A disabled woman who was repeatedly refused benefits by the DWP has died of a heart attack.

The Canary:

May 19th, 2018

A disabled woman from Luton has been found dead in her home after having a “massive heart attack”. Sandra Burns was repeatedly denied Employment Support Allowance (ESA) by the DWP over a five-year period.
Heartbreakingly, her struggle is commonplace in Britain’s benefits system.
Debt and anxiety
Burns was found dead on 16 April, collapsed at the bottom of the stairs in her home. Her brother painted a desperate picture of her death:
She was surrounded by letters informing her that the gas, electricity, water, telephone and television were all in danger of being cut off. This debt and anxiety lay all around her on the floor.
Burns suffered from chronic back pain due to five fused vertebrae, rendering her unable to work since 2010. She failed a number of benefits assessments over a five-year period, but she successfully challenged them all on appeal. In a letter sent to the DWP before her death, she wrote:
I am old school and would still be working if I could do it. Do you think I would be silly enough to do this? I have always worked. Why do they think it’s ok to treat me like this? It’s not acceptable.
Brutal assessments
In response to Burns’ death, the DWP issued the following statement:
Our thoughts are with Ms Burns’ family. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that people get the support they’re entitled to. Assessments are carried out by qualified healthcare professionals who look at how someone’s disability or health condition impacts them on a day-to-day basis.
Currently, the company Independent Assessment Services (IAS) carries out the bulk of assessments. IAS was formerly called Atos Healthcare. Her brother claims Atos:
based their assessment on the fact she could walk the five or six steps of the stairwell to the interview room … She described how one man said, ‘I’ve been watching you walk from the waiting room and as far as I’m concerned, you’re fit for work’.
Burns successfully appealed every negative decision, which challenges the DWP’s claim it is “committed to ensuring that people get the support they are entitled to.”
Unfortunately, Burns’ treatment by the DWP is not remotely surprising. Atos Healthcare, now called IAS, exited its contract to deliver ESA assessments in 2015. However, new provider the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments has continued its shocking legacy. So far in 2017-2018, 68% of the DWP’s negative ESA decisions – based on the assessments the company provides to it – have been reversed upon appeal.
The process of appealing is incredibly stressful for claimants. Burns’ brother described how:
appeals would take six to eight months. Every single time, she won the appeal and got a backdated payment. But in that period, she would get into debt and lose her credit rating.
A former Atos employee recently revealed to the Daily Mirror that assessors were offered financial incentives to finish assessments quickly. This was for the PIP benefit, which covers more severe disabilities. All the while the DWP continues to pay out massive staff bonuses and attempts to coerce GPs into saying disabled people are fit-for-work.
An agenda
In trying to make sense of his sister’s death, Burns’ brother concluded:
It was terrible heartbreak and I just feel it could have all been avoided… everyone is treated as cheats or maybe the DWP have an agenda. Whatever it is, it’s putting people like Sandra under incredible amounts of stress.
If a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, then Tory Britain is failing.
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Donald Trump Declares Trade War on China.

The Trump administration has presented China with an ultimatum on trade. That is what the US’s “draft framework” for the trade talks with Chinese officials in Beijing last week actually is. China could not accede to its demands. The US administration is either so foolish that it does not understand this or so arrogant that it does not care. This may be a decisive moment for relations between the world’s two greatest powers.

The US side demands the following “concrete and verifiable actions”.
China is to reduce the US-China trade imbalance by $100bn in the 12 months beginning June 1 2018, and by another $100bn in the 12 months beginning June 1 2019.
China should also immediately eliminate all “market-distorting subsidies” conducive to excess capacity. It will strengthen intellectual property and eliminate technology-related requirements for joint ventures.
“Furthermore, China agrees to . . . cease the targeting of [US] technology and intellectual property through cyber operations, economic espionage, counterfeiting and piracy. China also agrees to abide by US export control laws.”
Moreover, China will withdraw requests for World Trade Organization consultations relating to tariff actions on intellectual property. “In addition, China will not take any retaliatory action . . .  in response to actions taken or to be taken by the US, including any new US restrictions . . . China immediately will cease all retaliatory actions currently being pursued.”

China “will not oppose, challenge, or . . . retaliate against US imposition of restrictions on investments from China in sensitive US technology sectors or sectors critical to US national security”. But “US investors in China must be afforded fair, effective and non-discriminatory market access and treatment, including removal of . . . foreign investment restrictions and foreign ownership/shareholding requirements”.
By July 1 2020, China will reduce tariffs in “non-critical sectors to levels that are no higher than” equivalent US tariffs. It will also open access to services and farm products as the US specifies.
The agreement is to be monitored quarterly. Should the US conclude that China is not in compliance, it may impose tariffs or import restrictions. China “will not oppose, challenge or take any form of action against” any such US impositions. China will also withdraw its WTO complaint that it is not being treated as a market economy.

