Archive | December 21, 2015

Congress Just Passed Part of Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan in the Budget Bill*

Congress Just Passed Part of Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan in the Budget Bill*

By Claire Bernish

“Fear is one of the most dangerous emotions on earth, and fear is making us behave in ways that [are] contrary to our values and our interests.”

Friday’s $1.1 trillion omnibus budget bill, intended to keep the U.S. government operational through September 2016, passed both houses of Congress with a rather stunning provision stuffed away inside: changes to the Visa Waiver Program so draconian they essentially implement the spirit of Trump’s contentious immigration proposal.

Based solely on a person’s heritage, many U.S. citizens will likely have their freedom to travel freely in Europe and East Asia restricted in startling ways.

This might not sound like much on its surface, but the scope of this provision creates a waterfall of consequences so insidious it’s questionable whether the politicians who designed it did so without malicious intent.

According to the more than 25-year-old Visa Waiver Program, citizens in participating countries have been able to travel to the United States without needing a visa to do so. Because the program is reciprocal, that same privilege extends to U.S. citizens visiting any of the 38 nations currently on that list. But Congress just changed the rules dramatically by requiring people coming from those countries, including citizens, to have a visa if they are nationals of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, or Syria — or if a person has simply visited those countries since 2011.

Two glaring complications immediately spring to mind: Iran and Syria consider someone a national if their fathers are citizens, indeterminate of their place of birth or current location of residence. So, as Murtaza Hussain explained in the Intercept, “it’s possible that someone who is a citizen of one of the countries on the visa-free travel list — the United Kingdom, say — and who lives there and grew up there and has never visited another country, could end up denied entry to the U.S. because of a parent born in Iran or Syria.”

Secondly, it’s reasonable to expect Visa Waiver Program countries, including those in the E.U., to employ equivalent constraints for ‘Americans’ — “meaning that many Iranian-Americans, Syrian-Americans, and others in the U.S. would see their ability to travel the world seriously degraded based on ancestry or dual citizenship.”

If you think your heritage means these dubious restrictions don’t apply to you, be advised those who simply travelled to the targeted countries since 2011 — journalists, missionaries, business people, aid workers, or even sight-seers — fall under the reciprocal umbrella, as well.

Though many assumed the Visa Waiver Program amounted to a free pass for would-be terrorists, that claim never held weight. In a statement made in anticipation of the constraints — signed by all 28 European Union member-state ambassadors — E.U. Ambassador to the U.S., David O’Sullivan, explained:

“The Visa Waiver Program is an essential tool in transatlantic relations which allows millions of citizens from our respective countries to visit the U.S., and vice versa, for tourism or business purposes, while ensuring a high and effective level of security […]

“It is not, contrary to some suggestions, a license to enter the U.S. with nothing more than the wave of the passport of an allied country. It is a program which makes travel to the U.S. both easier and safer […] Travellers under the VWP are required to hold machine-readable passports containing biometric data; to possess a valid onward ticket on an approved carrier, and, most importantly, to undergo the same comprehensive background checks […] as are required for visa applicants […]

“A blanket restriction on those who have visited Syria or Iraq, for example, would most likely affect only legitimate travel by business people, journalists, humanitarian, or medical workers while doing little to detect those who travel by clandestine means over land.” O’Sullivan adds those strictures “would be counterproductive, could trigger legally-mandated reciprocal measures, and would do nothing to increase security while instead hurting economies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

In early December, an apparently astonished ACLU issued a letter to the House urging prudent revisions before the implementation of proposed restrictions — which it rightly described as both “discriminatory” and “arbitrary.” According to the letter:

“By singling out these four nationalities to the exclusion of other dual nationals in VWP countries, [the bill] amounts to blanket discrimination based on nationality and national origin without a rational basis.

“There is no sufficient reason to justify the differential treatment of VWP citizens who are nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan. There is no evidence to support the blanket assertion that citizens of VWP countries, who are dual nationals of these four countries, are more likely to engage in terrorist acts against the U.S.”

Though perhaps not as wide a discriminatory net for Trump and his supporters’ satisfaction, these latest provisions should be cause for everyone’s concern — even if they have no political inclinations whatsoever. As was also highlighted in the Intercept, some features in the newly-passed legislation are alarmingly contradictory to the also newly-negotiated Iranian nuclear agreement:

“[A] European or Japanese business owner who travelled to Iran to take advantage of recently lifted economic sanctions would thereafter find themselves denied visa-free entry to the United States — a restriction that would inevitably act as a deterrent to doing business in Iran. But the provisions of the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal prohibit policies that undermine ‘the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.’”

