Category Archives: Uncategorized

miserable capitalist savagery & bluster

Trump threatens “substantial” increase in anti-China tariffs
Nick Beams, WSWS, Nov 13 2019

Trump has threatened to escalate the trade war against China unless an agreement is reached on a “phase one” deal with Beijing. The threat came in a speech to the Economic Club of New York yesterday in which he lauded the policies of his administration and its “Pindostan First” agenda. The interim trade deal, agreed to in negotiations last month, was due to have been signed off at the now-cancelled Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting later this week. But no date has been set for a time and place of the signing. There are also doubts over whether an agreement will even be reached because of China’s demand that there has to be some rollback of existing tariffs, a prospect ruled out by Trump in remarks last week. He doubled down on those comments in his address to the New York gathering of corporate chiefs, investors and bankers. Trump claimed a deal with China was “close” but then issued his new threat to escalate the tariffs already imposed, namely a 25% levy on $250b worth of mainly industrial products and 15% on a further $112b worth of goods, if an agreement is not made. he said:

I tell it to everybody: If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise those tariffs, they are going to be raised very substantially. This is true for other countries that mistreat us too.

This shot was directed principally at the EU over negotiations for a trade deal in which Pindostan wants an opening up of Euro markets for Pindo agricultural products, which the EU has insisted is off the table. The Trump administration secured the negotiations in Jul 2018 under the threat of the imposition of a 25% tariff on auto imports on “national security” grounds, a move that would have a devastating impact on the German auto industry. The administration is to decide within the next few days whether to proceed with the new levies. At this stage it is expected to grant a further reprieve, leaving the threat in place, ready to be imposed unless the EU makes concessions. Under conditions which the IMF has described as a “synchronised” global slowdown, the increasingly dog-eat-dog struggle for markets and profits was very much to the fore in Trump’s address as he directed attention to the question of the Fed and its interest rate policy, saying:

We are directly competing with countries that are actively cutting interest rates. The Fed does not let us play in that game. We’re paying actually high interest. We should be paying by far the lowest interest.

Pindostan was at a “competitive disadvantage” because it had not followed the European Central Bank to reducing interest rates to negative levels Trump reiterated:

Give me some of that money! I want some of that money!

Trump pointed to the rise of the stock market under his administration noting that the S&P 500 was up by 45%, the Dow by 50% and the Nasdaq by 60%, but insisted those figures should be higher, saying:

If we had a Fed that worked with us, we could have added another 25% to those numbers.

In a bid to maintain the electoral support of voters in industrial states, Trump advanced a series of bogus claims on the state of the economy, declaiming:

We have ended the war on Pindo workers! We have stopped the assault on American industry! And we have launched an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen before!

The latest figures on GDP, issued at the end of last month, showed that the Pindo economy expanded by only 1.9% on an annualised basis in the third quarter, down from a 2% expansion in the second, and the lowest rate since the end of 2018. One of the most significant features of the data was the fall in fixed non-residential business investment, now at its lowest rate since the end of 2015. On a year-on-year basis GDP increased by 2%, the slowest pace of Trump’s presidency and well below the level of 2.5% for 2018, putting his stated objective of a 3% growth rate out of the question. In his claims about the “booming” economy, Trump focused attention on the administration’s corporate tax cuts. But the reality is that much of this money has not gone to expand investment, let alone increasing wages, but has been poured into share buybacks aimed at boosting share market prices. This year it is expected that S&P 500 companies will spend up to $1t buying up their own shares, after spending $800b in 2018. One of the most egregious expressions of this process is Apple. Despite falling profit margins, Apple has increased its market capitalisation this year by more than $400b to $1.16t, with its shares rising by 65% so far this year. Over the past decade Apple has spent $320b buying its own stock, the largest amount for any S&P 500 company. As for Trump’s claims to have boosted the wages of Pindo workers, these were countered by a detailed report issued by Brookings earlier this month. It found that an estimated 53 million Pindo workers aged between 18 and 64 were low-wage workers with a median hourly wage of just $10.22 and a median annual income of $17,950. The report said that “stagnant and unpromising low-wage work is prolific and deepening” and “economic growth has exacerbated inequalities, with the most vulnerable at the risk of being left behind.” One of the authors of the report, Marcela Escobari, told Bloomberg that with the further development of automation the situation would worsen. “Both the industries that are growing and the industries that are shrinking are low wage” and that available work “is going to be more low-wage work,” she said.

labour needs to dump corbyn & adopt remain and win handily, if they care

Margaret Hodge refuses to back Corbyn, exposing fraud of Labour’s “socialist transformation”
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Nov 13 2019

Labour Party MP Dame Margaret Hodge has refused to endorse party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a potential prime minister. Her comments come just days after former Labour MPs John Woodcock, John Mann and Ian Austin called for a vote for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. Hodge has dedicated the past four years of her life to staging provocation after provocation against left-wing Labour members through slanderous and politically toxic accusations of anti-Semitism, targeting party leader Jeremy Corbyn in particular. But the fact that she has been able to do so is thanks entirely to the cowardice and complicity of Corbyn and his closest allies. In 2016, Hodge triggered a failed right-wing putsch to oust Corbyn as Labour leader by submitting a motion of no confidence against him. In 2018, she cornered Corbyn behind the Speaker’s chair in the House of Commons and screamed in his face:

You’re a fucking anti-Semite and a racist!

She claimed at a meeting in which Tory MP Chris Green called for Labour councillors and MPs to “eject” Corbyn that she had experienced “anti-Semitic abuse” in the Labour Party “greater in number and more horrid in content than what I was subjected to by Nick Griffin and the BNP.” Corbyn’s response was to first drop the investigation into Hodge’s lying verbal abuse against him, to tell her and the rest of Labour’s Blairite MPs at the party’s 2018 annual conference:

We are on a journey together and can only complete it together.

He then forced Labour to accept a definition of anti-Semitism that criminalises opposition to Israel, and to offer no opposition to a politically-motivated investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into “anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.” Last month, political cowardice turned to farce. Hodge was triggered for reselection as Labour’s MP for Barking, meaning she would have to win a vote of the local Constituency Labour Party to keep her position. At a meeting on Oct 28, Hodge was able to secure a majority in her favour in an outcome greeted throughout the media as a victory of Labour “moderates” over a “Corbynista” plot backed by pro-Corbyn pressure group Momentum. This provided an opportunity for fellow Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement who was revealed by WikiLeaks to be a CIA asset, to declare in parliament:

I just want to put on record the fact that Margaret Hodge, the honourable (member) for Barking, has been reselected this evening, against an appalling attack by members of our party.

The Board of Jewish Deputies added:

Trolls who opposed her reckoned without Margaret’s strength and popularity. Not lost on anyone that Labour’s so-called ‘anti-racist’ leader missing in action as his drones tried to force out another Jewish MP.

However, the architects of this “moderate” victory were not Hodge, Smeeth and the BoJD but Momentum, who had never tried to unseat Hodge in the first place! Barking and Dagenham CLP member John Pawson explained on Labour List:

It’s not a left-wing coup as the media have suggested. There are only about five or six of us lefties who attend CLP meetings. The handful of us on the left didn’t really know how the trigger ballot system worked, and given the political make-up of the CLP, we all expected Margaret Hodge would be automatically reselected. The result was as much a surprise to us as it was to everyone else. What I’m hearing is that this move has come from those in the CLP who have supported Margaret Hodge and share her political views but had expected her to retire and wanted an MP who lives in the constituency.

Jon Lansman, the leader of Momentum, concurred in a tweet on Sep 29:

The Left is most certainly not behind the triggering of Margaret Hodge in Barking nor was it the result of anti-Semitism. I’m told it happened because members on the Right had expected her to retire & want an MP who actually lives there, not one who has always lived in Islington.

Asked why he was not working to remove her, Lansman replied:

Because the Left is too small a minority in Barking to achieve it.

Lansman’s refusal to fight in Barking is part of an ongoing effort—agreed with Corbyn and his advisors—to suppress left-wing sentiment in the membership and maintain unity with the Blairite core of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The Hodge affair is only the most devastating exposure of Momentum’s fraudulent deselection campaign, announced this July with the claim:

Campaigning for open selections across the country will help surface a new generation of young, BAME, working-class leaders who will take on the political establishment and provide a genuine alternative.

