Thursday, June 22, 2017

Today's Links

"Washington is pushing the confrontation with Russia as part of its strategy of removing Moscow as an impediment to its drive for supremacy over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia and dominance over the Eurasian continent, which it considers essential to taking on its biggest rival for global domination, China."

Barry Grey, WSWS

1--Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket

Clinton’s popular-vote plurality and the #Resistance, which manifested itself in massive protests against Trump’s presidency, gave hope to the Democrats that they didn’t need to undertake a serious self-examination into why the party is in decline across the nation’s heartland. Instead, they decided to stoke the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in the election as the short-cut to bring down Trump and his populist movement.

A Party of Snobs?

From conversations that I’ve had with some Trump voters in recent weeks, I was struck by how they viewed the Democratic Party as snobbish, elitist and looking down its nose at “average Americans.” And in conversations with some Clinton voters, I found confirmation for that view in the open disdain that the Clinton backers expressed toward the stupidity of anyone who voted for Trump. In other words, the Trump voters were not wrong to feel “dissed.”...

By insisting that Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee – after leftist populist Bernie Sanders was pushed aside – the party also ignored the fact that many Americans, including many Democrats, viewed Clinton as the perfectly imperfect candidate for an anti-Establishment year with many Americans still fuming over the Wall Street bailouts and amid the growing sense that the system was rigged for the well-connected and against the average guy or gal.

In the face of those sentiments, the Democrats nominated a candidate who personified how a relatively small number of lucky Americans can play the system and make tons of money while the masses have seen their dreams crushed and their bank accounts drained. And Clinton apparently still hasn’t learned that lesson....

Her excuse captured much of what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party as it moved from its working-class roots and New Deal traditions to becoming a party that places “identity politics” ahead of a duty to fight for the common men and women of America.
Demonstrating her political cluelessness, Clinton used the serious issue of women not getting fair treatment in the workplace to justify taking her turn at the Wall Street money trough, gobbling up in one half-hour speech what it would take many American families a decade to earn.

While it’s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party’s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans. Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats...

Earlier this year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 28 percent of Americans saying that the Democrats were “in touch with the concerns of most people” – an astounding result given the Democrats’ long tradition as the party of the American working class and the party’s post-Vietnam War reputation as favoring butter over guns.
Yet rather than rethink the recent policies, the Democrats prefer to fantasize about impeaching President Trump and continuing a blame-game about who – other than Hillary Clinton, her campaign and the Democratic National Committee – is responsible for Trump’s election. Of course, it’s the Russians, Russians, Russians!...

Mixed in was a commitment to the rights of various identity groups, a worthy goal although this tolerance paradoxically contributed to a new form of prejudice among some liberals who came to view many white working-class people as fat, stupid and bigoted, society’s “losers.”...

Rather than face these facts, the national Democrats – led by President Obama and his intelligence chiefs – decided on a different approach, to seek to reverse the election by blaming the result on the Russians. Obama, his intelligence chiefs and a collaborative mainstream media insisted without presenting any real evidence that the Russians had hacked into Democratic emails and released them to the devastating advantage of Trump, as if the minor controversies from leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta explained Trump’s surprising victory

2--Amazon octopus gobbles up whole foods

Lina Khah wrote in a 2017 Yale Law Journal in regard to Amazon’s growing monopoly, that “in addition to being a retailer, Amazon is a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading provider of cloud server space and computing power. For the most part, Amazon has expanded into these areas by acquiring existing firms.”

Amazon’s cloud data storage service, for example, controls 33 percent of total market share, more than Microsoft, IBM and Google combined. Its clients include leading corporations and the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Department of Defense.
The company controls a significant portion of the logistical veins of international distribution, linking together roughly 400,000 warehouse workers at hundreds of fulfillment centers spread across five continents. Amazon commands a fleet of trucks, freighters, drones and airplanes, plus a small army of Uber-like flex delivery drivers who transport goods to over 100 countries.

Amazon’s growing dominance is part of a broader concentration of power across all industries. The share of GDP produced by America’s largest 100 corporations rose from 33 percent in 1994 to 46 percent in 2013. The five largest American banks now account for 45 percent of total banking assets, nearly double from 25 percent in 2000.

3--UAE has secret torture prisons in Yemen, US involved in interrogations – AP

4--Putin to watch joining of Turkish Stream gas pipeline sections

5--U.S. Torture, A Saudi Coup And ISIS Crimes - "By, With And Through Allies"

6--Former secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson says points the finger at Putin

(Johnson says vote tallies were not impacted)

Around mid-August, Mr. Johnson said, federal officials began hearing reports of “scanning and probing” of some state voter database registries. In the weeks after, intelligence officials became convinced the Russians were behind those efforts, though he said it was not until January that they were “in a position to say” that.

The administration formally accused the Russian government on Oct. 7, when Mr. Johnson and James R. Clapper Jr., then the director of national intelligence, released a statement saying the Russians had leaked information “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”...

Noting that the hacking happened “at the direction of

Vladimir Putin himself,” Mr. Johnson said he was moved to try to shield the nation’s election system by the “unprecedented” nature of Russian interference in the last election.

“What I mean is that we not only saw infiltrations, but we saw efforts to dump information into the public space for the purpose of influencing the ongoing campaign,” he said, referring to the disclosure of hacked emails.

Republicans also seized on the statement in January by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, that the D.N.C. refused to turn over its servers to investigators after it was discovered that the servers had been hacked.

Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a Republican who is helping to lead the committee’s investigation into Russian interference, asked Mr. Johnson why a victim — in this case, the D.N.C. — would not turn over evidence of a crime.

“If they had turned the server over to you or Director Comey, maybe we would have known more,” Mr. Gowdy said.

7--Johnson said, “To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots,

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Wednesday that the Russian government did not alter ballots, ballots counts, or the reporting of votes in last November's U.S. presidential election.

In his written testimony Johnson said, “To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results. I am not in a position to know whether the successful Russian government-directed hacks of the DNC and elsewhere did in fact alter public opinion and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election."

During questioning by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Johnson confirmed that the Russians in no way altered any votes.
“You said in your opening statement, or in your prepared remarks, that to your knowledge, there was no vote-tallying changes--that no one’s vote was, they voted one way and it was recorded some other way. Is that still your opinion with respect to the ‘16 election that the intrusions or attempted whatever it is the Russians or others did not affect the actual voting itself?” Conaway asked.

“Based on everything I know, that is correct. I know of no evidence that through cyber intrusions votes were altered or suppressed in some way,” Johnson said.

8--Comey says, 'No collusion'

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin reiterates, after two hearings with former FBI Director James Comey, that there is no evidence "whatsoever" to prove the Trump campaign "colluded" with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now joined by a member of the Senate intelligence committee, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Senator Manchin, thank you for joining us this morning.

You were in that room on Thursday for all three hours. You questioned James Comey. Was he a credible witness?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. He did a good job and I think everyone there, Democrats and Republicans alike, thought he did a good job. And he was forthcoming. He offered to come to the committee not only in an open session, he came to a closed session also, George, and that was pretty special because when you heard him say I'm sorry I can't answer that and speak about that in this setting, that was of a higher classified and we went into a classified hearing afterwards, he answered everybody's questions. So we were very appreciative of that.

STEPHANOPOULOS; Do you agree with this conclusion that the president has reached that there was no evidence of collusion?

