Twitter and the Smearing of Corbyn and Assange: A Research Note on the ‘Integrity Initiative’

twitter-and-the-smearing-of-corbyn-and-assange-a-research-note-on-the-integrity-initiative

13-02-19 11:16:00,

Twitter and the Smearing of Corbyn and Assange: A Research Note on the ‘Integrity Initiative’

Mark CURTIS

The UK government-financed Integrity Initiative, managed by the Institute for Statecraft, is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” programme to challenge Russian information operations. However, it has been revealed that the Integrity Initiative twitter handle and some individuals associated with this programme have also been tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. [i]  This takes on special meaning in light of the numerous UK military and intelligence personnel associated with the programme, documented in an important briefing by academics in Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media. [ii]

Several journalists have been named as associated with the Integrity Initiative, either in programme “clusters” or having been invited to an Integrity Initiative event, in the documents that have been posted online. [iii]  Analysis of 11 of these individuals has been undertaken to assess to what extent their tweets have linked Corbyn unfairly (for a definition see below) to Russia. The results show two things:

  • first, the smearing of Corbyn about Russia is more extensive than has been revealed so far;
  • second, many of the same individuals have also been attacking a second target – Julian Assange, trying to also falsely link him to the Kremlin.

Many of these 11 individuals are associated with The Times and the Guardian in the UK and the Atlantic Council in the US. The research does not show, however, that these tweets are associated with the Integrity Initiative (see further below).

Linking Corbyn to Russia

The Integrity Initiative twitter page states that “we are not ‘anti-Russian’ and do not ‘target’ Mr Corbyn”.[iv] However, before issuing this statement, it has tweeted:

  • “Skripal poisoning: It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem”.[v]
  • “An alleged British Corbyn supporter wants to vote for Putin”.[vi]
  • “’Mr Corbyn was a ‘useful idiot’, in the phrase apocryphally attributed to Lenin. His visceral anti-Westernism helped the Kremlin cause, as surely as if he had been secretly peddling Westminster tittle-tattle for money’”. [vii] This tweet was a quote from an article by Edward Lucas (see below) in the Times,

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Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

germany-pulls-rank-on-macron-and-american-energy-blackmail

13-02-19 10:38:00,

Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states.

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Medical costs cause two-thirds of all bankruptcies in the US – study

medical-costs-cause-two-thirds-of-all-bankruptcies-in-the-us-8211-study

13-02-19 08:50:00,

Medical expenses are partly responsible for two-thirds of all bankruptcies filed in the US, new research says. Astronomical healthcare costs mean that most Americans are just “one serious illness away from bankruptcy.”

For many Americans, treating injury and illness is only the beginning of their problems. The prohibitive cost of private healthcare financially ruins around 530,000 families per year, according to a study by the City University of New York (CUNY) published in the American Journal of Public health last week.

These cases account for over 66 percent of all annual bankruptcy filings in the United States.

Read more

Medical tourism to Russia booms as high-quality, low-cost treatment attracts foreigners

“Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” lead researcher Dr David Himmelstein said. “For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, copayments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse.”

Himmelstein is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization that advocates for a single-payer, socialized healthcare system. He said the figures revealed by the study are broadly unchanged from similar studies conducted in 2001 and 2007, despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010.

67.5 percent of debtors surveyed said that medical costs contributed to their bankruptcy in the first three years from the start of the law, compared to 65.5 percent before its passing. The study did note that middle-class Americans were more likely to file for bankruptcy than poorer citizens, who may have benefited more from the ACA.

Cancer treatment sets patients back an average of $150,000, while treating something as common as a heart attack costs around $39,000, according to figures from the American Association of Retired Persons.

Against this backdrop, 70 percent of Americans support ‘Medicare for All,’ an ambitious public healthcare bill drafted by socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Of the Democrats hoping for a shot at the presidency in 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) support Sanders’ bill, while Senators Kamala Harris (California) and Cory Booker (New Jersey) have both signaled in recent interviews that they agree with it in part.

Illness and medical bills contributed to over 66% of bankruptcies between 2013 and 2016.

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Russia takes steps to survive global internet shutdown with its own web – MPs

russia-takes-steps-to-survive-global-internet-shutdown-with-its-own-web-mps

13-02-19 08:45:00,

Russia is preparing itself to be disconnected from the World Wide Web. The Lower House of Parliament passed in the first reading a law ensuring the security of the Russian part of the internet.

The bill envisions the ‘Runet’ – the Russian segment of the internet – being able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of global malfunctions or deliberate internet disconnection. The measures to ensure internet stability include the creation of a national DNS system that stores all of the domain names and corresponding IP numbers.

The new legislation was drafted in response to the new US cyber strategy that accuses Russia, along with China, Iran, and North Korea, of using cyber tools to “undermine” its economy and democracy. It also threatens dire consequences for anyone conducting cyber activity against the US.

Also on rt.com
Russia will launch ‘alternative internet’ only in worst-case scenario – Foreign Ministry

The autonomous system would ensure that Russia doesn’t face a total internet shutdown if relations with the West completely collapse and the US goes as far as cutting off Russian IP addresses from the World Wide Web.

Back in 2012, then-US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.

The US National Security Agency actually caused a three-day internet blackout in Syria in November 2012, whistleblower Edward Snowden told Wired magazine. NSA hackers accidently ‘bricked’ one of the core routers while trying to install spyware on it.

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YouTube Will Determine What “Conspiracy” Is And Stop Recommending Such Videos

youtube-will-determine-what-8220conspiracy8221-is-and-stop-recommending-such-videos

13-02-19 08:43:00,

Authored by Mike Krieger via Libnerty Blitzkrieg blog,

While the evolution of Google’s YouTube from a free expression platform into something entirely different has been underway for a while, it just took another step in a very short-sighted and restrictive direction. NBC News reports:

YouTube has announced that it will no longer recommend videos that “come close to” violating its community guidelines, such as conspiracy or medically inaccurate videos…Chaslot said that YouTube’s fix to its recommendations AI will have to include getting people to videos with truthful information and overhauling the current system it uses to recommend videos.

There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s get started. First, it appears YouTube has announced the creation of a new bucket when it comes to content uploaded to the site. It’s no longer just videos consistent with company guidelines and those that aren’t, but there’s now a category for “conspiracy or medically inaccurate videos.” This is a massive responsibility, which neither YouTube or anyone else seems fit to be judge and jury. In other words, YouTube is saying it’s comfortable deciding what is “conspiracy” and what isn’t. Which brings up a really important question.

