Sat, 17 Aug 2019 14:53:14 GMT Sat, 17 Aug 2019 14:53:14 GMT Mass Media’s Phony Freakout Over Bernie’s WaPo Criticism Is Backfiring Caitlin Johnstone

After days of ridiculous, hysterical garment rending by mass media talking heads in response to Senator Bernie Sanders’ utterly undeniable assertion that The Washington Post has displayed unfair bias against his campaign, people with extensive experience in the mainstream press who are fed up with the lies are beginning to push back. Hard.

Former MSNBC producer Jeff Cohen has published an article in Salon titled “Memo to mainstream journalists: Can the phony outrage; Bernie is right about bias”. Cohen details his experience with the way corporate media outlets keep a uniform pro-establishment narrative running throughout all their coverage without their staff having to be directly told to to do this by their supervisors (though sometimes that happens, too). He writes as follows:
It happens because of groupthink. It happens because top editors and producers know — without being told — which issues and sources are off limits. No orders need be given, for example, for rank-and-file journalists to understand that the business of the corporate boss or top advertisers is off-limits, short of criminal indictments.

No memo is needed to achieve the narrowness of perspective — selecting all the usual experts from all the usual think tanks to say all the usual things. Think Tom Friedman. Or Barry McCaffrey. Or Neera Tanden. Or any of the elite club members who’ve been proven to be absurdly wrong time and again about national or global affairs.
Cohen’s exposé follows the phenomenal segment recently aired on The Hill‘s show Rising, in which former MSNBC star Krystal Ball and her co-host Saagar Enjati both detailed their experience with the way access journalism, financial incentives, prestige incentives and peer pressure were used to push them each toward protecting establishment narratives in their respective mainstream media careers. Ball said at one point she was literally called into the office and forbidden from doing any critical Hillary Clinton coverage without prior approval in the lead-up to the 2016 election, saying that in mainstream journalism jobs “you are aware of what you’re going to be rewarded for and what you’re going to be punished for, or not rewarded for.”

“It’s not necessarily that somebody tells you how to do your coverage, it’s that if you were to do your coverage that way, you would not be hired at that institution,” Enjati said. “So it’s like if you do not already fit within this framework, then the system is designed to not give you a voice. And if you necessarily did do that, all of the incentive structures around your pay, around your promotion, around your colleagues that are slapping you on the back, that would all disappear. So it’s a system of reinforcement, which makes it so that you wouldn’t go down that path in the first place.”

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi has also jumped in to push back against the absurd denials of bias from the establishment media, publishing a new article titled “The Campaign Press: Members of the 10 Percent, Reporting for the One Percent–Media companies run by the country’s richest people can’t help but project the mindset of their owners.” Taibbi, an award-winning journalist with lots of experience in the news media industry, writes that pro-establishment narratives are advanced in mainstream press not because some explicit order is handed down by a media-owning oligarch, but because “We all know what takes will and will not earn attaboys in newsrooms.”

Taibbi writes the following:
The news media is now loathed in the same way banks, tobacco companies, and health insurance companies are, and it refuses to understand this. Mistakes like WMDs are a problem, but the media’s biggest issue is exactly its bubble-ness, and clubby inability to respond to criticism in any way except to denounce it as misinformation and error. Equating all criticism of media with Trumpism is pouring gasoline on the fire.

The public is not stupid. It sees that companies like CNN and NBC are billion-dollar properties, pushing shows anchored by big-city millionaires. A Vanderbilt like Anderson Cooper or a half-wit legacy pledge like Chris Cuomo shoveling coal for Comcast, Amazon, AT&T, or Rupert Murdoch is the standard setup.
Taibbi is correct. Trust in the mass media continues to plummet, and these stupid, nonsensical hissy fits they throw whenever criticized are only making it worse.

What cracks me up most about all this is that the faux outrage over Sanders’ criticisms of The Washington Post was completely unnecessary for everyone involved. They could have just ignored it and let the news churn bury it, but they’re so insulated in their little echo chambers that they seriously believed they could get the public rallying to their defense on this. The general consensus was something like “Ah ha! Bernie did that media-criticizing thing that we all agreed nobody’s allowed to do anymore! We’ve got him this time, boys!”

And all they accomplished in doing this was giving honest journalists an opportunity to inform the public about the insider tricks of their trade. You may be absolutely certain that the information that has been given to the public by Cohen, Ball, Enjati and Taibbi will remain in high circulation throughout the Sanders campaign in response to the increasingly shrill torrent of establishment smears, breaking the spell of mainstream media trust for all who view it.

All these damning insider criticisms of the mainstream American press are coming out at the same time a new Rasmussen poll finds that less than one third of the US population believes the story they’re being told by the corporate media about the highly suspicious death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Despite the mass media’s mad push to tar anyone questioning the official narrative about Epstein as a loony “conspiracy theorist”, only 29 percent of those surveyed reported that they believed Epstein had committed suicide as they’ve been told, while 42 percent believe he was murdered. Never in my life have I seen such a widespread and instantaneous rejection of an establishment-promulgated narrative in the United States.

This is hugely significant. The entire imperial oppression machine is held together with aggressive plutocratic propaganda; the ability of the ruling class to manipulate the way people think, act and vote is the only thing stopping the public from using the power of their numbers to force real changes and create a new system that is not built upon endless war, ecocide and exploitation. The mass media propaganda engine is now at its weakest and most vulnerable point ever, and the narrative managers’ attempts to regain control are only exposing them more severely.

Power is the ability to control what happens. Absolute power is the ability to control what people think about what happens. Our rulers are rapidly losing this absolute power.

People are waking up.

Reprinted with permission from

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The Hypocrisy of President Trump and His Administration Robert Wenzel

On Thursday, the state of Israel banned two United States congresswomen from visiting the country, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Israel cited the congresswomen’s support for a boycott against Israel. Israel passed a domestically controversial law in March 2017 which allows the country to bar entry to anyone who supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions on Israel movement.

It is, of course, Israel's business as to who they allow into the country and who they ban, and for debate amongst Israeli citizens on the issue.

That said, it is remarkable that the Trump administration issued a statement in support of such a ban on Omar and Tlaib. The statement followed a tweet by Trump encouraging Israel to issue the ban: 
I do not believe there has ever before been a case of a sitting United States president advising a foreign country to take action against elected officials of the United States government (or perhaps any citizen) based on issues relating to that country.

As I have already stated, it reflects the bully nature of Trump not bounded by sense, civility or diplomacy. There are no principles behind his actions, but there is hypocrisy.

The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, issued a statement saying that the US respects the decision of Israel. He justified the Israeli decision by saying that the "trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the [boycott movement] engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support,”

Friedman slammed BDS and said in his statement that it is “economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State.”

Yes, you read that right! An official of the Trump administration recognizes boycotts and sanctions as economic warfare that would delegitimize and ultimately destroy a nation.

Trump may not be able to intellectually defend central power, but he attempts to use it to the degree he thinks he can get away with it.

This outrage against the private BDS movement comes at the same time that the United States government has placed sanctions to varying degrees against Russia, Iran and Venezuela---and has urged countries globally to participate. Is this somehow not economic warfare designed to punish and in some cases destroy ruling governments?

How hypocritical can the Trump administration get? Its sanctions are just fine despite their hurting innocent civilians of several countries, in some cases to the point of starvation, and yet at the same time, they object to the private boycott and sanctions against Israel (which seem to have limited impact) and object to it on the grounds of economic warfare!

I repeat, Trump is a bully. He has no principles, he protects those he favors and attacks those who do not fall in line. He will twist any action as good or bad, dependent on nothing but who the players involved are and whether they are somehow a part of team Trump or not.

Perhaps we should be thankful that he is not intellectually deep and just a savvy street hustler.

Reprinted with permission from Target Liberty.]]> Sat, 17 Aug 2019 13:59:42 GMT
America’s Benevolent Bombing of Serbia James Bovard

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton commenced bombing Serbia in the name of human rights, justice, and ethnic tolerance. Approximately 1,500 Serb civilians were killed by NATO bombing in one of the biggest sham morality plays of the modern era. As British professor Philip Hammond recently noted, the 78-day bombing campaign “was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorise the country into surrender.”

Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia, intended to help ethnic Albanians seize control of Kosovo, set a precedent for “humanitarian” warring that was invoked by supporters of George W. Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq, Barack Oba-ma’s bombing of Libya, and Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria.

Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo, and there is an 11-foot statue of him standing in the capitol, Pristina, on Bill Clinton Boulevard. A commentator in the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper noted that the statue showed Clinton “with a left hand raised, a typical gesture of a leader greeting the masses. In his right hand he is holding documents engraved with the date when NATO started the bombardment of Serbia, 24 March 1999.” It would have been a more accurate representation if Clinton was shown standing on the corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the US bombing campaign.

Bombing Serbia was a family affair in the Clinton White House. Hillary Clinton revealed to an interviewer in the summer of 1999, “I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” A biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Gail Sheehy and published in late 1999, stated that Mrs. Clinton had refused to talk to the president for eight months after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. She resumed talking to her husband only when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest terms to begin bombing Serbia; the president began bombing within 24 hours. Alexander Cockburn observed in the Los Angeles Times,
It’s scarcely surprising that Hillary would have urged President Clinton to drop cluster bombs on the Serbs to defend “our way of life.” The first lady is a social engineer. She believes in therapeutic policing and the duty of the state to impose such policing. War is more social engineering, “fixitry” via high explosive, social therapy via cruise missile…. As a tough therapeutic cop, she does not shy away from the most abrupt expression of the therapy: the death penalty.
I followed the war closely from the start, but selling articles to editors bashing the bombing was as easy as pitching paeans to Scientology. Instead of breaking into newsprint, my venting occurred instead in my journal:
April 7, 1999: Much of the media and most of the American public are evaluating Clinton’s Serbian policy based on the pictures of the bomb damage — rather than by asking whether there is any coherent purpose or justification for bombing. The ultimate triumph of photo opportunities…. What a travesty and national disgrace for this country.

April 17: My bottom line on the Kosovo conflict: I hate holy wars. And this is a holy war for American good deeds — or for America’s saintly self-image? Sen. John McCain said the war is necessary to “uphold American values.” Make me barf! Just another … Hitler-of-the-month attack.

May 13: This damn Serbian war … is a symbol of all that is wrong with the righteous approach to the world … and to problems within this nation.

The Kosovo Liberation Army’s savage nature was well known before the Clinton administration formally christened them “freedom fighters” in 1999. The previous year, the State Department condemned “terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.” The KLA was heavily involved in drug trafficking and had close to ties to Osama bin Laden. Arming the KLA helped Clinton portray himself as a crusader against injustice and shift public attention after his impeachment trial. Clinton was aided by many congressmen eager to portray US bombing as an engine of righteousness. Sen. Joe Lieberman whooped that the United States and the KLA “stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”

In early June 1999, the Washington Post reported that “some presidential aides and friends are describing [bombing] Kosovo in Churchillian tones, as Clinton’s ‘finest hour.’” Clinton administration officials justified killing civilians because, it alleged the Serbs were committing genocide in Kosovo. After the bombing ended, no evidence of genocide was found, but Clinton and Britain’s Tony Blair continued boasting as if their war had stopped a new Hitler in his tracks.

In a speech to American troops in a Thanksgiving 1999 visit, Clinton declared that the Kosovar children “love the United States … because we gave them their freedom back.” Perhaps Clinton saw freedom as nothing more than being tyrannized by people of the same ethnicity. As the Serbs were driven out of Kosovo, Kosovar Albanians became increasingly oppressed by the KLA, which ignored its commitment to disarm. The Los Angeles Times reported on November 20, 1999,
As a postwar power struggle heats up in Kosovo Albanian politics, extremists are trying to silence moderate leaders with a terror campaign of kidnappings, beatings, bombings, and at least one killing. The intensified attacks against members of the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, have raised concerns that radical ethnic Albanians are turning against their own out of fear of losing power in a democratic Kosovo.
American and NATO forces stood by as the KLA resumed its ethnic cleansing, slaughtering Serbian civilians, bombing Serbian churches, and oppressing non-Muslims. Almost a quarter million Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and other minorities fled Kosovo after Clinton promised to protect them. In March 2000 renewed fighting broke out when the KLA launched attacks into Serbia, trying to seize territory that it claimed historically belonged to ethnic Albanians. UN Human Rights Envoy Jiri Dienstbier reported that “the [NATO] bombing hasn’t solved any problems. It only multiplied the existing problems and created new ones. The Yugoslav economy was destroyed. Kosovo is destroyed. There are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed now.”

US complicity in atrocities

Prior to the NATO bombing, American citizens had no responsibility for atrocities committed by either Serbs or ethnic Albanians. However, after American planes bombed much of Serbia into rubble to drive the Serbian military out of Kosovo, Clinton effectively made the United States responsible for the safety of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo. That was equivalent to forcibly disarming a group of people, and then standing by, whistling and looking at the ground, while they are slaughtered. Since the United States promised to bring peace to Kosovo, Clinton bears some responsibility for every burnt church, every murdered Serbian grandmother, every new refugee column streaming north out of Kosovo. Despite those problems, Clinton bragged at a December 8, 1999, press conference that he was “very, very proud” of what the United States had done in Kosovo.

I had a chapter on the Serbian bombing campaign titled “Moralizing with Cluster Bombs” in Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton–Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), which sufficed to spur at least one or two reviewers to attack the book. Norman Provizer, the director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, scoffed in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, “Bovard chastises Clinton for an illegal, undeclared war in Kosovo without ever bothering to mention that, during the entire run of American history, there have been but four official declarations of war by Congress.”

As the chaotic situation in post-war Kosovo became stark, it was easier to work in jibes against the debacle. In an October 2002 USA Today article (“Moral High Ground Not Won on Battlefield“) bashing the Bush administration’s push for war against Iraq, I pointed out, “A desire to spread freedom does not automatically confer a license to kill…. Operation Allied Force in 1999 bombed Belgrade, Yugoslavia, into submission purportedly to liberate Kosovo. Though Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic raised the white flag, ethnic cleansing continued — with the minority Serbs being slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground in the same way the Serbs previously oppressed the ethnic Albanians.”

In a 2011 review for The American Conservative, I scoffed, “After NATO planes killed hundreds if not thousands of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians, Bill Clinton could pirouette as a savior. Once the bombing ended, many of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo were slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground. NATO’s ‘peace’ produced a quarter million Serbian, Jewish, and Gypsy refugees.”

In 2014, a European Union task force confirmed that the ruthless cabal that Clinton empowered by bombing Serbia committed atrocities that included murdering persons to extract and sell their kidneys, livers, and other body parts. Clint Williamson, the chief prosecutor of a special European Union task force, declared in 2014 that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had engaged in “unlawful killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions in camps in Kosovo and Albania, sexual violence, forced displacements of individuals from their homes and communities, and desecration and destruction of churches and other religious sites.”

The New York Times reported that the trials of Kosovo body snatchers may be stymied by cover-ups and stonewalling: “Past investigations of reports of organ trafficking in Kosovo have been undermined by witnesses’ fears of testifying in a small country where clan ties run deep and former members of the KLA are still feted as heroes. Former leaders of the KLA occupy high posts in the government.” American politicians almost entirely ignored the scandal. Vice President Joe Biden hailed former KLA leader and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in 2010 as “the George Washington of Kosovo.” A few months later, a Council of Europe investigative report tagged Thaci as an accomplice to the body-trafficking operation.

Clinton’s war on Serbia opened a Pandora’s box from which the world still suffers. Because politicians and pundits portrayed that war as a moral triumph, it was easier for subsequent presidents to portray US bombing as the self-evident triumph of good over evil. Honest assessments of wrongful killings remain few and far between in media coverage.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Sat, 17 Aug 2019 13:29:24 GMT
US Sanctions Killing Innocent Iranians...Just 'Collateral Damage'? Daniel McAdams
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Punishing the World With Sanctions Philip Giraldi

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.

American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the sanctions on Iran are intended to cause real pain, which, in fact, they have succeeded in doing. Pompeo and his accomplice in crime National Security Advisor John Bolton believe that enough pressure will motivate the starving people to rise up in the streets and overthrow the government, an unlikely prospect as the American hostility has in fact increased popular support for the regime.

To be sure, ordinary people in Iran have found that they cannot obtain medicine and some types of food are in short supply but they are not about to rebel. The sanctioning in May of Iranian oil exports has only been partially effective but it has made the economy shrink, with workers losing jobs. The sanctions have also led to tit-for-tat seizures of oil and gas tankers, starting with the British interception of a ship carrying Iranian oil to Syria in early July.

Another bizarre escalation in sanctions that has taken place lately relates to the Skripal case in Britain. On August 2nd, Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a package of new sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018. The order “prohibit[s] any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit… except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.” The ban also includes “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance… by international financial institutions,” meaning that international lenders will also be punished if they fail to follow Washington’s lead.

The sanctions were imposed under the authority provided by the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act adopted in 1991, which imposes penalties for use of chemical weapons. Novichok, which was reportedly used on the Skripals, is a chemical weapon developed in the labs of the Soviet Union, though a number of states are believed to currently have supplies of the agent in their arsenals. Russia can appeal the sanctions with 90 days by providing “reliable assurance” that it will not again use chemical weapons.

Russia has strenuously denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and the evidence that has so far been produced to substantiate the Kremlin’s involvement has been less than convincing. An initial package of US-imposed sanctions against Russia that includes the export of sensitive technologies and some financial services was implemented in August 2018.

Venezuela is also under the sanctions gun and is a perfect example how sanctions can escalate into something more punitive, leading incrementally to an actual state of war. Last week Washington expanded its sanctions regime, which is already causing starvation in parts of Venezuela, to include what amounts to a complete economic embargo directed against the Maduro regime that is being enforced by a naval blockade.

The Venezuelan government announced last Wednesday that the United States Navy had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela while it was transiting the Panama Canal. According to a government spokesman, the ship’s cargo was soy cakes intended for the production of food. As one of Washington’s raisons d’etre for imposing sanctions on Caracas was that government incompetence was starving the Venezuelan people, the move to aggravate that starvation would appear to be somewhat capricious and revealing of the fact that the White House could care less about what happens to the Venezuelan civilians who are caught up in the conflict.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s basic right to import food to feed its people.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the sanctions regimes that the United States is imposing is that they are global. When Washington puts someone on its sanctions list, other countries that do not comply with the demands being made are also subject to punishment, referred to as secondary sanctions. The sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, for example, are being globally enforced with some few exceptions, and any country that buys Iranian oil will be punished by being denied access to the US financial and banking system. That is a serious penalty as most international trade and business transactions go through the dollar denominated SWIFT banking network.

Finally, nothing illustrates the absurdity of the sanctions mania as a recent report that President Trump had sent his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician ASAP Rocky who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys. The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. The negotiator was instructed to tell Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences.” Who can doubt that the consequences would undoubtedly have included sanctions?

It has reached the point where the only country that likes the United States is Israel, which is locked into a similar cycle of incessant aggression. To be sure Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of the problem, but the indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions, which punish whole nations for the presumed sins of those nations’ leaders, is a major contributing factor. And the real irony is that even though sanctions cause pain, they are ineffective. Cuba has been under sanctions, technically and embargo, since 1960 and its ruling regime has not collapsed, and there is no chance that Venezuela, Iran or Russia’s government will go away at any time soon either. In fact, real change would be more likely if Washington were to sit down at a negotiating table with countries that it considers enemies and work to find solutions to common concerns. But that is not likely to happen with the current White House line-up, and equally distant with a Democratic Party obsessed with the “Russian threat” and other fables employed to explain its own failings.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]> Thu, 15 Aug 2019 14:13:06 GMT
Violent Protests In Hong Kong Reach Their Last Stage Moon of Alabama

The riots in Hong Kong are about to end.

