25th Dec 2016
Understanding the objectives and logic that accompany the expansion of nations or empires is always of paramount importance in helping one draw lessons for the future
In this series of four articles I intend to lay a very detailed but easily understandable foundation for describing the mechanisms that drive great powers. To succeed, one must analyze the geopolitical theories that over more than a century have contributed to shaping the relationship between Washington and other world powers. Secondly, it is important to expound on how Washington’s main geopolitical opponents (China, Russia and Iran) have over the years been arranging a way to put a stop to the intrusive and overbearing actions of Washington. Finally, it is important to take note of the possibly significant changes in American foreign policy doctrine that have been occurring over the last twenty years, especially how the new Trump administration intends to change course by redefining priorities and objectives.
The first analysis will therefore focus on the international order, globalization, geopolitical theories, their translations into modern concepts, and what controlling a country’s sovereignty means.
Before examining geopolitical theories, it is important to understand the effects of globalization and the changing international order it entails, a direct consequence of US strategy that seeks to control every aspect of the economic, political and cultural decisions made by foreign countries, usually applying military means to achieve this objective.
Globalization and the International Order
It is important to first define the international order among nations before and after the collapse of the Berlin wall, especially focusing on the consequences of existing in a globalized world.
For the first half of the twentieth century the world found itself fighting two world wars, then, during the Cold War, lasting from 1945 to 1989, the balance of power maintained by the US and USSR held the prospect of a third world war at bay. With the dissolution of the USSR, the United States, the only remaining world superpower, thought it could aspire to absolute domination over the globe, as was famously expressed through the Project for A New American Century. Putting aside for a moment perpetual wars, one of the key strategies towards fulfilling this objective was the so-called experiment of globalization, applied especially in trade, economics and finance, all of course driven by American interests.
Having achieved victory in the Cold War over its socialist rival, the world went from a capitalist system to a turbo-charged capitalist system. US corporations, thanks to this model of world globalized economy, have experienced untold riches, such as Apple and other IT corporations generating amounts of cash flow equivalent to that of small countries.
Banks and US financial institutions such as Wall Street incrementally increased their already considerable influence over foreign nations thanks to the rise of computer technology, automation and accounting deceptions such as derivatives, just to give one example. The FED implemented policies that took advantage of the role of the dollar in the globalized economy (the dollar is the premier world reserve currency). Over the years this has caused economic crises of all kinds all over the world, defrauding the entire economic system, consisting of schemes such as being able to print money at will, allowing for the financing massive wars, even going so far as lowering interest rates to 0% to keep banks and big corporations from failing – all a repudiation of the most basic rules of capitalism. All this was made possible because the US being the sole world power after 1989, allowing Washington to write the rules of the game in its favor.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Wall Street, Big Oil and military corporations, health-care providers, the insurance and agricultural industries slowly replaced national governments, managing to dictate agendas and priorities. A political form of globalization has led to an expropriation of national sovereignty in Europe, with the creation of the Euro and the Lisbon Treaty signed by all EU nations in 2007.
Globalization has forced the concept of sovereign states directed by their citizens to be replaced with an international superstructure led by the United States, driving away even more citizens from the decision-making process. The European Union, and in particular the European Commission (not elected, but appointed), is unpopular not only for the decisions it has taken but also for the perception that it is an imposter making important decisions without ever having been elected.
Basically, with the end of the USSR, the international order went from a relationship between states made up of citizens to a relationship between international superstructures (NATO, UN, IMF, WTO, World Bank, EU) and citizens, with the weight of the balance of power decisively in favor of the globalists with the economic burden resting on the people.
The international order and globalization are therefore to be interpreted according to the logic of Washington, always looking for new ways to dominate the globe, preserving its role of world superpower.
It is also for this reason that it is important to understand some geopolitical theories that underlie US strategic decisions in the pursuit of world domination. These theories are some of the most important with which Washington has, over the last 70 years, tried to pursue total domination of the planet.
MacKinder + Spykman + Mahan = World Domination
The first geopolitical theory is the so-called Heartland theory, drawn up in 1904 by English geographer Sir Halford Mackinder. The basic principle was the following:
«Heartland or Heartlands (literally: the Heart of the Earth) is a name that was given to the central zone of the Eurasian continent, corresponding roughly to Russia and the neighboring provinces, by Sir Halford Mackinder, the English geographer and author of Democratic Ideals and Reality; the Heartlands of the theory was submitted to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904.
The Heartland was described by Mackinder as the area bounded to the west by the Volga, the Yangtze River to the east, from the Arctic to the north and south from the western Himalayas. At the time, this area was almost entirely controlled by the Russian Empire.
For Mackinder, who based his theory on the geopolitical opposition between land and sea, Heartland was the “heart” button of all the earth civilization, because logistically unapproachable by any thalassocracy. Hence the phrase that sums up the whole concept of Mackinder’s geopolitics: ‘Who controls East Europe commands the Heartland: Who controls the Heartland commands the World-Island: Who controls the World-Island commands the world’».
In terms of countries, the Heartland consists mainly of Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, the Central Asian countries, and parts of Iran, China, Belarus and Ukraine.
The second geopolitical theory, another important lodestar for US foreign policy, was developed in the 1930s by the American Nicholas J. Spykman, also a student of geography as well as a scholar of MacKinder’s theory. Spykman, thanks to advancing naval technology, added to the definition of the Heartland theory the Rimland theory. The Rimland is divided into four main areas: Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Asia.
«For ‘world island’ it means the Eurasian region, ranging from Western Europe to the Far East. If for Mackinder the Tsarist empire represents the aforesaid area-pin, Spykman instead focuses on the area around Heartland, i.e. Rimland, recognizing it as a strategic point of great importance. The Rimland is characterized by the presence of rich countries, technologically advanced, with great availability of resources and easy access to the seas. Its size at the same time makes sea and land attacked by both sides. On the other hand this means that its dual nature as a possible mediating zone between the two world powers: the United States and Russia. The greatest threat from the geopolitical point of view lies in the union between Heartland and Rimland under one power».
The Rimland essentially consists of Europe (including eastern Europe), Turkey, the Middle East, the Gulf States, India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines*, Thailand, Vietnam) and Japan.
As one can see from observing a map, the United States is not physically close to either the Rimland or the Heartland. They are both on the other side of two 6,000-mile oceans. The US is undeniably protected in this way, almost impervious to attack, with an abundance of resources and powerful allies in Europe. These are all characteristics that have favored the rise of the American superpower throughout the twentieth century.
But world domination is a different matter and, given the geographical location of the US compared to the Heartland and Rimland, first requires a large capacity to project power. Of course with two oceans in between, it is naval power through which power has been conveyed, especially in the early part of the last century.
Mahan and Maritime Power
The third geopolitical theory is based on the importance given to maritime (or naval) power. The author of this theory, propounded towards the end of 1800, was US Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan.
«Mahan was a ‘precursor’ to international organizations. He assumed that through a union between the United States and Britain, being two maritime powers, they could unite to share the conquest of the seas. The key concept is that ‘the maritime powers are united in opposition to those continental.’ Mahan explains the concept of naval doctrine, which is the policy that states pursue in the maritime and military arenas. In order for a state to have a naval doctrine, it must possess a substantial navy, as well as of course access to the sea, adequate projection capability, adequate means, and have strategic objectives to be protected (such as security zones exposed to risk)».
As one can easily understand, these three doctrines are central to controlling the whole world. Dominating the Heartland is possible thanks to the control of the Rimland, and in order to conquer the Rimland it is necessary to control shipping routes and dominate the seas, relying upon the Mahan theory of maritime supremacy.
In this sense, seas and oceans of great geographic importance are those that encircle the Rimland: The East and South China Seas, the Philippine Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the Celebes Sea, the Java Sea, the Andaman Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and finally the Mediterranean.
In particular, straits such as Malacca, between Indonesia and Malaysia, or the Suez Canal, are of strategic importance due to their role as a transit route and connection between all the seas adjacent to the so-called Rimland.
A bit of history. Route to global domination
It was Hitler’s Germany during World War II that tried to put into practice the theory of geopolitics MacKinder was describing, managing to seize the Heartland but ultimately amounting to nothing with the final victory of the Red Army, who rebuffed and destroyed the Nazis.
After the end of World War II, the United States placed the Soviet Union in its crosshairs, with the intention of conquering the Heartland and thereby dominating the world. Alternatively, Plan B was to prevent other nations from teaming together to dominate the Heartland. This explains the historical conflicts between the US and Iran and between Russia and China, the three most important nations composing the Heartland.
Russia, since Tsarist times and throughout the Soviet period to today, has always been in the crosshairs of the United States, given its geographical location central to the Heartland.
Iran also constitutes a valuable piece of the ‘Heart of the World’, which was gifted to the Anglo-Americans courtesy the Pahlavi monarchy lending itself to the American plan to conquer the heart of the land. It was only after the 1979 revolution, which ousted the Pahlavi monarchy and installed an Islamic Republic, that Tehran became an enemy of Washington.
The reason why Afghanistan was invaded and Ukraine destabilized, and why the Belarusian leadership is hated almost as much as is the Russian one, is the same, namely, the geographical positions of these countries in composing the Heartland compels the US to conquer them as part of its grand strategy to dominate the world through the control of the Heartland.
The Republic of China, another constituent part of the Heartland theory, was during the Cold War the great Asian pivot thanks to Kissinger’s policy aimed at curbing the USSR and preventing the birth of a possible alliance between Tehran, Moscow and Beijing that would dominate the Heartland, especially in the late 1980s. The United States, instead of directly attacking China, used it against the Soviet Union. Washington’s primary goal, as well as to expand its influence everywhere, was to prevent any kind of alliance that would control the Heartland, specially preventing any alliance or understanding between Moscow and Beijing; but this will be very well explained in my third analysis on how Eurasia reunited to reject the American global empire.
Control of a nation
Historically, control of a nation takes place through military power that allows for a variety of impositions. Also, culture is part of the process of conquering a nation. Today, other than militarily, it is mainly economic power that determines the national sovereignty of a nation. In the modern world, especially in the last three decades, if you control the economy of a nation, you control the rulers of that nation. The dollar and neoliberal experiments like globalization are basically the two most powerful and invasive American tools to employ against geopolitical opponents. The application of military force is no longer the sole means of conquering and occupying a country. Obligating the use of a foreign currency for trade or limiting military supplies from a single source, and impeding strategic decisions in the energy sector, are ways the globalist elites are able to dominate a foreign country, taking control over its policies. The European Union and the NATO-member countries are good examples of what artificially independent nations look like, because they are in reality fully dispossessed of strategic choices in the areas mentioned. Washington decides and the vassals obey.
It is not always possible to employ military power as in the Middle East, or to stage a color revolution as in Ukraine. Big and significant nations like Russia, India, China and Iran are virtually impossible to control militarily, leaving only the financial option available. In this sense, the role of central banks and the de-dollarization process are a core strategic interest for these countries as a way of maintaining their full sovereignty. In going in this direction, they deliver a dramatic blow to US aspirations for a global empire.
6th Nov 2016
The emails currently roiling the US presidential campaign are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being slowly released by WikiLeaks from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.
The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.
They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.
Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting through the hacked personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been exposed, since WikiLeaks doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way. There is also the issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real, there is a small possibility they aren’t.
With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.
The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement.
Certain industries loom large and virtuous here. Hillary’s ingratiating speeches to Wall Street are well known of course, but what is remarkable is that, in the party of Jackson and Bryan and Roosevelt, smiling financiers now seem to stand on every corner, constantly proffering advice about this and that. In one now-famous email chain, for example, the reader can watch current US trade representative Michael Froman, writing from a Citibank email address in 2008, appear to name President Obama’s cabinet even before the great hope-and-change election was decided (incidentally, an important clue to understanding why that greatest of zombie banks was never put out of its misery).
The far-sighted innovators of Silicon Valley are also here in force, interacting all the time with the leaders of the party of the people. We watch as Podesta appears to email Sheryl Sandberg. He makes plans to visit Mark Zuckerberg (who, according to one missive, wants to “learn more about next steps for his philanthropy and social action”). Podesta exchanges emails with an entrepreneur about an ugly race now unfolding for Silicon Valley’s seat in Congress; this man, in turn, appears to forward to Podesta the remarks of yet another Silicon Valley grandee, who complains that one of the Democratic combatants in that fight was criticizing billionaires who give to Democrats. Specifically, the miscreant Dem in question was said to be:
“… spinning (and attacking) donors who have supported Democrats. John Arnold and Marc Leder have both given to Cory Booker, Joe Kennedy, and others. He is also attacking every billionaire that donates to [Congressional candidate] Ro [Khanna], many whom support other Democrats as well.”
Attacking billionaires! In the year 2015! It was, one of the correspondents appears to write, “madness and political malpractice of the party to allow this to continue”.
There are wonderful things to be found in this treasure trove when you search the gilded words “Davos” or “Tahoe”. But it is when you search “Vineyard” on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By “vineyard”, of course, they mean Martha’s Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve.
Consider, for example, the 2015 email from a foundation executive to a retired mortgage banker (who then seems to have forwarded the note on to Podesta, and thus into history) expressing concern that “Hillary’s image is being torn apart in the media and there’s not enough effective push back”. The public eavesdrops as yet another financier invites Podesta to a dinner featuring “food produced exclusively by the island’s farmers and fishermen which will be matched with specially selected wines”. We learn how a Hillary campaign aide recommended that a policy statement appear on a certain day so that “It wont get in the way of any other news we are trying to make – but far enough ahead of Hamptons and Vineyard money events”. We even read the pleadings of a man who wants to be invited to a state dinner at the White House and who offers, as one of several exhibits in his favor, the fact that he “joined the DSCC Majority Trust in Martha’s Vineyard (contributing over $32,400 to Democratic senators) in July 2014”.
(Hilariously, in another email chain, the Clinton team appears to scheme to “hit” Bernie Sanders for attending “DSCC retreats on Martha’s Vineyard with lobbyists”.)
Then there is the apparent nepotism, the dozens if not hundreds of mundane emails in which petitioners for this or that plum Washington job or high-profile academic appointment politely appeal to Podesta – the ward-heeler of the meritocratic elite – for a solicitous word whispered in the ear of a powerful crony.
This genre of Podesta email, in which people try to arrange jobs for themselves or their kids, points us toward the most fundamental thing we know about the people at the top of this class: their loyalty to one another and the way it overrides everything else. Of course Hillary Clinton staffed her state department with investment bankers and then did speaking engagements for investment banks as soon as she was done at the state department. Of course she appears to think that any kind of bank reform should “come from the industry itself”. And of course no elite bankers were ever prosecuted by the Obama administration. Read these emails and you understand, with a start, that the people at the top tier of American life all know each other. They are all engaged in promoting one another’s careers, constantly.
Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.
But the One Big Boundary remains. Yes, it’s all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren’t part of this happy, prosperous in-group – if you don’t have John Podesta’s email address – you’re out.
29th Sept 2016
Prominent theologians and scholars are saying this week that while globalism may be a buzzword this election season, too few understand the demonic forces driving this ideology.
As The New York Times reported Monday, until relatively recently it was rare to hear people referred to as “globalists” but the label is more common now. And while many globalists claim to have the interests of the entire world at heart, the irony is that they have become a tribe of sorts; and they are a wealthy, elite, and powerful tribe for whom national borders are an impediment to their agenda.
While many definitions for globalism exist, a wide chasm separates 1) necessary global exchanges in an increasingly interconnected world, like trade, legal immigration, and the cooperation and sharing of ideas across borders, and 2) globalism as a secular humanistic religion of sorts that envisons a one-world government.
For the second definition of globalism, such views are antithetical to a Christian worldview, according to some, even as the Church itself is global and the Kingdom of God is not constrained by national borders.
“A major objection to globalism from a spiritual and biblical point of view is that many of the globalists are pushing for a global value system,” said Wallace Henley, senior associate pastor of 2nd Baptist Church in Houston, Texas in a Tuesday phone interview with The Christian Post.
Henley, who has written recently on CP about national borders (see part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here) further explained that there is an anti-Christ spirit at work in the world that opposes the Kingdom of Christ, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
“The Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is the highest form of civilization. The anti-civilization represented by anti-Christ is the opposite of that. So if the kingdom of Christ is righteousness, the anti-civilization is evil and injustice. If the kingdom of Christ is peace, the Kingdom of anti-Christ is conflict. If the Kingdom of Christ is joy in the Holy Spirit, anti-civilization is misery.”
In a September 4 American Thinker article titled, “Globalism: the Religion of Empire” theologian Fay Voshell noted similarly that “[l]ike the Christian vision of the universal Kingdom of God, the religion of secular globalism claims universality, but is an earthly minded substitute for the Church universal. The Christian vision sees the Church universal as God’s kingdom ruling the earth. The religion of globalism sees an earthly, utopian world order in which all men pay allegiance to elite priests who rule over a World City without national borders.”
That lack of borders, Henley continued, is particularly problematic, “because within borders a particular civilization can choose to uphold those principles that we [as Christians] believe are at the heart of what makes a civilization a civilization.”
Without nation-states within those borders, “the only alternative to that is a global governance scenario which is terrifying,” he added.
Political tensions in the past year such as the populist backlash against Germany’s acceptance of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and the contentious Republican primary that produced a Donald Trump candidacy for President have showcased nationalist revolts against globalist ideas and influence.
In an 18-point essay that went viral on Charisma News in August, Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in San Diego suggested that perhaps the most important reason for Christians to support Donald Trump, is that he opposes globalism whereas Clinton thrives on it.
“Globalism is far more than ‘geographical’ or ‘eliminating national borders and boundaries,'” Garlow wrote. “It is spiritual and demonic at its core. Few — very few — understand this. This is quite likely one of the main reasons why Trump is hated. Do your homework on this one. Think ‘principalities and powers.'”
CP asked Henley to comment on Garlow’s contention that few Christians understand this. Globalism, Henley offered, amounts to a “secular spirituality” and its devotees are quite religious.
“[That] secular spirituality would deny any kind of operation of an antichrist or demonic spirit, they would be panned. So it’s not even a legitimate field of study in the institutions where thought is being formed. It would be terribly politically incorrect,” Henley said.
Furthermore, he continued, “there’s a general redefinition and revisionism in the academic community and the other consensus formers that make it almost impossible. If an academic would begin to talk about this he would lose tenure, he would lose everything.”
Christians are not the only ones who find globalist ideology troubling. And, not every anti-globalist is pro-Trump. (Henley, for instance, wrote a series of anti-Trump op-eds during the Republican primaries. See here, here and here.)
George Mason University Law School Professor and author of the 2004 book The Case for Sovereignty: Why The World Should Welcome American Independence Jeremy Rabkin argues that globalism fundamentally stands at odds with democratic forms of government.
In a Tuesday CP interview, Rabkin, a Jew, expressed his distaste for Donald Trump. But on globalism, he said, “beyond that it is not democratic, there’s something about it that is a little creepy, a little uncanny.”
“It’s basically saying ‘We are going to organize the world in a way that establishes an artificial consensus.’ It’s not enough to say it’s undemocratic. It’s threatening; it’s almost demonic. It is a world organized independently of people’s fundamental religious convictions,” Rabkin said.
24th Sept 2016
The Paris climate agreement is on the brink of coming into force after 31 nations officially joined the landmark accord, with the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, predicting it will be fully ratified by the end of the year.
On Wednesday, 31 countries formally signed up to the Paris deal at the UN general assembly in New York. They include Brazil, the world’s seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Mexico, Argentina and Sri Lanka. Oil-rich United Arab Emirates also ratified the deal, as did nations considered particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, such as Kiribati and Bangladesh.
The pledges mean that a total of 60 countries, representing 47.7 percent of global emissions, have now formally joined the Paris agreement. The deal aims to limit the global temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of keeping it to 1.5C.
A total of 55 nations representing at least 55 percent of global emissions need to sign up for the deal to come into force. The first of these thresholds has now been reached, with Ban and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, both predicting that the agreement will be fully implemented within months.
“I’m ever more confident that the Paris agreement will enter into force this year,” Ban said. “I appeal to all leaders to accelerate domestic arrangements to join this year.
“What once seemed impossible now seems inevitable. When this year ends, I hope we can all look back with pride knowing that we seized the opportunity to protect our common home.”
Video messages from Germany, France, the EU, Canada, Australia and South Korea among others all promised to ratify the Paris accord in the coming months. Should these promises be fulfilled, the agreement will pass the second threshold and come into force.
Australia, one of the largest per capita emitters, will make its “best endeavours to ratify” in 2016, said the country’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, said her country planned to ratify the deal “well ahead” of the next UN climate meeting in Marrakesh in November. The UK has made a similar commitment.
Kerry said it was an “exciting moment” but warned that the threat posed by climate change grows every day.
“The problem we continue to confront is growing,” he said. “Each day the planet is on this course, it becomes more dangerous.
“If anyone doubted the science, all they have to do is watch, sense, feel what is happening in the world today. High temperatures are already having consequences, people are dying in the heat, people lack water, we already have climate refugees.”
Kerry added that international climate negotiations have been a “long and frustrating path” since 1992 but that the Paris deal means that they are “finally becoming a story that we are proud to tell our grandchildren and future generations”.
The UN climate change chief, Patricia Espinosa, said: “This is an extraordinary momentum by nations and a clear signal of their determination to implement Paris now and raise ambition over the decades to come.”
A total of 195 nations put their name to the Paris deal and submitted promises to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Several analyses have cast doubt over whether the pledged emissions cuts will be sufficient to prevent a 2C temperature increase, with concerns exacerbated by record-breaking heat experienced over the course of 2016
The warmest August on record was recorded last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed on Tuesday. The US government agency said last month was the 16th month in a row where temperature records were broken, with July being the single warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880.
The soaring heat, which has retained much of its intensity despite the end of the El Niño climatic event, is unprecedented in at least 1,000 years and probably much longer, scientists have said.
But climate campaigners have said that the speed of the Paris deal ratification raises hopes that the world is finally swinging behind efforts to reduce emissions and prevent the worst ravages of a warming planet.
“The global community is rallying behind swift and ambitious action to combat climate change,” said Paula Caballero, global director of the World Resources Institute’s climate program.
“The fact that the Paris agreement will likely enter into force this year took everyone by surprise. This rapid pace reflects a spirit of cooperation rarely seen on a global scale.
“Today we pause and celebrate the important progress towards bringing the Paris agreement into force. Then we again pick up our shovels and continue the hard work of creating a safer and more prosperous planet.”
22nd Aug 2016
“I do not want to insult you, but maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations,” Rodrigo Duterte told journalists on Sunday. “Why do you have to listen to this stupid?”
“I don’t give a sh*t about them,” he added. “They are the ones interfering. You do not just go out and give a sh*tting statement against a country.”
Calling the UN “inutile”, Duterte said the Philippines could invite China, African nations and other countries to create a rival international body. He went further, slamming the UN’s response to other global issues.
“Look at the iconic boy that was taken out from the rubble and he was made to sit in the ambulance and we saw it,” Duterte said. The picture of Omran Daqneesh, a five-year-old Syrian boy has recently gone viral around the globe.
“Why is it that [the] United States is not doing anything? I do not read you. Anybody in that stupid body complaining about the stench there of death?”
The Philippine leader also attacked the US for more members of the public dying as a result of police violence.
“What do you think the Americans did to the black people there? Is that not rubbing off also? And (critics) say what?”
The angry tirade at the news conference in Davao City came after the UN’s special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, urged the Philippines to stop extrajudicial executions and killings, saying “state actors” could be punished for the “illegal killings.”
About 900 people have been killed by unidentified attackers since May, when Duterte was elected, and another 665 died at the hands of security forces, according to the national police chief.
Duterte, however, has vehemently denied these accusations, and said that the police only fired in self-defense, while he also lashed out at the UN.
He shrugged off the prospect of repercussions that could follow as a result of his remarks.
“I don’t give a shit about them. They are the ones interfering,” Duterte said.
He also wondered whether UN officials were indeed threatening to jail him and repeated that he was ready to sacrifice his life and presidency for his country.
Duterte has developed a reputation for being very outspoken and even rude at times. Earlier in August, he called the US ambassador in the country “gay” and a “son of a bitch.”
29th June 2016
Since 1958, the European Union has been absorbing independent states across the continent. Starting with the original inner 6 countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, and West Germany) and ending with Croatia in 2013, the forced centralization of Europe was a massive and ominous force with which to be reckoned. Until now.
On Friday, the people of Great Britain made their voice heard. They no longer want to be a part of the European Union and for good reason. For decades they have sat back and watched the global elite enrich themselves through special trade agreements ostensibly designed to bolster the economy, but in reality grant special treatment to those close to the top.
George Soros exposed the dependence of the elite on the EU when he took to fearmongering about rampant financial collapse upon Brexit.
“The Brexit crash will make all of you poorer — be warned,” Soros penned in an op-ed for the Guardian on June 20. “My 60 years of experience tells me the pound will plummet, along with your living standards. The only winners will be the speculators […]
“A vote to leave could see the week end with a Black Friday, and serious consequences for ordinary people.”
However, as Ron Paul so aptly pointed out on Friday, the people’s suffering will be minimal. It is the banking elite who are running scared.
“Other countries are watching….This is the beginning of the end of the European Union…and nobody is going to suffer from that. Only the wealthy, banking, special interests will suffer any from this,” said Paul.
And he is correct.
On Friday, Britain’s biggest banks faced double-digit losses on the stock markets, with shares plunging. Barclays dropped by 23.08% to $8.60, HSBC shares dropped 7.35% to $31.25, Royal Bank of Scotland sunk a whopping19.63% to $6.02.
In the US, JPMorgan Chase shares were down 6.26% to $60.04. Bank of America shares fell 6.34% to $13.15, Citigroup shares dropped 8.3% to $40.77, and Wells Fargo dived 4.7% at $45.66.
The big investment banks were also hit hard with Goldman Sachs shares down 5.26%, and Morgan Stanley shares dropping 8.57% to $24.94.
The global banking industry is entirely dependent on centralization of power to keep their balance sheets in order as their model requires a controlled economy. However, as Brexit has already shown, this model is not in the interests of the people. As nations continue to declare their independence, the cartel will crumble.
20th June 2016
Sir Richard Branson is stepping up his pro-EU efforts, launching a nationwide campaign to urge people to back remain and warning of the economic and political pitfalls of a Brexit vote.
The billionaire founder of the Virgin empire – who does not have the right to vote in the UK – is launching the campaign on Monday. He lives in the British Virgin Islands but pointed out that the Virgin businesses, which span financial services and gyms, employ 50,000 people in the UK.
Branson said: “As an entrepreneur I have been known for taking risks throughout my career, but leaving the European Union is not one of the risks I would want the UK to take – not as an investor, not as a father and not as a grandfather. I am deeply concerned about the impact of leaving.”
He has registered his campaign with the Electoral Commission, which suggests he intends to spend more than £10,000 on his efforts to win support for the remain side.
“Although I’ve been living in the British Virgin Islands for some time now, I have never stopped caring passionately about the UK and its great people,” Branson said.
He also pointed to other benefits of the EU, saying: “My father Ted fought in North Africa, Italy and Germany during world war two. My grandfather survived the horrors of the trenches in world war one. I truly believe that one of the EU’s greatest achievements is that it has kept its members out of conflict in Europe.”
The business community is not unanimous on remaining in the EU, however, with 37 pro-Brexit business leaders writing in the Sun on Sunday to say the country can survive outside the “energy-sapping” European project.
A Virgin spokesperson said: “Richard has lived overseas for some years and so he’s not on the electoral register. Richard’s children and grandchildren live in the UK and clearly as an investor Richard has interests in the UK, with Virgin businesses employing over 50,000 people. Richard is urging every single one of them to vote in.”
7th Jun 2016
The secretive Bilderberg Group, which is set to meet in Dresden, Germany later this week, will discuss how to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president, the possibility of mass riots as a result of wealth inequality, the migrant crisis, as well as the United Kingdom’s vote on leaving the European Union.
The influential meeting of bankers, politicians, media heads and business moguls has released its official participant list and agenda for 2016.
As per usual, the list of topics to be discussed is extremely vague;
• Current events
• Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity
• Middle East
• US political landscape, economy: growth, debt, reform
• Cyber security
• Geo-politics of energy and commodity prices
• Precariat and middle class
• Technological innovation
However, we can easily infer from the agenda and some of the names on the participant list what the group will be discussing in more detail.
The attendance of anti-Trump Senator Lindsey Graham is an obvious sign that Bilderberg will be scheming on how to prevent Trump from defeating Bilderberg’s chosen candidate – Hillary Clinton.
As we reported during last year’s conference, Bilderberg was confident that Clinton could shake off her GOP challengers, but Trump’s self-funded campaign and his public opposition to globalism and internationalist trade deals like NAFTA has shocked the Bilderberg elitists.
Bilderberg will obviously be discussing Brexit – Britain referendum vote to leave the EU – because it threatens the future of the European Union federal superstate that was the brainchild of Bilderberg in the first place.
The inclusion of “precariat and middle class” on the list also means that the powerful lobby group will be ruminating on how they can exploit and manage the inevitability of more riots and civil unrest in the west, a topic that elitists were also concerned about at the 2015 Davos Economic Summit.
“Precariat” describes those who are struggling to survive in today’s economy and who have no long term wage security. Studies have shown that wealth inequality increases the likelihood of mass social disorder.
The flooding of Europe with third world migrants, a process which has driven European voters into the arms of nationalist parties that typically oppose Bilderberg’s wider agenda, will also be a key topic of discussion.
Other interesting names on the list include Richard Engel, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent.
Normally, a semi-secret meeting of over 100 of the most powerful people on the planet would be a monumental news scoop, but don’t expect Engel to utter a word.
Bilderberg operates under Chatham House Rules, which means that none of the participants are able to reveal any comments made during the conference.
Although it was reported in the German media that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would attend this year’s conference, her name does not appear on the list.
However, it is a common practice for Bilderberg to omit names from the official list if the individual’s attendance is politically sensitive.
FULL PARTICIPANT LIST
Castries, Henri de (FRA), Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Aboutaleb, Ahmed (NLD), Mayor, City of Rotterdam
Achleitner, Paul M. (DEU), Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Agius, Marcus (GBR), Chairman, PA Consulting Group
Ahrenkiel, Thomas (DNK), Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence
Albuquerque, Maria Luís (PRT), Former Minister of Finance; MP, Social Democratic Party
Alierta, César (ESP), Executive Chairman and CEO, Telefónica
Altman, Roger C. (USA), Executive Chairman, Evercore
Altman, Sam (USA), President, Y Combinator
Andersson, Magdalena (SWE), Minister of Finance
Applebaum, Anne (USA), Columnist Washington Post; Director of the Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute
Apunen, Matti (FIN), Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Aydin-Düzgit, Senem (TUR), Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair, Istanbul Bilgi University
Barbizet, Patricia (FRA), CEO, Artemis
Barroso, José M. Durão (PRT), Former President of the European Commission
Baverez, Nicolas (FRA), Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Bengio, Yoshua (CAN), Professor in Computer Science and Operations Research, University of Montreal
Benko, René (AUT), Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board, SIGNA Holding GmbH
Bernabè, Franco (ITA), Chairman, CartaSi S.p.A.
Beurden, Ben van (NLD), CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Blanchard, Olivier (FRA), Fred Bergsten Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute
Botín, Ana P. (ESP), Executive Chairman, Banco Santander
Brandtzæg, Svein Richard (NOR), President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
Breedlove, Philip M. (INT), Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Brende, Børge (NOR), Minister of Foreign Affairs
Burns, William J. (USA), President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Cebrián, Juan Luis (ESP), Executive Chairman, PRISA and El País
Charpentier, Emmanuelle (FRA), Director, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
Coeuré, Benoît (INT), Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank
Costamagna, Claudio (ITA), Chairman, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A.
Cote, David M. (USA), Chairman and CEO, Honeywell
Cryan, John (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Bank AG
Dassù, Marta (ITA), Senior Director, European Affairs, Aspen Institute
Dijksma, Sharon A.M. (NLD), Minister for the Environment
Döpfner, Mathias (DEU), CEO, Axel Springer SE
Dudley, Robert (GBR), Group Chief Executive, BP plc
Dyvig, Christian (DNK), Chairman, Kompan
Ebeling, Thomas (DEU), CEO, ProSiebenSat.1
Elkann, John (ITA), Chairman and CEO, EXOR; Chairman, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Enders, Thomas (DEU), CEO, Airbus Group
Engel, Richard (USA), Chief Foreign Correspondent, NBC News
Fabius, Laurent (FRA), President, Constitutional Council
Federspiel, Ulrik (DNK), Group Executive, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Ferguson, Jr., Roger W. (USA), President and CEO, TIAA
Ferguson, Niall (USA), Professor of History, Harvard University
Flint, Douglas J. (GBR), Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Garicano, Luis (ESP), Professor of Economics, LSE; Senior Advisor to Ciudadanos
Georgieva, Kristalina (INT), Vice President, European Commission
Gernelle, Etienne (FRA), Editorial Director, Le Point
Gomes da Silva, Carlos (PRT), Vice Chairman and CEO, Galp Energia
Goodman, Helen (GBR), MP, Labour Party
Goulard, Sylvie (INT), Member of the European Parliament
Graham, Lindsey (USA), Senator
Grillo, Ulrich (DEU), Chairman, Grillo-Werke AG; President, Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie
Gruber, Lilli (ITA), Editor-in-Chief and Anchor “Otto e mezzo”, La7 TV
Hadfield, Chris (CAN), Colonel, Astronaut
Halberstadt, Victor (NLD), Professor of Economics, Leiden University
Harding, Dido (GBR), CEO, TalkTalk Telecom Group plc
Hassabis, Demis (GBR), Co-Founder and CEO, DeepMind
Hobson, Mellody (USA), President, Ariel Investment, LLC
Hoffman, Reid (USA), Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
Höttges, Timotheus (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Telekom AG
Jacobs, Kenneth M. (USA), Chairman and CEO, Lazard
Jäkel, Julia (DEU), CEO, Gruner + Jahr
Johnson, James A. (USA), Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
Jonsson, Conni (SWE), Founder and Chairman, EQT
Jordan, Jr., Vernon E. (USA), Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
Kaeser, Joe (DEU), President and CEO, Siemens AG
Karp, Alex (USA), CEO, Palantir Technologies
Kengeter, Carsten (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Börse AG
Kerr, John (GBR), Deputy Chairman, Scottish Power
Kherbache, Yasmine (BEL), MP, Flemish Parliament
Kissinger, Henry A. (USA), Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Kleinfeld, Klaus (USA), Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Kravis, Henry R. (USA), Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Kravis, Marie-Josée (USA), Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Kudelski, André (CHE), Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
Lagarde, Christine (INT), Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Levin, Richard (USA), CEO, Coursera
Leyen, Ursula von der (DEU), Minister of Defence
Leysen, Thomas (BEL), Chairman, KBC Group
Logothetis, George (GRC), Chairman and CEO, Libra Group
Maizière, Thomas de (DEU), Minister of the Interior, Federal Ministry of the Interior
Makan, Divesh (USA), CEO, ICONIQ Capital
Malcomson, Scott (USA), Author; President, Monere Ltd.
Markwalder, Christa (CHE), President of the National Council and the Federal Assembly
McArdle, Megan (USA), Columnist, Bloomberg View
Michel, Charles (BEL), Prime Minister
Micklethwait, John (USA), Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg LP
Minton Beddoes, Zanny (GBR), Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Mitsotakis, Kyriakos (GRC), President, New Democracy Party
Morneau, Bill (CAN), Minister of Finance
Mundie, Craig J. (USA), Principal, Mundie & Associates
Murray, Charles A. (USA), W.H. Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Netherlands, H.M. the King of the (NLD)
Noonan, Michael (IRL), Minister for Finance
Noonan, Peggy (USA), Author, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal
O’Leary, Michael (IRL), CEO, Ryanair Plc
Ollongren, Kajsa (NLD), Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam
Özel, Soli (TUR), Professor, Kadir Has University
Papalexopoulos, Dimitri (GRC), CEO, Titan Cement Co.
Petraeus, David H. (USA), Chairman, KKR Global Institute
Philippe, Edouard (FRA), Mayor of Le Havre
Pind, Søren (DNK), Minister of Justice
Ratti, Carlo (ITA), Director, MIT Senseable City Lab
Reisman, Heather M. (CAN), Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Rubin, Robert E. (USA), Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
Rutte, Mark (NLD), Prime Minister
Sawers, John (GBR), Chairman and Partner, Macro Advisory Partners
Schäuble, Wolfgang (DEU), Minister of Finance
Schieder, Andreas (AUT), Chairman, Social Democratic Group
Schmidt, Eric E. (USA), Executive Chairman, Alphabet Inc.
Scholten, Rudolf (AUT), CEO, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
Schwab, Klaus (INT), Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Sikorski, Radoslaw (POL), Senior Fellow, Harvard University; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Simsek, Mehmet (TUR), Deputy Prime Minister
Sinn, Hans-Werner (DEU), Professor for Economics and Public Finance, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Skogen Lund, Kristin (NOR), Director General, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
Standing, Guy (GBR), Co-President, BIEN; Research Professor, University of London
Thiel, Peter A. (USA), President, Thiel Capital
Tillich, Stanislaw (DEU), Minister-President of Saxony
Vetterli, Martin (CHE), President, NSF
Wahlroos, Björn (FIN), Chairman, Sampo Group, Nordea Bank, UPM-Kymmene Corporation
Wallenberg, Jacob (SWE), Chairman, Investor AB
Weder di Mauro, Beatrice (CHE), Professor of Economics, University of Mainz
Wolf, Martin H. (GBR), Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times
21st Feb 2016
When the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was first released in November last year, it included provisions dictating the kinds of penalties that should be available in cases of copyright infringement. Amongst those provisions, the following footnote allowed countries some flexibility in applying criminal procedures and penalties to cases of willful copyright infringement on a commercial scale:
With regard to copyright and related rights piracy provided for under paragraph 1, a Party may limit application of this paragraph to the cases in which there is an impact on the right holder’s ability to exploit the work, performance or phonogram in the market.
Following the footnote back to its source, it is apparent that the reference to limiting “the application of this paragraph” is to a more specific list of criminal procedures and penalties that the parties are required to make available in such cases. Paraphrased, these are:
- sentences of imprisonment as well as deterrent-level monetary fines;
- higher penalties in more serious circumstances, such as threats to public health or safety;
- seizure of suspected infringing items, the materials and implements used to produce them, and documentary evidence relating to them;
- the release of those items, materials, implements and evidence for use in civil proceedings;
- forfeiture or destruction of those items, materials and implements;
- forfeiture of any assets (such as money) derived from the infringement; and
- the ability for officials to take legal action against the alleged infringer on their own initiative, without requiring a complaint from the rights holder (this is called “ex officio action”).
As of the date of writing, the text excerpted at the top of this page is still the version of the text found on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) website. However on January 26, a slightly different version was uploaded to the website of the official host of the agreement, New Zealand. This version provides:
With regard to copyright and related rights piracy provided for under paragraph 1, a Party may limit application of this subparagraph to the cases in which there is an impact on the right holder’s ability to exploit the work, performance or phonogram in the market.
Spot the difference? No? Let’s try again:
With regard to copyright and related rights piracy provided for under paragraph 1, a Party may limit application of this subparagraph to the cases in which there is an impact on the right holder’s ability to exploit the work, performance or phonogram in the market.
What does this surreptitious change from “paragraph” to “subparagraph” mean? Well, in its original form the provision exempted a country from making available any of the criminal procedures and penalties listed above, except in circumstances where there was an impact on the copyright holder’s ability to exploit their work in the market.
In its revised form, the only criminal provision that a country is exempted from applying in those circumstances is the one to which the footnote is attached—namely, the ex officio action provision. Which means, under this amendment, all of the other criminal procedures and penalties must be available even if the infringement has absolutely no impact on the right holder’s ability to exploit their work in the market. The only enforcement provision that countries have the flexibility to withhold in such cases is the authority of state officials to take legal action into their own hands.
This is a very significant change. Let’s look at an example of how it might work. Take a website that shares multilingual subtitle files for movies. Although a technical copyright infringement, there are many legitimate uses for these files; for example, they allow you to lawfully purchase a foreign movie that isn’t available in your own country, and then to add subtitles to view the film in your own language. The sale of such subtitle files is as good an example as any of a niche service that copyright owners have never bothered to commercially fill, and probably never will, particularly for less commonly spoken languages.
Under the TPP’s original terms, a country could limit the exposure of the owner of such a website to prison time, or to the seizure and possible destruction of their server, on the grounds that by definition their infringement didn’t cause any lost sales to the copyright owner. (Note that they would be liable for civil damages to the copyright owner in any case.)
Although a country still has the option to limit criminal penalties to “commercial scale” infringements (which is so broadly defined that it could catch even a non-profit subtitles website), the new language compels TPP signatories to make these penalties available even where those infringements cause absolutely no impact on the copyright holder’s ability to profit from the work. This is a massive extension of the provision’s already expansive scope.
A Devious Move
How could this happen, when the TPP had supposedly already been finalized when the original text was released in November? The answer is that the original text had not been “legally scrubbed.” The legal scrubbing process, which was ongoing from November until the re-release of the text last month, was meant to be a process in which lawyers, trade ministry staff, and translators, go over the deal word-by-word, to ensure that it is legally consistent and free of unintended errors or loopholes.
It is most certainly not an opportunity for the negotiators to make any substantive changes to the text. Since the change highlighted above is unarguably a substantive change, the only basis for the change to be made during legal scrubbing would be if it were an error. But is it an error?
We don’t know for sure—though EFF has contacted the USTR for clarification, and we will update this post if we receive an answer. But logically, the original text doesn’t seem to have been an error, because there seems to be no rational basis why countries should be allowed to limit the availability of ex officio action, but not to similarly limit the availability of the other criminal remedies.
Think about it. What sense is there in sending someone to jail for an infringement that causes no harm to the copyright holder, whether they complain about it or not? And why should it matter that the copyright holder complains about something that didn’t affect them anyway? Surely, if the copyright holder suffers no harm, then a country ought to be able to suspend the whole gamut of criminal procedures and penalties, not only the availability of ex officio action.
This is no error—or if it is, then the parties were only in error in agreeing to a proposal that was complete nonsense to begin with. But most likely, this is an underhanded attempt to renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership before its ink is even dry. In an agreement that was an undemocratic power grab from the outset, this devious move marks the lowest point to which the negotiators have yet sunk. It gives us all even more reason, as if any were needed, to demand that our representatives refuse to ratify this dreadful agreement.