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Who’s the Terrorist: Trump Praises Saudi Arabia, Demonizes Iran

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Trump stated at the UN today regarding Iran: “We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons.”

BEAU GROSSCUP,  bgrosscup at csuchico.edu
Grosscup is emeritus professor at California State University, Chico. His books include The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment.

He said today: “In Trump’s speech, as is often the case from U.S. government pronouncements, the emphasis is on counter-terrorism with Saudis. Among other things, this ignores how U.S. and Saudi policies have enabled groups like ISIS and al Qaeda. We saw this same ‘us vs. them’ approach in the State Department ‘report on terrorism’ that was just released last week.

“The demonization of Iran was particularly ironic given that civilians were just killed in what would ordinarily be called a terrorist attack there.

“Particularly notable was Trump painting the Saudis as part of the solution in the Yemen war when they have been unleashing horrific bombing in that country with catastrophic results.”

Trump at the UN and the “P1”

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Heads of state, including Trump, are scheduled to begin addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. On Wednesday, with the U.S. as the rotating president of the UN Security Council this month, Trump is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Council.

JAMES PAUL, james.paul.nyc at gmail.com
Paul is author of the new book Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy and Power in the UN Security Council.

He said today: “The topic of the Wednesday Security Council meeting — Iran — was pushed onto the agenda in the usual ‘P1’ way, with the U.S. insisting on a debate on the Iran nuclear deal in spite of the opposition of the other members.

“The U.S. is in clear breach of an earlier SC resolution endorsing and implementing the Iran nuclear deal. Will other SC members remain silent…? Russia and China are likely to point out this discrepancy. Iran will be in the room and likely to speak.

“The biggest question will be whether Trump will use the opportunity to announce new sanctions or even military operations against Iran. Rumor has it that Washington is pressing NATO and other allies to join it, Israel and Saudi Arabia in a coalition of the willing to overthrow the perfidious mullahs and restore democracy to Iran. …

He just wrote the piece “Trump at the UN — a Dramatist Seizes an Opportunity,” which states: “Trump has grievously weakened the UN and multilateralism. Who can forget the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council, the withdrawal from UNESCO, the demanded cuts to the UN’s core budgets, and the diminished U.S. contributions to many of the UN funds and programs … and the plan to destroy the International Criminal Court. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, is famous for his hostility to the UN.

“But the President comes — as they all come — not out of enthusiasm for the UN and multilateralism but to take advantage of the theatrical opportunity. For Trump in particular, it is a chance to reach for global grandiosity, to rail against foreign enemies, to ‘disrupt’ the status quo and to bask in the limelight of the frenzied news media.”

In his book, Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy and Power in the UN Security Council, Paul writes: “Though the P5 [permanent five members of the Security Council] share the same powers and privileges, they are far from equals. They form a steep hierarchy, which is reflected in the language of UN insiders. First and foremost there is the ‘P1’ — the United States — with its unique and exceptional influence, far above the rest. Then there is the ‘P2’ — the duo of the United States and its close ally, the United Kingdom. Between them they largely run the show, with assistance from France, with whom they constitute the ‘P3.’ Finally, and well behind in Council influence, are Russia and China, for whom a special ‘P’ designation is not used. Senior P3 diplomats have openly stated that they — the P3 — ‘run’ the Security Council and largely control it.” The full text of the book is available online.

Paul is also author of Syria Unmasked and was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN, for nearly 20 years. He was also a longtime editor of the Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project.

Suing Over Israeli Nuclear Coverup That’s Allowed $222 Billion in Funding

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Next week, Trump is expected to focus on Iran and North Korea during a session of the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, official Washington refuses to admit that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal, see video of Pence and others.

Thursday, at the State Department briefing, while defending the cutoff of funding to hospitals and other relief efforts for Palestinians, spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “It’s as though some folks here think that we can never spend — we, the United States Government, can never spend enough money. We can never spend enough money to satisfy some critics’ concerns.” Israel has long been the largest recipient of U.S. funding, exceeding that of all sub-Saharan Africa.

GRANT F. SMITH, @IRmep
Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. The group just announced that a lawsuit “has been filed against the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA] demanding immediate release of presidential letters held by the George W. Bush and William J. Clinton presidential libraries.

