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.
Continue reading ““Pistachio Wars”: How the Resnicks’ Snack Food Fortune is Fueling the Assault on Iran”
Google, Facebook, and Twitter are removing social media accounts of real life Iranians who are falsely dubbed as “government trolls.” Student journalist Sayed Mousavi warns “this is just the tip of an iceberg.”
Under apparent government pressure, big tech corporations in the United States have tightened their social media grip, censoring accounts that criticize the US government and its allies.
Under the spell of Russiagate hysteria promoted incessantly by the US government and corporate media, social media accounts that were identified by shady private cybersecurity firms as supposed “Russian trolls” were targeted first. Then pro-Venezuelan government websites like the state-funded media outlet TeleSUR English and even the independent Venezuela Analysis had their Facebook pages temporarily removed.
Now Silicon Valley has set its sights on Iran. While the Donald Trump administration is banning Iranians from traveling and imposing suffocating sanctions on their country, Big Tech is banning them from using social media.
Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns Instagram), and Twitter have removed hundreds of Iranian social media accounts that have been accused — without any evidence — of being linked to the government in Tehran. These suspensions were based on a questionable, thinly sourced report by the American cybersecurity firm FireEye, which is led by former US military officers.
But contrary to what numerous corporate media reports are claiming, some of the Iranian accounts being banned are in fact not operated by the government. In fact, many are average Iranians whose opinions do not fit into the tightly managed, pro-war Washington consensus.
Continue reading “Big Tech Corporations Are Now Banning Iranian Social Media Accounts – A Censored Student Journalist Speaks out”
By Max Blumenthal
President Donald Trump’s unilateral exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) has triggered a frenzied push inside the administration to support color revolution-style regime change operations in Iran.
According to the neoconservative Free Beacon, National Security Director John Bolton has authorized the publication and distribution of an internal white paper urging “a strategy by which the Trump administration can actively work to assist an already aggravated Iranian public topple the hardline ruling regime through a democratization strategy that focuses on driving a deeper wedge between the Iranian people and the ruling regime.”
The white paper was produced by Jim Hanson, a self-proclaimed expert “practitioner of the art of war” who is virtually unknown in Washington. I know of Hanson primarily through his prolific presence on Twitter, where he operates under the handle, “Uncle Jimbo,” generally behaves like a far-right troll, and has eloquently branded me a “#JihaDbag.”
Hanson is the director of the Security Studies Group (SSG), a little-known think tank staffed by former employees of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. Like Gaffney, who has spilled gallons of ink trying to prove that Barack Obama was a Muslim, Hanson and his colleagues are fervent anti-Islam zealots who emerged from the fever swamps of right-wing online media, touting their military experience and mock scholarship to market themselves as counter-terror experts.
During the 2016 campaign, Hanson and his crew insinuated themselves into the campaign of Ted Cruz before moving into Trump’s orbit thanks to sponsorship from Steve Bannon and his alt-national security council, the Strategic Initiatives Group. Bannon was eventually removed from the White House under pressure from the national security establishment, but the subsequent replacement of H.R. McMaster with Bolton at the NSC has brought Hanson and his SSG back into the fray. The resurgence of these counter-terror cranks suggests that Trump’s Iran policy is heading towards a dangerous and very strange place.
Continue reading “Trump White House Reviewing Iran Regime Change Plan by Right-Wing Troll Jim “Uncle Jimbo” Hanson”
Donald Trump blamed al-Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden’s crimes on Tehran in his historic speech on the Iran nuclear deal, and the media missed these huge lies.
By Ben Norton / AlterNet
Donald Trump claimed during his campaign that he would change U.S. foreign policy, opportunistically condemning Hillary Clinton over her support for the “failed policy of … regime change.” Pundits predicted that Trump would usher in a new era. But as president, the far-right billionaire has doubled down on key elements of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy consensus, resulting in a dangerous escalation of the so-called War on Terror.
Trump has placed aggression against Iran and staunch support for the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Israel front and center. While previous administrations assumed a similar agenda in the Middle East, Trump has embraced anti-Iran fervor to an unprecedented degree.
Trump has gone so far in his anti-Iran fervor that he has wound up whitewashing the crimes of al-Qaeda, blaming Tehran for past attacks that had actually been overseen by Salafi-jihadist leader Osama bin Laden.
In his anti-Iran speech in October, Trump tried to pin al-Qaeda bombings on Tehran, using ambiguous rhetoric that is reminiscent of the language alleging Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Some media outlets that were critical of Trump’s speech and its many factual errors failed to draw attention to his whitewashing of al-Qaeda.
Continue reading “How Trump Blamed bin Laden’s Crimes on Iran to Stir War”
An ex-CIA analyst has raised suspicions about the Trump CIA’s release of bin Laden documents and apparent collaboration with the hard-right Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) to demonize Iran.
By Ben Norton / AlterNet
The Central Intelligence Agency appears to have collaborated with the neoconservative think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies to try to link Iran to the Salafi-jihadist group al-Qaeda.
Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman, has suggested that the move may be part of a wider campaign by the Trump administration’s new CIA director to establish “a rationale for regime change” in Tehran.
In the lead-up to the illegal 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the effort to link Baghdad to al-Qaeda was “a key element of the march to war,” Price explained, implying that the Trump administration might be doing something similar with Iran.
President Donald Trump has, since the beginning of his term, made aggressive opposition to Iran a key feature of his foreign policy. He has surrounded himself with anti-Iran hawks in the White House, and pledged to unilaterally “tear up” the nuclear deal agreed to by major world powers.
Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. proxy in the Middle East, has in recent weeks escalated its campaign against Iran. The Saudi monarchy pressured Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, and has been accused of holding him hostage. The kingdom then effectively declared war on Lebanon, in the name of countering Iran and its ally Hezbollah.
President Trump has praised Saudi Arabia’s belligerent intervention and foreign meddling, even while accusing Tehran of doing exactly what Riyadh is doing. The U.S. government is working very closely with the Saudi monarchy and Israel to, in Trump’s words, “counter the regime’s destabilizing activity.”
Continue reading “How Trump’s CIA Used Bin Laden Files and a Neocon Think Tank to Escalate Tensions With Iran”