Senior French Intel: Head of Donetsk, Zakharchenko, Was Assassinated by Ukraine Intelligence, with Support from US, UK – by Mike Norman – 29 Sept 2018

“The CIA and Green Berets have the world’s most advanced booby traps, and the one in the “Separ” restaurant is a ‘signature’ British or American job.”


This article also appeared this morning on the excellent UK website Off-Guardian, but was taken down an hour later, presumably under pressure from UK authorities. The link to that posting is here:

Earlier this year, noted French counter-terrorism and personal security expert Captain Paul Barril was invited to visit the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The intention of the planned visit was to consult with the DPR’s Prime-Minister, Alexander Zakharchenko, on issues of protection and personal security. However, before the two men could meet, Mr Zakharchenko was assassinated with a bomb in the Separ cafe in Donetsk.

In this interview Capt. Barril makes some shocking revelations about his murder (translated from the French):

INTERVIEWER: Many thanks, Captain Barril for this opportunity. Could you first tell us a few words about your important public service for the French Republic? You were one of the co-founders of GIGN (the elite counter-terrorism unit of the French National Gendarmerie)?

CAPTAIN BARRIL (pictured above): Yes indeed, way back in the past, at the very beginning of it’s activity in the 1980s.

INT: You also worked for some French Presidents?

CB: Yes, I worked for President Giscard d’Estaing and President Mitterrand.

Alexander Zakharchenko

INT: This September you were going to meet Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, to share certain information with his protection service. Do you know (or have any idea) who killed him?!

CB: I know who killed Alexander Zakharchenko in Donetsk. This was done by the 3rd Special Operations Regiment of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. Training was provided by US instructors at the Khmelnitsky Training Centre, one of their bases in Ukraine.

It is important to understand the context. Donbass is a very sensitive zone, where NATO in engaged in a proxy war against Russia. Ukraine serves as a NATO stooge, but Donetsk is on Russia’s side. The Head of the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) Alexander Zakharchenko was pro-Moscow and Putin’s close supporter. You need to know that since 2014 various western intelligence services have been operating in Donbass. In April 2014 the CIA chief John Brennan came to Kiev using a fictitious name to give instructions (for Euromaidan). And now they have CIA instructors over there, Canadians too. They undertake specific action to crush the Donetsk Republic.

INT: Thus, you claim, Canadians, Americans and British are connected with the Ukrainian secret services – with the SBU & Ukraine’s Military Intelligence?

CB: All forces that oppose Russia are now present in Ukraine. Actually, by committing the murder of the Donetsk leader they struck a painful blow to Russia, albeit not directly.

The “Separ” cafe in the centre of Donetsk after the blast.

INT: How did they commit this murder?

CB: The murder was undertaken in the “Separ” cafe which is in a very well protected zone in the centre of Donetsk. They hid a tiny smart bomb above the entrance in the lobby, undetected by sniffer dogs. When the leader walked in, the bomb was activated from a long distance and exploded. The blast killed Alexander Zakharchenko and his bodyguard, critically injured a lady and left his deputy, Alexander Tashkent (who was a second target), badly burnt and shell-shocked.

The bomb was so “smart” and directional, these glasses at the bar remained intact.

INT: British and Americans, as a rule, use bombs to remove “objectionable” people?

CB: In recent history, during the war in Chechnya US instructors trained terrorists to mount explosives in lamp-post bases. They used the power supply network as an electro-detonator. When the Russian Army and tanks entered the road, the terrorists pushed the button. The explosions would strike Russian equipment and personnel within the radius of a few meters. That caught the Russians off-guard, because those hidden bombs are just not in Russia’s military “DNA”. But they are very much so in America’s.

The CIA and Green Berets have the world’s most advanced booby traps, and the one in the “Separ” restaurant is a “signature” British or American job.

Even Gaddafi’s explosives’ specialists were trained and armed by former CIA operatives. They helped them to disguise booby traps as lamps, alarm clocks, vases, radios and even ashtrays. So, those who installed the bomb in Donetsk were US-trained, these smart bombs are their signature.

Americans and Brits favour bombs when they want to kill somebody. Obviously, in this case, they also used a local mole who helped the group which actually set the booby trap. So, while France is working within the Normandy Four contact group trying to bring about an end to the civil war in Ukraine, the Anglo-American Deep State foments a new war there.

INT: Can you provide more details? Did you get this intel from your sources at DGSE (the French external intelligence agency)?

CB: Details are secret, I have said all that I can. But I am still going to Donetsk, where I’ll meet the new Head of the Republic, Mr. Denis Pushilin. We will share all information with Denis Pushilin.

INT: Thank you very much for inviting us, Captain Barril.


Original Link – Presumably taken down by UK secret police orders.


The Catholic Saint Who Was a Muslim Slayer – Saint Louis King of France

St Louis

(1243 – King Louis IX of France Ordered the Burning of 12,000 Jewish Talmuds)

Thirteenth Century Holy Warrior King Louis of France

In 1296 the deceased former head of the French state became a recognized saint of the Catholic Church. King Louis the Ninth said he was inspired in all of his actions as king by his Christian zeal.

He fought in wars against Islam, and he fought in France against blasphemy and Jewish people.  Blasphemy, doubting the teachings of the Catholic Church, was severely punished by Saint Louis government.  The punishments for those who thought differently from Saint Louis and the Church was mutilation of the tongue and lips.

Saint Louis opposed the payment of interest on money loans as something forbidden by the Bible.  He also outlawed gambling and prostitution.  He spent great sums of money for ‘relics’ of Christ and built a special church to hold them – the Sainte-Chapelle.

Saint Lois expanded the scope of the Religious Police, the Inquisition, to target Jewish people and ordered the burning of collections of Jewish books including The Talmud.

Saint Louis took up arms against Muslims to bring Christianity back to the Middle East and North Africa.  He died fighting against Islam in North Africa.

Much of what is known of Louis’s life comes from Jean de Joinville‘s famous Life of Saint Louis.  Joinville was a close friend, confidant, and counselor to the king, and also participated as a witness in the papal inquest into Louis’ life that ended with his canonization in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII.  The popes in Rome had encouraged holy wars against the Islamic empire in the Middle East and North Africa and King Louis heeded the call.

Saint l 11

Louis was born in 1214 to a Castilian mother and a Frankish father. Louis was 12 years old when his father died in 1226. He was crowned king within the month at Reims cathedral. Because of Louis’s youth, his mother, Blanche of Castile,  ruled France as regent during his minority.  His mother was a fanatical Christian.

King l 34

(Blanche of Castile.)

Louis’ mother had him trained him to be a ruthless leader and a intolerant Christian. She used to say:

I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should ever commit a mortal sin.

No date is known for the beginning of Louis’s personal rule. His contemporaries viewed his reign as co-rule between the king and his mother, though historians generally view the year 1234 as the year in which Louis began ruling personally, with his mother assuming a more advisory role.  She continued to have a strong influence on the king until her death in 1252.

King l 322

(Margaret of Provence)

In 1234, Louis married Margaret of Provence. The new queen’s religious zeal made her a well suited partner for the king. He enjoyed her company, and was pleased to show her the many public works he was making in Paris, both for its defense and for its health. They enjoyed riding together, reading, and listening to music. This attention raised a certain amount of jealousy in his mother, who tried to keep them apart as much as she could.  They had eleven children, five sons and six daughters. This line continued in power in France for five hundred years. In 1793, as the guillotine fell on King Louis XVI,  Abbe Edgeworth said: “Son of Saint Louis, ascend to Heaven!”

Saint Louis publicized his acts of charity.   Soldiers rounded up beggars who were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Filles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men, hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compiégne.[25]

St. Louis installed a group of the Trinitarian Order of Catholic clergy in his château of Fontainebleau. He chose Trinitarians as his chaplains, and was accompanied by them on his crusades. In his spiritual testament he wrote: “My dearest son, you should permit yourself to be tormented by every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a mortal sin.” Basically saying “Follow church rules.”  At the time the clergy were like a second government.

Saint Louis bought “the Crown of Thorns” supposedly worn by Jesus and other holy relics from the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. He sent two Dominican friars to bring these sacred objects to France, and, attended by an impressive train, he met them at Sens on their return. To house the relics, he built on the island in the Seine named for him, the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in existence. Since the French Revolution it stands empty of its treasure.

The Sainte Chapelle, a perfect example of the Rayonnant style of Gothic architecture, was erected as a shrine for the Crown of Thorns and a supposed fragment of the True Cross, phony relics of the time of Jesus.  Louis purchased these in 123941 from Emperor Baldwin II of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, for the exorbitant sum of 135,000 livres (the chapel, on the other hand, cost only 60,000 livres to build). This purchase should be understood in the context of the extreme religious fervor that existed in Europe in the 13th century. The purchase contributed greatly to reinforcing the central position of the king of France in western Christendom, as well as to increasing the renown of Paris, then the largest city of western Europe. During a time when cities and rulers vied for relics, trying to increase their reputation and fame, Louis IX had succeeded in securing the most prized of all relics in his capital. The purchase was thus not only an act of devotion, but also a political gesture: the French monarchy was trying to establish the kingdom of France as the “new Jerusalem.”

Saint Louis loved sermons, heard two Masses daily, and was surrounded, even while traveling, with priests chanting the hours. He was said to be most happy in the company of priests talking about the Christian religion and God.

King L 00

His friend and biographer, the Sieur de Joinville,  who accompanied him on his first crusade to the Holy Land, relates an anecdote to illustrate how religious the king was.

“What is God?”King Louis once asked him.

Joinville replied, “Sire, it is that which is so good that there can be nothing better.”

“Well,” said the King, “now tell me, would You rather be a leper or commit a mortal sin?”

The spectacle of the wretched lepers who wandered along the highways of medieval Europe might well have prompted a sensitive conscience to ask such a question.

“I would rather commit thirty mortal sins,” answered Joinville, in all candor, “than be a leper.”

Louis expostulated with him earnestly for making such a reply.

“When a man dies,” he said, “he is healed of leprosy in his body; but when a man who has committed a mortal sin dies he cannot know of a certainty that he has in his lifetime repented in such sort that God has forgiven him; wherefore he must stand in great fear lest that leprosy of sin last as long as God is in Paradise.”[1]

The Saint Burned Jewish Books

In 1243, in Paris, at the urging of Pope Gregory IX, Saint Louis ordered the burning  of some 12,000 manuscript copies of the Talmud and other Jewish books. 

In the 1230s, Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, translated the Talmud, the collection of Jewish writings on religion and the Jewish faith.

Donin then pressed 35 charges of anti-Christian hate speech in the Talmud to Pope Gregory IX by quoting a series of detailed anti-Christian passages about Jesus, Mary or Christianity.

King L 0323

(Pope Gregory IX )

There is a Talmudic passage, for example, where Jesus of Nazareth is sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity. Donin also pointed out passages of the Talmud that permits Jews to kill non-Jews, because non-Jews are not fully human in God’s eyes. Gentiles were put on Earth to serve Jewish people according to several sections of the Talmud.

The Catholic Church encouraged Jewish people to convert to Christianity and rewarded intellectuals who became Christians and helped campaign against Judaism.  Donin was very ambitious and had visions of rising high in the Church. Convincing the authorities that he could prove Christianity was God’s successor to the Old Testament and ancient Jewish beliefs through the most authoritative books unique to the Jews was a sure path up the ladder to success in the Church for a Jewish convert. By winning such an argument, all the Jews would convert it was believed.  Donin hoped to use a close reading of the Talmud to show the superiority of Christ and the Church.  Jesus was the Messiah the Torah had foretold, according to Donin.

This led to the Disputation of Paris, which took place in 1240 at the court of Saint Louis, where rabbi Yechiel of Paris defended the Talmud against the accusations of the Christian convert Nicholas Donin.  Rabbeinu Yechiel made such a skillful defense that the king agreed that it was true that one could not prove Christianity through the Talmud.  The Talmud is a confusing maze of commentary by many authors with no defining thread or consistent narrative.  Nevertheless, Donin said that the Talmud was an insult to the Christianity.  Sections of the Talmud denounced Jesus Christ as a false teacher and not the Messiah his followers believed he was.

Therefore, in 1243, King Louis IX ordered the burning of 24 cartloads of priceless Hebrew manuscripts.  In the Middle Ages each book to be hand-written. The Talmud alone is, in the modern printed format, about 2,300 pages.  Scribes of that time wrote using quill pens and manufactured ink on parchment (or vellum paper that then began to be produced). The pure physical labor of sitting and writing that volume of words alone boggles the mind. The 24 cartloads amounted to some 12,000 volumes. Louis had all the copies of the Talmud he could get his hand on collected and burned them publicly

Jewish people were targeted in other ways.  When Saint Louis wanted to finance holy wars against Islam he confiscated money from anyone who loaned money with interest payments – the Jewish money lenders had their assets  seized and Jewish money lenders were then expelled from the country.  Saint Louis also ordered that all Jewish people must wear a patch of cloth on their outer clothes so that everyone in public would know they were Jewish.  Louis IX, on the other hand, was single-minded in his efforts to induce the Jews to convert.   The Jewish community in France took long to recovered after the oppression of Saint Louis. France never again became the great seat of learning or even the great seat of Jewish tradition as it was in the 11th through 13th centuries.

“Even today, the majority of Jews in France are Sephardic Jews who came from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco within the last century. It is not a scholarly or a particularly strong Jewish community. It certainly never again looked like Rashi’s community, after Saint Louis religious police burned the Talmud.”

Many European Christian countries required Jewish people to wear particular hats, or particular pieces of clothing.  The Catholic Church wanted Jewish people to be identifiable.  The rules were varied from place to place and sometimes not strictly enforced.  But Saint Louis changed that in France.  On June 19, 1269 Louis IX issued a general edict for the whole of France that Jewish people must wear a cloth circular badge on the breast above the heart.

Saint Louis 00

(Medieval Jewish Clothing)

This edict was endorsed by the Church councils of Pont-Audemer (1279), and Nîmes (1284).  Some regulations also required that a second sign should be worn on the back. At times, it was placed on the Jewish person’s hat, or at the level of the belt. The badge was yellow in color, or of two shades, white and red. Wearing it was compulsory from the age of thirteen, according to some authorities.  Saint Louis ordered that any Jew found without the badge had to give his clothes to the person who had denounced the Jewish person.  In cases of a second offense a severe fine was imposed.  Saint Louis received government funds each year as his tax collectors went to Jewish communities to sell the state issued badges every adult Jewish person had to wear.

(The Jewish Badge Required by Saint Louis IX)

Saint Louis 01

Holy Warrior Saint

In the south of France a religiously independent movement was crushed by a Crusade when Saint Louis was fifteen years old while his mother was the effective ruler of the country.

Saint Louis alb

The Albigensian Crusade taught Saint Louis that religious differences where settled by warfare.   Religious opponents of the king could be attacked and killed and their property taken.

