Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News August 31, 2016

Aug 31 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C.  August 31, 2016: “With her international image badly tarnished, her unemployment numbers soaring and oil from outside sources shrinking, the United States is frantically trying a reprise of the 1948 Cold War beginnings to pull her out the mud. Russia has nuclear weaponry and the hardware to deliver it so they are only a sideshow. China is too involved with profitable American business to consider as a crushed enemy and North Korea is too small to turn into a profitable enemy. Perhaps we can go after Turkey. But the real disturbers of the peace of the world are not Russia or China but Israel and Saudi Arabia. Of course we have political domestic pressure on the former and oil from the latter so they are off the board. Mexico, in a state of total anarchy, has little oil and most of its impoverished citizens fleeing, or being forced to flee, to the United States and welfare payment beckoning so she is not a fruitful contemplation. Perhaps we might next look at the Canary Islands or Pitcirn Island for relief.”

Ankara says no US-brokered truce with Kurdish forces in Syria

Ankara has denied agreeing to a Washington-brokered truce with Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria fighting so-called Islamic State. On the ground, however, things seem to look rather different.

August 31,2016

DW

“We do not accept in any circumstances … a ‘compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements,'” EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency.

“The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state,” Celik said, adding Turkey could not be put on an equal footing with a “terrorist organization,” referring to the Kurdish-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) Protection Units (YPG).

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Turkey would continue striking Kurdish militia until they withdrew from the region where Turkish forces are fighting.

A de facto truce

The US said on Tuesday that Ankara and Kurdish-aligned SDF, both of which are US allies, had agreed to a truce in Syria after deadly clashes at the weekend.

Washington had been alarmed by Turkey’s 7-day incursion into Syria, saying it was “unacceptable” for a NATO ally to hit militias loyal to the SDF, which are supported by Washington against “Islamic State.”

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24 to clear the border area of jihadists and halt the westward advance of SDF, which Ankara considers a “terrorist” group.

After driving the Kurdish-backed fighters south away from the flashpoint border town of Jarabulus, the Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies fought IS jihadists to the town’s west, Turkish media said on Tuesday.

Fighting on two fronts

Turkey, which is battling a decades-long Kurdish insurgency at home, fears Kurdish-aligned forces will capture areas previously held by Islamic State, giving them control of an unbroken swathe of territory running along the Turkish border. Ankara fears that, if Kurdish militia control the area along Turkey’s southern border with Syria, it could embolden the Kurdish militant PKK group, which is demanding autonomy on Turkish soil.

Russia has also called on Ankara to halt strikes in Syria on opposition and ethnic groups – including Kurds fighting against IS, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Wednesday.

Stepping up attacks on IS

Meanwhile, Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies are reportedly stepping up attacks on Islamic State, while easing its bombardment of Kurdish-backed positions since Monday.

Meanwhile, IS’s top strategist, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, was reportedly killed on Tuesday in a US-led coalition air strike in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

Turkey wants to ‘cleanse’ strip of territory on Syrian border

August 31, 2016

by David Dolan

Reuters

Jarablus, Syria-Turkey wants to clear Islamic State from a 90 km (56 mile) stretch of territory on the Syrian side of its border, an official said on Wednesday, a week after launching an incursion that has strained ties with the United States.

Operation “Euphrates Shield”, in which Turkish troops and tanks entered Syria in support of rebels for the first time, began on Aug. 24 with the swift capture of Jarablus, a town a few km (miles) inside Syria that was held by Islamic State.

Turkish-backed rebels patrolled the town on motorbikes on Wednesday as children played in dusty alleys.

The bulk of Turkish-backed forces have since moved further south into territory held by militias loyal to the Kurdish-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition supported by Washington in its bid to defeat the jihadists.

Turkish clashes with SDF loyalists have alarmed the United States, which has described the Turkish action as “unacceptable” because it hindered the battle against Islamic State.

But Turkey, which is fighting a Kurdish insurgency at home, says that, while it remains intent on clearing Islamist militants from its border region, it also wants to prevent Kurdish militias from seizing territory in their wake.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the goal was to drive Islamic State from a 90 km strip of land along the border with Turkey, which has been buffeted by a spate of bombings blamed on the group that have killed scores of people.

“Starting from Jarablus, the cleansing of this region is our priority,” Kalin told a news briefing. “We have already cleansed 400 square km successfully.”

Turkey has long said it wants a “buffer zone” in the area, although it has not used the term during this incursion. As well as driving out the ultra-hardline Islamists, it also wants to prevent Kurdish forces taking territory that will let them join up cantons they control in northeast and northwest Syria.

Turkey frets that seizing such a broad swathe of territory could embolden the Kurdish PKK insurgents on Turkish soil.

THUD OF EXPLOSIONS

U.S. officials on Tuesday welcomed what appeared to be a pause in fighting between Turkish forces and rival militias, after days when the border area reverberated with Turkish warplanes roaring overhead into Syria and artillery pounded Syrian sites, saying it was hitting Kurdish fighters.

On Wednesday only the occasional thud of explosions in the distance was audible along the Turkish frontier.

But Ankara has denied statements from Kurdish fighters in Syria that a temporary truce had been agreed, saying it would not make any pact with the Kurdish YPG militia, a powerful force in the SDF coalition, when it considers it a terrorist body.

“The Turkish Republic is a sovereign state, a legitimate state. It cannot be equated with a terrorist organization,” EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency, adding this meant there could be no “agreement between the two.”

Turkey has demanded that the YPG cross the Euphrates river into a Kurdish-controlled canton in Syria’s northeast. U.S. officials have threatened to withdraw backing for the YPG if it did not meet that demand, but have said that the Kurdish group has mostly done so.

Turkey’s EU affairs minister said some Kurdish fighters were still on the western side and called that “unacceptable.”

Eager to avoid more clashes between Turkey and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters, the Pentagon said the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State was establishing communications channels to better coordinate in a “crowded battlespace” in Syria.

As well as battling Islamic State in Syria, Turkey has been rounding up suspected militants at home. Interior Minister Efkan Ala said the authorities had arrested 865 people since the start of 2016, more than half of them foreigners, preventing them crossing through Turkey’s long border with Syria and Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir in Istanbul, Ercan Gurses in Ankara; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Anna Willard)

Turkey says Germany’s remarks on EU accession amount to ‘cultural racism’

August 31, 2016

RT

A statement by Germany’s European commissioner saying that Ankara’s EU bid is “unrealistic” while president Erdogan is in power has been described as “cultural racism” by Turkey’s Minister of EU Affairs, Reuters reports, citing Anadolu news agency.

Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik was speaking to the state Anadolu Agency, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Guenther Oettinger told Bild newspaper that in the current circumstances Turkey’s EU accession “is not realistic all through the next decade.”

“This will surely be an issue [for discussion] for the time after [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” he said. The official added, however, that Ankara is an important geostrategic and economic partner for the EU, and maintaining healthy bilateral ties is critical.

Talks between Ankara and Brussels on Turkey’s EU membership have been going for a long time, with Turkey linking the progress in discussions on granting visa-free travel for its nationals to its contribution to a controversial refugee deal.

Brussels cites 72 conditions on issues such as the rule of law and human rights to be implemented by Turkey for lifting the visa requirements. A number of prominent European officials have accused Turkey of “blackmailing” Brussels or even behaving “like at a bazaar” by trying to raising the stakes.