What is to be made of these demands? The call for a reduction of the bilateral deficits by $200bn (up from $100bn) is ridiculous. It would require the Chinese state to take control over the economy — precisely what, in other respects, the US demands it not do.
It is a violation of the principles of non-discrimination, multilateralism and market-conformity that underpin the trading system the US created. It should be ashamed of itself. It ignores the overwhelming probability that this will not reduce overall US deficits, particularly given US fiscal irresponsibility. It ignores the inevitable adverse effects on third countries.

The demand that China have exactly the same tariffs as the US is almost as ridiculous. There is no economic case for such a policy. It would be far more reasonable to demand that it move towards the same average tariff as the US or EU.
A serious discussion should indeed be had on the terms of foreign investment in China and Chinese investment in the US. So, too, must there be a discussion of intellectual property protection and cyber-espionage. But China could never accept the idea that the US may prevent it from upgrading its technology.
The notion that the US may insist on unrestricted access for investment in China while reserving the right to restrict Chinese investment, as it wishes, must also be unacceptable.
Finally, the idea that the US will be judge, jury and executioner, while China will be deprived of the rights to retaliate or seek recourse to the WTO is crazy. No great sovereign power could accept such a humiliation. For China, it would be a modern version of the “unequal treaties” of the 19th century.

The Americans seem sure they can force the Chinese to sue for terms, how ever foolish and humiliating these are. China would indeed be hurt more by a tit-for-tat tariff war than the US. This is because its exports to the US dwarf those from the US to China.
A recent analysis from the Hoover Institution suggests that China’s economic growth might be reduced by 0.3 percentage points in a tariff war. That is far more costly than to the US, but it would be survivable for an economy as dynamic as China’s. To China’s leaders, such costs would be dwarfed by those of abject surrender.
Both economically and politically, the US is going about this in the wrong way, not only because it is seeking to humiliate China, but because it is simultaneously waging commercial war on its potential allies. The right path for everybody would be to make the discussion multilateral, not narrowly bilateral.
China should recognise that, though still a developing country in some respects, it is also a superpower. It should embrace the principles of rules-governed openness and liberal trade. A renewal of the lapsed multilateral trade negotiation, built around opening up the Chinese economy, could, as the Chinese say, be a “win-win” for everybody. China should take the lead. The Europeans and Japanese should support the idea.
Americans who are better aware of the national interest than the administration need to understand that the US will find itself on its own if it seeks conflict. That is what must happen when a leader turns into a self-regarding bully.

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I Know Which Country the U.S. Will Invade Next..

Hint: It’s all about the banking

by Lee Camp

https://www.truthdig.com (May 02 2018)

By the end of this column, it will be clear which country the United States will invade and topple next. Or failing that, it will be clear which country our military-intelligence-industrial complex will be aching to invade next.

We all want to know why America does what it does. And I don’t mean why Americans do what we do. I think that question still will be pondered eons from now by a future professor showing his students a video mind-meld of present-day UFC fighters booting each other in the head while thrilled onlookers cheer (not for either of the fighters but rather for more booting in the head).

But we all seem to assume that America – the entity, the corporation – has some sort of larger reasoning behind the actions it takes, the actions put forward by the ruling elite. And almost all of us know that the reasons we’re given by the press secretaries and caricature-shaped heads on the nightly news are the ripest, most fetid grade of bullshit.

We now know that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the crushing of Libya had nothing to do with “stopping a bad man”. If one does even a cursory check of what dictators around the world are up to recently, you’ll find that the US doesn’t care in the slightest whether they are bad or good, whether they’re using their free time to kill thousands of innocent people or to harmonize their rock garden. In fact, the US gives military aid to seventy percent of the world’s dictators. (One would hope that’s only around the holidays though.)

So if it’s not for the stated reasons, why does the US overrun, topple, and sometimes occupy the countries it does? Obviously, there are oil resources or rare minerals to be had. But there’s something else that links almost all of our recent wars.

As The Guardian reported near the beginning of the Iraq War, “In October 2000, Iraq insisted on dumping the US dollar – the currency of the enemy – for the more multilateral euro”.

However, one example does not make a trend. If it did, I would be a world-renowned beer pong champion rather than touting a 1-27 record. (I certainly can’t go pro with those numbers.)

But there’s more. Soon after Libya began moving toward an African gold-based currency – and lining up all its African neighbours to join it – we invaded it as well, with the help of Nato. Author Ellen Brown pointed this out at the time of the invasion:

[Moammar Gadhafi] initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar.