Saint l 2

Saint Louis took up arms against Islam during two crusades, in his mid-30s in 1248 (Seventh Crusade), and then again in his mid-50s in 1270 (Eighth Crusade).

In 1248 Louis assembled forces for an attack on the Islamic Middle East.  For six years he was in Egypt.  After crossing the Mediterranean the Christian invaders captured the port of Damietta, Egypt in 1249.  The Islamic defenders had simply retreated with out putting up a fight for the small port on one of the many outlets of the Nile to the Mediterranean.  The French invaders did not know much about Egypt or how to deal with the hot climate and local environment.  The upper class knights and lords and barons were used to pushing around unarmed peasants and had difficulty in the rough life of a military camp in a strange land.  The religiously trained leaders had no ideas about basic sanitation or what microorganisms might be in the local water.  Soldiers began to get sick with diseases that were not common in the colder climate of Europe.

Saint L 00w

Saint Louis IX thought that he could capture the Egyptian capital city of Cairo.  Egypt was a populous Islamic state and capturing the country for Christianity would provide an opening to taking Jerusalem and the Holy Land of Christ’s time.  The local Egyptian Muslim ruler was sick and dying and other Islamic powers were facing the Mongols coming from the east toward Baghdad.  The Egyptian ruler died and his wife became effective queen and organized effective defenses against the crusader army.  The Nile waters were rising and Louis forces simply did not know how to operate on the terrain.

Saint l 0234

The Battle of Al Mansurah was fought from February 8 to February 11, 1250, between Crusaders led by Louis IX, King of France against the local Muslim forces of Egypt.  The Crusaders advanced into a town that had emptied and found themselves trapped inside by Egyptian fighters.  Numerous soldiers died including leading knights.  The crusaders eventually made a retreat back towards their base on the shore.

Egyptians had transported light ships overland and blocked the Crusaders from reinforcements or effective retreat.  Egyptians employed the burning chemical weapon called ‘Greek fire’ to burn Crusader ships.  The invaders supply ships were captured. The Crusaders fought their way back toward their base with heavy losses.  The besieged Crusaders soon began suffering from famine and disease. Some Crusaders surrendered to the Muslim forces and faced a life of slavery.

Despite being overwhelmed and ultimately defeated, King Louis IX tried to negotiate with the Egyptians, offering the surrender of the Egyptian port of Damietta in exchange for Jerusalem and a few towns on the Syrian coast. The Egyptians rejected the offer, and the Crusaders retreated to Damietta under cover of darkness on April 5, followed closely by the Muslim forces. At the subsequent Battle of Fariskur, the last major battle of the Seventh Crusade, the Crusader forces were annihilated and King Louis IX was captured on April 6, 1250.


Meanwhile, the Crusaders were circulating false information in Europe, claiming that King Louis IX defeated the Sultan of Egypt in a great battle, and Cairo had been betrayed into Louis’s hands.[23][24] Later, when the news of Louis IX’s capture and the French defeat reached France, the Shepherds’ Crusade movement occurred in France.[25]

According to medieval Muslim historians, 15,000 to 30,000 French fell on the battlefield and thousands were taken prisoners.[26] Louis IX of France was captured, chained and confined in the house of Ibrahim Ibn Lokman, the royal chancellor, and under the guard of a eunuch slave named Sobih al-Moazami.[27] The king’s brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Alphonse de Poitiers, were taken prisoner at the same time, and were carried to the same house with other French nobles.  A camp was set up outside the town to shelter the rest of the prisoners. Louis IX was ransomed for 400,000 dinars, or livres (at the time France’s annual revenue was only about 1,250,000 livres tournois) . After pledging not to return to Egypt, Louis surrendered Damietta and left for Acre with his brothers and 12,000 war prisoners whom the Egyptians agreed to release.[28]

The battle of Al Mansurah was a source of inspiration for Islamic writers and poets of that time. One of the satiric poems ended with the following verses: “If they (the Franks) decide to return to take revenge or to commit a wicked deed, tell them :The house of Ibn Lokman is intact, the chains still there as well as the eunuch Sobih“. —from stanza by Jamal ad-Din ibn Matruh. [29]

The name of Al Mansurah (Arabic: “the Victorious”) that dates from an earlier period[30] was consolidated after this battle. The city still holds the name of Al Mansurah today, as the capital of the Egyptian governorate, Daqahlia. The National Day of Daqahlia Governorate (capital Al Mansurah) on February 8, marks the anniversary of the defeat of Saint Louis IX in 1250. The house of Ibn Lokman, which is now the only museum in Al Mansurah, is open to the public and houses articles that used to belong to the French monarch, including his personal thirteenth century grooming items.

For the next four years King Louis stayed in the Crusader States around Jerusalem.  Funds from France were used to build the Crusader states.  In 1254 King Louis and what was left of his crusader army returned to France.

Saint Louis’ Last Crusade

After ruling in France burning Jewish books and making Jewish people wear badges Saint Louis wanted to take the fight for a Christian supremacy to a Muslim ruled country right across the Mediterranean  Sea from France – Tunisia.

After landing a large force outside the city of Tunis the crusaders began to suffer from dysentery.  Great numbers became sick and the decision was made to retreat back across the sea.  A treaty that was favorable to the Christian ruler of Sicily was negotiated and Islamic rule was secured in North Africa and Tunisia.

The crusade is considered a failure after Saint Louis died shortly after arriving on the shores of Tunisia, with his disease-ridden army dispersing back to Europe shortly afterwards.  In order to create holy ‘relics’ Louis body was boiled so the bones could be retrieved and sent to various churches to venerate as a physical connection to the dead king and soon to be saint.  While ghoulish by today’s standards, the transportation of the body back to Europe would not have been healthy in 1270.

Saint Louis 03

(The Death of King Louis IX during the siege of Tunis)

Saint l 12



A portrait of St. Louis hangs in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives.

Saint Louis is also portrayed on a frieze depicting a timeline of important lawgivers throughout world history in the Courtroom at the Supreme Court of the United States.





The French Monarchy and the Jews
From Philip Augustus to the Last Capetians

William Chester Jordan –

Radical Liberal ‘ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser Calls For Confronting Republicans ‘Where They Sleep’ – 30 Sept 2018

ThinkProgress is a radical liberal pro-Democrat organization.  The ‘justice editor’ Ian Millhiser of Florida has called for ‘confronting’ Republicans who don’t vote with Democrats ‘where they sleep.’  This invitation to protest at Republican’s homes was published on Twitter.  Ian 00Ian 01Ian 02Ian 03Ian 04Ian 05Ian 06Ian 07Ian 08Ian 09

US Establishment – Dems and Repubs Want War on N. Korea – Almost Everyone Except Trump Wants War – Brian Becker (ANSWER Coalition) – 30 Sept 2018

‘North Korea process stalled because there’s almost a consensus in the US wanting it to fail’

US Korea
North Korea is right to blame internal American politics for the lack of denuclearization progress, because almost everyone around the US president wants it to fail,  says Brian Becker from the leftist A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the UN Security Council on September 27, 2018. © Brendan McDermid / Reuters

(CIA Pompeo Thinks the US can Win a Nuclear War with North Korea)

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, said the blame for the deadlock in the denuclearization process is on Washington. He argued that it became the hostage of the internal political struggle in the US, which has seen some forces attacking Pyongyang to gain ground on their opponents.

Brian Becker, the national coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war coalition, agrees that the Trump administration has been sending mixed signals to Pyongyang. “The US is playing its double game here,” he said. The day after Trump said that there should not be any “rush” with denuclearization, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to put more pressure on the North until it denuclearizes.

South Korea Protest

(South Korean Rally for Peace with North Korea)

Almost everyone except Trump wants war

However, Becker believes that the problem is even bigger than Trump’s administration being a nest of anti-North Korea war hawks, like Pompeo, or National Security Adviser John Bolton, or US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. With both major parties, the military and the intelligence community seeking to derail it, the process is effectively doomed.

The real reason this isn’t going forward isn’t simply the debate inside the Trump administration… there is almost a consensus between Democrats and Republicans, the Pentagon and the intelligence services and most of the Trump cabinet who actually don’t want this to succeed.

Getting closer with China & Russia is the only solution

China and Russia have been advocating for sanctions relief for North Korea to reward the good will Kim Jong-un has shown in talks with Trump.

“Unfortunately, China and Russia are hemmed in, because they originally voted for those sanctions at the UN Security Council, and of course the US has a veto. So they are urging Washington government to take a different road, but Washington doesn’t want or doesn’t have to,” Backer said.

Since these calls fall on deaf ears and there is no way around the US veto, it’s time for North Korea and its neighbors to band together, he believes.

FILE PHOTO: Intercontinental ballistic missiles are seen at a grand military parade in Pyongyang, on February 9, 2018. © KCNA

“What really needs to happen is that bilateral relations can strengthen between DPRK and China, DPRK and Russia and DPRK and South Korea. I think that is the road forward.”

The maximum pressure approach that Washington is preaching as the way to irreversible denuclearization is missing the point, Becker believes. The sanctions have been “absolutely irrelevant,” since Pyongyang is dismantling its nuclear program primarily to stop war games at its doorstep.

“The North Koreans have been consistent over the years. They have said from the beginning they’re willing to suspend nuclear weapons tests and ICBM tests and make other concessions in return for the cancellation, or suspension, or a moratorium on the US war games with South Korea, that simulate the destruction or the annihilation of North Korea.”

But while North Korea has kept its side of the bargain, the US made only “step A” and is not moving forward anymore, while demanding unilateral concessions from the North, Becker said.