MANCHIN: You know, we haven't seen any of that whatsoever, George. We've been looking and showing everything they possibly have. That has not led to that. We have ultimate -- all of us have the utmost respect for Bob Mueller, both on the Democrat and Republican side. I believe he's going to do his job thoroughly. We will accept his recommendation and pathway forward and I think that's extremely important that we all agree this is the right person, the right time to do this type of work.

9--'Not true': James Comey denounces NYT report on Trump campaign collusion with Russia during testimony

The New York Times got it wrong when it reported this year that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election, former FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The New York Times story, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," was published on Feb. 14.

The story, which was anonymously sourced, alleged that members of Trump's campaign team communicated with Russian agents at around the same time that hackers published personal emails stolen from Democratic National Committee staffers and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

However, Comey flatly disputed all of that.

"That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?" Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, asked.

"In the main, it was not true," Comey replied. "The challenge, and I'm not picking on reporters, about writing on classified information is: The people talking about it often don't really know what's going on, and those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it."

He added, "And we don't call the press to say, ‘Hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic.' We just have to leave it there."

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., later asked Comey if the story was "almost entirely wrong," and Comey said yes.

The paper, for its part, disputed these accounts. It maintained this week that its reporting is accurate, and also said its reporters are "looking into" Comey's remarks.

The apparently bogus New York Times report created a big splash when it was first published, practically kicking off a news cycle of its own. However, it was apparent even then that the story had serious problems.

One immediately noticeable flaw involved buried information presented to the reader only after the story had introduced the idea of Russian collusion.

The report opened with these two paragraphs:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

It doesn't look good for Trump. The headline alone leads readers to suspect a disturbing partnership between Trump's campaign and the Russians.

However, buried in the third paragraph in the New York Times report is a crucial detail: "The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation."


That's an important piece of information, and it should have been included in the story's first paragraph. It doesn't really matter now. The whole thing is apparently nonsense, according to Comey.

10--NATO warplane buzzes jet carrying Russian defense minister over Baltic Sea

Washington is pushing the confrontation with Russia as part of its strategy of removing Moscow as an impediment to its drive for supremacy over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia and dominance over the Eurasian continent, which it considers essential to taking on its biggest rival for global domination, China....

On Wednesday, a NATO F-16 buzzed a Russian jet carrying the country’s defense minister in international air space over the Baltic Sea. Just three days previously, a US jet brought down a government plane in Syria, the first such attack since the beginning of the US war for regime-change in 2011. The US action prompted Moscow, whose military forces are backing the Syrian regime, to announce that it will henceforth target US aircraft flying over the western part of that country. Russia also said it would cut off the “deconfliction” hot line that has been used to prevent clashes between US and Russian planes operating in Syria.

In yesterday’s incident, a warplane of the US-dominated military alliance approached the Russian aircraft as it flew to Kaliningrad, a western Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to meet with Russian military officials. An Su-27 escort fighter got in way of the NATO plane and tilted its wings to show its weapons, whereupon the intruding NATO plane flew off.

11--The Democrats’ fraudulent opposition to Trumpcare

12--The New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaign

Under the headline “Mr. Trump’s Dangerous Indifference to Russia,” the Times uses the language of war to assert: “A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election… The unprecedented nature of Russia’s attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn’t be.”

The Times presents zero evidence to back up a wild reference to “the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.” The editorial simply declares, “American intelligence agencies have concluded,” followed by a long list of allegations:

“Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.

“Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the November 8 vote.”

Editorial page editor James Bennet presents not a single fact that supports the Times ’ assertions. What is the evidence that there were “direct orders” from Putin, or that hackers linked to Russian intelligence raided Democratic email accounts and supplied material to WikiLeaks, or that (other?) hackers tried to access voter databases and the computers of local election officials? The entire mountain of accusations is suspended in air.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today's Links

"The Democratic Party, working in close sync with the Pentagon and the CIA, has conducted an unrelenting campaign of anti-Russian hysteria aimed at creating a new, ostensibly liberal, constituency for war among privileged layers of the middle class. Democrats have endorsed every new act of military escalation in Syria, demanding only that the Trump administration present a “comprehensive” plan for war and, in some cases, calling for the passage of a new authorization for use of military force to legitimize military aggression." Bill Van Auken, WSWS

The Democrats are also seeking by means of their neo-McCarthyite campaign against Russia to channel mass anger within the US over Trump's attacks on democratic rights and social programs behind the war agenda of American imperialism....

The entire edifice of charges of supposed Russian interference in the election in support of Trump, promoted by the US spy agencies and the Democrats, rests on bald assertions backed by no substantive evidence. The role of the media in promoting this hysterical campaign, whose logical outcome is war between the world's two largest nuclear powers. WSWS

“In the world of Democratic loyalists the idea that reality should be observable is now a subversive conspiracy.” Karl Kaiser

1--Why Democrats keep losing elections (video) Tucker Carlson ((provocative)

2--BRICS: Syria's Territorial Integrity Is Non-Negotiable

 The BRICS countries are at one on the necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. We have a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which has held two meetings and has a considerable potential. These efforts should be taken in an interdepartmental format.   ... The BRICS countries are at one on the necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. We have a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which has held two meetings and has a considerable potential. These efforts should be taken in an interdepartmental format.

3--The “People’s Summit:” Sanders wing seeks to give Democratic Party a facelift

In his opening address to the “People’s Summit,” Sanders made a point of solidarizing himself with the hysterical anti-Russian campaign waged by the Democrats and much of the media....

The reforms promoted by Sanders and his allies are, in fact, extremely limited. They do not in any way challenge the basic property interests or power of the ruling corporate-financial elite. They include a $15 minimum wage, “Medicare for all,” student loan forgiveness and a tax on financial speculation. There are no calls, as in genuine insurgent social movements of the first part of the last century such as Populism, for public ownership of sections of industry such as the railroads and utilities. Sanders’ proposals are anemic even compared to demands raised in an earlier period by reform factions within the two major parties for universal health care, affordable public housing, etc.

The “People’s Summit,” held in Chicago June 9-11, was part of an effort by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party and a faction of the trade union bureaucracy, backed by several pseudo-left groups, to refashion the image of the Democratic Party in the aftermath of its 2016 electoral debacle.

These forces are politically motivated by the fear that the crisis of the Democratic Party, particularly its loss of support in the working class, will prevent it from carrying out its traditional role of diverting and dissipating social opposition and subordinating the working class to bourgeois politics. Frightened by the explosive growth of anger against the entire political establishment and increasing interest in socialism among working people and particularly youth, they are seeking to give this party of Wall Street and the CIA a political facelift....

The party establishment is instead focusing on prosecuting its anti-Russian witch-hunt and attacking President Donald Trump from the right, labeling him a stooge of the Kremlin, while all but ignoring the administration’s savage attacks on health care, immigrant and democratic rights, public education and environmental and safety regulations....

Lawrence Dreyfuss, a spokesman for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), echoed the Democrats’ anti-Russia rhetoric, telling the World Socialist Web Site that the Russians posed the greatest threat to “the autonomy of our country, perhaps in all our history.”
“Regardless of capitalism,” he said, “you have a problem because our country can’t work if it’s not an autonomous country. Even if that threat to our autonomy comes from Wall Street, I’ll take that over feeling like we’re being controlled by a country whose constitution I can’t abide by.”...

The basic premise of the “People’s Summit” was that an amelioration of social inequality can be achieved without overthrowing the capitalist system. The vast economic decay of American capitalism over the last four decades, however, and the rise of a financial oligarchy to the pinnacle of economic and political power, mean that any struggle to seriously improve the conditions of the working class will require an attack on concentrated wealth and power. This can be achieved only through a socialist revolution by the working class.

