Bombs Dropped, Sun Rises – A Push for War – Part II

Good morning…..

I went to sleep last night very early, around 9. I woke up two hours later for some reason, and found myself up until 3am watching the United States drop missiles on Damascus. Fortunately for everyone, the strike was minimal. No Syrian military or government buildings were hit, nothing Iranian or Russian. So I closed my eyes for a few, and decided at 7:15 this morning to get my thoughts down on tape.

This episode is a short twenty minute reaction to Trump’s strikes, and what the small scale of his “response” to the “chemical attack” means from all sides. There are positive and negatives here, we just need to see what side wins out this time.

Content

The episode can be found here. All episodes are on Podomatic and on ITunes.

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Another Push for War

I recorded this episode this past Sunday, after spending a weekend “off the grind” so to speak. I was not aware of the most recent chemical attack in Douma, Syria. The spin was out on Sunday, and I recorded by thoughts that night.

It is a two part episode. I discuss the real reason behind the US/Russia conflict in Syria, its background, and how the invasion of Iraq in 2003 got us here. I touch on John Bolton and the others pushing us to war (again). And I plead with the American people not to buy this one.

I’ll have another episode coming at the end of the week. I want to let this situation play out a bit, but it does seem like we are headed for a real conflict in Syria.

Dangerous times.

Content

Episode link

The full episode list can be found on Podomatic and ITunes.

Sources

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: The Lost Tapes Vol. 1

It’s been awhile since I have posted an episode of the podcast, and this “episode” isn’t anything I normally release. The recording is part of a conversation between my cousin and myself. We were just hanging out in the park, eating Italian subs and talking shit. The recording was surprisingly good so I thought I would share it.

The whole recording is about 20 minutes long. We cover our love for no-bullshit approach of Michael Scheuer (and even share his appearance on Bill Maher), Seth Rich, the surprising story about the FBI-Informant fatherof the Orlando Night Club shooter, Americans grasp on politics in general, the Netflix show “Mechanism“, and other “deep thoughts” about the political scene in my country. I hope you get some entertainment out of it.

P.S. Alex Jones is on in the background throughout most of 20 minutes :/

The episode can be found here and the full archive can be found on Podomatic and ITunes.

Show Notes:

The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Vietnamese Takeout & Political Musings

I haven’t recorded in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention. I couldn’t wait any longer without the topics turning from news to history, so this recording takes place while I drive to pick up dinner.

In this episode, I hit on the following topics in no particular order.

  • Gun Control
  • Trump’s week
  • Hysteria of domestic politics
  • The breaking up of Syria
  • Israeli House of Cards

Content

Episode can be found here, with the full archive on Podomatic and ITunes.

What I’m Reading Today

Honduras

A country that is never in the new here in the United States, but one that is a perfect example of United States soft-imperialism, and another place in the world that Hillary Clinton has left her mark on.

For no real reason that I can understand, the United States in 2009 (with Mrs. Clinton in the State Department) decided it needed to perform a good old 1980s style Central American coup. The dual elected president Manuel Zelaya was replaced by Juan Orlando Hernandez. Since the coup, Hernandez has been reelected in elections marked with fraud.

From the article I’m referencing, it makes it clear that American involvement in Honduras never really went away. Washington has had an “alliance” with the land-owning oligarchies in the country, coming to their aid when asked, in exchange for US corporate access to the country’s natural resources. US ambassadors work was “shadow presidents” of Honduras, helping to secure military aid to the Hernandez regime. The military is used strictly on the people of Honduras, as there is no external threat to the small nation. The country receives more direct military funding than any other nation in the Americas at this time, thanks Secretary Clinton!

The article sourced here is actually an interview with journalist Jesse Freeston. Freeston has been working in Honduras since the coup, and has produced a documentary in that time, “Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley”.

Source

The Fight Over Yemen & The War Powers Act

It doesn’t seem to go away. What Rand Paul began over a year ago has since spread to the House and now back to the Senate.

new bill is making it’s way through the Senate demanding a vote on US involvement in the Saudi slaughter in Yemen. This time, Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, Chris Murphy and Rand Paul have put up a bill to have the Senate vote on the use of the War Powers Act as an excuse for US support for this war.

Source

Upcoming Podcast

Hopefully, tomorrow I will have this cough kicked and I can record a podcast. I have been reading non-stop for weeks, to the point where I haven’t taken notes and just need to get some of my feelings out. So this week’s podcast will be off the cuff, with me hitting the following points of interest:

  • Israel’s House of Card/ The Israel Lobby & American Policy Conference
  • Gun Control
  • Syria
  • Alex Jones and Free Speech
  • Trump’s Aluminum Problem

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Syria: Turks Invade, US Occupy

While the American media is busy with #Memogate, the already complex situation in Syria has become even more confusing. It seems like everyday a “US-backed”, “Pro-Syrian” or Russian force is attackedbombed or almost killed by some faction within Syria, almost setting off an international incident.

I thought it would be important to follow the ever-changing situation there, because one day it will be front page news on CNN, and when that day comes they won’t tell you the whole story.

Places like Steemit are filled with worthy content on the subject, from @saltycat@lordoftruth@haseeb96, to @clarityofsignal and many others, this quick write-up will be more of a resource center than a long-winded piece on the recent events. There is also this amazing real-time map of the conflict I’ve been used to follow the war day by day, along with Southfrontover on Youtube, which @clarityofsignal was a part of previously.

The latest stage in the conflict is the invasion of Turkish troops of Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria. Specifically, the region of Afrin.

President Erdogan of Turkey has declared (past and present) that the Kurds will never control territory west of the Euphrates River. Erdogan has always had issues with the Kurdish population within Turkey, and that doesn’t change when we move south. Erdogan sees the Kurdish YPG in Syria as an extension of his long-time enemy the PKK in Iraq.

Erdogan’s issues with the Kurds may stem from his belief in “Pan-Turkic”, or the idea that all people from Turkish decent should live under a single banner. The man wants Turkey to extend all the way to China, and be a Muslim state.

Since the attempted coup in his country, crackdowns on the disloyal haven’t really stopped. The recent invasion of Syria (fittingly named Operation “Olive Branch”) has only grown those numbers. Critics and protesters of the invasion have been arrested and jailed. The violence has even reached Europe, with a rather intense fight breaking out between Kurds and Turks in a German airport terminal:

Afrin

Operation “Olive Branch” began with the invasion of the northwestern “canton” of Afrin. The Kurdish held region is isolated from the other canton’s under YPG and SDF (Syrian Defense Force) control by a 60 mile area under the control of the FSA (Free Syrian Army) backed by Turkey. Afrin contents no US special forces, and is home to the city of Aleppo. This should be name familiar to everyone not named Gary Johnson.

The Turkish invasion force includes a mix of Turkish army regulars, air power and rebel “shock troops”, some reportedly former ISIS members, evident by the inhumane treatment of civilians and the mutilation of Kurdish female fighters.

The Russians have given the Turks the green light for air strikes over the region, something not unheard of in this conflict: a foreign power having decision making power in a sovereign nation. The weird mix of relationships in Syria makes for an even more complicated situation.

For example, the Russians are allied with Assad, while the US is allied with the Kurds and their own rebels. Separately, the Turks and the Russians are becoming fast friends over oil and arms deals, but the rebels the Turks are backing see the regime in Damascus as their enemy. Still following?

Manbij & US Policy

Here is where the United States comes in. Manbij is the canton directly east of the 60 mile FSA/Turk controlled region separating Afrin from the rest of YPG territory. Manbij is the home of actual US troops, with the number of US troops rising the more east towards the Iraqi border you go.

Erdogan has warned the United States to leave Manbij immediately, stating that once he is done with Afrin it’s on to Manbij. In the same week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the United States has no plans to leave Syria, citing multiple reasons for the illegal occupation of the eastern part of the country.

The US presence in Syria is completely illegal under international law. The Trump administration has used the AUMF from 9/11 as its excuse for staying in Syria. Opposition to the US staying in Syria has raised the theory that the United States has plans to create an area in Northeastern Syria outside of the control of Assad, using the Kurds and a 30K strong border force manned by the SDF to do so. Much like in Iraq previously, the Kurds are used as simple pawns by the United States (and Israel) to advance its policy. The idea of splintering Syria apart is nothing new, cited in “A Clean Break” and laid out in the Wikileaks documents from the mid-2000s.

Tillerson lists the following reasons for the decision to stay in Syria:

  • Keeping a defeated ISIS from growing again
  • Holding Iranian power in the region in check
  • Eventually overthrow of Assad

The third reason is really a geopolitical move directed at Russia. In simple terms, and this is important:
the United States government has illegally invaded another country to destabilize and overthrow the regime in charge. This is nothing new, but all Americans need to focus and understand that this is out in the open this time around. No discussion in Congress, no UN vote, nothing. While you and I were busy deciding if we trust Devon Nunes, our government just doubled-down in Syria.

The Validation of the Sarin Gas Scandal

Maybe more shocking than the lack of media coverage of the US occupation, is the admission by General Mattis that the United States has NO EVIDENCE that Assad used sarin gas on his own people. Fittingly, this story broke in the Washington Post, the same rag that pushed the sarin narrative dating back to 2013.

This admission should end all support for the US presence in Syria, but the American people are completely distracted at the moment.

What it does do is validate the great reporting work of the late-great Robert ParrySeymour HershPhil GiraldiAntiwar.com, and tons of other true journalists who’s credibility was questioned by the complicit mainstream media.

What this all means for the future of the geopolitical chessmatch in Syria is yet to be seen, but in this week’s episode I give my thoughts.

Content

This episode can be found on here, with the full archive on Podomatic and ITunes.

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Discussion: Would “Russiagate” Liberals Balk at a Trump/Putin Peace Deal?

I was listening to Scott Horton on the way to my 9-5 this morning and he laid out a policy move for Trump that I believe most rational people would applaud. Then I realized rationality has been thrown out the door since Trump became president.

Scott Horton.jpg

Everyone is a “Russian agent” nowadays. As the New York Times reporter Michelle Goldberg wrote in her recent “investigative” article (one that she has since admitted was bullshit), not only is anyone that points out the huge holes in the Russia story are agents of Putin, but also any historically conservative organizations that supported Trump: like the NRA.

With this in mind, back to Horton’s proposal. Scott suggests the following:

Donald Trump invites Putin to D.C., he tells Billy Kristol and the Democrats to go fly a kite and signs a peace deal over Syria AND sign a nuclear agreement deescalating the build up of nuclear weapons.

Now, I’m not saying that this is possible in the current climate or with the American Empire as it is. That is not the point of this exercise.

The question I am proposing for discussion is: What do you believe the establishment reaction to Trump doing this would be? What would Rachel Maddow, Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s reaction be? Are they so hysterical that they would look at it as “treason” or some other disloyal move by Trump? Or would they snap out of whatever cognitive dissidence allows them to hold the moral high ground and support the Deep State at the same time?

Looking to see what you guys think!

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Remembering Robert Parry

I became aware of Robert Parry’s work through listening to Scott Horton. Since that first interview I have been a continuous reader of his. The work he did at Consortium News from 1995 on was my introduction to his work. I’m still getting through his old stuff, finding articles written by him on old news topics I didn’t even know he wrote about. He really was a true journalist. As Seymour Hersh is quoted saying about Parry:

“He was widely seen over the next years as a critic of the mainstream media in America. That was not so. He was a critic of lousy reporting, be it in Pravda or The New York Times. He wanted every journalist, everywhere, to do the research and the interviewing that it takes to get beyond the accepted headline.”

If you’re not familiar with Robert Parry, he was one of the first to break the Iran-Contra scandal, battling the same forces as Gary Webb. He helped expose the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare manual given by the CIA to the Contras in Nicaragua. His work breaking down the link between the cocaine trade and the CIA helped earn him the George Polk Award among others.

I personally think of Robert Parry for his refusal to let political views get in his way of the truth. Facts were all that mattered with him. Much like Glenn Greenwald, Parry saw no difference between a corrupt Republican or Democrat. If you are knee-deep in fighting the “Russiagate” bullshit, dive into Robert Parry’s archive work at Consortium News. He really was a beast.

I just wanted to say a word on his passing. His work has given me many enjoyable sleepless nights.

Below I have included some write-ups from others who have kind words for Mr. Parry:

His son also provides an amazing article on his father and the future on Consortium News.

EDIT: I’ve added a link over to Muckrock.com which has provided the CIA’s collection of Robert Parry’s work.

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: #ReleaseTheMemo

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I was going to put out an episode on the Turks invading Kurdish-Syria, but it was requested that I read the super secret FISA memo all the Trump people are going crazy about. So I went over the guy with the all the documents, Alex Jones, and grabbed the full 99 page report for which the Nunes’ memo was based on.

I took the report in blocks of 10 pages. You have to understand that the report is written by the FISA Court. A kangaroo court used to justify terrible violations of the Constitution. And this report is no exception.

The report lays out the systematic way the agencies such as the FBI, CIA and the NCTC uses data collected by the NSA under Section 702 of the Patriot Act. The review explains the past procedures in “targeting” and “minimization” for each of the above agencies, and amendments to these procedures which in most cases allows more loopholes and justification for violations of the 4th Amendment. Included throughout the document is the FISA Court stating that these procedures (even when they do not stop illegal activities by all agencies) are in line with the 4th Amendment.

The review takes place in late October of 2016. The government has been stalling the FISA court for months, requesting extension after extension which the Court approves. It is laid out that because of compliance issues at some of the agencies (FBI for example) and the government wanted to get it’s ducks in a row before going in front of FISA. Which to me is weird to read, since there is a very small chance of the FISA Court really condemning anything the intelligence community does. It was created to justify crimes carried out by the CIA and other agencies. Staying within the context of the document was a challenge.

The web of data collection goes like this. The NSA creates “targeting” procedures for its analysts. They must follow rules like not using a US Citizen as the target of a search. Or after a phone number is discovered to be that of an American, that number can not be used as a target.

From there each agency has it’s own “minimization” procedures. Which from the best I can understand is how they sort, classify and disseminate the information. The NSA does minimization prior to making the info available to other law information agencies. The report outlines how FISA agrees to more and more agencies having access to more “raw” data.

Terms like “upstream” collection are used to explain how the NSA tracks targets’ electronic communication has it happens. The texts and emails are pulled by the NSA as they are sent out. In real time. This type of collection is not provided directly to agencies like the FBI, CIA or the NCTC.

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is not a law enforcement agency. However, this report shows the FISA court opening up the regulations on what the NCTC can review from the NSA collection database. The NCTC can now look through FBI collections of “evidence of a crime” material even though it is not doing law enforcement. The language used included saying the NCTC “may retain and disseminate” for it’s “crime reporting obligations”. This data contains material on US citizens and this is the part Rand Paul is so upset about.

This report contains the discussion about using information collected on US Persons without a warrant through the NSA as a legal way to build a domestic crime case. They use the example of emails containing discussed child abuse being forwarded on to a local domestic violence agency to rationalize this violation.

The breadcrumbs are there to be followed. The loopholes were in place and evidence is there that targeting of US persons like Trump & Flynn was common practice during the Obama administration. Included in the new procedures for all agencies, is the ability for “litigation hold”. This is the smoking gun for the Trump people. The ability for the NCTC, FBI or CIA to hold material it should have otherwise destructed for a longer length of time for present and future “litigation purposes”. Information collected on US citizens without a warrant, held for future prosecution. I think that’s blackmail and a violation of the 4th.

It is a dense read, and I go into more detail on the recording, but the Trump crowd playing this up is really not too smart. The report continues through early 2017, indicating the same procedures contained, now with the blessing of FISA oversight. We’ll see if any of Rand Paul’s and William Binney warnings are heard by the president.

Content

The episode can be found here and on ITunes. The full archive can be found on Podomatic.

The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Imperial Dilemma

Korea

I like the way Justin Raimondo puts it in the title of his latest piece, “Peace breaking out”. The current state of affairs in Korea is really quite amazing. We have the totalitarian dictator from the north, and the liberal republican type from the south, drawing tensions down at a very quick pace, and the world liberal order is worried it might be losing its influence. Even going as far as talking about preemptive war if those damn Koreas keep getting along.

The mainstream line on the situation is that the north is simply buying time to test more nukes, that they don’t have their hearts in it. Who cares about the motivation? With the Olympics coming up, both governments agreed to march under an united flag. The announcement of a joint Women’s ice hockey team also peaks my interest. There have been agreements on reestablishing a hotline between the two leaders, along with talks about a family reunion program being created.

All of this is bad for the neoconservatives, John Bolton nationalists, or the Hillary Clinton liberal internationalists. The racism of low expectations must continue to be the curtain covering the imperial nature of our role in that region of the world. The South Koreas need to need the United States. The arguments from pundits on mainstream TV describe this reopening of dialog as “driving a wedge” between the South and its imperial masters. Americans don’t know that South Koreans sometime protest the presence of US troops there.

If Trump could stay somewhat true to his campaign talk about “America First”, maybe he can see the savings that could be had by using this opportunity to take a back seat for awhile. The South has asked the US to halt military drills until the Olympics are over. Trump should agree to that publicly, see what happens.

Iran

Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the United States in someway in another for almost as long as North Korea has. After the protests last week, every hawk in Washington wanted Trump to use the opportunity to push Iran. The bet was on Trump ripping up the Nuclear Deal. Turns out they were wrong. Trump will be keeping the deal, mostly on the request of European allies. In this case, Trump’s lack of “nationalism” actually helps the American people.

At the same time, the false allegations against Iran for violations of the Nuclear Deal continue. The ability of the US to push this narrative in the face of all evidence shows the disconnect between reality and the American media consumer. Iran has threatened to leave the IAEA, a move that North Korea took on its way to a true “rogue” nuclear power.

Nick Turse & Special Operations

It might be the simple way he attacks the story, but Nick Turse is one of my favorite reports. His continued coverage of AFRICOM and overall US Special Operations policy in the world never has holes. Taking his sources directly from Freedom of Information Act results, it’s the raw stuff. He has a new article out about the coming year in Special Operations.

Trump all but promised to expand the Special Operations budget when he took office. Removing restrictions on what the military can do, and allowing lower level officers to make larger decisions, we should know where this is going. Every type of “Expendables” fantasy would be funded with little oversight. The numbers in 2017 are shocking. Operations took place in a record 149 nations in 2017, 33 of those countries were in Africa. That number is also up. I’ve written about the expansion of the drone program into Africa.

The bulk of the troops are still found in the Middle East, but the percentage is down to 54%. NATO’s war games in Eastern Europe have the European number up 10% from last year. If Trump’s eyes ever turn to Ukraine, it could go either way. If McCain is in his ear, we could have real bad news. However, I personal lean the other way on this, which is way I think the topic is left out of Trump’s view.

MSNBC: What’s Yemen?

Whenever I have a chance to embarrass MSNBC I’m going to take it. FAIR has analyzed their coverage from 2017, and focused on two very special subjects; Russia & Yemen. Now for Russia they were really looking at stupid “Trump Loves Putin” drama, and boy did they find some. There was nearly no coverage of Yemen in the 2nd half of 2017, with it only being noted once the whole year. When it was mentioned, what was left out is the story. No talk of cholera, US targeting and refueling help, the blockade on aid, civilian bombings, or the arms deals Obama made with the Saudis to fund this “war”.

In compassion, Trump & Russia was mentioned 5000% more.

Huge Rise in Civilian Deaths

survey was done by “Action of Armed Violence” looking at the civilian deaths of conflicts in the Middle East during the last year. The deaths have doubled. Doubled. Air campaigns by the US & Russia have accounted for 15 thousand deaths from airstrikes, a rise of 42%. With the warfare being focused in urban areas condensed with a large population, operations in places like Mosul & Raqqa showed shocking numbers.

Russian Base in Syria Attacked with Al Qeada’s Air Force

A Russian base in Syria was attacked in the middle of the night by 13 armed drones. The attack came from the US backed rebel forces in the country, making one wonder how out of control our policy in that country has become. Are we really training terrorists in Jordan, arming them with drones, and letting them go attack Russian bases in the middle of the night? If this isn’t our policy, our policy got us here.

Content

The episode can be found here and the full archive can be found on Podomatic or Itunes. The Youtube is below.