Chile is experiencing the largest and most serious political crisis and public unrest throughout Santiago and the country’s major cities since the return to ‘democracy’ in 1990. A week long of fire, tear-gas and police brutality left at least 20 people dead, thousands arrested and injured. More than 1.2 million people protested on Friday 25 October in the Streets of Chile’s capital, Santiago, not just against the 4% hike in metro-fares. That was the drop that brought the glass to overflow. Years, decades of neoliberal policies, brought hardship, poverty and inequality to Chileans. Chile is the country with the world’s third largest inequality in wealth, with a Gini coefficient of close to 0.50 (zero = everybody has the same, 1.0 = one person possesses everything).
Important for Chileans to understand is not to believe President Sebastian Piñera’s smooth talk and compromising words. Whatever he says and apparently does in terms of backtracking from his neoliberal policies is sheer deviation propaganda. Many of these policies he already initiated during his first term (2010 – 2014). They were kept alive by Madame Michelle Bachelet (2014 – 2018) under pressure from the Chilean financial system which remains closely linked (and funded) by Wall Street, and, of course, by her IMF advisers. Continuing Piñera’s job, she helped further dollarizing Chile to the tune of 70%, meaning that Chilean banks finance themselves on the US dollar markets, mostly in New York and London, rather than on the local peso market.
A healthy economy finances itself largely from nationally earned and accumulated capital. But more often than not, national oligarchs who possess this capital earned locally invest it outside their countries, as they trust more in foreign markets than in their own country. This is classic in many developing countries and particularly in Latin America, where the elite still – or again, after a brief democratic center-left respite in the 1990s and early 2000 – looks for success and capital gains to the northern masters in Washington.
Madame Bachelet was effectively bought by the system – a former socialist, having seen her father suffer under the Pinochet regime – she has become a sad turncoat. She demonstrated her ‘conversion’ by her recent report on Venezuela’s Human Rights – which was a travesty of the truth – a sham, full of lies and omissions. Another one who sold out and became chief of a UN Office – the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Commission. How did that happen? Who pulls the strings behind the scenes for such appointments?
Since 2018, it’s again President Piñera, who is hell bent to complete his neoliberal project. Sebastian Piñera is one of the richest people in Latin America with a net worth of close to 3 billion dollars. How could he even remotely imagine what it is, having to take the subway every day to go to work, depending on pensions which are gradually reduced under his austerity programs, having to pay school tuition for a public service which is free in most countries and being subject to privatized health services, let alone steadily depressed salaries and rising unemployment. Mr. Piñera has no clue.
Only 24 hours before the mass-protests started about a week ago throughout Chile, Piñera prided himself in public of leading the politically and economically most stable and secure country, the world’s largest copper producer, where foreign investors were keen to place their money, a “paradise island”, he called Chile, adding the country was a model for all of Latin America.
Did he really not sense what was happening? How his austerity measures – plus privatizing everything – was hurting and infuriating his compatriots to the point of no return? Or did he simply ignore it, thinking it may go away, people will continue swallowing economic tightening as they have done before? Whatever – it is amazing!
As Piñera’s popularity has slumped to an all-time low of 14%, and protests erupted every day to a higher level, he started using people-friendly language and tone, promising increasing minimum wages, pensions and unemployment benefits. In a move to court the working class, on Monday 28 October he reshuffled his cabinet, replacing 8 of his Ministers with more “people-friendly” officials – but from all appearance it’s too little too late.
He addressed the people in a televised speech from the Presidential Palace, La Moneda, saying, “Chile has changed, and the government must change with it to confront these new challenges”. Nobody seemed to take these empty words seriously, as the masses assembled in front of La Moneda asking for Piñera’s resignation. The UN is sending a team to investigate Human Rights abuses by police and military. While Argentinians waited for regular general elections (27 October 2019) to oust their western-imposed neoliberal lynch pin, president Macri, it is not likely that Chileans will have the patience to wait until 2022.
Ever increasing inequality and skyrocketing cost of living reached a point of anger that can hardly be appeased with Piñera’s apparent promises for change. For at least 80% of the people these conciliatory words are not enough. They don’t believe in a system led by a neoliberal multi-billionaire who has no idea on how common people have to make a living. They don’t believe in change from this government. It is highly possible, they won’t let go until Piñera is gone. They see what was happening in neighboring Argentina and don’t want to face the same fate.
Let’s just look at a bit of history. Going way back to the War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War confronting Chile with the Bolivian-Peruvian alliance, Chile counted with strong support from the UK – supplying war ships, weaponry and military advice. The war lasted from 1879 to 1884 and centered on Chilean claims of Bolivian’s coastal territories, part of the Atacama Desert, rich in saltpeter, coveted by the Brits. Thanks to the British military and logistics support, Chile won the war and Bolivia lost her access to the Pacific, making her a landlocked country. The Government of Evo Morales today is still fighting for Pacific Sea access in The Hague. Peru lost also part of her resources-rich coast line, Arica and Tarapacá.
Fast forward to 11 September 1973, The Chilean 9/11, instigated by the West, again. To be precise by Washington. In the driver’s seat of this fatal coup that changed Chile as of this day – and counting – if Piñera is not stopped was Henry Kissinger. At the time leading up to the CIA instigated coup, and during the coup, Kissinger was US National Security Advisor (the role John Bolton occupied under Trump, until recently). Kissinger was sworn in a Secretary of State 11 days after the coup – 22 September 1973; a decent reward for whom is today the biggest war criminal still alive.
The murderous coup, followed by almost 20 years of brutal military rule by Augusto Pinochet (1973 to 1990), with torture, killings, human rights abuses left and right, was accompanied by an atrocious economic regime imposed by Washington, hired, so-called “Chicago Boys” ruining the country, privatizing social services, national infrastructures and natural resources except for Chile’s and the world’s largest copper mine, CODELCO which was not privatized during the Pinochet years. The military would not allow it for reasons of “national security”.
The large majority of the population was put under constant surveillance and threat of punishment / abuse if they would protest and not “behave” as Pinochet ordered. Pinochet, along with the western directed financial sector, turned Chile into a largely impoverished, complacent population.
The British empire, at the time from London, later from Washington acting as the American empire, was always influential in Chile, expanding its influence and exploitation mechanism to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. But then, in the late 1990s and early 2000, Latin America stood up, democratically electing her own leaders, most of them left / center-left, a thorn in the eye of Washington.
How could American’s “Backyard” become independent? Impossible. Hence the renewal of the Monroe Doctrine, which emanated from President James Monroe (1817-1825), forbidding Europeans to interfere in any American territory. The Monroe principle has now been expanded to not allowing any foreign nation to even do business with Latin America, let alone forming political alliances.
While within a few years in the early 2000s, most of Latin America has been converted into puppets of the United States, Venezuela and Cuba stand tall. They are the corner stones, not to fall. They will be the pillars from where a new sovereign Latin America will rise. The Monroe Doctrine will not hold for a falling US empire – while peace seeking Russia and China are closely associating, commercially as well as militarily, with South America – in rebuilding and defending of their sovereignty.
In addition, people living under neoliberal regimes, under western financial and IMF-imposed killer austerity programs, are waking up, demonstrating and protesting in Ecuador and Argentina – where they just in democratic elections disposed of the US-imposed neoliberal despot, President Mauricio Macri. Now, Chile’s population is angry. Their patience is collapsing, their fear is gone. They want justice. They want to choose freely their leader – and it is not Sebastian Piñera.
Chileans’ fury is not just directed at Piñera’s latest distasteful economic and financial austerity measures. They – the Chileans – still suffer from measures dating back to the Pinochet era, the era of the western Chicago Boys, measures that have never been changed, not even under the so-called socialist Madame Bachelet.
The Pinochet Constitution of 1980, under pressure from Chicago-educated advisors, the IMF and the dollar-based banking system, imposed a culture of economic neoliberalism and ideological conservatism. These key parameters, remnants from that epoch, are still valid as of this day:
Education: Chile has the most privatized and segregated education system of the 65 countries that use the OECD student evaluation standard, PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). In Chile higher education (university level) is not a right. In 1981 Pinochet has privatized most of the higher education institutions giving access mainly to students from privileged families.
Health: In 1979 Pinochet created the Preventive Health Institutions, administered by private financial institutions, providing services that most Chileans cannot afford; i.e. the Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASE), replacing the former publicly financed health system.
Public Transportation: Chile has one of the most expensive public transport systems in all of Latin America. It’s run by private for-profit concessionaries. In Chile a metro ride costs the equivalent of US$ 1.13, in Brazil US$ 0.99, in Colombia US$ 0.67, in Argentina US$ 0.43. Mr. Piñera’s recent 4% tariff increase was just the trigger for a much larger discontent.
Abortion: Since 1939 voluntary and secure abortion was possible in Chile. In 1989 Pinochet made abortion under whatever circumstances a criminal delict.
Pensions: In 1980 Pinochet abandoned the old public system based on solidarity among pensioned adults and handed the accumulated funds to newly created and privately run AFPs (Administrations of Pension Funds), groups of private administrators of funds accumulated entirely by workers (no contributions by employers).
“Carabineros” – Chilean Police Officers: Under Pinochet, Carabineros have been given powers with military characteristics. They have constantly and with impunity violated human rights. For years civil society groups have requested successive governments – and ultimately again the Piñera Government to change their regime to police officers, respecting human dignity and human rights. So far to no avail, as demonstrated by police interference in the most recent protests.
These Pinochet leftovers will no longer be accepted and tolerated by Chileans. Chile’s population, and in particular, the more than 1.2 million protesting in Santiago last Friday, are requesting nothing less than Piñera’s resignation and a people’s elected Constitutional Assembly to build a new country with less, much less inequality, more social justice, and, especially without any remaining “Pinochetismo”, which today is still very present under Sebastian Piñera, who sent the military to control the mass demonstrations in Santiago and other large cities. Chileans are clearly saying these days are over. We want our country back. We reclaim our national political and economic sovereignty. No more western interference.
To appreciate the lies and corruption that are the foundation of the conspiracy to destroy the Presidency of Donald Trump by the FBI, the CIA and the DNI, one need only look at how Robert Mueller lied about FBI informants who were targeting the Trump team.
Let us look specifically at Felix Sater. Felix Sater has been a fully signed up Confidential Human Source for the FBI since 1998. His original plea deal was signed off on by Mueller’s deputy, Andrew Weismann. But you would not know any of this if you relied solely on the Mueller Report.
Here is how Mueller portrays Sater:
In approximately September 2015, Felix Sater, a New York based real estate advisor, contacted Michael Cohen, then-executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald J. Trump. Sater had previously worked with the Trump Organization and advised it on a number of domestic and international projects. Sater had explored the possibility of a Trump Tower project in Moscow while working with the Trump Organization and therefore knew of the organization's general interest in completing a deal there.This is fundamentally dishonest. Sater was more than a mere “real estate advisor” who had previously worked with Trump. He was and is a fully signed up FBI Confidential Human Source. Not my opinion. It is a fact.
An excellent article by Newsweek reporter Bill Powell, Donald Trump Associate Felix Sater Is Linked to the Mob and the CIA—What’s His Role in the Russia Investigation?, provides an excellent review of Sater’s history and involvement with the FBI. One of the surprising revelations from Powell is that Felix Sater was a childhood friend of Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer. Let that sink in for a moment. The FBI informant, Felix Sater, was a long time friend of Cohen.
Sater was playing a role scripted by the FBI and deliberately designed to feed the meme that Trump was dealing with the Russians.
The covert op to paint Trump as a Russian stooge was not left to Sater alone. Christopher Steele, a British spy who was hired by Fusion GPS, conveniently produced a report insisting that the Russians were working overtime to get Trump in bed with them on "lucrative real estate deals." The Steele report dated 20 June 2016 makes the following claims:
Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years. . . .Pay attention. Who offered Trump the deal in Moscow? FELIX SATER. Was he a Russian agent? No. He was the FBI’s Joe.
In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years (see more below). . . .
The Kremlin's cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. How ever, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.
If the Steele Dossier was true, Trump should have had multiple offers for projects on in Russia, especially Moscow. Steele claims Putin's people were feeding Trump information and opportunity. So where is the evidence of such activity? There is none. Just Felix Sater, FBI snitch.
Robert Mueller tried in vain to advance the lie that Trump was doing deals in Moscow. His report states:
In the late summer of 2015, the Trump Organization received a new inquiry about pursuing a Trump Tower project in Moscow. In approximately September 2015, Felix Sater . . . contacted Cohen (i.e., Michael Cohen) on behalf of I.C. Expert Investment Company (I.C. Expert), a Russian real-estate development corporation controlled by Andrei Vladimirovich Rozov. Sater had known Rozov since approximately 2007 and, in 2014, had served as an agent on behalf of Rozov during Rozov's purchase of a building in New York City. Sater later contacted Rozov and proposed that I.C. Expert pursue a Trump Tower Moscow project in which I.C. Expert would license the name and brand from the Trump Organization but construct the building on its own. Sater worked on the deal with Rozov and another employee of I.C. Expert. (see page 69 of the Mueller Report).Who was pushing the project in Moscow? FELIX SATER. Not Michael Cohen and certainly not Donald Trump. Sater was the instigator. At no time did he testify that he was directed by Trump or anyone else in the Trump organization to reachout to the Russians. And don’t forget what Christopher Steele claimed—the Russians were in a frenzy supposedly to offer Trump lucrative deals. That was and is a monumental lie.
Sater was and is an FBI informant. Sater was not just a private entrepreneur looking to make some coin. We know without a doubt that Sater was a fully signed up FBI informant. Sater's status as an FBI snitch was first exposed in 2012 (you can read the letter confirming Sater's status as an FBI snitch here). Another inconvenient fact excluded from the Mueller report is that one of Mueller's Chief Prosecutors, Andrew Weissman, signed the deal with Felix Sater in December 1998 that put Sater into the FBI Informant business. Sater was used multiple times in the next decade by the FBI to make cases against Russian spies and mobsters.
How could Robert Mueller neglect to mention this critical fact? This was not the oversight of a senile old man. It was deliberate obfuscation.
The question that prosecutor Robert Durham needs to ask is who directed Sater to pitch the Trump team in September 2015 to pursue a deal in Moscow? The answer probably lies in Sater’s FD-1023s. A 1023 is a report that an FBI agent must file every time he meets with a Confidential Human Source. This was an orchestrated attempt to set up Donald Trump as a Russian stooge. But it did not start in July 2016 as the FBI falsely claims. It started in September 2015. Who authorized this?
Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis.
The prepared statement of the latest UkraineGate whistle-blower is well worth the read. It tells you all you need to know about why the Deep State apparatchiks are coming out of the woodwork in a massive assault on America’s duly elected president.
They are deathly afraid Trump will begin to dismantle a far-flung Empire which has
Whether out of common sense, naiveté or just contrariness, the Donald has dared to question and disrupt the Empire’s core policy on the Ukraine/Russia file. And that’s apparently exactly why the whistleblower de jour, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, wrote his now ballyhooed memos.
He feared that Trump’s appropriate desire to get to the bottom of the well-documented Ukrainian involvement in the Obama Administration’s illegal spying on his 2016 presidential campaign would undermine the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for Washington’s utterly wrong-headed Ukraine policy.
Stated more crudely, Washington overthrew the duly elected government of Ukraine in early 2014 because its leader was deemed too cozy with Moscow. And in the vanguard of that illegal meddling in the governance of a sovereign foreign state was Obama’s state department led by neocon Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, Washington’s self-appointed roving proconsul John McCain and at length Vice-President Joe Biden.
After aiding a motley phalanx of ultra-nationalists, crypto-Nazi and political fortune seekers in overthrowing President Viktor Yanukovych, Washington has stood-up what are essentially puppet governments. The purpose has been to cause maximum abrasion with Putin and Russia; and at a cost of billions in aid from the US and other western agencies designed to prop up the economic basket case and cease pool of corruption which passes for the Ukrainian economy.
The Deep State narrative turns these realities on their head, of course, claiming that the mess in Ukraine is all the doing of the demonic Vladimir Putin. Accordingly, the very safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Springfield MA is allegedly on the line in a territory on Russia’s doorstep, which has historically been a meandering set of borders in search of a country when it was not otherwise a willing vassal and economic adjunct of Mother Russia.
As it happens, Lt. Colonel Vindman is a vociferous partisan of Washington’s Big Lie about the Russian ogre, and was virtually a fifth column operative in the viper’s nest of neocons at the Donald’s national security council. In fact, Vindman reported to Russophobe Fiona Hill, who reported to the Walrus of Forever War himself, John Bolton.
So despite all the Democrats’ crocodile tears for the constitution and rule of law, Vindman’s beef wasn’t really about their whole abuse of power canard. Nor did it touch upon the risible Dem/MSM nonsense that in asking a foreign government to undertake a legitimate action (an investigation of the corrupt use of taxpayers money by the former Vice President) Trump was committing a violation of US election laws.
To the contrary, the gravamen of the colonel’s concern was domestic politics and the possibility that in withholding the $380 million of pending Ukrainian aid (which should have been zero in the first place) and pressing the Biden investigation, Trump would alienate Capitol Hill Democrats and leave the Deep State’s policy of using the Ukraine as an anti-Putin battering ram high and dry.
…. I was worried about the implications for the US government’s support of Ukraine…. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.Folks, Lt. Col. Vindman was not elected to nothin’. If he’s a proud 20-year veteran of the US Army and diplomatic service as he claims, fine.
This would all undermine US national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.
But his job is to implement policy as decided by the elected representatives of the people, not to free lance in the cause of the Empire group-think in which he is obviously and hopelessly steeped.
So let’s cut to the chase: The policy he feared the Donald might be jeopardizing by his pressure tactics with President Zelensky has been a travesty from start to finish. The Ukraine has no bearing on America’s homeland security whatsoever, and the policies of its government vis-à-vis Russia or any of its other neighbors are none of Washington’s cotton picking business.
You can’t be more emphatic about the utter irrelevancy of Ukraine to America’s homeland security. Even at the pre-coup peak in 2013 it had a minuscule GDP of $185 billion, which has since plunged by 30% to $130 billion. Even if Putin were foolish enough to annex the approximate 30 million Russian-hating Ukrainians outside of the Russian-speaking eastern Donbas region, which he surely is not, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in the strategic equation.
Ukraine amounts to just 8% of Russia’s pint-sized GDP and is actually worthless to the Kremlin. That’s because the cost of occupation and pacification of the non-Russian speaking majority of the country would vastly outweigh whatever industrial and material output it might steal from the Ukrainians.
Besides, what in the hell is wrong with Washington when it gets all hot and bothered about a no-count territory plagued with economic failure and which generates annually about two days worth of US output?
Moreover, even if you have warm and fuzzy regard for the rights and liberties of the Ukrainian “nation”, which has existed only infrequently as an independent state with wildly variant borders during the last 800 years, the question remains. Namely, how in the world can it be argued that its people were not better off in 2013 under an elected government of the Regions party that tilted toward Russia compared to the economic calamity which exits today and is only saved from complete collapse by US and European subventions?
So here’s where the Deep State’s hegemonic “sole superpower” world view comes in. Washington’s Ukraine policy has nothing to do with homeland security or prevention of military attack on American shores.
Instead, it is based on policing the world and demonizing the rump-state of Russia which emerged after the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history in 1991. What was left was a decimated economy with half the former population and a current day GDP of $1.6 trillion, which is actually less than the GDP of the New York metro area.
Still, the Warfare State needs palpable “enemies” and adversaries – no matter how tendentious the case – to justify its massive fiscal drain ($1.1 trillion counting everything) on US taxpayers, both current and unborn; and it also needs expansive missions like spreading the blessings of democracy, prosperity and western culture to the far corners of the earth.
And that’s not our hyperbole in the slightest; it’s essentially the content of Vindman’s whistleblower testimony to Shifty Schiff’s Star Chamber proceedings today.
Thus, when it comes to the blatant lie that Russia is an expansionist power, Vindman’s purple prose would make even the late warmongering Senator from Arizona proud:
Since 2008, Russia has manifested an overtly aggressive foreign policy, leveraging military power and employing hybrid warfare to achieve its objectives of regional hegemony and global influence. Absent a deterrent to dissuade Russia from such aggression, there is an increased risk of further confrontations with the West. In this situation, a strong and independent Ukraine is critical to US national security interests because Ukraine is a frontline state and a bulwark against Russian aggression.Wow! That’s just bellicose rubbish. A “frontline state and bulwark”my eye.
In fact, during the years since 1991 when Washington has invaded and virtually destroyed upwards of a dozen sovereign countries, Russia hasn’t invaded anyone!
But the reference to 2008 does tell you exactly where Vindman is coming from. He’s obviously referring to Russia’s thwarting of Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in August 2008.
That incident has been spun by the Deep State ever since as Russian aggression when it was just the opposite.
To wit, it was an aggressive military invasion by Georgia designed to reclaim the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. The real culprit was its mercurial leader and Washington tool, Mikheil Saakashvili, who had been egged on by Senator McCain and the usual cast of neocons with the promise of Washington military help, which fortunately did not happen.
But a subsequent 1,000 page report by an independent EU fact-finding mission led by a renown Swiss diplomat makes clear that the Georgian accusations of Russian aggression were completely fabricated.
'It was Georgia which triggered off the war when it attacked (South Ossetian capital) Tskhinvali' said Heidi Tagliavini, the mission head, in a statement. Although the EU commission tactfully avoided using the word 'lie,' the report implies that Saakashvili did not tell the truth about how the war started.The same is true of the so-called annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s support for the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine.
As to the former, the population of Crimea is overwhelmingly Russian, and for 171-years from 1783 to 1954 it was an integral province of Czarist Russia. It got arbitrarily assigned to the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic by Khrushchev after he won the post-Stalin power struggle in 1954 as a reward to his compatriots in Kiev – even though less than 15% of the population was Ukrainian.
After the US funded, supported and instantly recognized coup in Kiev in February 2014 and the immediate passage of virulent anti-Russian legislation by the putsch, the Russian-speaking population of Crimea voted overwhelmingly (87%) to return to Mother Russia. The so-called coercive annexation by Russia is a figment of War Party propaganda, and implies a willingness to use American money and arms to enforce the dead hand of the Soviet Presidium.
And the same story goes for the Donbas. The largely Russian speaking population of this industrial region, which is highly integrated with the Russian economy, wants to be separated from the Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev who have launched a vicious war to subdue them.