4--The US escalation in Syria and the threat of world war

Syria is not an “exporter” of terror, but rather the victim of the Al Qaeda-linked militias that were unleashed upon the country by the CIA and Washington’s regional allies in a war for regime change. As for Al Qaeda’s “safe haven,” it has been defended by the US, which has repeatedly denounced the Syrian government and Russia for bombing these so-called “rebels” and insisted that only ISIS can be targeted....

The threat was to be dealt with by the US military seizing for itself “a base of operations in what is eastern Syria, along the Euphrates,” from Raqqa in the north to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders to the south. One of the aims of the American intervention, she stated, would be to “energize Sunni populations in the Euphrates River zone, which has been a hotbed of ISIS support, but before it, Al Qaida support.” In other words, Washington will seek to reignite the sectarian war for regime change based on Sunni Islamist militias, but this time with American “boots on the ground.”
How many US troops will this operation require? “I don’t know,” Kagan said. “It’s not 150,000 guys. But it’s got to be enough to be present and to extend presence forward.” Key to this military adventure, she added, was to “prepare for what the Russians and the Iranians will try to do to respond.”...

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, working in close sync with the Pentagon and the CIA, has conducted an unrelenting campaign of anti-Russian hysteria aimed at creating a new, ostensibly liberal, constituency for war among privileged layers of the middle class. Democrats have endorsed every new act of military escalation in Syria, demanding only that the Trump administration present a “comprehensive” plan for war and, in some cases, calling for the passage of a new authorization for use of military force to legitimize military aggression.

5--The New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaign

. The newspaper is attempting to condition American public opinion and overcome popular opposition to an escalating military confrontation with the world’s second-largest nuclear power....

The Times presents zero evidence to back up a wild reference to “the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.” The editorial simply declares, “American intelligence agencies have concluded,” followed by a long list of allegations:
“Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.

“Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the November 8 vote.”

The most recent allegations, about alleged hacking into voter databases and local election computers, are based on a National Security Agency (NSA) report leaked to The Intercept web publication, which even The Intercept admitted contained no underlying evidence to substantiate the NSA’s claims.

Not a single one of the reports in the Times or Post is the product of a genuine investigation by journalists. Instead, the main reporting on the “Russian hacking” affair consists of taking dictation from unidentified intelligence officials. In not a single case did these officials offer evidence to substantiate their claims, invariably made in the form of ambiguous phrases like “we assess,” “we believe,” “we assess with high confidence,” etc. Such claims are worth no more than previous assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—a lie used to justify a war that has killed more than one million people.
Editorial page editor James Bennet presents not a single fact that supports the Times ’ assertions...

One recent study found 81 instances—not counting outright CIA-backed military coups—in which the US government financed political parties, organized disinformation campaigns, carried out assassinations, blackmailed candidates, or otherwise sought to install its own nominees by rigging elections in countries on every continent.
One of the most flagrant such examples was the 1996 presidential election in Russia, won by the US-backed Boris Yeltsin (See: “Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin: When the White House fixed a Russian election”).

6---Russians overwhelmingly back Putin policies – US pollster

7--Anthrax And “Russiagate”: Mueller’s Special Counsel Appointment Should Raise Concern

    Major players in the U.S. government made strong efforts to link the anthrax attacks to the Iraqi government – efforts that Mueller played no part in. But in the following six years, Mueller did participate in a public disinformation campaign that muddied the waters regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks.
He and his bureau were in a position to unravel the underlying rationale for mounting an illegal invasion that left over a million Iraqi civilians dead. Instead, they worked to bury that rationale and stoke fears that would help to prop up public support for the invasion. Looking back at the way in which the case was handled, it is clear that Mueller may not be the most suitable candidate for heading the ongoing investigation into “Russiagate.”

Flimsy evidence and false accusations

As early as Nov. 9, 2001 – less than one month after the anthrax attacks began – the FBI had identified anthrax in the letters as being of the “Ames strain,” a strain of anthrax that was isolated by U.S. researchers in 1981. Due to its domestic origins, the FBI concluded that the attacks were likely perpetrated by someone working within the U.S. and not by a foreign actor.

Despite having this knowledge, the Bush administration sent then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN with a prop vial of anthrax in order to obtain support for the Iraq War. Mueller could’ve turned the course of events at the time by making sure the press was aware that the most likely culprit was inside the U.S., but instead chose not to interfere with Bush’s neoconservative agenda. Powell’s presentation of “evidence” of Iraq’s alleged possession of chemical and biological weapons formed a major part of the U.S. effort to build a case for war in Iraq – although the country’s possession of these weapons would eventually prove to be a falsehood

8--Comey admits NYTimes story was a lie

testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, former FBI Director James Comey cast doubt on a Feb. 14 New York Times report titled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.

The article, which relied on “four current and former government officials,” said that “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election” and that “the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”

Comey was asked about the report during an exchange with Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho.

RISCH:  I remember, you — you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the New York Times wrote an article that suggested that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. This is not factual. Do you recall that?


RISCH: OK. So — so, again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: In — in the main, it was not true.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, asked Comey: “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?” To which Comey replied: “Yes.”

9--Election Con 2016: New Evidence Demolishes the Myth of Trump’s “Blue-Collar” Populism

Income-wise, the single largest group of Trump supporters was comprised of individuals hailing from households earning incomes of more than $100,000 a year – which made up 35 percent of all his voters. Those earning between $75,000 to $100,000 a year accounted for 19 percent of Trump voters, meaning that 54 percent of the president’s supporters came from households earning over $75,000 a year. Another 20 percent of Trump supporters earned between $50,000 to $75,000 a year, putting them over the national median household income, which has long hovered around $50,000. In sum, approximately three-quarters of Trump voters were from households earning more than the national median income, while just one-quarter earned less than the median....

Trump voters were not more likely to be unemployed, to be lower income, or to hail from geographic regions harmed by outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Rather, Trump supporters were mainly driven by reactionary positions on social and political issues

10--St Clair on the 2016 election "Whitelash"??

Clinton lost the white vote by almost the exact same margin that Obama did to Romney in 2012....
The problem... is that Trump did 2% better with blacks than Romney did and Hillary performed 5% worse than Obama for a total spread of 7% less than the 2012 margins.
Even more startling.... is that Trump won a higher percent of Hispanic votes (29%) than Romney (27%) and Hillary won a much smaller share of Hispanic votes (65%) than Obama (71%) for a total decline of 8% from 2012.
Even so, Hillary should have won the election. Why? Because Trump got 1.5 million fewer votes than Romney....
The fatal problem is that Hillary got 5.4 million fewer votes than Obama, many of those black and Hispanic voters, and lost 6 states that Obama won twice: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio." ("Roaming Charges: Whitelash, White Heat?")

11--Diagnosing the Trumpen Proletariat

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst entitled Explaining White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism found that “while economic dissatisfaction was part of the story, racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap among whites in the 2016 presidential vote.” The analysis used data from a national survey conducted during the final week of October (just days before the election), and concluded that the negative effects of neoliberalism and the rule of Wall Street were not the single most important factor in the victory for Trump. Rather it was “whiteness” and misogyny which played a pivotal role...

None of this is to say that Hillary Clinton didn’t have plenty of white people supporting her, nor that Trump didn’t have support from non-white communities. But, taken in toto, it was the angry white vote which sealed the presidency for Trump.

