Friday, December 25, 2015

Just Before Passing Surveillance Expansion, Lawmakers Partied With Pro-CISA Lobbyists  (Moslems Defending Christians? WWJD?)  Happy Holidays!

Just Before Passing Surveillance Expansion, Lawmakers Partied With Pro-CISA Lobbyists

Lee Fang
December 24 2015
The night before Congress passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a broad expansion of surveillance power in America, legislators attended a party with the chief lobbyists for the bill.
Last Thursday, Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., along with a number of other lawmakers, went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s famously lavish Christmas party.

The next morning, on December 18, the senators voted to pass the omnibus spending bill that included a version of CISA that guts privacy protections and creates new channels for both government agencies and private businesses to share information with the National Security Agency and law enforcement.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents dozens of Fortune 500 companies and serves as the biggest lobby group in Washington, acted as the chief private sector advocate for CISA. Congressional records show the group’s lobbyists testified in both the House and Senate on behalf of the bill, and helped corral a number of other trade associations to build support for its passage.

Big business interests support CISA because the bill provided liability protection for corporations that share information with the government, an exchange that business interests hope will shift some of the burden for cybersecurity issues.

The risks for privacy run deep, however. The latest version of CISA that passed Congress strips privacy protections and allows information unrelated to cybersecurity risks to be shared with government agencies. Yet the chamber has been less concerned with privacy and more interested in developing a close relationship with intelligence agencies.

At a summit to help pass CISA last year, Ann Beauchesne, the chamber’s lead CISA lobbyist, got up and asked NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers how the Chamber of Commerce could “be helpful to you?” She pledged a renewed lobbying effort even — as "The Intercept" previously notedsuggesting a viral marketing campaign to build public support akin to the “ALS ice bucket challenge.”

Moslems Defending Christians Against the CIA/Mossad

22 December 2015

The Al-Shabaab terrorist above grew up in Alabama. He is the son of a white American lady called Debra Hadley.He calls himself Omar Hammami.

On 22 December 2015, we read that a group of CIA-Mossad terrorists attacked a bus.

The Christians on the bus escaped after the Muslim passengers on board the bus said "shoot us all or not at all."

The terrorists were the CIA-Mossad's Al-Shabaab who stormed the bus in Kenya.

The CIA-Mossad terrorists demanded that the Muslims and Christians split into two separate groups.

But the Muslims refused to distinguish themselves from the Christians.

The CIA-Mossad terrorists then gave up.

Mandera Bus Attack:  Muslims Shield Christian Passengers in Kenya

The 'Al-Shabaab terrorist' above was born in Wisconsin in the USA. He calls himself Jehad Serwan Mostafa. He was put in charge of terrorist activity in East Africa by Osama bin Laden. It is possible that there is an original Jehad (a "Kind, Peaceful Man") and a Mossad double.

After the Kenyan bus incident, a Muslim said:  'We gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily. We stuck together tightly.

'The militants threatened to shoot us but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters. Finally they gave up."

Two people were killed when the terrorists initially sprayed the bus with gunfire, before entering the bus.

This Al-Shabaab leader is a white German called Andreas Muller.

Al-Shabaab is part of the CIA-Mossad's al Qaeda.

Over the years, Al-Shabaab has killed large numbers of Muslims.

Mandera bus attack:  Muslims shield Christian passengers in Kenya

It is believed that a number of top people in the Kenyan government work for the CIA and its friends.

The CIA and its friends want to cause havoc in Kenya and the surrounding area so that they can then exercise control.

Nigerian church at Christmas 2011. The CIA and its friends are trying to destabilise Nigeria. Nigeria is reported to be used as a major drug transit and money laundering centre for the proceeds of the CIA drug trade. (CIA Agents & Nigeria.)

In Indonesia, Moslems always PROTECT churches from attacks by the militias of the CIA-Mossad.

My Moslem friends always wish me Merry Christmas.

I once visited a Christian church in Indonesia which had been attacked by assets of the CIA, who were trying to topple President Suharto.

The church was right next to a large military base.

In Cyprus I saw mosques and churches which had been attacked by assets of the CIA, as a prelude to the invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish military, who were working for Kissinger.

It is only the sex-mad-fascist feudal lords in Brunei who BAN Christmas and threaten Muslims celebrating it with prison

Christmas in Jakarta - Website for this image

Over the Christmas period, in Indonesia, millions of Moslems will be protecting both Christians and churches.

During a previous Christmas, H.M. Nuruzzaman, of the world's biggest Moslem organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, said a total of 2.6 million Moslems were prepared for the deployment.

Indonesia Muslims Protect Xmas

Churches have been protected by Moslem volunteers against attacks by mysterious forces, said to be linked to members of the Indonesian military, linked to the CIA and Mossad.



19 people were killed and scores injured in a series of attacks on churches on Christmas Eve in 2000.

In February 2001, the respected Indonesian newsweekly Tempo published a cover story suggesting links between the church bombings and the Indonesian military, the TNI.

The article pointed out that Edi Sugiarto, who was quickly arrested and confessed to assembling 15 of the bombs used in the town of Medan, has long run a car repair shop.

Members of TNI and Indonesia’s special forces, Kopassus, regularly went to his shop for repairs and just to hang out.

It is believed that Sugiarto was working for the Indonesian military.

Phone records also indicated that Sugiarto called Fauzi Hasbi seven times before the bombings.

Hasbi is a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, but Tempo outed him as an Indonesian government agent.

In 2005, two years after Hasbi’s death, the Australian television program SBS Dateline provided additional evidence of Hasbi’s long-time links to the TNI.

Fasbi also called Jacob Tanwijaya, a businessman well connected with the TNI, 35 times.

That businessman in turn talked on the phone to Lt. Col. Iwan Prilianto, a Kopassus special forces intelligence officer, over 70 times.

(Source:  Kopassus)

In Indonesia, the special forces regiment, Kopassus, works closely with Mossad (MOSSAD IN INDONESIA) and the American military.

There is evidence linking Kopassus to attacks on Christian churches in Indonesia.

"The most vicious combined operation of Coker (Chrtistian gangsters) and Kopassus was the attack on the village of Soya...

"22 houses were destroyed by fire, as well as the historic church of Soya built during Portuguese times and 12 people were killed.

"The Soya bloodbath created new tensions between Muslim and Christian communities.

"It is now clear that the attack was not the work of Muslim warriors as was thought at the time but an attack by a Christian militia gang together with Kopassus units."

(aangirfan:  The 'terrorism' is often linked to Christian gangsters ...)

The CIA's Allen Pope during his trial in Jakarta, 28 December 1959.

The CIA secretly bombed Christians in Indonesia, in order to topple President Sukarno.

On 15 May 1958, a CIA plane bombed the Ambon marketplace, killing a large number of civilians on their way to church on Ascension Thursday.

Three days later, during another bombing run over Ambon, a CIA pilot, Allen Lawrence Pope, was shot down and captured.

(Indonesia 1957-1958 KH)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders: The Quiet Revolt  (The Rise of Bernie Sanders and the Middle Class)

Hillary, for some reason, hasn't so far (and doesn't seem to want to presently) use these methods of organizing, but Bernie revels in them.

Wonder why?

Bernie Sanders:  The Quiet Revolt

The New York Review of Books
Simon Head
December 23, 2015
In 2003 I wrote in my The New Ruthless Economy that one of the great imponderables of the twenty-first century was how long it would take for the deteriorating economic circumstances of most Americans to become a dominant political issue. It has taken over ten years but it is now happening, and its most dramatic manifestation to date is the rise of Bernie Sanders. While many political commentators seem to have concluded that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, polls taken as recently as the third week of December show Sanders to be ahead by more than ten points in New Hampshire and within single-figure striking distance of her in Iowa, the other early primary state.
Though he continues to receive far less attention in the national media than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Sanders is posing a powerful challenge not only to the Democratic establishment aligned with Hillary Clinton, but also the school of thought that assumes that the Democrats need an establishment candidate like Clinton to run a viable campaign for president. Why this should be happening right now is a mystery for historians to unravel.

It could be the delayed effect of the "Great Recession of 2007-2008," or of economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez’s unmasking of the vast concentration of wealth among the top 1 percent and the 0.1 percent of Americans, or just the cumulative effect of years of disappointment for many American workers.
Such mass progressive awakenings have happened before. I remember taking part in antiwar demonstrations on the East and West coasts in the Fall and Winter of 1967–1968. I noticed that significant numbers of solid middle-class citizens were joining in, sometimes with strollers, children, and dogs in tow. I felt at the time that this was the writing on the wall for Lyndon Johnson, as indeed it turned out to be. We may yet see such a shift away from Hillary Clinton, despite her strong performance in the recent debates and her recent recovery in the polls.
If it happens, it will owe in large part to Sanders’s unusual, if not unique, political identity. Consider the mix of political labels being attached to him, some by Sanders himself:  liberal, left-liberal, progressive, pragmatist, radical, independent, socialist, and democratic socialist.

Sanders’s straight talk about the growing inequalities of income and wealth in America has been much written about, notably in a long profile of him in "The New Yorker" in October. But most of this writing has been of the campaign trail genre, and has not gotten very far in sorting out the strands of radicalism that have come together in Sanders’s run for the presidency and that have attracted large numbers of Americans dissatisfied with their deteriorating economic circumstances and with the politics that has helped create them.
Sanders is unusual because he brings together three kinds of radicalism, each with very different roots. First is Sanders’s commitment to bringing the progressive ideas of Scandinavian social democracy to the United States, including free and universal health care, free higher education at state colleges and universities, mandatory maternity and sick leave benefits, and higher taxes on higher incomes. In American political history you have to go back to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society or even to the early New Deal to find anything comparable.
The second strand of Sanders’s radicalism is his excoriating account of contemporary American capitalism, and with this he neither looks nor sounds like a consensus-minded Scandinavian social democrat. Here Sanders is willing to name and denounce the new economic royalists — what he calls collectively the “billionaire class” — in a way that Hillary Clinton, who has relied heavily on their financial backing, has not.

These include the leading Wall Street banks and their lobbyists; the energy, health care, pharmaceutical, and defense industries; and the actual billionaires deploying their wealth on behalf of the far right, foremost among them the Koch brothers, the Walton family of Walmart, and the real estate tycoon Sheldon Adelson.
From these great concentrations of wealth and power, Sanders argues, derive multiple injustices:  the corrupting of electoral and legislative politics with the Supreme Court’s "Citizens United" ruling; the steady erosion of the American middle class, which has suffered stagnating income and declining benefits, even as corporations return to profitability and enjoy historically low interest rates; and the emergence of an American workplace where most employees are putting in longer hours, earning less, and suffering from less job security than ever before.
Sanders can support these claims with substantial bodies of empirical data and research. There are the monthly figures put out by the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which show a steady decline in real hourly and weekly earnings of most working Americans since the 1970s. There is the work of the French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez documenting a growing and overwhelming concentration of income and wealth in the US in the hands of the top 1 percent — and especially the top 0.1 percent — of taxpayers. There is also the research of Jacob Hacker of Yale, showing how the disposable income of middle-income Americans has been further eroded by health care and pension costs dumped on them by their corporate employers, what Hacker calls the Great Risk Shift.
But the challenge for Sanders is not the arguments themselves, which are widely acknowledged (Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century was a runaway bestseller last year). The challenge is how to organize those who have suffered in the harsh new economy into a viable political force.

In the 1930s and the succeeding decades many of those facing hardship could benefit from the support and solidarity of big labor unions and the Democrats’ big-city political machines. In our own times these networks are largely gone. Those being laid off, downsized, re-engineered, or outsourced today are, in comparison with their grandparents and great-grandparents, far more likely to find themselves isolated and alone, especially those from middle-income families, who may be facing a drastic and very visible loss of class identity.
It is here that the third and perhaps least understood strand of Sanders’s radicalism comes into play:  his ability to organize a previously unrecognized constituency — one that embraces the shrinking middle class, both white- and blue-collar, the working and non-working poor, as well as young, first-time voters with large student-loan debts.

One thing that comes over strongly in interviews of those attending Sanders rallies is their sense that they are no longer alone, that they’re joining with thousands who are in much the same predicament as they are, and that together they can change things for the better.
Sanders’s success in bringing these people together comes from his grounding, as a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s, in the grass-roots politics of Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), the founder of modern American community organizing. Alinsky’s crucial insight was that people at the bottom of the system could fight for local political and economic power by forming alliances with sympathetic community groups sharing many of their interests.

From the late 1930s through the 1960s, Alinsky focused on the black ghettoes and white working-class districts of Chicago, Rochester, Buffalo, Oakland, and many other cities. His greatest success — and one of the best examples of his methods at work — was his 1939 campaign to unionize the Armour Company’s "Back of the Yards" meat packing plant in Chicago.
In the late 1930s, working conditions at the Armour plant still evoked the world of Upton Sinclair:  an immigrant workforce toiled long hours for poverty wages, in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. With Chicago run by a corrupt political machine, Alinsky took the lead in mobilizing every constituency he could in the local community against Armour — including the churches and especially the Catholic Church, labor unions, neighborhood groups, athletic clubs, and small businesses.
He brought in John L. Lewis of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to advise him, and after a huge mass demonstration in July 1939, Armour agreed to recognize the union. In a 1999 PBS documentary, Ed Chambers, who was Alinsky’s successor as Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, described the tactics that had proven so successful — and that would be repeated in many of Alinsky’s postwar campaigns:  “All change comes about as a result of pressure or threats. But you can’t get social change or social justice without confronting it. Because if you are a ‘have not,’ ‘the haves’ never give you anything that’s real.”
Alinksy is no longer a reference point in contemporary American politics, although his work and influence features in the CVs of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In a 2007 "New Republic" profile, Ryan Lizza describes the young Obama’s training as an Alinskian community organizer in 1980s Chicago, though Lizza noted that Obama as a presidential candidate-in-the-making was already distancing himself from this past, omitting all mention of Alinsky in his campaign biography, The Audacity of Hope. For her part, Clinton titled her 1969 BA thesis at Wellesley College “There is Only the Fight:  An Analysis of the Alinsky Model," something she has not cared to mention in recent campaigning.

But it is Sanders who has gone on to put Alinskian methods into practice as both a politician in Vermont and a candidate for president. In a November interview with NPR, Sanders described how his work as a community organizer as a student at the University of Chicago “did a lot to influence the politics I now have.” In fact, Sanders was chair of CORE’s (Congress on Racial Equality) social action committee at the university at a time when the organization, advised by Alinsky, was leading the campaign against segregation in Chicago schools and housing.

CORE and its student supporters were fighting the university itself, which upheld segregation through a policy of purchasing vacant homes in its neighborhood to prevent them from being purchased by African Americans. In 1962, Sanders organized a sit-in at the president’s office to protest the university housing policies; the following year, he was arrested while demonstrating against segregation in the Chicago schools.
Two decades later, Sanders’s remarkable campaign for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont as an independent was another illuminating case history of successful Alinskian campaigning at the grassroots, adapted from its Chicago origins to the more tranquil setting of Vermont.
Sanders followed Alinsky’s cardinal rule of taking on the city’s dominant business interests and their allies in City Hall with a program that was, for Burlington, radical and progressive:  curbing real estate development at the city center and providing ample public space there, especially on the waterfront of Lake Champlain; building affordable housing; keeping out the mega-retailers and creating neighborhood associations as participants in city planning decisions.

To achieve this Sanders put together an all-embracing, Alinskian coalition of women’s groups, unions, neighborhood activists, environmentalists, even the police patrolman’s association, all of whom saw him as someone who could deliver on his pledge to make Burlington a more affordable and civilized place to live.
There are big differences between Burlington, with a population of 42,000, and the United States, with a population of nearly 320 million. Alinsky himself never tried to reproduce his approach on a national scale. But in Alinsky’s time there were no social media, whose potential Sanders, like the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012, has deftly exploited.

And unlike the president, Sanders has also used social media to rally people behind a truly radical message. Not only has he formed alliances with sympathetic community groups like labor unions, environmental organizations, immigrant advocacy groups, and public sector workers; he has also been able to rely on these groups’ own considerable presence on social media to reach voters.
These efforts may be less attention-getting than Trump’s, but they have proven highly effective in building a strong base of supporters. The Sanders campaign has now drawn more than 2.2 million individual donors in 2015, surpassing even Obama’s record for the number of donations to a presidential candidate in a single year. In the third quarter, he raised four times as much money as Clinton from donors contributing $200 or less.
The columnist Mark Shields has pointed out on PBS’s "Newshour" that it was no mean feat for Sanders to attract an audience of 27,500 in Los Angeles in August, a city where, in Shields’s words, the typical campaign event is a party at Steven Spielberg’s house hosted by George Clooney. This was an event at which Sanders said, to thunderous applause:

There is something profoundly wrong when one family, the owners of Walmart, own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people. This is an economy which is rigged, which is designed to benefit the people on top, and we are going to create an economy which works for all people.
Sanders has significant weaknesses. His poll numbers have been much lower in the South, where he is far less known. They show Hillary Clinton enjoying strong support among African Americans, who favor her over Sanders by 5–1 or more. But it is surely patronizing to African-Americans to portray them as locked in an unending embrace with the Clintons, impervious to Hillary Clinton’s reliance on big corporate donors, her weaknesses as a candidate, which are still considerable, and the shifting winds of the campaign as it unfolds.

Until now, Sanders has largely avoided direct criticism of Clinton. The big question is whether he will extend his critique of the billionaire class and their corrupting political power to what I’ll call the Clinton system. That system will be the subject of a second article.

One of my uncles worked at Armour for 40 years and spent the last 10 years of his life fishing, playing golf and enjoying his family as a retired person of dignity who was a committed, appreciative union member. In South Carolina first, and then North Carolina. Surprise!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

US Frequently Uses Threat Of Nuclear War Warns Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg  (Daesh:  The Enemy the U.S. Created, Armed and Funded)  Israel Is a Main Buyer of Stolen Oil  (So, Who's Been Running the Game?)

Are US Academics Who Cite "WikiLeaks" Blackballed?

Hersh's Latest Bombshell:  U.S. Military Undermined Obama on Syria with Tacit Help to Assad

"It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.” — Emma (1815)

"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” — Personal correspondence of Jane Austen

"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.” — Emma (1815)

"The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” — Pride and Prejudice (1813)

I always thought when I first began hearing the shallow, uneducated or unprepared (or both) second-rate PNAC*'ers - the Wolfowitzes, Feiths, Libbys, Boltons, Kagans, Perles, Carluccis, Pipes, Podhoretzes, Weyrichs, Woolseys, Cohens, Krauthammers, Zakheims, Bennetts, Bauers (not to mention the stolid Kristols, Abramses, Armitages, Weinbergers, Rumsfelds, Cheneys and Bushes) of the inner political world talk about going nuclear if pushed, that they were only doing so in order to impress their friends** because they had exclusive insider knowledge about what the stealthy inner circle was planning as their last resort of maintaining power.

Or maybe not even the last.

Daniel Ellsberg seems to agree.

In Part II of a 13-part discussion hosted by "MintPress News," the Pentagon Papers whistleblower tells social justice activist Arn Menconi that the CIA exists to protect the president from being held accountable for the government’s secret foreign policy.
December 21, 2015
In this Saturday, June 1, 2013 file photo, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower responsible for releasing the Pentagon Papers, speaks during a rally in support of Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, outside the gates of Fort Meade, Md. On Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In this Saturday, June 1, 2013 file photo, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower responsible for releasing the Pentagon Papers, speaks during a rally in support of Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, outside the gates of Fort Meade, Md. on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
MINNEAPOLIS — "MintPress News" is proud to host “Lied to Death,” a 13-part audio conversation between famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and social justice activist Arn Menconi.
Menconi wrote that these interviews are a “mixture of historical, political science and Dan’s sixty-year scholarly analysis as a former nuclear planner for Rand Corporation.”

For more information on the interview and Daniel Ellsberg, see the introduction to this series.

Chapter 1:  Ellsberg on the the origins of empire and the nuclear danger to humanity

In the first full chapter of “Lied to Death,” Ellsberg discusses the origins of American empire, telling Menconi that empire building goes all the way back to Sargon, the ruler of ancient Mesopotamia and history’s first emperor.

However, unlike the emperors of old, the U.S. government publicly espouses democracy while simultaneously carrying out many of the same forms of repression and manipulation that historic rulers used to gain global power, he says.

For Ellsberg, that’s where the CIA and similar forces become essential. While he believes that covert actions may be necessary for any nation to protect itself during times of war, Ellsberg tells Menconi that only an empire needs covert agencies during times of peace because those agencies help maintain the image of freedom and transparency.

“The United States is not a government with a covert operations agency named the CIA, it’s a government which has a covert foreign policy,” Ellsberg explains.

Ellsberg argues that the CIA allows the U.S. to enact this covert foreign policy, which is not meant to ensure the independence of other nations, but to “buy their dependence.” When something goes wrong, the agency protects the White House from accountability. Even when the government’s cover story for its actions is revealed to be false by the media or a whistleblower, he says “there are other cover stories and cover stories within cover stories” — all of which misdirect attention. “The president is not held accountable … and he will not be held [accountable] before history.”

Apart from the pretense of democracy, Ellsberg argues that the United States is “unremarkable” as an empire, except for a few key points, most notably its ability to use the threat of nuclear weapons.

“The danger of all-out war leading to the extinction of the human species is significant right now and always has been larger than people thought,” he tells Menconi.

He does not believe that government officials actively seek out nuclear war, understanding that it would be devastating for humanity. But Ellsberg claims the U.S. has used the threat of nuclear conflict far more frequently than the public realizes, and that government leaders consider the potential for actual nuclear war to be an “acceptable risk” in return for the power the threat confers over other nations.

The U.S. and a handful of its allies, including the United Kingdom and France, also act as nuclear kingmakers, choosing which countries will be allowed to have nuclear weapons and which will not.

Unfortunately, this behavior has brought us closer to human extinction by promoting a global buildup of nuclear weapons which could be deployed at any time. Specifically, Ellsberg says U.S. foreign policy is directly responsible for the buildup of Russian nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

As sites like "WikiLeaks" and figures such as Edward Snowden continue to reveal uncomfortable truths about America’s endless wars for power and oil, one important figure stands apart as an inspiration to the whistleblowers of today: Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the “Pentagon Papers,” over 7,000 pages of top secret documents, in 1971.

A military veteran, Ellsberg began his career as a strategic analyst for the RAND Corporation, a massive U.S.-backed nonprofit, and worked directly for the government helping to craft policies around the potential use of nuclear weapons. In in the 1960s, he faced a crisis of conscience while working for the Department of Defense as an assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs John T. McNaughton, where his primary duty was to find a pretext to escalate the war in Vietnam.

Inspired by the example of anti-war activists and great thinkers like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he realized he was willing to risk arrest in order to prevent more war. Lacking the technology of today’s whistleblowers, who can carry gigabytes of data in their pockets, he painstakingly photocopied some 7,000 pages of top secret documents which became the “Pentagon Papers,” first excerpted by "The New York Times" in June 1971.

Ellsberg’s leaks exposed the corruption behind the war in Vietnam and had widespread ramifications for American foreign policy. Henry Kissinger, secretary of state at the time, famously referred to Ellsberg as “the most dangerous man in America.”

Ellsberg remains a sought-after expert on military and world affairs, and an outspoken supporter of whistleblowers from Edward Snowden to Chelsea Manning. In 2011, he told the Chelsea Manning Support Network that Manning was a “hero,” and added:

“I wish I could say that our government has improved its treatment of whistleblowers in the 40 years since the Pentagon Papers. Instead we’re seeing an unprecedented campaign to crack down on public servants who reveal information that Congress and American citizens have a need to know.”

To delve into Daesh’s convoluted money trail, one must first explore its equally convoluted origins. And in both areas, the role of the U.S. and its allies can not be ignored.
December 21, 2015
ISIS militants stand with a captured American Humvee, given to the Iraqi Army and captured by ISIS, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo)
ISIS militants stand with a captured American Humvee, given to the Iraqi Army and captured by ISIS, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo)

KITCHENER, Ontario — Out of nowhere, it seems, Daesh, also commonly referred to as ISIL or ISIS, spontaneously formed, a group that perverts aspects of Islam for its own violent ends, and threatens, we are told, all that the civilized world holds dear.

The “war on terror,” governments inform their citizens, has a new front. And that front is Daesh.

Let us not be too hasty. Things are not always what they appear. Daesh is well-financed, and that money must be coming from somewhere other than a ragtag band of malcontents. Daesh soldiers have advanced weaponry and sophisticated communications methods. They have tanks and Humvees. None of these can be obtained without significant funding. Though the source is quite illusive, there is some evidence that will lead to a trail.

First, we must look at Daesh’s origins, and even that is not easily discernable. Writing for "The Guardian" in August 2014, Ali Khedery suggests:

“Principally, Isis is the product of a genocide that continued unabated as the world stood back and watched. It is the illegitimate child born of pure hate and pure fear – the result of 200,000 murdered Syrians and of millions more displaced and divorced from their hopes and dreams. Isis’s rise is also a reminder of how Bashar al-Assad’s Machiavellian embrace of al-Qaida would come back to haunt him.

Facing Assad’s army and intelligence services, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Shia Islamist militias and their grand patron, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Syria’s initially peaceful protesters quickly became disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised – and then radicalised and violently militant.”

It is interesting that Mr. Khedery says that Assad’s “embrace of al-Qaida” came back to haunt him. It brings to mind a parallel situation in the United States. (Actually, there are many, but we will look at only one.)

Examining the Theories of the Origins of Daesh
 A group of Afghan mujahedeens, Islamic guerrillas, look over a U.S. Marine humvee in eastern Saudi Arabia, Monday, Feb. 11, 1991. The Marines visited a camp consisting of about 300 mujahedeens who have been asked by the Saudi government to help fight against Iraq in the Gulf War. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)
A group of Afghan mujahedeens, Islamic guerrillas, look over a U.S. Marine humvee in eastern Saudi Arabia, Monday, Feb. 11, 1991. The Marines visited a camp consisting of about 300 mujahedeens who have been asked by the Saudi government to help fight against Iraq in the Gulf War. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)
In the early 1960s, when the U.S.-supported leadership of Iraq was becoming just a bit too big for its britches — at least in the United States’ view — in wanting to challenge Israel as a major player in the Middle East, the U.S. decided that its leader, Abdel Karim Kassem, had to go.

Selecting a virulent anti-communist party to throw its support to, the U.S. worked closely with a young man named Saddam Hussein. We all know how well that ultimately worked out. The source of much, but not all, of the unrest in the Middle East today can be traced back to that U.S. decision.
Other theories on the formation of Daesh are also worth considering. Yasmina Haifi, a senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, asserted that Daesh was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation. “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” she wrote on Twitter in August 2014.

And finally, it has been more than suggested that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region,,” as Garikai Chengu, a research scholar at Harvard University, put it in September 2014.

Yet if the United States’ role wasn’t that blatant, it certainly existed, according to Seumas Milne, a columnist and associate editor at "The Guardian." He argued in a June opinion piece:

“[T]he U.S. and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ – despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity – as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.”

No matter how one looks at it, there are many possible causes that spawned Daesh. As we look at its funding sources, it may all become clearer.

