Lebanon: Hundreds of Thousands Protested Against Corruption Leading to Government Reforms, as the Economy Is on Brink of Collapse
Lebanon has never recovered from its wars between 1975 to 1990, and it has the third highest debt ratio in the world. Protesters blamed the ruling elite for driving their children out of Lebanon because they failed to build a country that could provide jobs, as unemployment for under-35s is at 37%. A new reform package include a 50% cut in salaries of current and former presidents, ministers, government officials, and reductions in benefits for state institutions. It also includes the central bank and private banks contributing $3.3 billion to achieve a “near zero deficit” for the 2020 budget. The government also aims to privatize the telecommunications sector and overhaul the crumbling electricity sector.
President Michel Aoun headed a meeting of the Lebanese cabinet on Monday at the Baabda palace, his office said, as protests calling to oust the country’s ruling elite gripped the country.
The government is expected to approve reforms including halving ministers’ wages in a bid to ease the economic crisis and defuse the protests that brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets for five days.
On Sunday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri agreed on a package of reforms with his government partners to tackle the crisis.
The reform plan includes a 50% cut in salaries of current and former presidents, ministers, lawmakers, and reductions in benefits for state institutions and officials.
It also includes the central bank and private banks contributing $3.3 billion to achieve a “near zero deficit” for the 2020 budget.
The government also aims to privatise the telecommunications sector and overhaul the crumbling electricity sector.
Hariri accused his rivals of obstructing his reform measures that could unlock $11 billion in Western donor pledges and help avert economic collapse.
ABC Admits to Using Fake Footage of Kurdish ‘Slaughter’ by Turkey to Push the Pro-War Agenda of the Establishment
ABC News aired a video that they claimed was Turkish forces committing “slaughter in Syria” against the Kurds, who helped defeat ISIS, but the video footage was really from a machine gun and military weapon show that took place at a gun range in Kentucky in 2017. ABC News admitted the “error.” James Corbett explains that the pro-war media objected to President Trump removing 1,000 US troops from Syria, and has been caught lying again to the American public to keep the wars going. Corbett gives numerous examples of other times that the media has been caught using propaganda and lies to manipulate the public.
ABC Admits To Using Fake Footage Of Kurdish ‘Slaughter’
Update: ABC News has admitted to using the fake footage and has removed it. While not apologizing, they ‘regret the error.’
World News Tonight
CORRECTION: We’ve taken down video that aired on “World News Tonight” Sunday and “Good Morning America” this morning that appeared to be from the Syrian border immediately after questions were raised about its accuracy. ABC News regrets the error.
ABC News was just busted using two year old gun range footage while reporting on Turkey ‘slaughtering’ the kurds in the wake of a US withdrawal from the region.
This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town. The Kurds, who fought alongside the US against ISIS now horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies” -ABC News
Trump Hints at Mutual-Defense Pact with Israel Days Before Israeli Election, Apparently to Boost Netanyhu’s Popularity
Trump tweeted that he is considering a military mutual-defense pact with Israel that would obligate the US to militarily defend Israel if it came under attack. Israel would also be obliged to defend the US, but Israel has few military resources that are not produced or funded by the US. [A hidden danger of such a pact is the temptation for Israel to stage a false-flag attack against itself to look like an attack by Iran in order to force the US into military action against an Israeli enemy.] -GEG
President Trump is exploring an expanded military alliance with Israel — days ahead of a crucial re-election bid for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump announced the possible pact in a pair of tweets just three days before Israel’s national elections, set for Tuesday.
A mutual defense agreement “would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries,” Trump posted.
“I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!”
Under a mutual defense framework, allies agree to join each other’s military efforts when one side comes under attack. The U.S. maintains several such agreements — with the members of NATO and with Japan, for example — but has no such formal treaty with Israel.
US Blames Iran for Attacks on Two Oil Tankers, Says Iran Is “Trying to Interrupt the Flow of Oil”
Two oil tankers were reported to have suffered attacks by torpedoes or magnetic mines in the Persian Gulf on Thursday. The damaged tankers belong to Norway and Japan. Iran denied responsibility for the attack. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has noted that it is suspicious that a Japanese-owned vessel would be attacked while Iranian leaders were meeting with the Japanese prime minister in Tehran, and that Iran has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by provoking the Europeans and Japanese. South Korean and Iranian ships helped rescue all 44 sailors who were aboard the two ships.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier that the US was in possession of “intelligence” suggesting Iran is behind the attack, but he neglected to offer any proof. He claims the attack was part of a campaign to escalate tension in the region and disrupt the flow of the international oil trade. However, critics suspect this was a false flag attack that will lead to another US war in the Middle East and higher oil prices. Ron Paul says sanctions are acts of war and US sanctions against Iran have left the country crippled. Paul blamed neocons for provoking wars in the Middle East and stoking hatred.
Update 7: Ahead of comments to the UN Security Council (which will presumably block any action, with China and Russia backing Iran), unnamed officials are sharing with reporters some of what the US intends to say:
U.S. OFFICIALS ALLEGE IRANIAN ATTACK MEANT TO ESCALATE CONFLICT
OFFICIALS: ATTACK SHOWS IRAN UNINTERESTED IN DIALOGUE WITH U.S.
OFFICIALS: OPTIONS UNDER CONSIDERATION INCLUDE TANKER ESCORTS
Earlier, the Saudis presented a letter to the council claiming
that the Iran-backed Houthis had obtained special weapons training and
were responsible for Wednesday’s attack on Abha airport.
Pompeo said earlier that the US was in possession of “intelligence”
suggesting Iran is behind the attack…but he neglected to offer any
* * *
Update 6: And there it is…
The Trump Administration has officially concluded that Iran is
responsible for Thursday’s attacks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said
Thursday during a press briefing.
The secretary of state and longtime Iran hawk said Iran’s
“unprovoked” attacks are part of a campaign to escalate tension in the
region and disrupt the flow of the international oil trade (if we can’t
sell our oil, nobody can, would appear to be the logic). He also said
that Tehran rejected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s outreach for diplomacy.
Here’s an abridged version of Pompeo’s statement, courtesy of CNN:
“It is the assessment by the United States government that the
Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in
the Gulf of Oman today,” Pompeo told reporters at the US State
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used,
the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar
Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating
in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high
degree of sophistication.”
The US is planning to raise concerns about Iran at the UN Security
Council, Pompeo said, which is planning to meet to discuss the attacks
at 4 pm ET. The US has already presented evidence to the security
council that Iran was behind the last round of tanker attacks. The UN
has been somewhat more measured in its approach to the attacks. UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Thursday’s incidents at a
Security Council meeting, saying: “I strongly condemn any attack against civilian incidents,” before adding that “facts must be established and responsibilities clarified.”
He warned that the world can’t afford “a major confrontation” in the Gulf, Al Jazeera.
Syria: Leaked Chemical Weapons Watchdog Report Suggests Assad Not Responsible for 2018 Gas Attack
Tucker Carlson reported that an internal document was leaked from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that contained information from an investigator who argued that the gas attack in Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018 was not an aerial attack, but the chemical weapons were manually placed on the ground, suggesting that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was not responsible for the attack. The OPCW omitted the engineer’s portion of the report proposing the bombs were manually placed at the scene, indicating a cover-up. The attack, which may have been based on fraudulent information, led the US to the brink of war.
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun responding to
queries by the press about a leaked document that contradicts official
OPCW findings on an alleged chemical weapons attack last year in Douma,
Syria. The prepared statement they’ve been using in response to these
queries confirms the authenticity of the document.
To recap, a few days ago the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a document signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. It’s unknown who leaked the document and what other media organizations may have received it.
The report picks apart the extremely shaky physics and narratives of the official OPCW analysis on
the gas cylinders allegedly dropped from Syrian government aircraft in
the Douma attack, and concludes that “The dimensions, characteristics
and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the
incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the
case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft,” saying
instead that manual placement of the cylinders in the locations
investigators found them in is “the only plausible explanation for
observations at the scene.”
Cylinders Did Not Arrive by Air
be clear, this means that according to the assessment signed by an
OPCW-trained expert, the cylinders alleged to have dispensed poison gas
which killed dozens of people in Douma did not arrive in the locations
that they were alleged to have arrived at via aircraft dropped by the
Syrian government, but via manual placement by people on the ground,
where photographs were then taken and circulated around the world as
evidence against the Syrian government which was used to justify air strikes by the U.S., U.K. and France.
There were swift military consequences meted out on what appears now to
be a lie. At the time, the people on the ground were the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh
Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain
by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO
powers to function as their air force, since they’d already effectively
lost the battle against the Syrian government.
We now have confirmation that, for whatever the reason may be, this assessment was hidden from the public by the OPCW.
British journalists Peter Hitchens and Brian Whitaker have
both published matching statements from the OPCW on this report.
Hitchens has been an outspoken critic of the establishment Syria
narrative; Whittaker has been a virulent promulgator of it. The
statement begins as a very mundane and obvious assertion that it takes
information from numerous sources and then publishes its conclusions,
but concludes with an admission that it is “conducting an internal
investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in
question.” This constitutes an admission that the document is authentic.
Text of Statement
Here is the text of the statement in full; the portion I’m drawing attention to is in the second-to-last paragraph:
OPCW establishes facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic
chemicals for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic through the
Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which was set up in 2014.
OPCW Technical Secretariat reaffirms that the FFM complies with
established methodologies and practices to ensure the integrity of its
findings. The FFM takes into account all available, relevant, and
reliable information and analysis within the scope of its mandate to
determine its findings.
standard practice, the FFM draws expertise from different divisions
across the Technical Secretariat as needed. All information was taken
into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report
regarding the incident in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018.
On 1 March 2019, the OPCW issued its final report on this incident,
signed by the Director-General.
OPCW rules and regulations, and in order to ensure the privacy, safety,
and security of personnel, the OPCW does not provide information about
individual staff members of the Technical Secretariat
to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical
Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the
unauthorised release of the document in question.
this time, there is no further public information on this matter and
the OPCW is unable to accommodate requests for interviews.
Should Be Major Global News
should be a major news headline all around the world, but of course it
is not. As of this writing the mass media have remained deadly silent
about the document despite its enormous relevance to an international
headline story last year which occupied many days of air time. It not
only debunks a major news story that had military consequences, it casts
doubt on a most esteemed international independent investigative body
and undermines the fundamental assumptions behind many years of Western
reporting in the area. People get lazy about letting the media tell them
what’s important and they assume if it’s not in the news, it’s not a
big deal. This is a big deal, this is a major story and it is going
unreported, which makes the media’s silence a part of the story as well.
Also conspicuously absent from discussion has been the war propaganda firm Bellingcat,
which is usually the first to put the most establishment-friendly spin
possible on any development in this area. If Eliot Higgins can’t even
work out how to polish this turd, you know it’s a steamer.
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard Says She Is Running for President in Order to Serve the American People
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who served two tours in the US Army in the Middle East and supports ending needless war, told Youtube personality, Joe Rogan, that when she was elected to Congress six years ago, the new candidates were separated between the two parties and she was told to vote only for bills that strengthen the Democrat party and reject all bills proposed by Republicans. She said the interest of the party is superior to the people (the Republicans do the same thing). She says establishment Democrats and Republicans are terrified of candidates who are publicly funded because they are not beholden or owned. [It all sounds pretty good, but let us not forget tat the candidates usually DO sound good. She is against needless and ongoing wars? Of course she is. Clinton was, too – and so was Trump. So what? The wars continue anyway. Has anyone actually examined her voting record? As she has been in the past, so shall she be in the future.] GEG
Media Hit-Job Continues as Stephen Colbert Ambushes Democrat Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat running in the 2020 presidential race, has a progressive leftist domestic policy, but she is the only candidate calling for an end to US foreign wars. “Comedian” Stephen Colbert, and other talks show hosts, have ambushed her in order to smear her call for peace. Gabbard challenges the US foreign policy of military violence, the glue that holds the empire together, and she especially condemns regime change war, which has resulted in disaster in Iraq, Libya and Syria. During the interview, she called out the CIA for arming terrorists in Syria, leading Colbert to reveal himself as a tool for the military industrial complex as he tried to shut her down.
Hawaii Congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where instead of the light, jokey banter about politics and who she is as a person that Democratic presidential candidates normally encounter on late night comedy programs, the show’s host solemnly ran down a list of textbook beltway smears against Gabbard and made her defend them in front of his audience.
Normally when a Democratic Party-aligned politician appears on such a show, you can expect jokes about how stupid Trump is and how badly they’re going to beat the Republicans, how they’re going to help ordinary Americans, and maybe some friendly back-and-forth about where they grew up or something. Colbert had no time to waste on such things, however, because this was not an interview with a normal Democratic Party-aligned politician: this was a politician who has been loudly and consistently criticizing US foreign policy.
After briefly asking his guest who she is and why she’s running for president, Colbert jumped right into it by immediately bringing up Syria and Assad, the primary line of attack employed against Gabbard by establishment propagandists in American mainstream media.
Colbert: Do you think the Iraq war was worth it?
Colbert: Do you think that our involvement in Syria has been worth it?
Colbert: Do you think that ISIS could have been defeated without
our involvement and without our support of the local troops there?
Gabbard: There are two things we need to address in Syria. One is
a regime change war that was first launched by the United States in
2011, covertly, led by the CIA. That is a regime change war that has
continued over the years, that has increased the suffering of the Syrian
people, and strengthened groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, because the CIA
was using American taxpayer dollars to provide arms and training and
equipment to these terrorist groups to get them to overthrow the
government. So that is a regime change war that we should not have been
Colbert: So, but if it is someone like Bashar al-Assad, who
gasses his own people, or who engages in war crimes against his own
people, should the United States not be involved?
Gabbard: The United States should not be intervening to overthrow
these dictators and these regimes that we don’t like, like Assad, like
Saddam Hussein, like Gaddafi, and like Kim Jong Un. There are bad people
in the world, but history has shown us that every time the United
States goes in and topples these dictators we don’t like, trying to end
up like the world’s police, we end up increasing the suffering of the
people in these countries. We end up increasing the loss of life, but
American lives and the lives of people in these countries. We end up
undermining our own security, what to speak of the trillions of dollars
of taxpayer money that’s spent on these wars that we need to be using
right here at home.
Like I said, this is not a normal presidential candidate. How
often do you see a guest appear on a network late night talk show and
talk about the CIA arming terrorists in Syria and the fact that US
military interventionism is completely disastrous? It just doesn’t happen. You can understand, then, why empire propagandist Stephen Colbert spent the rest of the interview informing his TV audience that Tulsi Gabbard is dangerous and poisonous.
Jake Morphonios reported India and Pakistan, two enemies that are equipped with nuclear weapons, are deploying troops, tanks and military aircraft to the border region between the two countries in preparation for war. According to scientists, if India or Pakistan were to strike each other with nuclear missiles, within two weeks, the smoke from those bombs will have spread around the entire Earth, blanketing the sky and blocking out sunlight for years.
The conflict began when a Muslim terror organization group launched a bomb attack on Kashmir, killing 40 Indian paramilitary police, provoking retaliation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On February 26th, India sent fighter jets across the Kashmir ‘Line of Control’, to carry out attacks against a Muslim training camp about 40 miles inside of Pakistani territory. Pakistan reported the bombs were detonated in a rural area and did not kill anyone, but claims that Indian forces on the Line of Control killed four civilians. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan responded by shooting down two of India’s fighter jets. Khan has now called for negotiation instead of retaliation, yet both countries are preparing for full-scale war.
If the Venezuelan Crisis Expands into War, 8 Million Refugees Could Flood US Border
The US imposed more sanctions on Venezuela, which will create more hardship on people who are already starving. If the US becomes further entangled in overthrowing the government, eight million war refugees could seek refuge in the US. Two Florida congressmen from Florida, Darren Soto and Mario Diaz-Balart, have recklessly proposed giving Venezuelans protected status in the US that carries on indefinitely. If the US sends troops to Venezuela, they will be stationed there forever.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio sent a threatening tweet to Venezuelan President Maduro featuring two photos of former Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi, one where he is smiling, and the other where he is covered in blood and dirt just before he was sodomized and murdered. Chaos following US intervention can be worse than a dictator, as witnessed in Libya, which has become a war-torn hellhole where slavery thrives. US foreign policy is a disaster because it enforces permanent obligations on Amercans to solve temporary problems.
Trump Regime Launches Coup in Venezuela. Deep State Smiles as Globalism Grows.
This video commentary by James Corbett and Daniel McAdams is an excellent analysis of current US support of a coup in Venezuela. The insight that makes it valuable is that, although we may oppose socialism or any other variety of collectivism, and although we may desire to help the suffering people in Venezuela escape socialism, poverty, and corruption, we do not serve those objectives by interfering in the internal affairs of other governments, assassinating opposition leaders, organizing riots and revolutions, and installing puppet leaders whose only goal is power and wealth. I highly recommend this short video. -GEG
The plan will likely require military force and is supported by both the Democrats and Republicans. The US choice for a puppet leader, Juan Guaidó, is not very popular. A recent poll of Venezuelans shows that more than 80% of the people are against sanctions and other international interventions to remove President Maduro. Coup plotters have rejected talks with Maduro and his team.
Rand Paul Slams the Senate for Uniting to Defend Forever Wars in Syria and Afghanistan
Last week, US Senator Rand Paul slammed his colleagues in the Senate for supporting endless US wars in Syria and Afghanistan when they voted 68-to-23 to rebuke President Trump for saying he wanted to bring our troops home from Syria and pull out half of US forces from Afghanistan. A critic noted that the Republican-dominant Senate has a history of disappointing its base by not repealing Obamacare, not defunding Planned Parenthood, but they “fight like lions for the right to kill your son in Afghanistan.” -GEG
Rand Paul slammed his colleagues in the Senate on Thursday for refusing
to help the American people but rallying together to defend our endless
wars in Syria and Afghanistan.
Jesse Kelly responded to the news on Twitter writing: “This senate that
can’t repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, or pass a budget. But
God help you if you want to bring our boys home. They’ll lock shields
and fight like lions for the right to kill your son in Afghanistan.”
Bunch of fat, pasty, over-educated millionaires eating lobbyist-funded steak dinners as they send our best and brightest to get blown up for nothing. Makes me sick.
Democratic Elites Reunite with Neocons, and Liberals Are Becoming Far More Pro-War than Republicans
A poll shows that 49% of Americans supported President Trump’s Syria withdrawal, while 33% opposed it in favor of ongoing war. The poll showed that the vast majority, 76%, of Republican and Independent voters want to end the wars while 14% of Republicans and Independents want to remain. In stark contrast, only 26% of Democrats supported peace by removing US troops, yet an overwhelming 59% of Democrats favored continuing the wars in the Middle East! In the past, Democratic voters have wildly shifted their “beliefs” based on the party affiliation of the president: during the Bush-Cheney years, liberals denounced war-on-terror tactics, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantanamo torture as moral atrocities. When Obama was elected, however, they completely changed their position – [proving once again that political rhetoric (in both parties) is primarily a tool to win votes and has little to do with morality or patriotism or upholding the Constitution. Too bad voters keep falling for the same tactics election after election.] -GEG
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of bothparties, but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington’s reflexively pro-war establishment.
Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country’s most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump’s decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.
But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.
That’s not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that “the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way” far more than they agree with the pro-war view that “the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region.”
But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.
A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.