The Circuit of Death in the « Greater Mediterranean », by Manlio Dinucci

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The politico-media projectors, focussed as they are on the migratory flow from South to North across the Mediterranean, are leaving other Mediterranean flows in the dark – those moving from North to South, comprised of military forces and weapons. Perhaps we should say the « Greater Mediterranean », an area which, in the framework of USA / NATO strategy, stretches from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, and to the South, from the Persian Gulf as far as the Indian Ocean.

During his meeting with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, in Rome, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pointed out the « centrality of the greater Mediterranean for European security », now threatened by the « arc of instability stretching from the Mediterranean to the Middle East ». Which is why it is important for NATO, an alliance under US command, which Conte describes as the « pillar of interior and international security ». This is a complete inversion of reality.

It is the foundation of USA / NATO strategy which in fact provoked the « arc of instability » with its two wars against Iraq, the two other wars which demolished the states of Yugoslavia and Libya, and the war aimed at demolishing the state of Syria. According to Conte, Italy, which participated in all these wars, plays « a key role for the security and the stability of the Southern flank of the Alliance ».

In what way? We can discover the truth by what the medias are hiding. The US navy ship Trenton, which welcomed aboard 42 refugees (authorised to land in Sicily, unlike those of the Aquarius), is not based in Sicily in order to carry out humanitarian actions in the Mediterranean – it is in fact a rapid force unit (up to 80 km/h), capable of landing on the coasts of North Africa, within a few hours, an expeditionary force comprising 400 soldiers and their vehicles. US Special Forces are operating in Libya to train and lead allied army formations, while US armed drones, taking off from Sigonella (Sicily), hit their targets in Libya. In a short time, announced Stoltenberg, NATO drones will also be operating from Sigonella. They will integrate the « Hub » or « NATO Strategic Direction South » (NSDS), the intelligence centre for military operations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Hub, which will become operational in July, has its headquarters in Lago Patria, alongside the Joint Force Command of NATO (JFC Naples), under the orders of a US admiral – presently James Foggo – who will also command US naval forces in Europe (with their headquarters at Naples-Capodichino, and the Sixth Fleet based in Gaeta) and also the US naval forces for Africa. These forces have been integrated by the aircraft-carrier Harry Truman, which entered the Mediterranean two months ago with its attack group.

On 10 June, while media attention was focussed on the Aquarius, the US fleet, carrying 8,000 soldiers, and armed with 90 fighters and more than 1,000 missiles, was deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean, ready to strike in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, on 12-13 June, the Liberty Pride docked at Livorno – it is a militarised US ship, and carried on its 12 bridges further cargos of weapons which, from the US base of Camp Darby (Pisa), are sent every month to Jordan and Saudi Arabia to cultivate the wars in Syria and Yemen.

This is how we feed these wars, which, using neo-colonial methods of exploitation, provoke the pauperisation and uprooting of populations. Consequently, the migratory flow continues to increase dramatically, creating victims and new forms of slavery. « It seems that being tough on immigration now pays », commented President Trump, referring to the measures decided not only by Matteo Salvini, but by the totality of the Italian government, whose Prime Minister is qualified as « fantastic ».

This is fair recognition on the part of the United States, which, in the government’s programme, is defined as a « privileged ally » of Italy.

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Targeted for Death, Journalists Take US to Court on Kill List

CN–A bureau chief at Al Jazeera and an American freelancer claim in a federal complaint that they are being targeted for death because a flawed algorithm put their names on the U.S. government’s kill list.

Filing suit Thursday in Washington, Bilal Abdul Kareem and Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan say that the kill list, also known as the disposition matrix, is what the United States uses to target individuals for lethal drone strikes, among other weapons.

Kareem, a U.S. citizen, notes that he is one of the only Western journalists to have covered the Syrian civil war from rebel-held territory by forces opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Already the subject of intense criticism for his coverage of al-Qaida affiliated groups, Kareem has survived five airstrikes while reporting in Syria.

He says he believes he was the specific target of each of the strikes because of his inclusion on the U.S. kill list.

The freelancer’s co-plaintiff is citizen of Syria and Pakistan who learned from media reports that he is on the kill list.

Jeffrey Robinson, an attorney for the journalists with Washington-based Lewis Bach, noted in an interview that Zaidan saw a document, as reported by The Intercept in 2015, that shows the U.S. designated him as a member of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, and subsequently placed him on a terror watch list.

The document was part of a National Security Agency Power Point presentation leaked by Edward Snowden.

While Zaidan has not dodged drone strikes like Kareem, he fled his longtime post in Islamabad, Pakistan, for Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar.

Zaidan “can leave Qatar to continue his work as a journalist only at his peril,” according to the complaint.

Along with Kareem, Zaidan staunchly denies any involvement with terror groups or planning of terror attacks.

“Plaintiffs’ inclusion on the Kill List is the result of arbitrary and capricious agency action, accomplished without due process, and in violation of the United States Constitution and U.S. and international law,” the complaint states.

Named as defendants are President Donald Trump, CIA Director Michael Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Adviser Raymond McMaster, along with their respective agencies. None offered any comment on the lawsuit despite several inquiries. 

Zaidan is credited as one of only two journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. He says his decades-long career has led him to travel “extensively in countries and regions in which terrorists are active.”

Among his other interview subjects is Al Nusra front leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani.

Both Kareem and Zaidan regularly interview extremist leaders in terror hot spots in the course of their work, drawing the attention of an intelligence program called Skynet.

In the sci-fi classic “Terminator,” Skynet is the autonomous defense network that tries to eradicate the human race. The Intercept’s article showed that the National Security Agency has a program with the same name that uses cellphone tracking and metadata to identify potential terrorists.

“Skynet ‘applies complex combinations of geospatial, geotemporal, pattern-of-life, and travel analytics to bulk DNR data to identify patterns of suspect activity,” the lawsuit states, abbreviating dial number recognition.

“But, as is evident here,” the complaint continues, “Skynet may target persons solely because they frequently interact with so-called ‘militants,’ even if for innocent reasons like journalists interviewing sources.”

Asked if the men believe they are being targeted because of their work and not in spite of it, Robinson said: “I think that the public evidence to date supports the conclusion that at minimum, what they do and the nature of their work has led to them being on [the kill list].

Kate Higham, who heads the assassination project at human rights organization Reprieve, said a lack of human input in parsing the metadata compounds the program’s flaws.

“The majority of the basis of it is flawed intelligence,” she said in a phone interview, “and flawed analysis of that intelligence.”

Hingham suspects that a human analyst would be better equipped than an algorithm to explore alternative explanations for the mens’ travel, social-media content and interactions.

She noted that the program has other problems, including its propensity to designate people for assassination without identifying them.

As noted in the complaint, former NSA director Michael Hayden has publicly stated: “We kill people based on metadata.”

“Agencies need not identify a target by name,” the complaint states. “The PPG requires agencies conducting lethal action only to ’employ all reasonably available resources to ascertain the identity of the target so that action can be taken.”

PPG is short for Presidential Policy Guidance, an outline of procedures for direct action against terror targets. 

Higham notes that signature strikes are one component of  the U.S. assassination program. These are drone strikes that she said are “taken against targets who are perhaps not identified with their name or who they are, but simply based on pattern of life analysis,” which includes places they have traveled and people they have spoken to. 

“It’s clear that you can see that there’s a real lack of human intelligence and analysis being done in some of these, or in large numbers of the targeting that is taking place,” Higham said.   

Though Kareem has not seen documentary proof about his inclusion on the kill list, he says the five airstrikes are strong evidence.

“He hasn’t seen a specific report, but all the circumstances and conduct suggest that, which is why it’s alleged on information and belief,” attorney Robinson said.

The latest strike occurred in mid-August 2016. Bilal says he was traveling in a car with three colleagues to an area in Syria recently overtaken by rebels when a huge blast struck close to the car.

“One person sitting in the back of the car got shrapnel in his ear,” the complaint says. “Kareem and the others were all picking glass and steel out of their skin for some time after.”

Kareem, a native New Yorker and convert to Islam, currently works for On the Ground Network. He has reported for Skynews, the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN, including the latter’s series “The Truth About Syria: Undercover Behind Rebel Lines.”

While covering anti-Assad rebels in Syria, “Kareem interacts with local ‘militants’ during interviews, frequently using a variety of recording equipment and radio devices — including cellphones, satellite phones, and handheld transceivers — when interacting with them,” the complaint states.

The complaint notes that there is no administrative process for the two journalists to challenge their inclusion on the kill list. Kareem and Zaidan have never professed any desire to harm America, Robinson said.

Not giving them an opportunity to challenge their alleged inclusion on the kill list “makes no sense,” he added.

“We think it’s really important that whatever one’s view on the use of drones and the way which the United States has chose to fight terrorism – we think it’s really important in upholding American values that we get it right,” Robinson said.

The two journalists seek a declaration that their inclusion on the kill list is unlawful, an injunction removing their names from the list and ceasing of all efforts to target them for death.

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Before His Death, Anthony Bourdain Once Admitted to Taking Drug Linked to Hundreds of Suicides


Celebrity Chef and TV Personality Anthony Bourdain took his own life on Friday, and as his friends, family and the public are left with endless questions, evidence has surfaced showing that Bourdain was using the drug Chantix, which has been linked to hundreds of suicides.

Bourdain was vocal about his attempt to quit smoking by using the popular anti-smoking drug Chantix. In February 2012, Chef Michael Symon shared on Twitter that he “had a little smoking hiccup the other day… moment of weakness… but unlike other attempts to quit, got right back on track,” and Bourdain replied, “tried Chantix? It makes some people stabby but worked for me.”

The claim that Chantix “makes some people stabby” is an understatement, considering the fact that the drug comes with a long list of side effects, including hallucination, mood changes, aggressive behavior, thoughts of hurting or killing others, and suicidal thoughts or actions.

While Chantix may help some people stop smoking, the negative impact it can have on every other aspect of a person’s life raises questions about whether it is worth it. When Bourdain was asked in April 2012 if he really did quit smoking, he replied, I really did quit smoking and it has in no way improved my life—or my palate, unfortunately.”

However, Bourdain was still taking the drug in November 2012, and he found that the side effects became even worse when mixed with the anti-malaria drug, Malarone. He wrote on Twitter, “Chantix and Malarone do not mix well.”

While it is unclear how long Bourdain continued to take Chantix, the fact is that he introduced a powerful drug into his system that has been shown to have an overwhelming number of dangerous side effects. In fact, as Medical Daily reported, Institute for Safe Medical Practice senior researcher Thomas J. Moore concluded that Chantix was “associated with more adverse effects than any other medication on the market” in 2008.

After approving the drug in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration was forced to place a “black box warning” on Chantix in 2009, because of the overwhelming number of reports linking it to suicidal thoughts, hostility, and agitation.

Between 2008 and 2013, at least 544 suicides and 1,869 attempted suicides in the United States were connected to Chantix, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and reported by Al-Jazeera.

In a 2010 study on the cases in which users reported increased violence or aggression after taking Chantix, Moore told Al-Jazeera that he found many of the examples started with acts of violence and then progressed to suicide attempts and that there were usually three common factors.

“First, the violence was absolutely unpredictable and senseless,” Moore said. “Second, the victim was anybody who happened to be nearby. It could have been a fiancé. It could have been a mother. It could have been a police officer. And third, these people had no history of violence and were unlikely prospects for a violent act.”

While it is not clear whether Bourdain showed signs of violence or aggression, his suicide appears to have been sudden and has shocked many. It is not known whether Bourdain was taking any pharmaceutical prescriptions at the time of his death, but actress Rose McGowen responded by speaking out about his battle with depression and his relationship with her close friend, Asia Argento, in a letter:

“When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, “He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write.”

Anthony Bourdain will be remembered as both a chef and a humanitarian who used his award-winning series, “Parts Unknown,” to break the barriers between cultures in the countries he visited.

From accusing the world of robbing the Palestinian people of “their basic humanity” after a trip to Gaza, to admitting that he was “really knocked sideways by how well we were treated” during a trip to Iran, to remarking that a trip to Cambodia would make anyone want “to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands,” Bourdain worked to humanize parts of the world that are typically demonized by the United States.

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Brown bear chases fisherman to death in icy river in Kamchatka Krai, Russia

Sergey, 31, got so nervous that he started to throw stones at the bear, trying to scare the animal away


Hungry beast’s attack seen by anglers on other shore who shouted to warn him, but could do nothing to help.

Dancer and fisherman Sergey Zhirkov’s panic-stricken last moments were filmed by horrified onlookers as a bear helped itself to his fish and ripped apart his boat.

The 31 year old man from Kovran in the north of Kamchatka had climbed the steep river bank to get a phone signal to tell his friends to come and collect him after his fishing expedition.

A bear then clambered into his boat on the shore, ripped it apart, and ate his fish.

Sergey got so nervous that he started to throw stones at the bear, trying to scare the animal away.

The bear retreated at first, but then came back and chased Sergey first up the hill, and then down into the river.

Fisherman on the other bank shouted warnings to the terrified man.

With the predator squaring up, Sergey – wearing long boots – backed away from the beast into the cold stream.

He tried swimming across the river to reach a rope thrown by the other fisherman but he was overcome by the current and cold and was swept downstream.

‘Sergey’s body was washed ashore early this morning after it was taken into the Sea of Okhotsk. The bear ran away, we have not managed to trace him’, said Irina Kvasova, head of Kovran village administration.

The village of Kovran is situated in the west coast of Kamchatka peninsula, some 683km north of regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

The village’s population is 250 people.

Sergey had been a dancer with the prominent Elvel ensemble in Kamchatka.

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How They Do It, How it Happens and How It’s Done–IDF vet gets death threats after she’s falsely accused of killing Gaza medic

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Does it matter? USA in a debt trap death spiral

Stock trader


The US economy and its financial structures have never recovered from the great financial meltdown of 2008 despite the passage of ten years. Little discussion has been given to the fact that the Republican Congress last year abandoned the process of mandatory budget cuts or automatic sequestration that had been voted in a feeble attempt to rein in the dramatic rise in US government debt. That was merely an added factor in what soon will be recognized as a classic debt trap. What is now looming over not just the US economy but also the global financial system is a crisis that could spell the end of the post-1944 dollar system.

First some basic background. When President Nixon, on advice of Paul Volcker, then at US Treasury, announced on August 15, 1971 the unilateral end of the Bretton Woods gold-dollar system, to replace it with a floating dollar, Washington economists and Wall Street bankers realized that the unique role of the US dollar as leading reserve currency held by all central banks and the currency for world commodity and other trade, especially oil, gave them something that appeared to be a gift from monetary heaven.

So long as the world needed US dollars, Washington could run government deficits without end. Foreign central banks, especially the Bank of Japan in the 1980’s and since the turn of the century, the Peoples’ Bank of China, would have little choice but to reinvest their surplus trade dollar earnings in interest-bearing AAA-rated US Treasury securities. This perverse dollar system allowed Washington to finance its wars in faraway places like Afghanistan or Iraq with other peoples’ money. During the Administration of George W. Bush, when Washington’s annual budget deficit exceeded annually one trillion dollars, Vice President Dick Cheney cynically quipped, “debt doesn’t matter; Reagan proved that.” Up to a point that appeared so. Now we are getting dangerously near to that “point” where debt does matter.

Federal Debt Rise

There are generally speaking three major divisions of debt measured in the US economy: Federal debt of Washington, corporate debt and private household debt. Today, owing in large part to ten years of historic low interest rates following the largest financial crisis in history – the 2007-2008 sub-prime crisis that became a global systemic crisis after September 2008 – all three sectors have borrowed as if there was no tomorrow because of the near-zero Federal Reserve interest rates and their various Quantitative Easings. Nothing so radical can last forever.

Since the financial crisis erupted in 2008 US Federal debt has more than doubled from $10 trillion to over $21 trillion today. Yet conditions were made manageable by a Federal Reserve emergency policy that dealt with the financial and banking crisis by buying almost $500 billion annually of that debt. Much of the remainder was bought by China, Japan and even Russia and Saudi Arabia. Further debt levels were restrained by the bipartisan spending caps established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that had kept recent deficits partially in check.

Now conditions of future US Federal debt and deficit growth are pre-programmed for systemic crisis over the next several years.

‘Trumponomics’ Disaster

The economics of the Trump Tax Cuts Act of 2017, signed in December, dramatically cut certain taxes on business corporations from 35% to 21%, but did not offset that with revenue increases elsewhere. The promise is that cheaper taxes will spur economic growth. This is a myth under present economic conditions and overall public and private debt burdens. Instead, the new tax law, assuming ideal economic conditions, will decrease expected revenues by a total of $1 trillion over the next 10 years. If the economy goes into severe recession, highly likely, tax revenues will plunge and the deficits will explode even more.

What the new Trump tax cut act will do is dramatically increase the size of the US annual budget deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as early as Fiscal Year 2019 the annual deficit that must be financed by debt will reach $1 trillion. Then the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee expects government debt issues of $ 955 billion for FY2018, compared with $ 519 billion in FY 2017. Then for FY 2019 and 2020 the deficit will exceed $1 trillion. By 2028, ten years from now, under mild economic assumptions, the size of the USA Federal debt will rise to an untenable $34 trillion from roughly $21 trillion today, and the deficit in 2028 will exceed $1.5 trillion. And this year 2018 alone, with historically low interest rates the cost of interest only on the total Federal debt will reach $500 billion.

Zombie borrowers…time bombs

Now after almost a decade of unprecedented low interest rates to bail out Wall Street and create new asset inflation in stocks, bonds and housing, the Fed is in the early stages of what some call QT or Quantitative Tightening. Interest rates are rising and have been for the past year, so far very gradually as the Fed is being cautious. The Fed however is continuing to raise rates, and now the Fed Funds stands at 1.75% after nearly ten years at effectively zero. Were they to stop now it would signal a market panic that the Fed knew something far worse than they say.

Because never in its history has the Federal Reserve indulged in such a monetary experiment with so low rates so long, the effects of reversing are going to be as well unprecedented. At the onset of the 2008 financial crisis the Fed rates were around 5%. That is what the Fed is aiming at to return to “normal.” However, with rising interest rates, the lowest credit sector, so-called non-investment grade or “junk bonds” face domino style defaults.

Moody’s Credit Rating has just issued a warning that, barring some sort of miracle, as US interest rates rise, and they are, as much as 22% of US corporations that are being kept alive borrowing at historically low interest, not only in shale oil but in construction and utilities, so-called “zombie” corporations, will face an avalanche of mass defaults on their debt. Moody’s writes that, “low interest rates and investor appetite for yield has pushed companies into issuing mounds of debt that offer comparatively low levels of protection for investors.” The Moody’s report goes on to state some alarming numbers: since 2009, the level of global non-financial junk-rated companies has soared by 58%, representing $3.7 trillion in outstanding debt, the highest ever. Some 40%, or $2 trillion, are rated B1 or lower. Since 2009, US corporate debt has increased by 49%, hitting a record total of $8.8 trillion. Much of that debt has been used to fund stock repurchases by the companies to boost their stock price, the main reason for the unprecedented Wall Street stock market bubble.

Fully 75% of federal spending is economically non-productive including military, debt service, social security. Unlike during the 1930s Great Depression when levels of Federal debt were almost nil, today the debt is 105% of GDP and rising. Spending on national economic infrastructure including the Tennessee Valley Authority and a network of federally-build dams and other infrastructure resulted in the great economic boom of the 1950s. Spending $1.5 trillion on a dysfunctional F-35 all-purpose fighter jet program won’t do it.

Into this precarious situation Washington is doing its very best to antagonize the very countries that it needs to finance these deficits and buy the US debt-China, Russia and even Japan. As financial investors demand more interest to invest in US debt, the higher rates will trigger the default avalanche Moody’s warns. This is the real backdrop to the dangerous US foreign policy actions of the recent period. No one in Washington seems to care and that’s the alarming fact.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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