The Power and Purpose of Freemasonry

By Eric Thomson (2002)

(compiled from two pieces)

Masonry was the first intelligence agency of the modern era. And it was an extrusion of the British Empire. Of this there is no doubt. The primary branches are the Scottish Rite (major) and York Rite (minor). The creator was John Dee. He was Queen Elizabeth’s court astronomer (astrologer), mathematician and European intelligence agent. He routinely signed his letters to her ‘007’. In his European travels Dee spent a lot of time with Rabbi Judah ben Lowe of Prague. As we study Masonry we see that it’s organized very similarly to the internationally dispersed yet defined Jewish communities.

The purpose of Masonry was to serve as a network of agents of influence and also to deliver trade intelligence. Just what the doctor ordered for a trading empire, ja? The ultimate in insider trading. In the Revolutionary Era it had a different common name. In America it was known as the “English Lodges”. This is what George Washington called it when a political scandal arose about his possible membership in it. The Americans of the Revolutionary Era were well-informed about this organization’s connections to the British Crown.

Masonry has a rigid territorial and hierarchical organization. The appearance of ‘irregularly constituted’ lodges, i.e. those not hooked into the network, is a constant concern to Masonry. This would not be a concern if this entity were only concerned with spreading its ostensible message of truth and brotherhood. A Masonic dismisses by rank, or degree. The lower rankers go out before the higher rankers, who stay a bit longer. In this we can see a perfect image of the CIA with its system of territorial sub-stations and compartmentalization. What we actually see in the CIA is an image of Masonry.

Dee’s real genius was in concealing the nature of this organization even from the vast majority of its membership. He did this with a smokescreen of religious and philosophical hooey. The overwhelming majority of Masons do not understand this aspect, nor do they ever advance beyond the 3d Degree, Master Mason. To them it’s a super back-scratching club. It’s ‘good for business’. Masons are sworn to brotherhood with each other, above their loyalties to the ‘profane ones’ of the community. That’s why Freddy the Master Mason has the badge on the back of his independent contractor’s truck. It’s ‘good for business’.

This is all bad enough, especially when local Freemason police warn their lodge brethren about an upcoming anti-pot operation and to keep their kids out of the way for a bit. Or when favoritism is shown in civil court proceedings. Or when the Lodge gets together to elect ‘their boy’ to the state house or senate.

The truly destructive aspect of this entity is when a total stranger appears in the community shaking the secret handshake. Masons are sworn to extend brotherhood to this unknown person with his unknown motives above their own neighbors and fellow local citizens. For a very long time, and probably now, British MI-6 maintained an operations section devoted exclusive to operating through ‘occult organizations’.

Now if patriotism and civic loyalty means anything in the real world, it starts next door and on your own street. Your community can have absolutely no Zionist Jews in it and you can still end up with all the effects.  That’s because you already have a nest of ‘mental Jews’ in it. No undemitted member of this entity has any place in our ranks.

My firsthand experience in Rhodesia put Freemasons at the forefront of the sellout of White interests. There were over 200 Freemasonic lodges in Bulawayo, Rhodesia’s second largest city, Salisbury (Harare) being the capital. The executives on Rhodesia Railways, for example, were all Freemasons, by their own admission. I worked in Railway Headquarters on my last civil service job in that unfortunate country. The entire White population of Rhodesia was under 250,000, so the percentage of Freemasons was high, indeed. The first hotel in Bulawayo was The Masonic Hotel.

In Mexico, I was informed by an attorney, who also ran for office as ruling party candidate, that all politicians had to be Freemasons to be elected. In Chile, 33° Freemason and Communist, President Allende, was supposedly killed by 33° Freemason and ‘fascist’ Pinochet in a coup d’etat. Argentina’s founders were Freemasons, several of whom were also jews, and the Argentine flag is replete with Freemasonic symbols.

While in Rhodesia, I met a former City of London policeman of the C.I.D., which would be a plainclothes detective in U.S. parlance. He’d had to resign because of a scandal involving City of London police who were members of a Freemasonic lodge which also included crooks as members, all of whom colluded in corruption, such as arranging burglaries and robberies for shares of loot. British writer, Knight, revealed this matter in his book on Freemasonry entitled “The Brotherhood”. After inviting Mr. Knight to testify at one of the Toronto thoughtcrime trials, as expert witness on Freemasons, I shortly learned that he’d died suddenly, at age 33. His successor went on to produce another book entitled “Inside the Brotherhood”, if I recall correctly.

Freemasonry wields lots of power and influence in countries of the ‘ former’ British Empire, including the U.S.A. and Canada. As a former member of the U.S. Forest Service, I was told that I must join The International Order of Foresters if I wanted to advance as a career Forest Service employee. The same applied to navigators in the U.S. merchant marine. In the Canadian Province of Ontario, I was reliably informed that no policeman can advance beyond the rank of sergeant, unless he joins the Freemasons. I know one good cop who refused, and he remains a sergeant. The courts are riddled with Freemasons and jews, so it is best to choose a female attorney, since they cannot be Freemasons. In my experience, they actually defended their clients in politically-charged cases, quite unlike the male attorneys who appeared all too co-operative with the Freemasonic prosecutors!

In the first Toronto thoughtcrime trial, Toronto policemen on active duty testified as expert witnesses on the subject of Freemasonry, and the judge upheld their refusal to answer questions put to them under cross-examination by Attorney Doug Christie. It was obvious that the Freemasonic oath took precedence over the oath stated by the testifying police officer “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, God!” The Freemasonic oath also took precedence over the oath to the queen. Thus, very little was learned about Freemasonry from the Freemasons’ “expert witness”, and the judge upheld his repeated refusals to answer questions on the topic. I began to feel as if the trial were being conducted in a lodge, rather than a public courtroom.

After World War II, the Norwegian patriot, Vidkun Quisling, was tried in the grand lodge in Oslo. The Freemasons won the war and the Norwegians lost, as was made very plain. Norway is no exception. Wherever Freemasons win, their country loses. Rhodesia’s demise was another Freemasonic ‘victory’. Freemasons are frontmen and minions of the ZOG.






“Why would a professor of Yiddish write about politics and power?” The question was posed on Tuesday night by Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz to Ruth Wisse, author of the best-selling book Jews and Power, the Hebrew edition of which should be released by the end of this year.

Wisse is a professor of Yiddish literature and of comparative literature at Harvard University, where Katz was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism in 2012-13. Wisse had been one of his teachers.

Wisse saw nothing unusual in the question.

“Yiddish forces you to think about Jewish politics,” she said at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai, citing how some 10 million people spoke Yiddish in 1939, and a short time afterward, “this world of Yiddish was extinguished.”

Wisse, 81, said she was greatly bothered growing up by the verse in the Passover Haggada that states: “In every generation they will rise up against us,” and she wondered why in all generations do people find Jews such a convenient political target.

She had never really found an answer.

“The puzzle is still with me,” she said.

What amazes her is that instead of being obsessed with this, the Jewish world simply accepts the recurring situation.

“We have not concentrated on politics,” she said. “How do Jews function politically in relation to other people?” The war against Jews, she said, is unilateral. “Most people think of warfare as a binary action.

There’s a winner and there’s a loser. Jews did not see war as a binary action. You were not defeated by Babylon, you did not meet God’s standards. They lost because they did not satisfy God’s requirements.”

In Wisse’s perception, “that makes you indestructible. You go into exile, but did Jews ever give up on returning to the Land of Israel?” she declared to a ripple of applause..

Other nations see Jews as a people that succeeds wherever it goes, she said. “It’s always entrepreneurial, but it never has the power to protect itself.”

Throughout history, she observed, Jews have been there to expel, to massacre and to expropriate from.

Wisse was critical of studies of antisemitism which, she said, are mostly statistics.

Although antisemitism stretches back to beyond the First Temple, Wisse said its modern form was created by emancipation, because Jews went into professions that were previously denied to them – and they excelled.

More than that, she noted, antisemitism has become a unifying political movement.

“All anti-liberal movements are attracted to antisemitism.”

Although fascism and communism are not doing too well on their own, what they have in common is antisemitism, which Wisse said is “the most powerful ideology of modern times.”

While she believes that the future of the State of Israel is in the hands of the citizens of Israel, she is convinced that neither Israel nor anyone else can solve the Arab problem. “The reason they’re against us is because they cannot accept the principle of coexistence,” she said.

When Katz tried to turn the conversation to American Jewry, Wisse said that “Israelis have come a long way. My worry is more for American Jewry.”

Then she paused for a moment and said that whatever his problems are at the moment, “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the leader of the free world.”

When the subject of BDS was raised by Katz, Wisse pointed out that it was nothing new.

“The boycott against Israel began in 1945. It’s one of the first things the Arab League adopted.” The idea at the time was to weaken Jewish industry in Palestine. Wisse is also convinced that the Arab world will never allow the Palestinians to have their own state – not that it would be very visible on the map if they did have a state.

Usually when speaking on this subject, she said, she has a large map of the Middle East on which one can hardly see Israel.

She did not have a very high opinion of Israel’s public diplomacy, which she said was always on the defense instead of being on the attack. In every synagogue, she said, there is a notice above the ark with the words “Know before whom you stand.” The same holds true when arguing with one’s enemies. “Know before whom you stand and attack, attack, attack.”

Asked about President Donald Trump, Wisse said she couldn’t comment because there had never been a president like him in the United States. When the election campaign first started and she and her husband and their Conservative friends sat around the Shabbat table evaluating candidates, “Trump’s name never came up – not even once.” All she would allow herself to say about the Trump administration was “I’m more optimistic than I would have been with Hillary Clinton.”

Despite Trump’s Unpopularity, Democrats Face Long Road Back Into Power

The political forecasting industry has turned into a seesaw over the Democrats’ future.

Nate Silver says Trump’s base has maxed out, lifting blue hopes. The Cook Report’s congressional editor David Wasserman counters that the GOP has locks on states, the House and Senate, deflating the prognosis. The Washington Post says not so fast, citing polls finding that Democrats are not losing any ground by embracing the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing, offering progressives new hope.

The forecasters and their data are not contradicting each other. They have different points of departure, big picture frames, fine-print arguments and historic contexts. But what is clear is that Democrats are in a very deep ditch, and while there are some signs of hope, their pathway back into national power is anything but assured.

The good news is pegged to the politics of the moment. As Silver observes, “Trump’s problem is that there aren’t many voters who could plausibly be persuaded to join the Trump train, at least not on short notice.” And no wonder! Beyond being endlessly offensive to blue America, he and Congress’ Republicans don’t know how to lead, coordinate and execute. Hence 58 percent of the country disapproves.

“It’s not like Republicans have begun impeachment proceedings or Sean Hannity has abandoned Trump,” Silver concludes. “But in his time as president so far, Trump has found more ways to lose supporters than to gain them.”

Silver’s pragmatism suggests Democrats have an opening. Indeed they do. The latest national poll by Quinnipiac University found, “if the 2018 Congressional elections were held today, voters say 52 – 38 percent, including 48 – 37 percent among independent voters, they would like the Democrats to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Indeed, a majority also wanted a Democratic Senate. “Voters say 53 – 39 percent, including 49 – 40 percent among independent voters, they would like to see the Democrats win control of the U.S. Senate,” Quinnipiac reported, saying the public believes that Democrats can do a better job on health care, concerns raised by the working class, and equal numbers believe each party can do a better job on taxes.

What’s the problem, then? These figures might reflect the nation’s voters as a whole, but they do not reflect the blue-red breakdowns among voters in state and federal electoral districts across the country. How steep a climb it is to actually win power is not conveyed in the latest emails and fundraising blasts from blue political committees aimed at party loyalists—such as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (state races) or Democratic Governor’s Association (which just launched UnrigTheMap.com).