So no videos of government officials lying the public into wars, or is that the Silicon Valley approved type conspiracy? https://t.co/mUEQGMlLyr

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) February 11, 2019

“Conspiracy” and covering up conspiracies is a fundamental part of the human experience, and always has been. It demonstrates extreme hubris for a tech giant to claim it can differentiate between a legitimate conspiracy to explore, versus an illegitimate one. One person’s righteous investigation is another’s conspiracy theory, with Russiagate serving as an obvious contemporary example.

Going back to the early 21st century, we witnessed a major conspiracy to start a war in Iraq based on lies; lies which were endlessly repeated uncritically throughout the mass media. Even worse, General Wesley Clark described an even larger conspiracy which consisted of starting multiple additional wars in the aftermath of 9/11. This conspiracy is ongoing and has continued to move forward in the years since, through both Republican and Democratic administrations.

It’s pretty clear what will end up happening as a result of this tweaking to YouTube’s recommended videos AI.

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Zbigniew Brzezinski as I Knew Him – PaulCraigRoberts.org

zbigniew-brzezinski-as-i-knew-him-8211-paulcraigroberts.org

13-02-19 08:38:00,

Zbigniew Brzezinski as I Knew Him
a repost from June 2, 2017

“When you hear a source called a ‘Russian agent,’ an ‘anti-semite,’ or a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ you had better listen to them. These are those in the know who accept arrow slings in order to tell you the truth.”

I decided to repost this column for several reasons. One is that the misrepresentation of Brzezinski as a neoconservative illustrates the cavalier attitude toward truth that characterizes our era. The rise in the West of denunciation as a more effective force than truth bodes ill for the survival of the Western World.

Throughout the Western World name-calling has taken the place of reasoned debate. A person who criticizes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians or the Israel Lobby’s influence over the US government and academic appointments is labeled an “anti-semite,” a name that the Israel Lobby uses to discredit critics.

A person who points out that reckless and irresponsible accusations against Russia can lead to war is labeled “a Russian agent.”

A person who is too well-informed to believe the official stories of the Gulf of Tonkin, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and John and Robert Kennedy, 9/11, and the USS Liberty is said to be a “conspiracy theorist.” In other words, if you don’t accept the official stories, all of which are disproved by hard facts, you are discredited.

Facts no longer matter in the West. If you merely report some expert’s analysis that dissents from officialdom, you as a reporter are labeled along with the expert as a conspiracy theorist, a Russian agent, or an anti-semite. The belief is that if youl did not believe the expert, you would not have reported what he said. Little wonder the print and TV news avoids dissent from official explanations, unless the explanations are President Trump’s.

Throughout the Western World facts are persona non grata.

The consequence is that the Western World has isolated itself from reality and lives in illusions and delusions. Consequently, the West’s chances of survival are minimal.

Paul Craig Roberts

Brzezinski’s death at 89 years of age has generated a load of propaganda and disinformation,

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Police Repression in France: Macron Brutal Tactics Against Yellow Vests Have Nothing to Do with Public Safety, Everything to Do with Global Politics – Global Research

police-repression-in-france-macron-brutal-tactics-against-yellow-vests-have-nothing-to-do-with-public-safety-everything-to-do-with-global-politics-8211-global-research

13-02-19 08:33:00,

“We will not kneel, we will not fear reprisals, we will keep protesting until the end,” said one Gilet Jaune protester to me on Saturday as the police tore into the crowd, scything people to the ground and trampling them underfoot.

***

For more than two months the people who come out into the streets are met with governmental repression. Since the 17th November 2018 we have been on the streets but we have not been listened to.” The statement from the Yellow Vests —  or Gilets Jaunes (GJs) as they are better known in France — was published just before Saturday February 2, 2019, when tens of thousands of GJs took to the streets of cities nationwide for Acte XII (Week 12) of the protests that have been a weekly event since they first began on November 17, 2018.

The GJ movement has taken France by storm since its sudden appearance after the increasingly unpopular President Emmanuel Macron introduced a number of measures that appeared to protect the French wealthy elite while penalising those already on the brink of poverty. The increase in the fuel tax was the final straw that broke the back of the already pressurized population struggling to make ends meet every month.

Geographer Christophe Guilluy had prophesied the potential of this uprising in 2014. Guilluy demonstrated the demographics of most major French cities comprising the wealthy, banking, industrial-capitalist centers surrounded by the ghettoized and marginalized suburbs that are home to an estimated 60 percent of the urban population. For those scraping a living together in the suburbs, driving to and parking in the city center for work could cost as much as 250 Euros ($284) per month. The impact of an increase in the cost of fuel would hit these people the hardest.

Historian and author Diana Johnstone, based in France, best explained the origin of the Yellow Vest as the symbol of this organic, grassroots movement. The yellow vest is something that every French citizen must have in their car in case of a road accident — the vest must be worn to prevent being unseen and run over by other vehicles. Wearing the yellow vest during protests signifies that French citizens do not accept being invisible to and railroaded by their government.

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Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Faces Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why

insect-apocalypse-the-global-food-chain-faces-major-extinction-event-and-scientists-don8217t-know-why

13-02-19 08:22:00,

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Scientists are telling us that we have entered “the sixth major extinction” in the history of our planet.  A brand new survey of 73 scientific reports that was just released has come to the conclusion that the total number of insects on the globe is falling by 2.5 percent per year.  If we stay on this current pace, the survey warns that there might not be “any insects at all” by the year 2119.  And since insects are absolutely critical to the worldwide food chain, that has extremely ominous implications for all of us.

I write a lot about the inevitable collapse of our economic systems, but it could definitely be argued that our environment is already in a very advanced stage of “collapse”.  According to this new research, insects are going extinct at a rate that is “eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles”…

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Perhaps the entire world will come together and will stop destroying the planet and we can reverse this trend before it is too late.

Unfortunately, you and I both know that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

And if it doesn’t happen, the researchers that conducted this scientific review insist that the consequences will be “catastrophic to say the least”

The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write.

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Ukraine: NATO in the Constitution – Global Research

ukraine-nato-in-the-constitution-8211-global-research

13-02-19 08:21:00,

The day after the signature of NATO’s membership protocol with North Macedonia as its 30th member, Ukraine did something without precedent: it included in its Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO and the European Union at the same time.

On 7 February, on a proposition by President Petro Poroshenko – the oligarch who made himself rich by plundering public properties, and who is once again a candidate for the presidency – the Kiev parliament, by 34 votes to 35 with 16 abstentions, approved these amendments to the Constitution.

The Introduction pronounces “the irreversible movement of Ukraine towards Euro-Atlantic integration”; articles 85 and 116 state that it is a fundamental duty of the parliament and the government to “obtain Ukraine’s full membership of NATO and the EU”; article 102 stipulates that “the President of Ukraine is the guarantor of the strategic decisions of the State aimed at obtaining full membership of NATO and the EU”.

The inclusion in the Ukrainian Constitution of the engagement to enter officially into NATO bears with it some very serious consequences.

On the interior, it alienates the future of Ukraine from this choice, by excluding any alternative, and outlaws de facto any party or person who might oppose the “strategic decisions of the state”. Already, the Central Electoral Commission has forbidden Petro Simonenko, director of the Ukrainian Communist Party, to participate in the Presidential elections to be held in March.

The merit for having introduced into the Ukrainian Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO goes in particular to Parliamentary President Andriy Parubiy. Co-founder in 1991 of the Ukrainian National-Socialist Party, on the model of Adolf Hitler’s National-Socialist Party; head of the neo-Nazi paramilitary formations which were used in 2014 during the putsch of Place Maïdan under US/NATO command, and in the massacre of Odessa; head of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council, which, with the Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi units, attacked Ukrainian civilians of Russian nationality in the Eastern part of the country and used his squadrons for acts of ferocious abuse, the plunder of political headquarters and other auto-da-fés in a truly Nazi style.

On the international level, we should keep in mind that Ukraine is already linked to NATO,

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How The Media Manufactures Consent For Regime Change In Venezuela

how-the-media-manufactures-consent-for-regime-change-in-venezuela

12-02-19 08:21:00,

Authored by Alan MacLeod via Venezuelanalysis.com,

The latest extraordinary chapter in the bizarre world of Venezuelan politics is playing out before our eyes. After winning the 2018 presidential elections, Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated in January, only for the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó — a man whom, at the time, less than 20 percent of the country had even heard of — to declare himself President.

Guaidó was immediately backed by the governments of the U.S. and U.K., with Vice President Mike Pence stating, “Nicolás Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”

I’ve previously cataloged how the media has been quick to echo the ideathat Maduro is completely illegitimate and has been eager to position America’s stance towards Venezuelan politics as one of a neutral arbiter.

Why do mainstream media outlets, who resist Trump at home, neatly align themselves with his administration’s Venezuela policy? And why has there so little criticism of what is essentially an ongoing U.S.-backed coup attempt?

In a recent study, I analyzed how the media presented the 2018 elections in Colombia and Venezuela. Looking at how these two elections were covered can help us understand why there’s so little nuance in the media coverage of U.S.-Venezuela relations.

A seminal study inspires

To study the 2018 elections, I used the propaganda model media scholars Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky outlined in their book Manufacturing Consent. Their propaganda model contends that mainstream, corporate media is not a neutral venue for truth. Instead, it is a vehicle that advances the interests of media owners and their advertisers.

The authors argue that, in contrast to the top-down censorship of authoritarian states, these outlets achieve uniform opinions through the pre-selection of “right-thinking” editors and reporters who have been trained at the “right” schools. They then disseminate information – or, at the very least, self-censor – in a way that protects or advances the ideology of ownership,

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World’s Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon Rolls Off Assembly Line

world8217s-most-dangerous-nuclear-weapon-rolls-off-assembly-line

12-02-19 08:15:00,

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Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.

What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades — not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkablethinkable.

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There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles,

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U.S. Is Setting Ground For Military Intervention In Venezuela | The Vineyard of the Saker

us.-is-setting-ground-for-military-intervention-in-venezuela-the-vineyard-of-the-saker

12-02-19 07:09:00,

U.S. Is Setting Ground For Military Intervention In Venezuela

The Venezuelan government seems to be openly preparing to face a US military invasion.

On February 10, the country’s military kicked off large-scale military drills, which will run until February 15. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the drills are set to become the biggest ones the country has held in its 200-year history.

On the same day, multiple air defense systems, including Pechora-2M launchers, were spotted maneuvering in the area of San Cristobal, near the border with Columbia, an expected member of the US-led coalition in the event of invasion in Venezuela.

On February 7, Israel’s satellite company ImageSat International released a satellite image, allegedly showing that the Venezuelan military was releasing its S-300VN air defense system from mothballs in Captain Manuel Rios Airbase on February 4.

Separately, President Maduro announced the setting up of 50,000 “popular defence units” and promised that the US will get a South American “Vietnam War” if it decides to invade.

The military preparations came amid several important security developments. In January, authorities detained fugitive Colonel Oswaldo Garcia Palomo after he had crossed back into the country from Colombia. On February 7, he appeared on a video confessing to his ties with the CIA and Colombian officials to overthrow the Maduro government. According to Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Palomo was involved in an effort to rally soldiers to mutiny, close off the capital and overtake the presidential palace.

On February 5, authorities seized a shipment of US-made weapons, which was discovered at a storage yard of Arturo Michelena International Airport in the city of Valencia. The stash included at least 19 rifles and 118 magazines, high-caliber ammunition, as well as 90 radios and six mobile phones – and was likely sent from Miami, Florida on February 3.

At the same time, Washington is reportedly engaged in so-called direct contacts with representatives of the Venezuelan military and government to convince them to support the coup and help to bring US-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido into power. These efforts achieved at least a partial success.

On February 2, Air Force General Yanez, reportedly defected to the opposition’s side,. He called for others to follow him in supporting “the right side.” On February 9,

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Venezuela: It’s Not About the Oil

venezuela-its-not-about-the-oil

12-02-19 07:03:00,

12 February 2019 (German)

Even in Venezuela, regime change is not about the oil.

In our 2018 analysis on “The Logic of Imperial Wars” it was shown that US interventions of the last several decades were not “about the oil”: this is obviously true for Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Yemen (all of which own no oil), but also for Iraq, Libya and Syria. Indeed, in the case of Syria the “pipeline theory” was ultimately based on a single false report.

The oil narrative is now reappearing again in Venezuela’s case, as Venezuela owns the largest con­ven­tional oil reserves in the world. But the attempted regime change in Venezuela is not about oil either.

As a matter of fact, the US has already been the largest buyer of Venezuelan oil for years. And if the US wanted to physically “control” the oil, why is it that of all countries in South America, Venezuela (together with Bolivia) is the last one to be geopolitically independent of the US?

(Recent US wars in Latin America: Nicaragua 1980ff, Grenada 1983, Panama 1989, Haiti 1994)

It is because the logic works just the other way round: Venezuela is independent because of its oil, and this independence is a problem from a US geopolitical point of view. On the one hand Venezuela is a political, economic and military gateway for Russia and China, on the other hand Venezuela supports additional „enemy states“ such as, notably, Cuba and Nicaragua.

It’s a geostrategic “masterstroke”: a regime change in Venezuela could neutralize this entire Russian-Chinese “Latino network” in one fell swoop, ideally without firing a shot.

John Bolton: Supporters and opponents of regime change in Venezuela (28 January 2019)

Proponents of the oil narrative often cite as “evidence” a FOX Business News interview about the situation in Venezuela with US National Security Advisor John Bolton. However, regarding oil Bolton merely stated that “socialist dictator” Maduro had allowed the oil industry to collapse, while the “new president”, backed by US industry, would boost investments again. A trivial statement.

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Is The US Military a Larger Threat to Hawaii Than North Korean Missiles?

is-the-us-military-a-larger-threat-to-hawaii-than-north-korean-missiles

12-02-19 10:58:00,

Is The US Military a Larger Threat to Hawaii Than North Korean Missiles?

it’s time to retire the leaking Red Hill Storage tanks—and protect our precious water supply

Ann WRIGHT

After the big North Korean missile scare in Hawaii a year ago, one would think that missiles are  the greatest threat to the island of Oahu. Yet, it’s not missiles that are the threat, it’s our own U.S. military and its massive jet fuel storage tanks that are leaking into Oahu’s drinking water aquifer.

A complex of mammoth 20-story military jet fuel storage tanks buried twenty stories down in a bluff called Red Hill are perched only 100 feet above Honolulu’s water supply.  The walls on the 75-year-old jet fuel tanks are now so thin that the edge of a dime is thicker. Each of the twenty tanks holds 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel, although eighteen are in operation now. 225,000,000 gallons of jet fuel in total are a mere 100 feet from causing a catastrophic disaster for the island of Oahu. 


In fact, disaster has already struck when in 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a tank that had been repaired with a welded patch.  The welding gave way and tens of thousands of gallons of fuel leaked into the water supply.  Over the years, studies have documented leaks dating back to 1947, the continued corrosion of the tank liners and the risk of a catastrophic fuel release.

Drinking water is currently safe to drink, but traces of petroleum chemicals are being detected in the groundwater near the tanks. 

Concerned citizens on the island, have for decades been trying to get the U.S. Navy to take the dangerous tanks out of Red Hill.  The military states that the underground fuel tanks are of strategic importance to U.S. national security and they are being maintained as good as 75-year old tanks can be. Yet, those who live on Oahu say: “That’s not good enough! You can’t have national security by jeopardizing the health security of your citizens.”

It is not surprising that the U.S. Navy has made little effort to remove the tanks and put replacements in a less dangerous place.  The military’s hold on the island of Oahu and its politicians is very strong both psychologically and economically.

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The Migrant Invasion of Europe, Dawn of the New Multicultural Dystopia

the-migrant-invasion-of-europe-dawn-of-the-new-multicultural-dystopia

12-02-19 09:33:00,

“Migrant crisis? What crisis?

There is no migrant crisis!”
— Ian Birrell, British political pundit, in the Daily Mail

I do Mr Birrell a wrong by implying that he is unaware of the caravans of illegal immigrants pouring into Europe unrelentingly, mostly from five Muslim countries: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Eritrea.

He would have to be living on a different planet not to be aware that the “migrant crisis” is a crisis indeed: not so much for the migrants who have everything to gain if they can smuggle themselves into Europe, but it’s obviously a crisis to their European host countries who have everything to lose if the migrants should succeed in gaining a foothold here and, in the process, force their alien values and culture upon us.

This is what multiculturalism, if the truth be told, is all about: destroying the existing culture initially by dilution, and later on by subtle discrimination, verbal attacks, and, finally, by criminalisation.  Traditional values and the Christian ethos, once the prevailing norms in Europe and the US as late as the 1950s, are now quaint relics of the past, held in almost universal contempt by a thoroughly brutalised population of decadent philistines and tiresome trendies. Widespread neurosis, if not mental sickness, is rapidly becoming normative; and the vices of our ancestors are now the age’s new virtues.

Britain, new ‘Promised Land’ for Asylum Seekers

Mr Birrell, in the startling epigraph quote above […] was in fact referring to the 139 illegal immigrants, mostly from Iran, who had recently been caught sneaking into Britain. His sympathies lie with them entirely. He regards them as heroes for surviving torture and oppression in their own countries, for braving the storms and treacherous tides of the Mediterranean, and for slogging their way over mountain passes and through inhospitable enemy terrain in immense caravans of misery, finally to fetch up in the icy waters of the English Channel in a last desperate attempt to get to the land of their dreams—the glorious shores of Great Britain.

This is hardly a “crisis”, Mr Birrell opines. It is a cause for rejoicing.

Apart from Matteo Salvini, there is not a single influential politician anywhere in Western Europe who is lifting a finger to stop this ongoing invasion of our homelands by hordes of African,

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‘Enormous hypocrisy’: Hungary blasts US’ warnings on the dangers of dealing with Russia or China

8216enormous-hypocrisy8217-hungary-blasts-us8217-warnings-on-the-dangers-of-dealing-with-russia-or-china

12-02-19 08:48:00,

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s quest to scare Hungary away from dealing with Russia and China appears to have turned sour, as Budapest said it’s fed up with lectures about its foreign policy.

Pompeo is on a five-day massive charm offensive in Eastern Europe seeking to “make up” for the time the US “shunned” the nations of the region “in a way that drove them to fill a vacuum with folks who didn’t share our values,” as he himself put it.

Also on rt.com
Panzers on the Rhine: US tanks head for Eastern Europe in hollow show of force

His first stop was Hungary, a country that no US State Secretary had visited since 2011. And Budapest has been dangerously leaning towards Moscow and Beijing, according to Washington.

“We must not let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin drive a wedge between friends in NATO,” Pompeo stated passionately, at a joint press conference with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, claiming that the US and its allies “know all too well from history” that “that Russia will never be a friend to the freedom and sovereignty of smaller nations.”

He did not focus his attention solely on the Kremlin, though, and promptly warned his Hungarian counterpart about the dangers of working with China, by saying that “Beijing’s handshake comes with strings … that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically.”

Szijjarto retorted to Pompeo’s lecturing that “the world is not going to be a better place if some countries spend their time intervening in the internal political affairs of other countries.” He insisted that Budapest can have transparent relations with Moscow and Beijing and the West, and said it was an “enormous hypocrisy” that Hungary is singled out for its ties with Moscow.

“There is a lot of criticism on the surface, and below the surface there is a lot of trade between Europe and Russia in billions of euros,” he said.

“Cooperation with Russia or China that does not harm us,” he added, explaining that any such economic ties do not make Hungary a less reliable NATO partner.

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The Worldwide Threat to the Biodiversity of Insects – Global Research

the-worldwide-threat-to-the-biodiversity-of-insects-8211-global-research

12-02-19 08:47:00,

Decline of the Entomofauna: A Review of Its Drivers

Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades.

In terrestrial ecosystems, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) appear to be the taxa most affected, whereas four major aquatic taxa (Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera) have already lost a considerable proportion of species.

Affected insect groups not only include specialists that occupy particular ecological niches, but also many common and generalist species. Concurrently, the abundance of a small number of species is increasing; these are all adaptable, generalist species that are occupying the vacant niches left by the ones declining. Among aquatic insects, habitat and dietary generalists, and pollutant-tolerant species are replacing the large biodiversity losses experienced in waters within agricultural and urban settings. The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance:

i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation;

ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers;

iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and

iv) climate change.

The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones. A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.

To read the full scientific report click here

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Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On

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12-02-19 08:26:00,

Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.” Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change. Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.

Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.

To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.

A few weeks before on January 5, Guaidó had been installed as president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, their unicameral legislature. He had been elected to the assembly from a coastal district with 26% of the vote. It was his party’s turn for the presidency of the body, and he was hand-picked for the position. Guaidó, even within his own party, was not in the top leadership.

Guaidó’s party, Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by extra-parliamentary means rather than engage in the democratic electoral process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.

Although anointed by Trump and company, Guaidó’s Popular Will Party is not representative of the “Venezuelan opposition,” which is a fractious bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcón, who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had been vehemently opposed by Popular Will who demanded that he join their US-backed boycott of the election.

The Venezuelan news outlet, 

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Saudi Arabia and the US – a Partnership between the Hedgehog and the Snake | New Eastern Outlook

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12-02-19 08:25:00,

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Saudi Arabia at the beginning of this year is experiencing a number of fairly serious crises, above all in the political, economic and financial areas.

There is the ongoing fallout from the scandalous, and still unresolved, murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Both the USA and Turkey have, quite reasonably, accused Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman of involvement. The position of the Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan, is entirely understandable: in the murky waters of the Saudi crisis he is fishing for an advantage – in the form of financial leverage in his country’s economy. It appears from the silence of the “free” Turkish media that he has succeeded, or almost succeeded, in this.

To tell the truth, as far as concerns Saudi Arabia, with its monarchical dictatorship, there is nothing surprising in that: people who disagree with the Saudi leaders suffer fates ranging from questioning under torture of various kinds to public execution by beheading. But this is the first time that the regime has killed a well-known journalist in a foreign country. In this we can recognize the distinctive signature of the Israeli security forces, Mossad, with whom the Saudi intelligence forces have established efficient contacts, and who do not hesitate to share their skills with those “executioners” who are more experienced, and less troubled by moral concerns, when it comes to international law and human rights.

However, there remains that so-called democracy, the United States of America. Donald Trump, the US President, after careful consideration, chose to dispense with long meaningless speeches about democracy, and instead came out in support of the Saudi Crown Prince. He justified this choice in the simplest, most cynical way possible: if he were to put pressure on Saudi Arabia then the latter might choose to cancel its arms contracts with the US and buy from Russia and China instead. As they say, money talks. In addition, Saudi Arabia is still a faithful ally of the USA in their joint campaign to stifle Iran’s economy, and if Riyadh were to take offence then it would put that “project” at risk.

Everything seemed cut and dried, until the Democratic Party, always looking out for an opportunity to unseat the erratic Donald Trump,

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Salvini Proposes Seizing Control Of Italy’s Gold Reserves From Central Bank

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11-02-19 08:43:00,

Italy’s populist de facto leader Matteo Salvini seems set on shaking Europe’s financial establishment to the core.

One day after the Italian deputy prime minister and leader of the League party, called for the elimination of Italy’s central bank and the country’s financial regulator, Consob, saying the two institutions should be “reduced to zero, more than changing one or two people, reduced to zero”, or in other words eliminated, and that “fraudsters” who inflicted losses on Italian savers should “end up in prison for a long time”, Salvini prompted fresh shocked gasps in Brussels and Frankfurt when he raised the possibility of seizing Italy’s massive gold reserves away from the country’s central bank.

“The gold is the property of the Italian people, not of anyone else,” Salvini said in comments to reporters on Monday, according to the FT.

The controversial comments, which were seen as threatening the “independence” of the Italian central bank, whose one-time head was none other than Mario Draghi, prompted Giovanni Tria, Italy’s economy minister, to defend the independence of the central bank.

Earlier in the day, Italy’s populists called on lawmakers to pass legislation stating that its gold holdings belong to the state, Bloomberg reported.

The gold ownership bill presented by euroskeptic lawmaker Claudio Borghi of the League adds to an already tense relationship between the Bank of Italy and the coalition government. It’s also sparked criticism from opposition politicians, and some national media argue that it may allow the government to raid the gold reserves to fund spending promises.

Borghi has rejected the accusation and said he’ll ensure Parliament has ultimate power. His concern is that ambiguity of ownership means that a victorious legal action against the central bank — for inadequate supervision, for example — leaves open the possibility of a claimant getting compensation in gold.

“My bill only aims at making clear that the gold belongs to the state, not to the government,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “If there are doubts on our intentions, we can also pass another law saying none of the gold reserves can be sold unless there is a majority of two thirds or more of both houses of Parliament.”

According to Bloomberg,

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China Programming AI Drones To Autonomously Murder Without Human Input

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11-02-19 08:21:00,

China is programming new autonomous AI-powered drones to conduct “targeted military strikes” without a human making the decision to fire, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security, a US national security think tank. 

Authored by Gregory C. Allen, the report is a comprehensive look at Chinese AI (and American officials’ underestimation of it). Allen notes that drones are becoming increasingly automated as designers integrate sophisticated AI systems into the decision-making processes for next-generation reconnaissance and weapons systems. Before writing his analysis, Allen participated in a series of meetings “with high-ranking Chinese officials in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaders of China’s military AI research organizations, government think tank experts, and corporate executives at Chinese AI companies.” 

“Though many current generation drones are primarily remotely operated, Chinese officials generally expect drones and military robotics to feature ever more extensive AI and autonomous capabilities in the future,” writes Allen. “Chinese weapons manufacturers already are selling armed drones with significant amounts of combat autonomy.“

“The specific scenario described to me [by one anonymous Chinese official] is unintentional escalation related to the use of a drone,” said Allen in a Wednesday report by The Verge

As Allen explains, the operation of drones both large and small has become increasingly automated in recent years. In the US, drones are capable of basic autopilot, performing simple tasks like flying in a circle around a target. But China is being “more aggressive about introducing greater levels of autonomy closer to lethal use of force,” he says. One example is the Blowfish A2 drone, which China exports internationally and which, says Allen, is advertised as being capable of “full autonomy all the way up to targeted strikes.” –The Verge

“Mechanized equipment is just like the hand of the human body. In future intelligent wars, AI systems will be just like the brain of the human body,” said Zeng Yi, a senior executive at Chinese’s third largest defense manufacturer, who believes AI will be at the core of warefare in the future. 

“AI may completely change the current command structure, which is dominated by humans,”

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British Military Presence Near Venezuela ‘Extremely Concerning’ – Global Research

british-military-presence-near-venezuela-extremely-concerning-8211-global-research

11-02-19 08:20:00,

Britain’s navy and marines are conducting military exercises close to Venezuela, the Morning Star has discovered.

The Mounts Bay, a giant Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship, spent New Year in Miami embarking a US coastguard helicopter for the first time.

Curacao's position in the Caribbean

It then sailed south to within 50 miles of the Venezuelan coast and had docked in Caracas Baii, on the tiny Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, by January 21.

The Royal Navy claims the vessel is working on counternarcotics “take-down” operations with the US Southern Command – though it is this branch of the Pentagon that would lead any attack on Venezuela.

Meanwhile, British marines are conducting jungle warfare training in Belize. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has described their deployment as “routine.”

They arrived there in mid-January, when Britain was ratcheting up its diplomatic and economic campaign against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Initially, the marines were based at British Army Training Support Unit Belize, a permanent base adjacent to the country’s international airport.

Photos show the marines carrying out battlefield drills, including casualty evacuation.

The marines are from 40 Commando’s A Company, a highly trained unit that specialises in close combat and is “held at very high readiness by UK MoD for crisis response.”

Marines from 40 Commando were among the first British troops to land in Iraq during the 2003 invasion.

Late last year they practised amphibious landings in the Gulf state of Oman, whose royal dictator is a British ally.

In Belize, they are currently accompanied by sappers from the Royal Engineers’ 59 Commando Squadron, who provide “close combat engineer support,” as well as members of Condor Troop, a unit normally based in Scotland.

Photos show that by January 17 the marines had left the Belize barracks and were practising river crossings at a jungle location in crocodile-infested waters.

This training appears to have continued into this month.

Britain’s air force is also active in the region. Flight data shows an RAF transport aircraft from Brize Norton landed in Belize after dark on January 23.

On February 2 the RAF released aerial photos of the Belize coastline,

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Grand Theft Venezuela, Stealing a Nation: Financial Warfare Precipitates Economic Collapse – Global Research

grand-theft-venezuela-stealing-a-nation-financial-warfare-precipitates-economic-collapse-8211-global-research

11-02-19 08:09:00,

Michael Hudson explained that Washington “treat(s) Venezuela as an extension of the US economy, running a trade surplus in oil to spend in the United States or transfer its savings to US banks.”

Sanctions prevent Maduro’s government “from gaining access to its US bank deposits,” including state-owned CITGO refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products.

The US plot involves “making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt,” forcing the nation to default on its obligations, a pretext for the Trump regime to try seizing its foreign assets.

Making Venezuela’s economy scream aims to crush it into submission, leaving it vulnerable to stealing the nation by the US.

It’s held captive by US demands. Economic, financial and sanctions war transformed normality into crisis conditions.

Financial war can be more dangerous than standing armies, war waged by other means, raping nations and their people for profit.

Examples abound, including earlier in Chile under a US-installed military dictatorship, Greece transformed into a zombie country by the European Commission, ECB and IMF.

The latter financial institution is considered the loan shark of last resort for good reason, serving US-led Western monied interests at the expense of nations and their people.

Venezuela is being slowly suffocated by asymmetrical warfare, sucking out its financial oxygen to survive, wanting its wealth transferred to US interests.

According to a Latin American Geopolitical Strategic Center (CELAG) study, US financial war on Venezuela since Maduro’s April 2013 election through 2017 cost the country $350 billion in lost production of goods and services.

The US has been systematically strangling its economy under Obama and Trump. What’s going on may be prelude to military intervention – unjustifiably justified by made-in-the-USA humanitarian crisis conditions and low oil prices.

Washington blocked Venezuela “from international financial markets, preventing it from using the credit market both to renew maturities and to make new loans,” the CELAG report explained.

Its dependency on revenues from oil sales made it highly vulnerable to US war by other means. The “economic consequences of the (US) boycott” of the country have been devastating, notably to its people.

Trump warned that he might intervene in Venezuela militarily,

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Saker interview with Michael Hudson on Venezuela

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10-02-19 08:28:00,

Introduction: There is a great deal of controversy about the true shape of the Venezuelan economy and whether Hugo Chavez’ and Nicholas Maduro’s reform and policies were crucial for the people of Venezuela or whether they were completely misguided and precipitated the current crises. Anybody and everybody seems to have very strong held views about this. But I don’t simply because I lack the expertise to have any such opinions. So I decided to ask one of the most respected independent economists out there, Michael Hudson, for whom I have immense respect and whose analyses (including those he co-authored with Paul Craig Roberts) seem to be the most credible and honest ones you can find. In fact, Paul Craig Roberts considers Hudson the “best economist in the world“!

I am deeply grateful to Michael for his replies which, I hope, will contribute to a honest and objective understanding of what really is taking place in Venezuela.

The Saker

The Saker: Could you summarize the state of Venezuela’s economy when Chavez came to power?

Michael Hudson: Venezuela was an oil monoculture. Its export revenue was spent largely on importing food and other necessities that it could have produced at home. Its trade was largely with the United States. So despite its oil wealth, it ran up foreign debt.

From the outset, U.S. oil companies have feared that Venezuela might someday use its oil revenues to benefit its overall population instead of letting the U.S. oil industry and its local comprador aristocracy siphon off its wealth. So the oil industry – backed by U.S. diplomacy – held Venezuela hostage in two ways.

First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies – or the U.S. Government – to leave Venezuela without a means of “going it alone” and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn’t help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable.

Second,

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Western Media Fall In Lockstep For Cheap Trump/Rubio Venezuela Aid PR Stunt

western-media-fall-in-lockstep-for-cheap-trumprubio-venezuela-aid-pr-stunt

10-02-19 08:23:00,

Authored by Adam Johnson via Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting,

The Trump administration’s now completely overt effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a very successful public relations effort this week, as major Western media outlets uniformly echoed its simplistic, pre-packaged claim that the Venezuelan government was heartlessly withholding foreign aid:

All of the above articles – and scores more like it – repeated the same script: Maduro was blocking aid from the US “out of refusal to relinquish power,” preferring to starve “his own people” rather than feed them. It’s a simple case of good and evil—of a tyrannical, paranoid dictator not letting in aid to feed a starving population.

Except three pieces of key context are missing. Context that, when presented to a neutral observer, would severely undermine the cartoonish narrative being advanced by US media.

  1. Both the Red Cross and UN warned the US not to engage in this aid PR stunt.

  2. The bridge in question is a visual metaphor contrived by the Trump administration of little practical relevance.

  3. The person in charge of US operations in Venezuela has a history of using aid as a cover to deliver weapons to right-wing mercenaries.

(1) Not only has the international aid community not asked for the “aid,” earlier this week, both the International Red Cross and United Nations warned the US to explicitly not engage in these types of PR stunts.

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A Handful of Zionists Have Taken Over the UK – PaulCraigRoberts.org

a-handful-of-zionists-have-taken-over-the-uk-8211-paulcraigroberts.org

10-02-19 06:40:00,

Copyright .© Paul Craig Roberts 2018.- Please contact us for information on syndication rights.


This site offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. IPE has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor.

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US and EU Support Largest Land Grab Since 1948

us-and-eu-support-largest-land-grab-since-1948

10-02-19 06:31:00,

“Largest Land Grab Since 1948” — Israel to Expel 36,000 Palestinians From Negev 

Given the Israeli state’s rejection of their existence, government officials have called the Palestinians living in these villagers “violators” and “squatters” – accusing them of illegally occupying “state lands.”

EL AVIV, ISRAEL — According to an Israeli media report, the Israeli government has completed work on a massive, far-reaching plan that would expel an estimated 36,000 Palestinians from “unrecognized” villages in the Negev Desert. If the plan is approved by the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body, its implementation could begin as soon as this year and would take four years to complete. News of the plan was first published by Israel Hayom – Israel’s largest Hebrew-language newspaper, funded by Sheldon Adelson, the top donor to both U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The plan — compiled by Uri Ariel, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and his staff — features the seizure of an estimated 260,00 dunams (64,247 acres) from Palestine’s Bedouins. The size of the territory in question and the high number of Palestinians set to be affected has led some to call the plan the largest “land grab” of Palestinian-inhabited land since 1948, when the state of Israel was founded.
Israel Hayom’s report stated that, per the new plan, the Palestinian villages would be demolished and the ruins of their homes would then become the sites of “national projects,” infrastructure projects, and “security” installations after the forcible “transfer” of the land’s current inhabitants to other “state-approved” settlements such as Tel Sheva, Abu Talul and Umm Batin. The report noted that a major motivation behind the plan’s creation was the transfer of an arms-industry factory from another part of Israel to the Negev, as well as the expansion of the “Trans-Israel Highway” system.

Furthermore, the plan involves calling for a budget increase to boost the presence of law enforcement officials involved in the forcible “transfer” and in the demolition of Palestinian villages.
Rights groups have yet to comment on the newly announced plan targeting Palestinian communities in the Negev. However, Human Rights Watch has previously condemned Israel’s targeting of “unrecognized” Palestinian villages in the region. In 2016, Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division,   » Lees verder

Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia Merger: Global Empire of Dystopia?

oceania-eurasia-and-eastasia-merger-global-empire-of-dystopia

10-02-19 09:42:00,

Submitted by Gilbert Mercier:

The nature of reality in times of universal confusion

The world and our interpretation of it are often at best an idea and, at worse, a figment of our imagination. In our full-blown Orwellian construct, the truths of some are the fake news of others. Invisible forces and undisclosed interests rule the world and its so-called leaders, who are mostly actor-puppets directed from scripted narratives. They largely live in an alternate universe where, if you repeat outlandish lies often and loudly enough, the disinformation becomes the unquestionable reality for countless people. Reality has become stranger than fiction because the conflicting narratives about what is supposed to be real are, by and large, fictional. They are cleverly crafted propaganda that manipulate by maximizing confusion. The masters of this craft have gutted familiar words of all meaning.

For example, at the heart of Oceania, the white-orange clown emperor, obsessed with walls to protect his subjects from southern brown invaders, told his adoring patrons and sycophants, “we renew our resolve that Oceania shall never be socialist!” The aging patricians gathered for the obligatory annual feast gave him a standing ovation, and loudly chanted “Oceania, Oceania, Oceania!…” This enthusiastic chanting from Oceania’s Patricians, except for the more dignified Supreme Elders and Commanders of the Praetorian Guard, repeated itself on cue at least four of five times, to celebrate the great universal superiority of the invincible mighty empire of the free and the brave! The egotistical emperor’s writers must have laughed as he served up their outstanding fictions to the empire’s docile subjects!

Schopenhauer’s relevant pessimism

In his essential book, The World as Will and Idea, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) contested the rationalist notion that reason alone gave humans the universal key to an infinitely complex, and often irrational, reality. He took the assessments Immanuel Kant had made in his Critique of Pure Reason a step further by adding the fundamental notion of sufficient reason. This was a less absolute concept of the relation of cause to effect, which he anchored in what he deemed to be four categories of human knowledge: science, morality,

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Mike Pompeo claims “active” terror cells in Venezuela (Video)

mike-pompeo-claims-active-terror-cells-in-venezuela-video

10-02-19 09:40:00,

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation:

Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn’t have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world’s largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government’s Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by “quality,” it seems that they mean “progressive.” The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that’s reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn’t want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that’s not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company’s initiative to scrub anti-war content and “protest” movements. 

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A United Europe? | New Eastern Outlook

a-united-europe-new-eastern-outlook

10-02-19 09:34:00,

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A Janus specter is haunting Europe: its two thousand year ‘civilization’, and the challenge of re-imagining it.

The presence, on a relatively small piece of real estate of several dozen tribes, each with their own language and successive versions of history, guaranteed that they would often be at odds: over the centuries, under the watchful eye of God, kings fought over territory and religion.

Inevitably, kings having been replaced by media cutouts, Europe was faced with an assault on its carefully preserved monuments and richly tended cityscapes that the Enlightenment had not foreseen. Individuals who worship Mohamed instead of Christ are less likely to live out productive lives than enemies of kings who were condemned to exile or the guillotine — or even those who over-borrowed, ending in debtor’s prison.