John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2016), also has said that the true reason for the attack on Libya was Gadhafi’s move away from the dollar and the euro.

This week, The Intercept reported that the ousting of Gadhafi, which was in many ways led by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, actually had to do with Sarkozy secretly receiving millions from Gadhafi, and it seemed that his corruption was about to be revealed. But, the article also noted, “[Sarkozy’s] real military zeal and desire for regime change came only after [Hillary] Clinton and the Arab League broadcasted their desire to see [Gadhafi] go”. And the fact that Gadhafi was planning to upend the petrodollar in Africa certainly provides the motivation necessary. (It doesn’t take much to get the US excited about a new bombing campaign. I’m pretty sure we invaded Madagascar once in the 1970s because they smoked our good weed.)

Right now you may be thinking, “But, Lee, your theory is ridiculous. If these invasions were about the banking, then the rebels in Libya – getting help from Nato and the United States – would have set up a new banking system after bringing down Gadhafi”.

Actually, they didn’t wait that long. In the middle of the brutal war, the Libyan rebels formed their own central bank.

Brown said, “Several writers have noted the odd fact that the Libyan rebels took time out from their rebellion in March to create their own central bank – this before they even had a government”.

Wow, that sure does sound like it’s all about the banking.

Many of you know about General Wesley Clark’s famous quote about seven countries in five years. Clark is a four-star general, the former head of Nato Supreme Allied Command, and he ran for president in 2008 (clearly he’s an underachiever). But it’s quite possible that 100 years from now, the one thing he’ll be remembered for is the fact that he told us that the Pentagon said to him in 2002:

We’re going to take down seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan. We’re going to come back and get Iran in five years.

Most of this has happened. We have, of course, added some countries to the list, such as Yemen. We’re helping to destroy Yemen largely to make Saudi Arabia happy. Apparently, our government/media care only about Syrian children (in order to justify regime change). We couldn’t care less about Yemeni children, Iraqi children, Afghan children, Palestinian children, North Korean children, Somali children, Flint (Michigan) children, Baltimore children, Native American children, Puerto Rican children, Na’vi children … oh wait, I think that’s from “Avatar”. Was that fiction? My memories and 3-D movies are starting to blur together.

Brown goes even further in her analysis of Clark’s bombshell:

What do these seven countries have in common? … None of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (“BIS”). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland. The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked.

What I’m trying to say is: It’s all about the banking.

So right now you’re thinking, “But, Lee, then why is the US so eager to turn Syria into a failed state if Syria never dropped the dollar? Your whole stupid theory falls apart right there.”

First, I don’t appreciate your tone. Second, in February 2006, Syria dropped the dollar as its primary hard currency.

I think I’m noticing a trend. In fact, on January 4, it was reported that Pakistan was ditching the dollar in its trade with China, and that same day, the US placed it on the watch list for religious freedom violations. The same day? Are we really supposed to believe that it just so happened that Pakistan stopped using the dollar with China on the same day it started punching Christians in the nose for no good reason? No, clearly Pakistan had violated our religion of cold hard cash.

This leaves only one question: Who will be next on the list of US illegal invasions cloaked in bullshit justifications? Well, last week, Iran finally did it: It switched from the dollar to the euro. And sure enough, this week, the US military-industrial complex, the corporate media, and Israel all got together to claim that Iran is lying about its nuclear weapons development. What are the odds that this news would break within days of Iran dropping the dollar? What. Are. The. Odds?

The one nice thing about our corporate state’s manufacturing of consent is how predictable it is. We will now see the mainstream media running an increasing number of reports pushing the idea that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and is trying to develop nuclear weapons (which are WMDs, but for some strange reason, our media are shying away from saying, “They have WMDs”). Here’s a 2017 PBS article claiming that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism. One must assume this list of terror sponsors does not include the country that made the arms that significantly enhanced Islamic State’s military capabilities. (It’s the US.)

Or the country that drops hundreds of bombs per day on the Middle East. (It’s the US.) But those bombs don’t cause any terror. Those are the happy bombs, clearly. Apparently, we just drop 1995 Richard Simmons down on unsuspecting people.

Point is, as we watch our pathetic corporate media continue their manufacturing of consent for war with Iran, don’t fall for it. These wars are all about the banking. And millions of innocent people are killed in them. Millions more have their lives destroyed.

You and I are just pawns in this game, and the last thing the ruling elite want are pawns who question the official narrative.


Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show “Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp” on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for The Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for twenty years.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it, and check out Lee Camp’s free weekly podcast, “Common Censored” at http://apple.co/2KbZfAc.


