Apr 19 2010

Basilisk Press

 

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TBR News June 26, 2016

Jun 26 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 26, 2016: “The EU has been an entity closely supported by the United States, both economically and politically. It was finaolized in 1993 and was comprised of all of Europe with the exception of Norway and Switzerland. From an American point of view, the EU, like Nato, served as a balance against Russia, whom the US has always viewed as its chief rival for world power.

It was not necessary for the US to control the EU as long as they were able to influence it, mainly through the American banking community.

A failed American attempt to get control of Russian natural resources, such as oil and gas, failed when the US-supported Russian oligarchs were neutralized by Vladimir Putin.

From that point on, Putin has been viewed by Washington as man who challenged the American expsnsionist programs and emerged victorious.

As Russia gained in stature, the US, always one step behind, tried Nato threats to Russia, easily persuaded its EU puppets to slap economic sanctions on Russia for its successful reuniting with the Crimea.

The upheaval in the Ukraine was engineered by the CIA and resulted in the the economic collapse of that country.

Instead of becoming a forward base for American anti-Russian activity, the Ukraine became a whining beggar.

In the Brexit disaster, one thinks of Galatians 6:7. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’”

 The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.

This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Sunday, 11. February, 1951.

After Mass today (I spent the night at the club because of the meeting today) I had a talk with someone from the Vatican about the Croat problems. Pavelic’s people will certainly be a welcome addition at this end. (Ante Pavelic, the Poglavnik or Chief of State, of Croatia, was a German ally during the war and members of his Ustacha party were heavily in demand by Frank Wisner’s group. They were also in demand by other people who wanted to execute them but they were heavily protected in America. ed.)

The CIA has taken over the so-called “rat lines” or escape routes from Europe to Syria and South America and are now directing many of the wanted people here instead of these two countries. Bishop Hudal has done an excellent job, under U.S. direction of course, and ought to be able to retire filled with satisfaction with a job well done.

I have used the excuse of her pregnancy to tell Bunny that she ought not to travel to Cuba with me and she seems willing to stay on the farm and work with her horses. I have found that once my leg muscles got accustomed to the work, I can ride without any discomfort although I do not like wild gallops around the grounds. A nice trot and a canter are just fine with me. I have already lost ten pounds this way but I am told that if I build up my saddle muscles, I will have to continue riding or they will turn to blubber after a time.

Monday, 12. February, 1951.

While talking on the telephone with Behn, the subject of the “Flying Discs” came up. I had discussed the Roe Company and the possible future of these craft with him earlier. He has looked into it and is not sanguine about the projects they are working on. We have one of the developers of this here but there are problems because he only did a part of the work and the other one is in Russia. Still, it if works, it will revolutionize air travel being far safer and faster than the jet engine.

Later: When Viktor called about his family (all is well there) we talked about this and he is going to come together with me this week because there are things he wants to talk about concerning this disk business. Not on the phone of course.

Cuba next week!

Friday, 16. February, 1951.

Viktor and I went to lunch today at a Chinese restaurant in DC where the music is so loud no one can overhear you.

Much of interest to talk about, especially about the disk problem. Viktor, who works in the Pentagon, tells me that a number of these objects have been seen, aside from the reports in the papers. The Army, he says, has tracked some of these on radar as have the Air Force, and they are very fast indeed. Thousands of miles an hour in some cases!

Naturally, they do not belong to this country so the immediate assumption, in the Pentagon, is that they are Russian. On the other hand, Viktor assures me that they are not Russian and must be ours! We exchanged views and I was able to assure him that the only thing I knew about these were the German developments made during the war.

This he knew something about but he reiterated that Moscow is certain that these objects, which they too have observed and tracked, are not theirs.

I have no problem with Viktor who is honest enough with me in most matters and in this business, I absolutely believe him.

What, in fact, are these objects? The Luftwaffe boys reported seeing similar objects during the war, tracking their formations and I now understand that American units had the same experiences. Each side thought the other was responsible!

It couldn’t be the British because the cost of making such craft would be way beyond them in their present bankrupt state. Not the French either. If they are not American or Russian, where, indeed, do they come from? Are these viewings by the public, mass hysteria?

Well, I can think about them in Havana next week while I am getting tanned on the beaches!

https://www.amazon.com/DC-Diaries-Translated-Heinrich-Chronicals-ebook/dp/B00SQDU3GE?ie=UTF8&keywords=The%20DC%20Diaries&qid=1462467839&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

The Great Rice Disease Plot

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Ever since the times of the great Malthus, it has been well recognized that since all species must eat to continue living, the existence of food sources is vital to the survival of any species, be it homosapiens or others.

Food may, in short, be seen as a weapon as effective as a bullet or a bomb in an attack on a perceived enemy.

We therefore now consider the production of food stuffs as a weapon in a war, formal or informal.

I speak now of a growing struggle between the PRC (China) and the United States in which the PRC can clearly be seen as a challenger to the United States both in the military and economic spheres.

For example, the PRC has purchased very large financial holdings of the United States such as official U.S. Treasury bills and then also as holders of billions of American dollars worth of other financial holdings and long term investments.

These acquisitions are not intended for financial gain to the PRC but to be used as an economic and political lever when, and as, needed.

The PRC has also purchased from the U.S. Treasury, billions of dollars worth of gold belonging to foreign entities.

German holdings alone totaled 53 billion dollars and other nation’s deposits greatly increased this amount.

The sale generated capital used to pay down an enormous American national debt, mostly stemming from military development and deployment worldwide.

Also, the PRC has been known to be conducting a form of economic warfare against the United States by the production of counterfeit gold items, such as coinage and, most dangerously, as faked copies of American official U.S. Treasury gold bars. This has the dual purpose of enriching the PRC with badly-needed items such as oil and raw material it cannot, by itself, possess.

It is evident that the United States intelligence organs are entirely aware of these dangerous PRC activities and have been assiduously working both to blunt the economic warfare and then to counter with other methods.

The most important of these latter methods deals with the issue of food.

It is not certainly a secret that China has a number of growing, and potentially fatal, problems with her population and the care and feeding of it.

China’s basic supply of fresh water comes from the glaciers of the Himalayan mountains but these glaciers are not only melting rapidly but renewal of them does not occur due to obvious and growing planetary climate changes. The shrinking of glacial waters also strongly effects the hydroelectric programs of China.

Another of the PRC’s growing problems is the unchecked increase in population; the shrinkage of arable food (i.e. rice) production areas, a domestic and foreign economic “bubble” that is obvious will probably cause a disastrous implosion.

This brief study of the problems of the PRC then moves on to the methodology by which the United States, the PRC’s main global economic rival, can either neutralize or destroy the capacity of the PRC to wage economic warfare and to neutralize her future endeavors.

Let us now consider the basic Achilles Heel of the PRC; food.

The Unied States is capable of feeding its own people, though with problems of organized production and distribution but the PRC, and most of Asia, is dependent very heavily on a single crop: rice.

Rice is the seed of the monocot plant Oryza sativa. As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in East and South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the West Indies. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after corn.

Today, the majority of all rice produced comes from China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, and Japan. These Asian farmers account for 92-percent of the world’s total rice production

The peoples of the PRC, we then are fully aware, have rice, both domestic and imported, as a basic food staple. Should this stable become seriously interdicted by, let us say, some kind of a disease that would impact not only on the PRC but other Asian areas as well, growing starvation and the attendant civil dissoloution can well be postulated. Major rice diseases include Rice ragged stunt, Sheath Blight and tungro. Rice blast, caused by the fungus Magnaporthe grisea, is the most significant disease affecting rice cultivation. There is also an ascomycete fungus, Cochliobolus miyabeanus, that causes brown spot disease in rice.

A most serious threat to rice crops would be Rust disease, xanthomonas compesteris pv.oryzae

Xanthomonas oryzae is a species of proteobacteria. The major host of the bacteria is rice

The species contains two pathovars which are non-European: Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae and Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola.Host resistance gene, Xa21,from Oryza longistaminata is integrated into the genome of Oryza sativa for the board range resistance of rice blight disease caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae

In the America of today, unpleasant tasks, the revelation of which might redound against the government, are generally made the province of the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Intelligence Community, including the National Security Agency, as well as other U.S. Government civil agencies.

These agencies, in turn, look to the civil, business sector for special development and preparation of weaponry, both conventional and bio-weaponry.

One of the main institutions for this development is SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), which has been headquartered in Tysons Corner in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near McLean, since September of 2009.

Their Board of Directors has included many well- known ex-government personnel including Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense in the Nixon administration; William Perry, Secretary of Defense for Bill Clinton; John M. Deutch, President Clinton’s CIA Director; Admiral Bobby Ray Inman who served in various capacities in the NSA and CIA for the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations.

Opinion: Brexit from EU leaves Donald Trump triumphant

The Brexit result is cause for caution in the United States. Donald Trump’s single-note mixed message might just have a serious chances of success, DW correspondent Ines Pohl writes in Washington.

June 25, 2017

DW

Just a few days ago, almost nobody in the United States had been interested in the possibility of a Brexit – apart from professionals in industries that might be affected. There are very few people in the United States who make an effort to understand how the EU works. The fact that Great Britain doesn’t use the euro and will remain an EU member until the details are worked out does not make the European Union more comprehensible to Americans.

News of an affirmative Brexit result, however, has caused a stir in the United States – though the reason for this is, of course, very American: Donald Trump. Once again, the Republican presidential candidate has managed to exploit an international development for his own ends.

Trump had cunningly planned a visit to one of his golf courses in Scotland for the morning following the referendum. The past few weeks had not worked out so well for the New York billionaire, and criticism from within the Republican ranks has been growing stronger. So the Brexit was a godsend for him. The arguments used in the successful “Leave” campaign are the same as the ones that Trump himself uses: “Immigrants are to blame for economic problems. We have to focus more on our interests and spend less time and money on international relations and alliances.”

The success of Britain’s EU opponents is now a doubly bitter pill to swallow for the Democrats. What is possible in the land from which the United States declared its independence now seems possible in the former colony; now that Brexit is a reality, a President Trump could be, too.

Obama did it?

Trump can exploit Barack Obama’s previous support for the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. He can show that the current US president obviously has no influence on people in other countries: Trump has even gone so far as to claim that Obama’s visit to the United Kingdom in April had harmed the “Remain” campaign.

When he visited London in the spring, Obama spoke in favor of Britain’s staying in the EU, backing up his views with economic and strategic military arguments. Great Britain is still the US’s strongest and most reliable military partner. This alliance will be called into question after the Brexit vote, however.

The United Kingdom has provided Trump with new ammunition. At the same time, the Democrat Hillary Clinton’s camp must be thinking the same thing that Chancellor Angela Merkel is: How can the advance of insurgents such as Trump or Alternative for Germany be stopped in a world filled with injustice and insecurity? Such empty sayings as “we’re on the right track” or “we can do it” have been exhausted. Too many people feel that no one is listening to their worries about their difficulties in life. Now, Brits have demonstrated one possible result of this perceived neglect.

Brexit is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

June 25 2016

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

The decision by UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Vincent Bevins, in an outstanding and concise analysis, wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years”; in particular, “since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.” The British journalist Tom Ewing, in a comprehensive Brexit explanation, said the same dynamic driving the UK vote prevails in Europe and North America as well: “the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact.”

In an interview with The New Statesman, the political philosopher Michael Sandel also said that the dynamics driving the pro-Brexit sentiment were now dominant throughout the west generally: “a large constituency of working-class voters feel that not only has the economy left them behind, but so has the culture, that the sources of their dignity, the dignity of labour, have been eroded and mocked by developments with globalisation, the rise of finance, the attention that is lavished by parties across the political spectrum on economic and financial elites, the technocratic emphasis of the established political parties.” After the market-venerating radicalism of Reagan and Thatcher, he said, “the centre left” – Blair and Clinton and various European parties – “managed to regain political office but failed to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy, which ­became empty and obsolete.”

Three Guardian writers sounded similar themes about elite media ignorance, stemming from their homogeneity and detachment from the citizenry. John Harris quoted a Manchester voter as explaining that “if you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out,” and Harris added: “most of the media . . . failed to see this coming. . . . The alienation of the people charged with documenting the national mood from the people who actually define it is one of the ruptures that has led to this moment.” Gary Younge similarly denounced “a section of the London-based commentariat [that] anthropologised the British working class as though they were a lesser evolved breed from distant parts, all too often portraying them as bigots who did not know what was good for them.” Ian Jack’s article was headlined “In this Brexit vote, the poor turned on an elite who ignored them,” and he described how “gradually the sight of empty towns and shuttered shops became normalised or forgotten.”

Though there were some exceptions, establishment political and media elites in the UK were vehemently united against Brexit, but their decreed wisdom was ignored, even scorned. That has happened time and again. As their fundamental failures become more evident to all, these elites have lost credibility, lost influence, and lost the ability to dictate outcomes.

