Thursday, 30 May 2019

The CIA’s Destabilization Program: Undermining and « Nazifying » Ukraine Since 1953. Covert Support of Neo-Nazi Entities

The recent declassification of over 3800 documents by the Central Intelligence Agency provides detailed proof that since 1953 the CIA operated two major programs intent on not only destabilizing Ukraine but Nazifying it with followers of the World War II Ukrainian Nazi leader Stepan Bandera.

The CIA programs spanned some four decades. Starting as a paramilitary operation that provided funding and equipment for such anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR); its affiliates, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), all Nazi Banderists. The CIA also provided support to a relatively anti-Bandera faction of the UHVR, the ZP-UHVR, a foreign-based virtual branch of the CIA and British MI-6 intelligence services. The early CIA operation to destabilize Ukraine, using exile Ukrainian agents in the West who were infiltrated into Soviet Ukraine, was codenamed Project AERODYNAMIC.

A formerly TOP SECRET CIA document dated July 13, 1953, provides a description of AERODYNAMIC:

«The purpose of Project AERODYNAMIC is to provide for the exploitation and expansion of the anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance for cold war and hot war purposes. Such groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Council of Liberation (UHVR) and its Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN), the Foreign Representation of the Ukrainian Supreme Council of Liberation (ZPUHVR) in Western Europe and the United States, and other organizations such as the OUN/B will be utilized».

The CIA admitted in a 1970 formerly SECRET document that it had been in contact with the ZPUHVR since 1950.

The OUN-B was the Bandera faction of the OUN and its neo-Nazi sympathizers are today found embedded in the Ukrainian national government in Kiev and in regional and municipal governments throughout the country.

AERODYNAMIC placed field agents inside Soviet Ukraine who, in turn, established contact with Ukrainian Resistance Movement, particularly SB (intelligence service) agents of the OUN who were already operating inside Ukraine. The CIA arranged for airdrops of communications equipment and other supplies, presumably including arms and ammunition, to the «secret» CIA army in Ukraine. Most of the CIA’s Ukrainian agents received training in West Germany from the US Army’s Foreign Intelligence Political and Psychological (FI-PP) branch. Communications between the CIA agents in Ukraine and their Western handlers were conducted by two-way walkie-talkie (WT), shortwave via international postal channels, and clandestine airborne and overland couriers.

Agents airdropped into Ukraine carried a kit that contained, among other items, a pen gun with tear gas, an arctic sleeping bag, a camp axe, a trenching tool, a pocket knife, a chocolate wafer, a Minox camera and a 35 mm Leica camera, film, a Soviet toiletry kit, a Soviet cap and jacket, a .22 caliber pistol and bullets, and rubber «contraceptives» for ‘waterproofing film’. Other agents were issued radio sets, hand generators, nickel-cadmium batteries, and homing beacons.

An affiliated project under AERODYNAMIC was codenamed CAPACHO.

CIA documents show that AERODYNAMIC continued in operation through the Richard Nixon administration into 1970.

The program took on more of a psychological warfare operation veneer than a real-life facsimile of a John Le Carré «behind the Iron Curtain» spy novel. The CIA set up a propaganda company in Manhattan that catered to printing and publishing anti-Soviet ZPUHVR literature that would be smuggled into Ukraine. The new battleground would not be sw

ampy retreats near Odessa and cold deserted warehouses in Kiev but at the center of the world of publishing and the broadcast media.

The CIA front company was Prolog Research and Publishing Associates, Inc., which later became known simply as Prolog. The CIA codename for Prolog was AETENURE. The group published the Ukrainian language «Prolog» magazine. The CIA referred to Prolog as a «non-profit, tax exempt cover company for the ZP/UHVR’s activities». The «legal entity» used by the CIA to fund Prolog remains classified information. However, the SECRET CIA document does state that the funds for Prolog were passed to the New York office «via Denver and Los Angeles and receipts are furnished Prolog showing fund origin to backstop questioning by New York fiscal authorities».

As for the Munich office of Prolog, the CIA document states that funding for it comes from an account separate from that of Prolog in New York from a cooperating bank, which also remains classified. In 1967, the CIA merged the activities of Prolog Munich and the Munich office of the Ukrainian exiled nationalist «Suchasnist» journal. The Munich office also supported the «Ukrainische Gesellschaft fur Auslandstudien». The CIA documents also indicate that US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents may have interfered with AERODYNAMIC agents in New York. A 1967 CIA directive advised all ZPUHVR agents in the United States to either report their contacts with United Nations mission diplomats and UN employees from the USSR and the Ukrainian SSR to the FBI or their own CIA project case officer. CIA agents in charge of AERODYNAMIC in New York and Munich were codenamed AECASSOWARY agents. Apparently not all that taken with the brevity of MI-6’s famed agent «007», one CIA agent in Munich was codenamed AECASSOWARY/6 and the senior agent in New York was AECASSOWARY/2.

AECASSOWARY agents took part in and ran other AERODYNAMIC teams that infiltrated the Vienna World Youth Conference in 1959. The Vienna infiltration operation, where contact with made with young Ukrainians, was codenamed LCOUTBOUND by the CIA.

In 1968, the CIA ordered Prolog Research and Publishing Associates, Inc. terminated and replaced by Prolog Research Corporation, «a profit-making, commercial enterprise ostensibly serving contracts for unspecified users as private individuals and institutions».

The shakeup of Prolog was reported by the CIA to have arisen from operation MHDOWEL. There is not much known about MHDOWEL other than it involved the blowing of the CIA cover of a non-profit foundation. The following is from a memo to file, dated January 31, 1969, from CIA assistant general counsel John Greany, «Concerns a meeting of Greaney, counsel Lawrence Houston and Rocca about a ‘confrontation’ with NY FBI office on January 17, 1969. They discussed two individuals whose names were redacted. One was said to be a staff agent of the CIA since 8/28/61 who had been assigned in 1964 to write a monograph, which had been funded by a grant from a foundation whose cover was blown in MHDOWEL (I suspect that is code for US Press). One of the individuals [name redacted] had been requested for use with Project DTPILLAR in November 1953 to Feb. 1955 and later in March 1964 for WUBRINY. When the Domestic Operations Division advised Security that this person would not be used in WUBRINY, Rocca commented that ‘there are some rather ominous allegations against members of the firm of [redacted],’ indicating one member of that firm was a ‘card-carrying member of the Communist Party.’ The memo went on to say that Rocca was investigating the use of the individual in Project DTPILLAR concerning whether that person had mentioned activities in Geneva in March 1966 in connection with Herbert Itkin». Raymond Rocca was the deputy chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Division. Itkin was an undercover agent for the FBI and CIA who allegedly infiltrated the Mafia and was given a new identity in California as «Herbert Atkin» in 1972.

In 1969, AERODYNAMIC began advancing the cause of the Crimean Tatars. In 1959, owing to Canada’s large Ukrainian population, Canada’s intelligence service began a program similar to AERODYNAMIC codenamed «REDSKIN».

As international air travel increased, so did the number of visitors to the West from Soviet Ukraine. These travelers were of primary interest to AERODYNAMIC. Travelers were asked by CIA agents to clandestinely carry Prolog materials, all censored by the Soviet government, back to Ukraine for distribution. Later, AERODYNAMIC agents began approaching Ukrainian visitors to eastern European countries, particularly Soviet Ukrainian visitors to Czechoslovakia during the «Prague Spring» of 1968. The Ukrainian CIA agents had the same request to carry back subversive literature to Ukraine.

AERODYNAMIC continued into the 1980s as operation QRDYNAMIC, which was assigned to the CIA’s Political and Psychological Staff’s Soviet East Europe Covert Action Program. Prolog saw its operations expanded from New York and Munich to London, Paris, and Tokyo. QRDYNAMIC began linking up with operations financed by hedge fund tycoon George Soros, particularly the Helsinki Watch Group’s operatives in Kiev and Moscow. Distribution of underground material expanded from journals and pamphlets to audio cassette tapes, self-inking stamps with anti-Soviet messages, stickers, and T-shirts.

QRDYNAMIC expanded its operations into China, obviously from the Tokyo office, and Czechoslovakia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Soviet Central Asia, the Soviet Pacific Maritime region, and among Ukrainian-Canadians. QRDYNAMIC also paid journalist agents-of-influence for their articles. These journalists were located in Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Israel, and Austria.

But at the outset of glasnost and perestroika in the mid-1980s, things began to look bleak for QRDYNAMIC. The high cost of rent in Manhattan had it looking for cheaper quarters in New Jersey.

Assistant Secretary of State for European/Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the baked goods-bearing «Maiden of Maidan,» told the US Congress that the United States spent $5 billion to wrest control of Ukraine from the Russian sphere since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the recent disclosures from the CIA it appears that the price tag to the American tax payers of such foreign shenanigans was much higher.

by Wayne Madsen.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Planet's Bully: 'Buy Arms from US or suffer the Consequences!'

The "non-interventionist" Trumpian clusterfuck is now pressurizing Turkey to make it buy its lethal stuff from the US's giant 'Arms-O-Mart' and not from its Russian counterpart:


The US has urged Turkey to drop its purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system. But Turkey has refused to back away from the deal, saying Turkish soldiers are about to receive training on how to use it.
Turkey is preparing for US sanctions after going ahead with the purchase of Russian military hardware, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement circulated Wednesday.
The White House has threatened sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits business activities with Russia's intelligence and defense industry.
The United States is hoping to pressure Turkey, a NATO ally, into buying its Patriot missile battery system. However, the Turkish government has refused to back out of purchasing Russia's S-400 missile system, Akar told reporters.
"We've sent personnel to Russia for S-400 training that will begin in the coming days and will span the following months," Akar said.
In response to US pressure, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Russia and Turkey consider "such ultimatums unacceptable."

Source.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Facebook bans major fake news operation run from Israel

They wouldn't do that now, the Israelis? Or would they? Hmmm...


Facebook has uncovered a major Israeli campaign to influence politics and elections in countries around the world.
The social media giant announced on Thursday that it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts with a combined following of 2.8 million users for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
“This activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia,” Facebook stated.
Those operating the network falsely “represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians” as well as about “elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents.”
Facebook said that the “individuals behind this network attempted to conceal their identities,” but the company’s investigation linked some back to “an Israeli commercial entity” called the Archimedes Group.

[...]

Bigger than Russiagate
According to Facebook, the Israeli influence campaign spent more than $800,000 on fake ads since 2012 – eight times more than what a Russian troll farm is said to have spent on social media ads, mostly after the 2016 US election, an insignificant intervention that US politicians and pundits who supported Hillary Clinton hyped as equivalent to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nor is it the only example:

But this operation is far from the only covert Israeli effort to influence and sabotage politics and activism around the world.
Facebook’s announcement that it shut down the Archimedes operation comes just days after Facebook-owned WhatsApp revealed that it had patched a critical vulnerability that Israeli espionage firm NSO Group was using to install spyware on people’s smartphones.

Is Britain failing many of its vulnerable children?

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UK government of breaching its international duty to keep people from hunger by pursuing “cruel and harmful polices” with no regard for the impact on children living in poverty.
Examining family poverty in Hull, Cambridgeshire and Oxford, it concluded that tens of thousands of families do not have enough to eat. And it revealed that schools in Oxford are the latest to have turned to food banks to feed their pupils.
In a damning 115-page report that echoes previous expert condemnation of the UK’s policies on food poverty, the NGO – better known for documenting abuses from Myanmar to Haiti – said that the government was breaching its obligations under human rights law to ensure people have enough food.
Volunteers and staff at schools in Oxford confirmed that they were now reliant on donations, saying that teachers were noticing pupils who were missing meals at home and needed to be fed.
HRW said that ministers had “largely ignored growing evidence of a stark deterioration in the standard of living for the country’s poorest residents, including skyrocketing food bank use, and multiple reports from school officials that many more children are arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate”.
The report will provide further ammunition to those who say that the government is failing in its duty to the poorest. It comes before Wednesday’s release of the final report on the UK by Philip Alston, the United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty, who has already highlighted the same issues in his interim findings, following a two-week tour of the UK last November.

