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US-backed SDF militants steal 140,000 barrels per day of Syrian oil in Hasakah: Report
Press TV

Feb 21, 2021


   Militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is supported by the United States, steal 140,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis from oil fields in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah, a report says.

Ghassan Halim Khalil, governor of Hasakah, announced the grim news in an interview with the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday, adding that Syrian oil is being plundered by the SDF militants in various ways, all with the participation and support of American forces deployed to the region.

He stressed that precise intelligence collected and received show that US-backed militants use tanker trucks from Taramish area in the vicinity of Tigris and in al-Malikiyah to smuggle the Syrian oil to neighboring Iraq.

Khalil further noted that many tanker trucks pass through the illegal al-Mahmoudiyah crossing into Iraq every day, adding that the SDF militants also regularly send mounts of stolen oil to their controlled areas in Syria.

The Syrian governor also revealed that the US forces have ordered the SDF militants not to allow the Damascus-controlled areas receive oil.

Khalil added that while the Syrian people are suffering from the cold weather and hunger, these US-supported militants plunder Syria's national oil resources.

The US looting of Syrian oil was first confirmed during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo last July.

During his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo confirmed for the first time that an American oil company would begin work in northeastern Syria, which is controlled by the SDF, which is an alliance of Kurdish militants operating against Damascus and currently controls areas in northern and eastern Syria.

The Syrian government at the time denounced in the strongest terms the agreement inked to plunder the country's natural resources, including Syrian oil and gas, under the sponsorship and support of the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

Since late October 2019, the US has been redeploying soldiers to the SDF-controlled oil fields in eastern Syria, in a reversal of Trump's earlier order to withdraw all troops from the war-torn country.

The Pentagon claims that the move aims to "protect" the fields and facilities from possible attacks by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, while Trump famously said that the US seeks economic interests in controlling the oil fields.

A US-led military coalition has been pounding what it claimed was positions of Daesh inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The strikes have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.




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   Syria condemns in strongest terms US aggression on its sovereignty
26 February? 2021

Damascus, SANA -Syria condemned in the strongest terms the US aggression on areas in Deir Ezzor near the Syrian-Iraqi border yesterday, stressing it gives a negative indication to the policies of the new American administration.


   Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a statement that "In a flagrant violation of the rules of international law and Charter of the United Nations, the US warplanes on Thursday, February 25, 2021, launched a coward aggression by bombing some areas in Deir Ezzor province near the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

It added that the aggression was syncronized with the presence of UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, in Damascus and this sends a message of a US disregard of the role of international legitimacy in resolving the crisis in Syria.

Foreign Ministry stated that this blatant aggression is a new chain in the series of repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation forces, the so-called "international coalition," the Turkish occupation, and the crimes of armed terrorist organizations against the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic under illusive pretexts.

" The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the US aggression against its sovereignty, which contradicts with the terms of international law and the United Nations Charter and with its role as a permanent member of the Security Council," the statement said.

It warned that this aggression will lead to repercussions that escalate the situation in the region, as well as it gives a negative indication to the policies of the new US administration, which is supposed to adhere to international legitimacy.

The Ministry went on to say that the Syrian Arab Republic calls on the US to change its aggressive policy towards it and stop aggression against its sovereignty.

It added that the government of the Syrian Arab Republic affirms its determination to restore every inch of the land and liberate it from the occupation and terrorism.





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   Biden's Post-Trump NATO Reset Points to Failing U.S. Global Power in Multipolar World
Strategic Culture Foundation

February 19, 2021


   The more the US pushes NATO as its vehicle, the more it is apparent that the battery of American power is running flat.

A month after his inauguration, President Joe Biden's administration formally engaged on the international stage this week to set out key foreign policies.

His Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin addressed a two-day NATO summit via video link in which he relayed the message from Biden that the US would re-engage with transatlantic European allies. Four years of Donald Trump's abrasive America First policy was being jettisoned in place of a more smooth, consensual approach under Biden.

President Biden would himself address videoconferences of the Group of Seven nations held Friday, as well as the annual Munich Security Conference over the weekend. A major development is the Biden administration's announcement that it is ready to rejoin the international nuclear accord with Iran, thereby repudiating Trump's rejection of that deal. It remains to be seen, however, just what the Biden administration will want in exchange for honoring its signature to the treaty which was negotiated in 2015.

Other policy reversals include US troops remaining in Germany in contrast to Trump's plan to draw down numbers. That sounds like another exercise in repairing relations with the Europeans.

Previously, Biden also announced he would negotiate with Russia on extending the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons. The latter move is cautiously welcomed. But, again, it remains to be seen.

There's no doubt about the change in style. The Biden administration is promising to be collegiate about strategic decision-making with European allies. The bullying rhetoric used by Trump for hectoring European members to spend more on NATO military commitments has been ditched by Biden. The Washington establishment was acutely concerned that Trump's transactional tirades were alienating European allies and undermining the 30-nation NATO alliance, which in turn was diminishing America's authority and frustrating its interests.

Historically, the United States relies on NATO as a conduit to project its power and influence over Europe. This was its fundamental objective when NATO was first set up in 1949 at the start of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. In recent decades, NATO has assumed an ever-expanding purpose for American imperial power projection, encompassing not just Western Europe but all of Europe right up to Russia's borders. NATO has become a vehicle for American hegemonic ambitions holding sway over the Balkans, Caucasia, North Africa and the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

For an organization that nominally originated for maintaining security in the North Atlantic, it sounds rather odd indeed to hear its spokesmen talk now about the need for NATO to confront China. That oddly expanded global mission reflects the real but unspoken fact that NATO is all about serving American global ambitions.

Former President Trump was too ignorant or obsessed with money-grubbing financial costs – "we're being ripped off" he would repeatedly complain with regard to NATO – to realize the strategic bigger picture of what the alliance is really purposed to serve.

Under a new man in the White House – an old-time establishment operative – there is seemingly a more consensual approach with allies. Nevertheless, underlying the liberal lexicon there is the same old mantra of hostility towards Russia and China.

Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon chief, told European allies this week that there would have to be "more burden sharing" in order to confront the "threats" allegedly posed by Russia and China. Biden continued the same theme of confronting Russia and China during his G7 and Munich conferences over the weekend.

American hegemonic ambitions required to satisfy its corporate capitalism are dependent on a zero-sum geopolitics. The globe must divided into spheres of influence as in the earlier Cold War decades. There must be antagonism to thwart genuine cooperation which is anathema to American capitalism. Indeed, it can be said that the Cold War never actually ended when the Soviet Union dissolved more three decades ago. America's imperialist ideology continued under new guises of "fighting terrorism", "democracy promotion and nation building", or more recently "great power competition" with Russia and China.

The bottom line is that NATO is more important than ever for enabling Washington's global power ambitions given the demise of American capitalism and the rise of China and Eurasia. NATO provides a crucial political cover for what would otherwise be seen as naked American imperialism.

The contradiction, however, is that the world is increasingly moving towards a multipolar realm where nations are more interdependent and integrated in economic relations. Russia and China are major trading and investment partners with Europe, not adversaries, and even less so enemies. The latter depiction is absurd.

The only people claiming that Russia and China are a "threat" are the Americans, regardless of who is sitting in the White House, whether Republican or Democrat. (Well, not the only people. There are minor figures in Europe, such as the reactionary, rightwing Baltic politicians, who also spout Russophobia and Sinophobia in dutiful deference to their American mentors.)

Thus it can be adjudged that there will be no fundamental post-Trump reset of NATO under Biden. The organization remains what it has always been, a war machine to advance American imperialist objectives of hegemony. The only difference is the Biden administration is more savvy about projecting a more palatable image and rhetoric about "consensus", "diversity" and "burden sharing".

This revamped, yet in essence ideologically rigid, NATO suffers serious dissonance in practical relations with the real world of multipolar evolution. Biden will try to cohere NATO members to America's global ambitions but those same members are inevitably aligning with the rest of the world out of their own political and economic self-interest. The more militaristic NATO tries to become at the goading of the Americans and their European flunkies like Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the more the alliance is likely to unravel. Its imperialist function is no longer fit for purpose nor viable in today's world.

The more the US pushes NATO as its vehicle, the more it is apparent that the battery of American power is running flat
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The fact that Xi and Putin were there was significant and the billionaire media did not report what they said.


   Davos 2021 Speeches by Putin and Xi Point to a Different Future
New Eastern Outlook, James ONeill

Feb 2, 2021


   The Davos Group of nations recently held its annual meeting electronically, the coronavirus preventing attendance in person for the first time. The United States was represented by John Kerry, one of many Democrats recycled from the Obama years. Russia was represented by its president, Vladimir Putin, and China, for the first time since 2017, by its president Xi Jinping. The western media largely ignored the contribution of the latter two but what they had to say was significant and worthy of closer examination.

Putin had received a copy of a book in 2019 from one of the main conference organisers, a personal friend Klaus Schwab. The book was entitled The Fourth Industrial Revolution and was written by Schwab. Putin used the contents of the book as one of the main themes of his address.

The theme of the book had obviously been overtaken by the events of 2020's coronavirus, but it still provided several important talking points that Putin used to structure his speech. He noted that the Covid 19 illness had accelerated numerous pre-existing structural problems in the world economy, particularly what he referred to as the cumulative effects of sub-economic problems that he identified as being the fundamental reason for unstable growth.

That unstable growth has led to a growing exacerbation of many international problems. Referring to the growing inequality in the world's economy, he laid the blame squarely at the door of the richest 1% who dominated income and profits. This led in turn to a growing exacerbation of many international problems.

Expecting these problems to be identified, much less addressed, was unlikely, not least because the mainstream media is unlikely to identify the source of the problem, given that their owners are overwhelmingly from the same 1%. The degree of foreign policy propaganda rhetoric was growing. Although he did not say so directly, it is obvious that Russia has long been a victim of mass disinformation from the western media.

Putin pointed out that he could expect the nature of practical actions to become more aggressive, including pressure on countries that resist the attempts by unnamed powers, but clearly alluding to the United States, to use illegitimate trade barriers, sanctions and other restrictions in finance, technology and cyber space to control the recalcitrant.

The end result of such a game, with no rules, or at least a set of rules for the elites which can be modified at will, critically increases the risk of unilateral military action.

Putin identified four priorities which the world must adopt to avoid these disastrous consequences occurring. First, there should be comfortable living conditions for everyone. This will be extraordinarily difficult to attain and he offered no real clues as to how the problem might be overcome.

Secondly, the aim must be for everyone to have a job that would ensure sustainable growth and income, and access to lifelong education which he defined as being absolutely indispensable.

Thirdly, people must be confident that they will receive high-quality medical care.

Fourthly, regardless of family income, children must receive a decent education.

These were not exhaustive demands, but they arguably provide the essential basis for a civilised life. Many countries have already achieved this, including the Scandinavian countries and New Zealand. Even among the so-called developed world there are glaring inequalities and they will not be overcome in the immediate future.

This grim reality was acknowledged in Putin's final comment when he said that competition and rivalry between countries never stopped, do not stop, and never will stop. The challenge will be to ensure the rivalry does not deteriorate into war.

Xi for his part identified four major tasks facing the contemporary world. First, the world needed to "step up" macro-economic policy coordination to promote strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the world economy.

Secondly, he said, the world needed to "abandon ideological prejudice, and jointly follow a path of peaceful coexistence, mutual benefit and (using a phrase with which he is identified) win-win cooperation."

Differences in societies is not itself a cause for alarm. What did bring alarm, he noted, was "arrogance, prejudice and hatred." Xi quite bluntly identified a major problem as attempts to "force one's own history, culture and social systems upon another."

That final phrase needs to be read and absorbed by many western leaders, including notably Australia, who perceive the growth of China as an existential threat to their own existence. There is no evidence to support these fears, but they are a constant refrain in western media analysis.

Thirdly, Xi said, the challenge is to close the divide between the developed and the developing countries. The growth of developing countries would put prosperity and stability on a more solid footing.

Fourthly, we needed to come together against global challenges. No global problem can be solved by one country alone, and wilfully imposing decoupling, supply disruption and sanctions to create isolation and estrangement would only push the world toward divisions and confrontation.

And what may be perceived as a direct challenge to western claims to enjoy a monopoly on support for their interpretation of the law, Xi stated that "we should stay committed to international law and international rules, instead of seeking one's own supremacy." International government, he said, should be based on the "rules and consensus reached among us, not on the order given by one or the few."

That last phrase alone would be enough to set a rumble among the western powers, who for too long have claimed a monopoly on the "rules based international order." What they really mean is their rules and their order. Xi was sending a clear message that those days are over and international law means just that, rather than the preserve of the wealthy few whose dictates for the past 70+ years have been the source of endless strife and benefits accumulating for the rich few.

It is doubtful that the west will listen to either Putin or Xi, much less modify their behaviour. The world however has changed. The sooner the old western powers recognise that change and modify their behaviour, the sooner we are likely to achieve the goals set out so clearly by both Putin and Xi. The limited coverage their speeches received in the west does not augur well. As the multiple series of agreements being made by diverse nations in the greater Eurasian region demonstrate however, the old world is rapidly disappearing. The sooner that is recognised the safer the world will be.

James O'Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
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We were talking about Putin these are  from the Economic Forum and for your info:

This Is Why They Attack Him - Putin Explains Why We Need New Economic Policies
Moon of Alabama

Feb 2, 2021


   The President of Russia Vladimir Putin has given a great speech to the Davos 2021 online forum organized by the World Economic Forum. As usual it created little echo in the 'western' media.

Putin sees a new danger of large international conflicts. Economic imbalances have caused socio-political problems in many countries which, when externalized, can lead to international conflicts.

To solve this one has to reject the laissez faire doctrines that caused the economic imbalances. The nation states must intervene more in their economies. The people must be seen as the ends, not the means of such economic policy. There must be more international cooperation through global organizations to enable this everywhere.

There is more in the speech than that. But the above is the core idea. U.S. neo-liberalism will of course reject such a program.

Following are excerpts that reflect on the above points.

The big picture view points to great danger:

The pandemic has exacerbated the problems and imbalances that built up in the world before. There is every reason to believe that differences are likely to grow stronger. These trends may appear practically in all areas.

Needless to say, there are no direct parallels in history. However, some experts – and I respect their opinion – compare the current situation to the 1930s. One can agree or disagree, but certain analogies are still suggested by many parameters, including the comprehensive, systemic nature of the challenges and potential threats.

We are seeing a crisis of the previous models and instruments of economic development. Social stratification is growing stronger both globally and in individual countries. We have spoken about this before as well. But this, in turn, is causing today a sharp polarisation of public views, provoking the growth of populism, right- and left-wing radicalism and other extremes, and the exacerbation of domestic political processes including in the leading countries.

All this is inevitably affecting the nature of international relations and is not making them more stable or predictable. International institutions are becoming weaker, regional conflicts are emerging one after another, and the system of global security is deteriorating.

Klaus [Schwab] has mentioned the conversation I had yesterday with the US President on extending the New START. This is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, the differences are leading to a downward spiral. As you are aware, the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to the WWII catastrophe.

Putin then goes into the details of the above theses.

What caused the current economic imbalances?

These imbalances in global socioeconomic development are a direct result of the policy pursued in the 1980s, which was often vulgar or dogmatic. This policy rested on the so-called Washington Consensus with its unwritten rules, when the priority was given to the economic growth based on a private debt in conditions of deregulation and low taxes on the wealthy and the corporations.

As I have already mentioned, the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these problems. In the last year, the global economy sustained its biggest decline since WWII. By July, the labour market had lost almost 500 million jobs. Yes, half of them were restored by the end of the year but still almost 250 million jobs were lost. This is a big and very alarming figure. In the first nine months of the past year alone, the losses of earnings amounted to $3.5 trillion. This figure is going up and, hence, social tension is on the rise.

At the same time, post-crisis recovery is not simple at all. If some 20 or 30 years ago, we would have solved the problem through stimulating macroeconomic policies (incidentally, this is still being done), today such mechanisms have reached their limits and are no longer effective. This resource has outlived its usefulness. This is not an unsubstantiated personal conclusion.

According to the IMF, the aggregate sovereign and private debt level has approached 200 percent of global GDP, and has even exceeded 300 percent of national GDP in some countries. At the same time, interest rates in developed market economies are kept at almost zero and are at a historic low in emerging market economies.

Taken together, this makes economic stimulation with traditional methods, through an increase in private loans virtually impossible. The so-called quantitative easing is only increasing the bubble of the value of financial assets and deepening the social divide. The widening gap between the real and virtual economies (incidentally, representatives of the real economy sector from many countries have told me about this on numerous occasions, and I believe that the business representatives attending this meeting will agree with me) presents a very real threat and is fraught with serious and unpredictable shocks.

The economic imbalances create deep socio-political problems:

In this context, I would like to mention the second fundamental challenge of the forthcoming decade – the socio-political one. The rise of economic problems and inequality is splitting society, triggering social, racial and ethnic intolerance. Indicatively, these tensions are bursting out even in the countries with seemingly civil and democratic institutions that are designed to alleviate and stop such phenomena and excesses.

The systemic socioeconomic problems are evoking such social discontent that they require special attention and real solutions. The dangerous illusion that they may be ignored or pushed into the corner is fraught with serious consequences.

In this case, society will still be divided politically and socially. This is bound to happen because people are dissatisfied not by some abstract issues but by real problems that concern everyone regardless of the political views that people have or think they have. Meanwhile, real problems evoke discontent.

The danger rises when the socio-political problems get externalized:

And finally, the third challenge, or rather, a clear threat that we may well run into in the coming decade is the further exacerbation of many international problems. After all, unresolved and mounting internal socioeconomic problems may push people to look for someone to blame for all their troubles and to redirect their irritation and discontent. We can already see this. We feel that the degree of foreign policy propaganda rhetoric is growing.

We can expect the nature of practical actions to also become more aggressive, including pressure on the countries that do not agree with a role of obedient controlled satellites, use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions and restrictions in the financial, technological and cyber spheres.

Such a game with no rules critically increases the risk of unilateral use of military force. The use of force under a far-fetched pretext is what this danger is all about. This multiplies the likelihood of new hot spots flaring up on our planet. This concerns us.

What can be done to prevent the danger which arises from socio-political problems caused by imbalanced economies?

Clearly, with the above restrictions and macroeconomic policy in mind, economic growth will largely rely on fiscal incentives with state budgets and central banks playing the key role.

Actually, we can see these kinds of trends in the developed countries and also in some developing economies as well. An increasing role of the state in the socioeconomic sphere at the national level obviously implies greater responsibility and close interstate interaction when it comes to issues on the global agenda. ... It is clear that the world cannot continue creating an economy that will only benefit a million people, or even the golden billion. This is a destructive precept. This model is unbalanced by default. The recent developments, including migration crises, have reaffirmed this once again.

We must now proceed from stating facts to action, investing our efforts and resources into reducing social inequality in individual countries and into gradually balancing the economic development standards of different countries and regions in the world. This would put an end to migration crises.

The essence and focus of this policy aimed at ensuring sustainable and harmonious development are clear. They imply the creation of new opportunities for everyone, conditions under which everyone will be able to develop and realise their potential regardless of where they were born and are living.

Here Putin sets the goals for national strategies:

I would like to point out four key priorities, as I see them. This might be old news, but since Klaus has allowed me to present Russia's position, my position, I will certainly do so.

First, everyone must have comfortable living conditions, including housing and affordable transport, energy and public utility infrastructure. Plus environmental welfare, something that must not be overlooked.

Second, everyone must be sure that they will have a job that can ensure sustainable growth of income and, hence, decent standards of living. Everyone must have access to an effective system of lifelong education, which is absolutely indispensable now and which will allow people to develop, make a career and receive a decent pension and social benefits upon retirement.

Third, people must be confident that they will receive high-quality and effective medical care whenever necessary, and that the national healthcare system will guarantee access to modern medical services.

Fourth, regardless of the family income, children must be able to receive a decent education and realise their potential. Every child has potential.

This is the only way to guarantee the cost-effective development of the modern economy, in which people are perceived as the end, rather than the means. Only those countries capable of attaining progress in at least these four areas will facilitate their own sustainable and all-inclusive development. These areas are not exhaustive, and I have just mentioned the main aspects.

A strategy, also being implemented by my country, hinges on precisely these approaches.

What should be done globally:

We are open to the broadest international cooperation, while achieving our national goals, and we are confident that cooperation on matters of the global socioeconomic agenda would have a positive influence on the overall atmosphere in global affairs, and that interdependence in addressing acute current problems would also increase mutual trust which is particularly important and particularly topical today.

Obviously, the era linked with attempts to build a centralised and unipolar world order has ended. To be honest, this era did not even begin. A mere attempt was made in this direction, but this, too, is now history. The essence of this monopoly ran counter to our civilisation's cultural and historical diversity.

The reality is such that really different development centres with their distinctive models, political systems and public institutions have taken shape in the world. Today, it is very important to create mechanisms for harmonising their interests to prevent the diversity and natural competition of the development poles from triggering anarchy and a series of protracted conflicts.

To achieve this we must, in part, consolidate and develop universal institutions that bear special responsibility for ensuring stability and security in the world and for formulating and defining the rules of conduct both in the global economy and trade.

It is no wonder that the neo-liberal 'west' constantly attacks Putin and at the same time takes care that his speech gets as little attention as possible. It is dangerous because it could give the deplorables some ideas.

It is also sad that no 'western' politician I am aware of would ever give such a speech.

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By Craig MURRAY

It has been a long and tiring day, with the startlingly unexpected decision to block Julian’s extradition. The judgement is in fact very concerning, in that it accepted all of the prosecution’s case on the right of the US Government to prosecute publishers worldwide of US official secrets under the Espionage Act. The judge also stated specifically that the UK Extradition Act of 2003 deliberately permits extradition for political offences. These points need to be addressed. But for now we are all delighted at the ultimate decision that extradition should be blocked.

The decision was based equally on two points; the appalling conditions in US supermax prisons, and the effect of those conditions on Julian specifically given his history of depression. The media has concentrated on the mental health aspect, and given insufficient attention to the explicit condemnation of the inhumanity of the US prison system.

I was the only person physically present in the public gallery inside the court, having been nominated by John Shiption to represent the family, aside from two court officials. I am quite sure that I again noted magistrate Baraitser have a catch in her throat when discussing the inhumane conditions in US supermax prisons, the lack of human contact, and specifically the fact that inmates are kept in total isolation in a small cage, and are permitted one hour exercise a day in total isolation in another small cage. I noted her show emotion the same way when discussing the al-Masri torture evidence during the trial, and she seemed similarly affected here.

Julian looked well and alert; he showed no emotion at the judgement, but entered into earnest discussion with his lawyers. The US government indicated they will probably appeal the verdict, and a bail hearing has been deferred until Wednesday to decide whether he will be released from Belmarsh pending the appeal – which court sources tell me is likely to be held in April in the High Court. I should be very surprised if Julian is not released on Wednesday pending the appeal. I shall now be staying here for that bail hearing.

I apologise for not giving a full analysis of the judgement yet, it has all been rather hectic, but wonderful. Here is a brief video giving more detail. I can produce a more considered piece tomorrow.

Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

craigmurray.org.uk
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to U.S., judge rules
Via CNBC , Sam Shead

Jan 4 2021


   A British judge ruled Monday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, one of the world's most high-profile whistleblowers, cannot be extradited to the U.S.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser said extradition would be oppressive due to Assange's mental health.

"The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man, who is genuinely fearful about his future," Baraitser wrote in her ruling. "For all of these reasons I find that Mr. Assange's risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial."

The U.S. is expected to appeal the decision within the allocated two-week time frame.

Assange is wanted in the U.S. over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010 and 2011. He is wanted on 18 charges, 17 of which fall under the U.S. Espionage Act.

His health has deteriorated while being held in a U.K. prison.

The U.S. has specifically accused him of conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to decipher a password known as "hash" in order to access a classified U.S. Department of Defense computer and expose military secrets.

Assange's supporters argue that the U.S. is targeting him for political reasons after his journalism exposed alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as human rights abuses.

If the 49-year-old Australian is extradited and convicted in the U.S., he could be sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison, his lawyers have said. His mother, Christine Assange, said on Twitter that he won't survive if he is extradited. Prosecutors have said he would face no more than 5¼ years behind bars.

Assange's lawyers said in a closing written submission to Baraitser that the prosecution had been politically motivated "during a unique period of U.S. history under the (President Donald) Trump administration."

The legal team representing the U.S. said federal prosecutors are forbidden to consider political opinion in making their decisions.

New indictment

The U.S. Justice Department issued a new indictment in June alleging that Assange conspired with members of hacking organizations and tried to recruit hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia who could provide WikiLeaks with classified information.

Assange's lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, tried to delay the hearing, arguing in August that the indictment arrived too late for his team to review and respond to it properly. James Lewis represented the U.S. authorities.

Fitzgerald said he had not seen Assange face to face for six months, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the BBC. However, a bid to rule out the new charges was unsuccessful.

Speaking from a glass box in August, Assange said he did not consent to extradition.

The hearing lasted four weeks, with dozens of witnesses called to give evidence.

Locked up in Belmarsh

WikiLeaks published U.S. military video footage in 2010 showing a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a dozen people. It then published thousands of secret military documents and diplomatic cables.

Soon after, Sweden tried to extradite Assange from Britain for alleged sex crimes. When he lost that case in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and sought asylum.

Assange was arrested at the embassy in April 2019 for breaching his bail conditions and has since been held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison in southeast London.

Assange's partner, Stella Moris, told PA Media in the summer that her partner's has health was deteriorating.

"This is an attack on journalism," she said. "If he is extradited to the U.S. for publishing inconvenient truths about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then it will set a precedent, and any British journalist or publisher could also be extradited in the future."

Moris launched a crowdfunding campaign last month to pay for Assange's legal fees. Over £175,000 ($239,000) has been pledged.




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Newcastle Stop the War / BREAKING RANKS, THE CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT OF JEREMY CORBYN
« Last post by Roger on November 05, 2020, 11:33:54 AM »
BREAKING RANKS, THE CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT OF JEREMY CORBYN

Chris Nineham Stop the war

The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn because he argued claims of antisemitism in Labour were deliberately exaggerated is a travesty. There is plenty of evidence on record that various leading figures within Labour deliberately inflated claims of antisemitism to undermine Corbyn. It is clear from the content of the EHRC report itself that there is a gaping discrepancy between the claims of systemic antisemitism made by politicians and media and the actual record.

Despite this, the Labour leadership remains adamant. Kier Starmer’s intense focus on marginalising Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is part of a pattern. From the start of his leadership Corbyn suffered an unprecedented level of attacks not just from the Labour right but from all corners of the establishment.

The right wing of the Labour Party plotted against him from the start. Highlights included the choreographed resignation of 44 frontbench MPs in so many hours after the 2016 Brexit vote, the weaponization of the antisemitism issue by senior Labour figures exposed in Labour’s internal report on antisemitism and the associated 2019 split led by Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna.

On Manoeuvres

Anti-Corbyn manoeuvres went way beyond Labour. Early in his tenure, generals briefed journalists that he was a security threat and that the armed forces would not serve under him. For a year MI6 refused the normal meeting with the leader of the opposition. In 2019, senior civil servants told the Times that he was ‘too frail’ to be prime minister and that he was ‘losing his memory’.

Tony Blair’s extensive networks were fully mobilised as Peter Mandelson made clear when he promised to ‘work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his tenure in office’. Even the US administration was in on the act with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving private assurances that the administration would ‘push back’ against Corbyn even before he got elected and adding, ‘It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

The tabloid media spent the five years of his leadership demonising Corbyn. First as poorly dressed, sexist and unstatesmanlike and then as a national security threat and a terrorist sympathiser as things became more alarming. The liberal media joined in the sport, running twice as much hostile as favourable coverage. As a letter signed by one hundred media academics put it, ‘Corbyn has been treated from the start as a problem to be solved rather than as a politician to be taken seriously.’

Red Lines

It is no accident that so many of the attacks centred on questions of security and foreign policy. It was a major cause of concern for those in power that unlike any other Labour leader since the 1930s Corbyn openly opposed Britain’s aggressive foreign policy and the special relationship with the US. He was widely mocked for being the chair of the Stop the War Coalition when he was elected. What was more worrying was that Corbyn stuck to his anti-war principles after he became leader.

One of the early rebellions against his leadership came in December 2015 when eleven cabinet members, including shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, broke with Labour policy and voted for the Tory push to extend Britain’s bombing of Iraq to Syria. The rebellion was backed by a political and media chorus echoed by some on the left demanding Corbyn distance himself from Stop the War and ludicrously that he boycott Stop the War’s Christmas dinner. Corbyn refused, came to the event and publicly stood by the Stop the War Coalition as ‘a vital democratic campaign’.

Corbyn had already caused consternation within the establishment by repeatedly refusing to countenance pushing the nuclear button if in office, despite the fact that Labour was committed to renewing Trident. He promised too that a Labour government would recognise the Palestinian state. In 2016, he broke another foreign policy taboo and directly confronted Blair’s legacy by apologising on behalf of the Labour Party for the Iraq war.

The following year he responded to the appalling Manchester terrorist attack by hosting a high profile press conference at which he linked the spread of terrorism with “wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home”. As Corbyn said this was the private view of most in the security services. Corbyn was so transgressive because he was prepared to speak openly about such matters. By doing so he threatened to shine a light on the dark heart of the British foreign policy establishment; its collusion in regime change, torture, illegal arms sales and the enormous suffering caused by the wars in the Middle East and beyond.

He was also prepared to draw policy conclusions. As he said at the press conference:

“We must be brave enough to admit the ‘war on terror’ is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”

After the press conference, the media predicted a massive public backlash. That didn’t happen. Instead, polls awkwardly showed that 75% of the British public backed Corbyn’s stand.

The Disrupter

Particularly after the impressive gains that Corbyn-led party made in the 2017 election, the British establishment was presented with a profoundly serious and utterly unprecedented political problem. Labour was gaining popularity under a left-wing leader who openly opposed the strategy of maintaining a global role for Britain by supporting US power projection around the world. Given the importance of the arms trade, financial services and foreign investment within the British establishment, the ‘global Britain’ strategy is simply non-negotiable.

This is one of the reasons why the establishment has pursued the anti-Corbyn campaign with such vigour and vitriol. And why the campaign continues. Corbyn represents popular opposition not just to austerity and inequality, but to foreign policies that underpin the very basis of the modern British state. Corbyn threatened to disrupt the fundamentals. This explains the venom, and it is why it is so crucial that that the whole of the left and the wider movement rallies around to defend him, his record and his politics.
9
South Tyneside Stop the War / Irish trial of anti-war activists, VERDICT NOT GUILTY
« Last post by Roger on October 24, 2020, 12:02:22 PM »
Irish trial of anti-war activists, VERDICT NOT GUILTY
October 23
Roger Cole, Peace & Neutrality Alliance
(October 23) – At Dublin Circuit Court today a jury of twelve Irish citizens acquitted peace activists Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan of the charge of alleged criminal damage at Shannon airport over four and a half years ago.

The trial by Jury was presided over by Judge Karen O’Connor found both defendants not guilty. They entered Shannon airport on the morning of 25 May 2016 to search and investigate US military aircraft that were being refuelled on their way to and from US wars of aggression.

There were two US Air Force aircraft at Shannon at the time of the incident. One was a US Air Force Learjet C-21A aircraft registration number 84-0072 being guarded by an Irish army patrol, and the other was a US Air Force Boeing C-32B aircraft registration number 02-4452 used by the United States special forces, and being guarded by a Garda patrol car.

Speaking after the trial Colm Roddy said “the result of this trial gives us no cause for celebration. Our peaceful non-violent actions in May 2016 were undertaken to highlight Irish complicity and participation in US wars in the Middle East that have caused the deaths of millions of people in the Middle East, including the deaths of up to one million children since the First Gulf War in 1991.”

Dave Donnellan said: “Our actions were faith based. As Irish citizens we felt compelled as a matter of conscience to highlight Irish Government complicity in war crimes and it is a matter of deep regret to us that this complicity is still ongoing almost daily since 2001.”

The successful defence case was based on the argument that they had LAWFUL EXCUSE, or just cause, for their actions. In previous trials also relating to similar peace actions taken by five Catholic Workers – Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, and Ciaran O’Reilly – in 2003 the jury also acquitted the five defendants, and the Court of Criminal appeal overturned the conviction of Mary Kelly for damaging a US Navy aircraft, also in 2003.

All these trials took an unduly long time to reach a conclusion at great inconvenience to all the defendants – justice delayed is justice denied – but it is the innocent people of the Middle East who are suffering the most due to these wars and Irish complicity in these wars. May those innocents who have been slaughtered rest in peace and may some justice and accountability be applied to those responsible for, and complicity in, these war crimes
10
For Your Information / The Role of Anglo-American Financiers ( In World War II)
« Last post by Roger on August 27, 2020, 10:36:44 AM »
The Role of Anglo-American Financiers ( In World War II)
Valentin Katasonov
2015 by Strategic Culture Foundation  (Source TML) https://cpcml.ca/Tmlw2020/W50031.HTM#4

This article was originally published in 2015 by Strategic Culture Foundation and also reproduced by TML Weekly at that time. TML Weekly is republishing it today to enlighten readers on the role played by international financiers in World War II and debunk the Anglo-American falsification which blames the Soviet Union for that tragedy so as to exonerate themselves.

The article also clearly examines the origins of the international financial institutions at a time the Trudeau government and provincial governments are once again indebting the country to private interests to unprecedented levels based on the fraudulent claim that this is how to achieve economic recovery. Not only that, the Trudeau government likes to claim that Canada's adherence to these international financial institutions makes it democratic and provides proof of its multilateralism. The material in this article provides ample information which shows that there are obviously various kinds of multilateralism with various kinds of aims and not all of them serve Canada. This the Trudeau and other governments in Canada do not want discussed.

Part One
The war was not unleashed by a frenzied Führer who happened to be ruling Germany at the time. World War II was a project created by the world oligarchy or Anglo-American financiers. Using such instruments as the U.S. Federal Reserve System and the Bank of England they started to prepare for the next global conflict right after World War I. The USSR was the target.

The Dawes and Young Plans; the creation of the Bank for International Settlements; Germany's suspension of reparations payments it had to pay according to the Paris Peace Treaty and the acquiescence of Russia's former allies in this decision; large-scale foreign investments in the economy of the Third Reich; the militarization of the German economy and the breaches of the Paris Treaty provisions -- these all were important milestones on the way to preparing the war.

There were key figures behind the plot: the Rockefellers, the Morgans, Lord Montagu Norman (the Governor of the Bank of England) and Hjalmar Schacht (President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics in Hitler's government). The strategic plan of the Rockefellers and Morgans was to subjugate Europe economically, saturate Germany with foreign investment and credits and make it deliver a crushing blow against Soviet Russia so that it would return to the world capitalist system as a colony.

Montagu Norman (1871-1950) played an important role of go-between to keep up a dialogue between American financial circles and Germany's business leaders. Hjalmar Schacht organized the revival of Germany's defence sector. This operation conducted by the Anglo-American financiers was covered up by politicians such as Franklin Roosevelt, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. In Germany the plans were carried out by Hitler and Hjalmar Schacht. Some historians say Hjalmar Schacht played a more important role than Hitler, but Schacht simply kept out of the spotlight.

The Dawes Plan was an attempt following World War I for the Triple Entente to compromise and collect war reparations from Germany. The Dawes Plan (as proposed by the Dawes Committee, chaired by Charles G. Dawes) was an attempt in 1924 to solve the reparations problem, which had bedeviled international politics following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles (France was reluctant to accept it got over 50 per cent of reparations). In 1924-1929 Germany received $2.5 billion from the United States and $1.5 billion from Great Britain, according to the Dawes Plan. In today's currency it is a huge sum, equal to U.S.$1 trillion. Hjalmar Schacht played an active role in the implementation of the Dawes Plan. In 1929 he summed up the results, saying that in five years Germany got more foreign loans than the United States in the 40 years preceding World War I. As a result, by 1929 Germany had become the world's second largest industrial nation leaving Great Britain behind.

In the 1930s, the process of feeding Germany with investments and credits continued. The Young Plan was a program for settling German reparation debts after World War I, written in 1929 and formally adopted in 1930. It was presented by the committee headed (1929-30) by American industrialist Owen D. Young, founder and former first chairman of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). At the time, Young also served concurrently on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, and also had been one of the representatives involved in the previous war reparations restructuring arrangement -- the Dawes Plan of 1924. According to the plan, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) was created in 1930 to make Germany pay reparations to the victors. In reality the flow of money went in quite a different direction -- from the United States and Great Britain to Germany. The majority of strategically important German companies belonged to American capital or were partly under its control. Some of them belonged to British investors. German oil refining and coal liquefaction sectors of the economy belonged to Standard Oil (the Rockefellers). The major chemical company I.G. Farbenindustrie AG was put under the control of the Morgan Group. Forty per cent of the telephone network and 30 per cent of aircraft manufacturer Focke Wulf shares belonged to American company ITT Corporation. Major industrial concerns Radio and AEG, Siemens and Osram were put under the control of General Electric. ITT and General Electric were part of the Morgan empire. One hundred per cent of Volkswagen shares belonged to the Ford Motor Company. By the time Hitler came to power, U.S. finance capital practically controlled all the strategically important sectors of German industry: oil refining, synthetic fuel production, chemical production, auto production, aviation, electrical engineering, the radio industry, and a large part of the machine manufacturing sector (a total of 278 companies). The leading German banks -- Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Donat Bank and some others -- were also under U.S. control.

***
On January 30, 1933 Hitler was named the Chancellor of Germany. Before that his candidacy had been thoroughly studied by American bankers. Hjalmar Schacht went to the United States in the autumn of 1930 to discuss the nomination with American colleagues. Hitler's appointment was finally approved at a secret meeting of financiers in the United States. Hjalmar Schacht spent all of 1932 trying to convince the German bankers that Hitler was the right person for the position. He achieved the goal. In mid-November 1932, 17 of Germany's biggest bankers and industrialists sent a letter to President Hindenburg expressing their demand to make Hitler the Chancellor of Germany. The last working meeting of the German financiers before the election was held on January 4, 1933 in Kölnat, the home of banker Kurt von Schröder. After that the National Socialist Party came to power. As a result, Germany's financial and economic ties with the Anglo-Americans were elevated to a higher level.

Hitler immediately made an announcement that he refused to pay the post-war reparations. It put into doubt the ability of England and France to pay off World War I debts to the United States. Washington did not object to Hitler's announcement. In May 1933 Hjalmar Schacht paid another visit to the United States. There he met with President Franklin Roosevelt and big bankers to reach a $1 billion credit deal. In June the same year Hjalmar Schacht visited London to hold talks with Montagu Norman. It all went down smoothly. The British agreed to grant a $2 billion loan. The British offered no objections related to Germany's decision to suspend debt payments.

Some historians say that the American and British bankers were accommodating because by 1932 the Soviet Union had fulfilled its five-year economic development plan to achieve new heights as an industrial power. A few thousand enterprises had been built, especially in the field of heavy industry. The USSR's dependence on imported mechanical engineering expertise was greatly reduced. The chances of strangling the Soviet Union economically were practically reduced to zero. They decided to rely on war and launched the runaway militarization of Germany.

It was easy for Germany to get American credits. By and large, Hitler came to power in his country at the same time as Franklin Roosevelt took office in the United States. The very same bankers who supported Hitler in 1931 supported Roosevelt in the presidential election. The newly elected President could not but endorse large credits to Germany. By the way, many noticed that there was a big similarity between Roosevelt's "New Deal Policy" and the economic policy of the German Third Reich. No wonder. The very same people worked out both policies and consulted with both governments at the time. They mainly represented U.S. financial circles.

Roosevelt's New Deal soon started to stumble. In 1937 America plunged into the quagmire of economic crisis. In 1939 the U.S. economy operated at 33 per cent of its industrial capacity (it was 19 per cent at the worst of the 1929-1933 crisis).

Rexford G. Tugwell, an economist who became part of Franklin Roosevelt's first "Brain Trust," a group of Columbia University academics who helped develop policy recommendations leading up to Roosevelt's New Deal, wrote that in 1939 the government failed to achieve any success. There was an open sea until the day Hitler invaded Poland. Only the mighty wind of war could dissipate the fog. Any other measures Roosevelt could take were doomed to failure.[1] Only a world war could save U.S. capitalism. In 1939 the financiers used all the leverage at their disposal to put pressure on Hitler to make him unleash a big war in the east.
Part Two
The BIS played an important role during World War II. It was created as an outpost of American interests in Europe and a link between Anglo-American and German businesses, a kind of offshore zone for cosmopolitan capital, providing shelter from political processes, wars, sanctions and other things. The BIS was created as a public commercial entity, its immunity from government interference and such things as taxation was guaranteed by an international agreement signed in the Hague in 1930.

The bankers of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York were close to the Morgans, and the Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman, as well as the German financiers: Hjalmar Schacht (President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics in the Hitler government), Walther Funk (who later replaced Hjalmar Schacht as President of the Reichsbank) and Emil Puhl. All of them played an important role in the efforts to establish the BIS. The central banks of Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium and some private banks were among the founders of the BIS. The Federal Bank of New York did its best to establish the BIS, but it was not listed as a founder. The U.S. was represented by the private First National Bank of New York, J.P. Morgan and Company, and the First National Bank of Chicago -- all parts of the Morgan empire. Japan was also represented by private banks. In 1931-1932, 19 European central banks joined the BIS. Gates W. McGarrah, a banker of Rockefeller's clan, was the first BIS chairman of the board. He was replaced by Leon Fraser, who represented the Morgans. U.S. citizen Thomas Huntington McKittrick was President of the BIS during the war years.

A lot has already been written about the BIS' activities serving the interests of the Third Reich. The bank was involved in deals with different countries, including those Germany was at war with. Ever since Pearl Harbour, the BIS has been a correspondent bank for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Despite the bank being under Nazi control during the war years, the American McKittrick was the bank's President. Soldiers were dying on the battlefields while the BIS leadership held meetings in Basel with the bankers of Germany, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain and the United States. There, in the Swiss offshore zone, all was peaceful; the representatives of the belligerents quietly worked in the atmosphere of mutual understanding.

Switzerland became the place where gold seized by Germany in different corners of Europe was transported to for storage. In March 1938 when Hitler captured Vienna, part of Austria's gold was transferred to the BIS vaults. The same thing happened with the gold from the Czech National Bank (U.S.$48 million). As the war started, gold poured into the BIS. Germany obtained it from concentration camps and by plundering the occupied countries (including civilian property: jewels, gold crowns, cigarette cases, utensils). It was called the Nazi Gold. The metal was processed into ingots to be stored in the BIS, Switzerland or outside of Europe. Charles Higham in his book Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money Plot, 1933-1949 wrote that during the war, the Nazis transferred $378 million into BIS accounts.

A few words about the Czech gold, about which details surfaced after the Bank of England's archives were declassified in 2012.[2] In March 1939, Germany captured Prague. The Nazis demanded U.S.$48 million from Czechoslovakia's national gold reserves. They were told that the sum had already been transferred to the BIS. It later became known that the gold was transferred from Basel to the Bank of England. At the command from Berlin, the gold was transferred to the Reichsbank's BIS account. Then the Bank of England was involved in transactions done on the orders of the Reichsbank given to the BIS. The commands were retransmitted to London. There was collusion between Germany's Reichsbank, the BIS and the Bank of England. In 1939 a scandal broke out in Great Britain because the Bank of England executed the transfer of Czech gold on the commands from Berlin and Basel, not the Czech government. For instance, in June 1939, three months before the war between Great Britain and Germany started, the Bank of England helped the Germans stuff their accounts with 440,000 pounds sterling worth of gold and transfer some gold to New York (Germany was sure that in the case of a German intervention in Poland, the United States would not declare war).

The illegal transactions with Czech gold were implemented with tacit approval of the government of Great Britain which was aware of what was going on. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir John Simon and other top officials did their best to hide the truth, including telling outright lies (that the gold had been returned to its lawful owners or had never been transferred to the Reichsbank). Recently declassified materials from the Bank of England reveal the truth that the government officials lied to provide cover for themselves and the activities of the Bank of England and the BIS. It was easy to coordinate the joint criminal activities because Montagu Norman, the head of the Bank of England, served as the chairman of the board of the BIS. He never made a secret of his sympathy for the fascists.

The Bretton Woods Conference, formally known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, was a gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. The conference was held from July 1 to 22, 1944. Suddenly the issue of the BIS hit the agenda. It was reported that the bank had collaborated with fascist Germany. Leaving many details aside, it was with great difficulty that the delegates reached an agreement to close the BIS (some U.S. delegates opposed the motion). The decision of the international conference has never been enacted. All the discreditable information related to the BIS' wartime activities was classified. Today it helps to falsify the history of World War II.

Finally, a few words about Hjalmar Schacht (1877-1970). He was a key figure controlling the economic machine of the Third Reich, an extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador representing Anglo-American capital in Germany. In 1945, Schacht was tried at Nuremberg and was acquitted on October 1, 1946. He got away with murder. [...] For some unexplained reasons he was not on the 1945 leading wartime criminals list. Moreover, Schacht returned to his profession as if nothing had happened and founded Schacht GmbH in Düsseldorf. This detail may go unnoticed, though it serves as further testimony to the fact that Anglo-American financiers and their plenipotentiary representatives in Germany prepared and, to some extent, influenced the outcome of World War II. The financiers want to rewrite the history of the war and change its results.

Notes
1. P. Tugwell, The Democratic Roosevelt, A Biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York, 1957, p. 477.

2. See here.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, May 4-5, 2015. Edited for style and grammar by TML.)
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