According to EU officials, Turkey has failed to comply with the most important of the conditions, which is to relax its strict anti-terrorism laws, said to have been used to silence Erdogan’s critics.

In July, Erdogan told German ARD broadcaster that Ankara had so far received only €2 billion (US$2.23 billion) of the promised €3 billion as part of the refugee deal.

European leaders are dishonest,” he said. “We have stood by our promise. But have the Europeans kept theirs?”

Also in July, Turkish authorities threatened to withdraw from the controversial refugee deal which Brussels hopes will help stem the huge flow of migrants into the EU.

“If visa liberalization does not follow, we will be forced to back away from the deal on taking back [refugees] and the agreement of March 18,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview. “It can be early- or mid-October, but we are waiting for an exact date.”

U.S. Strategy to Fight ISIS Has Set Off a New Conflict in Syria

August 31 2016

by Murtaza Hussain, Marwan Hisham

The Intercept

Five years after the start of Syria’s uprising, the Turkish military directly entered the fray last week, sending troops to occupy the northern Syrian town of Jarablus, previously held by the militant group the Islamic State. Turkey’s intervention represents a significant escalation of the conflict, as well as a sign that the country is likely to take a more aggressive approach to foreign policy following July’s failed military coup and subsequent purge.

But Turkey’s intervention is also an indication that the U.S. strategy of empowering Kurdish groups to fight the Islamic State in Syria has helped trigger an entirely new conflict, this time between U.S.-backed militias and a NATO ally.

Turkey launched its recent incursion both to take territory from the Islamic State and also to halt gains by the Syrian Democratic Forces and People’s Protection Units, Kurdish-led groups backed by the United States. The government in Ankara fears these groups will set up an autonomous Kurdish zone on its border, emboldening separatists within Turkey.

While many predicted Turkey’s government would become more inward looking following the failed coup, it seems as though the opposite may be the case. In a statement last week, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the country would be “more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months.”

Turkish-aligned rebel factions recently won a major battle to break a Syrian government siege in the northern hub of Aleppo, a region with historical ties to Turkey. With Turkish forces now directly operating on Syrian soil, it seems the conflict is entering a dangerous new phase of regional involvement.

This July, the Syrian army and its allies succeeded in cutting off the last supply road into rebel-held east Aleppo, placing part of the city under siege and stoking fears for the fate of 300,000 civilians still living there. Airstrikes on residential areas and the reported targeting of medical facilities by Syrian and Russian aircraft increased the misery of a city already suffering under years of war and deprivation. The Turkish government denounced the siege, seeing it as an attempt by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to wipe out one of the few remaining opposition strongholds in the country.

But in early August, a coalition of Syrian rebels and Islamist groups in Aleppo, many of which are supported by Turkey, commenced a last-ditch operation aimed at breaking the siege. By August 8, it seemed that the rebels had struck an improbable victory, announcing that government forces had been driven out of the Al-Ramouseh district, effectively lifting the siege.

Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist rebel group, was one of the major factions involved in the operation. Speaking to The Intercept after the battle, Abu Yusuf al-Muhajir, a spokesperson for the group, said that “the battles in Aleppo will not stop until we put an end to the regime’s existence,” adding that “the high-level coordination” among the separate rebel groups taking part in the offensive had helped tilt the balance.

Abu Yusuf also asserted that the international community did not care about the victims of government attacks in Aleppo. “Were they not Sunnis, the international community would have reacted differently,” he said, also claiming that the opposition groups fighting Assad had been unfairly conflated with global terrorist organizations.

The coalition to break the siege did include Jabhat Fath al-Sham, al Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, which claims to have broken with al Qaeda last month. Mostafa Mahamed, a representative for the rebranded group, said it played an “integral role” in breaking the siege. Regarding relations between rebel factions and Turkey, Mahamed said that “there was no collaboration with or assistance from any neighboring country” in the Aleppo offensive.

While rebel groups have said they have no plans to besiege government-held west Aleppo, analysts believe that a battle for control of the entire city could be forthcoming.

“A genuine battle for Aleppo city is certainly something [rebel groups] have talked about behind the scenes, but in the context of a multi-phased strategy, which is, in fact, already underway,” says Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and author of The Syrian Jihad. “Breaking the siege and isolating western Aleppo was the first step, but we shouldn’t be surprised if we see more of a push made elsewhere in the south of the city in the coming weeks.”

Aleppo, in addition to being pre-war Syria’s largest city and economic hub, is also, along with its countryside, arguably the most vital strategic prize remaining in the conflict. “Aleppo’s northern countryside is of critical value to Turkey, given the impending possibility of a de facto Kurdish federation emerging there,” says Lister, adding that control of the city has “immense emotive value” for both Turkey and the Syrian opposition.

There is also a deeper historical dynamic at play in the conflict. For hundreds of years, Aleppo was a territory of the Ottoman Empire, ruled from Istanbul. Following World War I and the Turkish War of Independence, the city of Aleppo was cut off from Turkish control and placed into the newly created entity of Syria, while many of its surrounding territories ended up across the border in Turkey. For Turkish nationalists, the Assad government’s assault against Aleppo seems almost like an attack on their own country.

“Aleppo has historical ties with Turkey. Turkey will not watch Aleppo fall to a side it does not prefer, because whoever takes Aleppo will have the best chance to win the whole country,” says Mete Sohtaoglu, a Turkey-based researcher on militant groups and contemporary Middle East politics. “Turkey’s purpose in intervening directly in the conflict is to introduce groups it supports as more vital actors in Syria’s politics.”

While the Turkish intervention into Syria has been justified on the basis of taking territory from the Islamic State and bolstering Turkey’s own preferred rebel groups, leaders of the main Kurdish-dominated forces have said they are, in reality, the primary target of the offensive.

These groups have received U.S. backing and have made major gains against ISIS, most recently driving them out of the city of Manbij.

The Turkish government has long feared that Kurdish forces in Syria will carve out their own autonomous zone along the country’s border. Kurdish separatists within Turkey have been at war with the central government following a breakdown of peace negotiations in 2015.

Kurdish groups already control several self-governing cantons across northern Syria, which Kurdish-led forces are seeking to unite into one territory.

“The Kurdish factions see these actions by Turkey as an intervention to prevent them from uniting their cantons,” says Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst with the Jamestown Institute and reporter on developments in Kurdish-held territory in Syria. “ISIS has controlled large parts of the Syrian-Turkish border and Turkey did nothing. It was only when the Kurdish-led forces threatened to unite their administrations that Turkey intervened.”

There are indications that the major parties in the conflict could be quietly reaching an agreement to halt Kurdish gains even as Aleppo remains in the balance. Turkey’s intervention into Syria has taken territory away from the Islamic State, but the Turkish military has already come into direct conflict with the Kurdish-led forces in the country, leading to casualties on both sides. The United States has also cautioned the Kurds to stay east of the Euphrates River, a clear warning against attempting to unite Kurdish territories in Syria.

“The Turkish operation was actually planned to begin about a year ago,” claims Sohtaoglu, the Turkey-based researcher, who says its implementation now reflects an understanding among Turkey, Russia, the United States, and perhaps even the Assad government.

In recent weeks, Turkish leaders have held high-profile meetings with officials from Russia and Iran — key allies of the Syrian government. In his statement last week, Prime Minister Yildirim said that Turkey would “not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base,” making an unsubtle reference to Kurdish separatists. Turkey’s incursion into Syria has been meekly protested by the Syrian government, which long ago ceded control over much of its northern border.

Turkey’s military intervention and the gains made by allied rebels in Aleppo suggest an increasingly forceful Turkish role in Syria’s civil war. The intervention places the U.S. in an awkward position, however, as it is now backing multiple hostile sides in an increasingly convoluted conflict.

“The Turkish intervention is a game changer in northern Syria, similar to the Russian intervention last year,” says Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the D.C.-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “The rebels are more confident in Turkish help now and they’ll likely become more forceful in the way they fight on other fronts.”

Hassan says that newly emboldened rebel forces backed by Turkey will likely demand a leading role in taking back major cities from the Islamic State, which could “complicate the situation for the U.S., but it should not,” he says.

“Washington wanted the opposition to become more involved in the fight against ISIS, and this is happening.”

The Real US Syria Scandal: Supporting Sectarian War

Senior Obama administration officials were aware from 2012 that a war to overthrow Assad would inevitably become a sectarian bloodbath

August 31, 2016

by Gareth Porter

Middle East Eye

The main criticism of US policy in Syria has long been that President Barack Obama should have used US military force or more aggressive arms aid to strengthen the armed opposition to Assad. The easy answer is that the whole idea that there was a viable non-extremist force to be strengthened is a myth – albeit one that certain political figures in London and Washington refuse to give up.

But the question that should have been debated is why the Obama administration acquiesced to its allies funding and supplying a group of unsavory sectarian armed groups to overthrow the Assad regime.

That US acquiescence is largely responsible for a horrible bloodletting that has now killed as many as 400,000 Syrians. Worse yet, there is still no way to end the war without the serious threat of sectarian retribution against the losers.

“The Obama administration bears responsibility for this atrocity, because it could have prevented Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from launching their foolishly adventurous war in Syria. None of them did so out of desperate need; it was a war of choice in every case. And each of the three states is part of the US security system in the Middle East, providing military bases to NATO or to the United States and depending on US support for its security.

But instead of insisting that those three Sunni allies reconsider their options, the Obama administration gave the green light at a conference in Riyadh at the end of March 2012 for proceeding with arming those who wanted to replace the regime, leaving the United States ostensibly free to be a peacemaker. As Hillary Clinton put it at the Riyadh conference: “Some will be able to do certain things, and others will do other things.”

The policymakers responsible for Syria should have known that the seeds of violent sectarian conflict had already been planted in Syria by the early 1980s and that the present war was deeply infected by sectarianism from the beginning. They knew that the Assad regime ruled from the beginning with an iron hand primarily to protect the interests of the Alawites, but also to protect the Christian and Druze minorities against Sunni sectarianism.

The faction of the banned Muslim Brotherhood based in Hama adopted a decidedly sectarian line toward the Alawites, not only referring to the Ba’athist government as an “apostate regime” and sought its violent overthrow, but also demonstrated a readiness to kill Alawites, simply because they were not regarded as true believers in Islam.

After the initial failed armed struggle against the regime, the organizers were forced into exile, but in 1979 an underground member of the Fighting Vanguard faction of the Brotherhood named Ibrahim al-Yousef, who had infiltrated the Syrian army artillery school in Aleppo, separated all the Alawite cadets from the non-Alawites and then shot 32 of them dead and wounded 54 before escaping.

In 1980, after the Brotherhood made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hafez al-Assad himself, the regime took swift and brutal retribution: the very next morning, between 600 and 1,000 Brotherhood prisoners were killed in their cells.

Sectarian violence in Syria reached its climax in 1982, when the Syrian army went into Hama to break the Brotherhood’s control over the city. The operation began when Syrian army troops entered the city to get individuals on its list of Brotherhood members, but were mowed down by Brotherhood machine gunners. Thousands more regime troops were sent to the city, and the Brotherhood mobilized the entire Sunni population to fight. The mosques blared the message, “Rise up and drive the unbelievers from Hama,” as Thomas L. Friedman recounted in 1989.

After encountering much stiffer guerrilla resistance than it expected in Hama, the Syrian army used heavy weaponry against the areas of the city where the Brotherhood’s military forces were concentrated. After the Brotherhood’s resistance in the city was finally defeated the military completed the total destruction of three whole neighborhoods where the Brotherhood had been dominant, and the army continued to take retribution against families with ties to the organization. At least 5,000 Sunnis were killed; the Brotherhood itself claimed 20,000 dead.

The sectarian extremism expressed both by the Assad regime and by the Muslim Brotherhood 30 years earlier was bound to be repeated in the conflict that began in 2011 – especially in the areas of Aleppo and Hama, where the armed opposition was especially strong. The initial slogans used by anti-Assad demonstrators were not sectarian, but that all changed after the anti-Assad armed struggle was taken over by jihadists and Salafists.

Turkey and Qatar, both of which supported the Brotherhood’s exiled leaders, began funneling arms to the groups with the strongest commitment to a sectarian anti-Shiite and anti-Alawite viewpoint. A major recipient of Turkish funding and arms was Ahrar al-Sham, which shared its al-Qaeda ally al-Nusra Front’s sectarian Sunni view of the Alawite minority. It considered the Alawites to be part of the Shiite enemy and therefore the object of a “holy war”.

Another favorite of the US allies was Jaish al-Islam, the Salafist organization in the Damascus suburbs whose former leader Zahran Alloush talked openly about cleansing Damascus of the Shiites and Alawites, both of whom he lumped together as “Majous” – the abusive term used for pre-Islamic non-Arabic people from Iran.

If there was any doubt that the anti-Alawite sectarianism of the past is still a major part of the thinking of the armed opposition, it should have been eliminated after what happened during the “Great Battle for Aleppo”. The newly renamed al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat Fateh al Sham, which planned and led that offensive to break through Syrian government lines around Aleppo, named the offensive after Ibrahim al-Yousef, the Muslim Brotherhood officer who had carried out the cold-blooded murder of Alawite recruits at the artillery school in Aleppo in 1979. And as Syria expert Joshua Landis tweeted on 4 August, a video statement by a masked militant posted by the newly named al-Qaeda organization threatened to do the same thing to the Alawites in Aleppo after taking over the city.

Could senior Obama administration officials have been unaware that a war to overthrow Assad would inevitably become an enormous sectarian bloodbath? By August 2012 a US Defense Intelligence Agency report intelligence warned that “events are taking a clear sectarian direction,” and that the “the “Salafist[s], Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq]” were “the major forces driving the insurgency”. Furthermore, the Obama administration already knew by then that the external Sunni sponsors of the war against Assad were channeling their money and arms to the most sectarian groups in the field.

But the administration did nothing to pressure its allies to stop it. In fact, it actually wove its own Syria policy around the externally fueled war by overwhelmingly sectarian forces. And no one in the US political-media elite raised the issue.

It took a remarkable degree of denial and self-deception for the Obama administration to believe that it was somehow acting to rescue the Syrian people from the bloodletting when it was doing precisely the opposite.