But if the Donbas were to be partitioned or even if it voted to join the Russian Federation, so what?
The honest truth of the matter is that Europe is flush with partitioned states. These include Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as the manifold offspring of Yugoslavia including North Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia, which, at the insistence of Washington, got further carved up by the partition of Kosovo.
That is to say, once Washington upended the tenuous political/ethnic balance of post-Soviet Ukraine by supporting the nationalist coup, there was still no reason that the Yugoslav model of partition could not have settled the matter.
In fact, the 5-year war on the Donbas – which has killed upwards of 20,000 and brought economic and fiscal ruin to both the region and Ukraine as a whole – wouldn’t have lasted more than a few weeks without the promise of western economic and military aid and political support.
The needless tragedy there is not the fruit of Russian aggression. It’s the consequence of Washington meddling, including all the corruption which has flowered after Ukraine was turned into a Washington vassal and found it necessary to hire Washington lobbyists and racketeers like Hunter Biden and Devon Archer (then Secretary of State John Kerry’s former campaign bundler) to keep the cash flowing.
Needless to say, the Deep State slathers this toxic reality in a narrative that is pure hogwash. And Colonel Vindman has it down pat: Namely, under the tutelage, money and political and military cover of the Washington Imperium, Ukraine is to be brought into the “Euro-Atlantic community” as a splendid new democracy.
The bolded term, of course, is an undisguised euphemism for NATO:
In spite of being under assault from Russia for more than five years, Ukraine has taken major steps towards integrating with the West. The US government policy community’s view is that the election of President Volodymyr Zelensky and the promise of reforms to eliminate corruption will lock in Ukraine’s Western-leaning trajectory, and allow Ukraine to realize its dream of a vibrant democracy and economic prosperity.Here’s the thing. The expansion of NATO to the very doorstep of Russia was the most colossal mistake of the post-cold war period. And the War Party’s insistence that this should to taken all the way to the incorporation of Ukraine and Georgia – historic vassals of Russia – actually trespasses upon the very border of insanity.
The United States and Ukraine are and must remain strategic partners, working together to realize the shared vision of a stable, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine that is integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community.
Indeed, the father of containment and the intellectual architect of NATO in the late 1940s, the great George F. Kennan, hit the nail on the head when lightweight Clintonistas like Strobe Talbot and Madeleine Albright launched the NATO expansion process in the 1990s:
”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”He couldn’t have been more right about the substance of what would happen. But little did even Kennan realize that once in motion any even tepid effort to question or stop it – per the Donald’s campaign rhetoric about the obsolescence of NATO – would actually provoke a Deep State assault on American democracy itself.
”What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,” added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ”X,” defined America’s cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ”I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.
”And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia,” said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was US Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ”It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”
So there’s your Deep State at work. It isn’t some kind of sinister conspiracy lurking deep in the shadows of the national security machinery.
To the contrary, it’s right there in the broad daylight of the Imperial City. It is populated by hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers like Colonel Vindman who make a career of drinking the Cool Aid, collecting a pay check from the state and propagating the policies of Empire First – policies which are immoral, illegal, unaffordable and have absolutely nothing to do with protecting America’s liberty, prosperity and security inside the great ocean moats, which once upon a time birthed a peace-loving Republic.
We have no illusions, of course, that the Donald is a peace-lover. He’s self-evidently first and foremost a Donald-lover.
Still, what is underway in Washington – first with the RussiaGate hoax and now with UkraineGate and impeachment – is an extra-constitutional political lynching, and one that has turned Washington’s desperate, mendacious Dem pols into complaisant handmaids of the Deep State.
So Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman isn’t some kind of whistle-blowing hero. He’s just another mindless cog in the wheel of Empire talking his own book and thereby abetting the political mob that is now threatening the very constitution he was sworn to uphold.
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.
The hideous treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues and many observers are citing his case as being symptomatic of developing “police state” tendencies in both the United States and in Europe, where rule of law is being subordinated to political expediency.
Julian Assange was the founder and editor-in-chief of the controversial news and information site WikiLeaks. As the name implies, after 2006 the site became famous, or perhaps notorious, for its publication of materials that have been leaked to it by government officials and other sources who consider the information to be of value to the public but unlikely to be accepted by the mainstream media, which has become increasingly corporatized and timid.
WikiLeaks became known to a global audience back in 2010 when it obtained from US Army enlisted soldier Bradley Manning a large quantity of classified documents relating to the various wars that the United States was fighting in Asia. Some of the material included what might be regarded as war crimes.
WikiLeaks again became front page news over the 2016 presidential election, when the website released the emails of candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta. The emails revealed how Clinton and her team collaborated with the Democratic National Committee to ensure that she would be nominated rather that Bernie Sanders. It should be noted that the material released by WikiLeaks was largely documentary and factual in nature, i.e. it was not “fake news.”
Because he is a journalist ostensibly protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, the handling of the “threat” posed by journalist Assange is inevitably somewhat different than a leak by a government official, referred to as a whistleblower. Assange has been vilified as an “enemy of the state,” likely even a Russian agent, and was initially pursued by the Swedish authorities after claims of a rape, later withdrawn, were made against him. To avoid arrest, he was given asylum by a friendly Ecuadorean government seven years ago in London. The British police had an active warrant to arrest him immediately as he had failed to make a bail hearing after he obtained asylum, which is indeed what took place when Quito revoked his protected status in April.
As it turned out, Julian Assange was not exactly alone when he was in the Ecuadorean Embassy. All of his communications, including with his lawyers, were being intercepted by a Spanish security company hired for the purpose allegedly by the CIA. There apparently was also a CIA plan to kidnap Assange. In a normal court in a normal country, the government case would have been thrown out on constitutional and legal grounds, but that was not so in this instance. The United States has persisted in its demands to obtain the extradition of Assange from Britain and London seems to be more than willing to play along. Assange is undeniably hated by the American political Establishment and even much of the media in bipartisan fashion, with the Democrats blaming him for Hillary Clinton’s loss while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has labeled him a “fraud, a coward and an enemy.” WikiLeaks itself is regarded by the White House as a “hostile non-government intelligence service.” Sending Julian Assange to prison for the rest of his life may be called justice, but it is really revenge against someone who has exposed government lies. Some American politicians have even asserted that jail is too good for Assange, insisting that he should instead be executed.
The actual charges laid out in the US indictment are for alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to publish the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and the US State Department cables. On May 23rd, the United States government further charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917, which criminalizes any exposure of classified US government information anywhere in the world by anyone. Its use would create a precedent: any investigative journalist who exposes US government malfeasance could be similarly charged.
Assange is currently incarcerated in solitary confinement at high-security Belmarsh prison. It is possible that the Justice Department, after it obtains Assange through extradition, will attempt to make the case that Assange actively colluded with the Russian government, a conspiracy to “defraud the United States” to put it in legalese. Assange is unlikely to receive anything approaching a fair trial no matter what the charges are.
Assange’s prison term ended on September 22nd, but an earlier procedural hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court had already decided that a full hearing on extradition to the US would not begin until February 25th, 2020. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange would not be released even though the prison term had ended, because he was a flight risk. His status in the prison system was duly changed from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition and his final hearing would be at the high security Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court rather than in a normal civil court. Belmarsh is where terrorists are routinely tried and the proceedings there permit only minimal public and media scrutiny.
Most recently, on October 21st, 2019, Assange was again in Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a “case management hearing” regarding his possible extradition to the US Judge Baraitser denied a defense team request for a three-month delay so that they could gather evidence in light of the fact that Assange had been denied access to his own papers and documents in order to prepare his defense. British government prosecutor James Lewis QC and the five US “representatives” present opposed any delay in the extradition proceedings and were supported by Judge Baraitser, denying any delay in the proceedings.
