The US Plans Endless Occupation and the Partition of Syria
| February 19, 2018 | 8:17 am | Syria, US Peace Council | No comments
The US Plans Endless Occupation and the Partition of Syria

U.S. Peace Council February 15, 2018

Since the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016, report after report of military victories by the Syrian government and its allies over the foreign jihadist mercenaries led some in the Western media to suppose that the war was all but over.
For a time, the Syrian war, which had claimed more than 400,000 lives and made refugees of millions of Syrians, moved out of the headlines. Some in the U.S. antiwar movement may have also allowed themselves to hope the war in Syria was winding down.
Unfortunately, the war in Syria is back in the headlines. Events are now moving fast.

  • The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria conducted air and artillery strikes against the Syrian Army recently, killing an estimated 100 “pro-regime fighters,” according to a coalition statement. Some were Russians according to reports. Thus, two nuclear-armed great powers are in direct conflict now in Syria.
  • Syrian jihadist “rebels” shot down a Russian warplane for the first time on February 3rd, and Russia’s defense ministry said the pilot was killed as he resisted capture by jihadists.
  • A third nuclear-armed state, Israel, is now fully in the war, primarily, it would seem, for anti-Iran reasons. On February 10, an Israeli F-16 warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria was shot down over central Syria by anti-aircraft fire. Israel is boasting its raids took out half the Syrian government’s air defenses.
  • The ideological offensive against Syria has resumed. Fresh “reports” from dubious sources such as “The White Helmets” and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — observing from England! — on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government appear in the U.S. corporate media and some “alternative” media. Such slanders can spread across the world in a heartbeat, while it takes months to disprove them — as they all have been disproved.[1]

During his campaign and in the early days of his Administration, Trump seemingly narrowed the US goal to the defeat of one terrorist group, ISIS (or ISIL), which since 2014 had won substantial territory in Syria and Iraq. He downplayed the goal of “regime change.” But the failure of the U.S., its NATO allies, and their proxies for seven years to overthrow the Syrian government forced Trump to switch from Obama’s direct attempts to oust the current Syrian government to Plan B, i.e., Trump administration’s attempt to adopt an indirect way to force a regime change in Syria.   The Obama Administration policy was clear enough: “regime-change,” i.e. ousting Syrian President Assad by means of proxies, the so-called “moderate rebels” — actually well-paid terrorist mercenaries recruited by means of social media from all over the Muslim world and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Their terrorism against the Syrian people was aided by Israel, Jordan and Turkey, with overall military coordination of the war by the U.S.   However, at his Stanford University speech on January 17, 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the main points of Trump Administration’s new version of U.S. policy toward Syria:

  1. Long-term presence of U.S. military forces engaged in combat operations;
  2. Expansion of the military mission from defeat of ISIS to also preventing Iranian influence in the post-ISIS Syria;
  3. “Stabilization” (that is, provision of humanitarian, economic, and political assistance) to areas under rebels’ control;
  4. National elections under United Nations supervision; and
  5. “[Rallying] the Syrian people and individuals within the regime to compel Assad to step down.”

In less convoluted terms, the Trump Administration’s Plan B seeks to achieve the U.S. goal of forced regime change through the following three consecutive steps:

  1. Step One: Partitioning of Syria and establishing permanent U.S. military bases in northern Syria, where the oil is;
  2. Step Two: Arming and training the rebel forces in the secured Kurdish areas; and,
  3. Step Three: Using the captured territories and the trained rebel forces under the command of Syria-based U.S. forces to impose a regime change in Damascus.

These are important facts about the new U.S. plan for Syria and the Middle East:

  • The U.S. is now directly engaged in illegally occupying Syrian territory, claiming rights to Syrian oil and attacking the Syrian army in the name of “self-defense.”
  • Officially, U.S. forces inside Syria number at least 2,000. The real count may be far higher. There are also many thousands of U.S. forces on ships in the Mediterranean or in nearby countries.
  • The 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are arming and organizing the 30,000-strong the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces,” a mix of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been the primarily fighting on the U.S. side in Syria.
  • Turkey has recently invaded northern Syria to attack the Syrian Kurds who live in northern border areas contiguous to Turkey. The Turkish government fears its own large, Kurdish minority’s rightful aspirations for national self-determination. Turkey fears that Syria’s north can become a staging area for a liberation struggle inside Turkey.
  • Normally, subservient Turkey was the conduit for most of the foreign mercenaries entering Syria. Now, the Turkish invasion, wholly illegal and unjustified, complicates U.S. occupation plans, which are also wholly illegal and unjustified.
  • The invasion has created an intra-NATO problem. Turkey is in NATO but has been drifting away from the U.S.-dominated war alliance with its recent major arms purchases from Russia.
  • Trump has done everything possible to strengthen the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis, which since 2011 has been the core support of the terrorist mercenaries in Syria.
  • In nearby Afghanistan, it is clear the U.S. has not won the 17-year war against the Taliban insurgency, so Trump is sending more U.S. troops to shore up the government in Kabul and forestall a humiliating U.S. defeat.

Trump’s overall military budget in 2018 will come to $716 billion. Under Trump, there is no turning away from interventionist wars that begun or continued by his predecessors, despite his campaign rhetoric to the contrary.     Tom Paine once wrote “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.…” Neither is US imperialism easily conquered, even though its power is waning.   Urgent action by U.S. peace movement is needed. We must urgently re-energize the work of the whole U.S. peace movement on Syria. At the upcoming, long overdue national antiwar actions for April 2018, the demand “Hands off Syria!” must be front and center.   _______________ [1] See, “Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People,” Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/now-mattis-admits-there-was-no-evidence-assad-using-poison-gas-his-people-801542

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Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
| February 18, 2018 | 6:51 pm | Announcements, Communist Party Canada | No comments

February 13, 2018

Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

This February 14th, as in past years, marches will be held across Canada to commemorate the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The February 14th marches demanding justice have been being held for almost three decades, but the current need for action is as great as ever before.

The Communist Party of Canada continues to stand in solidarity with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and all those fighting for an end to the ongoing violence.  We demand the government act now to deliver on long delayed promises to address the violence against Indigenous women and girls and to reset the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.