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Events Today Could Lead to the Last War in the History of Mankind

Veteran Putin General Warns

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (April 08 2018)

The fallout from the Salisbury nerve agent attack reminds us of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the most immediate catalyst – of many parallel narrative and sequences of events – that ultimately resulted in World War One. We are not alone in this reasoning, as one high-level retired Russian general warns the Salisbury poisoning could lead to the “last war in the history of mankind”.

Retired Lieutenant-General Evgeny Buzhinsky – who served in the Russian Armed Forces for more than forty years – said relations between Russia and Washington could become “worse” than the climax of the Cold War and “end up in a very, very bad outcome” following the nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom.

More than 150 Russian diplomats have been expelled from 25 countries – including 23 from the United Kingdom since western nations accused Russia of being the sole actor responsible for using deadly chemical weapons on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in their Salisbury home.

Buzhinsky, who is now the senior vice president of the Russian Centre for Policy Studies (“PIR Centre”), told BBC Radio Today program:

Please, when you say the world, you mean EU and United States and some other countries … you see it’s a cold war, it’s worse than the Cold War because if the situation will develop in the way this (is) now, I’m afraid that it will end up in a very, very bad outcome.

Nicholas Robinson, a British presenter on the BBC’s Today program pressed Buzhinsky on what he meant by “worse than a cold war”, to which the Retired Russian Lieutenant-General responded with this bombshell: today’s current situation is spiralling out of control and could develop into a “real war”.

The Daily Express shares a chilling transcript of Buzhinsky’s conversation on BBC:

He said: “Worse than a cold war is a real war. It will be the last war in the history of the mankind.”

“Not the Salisbury poisoning but all the actions”.

“You see the pressure from the United States, that you say the pressure is going to continue, what are you going to achieve? You are going to achieve the regime change, it’s useless. You don’t know Russians. The more external pressure, the more the society is solidified around the President.”

When asked how the dispute would lead to a real war, Mr Buzhinsky accused the UK of not wanting to discuss the Salisbury attack.

“Let’s start discussing”, he said. “You don’t want to discuss. You say Russia should change its behaviour, it’s not the kind of talk or compromise we need.

“Okay, you expelled diplomats. We expelled diplomats. You further expel, what is the next step? The breach of diplomatic relations.”

“After that, I said it may lead to nowhere. Actually, you are cornering Russia. To corner Russia is a very dangerous thing.”

Mr Buzhinsky claimed it was “nonsense” Russia was behind the attack as President Vladimir Putin had no benefit out of the attack, which took place before the Russian Presidential election. The comments come after Mr Putin’s foreign minister accused Theresa May of “resorting to open lies”.

He said: “I believe that our Western partners, I mean primarily the United Kingdom, the United States, and some countries that blindly follow them, have cast away all decency, they are resorting to open lies, blatant misinformation”.

Between cold, proxy and trade wars, as time moves on in the Trump era, it seems like the world has gone haywire. While history tends not to repeat itself – but rather rhymes – the fatalistic opinion of a veteran Russian expert and observer such as Buzhinsky has to be taken seriously. We can only hope that his forecast for a “last war” is wrong.


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Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War

by Colin Todhunter

Information Clearing House (April 05 2018)

In Libya, Nato bombed a path to Tripoli to help its proxy forces on the ground oust Gaddafi. Tens of thousands lost their lives and that country’s social fabric and infrastructure now lies in ruins. Gaddafi was murdered and his plans to assert African independence and undermine Western (not least French) hegemony on that continent have been rendered obsolete.

In Syria, the US, Turkey, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have been helping to arm militants. The Daily Telegraph’s March 2013 article, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’ “, reported that 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia had been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels. The New York Times March 2013 article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With CIA Aid”, stated that Arab governments and Turkey had sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters. This aid included more than 160 military cargo flights.

Sold under the notion of a spontaneous democratic uprising against a tyrannical political leader, Syria is little more than an illegal war for capital, empire, and energy. The West and its allies have been instrumental in organising the war as elaborated by Tim Anderson in his book The Dirty War on Syria (2016).

Over the last fifteen years or so, politicians and the media have been manipulating popular sentiment to get an increasingly war-fatigued Western public to support ongoing wars under the notion of protecting civilians or a bogus “war on terror”. They spin a yarn about securing women’s rights or a war on terror in Afghanistan, removing despots from power in Iraq, Libya, or Syria, or protecting human life, while then going on to attack or help destabilise countries, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.

Emotive language designed to instil fear about potential terror attacks in Europe or myths about humanitarianism intervention is used as a pretext to wage imperialist wars in mineral-rich countries and geostrategically important regions.

Part of the battle for the public’s hearts and minds is to keep people confused. They must be convinced to regard these wars and conflicts as a disconnected array of events and not as the planned machinations of empire. The ongoing disinformation narrative about Russian aggression is part of the strategy. Ultimately, Russia (and China) is the real and increasingly imminent target: Moscow has stood in the way of the West’s plans in Syria and both Russia and China are undermining the role of the dollar in international trade, a lynchpin of US power.

The countries of the West are effectively heading for war with Russia but relatively few among the public seem to know or even care. Many are oblivious to the slaughter that has already been inflicted on populations with the help of their taxes and governments in far-away lands. With the reckless neoconservative warmonger John Bolton now part of the Trump administration, it seems we could be hurtling towards major war much faster than previously thought.

Most of the public remains blissfully ignorant of the psy-ops being directed at them through the corporate media. Given recent events in the UK and the ramping up of anti-Russia rhetoric, if ordinary members of the public think that Theresa May or Boris Johnson ultimately have their best interests at heart, they should think again. The major transnational corporations based on Wall Street and in the City of London are the ones setting Anglo-US policy agendas often via the Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, International Crisis Group, Chatham House, et al.

The owners of these companies, the capitalist class, have offshored millions of jobs as well as their personal and company tax liabilities to boost their profits and have bankrupted economies. We see the results in terms of austerity, unemployment, powerlessness, privatization, deregulation, banker control of economies, corporate control of food and seeds, the stripping away of civil liberties, increased mass surveillance, and wars to grab mineral resources and ensure US dollar hegemony. These are the interests the politicians serve.

It’s the ability to maximise profit by shifting capital around the world that matters to this class, whether on the back of distorted free trade agreements, which open the gates for plunder, or through coercion and militarism, which merely tear them down.

Whether it is the structural violence of neoliberal economic policies or actual military violence, the welfare of ordinary folk around the world does not enter the equation. In an imposed oil-thirsty, war-driven system of globalised capitalism and over-consumption that is wholly unnecessary and is stripping the planet bare, the bottom line is that ordinary folk – whether workers in the West, farmers in India, or civilians displaced en masse in war zones like Syria – must be bent according to the will of Western capital.

We should not be fooled by made-for-media outpourings of morality about good and evil that are designed to create fear, outrage, and support for more militarism and resource-grab wars. The shaping of public opinion is a multi-million-dollar industry.

Take for instance the mass harvesting of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica to shape the outcomes of the US election and the Brexit campaign. According to journalist Liam O’Hare, its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (“SCL”) has conducted “behavioural change” programmes in over sixty countries and its clients have included the British Military of Defence, the US State Department, and Nato. According to O’Hare, the use of the media to fool the public is one of SCL’s key selling points.

Among its activities in Europe have been campaigns targeting Russia. The company has “sweeping links” with Anglo-American political and military interests. In the UK, the interests of the governing Conservative Party and military-intelligence players are brought together via SCL: board members include “an array of Lords, Tory donors, ex-British army officers, and defence contractors”.

O’Hare says it is clear is that all SCL’s activities have been inextricably linked to its Cambridge Analytica arm. He states: “International deception and meddling is the name of the game for SCL. We finally have the most concrete evidence yet of shadowy actors using dirty tricks in order to rig elections. But these operators aren’t operating from Moscow … they are British, Eton educated, headquartered in the City of London, and have close ties to Her Majesty’s government”

So, what are we to make of the current anti-Russia propaganda we witness regarding the nerve agent incident in Salisbury and the failure of the British government to provide evidence to demonstrate Russian culpability? The relentless accusations by Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have been parroted across the corporate media in the West indicate that the manipulation of public perception is everything and facts count for little. It is alarming given what is at stake – the escalation of conflict between the West and a major nuclear power.

Welcome to the world of mass deception a la Edward Bernays and Josef Goebbels.

US social commentator Walter Lippmann once said that “responsible men” make decisions and have to be protected from the “bewildered herd” – the public. He added that the public should be subdued, obedient, and distracted from what is really happening. Screaming patriotic slogans and fearing for their lives, they should be admiring with awe leaders who save them from destruction.

Although the West’s political leaders are manipulating, subduing, and distracting the public in true Lippmannesque style, they aren’t “saving” anyone from anything: their reckless actions towards Russia could lead towards a war that could wipe out all life on the planet.


Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Information Clearing House.

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Bolton the Doors…

… Mind that Johnson, the Neocons Are Coming

by Robert Bridge

Strategic Culture Foundation (March 27 2018)

The designation of John Bolton as US National Security Advisor, in addition to the State Department being taken over by the CIA, sends an unmistakable signal that the Trump administration is gearing up for some serious mischief in the Middle East.

In an ongoing administrative shakeup that has witnessed a number of controversial Trump appointees of late, including former CIA chief Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State, and Gina Haspel, who ran a CIA “black site” prison in Thailand that used “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture), as the new CIA chief, the most ominous is undoubtedly the decision to replace H R McMaster with John Bolton as the National Security Adviser.

At a time of high dudgeon in international affairs, Bolton is not the fire extinguisher the world so desperately needs, but rather an incendiary. Indeed, the former UN ambassador has had a direct hand in some of the most egregious US foreign policy moves in recent history, including appeals for regime change in Iraq, Libya, Iran. and Syria. According to the warped worldview of Mr Bolton, the best form of diplomacy is to be found at the sharp end of a missile strike, and to hell with the atomic fallout.

In a March 2015 opinion piece in The New York Times, with a headline that says it all (“To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”), Bolton rebuked former US President Barack Obama for his “frantic efforts to reach agreement with Iran”. One need not read between the lines in what comes next to understand that Bolton is diametrically opposed to any sort of diplomacy with Tehran.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required”, Bolton wrote.

Then, speaking about “rendering inoperable” the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment centres, he boasted that the US military “could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary”.

Incidentally, that comment is frightfully similar to how Mike Pompeo, the new secretary of state, blithely spoke about an attack on Iran in 2014.

“In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity”, Pompeo, then serving as House member, told a group of reporters. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces”.

Destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to Dr John Strangelove Bolton is just the first step of a program that would include “vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran”.

Bolton also paid lip service to a conspiracy theory, based on a “leaked” UN document (which has yet to see the light of day, by the way), which promotes the idea that North Korea is sending chemical weapon material to Syria in a program that is being financed by Iran. Thus, in one felled swoop, three of the West’s newest candidates for regime change Syria, North Korea, and Iran, are scooped up in a net stitched out of the yarn that Syria has an addiction to chemical weapons. If the charges sound preposterous, that’s because they are.

To believe for an atomic nanosecond that Syrian President Bashar Assad, who oversees a relatively respectable military complex, would have anything to do with chemical weapons at this crucial juncture in his political career – especially with the Russian military on his side – is patently absurd. Moreover, why does the West rush to blame Damascus for every chemical attack that happens in Syria (with the White Helmets conveniently on-site to film the aftermath) when it is the rag-tag rebels and terrorists who, bereft of any modern military arsenal, would be the ones most expected to resort to such barbaric, desperate tactics, and not least of all for the purpose of drawing the Western powers into the fray on their side? As some famous Greek once said, “To ask the question is to answer it”.

Meanwhile, even before the unholy triumvirate of Pompeo, Haspel, and Bolton have been formally embedded into Team Trump, the world must endure the pitiful spectacle of US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, regularly screeching about obliterating anything that bears the slightest resemblance to a sovereign state.

She even had the supreme audacity to speak about Washington’s readiness to “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there”.

But these fiercely aggressive birds known as hawks are not just native to the febrile climate of Washington, DC. This arrogant bird of prey can also be found as far east as the United Kingdom where it has perched in the House of Commons ever since Tony Blair made a hellacious pact with George W Bush to join the jolly little fight known as the “war on terror”.

Just this month, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, was the target of a suspected assassination attempt in Salisbury, UK the military town where he moved following a spy-swap in 2010. After a brief investigation, UK British Prime Minister Theresa May swiftly blamed Russia for Skripal’s illness. Her argument was that since Mr Skripal had been targeted by a nerve agent called “novichok”, a chemical that had been produced in the Soviet Union, specifically in Uzbekistan, then it stood to reason that Russia was the culprit. Such an argument would be laughed out of any court of law.

Moreover, when Moscow requested samples of the agent from London, which, as a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (“OPCW”) it was required to do, London balked. At the same time, no good motive can be found to explain why Russia would want to remove a has-been spy – with a traceable nerve agent, of all things – just a few weeks before presidential elections and the opening of the World Cup.

“He was handed in to Britain as a result of an exchange, said Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary, in an exclusive interview with RT.

So, why should Russia hand in a man that is of any importance or that is of any value? It’s unimaginable. If he’s handed in – so Russia quits with him. He’s of zero value or zero importance.

Amid this outright mockery of the justice system, the buffoonery of Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary looked right at home. Instead of producing something the West no longer defers to in criminal cases known as “evidence”, the best Johnson could do was conjure up warmed-over cliches and compare Russia with Nazi Germany.

“I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right. It is an emetic prospect to think of Putin glorifying in this sporting event”, he told the Foreign Affairs Committee.

After he was done with his Hitler rant, Johnson speculated as to why Russia would do such a thing.

“The timing (of the Salisbury attack) is probably more closely connected with the recent election in Russia”, he said. “And as many non-democratic figures do when facing an election or facing some critical political moment, it is often attractive to conjure up in the public imagination the notion of an enemy”.

With Putin’s popularity higher than any Western leader, Johnson’s explanation was wide of the mark.

One last word in closing with regards to the Skripal case that many observers seem to have overlooked. Around the time Mr Skripal was targeted for assassination, purportedly by the Russians, back in the United States the House Intelligence Committee was announcing there had been no collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. Such an announcement was anticipated as early as February. Aside from this being an unacceptable embarrassment for the Democratic Party, not to mention the establishment, which some have taken to calling the “deep state”, it also meant that Russia, as well as Donald Trump, would be cleared of the egregious charges. Clearly, some kind of diversionary tactic would have been welcomed.

Was the attack on Sergei Skripal, in fact, an effort to deflect attention away from the faltering “RussiaGate” case, as well as to keep the anti-Russia propaganda ball bouncing? As for a motivating factor, one need look no further than Russia’s gas contracts with European countries, a lucrative business that at least one global superpower would like more than anything to control. If there is one thing the Neocons like more than war it’s money. Follow the money.

Photo: washingtonpost.com


Posted in Uncategorized

Israel Just Lost American Jews

by Philip Weiss

The Unz Review (April 05 2018)

David Rothkopf, photo by Christopher Leaman

It finally happened. In the last day or so, major mainstream voices condemned Israel’s shootings of unarmed Palestinian protesters on March 30, in which seventeen were killed.

Chris Hayes did it on MSNBC last night. “A frankly unconscionable use of force”. Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC called out the racism in the media’s indifference to the killings. David Rothkopf of the Carnegie Endowment questioned Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. The New York Times, The Washington Post and J Street all criticized the murders (albeit with equivocations), while on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show, Cornel West said Martin Luther King Jr would have spoken out against Israel’s “massacre” in Gaza, and Brian Lehrer, an Israel supporter who regularly hosts neoconservatives, did not seek to contradict West.

Why did the dam break and what does it mean?

It happened because the left is applying all the force here, largely through social media; and the rightwing advocates are silent. Bill Kristol, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Jennifer Rubin seem to have taken one look at the awful videos from Gaza and, finding the Israeli actions indefensible, turned back to Trump.

It is hugely meaningful: The American Jewish love affair with Israel is over. We are going to see more and more outright signs of the breakup in the discourse and in our politics too in coming years.

Let’s consider the dynamics first. The mainstream editorials appeared only after social media, alt websites, and human rights groups said emphatically for several days what was plain as the nose on your face: that these were war crimes. And more important, the mainstream spoke after seeing there was no pushback from the Zionist center/right.

The Onion did as much for the narrative as anyone. “Teen On Birthright Trip Hadn’t Expected To See So Many Dead Palestinians”, it mocked. The Onion‘s fictitious young Jew, Sarah Caplan, said she was “surprised that there were so many people her age in the Israeli Defense Forces killing Palestinians”.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem condemned the shootings as crimes the day they happened. Four days later, Human Rights Watch called the killings “unlawful” and “calculated”, and said the soldiers fired because of a “longstanding culture of impunity”.

Then Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch threatened to prosecute Israeli officials for war crimes.

Israel, we will be watching & documenting what you do in Gaza on Friday. Domestic impunity won’t protect you from prosecution abroad.

IfNotNow, the non-Zionist Jewish group, did not need to be told these were murders. It led demonstrations at the Israeli consulate in Boston on Tuesday, at which eight young Jews were arrested for saying the killings go against the spirit of Passover, and at the offices of a New York Jewish establishment group last night:

The group called on the URJ [the Union for Reform Judaism], the largest denomination of American Jewry – which has taken bold progressive positions against gun violence and Israel’s mistreatment of liberal Jews, among other issues – to condemn the shocking murders of Palestinian protesters by the IDF.

Some voices in high places spoke out. Mohyeldin of NBC hit the racist blind spot in the mainstream coverage of Gaza:

It’s not just a double standard among liberals & progressives… ask yourself what the mainstream media coverage would have been like if 15 Israelis were killed? This conflict will never be solved so long as the public & politicians remain misinformed & uninformed

After Rula Jebreal wrote, “The 1-state reality…is gun practice to liquidate humans rights, ultimately killing Israeli democracy”, David Rothkopf responded eloquently,

Until every resident of the land over which Israel enforces control has equal rights and protections under the law it’s not a democracy.