Notwithstanding its geography featuring rivers and other natural boundaries, the Eurasian Peninsula, as I have been calling it for the last five years has been inclined toward competition and strife. In the early twentieth century, as ‘progress’ made fighting ever more attractive than cooperating, the various kings begged far flung descendants to intervene. Awed by royalty, which they had banished, Americans felt duty bound to help the ‘old countries’, seeing also the benefits to be derived. After putting things right, they hoped in vain that an overarching system would prevent new crises, but their ’grandfathers’ proved hopelessly senile, so they decided to exercise direct oversight.

Inevitably, the reverse colonization of Europe by the United States resulted in Europe’s participation in American wars against its own former colonies, it’s leaders failing to realize these would result in masses of racially and religiously ‘different’ people flocking to its shores. Europeans had created economic construct to avoid clashes, however without an overarching political system, decades of rule from Brussels could only exacerbate tribalism. (A recent report on France 24 showed that students benefitting from the Erasmus Exchange Program are the exception.)

Although it produced the best crop of thinkers since the Greeks, the Enlightenment scarcely reached the Eastern Europeans as they resisted the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Third Reich and Communism. Unsurprisingly, no sooner integrated into ‘the West’, they rejected it for failing to defend their Christian values, flirting with atheism in the name of individual rights.

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$1.25bn home for 4,000 secret agents: What’s behind German spy agency’s new HQ? (PHOTOS)

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09-02-19 07:31:00,

After occupying a Nazi-linked villa for decades, Germany’s intelligence HQ has finally moved to central Berlin. But critics are still arguing what’s worse here – its enormous size, exuberant cost or bulky architecture.

The central office of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in downtown Berlin was officially opened on Friday. Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked BND personnel for their work “so that millions of Germans can live in safety,”noting that the nation’s spy agency needs to stay “strong, efficient.”

The agency’s previous home was a villa built by Nazi chief Martin Bormann in the countryside near Munich, Bavaria. This new site has housed police barracks, destroyed in WWII, and then a sports stadium, demolished in the 1990s.

The office covers an area of 36 football fields, making it the biggest intelligence HQ in the world. It will house around 4,000 agents.

The decision to relocate the HQ stemmed directly from the aftermath of German reunification, as political institutions were moved from West Germany’s capital, Bonn to Berlin, the Defense Ministry’s former state secretary, Willy Wimmer told RT.

Apart from its outstanding size, the construction features a massive monolith-like sculpture near the front entrance. The German press dubbed it ‘The Thing’. It “conveys a subtle hint of BND’s function: casting light on the hidden and safeguarding secrets,” the agency’s website said.

Rocky start

The project was blasted by the media because it took 12 years to build and for its “explosive cost” as the price tag swelled from €720 million to whooping €1.1 billion ($1.25bn). It was further marred by several embarrassing incidents during construction. In 2011, BND admitted that the building blueprints were stolen. In 2015, thieves stole freshly-fitted water taps, causing massive flooding of the structure.

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The building’s imagery also sparked debates. Writing for Berliner Zeitung, renowned architecture critic Nikolaus Bernau noted that the structure evoked the “luxury of a prince’s palace,” while at the same being reminiscent of the Stasi,

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EU Warns Diplomats Of “No-Go” Zones In Brussels, Cites Influx Of Russian And Chinese Spies

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09-02-19 07:16:00,

EU officials have issued a bizarre warning to government, military and diplomatic staff working in Brussels, alleging that the European Union’s unofficial capital has become a major hub of Russian and Chinese espionage and spying.

The EU authorities have reportedly advised European diplomats and other personnel to avoid specific areas of the city, especially night life entertainment venues, near EU institutions which have seen an uptick in foreign snooping and surveillance. 

European Parliament’s main building in Brussels, via EPA

EU diplomats told German paper Welt am Sonntag they received a formal alert from the  European External Action Service (EEAS), warning them of the presence of “around 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies,” according to the report.

The German report identifies Brussels’ popular European Quarter, where the majority of the key EU institutions are based, as a key area being targeted by spies, specifically social hubs like bars and restaurants frequented by EU employees. The “no-go” places included a popular steakhouse and cafe near a building housing the European Commission headquarters, for example. 

The WELT report notes further that EU military officials were issued the same warning of a noticeable uptick in activity based out of the Russian and Chinese embassies, but without citing specific evidence, only a historic case from 2003 involving the European Council’s building being bugged by an unknown foreign power. 

Brussels neighborhood pub close to the European Parliament. via The Bulletin

But in place of evidence for the claims, which seems more aimed at ensuring EU officials take precautionary measures, the alert referenced patterns of prior decades:

According to the security service, in earlier times Russian agents were most frequently represented in the European capital. Concrete figures were not mentioned in this context. According to internal security services, the Chinese and Russian intelligence agents work in Brussels primarily at the embassies or commercial representations of their home countries, WELT went on to learn.

The report called Russian, Chinese, and even American spying inside Brussels “an open secret” which is run out of local embassies involving “attachés accompanying diplomats” at social events. 

Concerning Beijing’s attempts to gather information,

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Is Debt China’s Achilles Heel? | New Eastern Outlook

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09-02-19 02:25:00,

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China’s credits to various countries along its much-discussed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the most ambitious infrastructure undertaking in history, have recently been criticized for drawing poor countries into a debt trap by extending huge credits. Myanmar is often cited, as well as Sri Lanka. Malaysia and Pakistan are renegotiating multi-billion-dollar projects of previous regimes. What is not widely being examined however, is whether there is a danger that the China economy itself is vulnerable to a far larger debt trap, one that could spell trouble for the BRI project itself as well as for the unprecedented four decades of booming China economic growth. Could it be that debt is becoming China’s Achilles Heel?

The state of the Chinese economy is likely far graver than its leaders are admitting. The cause is not the effect of the US trade war. Rather it’s the structure of a debt-driven growth that has defined the unprecedented rise of China to a world economic power second only to the USA. What is called “socialism with Chinese characteristics” looks more and more like the Western debt-collapse model on steroids.

At the heart of the current problem is China’s home real estate debt market.

A debt trap is defined as a situation where a borrower takes on new debt to repay existing debt to a point where the terms of the original debt have drastically changed for the worse and default looms. During the Alan Greenspan US sub-prime debt bonanza more than a decade ago, millions of Americans took out loans, often with little bank checking, in a securitized mortgage market where home prices were rising so fast many believed they couldn’t lose. Until the bubble burst in early 2007.

In China over the past decade or more, a rising middle class began to realize for the first time they could buy goods never before possible. The American and European cars their labor produced were the first big consumer purchase boom. Over the past decade and more, that consumption has shifted to buying a home or apartment in one of China’s many growing cities. Much of the financial credit for the housing construction boom has come from unregulated local finance vehicles, a form of shadow banking, as the large state banks were tightly controlled.

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