• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

woensdag 26 april 2017

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26 April 2017

'An Impeachable Offence' - Professor Postol and Syria

It is hard to believe that just three weeks ago the entire corporate media was in uproar over Syria; specifically, about the need to 'do something' in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib, Syria, on April 4. Guardian commentator George Monbiot summed up the corporate media zeitgeist:
'Do those who still insist Syrian govt didn't drop chemical weapons have any idea how much evidence they are denying?'
Monbiot linked to evidence supplied by Bellingcat, an organisation hosted by Eliot Higgins. In a 2014 letter to the London Review of Books, Richard Lloyd and Ted Postol, described by the New York Times as 'leading weapons experts', dismissed Higgins as 'a blogger who, although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack [in Ghouta, August 2013]. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges'.
Professor Postol, a professor emeritus of science, technology, and national-security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has an impressive record of fearlessly debunking propaganda. For example, the Pentagon declared the Patriot missile system no less than 98% successful at intercepting and destroying Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War. After careful examination, Postol found that the Patriot's success rate was rather less impressive:
'It became clear that it wasn't even close to intercepting any targets, let alone some targets.' (Postol, quoted, Great Military Blunders, Channel 4, March 2, 2000)
Postol has now challenged a White House report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib. He notes:
'The only source the document cites as evidence that the attack was by the Syrian government [air force] is the crater it claims to have identified on a road in the North of Khan Shaykhun.'
But Postol claims that the White House's photographic evidence 'clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive on top of it that crushed the container so as to disperse the alleged load of sarin'.
He adds:
'I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.
'No competent analyst would assume that the crater cited as the source of the sarin attack was unambiguously an indication that the munition came from an aircraft. No competent analyst would assume that the photograph of the carcass of the sarin canister was in fact a sarin canister. Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real. No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it. All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report... was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed.'
Postol's conclusion could hardly be more damning:
'I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicization of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it. And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.'
'We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report.'
Postol recently told The Nation:
'What I think is now crystal clear is that the White House report was fabricated and it certainly did not follow the procedures it claimed to employ.'
He added:
'My best guess at the moment is that this was an extremely clumsy and ill-conceived attempt to cover up the fact that Trump attacked Syria without any intelligence evidence that Syria was in fact the perpetrator of the attack.... It may be that the White House staff was worried that this could eventually come out—a reckless president acting without regard to the nation's security, risking an inadvertent escalation and confrontation with Russia, and a breakdown in cooperation with Russia that would cripple our efforts to defeat the Islamic State.
'If that is not an impeachable offense, then I do not know what is.'
Robert Parry, an investigative reporter who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s, comments:
'On April 11, five days after Trump's decision to attack the Syrian airbase, Trump's White House released a four-page "intelligence assessment" that offered another alleged motivation, Khan Sheikhoun's supposed value as a staging area for a rebel offensive threatening government infrastructure. But that offensive had already been beaten back and the town was far from the frontlines.
'In other words, there was no coherent motive for Assad to have dropped sarin on this remote town. There was, however, a very logical reason for Al Qaeda's jihadists to stage a chemical attack and thus bring pressure on Assad's government. (There's also the possibility of an accidental release via a conventional government bombing of a rebel warehouse or from the rebels mishandling a chemical weapon – although some of the photographic evidence points more toward a staged event.)'
We have no idea who was responsible for the mass killings in Idlib on April 4; we are not weapons experts. But it seems obvious to us that arguments and evidence offered by credible sources like Postol should at least be aired by the mass media. As Parry writes:
'The role of an honest press corps should be to apply skepticism to all official stories, not carry water for "our side" and reject anything coming from the "other side," which is what The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the Western mainstream media have done, especially regarding Middle East policies and now the New Cold War with Russia.'
Our search of the Lexis database (April 26) finds that no UK newspaper article has mentioned the words 'Postol' and 'Syria' in the last month. In our April 12 media alert, we noted that former and current UN weapons inspectors Hans BlixScott Ritter and Jerry Smith, as well as former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, had all questioned the official narrative of what happened on April 4. Lexis finds these results for UK national newspapers:
'Blix' and 'Syria' = 0 hits
'Ritter' and 'Syria' = 0 hits
'Jerry Smith' and Syria = 1 hit
'Giraldi' and 'Syria' = 0 hits.
It is remarkable that, even after the deceptions of Iraq and Libya, journalists are so unwilling to report credible evidence challenging the US government's version of events. This is made even more shocking by the fact that Trump has not, of course, been treated with the respect and deference usually reserved for US presidents. Rather, he has been subjected to a barrage of relentless and damning criticism. And yet, in response to his illegal bombing of a foreign country, the press has not only dropped its usual criticism, but showered Trump with praise while suppressing reasoned criticism. Yet more evidence that corporate journalism is dangerously corrupted by political and economic forces demanding Perpetual War.
DE
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The first Media Lens book, 'Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media', was published in 2005 by Pluto Press.
The second Media Lens book, 'NEWSPEAK in the 21st Century', was published in 2009, also by Pluto Press.
In 2012, Zero Books published 'Why Are We The Good Guys?' by David Cromwell.


Paul Craig Roberts 276

The Looting Machine Called Capitalism

The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Paul Craig Roberts
I have come to the conclusion that capitalism is successful primarily because it can impose the majority of the costs associated with its economic activities on outside parties and on the environment. In other words, capitalists make profits because their costs are externalized and born by others. In the US, society and the environment have to pick up the tab produced by capitalist activity. 
In the past when critics raised the question about external costs, that is, costs that are external to the company although produced by the company’s activities, economists answered that it was not really a problem, because those harmed by the activity could be compensated for the damages that they suffered. This statement was intended to reinforce the claim that capitalism served the general welfare. However, the extremely primitive nature of American property rights meant that rarely would those suffering harm be compensated. The apologists for capitalism saved the system in the abstract, but not in reality.
My recent article, “The Destruction of Inlet Beach,” made it clear to me that very little, if any, of the real estate development underway would be profitable if the external costs imposed on existing property holders had to be compensated. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/04/17/destruction-inlet-beach/ 
Consider just a few examples. When a taller house is constructed in front of one of less height, the Gulf view of the latter is preempted. The damage to the property value of the house whose view has been blocked is immense. Would the developer build such a tall structure if the disadvantaged existing property had to be compensated for the decline in its value? 
When a house is built that can sleep 20 or 30 people next to a family’s vacation home or residence, the noise and congestion destroys the family’s ability to enjoy their own property. If they had to be compensated for their loss, would the hotel, disquised as a “single family dwelling” have been built?
Walton County, Florida, is so unconcerned about these vital issues that it has permitted construction of structures that can accommodate 30 people, but provide only three parking spaces. Where do the rental guests park? How many residents will find themselves blocked in their own driveways or with cars parked on their lawns? 
As real estate developers build up congestion, travel times are extended. What formerly was a 5 minute drive from Inlet Beach to Seaside along 30-A can now take 45 minutes during summer and holidays, possibly longer. Residents and visitors pay the price of the developers’ profits in lost time. The road is a two-lane road that cannot be widened. Yet Walton County’s planning department took no account of the gridlock that would emerge.
As the state and federal highways serving the area were two lanes, over-development made hurricane evacuation impossible. Florida and US taxpayers had to pay for turning two lane highways into four lane highways in order to provide some semblance of hurricane evacuation. After a decade, the widening of highway 79, which runs North-South is still not completed to its connection to Interstate 10. Luckily, there have been no hurricanes.
If developers had to pay these costs instead of passing them on to taxpayers, would their projects still be profitable?
Now consider the external costs of offshoring the production of goods and services that US corporations, such as Apple and Nike, market to Americans. When production facilities in the US are closed and the jobs are moved to China, for example, the American workers lose their jobs, medical coverage, careers, pension provision, and often their self-respect when they are unable to find comparable employment or any employment. Some fall behind in their mortgage and car payments and lose their homes and cars. The cities, states, and federal governments lose the tax base as personal income and sales taxes decline and as depressed housing and commercial real estate prices in the abandoned communities depress property taxes. Social security and Medicare funding is harmed as payroll tax deposits fall. State and local infrastructure declines. Possibly crime rises. Safety net needs rise, but expenditures are cut as tax revenues decline. Municipal and state workers find their pensions at risk. Education suffers. All of these costs greatly exceed Apple’s and Nike’s profits from substituting cheaper foreign labor for American labor. Contradicting the neoliberal claims, Apple’s and Nike’s prices do not drop despite the collapse in labor costs that the corporations experience.
A country that was intelligently governed would not permit this. As the US is so poorly governed, the executives and shareholders of global corporations are greatly enriched because they can impose the costs associated with their profits on external third parties. 
The unambigious fact is that US capitalism is a mechanism for looting the many for the benefit of the few. Neoliberal economics was constructed in order to support this looting. In other words, neoliberal economists are whores just like the Western print and TV media.
Yet, Americans are so insouciant that you will hear those who are being looted praise the merits of “free market capitalism.”
So far we have barely scratched the surface of the external costs that capitalism imposes. Now consider the polution of the air, soil, waterways, and oceans that result from profit-making activities. Consider the radioactive wastes pouring out of Fukushima since March 2011 into the Pacific Ocean. Consider the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from agricultural chemical fertilizer run-off. Consider the destruction of the Apalachicola, Florida, oyster beds from the restricted river water that feeds the bay due to overdevelopment upstream. Examples such as these are endless. The corporations responsible for this destruction bear none of the costs.
If it turns out that global warming and ocean acidification are consequences of capitalism’s carbon-based energy system, the entire world could end up dead from the external costs of capitalism.
Free market advocates love to ridicule economic planning, and Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers actually said that “markets are self-regulating.” There is no sign anywhere of this self-regulation. Instead, there are external costs piled upon external costs. The absence of planning is why over-development has made 30-A dysfunctional, and it is why over-development has made metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta, Georgia, dysfunctional. Planning does not mean the replacement of markets. It means the provision of rules that produce rational results instead of shifting costs of development onto third parties.
If capitalism had to cover the cost of its activities, how many of the activities would pay? 
As capitalists do not have to cover their external costs, what limits the costs?
Once the external costs exceed the biosphere’s ability to process the waste products associated with external costs, life ends.
We cannot survive an unregulated capitalism with a system of primitive property rights. Ecological economists such as Herman Daly understand this, but neoliberal economists are apologists for capitalist looting. In days gone by when mankind’s footprint on the planet was light, what Daly calls an “empty world,” productive activities did not produce more wastes than the planet could cleanse. But the heavy foot of our time, what Daly calls a “full world,” requires extensive regulation. The Trump administration’s program of rolling back environmental protection, for example, will multiply external costs. To claim that this will increase economic growth is idiotic. As Daly (and Michael Hudson) emphasize, the measure known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is so flawed that we do not know whether the increased output costs more to produce than it is worth. GDP is really a measure of what has been looted without reference to the cost of the looting. Environmental deregulation means that capitalists can treat the environment as a garbage dump. The planet can become so toxic that it cannot recover.
In the United States and generally across the Western world, property rights exist only in a narrow, truncated form. A developer can steal your view forever and your solitude for the period his construction requires. If the Japanese can have property rights in views, in quiet which requires noise abatement, and in sun fall on their property, why can’t Americans? After all, we are alleged to be the “exceptional people.”


But in actual fact, Americans are the least exceptional people in human history. Americans have no rights at all. We hapless insignificant beings have to accept whatever capitalists and their puppet government impose on us. And we are so stupid we call it “Freedom and Democracy America.”


First Transgender President: Trump Becomes Hillary



Oh Lord, it’s happening–the remanufacture of Trump by the Establishment. During the campaign, Trump and the Basilisk had nothing in common but their hair dye. Now, almost daily, he looks more like her. 
He gets embarrassing. Regarding the alleged gassing in Syria, quoth Donald:
“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. … And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
God almighty. Who wrote this–a middle school girl with C’s in English, or the President of the United States? Did he retire to his bedroom for a good cry?
Apparently he ordered his missile strike without bothering to find out what happened. The usual suspects are driving him like a sports car.
The election was a choice between fetor and a lunatic. We chose the lunatic. Whether this was better than the alternative, we will never know, but Trump is going from bad to worse, or as the Mexicans say, de Guatemala a Guatepeor. 
Does he believe this stuff? Is he naive enough to think that there was something unusually horrible about the attack? Horrible, yes, but not in the least unusual. Do you know what everyday, boring artillery does to children? Five-hundred-pound bombs? Hellfire rockets? Daily Mr. Trump’s military and his allies daily drop shrapnel-producing explosives on people, cities, towns, adults, children, weddings and goatherds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Good draft-dodger that he was, he probably has never seen any of this. Good psychopath that he may be, he may not care.
This whole gas-attack business smells to high heaven. It looks nicely calculated to force him to attack Assad. Gas was important: Killing babies, little babies with explosives is so routine that no one cares, but we have been programmed to shudder at the thought of Gas!
Actually artillery has killed several orders of magnitude more people, but never mind.
Targeting children was a nice touch. Definitely a PR bonus. So Donald goes into his Poor-widdle-fings weep, while Americans weekly kill more children in three to seven countries, depending on the date.
Is the man consciously a liar? Hasn’t got sense enough to think before operating his mouth? Actually believes what  he says when he says it?
Glance at a small part of the record and focus on his changing his tune, not on whether you agree with a particular policy. Erratic, erratic, erratic. He was going to run out the illegals within two years, absurd but he said it. Going to put high tariffs on Mexican goods. Didn’t. On Chinese goods. Isn’t. Tear up the Iran treaty. Didn’t.  Declare China a currency-manipulator. Isn’t. Ban Muslims. Hasn’t. Promote good relations with Russia. Isn’t. Get the US out of Syria. Ha. Make NATO pay for itself. Isn’t. The man has the steely determination one associates with bean curd. You cannot trust  anything the man says.
Having been reprogrammed as a good neocon, bombing places he promised to get out of, looking for a fight with Russia, he is now butting heads with Fat Thing in North Korea. He his said things closely resembling, “We have run out of strategic patience with the North. If nobody else will take care of it, we will.” Grrrr. Bowwow. Woof.
The problem with growly ultimata made for television is that somebody has to back down–that is, lose face and credibility. If Trump had quietly told Fat Thing, “If you crazy bastards scrap your nuke program, we will drop the sanctions,” it might have worked.  But no. Negotiations would imply weakness. Thus an ultimatum.
So now either (a) Fat Thing knuckles under, humiliating himself and possibly endangering his grasp on power or (b) Trump blinks in a humiliating display of the Empire’s impotence, possibly endangering his grasp on power.
Kim Jong Il, or Il Sung Jong, or whatever the the hell the latest one of them is called, shows not the slightest sign of backing down. So does the Donald start an utterly unpredictable war, as usual in somebody else’s country, or does he weasel off, muttering, and hope nobody notices?
Fred’s Third Law of International Relations: Never butt heads with a country that has a missile named the No Dong.
Many of us favored Trump, slightly daft though he was, because he wasn’t yet Hillary, wasn’t yet a neocon robot, and didn’t want war with every country he had heard of, apparently meaning a good half dozen. At least he said he didn’t, not yet having been told that he did. In particular, he didn’t want war with Russia. But when the neocons control the media and Congress, they can convince a naive public of anything and, apparently, the President.
Why is the Hillarification of Trump important? The necessary prior question: What is the greatest threat to the neocons’ American Empire? Answer: The ongoing integration of Eurasia under Chinese hegemony. The key countries in this are China, Iran, and Russia. (Isn’t it curious that, apart from the momentary distraction of North Korea, these countries have been the focus of New York’s hostility?) In particular if Russia and, through it, China develop large and very profitable trade with Europe, there goes NATO and with it the Empire.
Oops.
Thus the eeeeeeeeeeek! furor about Russia as existential threat and so on. Thus sending a few troops to Baltic countries to “deter” Russia. This was theater. The idea that a thousand garrison troops can stop the Russian army, which hasn’t gone silly as ours has, on its doorstep is loony.
Hillary was on board with the Russia hysteria and the globalization and the immigration and so on.  Trump could have screwed the whole pooch by getting along with Russia, so he had to be reconfigured. And was. A work in progress, but going well.
Too  much is being asked of him. One man cannot overcome the combined hostility of the media, the political establishment, the neocons, the myriad other special interests that he has threatened. Mass immigration is a done deal. China develops and America, already developed, cannot keep up. The country disintegrates socially. Washington, always depending on war and its threat, faces a new world in which trade is the weapon, and doesn’t know what to do. The culture courses. The world changes.
Yet if only Trump showed some sign of knowing what he is doing, and could remember from day to day, if only he realized that wars are more easily started than predicted, if only he were not becoming an unbalanced Hillary.
Yet, apparently, he is.

U.S. Deep State

The Voyage of the Good Ship Carl Vinson

What I believe to be the true significance of the mix-up over the wanderings of the USS Carl Vinson has been entirely missed, even by the alternative media. I think it provides an intriguing insight into the machinations of the nefarious, secretive – some say nonexistent – “Deep State”.
On April 8th Pacific Command announced that the Vinson (previously famous for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden’s body was unceremoniously dumped in the presence of only a few top officers) was headed for Korea, a show of resolve lauded by the ever trigger-happy corporate media. On April 12th, in an interview on Fox, President Trump confirmed an armada was headed for the war-zone (we’re still technically at war with North Korea), a claim repeated later that day by administration spokesman, Sean Spicer. Then, on April 17th it was revealed that the Good Ship Lollygag was actually meandering around the Indian Ocean on its way to maneuvers with the Australian navy.
Was the announcement of the Vinson’s departure for Korea a ruse, meant to frighten the North Koreans and disrupt their military-hardware-boasting celebration of the 105th birthday of the state’s founder (on April 15th)? Was President Trump in on the joke, or did he really not know where one of the aircraft carrier battlegroups he commands was headed (only 3 of our 10 carriers were “in theater” at the time; seems like even he could keep track)?
If Trump didn’t know what the Vinson’s course was, it speaks volumes about who is actually in charge of our foreign policy. Who made the decision to send, or pretend to send, the Vinson to the Sea of Japan? This is no minor foreign policy decision as things go, considering the present chest-beating over North Korea. If Trump didn’t make it, who did? The admiral in charge of the Pacific fleet? Possibly, but the military’s role is to execute policy, not make it, especially at that level. If not him, who – some unknown personages deep within the bowels of the National Security Council? Were even these powerful troglodytes taking orders from some more profound puppeteers?
Those who would attribute the confusion over the Vinson to a simple misunderstanding between two branches of our government argue that the President simply misspoke, as is his wont. Or that he and the Pacific Command were misunderstood in that they, like a cable repairman who promises to be at your house on Tuesday between 10 and 2 but doesn’t specify what week, meant that the Vinson would someday be stationed off the coast of North Korea, which is true enough as the ship is now belatedly headed that way.
That the Vinson’s deployment has just now been extended by a month suggests the decision to send it north was only made after its much ballyhooed appearance on the frontlines failed to materialize. When its absence became public knowledge, the South Koreans went apoplectic, as they saw it as a bluff the North Koreans called and won. They question whether our commitment to come to their defense in case of attack is also a bluff. In light of our ally’s nervous reaction, we had little choice but to have the Vinson make an appearance, no matter how tardy, off their shore.
Questions about a Deep State raised by the soggy saga of the Vinson echo similar questions raised by another potentially revealing episode: the Stuxnet incident. This ingenious software implanted in Iranian nuclear controls caused hundreds of their centrifuges to explode. Who made the decision to carry out the sabotage, and who knew about it before Stuxnet’s malicious success was announced by the Iranians in 2010? Did Secretary of State Clinton know as she negotiated with the Iranians over their nuclear program, or was she oblivious as to why the Iranians were so hostile, they knowing but not yet revealing what she didn’t know: that the US had committed an act of war against them?
Trump’s ignorance concerning the whereabouts of the Vinson suggests even a President can be out of the loop when it comes to foreign policy (maybe Obama’s memoir will shed some light on this; if so, his $65-million advance will be money well spent.) Even without postulating a Deep State, what responsible member of our national security apparatus would entrust our deepest secrets to a buffoon who is likely to post them in a tweet (“@realDonaldTrump: Just told nuclear launch code. So obvious! Only four letters and rhymes with ‘tire’.”).
Obviously, the evidence backing up my speculations is thin (that’s what “deep” implies), but a world turned murky by mirrored machines belching smoke, curtains shut tight against the light, and suspicious shadows lurking in the dark legitimizes – in fact, demands – speculation, so long as we keep it wide-eyed, but not wild-eyed.
Ken Meyercord is a retiree living in the Washington, DC area, where he haunts think-tank events by asking impertinent questions of the pompous, the hypocritical, and the dishonest. He recently published his memoir of the Vietnam War years, Draft-Dodging Odyssey (under the penname Ken Kiask). He can be reached at: kiaskfm@verizon.netRead other articles by Ken.

Israel Supports ISIS According to Former Israeli Defense Minister

How to Cure U.S. Agression

Kremlin advisor reveals 'cure for US aggression'

April 21, 19:22UTC+3
Putin's advisor also believes that Donald Trump is just "doing what the ruling elite expects him to do"
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© Sergey Konkov/TASS 
YALTA, April 21. /TASS/. The only way to stop US aggression is to get rid of dollar addiction, a Kremlin advisor said on Friday.
"The more aggressive the Americans are, the sooner they will see the final collapse of the dollar and by getting rid of the dollar this would be the only way for victims of American aggression to stop this onslaught. As soon as we and China dump the dollar, it will be the end of the US’ military might," Sergey Glazyev said in an interview with TASS.
Commenting on the policy of the new US president, Glazyev noted that Donald Trump is doing what the ruling elite expects him to do.
"I had no illusions about him, regarding any change in policy. First, America’s aggression around the world is rooted in its aspiration to preserve US hegemony when they have already yielded economic leadership to China," he said.
"The United States has no tools to make all others use the dollar other than a truncheon. That is why they are indulging in a hybrid war with the entire world to shift their debt burden on to other countries, to confine everyone to the dollar and weaken territories they cannot control."
"In this context, the anti-Russian hysteria and growing Russophobia can be seen as a long-term factor linked with the specific interests of the United States’ ruling elite," the Kremlin advisor said.
"In objective terms, they are conducting a global hybrid war and in subjective terms, this war is aimed at us. Moreover, as it always happens when a global leader is changed, the war is for control over rimland nations. During WWI and WWII, Britain acted as an instigator in a bid to keep its global leadership. Now the United States is doing the same. And Trump expresses these interests," he said.



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