Homelessness: Contrasting Japan and the US

Why Japan’s Homeless Are Different from North America’s – Part 1

LWIF (2017)

Film Review

This intriguing five-part documentary series contrasts Japan’s aggressive effort to reduce homelessness with the apparent indifference of the US government. In my view, the stark contrast makes an important statement about the shameful greed and corruption underlying the US political system.

Part 1: The series begins by examining why Japan has always had a much lower endemic rate of homelessness than the US:

  • Japan has much lower levels of drug abuse than the US,* although alcoholism and compulsive gambling are common problems contributing to Japanese homelessness.
  • Japan, which retained its mental hospitals when the US and other English-speaking countries closed theirs down (as a cost cutting measure) in the seventies and eighties.** The majority of America’s mentally ill either end up in prison or on the streets.
  • Japan has few, if any traumatized war veterans. The latter represent a sizeable proportion of the US homeless population.

*Japan has no paramilitary organization comparable to the CIA, which openly engages in narcotics trafficking as part of its strategy to destabilize regimes unfriendly to Wall Street interests.

**In the US, the community mental health movement Kennedy started never received full funding following his assassination. Instead the mental health centers he created to replace mental hospitals have experienced continuous budget cuts dating back to the Reagan administration.

Vietnam: An Unwinnable War from the Outset

The River Styx Episode 3

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night Maori TV showed Part 3 of the Vietnam War series. The title refers to the river dead people cross in Roman mythology to reach the Underworld.

The third episode covers the period 1964-1965 under President Lyndon Johnson. The latter reversed Kennedy’s initiative to withdraw US military “advisors” from Vietnam. Within days of the assassination, the new president increased the number of forces “advising” the South Vietnamese Army to 16,000. He also began secretly bombing and shelling North Vietnam (which was supplying arms to the South Vietnamese Army of Liberation). He concealed the bombing from the US public because 1964 was an election year.

By January 1965, the South Vietnamese Army of Liberation had nearly wiped out the South Vietnamese Army, and Johnson was forced to introduce “conventional” troops. In August 1964, Congress had passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the authority to militarily “assist any Southeast Asian country which was being threatened by Communist aggression.” The Resolution was passed in response to an alleged unprovoked North Vietnamese attack on a US spy ship that, according to declassified documents, never happened.

The introduction of US ground forces would draw the North Vietnamese Army into the war, in support of the South Vietnamese Liberation Army. It would also lead France, Vietnam’s former colonial oppressor, to call for an end to all foreign intervention in Vietnam.

By May, Johnson had sent 50,000 GIs to Vietnam and pledged another 50,00 by the end of 1965. From the outset US troops deliberately waged a “counterinsurgency” war, ie one that clearly targeted civilians. The anger this provoked among the South Vietnamese population greatly enhanced recruitment efforts by the South Vietnamese Liberation Army.

On the domestic front, the introduction of ground troops (via a compulsory draft) would fuel a growing anti-Vietnam War protest movement by mid-1965.

At the end of 1965, General Westmoreland, who commanded US forces during the Vietnam War, requested an additional 200,000 troops. Johnson would comply, even though by that point, he and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara realized the Vietnam War was unwinnable.

 

 

 

What You Never Learned in School About the Vietnam War

 

vietnam war

The Vietnam War

Part 1 “Deja Vu”

Directed by Ken Burns and Lyn Novick (2017)

Film Review

Last night Maori TV started a ten-part series on the Vietnam War. The first episode covers the brutal French occupation of Vietnam (1858-1961) and the rise of Ho Chi Minh and General Giap, considered one of greatest military strategists of the 20th century. It was quite alarming to realize that so much I’ve been taught about Vietnam is pure disinformation.

Among other shocking facts I learned about this shameful chapter in US history:

  • The OSS (Office of Strategic Services – precursor to the CIA) dropped a secret team into Vietnam in 1941 to meet with Ho Chi Minh (who was fighting for independence from the French) and provide his men with arms and military equipment.
  • Immediately after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Ho Chi Minh and his followers overpowered French officials to declare independence, with the support of the OSS.
  • As a senator John F Kennedy unconditionally supported Vietnamese independence and self-determination. He later reverse himself as president.
  • Ho Chi Minh repeatedly wrote to Truman requesting US support after French troops re-invaded Vietnam in 1946. The CIA intercepted the letters and never gave them to the President.
  • The line dividing North and South Vietnam, drawn at a 1954 Geneva peace conference, was purely arbitrary. The Vietcong American troops were fighting was actually a South Vietnamese resistance movement against South Vietnamese dictator Ngo Dinh Diem.

This first episode is aptly named “Deja Vu” – this wouldn’t be the last time OSS/CIA- backed “freedom fighters” would go on to bite the US government in the butt.

How the US Uses War to Protect the Dollar

The Gods of Money

William Engdahl (2015)

The first video is a 2015 presentation by William Engdahl about his 2010 book The Gods of Money. It focuses on the use of US economic and military warfare to maintain the supremacy of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

As his point of departure, he begins with the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, in which the Allied powers agreed to use the gold-backed US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. In 1971 when Nixon was forced to end the gold standard,* the gold-backed US dollar was replaced by the “petrodollar.” According to Engdahl, it was so named because of a secret agreement the US made with Saudi Arabia – in return for a guarantee that OPEC would only trade oil in US dollars, the US guaranteed the Saudis unlimited military hardware.

In this way, oil importing nations (most of the world) were forced to retain substantial US dollar reserves. This was the only way they could provide their economies with a continuous supply of oil.

The petrodollar remained supreme until the mid-1980s, when the collapse of the US Savings and Loan industry (a pre-cursor of the 2007 banking collapse) raised concerns in Europe that the US was failing as a super power. Fearing the US economy was collapsing, they created the euro and the Eurozone, to prevent the Soviet Union or China from filling the power vacuum.

The financial warfare unit of the US treasury responded by feeding hedge fund manager and currency speculator George Soros secret information that enabled him to lead an attack on the British pound. This, in turn, destabilized the British economy to the point the UK no longer qualified to join the euro.

In 1997 the US Treasury and Soros made a a similar attack on economies of Southeast Asia (Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines) that attempted to use currencies other than the dollar as their reserve currencies.

In 2010, after the US government had run three years of $1 trillion deficits, China, Russia and Japan announced their intention of selling US Treasury bonds (which the US government sells to finance its debt) to increase their euro reserves. Concerned this placed the US dollar on the brink of catastrophic collapse, the US Treasury and Soros attacked the Euro directly by collapsing the Greek economy. The mechanism Soros used was to direct his hedge funds to dump the sovereign treasury bonds that financed Greek debt.** When the European Central Bank announced its commitment to a Greek bail-out, the US Treasury and Soros followed up with an attack on Irish, Spanish and Portuguese sovereign bonds.


*A US economic crisis led to massive foreign demand for US dollar redemption that threatened to deplete US gold reserves.

** The immediate effect of bondholders dumping Greek bonds raised interest rates on Greek debt to a level that threatened to bankrupt their government.

 

 

The second clip is a Guns and Butter radio interview with Engdahl. It focuses on a second area the Gods of Money covers, namely the long US battle to abolish their private central bank (aka the Federal Reserve) and end the ability of private banks to create money out of thin air (see How Banks Create Money Out of Thin Air).

After a brief explanation of fractional reserve banking, whereby 97% of our money is created by private banks, Engdahl traces the history of the First Bank of the United States, created by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. The latter was the first US central bank, 80% owned by private (mostly Rothschild-controlled) banks in the City of London and 20% owned by the US government. President James Madison’s refusal to renew the bank’s charter in 1811 would result in Britain and the US going to war in 1812.

When the war ended in 1815, the American war debt was so substantial, the US had no choice but to charter the Second Bank of the United States, which once again was 80% controlled by London banks.

In 1832, Andrew Jackson refused to renew the bank’s charter, and the US had no central bank between 1832 and 1913. In 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson secretly colluded with the global banking establishment to create the Federal Reserve.

Both Lincoln and Kennedy challenged the exclusive role private banks play in creating the US money supply – Lincoln by issuing greenbacks (rather than borrowing money from private banks) to pay for the civil war and Kennedy by issuing silver certificates directly redeemable by the US Treasury. In both cases, Engdahl feels their defiance of the international banking establishment played a role in the decision to assassinate them.

Untold History of the US – JFK to the Brink

In Part 6 of Untold History of the United States, filmmaker Oliver Stone reveals that Kennedy vacillated between supporting and opposing the anti-communist Pentagon hawks who tried to control his foreign policy.

  • In 1960, JFK made the “missile gap” (ie the so-called Soviet advantage in strategic weapons) a major plank of his campaign – only to discover (on taking office) that the US was far ahead in every category.
  • Under pressure from the CIA and Joint Chiefs, he initially approved the Bay of Pigs invasion, only to refuse to authorize air support when he discovered they had lied to him about domestic Cuban support for the invasion.
  • After the bungled Bay of Pigs operation, he fired Allen Dulles and other top CIA officials and placed all overseas CIA operations under State Department control. At the same time, he also put his brother Bobby in charge of Operation Mongoose, a secret program in Louisiana to train Cuban exiles to overthrow and/or poison Castro (Joan Mellen discusses Bobby’s role at length in her 2013 book on the JFK assassination – see New Evidence in the JFK Assassination).
  • He resisted pressure from the Joint Chiefs to invade Laos.
  • Despite resisting pressure from the Pentagon to increase arms expenditures, in 1961 he warned the American people against dangerous Soviet aggression and encouraged them to build fallout shelters.
  • He approved the deployment of 16,000 advisors (in addition to CIA personnel) to engage in guerilla warfare in Vietnam. He also approved Operation Phoenix, which involved massive defoliation of the Vietnamese with cancer and birth defect-causing Agent Orange, the assassination of labor leaders and human rights advocates and the mass displacement of Vietnamese civilians into concentration camps.
  • He resisted pressure from the Joint Chiefs to launch a nuclear strike on Cuba when a U2 spy plane discovered the Soviets had supplied Castro with nuclear-tipped ICBMs.

Most of the episode focuses on the naval blockade JFK imposed on Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis and the delicate negotiations between him and Khrushchev to prevent this event from escalating into full blown nuclear war.

It’s Stone’s view that both Kennedy and Khrushchev lost control of their militaries during this period. According to Stone, it was down to a single brave Soviet submarine commander that global nuclear annihilation was averted in 1962. He believes the near-miss in Cuba caused Kennedy to rethink US involvement in Vietnam – and issue National Security Memorandum 263 in summer 1963. The latter ordered the gradual withdrawal of all US forces from Vietnam to commence in December 1963.

Johnson would reverse this directive within weeks of the JFK assassination.

Part 6 – JFK to the Brink

Is the President Being Blackmailed?

surveillance

 Whistleblower Reveals NSA Spied on Obama Before 2004

In 2005, NSA whistleblower Russ Tice exposed illegal and unconstitutional NSA involvement in widespread surveillance against lawmakers, the Supreme Court and the American public. In the video below, he reveals the NSA was spying on Barack Obama long before his 2004 election to the senate.

Back in 2005, the corporate media dismissed Tice’s allegations, based on NSA assertions he was mentally ill and a liar. Now, based on Edward Snowden’s momentous disclosures, he feels 75% of his claims have been vindicated. He promises there are even more shocking disclosures to come.

Tice states that the Washington Post informed the NSA two weeks before Snowden went public that they had a leak, necessitating Snowden’s urgent flight from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

He also reveals that NSA was already spying on Obama and his family and staff long even before he ran for the US senate. He hypothesizes the NSA may be blackmailing the President, just as former FBI director J Edgar Hoover used his extensive files on Kennedy’s sex life to blackmail John F Kennedy.

According to Tice, this may explain why Obama has reversed himself on so many of his campaign promises, especially those related to the restoration of constitutional civil liberties.

Former intelligence insider Wayne Madsen and other pundits have speculated that Obama is being blackmailed over gay sexual activity in his past.

photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc