Category: Special Interests

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‘It’s not even a close call’: Ted Cruz insists the Middle East was a safer place when dictators Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi were alive

  • The presidential candidate, 44, said US should focus on its own security
  • Said Middle East was more secure when Iraq and Libya dictators were alive
  • Cruz said Libya was now a ‘chaotic war zone ruled by radical Islamic terrorists’

Ted Cruz believes the Middle East was a safer place before the US helped to overthrow tyrants Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, it has been reported.

The Texas senator, a Republican presidential candidate, said America should focus on its own security rather than toppling dictators abroad.

He said it was ‘not even a close call’ when asked whether the Middle East was more secure when Gaddafi and Hussein were dictators of their respective countries.


Ted Cruz believes the Middle East was a safer place before the US helped to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, it has been reported

Ted Cruz believes the Middle East was a safer place before the US helped to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, it has been reported

Cruz said the toppling of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had shown the US has not learned lessons from history

Cruz said the toppling of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had shown the US has not learned lessons from history

In an interview with MSNBC, Cruz told Joe Scarborough: ‘Now, what has been a mistake – and we’ve seen a consistent mistake in foreign policy – is far too often, we’ve seen Democrats and a lot of establishment Republicans in Washington get involved in toppling Middle Eastern governments.

‘And it ends up benefiting the bad guys. It ends up handing them over to radical Islamic terrorists,’

He described Syrian president Bashar Assad as a ‘monster’ but warned that ISIS extremists would sweep further across the country were he to be overthrown.

He said: ‘My view, instead of getting in the middle of a civil war in Syria, where we don’t have a dog in the fight, our focus should be on killing ISIS. Why? Because ISIS has declared war on America. They’re waging jihad.’

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PressTV News Videos PRESS TV

Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:29AM
The Obama administration relies heavily on Daesh (ISIL) to push ahead with its psychological warfare, Grossman says.

US President Barack Obama’s government has no intention of destroying the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri group and is using the terror organization as an instrument to push ahead with its agenda through psychological warfare, an American analyst says.

It was announced on Monday that Obama was planning to visit Defense Secretary Ashton Carter later in the day to review the US-led military campaign against Daesh with his national security advisers.

This would be the American leader’s first visit to the Pentagon since the recent terrorist attacks in California and Paris.

The attacks that left scores of people dead are believed to have been carried out by people who share ideologies with the terrorist group.

“Few things in this mess are more clear than the fact that White House policy has been to contain and, many people argue, use ISIS (Daesh) to spread insecurity and perhaps to force regime change, rather than to destroy the phenomena,”  Barry Grossman, an international lawyer, told Press TV on Monday.


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Middle East

09:08 14.12.2015(updated 09:13 14.12.2015) Get short URL

The US-led anti-terrorist coalition’s airstrikes on the Syrian Army may not have been an accident and could be repeated, Russia’s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said.

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — The Syrian Army confirmed earlier in December an airstrike on Syrian Army positions by US-led coalition aircraft in the Deir ez-Zor area that killed three and wounded 13 servicemen.

“Naturally, there is the suspicion that it was not accidental, that despite all assurances given to the Syrian government that these strikes would not target the Syrian government’s forces, the strikes could target government troops from time to time,” Churkin told RIA Novosti.

“This will intensify tensions and only complicate the situation in Syria. But let’s hope it won’t happen,” he added.

Churkin said that Moscow was not currently planning to raise the issue of coalition strikes on the Syrian army at the UN Security Council.

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ISIS driving Toyotas a little too often, US Treasury wonders why

© Stringer
ISIS has many faults, but it sure knows a good car when it sees one. The US Treasury is now pressing Toyota about why so many of its vehicles are being driven around by the terrorist group, as evidenced in their propaganda videos.

Toyota has issued a statement to explain that this is part of a wider probe into terrorist supply chains and capital flow, according to ABC. The company also says it does not know how its trucks ended up in ISIS hands in such a quantity, and is “supporting” the inquiry.


The model most popular with Islamic State drivers seems to be the Hilux, similar to Tacomas and Land Cruisers. This overseas version is a mainstay in ISIS propaganda videos, often loaded to the brim with heavy weapons.

The company says the cars in the videos aren’t recent models, but ABC spoke to the Iraqi ambassador to the US, Lukman Faily, who said that in addition to re-purposing old vehicles, the terrorist group has been acquiring “hundreds” of “brand new” ones in recent years.

“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors,” the ambassador said. “How could these brand new trucks… these four-wheel drives, hundreds of them – where are they coming from?”

Some of the other cars paraded in victory parade videos include Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Isuzu.

“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,” said Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations. Wallace is CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, a group specializing in tracking terrorist finance channels.

“ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,” he said. “But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet – a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us.”

But according to Lewis, “It is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated.”

The current inquiry isn’t the first time somebody’s asked about Toyota popping up frequently in IS hands. A report last year by Public Radio International exposed a delivery by the US State Department of 43 Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels – the “moderate” ones, as has been the Western line since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. Australian media has also this year been circulating reports of some 800 vehicles stolen, and authorities believing they may have been shipped to war zones in the Middle East.


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This one Toyota pickup truck is at the top of the shopping list for the Free Syrian Army — and the Taliban



Rebels operating under the Free Syrian Army sit in a Hilux pickup truck on one of the battlefronts in Jobar, Damascus, August 2013

Credit: REUTERS/ Mohamed Abdullah


The Hilux, a pickup truck Toyota has built since the late 1960s, isn’t available in the US, but it’s popular around the globe, including with insurgent groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.


This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks.

Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army’s wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, is a fan of the truck.

“Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground,” he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.

“You can absolutely expect for many of those trucks to be mounted with crew-served machine guns or other type of equipment, military equipment, that the opposition forces have access to. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why the Toyota Hilux is such an important force multiplier, because it could be used both for humanitarian purposes and for operational purposes as well.”

Syria is only the latest war zone where the Hilux has been a vehicle of choice. The BBC’s Kabul correspondent, David Loyn, saw the Hilux put through its paces by the Taliban in the 1990s, and credits the truck with having given Taliban forces a battlefield edge.


Read More and Liste to the Interview Here

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Crippled in Syria, Turkey goes for a ‘Sunnistan’ in Iraq

© Fatih Saribas
Turkey’s “incursion” into Iraq is a cold, calculated move. And once again, the name of the game is – what else? – Divide and Rule.

Turkey sent to Iraqi Kurdistan – which is part of the state of Iraq – no less than a 400-strong battalion supported by 25 M-60A3 tanks. Now the Turkish boots on the ground at Bashiqa camp, northeast of Mosul, have reportedly reached a total of around 600.

The short breakdown: this is not a “training camp”– as Ankara is spinning. It’s a full-blown, perhaps permanent, military base.

The dodgy deal was struck between the ultra-corrupt Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and then-Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu in Erbil last month.

Torrents of Turkish spin swear this is only about “training” Peshmergas to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Absolute nonsense. The crucial fact is that Ankara is terrified of the “4+1” alliance fighting Islamic State, which unites Iran, Iraqi Shiites and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as well as Hezbollah, with Russia.

In Syria, Ankara is virtually paralyzed, after the “stab in the back”downing of the Su-24; the Russian revelations of complicity between Turkey’s first family and stolen Syrian oil (Bilal Erdogan, a.k.a. Erdogan ‘Mini Me’denies everything); and the Russian Air Force relentless pounding of Turkey’s fifth column Turkmen. Not to mention the deployment of S-400s and even a third-generation submarine complete with Kalibr cruise missiles.

So Ankara now switches the attention to Iraq with a “counter-alliance”, made up of Turkey; the KRG (which – illegally – sells oil to Turkey); and Sunnis in northern Iraq under the supposed leadership of the sprawling Nuceyfi tribe in Mosul.

© Stringer

This is textbook neo-Ottomanism in action. We should never forget that for the AKP in power in Ankara, northern Syria and northern Iraq are nothing but former Ottoman Empire provinces, an eastward extension of Turkey’s Hatay province. ‘Sultan’ Erdogan’s (unstated) wet dream is to annex the whole lot.

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Pepe Escobar
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030”, also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

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‘Turkey acts like ISIS ally, should not be EU member’– Czech president

Czech President Milos Zeman. © Petr Josek
Turkey should not become an EU member, said Czech President Milos Zeman, adding that Ankara sometimes behaves like an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) ally, even though Turkey is part of NATO.

I think Turkey is indeed a member of NATO, but sometimes behaves as if it’s more an ally of Islamic State. It removes oil from Syria which finances Islamic State,” Zeman said, as quoted by Czech newspaper Parlamentni Listy.

The president’s remarks came on Tuesday while addressing voters at the end of a three-day visit to the Czech town of Kadan, North Bohemia, local media reported.

Zeman suggested Turkish policy stems from the principle “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” referring to Turkey’s suppression of the Kurds, “who are the only ones who have fought effectively with IS,” the newspaper reported.

The president maintained this is the reason why Turkey should be approached with caution and has no reason to be an EU member.


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Turkey to help EU stem migrant crisis for €3bn and membership talks

© Francois Lenoir
Turkey has signed an agreement with the EU at a summit in Brussels in which the country will help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for €3 billion ($3.18bn) of support and the reestablishing of talks on EU accession.

Key points of Turkey-EU refugee deal:
1. The EU agrees to provide “an initial” €3 billion ($3.18bn) over two years for Turkey to better cater for the needs of 2.2 million Syrian refugees in the country.
2. The EU promises to open a new chapter in negotiations regarding Turkey’s EU ascension and to bring the country’s standards in economic and financial policies up to scratch.
3. The EU pledges to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone by October 2016 once all the requirements set forth in the EU roadmap are met.

The European Union, struggling with the flow of refugees coming from the war-torn Middle East and North Africa, will allocate €3 billion of initial aid to Turkey that will help with managing the crisis by taking in some 1.5 million migrants, Chancellor Merkel has confirmed, Reuters reports. The sum can be adjusted with time depending on circumstances.

Apart from that, the EU has promised to renew talks on Turkey’s EU membership that haven’t seen much progress since 2005. The new chapter of discussions will open in December while further chapters are expected to come in the first three months of 2016.

“We agreed that [Turkey’s] accession process needs to be re-energized,” European Council President Donald Tusk told a news conference after the summit, Reuters reported.


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Why the Gulf States, the Kurds, the Turks, the Sunnis, and the Shia Won’t Fight America’s War

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Sunday night, Dec. 6, 2016. In a rare Oval Office address, Obama vowed the United States would overcome a terror threat that has entered a “new phase” as he sought to reassure Americans shaken by recent attacks in Paris and California. (Photo: Saul Loeb, AP)

In the many strategies proposed to defeat the Islamic State (IS) by presidential candidates, policymakers, and media pundits alike across the American political spectrum, one common element stands out: someone else should really do it. The United States will send in planes, advisers, and special ops guys, but it would be best — and this varies depending on which pseudo-strategist you cite — if the Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Sunnis, and/or Shias would please step in soon and get America off the hook.

The idea of seeing other-than-American boots on the ground, like Washington’s recently deep-sixed scheme to create some “moderate” Syrian rebels out of whole cloth, is attractive on paper. Let someone else fight America’s wars for American goals. Put an Arab face on the conflict, or if not that at least a Kurdish one (since, though they may not be Arabs, they’re close enough in an American calculus). Let the U.S. focus on its “bloodless” use of air power and covert ops. Somebody else, Washington’s top brains repeatedly suggest, should put their feet on the embattled, contested ground of Syria and Iraq. Why, the U.S. might even gift them with nice, new boots as a thank-you.

Is this, however, a realistic strategy for winning America’s war(s) in the Middle East?

The Great Champions of the Grand Strategy

Recently, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly called for the U.S. to round up some Arab allies, Kurds, and Iraqi Sunnis to drive the Islamic State’s fighters out of Iraq and Syria. On the same day that Clinton made her proposal, Bernie Sanders called for “destroying” the Islamic State, but suggested that it “must be done primarily by Muslim nations.” It’s doubtful he meant Indonesia or Malaysia.

Among the Republican contenders, Marco Rubio proposed that the U.S. “provide arms directly to Sunni tribal and Kurdish forces.” Ted Cruz threw his support behind arming the Kurds, while Donald Trump appeared to favor more violence in the region by whoever might be willing to jump in.

The Pentagon has long been in favor of arming both the Kurds and whatever Sunni tribal groups it could round up in Iraq or Syria. Variouspundits across the political spectrum say much the same.

They may all mean well, but their plans are guaranteed to fail. Here’s why, group by group.

The Gulf Arabs


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Deepening Inequality Driving US Middle Class into Oblivion

“The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for four decades, and it may have reached a tipping point,” Pew Research Center says

A closer look at the shift out of the middle reveals that “a deeper polarization is underway in the American economy,” says Pew Research Center report. (Image: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)

The American middle class is shrinking.

For the first time in more than four decades, middle-income households have lost their majority status in the U.S., according to new findings, and are now outnumbered by their counterparts on opposite ends of the income spectrum.

“The fastest-growing segments are the ones at the extremes, the very lowest and highest ends of the income distribution.”
—Pew Research Center

Based on the definition used in the Pew Research Center report released Wednesday, the share of American adults living in middle-income households—that is, with an income that is two-thirds to double that of the overall median household income, or $42,000 to $126,000 annually in 2014—has fallen from a high of 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015.

At the same time, the share living in the upper-income tier jumped from 14 percent to 21 percent over the same period, and the share in the lower-income tier rose from 25 percent to 29 percent.

“The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for four decades, and it may have reached a tipping point,” the Pew study suggests. Furthermore, a “closer look at the shift out of the middle reveals that a deeper polarization is underway in the American economy.”

“The movement out of the middle-income tier has been more than just a step in one direction or the other,” the report says. “The fastest-growing segments are the ones at the extremes, the very lowest and highest ends of the income distribution.”

In addition, middle class families have fallen further behind financially, the study shows, with the share of U.S. aggregate household income held by middle-income households having “eroded significantly over time.”

“Upper-income households now command the greatest share of aggregate income and are on the verge of holding more in total income than all other households combined,” the report reads. “This shift is partly because upper-income households constitute a rising share of the population and partly because their incomes are increasing more rapidly than those of other tiers.”

The Pew findings support what many 2016 presidential candidates, led by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, have been saying on the campaign trail.

In an op-ed published this summer, Sanders decried what he called “the war against the American middle class,” marked by Wall Street greed, anti-worker policies, and corporate tax evasion.

And on Thursday, he tweeted:

There’s been a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the top 1%. We’ve got to bring that money back to working families.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in January found that 47 percent of respondents considered reducing income inequality an absolute priority for the government to pursue this year, with Democrats placing far greater importance on it than Republicans.

In a piece for Gawker on Thursday, Hamilton Nolan responded to Pew report with an irreverent eulogy.

“The Middle Class, a popular figure in American folklore, died this week after a long battle with capitalism,” Nolan wrote. “Its passing has been expected since the recent death of its partner, The American Dream.”

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The Economic Collapse

Are You Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse And The Next Great Depression?


JP Morgan And Citigroup Agree That The U.S. Economy Is Steamrolling Toward A Recession

Locomotive - Public Domain

As we approach the end of 2015, researchers at both JP Morgan and Citigroup agree that the probability that the U.S. economy will soon plunge into recession is rising.  Just last week, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives asked Janet Yellen about Citigroup’s assessment that there is a 65 percent chance that the United States will experience an economic recession in 2016.  You can read her answer below.  And just a few days ago, JP Morgan economists Michael Feroli, Daniel Silver, Jesse Edgerton, and Robert Mellman released a report in which they declared that “the probability of recession within three years” has risen to “an eye-catching 76%”

“Our longer-run indicators, however, continue to suggest an elevated risk that the expansion is nearing its end, and our preferred model now puts the probability of recession within three years at an eye-catching 76%.”

The good news is that the economists at JP Morgan believe that a recession will probably not hit us within the next six months.  But due to steadily weakening economic conditions, they are convinced that one is almost certain to strike within the next few years

“When we first wrote, only manufacturing sentiment was signaling an above-average probability of imminent recession,” they said. “But recent weakening in the Richmond Fed services survey and the ISM nonmanufacturing index have now pushed the nonmanufacturing sentiment probability up somewhat as well.”

In the short term, the note says that the 6-month likelihood is only 5%, but within a year it stands at 23%, in two years 48%, and in three years the “eye-popping” 76%.

To be honest, I believe that this assessment is far too optimistic, and it appears that researchers at Citigroup agree with me.  According to them, there is a 65 percent chance that the U.S. economy will plunge into recession by the end of next year.  Last week, Janet Yellen was asked about this during testimony before Congress

In testimony before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, Yellen was asked by Rep. Pat Tiberi about a piece of research released by Citigroup’s rates strategy team Monday.

Specifically, Tiberi, an Ohio Republican, wanted to know what Yellen made of Citi’s conclusion that there is a 65 percent chance of a U.S. recession in 2016.

“The economists said that they would assign about a 65 percent likelihood of a recession in the United States in 2016. Now, 65 percent sounds high to me, but I’m not an economist and I’m not the Fed chair. But zero risk might be too low as well. So what would you assign a risk level of a recession next year?” Tiberi asked.

So how did Yellen respond?


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