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31 December, 2017

Εντρεπρενέρ με τα λεφτά του μπαμπά

Ο μύθος του νεαρού, ασυμβίβαστου και ριψοκίνδυνου επιχειρηματία που γνωρίζει την επιτυχία χάρη στη σκληρή δουλειά και (ίσως) κάποια γενετική προδιάθεση στην ανάληψη ρίσκου, κατέρρευσε και επισήμως στο τέλος του 2017. Αν γεννηθείς φτωχός θα πεθάνεις πιθανότατα φτωχός. Και αν γεννηθείς πλούσιος θα κάνεις ό,τι θέλεις.

του Άρη Χατζηστεφάνου

Ο Φίλιπ Αλστον συγκέντρωσε φρικτές εικόνες από το ταξίδι του στις ΗΠΑ. Είδε ανθρώπους με σαπισμένα δόντια, που δεν μπορούσαν να επισκεφθούν έναν οδοντίατρο. Είδε άστεγους και πολίτες που πέθαιναν από ιάσιμες ασθένειες ή απλώς… από τη μόλυνση του περιβάλλοντος.

Ως ειδικός εισηγητής του ΟΗΕ για την Ακραία Φτώχεια και τα Ανθρώπινα Δικαιώματα είχε καθήκον να καταγράψει ότι τουλάχιστον ένας στους οκτώ κατοίκους της πλουσιότερης χώρας του κόσμου ζει κάτω από το όριο της φτώχειας και να παρουσιάσει μερικά παραδείγματα, που θα έκαναν την έκθεσή του λίγο πιο «θελκτική» για τα διεθνή μέσα ενημέρωσης.

Ο Αλστον όμως συμπεριέλαβε και μια φράση που αποτελεί τη χαριστική βολή για το ημιθανές σώμα του αμερικανικού ονείρου: «Αν θέλετε να μιλήσετε για το αμερικανικό όνειρο», είπε, θα πρέπει να γνωρίζετε ότι «ένα παιδί που γεννιέται φτωχό στις ΗΠΑ δεν έχει στατιστικά σχεδόν καμία πιθανότητα να ξεφύγει από τη φτώχεια».

Το συμπέρασμά του αμφισβητούσε τον πυρήνα του μύθου της αριστείας, που υποστηρίζει ότι η σκληρή δουλειά είναι το μόνο που απαιτείται για να εξασφαλίσει κάποιος την επιτυχία στη φιλελεύθερη Αμερική… ή ακόμη και στη μνημονιακή Ελλάδα.

Ερχεται μάλιστα να συμπληρώσει πρόσφατη έρευνα, που δημοσιεύθηκε στην επιστημονική επιθεώρηση Child Development και αναφέρει ότι τα φτωχά παιδιά, που πιστεύουν σε έννοιες όπως η «αξιοκρατία», η «αριστεία» και η «κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη», καταλήγουν να απογοητεύονται και οδηγούνται συχνά σε επικίνδυνες και αυτοκαταστροφικές συμπεριφορές «καθώς αρχίζουν να αμφισβητούν τον εαυτό τους, για προβλήματα τα οποία δεν θα μπορούσαν να ελέγξουν».

Αντίθετα, εξηγούσε η επικεφαλής της έρευνας Εριν Γκόντφρεϊ, «όταν ανήκεις σε προνομιούχα στρώματα και πιστεύεις ότι το σύστημα είναι δίκαιο και συνεπώς θα πας μπροστά αν προσπαθήσεις αρκετά σκληρά, δεν δημιουργούνται εσωτερικές συγκρούσεις… απλώς αισθάνεσαι ικανοποιημένος με τον εαυτό σου που τα κατάφερε».

Οι παρατηρήσεις του Αλστον και της Γκόντφρεϊ καταρρίπτουν όμως και ακόμη έναν μύθο που τα τελευταία χρόνια εξαπλώνεται σαν μυστικιστική αίρεση στην καρδιά του σύγχρονου καπιταλισμού: ότι οι περίφημοι entrepreneurs (τα χείλη πρέπει να σχηματίζουν κύκλο στο τέλος της λέξης για να σας καταλαβαίνουν στο Κολωνάκι και την Εκάλη) οφείλουν συχνά την επιτυχία τους όχι μόνο στην αριστεία αλλά και σε μια γενετική προδιάθεση.

Σύμφωνα με τη σχετική θεωρία, η ανάληψη ρίσκου από τους νεαρούς επιχειρηματίες, που ξεκινούν τις δικές τους εταιρείες, αποτελεί κληρονομικό χάρισμα. Προφανώς, επειδή το συγκεκριμένο επιχείρημα έρχεται σε σύγκρουση ακόμη και με τις αρχές του καπιταλισμού και μας φέρνει πίσω στα χρόνια της πεφωτισμένης αριστοκρατίας, οι θιασώτες του τονίζουν ότι δεν αρκεί να έχεις το γονίδιο του εντρεπρενέρ εάν δεν το συνδυάσεις με σκληρή δουλειά που θα σε διακρίνει από τους υπόλοιπους (αριστεία).

Τα εκατοντάδες κείμενα που προωθούν τη συγκεκριμένη γενετική θεωρία έχουν μοναδική πηγή ένα βιβλίο του Σκοτ Σέιν, ο οποίος διδάσκει entrepreneurship (;) στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Case Western Reserve στις ΗΠΑ – πρόκειται δηλαδή για έναν άνθρωπο χωρίς καμία γνώση γενετικής.

Αντίθετα δεκάδες πρόσφατες επιστημονικές έρευνες αποδεικνύουν ότι η αυξημένη τάση προς την ανάληψη υψηλού ρίσκου, που (ομολογουμένως) παρουσιάζουν αρκετοί επιτυχημένοι εντρεπρενέρ, σχετίζεται συνήθως… με τα λεφτά του μπαμπά ή της μαμάς.

Ηδη από το 1998 οι ερευνητές Ντέιβιντ Μπλαντσφλάουερ και Αντριου Οσβαλντ, από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Γουόρικ, απέδειξαν ότι η ανάληψη ρίσκου είναι «κληρονομική» μόνο με την έννοια ότι οι επιτυχημένοι εντρεπρενέρ κληρονόμησαν κάποιο σημαντικό ποσό από συγγενείς τους, το οποίο χρησιμοποίησαν σαν αρχικό κεφάλαιο στην επιχείρησή τους. Σε έρευνα του 2013 οι οικονομολόγοι Ρος Λέβιν και Ρόνα Ρούμπινσταϊν, από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Μπέρκλεϊ στην Καλιφόρνια, ανέφεραν ότι «εάν κάποιος δεν διαθέτει χρήματα από την οικογένειά του οι πιθανότητες να ανοίξει τη δική του επιχείρηση μειώνονται».

Οι ερευνητές συνήθως δεν επιχειρούν να αποδείξουν ότι οι εντρεπρενέρ χρησιμοποιούν τα λεφτά του μπαμπά για να ανοίξουν την επιχείρησή τους (αν και συνήθως αυτό συμβαίνει), αλλά ότι η οικογενειακή περιουσία αποτελεί ένα αόρατο δίχτυ ασφαλείας που τους επιτρέπει να λαμβάνουν πιο ριψοκίνδυνες επιχειρηματικές αποφάσεις.

Αυτό που κληρονόμησαν δηλαδή δεν είναι κάποιο γονίδιο, αλλά η άνεση να «φάνε τα μούτρα» τους με ασφάλεια και (στην περίπτωση που η επένδυση αποδώσει καρπούς) το θράσος να παρουσιάζονται σαν ριψοκίνδυνοι, επιτυχημένοι επιχειρηματίες.

Πηγή:

30 December, 2017

'Election without Lula is fraud': Noam Chomsky and Chico Buarque back former president's candidacy

"Lula is growing in the polls in all scenarios for first and second electoral rounds and can even win without a runoff," the petition reads.

"Election without Lula is fraud" is the manifesto being promoted by intellectuals and artists like Noam Chomsky and Chico Buarque in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva's participation in the 2018 presidential elections.

So far, the petition in Change.org has reached over 92,000 signatures.

"The attempt to schedule the date of the trial of Lula's appeal for the 24th of January is empty of legality. It is purely an act of persecution of the most popular Brazilian leader," the manifesto says in its opening paragraph. Jan. 24 marks one year since Lula's deceased wife, Marisa Leticia, suffered a stroke that would eventually lead to her death days later.

In July 2017, Judge Sergio Moro convicted the former president to nine and a half years in prison for the alleged crime of passive corruption on bribes paid by the OAS construction company.

If the conviction is upheld on Jan. 24, Lula will not be able to run in the 2018 presidential elections.

Lula's popularity has increased by 16 percentage points throughout the year. As of Dec. 20, the former president's approval rating is at 45 percent, more than double of his two closest political rivals. According to the latest IPSOS poll, Geraldo Alckmin has an approval rating of 13 percent while Jair Bolsonaro, who trails behind Lula, is at 15 percent.

Poll numbers indicate that if Lula runs, he is most likely to win the 2018 elections.

Source, links, videos:

Puerto Rico: 1M without power 100 days after hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico is now in its 100th day since Category 4 Hurricane Maria struck the island, damaging vast amounts of infrastructure and nearly eliminating its electrical and running water systems.

Though some of these basic necessities have returned to the island, residents who have electricity say that "blackouts are part of life" and are angry that they are still in "recovery mode."

Clear statistics on electricity are hard to obtain on the island, a U.S. "territory." According to several news outlets, one million people are still without electricity. But according to Engineering and Agronomy High School President Pablo Vazquez, only 44 percent of Puerto Rico's nearly three million residents have reliable energy in their homes.

"We had to cancel our Christmas Eve dinner," resident Irma Rivera Aviles told NPR. The vast majority of the population on the predominantly-Catholic island was forced to spend Christmas in the dark.

While infrastructure in and around the tourism-dependent capital city of San Juan has returned, rural areas remain without adequate health care.

In terms of transportation, 27 sections along several highly-traveled highways are closed, 15 fallen bridges have not been rebuilt and hundreds of traffic lights are down.

Full report:

“Sellouts in the Room:” Éric Toussaint on the Greek debt crisis and SYRIZA betrayals

For years, throughout the severe economic crisis that has plagued Greece over much of the past decade, the international media and financial press have held Greece up as a striking example of financial folly and mismanagement. Greece’s debt, we have been told, is the product of fiscal irresponsibility, of “lazy” and “unproductive” Greeks living beyond their means and spending recklessly. Moreover, Greece has been chastised for not emerging out of its economic doldrums despite being the recipient of hundreds of billions of euros worth of “free bailout money.” In short, Greece has been presented as an example for other countries to avoid at all costs.

Éric Toussaint, the spokesman of the Brussels-based Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM) and scientific director of the Greek Debt Truth Audit Commission, adopts a radically different view.

In an interview that initially aired on Dialogos Radio in December 2017, Toussaint describes the findings of the commission and describes the legal avenues available to Greece for the repudiation of a significant portion of its debt, which he describes as odious and illegitimate. He also criticizes claims made by economist and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in his recent book regarding the supposed lack of options available to Greece in its negotiations with its lenders in 2015.

Toussaint illustrates the capitulation of Varoufakis and current Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, resulting in further harsh austerity measures and no solution for the issue of the Greek public debt.

Full interview:

29 December, 2017

Dear Americans: get ready to say goodbye to what is left from your social state!


Since the Dark Ages of the Reagan administration that opened Pandora's box to unleash the destructive forces of neoliberalism and financial capitalism, the US social state has suffered multiple hits to the point that is barely alive in our days.

While working class wages remained almost flat for decades, the social state has been almost eliminated and the American families were being forced into a vicious circle of increased debt to cover even their basic needs.

The main cause of this ugly situation was always the continuous tax breaks in favor of the wealthy elite. Plutocracy was getting richer not only directly through tax cuts, but also by making business and speculation in economic areas that were traditionally provided publicly in previous decades: health, education, housing.

As people were fed up with the classic bipartisan politicians, fully aligned with the neoliberal establishment, Donald Trump came as an unpleasant gift for the elites to fulfill their goals, which, basically, are 'business as usual': more tax cuts, more for-profit wars, further deregulation in every level, total destruction of the social state.

Many argue that everyone will be benefited from the recent disastrous more-tax-cuts-for-the-plutocracy bill passed by Trump administration. In reality, Donnie and his wealthy friends tricked again the working class with a small piece of cheese in the bait. Except that the tax cuts are enormous for the elite compared to those for the working class, the total implications for the vast majority of the Americans will be more than serious.

Aaron Maté of the Real News speaks with William K. Black to uncover the ugly truth behind the bill:

As Maté says:

So, this corporate tax rate now is going down to 21%, and that's permanent. But yet, with these bonuses from say ATT and Comcast of a thousand dollars to their employees, those aren't recurring bonuses. They're a one-time bonus of one thousand dollars. So, the employees get one thousand dollars once. These companies get a massive cut to 21% for life.

Black continues:

It's actually of course worse than that. You're quite right in what you've said, except that two things have to be kept in mind.

One, these companies were going to do it anyway. They were going to raise wages for this small segment, for example, in Wells Fargo's case, because they had operational needs to do that anyway. So this has nothing to do with the Trump tax cut. It is pure theater.

And second, not only are the corporate tax cuts permanent, but if the logic is tax competition, the United States needs to cut its corporate tax rate to compete with Ireland and such. Well, what are Ireland and other nations going to do that are in competition with us if we slash our corporate tax rate? They're going to cut their corporate tax rate as well, and there are a number of countries already beginning that process.

And then, the logic is going to be, we need to make further cuts in our corporate tax rate, and of course this "logic" inexorably leads you to have zero corporate tax rate, which is what their real goal is. And by the way, they are open behind the scenes in terms of conservative economists that that's exactly what they want to produce.


Zero corporate tax rate equals definite death of the social state. Instead of going forward, the American society slips into another dark age of corporate Feudalism. That's why Bernie Sanders fought so fiercely against the latest tax bill. As Bernie states:

This is why the Koch brothers are spending so much money to see this legislation passed. Their family will benefit to the tune of some 30 billion dollars. So, spending a few hundred million dollars to elect people like Senator Cruz is pocket change if your family is gonna get 30 billion.

We had a young lady coming up here talking about the cost of college. I think it makes a lot more sense for us to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and lower student debt rather than give the Walton family up to 50 billion dollars in tax breaks.



Venezuela’s Maduro: 2017 was victory over ´oligarchic´ opposition

At a year-end ceremony for Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Armed Forces, FANB, President Nicolas Maduro highlighted the armed forces’ victories in the last year, adding that in 2018 a “popular defense system for peace” will be launched.

In the last year, Maduro pressed, the forces fully developed their training and operations plan throughout the country, conducting 236 military operations. The country’s defense system, he added, continues to stand against the aggression it faces from the United States.

"The year 2017 was the year of threats of violence and aggression that our country (has never faced) before … a victim of aggression of the right financed by imperialism, like the ones we saw this year with the guarimbas (opposition violence)," he declared.

More:

Saudi Arabia Killed 68 Yemeni Civilians in Just 1 Day

A United Nations top official said warring sides in Yemen, specially the Saudi-led coalition has no regard for human life.

The top U.N. official in Yemen said Thursday that Saudi-led airstrikes have killed scores of civilians in the past 10 days, including 68 in just one day, in what he called an "absurd war" in which all sides, including Saudi Arabia’s military coalition, show "complete disregard for human life".

"This absurd war ... has only resulted in the destruction of the country and the incommensurate suffering of its people, who are being punished as part of a futile military campaign by both sides," U.N. resident coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said in a statement.

I remind all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition, of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to always distinguish between civilian and military objects.

Aid organizations, including the United Nations, estimate that almost 10,000 people have been killed, more than half of them civilians, since March 2015 when Saudi Arabia began its ground and air military campaign against Yemen in a bid to oust the Houthi rebels who had taken over the capital Sanaa and ousted the Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Also last week the International Committee of the Red Cross said that Yemen's cholera epidemic has reached one million suspected cases, as the Saudi-led war against the impoverished nation leaves more than 80 percent of the population short of food, fuel, clean water and access to healthcare.

Yemen has also been under a complete blockade since November which has meant that the country has no access to “fuel, essential for moving food and other vital goods around the country, Oxfam said in its report last week marking 1,000 days of war in country.

Source:

Washington’s pre-war demonization formula is targeting Iran ... again

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s grandiose performance in front of the UN on December 15 should send shivers down the spines of those who remember Colin Powell’s equally disturbing performance in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is just the beginning of the a new media campaign against Iran with regime change as the end goal.

by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Part 5 - Demonization in tandem with the mainstream media

In 2015, in one of my more curious moments, I analyzed a number of Guardian articles that claimed, without question, that the Houthi rebels leading an insurrection in Yemen were “Iran-backed.” Most of the time, the claim that the Houthi rebels were Iranian-backed was presented without any evidence, though The Guardian occasionally provided a hyperlink for the source.

By further researching into these hyperlinked articles, I found The Guardian was failing to provide evidence that Iran was backing rebels in Yemen – at all. It was merely hyperlinking to other articles that made the same claim, without any direct evidence. In one of the examples, the hyperlinked article was another Guardian article that detailed that a “source” had revealed that fighters trained in one of the Gulf States (which was not specified; certainly it did not specify Iran) — who numbered no more than 10 altogether — had arrived in Yemen. If there was proof of Iranian involvement, why was it so hard to hyperlink a source?

This continues to be the case up until today. Now that we know that the mainstream media has been attempting to demonize Iran as the sole aggressor in Yemen — and had close to zero evidence in support of this attempt since the war in Yemen began — we shouldn’t expect too much by way of evidence in the years to come. In fact, the available evidence shows that there is only one entity illegally invading Yemen, as we speak, and attempting to partition the country on its own conditions — that being the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Yet the media has barely paid any attention to this unlawful development, all the while raving incessantly about Iran’s non-existent acts of war in the wider Middle East.

Even if it can be established that Iran is directly transferring weapons to Yemen (weapons that somehow get through Saudi Arabia’s ruthlessly cruel blockade, which refuses to allow even the most basic food and medical supplies to Yemen’s starving population), it still doesn’t make sense to demonize Iran and give a free pass to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen back into the Stone Age; or to the United States for knowingly supporting al-Qaeda in Syria.

One should note that Haley’s anti-Iran rhetoric comes at a time when it has been revealed that ISIS was openly taking advantage of U.S. weapons transfers in Syria.

Who is arming whom, exactly?

***

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [4]

28 December, 2017

Why Bitcoin fanatics should actually pray for a CryptoCurrency issued by the BRICS


There were some worrying signs concerning Bitcoin value lately. The problem is not that Bitcoin reached record levels at an exceptionally high price. The problem is that the first significant fluctuations have been observed with high ups and downs.

Recently, the former Greek Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis, described Bitcoin as the "perfect bubble". From Wired:

When I first met Yanis Varoufakis in the summer of 2014, he was a highly respected but relatively obscure economist. Back then, the price of one bitcoin fluctuated around $440. Fast-forward three years and his career has followed a similar trajectory to bitcoin’s valuation. Both have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, characterised by high-drama and volatility. Varoufakis would be thrust into the limelight as Greece’s finance minister; battling the austerity programme put forward by the Troika and today pursues the lofty ambition of trying to reform Europe. Reaching similar heights, just two weeks ago the price of one bitcoin broke $20,000 for the first time.

Varoufakis may have been one of the very first senior political leaders to explore the use of blockchain-based payments for a national economy. At the height of Greece’s financial crisis, he developed a plan for creating a peer-to-peer parallel payments system, based on the blockchain. Yet he wants to make one point very clear: “I was never impressed by bitcoin itself; but from the beginning I was saying that blockchain is a remarkable solution to problems that we have not even imagined yet.

As bitcoin’s price continues to fluctuate, it has come under a steady barrage of criticism. Varoufakis is no less damning of the cryptocurrency but on very different grounds.

[...]

Citing the 17th Century Dutch financial bubble in tulip bulbs, Varoufakis sees bitcoin’s current valuation as, “the perfect tulip bubble.” His explanation is simple. “Just take a look at two graphs. Graph one is a time-series of the dollar price of bitcoin, which has been growing exponentially. Graph two is the number of transactions and the quantity of goods and services that are sold and purchased by bitcoins.” The juxtaposition between these two graphs, suggests that the price of bitcoin is grossly inflated relative to its actual use. This leaves Varoufakis to conclude that, “without a shadow of a doubt, this valuation is the perfect bubble.

Image result for bitcoin

To our humble opinion, Varoufakis is only half-right.

Because the problem is not just that the Bitcoin market is dangerously resembling the functioning of the casino capitalism, as Varoufakis describes. That's how financial capitalism works for more than forty years now, based on the dollar as the global reserve currency. A system created by the neoilberal doctrine and gave us big financial crises, instability, inequality.

The biggest problem is that, since one can buy Bitcoins with classic currencies, the Bitcoin market is automatically connected to that system. Which means that, sooner or later it will be 'contaminated' by attracting, for example, all kinds of speculators coming from the 'dark side' of the dollar-dominated financial capitalism.

Which means that, although Bitcoin is a decentralized CryptoCurrency, the Western banking cabal knows how to destroy it: simply by 'contaminating' it with all the speculative factors that are necessary to create a big bubble that will burst (although not that easily in the case of CryptoCurrencies).

As has been described, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's recent statement about Bitcoin could be considered the official war declaration on the digital currency by the global financial mafia. The declaration of war could be related to a recent statement made by the Head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, that the BRICS are considering to create their own CryptoCurrency for the purposes of global commerce.

So, with an alternative economic bloc based on a CryptoCurrency issued by BRICS, Bitcoin and other CryptoCurrencies will find a much more solid ground to be developed and survive. Because this huge bloc will be backed by a fast-growing market functioning with real goods, investments and services, not big oil interests, wars, bubbles and speculative transactions that dominate in the Western financial system today.

So, this is actually a battle with time. The Western banking cabal will seek to destroy Bitcoin before it finds a safety net in a system flooded with decentralized CryptoCurrencies and other CryptoCurrencies issued by a major rival bloc. Bitcoin fanatics should not pray just for a CryptoCurrency issued by the BRICS. They should pray for this prospect to become reality as soon as possible.

Related:






Trickle-down economics: the biggest fairy tale sold to the working class by the neoliberal regime

  globinfo freexchange

Bernie Sanders says one more time until you get it: Ronald Reagan tried it. George W. Bush tried it. Guess what? Cutting taxes for the wealthy DOESN'T WORK.


Well, to be accurate it works perfect for the plutocratic elite, while screws everybody else. Get ready for the destruction of the last remnants of the social state in America.

US lets militants train, mount attacks from its Syrian bases

The US is hosting training camps for militant groups in Syria, including former ISIS fighters who fled from Raqqa, said the head of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, citing data obtained by aerial surveillance.

The US forces have effectively turned their military base near the town of al-Tanf in southeastern Syria into a terrorists’ training camp, Gerasimov said in an interview to Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Wednesday.

According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed there. They are effectively training there,” Gerasimov said, when asked about what’s going on at the base.

The general also said the US has been using a refugee camp in northeast Syria, outside the town of Al-Shaddadah in Al-Hasakah province, as a training camp for the remnants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, including those evacuated from Raqqa, and other militants.

This is essentially ISIS,” Gerasimov said. “They change their colors, take different names – the 'New Syrian Army' and others. They are tasked with destabilizing the situation.” Some 400 militants left Al-Shaddadah for Al-Tanf, launching an offensive on the Syrian forces from the eastern bank of Euphrates, after the main ISIS forces were routed there, Gerasimov said.

Full report:

Οι ΗΠΑ εκπαιδεύουν πρώην μαχητές του ISIS καταγγέλει ο Ρώσος ΑΓΕΕΘΑ

Η Ρωσία διαθέτει φωτογραφικό υλικό και βίντεο από δορυφόρους και drones που αποδεικνύει ότι αμερικανικές δυνάμεις εκπαιδεύουν ισλαμιστές μαχητές που ανήκαν στον ISIS και σήμερα παρουσιάζονται σαν μέλη άλλων οργανώσεων, υποστηρίζει ο αρχηγός γενικού επιτελείου ενόπλων δυνάμεων της Ρωσίας, στρατηγός Βάλερι Γκερασίμοφ.

Μιλώντας στην εφημερίδα Komsomolskaya Pravda, ανέφερε ότι η στρατιωτική βάση των ΗΠΑ στο Τανφ – πέρασμα στρατηγικής σημασίας στα σύνορα της Συρίας με το Ιράκ – «έχει μετατραπεί σε μαύρη τρύπα» καθώς ομάδες ανταρτών δρουν ανενόχλητες.

Ρώσοι αξιωματούχοι είχαν κάνει ανάλογες καταγγελίες στο παρελθόν, τις οποίες διέψευδαν οι ΗΠΑ, σύμφωνα με τις οποίες η βάση αποτελεί προσωρινό κέντρο εκπαίδευσης δυνάμεων που μάχονται τον ISIS.

Σύμφωνα με τον Γκερασίμοφ, οι μαχητές που εκπαιδεύουν οι ΗΠΑ παραμένουν στην ουσία μέλη του ISIS αλλά παρουσιάζονται με ονόματα διαφορετικών οργανώσεων προκειμένου να συνεχίσουν τις προσπάθειες αποσταθεροποίησης της περιοχής.

Πηγή:

If Hillary Clinton had won, we’d be even worse

by Ted Rall

What if Hillary Clinton had won 114,000 more votes in four key states? Or, what if she’d picked up the two to three percent of the vote she lost because Bernie Sanders’ supporters sat on their hands on election day? She’d be “Clinton 2” or “Clinton 45” or “the second President Clinton” — and the world would look very different.

In terms of personnel and therefore policy, a Clinton Administration II would look and feel like a mash-up of Obama’s third term and a throwback to figures who populated her husband’s White House during the 1990s. Having moved to the right since Bill’s first term, progressive figures like then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich would be out in the cold. Rahm Emanuel and Timothy Geithner could expect cabinet offers. So could some Bush-era neo-cons like Robert Kagan.

Hillary didn’t promise much change to domestic policy during her campaign. Her biggest proposal was to spend $275 billion on infrastructure, which would have left us $1.3 trillion short of what’s needed. Not that she could have gotten it through the Republican Congress.

The alternate presidential history of 2017 differs most significantly in two respects: foreign policy, and tone.

Clinton’s liberal supporters always glossed over her long history of hawkish, arguably far-right, approaches to military matters. Those who mourn her loss to Trump today have completely forgotten that she convinced Obama to back military coups against the democratically-elected leaders of Honduras and Egypt. She also successfully advised advised Obama to arm and fund radical Islamist militias in Syria and Libya, plunging two modern Muslim countries into civil wars that have reduced them to failed states. Clinton’s famous cackle after a U.S. drone blew up Libyan ruler Moammar Khaddafi’s convoy, leading to his being sodomized by bayonet on video, is terrifying.

It’s impossible to know which national security crises she would be forced to confront, of course,” Micah Zenko speculated in Foreign Policy in July 2016. “But those who vote for her should know that she will approach such crises with a long track record of being generally supportive of initiating U.S. military interventions and expanding them.”

Two months later, another FP writer penned an astonishing look behind the Kremlin walls at the thinking of top Russian officials worried about the U.S. election: “Moscow perceives the former secretary of state as an existential threat… That fear was heightened when Clinton surrogate Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, recently accused Putin of attempting to rig the U.S. election through cyberattacks. That is a grave allegation — the very kind of thing a President Clinton might repeat to justify war with Russia,” wrote Clinton Ehrlich.

Would Hillary’s tough talk have triggered World War III with Russia by now? Probably not. But it’s not impossible — which shows us how far right she stands politically on the use of the force.

More likely and thus more worrisome, Hillary might have leveraged the current U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan into attacks against neighboring Iran. “I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran” if Iran were to attack Israel — even if there were no Congressional authorization or a clear and present danger to the U.S., Clinton said in 2008. “And I want them to understand that… we would be able to totally obliterate them [to retaliate for an attack on Israel].” Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has a real military and thus a real ability to defend itself — which would mean a long, costly and possibly unwinnable war.

Like Trump, Hillary would almost certainly be authorizing the construction, deployment and use of more assassination drone planes.

The one arena where most people agree that President Clinton would have been better than President Trump is presidential tone. Yes, “she does yell into microphones and speak in an overly enunciated voice—two factors that may make her seem abrasive.” But this is a woman whose campaign assigned 12 staffers to compose a tweet; they went through 10 drafts over 10 hours. There wouldn’t be any Trump-style 3 a.m. Twitter diarrhea coming out of a Clinton White House.

When George W. Bush was president, there wasn’t one morning I didn’t regret that Al Gore wasn’t there instead. Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. He might not have gone into Afghanistan either. Unlike pretty much every other president, he cared about the environment.

There isn’t a single moment I miss President Hillary Clinton, though. Trump is a disaster, a real piece of crap. But everyone knows it. Because Trump is so loud and stupid and cruel and greedy and corrupt, all liberals and not a few conservatives clearly discern the true nature of his administration, and of the system itself.

If Hillary Clinton were president, the left would still be just as asleep as it was between 2008 and 2016. First woman president! Aren’t we just the best.

Meanwhile, the drones fire their missiles and U.S. troops and spooks prop up tyrants, and the filthy rich rake in their loot.

Trump gives us clarity. That is no small thing.

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Washington’s pre-war demonization formula is targeting Iran ... again

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s grandiose performance in front of the UN on December 15 should send shivers down the spines of those who remember Colin Powell’s equally disturbing performance in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is just the beginning of the a new media campaign against Iran with regime change as the end goal.

by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Part 4 - The U.S. demonization of Iran

In the meantime, the U.S. needs to do its utmost to garner international support for a war with Iran. The alleged nuclear threat held by Iran has almost completely been taken off the table, in light of the fact that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) formed in 2015 has largely worked to quell any international fears about Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons. The Trump administration is singlehandedly attempting to derail the deal, against the better judgment of even Trump’s most anti-Iranian advisors.

Enter Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the UN. Haley’s grandiose performance in front of the UN on December 15 should send shivers down the spines of those of us who remember Colin Powell’s equally disturbing performance in the months leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

According to Haley, the U.S. has “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation, citing missiles that she alleges are Iranian-made and subsequently transferred to Yemen to be used against Saudi Arabia.

Just a few days later, Haley came out with another attack on Iran, this time in reference to a UN report on Iran’s compliance with Resolution 2231. “This is the Secretary-General’s fourth report on the Iranian regime’s lack of full compliance with Resolution 2231,” Haley said, referring to the UN resolution that codified the nuclear deal. “And it is the most damning report yet. This report makes the case that Iran is illegally transferring weapons.

Never mind that Saudi Arabia is the only country using its missiles to great effect to commit countless war crimes against the people of Yemen. The fact remains that evidence regarding Iranian involvement in the Yemen conflict is still not established, even to this day. As explained by Common Dream’s Reza Marashi:

           Haley cited a UN report in her claim regarding Iranian missile transfers to the Houthis. Of course, the UN has reached no such conclusion. Instead, a panel of experts concluded that fired missile fragments show components from an Iranian company, but they have ‘no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier.’

           Asked about Haley’s claim that Iran is the culprit, Sweden’s ambassador to the UN said, ‘The info I have is less clear.’ Analysts from the U.S. Department of Defense speaking to reporters at Haley’s speech openly acknowledged that they do not know the missiles’ origin.

           Perhaps most surreal is the very same UN report cited by Haley also says the missile included a component that was manufactured by an American company. Did she disingenuously omit that inconvenient bit from her remarks, or fail to read the entire UN report? The world may never know.

In January of this year, a panel of UN experts stated that:

          The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.

What those UN experts did find, however, was mounting evidence of Saudi Arabian war crimes in Yemen. To paint Iran as the aggressor in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia continues to openly decimate Yemen’s civilian population, is astounding to say the least. In our recent history, there is only one recorded instance of Iran firing a missile into any other country — that being Syria, in response to an ISIS-inspired attack that occurred on Iranian soil. Iran’s strike on Syria was done in accordance with its various defense agreements with the Syrian government; meaning it is unlikely that Iran violated anyone’s sovereignty in carrying out such a strike (unlike the U.S., which has no such justification to bomb Syrian territory).

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27 December, 2017

How Clinton, Blair and Obama paved the way for Donald Trump by destroying the idealism of politics


Paul Jay of the Real News spoke with the famous actor Gabriel Byrne in an interesting interview about politics and other issues.

Byrne describes the disappointment of the people when Blair and Obama were elected, as they were expecting a real progressive turn in politics. As Byrne says characteristically, Tony Blair "destroyed the idealism of politics for so many people,":

There was an interesting parallel between British politics and American politics. When Margaret Thatcher was finally voted out of office, Tony Blair arrived, and Tony Blair arrived like a rock star. He was mobbed in the streets, people were saying, "At last, Thatcherism is over. Conservatism is finished, we now have the savior."

What Tony Blair subsequently did, was he betrayed all the ideals of the traditional labor party, he became Thatcher with a different colored tie on him. He destroyed the idealism of politics for so many people, and a similar thing happened here when Obama was elected, in that everybody was saying, "Oh my god, this was our savior. This is the man who is no longer George Bush."


What Byrne describes is actually the full adoption of neoliberalism by the Democrats in the US and the Labour Party in the UK.

People thought that they were about to escape Thatcherism and Reaganism, but this was actually the time where both the US and the UK were completely taken over by the neoliberal doctrine under which the establishment political parties became one big party under the control of the plutocracy.

Clinton, Blair and Obama continued the agenda of their conservative predecessors, which included devastating wars around the globe, as well as deregulations in favor of the banks and the big companies, Wall Street bailouts, further destruction of the social state against the majority of the people.

This was the full adoption of Thatcher's 'There is no Altrnative', which helped inequality reach unprecedented levels. People felt betrayed by the parties that are supposed to be on their side. But nothing was left from FDR's heritage.

So now, the Democrats have the audacity to blame everyone but themselves for the fact that the US ended up with one of the worst presidents in its history. They blame the Russians, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, progressive voters, alternative media, WikiLeaks, Whistleblowers. Full arrogance, zero self-criticism, total denial.

The Dems appear to be so much blinded by the corporate money that they are unable to look in the past and trace the roots of today's situation. How the US ended up with someone like Trump? That's easy. People got so fed up with the neoliberal establishment that they desperately turned to the first nominee that would promise to fight it. Even if he was just an alternative for the establishment itself ...

US troops in Afghanistan to ‘increase dramatically’ in 2018

More American troops will be headed to Afghanistan in the new year, the top US general in Kabul told reporters. Increased numbers of US advisers will be backed by combat troops as well.

There are over 1,000 advisers out with Afghan forces at any given time, General John W. Nicholson Jr. told reporters Sunday. “Next year, however, this will increase dramatically.

The new plan for turning the corner in a war the US has fought since 2001 involves deploying more advisers in battle alongside Afghan security forces, Nicholson said. The brigade-size teams “will be backed up by US combat enablers, not only for the protection of our own force, but for support of Afghans as well,” he said.

Two brigade combat teams from the 4th Infantry Division will head out to Afghanistan from Fort Carson, Colorado in the spring, the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported. The 6,000 or so troops will spend nine months in Afghanistan, and will be relieving a combat team from the 25th Infantry and another from the 82nd Airborne.

There are about 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan at the moment, including the 3,000 sent in September, following President Donald Trump’s announcement in August that he would escalate the war rather than wind it down.

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Russia begins development of Syrian bases to host nuclear warships & warplanes

The Russian Defense Ministry has started work on upgrading the bases in Tartus and Khmeimim in Syria into permanent military centers. Damascus has agreed to host Russian forces for at least 49 more years.

The bases in Tartus and Khmeimim are among a handful of military installations Russia has in foreign nations. Earlier this year, Russia and Syria finalized an agreement regulating the presence of Russian troops in Syria. Khmeimim Airbase, located near Latakia, and the naval site in the port city of Tartus have both been handed over to Russia for 49 years lease-free, and with a condition of automatic extension unless either country chooses to terminate the deal. The Russian parliament ratified the Khmeimim deal in July and the Tartus deal on Tuesday.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported on Tuesday that the details of the deployment and development of the two sites had been authorized by President Vladimir Putin last week. “We have started the process of formation of our permanent forces [in Syria],” Shoigu said at a ministry meeting.

Russia has been flying sorties from Khmeimim since 2015, when its Syria anti-terrorist campaign started. The site in Tartus has been operating since the 1970s, but was a small facility meant for resupplying Soviet and later Russian ships. Officially dubbed a “material-technical support point” in naval nomenclature, it is not fitted to dock or repair larger ships.

The Russian Navy, however, reportedly intends to expand the facility significantly. Under the agreement with Syria, the future base would be allowed to host up to 11 Russian warships, including those with a nuclear power plant. At the moment there is only one Russian nuclear-propelled military surface ship, the 24,000-ton battlecruiser ‘Pyotr Velikiy’, although Russia will soon have a nuclear icebreaker – albeit which is unlikely to be given a mission in the Mediterranean – while a brand new Lider-class destroyer project is at the design stage.

Full report: