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Shadowy US Firm Run by Former Diplomat Cinches Syria Oil Deal with Kurds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 7:25am in

In November of last year, the Pentagon’s assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs assured reporters during a press briefing that “the revenue from [Syrian oil fields] is not going to the U.S. [It] is going to the SDF”, adding that the purpose of the mission was “to defeat ISIS” and that “securing of the oil fields [was] a subordinate task to that mission”, which was “to deny ISIS the revenues from that oil infrastructure.”

At that time, however, a recently incorporated company in the Delaware jurisdiction named Delta Crescent Energy LLC had already been communicating with members of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeastern region of Syria for several months about developing and exporting crude oil from the Kurdish-occupied territory.

Already in April 2019, the new oil concern had received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to carry on with the work; the same Treasury department that in 2018 had levied sanctions against the Syrian government’s “Petroleum Procurement Network,” targeting companies in Lebanon and the UAE which deliver fuel and natural gas to Syria.

The Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement on Sunday declaring the deal to be illegal and designed to steal Syrian crude. “This agreement is null and void and has no legal basis,” read the statement from Damascus, which condemned “in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company.”

The loose band of Kurdish rebels now known as the SDF was formed after U.S. airstrikes allowed them to take the Syrian city of Kobani in 2015. Subsequent military assistance and training by U.S. forces helped consolidate the 60,000-man army, which has been pivotal in American destabilization efforts in Syria.


Shell company

Delta Crescent Energy LLC was formed in February 2019 in the tax haven jurisdiction of Delaware and lists its address as 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, DE; a “tiny brick building,” which is also home to more than 300,000 business entities. Among its neighbors at the cramped address are companies like Apple, eBay, and Walmart, just to name a few.

The company’s officers include George W. Bush’s ambassador to Denmark, James P. Cain – a sports franchise owner who once called for the execution of Chelsea Manning for leaking diplomatic cables to Wikileaks; former Delta Force commander and TigerSwan CEO, James Reese and John P. Dorrier Jr. founder of UK-based, Houston, TX-located, GulfSands Petroleum, which has carried out business in Syria before.

Reese, whose private mercenary company TigerSwan infiltrated and surveilled Dakota Access Pipeline protestors at Standing Rock in 2016, told Fox News in 2018 that “the whole eastern part of Syria” belonged to the U.S. “That’s ours,” he continued, “We can’t give that up.”

The secretive oil deal was a topic of conversation during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on July 30. When Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo if he was supportive of the agreement, he testified that “We are,” adding that it had taken “longer” than anticipated, but it “was now in implementation, and it can be very powerful.”


Oil market viability

Graham praised the blatantly illegal arrangement, saying that it would “improve the viability of the northern oil fields to make them more productive.” Syrian oil fields were producing approximately 380,000 barrels a day until U.S.-backed rebels took over the oil-rich northeastern region of the country after “ousting” ISIS forces – themselves spawned from the EU, the U.S., and the UK  – reducing production to less than 60,000 barrels a day.

The negotiations were brokered by U.S. government officials from the State Department. James Jeffrey, United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and his deputy, Joel Rayburn were charged with cementing the contract, which the Trump administration still cynically claims was done on behalf of the “Syrian people” and that the U.S. “government does not own, control, or manage the oil resources in Syria. The populations in areas liberated from ISIS make their own decisions on local governance.”

The Pentagon’s spokesperson, Jessica McNulty added that the DoD “does not have an affiliation with any private companies in regard to the oil fields in northeast Syria” and in the same breath expressed how the American military was there to literally protect the interests of the oil company by “securing [the] critical petroleum infrastructure in northeast Syria to deny ISIS access to critical resources and revenue.” McNulty, however, did not mention that the Delaware-based company has plans to sell the oil to “various customers in the region,” including Assad, himself.

Feature photo | U.S. military forces patrol Syrian oil fields, Oct. 28, 2019. Baderkhan Ahmad | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Shadowy US Firm Run by Former Diplomat Cinches Syria Oil Deal with Kurds appeared first on MintPress News.

Federal Government Releases Bipartisan Anti-China Plan for Artificial Intelligence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/08/2020 - 12:45am in

A bipartisan plan for artificial intelligence (AI) in relation to national security has just been released by U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Will Hurd (R-TX). The report was put together by the D.C.-based think tank Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) of Georgetown University, in addition to industry representatives and academics, as well as other government officials.

The proposal comes as anti-China rhetoric begins to coalesce in the policy-forming circles of the U.S. government. “American leadership and advanced technology has been critical to our success since World War II, and we are in a race with the government of China,” Hurd stated. “It’s time for Congress to play its role.” Most of the document, however, focuses on China and Russia as threats to American hegemony, with AI being just the latest excuse to assert its power over aligned nations and launch threats of economic warfare and tease military action against non-aligned countries.

Recent headlines about the possible acquisition of the Chinese video platform TikTok by Microsoft and Trump’s threats to ban the social media company from operating in the U.S. underscore the aggressive tactics now being employed by the government and American tech firms, in tandem, to assert U.S. hegemony over AI systems worldwide.

The tussle over mobile software applications is occurring as the U.S. Department of Justice brings hacking charges against Chinese nationals and the FBI lobs accusations against the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harboring fugitives. Meanwhile, a Congressional inquiry into the alleged disappearance of a Chinese Catholic Bishop adds to the strong signals that the U.S. is moving into cold war footing against the Asian nation.


Principles and takeaways

The AI plan is based on three reports issued by the National Security Commission on AI; established in 2018 by the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 115-232).

The Commission, co-chaired by former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt and former deputy secretary of defense Robert O. Work, recently created an advisory committee to steer policy in regards to applications of AI.

The Commission has come under fire for holding closed-door meetings and for failing to publicly disclose their recommendations. A decision handed down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June held that the Commission must abide by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and must “hold open meetings and proactively provide records and other materials to the public.” The Commission is set to expire in one year, by October 2021.

The bipartisan plan on AI offers five “Key Principles” the first of which involves the implementation of the DoD’s “Ethical Principles for AI,” a set of broad rules meant to guide “both combat and non-combat functions” of AI, which are to be enforced by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC); an agency established in 2018 within the Pentagon. The JAIC is currently led by acting director, Nand Mulchandani of DoD enterprise software contractor, Citrix, and former Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, Stephen T. Homeyer.

The second “principle” alludes to cooperating “selectively and pragmatically” with China and Russia. The third implies surveillance of other countries’ AI capabilities and “perspectives,” while the fourth calls for greater investment in R&D for artificial intelligence and promoting “standardization” to achieve more “trustworthy” AI systems. The fifth brings it full circle back to the confrontational stance of the U.S. government by recommending “export and investment controls” to prevent the transfer of sensitive AI technologies to China.

The plan then offers several takeaways, such as the “operational advantage against adversaries,” AI-enabled command and control “as envisioned by programs such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Mosaic Warfare and the Air Force’s Multi-Domain Command and Control.” In addition, it adds two recommendations regarding the use of AI for logistical aspects of the U.S. military “including troop rotations,” counseling the “implementation of enterprise AI applications” to these ends.


Curbside Constitution

Other parts of the plan revolve around autonomous vehicles and weapons systems. The former, in particular, has important implications for the private sector as ride-sharing companies like Uber and car-makers alike push for policies to shape the burgeoning autonomous vehicle market. But, due to the technology’s requirements to “perceive and map the environment, fuse sensor data, identify obstacles, plan navigation, and communicate with other vehicles,” it has the potential to bleed into many other sectors of the economy and local levels of government, down to zoning laws.

In an interview earlier this month, JAIC acting director Nand Mulchandani advanced this narrative when he claimed China had “the world’s most advanced [AI] capabilities, such as unregulated facial recognition for universal surveillance and control of their domestic population, trained on Chinese video gathered from their systems.” Mulchandani, nevertheless, conceded that the “U.S. is capable of doing similar things,” but offered only the U.S. Constitution as the barrier that would prevent America from building “such universal surveillance and censorship systems.” A less than comforting thought, to say the least.

Feature photo | Chinese students work on the Ares, a humanoid bipedal robot run on artificial intelligence and designed by them with funding from a Shanghai investment company, displayed during the World Robot Conference in Beijing. Ng Han Guan | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Federal Government Releases Bipartisan Anti-China Plan for Artificial Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

Quietly Sacrificing the North? US Marines’ COVID-19 Exemption

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 3:03am in


United States, War

As political debate rages around Australia about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Australian government has quietly approved the arrival of 1200 US marines into Darwin. Coming from hot spots of infection over the last two months, these soldiers were granted exemptions from Australia’s COVID-19 international border-control restrictions in order to partake in a ‘boot camp’ and use drones for the first time.

The severity of the risk this situation poses contrasts starkly with the lack of comment and analysis from our leading public-health officials and experts, and from our media and politicians. Before they came to the Territory, members of the task-force in question—the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D)—were located in California and Okinawa, and US bases in each location were sites of infection. The governor of Okinawa questioned the effectiveness of US-military measures to control COVID-19. He has asked that no more US personnel arrive from the US mainland and he has demanded more transparency. Uncharacteristically, the Japanese minister for defence has also publicly discussed the situation.

History shows that soldiers mobilised in large groups are very good at amplifying pandemics. This is particularly alarming, because as Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), warned, COVID-19 would cause ‘absolute devastation without a doubt’ if it were to enter remote Aboriginal communities. These communities are highly vulnerable to the disease, given the region’s limited health facilities, overcrowded housing and high prevalence of pre-existing health comorbidities. As John Paterson, chief executive of the Northern Territory–based Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance said: ‘in the Northern Territory we have the largest vulnerable population in this country. And all it takes is one positive COVID person to get out into those communities and we will have a catastrophe on our hands’.

Such a catastrophe is currently unfolding in the United States, with American Indian communities tragically losing Elders and living culture, as well as members of their next generation of leaders. Doctors Without Borders has sent in a medical team to help the people of the Navajo Nation, the first time the organisation has been on the ground to assist in the world’s richest country.We should do everything to stop similar devastation in Australia.

After a COVID-triggered ‘pause’ of marine rotation was announced in March, just thirty-seven days later it was all on again, according to Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds. From early June, 1200 marines would enter the Territory over an eight-week period, with arrangements in place to supposedly ‘ensure the safe and effective conduct’ of the force. This announcement was framed as being possible because Australia had managed its response to COVID-19 so well, with the underlying message that the Territory was considered safe for US marines to enter. But was it safe for territorians to have them there?

Territorians were told that marines were arriving in Darwin after four days of pre-deployment screening, understood from MRF-D to consist of a temperature test and a health questionnaire. All personnel, it was announced, would enter quarantine for fourteen days and would be tested twice during that time for COVID-19. But as the Victorian outbreak has shown, such strategies are far from watertight, and quarantine processing can be dangerously vulnerable to human error. Rather than taking a ‘fingers-crossed, let’s-hope-there’s-no-human-error’ gamble on quarantine measures, it would be far safer to prevent US marines from coming to Australia from COVID-19 hot spots.

The first case of a US marine with COVID-19 was announced in July, and the marine was hospitalised at Royal Darwin Hospital. This elicited no official comment from the minister for defence, just a short anonymous statement from the department.It was left to the US military to release a more detailed press statement. This was also the first time that the Northern Territory’s chief health officer, Dr Hugh Heggie, spoke publicly about the risk to community health: ‘authorities had expected it was likely “risky” arrivals from the US could be carrying the virus’. It is alarming that this first mention of a public-health risk came after the diagnosis of the first sick marine.

Despite the clear and present danger of the situation, there has been little public discussion or analysis from public-health officials or the media. There wasn’t any public comment from the federal government’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, and the decision didn’t go before the national COVID-19 health committee for expert medical advice before it was authorised by the federal government.

Surprisingly, no public comments were made by leading health experts. Even the ABC’s fearless Dr Norman Swan did not want to touch the story. Indeed, the Australian media has been strangely reticent, with international media sources, including the US military site Stars and Stripes, providing much more information on COVID-19 in the US military, and its struggle to contain it, than Australian media. The only interview analysing and calling into question the underlying decision-making was a web-based interview with Tony Kevin, former Australian ambassador to Poland and Cambodia, and a long-term critic of government foreign policy.

The quiet also extends to parliament, with Greens senator Jordon Steele-John the only one to put concerns on the record. He wrote to the minister for defence detailing his alarm about the potential for quarantine failures and impacts on the NT health system and the risk of harm to vulnerable Territorians, including Aboriginal Territorians, and asked her to reconsider this year’s deployment of troops from the United States. There is no public record that he has received a reply from Minister Reynolds.

The US military presence in Darwin has never sought to ensure the safety of Aboriginal people. When Barack Obama announced his ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy in 2011—in an effort to counterbalance China’s growing naval power in the Indo-Pacific—he became the first sitting US president to visit Darwin. His arrival was proceeded by the clearing out of homeless Aboriginal people from Darwin’s Esplanade for ‘security’ reasons. This visit was part of the Obama and Gillard governments’ announcement of a 25-year deal to formalise a ‘permanent rotation’ of US military personnel through northern Australia, a dubious arrangement that apparently makes us ‘safer’. Considering the United States’ history of war, its nuclear capacities, and now President Trump’s increasing sabre-rattling with China, such an alliance is increasingly problematic. The growing US military presence in the Northern Territory during an intensifying global pandemic makes clear where the Australian government’s priorities lie. It places its own questionable geostrategic ambitions ahead of the welfare of its people, including the most vulnerable Aboriginal communities. It seems that this was a potential sacrifice that the federal government was willing to make on behalf of Territorians.

How Joeseph Goebbel’s Nazi Propaganda Gave Birth to Today’s Western Media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 2:59am in

All six children were dressed in pristine, finely pressed white clothes. Their hair was combed and styled. Aged between four and twelve, they had been assembled below by house aides. The stage was now set. Pedigree, ideological sacred cows, convictions as indefensible as the Oder River had set it. With or without cause, all final preparations were complete.

Pleas by women and staff to usher the young ones free from harm’s way were ignored. Time was running thin. No such ideas, however, would be entertained by their much sought after father, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. With allied forces lagging behind on the western front, the Red Army invasion, stocked to the brim with Katyushas, Ilyushin II fighter jets, tanks, and hardened infantry bulldozed their way into the heart of Berlin from the east. Childhood nor innocence would escape the treacherous affairs that had unwittingly led Helga Susanne, Hildegard Traudel, Helmut Christian, Holdine Kathrin, Hedwig Johanna, and Heidrun Elisabeth to the Reich Chancellery bunker in April 1945. Above ground, the ill-prepared Volkssturm, boys and seniors anywhere between 16 and 60, give or take a few years, were fulfilling duties mandated by the Führer. Fuming amid fresh heaps of rubble, Berlin, as ordered by high-ranking officials now engaged in orgies and sordid acts inside the Chancellery, was to be defended against all odds and at all costs. Just then, Rochus Misch, the bunker’s telephonist, recalled that the six beautiful children simply “went away.”

How that cocktail of morphine and cyanide was fed to Goebbels’ kids remains shrouded in speculation. Bruises were found on 12-years-old Helga’s face. Braveheart was she, daddy’s girl resisting to swallow the ampule’s content before it was forcibly smashed between her teeth? Still, whether it was shortly before or after the kids went away, Goebbels took to the Chancellery garden and did likewise. Prior to the final act, he ordered his guards to show patience, wait until he lay lifeless and, for added posterity, hit his body with a volley of rounds and incinerate the remains. As good S.S. soldiers do, they complied. So did the bulk of French, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish and other Wehrmacht foreigners who upheld their oath to the Nazi state to the end. Like a house of cards, their creationist myth of racial superiority and exceptionalism was now crumbling before their eyes and drenching in their Aryan blood.

The Soviet advance was as relentless as it was implacable. “It took a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army,” Joseph Stalin was quoted. Indeed. If the siege of Leningrad was not enough to keep soldiers on the battlefield, then deserters were met by the firing squad. With victory waiting in the wing, credit would also be paid to the hundreds of Soviet female snipers who had fought on the frontline. Awarded the Medal of Courage in 1944, Roza Shanina disposed of 59 Nazi combatants before she, at just 20 years of age, was killed in battle. Partisans across Europe also risked life and limb while engaging in sabotage and assassinations deep behind enemy lines. In Denmark, 23-year-old Bent Faurschou Hviid (codename Flammen) and concierge and music stage manager Jørgen Haagen Schmith (codename Citronen) formed an assassination duo, eliminating Nazi officials and collaborators, one by one, across Copenhagen. Killed, yet undefeated, the Danes honored the freedom fighters when their coffins stood in unison inside the historic Holmen Church.