Just last year in the UK, Labour members chose someone to lead Tony Blair’s party – the authentically left-wing Jeremy Corbyn – who could not have been more intensely despised and patronized by almost every leading light of the British media and political class. In the U.S., the joyful rejection by Trump voters of the collective wisdom of the conservative establishment evidenced the same contempt for elite consensus. The enthusiastic and sustained rallying, especially by young voters, against beloved-by-the-establishment Hillary Clinton in favor of a 74-year-old socialist taken seriously by almost no DC elites reflected the same dynamic. Elite denunciations of the right-wing parties of Europe fall on deaf ears. Elites can’t stop, or even affect, any of these movements because they are, at bottom, revolts against their wisdom, authority and virtue.

In sum, the west’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding – all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer – in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate.

In 2011, NATO bombed Libya by pretending it was motivated by humanitarianism, only to ignore that country once the fun military triumph was celebrated, thus leaving a vacuum of anarchy and milita rule for years that spread instability through the region and fueled the refugee crisis. The U.S. and its European allies continue to invade, occupy and bomb predominantly Muslim countries while propping up their most brutal tyrants, then feign befuddlement about why anyone would want to attack them back, justifying erosions of basic liberties and more bombing campaigns and ratcheting up fear levels each time someone does. The rise of ISIS and the foothold it seized in Iraq and Libya were the direct by-products of the west’s military actions (as even Tony Blair admitted regarding Iraq). Western societies continue to divert massive resources into military weaponry and prisons for their citizens, enriching the most powerful factions in the process, all while imposing harsh austerity on already suffering masses. In sum, western elites thrive while everyone else loses hope.

These are not random, isolated mistakes. They are the by-product of fundamental cultural pathologies within western elite circles – a deep rot. Why should institutions that have repeatedly authored such travesties, and spread such misery, continue to command respect and credibility? They shouldn’t, and they’re not. As Chris Hayes warned in his 2012 book Twilight of the Elites, “given both the scope and depth of this distrust [in elite institutions], it’s clear that we’re in the midst of something far grander and more perilous than just a crisis of government or a crisis of capitalism. We are in the midst of a broad and devastating crisis of authority.”

It’s natural – and inevitable – that malignant figures will try to exploit this vacuum of authority. All sorts of demagogues and extremists will try to re-direct mass anger for their own ends. Revolts against corrupt elite institutions can usher in reform and progress, but they can also create a space for the ugliest tribal impulses: xenophobia, authoritarianism, racism, fascism. One sees all of that, both good and bad, manifesting in the anti-establishment movements throughout the U.S., Europe, and the UK: including Brexit. All of this can be invigorating, or promising, or destabilizing, or dangerous: most likely a combination of all that.

The solution is not to subserviently cling to corrupt elite institutions out of fear of the alternatives. It is, instead, to help bury those institutions and their elite mavens and then fight for superior replacements. As Hayes put it in his book, the challenge is “directing the frustration, anger, and alienation we all feel into building a trans-ideological coalition that can actually dislodge the power of the post-meritocratic elite. One that marshals insurrectionist sentiment without succumbing to nihilism and manic, paranoid distrust.”

Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There is no one, unifying explanation for Brexit, or Trumpism, or the growing extremism of various stripes throughout the west, but this sense of angry impotence – an inability to see any option other than smashing those responsible for their plight –  is undoubtedly a major factor. As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, and Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.

Obviously, those who are the target of this anti-establishment rage – political, economic and media elites – are desperate to exonerate themselves, to demonstrate that they bear no responsibility for the suffering masses that are now refusing to be compliant and silent. The easiest course to achieve that goal is simply to demonize those with little power, wealth or possibility as stupid and racist: this is only happening because they are primitive and ignorant and hateful, not because they have any legitimate grievances or because I or my friends or my elite institutions have done anything wrong

Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites – including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago – instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted and amoral.

Indeed, media reaction to the Brexit vote – filled with unreflective rage, condescension and contempt toward those who voted wrong – perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place. Media elites, by virtue of their position, adore the status quo. It rewards them, vests them with prestige and position, welcomes them into exclusive circles, allows them to be close to (if not themselves wielding) great power while traveling their country and the world, provides them with a platform, fills them with esteem and purpose. The same is true of academic elites, and financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.

Because of how generally satisfied they are with their lot, they regard with affection and respect the internationalist institutions that safeguard the west’s prevailing order: the World Bank and IMF, NATO and the west’s military forces, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the EU. While they express some piecemeal criticisms of each, they literally cannot comprehend how anyone would be fundamentally disillusioned by and angry with these institutions, let alone want to break from them. They are far removed from the suffering that causes those anti-establishment sentiments. So they search and search in vain for some rationale that could explain something like Brexit, or the establishment-condemning movements on the right and left, and can find only one way to process it: these people are not motivated by any legitimate grievances or economic suffering, but instead they are just broken, ungrateful, immoral, hateful, racist and ignorant.

Of course it is the case that some, perhaps much, of the support given to these anti-establishment movements is grounded in those sorts of ugly sentiments. But it’s also the case that the media elites’ revered establishment institutions in finance, media and politics are driven by all sorts of equally ugly impulses, as the rotted fruit of their actions conclusively proves.

Even more important, the mechanism that western citizens are expected to use to express and rectify dissatisfaction – elections – has largely ceased to serve any correction function.

But that is exactly the choice presented not only by Brexit but also western elections generally, including the 2016 Clinton v. Trump General Election (just look at the powerful array of Wall Street tycoons and war-loving neocons which – long before Trump – viewed the former Democratic New York Senator and Secretary of State as their best hope for having their agenda and interests served). When democracy is preserved only in form, structured to change little to nothing about power distribution, people naturally seek alternatives for the redress of their grievances, particularly when they suffer.

More importantly still – and directly contrary to what establishment liberals love to claim in order to demonize all who reject their authority – economic suffering and xenophobia/racism are not mutually exclusive; the opposite is true: the former fuels the latter, as sustained economic misery makes people more receptive to tribalistic scapegoating. That’s precisely why plutocratic policies that deprive huge portions of the population of basic opportunity and hope are so dangerous. Claiming that supporters of Brexit or Trump or Corbyn or Sanders or anti-establishment European parties on the left and right are motivated only by hatred but not genuine economic suffering and political oppression is a transparent tactic for exonerating status quo institutions and evading responsibility for doing anything about their core corruption.

Part of this spiteful media reaction to Brexit is grounded in a dreary combination of sloth and habit: a sizable portion of the establishment-liberal commentariat in the west has completely lost the ability to engage with any sort of dissent from their orthodoxies, or even to understand those who disagree with them. They are capable of nothing beyond adopting the most smug and self-satisfied posture, then spouting clichés to dismiss their critics as ignorant, benighted bigots. Like the people of the west who bomb Muslim countries and then express confusion that anyone wants to attack them back, the most simple-minded of these establishment media liberals are constantly enraged that the people they endlessly malign as ignorant haters refuse to vest them with the respect and credibility to which they are naturally entitled.

But there’s something deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: they are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: they are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it,” but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that – due their distance from them – they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists – like anyone else – tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the by-product of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Brexit – despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower – could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential benefit was generated by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: this is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

Opinion: Brexit winner Putin

Moscow’s official reactions to Brexit will likely be marked by diplomacy, but secretly, the Kremlin is rejoicing: Its risky gamble has paid off the first time, writes DW’s Ingo Mannteufel.

June 26, 2016

DW

UKIP’s Nigel Farage and other prominent euroskeptics in EU, such as Geert Wilders in The Netherlands, or France’s Marine Le Pen, are not the only winners of the Brexit decision. Russian President Vladimir Putin also benefits from the Brexit referendum.

However, it is unlikely that Putin will express this stance. He places far too much value on presenting himself as an international statesman who responds with moderate, diplomatic words. But schadenfreude and crocodile tears clearly dominate the tone in the Kremlin-controlled media channels, as Russian state media has been long propagating the negative image of a decaying European Union.

Putin’s international populist hymn

Britain’s desire to leave the European Union reminds many Russians of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Brexit decision is undoubtedly a historic turning point. But it will not result in a total collapse of state and economic order, as seen after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This reality is being withheld from Russian television viewers, as Kremlin propagandists will prefer to tell tales about the oh-so-broken Europe. That way, the Russian population can be distracted from its own domestic crisis and Russia’s ruling elite can cement its power monopoly.

Russian politics cannot be seen as the cause of rising populist sentiments in Europe or the USA – if one thinks of Donald Trump supporters. The reasons can be found in an assortment of demographic, political and socio-economic factors. Nonetheless, in recent years, the Kremlin has distinctively increased its support for populist and euroskeptic groups, be it in the form of a loan to Marine Le Pen’s National Front from a Russian-Czech bank or in the form of extremely benevolent media coverage by Russia’s international state broadcaster of Nigel Farage’s UK independence Party or the Scottish independence movement in 2014.

Europe’s stability and capability to act are undermined by the reinforcement of populist tendencies in Europe – mostly right-wing movements, but also left-wing ones as well. The reasoning behind this is that growing discord in Europe can create opportunities for Russia to attain better results in negotiations with the EU, especially with regard to Russia’s present hopes of loosened European sanctions.

Maximum target in foreign policy met

The Brexit decision actually indicates that Russian foreign policy has reached its highest goal: In the coming years, the EU will focus on itself. EU enlargements are currently no longer conceivable. The bad news for all Ukrainians, Moldovans and Georgians today is that EU enlargement embracing post-Soviet states or Balkan States has now been delayed to a faraway time in the future. And even swift visa waiver approval for Ukraine and Georgia is still hard to imagine.

The prospect of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia joining the EU has been destroyed until further notice. Indirectly, it means that these countries will be pushed back into Russia’s historic sphere of influence, even though no one in the European Union would openly admit it. And so, Russia’s President Putin is clearly one of the Brexit winners.

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Soros warns of EU disintegration

June 25, 2016

BBC

Billionaire investor George Soros has warned that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union makes the disintegration of the bloc “practically irreversible”.

However, he called for thorough reconstruction of the EU in an attempt to save it.

Before Thursday’s UK referendum, Mr Soros had warned of financial meltdown if Britain voted to leave.

In his latest comments, he said the effects of the decision would damage Britain.

“Britain eventually may or may not be relatively better off than other countries by leaving the EU, but its economy and people stand to suffer significantly in the short- to medium term,” he wrote on the Project Syndicate website.

Mr Soros made huge profits in 1992’s “Black Wednesday” by betting against the British pound as it crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Before Friday’s vote he warned of a similar meltdown, predicting a Brexit victory would send the pound down by 15-20%. In the event, sterling fell about 10% to a 31-year low.

‘Turmoil’

“Now the catastrophic scenario that many feared has materialised, making the disintegration of the EU practically irreversible,” wrote Mr Soros in his latest article.

“The financial markets worldwide are likely to remain in turmoil as the long, complicated process of political and economic divorce from the EU is negotiated.”

He said the consequences for the economy would be comparable to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

“After Brexit, all of us who believe in the values and principles that the EU was designed to uphold must band together to save it by thoroughly reconstructing it,” he wrote.

“I am convinced that as the consequences of Brexit unfold in the weeks and months ahead, more and more people will join us.”

 

What is Article 50 of the EU Treaty?

◾In force since 2009 but never tested

◾Allows governments to notify intent to leave. Talks then begin on a range of issues between the leaving nation and other EU members

◾If no deal is reached, membership will automatically cease two years after notification

◾The article is only a basic template for leaving, settling the date and some other matters. It does not automatically include issues such as movement of people or trade. The latter could take years to conclude

 

Brexit crisis tops off rough stretch in Obama’s push for legacy

April 25, 2016

by Roberta Rampton

Reuters

The financial and political fallout from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has added to a string of setbacks for President Barack Obama as he works to burnish his legacy before his presidency ends in January 2017.

The Brexit decision came after a deadlock in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday effectively ended Obama’s push to overhaul immigration rules, and the week after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

For Obama, the reversals heighten pressure on him and fellow Democrats to work harder for the Nov. 8 elections – particularly for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, who represents his best shot at making sure more of his policies are not rolled back.

Speaking at two fundraising events in Seattle on Friday night, at the end of an arduous day that saw global markets plunge after the Brexit vote, Obama acknowledged the shifting political winds four months from the vote.

“If you didn’t think the stakes were high before, you should think the stakes are pretty high right now,” Obama said at an intimate fundraising dinner at the home of tech executive Steve Singh. Guests, arranged in two long tables, paid $10,000 to $66,800 per couple.

Obama has argued technology and globalization can increase opportunities for all, but conceded that recent events show many people are frightened by global competition and feel left behind.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and political novice, has tapped into those concerns about the economy, trade and immigration – fears that also figured into the UK campaign to leave the EU.

“Unfortunately, when people are anxious and scared, there are going to be politicians out there who try to prey on that frustration to get themselves headlines and to get themselves votes,” Obama told about 3,000 people who paid $250 and up to attend a campaign-style event on Friday for Washington State’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

Clinton regained a double-digit lead over Trump this week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday that showed 46.6 percent of likely American voters supported Clinton while 33.3 percent backed Trump.

‘THE NINTH INNING’

In April, Obama had taken the unusual step of traveling to London to help the “Remain” camp of the referendum for his friend and ally, Prime Minister David Cameron, who will now leave office before Obama does.

The financial uncertainty from Brexit threatens to weigh on the strong U.S. economy and undo some of the recovery seen since Obama took office in early 2009 at the height of the financial crisis.

Earlier this week, Obama’s plan to remove the specter of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants was quashed when the Supreme Court deadlocked over lifting a hold on the action.

And two weeks ago, the nation’s worst mass shooting in modern history, at a gay nightclub in Orlando, raised questions about how Obama is dealing with home-grown extremism – and served as a reminder of his failure to convince the U.S. Congress to tighten gun laws.

The setbacks show the limits of action that any president can take unilaterally, said Justin Vaughn, a political scientist at Boise State University.

“I don’t think Obama’s legacy has taken a hit so much as it came back to earth,” Vaughn said.

Still, the impression that his administration is unable to control its own political destiny could weigh on how history views Obama’s time at the White House, said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at University of Houston.

“Presidents are often judged by what happens in the ninth inning, so President Obama’s last few months in office are important to cementing and enhancing his legacy,” Rottinghaus said.

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken)

 

Brexit: Scotland and N Ireland reconsider ties to UK

Nationalist leaders in both Scotland and Northern Ireland ponder independence referendums following Brexit.

June 25, 2016

Al Jazeera

A second Scottish independence referendum is “highly likely” and should take place before Britain leaves the European Union, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

Scotland voted to stay in the EU by 62 to 38 percent in a referendum on Thursday, putting it at odds with the United Kingdom as a whole, which voted 52-48 in favour of leaving.

“It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second independence referendum must be on the table and is on the table,” Sturgeon told a news conference on Friday

“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against her will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable,” she added.

“I think an independence referendum is now highly likely.”

Scots rejected independence from the rest of the United Kingdom by 55 to 45 percent in a 2014 referendum, but since then Sturgeon’s pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has surged, winning several elections.

EU membership was one of the key issues in 2014, with those campaigning for Scotland to stick with the United Kingdom arguing that an independent Scotland would not be able to remain a member of the bloc.

Sturgeon said many Scots who had voted against independence for that reason were now re-assessing their decision.

“I want to make it absolutely clear today that I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted [on Thursday], in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market,” she said.

“If [Scotland’s] parliament judges that a second (independence) referendum is the only way to protect our place in Europe it must have the option to hold one within that timescale,” Sturgeon said.

She said it was “inconceivable” that Britain’s central government in London would stand in the way of a second referendum if it was the will of Scotland’s devolved parliament, which the SNP dominates.

Splitting Scotland from the UK would end three centuries of shared history, upending another successful economic relationship shortly after the now-impending divorce between Britain and the EU.

Nationalists call for Northern Ireland border poll

In a separate development, Irish nationalist leaders in Northern Ireland also called for a poll on leaving the United Kingdom and uniting with Ireland.

Most voters in Northern Ireland also voted to remain in Thursday’s referendum.

Declan Kearney, Sinn Fein’s national chairman, delivered a strongly worded statement after the referendum in which he said English voters had “dragged Northern Ireland out of the EU.

“English votes have overturned the democratic will of Northern Ireland.”

The party will now press for the calling of a border poll under the under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, he said.

Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, also strongly stated that his country wants to remain in the European Union and a border poll may be on the cards.

“The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans, unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to remain in the EU,” he said.

“Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government, the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people.”

On the other hand, Northern Ireland’s pro-British First Minister dismissed the calls by Irish nationalists for a referendum on Irish unity as “opportunistic” and said there is no way such a poll would be approved.

“There is no way, even if there was a border poll, that it would be in favour of a united Ireland,” Arlene Foster, the leader of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, told Radio Ulster.

A brutal week for Obama and his liberal vision of an interconnected world

June 25, 2016

by Greg Jaffe and David Nakamura

The Washington Post

PALO ALTO, Calif. — It has been a tough week for President Obama’s politics of inclusion and “we’re all in it together” globalization.

First came the Supreme Court’s deadlock that blocked his plan to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Then, just hours later, Britain voted to withdraw from the European Union, a move that Obama had worked hard to stop.

The two events provided the backdrop as Obama appeared Friday at a White House-sponsored global technology and entrepreneur summit here that was intended to tout the merits of an interconnected world.

Instead, Obama began his remarks to an auditorium packed with 1,700 business leaders by acknowledging some of the forces pulling that world apart.

“I do think yesterday’s vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges raised by globalization,” Obama said to an audience representing 170 countries.

“I believe we are better off in a world in which we are trading and networking and communicating and sharing ideas,” he continued. “But that also means that cultures are colliding, and sometimes it is disruptive, and people get worried.”

At least for the moment, worry, disruption and fear seemed to have the upper hand.

Obama has been preaching for months now — both at home and abroad — that the United States and its allies must resist the impulse to “pull up the drawbridge” on the rest of the world. That belief led him to push for big, multilateral trade deals, reforms to the nation’s broken immigration system, and to advocate that the United States provide a haven for refugees fleeing war-torn Iraq and Syria.

Such policies not only reflect America’s values but also are critical to the nation’s success and the success of its allies in a world that is being remade by automation and advances in technology, the president has argued.

These past few weeks provided some strong evidence that the current might be running against his progressive and inclusive vision.

“The post-World War II liberal project is under siege right now. It’s under siege here and in Europe,” said Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN , a liberal think tank. “For those of us who believe in it, the stakes in this fight are very high. We have to recognize this election is going to be about a lot of things in the U.S., but one of things it will be about is . . . whether or not we are entering a different age.”

Even Hillary Clinton, a staunch defender of such internationalism, has felt the need to edge away from some aspects of it on the campaign trail, disavowing a major Pacific trade deal that Obama is pushing and that she helped negotiate when serving as his secretary of state.

Meanwhile, in one forum after another covering a variety of issues, Obama has felt compelled over the past few weeks to take on challenges to that liberal order.

He addressed them in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, when Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, reiterated his calls for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States.

“We are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mind-set and this kind of thinking can be,” Obama railed following a meeting with his national security team. “Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? . . . Do Republican officials actually agree with this?”

He took a similar tone after the Supreme Court’s nondecision on immigration Thursday, the biggest legal defeat of his presidency.

“Immigration is not something to fear,” he told reporters. “We don’t have to wall ourselves off from those who may not look like us right now, or pray like we do, or have a different last name. Because being an American is about something more than that.”

And he returned to the subject on Friday at Stanford University following Britain’s vote, fueled by immigration worries and anti-trade sentiment, to leave the European Union.

Before he took the stage, Obama spoke on the phone with two like-minded allies. He and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked about the need for an “orderly transition out of the E.U.” for Britain and Cameron’s soon-to-come transition out of office. Obama expressed “regret” at Cameron’s decision to step aside following the leave referendum, aides said. The British prime minister had fought hard to make the case for staying in the E.U. and had concluded that he was out of step with the country he was leading.

Obama then called embattled German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his closest ally on the European continent, who has faced heavy criticism at home for her decision to take in large numbers of Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

All three leaders have been buffeted by the same forces: growing income inequality, the aftershocks of the Great Recession, refu­gee flows, terrorism fears and a rising nationalism that has eroded the liberal international order.

The trends have turned the United States into “increasingly a marginal player” on the world stage, said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a global political-risk consulting firm.

This spring Obama traveled to Europe to rally support for an expansive transatlantic free-trade pact and to urge British voters to stay in the E.U

“It had absolutely zero impact on the polls,” Bremmer said. “The United States is not the global leader, but nobody else is either.”

Such a state of affairs “leads to geopolitical destruction,” Bremmer said. “Everyone is upset with the establishment, and out they go.”

Obama, by contrast, views the anger, fear and anti-immigrant sentiments as a temporary blip. For him, Friday’s White House-backed Global Entrepreneurship Summit offered a glimpse of the future he had spent the past seven years working to build.

The president shared the stage with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and three young technology entrepreneurs from Egypt, Rwanda and Peru.

In the audience were 11 budding business leaders from Cuba, the long-isolated communist nation that has been a major foreign policy focus for the president in his second term.

“Hola! Mucho gusto,” Obama called out in Spanish to the Cubans. “They’re ready to help create new opportunities for the Cuban people.”

The young leaders from Cuba, Asia, Africa and the Middle East represented the antithesis of the anti-globalization and nationalist sentiments that had propelled Britain to leave the E.U. “You’re the bridge, you’re the glue who can help lead towards a more peaceful and more prosperous future that provides opportunity for everybody,” Obama told the crowd.

This week, though, even Obama acknowledged that future seemed a little more distant.

Pound plummets: London markets lose $164 billion in 10 minutes

June 25, 2016

RT

London’s FTSE index lost $164 billion in the space of 10 minutes of trading on Friday, when sterling dropped to its lowest mark in 31 years, trading up to 12 percent lower against the dollar.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s threatened to downgrade the UK’s rating, which is currently triple A.

Moody’s agency echoed the warning, saying Brexit “heralds a prolonged period of policy uncertainty that will weigh on the UK’s economic and financial performance.”

The financial collapse in the UK is now worse than any crisis over the past three decades. The country – as well as EU countries – lost billions in the space of one morning.

London’s FTSE fell six percent in early deals, having shed USD$164 billion in 600 dramatic seconds. The city’s banking stocks lost $60 billion, USA Today reported.

Thousands flooded the streets, forming long queues to buy currency ahead of vacation time. Travel giant Thomas Cook even put a £1,000-per-person limit on exchanges.

Germany and France’s CAC 40 dropped by 7.5 and nine percent respectively on Friday. Brexit dealt an even bigger blow to southern European economies, as Italian and Spanish markets fell by over 11 percent.

The pound is now seven percent lower against the dollar, languishing at $1.3782.

The central bank expressed its readiness to provide £250 billion in additional funds to support the markets, according to the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney.

Another threat is looming for the City of London, as it risks losing its so-called ‘EU passport’, which allows UK banks to operate freely with European banks.

The European Central Bank’s Governing Council member, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, told France Inter radio that if the UK leaves the EU, the country wouldn’t be able to keep the passport, and continue relations with the bloc’s banking sector unhindered.

There is a solution that would still require the UK to comply with European rules.

“There is a precedent, it is the Norwegian model of European Economic Area, that would allow Britain to keep access to the single market, but by committing to implement all EU rules,” he said.

“It would be a bit paradoxical to leave the EU and apply all EU rules, but that is one solution if Britain wants to keep access to the single market,” de Galhau added.

However, not everyone is prophesying doom and gloom. Jeremy Leach, chief executive officer at asset managers Managing Partners Group, told the Telegraph that eventually, sterling “will strengthen against the euro because the UK’s economy is in much better shape than many of its European peers.”

 

British EU exit turmoil alarms Asia, deepens party conflicts

June 26, 2016

by Elizabeth Piper and Ben Blanchard

Reuters

LONDON/BEIJING-Turmoil unleashed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union heightened anxiety in Asia on Sunday, with China, Japan and South Korea fretting over the risk to global financial stability a few hours before markets reopen.

In Britain, open conflict spread from the ruling Conservatives to the opposition, and senior Labour lawmakers attempted a coup against their leader after traditional supporters rejected the party’s pro-EU stand in droves at Thursday’s referendum.

Splits widened across the nation. Over three million Britons signed a petition calling for a re-run of the referendum, with the number climbing by the hour, and an opinion poll showed a strong majority of Scots now want to break with the United Kingdom.

Scotland’s leader even raised the possibility of blocking legislation that the British parliament must eventually pass to seal the country’s exit from the world’s biggest single market.

The 52-48 percent vote marked the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

Prime Minister David Cameron resigned on Friday after voters ignored his passionate appeals to stay in the EU, but left formally notifying Brussels of Britain’s exit to his successor, who is unlikely to be in office for about three months. That signals a long period of limbo.

Sterling fell as much as 10 percent against the dollar on Friday to levels last seen in 1985, while world stocks saw more than $2 trillion wiped off their value. The weekend gave some respite from the turmoil, but apprehension grew as Monday’s reopening approached.

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the vote “will cast a shadow over the global economy”.

“It’s difficult to predict now,” he said at the first annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing. “The knee-jerk reaction from the market is probably a bit excessive and needs to calm down and take an objective view.”

Central banks promised through their global forum to do as much as they could to limit volatility on the markets.

“With good cooperation at the global level, I am confident that uncertainty can be contained and that adjustments will proceed as smoothly as possible,” Jaime Caruana, head of the Bank for International Settlements said.

Nevertheless, Japan fretted over the effect on the global currency market and contemplated official action.

“Speculative, violent moves have extremely negative effects,” said Tomomi Inada, policy chief of the ruling LDP party, according to Nikkei daily. “If necessary, the government should not hesitate to respond, including currency intervention.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to engineer a weaker yen to encourage exports to help revive the Japanese economy. But after initial success, investors have sought safety in the yen this year due to stock market turmoil and now the Brexit vote, pushing the currency back up.

NO RESPITE

South Korea’s finance minister also said he feared markets will remain volatile throughout negotiations on the British exit, while Hong Kong’s finance chief promised his government was keeping a close eye on developments after what he described as “a big surprise” from the referendum result.

Beyond Asia, the United States – which during campaigning made clear it wanted Britain to stay in the EU – also showed signs of unease. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini in Brussels and British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond in London on Monday.

The visit is largely meant to offer symbolic reassurance at a critical juncture for Europe, but a senior U.S. official said Kerry would also stress the importance of other members not following Britain’s lead and further weakening the EU.

Despite the international expressions of concern, respite from the uncertainty is unlikely for months, at the very least.

Cameron has offered to remain as a caretaker, but refused to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which allows for two years of exit negotiations. Instead he left that job to his successor, who is due to be elected by his Conservative Party sometime before its annual conference in October.

Only after the new leader has invoked Article 50 can work on thrashing out Britain’s new relationship with the bloc begin. The man widely tipped as the next prime minister is former London mayor Boris Johnson, the most prominent member of the campaign to leave the EU.

Cameron’s Conservatives have been at war with each other for years over whether to quit the EU. But the vote to leave a bloc that Britain joined 43 years ago also pushed Labour into chaos.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sacked a top colleague on Sunday, setting off a wave of resignations from his “shadow” cabinet. Dismissed foreign affairs spokesman Hilary Benn called for Corbyn, who was elected last year largely by left-wing party members and supporters, to go. “He is a good and decent man but he is not a leader,” Benn told BBC television.

Many of Corbyn’s fellow Labour lawmakers believe his left-wing policies and low-key style mean the party is heading for a disastrous defeat at the next election, due in 2020.

But they also accuse him of half-hearted campaigning for a “remain” vote in the referendum, and of failing to win over traditional Labour voters who were more receptive to the anti-EU UK Independence Party.

NO LYING DOWN

Signs are growing that not all the 16 million Britons who voted to stay in the EU are willing to take the result lying down. Backing for the online petition demanding a second vote more than doubled in 24 hours, with signatures exceeding 3.2 million on Sunday afternoon.

The petition, posted on parliament’s website before the referendum, said there should be another vote if the outcome was close on a turnout of less than 75 percent – three points above Thursday’s figure.

It will have to be considered for debate by lawmakers, but has no legal force and its backers compare with the 17.4 million who voted “leave”.

The referendum has also re-energized support for Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, to break away from the United Kingdom instead.

An opinion poll in The Sunday Post said 59 percent of respondents backed independence, rocketing from 45 percent of votes cast in a referendum in 2014.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a fresh independence referendum is possible, and suggested on Sunday that the devolved parliament in Edinburgh would consider blocking legislation making a Brexit legally binding.

Under the United Kingdom’s complex arrangements to devolve some powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, legislation generated in London to give effect to the vote to leave the EU would have to gain consent from the three devolved parliaments.

Asked on BBC television whether she would consider asking the Scottish parliament to block a motion of legislative consent, Sturgeon said: “Of course.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I care about the rest of the UK,” she said. “But my job as First Minister, the Scottish parliament’s job, is to judge these things on the basis of what’s in the interest of people in Scotland.”

(Additional reporting by Christine Kim, Donny Kwok, Estelle Shirbon, William Schomberg, Minami Funakoshi, Francois Murphy and Warren Strobel; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Anna Willard)

 

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TBR News June 25, 2016

Jun 24 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 25, 2016: “The concept of the EU was an American one, and it was set up to make mutual business, and world-wide spying easier. If the US had not attacked Putin and sanctioned him, it is doubtful that the Brexit would ever have happened. It is a pity that the United States cannot find a leader who is as supportive of is country and as competent is Vladimir Putin is for his own people. American government is a government by committee, lazy and incompetent. After all, a camel is a horse designed by a Congressional committee. Various business groups call the shots in DC and the losers are the tax-paying and long-suffering shrinking middle class. Washington would do well to contemplate Brexit and its coming consequences instead of screaming how evil Mr. Trump is and how honest and saintly Hillary is.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 24, 2016

Jun 23 2016

 

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 24, 2016: “I put up a web posting every day.

To achieve this, I scan legitimate news sites (no blogs) for several hours a day and select news stories I think are both important and interesting.

Doing this daily, coupled with bits and pieces of information gleaned from other sources, one can get a very clear overview of reality (as opposed to manifestations of ignorance coupled with official disinformation one sees daily)

Reality is never attractive so most people ignore it, preferring instead exciting, inaccurate but comforting, pap.

And if, and when, you mention the dread word, “reality,” you are not popular.

When readers complain about incidents of violence that seem to be growing, I suggest they read Calhoun’s study of rat populations.

If one reads Calhoun and Malthus, the violence and threats of more violence we see daily are totally understandable.

Of all the people I have given this suggestion to, only one has read both of these studies.

The rest?

Why they text message frantically and Visit New Friends on Facebook, Twitter, Grope and Glimmer.

The so-called ‘Social Media’ is a gathering place for the dim of wit to display their total lack of intelligence and on a daily basis.

Denial seems to be the hallmark of the twitties.

‘Oh, it will get better!’ they squeal but in reality, it won’t.

In older days, the frustrated screamed that Jesus was coming back to save them from the fertilizer factory of reality but Jesus never came because Jesus never existed.

But if Jesus did exist, he was an Essene and if he were a member of this Jewish sect, Jesus was gay. Historians know this but the masses do not.

More fictional concepts:

‘The US-Led Coalition…!’

‘Housing Market Surges up…!’

‘Hillary is a Goddess come to save us all….!’

‘FBI Arrests 6 year old Muslim terrorist…!’

‘Save Darfur…!’

‘Save the Bulgarian Three-Eyed Goats….!’

‘Trump microwaves kittens…!.’

‘Israel is perfection…!’

To all of this grot I have a thoughtful suggestion:

If you will bend over, I’ll drive you home.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 23, 2016

Jun 23 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 23, 2016:

The Second Coming

by W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

“Mr. Yeats is prophetic .

Overcrowding, depletion of natural resources, changing weather patterns, rising sea levels all are contributing to a growing mood of frustration and violence.

It will not get better and will certainly get worse.

And to this we can add, in this country at least, massive unemployment.

This now stands at 25%, far worse than at the height of the Depression (14%) This is not talked about in the media but then, the media lies like a rug.

The media ignores the fact that the sea levels on the East Coast are rising far faster than was thought five years ago.

The press ignores this because they are told to.

Millions will be displaced and the government does not have the money to assist them so the subject is ignored and someone else, in the future, can cope with it” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 22, 2016

Jun 22 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 22, 2016: “ The sky is falling! I have seen this disaster coming for quite a while and though it is not being planned, it is inevitable. Massive unemployment in this country because the major manufacturing companies have all moved overseas to save on money; a diminution of American military power, and the threat of it, across the planet.

And added to this are the tremendous number of Americans who drive gas-guzzling cars and the fact that the United States only produces enough oil to give to the enormous military.

American political and military goals over the past decades has been to secure oil so that the population will remain happy.

Unfortunately for this scenario, Russia now has direct or de facto control of the oil and gas and so the CIA has been trying to get their hands on it.

As usual, they have been clumsy, ill-advised and a failure.

Putin has always been one or two steps ahead of the United States and the more we scream at him and the more we harass him, the stronger he becomes.

Soon enough, the world economy will slow down, hesitate and then start downwards.

Like all fiscal bubbles do.

Always.

We will see, are seeing, redoubling bankruptcies, pensions vanishing, no more social security, increased unemployment, increased police reactions to protests, increasing protests, more repression, and soon, learn what James Watt did.

If you block the spout of a boiling tea kettle, the lid blows off.”   Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 21, 2016

Jun 21 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 21, 2016: “The main reason the FBI does not wish to release the Mateen taped conversations is that he expresses a good deal of what the FBI, and others above them, consider rank Muslim extremist propaganda. If all of what he said were made public, there would unquestionably be a strong anti-Muslim reaction in the United States and considering the large American Muslim population, the government has decided to put a lid on this. Perhaps the FBI is unaware that the Mateen conversations were intercepted and taped at the time and eventually, all of this will leak out, via the Internet, into the public. In actuality, there are very few secrets any more but perhaps the government is unaware of the degree and extent their secret memos, conferences and situation papers have been culled. The release of some of these prior to the coming election would have a devastating effect on the voting public.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 20, 2016

Jun 20 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 20, 2016: “Always the select headlines in the media, expressing what they are certain are determinant factors that will swing elections, collapse potential governments and gain the United States more oil. BTW, the fact that the US is running out of oil and will soon have to beg some from Russia is forcing the development of automatic cars. We see “Trump’s Figures Crashing,” or “Brexit In Votes Surge to 130%!” (Our bankers are not happy about the coming collapse of the EU and the press accurately reflects their opinions on a daily basis.)”Gun Control!” Probably not. There will be a ban on water pistols and plastic AK 47s and Congress than go back to counting its bribe money. And America children cannot read (but they do text message!) and when they get to what passes for a college, can expect to be loaded up with fake ‘student loans’ that will enrich both the for-profit school and the bill collectors. And hovering in the background, the fanatic Evangelicals, praying for the day they can snap the whip over everyone else and stand in their yards, wearing ratty old bedsheets and screaming “Jesus, Jesus!” at the top of their lungs. And now Texas wants to secede from the United States. They ought to be encouraged and then they can open up detention and cleansing centers for all those they hate.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 19, 2016

Jun 19 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 19, 2016:”  Some years ago, when I was living in California, I attended a social gathering in Oakland and met Jessica Mitford, the author of a number of interesting books and the wife of Robert Treuhaft, a left-wing labor lawyer from that area. While I was talking with Mrs. Treuhaft about her excellent exposé of the American funeral business, I heard a loud, shrill and very unpleasant voice coming from a woman about ten feet away. She was short, blonde and had very heavy legs. The gist of her rant was that her opinion on some racial issue (Treuhaft represented the Black Panthers) was the only one to consider and that anyone who disagreed with her was either a rabid fascist or a moron. I asked Mrs. Treuhaft who the obnoxious woman was and she sighed and said that it was Hillary, a recent Yale law school graduate, who was working with the Panther people. She said Hillary was ‘very intelligent but also very obnoxious.’ She said that no one liked her because she was so egotistical and so loud but that she was a hard worker. This was damnation with faint praise and the conversation moved into other areas. I recall that most sharply because the next time I saw the woman, her husband had just been elected President of the United States.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 18, 2016

Jun 18 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 18, 2016: “”What on the surface appears to be a complex subject, on closer examination turns out to be extraordinarily simple. I am referring specifically here to the turmoil in the Middle East.

The basis for all the murderous manipulations is America’s frenzied need for oil. Once a producer of this substance, vital for the production of gasoline so necessary to the driving American public, the United States has fallen woefully behind in supplying their public with cheap gas for their vital vehicles.

With this in mind, consider the machinations of the stupid, evil and manipulated George W. Bush.

Because Iraq had large untapped oil fields and had infuriated Israel by firing rockets at her cities, Bush, using the usual CIA-created prevarications, invaded Iraq, hopeful of gaining her oil and pulling Israel’s chestnuts out of the fire for her.

Like all committee-created operations, the Iraqi one fell flat on its face.

Next, we had a new king in Saudi Arabia, a major US oil producer.

He had the concept of a great Sunni Muslim empire, under his control of course. Parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran are Shi’ite and this branch of Islam is considered a deadly enemy by the dominant Sunnis.

After many secret conferences, the Saudis convinced the Americans that they would grab, by force, the Shi’ite lands and then there would be religious power and, of course, more oil for America.

The Saudis formed ISIS to do their dirty work and the CIA lent its murderous technicians as trainers in terrorism to the newly-formed ISIS people.

After all, it was the CIA that organized, trained and equipped AlQuaeda to fight America’s proxy war against Russia in Afghanistan.

In this case, as in so many irrational and destructive CIA projects, ISIS took the bit in its teeth and began a vicious and psychotic campaign of terror in the Middle East that frightened everyone not in Langley.

Assad, in Shi’ite Syria, was anathema to Israel so the US started rebellions in his country to overthrow him.

Israel hated Assad because, allied with Russia, he had allowed many deadly missiles to be transshipped from Russia to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. CIA-fostered rebellion broke out in Syria and was well on its way to what both the Saudis, Israel and the CIA to success.

Syrian oilfields were invaded and controlled by CIA-trained ISIS units and the oil was transshipped, via a willing Turkey (whose Mussolini-type president and his family enjoyed the profits and some of the stolen oil) through Israel to the US.

Then Putin, far more clever than the US would like to admit, angry at spiteful sanctions dumped on his country, got into the equation and Russian airpower did terrible damage to ISIS, killing a number of CIA ‘assistants’ in the process and totally interdicting the flow of oil to Turkey.

Enraged, the CIA had its people in Ankara assure the frustrated Turks that if they shot down a Russian plane, the Russians might attack them in retaliation and then NATO would rush to Turkey’s rescue and help her murder off annoying Kurds.

It would be a reprise of the 1916 Turkish genocide against the Christian Armenians only this time, the Turks could let others do its ethnic cleansing for them.

And the CIA would have revenge on Putin for daring to interfere with their plans. The plane was duly shot down but Putin did not move troops against Turkey but put on economic sanctions of his own and caused terrible economic problems for Ankara, problems the CIA could do nothing about.

And the smell of failure is in the air.

The CIA-led Kiev revolt failed.

The Turkish provocations failed.

The US-Saudi ISIS movement is failing.

What sort of murderous creativity will Langley create next?

A US invasion of Canada?

Mexico, now in a state of total anarchy, would be safe because she has run out of oil.

Perhaps Venezuela will be another star on the wall at Langley.

Or perhaps some place in the Arctic could become a mischief-maker’s target.” Continue Reading »

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TBR News June 17, 2016

Jun 17 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 17, 2016: “We are controlled by giant lizards? This bit of psychotic nonsense is almost as funny as Ingo Swann’s ‘Out of Body’ garbage he sold the CIA on to the tune of millions of taxpayer’s dollars.

Swann is a Scientologist and they are all nutty as fruitcakes.

What will be next?

  • Giant invisible pigeons pecking at semis on national highways?
  • Robot geese on the lookout for fat women nude sunbathing on rooftops?
  • Non-existing diseases created by unwholesome drug companies?
  • Sumner Redstone actually a big hand-puppet controlled by the Skull and Bones Society?
  • The Illuminati taking control of Starbucks?
  • The Bank of America run by giant green frogs?

That decent MP in England was probably killed by a Giant Lizard because she advocated killing flies.

The Giant Lizards like to eat babies and with the overpopulation problems the way they are, perhaps the Giant Lizards have the right idea.”

Conspiracy Percent believing   Number of Americans believing
JFK was killed by conspiracy 51 percent 160,096,160
Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs 44 percent 138,122,178
Global warming is a hoax 37 percent 116,148,195
Aliens exist 29 percent 91,035,072
New World Order 28 percent 87,895,931
A UFO crashed at Roswell 21 percent 65,921,948
Vaccines are linked to autism 20 percent 62,782,808
Medical industry invents diseases 15 percent 47,087,106
Bigfoot exists 14 percent 43,947,966
Obama is the Antichrist 13 percent 40,808,825
The government allowed 9/11 11 percent 34,530,544
Fluoride is dangerous 9 percent 28,252,264
The moon landing was faked 7 percent 21,973,983
Bin Laden is alive 6 percent 18,834,842
Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals 5 percent 15,695,702
Lizard people control politics 4 percent 12,556,562

 

 

Is Mark Zuckerberg actually a lizard?

That’s the question the Facebook boss was asked last week – and given that George W Bush and Simon Cowell are reptilian aliens (allegedly), why shouldn’t he be?

June 16, 2016

by David Sutton

The Guardian

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a livestreamed Q&A earlier this week, he was probably expecting questions about emergent tech and online entrepreneurism rather than someone asking whether he was, in fact, a shape-shifting alien reptile.

“Mark, are the allegations true that you’re secretly a lizard?” Zuckerberg read aloud, before replying in the negative and declaring the question “very silly”. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Zuckerberg is hardly the first prominent public figure to be fingered as a reptilian alien: everyone from George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to Simon Cowell and Kris Kristofferson (!) have faced similar accusations in recent years. As unlikely as it seems, the whole “reptoid” thing has become something of a meme in the internet age. But where did it come from?

That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Aliens that combine human and animal forms have been a staple of pulp SF and comic books going back to at least the 1920s; as a staple of mythology, such hybrid figures can be traced back across millennia. And, yes, lizard-men have been spotted across the US from time to time, in places like Scape Ore Swamp, South Carolina, and Loveland, Ohio. What’s notable is their relatively late entry into UFO lore. There are a few isolated cases – the 1967 Seewalt close encounter in Canada, the 1978 Zanfretta abduction in Italy – featuring “lizard man”-type extra-terrestrials, but they are few and far between. Close encounter reports tend to focus initially on friendly Nordic “space brothers” and later on malevolent Greys: reptilians, along with weird robotic entities, shaggy giants and giant insectoids, remain outliers for much of the phenomenon’s history.

By the 1980s and 1990s, as the alien mythos darkened, there was some chatter about lizard-like ETs – some rescued from the Roswell saucer crash of 1947 – being kept at an underground military base at Dulce, New Mexico, and suggestions that these serpentine beings, not the spooky X-Files-style aliens, were the ones calling the shots. But the game-changer for scaly-skinned space beings appears to have emerged out of the pre-millennial tensions of the late-90s, when goalie turned sports commentator turned messiah David Icke published his book The Biggest Secret (1999).

Icke’s unlikely emergence as a key pundit of what might be called the Dark New Age rests on his bricolage-like methodology of pinching and recombining elements of all sorts of marginal discourses – occultism, UFOlogy, conspiracy theory, ancient astronaut lore, alternative history – into a tortuous grand narrative in which a sleepwalking, mind-controlled humanity is revealed to have fallen under the control of all-seeing evil overlords. On Planet Icke, these shadowy puppet-masters, usually known as the Illuminati, emerged as none other than shape-shifting reptoid aliens from another dimension with a taste for human flesh, preferably of the infant variety.

It’s unclear how much of this stuff Icke actually invented – or how much he copped from a viewing of 1980s TV show V – but he seems to have drawn on various (and variously unhinged) sources, including self-confessed Illuminati slaves and “mind control victims” like Cathy O’Brien and Arizona Wilder. It was the latter who famously revealed that Queen Elizabeth II was not, in fact, human: “I have seen her sacrifice people and eat their flesh and drink their blood … When she shape-shifts she has a long reptile face, almost like a beak, and she’s an off-white colour…” And it wasn’t just Her Majesty: the rest of the royals were in on the act too, including the late Queen Mother, aka “Chief Toad”. It was inevitable, as time went by, that all sorts of other establishment figures, from politicians to pop stars, would be revealed as part of the grand conspiracy whose tentacles were found to reach into every aspect of human experience – even (perhaps especially?) Facebook.

The UFO phenomenon was once a strangely comforting one: close encounters revealed there was someone out there wiser than us, with a message of hope for cold-war humanity and some friendly advice about nuclear weapons. If, as Jung suggested, the UFO experience is largely one in which human hopes and fears are projected outward and read in the skies, then we should all be worried by its millennial transformation. The tangled web of intersecting conspiracies embodied in the reptilian meme suggests that, these days, we see ourselves as powerless victims of exploitation and predation by a self-perpetuating elite whose main concern is protecting its alien bloodline and keeping the rest of us in line ready for the ultimate sacrifice.

Perhaps the only surprise is that the ‘leave campaign’ hasn’t spotted the perfect metaphor for the EU here.

Comment from Wikipedia:

David Icke

According to British conspiracy theorist David Icke, tall, blood-drinking, shape-shifting reptilian humanoids from the Alpha Draconis star system, now hiding in underground bases, are the force behind a worldwide conspiracy against humanity.He contends that most of the world’s leaders are related to these reptilians, including George W. Bush, former President of the United States, and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.Icke’s conspiracy theories now have supporters in up to 47 countries and he has given lectures to crowds of up to 6,000. American writer Vicki Santillano included it in her list of the 10 most popular conspiracy theories, describing it as the “wackiest theory” she had encountered.

A poll of Americans in 2013 by Public Policy Polling indicated that 4% of registered voters (+/- 2.8%) believed in David Icke’s ideas

 

Something is Going On’ – And It’s Worse Than You Thought

Trump is right about Orlando – but not in the way you think

June 17, 2016

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

I used to wonder why in the heck right-wing commentators on Fox News kept repeating the same mantra over and over again: sitting through the Republican debates, my eyes glazed over when I heard each and every candidate denounce the Obama administration for refusing to say the Sacred Words: “radical Islamic terrorism.” What are these people talking about, I thought to myself: they’re obsessed!

In short, I wrote it off as Fox News boilerplate, until the other day when, in the wake of the Orlando massacre, Donald Trump said the following on Fox: “Something is going on. He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other.” Reiterating this trope later on in the same show, he averred that the President “is not tough, not smart – or he’s got something else in mind.”

The Beltway crowd went ballistic. Lindsey Graham had a hissy fit, and other Republican lawmakers started edging away from the presumptive GOP nominee. The Washington Post ran a story with the headline: “Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando Shooting.” Realizing that this level of bias was a bit too brazen, the editors changed it an hour or so later to: “Donald Trump Seems to Connect President Obama to Orlando Shooting.” Not much better, but then again we’re talking about a newspaper that has a team of thirty or so reporters bent on digging up dirt on Trump.

In any case, Trump responded as he usually does: by doubling down. And he did it, as he usually does, on Twitter, tweeting the following:

“Media fell all over themselves criticizing what Donald Trump ‘may have insinuated about @POTUS.’ But he’s right:”

The tweet included a link to this story that appeared on Breitbart: an account of a 2012 intelligence report from the Defense Intelligence Agency predicting the rise of the Islamic State in Syria – and showing how US policy deliberately ignored and even succored it. Secured by Judicial Watch thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the document says it’s very likely we’ll see the creation of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” And this won’t just be a grassroots effort, but the result of a centrally coordinated plan: it will happen because “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” then engaged in a campaign to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor) adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar).”

This is precisely what happened, and, as we see, the Iraqi Army is now in the field – with US support – trying to retake Mosul and Anbar, with limited success. Yet it’s not like we didn’t know this was coming – and didn’t have a hand in creating the problem we are now spending billions of dollars and even some American lives trying to “solve.” Things are turning out exactly as the DIA report said they would:

“[T]here is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

And who, exactly, are these “supporting powers”? The anonymous author of the report points to “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.” Last I heard, the US is part of the West – although the way things are going, that may not be true for very much longer. And of course the US has had a policy of supporting the “moderate” Syrian Islamist “opposition,” which ended in massive defections from the so-called Free Syrian Army to openly jihadist outfits like al-Nusra and ISIS.

There was a split in the administration over this policy, with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then CIA director David Petraeus arguing for a full-scale effort to overthrow beleaguered Ba’athist strongman Bashar al-Assad with massive aid to a loosely-defined “opposition.” Petraeus even openly argued for arming al-Nusra – the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda – and there were indications that, before Hillary left Foggy Bottom, an arms pipeline was opened up between the Libyan jihadists we aided in overthrowing Ghaddafi and their Syrian brothers.

Obama was reluctant to get more involved, but Hillary and Petraeus were gung-ho, along with the usual “humanitarian” interventionists in the administration and the media, who were accusing the President of standing by while “genocide” was being carried out by Assad. In reality, the jihadists were chopping off heads and wreaking just as much devastation as the Syrian army, but these facts didn’t make it into the media narrative.

In any case, the administration split was finally resolved when the President announced he was going to intervene in Syria with air strikes. This provoked a huge backlash from flyover country, with congressional switchboards tied up and protests coming in fast and furious. Clearly, the American people didn’t want another war in the Middle East, and, one by one, members of Congress who had planned on voting yes began to back down. The President backtracked – happily, I imagine. Hillary, who had alreadyleft the administration, was handed her final rebuke. Yet the seeds planted by her Syria policy would soon sprout into flowers of evil.

War was avoided, at least for the moment – but the prediction of that anonymous DIA agent was coming true. As thousands of US-trained –and-equipped rebels joined ISIS, along with the arms and other goodies provided courtesy of the US taxpayers, their leader declared the “Caliphate” and expanded its operations into North Africa, Europe – and the US.

The long reach of the Islamic State has been felt in this country twice in recent months: first in San Bernardino, and now in Orlando. Both terrorists traveled to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly for religious purposes, where they may have received training – and instructions.

When Omar Mateen opened fire in that Orlando nightclub, killing fifty people and wounding nearly one-hundred, the monster we created came back to haunt us. It didn’t matter that he may not have had direct links to ISIS: inspired by them, he carried out his grisly mission as he swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph” of the Islamic State.

The Washington Post, in its mission to debunk every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth, ran an article by Glenn  Kessler minimizing the DIA document, claiming that it was really nothing important and that we should all just move along because there’s nothing to see there. He cited all the usual Washington insiders to back up his thesis, but there was one glaring omission: Gen. Michael Flynn, who headed up the DIA when the document was produced and who was forced out by the interventionists in the administration. Here is what Flynn told Al-Jazeera in an extensive interview:

Al-Jazeera: “You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

Flynn: I think the administration.

Al-Jazeera: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

Al-Jazeera: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.”

Of course, Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post don’t want to talk about that. Neither do the Republicans in Congress, who supported aid to the Syrian rebels and wanted to give them much more than they got. They’re all complicit in this monstrous policy – and they all bear moral responsibility for its murderous consequences.

Gen. Flynn, by the way, is an official advisor to Trump, and is often mentioned as a possible pick for Vice President.

The idea that we could use Islamists to fight jihadists was always crazy, and yet that is what the foreign policy Establishment and the congressional warhawks in both parties have been pushing. The “Sunni turn,” initiated by the Bush administration, supported (and funded) by the Saudis, the Turks, and the Gulf states, and escalated by the Obama administration, has empowered our worst enemies and endangered the American people. And here is the ultimate irony: it was done in the name of “fighting terrorism.” This gives new meaning to the concept of “blowback,” CIA parlance for an action (often covert) that has the unintended consequence of blowing back in our faces.

It certainly blew back in the faces of those partygoers in Orlando – in a hail of bullets.

That Trump gets this is little short of amazing, and yet truth often comes to us in unexpected ways. He may be an imperfect vessel – and that is surely an understatement – but he is absolutely correct in this instance: this administration and this President either “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other.”

The media and the Never Trumpers leaped on this statement and translated it into the old Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim trope, but that’s not what he was talking about. He was talking about the largely unknown history of our intervention in Syria, where Hillary Clinton was the jihadists’ best friend and benefactor. It was she who led the charge to “liberate” Syria, to arm the “moderate” head-choppers and do to that war-torn wreck of a country what she had done to Libya. Obama knows it: and so does the media. But their lips are sealed.

Fortunately, mine aren’t.

So we finally unlock the Great Mystery: why oh why does is this administration and the Clinton campaign so reluctant to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism”? Is it because of political correctness and a fear of inciting “Islamophobia”? Don’t flatter them: they’re not above that, when it serves their purposes. But it doesn’t serve their purposes this time.

What they’re afraid of is alienating their allies in the Middle East – not just the jihadists they’ve funded and succored in an effort to overthrow Assad, but primarily the Saudis, the Turks, and the Gulf sheikhs who are all in on the game and are playing it for all it’s worth. And of course there’s the Clinton Foundation, which has received millions in “donations” from the Saudi royals and their satellites.

The US policy goal in the region is to block the Iranians and their Shi’ite allies, including Syria’s Assad, from expanding their influence in the wake of the failed Iraq war. That war installed a Shi’ite regime in Baghdad, and in order to protect our vaunted ally Israel – which is set on regime change in Syria – we are backing and have been backing Sunni radicals, precisely those “radical Islamic terrorists” whose name will never pass Hillary Clinton’s lips.

Russia strikes U.S.-backed rebels in Syria: U.S. official

June 17, 2016

by Phil Stewart

Reuters

Russian warplanes struck at rebels battling Islamic State militants, including forces backed by the United States, in southern Syria on Thursday, a senior U.S. defense official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticized the Russian air strikes near al-Tanf and said no Russia or Syrian ground forces were in the area at the time.

“Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions,” the official said.

“We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.‎”

British-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes had struck a meeting of U.S.-backed forces fighting against Islamic State in al-Tanf village, near the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq, killing two fighters and wounding four others.

It said it was unclear whose planes had carried out the attack, however.

Washington has consistently refused to join forces with Russia in Syria against Islamic State ever since Moscow launched its campaign of air strikes in September last year, accusing it of acting solely to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States has called on Assad to step down.

Communication between the U.S. and Russian militaries on Syria has been limited to contacts aimed at avoiding an accidental clash as they carry out rival bombing campaigns and small numbers of U.S. forces operate on the ground.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.

This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

 

Tuesday, 28 November 1950

Bradley called Truman early this morning and relayed messages from MacArthur, and Blair House called me at the club an hour and ten minutes later.

I spent most of the evening closeted with Viktor and later, on the phone, talked to Philby, who when he is not working for others, does work for the British. The British are terrified of the onset of an atomic war. They do not have any bombs, as much as they would like them, and are in easy range of Russian bombers. Also, the government there is very left wing and pro-Soviet so they do not want to see their friends turned into glowing coals.

I have kept to myself what Truman said to me: He has no intention of using the bomb while he is President unless the continental United States is attacked.

I represent to Viktor and through him, to his people, that Truman is determined not to fight with this weapon if Stalin keeps out of it. Of course, he will, but they are not sure of that here.

MacArthur will be blamed for his “recklessness” in moving on the Chinese border and also for approaching Soviet territory. I know, from my sources, that he was specifically ordered to chase the Chinese back into China and bomb them in that country if he needed to! Of course all of this will be denied here.

Stalin, I know, was badly alarmed over the contretemps in Persia when he felt that he might be bombed and he backed off then and will back off now.

I have found a way to help Viktor, whom I genuinely like, to get his wife and family to a place of safety. His wife has a relative in the Soviet diplomatic service who is now in Finland.

That is considered to be a safe area and we will try to permit her to make a family visit to see him. One has to be very careful of this because Stalin is paranoid these days, far worse than ever, but the reports that Viktor will send back via Canada will impress him. I will help Viktor write these because I know more about Stalin than he does.

Again, a great irony here and I greatly enjoy it!

She could also go to the Crimea for a vacation, taking the children, and escape by boat across the Black Sea to Turkey. I like the former but there has to be a reserve position whenever possible. The latter idea has another good feature, however. Suppose they went out for a little ride in a boat and it turned over? Of course everyone on board would drown and she might not be missed at all. If that were the case, Viktor could stay in place and we could all profit from this.

Very hectic times here, just like the old days! Not good for the system, my doctor tells me, but a bit of stress keeps things circulating much better.

Viktor finally beat me at a chess game but I won the next two.

Tomorrow, Truman will let out the information about the bomb at a press conference. The NSC met earlier today but since there is no way their deliberations could leak to Moscow before a week or so, the press conference is considered to be the best and most immediate way to get the information out.

There is nothing more I can do here for the time being so I am going back down to Virginia and wait for developments. It is too late now to drive down but I will go back the first thing in the morning. Then, the traffic is all going in the opposite direction.

I tried to explain this to McCarthy but he refuses to listen and finally said that he really did not care as long as he got the attention he wanted. It is not that I am pro-communist but if he keeps on the course he is now running, he will discredit legitimate attempts to weed out these wretches

 Thursday, 30 November 1950

The military news from Korea is still disastrous and it is certain that the United States is suffering a major military defeat…at least for the time being. The stocks have been bought and they cannot go anywhere but up.

I was very tired after all the running around, conferences and so on, and I went to bed when I got back and slept until noon.

During a nice lunch (I am now watching my food. I had a glass of orange juice, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of toast and two eggs scrambled.). I got a call to tell me that Truman had finished his press conference and “accidentally” let out the bomb information. I will go back into town on Saturday to talk to Viktor (I do not trust the telephones at all) and see what is going on there.

Bunny suggests I bring him down here because she misses me when I am away from home and we will see.

Earl Browder, head of the communists here, has been indicted for refusing to talk to Congress. Not that it will do any good but it looks impressive in the press.

I understand the President’s conference was packed with reporters so the message certainly will be proclaimed throughout the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof!

Friday, 1 December 1950

We had Viktor down for the day and I understand that things have gone very well for all of us. We both enjoyed the sun and could relax in the library discussing fine art. We have decided on the Crimea gambit and he will put it into play. I will use the CIA connections to have a boat ready to pick up the family and tend to the other people on the Soviet boat. No bullet holes should be visible. From Turkey, we can fly them to Rome and then on to Canada.

The three of us had an excellent supper and went out and inspected the horses. The old church is being rehabilitated and I spent some of the day examining the work. It looks satisfactory and once everything is back in shape, I will have it properly consecrated and we can go on from there. I told Viktor that if he converted, we would let him come and stay with us once in a while. Of course this place is so huge that he and his entire family could live in the main house and we would never meet except for breakfast.

Thursday, 7 December 1950

Spent most of the day in the office working up an appraisal of the Soviet attitudes towards the war in Korea. I am not a foreign affairs specialist but have gained that reputation recently. The superiors here (I am only a contract worker) do not know what to make of me, but because my skills are in high favor now, are very polite, only suggesting to me what their line is and hoping that I will not go counter to it.

At the present time, we are more or less in the same arena. They want to show Korea as the beginning of serious Soviet military threats to this country (hence bigger budgets for them) that I view as nonsense but it is in my own interest to press this matter.

The Army wants 50,000 more men drafted within the next month and they already have over 300,000 brought in since the war broke out. This removes consumers from the market but not serious consumers. Most of them are just youth and looking at the damage reports, very many of them will die there. The Army is grossly incompetent at this point in time. Only the Marine units do well, are well supplied and know how to fight. They remind me of our Waffen-SS in this way.

On the other hand, the Army is ill supplied with everything from guns to winter clothing. Ammunition and rations simply do not get to their front lines, which are always undermanned. The Marines, on the other hand, are well stocked from Navy ships, have larger units and their fighting spirit is unimpaired. The Army should learn from their rivals.

I note that the services are actually lowering their entrance requirements so as to be able to attract more volunteers. My, then they can go to the jails or the asylums and recruit there as well.

This is the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and when I was at the Pentagon this morning, it was a subject under discussion. I have never met a high-ranking officer of the Navy and very few from the Army who do not agree (but in strict privacy) that Roosevelt tricked the Japanese into attacking this country and knew about the attack days before it happened. Of course Marshall was involved in this foreknowledge and it is strictly forbidden to ever discuss it openly.

This will emerge eventually but not for decades.

Governments never make mistakes, the Democrats are still in power and terrible indeed are the requirements of party loyalty.

Hiss is still screaming his innocence but there is absolutely no question that he, and his brother who is still untouched, is absolutely guilty of being a spy. People like Service and Lattimore are not spies but suffer because they were able to see through the terrible corruption of Chiang and warned against trusting him. As the alternatives were the communists, the extreme right has drawn what to them is the logical conclusion that the pair (and others as well) are active communist spies!

https://www.amazon.com/DC-Diaries-Translated-Heinrich-Chronicals-ebook/dp/B00SQDU3GE?ie=UTF8&keywords=The%20DC%20Diaries&qid=1462467839&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

SECRECY NEWS

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 51

June 16, 2016

RED TEAMS NEEDED TO CRITIQUE MILITARY OPERATIONS

U.S. military commanders would do well to make use of “red teams” composed of independent experts to evaluate and critique U.S. military operations as they are being planned, according to a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Red teams can “help commanders and staffs think critically and creatively; challenge assumptions; mitigate groupthink; reduce risks by serving as a check against complacency and surprise; and increase opportunities by helping the staff see situations, problems, and potential solutions from alternative perspectives.” See Command Red Team, Joint Doctrine Note 1-16, 16 May 2016.

This may seem like a common sense approach, and it’s not hard to think of current or past military operations that would have benefited from “alternative perspectives.” But deliberately soliciting a critical evaluation of one’s own efforts is not very common at all, inside or outside of military organizations.

A prerequisite to a successful red team effort is the independence of the red team from the primary planners and from the intelligence staff, said the non-binding Joint Doctrine Note.

“Red teams should be organizationally, physically, and intellectually separate from the intelligence function in order to ensure that products are not shaped by the same institutional factors that influence the output of the intelligence analysts. Even when the red team and the intelligence staff examine the same problem set, their products should be reviewed and approved through different product approval chains,” the Note said.

The theory and practice of red teams were explored last year in the book Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy by Micah Zenko.

Other noteworthy new military doctrinal publications include:

Implementation of, and Compliance with, the Treaty on Open Skies, Air Force Instruction 16-604, updated 31 May 2016

Implementation of, and Compliance with, the New START Treaty, Air Force Instruction 16-608, updated 31 May 2016

ISLAMIC STATE ACOLYTES, AND MORE FROM CRS

Domestic supporters of the Islamic State “have accounted for 67 homegrown violent jihadist plots between 2014 and early June 2016” involving more than 100 individuals, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service.