Rothkopf is as Jewish establishment as they come. The former head of Foreign Policy magazine, he once tarred Walt and Mearsheimer as gentile anti-Semites (“they made a cynical decision to cash in on anti-Semitism by offering to dress up old hatreds in the dowdy Brooks Brothers suits of the Kennedy School and the University of Chicago”). But Rothkopf was enraged:

Israel’s brutal treatment of the demonstrators in Gaza … and Gaza itself … is the anti-Passover. It represents the height of hypocrisy: A supposedly Jewish state violating the most basic concepts of the religion in order to defend its “right to exist”.

Notice his sarcasm about a mantra Israel supporters have tried to shove down our throats forever: its right to exist.

The most important element of the reaction to the massacre was the fact that the neocons and rightwing loudmouths were quiet. They know they cannot defend Israel’s conduct, so they sat on their hands. Bill Kristol is silent. Jeffrey Goldberg silent. Jennifer Rubin silent. Bret Stephens silent. Bari Weiss silent. Tamara Cofman Wittes, silent.

The usual chorus of very connected mainstream hooligans who campaign for Israel in the press and on television was dumbfounded. They don’t understand why Israel did this, they just wish it would go away. (And they can all say that they have bigger fish to fry: Trump. But it must tear them up that Netanyahu loves Trump.)

Their silence left the field to Bernie Sanders, for his good statement on the killings – including to Jake Tapper on TV. Followed by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota:

I am horrified by the tragic wounding & killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza last Friday. Attacks on peaceful Palestinian protesters must end, and the US & the international community must do more to support a resolution to the conflict.

Ari Fleischer is surely right when he observes that progressive Democrats are beginning to turn against Israel:

Democrats – welcome to what your party has become. (1) It’s not a protest when you cross a sovereign border. It’s an invasion. (2) The Democrats used to support Israel. Now, many of them don’t.

Liberal media is responsive to these stirrings. This week there were finally outspoken Palestinian voices on the most important platforms. Diana Buttu had an op-ed in The Washington Post saying, It’s “time to crack down on Israel”.

As the United States and the EU continue to try to appease Israel, Palestinians pay the price – with their lives.

Rawan Yaghi got an op-ed in The New York Times, with a wrenching description of a visit to the protests on Sunday:

I left the protest thinking of the rest of Gaza – shellshocked for years, its borders closed and its United Nations-funded infrastructure in decay. I thought of the kids in my neighborhood who play football in what used to be the ground floor of a tall residential building, with bare concrete columns and poking iron rods as their only audience. And I thought: Once again, Gaza the Injured has come out to protest, and to scream for life.

So the left was dominating the commentary on the massacre, and mainstream voices finally spoke up.

The New York Times ended its three-day silence on the killings with an editorial that had unusually sharp language for Israel. The Israeli ambassador to the UN was angered. Though the Times typically framed the matter as a crisis for Israel, with the headline, “Israel Courts Catastrophe in Gaza Protests”, it dared to pronounce that Israel should “not use live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators”.

Israel’s response appears to have been excessive, as human rights groups have asserted.

A godawful Washington Post editorial said that Israel fell into Hamas’s “trap” by killing so many Palestinians. But it conceded that Israel had suffered “a moral and political blow”.

J Street ended its three-day silence with a statement putting blame on Palestinians and Hamas, but noting the “disturbingly high number of casualties”.

We urge the Israeli government and IDF to exercise maximum possible restraint and to use non-lethal force in such situations. We are dismayed that members of the Israeli government have already dismissed out of hand calls to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of these events.

And last night Chris Hayes broke his silence with a segment denouncing the shooting of 750 Palestinians. “Yes, that is a correct number”. After the usual disclaimers about Palestinian extremism, he said that that “in no way justifies what Israeli soldiers appear to have done, which is perch on a hill and pick off protesters with sniper fire”. They “rained down bullets on unarmed people, again and again and agai..” Then Hayes called out the “vast number of Congressmen” who have said nothing against the massacre.

Yes, Hayes was late, but he knows the story. He and Mohyeldin work for a network that is run by a man (David Cohen) who threw fundraisers for the Israeli army, and that is chaired by a man (Brian Roberts) “known for his affinity for Israel”. Jake Tapper works for a network whose marketing exec wrote speeches for Netanyahu.

My headline says that American Jews are done with Israel. The deluge is coming. Ten years ago Max Blumenthal came out as an anti-Zionist at rallies for the Israeli massacre of the moment, and it was shocking. Today David Rothkopf comes out as an anti-Zionist, and we all get it. So much has happened since Cast Lead of 2008~2009. One massacre after another, that ravening Israeli Jews fully approved. American Jews are not going to hold the bag any more.


Thanks to Ofer Neiman, Allison Deger, Scott Roth, Bob Herbst, and James North.

Republished from MondoWeiss by permission of author or representative


Posted in Uncategorized