From Karachi to Caracas 914

I am finding Karachi an interesting place from which to view the world. Four US Presidents have visited Pakistan – Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton and Bush Jr. Each of them visited a military dictator, in the friendliest of terms. No American President has ever visited a civilian government of Pakistan. The Americans have always been far too busy plotting the next coup.

More recent neo-con practice has of course been to eschew open espousal of military dictatorship and to present CIA-organised coups as democratic revolutions. I was of course aware of their hand behind Juan Guaido in Venezuela, but I had not fully taken on board the extent to which Guaido is purely their creature. If you have not seen this superb article on Guaido’s history in Consortium News, please do read it. Guaido has been US-funded since 2005 specifically to undermine the socialist government of Venezuela. Notably the US sponsorship of this far right puppet started at a time when Chavez’ democratic and human rights credentials were impeccable, which rather undermines the current excuse for Guaido’s elevation.

In Caracas we are seeing an attempt at a colour revolution – quite literally. Here, from a US government propaganda website (not Bellingcat, another one), we have a photograph of the overwhelmingly white opposition group in the Venezuelan National Assembly.

And here, we have from the BBC a shot of Maduro’s new pro-Government citizens’ assembly – overwhelmingly of different ethnicity.

I should be plain, that I did not accept Maduro’s ruse to set up the Constituent Assembly. But neither do I accept the CIA’s ruse to overthrow the elected President. These photographs are helpful because they crystallise the fundamental issue – what is at stake is the West’s attempt to reimpose economic apartheid on the people of Venezuela.

Here in Pakistan, I am anxious to avoid the journalists’ disease of claiming expertise on a country after a few days. But it has been very instructive, and I am impressed by the start Imran Khan has made to addressing the complex and intractable problems that have hamstrung this state of 200 million talented people. Every Pakistani government has claimed to be making efforts to tackle corruption, and the colossal misapplication of state funds, and pretty well every government has been lying about that. But Imran Khan does seem to be fighting the hydra, and with an extraordinary level of application – I heard yesterday direct and separately from a Federal Minister and a Provincial Governor examples of how remarkably closely Khan is following their work.

Internationally, the move to open dialogue with the Taliban appears, coupled with Trump’s determination to pull out, to point the way to some hope of a settlement in Kabul which must inevitably include an element of power-sharing. The conundrum of accessing funds from Saudi Arabia and China without becoming a client is very well understood. Those funds help ward off over-dependence on the World Bank and IMF, whose vultures are already hovering around the usual demands for privatisations and vast hikes in utility prices to poor people. At the same time, a relationship with those institutions is unavoidable. It is an unenviable path to tread.

Attempts to reform Pakistan always encounter massively wealthy entrenched interests. If you are trying desperately hard to do good for your country, against opposition that is often viciously self-interested, it can be hard to remember that freedom of speech must also extend to the ill-intentioned and malign. Equally, while the government may feel this is hardly the time for fissiparous forces to be given play, those with secessionist views should be allowed to express them. Where there is terrorism and political violence, it can be easy for the line to be blurred between when force is and is not legitimate, and between violent extremists and peaceful dissenters advocating similar end goals. It is particularly not easy to tackle these questions where intelligence and military have enjoyed and abused excessive long term autonomy. Getting a grip on fundamental human rights is not easy, but it has to be done.

So the government faces massive challenges in making progress in areas where Pakistan has rightly been criticised in the past, but I feel much more confident they will make progress than I did before I came. I should also say that the overwhelming kindness and hospitality I have received from people at all levels has been very touching. It is a fascinating country to visit and in the next few days I shall be seeing a large number of historical sites, following in the footsteps of Alexander Burnes.


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914 thoughts on “From Karachi to Caracas

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    • bj

      Read it.
      Yes, agreed, seems like religious persecution, though the details of this particular case are sketchy.

      I recall walking along the bridge across the East River, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, towards the big sign up there.
      They certainly were right on that.

    • N_

      @John – Thanks for this.

      The Jehovah’s Witnesses were also persecuted under the Nazis. They comprised the vast majority of the section of concentration camp inmates who were classified as the wrong type of Christian and who had to wear their own special badge, a purple triangle.

      I vaguely recall reading about JW inmates in the Soviet labour camp system too, but couldn’t find a source.

      They are of course apocalypticist. (Their date for the Big One keeps changing.) And a big streak of apocalypticism runs through Russian Orthodox Christianity and Russian culture more generally. It sounds as though Russian state officials consider the JWs to uphold the wrong kind of apocalypticism. The “Old Believers” were in a similar position once. Big Pharma may also have a hand in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ repression.

      Which is not to say they aren’t themselves up to no good. They probably are. They are a cult with a presence in many countries.

        • N_

          From that article:

          Doctors (sic) say too many of their patients shun taking statins because of bad information they picked up – often from politicians, celebrities and others who lack medical expertise.’

          That is just how many medics think in Britain, as if they are great reasoners (because a lot of their paperwork involves putting down some ol’ crappy reason for what they’ve decided), academically highly qualified (although very few of them are doctors of anything), and in the habit of weighing up information and sources and so on, rather than being what they mostly are: creeps who believe whatever is printed in the Elsevier-owned journals that dominate minds in their “profession”, and who will sign and advocate anything if they’re paid for it, while looking down their foolish noses at people who read up about statins or about the lucrative vaccines that medics get paid to administer to children.

          It was just a thought about the Jehovah’s Witnesses – perhaps with their opposition to the use of blood-derived medicines and blood transfusions (a matter in which they are unlikely to be bought off) they may have got into a position where they are considered an irritant by Big Pharma. Pure speculation.

          • N_

            And the adjective “lay” is routinely used. The medical priesthood have no idea how ridiculous that sounds. The word “medical” is also made to carry enormous weight. All it means is pertaining to medics.

          • Blunderbuss

            “The Guerrilla Skeptics are well trained, highly motivated, have an ideological agenda, and operate in teams, contrary to Wikipedia rules. The mastermind behind this organization is Susan Gerbik. She explains how her teams work in a training video. She now has over 90 guerrillas operating in 17 different languages. The teams are coordinated through secret Facebook pages. They check the credentials of new recruits to avoid infiltration. Their aim is to “control information”, and Ms Gerbik glories in the power that she and her warriors wield. They have already seized control of many Wikipedia pages, deleted entries on subjects they disapprove of, and boosted the biographies of atheists.”

            Attributed to Rupert Sheldrake at:


          • Clark

            Do you ever bother checking the other side of a story? Apparently not:

            “However, there was never any evidence the GSoW group had ever edited the Sheldrake Wikipedia article. In fact, the editor who did most of the editting to the article (VzaakWikipedia’s W.svg) posted a response to many of Sheldrake et. al.’s points. According to skeptic Tim Farley,Wikipedia’s W.svg who investigated the edits:

            The central claim, that Guerrilla Skeptics are controlling Sheldrake’s bio, is demonstrably false. It is a classic conspiracy theory. I asked Susan Gerbic directly, and she confirmed that Sheldrake’s bio was not on their current project list. But you don’t need Susan’s word, just search for the name “Sheldrake” at the project blog and you find only a post about a related article, and no indication they had worked on Sheldrake’s bio. (Believe me, they’re not shy about showing off their work – it’s part of their outreach efforts). Look in the editing history of the people actually editing Sheldrake’s article, and you’ll find only cursory overlap with articles the Guerrilla Skeptics have bragged about editing.

            And, according to “Julie”, member of GSoW:

            Hahaha we didn’t touch his page, even with our minds! We have a list of pages we want to edit and Sheldrake isn’t even on it! Maybe that’s the real reason for his tantrum 😉

            In December, 2013 GSoW founder Susan Gerbic discussed how the conspiracy theory had no real basis in fact, but woo-believers were still promoting it.

            My team has been very open about what we edit. In fact every single WP editor’s edit history is available with a couple clicks. Its easy to find out who edited what, when and even the time they edited. But they didn’t care about that evidence stuff. The only thing important is the conspiracy.

          • Clark

            The Articles for Deletion link makes interesting reading. There was indeed a “mainstream versus fringe” argument about the Kendrick article, alongside the argument which was actually relevant, which was that no one could find secondary sources about Kendrick, without which a “Biography of Living Person” article will fail the “Notability” criteria. What’s interesting is that (1) a load of anti-deletion sock puppetry pissed off long-term editors, probably biasing them towards deletion and (2) prominent accounts in the (irrelevant) “mainstream versus fringe” argument, on both sides, subsequently disappeared.

          • Clark

            Blunderbuss, I should explain my motivation.

            Seizing upon information that confirms one’s pre-existing ideas is a widespread problem, and there is no way we can improve matters by falling to the same level. That route can only descend to a cherry-picking slanging match, which the mainstream will inevitably win because the mainstream, by definition, has the most voices.

            To genuinely change minds, what is needed is a rigorous case, and if we can’t build one, we must consider the possibility that we are wrong. Maybe not completely wrong; maybe our theory just needs tweaking a bit. But trying to bolster a failing case by tacking on a dozen suggestive fripperies just undermines our own credibility.

          • Blunderbuss


            You are cherry-picking as usual.

            “The Guerrilla Skeptics are well trained, highly motivated, have an ideological agenda, and operate in teams, contrary to Wikipedia rules”.

            Do you support the Guerrilla Skeptics rule-breaking because the end justifies the means?

          • Clark


            If members of Guerrilla Skeptics break Wikipedia’s rules, it is up to other editors such as ourselves to counter it, by either standard editing or, if necessary, calling for Arbitration.

            But you have made no such case; indeed, the evidence as it stands indicates that Guerrilla Skeptics were not involved in editing the Rupert Sheldrake article. I’ve glanced at the Sheldrake page and it seems to me pretty fair, as well as highly informative, so there doesn’t even appear to be a problem to address.

            And the way you’re going, I’m not likely to take much notice of your allegations, am I? Because they appear to have no substance to them. This is the same as the other, er, disagreements we’ve had. It’s nothing to do with the “Free Speech” dog-whistle you repeatedly blow. Present a convincing case and I will sit up and take notice – here’s an example of me doing just that:


          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 20:25

            “And the way you’re going, I’m not likely to take much notice of your allegations, am I?”

            I don’t expect you to. You seem to think that everything is about you. I don’t post here for you, I post here for people who might actually listen.

        • Clark

          Statins are covered at various points in Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma. Known adverse reactions were withheld from the “drug label” from February 2008 until November 2009 due to legal threats by a manufacturer, and as of the publication date of Goldacre’s book, there was no research comparing the real-world outcomes of various statins against each other. A 2007 study looked at 192 trials of statins and found that manufacturer-funded trials were twenty times more likely to give results favouring their own drug.

          Of course there could be many more problems than this, but these are covered in the book.

          It looks to me as if you should only take statins if you’re at high risk of heart attack, eg. if you’ve already had one – which doesn’t sound like John Goss to me! Goldacre:

          “From the evidence currently available on these drugs, it looks as if they roughly halve your risk of having a heart attack in a given period, regardless of how large your pre-existing risk was. So, if your risk of heart attack is pretty big – you’ve got high cholesterol, you smoke, you’re overweight, and so on – then a statin reduces your large yearly risk of a heart attack by a half. But if your risk of heart attack is tiny, it reduces that tiny risk by half, which is a tiny change in a tiny risk.”

      • Shatnersrug

        The JWs were persecuted in the UK in both world wars, my old landlord was a JW, his handyman – also a JW from Kilburn – used to have great chats with me about his life growing up. They are pacifist, and when the draft came they had to disobey – they were arrested and imprisoned Tony was separated from his mother, it’s was terrible for them.

        I found them to be kind and trust worthy people, they recently decided to drop the door knocking in favour of giving testimony in public once a month. Now they don’t bother people by turning up unannounced I can see no reason to single them out.

        • Clark

          It’s true they are kind and trustworthy – but when I was a kid, I’d have fought against having a blood transfusion had I needed one, because I was scared shitless by the indoctrination. I never formed a proper relationship with my dad, because he wasn’t a JW and thus would be killed at Armageddon, when I’d have been about twelve. It’s a crock of shit.

          • uncle tungsten

            Absolutely Clark. I have met so many damaged and hurt people that are the victims of this ugly belief and behavior system.

            The JW indoctrinate and coerce their children, they establish a framework of tyranny both emotional and social and rarely does a person liberate themselves from the deep emotional manipulation of their ‘religion’. The JW are not just benign in their encouragement of their children’s faith, they are engineers of rigid adherence and punishers of those seeking alternative life journeys. This sect should never be permitted to run a school or home school as the rights of the child are much more important than the rights of the coercer.

            Set the children free from their clutches.

          • N_

            @Uncle Tungsten – Parents have a right to decide how their children are educated, according to international law, English law, and Scottish law. Do you want the state knocking on home educators’ doors, without having any information that suggests something may be going wrong, to gather information so that they can check that the education being given complies with all the criteria? Or do you want the JWs banned as they were in Nazi Germany and are in Russia?

            Of course much of JW upbringing is a crock of shit, but so is much of what Calvinists (and J__ish racists) teach their children and so is much of what is done to children in schools whether private or state.

          • Clark

            It’s very tricky; parents do not have a right to physically isolate ‘their’ children from general society – but they are permitted to so indoctrinate the children that the children make outsiders of themselves – which in some ways is even worse.

          • NASAlies

            I don’t think British parents or authorities have the right to say anything to anyone about how to raise their children. The UK has the Unhappiest children in Europe, self harming is off the scale, and they live in a world of corporate lies to trick them into eating shit that isn’t actually food…….all fully endorsed by their telly addicted, soap watching parents. No right whatsoever

          • Clark

            “I don’t think British parents or authorities have the right to say anything to…”

            …to whom? You seem to have ruled everyone out. I think you need to clarify to yourself just who it is you’re objecting to. And I think you might have your socks inside out too.

      • pretzelattack

        they were also persecuted under the americans, for not saying the pledge of allegiance, or accepting loyalty oaths, iirc.

    • Clark

      I’d like to see Jehovah’s Witnessism abolished. But the Russian judiciary has made a mistake here; their decision will make matters worse because the JW ideology thrives upon ‘persecution’.

      No, JWism isn’t just another religion; it’s a full-on indoctrination and brainwashing outfit. I know. I suffered it from the age of four onwards. Two hours each Sunday, an hour’s local group meeting each Tuesday, another two hours each Thursday, plus home bible study, home Watchtower study, home study of whichever book they’re pushing this month, plus as much time “on the doors” as you can manage, several assemblies each year – and no birthday celebrations allowed, Christmas and Easter defined as evil, not allowed to join in anything remotely religious at school – which makes the child a misfit – and constant, constant, constant repetition of their core ideology – Obey, or God will Kill You.

      Good luck Russia; if JWism can be wiped out it’ll be a good thing. But it won’t work, because a favourite theme at every Sunday meeting is a roundup of everywhere JWism is being suppressed, with an oft-repeated quote from the bible that persecution is the proof that it’s the only true religion.

      • giyane


        All indoctrination including Brexit involves goodcop/badcop manipulation + a lot of truth to carry the lies along. The JWs don’t see Jesus pbuh as part of a Trinity, which is like Islam, but they do use the concept of Jesus pbuh as a intermediary between the dirtiness of us humans and the purity of God. i.e opposite of protestant Christianity which says we have a direct connection to God in our prayers with no intermediary.

        The Islamic reality is that the only unforgiveable sin is to use an intermediary. Purity in Islam is connected to direct reliance on God and the ways of His prophet SAW. Since Islam is an instruction manual for human existence from the factory, Knower of the Unseen and the Seen, the JW teachings fail the test completely. I think the dirtiness aspect is a leftover from African colonial missionaries whose main legacy was removing ownership of the land. I see echoes of it in political Islam which spies on Muslims in order to threaten them.

        I think it’s a good idea to dispose of JW indoctrination and political Islam indoctrination in a sealed bag in the bins provided. CM blog being one of them.

        • Clark

          Religious indoctrination results in involuntary idolatry – the religion is set up as an idol, thus obscuring sight of the divine. Knowingly perpetrating this is evil, but most perpetrators are unknowing, because they are victims themselves.

      • N_

        If locking up JWs in concentration camps didn’t wipe their ideology out, the only way a state can wipe them out may be to kill them all. Don’t do that!!! How about we revolutionise social conditions so that nobody feels a need for such an ideology?

        • Clark

          Killing the JWs in one country would just strengthen the fanaticism of all those in other countries.

          I’d love ‘us’ to revolutionise social conditions, but ‘we’ aren’t going to, are we? Because ‘we’ don’t care enough to put our liberty and lives at risk; we’re too comfortable and well entertained.

          It’s ironic; we’re actually permitting the JWs’ apocalypse to materialise.

    • David Penn

      I bet they were prosecuted not for the religion as such,but for proselytising, a pretty nasty activity, in my book.

  • Dungroanin

    Guardian gaslighting labour membership, with another dodgy poll:

    ‘It claims that “Brexit energises Labour remain voters” disproportionately, and warns “there is no middle way policy which gets support from both sides of the debate”.

    The Guardian understands that while the report was sent to Momentum, it was not commissioned or requested by the group.

    Sources inside the party stressed that there were risks from turning either way on Brexit – and other polls showed a different picture.’


    Trying to tell a grass roots organisation, what the grass roots thinks! The dismal Obsessive Grauniad! ().

    The snap (yawn is it here yet?) election phony war is well and truly underway.

    Apt to the nascent manifesto in that event is how straight the Labour leadership can be with the voters. It’s time to finally dump Maggies big lie – Govt budget is same as your household one.

    That cold war has gone up a level in the dialogue between Simon Wren Lewis (current Lab economic guru) and Professor Richard Murphy.

    Follow it on RM’s blog

    I suggest any who doesn’t know about it, get up to speed.

    It doesn’t matter how much the Overton Window has moved if the Bankers can carry on stuffing their pockets with their Economic Rules.

    • Tom

      The propaganda is so transparent now as to be laughable. Clearly the latest orders from Central Office to the client media is to turn young people against Corbyn on the basis of his views on the EU. One of the Mail’s Tory mouthpieces was at it today.
      The hypocrisy and deviousness of these people posing as journalists is something to behold. They will say almost anything to keep the tax exiles’ lackey Theresa May in office, even if the country is destroyed as a result.

      • Dungroanin

        Do you have the raw data for me to see how findings were made? And why they were sent unbidded to a political membership?

      • freddy

        Or the only reason you find that poll isn’t ‘dodgy’ is because you like the findings?

        I thought it was common knowledge they are used to sway opinion as much as report it. Not always, but it’s The Guardian, long shorn of journalistic integrity.

        This was from The NYT on the eve of the 2016 election –

        (although if you dig into their data, rather than reading the headline, it’s a lot closer)

    • Jo1

      It wasn’t a Guardian poll. Polling was done by the TSSA Union.

      It also was featured on Peston tonight.

  • Charles Bostock

    Would it be possible for certain commenters to stop using this blog as a kind of daily press digest, a report on items in the MSM, and to revert to what Murray has told us he wants this blog to be, ie a place for thinking out of the box and debating and discussing?

    Is it logical to keep carping about the MSM and then to link to them all the time like a kind of round the clock news agency?

      • IrishU

        Bostock has a point about people who rail against the MSM (e.g The Daily Heil and Torygraph) then paste a link to those websites. Likewise with those who decry the BBC and its output then discuss at length BBC programmes.

        • Clark

          There’s another way to look at it, which is that the problem with the corporate media is structural. Individual reporters may do a fair job. Or they may cover an important event even though they colour it with their assumptions, which can be pointed out without invalidating the informational content.

          But in a newspaper or its website, the actual reports (containing information of variable authenticity) are then embedded within opinion – what is opinion doing there? Can we not interpret events for ourselves? Must we be led? And then the editorial system assembles it into a ranking of importance for us – which is another matter that we can decide for ourselves. Reports may be prominently linked from the Front Page, or left in obscurity.

          The Internet has given us a wonderful thing; the actual reports from the reporters are available to each of us, we can decide which reports to highlight, and add our opinion. We have inherited the position of Editor!

          • Mighty Drunken

            I agree, but also disagree about the opinion pieces in the papers. 🙂
            The problem is not that opinion pieces appear in papers, the problem is they are so shallow and not very informative. Maybe I am being a dunce but I can’t find any decent economic analysis about the UK economy in the papers. The Guardian sometimes has excellent pieces about Australia but the UK has the usual stories about GDP/ house prices/ employment figures. Where is the detailed expert analysis?

          • Clark

            Yes, there is a place for expert opinion. But maybe it should be optional; it’s impossible to get media that doesn’t tell me what to think.

    • Dungroanin

      Ah Mods!!?… fair enough,

      But, I was making reference to the Mendlesson / Campbell Millbank Rapid Rebuttal unit that stormed NuLabInc into power and terrorised the media into supporting the neocon/lib endless privatisation and war…

      As you (mods) and all independent denizens here know, the mutant descendents of that and other Millbank projects move amongst us and in the wide world.

      They are obvious. They don’t care. Their excuse? Following orders? Protecting their country? It’s a paid job? They hate taxes? They don’t like JC? Etc etc

      I thought the plaintive begging from Bossie needed to be dealt with robustly but with knowng humour, it was a instant response – unlike this one.

      Just as all propaganda in msm needs neutralising as speedily as possible – it upsets their newscycle management algo’s, and makes their minions rush around like a load of cockroaches when the lights are turned on – I am happy to do my bit on the indy blogs too!

  • N_

    Tory MP Peter Bone clutched his smartphone all the time when he misportrayed what Donald Tusk said about a “special place in hell”. I wonder how he manages in the urinal.

  • uncle tungsten

    Thank you Craig. Pakistan is a truly amazing country and it has suffered dreadfully from repetitive manipulations by the ‘west’. May Imran Khan do well and steer his country to peace and unmolested prosperity. He appears to have set out on a strong path of reform and truce making between the various factions and pressure groups in the land. May he live long and engender strong support across the political, tribal and economic factions.

    Pakistan is vital as it is the corridor for trade from places west to places east and is an essential corridor to relieve Iran from the cruel blockade imposed by the USA. Pakistan is the key ingredient to prosperity from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey as they continue to find pathways around the illegal economic blockades of the USA and its middle east toadies.

  • Sharp Ears

    Chapter and verse from Eva Bartlett on the situation in Syria which is terrible. She calls out The Intercept as well as the MSM for carrying the lies.

    Feb 6 at 6:25pm
    The lies of corporate media has prolonged terrorist rule in Syria

    Have you noticed that there is little coverage of the Syrian situation on the UK news channels lately?

    These are two items on the BBC Middle East webpage this morning.

    ‘US to buy Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system’ Nice.
    ‘Trump sees total rout of Islamic State group as imminent’

    • michael norton

      Mary Paul it is about time Sergei was allowed his one phone call.
      He could have a chat with his ninety year old mother to put her mind at rest that he is safe and sound and not being held incommunicado against his wishes.

    • michael norton

      Skripal poisoning: Possible third intelligence officer involved
      The man, Sergey Fedotov, was identified in reports as having come to the UK at the same time as the two suspects alleged to have carried out the attack.

      Investigative website Bellingcat said the man is a Russian military intelligence officer and it believes the name Fedotov is an alias.

      A Kremlin spokesman said Russia did not know “whether this is true at all”.

      MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, then 33, were poisoned with a nerve agent known as novichok in Salisbury in March 2018. Both of them survived.

      Two Russian nationals have so far been named as suspects.

      Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin have been linked to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

      The game is still afoot.

    • Wikikettle

      John Goss. Indeed Adam Garrie knows his history. His contribution to Craig’s site would add to the many informed contributors.

  • Sharp Ears

    Back to Venezuela.

    ‘Pro-democracy campaigners and press-freedom groups have warned that media bias promoting the Venezuelan opposition — led by outlets including the BBC and the Guardian — is designed to play a role in undermining Mr Maduro’s government and legitimising the attempted coup.

    BBC international correspondent Orla Guerin came under fire on Saturday for stating that the pro-government demonstration in Caracas was “suspiciously large” as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in support of Mr Maduro.

    The one-sided news segment carried interviews with pro-opposition supporters and showed footage of Mr Guaido speaking from a platform adorned with a US flag.

    Ms Guerin said that the BBC could not attend both demonstrations as they were held at the same time, indicating the state broadcaster had prioritised Mr Guaido’s demonstration, which was framed as “a moment of history.” ‘

    The media war on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro escalates
    Media organisations and social-media users critical of the US-backed coup are being censored
    February 4, 2019

    The BBC Mundo’s correspondent Guillermo Ulmo also assists in the anti-Maduro propaganda. Wonder where they found him?
    My first week as a BBC Venezuela correspondent
    25 August 2018

  • Sharp Ears

    Theresa managed to break off from her somewhat futile Brexit ‘negotiations’ to attend the Black and White Ball last night. She is off to Brussel today.

    Theresa May woos millionaire Russian banker at Black and White Ball fundraiser
    EXCLUSIVE Wealthy donors paid thousands to be at the lavish annual bash – including the wife of a former Vladimir Putin crony

    Trinity Mirror (REACH plc) obviously do not like Putin.

    I agree with Mr Lavery, quoted there –
    ‘Labour Party Chair Ian Lavery said: “Tory Ministers live on a different planet.
    “While they are busy hobnobbing with super rich donors at a lavish party, our public services are in crisis, people’s pay is being squeezed and councils are at breaking point.
    “The government should be focusing on running the country, not courting donations for their party.”

    In the HoC on Tuesday night, police were called as there were allegations of groping involving three men against Ross Thompson, a Scottish Tory MP, who was in his cups. ‘Business’ finished yesterday at 9pm yet there he was at 11.30pm affected by the over consumption of subsidized alcohol at the Strangers’ Bar. It’s shocking.

    • Dungroanin

      It appears that a general retreat has been sounded across the boards today.

      Mrs May last stand to the always plan A, hard brexit, is nailed on – the DUP will do as they”re told by Murdoch and the old cabal.

      She is in danger of being reasonably cornered by her own words, commitments and actions into a joint soft brexit with the official opposition front bench or accidently with the harrum-scarrum ragbag of NuLabInc asylum seekers.

      No wonder the troll sniper squads have had their scripts suspended. They are waiting for the computer to tell them what to think next – I wonder if they are on a salary or the new fangled slave pay?

    • N_

      @Hmmm – You are right about Marx. @Loony is wrong. He is a troll. He won’t stop. He probably doesn’t know the work of Karl Marx from his own left craphole, but it’s also possible he got the quotation wrong deliberately. It’s possible too that he knows a bit about Marx and just made a typing error and can’t say so because a) he has got rabies, b) he thinks he is God almighty and c) this is a trolling opportunity. Whatever he does know about anything he is prepared to use here for trolling purposes. He doesn’t care what is true and accurate and what isn’t. You are absolutely right about that quotation and you are wasting your time trying to get an acknowledgement from the other party.

      If I can be of help here…

      In his Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), Marx wrote:

      (A)fter labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

      Marx wasn’t the first to come up with this idea. The idea is pretty obvious when we start thinking (as many people have) about a society where all people can express themselves freely in their lives and productive activity, where there is genuine community, and where there’s no positive feedback from seeking to exploit others, so that society is based on humanity rather than on antagonism between people, crapping on other people, the competitive struggle for survival, and the control over the means of production by an elite.

      The idea that Marx wanted the “community” or the “state” to suppress the “individual” or the creation of conditions such as prevailed in the USSR or prevail in North Korea is utterly ignorant crap, and does not deserve much of our time in debunking. It’s akin to shouting “Get back to Russia!” at the Jarrow hunger marchers.

      Praise Marx, and pass the ammunition.

      • Hmmm

        Lovely. Thank you. I think the phrase is beautiful too. Interesting that Marx didn’t originate it, it’s evolved and hopefully evolving along with humans… maybe the the trolls will evolve too?

        • Iain Stewart

          Loony is no troll, he just gets a little excited sometimes, and at least his comments are rarely lacking in entertainment for passing tourists like me. Here you go:
          «В СССР осуществляется принцип социализма: от каждого по его способности, каждому — по его труду». – Первый раздел, «Общественное устройство».
          Or if you prefer: “In USSR we implement the principle of socialism: from each according to his ability, to each according to his labour” 1936 USSR Constitution 1936 Chapter 1, Social Structure written by Joe Stalin (aged 57 and 3/4)

    • N_

      Has Eva got another book out? Chavez stood up in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza when practically the whole of the US Congress (with extremely few honourable exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich) jumped up and down on command, AIPAC money weighing down their pockets, to applaud the I__aeli slaughterers as if they were “defending” themselves. It is on record that Chavez was threatened by the thugs of the ADL, not wearing some other badge but openly wearing he colours of the ADL.

    • N_

      BTW @Sharp Ears, I have almost finished watching the Al Jazeera four-parter on the “Lobby” that you recommended and it is excellent and very well worth watching.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Anti-Trump psychosis is bringing Democratic representatives of the people to show their MIC, true colours. The Senate has passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act by 70 to 26.

    The Act seeks to stymie the withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan and to sanction any American company complying with BDS. These imperialist lunatics believe that America has security entitlements in the Middle East that take precedent over the wishes of sovereign States and their people.
    If being a member of NATO entails association with American foreign policy, it’s time to quit NATO.

    Foot note: In the last couple of weeks, Bill Maher has gone from frothing at the mouth about “Trump’s treason” as an established fact, to complaining that America’s foreign policy wasn’t adhering strictly enough to the Monroe Doctrine and praising Gina Haspel as a fine woman. Anti-Trump psychosis has very strange results.

    • bj

      The obvious counterattack of the concerned public:
      boycott & sanction any American company that does not comply with BDS on the basis of this law.

    • Loony

      Being a member of NATO most definitely entails association with US foreign policy.

      You cannot leave NATO – only the US can end NATO, and in the US only Trump wants to end NATO. Anyone in a country that is a member of NATO but does not like NATO should be highly supportive of Trump. Anyone that does like NATO should have no problem in explaining exactly how it is that Montenegro (total population 622,000) contributes to the military security of nuclear armed Britain, France and the US.

      For all practical purposes the EU and NATO are interlinked. It is easier to leave the EU than to leave NATO. Break the EU and you weaken NATO.

      Jeremy Corbyn understands all of this and has been a lifelong consistent opponent of militarism How strange that his long standing loathing of militarism is now suddenly tempered by his recent conversion to a highly equivocal stance on the EU.

      One more thing that Jeremy Corbyn understands is that most of his policies concerning the re nationalization of a range of infrastructure industries are all illegal under current EU rules. People are perfectly entitled to vote for Corbyn if that is what they want. However unless and until Corbyn does something to promote the UK exiting the EU then his policy agenda may as well be some form of surreal novel.

      But then as we know some people seem attracted to Corbyn because they claim to admire the quality of his lies.

      • bj

        Under the current constellation, there’s this to consider.

        May a politician lie to stay in power?

        The answer given by May and her Tories is ‘yes’ (antisemitism, spy, Integrity Initiative, &c.).

        So why not consider Corbyn may be ‘strategically’ lying too, in order to gain power.

        What’s good for the goose… &c.

      • Ian

        More of your Corbyn obsession, with your typically selective and misleading claims. Yawn. Give it a rest.

        • Loony

          My Corbyn obsession? My selective and misleading claims?

          Go on be the bigger man and explain exactly how Montenegro is vital to the security of nuclear armed Britain, France and the US.

          • Ian

            Haha, what a classic response. More obfuscatory self-aggrandising diversions. If you’re so keen, please do lecture us on your latest attempt to sound learned and superior to everybody else. It hasn’t stopped you before.

          • Loony

            So I assume that you have nothing to say regarding Montenegro?

            Hopefully you are aware that if any one NATO member is attacked than all other NATO members are obligated to assist. In theory if Montenegro were to fall out with Serbia then you and yours could be compelled to fight in the Balkans. Perhaps you also know that World War 1 had its proximate cause in the Balkans.

            I very much doubt you have a death wish but it is interesting to note that you prefer to engage in ad-hominem attacks on anonymous people who you do not know, will never know, and who will never do you any harm than to focus on reality.

      • michael norton

        I agree Loony,
        Jeremy Corbyn needs The United Kingdom to completely detach itself from the hated European Union,
        for the next Old Labour Government, to be able to turn the clocks back to 1945.

      • SA

        I am surprised that you think that Trump has a coherent policy with regards to NATO or anything else, and also even if he did, that he would be able to change the situation. But I agree with you that Montenegro should not be asked to contribute to the defence of nuclear armed Britain, France and the US.

        • Loony

          President Trump has fully coherent policies. That this is not widely understood is testament to the power of the wholly malign media. The fact that they are coherent does not mean that anyone needs to agree with them – but surely it is only possible to agree or disagree with something if you understand what that something is. I suspect that most people would agree with most of his policies and that is why the media works so hard to demonize him and present him either as an incoherent buffoon or as “literally Hitler”

          Trump has described NATO as “obsolete” It is hard to disagree when you consider that NATO was formed as a protective alliance against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. As neither the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact exist then by definition NATO is obsolete.

          Trump argues that the US is providing subsidized military protection for Europe and Germany in particular. He does not want to continue this policy. Whether he is right or wrong in this analysis surely he has the right not to maintain a US military alliance with Germany.

          Trump is hobbled at every turn by deep state actors acting in concert with the media. One of his most vocal critics with regard to his views on NATO is none other than Madeleine Albright. Here is Ms. Albright opining on the deaths of 500,000 children

          If Madeleine Albright is supportive of NATO then that alone is enough to seriously question the entire enterprise.

          • glenn_nl

            It’s only due to “the wholly malign media”? Fascinating. So the incoherent ravings – mostly badly spelt and full of grammatical errors – on your Great Leader’s twitter feed is who’s fault exactly?

          • Loony

            Oh I don’t know Glenn. Why not concentrate on some some substantive points.

            Do you want to go to war? Do you want other people to go to war on your behalf? Do you think killing 500,000 Iraqi children was a good idea? What benefits exactly do you see in the destruction of Libya? Who are the “moderate rebels” in Syria and exactly how many US troops should be deployed to support them?

            If you are happy with the status quo killing fest all around the world then I guess you will not see much value in Trump. Do you have any practical and executable ideas that would end this carnage? Absent some defined solutions that are capable of being implemented then you may as well support Trump. He may work out, or he may not. But what have you got to lose. It is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.

          • freddy

            People here do have a predictable outlook on the Trump presidency. Nearly entirely based on sound bites from an almost uniformly hostile MSM. They think they are independent thinkers, but lap up anything which conforms to their internal bias. I don’t have to agree with his [Trump’s] politics, I don’t have to even like the man, but I saw there was a concerted campaign against him. A campaign with connections to the US and UK deep state.

            Cue “Orange Man Bad” I guess. (Due to the entire weight of the anti-Trump propaganda, it will take time to respond to their predictable outrage)

            And I believe that Craig’s post, without mentioning these tensions in the current administration or the political backdrop, shows an intent to persuade, rather than educate.It’s not what I wanted to believe though

          • SA

            OK I concede some of the points that both you and Freddy make about Trump being hampered by the establishment. But the inconsistency lies in the fact that he did not have to appoint Bolton and Pompeo, with whom he has constant disagreements and also in the fact that he is totally irrelevant. The fact that what the POTUS says is meaningless because he can’t control the pentagon and CIA speaks volumes about the incoherence of his policies. He has to often make announcements on Twitter which he then has to abandon in cold daylight. I tell you you can’t run a pub like that let alone a giant superpower.
            NATO is obsolete only if you have blinked and missed the fact that NATO has evolved its mission. It may have been a tool to contain the Soviet Union but that was only a cover story which was blown when the USSR folded and it has now become an extension of US military power to Europe and beyond. To think that Europe enjoys being the forward base for US belligerence seems to me to be a sign of political naivety of a major type. Europe has no choice in this alliance and no country can leave. NATO is there now not to protect Europe but to surround Russia and act as a buffer to protect the US. So please let us be realistic about these things and stop pretending.

      • Blunderbuss

        My number one reason for voting for Brexit is that I am a great enthusiast for public ownership. However, if we only manage a half-Brexit, I think we should just ignore EU rules and renationalize public services anyway. With a bit of luck, the EU might throw us out of the club so we’d achieve Brexit by a different route.

        • Clark

          “Live the change” – it could do even more good to enlarge the public sector within the EU, as it might embolden other member state governments to do likewise.

          I know it would provoke a legal challenge (as attributable to trans-Atlantic trade treaties as much as to the EU), but that looks like it could be fun due to the rampant hypocrisy; for instance, how many EU citizens, companies etc. are buying electricity from EDF, owned by the French state?

          • Michael McNulty

            And I doubt ATOS could do to French citizens what they’re doing to British subjects courtesy of Blair’s New Labour, the Lib-Con stitch-up and then the Tories. Had a foreign army invaded and done such things to British people they would be called atrocities. There is nothing civilized about starving people. It is inhuman cruelty, and all for the love of money.

  • SA

    With reference to the discussion earlier about statins. There seem to be some who hold an extreme view about Big Pharma and consider that the whole medical profession is conspiring with the pharmaceutical industry to use statins even where not indicated either for pecuniary or other reason.
    The truth however is much more mundane. There is an overwhelming evidence that statins used in the context of other measures such as blood pressure control, weight reduction in the case of those who are overweight and prevention and control of diabetes are very useful preventative measures against heart disease and strokes, in high risk populations with these risk factors. It was further shown that you can expand the use of these measures to include those to risk groups with lower thresholds but then you start getting diminishing returns so that fewer number of those treated will benefit from the drugs. It is this middle group of intermediate risk where the controversy lies. Balanced with all the above is the relative safety of statins and the reversibility of side effects related to muscle pain and cramp which will disappear in those who get this relatively uncommon side effects when the drugs are stopped.
    But the truth of all of these and this applies also to vaccines and other preventative medicine is this: neither the medical profession nor the pharmaceutical industry are interested in harming anyone because of something does clear harm it will soon be phased out. There is no conspiracy there. If a drug is useful and relatively safe, there is a trend to expand the use to a wider application. The only obvious conspiracy here is that the pharmaceutical industry will try to exploit this expansion as much as possible.
    It is very important for each person to decide for themselves but this must be done through trust of science and profession. No one person will be able to take in all the complex information and this is where trust in the professions is important.

    • Mary Paul

      Mr P will no longer see one of the GPs in our practice because whenever he sees him, he starts by trying to persuade him to take statins. Mr P does not have any health conditions which might indicate he needs to take statins and believes in taking as few drugs as possible on a regular basis. However this particular GP believes every adult should take them, without exception and is on a mission to persuade every patient he sees to take them (excepting minors and young people in their twenties.) .

      • Ort

        This rings a bell! It’s the same in the USA.

        FWIW, I’m a reasonably healthy man, aged 63. My doctor (“primary health care physician”) is refreshingly relaxed and conservative, even diffident, about prescribing medication. He’s aware of my abiding acute cynicism towards Big Pharma, and either genuinely shares it or is willing to humor patients who express it.

        He’s never been one to flog the latest Big Pharma alchemy advertised on TV and presumably pushed by drug company salespersons.

        And yet, he will blithely say things like, “The research has established that pretty much everybody should be taking Lipitor (the most popular statin) from birth.” He’s not above being facetious, but I think he actually believes this.

      • SA

        Without wanting to ask too much of Mr P’s personal circumstances, some of the risk factors that may make GPs wish to prescribe statins are age, weight, being a smoker, family history and being overweight and also cholesterol levels. But of course Mr P is well within his rights, as is anyone else, to decline the offer on being on statins unless these risk factors are explained in a contextual way

          • SA

            I know Clark but my answer was to Mary Paul. In the US the system I guess is even more complicated in a profit orientated way by collusion with insurance companies.

    • Sharp Ears

      I heard that GPs were being paid to prescribe them.

      I too refused to take them.

      B I G P H A R M A! BEWARE!

      • SA

        Sharp Ears
        I am sorry to hear that you heard that GPs are being paid to prescribe statins. I think this is a major slur but if this is not a slur and is true, is a major scandal. I would like to learn more about what you heard and who you heard it from, otherwise I would consider this is mere tittle tattle.

        • Sharp Ears

          GPs being paid for handing out statins puts off patients, review finds
          Statins lower cholesterol but years of controversy has prompted mistrust
          22 MAY 2018 • 12:05 AM
          Patients at risk of heart disease are failing to take statins because they worry GPs are being paid to hand them out, researchers have said.

          A new study found “mistrust” over doctors’ motivations was reducing uptake of the potentially life-saving drug.

          ++NHS bosses currently offer GP practices financial incentives to boost the rate of patients handed the cholesterol-lowering medication.++

          It followed a decrease in prescribing due to controversy surrounding the safety and efficacy of statins.

          But studies have shown that, once prescribed the drugs, adherence among patients who have not yet had a cardiovascular scare can be as low as 57 per cent.

          The new research, published in the the British Journal of General Practice, analysed surveys comprising 888 patients in eight countries, including the UK.

          It found a widely held belief among British patients that GPs have a tendency to over-prescribe statins, leading to suspicion over whether they personally needed the drugs.’


          Plus my own knowledge having worked in the NHS (non-medical) and with a relative who is a doctor.

          • Clark

            Thanks for that Sharp Ears.

            If research hadn’t been warped, people wouldn’t have lost trust. Instead, financial incentives have been deployed, creating a vicious circle.

            Money is no substitute for honesty, but neoliberals simply have no such comprehension.

          • SA

            SE and Clark
            Thanks for the link to the telegraph article and the comments. These both illustrate quite clearly how politicising an issue can lead to misrepresentation and misinterpretation. When you google: GPs paid to prescribe statins the main direction is to the Telegraph article. When you read this you find that it was written by an anti statin person. It gives the impression that GPS are being bribed directly for giving statins. If read carefully you can see that it is a Government initiative through Nice due to new evidence that shows that there are benefits of taking statins even if the risk factors are 10% of developing heart disease over 10 years. Nice, which looks closely at cost benefit analysis, has deemed this worth while. There are two issues here apart from the Nice recommendation process: should the government be incentivising GOs to what is in effect, their duty to be up to date and asses risk and take appropriate action which should include life style changes and prescription of statins? In my opinion this shouldn’t happen and GPS should just be paid on a fixed basis without ‘incentives’.
            The second controversy which is beyond the use of statins is that of prescribing drugs for prevention of future disease in healthy people. This is a highly polarised discussion but I think this article in the Guardian is better nuanced than that in the telegraph:

            We have witnessed a major improvement in the life expectancy of the population in the last 50 years or so and people live Longer and healthier than before and it is therefore inevitable that the emphasis on the prevention of major killer diseases is a large focus. But let us not collectively throw the baby out with the bath water in our contempt for certain practices of Big Pharma.
            And I will have to declare here that I have no vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry which is not all bad.

          • Clark

            SA, firstly:

            “But let us not collectively throw the baby out with the bath water in our contempt for certain practices of Big Pharma”


            Thanks for looking that up; I thought the Telegraph had disappeared behind a paywall so I didn’t follow the link.

            I really cannot support pre-emptive prescriptions until the many, many distortions of pharmaceutical trial data highlighted in Big Pharma have been thoroughly addressed, and can be seen to have been addressed. The industry has overrated its products and deliberately hidden harmful side effects so many times, and has attempted to medicalise non-conditions so frequently, that they simply cannot be trusted. If NICE were now receiving all trial data it could be another matter, but as of 2013 the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) were both still withholding data from NICE , doctors and the public.

            Indeed, the changes required to secure full exposure would be so far reaching that I cannot imagine them happening under the sort of governments we have had for decades. There would have to be public employees with full access to monitor any activities in all the labs and offices of every company and sub-company all over the world. I know that recent pressure has improved matters somewhat, but given the scale and the depth of the corruption it seems inconceivable that it has improved them nearly enough.

    • Clark

      SA, 13:55:

      “neither the medical profession nor the pharmaceutical industry are interested in harming anyone…”

      But the pharmaceutical companies effectively don’t care; it’s profit, profit, profit.

      “…[i]f something does clear harm it will soon be phased out”

      But as slowly as possible, for as long as the companies can conceal that harm.

      “There is no conspiracy there”

      There certainly appeared to be a high level of collusion between US and EU drugs regulation bodies (at least) and the pharmaceutical companies, at the time of Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma in 2013. Regulators were refusing to release data, and when they were eventually pressured into doing so it was in unsearchable formats.

      • SA

        The collusion is there of course and not limited to the pharmaceutical industry. Under cover of commercial secrecy many industries get away with massive damage to environment, labour and society. But I think some people see that the conspiracy extends to include professionals and distrust of them.

        • Clark

          Medical professionals are certainly misled by the pharmaceutical industry – which “very kindly” “gives away” “free” ongoing “education”. Governments are very happy to keep that expense off their budget.

          I really would advise anyone drawn towards a conspiracy theorist outlook to read Bad Pharma – to find out how it is actually done. Know thine enemy, and it is capitalism!

          I agree – commercial secrecy has to go. Secrecy has to go. But all that’s going is personal privacy.

          • SA

            I resent your generalisation about highly trained professionals being misled. This is the archetypal conspiracy theory and you claim to be anti-conspiracy.
            Yes drug companies finance educational programmes and do so lavishly but most professionals will take this opportunity to go to these conferences and be educated as they are the forums through which major scientific discoveries are made public. But there is no other system. The government does not even want to train enough doctors and nurses for our own needs but prefers to import ready made one from poorer countries whilst at the same time bashing immigrants.
            Given the dreadful capitalist neoliberal society we live in where any benefits made through the work of primary painstaking research and expensive infrastructural projects bourne by public finances and then once profitable, passed on to industries, whether pharmaceutical or otherwise, we should see this as the evil we should fight: THE SYSTEM, not individuals or organisations or even the beneficiaries. It grieves me to see enlightened people not seeing through this simple divide and rule tactic.

          • Clark

            Highly trained professionals are systematically misled every day. Of course, their education mitigates against how severely they can be misled, and I am sure that many of them hold very high standards of integrity – though a minority have thoroughly sold out.

            But absolutely, I do blame systems; I thought I’d made that clear:

            “Know thine enemy, and it is capitalism!”

            But the contradiction is staring you in the face – such distortions as Goldacre has documented could not be perpetrated unless highly trained professional were systematically and routinely misled. The only other possibility would be that such professionals were part of a conspiracy!

          • Clark

            When favourable data is released while unfavourable data is never even admitted to, everyone is misled, whether they’re professionals or not. The only advantage that can be conferred by professional training is that of realising that one is being misled.

          • Clark

            SA, I remember you said you’d read Bad Science; I was assuming you’d read Bad Pharma too, but now I think you cannot have done.

          • Clark

            The pharmaceutical industry spends as much on marketing as on research and development; $60 billion per year in the US alone. In the main, drug companies ‘sell’ to doctors and advisory boards ie. highly trained professionals, and not directly to the public. The only possible purpose of marketing in a supposedly evidence-based field is to distort decisions away from those which would be made based on evidence alone.

          • Clark

            I am very sorry if you resent any of this; you are a commenter that I greatly respect. But please do not shoot me; I’m just a messenger.

          • SA

            Thanks for your answers and comments and apologies for my rant. I just feel that certain professions are always under attack by everyone and this creates an air whereby conspiracists start to be anti any medication and vaccines and so on. Interestingly the government also has a vested interest in bashing some professions for thier own purposes. You are also a commenter I respect and I hope there are no hard feelings, must temper my responses.

          • Clark

            SA, no hard feelings at all, and no need to apologise. Yes of course it’s a strategy of divide and rule. The very act of withholding trial results divides those who know the results from those kept ignorant. The very ideology of capitalism is competition, which includes competition to displace blame away from oneself, eg. from governments onto professionals and companies etc., and vice-versa, and in all possible permutations.

            Professionals are absolutely right to attend industry-funded education because they gain more good than bad from it; this is demonstrated by the ongoing improvement in treatments. Many are no doubt alert for bias, but the organisers hold the advantage nonetheless, since the attendees cannot be certain of where the bias lies. We know that it works for the companies because there are a multitude of studies that reveal its effects, in prescribing patterns for instance, or the prescribing of drugs on which the manufacturer had concealed data of harmful side effects, eg. Vioxx.

            What such bias amounts to is drag and drain upon progress – progress continues, but slower than it would have done. Some company gains a temporary monetary advantage over a competitor, but some patients pay for this in the form of some suffering and death that could have been avoided.

            The medical professionals also pay in the form of guilt and anger. Ben Goldacre:

            “Reboxetine is a drug I myself have prescribed. Other drugs had done nothing for this particular patient, so we wanted to try something new. I’d read the trial data before I wrote the prescription, and found only well-designed, fair tests, with overwhelmingly positive results. Reboxetine was better than placebo, and as good as any other antidepressant in head-to-head comparisons. It’s approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (the MHRA), which governs all drugs in the UK. Millions of doses are prescribed every year, around the world. Reboxetine was clearly a safe and effective treatment. The patient and I discussed the evidence briefly, and agreed it was the right treatment to try next. I signed a piece of paper, a prescription, saying I wanted my patient to have this drug.

            But we had both been misled. […]

            – If you’re ever in any doubt about whether the stories in this book make me angry […] you need only look at this story. I did everything a doctor is supposed to do. I read all the papers, I critically appraised them, I understood them, I discussed them with the patient, and we made a decision together, based on the evidence. In the published data reboxetine was a safe and effective drug. In reality it was no better than a sugar pill, and worse, it does more harm than good. As a doctor I did something which, on the balance of all the evidence, harmed my patient, simply because unflattering data was left unpublished.”
            – – – – – – – – – –

            Conspiracy theorists blame a grand conspiracy, ie. concealed cooperation. There are such elements, but in fact more harm is done by its near opposite; much smaller conspiracies which have to form in the capitalist environment of enforced competition. The conspiracy theorists’ error is like a miscarriage of justice; not only does someone innocent get unjustly blamed, the real perpetrator goes unsuspected, offending over and again.

        • SA

          Non comprendo.
          If this is supposed to be a game of word association my one word is :

          • MaryPau!

            The history of fentanyl prescription in the USA and the resulting epidemic of addiction does not promote confidence in the ability of the medical profession to resist the commercially driven campaigns of Big Pharma.

  • Loony

    …and so back to the EU where 27 countries stand united in their desire to ensure that Brexit in no way derails the European project of ever closer harmony and co-operation. A continent united in shared values, tolerance and respect for all,

    But wait…what is this?

    Oh no it seems there is trouble in paradise with the French and the Italians failing to share values, and to respect each other. Now who would’ve thunk it?

      • Iain Stewart

        “In the USSR we implement the principle of socialism: from each according to his ability, to each according to his labour.”
        Constitution of the Soviet Union 1936

      • Loony

        What is this, pedants corner?

        Yes I made an error. The quote is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his NEEDS”

        But, then so have you since the phrase is not an original idea of Marx, but rather one he latched on to. There is some debate as to the origin of the phrase but it likely has its roots in the writings of Etienne-Gabriel Morelly.

        • Hmmm

          I never said he originated the phrase… you claimed it neatly encapsulated his philosophy. That’s why I wanted the exact quote.
          You made an error and you’ve accepted it. Maybe you won’t misunderestimate me again…

          • Blunderbuss

            I don’t think it’s an error, it’s two different statements.

            The “needs” one is by Marx and the “labour” one is Stalin’s corruption of it.

          • Clark

            It could well be an attempt at smear by association.

            I wonder if Stalin’s corruption of Marx’s slogan was the inspiration for Orwell’s “Four legs good, Two legs better!

        • Ken Kenn

          So where does that selected quote leave children pensioners and the retired as well as those unable to work?

          You’ve been reading the CIA’s My Big Book of Marxism again haven’t you?

          Foreword by that notorious ‘ Peacenick ‘ Donald trump.

          An amazing guy Donald.

          In a highly globalised and organised world he wants to retreat back to old glories ( not Old Glory ) but wants the US to continue to receive tribute ( rents ) from the rest of the world on past investments just by the alleged mighty power of the US.

          Sorry but this is the new world not the old one and the masses ( now theirs a Marxian phrase ) are not wearing it.

          Of course if the President and Walrus face doesn’t like that they can always nuke some country.

          Problem is if they nuke the wrong country they will definitely get nuked back.

          This is why US military policy has been to disarm first then invade.

          Saves on explaining dead bodies to the public and justifying why you went there in the first place.

          Donald the spoilt brat doesn’t like that – no sirree Bob.

    • Laguerre

      May was pretty shirty today about Tusk’s special place in Hell remark. Very thin-skinned, considering it is the truth. Whereas Salvini et al were intervening in French domestic politics: that’s a no-no normally. Anyway it proved what we all knew: the gilets jaunes are in fact a variant of Ukippers, and are moving further and further right. They only appeal outside France to the far right.

      • Xavi

        No, their protests are supported by anti neoliberals everywhere and smeared by neoliberals everywhere.

      • SA

        Even the French press do not speak of the gilets jaune as the French equivalent of Ukipers. I think this is an unfair portrayal and wonder whether it reflects the fact that the Privileged Parisians find it oh so inconvenient to shop in the Champs-Elysee because of the nuisance caused.

        • michael norton

          Tusk is also against Nord Stream 2, while Merkel is for it.
          Ukraine and Poland are against Nord Stream 2.
          Ukraine is not against it on moral or security grounds, it is against it because it fears the transit of Russian/Asiatic gas through Ukraine, will reduce the Russian Rubles into Ukraine coffers.
          Poland just does not want anything Russia or Germany want.
          They are the filling between the bread and do not want the filling sucked out by Germans or Russians.

  • N_

    Here is today’s key Brexit bit. Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, says “Either May accepts (Corbyn’s five points) in full and commits to enshrining them in law before exit day or we must move to support a public vote.”

    He is not saying that she must agree them with EU27. He is saying they must be enshrined in British law. Let us assume he is not stupid and that he realises that a British law isn’t enough to establish a customs union with a foreign trading union. Let us also assume the Labour leadership is not seeking a second referendum or any other path towards self-destruction. What is happening here is that Labour will support a fudge which amounts to “Leave first, sort out the problems later, and in the meantime we applaud this, we’re committed to that, and we agree to aim for the other” (just as if we were back in the student union). Call it a “managed no deal” or whatever.

    Leaving without a deal doesn’t mean no customs union ever. We’re about to move out of the Noel Edmonds phase. And in any case, “leave first, sort out the problems later” is an idea that’s implicit in the “backstop” arrangement even if no politicians or “experts” have described it like that.

    I predict that this week’s tally of Brexit-related statutory instruments laid before Parliament will again exceed the number (currently 28) that need to be laid per week to get them all laid (if not passed) by 29 March, which in fact would not be necessary in the event of some kind of deal because then there would be a transition period and some SIs wouldn’t come into force until the end of it. Exceed that number and it decreases, as it did last week when 36 were tabled.

    So far, nearly 400 Brexit-related SIs have been laid before Parliament. You won’t read about that in the Sun, the Times, the Guardian, etc.

    • N_

      In short, that which is denoted by the phrases “kicking the can down the road” and “running down the clock” – horrible clichés in which the opinion channellers “think” and condition those beneath them in the chain to think – is not the whole of the story.

  • Loony

    Do you have a loathing of poor people? Would you like to make the poor poorer?

    If this kind of thing appeals to you then you are sure to love the EU. The EU is a modest organization and does not like to hog the limelight, but fear not I am willing to act in an unpaid PR capacity for them.

    Here is a news article explaining that electricity prices in the UK are going to rise by around £117/yr. Not many details are provided beyond the fact that this constitutes the unraveling of a policy that has only been in place since January.

    Why might all this be happening, and why might it be happening now? Why last November the European Court of Justice (sic) ruled that UK arrangements for securing back up power supplies were illegal as they constituted illegal state aid.

    Reaction to this “shock” judgement (probably described as a shock because the UK had previously obtained permission from the European Commission for this scheme) was both quick and accurate. Experts predicted that the judgement would send shockwaves throughout the sector.

    But wait…It gets better (or worse depending on perspective). What you have is an electricity market exhibiting rising prices and so naturally this would be an ideal time to close a 2,000 MW power station so as to constrain supply further and help prices to rise further.

    If NATO has not already acquired the rights to this song then the EU should move in and snap it up

    • michael norton

      I was rather shocked this morning when I heard electric was going to shoot up, for a moment I thought Hinkley Point C had been connected to the U.K. grid.
      Which we are told will be the most expensive electric in all of Europe.

      • michael norton

        Now, the cheapest form of electricity production ( taking Carbon Credits into account) is land based wind turbines,
        as it is usually windy, somewhere in the U.K., it seems this is the way to go to keep the cost of our electric to a minimum
        but NO, New Nuclear is “needed”
        guess why?

        You need people to apply to learn nuclear technology, otherwise you can not be a Nuclear Top Table Player in NATO,
        so to fluff it out a bit, we “need” nuclear produced electricity.

          • Clark

            Various manufacturers have announced that they’ll be ceasing production of internal combustion engine cars some ten to fifteen years before governments prohibit their construction. I think it’s because the evidence of health risks from exhaust emissions is accumulating and the manufacturers don’t want to get sued too badly.

        • Clark

          “guess why?”

          Base load.

          Me and Squonk were watching the dials during the cold snap December 2017:

          About 12.5GW of wind capacity is actually shown; there is actually about 16GW including unmetered installations (which show up as a reduction in demand). It was 16:30, and essentially the whole UK was becalmed; wind output was just a smidgen above zero. We knew demand would attempt to rise to around 55GW by 17:30, there were a couple of big power stations off line, and the available capacities just couldn’t add up to enough; we’d be several GW short and the power would have to go off for someone.

          The wind started to pick up at 16:50 and we scraped by.

          • Clark

            But yeah, the European Pressurised Reactor is an embarrassment. From 1956 to 1959 the UK built the Dounreay experimental Fast Breeder Reactor in just three and a half years, in the most remote part of Scotland. Nothing like it had ever been built before and it included the most complex stainless steel construction ever undertaken. Cooling was by liquid sodium using electromagnetic pumps with no moving parts – real sci-fi stuff. This is what was once possible. How long have they been attempting to build EPR now?


          • Clark

            Sharp Ears, nice to know you were reading.

            The post-WWII era that gave us the NHS was truly impressive. I’m still not sure whether I support nuclear power – but that’s because so many lines of research and development were abandoned, so we lack the data and experience necessary for proper assessment.

            But we’re out of time. If development of renewables and long-distance power transmission had been prioritised thirty years ago when the environmental movement had first called for it we wouldn’t be in this crisis, but now we just need to build whatever will be quickest.

          • Clark

            Parry, nuclear technology is diverse, and nuclear power is not nuclear weapons. You could equally condemn quarrying and the blasting of cuttings for roads and railways because they use explosives, as used in warfare. You could condemn kitchen knives because Daesh cut people’s heads off.

          • Clark

            And yes, it was about two thousand tests, equivalent to about a quarter of the current global nuclear arsenal, I think. People and animals were used as test subjects. Evil, beyond doubt.

            But our “satanic, child raping leaders who want to destroy and indeed are destroying everything that is sacred about Mother earth” put a stop to nuclear weapons tests, in two phases: the Limited Test Ban Treaty 1963, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty 1996. Unless you were referring to North Korea.

      • Mary Paul

        But work has stopped on Hinckley Point hasn’t it? Because even at the inflated prices promised suppliers, it is still not economic to build it apparently.

        • michael norton

          U.K. Energy Policy is at a tipping point Following the withdrawal of two Japanese giants Toshiba and Hitachi from nuclear projects at Moorside in Cumbria and Wylfaon Anglesey it is now clearer than ever that it would be cheaper to build new renewable capacity rather than continue building Hinkley Point C.
          It’s now time to cut our losses and abandon the Hinkley Point C.

          It is extraoridary that in one month of our inept M.P.s passing a law to “protect” pensioners and the poor for rip off Electricity conglomerates, they rip us off more than ever before, this really is two fingers up to the public and parliament.

          Oil is the same price it was twelve months ago but appologists are telling us costs have gone up?

          • Clark

            OPEC agreed a reduction in output a couple of months back; prices are just starting to rise.

            In the UK there’s not much electricity generation from oil. Over half the UK’s generation capacity is natural gas. The power stations are purpose-designed; they aren’t multi-fuel.

            The UK had a gas crisis February-March 2018. We were less than 24 hours from rolling electricity blackouts. Putin went on TV, personally pushing the button to fill the first tanker ship with liquid petroleum gas from the new Siberian gas field, to send to “our friends the UK in their hour of need”. But the Skripal fiasco was in full swing, so Theresa May made a show of sending the tanker away. It went to France where it decanted into three smaller tankers which came straight back and connected to the UK gas terminals 😀

          • David

            rolling electricity blackouts
            which form of “load modulation” remains one of the main uses for the so-called ‘smart-meter’ in the home. a remote ‘off’

            later, they could become really smart with IoT, by just shutting down remotely the domestic freezer/fridge whilst preserving the contents, but today – just a potential denial of service circuit breaker, for those rare UK, cold, still, foggy days or weeks.

          • Clark

            I agree that remote cessation of service is a primary purpose for ‘smart’ meters.

            Apparently this blog has already come under attack from a botnet including security-compromised toasters etc.

          • michael norton

            Brent Crude is slightly less expensive than it was twelve months ago
            $64.81 08/02/2018
            $61.64 today

          • Clark

            I won’t be holding my breath waiting for good news about any European Pressurised Reactor – they’ve had a lot of problems so far.

            The Rolls Royce SMR technical summary is here:


            It’s a Pressurised Water Reactor design, which I’m not keen on, using low-enriched uranium oxide, which will produce as much ‘spent’ fuel per unit energy as other typical reactors. And can it avoid melting down if the pumps stop running? After all, this is the same basic design as Weinberg’s PWRs, which he said were insufficiently safe for civilian use. But it has to beat the forty year old plus reactors that are still in use everywhere, relicensed beyond their design lifetimes. I’d certainly prefer a pebble-bed design.

            But we’re out of time thanks to all the denial of climate science over the last three decades, and Rolls Royce say they can build one of these in five hundred days… But have they even built one so far? I don’t think they have.

    • Laguerre

      Funnily enough, no stated connection between the ECJ judgement and the price hike. May promised price control, and at the first issue, she drops it. Obviously May had no interest at all in keeping prices down. It was just to fool people.

    • Ken Kenn


      I can assure you as someone who used to work for the Electricity Generating Industry that post privatisation in the early 90’s in the UK
      that very little ” back up power supplies 2 are available in the UK.

      The sets of generators are being run to capacity with little room for error or service.

      Toshiba and EDF have bailed out of building the nuclear power stations and gas ( because it’s quicker and easier to build and run ) plants are in the pipeline.

      Problem: Russia has a lot of LPG and Norway is selling theirs to others including China for a nice price.

      As Karl would say: ” It comes to something Frederick in this era of Capitalism when you need a Lawyer to negotiate your fuel bill ”

      ” Or buy a Mobile phone. ”

      Of course he didn’t say the last bit because Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t been invented when he wrote that.

      • Dungroanin

        LPG price has been down recently. Imports are robust. Winter is mild.

        We got plenty gas.

        • Clark

          “We got plenty gas”

          What’s your source? Because we don’t have a replacement for what was by far the bulk of our storage at Rough. LPG storage (a fraction of Rough) was kept near 100% until this last week or two, but had been permitted to fall to around 58% I think is the figure I heard – and I’m wondering if they’ve been accessing the same source as you have.

          “Winter is mild”

          Winter is indeed mild – in the UK, but we’ve been lucky so far. The sudden stratospheric warming event in late December plunged north America into deep cold, but it could have come our way, and there’s still time for more.

          • Clark

            Dungroanin, thanks. Am I right to assume those are international prices? ‘Cos international prices have very little bearing upon whether enough gas is available on the UK gas distribution grid. Look what happened to UK gas prices on 3 March last year:


            The problem was caused by the closure of the UK’s former long-term storage facility at Rough. It hasn’t been fixed and won’t be, so the UK is just as vulnerable to a cold snap as it was last year, when we came within 24 hours of rolling blackouts. Explore the crisis as it happened on the thread I linked to, with multiple sources of data.

          • Dungroanin

            Theres storage and then there are pipelines.

            The EU website has very excellent uptodate maps of how the gas grids are connected in Europe and the inputs from the RoW.

            Short term blips will always be possible – mainly weather related or disasters!
            (LNG is volatile – i dread to think what would happen if one of these tankers blew at Milford Haven – the forces are comparable to a nuclear bomb – but let’s not dwell on that)
            The interconnectors actually insures that the UK
            Is daily more tied to the europe!

            Nordstream 2 is progressing at pace – these russkies are good at infrastructure!

            Politically, once the US pressurepoint is dismantled in the Levant, the whole of Europe will benefit from what should be a public utility – cooking and heating.

          • Clark

            The UK has the same pipelines as March last year, when the gas nearly ran out. Thankfully Brexit isn’t until the end of March, in case another gas shortage emergency needs to be declared, which invokes the obligation of EU countries to supply a partner in trouble.

  • N_

    Britain-EU27 Brexit talks to restart. Surprise, surprise.

    (T)he EU (sic) again refused to reopen the withdrawal agreement and its controversial backstop – with any negotiations expected to focus on the future relationship between the UK and EU instead.

    This amounts to “get out first and have a good time bathing in fudge both before and after”.

    • N_

      And the betting market implies exit on 29 March has probability 27%. Bettors are getting taken in by the talk of extension, whether for a referendum or a general election or because there’s such a logjam of legislation when in fact there isn’t.

  • bj

    Does anyone have access to this story?

    In a major new Washington Post report, it’s revealed that Papadopulos met with a man named Sergei Millian, who is described as the “unwitting” source for former British spy Christopher Steele’s claims about Trump and Russian prostitutes.


  • Sharp Ears

    Neil Clark
    Repeat after me, protests in Venezuela good, protests in France bad!
    7 Feb, 2019
    Large street protests in both France and Venezuela. Two Presidents with low approval ratings. But only one whose legitimacy has been denied by Western ‘democracies’ and by the French president himself.

    Just when you thought globalist hypocrisy couldn’t get any worse, it just did. France and Venezuela have both experienced widespread anti-government protests in recent weeks. These have been fuelled by economic factors and increased financial hardship of the majority.

  • nevermind

    Look up ‘ donkeys’ . A crowdfunded group that started printing quotes by politicians, from either the HoC or their tweets, and glued them to large bill boards.
    people keep sending them money and they are planning to cheer up the whole country with these quotes.
    Dont ask me whos behind it but it causes positive hilarity.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Woudln’t it be more appropriate to talk about being down and out in Karachi and Carakas?

  • Clark

    I suggest a new paradigm – RGB politics.

    R – Red – Social values.
    G – Green – Environmental values.
    B – Blue – Freedom and enterprise values.

    All the colours of the display you are reading are created from red, green and blue. All three are essential.

    • Clark

      😀 Thanks folks.

      The first application that occurred to me was a replacement for the moronic “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” buttons for rating comments under MSM articles, which inevitably end up either reflecting the prejudices of readership of the rag the article happens to be in, or just become completely polarised. Instead you could have three sets of up/down buttons, red, green and blue. If you think a comment is good for society but bad for individual liberty, give it +1 red and -1 blue. The comment could display a ‘badge’ of varying colour, determined by the sum of readers’ button-clicks.

      Another possibility would be to map political positions in three-dimensional RGB space. Any change in policy would be represented by an arrow, having direction and magnitude; a vector.

      These three dimensions seem somehow natural to politics. Politics has been depicted as one-dimensional for far too long, a red pole versus a blue pole, with environmental values barely even admitted. Does it have to be a fight, or is that just a consequence of being confined to a one-dimensional track?

      • zoot

        there will always be a fight between left and right on most issues. there is bogus ‘ bipartisanship ‘ in the us, but all it consists of is corporate democrats ‘ reluctantly ‘ caving in to a corporate republican agenda. it is not a political model that benefits ordinary people.

        • Clark

          I’m not sure the ‘right’ is really the right any more. The argument for market economy is that competition keeps prices down and quality up – I’d call that a valid ‘blue’ argument – but that isn’t what neoliberalism does; it lets the biggest fish eat all the smaller fish until there are only a handful of giants left.

          I can see that left-right conflict used to be inevitable, but technology has increased average prosperity so much that the rich have no need to keep everyone else poor; these days there’s plenty to go around, if it was only permitted to. Which is why I suspect that the fight is just an outdated habit.

          I agree that the typical political model is crap, which is why I’d like to replace “left versus right” with “red and blue… and green”.

          • zoot

            ‘ there’s plenty to go around, if it was only permitted to ‘

            the timeless basis of the left-right fight. I see little sign of that fight becoming outdated. on the contrary, with the discrediting of the so called 3rd way center left and the rise of movements and figures like ows, sanders, yellow jackets, corbyn, etc, the left-right fight is becoming more intense than it has been for decades.

          • nevermind

            The left right spectrum has been undermined by the new robot neocon liberalism. 5G will accelerate this, more people will be unemployed, and the worrying signs that come with 5 G full spectrum coverage are being noticed by physicians and doctors worldwide.
            What does a society do that has cdut down on social spending, that invest taxpayers money heavily in arms conglomerates and new AI inventions, robotics, GM foods will all lead to more unsustainable excesses.

            But a bird does need a right and a left wing, otherwise it can’t fly, thew only observation I can come up with in support of Clarks new traffic light politics.

  • M..J.

    Speaking of Maduro, it appears that he has allowed the military to be corrupted by financial and political incentives, so that they don’t defect for fear of retribution, should the opposition come to power. Now he refuses foreign aid even though his own people starve -echoes of Stalin. I hope democracy prevails in Venezuela.

    • zoot

      it does prevail. venezuelan elections are among the most meticulous and scrupulous in the world. admittedly they do fall some way short of the esteemed ‘ international community ‘ standard of 2019, wherein somebody just unilaterally declares themselves president.

    • Sc

      Strange idea of democracy you have! And remember the crippling sanctions? Sanction with one hand, foreign aid with another?

  • Jan

    Welcome to Karachi Pakistan and please take time to visit some of the archeological sites along with the northern mountains and tell people outside Pakistan honestly about what you saw as to give a truer and first hand account of the country.

  • Sharp Ears

    The skids are under Luciana Berger. All of her tripe about Corbyn and the AS smears. Remember the photo op of her with a police escort at the conference?

    Wavertree Labour group calls special meeting after no confidence votes tabled over MP Luciana Berger
    The Wavertree CLP has called an ‘extraordinary meeting’ next weekend

    Margaret Hodge was adding to the Corbyn smears earlier. Pure slime enabled by Ferrari.

    Margaret Hodge: Corbyn’s Actions Are Racist And He Needs To Say Sorry

  • Anthony

    Q. How do you establish yourself as a senior foreign correspondent in the British press?
    A. By consistently calling it wrong and demonstrating you lack basic understanding of what drives western foreign policy.

    Here’s the Guardian’s Tisdall calling for war without end in Afghanistan and attributing DC’s permanent need of a foreign bogeyman to having fought King George for independence. (Not because of the insatiable greed of the MIC and US TNCs). This is the level of expertise in world affairs at Britain’s primary warmonger newspaper.

      • Ian

        What a comitragic misreading of the piece for your own ideological ends. As a whole, the piece excoriates US and British involvement in Afghanistan, saying at the end if you are going to leave at least try and offer something to help rebuild that shattered society.

        “Put this another way. The British-supported US global war on terror, which has claimed about half a million lives, been waged across 80 nations, corroded respect for human rights and international law, and cost an estimated $5.9tn, was, from the outset, a catastrophic mistake based on a false premise, aggravated by self-righteous arrogance and an unforgivable ignorance of the world beyond America’s shores. At long last, reality dawns!

        Yet wait. Is this a lesson the US leviathan in all its many guises can now safely be assumed to have learned? Not really. Trump’s announcement this week that he plans to redeploy troops and air power from Syria to neighbouring Iraq, in order to “keep watch” on Iran, is the latest clue to Washington’s next Middle East war of choice.
        Perhaps there is something in the nature and psyche of the ever-embattled American republic that means it needs monstrous foreign enemies – hateful bogeymen such as Saddam, Manuel Noriega, Muammar Gaddafi, Nicolás Maduro or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – in order to sustain its own founding myths. King George, the original “tyrant”, was vanquished by force of arms, and they have never forgotten it. It’s a mindset that has to change.

        Instead of threatening to begin a new war with Iran, US leaders should be trying much harder to end the old one in Afghanistan in a responsible, sustainable, humane manner. Don’t just scuttle away. The US should work with all elements of Afghan society, including Taliban moderates – in a civilian, not military, capacity – to reconstruct the country the war destroyed. After 17 or so years of ultimately pointless,criminal mayhem, an apology plus reparations to the Afghan people would be a good start.”

        If you think that is calling for foreign endless war, instead of pointing out that is built into the psyche of American exceptionalism, and has been devastating for the rest of the world, you need your glasses checked.
        How typical of the simplistic prejudices on this site.

        • Anthony

          There is no misreading Tisdall is calling for US troops to renain indefinitely in Afghanistan and believes DC’s hunger for endless wars cones from an attachnent to founding myths rather than the profit imperatives of a permanent war industry that owns Congress. If you took anyhing different from that then I can’t help you.

          • Ian

            He is nothing of the kind. As for his naivety, he is making a valid point about reconstruction – I doubt very much whether he thinks that will actually happen. But the point stands.

        • Laguerre

          The US is never going to reconstruct the societies it destroyed. Tisdall is naive. A reconstruction effort was made in Iraq after 2003, and it just turned into a massive corrupt scam, financing a lot of nice spreads in Virginia for US officials. Better to leave, and let the local people sort themselves out.

          By the way, I don’t think the US is really going to withdraw from Syria into Iraq (perhaps into Kurdistan). The Iraqis are about ready to vote in Parliament for the US to be thrown out. While the Iraqis may not be able to make that stick, we will be back to American troops isolated in their bases, and only be able to travel between them in an armed convoy.

          • Tom Welsh

            If the Americans retreat into Kurdistan they will set themselves up as chronic potential enemies of Turkey as well as Iraq and Syria.

            The ideal outcome, which Mr Trump’s coarse ineptitude is encouraging, would be for Iraq and Syria to join in a loose alliance with Iran and Turkey. Between them they should be able to freeze the USA out of the region, and put up a very tough front against Israel and the Gulf States.

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