How steep is the climb? Well, depending where you look—state legislative majorities, governors, control of the U.S. House and Senate—it sadly spans from bad to worse.

When it comes to statehouses, 32 of the 50 states have trifectas, where one party controls both state legislative chambers and the governor’s office. This is why it accurately feels like Americans live in two separate countries—because, politically, we do. Twenty-six of these monopoly states are red. (West Virginia’s governor left the Dems last week.) Six—Rhode Island, Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon and California—are blue.

These red-state legislators are the tribe who created the political maps in 2011 giving the GOP its lock on statehouses and the U.S. House for this decade, as well as launched the lawsuits challenging Obamacare, climate change, abortion rights, LGBT equality, etc. They are not going away. Instead, they define 2018’s and 2020’s political landscape.

Start with the governors, where West Virginia’s Jim Justice jumped ship last week.

“Democrats, who at the beginning of the Obama presidency held 28 governorships, have seen their ranks dwindle to just 15,” wrote the Washington Post’s Dan Balz after Justice flipped. “At some point over the past decade, according to the Republican Governors Association, there has been a Republican governor in 46 of the 50 states,” he said. “Eight years ago, Democrats held the upper hand, controlling 17 states to nine for the Republicans.” That loss of seats means no one vetoes bad right-wing bills.

When it comes to Congress, the task is more than daunting. Why? Because those extreme gerrymandered maps, created by GOP monopoly legislatures in 2011, erased competitive districts and gave the GOP roughly 20 seats more than fair-minded contests would have yielded. That’s according to new analyses—from the Associated Press(22 more seats) to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law (16-17 seats).

As redistricting expert David Daley recently told AlterNet about 2018, “I see a really tight map. Democrats need to take back 24 seats and my challenge to people who say the Democrats can take back the House is, name those districts. And you better name more than just 24 because you’re not going to win all of them. Where are the 60 districts that can be targeted, in order to have a fighting chance of taking back half of them?”

What people need to understand about redistricting is GOP mapmakers segregated each party’s reliable voters. As the Supreme Court’s spring 2017 ruling on North Carolina’s congressional gerrymander noted, that state’s Republicans routinely won House seats with 56 percent of the vote, compared to Democrats routinely getting about 70 percent. The GOP ‘cracked’ and ‘packed’ that state’s reliable voters to get this result.

For Democrats to get a numerical majority in gerrymandered districts, they typically need between 56-to-58 percent of their reliable voting base to turn out. The GOP’s starting line advantage is before other voter suppression tactics shave off an additional two-to-three percent from Democrats, such as enacting stricter ID laws to get a regular ballot.

This is the political reality that’s on the ground in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, which, were it not the case, would make the U.S. House blue.

This is where and how Democrats are stuck. Yes, it’s good news that Trump’s popularity keeps falling and 58 percent of the nation thinks ill of his performance. That’s because federal midterm elections tend to reflect the public’s feelings about the party in power, wrote David Cook of the The Cook Political Report.

“It’s fashionable these days to say that Democrats have to stand for something if they’re going to win a House majority and break even in the Senate,” he wrote. “Balderdash. I have never seen a party win a midterm [federal] election on the issues; midterms are always a referendum on the party in power.”

But Democrats face multiple layers of bad luck in Congress, as Cook’s colleague David Wasserman noted in another recent piece.

“Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points—a pretty good midterm by historical standards—they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats,” Wasserman wrote, citing the gerrymanders as setting the stage for the House races, and plain old bad luck for the Senate side of the story. (Senate races are statewide and thus not susceptible to gerrymanders.)

“Democrats have been cursed by a terrible Senate map in 2018: They must defend 25 of their 48 seats, while Republicans must defend just eight of their 52,” he wrote. The long-term prognosis for Democratic control of the Senate is also pretty bleak, he explained.

“In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York—states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin,” Wasserman wrote. “But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states—think ArkansasNorth and South DakotaIowaLouisianaMontana and West Virginia—that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.”

Where does this leave Democrats in mid-2017? Many in the national political press, from the Post’s Balz to NPR, are saying the Republicans “have never been so dominant—or vulnerable.”

That assessment is a bit fanciful. When you are this far down, there’s nowhere to go but up. Winning a few state legislative or congressional seats is not taking back majority power. Being a few points ahead of the GOP in recent national polls isn’t enough of an edge to overcome the GOP’s 10-point starting-line advantage conveyed by their gerrymanders and voter suppression tactics in what should otherwise be purple states.

The country’s political divisions are vast, deep, historic and daunting. In short, while Trump might be losing support and struggling to build a border wall, Democrats are struggling to tear down political wall and structural advantage created by GOP this decade.

“The United States has split into two political nations,” wrote Richard E. Cohen for the Cook Political Report’s upcoming new edition of its Almanac of American Politics. “In each of those distinct coalitions, the majority Republican or Democratic Party separately controls at least two-thirds of the presidential Electoral Votes, the seats in Congress, and the governorships. That leaves the balance of power with roughly 20 percent of the states and voters… [where] the nation’s political control is determined. For the foreseeable future, significant shifts in the overwhelming numbers on each side seem unlikely.”




Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

Sovereignty, Power and Money



By Eric Thomson (2001)

Meyer Amschel, the founder of the House of Rothschild, supposedly said, “Give me the power to coin and issue money and I care not who makes the laws!” When we gave the power to create money out of nothing to the jew-banksters of the Federal Reserve, we gave away our sovereignty. The fact that the jews are permitted to charge us interest on every dollar they allow us to print is monstrous in the annals of self-inflicted slavery. For the body politic, charging interest on our country’s currency is worse than an addiction, for a drug addict only pays for more of his drug. He does not pay more and more for the drugs he has already taken! Our addiction to credit, that is, borrowed money upon which interest is charged, is slavery, and like drug addiction, it is a form of slavery we have ourselves chosen.

“What is the difference between banking and counterfeiting?” I asked my economics professor, who was on the local Federal Reserve Board. He smiled and replied: “Bankers do not print money and counterfeiters do not charge interest.” “Banking sounds like a better racket than counterfeiting,” I commented. He just smiled and changed the subject.

Goods and services are what give value to money. Without productivity, money has no value, even if it be gold or silver. This truth is borne out by “Gold Rush prices” in California, such as $5 in gold for an egg, provided one was available. The misallocation of productivity into the acquisition of gold, silver and gems ruined the economies of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Spain’s most prosperous time, in terms of gold and silver was its worst time in terms of poverty and inflation. When diamonds were discovered in Brazil, the ruler of the Portuguese empire, the Marquis de Pombal, asked “What manner of wealth was this, which drew the peasant from the land, the artisan from the forge and impoverished the people?”

“Money is power,” said an Ostensible White. “And the power to create money is sovereignty,” I added. I added to that the fact that no people on earth, except the jews, have the power to create money out of nothing. Hence, only the jews are sovereign, for all states and peoples depend upon them for their money supply and all are exploited by usury, that is, interest owed on that money to the jew-banksters. By controlling the supply of money, the jews also dictate policy on such matters as wars, immigration, propaganda, economic activities and the operations of government. It is all so open and so simple that only the Gentiles do not see it. It took Dorothy’s little dog to unmask the Wizard of Oz. Does it take me, Eric Thomson, to point out the obvious?

Without productivity, money has no value and no power at all. Without producers, there is no productivity. The White people of the world have consented to give their sovereignty to the jew banksters and their Zionist lackeys. We have thus traded our birthright for a sham and slavery. The jews have no power of themselves, for they are vampires who do not produce, but exploit the producers. The question is, why do we let them? Without our power and our productivity, the ZOG is both impoverished and impotent. Our enemies are only as strong as we, by our own consent and efforts, choose to make them.

By taking back our sovereignty from these tyrants and tricksters, we shall be able to use our power and productivity on our behalf, not our enemies’. By so doing, the Aryan can cast off the invisible chains of Zionist slavery and take over the tiller of his own destiny. If, for example, a bankster were to foreclose on one’s house, one could deprive him of his ill-gotten gains by turning the house into ashes, but why do that when we have the power to turn the bankster into ashes? Those who do not resist the ZOG collectively must suffer individually.

Starved of power, Gaza’s Palestinians buckle under an oppressive heatwave

Sami, a medical intern, is struggling to sleep. The same heatwave scorching Israel is also roasting the Gaza Strip, where temperatures have been soaring to 37°C (98°F). The heat in his room is overpowering, and the mosquitoes don’t help either. But due to an ongoing electricity crisis, he can’t cool himself off, or even plug in the device that wards off the biting insects.

“Sometimes I go around flipping on different sides of my bed for an hour before I can fall asleep. It’s humiliating,” said Sami, who opted to use an alias for fear of retaliation from authorities in Gaza.

In a series of interviews with The Times of Israel, residents of the Strip described the debilitating effects of the power crisis. It dictates their routine. It turns basic goods, services and actions into luxuries. The normal strategies for cooling off in the summer heat — including showers, swimming, air conditioning and electric fans — have all but disappeared. Even drinking water is an increasingly rare commodity.

Depending on what neighborhood one lives in, say the interviewees, the average Gazan enjoys either 4 to 6 or 2 to 3 hours of electricity a day. Residents have no idea when the power will come on, so when it does, they have to drop what they are doing and rush to complete tasks that require electricity.

A picture taken on June 13, 2017, shows Palestinian children at home reading books by candle light due to electricity shortages in Gaza City. (AFP/ THOMAS COEX)

“When the power comes, for 2 to 3 hours, you run like a madman to manage to recharge everything, pump water, shower, sleep, work, get online, cool down and breathe, all in 2 hours,” said Ali, a 30-year-old journalist who did not want to use his real name for fear of backlash.

The power can come on in the middle of a workday, or late at night when everyone is sleeping.

During the current power crisis, Ali added, “cold water becomes a luxury, a wish, a dream, a desire. No power means no fridge, means no cold water.”

Khaled, a father of three and a humanitarian worker, who asked that his real name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the press, also complained about not being able to protect his family from the heat.

“My youngest child is 8-months-old. Last night, he couldn’t sleep, so we just kept fanning him. We used a piece of paper to fan his face, and the minute we stopped, he would wake up,” he said. “My wife goes to do the household things at odd times. You find her up very early in the morning turning on the washing machine because the power just came on. Her sleep schedule is entirely off.”

A Palestinian boy uses a plastic plate as a fan during a heatwave at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The residents of Gaza have suffered electricity woes ever since the terrorist group Hamas wrested control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority in a violent coup in 2007. Since then, and up until a few months ago, Gazans received power in eight-hour intervals — eight hours on and eight hours off. That was enough, they said, to sustain a semblance of normalcy and keep the Strip’s infrastructure running.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip, which Jerusalem says is needed to keep out weaponry and materials that could be used for terror activities or in fighting against Israel. The border authority allows in humanitarian goods and also gives some Gazans permits to enter Israel for medical care.

The current crisis began when the Strip’s only power station shut down in April due to a lack of fuel. Hamas refused to buy more diesel from the PA, which is controlled by the rival Fatah faction, complaining taxes on the fuel were too high.

The crisis deepened when the PA, which has been footing the bill for a portion of Gaza’s electricity that is provided by Israel, decided to cut the payments by 35 percent — part of a series of measures meant to force Hamas to cede control of the Strip.

At the behest of the PA, Israel has been gradually reducing power to the Strip. As of Sunday, Israel has cut its supply to Gaza from 120 megawatts to 80. It says it will ramp the flow back up as soon as someone pays the bill.