Another procedural hearing will take place on December 19th followed by the full extradition hearing in February, at which time Assange will presumably be turned over to US Marshalls for transportation to the Federal prison in Virginia to await trial. That is, of course, assuming that he lives that long as his health has visibly deteriorated and there have been claims that he has been tortured by the British authorities.
Former British Ambassador Craig Murray, who knows Julian Assange well, was present when he appeared in court on the 21st. Murray was shocked by Assange’s appearance, noting that he had lost weight and looked like he had aged considerable. He was walking with a pronounced limp and when the judge asked him questions, to include his name and date of birth, he had trouble responding. Murray described him as a “shambling, incoherent wreck” and also concluded that “one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes.”
The British court was oblivious to Assange’s poor condition, with Judge Baraitser telling the clearly struggling prisoner that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. Objections to what was happening made by both Assange and his lawyers were dismissed by the Crown’s legal representatives, often after discussions with the American officials present, a process described in full by Murray, who, after describing the miscarriage of justice he had just witnessed observed that Julian Assange is being “slowly killed in public sight and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing.” He concluded that “Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?” Indeed.
Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
Tires are burning, smoke is rising towards the sky. It is October, the 18th day of the month, the capital city of Lebanon, in the past known as the “Paris of the East”, is covered in smoke.
For years I was warning that the country governed by corrupt, indifferent elites, could not hold together indefinitely.
For all those five years when I was calling Beirut home, things were going down the drain. Nothing was improving: almost no public transportation, electricity shortages, contaminated and erratic water supply. Periodically, garbage has been piling up along the streets and suburban roads. Once an airplane lands and the doors open, the terrible stench of garbage welcomes us, residents of Beirut, back home.
Almost everyone knew that all this could not continue like this, forever.
The city was suffering from 4th World diseases, while simultaneously being flooded with Land Rover SUVs, Maserati and Porsche sports cars, and Armani suits.
Beirut has almost collapsed to Jakarta levels, although, one has to admit, with extremely smart, highly educated and sophisticated elites, capable of conversing simultaneously in three world languages: French, Arabic and English. Also, with first rate art galleries, art cinemas, posh bars and nightclubs. With lavish marinas and the best bookstores in the entire Middle East.
Some say that Beirut has always been in possession of brain and guts, but something happened to its heart.
Now nothing really works here. But if you have millions of dollars, it does not really matter; you can buy anything here. If you are poor, destitute – abandon all hope. And the majority of the people here are now miserably poor. And no one even knows precisely how many are destitute, as a census is forbidden, in order ‘not to disturb religious balance’ (it was, for years, somehow agreed on, that it is better not to know how many Christians or Muslims are residing in the country).
It is certain that most of people are not rich. And now, outraged by their rulers, corrupt politicians and so-called elites, they are shouting, loudly and clearly: “Enough!”, Halas, down with the regime!”
The government decided to impose a tax on WhatsApp calls. Not a big deal, some would say. But it was; it is, it suddenly became a big deal. “The last drop”, perhaps.
The city exploded. Barricades were erected. Tires were set on fire. Everywhere: in the poorest as well as in the richest neighborhoods.
“Revolution!” people began shouting.
Lebanon has a history of left-wing, even Communist insurgencies. It also has its fair share of religious, right-wing fanaticism. Which one will win? Which one will be decisive during this national rebellion?
The Communist Party is now behind several marches. But Hezbollah, until now the most solid social force in the country, is not yet convinced that the government of Saad al Hariri, should simply resign.
According to Reuters:
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said… that the group was not demanding the government’s resignation amid widespread national protests.
Nasrallah said in a televised speech that he supported the government, but called for a new agenda and “new spirit,” adding that ongoing protests showed the way forward was not new taxes.
Any tax imposed on the poor would push him to call supporters to go take to the streets, Nasrallah added.
So far, the rebellion has left countless people injured, while two Syrian immigrants lost their lives. Some local analysts say that this is the most serious uprising since the one in 2015 (which included the “You Stink!” campaign, reacting to the appalling garbage crises in Beirut and to the worsening social disaster), but others, including this author, are convinced that this is actually the most serious political catastrophe Lebanon has been facing since the 1980’s.
One hears anger, on every corner of the capital, in cafes and local stores:
“Trust is broken!”
Even those who used to be far from any political activities, are now supporting protesters.
Ms. Jehan, a local staff member at a UN office in Beirut, is one of those who found herself on the side of the rebellion:
What is happening to Beirut and all over in Lebanon is good. It is about time we stood up. I will go too. This has nothing to do with religions. It is about our shattered lives.
Reading Western mainstream media, one could begin to believe that Lebanon’s main problems are issues like foreign debt (Lebanon is, on a per capita basis, the third most indebted country on earth. The debt stands at 150% of its GDP), miniscule real reserves (US$ 10 billion), and the way the country interacts with the donors and lenders. IMF and its “advice” are constantly mentioned.
But even news agencies like Reuters have to admit that the entire mess is far from just about structural problems:
As dollars have dried up, banks have effectively stopped lending and can no longer make basic foreign-exchange transactions for clients, one banker said.
“The whole role of banks is to pour money into the central bank to finance the government and protect the currency,” he said. “Nothing is being done on the fiscal deficit because doing something will disrupt the systems of corruption.”
And here is the key word: “Corruption!”
Lebanon’s elites are shamelessly corrupt. Only such countries like Indonesia are able to compete with the Lebanese troglodyte clans when it comes to stripping the entire nation of its riches.
Almost nothing is clean, or pure in Lebanon, and that is also why there aren’t any statistics available.
Money comes from the monstrous and ruthless exploitation of natural resources in West Africa. Everybody knows it, but it is never addressed publicly. I worked in West Africa, and I know what the racist Lebanese ‘business people’ are doing there. But money stolen from the Africans does not enrich Lebanon and its people. It ends up in the Lebanese banks, and spent on lavish yachts, tacky and overpriced European sports cars, and inside bizarre private clubs in and around the capital. While many Lebanese people are near starvation, airplanes flying to Nice, Venice or Greek Islands are constantly packed with la dolce vita seekers.
Lebanon makes billions of dollars from narcotics, particularly those cultivated and refined in the Beqaa Valley. They get exported mainly to Saudi Arabia, for the consumption of the rich, or injected into the battlefields in Yemen and Syria, so-called combat drugs. Again, everyone knows it, but nothing is done to stop it. Hundreds of families, from farmers to politicians, got filthy rich on that trade. This adds a few more super-yachts at the proverbial Beirut marinas.
Then, there is ‘foreign aid’, ‘European investment into infrastructure’, Saudi and Qatari money. Most of it goes, directly, into the pockets of corrupt officials, to the so-called ‘government’, and to its buddies, contractors. Almost nothing is built, but the money is gone. Lebanon has railroad employees who are getting their monthly paychecks, but no railways, anymore. Train station had been converted into vodka bar. Lebanon begs for money so it can host refugees from all over the region, but much of the money ends up in a few deep pockets. Very little goes to the refugees themselves, or to the poor Lebanese people who have to compete for low-paying jobs with the desperate Syrians or Palestinians.
The poor are getting poorer. Yet, Ethiopian, Philippine and Kenyan maids are dragging the groceries of the rich, wiping spit off the faces of babies born into elite families, and cleaning toilets. Some get tortured by their masters, many commit suicide. Lebanon is a tough place, for those who do not look Phoenician or European.
And the slums in the south of Beirut are growing. And some Lebanese cities, like Tripoli in the north, look like tremendous slums, altogether.
Ali, a receptionist at a hotel in downtown Beirut laments:
I work here as a receptionist for 14 hours and earn only 540 USD every month. I need a minimum of 700 USD to survive. I have a sister in US and want to visit her only for a week, but there is no way I can get visa. I am only 24 years old. I see no future in this country, like so many thousand others protesting in the streets of Beirut.
According to various estimates, Lebanon may collapse as early as in February 2020. No more money can be looted. The end game is approaching.
If it does collapse, the rich will have their golden parachutes. They have their families abroad: in Australia, Brazil, France. Some have two passports, others have houses in the most desirable parts of the world.
The poor will be left with absolutely nothing: with a carcass of a country, previously looted by its own elites. There will be rotting, ageing Ferraris, all over, but one cannot eat carcasses of cars. There will be lavish but abandoned swimming pools, right next to polluted and destroyed beaches.
People know it, and they have had enough.
Mohamed, a worker at a Starbucks cafe in Beirut is determined:
This is terrible but it is about time. We can take no more. We need to change the country, drastically. This time things are different. Not about who we worship but about our daily lives.
Lebanon, in comparison to other shamelessly-capitalist countries, is well-educated. People here cannot be fooled.
The rebellion against the elites has just begun. People want to take back their country.
• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
• Photo by Andre Vltchek
Summary: Encouraging elementary school children to honor and glorify the military without a deeper understanding of militarism and war is simply indoctrination.
As we approach Veterans Day in the United States, many schools across the country will engage in some sort of activities or ceremonies to commemorate this holiday and those to whom it is dedicated. On the face of it, there is nothing inherently wrong with honoring people who have made sacrifices to defend their homeland, but the way we do it in the United States is fundamentally wrong and deeply disturbing, especially when young children are implicated in this.
In recent years it appears as though elementary schools across America have held more special events for Veterans Day. As part of these activities, children are encouraged to thank, honor, and even revere veterans. The basic problem with this is how it is framed and communicated to the children. Are they actually being taught what wars are, and why they are fought? Or are they merely told to thank and admire a veteran for their service? In order to have veterans, there had to have been wars. In order to understand the concept of a veteran, one needs to understand the concept of war. A 7-year-old child in elementary school hardly understands what war is. And if they don’t understand what war is, how can they understand what a veteran is, let alone honoring them in a meaningful way? And even if these children were to understand the basic premise of wars and veterans, how likely are they to actually make sense of this, when it seems as though the vast majority of American adults themselves are unable to do so?
Most Americans believe that the military protects their freedoms and fights for their liberties. But what exactly does that mean in context? How are the liberties of average Americans perpetually at stake? Many Americans would point to threats of terrorism or the prospect of foreign interventions in American affairs. But they seem altogether oblivious to the fact that for well over a hundred years, America itself has been and still is the greatest perpetrator of violence, covert operations, and militaristic interventions in the affairs of other countries. Most of the threats to American liberties from abroad, if they do exist at all, are the results of interventionist foreign policies pursued by American political leaders, corporations, and special interest groups.
Out of the many wars America has been involved in over the last century, only a very few can be characterized as defensive wars to protect the American people. And even those wars (e.g. World War II) brought great economic benefits to American corporations, at the expense of millions of lives and livelihoods of peoples both around the world and here at home. Other examples, such as the Iraq wars, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, or World War I, were all wars which the U.S. entered into on its own volition. These wars, and the vast majority of American-led wars and interventions, were waged mainly for corporate profits and under the guise of either anti-communism or anti-terrorism, but not in actual defense of the life and liberty of the average American.
In 1918, legendary American socialist and trade union organizer Eugene V. Debs characterized wars throughout history as having been waged mainly for “conquest and plunder.” Debs argued that America’s capitalist class has always taught and trained the American people “to believe it to be [their] patriotic duty to go to war and to have [themselves] slaughtered at their command,” while the capitalists and industrialists themselves would reap the economic rewards of war. This notion of war as a highly profitable and lucrative endeavor was corroborated most famously by United States Marine Corp Major General Smedley D. Butler in 1935. Butler referred to war as a “racket” of which “only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about,” and which “is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.” Debs and Butler both argued that private profit, not defense of the homeland, is what drives America’s war efforts.
Today, many Americans don’t seem to share this sense of skepticism toward war and militarism. To most Americans it seems perfectly normal, that anytime the flag is raised and the national anthem is played, whether at sports events, concerts, or public festivities, we automatically equate these acts with supporting the troops and the military. To most Americans it seems perfectly normal to have military fighter jets fly over a stadium before a big game. And to most Americans it seems perfectly normal that children at a very early age are made to stand and pledge allegiance to a flag before they can start their school day. What’s lost on the majority of Americans is that these are hypernationalist expressions of jingoism and fascism, which are usually seen under totalitarian and dictatorial regimes like Stalin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, Honecker’s East Germany, or Kim’s North Korea., all of which heavily indoctrinated their society from an early age, and which dictated reverence for and glorification of wars, leaders, and the military. It seems very odd and hypocritical that a supposedly free and democratic country would adopt such principles itself.
Many Americans, both liberal and conservative, are quick to thank a veteran for their service, all while more and more veterans themselves have become critical of such gestures. Some veterans argue that not everyone’s experience in the military was the same, and that thanking them for their service could trigger traumatic experiences and memories. Some veterans even argue that it evokes feelings of “guilt and shame” in them, and that it reminds them of their own “responsibility and culpability for the pain and suffering [they] caused innocent people.” They also argue that the general public doesn’t fully comprehend the “nature and reality” of war. Moreover, veterans may also “doubt the sincerity of these expressions of supposed gratitude” as merely something people say, not because they “care about what [veterans] did or sacrificed, but only to demonstrate [their own] supposed good character, or patriotism.” Other veterans argue that empty phrases of thanks, no matter how well-intentioned, only serve to absolve the public from the cost of war, and that it “lets [them] off the hook for what [they] have—or haven’t—done.“
In any case, these veterans would appreciate actions more than words. So, instead of merely thanking a veteran for their service, more Americans should organize and demand that this country free itself from the stranglehold of corporate control, and provide healthcare, housing, education, and full equality as a right to all people. Yet, while so many Americans pay lip service to supporting military personnel, they seem at best apprehensive toward taking such steps to fundamentally transform their homeland into a country that truly cares for and looks after not just veterans and their families, but everyone in society.
Young children in particular are hardly capable of adequately processing such complex thoughts and emotions about wars and veterans. Therefore, any superficial activity to observe Veterans Day in elementary school hardly goes beyond revering and glorifying militaristic heroism. But teaching young children reverence for war and militarism will not create a better society. Teaching them kindness, equity, and justice, on the other hand, will, because not only would a society based on those values be of much greater service to veterans, but it might even equip future generations with the tools to make militarism and war obsolete.
About 12,000 years ago, late stone age humans precipitated the neolithic (agricultural) revolution that marked the start of the steady rise to civilization. Coincidentally, this occurred at the same time as the beginning of what is now known as the Holocene Epoch, the geological epoch in which humans still live.
However, since the industrial revolution commencing in about 1750, just 270 years ago, humans have been destroying Earth’s biosphere with such tremendous ferocity that the Earth we inherited at the beginning of the Holocene Epoch is vanishing before our eyes. And life is vanishing with it.
While this catastrophe first gained significant public attention with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962, efforts in response to her effort to raise the alarm, credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement, have paled in comparison to the ongoing human effort to silence Spring.
In fact, we are destroying the biosphere with such ruthless efficiency that the global extinction rate is now 200 species per day, with another million species ‘under threat’. Moreover, according to the recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services researched and published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – the scientific body which assesses the state of biodiversity and the ecosystem services this provides to society – ‘Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.’
So severe is the crisis through which we are now living that the normally sober tone of scientific papers is vanishing too, with words such as ‘biological annihilation’, a ‘frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation’ and the “‘sixth mass extinction’ event in Earth’s history are being used with increasing frequency.
So how extreme is the threat?
Well, despite the number of elite-controlled intergovernmental processes and corporate scientists paid to promulgate delusion about our timeframe, an increasing number of scientists are now warning that existing and accumulating evidence indicates that human extinction is likely to occur by 2026 (assuming that we can prevent nuclear war and prevent the deployment of 5G in the meantime). Unfortunately, too, the full extent of this unfolding catastrophe is readily masked if the many interrelated factors – emotional, political, economic, social, climatic, environmental, military, nuclear, geoengineering and electromagnetic – synergistically shaping this outcome are not each and all considered.
For example, it is poor science to measure climate impacts in isolation from the cascading impacts they generate ‘downstream’ (such as the adverse impact of temperature increases on insect populations in rainforests and what this means for the rainforest habitats they occupy) and to predict outcomes for humanity based on the climate impacts alone. If enough insects are gone – whether through destruction of habitat, extensive pesticide use, 5G electromagnetic radiation, climate impacts… or a combination of these and other factors – before we reach the critical climate ‘tipping point’, then human food chains will collapse rapidly followed by the human population whatever the state of the climate at the time.
However, rather than reiterate the comprehensive evidence in relation to the synergistic threats to human survival here, let me instead present the evidence only in relation to the decimation of the global insect population – variously given such labels as ‘insectageddon’ and ‘insect apocalypse’ in an attempt to convey the gravity of the crisis – including what is driving it and what it means.
The Importance of Insects
So how important are insects? According to one recent study conducted by Caspar A. Hallmann and eleven associates, insects are vital to ecosystem functioning:
Insects play a central role in a variety of processes, including pollination, herbivory and detrivory [an organism, such as a bacterium, fungus or insect, that feeds on dead plant or animal matter], nutrient cycling and providing a food source for higher trophic levels such as birds, mammals and amphibians. For example, 80% of wild plants are estimated to depend on insects for pollination, while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source. The ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA. Clearly, preserving insect abundance and diversity should constitute a prime conservation priority.
To underscore the importance of insects, in their study Bradford C. Lister & Andres Garcia simply note that ‘arthropods comprise over two-thirds of terrestrial species’.1 And, as Robert Hunziker observes: without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses.
However, despite their crucial role in maintaining the habitable biosphere, insects have been in decline for several decades. And the decline is accelerating.
The Decline of Insects
Any study of insect populations readily confirms their rapid decline. For example, in the recent study by Lister and Garcia, they note that ‘Arthropods, invertebrates including insects that have external skeletons, are declining at an alarming rate. While the tropics harbor the majority of arthropod species, little is known about trends in their abundance.’ Hence they compared arthropod biomass in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest with data taken by Lister back in 1976. They found that ‘biomass had fallen 10 to 60 times’ and their analyses revealed ‘synchronous declines in the lizards, frogs, and birds that eat arthropods’. Moreover, they noted, over the past 30 years forest temperatures have risen 2.0 °C and their study indicated that ‘climate warming is the driving force behind the collapse of the forest’s food web’. Ominously, they observe:
A number of studies indicate that tropical arthropods should be particularly vulnerable to climate warming. If these predictions are realized, climate warming may have a more profound impact on the functioning and diversity of tropical forests than currently anticipated.
Why? Well although climate warming is disrupting the entire biosphere at an accelerating pace, the rate is generally slower in tropical habitats. Nevertheless, the evidence still clearly suggests that tropical ectotherms (organisms reliant on environmental heat sources) may be particularly vulnerable to the warming climate. Citing an earlier report based on research by Daniel H. Janzen, Lister and Garcia note that tropical species that evolved in comparatively aseasonal environments have ‘narrower thermal niches, reduced acclimation to temperature fluctuations, and exist at or near their thermal optima. Consequently, even small increments in temperature can precipitate sharp decreases in fitness and abundance. These predictions have been verified in a variety of tropical reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.’
In another recent report, Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys present ‘a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers’. In essence, their research reveals ‘dramatic rates of decline’ with the main drivers being i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization; ii) pollution, mainly by synthetic pesticides (glyphosate, neonicotinoids and others) and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) the climate catastrophe. ‘The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones.’
Moreover, they note, the general studies of insect declines are ‘in line with previous reports on population declines among numerous insect taxa (i.e. butterflies, ground beetles, ladybirds, dragonflies, stoneflies and wild bees) in Europe and North America over the past decades. It appears that insect declines are substantially greater than those observed in birds or plants over the same time periods and this could trigger wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world’s ecosystems.’
But perhaps the most alarming report is the one written following research conducted by Caspar A. Hallmann and his associates. Noting widespread concern about insect loss, they observe that ‘Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services.’ Employing a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (with 96 unique location-year combinations) their analysis estimated ‘a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study’. Moreover, the decline was apparent regardless of habitat type. ‘This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.’
Just one cascading impact of the rapid decline of insects in Germany is the ‘decimation’ of the bird population.
In summary, from the study by Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys: More than 40 percent of the world’s insect species are on the fast track to extinction.
Why are insects declining?
In essence, apart from the causes of insect decline noted above, such as destruction of habitat, poisoning (using glyphosate, neonicotinoids and other pesticides) and the climate catastrophe, insects are also adversely impacted by light, ingestion of plastic, wars, nuclear contamination and will be further and horrifically impacted, along with all life on Earth, if 5G is deployed. For an earlier study identifying the existing problem of electromagnetic radiation on life, see ‘Bees, Birds and Mankind: Destroying Nature by “Electrosmog“‘ but for recent updates on the extraordinary hazards of 5G to all life, see ‘5G and the Wireless Revolution: When Progress Becomes a Death Sentence’ and ‘Western Insanity and 5G Electromagnetic Radiation’.
In essence, without sufficient diversity and density of insects the existing biosphere will collapse and homo sapiens will join the fossil record. And we are rapidly approaching that particular tipping point.
Part of the problem is that far too much attention is being directed at the climate catastrophe while ignoring the vast evidence from other disciplines offering highly instructive research not only in relation to climate impacts but to other human behaviours that are negatively impacting ecosystem functioning.
This has a range of negative impacts, including that it deludes people into seeking outcomes that are hopelessly inadequate if we are to address the full extent of the crisis in our biosphere.
Is anything being done?
Not much. The elite’s corporations have enormous political power so have little trouble resisting efforts to contain their destruction of the biosphere, including of insect populations.
Hence, while scientists routinely offer fine suggestions, such as the following one, they are also routinely ignored.
A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide. In addition, eﬀective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters in both agricultural and urban environments.
But, to reiterate, it is corporations that have political power and that also control the media narrative; not scientists.
So what can we do?
Given that the insect apocalypse is deeply connected to other issues of critical importance to human survival, as always it is vital that this issue is addressed strategically from a holistic perspective. For that reason, we must approach the issue by addressing fundamental drivers but also several vital symptoms that arise from those drivers. Let me explain what I mean.
The fundamental question is this: Why are humans behaving in a way that destroys Earth’s biosphere? Surely, this is neither sensible nor even sane. And anyone capable of emotional engagement and rational thinking who seriously considers this behaviour must realize this. So why is it happening?
Fundamentally it is because our parenting and education models fail utterly to produce people of conscience, people who are emotionally functional and capable of critical analysis, people who care and who can plan and respond strategically.
Given the preoccupation of modern society with producing submissively obedient students, workers, soldiers, citizens (that is, taxpayers and voters) and consumers, the last thing society wants is powerful individuals who are each capable of searching their conscience, feeling their emotional response to events, thinking critically and behaving strategically in response. Hence our parenting and education models use a ruthless combination of visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence to ensure that our children become terrified, self-hating and powerless individuals like virtually all of the adults around them.
This multifaceted violence ensures that the adult who emerges from childhood and adolescence is suppressing awareness of an enormous amount of fear, pain and anger (among many other feelings) and must live in delusion to remain unaware of these suppressed feelings. This ensures that, as part of their delusion, people develop a strong sense that what they are doing already is functional and working (no matter how dysfunctional and ineffective it may actually be) while unconsciously suppressing awareness of any evidence that contradicts their delusion. See ‘Why Violence?’, ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’, ‘Do We Want School or Education?‘ and ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War‘.
So if we are going to address the fundamental driver of both the insect apocalypse and destruction of the biosphere generally, we must address this cause. For those adults powerful enough to do this, there is an explanation in ‘Putting Feelings First‘. And for those adults committed to facilitating children’s efforts to realize their potential and become self-aware (rather than delusional), see ‘My Promise to Children‘.
Beyond this cause, however, we must also resist, strategically, the insane elite corporations that are a key symptom of this crisis by manufacturing and marketing a vast range of insect (and life)-destroying products ranging from weapons (conventional and nuclear) and fossil fuels to products made by the destruction of habitat (including rainforests) and the poisoning of agricultural land (to grow the food that most people eat) while now planning the imminent worldwide deployment of 5G.
But we can also undermine this destruction, for example, by refusing to buy the products provided by the elite’s corporations (with the complicity of governments) that fight wars (to enrich weapons corporations) to steal fossil fuels (to enrich energy, aircraft and vehicle-manufacturing corporations) or those corporations that make profits by destroying rainforests or producing poisoned food, for example. We can do this by systematically reducing and altering our consumption pattern and becoming more locally self-reliant as outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘ or, even more simply, by committing to The Earth Pledge (below). In a nutshell, for example, if we do not buy and eat poisoned food, corporations will stop poisoning our food and this will save vast numbers of insects (and many other life forms besides).
You can also consider joining those working to end violence in all contexts by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
The Earth Pledge
Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:
- I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
- I will not travel by plane
- I will not travel by car
- I will not eat meat and fish
- I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
- I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
- I will not buy rainforest timber
- I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
- I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
- I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
- I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
- I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
- I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.
In response to a range of synergistically impacting behaviours, homo sapiens is on the fast track to extinction. Just one critical and largely ignored variable in this rush to extinction is our decimation of the world insect population denying us an ever-expanding range of ecological services.
On this count alone, we have already crossed a dangerous tipping point that will cause increasing problems over time. Whether we can stop short of the ultimate tipping point depends on what you decide.
- See ‘Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web’.
Palestine’s Christian population is dwindling at an alarming rate. The world’s most ancient Christian community is moving elsewhere. And the reason for this is Israel.
Christian leaders from Palestine and South Africa sounded the alarm at a conference in Johannesburg on October 15. Their gathering was titled: “The Holy Land: A Palestinian Christian Perspective”.
One major issue that highlighted itself at the meetings is the rapidly declining number of Palestinian Christians in Palestine.
There are varied estimates on how many Palestinian Christians are still living in Palestine today, compared with the period before 1948 when the state of Israel was established atop Palestinian towns and villages. Regardless of the source of the various studies, there is near consensus that the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.
A population census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017 concluded that there are 47,000 Palestinian Christians living in Palestine – with reference to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 98 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the West Bank – concentrated mostly in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – while the remainder, a tiny Christian community of merely 1,100 people, lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The demographic crisis that had afflicted the Christian community decades ago is now brewing.
For example, 70 years ago, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. The demographics of the city, however, have fundamentally shifted, especially after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, and the construction of the illegal Israeli apartheid wall, starting in 2002. Parts of the wall were meant to cut off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and to isolate the former from the rest of the West Bank.
“The Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west,” the ‘Open Bethlehem’ organization said, describing the devastating impact of the wall on the Palestinian city. “With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use.”
Increasingly beleaguered, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have been driven out from their historic city in large numbers. According to the city’s mayor, Vera Baboun, as of 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped to 12 percent, merely 11,000 people.
The most optimistic estimates place the overall number of Palestinian Christians in the whole of Occupied Palestine at less than two percent.
The correlation between the shrinking Christian population in Palestine, and the Israeli occupation and apartheid should be unmistakable, as it is obvious to Palestine’s Christian and Muslim population alike.
A study conducted by Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank town of Beit Jala and published in December 2017, interviewed nearly 1,000 Palestinians, half of them Christian and the other half Muslim. One of the main goals of the research was to understand the reason behind the depleting Christian population in Palestine.
The study concluded that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” who are finding themselves in “a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves”.
Unfounded claims that Palestinian Christians are leaving because of religious tensions between them and their Muslim brethren are, therefore, irrelevant.
Gaza is another case in point. Only 2 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip. When Israel occupied Gaza along with the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, an estimated 2,300 Christians lived in the Strip. However, merely 1,100 Christians still live in Gaza today. Years of occupation, horrific wars and an unforgiving siege can do that to a community, whose historic roots date back to two millennia.
Like Gaza’s Muslims, these Christians are cut off from the rest of the world, including the holy sites in the West Bank. Every year, Gaza’s Christians apply for permits from the Israeli military to join Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Last April, only 200 Christians were granted permits, but on the condition that they must be 55 years of age or older and that they are not allowed to visit Jerusalem.
The Israeli rights group, Gisha, described the Israeli army decision as “a further violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement, religious freedom and family life”, and, rightly, accused Israel of attempting to “deepen the separation” between Gaza and the West Bank.
In fact, Israel aims at doing more than that. Separating Palestinian Christians from one another, and from their holy sites (as is the case for Muslims, as well), the Israeli government hopes to weaken the socio-cultural and spiritual connections that give Palestinians their collective identity.
Israel’s strategy is predicated on the idea that a combination of factors – immense economic hardships, permanent siege and apartheid, the severing of communal and spiritual bonds – will eventually drive all Christians out of their Palestinian homeland.
Israel is keen to present the ‘conflict’ in Palestine as a religious one so that it could, in turn, brand itself as a beleaguered Jewish state in the midst of a massive Muslim population in the Middle East. The continued existence of Palestinian Christians does not factor nicely into this Israeli agenda.
Sadly, however, Israel has succeeded in misrepresenting the struggle in Palestine – from that of political and human rights struggle against settler colonialism – into a religious one. Equally disturbing, Israel’s most ardent supporters in the United States and elsewhere are religious Christians.
It must be understood that Palestinian Christians are neither aliens nor bystanders in Palestine. They have been victimized equally as their Muslim brethren, and have also played a major role in defining the modern Palestinian identity, through their resistance, spirituality, deep connection to the land, artistic contributions and burgeoning scholarship.
Israel must not be allowed to ostracize the world’s most ancient Christian community from their ancestral land so that it may score a few points in its deeply disturbing drive for racial supremacy.
Equally important, our understanding of the legendary Palestinian ‘soumoud’ – steadfastness – and of solidarity cannot be complete without fully appreciating the centrality of Palestinian Christians to the modern Palestinian narrative and identity.