12--Dislike of candidates or campaign issues was most common reason for not voting in 2016

13--Map of Syria June 21


After a 10 month-long investigation, neither the media, the DNC or the Intel agencies have produced any more evidence than they had on Day 1, in fact, many parts of their narrative are beginning to unravel. The only thing that has remained consistent throughout, is the determination of the corporate media to repeat the same lies over and over again without the slightest hesitation or remorse. Just last week, Hillary Clinton again reiterated the obvious fiction that that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that Russia hacked Democratic emails.

But this isn't true, and Hillary knows this isn't true. So why does the media which keep repeating the lie over and over again. What's their motive?  Here's excerpt from an article by Robert Parry explains what's really going on:

Clinton’s statement is false regarding the unanimity of the 17 agencies and misleading regarding her other claims. Both former DNI James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged in sworn testimony last month that the Jan. 6 report alleging Russian “meddling” did not involve all 17 agencies

Intercept: "While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive."...BTW, this little tidbit was sandwiched halfway through the Intercept piece: According to the Department of Homeland Security, the assessment reported reassuringly, “the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.”

was Russian intelligence probing U.S. electoral systems? Quite plausibly yes, and it should be a matter of concern for every American as it suggests a vulnerability in the electronics behind how we vote. But did Russia actually interfere with the election or seek to use the probing to elect a particular candidate? The answer is clearly no. The article and the document it is based on should serve as a wake-up call to those who are complacent about the security of our technologies. But on a political level, we are back to square one, with often hysterical allegations surfaced as part of the media and political storm we now refer to as Russiagate

In his Senate testimony Thursday, Comey combined allegations of White House interference in the Russia probe with inflammatory accusations against Moscow. In a laudatory editorial on Friday, the New York Times singled out for praise Comey's declaration, “This is about America.”  Russia “tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act… They're coming after America.”

The World Socialist Web Site has repeatedly explained the political issues in the anti-Russian campaign, which represents an effort by the most powerful sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party and the bulk of the corporate media, to force the Trump White House to adhere to the foreign policy offensive against Moscow embarked on during the second term of the Obama administration, particularly since the 2014 US-backed ultra-right coup in Ukraine.
Those factions of the ruling class and intelligence agencies leading the anti-Russia campaign are particularly incensed that Russian intervention in Syria stymied plans to escalate the proxy civil war in that country into a full-fledged regime-change operation. They want to see Assad in Syria meet the same fate as Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Their fanatical hatred of Putin indicates that they have similar ambitions in mind for the Russian president.

Here's what Comey said in his testimony:

"I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, 'We need to get that fact out.... The President went on to say that if there were some 'satellite' associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him."

Comey's statement confirms that Trump supported the apprehension of  "associates of his who did something wrong."

This is not about truth or fairness or protecting this country from foreign threats. It's about toppling a democratically-elected government that the permanent class in Washington doesn't like. For the record, collusion with a foreign government against the interests of the United States  is tantamount to treason. It is  definitely a moral crime and we would never defend it, we would attack it.  But there's no evidence that it actually happened. This whole story is a hoax, it's a lie that those who tell it are beginning to believe. That is the definition of mass hysteria. It is deeply hurting our country and yet, otherwise smart people are press forward as if it is all entirely real, despite mounting evidence that it's not real at all. Yesterday, for example, James Comey told the Senate that a major New York Times story from February that pushed a "Russia collusion" narrative was actually garbage. The story in question, you won't be surprised to learn, was based on anonymous sources and, after Comey made his comments, the Times admitted it couldn't even find those sources for a response. (sarcastically) Whatever. The Russians hacked our democracy, let's find another witch to burn.
Tucker Carlson

The NSA "intelligence report" the Intercept publishes along the piece does NOT show that "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack". The document speaks of "cyber espionage operations" - i.e someone looked and maybe copied data but did not manipulate anything. Espionage via computer networks is something every nation in this world (and various private entities) do all the time. It is simply the collection of information. It is different from a "cyberattack" like Stuxnet which was intended to create large damage,

The "attack" by someone was standard spearfishing and some visual basic scripts to gain access to accounts of local election officials. Any minor criminal hacker uses similar means. No damage is mentioned in the NSA analysis. The elections were not compromised by this operation." (Do Not Trust The Intercept or How To Burn A Source, Moon Of Alabama)

It seems to me that the DNC-media-Intel Community establishment needed this leak to shore-up their evidence-free Russiagate storyline

 “A politicized analysis that violated normal rules for crafting intelligence assessments.”
Here’s how veteran journalist Robert Parry summed it up:
“The report contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks….The DNI report…as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses”….suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.” (“US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’”, Robert Parry, Consortium News

It is more important to remove Donald J Trump than leak classified information that documents that Russian Encryption has been broken.
“Obama administration said that they do not have any evidence that Russia hacked voting”. The only reason for the GRU penetration would be to determine if they could hack the electronic voting systems. Since this was kept silent, it indicates that the systems are hackable and likely have been from the get-go by design by the corporations who built them. The only counter is paper ballots counted in public.

The (intercept)article even says that NO EVIDENCE has been presented: "While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive."
The information is a lie, just like the original report from the Director of National Intelligence, as I detail here:

Einsatzgruppen  rolling putsch

Mueller is a card-carrying apparatchik of the Deep State, who was there at the founding of today's surveillance monster as Director of the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on a vastly exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism that doesn't exist, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going----a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.
So he will "find" extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking and his investigatory team is being loaded up with prosecutorial killers who have proven records of thuggery when it comes to finding crimes that make for the fame and fortune of the prosecutors----even if the crime itself never happened. David Stockman

The January 6th presentation of the Steele "dossier" to Trump was an outright act of Hoover-style blackmail by the FBI director; and a ringing statement that the phony "Russian meddling" narrative would be used against the White House whenever it suited the purposes of Comey and the Deep State he represented.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today's Links

1--Human Rights Watch report: US using white phosphorous in Raqqa and Mosul

If Assad or Putin used these weapons it would be headline news. When the US uses them, hardly a whimper

“Horrific civilian harm from previous use of white phosphorus has generated public outrage and this latest use of white phosphorus underscores the urgent need for states to strengthen international law relating to incendiary weapons,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch
A Raqqa resident living in Beirut told the New York Times that an internet cafe in Raqqa was recently hit by white phosphorus, killing around 20 people...

In early 2017, US Marine artillery deployed to Syria in support of the operation to retake Raqqa, an operation in which Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are also participating. The Washington Post published photographs of the deployed Marine unit equipped with white phosphorus projectiles, as well as similar pictures showing white phosphorus projectiles with US Army units outside Mosul. The SDF announced the offensive to take Raqqa from ISIS on June 6. The reason for this use of white phosphorus cannot be determined from the videos, which shows white phosphorus being used just after sunset...

In both Mosul and Raqqa, the US-led forces are using US-made M825-series 155mm artillery projectiles containing 116 felt wedges impregnated with white phosphorus, which ignites and continues to burn when exposed to the air. This is the only type of 155mm white phosphorus projectile in US stocks that can be air-burst. Neither ISIS nor Syrian government forces are known to possess or have used these US-made munitions...

On contact, white phosphorus can also burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat, and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and they are re-exposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns are often fatal.
Attacks using air-delivered incendiary weapons in civilian areas are prohibited under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). While the protocol contains weaker restrictions for ground-launched incendiary weapons, all types of incendiary weapons produce horrific injuries. Protocol III applies only to weapons that are “primarily designed” to set fires or cause burns, and thus some countries believe it excludes certain multipurpose munitions with incendiary effects, notably those containing white phosphorus

2--Syria: Expert analysis shows US-led coalition use of white phosphorus may amount to war crime

The US-led coalition’s use of white phosphorus munitions on the outskirts of al-Raqqa, Syria is unlawful and may amount to a war crime, Amnesty International can confirm after verifying five videos of the incident.
The videos, published online on 8 and 9 June, showed the coalition’s artillery strike using the munitions over the civilian neighborhoods of Jezra and el-Sebahiya. International humanitarian law prohibits the use of white phosphorus near civilians.

“The use of white phosphorus munitions by the US-led coalition gravely endangers the lives of thousands of civilians trapped in and around al-Raqqa city, and may amount to a war crime under these circumstances. It can cause horrific injuries by burning through flesh and bone and can pose a threat even weeks after being deployed by reigniting and burning at extremely high temperatures,” said Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International.

3--US uses Banned Weapons --US-led coalition’s white phosphorus use in Mosul ‘not within int’l legal framework’ – rights groups

4--Russian Warplanes Foil Daesh Attack in Deir ez-Zor, Eliminate 180 Terrorists

Syrian government forces control over a half of Deir ez-Zor, which has been besieged by Daesh militants over three years. The Syrian forces continue an offensive aimed at lifting the siege and creating supply lines for the city’s residents. Presently, the only means of delivering supplies to the city is by air.

5--Rolling back ISIS in Iraq

the Iraqi Armed Forces have liberated the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian borders, marking the first time since 2014 that their forces have established control over this area.

6--US releases documents of Iran’s 1953 Coup

On the preface of this volume published by the Department of State it is said that ‘This Foreign Relations retrospective volume focuses on the use of covert operations by the Truman and Eisenhower administrations as an adjunct to their respective policies toward Iran, culminating in the overthrow of the Mosadeq government in August 1953.’

This volume contains a lot of documents about the correspondences between the US embassy in Tehran, the US Department of State and the CIA.

In one of the published documents on August 19, 1953, there is a five-million-dollar request of CIA agent from the US to help Zahedi’s government which reveals that the US besides its advising role in launching the coup had the direct role of funding the coup makers against Mosadeq government.

7--Putin's Syrian Surge--Operation Grand Dawn; Syrian Army's main thrust of the war aimed at liberating Iraqi border Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, all on the shores of the Euphrates....

Apart from lip service and a ceremonial strike on Syrian weaponry west of al-Tanf, the Americans have shown no signal that they are willing to walk the extra mile to wrestle the border from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus.

They have also shown no reaction to the launch of Operation Grand Dawn, which is being billed as the largest in the 7-year conflict, against ISIS. Government troops have retaken more than 1,300 of area in the Syrian Desert, between the ancient city of Palmyra and the eastern Kalamoon district. They have also reclaimed the Palmyra-Damascus Highway and are heading for al-Tanf, hoping to secure the triangle of the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi borders. The Trump White House has done nothing to stop them.

In Damascus, the feeling is that the Americans will not lift a finger to help their proxies, being satisfied with securing their share of the Syrian patchwork, which covers everything east of the Euphrates River and includes pockets of Kurdish self-rule areas, now held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the only militia on the Syrian battlefield still receiving heavy US arms and military assistance....

This was largely in response to an early May military drill by the US and Jordanian militaries called “Eager Lion.” Although annually practised since 2010, the troop build-up raised eyebrows in Iran, where generals saw it as a prelude to a massive operation by the Jordanian Army, aimed at carving a safe zone out of southern Syria and taking the remainder of the Syrian- Iraqi border.

More than half of it is in the hands of US-backed Kurdish forces while the strategic frontier city of Abu Kamal is occupied by the Islamic State (ISIS). Iranians worried that, if the Americans manage to take what was left through their proxies, this would sever the Damascus-Baghdad Highway, which is the only route for Hezbollah arms and money transported by land from Iran to Lebanon, first through Iraq and then via Syria.

In response the Syrian Army announced Operation Grand Dawn, officially aimed at liberating the eastern desert from ISIS. It is a multifaceted operation involving Syrian government troops, the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and Hezbollah — with Russian air cover, of course.

It aims to retake three strategic cities in the clutches of ISIS: Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, all on the shores of the Euphrates....

Relieved from fighting in those four territories, the Syrian Army has regrouped and marched with full weight towards the Iraqi border, seemingly assured by the Turks, via Russia, that they won’t get attacked on other fronts while doing so.

It was Erdogan’s way of telling the Americans: “If the Kurdish project does not end, I can and will create havoc for the Americans elsewhere in the Syrian battlefield, even if it means letting the regime secure a victory on the border.”

8--Robert Mueller is not trustworthy  

FBI special agent – and a 2002 Time Person of the Year – Colleen Rowley writes:

Mueller’s FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the l improperly serving hundreds of thousands of “national security letters” to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating “terrorism.”


FBI special agent Colleen Rowley points out:
Mueller was even okay with the CIA conducting torture programs after his own agents warned against participation. Agents were simply instructed not to document such torture, and any “war crimes files” were made to disappear. Not only did “collect it all” surveillance and torture programs continue, but Mueller’s (and then Comey’s) FBI later worked to prosecute NSA and CIA whistleblowers who revealed these illegalities.

Rather than being “above the fray”, Mueller is an authoritarian and water-carrier for the status quo and the powers-that-be.

As Coleen Rowley puts it:

It seems clear that based on his history and close “partnership” with Comey, called “one of the closest working relationships the top ranks of the Justice Department have ever seen,” Mueller was chosen as Special Counsel not because he has integrity but because he will do what the powerful want him to do.

Mueller didn’t speak the truth about a war he knew to be unjustified. He didn’t speak out against torture. He didn’t speak out against unconstitutional surveillance. And he didn’t tell the truth about 9/11. He is just “their man.” 

9--Gallup Finds Stunning Decline in Americans’ Respect for U.S. Government

“Gallup’s latest update shows that 28% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, while 55% have an unfavorable opinion. That’s the lowest rating for any business or industry sector we tested.” Here are the details on that net minus 27% (55% minus 28%) favorability-rating by Americans for “The federal government”:...

the reason why Americans dislike “The federal government” isn’t that it’s ‘too big’ or ‘spends too much money’ or any of the other excuses that the (widely despised) Republican Party claims, but is instead that, “Americans think that Congress is corrupt and not focused on the interests of the people. They want their representatives to compromise rather than rigidly stick to principles.” 

10--Trump comments deepen conflict with Department of Justice

Trump’s thinly veiled attack on Rosenstein could be a precursor either to Trump demanding that Rosenstein fire Mueller—which he would likely refuse—or Trump’s firing Rosenstein himself. Or Rosenstein might seek to forestall such a confrontation by recusing himself from further involvement in the Mueller-led probe, on the grounds that his own actions in firing Comey were now a subject of the investigation.

Any of these alternatives would have the same outcome: decision-making authority over Mueller and the Russia investigation would pass into the hands of the third-ranking official in the Department of Justice, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, a former Bush administration official who later served as chief counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce.

There were several unconfirmed press reports Friday, citing unnamed sources in the Justice Department, that Rosenstein was preparing to recuse himself. ABC News reported that Rosenstein had already notified Brand that she would take over if he did so.

Right-wing media backers of Trump have been preparing the ground for Trump to fire Rosenstein, Mueller or both. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich this week called Mueller “now clearly the tip of the deep state spear aimed at destroying or at a minimum undermining and crippling the Trump presidency...

President Trump cannot invoke executive privilege in relation to the Mueller investigation because it is being conducted by the Justice Department, an arm of the executive branch itself. As determined by the Supreme Court during the Watergate crisis of 1973-74, executive privilege can only be cited in relation to congressional investigations, since it stems from the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Trump’s only recourse is to dismiss Mueller outright.

11--Palace coup or class struggle: The political crisis in Washington and the strategy of the working class

The working class confronts in Trump and his administration a vicious enemy, dedicated to the destruction of its democratic rights and a further lowering of its living standards. It is a government that is pursuing an international agenda based on “America First” chauvinism. The working class must oppose this government and seek its removal. But this task must not be entrusted to Trump’s factional opponents in the ruling class. The working class cannot remain a bystander in the fight between Trump and the Democrats. Rather, it must develop its struggle against Trump under its own banner and with its own program. This requires that it has a clear understanding of the class dynamics of the unfolding political crisis....

The maniacal focus on Russia is not an accident. Trump’s foreign policy priorities are focused, as is well known, on confronting China. His alleged advocacy of a “deal” with Russia is incompatible with the strategic plan backed by dominant sections of the military, intelligence and foreign policy establishment. The destruction of Russia’s ability to frustrate American military operations is seen as central to control of the Eurasian landmass, without which an American victory in the long-term conflict with China is considered impossible.

If Trump were removed from office by his opponents in the “deep state” and the Democratic Party, it would not represent a victory for democracy, let alone an improvement in the conditions of the working class. Under the Obama administration, the ruling class oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in US history, as well as an expansion of war abroad and a continued growth in the power of the military-intelligence apparatus. Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate of Wall Street, was pledged to deepen all of these policies while escalating the war in Syria and the confrontation with Russia. The Democrats are not calling for hearings on the assault on health care, the attack on immigrant workers, the elevation of far-right nationalist forces within the administration, or war plans against North Korea, Iran and China.

If the Democrats were to achieve their aims, with the removal of Trump through some form of political coup, it would place Vice President Mike Pence in the White House, a man more polished than Trump but no less reactionary...

The latest eruption of political warfare in Washington is rooted in intractable social, economic and geopolitical crises that are eroding the foundations of the global dominance and national stability of American capitalism. Twenty-five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the efforts of American imperialism to sustain its dominance through military action have led to a series of debacles. Nearly a decade after the global economic crash of 2008, in which the recklessness of Wall Street played the major role, the American financial system remains highly unstable, sustained by an endless expansion of debt. The diseased character of the American economic system has created an oligarchic social system, the chief characteristics of which are parasitism and a staggering level of social inequality.

The election of Trump was not an accident. Trump is the personification of the oligarchy that rules America. His administration, composed of billionaires and former generals, is sharply escalating a bipartisan program of social counterrevolution and reckless militarism internationally. But within the ruling class there exist bitter divisions over how American capitalism should respond to its national and international problems. These divisions have assumed, under Trump, an extraordinary intensity.

12--Corporate mass murder in London

the death toll from Grenfell is expected to exceed the combined total resulting from every terrorist attack in the UK since the beginning of the so-called war on terror in 2001.
Whenever a terrorist attack has taken place in Britain over the last decade, the full force of the state has been brought to bear. Police have carried out raids on every person who is linked, even in the most innocuous way, to the individual terrorist. They have been immediately arrested and hauled off to be detained and grilled for days on end. In response to the Grenfell fire, not a single person in any responsible position has yet been arrested, let alone charged.
Instead we are promised a toothless inquiry!

13--Putin preaches Greater Europe

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl considered that Russia and Europe should be together, and Moscow is ready for such a unity, so Europe should aspire to that, Putin said Saturday.
"If we want to keep our civilization in this turbulent and rapidly changing world with growing centers of power — not only military power, but also economic and cultural — then, of course, Europe and Russia should be together," Putin said, citing Kohl's ideas.

14--Eurasian Integration

A tectonic geopolitical shift happened in Astana, Kazakhstan, only a few days ago, and yet barely a ripple registered in Atlanticist circles.

At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, alongside Russia, China and four Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
So now the SCO not only qualifies as the largest political organization – by area and population – in the world; it also unites four nuclear powers. The G-7 is irrelevant, as the latest summit in Taormina made it clear. The real action now, apart from the G-20, also lays in this alternative G-8...

Now the SCO is actively warning about the security “deterioration” in Afghanistan and calling for all members to support the “peace and reconciliation” process. That’s code for the SCO from now on directly engaged in finding an “all-Asian” Afghan solution – with both India and Pakistan on board – that should transcend the failed Pentagon “remedy”; more troops.  ...

Make no mistake; there will be SCO action in Afghanistan. And that will include bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. China has taken over the rotating presidency of the SCO and will be keen to show practical results in the next summit in June 2018.
Step on the gas, pay in yuan...

The SCO has also steadily evolved in terms of economic cooperation. Last year Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, proposed a SCO economic think tank alliance, also tasked to study the set up of SCO free trade zones.

This spells out further economic integration – already ongoing for scores of small-and medium-sized businesses. The trend is inevitable, in parallel to the interpenetration of the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU). 
So no wonder at their bilateral meeting in Astana, Xi and President Putin once again exhorted the merging of BRI and EEU. And we’re not talking only about the BRI, EEU and SCO trio; that also concerns the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), the Chinese Silk Road Fund — a full array of politico-economic mechanisms....

Crucially, both China and Russia are also on the same page in terms of fast-tracking Iran’s admission as a full SCO member.
Now compare it with US Secretary of State “T.Rex” Tillerson calling for regime change in Iran.
As Eurasia integration inexorably moves in leaps and bounds, the contrast with the proverbially swampy Atlanticist arrogance could not be more glaring....

Beijing already understood the ultra high stakes ramifications via its relationship with Qatar – a key natural gas provider sooner or later to accept payment for energy in yuan.
Qatar’s quiet pivot towards Iran – the key reason that drove the cornered House of Saud absolutely bonkers – revolves around the common exploitation of the largest gas field in the world, North Dome/South Pars, which they share in the Persian Gulf.
It took a while for Doha to realize that after the “4+1” established facts on the ground a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey via Saudi Arabia and Syria for the European market will never happen. Ankara also knows it. But there might eventually be an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – even with a possible extension to Turkey — with gas jointly provided by North Dome/South Pars...

Make no mistake; the – inexorable – future spells out trading energy not in petrodollars but in yuan, which is convertible to gold. ..

Like Terminator, the US deep state will be back. An expanded wet dream remains to create the conditions for the destabilization of a vast stretch from the Levant to South Asia — with possible future terror waves expanding north to Russia and east to China. The target: the interpenetration of BRI, EEU and the SCO.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Today's Links

“Any ‘resistance’ to the Trump Administration that includes the Democratic Party can only be seen as an effort to empower the ruling class through its preferred political party.”  Danny Haiphong, Black Agenda Report

The obvious play for the Russian-backed Syrians is to neutralize Americans at al-Tanf by giving their base a 55 kilometer-wide berth and punch through to the Iraqi border further east. Such a maneuver would end US dreams of al-Tanf as a staging point for a push into the Euphrates valley and make it into an irrelevant, isolated outpost in the desert.

We  have now learned that the US military was no less shocked by the advance than you and I. Testifying before Congress US Defense Secretary Mattis explained:

As far as the Tanf situation, that was another operating area that we had. I did not anticipate that the Russians would move there. We knew it was a possibility. I did not anticipate it at that time but it was not a surprise to our intelligence people who saw the potential for them to move out in that direction.”...After all if the Syrians want to restore a land border with Iraq and profit from some of the latter's manpower reserves that is also in the Russian interest in Syria

2--More Pieces Fall in Place for a Russian-US Clash in Southern Syria

Let's rewind. A month ago RI warned that US and Russia were on a collision course in Syria. The Syrian army was advancing toward the al-Tanf border crossing on the border with Iraq – which is held by a group of rebels who are not just armed, trained and paid by the US, but also frequently have US Special Forces embedded with them.
That is precisely what happened. A week after our warning the US "defensively" bombed the advancing Syrian army column and forced it to halt

Anyhow, rather than restrain its charges the US announced it is reinforcing its base in southern Syria with more US troops:
"We have increased our presence and our footprint and prepared for any threat that is presented by the pro-regime forces," said the spokesman, U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, referring to Iran-backed forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad....

Taken together we have:
  • US scaling up its military presence in southern Syria specifically to counter Syrian government forces "massing" at Zaza 
  • Washington's rebel charges goading the loyalists to attack and move into a US-declared no-go zone
  • Russians buzzing around and bombing US-backed rebels 
It's safe to say prospects for world peace have seen better days

The obvious play for the Russian-backed Syrians is to neutralize Americans at al-Tanf by giving their base a 55 kilometer-wide berth and punch through to the Iraqi border further east. Such a maneuver would end US dreams of al-Tanf as a staging point for a push into the Euphrates valley and make it into an irrelevant, isolated outpost in the desert.
But the question is: is the Pentagon capable of resigning itself to its fate? Is it capable of sitting idly by, doing nothing, as its forces in southern Syria are made irrelevant, or will it escalate (yet again) before that happens?

3--Uh huh, sure looks like it: –Commander of Russian forces in Syria accuses U.S. of being in cahoots with ISIS

The US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) collude with the leaders of the so-called “Islamic State”, Russian RIA Novosti agency reported on Friday citing Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian Armed Forces contingent in Syria.

“Instead of eliminating terrorists guilty of hundreds and thousands of Syrian civilian deaths, the US-led international coalition alongside with their proxies, Syrian Democratic Forces, collude with IS field commanders, who surrender their positions and sites without resistance and head towards the regions where Syrian government forces actively conduct military operations,” he said.
Surovikin also added that “it looks like Americans use IS in order to forestall the advances of Syrian government forces under the excuse of fighting international terrorism.”

4--Washington’s war crimes in Syria

Last month, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told the media that the Pentagon was adopting “annihilation tactics” in its anti-ISIS campaign, adding, “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”...

Washington’s strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria are not those of “fighting terrorism,” but rather consolidating US hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East and preparing for war against the principal obstacles to this objective, Iran and Russia. For US imperialism, undisputed control over both the Persian Gulf and Central Asia would provide the means to cut off energy supplies to its global rival, China.

These predatory aims are the source of war crimes, and not only in Iraq and Syria. In Yemen, Washington is backing a near-genocidal war led by the Saudi monarchy with the objective of weakening Iran’s influence in the Persian Gulf. During his visit to Riyadh last month, President Donald Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom, which will, in the first instance, replenish the bombs and missiles it is raining on the population of the most impoverished nation in the Arab world.

This arms package follows similar deals signed by the Obama administration, which also supplied the Saudis with logistical and intelligence aid for the Yemen war, including mid-air refueling for its warplanes and US naval backing for a blockade that is starving the population and denying it medical supplies. In addition to killing 12,000 people outright, the US-Saudi war has left at least 7 million Yemenis on the brink of famine, while cholera is threatening to kill thousands more. Save the Children reports that, on average, one Yemeni child is contracting the disease every 35 seconds.

5--U.S. expands presence in Syrian desert, rebels say

The  U.S.-backed rebels also want to use it to take more territory along the border and to push toward Deir al-Zor, a large city on the Euphrates where the government has an enclave surrounded by Islamic State fighters

However, Syria's army has declared winning back control of the desert and relieving its besieged Deir al-Zor enclave a military priority and has advanced swiftly from Palmyra with troops and dozens of tanks.
Aided by allied militias backed by Iran, it also hopes to join up with Iraqi forces advancing against Islamic State across the border to secure a land route from Damascus to Baghdad

6--How Serious Was Russia’s “Probing” of U.S. Election Systems?

random probings that are part and parcel of foreign-intelligence operations as carried out by any sophisticated service...

There is no evidence that the Russians, or whoever carried out the probes, were able to tamper with either the actual voting process or the tabulation of votes. Indeed, the NSA report dismisses any such possibility. Second, corrupting an election in a country as large as the United States with an electoral system that is largely decentralized would require much more than a probe of 122 local officials starting a week before the balloting. So there was clearly no intention to disrupt the election or to tilt it in a certain direction based on the evidence provided by the NSA report.

7--New Silk Roads, Pepe Escobar

Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2017
Statement from the Press Secretary
Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been
terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear
recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff
“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a
new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” said President Trump.
A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.

9--Treachery at the DOJ?-- Rosenstein failed to tell Trump he was appointing Mueller

The White House was not told of Rosenstein’s decision to name Mueller until after the order had been signed, the Justice Department said. Lawmakers were briefed on the appointment Wednesday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Trump, who fired Comey last week, was in the middle of interviewing candidates to replace him as FBI director when he was informed, according to a person close to the White House. White House officials were blindsided by the move, an administration official said. A large group of staffers went to the Oval Office to inform Trump, according to a person in the room, who said Trump took the news better than expected and signed off on the statement his aides crafted.

10--Don't blame Russia

The Russians did not provoke the war in Syria. Nor did Bashar al-Assad. The Russians did not encourage demonstrations in Syria which produced a predictable heavy-handed response, and the Russians did not then proceed to arm and fund islamist fighters from both inside and outside of Syria in a war which has killed half a million persons, and has drawn a large number of countries into a proxy conflict still mendaciously referred to in NATO media as a “civil war”. The Russians have long been allies of the Assad family, which enjoys the support of a substantial majority of the Syrian population. Believe me. The Russians did NOT do it. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did it, working from a blueprint which had been created by earlier US governments.

11--Syrians babies called 'Putin' in honour of Russian president

Syrian families are naming their children Putin as a mark of gratitude for the Russian president’s support for his Syrian counterpart in the six-year war, a government official has said.

The Syrian ambassador in Moscow, Riyad Haddad, said Bashar al-Assad had also made Russian the second language in Syria, and had donated land near Damascus for a Russian school to be built.

“The decision of Assad that Russian should be the second language in the country – it is a sign of the gratitude towards the Russian people for supporting Syrians,” Haddad said in remarks reported by the Tass news agency.

“Also, as a sign of this gratitude, many families are also calling their sons Putin,” he said.

Vladimir Putin has thrown Russia’s military and diplomatic heft squarely behind Assad, with Russian jets helping the government retake Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, and Russian diplomats opposing UN moves to censure Damascus for a chemical attack on a village earlier this month, blamed on Assad’s forces.
Naming children after the victors and champions of war is not a new thing, but it does throw up some unusual monikers

12---'Staggering' loss of civilian life from US-led airstrikes in Raqqa, says UN

War crimes investigators say US-backed campaign to reclaim Syrian city from Islamic State has led to at least 300 deaths

13--‘Without Putin, Syria Would Have Ceased to Exist’: Interview with Flemish Priest Living in Syria

'It is partly thanks to Hezbollah that so many Christians and other Syrians are still alive. They came to our rescue in our darkest hours. And the same goes for the Syrian army and the Russians. If Putin hadn't come in 2015, Syria certainly would have ceased to exist'

14--Without Putin, Syria Would Have Ceased to Exist’: Interview with Flemish Priest Living in Syria

'It is partly thanks to Hezbollah that so many Christians and other Syrians are still alive. They came to our rescue in our darkest hours. And the same goes for the Syrian army and the Russians. If Putin hadn't come in 2015, Syria certainly would have ceased to exist'

According to the Flemish Father Daniel Maes, who has lived in Syria since 2010, the coverage of the Syrian war is based on lies. President Bashar al-Assad is not the problem, but our own politicians, who support ISIS and Al Nusra, in order to topple the Syrian government. “The real terrorist leaders are in the West and Saudi Arabia

How do you see the role of journalism? How is it possible their view on Syria is so different from yours?
For that you have to read this book of the German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, Bought Journalists, that he wrote from his own experience. If you go against the dominant narrative, and don’t follow the script, you will inevitably collide with the Powers That Be. They will put you out of business.
In a way I can understand these journalists. They often have a family they need to take care of...

Israel sees Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
It is partly thanks to Hezbollah that so many Christians and other Syrians are still alive. They came to our rescue in our darkest hours. And the same goes for the Syrian army and the Russians. If Putin hadn’t come in 2015, Syria certainly would have ceased to exist.

It is said that the Russians came to Syria to keep it in their sphere of influence.
There certainly will be some self-interest involved. But Putin is a true Christian, wanting to defend Christianity. And he also wants a multipolar world order, in which no country dominates the rest. It annoys Putin that the Americans do not play by international rules. They overthrew the Ukrainian government, and then had the nerve to say that the Russians responded so aggressively. Syria is a sovereign country. That is what Putin emphasises. He also says: ‘We are not there for the protection of Assad, but for the protection of the Syrian statehood.’ Russia doesn’t want another failed state, like Iraq and Libya. And let’s not forget: The Russian military is the only foreign army in Syria with the consent of the Syrian government. What are other countries doing there? The Americans? The French? The Saudis? They have no right to be there. They are working on the destruction of Syria

15--The first-hand truth about Venezuela contrary to the Western media propaganda

by Danny Haiphong

“Any ‘resistance’ to the Trump Administration that includes the Democratic Party can only be seen as an effort to empower the ruling class through its preferred political party.”

That form is the non-profit industrial complex and its attending Democratic Party paymasters. "The Resistance" has significant support from the non-profit industrial complex and the Wall Street-stuffed coffers of the Democratic Party. Such support is evident in the organizations, the Town Hall Project, and Indivisible. The Democratic think-tank Center for American Progress (CAP) assists each of these so-called anti-Trump focused organizations. On CAP's Board of Directors sits Democratic Party elites Madeline Albright and John Podesta....

Since the 1980s, the Democrats have led the way in the projects of austerity, mass incarceration, and war. These policies have understandably bred a high degree of cynicism among more left-leaning Democrats, requiring the intervention of the first Black President to keep "hope" for the party alive....

the Democratic Party is in fact the War Party of the 21st century, it has attempted to utilize a well-funded opposition to achieve the material interests of its ruling class donors. The opposition to Trump based on alleged connections to Russia is case and point. For all of the reasons to oppose Trump, his rhetorical gesture to ease relations with Russia was not one of them. Even so, the Democratic Party has relentlessly pursued an anti-Russian campaign against Trump in a bid to unite their disenchanted voters with ruling class aspirations and paint it as “resistance.”

The Democratic Party's consortium of non-profits have made war against Russia a top priority. Indivisible makes "investigating" Trump's ties to Russia one of their agenda points. So does Yet the FBI's nearly 8-month investigation on Trump has yielded no conclusive evidence. What is conclusive is the Democratic Party's commitment to escalating war with Russia. Under Obama, US provocations against Russia reached crisis levels. The 2014 US-sponsored coup in Ukraine placed a fascist nightmare state right on Russia's doorstep. World War III became an imminent threat to humanity under a Black Democrat...

"Resistance" to Trump on the basis of alleged ties to Russia is a continuation of this war project. ...

Resistance" to Trump on the basis of alleged ties to Russia is a continuation of this war project. The Democratic Party is steering the wheel on behalf of the rich. Not even the New York Times can deny the Democratic Party's support from the top ten percent of income earners. In the 2016 elections, Hillary Clinton received 47 percent of votes from the top ten percent, as opposed to 46 percent for Donald Trump. Any "resistance" to the Trump Administration that includes the Democratic Party can only be seen as an effort to empower the ruling class through its preferred political party....

And the Democratic Party and its arsenal of non-profits may succeed in toppling Trump or weakening his Administration to the point of irrelevancy. Hillary Clinton's "resistance" Super PAC could pay dividends in future elections. A war with Russia is certainly possible, if not imminent. The question is, what does any of this have to with "resistance?" Islamophobia, patriarchy, and racism certainly won't eviscerate with Trump’s demise. In fact, they stand to intensify should the Democrats and their Republican allies get their way....

Real resistance includes tangible goals and objectives that materially benefit the people. Resistance to Trump alone is not resistance. Not only does such narrow activity fail to grasp the complexities of the moment, but it also paves an open path for establishment Democrats and Republicans to shape mass consciousness. This form of “resistance” leads directly to the normalization of war with Russia and the nuclear disaster that would follow.

17-- Why Bernie Sanders is an Imperialist Pig

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The first Black U.S. president, Barack Obama, was among the most aggressive defenders of white supremacy in history -- defending the accumulated advantages that colonialism provided to western European nations, settler states (like the U.S.) and citizens -- having launched an ongoing military offensive aimed at strangling the Chinese giant and preventing an effective Eurasian partnership with Russia. The first phase of the offensive, the crushing of Libya in 2011, allowed the United States to complete the effective military occupation of Africa, through AFRICOM....

the orchestrated propaganda blitzkrieg against Russia by the Democratic Party, in collaboration with the corporate media and other functionaries and properties of the U.S. ruling class, marks the party as, collectively, the Warmonger-in-Chief political institution in the United States at this historical juncture. The Democrats are anathema to any politics that can be described as progressive....

Sanders is a warmonger, not merely by association, but by virtue of his own positions. He favors more sanctions against Russia, in addition to the sanctions levied against Moscow in 2014 and 2016 for its measured response to the U.S-backed fascist coup against a democratically elected government in Ukraine. Rather than surrender to U.S. bullying, Russia came to the military aid of the sovereign and internationally recognized government of Syria in 2015, upsetting the U.S. game plan for an Islamic jihadist victory.....

Sanders is a regime-changer, which means he thinks the U.S., in combination with self-selected allies, is above international law, i.e., “exceptional.”
“We've got to work with countries around the world for a political solution to get rid of this guy [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and to finally bring peace and stability to this country, which has been so decimated.”...

The United States is the imperial superpower, the main military aggressor on the planet. Its rulers must be deprived of the political ability to spend trillions on war, and to kill millions, or they will always use the “necessity” of war to enforce austerity. The “left” domestic project will fail.
For those of us from the Black Radical Tradition, anti-imperialism is central. Solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism is non-negotiable, and we can make no common cause with U.S. political actors that treat war as a political side show, an “elective” issue that is separate from domestic social justice. This is not just a matter of principle, but also of practical politics. “Left” imperialism isn’t just evil, it is self-defeating and stupid

18--The Qatar blockade, petro-yuan & coming war on Iran

19--Syrian army reach Iraqi border, announce 'strategic turning point’ in war on ISIS
"Resistance" to Trump on the basis of alleged ties to Russia is a continuation of this war project