A highly original documentary project reveals how a couple of Beverly Hills billionaires “are willing to risk war in Iran and the Middle East — all in order to boost and protect their lucrative pistachio business.”
By Max Blumenthal
Three years ago, journalist Yasha Levine and filmmaker Rowan Wernham first arrived at the vast pistachio plantation of Stewart and Lynda Resnick in California’s parched Central Valley. There, they saw firsthand how a billionaire power couple had successfully manipulated the state’s political system to privatize its water supply for their own financial benefit.
Today, the Wonderful Company farm owned by the Resnicks soaks up more water than the entire city of Los Angeles. Their business was based on “a heist of epic proportions,” according to Levine, that “will put family farms out of business, and push life in the biggest river estuary on the west coast of America towards mass extinction.”
The story eventually took Levine and Wernham far beyond the parched Central Valley, and into the heart of America’s Israel lobby. It turned out that the Resnicks had been pumping their money into some of the most militantly pro-Israel think tanks in Washington, including the American Jewish Committee and the Washington Institute on Near East Policy (WINEP). Both of these outfits have lobbied heavily for sanctions on Iran and against the Iran nuclear deal. One WINEP executive, Pat Clawson, has even called on the US to stage a false flag attack that could trigger a war with Iran.
Levine and Wernham recognized that the Resnicks’ support for the Israel lobby was all about protecting their monopoly from a nation traditionally recognized as the producer of the world’s best pistachios. The billionaire nut barons were not only threatening the environment and livelihoods of their local competitors, they were bankrolling forces determined to take America to war against a rising Middle Eastern power. This is why the title of Levine and Wernham’s work in progress, “Pistachio Wars,” is so apt.
Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world’s largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos.
Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas.
If there was any single event that captured Obama’s centrist, neoliberal capitalist politics, it was the former Democratic president’s oligarch lovefest in Houston on November 27.
At this sumptuous black-tie gala, Obama talked the 1,100 elite guests into raising a staggering $5.4 million, in just one night (at an average donation of nearly $5,000), for Rice University’s centrist, pro-corporate Baker Institute for Public Policy, the honorary chair of which is James Baker.
The Guardian continues its relentless campaign of demonization against Nicaragua’s elected government with a falsehood-filled cover-up for the Catholic church leaders under fire for leading a violent coup.
By Nan McCurdy, Nora McCurdy and Kevin Zeese
A note from Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance: The Guardian has been on a campaign of lies about Nicaragua. They have taken sides and are not honest reporters but advocates for the coup. Even though the falsity of their reporting has been repeatedly pointed out, they continue on their disgraceful campaign of reporting false stories on Nicaragua.
The article below focused on the church being a sanctuary for protesters and makes outlandish claims about incarceration of protesters. In fact, church leaders were part of the violent failed coup. A clandestine recording, described in the article below, of a Catholic bishop shows him claiming credit for the failed coup. The leaked audio recording of a meeting Silvio Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, is of a meeting held for the purpose of destabilizing the government of Nicaragua. The recordings show that Church leaders helped create the violent roadblocks, are plotting more violence and want Daniel Ortega executed. Báez, who has been unmasked as a principal conspirator in the violent coup attempt against the President Daniel Ortega’s government.
The Catholic Church has been denounced by Nicaraguans for their open complicity in the wave of violence that caused hundreds of deaths in Nicaragua. Members of the church have been denounced for their collaboration with the tortures and murders committed by the armed opposition “the Church was the center of torture,” says Madelein García, teleSUR correspondent in Nicaragua. In a video it is reported that Catholic Priest, Guillermo Barrios, helped torture Sandinista supporter, Sander Bonilla, in Leon.
Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly, under the nose of a shrugging law enforcement — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home.
Last month, an unsealed FBI indictment of four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) declared that the defendants had trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia officially incorporated into the country’s national guard. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
The indictment stated that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”
After a wave of racist violence across America that culminated in the massacre of twelve Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the revelation that violent white supremacists have been traveling abroad for training and ideological indoctrination with a well-armed neo-Nazi militia should cause extreme alarm.
Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home. But U.S. law enforcement has done nothing so far to restrict the flow of right-wing American extremists to Azov’s bases.
C14 is even more notorious than Azov. This Nazi gang has carried out a slew of violent attacks on ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities in Ukraine. C14, whose name is a direct reference to the white supremacist “14 words” slogan, has specifically targeted Roma communities in a series of pogroms — and has enjoyed the help of local cops.
C14 has also received funding from the Ukrainian government, in the form of a Ministry of Youth and Sport grant for “national-patriotic education projects.”
How some of the best known Syria regime-change hustlers and “experts” helped transform the @ShamiWitness account from a cretinous troll into a credible “ISIS expert.”
By Mark Ames
Who remembers @ShamiWitness? At the peak of ISIS’s power, @ShamiWitness stood out as the genocidal militia group’s “most influential Twitter account” according to a Channel 4 exposé and a Kings College report. The @ShamiWitness account was followed by some two-thirds of foreign jihadis. But it went further than propogandizing Islamic State’s massacres and rapes: @Shamiwitness also actively recruited foreign jihadis and helped lead them through the ratlines in Turkey, into the ISIS killing fields in Syria and Iraq, as a George Washington University reportrevealed this year.
But I want to talk about the western “experts” in Washington and London who cozied up to @ShamiWitness — especially since all of them are still around, many of them bigger and more influential in our political discourse than ever. They’re the ones who built up @ShamiWitness’s social media capital, making his account so popular, and so effective, in recruiting ISIS murderers. Some of the best known Syria regime-change hustlers and “experts”—Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and the Saudi-fundedAtlantic Council; Charles Lister of the Saudi-fundedMiddle East Institute, former CNN “Syria expert” and Atlantic Council fellow Michael Weiss, all major figures promoting today’s RussiaGate hysteria—together helped transform the @ShamiWitness account from a cretinous troll into a credible “ISIS expert”. They validated and lent credibility to ShamiWitness as someone with deep, local insider knowledge, boosting ShamiWitness’s social capital their countless retweets, #FF’s, #Pt’s, and their numerous public interactions.
As it turned out, @ShamiWitness was a fake “Syria expert”. The millennial yuppie who ran the ShamiWitness account was as much an insider expert on ISIS as the western Syria hacks who boosted him. It wasn’t the “experts” like Bellingcat who unmasked ShamiWitness — quite the opposite, Bellingcat’s team played a major role in building him up as a credible expert. Rather, it was a Channel 4 report exposing ShamiWitness as a fake — but a very dark and dangerous fake, with very real world consequences. @ShamiWitness was run by a 24-year-old Indian marketing executive named Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who tweeted out ISIS and Syria “expertise” from his bachelor pad in Bangalore, India.
And just like that, the London and Washington Syria regime-change neocons who’d been boosting @ShamiWitness suddenly looked like fools — as well as ISIS accessories. Contrary to what they had all assumed, @ShamiWitness wasn’t the expert Syria insider he pretended to be. He spoke no Arabic; he was nowhere near Syria.
As Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett sets out to Pittsburgh, prominent members of the governing Likud Party have blamed the Jewish victims of the neo-Nazi massacre “for causing anti-Semitism.”
By Max Blumenthal
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has embarked on a visit to Pittsburgh “to be with our sisters and brothers in their darkest hour,” he said, after an avowed anti-Semite massacred eleven Jewish worshippers at the city’s Tree of Life Synagogue.
Robert Bowers, the right-wing terrorist, targeted the progressive congregation on the basis of its partnership with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, a Jewish non-profit that helps refugees from conflict-torn regions obtain asylum in the US.
“HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people,” Bowers stated in a social media manifesto explaining his motives.
As Bennett departs for Pittsburgh, some members of Israel’s governing Likud Party have issued talking points and statements blaming the victims of the anti-Jewish mass murderer for inspiring the attack. One especially prominent Likud member has even echoed Bowers’ hate manifesto.
The text says it was made “for use on MK82” — a reference to the unguided Mark 82 bomb designed by US military contractor General Dynamics. The GBU-12, which is manufactured by both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, is based on the Mk 82, but is guided and has additional parts.
At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media.
By Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague
This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets maintained by American users. Among those wiped out in the coordinated purge were popular sites that scrutinized police brutality and U.S. interventionism, like The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block, along with the pages of journalists like Rachel Blevins.
Facebook claimed that these pages had “broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” However, sites like The Free Thought Project were verified by Facebook and widely recognized as legitimate sources of news and opinion. John Vibes, an independent reporter who contributed to Free Thought,accused Facebook of “favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices.”
In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.
“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO. “They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”
Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.
The hipster corporate media giant VICE did paid propaganda for Saudi Arabia, according to a British report on Saudi astroturf efforts.
Jim Waterson, the media editor for The Guardian, reported that VICE has worked with a soft-power arm of the Saudi royal family to generate public relations material for Saudi Arabia.
According to internal VICE sources contacted by The Guardian, the Brooklyn-based media company assembled a team to make pro-Saudi content in collaboration with the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), a regime mouthpiece that is closely linked to the royal family.