Aptly stating concerns of an untold number of people — in the U.S., Iran, and elsewhere — the National Iranian-American Council’s sister organization, NIAC Action, also released a letter in early December that implored Congress to “take a stand against fear-mongering.” Though its admonition fell on the notoriously deaf ears of the U.S. government, NIAC Action’s plea for reason cannot be ignored by the more rational among us:

“This is an outrageous bill [that] risks creating a separate class of American citizen. An American passport is an American passport regardless of the ethnicity or national origin of the person holding it […] In the face of terrorism, Americans must stand united — not divided based on national background.

Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kuwait, told the Middle East Eye:

“This just really scares me. It is highly discriminatory. It is discriminatory not based on who you are or what you did, but who your father or your mother is.” He went on to warn, “If we’re prepared to pass legislation like that, what are we prepared to do about our own citizens? Fear is one of the most dangerous emotions on earth, and fear is making us behave in ways that [are] contrary to our values and our interests.”

Most ominously, as similarly cautioned by Anti-Media, Crocker exhorted,

“If we take this step, what other steps might follow?”


Related Topics:

Denmark to ‘confiscate’ Gold, Jewellery, and other Valuables from Refugees*

Financial Power Struggle, ISIS and IMF Chief Charged for Corruption*

They get you to Hate Muslims so They Can Pocket There Wealth and Keep You Poor*

U.K’s Terrorism Adviser Resigned, for Reasons that Should Worry Us All*

Contractors Cite “Benefits” of Escalating Conflicts in the Middle East*

Giving Thanks for a Nation of Migrants, Refugees, and Immigrants*

Putin Reveals ISIS Funded by 40 Countries, Including G20 Members*

1 Million Syrians Return Home since Launch of Russian Anti-ISIS Operations*

Financial Power Struggle, ISIS and IMF Chief Charged for Corruption*

Financial Power Struggle, ISIS and IMF Chief Charged for Corruption*

By Benjamin Fulford

The International Monetary Fund last week made a big push to position its SDR currency as a replacement for the U.S. dollar. The U.S. Congress finally (after 5 years foot-dragging) approved IMF voting reform, diluting G7 power, after which the organization announced it was doubling its money to 477 billion SDR (US$660 billion) from 238 billion SDR (about $330 billion).

Somebody apparently was not pleased because, immediately after this announcement, French police pressed criminal charges against IMF head Christine Lagarde.

The last IMF head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested on trumped up rape charges and dismissed from office when he tried to push the SDR as a U.S. dollar replacement. The CIA was behind that operation, according to CIA sources. Let us see if Lagarde does any better.

Another sign the U.S. dollar and the people who control it are involved in high level financial warfare was the rate hike announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board last week. The official reason for the rate hike, a strong U.S. economy, was a bold faced lie as all real economic indicators show the U.S. economy remains in a tailspin. Furthermore, this rate hike will have the effect of taking money from small banks who lend to real businesses to the big banks who control the Fed and whose main business is gambling. The real reason for this rate hike was to protect the no-longer American US Dollar, not the US economy. In any case, the rate hike was a failure in that the dollar fell instead of rising. Long term interest rates also fell, meaning the market expects deflation and not the supposed inflation the rate hike was supposed to stop.

The U.S. government finally agreeing to dilute its power at the IMF while the Fed raises interest rates are probably connected to U.S. corporate government efforts to stave off bankruptcy. In other words, as a condition for additional funding, the U.S. was forced to hand over de facto control of the IMF and pay more interest to foreigners who own U.S. dollars.

The fact the U.S. sent B52 bombers over Chinese territory last week was also almost certainly connected to high level, secret, negotiations to keep the U.S. corporate government afloat. Essentially, the Americans were yet again using their nuclear war card to try to get a better deal.

Another sign something fundamental has changed is the fact the U.S. government has done a 180 degree about turn in its policy towards Syria last week by supporting a U.N. resolution that does not call for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The U.S. and Israel, until now often condemned at the U.N. by the rest of the world, have shown signs of regime change by voting for a unanimous U.N. resolution aimed at cutting off ISIS finances. This resolution targets the family of Turkish President Erdogan, the Kurdish Barzani family, the Bush crime family, Israel, Exxon, BP and others. As a Pentagon official put it “it is poetic justice that this unanimous U.N. vote was chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, an orthodox Jew.”

apocalypse-statue-of-libertyThe latest U.S. Defense Intelligence Department intelligence also reveals the Bushes and their neo-con buddies have been shipping oil tanker trucks, pickup trucks and other equipment to ISIS from Houston, Texas, Pentagon sources say. The trucks are being modified in Israel and then are sent to the war zone via Turkey and Jordan, they say.