The protests, as originally started in June, were against a law that would have allowed criminal extraditions to Taiwan, Macao and mainland China. The law was retracted and the large protests have since died down. What is left are a few thousand students who, as advertised in a New York Times op-ed, intentionally seek to provoke the police with "marginal violence":
Such actions are a way to make noise and gain attention. And if they prompt the police to respond with unnecessary force, as happened on June 12, then the public will feel disapproval and disgust for the authorities. The protesters should thoughtfully escalate nonviolence, maybe even resort to mild force, to push the government to the edge. That was the goal of many people who surrounded and barricaded police headquarters for hours on June 21.
The protesters now use the same violent methods that were used in the Maidan protests in the Ukraine. The US seems to hope that China will intervene and create a second Tianamen sceneThat US color revolution attempt failed but was an excellent instrument to demonize China. A repeat in Hong Kong would allow the US to declare a "clash of civilization" and increase 'western' hostility against China. But while China is prepared to intervene it is unlikely to do the US that favor. Its government expressed confidence that the local authorities will be able to handle the issue.

There are rumors that some Hong Kong oligarchs were originally behind the protests to prevent their extradition for shady deals they made in China. There may be some truth to that. China's president Xi Jingpin is waging a fierce campaign against corruption and Hong Kong is a target rich environment for fighting that crime.

The former British colony is ruled by a handful of oligarchs who have monopolies in the housing, electricity, trade and transport markets:
The book to read is Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong (2010) by Alice Poon, which explains how the lack of competition law created outrageous wealth for the tycoons. It’s a complex subject but the key point is that in Hong Kong all land is leasehold and ultimately owned by the government, which uses it as a means of raising revenue. This goes back to the days of empire when British policy required colonies to be self-funding. The system kept taxes down and attracted business – but one side-effect was that it gave the government an interest in rationing land to keep it expensive. That didn’t matter much when the local economy comprised a few traders but, in the modern technological world of 2012, it puts the government at odds with every person and business wanting affordable space. Indeed, it induces the government to distort and damage the economy, and indeed society.

This system paved the way for a handful of Hong Kong families to become unimaginably wealthy by getting their hands on cheap land back in the days before the city started to boom.
Rents and apartment prices in Hong Kong are high. People from the mainland who buy up apartments with probably illegally gained money only increase the scarcity. This is one reason why the Cantonese speaking Hong Kong protesters spray slurs against the Mandarin speaking people from the mainland. The people in Hong Kong also grieve over their declining importance. Hong Kong lost its once important economical position. In 1993 Hong Kong's share of China's GDP was 27%. It is now less than a tenths of that and the city is now more or less irrelevant to mainland China.

Democracy in Hong Kong is restricted to further the interests of the oligarchs:
In the 70-seat legislature, only half of the members are directly elected. The other half are selected by special interest groups—such as the financial and real estate professions—meaning that the body tends to be controlled by a mostly pro-Beijing business elite rather than by voters. The city’s Beijing-backed leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, likewise lacks a popular mandate.
The current protests are surely not an incentive to remove those restrictions or to invest in Hong Kong. They are counter productive.

While the protests against the extradition bill may have been backed by some tycoons, it is obvious that there is also a large US government influence behind them. It is the US, not some oligarchs, which is behind the current rioting phase.

In 1992 Congress adopted the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act which mandates US government 'pro-democracy' policies in Hong Kong. Some Senators and lobbyists now push for a Support Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which would intensify the interference. Before the June protests started Secretary of State (and former CIA head) Mike Pompeo met with the Hong Kong 'pro-democracy' leader Martin Lee and later with 'pro-democracy' media tycoon Jimmy Lai. The National Endowment for Democracy finances several of the groups behind the protests.

Such interference is against Hong Kong's Basic Law:
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.
Despite that law the US National Endowment of Democracy spends millions on organizations in Hong Kong:
The political officer of the US consulate in Hong Kong, the largest in the world, meets with notorious rabble-rousers like Yoshua Wong.


That some protesters sing the US national anthem and wave US flags (vid) or fire US made grenade launchers (vid) will not motivate patriotic locals to join them. The protesters also fly Pepe the frog flags and use that rightwing fringe symbol on their pamphlets and flyers. It rather fits that Hillary Clinton and Dominic Raab support them.


To use the British colonial flag to call for Chinese 'colonists' to leave requires some brain twisting.


The rioters equipment comes from "strangers" who create depots of gas masks, helmets, laser pointers etc, that trusted demonstrators then distribute to their fellows. Mysteriously hundreds of subway tickets appear which are handed out for free to the junior university students who, during their current holidays, make up the mass of the violent black block that attacks the police.
The rightwing Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has long been financed by US regime change organizations. That it represents the airport workers may be the reason why the protests recently escalated there. The last three days protesters blocked the Hong Kong airport and violently hindered people from departing on their booked flights.

Travelers who spoke Mandarin were attacked. The scene became extremely ugly when a journalist from the Chinese Global Times was beaten until he fainted. Protesters claimed that he was with the police and hindered paramedics from reaching and caring for the man. Only when police intervened were the first-aiders able to remove the unconscious person. One of the rioters who beat the man had a US flag in his hand (vid). When the stretcher was rolled out of the airport another protester with a US flag on a pole ran after it and beat the patient (vid).

James Griffith, a CNN International producer, was on the scene.
Read Griffiths whole thread here. There are also plenty of videos from the scene that document the ghastly behavior.

Later Griffiths further explained:
Another 'western' journalist expressed a rather wretched understanding of freedom of the press:
Melissa Chan worked for Al Jazeerah, the propaganda arm of the emir of Qatar. She now works for DW, the propaganda arm of the German government. By her own criterion she is neither a journalist nor should she be called one.

The airport now received a court order that allows it to restrict further protests.

The police still holds back as much as it can. In most other countries this scene, in which a beaten policeman briefly pulls his gun, would have ended deadly.

Last month the government in Hong Kong brought a former top officer out of retirement to handle the protests. There have since been some changes in police tactics. Where previously protestors got away with building barricades and throwing stones they now get arrested and end up in jail. Undercover policemen snatched some riot leaders off the streets.

Local people increasingly turn against the rioters. Those who depend on tourism have good reason to call for a crack down on them. The violent behavior of the protesters gives the police more public leeway for harsh responses. There are many additional methods that can be used. The police refrained so far from encircling and mass arresting rioters, a tactic that is used in many other countries. Its water cannon vehicles were shown off but not put into action. The police has not yet cracked down on the communication with "strangers" even though it is likely to listen to some of it. This end phase will soon come.

There is also an automatic end date for the riots. On September 2 the new semester begins and the students will turn back to studies. The rioters will lose their critical mass. The whole issue will end up as another failure without the US achieving any of its aims.

Mainland Chinese who view the chaos in Hong Kong in all its glory will now reject any talk of 'pro-democracy'.

Meanwhile China intensifies its belt and road initiative and Trump loses his trade war:
Responding to pressure from businesses and growing fears that a trade war is threatening the US economy, the Trump administration is delaying most of the import taxes it planned to impose on Chinese goods and is dropping others altogether.

The administration says it still plans to proceed with 10% tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese imports [...]

But under pressure from retailers and other businesses, President Donald Trump’s trade office said it would delay until Dec. 15 the tariffs on nearly 60% of the imports that had been set to absorb the new taxes starting Sept. 1. Among the products that will benefit from the 3½-month reprieve are such popular consumer goods as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing.

The administration is also removing other items from the tariff list entirely, based on what it called “health, safety, national security and other factors.”
Russia's agriculture thrives on sales to China while US farmers lose market share. The anti-Chinese part of Trump's MAGA has yet to achieve any success.

Reprinted with permission from MoonofAlabama.]]> Thu, 15 Aug 2019 13:29:10 GMT
'Humanitarianism'? Hillary's Libya Lies Still Creating Misery Daniel McAdams
]]> Wed, 14 Aug 2019 16:34:58 GMT
Rich’s Ghost Haunts the Courts Ray McGovern

As if it weren’t enough of a downer for Russiagate true believers that no Trump-Russia collusion was found, federal judges are now demanding proof that Russia hacked into the DNC in the first place.

It is shaping up to be a significant challenge to the main premise of the shaky syllogism that ends with “Russia did it.”

If you’re new to this website, grab onto something, as the following may come as something of a shock. Not only has there never been any credible evidence to support the claim of Russian cyber interference, there has always been a simple alternative explanation that involves no “hacking” at all — by Russia or anyone else.

As most Consortium News habitués are aware, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (which includes two former NSA technical directors), working with independent forensic investigators, concluded two years ago that what “everyone knows to be Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee” actually involved an insider with physical access to DNC computers copying the emails onto an external storage device — such as a thumb drive. In other words, it was a leak, not a hack.

VIPS based its conclusion on the principles of physics applied to metadata and other empirical information susceptible of forensic analysis.

But if a leak, not a hack, who was the DNC insider-leaker? In the absence of hard evidence, VIPS refuses “best-guess”-type “assessments” — the kind favored by the “handpicked analysts” who drafted the evidence-impoverished, so-called Intelligence Community Assessment of Jan. 6, 2017.

Conspiracy Theorists

Simply letting the name “Seth Rich” pass your lips can condemn you to the leper colony built by the Washington Establishment for “conspiracy theorists,” (the term regularly applied to someone determined to seek tangible evidence, and who is open to alternatives to “Russia-did-it.”)

Rich was a young DNC employee who was murdered on a street in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2016. Many, including me, suspect that Rich played some role in the leaking of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. There is considerable circumstantial evidence that this may have been the case. Those who voice such suspicions, however, are, ipso facto, branded “conspiracy theorists.”

