Monday, May 29, 2017

Moral Injury and the War at Home


TomDispatch |  I’ve been intermittently interviewing witnesses and victims, perpetrators and survivors of almost unspeakable atrocities.  I can’t count the number of massacre survivors and rape victims and tortured women and mutilated men I’ve spoken with, sometimes decades -- but sometimes just days -- after they were brutalized.  In almost every case, what occurred in only a matter of minutes irreparably altered their lives.

I’ve also spent countless hours talking with another class of atrocity survivors: witnesses who did little else but watch and perpetrators who beat, tortured, or killed innocents in the service of one government or another.  In almost every case, what occurred in just a matter of minutes irreparably altered their lives, too.

Sometimes, it seemed as if the survivors coped with the trauma far better than the perpetrators. I remember an American veteran of the Vietnam War I once interviewed.  He had a million stories, all of them punctuated with a big, bold laugh.  Jovial is the word I often use to describe him. We talked for hours, but I finally got down to business and he quickly grew quiet.  Then, jovial he was not.  I asked him about a massacre I had good reason to believe he had seen, maybe even taken part in. He told me he couldn’t recall it, but that he didn’t doubt it happened. (It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such a response.)  While he had endless war stories, when it came to the darkest corner of the conflict, he said, his memories had been reduced to one episode.

As was standard operating procedure, his unit burned villages as a matter of course.  In one of these “villes,” a woman ran up to him, bitter and enraged, no doubt complaining that her home and all her possessions were going up in flames. After shoving her away several times, he drew up the butt of his rifle and slammed it straight into the center of her face.  It was an explosion of blood, he told me, followed by shrieks and sobs. Mr. Jovial walked away laughing.

That’s it, all he could remember, he assured me.  He recalled it because he couldn’t forget it.  At the time, the act was meaningless to him.  Decades later, he relived it every day -- her shattered nose, the blood, the screams. He asked himself over and over again: How could I have done that?  How could I have walked away laughing?  I suggested that he was incredibly young and poorly trained and scared and immersed in a culture of violence, but none of these answers satisfied him.  It was clear enough that he was never going to solve that riddle, just as he was never going to forget that woman and what he did to her.

Today, TomDispatch regular and former State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren takes on these same issues, plumbing the depths of “moral injury” -- what, that is, can happen to soldiers when the values they’re taught as civilians are shattered on the shoals of war.  Van Buren learned something of this firsthand in Iraq and grapples with it in his new World War II novel, Hooper’s War.  “Van Buren doesn’t provide simple answers, and readers are left with the understanding that decisions made in battle can be both right and wrong at the same time,” saysKirkus Reviews of this “complex” alternate history. Given America’s penchant for ceaseless conflict, his book, like his piece today, raises questions that remain tragically relevant.

It's Not Going to Get Better If the Democrats Get Back in Power


Counterpunch |  I was very impressed by this comment from Yasser Louati, talking to Amy Goodman about the election of the revolting anti-worker neoliberal investment banker Emmanuel Macron as President of France two weeks ago: “France does not need an umpteenth new president; it needs a new republic, a new constitution, a new organizing of institutions.”

Much the same can be said about the United States. Political institutions that claim to be “democratic” while offering voters a binary choice between regressive and dissembling neoliberal shills like the Clintons, Obama, Emanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, and Angela Merkel on one hand and neo-fascistic white nationalists like Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Frauke Petry and Donald Trump on the other hand do, not deserve our respect.

The United States doesn’t need a new and 46th president as much as it needs a democracy, a new constitution, a new organizing of institutions – including its absurdly archaic and plutocratic election and party systems, which don’t even include direct popular election of the U.S. presidency for crying out loud.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to the end of his life with the belief that the real faults in American life lay not so much in “men” as in the oppressive institutions and social structures that reigned over them.  He wrote that “the radical reconstruction of society itself” was “the real issue to be faced” beyond “superficial” matters. He had no interest, of course, in running for the White House of all things.

The Orange-Tinted Royal Brute who currently befouls the Oval Office is an offense to humanity. Perhaps he will be forced or voted out of office in coming months and years. In the meantime, there’s “the fierce urgency of now” (King).  We need to be building great social and political movements for King’s project and Louatti’s recommendation now. The environmental clock telling us to undertake a radical and eco-socialist “reorganizing of institutions” is ticking with each new carbon-cooked planetary day.

The U.S. ruling class is divided and befuddled like no time in recent memory.  Good.  Let us build the organizations that might carry out the great popular and democratic revolution required to save the social and ecological commons and thus preserve chances for a decent and democratic future. Given capitalism’s systemically inherent war on livable ecology – emerging now as the biggest issue of our or any time – the formation of such a new and united Left popular and institutional presence has become a matter of life and death for the species.  “The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued sixteen years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.”

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why Do You Keep Thanking Soldiers?


tomdispatch |  Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz has said of the upcoming Concert for Valor:

“The post-9/11 years have brought us the longest period of sustained warfare in our nation’s history. The less than one percent of Americans who volunteered to serve during this time have afforded the rest of us remarkable freedoms -- but that freedom comes with a responsibility to understand their sacrifice, to honor them, and to appreciate the skills and experience they offer when they return home.”

It was crafty of Schultz to redirect that famed 1% label from the ultra rich, represented by CEOs like him, onto our “heroes.” At the concert, I hope Schultz has a chance to get more specific about those “remarkable freedoms.” Will he mention that the U.S. has the highest per capita prison population on the planet?  Does he include among those remarkable freedoms the guarantee that dogs, Tasers, tear gas, and riot police will be sent after you if you stay out past dark protesting the killing of an unarmed Black teenager by a representative of this country’s increasingly militarized police? Will the freedom to be too big to fail and so to have the right to melt down the economy and walk away without going to prison -- as Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase, did -- be mentioned? Do these remarkable freedoms include having every American phone call and email recorded and stored away by the NSA?

And what about that term “hero”? Many veterans reject it, and not just out of Gary Cooperesque modesty either. Most veterans who have seen combat, watched babies get torn apart, or their comrades die in their arms, or the most powerful army on Earth spend trillions of dollars fighting some of the poorest people in the world for 13 years feel anything but heroic.  But that certainly doesn’t stop the use of the term.  So why do we use it?  As journalist Cara Hoffman points out at Salon:

“‘[H]ero’ refers to a character, a protagonist, something in fiction, not to a person, and using this word can hurt the very people it’s meant to laud. While meant to create a sense of honor, it can also buy silence, prevent discourse, and benefit those in power more than those navigating the new terrain of home after combat. If you are a hero, part of your character is stoic sacrifice, silence. This makes it difficult for others to see you as flawed, human, vulnerable, or exploited.”

We use the term hero in part because it makes us feel good and in part because it shuts soldiers up (which, believe me, makes the rest of us feel better). Labeled as a hero, it’s also hard to think twice about putting your weapons down. Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent, which is one reason military bureaucrats feed off the term.

There are American soldiers stationed around the globe who think about filing conscientious objector status (as I once did), and I sometimes hear from some of them.  They often grasp the way in which the militarized acts of imperial America are helping to create the very enemies they are then being told to kill. They understand that the trillions of dollars being wasted on war will never be spent on education, health care, or the development of clean energy here at home.  They know that they are fighting for American control over the flow of fossil fuels on this planet, the burning of which is warming our world and threatening human existence.

Making Enemies Faster Than You Can Kill Them...,


themarshallproject |  When police officers return to work after a military deployment, they cannot be automatically required to sit for a mental health evaluation — the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits it. Because of the Americans With Disabilities Act, police departments can’t reject a job candidate for simply having a PTSD diagnosis.

The only time most of America’s law enforcement officers, military veterans or not, are required to sit for a mental health analysis is when they first apply to join a police force, and the rigor of the screening varies widely. Fewer than half of the nation’s smallest police departments conduct pre-employment psychological testing at all, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

Many other departments offer “screenings” in name only — in some cases simply a computerized test with no face-to-face interview — says Stephen Curran, a Maryland police psychologist who has researched the transition from the military to policing.

 Where there is systematic testing of would-be police, military veterans are more likely to show signs of trauma. 

Matthew Guller, a police psychologist, is managing partner of a New Jersey firm, The Institute for Forensic Psychology, that works with about 470 law enforcement agencies across the Northeast, screening for impairment. 

Of nearly 4,000 police applicants evaluated by Guller’s firm from 2014 through October of 2016, those with military experience were failed at a rate higher than applicants who had no military history — 8.5 percent compared to 4.8 percent. 

The higher rates of trauma are exacerbated by the fact that service members suffering PTSD often aren’t diagnosed and keep quiet about their suffering. Although up to 20 percent of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD, only half get treated, according to a 2012 National Academy of Sciences study. Veterans are 21 percent more likely to kill themselves than adults who never enlisted, according to an August report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

PTSD and traumatic brain injuries have been called the “signature injuries” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts say trauma is cumulative, so the transition from one potentially violent profession, the military, into another, policing, can compound the risk. 

Officers with a history of mental health problems — even those who have been treated and are now healthy — can pose a two-fold problem for departments who hire them. First, their history can become a liability if the department is sued. Second, it can be used to attack their credibility on the stand if they’re called to testify.

Asian Gamma Males Lament Their "Global" Punk-Bish Mating Status...,



qz |   Harvey’s recent comments regarding Asian men can’t be as easily dismissed. Essentially, Harvey told his audience that he couldn’t imagine any way an Asian man could ever be deemed attractive—causing a social media eruption by playing into long-standing stereotypes of Asian males as emasculated and nonsexual.


And the reaction rapidly expanded beyond the internet. Prominent Asians, from The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng to Star Trek icon George Takei to Fresh Off the Boat author Eddie Huang, denounced Harvey—the latter in a massively shared op-ed for the New York Times. All of New York’s leading Asian American politicians sent a joint letter to Endemol Shine, who produce Harvey’s show, demanding an immediate public apology for his “offensive, classless comments.”

 Within hours, the internet hive mind had posted a staggering array of undeniably hot Asian guys, such as those on this expertly curated list by Huffington Post relationship editor Brittany Wong: “21 Fine-As-Hell Asian Men Who Will Make You Swoon And Then Some.”

This is hardly the first time lists like this have popped up—they’re generated any time a celebrity or media organization invokes the stereotypical image of the Asian male. Wong’s is very similar to this BuzzFeed post published back in 2014. Some of the names and faces have changed, but the commonalities are clear: Almost all of these men are tall, shirtless, and have the muscles of a Greek god training for the Iron Man triathlon.

And as a not-so-undeniably-hot Asian guy—a medium-aged divorced dad with a one-pack, a molded-not-sculpted face and hair that’s backed gingerly away from my forehead like it’s afraid of my eyebrows—I find these galleries a little awkward. Highlighting a handful of insanely gorgeous genetic-lottery winners doesn’t exactly contradict the assertion that average Asian men like me are, in the eyes, minds, and hearts of the West, inherently unappealing.

In fact, these hyper-hot galleries underscore the fact that these guys are exceptions to the rule; that by reaching an optimal standard of Western masculine beauty, these Asian men have managed to overcome their racialized lack of appeal.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Did Terrorism Exist Prior to the State of Israel?


unz |  As the world has witnessed the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, many people have risen in protest. In response, the Israeli government and certain of its advocates have conducted a campaign to crack down on this activism, running roughshod over civil liberties (and the English language) in the process.
 
The mechanism of this crackdown is the redefinition of “antisemitism”[1] to include criticism of Israel, and the insertion of this definition into the bodies of law of various countries.

Where most people would consider “antisemitism” to mean bigotry against Jewish people (and rightly consider it abhorrent), for two decades a campaign has been underway to replace that definition with an Israel-centric definition. That definition can then be used to block speech and activism in support of Palestinian human rights as “hate.” Various groups are applying this definition in law enforcement evaluations of possible crimes.

Proponents of this Israel-centric definition have promoted it step by step in various arenas, from the U.S. State Department and European governments to local governments around the U.S. and universities.

While this effort has taken place over the last two decades, it is snowballing rapidly at this time. The definition is increasingly being used to curtail free speech and academic freedom, as well as political activism.

Furthermore, such politicizing of an important word may reduce its effectiveness when real antisemitism occurs, doing a disservice to victims of true bigotry.

As of this writing, the U.S. Congress has endorsed the distorted definition, the governments of the UK and Austria have officially adopted it (in December and April, respectively), various U.S. State legislatures are considering it, and numerous universities are using it to delineate permissible discourse. Many representatives and heads of other states around the world have embraced the new meaning, even if they have yet to officially implement it.

This article will examine the often interconnected, incremental actions that got us where we are, the current state of affairs, and the public relations and lobbying efforts that are promoting this twisting of the definition of “antisemitism” — often under cover of misleadingly named “anti-racism” movements.

Colonial Mentality Notwithstanding Israel is Not a Western Country


jerusalempost |  In 1946 there were only 543,000 Jews in Palestine. Between 1954 and 1964, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, around 250,000 Jews came to Israel from Morocco. You’d think the musical impact of that community, almost a third of the country’s population at the time, would be immediate and that by 2017 European-origin Israelis would no longer be whining about it. But they still are whining, because for some of them Israel cannot have diversity, it cannot have Ethiopian culture, or Russian culture, or Moroccan or Iranian or even Arabic culture. These Israelis have waged a jihad against everything non-Western since 1948, and they have lost.

To those Israelis who dreamed of Israel being a “villa in the jungle,” a kind of Denmark in the Middle East, or a kind of Rhodesia, everything that was non-European was “primitive.” Journalist Ari Shavit asked fellow writer Amos Elon if Israel had this “primitiveness” in a 2004 interview and Elon agreed; the “primitiveness” comes from the Arab countries, he said. What he meant was Jews from those countries.

This colonial mentality of a subset of Israeli society cannot accept that Israel is not a Western country, that it has major influences from non-European peoples and cultures. It is a hybrid civilization, with Western currents in it but a foundation that is rooted in the Middle East. Jewish civilization has always had that hybridity. Since the time of the Hasmoneans fighting the Greeks and the war with Rome, or the expulsion from Spain at the hands of Catholic Europeans, Jewish history has been East struggling with the West.

Some Jewish thinkers cannot accept this. Richard Cohen in his 2014 book Israel: Is it Good for the Jews predicted what would happen when Israel’s “fighting intellectual, rifle in one hand and a volume of Kierkegaard in the other,” became a minority and “Jews from Islamic lands” became the majority. Cohen didn’t realize Israel was never a country of “Jews holding Kierkegaard in one hand.” This was a myth invented among American Jews about Israel, in order to convince themselves Israel was like a miniature version of the Upper West Side in New York, only with tanks and a flag.

Why the fear of “Jews from Islamic lands,” who are presented as barbarians by Israel’s European-rooted writers and their fellow travelers abroad? The same “Western values” that welcome Syrian refugees in Europe despise Syrian Jews in Israel? The same people who value the diversity Moroccan immigrants bring to Paris despise Moroccan Jews in Israel.

Because Israel’s Europhile cultural minority is rooted in a different time, the era of Rhodesia and the Old South, when non-Europeans were still openly called primitives. They cannot accept that Israel is not a Western state and that the revolution of Zionism has overthrown Europeanism in “their” Levant. They cannot accept the hybrid culture of Israel. This is why they imagine that only when Israelis are not “welcomed” in Europe will Israelis end the occupation of the West Bank.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Quoth Big Don: Leadership! Accept No Substitutes....,


Breitbart |   Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to expand a 60-day state of emergency in southern Mindanao to the whole country should the Maute group, a terrorist organization that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), expand its killing spree beyond the island.

Duterte, who arrived home from an abbreviated trip to Russia Wednesday, elaborated on the implications of martial law on the island. The president suspended the writ of habeas corpus and announced that police would no longer require a warrant on the island to arrest anyone suspected of being a member of the terrorist group.

“Checkpoints will be allowed. Searches will be allowed. Arrest without a warrant will be allowed in Mindanao,” Duterte explained. “And I do not need to secure any search warrant or a warrant of arrest. If you are identified positively on the other side, you can be arrested and detained.”

“Anyone caught possessing a gun and confronting us with violence, my orders are shoot to kill. I will not hesitate to do it,” he vowed. “If I think that you should die, you will die. If you fight us, you will die. If there is an open defiance, you will die.”

“Anyone now holding a gun, confronting government with violence, my orders are spare no one, let us solve the problems of Mindanao once and for all. Do not force my hands into it,” he added. Duterte added that he was mulling an order to allow civilians to use their legally purchased guns against Maute terrorists and carry them publicly to deter violence.

Duterte added the rare warning that he would not allow police to abuse human rights with impunity. “I will assure you I am not willing to allow abuses. Government is still running, the Congress is functioning, and the courts are open for citizens to seek grievance,” he assured residentsFist tap Big Don.

Mueller and Comey's FBI Works to Create Terrorism


KansasCity |  Announcements of foiled terrorist plots make for lurid reading.

Schemes to carry out a Presidents Day jihadist attack on a train station in Kansas City. Bomb a Sept. 11 memorial event. Blow up a 1,000-pound bomb at Fort Riley. Detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Wichita airport — the failed plans all show imagination. 

But how much of it was real? 

Often not much, according to a review of several recent terrorism cases investigated by the FBI in Kansas and Missouri. The most sensational plots invoking the name of the Islamic State or al-Qaida here were largely the invention of FBI agents carrying out elaborate sting operations on individuals identified through social media as being potentially dangerous. 

In fact, in terrorism investigations in Wichita, at Fort Riley and last week in Kansas City, the alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article135871988.html#storylink=cpy

Russian FSB Works to Prevent Terrorism


Newsweek |  Power, for Vladimir Putin, has always been closely linked to terrorism. Back in 1999, as an unknown and untried prime minister, he first showed Russians his steely character after a series of unexplained bombings demolished four apartment buildings and killed more than 300 people. Putin, in his trademark brand of clipped tough-talk, announced that the those responsible would be “rubbed out, even if they’re in the outhouse,” and launched a renewed war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya. The resulting wave of approval, stoked by fear of terrorism, carried Putin to the presidency months later.

Eighteen years on and Putin has fulfilled his promise by rubbing out many thousands of extremists—with his army in Chechnya and all over the North Caucasus, via Federal Security Service assassins in Turkey and Yemen, and most recently from the air and by the hand of special forces in Syria. What’s more, he has expanded the definition of extremists to include not just Islamist militants but also Ukrainian filmmakers and gay activists who share digitally altered images of Putin in garish makeup on social media. Nonetheless, as the deadly bombing in St. Petersburg’s metro on April 2 showed, neither violence nor repression has put an end to terrorist attacks in Russia.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Obamacare Will Die Because the Medical Industrial Lobby Wants To Kill It...,


mishtalk |  Despite accelerating progress towards fully autonomous cars and trucks, many people still do not accept the obvious fact it’s going to happen soon.

For example, in response to Death Spiral for Car Ownership? End of Fuel-Powered Cars by 2024? one reader suggested it will not happen because of capitalism.

Failure to Understand Capitalism
People who believe in this utopia do not understand capitalism. We own cars because consumers chose what they wanted and backed that up with their hard earned cash.
It is already far cheaper to ride the bus or carpool. Few choose that because sharing has its downsides. Fleets of driverless cars are really just a more modular bus service. Some will use this, but most will prefer ownership.
Ass Backwards
The above line of thinking is ass backwards.

Capitalism is precisely why driverless is coming. Corporations are betting their money and resources. The government is not resisting. The trucking industry will save hundreds of millions of dollars. People who believe driverless is not coming are the ones who do not understand capitalism!

Fully autonomous vehicles are not some pie in the sky prediction by Al Gore. Real companies (hundreds of them) all working on driverless. A bet against them is a foolish bet against capitalism.

Did the CBC Help Pakistan's ISI Hack the DNC?


thedailycaller |  A criminal suspect in an investigation into a major security breach on the House of Representatives computer network has abruptly left the country and gone to Pakistan, where her family has significant assets and VIP-level protection, a relative and others told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

Hina Alvi, her husband Imran Awan, and his brothers Abid and Jamal were highly paid shared IT administrators working for multiple House Democrats until their access to congressional IT systems was terminated Feb. 2 as a result of the investigation. Capitol Police confirmed the investigation is ongoing, but no arrests have been reported in the case.

The Awans are “accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network,” according to Politico. Many of the Democrats who employed the Awans are members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (A list of potentially compromised members is listed below.)

Their positions gave them access to members’ emails and confidential files. In addition, Imran was given the password for an iPad used by then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat. The five came to the U.S. from Pakistan.
 
Since the investigation became public, the Awans have abruptly moved from longtime homes in Lorton and Springfield, Va.

Ain't Nobody Tryna Pay $3.99-$4.99 For A Comic Book!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Not As If Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Corruption Was Ever in Question...,


thedailycaller |  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite.

The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.

The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.

“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
 
“We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.

UMKC Prof. Bill Black Sheds Further Light on FBI Corruption Discretion



therealnews |  KIM BROWN: Bill Black, that has been the buzzword pretty much for the past couple of weeks, but this week in particular regarding the investigations. We're talking about an investigation into former FBI Director Jim Comey's email investigation into Hilary Clinton and now an investigation into former Director Comey's firing, an investigation happening surrounding Mike Flynn and his potential role there. So what are we to take away from these numerous investigations not only swirling around D.C. but swirling around this White House in particular?

BILL BLACK: I wanted to provide some background and some perspective. As you said, I'm a former financial regulator that worked very closely with the FBI and Department of Justice investigations and prosecutions of elite white collar criminals and also, on a pro bono basis, was an outside consultant, an expert to the investigation of a portion of the Bill Clinton stuff. That was a special counsel relationship as well. I can tell you a little bit about these things that are now famous, these Comey notes about the meeting that he had with the president in which, at least according to the leaks, the notes show that the president asked Comey to not pursue General Flynn.

So to begin at the beginning, also with this claim that you're hearing repeated time after time, that nothing can interfere with an FBI investigation and such. In fact, enumerable things can and do interfere with FBI investigations and anybody that's lived through the financial crisis that we just had knows that because they know that the same person, Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, not an evil person at all, understandably reorganized the FBI in response to the 9/11 attacks to make it almost exclusively, in its priorities, a counter-terrorist and intelligence organization. That meant that the absolute best people that investigate white collar crime, and the way they do that is by following the money, in other words, the ones with real financial expertise, were transferred out of the white collar section and they were never replaced. That's one of the stories of why there have been zero successful prosecutions because they easily defeated investigations of all the top bankers by never assigning remotely enough agents to the work and assigning them to minor cases.

Historically, J. Edgar Hoover of course was the first director of the FBI and served almost forever and notoriously would not allow the FBI to investigate attacks on, for example, blacks and civil rights workers. The movie, Mississippi Burning, is a fictionalized account of when the attorney general of the United States finally pushed back and forced the FBI to investigate. There were hundreds of occasions in which Hoover intervened to start investigations or stop investigations. Of course, John Dean came up with a bright idea of stopping an FBI investigation by having the CIA, who was only too happy to agree to help President Nixon, falsely claim that the FBI shouldn't look because it was really a CIA operation.

Let's do away with this myth that there's nothing that can interfere with an FBI investigation. The FBI investigations were very much at risk. Let's talk a bit about the key players. Rod Rosenstein is the Deputy Attorney General and because Sessions is recused from dealing with matters involving Russia, Rosenstein actually serves as the acting attorney general when he appointed Mueller, former head of the FBI, before Comey as the special counsel to look at these matters. A little bit about the notes. FBI agents are, in fact, taught, like most people with senior positions in Washington D.C. that involve important matters, to, immediately after a key meeting, to take detailed notes in writing while you're doing the meeting and then turn those notes into a description of the meeting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch....,


Counterpunch |  There’s more about Mueller that people should know, too, like the fact that he was the architect of an FBI entrapment program that lured simple-minded gangbangers into terrorist scams and then threw them in the slammer for the rest of their lives.  Check out this blurb from an article at Electronic Intifada titled “The FBI’s penchant for “manufacturing terrorists”:
“What the FBI was doing before, during and after the financial crisis is the subject under examination in Trevor Aaronson’s new book The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. The book unveils the FBI’s domestic counterterrorism program that began after the 11 September attacks and has continued well into Barack Obama’s second term in office. The program, vividly portrayed by Aaronson, is defined by a wanton use of informants and sting operations in order to produce a high rate of convictions…
Since the 11 September attacks, the FBI has employed more than 15,000 confidential informants nationwide. And, according to Aaronson, for each official informant there are as many as three unofficial informants — known within the FBI as “hip pockets.” By 2011, the Justice Department had prosecuted more than 500 individuals on terrorist charges, a handful of whom Aaronson categorizes as “actual terrorists.” The rest were hatched within the context of FBI sting operations, informants and agents provocateur…..
What Aaronson discovered was that, far from preventing terrorism, the FBI uses its funds to “manufacture” terrorists out of marginalized, desperate, mentally ill or immature men (many of the convicted individuals profiled are in their early twenties). In Aaronson’s words, “The FBI has been effective at creating the very enemy it is hunting.”….
Taking his readers through several FBI sting operations, Aaronson reveals a sordid practice in which the FBI often employs criminals to infiltrate Muslim communities to turn otherwise powerless malcontents into “terrorists.” According to Aaronson’s accounts, these so-called terrorists would have no more than the capability to mouth off in a chat room if it weren’t for the inert weapons and cash that informants would literally place in their hapless hands, thus creating “bogeymen from buffoons.”…
Aaronson’s book is a powerful portrait of the FBI’s insidious and destructive counterterrorism program that enables the contortion of the innocuous into the threatening, ruining hundreds of lives in its wake.”
(“FBI’s penchant for “manufacturing terrorists” probed in new book” by Trevor Aaronson, Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada)
So this is what Mueller and his FBI pals were up to before Comey arrived on the scene?
Apparently so. They were devoting a considerable amount of time and resources to operations  that framed hapless dupes and patsies as dangerous terrorists threatening our precious national security.
And the man who oversaw these operations, Robert Mueller, is the same guy the media has been praising  as the embodiment of integrity and moral rectitude.  Give me a break. Mueller knew these operations were a hoax, he had to know. The FBI was working a sting to lure hard-luck dimwits into doing things they’d never normally dream of doing. It’s called entrapment, which is exactly what it is.  What the FBI was doing is no different than coaxing a hungry dog into a steelcage with a T-Bone steak.  The Bureau calls the practice “counter-terrorism”.  Anyone in their right mind would call it “Baloney”.

This is why the bigshots chose Mueller to spearhead their Russia hacking witchhunt. They figure his experience with entrapment will help him to bag his biggest trophy yet, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. That’s the plan at least.

Moscow and Beijing: Multipolar World Order


strategic-culture |  Once in a while, think tanks such as the Brookings Institute are able to deal with highly strategic and current issues. Often, the conferences held by such organizations are based on false pretences and copious banality, the sole intention being to undermine and downplay the efforts of strategic opponents of the US. Recently, the Brookings Institute's International Strategy and Strategy Project held a lecture on May 9, 2017 where it invited Bobo Lo, an analyst at Lowy Institute for International Policy, to speak. The topic of the subject, extremely interesting to the author and mentioned in the past, is the strategic partnership between China and Russia.

The main assumption Bobo Lo starts with to define relations between Moscow and Beijing is that the two countries base their collaboration on convenience and a convergence of interests rather than on an alliance. He goes on to say that the major frictions in the relationship concern the fate that Putin and Xi hold for Europe, in particular for the European Union, in addition to differences of opinions surrounding the Chinese role in the Pacific. In the first case, Lo states that Russia wants to end the European project while China hopes for a strong and prosperous Europe. With regard to the situation in the Pacific, according to this report, Moscow wants a balance of power between powers without hegemonic domination being transferred from Washington to Beijing.

It Must Be Communist and Therefore Evil


asiatimes |   Western critics continue to pour cold water on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious and well-planned architecture connecting the massive Eurasian landmass through a system of roads, railways and ports. They complain that it lacks transparency, erodes trade standards set up by the West, is financially too huge for China to handle, is self-serving, and is a deceptive vehicle for China to dominate the world, just to name a few.

They insist that the fact India and most countries in the West are snubbing the BRI is proof that the Chinese initiative is going nowhere or will likely fail. However, judging from the response of a large number of prominent economists and world business and political leaders, the critics may be exaggerating their claims.

In 2016, two-way trade between China and the more than 60 countries along the BRI corridor approached US$1 trillion, and China invested more than $2 billion in these countries in addition to infrastructure investment funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road Fund. At the recent Belt and Road Forum, China pledged to invest about $120 billion over the next few years in the countries participating in the initiative.

The consensus among analysts, participating nations and multinational institutions is that the BRI in fact fits into the United Nations Development Agenda of promoting economic growth, eradicating poverty and enhancing all facets of globalization.