Friday, February 05, 2016

Freeing Julian Assange: The Last Chapter

One of the epic miscarriages of justice of our time is unravelling. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention — – the international tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations — has ruled that Julian Assange has been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden.

After five years of fighting to clear his name — having been smeared relentlessly yet charged with no crime — Assange is closer to justice and vindication, and perhaps freedom, than at any time since he was arrested and held in London under a European Extradition Warrant, itself now discredited by Parliament.

The UN Working Group bases its judgements on the European Convention on Human Rights and three other treaties that are binding on all its signatories. Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. It would fly contemptuously in the face of international law if they did not comply with the judgement and allow Assange to leave the refuge granted him by the Ecuadorean government in its London embassy.

In previous, celebrated cases ruled upon by the Working Group — Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran, both Britain and Sweden have given support to the tribunal. The difference now is that Assange’s persecution and confinement endures in the heart of London.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Establishment’s Last Stand

The good news for anti-interventionists out of Iowa is that Bernie Sanders has defied the conventional wisdom and effectively delayed the coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton. In spite of a ramped up effort to isolate the Vermont socialist from the Democratic mainstream, Hillary is in for a bruising fight that will only get bloodier when Sanders smashes her in New Hampshire, as seems likely.

On the Republican side of the aisle, the news from Iowa is decidedly mixed. There are glad tidings in the fact that the two candidates not wholly-owned subsidiaries of the neocons came in first (Cruz) and second (Trump). Yet the unexpectedly strong third place finish by the War Twink Marco Rubio has the War Party celebrating. Not that we didn’t know Rubio was going to come in third all along: that’s what the polls told us, and they were right. Yet we were being primed in the run up to the actual balloting with the narrative that third place was actually a “victory” for the Cuban Bombshell. And we have the “mainstream” media chiming in with the usual neocon suspects when it comes to pushing this line.

Ideologically, Rubio is the perfect neocon vehicle. He is not only opposed to the Iran deal, he has also suggested war with Tehran is practically inevitable. He avers that we should’ve been arming the Syrian Islamist rebels from the very beginning, a view he shares with Hillary Clinton. He has run ads complaining that the US spies on Israel – but hasn’t said a word about extensive Israeli spying on the US. He wants to add $1 trillion to the military budget: he wants to shoot down Russian aircraft over Syria and confront Moscow in Ukraine. And his dog whistle to the neocons is his campaign theme: he touts “a new American century,” limning the battle-flag of the old Project for a New American Century that did so much to give us the invasion of Iraq.

The Rubio campaign, in essence, is the GOP Establishment’s last stand against the roiling tides of populist backlash that threaten to bring it down. Which is why the donor class is rapidly moving into Rubio’s camp. The Cruz campaign is an attempt to straddle the fence: while the Canadian-born Senator has been critical of the neocons, he’s such a consummate opportunist that he isn’t above placating them as long as he gains some political benefit. And his foreign policy stance contains elements of neoconservatism, as well as a somewhat attenuated realism. Trump, as this perceptive piece on his foreign policy team makes clear, is an unambiguous realist, which is why the neocons have pulled out all the stops in their effort to derail the Trump Train.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Fighting the Multicultural Left

In his latest column Pat Buchanan writes eloquently about a “civil war on the right.” According to Pat, “conservatives” are now locked in mortal combat over the future of the American Right, and the sides are divided between the fans and despisers of populist presidential candidate Donald Trump. From this narrative it seems that while some “conservatives” are rooting for the Donald, others are ready to bolt the Republican Party if he picks up the Republican presidential nomination.

Although the events Pat describes are indeed unfolding, his label is misleading. Whatever political term one may decide to confer on Trump, most of those who are now railing against him, led by Rich Lowry and his band at National Review, are hardly “conservative.”  They are essentially leftists, who are slightly less leftist than their friends at the Washington Post and at other national papers, whose editorial pages are graced by such “conservatives” as Jennifer Rubin, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Michael Barone. Much of what looks like the Right has been forced to live in the shadows since the neoconservatives in conjunction with the establishment Left helped to marginalize a truer Right in the 1980s. Real “conservative wars” did take place in the 1980s; and the paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians were overrun by the other side’s superior resources. The winning side was led by the neoconservatives who were helped significantly by the journalistic Left.

What happened in those years resulted in having “conservative” and “liberal” labels assigned to factions that had once belonged on the Left. By now of course the “conservative” label means whatever the media and our two official parties wish it to mean. Thus we encounter  advocates of gay marriage, David Boas and John Podhoretz featured among  National Review‘s “conservatives,” in a battle against the  supposed interloper from the left, Donald Trump? It is certainly hard, and perhaps even impossible, to locate the “conservative” substance or worldview uniting the critics of Trump in National Review. Why should we think, for example, that National Review expresses “conservatism” when it protests Vladimir Putin’s critiques of “Western social decadence” and when a National Review-regular contributor wishes to intervene in Ukraine on behalf of the transgendered? Does the magazine represent the “conservative” side in international relations, as opposed to, say, self-described leftist Steven Cohen, who has urged greater moderation in dealing with the conservative nationalist Russian government?

Why are Republican presidential candidates who yearn to call Bibi and pledge him our unconditional support as soon as they’re elected taking the “conservative” side in anything? And is being in good standing with Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson the current operative definition of being a “conservative”? Perhaps Richard Lowry and Marco Rubio could answer this question for us. But it’s unlikely they would, since I’m considered to be the sworn enemy of “conservativism,” whatever that term has now come to mean. Not surprisingly, National Review and most of its anti-Trump critics ran to affix the label “conservative” to Mitt Romney, John McCain and to other centrist, leaning-left Republicans when they were nominated for president. The term “conservative” for these Trump-critics is synonymous with being acceptable to the Republican establishment.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

How Did The US Go From A War On Terror To A War Of Terror?

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in which he discussed the violence he saw in the streets of the United States and the violence of the Vietnam War. He described meeting with “desperate, rejected, and angry young men,” encouraging them to seek non-violent change in their communities and the country at large.

“But they asked, and rightly so, ‘What about Vietnam?’ They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

In his speech, Dr. King didn’t use the words “terror” or “terrorist.” Although liberally present in nearly every speech made by any politician running for office today, these words were not part of the U.S. political vocabulary in 1967. And it would be another 34 years before the “war on terror” was declared.

But if, as Dr. King said, the U.S. is the “greatest purveyor of violence [read: terror] in the world,” how could the U.S. declare a war against it? This question begs two additional ones: Is the U.S., in fact, the greatest purveyor of terror in the world? And, if so, what benefit does the U.S. derive from its war on terror?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Davos Blind Eye: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World

Reversing Undeniable Fact as Ultimate Justification

Unbelievably, the endlessly repeated assertion of the form that ‘the poor are being lifted out of poverty in ever greater numbers’ continues on untouched despite the hard evidence that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost almost half of their wealth in just the last five years.

This big lie is significant in its implications. For not only is a pervasive claim about the success of globalization undeniably falsified while no-one notices it. Basic market theory and dogma collapses as a result. What is daily claimed as an infallible benefit of the global market is shown to be the opposite of reality. What does it mean for “trickle-down theory” when, in truth, the trickle down goes up in hundreds of billions of dollars to the rich from the already poor and destitute?

What can we say now of the tirelessly proclaimed doctrine that the global market brings “more wealth for all” when, in fact, unimpeachable business evidence shows the opposite reality on the ground and across the world. For the poor have undeniably lost almost half their share of global wealth while the richest have multiplied theirs at the same time.

The evidence proves, in short, that the main moral and economic claims justifying the global market are very big lies becoming bigger all the time.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed To Protect Public’s Privacy

Encryption, a security measure that makes data impossible to read without a secure code or password, has become an increasingly contentious subject for government agencies and private companies. While the likes of Apple, Android, and other technology companies maintain it is vital, the federal government has forcefully resisted. On Thursday, however, NSA Director Mike Rogers expressed his support for the security feature, drawing a clear line in the sand between federal intelligence and law enforcement.

On Thursday, Rogers told the Atlantic Council think tank, “encryption is foundational to the future.” Though surveillance officials don’t often champion privacy, Rogers emphasized the importance of encryption and the need to incorporate it into security practices.


“Concerns about privacy have never been higher. Trying to get all those things right, to realize that — it isn’t about one or the other,” he said. Though he maintained that privacy should not be the dominant concern, he also rejected the belief that “security is the imperative and that ought to drive everything,” adding, “We’ve got to meet these two imperatives. We’ve got some challenging times ahead of us, folks.”