Indigenous women and girls have no other choice but to struggle against racist violence caused by capitalism, patriarchy, the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples and the denial of their national rights to self-determination. The lives of Indigenous women are shattered and cut short by this capitalist social crisis and the negative actions and inaction of the Federal government and police forces across the country.

Part of the fight to honour murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls is the ongoing fight for a national inquiry. One of the Trudeau government’s many promises to Indigenous peoples during the 2015 election was an immediate national inquiry. From the outset Indigenous women have been fighting for an inquiry capable of substantive action to stop the violence.

Included in this is the fight for the inquiry to include a review of individual files of murdered or missing women and of police conduct, after this was deliberately excluded from the initial terms of reference for the National Inquiry. Police actions and inaction are both a cause of violence towards Indigenous women, as in Val d’Or where police officers were the perpetrators of wide-spread sexual and physical assault, or in many cases of murdered women where police failed to take investigations seriously due to deeply ingrained racist views within law enforcement. After public demands from families and allies fought to have the scope of the inquiry widened there is now a commitment to include police behaviour and individual files in the terms of reference.

Indigenous leaders and women’s organizations have expressed serious concerns over communication with the families of victims, the transparency of the process, staff resignations, funding and timelines. In December of last year, a gathering of chiefs hosted by the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution calling on the Trudeau government to reset the inquiry by demanding that chief commissioner Marion Buller be replaced.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada, who have been campaigning for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls for four decades, issued a call to action in 2017 to demand a comprehensive inquiry: “We are not asking anyone, especially families, to be patient with this Inquiry as it progresses. We are asking that you remain strong and face adversity with the same determination that has made this Inquiry possible. In solidarity, we will not back down until this Inquiry is what we were promised.”

As calls for an inquiry reset mount and the report and recommendations lose credibility, we demand that the Federal government allow a new leadership for the inquiry to be named through a process of full engagement with Indigenous survivors and families.

The February 14th Day of Action to honour murdered and missing Indigenous women has been instrumental in breaking the silence. The Communist Party of Canada stands in full solidarity with these actions across the country. The fight for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women is bound together with the fight  for an equal and voluntary partnership of nations within Canada, for Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination and for an end to racism and discrimination.

Special resolution of the Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Feb 11th, 2018

Trump’s Tax Cuts, Budget, Deficits…Trump’s Recession 2019?
| February 16, 2018 | 9:20 am | Analysis, Donald Trump, Economy, Jack Rasmus | No comments

Trump’s Tax Cuts, Budget, Deficits…Trump’s Recession 2019?

Trump’s Tax Cuts, Budget, Deficits…Trump’s Recession 2019?

By
Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2018

“Lies and misrepresentation of facts have become the hallmark of American politics in recent years more than ever before. Not just lies of commission by Trump and his crew, but lies of omission by the mainstream media as well.

In Trump’s recent package of tax cuts for corporations, investors and millionaires, the lie is that the total cuts amount to $1.5 trillion—when the actual amount is more than $5 trillion and likely even higher. And in his most recent announcement of budget deficits the amounts admitted are barely half of the actual deficits—and consequent rise in US national debt—that will occur. Even his $1.5 trillion so-called infrastructure spending plan, that Trump promised during his 2016 election campaign, and then throughout 2017, amounts to only $200 billion. The lies and exaggerations are astounding.

The mainstream media, much of it aligned against Trump, has proven no accurate in revealing the Trump lies and misrepresentations: They echo Trumps $1.5 trillion total tax cut number and provide no real analysis of the true total of the cuts; they low-ball the true impact of Trump’s budget on US annual budget deficits and the national debt; and they fail to expose the actual corporate subsidy nature of Trump’s ‘smoke and mirrors’ infrastructure plan.

Trump’s multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for business, investors and the wealthiest 1%, plus his annual trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, plus his phony real estate industry handouts that parade as infrastructure spending together will lead the US economy into recession, most likely in early 2019. Here’s the scenario:

The massive deficits will require the central bank, the Federal Reserve, to raise short term interest rates. What’s called the benchmark federal funds interest rate will rise above 2% (currently 1.5%). The longer term 10 year US Treasury bond rate will rise to 3.5% or more. Those rates have already been rising—and their rise already provoking stock and bond market corrections in recent weeks which should be viewed as ‘dress rehearsals’ of more serious financial asset market retreats and contractions yet to come.

As this writer has argued repeatedly in recent publications, both the US real economy and financial markets (stocks, junk bonds, derivatives, etc.) are ‘fragile’ and increasingly susceptible to a significant downturn. In 2007-08 central bank interest rates rose to 5% and that precipitated a crash in subprime mortgage bonds and derivatives that set off the contraction in the economy. With the US economy not fundamentally having recovered from 2008-09 still to this day, and with household and corporate debt well above levels of 2008, it will take less of a rise in interest rates to provoke another similar reaction.

The US real economy is already weak. GDP numbers don’t reflect this accurately. Important sectors like autos and housing are softening or even stalling already. Consumption will falter. Consumers have loaded up on household debt. At $13.8 trillion, levels are equal or greater than 2007. They have also been depleting their savings to finance consumption in 2017-18. And despite all the recent media hoopla, there’s been no real wage gains occurring for 80% of the workforce in the US. Moreover, renewed inflation now occurring will reduce households’ disposable income and buying power even more this year. Rising taxes for tens of millions of households in 2018-19 will also negatively impact consumption spending. Don’t expect consumption to rise in 2018 as interest rates, taxes, and prices do. Just the opposite. Consumption makes up 70% of the US economy and it is now nearly exhausted. It will stagnate at best, and even retreat steadily beginning in the second half 2018.

Like the real economy, the US financial markets are fragile as well. They are in bubble territory and investors are getting increasingly edgy and looking for excuses to sell—i.e. take their super capital gains of recent years and run to the sidelines. A rise in rates much above the 2% and 3.5% noted will provoke a significant credit contraction (or even freeze). Money capital (liquidity) will dry up for non-bank companies, investment and production will be scaled back, layoffs will rise rapidly, and consumption will collapse—together bringing the economy down. It’s a classic scenario the forces behind which have been steadily building. And it won’t take too much more to provoke the next recession—likely in early 2019. The Federal Reserve’s plans to hike rates four more times this year will almost certainly set the scenario in motion.

Trump’s $5 Trillion Business-Investor Tax Cuts

Trump & Congress—with the mainstream media in train—say the Tax Cut Act just passed amounts to $1.5 trillion. But that’s not the true total value of the business tax cuts. That’s what they claim is the deficit impact of the tax cuts. (But even that deficit impact is grossly underestimated, as will be shown shortly).

Here’s the true value of the business-investor tax cuts:

1. $1.5 trillion cut due solely to reducing the corporate nominal tax rate from 35% to 21%.

2. Another $.3 trillion for the new 20% tax deduction for non-corporate businesses (lowering their effective tax rate from 37% to 29.6%).

3. $.3 trillion more for ending the business mandate for the Affordable Care Act

4. Still another, at minimum, $.5 trillion for a combined accelerated business depreciation writeoffs (a form of tax cuts for writing off all equipment added by business in the year purchased instead of amortized over several years); plus repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax for Corporations: and a roughly halving of the AMT for individuals. But that’s not all.

5. The wealthiest 1% households, virtually all investor class, get their nominal individual income tax rate reduced from 39.6% to 37%. Moreover, the 39.6% did not kick in until an income level of $426,000 was reached. Now the threshold for the even lower 37% does not start until $600,000 income is reached. All that amounts to at least another $.5 trillion in tax cuts.

That’s a total of $3 trillion so far in tax cuts in the Trump Plan. But the further, really big tax cuts come for US Multinational Corporations. Their ‘take’ will be another $2 trillion in tax reduction over the next decade.

The Multinationals have hoarded between $2-$2.7 trillion in cash offshore in order to avoid paying taxes on their earnings. But that $2 trillion is a gross underestimation. First of all, it’s a figure for only the 500 largest US multinationals. What about the hundreds of thousands of other US corporations that also have foreign subsidiaries in which they park their cash to avoid taxes? And what about the unreported cash and assets they’re hoarding in offshore tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Vanuatu and elsewhere? That too is not part of the $2.-$2.7 trillion. Another reason to doubt the $2 trillion is accurate is that they already had $2 trillion stuffed away offshore back in 2011-12. According to the business periodical, Financial Times, the largest US corporations by January 2012 “are collectively sitting on an estimated $2,000bn of cash”. Does anyone believe they stopped diverting profits and cash offshore after 2011-12 for the past five years?

If one conservatively estimates there’s $4 trillion in cash stuffed offshore to avoid taxes (accumulating since 1997 when Bill Clinton conveniently allowed them to begin doing so), the new Trump tax act allows them to pay a tax of only 10% on average if they ‘repatriate’ (bring back) that cash. If they paid the prior 35% tax rate, it would cost them $1.4 trillion in 2018-19, the first year of the Trump tax. But estimates of this provision in the Trump bill show they plan to pay only $339 billion. So they will be saving approximately $1.061 trillion in the first year alone. Thereafter for the next nine years they pay only 8% to 15.5%, instead of the 35%. That amounts to at minimum another $1 trillion in tax savings for multinational US corporations under the Trump tax.

6. In short, US multinational corporations will get a tax reduction of at least $2 trillion

The Trump tax cuts for businesses and investors thus total $5 trillion over the next decade!

So how do Trump, Congress, and the media get to only $1.5 trillion? Here’s how they do it:

They raise taxes on the middle class by $2 trillion in the Trump tax plan. That leaves the $5 trillion in business-investor cuts, minus the $2 trillion in middle class tax hikes, for a net $3 trillion in cuts. But they admit to only $1.5 trillion in net tax cuts. So where’s the difference of the other $1.5 trillion? That difference is assumed to be ‘made up’ (offset) by the US economy growing at a GDP rate of 3-3.5% (or more) for the next ten years—i.e. more than 3% for every year for ten more years without exception!

That 3-4% annual overestimated economic (GDP) growth for the US economy is based on ridiculous assumptions: that slowing long term trends in US productivity and labor force growth will someone immediately reverse and accelerate; that the US will now grow at double the annual rate it did the previous decade; and that there’ll be no recession for another decade when the historical record shows the typical growth period following recession is 7-9 years and the US economy is already in its 8th year since the last recession. (If there’s a recession, then the annual GDP growth for nine years will have to average close to 5% a year—a figure never before ever attained!).

It’s all Trump ‘smoke and mirrors’, lies and gross misrepresentations. But no matter, for its really all about accelerating the subsidization of corporations and capital incomes for the wealthiest 1% by means of fiscal policy now that the central bank’s 9 years of subsidization of capital incomes by monetary policy (i.e. near zero rates, QE, etc.) is coming to an end.

Trillion $Dollar US Deficits for Years to Come

The US budget deficit consequences of the Trump tax cuts are therefore massive. Instead of averaging $150 billion a year on average (the $1.5 trillion) the effect will be three to four times that, or around $300 to $400 billion a year!

On top of that there’s Trump’s latest US budget, which projects another $300 billion for the next two years alone. With the majority of that total $150 billion a year caused by escalation of the Defense-War budget as the US builds up its tactical nuclear, naval and air forces in anticipation of more aggressive US moves in Asia. Last year’s budget deficit was $660 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates deficits of $918 billion by 2019. Independent estimates by Chase bank put it at $1.2 trillion. And that’s just the early years and assuming there’s no recession, which will balloon deficits by hundreds of billions more in reduced tax revenues due to a contracting US economy.

Independent projections are for US deficits to add $7.1 trillion over the next decade. But that’s an underestimate that assumes not only no recession, but also that defense-war spending will not rise beyond current projection increases, and that government costs for covering price gouging by the healthcare and prescription drug industries (for Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, government employees) will somehow not also continue to accelerate. The likely true hit to US deficits—and therefore the US national debt—will well exceed $12 trillion! The US could easily see consecutive annual budget deficits of $1.5 trillion. That will mean a US debt total rising from current $20 trillion to $32 trillion (or more) over the coming decade.

From Tax Cuts, Deficits & Debt to the Next Recession

How does this potentially translate into recession? Here’s a very likely scenario:

The US central bank, the Fed, has already begun raising interest rates. That has already begun slowing key industries like auto and housing. It will soon impact consumers in general, who are near-maxed out with credit card, auto, student loan, and mortgage debt, and facing further accelerating inflation in rents, healthcare costs, transport, state and local taxation, and prices for imported goods.

The massive deficits will require the central bank to raise interest rates perhaps even faster and higher than before. Slowing foreigners’ purchases of US government bonds to pay for the accelerating debt, may require the Fed to raise rates still further. It’s 2007-08 all over again!

Rising Fed interest rates and inflation will also continue to depress bond prices. That has already begun, and to spill over to stock prices as the major contraction in stock prices in February 2018 has revealed. Both bond and stock prices are headed for further decline.

Should stock market prices correct a second time this year, this time by 20% or more, the contagion effects across markets will result in a general credit crunch for non-financial corporations and businesses. US corporate debt has risen even more than US household or government debt since 2009. The corporate junk bond markets will experience a crisis, as US Zombie companies (i.e. those in deep debt, an estimated 12% to 37% of all US corporations, depending on the source) cannot get new financing and begin to go bankrupt.

These stock and bond market effects, and emerging Zombie company defaults, will result in a general investment pullback by non-financial corporations. That will mean production cuts that result in layoffs and further wage stagnation and slowing consumption spending. The next recession will have begun.

The Central Bank (FED) Will Precipitate the Next Recession—As It Did in 2007

This scenario is all the more likely if the general argument that the US economy is both financial and non-financially weak and fragile is accurate. The weakness in the real economy and fragility in the financial markets mean that Fed interest rate hikes cannot exceed 2.0%, and longer term rates (10 year Treasury bonds) cannot exceed 3.5%, before the system ‘cracks’ once again and descends into recession. With the Fed rates at 1.5% and approaching 2% and the Treasury at 3% and approaching 3.5%, the US economy today is well on its way to approaching its limits.

Just as it was interest rates peaking in 2007 that precipitated (not caused) the crash in (subprime) mortgage bonds, that then spilled over through financial derivatives to the rest of the credit system—today the bond markets may once again be signaling the ‘beginning of the end’ of the current cycle. The new contagious derivatives may not be mortgage based bonds and CDO and CDS financial derivatives, as in 2008; the new financial contagion will be driven by the new financial derivatives—i.e. Exchange Traded Funds(ETFs), and related ETNs and ETPs—with their effects amplified by Quant hedge funds’ automated algorithm-based trading.

In summary, Trump tax cuts and Trump’s budget will exacerbate US budget deficits and debt and cause the central bank to raise interest rates even faster and higher. Those rate hikes cannot be sustained. They will lead to another credit crisis—this time even sooner than they did in 2007 given the even weaker US economy and more fragile financial markets. The next recession may be sooner than many think.

Dr. Jack Rasmus

Dr. Rasmus is author of the recently published books, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017, and ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy, Clarity, 2016. His forthcoming book later in 2018 is ‘Taxes, War & Austerity: Neoliberal Policy from Reagan to Trump’, Clarity Press. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and tweets at @drjackrasmus

Military Conflict Between East and West Has Never Been Closer
| February 14, 2018 | 8:07 pm | Analysis, Israel, John Wight, Middle East, Russia, Syria, Turkey, USSR | No comments
https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201802141061656523-syria-east-west-conflict/
Israeli soldiers stand guard near the Israeli Syrian border next to the town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights

Military Conflict Between East and West Has Never Been Closer

© AFP 2018/ MENAHEM KAHANA
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John Wight
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Recent events in Syria serve to illustrate the dire consequences of a unipolar world. They also provide further confirmation that international law now belongs to the realm of fiction when it comes to Washington and its allies, for whom exceptionalism is the natural order of things.

There is compelling evidence to speculate that what is now being attempted by the US in Syria, with its occupation of a large swathe of territory in the north west of the country, is a re-run of the Balkanisation of Yugoslavia in the 1990s — a sovereign state broken up and dismembered after the collapse of the Soviet Union in service to the unipolar world that had just come into being as a result.

The break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a state born out of the carnage of the Second World War, was stark evidence that for hawks within the US political and military establishment the Cold War had not ended it had been won – won by dint of America’s divinely chosen position as the “indispensable nation”, a credo first articulated by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during an NBC interview in 1998.

READ MORE: Syria of Discord: Iran, US Clash Over Military Presence on Ground

Thus triumphalism abounded within the corridors of power in the land of the free, which cheered on by its willing vassals — such as Tony Blair’s UK government, and various eastern European satellites harbouring unresolved anti-Russian animus — produced an intoxication with overwhelming military power and strength, encapsulated in the eastward expansion of NATO.

The unending wars and military interventions that have been embarked by the US and its allies since the 1990s, rather than push the frontiers of democracy, have produced nothing but human misery, chaos, and instability. And on a scale hitherto absent.Syria is only the latest country and society to experience the tender mercies of Washington’s self-ordained role as the world’s policeman. It does so not with the objective of maintaining the world as a safe place or democracy or human rights, as tirelessly claimed, but so that global corporations are able to function and prosper and exploit the world’s human and natural resources unimpeded. They call it free market economics. A much more accurate name is’ disruptive unfettered capitalism’, an economic model which is no respecter of borders or cultures, no respecter of even the concept of the nation state.

The presence of US military forces in Syria is illegal. This is a fact that no amount of obfuscation or dissembling can elide. It poses a threat to the security and stability not only of Syria but the entire region. The idea that the presence of US military forces in the country, or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter, is necessary to bolster security and stability, this is an exercise in peddling fiction. Just ask the people of Iraq or Libya, two countries laid waste by Washington and its allies, if you do not believe me.

READ MORE: Drone Captures Syrian Kurdish Militants Hit by Airstrike in Afrin (VIDEO)

Adding to the pot of instability and US-inspired mayhem in the Middle East is the news that the gargantuan US military budget for 2019 is to include $300 million for the training and equipping of the SDF, Washington’s proxy ground force in Syria, in addition to $250 million to fund the ‘border security force’ in the country that’s been mooted. By way of a reminder, as with the SDF the planned border security force will largely comprise Syrian Kurds attached to the YPG. All this, it’s worth recalling, is being undertaken in clear violation of Syria’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the very epitome of might is right, redolent of that which sustained the Roman Empire.

The seeming willingness of the Trump administration to rupture its alliance and relationship with fellow NATO member, Turkey, with its commitment to arming and training the Kurds across Ankara’s southern border is remarkable, not to mention inexplicable. President Erdogan’s government has made no bones about the fact it considers it a threat to Turkey’s security, and has pledged to act accordingly. Indeed with its Operation Olive Branch military campaign against the YPG in Afrin, northern Syria, currently underway, involving ground forces deploying across the border in the process, the Erdogan government is making good on this pledge.

The fact is that along with Israel, Turkey is now exploiting the crisis and conflict in Syria to violate its sovereignty with wilful abandon.

It requires neither an abiding love or Russia nor a burning hatred of America to understand the necessity of a world in which no one nation is able or inclined to arrogate to itself the right to exercise global hegemony. Empires are doomed by virtue of the very premise upon which they exist, which is that nations and peoples can be dominated and subjugated by other nations. They cannot. Or at least they cannot over a sustained period.

If history teaches us anything it is that those who seek to dominate only succeed in sowing dragon’s teeth, inviting blowback and backlash. The monster that is Salafi-jihadism and the ensuing spate of terrorist attacks across the world in recent years leaves no doubt of it.

The need to check the untrammelled power of Washington is self-evident. Since the Soviet Union was consigned to history in the early 1990s, the US has rampaged across the world like an out of control juggernaut of death and destruction. It has done so regardless of the administration or president occupying the White House.In Donald Trump, a man for whom subtlety is an alien concept, we have ourselves a US president who cannot seem to make up his mind whether he is a recurring character in the Sopranos or the elected leader of the world largest economy and nuclear power.

With his presidency, the sheer reckless, aggressive and capricious character of it, the time has come to pose the question: Who will save us from America?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Sudan: Perilous Crossroads on Refugee Map
| February 12, 2018 | 9:17 pm | Africa | No comments

AfricaFocus Bulletin February 12, 2018 (180212) (Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

Sudan is one of the central crossroads for African migrant journeys, particularly for refugees from Eritrea and other counties in the Horn of Africa. The international media spotlight falls most often on the deadly crossing of the Mediterranean or slave auctions in the Libyan desert. But the vulnerability and deadly perils facing those forced to flee by war, repression, or the struggle for economic survival extends to a far wider terrain, of which Sudan is one example.

Most African forced migrants, in fact, are displaced within their own countries (http://www.internal-displacement.org/) or have sought refuge in immediately neighboring countries, which bear the primary burden of hosting them. In sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 alone, there were an estimated 2.6 million people newly displaced by conflict, the largest numbers within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. African countries host more than 20 million displaced persons, more than Europe and the Americas combined (http://reporting.unhcr.org/population).

Most African migrants, moreover, as stressed by a recent report to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), do not fit the pattern of displacement, but are similar to migrants elsewhere in the world. They “move for reasons of work, study, and family” and “are not from the poorest section of their societies of origin.” This 33-page report, although too detailed to easily excerpt here, is essential for anyone wanting an empirical overview of migrant flows in and out of Africa. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/y9vgjake. It does not deny the reality of the perils of forced migration, but it makes clear that solutions will be elusive as long as policy-makers do not accept the legitimacy and normality of migration as such.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a report on how European Union support for Sudan to contain migrant flows promotes the systematic abuse of migrants involving both state security forces and criminal gangs. Also included, for a wider context, are links to a selection of recommended articles and reports highlighting other places and analyses.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/sudan.php

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on migration, visit http://www.africafocus.org/migrexp.php

In particular see June 19, 2017 Africa/Europe: Mediterranean Trajectories http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/migr1706.php

March 6, 2017 South Africa: Targeting Immigrants, Again http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/migr1703.php

November 17, 2016 Somalia: Rising Threats to Dadaab Refugees http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/som1611.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Recent Sources on African Refugees: Sudan

“Sudan: The E.U.’s Partner in Migration Crime,” Refugees Deeply, Jan. 29, 2018 http://tinyurl.com/ybgpt77o

Recent Sources on African Refugees: Israel

“Prison or deportation: The impossible choice for asylum seekers in Israel,” IRIN News, 31 Jan. 2018 http://tinyurl.com/ybbq9ps9

“Stop Deportations and Grant Asylum to African Refugees in Israel,” Jews of Color, 27 Dec. 2017 [includes short video: Do Black Lives Matter in Israel?] http://jocsm.org/signhere_stopdeportingrefugees/

Recent Sources on African Refugees: Other

“How weavers in Burkina Faso are now on Europe’s migration front line,” IRIN News, 6 Feb. 2018 http://tinyurl.com/yascqta4

“Human smugglers operate as ‘independent traders,’ study finds,” University of Cambridge, 22 Jan. 2018 http://tinyurl.com/y9ee3dcm

“6 years, 8 countries: A Refugee Couple’s Harrowing Search for Safety,” Nation, Feb. 9, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/y8vf7seg

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, “Externalizing brutality to Libya is not an answer to displacement,” European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 1 Dec. 2017 http://tinyurl.com/ybdmmjxx

Recent Sources on Global Migration: Structural Analyaes

“Moving Targets: An Analysis of Global Forced Migration, Haas Institute, September 2017 [64-page research report] http://tinyurl.com/yak3kfsn

Hein de Haas, Sonja Fransen, “Social transformation and migration: An empirical inquiry,” International Migration Institute Network, Jan. 2018, [40-page working paper] http://tinyurl.com/y9jus7j7

Inside the EU’s flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan

Without addressing the root causes of migration, only corrupt government officials and traffickers are benefiting from criminalising migrants

Caitlin L. Chandler

IRIN News, Khartoum, 30 January 2018

http://www.irinnews.org – Direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/yac6xac5

Key Points

  • The EU has allocated over $200 million to help Sudan stem migration since 2015
  • Asylum seekers allege Sudanese officials are complicit in abuse, extortion
  • Traffickers said to hold people for weeks, beat and torture them for money
  • Arrivals in Italy from Horn of Africa fell to a fraction in 2017, but new routes are opening up
  • Crackdown has seen asylum seekers rountinely rounded up, taken to Khartoum to pay fines or be deported
  • The EU insists strict conditions govern the use of its money and it is monitoring for abuses

As millions of dollars in EU funds flow into Sudan to stem African migration, asylum seekers say they are increasingly trapped, living in a perpetual state of fear and exploitation in this key transit country.

In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault.

The pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU’s migration policies are making a difficult situation worse.

Across Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, some 30,000 Eritrean, Ethiopian, and other African refugees are crammed into decrepit, non-descript houses, waiting for their chance to escape the country and make it to Europe.

Sudan’s previously porous northern border with Libya has become increasingly dangerous to cross after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir deployed the former Janjaweed – a paramilitary group implicated in war crimes during the Darfur conflict – in 2015 as border guards.

This militia, re-named the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and integrated into Sudan’s army in January 2017, arrests asylum seekers and hands them over to the police, who detain, fine, and deport them for illegal entry – regardless of whether returning them to their countries will result in torture or imprisonment.

Tortured for money

The Shagarab refugee camp appears out of nowhere, a sprawling, dusty settlement in eastern Sudan near the Eritrean border, two hours by road from the main town of Kassala, through a series of tightly controlled checkpoints that require police permission to pass.

Some 40,000 refugees, primarily Eritreans, are registered at Shagarab, but it feels deserted. For many Eritreans, the camp is only a temporary stop for two or three months before the next stages of their journey, on to Khartoum, and then on to Libya or Egypt, before the final goal of Europe.

Inside Shagarab’s centre for unaccompanied minors, teenagers watch TV and stay glued to their mobile phones, eager to be in contact with the outside world. But some have experienced awful abuse at the hands of traffickers as they escaped from Eritrea – one of the world’s most oppressive states – and into Sudan.

Dawit*, 17, fled Eritrea to escape military conscription – in a country where unpaid army service can last for years – travelling first to Ethiopia and then hiring smugglers to take him into Sudan.

He couldn’t pay the smugglers up front, and so once inside Sudan was trafficked and held for ransom in Hajer, a town almost all Eritrean refugees interviewed by IRIN mentioned as a place to avoid.

“Sudanese smugglers tortured us for the payment,” said Dawit. “They stripped us naked and beat us with whips while our families were on the [telephone] line. New arrivals had two-three days after arrival to pay before being beaten.

“Those who had been there longer were beaten every day. The women fared even worse – men would come, pick them out, and take them away. When they returned, they were bleeding and crying.”

Dawit said that after being held for five days, the smugglers got a call warning them that there was about to be a police raid, and they all escaped.

The tip-off is entirely in keeping with numerous accounts of the involvement of Sudanese officials in the trafficking industry.

Sudan has long been a transit country for Eritreans and others on the move, as well as a country people flee from.

Sudan’s increasing criminalisation of refugees and migrants, as well as conditions in Libya, where the EU backs the Libyan coastguard to capture refugees at sea and return them to detention centres, have contributed to a steep drop in the number of people arriving in Italy.

In 2016, 40,773 refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa arrived in Italy; in 2017, only 8,688 people made it.

Yet young Eritrean men and women in Khartoum and Kassala told IRIN they had no intention of remaining in Sudan, despite being aware of the risks of using smugglers to take them through Libya and Egypt, where they can experience torture and death.

Some said they would wait for new, safer routes to open, while others were working as maids and daily labourers to raise enough money to start the journey as soon as possible.

“When I came from Eritrea, I was kidnapped for two weeks. I didn’t know where I was, and I was raped many times. So, nothing [worse] will happen to me. All of us left our families behind,” said a young Eritrean woman in Khartoum. “We’ll take the risk of going to Europe.”

Over the past two years, the EU has allocated more than $200 million in migrationrelated funds to Sudan, part of its broader strategy to outsource migration control to third countries.

EU financing for border management includes training and equipment for border police, capacity building for the judiciary, and legal reforms to encourage increased arrests and prosecution of traffickers and smugglers.

This support is despite the fact that the Sudanese government has for years been condemned for its human rights record – al-Bashir has an outstanding arrest warrant for crimes against humanity issued by the International Criminal Court.

The EU sidesteps accusations it is working with Sudan’s repressive security apparatus by arguing that it doesn’t fund the government directly, rather it funnels its aid through international organisations, including UN agencies.

But these EU partners are willing to work with controversial arms of the Sudanese government.

For example, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, confirmed to IRIN it has provided motorbikes in Kassala to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) – a spy service responsible for the arrest, torture, and detention of human rights activists and the government’s political opponents.

Extortion and abuse

In densely populated Khartoum neighbourhoods like al-Geraif and al-Daim, groups of 10 to 15 Eritrean refugees live in sub-divided shanty houses. Rooms are occupied by entire families or as many as eight single young men and women at a time.

Many rely on donations from family members abroad to afford food, children’s school fees, and other basic expenses. Those without family support are destitute, eating only one meal a day, without access to proper sanitation or medical care.

Filmon, 21, arrived in Sudan in November 2016 from Ginda, Eritrea. He shares a dirty, cramped room with five other young men. Until recently, it lacked a latrine.

“Life in Khartoum is very hard. I don’t get enough money or good work and it’s not a safe area,” he told IRIN. “I’ve been asked [by the police] about my cards, my refugee card, regularly. I think about going to Europe through Libya – I have no choice,” he said.

Although Sudan has a policy that refugees must live in camps, the majority of Eritreans either stop in them just long enough to claim asylum status and collect an identification card, or head directly for Khartoum. Many have travelled with smugglers, and some have experienced trafficking, violence, and sexual assault crossing into Sudan or once inside.

In Khartoum, they find a prison of a different kind. Refugees report being terrorised by the police, who enter their neighbourhoods – sometimes in the middle of the night – and extort and detain people for not having ID cards. Cash and valuables are routinely stolen.

Sara is a bubbly young Eritrean woman who attends henna training classes. She told IRIN how she was arrested on the street for not having her refugee card, and at the police station was offered a choice: “If you want to be free, you will have sex with us.”

Sara, who was 17 at the time, narrowly avoided being raped because her 19-year-old female companion went with the policemen instead.

Feeding corruption

Each month, police funnel hundreds of refugees and migrants through courts in Khartoum, where they are charged with violating Sudan’s Passport and Immigration Act and fined the equivalent of $360.

If they do not pay the fines, they are deported to their home country, usually without having the opportunity to consult a lawyer or claim asylum, even though some may have experienced violence, torture, and other acts in Sudan or in their home countries that could qualify them.

Hundreds of Eritreans have been extradited over the past two years, including some who were registered as refugees. Deporting an asylum seeker back to the country they fled from and where they face persecution is known as refoulement, and it is a violation of the UN Refugee Convention.

Lawyers working to represent refugees in court before they are extradited describe a justice system that is just as corrupt as the police force.

“In many cases the traffickers are let go because they have police officers as [defence] witnesses,” said Khalid, a lawyer working in Khartoum. “There are trials where 250 refugees are arrested, and each one is fined. It happens so fast – the process of being arrested, the trial and the conviction – and the judge and the police force responsible get a cut of the money. These judges are the same ones who were trained by the British embassy.”

The Khartoum Process

Europe’s focus on curbing migration from Sudan began in November 2014, with the launch of the Khartoum Process – a dialogue between the EU and Horn of Africa countries to combat trafficking and smuggling. It initially emphasised protection and human rights, but in operation its focus has been a law enforcement response to migration.

In 2015, Brussels created a special pot of money – the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa – to assist the Khartoum Process in addressing the root causes of migration and fighting trafficking and smuggling.

An Oxfam analysis found that of the €400 million allocated through the fund, only three percent went towards developing safe and regular routes for migration. The bulk was spent on migration control.

Police Lieutenant General Awad al-Neel Dahiya, head of the Ministry of Interior Passports and Civil Registry Authority and a key interlocutor for the EU’s migration efforts, believes the focus is justified.

“As a matter of fact, we have very long borders – 7,000 kilometres plus,” he told IRIN. “Compared to our resources, it is very difficult to control – maybe we can be assisted by technology, so we can control the influx, as well as those going out – whether its Sudanese [people or people from] other countries passing through Sudan.”

But Sudanese specialists say the EU is operating on the flawed assumption that the government is sincere in wanting to end the lucrative trafficking business.

“There is a lack of political will from the Sudanese government to fight trafficking,” Rifat Makawi, another lawyer in Khartoum, explained. “Creating new policies and drafting laws is just done by the government to please Western countries. On the ground, nothing changes.”

A recent report from the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat noted that despite the flurry of anti-smuggling and trafficking efforts, new smuggling routes continue to open across the Horn, with Eritrean and Sudanese smuggling networks gaining influence.

One estimate puts the profits of the smuggling business on the northwestern route from the Horn of Africa to Europe at approximately $203 million in 2016.

An uncomfortable alliance

The US State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report concludes that Sudan “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”

Human Rights Watch has accused the security forces, including the RSF, of colluding with human traffickers and smugglers rather than investigating them.

The EU’s interest in managing migration has precipitated a sharp shift in how member countries engage with Khartoum. For years, European governments avoided dealing with al-Bashir because of the ICC arrest warrant and his rights record, but there has been something of a sea change.

The UK is now engaged in a biannual “strategic dialogue” focused on migration, trade, and counter-terrorism. Italy has signed a policing agreement on trafficking, irregular immigration and terrorism; and Norway is discussing an agreement to facilitate easier deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers. Belgium recently allowed Sudanese security officials to vet asylum-seekers; those who were then deported back to Sudan were detained, interrogated and tortured.

Michael Aron, the UK ambassador to Sudan, said the EU can influence police behaviour through dialogue. “There are people we talk to in the police who are definitely trying to do the right thing,” he explained. “We should be helping the good guys so they can increase their influence over decision-making and gradually get the situation more under control.”

Meanwhile, over the past three years, the Sudanese government has made it clear it expects the EU to provide funds and equipment for its migration control efforts.

The head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan, regularly boasts about the RSF’s role in assisting the EU. He recently told Al Jazeera: “[The EU] lose[s] millions in fighting migration, that’s why [it has] to support us.”

The EU ambassador to the Sudan, Jean-Michel Dumond, rejects criticism of Europe’s relationship with Khartoum. “We have been accused of all the sins of the world, and it’s quite clear we have never cooperated with the RSF – we have no link,” he told IRIN. “[EU] aid is given [under] very clear conditions.”

Meanwhile, former border control officials from European countries are arriving in Khartoum as consultants, replacing development experts in some international agencies. One of the latest EU-funded projects is a Regional Command Center in Khartoum (ROCK), to be run by Civipol out of the Sudanese police training compound.

“The migration issue is becoming like the Darfur crisis, it’s a business,” said Fatima, a Sudanese journalist covering migration who also pointed to the creation of numerous new government charities that have started turning up at migration-related meetings. “Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” she added.

“Where to keep them?”

Yusef, an Eritrean refugee, tried to head to Europe in 2014 via Libya, but was returned to the Sudanese border by a militia in Libya. There, he was arrested, along with hundreds of other refugees.

The Sudanese border guards brought Yusef to the northern town of Dongola that now serves as an informal detention facility for refugees captured at the border.

On the three-day journey, Yusef alleges that over 50 people died from lack of food, water, and medical care. Their pleas for help went unanswered. “We told them our friends are dying, are thirsty, hungry, suffering. They don’t protect you,” he told IRIN.

In Dongola, Yusef was kept in a large compound along with hundreds of other people. Eight Bangladeshi men in the facility paid and were immediately released, along with a number of Somalis and Sudanese. But the Eritreans and Ethiopians were detained for a month.

Yusef said he counted nine people who died due to lack of medical care. Representatives of the UN visited – a team of four foreigners with an Eritrean translator – and told the inmates that if they had a refugee card they could go back to the Shagarab refugee camp in eastern Sudan, or else they would be deported.

Yusef had a refugee card but did not trust the UN or the Sudanese government to protect him. To avoid being sent back to Eritrea, where he could likely face torture and imprisonment, Yusef claimed to be Ethiopian. He was deported to Ethiopia, and crossed back into Sudan a few weeks later.

Monitoring from afar

The EU is now planning to work in Dongola through its flagship Better Migration Management project, a $46 million regional programme run by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in partnership with the International Organization on Migration (IOM), Italian police and Civipol, a consulting wing of the French ministry of interior, among other organisations.

“The proposal came from us, because we have nowhere to keep people,” said Dahiya, the head of Sudan’s Ministry of Interior Passports and Civil Registry Authority. “Every month we have to intercept almost 100 or sometimes 500 irregular migrants; we have to process their return and their protection – it gives us real challenges – where to keep them?”

According to the UK ambassador, BMM will set-up a centre in Dongola to help receive the arrested refugees and migrants. But it’s not clear how human rights abuses will be monitored, especially somewhere where there are no international NGOs or observers at present.

Martin Weiss, the BMM project head in Germany, insists the programme aims to protect migrants.

“BMM is not about border surveillance, but about protecting refugees, facilitating migration, and improving conditions for people who are fleeing their homes,” he wrote in an email. “At present, many refugees are vulnerable to violence, slavery or rape. We want to provide an effective response to the problem.”

But the EU and its partners don’t appear to have a viable strategy to mitigate human rights abuses. In the case of the BMM project, the EU and GIZ claim that its steering committee – composed of the European Commission, Germany, UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands – oversees human rights risks remotely from Brussels.

“The steering committee has a clear view of what is possible and what is not possible,” said Dumond, “and we don’t think there is a big risk [of human rights violations as a result of EU funding].”

He added that EU officials frequently go on mission in Sudan to assess conditions first-hand.

But such visits are tightly controlled by the government and the security services. When IRIN visited Shagarab, for example, police and NISS officers followed, transcribing every interview.

The EU and GIZ also declined to show country specific budgets for Sudan for the BMM programme. That opacity is a way to escape “accountability and scrutiny”, explained Giulia Laganà, a migration specialist at the Open Society European Policy Institute, via email.

Rethink needed

The situation Yusef faced in Eritrea forced him to leave. Stricter border controls did not deter him in striving for a better life, and neither did the rights abuses he encountered. Yet there is no indication the EU is open to adjusting its migration management strategy in the face of mounting criticism that its approach in Sudan is not only ineffective but also causing harm.

“The real root causes of migration are very complex,” said Dumond. “You cannot hope to address all these problems and have quick solutions in a few months.”

But a new report from the International Refugee Rights Initiative, The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), and The Centre for Human Rights Law at SOAS, University of London, argues that a re-think is urgently needed.

“As barriers are created without sufficient alternatives being offered, people are taking greater and greater risks and journeys are becoming increasingly dangerous,” the study found. “The only people benefitting … are the smugglers and traffickers.”

Caitlin L. Chandler reported from Sudan with a fellowship from the International Reporting Project (IRP)

*To protect their identities, sources referred to by a first name only have had their names changed.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org

If this issue was forwarded to you by email, and you want to receive AfricaFocus Bulletin regularly, sign up here.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org

 

‘Telling the vain from the profound’: Ex-Ecuadorian president’s show to premiere on RT
| February 11, 2018 | 9:59 pm | Ecuador, Julian Assange, Rafael Correa | No comments

https://www.rt.com/news/418494-ecuador-president-correa-show/

‘Telling the vain from the profound’: Ex-Ecuadorian president’s show to premiere on RT

‘Telling the vain from the profound’: Ex-Ecuadorian president’s show to premiere on RT
Ecuador’s 43rd president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) invites the world’s top politicians and public figures to appear on his new show ‘Conversations with Correa’ (Conversando con Correa), premiering March 1 on RT en Español.

Correa is to become the first former president to host a program on the channel. The weekly show will touch upon the world’s major social and political problems.

“Life gave me the privilege to learn what the theory and the crude reality are all about, and thus to be able to tell the vain from the profound, the wise from the foolish, the changing from the immutable,” Correa said, defining the topics he wants to discuss with his guests.

“I don’t want to interview them, I want to have deep conversations with them,” the politician said in a video promoting the show.

It was Correa who in 2012 granted asylum to Julian Assange, the co-founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, despite criticism from the UK. Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. British police say they will arrest him for breach of bail conditions if he steps outside.

“We are particularly proud that he was the president of a country that supported my friend and a hero to an entire generation, Julian Assange, when Assange got caught up in the West’s ‘freedom of expression’ apparatus,” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said.

Correa appeared for several interviews on RT while he was in office. In 2014, RT viewers were given a sneak peek of the Ecuadorian president’s everyday life when he featured in channel’s ‘One Day With…’ (‘Un Dia Con’) program.

The former Ecuadorian leader is not the first politician to host a program on RT. Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond debuted his political chat-show ‘The Alex Salmond Show’ in November 2017. Lebanese President Michel Aoun as well as Catalonian independence leader Carles Puigdemont, who remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels, are among Salmond’s illustrious guests.

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American Fascist: Nazi Runs Unopposed for US Congress in Republican Primary
| February 11, 2018 | 9:54 pm | Fascist terrorism, political struggle | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/us/201802121061566384-nazi-runs-unopposed-to-US-congress-in-republican-primary/

The US Congress building. (File)

American Fascist: Nazi Runs Unopposed for US Congress in Republican Primary

© AFP 2018/ MLADEN ANTONOV
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Holocaust denier and avowed white supremacist Arthur Jones is running uncontested in the Illinois Republican Primary for the US Congress.

This is the same Jones that recently told The Atlantic that he doesn’t like to call himself a Nazi, but prefers to be referred to as a “white racialist” and that people with white skin are smarter than those whose skin is a different color than his.

“I will work with the [Ku Klux] Klan, with socialists — I exclude communists of course — any patriotic organization that is in general agreement with my beliefs and principles,” Jones said, who has already tried to run for Congress five times beginning in 1998.

Jones, a health-insurance agent, was a member of the National Socialist White People’s Party, previously known as the American Nazi Party, for nearly eight years. He has also been a member of America First Committee since the 1980s, the Atlantic reported.

The 70-year-old also told the Atlantic that he was upset that US President Donald Trump appointed so many people of the Jewish faith in his administration. “There’s a whole layer of other Jews that you don’t see that actually make the policy,” Jones asserted.

In addition, some of his goals include ending America’s war in the Middle East, which he claims only benefits Israel, and clamping down on sanctuary cities. His website includes other bullet points including banning same-sex marriage and abortion, and includes images he claims are documents claiming that the Holocaust, which killed over six million European Jews during World War II, is a hoax.

The Anti-Defamation League refers to Jones as a “longtime neo-Nazi.” The state GOP has also condemned Jones’ decision to run for Congress.

“The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider in a statement. “We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”

Perhaps the Republican party should field a candidate more to their liking, instead of merely distancing themselves from the man.