Grauniad.

And following on the heels of that, there's also this:

Local authorities are "dumping" thousands of teenagers in care in unregulated homes where they are targeted by paedophiles and organised crime gangs.
The number of looked-after children aged 16 and over living in the "twilight world" of unregistered accommodation in England has increased 70% in a decade.
Police forces have raised concerns, saying criminals see the premises as an easy target for recruitment and senior police officers are calling on the government to close a loophole in regulations that is putting the most vulnerable children at risk.
Jackie Sebire, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on serious violence - told BBC Newsnight: “We will always prioritise dealing with missing children and the most vulnerable.
"I am diverting my very limited resources to go and look for these children.
"But I can have 20, 30, 40 other 999 calls not being responded to as quickly as I would want them to be because we are trying to find these children.
"Sometimes the duty of care sits with the homes and placing authorities. It’s the responsibility of the homes to make sure they’ve done everything they can to safeguard those children."
'They would call us prostitutes or whores'
Local authorities can place 16 and 17-year-olds in the facilities for their own safety, but the homes can be hotbeds of criminal activity and abuse.
Accommodation in this sector can often be simply a house on a residential street, with support workers either based in the premises, or visiting for just a few hours per week.
This housing is not subject to the same checks and inspections as children's homes, because residents are deemed to receive support, but not care.
Local authorities can place children aged 16+ in this unregistered, unregulated accommodation if they judge it is in a child’s best interests.
One girl told the programme: ‘There was the time when I was hit in the face by one of the staff members. They would call us prostitutes or whores.’

gloucestershirelive.co.uk.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Penny Mordaunt gets MOD job, immediately serves up great present to armed forces

In 2003, Baha Mousa was beaten to death in an illegal interrogation facility operated by the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. He was found to have 93 sites of injury on his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. No one has yet been held to account for his death.

At the public inquiry, Sir William Gage said his death “was avoidable and preventable and there can be no excuses. There is no place in our armed forces for the mistreatment of detainees. And there is no place for a perverted sense of loyalty that turns a blind eye to wrongdoing or erects a wall of silence to cover it up.” He added that it was “a very great stain on the reputation of the British army”.

This stain, however, could be wiped away by the new secretary of defence, Penny Mordaunt. She is proposing granting immunity from prosecution to all those members of the armed forces who “turned a blind eye to wrongdoing and erected a wall of silence to cover up the crime”, so long as a decade has elapsed. In the light of the Mousa case alone, this proposition seems wholly indefensible as no one has yet been held accountable for his death.

However, there is another part to the proposed immunity that has been carefully shielded from public view. The vast majority of allegations against the UK submitted to the international criminal court (ICC) concern interrogation. The techniques used by the British army are a matter of public record. In Iraq in 2003, interrogators first used the five banned techniques. These techniques, which had been declared inhuman and degrading by the courts in 1978, were hooding, stress positions, sleep and food deprivation and white noise.

After this was challenged, a policy of “harshing” was introduced and in 2011 publicly endorsed in the House of Commons by the then secretary of state for defence, Liam Fox. This was little better, often inflicting violence and sexual and religious denigration on the prisoner. Despite being repeatedly advised by military lawyers that the techniques were illegal, the government persisted. No one has ever been held to account for this “institutional error” and now these same people will potentially benefit from this amnesty. In other words, if you breach the Geneva conventions and stall for long enough, then the Geneva conventions no longer apply.


Who will be next in line to receive such state largess? The metropolitan police?

John Bolton: Unelected Psychopath

WHO BETTER TO advise the bully-in-chief, Donald Trump, on when to make war and kill people than another bully? It’s difficult, after all, to avoid the label — that of a bully — when thinking of John Bolton, the former Bush administration official-turned-Fox News pundit who Trump recently picked as his national security adviser.

“John Bolton is a bully,” José Bustani, the retired Brazilian diplomat and former head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told me when I reached him by phone in Paris earlier this month.

There are a number of people who claim to have been bullied or intimidated by Bolton — including Bustani. The latter’s criticisms of the famously mustachioed hawk have been public for many years now, but some of the details of his tense encounter with Bolton at the OPCW have never been reported before in English.

In early 2002, a year before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration was putting intense pressure on Bustani to quit as director-general of the OPCW — despite the fact that he had been unanimously re-elected to head the 145-nation body just two years earlier. His transgression? Negotiating with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to allow OPCW weapons inspectors to make unannounced visits to that country — thereby undermining Washington’s rationale for regime change.

In 2001, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had penned a letter to Bustani, thanking him for his “very impressive” work. By March 2002, however, Bolton — then serving as under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs — arrived in person at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague to issue a warning to the organization’s chief. And, according to Bustani, Bolton didn’t mince words. “Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”

Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

There was a pause.

“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”

Bustani told me he was taken aback but refused to back down. “My family is aware of the situation, and we are prepared to live with the consequences of my decision,” he replied.

After hearing Bustani’s description of the encounter, I reached out to his son-in-law, Stewart Wood, a British politician and former adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Wood told me that he vividly remembers Bustani telling him about Bolton’s implicit threat to their family immediately after the meeting in the Hague. “It instantly became an internal family meme,” Wood recalled. Two former OPCW colleagues of Bustani, Bob Rigg and Mikhail Berdennikov, have also since confirmed via email that they remember their then-boss telling them at the time about Bolton’s not-so-subtle remark about his kids.

