Two days before Bolivian president Evo Morales was pushed out by the country’s military, Mark Weisbot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research penned a warning about what was happening, and what might unfold, in a Nation article titled, The Trump Administration Is Undercutting Democracy in Bolivia.
Multilateral organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS) have a certain perceived impartiality because they are, in theory, controlled by a diverse group of nations. But sometimes a great power can wield a disproportionate influence. It could theoretically be a coincidence that both the Trump administration and the OAS have tried—without offering any evidence—to discredit Bolivia’s national election in the past couple of weeks. But it’s more likely that this dangerous, ugly, and destabilizing operation is being pushed by Washington.
This “destabilizing operation” came to a head yesterday when Morales resigned under pressure from the military amidst a wave of protests and violence. The situation is Bolivia is complicated, but one thing you can be sure of is anything you hear or read in U.S. mass media will be a heaping pile of lies and propaganda. Fortunately, I came across a really helpful thread courtesy of Kevin Cashman.
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“Major movers” such as China, Russia and the European Union have a strong “motivation to de-dollarize,” said Korin, co-director at the energy and security think tank, on Wednesday.
“We don’t know what’s going to come next, but what we do know is that the current situation is unsustainable.”
– Anne Korin, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.
Irrespective of where you reside in the world, chances are you feel some sense of unease, a nagging concern for the future and a deep instinctual understanding that an era you knew and navigated your entire life is slipping away and won’t be coming back.
We’ve been witnessing widespread protest and unrest across countries with distinct political and economic systems, such as Hong Kong, France, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, Lebanon and Venezuela just to name a few. Those with vested interests and an ideological solution to sell insist it’s all because of socialism, capitalism or some other ism, but the truth is this goes far deeper than that. What’s actually happening is the geopolitical and economic paradigm that’s dominated the planet for decades is failing, and rather than address the failure in any real sense, elites globally are have decided to loot everything they possibly can until the house of cards comes crashing down.
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As President Trump has said many times, we rebuilt China over the past 25 years. No truer words were spoken, but those days are over.
The United States now recognizes China as a strategic and economic rival.
– Vice President Mike Pence during a speech last week at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The truth is that China is a strategic competitor at best that uses coercion and corruption as its tools of statecraft. (Applause.)
We’ve reconvened “the Quad” – the security talks between Japan, Australia, India and the Untied States that had been dormant for nine years. This will prove very important in the efforts ahead, ensuring that China retains only its proper place in the world.
– Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech last week to the Heritage Foundation
I don’t take the U.S.-China trade war seriously, because I don’t expect a transformative deal to come of it. Specifically, I see the current trade charade as little more than a warmup to a far more serious, unpredictable and dangerous conflict between the U.S. and China in the years ahead.
Last December, in a piece titled Is U.S. Geopolitical Strategy Experiencing a Monumental Shift?, I explained how the U.S. was repositioning its foreign policy to focus on China, and how this would set off a long-lasting and enormously consequential feud between the dominant empire and the emerging power. The post concluded with the following thought:
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The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
– Arundhati Roy
Last week, Hillary Clinton called Tulsi Gabbard (and Jill Stein) Russian agents on a podcast. More specifically:
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians,” said Clinton, apparently referring to Rep. Gabbard, who’s been accused of receiving support from Russian bots and the Russian news media. “They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.” She added: “That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset—I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate. So I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed.”
Tulsi subsequently responded to this slanderous accusation with a series of devastating blows.
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U.S. Attorney General William Barr, along with co-conspirators in the UK and Australia, recently wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting he not move forward with a plan to implement end-to-end encryption across Facebook’s messaging services. A draft of the letter was published earlier this month by Buzzfeed, and it’s worth examining in some detail.
What immediately strikes you is the letter’s emphasis on “protecting the children,” a talking point universally used by authoritarians throughout history to justify both a reduction of public liberty and a transfer of increased power to the state. Though this tactic is transparent and well understood by those paying attention, it’s nevertheless disturbing to observe Barr’s disingenuous and shameless use of it (the words ‘child’ and ‘children’ appear 17 times in the course of this brief letter).
Here’s just one example from the letter:
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When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
– Maya Angelou
If nothing else, one silver lining to Donald Trump’s election is the exposure of establishment types, whether Democratic or Republican, for what they really are. We now recognize that there’s very little daylight between a neocon and a neoliberal, and that the back and forth fighting over power between these two camps — which defined American politics for decades — was nothing more than a manipulative pro-wrestling circus.
Trump’s election has forced many establishment Democrats out of the closet as the intelligence agency, surveillance state, empire-worshipping, centralized power bootlickers they always were. Since neocons were historically more in your face shameless about their support for endless war, oligarch-coddling, and authoritarianism, establishment Democrats could pretend to represent an ethical opposition to such things. Alas, it was all an act and if the Obama administration didn’t already prove that to you, the embarrassingly clownish neoliberal “resistance” movement should.
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A second former Amazon employee would spark more controversy. Deap Ubhi, a former AWS employee who worked for Lynch, was tasked with gathering marketing information to make the case for a single cloud inside the DOD. Around the same time that he started working on JEDI, Ubhi began talking with AWS about rejoining the company. As his work on JEDI deepened, so did his job negotiations. Six days after he received a formal offer from Amazon, Ubhi recused himself from JEDI, fabricating a story that Amazon had expressed an interest in buying a startup company he owned. A contracting officer who investigated found enough evidence that Ubhi’s conduct violated conflict of interest rules to refer the matter to the inspector general, but concluded that his conduct did not corrupt the process. (Ubhi, who now works in AWS’ commercial division, declined comment through a company spokesperson.)
Ubhi worsened the impression by making ill-advised public statements while still employed by the DOD. In a tweet, he described himself as “once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian.”
– From the must read ProPublica expose: How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon
That U.S. tech giants are willing participants in facilitating mass government surveillance has been widely known for a while, particularly since whistleblower Edward Snowden risked his life and liberty to tell us about it six years ago. We also know what happens to executives who don’t play ball.
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All wars require casus belli, ostensible justifications. After all, despite humanity’s long history of vicious warfare, interstate combat often requires a government distant from its working class to motivate its people to kill and die for distant institutions and esoteric ideologies. That said, Washington doesn’t exactly have a strong track record of honesty regarding its rationales for war. Few Americans know or care much for their own history…
– Maj. Danny Sjursen, USA (ret.)
One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting…It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting.
– George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia
It’s fall 2019, and nearly twenty years into a series of disastrous and murderous forever wars sold to the public as a necessary response to 9/11, we’re being instructed to prepare for another one. Replace the Q with an N at the end of IRA and you know what I’m talking about. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise anyone considering much of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has been actively scheming for some invented justification to take out Iran (and many others) for decades.
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Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of—there’s no nice way to put it—psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy’s scale than the next two runners-up combined.
“I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does,” Murphy wrote in an email…
On a national level, it raises the troubling question as to what it means to live in a country whose institutions are set up to reward some very dubious human traits. Like it or not, we’re more likely than not to wind up with some alarming personalities in positions of power.
– From last year’s Politico article, Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America
One of the most frustrating aspects of modern American politics — and the culture in general — is our all encompassing fixation on the superficial. It’s also one of the main reasons I have very little interest in presidential politics, which basically consists of a bunch of billionaire friendly puppets auditioning to become the next public face of imperial oligarchy. Though I understand the desire for quick fixes, our focus on highlighting and mitigating only the symptoms of societal decay as opposed to the root causes, ensures we’ll never achieve the sort of positive paradigm-level shift necessary to bring humankind forward.
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Somewhere between the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein and his extremely suspicious death in a Department of Justice operated prison, the public learned that an FBI intelligence bulletin published by the bureau’s Phoenix field office mentioned for the first time that conspiracy theories pose a domestic terrorism threat. This was followed up last week by a Bloomberg article discussing a new project by the U.S. military (DARPA) to identify fake news and disinformation.
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