No matter how brutal its rule and its war tactics have been, a war to overthrow the Assad regime could only plunge the country into a terrible sectarian bloodbath. And the consequences of the sectarian war will continue for years into the future. The Obama administration’s failure to firmly reject that war should be viewed as one of the worst of the long parade of American transgressions in the Middle East.

The Campaign to Blame Putin for Everything

Who’s behind it?

August 31, 2016

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

Hardly a day goes by without some “news” about the Russian “threat,” and in the past twenty-four hours the hate-on-Russia campaign seems to have picked up speed. After learning from Hillary Clinton that Vladimir Putin is not only responsible for the Trump campaign, but also for the “global nationalist movement” that yanked the British out of the European Union, mainstream media are telling us that Russian interlopers are supposedly invading our electoral process by hacking into voter databases. The Washington Post “reports”:

“Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state.

“The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was ‘credible’ and severe, ranking as ‘an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,’ said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

“As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week.”

So the Russkies are invading the American polity, launching a cybernetic assault on the very basis of our democracy? Really? Well, no, as becomes apparent when the reader gets down in the weeds and exercises his critical faculties, if such exist. Because by the time we arrive at paragraph five of this “news” story, we learn that:

“It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official.”

Oh, but never mind that nothing much happened and no data was altered, because:

“Nonetheless, the revelation comes amid news that the FBI is investigating suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems, and earlier this month warned states to be on the alert for intrusions.”

“Russian” hackers have now been magically transformed into “suspected foreign hacks”:  we aren’t supposed to notice this shift in attribution because, after all, the FBI is supposedly putting its imprimatur on this conspiracy theory. Except they aren’t: nowhere in the story does the FBI confirm that the Russians or any foreign actors are behind this.

In Illinois, election officials – who just happen to be Democrats – report a similarly minor intrusion, which one Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems for the State Board of Elections, describes as “a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity.” How does he know that? Well, he doesn’t. As we read on, we are told that “The bureau has told Illinois officials that they’re looking at possible foreign government agencies as well as criminal hackers.”

In other words, it could’ve been a couple of teenagers sitting in a cyber-café in Shanghai.

Is there a shred of evidence the Russians were behind any of this, as reporter Ellen Nakashima states in her opening paragraph? The answer to that question is an unequivocal no.

The same day the Washington Post story appeared yet another act of Russian aggression on American soil was revealed to a breathless world: Russian “state actors” have hacked into a number of unnamed Washington thinktanks! The story appeared in “Defense One,” a web site that caters to “insiders” in the national security bureaucracy and their corporate cronies. In an “exclusive,” they claim:

“Last week, one of the Russia-backed hacker groups that attacked Democratic computer networks also attacked several Russia-focused think tanks in Washington, D.C., Defense One has learned.

“The perpetrator is the group called COZY BEAR, or APT29, one of the two groups that cybersecurity company CrowdStrike blamed for the DNC hack, according to founder Dmitri Alperovitch. CrowdStrike discovered the attack on the DNC and provides security for the think tanks.”

So the same company paid by the Democratic National Committee to echo the party line on the DNC hacks is now telling us that they know the Russians are behind this alleged hack. And yet, as cyber-security expert Jeffrey Carr points out here, there is no way CrowdStrike (or anybody else) could definitively point to Russian “state actors” as the culprits in this or any other case: that’s because the procedure they use in “tracing” a hack is inherently subjective, what Carr calls “faith-based attribution.”

Technical analysis of code and the software utilized by the hackers is less than helpful in identifying hackers: if Chinese characters are found in code, well then you’ve been hacked by the People’s Liberation Army. If Russian characters are discovered, well then it’s Putin’s spies. Except this is nonsense: as Carr explains it, if a Kalashnikov is used in a murder, does that mean the murderer is a Russian? Well, uh, no – and no one would ever make that assumption. And yet this is precisely the sort of “analysis” we’re getting from the hucksters who infest the “cyber-security” industry. In short,the “scientific” analysis marketed by these companies is based on assumptions that cannot be objectively verified.

These companies would like their customers to believe that their conclusions are based on science, but as Carr points out:

“It’s important to know that the process of attributing an attack by a cybersecurity company has nothing to do with the scientific method. Claims of attribution aren’t testable or repeatable because the hypothesis is never proven right or wrong.

“When looking at professions who use an investigative process to determine a true and accurate answer, the closest profession to the attribution estimate of a cyber intelligence analyst is that of a religious office like a priest or a minister, who simply asks their congregation to believe what they say on faith. The likelihood that a nation state will acknowledge that a cybersecurity company has correctly identified one of their operations is probably slightly less likely than God making an appearance at the venue where a theological debate is underway about whether God exists.”If you look at the “analysis” done by those who attribute the DNC hack to Russian state actors, a pattern of confirmation bias emerges, as Carr shows:

“On June 15, 2016, CrowdStrike’s co-founder and CTO Dmitri Alperovich announced in a blog post that two Russian hacker groups were responsible for the DNC breach: Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear; and that both hacker groups worked for competing Russian intelligence services.

“Other cybersecurity companies including FireEye, Kaspersky Lab, ESET, TrendMicro, Microsoft, iSight Partners, and AlienLab have made similar claims of attribution to the Russian government. The question that this article seeks to answer is, are those claims grounded in evidence or guesswork?

“I chose to look at Fancy Bear (APT28 in FireEye’s ecosystem). The most comprehensive report on that threat actor was written by FireEye and released last October, 2014 so I started with that. To my surprise, the report’s authors declared that they deliberately excluded evidence that didn’t support their judgment that the Russian government was responsible for APT28’s activities: ‘APT28 has targeted a variety of organizations that fall outside of the three themes we highlighted above. However, we are not profiling all of APT28’s targets with the same detail because they are not particularly indicative of a specific sponsor’s interests.’ (emphasis added)

“That is the very definition of confirmation bias. Had FireEye published a detailed picture of APT28’s activities including all of their known targets, other theories regarding this group could have emerged; for example, that the malware developers and the operators of that malware were not the same or even necessarily affiliated.”

What we are dealing with here is an industry – “cyber-security” – that has a vested interest in promoting the idea that its methodology is “scientific,’ and that it can provide answers to its paying customers who want to know for sure who hacked their computer systems. It wouldn’t do to tell them that no definitive answers are possible, and that any attribution procedure is necessarily based on a whole range of assumptions that are not objectively verifiable. That wouldn’t do much to improve their profit margins. So they market themselves as “scientists” who have all the answers, when, in fact, they have no answers.

This is how a corporate scam turns into a political scam. Reporters looking for “experts” to verify what they already believe, and government officials and partisan players who have a similar agenda, are all too willing to suspend disbelief. A combination of technical ignorance, laziness, and extreme bias produces the kind of “journalism” that is fueling the campaign to attribute every case of hacking to the Russians.

In the case of these mostly unnamed “Russia-focused” thinktanks, the bias is inherent in their ideologically-driven orientation. One alleged victim is named, however, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Their Senior Vice President, one James Andrew Lewis, boasted:

“It’s like a badge of honor – any respectable think tank has been hacked. The Russians just don’t get the idea of independent institutions, so they are looking for secret instructions from Obama. Another benefit is they can go to their bosses and show what they took to prove their worth as spies.”