ANSWER Coalition

The Social and Political Costs of the Financial Crisis, 10 Years Later – by Gautam Mukunda – 25 Sept 2018

Wall Street Uber Alles

It is hard to overstate the sheer economic cost of the 2008 financial crisis. The combination of increased expenditures and decreased revenues resulting from the crisis from 2008 to 2010 is likely to cost the United States government well over $2 trillion, more than twice the cost of the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan. Broader measures are even more damning. Measured by decrease in per capita United States GDP compared to the pre-crisis trend, by 2016 the crisis had cost the country 15% of GDP, or $4.6 trillion. Such numbers are too vast to be understood in any meaningful way, but one on a smaller scale may be even more powerful. A 2018 study by the Federal Reserve Board found that the crisis cost every single American approximately $70,000. Just in dollar terms, the crisis was arguably the most significant event of the 21st century so far, and the largest single economic downturn since the Great Depression. If the only effects of the financial crisis were economic, it would still be worth revisiting 10 years later.

But the most important effects of the financial crisis may be political and social, not economic. The years after the crisis saw sharp increases in political polarization and the rise of populist movements on both the left and right in Europe and the U.S., culminating in Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump here — by some measures the country’s most polarizing president ever. Such increases in political divides are a predictable response to financial crises across eras and countries. Even the economic recovery experienced by the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Britain, is not enough to neutralize the long-term political and social effects of the collapse.

The severity of the crisis was such that probably no government response could have eliminated these political and social consequences; when the economy collapses, people will suffer, and they will blame the people in charge. In my opinion, the way that the Bush and Obama administrations chose to respond to the crisis greatly exacerbated the change in American political culture produced by the crisis.

Fundamentally, the American (and world) economy was crippled by the actions of the leaders of the American financial sector, and the U.S. government chose to “punish” those leaders by giving them enormous sums of money through bailouts. This may have been the right decision. It may have been necessary to prevent a second Great Depression. It might even have been economically optimal, in the sense that it prevented an even worse outcome at the lowest possible cost (I do not believe this, but let’s assume it is true for the sake of argument). It nonetheless strikes most Americans as fundamentally unjust.

Justice is generally conceived of in one of two ways. The first, and more common, one is that justice is fairness. In a fair world, good behavior is rewarded and bad acts (usually meaning acts that contravene generally accepted norms) are punished. Economists and people with significant training in economics, however, often conceive of justice as efficiency — that is, the just outcome is the one that maximizes welfare. Although this is how economists often see it, most people have a very different perspective. Psychology experiments show that most people — and even monkeys! — believe that justice is fairness, and believe it so strongly that they will pay significant costs to protest unfair outcomes. People given the chance to punish someone who has betrayed them in a game, for example, will generally take it even if doing so leaves them worse off. They explicitly choose fairness over efficiency.

The arguments in favor of the government’s response to the financial crisis — ranging from TARP, to the nationalization of AIG, to allowing bailed-out banks to continue to pay bonuses to their employees — all hinged on the logic of justice as the rescue of the American economy at the lowest possible financial cost. These arguments, however, entirely ignore the powerful and far more common belief that justice is fairness. Efficiency may have required rewarding people who had acted badly and punishing the blameless — but that did not make it fair.

One way to highlight the scale of this unfairness is to look at the contrast between how bailed-out banks and automotive companies were handled. When the government rescued major American banks, it did not fire even one of their CEOs. The bailouts did not prevent the banks from generously paying their executives, and paying dividends to shareholders, rather than retaining capital to increase stability. When the government bailed out AIG, it did not impose a single penny of loss on any of AIG’s creditors. If you were a player in the American financial system, the government did everything possible to make sure that you did not suffer consequences from the crash your industry had caused.

When GM and Chrysler were bailed out, on the other hand, their CEOs were fired and their unionized workforces were forced to accept substantial pay cuts, even though they had nothing to do with the causes of the crisis. Each individual decision may, in some sense, have been the right one when measured purely in terms of economic efficiency. In aggregate, however, they gave the appearance of a government willing to spare no expense to shelter Wall Street from the consequences of its own mistakes, while largely unwilling to make similar efforts for others.

Perhaps even worse was the extent to which the government focused its efforts on stabilizing the financial sector instead of directly aiding most Americans. This was best symbolized by former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s approach to the response to the financial crisis. He explained, for example, why the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which was meant to help Americans who were facing eviction because they were unable to pay their mortgages, had done little, because its real purpose was to “foam the runway” for banks that had made the loans — that is, he saw it as a program meant to help banks, not the customers to whom they had made loans, often under predatory terms.

Even if we accept the argument that focusing almost entirely on the health of the financial sector was the best way to handle the crisis, this approach creates a series of problems. It largely removes any pressure on the sector to permanently change the behaviors that led to the crisis. Even worse, though, it corroded the bonds of trust required for the functioning of democracy.

It’s entirely reasonable that many voters would lose trust in the governing elite. And when that trust is broken, democratic populations will turn to politicians who promise to overturn that elite, whether it’s Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, or Nigel Farage. Populist movements often turn to outsiders to lead them. The problem with voting for complete outsiders, however, is that they don’t have a track record. You don’t know what they really believe. And they don’t always know how to pull the levers of power. Once in office, they can turn on you and pursue policies very different from the ones they promised, they can be manipulated by insiders, or they can simply be ineffective in trying to enact their agenda. The result is either more of the same or a government that is so discombobulated that it cannot function.

We can see different versions of this unfolding now in both the U.S. and UK. In the UK, within days of winning the vote to leave the EU, leading Brexiters started walking back key campaign promises to redirect EU funding toward Britain’s national health services, cut immigration, and harden Britain’s borders. Now, two years after the vote, the government has been unable to cobble together a deal to actually leave the EU. The result has been a government frozen in inaction, constant threats to PM Teresa May’s authority, the resignation of key officials, and continued confusion about what to do next.

In the U.S., Donald Trump has been either unable or unwilling to aggressively pursue the populist policies he promised during the campaign, with the exception of cutting back on refugee admissions and, to some extent, imposing tariffs on foreign trade. During his campaign, Trump promised to raise taxes on the rich and repeatedly attacked Goldman Sachs (and attacked his opponent for giving paid speeches to them). Once in office, he has cut taxes on the wealthy, filled his administration with Goldman alums, and sought to limit the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — in essence, rewarding the financial elites whose failure helped lead to his election.

The task facing May’s and Trump’s successors is simple. He or she, Democrat or Republican, Labour or Tory, must break this cycle. He or she will have to have both the will and the skill to address major concerns about the economy, ranging from stagnating median income to increasing inequality to the fundamental economic insecurity of most people. Beyond that, however, the two successors must govern in a way that is seen to be just. That means, for example, demonstrating that those who break the law will be punished, even if they are wealthy and powerful. A leader seeking to assuage these sorts of concerns, for example, might seek to emphasize white-collar crime, which is still too often ignored by prosecutors, and for which the overall number of prosecutions in the U.S. is at a 20-year low. Whatever their approach, future leaders should be guided by the idea that has always underpinned democratic societies — justice is about much more than economic efficiency. It fundamentally also requires fairness.

Gautam Mukunda is a Research Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. Previously, he was on the faculty of Harvard Business School, and he received his PhD from MIT in Political Science. He is the author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.



Egypt Sends Actress to Jail for Spreading ‘Fake News’ Over Sexual Harassment – By Jared Malsin – 29 Sept 2018

Amal Fathy 01

CAIRO—A woman has been sentenced in Egypt to two years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news after she posted a video on Facebook decrying her experience of sexual harassment in the country.

People walk by a poster of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the upcoming presidential election, in Cairo

The sentencing of actress Amal Fathy comes as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has given free rein to the country’s police and judiciary to clamp down on women who complain of sexual assault and harassment and women’s activist groups. The crackdown on women and feminist organizations is part of a broader government assault on civil society, dissidents, and anyone perceived as tarnishing the country’s image.

Ms. Fathy was arrested in a raid on her home in May after she published a video on her personal Facebook page where she talked about her experience of sexual harassment in a Cairo bank.

Cairo’s Maadi Misdemeanor Court sentenced Ms. Fathy to a year in prison on a charge of publishing what it called “fake news” with the intent of toppling the Egyptian regime, and to a second year in prison for possession of “indecent material,” a reference to the video itself. She was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about $560).

Amal Fathy 02

“To me, this is a clearance toward harassers that they can freely harass women,” said Mohamed Lotfy, Ms. Fathy’s husband.

“The message to women or victims of harassment is, ‘Shut up your mouth or we will jail you,” said Mr. Lotfy, who works as a human rights defender, speaking outside the courthouse.

Ms. Fathy is expected to appeal her sentence.

Amal Fathy 00

A second woman, a Lebanese tourist named Mona Mazbouh, was arrested in June after complaining of about sexual harassment during a visit to Egypt. She was initially sentenced in July to eight years in prison on charges of spreading rumors that could “undermine society” and defaming religion. She was freed after that sentence was overturned earlier in September.

Mona Mazbouh 00

The arrests contributed to what Egyptian women have described as a chilling effect on public complaints of sexual harassment.

Mona Mazbouh 02

Women’s rights advocates and specialists working with survivors of sexual trauma say they have faced detention and questioning by security forces over their work.

Mona Mazbouh 04

President Sisi vowed to end sexual assault after a woman was attacked by a crowd of men celebrating his inauguration in 2014. A widely spread video shows a woman wearing only a black shirt, surrounded by a group of men who appear to be ripping off her clothes and beating her. She has enormous bruises on the lower half of her body, which is completely naked. At the end of the two-minute video she is carried, bloody and bruised, to apparent safety in a vehicle. The video went viral on Facebook and Twitter, prompting anguished debate on the sites of activists against sexual harassment and violence in Egypt.

(Vice Video about Sexual harassment in Egypt – )

egypt assault

(Egyptian Dictator Sisi brings flowers to woman beaten and raped in the street by Sisi supporters)

Sisi sworn in as Egypt's new president

State institutions have denounced sexual harassment but many Egyptian women say they don’t feel comfortable reporting cases of assault to police, who are mostly Muslim men.


Wall Street Journal

Alliance Against the Establishment – US foreign policy is ripe for disruption—but only if the left and right act together – by Stephen M. Walt – 24 Sept 2018

Alliance Against the Establishment

U.S. foreign policy is ripe for disruption—but only if the left and right get their act together.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol in Washington on March 22, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol in Washington on March 22, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The United States needs a new foreign policy, but who is going to conceive, articulate, and implement it? In particular, could the emerging democratic socialists of the left, libertarians on the right, and realists in the center join forces to produce a foreign policy that would command support at home and perform effectively abroad? It’s possible, but it won’t be easy.

Over the past quarter-century, U.S. foreign policy has been in the hands of a loose alliance of liberal interventionists and hawkish neoconservatives. Both groups firmly embrace American exceptionalism, see the United States as the indispensable power that must exert active leadership all over the world, favor overwhelming military supremacy, and endorse the broad goal of spreading liberal values (democracy, human rights, rule of law, markets) to every corner of the world. They disagree somewhat about the role of international institutions (liberal interventionists see them as useful tools, neocons as potential constraints on America’s freedom of action), but that’s about it. Despite occasional disagreements on tactics and the usual jostling for position and status in Washington, this broad alliance has held firm across both Republican and Democratic presidents. And since 2016, it has also been working overtime to keep President Donald Trump from abandoning America’s position as leader of the so-called liberal world order. 

Unfortunately, the foreign policy to which these elites were committed has been a dismal failure. Their shared strategy of liberal hegemony—defined as using U.S. power to spread liberal ideals around the globe—did not produce a more harmonious and prosperous world. Instead, it helped lead to a series of failed states, deteriorating great-power relations, a global recession, declining confidence in democracy itself, and a xenophobic backlash against globalization. America’s foreign-policy elites once thought the wind was at their backs and that spreading U.S. ideals would be relatively easy; today, these same ideals are under siege and the liberal world order they sought to expand is on life-support.

Not surprisingly, a number of commentators are beginning to realize that the United States needs an alternative. Writing in the Atlantic, the recovering liberal interventionist Peter Beinart now favors a far more restrained U.S. foreign policy, more or less identical to the one that realists have been advocating for years. Last week, the historian Daniel Bessner of the University of Washington wrote a provocative op-ed in the New York Times calling for the emerging democratic socialist left to get serious about foreign policy and to unite around a platform combining anti-militarism, accountability, greater congressional oversight, and threat deflation.

Which raises the obvious question: Would it be possible to assemble a sufficiently broad coalition behind such a program, one both large and cohesive enough to overcome the liberal-neocon alliance that has caused so much trouble? As noted above, the obvious candidates are anti-war progressives (i.e., the democratic socialists highlighted by Bessner); realists who favor a grand strategy of restraint or offshore balancing; and the libertarian right (e.g., Rand Paul, the Cato Institute) that has been questioning America’s imperial proclivities for decades.


All three groups agree that the pursuit of liberal hegemony over the past 25 years was unnecessary, unwise, and unsuccessful. And a more restrained foreign policy is consistent with many of their individual political objectives, which could make a working coalition feasible.

For the libertarians, liberal hegemony led to a bloated national security state, threatened civil liberties, and forced policymakers either to raise taxes to pay for it or to run permanent deficits, both of which they regard as anathema. For this group, preserving liberty at home means keeping the federal government small and that objective is incompatible with trying to run the world.

For the democratic socialists on the left, liberal hegemony simply didn’t deliver as promised. Trying to spread democracy at the point of a rifle barrel didn’t produce stable, flourishing democracies or advance human rights; instead, it created failed states, violent insurgencies, and encouraged the United States to violate the very principles it claimed to be upholding. Excessive military spending and failed interventions squandered money that could have been spent improving the lives of Americans at home and especially the lives of Americans most in need of assistance. Globalization may have helped raise more than a billion people out of poverty in Asia, but lower- and middle-class citizens in the West saw few benefits, and the global financial order became more fragile, as we learned to our sorrow in 2008. Bessner is correct in saying that these groups lack a well-developed foreign-policy platform, but reducing America’s global burdens and taking a more measured approach to globalization would fit perfectly with their broader social and political agenda.

Needless to say, most realists would welcome a more restrained U.S. foreign policy as well because they believe this would husband U.S. strength, avoid costly quagmires, encourage other states to bear a greater share of global burdens, and allow the United States to rebuild its domestic infrastructure and focus on the big strategic challenges that remain (e.g., China). So, at first glance, it’s easy to imagine these three groups uniting behind a more restrained grand strategy.

A domestically driven revolution in U.S. foreign policy of the sort imagined here will also face significant obstacles, however. For starters, the hypothetical coalition I am depicting doesn’t have a deep bench of knowledgeable and experienced foreign-policy experts. Its ranks are not entirely empty, of course, but it takes a lot of people to run the U.S. government and a reform-minded president would be hard-pressed to find enough experts to staff the National Security Council with restrainers, let alone all the other positions he or she would need to fill. (It’s worth noting that both former President Barack Obama and Trump faced a similar problem and ended up having to appoint a lot of people who were much more inclined to interventionism than either president was.)