Since then, just eight Labour MPs have faced reselection battles, most unrelated to challenging Blairite MPs. Of those reselections involving Momentum, not a single “left” challenger has been successful. As Labour List editor Sienna Rodgers explained in the Guardian:

Far from facilitating a Corbynite takeover, the trigger-ballot battles taking place across the country have allowed the Labour leader’s critics to come out largely unscathed and better organised than ever… what has stunned insiders is the sheer number of Corbyn sceptics who haven’t been triggered. Tom Watson, Liz Kendall, Neil Coyle, Jess Phillips, Siobhain McDonagh, Alison McGovern, Rachel Reeves, Ruth Smeeth, Gareth Snell, Wes Streeting, these are all names associated with the so-called ‘moderate’ wing of the party, and yet all have been automatically reselected.

Claims that Corbyn would carry out a “socialist transformation” of Labour and create a party “for the many not the few” have proven to be a fraud. Including their role at the 2018 Labour conference sabotaging popular moves for mandatory reselection and then shutting down no confidence votes and reselection campaigns, Corbyn and his allies have done everything in their power to ensure that Labour remains the party of the Blairite few, against the many thousands of members who want to see the latter gone. They have given the reactionaries the platform to attack those who joined the Labour Party in 2015, hoping to back Corbyn’s professed anti-war and anti-austerity politics. This takes its most abhorrent form in the return to the political stage of the war criminal Tony Blair, who recently wrote in the Financial Times:

Tactical voting will be necessary to return politicians who do not spout populism.

Populism for Blair means any criticism of “dodgy landlords,” “billionaires” and a “corrupt system.” His favoured politicians include the Lib Dems and pro-Remain MPs expelled from the Conservatives by Boris Johnson in September for rebelling over Brexit, most of whom have now been readmitted to the Tory party. Of them he opines:

Parliament would be worse without the Conservative independents.

Blair knows that Corbyn will not lift a finger against him and his cronies, despite Labour’s constitution explicitly stating that any member “who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” will “automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member.” By contrast, Corbyn has allowed his supporters to be expelled on the pretext merely that they retweeted statements of Green Party leaders and other non-Labour figures like George Galloway. The Blairites can do what they want, when they want. The measure of Corbyn’s politics is that, through his own efforts, he enters his second general election at the head of the same party fundamentally that launched the 2003 war in Iraq, the 2008 bailout of the banks and launched the drive for austerity. Any incoming Labour government poses a grave danger to the British working class. The only solution is to build an independent revolutionary party on a genuinely socialist, internationalist programme.

Here is Blair’s screed:

Tactical voting will be necessary to return politicians who do not spout populism
Tony Blair, FT, Nov 3 2019

We are witnessing the infantilisation of British politics. The December 12 general election has been called to resolve Brexit but, if that is the question, it should be asked in a referendum. Millions of voters are confused and uncertain, lost in a maze of tactical voting conundrums. We see competing campaigns of populism, left and right, from the two parties capable of forming a government. Moderate MPs are either retiring or powerless, left to fight under banners they do not really believe in. The spine of British politics has always been a solid centre. It has fractured. Repairing it and healing it will take time. The issue is: how, in this election, do we preserve that possibility while navigating the Brexit nightmare. The Conservatives’ strategy is simple: you may not like us or Brexit, but the alternative is Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy is a total fraud. In this sense, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage is right. Mr Johnson got his Brexit deal with the EU by selling out unionists and agreeing to a border in the Irish Sea. Now comes the negotiation over Britain’s future relationship with Europe. There, we have the same dilemma as beset us over Northern Ireland. Do we want access to European markets, in which case the EU will demand a level playing field on tax and regulation; or do we want the “freedom” to go our own way with the economic costs associated with leaving Europe’s trading system. The Conservatives insist that returning them to office “gets Brexit done” but all it does is to begin the next phase.

Labour, having failed to back another referendum, claims to be fighting the election to have one afterwards, claiming it can negotiate a better deal with the EU which it will then put to the people. But it cannot say if it would support its own deal in that referendum. The Tories do not deserve to win a majority, and it is profoundly against the interests of the country if they win a big one. Yet that is possible because of a split opposition and Labour’s strategy. Mr Corbyn’s campaign launch speech attacking “dodgy landlords,” “billionaires” and a “corrupt system” is textbook populism. It is no more acceptable in the mouth of someone who calls themselves left-wing than in the mouth of Donald Trump’s right. I can take you to countries whose systems are corrupt. Ours isn’t. That is no more true than the Brexiter myth that the MPs refused to pass Brexit because they are sitting on their backsides, taking their salary and showing contempt for the British people. Government is about the hard challenge of analysis, policy development and delivery. It requires understanding of how the world is changing and how complex legacy systems can be adapted to technological change. This is our 21st century industrial revolution. Yet our politicians compete to tell us that there are simple answers: either parting ways with the EU, our largest trading partner, or removing pantomime villains of capitalism.

Whenever an election is called, some MPs stand down. What is depressing this time is that many of those leaving clearly have much still to give, particularly those female MPs who cite the ugliness of political discourse as a reason. There will be many voters who distrust Johnson, fear Corbyn and who do not think the Lib Dems can form a credible government. Two criteria should guide their votes. One is naturally Brexit. For those whom getting a new referendum is determinative, there will be a lot of help available with tactical voting to prevent a Conservative majority. But the other factor is also important: we need to get into parliament many reasonable and capable politicians of all parties who will not spout populism. We need people who will put reasoned argument before ideology and understand that democracy is about regarding opponents as people with whom you disagree, not enemies. This is a moment to judge the calibre and character of individual candidates carefully. There is a core of good Labour MPs who will not be whipped into supporting policy they do not believe in. They deserve strong support even from those not inclined to vote Labour. Parliament would be worse without the Conservative independents. If this parliament has shown anything it is that independent-minded MPs can make a difference and work constructively together. We need that spirit in the new parliament. Achieving the right result, not only on Brexit but for that centre-ground spine, requires sophistication and care. Voters must pay attention through the campaign as public opinion evolves. After this election, the real battle over the future of British politics will begin.

stinking hypocrite jew machine oozes onwards

Zarif scorns EU warning over nuclear deal
Reuters,Nov 12 2019

DUBAI – Europeans have failed to fulfil their own commitments to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday, in response to a warning by the EU that urged Tehran to stick to the pact or face consequences. European countries have been trying to persuade Tehran to stick to the deal, under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, despite a decision last year by Trump to abandon it. Iran has long blamed the Europeans for failing to provide the economic benefits it was meant to receive under the deal, and has begun steps to reduce commitments, including producing more enriched uranium than allowed. Last week Iran resumed enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, banned under the deal. Mogherini and Euro parties to the deal Britain, France and Germany issued a statement on Monday urging Tehran to comply with the accord or face action which could include sanctions. Om response, Zarif tweeted:

Iran says paragraph 36 of the deal allows it to reduce its commitments because other signatories are not complying. The Europeans dispute this. Some Iranian officials have warned that reimposition of EU and UN sanctions would be a red line that would cause the deal to collapse. The IAEA reported on Monday that Iran is enriching uranium at the Fordow site and rapidly accelerating enrichment more broadly. Iran says it will further overstep the deal’s limits in January if Britain, France and Germany fail to shield its economy from Pindo penalties that have reduced its oil exports by more than 80% since a year ago. Faschingstein says it wants to negotiate a more sweeping deal aimed at further curbing Iran’s nuclear work, halting its ballistic missile programme and limiting its meddling in other countries in the Middle East. Iran has rejected any negotiations as long as Pindostan is not complying with the JCPoA.

European concerns raise prospect of renewed UN sanctions on Iran
John Irish, Robin Emmott, Reuters, Nov 12 2019

PARIS/BRUSSELS – Europe’s threat to trigger a mechanism that could reimpose UNSC sanctions on Iran marks a significant breakdown in diplomacy to try to save the 2015 nuclear deal and could presage its death knell, diplomats say. Britain, France and Germany (the E3) have sought to salvage the pact, under which Iran undertook to curtail its uranium enrichment programme in return for relief from sanctions crippling its economy, since Pindostan withdrew last year. But the E3 have failed to make good on the trade and investment dividends promised to Iran under the deal, as they have been unable to shield Tehran from renewed Pindo sanctions that have strangled its vital oil trade. That has prompted Iran to renege step by step from its non-proliferation commitments under the deal. The IAEA confirmed on Monday that Iran had resumed enriching uranium in its underground Fordow plant and was rapidly accelerating enrichment with a variety of advanced centrifuge machines also banned by the deal. The move has alarmed the E3, which had previously dismissed Tehran’s breaches, such as exceeding the cap on stockpiles of enriched uranium and on the fissile purity of enrichment, as insignificant and reversible. The E3 raised the prospect of a restoration of international sanctions for the first time late on Monday after a meeting of foreign ministers in Paris, saying they were ready “to consider all mechanisms, including the dispute resolution mechanism.” Under the terms of the 2015 deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments they can refer the issue to a Joint Commission comprising Iran, Russia, China, the E3 and the EU. If the complaining party cannot resolve the matter at the Commission level, it could then notify the UNSC, which must vote within 30 days on a resolution on continuing Iran’s sanctions relief. If this is not adopted within that time span, sanctions that were in place under previous UNSCRs would be reimposed unless the Council decided otherwise. A European diplomat said:

We don’t want to pull out of the JCPoA too soon, but equally we cannot sit back. The Russians and the Chinese are not going to trigger this but us as Europeans will have to take a stance at some point. It is not if but when unless Iran pulls back, but even then they are gaining knowledge by spinning these centrifuges, so we have to react.

Diplomats said a meeting of the parties to the accord would take place over the next week to discuss latest developments, but the E3 are unlikely to trigger the mechanism before January, when Iran is due to announce its next round of steps away from compliance with the deal. Another diplomat said:

What we’re now seeing is the dismantling of the JCPoA. We haven’t decided on launching the mechanism, because we need to be sure of how it will help us in trying to defuse tensions. The questions we’re asking is when, how and whether it benefits us to do it?

Zarif reiterated on Tuesday that Iran had itself launched the complaint mechanism and it was ceasing to heed its deal commitments because the E3 had failed to protect it from Pindo sanctions.

bolivia: the aftermath, i guess

Evo Morales arrives in Mexico for political asylum
BBC News, Nov 12 2019

Evo Morales has landed in Mexico where he has been offered asylum after resigning as president of Bolivia amid election fraud protests. In a tweet, he said it hurt to be leaving Bolivia but he would return with more “strength and energy.” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a Mexican government plane was sent for Morales. Meanwhile, Bolivia’s military commander ordered troops to back up police who have clashed with Morales supporters. Some 20 people were reported injured in the clashes. Morales earlier urged his supporters to resist the “dark powers” that had forced him to step down. He also tweeted a photo of what he described as “my first night after leaving the presidency forced out by the coup of Mesa and Camacho with the help of the police.” The deputy head of the Senate, Jeanine Áñez, has said she will take over as interim president until new elections are held. Ebrard announced the decision to grant Mr Morales asylum at a press conference. Ebrard earlier described events in Bolivia as a “coup,” citing the military’s involvement in Morales’ resignation.

Pressure had been growing on Morales since his narrow victory in last month’s presidential election. On Sunday, events moved swiftly. First, the OAS announced its audit of the election had found “clear manipulation” and called for the result to be annulled. In response, Morales agreed to hold fresh elections. But Carlos Mesa, who came second in the vote, said Morales should not stand in any new vote. What really seemed to tip the balance was the intervention of the chief of the armed forces, who urged Morales to step down in the interests of peace and stability. Announcing his resignation, Morales said he had taken the decision in order to stop fellow socialist leaders from being “harassed, persecuted and threatened”. He also called his removal a “coup.” Reports say Morales made the announcement of his resignation from El Chapare, a coca-growing rural area of Cochabamba and a bastion of support for him and his Mas party.

Opponents of Morales have been celebrating across Bolivia, setting off fireworks and waving national flags, while his supporters clashed with police in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, according to local media reports. Argentines and Bolivians also took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Monday to protest against his resignation. Trump on Monday described the resignation as “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.” The Russian foreign ministry said a “wave of violence unleashed by the opposition” had not allowed the “presidential mandate of Evo Morales to be completed.” The Cuban president, Miguel Díaz Canel, tweeted that what happened was “a violent and cowardly coup d’etat against democracy in Bolivia by the right.” Nicaragua and Venezuela also expressed solidarity with Morales. Spain expressed its concern over the role of Bolivia’s army, saying:

This intervention takes us back to moments in the past history of Latin America.

Áñez’s announcement that she would take over temporarily came after Vice-Pres Álvaro García, Senate leader Adriana Salvatierra and House of Deputies’ leader Victor Borda had all resigned, leaving her next in line. She said:

I assume this challenge with the only objective to call new elections. This is simply a transitional phase.

The legislative assembly is expected to meet later on Tuesday to decide whether to confirm her as interim president. With Morales’s party in control of both the Senate and the House of Deputies it is not clear if she will get the necessary backing from legislators. Under Bolivia’s constitution, whoever takes over as interim president has 90 days to call fresh elections.

The Bolivian Coup Is Not a Coup, Because Pindostan Wanted It to Happen
Alan Macleod, FAIR, Nov 11 2019

Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend’s events in Bolivia. No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales “resigned” (ABC News, 11/10/19), amid widespread “protests” (CBS News, 11/10/19) from an “infuriated population” (NYT, 11/10/19) angry at the “election fraud” (Fox News, 11/10/19) of the “full-blown dictatorship” (Miami Herald, 11/9/19). When the word “coup” is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org, 5/6/09, 8/1/12, 4/11/19).

When the military forces the elected president to “step down”
(NYT, 11/10/19), there’s a four-letter word for that.

The NYT (11/10/19) did not hide its approval at events, presenting Morales as a power-hungry despot who had finally “lost his grip on power,” claiming he was “besieged by protests” and “abandoned by allies” like the security services. His authoritarian tendencies, the news article claimed, “worried critics and many supporters for years,” and allowed one source to claim that his overthrow marked “the end of tyranny” for Bolivia. With an apparent nod to balance, it did note that Morales “admitted no wrongdoing” and claimed he was a “victim of a coup.” By that point, however, the well had been thoroughly poisoned. CNN (11/10/19) dismissed the results of the recent election, where Bolivia gave Morales another term in office, as beset with “accusations of election fraud,” presenting them as a farce where “Morales declared himself the winner.” Time’s report (11/10/19) presented the catalyst for his “resignation” as “protests” and “fraud allegations,” rather than being forced at gunpoint by the military. Meanwhile, CBS News (11/10/19) did not even include the word “allegations,” its headline reading, “Bolivian President Evo Morales Resigns After Election Fraud and Protests.”

Delegitimizing foreign elections where the “wrong” person wins, of course, is a favorite pastime of corporate media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18). There is a great deal of uncritical acceptance of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) opinions on elections, including in coverage of Bolivia’s October vote (e.g., BBC, 11/10/19; Vox, 11/10/19; Voice of America, 11/10/19), despite the lack of evidence to back up its assertions. No mainstream outlet warned its readers that the OAS is a Cold War organization, explicitly set up to halt the spread of leftist governments. In 1962, for example, it passed an official resolution claiming that the Cuban government was “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system.” Furthermore, the organization is bankrolled by the US government; indeed, in justifying its continued funding, USAID argued that the OAS is a crucial tool tp “promote Pindo interests in the Western hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-Pindo countries” like Bolivia.

Corporate media ignored CEPR’s finding (11/19) that “neither
the OAS mission nor any other party has demonstrated that there
were widespread or systematic irregularities in the elections.”

In contrast, there was no coverage at all in Pindo corporate media of the detailed new report from the independent Faschingstein-based think tank CEPR which claimed that the election results were “consistent” with the win totals announced. There was also scant mention of the kidnapping and torture of elected officials, the ransacking of Morales’ house, the burning of public buildings and of the indigenous Wiphala flag, all of which were widely shared on social media and would have suggested a very different interpretation of events. Words have power. And framing an event is a powerful method of conveying legitimacy and suggesting action. “Coups,” almost by definition, cannot be supported, while “protests” generally should be. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, a conservative Pindo-backed billionaire, has literally declared war on over a million people demonstrating against his rule. Corporate media have framed that uprising not as a protest but rather a “riot” (NBC News, 10/20/19; Reuters, 11/9/19; Toronto Sun, 11/9/19). In fact, Reuters (11/8/19) described the events as Piñera responding to “vandals” and “looters.” Who would possibly oppose that?

Morales was the first indigenous president in his majority indigenous nation—one that has been ruled by a white European elite since the days of the conquistadors. While in office, his Movement Towards Socialism party has managed to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%, cut unemployment in half and conduct a number of impressive public works programs. Morales saw himself as part of a decolonizing wave across Latin America, rejecting neoliberalism and nationalizing the country’s key resources, spending the proceeds on health, education and affordable food for the population. His policies drew the great ire of the Pindo government, Western corporations and the corporate press, who function as the ideological shock-troops against leftist governments in Latin America. In the case of Venezuela, Western journalists unironically call themselves “the resistance” to the government, and describe it as their #1 goal to “get rid of Maduro,” all the while presenting themselves as neutral and unbiased actors. The media message from the Bolivia case is clear: A coup is not a coup if we like the outcome.

The Pindo-backed coup in Bolivia
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Nov 13 2019

Bolivia, South America’s most impoverished nation, teeters on the brink of a civil war in the wake of a Pindo-backed coup that led to the resignation Sunday of President Evo Morales, Vice President Álvaro García Linera and various ministers, state governors and government officials. While Morales, García Linera and others have fled the country for asylum in Mexico, the Bolivian workers, peasants and indigenous majority that they purported to represent have been left behind to confront heavily armed troops and fascist gangs in the streets. The bitter lesson that the Latin American working class can advance its interests not by means of “left” bourgeois nationalist regimes, but only through its own independent revolutionary struggle, is once again being written in blood. Thousands of workers and youth have responded with courageous resistance to the coup, taking to the streets of La Paz and the neighboring working-class district of El Alto, where they burned down police stations and confronted security forces. Elsewhere, miners and peasants have blocked highways, and anti-coup protesters have confronted heavily armed troops firing live ammunition and tear gas grenades. In Cochabamba, the military brought in a helicopter to fire on crowds. The toll of dead and wounded has steadily risen.

The military & police violence has been accompanied by a reign of terror by the fascist opponents of Morales, who have burned down homes of those linked to the government, kidnapped family members of officials and carried out violent assaults against those linked to Morales’s Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, as well as targeting indigenous people, especially women, for attacks. Headquarters of social organizations have been attacked, and radio stations invaded and taken off the air. After three weeks of protests over the disputed October 20 presidential election, the coup was consummated Sunday with a televised address by Gen. Williams Kaliman, the chief of the armed forces, surrounded by the entire military command, in which they “suggested” that “the president resign his presidential mandate and allow the pacification and reestablishment of stability for the good of Bolivia.” Morales and García Linera took the “suggestion,” saying that they were doing so to “avoid bloodshed” and “guarantee peace.” If that was their objective, their capitulation to the military and the Bolivian right has failed miserably. Trump celebrated the overthrow of Morales as a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” warning that Venezuela and Nicaragua are next. But it wasn’t only Trump. Both the NYT and the WaPo published editorials Tuesday supporting the coup and suggesting that it was a blow for “democracy,” and that the role of the military in forcing Morales out was merely incidental. This reflects the fundamental continuity in Faschingstein’s imperialist policy in Latin America under both parties, from the abortive 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela under Bush 43 prematurely celebrated by the NYT, to the 2009 Pindo-backed overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras under Obama 44, to today’s ouster of Morales under Trump 45.

Underlying this continuity is the drive by Pindo imperialism to reverse the decline of its global economic hegemony by means of military force and violence, particularly in the region that it has so long regarded as its “own backyard.” This is driven both by the desire of Pindo transnationals to lay unfettered claim on Latin America’s resources and markets, not least Bolivia’s vast energy and mineral reserves, including 70% of the world’s lithium, and by the strategic confrontation between Pindo imperialism and China, whose trade with the region rose to $306b last year. Morales’s government was part of the so-called “Pink Tide” of left-posturing bourgeois nationalist governments that came to power in Latin America, beginning with that of Hugo Chavez in 1998. Like Chavez, Morales declared himself an adherent of the “Bolivarian Revolution” and socialism. He and the MAS were swept into office on the wave of revolutionary upheavals that shook Bolivia and brought down successive governments during the so-called water and gas “wars” against water privatization and for the nationalization of gas between 2000 and 2005. The leader of the coca growers’ union and the first Bolivian president from the country’s long-oppressed indigenous population, Morales won broad popular support for a government that served as the vehicle for containing the revolutionary struggles of the Bolivian masses. This government, however, soon allowed that its aim was not really socialism, but rather “Andean-Amazonian capitalism,” which consisted of “nationalizations” that imposed new taxes on transnational corporations that were guaranteed even greater access to the exploitation of Bolivia’s gas and other natural resources.

In addition to its alliance with transnational capital, the Morales government cemented a pact with the agricultural oligarchy. Both were granted rights to exploit lands that had previously been declared national parks to protect their indigenous populations. The government also relied upon what it described as the military-peasant alliance, through which it sought to solidify support in the military command by offering it control over sections of the economy, resources for creating its own businesses and generous benefits. It created an “Anti-imperialist Military School” and had soldiers salute their officers with the Guevarist slogan of “Hasta la victoria siempre.” In the end, the bourgeois army, which Morales never disbanded, proved loyal to its roots in the fascist-military dictatorships of Generals Hugo Banzer and Luis García Meza and the national security state doctrine of the Pentagon’s School of the Americas. The right-wing policies of the Morales government led to continuous confrontations with the working class and peasantry and steadily eroded its support. Its right-wing opponents in Bolivia’s traditional ruling oligarchy were able to exploit Morales’s attempt to secure himself another term as president, in violation of the constitution and the results of a 2016 referendum, to win a popular base for its counter-revolutionary objectives. Morales and the MAS leadership bear criminal responsibility for the coup which they condemn. Its principal victims will be not Morales and his fellow politicians, but the masses of Bolivian workers, peasants and oppressed.

Also sharing blame for the acute dangers now confronting the masses of workers and oppressed in Bolivia are the various pseudo-left groups that promoted the Bolivarian revolutionary pretensions of the Morales government and demanded that the working class subordinate itself to the leadership of the bourgeois nationalists. Chief among them are various revisionist tendencies that adapt themselves to Stalinism and various forms of bourgeois nationalism, the chief among them being Castroism. The period in which these parties have been able to help suppress the class struggle is coming to an end, not only in Latin America but internationally. The events in Bolivia, along with the mass uprisings of workers and youth in Chile and elsewhere on the Latin American continent, are demonstrating that the ruling class is no longer able to rule in the old way and it has become impossible for the working class to live in the old way, creating the conditions for a new period of revolutionary upheavals.

ffs

Why Is Christopher Steele Still a Thing?
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Nov 2019

From the Guardian, Monday Nov 4:

Fresh evidence has also emerged of attempts by the Kremlin to infiltrate the Conservatives by a senior Russian diplomat suspected of espionage, who spent five years in London cultivating leading Tories including Johnson himself …. The committee’s report is based on analysis from Britain’s intelligence agencies, as well as third-party experts such as the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele….

Christopher Steele became famous in Pindostan as the author of a dossier that claimed Russians had been cultivating, supporting, and assisting Donald Trump for at least 5 years. Now Steele is back, claiming that the Russians have been cultivating the Tories and Boris Johnson for five years. You can’t make this stuff up. The only thing comparable would be Ahmed Chalabi lobbying for a sequel invasion after the WMD hunt came up empty, and having the same humiliated media figures and politicians reach for their pompoms all over again. Steele first appeared in connection with the Trump story as a “well-placed Western intelligence source” in a 2016 Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which claimed a Trump aide named Carter Page was discussing the lifting of sanctions with Igor Sechin, chief of the major Russian oil company Rosneft. Steele, in fact, was a private opposition researcher hired by the “premium research” firm Fusion-GPS on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Yahoo story came out on Sep 23 2016. It was more than a year before Steele’s status as a paid Clinton researcher would be made public. After Isikoff’s piece came out, the Clinton campaign released a statement about how it was “chilling” to learn that “Pindo intelligence officials” were “conducting a probe into suspected meetings between Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin’s inner circle.” If the merry-go-round trick of commenting gravely about a story you yourself planted sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the tactic used by Dick Cheney in the early 2000s, when he went on Meet the Press to comment about “a story in the NYT this morning” regarding Saddam Hussein’s aluminum tubes. Press figures denounced such chicanery then.

Steele’s report came out in full during the transition, in a sleazy series of maneuvers by outgoing intel boxtops who presented the incoming president with a synopsis of Steele’s work. When details of this meeting leaked, news outlets that previously had been sitting on Steele’s report because it was unverifiable suddenly had a “hook” to release news about the briefing: Intelligence chiefs relayed “allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr Trump.” The resulting viral furor spurred Buzzfeed to publish the entire dossier, so Pindos could “make up their own minds.” In this way, the dossier was published without ever going through a vetting process. For all the talk of hacking, this was a true Trojan-horse penetration of the Pindo news media system, not that most media companies minded, of course. Enthusiasts now cling to the idea that the “dossier” was merely a “starting point,” and remains “neither proved nor disproved,” the NYT translation for “unmentionable until published by someone less reputable,” but the whole shooting match should have ended once the world got a chance to read Steele’s reports. Any sane person’s reaction to these memos would be that they were lunatic conspiratorial horseshit on the level of Avril Lavigne dying and being replaced by a clone named “Melissa.”

Steele’s most boffo-sensational charge was Russians having a tape of Trump getting off to prostitutes peeing on a Moscow hotel bed once slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama. This, he said, enabled the Russians to blackmail Trump if they so wished. However, per Steele, Putin chose instead to offer a regular flow of lucrative real-estate deals that Trump for some unknown reason kept declining, even though Steele simultaneously reported Trump was exploring the real estate sector in Petersburg as well as Moscow. Meanwhile Trump, who at the outset of the alleged conspiracy was issuing reality TV challenges to heavyweights like LaToya Jackson, Meat Loaf and Jose Canseco, was supposedly feeding Putin information about Russian oligarchs in Pindostan through Russian émigrés “living in Pindostan under cover,” ie Russian immigrants. These middlemen were paid through the mechanism of Russian pension disbursements. Steele, echoing Dr Evil, wrote: “Tens of thousands of dollars were involved.” Finally, after at least five years of well-developed conspiracy, when Russia’s prize asset at last became the nominee of the Thug Party, according to Steele, Putin withheld a secret kompromat file on Hillary Clinton that was being personally run by Dimitri Peskov, because who doesn’t put a press chief known to half the world’s foreign correspondents in charge of a secret intelligence file? However, it wouldn’t have mattered if Putin had given Trump the Hillary file, Steele reported, because it didn’t have anything unorthodox or embarrassing in it, just “eavesdropped conversations of various sorts.”

Devastating revelations? Not to Trump’s Team, who Steele claimed was “relaxed” about Russia stories appearing in the press, as those only “deflected media and Demagogs’ attention” away from the real story, the “substantial bribes and kickbacks” in China. Steele said these would have been “very damaging” to the Trump campaign if revealed, though Steele didn’t know what they were well enough to reveal them. No part of this Clintonian 9/11 Truth tale of a world riddled with plotters united by the same statistically rare urge to treason, and the same strategic instinct to create unnecessary layers of felony witnesses, has ever been proved: not the “moles in the DNC and hackers in Pindostan,” nor any of the sleeper émigré conduits, nor the sophisticated Russian hackers in Prague who for some reason needed the direction of the medallion taxi owner/Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump aides Page and Paul Manafort, named as key conduits, managed to keep their conspiracy to act as intelligence go-betweens hidden even from secret FISA monitoring, the vast Chinese swindles never emerged, and no one ever found those cutout consular officials, whom Steele in an interview with the State Dept seemed to have believed were being paid out of a non-existent Russian consulate in Miami. If you read this and thought it was silly, you weren’t alone. In early 2017, CNN anchor Jake Tapper wrote to Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith in a snit, complaining that Smith had been “irresponsible” and “uncollegial” when he published the dossier. Was Tapper upset that Smith had broken with ethical tradition by publishing unverified material, defaming a string of named human beings as traitorous spies without evidence? Nope. Tapper was mad that Smith had defamed the story by showing where it came from! In an email produced as part of a lawsuit against Buzzfeed, he wrote:

I think your move makes the story less serious and credible. I think you damaged its impact.

Tapper apparently liked the Steele tale better when it was coming out in bits, through more politically astute sources like his buddy and future co-worker, former DNI Clapper, one of the four Sneaky Petes who presented Trump with the Steele synopsis. The now-accepted notion that Steele’s importance lay in his “central claim” of Russian cyber-interference is still more revisionist propaganda. The headline of Steele’s first report was about Trump’s “compromising relationship” with the Kremlin, and the heavy focus of the “original” (non-verifiable) material in the dossier is the “two-way” Trump-Russia plot. The Pindo intelligence community published a conclusion about Russian interference in early Jan 2017. The many coverage oddities surrounding that story comprise another subject for another time. Pindostan didn’t lose its mind for the two ensuing years because of Russian hacking, but rather because of the widespread belief that the new president was a long-cultivated Russian agent who would be found out at any moment, across years of “tipping points” and “beginnings of the end.” The original source of this madness was Steele, and the media and political figures who leaned with all their might into this phony narrative, especially the ones who knew it originated as Clinton campaign research, should be as embarrassed as the newspapers and news networks who pushed the WMD hunt. This obviously hasn’t happened, as the instinct instead has been to apply the Scarlet Letter of conspiracy theory to those who didn’t buy this nonsense, usually on the grounds that any effort to “discredit” Steele is just pro-Trumpism by another name. This has nothing to do with Trump, and everything to do with restoring controls that are supposed to exist to prevent the press from leading the public off the deep end. The WMD affair showed what happens when we don’t require sources to show us evidence, when we let political actors use the press to confirm their own assertions, when we report on the journey of rumors instead of the rumors themselves, and most especially when we lionize intelligence and law enforcement figures, who usually turn out to be just as craven and unreliable as the rest of us. When we let stuff like this go, the public sees us as fools, at which point it doesn’t matter whether what we write is for or against any politician, because nobody believes us anyway. Is this really the industry standard we’re gunning for? Are we never going to own up to this one?

where are the fucking russians? ducking out cowardly as usual

Pindostan Ramping Up Firepower in Syria to Match Syria & Russia
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Nov 11 2019

Maj-Gen Eric Hill, addressing the arrival of more armored vehicles at the Pindo positions in eastern Syria, says it is part of the “resetting” of the Pindo position further east, and required Pindostan to have more “combat power here to sustain ourselves.” Hill says that the goal is not simply to have power to match Daesh, but “the militaries of the Syrian regime, the Russians or even militias backed by fellow NATO partner Turkey.” The focus is on how everyone is carving up territory in eastern Syria, which was once controlled by Pindostan and its Kurdish vassals. Pindostan clearly has problems with the territory being carved up, at the least to the extent that they’re not getting as much territory as they’d figured on. Trump’s talk of taking the oil, and repositioning the Pindo troops at the oilfields show that if Syria is to be carved up, Pindostan intends to take some key pieces. Putting aside long-term Pindo territorial ambitions in Syria, the indications are that the US intends to maintain a presence of less than 1,000 troops in Syria, and even with some tanks and an irresponsibly large number of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, it’s hard to imagine that Pindostan really believes that, and air support, would truly match the militaries of Syria or Russia. Though the Pentagon likes to brag about its ability to project power across the world, in Syria its ability to accomplish anything has historically hinged on getting the Kurds to do it for them. Though the deployment at the oilfields is no doubt capable of inflicting some casualties if control of the fields is challenged, it’s hard to imagine that Pindostan believes it would truly hold this ground with a few hundred troops.

Pindo forces ramp up firepower in Syria to counter new threats
CBS News, Nov 11 2019

Inside Syria, Pindo forces brought out the big guns Monday, including Bradley Fighting Vehicles at a remote base, significantly ramping up Pindo firepower. Major General Eric Hill said their arrival is to counter new threats on the battlefield. Hill said:

We’ve been conducting a withdrawal. We’ve been resetting ourselves here in the east and as we do that, we want to make sure we have the right mix of different vehicles and combat power here to sustain ourselves. Force protection is always something that Pindo forces will ensure.

That power is not to match Daesh, but the militaries of the Syrians and the Russians, or militias backed by Turkey. All are now carving up territory once controlled by Pindostan and its Kurdish vassals. But Pindo forces protecting oil fields face renewed threats after Sergei Lavrov insisted that Syrian forces must soon take them back under their control.

Pentagon says Pindostan won’t keep revenue from Syrian oilfields
CBS News, Nov 6 2019

The Pentagon on Thursday revealed that Pindostan would not be keeping any revenue from oil fields protected by Pindo troops in Syria. Trump insisted last month that Pindostan would “keep the oil,” estimated at $45m/month. Trump also ordered the withdrawal of troops from the region several weeks ago, but CBS News saw soldiers re-establishing their presence inside northeastern Syria. They wouldn’t talk with CBS News, but from what we could overhear, it was more of a meet-and-greet than a tactical deployment of Pindo protection. The Pindo forces have been ordered by the president to secure oilfields. But with the Russians, the Syrians and the Turks trying to take a piece of this territory, Pindostan’s influence has been severely restricted. The Kurdish commander said Pindostan had no choice but to reconsider its drawdown, but that the main reason is definitely not oil. Not the oil itself, but a watch over the territory that encompasses it. Protecting the oil fields might sound pretty straightforward, but securing the oil essentially means securing this entire region. That helps justify the Pindo presence in Syria. On Thursday, a CENTCOM spox told CBS News the repositioning of forces is to defeat ISIS remnants and protect critical infrastructure. But the Trump administration first said a small number of troops would return to ‘protect the oil,’ in an area hundreds of miles from where CBS News saw them.

Turks Shoot Protesters in Kobani
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Nov 12 2019

Turkish troops participating in a joint Russia-Turkey patrol in the Syrian safe zone attacked and killed at least two protesters in the Syrian city of Kobani. The city of Kobani is overwhelmingly Kurdish. The joint patrols have been facing protests in several towns in the safe zone, particularly Kurdish-populated areas, where the Turkish invaders are considered highly unwelcome after last month’s invasion. The SOHR reported two killed and seven injured in the shooting incident on Tuesday. Turkey referred to the firing as the result of “provocation by terrorists.” More interesting is the lack of response from Russia, whose participation in the patrols was seemingly meant to keep them on an even keel. The Russian Defense Ministry reported a patrol through Kobani, but didn’t even mention the shooting incident. Of course there is no sign Russians participated in the shooting, but they were still there and would seemingly have felt that worth reporting. The Kurdish SDF was deeply critical of the matter, declaring in a statement “Turkish army is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad daylight.” That appears to be the size of it, and within the Syria safe zone, the new normal.

Turks in Patrol Shoot Protesters in Kobani: Witness, Observatory
Reuters, Nov 12 2019

BEIRUT — Turkish forces conducting a joint patrol in northern Syria under a Russian-Turkish deal fired live rounds on Tuesday at protesters near the mainly Kurdish town of Kobani, a witness and a monitor said. The London-based SOHR (MI6 – RB) said two people were killed and seven others injured near the town along the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey’s military launched a cross-border offensive into north-east Syria last month to target the Kurdish YPG, seizing control of 120 km of land along the frontier. Under a subsequent deal, Russia and Turkey agreed to push the YPG at least 30 km south of the frontier and to hold joint patrols. The Turkish Defence Ministry said a fifth joint land patrol with Russia took place in the border region on Tuesday “with due care and diligence for the safety of both civilians and our military personnel despite provocation by terrorists.” TASS cited Russia’s Defence Ministry as saying Turkish forces and Russian military police conducted the patrol north of Kobani without mentioning a shooting incident. The witness said forces fired live rounds into the air to disperse residents who were pelting stones at the patrol in an attempt to block it. The forces then fired bullets and tear gas at the protesters, wounding three, he said. Syrian Kurdish residents have protested during the patrols against the deal under which Turkish troops are entering the border region. The reported shooting on Tuesday appeared to be the first such incident since the patrols started last month. The Turkish-Russian deal enabled Syrian government forces to move back into border regions held by Kurdish fighters and where the Syrian army had been absent for years. SDF/YPG spox said in a tweet: “Turkish army is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad daylight.”

Pindo Drones Appear to Show Turkish-Backed Forces Targeting Civilians
Dion Nissenbaum, Gordon Lubold, MSN News, Nov 12 2019

CENTCOM watched live drone feeds in October that appeared to show Turkish-backed Arab gunmen targeting civilians during their assault on Kurdish fighters in north-eastern Syria, attacks they reported to their commanders as possible war crimes. Pindo surveillance videos of two incidents were included in an internal report compiled by the CIA laying out concerns regarding four credible cases of alleged war crimes by Turkish-backed forces. The existence of the military surveillance videos, which hasn’t been previously disclosed, provided what some of them saw as first-hand evidence of apparent war crimes by forces backed by Turkey. Others said the videos were inconclusive. The footage now has become a focal point of a broader debate within the Trump administration over how to address mounting concerns that the Turkish-backed fighters could commit more war crimes if Pindostan doesn’t do more to stop them. The possible war crimes and other issues related to Turkey’s incursion are expected to arise during a White House visit on Wednesday by Erdogan, who has vowed to investigate reports of war crimes, though some say they doubt Turkey will take the issue seriously. Erdogan told reporters at a briefing in Istanbul on Oct 18 when asked about alleged war crimes in Syria:

Those who commit such atrocities are no different than the members of Daesh. Our army is going to take care of that.

While Pindo boxtops said they are pressing Trump to raise concerns about the war crimes allegations with Erdogan, there is no guarantee that the two leaders will discuss the contentious issue in any detail. They are aiming to smooth over sharp divisions and find ways to resolve other major disputes, including Turkey’s decision to buy an advanced Russian missile-defense system over Pindo objections. Congress are poised to impose economic sanctions on Turkey, which has few allies there. Erdogan is relying on his unique relationship with Trump to advance Turkey’s interests. Both men have used bluster, bluffs and political power for leverage in their negotiations. Last year, the Trump administration imposed punishing tariffs and sanctions on Turkey that helped secure the release of an Pindo pastor, Andrew Brunson, who had been held for more than two years on questionable terrorism-related charges. In October, Trump abruptly pulled Pindo forces off the Syria-Turkey border after Erdogan threatened to press ahead with his military operation targeting Pindostan Kurdish vassals over Faschingstein’s objections. Asked about the status of Turkey’s investigation into alleged war crimes, one Turkish boxtop said he wasn’t aware that any formal probe had been launched. Turks said several Pindos have voiced concerns about alleged war crimes, but they never passed along drone surveillance footage or mentioned its existence. Robert O’Brien, Trump’s NSA, said in a Sunday appearance on CBS that the administration had outstanding concerns that Turkey needs to take seriously. he said:

Pindostan won’t stand for it, and we’ve made that position very clear to the Turks.

Some said the video, combined with initial, internal military reports, raised strong concerns about apparent war crimes. They reported the alleged war crimes up the chain of command, as they are required to do by Pentagon regulations. The reports were met with skepticism. One source said:

They were flagged by operators for the chain of command of a possible war crime that were not determined to be definitive proof of war crimes and appeared inconclusive upon further review.

Another said the Trump administration was aware of one “clear-cut case of prisoners with tied hands being shot” by Turkish-backed forces, and a dozen other allegations reported by Kurdish-forces and local aid workers that are still being investigated by human-rights groups. The Turkish assault in northeastern Syria began on Oct 9, three days after Trump announced the withdrawal of Pindo troops from the area. Pindo concerns about the actions of Turkish-backed fighters began almost immediately. A series of videos posted on social media raised suspicion among human-rights groups and others that Syrian gunmen backed by Turkey killed a Kurdish politician, Hevrin Khalaf, on Oct 12 as she rode in an armored vehicle on the main east-west highway in north-eastern Syria. Human rights groups and the UN raised alarms about two other videos posted on social media the same day that appeared to show Turkish-backed forces executing two prisoners along the same road. The following day, CENTCOM sent a drone over the highway to monitor Turkish-backed forces as well as the safety of Pindo forces, who were quickly leaving after Trump’s announcement. The drone’s cameras captured footage of what appeared to be Turkish-backed fighters shooting a civilian in a van. One 19-second video from the drone footage is titled “Alleged TSO Civ Cas Shooting,” using military abbreviations for the terms “civilian casualties” and “Turkish-supported opposition.” The video shows a sport-utility vehicle driving down the highway and pulling over near a van parked along the road. It also shows one person get out of the SUV and into the van. Some said the drone footage showed Turkish-backed forces killing a Kurdish civilian. CENTCOM again watched live drone footage of Turkish-backed forces the next day as they appeared to swarm two trucks by the side of the highway. A crowd surrounded someone lying on the ground behind one of the trucks. The person on the ground appeared to be a victim, but exhibited signs of life by moving. Then he was placed into the back of the other truck. A 30-second video of the incident was also titled “Alleged TSO Civ Cas Shooting.” In this incident, some said they believe the man was clearly shot while on the ground and tossed into a truck. Esper has raised the issues with the Turks, and Pindo boxtops said they believe the Turks should hold anyone accountable for any battlefield wrongdoing. Pentagon spox said:

We expect them to investigate it. We expect them to hold these people to account, and we will continue to push that with them.

Other top Pindo boxtops, including James Jeffrey, the Trump admin’s envoy on the fight against Daesh, have raised concerns publicly and privately with Turkey about alleged war crimes. Jeffrey told a congressional committee in October:

We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes.

Some want the administration to do more to pressure Turkey to restrain the fighters it backs. William Roebuck, the State Dept’s top boxtop in Syria, wrote in an internal memo critical of administration policy that has been reviewed by The WSJ:

One day when the diplomatic history is written, people will wonder what happened here and why boxtops didn’t do more to stop it. The Pindo government should be much more forceful in calling Turkey out for its behavior. The TSO gangs must be withdrawn.

lost in politics

Boris Johnson finally gets his mop out but only makes things worse
Marina Hyde, Graun, Nov 12 2019

3500Johnson attempts to mop the floor at a Specsavers branch in Matlock, Derbyshire.
Photo: Reuters

To say access to Boris Johnson is heavily controlled for this election would be to understate it. There are areas beneath the floorboards behind the fridge in Antarctic ice stations that are more accessible than the prime minister, who now makes Theresa May look like someone who couldn’t wait to get out there amongst it all. Even a walk to Whitehall’s Cabinet Office Briefing Room A has appeared a bridge too far for the past few days. With both Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, and Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, making visits to the flood-affected Doncaster area on Tuesday, it is a mystery why Johnson left it quite so long to chair a Cobra meeting on the situation. The mystery is not so much the failure to empathise – that might be expected given his crisis formbook, of which more later – but the failure to realise he must LOOK as though he empathises. Without wishing to distract the prime minister from whatever it is he is up to in seclusion, you’d think one or other of his advisers might have noticed that a general election was indeed occurring, and that appearing to give at least a quasi-toss about a section of voters might be a helpful position for him to adopt. one volunteer at the donation centre Swinson visited told ITV news on Tuesday morning:

I think it’s absolutely shocking, the Cobra thing they’ve put in force yesterday. I mean, that should have been put in force at the start.

Another volunteer agreed. She told the cameras:

I’m very angry about it. They should be starting to spend some money round here.

The donation centre, incidentally, is a public library that fell victim to austerity cuts, and is now staffed entirely by volunteers even when it’s not a crisis relief centre. Thus the question for the 4D chess grandmasters of No 10 isn’t “why have a Cobra meeting?” but “why NOT have one?” Even these geniuses appeared to have worked this out by Monday night, though unfortunately not before Jeremy Corbyn had sent them a letter telling them the answer. Have a Cobra meeting, guys! Literally just have a Cobra meeting. Late on Monday, Downing Street announced that Johnson would indeed chair a crisis committee meeting on flood response this afternoon. With that in the diary, the airwaves were left to his opponents for most of the day. Perhaps Johnson thought he’d already done his bit, after footage had emerged of him attempting to mop the floor of a Specsavers in Derbyshire last Friday. The widespread verdict was that Johnson appeared to be actually making it worse, possibly understandable given his previous attempts to actually increase the volume of water in public life, via the purchase of three water cannon as London mayor. Indeed, it was this latter period of public office which established that glacial responses to situations requiring leadership are something of a speciality for Johnson. When the London riots broke out in 2011, the mayor was holidaying in a Winnebago in the Canadian Rockies, and deeply resisted backstage efforts to bring him back to work as public fury mounted. The official contortions to cover him became ever more ingenious. Some days in, his deputy mayor for policing, Kit Malthouse, explained it would be “rewarding” the rioters for Boris to return, proclaiming:

He is not going to come back and allow these criminals to set the agenda.

David Cameron’s increasingly irate Downing Street briefed that it was “incredible” that Johnson hadn’t returned. Alas, when the imperative to do so could no longer be ignored, Johnson contrived to perform even worse. A televised visit to Clapham saw his usual shtick fail to wash with Londoners whose businesses had been vandalised, with the lack of empathy widely criticised. The visit almost ended with locals chanting “three days too late!” at his departing back. Almost, but not quite. Towards the end of the walkabout, Johnson grabbed a broom off a bystander and waved it about, and thus ended up starring in a welter of press coverage suggesting he was mucking in with the clean-up. So perhaps he will expunge his current unforced error with a leadership-effect turn for the news bulletins. And perhaps he’ll get his hands dirty in the election campaign, if not the flood region, in the days ahead. But at present the general impression given is of a highly-strung animal who can only be produced on extremely select occasions, and for lightning bursts. A bit like the show dog in The Big Lebowski which has to be handled with great care, otherwise “it gets upset and its hair falls out.” Is it all a brilliant strategy on the Tories’ part, or are they just afraid the prime minister will hump someone’s leg?

so tired of corbyn

Rayner lets rip as Corbyn dies on his lips
John Crace, Graun, Nov 12 2019

Angela Rayner in Blackpool. Photo: Anthony Devlin

Just before the start, the blinds in the executive suite at Blackpool football club were drawn, throwing the room into semi-darkness. As a mark of respect, perhaps. Two years ago, Jeremy Corbyn was in the middle of a surprise sellout tour of the UK. The merchandise stalls had been doing great business with JC4PM T-shirts and the Labour leader had frequently been upgraded to bigger venues. He had been the man. Now he increasingly looks more like someone going through the motions. A last chance powerless drive to cash in by playing a few old favourites in front of a few die-hard fans, before he can dive back to his Born to Runner beans on the allotment, muttering to himself that he had given the election his best shot. Less than two weeks previously, Corbyn had launched Labour’s election campaign with a high-octane rally in Battersea. Back then he still had hope. However small. Now he could barely keep his eyes open as he introduced a showcase programme for lifelong education that should be at the heart of his party’s manifesto. It was almost as if he was punch-drunk. Years of being the underdog, of disproving the doubters, of always bouncing back, have finally taken their toll. Now it looked as if he had had enough. This was Corbyn at his most downbeat. He mumbled:

It makes me angry that some schools are closed on a Friday.

Only he didn’t sound angry at all. Rather, he just sounded a bit fed up. The ageing geography supply teacher who is counting down the days to retirement and doesn’t really give a toss whether the kids learn anything so long as they give him an easy ride and he gets out alive. Not that he didn’t have plenty of good lines. About the floods, about the importance of training for everyone, about children going hungry in schools. He just couldn’t deliver them. Sentences that must have looked great on the page died on his lips. Rallying cries that faded into whispers. It was all he could do to get a response from the audience when he ended with the old favourite of “Our NHS is not for sale.” A few of the hundred or so Labour activists in the room broke into a desultory, short-lived chorus of “Not for sale,” though more out of a sense of obligation than with any real enthusiasm. Live Aid it wasn’t. Even Angela Rayner appeared taken aback by the lack of energy in the room. Normally the shadow education secretary can be relied on to fire up a crowd, but she was unusually hesitant and underpowered at first. She began:

I’ve seen off four education secretaries.

Er, yes. But she had never actually been education secretary, which is Labour’s entire raison d’etre. Coming up with great policies is fairly pointless if you’re never in a position to implement them. Corbyn has seen off three prime ministers and the Tories would be more than happy for him to stay in place and see off three more if it meant Labour was out of office for another 10 years. Gradually, though, Rayner began to hit her stride. She has a great back story and she tells it very well. How she was at home with a baby when her classmates were doing their GCSEs, and how it was only by going back to college to get qualifications that she learned how to help herself and her son by building a career. Everyone deserved a second chance at life. Though it didn’t sound as if Corbyn was going to be allowed a third one. She then raced through her plans for a national education service to close with a killer pay-off. Poverty wasn’t just being penniless, it was being powerless. And she was the voice of the dispossessed.

For the obligatory Q&A, Corbyn joined Rayner on stage and the pair gave every impression of looking as though they were appearing in a hostage video together. Yes, we are being extremely well treated. Yes, we do love these jumpsuits. Orange is our favourite colour. Their eyes screamed “HELP.” Corbyn did most of the talking and his answers were bland and noncommittal. The floods were very serious and he would definitely have done something different to the Tories. The cyber-attack was also serious and he didn’t want to speculate who was behind it but he would encourage others to do the speculating for him. Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were all bad. Finally, though, Rayner let rip. A new Labour government would make the postwar Attlee government look pedestrian. She said:

I am disgusted by Boris and Farage! I don’t fear them! Bring it on!

This was the passion that had been missing all morning. The voice of someone furious that her party was unable to convey even its most basic messages at a time when the Tories were a shambles and the prime minister a low-grade hustler who wouldn’t pass the most basic of security checks. The voice of someone who demanded to be heard. The audience started to perk up. There was some hope after all. Just maybe not in this election.

i’ve always thought of chomsky as useless on palestine

A small victory for free speech on Israel
Chris Knight, Electronic Intifada, Nov 11 2019

Chomsky described attempts to censor what could be said at London
book launch as an “utter outrage.” Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

When we first began organizing a launch event for a Noam Chomsky book, we suspected it might be targeted by pro-Israel activists. After all the book, The Responsibility Of Intellectuals, was based on a 2017 conference at University College London that had been targeted by such activists. Their prime concern was with one contributor to both the conference and the book, Jackie Walker, who had been accused by some newspapers of claiming that Jews caused “an African holocaust.” Significantly, the only evidence cited for this claim came from a Facebook posting. Anyone who looks at the full quotations and context of what Walker wrote will see that she never made such an absurd claim. One pro-Israel activist did confront Walker at that 2017 conference, but she handled the situation calmly and expertly. And we expected no serious problems at our UCL Press book launch in late October this year. What we did not expect was for UCL’s managers to present us with a list of quite outrageous restrictions on what could and could not be said at the launch. One of these restrictions forbade us from implying that “Jews are less vulnerable to discrimination than other minority groups.” Although this particular topic was never intended to be discussed at the launch, it was clearly absurd to forbid us from suggesting that some minority groups, such as Muslims or Black people, might face worse discrimination than Jewish people in today’s Britain.

Even more absurd was another restriction that said that it was forbidden to suggest that “particular sections of the British Jewish community” might “exaggerate” incidents of anti-Semitism. At first glance this restriction seems merely overzealous, until one thinks about it and realizes that all ethnic communities discuss the level of discrimination they endure. Consequently, there are bound to be some members of any ethnic community who, at times, suggest that others are exaggerating the level of discrimination. To give an example of this within the Jewish community, in May 2016, the Jewish Chronicle published an article titled “The problem is real but also exaggerated.” Its author Tony Klug argued that the Jewish community should “end the hysteria and restore a sense of proportion” regarding the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. A further example can be found in a Sep 2017 article also published by the Jewish Chronicle. Its author Jonathan Boyd referred to the tendency of some people “to exaggerate the scale” of the problem of anti-Semitism. Presumably, if they spoke at our UCL book launch, these two academics would be forbidden from repeating their claims, even though the Jewish Chronicle had no problem publishing them. The absurdity of this situation is only intensified when one considers that it was the Jewish Chronicle that first pressured UCL managers to intervene in our book launch in the first place.

To be totally honest, my initial reaction to UCL’s restrictions was to pretend to accept them and then to trust that the individual who chaired the launch would be intelligent enough not to take them too seriously. Fortunately, various Jewish friends convinced me that if we didn’t stand up to this blatant attack on academic freedom, it might well set a precedent for other events at UCL and beyond. A number of prominent academics wrote to us condemning the university’s restrictions, including the geneticist Steve Jones, the sociologist Hilary Rose and the human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Bindman. But it was the outrage and uncompromising stance from Noam Chomsky that really convinced us not to back down and to stand up for academic freedom. Chomsky’s statement was short but astute. he wrote:

If I’d been asked, I would have rejected all of these conditions, for two reasons. First, why bring up anti-Semitism and not Islamophobia, white supremacy and other serious forms of racism? Second, these conditions are an utter outrage. Take the first, stating that it would be anti-Semitic for anyone to say or imply that any Jewish group has ever exaggerated incidents of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party or elsewhere. I’m frankly at a loss for words. Would it be anti-Arab racism to say that some Arab group has exaggerated incidents of anti-Arab racism? If so, I’m a hardened Islamophobe because I know of such cases and have often said so. And so are all journals and commentators on the Middle East, because such behavior is common for other nationalist groups as well. Why are Jewish groups immune from criticism, alone in the world? Beyond that there happens to be solid record of exaggerating incidents of anti-Semitism in Labour. Greg Philo’s recent study documents this in extensive detail.

It took a while and required numerous emails from myself and others, but eventually UCL’s managers withdrew their list of restrictions and let the book launch go ahead. An article in the Times Higher Education Supplement probably also had some effect. But despite this victory, this is no time for complacency. Other universities such as King’s College London have already adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. It severely restricts academic freedom, particularly in relation to the subject of Palestine. And this ongoing censorship campaign can only have been emboldened after Waterstones book chain canceledthe Brighton book launch of the study that Chomsky referred to in his statement, Bad News for Labour, by Greg Philo and others. The situation is even worse in Pindostan. For example, Florida has recently passed legislation prohibiting student groups that focus “peace or human rights investigation only on Israel.” Similar legislation is being considered elsewhere. The Thug politician behind the Florida law, Randy Fine, could not have been clearer about the purpose of the legislation. He has written:

Anti-Semitism will be treated identically as how racism is treated. Students for Justice in Palestine is now treated in the same way as the Ku Klux Klan.

Fine’s legislation includes the claim that it is anti-Semitic to draw “comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Similar wording also appears in the IHRA definition which, under pressure from the right-wing MPs, the media and the pro-Israel lobby, was last year adopted by the British Labour Party. Although comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany can sometimes be ahistorical and even absurd, to suggest that they are always anti-Semitic is equally absurd. A friend who happens to be a son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor recently compiled a list of Holocaust survivors who had themselves made comparisons between some aspects of Zionism and the Nazis. He came up with a list of nine such survivors, including famous individuals such as Primo Levi and Rudolf Vrba, which I recently published on the Labour Briefing website. Presumably all these survivors, if alive today, could be at risk of being banned from King’s College or from the Labour Party, and if that wasn’t outrageous enough, these individuals would not just be banned for criticizing Israel but for being anti-Semitic. Genuine anti-Semitism is a very serious issue and needs to be actively confronted, but clearly much of the recent lobbying around anti-Semitism in Pindostan & Britain is more about protecting Israel from criticism than about concerns over genuine anti-Semitism. Many of us in the Labour Party have been waiting for the ongoing campaign around anti-Semitism to fade away so we can go back to focusing on other important issues. That’s why my initial reaction to the restrictions imposed on our book launch was to ignore them. But I’m afraid we all need to accept that the pro-Israel lobby and its powerful allies in the media and the right-wing of the Labour Party will not just fade away.Rather, they need to be confronted wherever and whenever they attempt to misuse the issue of anti-Semitism in order to immunize the Israeli state from criticism.

Chris Knight is a member of the editorial board of Labour Briefing, a publication based in London. He edited The Responsibility Of Intellectuals, along with Nicholas Allott and Neil Smith. A free online version is available at the UCL Press website.

more vicious scum paid by the pindo and british secret services, as everywhere else worldwide

Hong Kong: “Marginal Violence” Fails To Win More Protest Support
Moon of Alabama, Nov 11 2019

After nearly six months of violent “protest,” the Pindo-supported anti-Chinese rioters in Hong Kong are switching into overdrive. Today there were more than 16 hours of continuous violent rioting by small groups of black clad “protesters”:

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has addressed the press after a day of violence in which at least one protester has been shot with a live round, while another man was set on fire during a dispute, as clashes continue across the city.She condemns the actions of protesters, warning them that it is “wishful thinking” to expect that the government will yield to their political demands if faced with violence. Commuters are facing transport chaos and disruption. Major thoroughfares across several districts have been blocked and MTR services suspended after objects were thrown onto the tracks of the East Rail line, a fire was set on a train at Kwai Fong and protesters vandalised several other stations.

Today’s rampage comes after a “protester” died when he fell from a floor in a parking garage. The rioters claim that police was involved in the incident but surveillance footage shows that the man was all alone. After peaceful “color revolutions” ceased to work violence was introduced as part of all Pindo “regime change” operations. The thinking behind it was explained in a Jun 30 NYT op-ed:

An important idea that has been circulating in online forums is now firmly planted in my mind. It is called the Marginal Violence Theory (暴力邊緣論), and it holds that protesters should not actively use or advocate violence, but instead use the most aggressive nonviolent actions possible to push the police and the government to their limits. The protesters should thoughtfully escalate nonviolence, maybe even resort to mild force, to push the government to the edge.

Violence against the  government was supposed to create a violent response which would then increase the support for the protests. That theory seems not to work in Hong Kong. Legit demonstrations are now reduced to a few hundreds of people. The hundred thousands who attended the first demonstrations no longer come. They have recognized that the core protesters’ “mild force” is just senseless violence and that these rioters are completely unreasonable. Today they intentionally burned a man who was verbally opposing them:

By Monday evening, Leung Chi-cheung, a 57-year-old father of two daughters, was fighting for his life in hospital with severe burns to his body as well as head trauma. The video footage then showed Leung returning to confront the protesters, whereupon a dispute ensued. A police source said: “During the dispute, he was doused with flammable liquid and set alight.” Another source described the attack as ruthless. The source said: “The victim stood up bravely after the sabotage, but the rioters tried to burn him alive. Such an attack is inhumane.”

There is video of the attack. Pindo poster child Joshua Wong has called the arsonists among the rioters “fire magicians.” Like other leaders of the “pro-democracy” opposition, Wong has refused to condemn the violence. Other rioters attacked a traffic cop who was clearing a minor road blockade. One rioter tried to grab his gun and got shot:

In the video, an officer grapples with a protester and points his gun towards another approaching protester. The second protester reaches out towards the gun, the officer dodges, steps back and shoots him in the torso.

A truck driver who was waiting for the road to be cleared applauded the policeman’s action. Here is video of the incident. The police arrested more than 260 rioters today. Unfortunately they will likely be released on bail and go back into the streets to continue their violence. Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam can and should change that by an emergency decree. Taking a thousand or more of these misguided upper class students permanently off the street would dramatically decrease the violence. The severe economic damage the “protests” cause to regular Hongkongers is no longer deniable. A large majority of them would likely welcome a tougher response to the rioters.