Rogers cited the recent Office of Personnel Management hack of over 20 million users as a reason to increase encryption rather than scale it back. “What you saw at OPM, you’re going to see a whole lot more of,” he said, referring to the massive hack that compromised the personal data about 20 million people who obtained background checks.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Fed’s Role in the Stock Market Slide

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P peaked in May 2015, investors were still confident that the Fed “had their back” and that any steep or prolonged downturn in stocks would be met with additional liquidity and a firm commitment to maintain zero rates as long as necessary.  But now that the Fed has started its long-awaited rate-hike cycle, investors aren’t sure what to expect.

This growing uncertainty coupled with flagging earnings reports have factored heavily in Wall Street’s recent selloff. Unless the Fed is able to restore confidence by promising to take steps that support the markets,  stocks are going to continue get hammered by economic data that’s bound to deteriorate as 2016 drags on.

For the last few years, investors have relied on the so called “Bernanke Put” to prevent significant stock losses while the real economy continued to sputter and underperform.  The moniker refers to the way the Fed adds liquidity to the markets during periods of stress to put a floor under stocks. Investors have been so confident in this safety-net system that they’ve dumped trillions of dollars into equities even though underlying fundamentals have remained weak and the economy has sputtered along at an anemic 2 percent per year. Investors believed  the Central Bank could move stocks higher, and they were right.

The Dow Jones has more than doubled since it touched bottom on March 9, 2009 while the S&P soared to a new-high (2,130 points) on May 21, 2015, tripling its value at the fastest pace on record. These extraordinary gains are the direct result of the Fed’s not-so-invisible hand in the financial markets. Betting on the Fed’s ability to move markets higher has clearly been a winning strategy.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Citadel Is Breached: Congress Taps the Fed for Infrastructure Funding

In a landmark infrastructure bill passed in December, Congress finally penetrated the Fed’s “independence” by tapping its reserves and bank dividends for infrastructure funding.

The bill was a start. But some experts, including Congressional candidate Tim Canova, say Congress should go further and authorize funds to be issued for infrastructure directly.

For at least a decade, think tanks, commissions and other stakeholders have fought to get Congress to address the staggering backlog of maintenance, upkeep and improvements required to bring the nation’s infrastructure into the 21st century. Countries with less in the way of assets have overtaken the US in innovation and efficiency, while our dysfunctional Congress has battled endlessly over the fiscal cliff, tax reform, entitlement reform, and deficit reduction.

Both houses and both political parties agree that something must be done, but they have been unable to agree on where to find the funds. Republicans aren’t willing to raise taxes on the rich, and Democrats aren’t willing to cut social services for the poor.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hillary Clinton: A Proven Warmonger

Even considering that no one is fit to be president – in that no one should be able to command a state, which rules by threatening and committing violence against innocents – Hillary Clinton is especially unfit. No one who has done what she has done as a government official should be rewarded with power.

Many things in her career could impose this special disqualification. Her vote for George W. Bush’s criminal and lie-based Iraq war, for example, would be more than enough to rule her out. That political ambition now prompts her to express regret for her vote should count for nothing, especially in light of what is to be discussed below. When she says she learned her lesson, she lies.

Likewise, her declaration of open-season on Syrian President Assad gave a boost to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates.

But if no other horrors were on her record, one should be enough to bar her from office: Libya. It would be hard to find a better example of how one person can wreak havoc on a society and create far-ranging catastrophes beyond.

In 2011 the U.S. government led a NATO air assault on Libya under doubly false pretenses. Falsehood number 1 was that Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was threatening to wipe out hundreds of thousands of residents of Benghazi. As was noted at the time, including by the Defense Intelligence Agency, there was no evidence for this claim and much reason to disbelieve it. Falsehood number 2 was related to the first: that NATO’s mission was to protect civilians when in fact it was to help the rebel opposition overthrow Gaddafi’s government, after which he was murdered extra-judicially by rebels.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Clinton Email Shows that Oil and Gold Were Behind Regime Change In Libya

Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver.

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French. franc (CFA).

(Source Comment [This is in the original declassified email, and is not a comment added by us]: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

  1. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
  2. Increase French influence in North Africa,
  3. Improve his internal political situation in France,
  4. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
  5. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa)

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