Lewis is naturally eager to pin himself and his employer with that “badge of honor,” as well as to imbue CSIS with the penumbra of “respectability.” And as for actual evidence that the Russians are responsible for this, Lewis couldn’t care less. In a piece on the DNC hacks, he avers:

“Wrangling over evidentiary standards misses the point. The rules for great power politics are not the same as the rules for a court, if a country wants to remain a great power. This is politics, not jurisprudence.”

The rules of logic, let alone legal standards of proof, don’t apply to Lewis and his confreres in the national security Establishment. After all, he writes, “it is far too late to reverse this story. Both private and government sources attribute the hacking to Russia.” These are the same sources, I might point out, who assured us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” – and who now exhibit same disregard for truth that resulted in that infamous “intelligence failure.” The reality is that, for Lewis and the grandees of the national security state, there is no truth, because “this is politics, not jurisprudence.”

Oh, those rascally Russkies are everywhere! According to our news media, they are not only responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, but Putin’s spies have also gotten their mitts on the computer files of the Clinton Foundation. The same evidence-free rationale – promulgated by the same “cyber-security” companies in the pay of the Democrats –   is utilized to validate this latest claim. And indeed a Bloomberg piece on the alleged hack informs us that

“If the Democrats can show the hidden hand of Russian intelligence agencies, they believe that voter outrage will probably outweigh any embarrassing revelations, a person familiar with the party’s thinking said.”

Deny, deflect, distract – that’s Hillary’s strategy. With a compliant media in tow, so far it seems to be working, at least to the extent that Russian hackers are now generally accepted as a veritable arm of the Trump campaign – when, in fact, there is absolutely zero evidence that Russian state actors are involved in any way. We haven’t seen this level of deception since the ginned up “evidence” of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.”

This entire conspiracy theory is based on a much broader one, which has been pushed by a number of groups with a vehemently anti-Russian cold war agenda. The Legatum Institute, headquartered in Britain, as well as the usual neoconservative suspects in this country, have long maintained that the Russians, while militarily and economically weak, have turned to “information warfare” as their primary instrument of “aggression.” Legatum has been pushing for a government-subsidized “anti-disinformation” agency to combat this new “threat,” as well as urging outright censorship of Russian state-subsidized networks such as “Russia Today” and “Sputnik.” So who are these folks? Legatum is the creature of one Christopher Chandler, a billionaire investor aptly described by investigative reporter Mark Ames:

“The Chandler brothers reportedly were the single biggest foreign beneficiaries of one of the greatest privatization scams in history: Russia’s voucher program in the early 1990s, when each Russian citizen was given a voucher that represented a share in a state concern to be privatized . . . and most naive Russians were fooled or coerced into dumping their vouchers for next to nothing, snapped up by clever vulture capitalists and factory directors from the inside. Institutional Investor magazine described how the Chandlers benefited by snapping up Russians’ vouchers and converting them into stakes in some of the largest and most lucrative companies in the world.”

When Putin took over from the corrupt and perpetually drunk Boris Yeltsin, the Chandlers’ game was over. As Ames puts it, with characteristic wit: “Putin’s cronies don’t need them; they replaced them and pocketed the money for themselves. Therefore, Russia is a threat to western civilization.”

The Legatum thesis, backed by Chandler’s billions, has gained momentum with journalists in this country, and flies in tandem with the “blame Putin” meme that now accompanies news of every hacking incident. We are told that a Russian “disinformation” campaign is spreading “false stories” designed to “sow discord” and causing people to question the policies favored by their leaders, such as whether Sweden ought to join NATO.

As New York Times reporter Neil MacFarquahar put it in a “news” story about this latest example of Putin’s perfidy, the Russian President has “invested heavily in a program of ‘weaponized’ information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, [and] stir discord in their domestic politics.” Notice the phraseology: information is now a “weapon,” the dissemination of which is an act of “aggression.”

In other words, if you question the utility of NATO – now that the Soviet Union has been dead and gone for some thirty years – you’re the functional equivalent of a Russian spook. Are you seeking to “sow discord”? Well, then, you must be an agent of the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB. The strategy of guilt by association – so integral to the Clinton campaign’s tactics in this election – is on full display in the MacFarquahar piece:

“Tracing individual strands of disinformation is difficult, but in Sweden and elsewhere, experts have detected a characteristic pattern that they tie to Kremlin-generated disinformation campaigns.

“’The dynamic is always the same: It originates somewhere in Russia, on Russia state media sites, or different websites or somewhere in that kind of context,’ said Anders Lindberg, a Swedish journalist and lawyer.

“’Then the fake document becomes the source of a news story distributed on far-left or far-right-wing websites,’ he said. ‘Those who rely on those sites for news link to the story, and it spreads. Nobody can say where they come from, but they end up as key issues in a security policy decision.’”

“Fake document”? What “fake document”? You can see how the framework for denying the authenticity of embarrassing documents unearthed by WikiLeaks is being built up by Hillary’s journalistic camarilla. And of course those evil “far left’ and “far right” web sites – gee, I wonder which category Antiwar.com falls under! – are also Moscow’s pawns, and therefore not credible.

It’s all so transparent, and yet with practically every “mainstream” media outlet echoing the same conspiracy theory, the effect is self-reinforcing. This is how fiction becomes “fact.”

What we are seeing in this election season is a propaganda campaign the likes of which we haven’t experienced since the run up to the Iraq war. We are being buried in a veritable shit-storm of lies on a daily basis. Except that, this time, the target isn’t some third-rate Third World despot like Saddam Hussein, nor it is really Donald Trump, whose electoral prospects were never that great to begin with. Trump is just collateral damage – the real quarry is Vladimir Putin.

In concert with a bevy of exiled Russian oligarchs and Western “investors” who plundered Yeltsin-era Russia and were cut off from their orgy of lucrative looting by Putin, the historically Russophobic Clintons and their newfound neoconservative allies dream of regime change in Russia. The vast oil and mineral wealth to be found in Russia’s central Asian provinces and “near abroad,” is a tempting target for those who habitually combine profiteering with politics. The Clintons and their crony capitalist corporate benefactors are drooling at the prospect of looting a prostrate Russia, and Putin stands in their way. Therefore, he must go – and if they have to risk World War III in order to accomplish their goal, well then so be it.

Greed and politics are pushing us to the brink of an all-out conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. It’s an old story, but true.

Tensions mount as record numbers crowd French migrant camp

August 30, 2016

AP

CALAIS, France (AP) — Tempers are flaring among migrants squeezed in record numbers into a shrinking slum camp in France’s port city of Calais, where they spend hours in line waiting for food and showers.

For the increasingly desperate and weary travelers in the camp known as “the jungle,” the path to Britain — where most hope to go — appears blocked.

Two migrants have died in fights within a month, and the future of the sprawling makeshift camp looks increasingly precarious. It was drastically downsized in March, when authorities razed its large southern sector of more than 1,000 shelters and shops, displacing at least 1,000 migrants. This summer, they began closing dozens of camp shops and restaurants, the only available amenities.

Despite that, the camp’s population has soared to its highest-ever level since taking root on the edge of Calais in April 2015. The prefecture, or state authority for the region, said after a one-day count this month that it found 6,901 people living in the camp. Aid group Auberge des Migrants reached its own figure after four days of recent counting: 9,106 people, compared to 7,000 in early July.