“In November 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly had more than 900 investigations of IS suspects in the United States.” See The Islamic State’s Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement, June 13, 2016.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Hate Crime and Homegrown Violent Extremism, CRS Insight, updated June 13, 2016

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy, updated June 14, 2016

When Are Violent Crimes Federal Hate Crimes?, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 14, 2016

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 14, 2016

A Patent/Innovation Box as a Tax Incentive for Domestic Research and Development, June 13, 2016

Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics and Programs, updated June 13, 2016

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, updated June 14, 2016

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status, updated June 13, 2016

Switzerland withdraws longstanding application to join EU

June 16, 2016

RT

The upper house of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to invalidate its 1992 application to join the European Union, backing an earlier decision by the lower house. The vote comes just a week before Britain decides whether to leave the EU in a referendum.

Twenty-seven members of the upper house, the Council of States, voted to cancel Switzerland’s longstanding EU application, versus just 13 senators against. Two abstained.

In the aftermath of the vote, Switzerland will give formal notice to the EU to consider its application withdrawn, the country’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, was quoted as saying by Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

The original motion was introduced by the conservative Swiss People’s Party MP, Lukas Reimann. It had already received overwhelming support from legislators in the lower house of parliament in March, with 126 National Council deputies voting in favor, and 46 against.

Thomas Minder, counsellor for the state of Schaffhausen and an active promoter of the concept of “Swissness,” said he was eager to “close the topic fast and painlessly” as only “a few lunatics” may want to join the EU now, he told the newspaper.

Hannes Germann, also representing Schaffhausen, highlighted the symbolic importance of the vote, comparing it to Iceland’s decision to drop its membership bid in 2015.

“Iceland had the courage and withdrew the application for membership, so no volcano erupted,” he said, jokingly.

Switzerland’s longstanding application to join the EU has not had a significant impact on the country’s politics for more than 20 years, as its accession negotiations have been suspended since 1992 in the wake of a referendum to join the European Economic Area, when the Swiss voted down the idea of closer ties with the EU.

Some politicians even argued that the vote was an unnecessary formal procedure that didn’t make much sense as Switzerland is no longer regarded by the EU as an official candidate to join the bloc.

Filippo Lombardi, from the Christian Democratic People’s Party, said that it was “not very clever to discuss it once again,” calling the debate about Switzerland’s accession at this stage “a bit ridiculous,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

Switzerland, never a member of EU, shares free trade with the union and free movement of people as part of the Schengen zone.

The timing of Switzerland’s reassurance of its sovereignty and independence from the EU institutions, if accidental, may come in handy for campaigners in the UK advocating a British exit from the EU. Polls show the UK’s referendum on EU membership, to be held in a week on June 23, as being extremely close, with Leave slightly in the lead.

Polls show Britain’s EU ‘Out’ campaign pulls ahead as referendum nears

June 16, 2016

by Freya Berry and Kylie MacLellan

Reuters

LONDON-British support for leaving the European Union has surged, according to two telephone opinion surveys published a week before the June 23 referendum, with one pollster putting support for “Leave” at a more than three-year high.

The Ipsos MORI poll of 1,257 adults across Britain from June 11-14 showed 51 percent of all voters wanted to leave the bloc and 49 percent wanted to stay.

But, when filtered for those likely and registered to vote, the poll showed 53 percent would vote to leave and 47 to remain – the highest support for the ‘Leave’ campaign recorded by the pollster in more than three years.

A separate phone poll by Survation showed ‘Leave’ ahead on 45 percent, up 7 percentage points from its last poll on May 25 and ahead for the first time since the poll began in February. Support for “Remain” dipped 2 percentage points to 42 percent with 13 percent undecided. The poll surveyed 1,104 people.

Of the seven most recently published polls this week, six showed the Leave campaign in the lead, a trend pollsters said showed that the opponents of Britain’s 43-year-old EU membership had dominated the campaign in recent weeks.

“With a week to go, Leave have outgunned Remain with a series of arguments on immigration and money that are often believed despite being flatly denied by the other side,” Ipsos MORI Chief Executive Ben Page told Reuters.

“Polls don’t predict but pollsters sometimes do: personally I think that as in Scotland the status quo may triumph at the last minute. But it looks very close,” Page said.

Britain’s sterling currency fell to it lowest of the day of $1.4100, down 0.7 percent on the day, just after the Survation poll was published. The probability of an In vote fell 5 percentage points to 60 percent, according to betting odds supplied by Betfair.

The polling also marks a major turnaround since a May survey by Ipsos MORI, which at that time found 37 percent wanted to leave against 55 percent who wanted to stay.

Its latest June figures were also filtered by those actually registered to vote, and weighted according to a voter’s educational background, Ipsos MORI said.

A vote to take Britain out of the world’s biggest trade bloc would spook investors by undermining post-World War Two attempts at European integration and placing a question mark over the future of the United Kingdom and its $2.9 trillion economy.

Such is the concern over Brexit that the U.S. Federal Reserve cited it as a reason it delayed an interest rate rise this week. Sterling has also tumbled, British government bond yields have been pushed to record lows and billions of dollars have been wiped off global stocks.

IMMIGRATION TRUMPS ECONOMY

The free movement of EU citizens into Britain, which Out campaigners have cited as the most serious problem with EU membership, has eclipsed concerns about the negative economic impact from Brexit, which In campaigners regard as their top argument, according to the poll.

“On immigration there is a problem, and there is a solution (presented by the Leave camp),” said John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. “On the economy, there is a warning but no optimism. And that is potentially a strategic weakness.”

The poll underscored the mistrust of politicians on both sides of the campaign but especially strong scepticism toward the assertions made by Cameron and finance minister George Osborne, the Evening Standard said.

Osborne, who has warned of an emergency austerity budget if Britain votes to leave, was due to speak about the risks of quitting the 28-nation EU in a speech on Thursday night.

The Bank of England escalated its warnings about the fallout from a Brexit, saying it could harm the global economy and that sterling looked increasingly likely to fall further after an “Out” decision.

But just 17 percent of people believed Osborne’s statement that households would lose 4,300 pounds ($6,079) and be permanently poorer after a Brexit. Some 70 percent consider it a falsehood, according to the Evening Standard.

Almost half believe leading Out campaigner Boris Johnson is telling the truth when he says that Britain sends 350 million pounds a week to the EU – even though it has been criticized as misleading by pro-Remain lawmakers and by independent experts.

Page said the Out campaign had made an end to unlimited EU immigration its main plank over the past month, eclipsing the In campaign’s warnings about the economic consequences of a Brexit.

“Immigration has become the argument, with the economy, Remain’s strongest card, becoming less relevant in the last month. Twenty percent of voters may change their minds, giving hope to both sides, although often undecided (traditionally) don’t bother to vote,” he said.

Pro-Remain campaigners, including ex-prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major, have warned that an exit may also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote if England effectively pulled Scotland out of the EU. Scots are seen as strongly pro-EU.

Members of the Out campaign say such warnings are overblown and that Britain would prosper if it broke free from what they say is a doomed German-dominated EU that punches way below its weight beside rivals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite a series of forecasts that the euro zone would collapse during the Greek debt crisis, it has endured.

(Additional reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary  in Edinburgh; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and William James; Editing by Michael Holden and Mark Heinrich)

 The Pentagon’s Real $trategy

Keeping the Money Flowing

by Andrew Cockburn

Tom Dispatch

These days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington’s military operations in the Greater Middle East has become conventional wisdom among administration critics of every sort. Senator John McCain thunders that “this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem” in that region. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies bemoans the “lack of a viable and public strategy.” Andrew Bacevich suggests that “there is no strategy. None. Zilch.”

After 15 years of grinding war with no obvious end in sight, U.S. military operations certainly deserve such obloquy. But the pundit outrage may be misplaced. Focusing on Washington rather than on distant war zones, it becomes clear that the military establishment does indeed have a strategy, a highly successful one, which is to protect and enhance its own prosperity.

Given this focus, creating and maintaining an effective fighting force becomes a secondary consideration, reflecting a relative disinterest — remarkable to outsiders — in the actual business of war, as opposed to the business of raking in dollars for the Pentagon and its industrial and political partners. A key element of the strategy involves seeding the military budget with “development” projects that require little initial outlay but which, down the line, grow irreversibly into massive, immensely profitable production contracts for our weapons-making cartels.

If this seems like a startling proposition, consider, for instance, the Air Force’s determined and unyielding efforts to jettison the A-10 Thunderbolt, widely viewed as the most effective means for supporting troops on the ground, while ardently championing the sluggish, vastly overpriced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm. No less telling is the Navy’s ongoing affection for budget-busting programs such as aircraft carriers, while maintaining its traditional disdain for the unglamorous and money-poor mission of minesweeping, though the mere threat of enemy mines in the 1991 Gulf War (as in the Korean War decades earlier) stymied plans for major amphibious operations. Examples abound across all the services.

Meanwhile, ongoing and dramatic programs to invest vast sums in meaningless, useless, or superfluous weapons systems are the norm. There is no more striking example of this than current plans to rebuild the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades, Obama’s staggering bequest to the budgets of his successors.

Taking Nuclear Weapons to the Bank

These nuclear initiatives have received far less attention than they deserve, perhaps because observers are generally loath to acknowledge that the Cold War and its attendant nuclear terrors, supposedly consigned to the ashcan of history a quarter-century ago, are being revived on a significant scale. The U.S. is currently in the process of planning for the construction of a new fleet of nuclear submarines loaded with new intercontinental nuclear missiles, while simultaneously creating a new land-based intercontinental missile, a new strategic nuclear bomber, a new land-and-sea-based tactical nuclear fighter plane, a new long-range nuclear cruise missile (which, as recently as 2010, the Obama administration explicitly promised not to develop), at least three nuclear warheads that are essentially new designs, and new fuses for existing warheads. In addition, new nuclear command-and-control systems are under development for a fleet of satellites (costing up to $1 billion each) designed to make the business of fighting a nuclear war more practical and manageable.

This massive nuclear buildup, routinely promoted under the comforting rubric of “modernization,” stands in contrast to the president’s lofty public ruminations on the topic of nuclear weapons. The most recent of these was delivered during his visit — the first by an American president — to Hiroshima last month. There, he urged “nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles” to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”

In reality, that “logic of fear” suggests that there is no way to “fight” a nuclear war, given the unforeseeable but horrific effects of these immensely destructive weapons.  They serve no useful purpose beyond deterring putative opponents from using them, for which an extremely limited number would suffice. During the Berlin crisis of 1961, for example, when the Soviets possessed precisely four intercontinental nuclear missiles, White House planners seriously contemplated launching an overwhelming nuclear strike on the USSR.  It was, they claimed, guaranteed to achieve “victory.” As Fred Kaplan recounts in his book Wizards of Armageddon, the plan’s advocates conceded that the Soviets might, in fact, be capable of managing a limited form of retaliation with their few missiles and bombers in which as many as three million Americans could be killed, whereupon the plan was summarily rejected.

In other words, in the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles — entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy — were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.

The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today.  One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill — $11 billion — is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it.

The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 — before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list.

Assiduously tabulating these projections, experts at the Monterey Center for Nonproliferation Studies peg the price of the total program at a trillion dollars. In reality, though, the true bill that will come due over the next few decades will almost certainly be multiples of that. For example, the Air Force has claimed that its new B-21 strategic bombers will each cost more than $564 million (in 2010 dollars), yet resolutely refuses to release its secret internal estimates for the ultimate cost of the program.

To offer a point of comparison, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the tactical nuclear bomber previously mentioned, was originally touted as costing no more than $35 million per plane. In fact, it will actually enter service with a sticker price well in excess of $200 million.

Nor does that trillion-dollar figure take into account the inevitable growth of America’s nuclear “shield.” Nowadays, the excitement and debate once generated by President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme to build a defense system of anti-missile missiles and other devices against a nuclear attack is long gone. (The idea for such a defense, in fact, dates back to the 1950s, but Reagan boosted it to prominence.) Nevertheless, missile defense still routinely soaks up some $10 billion of our money annually, even though it is known to have no utility whatsoever.

“We have nothing to show for it,” Tom Christie, the former director of the Pentagon’s testing office, told me recently. “None of the interceptors we currently have in silos waiting to shoot down enemy missiles have ever worked in tests.” Even so, the U.S. is busy constructing more anti-missile bases across Eastern Europe. As our offensive nuclear programs are built up in the years to come, almost certainly eliciting a response from Russia and China, the pressure for a costly expansion of our nuclear “defenses” will surely follow.

The Bow-Wave Strategy

It’s easy enough to find hypocrisy in President Obama’s mellifluous orations on abolishing nuclear weapons given the trillion-dollar-plus nuclear legacy he will leave in his wake. The record suggests, however, that faced with the undeviating strategic thinking of the military establishment and its power to turn desires into policy, he has simply proven as incapable of altering the Washington system as his predecessors in the Oval Office were or as his successors are likely to be.

Inside the Pentagon, budget planners and weapons-buyers talk of the “bow wave,” referring to the process by which current research and development initiatives, initially relatively modest in cost, invariably lock in commitments to massive spending down the road. Traditionally, such waves start to form at times when the military is threatened with possible spending cutbacks due to the end of a war or some other budgetary crisis.

Former Pentagon analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, who spent years observing and chronicling the phenomenon from the inside, recalls an early 1970s bow wave at a time when withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to promise a future of reduced defense spending. The military duly put in place an ambitious “modernization” program for new planes, ships, tanks, satellites, and missiles. Inevitably, when it came time to actually buy all those fancy new systems, there was insufficient money in the defense budget.

Accordingly, the high command cut back on spending for “readiness”; that is, for maintaining existing weapons in working order, training troops, and similar mundane activities. This had the desired effect — at least from the point of view of Pentagon — of generating a raft of media and congressional horror stories about the shocking lack of preparedness of our fighting forces and the urgent need to boost its budget. In this way, the hapless Jimmy Carter, elected to the presidency on a promise to rein in defense spending, found himself, in Spinney’s phrase, “mousetrapped,” and eventually unable to resist calls for bigger military budgets.

This pattern would recur at the beginning of the 1990s when the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War superpower military confrontation seemed at an end.  The result was the germination of ultimately budget-busting weapons systems like the Air Force’s F-35 and F-22 fighters. It happened again when pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan in Obama’s first term led to mild military spending cuts. As Spinney points out, each successive bow wave crests at a higher level, while military budget cuts due to wars ending and the like become progressively more modest.

The latest nuclear buildup is only the most glaring and egregious example of the present bow wave that is guaranteed to grow to monumental proportions long after Obama has retired to full-time speechmaking. The cost of the first of the Navy’s new Ford Class aircraft carriers, for example, has already grown by 20% to $13 billion with more undoubtedly to come. The “Third Offset Strategy,” a fantasy-laden shopping list of robot drones and “centaur” (half-man, half-machine) weapons systems, assiduously touted by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, is similarly guaranteed to expand stunningly beyond the $3.6 billion allotted to its development next year.

Faced with such boundlessly ambitious raids on the public purse, no one should claim a “lack of strategy” as a failing among our real policymakers, even if all that planning has little or nothing to do with distant war zones where Washington’s conflicts smolder relentlessly on.

Snowden Disclosure Prompts Backlash in Scotland

June 15 2016

by Ryan Gallagher

The Intercept

Top government officials in Scotland are under pressure to explain their knowledge of a secretive police surveillance unit that was exposed in documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

On Tuesday, cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson was grilled in the country’s parliament about the so-called Scottish Recording Centre and its previously undisclosed involvement in covert surveillance operations.

As The Intercept revealed last week, the Recording Centre is one of several domestic organizations within the United Kingdom involved in a top-secret program named MILKWHITE, which has provided law enforcement agencies with access to “bulk” internet data intercepted by the British eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Prior to the disclosure, few in Scotland knew the Recording Centre even existed — much less that it has been tapping into GCHQ’s troves of data.

In recent days, several Scottish media outlets have picked up the issue, increasing pressure on the government. Questioned about the revelations on Tuesday, Matheson told the Scottish parliament that the government “takes the protection of our citizens’ civil liberties extremely seriously and we are clear that investigatory powers should only be used when it is necessary and proportionate to do so. But we must always balance those fundamental civil liberties with the need to ensure our law enforcement bodies have effective powers to investigate and deal with serious organized crime.”

He declined to comment on any relationship with GCHQ and stated that police must obtain a warrant signed off by a government minister to intercept communications. However, documents about the MILKWHITE program show that it stores metadata about emails, instant messenger chats, and social media activity, meaning it contains information that could reveal the sender and recipient of an email or message, but not the written content. And police agencies in the U.K. do not require a warrant to access this kind of information. They only require a warrant when they want to monitor the content of a communication — for instance, the audio of a call or the body of an email.

Matheson’s response, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not satisfy opposition politicians. John Finnie, a member of the Scottish parliament representing the Green party, said in a statement: “The Cabinet Secretary today attempted to give the impression that all policing activities in Scotland are proportional and that interceptions are independently approved but as we know that is not always the case. There is clearly a culture of bulk collection of data that needs [to be] reined in. I will continue to challenge such over-reaching activities.”

The revelation about the Recording Centre, the first from the Snowden archive to implicate Scotland’s authorities, has put the ruling Scottish National Party in an awkward spot.

Just last week, the party’s leadership took a strong stand against the U.K. government’s push to obtain more surveillance powers through the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” by critics. Joanna Cherry, the Scottish National Party’s spokesperson on justice and home affairs, had raised concerns about the proposed new powers for “bulk” surveillance, which she blasted as “extremely intrusive.”

However, the Snowden documents about MILKWHITE indicate that Scotland’s police forces — through the Recording Centre — have been accessing bulk data for years, presumably with sanction from top Scottish government ministers.

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat member of parliament, was quick to point out this inconsistency — and has pledged to take up the issues surrounding the Recording Centre and the MILKWHITE program with the British government’s Home Office in an attempt to obtain more information.

“In the House of Commons last week, [former Scottish first minister] Alex Salmond voted with the Liberal Democrats against Tory moves that would see our internet histories recorded and made available to the intelligence services,” Carmichael said. “Now it seems that a centre established when he was First Minister was at the heart of the mass surveillance of our personal information.”If it turns out that the Scottish government claims it was not in fact aware of the MILKWHITE program, Carmichael said, it would raise “big questions over the role of the U.K. intelligence services.” And if it were aware and yet “did nothing to raise the alarm, then we need to be told why they were happy for Scots to be left in the dark,” he added.

Scottish police and GCHQ have declined to answer questions about MILKWHITE, citing policy not to comment on “intelligence matters.” The Home Office has also refused to comment, claiming that it never discusses anything derived from leaked documents.

A defeated sanctions vote in the US should worry Israel

Mainstream US civil society institutions now routinely debate Israeli oppressive policies towards Palestine.

June 15, 2016

by Rami G Khouri

Aljazzea

Sometimes a slim defeat is also a step on the road to victory. This may be the case with the razor-thin defeat last week of an American Anthropological Association motion to sanction and boycott Israeli academic institutions that subjugate or exploit Palestinians.

While the motion to boycott complicit Israeli institutions lost by a vote of 2,423 to 2,384, in the larger struggle for Palestinian rights this probably marks a turning point, according to discussions I have held in the United States this week with some AAA members.

The AAA vote and the three-year process that preceded it included a detailed study by an appointed task force of its members that concluded: “We find that the policies and practices of the Israeli government place significant limitations on academic freedom and have led to substantial deprivations in the health and welfare of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as within Israel itself.”

It recommended a range of possible actions, including sanctions, reflecting the continuing historic shift in global responses to Israel’s occupation policies.

The single biggest change is that mainstream American civil society institutions now routinely and publicly debate Israeli oppressive policies towards Palestine, and discuss motions to sanction Israel for those policies, while aiming to promote justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Hardline Israelis

Central to today’s activism is the decade-old Palestinian civil society initiative called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel that seeks its compliance with international law and Palestinian rights.

Hardline Israelis rightly worry that such moves increasingly echo the 1980s anti-apartheid movement that challenged white supremacy in South Africa.

More troubling for Israel are the political demographics that were so evident in this AAA vote and others like it among mainstream US churches, unions, and academic associations: the younger, more ethnically diverse, and more active and progressive members mostly support sanctioning Israel for its subjugation of Palestinians, while pro-Israeli support increasingly is confined largely to older, predominantly white Americans who tend to follow Israel’s lead on such issues.

Time is with justice for the Palestinians and equal rights for both peoples. A majority of Americans, polls confirm, share this desire for their government to be even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A dozen mainstream American churches, unions, and academic associations in the past four years have voted for boycotts and sanctions of Israeli institutions that subjugate Palestinians. In the previous half-century, even discussing the Palestine rights issue in public was virtually impossible.

“The pattern has become clear,” one university professor who is active in BDS initiatives told me on Monday. “At first an organisation’s members refuse even to discuss Israeli policies and their impact on Palestinians. Then the matter is discussed by the membership, but voted down. And after two or three years of more public discussion by all sides, it is voted on again, and approved. We expect the same thing to happen with the AAA vote and other academic associations that raise this issue.”

Public debate

Seven American academic associations have supported BDS actions, and others are debating the matter. The lesson, activists say, is that Israel ultimately loses when the public debates the facts about Palestine-Israel.

That public debate now occurs regularly, mainly because during the past 68 years the world has seen the facts of Israeli statehood and settler-colonisation, and Palestinian disenfranchisement, exile, or occupation.

Israel’s days of expecting automatic mass support for its position in the US seem to be coming to an end. Israeli policies today are openly debated, mainstream organisations support BDS, and even a serious presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has called for a more even-handed US policy on Israel-Palestine.

The AAA and other associations use boycotts to express their opposition to unethical or illegal behaviour by corporations (Coca Cola) or even states (Arizona, Illinois, Georgia).

The US government and individual states sanction and boycott other nations (Russia, Iran, Cuba, Sudan) for their political behaviour.

So people increasingly ask why Israel should be exempt from public discussion of its behaviour towards the Palestinians.

Ironically, even some politicians who wholeheartedly support Israel may see their decisions backfire on them, and promote greater, rather than less, debate about Israeli policies. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last week saying the state would boycott any institution that boycotted Israel.

Free speech

Seven states have already legislated laws prohibiting a boycott of Israel, and others are considering such moves. Cuomo’s decision sparked widespread media debate about whether it violated the constitutional guarantee of free speech, including a New York Times op-ed by a Jewish American who opposed Cuomo’s move as being hypocritical, constitutionally suspect and inappropriate.

The United Church of Christ also quickly criticised Cuomo’s move for infringing the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech, noting that it and other churches have often “actively supported human rights campaigns, sometimes through consumer boycotts and even divestment of companies that have profited from injustice …”

Last summer, the United Church of Christ called for divestment and boycott of firms that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Like the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s, the struggle to counter Israeli subjugation of Palestinians through boycotts and sanctions is steadily picking up steam, and has moved from the fringes towards the mainstream of American public politics. If I were Israeli, I would be worried, too.

Hundreds arrested in Venezuela after latest unrest over food

June 15, 2016

Reuters

Venezuelan security forces have arrested at least 400 people after the latest bout of looting and food riots in the crisis-hit OPEC member country, local officials said on Wednesday.

Another death was also reported in the state of Merida from unrest which is breaking out sporadically across the South American OPEC nation.

On Tuesday, violence engulfed the eastern Caribbean coastal town of Cumana as looters swarmed through dozens of shops and security forces struggled to maintain control.

There were unconfirmed reports on social media of several deaths in Cumana, which is the capital of Sucre state. But regional governor Luis Acuna from the ruling Socialist Party said those reported deaths were unrelated to the looting.

“There were only 400 people arrested and the deaths were not linked to the looting,” he told a local TV station, calling the looters vandals encouraged by right-wing politicians.

“I have no doubt they paid them, this was planned.”

Nelson Moreno, governor of Anzoategui state, which neighbors Sucre, said eight people were also arrested on Tuesday in “irregular” situations, a term that usually refers to looting.

With desperate crowds of people chanting “We want food!,” protests and melees at shops have spread across Venezuela in recent weeks, fueled by severe shortages.

Three people were shot dead in separate incidents last week, with a policeman and a soldier arrested in two cases. [L1N19600W]

The Merida state prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it was investigating the death of a 17-year-old youth, shot late on Tuesday during an “irregular” situation in the western Andean state. Local media reported food protests and an attack on a Socialist Party office there.

According to a local monitoring group, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, more than 10 incidents of looting are occurring daily across the nation of 30 million people that is suffering a brutal recession and the world’s highest rate of inflation.

Venezuela’s political opposition says President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez are to blame for failed socialist economic policies. The opposition is pursuing a recall referendum this year in an effort to remove him from office.

But Maduro, 53, says his foes are waging an “economic war” against him and seeking to foment a coup. Government officials say there is not enough time this year to organize a referendum.

Should there be such a vote in 2017 and Maduro loses, his vice president would take over – rather than a new presidential election being held – meaning the ruling “Chavismo” movement would still be in power.

(Reporting by Diego Ore, writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Sarah Dagher; Editing by G Crosse and Andrew Hay)

 

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