Pentagon generals and rank and file are also becoming increasingly suspicious of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Carter was in Turkey recently where he ordered an airstrike in Iraq that killed 25 Iraqi soldiers, the sources say. Carter ordered the attack as punishment for the Iraqis after they refused an offer by him to send special operations troops and Apache helicopters. U.S. Special Forces were also recently refused entry in Libya, indicating a growing international distrust in their leadership…


Related Topics:

IMF Chiefs: Prostitution, Kickbacks and Money Laundering*

Obama, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Arrest Warrants Issued*

The Joint U.S-Russia U.N. Security Council Draft Resolution “To Defeat ISIS!?*

House Committee Votes to Directly Arm Kurds in Northern Iraq*

The U.S. is Back in Recession with Interest Rates Already at Zero*

House Passes Bill to Overhaul the Federal Reserve*

Cameron’s ‘counter extremism’ Experts Work with Far-Right Donald Trump Sympathisers*

Cameron’s ‘counter extremism’ Experts Work with Far-Right Donald Trump Sympathisers*

By Nafeez Ahmed

Last week, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump provoked global outrage with his call for a ‘temporary’ ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.

His remarks also sparked enthusiastic support from neo-Nazi white supremacists, triggered a spike in campaign donations, and maintained his 35% lead in the Republican campaign race.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron described Trump’s proposal as “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”

Since then, over half a million Britons have signed a petition demanding the government to ban Trump from entering the UK, making it the most signed UK government petition ever.

But Trump has unlikely allies in Britain — some with close links to the Tory government.

Far from simply popping out of nowhere, Trump’s ideology of hate has been incubated by a trans-Atlantic network of rightwing lobby groups and think-tanks, members of which have advised David Cameron himself.

Two influential organisations in London that stand out are the Quilliam Foundation and Henry Jackson Society (HJS): Quilliam is part of the Prime Minister’s new anti-extremist Community Engagement Forum; its founding director, Maajid Nawaz, claims to have fed into Cameron’s speeches on extremism; and a HJS report, ‘Preventing Prevent’, authored by HJS fellow Rupert Sutton, was plagiarised by Downing Street in its October statement on extremism on UK university campuses.

“This isn’t a presidential candidate,” declared Nawaz on CNN about Donald Trump,

“this is a presidential troll.”

He warned, rightly, that Trump’s exclusionary politics could pave the way for “fascist or far-right groups… taking matters into their own hands against the eight million Muslims in the United States.”

But Nawaz didn’t admit his own role in mainstreaming people who promote exactly that form of fascism.

Frank Gaffney

The link between these two organisations and Donald Trump is Frank Gaffney, who was the chief inspiration for Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors hate speech, Trump’s proposal “turns out to be based entirely on the thoroughly un-American proposals of Frank Gaffney.”

Frank Gaffney

Trump justified the ban using statistics from Gaffney and his Center for Security Policy (CSP), which conducted a survey showing high levels of support for violence among American Muslims.

But the Washington Post described Gaffney’s survey as “a very shoddy poll,” replete with numerous methodological flaws, while SPLC lists Gaffney as a “notorious anti-Muslim extremist.”

Although he denies having formally advised Trump, this year Gaffney organised three ‘National Security Action Summits’, each of which hosted Trump, as well as other Republican candidates, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

Gaffney’s CSP was also a co-sponsor of an anti-Iran rally on 9th September 2015 hosting both Trump and Cruz.

That month, Gaffney hosted white supremacist Jared Taylor on his ‘Secure Freedom’ radio podcast show, where he praised Taylor’s anti-black, anti-Latino website, American Renaissance, as “wonderful.”

Gaffney began his political career as an aide to the late right-wing Democrat Senator Henry Jackson, before serving in Ronald Reagan’s Department of Defense under arch-neoconservative Richard Perle. He was forced out of the Pentagon due to his rabid opposition to arms control talks with the Soviet Union.

Since then, through his Center for Security Policy, he has promoted all manner of bizarre anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, including the idea that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim and wasn’t actually born in America; that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government; that American Muslims are deceptively working to install a parallel system of “Shari’ah Law” in the US; that Saddam Hussein masterminded the Oklahoma City bombing; and that Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, is a secret Brotherhood agent; among other crazed ideas.

Gaffney’s links with Quilliam

Frank Gaffney’s craziness has bought him surprising friends in Britain.

One of them was the now defunct London-based Sufi Muslim Council (SMC), whose executive director at the time, Haras Rafiq, is managing director at Maajid Nawaz’s ‘counter-extremism’ outfit, the Quilliam Foundation. The SMC had been launched in 2006 under Rafiq’s leadership with support from the Labour government. Rafiq now sits on the U.K. government’s Community Engagement Forum Task Force.

In 2007, two U.S. representatives of the Sufi Muslim Council, Sheikh Hisham Kabbani (SMC’s chairman) and Hedieh Mirahmadi (SMC’s political advisor), shared a platform with Frank Gaffney after the screening of his anti-Muslim documentary film, Islam vs Islamists.

From the right, Sheikh Hisham Kabbani of Haras Rafiq’s Sufi Muslim Council (SMC), then Frank Gaffney, then SMC’s Hedieh Mirahmadi at the Heritage Foundation screening of Gaffney’s film

PBS, which had originally commissioned the film, decided not to broadcast it after determining that it presented a “biased, inaccurate view of the subject,” and failed to meet PBS editorial standards.

PBS staff had criticised Gaffney and his team for adopting an “editorial slant by being overly alarmist and demonising imams.”

But Haras Rafiq’s colleagues at the SMC apparently disagreed with PBS. Rafiq’s advisor Mirahmadi, who had spoken alongside Gaffney at the Heritage Foundation screening of the film, told the Chicago Tribune that “fundamentalist” Islam “has spread across the U.S.”

Rafiq has eagerly courted other anti-Muslim bigots. In January 2010, he provided a briefing to the Middle East Forum (MEF), run by Daniel Pipes — who was listed as one of America’s leading “misinformation experts” on Islam in the Washington-based Center for American Progress report, ‘Fear Inc.’

Below is an image of Pipes besides Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who openly calls for the banning of Muslim immigation and depopulation of Muslims from Europe.

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders (left) offering a Trump-like proposal during his speech in Denmark, beside Middle East Forum’s Daniel Pipes

The Institute for Policy Studies’ RightWeb similarly notes that “Pipes often espouses extremist views, some of which border on racism.”

Instead of challenging Pipes’ racist and extremist bigotry, Rafiq told Pipes’ MEF that “many mosques in the West are being funded and run by extremists,” a matter “further exacerbated by taqiyya, or doctrinal deceit, which permits Islamists to dissemble their true beliefs… most of the literature on Islam disseminated in mosques has been sponsored by extremists.”

Rafiq’s promotion of the myth of ‘taqiyya’ as a way that Muslims practice systematic deceit to conceal their extremist beliefs from wider society is a longstanding false trope put out by anti-Muslim bigots.

Taqiyya is the honoured practice of lying for the faith,” claimed Gaffney in 2011. “It’s not considered lying, it’s telling non-Muslims what you want them to know in order to protect the faith. Taqiyya is both an authorised and a mandatory part of Shari’ah law. It fits a pattern of what we have seen various MB [Muslim Brotherhood] organisations and front groups engage in.”

Gaffney also sits on the advisory board of the Clarion Project, alongside Pipes and other far-right extremists, which showcases anti-Muslim and anti-Islam videos, including one featuring racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders “arguing that Muslim immigration has become such a major problem in Europe that millions of Muslims may have to be deported.”


Related Topics:

Donald Trump’s Trojan Horse in Britain

U.K’s Terrorism Adviser Resigned, for Reasons that Should Worry Us All*

War Crimes and the Rigged Scottish Referendum of David Cameron

National Front Targeting Scottish School Students*

Zionism and Organized Islamophobia – The Facts*

They get you to Hate Muslims so They Can Pocket There Wealth and Keep You Poor*

U.S. Airstrike Kills at 20 More Iraqi Soldiers in Anbar*

U.S. Airstrike Kills at 20 More Iraqi Soldiers in Anbar*

A senior Iraqi officer says the U.S. is deliberately hindering his country’s military advances after an American airstrike kills at least 20 soldiers in the Anbar province.

Hakim al-Zamili, the head of Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defence Committee, blamed the U.S. for the inability of Iraqi troops to enter Ramadi and Fallujah in the western province.

The MP accused the Americans of launching airstrikes or dropping aerial packages that provide weapons and equipment to Daesh.

His strong words came after a U.S. strike hit the Iraqi army’s 3rd Division 55th Brigade west of the Iraqi capital on Friday.

According to Iraq’s joint operations command, the strike came as Iraqi forces were advancing on terrorist positions near Amriyat al-Fallujah.

Zamili put the death toll at 20, saying the number may increase since “many were seriously injured and have not yet been taken to hospitals.”

The lawmaker asked Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to conduct an investigation into the airstrike against the 55th Brigade “which had previously had huge success in the fight against Daesh terrorists.”

“We will go to court over this crime, there will be a hearing,” an apparently outraged Zamili said.

Another MP rejected U.S. military assistance, saying it would harm the national security and cause chaos in the country.

The U.S. has proposed to provide ground forces including Apache helicopters to help Iraq recover Ramadi. On Wednesday, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter went to Iraq to discuss the details about sending troops and helicopter gunships, which was not approved by the Iraqi government.

Abd al-Hussain al-Zergawy, member of the Iraqi Parliament, said the US move may harm Iraq’s national security and impinge on its sovereignty.

“The actions of the special forces on the ground are not controlled by us due to the nature of the tasks, which is harmful to our national security. Because we cannot tell what they should or should not do, which may lead to new problems and infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty,” he said.

“It is not simply about Apache helicopters, but about the trust between us,” al-Zergawy added.

Iraqi army and allied paramilitary fighters maintain a heavy presence in Anbar, where they have been engaged in a massive operation against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces have managed to recapture most parts of the desert province, including several districts of its capital Ramadi, which fell into the hands of Daesh in May.

Iraq has on several occasions complained about the ineffectiveness of the airstrikes launched by the U.S. and its allies in June 2014 allegedly targeting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in north and west of Iraq.

Iraqis say many attacks have been carried out without coordination with Baghdad, increasing the likelihood of coalition fighter jets hitting civilians and Iraqi forces.

Zerqawi said Iraq should not allow the US troops to enter as it cannot control them and they may also cause chaos.

“If they send out ground troops and you cannot control them, it will be considered a new invasion into Iraq. So we will refuse that directly. The U.S. invasion is a painful experience to us. They just left after causing chaos in our country.

“So we cannot open our door again when we are able to make progress in fighting extremist groups,” the lawmaker said.


Related Topics:

U.S. Stopping Iraqi Popular Forces’ from Freeing Ramadi from ISIS*

U.K’s Terrorism Adviser Resigned, for Reasons that Should Worry Us All*

Turkish Forces Watch on as the Syrian Army Seizes Large Parts of the Border in N. Latakia*

They get you to Hate Muslims so They Can Pocket There Wealth and Keep You Poor*

U.K’s Terrorism Adviser Resigned, for Reasons that Should Worry Us All*

The Joint U.S-Russia U.N. Security Council Draft Resolution “To Defeat ISIS!?*

U.S. Special ops Forces Told to Leave Libya after Arriving*

Obama, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Arrest Warrants Issued*

U.S. Air Force Hires Private Companies to Fly Drones in War Zones*

Shipment of Smuggled Blank Passports Seized in Turkey*

Podemos Ends Spain’s Two-party System*

Podemos Ends Spain’s Two-party System*

  • Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias speaks during a news conference in Madrid, Spain, December 21, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) lost its absolute majority in national elections Sunday.

Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the leftist political party Podemos, hailed Sunday’s general election as opening up a “time of historic compromise” after his anti-austerity party finished third in Spain’s general election.

Electoral results showed that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) lost its absolute majority in national elections, securing 123 seats. The PP was followed by the centre-left PSOE who secured 91 seats, while Podemos won 69 and Ciudadano 40 seats in the country’s Congress.

Analysis: The Bell Tolls for Spain’s Two Party Era

In his speech, Iglesias announced plans to start a fresh round of contact with all political forces to propose constitutional changes, which he considers necessary for the electoral system to reflect the “principle of proportionality.” He added that another week of campaigning and another debate could have resulted in a victory for Podemos.

“Citizens have ended the two-party system,” Iglesias said, praising the results obtained in the important regions of Catalunya, the Basque Country and Valencia, where Podemos obtained a majority of votes.

Iglesias also discussed the issue of Catalan independence.

 “I don’t want them to be separated from Spain but I defend the referendum,” he said, hailing the birth of “a new Spain.”

His party has campaigned for a pluri-national but unified Spain.

Podemos was formed  in January 2014 by Iglesias and a group of fellow leftist university intellectuals. The party grew from “Los Indignados,”  a grassroots protest movement calling for radical change amid soaring unemployment and austerity measures.


Related Topics:

Spain Marches for Dignity*

Against Spain’s Gag Law: The First Hologram Protest in History*

CIA not Amused at the Rising Left in Spain*

Spanish Banks, Obama et al Threaten Financial Meltdown if Catalonia Votes for Independence*

New Podemos Mayor Stops Eviction of Families on his First Day*

Italy and Spain Have Funded a Massive Backdoor Bailout of French Banks*

Why Catalonia Is Formally Breaking Up With Spain*