The rising numbers reflect the durability of the global migrant crisis, as the flow into Europe continues despite efforts to contain it.

Britain and France agreed Tuesday at a meeting of the countries’ interior ministers in Paris to further increase security at the Eurotunnel and port. More than 1,000 French police already patrol the high barbed-wire fences lining the facilities and highways.

The squalid camp built within the sand dunes of northern France draws migrants from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria and elsewhere, most driven by dreams of life in Britain, where some have family or friends. After often harrowing treks via Libya to Italy or overland through eastern Europe, paying smugglers along the way, most reach a dead end in Calais, unable to find a way across the English Channel.

More than 300 have accepted money for a voluntary departure since the start of the year, the prefecture says, but most remain stuck in limbo. More than 2,000 migrants have applied for asylum in France since 2015 and more than 2,700 have been “removed” from France, the ministers’ statement said. But most migrants don’t consider applying for asylum an option because they don’t want to stay in France.

“They are broken inside because they were here with lots of hopes … and in the jungle they’re not seeing their bright future here,” said Tariq Shinnari, a 26-year-old former civil servant from Afghanistan here since March.

He has given up his dream of going to Britain and is applying for asylum in France. With that new goal, and his work as a volunteer for the British aid organization Care4Calais, he avoids the desperation of other migrants in the camp, though the situation is not lost on him.

“They are saying we don’t have war here, but we are like in a kind of prison.”

With security forces closing in, migrants increasingly resort to dangerous tactics to jump onto trucks heading across the English Channel, throwing branches and other objects onto the roadway to stop traffic. Of the 11 migrants who have died in Calais this year, seven were hit by a car or truck, according to the prefecture.

In the camp, supplies are growing scarce, according to two aid organizations, and migrants say they can spend up to three hours in line to get a shower of six minutes. They spend hours more in lines for food.

The Kitchen in Calais, one of several volunteer dispensaries, served 800 dinners a day in April and is now dishing up 1,500 meals. It is seeking permission to expand to serve 2,000 meals daily, said Jamal Ismail, a Briton who runs it.

In the camp, a sense of despair lingers in the dusty alleys. Now, authorities are trying to demolish the 72 restaurants and shops that migrants say make it livable, with places to socialize, charge cellphones and, in some cases, sleep.

“Nobody is functioning at full blast,” said Maya Konforti of the Auberge des Migrants.

Police guarding the camp refuse to allow building materials inside, so instead of plywood shelters, tents are going up in every available space. Up to 2,500 people now live in tents, according to Konforti.

With resources lacking, mounting tensions have created new dangers. On Aug. 23, a Sudanese man in his 30s was killed in a fight with Afghans.

New arrival Marhawi Tesfay, a 17-year-old Eritrean, said he was afraid.

“I think there’s not safety 100 percent,” he said.

Tesfay is among a record number of children alone in the camp. Aid organization France Terre d’Asile said Tuesday the number of children under 18 on their own there has reached a record of 861 — well more than twice the 343 counted in May. The youngest is a 10-year-old Afghan.

Calais became a magnet for migrants in the late 1990s, when refugees from the war in Kosovo flocked to northern France. Afghans fleeing war followed. Migrant numbers spiked when a Red Cross shelter in nearby Sangatte took in 68,000 refugees over three years.

The Sangatte center was closed in 2002, and France and Britain drew up an accord that puts British police, customs agents, sniffer dogs and high fences in Calais.

After it became a flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis last year, authorities made new efforts to deter or resettle migrants.

In January, the French installed containers in the camp to house 1,500 people, and provided 400 places for women and children. They set up a bus service to take migrants to 148 centers around France, to reconsider their futures.

What remains of the “jungle” will eventually be demolished. Prefect Fabienne Buccio says no more than 2,000 migrants can remain in Calais — the number the official dwellings can hold.

“We can’t do (anything). We are refugees. It’s their country,” said Abdul Wali, who is among community leaders for the camp’s large Afghan population. “Right now everybody hates us.”

North Korea makes progress on missiles, but no evidence of nuclear weapons yet

August 30, 2016

by James Pearson and Ju-min Park

Reuters

SEOUL-North Korea has made considerable progress this year on weapons technology, including testing a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but it’s still not clear if the isolated nation has developed a nuclear warhead.

It also does not yet have a fleet of submarines that can launch the newly developed missile.

“North Korea has dramatically increased the pace of missile testing and invested heavily in modernizing its factories that produce them, something we can see in satellite images,” said Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

“These investments have paid off with the recent test of a solid-fueled submarine-launched missile, but North Korea has not yet completed development of a submarine to carry that missile.”

In April, a South Korean official said the North had accomplished miniaturization of a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, although there was no direct evidence it had done so. The United States has said the North’s claim that it had miniaturized a warhead had to be taken as a credible threat.

“I think North Korea is capable of miniaturizing nuclear bombs,” said Yang Uk, a senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum and a policy adviser to the South Korean navy. “But they don’t have any standardized warhead yet to put on missiles. They keep gathering data through nuclear tests and working to standardize a warhead.”

Experts have predicted that the delivery vehicle for the North’s first nuclear warhead would be the medium-range Rodong missile, which can fire a 1 tonne (1,100 lb) warhead up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles).

Despite threats to strike the mainland United States, the North is seen as several years away from building an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can carry a nuclear warhead.

EXPANDED PRODUCTION

In the past year, North Korea has boasted of numerous weapons breakthroughs in unprecedented detail.

Although some of it was bluster, international experts have concluded North Korea’s missiles have flown higher and for longer than previously, indicating progress in the country’s banned missile program.

In June, after repeated failures, it successfully launched an intermediate-range missile, which can fly up to 3,500 km (2,100 miles).

Analysis of satellite images shows that the North has recently expanded factories known to contribute to its nuclear and missile programs.

An Aug 22 image of a sprawling plant in a rural area 60 km (37 miles) north of Pyongyang appears to show several new structures, extensive refurbishment of existing buildings and a new entrance to a probable underground facility, according to data from satellite imagery provider Planet that was analyzed by Lewis.

The January 18 General Machine Plant has long been used to produce engines for tanks, missiles and other military vessels, according to experts.

“This represents an enormous investment in North Korea’s missile production infrastructure, something that is consistent with the propaganda offensive we have seen and the spike in missile testing,” said Lewis.

The Kanggye General Tractor Plant, believed by arms control experts to assemble North Koreans munitions, was also upgraded in the last year, according to imagery analyzed by Lewis.

The plant is the country’s “main weapons production base,” a defector who worked in North Korea’s secretive munitions industry told South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper in 2010.

For Pyongyang, however, building a new submarine fleet seems to be a top priority.

A new construction hall has come up at North Korea’s Sinpo submarine base on the east coast, according to images collected by Planet.

An image from Aug 10 shows a new structure being built beside a refurbished pier within the base, although it was not clear if the new hall would house a new class of submarine.

Perfecting submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) technology and having a fleet of submarines that could deploy the weapons would raise North Korea’s threat to Japan and U.S. interests in the Pacific to a new level, given the ability of submarines to escape a land attack and evade missile defense shields.

Leader Kim Jong Un proclaimed the SLBM test the country’s “greatest success” and said North Korea was at the “front-rank of nuclear powers”.