Roza Shanina

Roza Shanina was one of hundreds of female snipers fighting in the Red Army against Nazi Germany.

Circumstances compounded abroad and now in the German heartland, Brandenburg Gates nor the Reichstag could no longer hold its own. Berlin lay in ruins. The Volkssturm and Wehrmacht scoured civilian neighborhoods as they retreated. German civilians with white flags hoisted out front were frowned upon if lucky. Homes of the unlucky were invaded and its occupants executed. Chickens had come home to roost. World War II was nearing its fanatic conclusion, and with it, an end to Nazi Germany’s propaganda mastermind, his wife and children. Goebbels himself couldn’t have summarized the moment better when he stated years back: “Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place.”

Whether that knowledge is acquired, scrambled and obscured, or hidden altogether depends, in large part, on that crème de la crème communication service—the media.

Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun posing in his office as Director of the NAS Marshall Space Flight Center in 1964. Before being spirited to the US under the State Department’s clandestine Operation Paperclip and its V-2 program, von Braun served as an S.S. soldier and headed of Nazi Germany’s rocket program. Photo | Public Domain


The fifth estate pendulum

What is the media? What purpose does it, and other means of mass communication, serve?

Is it a deluge of hip entertainment news outlets and its offspring of color following suit as they curry favor among viewers with bright lights and pizzazz, sensationalism with a pinch of headlines, and nonstop celebrity opinions? Is it fact or fiction, or a warped combination of the two? Who determines what is and isn’t suitable content and commentary?

With the communication trans-nationalists of our time broadcasting on-air and streaming online every second of the day, each day of the week, it can’t be, in the words of Goebbels, “a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners.” To be clear, he was referring to propaganda, not the media per se.

Global perspectives and staying informed, however, need not be relegated to the communication trans-nationalists of our time, their soundbites or cacophony of pundits and experts. One glance at the corporate interests behind media moguls and the demographic makeup of their editorial boards is a constant reminder that the maw of this 24-hour news cycle is feverishly biased. Sizable no doubt, western mass media continues to be atomized by a malnutrition of context.

While technological advancements have leveled the playing field in terms of accessing the tools to produce and disseminate media across the globe, how have journalists reacted or had to adjust to the online world of algorithms, click-baiting, SEO, keywords, ad revenue, bots, and social media? “Data shows (Pew Research – 2019) that 55 percent of adults in the United States get their news from social media either often or sometimes. Now that’s scary,” says a media web-team director to his writers and editorial staff. A bedrock for any people, community, or nation, how are we to distinguish between informative news coverage, propaganda and biased noise without falling prey to cynicism regarding media producers across the board? Moreover, to what degree can the recent past inform us about the present?

Mountain climbing requires skills. Any skilled mountain climber knows that uninterrupted ascents are virtually impossible, especially when facing a dangerous path. At this juncture, one must descend before resuming an upward trajectory at a safer locale. So let us too take a few steps back. Back some eighty years to the Führer. Dare the imagination, or empirical mind-, conjure the memory of Joseph Goebbels in seeking some of the answers to questions about media in the year the demands clearer vision, 2020.


Goebbels 2020 homecoming

While that we will always, and I repeat always, respect everyone’s first amendment rights, those rights stop when a molotov cocktail is thrown into an open business. Those rights stop at the point that you loot the liquor store in the neighborhood. Those rights stop when you loot the gas station, the little mom and pop gas station in the neighborhood.” — John Harrington, head of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, speaking at a press conference in the wake of George Floyd’s public lynching by Minnesota policemen

Abhorrence to Nazi crimes has stood the test of time. “Never forget,” say holocaust survivors and their descendants. Credit mainstream media for doing a remarkable job in making sure that doesn’t happen. What has been forgotten, however, is that the Nazi party did not emerge from vacuity. Forever were they indebted in their perversions by white settler colonialism in the so-called New World. “Hitler’s American Model,” written by James Q. Whitman, draws chilling parallels between the evolution of the Nazi party and how their wackadoo concepts on race biology, their political agenda that prompted genocide, their sordid contraptions of human experimentation and death, their very raison d’être were nothing more than a prerecorded rerun. In this regard, mainstream media has done an exceptionally poor job and public disservice in not detailing the ideological pendulum as it swinging between Washington and Berlin before, during, and after WWII.

“I have studied with interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock-,” Hitler was quoted as saying. His words were not a far echo from sentiments expressed by U.S. General George Patton who chided Jewish supporters who “believe that the Displaced person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals.”

Mary Williamson Averell Harriman

Philanthropist Mary Williamson Averell Harriman, heiress to US railroad executive E. H. Harriman, donated large sums of money to German race biologists. Contributions continued to pour in even during the height of the Great Depression.

Gee Jon

In 1924, nine years before the Nazis even came to power, Gee Jon (picture), a Chinese man, became the first person to be executed in a gas chamber made in the USA. It was performed in Nevada’s State Prison’s butcher shop. A few year later, a modernized version of the state death contraption was developed and patented by Earl C. Liston, superintendent at the Eaton Metal Products Company Denver plant. The new design, which was incorporated at Auschwitz to help relieve stress on S.S. executioners, incorporated a slideway where potassium cyanide pellets were inserted and released into a bucket of sulfuric acid and water. In a matter of seconds, the chamber would fill with poisonous hydrocyanic acid. “Pulling a lever to kill a man is hard work. Pouring acid down a tube is easier on the nerves, more like watering flowers,” Liston commented.

Named Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in 1933, it was Joseph Goebbels’ responsibility to convey all messaging associated with Nazi Germany via radio, TV, film, posters, books, newspapers, and other means of mass communication. His skills in public relations and marketing were exacting, so much so that many WWII researchers insist that German society as a whole—discounting a failed assassination attempt to take out Hitler by Germans officials Claus von Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften, Albrecht, Mertz von Quirnheim, and Friedrich Olbricht—had been hoodwinked. Be this a fair assumption or convenient oversight, one thing is certain: More than seven decades have elapsed since the capitulation of the Nazi state. Still, a cursory glance at succinct propaganda ideas espoused by Goebbels compared and contrasted to soundbites relayed time and again by western media and recurring themes in their coverage, begs a simple question: Do ideas, unlike flesh and bones, live on? Is there an unbroken thread of basic concepts extending from the Third Reich’s media genius and western media trans-nationalists of our time? As the song goes: “Who the cap fit?”

Iran v US wars

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” — Joseph Goebbels

This poster is in protest against wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo | Twitter

Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” — Joseph Goebbels

MainstrePress Propam western media and institutions have clung to the narrative that press freedoms have been abruptly undermined since the rise of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. Goebbels, however, professed a more collaborative relationship between the holders of power and the fifth estate.

Mainstream western media and institutions have clung to the narrative that press freedoms have been abruptly undermined since the rise of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. Goebbels, however, professed a more collaborative relationship between the holders of power and the fifth estate.

Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” — Joseph Goebbels

In a recent DemocracyNow interview addressing U.S. immigrant jails and the separation of children from their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporter Jacob Soboroff, said “this is the first time since — this is the first time ever that children have been separated on a systematic basis — look at those photos right there — from their parents. And that is because of the Trump administration.“ Whether by conscious omission or otherwise, at no point did Soboroff discuss the systematic separation of African or Indigenous children from their parents not too long ago when chattel slavery and colonialism swept through what would become the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, or other parts of the modern-day western hemisphere. This talking point, in fact, has become a mainstay on progressive and left-wing news outlets, that the current practice of separating Latino and Hispanic children from their parents by U.S. state agencies is an unprecedented phenomenon initiated by the Trump administration.

The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” — Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels smiles for the cameras whilst holding a well-arranged bouquet of flowers circa 1934.

Subtle or overt, the media is a weapon for better or worse and it’s no secret that western corporate news outlets churn and refry their coverage 24-hours a day, 7-days per week. Dismissing, ignoring or underestimating its role in upholding New World creationist myths, its political and corporate legacy borne through settler terrorism, appropriation of land, labor, and human beings without blinking an eye would be a grave folly. Goebbels reminds us:

Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”


The war creeps back – neutralize communications

By 1940, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Belgium were all draped under the red, white and black swastika. Europe’s most recent dark days were not exclusively consummated through the barrel of guns. Conspirators, collaborators, and appeasers at the highest level of government, such as British and French prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, signees to Hitler’s Munich Pact in 1938, and business leaders, such as Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, a British MP and head of the British Union of Fascists, all lent their support, thus paving the way for annexation. Mosley’s connection to Nazi leaders ran so deep that he married his mistress, Diana Guinness, at Goebbels’ home in 1936. His guest of honor was none other than Adolf Hitler, a man with whom he was able to negotiate a private radio station that broadcast German programs in Sark. Expanding westward, the Nazi military high command now made plans, as Napoleon had done over a century ago, to take Britain. Having gobbled Western Europe, Hitler surely must’ve deduced that the land of her majesty would be an easy pick. It was, after all, the empire where the sun never sets, burning the midnight oil far and thin to prolong its colonial rule.

The invasion strategy was divided into three phases. If executed properly, the offensive would culminate in the seizure of the Union Jack. To illustrate the importance of media and effective communication, phase one included surprise air-bombings, pulverizing Britain’s Royal Air-force and their bases, as well as all communication services and transport lines. The campaign, however, lasted for a year without ever getting past phase one. Extending from Britain’s eastern shoreline all the way to the heart of London, more than 40,000 people lost their lives during the air raids. It was thanks to the tally-ho of Royal Air-force pilots at the helms of those sturdy spitfire planes, 24 of which were purchased and donated to Britain by the generosity of the Basotho people of Lesotho, that Hitler never set one boot on British soil.

Communications remained alive and well, despite Nazi planes dropping a million pounds of bombs on London just on the night of November 14th, 1940. News radio broadcasts continued informing people of air raids, which underground tube stations to seek shelter, victories compiled by the spitfire pilots thus keeping morale high, and other vital details concerning the attempted invasion and ways of providing solidarity during a time of crisis.

Almost four years later, after Britain’s resounding halt to the Nazi advance, it would be Goebbels turn to resort to radio broadcast. “We would rather work until our hands are bloody and fight until our last breath before we let the enemy occupy German territory and impose his will on us.”

Goebbels again took to the airwaves on April 21s1t,  1945. With Red Army mortars exploding in the garden above the Chancellery compound, the Third Reich’s propaganda expert addressed his listeners one last time. Staff member, Wilfred von Oven, recalled that Goebbels, in one instance, had to wipe away pane and glass as exploding bombs shattered all of the bunker windows. Still, he didn’t fray during his speech. “Berlin is now on the frontline. At the walls of our city, the Mongolian hordes will and must be stopped. Agitators or insurgent foreigners are to be arrested or, better still, neutralized. Naturally, I shall stay on in Berlin with my staff. My wife and my children are also here and will stay here.”

Do not fear the enemy for they can take only your life. Fear the media far more, for they will destroy your honor.” — Vo Nguyen Giap – General of Vietnam’s People Army

On the western front, European-American soldiers afforded Nazi prisoners greater respect than classified negro soldiers fighting under the red, white, and blue. Again, and not that taking on Nazi Germany was inconsiderable, the latter group had succumbed to what Robert Williams would later call a “honky trick.”

To the east, Red Army soldiers took no qualms in pummeling Berlin to smithereens. For Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Houdini was not a rank-and-file member within the Third Reich nor had he ordered the siege of Leningrad. With that established, the Soviet general would speak the only language spoken by the Nazis. Neither by political function, birth, or tradition would Jewish people be integrated into Nazi Germany and, in the struggle against Hitler’s own version of Manifest Destiny, more than 26 million Soviet men, women, and children lost their lives. Preferring the British and European-Americans enter Berlin before the Red Army, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler put their own communication skills to the test, secretly negotiating an unconditional surrender with the allied forces’ western camp. Their efforts proved futile. Both would resort to their cyanide ampules by war’s end.

Stjepan Filipović

“Death to fascism, freedom to the people!” shouted partisan leader Stjepan Filipović moments before his execution by Nazi collaborates in Valjevo, Yugoslavia.”


Media – A weapon for better or worse during times of crisis

As World War II and its antecedents prove, media and other forms of mass communication are critical during times of conflict and uncertainty. For example, in March 1789, Abdel Kader Kane, leader of the Futa Toro region in northern Senegal, sent an official letter to French authorities in which he stated: “We are warning you that all those who will come to our land to trade in slaves will be killed and massacred if you do not send our children back.” In an apparent response to Kader Kane’s warning, Jean-Baptiste Durand of the Compaigne du Sénégal attested that Europeans required armed protection “from the Negroes living in the country.”

In an attempt to stall communications during Indonesia’s struggle for independence, the Dutch East Indies naval blockade cut mail service between the republican forces based in Java and Sumatra in 1947. Meanwhile, an official visit to Vietnam by Robert and Mabel Williams in the late 1960s, Ho Chi Minh told the exiled freedom fighters that leaders of the People’s Army were inspired to launch the Tet Offensive after reading reports of the 1967 Detroit Riots in their Crusader newsletter. In her memoir, “Re-living the Second Chimurenga,” Fay Chung recalled that in the 1970s, Rhodesia’s white minority government “made a great effort to woo spirit mediums (vana sekuru) to support their rule, on one occasion even showering pamphlets (over guerrilla held territories) purporting to come from the ancestors from aeroplanes.”

Mao Tse-Tung

Robert Franklin Williams and Mao Tse-Tung in Peking, China circa 1964

More recently, between May 2007 and December 2011, Bell Pottinger, a British-based public relations firm, received  $540 million dollars to produce and disseminate fake terrorist videos with the aim of portraying insurgent groups negatively. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that the PR firm cooperated with top U.S. military officials based at Camp Victory in Baghdad and viewers of the videos could be tracked by U.S. forces. It was an ignoble reminder of the Lincoln Group. This Washington-based PR firm wrote news articles denouncing insurgent groups while praising U.S.-led efforts in Iraq. The reports were subsequently published in Iraqi newspapers.

The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. — Malcolm X

Meanwhile, Rwanda

In 1994, Tutsi leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) pleaded with top U.S. officials of the Bill Clinton administration to cut Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines (One Thousand Hills Free Radio) broadcasts. This privately-run radio station, which began airing in April 1993, not only incite hatred and killings against the Tutsis, but also stressed the political imperative of seizing control of the narrative. When French military forces intervened in Rwanda under Operation Turquoise following the airplane downing and death of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, they established a control zone where Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines was allowed to continue operating. A broadcast from Gisenyi encouraged all “Hutu girls to wash yourselves and put on a good dress to welcome our French allies. The Tutsi girls are all dead, so you have your chance.”

Explaining why French forces had seemingly recused themselves from detaining government officials they knew were involved in coordinating massacres against the Tutsis, the French foreign ministry argued that the UN mandate provided no authorization to detain war criminals. Meanwhile, requests to jam Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines signal were repeatedly met by cold explanations that such a measure would be in violation of the U.S. commitment to freedom of speech, as well as international broadcasting agreements. When Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Prudence Bushnell raised the issue of radio jamming for a second time at the Pentagon, one official responded, “Pru, radios don’t kill people. People kill people!” It was, however, an incomplete sentence by any measure for the same people who kill others are also the makers of radios to incite and order the killings.

Ultimately, but not before almost a million people were slaughtered over a span of just three months would the RPF singlehandedly defeat the interim government forces, thus bringing an end to the genocide. “Kwibuka” the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide, means “remember” in Kinyarwanda. It’s also a time to recall past events that stoked divisiveness and hatred, review ongoing efforts at reconciliation, trauma counseling, and nation-building. However, the shadow and scars of 1994 are never too far away. Félicien Kabuga, a chief financier of the Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines, was arrested in France in May of this year. Having remained on the lam for 23 years, his previous indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1997 marked the first time a media executive was tried for crimes of genocide since the Nuremberg tribunal.

Having produced translations and subtitles on issues related to the Rwandan genocide and the social and economic progress made since, someone sent me a message stating that when they return to the country and resume power they will “cut down them trees,” in reference to Tutsi government leaders.

That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.” — Joseph Goebbels


Officialdom voices, right to left

Mass media, regardless of its political persuasion, doesn’t live in a vacuum. An extension of public education, that which is presented as the news doesn’t operate at the base of the social pyramid. Up a few stones, but never too far away, it propels creationists myths, as did the Nazis, such as the notion of a master race (i.e. exceptionalism) that thrusts legacies and the status quo into the future. Generation after generation the baton is passed. The mainstream media’s relationship to this process goes, for the most part, unnoticed. This is where Joseph Goebbels’s body of work as head of the Third Reich’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is so crucial. It’s 2020 and western media continues to pride itself on maxims that mirror his ruminations on matters related to the media, propaganda, and western psychology.

As in times of conflict, media remains an essential public service, especially during the current COVID-19 global pandemic. This is true despite the wave of layoffs and furloughs in the industry. The fifth estate is not any less important during times of peace. An extension of pedagogic work, this vehicle is meant to keep a well-informed global citizenry, educate, as well as provide culturally-inspired entertainment.

The media of tomorrow remains in gestation. While it now has the tools to produce and disseminate news coverage across the globe, their resources and reach are infinitely less than the corporate media conglomerates dominating the field. At times, essential tools of the trade such as paid writers, editors and other staff members; researchers; on-the-ground and investigative reporting; and travel accommodation are hard to come by. Still, alternative media is by no means a novelty. This torpid concept, however, persists precisely because of resource disparities and reach. And here I’m not referring to catching up in speed to the 24/7 news wire where quantity trumps quality. Nor am I referring to the bulk of mainstream or independent left-wing or progressive media outlets that, in their editorial boards and staff, replicate levels of exclusion practiced by right-wing conservatives. According to How Diverse Are U.S. Newsrooms (American Society of News Editors – 2019), just seven percent of The Intercept’s total journalistic team is comprised of Black people. Another seven percent are Hispanic. ProPublica, a media outlet that prides itself on being an independent, nonprofit newsroom that exposes abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform, has a staff comprised of six percent Black people. Another six percent are Hispanic. The New York Times’ very own 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report shows that nine percent of its staff are Black or African-American and seven percent are Hispanic or Latino. Even more surprising is its <1%, which I presume to mean negative one percent, Indigenous people, Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders on its overall staff. Another <1% of Indigenous people hold leadership roles.

What these numbers say without uttering a single word, is that non-whites lack the wherewithal to report on the affairs of a world in which they are the majority. Honest brokers or not, qualified or otherwise, the window in which we view the world is minimized to the narrative of a self-entitled few.

Over half a century ago the U.S. federal government, lagging far behind Robert and Mabel William’s Crusader newsletter, assigned a committee to outline the causes of the 1967 Detroit Riots and make recommendations to avoid future outbreaks. Published in 1968 and popularly known as the Kerner Commission (Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders) the 426-page report dedicated an entire chapter to the media. It stated, in part, that: “Important segments of the media failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and on the underlying problems of race relations. They have not communicated to the majority of their audience–which is white—a sense of the degradation, misery, and hopelessness of life in the ghetto.” In an effort to correct these “failings” the report suggested that “improvement must come from within the industry.” Remedies included:

  • Expand coverage of the Negro community and of race problems through permanent assignment of reporters familiar with urban and racial affairs, and through establishment of more and better links with the Negro community.
  • Integrate Negroes and Negro activities into all aspects of coverage and content, including newspaper articles and television programming. The news media must publish newspapers and produce programs that recognize the existence and activities of Negroes as a group within the community and as a part of the larger community.
  • Recruit more Negroes into journalism and broadcasting and promote those who are qualified to positions of significant responsibility. Recruitment should begin in high schools and continue through college; where necessary, aid for training should be provided.
  • Improve coordination with police in reporting riot news through advance planning, and cooperate with the police in the designation of police information officers, establishment of information centers, and development of mutually acceptable guidelines for riot reporting and the conduct of media personnel.

Recommendations and remedies put forth by the Kerner Commission have remained “decades behind” writes Paul Delaney.

Integration, moreover, speaks to the problem of blackness in a despicable way. As a goal, it has been based on complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, blacks must move into a white neighborhood or send their children to a white school. This reinforces, among both black and white, the idea that “white” is automatically better and “black” is by definition inferior. This is why integration is a subterfuge for the maintenance of white supremacy. — Kwame Ture


Links untold: WWII – Israel – Occupied Palestine – George Floyd

I was struck by the recent media uproar over what is and what isn’t antisemitism. I reiterate—what is and what isn’t antisemitism—for western media’s portrayal of those who make such remarks lies the suggestion that vast populations of Semitic people are nonexistent in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, or anywhere else except Israel and among the Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora. Like the majority of global issues with deep historical roots, media coverage of this matter barely scratched the surface, if at all and as quickly as it had appeared, suddenly vanished beneath breaking stories. However, in these times of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s public lynching by Minnesota policemen and other filmed or unregistered police killings of Black people in western metropolises from Louisville, USA to Lausanne, Switzerland, coupled with the link between the end of WWII and the emergence of Israel in 1947, it’s worth noting that recent debates on antisemitism were discussed without the slightest mention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Few, if any, spoke of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Apart from a few alternative news outlets, nobody recalled the hundreds of officers from U.S. police departments in California, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and other states who had flown to Israeli for training over the past two decades.

In 2012, no less than 100 Minnesota police officers attended a conference hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago and FBI, which showcased some of the methods employed by Israeli forces in occupied Palestine. Shahr Aieli, Israel’s deputy consul, said that the counter-terrorism training session was intended to share information and techniques employed by “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police.”

“When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006,” said Neta Golan, co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She added that “They (Israeli security forces) started twisting and breaking fingers in a particular way around the same time. It was clear they had undergone training for this. They continue to use these tactics — two of my friends have had their necks broken but luckily survived — and it is clear that they share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the U.S. and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”

Europe’s killing fields of the 1940s not only culminated in the demise of Nazi Germany, but it also gave birth to Israel. Though the Palestinians have no responsibility in the rise of Nazism, they continue to suffer the consequences of those cataclysmic events seven decades later. With the full backing of U.S. foreign policy and the biases of western corporate media, their land, like that of the Gullah-Geechee of the eastern U.S. seaboard, Black farmers throughout Uncle Sam, or the Garifuna of Honduras, has been consistently confiscated by settler colonialism.

Recently, four Garifuna land-defenders—Snider Centeno, Milton Martínez, Suany Álvarez, and a fourth unidentified— were abducted from their homes by heavily armed men in Honduras’ northern coastal town of Triunfo de la Cruz. Community leaders referred to the kidnapping as the latest attack against their indigenous and African-Indigenous homeland as they continue to struggle against Canadian tourist speculators as well as mining and other extractive industries.


Communication Beyond Borders

Mainstream and, increasingly, not so mainstream western media is a blunt enterprise. It tells us, point-blank, what happens on a day-to-day basis. Rarely does it delve into the context, historical or otherwise, as to why things happen. Surface story in hand, journalists, spin doctors, experts and people with little to no knowledge of the events can weave whatever narrative they so please. In this regard, public education cannot be left out of this equation. However, with the basis of its focus on upholding creationist myths and forcing students to prepare for standardized tests, the western education system lags behind by design in this marriage between what is taught at school and how adults interact or respond to the news. Disconnected from one another, the follies of the past play out like a rat running on a toy wheel. Games aside, today’s western media portrayal of the South China Seas or Iran as representing a terrorist threat may very well be yesterday’s Gulf of Tonkin.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Joseph Goebbels pondered openly and without fear. “We shall go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals.” It’s a menacing dichotomy that possibly mass media and other forms of communication are only capable of producing. But despite the perils, communication, verbal, physical or otherwise, remains a quintessential tool of the ages. It’s the means by which we develop mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and interpersonally. It’s how the king of the jungle coordinates with others to prepare her next meal and how a herd of gazelles escape from becoming that next meal. Elephants employ a series of sophisticated non-verbal communication techniques to exchange present and past information, as well as detect vibrations in the earth, unfamiliar noises, and odors. Communication is how dolphins and whales navigate the high seas, a rattlesnake warns us off from encroaching on its homeland, and ants build their intricate kingdoms.

A single, microscopic spermatozoon thrust among untold numbers finds an egg via communication. From this point of inception, the world as we know it goes round. A few years later, hegemonic gang leaders order the bombing and invasion of a country far away. Faith then moves mountains, resistance abounds, and a sparrow sings its song of a new tomorrow.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump arrives and speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer, as Vice President Mike Pence looks on, during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, March 24, 2020, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

Additional photos | Unless otherwise noted, all photos featured in this article are in the public domain.

Julian Cola is a translator (Brazilian-Portuguese to English). A former staff writer at the pan-Latin American news outlet, teleSUR, his articles and essays also appear in Africa is a Country, Black Agenda Report, Truthout, Counterpunch and elsewhere.

The post How Joeseph Goebbel’s Nazi Propaganda Gave Birth to Today’s Western Media appeared first on MintPress News.

With Microsoft Purchase of TikTok, US Tightens Grip Over International Media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 2:39am in

Following Donald Trump’s Friday announcement that he would ban the popular Chinese-owned video platform, Microsoft has today swooped in to hoover up TikTok after it received “personal assurances” from the president himself that he would back such a move. Trump has given the two parties up to 45 days to hash out a deal. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, values its U.S. operations at $50 billion, but it is not at all certain they will receive fair compensation, given their predicament. The platform is by far the most downloaded app in Apple’s app store, with over 800 million active users worldwide, including over 100 million in the United States, primarily members of Generation Z.

The move comes amid growing American aggression towards Beijing, ostensibly over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, its treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and demonstrators in Hong Kong, and, above all, its uneasiness at its growing economic power. Early last month the Trump administration began floating the idea of a TikTok ban, citing potential national security issues. When asked by Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham if Americans should use the app, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded: “only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok has strenuously denied that it works with the Chinese government, noting that American users’ data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access.

News of the imminent purchase excited the stock market, with Microsoft shares surging by five percent on their Friday totals. Given that the company is worth over $1 trillion, the news added $77 billion to Bill Gates’ company’s value, suggesting that traders believe they are receiving the deal of a lifetime. “Microsoft appreciates the U.S. Government’s and President Trump’s personal involvement as it continues to develop strong security protections for the country,” the tech giant said in a statement today.

The company is already a preferred partner of the administration and has a lot to be thankful to Trump for. In November it received a lucrative $10 billion contract to partner with the Pentagon to develop a cloud computing network that sees it instantly become one of the world’s largest military contractors. The decision to award Microsoft (and not Amazon) the deal was allegedly made on the behest of Trump himself, who disliked how he was being treated by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. Microsoft also has a long history of intimate collusion with government agencies, enabling them to spy on U.S. citizens. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that it worked with the FBI and NSA to allow them to circumvent their own encryption methods to gather information on hundreds of millions of worldwide users of its platforms, such as Skype and Outlook. Today, Microsoft said it is “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”


The Internet is the new battlefield

“What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen, suggesting that the Internet is the new battlefield and offering their company’s services to the White House.

Although giant new social media companies are thought of as transnational entities, most are, in fact, very much American corporations. While billions of people around the world rely on them for their news and entertainment, they are subject to strict American laws. In January, for instance, Facebook and its subsidiary platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp banned all positive mentions of General Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian leader assassinated in a U.S. drone strike. This was because the Trump administration deemed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an official extension of Iran’s military,  a terrorist organization. “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” Facebook explained. This is particularly problematic as Soleimani was Iran’s most popular living figure, with an over 80 percent approval rating, meaning that Iranians were banned from sharing a majority opinion online with other Iranians in Iran, speaking in Farsi, because what Trump had decided from the other side of the planet.

In its drive against fake news, Facebook also partnered with the Atlantic Council to decide what news to promote and what to censor and remove. The Atlantic Council was born out of NATO and has a board of directors including high government officials like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, ex-Generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus, and CIA chiefs like Leon Panetta, Michael Hayden, and Robert Gates. Similarly, Reddit’s Director of Policy is a former Atlantic Council deputy director, ensuring the popular website aligns with Western foreign policy goals. Meanwhile, a senior Twitter executive is an officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to information warfare and online psychological operations. U.S. government-funded think tanks also advise Twitter and other platforms on which websites to blacklist and which accounts to delete, leading to a huge reduction in traffic for alternative media and hundreds of thousands of critical voices silenced. Effectively then, the U.S. government is in control over much of what America — and the rest of the world — see online, creating something coming to resemble a global state-controlled media apparatus.

Even as the government attempts to frame the debate over the banning of Chinese companies like TikTok and Huawei over privacy concerns, it continues to try to ban the encryption of data and communications at home. This would essentially end even the pretense of online privacy, giving state agencies virtually unfettered access to any data it wished to see. Thus, it is possible that the forced transfer of TikTok to Microsoft may have far more to do with control over the means of world communication than genuine worries about our own civil liberties.

Feature photo | Microsoft founder Bill Gates gets in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 13, 2016. Seth Wenig | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post With Microsoft Purchase of TikTok, US Tightens Grip Over International Media appeared first on MintPress News.

The Big Cats, Part IX

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 1:00am in

“The Big Cats” is an ongoing poetry cycle written and read by Val Vinokur, and published weekly at Public Seminar. For...

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US Threatens European backers of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, NATO in DC’s Crosshairs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 12:35am in

The U.S. is starting to fret about the imminent completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the second of two underwater gas pipelines running from the Russian Baltic city of Ust-Luga to Greifswald, Germany, and has begun issuing informal threats of repercussions to companies who are backing the nearly-finished project. 

According to unnamed sources, at least a dozen American officials from three separate departments held video conference calls with European contractors working on the pipeline, while U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo reportedly warned private European backers of “risk[ing] the consequences” of continuing their support for the key energy infrastructure project.

Several European energy concerns, such as France’s Engie, Germany’s Wintershall Dea and Uniper and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell have indirect financial ties to the massive $11.7 billion-dollar underwater oil pipeline being constructed by Russia’s partially state-owned Gazprom, which will double Russia’s oil export capacity to Europe and seriously infringe on Atlanticist designs over the old continent.

Only six percent of the 1,200-mile pipeline remains to be laid in Danish waters, which is stalled due to U.S. sanctions against the European contractors working on that particular stretch. However, Denmark has recently circumvented the sanctions by licensing different vessels, and construction is set to resume by September.

Gazprom CEO, Alexei Miller disregarded claims that U.S. sanctions would stop the project from being completed, and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the pipeline would be commissioned before the end of this year. The completion of the Russian pipeline would mean a practical end to the viability of American LNG exports to Europe; a fate the U.S. has been trying to avoid since the project’s beginning in 2012.


US economic warfare

On July 15, the U.S. State Department updated its public guidance on sanctions against Russia and singled the pipeline project, imposing “sanctions on “a person” that “knowingly” invests in Russian energy export pipelines, or that sells Russia goods, technology or services for such pipelines where certain monetary thresholds are met.”

The revised Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) reverses previous stipulations, which contained explicit exemptions for any pipeline projects that were signed before the sanctions were made law. Nord Stream 2 falls within this category and given that the investment threshold for triggering sanctions is relatively low, practically “any significant work done to advance the Nord Stream II pipeline” could be at risk of being targeted by U.S. economic warfare.

The potential ramifications of the new guidance are significant in light of Germany’s clear interest in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project as well as their recent ascent to several key leadership roles within NATO and the EU. Tensions between the U.S. and Germany regarding the Atlanticist organization – punctuated by Trump’s intention to withdraw U.S. troops from the Teuton nation – have started to rise as a result of the pipeline’s unique potential to diminish American influence over its European partners.


The end of NATO

German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, admitted that the relationship between his country and the U.S. while remaining cordial, was now “complicated.” Meanwhile, a member of the German Bundestag (parliament), Christian Schmidt, called for the resumption of talks surrounding the inclusion of Russia into NATO; a topic that was last seriously considered in the 1990s during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Such rhetoric coming from a key U.S. ally in Europe and a vital NATO member could be the canary in the coal mine for an eventual trade war between the U.S. and the EU. In addition to Schmidt, who was Germany’s Minister of food and agriculture and the Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, a group of German MPs have outright stated that the revised CAATSA targeting the Nord Stream 2 project was nothing less than a “threat to European sovereignty.”

America’s unilateral strategy of economic aggression against its traditional allies in Europe is facilitated by its position as the number one trading partner of Europe and its second provider of goods and services after China. But the pressure to bow down to Washington’s dictates is starting to fray the boundaries of diplomacy and the threat of an actual trade war between the U.S. and Europe is becoming a strong possibility.

Even the Atlantic Council, a U.S.-controlled think tank for NATO policy, is beginning to question whether the military alliance “will still be relevant in the future” in a recent article recapping a debate similarly titled “Is NATO still relevant?.” The panelists were mostly of the same mindset when it came to the diminishing importance of the post-war Atlanticist alliance from the American perspective and making the argument that it no longer served U.S. “defense needs.”

Participants stressed China’s preeminent role as America’s new main antagonist and expressed skepticism over NATO countries’ willingness to provide any “military assistance” in U.S. efforts to contain China. “I don’t dislike NATO,” said Chicago University Professor, John Mearsheimer, “but we live in a completely different world. For most of my life, Europe was the most important area of the world. That’s no longer the case. The distribution of power has changed. Asia is the area that really matters the most to the United States today. The question is, what can Europe do [about China]? What can NATO do? My argument is it can do hardly anything. We have to wake up and smell the coffee.”

Feature photo | Tubes are stored in Sassnitz, Germany, to construct the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany, Dec. 6, 2016. Jens Buettner | DPA via AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post US Threatens European backers of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, NATO in DC’s Crosshairs appeared first on MintPress News.

Amid Escalating Tensions, US Warships Sail Just Miles off Coast of China

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 5:00am in

A U.S. warship and military aircraft were spotted traveling southwest from Japan towards China yesterday afternoon, in what some fear is a growing escalation of aggression towards Beijing. A Boeing P-8A Poseidon (hex code AE68A2), an anti-submarine aircraft appeared to be working in conjunction with the anti-submarine destroyer the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta, patrolling as close as 41 nautical miles from China’s maritime boundary, almost in sight of the city of Shanghai.

Earlier in the day, an Air Force Northrop Grumman E-8C reconnaissance plane (hex code AE1492) and a Navy Lockheed Martin EP-3E (hex code AE1D8A) reconnaissance aircraft surveilled China’s Fuijanese coast, the latter coming within 58 nautical miles of its boundaries before turning back. Today, the EP-3E was back, this time going west, following the coastline of China’s most populous province, Guangdong. The moves are believed by Chinese experts to be information gathering operations, attempting to track the positions of Chinese submarines and to pinpoint Chinese coastal defenses as the United States increases the tension on Beijing.

The U.S. military is currently conducting extensive wargames with Japan and Australia in the Philippine Sea, aimed at better training those involved for a future war with China. Those wargames do not appear to be a part of the maneuvers off of China’s coast. Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently accused the People’s Liberation Army as “continuing its aggressive behavior in the East and South China Seas,” stating that the U.S. was there to “deter against coercive [Chinese] behavior.”

The United States is also beginning to sever diplomatic relations with China. Last week, the Trump administration ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close, claiming it was a hub of spying activity.  Diplomats and embassy staff were jeered and heckled as they left for the final time, The Guardian reporting that American officials forced entry to the building, potentially a serious breach of international law. In retaliation, China ordered an American consulate in Chengdu to close. Going further, Florida Senator Rick Scott recently claimed every Chinese citizen in the U.S. is a Communist spy, arguing that foreign students should be treated with extreme suspicion.

American policymakers increasingly see China as a threat to U.S. hegemony. In 2011, the Obama administration announced its so-called “Pivot to Asia,” an attempt to encircle China with military bases in an attempt to crush it. This has been continued by Trump, who has consistently portrayed China as a U.S. enemy. The Pentagon’s 2021 budget calls for a move away from the Middle East and a focus on East Asia as America’s “priority theater.” The government has also attempted to shift both domestic and international blame for the COVID-19 pandemic onto China, Trump missing no opportunity to call it the “Wuhan China Virus.” The president has even committed the U.S. to leave the World Health Organization over its refusal to comply with censuring China.

While there has been no active fighting, the online information war is already raging. Last month a U.S.-funded think tank managed to convince Twitter to delete over 170,000 accounts sympathetic to China and its government, while the government is also considering outright banning the popular (Chinese-owned) video app TikTok. “I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News.

The negative media coverage appears to have had a profound impact on public opinion. Just nine years ago, Americans’ views on China were strongly favorable, but a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that a record 66 percent of the country now hold negative opinions about the country, only a quarter continuing to hold China in high regard.

While the activities of the U.S. military are noteworthy and potentially inflammatory, they are not unique. Indeed, only last month, it launched a similar operation off the coast of Venezuela. Describing it as a “freedom of navigation operation,” the U.S.S. Paul Nitze sailed within almost 12 nautical miles of the Venezuelan coast, accompanied in the sky by a Boeing RC-135W reconnaissance plane, with some postulating that the move was an attempt to gain information on the country’s coastal defenses in the light of an oft-rumored possible invasion, something President Trump reportedly stated would be a “really cool” thing to do.

In 2016 former senior Trump advisor Steve Bannon said that “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years…there’s no doubt about that.” While anti-war activists everywhere will hope otherwise, recent events suggest he may have been on to something.

Feature photo | In this photo provided by U.S. Navy, Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class James Benzel, from Louisville, Ohio, assigned to the Saberhawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron, signals an MH-60R Sea Hawk to disengage its rotors on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as USS Mustin (DDG 89) steams alongside in South China Sea, July 9, 2020. Erica Bechard | U.S.Navy via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Israel Rolls Out Dystopian Cyber Espionage Award for US-Backed Digital Saboteurs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 1:54am in

A “mastermind in the field of cyber espionage” will be awarded a lifetime achievement by the state of Israel in September. The “Israel Defense Award” ceremony is slated to take place in the residence of President Reuven Rivlin, himself a former member of the IDF’s intelligence corps, Haman, which is tasked with “collecting, disseminating, and publishing intelligence information.” In addition, prizes will also be handed out to members of three secret cybersecurity projects developed by Mossad, the IDF, the Shin Bet and MAFAT (Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure) that have made a “long-standing contribution to national security and for initiating many technological solutions”, not to mention the forging of close ties to the U.S. National Security state.

The identity of the “legendary” Israeli spy who is slated to receive the official commendation has not been revealed and has only been referred to as “Aleph“; said to be in his forties and well-known both in Israeli and American intelligence circles. He is described as a “phenomenon” of the cyber field who turned down a lucrative career in the tech industry in order to serve the national interest. The mystery-man was credited with creating a “significant part” of the work in Israeli cybersecurity by an unnamed acquaintance.

Current Israeli Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister, Benny Gantz announced the winners and heaped praise on Israel’s “human capital,” whose work proves that there are “no borders in the war on Israel’s security.” Indeed, this statement by the IDF’s former chief of staff can be corroborated by taking a look at the corporate partners who are a part of the winning projects; the first of which is a joint collaboration between the Israeli national intelligence agency, Mossad, the Rafael Company, the Israeli Air Force and a new IDF Intelligence Unit 9900, which “provided the IDF with unique capabilities” and “technological breakthroughs.” The Rafael Company, (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.), is also involved in the second project to be recognized by the Israeli state, along with Elbit Systems. Both of these companies have major cybersecurity contracts outside of Israel and the U.S., in particular


Critical infrastructure

Elbit Systems received a contract from the U.S. government last year to build an “integrated” surveillance system across the Arizona-Mexico border spanning over 200 linear miles. They have since deployed dozens of “sophisticated” cameras on towers along the border and have also secured multi-million dollar contracts to equip an unnamed Southeast Asian navy’s ships with their AI-enabled technology for “complex reconnaissance missions.”

The Rafael Company, meanwhile, is a major player in international weapons systems development and is the principal creator of the “Iron Dome” anti-missile technology through a  subsidiary company, mPrest. The Iron Dome software is currently running on “critical infrastructure systems” in the United States and has been a recent subject of concern for the U.S. military, who refused to integrate the software into its air defense systems after the Israeli company failed to provide the source code, resulting in the loss of a $600 million-dollar contract for the Tel-Aviv-based company.

The Rafael Company subsidiary, nevertheless, has partnered with several American utility companies, providing “mission-critical monitoring” services to sectors of the U.S. power grid. mPrest’s “System of Systems” has been integrated by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern Company – the second-largest utility company in the United States – and others. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) entered into a partnership with the Israeli company in 2017 to deploy their technology in a number of utility plants across the state.

In the official statement issued by Gantz announcing the prize winners, he gave special attention to the fact that their work “was done in secret,” while President Rivlin lauded the “long nights, days, weeks and months of exhausting and grueling work” put forward by the recipients of the Eliyahu Golomb award, named after the commander and chief architect of the Haganah (the Defence) militia – a paramilitary organization that would eventually become the IDF after the founding of the Jewish state and progenitor of terrorist organizations like Irgun and the Stern Gang.


Old collaborators

The history of the Haganah provides a unique look into the permanent relationship between certain U.S. interests and the state of Israel, dating back to its gestation period during the British mandate of Palestine, as well as a direct link to Israel’s present-day cybersecurity technology apparatus through a young RCA engineer from New York, Dan Fliderblum, who was recruited by the Zionist guerilla to set up a “network of secret radio transmitters in Palestine” to protect their illegal arms smuggling operation. Fliderblum would later change his name to David Avivi and pioneer the Isreali electronics industry.

At the time, an organized crime association comprised of the Sicilian and Jewish mafias, often referred to as “Murder, Inc.” controlled the Port of New York. Meyer Lansky, as leader of the New York crime families, was approached by Haganah operative and close aid to Ben-Gurion, Yehuda Arazi, to help move weapons to Palestine. Arazi was an underground agent who had been doing Ben-Gurion’s bidding throughout Europe for years and was sent to the United States by the future first Prime Minister of Israel to procure heavy armaments, including “aircraft, artillery pieces, tanks [and] antiaircraft guns.”

Jewish mobsters in the United States would henceforth play a pivotal role in obtaining and providing financial and other resources to the Haganah. Notorious Jewish gangsters, like Bugsy Siegel, Longy Zwillman, and Moe Dalitz, met with another Haganah agent every week in 1946 in the back of a Los Angeles restaurant to arrange or deliver money to finance the ongoing war in Palestine.

The extent of the mob’s involvement in these operations came to light when the FBI seized a B-25 bomber obtained by the “syndicate” was forced to return to Newark by bad weather, causing the entire shipment of aircraft, which included twenty AT-6 airplanes, to be confiscated.

As for the man whose name dons the prize Israel will award its undisclosed cyber-tech heroes in a few months’ time, it was his arguments in favor of a “much more extensive and orderly defensive force,” that convinced Ben-Gurion to move ahead with the creation of the IDF and, along with it, the establishment of less suspect partnerships that wouldn’t hinder the social advancement of the Jews involved, like the case of Miami mob figure Sam Kay, who it is claimed, was motivated to aid the Haganah’s arms-smuggling operation to “clean up” his own image and help his daughter marry up.


The candidates

The partners of today’s IDF-linked tech initiatives read more like a blue-chip investment portfolio than a police rap sheet, but the scope of the crimes dwarf those that occurred in the days of jukeboxes and trench coats. The myriad cybersecurity, AI, and IoT startups emerging out of Israel’s state-funded organizations have extensive ties to Fortune 100 companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and many others. The vast majority of these startups originate in military outfits like Unit 8200, which has been the center of offensive cyber warfare technology like Stuxnet, co-developed with the United States to take down an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010, among other covert operations and initiatives.

While Israel won’t reveal the names of the winners selected for the Israel Defense prize awarded every year for the past six decades, we can take a few educated guesses as to who might have been some of the finalists. People like Lior Div come to mind; founder of a cybersecurity company called Cybereason, which has been running simulations on behalf of the U.S. government of a foreign-hacked 2020 general election. The table-top exercise predicted dozens of dead Americans, hundreds injured, and an election that never happens.

Div fits the age-range given for the winner of the lifetime achievement award but would be eliminated from consideration if we take the claim seriously that the recipient shied away from the millions he could have made in the private sector. Lior Div’s company is currently valued at just over $1 billion and his own net worth can be assumed to be near that, at least.

There are other potential nominees, such as Amit Yoran, who certainly fits the bill of an individual who is “known in [the Israeli] and the American intelligence community” as reported in several pieces about the mysterious “Aleph.” Yoran fits the age profile, as well, and as former Cybersecurity chief at DHS has the credentials to be recognized in both the halls of the Mossad and CIA’s Langley headquarters. But, he too has thrown his hat into the private sector many times and is currently CEO of a cybersecurity firm called Tenable, which offers solutions to address “vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in your modern IT environment.”

If lifetime achievement is the true criteria, then former head of Mossad, Tamir Pardo, might be considered as the potential candidate that could claim that a “not insignificant part of [Israel’s Defense] work was created by him personally due to his special talent.” Pardo served under Bibi Netanhayu’s brother, Yoni’s military command, and has been a member of Israel’s top brass for a very long time. Pardo once described Mossad as a “criminal organization with a license.” But, far from a critique, Pardo followed his controversial statement by admitting it was “the fun part.”

Feature photo | Israel’s Electric Corp vice president, Yasha Hain, second left, and Ofir Hason, watch a cyber team work at the ‘CyberGym’ school in the coastal city of Hadera. Dan Balilty | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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Friends of the IDF Lobby Group Secures Forgivable US COVID Loans for Israeli Soldiers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 5:33am in

A non-profit organization that “that provides for wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)” was awarded a $2.5 million forgivable PPP loan by the (Small Business Administration) SBA. The Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) is the only organization “authorized to represent the IDF across the United States and Panama” where they claim to operate 20 regional offices, with a P.O. Box in New York.

The FIDF’s loan was filed under the category of “religious organization” in the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan data, despite the NPO being listed as a Y12 organization under the IRS’ NTEE classification system for non-profits: a “Mutual/Membership Benefit Organization,” which (in the case of FIDF) raises funds for issues relating to “foreign affairs and national security,” according to the tax-exempt organizations database published by ProPublica.

The FIDF is the largest donor organization to the IDF and its CEO, 33-year IDF veteran Maj. Gen. (res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, receives an annual salary of over $1 million. Klifi served as Netanyahu’s military secretary before retiring in 2010 and working as a security consultant, specializing in “national security and strategic planning for governments and agencies worldwide.” He was appointed to the top post of the FIDF in 2014. Questioned about the untoward “bonuses” of half a million dollars he was given by the NPO, Klifi justifies it by asserting that he “manages to raise three times as much as the second largest organization” and claims the job is one that “nobody is enthusiastic about,” despite perks like flying business class as a part of his contract.

The New York-based 501c3 organization raises the vast majority of its average annual haul of $113 million (over the period of Klifi’s tenure) through extravagant gala events and functions attended by major celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Larry King and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. Last October, the FIDF National Gala raised “a record” $37 million from top NY real estate leaders. “A Night of Heroes” featured a delegation of 20 IDF soldiers and several high profile guests. Klifi delivered a speech in which he called the IDF “an extraordinary force of humanity. Guided by its official ethical code, the Spirit of the IDF, which holds human life above all else.”


Charity for Murder

The IDF’s track record of holding “human life above all else” is laughable, at best. What Klifi calls an “extraordinary force for humanity” has engaged in a litany of human rights abuses and extrajudicial murder against the Palestinian people over decades and is the prime agent of Palestinian oppression by the Israeli state.

From aiding the wholesale dispossession of Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers to killing children with targeted headshots, the Israeli Defense Forces are anything but a boon for humanity. A timeline counting back to the year 2000 compares the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed since the Second Intifada began in that year. The tally shows the true mission of IDF in the world and exactly what the FIDF’s mission to “provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for [IDF] soldiers” really entails.

In May, the U.S. Senate approved a $38 billion-dollar package for Israel’s Defense establishment, allocating $3.8 billion a year over the next decade to “upgrade most of Israel’s fighter aircraft, improve its ground forces’ mobility and strengthen its missile defense systems.” The largest military assistance deal in American or Israeli history co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, however, seems to have stalled in the U.S. Congress.


Petty Cash

Fortuitously for Israel, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2021 was just passed in the Senate on Thursday – a virtual carbon copy of the House version – that includes the go-ahead for $3.3 billion to Israel based on the same (Memorandum of Understanding) MOU, which delineated the original $38 billion-dollar aid proposal.

The Pentagon’s $740.5 billion NDAA passed by an overwhelming majority of 86-14 and, in addition to the billions slated for Israel’s defense systems like the Iron Dome, it also sets aside millions for joint U.S.-Israeli public-private partnerships to develop “innovative medical projects primarily aimed at detecting and treating the coronavirus.” Furthermore, the Act calls for the establishment of a “US-Israel Operations Technology Working Group” to focus on battlefield technology and other Israeli grant programs.

With such massive windfalls of U.S. tax-payer cash for Israel’s war machine, it’s no wonder that Meir Klifi-Amir would display such condescension over challenges to his outsized salary and bonuses as chief executive of the Friends of Israeli Defense Forces NPO. “Petty people want to make headlines,” he complained. He would have “returned to Israel a long time ago,” he exclaimed, if it wasn’t for the “tremendous pressure” he is under to remain here and raise “three times as much as the second largest organization.”

Feature photo | In this Nov 26, 2015 photo, members of the Israel Defense Forces pose for a photo for social media. Twitter | @IDF

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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