Another former OPCW official, then-Special Assistant to the Director-General for External Relations Gordon Vachon, who was in the room for the meeting with Bolton, has confirmed that the Bush administration official implicitly threatened Bustani. The OPCW chief “could go quietly, with little fuss and restraint on all sides and ‘without dragging your name through the mud,’” Vachon recalled Bolton saying, in an email to The Intercept. “I cannot say from memory that I heard Mr. Bolton mention DG Bustani’s children, probably because I was reeling from Mr. Bolton’s thinly-veiled threat to DG Bustani’s reputation.”

I reached out to John Bolton and the White House for a response to these allegations. Rather than issue an outright denial, the White House responded via a press spokesperson that referred me to a section of his 2008 memoir, “Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations,” which deals with Bustani and the OPCW. In the book, Bolton said the U.S. viewed Bustani as a “management disaster” (without mentioning Powell’s praise), but claims to have offered him “a gracious and dignified exit” — if, that is, he went quietly.

To call Bolton’s rhetoric undiplomatic is an understatement. He visited Bustani in his capacity as a top U.S. State Department official, yet his behavior was more thuggish. How on earth can a senior diplomat, representing a democratic government, justify implicitly threatening the children of an international official in order to win a political argument? How is such a person now fit to hold the office of national security adviser — the most senior position in the U.S. government that doesn’t require an election win or Senate confirmation?

“The problem with this man is that he’s so ideological, so brutal; he doesn’t open the door to dialogue,” the former OPCW chief told me on the phone. “I don’t know how people can work for him.”

BOLTON’S HISTORY OF bullying, in fact, is well-documented. Carl W. Ford Jr, the State Department’s former intelligence chief, called Bolton “a serial abuser” of junior employees and “a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.” Testifying before the Senate in 2005, Ford discussed the case of Christian Westermann, the former chief bioweapons analyst at the State Department who had refused to sign off on a speech accusing Cuba of possessing a secret bioweapons program and had been “berated” by Bolton, who “then tried to have him fired.”

Melody Townsel, a former U.S. Agency for International Development contractor, said she was harassed by the short-tempered Bolton, then a lawyer in the private sector, on a visit to Kyrgyzstan in 1994: “Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel — throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman,” she later recalled, in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

According to Time magazine, his former boss Colin Powell privately warned Republican senators in 2005, during the confirmation hearings for Bolton’s controversial nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that “he had been troubled by the way Bolton had treated subordinates who did not agree with him.”

Yet the big problem is that Bolton — the “madman,” the “serial abuser,” the “bully” — happens to also be pretty effective at getting things done. This is perhaps what makes him so dangerous. Take the case of Bustani and the OPCW: Bolton succeeded in having the Brazilian removed from his post. Only a few weeks after the U.S. official’s visit to the Hague, the OPCW chief was “pushed out of office” in an extraordinary meeting of the organization’s member countries (and in a decision, incidentally, that an administrative tribunal of the International Labour Organization would later call “unlawful”).

@TI.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Powered by the People

[...]

While Smith has his sights set on the governor’s mansion, the progressive-populist campaign he’s running isn’t just about that. Smith is setting out to build a statewide movement; his gubernatorial run is just the anchor.

“What we’re interested in is fundamentally changing who the government works for, and you can’t do that with one candidate, no matter what the office is,” Smith said in a phone interview with The Intercept. “So the way we do that — the way we win that — is by building an unprecedented political infrastructure in our state’s history.”

Operating with the battle cry of “West Virginia Can’t Wait,” the campaign is setting out to create a pipeline of progressive, working-class candidates to defeat the “good old boys.” The plan isn’t to get a new governor “and pat ourselves on the back,” Smith said.

The result is a broad political organizing effort: locally organized groups led by local “captains” and leaders dubbed “Constituency Captains” who volunteer to mobilize their communities. “This movement will be built by 1,000 leaders, not one,” says the campaign’s website. Key to these efforts are the small donors, who made up the rolls that broke the secretary of state’s software.

SMITH WON’T IDENTIFY himself as a “progressive.” Yet his campaign draws inspiration from the Battle of Blair Mountain, an armed uprising of coal miners in West Virginia, widely considered to be the largest labor rebellion in American history. “In 1921, West Virginia mineworkers — black, white, and immigrant — marched together on Blair Mountain against corporate rule,” says a video on Smith’s campaign site. “They wore red bandanas to identify themselves in battle.”

The video cuts to a West Virginia Can’t Wait event where red bandanas are being handed out, then showing a crowd of onlookers with the kerchiefs around their necks.

Though stopping short of taking up arms, Smith in fact takes a host of standard progressive positions. He is emphatic about rejecting corporate cash, unapologetically supports a single-payer health care system, and is in favor of free college. But he refers to his ground game as a “people’s campaign.” The outlook is based on the fundamental belief that the everyday people of West Virginia are far better suited to solve their problems than the out-of-state lobbyists, out-of-state landowners, and monopolies that dominate the state. Smith said, “Our government would work a whole lot better for all of us if all of us were in charge, instead of a handful of lobbyists.”

It’s not an exaggeration. In January, Justice, the Republican governor, handpicked a registered lobbyist who represents his own family’s companies to replace former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, an aggressively pro-labor Democrat who left his seat for a short-lived presidential run. Justice, who campaigned in 2016 as a political outsider, is the wealthiest person in West Virginia. He inherited his coal mining business from his father, which allowed him to build a massive business empire of more than 100 companies.

It was Justice who gave the Republican Party nearly full control of West Virginia, long a bastion of southern Democratic support that has turned increasingly red on the state level. Justice had switched to the Democratic Party to run for governor, only to switch back to the GOP less than seven months after taking office.

Smith’s campaign wants to turn the governor’s mansion blue again, despite the fact that West Virginia handed Donald Trump his second largest margin of victory in the 2016 presidential race. The state is not inherently red, Smith’s team contends, and their anti-establishment message paves a plausible path to victory. After all, it’s the same state that voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.

“What we’re seeing all across the country is that the government is failing our people and both parties are failing our people,” Smith said. “Our people are picking up the baton and saying, ‘You know what, we can govern ourselves.’”

WEST VIRGINIA CAN’T Wait, the campaign, formally launched at the end of November 2018 and has since held 12 kickoff events across the state. But the campaign doesn’t want Smith to be the face of the movement; the movement is supposed to transcend a single candidate and build a lasting infrastructure of political power.

The roadmap is simple: Organize locally, recruit local candidates who know their neighbors’ needs, and run those candidates in local races. So far, Smith’s campaign has recruited an estimated 56 candidates and potential candidates who are mulling a run in 2020. They have their sights set on positions like city council memberships, magistrate judge seats, county commissioners, and delegates. Their candidate pipeline includes people who are ready to go —and have their campaign website set already — to others who are considering running for office for the first time and want go to a training to get a sense of what it takes.

Smith’s campaign will train candidates and their campaign staff. Perhaps most crucially, West Virginia Can’t Wait will grant these smaller campaigns access to their team and join them on the trail, opening up town halls and events to the local candidates.

“When the election rolls around, the 10 volunteers that you’re recruiting for your city council race combined with the 10 I’m getting from the governor’s race and the 10 someone else is getting for the delegate’s race means that we all have 40, instead of 10 each,” Smith said.

The other part of their strategy is to get at least two “County Captains” in each of the state’s 55 counties, a position intended to act as a community organizer rather than a campaign spokesperson. West Virginia Can’t Wait has recruited and trained more than 160 people to work as County Captains, who are then responsible for building their own volunteer team within the county.

More @TI.

West Virginia Can't Wait (website).

Friday, 17 May 2019

Why, M’lud, we left the EU on March 29!

The English Democrats are bringing a judicial review action in the High Court for a ‘Declaration that the UK is already Out of the EU’. Robin Tilbrook is the chairman of the English Democrats (is that really a thing?!) and is the solicitor running this case. This is what he has put to the High Court:
1. The English Democrats are arguing, for the reasons set out below, that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has left the European Union as of 29 March 2019 after the expiry of its two-year Notice to Leave dated 29 March 2017.

Tilbrook's Bombers heading for the EU (from his blog)


Read the full legal notice (if you've the stomach for it!)

Tilbrook has apparently raised £58,000 for his cause with crowdfunding.

Tilbrook fiddling with his favourite piece of cloth.

Furious Farage: ''BBC is biased against Brexit"

Image source.

This morning’s papers carry the story of Nigel Farage’s fury at the BBC’s Andrew Marr for the manner in which the latter interviewed him on his show yesterday.
The Brexit Party leader has attacked the presenter’s decision to ask a series of awkward questions about his historical views on a range of policy areas, ranging from private healthcare to gun control, despite the fact that his new party has no policies beyond leaving the European Union.
Farage suggests that this was a ploy by the BBC to avoid talking about the Brexit Party’s success or the factors driving that success. But for all the sound and fury, the row probably suits both sides.
The ‘establishment stitch-up’ has always been Farage’s favourite card, and Marr has perhaps given him another opportunity to burnish his outsider status. But it’s unlikely to do much long-term damage to either man, nor to the institutions they represent.

conservativehome.com

Geoffrey Alderman: Jeremy Corbyn is not an Anti-Semite

Geoffrey Alderman, arch-Zionist, historian and Conservative, always struck me as a decent fellow, going by his appearances on Press TV (before it was de-platformed from Sky)

In 1987 the West London Synagogue approached Islington Council with a startling proposal: to sell its original cemetery to property developers, destroying the gravestones and digging-up and reburying the bodies lying under them. This cemetery (dating from 1843) was not merely of great historic and architectural interest – in the view of orthodox Jews, the deliberate destruction of a cemetery is sacrilegious. So when Islington Council granted the planning application, a Jewish-led and ultimately successful campaign was launched to have the decision reversed. I was part of that campaign. So was Jeremy Corbyn. Meanwhile, the then-leader of Islington Council (1982-92), whose decision to permit the destruction of the cemetery was eventually overturned, was none other than Margaret Hodge (though it is unclear whether she personally was in favour of the proposal).
I have deliberately omitted from this discussion any consideration of Corbyn’s attitude to Zionism and whether anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic. All I will say here – as a proud Zionist – is that in my view context is, again, paramount.
I will agree that from time to time, as backbench MP and party leader, Corbyn has acted unwisely. But the grounds for labelling him an anti-Semite simply do not exist.

Geoffrey Alderman is Professor of Politics, University of Buckingham.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Is growing inequality turning Little Britain into a Little America?

Rising inequality in Britain risks putting the country on the same path as the US to become one of the most unequal nations on earth, according to a Nobel-prize winning economist.

Sir Angus Deaton is leading a landmark review of inequality in the UK amid fears that the country is at a tipping point due to a decade of stagnant pay growth for British workers. The Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank, which is working with Deaton on the study, said the British-born economist would “point to the risk of the UK following the US” which has extreme inequality levels in pay, wealth and health.

Speaking to the Guardian at the launch of the study, he said: “There’s a real question about whether democratic capitalism is working, when it’s only working for part of the population.

“People really feel that not everybody is having a fair crack anymore,” the US-based economist said. “There’s a sense that if you live in one part of Britain away from the capital, lots of bad things are happening, while lots of good things are happening in the capital – and you don’t see why you should be left behind that way.”

The US is ranked on some measures among the most unequal of major nations. Pay for non-college-educated men has not risen for five decades, while mortality for less-educated white men and women in middle age has led to average life expectancy to fall for the past three years, something that has not happened for a century.

Grauniables.