Moon Keun-sik, a retired South Korean submarine captain and squadron leader, said North Korea’s conventional diesel-powered submarines were a persistent threat despite their age but its SLBM-capable craft could be a game-changer.

“North Korea will be or is already in the process of building a newer, bigger submarine that may happen as early as next year,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Yun Hwan Chae in SEOUL and Tim Kelly in TOKYO; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

A record number of Americans now dislike Hillary Clinton

August 31, 2016

by Aaron Blake

The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton hit her stride after the Democratic National Convention, riding to a double-digit lead over Donald Trump in some national and swing-state polls — her highest of the year.

As of today, though, Americans’ views of her just hit a record low.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 41 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Clinton, while 56 percent have an unfavorable one.

That’s the worst image Clinton has had in her quarter-century in national public life. Her previous low favorable rating this year was in July, when it was 42 percent, lower than any mark in historical Post-ABC polls except a few points in the 1990s when a large share of the public had no opinion of her. Her previous high for unfavorable views was in June, when 55 percent disliked Clinton.

Trump, of course, has long been the more unpopular of the two presidential nominees, and he remains so; 35 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of him, compared to 63 percent unfavorable.

But if you look just at registered voters, the new poll actually shows Clinton’s image is about as bad as Trump’s, with 38 percent having a favorable impression and 59 percent unfavorable, compared to a 37/60 split for Trump.

Clinton’s numbers serve as a reminder that Trump’s unpopularity isn’t prohibitive, largely because Americans — and specifically registered voters — don’t much like Clinton either. If it weren’t for Trump, in fact, Clinton would be the most unpopular major-party presidential nominee in modern American history.

Perhaps most notably, Clinton’s image has declined significantly from just a month ago. After the Democratic convention, Americans were about evenly split — 48 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable.

Interestingly, Clinton’s numbers appear to have dropped since that early August poll mostly in groups that have been very supportive of her:

  • Her favorable rating among women dropped from 54 percent to just 45 percent.
  • Among Hispanics, it went from 71 percent to 55 percent.
  • Among liberals, it went from 76 percent to 63 percent.

It’s not clear quite what might have cause Clinton to fall further than ever before. It’s likely that she simply got an extended bounce after the Democratic convention that has finally faded. It’s also possible that adverse headlines last week about the Clinton Foundation and thousands of newly discovered emails from the private email server Clinton used as secretary of state reinforced why views of her had been worsening prior to the July conventions.

But prior to that convention, it was clear that Clinton was headed in the wrong direction and setting new records for her unpopularity. As I wrote back then:

Clinton’s favorable rating in the CNN poll is currently 16 points net-negative. That’s unprecedented in the dozens of CNN polls on her since 1992.

Gallup’s new numbers on Monday — 38 percent favorable and 57 percent unfavorable — are also unprecedented over the course of Clinton’s political career.

This also appears to be the first time ever that Clinton’s image measures worse than Trump’s. It does so in both polls.

Clinton’s image has been on a downward trajectory since her tenure as a highly popular secretary of state ended in 2013, and the decline continued through the primary campaign . That’s largely been obscured by her lead in the horse race polls — a lead that owes to Trump’s inferior image and likely Clinton’s advantages on her qualifications to serve as president.

But Clinton is keeping this race competitive with her own personal problems. And right now, the voters who will determine the next president don’t like her much more than they like Trump.

he Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted August 24-28 among a random national sample of 1,020 adults, including users of both conventional and cellular phones. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. See interactive results by group and full trends over time and methodology. Scott Clement and Emily Guskin contributed to this post.

U.S. Treasury says EU’s Apple tax ruling aimed at U.S. companies

August 31, 2016

by Jason Lange

Reuters

The U.S. Treasury sought to keep pressure on the European Union to rescind a ruling that Apple Inc pay up to $14.5 billion in back taxes, a move Washington says breaches international tax rules and sets the stage for more actions against U.S. companies.

The tax deal between Apple and Ireland that allowed the U.S. technology giant pay a tax rate that the European Commission said was effectively 1 percent of its profits is the latest spat between Brussels and Washington over company regulation.

“I have been concerned that it reflected an attempt to reach in to the U.S. tax base to tax income that ought to be taxed in the United States,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday at an event to discuss Washington’s position ahead of a meeting of the Group of 20 industrial nations in China next week.

As well as Apple, Starbucks Corp was ordered to pay more Dutch taxes and Amazon.com Inc and McDonald’s Corp are still being investigated. Also, the EU has made a series of accusations that Google, part of Alphabet Inc, has abused its market power.

Apple has said it will appeal the ruling, issued on Monday.

Critics in Congress have denounced the move as a predatory money grab that would encroach on U.S. government jurisdiction and ultimately add to the federal deficit.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)

 US Military Interventions: The Chronicle of Peaceful Co-Existance

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

SOUTH DAKOTA

1890 (-?)

Troops

300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.

ARGENTINA

1890

Troops

Buenos Aires interests protected.

CHILE

1891

Troops

Marines clash with nationalist rebels.

HAITI

1891

Troops

Black workers revolt on U.S.-claimed Navassa Island defeated.

IDAHO

1892

Troops

Army suppresses silver miners’ strike.

HAWAII

1893 (-?)

Naval, troops

Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.

CHICAGO

1894

Troops

Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.

NICARAGUA

1894

Troops

Month-long occupation of Bluefields.

CHINA

1894-95

Naval, troops

Marines land in Sino-Japanese War.

KOREA

1894-96

Troops

Marines kept in Seoul during war.

PANAMA

1895

Troops, naval

Marines land in Colombian province.

NICARAGUA

1896

Troops

Marines land in port of Corinto.

CHINA

1898-1900

Troops

Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.

PHILIPPINES

1898-1910(-?)

Naval, troops

Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos.

CUBA

1898-1902(-?)

Naval, troops

Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.

PUERTO RICO

1898(-?)

Naval, troops

Seized from Spain, occupation continues.

GUAM

1898(-?)

Naval, troops

Seized from Spain, still in use as base.

MINNESOTA

1898(-?)

Troops

Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.

NICARAGUA

1898

Troops

Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.

SAMOA

1899(-?)

Troops

Battle over succession to throne.

NICARAGUA

1899

Troops

Marines land at port of Bluefields.

IDAHO

1899-1901

Troops

Army occupies Coeur d’Alene mining region.

OKLAHOMA

1901

Troops

Army battles Creek Indian revolt.

PANAMA

1901-14

Naval, troops

Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone 1914-99.

HONDURAS

1903

Troops

Marines intervene in revolution.

DOMINICAN REP.

1903-04

Troops

U.S. interests protected in Revolution.

KOREA

1904-05

Troops

Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.

CUBA

1906-09

Troops

Marines land in democratic election.

NICARAGUA

1907

Troops

“Dollar Diplomacy” protectorate set up.

HONDURAS

1907

Troops

Marines land during war with Nicaragua.

PANAMA

1908

Troops

Marines intervene in election contest.

NICARAGUA

1910

Troops

Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.

HONDURAS

1911

Troops

U.S. interests protected in civil war.

CHINA

1911-41

Naval, troops

Continuous occupation with flare-ups.

CUBA

1912

Troops

U.S. interests protected in Havana.

PANAMA

19l2

Troops

Marines land during heated election.

HONDURAS

19l2

Troops

Marines protect U.S. economic interests.

NICARAGUA

1912-33

Troops, bombing

20-year occupation, fought guerrillas.

MEXICO

19l3

Naval

Americans evacuated during revolution.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

1914

Naval

Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.

COLORADO

1914

Troops

Breaking of miners’ strike by Army.

MEXICO

1914-18

Naval, troops

Series of interventions against nationalists.

HAITI

1914-34

Troops, bombing

19-year occupation after revolts.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

1916-24

Troops

8-year Marine occupation.

CUBA

1917-33

Troops

Military occupation, economic protectorate.

WORLD WAR I

19l7-18

Naval, troops

Ships sunk, fought Germany  and Austria-Hungary

RUSSIA

1918-22

Naval, troops

Five landings to fight Bolsheviks.

PANAMA

1918-20

Troops

“Police duty” during unrest after elections.

YUGOSLAVIA

1919

Troops

Marines intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.

HONDURAS

1919

Troops

Marines land during election campaign.

GUATEMALA

1920

Troops

2-week intervention against unionists.

WEST VIRGINIA

1920-21

Troops, bombing

Army intervenes against mineworkers.

TURKEY

1922

Troops

Fought nationalists in Smyrna (Izmir).

CHINA

1922-27

Naval, troops

Deployment during nationalist revolt.

HONDURAS

1924-25

Troops

Landed twice during election strife.

PANAMA

1925

Troops

Marines suppress general strike.

CHINA

1927-34

Troops

Marines stationed throughout the country.

EL SALVADOR

1932

Naval

Warships sent during Faribundo Marti revolt.

WASHINGTON DC

1932

Troops

Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.

WORLD WAR II

1941-45

Naval,troops, bombing, nuclear

Fought Axis for 3

years; 1st nuclear war.

DETROIT

1943

Troops

Army puts down Black rebellion.

IRAN

1946

Nuclear threat

Soviet troops told to leave north (Iranian Azerbaijan).

YUGOSLAVIA

1946

Naval

Response to shooting-down of U.S. plane.

URUGUAY

1947

Nuclear threat

Bombers deployed as show of strength.

GREECE

1947-49

Command operation

U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.

CHINA

1948-49

Troops

Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.

GERMANY

1948

Nuclear threat

Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.

PHILIPPINES

1948-54

Command operation

CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.

PUERTO RICO

1950

Command operation

Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.

KOREA

1950-53

Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats

U.S.&

South Korea fight China & North Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, & vs. China in 1953. Still have bases.

IRAN

1953

Command operation

CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.

VIETNAM

1954

Nuclear threat

Bombs offered to French to use against siege.

GUATEMALA

1954

Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat CIA directs exile invasion after new gov’t nationalizes U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.

EGYPT

1956

Nuclear threat, troops

Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; MArines evacuate foreigners

LEBANON

1958

Troops, naval

Marine occupation against rebels.

IRAQ

1958

Nuclear threat

Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.

CHINA

1958

Nuclear threat

China told not to move on Taiwan isles.

PANAMA

1958

Troops

Flag protests erupt into confrontation.

VIETNAM

1960-75

Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; 1-2 million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in 1968 and 1969.

CUBA

1961

Command operation CIA-directed exile invasion fails.

GERMANY

1961

Nuclear threat Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.

CUBA

1962

Nuclear threat

Naval

Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with USSR.

LAOS

1962

Command operation

Military buildup during guerrilla war.

PANAMA

1964

Troops

Panamanians shot for urging canal’s return.

INDONESIA

1965

Command operation Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

1965-66

Troops, bombing Marines land during election campaign.

GUATEMALA

1966-67

Command operation Green Berets intervene against rebels.

DETROIT

1967

Troops

Army battles Blacks, 43 killed.

UNITED STATES

1968

Troops

After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.

CAMBODIA

1969-75

Bombing, troops, naval Up to 2 million killed in decade of  bombing, starvation, and political chaos.

OMAN

1970

Command operation U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.

LAOS

1971-73

Command operation, bombing U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; “carpet-bombs” countryside.

SOUTH DAKOTA

1973

Command operation Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.

MIDEAST

1973

Nuclear threat World-wide alert during Mideast War.

CHILE

1973

Command operation CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.

CAMBODIA

1975

Troops, bombing Gas captured ship, 28 die in copter crash.

ANGOLA

1976-92

Command operation CIA assists South African-backed rebels.

IRAN

1980

Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing Raid to rescue Embassy hostages;  8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.

LIBYA

1981

Naval jets

Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.

EL SALVADOR

1981-92

Command operation, troops Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.

NICARAGUA

1981-90

Command operation, naval CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions,  plants harbor mines against revolution.

LEBANON

1982-84

Naval, bombing, troops Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists,  Navy bombs and shells Muslim and Syrian positions.

HONDURAS

1983-89

Troops

Maneuvers help build bases near borders.

GRENADA

1983-84

Troops, bombing Invasion four years after revolution.

IRAN

1984

Jets

Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.

LIBYA

1986

Bombing, naval Air strikes to topple nationalist gov’t.

BOLIVIA

1986

Troops Army assists raids on cocaine region.

IRAN

1987-88

Naval, bombing US intervenes on side of Iraq in war.

LIBYA

1989

Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down.

VIRGIN ISLANDS

1989

Troops

St. Croix Black unrest after storm.

PHILIPPINES

1989

Jets

Air cover provided for government against coup.

PANAMA

1989-90

Troops, bombing

Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ civilians killed.

LIBERIA

1990

Troops

Foreigners evacuated during civil war.

SAUDI ARABIA

1990-91

Troops, jets Iraq countered after invading Kuwait; 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.

IRAQ

1990-?

Bombing, troops, naval Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; no-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south,   large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.

KUWAIT

1991

Naval, bombing, troops Kuwait royal family returned to throne.

LOS ANGELES

1992

Troops

Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.

SOMALIA

1992-94

Troops, naval, bombing U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.

YUGOSLAVIA

1992-94

Naval

Nato blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.

BOSNIA

1993-95

Jets, bombing No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.

HAITI

1994-96

Troops, naval

Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.

CROATIA

1995

Bombing

Krajina Serb airfields attacked before Croatian offensive.

ZAIRE (CONGO)

1996-97

Troops

Marines at Rwandan Hutu refuge camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.

LIBERIA

1997

Troops

Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.

ALBANIA

1997

Troops

Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.

SUDAN

1998

Missiles

Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be “terrorist” nerve gas plant.

AFGHANISTAN

1998

Missiles

Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.

IRAQ

1998-?

Bombing, Missiles

Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.

YUGOSLAVIA

1999-?

Bombing, Missiles

Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo.

YEMEN

2000

Naval

Suicide bomb attack on USS Cole.

MACEDONIA

2001

Troops

NATO troops shift and partially disarm Albanian rebels.

UNITED STATES

2001

Jets, naval

Response to hijacking attacks.

AFGHANISTAN

2001

Massive U.S. mobilization to attack Taliban, Bin Laden. War could expand to Iraq, Sudan, and beyond.

IRAQ

2003

Massive U.S. invasion to secure Iraqi oil. Iraqi Resistance kills over 3,000 U.S. troops, injures 15,000. Civilian losses between 15 and 30,000.

 

 

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply