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Takes on the World: Army Maj. Danny Sjursen rips US wars, self-image, hypocrisy, Segment 1 (Wed, 13 Sep 2017)
US Army Major Danny Sjursen, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq wars and still on active duty at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, elaborates on his recent article for TomDispatch, “Worth Dying For? When it Comes to the War in the Greater Middle East, Maybe We're the Bad Guys” which he acknowledges represents his views an not those of the Dept. of the Army, the Dept. of Defense, or the US Government. This becomes abundantly clear as he skewers the notion of the US as “the indispensable nation” or a “force for good,” in the world and the indifference of Americans to the violence that their country has been doing and continues to so around the world, citing the US support for the ongoing air-war being conducted by Saudi Arabia against the people of Yemen. He also castigates the public's refusal to acknowledge America's responsibility for the refugee crisis that its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused and wonders if it is too late to turn things around. Sjursen has particularly harsh criticism for Washington's choice of allies, the Saudis, Israel, and Egypt, and compares the US reaction to the behavior of the Saudis (whose fundamentalist Wahabist doctrine he condemns) with that of ISIS, when they do the same thing, such as be-headings. That the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become interminable he attributes to Nixon's ending of the draft before which America's young men and their families had “skin in the game,” and to the preference of the military for a professional army, about which, he notes the country's founders had serious questions. Without the draft, he points out, there can be no serious antiwar movement. He points out that all of the military actions taken by the USG since 911 have been justified by the loosely interpreted “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists” given to Pres. GW Bush on 9/14/01 and noted that there is a new effort in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul to repeal it. Sjursen notes the contradictions among those in today's army. While pleased with the “socialized” health care and the generous benefits provided by the government, a sizable segment tend to hold extreme right positions, politically, which fits in with what he describes as an “anti-intellectual” climate, in general. He is particularly critical of the way military service is portrayed in American culture, citing its pervasive presence in National Football League games, with huge American flags, troops on display and fly-overs and disgusted with the yellow ribbons and the polite but insincere “thank you for your service” statements spoken by politicians and the public. Major Sjursen speaks with remarkable courage and justifiable anger at what he has seen happen to his country and that he does so from “the belly of the beast” is all the more extraordinary. And sadly, all too rare.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: 911, No. Korea, Iran, Israel, AIPAC, Segment 1 (Wed, 13 Sep 2017)
Blankfort, noting 911 memorials, wonders if there were moments of silence for the millions of victims of America's response, citing Gen. McCrystal's unnecessary concern that Americans would care. They don't. He points out that while questions remain about “official narrative” for 911, debates and discussions about it are barred from mainstream and equivalent alternative media while no one pays attention or cares that there have been no trials for those in Guantanamo accused of masterminding the attacks and that none are planned. Blankfort reports on new sanctions on No. Korea and explains why US threats of economic sanctions against China if it doesn't do more to bring Pyongang to heel are hot air since US is so in debt to China in terms of debt and reliance of Chinese imports that any move against Beijing would bring down US economy. He then quotes from Nikki Haley's speech at AEI in which she trashes Iran and advocates against maintaining nuclear pact with Iran and lies wildly about Hezbollah at a time when Israel is conducting war games on Lebanon's border. He points out that a reported threat from the State Dept. to ask Israel to return $75 million that it had asked for and received in violation of the MOU between Obama and Netanyahu in which Israel would receive $38 billion over 10 years while promising not to ask Congress for additional funds, which Netanyahu ignored, turned out to hold no teeth. He concludes by mentioning a photo of Sen. Lindsay Graham cuddled with Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban and then PLAYS a minute long promotional message from AIPAC.
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Takes on the World: Christine Ahn on No. Korean-US Stand-Off, Segment 1 (Wed, 23 Aug 2017)
On the third day of joint US-So. Korean military exercises on North Korean border, activist, writer, and scholar Seoul-born Christine Ahn speaks about the necessity of securing a peace treaty between the two Koreas and the so far insurmountable obstacles to doing so, the most important of which is the client state relationship that South Korea has with Washington and how the US uses the conflict with the North in its efforts to counter China economically. She speaks about the difficulty the new So. Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has in standing up to Washington, given that the US would exert control over the South's army in any conflict with the North, although Moon has promised that there will be no war on the peninsula during his presidency. One of the problems, Ahn, notes, is determining exactly what is the Trump administration's position since while Sec of State Rex Tillerson tries to assure the world and Kim Jong-un that overthrowing his regime is not the US objective, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says publicly that it is. The ongoing exercises appear to substantiate Pompeo's goal since it includes preparation for regime decapitation. Ahn also takes the listener back to the earlier history of the South when it was dominated by US backed dictators while the North benefited from its trade with the East European Socialist Bloc during the Cold War up to the time of impeached president Park Geun-hye who created an extensive blacklist of political and artistic critics of her administration which included Ahn, herself, who tells about finding herself of Park Geun-hye's “no fly” list. Park Geun-hye, she notes, was ready to forgive Japan for its abuse of 200,000 Korean women who were forced into roles as “comfort women” for the Japanese army during its occupation and was ready, under pressure from Washington, to make South Korea part of a military alliance with Japan and the US, despite the unpopularity of Japan among the South Korean public. And much more.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: Ugly History of Korean War, Segment 1 (Wed, 23 Aug 2017)
This commentary begins with Steve Bannon being given the ax for the wrong reason by Trump, for stating that there is no military solution to US-Korea standoff and US should withdraw its troops in exchange for the verified freezing by North of its nuclear weapons program. The rest of the program explores the bloody history of what has been referred to as “the forgotten war” citing comments from US officials including Gen. Curtis Le May, Defense Secretary Robert Lovett, Dean Rusk, and rare description of the carnage by Gen. MacArthur, He concludes with quotes from pamphlet by British Official John Pratt showing that the South initiated the war.
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Takes on the World: Diana Johnstone: Sanctions, Washington's Insanity & Nukes, Segment 1 (Wed, 09 Aug 2017)
Diana Johnstone blasts the arrogance of the US Congress in approving veto proof sanctions against Russia as a way of getting at Trump and demonstrating their contempt for Washington's European allies, who will also be victimized by the sanctions, especially the Nordstream 2 gas project which would send cheap Russian gas to Germany and Western Europe, suggesting that Congress is representing the interests of US producers of more expensive, poor quality fracked gas from US. She notes that expansion of European Union to include a number of reactionary Eastern European states, largely to annoy Russia, has crippled it from acting in response to US sanctions because it can only make decisions when every country is in agreement, so they end up following the US lead/ Trying to establish good relations with Russia was the one thing Trump was doing right and that had to be stopped since Russia remains in the eyes of the military-industrial complex the essential enemy, regardless of the fact that it is now Christian, not communist in order to justify massive military spending. Johnstone sees much of the anti-Russian hysteria by liberals as reflecting their frustration in not getting Hillary Clinton elected president and will do anything to get him out of office. She points out their failure to care about the horrible record of Clinton in Libya, where she helped to destroy that country, which had enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa and her role in the coup in Honduras and her efforts to oust Assad in Syria. In discussion of role of the Russian annexation of Crimea which Obama used as justification for ordering a trillion dollar update of US nuclear weapons system and Congress as excuse for sanctions, Johnstone points out that the Crimeans’ decision to be part of Russia, although essential to Russia’s national security, was supported overwhelmingly by a democratic vote, which the West ignores as it has the US role in the coup that overthrew Yanukovych. She also expresses her admiration for Putin who has been the recipient of a train of abuse from the US and the West and has maintain his cool. She points out that that the East-West conflict is in Ukraine not about democracy, as the West likes to portray it. The “pro-West” part is not more “democratic” but more ultra-nationalist, with anti-Russian sentiment that has been encouraged for centuries by rival powers: Poland, Germany and now the United States. The Russian-speaking East is defending itself against such violent Russophobia. Johnston also points out that her late father, Paul Johnstone, had been part of the US national security structure that came up with the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD (See Program Notes) which kept the US, the USSR and China from waging nuclear war in the last century and expressed concern that there are those in Washington who now believe a nuclear war can be winnable, and suggests that contingency plans are being or have been made for a first strike on Russia although that does not mean it will be carried out. She is worried, however, that, unlike the last century when there were individuals in the government who would make sure a nuclear war would not start accidentally, there none in the government today.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op:Nagasaki, Hacking NOT, AIPAC, Segment 1 (Wed, 09 Aug 2017)
Blankfort notes that this is 72nd anniversary of Nagasaki bombing that he condemns as worst ever act of state terror coming as it did after Truman and military knew what happened at Hiroshima, that US viewed Japanese as subhuman as they later would Koreans and Vietnamese. He slams Obama for going to Hiroshima and not apologizing and even more for refusing to do so in Vietnam and Laos. He goes on to quote from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) memorandum proving that DNC files were not hacked but leaked, pointing out that this story has been suppressed by mainstream and alternative media. Re North Korea, he says that it is a good sign that two No. Korean generals responded to Trump and not Kim Jong-Un. He then attacks the New York Times for its 4000 word poorly sourced story claiming that Iran now controls Iraq and Syria and will also take over Afghanistan if US doesn't send in more troops. His good news is that NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has taken her name of AIPAC supported legislation that would have penalized supporters of BDS against Israel and quotes from AIPAC letter to voters attacking her. He concludes by playing clip of Sen, Lindsay Graham at Senate hearing on foreign agents registration asking if AIPAC should have to register as a foreign agent and gets mealy mouthed response from Justice Dept. rep.
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Takes on the World: Grant Smith on Foreign Agent AIPAC & the anti-BDS bills, Segment 1 (Wed, 26 Jul 2017)
In a dynamic interview, Grant Smith, referencing current Senate hearings on alleged Russian interference in US elections, says that whatever Russia did can't begin to be compared with Israel's history of meddling in US elections and its politics overall; that everything Russia has been accused of doing, including providing illegal funding, Israel has done, citing “stealth” PACS, called that because Israel is never in their name, that raise money and contribute to candidates solely on the basis of their support for Israel that is coordinated, in violation of the law by AIPAC, Israel's unregistered foreign agent in the US. Smith provides other key examples of illegal operations designed to benefit Israel, from providing funding to a handpicked candidate to siphon votes from serious opponent to a pro-Israel senator (Alan Cranston), to stealing trade secrets from US corporations that opposed the Israel-US Free Trade Agreement. He describes the last time the Senate held hearings involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, 1963, in which the American Zionist Council was found to be using money from the Jewish Agency in Israel to publish pro-Israel propaganda in the US. The AZC had been told to register with FARA in 1962 but had not responded. Following the hearings, Pres. Kennedy ordered the Justice Dept. to have the AZC register as a foreign agent which its lawyers were able to counter until JFK's assassination. It did cause the AZC, however, to take the name of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an existing but unincorporated subgroup. Smith then described his own efforts in 2009, representing Irmep, to pressure the FARA office at the Justice Dept, to force AIPAC to register, having brought more than 300 pages in declassified documents to make his case to the head of the FARA department and her staff but seemed to be overruled by another figure at the meeting who didn't identify himself, apparently a “minder” for AIPAC. Later in the interview, Smith acknowledges that having its lobbying groups able to function in the US without having to go through the hoops required of those who register as foreign agents was, perhaps, more important for Israel than possessing nuclear weapons Smith rejects the comparison frequently made that AIPAC is just another lobby, taking advantage of the US political system, and has just been very successful in doing so, like the National Rifle Assn., pointing that the latter lobbies on behalf of what it considers to be the rights of US citizens under the 2nd amendment while AIPAC pursues the interest of a foreign country to which it pressures members of Congress to pledge their loyalty. Regarding the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Smith suggests that more than a free speech issue, the legislation represents a dangerous attempt by AIPAC and its allies in Congress to insert the protection of Israel into critical laws involving US national security. He questions, in particular, the bill's invocation of the “International Emergency Powers Act,” as if to tell the American public that efforts to boycott Israel represent a national emergency for the United States. He then calls attention to Senator Ben Cardin, the bill's original sponsor in the Senate who has a long and inglorious record of putting Israel's interests first while in office. Following the money, Smith reveals the degree of funding that Cardin had received from pro-Israel PACs, NORPAC, and the Washington PAC that disguise their reasons for existence which is to fund candidates based exclusively on the their support for Israel. And there is MUCH MORE!
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: AIPAC, Trump v. Hezbollah, Gaza, Segment 1 (Wed, 26 Jul 2017)
On morning when Sen. Judicial Com. begins Foreign Agency Registration Act hearings on Russian agents working in the US, Blankfort reminds listeners of last FARA hearings held by Sen. JW Fulbright in 1963 that determined that the American Zionist Council that morphed into AIPAC was acting on behalf of Israel which led Pres. Kennedy to have the Justice Dept, order it to register as a foreign agent. The AZC's lawyers were able to block Justice's efforts to do so until assassination of JFK made the issue moot. Blankfort notes that had Grant Smith of IRMEP not wrote about the hearings they would have been a footnote in history since experts on Israel-Palestine like Noam Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis, never mention them. He then switches to the AIPAC crafted “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” as example of what not requiring Israel to register as a foreign agent has led to, the integration of Israel into a dominant insider position in America's political culture. Blankfort cites ACLU critique of House and Senate bills, claiming they are an attack on the First Amendment. He points as further proof, Congress's awarding Israel an additional $705 million in National Defense Authorization Act as if there was no separation between defense of Israel and the US. Blankfort then reports on Trump's attacks on Hezbollah in Tuesday's press conference with Lebanon PM Saaed Hariri, suggesting that it is a prelude to US or Israeli attack on Lebanon. He continues with report that cease fire agreement in Southwest Syria between Trump and Putin is holding and that Russia is setting up checkpoints around its perimeter and that Netanyahu is against it because it doesn't mention Iran or Hezbollah. He goes from there to situation at Al-Aqsa mosque and updates the refusal of Palestinians to accept security cameras that would identify those entering the area. He notes the violence on part of Israelis last week. Finally, he reports on Gaza, and cites Palestinian professor in Gaza, Haidar Eid and the Al-Shabaka Palestine Network website that condemn Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, and the PA for their role in creating Gaza's electricity crisis, designed to bring Hamas to its knees. Eid explains why a desperate Hamas felt pressed to turn for help to Egypt and ally itself with former Fatah security chief in Gaza and a known collaborator with the CIA and Shin Bet, Mohammad Dahlan, in responding to the PA.
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Takes on the World: Gareth Porter Shreds Liberals' Anti-Russian Hysteria, Segment 1 (Wed, 12 Jul 2017)
Jeff Blankfort speaks with Gareth Porter about the latest developments in the wave of anti-Russian hysteria that is being pushed by the Democrats and the liberal and much of the alternative media, notably Democracy Now! He compares frenzy over Trump Jr.'s emails and meeting with Russian lawyer to very different reaction to Clinton campaign getting dossier on Trump allegedly from sources in Russian government. He agrees with Blankfort that when it comes to Russia, the word “alleged” is no longer used to describe its activities. Porter reviews the coverage of the earlier emails of the Democratic National Committee and Campaign Chair John Podesta and then goes into the details of his latest Consortium News article, “Foisting Blame for Cyber-hacking on Russia” (July 2) in which he explodes the tale accepted by the media and members of Congress that the Russians were responsible for the hacking into the voter bases of 21 states, revealing that no evidence exists for its involvement and that this hacking that has been going back years has been done by people looking for personal information to sell to commercial parties. That the mainstream media has distorted the truth about this as it has the whole hacking story makes it, indeed, the enemy of the people. He does find hope in the fact that pressure from the voters kept Congress from approving a US attack on Syria under Obama and that ways must be found to expand upon that outside of the bounds of the Democrats such as Sanders who has chosen to endorse the Russia bashing while ignoring US wars in the Middle East.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op Ukraine Coup is Russiagate's Origins, Segment 1 (Wed, 12 Jul 2017)
Blankfort begins by charging Democrats and self-professed liberals with promoting anti-Russian hysteria, citing as examples MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Berkeley Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and NY Times's Charles Blow who are using firepower of Sen. Lindsay Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio to take Russia-Bashing to Cold War extremes. He notes that meeting with Putin was lose-lose for Trump but his suggesting an anti-cyber warfare alliance with Russia was naive and Blankfort cites comments from McCain, Graham and Dem. Rep, Adam Schiff making fun of it. Blankfort points out that latest frenzy about Trump Jr's emails and his and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort's meeting with Russian lawyer has overshadowed success, thus far, of cease-fire agreement with Trump over souhwest Syria about which today's NY Times mentions not a word. He then cites Robert Parry who compares the reaction to the Trump Jr.-Russian lawyer meeting with efforts of Clinton campaign to discredit Trump with material purchased from high level Russian government sources. Blankfort then recounts background of US orchestrated coup in Ukraine that the media now ignores, citing NY Times's David Sanger comment on Monday as example of cover-up, Recalls chronology of Clinton's hiring of neocon Victoria Nuland Kagan from Dick Cheney's office as press spokesperson and how, when Clinton departed, Obama made Nuland Dep. Sec of State for Europe and took on husband, Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, as foreign policy adviser, a position he had held for John McCain. He recalls role of PNAC neocons in producing Iraq war and then updates their status which left and liberal journalists continue to ignore. He ends program with latest example of Israeli sadism, the theft of more than 300 Euros worth of solar panels donated by the Dutch government to the Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank that the Arafat led PLO, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, effectively surrendered to Israel at Oslo.
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