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The Age of Disintegration: Neoliberalism, Interventionism,the Resource Curse,and a Fragmenting World


An Endless Cycle of Indecisive Wars

Here’s an unavoidable fact: we are now in a Brexit world. We are seeing the first signs of a major fragmentation of this planet that, until recently, the cognoscenti were convinced was globalizing rapidly and headed for unifications of all sorts. If you want a single figure that catches the grim spirit of our moment, it’s 65 million. That’s the record-setting number of people that the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates were displaced in 2015 by “conflict and persecution,” one of every 113 inhabitants of the planet. That's more than were generated in the wake of World War II at a time when significant parts of the globe had been devastated. Of the 21 million refugees among them, 51% were children (often separated from their parents and lacking any access to education). Most of the displaced of 2015 were, in fact, internal refugees, still in their own often splintered states. Almost half of those who fled across borders have come from three countries: Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).

Despite the headlines about refugees heading for Europe -- approximately a million of them made it there last year (with more dying on the way) -- most of the uprooted who leave their homelands end up in poor or economically mid-level neighboring lands, with Turkey at 2.5 million refugees leading the way. In this fashion, the disruption of spreading conflicts and chaos, especially across the Greater Middle East and Africa, only brings more conflict and chaos with it wherever those refugees are forced to go.

And keep in mind that, as extreme as that 65 million figure may seem, it undoubtedly represents the beginning, not the end, of a process. For one thing, it doesn’t even include the estimated 19 million people displaced last year by extreme weather events and other natural disasters. Yet in coming decades, the heating of our planet, with attendant weather extremes (like the present heat wave in the American West) and rising sea levels, will undoubtedly produce its own waves of new refugees, only adding to both the conflicts and the fragmentation.

As Patrick Cockburn points out today, we have entered “an age of disintegration.” And he should know. There may be no Western reporter who has covered the grim dawn of that age in the Greater Middle East and North Africa -- from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria to Libya -- more fully or movingly than he has over this last decade and a half. His latest book, Chaos & Caliphate: Jihadis and the West in the Struggle for the Middle East, gives a vivid taste of his reporting and of a world that is at present cracking under the pressure of the conflicts he has witnessed. And imagine that so much of this began, at the bargain-basement cost of a mere $400,000 to $500,000, with 19 (mainly Saudi) fanatics, and a few hijacked airliners. Osama bin Laden must be smiling in his watery grave.

The Age of Disintegration
Neoliberalism, Interventionism, the Resource Curse, and a Fragmenting World

By Patrick Cockburn

We live in an age of disintegration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Across the vast swath of territory between Pakistan and Nigeria, there are at least seven ongoing wars -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and South Sudan. These conflicts are extraordinarily destructive. They are tearing apart the countries in which they are taking place in ways that make it doubtful they will ever recover. Cities like Aleppo in Syria, Ramadi in Iraq, Taiz in Yemen, and Benghazi in Libya have been partly or entirely reduced to ruins. There are also at least three other serious insurgencies: in southeast Turkey, where Kurdish guerrillas are fighting the Turkish army, in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where a little-reported but ferocious guerrilla conflict is underway, and in northeast Nigeria and neighboring countries where Boko Haram continues to launch murderous attacks.

All of these have a number of things in common: they are endless and seem never to produce definitive winners or losers. (Afghanistan has effectively been at war since 1979, Somalia since 1991.) They involve the destruction or dismemberment of unified nations, their de facto partition amid mass population movements and upheavals -- well publicized in the case of Syria and Iraq, less so in places like South Sudan where more than 2.4 million people have been displaced in recent years.

Add in one more similarity, no less crucial for being obvious: in most of these countries, where Islam is the dominant religion, extreme Salafi-Jihadi movements, including the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, and the Taliban are essentially the only available vehicles for protest and rebellion. By now, they have completely replaced the socialist and nationalist movements that predominated in the twentieth century; these years have, that is, seen a remarkable reversion to religious, ethnic, and tribal identity, to movements that seek to establish their own exclusive territory by the persecution and expulsion of minorities.

In the process and under the pressure of outside military intervention, a vast region of the planet seems to be cracking open. Yet there is very little understanding of these processes in Washington. This was recently well illustrated by the protest of 51 State Department diplomats against President Obama’s Syrian policy and their suggestion that air strikes be launched targeting Syrian regime forces in the belief that President Bashar al-Assad would then abide by a ceasefire. The diplomats’ approach remains typically simpleminded in this most complex of conflicts, assuming as it does that the Syrian government’s barrel-bombing of civilians and other grim acts are the “root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.”


U.N.’s Legal Expert Calls Proposed Trade Deals Illegal (TPP, TTIP, TISA, and CETA)


Alfred de Zayas, the U.N.’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, is assigned the task to apply the standards of international law to proposed treaties, to determine whether they’re in accord with international law. On Friday, June 24th, he issued his finding on three large proposed treaties regarding international trade among Atlantic countries: TTIP, TISA, and CETA. Earlier, on February 2nd, he had issued a similar finding on the proposed TPP treaty between Pacific countries, and his conclusion there was the same: that the proposed treaty violates international laws, and is inconsistent with democracy.

His finding regarding the proposed Atlantic treaties condemned them by saying: “Trade deals prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer associations, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliaments, have zero democratic legitimacy.” This describes all of U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed treaties on trade: TPP, TTIP, and TISA, and it also includes CETA, which is the proposed treaty between the EU and Canada.
He further damningly noted that, “Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to peoples’ voice.”

The U.N.’s press release, on June 24th, from its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), especially notes:
An earlier consultation conducted by the European Commission in 2014 resulted in 97% of respondents from across Europe expressing opposition to the inclusion of asymmetrical investment protection in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. “The same would apply to CETA, but no consultation was ever held,” he noted.

“Asymmetrical investment protection” refers to the power that these proposed treaties grant to international corporations to sue (for alleged loss of their profits) nations that increase regulations to protect the safety of the public from toxic products, and from environmental harms, and that protect workers’ rights and other human rights that can also, in some circumstances, reduce corporate profits. “Asymmetrical” refers to the absence in the proposed treaty of any symmetrical power granted to a government to sue an international corporation that violates its laws to protect the public. De Zayas goes further than merely charging that these treaties are “asymmetrical”: he adds that, “In case of conflict between trade agreements and human rights treaties, it is the latter that prevail. States must not enter into agreements that delay, circumvent, hinder or make impossible the fulfillment of human rights treaty obligations.”


The EU doesn't protect workers' rights - it has destroyed them

Freedom of movement is about bosses driving down wages, not holidays


A feeble and erroneous argument for supporting the EU – one which is repeatedly used by both government and opposition leaders – is that leaving the EU would damage employment in Britain. This is simply not true. A campaign by Britain in Europe entitled “Out of Europe, Out of Work” claimed that Britain would lose millions of jobs if it left the EU. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, however, described the campaign as absurd, finding that British withdrawal would have no long-term impact on employment. In the words of its Director, Dr Martin Weale, the campaign was “pure Goebbels” and “a wilful distortion of the facts”.

The European Union is about economics, neoliberal economics, monetarist market capitalism - economics that do not work. It is inherently deflationist. That is to say, it is built on constraining economic demand and driving up unemployment. It is an economics that has failed in the past, is failing again and which has rolled back the successful economic arrangements that worked so well, so brilliantly indeed, in the immediate post-war decades.

This same economics is being inflicted on Britain – cuts and austerity. Living standards have fallen, wages reduced as a proportion of total economic output (GDP) and in real terms, and inequality and poverty increasing. In the rest of the EU however, things are worse, especially in the eurozone.

The EU is not at its core about employment rights, nor even is it about human rights. The EU has accepted employment rights to give the illusion that it is on the side of workers and trade unions – at least slightly – and to try to keep trade unions passive. The millions of unemployed in Spain, Greece and increasingly elsewhere have seen no benefit from alleged worker and trade union rights. In the cases of the Viking Line and Laval, workers tried to contest their employers replacing them with lower-paid workers from another EU country. But the European Court of Justice found in favour of employers rather than workers.


The EU and other neoliberal nightmares

Workers across Europe are rallying against a union which has used its undemocratic structures to force neoliberalism on a continent.


Voting to leave the EU is a no-brainer for the Left. The European Union is remote, racist, imperialist, anti-worker and anti-democratic: It is run by, of, and for the super-rich and their corporations. A future outside austerity and other economic blunders rests on winning the struggle to exit the EU, removing us from its neoliberal politics and institutions. Corporate bureaucrats in Brussels working as agents of the big banks and transnationals’ now exert control over every aspect of our lives. Neoliberal policies and practices dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice and a compliant media legitimises the whole conquest. This has left the EU constitution as the only one in the world that enshrines neoliberal economics into its text. Therefore the EU is not – and never can be – either socialist or a democracy.

Against the left’s strategic case for exit is relentless blither and blather from the elitist liberal commentariat: the EU is a social-democratic haven that protects us from the nasty Tories is their litany and verse. This is an absurd fantasy: by design the EU is a corporatist, pro-capitalist establishment. Therefore, it strains credulity that the bulk of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a rump of the trade union movement believe in the myth of Social Europe. The late Bob Crow was bang on the money when he said: “social EU legislation, which supposedly leads to better working conditions, has not saved one job and is riddled with opt-outs for employers to largely ignore any perceived benefits they may bring to workers. But it is making zero-hour contracts and agency-working the norm while undermining collective bargaining and full-time, secure employment.

The only thing that should remain is the truth: a social Europe was never part of the European Union super-state project. How could it be? The EU has always travelled on the “free trade” train alongside “free” movement of capital, business-austerity, flexible labour markets, low pay, privatisation of public services and the eradication of welfare states. These were not just random policy proscriptions, but specifically designed by ‘free-market’ fanatics. It was the deepening and integration of the EU project that allowed unelected policy makers, driven by the powerful EU corporate lobby, to circumvent and eradicate the social rights that were won by workers in the aftermath of World-War-Two. Creating democratic deficits in all the EU institutions and policy-making by unaccountable technocrats enabled and accelerated this process of dismantling rights. This arrangement ensured the neoliberal Holy Trinity of public spending cuts, privatisation and the removal of trade union rights could be enforced with little contestation.

It’s worth noting the continuity of contempt by the European Union elites towards public opinion. Jean Monnet the founding father of the EU understood democracy was an obstacle to the elitist project and had to employ a degree of deception: "via money Europe could become political in five years" and "…the current communities should be completed by a Finance Common Market which would lead us to European economic unity. Only then would … the mutual commitments make it fairly easy to produce the political union which is the goal." Jean-Claude Juncker, today’s unelected EU chief makes clear that nothing much has changed, “when it becomes serious, you have to lie”. “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”


Apprentice Cameron Summons ‘Master of Lies’, Darth Juncker



Juncker was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Luxembourg as the result of a spy scandal, which involved illegal operations conducted by SERL, the country’s intelligence service. According to the former director of SERL, at one point the service had over 300,000 active files in a country with a population of 500,000. Luxembourg’s parliamentary investigation committee found that Juncker did not treat the intelligence service seriously enough, and most of the time did not even want to know what was going on.

Among other lurid allegations, German newspapers reported that when word reached Juncker that one of his senior civil servants could be involved in serious activities in the paedophile community, Juncker tried to turn the allegations into a “joke”, asking the man concerned whether he was aware that there was a “whorehouse” in his local city that could satisfy his urges instead.


Jean-Claude Juncker quotes:

On Sovereignty

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

On Openness

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious...I am for secret, dark debates”

On How The EU Really Works

“We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back”

On Lying

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie”

On Democracy

“There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties”'

The final remark explains why Mr Juncker is intervening in a British referendum: he has a fundamental problem with democracy. This is the man the Austrian newspaper, Der Standard once dubbed the ‘Master of Lies’. The man who presided over the explosion of Luxembourg’s use as a tax haven by multi-national corporations. The man David Cameron once tried to block because he is too much of an EU insider who instinctively resists reform. That the Prime Minister should call upon Mr Juncker tells us everything we need to know about his belief in the outcome of this referendum.

BBC forecast: UK votes to leave the EU

Source: BBC

Based on analysis of the remaining undeclared counts, the BBC forecasts that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/politics/eu_referendum/results

Great blow against neoliberalism and undemocratic corporate systemic control.

The left wing case for leaving the EU
Supporters of the EU sneer “Little Englander” at those with a different opinion, but most of the arguments against membership are left-leaning and liberal.


The Left Case for Brexit


The radical left case for leaving the EU




Labour MP Kate Hoey: Why leaving the EU is a left-wing move


Exit Left: the Socialist Case for Britain Leaving the EU


Trustees: Meager Hike In Social Security Benefits Next Year


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Millions of Social Security beneficiaries can expect only a meager increase in monthly payments next year, the trustees who oversee the massive retirement and disability program said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Medicare's finances have worsened since last year, according to the trustees' annual report.

The projected 0.2 percent increase in Social Security payments would come a year after beneficiaries received no increase. By law, increases are based on a government measure of inflation, which has been low.

More than 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and surviving children receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is about $1,232, so the average increase would be a little less than $2.50, enough to buy a gallon of gasoline in most U.S. markets.

Social Security's trust funds are projected to run dry in 2034, which is unchanged from a year ago. If that happens, Social Security would collect only enough in payroll taxes to pay 79 percent of benefits.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SOCIAL_SECURITY_MEDICARE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-06-22-11-25-24

White House Working With Congress on Language to Implement TPP, Froman Says


The Obama administration is working with members of Congress to craft the legislative language necessary to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership before both chambers of Congress for final approval, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Monday. Froman, who was the U.S.’ lead negotiator for the 12-nation TPP trade deal, said at a Council on Foreign Relations event Monday that the administration would like to see Congress approve the agreement “as quickly as possible.”

“And we’re working with congressional leaders and with the leaders of our committees … to chart that pathway forward — laying the groundwork, doing the preparatory work, drafting the bills, drafting the reports that need to get done,” Froman said.

As part of the TPP approval process, Congress must pass an “implementing bill” that’s subject to the fast-track, amendment-free procedures it authorized in summer 2015 when a trade promotion authority measure passed after overcoming a number of procedural hiccups. The ongoing work on the implementing bill will ensure that “when that window of opportunity opens, we’ll be ready to walk through it,” Froman added. “And that’s … what the work over the next few months is going to take.”

The TPP is still highly controversial with both parties in both chambers of Congress — a problem that’s become even more acute for TPP supporters now that both major party presidential nominees publicly oppose the deal. Froman, however, said he’s optimistic that “there’s a lot of desire to get it done.”


lame duck is where it will be attempted to be rammed through

Michael Caputo Out At Trump Campaign After Sending Mean Tweet About Lewandowski


A whole six hours ago, an adviser and head of the communications for Donald Trump’s caucus operations team named Michael Caputo responded to new of Corey Lewandowski‘s firing as campaign manager by tweeting, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” He capped it off with a shot of the iconic Wizard of Oz scene that shows the Wicked Witch’s feet peeking out from under a house. Classy!

Now, he’s gotten the boot from the campaign, too.

According to CNN, he wrote a letter to chairman Paul Manafort and right-hand-man Rick Gates that said this:

I regret sending out a tweet today alluding to the firing of Corey Lewandowski. In hindsight, that was too exuberant a reaction to this personnel move. I know this is a distraction from the kind of campaign you want to run, so I’m resigning my position as director of communications for caucus operations at the 2016 Republican Convention. Let’s make this immediate.

Seriously, what is going on at the Trump campaign? The New York Times Hints Trump May Be Too Broke to Campaign

Qatar convicts Dutch woman held 'after being raped'

A court in Qatar has convicted a Dutch woman of having sex outside marriage after she told police she was raped.


The 22-year-old was handed a suspended sentence and fined $824 (£580). She will also be deported.
Her lawyer said her drink had been spiked at a Doha hotel in March and she had woken up in a stranger's flat, where she realised she had been raped.
Her alleged attacker, who said the sex was consensual, was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside marriage.
He will be given a further 40 lashes for consuming alcohol.
The woman has been detained since making the allegation three months ago, but her case only came to light over the weekend when her family decided to go public.
The Dutch ambassador to Qatar, Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, said after Monday's court hearing that she expected the woman to leave Qatar within days.
"We will do everything to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she wants to go," she told AFP news agency.
Court officials said she would be deported once the fine was paid.
The woman was arrested by Qatari police immediately after reporting that she had been raped on the night of 15 March, as was the alleged assailant.


Orlando played host to Muslim speaker’s call for death to gays, just weeks ago

Source: Fusion (ABC/Univision)


This story has been updated with new interviews.

On March 29, 2016

Farrokh Sekaleshfar — a British-born medical doctor and Shi’a Muslim scholar — was invited to speak at the Husseini Islamic Center just outside Orlando, Florida.

During his sermon, “How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality,” at the Sanford-based center, the scholar and sheikh described in characteristically sotto voce what it meant to do the compassionate thing for gay people:

“Death is the sentence. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.” He continued: “We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”

Portions of that sermon were captured by local TV station WFTV in the video report shown above, uploaded to YouTube by the Islamophobic group “United West.” It represents one particularly harsh Islamic perspective on gays — one that’s not shared widely by Muslims, particularly in the United States.

Gays Must Die Says Speaker At Orlando Mosque - WFTV 9 Orlando Report



Read more: http://fusion.net/story/313063/orlando-terror-attack-muslim-lgbt/

Fusion is not a right wing site, its a joint venture between ABC and Univision


Our Mission
At FUSION, we champion a young, diverse, and inclusive America from the inside out. We approach news and entertainment through a lens that celebrates all voices in today’s world.
Our Audience
We speak to the diverse makers and open minds of today’s America who seek intelligent news and culture coverage for their generation.
Our Talent
With a staff that is 60% non-white, we don’t just talk about diversity – we embody it. With access to communities that others do not, we create honest conversations and represent the widest range of voices in today’s America.

ISIS Unveiled US "Kill List" Last Week, Including 600 Florida Residents


In the wake of the tragic event that took place at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning that left 50 dead and 53 wounded as of the time of this writing, it has been discovered that the shooter Omar Mateen was on a "watch list" over his association with "suspicious people."

What will likely attract attention, and potentially lead to inquiries into why nothing was done in response, is that only a few days ago a pro-ISIS group released a hit list with the names of more than 8,000 people on it, mostly Americans. One report said that more than 600 people from Florida were on the list, and many of those targeted live in Palm Beach County and on the Treasure Coast.

Former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan said at the time that the concern is that the list will inspire "lone wolf" style attacks, and predicted that the release of the list "is going to create some hysteria." It did not, instead it may have resulted in the worst mass shooting event in US history.




3 days ago:

ISIS 'kill list' targets Palm Beach, Treasure Coast residents: Ex-FBI agent



WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) — A pro-Isis group has released a hit list with the names of more than 8,000 peoplemostly Americans.

More than 600-people live in Florida, and one security expert believes that many of those targeted live in Palm Beach County and on the Treasure Coast.

The "United Cyber Caliphate" that hacked U.S. Central Command, 54,000 Twitter accounts and threatened President Barack Obama is the same pro-Isis group that's reportedly created a "kill list" with the names, addresses and emails of thousands of civilian Americans.

Reports of the list came to light online when Vocativ reported the list was shared via the encrypted app, Telegram, and called on supporters to kill.

Former FBI agent-turned lawyer Stuart Kaplan says the threat is especially alarming, because the people on this list are civilians who don't have the security necessary to protect themselves. "It's going to create some hysteria," he said.



ISIS orders American lone wolf jihadis to slaughter 8,000 citizens by releasing 'kill list' which includes the names of several Hollywood celebs

PUBLISHED: 07:52 GMT, 9 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:22 GMT, 9 June 2016


The ISIS-aligned United Cyber Caliphate has distributed a new 'kill list' which contains the names of 7,858 Americans.
The group, using the Russia-based app Telegram gave the names, addresses, and email addresses of 8,318 people in total, making it one of the longest kill lists ISIS have ever put out.
They urged their supporters to 'kill them strongly to take revenge for Muslims'.



Welcome to the bizarre and frightening world of Islamic State channels on Telegram


Like al-Qaeda before it, the Islamic State (Isis) has embraced technology to communicate, spread propaganda and target new recruits, but this new generation of digital jihadis has emerged in the era of free, easy-to-use and fully encrypted mobile messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp.

While efforts have been made to crack down on Daesh on Twitter and Facebook, governments and cyber-spooks are finding it increasingly difficult to track and monitor communications on Telegram, which is now IS's number one source for communications, and efforts to combat the spread of material online have largely failed.

Telegram enables people to have one-to-one and group conversations that are encrypted end-to-end. Over the last 12 months, Isis has taken full advantage of the platform's privacy benefits to establish a flourishing community of channels, bots and chatrooms.

In addition to publishing news and media of recent victories and, of course, propaganda of how life is in the Islamic State, there are more private channels where wannabe jihadis trade tactics, military documents, weapons instructions and plan hacking operations.



So-called Islamic State group (IS) has shifted its propaganda distribution to the secure mobile messaging app Telegram from Twitter, where its accounts have been repeatedly shut down over the past year.
IS and other jihadist groups appear to be exploiting new functionality introduced by the app last month, which allows users to broadcast their messages to an unlimited number of members via their own Telegram "channel".
On 26 September, just four days after Telegram trumpeted the launch of its new "Channels" tool, IS media operatives on Twitter started advertising the group's own channel dubbed Nashir, which translates as "Distributor" in English.
It has already amassed more than 4,500 subscribers.
Since then, IS propaganda has started appearing first via Telegram, often several minutes before being posted to Twitter.

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