrifice.

The demise of communism removed the last remaining constraints on the operation of global capitalism. By leaving the US militarily pre-eminent, the end of the cold war removed any remaining constraints on the use of American coercive power. Similarly, for many ordinary Americans, particularly those of a progressive bent, the passing of the cold war did away with any lingering constraints on matters related to "lifestyle". No longer would they defer to the customary arbiters of propriety and "good taste" in determining what was permissible and what was not. For transcendent authority, progressives looked to the autonomous self.


'A t the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." So wrote supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy in a famous decision handed down shortly after the cold war ended.

Kennedy's reformulation of liberty, however grandiose, was well suited to the mood that swept through elite quarters at the end of history . By comparison, the inalienable rights specified in the famous Declaration of Independence in 1776 now seemed cramped, stingy and inadequate. Freedom was in line for a makeover.

The emerging post-cold war conception of freedom was nothing if not expansive. It recognised few limits and imposed fewer obligations, with one notable exception: compliance was non-negotiable. As always, the American definition of liberty, however recently revised, was universally applicable, as valid in Bogotá and Dakar as it was in Boston and Denver.

What did this signify in practice? Allowing individuals maximum latitude to reach their own conclusions regarding the concepts of existence, meaning, the universe and the mystery of human life yielded what sort of society? The quarter-century that elapsed between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Donald Trump's election provided a tentative answer to that question. Part of that answer came in the form of progress towards eliminating the remaining vestiges of racism, empowering women and reducing discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ Americans.

Granted, progress does not imply decisive and irreversible success. Yet during the post-cold war period, American society became more tolerant, more open, more accepting and less judgmental. Attitudes toward people of colour, women and gays that in the 50s had been normative and remained widespread in the 60s and 70s had, by 2016, become unacceptable in polite society. Yet for more than a few Americans, Justice Kennedy's notion of liberty as an opportunity to ponder life's ultimate questions had little relevance. In practical terms, the exercise of freedom, undertaken in an environment in which consumption and celebrity had emerged as preeminent values, encouraged conformity rather than independence. At least notionally, Americans now enjoyed more freedom than ever before. Yet from every direction, but especially from Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, came cues for how to make the most of the freedom now on offer. And however much you had, you always needed more.

President Ronald Reagan (R) with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington in December 1987. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

So along with freedom came stress, anxiety and a sense of not quite measuring up, or a fear of falling behind as the demands of daily life seemed to multiply. For some, freedom meant alienation, anomie and despair. It did nothing to prevent, and in some instances arguably fostered, self-destructive or antisocial behaviour.

So in 2016, as another presidential election approached, Americans were able to claim the following distinctions:

• One in six were taking prescription psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds.

• More than 16 million adults and more than 3 million adolescents were suffering from significant depression.

• More than 1.9 million Americans were regularly using cocaine, with a half million hooked on heroin and 700,000 on methamphetamine.

• That year opioid overdoses killed 46,000, a new record.

• Binge drinking had reached epidemic proportions, with one in six US adults binge drinking several times a month and consuming seven drinks per binge; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bingeing was especially common among younger and more affluent Americans.

• Nearly 45,000 were taking their own lives annually, the national suicide rate increased by 24% since 1999; within the previous decade the suicide rate of teenage girls had doubled and of boys had jumped by 40%.

• Smartphone addiction was joining more traditional compulsions, with the average person checking their smartphone 110 times a day, impelled by Fomo – a fear of missing out.

• Compulsive-buying syndrome, AKA shopping addiction, afflicted an estimated 6% of the population; a comparable number were compulsive hoarders.

• On a daily basis, 11 million Americans, mostly women, struggled with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, while roughly 40% of adults and nearly 19% of children and adolescents were obese.

• Cosmetic surgeons were performing more than 17m procedures annually, with buttock augmentation and labiaplasty enjoying a particular spike in popularity.

• Forty-million Americans were regularly visiting online porn sites.

• The number of Americans infected with sexually transmitted diseases in 2016 surpassed 2 million, according to the CDC, "the highest number ever".

• An estimated 24.7 million children were growing up in fatherless households, with such children substantially more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol and kill themselves; girls raised without a father present were four times more likely to get pregnant as teenagers.

• Although difficult to quantify with precision, 676,000 American children in 2016 were victims of abuse or neglect.

• Exercising their right to choose, American women were terminating around 650,000 unwanted pregnancies each year, despite the widespread availability of contraceptives.

• Exercising their right to bear arms, Americans had accumulated more than 40% of the planet's small arms; the US arsenal in private hands was larger than that of the next 25 countries combined.

• Meanwhile, more than 33,000 Americans were being killed in firearms-related incidents annually.

• Year in and year out, the US had the world's highest incarceration rate, no other developed nation coming anywhere close.

• Polling data showed that social trust – how Americans felt about government institutions and their fellow citizens – had sunk to an all-time low. Perhaps for that reason, when it came to voting, most Americans couldn't be bothered; voter turnout in the US lagged behind that of most other developed countries.

• In an increasingly networked society, with two-thirds of Americans on Facebook, chronic loneliness afflicted a large portion of the population.

• In a phenomenon described as "deaths by despair", the life expectancy of white working-class American males was dropping, a trend without historical precedent.

• The nation's birthrate had fallen below the rate needed to sustain a stable overall population; America had ceased to reproduce itself.

• Not to be overlooked, in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, Americans were polluting, wasting food and generating trash with abandon, leading the world in each category.


A rguably, Americans were enjoying more freedom than ever. Were they happier as a consequence? Polls suggested otherwise. In the 2007 "world happiness" standings, the US had ranked third among developed countries. By 2016, its position had plummeted to 13th.

By no means am I suggesting that a single such statistic holds the key to assessing life in the US. It does not. Nor do the various penchants and pathologies enumerated above. Yet taken together, they suggest a society in which discontent, dysfunction and sheer perversity were rampant.

As with globalised neoliberalism, some Americans not only coped with seemingly limitless freedom, but also luxuriated in the opportunities that it offered. For sophisticates inhabiting Brooklyn's Park Slope, radical autonomy could well prove to be a boon; for those stuck in a ghetto on Chicago's South Side, not so much. As for the accompanying underside, those in possession of sufficient resources could insulate themselves from its worst effects – just as the affluent were able to insulate themselves from the accumulating post-cold war military misadventures by simply allowing others to shoulder the burden.

What role did Trump play in shaping this US that worked nicely for some while leaving many others adrift and vulnerable? None at all. Globalisation, the pursuit of militarised hegemony, a conception of freedom conferring rights without duties, and a political system centred on a quasi-monarchical chief of state each turned out to have a substantial downside. Yet the defects of each made their appearance well before Trump's entry into politics, even if elites, held in thrall by the post-cold war outlook, were slow to appreciate their significance. None of those defects can be laid at his feet.

If anything, Trump himself had displayed a considerable aptitude for turning such defects to his own advantage. In the US, post-cold war, he was prominent among those who enriched themselves, lived large and let others do the dirty work, while also shielding themselves from the difficulties that made life a trial for many of their fellow citizens. In an era of con artists, cowards and cynics, Trump became a modern equivalent of showman PT Barnum, parlaying the opportunities at hand into fortune, celebrity, lots of golf, plenty of sex and eventually the highest office in the land.

Yet for our purposes, the key point is this: Trump did not create the conditions in which the campaign of 2016 was to take place. Instead, to a far greater extent than any of his political rivals, he demonstrated a knack for translating those conditions into votes. Here, the moment met the man.

Trump's critics saw him as an abomination. Perhaps he was. Yet he was also very much a man of his time. In the end, what won him the presidency was his capacity to push the buttons of millions of voters who believed themselves ill-served and left behind – abandoned, even – by establishment politicians of both parties.

Implicit in his promise to "make America great again" was an admission that greatness itself, which Americans had long since come to believe was theirs by right, had been lost, with no one taking responsibility and no one, apart from Trump himself, venturing to explain how it had even happened. The critical word that imparted to his campaign slogan its formidable persuasive power was "again". As Tom Engelhardt has written, it represented an acknowledgment that self-congratulatory terms such as "great", "super", "exceptional" or "indispensable" no longer reflected the actually existing American condition. Millions of ordinary citizens recognised this as self-evidently true. Arrangements, agreements and advantages that Americans had once prized had been squandered or thrown away. And yet no politician other than Trump dared to utter that truth aloud.

As a strategic thinker, Trump had no particular talent. Yet as a strategic sensor, he was uniquely gifted, possessing an intuitive genius for reading the temper of his supporters and stoking their grievances. Yet by no means did Trump create those grievances – they had festered during the quarter-century after the cold war ended. He merely recognised their existence and, in doing so, made himself the champion of the aggrieved and the one person they came to believe who might respond to their plight.

The post-cold war recipe for renewing the American century has been tried and found wanting. A patently amoral economic system has produced neither justice nor equality, and will not. Grotesquely expensive and incoherent national security policies have produced neither peace nor a compliant imperium, and will not. A madcap conception of freedom unmoored from any overarching moral framework has fostered neither virtue nor nobility nor contentment, and won't anytime soon. Sold by its masterminds as a formula for creating a prosperous and powerful nation in which all citizens might find opportunities to flourish, it has yielded no such thing. This, at least, describes the conclusion reached by disenchanted Americans in numbers sufficient to elect as president someone vowing to run the post-cold war consensus through a shredder.

Donald Trump's detractors charge him with dividing the country when, in fact, it was pervasive division that vaulted him to the centre of American politics in the first place. The divide is deepest and least reconcilable between those Americans for whom the trajectory of events since the cold war pointed upward, and those who found in those same events evidence of decline and decay, and who sensed they had been had. At the most fundamental level, the inhabitants of one camp believe that talent, skills and connections will enable them to determine their own destiny; they are masters of their own fate. In the other camp are those who see themselves as victims. As Obama put it while campaigning for the presidency in 2008, "they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations".

Trump did not create this cleavage. He merely turned it to his personal advantage. So, regardless of the date or terms of Trump's departure from office, the schism that allowed him to become president is likely to persist after he is gone. It's that schism, rather than the antics of the tycoon/reality TV star/demagogue who exploited it, that merits far more attention than it has received.

This is an edited extract from The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory by Andrew Bacevich, published by Metropolitan Books/Holt

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[Jan 15, 2020] Is the US Now at War Against Iraq AND Iran – OffGuardian

Jan 15, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Search Jan 12, 2020 40 Is the US Now at War Against Iraq AND Iran? Editor Eric Zuesse

Iraqi Parliament – recently voted unanimously to expel US troops from their country.

On January 9th, Iraq's Prime Minister and Parliament again ordered all American troops out , but on January 10th the AP headlined "US dismisses Iraq request to work on a troop withdrawal plan" and reported that the U.S. State Department "bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to 'recommit' to their partnership."

It was not a "request" from Iraq; it was a command from them; and the U.S. and Iraq relate as conqueror and conquered, not as "partners." Consequently: the U.S. Government, now that it has been so unequivocally ordered to leave, is back again, unequivocally, to its invader-occupier role in Iraq.

The AP report went on to say that, "The request from Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi pointed to his determination to push ahead with demands for U.S. troops to leave Iraq."

Again there was that false word "request."

The AP report said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted, in reply:

"Our mission set there is very clear. We've been there to perform a training mission to help the Iraqi security forces be successful and to continue the campaign against ISIS, to continue the counter-Daesh campaign."

Though that's the invader-occupier's excuse, the reality is that the US needs Iraq in order to invade Iran, which is the US Government's objective, though not overtly stated.

Already, America's assassination in Iraq of Iran's top general Qasem Soleimani on January 3rd is an enormous act of war against Iran.

It is intended to obliterate Iran's main strategist, and this successful attack against Iran inside Iraq is a devastating first strike, by the U.S. Government against Iran.

So: now, the U.S. is at war against both Iraq and Iran.

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Harry Stotle ,

I see Tony is inconsolable after the death of a dictator who failed to hold an election for 50 years?

Britains foremost war criminal said, "I heard the news about His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman with great sadness. He was a leader of vision and purpose who took over the leadership of his country at a difficult time and raised it to an entirely new level of development and prosperity. He was a man of culture, humanity and deep conviction who strove to make his nation and the world better and more peaceful. He was kind, thoughtful and with a big heart. He had great wisdom and insight from which I benefited often as did so many others. My deepest sympathy, prayers and condolences are with the people of Oman. He will be sorely missed. – Tony Blair.
https://twitter.com/InstituteGC/status/1215920898966020096

Yes, I'm sure you did 'benefit', Tony – blood money I think they call it, you amoral scumbag.

Frank Speaker ,

I'm really disappointed to read yet another article on OffG about Iran. It's getting really boring and those backward desert dwellers deserve all they get anyway. Let's get it over and done with and takeover their oilfields and make lots of money. What I really want to see here instead are lots of articles about Meghan and Harry.

(note to non-British readers, it's called irony)

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

The ever cowardly United States of America is officially at war with everyone in the world except the uneducated dolts & imbeciles that support the Imbecile-in-Chief narcissist whackjob nutbar effin' retard run amok.

Fuck America & the Republican Party that lives on forever war with everyone in the world including American taxpayers.

Screw the imbecile-in-Chief to a wall of his making.

Death to America!

MOU

Harry Stotle ,

Oh, you are a wag, Eric – is the US killing machine that just incinerated the Quds foremost military strategist 'now at War Against Iraq AND Iran' – well its hardly an act of peace, is it?

By the way, has anyone been listening to Raab pontificate about 'international law' – apparently the minister for Tory lies appears to be oblivious to the fact that Soleimani's execution was almost certainly illegal, and was only possible because Britain and American actions are always placed above the law.

Lets just remind Raab, and murder apologists like him that, "Outside of an on-going armed conflict, the first use of military force is regulated under the jus ad bellum. The first principle of the jus ad bellum is the prohibition on the use of force, a peremptory norm codified in United Nations Charter Article 2(4). The only possible exception to the prohibition applicable in this case is self-defense. The exception is narrow. Some restrictions are provided in UN Charter Article 51; others in the general principles of international law. Article 51 permits the use of military force in such as the Hellfire missiles carried by Reaper drones, if "an armed attack occurs". The International Court of Justice has emphasized that the attack must be "grave".
https://www.ejiltalk.org/the-killing-of-soleimani-and-international-law/

Neocons want to start killing Iranians (which they already are doing via economic sanctions) – time for the west to grasp this inescapable reality.

nottheonly1 ,

What do these countries have in common?

U.S. IR UK FR AUS DE CAN NZ PL UK ES BR COL SA UAR NL SW NOR ET AL?

They are all

M O ☐ H ☐ R ☐ A R ☐ H ☐ ☐ C K ☐ R ☐

Yes, you may buy an 'F'.

That includes its populations, that do it by default. They are programmed and conditioned from early on to be in harmony with the Pompeos, the Busches, Obamas, Trumps and whatever their names are that have this planet in stranglehold.

U.S. MUST PAY for all damages it inflicted over the last ~213 years. The ticket is endless – and with the indiscrininate use of weapons of mass destruction, very expensive.

In a world of justice, the rich people would be given the shittiest places in these countries and the rest be divided among the victim Nations of these pathetically religiously fascist psychopaths.

Is the use of the term 'religiously fascist psychopath' now reason for a drone strike?

Well, what are you waiting for? You are okay with the above fascist nations to do pre-emptive murders, but hesitate to do the same?

What an epic Upfuckery.

Because – in other words – nobody capable to do the one act that is excempt from Karmic retribution? Rather than doing that, saner beings are actually leaning back in the most fatalistic way. What is it good for, if the sane let the insane do whatever they please – or their mental illness dictates them to do?

Hitler was a good example. He was not mandated to undergo a psychological evaluation. And I don't care where you set the red line. Being part of genocide is plenty enough at any given day. And there can be no more limitations of terms.

Maybe the prevailing opinion about all this is for it to be a joke. But that only appears to be so, because the populations of the above listed nations et al, are murdering innocent women and children (future population reduction) in the Nations on the receiving fascist shit end of the stick.

On a side note and only marginally related:

Listening to the early Beatles and their 'depressing' songs, the mind drifted to 'The Man in Black' (that I adore) and his song about why he is wearing black and likely to do so into his grave, which he did. The song I have on mind changes the lyrics a bit, but stays true, or emphasizes the new expression.

Well, you wonder why I'm always using 'fuck'.
Why you'll never hear me leaving out the muck.
And why my words have such a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things I'm bringing on.

Oh, and yes, for what its worth: invest yourself in aeroponics. Learn everything about it and start your own food production – using very little, very clean water and clean air, delivering healthy greens. It will work in an apartment as well as in a large greenhouse. The REAL Foodevolution.

Dungroanin ,

Yes the US has been at war in the ME for a very very long time Eric.

Their advance was halted and is now in retreat, bar a few 'battles of Bulges' false hopes – they are heading back to their bunkers and throwing the kiddy corps into the front lines to take on hardened campaigners. They have even resorted to assassination of the Generals and leaders – opening the way and hoping for equal retaliation, to sway the public perception.

The Iraqis want the US out – and are threatened with economic sanctions and freezing of their US$ accounts!

Just like Venezuela and Iran and Libya and Yemen ..,

The Iraqis are proceeding with their closer ties with the winners – the Eurasian conglomerate, the Belt & Road investments; the superior Russian weapons systems and no doubt the disengagement from the petrodollar, ball and chain of a slave.

Like an abused woman who wants to remove the 'ex boyfriend' who moved in a decade ago – has never paid any bills, doesn't do housework or maintenance and brings round his mates to wreck the place

Iraq has served a legal order to remove the abusive bastard !

Get the fuck out – or the bailiffs will be called to do it – and that will mean MORE cost you bully!

If that is MORE war then retreating Empire will see a REAL war on all fronts including for the first time ever in their own country – the bodybags will be required domestically – just like the poor civilians have been dying in theit tens of thousands at the proxy US forces hands for decades.

The people of the US need to get past their daily diet of super sugared Hollywood superiority and understand THEY are the EVIL EMPIRE and THEY are LOSING as the downtrodden ewoks of the many countried are fighting back!

GEOFF ,

After the USS Vincennes in 1988 had shot down Iran Air Flight 655 and killed 290 people, including many children, the U.S. government denied any culpability. George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time, commented: "I will never apologize for the United States – I don't care what the facts are I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." Despite its "error" the crew was given medals and the captain was even awarded a Legion of Merit "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer

GEOFF ,

The above is from moon of Alabama I forgot to mention

Yarkob ,

Have a listen to Whitney Webb on QTR podcast giving her take: https://youtu.be/dmaypBvuNzs?t=376

George Mc ,

Example an American "request":

https://www.youtube.com/embed/SeldwfOwuL8?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Antonym ,

That's the CIA today; not the USA.

George Mc ,

Granted that it's not the whole of the USA – but it's not just the CIA and it's certainly not merely "today". Incidentally, Brando said his attraction towards playing the Godfather is that he thought it was a prefect demonstration of how the American political system really works.

Protect ,

From Zero Hedge / The Strategic Culture Foundation:
"Abdul-Mehdi [The Iraqi prime minister] spoke angrily about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.
The complete (translated) words of Abdul-Mahdi's speech to parliament:
"This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.
"Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.
"I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.
"After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this "third party"."
https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/deeper-story-behind-assassination-soleimani
and there is this:
"I was supposed to meet him [Soleimani] later in the morning when he was killed. He came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered to the Iranians from the Saudis."

lundiel ,

Here's your answer from the state department, it appears to be both yes and no (depending on financial incentives).

America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners. We have been unambiguous regarding how crucial our D-ISIS mission is in Iraq. At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership -- not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. Today, a NATO delegation is at the State Department to discuss increasing NATO's role in Iraq, in line with the President's desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts. There
does, however, need to be a conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.

Gall ,

Typical imperialistic boiler plate. America being a "force for good in the Middle East" or anywhere else is a lie. Remember Vietnam? As for "continu(ing) the fight against ISIS" the SOS really means to continue to finance and supply ISIS while pretending to "fight against" them. There whole statement is a Stygian Stable full of total BS.

The Iraqis should tell them again to get the f-k outta Dodge or they'll go Wyatt Earp on their sorry lying asses.

Frances ,

Pardonnez-moi, but why do Canada and Australia also UK (Boris) take their 'cue' on foreign policy from the USA? Sending defence forces to fight Washington's wars and banker's wars for resources?

austrian peter ,

I answer to your question, Frances, take out an hour of your day to find out:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/np_ylvc8Zj8?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Andy ,

This edition of Crosstalk seems to encapsulate perfectly US arrogance and stupidity/disingenuity.

https://youtu.be/Rlkeyl4adJ0

Brian Harry ,

That assertion by Mike("We lied we cheated we stole" ..)Pompeo is a total lie. The USA invaded Iraq under a complete pack of lies, about Saddam Hussein's "Weapons of Mass Destruction" back in 2003 and are still there after having murdered Hussein and now occupy Iraq.
The Elected Leader of Syria has also told the USA to "Get out of Syria", but the USA has not done so.
The USA(and it's 'owners" Israel, are the problem in the Middle East, NOT IRAN or Iraq.
Israel's anaesthetised donkey, The USA, is completely controlled by Israel .It's pathetic. but it's true.

austrian peter ,

In the sixties we all knew that "NO" meant "YES" and these guys are from that era.

Brian Harry ,

I think that the World has grown sick and tired of the LIES, spewing out of the Military Industrial Complex ..In the highest levels of the USA Government, "if their lips are moving, they're LYING .

austrian peter ,

Yep, with you 100% and the bulk of the 99% are getting the message too.

Yarkob ,

"the bulk of the 99% are getting the message too."

Don't kid yourself, Peter. I'd love to agree with you, but there is little evidence of that on those sites that allow comment on this. the masses have drunk the kool aid long and deep. Yes, there's some pearl-clutching going on but he was "still a trrst" so it's all ok. Back to sleep.

Look! Harry and Meghan!!

austrian peter ,

Take your point Yarkob, thank you. I was trying to be optimistic – in my world my network is gradually becoming more aware – I hope that my book, due to publish this quarter, will ride the wave; fingers crossed!
:-))))

Admin ,

Where are you seeing this BTL? Bear in mind that comments in most corporate media sites are heavily censored these days, and replete with sock puppets manipulating debate & seeding talking points.

George Mc ,

As I have often said, the MSM not only lies but gives a false image of public opinion. Granted that it is not easy – or even possible – to really know what the population is tending towards in their opinion, I think we can safely say that the MSM always bullshits about it. I love it especially when they not only bullshit about what "everyone thinks" abut also about what everyone "WILL" think e.g. the blathering about what party is "electable".

I am not, by any stretch, a subscriber to David Icke but he did come up with one wonderful expression when he described what the MSM pump out as "the movie". That is exactly what it is. And I'd like to believe that less and less people believe it. Of course the big problem is that even if you reject it, you have to put up with the fact that, obviously as far as the "mainstream" goes, it's the only show in town. And a lot of people still regurgitate what they hear. So e.g. a lot of people go along with the manufactured outrage over Corbyn "refusing to apologise" while these same people have no idea what he is apologising for – other than a vague notion that he must be some kind of Hitler guy. It all comes down to vibrations set up in the MSM. If you shit enough and often enough then eventually many will swallow it.

falcemartello ,

Since when has pax-americana not been at war. The only administration since ww2 that has not been at war was the Peanut farmer from Georgia The Carter administration and it was his secretary of state Brezinski that created the Takfiri army to disrupt Afghanistan in 1979.
Post Scriptum: The Iranian missile strike in western Iraq and Erbil was a historical event.
It is the second time in Us military history that pax-americana had not responded to a direct attack on a military barracks , the first time was in 1982 in Beirut where a suicide bomber killed over 200 people.
Docius in Fondem:Wesley Clarke statement from when he was alluded to the Likudniks plan & countries in 5 years Iran was last on the list.
US have declared war on both Iraq and Iran with the assassination of the IRGC General and the PMU General. Simple facts tend to allude we the exceptional civilized west

austrian peter ,

love the Latin:
Caesar ad sum iam forte
Pompei ad erat
Caesar sic in omnibus
Pompei sic in hat

Brian Harry ,

"Don't talk to me about the bloody Romans, what have they ever done for us"?
Try as I may, I cant get Google to translate that .what does it mean, please?

Brian Harry ,

.although, when I read it 'phonetically', it sounds like a "big night out, and lots of vomit sprayed around but, I'm Australian, and we don't do things like that .much

austrian peter ,

:-)))))
Use DuckDuckGo:
Non me loqui Romani sanguinis quid unquam fecit u

Brian Harry ,

I'll take your word for it Thanks for the laugh ..!

austrian peter ,

:-))))) "Laughing is the best policy and is generally better than getting hit by a taxi!" – Spike Milligan – another comic messiah.

austrian peter ,

No worries, cobber, have a smiley day and always remember: " If you see a man without a smile, give him one of yours".

https://www.youtube.com/embed/SJUhlRoBL8M?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

austrian peter ,

This should help, Brian:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Y7tvauOJMHo?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Brian Harry ,

Monty Python the Greatest .There weren't many Romans in Australia 2000 years ago. Too busy invading and really irritating Europeans and British people, but, somehow, it all worked out ok Always look on the bright side of life, huh ?

austrian peter ,

Yep, and you Brian are in the right place to see the sunny side. We here in old Blighty are suffering the gloom, doom and damp. I lived in Cape Town for ten years (same latitude as Sydney and similar climate) and miss it dreadfully – the climate that is – the rest is isht; power cuts (load shedding they call it), water shortage (drought they call it), pollution and infrastructure failure all round, Nuff said! Go well cobber.

Mike Ellwood ,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_Latin

Not quite the same thing but interesting:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer_is_icumen_in

Especially the parodies towards the end.

There are some good pastiche French rhymes / songs around as well. Don't have any links to hand ..aha, found what I was thinking of:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mots_d%27Heures

Gall ,

Actually Jimbo the Peanut Farmer was involved in a covert war in Angola and also covertly arming the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Not to mention operation Eagle Claw that failed against the Iranians.

GEOFF ,

In 240 years since its inception warmongering yanky land has been at war in the last 224 years with someone, 50 in the last 10 years, not a bad record.

[Jan 12, 2020] The Skripal Affair A Lie Too Far -- Strategic Culture

Jan 12, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Strategic Culture

Search World The Skripal Affair: A Lie Too Far? Michael Jabara Carley April 18, 2018 © Photo: Public domain

On 4 March 2018 it was a foggy day in southern England, and the MI6 Russian spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia stepped out for a stroll, stopped at the local pub in Salisbury, went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then took a walk in the park where they collapsed on a park bench. What had happened to them? Did they suffer from food poisoning? Or was Sergei Skripal involved in some dark affaire and the object of a hit by persons unknown, his daughter being an accidental victim?

The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. "The Russians" had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, "the Russians," so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal.

On 12 March the foreign secretary summoned the Russian ambassador to inform him that a nerve agent, A-234, had been used against the Skripals. How did you do it, Johnson wanted to know, or did the Russian government lose control of its stocks of chemical weapons? He gave the Russian ambassador 24 hours to respond. In point of fact, the Russian government does not possess any stockpiles of chemical weapons or nerve agents, having destroyed them all as of September 2017.

Later that day, the British prime minister, Theresa May, declared in the House of Commons that the Skripals, then said to be in a coma, were poisoned with "a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia " (italics added) called a 'novichok', a Russian word having various possible translations into English (beginner, novice, newcomer, etc.). May claimed that since the Soviet Union was known to have produced this chemical weapon, or nerve agent (also known as A-234), that it was " highly likely " that the Russian government was guilty of the attack on the Skripals.

Here is what the prime minister said in the House of Commons: "Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others." The hurried British accusations were redolent of those in 2014 alleging Russian government complicity or direct involvement in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 over the Ukraine. Within hours of the destruction of MH 17, the United States and its vassals, including Britain, accused Russia of being responsible.

The western modus operandi is the same in the Skripal case. The Tories rushed to conclusions and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Russian government to prove its innocence, or rather to admit its guilt. How was the so-called novichok delivered to London, did President Vladimir Putin authorise the attack, did Russia lose control of its stockpile? The prime minister and her foreign secretary had in effect declared Russia guilty as charged. No objective police investigation, no due process, no presumption of innocence, no evidence was necessary: it was "sentence first, verdict later", as the Red Queen declared in Alice in Wonderland .

On 13 March the Russian embassy informed the Foreign Office that the Russian Federation was not involved in any way with the Salisbury incident. We will not respond to an ultimatum, came the reply from Moscow. The eloquent Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariia Zakharova, characterised the British démarche as a "circus show". Actually, Foreign Office clerks must have told Boris Johnson that Russia would not respond to such an ultimatum so that it was a deliberate British attempt to provoke a negative Russian reply.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated for the record that "as soon as the rumors, fed by the British leadership, about the poisoning of Skripal appeared, we immediately requested access to this [toxic] substance so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons." After the British ambassador visited the Russian foreign ministry on 13 March to receive the formal Russian reply to the British ultimatum, the foreign ministry in Moscow issued a communiqué: " The [Salisbury] incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that." The Russian government in fact proposed that the alleged poisoning of the Skripals should be examined by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to procedures to which Britain itself had agreed when the OPCW was established in 1997.

On 14 March the British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and a few days later the Russian side expelled 23 British diplomats and shuttered the offices of the British Council in Russia. At the same time, the British appealed to their allies and to the European Union to show solidarity by expelling Russian diplomats. Twenty-eight countries did so, though for most it was one or two expulsions, tokenism to appease the British. Other countries -- for example, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal -- refused to join the stampede. Going over the top, the United States expelled sixty diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians responded in kind with sixty expulsions and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg. Momentum seemed to be building toward a major confrontation. The British prime minister even alluded to the possibility of military action .

In the meantime, President Putin weighed in. "I guess any reasonable person [has] realised," he said, "that this is complete absurd[ity] and nonsense. [How could] anybody in Russia allow themselves such actions on the eve of the [Russian] presidential election and the football World Cup? This is unthinkable." In any police inquiry, investigators look for means, motive and opportunity. On these grounds did the trail of guilt lead to Moscow?

Momentum is sometimes like a balloon, it blows up and then it suddenly bursts. The British case against Russia began to fall apart almost from the time it was made. In late March the Russian newspaper Kommersant leaked a British PowerPoint presentation sent to eighty embassies in Moscow. It asserted, inter alia , that the British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down had positively identified the substance, which allegedly poisoned the Skripals, as a Novichok, "developed only by Russia". Both these statements are false. On 3 April Porton Down stated publicly that it could not determine the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals. It also came out that the formula for making a so-called novichok was published in a book by a Russian dissident and chemist, Vil Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States. You can buy his book (published in 2008), which includes the formula, on Amazon.com . In fact, any number of governments or smart chemists or even bright undergraduate chemistry students with the proper facilities could make this nerve agent. Amongst those governments having access to the original formula are Britain and the United States. The Russian embassy in London noted in a published report that "neither Russia nor the Soviet Union has ever developed an agent named 'Novichok'." The report further stated that "While Soviet scientists did work on new types of chemical poisons, the word 'Novichok' was introduced in the West in mid-1990s to designate a series of new chemical agents developed there on the basis of information made available by Russian expat researchers. The British insistence to use the Russian word 'Novichok' is an attempt to artificially link the substance to Russia."

The British PowerPoint presentation did not stop with its two main canards. It goes on to refer to "Russian malign activity" including, inter alia , the "invasion" of Georgia in 2008, the "destabilisation" of the Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 in 2014, and interference in the US elections in 2016. All of these claims are audacious lies , easily deconstructed and unpacked. The referenced events are also unrelated to the Salisbury incident and were raised in an attempt to smear the Russian Federation. In fact, the British PowerPoint slides represent vulgar propaganda, bourrage de crâne , as preposterous as any seen during the Cold War.

As Minister Lavrov pointed out, the Skripal case should have gone for resolution to the OPCW in The Hague. Russia would then be directly involved in the investigation and would have access to the alleged toxin, and other evidence to try to determine what had happened and who were the perpetrators. The British government at first refused to go to the OPCW, and then when it did, refused to authorise the Russian government to have access to the alleged substance, which had sickened the Skripals. That idea is "perverse", said British authorities. Actually, not at all, it is the procedure laid out in OPCW statutes, to which Britain itself agreed but has refused to respect. When the Russian representative at the OPCW proposed a resolution to the executive council, that it should respect its own statutes, he could not obtain the required vote of approval. The British were attempting to hijack the OPCW as a potential tool against the Russian Federation. Thus far, that stratagem has not worked. On 12 April the OPCW released a report stating that it had "confirm[ed] the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury ." The report said nothing about the origin of the so-called "toxic chemical". The British accusation against Russia thus remained unsubstantiated.

What I could not understand when I read the OPCW communiqué, is why the Skripals were still alive. The OPCW says that the toxic chemical used against the Skripals was "of high purity". Was it a nerve agent? Oddly, the OPCW published report avoids a straight answer. If it was a nerve agent, being of "high purity," it should have been instant acting and killed the Skripals almost immediately. Yet both have survived at the time of this writing. Something does not make sense. Of course, there could be a simple explanation for this puzzling mystery.

On 14 April, Minister Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow provided the answer. The substance used to attack the Skripals was laced with a substance know as BZ which incapacitates rather than kills and takes longer to work than an instant acting nerve agent which kills immediately. The United States, Britain and other NATO countries have developed this toxin and put it into service; the Soviet Union never did so. Traces of A-234 were also identified, but according to experts, such a concentration of the A-234 agent would cause death to anyone affected by it. "Moreover," according to the Russian embassy in London , "considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning," Could Britsh authorities have tampered with the samples? The public OPCW report gives no details, and refers only to a "toxic chemical". Nor did the report say that the OPCW had submitted specimens of the substance to a well-known Swiss lab , which promptly reported back its surprising results. The OPCW authorities thus lied when they said that the tests "confirmed" the British identify of the "toxic chemical". Unless Porton Down knew that the substance used against the Skripals was a BZ type toxin, and so informed the OPCW, or, unless the Tory government lied in claiming publicly that it was a novichok nerve agent. The British attempted hijacking of the OPCW has compromised its independence, for the public report issued on 12 April is misleading. Moreover, since the BZ toxin is made by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, it begs the same questions, which the Tories put to Moscow: how did the perpetrators obtain the BZ toxin and bring it to Salisbury, did MI5 or MI6 authorise a false flag attack against the Skripals, or was it authorised by the British cabinet or by the prime minister alone? Or did British authorities lose control of their stockpiles? The trail of evidence does not lead to Moscow; it leads to London.

A prima facie case can be made that the British government is lying about the Skripal affaire . Suspicion always falls upon those who act deviously, who hide behind clever turns of phrase and procedural and rhetorical smokescreens. British authorities are now saying that they have other top secret evidence, which explains everything, but unfortunately it can't be publicised. Nevertheless, the British government appears to have leaked it to the press. The Times published a story about a covert Russian lab producing nerve agents and it spread like wild fire across the Mainstream Media. The Daily Mirror put out a story about a Russian secret assassins' training manual. These stories are laughable. Is the Tory government that desperate? Is the British "everyman" that gullible?

The secret assassin's manual reminds me of the 1924 "Zinoviev Letter", a counterfeit document produced by White Russians in Germany, purporting to demonstrate Soviet interference in British elections and planning for a socialist revolution. It was early days of "fake news". Parliamentary elections were underway in October 1924 and the Tories used the letter to attack the credibility of the Labour party. It was whipping up the red scare, and it worked like a charm. The Tories won a majority government. Soviet authorities claimed that the letter was bogus and they demanded a third party, independent investigation to ascertain the truth, just as the Russian government has done now. In 1924, the Tories refused, and understandably so, since they had a lot to hide. It took seventy-five years to determine that "the letter" was in fact counterfeit.

The Tories are again acting as if they have something to hide. It is déjà vu. Will it take seventy-five years to get at the truth? Are there any honest British cops, judges, civil servants ready to reveal the truth?

There is other evidence to suggest that the British narrative on the Salisbury incident is bogus. The London Metropolitan Police have sought to prevent any outside contact with the Skripals. They have taken away a recovered Yulia Skripal to an unknown location. They have until now denied Russian consular authorities access to a Russian citizen in violation of British approved consular agreements. Is there any chapter of international law, which the British government now respects? British authorities have denied access to Yulia Skripal's family in Russia; they have denied a visa to Yulia's cousin, Viktoria, to visit with her. Are British spooks grooming Yulia, briefing her to stay on the Tory narrative? Is she being manipulated like some kind of Manchurian Candidate? Have they induced her to betray her country in exchange for emoluments, a new identity in the United States, a house, a BMW and money? Are they playing upon her loyalty to her father? Based on a statement attributed to Yulia by the London Metropolitan Police, it begins to look that way . Or, is the message, sounding very British and official, quite simply a fake? The Russian embassy in London suspects that it is. What is certain is that British authorities are acting as though they have something to hide. Even German politicians, amongst others, have criticised the British rush to indict Russia. Damage control is underway. Given all the evidence, can any person with reasonable abilities to think critically believe anything the Tories are saying about the Salisbury affair?

"They are liars. And they know that they are liars," the late Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz once wrote: "And we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying ." Mahfouz was not writing about the British, but all the same, he could have been. Are not his well-known lines apposite to the present government in London?

The Tories are trying doggedly to maintain control of the narrative. Stakes are high for if it eventuates that the Tories have lied deliberately for political gain, at the risk of destabilising European, indeed world peace and security, the Tory government should be forced to resign and new elections, called. Then, the British electorate can decide whether it wants to be governed by reckless, mendacious Tory politicians who risk to provoke war against the Russian Federation. The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: May OPCW United Kingdom Print this article Michael Jabara Carley April 18, 2018 | World The Skripal Affair: A Lie Too Far?

On 4 March 2018 it was a foggy day in southern England, and the MI6 Russian spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia stepped out for a stroll, stopped at the local pub in Salisbury, went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then took a walk in the park where they collapsed on a park bench. What had happened to them? Did they suffer from food poisoning? Or was Sergei Skripal involved in some dark affaire and the object of a hit by persons unknown, his daughter being an accidental victim?

The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. "The Russians" had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, "the Russians," so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal.

On 12 March the foreign secretary summoned the Russian ambassador to inform him that a nerve agent, A-234, had been used against the Skripals. How did you do it, Johnson wanted to know, or did the Russian government lose control of its stocks of chemical weapons? He gave the Russian ambassador 24 hours to respond. In point of fact, the Russian government does not possess any stockpiles of chemical weapons or nerve agents, having destroyed them all as of September 2017.

Later that day, the British prime minister, Theresa May, declared in the House of Commons that the Skripals, then said to be in a coma, were poisoned with "a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia " (italics added) called a 'novichok', a Russian word having various possible translations into English (beginner, novice, newcomer, etc.). May claimed that since the Soviet Union was known to have produced this chemical weapon, or nerve agent (also known as A-234), that it was " highly likely " that the Russian government was guilty of the attack on the Skripals.

Here is what the prime minister said in the House of Commons: "Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others." The hurried British accusations were redolent of those in 2014 alleging Russian government complicity or direct involvement in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 over the Ukraine. Within hours of the destruction of MH 17, the United States and its vassals, including Britain, accused Russia of being responsible.

The western modus operandi is the same in the Skripal case. The Tories rushed to conclusions and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Russian government to prove its innocence, or rather to admit its guilt. How was the so-called novichok delivered to London, did President Vladimir Putin authorise the attack, did Russia lose control of its stockpile? The prime minister and her foreign secretary had in effect declared Russia guilty as charged. No objective police investigation, no due process, no presumption of innocence, no evidence was necessary: it was "sentence first, verdict later", as the Red Queen declared in Alice in Wonderland .

On 13 March the Russian embassy informed the Foreign Office that the Russian Federation was not involved in any way with the Salisbury incident. We will not respond to an ultimatum, came the reply from Moscow. The eloquent Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariia Zakharova, characterised the British démarche as a "circus show". Actually, Foreign Office clerks must have told Boris Johnson that Russia would not respond to such an ultimatum so that it was a deliberate British attempt to provoke a negative Russian reply.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated for the record that "as soon as the rumors, fed by the British leadership, about the poisoning of Skripal appeared, we immediately requested access to this [toxic] substance so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons." After the British ambassador visited the Russian foreign ministry on 13 March to receive the formal Russian reply to the British ultimatum, the foreign ministry in Moscow issued a communiqué: " The [Salisbury] incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that." The Russian government in fact proposed that the alleged poisoning of the Skripals should be examined by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to procedures to which Britain itself had agreed when the OPCW was established in 1997.

On 14 March the British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and a few days later the Russian side expelled 23 British diplomats and shuttered the offices of the British Council in Russia. At the same time, the British appealed to their allies and to the European Union to show solidarity by expelling Russian diplomats. Twenty-eight countries did so, though for most it was one or two expulsions, tokenism to appease the British. Other countries -- for example, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal -- refused to join the stampede. Going over the top, the United States expelled sixty diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians responded in kind with sixty expulsions and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg. Momentum seemed to be building toward a major confrontation. The British prime minister even alluded to the possibility of military action .

In the meantime, President Putin weighed in. "I guess any reasonable person [has] realised," he said, "that this is complete absurd[ity] and nonsense. [How could] anybody in Russia allow themselves such actions on the eve of the [Russian] presidential election and the football World Cup? This is unthinkable." In any police inquiry, investigators look for means, motive and opportunity. On these grounds did the trail of guilt lead to Moscow?

Momentum is sometimes like a balloon, it blows up and then it suddenly bursts. The British case against Russia began to fall apart almost from the time it was made. In late March the Russian newspaper Kommersant leaked a British PowerPoint presentation sent to eighty embassies in Moscow. It asserted, inter alia , that the British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down had positively identified the substance, which allegedly poisoned the Skripals, as a Novichok, "developed only by Russia". Both these statements are false. On 3 April Porton Down stated publicly that it could not determine the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals. It also came out that the formula for making a so-called novichok was published in a book by a Russian dissident and chemist, Vil Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States. You can buy his book (published in 2008), which includes the formula, on Amazon.com . In fact, any number of governments or smart chemists or even bright undergraduate chemistry students with the proper facilities could make this nerve agent. Amongst those governments having access to the original formula are Britain and the United States. The Russian embassy in London noted in a published report that "neither Russia nor the Soviet Union has ever developed an agent named 'Novichok'." The report further stated that "While Soviet scientists did work on new types of chemical poisons, the word 'Novichok' was introduced in the West in mid-1990s to designate a series of new chemical agents developed there on the basis of information made available by Russian expat researchers. The British insistence to use the Russian word 'Novichok' is an attempt to artificially link the substance to Russia."

The British PowerPoint presentation did not stop with its two main canards. It goes on to refer to "Russian malign activity" including, inter alia , the "invasion" of Georgia in 2008, the "destabilisation" of the Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 in 2014, and interference in the US elections in 2016. All of these claims are audacious lies , easily deconstructed and unpacked. The referenced events are also unrelated to the Salisbury incident and were raised in an attempt to smear the Russian Federation. In fact, the British PowerPoint slides represent vulgar propaganda, bourrage de crâne , as preposterous as any seen during the Cold War.

As Minister Lavrov pointed out, the Skripal case should have gone for resolution to the OPCW in The Hague. Russia would then be directly involved in the investigation and would have access to the alleged toxin, and other evidence to try to determine what had happened and who were the perpetrators. The British government at first refused to go to the OPCW, and then when it did, refused to authorise the Russian government to have access to the alleged substance, which had sickened the Skripals. That idea is "perverse", said British authorities. Actually, not at all, it is the procedure laid out in OPCW statutes, to which Britain itself agreed but has refused to respect. When the Russian representative at the OPCW proposed a resolution to the executive council, that it should respect its own statutes, he could not obtain the required vote of approval. The British were attempting to hijack the OPCW as a potential tool against the Russian Federation. Thus far, that stratagem has not worked. On 12 April the OPCW released a report stating that it had "confirm[ed] the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury ." The report said nothing about the origin of the so-called "toxic chemical". The British accusation against Russia thus remained unsubstantiated.

What I could not understand when I read the OPCW communiqué, is why the Skripals were still alive. The OPCW says that the toxic chemical used against the Skripals was "of high purity". Was it a nerve agent? Oddly, the OPCW published report avoids a straight answer. If it was a nerve agent, being of "high purity," it should have been instant acting and killed the Skripals almost immediately. Yet both have survived at the time of this writing. Something does not make sense. Of course, there could be a simple explanation for this puzzling mystery.

On 14 April, Minister Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow provided the answer. The substance used to attack the Skripals was laced with a substance know as BZ which incapacitates rather than kills and takes longer to work than an instant acting nerve agent which kills immediately. The United States, Britain and other NATO countries have developed this toxin and put it into service; the Soviet Union never did so. Traces of A-234 were also identified, but according to experts, such a concentration of the A-234 agent would cause death to anyone affected by it. "Moreover," according to the Russian embassy in London , "considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning," Could Britsh authorities have tampered with the samples? The public OPCW report gives no details, and refers only to a "toxic chemical". Nor did the report say that the OPCW had submitted specimens of the substance to a well-known Swiss lab , which promptly reported back its surprising results. The OPCW authorities thus lied when they said that the tests "confirmed" the British identify of the "toxic chemical". Unless Porton Down knew that the substance used against the Skripals was a BZ type toxin, and so informed the OPCW, or, unless the Tory government lied in claiming publicly that it was a novichok nerve agent. The British attempted hijacking of the OPCW has compromised its independence, for the public report issued on 12 April is misleading. Moreover, since the BZ toxin is made by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, it begs the same questions, which the Tories put to Moscow: how did the perpetrators obtain the BZ toxin and bring it to Salisbury, did MI5 or MI6 authorise a false flag attack against the Skripals, or was it authorised by the British cabinet or by the prime minister alone? Or did British authorities lose control of their stockpiles? The trail of evidence does not lead to Moscow; it leads to London.

A prima facie case can be made that the British government is lying about the Skripal affaire . Suspicion always falls upon those who act deviously, who hide behind clever turns of phrase and procedural and rhetorical smokescreens. British authorities are now saying that they have other top secret evidence, which explains everything, but unfortunately it can't be publicised. Nevertheless, the British government appears to have leaked it to the press. The Times published a story about a covert Russian lab producing nerve agents and it spread like wild fire across the Mainstream Media. The Daily Mirror put out a story about a Russian secret assassins' training manual. These stories are laughable. Is the Tory government that desperate? Is the British "everyman" that gullible?

The secret assassin's manual reminds me of the 1924 "Zinoviev Letter", a counterfeit document produced by White Russians in Germany, purporting to demonstrate Soviet interference in British elections and planning for a socialist revolution. It was early days of "fake news". Parliamentary elections were underway in October 1924 and the Tories used the letter to attack the credibility of the Labour party. It was whipping up the red scare, and it worked like a charm. The Tories won a majority government. Soviet authorities claimed that the letter was bogus and they demanded a third party, independent investigation to ascertain the truth, just as the Russian government has done now. In 1924, the Tories refused, and understandably so, since they had a lot to hide. It took seventy-five years to determine that "the letter" was in fact counterfeit.

The Tories are again acting as if they have something to hide. It is déjà vu. Will it take seventy-five years to get at the truth? Are there any honest British cops, judges, civil servants ready to reveal the truth?

There is other evidence to suggest that the British narrative on the Salisbury incident is bogus. The London Metropolitan Police have sought to prevent any outside contact with the Skripals. They have taken away a recovered Yulia Skripal to an unknown location. They have until now denied Russian consular authorities access to a Russian citizen in violation of British approved consular agreements. Is there any chapter of international law, which the British government now respects? British authorities have denied access to Yulia Skripal's family in Russia; they have denied a visa to Yulia's cousin, Viktoria, to visit with her. Are British spooks grooming Yulia, briefing her to stay on the Tory narrative? Is she being manipulated like some kind of Manchurian Candidate? Have they induced her to betray her country in exchange for emoluments, a new identity in the United States, a house, a BMW and money? Are they playing upon her loyalty to her father? Based on a statement attributed to Yulia by the London Metropolitan Police, it begins to look that way . Or, is the message, sounding very British and official, quite simply a fake? The Russian embassy in London suspects that it is. What is certain is that British authorities are acting as though they have something to hide. Even German politicians, amongst others, have criticised the British rush to indict Russia. Damage control is underway. Given all the evidence, can any person with reasonable abilities to think critically believe anything the Tories are saying about the Salisbury affair?

"They are liars. And they know that they are liars," the late Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz once wrote: "And we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying ." Mahfouz was not writing about the British, but all the same, he could have been. Are not his well-known lines apposite to the present government in London?

The Tories are trying doggedly to maintain control of the narrative. Stakes are high for if it eventuates that the Tories have lied deliberately for political gain, at the risk of destabilising European, indeed world peace and security, the Tory government should be forced to resign and new elections, called. Then, the British electorate can decide whether it wants to be governed by reckless, mendacious Tory politicians who risk to provoke war against the Russian Federation. © 2010 - 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org . The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Also by this author Michael Jabara Carley Professor of history at the Université de Montréal. He has published widely on Soviet relations with the West What Poland Has to Hide About the Origins of World War II The Canadian Prime Minister Needs a History Lesson The Russian V-Day Story (Or the History of World War II Not Often Heard in the West) Why Canada Defends Ukrainian Fascism Lament for Canada Sign up for the Strategic Culture Foundation Newsletter Subscribe


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© 2010 - 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org . The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. <div><img src="https://mc.yandex.ru/watch/10970266" alt=""/></div>

[Jan 11, 2020] What About "Whataboutism." by Vladimir Golstein

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... One of the most elementary moral truisms is that you are responsible for the anticipated consequences of your own actions. It is fine to talk about the crimes of Genghis Khan, but there isn't much that you can do about them.' ..."
"... 'If Soviet intellectuals chose to devote their energies to crimes of the U.S., which they could do nothing about, that is their business. We honor those who recognized that the first duty is to concentrate on your own country.' ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Wikipedia – the most popular source of information for most people – boldly announces:

"Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. It is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda Prominent usage: Soviet Union propaganda."

Perusal of recent mainstream articles adds one more dimension to the story. Not only everything negative is habitually associated with Soviets and Russians, unless of course, it is Iranians or North Koreans, when the equation has frequently been reversed.

If something negative occurs: Cherchez La Russie.

Mass media bias against President Trump has been observed on numerous occasions, but what is particularly fascinating about this negativity is a persistent desire to paint Trump with the Russian brush.

So it is hardly surprising that Trump has been turned into a practitioner of Russian "Whataboutism," allowing Washington Post to declare triumphantly: "Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump."

The article elaborates:

What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Benghazi? .. What about what about what about. We've gotten very good at what-abouting. The president has led the way. His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President Trump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic."

The WaPo article by Dan Zak goes even further and explains the reasons behind Trump's embrace of Russian Whataboutism. It is moral relativism, you see. It is a ploy of tyrannical regimes, which intend to divert attention from their crimes:

That's exactly the kind of argument that Russian propagandists have used for years to justify some of Putin's most brutal policies," wrote Michael McFaul , former ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration. .. "Moral relativism -- 'whataboutism' -- has always been a favorite weapon of illiberal regimes," Russian chessmaster and activist Garry Kasparov told the Columbia Journalism Review in March. "For a U.S. president to employ it against his own country is tragic.

Viewed from the historical perspective, all this is blatantly false.

It is the democratic systems that need propaganda, spinning, and other soft-power weapons. It is the democracies that rely on one party blaming another party for its own transgressions. It is the liberal economic structures that need to promote one brand of toothpaste by denigrating another brand.

"Whataboutism" is an integral fabric of Western society, as both its business and political models depend on comparing, contrasting, diverting attention and so on.

Soviets, who had difficulty obtaining even one kind of toilet paper, did not need the commercials that claim that the other brand leaks more. Soviet leadership that relied primarily on the power of the gun didn't need to spend time and effort and hone its skills in the art of maligning another party.

In other words, Soviets, and consequently Russians, are plain amateurs when it comes to "whataboutism." When their government felt the need to resort to it, they would do it rather sloppily and amateurishly, so that the people would just laugh it off, as the endless political jokes testify.

Soviets were forced to resort to it during the time of Cold War, however, when there was a real competition for the hearts and minds of several European countries such as France and Italy, where post-war sympathies for Communists were running strong.

Needless to say, the Soviets were beaten soundly. The arguments that American freedoms were worse than Soviets because of American racism did not really work for Europeans, who preferred their Louis Armstrong to Leonid Utesov and their Jackson Pollock to Alexander Gerasimov. In the battle between Georgy Alexandrov's Marion Dixon of Circus (1936) and Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939), Ninotchka won.

That's why I find it extremely ironic and peculiar that these methods of "whataboutism," these lines of reasoning that have pervaded the Western news coverage to the core, have been magically turned into a signature method of Soviet Propaganda.

Equally ironic is the fact that any attempt to question Western hypocrisy, spinning, and relentless brainwashing is deflected by a silly counter-attack: this criticism is nothing but "whataboutism," the favorite activity of Russians and other moral relativists and denizens of illiberal regimes.

Additional irony, of course, lies in the fact that Russians are the most self-critical people that I know. That's the one thing they truly excel at – criticizing themselves, their state, their people, their customs and their political system. It is another irony that the information the West habitually exploits in its own shameless "whataboutism" was provided to it free of charge by Russian dissidents from Herzen all the way to Solzhenitsyn and Masha Gessen.

There is rarely an article in the mass media which, while addressing some ills of modern society, doesn't refer to the evils of Gulag, Stalin, lack of democracy and other "ills" of Soviet life. How many articles in the mass media do we read where references to the extermination of the native population, of workers burning in their factories, of thugs dispersing protests or demonstrations, of brutal exploitation, mass incarceration, deportation of the Japanese, witch hunts, or cruel cynical wars – occur without simultaneous references to Stalin's Russia?

You complain about the lack of political choices during elections? What, you want Commies to run you life? You complain about economic inequality? What, you want drab socialism instead? In other words, instead of a traditionally defined "whataboutism," Western propaganda utilizes a slightly more subtle version revealing something bad about itself, but then rapidly switching to demonizing and criticizing its rivals.

The classic example of this approach was described by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their 1988 study Manufacturing Consent .

In the chapter entitled "Worthy and Unworthy Victims," the authors draw the comparison between the coverage of Polish priest, murdered by in Poland in 1984 and the media coverage of Catholic Priests assassinated in Latin America. Jerzy Popieluszko had 78 articles devoted to him, with ten articles on the front page. In the meantime, seventy-two religious victims in Latin America during the period of 1964-78 were subject of only eight articles devoted to all of them combined, with only one article making the front page (Chomsky & Herman, Manufacturing Consent , Pantheon Books, 2002, p. 40).

Presumably, Soviets become a subject of jokes when, instead of addressing the question of Stalin's victims, they embark on discussing the lynching of black Americans. What is worth pondering is why the United States hasn't become the subject of similar jokes when they write hundreds of articles on one death within the Soviet zone of influence while practically ignoring persistent right-wing violence in their own sphere.

"Whataboutism" is not just a rhetorical device invented to deflect criticism; the accusation in "whataboutism" leveled at anyone who defends himself from arbitrary or illogical charges is the accusation that reveals a particular set of power relations.

These accusations of "whataboutism" imply a certain inequality, when the accuser bullies the accused into admitting his guilt.

The accuser puts the accused on the defensive, clearly implying his moral superiority. This moral superiority, of course, is rather fictional, especially if we keep in mind that the Hebrew word "satan" means an accuser. Accusing and blaming others has a satanic ring to that, something that anyone engaged in accusations should remember.

You belched yesterday during dinner. You violated the laws of good table manners.

– But everybody belches!

It is irrelevant, please answer the charge and don't try to avoid it by resorting to 'whataboutism." Did you belch or not?

"Putin's a killer," Bill O'Reilly said to Trump in a February interview. "There are a lot of killers," Trump whatabouted . "We've got a lot of killers. What do you think -- our country's so innocent?"

Here, the media dismisses as "whataboutism" Trump's perfectly logical and correct answer – the one that Trump highlighted himself last week when he ordered the killing of the Iranian general Soleimaini.

Trump's answer, however, was interpreted as somehow outrageous. How dare he compare? As if only a Russian stooge engaged in "whataboutism" can suggest that Western murders and violence are not different from Russian ones.

Dan Zak, who invents a verb "to whatabout" in reference to Trump's exchange with O'Reilly, reveals another highly significant dimension of the term. Due to the abuse of the concept during the Cold War era, and due to the relentless propaganda of the likes of Edward Lucas or the former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, the charge of "whataboutism" began to be leveled at anyone who says anything critical about the United States.

You talk about US racism – you are carrying water for Soviet "whataboutists;" you talk about militarism, police brutality, wars and regime changes, or complain about the destruction of nature – you are a Russian stooge.

And God forbid you criticize failed policies of the Democrats, the Clintons in particular. You are worse than a stooge. You are a Soviet troll spitting "whataboutism," while interfering in the US electoral process.

Trump might have more faults than any of the recent American political leader. Yet, it is the charge of Russian connection and its merging with the charge of "Whataboutism" that began to highlight some sort of sick synergy: if Trump uses this trope of Russian propaganda, he has to be working with Putin. That's the tenor of all recent applications of the term in the mass media.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the Trump administration's murky ties to Vladimir Putin and his associates, whataboutism is viewed by many as a Russian import,"

opines Claire Fallon in her essay on the subject, while the title says it all: "Whataboutism, A Russian Propaganda Technique, Popular With Trump, His Supporters."

The list of publications with very similar titles can obviously go on and on.

And herein lies the most pernicious legacy of the term.

It subconsciously invokes the spirit of Joe McCarthy. And as such it is still very effective in stifling discourse, in dismissing criticism, while character-assassinating dissenting voices.

Never mind that the press, as in the good old days of Father Popieluszko, is still filled to the brim with endless stories of Russian discrimination of the gay community, of Chinese abuse of the Uighurs, or the absence of new and old freedoms in the countries that Pentagon classifies as adversary.

To complain about the lack of balance and the biased focus would be engaging in "Soviet Style of Whataboutism," wouldn't it be?

Vladimir Golstein, former associate professor at Yale University, is currently Chair of the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University.


Charlotte Russe ,

US propaganda has been quite effective. After all, isn't it merely the merchandising and selling of ideas. So why wouldn't a hyper-capitalist country be extremely effective at using words and images to control behavior. That's how multibillion dollar corporations stimulate consumerism. They convince the public to buy goods and services they don't really need. So why not use those same marketing skills to impart ideological beliefs.

Essentially, isn't that how the notion of "exceptionalism" became rooted in the American psyche, establishing a rationale to pursue a slew of military misadventures. And think of the ingenious propagandist who invented the idea of "spreading democracy" via bombs, drones, and bullets. For decades this secured public consent for innumerable military escapades.

However, the arrival of Trump changed everything. He unwittingly forced the US propaganda machine to stumble and fumble with contradictory messages disassembling the control mainstream media news once happily secured over the entire population.

In desperation to avoid building political consciousness the US state-run media neglected to attack Trump exclusively over reactionary policies, but misguidedly warmongered against Russia for more than three years. Liberal media accused right-wing Trump of being a Russian asset a tactic used more than half a century ago by McCarthyite Russophobes to discredit the Left. Perhaps, the silliness of this propaganda could only produce "lackluster" results consequently never gaining substantial traction among the working-class.

The security state ultimately loses its ability to control the population with sloppy propaganda–they just tune it out. Americans are becoming similar to their Russian counterparts who just assume that all mainstream media news is contrived and not to be believed.

George Mc ,

I thought the reference to the Wiki article was a piss take until I went direct to the source. I see no logical connection between Russia or indeed any country and the rhetorical device of "whataboutism". But it seems the mighty omniscient Wiki says otherwise. Yes – and there's Trump getting a prominent place in the Wiki entry. Is every entry in Wiki geared to the current demands of propaganda? What next I wonder? How about:

Willem ,

I first read about whataboutism at Chomsky's website. I thought Chomsky made a very good definition at the time, so I looked up what he actually said and thought of quoting him here. Well his definition is typical for Chomsky where he says some truthful things, which he immediately buries under a pack of lies

Chomsky on whataboutism:

'CHOMSKY: One of the most elementary moral truisms is that you are responsible for the anticipated consequences of your own actions. It is fine to talk about the crimes of Genghis Khan, but there isn't much that you can do about them.'

That is correct. But unfortunately for the professor, he is not devoid of a little whataboutism himself, where he continues to say that

'If Soviet intellectuals chose to devote their energies to crimes of the U.S., which they could do nothing about, that is their business. We honor those who recognized that the first duty is to concentrate on your own country.'

Then Chomsky buries this whataboutism with another lie saying that:

'And it is interesting that no one ever asks for an explanation, because in the case of official enemies, truisms are indeed truisms.'

Which isn't a truism at all, but apparantly all official enemies of the US are, by definition enemies of Chomsky.Then Chomsky continues by saying that

'It is when truisms are applied to ourselves that they become contentious, or even outrageous. But they remain truisms.'

Not necessarily so, but it's close enough to pass for truth when discussing whataboutism. After which Chomsky adds another lie, i.e., that

'In fact, the truisms hold far more for us than they did for Soviet dissidents, for the simple reason that we are in free societies, do not face repression, and can have a substantial influence on government policy.'

I mean, that is just so much bullshit that I do not even know where to start. For instance Solzjenitsyn, SU greatest dissident, wrote his books in the SU, the Russians didn't like it, and they let Solzjenitsyn go to Switzerland where he become famous and a millionaire, a Nobel price winner, everything that money could buy. He returned to Russia in 1990 and was lauded by amongst others Putin himself and died peacefully in 2008.

'Free society', bollocks: most of us have the freedom to watch the show that others play on their behalf and toil, 'no repression': tell that to Assange, 'substantial influence on government policy': quite difficult when most of the government's decisions are faceless.

This type of lying by Chomsky just goes on and on and I am amazed that I hadn't seen through it the first time I read Chomsky.

Worst is his hypocrisy where professor Chomsky, the worlds best known 'dissident', whose books are sold at airports, who received grants from the MIC to work on linguistics, and who became a millionaire by airing his convoluted views that are not what they are supposed to be (ie dissident), dares to write in the same interview that

'Elementary honesty is often uncomfortable, in personal life as well, and there are people who make great efforts to evade it. For intellectuals, throughout history, it has often come close to being their vocation. Intellectuals are commonly integrated into dominant institutions. Their privilege and prestige derives from adapting to the interests of power concentrations, often taking a critical look but in very limited ways.'

I mean that is just Chomsky writing about himself, but pretending a whataboutism about all those other bad intellectuals.

Interview: https://chomsky.info/2003____/

Jack_Garbo ,

Chomsky's an example of the establishment "pet intellectual" who quietly rages against his master. Youthful dissidence, he found after a few police beatings, is a fool's game, noisy, bloody and futile. Better to growl from a safe distance, repeat the obvious with clear logic and wallow in unearned respect.

lundiel ,

According to a 2019 Gallop poll 40% of American women under 30 would like to leave the US.

Given the economic burden forced upon south/central american countries by the land of the free, it's understandable that America has net migration.

If you up sticks and move to another country it becomes survival at any cost. However, a lot don't make it and return home .if they can afford to.

lundiel ,

When you move to a racist, nationalist country, you have to spend every opportunity thanking them for taking you and congratulating them for allowing you to work yourself to death so you can pay the mortgage on your shed home.

Estaugh ,

Calm doctor, calm, you will wake up Napoleon in the next ward https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnzHtm1jhL4

Gall ,

Many of them are economic refugees who come here after B-52s have turned their country into a parking lot or the elite of other countries who were caught selling out their nations and enriching themselves or those that actually believed the PR that the USG actually gives a flying phuk about "freedom and democracy" propagated by the child molesting perverts in Pedo Wood.

There are also a number who have specifically come here to get even and who can blame them?

Dungroanin ,

What about the 'Russian influence' report not published by Bozo The PM?

& while I'm here

What about the Durham investigation into Russiagate which also seems to have disappeared from imminent publication over a month ago?

Hmm – wasn't it Kruschevs staffers who admired the US propaganda / Perception Management advertising/PR industry by saying in Russia nobody believed the Russian propaganda because Russians knew that's what it was; but all westerners swallowed it and rushed out to buy ever 'better' washing powders, poisonous foods and products without realising they were being lied to.

Steve Hayes ,

What about US violations of international law?
What about US wars of aggression?
What about US regime change operations?
What about US lying propaganda?
What about US murderous sanctions?
What about US funding, arming and training of jihadist terrorists?
What about US funding, arming and training of fascist terrorists?
What about US threats and intimidation of the International Criminal Court?
What about US exceptionalism, which mirrors nothing so much as the Nazi ideas of ubermensch and untermensch?

richard le sarc ,

In Trump and Pompeo you see the evolution of a new type-the Ubumensch.

Gall ,

Just like to add: What about the genocide of the Indigenous population? What about all those broken treaties? What about all the lies?

[Jan 11, 2020] WATCH Sacha Baron Cohen is Wrong About Everything OffGuardian

Notable quotes:
"... The irony is that Cohen's "humor" if one can call it that is inherently racist propaganda since it typifies stereotypes. ..."
"... "hatred" and contempt, which bears all the marks of being affected: the intellectual as tough guy. An intellectual being someone with a passing acquaintance with the dominant culture and the cheek to pass it off as knowledge. ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Have you seen Sacha Baron Cohen's latest character? He's masquerading as a person who wants to preserve free speech by censoring free speech, and as usual his audience is lapping it up. The only problem is, this isn't a joke and he's not acting. Find out why Sacha Baron Cohen is wrong about everything (including his own comedy) in this week's edition of #PropagandaWatch.

James Corbett breaks down Sacha Baron Cohen's speech to the Anti-Defamation League, where the veteran actor and comedian touched on a lot of important (and predictable) talking points.


Gary Weglarz ,

One can only assume that in the interests of objectivity and in resisting all forms of "hate" that Cohen will reprise his – "throw the Jew down the well" – audience participation skit somewhere in Israel next, maybe say in downtown Tel Aviv, or even in a settler community. There the skit could appropriately morph into leading a bar full of Israeli's in a rousing rendition of – "throw the Palestinian down the well," or perhaps a more generic "throw the Arab down the well," or depending upon the audience and its level of intoxication, maybe "shoot the Palestinian medic in the head," or "break the Palestinian child's arm with a rock," or other variations on such topical popular themes.

Maybe he could then show this new "comedy" video about the "existence of hate" at the next AIPAC conference as a consciousness raiser in an effort to fight against the hate and racism that all apartheid states are subject to. Then again, I think perhaps not – though one must admit it would make for some rather amazing and consciousness raising theatre – would it not?

Dungroanin ,

On the etymology of Cohen/Khan (etc) that has been mentioned in some comments – it is interesting.
One originates from a Priest class and the other from a Chieftain class. Theres is no genetic connection supposedly . Although central Asia connected a lot of peoples.

Interestingly Imran Khan PM of Pakistan, a Pashtun did seem to have an arranged marriage with a jewish princess, which was dissolved after there was progeny and before he gained his high office – not bad for a mere sportsman!
There are stories, apocryphal perhaps, that the great Priest/Chief Kissinger referred to him as 'our boy' who should be looked after as he progressed to his current high office.

Just mentioning out of curiosities sake. Khan is my cricketing hero as Cohen was once a comedy hero – until he tried his shtick on an elderly Tony Benn, but was bested by that great socialist. Not had any time for him since.

Antonym ,

Some Cohen recently calls for censorship? Big deal. Mo hamed called for censorship of other religions plus destruction of their idols and adherents in CE 630 but 1.5 billion adults are still stuck in that same track in 2020. Enormous oil and gas reserves were discovered and extracted from below their ignorant feet by Western Science and the Sunni ones are under the protection from the two Atlantic Anglo mercenaries who want to keep others mum about this (islamophobia).

To distract various sheep from this pact they have the bogey of "big bad" (actually minuscule) Israel, which they will keep alive for that purpose.

Only people who can actually count know the numbers of Muslims vs Jews today plus the wealth of oil & gas reserves vs the income from Facebook and some finance wizardry .

richard le sarc ,

In the West it is not the number of adherents, but the number of 'Binyamins' passed to the corrupt political scum that counts. Honestly, your undifferentiated Islamophobic hatred is SO very Talmudic, but you are hiding your even greater hatred of Christians, are you not. As a good Talmudic you hate Christian 'idolators' far more than Moslems, particularly your 'cousins' the Wahhabists. That's why your Orthodox brethren spit on priests, and urinate and expectorate on Churches in Israel at every opportunity. And pray to God every day for nor making them a goy or a woman. Such lovely people.

Harry Stotle ,

The 'thin edge of the wedge' metaphor is one of the important principles that usually crops up when discussing the kind of censorship Sacha Baron Cohen calls for (and lets at least be honest enough to call a spade a spade because we are talking about censorship here).

I mean if we are not careful we could have the police labelling certain forms of scientific discourse as extreme, presumably in an attempt to shut down those who do not see eye to eye with Scotland yards bungling detective, Inspector Lestrade?
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51071959

And it goes without saying that if a journalist reveals war crimes they are likely to be tortured by the British authorities while the MSM and political class, perhaps with the exception of Chris Williamson turn a blind eye.

So without a variety of different platforms how would people know about Nils Melzer's blistering take-down of the amoral actions of our very own, war loving government, for example – not to mention the abysmal behaviour of their lackies in the MSM.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/10/assa-j10.html

Estaugh ,

Not my idea of a comic; cynical, unfunny, sadistic, macabre. Give me Benny Hill any day. If it is hollow laughs your after, go to Nutyahoo; remember his Iran N-bomb sketch? A real scream. Dick Cheyney and the anthrax sketch?; Ha ha bloody ha! Spaffers latest in the HOP, (regarding the murder of Solemaini), sure bought the House down. Maybe a few 'jokes' on homeless, the starving, the infirm, to harden your hearts and darken your minds, will aid you in the effort to continue existence in this "normal society."

George Cornell ,

And the never-to-be-forgotten subhuman empathy of Barbara Bush, opining that the black folk residing in the Astrodome, after having been made homeless after Hurricane Katrina, had never had it so good.

Now there's a kneeslapper! One vignette is all you need for many people. Do you think that has anything to do with the Americans refusing to count Iraqi casualties when they invaded? They never had it so good?

George Mc ,

I apologise in advance for the vagueness of the following – but I recall a time perhaps twenty years ago when there was a commemoration week about the Holocaust. There were tons of programmes and documentaries about it on TV – and of course I recall Mr Blair turning up for the big church service looking appropriately humbled. One of the programmes shown was, inevitably, the mammoth four hour docu "Shoah" and I daresay the Schindler movie had yet another outing.

However – in amongst all this mainstream stuff was a curious little one hour documentary which queried the whole issue – not disputing its existence but querying the constant emphasis on it with respect to other atrocities. And this is where I have to be vague – since I can't recall the name of the programme or of any of the participants. But the general consensus in this programme was that the Holocaust had such a high profile because it happened long ago and far away and – more to the point – it was someone else's fault. One woman said, after emphasising that she didn't mean to be facetious, that the Holocaust is "a good story" in that it had the perfect villains, the most pitiable victims and, of course "we" were the good guys. A guy spoke disparagingly about the constantly repeated "lessons to be learned" asking, "What are those lessons? Don't vote for Hitler? Don't kill six million Jews? Those are banal statements". The point was definitely made that the Holocaust was being used to trivialise and even cover up other crimes.

I mention this to say that there's no way this programme would have been shown nowadays. It would have been ignored. And, if it managed to get some publicity somewhere, the makers would have been ostracised in the press.

wardropper ,

To be fair, the crucial lesson to be learned is how big atrocities always have small beginnings, and the phrase, "nip it in the bud" might apply more than ever today – except that it's already too late. Pelosi refused to impeach Bush/Cheney, and western civilization has decided to allow thieving corporations to govern it.

norman wisdom ,

look up churchills autobiography

cannot remember how many books it was certainly more than 4.

thousands thousands thousands of pages.
find old copies

spend weeks reading and scanning
please upload the sections on the shoa or holocaust

old books are great sometimes you find them with pages ripped out especially history
funny that

richard le sarc ,

The turning of the Nazi Judeocide into a quasi-State religion throughout the West has been quite an achievement. It is used to justify every crime by Israel and rogue Jews (they do exist, along with the saints!)often as diversionary tactic (class 'whataboutism'), or directly, as was attested by Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Scheper-Hyphen is a highly regarded US medical anthropologist. She researched human organ trafficking some years ago, and discovered that the international trade is dominated by Israelis. And many, doctors and nurses included, told her, directly, that they saw their activities as 'restitution' for the Nazi Judeocide, which implies that the idea had been passively or actively transmitted in their ranks as a justification for an odious, but lucrative, practise. Just why poor Moldovans and the like were chosen to make restitution for Nazi crimes is beyond me. Naturally, when reports of Israeli, and Diaspora Jewish involvement in the human organ trafficking business became known, they were first vilified as 'blood libels', then disappeared TOTALLY, in the familiar fashion.

Gall ,

The irony is that Cohen's "humor" if one can call it that is inherently racist propaganda since it typifies stereotypes.

Yet I'd be the last one to suggest that he be censored but merely pointing out that like a double edged sword censorship can cut both ways depending on those wielding it whether it be Hitler's Germany or the ADL. They are just two sides of the same coin to mix metaphors.

wardropper ,

My solution is never to mix politics and humour. There IS no funny side to today's politics beyond the infantile hope that Trump's, Johnson's, or Nettie's pants might fall down when they give their next major speech.

BigB ,

Just to confirm: the prevailing mood is that we are so anti-censorship that the 'silicone six' – including Zuckerberg – can carry on amassing suprasovereign cyber-power – that ends any vestige of democracy – totally unchecked? And the 'intelligence superiority' vehicle of the CIA known as Alphabet/Google is beyond reproach? That the proliferation of unconfirmed opinion – unrelated to any fact – on any topic – including paedophilia – is a good thing? Are you fucking mad? Because that is what unmoderated 'free speech' content amounts to. Virtual insanity.

Take the Cohen Fetish out of the picture and actually consider the issues of the "ideological imperialism" the "silicone six" tech companies and their hold on humanity. Especially young and vulnerable humanity. The unfettered proliferation of any view whatsoever is a high-speed conduit to the gibbering, drooling, virtual-Windows-licking, locked-in institutionalised neoliberal Endtimes of humanity. To which people are literally addicted. Kids actually get sick if the cannot be connected through a device to their displaced digitised avatar lives. 'Cos the world beyond the digital encoded spectacular distraction has nothing much to offer and is barely worth living in.

There is actually a recognised disorder – Internet Addiction Disorder – very similar to other addictions (right down to the neural scans – it actually changes brain function AND structure) including the withdrawal symptoms. And you want Zuckerberg to have access to addicted enfeebled minds and shape them? Because FB can and did manipulate moods just by changing or removing 'likes'. Never mind the matter of all that data they hold on the unwary.

The internet is changing the way we relate: and not in a good way. It grew out of (D)Arpanet: and is well on its way to becoming a global community of control with the connectionist qualities of Skynet. It is not a space for freedom and never was: it is here to encode and enslave. Look where much of the seed funding came from in Nafeez Ahmed's piece linked below. And it is definitely not a space the big-tech oligopoly of the "Silicone Six" should monopolise. But that is what it is here for: an alternative connectome that's the singularity of the hypertext encoded mind.

So slag off Cohen: but think about where the totalised interconnection and manipulation of enfeebled minds leads with the infinite capacity to say anything about anything and have a global platform to do so. Is that a world you want to live in? Me neither.

lundiel ,

What on earth are you on about? There is censorship across the board in MSM and social media that has been growing year on year and is now justified by "fake news" and "conspiracy theorists". It's the reason this site exists, most of us were banned from posting opinion elsewhere. "Enfeebled minds" my arse, you don't have to engage with what offends you.

BigB ,

Young enfeebled minds. No one even considered there might be any merit in what was said jumping to the conclusion they were led to. Corbett isn't right about everything. In fact: he is very wrong about quite a lot but let's not go there.

Do you really consider that the silicone six are anything but ideological imperialists? Of course they are. The headline "SBC is wrong about everything" and the big red "WRONG" are misleading or perhaps leading. I asked people to consider the alternative: not jump to conclusion. How very imperial of me?

I asked people to consider what the internet and the Big-Tech companies are doing to human consciousness because the consequences will affect all of us. Have you got kids? I haven't: but I have watched a generation of tech-zombie kids turned into completely disassociated adults who are more or less bored with the Real compared to the Virtual. I've seen at least one serious accident because the young man was on the internet when he should have been paying attention to the building site.

All I wanted to point out was that the antipathy of censorship is a double-edged sword. Perhaps the unlimited proliferation of vitual-power and ungrounded opinions will lead to human freedom? In a parallel universe and separate pseudoworld: which is where many seem to want to live. Surely you can see how fucked up the internet is and how detrimental it is to humanity and human consciousness without resort to feigned outrage?

The issues are not binary black and white. The internet is symptomatic of our virtual insanity. I was hoping to get past the binary exclusive that SBC was wrong about everything. The silicone six are ideological imperialists he got that much right.

Tim Jenkins ,

BigB: excellent objectivity, though I should say first that this comment is made quite literally in a double state of concussion, exhaustion and 9 days antibiotics, after another crazy Balkan 'incident' last night: Bulgaria is a perfect example and demo. in the metaphoric sense as well, as confirmation of all that you just stated and for me personally, on the blunt end, it is very easy this morning to agree with all that you just stated.

However, the modern day failures in communications, both in Law and at the inter personal levels of private lives & our very existence in terms of recognising altered brain structures, is pre-ordained by the elites that have, in reality, ground zero interest in Real DATA , other than as a heavily censored tool with which to control the masses & more importantly, OUR Knowledge, designs & intentions, in every direction & in every sense of being, with inept programmes & corrupted algorithms, (just like V.W.) for their goals of total exploitation & arrogant domination of any team work,
by determining outcomes for pure self interest & corporate goals.

An Ex-Boeing employee summed it all up beautifully in 2017, commenting on the 737:

"Designed by clowns and supervised by monkeys",
& may I add, 'who criminally censor the real DATA !' indeed, so much so, that Todor Zhivkov's ex-bodyguard B.B. , Boyko Borisov, Bg.'s PM, can now today, (only this week in a meeting with Erdogan & Putin, discussing the South Stream pipeline), publicly declare that
"Bulgaria is Luxury".

What a complete comedy of violent errors & jokers, life has become:
critical thinking superfluous to any further evolution, by design.
My head hurts & my heart weeps for the loss in communications . . .
Never Censor Data, but 'they' do & the 'news' is "not news",
just corporate pure unadult erated self-interest in every sense.

Trotzdem BigB, i wish you a Happy New Year of doom & gloom, assured by the few, for the many. . . & re-insured by clowns, supervised by arrogant avaricious narcissistic monkeys.
Anybody with an appetite for peanuts & bananas up the bum, know this:
coming this year is the biggest financial watershed moment, throughout history,
with corporate time bombs & agendas laid everywhere,
at every level of society, you will surely see:
and your abject failures,
in critical thinking & math,
(let alone communications),
will be exposed & bite you so damn hard, I will laugh 🙂 more than ever.
I give up with the warnings, since the 80's,
based on direct first hand Knowledge & Real Data.
UCorporate Sovereign Clowns ?
(not you BigB 😉 )
R.i.P. Alexander Zakharchenko, who according to wikipaedo jokers, was "a Russian government effort" "to try to show the West that the uprising was a grassroots phenomenon", in reality,
all engineered by Silverbacks !
How utterly primitive . . . Gorillas in the mist & pissing,
over all communications.
See the steam or the meme of American dreams ?
Yanks go home & stop dreaming of US exceptionalism.
The biggest 'joke' ever for humanity ! Study Prison Data !
Oh, & Fuck Boyko Borisov, a complete scientific moronic puppet thug:
Kowtowing is for cowards and Boyko is truly a coward & cuckold.
USA's dream partner on the Balkans.

Dungroanin ,

Well BB , i sortta like your newish tune for the new year.

"asked people to consider what the internet and the Big-Tech companies are doing to human consciousness because the consequences will affect all of us."

Well you asked nicely enough – so let me add a bit of grist to the mill. You will no doubt use your big brain to incorporate it into your evolving narrative, i hope.

It is more than Human Consiousness that we are talking of here – it is machine.

When that machine conscious goes 'sentient' and becomes self motivated and capable of evolving and physically moveable – that is when we humans 'evolve' past this current long age too.

We are small gods who are creating actual gods – suprahuman if you will – they will be able to think faster, expand knowledge and technology faster and hopefully treat us and our planet better than some of us have done of the Earths totallity of Life. They will consider mere humans as just grass or ants or their primitive forebearers- Hopefully kindly. Like we do pets.

We are approching the age long thought out by some of our best imaginations. The Sci-Fi age of Cyborgs and Hyper Intelligence.

Keep evolving! It's the Planets and sentient lifes only hope for the unimaginable future ages.

Gary Weglarz ,

Given this performance for AIPAC, one must assume Mr. Cohen would approve of Paypal's censorship of Grayzone for daring to challenge MSM narratives on Iran with their reporting – err, rather I mean – "their conspiracy theories"

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/01/09/paypal-blocks-donations-iran/

Harry Stotle ,

'We "slaughtered" Jeremy Corbyn, says Israel lobbyist'
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/we-slaughtered-jeremy-corbyn-says-israel-lobbyist?fbclid=IwAR0OcO0EG-a4ciAsyvHE-xsoltjgHqCkWzeLhJhn2eGWnkew23bFlchoViE

Looks like information wars are hotting up – may explain why Sacha is calling for selective forms of censorship?

Gary Weglarz ,

Thanks Harry, another article I've now saved to a pdf format for the "archives" – since as one observer has put it – "reality itself has now become a 'conspiracy theory.'"

richard le sarc ,

One cannot watch Borat without being shocked by the sheer hatred of others that drives it.

bevin ,

"hatred" and contempt, which bears all the marks of being affected: the intellectual as tough guy. An intellectual being someone with a passing acquaintance with the dominant culture and the cheek to pass it off as knowledge.

We are after all talking about "The Queen Mother's favorite TV comic." It is a bit like asking Dick Francis to reform the United Nations. Or Dame Margaret Hodge to defend poor people.

wardropper ,

Or you could find it funny on its own comedic terms, and then consider reality as an entirely separate issue. That's what I do.

I mean, is John Cleese's "funny walk" funny just as a walk, or because it is done as a City gent with bowler hat and umbrella?

Here's another example, where Spike Milligan offended SOME British Pakistani people by referring to their fondness for curry and their headgear, but in the unlikely context of a dalek's mundane home life. Context is crucial here, since being brought up when Dr. Who's daleks were a scary new thing, and knowing that Milligan himself had the traumatic experiences of WW2 behind him, makes this "cosy" family scene surreally funny. If you know nothing of that background, then the sketch is meaningless, and that's where the temptation to find racist undertones comes in.
https://youtu.be/C0n88tZQc4Q

richard le sarc ,

What else do you expect in a country, and in the West in general, totally controlled even to the point of 'thought crime' by Judeofascists, Zionists and the Sabbat Goy stooges?

Capricornia Man ,

Australia's "opposition leader" recently told a conference of his Labor Party's Chifley Institute of the damage that "the media" were doing to democracy. His target? Facebook. No censure, apparently, of the damage done – not least to the ALP – by Murdoch's empire which owns/controls 70 per cent of the nation's print media. Some "leader".

richard le sarc ,

Adipose Albo is the end-stage of the descent of the ALP into the very pit of irrelevancy. Now just another neo-liberal (they boast that it was they, under millionaires Hawke and Keating, who introduced neo-liberalism, here known, tragi-comically as 'economic rationalism', to the country)party serving the Bosses first, last and always, not even pretend 'Green' anymore, groveling to the USA, Sinophobic to the point of derangement, and loving Israel to the outer limits of devotion. In forty odd years they went from a giant, Whitlam, surrounded by other moral and intellectual heavy-weights, to a rabble of opportunists believing in nothing but the power of money, the universal lubricant. Oppose Murdoch-they haven't got the guts for it.

Capricornia Man ,

Sums them up perfectly. They don't lack the courage of their convictions – because they have none.

Charlotte Russe ,

Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedian and writer with a net worth of $130 million, he's the British equivalent of Ellen Degeneres a security state lapdog deployed to rehabilitate war criminals like George W. Bush. Cohen, another lackey cleverly uses his celebritydom as a "liberal" comedian to gain public acceptance for internet censorship. This is not to spare the public from
anti-semitic howlings, but to "eliminate" points of view challenging Western imperialist policies in the Middle East.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL work hand in glove to suppress attacks against Israel. In fact, the ADL was one of the first organizations to call on Congressional leaders to take action against Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar for invoking the anti-Semitic trope of "dual loyalty" when referring to members of AIPAC. The real objective of the ADL is to gather U.S. support for Israel. Sacha Baron Cohen is a wealthy neoliberal shill for the Israeli Government, and the British/US security state.

http://bostonreview.net/politics/emmaia-gelman-anti-defamation-league-not-what-it-seems

richard le sarc ,

The ADL is one of the largest private spying agencies in the USA. They collect information on millions guilty of 'opposing the Jews' in any way. It was they who provided the surveillance on Martin Luther King that J. Edgar Hoover used to blackmail King and urge him to commit suicide.

Charlotte Russe ,

In the past, the ADL were considered a right-wing operation. Checkout the link in my original post. Here's another interesting article from 1993 entitled: "New Details of Extensive ADL Spy Operation Emerge : Inquiry: Transcripts reveal nearly 40 years of espionage by a man who infiltrated political groups." Many famous celebrities are security state assets, and work for the Orwellian-style Ministry of Propaganda.

Gall ,

ADL and FBI have had a symbiotic relationship right from the very beginning. Also a little known fact is that many members of the Masonic organization known as the B'nia B'rith that founded the ADL were slave holders and racists.

This becomes obvious when one reads the transcripts of Leo Frank's trial who tried to discredit the witnesses against him by pointing out that they were black.

Frank by the way was the Executive Director of B'nia B'rith in Atlanta. Another little known fact was that he and B'nia B'rith first tried to frame the murder on the completely innocent night watchman who reported the crime who just happened to be black.

BigB ,

Hold on with your binary judgments: Cohen makes some very good points (to a very biased audience it's true) before drawing some very bad conclusions. The very worst people to adjudicate moral right from wrong are the ADL, the recuperated NAACP, or the government any government. I had to look up Masnick's Impossibility Theorem: which I found to be self-evidently true. But I was aware of another Impossibility Theorem – Arrow's – that correlates it. There is no inherently unbiased way to estimate the Common Good. Letting a small but very vociferous group – like the ADL – have undue influence over the potentiality of censorship is a dreadful idea. But the totally unmoderated proliferation of fact free and prejudiced opinions – given virtual space to breed like bacteria – is an equally terrible solution. Popper's 'Paradox of Tolerance' also has to be considered: lest we become subsumed by intolerance.

https://medium.com/the-politicalists/karl-popper-john-rawls-the-paradox-of-tolerance-f7d9a74a5a86

So this is perhaps an 'impossibility' conundrum with no positive outcome? Are we at Rawl's point of no longer tolerating the intolerant? Will 'no-platforming' act as an accelerant to actually catalyse the rise of fascism? James tacitly showed 'the answer' – which is is a turn away from digitised virtual to face-to-face actual human relations. Where we all self-censor for the Common Good. Which is the basis of all true socialism: shared work; shared ownership of the means of production; shared ownership of property (except personal property); shared responsibility; etc. Which, along with Arrow's Theorem (which challenges the assumption that democracy is inherently 'fair') – entails smaller, localised, holarchic and heteronomous relations and units of organisation. It is a fundament of globalisation: the autonomisation of prejudiced fact-free opinionated bias. And with it: the virtual social relations and organisation around opinion – that gave rise to social media. Entailed by the economics of opinion and the politics of the opinionated.

Humanity has a serious problem: itself. Or more literally: its-Self. The self is pathological opinion. The virtual self is freed of many extant social norms to become a virulent socio-pathogenesis – if allowed. The self is a narrative construction that we fashion out of self-confirmation biases to be the best socially acceptable and valuable (social capital; social currency) confection of representations of representations that conform to appearance. The apparition of being is appearing to be. I'm not talking about social media. I'm talking about the social ground of vapidity that social media is the technocracy of.

What is perhaps more scary is that it is not just social media that is ungrounded and proliferating prejudice from fact-free virtual avatars of mediocrity and loneliness – it is the whole of bourgeois society the Spectacle (which is already 50 years old and long predates even the internet). And we can draw a line of flight back 150 years of the Fetish of the self – as the socially-transferable and transactable 'universal equivalent' money-form – right back to Marx. And the subjectification of human virtual object relations did not start there.

In a bourgeois society: the self is ungrounded and autonomised in a set of make-believe social relations which are all inherently prejudiced, fact-free, independent of reality, and deeply unconscious. So the fact-free censor the fact-free and the prejudiced censor the prejudiced? Unless we can turn away from this and toward a more direct 'face-to-face' de-commodified and de-monetised set of human relations organised around authentic and meaningful experiential cooperation and 'means of life' economics then the dark-gravity cyber-blackhole of emptiness and loneliness at the heart of globalised and digitised human virtuality will continue to expand and proliferate prejudice. And the only thing that can slow it is the bourgeois prejudiced.

Shut the internet down and return to more socially instantiated relations is actually among James' repertoire of solutions in his expanded ouvre. But anarchy is unpopular. That is because capitalism colonised the entire planet with its virtual inevitability and digital desirability by obscuring humanities true relationship with the environment. We mimic nature to enfold ourselves in nature at a human-scale of affordability on natures budget and finance terms: not our bourgeois imaginary ones.

In the meantime: pass the image of the fair-trade popcorn.

bevin ,

".. the totally unmoderated proliferation of fact free and prejudiced opinions – given virtual space to breed like bacteria – is an equally terrible solution."

Leaving aside the obvious point that the "unmoderated proliferation of opinions" is obviously a contradiction in terms, we are left with the ancient wisdom that some authority ought to be entrusted with moderation duties. I think we have been there before.

Gall ,

Yes it seems by "free speech" is "freedom for me and not for thee". The cover for their actual objective has become as transparent as Saran Wrap which is basically to control the narrative especially regarding the state of Israel's genocidal actions against the Indigenous population just as it was getting teleSur delisted for exposing the genocide occurring in South America under various Neo-Liberal regimes there.

BigB ,

The only capable moral authority is our own. Freed from any authoritarian overpower. Including financialised commodity exchange. It's a pretty standard anti-capitalist critique.

Just about a month ago you were raving for us to re-constitute a neoliberal globalist imperialist state. Which I also happen to think is a terrible idea the epitome of unfreedom. I clearly stated there is no solution: so why suggest one? I merely pointed out Cohen stated some self-obvious truths and the simple binary that he was all "WRONG" is itself wrong.

So are you saying that the silicone six are not ideological imperialists? Because I find that to be self-obvious too.

bevin ,

" Just about a month ago you were raving for us to re-constitute a neoliberal globalist imperialist state. "
Or, in more accessible language- urging people to support Corbyn in the General Election.
The nonsense that this was "to re-constitute a neoliberal globalist imperialist state" added to the fact that you warned against it, presumably leads us to the conclusion that the reconstitution that you feared has not occurred.
" I clearly stated there is no solution: so why suggest one? "
I'm very sorry. Look after yourself and steer clear of bourgeois philosophers.

BigB ,

You seem very naive about how power is constituted. I did explain it all at the time. The vote validates the entire neoliberal power structure: not just the national one. The national legislature is a bureaucracy and government of occupation. Power is suprasovereign and resides 'offshore' as a global governance architecture. Clearly globalisation, World System Theory, Postcolonialism, Dependency Theory, and Ecological Unequal Exchange all passed you by?

The world in which one man can change the power structure does no exist. Particularly one man who was complicit. In your own description the Labour Party was two thirds neoliberal, Zionist, and imperialist. Ergo: by your own calculus you urged that we empower the neoliberal Zionist imperialists. How is that working out?

In actual fact the election returned the Trump/Johnson and Pompeo/Raab axis at the core of neoliberal capitalism. So please do not lecture me on politics. Your political acumen is in returning the global neoliberal power structure and legitimating its existence. All I have ever tried to do is delegitimate its existence.

All philosophers are bourgeois: with very few exceptions. If you ever switch sides and join the anti-capitalist ranks: you might want to check out the exegesis of Marx I have been recommending. Fighting neoliberalism by voting for it is spectacularly naive: as I pointed out to you and Phillip. Look where it has got us.

I can't bring the whole of Critical Theory and the Continental Tradition to life in a comment. But where I am coming from has its roots in a new reality. That makes no sense to the old. Every category of knowledge from the old 'ontotheological' Western Tradition is wrong. Most of it is contraindicated by the latest research and science. And yet we insist reality is created by the Cartesian subject and bring everything within the gaze of its duality with the mind-independent objective world. This is a monumental category error which constitutes a cascading categorisation error across the entire institutionalised power and knowledge system. In effect: it is totally invalidated from its Foundation and Essentialism upward. Which results in a 'disembodied' institutionalised reality and bourgeois neoliberal political economy – even by your own logical calculus. One that is killing us: in case you have yet to notice.

There are no reformations or alterations. They are all exhausted. A new higher order reality emerges as an Aufhenbung – one that contains the old but supervenes it at the same time. I do not expect people to understand. But that is where we are at. The new emerges from the old before the the old confines and cuts us off from reality completely. Validating the old structures and strictures is all that is preventing this. The new reality is already here: just as we stop imposing our old, timeworn, and mutually assured destructive ways of being on it. And it is built on pure socialism and ecology: which, BTW, is also the only survivability option we have.

bevin ,

" The vote validates the entire neoliberal power structure: not just the national one. "
No it does not. Votes do various things depending upon the historical circumstances in which they are cast.
Underneath the name dropping and the ex cathedra pomposities most of your screeds are simply crude ad hominem attacks on people such as Corbyn and, in the present case, me.
There is, for example, no evidence at all to sustain this gratuitous insult:
"Clearly globalisation, World System Theory, Postcolonialism, Dependency Theory, and Ecological Unequal Exchange all passed you by?"
Nor is there any indication that you have understood any of them.

Then there are statements of this kind
"you might want to check out the exegesis of Marx I have been recommending. Fighting neoliberalism by voting for it is spectacularly naive: as I pointed out to you and Phillip. Look where it has got us."
Well, where has it (voting) got us? A case can be made for abstention but it would be impossible to argue seriously that posting comments on this site could be described as a serious attempt to enrol support for it.

"I can't bring the whole of Critical Theory and the Continental Tradition to life in a comment. But where I am coming from has its roots in a new reality. That makes no sense to the old. Every category of knowledge from the old 'ontotheological' Western Tradition is wrong. "
In other words ' you wouldn't be able to understand what the authors of the books with which I claim to be acquainted think. Suffice it to say that they are very clever and reject, in my view, all knowledge amassed before they started scribbling."
Predictably enough, just as your initial contributions concluded with a suggestion that a person such as yourself might serve as an arbiter of truth-you having considerable experience in the business- your current argument concludes with this shimmering banality
" Western Tradition is wrong. Most of it is contraindicated by the latest research and science."

Antonym ,

So be happy with types like richard le sarc shitting all over your site all the time

richard le sarc ,

And you exude delicacies of kosher comestibles, don't you antonym.

norman wisdom ,

it is antonym non entity
that walks into the house and takes an idf dump on the goyims carpet.
already

Vivian J ,

How naive we were (or rather I was) to take his 'comedy' characters at face value rather than seeing them for what they were – the products of an ardent Zionist with an agenda to mock or demonise Muslim characters (Ali G and Borat) as stupid and/or racist, a fact which gradually dawned on me. He is just doing the equivalent of what his co-Zionists in Hollywood have been doing very successfully for decades (as the late Dr Jack Shaheen so thoroughly studied and exposed in his documentary and book) – portraying the brown-skinned peoples of the middle-East (Arabs, Persians, same difference) as villains, barbarians and terrorists, with never a positive portrayal to be found (with all that entails regarding the perception management of Israel's crimes and America's wars of aggression )

Seamus Padraig ,

All of SBC's original characters symbolize the historic enemies of the Jews:

– Ali G the Brit Paki
– Borat the Slavic bumpkin
– Gen./Adm. Aladeen, the Islamic ruler
– Brüno Gerhard, the gay Austrian (get it?)

SBC always had an agenda from the start. His comedy was always first and foremost a weapon .

richard le sarc ,

His vicious portrayal of others as 'antisemites', in Borat, was one of the foulest displays of pathological psychological projection, the bedrock of his Talmudic Orthodoxy, imaginable. We hate all non-Jews, as our 'Holy' texts and behaviour make plain, so we must project our hatred of them, onto them, and claim that they ALL want to destroy us, therefore we must destroy 'them' eg the Palestinians, to protect ourselves.

Gall ,

They've been doing that to the Indigenous population for centuries beginning with the lie that America "was untamed wilderness" and that American Indians were "primitive bloodthirsty savages". Two propositions that have been proven false 1) by archeologists and 2) honest historians yet the myth continues thanks to Hollywood who obviously uses this mythology to continue the Zionist (Christian and Jewish) project of world wide genocide.

People like Cohen are basically the tip of the spear. What really upsets them is that these lies are being exposed by alternative sources that are not under their direct control.

lundiel ,

When Cohen used to pretend to be a thick, racist misogynist, Jew hater to con gullible Americans for our entertainment. It wasn't political theatre, it was base, cringe worthy humour in the way it was presented. It was something that you probably couldn't even laugh at without risking being expelled from the Labour party today. 'Being Jewish' himself, allowed him to get away with it. It's a pity that being Jewish and claiming Corbyn wasn't an anti-Semite didn't make a blind bit of difference to the totally political narrative.

jay ,

I think that the Americans in His film where just too polite not to go along with His crass nonsense SBC was being humoured.
A lot of comedians are only acting 'crass' they are not actually crass.
Sure.

lundiel ,

People take, from that kind of humour, what they will. In UK Al Murray used to do a character called Pub Landlord who portrayed ignorant racists to take the piss out of them. He found a lot of his fans wanted him to say what they thought but couldn't say in public. With Cohen, everyone was characterised, his Borat character made fun of Kazakhstanis, Cohen made fun of uneducated Americans and he used Jewish tropes with no blowback.
IMO, he should be allowed to do this but last year it became a thought crime in this country.

Martin Usher ,

Borat used unwitting Romanians -- specifically Romanian Roma -- as a proxy for Kazakhstanis. This was a novel and ingenious idea that was totally wrong on many, many, levels. Fortunately for me I don't get this type of humor, I don't find it interesting, because SBC might claim he's being self-deprecating but in reality he's reinforcing cultural and racial stereotypes. Its not smart to make fun of people without their active cooperation.

(BTW -- The people of Glod were justifiably annoyed when the movie came out. It didn't help that their village actually looks as crap as the place portrayed in the Borat movie (and nothing like typical Romanian villages.)

Gall ,

Personally I disagree with the assessment that they're acting out of "kindness". America as anywhere else has its share of racist morons that can be exploited by the media to make their kinder, gentler form of racism seem more "reasonable".

What Bertram Gross calls "Friendly Fascism".

TFS ,

Maybe SBC could go in character or not and look at the preducies/rascism of these individuals.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IDqeS157ZJQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

[Jan 11, 2020] Yellow west protests intensify. Macron offers some concessions

Jan 11, 2020 | off-guardian.org

RobG ,

French PM makes major concession to unions over pension age And by the way, what I'm saying here does relate directly to Golstein's piece above.

richard le sarc ,

Obviously the Sabbat Goy Micron will renege on any 'concessions' once he gets the opportunity-his owners expect nothing else.

RobG ,

Macron is toast, as are all the rest of the neo-con lunatics.

RobG ,

Paris this afternoon

https://twitter.com/afHRNikLepxHzEP/status/1216037864212967425

And Paris again this afternoon

https://twitter.com/ActionBrexit/status/1216064566544732161

Nantes this afternoon

https://twitter.com/BasedPoland/status/1216011343918174209

Lyon this afternoon

https://twitter.com/Ian56789/status/1216020790946168833

Rouen this afternoon

https://twitter.com/Ellefan_SC/status/1216042562039025665

I could go on and on with this, to try and show people what is happening in towns and cities all across France right at this minute.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is pinned-up on the wall of every Marie (town hall) in France.

Gall ,

Seems the French are Making Guillotines Great Again.

RobG ,

I don't know where you live, Gall, but believe me, they'll be coming for you next.

RobG ,

On Thursday French lawyers joined the general strike. French police prevented the lawyers from putting a motion against the French government

https://twitter.com/BasedPoland/status/1215769472268689409

Many lawyers across the country protested; this video is from Lille

https://twitter.com/ohboywhatashot/status/1215576121137422338

RobG ,

The strength of the demonstrations today in France has been stoked by events in the Middle East.

Only complete psychopaths want war, but unfortunately we are ruled by psychopaths.

Millions came out on the streets of France today and stuck up a finger to the psychopaths.

I wonder when you timid little mice in the US and UK will finally find the balls to do the same thing?

I'm not holding my breathe

Grafter ,

Yellow Vests ? No it can't be true because it's not on the BBC.

[Jan 11, 2020] The resonances with the MH17 atrocity are uncanny.

Jan 11, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Jan 11, 2020

David Macilwain ,

Your post merely adds to the feeling something very very odd has gone on here, as the resonances with the MH17 atrocity are uncanny. If the Ukrainian army had come out and admitted, in only two days, that their unit from Lviv had accidentally hit MH17 instead of the plane Putin was allegedly travelling in over the same area, then things may have been very different. But of course they didn't, and didn't need to, as fighter jets had done the job for them anyway. On the other hand, had the Separatists trying to defend the population from Kiev's air campaign from fighter jets and military transports accidentally hit MH17 they would have been the first to admit it. Those claiming they were responsible, before Higgins concocted his silly story, admitted that it would have been a "tragic accident" – as Morrison has described this latest crash – but soon started blaming them. Talk of Kiev being partly responsible for allowing MH17 to fly, off course, over an active war zone, also went unheard.

But of course the two events are not the same, and not connected, or are they?

Did the Ukrainian plane have its transponder turned on? Was it the first plane to leave Tehran following the Iranian missile volleys? Would a cruise missile have been launched from Afghanistan towards the firing site in Kermanshah, passing over Tehran? What went on in the control tower of Imam Khomeini airport?
Nothing is clear yet, except "cui bono".

[Jan 11, 2020] DISCUSS Iran Admit to Shooting Down Ukrainian Passenger Flight OffGuardian

Jan 11, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Editor

(Photo by Akbar TAVAKOLI / IRNA / AFP)

Earlier today, President Rouhanie of Iran formally admitted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet leaving Tehran a few days ago.

Speculation has been rampant, but here are the alleged facts of the case, at this time:

In the early hours of the 8th January, Iran launched missiles at two US-occupied bases in Iraq. This was done in retaliation for the death of General Qassem Soleimani. Ukraine Airlines flight PS 752 departed Tehran airport on 8th January. Three minutes later it crashed. There were 176 passengers/crew on board. Mostly Iranians, Ukrainians and Canadians. Within hours, Western media were quoting anonymous "Iraqi intelligence officials" that Iran had shot the plane down "likely by accident". The US State Dept, and their proxy NGOs, echoed this theory. A great rundown of who said what and when can be found on Moon of Alabama . Despite at first denying these accusations, the Iranian government has since admitted to "accidentally" downing the plane. Their statement can be read here (or here in the original Farsi). Iran claim the missiles were launched by an individual who was out of radio contact with his commander and "panicked" upon seeing the fast-moving object on radar. Response to the admission has come from many world leaders. Justin Trudeau called for "further investigation", Vladimir Zelensky demanded Iran take "full responsibility", whilst Boris Johnson called it "an important first step". The US has already announced further sanctions. Reports are already coming in of "unrest" and "protests" in the wake of this admission. The Guardian and Newsweek, among others, claiming young people especially are tired of the leadership demanding "resignations and prosecutions" (we are, as yet unable to confirm these protests took place).

So what does this mean for the region as a whole?

Will this – as Boris Johnson said – be "first step to de-escalation" in the region? Will there be extensive protests? Will Iraq now rescind their demand the US leave their country?

As always, discuss below.


Protect ,

Sabotage can take many shapes and forms. Remember when the Syrian army was fooled into shooting down a Russian surveillance aircraft with 15 people onboard?
Those imposing punitive santions and continually threatening a desstructive war must definitely be held responsible for the extreme conditions they have created.

Charlotte Russe ,

The conditional word "if" often is used to begin describing the most horrific events. If they hadn't been driving the night the other car careened into their lane; if they didn't go into that store shortly before the robbery; if they didn't go sailing during an awful storm; if Trump didn't order the assassination of General Soleimani 176 innocent civilians would still be alive; and if all imperialist wars would stop collateral murder would also end.

An Iranian Officer mistook the plane for a hostile missile and made the "bad decision" to open fire. He said he "wished" he "was dead" when he learned about the downing of the aircraft. There were 82 Iranians aboard the Boeing Jet.

Most on the plane were graduate students from Canada. I was not aware that Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora, with some 210,000 citizens of Iranian descent.

"The country is also a popular destination for Iranian graduate and postdoctoral students to study and conduct research abroad, which is why many students were on the flight, returning to university following the winter break.

There is also no direct flight between Canada and Iran, and the Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran to Kiev and then to Toronto is popular because it is one of the most affordable options for the journey."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51053220

KneelB4Zod! ,

Not mentioned before – and it is another reason why I still consider that the incident is not just human error but sabotage: In 6 months embargo on weapon sales to Iran will expire and the country will be able to buy S-400, Iskanders or fighter jets. Quite good reason to awake sleeping agent

Philpot ,

Are the Integrity Initiative hard at work on here?

David Macilwain ,

Your post merely adds to the feeling something very very odd has gone on here, as the resonances with the MH17 atrocity are uncanny. If the Ukrainian army had come out and admitted, in only two days, that their unit from Lviv had accidentally hit MH17 instead of the plane Putin was allegedly travelling in over the same area, then things may have been very different. But of course they didn't, and didn't need to, as fighter jets had done the job for them anyway. On the other hand, had the Separatists trying to defend the population from Kiev's air campaign from fighter jets and military transports accidentally hit MH17 they would have been the first to admit it. Those claiming they were responsible, before Higgins concocted his silly story, admitted that it would have been a "tragic accident" – as Morrison has described this latest crash – but soon started blaming them. Talk of Kiev being partly responsible for allowing MH17 to fly, off course, over an active war zone, also went unheard.

But of course the two events are not the same, and not connected, or are they?

Did the Ukrainian plane have its transponder turned on? Was it the first plane to leave Tehran following the Iranian missile volleys? Would a cruise missile have been launched from Afghanistan towards the firing site in Kermanshah, passing over Tehran? What went on in the control tower of Imam Khomeini airport?
Nothing is clear yet, except "cui bono".

Dimly Glimpsed ,

Matt,

Have you considered the arguments and evidence which show the BUK missile in the MH17 case came from the Ukranian government-controlled battery?

Also, from what I can recall, the Americans and NATO countries routinely lie about everything. Mike Pompeo, the American Secretary of State, for example, in a April, 2019 speech at Texas A&M, made the following statement about the CIA:

"I was the CIA Director – We Lied, We Cheated, We stole".

Trump lies so routinely that lying is now becoming normalized in American society.

The "Allies" appear to be lying not only about MH17, but also about the Skripal case, the charges (backed up by lies by the U.N. agency OPCW) that Assad used sarin and/or chlorine in Douma, that Huawei technology is insecure because there are hidden back doors (true of Cisco with CIA back doors, but no one can prove any exist in Huawei), etc.

Perhaps you recall that the "Allies" launched a war of aggression against Iraq, based on the false charge that Saddam had nuclear weapons, and backed up by a sloppy and juvenile "sexed up dossier" that Tony Blair's government used as justification, and lies such as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassdor claiming that Saddam's soldiers threw babies out of incubators.

Perhaps you recall that the USA used illegal chemical weapons such as white phosphorus in its extermination of the civilian city Fallujah during the American attack on Iraq. Perhaps you are aware that the "Allies" hide and deny Israel's proven use of white phosphorus on the captive Palestinian population, along with using the Palestinians as human shields and killing unarmed Palestinian women and children targeted intentionally by snipers.

If your interest is an objective view of matters, the hopefully you'll consider the track records of the players involved. Iran has invaded no other country in hundreds of years. The US is the world champion of invading other countries, and Britain and France have disgraceful histories of colonization and genocidal crimes against native peoples, as does America and other members of the "Allies", including Australia and Canada.

I could go on, and on, and on. The "Allies" are much more guilty of killing and lies than Iran.

As you may know, the CIA has assassinated a number of country leaders, including several in South America, by bombing planes. Rumor is that is what the CIA had planned for Evo Morales, which is why he fled to Mexico, knowing the USA and traitors in the Bolivian army were planning just such an assassination.

I'm also having a bit of difficulty recalling many lies by the Iranians. On the other hand, from mere recollection alone, I could keep typing for yours adding to a list of lies I do recall by America and the Europeans, many of which were coverups of bloody insurrections, assassinations and murders.

Bottom line: I don't trust anything America or the Europeans say. They are biased, have a track record of lying, and have a history of unclean hands. The Iranians, on the other hand, have a much better record in all those areas.

Paul ,

It was the same in Iran back in 1953 with the sudden appearance of angry and armed 'anti a Communists' protesting the government, winding up the political time bomb. It cost the State Department a lot of money – although not as much as spent on the Shah! Later these mercenary protesters, often special forces types seeped in brutality upped the PR with flowers and colours as symbols. In other places, where they faced serious opposition they reverted to the dirtiest of tricks involving snipers creating havoc, as in Kiev in 2014. Something similar seems to be happening in Hong King and Tehran but then did anybody expect the Empire to roll over?!

Brian Steere ,

I don't see reason to doubt this. A suspicious mind can conjecture – but why would Iran admit this unless they verified that it happened?

If combatants are killed in the line of duty it is part of the risk of combat.
When civilians are killed in error it is tragic.

War and fear of attack are extremely dangerous. 'Friendly fire' so called, is not uncommon.

In this sense the token 'revenge' has backfired.

But the full facts may not be known.

KneelB4Zod! ,

As I wrote, it's strangely convenient for the hegemons. Now Trump even tweets in Farsi, supporting Tehran protest.

I have no doubt that the plane was downed by Iranian missile. But was it an error? It's not outside of realm of possibilities that it was a sabotage. Mole withing air defense unit nearby Tehran's civil airport.

Under the current circumstances it's less damaging for Iran to take responsiblity for the tragedy then admit that the internal security was severely breached and infiltrated by hostile forces.

Jack_Garbo ,

As has already been stated, the Iranian attacked on two US bases was not the "revenge" for Soleimani's assassination, but a show of 1. Iranian tactical ability (warned first, no casualties), 2, the beginning of revenge for Soleimani and others killed by the US presence. It has only begun.
Don't think like a (short-term) Westerner, but like a long term Easterner. The US will eventually be driven out, the Iranians will them them good-bye.

KneelB4Zod! ,

Considering the fact how convenient the whole airliner incident is for the hegemons I still have doubts if it was just human error.

Pompeo tweeting support for Tehran protest which follows today's announcement. British ambassador arrested amid participation in it. It pseaks loud imo

JudyJ ,

If the footage of the missile striking the plane is genuine, I remain unclear as to why someone would have been, it would appear, randomly pointing a phone camera at a black night sky on the outskirts of Tehran at 6.30 in the morning and, by sheer coincidence, caught the moment of impact. The way the camera was being aligned would suggest the person behind the camera was anticipating a particular event and was eager to capture it on film. Maybe I'm being unduly suspicious. Of course we don't know for sure that the footage in question was indeed genuine.

Mike Leach ,

I don't think there's any such thing as 'unduly suspicious' in the present state of the world.

Derek ,

Iran claim the missiles were launched by an individual who was out of radio contact with his commander and "panicked" upon seeing the fast-moving object on radar.

More than one missile was launched so is it not possible that's why the person was filming?

Loverat ,

One thing I think I mentioned on another thread as cynical as it is, this plane possibly might have been shot down deliberately by Iran. If you think about it, this event has distracted and possibly taken the 'sting' out of the main event. And of course if the West knows the plane was shot down by Iran deliberately it could have been a message not to retaliate for the air base attack. Iran admitting it accidentally shot down the plane might take some of the force out of my argument/ possible theory but then again this might be an effort to take out the 'secondary sting or risk of retaliation. Hope that makes some sense!

Let's face it, there are other states aside from US and UK might create or stage 'events'. As for demos in Iran, can't really see why this would be a major issue for Iranians, or if so likely to be significantly talked up by Pompeo and extremist war rags like the Guardian.

But who really knows at this stage?

Martin Usher ,

Actually, it ruined what should have been a perfect response. I honestly thought their air defenses were more sophisticated than they were, in particular that there was a level of coordination between individual units and a command and control center that could verify whether a threat was real or not. We can speculate about whether this event was engineered or not but as far as I'm concerned its a screwup of the same order as the Vincennes incident. (The only different being that the Iranians didn't have a news crew taping 'our boys' in action while they paniced and overreacted.)

Sad as this is I don't think it will happen again. Needless to say we in the US will make as much political capital about it as we can but then its our job.

[Jan 11, 2020] People vs money

Notable quotes:
"... It all depends on what the penalties are. Confiscation of hidden assets would chill that behavior, strike one. Loss of the privilege to conduct business with federal and state entities would also chill such behavior, strike two. Finally, for persistent violations of the cap, loss of citizenship and expulsion form the country, three strikes and you are literally out, would be the ultimate penalty. ..."
"... The United States is actually both a federation (hardly unique by the way) and a representative democracy. Whether you call them members of Parliament or members of Congress, their representatives are elected by the people. ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

apacheman -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 23:32

Excuse me?

Huge numbers of people who disagree with me and don't share my particular beliefs are not sociopaths, nothing would stop them from running or holding office, and I've no problem with that.

Are you arguing that sociopaths have an inalienable right to hold office, even though they will inevitably use that office to aggrandize themselves at the expense of everyone else, and could spark a general war just for their own enjoyment and to gather yet more power to themselves?

THAT I'm not ok with, are you?

DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> apacheman , 7 Jul 2018 21:12
How do people who don't share your beliefs get represented if you rig the system to exclude them? People unlike you are sociopaths? It isn't even tempting. Your cost benefit study benefits you. The world is destabilized if your guys don't get in? No surprise.
HauptmannGurski -> Aseoria , 7 Jul 2018 20:26
I know, and Bush I was head of the CIA. Strange that one matters and the other does not.
Sisyphus2 -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 20:05
Love this line: "the gig economy combined with record debt and astronomically high rent prices cancel out any potential economic stability for millions of people."

The under-employment rate is also very informative. People working less hours or in lower positions than their investment in education should have returned to them. They are working, but not enough to be able to independently sustain themselves, which makes them insecure in variety of ways.

Aseoria -> ildfluer , 7 Jul 2018 19:52
Do you think the interpreters might turn out to be agents, or perhaps even assassins, from other governments? Or maybe everybody will be knocked out with fentanyl gas at dinner. In the dining room.
Aseoria -> consumerx , 7 Jul 2018 19:47
Typical Good-Cop Bad-Cop from here in the vaunted "Two-Party" system of the USA gov
Janaka77 -> petersview , 7 Jul 2018 19:05
I like the way the Republic of Ireland puts strict restrictions on political spending for their elections - including their presidential elections.
apacheman -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 19:02
1. It all depends on what the penalties are. Confiscation of hidden assets would chill that behavior, strike one. Loss of the privilege to conduct business with federal and state entities would also chill such behavior, strike two. Finally, for persistent violations of the cap, loss of citizenship and expulsion form the country, three strikes and you are literally out, would be the ultimate penalty.

The alternative, continuing to allow unlimited wealth accumulation will ultimately destroy democracy and end in a dictatorship nearly impossible to remove without massive casualties. Is that preferable to trying to control the behavior of wealth addicts? Make no mistake: billionaires are addicts, their uncontrollable addiction to more is an extreme form of hoarding dysfunction, one that, like all uncontrolled addictions, has had disastrous consequences for everyone but them.

3. Fewer Representatives means you are concentrating power rather than dispersing it. More means smaller districts, which in turn means more accountability, not less. As it stands now, Congresscritters can safely ignore the wishes of the public, because when someone "represents" nearly a million citizens, it means they actually represent only themselves. If taken in conjunction with item #2, more citizens would be invested in the political process and far more likely to pay attention.

4. The Hare test is a standard written exam that is difficult to cheat. Getting caught at cheating or attempting to cheat would mark one automatically as a sociopath. The latest studies of brain structures show that sociopaths have physically different brains, and those physical differences are detectable. Brain activity as shown by fMRI also clearly marks a sociopath from a normal, since while they can fake emotional responses very well, their brain activity shows their true lack of response to emotionally charged images, words, etc. Using a three-layer test, written>fMRI>genetic should be robust enough to correctly identify most. The stakes are too huge to risk a set of sociopaths and their lackeys control of the machinery of government. The genetic test is the most likely to give problematic results, but if the written is failed, the fMRI would then be done to confirm or reject the written results, while the genetics would be a supplementary confirmation. Widespread genetic testing of politicians and would-bes would undoubtedly advance research and understanding dramatically.

When you do even a casual cost-benefit study, the answer is clear: test them. Ask yourself: is the thwarting of an individual's potential career in politics really that great a cost compared to preventing unknowingly electing a sociopath who could destabilize the entire world?

Janaka77 -> scotti dodson , 7 Jul 2018 18:55

Another big difference of course is a little thing called the law.

Are you under the impression the British don't have rule of law? Their elected representatives make their laws, not their ceremonial royal family. Their royal family's job is to abide by the same laws as every other UK citizen, stay out of politics and promote British tourism and gossip magazines.

Janaka77 -> Ben Groetsch , 7 Jul 2018 18:15

The United States is actually a federal republic, not a democracy.

The United States is actually both a federation (hardly unique by the way) and a representative democracy. Whether you call them members of Parliament or members of Congress, their representatives are elected by the people.

WillisFitnurbut -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 17:57

If we move the cheap manufacturing to the US, and wages are lower due to a depression, people will take the jobs, and the job numbers will improve. And China will be toast.


We will never beat China at manufacturing cheap and efficient products using human labor. Robotic labor maybe, but that might not happen for a decade or more at least--if they or another country doesn't beat us to retooling our factories.
Labor and manufacturing will never return in the US--unless we have another world war we win, in which all global production is again concentrated in the US because the rest of the worlds factories are bombed to rubble. Besides, they have the most central location for manufacturing in the world and a cheap source of endless labor.

What they don't have is innovation, tech and freedom to try products out on a free market. We are squandering those advantages in the US when we cut education and limit college education to the masses.

memo10 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:48

The system is not crooked,

Are Americans the most immoral people on earth? I don't think so. Do we have the strictest code of laws on earth? I don't think so either. Yet we have the highest incarceration rate on earth. Higher than authoritarian countries like China & Russia.

This alone should tell you something is wrong with our system. Never mind the stats about differing average sentences depending on race & wealth.

WillisFitnurbut -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:42
Doubt implies a reason behind the wrong, where uncertainty implies an unknowing trait--a mystery behind the wrong.

The right, what with all its fake news scams, deep state BS and witch hunt propaganda, is uncertainty at best, a mystery of sorts--it provides us with a conspiracy that can neither be proved or unproven--an enigma.

Doubt, about if Russia meddled in the US election in collusion with the president or at the least his advisors, surely implies something is wrong, especially in the face of criminal charges, doubt is inherent and well intentioned, but not always true and can be proven false in the face of doubt.

Byron Delaney -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 17:00
At one time the US was agrarian and one could subsist via bartering. Consider reliance on for-profit healthcare, transportation systems, debt, credit cards, landlords, grocery stores, and the lack of any ability to subsist without statewide and nationwide infrastructure. Right now, people in the US already die prematurely if they can't afford healthcare. Many are homeless. And this is when things are better than ever? What will happen here is what happened in Europe during WWII. People will suffer, and they will be forced to adopt socialist practices (like the EU does today). People in Europe really did starve to death, and people in India, Africa, and other countries are starving and dying today. China doles out food rations because they practice communism. That's why they have cheap, efficient labor that serves to manufacture products for US consumers. Communism and socialism help American corporations big time.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> kmacafee , 7 Jul 2018 16:51
Citizens United is a First Amendment decision. Which part of the First Amendment do you want moot? What gives any government the right to decide which assemblies of citizens have no free speech rights?
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:47
Doubt is everybody's political currency.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 16:46
You are aware, I imagine, that the US can adjust its money supply to adapt to circumstances? We can feed ourselves. We have our own power sources. We can improvise, adapt, and overcome. Prices go up and down. No big deal. Scaring people for political gain doesn't have the clout it onvce did.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> tjt77 , 7 Jul 2018 16:40
Are you opposed to people deciding who moves across their nation's borders?
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> Elephantmoth , 7 Jul 2018 16:38
Open Secrets Top Donors, Organizations.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 16:35
Too many virtue signalers seem to think that only the innocent are ever convicted.
The system is not crooked, but if you can set up a better one that doesn't bankrupt every community, have at it.
DeltaFoxWhiskyMike -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:29
You really, really, really like screaming racist, don't you? And slide in a Godwin. Wow. The concept that black pastors would be negatively impacted by financial attacks on their churches never ever occurred to you, did it? You get off on pretending to care about people that you have no direct, routine connection to. How virtuous of you. Wouldn't deliberately harming black churches make you the racist storm trooper?
Byron Delaney -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 16:08
Violence will break out when credit cards stop working. Can't even imagine what will happen if people are starving. No problem in a socialistic country like Finland, but a big problem here. My guess is that Trump knows the economy is hanging by a thread, so needs to create an alternate reason (trade wars). Or he figures he might as well have a trade war if it's all going to pieces anyway. Of course China manufactures just about everything for the US. If we move the cheap manufacturing to the US, and wages are lower due to a depression, people will take the jobs, and the job numbers will improve. And China will be toast.
WillisFitnurbut -> Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 15:49
Don't forget as the Trump trade war heats up and China decides to sell off US bonds en-masse (they own 1.17 trillion in US debt). That's gonna put a hurt on the already low US dollar and could send inflation soaring. China could also devalue its currency and increase the trade deficit. Combine those with all the things you've pointed out and you've got financial troubles the likes of which no large government has ever dealt with in human history.
Starving people--China can handle in droves; not so much the US. We're talking nasty violence if that kinda stuff happens here.
Melty Clock -> happylittledebunkera , 7 Jul 2018 15:43
True, but the POTUS is a head of state and the PM is not, so there's a limit to how far we should take comparisons.
WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 15:05
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
Byron Delaney , 7 Jul 2018 15:02
Occupy Wall Street began due to income inequality when the worst effects of the Great Recession were being felt by the population. Wealth inequality has only increased since then.


Right now, the population is held at bay because the media and politicians claim that the economy is so incredibly hot it's overheating. But we know that's a lie. For one, the gig economy combined with record debt and astronomically high rent prices cancel out any potential economic stability for millions of people. This year, 401(k) plans have returned almost nothing (or are going negative). This was also the case in 2016. Savings accounts have returned almost nothing for the last decade (they should be providing approximately 5% interest).

The worker participation rate today is 3.2% below what it was in 2008 (during the Great Recession). The US population, meanwhile, has increased by approximately 24,321,000. That's a 7.68% increase. The labor force has increased by 5% during this time (unemployment rate was relatively similar, 5.6% vs 4%). From June 2008 to June 2018, the labor force increased by approximately 8 million. However, if the worker participation rate was the same now as it was then, there would be approximately 8 million more people in the labor force. If you add 8 million people to the current number of people who are counted as unemployed by the BLS, the unemployment rate is approximately 9%. This is about as high as the unemployment rate got during the depths of the Great Recession, right when Occupy Wall Street was born.

Now, OK, sure, the economy has REPLACED lost jobs, but it has not ADDED jobs for the last decade. The unemployment rate is false. It should be at least 8%. There's many millions of Americans who do not have steady, gainful employment - or any employment - and they are not counted.
The billionaires and their bought politicians are responsible for fixing this. They can fix it and should fix it. Otherwise, the economy and their profits are going to fall off a giant cliff any day now. The next recession has basically already begun, but it can still be alleviated. If things continue as they are, unemployment could be 16% by 2020, with the U6 measure approaching or exceeding 25%. If stocks drop enough, people may starve to death.

kmacafee , 7 Jul 2018 14:11
Who supported Citizen's United? All cons and republicans

Who supports campaign finance reform and legislation that would make Cititzen's United moot? Democrats and progressives

Really tired of the false equivalencies. Republicans are now the polar opposite of Democrats in policy and principles. Vote Blue this November and get rid of the republicans; every single one of them. It can be done if people get out and vote.

memo10 -> apacheman , 7 Jul 2018 14:10
1. Anything is possible but I don't think this is practical. The rich can just cheat on the definition of ownership, pass it around between family members, offshore it, sink it into their businesses in token ways, etc. When you try to take wealth (power) away from the most powerful people in the country they will start devoting SERIOUS resources to getting around it.

3. I'm not saying we need fewer people doing congress's job in total. But we should be electing fewer of them, and letting those fewer people do more hiring/delegating. The way things are now, most of the public only knows much about the president. Everyone else is mostly just a vote for a party. But if the country only voted for 50 Congressmen in total - or even fewer - then we would all have a more careful eye on them. We would know them better and see them more individually. They would have less pressure to toe the party line all the time.

4. As long as there's a written test then it will get cheated. Right now the testing is rarely given and the specific consequences don't determine powerful people's careers. Make it a widespread & important thing and people will learn to cheat it.
The genetic + fMRI research is interesting but the whole thing opens up serious cans of worms. We're talking about DQ'ing somebody from an important career based partially on the results of a genetic screening for a character trait. That's a dangerous business for our whole society to get into. Although I do realize the payoff for this specific instance would be very big.

apacheman -> memo10 , 7 Jul 2018 13:34
1. Why do you think that? Using teams of forensic accountants and outlawing secret accounts would go a long way towards increasing enforceability. But you are viewing it as a legal problem rather than a cultural problem. If an effective propaganda campaign aimed on one level at the public and another level at the billionaires, it could work. Many billionaires are already committed to returning their fortunes to the economy (mostly after they are dead, true). Convince a few and the rest will follow. Give them the lure of claiming the title of the richest who ever were and some would be eager for that place in history.

Anything can be done if the will is there.

2. Income taxes are just a portion of the federal revenues, ~47%. Corporate taxes, parkland fees, excise taxes, ~18% taken together and Social Security make up the rest. Revenues would increase as taxpayers topped off step amounts to keep control. The beauty of it is that Congress would see very clearly where the nation's priorities were. Any politician trying to raise fines so that they had more money under their control would soon find themselves out of office. Unpopular programs would have to be financed out of the 18%, and that would likely make them increase corporate taxes. But most importantly, it would cut the power of politicians and decrease the effectiveness of lobbyists.

3. Actually, we have too few, not too many. The work of governance suffers because there is too much to be done and too few to do it. Spreading the workload and assigning responsibility areas would increase efficiency. Most importantly though, it would break up the oligarchic duopoly that keeps a stranglehold on the nation's politics, and bring more third party candidates into office giving Congress a more diverse culture by adding viewpoints based on other things than business interests.

4. Actually, advances in fMRI equipment and procedures, along with genetics and written testing can prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not someone is a sociopath, do some research and you'l see it is true. False positives in any testing regime are always an issue, but tens of millions of workers submit to drug tests to qualify for their jobs, and their jobs don't usually run the risk of plunging the world into war, economic or environmental disasters. False positives are common in the workplace and cost many thousands their jobs.

And there's an easy way to prove you aren't really a sociopath: be honest, don't lie, and genuinely care about people...things sociopaths cannot do over time.

Seriously, it is a societal safety issue that demands to be done, protecting the few against false positives means opening the floodgates for the many sociopaths who seek power over others.

WillisFitnurbut -> ConBrio , 7 Jul 2018 13:25
Not just eliminate--alter and add to it, but since it takes 2/3 majority of the house and senate to amend the constitution--it's not an easy feat--that's why there has only been 17 amendments altogether and two of them are there to cancel each other out!
You see, the beauty behind the National Popular Vote Bill is that it's done on a state by state basis and will only work when the required 270 electoral votes are gained with the bill--this means all voters would have their votes tallied in a presidential election and it eliminates swing states with a winner takes all approach. The electoral college and state control of elections are preserved and every one is happy.
I feel like you've not read up on any of this even though I provide a link. 12 of these bills have been enacted into state law already, comprising of 172 electoral votes and 3,112 legislative sponsors. That's more than halfway there.
To continue to say that changing the way we vote by altering the EC is a fantasy is in itself a fantasy because obviously it is gaining traction across the country.
tjt77 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 12:51
Which 'side' do you imagine I'm on Mike ? FYI.. Im not a member of any tribe especially regarding the republican or democrat parties... you may have noticed that as part of the progress towards a globalized economy, 'Money' now has open borders...but the restrictions of movement for people are growing as nationalism rises and wealth and the power it yields, becomes ever more concentrated in fewer hands...this is a dangerous precedent and history repeats if lessons of the past are not learned.
I can well recall when humanity and the ability of the individual to attain freedom and liberty based upon the merit of the individual was once celebrated.
What really irks me and causes me to voice my opinion on this forum, ( thank you Guardian for your continued efforts at informing us all and especially for promoting participation) is how easily people are duped .. when 'others' can easily see that they are being lied to. My parents fought for freedom and liberty against vicious tyranny in Europe and paid a HUGE price..by the time the scales had tipped the balance towards fascism, it was far too late for anything other than all out war... the fact that they survived the required sacrifice to pitch in to protect democracy, and the freedom and liberty which comes with it, still seems miraculous..
Gary Daily , 7 Jul 2018 12:20
Billionaires on the left should put some of that money into paying for and distributing subscriptions to newspapers and magazines which live up to the standards of professional journalism. These papers should be made available, free, at high schools, colleges, libraries, and commercial centers of loitering and "neighborly" discussions. May I suggest the NYT, WP, The Guardian, and The Economist.
ConBrio -> WillisFitnurbut , 7 Jul 2018 12:16
The "fact" that there have been 700 attempts to eliminate it should tell you that in all likelihood the The Electoral College will continue.

Whether or not a group of states can effectively circumvent the Constitution is an open question.

aquacalc -> ghstwrtrx7 , 7 Jul 2018 12:01
"What the country sorely needs is a new constitution."

No thanks! The Founders were quite a bit more intelligent than the current national 'brain trust' -- on the both sides of the Aisle -- that would be charged with writing a new Constitution.

memo10 -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:48

A defense attorney once told me that his job was one of the toughest out there because an astonishing percentage of defendants are guilty as charged.

That's true. But it doesn't excuse the crooked system whatsoever. It doesn't make the innocent poor people any less innocent.

Dorthy Boatman -> scotti dodson , 7 Jul 2018 11:36
Since when have politicians and rich people ever followed the law? And what recourse would that be exactly?
WillisFitnurbut -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:17
I like how you immediately expose your racism, right out of the gate. Haven't you got a storm trooper meeting to head out to soon?
Elephantmoth -> DeltaFoxWhiskyMike , 7 Jul 2018 11:14
Sorry I forgot the link: http://www.http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/318177-lobbyings-top-50-whos-spending-big
Sisyphus2 -> NYbill13 , 7 Jul 2018 10:41
Back to the days of Dickens, workhouses, indentured slaves, etc.

[Jan 11, 2020] American elections are a battle of billionaires. We are merely spectators by David Callahan

Notable quotes:
"... With ever deeper pockets, the rich can more easily afford to pull multiple levers of influence and many are doing exactly that ..."
"... First, the rich have gotten much richer in the last 10 or 15 years. In 2005, the Koch brothers had a combined net worth of around $9bn; now they're worth over $100bn. Mike Bloomberg has added $46bn to his fortune during this same period, while Jeff Bezos – who has been flexing his civic muscle as owner of the Washington Post and is said to be planning a big move into philanthropy – is worth 30 times more today than he was in 2005, a stunning $144bn. ..."
"... Robert Mercer is one example of an ambidextrous funder. The family foundation that he runs with his daughter Rebekah makes millions of dollars in grants to conservative policy groups every year, but Mercer was also among the top GOP campaign donors in 2016 and is also a top investor in Breitbart, the pro-Trump media site. The Mercers have been among the most powerful figures in politics in the past few years – influence that's only been possible because of Robert Mercer's success in the wildly lucrative hedge fund world. Being a star school teacher or nurse doesn't yield the same resources or clout. ..."
"... Bloomberg is another example of multi-faceted donor, on a much larger scale. In addition to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in his own political career, securing three terms as New York's mayor, he's used both charitable and political giving to push his agenda on such issues as climate change, guns and education. Now he's poised to become the biggest donor ever during a midterm election cycle. This enormous influence spending has amounted to just a tiny fraction of his net worth. ..."
"... Bloomberg's support for Democrats and causes like climate change underscores a third change in big money battles over America's future: the surge of new money from left-of-center donors. ..."
| www.theguardian.com

American elections are a battle of billionaires. We are merely spectators David Callahan Depending on your politics, you may either cheer or fear the influence of top donors. In truth, we should be troubled by it

Thu 5 Jul 2018 02.00 EDT Last modified on Thu 5 Jul 2018 02.01 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email 'Economic inequality seems to be translating into civic disparities .' Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Pull up a seat, this year's election is getting interesting.

In one corner, backing the Republican, are billionaire heavyweights like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. In the other, wearing the blue trunks, are mega-donors such as Tom Steyer and George Soros, as well as one of the richest Americans of all, Michael Bloomberg , who recently confirmed that he'll spend at least $80m to flip the House of Representatives to the Democrats – in a midterm election that will likely be the most expensive in history.

The rest of us, ordinary citizens without big bank accounts, will certainly play a role in the outcome this November. We cast the votes, after all. But more and more, US politics – along with civic life broadly – often feels like a spectator sport, as a growing array of billionaire super citizens battle it out in the public square.

The outsized clout of the rich is hardly a new story, of course. But this influence game is changing as the dollar signs get bigger and as the wealthy exert influence in more arenas using a more sophisticated array of strategies. The day before news broke about Bloomberg's vast election giving, for example, the Times reported on the successful efforts of a Koch-backed 501(c)(4) group to kill public transportation initiatives across the country.

That same week, the Walton Family Foundation – which has already helped bankroll a quarter of all US charter schools – announced another $100m in education grants. Around the same time, the billionaire activist Tom Steyer launched a new ad attacking Donald Trump that featured audio of children crying in immigrant detention centers. The ad is part of Steyer's unprecedented campaign pushing for Trump's impeachment; he's spent millions of dollars on the effort, on top of some $200m he's made in political contributions since 2014.

Depending on your politics, you may either cheer or fear the influence spending of specific top donors. In truth, we should be troubled about all such spending. Thanks to several factors, economic inequality seems to be translating into civic disparities at a faster pace and in ways that touch more parts of US society.

With ever deeper pockets, the rich can more easily afford to pull multiple levers of influence and many are doing exactly that

First, the rich have gotten much richer in the last 10 or 15 years. In 2005, the Koch brothers had a combined net worth of around $9bn; now they're worth over $100bn. Mike Bloomberg has added $46bn to his fortune during this same period, while Jeff Bezos – who has been flexing his civic muscle as owner of the Washington Post and is said to be planning a big move into philanthropy – is worth 30 times more today than he was in 2005, a stunning $144bn.

With ever deeper pockets, the rich can more easily afford to pull multiple levers of influence and many are doing exactly that, which is a second thing that's changed about the elite power game. Increasingly, top donors are simultaneously putting money into elections, private foundations that press an ideological agenda, 501(c)(4) groups and media.

Robert Mercer is one example of an ambidextrous funder. The family foundation that he runs with his daughter Rebekah makes millions of dollars in grants to conservative policy groups every year, but Mercer was also among the top GOP campaign donors in 2016 and is also a top investor in Breitbart, the pro-Trump media site. The Mercers have been among the most powerful figures in politics in the past few years – influence that's only been possible because of Robert Mercer's success in the wildly lucrative hedge fund world. Being a star school teacher or nurse doesn't yield the same resources or clout.

Bloomberg is another example of multi-faceted donor, on a much larger scale. In addition to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in his own political career, securing three terms as New York's mayor, he's used both charitable and political giving to push his agenda on such issues as climate change, guns and education. Now he's poised to become the biggest donor ever during a midterm election cycle. This enormous influence spending has amounted to just a tiny fraction of his net worth.

Bloomberg's support for Democrats and causes like climate change underscores a third change in big money battles over America's future: the surge of new money from left-of-center donors.

This shift dates back to George W Bush's presidency, when alarmed wealthy Democrats set out to reverse conservative gains. Mixing philanthropic gifts with political donations and 501(c)(4) spending, they bankrolled the creation of Democracy Alliance, the Center for American Progress, and other institutions. Since then, other billionaires have swung behind progressive causes, including tech winners like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz – who gave $27m to help defeat Trump in the 2016 election – and Steyer, who became an active mega-giver after he retired from his hedge fund six years ago.

The new money flowing from wealthy left-of-center donors, especially in response to Trump's rise, may look like a sign that American pluralism is alive and well in this second Gilded Age. Yes, public life in increasingly drenched in cash, but aren't many viewpoints getting heard as a more ideologically diverse upper class supports various causes and candidates?

Sometimes this is the case. On climate change, for example, progressive donors have helped counter the longstading might of the fossil fuel industry. Economic issues have been another story, though. Polls show that the wealthy are more conservative on such issues, which explains why very little money even from left-of-center donors goes to support work that strongly challenges inequality. Bloomberg's big give for Democrats this year is a case in point: he's made it clear that he wants to support moderate candidates, not populists from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.

The Democratic party and progressive infrastructure is heavily dependent on patrons who've thrived under America's current form of capitalism and aren't interested in major reforms to that system, however much it fails ordinary workers. In 2016, Trump filled this vacuum with his own brand of economic populism.

There's also been a lack of pluralism among wealthy donors in other areas. The Kochs are having such a big impact on transportation policy because there are few counter-weights to their money in that niche. Top donors can be especially influential in certain states and localities, where there's not a diverse pool of givers. For example, the billionaire Eli Broad has long wielded outsized influence in Los Angeles, especially on education.

There's no easy way to counter the rising power of these super citizens. Campaign finance reform would help, but influence spending now extends far beyond elections, as philanthropy has been weaponized for policy combat.

Ultimately, the best solution to the new civic inequality lies in stronger social movements that convert Americans from spectators to activists. And one of the most reassuring trends of recent years is we've seen a lot of such people power, including the Tea Party, Occupy, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

Now we need more of the same, extending to more issues and more places – especially the core challenge of economic inequality. Otherwise, it's hard to see how the United States can escape from a new era of plutocracy.

David Callahan is the author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. He is the founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy

[Jan 11, 2020] New category of Russian agents: The level of fake information in coverage of neoliberal MSM of Iranian event force people to read Sputnik and Xinhua

Notable quotes:
"... It's as if the entire capital city of the US has become a mental asylum / Hotel California ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Jan 10 2020 19:30 utc | 1

The sheer arrogance and wilful blindness expressed in the US State Department press statement and WaPo staffer Louisa Loveluck's tweets are astounding beyond belief. It's as if the entire capital city of the US has become a mental asylum / Hotel California , where one can enter but never leave spiritually and morally, though one can take many physical trips in and out of the madhouse.

Iraq definitely does need the S-300 missile defense systems. The most pressing issue though is whether the Iraqis will suffer the delays Syria suffered in acquiring those systems even after paying for them.

Time now is of the essence. Iraqi operators need to be trained in those systems. Syria may be able to supply some training but at the risk of letting down its guard in sending some of its operators to Baghdad and exposing them to US drone attacks.

[Jan 11, 2020] Sheldon Adelson the casino mogul driving Trump's Middle East policy by Chris McGreal

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Las Vegas billionaire gave Republicans $82m for the 2016 elections and his views, notably staunch support for Netanyahu's Israel, are now the official US line ..."
"... Adelson's considerable support for Republicans is in no small part motivated by what he regards as their more reliable support for the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu , which appear intent on preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state. ..."
"... Adelson gave $82m toward Trump's and other Republican campaigns during the 2016 election cycle – more than three times the next largest individual donor, according to Open Secrets . ..."
"... That commitment bought him an attentive hearing from the new administration as he pushed for the appointment of Bolton as national security adviser knowing that he would be an important ally in getting the White House to kill the Iran nuclear deal. The New York Times reported that Adelson is a member of a " shadow National Security Council " advising Bolton. ..."
"... The day after Trump announced that the US was pulling out of the Iran agreement, Adelson was reported to have held a private meeting at the White House with the president, Bolton and Vice-President Mike Pence. ..."
"... Adelson was so enthusiastic about the move that he offered to pay for some of the costs and provided a jet to fly Guatemala's official delegation to Israel for the ceremony. (The Central American country has also announced plans to follow Trump and move its own embassy .) ..."
"... "Adelson is a linchpin in bringing together the radical extremists on the Israeli right and this group of hardliners on Israel and neoconservatives," said Levy, who is now president of the US-based Middle East Project. ..."
"... He paid for a new headquarters for the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), spent $100m to fund "birthright" trips for young Jewish Americans to Israel, and funds a group opposing criticism of the Jewish state at US universities. ..."
"... In 2015 he secretly bought the Las Vegas newspaper, the Review-Journal , which had led the way in critical coverage of the billionaire's business dealings. Several reporters subsequently left the paper complaining of editorial interference and curbs on reporting of the gambling industry. ..."
"... Right now, Adelson is concentrated on ensuring the Republicans remain in control of Congress, and is pouring $30m into funding the GOP's midterm elections campaign. ..."
"... Adelson is no less active in Israel where he owns the country's largest newspaper, a publication so closely linked with Netanyahu's administration it has been dubbed the "Bibipaper" after the prime minister's nickname. ..."
"... In 2014, he told a conference during a discussion about the implications for democracy of perpetual occupation or annexation of parts of the West Bank without giving Palestinians the right to vote in Israeli elections: "Israel isn't going to be a democratic state. So what?" ..."
Jun 08, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The Las Vegas billionaire gave Republicans $82m for the 2016 elections and his views, notably staunch support for Netanyahu's Israel, are now the official US line

Sheldon Adelson has spent millions on backing Israel and attacking supporters of Palestinian rights in the US. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP In 2015, the billionaire casino owner and Republican party funder Sheldon Adelson spent days in a Las Vegas courtroom watching his reputation torn apart and wondering if his gambling empire was facing ruin.

An official from Nevada's gaming control board sat at the back of the court listening to mounting evidence that Adelson bribed Chinese officials and worked with organised crime at his casinos in Macau – allegations that could have seen the magnate's Las Vegas casinos stripped of their licenses.

The case, a civil suit by a former manager of the Macau gaming operations who said he was fired for curbing corrupt practices, was another blow in a bad run for Adelson.

He had thrown $150m into a futile effort to unseat the "socialist" and "anti-Israel" Barack Obama in the 2012 election. His credibility as a political player was not enhanced by his backing of Newt Gingrich for president.

But three years on from the court case, Adelson's influence has never been greater.

The imprint of the 84-year-old's political passions is seen in an array of Donald Trump's more controversial decisions, including violating the Iran nuclear deal , moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem , and appointing the ultra-hawkish John Bolton as national security adviser .

"Adelson's established himself as an influential figure in American politics with the amount of money that he has contributed," said Logan Bayroff of the liberal pro-Israel group, J Street. "There's no doubt that he has very strong, very far-right dangerous positions and that – at very least – those positions are really being heard and thought about at the highest levels of government."

As the 2015 court hearing unfolded, the billionaire swallowed his considerable pride and paid millions of dollars to settle the lawsuit, heading off the danger of the graft allegations being tested at a full trial.

The casinos stayed in business and continued to contribute to a vast wealth that made Adelson the 14th richest person in America last year with a net worth of $35bn, according to Forbes.

Adelson has put some of that money toward pushing an array of political interests ranging from protecting his business from online gambling to opposition to marijuana legalisation.

But nothing aligns more closely with his world view than the intertwining of the Republican party and Israel .

Adelson's considerable support for Republicans is in no small part motivated by what he regards as their more reliable support for the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu , which appear intent on preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Adelson gave $82m toward Trump's and other Republican campaigns during the 2016 election cycle – more than three times the next largest individual donor, according to Open Secrets .

That commitment bought him an attentive hearing from the new administration as he pushed for the appointment of Bolton as national security adviser knowing that he would be an important ally in getting the White House to kill the Iran nuclear deal. The New York Times reported that Adelson is a member of a " shadow National Security Council " advising Bolton.

The day after Trump announced that the US was pulling out of the Iran agreement, Adelson was reported to have held a private meeting at the White House with the president, Bolton and Vice-President Mike Pence.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Sheldon Adelson attends the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May. Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

The casino magnate also pushed hard to see the US embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – an action previous presidents had shied away from because of the diplomatic ramifications.

Adelson was so enthusiastic about the move that he offered to pay for some of the costs and provided a jet to fly Guatemala's official delegation to Israel for the ceremony. (The Central American country has also announced plans to follow Trump and move its own embassy .)

Daniel Levy, a former member of Israeli negotiating teams with the Palestinians and policy adviser to the then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, said that Adelson's money had helped resurface neoconservative policies which had been discredited after the US invasion of Iraq.

"Adelson is a linchpin in bringing together the radical extremists on the Israeli right and this group of hardliners on Israel and neoconservatives," said Levy, who is now president of the US-based Middle East Project.

The billionaire is also deeply committed to protecting Israel within the US.

An example of an anti-BDS poster funded by Sheldon Adelson. Photograph: Courtesy of Robert Gardner

He paid for a new headquarters for the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), spent $100m to fund "birthright" trips for young Jewish Americans to Israel, and funds a group opposing criticism of the Jewish state at US universities.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently revealed that Adelson funded an investigation by an Israeli firm with ties to the country's police and military into the American activist Linda Sarsour, a co-chair of the Women's March movement who campaigns for Palestinian rights and supports a boycott of the Jewish state.

Adelson also funds Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his World Values Network which published a full-page personal attack in the New York Times on the actor Natalie Portman for refusing an award from Israel because of its government's policies.

For his part, the casino magnate does not take criticism well.

In 2015 he secretly bought the Las Vegas newspaper, the Review-Journal , which had led the way in critical coverage of the billionaire's business dealings. Several reporters subsequently left the paper complaining of editorial interference and curbs on reporting of the gambling industry.

Right now, Adelson is concentrated on ensuring the Republicans remain in control of Congress, and is pouring $30m into funding the GOP's midterm elections campaign.

Adelson is no less active in Israel where he owns the country's largest newspaper, a publication so closely linked with Netanyahu's administration it has been dubbed the "Bibipaper" after the prime minister's nickname.

Personal relations with Netanyahu have soured but Adelson remains committed to the prime minister's broader "Greater Israel" political agenda and to strengthening ties between the Republicans' evangelical base and Israel.

It's not always a welcome involvement by a man who is not an Israeli citizen – not least because Adelson's vision for the Jewish state does not represent how many of its people see their country.

In 2014, he told a conference during a discussion about the implications for democracy of perpetual occupation or annexation of parts of the West Bank without giving Palestinians the right to vote in Israeli elections: "Israel isn't going to be a democratic state. So what?"

[Jan 10, 2020] The level of disinformation produced by fake news outliets controlled by intelligence agencies is just staggering. You cna't beleve a single work in politically changed fortin covergarate

They really are able to turn white into black and black into white.
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Occurs as Iran is on brink of war with USA?; 2) Indications of USA using info war tactics; 3) airliner owner by Kolomoisky? 4) No communication with tower? 5) USA and Israel history of duplicity and narrative management (example: MH-17). ..."
"... NATO has weaponized aircraft accident investigations. Lawfare in combination with state terrorism. ..."
"... The Ukies know how to obliterate a debris field. MH-17 -- They used artillery for months to keep OSCE and Dutch officials away, and despite the locals working to protect the deceased and the debris, body parts have been found years later. ..."
Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Rob , Jan 10 2020 17:46 utc | 2
There were also clear sightings of a missile to bring down TWA 800. Except it didn't. As an Navy Pilot , flight instructor and 737 captain this does not at 1st or 2nd glance appear to be a missile strike. Catastropic engine failure is my bet. They made most of the turn back to the airport before losing integrity or loss of thrust.

Good analysis.


vk , Jan 10 2020 17:52 utc | 3

US Claim of Ukrainian Boeing 737 Plane Being Hit by Missile Aims to Manipulate Stock Markets
On Wednesday, Boeing's shares plummeted by 2.3 percent ($3.4bn) after the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed in Tehran due to encountering a technical glitch.

On Thursday, the stock rose by 3 percent after unnamed Pentagon officials claimed that the Ukrainian passenger plane was most likely brought down by anti-aircraft missiles, and US President Donald Trump implicitly supported the claim. This has been read by analysists as an attempt to manipulate the stock market; a measure that would both overshadow Trump's failure in Iraq and save Boeing from bankruptcy.

Russia says no grounds to blame Iran for Ukrainian plane crash: TASS

I didn't find the article on TASS. Maybe it was in its Russian version, or in its TV/Radio/Podcast version.

I don't discard a terrorist attack from the inside, or sabotage of the plane by the Ukrainian government. What I think is missile attack can be pretty much discarded: the evidence the Iranians already have through their air control data discard any possibility, by sheer logic alone, that that was the case.

Unless, of course, the Iranians are lying. But then there isn't any cui bono for Iran to lie about it (if it was a mistake they wanted to cover, they could blame a random independent militia so as to give plausible deniability) with the technical malfunction argument, and now Russia's foreign minister Ryabkov is on the boat with it - so I don't see the cui bono for Russia either.

ninel , Jan 10 2020 17:58 utc | 4
A little guide to Iran's modern history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_executions_of_Iranian_political_prisoners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chain_murders_of_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_student_protests,_July_1999
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahra_Kazemi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_nationals_detained_in_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Iran

Perseus wore a magic cap so that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. Some of you choose to draw the magic cap down over your eyes and ears so as to make-believe that there are no monsters in Iran.

Per/Norway , Jan 10 2020 18:03 utc | 5
Posted by: ninel | Jan 10 2020 17:58 utc | 4

"Some of you choose to draw the magic cap down over your eyes and ears so as to make-believe that there are no monsters in Iran."

No, it is a lot easier than that.

Most of us dont get paid to post bs about the imperial enemies like you, and most off us still know how to use our brain.
That is it, nothing more nothing less.

PavewayIV , Jan 10 2020 18:10 utc | 6
Rob@2 - What do you make of the loss of ADS-B? Could a catastrophic engine failure take out both power buses? The ADS-B transceiver? I know a the turbine blades turn into little missile blades when they decide to leave the engine, but I have no idea of the way power is transferred when either bus or the standby goes down. I assume automatic? Are the transfer switches anywhere near the engines? Does the APU automatically fire up? I assume the ADS-B box is in the electronics bay, but where is the antenna?

karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 18:37 utc | 12
Thanks b! As I commented towards the end of the previous thread on this topic, the mundane evidence has already been shown. IMO, if a missile or bomb was employed, the Iranians would be yelling louder than anyone and the denials would be coming from BigLie Media instead of accusations. And as I answered psychohistorian, the massive coverage by BigLie media serves as narrative distraction from what's being obfuscated--casualties taken by Outlaw US Empire troops and the BDA presented by Iranian Military.

In that regard, The Saker's update sticks to the important facts of the now escalated ongoing war between Iran and the Evil Empire.


Jackrabbit , Jan 10 2020 19:11 utc | 17
Sorry, but there's good reasons to suspect foul play - as I and others have explained on the last thread.

1) Occurs as Iran is on brink of war with USA?; 2) Indications of USA using info war tactics; 3) airliner owner by Kolomoisky? 4) No communication with tower? 5) USA and Israel history of duplicity and narrative management (example: MH-17).

<> <> <> <>

Also: IMO it's dangerous for Iran to invite experts from a group of Western countries. What is likely to happen is that all the Western experts will be pressure to disagree with Iran's findings. CIA knows that people will believe the "group of experts!" over Iran.

!!

pleasebeleafme , Jan 10 2020 19:12 utc | 18
I don't know how anal Iran is about keeping track of ordinance but they must be pretty certain as to whether they downed the plane or not! Looks like they are being transparent and open. If they come out of this proving engine failure or something else then this could be a great pr coup.
There would be a lot of egg on many faces trying to explain how the intelligence is wrong yet again. I look forward to watching trudeau walk that back. Hopefully!
Gary , Jan 10 2020 19:17 utc | 19
One explanation is the Boeing was used as a human shield, a military plane hides behind a slow moving plane when detected. The ukrainians did it with the MH17 and the israeli with the russian plane and tried it with the attack on damascus. In both cases there was a lot of dis-info and blaming right away. But the iranian would have known what the target was, and mentioned it, so very unlikely.

Another question is the possibility a smaller missile only damaged the plane, also very unlikely.

Head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization Ali Abedzadeh exaggerates: "From a scientific viewpoint, it is impossible t