Greater Than Ever Super-Wealth Fuels Increasing Inequality

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Super-rich individuals never had things better, benefitting at the expense of increased impoverishment – engineered by governments complicit with their privileged class, a high crime against humanity, ongoing worldwide.

According to its latest report last March, Forbes magazine said it identified 2,208 billionaires in 72 countries – their combined super-wealth a staggering $9.1 trillion, their average net worth $4.1 billion. 

Their ranks doubled in the past decade. It’s the world’s most exclusive club, the super-wealth of its members likely made the old-fashioned way. Balzac once said “(b)ehind every great fortune lies a great crime.”

America leads the world with 585 billionaires, China second with 373. According to an Oxfam report titled “Private Good or Public Wealth,” 26 billionaires have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.8 billion people combined – a disturbing indictment of governments allowing extreme inequality to exist and grow.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said “(w)e can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Democracy in America was always pure fantasy from inception, the disparity between rich and poor in the country today unprecedented, worsening, not improving because of policies supported by both wings of the nation’s war party.

Economies are broken,  

“hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top,” said Oxfam.

Concentrated super-wealth increased exponentially in the past decade, fortunes of the world’s super-rich growing by $2.5 billion a day.

Yet millionaires, billionaires, and corporations get tax breaks to avoid paying their fair share. The human cost keeps growing, including “children without teachers, clinics without medicines,” along with higher education and healthcare the way it should be increasingly unaffordable for growing millions.

The wealth of the world’s billionaire class increased by $900 billion last year, extreme poverty moving in the opposite direction.

Around 3.4 billion people, nearly half of humanity, struggle to survive on less that $5.50 a day. “Taxing the world’s richest 1% an extra 0.5% would raise enough money to educate 262 million children lacking education, along with providing enough healthcare to save 3.3 million lives,” said Oxfam.

How many millions and billions of dollars does anyone need to live comfortably to luxuriously virtually anywhere? How many expensive homes, cars, yachts, or other luxuries are too many?

While super-wealth increased exponentially last year alone, the wealth of the world’s poorest people declined by around $500 million daily, loosing 11% of their meager resources.

Oxfam’s report “shows the growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fueling public anger across the globe.”

In America, it was greatly aided by the great GOP tax cut heist, benefitting the rich and big business, using their added wealth to create more of it.

Governments worldwide are part of the problem, “exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education,” Oxfam explained, adding:

“(W)omen and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality,” along with people of color in America and elsewhere. Oxfam America’s vice president for policy and campaigns Paul O’Brien said the following:

“The last ten years clearly shows that we have learned nothing. Since the global economy collapsed, the number of billionaires has doubled, with a new billionaire being minted every other day.”

“While corporations and the super-rich enjoy the lowest tax bills, millions of girls around the world have no access to a decent education, and women are dying due to a lack of maternity care.”

“The recent US tax law is a master class on how to favor massive corporations and the richest citizens.”

“The law rewards US companies that have trillions stashed offshore, encourages US companies to dodge foreign taxes on their foreign profits, and fuels a global race to the bottom that benefits big business and wealthy individuals at the expense of poor people everywhere.”

Since the neoliberal 90s, the race to the bottom accelerated markedly, especially in the past decade. Public services are increasingly underfunded, especially in developing countries, increasingly in wealthy ones, notably in the West.

Around 10,000 people die daily for lack of affordable healthcare, Oxfam explained. The race to the bottom in the West and everywhere else benefits super-wealth at the expense of the most vulnerable.

Instead of governments serving everyone equitably, they largely benefit their privileged class exclusively, things progressively worsening, not improving.

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WMD Take Two: Chemical Weapons Claims in Syria

By Tim Anderson
Source

 

Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack de6b8

Millions of words have been written about chemical weapons in Syria, and many people are still confused. How can the average person understand this controversy? Rather than debate each incident, I suggest some basic forensic principles can help us ‘cut to the chase’. In particular, we should ignore the endless partisan stories and pay more attention to the genuinely independent evidence.

I investigated and wrote about the early stages of this issue back in 2013, then published a chapter on it in my 2016 book, The Dirty War on Syria. I concluded that the August 2013 incident in the East Ghouta was fabricated by the anti-government ‘jihadist’ groups, in an attempt to attract greater NATO support, as had happened in Libya.

The Dirty War on Syria 6cbfa

In a diplomatic move, Russia persuaded Syria to give up its actual chemical weapon stock (held as a deterrent against Israel) and indeed that stockpile was certifiably destroyed in 2014. But this did not put an end to the allegations. Similar accusations came from the sectarian Islamist groups, particularly in 2017 and 2018, as the Syrian Army drove them out of the country’s cities. Western governments and their media once against raised a ‘weapons of mass destruction’ cry.

First of all, we are entitled to consider the circumstances of all these claims. We must be skeptical because many were fooled by the false claims over ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD) in Iraq. The ‘chemical weapons’ allegations are similar, in that they refer to banned WMDs and seem to provide a pretext for military intervention. These are claims promoted by the same states that ran WMD stories against Iraq. Other extraordinary allegations were argued to justify the NATO bombing of Libya. In each case, exceptional claims have been used to justify (or cover up) what would otherwise be seen as transparent aggression.

Second, regarding Syria, we should note that none of the chemical weapons claims were linked to any conventional military objectives. Such weapons are simply unsuited to urban warfare. This was different from the circumstances of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. There the US helped Saddam Hussein use chemical weapons against Iran’s mass troop movements (‘human waves’), and against the Faili Kurds of Halabja, who were armed by Iran (Harris and Aid 2013; Tan 2008).

I suggest that some standard legal-forensic principles can help us disentangle the claims and counter-claims. These involve (a) identifying interested parties, and discounting their promotional ‘evidence’ as ‘self-serving’; (b) identifying genuinely independent evidence, whether from witnesses or technical experts; and (c) making use of ‘admissions against interest’. These are standard concepts in criminal law.