On June 21, Egypt stepped in and began exporting diesel fuel to Gaza. That allowed Gaza’s power plant to start working again, providing an output of 70 megawatts, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Energy and Natural resources Authority.

The Egyptian fuel, however, in addition only a temporary deal with Cairo, only serves to prevent all-out disaster. It doesn’t do much to lift power-starved Gazans out of their private suffering.

Suhair Zakkout, who works for the Red Cross, said the crisis can “really make every single minute of life a struggle.”

She described a case of a boy suffering from asthma who has to be rushed to the hospital up to five times a day.

When he’s hooked up to the nebulizer that helps him breathe, his mother “can easily” handle his care at home, Zakkout said. But without power, every time he has an attack they have to head to the hospital.

She also highlighted the fact that Gaza’s children, who are on summer vacation, have little to do with themselves. The beach is the usual summertime gathering spot, but now the authorities in Gaza have closed off large portions of it. Without electricity, the sewage treatment plants aren’t working properly, and raw waste is being pumped into the sea.

A Palestinian girl laughs while holding a jellyfish in one hand a block of foam in another, as she stands in the Mediterranean sea near al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 3, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

For three days last week, Gaza celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Adha, generally a time when families gather and exchange gifts. But with elevators out of commission, the elderly and disabled were unable to visit with families who live in high-rise apartments, Zakkout said.

She compared the lack of the electricity to being sick. “You only realize how important the antibiotic is when you don’t have it.”

“But” she added, “the doctors here are the politicians.”

Gaza is a ‘sinking boat,’ and water is ‘neck-high’

On Monday, the United Nations gathered diplomats in its Jerusalem offices. The international agency made a plea for $25.2 million to “to stabilize the spiraling humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip” caused by the power crisis.

In a document presented in the meeting, the UN pinpointed three sectors that are quickly crumbling without electricity: water/sanitation, health and food.

The document said water reaches homes for a few hours just every 3-5 days. Desalination plants are functioning at only 15% of their capacity and more than 108 million liters of untreated sewage is flowing everyday into the Mediterranean. Without access to clean water, the UN said, 1.45 million people in Gaza are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases due to the consumption of unsafe water.

1.45 million people in Gaza are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases

Guislain Defurne, head of the delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told The Times of Israel that “Gaza is like a sinking ship.”

“Water is reaching the neck of the passengers,” he said. “They can breathe, but water is still entering the ship. The people of Gaza can only be resilient for so long.”

The food industry is also being severely affected by the crisis.

Due the scarcity of water, irrigation costs are increasing 60 to 75 percent, Defurne said. Much food is also lost because refrigerating it is too expensive.

Supermarkets keep products fresh with the help of generators. But fueling the machines is expensive, and vendors are forced to raise their prices.

A Palestinian girl fills a jerrycan with water during a heatwave at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The UN said 1.2 million people in Gaza who were already facing food insecurity are now facing increased economic obstacles to eating.

As for who is responsible for the crisis, “most of the anger is directed at Hamas,” said Sami, the medical intern. He said the electricity crisis finds its way into nearly all conversations and that he hears “people repeatedly hating Hamas for this particular reason.”

Khaled, the humanitarian worker, said he understands the feeling of people in Israel who want to protect their children. But he argued Israeli policies were actually undermining their security.

Noting that around 50% of Gazans are under 18, he said, “What kind of generation in Gaza will Israel see in five or 10 years? Suffering from electricity cuts, from lack of water, from wars — the mindset of the youth will develop accordingly.

“People should be given their basic rights. I don’t see any link between Israel’s security and Gaza’s children not getting clean water. You have to break the cycle at some point,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment for this story. In the past Israeli authorities have argued that an internal Palestinian dispute between Hamas and the PA is behind the power crisis in Gaza, and that Israel is not a party to it. Both Israel and the PA charge that Hamas, which openly seeks the destruction of Israel, would have the money to supply Gaza’s power and water needs if it didn’t expend a large part of its resources on armament and preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state.





Power, for Vladimir Putin, has always been closely linked to terrorism. Back in 1999, as an unknown and untried prime minister, he first showed Russians his steely character after a series of unexplained bombings demolished four apartment buildings and killed more than 300 people. Putin, in his trademark brand of clipped tough-talk, announced that the those responsible would be “rubbed out, even if they’re in the outhouse,” and launched a renewed war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya. The resulting wave of approval, stoked by fear of terrorism, carried Putin to the presidency months later.

Eighteen years on and Putin has fulfilled his promise by rubbing out many thousands of extremists—with his army in Chechnya and all over the North Caucasus, via Federal Security Service assassins in Turkey and Yemen, and most recently from the air and by the hand of special forces in Syria. What’s more, he has expanded the definition of extremists to include not just Islamist militants but also Ukrainian filmmakers and gay activists who share digitally altered images of Putin in garish makeup on social media. Nonetheless, as the deadly bombing in St. Petersburg’s metro on April 2 showed, neither violence nor repression has put an end to terrorist attacks in Russia.

Post-Attack Playbook

Even as the 14 dead and at least 60 wounded were being stretchered out of the smoke-filled Technology Institute metro station and bomb disposal experts carefully defused an unexploded second device, the usual conspiracy theories began to circulate. Murderous jihadis, of course, were most people’s default assumption. The St. Petersburg news site Fontanka showed closed-circuit TV images of a bearded Muslim in a skull cap leaving the station, naming him as a prime suspect. He “looks like he stepped right out of a poster for…ISIS,” fulminated columnist Denis Korotkov. Ilyas Nikitin was indeed a Muslim from Bashkortostan—but also a law-abiding reserve army captain and Chechnya veteran on the Russian side. Hard-line patriots were quick to blame Ukrainians or supporters of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who brought some 60,000 protesters onto the streets of scores of Russian cities the previous weekend to protest against government sleaze. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, social media was buzzing with unsubstantiated theories that the bombing was a false-flag attack organized by the Russian state as a pretext for a renewed assault on Ukraine.

RELATED: What to know about Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s showdown with Medvedev

The Kremlin’s reaction was also one Russians have seen many times before. Putin appeared on television looking grim and promising a full investigation, as well as swift retribution for the guilty. Members of the Russian Duma railed against enemies inside and outside Russia. Large numbers of police with metal detectors and dogs appeared at stations, shopping malls and movie theaters across the country in a massive show of force to reassure the public. (There was a difference, though, from the response to the recent attacks in Europe—a glaring absence of international solidarity. No Russian flag was projected onto Berlin’s Reichstag, as Britain’s had been after an attack on Parliament in March. Tel Aviv was the only Western city to illuminate a public building in the Russian tricolor.)

Another part of the Kremlin’s post-attack playbook that was depressingly familiar was using the bombing as an excuse for a new round of crackdowns on dissent. Over the 18 years of Putin’s rule, every major terrorist outrage has been followed by a crackdown. In 2004, he scrapped direct elections of governors after Chechen militants massacred schoolchildren in Beslan; in 2010, after suicide attacks on the Moscow metro, he enacted legislation to control the internet; in 2013, when Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was bombed, he expanded the definition of extremism to include dissidents of every stripe, from environmentalists to historians.

04_21_Russia_03Police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Vladivostok, Russia, on March 26. Alexei Navalny’s March 26 anti-corruption protests were the largest anti-government rallies Russia has seen since 2011-2012.YURI MALTSEV/REUTERS

A day after the latest attack, Yury Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma’s Defense Committee, proposed a moratorium on public protests. Such a move is necessary for public safety, he said, because terrorists time their attacks to “significant events and significant dates…. We should refrain from holding any planned rallies, especially now.” At the same time, authorities announced a series of “anti-terror rallies” across Russia. (Shvytkin didn’t explain how these would be less of a target for terrorists than opposition marches.) A government source told the Kommersant newspaper that the organizers of the Kremlin-backed anti-terrorist marches would be giving “special attention” to cities that had a large turnout for Navalny’s anti-corruption protests on March 26, the largest anti-government rallies Russia has seen since 2011-2012. Another lawmaker, Vitaly Milonov, is introducing legislation that would criminalize online calls for unsanctioned demonstrations and require all social media users to register their passport data with the police.

“No measures can be called excessive if they protect the lives of Russian citizens,” a senior member of Russia’s National Guard, a 250,000-strong force created by Putin last year for internal security, tells Newsweek . (The source, a former member of the State Duma, was not authorized to speak on the record.) “We are facing the same threat from terror as the rest of the civilized world, yet when we take steps to fight it, we are criticized…. This is pure hypocrisy,” the source says. In March, the National Guard created a dedicated cyber division to monitor social network sites and comb the internet for “extremist content” posted online. And last July, Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin told journalists that an 86 percent rise in “online extremism” in the capital had been recorded—and that combating extremism would be the Moscow police’s “highest priority.”

It’s not clear how added vigilance of social networks could have stopped Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, the 22-year-old suicide bomber who attacked the St. Petersburg metro. Russian authorities had not identified him as a security risk, and his page on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, shows no obvious links to radical Islamism. The only violence depicted on his pages were videos about combat sports, such as street fighting and boxing, the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.

A native of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, Dzhalilov was one of the millions of gastarbeiters (guest workers) who have flooded into Russia from the former Soviet empire in search of work. By 2011, he was granted Russian citizenship and moved to St. Petersburg, where he worked in a sushi bar and as a car mechanic alongside his father, also a naturalized Russian. According to the National Guard source, Dzhalilov dropped off the grid in 2015 and apparently became radicalized, though investigators have not established where. One important clue lies in the bomb he detonated. Packed into an empty fire extinguisher, the device may have used homemade explosives based on ammonium nitrate, an ingredient used in industrial fertilizer. The bomb’s core had nails and coins taped around it. Authorities discovered and defused another bomb hidden in a black men’s bag under a bench in St. Petersburg’s Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station a few hours after the first. The devices “bear some similarities to devices used in Dagestan over the last five or six years,” says the source.

Connections to ISIS

Islamist rebels continue to fight Russian authorities in both Chechnya and neighboring Dagestan, despite the best efforts of Chechnya’s strongman president, Ramzan Kadyrov. He has won Putin’s support and lavish funding, and Kadyrov has been given a free hand to impose his brand of pro-Kremlin Sharia law by ruthlessly crushing insurgents, using methods that include, according to Human Rights Watch, torture and collective punishment of a suspect’s relatives. Nevertheless, as recently as March 24, six soldiers from the Russian National Guard were killed and three were injured during an overnight raid by authorities on the village of Stanitsa Naurskaya, on the northern edge of Chechnya.

The deeper problem for Russia is that the Islamists of the Caucasus are deeply entwined with the world’s most dangerous dynamo of terrorism, ISIS. Estimates of the numbers of Russian citizens fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq vary from 2,500 to 7,000, but it’s clear Russians are its largest non-Arab group of foreign fighters. Many were even helped by the Russian Federal Security Service to leave Russia and travel to Syria. A special report by Reutersin May 2016 revealed that authorities encouraged dozens of suspected Islamist militants to depart before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. “I was in hiding. I was part of an illegal armed group. I was armed,” Saadu Sharapudinov, one of six rebels identified in the investigation, told Reuters. He had been hiding in forests in the North Caucasus, he said, when FSB officers offered him immunity from prosecution, a new passport under a new name and a one-way plane ticket to Istanbul. Shortly after arriving in Turkey, Sharapudinov crossed into Syria and joined an Islamist group that would later pledge allegiance to the ISIS.

Exporting troublemakers worked in the short term. There were no attacks on the Sochi Olympics, despite it being just a few hours’ drive from Chechnya. And violence fell all over the troubled North Caucasus in the past few years. “The departure of Dagestani radicals in large numbers made the situation in the republic healthier,” Magomed Abdurashidov, of Dagestan’s anti-terrorist Commission of Makhachkala, told Reuters.

But the problem remained of what to do with these jihadis if and when they come home, now trained and battle-hardened by ISIS. Russian security officials frequently cite fighting terrorism as one of the main reasons for Putin’s decision to start bombing the forces in Syria fighting against President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015. “There are thousands of our citizens fighting there,” Nikolai Kovalev, head of the FSB from 1996 to 1998 and now a member of the Duma Security committee, told Newsweek in January. “It’s a matter of national security to make sure that they don’t bring that ideology back to Russia.” Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on the Former Soviet Union, agreed: “We remember how many radicals came to fight in Chechnya from the Middle East. The region is right next to Central Asia. That is our underbelly. We have to be in [Syria] in order to prevent the contagion of terrorism from spreading.”

Putin’s bombing campaign did kill ISIS militants. How many isn’t clear. Ashton Carter, then the U.S. secretary of defense, told NBC in January that Russia had done “virtually zero” against ISIS in Syria. Days after Russian bombers began their campaign in Syria, Wilayat Sinai, a new ISIS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that had been affiliated with Al-Qaeda, decided to attack a Russian target. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, emir of ISIS in Syria and the group’s official spokesman, released an audio message on October 13 urging Islamic youth everywhere to “ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims.” Wilayat Sinai was ready to answer the call. The group had infiltrated a recruit into Sharm el-Sheikh airport’s team of baggage handlers. In the early morning of October 31, 2015, the airport insider smuggled a soda can packed with explosives into the hold of a Russian charter plane bound for St. Petersburg, just below seats 31A and 30A, window seats occupied by 15-year-old Maria Ivleva and 77-year-old Natalia Bashakova. Twenty-two minutes after the Metrojet Airbus pushed back from its stand, the bomb detonated, killing all 224 on board. The Metrojet bombing remains ISIS’s deadliest attack to date.

04_21_Russia_02Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of the St. Petersburg metro explosion victims at Tekhnologichesky Institut station on April 3.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/TASS/GETTY

Other groups inside Russia also heeded Adnani’s call. In June 2015, Amir Khamzat, one of the most wanted Islamist rebels in the North Caucasus, defected from a group previously linked to Al-Qaeda and pledged loyalty to ISIS. Today, two main Islamist groups vie for control of Russia’s homegrown rebels: the Caucasus Emirate, which is affiliated with the Nusra Front, and the Caucasus Governorate, an ISIS affiliate under the control of Dagestani Rustam Asilderov, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Kadarskii. They are united by a shared hatred of two things, Shiites and Putin’s Russia.

Whether ISIS, via its affiliates in the Caucasus or elsewhere, was behind the St. Petersburg attack remains to be proved. According to Kommersant, the FSB had arrested and questioned a Russian man with ties to ISIS, after he returned home from fighting in Syria, and he warned of an impending attack. The man was “low in the organization’s hierarchy and did not have a complete picture of the situation,” according to Kommersant ’s “trusted security source,” so the FSB was unable to take more concrete action.

Propaganda Demonizes Dissidents

The key question is whether this is a one-off attack or the start of a major campaign against Russian targets. And would a sustained terrorist campaign undermine Putin’s regime or strengthen it?

Putin has proved his ability to withstand terrorism. After the Metrojet bombing—a massive attack that would have sparked a major political crisis for any Western leader—he used his well-honed propaganda machine to whip up more public support for his Syria campaign, in the guise of protecting Russians. Putin has maneuvered himself into a position where any threat to Russia—whether it’s sanctions following his annexation of Crimea or the St. Petersburg bombing—becomes just another argument for why Russia needs a strong leader. What’s more, it makes his critics, such as the thousands of young people who turned up to protest corruption in March, not just dissidents but dangerous traitors, criticizing the president when their country is under threat. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called on lawmakers to defend Russians against Navalny and his vocal anti-corruption campaigns, referring to him as “the voice of the Western security services.”

At the same time, Russia’s diplomats have used the attacks to move the international conversation away from Ukraine and Moscow’s alleged meddling in Western elections to the shared problem of terrorism. The St. Petersburg bombing illustrated “the importance of stepping up joint efforts to combat this evil,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists.

Putin’s reputation was built on being tough on terrorism. Over the years, says Brian Whitmore, author of Radio Free Europe’s influential blog The Power Vertical, “power has been consolidated, dissent has been suppressed—and terrorism has continued.” And throughout it all, Russians keep looking to the Kremlin for protection.

The Trump Administration Is Giving Cops Unprecedented Power

The Donald Trump administration is off to a rocky start, with multiple damaging reports emerging from the White House alleging disorganization, incompetence and infighting—but that hasn’t stopped the new president from making good on his pledges to the country’s police officers. By branding himself the law-and-order candidate who would use his bully pulpit to take down criminals and fight crime, Trump earned himself the support of several police groups, most notably the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, which boasts more than 330,000 members.

Trump has already met with several law enforcement groups to make it clear where his priorities lie. Recently, while speaking to the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association (and after whining about a federal judge ruling that blocked his Muslim ban), Trump launched into a speech about what he believes cops in this country care about: crime in cities populated with black people, Mexican drug cartels, undocumented immigrants, and his desire to build a wall along the Mexican border. During the speech he claimed that undocumented immigrants in gangs cause the problems in Chicago and that building a wall along our southern border would stop drugs from “pouring” into our country.

Two weeks after signing two orders on immigration, President Trump signed three orders on crime and law enforcement, including one that targeted transnational drug cartels. Although immigration and drug enforcement have their own federal agencies, many cops seemed eager to jump into the fray, setting the stage to begin rolling back modest gains made in holding police accountable.

One of President Trump’s first executive orders on immigration revived a program dubbed Secure Communities and promised to defund jurisdictions known as sanctuary cities that choose not to enforce federal immigration laws. (Notably, law enforcement officials would be exempt from losing funds.) Under Secure Communities, local authorities—like jail officials—would share fingerprints of the individuals arrested in their cities and towns with the FBI, who would then send the information along to the Department of Homeland Security to check if that person is eligible for deportation using Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s database. If ICE determines that the individual is eligible, the local authorities are instructed to hold that person in jail until ICE can transfer him or her to a detention center.

The federal government stated that the intent of the program was to target the most serious offenders, but the program was disbanded in 2014 after it led to widespread racial profiling of Latinos, arrests of people who committed low-level offenses, and people without criminal records. During the course of Secure Communities, multiple cities chose to opt out.

But despite widespread criticism of the program, some police officers are applauding its revival and the crackdown on sanctuary cities. The Fraternal Order of Police praised the administration’s actions, including the revocation of federal funds, alleging that communities are safer when local authorities comply with federal immigration officials.

While police unions appear eager to partner up with federal immigration officials, their relationship with the federal agency that handles investigations into police departments is much rockier. Ramping up Department of Justice investigations into police departments that violate the civil rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect is perhaps Obama’s greatest police reform achievement. Investigations usually end with court-ordered agreements dedicated to reform, sometimes called consent decrees. While these investigations are not a cure-all, it was a welcome change for many activists. But just days after the election, police departments started making noise about DOJ-mandated reforms.

The Cleveland Police Department entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice in 2015 after the DOJ issued a damning report on the police department the previous year; the head of the city’s police union, Steve Loomis, was not part of the agreement, but that hasn’t stopped him from inferring that Trump will help make changes to the consent decree. Loomis said that the Trump administration is “cognizant of the false narrative that’s out there and [will] be hesitant to make major decisions based on false narratives.” Days before the report was released, a white officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a park. No one was charged for his death.

But now the DOJ will be led by Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama attorney general and U.S. senator, who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge in 1986. The new attorney general voiced concerns about consent decrees at his Senate hearing for the position. Sessions seemed to play into the “few bad apples” rhetoric despite reports from Ferguson, Chicago and Baltimore pointing to the opposite. “These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers,” he said, “and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness.”

Since the inauguration, Americans across the country have taken to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s actions. While some law enforcement leaders want to see the Trump administration tackle mass incarceration and enhance community policing, many more cops are embracing the Trump era. The National Sheriffs’ Association and Major County Sheriffs’ Association released a joint statement after President Trump signed the three executive orders related to law enforcement. “We thank the President and welcome the nation’s re-awakening of support for law enforcement, the rule of law, and the need to protect our borders and enhance the nation’s criminal justice system.”

Cheering moves that enable cops to crack down on undocumented immigrants and alleged gang members but balking at the federal agency designed to rein in unaccountability signals deeper trouble up ahead.

Nathalie Baptiste is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. She is a former writing fellow at The American Prospect, has worked as a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and has written for Inter Press Service. Follow her on Twitter: @nhbaptiste

The New Censorship



Google, Inc., isn’t just the world’s biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world’s biggest censor.

The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.

When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment, victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed. Eventually, authorities will almost certainly have to step in, just as they did when credit bureaus were regulated in 1970. The alternative would be to allow a large corporation to wield an especially destructive kind of power that should be exercised with great restraint and should belong only to the public: the power to shame or exclude.

If Google were just another mom-and-pop shop with a sign saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” that would be one thing. But as the golden gateway to all knowledge, Google has rapidly become an essential in people’s lives – nearly as essential as air or water. We don’t let public utilities make arbitrary and secretive decisions about denying people services; we shouldn’t let Google do so either.


The New Too Big to Fail

Big social media companies like Facebook and Google have too much power to manipulate elections.

Let’s start with the most trivial blacklist and work our way up. I’ll save the biggest and baddest – one the public knows virtually nothing about but that gives Google an almost obscene amount of power over our economic well-being – until last.

1. The autocomplete blacklist. This is a list of words and phrases that are excluded from the autocomplete feature in Google’s search bar. The search bar instantly suggests multiple search options when you type words such as “democracy” or “watermelon,” but it freezes when you type profanities, and, at times, it has frozen when people typed words like “torrent,” “bisexual” and “penis.” At this writing, it’s freezing when I type “clitoris.” The autocomplete blacklist can also be used to protect or discredit political candidates. As recently reported, at the moment autocomplete shows you “Ted” (for former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz) when you type “lying,” but it will not show you “Hillary” when you type “crooked” – not even, on my computer, anyway, when you type “crooked hill.” (The nicknames for Clinton and Cruz coined by Donald Trump, of course.) If you add the “a,” so you’ve got “crooked hilla,” you get the very odd suggestion “crooked Hillary Bernie.” When you type “crooked” on Bing, “crooked Hillary” pops up instantly. Google’s list of forbidden terms varies by region and individual, so “clitoris” might work for you. (Can you resist checking?)

2. The Google Maps blacklist. This list is a little more creepy, and if you are concerned about your privacy, it might be a good list to be on. The cameras of Google Earth and Google Maps have photographed your home for all to see. If you don’t like that, “just move,” Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt said. Google also maintains a list of propertiesit either blacks out or blurs out in its images. Some are probably military installations, some the residences of wealthy people, and some – well, who knows? Martian pre-invasion enclaves? Google doesn’t say.

3. The YouTube blacklist. YouTube, which is owned by Google, allows users to flag inappropriate videos, at which point Google censors weigh in and sometimes remove them, but not, according to a recent report by Gizmodo, with any great consistency – except perhaps when it comes to politics. Consistent with the company’s strong and open support for liberal political candidates, Google employees seem far more apt to ban politically conservative videos than liberal ones. In December 2015, singer Susan Bartholomew sued YouTube for removing her openly pro-life music video, but I can find no instances of pro-choice music being removed. YouTube also sometimes acquiesces to the censorship demands of foreign governments. Most recently, in return for overturning a three-year ban on YouTube in Pakistan, it agreed to allow Pakistan’s government to determine which videos it can and cannot post.

4. The Google account blacklist. A couple of years ago, Google consolidated a number of its products – Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, YouTube, Google Wallet and others – so you can access all of them through your one Google account. If you somehow violate Google’s vague and intimidating terms of service agreement, you will join the ever-growing list of people who are shut out of their accounts, which means you’ll lose access to all of these interconnected products. Because virtually no one has ever read this lengthy, legalistic agreement, however, people are shocked when they’re shut out, in part because Google reserves the right to “stop providing Services to you … at any time.” And because Google, one of the largest and richest companies in the world, has no customer service department, getting reinstated can be difficult. (Given, however, that all of these services gather personal information about you to sell to advertisers, losing one’s Google account has been judged by some to be a blessing in disguise.)


No Likes for Facebook Manipulation

The social media giant isn’t a news site, but it still shouldn’t be messing with its trending topics.

5. The Google News blacklist. If a librarian were caught trashing all the liberal newspapers before people could read them, he or she might get in a heap o’ trouble. What happens when most of the librarians in the world have been replaced by a single company? Google is now the largest news aggregator in the world, tracking tens of thousands of news sources in more than thirty languages and recently adding thousands of small, local news sources to its inventory. It also selectively bans news sources as it pleases. In 2006, Google was accused of excluding conservative news sources that generated stories critical of Islam, and the company has also been accused of banning individual columnists and competing companies from its news feed. In December 2014, facing a new law in Spain that would have charged Google for scraping content from Spanish news sources (which, after all, have to pay to prepare their news), Google suddenly withdrew its news service from Spain, which led to an immediate drop in traffic to Spanish new stories. That drop in traffic is the problem: When a large aggregator bans you from its service, fewer people find your news stories, which means opinions will shift away from those you support. Selective blacklisting of news sources is a powerful way of promoting a political, religious or moral agenda, with no one the wiser.

6. The Google AdWords blacklist. Now things get creepier. More than 70 percent of Google’s $80 billion in annual revenue comes from its AdWords advertising service, which it implemented in 2000 by infringing on a similar system already patented by Overture Services. The way it works is simple: Businesses worldwide bid on the right to use certain keywords in short text ads that link to their websites (those text ads are the AdWords); when people click on the links, those businesses pay Google. These ads appear on Google.com and other Google websites and are also interwoven into the content of more than a million non-Google websites – Google’s “Display Network.” The problem here is that if a Google executive decides your business or industry doesn’t meet its moral standards, it bans you from AdWords; these days, with Google’s reach so large, that can quickly put you out of business. In 2011, Google blacklisted an Irish political group that defended sex workers but which did not provide them; after a protest, the company eventually backed down.

In May 2016, Google blacklisted an entire industry – companies providing high-interest “payday” loans. As always, the company billed this dramatic move as an exercise in social responsibility, failing to note that it is a major investor in LendUp.com, which is in the same industry; if Google fails to blacklist LendUp (it’s too early to tell), the industry ban might turn out to have been more of an anticompetitive move than one of conscience. That kind of hypocrisy has turned up before in AdWords activities. Whereas Google takes a moral stand, for example, in banning ads from companies promising quick weight loss, in 2011, Google forfeited a whopping $500 million to the U.S. Justice Department for having knowingly allowed Canadian drug companies to sell drugs illegally in the U.S. for years through the AdWords system, and several state attorneys general believe that Google has continued to engage in similar practices since 2011; investigations are ongoing.

7. The Google AdSense blacklist. If your website has been approved by AdWords, you are eligible to sign up for Google AdSense, a system in which Google places ads for various products and services on your website. When people click on those ads, Google pays you. If you are good at driving traffic to your website, you can make millions of dollars a year running AdSense ads – all without having any products or services of your own. Meanwhile, Google makes a net profit by charging the companies behind the ads for bringing them customers; this accounts for about 18 percent of Google’s income. Here, too, there is scandal: In April 2014, in two posts on PasteBin.com, someone claiming to be a former Google employee working in their AdSense department alleged the department engaged in a regular practice of dumping AdSense customers just before Google was scheduled to pay them. To this day, no one knows whether the person behind the posts was legit, but one thing is clear: Since that time, real lawsuits filed by real companies have, according to WebProNews, been “piling up” against Google, alleging the companies were unaccountably dumped at the last minute by AdSense just before large payments were due, in some cases payments as high as $500,000.


The Loan That’s Safe at Any Rate

It’s past time to eliminate interest rate caps on small-dollar installment loans.

8. The search engine blacklist. Google’s ubiquitous search engine has indeed become the gateway to virtually all information, handling 90 percent of search in most countries. It dominates search because its index is so large: Google indexes more than 45 billion web pages; its next-biggest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, indexes a mere 14 billion, which helps to explain the poor quality of Bing’s search results.

Google’s dominance in search is why businesses large and small live in constant “fear of Google,” as Mathias Dopfner, CEO of Axel Springer, the largest publishing conglomerate in Europe, put it in an open letter to Eric Schmidt in 2014. According to Dopfner, when Google made one of its frequent adjustments to its search algorithm, one of his company’s subsidiaries dropped dramatically in the search rankings and lost 70 percent of its traffic within a few days. Even worse than the vagaries of the adjustments, however, are the dire consequences that follow when Google employees somehow conclude you have violated their “guidelines”: You either get banished to the rarely visited Netherlands of search pages beyond the first page (90 percent of all clicks go to links on that first page) or completely removed from the index. In 2011, Google took a “manual action” of a “corrective” nature against retailer J.C. Penney – punishment for Penney’s alleged use of a legal SEO technique called “link building” that many companies employ to try to boost their rankings in Google’s search results. Penney was demoted 60 positions or more in the rankings.

Search ranking manipulations of this sort don’t just ruin businesses; they also affect people’s opinions, attitudes, beliefs and behavior, as my research on the Search Engine Manipulation Effect has demonstrated. Fortunately, definitive information about Google’s punishment programs is likely to turn up over the next year or two thanks to legal challenges the company is facing. In 2014, a Florida company called e-Ventures Worldwide filed a lawsuit against Google for “completely removing almost every website” associated with the company from its search rankings. When the company’s lawyers tried to get internal documents relevant to Google’s actions though typical litigation discovery procedures, Google refused to comply. In July 2015, a judge ruled that Google had to honor e-Ventures’ discovery requests, and that case is now moving forward. More significantly, in April 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the attorney general of Mississippi – supported in his efforts by the attorneys general of 40 other states – has the right to proceed with broad discovery requests in his own investigations into Google’s secretive and often arbitrary practices.

This brings me, at last, to the biggest and potentially most dangerous of Google’s blacklists – which Google’s calls its “quarantine” list.

9. The quarantine list. To get a sense of the scale of this list, I find it helpful to think about an old movie – the classic 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” which starred a huge metal robot named Gort. He had laser-weapon eyes, zapped terrified humans into oblivion and had the power to destroy the world. Klaatu, Gort’s alien master, was trying to deliver an important message to earthlings, but they kept shooting him before he could. Finally, to get the world’s attention, Klaatu demonstrated the enormous power of the alien races he represented by shutting down – at noon New York time – all of the electricity on earth for exactly 30 minutes. The earth stood still.

Substitute “ogle” for “rt,” and you get “Google,” which is every bit as powerful as Gort but with a much better public relations department – so good, in fact, that you are probably unaware that on Jan. 31, 2009, Google blocked access to virtually the entire internet. And, as if not to be outdone by a 1951 science fiction move, it did so for 40 minutes.

Impossible, you say. Why would do-no-evil Google do such an apocalyptic thing, and, for that matter, how, technically, could a single company block access to more than 100 million websites?


Court Upholds FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The rules aim to prevent internet providers from interfering with web traffic.

The answer has to do with the dark and murky world of website blacklists – ever-changing lists of websites that contain malicious software that might infect or damage people’s computers. There are many such lists – even tools, such as blacklistalert.org, that scan multiple blacklists to see if your IP address is on any of them. Some lists are kind of mickey-mouse – repositories where people submit the names or IP addresses of suspect sites. Others, usually maintained by security companies that help protect other companies, are more high-tech, relying on “crawlers” – computer programs that continuously comb the internet.

But the best and longest list of suspect websites is Google’s, launched in May 2007. Because Google is crawling the web more extensively than anyone else, it is also in the best position to find malicious websites. In 2012, Google acknowledged that each and every day it adds about 9,500 new websites to its quarantine list and displays malware warnings on the answers it gives to between 12 and 14 million search queries. It won’t reveal the exact number of websites on the list, but it is certainly in the millions on any given day.

In 2011, Google blocked an entire subdomain, co.cc, which alone contained 11 million websites, justifying its action by claiming that most of the websites in that domain appeared to be “spammy.” According to Matt Cutts, still the leader of Google’s web spam team, the company “reserves the right” to take such action when it deems it necessary. (The right? Who gave Google that right?)

And that’s nothing: According to The Guardian, on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at 2:40 pm GMT, Google blocked the entire internet for those impressive 40 minutes, supposedly, said the company, because of “human error” by its employees. It would have been 6:40 am in Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. Was this time chosen because it is one of the few hours of the week when all of the world’s stock markets are closed? Could this have been another of the many pranks for which Google employees are so famous? In 2008, Google invited the public to submit applications to join the “first permanent human colony on Mars.” Sorry, Marsophiles; it was just a prank.

When Google’s search engine shows you a search result for a site it has quarantined, you see warnings such as, “The site ahead contains malware” or “This site may harm your computer” on the search result. That’s useful information if that website actually contains malware, either because the website was set up by bad guys or because a legitimate site was infected with malware by hackers. But Google’s crawlers often make mistakes, blacklisting websites that have merely been “hijacked,” which means the website itself isn’t dangerous but merely that accessing it through the search engine will forward you to a malicious site. My own website, http://drrobertepstein.com, was hijacked in this way in early 2012. Accessing the website directly wasn’t dangerous, but trying to access it through the Google search engine forwarded users to a malicious website in Nigeria. When this happens, Google not only warns you about the infected website on its search engine (which makes sense), it also blocks you from accessing the website directly through multiple browsers – even non-Google browsers. (Hmm. Now that’s odd. I’ll get back to that point shortly.)


Who Watches the Data Mongers?

The recent revelation that Facebook ran creepy “emotional contagion” tests shouldn’t be a surprise.

The mistakes are just one problem. The bigger problem is that even though it takes only a fraction of a second for a crawler to list you, after your site has been cleaned up Google’s crawlers sometimes take days or even weeks to delist you – long enough to threaten the existence of some businesses. This is quite bizarre considering how rapidly automated online systems operate these days. Within seconds after you pay for a plane ticket online, your seat is booked, your credit card is charged, your receipt is displayed and a confirmation email shows up in your inbox – a complex series of events involving multiple computers controlled by at least three or four separate companies. But when you inform Google’s automated blacklist system that your website is now clean, you are simply advised to check back occasionally to see if any action has been taken. To get delisted after your website has been repaired, you either have to struggle with the company’s online Webmaster tools, which are far from friendly, or you have to hire a security expert to do so – typically for a fee ranging between $1,000 and $10,000. No expert, however, can speed up the mysterious delisting process; the best he or she can do is set it in motion.

So far, all I’ve told you is that Google’s crawlers scan the internet, sometimes find what appear to be suspect websites and put those websites on a quarantine list. That information is then conveyed to users through the search engine. So far so good, except of course for the mistakes and the delisting problem; one might even say that Google is performing a public service, which is how some people who are familiar with the quarantine list defend it. But I also mentioned that Google somehow blocks people from accessing websites directly through multiple browsers. How on earth could it do that? How could Google block you when you are trying to access a website using Safari, an Apple product, or Firefox, a browser maintained by Mozilla, the self-proclaimed “nonprofit defender of the free and open internet”?

The key here is browsers. No browser maker wants to send you to a malicious website, and because Google has the best blacklist, major browsers such as Safari and Firefox – and Chrome, of course, Google’s own browser, as well as browsers that load through Android, Google’s mobile operating system – check Google’s quarantine list before they send you to a website. (In November 2014, Mozilla announced it will no longer list Google as its default search engine, but it also disclosed that it will continue to rely on Google’s quarantine list to screen users’ search requests.)

If the site has been quarantined by Google, you see one of those big, scary images that say things like “Get me out of here!” or “Reported attack site!” At this point, given the default security settings on most browsers, most people will find it impossible to visit the site – but who would want to? If the site is not on Google’s quarantine list, you are sent on your way.

OK, that explains how Google blocks you even when you’re using a non-Google browser, but why do they block you? In other words, how does blocking you feed the ravenous advertising machine – the sine qua non of Google’s existence?

Have you figured it out yet? The scam is as simple as it is brilliant: When a browser queries Google’s quarantine list, it has just shared information with Google. With Chrome and Android, you are always giving up information to Google, but you are also doing so even if you are using non-Google browsers. That is where the money is – more information about search activity kindly provided by competing browser companies. How much information is shared will depend on the particular deal the browser company has with Google. In a maximum information deal, Google will learn the identity of the user; in a minimum information deal, Google will still learn which websites people want to visit – valuable data when one is in the business of ranking websites. Google can also charge fees for access to its quarantine list, of course, but that’s not where the real gold is.

Chrome, Android, Firefox and Safari currently carry about 92 percent of all browser trafficin the U.S. – 74 percent worldwide – and these numbers are increasing. As of this writing, that means Google is regularly collecting information through its quarantine list from more than 2.5 billion people. Given the recent pact between Microsoft and Google, in coming months we might learn that Microsoft – both to save money and to improve its services – has also started using Google’s quarantine list in place of its own much smaller list; this would further increase the volume of information Google is receiving.

To put this another way, Google has grown, and is still growing, on the backs of some of its competitors, with end users oblivious to Google’s antics – as usual. It is yet another example of what I have called “Google’s Dance” – the remarkable way in which Google puts a false and friendly public face on activities that serve only one purpose for the company: increasing profit. On the surface, Google’s quarantine list is yet another way Google helps us, free of charge, breeze through our day safe and well-informed. Beneath the surface, that list is yet another way Google accumulates more information about us to sell to advertisers.

You may disagree, but in my view Google’s blacklisting practices put the company into the role of thuggish internet cop – a role that was never authorized by any government, nonprofit organization or industry association. It is as if the biggest bully in town suddenly put on a badge and started patrolling, shuttering businesses as it pleased, while also secretly peeping into windows, taking photos and selling them to the highest bidder.


Your Phone Is Becoming More Powerful

Digital assistants soon will know everything about us. That could be both helpful and scary.

Consider: Heading into the holiday season in late 2013, an online handbag businesssuffered a 50 percent drop in business because of blacklisting. In 2009, it took an eco-friendly pest control company 60 days to leap the hurdles required to remove Google’s warnings, long enough to nearly go broke. And sometimes the blacklisting process appears to be personal: In May 2013, the highly opinionated PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak wondered “When Did Google Become the Internet Police?” after both his website and podcast site were blacklisted. He also ran into the delisting problem: “It’s funny,” he wrote, “how the site can be blacklisted in a millisecond by an analysis but I have to wait forever to get cleared by the same analysis doing the same scan. Why is that?”

Could Google really be arrogant enough to mess with a prominent journalist? According to CNN, in 2005 Google “blacklisted all CNET reporters for a year after the popular technology news website published personal information about one of Google’s founders” – Eric Schmidt – “in a story about growing privacy concerns.” The company declined to comment on CNN’s story.

Google’s mysterious and self-serving practice of blacklisting is one of many reasons Google should be regulated, just as phone companies and credit bureaus are. The E.U.’s recent antitrust actions against Google, the recently leaked FTC staff report about Google’s biased search rankings, President Obama’s call for regulating internet service providers – all have merit, but they overlook another danger. No one company, which is accountable to its shareholders but not to the general public, should have the power to instantly put another company out of business or block access to any website in the world. How frequently Google acts irresponsibly is beside the point; it has the ability to do so, which means that in a matter of seconds any of Google’s 37,000 employees with the right passwords or skills could laser a business or political candidate into oblivion or even freeze much of the world’s economy.

Some degree of censorship and blacklisting is probably necessary; I am not disputing that. But the suppression of information on the internet needs to be managed by, or at least subject to the regulations of, responsible public officials, with every aspect of their operations transparent to all.

Turkey PM says he’s quitting as Erdogan tightens grip

ANKARA (AFP) — Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was reportedly to quit his jobs of ruling party chief and head of government, in a dramatic turn of events Thursday that were set to boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power.

Divisions between Davutoglu and Erdogan that had been rumoured for months erupted into the open on Wednesday, with the two leaders holding crisis talks at the presidential palace that failed to resolve the conflict.

The central executive committee of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) met Thursday morning and agreed to convene an extraordinary party congress later this month, the NTV and CNN-Turk channels reported.

Davutoglu will not be a candidate for the party chairmanship at the congress, meaning that he will step down from both the posts of premier and party chief, the reports added.

According to the conventions of the AKP — a party co-founded by Erdogan to bring Islam into the mainstream of Turkey’s secular politics — the party chairman and head of government are the same person.

Davutoglu, who became premier in August 2014 when Erdogan moved from the premiership to the presidency, will make a highly-anticipated press statement after the meeting of the party committee, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

A planned visit this week by the premier to Bosnia has already been canceled, media reports said.

‘Palace coup’

“Davutoglu steps aside,” said the headline in the Hurriyet daily. “A new era in the AKP,” added the Milliyet newspaper.

“Palace Coup,” headlined the opposition Cumhuriyet daily. “The summit meeting did not find a solution and Erdogan put a full stop,” it added.

Turkish Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoglu arrives for an AKP group meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, May 3, 2016. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

The possibility of tumult at the top of Turkish politics unnerved financial markets, losing almost four percent in value against the dollar on Wednesday and rallying only slightly Thursday.

The appointment of a potentially more pliant prime minister would allow Erdogan to further consolidate his powers as he seeks to win backing for controversial constitutional changes to make Turkey a presidential system.

Since becoming president in August 2014 after over a decade as prime minister, Erdogan has sought to tighten his grip on the levers of power, leading critics to accuse him of authoritarianism.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, said the move was the next stage in a “hollowing out” of Turkish institutions by Erdogan who already controls the army and parliament.

“It shows how much power has been massed in one person’s hands,” he told AFP, adding that Erdogan was now exercising more control than anyone in Turkey’s modern democratic history.

The departure of Davutoglu “will allow Erdogan to distance himself from some of his failed policies that can be attributed to Davutoglu,” he added.

Leading potential successors if Davutoglu steps aside include the president’s longtime henchman, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim and the youthful Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, 38, who is married to the president’s eldest daughter Esra.

But press reports also suggested a less high-profile figure was possible, such as Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, or AKP deputy chairman Mehmet Ali Sahin.

“Whoever the new PM will be, it is clear that it will mean more power over the government by the president,” said Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC partners in Istanbul.

‘Presidential system begins’

Relations between Erdogan and Davutoglu had been seen by analysts as uneasy, but the speed with which it burst into the open took many by surprise.

The premier has championed a deal with the EU to stem the flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea — an issue in which the president has shown little interest.

Supporters of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) wave a giant Turkish flag as they celebrate in Istanbul after the first results in the country's general election on November 1, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE)

On Wednesday, the EU Commission announced it was recommending giving Turks visa-free travel as part of the deal, one of Ankara’s key demands.

Davutoglu has said there is no need for haste in Erdogan’s drive to create a presidential system in Turkey, a pet project of the president that risks diminishing Davutoglu’s own standing.

He has also clashed with Erdogan over whether journalists should be held in pre-trial detention.

A decision last week by the executive committee of the AKP to remove Davutoglu’s right to appoint regional party officials was also seen by commentators as a severe blow to the authority of the premier.

If Davutoglu quits, it would mean that Turkey is heading for a change of premier at a time when Ankara is battling Kurdish as well as Islamist militants as well as trying to implement its end of the EU migrant deal.

“Turkish politics is entering into a period where the presidential system has de facto started,” said Fuat Keyman, director of the Istanbul Policy Center think tank.

“Whoever becomes the new leader of the AKP and premier will have to accept the new nature of the system.”

The Rise of the Jewish Policy Elite: Meritocracy, Myth, and Power



by James Petras

MARCH 26, 2016
4,900 WORDS


Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court marks a continuation and deepening of the lopsided ethno-religious representation in the US judicial system. If Garland is appointed, Jewish justices will comprise 45% of the Court, even though they represent less than 2% of the overall population.

Roman Catholics comprise the other 55% of the Court – even though they represent approximately 30% of the population. Protestants (historically the authors and signers of the country’s foundational documents, and the major confessional group) are totally absent from this august body of jurists.

Equally important the increasing power of Jewish justices on the Supreme Court is accelerating: Counting Garland, two of the last three appointments (67%) have been Jews.

In the first half of the 20th century in the US, progressive Jews and civil libertarians decried what they termed WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) exclusivity, privilege and discrimination, citing their domination of the Supreme Court and their ‘over-representation’ throughout the elite centers of power. Having totally displaced and replaced the dreaded WASPS, there is nary a word from the plethora of civil rights groups and Jewish organizations claiming to be concerned with issues of discrimination and exclusion. Perhaps the marginalized WASP population lacks any qualified jurists among their scores of millions, an ethno-cultural degeneration unique in US history or perhaps the last few WASPs appointed to the Supreme Court turned out to be among the most ardent and independent defenders of citizen rights, to the chagrin of numerous Administrations.

Nevertheless, if a rare individual should dare to raise the issue of nepotism and the exercise of narrow political considerations in the choice of Supreme Court nominees, the factious response is that ‘it’s all about merit’. Meaning, among the thousands of WASP graduates of the top law schools with academic awards and publications in prestigious journals, no qualified candidate can be found to address this lack of representation.

But scholarship and originality may not be of much merit: A brief perusal of the legal publications of Elena Kagan and Merrick Garland reveals meager, mediocre and pedestrian articles and monographs. In the case of Kagan, her rise to power was facilitated by her relationship with the former (and heartily voted out of office) Harvard President ‘Larry’ Summers, who appointed her Dean of the Law School despite her lack of quality publications. Summers, as Harvard President, led a raucous and bullying campaign against any academic critics Israeli policies during his abruptly abbreviated tenure in office.

Clearly the problem of ethno-religious nepotism is not confined to Jews, it was an abuse practiced by WASP elites and others before them. Nor does such nepotism benefit the average wage and salaried Jews, who have to struggle side-by-side with their Gentile compatriots to make a living and exercise their rights.

However, nepotism or ethno-religious favoritism has become an acute problem now when exclusive control of the Supreme Court compounds the growing problems of abuse in other spheres of the power structure – political, economic and mass communications. This imbalance has profound repercussions on everything from US overseas wars of aggression to the everyday struggle of Americans faced with deepening inequalities and the shredding of the social contract.

Historically, and particularly among progressive and leftist critics, what was referred to as the “Jewish Problem” was a multifaceted issue that revolved around the persecution of resident Jews by anti-Semitic regimes and within Christian majority cultures. Various solutions included the granting of citizenship rights following the French Revolution, socio-cultural assimilation, the development of socialism or separation and re-settlement in Palestine through the Zionist movement. Today the major issue has turned into an ‘American Problem’: how a powerful ethno-religious elite can use its multi-faceted power to secure (and create) strategic positions in the state while excluding contenders, repressing critics and actively promoting policies in the interest of a foreign state, Israel.

Not all Jewish appointees and elected officials explicitly follow the extremist position of the most aggressive Zionist organizations, especially the self-styled ‘Presidents of the Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations’ . . . but… nor do they openly object to Israeli-First activities or try to block them – for fear of ostracism and retribution – with the calumny of ’self-hating Jew’ unlikely to promote one’s career or social life.

Chosen People: The Myth of Meritocracy and the Practice of Mediocracy

To deal with the rise of Israel-First individuals to positions of power in the US, it is essential to analyze the all-pervasive claims of meritocracy, the argument that their influence is based on their ‘universally acclaimed’ achievements, intelligence and superiority far beyond their elite rivals. The argument of ‘unique merit’ blends smoothly with traditional Talmudic and contemporary Israeli-chauvinist belief that Jews are ‘the Chosen People of God’, destined to prevail over the inferior ‘others’.

The meritocratic argument is partly based on circular arguments contending that the disproportionate number of Jewish billionaires means they are more brilliant in business; that pro-Israel dominance within the US corporate mass media proves that Jewish media moguls are smarter and Israel is a righteous state . . . and the rise of Israel-Firsters in government, academia and finance reflects their higher intelligence, greater work ethic and accomplishments.

It is with the latter that we have to deal, because the significance of higher grades, diplomas from prestigious universities and piles of academic awards has to be proven on the ground. It is not simply the achievement of high individual positions and great wealth that matter, but how the policies formulated and practices pursued by these elite individual have affected the lives of 330 million Americans, the nation, its prestige, welfare and moral authority.

If we use these alternative ‘evidence-based’ criteria, we find a huge disparity between high levels of academic achievement and disastrous performance when in public office.

We can cite the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan’s deregulatory policies, which led to the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression and his successor, Benjamin Bernanke, who presided over the trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street banks while millions of American’s lost their homes. Both attended elite institutions, both secured numerous prestigious awards . . . and both imposed disastrous policies on the American nation and people – with complete impunity for their monumental mistakes, while American workers continue to suffer.

Treasury Department

Stuart Levey was the first Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the US Treasury Department (a position created by AIPAC and tailored specifically for Levey). He graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude and magna cum laude. While Stu Levey was racing around the US and the rest of the world enforcing the economic sanctions against Iran (which he authored in line with Israeli directives), narco-terrorists from Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Peru were freely washing hundreds of billions of dollars a year in US banks. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian officials who funded jihadi terrorists were never prosecuted or sanctioned – even after attacks within the US.

Levey’s successor, David Cohen (who else!) followed the same policy. Multi-national banks and corporations, which had corrupted officials, swindled investors, evaded taxes and laundered illicit funds were never investigated, let alone charged. Cohen devoted his time and effort, at Israel’s behest, enforcing sanctions against Iran and endeavoring to sabotage any US-Iran nuclear negotiations.

Foreign Policy

From the Clinton era through the George W. Bush and Obama regimes, the US engaged in a series of wars against predominantly secular governments in Muslim countries, which had been opposed to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.

Key policymakers in the design and execution of US war policy were prominent Jews bristling with diplomas from the most prestigious universities.

These ’scholars’, the ‘cream’ of US academe, blatantly falsified the pretexts for the US’ disastrous thirteen-year war (and counting) in Iraq, the lost (15-plus year) war in Afghanistan, the invasion and destruction of Libya and Syria. Their brilliant plans have led directly to the rise of ISIS throughout the region and the displacement of tens of millions of civilians in the Middle East, West Asia and North Africa.

Due credit must be given to the midwives of the 21st Century wars of foreign conquest and domestic decay: Standing out among the principle architects of these foreign policy disasters is Elliott Abrams, BA and Doctor of Jurisprudence, Harvard University. Abrams had been officially censored for lying directly to the US Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. During that administration, Elliot directed US official support for the dictatorial regimes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras where over 250,000 Central American civilians were massacred. The new millennium wiped clean his tawdry slate of crimes against humanity and he was appointed a leading National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush 2002-2009. In this role, he fabricated ‘evidence’ linking the secular government of Iraq to the fundamentalist Al Qaeda and he served as a transmission belt channeling false Israeli ‘intelligence’ that Iraq possessed banned weapons of mass destruction. No weapons were ever found – a ‘mere detail of history’, according to his partner, Paul Wolfowitz. These blatant lies pushed to Bush Administration to invade and destroy Iraq.

While Elliot Abrams was strategically placed in the Bush/Cheney White House, his partners in deception, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith controlled Middle East policy at the Pentagon. This dream team of Abrams, Wolfowitz and Feith formed the powerful Israel-First Troika responsible for the military policies which systematically destroyed Iraq’s state apparatus, decimating its civil society, fragmenting the country and precipitating gruesome ethno-religious wars and the rise of ISIS. This ‘Troika’ has never been held responsible for the deaths of over one million Iraqis – but credit should be given to the ‘meritorious’.

Dr. Paul Wolfowitz received his BA from Cornell and PhD from the University of Chicago. In the 1980’s, early in his government career he temporarily lost security clearance for having passed confidential documents to Israeli agents. Despite this ‘youthful indiscretion’ (or act of treason), Wolfowitz became Deputy Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush (2001-2005). In this position, he was one of the earliest and most forceful advocates for military interventions against Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya. He persuaded the American Congress and the Bush Administration that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq would be short and self-financing. He glowingly predicted that the wars would ‘pay for themselves’ in terms of looted natural resources and ‘re-construction’ contracts. In fact, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost tens of thousands of US military casualties, over a trillion dollars in military expenditures and they continue over 13 years (Iraq), and 15 years (Afghanistan) with no end in sight but completely devastated societies spewing millions of refugees and thousands of terrorists.

Equally luminous in academic credentials, the third of the ‘Israel-First Troika’, Douglas Feith received his BA from Harvard (magna cum laude), and JD (magna cum laude). He worked closely with Israeli intelligence officials fabricating out of whole cloth the myth of Saddam’s quest for ‘yellow cake’ uranium to construct Iraqi nuclear weapons of mass destruction pushing the US into war against Iraq.

Feith set up a cozy nest at the Pentagon, the ‘Office of Special Plans’ (OSP), which served as a base of operations for Israeli operatives. One thoroughly disgusted former Pentagon official described the flow of Israeli officials in and out of OSP as resembling ‘a brothel on Saturday night’.

One of Feith’s crowning achievements was the destruction of the Iraqi Baath Party and administrative apparatus, which included the entire police force, the army and public administration, education, and even the huge public health system. Virtually all qualified Iraqi officials were either fired or ‘disappeared’. The result was the total breakdown of essential services, the pillage of the national and historic patrimony and decimation of civil and secular Iraqi society. Even the most fabulous archeological treasures of Mesopotamia were destroyed or looted for American and European collectors. Feith’s level of meddling and disastrous policies led the colorful US General Tommy Franks to describe the Harvard ‘JD’ as “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet”.

Hovering on the periphery of the ‘Troika’ was the ‘mysterious’, veteran manipulator, Richard Perle. With his BA from the University of Southern California and MA from Princeton (and no military experience), Perle was qualified to push for serial US wars on Israel’s behalf, starting with Iraq and moving on to all other countries which had traditionally supported the rights of the Palestinian people. He was a key member of the US Defense Policy Board under the Bush Administration and the front ideologue for invading Iraq. His second ‘job’ was strategic adviser to Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Benyamin Netanyahu. Perle pushed for US military intervention to effect ‘regime change’ in Syria and Iran as well as Libya.

Beyond the warrior ‘troika’ and shadowy Mr. Perle, there is Dr. Dennis Ross who received his BA and PhD from UCLA and taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Ross and fellow uber-Zionist, Martin Indyk, founded the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the most influential lobby on Middle East policy and a virtual ‘king-maker’ in Washington. He was President Bill Clinton’s ‘Middle East Coordinator’, ensuring that Israel’s land grabs in the occupied territories were unimpeded, and indeed justified and funded by the US taxpayer. His notoriety in promoting the brutal and illegal confiscation of Palestinian property earned him the title as ‘Israel’s lawyer’ even among his most pro-Israel colleagues.

Ross made sure that Israel would not be bound to the Camp David agreements even as President Clinton claimed the negotiations as his landmark achievement in diplomacy. AIPAC, under Ross and Indyk, lobbied long and hard for the US invasion of Iraq; it backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and justified the expansion of apartheid style ‘Jews only’ colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

During the Obama Presidency, Ross served as Special Adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. In this capacity, he actively opposed diplomatic negotiations with the government of Iran or the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Ross’ partner, Martin Indyk received his PhD from the Australian National University and served as Deputy Research Director and co-founder of AIPAC (1982-85). This, the most powerful lobby in Washington, serves exclusively as a political fifth column for the Israeli Foreign Office. Indyk was founding Director of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy (WINEP), a barnyard of ideological propagandists for Israel. When President Clinton appointed (the Australian, Israeli, US citizen) ‘Marty’ Indyk as US Ambassador to Israel, serious questions came up about his transfers of confidential documents to Israel. He thus became the first Ambassador stripped of security clearance. Israel Lobby pressures led to reinstated security clearance for Indyk who was subsequently named Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. As a mouthpiece for Israel’s interests, Indyk has pushed to ‘contain’ Iraq (through bombing) and Iran (through economic sanctions).

Throughout his career, Indyk sabotaged peace negotiation between Israel and Palestine and he undermined any early diplomatic resolution of the Iraq-US conflict, which might have prevented the disastrous war. His meddling on Israel’s behalf has cost the US treasury hundreds of billions of dollars in lost trade with Iran. Despite his clear record of ’service to Israel’ and ‘disservice to the US’, President Obama appointed Indyk as US (sic) Special Envoy for Israel-Palestine Negotiations (2013-2014). In this supposedly ‘diplomatic’ role he failed to protect even one acre of Palestinian farmland among the hundreds seized by Israel for the illegal establishment of many ‘Jews Only’ enclaves the occupied West Bank.

Economic Policy – More Mediocrity, Less Meritocracy

Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2016) heads an ethno-Chauvinist quintet dictating US foreign and domestic economic policy (with Michael Froman, Chief Trade Negotiator; ‘Penny’ Pritzer, Secretary of Commerce; Lawrence Summers, Director of National Economic Council and Janet Yellen, head of the Federal Reserve Bank). Lew pushed policies favoring the wealthiest 1% along with his co-religionist Michael Froman, while millions of Americans were plunged into poverty and stagnation. Their policies include Free Trade Agreements in Europe, Asia and Latin America which have led to the relocation of US MNC overseas, massive job losses at home, further deepening inequalities and degrading work conditions and wages. Recently, in his stellar public career, Jack Lew was investigated for lying to the US Congress about the national debt, the size and growth of which he deliberately understated. Thanks to his ‘backers’, he was never charged . . . Of course, Lew has his BA from Harvard and JD from Georgetown, which accounts for his success on behalf of the leisure class.

Penny Pritzer, Obama’s Secretary of Commerce (2013-2016) received her BA from Harvard and JD and MBA from Stanford. She is a Chicago billionaire, who served as National Financial Chairperson of for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and was National Chair of his 2012 campaign. Pritzer has been major player among prominent Chicago Jews ensuring that ‘their candidate’ Obama ‘got it right’ on US-Israel relations. Despite having been fined $460 million by the US Treasury Department for predatory banking (Pritzker’s, Superior Bank of Chicago had fleeced millions of poor and middle class household mortgage holders and investors of billions of dollars of their assets), a grateful Obama named Penny Pritzker as his Secretary of Commerce. She quickly teamed up with Froman and Lew in promoting the ‘free trade’ agreements that have thoroughly undermined US regulations protecting labor and the environment. Billionaire Pritzker and her partners have been fabulously successful in globalizing profits for the elite while ’socializing’ the cost of corporate flight abroad onto the backs of the US working and middle classes.

Dr. Michael Froman, Obama’s Chief Trade Negotiator, has a BA from Princeton, a JD from Harvard and PhD from Oxford. Prior to heading up Trade, Froman served under ‘Bill’ Clinton in Treasury and was a National Security adviser to President Obama. He actively pushed for the Obama’s program of expansive domestic police state surveillance. He is also the principal author and promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes eleven Pacific nations and is designed to marginalize and encircle China . . . This is a ‘trade’ partnership, which may jeopardize the profits of over 500 major US MNC with investments in China and the US multi-hundred-billion-dollar trade relation. Froman is one of the major architects of Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’, which has heightened military tensions and threatens the entire West Coast economies heavily dependent on China trade.

Not to be outdone by other luminaries in the ‘economic quintet’, Lawrence Summers had been President at Harvard University until he was booted out by a resounding “no confidence vote” by the faculty – despite the efforts of Zionist academics and trustees who stuck by their ‘golden boy’. Summers, along with co-religionist Alan Greenspan (it has been so hard to find any competent Gentiles to steer the US economy), was one of the prime authors of the deregulatory financial policies leading to the 2008-09 financial-economic crash. This crushing success caused double-digit unemployment, three million household foreclosures and forced a trillion dollar bank bailout down the gagging throats of the US taxpayers.

Summers led the charge on the successful repeal of the New Deal, Glass-Steagall Act, a venerable depression era legislation designed to prevent banks from speculating with their depositors’ savings – which the banks promptly did after the repeal.

As Under-Secretary of Treasury in 1993, Deputy-Secretary in 1995 and Treasury Secretary in 1999, the Harvard and MIT-diploma-laden Summers advised the vodka-soaked ‘experts’ around Boris Yeltsin to ‘privatize the Russian economy’ – resulting in the pillage by gangster-oligarchs of over $500 billion dollars in public properties, banks and natural resources and providing significant profits for a score of Harvard-based ‘advisers’.

As President of Harvard, he attributed the absence of women scholars in science, mathematics and engineering to their lack of ‘high-end’ intellectual capacity (ignoring centuries of ingrained discrimination) and he trivialized the academic work of Afro-American scholar, Cornel West, causing him to leave and join Princeton. His denigration of a major African-American scholar was in line with his views on Africa while at the World Bank where he advocated shipping toxic waste because, ‘I’ve always thought that the under-populated countries in Africa were vastly under-polluted.”

After alienating women and African Americans, Summers spearheaded a vitriolic attack on any and all campus critics of the state of Israel. He targeted student leaders of the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as ‘anti-Semites’ or ’self-hating Jews’, using the University Presidential bully platform to silence opponents of his pro-Israel politics. Eventually, he was ousted from office by an overwhelming faculty vote ostensibly for his financial ‘conflict of interests’ related to his Yeltsin-era dealings with mega-swindler Andrei Shleifer whose shady deals in Russia’s privatization orgy made some Harvard officials very wealthy.

Self-promoted, academic spokesman for the American worker, Robert Reich received his JD at Yale Law School and taught at Harvard. He served as Labor Secretary under Clinton (1993-97). During Reich’s tenure, labor union membership steeply declined, laws prohibiting worker organizing were tightened and the minimum wage became a minimum survival wage. Reich hung on to his Cabinet position even after the North American Free Trade for the Americas (NAFTA) was approved destroying over two million once secure American manufacturing jobs. He hung on as President Clinton carpet bombed the renowned worker self-managed factories of Yugoslavia. He kept his luxurious office in Washington after Clinton bombed Sudan’s principle factory for the production of vaccines and antibiotics leaving million of children and adults without basic vaccines and medicines. Reich kept ‘mum’ even as Haiti was invaded and a harsh neo-liberal anti-worker agenda was imposed to permit the democratically elected President Aristide to return to office.

While domestic inequalities deepened and economic deregulation extended, Reich remained in office. Reich ignored Israeli violence against Palestinian labor unions and workers, backing Clinton’s “carnal relation” with Tel Aviv.

After years of devastation against workers at home and abroad, Reich left Washington for a cushy $243,000-a-year appointment at UC Berkeley where he ‘teaches’ two hours a week assigning his own op-ed columns in the mass media as ‘reading material’. When not engaged in such strenuous scholarship, Reich has managed to churn out books ‘critical of neo-liberalism, inequality and social justice’. ‘Crying all the way to the bank’, this intellectual for the oppressed worker has to manage the $40,000 he is paid for each 45 minute speech on the lecture circuit. On an hourly basis, Reich earns 6 times more than the average US corporate CEOs he denounces.


From our discussion it is clear that there is a profound disparity between the stellar academic achievements of Israel-First officials in the US government and the disastrous consequences of their public policies in office.

The ethno-chauvinist claim of unique ‘merit’ to explain the overwhelming success of American Jews in public office and in other influential spheres is based on a superficial reputational analysis, bolstered on degrees from prestigious universities. But this reliance on reputation has not held up in terms of performance – the successful resolution of concrete problems and issues. Failures and disasters are not just ‘overlooked’; they are rewarded.

After examining the performance of top officials in foreign policy, we find that their ‘assumptions’ (often blatant manipulations and misrepresentations) about Iraq were completely wrong; their pursuit of war was disastrous and criminal; their ‘occupation blueprint’ led to prolonged conflict and the rise of terrorism; their pretext for war was a fabrication derived from their close ties to Israeli intelligence in opposition to the findings US intelligence. Their sanctions policy toward Iran has cost the US economy many billions while their pro-Israel policy cost the US Treasury (and taxpayers) over $110 billion over the last 30 years. Their one-sided ‘Israel-First’ policy has sabotaged any a ‘two-state’ resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and has left millions of Palestinians in abject misery. Meanwhile, the disproportionate number of high officials who have been accused of giving secret US documents to Israel (Wolfowitz, Feith, Indyke and Polland etc.) exposes what really constitutes the badge of “merit” in this critical area of US security policy.

The gulf between academic credentials and actual performance extends to economic policy. Neo-liberal policies favoring Wall Street speculators were adopted by such strategic policymakers as Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Lawrence Summers. Their ‘leadership’ rendered the country vulnerable to the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression with millions of Americans losing employment and homes. Despite their role in creating the conditions for the crisis, their ’solution’ compounded the disaster by transferring over a trillion dollars from the US Treasury to the investment banks, as a taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street. Under their economic leadership, class inequalities have deepened; the financial elite has grown many times richer. Meanwhile, wars in the Middle East have drained the US Treasury of funds, which should have been used to serve the social needs of Americans and finance an economic recovery program through massive domestic investments and repair of our collapsing infrastructure.

The trade policies under the leadership of this ‘meritocratic’ elite – formerly called the ‘Chosen People’ – have been an unmitigated disaster for the majority of industrial workers, resulting in huge trade deficits and the deskilling of low paid service employment – with profound implications for future generations of American workers. It is no longer a secret that an entire generation of working class Americans has descended into poverty with no prospects of escape – except through narcotics and other degradation. On the ‘flip side’ of the ‘winners and losers’, US finance capital has expanded overseas with acquisition and merger fees enriching the 0.1% and the meritocratic officials happily rotating from their Washington offices to Wall Street and back again.

If economic performance were to be measured in terms of the sustained growth, balanced budgets, reductions in inequalities and the creation of stable, well-paying jobs, the economic elite (despite their self-promoted merits) have been absolute failures.

However, if we adopt the alternative criteria for success, their performance looks pretty impressive: they bailed out their banking colleagues, implemented destructive ‘free’ trade agreements, and opened up overseas investments opportunities with higher rates of profits than might be made from investing in the domestic economy.

If we evaluate foreign policy ‘performance’ in terms of US political, economic and military interests, their policies have been costly in lives, financial losses and military defeats for the nation as a whole. They rate ’summa cum lousy’.

However if we consider their foreign policies in the alternative terms of Israel’s political, economic and military interests, they regain their ’summa cum laudes’! They have been well rewarded for their services: The war against Iraq destroyed an opponent of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The systematic destruction of the Iraqi civil society and state has eliminated any possibility of Iraq recovering as a modern secular, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state. Here, Israel made a major advance toward unopposed regional military dominance without losing a soldier or spending a shekel! The Iran sanctions authored and pushed by Levey and Cohen served to undermine another regional foe of Israeli land grabs in the West Bank even if it cost the US hundreds of billions in lost profits, markets and oil investments.

By re-setting the criteria for these officials, it is clear that their true academic ‘merit’ correlates with their success policies on behalf of the state Israel, regardless of how mediocre their performances have been for the United States as a state, nation and people. All this might raise questions about the nature of higher education and how performance is evaluated in terms of the larger spheres of the US economy, state and military.

What we suggest is that degrees from prestigious universities and the highest awards have prepared academic high achievers to serve the elites but not the workers; to empower the financiers but not the producers. These years of training and achievement have certainly not prevented destructive foreign loyalties from undermining the greater society, nor have they taught basic civic virtues and egalitarian values. Prestigious universities recruit and train graduates in the mold of the dominant elites and increasingly narrow ethno-classes. They purge, intimidate and marginalize effective critics of Wall Street and of the State of Israel – the two major success markers that derive from an increasingly insulated ethno-chauvinist power configuration. I would rather question if the disproportionate rise to the top of academia, government and finance hierarchies by pro-Israel Jews has less to do with their effective practical knowledge and democratic values and more to do with their affiliation with the political and economic power that revolves around ‘the 1%’ and is played out, first in academia and then in the larger political and economic spheres to the detriment of the vast majority.

Whatever intrinsic intelligence may exist can be blinded and distorted by an irrational doctrine of racial-ethnic superiority: the results have been stupid and destructive policies imposed by self-congratulatory, self-contained collectivities – with absolutely no accountability for their failures.


The prestigious degrees and awards may account for the appointments – but they don’t explain the complete absence of any evaluations, or firings or even punishment for failed policies. There have been no consequences for the authors of broken economies, impoverished workers, prolonged losing wars, lies and fabrications of data leading to war and the passing of confidential state documents. Why have they continued to receive promotions in the face of policy failures? Why the revolving doors of appointments to the World Bank, positions in the ‘best’ universities (to the exclusion of real independent scholars) and the lucrative seats in investment banks after their policies have shredded the domestic economy?

Don’t the deaths and maiming of millions of Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians and, Libyans and the tens of millions of desperate refugees, resulting from their foreign policies, warrant a pause in their continued hold on power and prestige, if not outright condemnation for crimes against humanity?