“The New Yorker in June reported Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barak Obama and Donald Trump all issued letters at the beginning of their terms promising never to pressure the Israeli government into signing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT] or publicly discuss Israel’s nuclear weapons program.”IRmep believes the government of Israel sought the guarantees in order to preempt Arms Export Control Act [AECA] limitations on U.S. aid to foreign countries with clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

“Defendant NARA refused to release the letters to IRmep under the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that to even confirm or deny their existence is a classified national security matter. Obama and Trump administration records are unavailable under the Presidential Records Act and FOIA.

“Plaintiff argues that the authorities cited in the NARA classification decision under Executive Order 13526 are unlawful since 13526 specifically prohibits classification of information to ‘conceal violations of law.’

“The Symington and Glenn Amendments to the AECA restrict and condition all U.S. foreign aid to nuclear weapons countries that have not signed the NPT.

“Multiple IRmep lawsuits argue that U.S. aid to Israel violates the AECA and that secrecy is improperly invoked to conceal that the U.S. has long known Israel is a nuclear power. IRmep is also suing the U.S. Departments of State and Energy to release WNP-136, a ‘gag order’ that severely punishes federal employees that publicly release U.S. government information, speak or write forthrightly about Israel’s nuclear weapons.

“Since American presidents first began signing the secret pledges to Israel, inflation-adjusted U.S. aid to Israel has grown to $99.9 billion, not counting ‘black budgets.’ Since the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the AECA became law in 1976, U.S. aid to Israel grew to $222.8 billion. Since 1948, Israel is the largest cumulative U.S. foreign aid recipient.”

Kavanaugh “Can’t Be Trusted”

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[Former Senator Russ Feingold just wrote the piece “We Know Brett Kavanaugh Has Lied Already” for the Huffington Post.]

BOB SCHIFF, robertfschiff at gmail.com
JEFF BERMAN, jeffberman at gmail.com
KRISTINE LUCIUS, lucius at civilrights.org
LISA GRAVES, lisa at documentedinvestigations.org
Schiff served as chief counsel for Senator Russ Feingold; Lucius served as nominations counsel and staff director for Senator Patrick Leahy; Berman served as chief counsel for Senator Charles Schumer; Graves served as chief counsel for nominations for Sen. Leahy.

They just wrote the piece “Brett Kavanaugh Can’t Be Trusted. We Know Because We Worked as Counsel to Senators When He Was in the Bush White House” for Time magazine.

They write: “We watched the testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee with dismay and disbelief. His many misleading and false statements cast serious doubt on whether he should be confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. …

“This is not about the dance many nominees attempt in order to avoid expressing an opinion on legal issues they might face on the court. It is about a pattern of deceptive answers on a range of questions about his past activities and agenda to change our laws through the courts. We believe this deception, both earlier this month and in his 2004 and 2006 nomination hearings for the D.C. Circuit, was intentional.”

They give several examples, including: “At his first confirmation hearing in April 2004, Kavanaugh said he had never received material stolen from Democrats. He repeated that testimony in May 2006 under questioning by both Democratic Senators and Chairman Hatch.

“But emails released earlier this month, after originally being deemed ‘committee confidential,’ show that Kavanaugh was in frequent contact with [Manuel] Miranda and received material that had been stolen from the Senate Judiciary Committee server. These emails contradict his testimony under oath. …”

Will Kavanaugh Take a Lie Detector Test?

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The Washington Post reports: “An attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who alleged Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh assaulted her when the two were in high school, said Monday that Ford is willing to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee.” The Post also reports “On the advice of [attorney Debra] Katz, who said she believed Ford would be attacked as a liar if she came forward, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August.”

Time magazine just published the piece “Brett Kavanaugh Can’t Be Trusted. We Know Because We Worked as Counsel to Senators When He Was in the Bush White House.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and has taught criminal law. He said today: “Kavanaugh clearly has little compulsion against lying under oath. Prof. Christine Blasey Ford has taken and passed a lie detector test. So the question becomes: Will Kavanaugh take a lie detector test?” See Boyle’s analysis in The Guardian and the IPA news release “Kavanaugh and the Federalist Society” and “Will a Member of Congress Move to Impeach Kavanaugh?

See recent piece from The Daily Beast: “Newly Released Emails Show Brett Kavanaugh May Have Perjured Himself at Least Four Times,”

Also, see from FAIR: “Establishment Media Shy Away From Claims of Perjury by Kavanaugh.”

Kavanaugh’s Pattern of Lying Under Oath

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LISA GRAVES, Lisa at documentedinvestigations.org, @thelisagraves
Graves just co-wrote the piece “Brett Kavanaugh Can’t Be Trusted. We Know Because We Worked as Counsel to Senators When He Was in the Bush White House” for Time magazine. She also recently wrote the piece “I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About” for Slate.

She is the former chief counsel for nominations for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice. Graves is the co-founder of Documented, which investigates corporate influence on democracy.

She writes that Kavanaugh should be removed from his current judgeship “because he was repeatedly asked under oath as part of his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for his position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about whether he had received such information from [GOP Senate aide Manuel] Miranda, and each time he falsely denied it.

“For example, in 2004, Sen. Orrin Hatch asked him directly if he received ‘any documents that appeared to you to have been drafted or prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.’ Kavanaugh responded, unequivocally, ‘No.’

“In 2006, Sen. Ted Kennedy asked him if he had any regrets about how he treated documents he had received from Miranda that he later learned were stolen. Kavanaugh rejected the premise of the question, restating that he never even saw one of those documents.

“Back then the senators did not have the emails that they have now, showing that Miranda sent Kavanaugh numerous documents containing what was plainly research by Democrats. Some of those emails went so far as to warn Kavanaugh not to distribute the Democratic talking points he was being given. …

Graves writes: “He lied. Under oath. And he did so repeatedly.

“Significantly, he did so even though a few years earlier he had helped spearhead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for perjury in a private civil case. Back then Kavanaugh took lying under oath so seriously that he was determined to do everything he could to help remove a president from office.

“Now we know that he procured his own confirmation to the federal bench by committing the same offense. And he did so not in a private case but in the midst of public hearings for a position of trust, for a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.” See recent New York Times piece “Brett Kavanaugh Urged Graphic Questions in Clinton Inquiry.”

Ten Years after Lehman: A Co-op Revival

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NATHAN SCHNEIDER, nathan.schneider at colorado.edu, @ntnsndr
Schneider is author of Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy, published this week by Nation Books.

Schneider said today: “The financial crisis that many are remembering this month with the 10-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy on Sept. 15, was a crisis of accountability. In the service of its investor owners, the financial industry was willing to sacrifice millions of people’s homes and jobs for profits. In the years since, there’s been a revival in another kind of business, showing how it has already shaped our world and could provide a real alternative to Wall Street.

“Cooperatives are businesses owned by and accountable to their participants — ranging from small grocery stores to Cabot Creamery and Organic Valley, from Ace Hardware to the Associated Press. There’s a new generation bringing this legacy into the 21st century, building co-ops out of Bitcoin and low-wage care-work, challenging the likes of Uber and the coal industry, as electric co-ops are doing.

“The co-op tradition is also a trans-partisan consensus hiding in plain sight. Both Democrats and Republicans have sponsored recent legislation to support credit unions and expand employee ownership. Cooperative business is something that can bring us together and address the root causes of this major crisis.”

Schneider is also a professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Ecological Disasters: Causes and Remedies

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VICTOR WALLIS, zendive at aol.com
Wallis is the author of the new book Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism.

He writes: “The disaster that ecological activists of the last half-century have sought to prevent is already vividly present. Its most dramatic expression, apart from the endlessly repeated scenes of fire, flood, parched earth, and emaciated polar bears, is the tens of millions of refugees, desperate for a place to live. Some are fleeing sea-level rise and flooded or storm-battered homes; others are fleeing wars precipitated by sustained, drought-induced collapses of the food supply (as in Syria, Central Africa, and Central America). Still others are fleeing wars and repression that reflect long-standing imperialist projects, but whose initiators have become ever more intransigent as they seek to ward off the prospect of a diminished resource-base.

“Increasing percentages of the refugees, if they survive their typically harrowing treks or dangerous sea voyages, come up against vast numbers of agents ‘trained, armed, and paid to stop them.’ This drive to ‘stop them’ is promoted by a ruling class which at the same time relentlessly stokes the economic engines of capital that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place. While the top U.S. mouthpiece of this ruling class, along with his acolytes at the Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency, mocks the reality of climate change, the military leaders who command the system’s armed enforcers have had no hesitation (for at least the last fifteen years) in publicly situating what they acknowledge to be the consequences of global warming — the droughts, floods, and hurricanes that directly or indirectly have pushed mass migration to its current extreme levels — at the center of their concerns.

“The alternatives are sharply etched. The currently dominant forces, rather than join the fight against climate change, erect walls to block out its victims. By militarizing the problem, they not only draw resources away from any possible remedial steps; they also accelerate the spread of devastation.”

“Climate Change Supercharging” Hurricanes

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KEVIN TRENBERTH, trenbert at ucar.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Trenberth is a distinguished senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

He said today: “Human-caused increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere produced an energy imbalance and its partitioning between atmospheric, ocean, cryosphere and land heat reservoirs govern how the global climate evolves. Most of the imbalance, over 90 percent, goes into the ocean and accordingly OHC [ocean heat content] provides a primary indicator of climate change, along with sea level rise.

“Last year [2017] was the warmest year on record for the global OHC down to 2000 meters depth and the latest quarter (April to June) is the hottest on record. The heat fuels storms of all sorts and contributes to very heavy rain events and flooding. Hurricanes are natural, but climate change is supercharging them!

“The observed increases of upper OHC support higher sea surface temperatures and atmospheric moisture, and fuels tropical storms to become more intense, bigger and longer lasting, thereby increasing their potential for damage. Sea level is also steadily rising, increasing risks from coastal storm surges. The damage and loss of life from such storms does not have to be disastrous, however, if there is adequate preparation. We have the options of stopping or slowing climate change from humans, and/or adapting to and planning for the consequences, but we are not doing enough of either!” See recent paper Trenberth co-wrote.

Major Attack on Syria Approaching?

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PETER FORD, peterford14 at yahoo.com
Ford was the U.K.’s ambassador in Syria and Bahrain before joining the United Nations to work on refugee issues. He is the co-chairman of the British Syrian Society. He recently wrote the piece “Is a Syrian Suez approaching?

Ford recalls the Suez crisis: “The plan was for France, soon joined by the U.K., to invade Egypt on the pretext of safeguarding the Suez Canal, in hopes of precipitating the overthrow of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Tripartite Aggression, as the Arabs call it, was duly triggered on 29 October 1956, when Israel invaded.”

He warns that a similar plan may be unfolding in Syria: “September 2018 is likely to witness another tripartite aggression based on pretexts and plotting, this time involving the U.S. alongside the U.K. and France. The victim now is Syria.

“The three governments in April staged a rehearsal for the upcoming performance, responding with bombing raids to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma. While Plan A for the raids involved heavy attacks on presidential offices and armed forces command and control centers, President Donald Trump was reportedly talked down from this by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, concerned by the prospect of possible clashes with Russia and risks to U.S. forces stationed in Syria.

“Aspects of the Douma operation conspired to make it likely that Plan A would be given a fresh run, which is now imminent. …

“It is not necessary to rehash the mountain of evidence pointing to the probability that Douma was fabricated. Suffice to say that OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] inspectors, in their interim report presented on 6 July, stated that they had found no evidence that chemical weapons such as nerve agents had been used, and that the evidence for the use of chlorine as a weapon was inconclusive. …

“Were there any doubt that skulduggery was afoot, it was removed by media reports, based on Russian statements and briefings, of the White Helmets being on maneuver in the vicinity of Jisr al-Shughur, and the transfer to a nearby village of canisters of chlorine, under the direction of English-speaking special forces or contractors.

“Simultaneously, reports appeared of the U.S. bolstering its naval presence in the Gulf and land forces in Iraq on the borders with Syria. Russia has moved more of its naval forces into Syrian territorial waters in response to the warning of imminent action, say reports.

“How could anybody be so credulous as to believe a conspiracy theory like this, and from such tainted sources? Was it for a moment believable that the British or the Americans could be so duplicitous as to create for themselves a pretext to bomb a weak country in the Middle East? No need to go back as far as Suez to answer that; a quick recap of events in Iraq (weapons of mass destruction again) and Libya (baselessly alleged imminent massacres in Benghazi) would suffice.”

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