Professional Scam Artists – part 40

“Russia-gate Grand Wizard Deceives Audience About Assange” by Caitlin Johnstone (Rogue Journalist)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

As it turns out, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in a secret case investigating Assange for his 2010 role in the WikiLeaks publication of military war logs and diplomatic cables. Manning served seven years in prison for leaking those documents to the transparency advocacy outlet before her sentence was commuted by President Obama, meaning, obviously, that this sealed case has nothing to do with the 2016 leaks Russiagaters have been fiendishly obsessing over. Indeed, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that “U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, say the case is based on [Assange’s] pre-2016 conduct, not the election hacks that drew the attention of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.”

So there you have it. Democrats like Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden who have been cheering for Assange’s arrest have actually been cheering on the Trump administration’s prosecution of a journalist for publishing facts about Bush administration war crimes. They thought they were supporting the agenda to punish Assange for publishing leaks that hurt the Hillary campaign, but in reality they were defending two Republican administrations while helping to manufacture support for a prosecution that would set a devastating precedent for press freedoms throughout the entire world.

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Russia-gate Grand Wizard Rachel Maddow, you might think she would report the revelation that an unfounded belief held by many of her acolytes has been completely and thoroughly disproven once and for all. If you are a bit more familiar with her, you might assume that she would completely ignore this revelation like she normally does when her conspiratorial ramblings are disproven by facts and evidence. But if you know Rachel really, really well, you might guess what she actually did on her show last night.

That’s right, she flat out lied about it.

Nicolas Maduro, Donald Trump, Juan Guaido

“‘The UN is Toothless on the Issue of Sanctions’, Leaving Venezuela Vulnerable to Instability” by Patrick Henningsen (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Washington’s self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, claims that Venezuela’s recent expulsion of the German ambassador Daniel Kreiner, is a ‘threat against Germany,’ and that Venezuela lives under a “dictatorship” – and yet when Guaido, an operative working on behalf of the US government, eventually returned to Caracas – he was not arrested by the Maduro government which belies claims made by Guaido and the Trump Administration.

Henningsen spoke with Sputnik Radio this week, and believes that the real problem here is the US and its allies recognizing Guaido as the legitimate president of the country – when in fact he is not…

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser John Bolton also joined in on imposing collective punishment against the Venezuelan people by putting any foreign financial institutions on notice will they dare to trade or try to help Venezuela in the face of economic warfare being waged by Washington-led axis powers. This continued economic siege by the US could spell instability for Venezuela in the long run.

How do self-modified people gain power in this dark world? They strategically break whatever written and unwritten rules that they feel will result in their gain. As often as I point that out online (probably hundreds of times by now), no one ever comments. I find that strange.

“The corrupt state of Canada” by Roger Annis (A Socialist In Canada)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

…A front page story in the Globe and Mail on February 15, 2019 reveals the huge sums the Canadian government’s export-promoting agency has doled out to Canada’s corrupt engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. Since 2002, an estimated $2 billion to $4.3 billion has been provided in 19 loans by Export Development Canada. The exact amounts are unknown because EDC withholds them in the name of ‘commercial confidentiality’. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars have been provided to the company in a loan guarantee and in political risk insurance policies for its operations in Venezuela and Angola.

The company is at the center of a political storm following news revelations beginning on February 7 of this year that the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had joined Lavalin in lobbying Canada’s judicial system to exempt the company from criminal accusations of corruption related to its operations in Libya. Charges were laid by the RCMP on February 19, 2015, when the Conservative Party was still in power in Ottawa. These are the charges still hanging over the company.

SNC-Lavalin has also faced criminal accusations of bribery in Canada related to various projects, notably the construction of the new ‘super hospital’ of the McGill University Health Centre in downtown Montreal. In most cases, company individuals took the rap in the form of resignations. A few faced criminal charges…

It is known that during Wilson-Raybould’s tenure as justice minister, prosecution officials in her ministry came under heavy lobbying pressures from SNC-Lavalin and the Prime Minister’ Office (PMO) to accept the company’s request for what is termed ‘deferred prosecution agreements‘ (DPA) brought into law in the spring of 2018 by the Liberals to assist companies caught out in bribery or other illegal actions to gain contracts or influence. The change to the Criminal Code was bundled into the ‘omnibus’ federal budget bill (a practice used by the preceeding Harper regime and vigorously denounced by the Liberals at the time) and adopted by a majority in Parliament…

SNC-Lavalin is up to its ears in corruption allegations and convictions related to contracts it received in Canada and Libya. But it is deemed by the federal government and corporate Canada to be ‘too big to fail’. The company has 50,000 employees worldwide with operations in over 160 countries. Close to 9,000 are employed in Canada. The government of Quebec is also heavily invested in protecting and financially aiding the company at all cost…

For her part, Wilson-Raybould remains silent on the whole case in the name of ‘solicitor-client’ confidentiality, the ‘client’ being the government which she served as justice minister. All this while her (former) ‘client’, including Trudeau himself, cannot stop talking about the case, in an effort to dissuade public attention and concern…

The Trudeau-led government has ‘doubled down’ on a soulless, death-cult, capitalist economic imperative which defines ‘progress’ as endless growth that pollutes life-sustaining land, water and air. Humans have a moral duty of care and compassion for the species with which humans share the planet, but capitalist expansionism destroys that, too.

Jody Wilson-Raybould was a loyal flag bearer of this government while serving as justice minister, including of Canada’s harsh and punitive justice system. Among the most egregious of her legacies as justice minister is her failure to end or even curb Canada’s murderous ‘war on drugs’.

The lawless are too big to fail even when they are not that big, provided they possess the ‘right’ political views (they support the powerful and rich). But the big, special, capitalist interests are especially too big to fail – in this world.

Chris Williams (video from Guardian News)
The actual video, linked to in Jonathan’s original article, is quite short. Between the fuzzines of the audio and the accent, I don’t hear most of it. You may do better than I.

“More Than Bad Faith Behind Anti-semitism Slurs” by Jonathan Cook (Dissident Voice)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

John Harris, a columnist who by the Guardian’s current dismal standards is considered on the newspaper’s left, has added his voice to the paper’s endless contributions on Labour’s supposed “anti-semitism crisis”. Sadly, his is typical of the paper’s misrepresentations of the issue…

Nonetheless, Harris is such a good journalist by conventional standards and his work here is so lamentable, so lacking in awareness of even basic human psychology, that it cries out for some deeper analysis…

No one from the Daily Mail to the Guardian departs from the “Labour is institutionally anti-semitic” narrative. That in itself is quite extraordinary. But the dearth of evidence for this narrative offers an opportunity to shake us out of our complacent belief that a state-corporate media, one reliant on profits from advertising corporations, can ever represent more than a narrow spectrum of thought – thought that helps those in power to maintain their power…

‘Harris begins his article by noting a Jewish woman’s experience of what she sees as an increasingly “abusive relationship” with the Labour party after 40 years as a member. Reporting her concerns, Harris lists a few recent incidents witnessed by this woman that she cites as proof of a rising tide of anti-semitism in Labour.

Absolutely no details are provided beyond her interpretations of what took place. (One should note that this lack of evidence is a staple of the media’s narrative about “institutional anti-semitism” in Labour.)…

First some background. Most liberal journalists are aware of the problem of what are called “moral panics”. Harris’s Guardian colleague Nick Davies wrote an influential book, Flat Earth News, whose first chapter was dedicated to the way the media and public can end up in a narrative tailspin, entering a world of mutually reinforcing self-delusions.

When such delusions serve an establishment agenda, they can be particularly pernicious and difficult to root out. And beating Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn into submission – or into the dust – before he can reach No 10 is definitely high on the political and media establishments’ agenda.

Moral panics work this way: Journalists stoke up emotions or fears over an issue that then runs rampant through public discourse to the point at which it no longer bears any resemblance to the real problem…

Some British Jews like Berger (as well as non-Jews like Ryan) identify strongly with Israel, even as it swings ever further to the ultra-nationalist right. Some, the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland among them, appear to believe that criticism of Israel is equivalent to anti-semitism. Some make this conflation wilfully and maliciously, some do it out of ignorance. Either way, those making this conflation do so to prevent Israel being criticised because they genuinely cannot bear to hear such criticism. They feel it as a personal attack.

Jonathan’s lengthy article is a must read. He’s done an excellent job of presenting a subject that, I think, he had to grapple with. If anyone can ‘grapple’ successfully, here, it’s Jonathan, who, helpfully, once worked for the ruined Guardian.

When Jonathan wrote that “It is easy – and lazy – to accuse those who peddle these distortions of acting solely in bad faith,” and then later wrote that “Some make this conflation wilfully and maliciously, some do it out of ignorance,” that signalled to me that he was grappling (having to work hard to unravel something complex, with or without success). One isn’t automatically “lazy” for failing to unvravel the complex issues around moral panic, which sounds like Elliot Aronson’s “social reality.” Social reality obtains when those around you relentlessly assert that something is so, while to you, it absolutely isn’t so. After a time, according to the theory, you have been so pummelled by the relentless assertions of those around you and the weight of those assertions that comes from the fact that you are the ‘only’ one not seeing the truth of them, that you cave. In Aronson’s explanation for social reality, the phenomenon works mainly when there is an element of uncertainty about the subject. For example, If I said the sky is plaid, you’d be far less certain that my assertion is wrong. If I said that the sky is green, you’d experience less certainty that you’re right. That’s because ‘green’ is closer to plausible than ‘plaid’.

Those who relentlessly assert that everything that they disagree with is also anti-semitic themselves have painted their assertions plaid. They’ve been unsophisticated and incautious in their accusations. That carelessness has had the effect, no doubt, of making those with principles, clear heads and good reputations, embarrassed to agree with the pro Nazi Israel (a different thing than pro Israel) crowd, despite the enormous pressure on them to do so.

There’s a few things I’ll say about Jonathan’s view of moral panic (social reality). One, There are indeed a lot of malicious people making the anti-semitic smear. (Where does that malice come from?) There are a lot of uncaring, unprincipled people (victims of ‘riches for the strongest’, seen most clearly in neoliberalism/neoconservatism, and victimizers) who have embraced this world’s paradigm of ‘riches for the strongest’, and simply choose, willingly and knowingly, to become gatekeepers (who identify the powerful, align with them and make trouble for the enemies, or perceived enemies, of the powerful). Those who are not, for whatever reasons, in possession of any sort of functioning moral compass, will, in this dark, violent world, too easily go along to get along – not with the victims of neoliberal capitalism and its compliment, neoconservatism, but with the bullies who, because they are not principled, but lawless, have come to dominate in this world. Those bullies have positions of authority and power. If you’re unprincipled, in this world, you really don’t have to think much about deciding to become a gatekeeper. Note, Some gatekeepers are appointed. Some are self-appointed and more aware of their role as gatekeepers who serve as a buffer between the abused people and their abusive leaders and their tools. Self-appointed gatekeepers can be anyone, rich or poor, smart or dumb. And their trouble-making in regard to relations with those who disagree with the powerful can be of any intensity. It can be serious or mild.

A final point: Those who know better, who sell their souls for possible, temporary gain, have embraced darkness. And darkness is its own reward. They may have started off on the path of darkness clever enough, but that won’t be their end. It can’t possibly be. You can’t disconnect from reality – which is what lying, intentionally, means – and not eventually end up dumb as a post. But when the self-modified, who were smart and who knew better to begin with, become, via their embrace of darkness, dumb as posts – and Jonathan does a good job of demonstrating what that means – Will their ignorance and failure to grasp facts and reality absolve them? Why should it? They are free to plead their case with God, but I don’t think that will make any difference to their fate. In fact, Jesus spoke prophetically about our time and the way that those who profess to be Christian will plead with him for understanding and acceptance even while happily engaging in trouble-making, telling them: “Get away from me you workers of lawlessness, for I do not know you.” (Matthew 7:22,23)

When you pull the plug on a fan, it still spins. It just spins slower and slower until it stops. When you disconnect from the Source of life and light…

“Once again, the UN has failed to name firms that profit from Israel’s illegal settlements” by Jonathan Cook (Jonathan Cook)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The United Nations postponed last week for the third time the publication of a blacklist of Israeli and international firms that profit directly from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

The international body had come under enormous pressure to keep the database under wraps after lobbying behind the scenes from Israel, the United States and many of the 200-plus companies that were about to be named.

UN officials have suggested they may go public with the list in a few months.

But with no progress since the UN’s Human Rights Council requested the database back in early 2016, Palestinian leaders are increasingly fearful that it has been permanently shelved.

That was exactly what Israel hoped for. When efforts were first made to publish the list in 2017, Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, warned: “We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day.”

He added that penalising the settlements was “an expression of modern antisemitism”…

Sadly, the UN leadership’s cowardice on what should be a straightforward matter – the settlements violate international law, and firms should not assist in such criminal enterprises – is part of a pattern.

Repeatedly, Israel has exerted great pressure on the UN to keep its army off a “shame list” of serious violators of children’s rights. Israel even avoided a listing in 2015 following its 50-day attack on Gaza the previous year, which left more than 500 Palestinian children dead. Dozens of armies and militias are named each year…

Not only does Israel continue to enjoy generous financial, military and diplomatic support from the US and Europe, both are working ever harder to silence criticisms of its actions by their own citizens.

As the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement grows larger, western capitals have casually thrown aside commitments to free speech in a bid to crush it.

France has already criminalised support for a boycott of Israel, and its president Emmanuel Macron recently proposed making it illegal to criticise Zionism, the ideology that underpins Israel’s rule over Palestinians.

“Blood Money: Meet the Top 20 Companies Profiting From Endless War” by Elias Marat (The Mind Unleashed)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Military spending is growing around the world and in 2017 it increased by 1.1 percent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

U.S. arms expenditures rose by $9.6 billion, driving the global rise and further consolidating the status of the United States as the world’s top spender on the military–by far.

The U.S. spending on war is rooted in post-World War II “new Pentagon capitalism” that eventually became known as the military-industrial complex.

The model, revolutionized by then-Army Chief of Staff and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ensured that the United States’ scientific research, technological and industrial capacity would become “organic parts of our military structure” in conditions of national emergency, effectively giving the civilian economy a dual-use purpose. The model eventually gave birth to the sprawling military-civilian economic base, or “military-industrial complex,” that Eisenhower famously criticized in his 1961 farewell address to the nation.

Civilian industry, science, and academia were used alongside an exorbitant and perpetually-expanding war budget to underwrite the Defense Department’s never-ending state of conflict with Cold War enemies, making the world safe for the unchallenged reign of the United States while “pump-priming” the U.S. economy whenever additional surges of “military Keynesian” spending by Washington was required.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to the press near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which connects Colombia with Venezuela, in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. As part of U.S. humanitarian aid to Venezuela, Rubio is visiting the area where the medical supplies, medicine and food aid is stored before it it expected to be taken across the border on Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

“Senator Marco Rubio: US Must Initiate Widespread Unrest in Venezuela” by ? (ZeroHedge via Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

==== === == =
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Thursday, Republican chairman Marco Rubio condemned Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as a “clear danger” and a “threat to the national security of the U.S.” As was to be expected, the hearing was filled with plenty of threats and talk of flipping “military elites” and enforcing tougher sanctions.

But perhaps unexpected was just how out in the open and brazen Rubio’s own admissions of how far he’s willing to go in promoting regime change in Caracas. In public testimony, he called on the U.S. to promote “widespread unrest” in order to eventually bring down the Maduro government.

It appears Rubio is now urging the White House to initiate a full-on “Syria option” for Venezuela, which implies covert arming, funding, and militarization of the opposition to reach peak escalation and confrontation with the government, perhaps inviting broader external military intervention, similar to efforts to topple Syria’s Assad over the past years…

Though Maduro has survived the latest round of international pressure to succumb to internal coup efforts led by a U.S.-supported opposition, the fires of unrest Venezuela don’t look to be extinguishable anytime soon.

As Ben Norton also pointed out on Thursday while speaking of using “humanitarian aid” as a pretext for regime change: “They’re not even hiding it at this point.”
= == === ====

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno exchange looks during the delivery of a final statement at the government palace in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

“With Ecuador’s Cooperation Bought by IMF Loans, Washington Waxes Optimistic on Assange Extradition” by Whitney Webb (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning’s fight against her subpoena in the U.S. Department of Justice’s grand-jury case targeting WikiLeaks founder and former publisher Julian Assange this past week has revealed several uncomfortable truths, not only about that investigation but also about the fate of Assange, whose asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy hangs precariously in the balance.

While reporting on the probe has largely focused on the nature of the still-sealed DOJ case, most reports have largely missed the fact that the marked increase in activity relating to the probe is directly related to the fact that Ecuador has, by all indications, agreed to rescind Assange’s asylum so that he may be extradited to the United States. As a consequence, the U.S. is moving forward with its case against Assange and WikiLeaks — which began nearly a decade ago in 2010 — now that it has received assurances that Assange’s extradition is a matter of when, not if.

Just days into 2019, the former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who had originally granted Assange asylum in 2012, shared via Twitter a document showing that Ecuador’s current government, led by Lenín Moreno, was “auditing” Assange’s asylum as well as Assange’s Ecuadorian citizenship, which he had been granted in late 2017…

WikiLeaks subsequently shared Correa’s tweet and noted that this seemingly unusual reevaluation of Assange’s asylum was directly related to the Moreno administration’s efforts to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a total of $10 billion. Per WikiLeaks, some of the conditions set for Ecuador’s receipt of the IMF loan included U.S. government demands of “handing over Assange and dropping environmental claims against Chevron” for the oil giant’s role in polluting Ecuador’s rainforest and poisoning many of its indigenous inhabitants…

For those who would argue that the U.S. could not set such conditions on a loan offered by an “independent” international financial institution, it is worth pointing out that the U.S. is the IMF’s largest shareholder — owning 17.46 percent of the institution – and also ponies up the largest quota for the institution’s maintenance, paying $164 billion in IMF financial commitments annually. In the past, the U.S. has used its privileged position as the institution’s largest funder to control IMF policy by threatening to withhold its IMF funding if the institution does not abide by Washington’s demands.

Furthermore, a leaked U.S. Army manual on “Unconventional Warfare” published by WikiLeaks in 2008 noted that the IMF was considered by the U.S. government to be a “financial weapon” to be used in “unconventional warfare” scenarios.

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