In practice, it means putting to one side ALL the claims and arguments of interested parties. That is, ignore everything said by the Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and their media; and put aside everything said by the armed groups and their supporters, that includes the governments and media of the USA, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel. We also have to ignore paid agents of the warring parties, such as the Aleppo Media Centre (paid by NATO governments), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (paid by Britain), ‘Bellingcat’ (paid by the US Government) and others. This includes Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which have both help sell false pretexts for intervention and war. For example, Amnesty International had backed the false ‘incubator babies’ story that helped drive the first Gulf war against Iraq; they backed (but later retracted) false allegations against Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi; and in 2012 they praised the NATO occupation of Afghanistan (Anderson 2018).

What do we have left? Genuinely independent evidence! Let’s look at that in the four most publicized chemical weapons claims: Khan al Asal (2013), East Ghouta (2013), Khan Sheikoun (2017) and Douma (2018).

The first alleged use of sarin gas in Syria was in April 2013 at Khan al Asal, on the western outskirts of Aleppo city. The Syrian government reported to the UN that anti-government armed groups had used sarin gas, killing 25 and wounding dozens more, both soldiers and civilians. In May 2013 investigator Carla del Ponte confirmed that the UN had evidence of the ‘rebel’ use of sarin gas. Also in May 2013 Turkish police reported finding a 2kg canister of sarin, after raiding the homes of Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda) members in Turkey (Anderson 2016: 199-201).

The UN eventually sent weapons inspectors to Damascus, in August 2013. However, just as these inspectors arrived in Damascus, a sarin incident was staged in the East Ghouta area. Video and photos were published of sick or dead children, and the armed groups and their sponsors blamed the incident on the Syrian Army. Syria denied it. The armed groups claimed up to 1,400 were killed, but only eight bodies were reported buried. Syrians questioned the origins of the pictured children, as the area in question had long been a war zone and ghost town, with no schools. It was suspected that these may have been kidnapped children (ISEAMS 2013). This incident overshadowed and delayed the Khan al Asal investigation, and led to an international crisis which was partly resolved by the Russian proposal to destroy Syria’s chemical stockpiles.

UN Investigation of this second major allegation, the August 2013 East Ghouta incident, was given priority over the earlier Khal al Asal investigation. Nevertheless, in December 2013 the UN team presented a report on those and other reported incidents of that year. Because of divisions at the Security Council, the investigators were asked to report on the actual incidents, but without seeking to cast blame. They found that chemical weapons had been used on five occasions (Khan al Asal, East Ghouta, Jobar, Saraqueb, and Ashrafieh Sahnaya), and on three of those occasions, they were used against soldiers (UNMIAUCWSAA 2013). Only the armed groups were attacking Syrian soldiers. That finding discredited a key argument from the Obama White House, that only the Syrian government had the capacity to launch a sarin attack.

Two additional independent reports undermined the August 2013 accusations. A January 2014 report by MIT scientists Richard Lloyd and Professor Theodore Postol found that the improvised rockets used had a range of only 2 kilometers and so “could not possibly” have been fired at the East Ghouta site from any of the closest Syrian Army positions, as had been suggested by the White House report. Richard Lloyd had been a UN Weapons Inspector, while Professor Ted Postol had been a forensic advisor to the US military. Their independence was unquestionable. A third independent report came from famous investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. His report (‘Whose Sarin’, December 2013) found that many in the US intelligence community did not believe the White House report, which omitted all reference to the evidence of sarin possessed by Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda). “When the attack occurred al Nusra should have been a suspect, but the [Obama] administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad,” wrote Hersh.

MIT a2011

So, when stripped of the clamor from the warring parties and their supporters, the independent evidence of East Ghouta incident of August 2013 lines up against the al Qaeda groups, which controlled much of the East Ghouta area and wanted a pretext for greater military assistance from NATO.

We can apply the same principles to the third highly publicized incident, the alleged sarin attack on Khan Sheikoun (Idlib). This served as the pretext for President Trump’s 7 April 2017 missile attack on Shayrat airbase in Syria. By this time Syria, with help from Russia and Iran, were driving back the armed ‘jihadists’. These groups and their supporters, in particular, the US government and various paid ‘information activists’ claimed it was an attack by the Syrian airforce; the Syrians denied it.

What did the independence evidence say? Once again Professor Ted Postol issued a report, the main focus of which was White House reports from the Trump administration. After analyzing the allegations, video and wind evidence he issued a rebuttal which said: “the nerve agent attack described in the White House report did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR” (Postol 2017a). Once again Syrians suspected kidnap victims were being used for these ‘false flag’ attacks. Later Postol issued a second and a third report. Taking into account further information argued by the jihadists in Idlib, and other US allies, he concluded: “the WHR was fabricated without input from the professional intelligence community” (Postol 2017b).

Postol 2 e0744

In the Khan Sheikhoun case, US agencies used each other to lend the appearance of ‘corroboration’. So the US and UK funded groups, the White Helmets, provided ‘evidence’ of the Sarin attack to both the UN’s OPCW and to the US group Human Rights Watch (2017). Funded by the UK and US governments, there is substantial photographic and video evidence that The White Helmets are close affiliates of the armed Islamist groups in Syria, including Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS/DAESH (Beeley 2018; Hands Off Syria 2019). However, for the purpose of this analysis, it is sufficient to observe that their major funders are the governments of the UK and the USA, active parties in the war against the Syria Government. That alone disqualifies the White Helmets as a source of independent evidence. Nor is Human Rights Watch (HRW) an independent NGO. It is closely linked to the US foreign policy elite, and its leader Kenneth Roth has issued a series of demonstrably false claims about Syria, during the long war (Anderson 2018).

The OPCW would later report that there had been use of a “sarin like substance” in Khan Sheikhoun (OPCW 2017). However, even here they relied on evidence provided by the White Helmets, as no-one from the OPCW visited the site. This problem was discussed by another clearly independent expert, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ritter had warned that Iraq had no significant weapons of mass destruction. He was ignored then but was later proven correct. In mid-2017 Ritter wrote that the Human Rights Watch claim that “the material cause of the Khan Sheikhoun event is a Soviet-made KhAB-250 chemical bomb” must be false as:

“if a KhAB-250, or any other air delivered chemical bomb had been used at Khan Sheikhoun, there would be significant physical evidence of that fact, including the totality of the bomb casing, the burster tube, the tail fin assembly and parachute” (Ritter 2017).

The OPCW was, therefore:

“in no position to make the claim … [that] a sarin-like substance was used at Khan Sheikhoun, a result that would seemingly compensate for both the lack of a bomb and the amateurish theatrics of the rescuers” (Ritter 2017).

The main reason for this was that there was a broken ‘chain of custody’ in taking samples from the site, out of Syria to the OPCW (Ritter 2017). That act was carried out by the obviously non-independent White Helmets.

We see once again that when the shrill propaganda is removed, and we pay attention to genuinely independent and qualified voices, we can see the makings of another ‘weapons of mass destruction’ scandal. The partisan sources mislead us.

The fourth and final widely-publicized, alleged chemical weapons incident was said to have been carried out just as the Syrian Army was about to liberate the city of Douma from al Qaeda and its allied ‘jihadists’. This was the alleged 7 April 2018 attack on Douma hospital. Notice that the Syrian Army, by this time, with Russian and Iranian help, had been steadily driving the armed groups out of the urban centers. Once again, any military rationale for the use of chemical weapons was absent. Yet that is what the Douma-based ‘Army of Islam’, the banned Jabhat al Nusra and their western sponsors claimed.

Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack white helmets 9166e

Once again the armed groups and their White Helmet partners issued video which showed people rushing around the hospital reception area, washing people including children with water. The White House and associated media and paid agencies (including the BBC, CNN, Bellingcat and the US-based ‘Syrian American Medical Society’) repeated the jihadists’ stories. The ‘Army of Islam’ media group, the Ghouta Media Centre, put out the story that ‘hundreds’ were killed and injured by a “barrel bomb containing sarin” (Embury-Denis 2018). A White House statement duly affirmed:

“The United States assesses with confidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in the eastern Damascus suburb of Duma on April 7, 2018, killing dozens of men, women, and children … information points to the regime using chlorine in its bombardment of Duma, while some additional information points to the regime also using the nerve agent sarin” (White House 2018).

Most western media ran with this. Later the story would be revised to a ‘chlorine bomb’, after a photo of an unexploded tank was shown in a building.

After the Syrian Army took control of Douma, one of the children in that video would denounce the story, saying he was effectively dragged into his unexpected film role and experienced no toxic chemicals. Yet, because he contradicted the jihadists claims, western media suggested he might have been an “unwitting pawn” (Barker 2018). However, as well as this unwilling ‘victim’, no less than twelve hospital staff told media in Damascus that no chemical attack took place. Several of them were flown to The Hague to repeat this evidence. These doctors and nurses said, in various ways, that there had been an extended filmed commotion at reception; but there had been no air attack on the hospital, there were no fatalities and there had been no chemical weapons (RT 2018b). The British Guardian called this an ‘obscene masquerade’, organized by Russia. Western agencies claimed that these witnesses had probably been pressured by the Syrian Government (Wintour 2018). Before this particular controversy is dismissed we might observe that hospital staff in Douma could not have survived had they been government sympathizers. It is well known that both religious minorities and government supporters were murdered by the Army of Islam and Jabhat al Nusra. In that sense, those medical staffs were likely quite independent.

In any case, not long after the area was liberated the UN’s OPCW went in and made their report. First, they found no trace of any nerve agent: “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected” (OPCW 2018). So much for the claims from the ‘Ghouta Media Centre’ and the White House. But what about the chlorine backup story? The UN team did find “various chlorinated organic chemicals … from two sites”. However “the FFM cannot confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon” (OPCW 2018). This report was misused by some media to pretend that the UN group had found that chlorine was used as a weapon. Yet others pointed out that ‘chlorinated organic chemicals’ are found in most households, including as cleaning agents in hospitals. Although under great political pressure in New York, the UN team had rejected the Douma story.

Nevertheless, relying on the general spin over the OPCW report, the BBC (2018) headlined: ‘Douma attack was chlorine gas – watchdog’. This story was a misrepresentation of the OPCW report. It was soon deleted from BBC websites; but not before it had been picked up by several other sites (e.g. MyVueNews 2018).

To wrap up five disgraceful years of chemical weapons propaganda, forensic principles entitle us to look at independent statements, or ‘admissions against interest’, by the warring parties. That includes statements from military leaders in the USA and the UK. US Defence Secretary James Mattis, for example, both before and after the Douma incident, said that he had “no evidence” Syria had used sarin but was relying on media including social media stories. On 3 February 2018 Mattis was reported as saying: “We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used. We do not have evidence of it. We’re looking for evidence of it” (Burns 2018). In April, just days after the Douma claims, he told the US Congress: “We are not engaged on the ground there so I cannot tell you that we have evidence, even though we certainly had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used” (RT 2018a).

Two former British military leaders expressed their incredulity at the Douma claims, even though those claims had been backed by their government. That fact makes them both independent, as well as qualified. Former SAS commander British General Jonathan Shaw asked:

“Why would Assad use chemical weapons at this time? He’s won the war. That’s not just my opinion, it is shared by senior commanders in the US military. There is no rationale behind Assad’s involvement whatsoever. He’s convinced the rebels to leave occupied areas in buses. He’s gained their territory. So why would he be bothering gassing them?” (Basu 2018).

A similar opinion was expressed and developed further by Lord Alan West, former senior British government security advisor and former head of the British Navy:

“Just before he [President Assad] goes in and takes it [the Douma area] all over, apparently he decides to have chemical attack. It just doesn’t ring true, it seems extraordinary because clearly, he would know that there is likely to be a response from the allies … what benefit is there for his military? Most of the rebel fighters, this disparate group of Islamists, have withdrawn, there are a few women and children left around. What benefit is there is doing what he did [sic]? I find that extraordinary. Whereas we know that in the past some of the Islamic groups have used chemicals, and of course there would be huge benefit for them in labeling an attack as coming from Assad, because they would guess quite rightly that there would be a response from the US, as there was last time, and possibly from the UK and France … The reports that came from there were from the White Helmets who, let’s face it, are not neutrals, you know, they are very much on the side of the disparate groups who are fighting Assad” (NewsVoice 2018).

These are genuinely independent assessments from two military experts. ‘Similar fact’ principles of criminal law entitle us to apply their rationales over Douma to the earlier claims made by the same armed groups in the same area, back in August 2013. That is, there is a pattern of behavior from these armed groups, involving repeated fabricated claims, to gain greater outside military support. This ‘similar fact’ pattern increases confidence in the evidence that they have indeed been fabricating their claims against the Syrian Army.

When we remove the clamor from the warring parties, their media, and paid propagandists, the independent evidence points in one direction: every single claim of chemical weapon use by the Syrian Army was a fabrication. As Lord Alan West said, the al Qaeda aligned groups wanted to attract greater western military support. Western governments and media went along with this extended ‘WMD’ hoax. The scandal served to hide naked US-led aggression against Syria. Western audiences were played, for the second time in a decade, over a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ scam. Most took the bait.

How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

By Jason Hickel
Source

3a4683d7f99349baa4791de15b662965_18.jpgLord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, and his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten, ride in the state carriage towards the Viceregal lodge in New Delhi, on March 22, 1947 [File: AP]

There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India – as horrible as it may have been – was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long – the story goes – was a gesture of Britain’s benevolence.

New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik – just published by Columbia University Press – deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.

It’s a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.

How did this come about?

It happened through the trade system. Prior to the colonial period, Britain bought goods like textiles and rice from Indian producers and paid for them in the normal way – mostly with silver – as they did with any other country. But something changed in 1765, shortly after the East India Company took control of the subcontinent and established a monopoly over Indian trade.

Here’s how it worked. The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, “buying” from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them.

It was a scam – theft on a grand scale. Yet most Indians were unaware of what was going on because the agent who collected the taxes was not the same as the one who showed up to buy their goods. Had it been the same person, they surely would have smelled a rat.

Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain’s industrialisation. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution depended in large part on this systematic theft from India.

On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.

After the British Raj took over in 1858, colonisers added a special new twist to the tax-and-buy system. As the East India Company’s monopoly broke down, Indian producers were allowed to export their goods directly to other countries. But Britain made sure that the payments for those goods nonetheless ended up in London.

How did this work? Basically, anyone who wanted to buy goods from India would do so using special Council Bills – a unique paper currency issued only by the British Crown. And the only way to get those bills was to buy them from London with gold or silver. So traders would pay London in gold to get the bills, and then use the bills to pay Indian producers. When Indians cashed the bills in at the local colonial office, they were “paid” in rupees out of tax revenues – money that had just been collected from them. So, once again, they were not in fact paid at all; they were defrauded.

Meanwhile, London ended up with all of the gold and silver that should have gone directly to the Indians in exchange for their exports.

This corrupt system meant that even while India was running an impressive trade surplus with the rest of the world – a surplus that lasted for three decades in the early 20th century – it showed up as a deficit in the national accounts because the real income from India’s exports was appropriated in its entirety by Britain.

Some point to this fictional “deficit” as evidence that India was a liability to Britain. But exactly the opposite is true. Britain intercepted enormous quantities of income that rightly belonged to Indian producers. India was the goose that laid the golden egg. Meanwhile, the “deficit” meant that India had no option but to borrow from Britain to finance its imports. So the entire Indian population was forced into completely unnecessary debt to their colonial overlords, further cementing British control.

Britain used the windfall from this fraudulent system to fuel the engines of imperial violence – funding the invasion of China in the 1840s and the suppression of the Indian Rebellion in 1857. And this was on top of what the Crown took directly from Indian taxpayers to pay for its wars. As Patnaik points out, “the cost of all Britain’s wars of conquest outside Indian borders were charged always wholly or mainly to Indian revenues.”

And that’s not all. Britain used this flow of tribute from India to finance the expansion of capitalism in Europe and regions of European settlement, like Canada and Australia. So not only the industrialisation of Britain but also the industrialisation of much of the Western world was facilitated by extraction from the colonies.

Patnaik identifies four distinct economic periods in colonial India from 1765 to 1938, calculates the extraction for each, and then compounds at a modest rate of interest (about 5 percent, which is lower than the market rate) from the middle of each period to the present. Adding it all up, she finds that the total drain amounts to $44.6 trillion. This figure is conservative, she says, and does not include the debts that Britain imposed on India during the Raj.

These are eye-watering sums. But the true costs of this drain cannot be calculated. If India had been able to invest its own tax revenues and foreign exchange earnings in development – as Japan did – there’s no telling how history might have turned out differently. India could very well have become an economic powerhouse. Centuries of poverty and suffering could have been prevented.

All of this is a sobering antidote to the rosy narrative promoted by certain powerful voices in Britain. The conservative historian Niall Ferguson has claimed that British rule helped “develop” India. While he was prime minister, David Cameron asserted that British rule was a net help to India.

This narrative has found considerable traction in the popular imagination: according to a 2014 YouGov poll, 50 percent of people in Britain believe that colonialism was beneficial to the colonies.

Yet during the entire 200-year history of British rule in India, there was almost no increase in per capita income. In fact, during the last half of the 19th century – the heyday of British intervention – income in India collapsed by half. The average life expectancy of Indians dropped by a fifth from 1870 to 1920. Tens of millions died needlessly of policy-induced famine.

Britain didn’t develop India. Quite the contrary – as Patnaik’s work makes clear – India developed Britain.

What does this require of Britain today? An apology? Absolutely. Reparations? Perhaps – although there is not enough money in all of Britain to cover the sums that Patnaik identifies. In the meantime, we can start by setting the story straight. We need to recognise that Britain retained control of India not out of benevolence but for the sake of plunder and that Britain’s industrial rise didn’t emerge sui generis from the steam engine and strong institutions, as our schoolbooks would have it, but depended on violent theft from other lands and other peoples.

Highlights of Israeli Ruthlessness

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Last year was devastating for long-suffering Palestinians, the way things have been for over seven decades.

B’Tselem compiled examples of Israeli ruthlessness in 2018. Its security forces murdered 290 defenseless Palestinian civilians, including 55 children.

The toll includes 254 Gazan deaths, mostly during peaceful Great March of Return demonstrations, assaulted by extreme Israeli violence. 

Another 34 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, two others in Jewish state territory – all of it stolen from Palestinians.

Repeated incidents throughout the year, and every year, “are a direct result of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and the top military command, and backed by the judicial system,” B’Tselem stressed, adding: 

“As long as Israel adheres to this policy, despite its predictable outcomes, the casualties will continue to amass.”

Extremist settlers killed at least three Palestinians, harmed many others, including young children. A Palestinians woman threatening no one, Aishah Rabi, was stoned to death in a car she was riding in.

Most Palestinian deaths are because of Israel’s shoot-first-ask-no-questions policy, its longstanding contempt for Palestinian lives and welfare.

Israel considers cold-blooded murder self-defense. Soldiers given unlawful orders use live fire against peaceful demonstrators in Gaza and elsewhere in the Territories.

“Despite the predictable lethal outcomes, Israel has refused to alter its policy,” said B’Tselem, adding:

“This ongoing profound disregard for the lives of Palestinians is broadly backed by senior policy-makers in the military, the government and the judicial system.” 

Almost never is anyone “held accountable for these incidents, and the military law enforcement system whitewashes them. Given this sweeping support and the lack of accountability for these deaths, such incidents will continue” – as they have since the Jewish state’s creation.

Law enforcement in Occupied Palestine is “a whitewash mechanism,” B’Tselem stressed. Investigations when conducted, including violent incidents causing deaths and injuries, are routinely whitewashed.

Senior government and military officials are never held accountable for the worst of high crimes against Palestinians – rank-and-file military personnel almost never. The rarest of rare exceptions prove the rule.

Military law enforcement shows almost no attempts to punish Israeli wrongdoers when it comes crimes against Palestinians.

Settlers nearly always go unpunished for violent and vandalism incidents. One aggrieved Palestinian said the following:

“The settlers have the army, the state and the law on their side to protect them. We don’t have anyone. We’re guilty even if we did nothing. We’re always the guilty ones. It’s really hard to feel that your life is in danger and your property is being destroyed in front of your eyes.”

A Palestinian woman recounted the horror of a settler attack she and her husband endured, saying the following:

“At first, I thought that the people standing by the road were Palestinians who work in the settlements. As we got closer, I noticed that they were masked, and then they started to throw stones at us.” 

“One of the stones shattered the front windshield and I hollered in fear. I told my husband to drive quickly.” 

“I heard the stones hitting the car and felt that we were about to die, especially when the settlers chased after us after we’d passed them.” 

“Iman asked me to recite verses from the Quran and to trust in God. I was shaking with fear and cold, because the window had been broken and it was very windy.” 

‘Small fragments of glass got in my eye and I felt stinging and pain. I couldn’t open my eye and lots of tears were coming out.” 

“When we got home, I left Rital with my sister and went to see the doctor at the village clinic. He cleaned my eye and gave me some liquid to rinse it with.” 

“I got home at about eleven o’clock and I couldn’t sleep because I was so scared. I couldn’t get the images of the attack out of my mind.” 

“It’s like they found live prey to attack. I still panic when I think about it. On Saturday my husband went to Nablus to replace the front windshield. It cost us 700 shekels. The body of the car also need to be repaired, and that will cost us more money and take time.”

Countless other horror stories are similar to the above ones. Yesh Din volunteers for human rights include lawyers, human rights experts, and other professionals.

They document, compile, and disseminate information on human rights violations in the Territories – by security forces and settlers, complicit with each other against defenseless Palestinians.

Numerous incidents happen almost daily. Palestinians are longstanding victims of a ruthless occupier, Gazans suffering most of all.

USA v. Distinguished Iranian/American Journalist Marzieh Hashemi

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Distinguished Press TV journalist/anchor’s unlawful arrest, detention and mistreatment by the FBI, on the pretext of being a material witness regarding a case her family knows nothing about, gave the US another international black eye.

What happened captured world headlines, hopefully enough to help hasten Marzieh’s release. Press TV, the Tehran Times, and other Iranian media continue giving the case extensive coverage.

International print and electronic media have had feature stories on what happened – including RT, Sputnik News, the NYT, Washington Post, AP News, Reuters, CBS, NBC, and ABC News, CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera, the BBC, London Guardian, Haaretz, and numerous other outlets.

They’ve elevated Marzieh’s status as a distinguished international journalist to an even higher level than before what happened – by highlighting her unacceptable arrest, detention, and mistreatment uncharged. 

They explained what the NYT wrote as follows, saying “no reason (was) given for her arrest…(H)er Islamic head scarf (was) forcibly removed…(S)he was chained hand and foot, and…denied access to halal food and had eaten only crackers.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced what happened, saying “(t)he custody of Iran’s reporter in the US is highly political, and she should be released immediately.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the following:

“The imprisonment of a reporter who is nonwhite and enters the US demonstrates how the approach of Mr. Trump’s government is based on racist and discriminatory policies within an apartheid regime. We hope that this innocent person is unconditionally released soon.”

Tehran Times editor Muhammad Qaderi said her mistreatment shows the real face of the US to the world community.

The Iranian High Council for Human Rights called “her violent and humiliating treatment” a brazen example of arbitrary arrest and detention, accusing the US of “illegal, unjustifiable and anti-human rights measures” – a flagrant violation of her fundamental rights, how Washington operates domestically and abroad.

Program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Alexandra Ellerbeck expressed concern about Marzieh’s arrest and detention. She “call(ed) on the US Department of Justice to immediately disclose the basis for her detention…”

Her colleague and friend Nader Talevzadeh called her arrest a “concocted (US) plan,” part of its hostility toward the Islamic Republic. “This is intimidation and a provocation against Iran,” he stressed.

Marzieh is unlawfully held by the FBI at an undisclosed Washington location with minimal family contact and no legal representation for days. 

Reportedly a lawyer has now been appointed on her behalf. Most so-called public defenders woefully ill-serve clients with little time available to present a proper defense everyone deserves in judicial proceedings.

According to federal authorities, Marzieh appeared twice before a US district judge on Friday, an appointed lawyer representing her.

A partially unsealed order for her arrest and detention provided no information about what happened and why, other than she’s held as a material witness to an unspecified criminal case her family knows nothing about.

She’s detained to give grand jury testimony. Witnesses before these proceedings are only present during their testimony to a prosecutor and grand jurors, no judge or legal representation present. 

Conducted to determine if a crime was committed, proceedings are secret, a majority of jurors required for an indictment to be issued.

Witnesses are required to answer questions by a prosecutor and jurors, criminal suspect(s) usually not present during proceedings.

Prosecutors try to establish probable cause to indict. They manipulate grand juries, gaming the system to get judgments they seek, justice denied time and again. Proceedings often amount to a sword for injustice, not a shield against it.

Witnesses accused of nothing can be indicted if prosecutors claim they gave false or misleading testimonies. They’re not told of the risk, making them vulnerable if this was the prosecutorial intent for demanding their testimony.

Clever ones can manipulate witnesses to unwittingly mislead. Anything said under oath or otherwise can be used against them. Given extreme US hostility toward Iran, Marzieh is vulnerable to a gross miscarriage of justice – besides what she’s endured so far.

A US citizen working in Iran for the past decade, dividing her time between both countries, she explained her conversion to Islam as follows, saying she “was born in a religious Christian family, and since 26 or 27 years ago I have become Muslim,” adding: 

“For me, embracing Islam is directly in relation to Islamic revolution of Iran and the characteristic of Imam Khomeini.” 

“When I was a student in America, I witnessed that the Iranian students are so active and I was so interested in political activities then, I used to ask them about their activities and purposes, why you protest?” 

“And they used to talk about the cruelty of the overset king and Imam Khomeini to me, and this was the first step for me becoming Muslim.” 

“I was looking for the truth and I wasn’t satisfied with my own religion, and I had no solution for the problem that the God has three parts of the Father, and the Son, and the holy Sprit, But still where one?” 

“I wasn’t convinced with answers when I asked from different people, when this issue happened to be in university, I started to study not only about Islam but about different religions, and simultaneously comparing them in theory and ideology, from Max Weber up to now, and thank God after I became Muslim.”

Explaining her career in journalism, she said “I am a Press TV correspondent and the editor in chief of Mahjubah magazine in America. I am a presenter and political analyst.” 

“Press TV is the first 24-hour English Channel in Iran. From the beginning of the Attack of America against Iraq, the people are watching it to know about the stand point of Iran and what Iran says, because the other channels weren’t covering the war, and it played a considerable role in Israel’s (undeclared war on) Gaza, so people are watching it to find out the truth and reality.”

Marzieh’s son Hossein fears she’ll be detained for an indefinite period, hopeful things will turn out otherwise, saying “(i)t doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. (W)e’re waiting to hear more.”

In March 2011, Obama’s Executive Order 13567 authorized indefinite detentions and military commission trials – violating America’s Fifth Amendment, stating:

“No person…shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” – constitutional law the US consistently breaches.

In December 2011, America’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legitimized unconstitutional and international law prohibited indefinite detentions – everyone potentially vulnerable, including US citizens without just cause.

No proof is needed, no habeas, due process or equal protection afforded anyone targeted. The 1215 Magna Carta states the following:

“No free man (woman or child) shall be seized, or imprisoned, or stripped of his (or her) rights or possessions, or outlawed, or exiled, or deprived of his (or her) standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him (or her), or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his (or her) equals, or by the law of the land.”

“Due process of law” later substituted for “the law of the land.” It’s inviolable, breaching it flagrantly unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee applies to US federal, state and local governance, no exceptions permitted.

Yet targeted individuals are extrajudicially arrested and detained at home and abroad, held indefinitely uncharged and untried, based on suspicions, hearsay, secret evidence, or any other pretext.

Constitutional law and Supreme Court rulings, affirming the inviolability of due process and equal protection rights, are breached by the US time and again.

Friday district court proceedings provided no information about Marziah’s detention, other than explaining she’s not accused of a crime – not so far.

What the Trump regime has in mind is unknown until things unfold ahead. Marziah is being used, a victim of US contempt for the fundamental rights of everyone, doing whatever it pleases unaccountably.

Reuters cited an unnamed US federal source, saying Press TV is being investigated as an Iranian “propaganda outlet.”

It’s a preeminent truth-telling news service, featuring distinguished guests, providing in-depth information on major world issues, explaining what everyone needs to know.

It’s polar opposite managed news misinformation and disinformation featured by US and other Western media, suppressing what should be featured.

It’s unclear what’s ahead for Marzieh. It’s very clear that her arrest, detention and mistreatment constitute flagrant constitutional and international law violations.

What happened to her and countless others in America can happen to anyone. Their struggle for justice is ours!

US Training Saudi and UAE Pilots for Combat in Yemen

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Yemen is one of many US forever wars – key NATO countries, Israel, Jordan, the Saudis and UAE partnering in them.

US special forces operate in Yemen. Pentagon drone war has been ongoing in the country without letup since launched by Bush/Cheney in October 2001, weeks after 9/11.

A no-ceasefire/ceasefire reflects conditions on the ground. War rages with no prospect for resolution because bipartisan US hardliners reject ending it. Claiming otherwise is political pretense.

Daily reports show endless conflict continues. US-backed Saudi/UAE forces keep battling Houthi fighters, including in areas around the strategic port city of Hodeidah, ceasefire agreed on more illusion than reality.

Saudi/UAE terror-bombing goes on daily – overnight against Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital. A Houthi statement said “(t)his escalation comes under the direction and supervision of the U.S…This escalation will be met with an escalation.”

Earlier calls by US officials for peaceful conflict resolution in Yemen were pure deception. Republicans and undemocratic Dems reject restoring peace and stability to war-ravaged countries.

According to Military Times last November, the Pentagon’s so-called Operation Yukon Journey involves US military operations in Africa and the Middle East – on the phony pretext of defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda Washington created and supports.

The Middle East operation is designated “Support to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Partner Nations in Yemen.” Along with providing weapons, munitions, intelligence, and logistics support, the Pentagon has been training Saudi and UAE pilots for combat in Yemen.

Federal procurement documents show the US air force has been using a private contractor to train Saudi pilots at its US facility.

A previous article discussed US and UK involvement in supplying the Saudis with billions of dollars worth of weapons and munitions annually, Pentagon contractors involved in training its military personnel in their use.

Under the so-called United States Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia, USMTM trains, advises and assists the kingdom’s armed forces, including through military exercises and related activities.

USMTM is a joint US army, navy, air force and marine corps joint command, an extensive arrangement with the kingdom since the 1950s – under the 1951 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and later USMTM agreement.

An earlier London Daily Mail report said Britain is secretly training Saudi’s military, aiding its genocidal war in Yemen.

Documents obtained through an FOIA request show Pentagon personnel have been and likely still are actively involved in training UAE pilots for combat operations in Yemen.

According to an air force memo dated December 18, 2017, its personnel “assisted (the training of) 150 (UAE) airmen in challenging (exercises) to prepare (them) for combat ops in Yemen.”

Further training was provided UAE pilots at the country’s Pentagon operated Al Dhafra airbase, the memo saying:

“Unit fighter personnel advanced the UAE’s F-16 fighter pilot training program; 3 pilots flew 243 instructor sorties/323 hrs that created 4 new instructors & 29 combat wingmen who immediately deployed for combat operations in Yemen.”

CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Josh Jacques lied, saying “(w)e do not conduct exercises with (Saudi and UAE airmen) to prepare for combat operations in Yemen.” 

Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford turned truth on its head, claiming the US is “not a participant in the civil war (sic) in Yemen, nor are we supporting one side or another.”

Hard evidence refutes both of the above statements. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Central Asia and North Africa are US launched and waged, nothing civil about any of them. Nor are they involved in combating the scourge of terrorism the US supports, using jihadists as proxy troops.

None of the above information should surprise. The Pentagon and private military contractors it enlists are actively involved in training and otherwise working directly with the armed forces of numerous countries worldwide.

What’s going on is all about advancing America’s imperium, largely by waging endless wars and related military activities.

Trump is like his predecessors, co-opted to go along with a dirty system, raging since Harry Truman’s war on North Korea in the early 1950s.

Endless US wars of aggression rage with no prospect for resolution, others drafted to be launched if and when ordered – every sovereign independent country potentially targeted, including Russia, China and Iran.

Israel Has Been Weakened by The War on Syria: Only 5% of The Iranian And Hezbollah Arsenal Has Been Destroyed in Syria

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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Intelligence sources said “Israel wants Syria to return to the era before 2011 when the leaders of the country were less powerful and experienced than they are today after seven years of warfare, the delivery of Russian advanced equipment mostly for air defence, the supply and manufacturer of sophisticated Iranian missiles in Syria and the formative presence of Iranian and Hezbollah advisors”. The sources reveal that “Israeli officials told their American counterparts that it would be inappropriate to withdraw forces from the northeast of Syria, leaving Iran and its allies behind. The withdrawal – which now seems partial – of US forces should be done, if not before, at least simultaneously with the departure of all foreign forces operating on Syrian soil to create a balance of power on the ground. Also, it is important to stipulate that President Bashar al-Assad must refrain from using his mid-range precision missiles against Israel any time in the future as part of any US withdrawal from Syria deal. Israel argued that the US is delivering the Levant to Russia and the ‘Axis of the Resistance’ without any concessions in return”, according to the source.

The US establishment seems unwilling to cater to Israeli’s exaggerated anxieties. US officials visiting Tel Aviv told local officials that “the Israeli army holds enough military power to defend itself and that since 1974 Israel has no longer been on the defensive in the region. On the contrary, Israel has been on the offensive, taking the initiative to attack targets in Syria during these seven years of war”. According to western officials, the US reminded Israel that thousands of American forces are based in the country, in the Mediterranean and in various military bases the Middle East. These can intervene in favour of Israel in a timely way whenever appropriate. Therefore, Israel should stop screaming for unneeded help, when it is the one inflicting damage on its adversaries”.

Israel has repeatedly bombed targets in Syria belonging to the Syrian army and the “Axis of the Resistance”. It pushed the red lines even further when it bombed Iranian officials at the T4 airbase in 2018, killing several Iranian officers. In 2019, Israel already bombed a warehouse at Damascus airport, hours after the off-loading of Iranian military cargo. Although most of the Israeli missiles were shot down, a few managed to reach their target. Nevertheless, these bombings have little meaning on the strategic level because, although Israel has shown the long reach of its missiles, it has dramatically failed in its goal of crippling the missile capability of Syria and of Hezbollah in the Lebanon and Syria. During his recent visit to Cairo US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hezbollah today has “over 130,000 missiles”.

If, as Israeli Chief of Staff General Gadi Eisenkot says, Israel “has complete intelligence superiority in the area” of Lebanon and Syria, how can he explain the arrival and deployment of a hundred and thirty thousands missiles – according to Pompeo – in Hezbollah’s hands? Eisenkot misled the Israelis when he said “Hezbollah possesses no accurate missile capabilities, except for small and negligible ones”. Indeed, when the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, warned Israel that he would “respond against any Israeli attack on Lebanon”, Israel heeded his warning and refrained from attacking any target in Lebanon. Throughout the war in Syria, Israeli jets violated the Lebanese airspace and flew over Lebanon to bomb Syria but didn’t dare to attack any Hezbollah objective in Lebanon, limiting themselves to attacking Hezbollah’s military trucks, Syrian and Iranian objectives in the Levant.

According to well-connected sources, Israeli jets fired warning missiles in front of targeted trucks – before destroying the target later on – to avoid human casualties for fear of Hezbollah retaliation. If Israeli intelligence about the supposedly limited military power of Hezbollah is accurate, it makes no sense for Eisenkot to boast about his allegedly almighty military power against a “negligible enemy,” as he describes the military capability of the Lebanese “party of God”.

Sources operating in Syria and Lebanon agree with Israeli statements that Israel has bombarded various objectives in Syria with thousands of bombs, as announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Nevertheless, they claim that only 5% of the total weapon supply was intercepted and destroyed.

“Israel’s bombing of targets in Syria has been neither strategic nor tactical. They were political attacks aimed at boosting Netanyahu’s image. These strikes did not weaken the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) nor Hezbollah. Israel contradicts itself all the time. For example, the Israelis say: Hezbollah is the fifth most powerful force in the world, but is very weak and has limited power… Hezbollah is digging four tunnels which represent a serious threat to Israel’s national security, etc.”, said the source.

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In fact, Israel has not provoked or attacked Hezbollah since the 2006 war. The only serious attack was registered in 2015 by a drone in Quneitra that killed Jihad Mughnnieh and the Iranian General Mohammad Ali AllahDade. The attack was not planned but rather an opportunistic attack on an Iranian-Hezbollah convoy of 3 four-wheel drive vehicles who spent several hours playing in the snow in an area in sight of an Israeli observation point. Israel didn’t know who was the target and certainly was unaware of the presence of the IRGC General. In retaliation, Hezbollah attacked an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa Farms killing several soldiers and an officer. Israel turned a blind eye and the tit-for-tat was closed between the two sides.

President Assad and his allies believe that Israel is trying to provoke Syria to respond to its violations of Syrian sovereignty in order to postpone or avoid a US withdrawal from Syria. For this reason, they prefer to not respond directly to Israeli provocations, in the expectation of a US withdrawal. Nevertheless, President Trump’s recent comments about “a 20 mile buffer zone” on the borders is an indication that he now intends to keep some forces in Syria and carry out only a partial rather than a full withdrawal of US troops.

Syria and its allies will need to reassess their strategy in response to Israeli aggression and US occupying troops when the dust settles in the northeast of Syria. So far, it is impossible to ascertain what Trump will decide in view of his ongoing contradictory statements about the US occupation of Syria.

Notwithstanding Trump’s intentions towards Syria and his fickle withdrawal plans, Israel has failed in all of its objectives in Syria: the Syrian government is still in place, the army has been rebuilt and Hezbollah and Iran have trained local fighters who are determined to stand against Israel in due course. Today, in 2019, Hezbollah has received all the missiles and different weaponry needed – as Pompeo has admitted– and Iran is a source of great concern for Israel and the US, present on its Syria front where before it was present only on the borders with Lebanon. Therefore, Israel, despite its heated media declarations and the thousands of targets it has hit in Syria in recent years, feels much more vulnerable today than it did in 2011.

Also, the Iraqi front cannot be discounted: al-Hashd al-Shaabi, the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Force, was created in 2014 to stand against ISIS. Today it is made up of tens of thousands of men highly trained and equipped with a strong ideology comparable to that of Hezbollah and Iran. Iranian influence has expanded from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq. Israel has grounds for concern.

But that is not all: Iran is present in Yemen where Saudi Arabia’s destructive war against the Houthis has offered Iran a unique opportunity to support the oppressed against the oppressor. Iran has also managed to create a foothold in Afghanistan: the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was invited to Tehran along with a high-ranking Taliban delegation. Iran licked its wounds when Taliban killed ten Iranian diplomats in Mazar i-Sharif and eventually managed to overcome its differences with Taliban for the greater cause of standing up to US hegemony in Afghanistan.

Iran and Syria have shown patience in biding their time and building their strength. After its 1979 revolution Iran’s government had little international experience. It began support of Hezbollah in 1982. Thirty-five years later, Hezbollah has become an organised irregular army present on many Middle Eastern fronts. While Israel may enjoy provoking Syria with tactical attacks and thousands of bombardments against various targets, the new strategic reality is inescapable. Both Iran and Syria have survived continuous threats and wars but have managed to pull through stronger. At the same time Israel, a nuclear power with the strongest air force in the Middle East, is to-date refraining from attacking Lebanon, a small country hardly visible on the world map. Israel is deterred by three words from Sayyed Nasrallah to the powerful Tel Aviv leaders who enjoy the unlimited support of a superpower (USA): Don’t try us!

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