Trump will profit from the Dakota Access Pipeline

U.S. Gas Prices Continue To Rise

 

According to The Hill, billionaire President-elect Donald J. Trump owns a stock in Energy Transfer Partners(ETP), the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Associated Press(AP) reports that Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms reveal that he owned between $15,000 to $50,000 in ETP, that’s down from between $500,000 and $1,000,000 the previous year.

“Trump’s investments in the pipeline business threaten to undercut faith in this process — which was already frayed — by interjecting his own financial well-being into a much bigger decision,” stated Sharon Buccino, director of the Land and Wildlife Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a renowned environmental group.

Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, a company that owns a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

Ethics experts speculate that this is among dozens of conflicts of interest that could be resolved if he placed his investments in a blind trust, which he has refused to do. Trump holds ownership stakes in over 500 companies worldwide.

Trump isn’t the only one in politics that’s cashing in on Dakota Access. At least two potential candidates for energy secretary also may benefit from the pipeline. Former Texas Governor  Rick Perry serves on the board of directors of ETP, while candidate Harold Hamm, oil billionaire and owner of Continental Resources, may decide to ship his oil through the pipeline.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, stated the following to the AP on Friday:

“We are in the process of vetting various structures with the goal of the immediate transfer of management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump as well as a team of highly skilled executives. This is a top priority at the organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations.”

Trump will profit from the Dakota Access Pipeline

Clinton’s former CIA Director to be Trump’s National Security Advisor

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gay Marriage

In not-so-recent news, it was announced early in September that former CIA director to the Clinton administration James Woolsey would be serving as President-elect Donald J. Trump’s national security adviser. In an interview on CNN, Woolsey stated that he favors Trump’s defense budget proposal, as Trump has proposed lifting restrictions on defense spending.

“Mr. Trump’s commitment to reversing the harmful defense budget cuts signed into law by the current administration, while acknowledging the need for debt reduction, is an essential step toward reinstating the United States’ primacy in the conventional and digital battlespace,” Woolsey told CNN in a campaign statement, “Mr. Trump understands the magnitude of the threats we face and is holding his cards close to the vest.”

Woolsey added that Trump appears more likely to keep classified information private, “He seems willing to keep a secret and not to blab everything to the public and our opponents. You can’t go yakking about everything you’re interested in. You have to keep your counsel,” he said.

Just one day after the devastating attacks on September 11th, Woolsey immediately suggested that Iraq could be the culprit, before vigorously supporting the failed 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, which Trump has claimed to oppose on numerous occasions.

Woolsey has been a strong proponent of regime change in Iran, and has referred to the country as “the world’s leading terrorist state.” He opposed the Iran nuclear deal on the basis that it would “heighten the chance that the Islamic Republic would detonate an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the United States,” despite zero evidence to support this claim.

James Woolsey has expressed reservations regarding Trump’s controversial admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggestion that he is a ‘strong leader.’

“He may be strong,” Woolsey said, “but he is not always great.”

Woolsey has referred to Russia and North Korea as “problem states,” and when asked about Trump’s proposal for a new relationship with Russia, he stated that it “has to be based on Russian performances, not Russian promises,” adding that, “Russia’s got to stop conquering its neighbours, like Ukraine.” (Despite the fact that Crimea had a majority-vote to join Russia in the wake of the destabilization of the region by Western-backed neo-nazi regimes.)

All of this to say, if you supported Trump in the hopes of seeing a legitimate shift in the United State’s disastrous foreign policy, maybe don’t get your hopes up just yet. Trump may be a seemingly polarizing President-elect, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t malleable. We’ll see how long his friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin will last.

Clinton’s former CIA Director to be Trump’s National Security Advisor

Human Rights Abuses at Standing Rock

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This Thanksgiving week, flagrant human rights violations have been occurring on the front lines of the ongoing struggle to protect the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Native American reservation. The mainstream media has done very little to expose what is really happening in North Dakota as activists are being shot at with rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas canisters.

At least 300 injuries were identified by physicians, nurses and medics associated with The Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council within the span of 10 hours; at least 26 severely injured victims were evacuated via ambulance to 3 different hospitals.

Demonstrators were continuously sprayed with high-pressure water cannons for the first 7 hours in subfreezing temperatures as low as 22 degrees (F) causing hypothermia in the majority of those treated. These water cannons were so powerful they even managed rip skin from flesh, exposing bone.

 

Chemical weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray were extensively used against protesters, triggering severe reactions in many and requiring nearly all patients treated to undergo a decontamination process. Projectiles such as rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades caused numerous cases of blunt force trauma – causing multiple head wounds, lacerations, eye trauma, internal bleeding and severe orthopedic injuries.

In one severe case, a woman by the name of Sophia Wilansky had her arm torn apart by a concussion grenade projectile. Graphic images of the injury have surfaced, you can view them here – but be warned – they are not for the faint of heart. Doctors are saying that they may very well have to amputate. Sophia’s father, Wayne Wilansky, stated that, “The best-case scenario is no pain and 10-20% functionality,” after traveling to Minneapolis where his daughter had undergone eight hours of surgery on Monday. He went on to explain how the arteries median nerve, muscle and bone in her left arm had been quote, “blown away,” by the blunt force trauma of the concussion grenade shot by police.

Other examples include a young man who was vomiting blood after being shot by a rubber bullet, causing him internal bleeding, an elder losing consciousness being revived on scene, a woman with a severe eye injury and compromised vision after being shot in the face with a rubber bullet, a young man experiencing a grand mal seizure, and a man shot in the back by a rubber bullet causing blunt force trauma and a severe head laceration.

This is a clear-cut case of human rights violations and excessive police violence upon peaceful demonstrators. No police officers have been held accountable for this blatant disregard for human rights and dignity.

Human Rights Abuses at Standing Rock

The Legacy of Barack Obama

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Something that is becoming both very apparent and very disturbing to me is the fact that there still exist people who revere the soon-to-be retired US President Barack H. Obama as some kind of liberal hero. Even after 8 long years of maintaining the status quo, catering to the wealthy and continuing military aggression and intervention abroad, this illusory myth is still being perpetuated. It baffles me how rare it is for a person to judge a politician on the basis of their policies rather than just how they sound on television. It is evident that the majority of US citizens tend to live in a metaphorical ‘information bubble,’ being hopelessly detached and ignorant of what’s really going on in the world.

So, without further adieu, here are just a few reasons why it is obvious that President Obama was nothing more than a political tool for the establishment.

1. Civil Rights

The Patriot Act was a bill originally drafted in 2001 by George W. Bush. This atrocious piece of legislation granted the NSA unlimited power to spy on, wire-tap, and harvest the information of any US citizen without a warrant. This bill was a serious violation of the fourth amendment and effectively removed any illusions we may have had about our supposed ‘right to privacy.’ Obama originally claimed to be vigorously opposed to such legislation during his first campaign. But then, wouldn’t you know it, when the bill expired and the time came to either renew or annul it,  Obama chose to renew it and continue the unlawful surveillance. Since then, the Patriot Act expired again in 2015, but the provisions contained in it which permit government spying have been continued through another piece of legislation called the Freedom Act. And surely we haven’t forgotten about Edward Snowden, have we?

On December 31, 2011 Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA). This was a ‘national defense’ bill that essentially authorized the federal government to indefinitely detain or assassinate any U.S. citizen without a trial. Not only that, it guaranteed that Guantanamo Bay, the infamous torture chamber that Obama originally campaigned on closing, will be kept open for the foreseeable future. This bill in effect strips US citizens of their sixth amendment rights and gives the federal government the power to assassinate or arrest you without any form of due process. It also ensures that the human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay will continue. One might also say this legislation has the potential to alienate the Arab population in the US even further by putting them at greater risk of being profiled and unlawfully detained based on their race.

In 2010 the Supreme Court held a case titled Holder v. Humanitarian Law ProjectIn this case the Obama administration proposed legislation which was passed that criminalized a legitimate form of humanitarian aid. This legislation made it illegal for humanitarian groups to meet with individuals branded as ‘suspected terrorists’ (according to a terror watch list that is far from infallible) and encourage them to embrace non-violent means of resistance. To do this would be considered “material assistance to terrorism,” according to the bill. This was a severe attack on individual rights and humanitarian efforts.

2. The Rich got Richer

All you have to do to discern where a politician’s loyalty lies is look at who’s funding their campaign. If the answer is a mass of large corporations and banks, chances are their loyalty does not lie with the working class, but rather with the elite ruling class. Presented here is a list of just a few of Obama’s top campaign donors –

Goldman Sachs

JPMorgan Chase & Co

Citigroup

Time Warner

General Electric

IBM Corp

Morgan Stanley

Wells Fargo

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If that’s not enough, here’s a list of some of the major the banks and corporations Obama bailed out by fleecing the taxpayers of the middle class –

JPMorgan Chase & Co

Wells Fargo

Goldman Sachs

AIG

Fannie Mae

General Motors

Chrysler

Citigroup

American Express

Bank of America

Freddie Mac

Capital Bank

IBW Financial Corporation

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And keep in mind – this is just barely scratching the surface. The list goes on and on. It’s also notable that Obama continued the very same tax-cuts for the rich that Bush put in place. Does that sound like someone who truly cares for the working class?

Moreover, have you ever heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP)? The TPP is an international  trade agreement that President Obama has described as “good for everyone.” This terrible deal restricts internet freedom, threatens the environment, restricts access to medical care, and gives corporations unscrupulous amounts of power over land and resources all over the world, all in one blow. But that’s just a few small provisions within the deal. This is a very large, complex piece of legislation,  and there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Presented below is a video that explains the TPP in more depth:

3. Foreign Policy

This issue is perhaps the most glaring one, yet seems to be what people are typically the most ignorant about. That Obama is some kind of champion of peace who pulled the US out of Iraq is a myth which still seems to be enduring among the less informed of the masses. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the truth is, Obama has bombed twice as many countries as Bush.

The Council on Foreign relations determined that the US dropped a total of 23,144 bombs on Muslim-majority countries in 2015 alone.

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria have killed between 850 to 1,200 civilians in our alleged offensive against ISIS. Not only that, there have also been accounts of US airstrikes targeting Assad regime forces, inadvertently helping  ISIS gain power and territory in the region. That doesn’t even include the amount of innocent people slaughtered by the US-backed ‘Syrian rebels,’ who have admitted to having explicit ties to ISIS and been the recipient of a massive cash-flow of funding, training and artillery from the US. These policies do nothing but fuel the flames of the civil war in Syria and further destabilize the region, which is beneficial to US policy, as it gives us a basis for permanent intervention for our own interests and pursuits.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. airstrikes are killing civilians in Afghanistan at the highest rate in seven years. Since 2010, Obama  has sent a total of 34,000  troops into Afghanistan in an escalation to an already failed occupation that is exhausting our deficit and taking countless innocent lives.

In 2013, Obama increased the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, effectively reversing any progress that was made in the way of ending the occupation and withdrawing our military presence from the region.

Obama’s drone program is perhaps one of the most detestable, inhumane offenses launched by the Obama administration. Studies have shown that nearly 90% of U.S. drone strike victims are not the intended target. Former drone pilot veterans have gone on record to speak out about the inhumanity of the program, stating that  these drone strikes are “aiding terrorist recruitment,” and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters. They have witnessed drone operators regularly referring to children as “fun-sized terrorists,” and likening killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 2,499 and 4,001 people, including 207 children, and injured 1,744. Drone strikes have killed between 2,276 and 2,998 people in Afghanistan, including 181 children, injuring 339.  In Somalia, drone strikes have killed between 242 and 418 people. In Yemen, drone strikes have killed 848 people, including over 100 children, and injuring 132 civilians.

President Obama is also the first Unites States President to have killed a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. Abdulrahem al-Awlaki was a 16 year-old Denver-born Yemeni-American teenager that was assassinated by a drone strike with absolutely no explanation given. Abdularahem was son to Anwar al-Awlaki, a ‘suspected terrorist’ who was never given a trial or proven guilty, nor was any evidence gathered whatsoever that his son had any ties to terrorism. Anwar and his son were killed in two separate attacks, meaning that his 16-year-old son was specifically targeted and assassinated by U.S. drone strike.

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Even though Obama has been portrayed by the media as ‘undermining’ US relations with the state of Israel, the reality is that in terms of policy, Obama has been very generous with the hawkish regime. Obama has increased the flow of military aid to Israel over the passed 8 years, beginning at the start of his presidency when he implimented what he called a ‘Memorandum of Understanding which promised Israel a total of $30 billion in military aid over the following decade. Since then, Obama recently signed a record-high military aid package to Israel of over $38 billion, the largest military aid package in US history. For those who are unaware, Israel is an incredibly militaristic and brutal regime, notorious for war crimes and human rights violations. During Israel’s last bombardment of Gaza, a 51-day operation which the Israeli military called “Operation Protective Edge” over 2,250 Palestinians were killed, 513 of them being children.

All this to say, perhaps this man was given Nobel Peace Prize just a bit too hastily, I think it would be only honest of him to return it.

In closing, it is clear to me that President Obama has, as many politicians do, gone back on his word and failed to keep his promises. It is clear to me that he was little more than a false hope to bleeding heart liberals and radicals all across America. Given a critical analysis of his policies, it is clear that he did little more than protect the status quo, cater to the ruling class, and continue the hawkish aggression and human rights violations which the U.S. is known for — the very same sentiment our new President-elect Donald J. Trump represents. I believe it is very important to acknowledge this and to hold our politicians accountable whether they are a Republican or they are a Democrat.

Brian Hazel

The Legacy of Barack Obama

Israeli Jets launch at least 30 airstrikes in the Gaza strip

Gaza is currently under attack. Palestinians on social media have reported multiple bombings on the Gaza strip today, October 5, 2016.

The last known strike was in Shijaia town, east of Gaza city. Some Gazans were able to capture photos of the strikes from a distance, they are presented below.

At least 30 airstrikes were carried out by Israel’s brand new F-16 fighter jets which were recently supplied to them compliments of U.S. arms manufacturers.

An eyewitness from al-Zaitoun neighborhood stated that Palestinian families whose houses were located at borders were evacuated.

The timing of these attacks is peculiar as they were perpetrated at the same time that the Zaytouna Olivia flotilla, or “Women’s Boat for Gaza” was on route to Gaza with aid in an attempt to break the seige of Gaza. The boat was recently intercepted by the Israeli Navy and is being led to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Injuries and casualties have not yet been reported during these attacks.

Brian Hazel

Israeli Jets launch at least 30 airstrikes in the Gaza strip

Israeli Navy intercepts Flotilla attempting to break siege on Gaza

 

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The Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla was intercepted by the Israeli Navy in international waters today on Wednesday, October 5th.

The Zaytouna-Oliva was a boat carrying 13 female activists who are part of the freedom flotilla known as “Women’s Boat to Gaza.” These activists were attempting to break the decade-long illegal siege of Gaza and provide aid to those in need.

These activists include Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, Malaysian doctor Fauziah Hasan, and retired US army colonel Ann Wright.

These 13 activists began their journey on the 14th of September, setting sail from a port in Barcelona. Just hours ago they were intercepted by the Israeli navy and are being lead to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Ann Wright has sent out an SOS video online informing the public that her and her crew have been captured by the Israeli Navy, urging US citizens to call president Barack Obama and urge him to demand their immediate release. See the video below.

 

 

The Amal-Hope, the second boat in the freedom flotilla, unfortunately broke down before it could begin its journey.

2016 has marked the 10 year anniversary of the devastating siege in Gaza imposed by the state of Israel. Because of the siege, Gazans do not have access to the adequate resources necessary to help them cope with serious health problems, massive impoverishment, destruction of infrastructure and crippling economic instability.

The Palestinian Ministry of health in Gaza has reported chronic shortages of medicines and hospital disposals. “Shelves are empty due to the restrictions imposed by the Israelis on people and goods going in and out of the coastal enclave,” an MOH spokesman stated.

Many attempts to break the siege in Gaza have been made. One of the most notable ones was when a Freedom Flotilla was attacked by Israeli commandos in May of 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the assault and several others were wounded. The ship was towed into an Israeli port and the remaining survivors were then arrested.

Brian Hazel

 

Israeli Navy intercepts Flotilla attempting to break siege on Gaza

Palestinians living in Israel mark Anniversary of devastating October Riots

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On Saturday, October 1st Palestinian ‘Israelis’ marched in the city of Sikhnin to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the Palestinians killed in the deadly October 2000 riots.

Mohammad Barakeh, the head of the High Monitoring Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, made a speech at the rally. He said that Israel had not learned the lessons of the October riots. Barakeh stated that, the Israeli establishment, rather than embracing its Arab minority, was attempting to “tear it apart” and “destroy its political leadership.”

“They will not break our spirit,” said Barakeh, according to the Ynet news website. “We are excluded from all events, and all of a sudden its important for Israel if we participate in the funeral Shimon Peres?”

Shimon Peres, president of the state of Israel from 2007 to 2014, is a highly regarded Israeli official who is often painted as some sort of ‘Peacemaker’ in Israel. However, many people would beg to differ, and regard him instead as a blatant war criminal. Peres very recently passed away on September 28th, 2016.

The Joint List endured much criticism when its party members unanimously decided to boycott the funeral of the late Israeli president Peres.

On October 1st, 2000,  during the height of the Second Intifada, Arab Israeli citizens took to the streets to protest the visit of then opposition leader Ariel Sharon on the Temple Mount. This lead to high tensions and clashes with police. In the heat of the moment, Israeli police officers took the lives of 13 Palestinian protesters.

Brian Hazel

Palestinians living in Israel mark Anniversary of devastating October Riots