Funding and Materiel, Courtesy of Uncle Sam and His Friends

Iraqi security forces look at confiscated ISIS weapons and ammunition after regaining control over the last week, in Ramadi, Iraq's Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015.
Iraqi security forces look at confiscated ISIS weapons and ammunition after regaining control over the last week, in Ramadi, Iraq’s Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (AP Photo)
In Daesh’s role as opposing Syria (just one of its many roles) the terrorist outfit is believed to have received funding from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as part of their opposition to the Assad regime.
But it also generates its own income, having taken control of local businesses, taxing others, and selling oil. Among its customers, incredibly, is Syria. Since Daesh controls much of the oil-production infrastructure in the country, Syria has little choice but to purchase oil from the very group that seeks to overthrow its government.

Reports also indicate that Israel is a main buyer of Daesh oil. The sale is not direct; oil is smuggled by Kurdish and Turkish smugglers, and then Turkish and Israeli negotiators determine the price.

As a result of these oil sales, Daesh has annual revenues estimated at $500 million, according to data compiled by the U.S. Treasury.

In November of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Daesh is being financed by at least 40 countries — including G20 members. With such widespread financing, it will be difficult to defeat Deash.

The U.S., in its misguided and destructive foreign policy toward the Middle East (its misguided and destructive foreign policies toward the rest of the world are topics for a separate discussion), also provided Daesh with a vast arsenal.

Last year, the Department of Defense, bragging about advances against this new “enemy” in Iraq, issued a press release:  “The three strikes destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles, and ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, an ISIL checkpoint and an IED emplacement.” Commenting on that statement in "Alternet," Alex Kane wrote:

What went unmentioned by the Pentagon is that those armed vehicles and artillery guns they bombed were likely paid for with American tax dollars. The arms ISIS possesses are another grim form of blowback from the American invasion of the country (Iraq) in 2003. It’s similar to how U.S. intervention in Libya, which overthrew the dictator Muammar Gaddafi but also destabilized the country,  let to a flood of arms to militants in Mali, where France and the U.S. waged war in 2013.”

The U.S. left untold amounts of weaponry in Iraq, and as that country descended into civil war following the United States’ odd salvation of it, that weaponry was free for the taking.

So even if, as suggested above, the U.S. didn’t give birth to Daesh, it has certainly nourished it.

A Merry-Go-Round That Never Stops Spinning

It is interesting to note that U.S. taxpayers are spending $615,482 every hour to fight a “war” in which the “enemy” is being well-financed by countries with whom the U.S. has full diplomatic relations.

Does this not make it appear that “victory” over this enemy is not the goal? With many countries financing and supplying Daesh, might the world’s largest supplier of weaponry, the U.S., not be too interested in losing such a lucrative market? It’s worth noting that the United States’ “foreign military sales rose to a record high of $46.6 billion for fiscal 2015.” With such a healthy cash cow, would the country’s power-brokers really want to end war? Why kill the goose that is laying such pretty golden eggs?

As the U.S. and its hapless allies continue this “war on terror,” an ill-defined and nebulous “enemy” if ever there was one, Syria and Yemen seem to be bearing the brunt of the violence. As in every modern war at least since World War I, innocent men, women and children are the most frequent victims, suffering unspeakably and dying horrible deaths. And, somehow, the world’s most powerful military machine, owned and operated by the U.S., is unable to defeat Daesh.

It must, therefore, continue to arm its allies, which are arming Daesh. So the U.S. provides funding to countries to fight Deash; some of those countries transfer money and armaments to Daesh, who(m) the U.S. is bombing. And it seems that this deadly merry-go-round will continue its endless spinning.

And why should it? The U.S. can, with ever-decreasing credibility, pretend to stand as a beacon of freedom and liberty, arming revolutionaries and destabilizing governments that displease it, while arming allies of the country in revolution, which in turn assist that country. So this “war on terror” never ends, and neither do the abundant profits from war-making.

And when possession of the moral high ground is just an illusion, when rhetoric spewed from the mouths of hypocritical politicians to get the citizenry to wrap themselves in the flag and shed a tear for apple pie, motherhood and Old Glory, and when the almighty dollar is always the bottom line, nothing is going to change.
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*   PNAC recognized that the American public was not eager about massive military pork-barrel spending on defense contracts. Americans were looking forward to a "peace dividend" after 45 years of Cold War spending. So PNAC concluded that Americans MUST experience a crisis, a "New Pearl Harbor" attack, if PNAC expected their vision of massive war and military spending to come to fruition.

In 1998 "The Project for the New American Century" letter (PNAC Letter) was sent to President Bill Clinton. The letter urged Clinton to target the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power in Iraq due to erosion of the Gulf War Coalition's containment policy and the resulting possibility that Iraq might develop weapons of mass destruction. PNAC wrote many editorials and letters urging the White House to attack Iraq. PNAC was relentless, and well paid. PNAC was founded with donations from the Bradley Foundation, which funded AEI and other groups.

The most famous PNAC document (which contains the quote about the need for a New Pearl Harbor) is an ambitious 90-page study packed with detailed suggestions on transforming the military, increased spending across the board, what to change with the Navy, Army, Air Force, and militarization of Space. Full Spectrum Dominance. This plan was called Rebuilding America's Defenses.

**   Our battle with Kristol and his politics became up-close and personal. During the Free Speech Movement, we continually tripped over his ideological soul mates, sociologists Nathan Glazer and Seymour Martin Lipset, who red-baited us and actively worked with university president Clark Kerr to try to split our ranks. When a very disgruntled Lipset left for Harvard, I very publicly - and most unkindly - hailed his departure as one of FSM's major contributions.

Kristol himself remained an even more enticing target. My comrades and I struggled against his acolytes in SDS. We slammed his increasingly conservative writing in "Commentary." We read and rebuffed his new magazine, "The Public Interest," which he co-founded with Daniel Bell, author of The End of Ideology," a paean to precisely the technocratic thinking we had fought against at Berkeley. We then felt vindicated when "Ramparts" revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had founded, funded, and run the Congress for Cultural Freedom, including "Encounter," its flagship propaganda sheet. Irving Kristol had made his peace with the empire early on, and had gotten a paycheck for doing it.

We fought him, but we never won. Kristol became one of the country's most influential public intellectuals and a favorite of Ronald Reagan. As the neo-con journalist Irwin Stelzer tells it, "Reagan joked at a dinner that anyone wanting a job in his new administration should call the White House and say: 'Irving sent me.' No further vetting would be required." It seemed to work, as Irving's friends helped create Iran-Contra and swallowed hard as Reagan worked to bring detente with Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.

Irving's greatest victory was still to come in the charmed political career of his son, William Kristol. Boasting little more than a Ph.D. in government from Harvard and a well-placed daddy, young Kristol served as chief of staff to Reagan's highly ideological education secretary William Bennett and to Vice President Dan Quayle, whose missing brain he became.

Once the Democrats returned to power, William Kristol led conservatives in killing Clinton's health care proposal. He created the leading neo-con newsmagazine, "The Weekly Standard," getting funding from Rupert Murdoch. Then in 1997, he joined with historian Robert Kagan to create the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), Washington's most vocal promoter of going to war against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and those non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

For me, as for most progressives, this was clearly the dragon we needed to slay. But having fought these guys too long, I failed to give sufficient attention to four elements of the story that could now prove crucial.

First, I misunderstood the role of the neo-cons, as did many other writers. While 10 of the 25 people who signed PNAC's founding statement went on to serve under George W. Bush, only two of them had real power, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Corporate CEOs in oil services, pharmaceuticals, and defense, they were consummate Washington insiders and old-fashioned right-wing nationalists. Along with Bush, they were the imperial potentates, the deciders who set policy on Iraq and other possible targets of regime change. None of the three were neo-cons.

The other eight PNAC signers, neo-cons like Cheney's man Scooter Libby and Rumsfeld's deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, were underlings, subordinates, and advisors. They were the handmaidens of empire, the B-list.

Second, while most neo-cons were Jewish and Zionist, Kristol and Kagan were far more committed to American than to Israeli power. Their goal was "to promote American global leadership," and a "benevolent global hegemony," as they called it in a 1996 article in "Foreign Affairs." We should never excuse Israel and its lobbies all over the world for constantly beating the drums of war. But just because the co*k crows before sunrise, it does not mean that he causes the sun to rise.

Third, Kristol and Kagan's message had its roots the Cold War liberalism of Truman and Kennedy, and was far more activist and interventionist than the historic Republican stance, with its lingering pockets of isolationism. Despite Kristol and Kagan's effort to package their world view as a "Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," they were far closer to what we now hear from Hillary Clinton.

Fourth, and most important, Kristol and Kagan provided American weapons makers with a perfect substitute for the old Soviet threat. What better marketing strategy for the military-industrial complex than an endless war against Islamic terrorists, Iran, and ultimately China? PNAC laid much of this out in "Rebuilding America's Defenses:  Strategies, Forces, and Resources for a New Century," a report written primarily by the group's deputy executive director, Thomas Donnelly, who went on to work for the defense giant Lockheed Martin. PNAC also worked closely with and received major funding from the Bradley Foundation, a strong backer of the defense industry.

Rethinking the neo-cons and liberal interventionists in these ways will help us sharpen our opposition to both. This becomes crucial as Kristol and Kagan's new flagship, the "Foreign Policy Initiative," and "The Weekly Standard" have spent the last two years trying to talk Americans out of being weary with war. I won't be surprised to hear Hillary Clinton join in soon, rallying us to show new spirit in defending American values.

It's true.

American values must be defended.

At the cost of millions of innocent lives.

And billions for the defense industry.


(It's almost nice to finally be shown why we can't have national health care or any other benefits for the poor and middle class now and in the future, isn't it?)


Monday, December 21, 2015

Jenna!  (Pure Evil Waged On Their Land)  Do You Believe This Guy Created ISIS/L/Da'esh? (He Does)   "Some Cheap Laughs" Were Had by Evil, Bored Soldiers  ( A Step Back From The Brink?)

Spain's Voters Rejected Austerity Today

You bought spurious wars from her father (and grandfather), won't you buy some fuel from her? Come on . . . she (also) has a nifty job at NBC now! (Brought to you by that lighthouse of liberalism:  MSNBC.)

You can certainly make a case that propane for school buses is both cheaper and better for the environment than diesel. A study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy tentatively comes to that conclusion (though ironically it turns out that recent advances in adapting propane for the transportation market were paid for by the Obama stimulus). Then again, as another study by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction makes clear, propane is often cheaper than diesel only when you factor in a federal tax credit.

Moreover, propane isn’t the only alternative to diesel for fleets. There’s also compressed natural gas (CNG). Indeed, there’s a war going on between the propane and CNG industries for the market to convert diesel school buses to alternative fuels, with each side claiming benefits for its fuel.

So basically what’s going on is that NBC is allowing Bush Hagar to use her journalistic credentials and access to shill for one side in this marketing war. This, folks, is next-generation influence peddling.

For some reason, this guy thinks he started ISIS/L/Da'esh (or perhaps just helped in its creation).

And it's pretty likely he did.

Although it will be a very long time before any mainstream media sources report it.

(And, has anyone come up with the names of the people who thought up and ordered this murderous travesty* yet?)

When I was stationed in Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 2003-2005, I didn't know what the repercussions of the war would be, but I knew there would be a reckoning. That retribution, otherwise known as blowback, is currently being experienced around the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, France, Tunisia, California, and so on), with no end in sight.
Back then, I routinely saw and participated in obscenities. Of course, the wickedness of the war was never properly recognized in the West. Without question, antiwar organizations attempted to articulate the horrors of the war in Iraq, but the mainstream media, academia and political-corporate forces in the West never allowed for a serious examination of the greatest war crime of the 21st century.

As we patrolled the vast region of Iraq's Al-Anbar Province, throwing MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) trash out of our vehicles, I never contemplated how we would be remembered in history books; I simply wanted to make some extra room in my HUMVEE. Years later, sitting in a Western Civilization history course at university, listening to my professor talk about the cradle of civilization, I thought of MRE garbage on the floor of the Mesopotamian desert.

Examining recent events in Syria and Iraq, I can't help but think of the small kids my fellow marines would pelt with Skittles from those MRE packages. Candies weren't the only objects thrown at the children:  water bottles filled with urine, rocks, debris, and various other items were thrown as well. I often wonder how many members of ISIS and various other terrorist organizations recall such events?

Moreover, I think about the hundreds of prisoners we took captive and tortured in makeshift detention facilities staffed by teenagers from Tennessee, New York and Oregon. I never had the misfortune of working in the detention facility, but I remember the stories. I vividly remember the marines telling me about punching, slapping, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and head-butting Iraqis. I remember the tales of sexual torture:  forcing Iraqi men to perform sexual acts on each other while marines held knives against their testicles, sometimes sodomizing them with batons.

However, before those abominations could take place, those of us in infantry units had the pleasure of rounding up Iraqis during night raids, zip-tying their hands, black-bagging their heads and throwing them in the back of HUMVEEs and trucks while their wives and kids collapsed to their knees and wailed. Sometimes, we would pick them up during the day. Most of the time they wouldn't resist. Some of them would hold hands while marines would butt-stroke the prisoners in the face. Once they arrived at the detention facility, they would be held for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Their families were never notified. And when they were released, we would drive them from the FOB (Forward Operating Base) to the middle of the desert and release them several miles from their homes.

After we cut their zip-ties and took the black bags off their heads, several of our more deranged marines would fire rounds from their AR-15s into their air or ground, scaring the recently released captives. Always for laughs. Most Iraqis would run, still crying from their long ordeal at the detention facility, hoping some level of freedom awaited them on the outside. Who knows how long they survived. After all, no one cared. We do know of one former U.S. prisoner who survived:  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Amazingly, the ability to dehumanize the Iraqi people reached a crescendo after the bullets and explosions concluded, as many marines spent their spare time taking pictures of the dead, often mutilating their corpses for fun or poking their bloated bodies with sticks for some cheap laughs. Because iPhones weren't available at the time, several marines came to Iraq with digital cameras. Those cameras contain an untold history of the war in Iraq, a history the West hopes the world forgets. That history and those cameras also contain footage of wanton massacres and numerous other war crimes, realities the Iraqis don't have the pleasure of forgetting.

Unfortunately, I could recall countless horrific anecdotes from my time in Iraq. Innocent people were not only routinely rounded-up, tortured and imprisoned, they were also incinerated by the hundreds of thousands, some studies suggest by the millions.

Only the Iraqis understand the pure evil that's been waged on their nation. They remember the West's role in the eight year war between Iraq and Iran; they remember Clinton's sanctions in the 1990s, policies which resulted in the deaths of well over 500,000 people, largely women and children. Then, 2003 came and the West finished the job. Today, Iraq is an utterly devastated nation. The people are poisoned and maimed, and the natural environment is toxic from bombs laced with depleted uranium. After fourteen years of the War on Terror, one thing is clear:  the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

Living with Ghosts

The warm and glassy eyes of young Iraqi children perpetually haunt me, as they should. The faces of those I've killed, or at least those whose bodies were close enough to examine, will never escape my thoughts. My nightmares and daily reflections remind me of where ISIS comes from and why, exactly, they hate us. That hate, understandable yet regrettable, will be directed at the West for years and decades to come. How could it be otherwise?

Again, the scale of destruction the West has inflicted in the Middle East is absolutely unimaginable to the vast majority of people living in the developed world. This point can never be overstated as Westerners consistently and naively ask, "Why do they hate us?"

In the end, wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions take place and subsequent generations live with the results:  civilizations, societies, cultures, nations and individuals survive or perish. That's how history works. In the future, how the West deals with terrorism will largely depend on whether or not the West continues their terroristic behavior. The obvious way to prevent future ISIS-style organizations from forming is to oppose Western militarism in all its dreadful forms:  CIA coups, proxy wars, drone strikes, counterinsurgency campaigns, economic warfare, etc.

Meanwhile, those of us who directly participated in the genocidal military campaign in Iraq will live with the ghosts of war.

(Vincent Emanuele is a writer, radio journalist and activist. He lives in Michigan City, Indiana and can be reached at

Who can imagine why "they" hate "us?"

* a debasing imitation of the charter of the U.S. military
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A Step Back From The Brink?
Week Eleven of the Russian Intervention in Syria
By The Saker
December 19, 2015
This has been an amazing week. While last week I concluded that “The only way to avoid a war is to finally give up, even if that is initially denied publicly, on the “Assad must go” policy”. Now it is true that various US officials, including Kerry, did make statements about the fact that Assad need not go right now, that a “transition” was important or that “the institutions of the state” had to be preserved, but of course what I, and many others really meant, was that the US needed to fundamentally change its policy towards the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, since Turkey committed an act of war against Russia under the “umbrella” of the US and NATO, this also created a fantastically dangerous situation in which a rogue state like Turkey could have the impression of impunity because of its membership in NATO. Here again, what was needed was not just a positive statement, but a fundamental change in US policy.

There is a possibility that this fundamental change might have happened this week. Others have a very different interpretation of what took place and I am not categorically affirming that it did – only time will show – but at least it is possible that it has. Let’s look at what happened.

First, there were some very unambiguous statements from John Kerry in Moscow. The most noticed ones were:

As I emphasized today, the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called “regime change,” as it is known in Syria source.
Now, we don’t seek to isolate Russia as a matter of policy, no source.
Now, I am acutely aware that Kerry has “lost” every single negotiation he has had with the Russians and I have written about that many times. I am also aware that Kerry has a record of saying A while with the Russians and non-A as soon as he gets back home. Finally, I also understand that Kerry is not the one really making the decisions but that this is what the US “deep state” does. But with all those caveats in mind, it is undeniable that these two statements constitute an official, if not necessarily factual, 180 degree turn, an abandonment of official US goals towards both Russia and Syria.

Furthermore, we have seen not only words, but actual actions from the Americans. First, the US and Russia have agreed to draft a common list of “recognized terrorists” (as opposed to “moderate” freedom fighters). While it is debatable as to who will end up on the “good guys list”, it is certain that all those who matter in Syria – al-Qaeda and Daesh – will make it to the “bad guys” list. That, in turn, will make it much harder, but not impossible (remember the Contras!) for the US to continue to assist and finance them. But the US did something even more interesting:

The USA announced that it was withdrawing 12 of its F-15s from Turkey, 6 F-15C and 6 F-15E. Now this might not look like much, but these are highly symbolic aircraft as they are the aircraft which were suspected of “covering” for the Turkish F-16s which shot down the Russian SU-24. The F-15Cs, in particular, are pure air-to-air fighters which could only have been directed at the Russian aircraft in Syria. Of course, the US declared that this was a normal rotation, that it has been an exercise, but the bottom line is here:  while NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg had promised to reinforce the NATO presence in Turkey, the US just pulled out 12 of its top of the line aircraft. Compare that with the Russians who continued to increase their capabilities in Syria, especially their artillery (see here, here and here).

Furthermore, there is this very interesting news item:  “Erdogan’s Spin Machine Now Blames Su-24 Shoot-Down on Turkish Air Force Chief”. Read the full article. It appears that there is a trial balloon launched in the Turkish social media to blame the downing of the SU-24 on the Turkish Air Force Chief (nevermind that Erdogan publicly declared that he personally gave that order). Finally, Russia succeeded in getting a unanimous decision of the UNSC to adopt a Russian resolution targeting Daesh finances. Needless to say, if the Resolution was officially aimed at Daesh money sources, it really puts Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, especially, Turkey in a very difficult situation: not only does the Resolution foresee sanctions against any country or entity dealing with Daesh, but the investigation of any claims of such financial relationships will be conducted by the UN. According to Russia Today:

The resolution also asks countries to report on what they have accomplished in disrupting IS’ financing within the next 120 days. It also calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to write up a “strategic-level report” analyzing IS’ sources of revenue within 45 days. “We are counting on it to be a very concrete and honest report,” Churkin told "RT." Churkin also mentioned Turkey’s involvement in the illegal oil trade with IS, stressing that Turkish individuals as well as companies could be sanctioned under the resolution. He added that countries could even be sanctioned “if it turned out that [one of them] has not implemented enough effective measures against the fight of financial terrorism.”

According to the UN envoy, Russia was the only member that could provide proof of concrete schemes used by other countries to engage in illegal oil trade with Islamic State or how IS able to use the revenue from those transactions to purchase weapons from other countries, particularly from a few in Eastern Europe.

The document, which is based on UN Charter Article VII and takes effect immediately, calls for members to “move vigorously and decisively to cut the flow of funds” to IS. It says that governments must prevent its citizens from funding or providing services to “terrorist organizations or individual terrorists for any purpose, including but not limited to recruitment, training, or travel, even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
So not only do the Russians now have the means to channel their intelligence about the collaboration between Daesh and Turkey to the UNSC, but the Secretary General will now produce a report based, in part, on this intelligence. This is all very, very bad news for Ankara.

So what is happening here?

Here is what I think might have happened.

My hypothesis

First, the downing of the Russian SU-24 is becoming a major liability. The Russians have immediately claimed that this was a carefully planned and cowardly ambush, but now top western experts agree. This is very embarrassing, and it could get much worse with the deciphering of the flight recorders of the SU-24 (which the Russians have found and brought to Moscow). The picture which emerges is this:  not only was this a deliberate provocation, an ambush, but there is overwhelming evidence that the Turks used the information the Russians have provided to the USA about their planned sorties.

The fact that the Americans gave that information to the Turks is bad enough, but the fact that the Turks then used that information to shoot down a Russian aircraft makes the US directly responsible. The USA is also responsible by the simple fact that there is no way the Turks could have set up this complex ambush without the USA knowing about it. Now, it is possible that some in the US military machine knew about it while others didn’t.

This entire operation sounds to me like exactly the kind of goofball plan the CIA is famous for, so maybe Kerry at State or even Obama did not really “know” about it. Or they did and are now pretending like they did not. Whatever may be the case, the US is now obviously trying to “off-load” this latest screwup on Erdogan who himself is trying to off-load it on his Air Force chief.

What is certain is that the plan failed, the Russians did not take the bait and did not retaliate militarily, and that now the political consequences of this disaster are starting to pile up. As for Erdogan, he wanted to come out of this as the Big Pasha, the tough man of the region, but he now looks like an irresponsible coward (Putin ridiculed how the Turks ran to NATO as soon as the Russian SU-24 was shot down when he said:  ”they immediately ran to Brussels, shouting: “Help, we have been hurt.” Who is hurting you? Did we touch anybody there? No. They started covering themselves with NATO.”). Even the US and Europe are, reportedly, fed up and angry with him. As for the Russians, they seem to believe that he is a “Saakashvili v2” – a guy with whom there is nothing to discuss and whom the Kremlin considers as politically dead.

Second, look at Syria. Even under maximal pressure, the Russians did not yield or show signs of hesitation but did the exact opposite: they more than doubled their presence, brought in heavy artillery systems and even floated the idea of opening a 2nd major airport in Syria (this intention was later denied by Russian officials). For the Americans this meant something very simple: while the Russians are much weaker in Syria than the USA, they were clearly undeterred and were not only holding their ground, but digging in. In other words, they were ready for war.

I want to believe that the various warnings issued by many, including myself, might have contributed to convince the US analysts that the Russians were really ready to fight. First, there is Peter Lavelle who on his "RT" show "CrossTalk" has been warning about the path to war for literally months now. But there have been many others, including Pepe Escobar, Paul Craig Roberts, Alastair Crooke, Stephen Landeman, Stephen Cohen, who were sounding the alarm and warning the Empire that Russia would not ‘blink’ or ‘back down’ and that war was a very real, possibly inevitable, danger (you can see some my own warnings about that here, here, here and, of course, in my last week’s column). I know how the intelligence process works and I believe that such a loud chorus of warnings might well have played a rule in the US decision to change course, if only for the immediate future.

As I have stressed over and over again, the “tactical-operational contingent of the Russian AirSpace forces in Syria” (that is their official name) is small, isolated and vulnerable. Syria is stuck between NATO and CENTCOM and the US can, if needed, bring an immense amount of firepower into Syria and there is nothing the Russians could do about that. See for yourself how many air bases the US has in CENTCOM and Turkey by clicking here: (high resolution, 7MB image created by SouthFront). But there is one thing even a small force can do:  become a “tripwire” force.

Regardless of the limited capabilities of the Russian task force in Syria, it was large enough to be considered a “tripwire” force – one which attacked would result in a full-scale war with Russia. If the Americans had any doubts about that, they were instantly dispelled when they heard Putin officially declared that “I order you to act very extreme resolve. Any targets that threaten Russia’s group or our terrestrial infrastructure is to be immediately destroyed.”

The combination of all these factors was, apparently, sufficient to convince the US to step on the breaks before things really got out of hand.

Again, I am not affirming that this is what took place, but I want to believe that I am correct and that somebody in the USA finally understood that war with Russia was inevitable if the USA continued on the same course and took the decision to stop before it was too late. If this is really what happened, this is extremely encouraging and very, very good news. While stupidity and insanity, not to mention outright evil, are definitely present in the AngloZionist Empire’s top command, there is always the possibility for decent and sane men to do the right thing and try to stop the crazies (like Admiral Mike Mullen did when the Neocons wanted to start a war with Iran).

The other big even of the week was, of course, the annual press conference of Vladimir Putin. I have posted the full text on my blog, so I will only mention one particularly interesting part here:

Putin was asked about whether Russia wanted to keep a base in Syria forever. Here is what he replied:

Some people in Europe and the US repeatedly said that our interests would be respected, and that our [military] base can remain there if we want it to. But I do not know if we need a base there. A military base implies considerable infrastructure and investment. After all, what we have there today is our planes and temporary modules, which serve as a cafeteria and dormitories. We can pack up in a matter of two days, get everything aboard Antei transport planes and go home.

Maintaining a base is different. Some believe, including in Russia, that we must have a base there. I am not so sure. Why? My European colleagues told me that I am probably nurturing such ideas. I asked why, and they said: so that you can control things there. Why would we want to control things there? This is a major question. We showed that we in fact did not have any medium-range missiles. We destroyed them all, because all we had were ground-based medium-range missiles.

The Americans have destroyed their Pershing ground-based medium-range missiles as well. However, they have kept their sea- and aircraft-based Tomahawks. We did not have such missiles, but now we do – a 1,500-kilometre-range Kalibr sea-based missile and aircraft-carried Kh-101 missile with a 4,500-kilometre range. So why would we need a base there? Should we need to reach somebody, we can do so without a base. It might make sense, I am not sure. We still need to give it some thought. Perhaps we might need some kind of temporary site, but taking root there and getting ourselves heavily involved does not make sense, I believe. We will give it some thought.
I find that reply quiet amazing. Can you imagine a US President actually thinking that way and openly saying it? Putin is quite obviously making fun of the so-called “experts” who have been telling us for years how much Russia cared about a base in Tartus and who now tell us that the airbase in Khmeimim is the next “forever base” for Russia not so much to protect Syria but to project Russian power. It turns out that Russia has no interest and no desire for any such costly power projection: “ Should we need to reach somebody, we can do so without a base”.

By the way, this translation is incorrect. What Putin really said was “Если кого-то надо достать, мы и так достанем”. The word “dostat’” is translated here by “reach” but I would translate it by “get” meaning “if we need to get somebody (in the sense of “strike at somebody”) we can already do that (i.e. without a base)”. This was most definitely a veiled threat even if the official translation does not render it accurately (and yes, a supersonic and stealthy cruise missile with a reach of 4’500km does allow Russia to ‘get’ anybody anywhere on the planet, especially when delivered by aircraft with a 12’000km flying range).

When western leaders and expert assume that Russia is about building bases abroad they are really only projecting their own, imperial, mindset. I have said that over and over again: Russia has no intention of ever become an empire again simply because being an empire is bad for Russia. All Russia wants is to be a truly sovereign state and not to be a colony of the AngloZionists, but she has no intention whatsoever of becoming an “anti-USA” or a “Soviet Union reloaded”. Hillary can scare herself at night with nightmare of Putin rebuilding the USSR, but there is no constituency in Russia for such a plan. Russia wants to be free and strong, yes, but an empire, no.

It is quite amazing to see how western leaders and experts project their own mindset unto others and then end up terrifying themselves in the process. It’s quite pathetic, really.

In conclusion I will just add that it is quite likely that the focus will shift back to the Ukraine again. Not only is the Ukraine hours away from an official default, but the Ukronazis are openly threatening Crimea with, I kid you not, a “naval blockade”!

Considering the lack of US and NATO enthusiasm for Erdogan’s shooting down of the Russian SU-24, I very much doubt that anybody in the West will be happy with that goofy idea. So between the economic collapse, the political chaos, the coming winter and the Nazi freaks and their crazy plans to fight Russia, there is a pretty good chance that the next flashpoint will be in the Nazi-occuppied Ukraine again. I doubt that the US has the “mental CPU power” to deal with both crises at the same time, at least not in a sustained and energetic manner. That, again, is good news – the Empire is over-committed and overstretched and that is typically the only situation when it is willing to compromise. We shall soon know if my very cautious optimism is warranted or not.

(This article was originally written for the "Unz Review")

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Paris Gun Traced to Syrian CIA ISIS/L/Da'esh Training Camps  (Israel Supports - and Helped to Create - Islamic Terrorist Groups?)  Can Republicans/Neolib Warmongers Buy the Next Election?  (Yemen Crisis:  One More Reason to Re-evaluate the Toxic U.S.-Saudi Alliance)

The United States' Secret African Drone War Against ISIS

Well, what did you expect?
A tattooed woman?
- Melvyn Douglas to Irene Dunne in "Theodora Goes Wild"

So, one of the guns used in the Paris attacks has been traced to the CIA-trained Syrian Islamics - the same crowd, essentially, who worked with the Cocaine (or was it Heroin?) Contras (just kidding, I remember that it was converted for better saleability into crack cocaine, especially for distribution to the Los Angelenos gangs, with a few special drop-offs in Miami), who were instrumental in the routing of weapons (paid for by the drug sales) to Iran?

It's a small world after all.

These reports further undermine the official presentation of the Paris attacks by governments, media, and pro-imperialist “left” parties. They insisted that the attacks were an act of Islamist terror in which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) alone was involved and bore full responsibility.

This presentation was always a political fraud, insofar as the NATO powers were undoubtedly politically implicated. The attacks were led by Islamist fighters trained in Syria — where the CIA, European intelligence and Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms have given financial and military backing to such Islamist forces to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Though placed on watch lists and monitored by intelligence services, these fighters were somehow allowed to prepare highly complex, coordinated attacks in Paris.

Revelations of a concrete link between Century Arms and the Paris attacks, however, raise specifically whether elements in the intelligence services aided the attackers — either inadvertently, due to their reckless war policy, or deliberately, to shift the political atmosphere far to the right.

The ruling elite reacted to the November 13 attacks, predictably, by aligning policy on war and democratic rights with the views of the most aggressive sections of the military-intelligence complex. France is now preparing to impose a permanent state of emergency, effectively abrogating key democratic rights and boosting the political fortunes of the neo-fascist National Front (FN). NATO is ramping up support to its proxies in Syria, though this threatens to trigger an all-out military clash with nuclear-armed Russia.

While it remains unclear how the Paris attacks were organized, the link to Century Arms strongly suggests that elements acting for the intelligence agencies, in an official capacity or otherwise, were involved. Century Arms has had close ties to US foreign policy for decades.
In 1987, John Rugg, a former police officer and Century Arms employee, testified to the US Senate that the firm had run weapons to the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. This illegal operation, led by the CIA in defiance of the Boland Amendment passed by the US Congress cutting off aid to the Contras, had exploded in the Iran-Contra scandal.
In 2004, according to the Palm Beach Post, Italian authorities halted shipment of 7,500 AK-47 rifles to Century Arms from Romania, where the firm had developed commercial ties since before the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe.
In 2007, according to a US diplomatic cable published by "WikiLeaks", Century Arms worked with Israeli arms dealer Ori Zeller to illegally recover and sell off American M-1 rifles shipped by Washington to the bloody Guatemalan regime during that country’s civil war. The cable also states that Zeller’s associates were convicted of money laundering in Belgium in 2003, and suspected of laundering $20 million in Al Qaeda funds via West African diamonds.
Nonetheless, the cable called Zeller a “valuable source for the USG [US government] in Guatemala.” It added that the US government used him to obtain information on Guatemala, Israel, Russian arms sales, and Mexican drug cartels.
Century Arms’ relationship with Mexican narco-traffickers apparently goes beyond providing information. The US  Center for Public Integrity reported in 2011 that Romanian WASR-10 rifles sold by Century Arms had “become a favorite of the Mexican drug cartels, and in recent years hundreds of them have been traced to crimes in Mexico.” This is not the first indication that connections existed between state forces and Islamist groups that carried out terror attacks in France.
On Wednesday, French police detained Claude Hermant, a former member of the FN’s security detail who is active in far-right circles in northern France and serves as an informant for police and customs officials, for questioning over the January attacks on "Charlie Hebdo" and the Hyper Cacher. Officials confirmed that he was being held for questioning as to whether he had trafficked weapons to Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman at the Hyper Cacher.
This confirmed earlier reports that Lille prosecutors were investigating a link between Hermant and the January attacks. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve subsequently invoked the state secrets privilege in an attempt to block the investigation. However, this decision and more details of the investigation of Hermant were leaked to the press. 
The Lille investigation is now apparently considering the possibility that Hermant himself was simply playing the role of middleman in a larger network involved in arming the gunmen. Officials close to the investigating team told "La Voix du Nord," “In such trafficking, there is always one intermediary, or more. Claude Hermant did not necessarily know the final destination of the weapons. It would show, in any case, the links between certain Islamist circles and organized crime.”

The paper also reported that a customs official had been placed under investigation in the Hermant affair.

Epochalypse Apocalypse?

Epocalypse Soon: The Great Economic Collapse is Happening
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Israel Supports Islamic Terrorists

Posted on  
Israel claims that it’s in a mortal struggle with Islamic terrorists …
But as we reported last year, the Israeli military has admitted to supporting Syrian Islamic jihadis. And see this.
Last week, Daily Mail journalists embedded with Israeli troops reported:
Almost every night, Israeli troops run secret missions to save the lives of Syrian fighters, all of whom are sworn enemies of the Jewish state.
Analysts suggest the Jewish state has in fact struck a deadly ‘deal with the devil’ – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad in the hope of containing its arch enemies Hezbollah and Iran.
Many of the casualties rescued by Israel belong to Salafist groups …. Some may be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated to Al Qaeda that has kidnapped scores of UN peacekeeping troops in this area, and has massacred Christians deeper in Syria.
In the three years that Israel has been running these operations, it has saved the lives of more than 2,000 Syrians – at least 80 per cent of whom are male and of fighting age – at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7 million).
‘Above all, Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from gaining control on the other side of the border,’ said Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

‘The Sunni militants are fighting Hezbollah, so for now they share the same objectives as Israel. That’s why we’re seeing this odd cooperation between people who would be enemies under any other circumstances.
Significantly, an Israeli spokesman confirmed that no medical support has been provided to any militants from the Shia alliance.

‘From an Israeli viewpoint, it’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend,’ said Kamal Alam, research analyst at RUSI and an expert in Syrian affairs.
‘There is no one they can trust in the Syrian quagmire, but if you get rid of Hezbollah, that’s the end of Iran in the region. Israel’s main aim has to be to eliminate Hezbollah – and whoever takes on Hezbollah is an uneasy but necessary ally.
‘In giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil.’
Indeed, Israel has made no secret of the fact that it prefers ISIS and Al Qaeda to the Iranian backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah:

In September 2013, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in an interview: “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. … We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, Oren expanded on this thinking at an Aspen Institute conference, extending Israel’s preference to include even the hyper-brutal Islamic State. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.
But it’s not just Iran or Shias … Israel decided long ago to break up Syria and Iraq into numerous mini-states. And Israel wants a compliant government in Syria to allow its pipelines to win out over competing pipelines.

No wonder the Israeli air force has bombed near the Syrian capital of Damascus, and attacked agricultural facilities and warehouses (the Syrian government is the main opponent of ISIS in Syria).

We noted last year:
The "Times of Israel" reported Wednesday:

A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities,” Safouri said in the video.
In the edited confession video, in which Safouri seems physically unharmed, he says that at first he met with an Israeli officer named Ashraf at the border and was given an Israeli cellular phone. He later met with another officer named Younis and with the two men’s commander, Abu Daoud. In total, Safouri said he entered Israel five times for meetings that took place in Tiberias.

Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian [rifles], 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56 millimeter bullets.
Also on Wednesday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency – a 97-year old Jewish wire servicereported:

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.

Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, made the assertion Wednesday on Twitter, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” wrote Haifi ….
In March, Haaretz reported:

The Syrian opposition is willing to give up claims to the Golan Heights in return for cash and Israeli military aid against President Bashar Assad, a top opposition official told Al Arab newspaper, according to a report in Al Alam.
The Western-backed militant groups want Israel to enforce a no-fly zone over parts of southern Syria to protect rebel bases from air strikes by Assad’s forces, according to the report.
Perhaps that’s why ISIS, Al Nusra and the other Islamic terrorists in Syria haven’t tried to lay a glove on Israel?

This isn’t an isolated dynamic …

(This entry was posted in Politics / World News.)

Working under the assumption that they can support a campaign better themselves, donors are building their own organizations, staffed by operatives who report to them. “A lot of people who felt betrayed in 2012 set out to build political structures,” says Kellyanne Conway, president of the pro–Ted Cruz super-pac Keep the Promise I, which is backed by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Mercer is a prime example of the new breed of activist donor. This presidential cycle, he has donated more than $30 million to a quartet of pro-Cruz super-pacs. A computer scientist by training, Mercer is also part owner of a political data firm called Cambridge Analytica, which boasts on its website that it employs “psychographic profiling” to recruit voters. As a result, Mercer’s pacs have shunned the traditional strategy of saturation TV coverage. Instead, Mercer is focused on targeted radio buys, digital outreach, and field organizing.

So, Citizens United needs to be expanded? Completely re-judged so that Republicans CAN'T LOSE this time?

Well, Rove is currently lacking some funds (not receiving as many mail orders (donations) from widows and orphans as he used to), so something must be done.

And soon!

Rove’s 2012 crash is having profound effects on the 2016 Republican primary. To begin with, George W. Bush’s Brain is no longer considered much of a brain.

“I gave Rove $500,000. What did I get for it? Nothing!” Langone told me. Two of Rove’s most generous 2012 funders, Texas billionaires Bob Perry and Harold Simmons, have since passed away, and their heirs have turned off the cash spigot. “Everyone is still shocked Romney lost,” says Simmons’s widow, Annette. “I haven’t committed at all.”

So far this year, Crossroads has raised just $784,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Rove insists he’s still a player. “We’ll be involved in the Senate races,” he told me. “Depending on who the presidential nominee is, we may be involved in that, but that’s a long way off.” What Rove is not is anywhere near the center of the Republican Party. “But for his perch on Fox News, Karl would be in political Siberia,” says a top Republican strategist. “The going joke is that he must have a picture of Roger Ailes in his underwear to keep his contract.”
It’s not just that Rove is personally marginalized. Donors have awakened to the realization that topflight consultants can earn millions from campaigns regardless of whether they win. “It bothers a lot of people that politics has become a cottage industry. Everyone is taking a piece of this and a slice of that,” says California winemaker John Jordan, a former Rove donor. “Crossroads treated me like a child with these investor conference calls where they wouldn’t tell you what was really going on. They offered platitudes and a newsletter.”
Working under the assumption that they can support a campaign better themselves, donors are building their own organizations, staffed by operatives who report to them. “A lot of people who felt betrayed in 2012 set out to build political structures,” says Kellyanne Conway, president of the pro–Ted Cruz super-pac Keep the Promise I, which is backed by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer.

Mercer is a prime example of the new breed of activist donor. This presidential cycle, he has donated more than $30 million to a quartet of pro-Cruz super-pacs. A computer scientist by training, Mercer is also part-owner of a political data firm called Cambridge Analytica, which boasts on its website that it employs “psychographic profiling” to recruit voters. As a result, Mercer’s pacs have shunned the traditional strategy of saturation TV coverage. Instead, Mercer is focused on targeted radio buys, digital outreach, and field organizing.
The savviest GOP candidates have capitalized on this shift. In fact, Cruz’s campaign fund-raising apparatus seems designed to let donors roll up their sleeves. Cruz contributors can specify how they want their money spent, much in the way universities allow benefactors to earmark their donations for a new science wing or aquatics center. “If you’re a donor, you can say, ‘I want to see this money used for Iowa,’ ” one strategist told me. “It’s a way to entice donors. They look at it like fantasy football.”
The new billionaire-backed operations style themselves as models of superior sophistication. During the last Republican primary, Sheldon Adelson bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s campaign essentially by writing blank checks with little or no oversight. Compare that to the super-pac funded by Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, who has his own political staff and demands accountability. “I’m used to saying the Ricketts’ spend their super-pac money like it’s their own money — because it is,” the family’s political adviser, Brian Baker, told me.
Or look at the network being built by Elliott Management founder Paul Singer. In 2014, Singer created the American Opportunity Alliance, a group of roughly 40 Republican financiers who gather regularly for secret meetings with candidates. This fall, Singer threw his weight behind Marco Rubio and urged his members to do the same. In the general election, Singer will be a player with America Rising, the opposition-research firm headed by Romney’s dark-arts wizard Matt Rhoades. Instead of funding TV ads, Rhoades’s group offers Singer more predictable returns:  It is narrowly focused on digging up dirt on Democrats, for example by sending video trackers to events in order to build a library of unflattering material.
It’s all about retaining control. In October, billionaire investor Carl Icahn announced he was launching a $150 million super-pac to lobby for corporate tax reform. “At the risk of being immodest, we have one of the best records on Wall Street. And I like doing things myself,” he told me. “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”
John Jordan now supports Republican candidates through his own super-pac, which applies the lessons he’s learned from winemaking. He, too, is backing Marco Rubio. “I know really well how to sell things. I make my own ads,” Jordan said. “The quality of ads produced by most of the ad-makers is just so bad that they’re ineffective. Have you looked at Jeb’s ads? They’re terrible! It’s unforgivable.”
Perhaps Bush is the perfect case study:  The candidate who has underperformed the most is the one with a 2012-style campaign, who steered all his major donors into one super-pac. That organization, Right to Rise USA, is run by the grizzled strategist Mike Murphy, who succeeded in bundling a $100 million war chest and is now finding himself on the receiving end of donor backlash. Last month, for instance, a group of major Bush supporters held a conference call to vent about Murphy after he outlined his strategy in an interview to Bloomberg Politics. “These guys got rip-shit,” said one person briefed on the call.
But the most important lesson the billionaires are learning this year is that they aren’t much better at politics than Karl Rove. Well, not true. There is one billionaire who seems to have contemporary Republican politics figured out. “This is no longer a meteor going through the sky,” Langone told me, observing Donald Trump’s dominance over the race and sounding just shy of panicked. “He’s been in the lead 116 of 120 days.”

Republican Billionaires Just Can't Seem to Buy This Election

"Okay, but all this talk has gotten me thirsty."
"Straight whiskey!"
"Oh, Michael!"
Irene Dunne to Melvyn Douglas in "Theodora Goes Wild"

And a happy holidays election season tip of the hat to our prime American Horror Trump! candidate, courtesy of Blue Gal and Ten Grain. @BlueGal @TenGrain

After almost a year of civil war, the conflicting forces in Yemen sat down on December 15 in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the prospect of finding a political solution to the conflict that has been raging since March 2015. While this is a necessary step towards ending the violence that has killed thousands, crippled infrastructure and led to a critical humanitarian crisis, the peace talks should include a mechanism for rebuilding this impoverished nation. Saudi Arabia, which is responsible for most of the destruction with its relentless bombings, should be forced to pay for the terrible damage it has wrought. So should the United States.

The U.S. involvement in the Yemen crisis can be summed up in four words:  allegiance to Saudi Arabia.

The United States’ problematic relationship with Saudi Arabia goes all the way back to World War II, when U.S. officials started to see Saudi’s oil as a strategic advantage. Since then, the U.S. has blindly supported the Kingdom in almost every political and economic effort, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is an ultraconservative Islamic monarchy rife with human rights abuses.

When the Houthis, a Shia rebel group from northern Yemen, took over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in January 2015 and forced Sunni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi into exile, Saudi Arabia formed an Arab Gulf states coalition to fight against the Houthis. Naturally, the U.S. agreed to support its close ally in its endeavor to ‘reinstate order’ in Yemen by providing intelligence, weaponry and midair refueling, as well as sending U.S. warships to help enforce a blockade in the Gulf of Aden and southern Arabian Sea. The blockade was allegedly to prevent weapons shipments from Iran to the Houthis, but it also stopped humanitarian aid shipments to beleaguered Yemeni citizens. The American CIA and military intelligence are also on the ground in Yemen, providing targeting and other logistical support, and Uncle Sam’s drones are constantly flying overhead, sending intel to the Saudis.

Since then, the coalition has carried out indiscriminate airstrikes and bombings throughout the country, often targeting highly populated civilian areas. As of late September, the U.N. had documented that the war had killed 2,355 civilians and wounded 4,862, the majority of cases as a result of coalition airstrikes. The Saudi-led military intervention has created a humanitarian crisis that has left over 75% of Yemen’s population (21 million people) in urgent need of immediate aid. Millions of people have been forced out of their homes and left without water or electricity, as the country’s infrastructure continues to disintegrate.

The U.S. is the main supplier of these weapons being used to carpet bomb Yemen. Cluster munitions, which are sold to Saudi Arabia by an American company called Textron, have been used in several coalition strikes. These horrific bombs constitute a particular danger to civilians because of their wide area of effect and the fact that unexploded bomblets can remain hazardous for decades after their deployment, which is why they are banned in over 115 countries. “Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians.”

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