That epithet has a sordid history in the annals of US intelligence. Legendary CIA Director Allen Dulles used the “brand-them-conspiracy-theorists” ploy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy when many objected — understandably — to letting him pretty much run the Warren Commission, even though the CIA was suspected of having played a role in the murder. The “conspiracy theorist” tactic worked like a charm then, and now. Well, up until just now.

Rich Hovers Above the Courts

US Courts apply far tougher standards to evidence than do the intelligence community and the pundits who loll around lazily, feeding from the intelligence PR trough. This (hardly surprising) reality was underscored when a Dallas financial adviser named Ed Butowsky sued National Public Radio and others for defaming him about the role he played in controversial stories relating to Rich. On August 7, NPR suffered a setback, when US District Court Judge Amos Mazzant affirmed a lower court decision to allow Butowsky’s defamation lawsuit to proceed.

Judge Mazzant ruled that NPR had stated as “verifiable statements of fact” information that could not be verified, and that the plaintiff had been, in effect, accused of being engaged in wrongdoing without persuasive sourcing language.

Imagine! — “persuasive sourcing” required to separate fact from opinion and axes to grind! An interesting precedent to apply to the ins and outs of Russiagate. In the courts, at least, this is now beginning to happen. And NPR and others in similarly vulnerable positions are scurrying around for allies. The day after Judge Mazzant’s decision, NPR enlisted help from discredited Yahoo! News pundit Michael Isikoff (author, with David Corn, of the fiction-posing-as-fact novel Russian Roulette). NPR gave Isikoff 37 minutes on its popular Fresh Air program to spin his yarn about how the Seth Rich story got started. You guessed it; the Russians started it. No, we are not making this up.

It is far from clear that Isikoff can be much help to NPR in the libel case against it. Isikoff’s own writings on Russiagate are notably lacking in “verifiable statements of fact” — information that cannot be verified. Watch, for example, his recent interview with Consortium News Editor Joe Lauria on CN Live!

Isikoff admitted to Lauria that he never saw the classified Russian intelligence document reportedly indicating that three days after Rich’s murder the Russian SVR foreign intelligence service planted a story about Rich having been the leaker and was killed for it. This Russian intelligence “bulletin,” as Isikoff called it, was supposedly placed on a bizarre website that Isikoff admitted was an unlikely place for Russia to spread disinformation. He acknowledged that he only took the word of the former prosecutor in the Rich case about the existence of this classified Russian document.

In any case, The Washington Post, had already debunked Isikoff’s claim (which later in his article he switched to being only “purported”) by pointing out that Americans had already tweeted the theory of Rich’s murder days before the alleged Russian intervention.

‘Persuasive Sourcing’ & Discovery??

Butowsky’s libel lawsuit can now proceed to discovery, which will include demands for documents and depositions that are likely to shed light on whatever role Rich may have played in leaking to WikiLeaks. If the government obstructs or tries to slow-roll the case, we shall have to wait and see, for example, if the court will acquiesce to the familiar government objection that information regarding Rich’s murder must be withheld as a state secret? Hmmm. What would that tell us?

During discovery in a separate court case, the government was unable to produce a final forensic report on the “hacking” of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC-hired cyber firm, CrowdStrike, failed to complete such a report, and that was apparently okay with then FBI Director James Comey, who did not require one.

The incomplete, redacted, draft, second-hand “forensics” that Comey settled for from CrowdStrike does not qualify as credible evidence — much less “persuasive sourcing” to support the claim that the Russians “hacked” into the DNC. Moreover, CrowdStrike has a dubious reputation for professionalism and a well known anti-Russia bias.

The thorny question of “persuasive sourcing,” came up even more starkly on July 1, when federal Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Robert Mueller to stop pretending he had proof that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency’s supposed attempt to interfere via social media in the 2016 election. Middle school-level arithmetic can prove the case that the IRA’s use of social media to support Trump is ludicrous on its face.

Russia-gate Rubble

As journalist Patrick Lawrence put it recently: “Three years after the narrative we call Russiagate was framed and incessantly promoted, it crumbles into rubble as we speak.” Falling syllogism! Step nimbly to one side.

The “conspiracy theorist” epithet is not likely to much longer block attention to the role, if any, played by Rich — the more so since some players who say they were directly involved with Rich are coming forward.

In a long interview with Lauria a few months ago in New Zealand aired this month on CN Live!, Kim Dotcom provided a wealth of detail, based on what he described as first-hand knowledge, regarding how Democratic National Committee documents were leaked to WikiLeaks in 2016.

The major takeaway: the evidence presented by Dotcom about Seth Rich can be verified or disproven if President Trump summons the courage to order the director of NSA to dig out the relevant data, including the conversations Dotcom says he had with Rich and Rich may have had with WikiLeakspublisher Julian Assange. Dotcom said he put Rich in touch with a middleman to transfer the DNC files to WikiLeaks. Sadly, Trump has flinched more than once rather than confront the Deep State — and this time there are a bunch of very well connected, senior Deep State practitioners who could faceprosecution.

Another sign that Rich’s story is likely to draw new focus is the virulent character assassination indulged in by former investigative journalist James Risen.

Not Risen to the Challenge

On August 5, in an interview on The Hill’s“Rising,” Risen chose to call former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney — you guessed it — a “conspiracy theorist” on Russia-gate, with no demurral, much less pushback, from the hosts.

The having-done-good-work-in-the-past-and-now-not-so-much Risen can be considered a paradigm for what has happened to so many Kool-Aid drinking journalists. Jim’s transition from investigative journalist to stenographer is, nonetheless unsettling. Contributing causes? It appears that the traditional sources within the intelligence agencies, whom Risen was able to cultivate discreetly in the past, are too fearful now to even talk to him, lest they get caught by one or two of the myriad surveillance systems in play.

Those at the top of the relevant agencies, however, are only too happy to provide grist. Journalists have to make a living, after all. Topic A, of course, is Russian “interference” in the 2016 election. And, of course, “There can be little doubt” the Russians did it.

“Big Jim” Risen, as he is known, jumped on the bandwagon as soon as he joined The Intercept, with a fulsome article on February 17, 2018 titled “Is Donald Trump a Traitor?” Here’s an excerpt:
The evidence that Russia intervened in the election to help Trump win is already compelling, and it grows stronger by the day.

There can be little doubt now that Russian intelligence officials were behind an effort to hack the DNC’s computers and steal emails and other information from aides to Hillary Clinton as a means of damaging her presidential campaign. … Russian intelligence also used fake social media accounts and other tools to create a global echo chamber both for stories about the emails and for anti-Clinton lies dressed up to look like news.

To their disgrace, editors and reporters at American news organizations greatly enhanced the Russian echo chamber, eagerly writing stories about Clinton and the Democratic Party based on the emails, while showing almost no interest during the presidential campaign in exactly how those emails came to be disclosed and distributed. (sic)
Poor Jim. He shows himself just as susceptible as virtually all of his fellow corporate journalists to the epidemic-scale HWHW virus (Hillary Would Have Won) that set in during Nov. 2016 and for which the truth seems to be no cure. From his perch at The Intercept, Risen will continue to try to shape the issues. Russiagaters major ally, of course, is the corporate media which has most Americans pretty much under their thumb.

Incidentally, neither The New York Times, The Washington Post, nor The Wall Street Journal has printed or posted a word about Judge Mazzant’s ruling on the Butowsky suit.

Mark Twain is said to have warned, “How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again!” After three years of “Russia-Russia-Russia” in the corporate — and even in some “progressive” — media, this conditioning will not be easy to reverse.

Here’s how one astute observer with a sense of humor described the situation last week, in a comment under one of my recent pieces on Consortium News:
… One can write the most thought-out and well documented academic-like essays, articles and reports and the true believers in Russiagate will dismiss it all with a mere flick of their wrist. The mockery and scorn directed towards those of us who knew the score from day one won’t relent. They could die and go to heaven and ask god what really happened during the 2016 election. God would reply to them in no uncertain terms that Putin and the Russians had absolutely nothing to do with anything in ‘16, and they’d all throw up their hands and say, ‘aha! So, God’s in on this too!’ It’s the great lie that won’t die.
I’m not so sure. It is likely to be a while though before this is over. 

In the meantime, here are seven pieces of circumstantial evidence suggesting that Rich may have indeed leaked the DNC emails to WikiLeaks:

- Butowsky said Rich’s parents told him they know their son leaked the emails. Parents deny it.

- Butowsky said Ellen Ratner told him and others that Assange told her Rich was the leaker. Videoemerges of Ratner saying Assange told her a Democratic insider leaked the emails but she didn’t name Rich. She now denies it was Rich.

- Kim Dotcom, a leading expert on the internet, says the metadata shows it was a leak, not a hack, and that he communicated with Rich and put him in touch with a middleman to transfer the emails to WikiLeaks. Dotcom also says he communicated with Rich’s parents who said they knew their son was the leaker.

- The NSA said in a FOIA request from Butowsky’s lawyer that they have 15 documents regarding conversations Rich had with one of several people named in the request, which include the possibility Rich communicated with Assange and/or Kim Dotcom.

- Investigative journalist Sy Hersh, in audio interview with Butowsky, says he has a source in FBI who had seen the report of Rich’s computer proving he had sent emails to WikiLeaks. When Butowsky made this secretly recorded interview public Hersh’s sources dried up and he then tried to deny what he’d told Butowsky.

- WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange strongly suggested in a Dutch TV interview that Rich was the source of the DNC emails. WikiLeaks also offered a $20,000 reward leading to information about Seth’s killers.

- Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has said he met the leaker and he was not Russian. 

Reprinted with author's permission from ConsortiumNews.]]> Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:54:36 GMT
Can Trump Get Out Of Afghanistan? Daniel McAdams
]]> Tue, 13 Aug 2019 16:35:58 GMT
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The US Government and Its Police Forces John W. Whitehead

“It is often the case that police shootings, incidents where law enforcement officers pull the trigger on civilians, are left out of the conversation on gun violence. But a police officer shooting a civilian counts as gun violence.”
—Journalist Celisa Calacal

Yes, gun violence is a problem in America.

Yes, mass shootings are a problem in America.

Yes, mentally ill individuals embarking on mass shooting sprees are a problem in America.

However, tighter gun control laws and so-called “intelligent” background checks fail to protect the public from the most egregious perpetrator of gun violence in America: the US government.

Consider that five years after police shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old man in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been no relief from the government’s gun violence.

Clearly, the US government is not making America any safer.

Indeed, the government’s gun violence—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—poses a greater threat to the safety and security of the nation than any mass shooter.

In fact, 1200% more people have been killed by police than mass shooters since 2015.

Curiously enough, in the midst of the finger-pointing over the latest round of mass shootings, Americans have been so focused on debating who or what is responsible for gun violence—the guns, the gun owners, the Second Amendment, the politicians, or our violent culture—that they have overlooked the fact that the systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and their liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

Violence has become our government’s calling card, starting at the top and trickling down, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by heavily armed, black-garbed commandos and the increasingly rapid militarization of local police forces across the country to the drone killings used to target insurgents.

The government even exports violence worldwide.

Talk about an absurd double standard.

If we’re truly going to get serious about gun violence, why not start by scaling back the American police state’s weapons of war?

I’ll tell you why: because  the government has no intention of scaling back on its weapons.

In fact, all the while gun critics continue to clamor for bans on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets, the US military is passing them out to domestic police forces.

There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than US Marines.

While Americans have to jump through an increasing number of hoops in order to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorizing them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics.

Seriously, why do IRS agents need AR-15 rifles?

For that matter, why do police need armored personnel carriers with gun ports, compact submachine guns with 30-round magazines, precision battlefield sniper rifles, and military-grade assault-style rifles and carbines?

Short answer: they don’t.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.

Over the course of 30 years, police officers in jack boots holding assault rifles have become fairly common in small town communities across the country. As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Does this sound like a country under martial law?

You want to talk about gun violence? While it still technically remains legal for the average citizen to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled oversearchedarrested, subjected to all manner of surveillancetreated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at and killed by police.

You don’t even have to have a gun or a look-alike gun, such as a BB gun, in your possession to be singled out and killed by police.

There are countless incidents that happen every day in which Americans are shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, or challenge an order.

Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug, and promise to do better, all the while the cops are granted qualified immunity.

This is what passes for policing in America today, folks, and it’s only getting worse.

Remember, to a hammer, all the world looks like a nail.

Yet as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” are not just getting hammered.

We’re getting killed, execution-style.

Violence begets violence: until we start addressing the US government’s part in creating, cultivating and abetting a culture of violence, we will continue to be a nation plagued by violence in our homes, in our schools, on our streets and in our affairs of state, both foreign and domestic.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.]]> Mon, 12 Aug 2019 18:58:47 GMT
Grave Danger Of China Collapse - With Guest David Stockman Daniel McAdams
]]> Mon, 12 Aug 2019 16:37:51 GMT
A Sino-Russian Firewall Against US Interference Melkulangara Bhadrakumar
A sit-in at Hong Kong international airport, Aug 9, 2019

China has explicitly accused the United States and Britain for fomenting the “pro-democracy” protests in Hong Kong. Beijing has taken up the matter via the diplomatic channel demanding that the US intelligence should stop inciting and abetting the Hong Kong protestors. Last week photographic evidence appeared in the media showing the political counsellor in the US consulate in Hong Kong Julie Eadeh confabulating in the lobby of a local luxury hotel with the student leaders involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. 

Washington has taken umbrage that Julie’s cover has been blown. She is apparently an expert who organised “colour revolutions” in other countries and it has been disclosed that she was involved in plotting “subversive acts” in the Middle East region. The Global Times wrote a blistering editorial. It said: 

“The US administration has played a disgraceful role in the Hong Kong riots. Washington publicly supports the protests and never condemns violence that targets police. The US consulate general in Hong Kong is stepping up its direct interference in Hong Kong’s situation. The US administration is instigating turmoil in Hong Kong the way it stoked “colour revolutions” in other places worldwide.” 

Is the Chinese allegation plausible? Writing in the Asia Times, the noted Canadian academic, economist and author Ken Moak made a good point recently that the protests are lavishly funded and their logistics and organisation are of a scale taxing resources that “only foreign governments or wealthy individuals who might profit from them” would commit. He detailed past instances of Anglo-American attempts to destabilise China.

Moak anticipates “more intense and violent” subversive operations against China by the US in the future. 

Indeed, agents provocateurs are calibrating the protests almost on daily basis such as burning the Chinese flag and occupying the Hong Kong airport. The game plan is to force Beijing to intervene so that the deluge follows — western sanctions, et al. 

With the 5G technology just about rolling out, this is an opportune time for the US to frogmarch its western allies into an economic boycott of China when countries like Germany and Italy that have flourishing trade and investment ties with China are loathe to get into the American bandwagon. 

The well-known Italian journalist and author and long-time China watcher based in Beijing, Francesco Sisci wrote recently that Hong Kong is in reality Beijing’s “safety valve” and choking it can cause asphyxiation to the entire Chinese system. Sisci compares Hong Kong with “a compensation chamber, a safety valve between the closed economy of mainland China and the open economies of the rest of the world.” 

If China could globalise avidly and yet keep its economy closed, it was because it had Hong Kong, which was completely open and provided the third-largest financial market in the world. If large-scale capital flight ensues in Hong Kong, China will have to work its future financial arrangements through countries over which it it doesn’t have political control. To quote Sisci, “Hong Kong’s present status can help Beijing buy time, but the crucial issue is still the status of China. The time of being both in and out the global commercial system thanks to a complex architecture of special agreements is rapidly running out.” 

Simply put, the unrest in Hong Kong becomes a template of the US’ maximum pressure approach to break China’s growth momentum and its ascendancy as a rival in technology globally in the 21st century. The influential China hands in the US are already opening the champagne bottle that “revolution is in the air in Hong Kong” — and, it will mark “the end of communism on Chinese soil.”

Enter Russia. Coincidence or not, small fires are being lit lately on the Moscow streets as well, and they are spreading into significant protests against President Vladimir Putin. If the extradition law was the pretext for the Hong Kong turmoil, it is the election to the Moscow Duma (city legislature) that has apparently triggered the Russian protest.

Protestors in Moscow, August 10, 2019 

Just as there is economic and social discontent in Hong Kong, the popularity of Putin has declined lately which is attributed to the stagnation of the Russian economy. 

In both cases, the American agenda is blatantly “regime change”. This may seem surprising, since the Chinese and Russian leaderships appear rock solid. The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party over which President Xi Jinping presides and the popularity of Putin still at a level that is the envy of any politician anywhere in the world, but the doctrine of “colour revolutions” is not built on democratic principles. 

Colour revolutions are about upturning an established political order and it has no co-relation with mass support. The colour revolution is coup by other means. It is not even about democracy. The recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine exposed that the colour revolution of 2014 was an insurrection that the nation disowns. 

Of course, the stakes are very high when it comes to destabilising China and Russia. Nothing less than the global strategic balance is involved. The US’ dual containment strategy against Russia and China is quintessentially the New American Century project — US’ global hegemony through the 21st century. 

The US wagered that Moscow and Beijing would be hard pressed to cope with the spectre of colour revolutions and that would isolate them. After all, authoritarian regimes are exclusive and into the sanctum sanctorum of their internal politics not even their closest friends or allies are allowed in.

This is where Moscow has sprung a nasty surprise for Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in Moscow on Friday that Russia and China should exchange information on the US interference in their internal affairs. She flagged that Moscow is aware of the Chinese statements that the US interferes in Hong Kong affairs and treats this information “with all seriousness.” 

“Moreover, I think it would be right and useful to exchange such information through respective services,” Zakharova said, adding that the Russian and Chinese sides will discuss the issue soon. She added that the US intelligence agency is using technology to destabilise Russia and China. 

Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry had summoned the head of the Political Section in the US embassy Tim Richardson, and presented him with an official protest against the US encouraging an unauthorised opposition rally in Moscow on August 3. 

Indeed, Moscow is far more experienced than Beijing in neutralising covert operations by the US intelligence. It is a hallmark of the great skill and expertise as well as the tenacity of the Russian system that through the entire Cold War era and “post-Soviet” period, there has never been anything like the turmoil on Tiananmen Square in Beijing (1989) or Hong Kong (2019) triggered by the US intelligence.

Moscow’s message to Beijing is direct and candid — ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ No doubt, the two countries have been in consultation and wanted the rest of the world to know. Indeed, the message Zakharova transmitted — on a joint firewall against US interference — is of epochal significance. It elevates the Russia-China alliance to a qualitatively new level, creating yet another political underpinning of collective security. 

Reprinted with permission from Indian Punchline.]]> Mon, 12 Aug 2019 13:31:15 GMT
Endgame for the Fed? Ron Paul

The Federal Reserve, responding to concerns about the economy and the stock market, and perhaps to criticisms by President Trump, recently changed course on interest rates by cutting its “benchmark” rate from 2.25 percent to two percent. President Trump responded to the cut in already historically-low rates by attacking the Fed for not committing to future rate cuts.

The Fed’s action is an example of a popular definition of insanity: doing the same action over and over again and expecting different results. After the 2008 market meltdown, the Fed launched an unprecedented policy of near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing.” Both failed to produce real economic growth. The latest rate cut is unlikely to increase growth or avert a major economic crisis.

It is not a coincidence that the Fed’s rate cut came along with Congress passing a two-year budget deal that increases our already 22 trillion dollars national debt and suspends the debt ceiling. The increase in government debt increases the pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates artificially low so the federal government’s interest payments do not increase to unsustainable levels.

President Trump’s tax and regulatory policies have had some positive effects on economic growth and job creation. However, these gains are going to be short-lived because they cannot offset the damage caused by the explosion in deficit spending and the Federal Reserve’s resulting monetization of the debt. President Trump has also endangered the global economy by imposing tariffs on imports from the US’s largest trading partners including China. This has resulted in a trade war that is hurting export-driven industries such as agriculture.

President Trump recently imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports, and China responded to the tariffs by devaluing its currency. The devaluation lowers the price consumers pay for Chinese goods, partly offsetting the effect of the tariffs. The US government responded by labeling China a currency manipulator, a charge dripping with hypocrisy since, thanks to the dollar’s world reserve currency status, the US is history’s greatest currency manipulator. Another irony is that China’s action mirrors President Trump’s continuous calls for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.

While no one can predict when or how the next economic crisis will occur, we do know the crisis is coming unless, as seems unlikely, the Fed stops distorting the economy by manipulating interest rates (which are the price of money), Congress cuts spending and debt, and President Trump declares a ceasefire in the trade war.

The Federal Reserve’s rate cut failed to stop a drastic fall in the stock market. This is actually good news as it shows that even Wall Street is losing faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to manage the unmanageable — a monetary system based solely on fiat currency. The erosion of trust in and respect for the Fed is also shown by the interest in cryptocurrency and the momentum behind two initiatives spearheaded by my Campaign for Liberty — passing the Audit the Fed bill and passing state laws re-legalizing gold and silver as legal tender. There is no doubt we are witnessing the last days of not just the Federal Reserve but the entire welfare-warfare system. Those who know the truth must do all they can to ensure that the crisis results in a return to a constitutional republic, true free markets, sound money, and a foreign policy of peace and free trade.
]]> Mon, 12 Aug 2019 13:06:36 GMT
Eight Years Ago NATO Killed My Family in Their Sleep Dr Mustafa Fetouri

Eight years ago, NATO and its partners, killed nearly 200 Libyan civilians across the North African country. Eight years on, no one has been held accountable. Neither NATO nor its partners gave any explanation or offered an apology let alone compensation while the families of those killed still reel with pain and the lack of an explanation as to why their loved ones were killed as they slept.

The invasion of Libya, by the biggest military alliance in history, started after long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi took measures, including the use of force, against opposition groups, particularly in eastern Libya, taking part in peaceful anti-government demonstrations. The events were part of the on-going Arab Spring which started in Tunisia and spread across the region. In Libya events took a very violent turn; the consequences of which can still be felt today.

As a result of UN resolution 1973, which authorised member states to use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, NATO got involved.

NATO conducted 26,500 sorties over Libya in the space of seven months killing an unknown number of soldiers, damaging infrastructure, and helping displace the entire city of Tawergha home to nearly 40,000 people. The air campaign stopped only after Gaddafi himself was murdered on 20 October  2011.

Most of the civilian deaths occurred during August 2011. Eight years on the families of those killed are still searching for answers.

Mustafa Al-Morabit still remembers the night of 4 August 2011, when his 37-year-old wife Ibtisam, his two sons – five-year-old Mohammed and three-year-old Mo’taz – were killed by a NATO air strike around 06:30am. The family was sleeping when their house was hit in south of Zlitan, a town about 170 kilometres east of Tripoli and home to an estimated 100,000 people. Al-Morabit told MEMO: “I still see nightmares and sometimes do not believe what happened. Why was my family killed?”

Like two dozen Libyan families, who lost loved ones, Al-Morabit, has not been compensated or even recognised as victim of a NATO air strike. Neither of Libya’s successive governments since October 2011, nor NATO have admitted any wrongdoing.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, investigative journalists and many other rights groups have documented almost all civilian causalities for which NATO is responsible. NATO, itself never conducted a thorough on the ground investigation to find out what happened. Yet, the Trans-Atlantic alliance denies killing any civilian in its air campaign to bring down Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011. Between 2013 and today I’ve contacted NATO headquarters in Brussels on numerous occasions trying to get a response but in vain.

Four days after the Al-Morabit family tragedy, on 8 August 2011, and a few kilometres southwest of Zlitin, multiple NATO raids hit a residential compound in Majer village. According to rights groups the first strike killed 16 civilians, including the Ali Hamid Al-Jarud’s entire family, while the second raid killed another 16 civilians who came to help in the rescue operation. However the Libyan government at the time published a list of 80 people as being the victims instead of 34. The government’s detailed list included 34 women, more than 24 children, five babies.

Even today the public still do not know exactly how many civilians were killed by NATO aircrafts during Libya’s eight-month civil war. As the lack of proper identification and documentation hampers efforts to have a precise figure.

I conducted my own on the ground investigation and interviews with victims’ families and came to the conclusion that at least 180 Libyan civilians were killed and wounded by NATO in seven different cities, towns and villages. Most were targeted in residential areas usually at night while people slept.

NATO has so far escaped scrutiny and the different Libyan governments that came to power since the end of the civil war have not recognised the victims.

However a group of victims’ families are trying to prosecute NATO with little success so far. Khaled Al-Khweldi, who lost his entire family in another NATO raid on 20 June 2011 in Surman, west of Tripoli,  set up the Association for NATO and War Victims in Libya (ANVWL) with legal representation in Brussels where NATO’s headquarters are based. Two years ago, ANVWL filed its first case against NATO in a Belgian court but it was rejected citing NATO as an international organisation which enjoys diplomatic immunity. However, ANVWL’s Belgian lawyer Jean Fermon, told MEMO: “We have filed another case to the European Court of Human Rights and still waiting for it decision.”

Al-Khweldi and every ANVWL member I spoke to appear determined to get answers from NATO but it is an uphill struggle. There is no precedence in which NATO was successfully sued let alone made to admit responsibilities. Not in former Yugoslavia in 1999 nor in Afghanistan where it is still involved.

However Mohamed Al-Gharari, who lost three family members on 19 June 2011, told MEMO: “Keeping the cause alive is in itself important for us because it reminds us that NATO did not protect us but killed us.”

Reprinted with permission from Middle East Monitor.]]> Sat, 10 Aug 2019 14:55:30 GMT
China Accuses US Of 'Gangster Logic' For Defending Meetings With HK Independence Activists Tyler Durden

China hit back Friday over the developing fresh diplomatic crisis centered on a US State Department official caught meeting with notable Hong Kong independence activists. The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong said Washington is applying “gangster logic” after the day prior a US spokesperson called Beijing a “thuggish regime”.

“The spokesperson at the commissioner’s office denounced the claim as a blatant slander against China, which has confounded right with wrong and again exposed US gangster logic and hegemonic thinking. China deplores and firmly opposes the remarks,” the statement said.

A woman identified as Julie Eadeh, chief of the US consulate in Hong Kong's political unit - which Chinese media figures had denounced as a "subversion expert" - had been photographed early in the week holding a secretive meeting with key anti-Beijing protest leaders at a downtown hotel in the semi-autonomous city.

As the photograph went viral in China, fueling outrage - and for Beijing validating its recent accusations that the US is covertly fueling the protests and unrest that have gripped Hong Kong streets - state media dug up more information on Eadeh.
The South China Morning Post reports what made the US State Department so outraged as to issue its stern rebuke:
Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao published personal details of Julie Eadeh, chief of the US consulate’s political unit, including her children’s names, and a photograph of Eadeh meeting pro-democracy activists including Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Also attending the meeting were Nathan Law Kwun-chung and other members of local political party Demosisto.
On Thursday afternoon State Dept spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told a news briefing,"I don't think that leaking an American diplomat's private information, pictures, names of their children, I don't think that is a formal protest, that is what a thuggish regime would do." She added, "That is not how a responsible nation would behave."

Referring to China lodging a formal protests over the incident, Ortagus said she objected “to the Chinese saying they issued a formal protest when in fact they harassed an American diplomat”.

“American diplomats meet with formal government officials, we meet with opposition protesters, not just in Hong Kong or China,” she said. “This literally happens in every single country in which an American embassy is present.”

But given the context of Hong Kong witnessing its worst popular unrest since 1997, we can imaging how US officials would react if Chinese or Russian diplomats were photographed meeting with American anti-government protesters at a moment of serious unrest in US cities.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 15:44:54 GMT
The Persistent Myth That Trump Opposes War Caitlin Johnstone

Whenever I criticize the foreign policy of the current US administration, I always get some pushback from Trump supporters who insist that this president is doing more good than harm by “fighting the Deep State” and, even more commonly, by “keeping us out of wars”.

This notion that Donald Trump is some kind of peace president, or even the notion that he puts any more inertia on the US war machine than his predecessor did, is contradicted by all facts and evidence we have available to us. Trump has not ended a single one of the wars his predecessors started, and has added dangerous escalations against Venezuela, Iran, and nuclear-armed Russia.

One of the difficulties in addressing this persistent myth, besides the obvious fact that everyone now lives in tightly cloistered information echo chambers of confirmation bias-feeding validation loops, is that the myth is in some ways bipartisan. Whenever Trump mumbles one of his empty appeals to non-interventionist principles, his supporters lap it up while half of the Democrats start attacking the president for being insufficiently hawkish. Trump’s talk about withdrawing from Syria is a perfect example of this; the troops are still there, but Dems attacked him for irresponsible “isolationist” behavior and his supporters got their fairy tale about their president ending wars. Everyone gets what they want, including the military-industrial complex that Trump pretends to oppose.

But the fact that liberal hawks attack Trump for not being as warlike as he could possibly be in every possible area doesn’t make him a peace president, any more than neocons attacking Obama for the same reason made him a peace president. Right-wing hawks viciously attacked Obama for refusing to arm Ukraine against Russia and for refusing to attack Damascus over the chemical weapons “red line” (both of which are neoconservative agendas that Trump has fully fallen in line with, by the way), but that doesn’t negate Obama’s depraved acts of interventionism in Libya, Syria and elsewhere. Both Trump and Obama have at times refused to go quite as far as the most virulent warmongers wanted them to, but that doesn’t mean either oppose war.

If you want a fair, accurate and nonpartisan insight into how much of a war whore the sitting president is, click this hyperlink to get to a list by the antiwar organization St Pete for Peace titled “Trump Foreign Policy Fact Sheet — An up-to-date chronology of the good and the bad of the Trump administration’s foreign policy — from an antiwar perspective”. The fact sheet takes news reports about this administration’s foreign policy statements and decisions and files them under ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ columns. There are some things in the ‘Good’ column, like Trump’s meetings with Kim Jong-un and his refusal to strike Iran for downing a US drone, but just scroll down and see for yourself how much longer the ‘Bad’ column is than the ‘Good’.

This to me is by itself a pretty solid refutation of the notion that this president is anyone who can be supported on antiwar grounds. Whenever a Trump supporter argues against my criticisms of this administration, their arguments always come from the ‘Good’ column while completely ignoring the ‘Bad’. This is only possible because of the echo chamber dynamic which allows political partisans to absorb positive news about their favorite political faction without hearing about any of the negatives; the echo chamber walls are so thick that when I tell Trump supporters about the warmongering behaviors of their president I am often accused of lying until I provide them with proof of my claims. Even then they still sometimes find a way to compartmentalize and act like they didn’t just view a complete and total refutation of their position.

The other argument I get from those who wish to defend Trump on antiwar grounds is that Hillary Clinton would have been a worse warmonger, and had she been elected we could have seen World War Three ignited by her insanely hawkish plans for Syria. I actually agree on both counts, but that doesn’t mean this is a legitimate argument to make. Hillary Clinton being bad doesn’t make Trump good, any more than the existence of cancer makes it good to have congestive heart failure. Trump is the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military force of all time, and the behavior of that military force is what we’re talking about right now. Babbling about some alternate President Hillary timeline is a red herring.

This administration is currently working to extradite Julian Assange and lock him away for life because he exposed US war crimes. It has killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions in an attempt to effect regime change in the most oil-rich nation on earth, and many times that number can easily die as a result of the new total economic embargo that Trump signed into law on Monday. It is advancing the longtime John Bolton agenda of regime change in Iran via starvation sanctions, CIA covert ops, and reckless military escalations.

Despite the kayfabe pro wrestling drama of Russiagate, Trump has escalated tensions with Moscow more than any US president since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Leading US-Russia relations expert Stephen Cohen has been warning since 2017 that we are now at risk of nuclear annihilation as a result of these escalations at a level we haven’t seen since the height of the last cold war. This administration’s many, many aggressive acts against Russia include the aforementioned arming of Ukraine, amassing an increasing number of troops near Russia’s border, attacking Russian allies Syria and Venezuela, withdrawing from the INF treaty, implementing a Nuclear Posture Review with a much more aggressive stance against Russia, forcing RT and Sputnik to register as foreign agents, reportedly infiltrating Russia’s power grid, throwing out dozens of diplomats, expanding NATOwith the addition of Montenegro, assigning Russia hawk Kurt Volker as special representative to Ukraine, and opposing Russian fossil fuel interests in Germany.

This administration has continued to facilitate the Saudi-led slaughter in Yemen and to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. It has expanded the war in Somalia. It has been inflating the already insanely bloated US military budget to enable more worldwide military expansionism. It has greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes.

You get the picture. There is no legitimate reason for any thinking person to go on believing that this president is any less of a warmonger than Obama. If we’re lucky he’ll leave office with a lower body count than George W Bush. The narrative that things have changed serves no one but the powerful, and it guarantees that those who believe it will cease fighting for real change. It would be great if Americans could put someone in charge of their military who actually opposes war. To believe that that has already happened is reckless and delusional.

Reprinted with author's permission from
Support Ms. Johnstone's work on Patreon or Paypal.]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 15:27:42 GMT
Official Secrets: Priti Patel’s Early War on Whistleblowers Nina Cross

As British ambassador to the US Kim Darroch tended his wounds of humiliation last month, following the leak of a cache of diplomatic cables and documents, including emails describing President Trump as ‘inept’ and ‘uniquely dysfunctional,’ an outraged UK government descended into panic over how to handle such an apparently sensitive and damaging betrayal of confidential information. A police investigation was launched to find the leaker. 

Is this dubious leak now being used to mount an attack on whistleblowers – with the help of Boris Johnson’s new Home Secretary, Priti Patel?

A leak useful for mobilising outrage

The leak, which led to Trump’s refusal to work with Darroch, and consequently Darroch’s resignation, is a useful type of leak for a government set on tightening the Official Secrets Act (OSA). After all, it has not exposed evidence of any government crime, so cannot really be applauded as a courageous stand against abuse of power as in the case for example of the leaks released by Chelsea Manning and published by Wikileaks, exposing US war crimes.

The Darroch leak was clearly one of a political nature. In this way, the artificial hype being whipped-up around it actually downplays the essential and heroic role of the whistleblower. Certainly from a purely political perspective, it could be argued that it does not serve public interest to know that a British diplomat might have a very low opinion of the US president (a fairly common view point held by many diplomats globally), which could serve certain political aims, or be motivated by spite. But that’s hardly a matter of national security.

It is for this reason that a chance leak such as this could be extremely useful for individuals and institutions with an axe to grind against whistleblowers. It could also be used to mobilise public outrage against a foreign leader, unpopular with many, who thinks he can dictate to Britain what to do with our ambassadors. Spin doctors in Westminster will make the seemingly impassioned argument that this leak somehow damages the special relationship between Britain and the US. With enough arm-twisting, some of us might even be tempted to give our consent to new authoritarian laws that punish and silence those who leak information.

In this case, the Metropolitan Police took things a few dangerous steps further. On July 12th, Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, made this statement:
Given the widely reported consequences of that leak, I am satisfied that there has been damage caused to UK international relations, and there would be clear public interest in bringing the person or people responsible to justice.
Now the police are weighing in on something as politically subjective as “international relations.” What’s much worse though is when Basu announced that the Met would also consider it a crime for anyone, including members of the press or media, to publish these leaked cables. He stated:
The publication of leaked communications, knowing the damage they have caused or are likely to cause, may also be a criminal matter.

I would advise all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s government.
The public backlash was swift however, as many public figures rebuked the Met’s shot across the press bow.
The following day Basu was then forced to walk-back the Met’s threat to the press, issuing a type of retraction some 24 hours after.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added:
Freedom of the press is vital, of course. There are rules around that and there are considerable protections for journalists who do reveal things and that, of course, is the right thing to do.
From this exchange we learned that there was much more going on behind the scenes with this story than previously thought.

The ground was now set for a disturbing authoritarian legislative drive, quietly unleashed through the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), which included the soon-to-be-Home Secretary, Priti Patel; it submitted recommendations to the government at the end of July following its own inquiry, described as “An urgent look at tackling a culture of leaks”
The unauthorised disclosure of material sent by Sir Kim Darroch makes one thing very clear: those who leak are reckless and dangerous. In this case they have caused the resignation of a dedicated and skilled public servant, undermined the influence of the United Kingdom around the world and, potentially, caused a damaging rift with our most important ally.

The leak of Sir Kim’s communications is an egregious act by the leaker and the Committee urges the Government to use all its resources to identify and apprehend the leaker and apply the toughest of sanctions at its disposal. The Committee believes however that the sanctions available under the Official Secrets Act are not necessarily sufficient for penalising breaches of the gravity of this most recent leak. In any event, it is evident that those penalties did not act as a sufficient deterrent.
The wording focuses on the specifics of the Darroch case and forces us to narrow our view of leaks (and those who leak) to that of self-serving individuals undeserving of any public support or legal protections. Meanwhile, as we focus on the mischief-makers who leak, this same report proceeds to attack whistleblowers and truth tellers who make personal sacrifices to stop state-sponsored abuse:
 … integrity must be preserved when dealing with leaks by an unambiguous response that conveys clearly that any leak will not be tolerated.
What the FAC and Patel are attempting to do here is to somehow justify harsher sanctions and extend prison sentences under the Official Secrets Act – all on the basis of a murky Darroch case. It would be very easy to translate this as political opportunism by an increasingly authoritarian government and political class.

Should we consent to risk harsher penalties for those who expose state-sponsored crime and corruption, at their own personal risk, based on leaks we might not care for or disapprove of?

Throughout the report there is no distinction between leaks or references to whistleblowing for matters of public interest. The term ‘whistleblower’ is used once in the report but is given no time, importance or explanation. It is left hanging like some abstract ideal used only to highlight the ill-intent of the Darroch leak.
Yet, while the committee calls on the government to review and ‘strengthen’ the Official Secrets Act to impose harsher sentences, it makes no reference to the fact this has been ongoing for the last few years and the Law Commission is due to publish its final recommendations this year. Its 2017 initial recommendations led to an outcry from politicians and journalists, who condemned its authoritarian suggestions for increasing prison sentences from 2 to 14 years. Using the Darroch case as a platform, the FAC, with Patel now at the helm of the Home Office, has laid the groundwork so that the Law Commission’s full frontal attack on whistle blowers – should its 2017 recommendations remain in place- might be more palatable.

The inquiry appears to have been planned prior to Darroch’s resignation given that the first witness session was held within hours of his decision to resign, the day after Trump’s tweet. It was then wrapped up inside of two weeks. Was the hurry through panic or opportunism?

The advice given by the expert witnesses in the rushed inquiry actually challenges several of the FAC’s recommendations. These include its recommendations around re-classifying information, disabling the forward button on its systems, and empowering the FAC to screen all ambassadorial candidates prior to their appointment by government. Even the former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, known for his approval for regime changes, did not see the purpose of lengthy prison sentences for those who leak information. All agreed the ‘culture of loyalty’ to be the best protection against leaks. The FAC seems to have its own agenda whatever. Most clearly, beneath its desperate reflexive maneuvering to stop leaks… is the attack on whistleblowers.

Pockets of the leaks inquiry reveal how whistleblowers are really viewed by British diplomats, as shown in this comment offered by Adam Thomson, former UK permanent representative to NATO:
There are other leaks that can be massively more damaging, such as cases where lives are lost because sources and methods have been disclosed, or things on the scale of what Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were responsible for, which, I assume, have had large-scale consequences for how the US system operates.
Thomson does not explain the things Manning and Snowden ‘were responsible for’ but we get the message that their whistleblowing of state-sponsored abuses are never to be mentioned by government officials; state-sponsored murders and human rights violations are airbrushed. As is always the case, any statements about “loss of lives because sources and methods have been disclosed” is kept intentionally vague and unqualified. Surely an inquiry into why leaks should be stopped would be the ideal place to provide evidence of deaths they have caused?

During the inquiry whistleblowers were smeared as being ‘useful idiots’ or individuals working for governments intent on malevolent leaking. It is within the description of malevolent and useful idiot that former UK ambassador to the US Peter Westmacott places Wikileaks and whistleblowers:
If you are, say, a Government that is into malevolent leaking of another Government’s communications, you might quite like to use a cut-out, or if you are the Russians you might use Wikileaks, for example. You might use either a useful idiot or somebody who shares that interest in getting that material into the public domain.
Here we have the "malign Russian influence" narrative regularly used to attack Wikileaks, and to smear whistleblowers, or any other political dissent for that matter. But as John Pilger points out, the numbers do not add up if we are to believe Wikileaks conspires with the Kremlin:

That Wikileaks is seen as the enemy during the inquiry is clear: the fear of having the impunity of its diplomatic and political class challenged is an unacceptable red line for the British elite. That the UK government has spent almost a decade assisting the US in its persecution of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, is the evidence.

Bob Seely Tory MP for the Isle of White, who sits on the FAC, has aggressively promulgated the ‘malign influence of the Putin government’ narrative. The political agenda of Seely and the FAC around Russia has led to the formation of the UK’s Magnitsky sanctions. These originated from the politically-driven US Magnitsky Act based on the dubious claims against the Russian government made by Bill Browder, and used to target individuals. Although the sanctions are in theory applicable to any individual, not just Russians, the agenda of the FAC and individuals like Seely appears to be to drive a ‘new cold war’ narrative between Russia and the West.

Following Assange’s arrest on 11th April, after being unconstitutionally stripped of his asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship rights inside the Ecuadorian embassy, he was charged by the US government for what amounts to a bogus conspiracy to hack a US government computer charge. It relates to Manning’s 2010 release of documents exposing US war crimes published by Wikileaks, and was accompanied with a request for Assange’s extradition to the US. That day, Seely made the following comment in Parliament:
I understand that the potential extradition to the United States relates to the half a million leaked documents in the Chelsea Manning case. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is potentially a more serious and disturbing case against Julian Assange in relation to his and WikiLeaks’ role in the Kremlin’s 2016 attempts to interfere with and manipulate the United States presidential elections, when WikiLeaks was used by Russian military intelligence—the GRU—as the primary vehicle to disseminate the stolen documents, hacked by the GRU from the Democratic party? While some see him as an information war hero, others see him as a useful stooge of an authoritarian state.
Seely continued pushing the Russia government hacking conspiracy narrative, one that has been shown by numerous intelligence analysts to be false and also rebuked by a recent US court ruling. The same day, in an article in the Telegraph, he called Assange a ‘useful idiot and left-wing dupe‘. The article drives the narrative that Assange is somehow implicated in a Russian intelligence conspiracy designed to undermine American democracy by interfering in the 2016 elections, and describes Assange’s role, crucially, as disseminating documents. Seely then goes on to suggest that only by being forced by a court, could Assange answer questions of what happened. In his article Seely recognises documents were leaked to Wikileaks and Assange by whoever accessed them in order for them to be published: a practice in journalism. This did not stop a member of the FAC and government from effectively suggesting prosecution for exactly that.

Isn’t Seely suggesting here that disseminators of information, otherwise known as journalists and publishers, should be forced into court to answer questions on their sources? It seems so.

New US Court Ruling Vindicates for Assange, WikiLeaks

Seely’s authoritarian stance was exposed last week as a federal judge in New York, Judge John Koeltl, dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over WikiLeaks’ publication of DNC documents in 2016. The judge ruled that:
Journalists are allowed to request documents that have been stolen and to publish those documents.

A person is entitled [to] publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.
This ruling by a US judge is significant as it upholds the ability of journalists to report matters of public concern without being criminalised, a protection for free speech:
If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet. But that would impermissibly elevate a purely private privacy interest to override the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. The DNC’s published internal communications allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election. This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers.
It is also vindication that Assange, now facing trumped-up charges of espionage in the US, is a journalist who has published information on matters of great public interest and importance through Wikileaks.

The future of press freedom in the UK is of great concern. In its 2017 recommendations, the Law Commission, in addition to suggesting higher prison sentences for whistleblowers, proposed prosecuting those who receive and disseminate information covered under the Official Secrets Act. Those who receive and disseminate information are journalists. Seely’s article on Assange indicates how within the corridors of power there is desire to place journalists in the dock simply for doing their job. What’s more, the statement released by the Metropolitan police following the publication of the Darroch emails, that media outlets should not publish leaked government documents should perhaps not be swept aside as some random error.

Given the mounted attack on press freedom by the UK government through its support of Assange’s extradition to the US, effectively for doing journalism, combined with the potential attack on whistleblowers and journalists under the Official Secrets Act – which the new Home Secretary appears to be cheerleading already – the public should remain more vigilant than ever and treat any comment about prosecuting journalists as suspicious.

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 14:55:19 GMT
Evidence Of CIA Meeting HK Protest Leaders? China Summons US Diplomats Over Viral Photo Tyler Durden
Hong Kong protest activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung seen meeting Julie Eadeh, political chief of US Consulate.

After a viral photo surfaced this week revealing continuing contact between well-known Hong Kong pro-independence protest leaders and a US diplomatic officer, China has summoned US consulate officials stationed in the city, Bloomberg reports.

According to a statement from Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, Chinese officials asked the Americans to clarify media reports that a US diplomat had contacted the local protest leaders. Bloomberg reports the clear firm message sent that "China firmly opposes any contacts with them and urges US to stop sending wrong signals to violent law breakers in Hong Kong."

As well organized anti-Beijing protests have raged and continued to escalate this summer over the deeply controversial extradition bill, Beijing authorities have repeatedly blamed a US "hidden hand" for fueling the crisis.

Pro-Beijing publications reported that protest leaders and key organizers Joshua Wong and Nathan Law had met with American consular official Julie Eadeh in the late afternoon on Tuesday at the JW Marriott Hotel in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong.

The viral photograph confirms the meeting took place and is driving outrage in China. State media claimed Eadeh - identified as the political unit chief of US Consulate General - met with the activists to discuss plans regarding the controversial extradition bill.
According to the UK's The Standard, Joshua Wong brushed off the significance of the meeting while admitting it did happen:
Wong dismissed the allegation following an inquiry by The Standard, saying: "I even went to Washington several times, so what's so special about meeting a US Consul?"
Wong explained he did meet with the US official to discuss the extradition bill, but also in order to urge the United States to cease exports of tear gas and rubber bullets to the Hong Kong SAR government.
It wasn't his first meeting with US officials, Wong stated further: "We also met the US Consul that visited the Legislative Council and have a meeting with pro-establishment and pan-democrat legislators," according to his statement.
The contact between the anti-China force and a US diplomat is "solid evidence" the US is behind the riots in Hong Kong, Li Haidong, a professor with the China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times. — China's Global Times
Likely, Wong's rebuttal will not appease Chinese media and authorities who point to the incident as proof of US subversive action against Beijing inside the semi-autonomous city.

Eadeh has been engaged in diplomatic missions across the globe, especially in political "hot spots" from Baghdad to Beirut to Jerusalem to Taipei and Shanghai during her lengthy career with the US State Department, according to a short biographical essay she recently penned for Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Chinese state media pundits, however, have pointed to her career stationed in war zones such as Beirut during the 2006 war and in Baghdad and Mosul as suggesting she may be more than a mere "consular officer". Covert CIA officers often pose as State Department consular staff in order to conceal their identity, while also giving them diplomatic immunity in host countries.

One columnist for the Communist Party state newspaper, China Daily, went so far as to say the US diplomatic meeting with protesters points to CIA involvement in the unrest on Hong Kong's streets.

The newspaper's Europe bureau chief, Chen Weihua, wrote on Twitter:
There were reports suggesting Julie Eadeh is a trained subversion expert at the US consulate in Hong Kong. Her meeting with HK protesters would be evidence of US inciting and instigating the riots in Hong Kong. Is she under the direct order of former CIA chief Mike Pompeo?
Whether this is the case or not, we can imaging how US officials would react if Chinese or Russian diplomats were photographed meeting with American anti-government protesters at a moment of serious unrest in US cities.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]> Thu, 08 Aug 2019 19:17:31 GMT
Rothbard And War - With Guest Lew Rockwell upcoming speech at the Ron Paul Institute Washington conference and the importance of Rothbard to antiwar thought. We also discuss the headlines of the day, including the recent mass shootings and the US "maximum pressure" campaign against China. Tune in to today's Liberty Report:

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US Seizes Cargo Ship Trying to Deliver Food to Venezuela Jason Ditz

The US continues to escalate its anti-Venezuela measures this week, having announced Monday night that sanctions have grown to an economic embargo, and now that appears to include a naval blockade. 

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced on Wednesday that the United States had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela in the Panama Canal. The ship was carrying soy cakes for the production of food.

US officials as yet have not commented, but it’s not clear under what pretext they consider themselves allowed to seize a ship carrying food. The Panama Canal is no longer US territory in the first place, and seizing a food ship bound for Venezuela after spending most of 2019 claiming Venezuelans are starving and in need of food aid seems particularly spiteful.

Vice President Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s right to food.

Venezuela’s Ambassador to the UN also raised the issue, saying the Security Council needs to prevent US violations. Since the US has veto power at the Security Council, that’s clearly not going to happen, though it will hopefully bring more attention to the matter. 

Reprinted with permission from
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