American Versailles: Meet the Louises

1. Jeff Bezos - Tech - Net worth: $109.9 billion

2. Bill Gates - Tech - Net worth: $93.3 billion

3. Warren Buffet - Finance and Investments - Net worth: $87.2 billion

4. Mark Zuckerberg - Tech - Net worth: $77.5 billion

5. Larry Page - Tech - Net worth: $54.9 billion

6. Larry Ellison - Industry: Tech - Net worth: $54.7 billion

7. Sergey Brin - Industry: Tech - Net worth: $53.3 billion

8 (tie). Charles & David Koch - Industry: Conglomerate - Net worth: $48.6 billion each

10. Rob Walton - Industry: Retail - Net worth: $47.9 billion

The richest woman in the world is:

In Francoise Bettencourt Meyers case, it’s both. The L'Oréal heiress, who is also the chairwoman of her family’s holding company, is the world’s richest woman, with a fortune of $49.3 billion.

money.com.

Compare and contrast:

Including benefits and bonuses, the average wage for a full-time, hourly worker at Walmart is $14.26 an hour.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Welcome to coup university: A Pentagon scholar’s guide to overthrowing governments

Special Forces Coup Guide (RT).

Harvesting Unicorns: Fake Moo, Fake Money

Beyond Meat Inc., the company created by vegan Ethan Brown in 2009, raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to grow its line of plant-based meats, with shares rocketing in their public debut.
The maker of the Beyond Burger, which is sold at Whole Foods and restaurant chain TGIF, among others, priced its initial public offering at $25 a share Wednesday evening, raising at least $240 million at a valuation slightly shy of $1.5 billion.
Beyond Meat BYND, +5.47% priced the IPO at the top of a range that it had already increased during the process. The company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it planned to offer 9.5 million shares priced at $23 to $25 each, updating the original plan to offer 8.75 million shares priced at $19 to $21 each. In the end, it sold 9.63 million shares, with underwriters holding the option to sell another 1.44 million shares in case of over-allotment. The stock began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “BYND.”

BUT:

It has never made a profit
Beyond Meat has successfully grown its revenue over the years, but has yet to produce a profit. In the first nine months of 2018, the company generated revenue of $56.4 million, more than double the $21.1 million posted in the year-earlier period, and more than the $32.6 million posted for all of 2017.
But its net loss in the nine-month period came to $22.4 million, only slightly less than the $23.4 million loss posted in the year-earlier period. The company’s loss for 2017 came to $30.4 million, wider than the $24.1 million loss posted in 2016.

MarketWatch

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Dispatches from Clown World: Comb-bridge Airdressers!

Brace for it because you couldn't make this up! File under 'WTF'.

Cambridge pro-vice-chancellor says black students are not applying for places 'because there's not enough specialist Afro-Caribbean hairdressers in the city'

The pro-vice chancellor of Cambridge University has claimed that black students aren't applying for places at the prestigious institution due to a lack of 'specialist Afro-Caribbean hairdressers in the city'.
Professor Graham Virgo cited the 'unexpected' research findings during an event at King's College, Cambridge, and stated that this was one of the barriers from stopping black students applying.
It comes as the founder of a programme to assist black student applying to Oxford or Cambridge, Naomi Kellman, said it's a problem that 'comes up frequently'.
Speaking at an event, Prof Virgo, who is also a QC and expert in criminal law said: 'We have been doing some quite detailed research, particularly with black students, particularly in London, looking at obstacles to applying to Cambridge and thinking about Cambridge. And number three on the list was hairdressers.
Prof Virgo said researchers had asked prospective students what the obstacles were in applying to Cambridge.
'The real message was about hairdressers.
'It's unexpected but we need to look at applying to Cambridge from their eyes. For those students this is their concern. Really being able to engage with these perceptions enables us to say 'how are we going to respond to that?'

How indeed? All flock to Combridge, yee specialist Afro-Caribbean hairdressers, fortunes there await yee!

Daily Hatemail

Air Force intel bod Daniel Hale charged with 'leaking top secret drone documents' to journo

A former US Air Force intelligence analyst who fed documents to the press detailing the American military's classified drone programs has been indicted on five criminal charges.

Daniel Hale, 31, is believed to have been the source of top-secret documents that lead to reports from The Intercept in 2015 and 2016 detailing the Air Force's use of unmanned drones in combat operations.

A grand jury indicted Hale on one charge each of obtaining national defense information, retention and transmission of national defense information, causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each charge if convicted.

According to the indictment (PDF, see link in source page), Hale met an unnamed reporter – widely assumed to be Intercept editor Jeremy Scahill – in 2013 and 2014, and handed over printouts of documents classified as secret and top secret.

[...]

"These documents detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including US citizens, through drone strikes. They are of vital public importance, and activity related to their disclosure is protected by the First Amendment," said editor-in-chief Betsy Reed.

"The alleged whistleblower faces up to 50 years in prison. No one has ever been held accountable for killing civilians in drone strikes."

The Register.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Rachel Maddow's gone full Raquel Madcow now

I'm not wasting much time on this, so just watch the video:

Or read about it at zerohedge.

She gets $7 Million per year for spewing this drivel. $.7.Million. Compare that to a full time Walmart worker's earnings...

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Monday, 6 May 2019

Eight Ways Donald Trump might lose the 2020 election...

  • He might die in his sleep. He's quite healthy, so not very probable. (P≈0.00000001 %)
  • He might die in a skiing accident. He doesn't ski, so not very probable. (P≈0.000000000001 %)
  • He might die in a crash of Air Force One. (P≈0.0000000001 %)
  • He might die in a crash of Marine One. (P≈0.000000001 %)
  • He might be shot by a right-wing lunatic (for 'not building the wall'). Americans tend to assassinate the 'wrong' presidents, so not very probable. (P≈0.000000001 %)
  • He might be shot by an agent of the Deep State. (P≈0.000000001 %)
  • He might be poisoned by an agent of the Deep State. (P≈0.000000001 %)
  • The Democrats field a progressive candidate with a 'populist progressive manifesto', who defeats Trump. (P≈0 %)
  • (P are estimated probabilities, as a percentage)

    Corporate Democrats have never worked so hard to lose the next election

    Do Democrats Prefer Trump in the White House? (Truthdig)

    [...]

    An impeachment proceeding would prolong the “Russiagate” drama, which has provided Democrats with a convenient excuse to avoid confronting why they lost in 2016 to somebody so widely loathed. Most of the citizenry is sick of the multiyear conspiracy drama, an endless media-politics fascination that has sucked up civic oxygen while numerous issues of vastly greater importance have been ignored: economic hyperinequality, bad jobs, inadequate and over-expensive health care, rotting infrastructure, abject plutocracy and rampant gun violence, not to mention our race to environmental self-destruction.

    Pelosi and the rest of the establishment Democrats are right to calculate that an impeachment spectacle would not only sputter in the Senate but perhaps even benefit Trump and his party in 2020, much as it did for Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. If nothing else, it would likely help Trump rally his horrid white-nationalist base in several key battleground states. By contrast, voting Trump out of office in 2020 could make him a target for indictment, or perhaps force him to resign in advance of the next president’s inauguration in order to let Mike Pence pardon him first.

    But what are the chances of the Democrats actually winning the next election, forcing the president to choose between denying the legitimacy of the vote count (a very real threat) or vacating his office before his term is up? Barring the onset of a recession (another distinct possibility), only popular front-runner Bernie Sanders is likely to prevail against Trump. And, as in the last presidential election cycle, corporate politicos are already working to sabotage the nomination of their most viable candidate in a general election. The following eight mechanisms explain how they might succeed:

  • Flooding the primary campaign with such an absurdly large number of candidates that Sanders will likely be unable to garner the majority of primary delegates required for a first-ballot nomination at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
  • Coordination among the Democratic Convention superdelegates—the more than 350 county and state party bosses and elected officials who are granted delegate status without election—to vote as a bloc to stop Sanders on the convention’s second ballot. (These superdelegates exist precisely for the purpose of blocking challengers to the party’s corporate establishment.)
  • Ongoing efforts to change state party elections from caucuses to primaries, as caucuses are friendlier to progressive challengers. (Sanders won 11 of the nation’s 18 caucus states three years ago.) The disingenuous theft of many of Sanders’ sincerely held progressive policies by corporate candidates who have no intention of fighting to implement them if they attain the presidency.
  • Appealing to the name recognition of Joe Biden, along with the public’s misplaced nostalgia for Barack Obama’s Wall Street-captive presidency—both of which will be wielded as weapons against Sanders’ progressive populism.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s transparently reactionary and frankly sickening decision to block contracts with campaign consultants and other political vendors who agree to work for progressive challengers in the 2020 primaries. Besides seeking to protect Congress itself as a corporate preserve, this move aims to deny Sanders congressional allies and undermine his ability to govern if elected.
  • Smearing Sanders’ highly popular social-democratic policy agenda as “fantastic,” “unaffordable,” “unrealistic” and too dangerously “socialist”—this while Democratic elites refuse to acknowledge the fascist tendencies of the president they helped elect in 2016.
  • Branding the eminently electable Sanders “unelectable” on the grounds that he is an “extremist” who is “too far left” for the U.S. electorate generally and independent voters specifically. In reality, the opposite is true. Sanders appeals to independents (who are nowhere near as conservative as is commonly reported), people of color, infrequent voters and the white working-class that has largely abandoned the Democratic Party. His anti-establishment message, coupled with his long record of representing rural voters, makes him highly competitive with Trump, not only in the Rust Belts states where Hillary Clinton faltered but even in some dark red states like West Virginia. Even the likes of Karl Rove believe Sanders could defeat Trump in 2020.
  • Look for the Democratic establishment to do everything it can to prevent its party from defeating Trump in 2020. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. At this point, the party exists to serve its corporate clients. Its leaders fear the specter of socialism while the world’s most powerful nation threatens to slide into fascism. (Never mind that democratic eco-socialism—a political project significantly more radical than what Sanders is proposing—is precisely what America and the world need right now.) Establishment Democrats would rather lose to a white-nationalist right than even the mildly social-democratic left within their own party. It’s why the late political scientist Sheldon Wolin labeled them “the Inauthentic Opposition.”

    Saturday, 4 May 2019

    Ooopsie! On Venezuela Trump deviates from the Playbook!

    "He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. "I feel the same way."

    His remarks came just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Russia of propping up the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is in the midst of a political showdown with opposition leader Juan Guaido. The Trump administration has pushed hard to oust Maduro in favor of Guaido, calling Guaido the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

    Russia is a key Maduro ally, and the Kremlin has been sharply critical of the Trump administration's support for Guaido.

    Yup. That and Pompeo claiming Putin's men had practically dragged Maduro off a plane, so ready the latter was to get his chops into exile! (NOT!)

    I can only hope all this will cause a massive aneurysm in Bolton's angry brain...

    When a Coup is (Not) a 'Coup'...

    Stenographers for Power

    The reasons for the reluctance of the media to use the word “coup” can be found in official announcements from the government. With all the credibility of an armed man in a mask repeatedly shouting “this is not technically a bank robbery,” national security advisor John Bolton told reporters on April 30, “This is clearly not a coup,” but an effort by ”the Venezuelan people” to “regain their freedom,” which the US “fully supports.” Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that what we are seeing in Venezuela “is the will of the people to peacefully change the course of their country from one of despair to one of freedom and democracy.”

    Soon after Bolton’s comments, Bloomberg published a series of articles (4/30/19; 4/30/19; 4/30/19), all by different writers, on why the events did not constitute a coup attempt. This, despite Bloomberg’s reporter Andrew Rosati revealing that coup leader Leopoldo Lopez told him and the rest the international media core that he wants the US to formally govern Venezuela once Maduro falls.

    Pompeo made waves in April after publicly admitting at an event at Texas A&M University that he was a serial liar, cheat and thief. As CIA director, he declared, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses [on it]!” Nevertheless, the media credulously repeated his astonishing claims, made in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (5/1/19), that Maduro, who has survived multiple coup attempts and assassinations, had been on the airport tarmac on his way to Cuba, “ready to leave” Venezuela for good, only for Russia to tell him to stay. This dubious, unverified and officially contestedassertion made headlines around the world (Daily Beast, 4/30/19; Newsweek, 4/30/19; Times of London, 5/1/19; Deutsche Welle, 4/30/19), with few questioning its credibility.

    This is not the first time the media have lined up behind the government on a Venezuelan coup. As detailed in my book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting, the US media also endorsed the April 2002 coup against Chavez, using euphemisms such as “popular uprising” (Miami Herald, 4/18/02), “unrest” (New York Times, 5/23/02) or “Chavez’s temporary downfall” (New York Times, 4/29/02) to frame events more positively. Only after an official White House spokesperson used the word “coup” on April 15, 2002, was the word frequently used in the media, suggesting a close synergy between government officials and those supposedly employed to hold them to account.

    After barely 12 hours, the most recent coup attempt appeared to have failed under the weight of its own unpopularity. According to the New York Times (4/30/19), Guaidó failed to attract meaningful support from the military, his co-conspirator Leopoldo Lopez had sought refuge first in the Chilean then in the Spanish embassy, and 25 of his paramilitaries had done the same in the Brazilian one. Guaidó did not win over the Venezuelan majority, who had previously chased his motorcade out of a working class district when he tried to enter. Ordinary Venezuelans continued their lives, or even rushed to the defense of the government. As USA Today (5/1/19) summed up:

    Guaidó called it the moment for Venezuelans to reclaim their democracy once and for all. But as the hours dragged on, he stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising.

    It appears that the main base of support for the coup was the US government…and the media. The press’s extraordinary complicity, lining up with the State Department’s version of the world in the face of empirical evidence, highlights the worrying closeness between media and government. When it comes to foreign policy, there is often no difference between deep state and fourth estate.

    Truthdig.

    Jimmy Dore on the NYT's Propaganda (Venezuela)

    Thursday, 2 May 2019

    My Way or Huwawei

    So Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was summarily sacked by the PM, accused of leaking information from the ultra secretive National Security Council (NSC). Williamson rejects all notions of wrongdoing.

    Several MPs, most loudly perhaps Tom Watson - Lab, are now calling for a criminal investigation into Williamson and the leak.

    Which brings me to an interesting aside.

    May has faced a heated backlash over the Daily Telegraph leak claiming ministers advised by top security officials at the National Security Council meeting had agreed to allow Huawei to help build "non-core" parts of the U.K.’s next generation of mobile infrastructure, 5G. The U.S., which has banned Huawei from its government networks, has been putting pressure on its allies to follow its lead, citing concerns that the Chinese vendor’s equipment could allow Beijing to spy — allegations that Huawei has repeatedly denied.

    Did you see that? "officials at the National Security Council meeting had agreed to allow Huawei to help build "non-core" parts of the U.K.’s next generation of mobile infrastructure, 5G".

    So these officials recommend Huwawei, against US diktats. The question is: had the NSC's line have been 'suitably' critical of Huwawei, would the leak have caused the same commotion as we've seen now?

    Wednesday, 1 May 2019

    We are all Julian Assange!

    DiEM25.

    On Thursday, May 2, 2019, we will demonstrate just a few meters away from the UK and US embassies – the two countries that hold the future of WikiLeaks founder and DiEM25 Advisory Panel member Julian Assange and freedom of press in their hands. Please tell everyone you know about the protest!

    You see, Germany is not – and should not be – an innocent by-stander.

    As we already know from Edward Snowden’s revelations on NSA spying on Germany, the sovereignty of Germany – its journalists and the privacy of its citizens – is also under threat. The May 2 court hearing in London is more than just about Julian Assange. It’s about our right to know. It’s about you and me.

    And while Chelsea Manning remains in prison, precisely because she rejected to testify against WikiLeaks, the protection of whistleblowers has never been more important – and urgent, all across Europe, including Germany. The stakes are global.

    It’s highly likely that the US is preparing to file more charges against Julian. The current indictment is but an attempt to criminalise long-established source protection practices and journalists working with whistleblowers aiming to disclose classified information for the public interest.

    Scores of press freedom organisations, news outlets, United Nations representatives, politicians and public figures have denounced Julian’s arrest and his possible extradition and have warned of its worrying implications.

    Whatever the outcome of the court hearing, the very fact that Julian is being kept in solitary confinement at the “British Guantanamo” Belmarsh prison, is enough for us to gather at the Brandenburger Gate to protest against the inhuman conditions he is facing now and to loudly say Stop the extradition of Julian Assange!

    Join us to lend our voice to Julian and to the journalists, whistleblowers and freedom of press activists around the globe who’s lives are at risk for defending our right to know. If you don’t live near Berlin, spread the word and spread the petition against Julian’s extradition.

    The “We are all Julian Assange!” protest will begin at 12:00 with speeches by German theater director Angela Richter, Whistleblower Network chairman Annegret Falter, biologist and founder of EcoLeaks Esteban Servat, and myself. The speeches will be followed by a reading of a short statement by Edward Snowden brought by Angela Richter from Moscow to this special DiEM25-led public demonstration.

    For Edward Snowden, our demonstration is not just about “a man who stands in jeopardy, but the future of the free press”.

    And last but not least, a DiEM25 and Demokratie in Europa message to all German voters: don’t vote for any party at European Elections that is not ready to stand in the protection of whistleblowers, freedom of press, and, more specifically, to oppose Julian’s extradition to the United States.

    Laibach - the Whistleblowers:

    There is no future for Europe – no democracy – without the freedom of press.

    Looking forward to seeing you at Brandenburger Gate (Pariser Platz) on May 2 at 12:00.

    Jimmy Dore on Assange: