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Obama Tries to Ram His TTIP Down Europeans’ Throats

In trade and economic as in political matters, Europe’s leaders do Washington’s bidding regardless of the interests or opinions of their people.

Eric Zuesse

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Like the foie gras producer ramming food down ducks’ throats in order to create diseased super-fatty livers that some humans find acceptable to eat, Barack Obama (via his friend and trade-negotiator Michael Froman) is trying to ram dictatorship down Europeans’ throats, for the benefit of billionaires. And, like the sweet words of the foie-grass lobbyists who say it’s all just the ‘free market’ at work, Obama’s commercial-treaties salesman is saying it’s all being done in order to support ‘free trade’.

Thus, on May 31st, a big promoter of ‘free trade’, Britain’s Economist, headlined “Europe and US in race to keep TTIP on track”, and ‘reported’ (i.e., stenographically transmitted) the U.S. President’s propaganda; they provided to Mr. Froman their (unjustifiably respected) platform, as an unpaid ad (‘news’ story) for the Obama Administration’s work-product, this treaty: “Speaking in Stockholm on a European tour to push TTIP, Michael Froman, US President Barack Obama’s trade tsar, warned that there was no ‘Plan B’ if talks were not concluded this year.

‘We either work together to help set the rules of the world or we leave that role to others.’” In other words: Obama, via Froman, via this freebie publicity provided by the Economist, is telling the Economist’s readers, that the way to advance free trade is by imposing the rules that govern it, so as to supply advantage to the people who impose the rules and sign Obama’s document, and so as thereby to disadvantage everybody else — all people who are outside the blessed self-selected closed circle of power-holders.

Naturally, being good propagandists, the Economist provides no real counter-argument to that (such as by pointing out that Obama is actually trying to replace “the rules of the world” that have already become established during decades by the far less partial World Trade Organization or WTO — replace those global rules by the discriminatory treaty-based trading-blocs rules that he wants in order for international corporations to be placed directly into the driver’s seat), but instead the Economist continues immediately with this caricature of such:

“TTIP’s supporters have also been blindsided by increasing opposition to trade deals in the US, where Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has built his campaign around an antitrade message and Democrat Hillary Clinton, facing a challenge from the left, has abandoned her support for a similar Pacific trade pact.”

In other words, according to the Economist: the domestic opposition to Obama’s trade-deals is comprised of two categories: of ‘antitrade’ populists, and of leftist yahoos who don’t know that Marxism is dead and ended ever since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 — both categories of yahoos are simply behind-the-times, according to the Economist. Pity those non-subscribers to mega-corporate propaganda such as this.

Then, this Economist ‘news’ ‘report’ (a.k.a.: propaganda) continues:

With the clock running out on Mr Obama’s presidency, officials on both sides now believe that the window is closing for a deal to be reached and approved in legislatures in Europe and the US before the end of the year. EU officials stress that they want to agree a working text by July.

A failure to complete the agreement before a change in US administration could condemn the pact to years of drift.
Get it done now, is the propaganda message. But, the intelligent reader will still be asking: should it be done at all? Viewed in narrowly economic terms alone, the three independently done (as opposed to mega-corporate funded) studies indicate that the major stockholders in international corporations (especially ones that are based in the U.S.) would benefit from these deals, at the expense of everyone else and especially at the expense of consumers, and of employees. However, that’s only the economics of it. More broadly, what Obama’s treaties will do if they become passed into law is to achieve internationally the dream of fascists ever since the time of Mussolini: to transfer sovereignty away from the public in a democracy, to, instead, as Mussolini himself sometimes called his fascist ideology, “corporationism,” which he defined as:

“The corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created.” 

Earlier, he had said (and even legislated), tellingly:

“Labor in all forms, intellectual, technical and manual, is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State. From the national point of view all production is a unit; its objects are unitary and can be defined as the wellbeing of the producers and the development of national strength.”

He didn’t mention there “the wellbeing of the workers,” nor “the wellbeing of consumers,” because his ideology wasn’t concerned about those matters. He even asserted that labor “is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State,” so that workers’ rights have no protection in fascism. Only workers’ duties do. “National strength” was his goal, just as it is Barack Obama’s, and they don’t believe that workers’ rights are part of this. That’s why it’s ignored in Obama’s proposed treaties.

“National strength” is, of course, largely a military phenomenon. Here is Obama speaking on 28 May 2014 to graduating cadets at America’s academy for its future military leaders, West Point:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago. It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. …
America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership.”

This was a statement that America’s economic competitors are to be addressed not only by economic means (such as his economic sanctions against Russia) but also by military means, and that these cadets are therefore to think of their nation’s economic competitors as additionally being also America’s enemies. He even said there that all nations except the U.S. are dispensable; and his precise words to assert this type of American exceptionalism were that “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” Consequently, for example, Russia and China (like any other enemy) are ‘dispensable’ (because only one is not: America).

Of course, some fascist leaders, such as Francisco Franco, haven’t similarly held their nation to be the only ‘indispensable’ nation. Not all fascist leaders do, but Adolf Hitler certainly did believe that his was, and he too was a fascist, though not a member of Mussolini’s party, the Fascist Party, because Hitler had his own fascist party, the Nazis. Obama is a member of the Democratic Party, which has existed ever since the beginning of the American republic. Fascism didn’t even exist back then. Furthermore, U.S. President FDR was passionately anti-fascist, and he led the Democratic Party during the time of Mussolini and Hitler, and went to war against them. However, there is evidence that Obama is a fascist in the sense that Mussolini initiated as not merely the Fascist Party, but more germane here, in the more basic sense, as the fascist ideology.

For example, Michael Froman has insisted that a country which systematically and regularly ignores whenever a labor union organizer gets murdered, isn’t therefore disqualified from being included in trade agreements such as the U.S. is now proposing. Obama, quite evidently (from his proposed trade treaties) feels that it’s quite okay for American workers to be competing against workers in foreign countries where labor union organizers are like free-fire-zone targets for corporations that want them to be (mysteriously) eliminated.

Of course, Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t say any such thing; he’s far more genteel than was Mussolini. But Obama’s actions, and the people whom he appoints to run the federal offices for him and who carry out his policies (such as Froman), show the real person, not merely the verbal front, and his agents make quite clear that, where the ideological rubber actually hits the policy highway, Barack Obama is, in fact, a classic fascist, in the sense that the first fascist leader, Mussolini, was. Obama’s concept of ‘free trade’ is the fascist version, not the democratic one.

previously noted that,

“Mussolini … had learned his fascism from the economist Vilfredo Pareto, whose teachings had inspired the young Mussolini
As Pareto himself said, 1 September 1897, in his essay “The New Theories of Economics”: “Were I of the opinion that a certain book would contribute more than any other to establish free trade in the world at large I would not hesitate an instant to give myself up heart and soul to the study of this particular work, putting aside for the time all study of pure science.” But what the international corporations call “free trade” isn’t quite the same thing that supporters of democracy would mean by that phrase.”

The same article also documented extensively that Pareto specifically condemned “the empty words of meaning of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man,” and that he rejected equality of rights. He set forth the ideology upon the basis of which (for example) Michael Froman might ‘justify’ American workers competing against ones in countries where labor union organizers can be murdered with impunity: only the corporation’s owners should have the right to collective bargaining (via their management, lobbyists, etc.). Pareto was very big on the rights of owners, but that’s all.

Barack Obama’s ‘free trade’ is entirely in keeping with fascism. It’s simply extending that, globally, and excluding from the mega-trading-blocs that he is creating, the BRICS nations (now just the RICS nations, because of the successful coup in Brazil). This is in accord with his having told West Point cadets that they might be called upon by their nation to treat those nations where “rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums,” as being America’s enemies, to be killed or captured — conquered. Perhaps this is to be the new gunboat diplomacy.

Irrespective of Obama’s rhetoric, which is often in accord with the tradition of America’s Founders, his proposed trade treaties are in blatant violation even of the U.S. Constitution itself, as well as of the very clearly expressed intentions of the chief individuals who drafted it and who led this nation during its earliest years.

All knowledgeable people are aware that Obama is pushing not only for a locked-in American domination of the world, but for U.S. corporate dictatorship. As I previously headlined, “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots’.” But, what the UN’s legal expert on these matters has to say about them, doesn’t receive nearly as much freebie promotion as is provided to even just one of the U.S. White House’s fascist puff-pieces; so, the UN’s expert gets drowned out by the fascist cacophony.

Consequently, though the publics both in the U.S. and EU are opposed to these ‘free trade’ treaties (notwithstanding all the PR for them), the governments can just go ahead and sign them. This is Western ‘democracy’. The publics are the ducks, and the people who control things need to fatten up our livers a bit more, regardless of what we think. Obama and his allies are preparing this meal, and the people who paid them to do it are hungry, and are demanding to be served this feast, ASAP. The ducks (despite all the pretty sounds about how nutritious this food will be) might squawk about it, but, after all, the ducks don’t own the farm, and the people who do are the actual decision-makers — in accord with what Mussolini and his teacher Pareto said should be the case.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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