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Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.

The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.  

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.  Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.

In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.

He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of  the September 11 attacks.

This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

Karachi, 28 September 2001, pp. 1 and 7.

Ummat’s introduction

Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.

The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.

Following is the interview in full detail:

Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?

Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.

Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.

There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?

Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .

The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.

However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .

Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.

According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.

Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.

They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.

Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.

Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?

Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?

Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.

We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.

Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?

Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.

Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.

Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.

Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?

Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.

The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.

Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?

Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.

These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.

Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?

Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.

Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?

Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

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Today’s Most Popular Stories

October 15th, 2013 by Global Research News

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:

“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.

As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”

“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”

….

LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.

In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:

A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”

It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.

French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.

Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.

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Salafism and the CIA: Destabilizing the Russian Federation?

September 14th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.

The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.[1]

The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.

Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.

The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.

Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.

Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.

Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH, [2] a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda.[3] Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.

As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.

The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.[4]

At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists. [5] It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.

By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda,[6] unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. [7]

*  *  *

WWIII Scenario

*  *  *

 

Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.[8]

Before and…After Salafist Taliban …

While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.

As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” [9]

The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.

The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.

Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.

Salafism and the CIA

The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:

Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” [10]

It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone.[11] There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.

Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden.  [12]

During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:

…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.[13]

After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. [14]

According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus,  “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” [15]

“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” [16]

Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.[17]

The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed  regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.

By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party,[18] and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. [19]

Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.

In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.[20]

This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” [21]

Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.[22]

Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.” [23] Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. [24]

The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. [25]

Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.[26]

The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney, [27] indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China.[28] Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.

F. William Engdahl*  is the author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

Notes:

[1] Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120830/175517955.html.

[2] Mairbek  Vatchagaev, The Kremlin’s War on Islamic Education in the North Caucasus, North Caucasus Analysis Volume: 7 Issue: 34, accessed in http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3334

[3] Iason Athanasiadis, Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?, The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2010, accessed in http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0601/Targeted-by-Israeli-raid-Who-is-the-IHH.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

[6] UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”

[7] Tom Jones, Czech NGO rejects Russian reports of link to alleged Islamist terrorists al-Qaeda, May 10, 2011, accessed in http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/society/czech-ngo-rejects-russian-reports-link-alleged-islamist-terrorists-al-qaeda?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=enprofil&utm_campaign=twennews.

[8] The Times of India, Laden ordered Bamyan Buddha destruction, The Times of India, March 28, 2006.

[9] Dr. Alan Godlas, Sufism — Sufis — Sufi Orders:

[10] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, Center for Islamic Pluralism, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia

[11] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia.

[12] Robert Duncan, Islamic Terrorisms Links to Nazi Fascism, AINA, July 5, 2007, accessed in http://www.aina.org/news/2007070595517.htm.

[13] Marc Erikson, Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2), AsiaTimes.Online, November 8, 2002, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK08Ak03.html.

[14] Ibid.

[15] John Loftus, The Muslim Brotherhood, Nazis and Al-Qaeda,  Jewish Community News, October 11, 2006, accessed in http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/loftus101106.htm

[16] Ibid.

[17] Charlie Skelton, The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?: The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …, London Guardian, 12 July 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking.

[18] Aidan Lewis, Profile: Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, BBC News, 25 October 2011, accessed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15442859.

[19] Hassan Hassan, Syrians are torn between a despotic regime and a stagnant opposition: The Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived monopoly over the Syrian National Council has created an opposition stalemate, The Guardian, UK, 23 August, 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/syrians-torn-despotic-regime-stagnant-opposition.

[20] Stefan J. Bos, Egypt Christians Killed After Election of Morsi, Bosnewslife, June 30, 2012, accessed in http://www.bosnewslife.com/22304-egypt-christians-killed-after-election-morsi.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Irfan Al-Alawi, Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Sufis, Guardian Online [London],

April 11, 2011, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/1770/egyptian-Muslim-fundamentalists-attack-sufis

[23] Yafiah Katherine Randall, UNESCO urges Libya to stop destruction of Sufi sites, August 31, 2012, Sufi News and Sufism World Report, accessed in http://sufinews.blogspot.de/.

[24] Jamie Dettmer, Libya elections: Muslim Brotherhood set to lead government, 5 July, 2012, The Telegraph, London, accessed in http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9379022/Libya-elections-Muslim-Brotherhood-set-to-lead-government.html.

[25] Luke Harding, Chris Stephen, Chris Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack: Ambassador and three other American embassy staff killed after Islamist militants fired rockets at their car, say Libyan officials, London Guardian, 12 September 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/12/chris-stevens-us-ambassador-libya-killed.

[26] Murad Batal al-Shishani, Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, 8 March 2012, accessed in  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17402856.

[27] David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.

“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”

[28] M.K. Bhadrakumar, Calling the China-Russia split isn’t heresy, Asia Times,  September 5, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NI05Ad01.html.

 

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O Bolsonarismo chegou na Suíça?

September 24th, 2020 by Franklin Frederick

Na madrugada desta última segunda-feira, dia 21 de setembro, um grande número de jovens do movimento da Greve pelo Clima na Suíça, ocupou a Praça Federal em Berna, situada em frente ao Palácio Federal – daí seu nome – sede do Governo e do Parlamento da Suíça. Os jovens montaram diversas barracas e estruturas onde podiam se realizar encontros e pequenos eventos. Esta ocupação foi extremamente bem organizada e respeitosa das condições atuais em que nos encontramos – praticamente TODOS os jovens e envolvidos na ocupação usavam máscaras devido à pandemia do COVID-19. O principal objetivo desta ação era atrair a atenção para a urgência da crise climática e exigir do Governo Suíço medidas concretas contra o aquecimento global. Como escrito no documento que apresenta as exigências  do movimento ( ver em inglês em: Rise Up for Change)

“ Já fazem muitos anos que milhões de pessoas têm se mobilizado contra a ameaça de catástrofe climática. No entanto, a urgência do problema não se reflete nos procedimentos políticos da Suíça. Consideramos que nós, que estamos preocupados com um futuro para todos em que valha a pena viver, estamos sendo deixados para trás. Áreas como a agricultura e o setor financeiro são completamente ignorados na política climática da Suíça, apesar de serem largamente responsáveis pela degradação ambiental e pela crise climática. Ao mesmo tempo, os líderes da economia  ainda estão apegados ao conto de fadas do crescimento eterno. Eles não estão interessados no nosso futuro e só querem aumentar a sua riqueza e influência.

O atual sistema político e econômico falhou completamente em dar uma resposta à crise climática. Temos de nos libertar dos sistemas sociais, econômicos e políticos que exploram o homem e a natureza com o único propósito de enriquecer alguns. É tempo de redefinir a nossa sociedade para que seja possível um futuro ecológico e social.” (Tradução do Autor)

Este pequeno texto coloca o problema com a clareza e a transparência necessárias. Em relação à Suíça, uma única frase deste documento, no capítulo sobre ‘Justiça Climática’, coloca a exigência central com a mesma clareza:

“A Suíça deve reconhecer a sua responsabilidade histórica e global pela crise climática e agir de acordo.”

Nada mais justo. Como era de se esperar, a ação dos jovens ativistas pelo clima, em frente à sede do Governo da Suíça, atraiu a atenção da imprensa, dos políticos e da sociedade em geral. Várias TVs da Suíça, nas principais línguas do país – alemão, francês e italiano – enviaram equipes ao local. 

No acampamento havia um clima de alegria e de paz, muitas cores por todos os lados. Em nenhuma momento a ocupação colocou qualquer impedimento ao funcioanamento do Governo Suíço, não havia bloqueio à entrada do Palácio Federal. Tampouco houve qualquer atividade violenta ou mesmo barulho que pudesse atrapalhar o funcioamento do Parlamento que estava – e ainda está – em sessão.

Porém uma antiga lei da cidade de Berna proíbe manifestações na Praça Federal quando o Parlamento se encontra em sessão. Uma outra lei também proíbe que se acampe na praça.

Os partidos políticos de direita e muitos cidadãos suíços, incomodados pela manifestação dos jovens, passaram a exercer uma agressividade comparável – se não em números, pois a Suíça tem uma população muito menor que a do Brasil, pelo menos em virulência– ao que assitimos com o Bolsonarismo no Brasil. A maioria da imprensa foi  hostil  em relação ao movimento – como no Brasil em relação ao PT… – e vários parlamentares, sob o pretexto das leis que mencionei acima, exigiram que a admistração da cidade de Berna, responsável pela segurança do Palácio Federal e do Parlamento, expulsasse imediatamente os manifestantes. O governo da cidade procurou em primeiro lugar um diálogo com os ativistas, propondo que eles se retirassem. Mas os ativistas anunciaram sua intenção de manter a ocupação até a próxima sexta-feria, com o objetivo de lembrar ao Parlamento em sessão a necessidade de confrontar-se com a realidade das mudanças climáticas. 

Na madrugada desta quarta-feira a força policial invadiu o acampamento e expulsou os manifestantes que resistiram apenas pela não-violência, mantendo-se sentados, cantando, até serem retirados.

A questão da ilegalidade da ocupação foi o tema principal das dicussões, não a questão climática! Alguns bravos parlamentares suíços, em defesa dos ativistas, apontaram para esta contradição, como a Parlamentar do Partido Social -Democrata Jacqueline Badran de Zurique que deu um depoimento ao vivo na TV da Suíça, face a jornalistas que insistiam em perguntar sobre a questão da legalidade da ocupação, ignorando propositadamente a causa do movimento.

É preciso dizer que há muitas coisas que são absolutamente legais mas não são éticas. O acaparamento de fontes de água pela empresa Suíça Nestlé em todo o mundo para o engarrafamento, prudizindo uma enorme quantida de lixo plástico pelo qual a empresa não tem nenhuma responsabilidade,  é absolutamente legal, mas não é ético. A produção e venda de venenos pela empresa Syngenta – que contamina os solos e a água em vários países, que provoca o envenenamento e a morte de inúmeros agricultores e camponeses – é absolutamente legal. E no caso da Syngenta é até mesmo legal que a empresa continue a produzir e exportar para os países do sul tipos de pesticidas declarados ilegais pela Suíça e pela União Européia!

O confronto em Berna entre os ativistas e a lei foi um conflito entre a ética e a legalidade. Há certamente uma ética acima mesmo das leis e os direitos da  natureza e a sobrevivência do planeta  devem ter precedência sobre qualquer outra questão, mesmo de ordem legal.

Por enquanto, nesta batalha na capital da Suíça, a pequenez e a mediocridade venceram a esperança , a alegria e a racionalidade. Não haveria nenhum problema em deixar os manifestantes permancerem pacificamente na Praça Federal e usar a manifestação como uma oportunidade – como vários parlamentares suíços tentaram – de diálogo mais amplo com a juventude e sobre a urgência do problema da mudança climática. Seria uma demonstração de responsabilidade, de preocupação real com o destino do planeta e de cuidado com as futuras gerações.

Mas a histeria capitalista alimentada por parte da imprensa e pela direita suíça, vocejando em todos os meios  e exigindo respeito à LEI e à ORDEM  foi mais forte. Muitos dos parlamentares suíços que defenderam o movimento dos jovens sofreram críticas e agressões inacreditáveis nas redes socias, exatamente como o Bolsonarismo mais exaltado se comporta no Brasil. Pois na base do Bolsonarismo há a mesma histeria capitalista presente em todos os movimentos da extrema direita no mundo, o pânico e a indignação diante de qualquer questionamento sobre a prioridade do capital, a raiva incontida e visceral por quem quer  que ouse defender outras prioridades – seja o meio ambiente, a dignidade do trabalho, os direitos humanos ou o próprio planeta. Pois o capital quer e precisa estar acima de tudo, acima da própria vida. Cabe à natureza se submeter aos ditames do capital, e, junto com a maioria dos seres humanos, curvar-se à exploração capitalista e ao domíno do lucro acima de tudo. Os jovens em Berna defendiam outras prioridades e com sua alegria, inteligência e determinação, apontavam outros caminhos, por isso tinham que ser expulsos. Mas esta foi apenas uma batalha, a luta continua. De um modo ou de outro uma brecha se abriu também na sociedade suíça, o debate vai continuar.

E do Brasil veio uma mensagem de solidariedade inesperada e fundamental para o movimento suíço: uma carta de apoio endereçada ao próprio Governo Suíço, enviada ao Embaixador da Suíça em Berna, assinada por lideranças de alguns dos principais movimentos sociais do Brasil como o MST e por 54 Parlamentares brasileiros. Esta carta já está em poder dos ativistas e de muitos parlamentares e personalidades suíças. (Sobre a carta ver artigo: brasildefato.com.br)

E deste modo nos unimos na luta contra o Bolsonarismo, contra o capitalismo desvairado e histérico, tanto no Brasil como na Suíça. Pelo futuro do Planeta, com generosidade, ternura , coragem e determinação.

Franklin Frederick

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Europe Needs China to Become an Independent Global Power

September 24th, 2020 by Paul Antonopoulos

For China, a strategic alliance with the EU will further develop the Belt and Road Initiative across the vast expanse of Eurasia. For the EU, China can help “the Old Continent” once again become a major global political and economic center as it once was before the rise of the US in the “New World.” At the virtual summit held on September 14 between Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the necessity to “accelerate negotiations on an investment agreement between China and the EU and close the deal this year” was emphasized. However, there are many problems they face – the trade war with the US, EU tensions with Turkey, and more importantly, the differences on economic, political and diplomatic issues.

The Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin think tank described the EU as “a ship adrift without navigation tools” because of its “total inability to forecast” events and the lack of “operational instruments” to solve its problems, internally and internationally. Indeed, the European Commission has enormous difficulties in defining a common policy for current challenges, as can be seen with the huge split between Mediterranean and Northern Europe in how to deal with Turkish aggression against EU members Greece and Cyprus.

Chinese state-owned Global Times, considered the international mouthpiece of Beijing, wrote after the summit that despite

“ideological differences between China and Europe […] the two sides continue to expand their cooperation and interactions. This is the general trend of China-Europe ties. The desire of both sides to keep strengthening the trend is real. It is a wish not only at the national levels, but also from their companies.”

Xi called on the EU to adhere to peaceful coexistence, multilateralism, dialogue and openness. However, the EU insists on demanding that barriers to European investments in China be eliminated and on having greater access to the Chinese market, especially in areas reserved only for Chinese companies. The European Commissioner stressed that “it is not a question of meeting halfway, it is a question of rebalancing the asymmetry and a question of openness of our respective markets. China has to convince us that it is worth having an investment agreement.”

Andrew Small, an EU-China expert with the US-based German Marshall Fund, said

“The language and tone from the European side is continuing its shift into the new era, in which competition and rivalry are coming to the fore, and the areas of partnership look limited and difficult.”

Although China is a vital commercial partner for Germany, they are also undoubtedly competitors, which could explain why the EU, led by Berlin, vocally condemns Beijing’s alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur minority in China’s western Xinjiang province and the crackdown on Hong Kong rioters. According to renowned Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar, the EU’s focus on events in Xinjiang and Hong Kong is to pressure China to open its markets.

Global Times pondered on how the EU would react

“if China demands Europe to solve its issues of migration, offer solutions to countries like France, Spain and the UK in dealing with separatist movements, and demands that Europe cope with the COVID-19 epidemic in certain specific ways, because reducing infections and deaths is a crucial human rights issue for China, would Europe accept it? Would Europeans feel offended?”

Signing the investment agreement before the end of the year will not be easy since the differences between the EU and China is massive. Strong US pressure against Europe in its dispute with Huawei, as well as with Germany over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, have managed to weaken European interests. For Europe, its priorities in its relations with Beijing is market access to help alleviate the acute crisis experienced by entire industries because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to being able to project itself as an independent power on the global stage and in its relations with China.

For China, the European market is vital due to the volume and quality of its consumption. Expanding the Belt and Road Initiative into Europe is one of the main pillars of China’s 21st century foreign policy.

Moscow will also benefit from strong relations between the EU and China since much of the Belt and Road Initiative will pass through Russian territory, serving as a connection between East Asia and Western Europe. An uninterrupted trade corridor across Eurasia will lessen European dependence on the US. This too would be in the minds of European leaders as they try and reassert their own independence in the Age of Multipolarity – but this cannot be achieved without China, meaning the major differences between Beijing and Brussels must be resolved in the swiftest manner.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

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America’s Broken Syria Project

By Tony Cartalucci, September 24, 2020

The confrontation with Russia and the decision to boost America’s military presence in Syria is but a microcosm of America’s wider struggle to maintain its invasive primacy over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Failing Palestinian Self-determination

By Michael Jansen, September 24, 2020

Founded to ensure peace and security for all peoples,  the UN enabled the Israeli conquest of Palestine, beginning with the adoption in  November 1947 of resolution 181 to partition this Arab country, allocating  55 per cent to European Jewish colonists and 45 per cent to indigenous Palestinians.

The Perversion of Science to Clear the Way for the Imposition of Compulsory Vaccines

By Prof. Anthony J. Hall, September 24, 2020

Some of those plotting to advance the vaccine agenda sought to sideline the adoption of hydroxychloroquine as the main remedy for COVID-19. They resorted to a well-organized crime that seemed to fly the banner of science while actually defying its evidence-based  requirements.

Video: Iran Says Houthis Use Its Military Knowhow in Battle Against Saudi Arabia

By South Front, September 24, 2020

Iran has supplied Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) with technical expertise and know-how, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on September 22.

Chief Science Officer for Pfizer Says “Second Wave” Faked on False-Positive COVID Tests, “Pandemic Is Over”

By Ralph Lopez, September 24, 2020

In a stunning development, a former Chief Science Officer for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says “there is no science to suggest a second wave should happen.” The “Big Pharma” insider asserts that false positive results from inherently unreliable COVID tests are being used to manufacture a “second wave” based on “new cases.”

The Program to Mask Society is a Grotesque Governmental Manipulation of a Frightened and Confused Public.

By Prof. Bill Willers, September 23, 2020

The dramatic reversal in official U.S. policy regarding facial masking is epitomized by, first, the May, 2020 report of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in which facial masks are acknowledged to be ineffective in blocking viral transmission, this followed two months later by CDC’s inexplicable July, 2020 recommendation that the public be masked.

Public Health Lessons Learned from Biases in Coronavirus Mortality Overestimation

By Dr. Ronald B. Brown, September 23, 2020

In testimony before US Congress on March 11, 2020, members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee were informed that estimated mortality for the novel coronavirus was 10-times higher than for seasonal influenza. Additional evidence, however, suggests the validity of this estimation could benefit from vetting for biases and miscalculations.


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About a month ago, I sent a copy of the the “No mask? We won’t ask” poster to Wolfgang and Almut Wurzbacher, owners of Pfenning’s Organic & More. Their family-run, organic grocer offers home delivery to customers in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Southwestern Ontario. The poster was designed for small businesses to post (where legal) in their front window beside the “wear a face diaper” propaganda the government forces them to show us.

In their district (like most of Canada) one can claim an exemption from mask wearing for physical or mental health reasons — or even religious reasons. Thus, the staff at Pfenning’s Organic is able to avoid being forced to collect and diffuse bacteria in front of their nose; likewise they don’t make such unhygienic requests of their customers.

Notwithstanding, they still had to put a government issued sign telling their customers to wear a mask. “Yes, we do need the official signs or we would be in big trouble,” says Almut. “We tape them to the bottom of the entrance door. They never said where on the door to post them.” At eye-level, instead, they have placed the “No mask? We won’t ask” sign.

Soon after posting it, Almut wrote me: “You and us created a commotion on Twitter… many people called us regarding seeing [the “No mask? We won’t ask” sign] in our window [in a Tweeted photo]. Must have been a customer posting it.”

Indeed, the following Tweet was made:

Almut added: “[We have] had calls from all over Ontario and new customers are coming in because of the sign.”

Can you imagine? Canadians seeking a place to buy food without being ridiculed. Canada is probably one of the most “inclusive” countries in the world. A non-binary transvestite, with blue skin and five fishing hooks piercing each lip, can walk into a store without being ridiculed in anyway. Yet if you dare enter many stores (not Pfennings!) with a friendly and smiling face you could easily be subject to public shaming because of a fashionable public health dictate that lacks any scientific evidence.

In addition to new customers, the sign also attracted the attention of the local by-law officer. “We had three complaints to the law by customers,” Almut told me. “Had the by-law officer here, standing and studying [the “No Mask? We won’t ask”] sign for a while. She did come in but could not fault us for anything.”

Whatever freedoms the laws of your land let you exercise, exercise them to the max. Let’s look to the courageous example of Pfenning’s Organic & More. They didn’t let snitching customers intimidate them into bowing down to tyrannical dictates (masquerading as protection) from their local government. Almut and Wolfgang stood their ground, have retained their liberty to operate their store with humanity and kindness; while attracting new, like-minded customers who can come (without a mask) to their store, or order online and have Wolfgang (without a mask) deliver to their door.

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John C. A. Manley has spent over a decade ghostwriting for medical doctors, as well as naturopaths, chiropractors and Ayurvedic physicians. He publishes the COVID-19(84) Red Pill Daily Briefs – an email-based newsletter dedicated to preventing the governments of the world from using an exaggerated pandemic as an excuse to violate our freedom, health, privacy, livelihood and humanity. He is also writing a novel, Brave New Normal: A Dystopian Love Story. Visit his website at: MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: (From left to right) Owners Wolfgang and Almut Wurzbacher with staff Andrea and Kate of Pfenning’s Organic & More holding the “No mask? We won’t ask” sign they display in their shop window.

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America’s Broken Syria Project

September 24th, 2020 by Tony Cartalucci

A recent altercation between Russian forces and US occupiers in northeastern Syria helped highlight the increasingly tenuous position Washington holds not only in Syria but across the entire Middle East.

After attempting to block Russian military vehicles, US forces found themselves being literally plowed out of the way with overwhelming Russian airpower hovering overhead.

After complaining that American troops were “injured” in the incident and condemning Russia for “unsafe and unprofessional actions,” the United States announced that it was deploying more troops and military equipment to bolster its illegal occupation of Syrian territory.

The US also claimed its continued presence in Syria officially seeks to confront and eliminate the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS), but official accounts maintained by the US government and the US Department of Defense on an almost daily basis provide a wide and every-shifting number of excuses.

On September 20th “Inherent Resolve’s” Twitter account would announce:

Bradley Fighting Vehicles provide the rapid flexibility needed to protect critical petroleum resources.

The region the US occupies is also where the majority of Syria’s petroleum is extracted and America’s “protection” of these resources is part of a wider strategy – not to fight ISIS – but to deny the Syrian state which has eliminated ISIS from all territory it controls – both energy and revenue from its own natural resources.

In essence, the US is in Syria weakening the Syrian government who has led the fight against ISIS and provoking confrontations with Russia who has been key in aiding Damascus against ISIS, Al Nusra, and other affiliates of Al Qaeda.

The US had been in Syria a full year before Russia’s invitation by Damascus to aid in security operations against ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates in 2015. The Russian military promptly began bombing supply lines feeding ISIS and other terrorist groups from across the Syrian border in Turkey. ISIS’ fighting capacity rapidly collapsed and remains isolated in pockets made inaccessible by America’s continued occupation of Syrian territory.

A Microcosm of America’s Wider MENA Failure

The confrontation with Russia and the decision to boost America’s military presence in Syria is but a microcosm of America’s wider struggle to maintain its invasive primacy over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Despite beginning the 21st century with an overwhelming military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and expanding its involvement in the region in 2011 through the US-engineered “Arab Spring” – US power and influence has visibly waned. Its attempts to control virtually every aspect of Iraq’s internal politics has faltered in the face of Iraqis seeking alternative ties with neighboring Iran.

While Washington successfully toppled the government of Libya in 2011, it has failed to do likewise in Syria. Not only has it failed to oust the Syrian government, it has transformed the nation into a vector for alternative emerging global powers to contest and roll back US influence in the region. This most notably includes Russia but also Iran and China.

If at the turn of the century hundreds of thousands of US troops could not transform the region favorably for Washington, its provocative but small actions in eastern Syrian will unlikely make any difference now.

Against this backdrop is also Washington’s ongoing confrontation with Iran. It’s creation then predictable withdrawal from its “Iran Nuclear Deal” has exposed the US as a malign global player acting in bad faith. Its attempts to pressure and isolate Iran have increasingly transformed into a wider campaign to pressure and coerce a growing number of nations around the globle interested in trade and normal relations with Tehran.

The US has fewer and fewer cards to play in the region and more specifically in Syria. If Syria and its allies can find ways around crippling economic sanctions the US is using to ravage the Syrian public and undermine Damascus’ ability to ensure ISIS’ defeat endures – the US will be left with empty hands, overextended, and exposed in Syria’s eastern deserts.

The more confrontational Washington gets with Syria, Russia, and China the easier it will be for each of these nations to justify actions taken to preserve and protect their collective interests – as well as win over a larger percent of the global community to support them in these efforts. Stability is a central key to prosperity. America’s foreign policy has fully revealed itself to be a global engine of instability that is costing even its own supposed allies socioeconomic opportunities and stability.

US foreign policy is unsustainable. Those still aiding it including Turkey are preparing for direct confrontations Syria and its allies will actively avoid – and if successful – will simply surround, cut off, and let whither the presence of these uninvited foreign forces occupying Syrian territory. While it is too late for America’s “Syria project” to ever succeed in its original goal of regime change, it is not still too late for it to divest from its spiteful campaign to sink the region, its people, and their allies into a quagmire that will only further leave Washington and its allies isolated and impotent upon the global stage.

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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Failing Palestinian Self-determination

September 24th, 2020 by Michael Jansen

The UN is marking its 75th birthday with a virtual opening of the 75th session of the General Assembly. While UN agencies have carried out successful  humanitarian assistance  and research programmes, peacekeeping missions and efforts to protect the rights of peoples subjected to repression and abuse, the UN’s political organs, the General Assembly and Security  Council, have failed to keep the peace and deal with flagrant injustice. Palestine continues to be its most infamous catastrophe as the UN  has colluded in the dispossession of that  country’s indigenous population.  

Among the 49 original signatories of the UN Charter, which came into  effect in October 1945, were Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia  and Syria. Today the UN has 193 full members. Palestine, a non-member observer state, languishes while waiting to be admitted as the 194th full member.

Palestine is not recognised as a state by the US, Israel, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Canada  and the usual supporters of Western positions.  Both Russia and China recognised the state of Palestine in 1988 following the declaration of Palestinian independence during a meeting of the Palestinian-parliament-in-exile in Algiers.  Of the 193 UN members, 138 have recognised Palestine as compared with 162 which have recognised Israel, although it occupies the whole of Palestine illegally.

Founded to ensure peace and security for all peoples,  the UN enabled the Israeli conquest of Palestine, beginning with the adoption in  November 1947 of resolution 181 to partition this Arab country, allocating  55 per cent to European Jewish colonists and 45 per cent to indigenous  Palestinians.  The partition resolution was adopted by the General Assembly only after the US exerted pressure on countries which had intended to vote against or abstain.  It is interesting to note that the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries voted in favour while Britain, which promoted Zionist colonisation of Palestine, abstained. Naturally, Arab UN members  and the US voted against along with India, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece and Cuba.

A “recommendation” rather than a mandatory measure, the partition  resolution provided dubious legitimacy for the Zionist take-over of  55 per cent of Palestine but not the seizure of 78 per cent of the country and the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in the months  that followed 181’s adoption. This can only be seen as a monumental failure of the international body founded to maintain global peace and security and preserve human rights. There was a feeble effort to make partial amends to the Palestinians in December  1948 with the adoption of resolution 194 which, in paragraph 11, called for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees and compensation for their losses.

This resolution has fallen by the wayside.  Although Israeli UN membership  was conditioned on its implementation of resolutions 181 and 194, this requirement was ignored by Israel and its mainly Western supporters.

In late 1949 the General Assembly created an independent humanitarian organisation, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to provide shelter, food, medical care, education and welfare for homeless Palestinians.  The intention was that they would ultimately be absorbed by countries where they had taken refuge or elsewhere outside Palestine.  This did not happen because Palestinians remained, and insist on remaining, Palestinians and demand the right of self determination in Palestine and the “right of return” laid down in resolution 194 and under international law.

In June 1967, when Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, the remaining 22 per cent of Palestine, another 250,000 Palestinians fled their homeland.  Today five million Palestinians live under Israeli occupation, 1.6 million Palestinians are second or third class citizens of Israel, 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in this region depend on UNRWA, and millions more are scattered across the world.

In November 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 242 affirming the principle of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calling on Israel to withdraw from territory it occupied during the June war. This resolution became the basis for Egyptian, Jordanian  and Palestinian peace deals with Israel under the land-for-peace formula and, the expectation that Palestinians would establish their state in East Jerusalem,  the West Bank and Gaza in accordance with the “two state solution”.

However, no pressure was ever exerted on Israel, as occupying power, to withdraw its forces and end its colonisation of Palestinian territory.  The UN, which has the authority to impose sanctions on countries which reject its directives, has done nothing but generate piles of paper by passing resolutions which Israel and its supporters have ignored.

Over seven decades, the international community abided by a consensus that UNRWA should be preserved as a means of ensuring a modicum of stability in countries hosting Palestinian refugees. Israel’s main financier and most powerful backer, the US, paid about one third of the UNRWA budget of $1.2 billion. Donald Trump not only violated the consensus by cutting funding for the agency but also halting aid to all Palestinian institutions.

He recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, severed contacts with the Palestinian Authority, and put forward a so-called “peace plan” which would give Israel another 30 per cent of the West Bank and provide for limited Palestinian governance in disconnected enclaves in the West Bank which would remain under Israeli control. The UN has done nothing to reaffirm the consensus, leaving the Palestinians poor and adrift.

The UN’s failure to deal decisively with Israel’s conquest of Palestine has emboldened other aggressors.  It served as a model for Turkey’s invasion, occupation and colonisation of northern Cyprus between 1974 and today.

All too clearly, the UN, the servant of powerful Western countries led by the US, operates on the basis of horrendous double standards. For example, the UN has imposed punitive sanctions on Iran for embarking on nuclear research without producing weaponry while Israel, which has scores of nuclear weapons, is not sanctioned for its flagrant expropriation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. This is a far greater offense against humanity than enriching uranium for power plants and medical isotopes under the watchful eyes of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

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The quest to claim the prestige of science is one of the major themes accompanying the rush of the rich and powerful to seize more wealth and political clout during the so-called “great reset” presently underway. Much controversy has surrounded the use of hydroxychloroquine as a cheap and readily available remedy for COVID-19. 

Hydroxychloroquine is a well-known medicine used to treat many ailments. When properly administered along with zinc, hydroxychloroquine represents a threat to the agendas being pushed forward by Bill Gates and Big Pharma. Many powerful interests have a significant stake in imposing a compulsory vaccine on humanity as the universalized remedy for the much-exaggerated incursions of COVID-19. 

Some of those plotting to advance the vaccine agenda sought to sideline the adoption of hydroxychloroquine as the main remedy for COVID-19. They resorted to a well-organized crime that seemed to fly the banner of science while actually defying its evidence-based  requirements.

This fraud involved the presentation of concocted evidence calculated to support a false conclusion about the alleged health dangers attending the use of hydroxychloroquine. The various elements of the fraud were put together by an organization known as Surgisphere. The operatives of this criminal outfit managed to get their dishonest study published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journals, Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. 

The discovery of the fraud put into disrepute the peer-review process of two pillars of published scholarship. Attentive expert readers managed to see through the fabrication of data that was presented as if it was based on findings derived from scientific assessment of about 100,000 patients and over 600 hospitals. Before the fraudulent nature of Surgisphere’s study was exposed, however, its publication resulted in the sidelining of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 remedy in many jurisdictions including Alberta.

The Surgisphere/hydroxycloroquine fraud was quickly recognized as one of the most monumental deceptions of scientific research ever conducted. This episode serves as one of the best examples that those pushing an agenda of compulsory vaccines as the best means of combating COVID-19 are the foes rather than the friends of the scientific method. 

Many aspects of this crisis are more manufactured than real. The Bill Gates funded and dominated World Health Organization engaged in politics rather than in the scientific conduct of public health when it declared in March that COVID-19 formed the basis of a global pandemic.  

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Iran has supplied Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) with technical expertise and know-how, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on September 22. However, the general claimed that Yemeni forces “have learned how to produce missiles, drones and weapons in Yemen on their own” and Iran has no military presence in the region. Shekarchi described what Iran is doing across the region as “spiritual and advisory presence”.

“Countries of the resistance front have armies and forces themselves. We provide them with advisory help. In order to share our experience with the people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, our skilled forces go there and assist them, but this is the people and armies of these countries who stand against the enemies in practice,” the general stated.

Apparently, it was Iranian “spiritual” power which helped the Houthis to regularly pound targets inside Saudi Arabia, including the Kingdom’s capital and key oil infrastructure objects, with missiles and drones, despite the years of Saudi-led air bombing campaigns against Houthi forces and the land and maritime blockade of the areas controlled by them.

Iran also denies reports of weapon and equipment supplies to the Houthis. This means missile components must have appeared in the Houthis’ hands and their missile and combat drone arsenal been expanded thanks to some unrevealed technological breakthrough behind the scenes.

Thus, the military cooperation deal officially signed between the Houthi government and Iran in 2019 was just a formality to highlight the sides’ unity on the frontline in the battle against ‘Zionist plots’ in the region, which became especially obvious in 2020 when the Houthi leadership, alongside with Iran, appeared to be among the most vocal critics of the UAE-Israel and Bahrain-Israel normalization deals. According to them, these developments are a part of the wider Zionist campaign against Middle Eastern nations.

Meanwhile in Syria, sources loyal to the Turkish-backed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) claim that its members had killed a Russian special forces operator on the contact line near Kafra Nabl in southern Idlib.

According to militants and their supporters, they repelled an attack of pro-government forces there inflicting multiple casualties on the Syrian Army and its allies. Photos showing the equipment of the alleged Russian special forces operator were also released by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham media wing.

Pro-government sources did not report any notable clashes in the area last night or active operations involving Russian units there. According to them, the incident involving the Russian special forces operator may have happened several weeks (or even months) ago. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and their Turkish sponsors probably opted to use the obtained photos as propaganda to create a media victory in September to compensate for the losses and destruction caused by the Russian bombing campaign against the terrorist infrastructure in Idlib.

Details of the incident and the fate of the alleged Russian special forces operator involved in it remain unclear. In general, the Russian Defense Ministry reports all casualties among Russian service members deployed. Further, the militants did not show the body of the supposedly killed fighter. Therefore, if the incident really did take place, the Russian soldier most likely received injures and was then evacuated.

Meanwhile, the Russian Aerospace Forces continued bombing terrorist infrastructure in the Idlib region. Therefore, al-Qaeda and its Turkish sponsors are forced to console themselves with media victories.

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In a stunning development, a former Chief Science Officer for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says “there is no science to suggest a second wave should happen.” The “Big Pharma” insider asserts that false positive results from inherently unreliable COVID tests are being used to manufacture a “second wave” based on “new cases.”

Dr. Mike Yeadon, a former Vice President and Chief Science Officer for Pfizer for 16 years, says that half or even “almost all” of tests for COVID are false positives. Dr. Yeadon also argues that the threshold for herd immunity may be much lower than previously thought, and may have been reached in many countries already.

In an interview last week Dr. Yeadon was asked:

“we are basing a government policy, an economic policy, a civil liberties policy, in terms of limiting people to six people in a meeting…all based on, what may well be, completely fake data on this coronavirus?”

Dr. Yeadon answered with a simple “yes.”

Dr. Yeadon said in the interview that, given the “shape” of all important indicators in a worldwide pandemic, such as hospitalizations, ICU utilization, and deaths, “the pandemic is fundamentally over.”

Yeadon said in the interview:

“Were it not for the test data that you get from the TV all the time, you would rightly conclude that the pandemic was over, as nothing much has happened. Of course people go to the hospital, moving into the autumn flu season…but there is no science to suggest a second wave should happen.”

In a paper published this month, which was co-authored by Yeadon and two of his colleagues, “How Likely is a Second Wave?”, the scientists write:

“It has widely been observed that in all heavily infected countries in Europe and several of the US states likewise, that the shape of the daily deaths vs. time curves is similar to ours in the UK. Many of these curves are not just similar, but almost super imposable.”

In the data for UK, Sweden, the US, and the world, it can be seen that in all cases, deaths were on the rise in March through mid or late April, then began tapering off in a smooth slope which flattened around the end of June and continues to today. The case rates however, based on testing, rise and swing upwards and downwards wildly.

Media messaging in the US is already ramping up expectations of a “second wave.”

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Survival Rate of COVID Now Estimated to be 99.8%, Similar to Flu, Prior T-Cell Immunity

The survival rate of COVID-19 has been upgraded since May to 99.8% of infections. This comes close to ordinary flu, the survival rate of which is 99.9%. Although COVID can have serious after-effects, so can flu or any respiratory illness. The present survival rate is far higher than initial grim guesses in March and April, cited by Dr. Anthony Fauci, of 94%, or 20 to 30 times deadlier. The Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) value accepted by Yeadon et al in the paper is .26%. The survival rate of a disease is 100% minus the IFR.

Dr. Yeadon pointed out that the “novel” COVID-19 contagion is novel only in the sense that it is a new type of coronavirus. But, he said, there are presently four strains which circulate freely throughout the population, most often linked to the common cold.

In the scientific paper, Yeadon et al write:

“There are at least four well characterised family members (229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1) which are endemic and cause some of the common colds we experience, especially in winter. They all have striking sequence similarity to the new coronavirus.”

The scientists argue that much of the population already has, if not antibodies to COVID, some level of “T-cell” immunity from exposure to other related coronaviruses, which have been circulating long before COVID-19.

The scientists write:

“A major component our immune systems is the group of white blood cells called T-cells whose job it is to memorise a short piece of whatever virus we were infected with so the right cell types can multiply rapidly and protect us if we get a related infection. Responses to COVID-19 have been shown in dozens of blood samples taken from donors before the new virus arrived.”

Introducing the idea that some prior immunity to COVID-19 already existed, the authors of “How Likely is a Second Wave?” write:

“It is now established that at least 30% of our population already had immunological recognition of this new virus, before it even arrived…COVID-19 is new, but coronaviruses are not.”

They go on to say that, because of this prior resistance, only 15-25% of a population being infected may be sufficient to reach herd immunity:

“…epidemiological studies show that, with the extent of prior immunity that we can now reasonably assume to be the case, only 15-25% of the population being infected is sufficient to bring the spread of the virus to a halt…”

In the US, accepting a death toll of 200,000, and an infection fatality rate of 99.8%, this would mean for every person who has died, there would be about 400 people who had been infected, and lived. This would translate to around 80 million Americans, or 27% of the population. This touches Yeadon’s and his colleagues’ threshold for herd immunity.

The authors say:

“current literature finds that between 20% and 50% of the population display this pre-pandemic T-cell responsiveness, meaning we could adopt an initially susceptible population value from 80% to 50%. The lower the real initial susceptibility, the more secure we are in our contention that a herd immunity threshold (HIT) has been reached.”

Masthead for "Lockdown Skeptics.org" publisher of "How Likely is a Second Wave?"

Masthead for “Lockdown Skeptics.org” publisher of “How Likely is a Second Wave?” | Source

The False Positive Second Wave

Of the PCR test, the prevalent COVID test used around the world, the authors write:

“more than half of the positives are likely to be false, potentially all of them.”

The authors explain that what the PCR test actually measures is “simply the presence of partial RNA sequences present in the intact virus,” which could be a piece of dead virus which cannot make the subject sick, and cannot be transmitted, and cannot make anyone else sick.

“…a true positive does not necessarily indicate the presence of viable virus. In limited studies to date, many researchers have shown that some subjects remain PCR-positive long after the ability to culture virus from swabs has disappeared. We term this a ‘cold positive’ (to distinguish it from a ‘hot positive’, someone actually infected with intact virus). The key point about ‘cold positives’ is that they are not ill, not symptomatic, not going to become symptomatic and, furthermore, are unable to infect others.”

Overall, Dr. Yeadon builds the case that any “second wave” of COVID, and any government case for lockdowns, given the well-known principles of epidemiology, will be entirely manufactured.

In Boston this month, a lab suspended doing coronavirus testing after 400 false positives were discovered.

An analysis of PCR-based test at medical website medrxiv.org states:

“data on PCR-based tests for similar viruses show that PCR-based testing produces enough false positive results to make positive results highly unreliable over a broad range of real-world scenarios.”

University of Oxford Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, writes in a July article “How Many COVID Diagnoses Are False Positives?”:

“going off current testing practices and results, Covid-19 might never be shown to disappear.”

Of course, the most famous incidence of PCR test unreliability was when the President of Tanzania revealed to the world that he had covertly sent samples from a goat, a sheep, and a pawpaw fruit to a COVID testing lab. They all came back positive for COVID.

Made in China

In August, the government of Sweden discovered 3700 false COVID positives from test kits made by China’s BGI Genomics. The kits were approved in March by the FDA for use in the US.

Second Waves of Coronaviruses Not Normal

Dr. Yeadon challenged the idea that all pandemics take place in subsequent waves, citing two other coronavirus outbreaks, the SARS virus in 2003, and MERS in 2012. What may seem like two waves can actually be two single waves occurring in different geographical regions. They say data gathered from the relatively recent SARS 2003 and the MERS outbreaks support their contention.

In the case of the MERS:

“it is actually multiple single waves affecting geographically distinct populations at different times as the disease spreads. In this case the first major peak was seen in Saudi Arabia with a second peak some months later in the Republic of Korea. Analysed individually, each area followed a typical single event…”

In the interview, when questioned about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, which came in successive waves during World War I, Yeadon pointed out that this was an entirely different kind of virus, not in the coronavirus family. Others have blamed general early century malnutrition and unsanitary conditions. World War I soldiers, hard hit, lived in cold mud and conditions the worst imaginable for immune resistance.

Saudi and Korea Waves of MERS Coronavirus

Saudi and Korea Waves of MERS Coronavirus

Lockdowns Don’t Work

Another argument made by Yeadon et al in their September paper is that there has been no difference in outcomes related to lockdowns.

They say:

“The shape of the deaths vs. time curve implies a natural process and not one resulting mainly from human interventions…Famously, Sweden has adopted an almost laissez faire approach, with qualified advice given, but no generalised lockdowns. Yet its profile and that of the UK’s is very similar.”

Mild-Mannered Yeadon Demolishes Man Who Started It All, Professor Neil Ferguson

The former Pfizer executive and scientist singles out one former colleague for withering rebuke for his role in the pandemic, Professor Neil Ferguson. Ferguson taught at Imperial College while Yeadon was affiliated. Ferguson’s computer modelprovided the rationale for governments to launch draconian orders which turned free societies into virtual prisons overnight. Over what is now estimated by the CDC to be a 99.8% survival rate virus.

Dr. Yeardon said in the interview that “no serious scientist gives any validity” to Ferguson’s model.

Speaking with thinly-veiled contempt for Ferguson, Dr. Yeardon took special pains to point out to his interviewer:

“It’s important that you know most scientists don’t accept that it [Ferguson’s model] was even faintly right…but the government is still wedded to the model.”

Yeardon joins other scientists in castigating governments for following Ferguson’s model, the assumptions of which all worldwide lockdowns are based on. One of these scientists is Dr. Johan Giesecke, former chief scientist for the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who called Ferguson’s model “the most influential scientific paper” in memory, and also “one of the most wrong.”

It was Ferguson’s model which held that “mitigation” measures were necessary, i.e. social distancing and business closures, in order to prevent, for example, over 2.2 million people dying from COVID in the US.

Ferguson predicted that Sweden would pay a terrible price for no lockdown, with 40,000 COVID deaths by May 1, and 100,000 by June. Sweden’s death count is now 5800. The Swedish government says this coincides to a mild flu season. Although initially higher, Sweden now has a lower death rate per-capita than the US, which it achieved without the terrific economic damage still ongoing in the US. Sweden never closed restaurants, bars, sports, most schools, or movie theaters. The government never ordered people to wear masks.

Dr. Yeadon speaks bitterly of the lives lost as a result of lockdown policies, and of the “savable” countless lives which will be further lost, from important surgeries and other healthcare deferred, should lockdowns be reimposed, .

Yeardon is a successful entrepreneur, the founder of a biotech company which was acquired by Novartis, another pharmaceutical giant. Yeadon’s unit at Pfizer was the Asthma and Respiratory Research Unit. (Yeadon, partial list of publications.)

Sweden During International "Lockdowns"

Sweden During International “Lockdowns”

Why is All This Happening? US Congressman Says He is Convinced of “Government Plan” to Continue Lockdowns Until a Mandatory Vaccine. Conspiracy Theories?

The list of news items grows which reflects unfavorably upon the narrative being played out on the major television networks, of a mysterious, “novel” virus which has been controlled only by an unprecedented assault on individual rights and liberties, now ready to pounce again, on already suffering populations with no choice but to submit to further government orders.

Governors have quietly extended their powers indefinitely by shifting the goalpost, without saying so, from “flattening the curve” to ease the strain on hospitals, to “no new cases.” From “pandemic,” to “case-demic.”

In Germany, an organization of 500 German doctors and scientists has formed, who say that government response to the COVID virus has been vastly out of proportion to the actual severity of the disease.

Evidence of chicanery mounts. Both the CDC, and US Coronavirus Task Force headed by Dr. Deborah Birx, are candid that the definition of death-by-COVID has been flexible, and that the rules favor calling it COVID whenever possible. This opens the possibility of a vastly inflated death count. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is under federal investigation for all but signing the death warrants for thousands of nursing home elderly, when the state sent COVID patients into the nursing homes, over the helpless objections of nursing home executives and staff.

Why are the major media ignoring what would seem to be an eminently newsworthy item, an industry rockstar like Yeadon, calling out the biggest guns in the public health world? Would not the Sunday talk shows, the Chris Wallaces and Meet the Press, want to grill such a man for record audiences?

Here the talk may turn to dark agendas, and not just mere incompetence, obtuseness, and stupidity.

One opinion was put forth by US Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) when he said on the Tom Woods Show on August 16th:

“The secret the government is keeping from you is that they plan to keep us shut down until there is some kind of vaccine, and then whether it’s compulsory at the federal level, or the state level, or maybe they persuade your employers though another PPP program that you won’t qualify for unless you make your employees get the vaccine, I think that’s their plan. Somebody convince me that’s not their plan, because there is no logical ending to this other than that.”

Another theory is that the COVID crisis is being used consolidate never-before-imaged levels of control over individuals and society by elites. This is put forth by the nephew of the slain president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of also-assassinated Bobby Kennedy. In a speech at a massive anti-lockdown, anti-mandatory COVID vaccination rally in Germany, Bobby Jr. warned of the existence of a:

“bio-security agenda, the rise of the authoritarian surveillance state and the Big Pharma sponsored coup d’etat against liberal democracy…The pandemic is a crisis of convenience for the elite who are dictating these policies,”

In a lawsuit, Kennedy Jr.’s medical witnesses warn that mandatory flu shots many make children more susceptible to COVID.

The warnings of dire intentions of Kennedy’s “elite” are coming from more mainstream sources. Dr. Joseph Marcela, of the highly trusted, mega-traffic medical information site Mercola.com, has penned a careful review of one doctor’s claims of genetics-altering vaccines coming our way.

And it does not assuage fears that a defense establishment website, Defense One, reports that permanent under-the skin biochips, injectable by the same syringe that holds a vaccine, may soon be approved by the FDA. It does not help the anti-conspiracy theory cause that, according to Newsweek, Dr. Anthony Fauci actually did give NIH funding to Wuhan lab for bat coronavirus research so dangerous it was opposed on record by 200 scientists, and banned in the US.

In 1957, a pandemic hit, the H2N2 Asian Flu with a .7% Infection Fatality Rate, which killed as many people per capita in the US as the COVID has claimed now. There was never a single mention of it in the news at the time, never mind the extraordinary upheaval that we see now. In 1968 the Hong Kong Flu hit the US (.5% IFR,) taking 100,000 people when the US had a markedly lower population. Not single alarm was raised, not a single store closed nor even a network news story. The following summer the largest gathering in US history took place, Woodstock.

Mass hysteria is never accidental, but benefits someone. The only question left to answer is, who?

August Protest in Berlin Against Lockdown, and Against Mandatory COVID Vaccination

August Protest in Berlin Against Lockdown, and Against Mandatory COVID Vaccination| Source

Woodstock 1969

Woodstock 1969

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September 22, 2020

Mr. Secretary General,

Mr. President,

A global pandemic has changed everyday life drastically. From one day to the next, millions of people get infected and thousands die even when their life expectancy was longer thanks to development. Hospital systems with high-level services have collapsed and the health structures of poor countries are affected by their chronic lack of capacity. Drastic quarantines are turning the most populated cities into deserted areas. Social life is non-existent except in the digital networks. Theaters, discos, galleries and even schools are closed or being readjusted.

Our borders have been closed, our economies are shrinking and our reserves are dwindling. Life is experiencing a radical redesigning of age-old ways and uncertainty is replacing certainty. Even close friends cannot recognize each other due to the masks that protect us from the contagion. Everything is changing.

Like finding a solution to the pandemic, it is already urgent to democratize this indispensable Organization so that it effectively meets the needs and aspirations of all peoples.

The sought-after right of humanity to live in peace and security, with justice and freedom, the basis for unity among nations, is constantly under threat.

Over 1.9 trillion dollars are being squandered today in a senseless arms race promoted by the aggressive and war-mongering policies of imperialism, whose leader is the present government of the US, which accounts for 38 percent of the global military expenditure.

We are referring to a markedly aggressive and morally corrupt regime that despises and attacks multilateralism, uses financial blackmailing in its relations with UN system agencies and that, in a show of unprecedented overbearance, has withdrawn from the World Health Organization, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council.

Paradoxically, the country where the UN headquarters is located is also staying away from fundamental international treaties such as the Paris Agreement on climate change; it rejects the nuclear agreement with Iran reached by consensus; it promotes trade wars; it ends its commitment with international disarmament control instruments; it militarizes cyberspace; it expands coercion and unilateral sanctions against those who do not bend to its designs and sponsors the forcible overthrow of sovereign governments through non-conventional war methods.

Along such line of action, which ignores the old principles of peaceful co-existence and respect of the right of others´ to self-determination as the guarantee for peace, the Donald Trump administration it also manipulating, with subversive aims, cooperation in the sphere of democracy and human rights, while in its own territory there is an abundance of practically uncontrolled expressions of hatred, racism, police brutality and irregularities in the election system and as to the voting rights of citizens

It is urgent to reform the UN. This powerful organization, which emerged after the loss of millions of lives in two world wars and as a result of a world understanding of the importance of dialogue, negotiation, cooperation and international law, must not postpone any further its updating and democratization. Today´s world needs the UN just as the one where it came into being did.

Something that is very special and profound has failed, as evidenced by the daily and permanent violation of the UN Charter principles, and by the ever-increasing use or threat of use of force in international relations.

There is no way to sustain any longer, as if it were natural and unshakable, an unequal, unjust and anti-democratic International order where selfishness prevails over solidarity and the mean interests of a powerful minority over the legitimate aspirations of millions of people.

Notwithstanding the dissatisfactions and the demands for change that, together with other states and millions of citizens in the world, we are presenting to the UN, the Cuban Revolution shall always uphold the existence of the Organization, to which we owe the little but indispensable multilateralism that is surviving imperial overbearance.

More than once, at this very forum, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the democratization of the UN and the upholding of international cooperation, that can be saved only by it. As stated by the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and I quote: “The international community shall always count on Cuba´s honest voice in the face of injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation, and for the establishment of a more just and equitable international order which really centers on human beings, their dignity and wellbeing.” End of quote.

Mr. President,

Coming back to the seriousness of the present situation, which many blame only on the COVID-19 pandemic, I think it is essential to say that its impact is by far overflowing the health sphere.

Due to its nefarious sequels, impressive death toll and damages to the world economy and the deterioration of social development levels, the spreading of the pandemic in the last few months brings anguish and despair to leaders and citizens in practically all nations.

But the multidimensional crisis it has unleashed clearly shows the great mistake of the dehumanized policies fully imposed by the market dictatorship.

Today, we are witnessing with sadness the disaster the world has been led to by the irrational and unsustainable production and consumption system of capitalism, decades of an unjust international order and the implementation of ruthless and rampant neoliberalism, which has widened inequalities and sacrificed the right of peoples to development.

Unlike excluding neoliberalism, which puts aside and discards millions of human beings and condemns them to survive on the leftovers from the banquet of the richest one percent, the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate between them, but its devastating economic and social effects shall be lethal among the most vulnerable and those with lower incomes, whether they live in the underdeveloped world or in the pockets of poverty of big industrial cities.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projections, the 690 million people who were going hungry in 2019 might be joined by a further 130 million as a result of the economic recession caused by the pandemic. Studies by the International Labor Organization (ILO) say that over 305 million jobs have been lost and that more than 1.6 billion workers are having their livelihoods at stake.

We cannot face COVID-19, hunger, unemployment and the growing economic and social inequalities between individuals and countries as unrelated phenomena. There is an urgency to implement integrated policies that prioritize human beings and not economic profits or political advantages.

It would a crime to postpone decisions that are for yesterday and for today. It is imperative to promote solidarity and international cooperation to lessen the impact.

Only the UN, with its world membership, has the required authority and reach to resume the just struggle to write off the uncollectable foreign debt which, aggravated by the social and economic effects of the pandemic, is threatening the survival of the peoples of the South.

Mr. President,

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and the early signs that it would bring a pandemic did not catch Cuba off guard.

With the decade-long experience of facing terrible epidemics, some of which were provoked deliberately as part of the permanent war against our political project, we immediately implemented a series of measures based on our main capabilities and strengths, namely, a well-structured socialist state that cares for the health of its citizens, a highly-skilled human capital and a society with much people´s involvement in its decision-making and problem solving processes.

The implementation of those measures, combined with the knowledge accrued for over 60 years of great efforts to create and expand a high-quality and universal health system, plus scientific research and development, has made it possible not only to preserve the right to health of all citizens, without exception, but also to be in a better position to face the pandemic.

We have been able to do it in spite of the harsh restrictions of the long economic, commercial and financial blockade being imposed by the US government, which has been brutally tightened in the last two years, even at these pandemic times, something that shows it is the essential component of the hostile US Cuba policy.

The aggressiveness of the blockade has reached a qualitatively higher level that further asserts its role as the real and determining impediment to the managing of the economy and the development of our country. The US government has intensified in particular its harassment of Cuban financial transactions and, beginning in 2019, it has been adopting measures that violate international law to deprive the Cuban people of the possibility to buy fuels they need for their everyday activities and for their development.

 

So as to damage and demonize the Cuban Revolution and others it defines as adversaries, the US has been publishing spurious lists having no legitimacy by which it abrogates itself the right to impose unilateral coercive measures and unfounded qualifications on the world.

Every week, that government issues statements against Cuba or imposes new restrictions. Paradoxically, however, it has refused to term as terrorist the attack that was carried out against the Cuban embassy in Washington on April 30, 2020, when an individual armed with an assault rifle fired over 30 rounds against the diplomatic mission and later admitted to his intent to kill.

We denounce the double standards of the US government in the fight against terror and demand a public condemnation of that brutal attack.

We demand a cease of the hostility and slanderous campaign against the altruistic work by Cuba´s international medical cooperation that, with much prestige and verifiable results, has contributed to saving hundreds of lives and lowering the impact of the disease in many countries. Prominent international figures and highly prestigious social organizations have acknowledged the humanistic work done by the “Henry Reeve” International Medical Brigade for Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics and called for the Nobel Peace Prize to be given to them.

While the US government is ignoring the call to combine efforts to fight the pandemic and it withdraws from the WHO, Cuba, in response to requests made to it, and guided by the profound solidarity and humanistic vocation of its people, is expanding its cooperation by sending over 3 700 cooperation workers distributed in 46 medical brigades to 39 countries and territories hit by COVID-19.

In this sense, we condemn the gangster blackmailing by the US to pressure the Pan-American Health Organization so as to make that regional agency a tool for its morbid aggression against our country. As usual, the force of truth shall do away with lies, and facts and protagonists shall go down in history as they should. Cuba´s example shall prevail.

Our dedicated health workers, the pride of a nation brought up in José Marti’s idea that My Country Is Humanity, shall be awarded the prize their noble hearts deserve, or not; but it has been years since they won the recognition of the peoples blessed by their health work.

The US government is not hiding its intention to enforce new and harsher aggressive measures against Cuba in the next few months. We state once again before the international community that our people, who take pride in their history and are committed to the ideals and achievements of the Revolution, shall resist and overcome.

Mr. President,

The attempts at imposing neocolonial domination on Our America by publicly declaring the present value of the Monroe Doctrine contravene the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

We wish to restate publicly in this virtual forum that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall always have the solidarity of Cuba in the face of attempts at destabilizing and subverting constitutional order and the civic-military unity and at destroying the work started by Commander Hugo Chávez Frías and continued by President Nicolás Maduro Moros to benefit the Venezuelan people.

We also reject US actions aimed at destabilizing the Republic of Nicaragua and ratify our invariable solidarity with its people and government led by Commander Daniel Ortega.

We state our solidarity with the Caribbean nations, which are demanding just reparations for the horrors of slavery and the slave trade, in a world where racial discrimination and the repression against Afro-descendant communities have been on the rise.

We reaffirm our historical commitment with the self-determination and independence of the sisterly people of Puerto Rico.

We support the legitimate claim by Argentina to its sovereignty over the Malvinas, the South Sandwich and South Georgia islands.

We reiterate our commitment with peace in Colombia and the conviction that dialogue between the parties is the road to achieving stable and lasting peace in that country.

We support the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the situation imposed on Syria, with no foreign interference and in full respect of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We demand a just solution to the conflict in the Middle East, which must include the real exercise by the Palestinian people of the inalienable right to build their own State within the borders prior to 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital. We reject Israel´s attempts to annex more territories in the West Bank.

We state our solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of US aggressive escalation.

We reaffirm our invariable solidarity with the Sahrawi people.

We strongly condemn the unilateral and unjust sanctions against the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea.

We restate our rejection of the intention to expand NATO´s presence to the Russian borders and the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions against Russia.

We reject foreign interference into the internal affairs of the Republic of Belarus and reiterate our solidarity with the legitimate president of that country, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and the sisterly people of Belarus.

We condemn the interference into the internal affairs of the People´s Republic of China and oppose any attempt to harm its territorial integrity and its sovereignty.

Mr. President,

Today´s disturbing circumstances have led to the fact that, for the first time in the 75-year-long history of the United Nations, we have had to meet in a non- presential format.

Cuba´s scientific community, another source of pride for the nation that, since the triumph of the Revolution of the just, announced to the world its intention to be a country of men and women of science, is working non-stop on one of the first vaccines that are going through clinical trials in the world.

Its creators and other researchers and experts, in coordination with the health system, are writing protocols on healthcare for infected persons, recovered patients and the risk population that have allowed us to keep epidemic statistics of around 80% of infected persons saved and a mortality rate below the average in the Americas and the world.

“Doctors and not bombs.” That was announced one day by the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution and chief sponsor of scientific development in Cuba: Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz. That´s our motto. Saving lives and sharing what we are and have, no matter any sacrifice it takes; that is what we are offering to the world from the United Nations, to which we only request to be attuned with the gravity of the present time.

We are Cuba.

Let us strive together to promote peace, solidarity and development.

Thank you very much.

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Offline: What Is Medicine’s 5 Sigma?

September 24th, 2020 by Richard Horton

This article was originally published on The Lancet in 2015.

“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted, since the forthcoming UK election meant they were living in “purdah”—a chilling state where severe restrictions on freedom of speech are placed on anyone on the government’s payroll. Why the paranoid concern for secrecy and non-attribution? Because this symposium—on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week—touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”.
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The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed?

To read complete article on The Lancet, click here

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Reparations Demand Expanding Among African People Worldwide

September 24th, 2020 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are issuing calls for damages rendered during European imperialist occupation joining efforts already underway across the continent and the Diaspora

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During late August, the Central African state of Burundi appealed to the Belgian and German governments to pay reparations for the crimes committed during their colonial occupation of this country during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Burundi joins the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which had already spoken to the issue making similar claims on Belgium, the imperialist power which laid waste to the country from 1876 through the 1960s.

Prior to the recent efforts by Burundi and the DRC, people in the Republic of Namibia and the United Republic of Tanzania filed claims against the German government for their role in the genocide carried out during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Namibia, formerly known as Southwest Africa, the Nama and Herero nations suffered immensely as a result of the mass extermination of their people.

In Tanzania, there were atrocities committed by the German colonial authorities which prompted the rebellion against injustice known as the Maji Maji Revolt of 1905-1907. A similar war of liberation was waged also in Namibia, although in both cases the imperialists were able, through the ruthless use of weaponry, overcome at that time, the resistance of African people.

These demands for reparations are not isolated. There are other countries within the African Diaspora which have also made the same demands.

The International Struggle for Reparations

Of course in the United States, various organizations going back decades have made the call for the payment of reparations for nearly 250 years of African enslavement. Some of these organizations include the Nation of Islam, Republic of New Africa, National Black Economic Development Conference, National Coalition for Black Reparations in America (NCOBRA), among others. Additional demands for reparations are being made for mass killings and displacement as occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, when an estimated 300 African Americans were killed by white mobs including law-enforcement agents.

Even in the Caribbean island-nation of Haiti, after the 12 year rebellion and revolutionary war for independence (1791-1803), the former colonial and slave-owning power of France in 1825 demanded the payment of indemnity for their supposed economic losses during the liberation of the country. Concurrently, successive U.S. administrations in the wake of the Haitian Revolution refused to recognize the African-Caribbean nation diplomatically until 1862, more than a year after the beginning of the Civil War.

Deposed Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide raised the demand for reparations from France based upon the post-colonial history of the country. Aristide was overthrown by a coalition of imperialist states including the U.S., France and Canada in 2004.

On a broader level, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), composed of various governments within the region, has established a Commission to pursue reparations from the imperialist states. The Caribbean Reparations Commission explains its mission on their website saying:

“The CARICOM Reparations Commission is a regional body created to Establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of Reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel Slavery.”

The U.S. had a vested interest in not recognizing Haiti because of its own role in the Atlantic Slave Trade.  It was the profits accrued from the involuntary servitude of African people which fueled the rise of industrial capitalism. The fact that the U.S. fought a protracted Civil War which killed nearly a million people in order to end legal enslavement is a clear illustration of the significance of the system to the growth and development of the country. (See this)

With specific reference to Burundi, a report on the actual political situation involving the government says:

“The country’s senate has put together a panel of experts to assess the damage done during colonialism and advise on the cost of damages, according to Radio France International. Burundi plans to send these recommendations to the German and Belgium governments. The country also intends to demand the European countries return stolen historical artifacts and archive material. From 1890, Germany colonized Burundi, which became part of German East Africa.” (See this)

Image on the right: Belgian King Leopold II slaughtered millions of Africans in Congo

As this issue relates to the neighboring DRC, the Belgian colonialists engaged in genocidal policies inside the country for decades. Millions of Congolese were forced to work for the Belgian monarchy and later the colonial government in Brussels. It has been estimated that 8-10 million Congolese people died during the initial colonial engagement from 1876-1908, when after this period, King Leopold II relinquished direct control of the vast and mineral wealthy country to the regime in Brussels.

The African Exponent news service wrote of the continuing colonial and neo-colonial control by imperialism in the DRC that:

“King Leopold later handed Congo to Belgium, and the country perpetuated the evil rule initiated by Leopold, till Congo obtained its independence in 1960. And even after independence, the West connived together to assassinate Patrice Lumumba who had been democratically elected as the first prime minister of the country. In his place the West ensured its proxy, Mobutu Sese Seko got in, and his rule was extremely disastrous to the country as it was characterized by ruthlessness and looting that sounded like fiction.”

A report issued by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent surmised that Belgium should pay reparations to the DRC for the human rights violations committed by the colonial authorities. The Working Group goes as far as to suggest that the problems which have arisen since the independence of the country in June 1960 are a direct result of the legacy of colonialism.

Image below: Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba

Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), who was the first leader of the independent former Belgian Congo, was overthrown by an alliance of U.S., Belgian and other imperialist powers. These interests deliberately targeted Lumumba and his Congolese National Movement (MNC) for destabilization and liquidation. Although much information has been uncovered about the coup and brutal assassination of Lumumba (1960-1961) and his comrades, no person or entity has ever been held accountable in a court of law.

This report from the Working Group on the historical role of colonialism as well as the racist policies of contemporary Belgian society, emphatically notes:

“[W]ith a view to closing the dark chapter in history and as a means of reconciliation and healing….to issue an apology for the atrocities committed during colonization. The root causes of present-day human rights violations lie in the lack of recognition of the true scope of the violence and injustice of colonization.  We are concerned about the human rights situation of people of African descent in Belgium who experience racism and racial discrimination. There is clear evidence that racial discrimination is endemic in institutions in Belgium.” (See this)

Responses by Imperialism to Demands for Reparations and the Way Forward

All of the colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist states charged with human rights violations, genocide and other crimes against the people have either rejected the claims made against them or have provided inadequate responses. The U.S. has never even apologized for the centuries of enslavement and national oppression of African people.

Germany was reported to have made a miniscule offer to Namibia for its colonial atrocities. The Namibian government of President Hage Geingob, the leader of the South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), the liberation movement which led the struggle for independence against the settler-colonial apartheid regime, has dismissed the German gestures as insulting.

A report published in an independent newspaper said of the talks between Germany and Namibia did not result in any real offer by Berlin to provide reparations for colonial crimes against humanity. The article emphasizes that:

“A German special envoy in the ongoing genocide negotiations has rejected claims that his country had offered to pay Namibia about €10 million, or N$180 million, as reparations. In June this year, President Hage Geingob said in his state of the nation address that Namibia rejected a €10 million offer by Germany as reparations for the genocide perpetrated by German settlers between 1904 and 1908. This offer was ‘an insult’, according to Geingob. Geingob in June also announced that the genocide talks were at an advance stage and that Germany was ready to apologize to the affected communities. However, Germany is now rejecting Geingob’s claims saying no offer was made for reparations.” (See this)

These developments in Africa, the Caribbean and among African Americans in the U.S. illustrate the convergence of these struggles to hold the racist systems of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism responsible for their crimes historically and in recent decades. African Americans are still consistently targeted by law-enforcement and vigilantes for brutality and assassination.

The existence of these complimentary demands provides even broader openings for international solidarity and organization. Only when there is a worldwide movement aimed at reversing the legacy of imperialism, will there be the possibility of creating a new international system based on genuine equality, self-determination and social justice.

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Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Tanzania Maji Maji warriors as political prisoners of German colonialism; all images in this article are from the author

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On issues related to the JCPOA nuclear deal and expiring UN arms embargo on Iran next month, the Trump regime is isolated on the world stage.

Commenting on its unlawful imposition of what it called “snapback” sanctions on Iran, its  Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh explained the following:

Nothing in the JCPOA or Security Council Res. 2231 affirming the landmark agreement refers to snapback or a trigger mechanism.

This terminology is a made-in-the USA “forgery…What is stated in the resolution and in the JCPOA is the ‘dispute resolution mechanism.’ ”

Trump regime “maximum pressure” and related actions have no legal standing.

Khatibzadeh stressed that Trump’s America first motto became “America only,” a self-defeatist policy over time.

Last weekend, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said once the UN arms embargo is lifted in October, “we will be able to satisfy our needs with the help of countries with which we have strategic relations, for example, Russia and China,” adding:

“We can provide for ourselves. We can even export weapons.”

“(W)hen necessary, we can buy from these countries. I doubt that secondary US sanctions will be an obstacle for them.”

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the following:

“New opportunities will emerge in our cooperation with Iran after the special regime imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 expires on October 18,” adding:

Russian relations with Iran will have “nothing to do with the unlawful and illegal actions of the US (regime), which is trying to intimidate the entire world.”

The previous day, Ryabkov said “(w)e are not afraid of US sanctions. We are used to them. It will not affect our policy in any way,” adding:

“Our cooperation with Iran is multifaceted. Defense cooperation will progress depending on the two countries’ needs and mutual willingness.”

“That said, another (US) executive order will not change our approach.”

Separately, Russian upper house Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee First Deputy head Vladimir Dzhabarov said Moscow will continue cooperation with Iran.

“So let the (Trump regime) impose sanctions, one less, one more…(O)ur military-technical cooperation with Iran will be continued…”

Dzhabarov stressed that Security Council imposed sanctions are legally binding on all nations, not “sanctions of one state” on others.

“(T)he US thinks (it’s a) higher (power) than the UN Security Council,” a policy with no legal validity under the UN Charter and other international law.

Days earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the following:

“There is no such thing as an arms embargo against Iran.”

“The Security Council, when it was adopting the comprehensive Resolution 2231, which endorsed (the JCPOA) settled the nuclear issue for Iran, and this was adopted by consensus under the Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter,” adding:

“The Security Council in that resolution said that the supply of arms to Iran and from Iran would be subject to consideration by the Security Council and that on the 18th of October, 2020 this regime of sales to Iran would stop.”

“There is no embargo, and there would be no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe established by the Security Council.”

In July, Lavrov called for “universal condemnation” of the US for its unlawful actions against Iran, including its attempt to undermine the landmark JCPOA nuclear deal.

Last month, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing firmly opposes unlawful “long arm jurisdiction” imposed by the US on other countries.

Analyst Yang Xiyu said China won’t be intimidated by threatened US sanctions.

In January, the South China Morning Post said a Sino/Iran “relationship (is) built on trade, weapons and oil.”

China’s envoy to Iran Chang Hua said Beijing is committed to the bilateral partnership.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China exported $269 million of weapons to Iran from 2008 to 2018 — some indirectly through third parties to help the country’s defense capabilities while the UN arms embargo was in place under SC Res. 2231 (2015).

In 2016, both countries agreed on cooperating militarily to combat terrorism, including by joint Persian Gulf naval exercises.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif arrived in Moscow for talks with Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials.

According to Press TV, he’ll “discuss regional issues and matters of mutual interest, including Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.”

On arrival, Zarif said issues relating to the JCPOA top the agenda for talks — most likely including sales of Russian weapons to Iran once the UN arms embargo expires next month.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from en.kremlin.ru

Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 15

September 24th, 2020 by Craig Murray

When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, the US Government burgled the office of his psychiatrist to look for medical evidence to discredit him. Julian Assange has been obliged to submit himself, while in a mentally and physically weakened state and in conditions of the harshest incarceration, to examination by psychiatrists appointed by the US government. He has found the experience intrusive and traumatising. It is a burglary of the mind.

Julian is profoundly worried that his medical history will be used to discredit him and all that he has worked for, to paint the achievements of Wikileaks in promoting open government and citizen knowledge as the fantasy of a deranged mind. I have no doubt this will be tried, but fortunately there has been a real change in public understanding and acknowledgement of mental illness. I do not think Julian’s periodic and infrequent episodes of very serious depression will be successfully portrayed in a bad light, despite the incredibly crass and insensitive attitude displayed today in court by the US Government, who have apparently been bypassed by the change in attitudes of the last few decades.

I discuss this before coming to Tuesday’s evidence because for once my account will be less detailed than others, because I have decided to censor much of what was said. I do this on the grounds that, when it comes to his medical history, Julian’s right to privacy ought not to be abolished by these proceedings. I have discussed this in some detail with Stella Morris. I have of course weighed this against my duty as a journalist to you the reader, and have decided the right to medical privacy is greater, irrespective of what others are publishing. I have therefore given as full an account as I can while omitting all mention of behaviours, of symptoms, and of more personal detail.

I also believe I would take that view irrespective of the identity of the defendant. I am not just being partial to a friend. In all my reporting of these proceedings, of course my friendship with Julian has been something of which I am mindful. But I have invented nothing, nor have I omitted anything maliciously.

I will state firmly and resolutely that my account has been truthful. I do not claim it has been impartial. Because in a case of extreme injustice, truth is not impartial.

Michael Kopelman - Research Portal, King's College, London

The following account tries to give you a fair impression of today’s courtroom events, while omitting the substance and detail of much of the discussion. The single witness all day was the eminent psychiatrist Prof Michael Kopelman (image on the right), who will be familiar to readers of Murder in Samarkand. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London and formerly head of psychiatry at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, Prof Kopelman was appointed by the defence (he is not one of the psychiatrists of whom Julian complains, who will give evidence later) and had visited Julian Assange 19 times in Belmarsh Prison. His detailed report concluded that

“I reiterate again that I am as certain as a psychiatrist ever can be that, in the event of imminent extradition, Mr. Assange would indeed find a way to commit suicide,”

Kopelman’s evidence was that his report was based not just on his many consultations with Assange, but on detailed research of his medical records back to childhood, including direct contact with other doctors who had treated Assange including in Australia, and multiple interviews with family and long-term friends. His diagnosis of severe depression was backed by a medical history of such episodes and a startling family history of suicide, possibly indicating genetic disposition.

Prof Kopelman was firm in stating that he did not find Assange to be delusional. Assange’s concerns with being spied upon and plotted against were perfectly rational in the circumstances.

Kopelman had no doubt that Julian was liable to commit suicide if extradited.

“It is the disorder which brings the suicide risk. Extradition is the trigger.”

James Lewis QC cross-examined Professor Kopelman for four hours. As ever, he started by disparaging the witness’s qualifications; Prof Kopelman was a cognitive psychiatrist not a forensic psychiatrist and had not worked in prisons. Prof Kopelman pointed out that he had been practising forensic psychiatry and testifying in numerous courts for over thirty years. When Lewis persisted again and again in querying his credentials, Kopelman had enough and decided to burst out of the bubble of court etiquette:

“I have been doing this for over thirty years and on five or six occasions London solicitors have phoned me up and said that James Lewis QC is acting in an extradition case and is extremely keen to get your services for a report. So I think it is a bit rich for you to stand there now questioning my qualifications.”

This caused really loud laughter in court, which remarkably the judge made no attempt to silence.

The other trick which the prosecution played yet again was to give Prof Kopelman two huge bundles which had, they said, been sent to him that morning and which he said he had never seen – unsurprisingly as he started testifying at 10am. These included substantial items which Prof Kopelman had never seen before but on which he was to be questioned. The first of these was an academic article on malingering which Kopelman was in effect scorned by Lewis for not having read. He said he had read a great many articles on the subject but not this particular one.

Lewis then read several sentences from the article and invited Kopelman to agree with them. These included “clinical skills alone are not sufficient to diagnose malingering” and one to the effect that the clinical team are best placed to detect malingering. Prof Kopelman refused to sign up to either of these propositions without qualification, and several times over the four hours was obliged to refute claims by Lewis that he had done so.

This is another technique continually deployed by the prosecution, seizing upon a single article and trying to give it the status of holy writ, when JStor would doubtless bring out hundreds of contending articles. On the basis of this one article, Lewis was continually to assert and/or insinuate that it was only the prison medical staff who were in a position to judge Assange’s condition. Edward Fitzgerald QC for the defence was later to assert that the article, when it referred to “the clinical team”, was talking of psychiatric hospitals and not prisons. Kopelman declined to comment on the grounds he had not read the article.

Lewis now did another of his standard tricks; attempting to impugn Kopelman’s expertise by insisting he state, without looking it up, what the eight possible diagnostic symptoms of a certain WHO classification of severe depression were. Kopelman simply refused to do this. He said he made a clinical diagnosis of the patient’s condition and only then did he calibrate it against the WHO guidelines for court purposes; and pointed out that he was on some of the WHO committees that wrote these definitions. They were, he said, very political and some of their decisions were strange.

We then entered a very lengthy and detailed process of Lewis going through hundreds of pages of Assange’s prison medical notes and pointing out phrases omitted from Kopelman’s sixteen page synopsis which tended to the view Assange’s mental health was good, while the Professor countered repeatedly that he had included that opinion in shortened form, or that he had also omitted other material that said the opposite. Lewis claimed the synopsis was partial and biased and Kopelman said it was not.

Lewis also pointed out that some of Assange’s medical history from Australia lacked the original medical notes. Kopelman said that this was from the destruction policy of the state of Victoria. Lewis was only prepared to accept history backed by the original medical notes; Kopelman explained these notes themselves referred to earlier episodes, he had consulted Professor Mullen who had treated Julian, and while Lewis may wish to discount accounts of family and friends, to a medical professional that was standard Maudsley method for approaching mental illness history; there was furthermore an account in a book published in 1997.

After lunch Lewis asked Prof Kopelman why his first report had quoted Stella Morris but not mentioned that she was Julian’s partner. Why was he concealing this knowledge from the court? Kopelman replied that Stella and Julian had been very anxious for privacy in the circumstances because of stress on her and the children. Lewis said that Kopelman’s first duty was to the court and this overrode their right to privacy. Kopelman said he had made his decision. His second report mentioned it once it had become public. Lewis asked why he had not explicitly stated they had two children. Kopelman said he thought it best to leave the children out of it.

Lewis asked whether he was hiding this information because having a partner was a safeguard against suicide. Kopelman said that some studies showed suicide was more common in married people. Besides, what we were considering here was stress of separation from partner and children.

Lewis then addressed the reference in Prof Kopelman’s report to the work of Prof Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Without specifying Professor Melzer’s background or position or even making any mention of the United Nations at all, Lewis read out seven paragraphs of Prof Melzer’s letter to Jeremy Hunt, then UK foreign secretary. These paragraphs addressed the circumstances of Assange’s incarceration in the Embassy and of his continual persecution, including the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Lewis even managed to leave the words “United Nations” out of the name of the working group.

As he read each paragraph, Lewis characterised it as “nonsense”, “rubbish” or “absurd”, and invited Prof Kopelman to comment. Each time Prof Kopelman gave the same reply, that he had only used the work of the psychologist who had accompanied Prof Melzer and had no comment to make on the political parts, which had not appeared in his report. Baraitser – who is always so keen to rule out defence evidence as irrelevant and to save time – allowed this reading of irrelevant paragraphs to go on and on and on. The only purpose was to enter Prof Melzer’s work into the record with an unchallenged dismissive characterisation, and it was simply irrelevant to the witness in the stand. This was Baraitser’s double standard at play yet again.

Lewis then put to Prof Kopelman brief extracts of court transcript showing Julian interacting with the court, as evidence that he had no severe cognitive difficulty. Kopelman replied that a few brief exchanges really told nothing of significance, while his calling out from the dock when not allowed to might be seen as symptomatic of Asperger’s, on which other psychiatrists would testify.

Lewis again berated Kopelman for not having paid sufficient attention to malingering. Kopelman replied that not only had he used his experience and clinical judgement, but two normative tests had been applied, one of them the TOMM test. Lewis suggested those tests were not for malingering and only the Minnesota test was the standard. At this point Kopelman appeared properly annoyed. He said the Minnesota test was very little used outside the USA. The TOMM test was indeed for malingering. That was why it was called the Test of Memory Malingering. Again there was some laughter in court.

Lewis then suggested that Assange may only get a light sentence in the USA of as little as six years, and might not be held in solitary confinement. Would that change Kopelman’s prognosis? Kopelman said it would if realistic, but he had done too many extradition cases, and seen too many undertakings broken, to put much store by this. Besides, he understood no undertakings had been given.

Lewis queried Kopelman’s expertise on prison conditions in the USA and said Kopelman was biased because he had not taken into account the evidence of Kromberg and of another US witness on the subject who is to come. Kopelman replied that he had not been sent their evidence until substantially after he completed his reports. But he had read it now, and he had seen a great deal of other evidence that contradicted it, both in this case and others. Lewis suggested it was not for him to usurp the judgement of the court on this issue, and he should amend his opinion to reflect the effect of the US prison system on Assange if it were as Kromberg described it. Kopelman declined to do so, saying he doubted Kromberg’s expertise and preferred to rely on among others the Department of Justice’s own report of 2017, the Centre for Constitutional Rights report of 2017 and the Marshall report of 2018.

Lewis pressed Kopelman again, and asked that if prison conditions and healthcare in the USA were good, and if the sentence were short, would that cause an alteration to his clinical opinion. Kopelman replied that if those factors were true, then his opinion would change, but he doubted they were true.

Suddenly, Baraitser repeated out loud the part quote that if prison conditions in the US were good and the sentence were short, then Kopelman’s clinical opinion would change, and ostentatiously typed it onto her laptop, as though it were very significant indeed.

This was very ominous. As she inhabits a peculiar world where it is not proven that anybody was ever tortured in Guantanamo Bay, I understand that in Baraitser’s internal universe prison conditions in the Colorado ADX are perfectly humane and medical care is jolly good. I could note Baraitser seeing her way suddenly clear to how to cope with Professor Kopelman in her judgement. I could not help but consider Julian was the last person in this court who needed a psychiatrist.

Lewis now asked, in his best rhetorical and sarcastic style, whether mental illness had prevented Julian Assange from obtaining and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents that were the property of the United States? He asked how, if he suffered from severe depression, Julian Assange had been able to lead Wikileaks, to write books, make speeches and host a TV programme?

I confess that at this stage I became very angry indeed. Lewis’s failure to acknowledge the episodic nature of severe depressive illness, even after the Professor had explained it numerous times, was intellectually pathetic. It is also crass, insensitive and an old-fashioned view to suggest that having a severe depressive illness could stop you from writing a book or leading an organisation. It was plain stigmatising of those with mental health conditions. I confess I took this personally. As long-term readers know, I have struggled with depressive illness my entire life and have never hidden the fact that I have in the past been hospitalised for it, and on suicide watch. Yet I topped the civil service exams, became Britain’s youngest Ambassador, chaired a number of companies, have been Rector of a university, have written several books, and give speeches at the drop of a hat. Lewis’s characterisation of depressives as permanently incapable is not just crassly insensitive, it is a form of hate speech and should not be acceptable in court.

(I am a supporter of free speech, and if Lewis wants to make a fool of himself by exhibiting ignorance of mental illness in public I have no problem. But in court, no.)

Furthermore, Lewis was not representing his own views but speaking on the direct instructions of the government of the United States of America. Throughout a full four hours, Lewis on behalf of the government of the USA not only evinced no understanding whatsoever of mental illness, he never once, not for one second, showed one single sign that mental illness is a subject taken seriously or for which there is the tiniest element of human sympathy and concern. Not just for Julian, but for any sufferer. Mental illness is malingering or if real disqualifies you from any role in society; no other view was expressed. He made plain on behalf of the US Government, for example, that Julian’s past history of mental illness in Australia will not be taken into account because the medical records have been destroyed.

The only possible conclusion from yesterday’s testimony is that the performance of the representative of the United States Government was, in and of itself, full and sufficient evidence that there is no possibility that Julian Assange will receive fair consideration and treatment of his mental health issues within the United States system. The US government has just demonstrated that to us, in open court, to perfection.

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The Nicolas Maduro-backed Venezuelan central bank launched a landmark appeal in London on Tuesday over $1 billion (£785.21 billion) of gold reserves held in the Bank of England’s underground vaults.

The Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) board controlled by the Maduro government is challenging a High Court ruling in July that the UK government “unequivocally” recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president, therefore giving him control over the gold.

Lawyers representing the BCV say selling the gold, which amounts to around 15% of Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves, would fund the response to the coronavirus and bolster a health system gutted by six years of economic crisis.

Guaido’s lawyers say the bullion is his to control as the British government, along with around 60 others around the world, recognise him as leader after claims Maduro rigged Venezuela’s last presidential election two years ago.

The hearing is expected to last three days and will be the first time such a tug-of-war has been conducted in the London Court of Appeal.

BCV board solicitor Sarosh Zaiwalla said in a statement the case raises a number of issues of international law, which forbids the interference by any country in the internal affairs of another.

The outcome could also present “a further threat to the international perception of English institutions as being free from political interference, as well as the Bank of England’s reputation abroad as a safe repository for sovereign assets”.

Over the past two years, Maduro’s government has removed some 30 tonnes of gold from its local reserves in Venezuela to sell abroad for much-needed hard currency.

Britain in early 2019 joined dozens of nations in backing Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress, after he declared an interim presidency and denounced Maduro as an usurper.

Guaido, at the time, asked the Bank of England to prevent Maduro’s government from accessing the gold, which the opposition claims Maduro wants to use to pay off his foreign allies.

In May, BCV sued the Bank of England to recover control, saying it was depriving the BCV of funds needed to finance Venezuela’s coronavirus response.

The Bank of England then asked the court to determine who Britain recognized as Venezuela’s president.

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The Critical Importance of Independent Media

September 23rd, 2020 by The Global Research Team

Never before has the need for independent, honest voices and sources of information been so dire. We are – as a society – inundated with a flood of unrelenting unreliable information. The mainstream media, concentrated in the hands of a few and owned by large multinational corporations, is filled with inherent bias and constant manipulation. That is why independent media is of critical importance now more than ever.

To say that the public has become disillusioned and wary of constant doomsday media reports and news coverage that adheres to corporate and political agendas is a gross understatement — people see their world changing and they want to understand what is happening, and why. They want to be informed and therefore be prepared. They want the freedom to make educated choices instead of being told what to do by the very individuals and institutions that have led them into chaos.

On GlobalResearch.ca, the view points we put forth are not selected in the interest of pushing a specific narrative, but rather in breaking down divisions and building a dialogue. We publish pieces by a wide variety of specialists dotted all over the globe including journalists and scholars, political analysts and historians, expert doctors and scientists, ex-military and intelligence personnel, to name but a few.

Our commitment is to make our articles and videos available to the broadest possible readership, on a non-commercial basis, without the need for a login for paid subscribers. You can help us in this project by making a financial contribution below, or by sharing our articles far and wide via social media, e-mail lists, blog sites, etc. To reverse the tide we need your help. We thank you for your essential support!

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“Anyone who believes anything the US government says is gullible beyond the meaning of the word.” –Paul Craig Roberts, 2014

The dramatic reversal in official U.S. policy regarding facial masking is epitomized by, first, the May, 2020 report of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in which facial masks are acknowledged to be ineffective in blocking viral transmission, this followed two months later by CDC’s inexplicable July, 2020 recommendation that the public be masked. The earlier report was based on a review of 14 randomized controlled trials and reviews since 1982. The radical change two months later was based on nothing that could in any way negate the dozens of earlier studies.

On the July, 2020 web page, a heading, ‘Evidence for Effectiveness of Wearing Masks’, shows a ridiculous artist’s rendition of the now familiar spiked spheres indicating viruses bouncing off a cloth surface like pingpong balls off concrete (although the text states “droplets”). It is a visual lie, purposeful and unforgivable. A link to “emerging evidence” of mask efficacy leads to a bibliography of 19 “Recent Studies” (scroll down). It is difficult to explain to non-scientists what do, and what do not, qualify as bona fide scientific studies, but, just to make a point, the first listed in this CDC bibliography is a report based on a single asymptomatic infection. This might qualify as an item to incorporate into a study, but it is not in itself a “study” by the 17 (no kidding) listed authors.

The other 18 (on the website’s August 7, 2020, “update”) consist primarily of reports of viral loads, the prevalence of asymptomatic patients, “presumed” transmission in a family of 5, rates of spread, fabric filtration efficiency, even laser light visualization of oral droplets (really). Only 4 deal with masks per se, and not one comes close to making a case for the efficacy of public masking. One actually ends with the authors support of

“…. surgical mask use as one of the recommended cough etiquette interventions” [their term]. Etiquette? Check them out (scroll down). The list, a pathetically limp effort by the CDC to justify its indefensible authorization of public masking, does absolutely nothing to overturn years of studies that, in sum, show public masking to be ineffective in preventing transmission of viruses. There are no new definitive scientific studies yielding the claimed “…. hard evidence that risk of transmission goes down dramatically when people wear masks.”

Masks, and only those of a professional grade, are intended specifically as protection for health professionals dealing with infected patients likely to spread pathogens in aerosol form. The program to mask society is a grotesque governmental manipulation of a frightened and confused public. The CDC, by its hawking of the public masking charade, betrays the public trust. The situation absolutely reeks of a concealed project of global scale, and if serious investigative journalism were a norm, there would be reporters all over the apparent political connections like flies on rotting meat. Instead, we have major media intent on eclipsing a vast source, authoritative but suppressed, of anything that counters the totalitarian “official narrative”.

The contemporary situation regarding the CDC and media is not unique. In 2009, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported on CBS that the CDC suddenly advised against testing for H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus (in disregard of its federal mandate) after having declared it an epidemic. The professed reason for the reversal was that further tracking during a known epidemic would waste resources. In an interview by Jon Rappoport, Attkisson added that she learned through the Freedom of Information Act that before the CDC halted testing, nearly none of the cases that had been reported as H1N1 had actually been Swine Flu, or any flu at all. And what then? CBS, and news media generally, ignored her discovery and continued to claim a Swine Flu epidemic. Attkisson summed up with “We aired numerous stories pumping up the idea of an epidemic, but not the one that would shed original, new light on all the hype [and] it meant that many in the public took and gave their children an experimental vaccine that may not have been necessary.”

There is now a doubling down on enforcement of public masking. Here, September 16, 2020 on C-Span, is CDC Director Robert Redfield [skip to 1:04:40] testifying before Congress: “Face masks are the most important powerful public health tool we have ….. We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask [he holds up a standard cloth mask] is more guarantee to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%, and if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This mask will.” According to decades of scientific studies, the statement by the CDC Director is pure fabrication.

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When it comes to conspicuous in-your-face lying, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may have set a bureaucratic record. Anyone still unaware that a third World Trade Center building, Building 7, collapsed later in the day on 9/11/2001 has either been in some form of solitary confinement or embalmed by TV reporting and America’s “newspapers of record”. Building 7 dropped suddenly and perfectly because it had been professionally prepared for destruction long before 9/11/2001, and a few minutes into this 15-minute presentation by A&E makes that very clear. The twin facts that Building 7 was (1) such a masterful controlled demolition that it has been called “a work of art”, and (2) its not having even been mentioned in the official 9/11 Commission Report (itself a shameless hoax), indicates not only the crime, but also an ongoing cover up with tendrils extending into many sectors of government, media and, most sadly, academia.

The 2008 release of NIST’s study, which offers the lie that office fires caused the collapse, is astounding in its brazenness and includes their computer simulation that bears no resemblance to what you actually see as 7 begins its drop with perfect symmetry at near free fall speed, as if thousands of tons of structural steel suddenly did not exist. The 4-minute video within the NIST release includes a governmental functionary lying into the camera as he most certainly was ordered to do. He is lying because the collapse of Building 7, in all of its naked obviousness, is the single event most likely to “open one’s eyes”, this leading to the discovery of an entire catalog of lies. From the standpoint of the creators of the 9/11 attack, the “office fires” lie must be protected at all cost.

The falsehoods being perpetrated by the CDC and NIST are not isolated within circumscribed strategies. Instead, both are enmeshed in a much larger, multi-faceted imperial project that has a global reach. For those who search out its disturbing details, there is a toll. William Pepper, who spent 40 years in pursuit of the truth regarding the King Assassination, wrote regarding the experience, “Its revelations and experiences have produced in the writer a depression stemming from an unavoidable confrontation with the depths to which human beings, even those subject to professional codes of ethics, have fallen.” That is a fair description of my own sentiments as I watch the pronouncements of medical experts from the CDC and engineers from NIST.

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Bill Willers is an emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He is founder of the Superior Wilderness Action Network (SWAN) and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land, and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He can be contacted at [email protected]

After the US State Department claimed that Tehran did not meet the terms of the “nuclear deal,” Washington renewed its anti-Iranian sanctions on Monday. The UN and the EU found the claims made by Washington to be unconvincing and refused to join the renewed sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal two years ago, claiming that Tehran was ostensibly and secretly developing a nuclear weapons program, but did not provide any evidence and demanded renewed sanctions. Russia, China and the EU condemned Washington’s actions, stressing that the nuclear deal will continue to be valid without the US. Germany, France and Britain even passed a special law allowing companies to cooperate with Iran and avoid US pressure through a special financial mechanism, INSTEX.

None-the-less, Washington announced that it is not taking a step back from its sanctions against Iran, whilst simultaneously refusing the provide evidence how Tehran breached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or more commonly known as the nuclear deal, created in 2015. The State Department declared:

“The UN arms embargo on Iran is now re-imposed indefinitely, and we will ensure that it remains in place until Iran changes its behaviour. The new executive order gives us the tools to hold accountable actors who seek to evade the embargo.”

Pompeo also said Trump issued an executive order

“that is a new and powerful tool to enforce the UN arms embargo, and to hold those who seek to evade those sanctions accountable,” while also adding that “Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide. No matter who you are if you ignore UN sanctions, you risk sanctions.”

Since Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018 Tehran has taken a wait-and-see approach in the hope that the Europeans will succeed in convincing Washington to not drive away foreign investments from Iran.

Formally, the nuclear deal is still valid despite the US withdrawal, but confidence is beginning to diminish. The US fear that the UN-imposed arms embargo on Tehran will be lifted on October 18. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait believe Iran will acquire air defense systems and modern fighter jets from Russia and China. This will militarily strengthen Iran but aggravate its neighbors.

France, Germany and Britain share the American concern, but did not support Washington’s August proposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran. Russia and China have made it clear that they will block all US efforts. For its part, Iran has stated that lifting the arms embargo will finally complete the nuclear deal.

Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said to Foreign Policy magazine that the US does not need multilateral support to make a sanctions’ snapback work because of the global dominance of the US dollar and American power in international financial markets. However, Gérard Araud, former French Ambassador to Israel, the UN and the US, sarcastically but effectively highlighted on Twitter that Dubowitz’s claims “is a way of saying: ‘We are isolated, our allies are not supporting us, actually the whole UN Security Council opposes our move but we don’t care because might is right’.  A coherent vision of international relations….”

Although the US is attempting to portray its sanctions against Iran as being from a position of power, Araud perfectly highlighted that this debacle has exposed how isolated Washington is from the UN Security Council and from some of its closest allies like the British and the Germans.

However, sanctions could still scare foreign business from going to Iran, especially if the arms embargo is lifted in October which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in US pressure against the Islamic Republic. European legislation determines that an arms embargo will continue against Iran until 2023, meaning that if the UN arms embargo is lifted next month, the EU will not be able to sell weapons to the Islamic Republic for another few years. This will be to the advantage of Russia and China as they will be able to monopolize weapon sales to Iran.

What may at first appear curious, the Iranian authorities do not want to exacerbate the situation before the presidential election in the US for two reasons:

Tehran does not want to give Trump any major talking points in the lead up to the November presidential elections.

There is every opportunity that the US could return to the nuclear deal if Democrat President Candidate Joe Biden is successful in replacing Trump.

In addition, the EU, Russia, China and the UN are now on Iran’s side, further rendering an Iranian verbal blasting against Washington unnecessary. More importantly, Iran has seen that the US is completely isolated in their systemic aggression against them.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

“No Mask? We Won’t Ask.”

September 23rd, 2020 by John C. A. Manley

I encourage you to download the poster below and make some print outs. If you have a small business, and it’s legal to do so in your district, please put it up in your shop window. If you don’t run a business, you can bring it to shops that you patronize, and ask them to put it up. (And if you live in Melbourne then just forget about it.)

Recently, Susanna Russo printed out many copies, headed to downtown Ajax, Ontario, and asked businesses to post it in their front window. She said most took the sign. After all, most businesses want more customers. Especially after three months of lockdown.

Business owners know they have three types of customers:

  1. Those who want everybody wearing face diapers.
  2. Those who are against forced masking.
  3. Those who go along with the masks; but would be happier if they didn’t have to bother carrying around a germ collector.

 

For regions offering exemptions, the above poster lets you please all three types of customers, plus the local bylaw officer.

It’s no secret that forced masking in retail stores is driving people online. After all, the government isn’t requiring Amazon to force its customers to wear a mask.

The above poster lets people who prefer to just wear their face know that they have a “safe space.” Pretty strange that in a matter of months, breathing without a droplet guard can make you feel like an outcast. Doesn’t matter that every single randomized control trial (that I know of at least) shows that muzzling people doesn’t stop the spread of influenza-like illnesses. In fact, studies show it doesn’t even help in surgery.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

John C. A. Manley has spent over a decade ghostwriting for medical doctors, as well as naturopaths, chiropractors and Ayurvedic physicians. He publishes the COVID-19(84) Red Pill Daily Briefs – an email-based newsletter dedicated to preventing the governments of the world from using an exaggerated pandemic as an excuse to violate our freedom, health, privacy, livelihood and humanity. He is also writing a novel, Brave New Normal: A Dystopian Love Story. Visit his website at: MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca

Featured image is by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

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COVID19 PCR Tests Are Scientifically Meaningless

September 23rd, 2020 by Torsten Engelbrecht

First published on June 29, 2020

Lockdowns and hygienic measures around the world are based on numbers of cases and mortality rates created by the so-called SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests used to identify “positive” patients, whereby “positive” is usually equated with “infected.”

But looking closely at the facts, the conclusion is that these PCR tests are meaningless as a diagnostic tool to determine an alleged infection by a supposedly new virus called SARS-CoV-2.

Unfounded “Test, Test, Test, …” mantra

At the media briefing on COVID-19 on March 16, 2020, the WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.”

The message was spread through headlines around the world, for instance by Reuters and the BBC.

Still on the 3 of May, the moderator of the Heute journal — one of the most important news magazines on German television— was passing the mantra of the corona dogma on to his audience with the admonishing words:

Test, test, test—that is the credo at the moment, and it is the only way to really understand how much the coronavirus is spreading.”

This indicates that the belief in the validity of the PCR tests is so strong that it equals a religion that tolerates virtually no contradiction.

But it is well known that religions are about faith and not about scientific facts. And as Walter Lippmann, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and perhaps the most influential journalist of the 20th centurysaid: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

So to start, it is very remarkable that Kary Mullis himself, the inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, did not think alike. His invention got him the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1993.

Unfortunately, Mullis passed away last year at the age of 74, but there is no doubt that the biochemist regarded the PCR as inappropriate to detect a viral infection.

The reason is that the intended use of the PCR was, and still is, to apply it as a manufacturing technique, being able to replicate DNA sequences millions and billions of times, and not as a diagnostic tool to detect viruses.

How declaring virus pandemics based on PCR tests can end in disaster was described by Gina Kolata in her 2007 New York Times article Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.

Lack of a valid gold standard

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the PCR tests used to identify so-called COVID-19 patients presumably infected by what is called SARS-CoV-2 do not have a valid gold standard to compare them with.

This is a fundamental point. Tests need to be evaluated to determine their preciseness — strictly speaking their “sensitivity”[1] and “specificity” — by comparison with a “gold standard,” meaning the most accurate method available.

As an example, for a pregnancy test the gold standard would be the pregnancy itself. But as Australian infectious diseases specialist Sanjaya Senanayake, for example, stated in an ABC TV interview in an answer to the question “How accurate is the [COVID-19] testing?”:

If we had a new test for picking up [the bacterium] golden staph in blood, we’ve already got blood cultures, that’s our gold standard we’ve been using for decades, and we could match this new test against that. But for COVID-19 we don’t have a gold standard test.”

Jessica C. Watson from Bristol University confirms this. In her paper “Interpreting a COVID-19 test result”, published recently in The British Medical Journal, she writes that there is a “lack of such a clear-cut ‘gold-standard’ for COVID-19 testing.”

But instead of classifying the tests as unsuitable for SARS-CoV-2 detection and COVID-19 diagnosis, or instead of pointing out that only a virus, proven through isolation and purification, can be a solid gold standard, Watson claims in all seriousness that, “pragmatically” COVID-19 diagnosis itself, remarkably including PCR testing itself, “may be the best available ‘gold standard’.” But this is not scientifically sound.

Apart from the fact that it is downright absurd to take the PCR test itself as part of the gold standard to evaluate the PCR test, there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, as even people such as Thomas Löscher, former head of the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the University of Munich and member of the Federal Association of German Internists, conceded to us[2].

And if there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, COVID-19 diagnosis — contrary to Watson’s statement — cannot be suitable for serving as a valid gold standard.

In addition, “experts” such as Watson overlook the fact that only virus isolation, i.e. an unequivocal virus proof, can be the gold standard.

That is why I asked Watson how COVID-19 diagnosis “may be the best available gold standard,” if there are no distinctive specific symptoms for COVID-19, and also whether the virus itself, that is virus isolation, wouldn’t be the best available/possible gold standard. But she hasn’t answered these questions yet – despite multiple requests. And she has not yet responded to our rapid response post on her article in which we address exactly the same points, either, though she wrote us on June 2nd: “I will try to post a reply later this week when I have a chance.”

No proof for the RNA being of viral origin

Now the question is: What is required first for virus isolation/proof? We need to know where the RNA for which the PCR tests are calibrated comes from.

As textbooks (e.g., White/Fenner. Medical Virology, 1986, p. 9) as well as leading virus researchers such as Luc Montagnier or Dominic Dwyer state, particle purification — i.e. the separation of an object from everything else that is not that object, as for instance Nobel laureate Marie Curie purified 100 mg of radium chloride in 1898 by extracting it from tons of pitchblende — is an essential pre-requisite for proving the existence of a virus, and thus to prove that the RNA from the particle in question comes from a new virus.

The reason for this is that PCR is extremely sensitive, which means it can detect even the smallest pieces of DNA or RNA — but it cannot determine where these particles came from. That has to be determined beforehand.

And because the PCR tests are calibrated for gene sequences (in this case RNA sequences because SARS-CoV-2 is believed to be a RNA virus), we have to know that these gene snippets are part of the looked-for virus. And to know that, correct isolation and purification of the presumed virus has to be executed.

Hence, we have asked the science teams of the relevant papers which are referred to in the context of SARS-CoV-2 for proof whether the electron-microscopic shots depicted in their in vitro experiments show purified viruses.

But not a single team could answer that question with “yes” — and NB., nobody said purification was not a necessary step. We only got answers like “No, we did not obtain an electron micrograph showing the degree of purification” (see below).

We asked several study authors “Do your electron micrographs show the purified virus?”, they gave the following responses:

Study 1: Leo L. M. Poon; Malik Peiris. “Emergence of a novel human coronavirus threatening human health” Nature Medicine, March 2020
Replying Author: Malik Peiris
Date: May 12, 2020
Answer: “The image is the virus budding from an infected cell. It is not purified virus.”

Study 2: Myung-Guk Han et al. “Identification of Coronavirus Isolated from a Patient in Korea with COVID-19”, Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives, February 2020
Replying Author: Myung-Guk Han
Date: May 6, 2020
Answer: “We could not estimate the degree of purification because we do not purify and concentrate the virus cultured in cells.”

Study 3: Wan Beom Park et al. “Virus Isolation from the First Patient with SARS-CoV-2 in Korea”, Journal of Korean Medical Science, February 24, 2020
Replying Author: Wan Beom Park
Date: March 19, 2020
Answer: “We did not obtain an electron micrograph showing the degree of purification.”

Study 4: Na Zhu et al., “A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China”, 2019, New England Journal of Medicine, February 20, 2020
Replying Author: Wenjie Tan
Date: March 18, 2020
Answer: “[We show] an image of sedimented virus particles, not purified ones.”

Regarding the mentioned papers it is clear that what is shown in the electron micrographs (EMs) is the end result of the experiment, meaning there is no other result that they could have made EMs from.

That is to say, if the authors of these studies concede that their published EMs do not show purified particles, then they definitely do not possess purified particles claimed to be viral. (In this context, it has to be remarked that some researchers use the term “isolation” in their papers, but the procedures described therein do not represent a proper isolation (purification) process. Consequently, in this context the term “isolation” is misused).

Thus, the authors of four of the principal, early 2020 papers claiming discovery of a new coronavirus concede they had no proof that the origin of the virus genome was viral-like particles or cellular debris, pure or impure, or particles of any kind. In other words, the existence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is based on faith, not fact.

We have also contacted Dr Charles Calisher, who is a seasoned virologist. In 2001, Science published an “impassioned plea…to the younger generation” from several veteran virologists, among them Calisher, saying that:

[modern virus detection methods like] sleek polymerase chain reaction […] tell little or nothing about how a virus multiplies, which animals carry it, [or] how it makes people sick. [It is] like trying to say whether somebody has bad breath by looking at his fingerprint.”[3]

And that’s why we asked Dr Calisher whether he knows one single paper in which SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated and finally really purified. His answer:

I know of no such a publication. I have kept an eye out for one.”[4]

This actually means that one cannot conclude that the RNA gene sequences, which the scientists took from the tissue samples prepared in the mentioned in vitro trials and for which the PCR tests are finally being “calibrated,” belong to a specific virus — in this case SARS-CoV-2.

In addition, there is no scientific proof that those RNA sequences are the causative agent of what is called COVID-19.

In order to establish a causal connection, one way or the other, i.e. beyond virus isolation and purification, it would have been absolutely necessary to carry out an experiment that satisfies the four Koch’s postulates. But there is no such experiment, as Amory Devereux and Rosemary Frei recently revealed for OffGuardian.

The necessity to fulfill these postulates regarding SARS-CoV-2 is demonstrated not least by the fact that attempts have been made to fulfill them. But even researchers claiming they have done it, in reality, did not succeed.

One example is a study published in Nature on May 7. This trial, besides other procedures which render the study invalid, did not meet any of the postulates.

For instance, the alleged “infected” laboratory mice did not show any relevant clinical symptoms clearly attributable to pneumonia, which according to the third postulate should actually occur if a dangerous and potentially deadly virus was really at work there. And the slight bristles and weight loss, which were observed temporarily in the animals are negligible, not only because they could have been caused by the procedure itself, but also because the weight went back to normal again.

Also, no animal died except those they killed to perform the autopsies. And let’s not forget: These experiments should have been done beforedeveloping a test, which is not the case.

Revealingly, none of the leading German representatives of the official theory about SARS-Cov-2/COVID-19 — the Robert Koch-Institute (RKI), Alexander S. Kekulé (University of Halle), Hartmut Hengel and Ralf Bartenschlager (German Society for Virology), the aforementioned Thomas Löscher, Ulrich Dirnagl (Charité Berlin) or Georg Bornkamm (virologist and professor emeritus at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Munich) — could answer the following question I have sent them:

If the particles that are claimed to be to be SARS-CoV-2 have not been purified, how do you want to be sure that the RNA gene sequences of these particles belong to a specific new virus?

Particularly, if there are studies showing that substances such as antibiotics that are added to the test tubes in the in vitro experiments carried out for virus detection can “stress” the cell culture in a way that new gene sequences are being formed that were not previously detectable — an aspect that Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock already drew attention to in her Nobel Lecture back in 1983.

It should not go unmentioned that we finally got the Charité – the employer of Christian Drosten, Germany’s most influential virologist in respect of COVID-19, advisor to the German government and co-developer of the PCR test which was the first to be “accepted” (not validated!) by the WHO worldwide – to answer questions on the topic.

But we didn’t get answers until June 18, 2020, after months of non-response. In the end, we achieved it only with the help of Berlin lawyer Viviane Fischer.

Regarding our question “Has the Charité convinced itself that appropriate particle purification was carried out?,” the Charité concedes that they didn’t use purified particles.

And although they claim “virologists at the Charité are sure that they are testing for the virus,” in their paper (Corman et al.) they state:

RNA was extracted from clinical samples with the MagNA Pure 96 system (Roche, Penzberg, Germany) and from cell culture supernatants with the viral RNA mini kit (QIAGEN, Hilden, Germany),”

Which means they just assumed the RNA was viral.

Incidentally, the Corman et al. paper, published on January 23, 2020 didn’t even go through a proper peer review process, nor were the procedures outlined therein accompanied by controls — although it is only through these two things that scientific work becomes really solid.

Irrational rest results

It is also certain that we cannot know the false positive rate of the PCR tests without widespread testing of people who certainly do not have the virus, proven by a method which is independent of the test (having a solid gold standard).

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that there are several papers illustrating irrational test results.

For example, already in February the health authority in China’s Guangdong province reported that people have fully recovered from illness blamed on COVID-19, started to test “negative,” and then tested “positive” again.

A month later, a paper published in the Journal of Medical Virology showed that 29 out of 610 patients at a hospital in Wuhan had 3 to 6 test results that flipped between “negative”, “positive” and “dubious”.

A third example is a study from Singapore in which tests were carried out almost daily on 18 patients and the majority went from “positive” to “negative” back to “positive” at least once, and up to five times in one patient.

Even Wang Chen, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, conceded in February that the PCR tests are “only 30 to 50 per cent accurate”; while Sin Hang Lee from the Milford Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory sent a letter to the WHO’s coronavirus response team and to Anthony S. Fauci on March 22, 2020, saying that:

It has been widely reported in the social media that the RT-qPCR [Reverse Transcriptase quantitative PCR] test kits used to detect SARSCoV-2 RNA in human specimens are generating many false positive results and are not sensitive enough to detect some real positive cases.”

In other words, even if we theoretically assume that these PCR tests can really detect a viral infection, the tests would be practically worthless, and would only cause an unfounded scare among the “positive” people tested.

This becomes also evident considering the positive predictive value (PPV).

The PPV indicates the probability that a person with a positive test result is truly “positive” (ie. has the supposed virus), and it depends on two factors: the prevalence of the virus in the general population and the specificity of the test, that is the percentage of people without disease in whom the test is correctly “negative” (a test with a specificity of 95% incorrectly gives a positive result in 5 out of 100 non-infected people).

With the same specificity, the higher the prevalence, the higher the PPV.

In this context, on June 12 2020, the journal Deutsches Ärzteblattpublished an article in which the PPV has been calculated with three different prevalence scenarios.

The results must, of course, be viewed very critically, first because it is not possible to calculate the specificity without a solid gold standard, as outlined, and second because the calculations in the article are based on the specificity determined in the study by Jessica Watson, which is potentially worthless, as also mentioned.

But if you abstract from it, assuming that the underlying specificity of 95% is correct and that we know the prevalence, even the mainstream medical journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt reports that the so-called SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests may have “a shockingly low” PPV.

In one of the three scenarios, figuring with an assumed prevalence of 3%, the PPV was only 30 percent, which means that 70 percent of the people tested “positive” are not “positive” at all. Yet “they are prescribed quarantine,” as even the Ärzteblatt notes critically.

In a second scenario of the journal’s article, a prevalence of rate of 20 percent is assumed. In this case they generate a PPV of 78 percent, meaning that 22 percent of the “positive” tests are false “positives.”

That would mean: If we take the around 9 million people who are currently considered “positive” worldwide — supposing that the true “positives” really have a viral infection — we would get almost 2 million false “positives.”

All this fits with the fact that the CDC and the FDA, for instance, concede in their files that the so-called “SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests” are not suitable for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.

In the “CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel“ file from March 30, 2020, for example, it says:

Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms”

And:

This test cannot rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens.”

And the FDA admits that:

positive results […] do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

Remarkably, in the instruction manuals of PCR tests we can also read that they are not intended as a diagnostic test, as for instance in those by Altona Diagnostics and Creative Diagnostics[5].

To quote another one, in the product announcement of the LightMix Modular Assays produced by TIB Molbiol — which were developed using the Corman et al. protocol — and distributed by Roche we can read:

These assays are not intended for use as an aid in the diagnosis of coronavirus infection”

And:

For research use only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.”

Where is the evidence that the tests can measure the “viral load”?

There is also reason to conclude that the PCR test from Roche and others cannot even detect the targeted genes.

Moreover, in the product descriptions of the RT-qPCR tests for SARS-COV-2 it says they are “qualitative” tests, contrary to the fact that the “q” in “qPCR” stands for “quantitative.” And if these tests are not “quantitative” tests, they don’t show how many viral particles are in the body.

That is crucial because, in order to even begin talking about actual illness in the real world not only in a laboratory, the patient would need to have millions and millions of viral particles actively replicating in their body.

That is to say, the CDC, the WHO, the FDA or the RKI may assert that the tests can measure the so-called “viral load,” i.e. how many viral particles are in the body. “But this has never been proven. That is an enormous scandal,” as the journalist Jon Rappoport points out.

This is not only because the term “viral load” is deception. If you put the question “what is viral load?” at a dinner party, people take it to mean viruses circulating in the bloodstream. They’re surprised to learn it’s actually RNA molecules.

Also, to prove beyond any doubt that the PCR can measure how much a person is “burdened” with a disease-causing virus, the following experiment would have had to be carried out (which has not yet happened):

You take, let’s say, a few hundred or even thousand people and remove tissue samples from them. Make sure the people who take the samples do not perform the test.The testers will never know who the patients are and what condition they’re in. The testers run their PCR on the tissue samples. In each case, they say which virus they found and how much of it they found. Then, for example, in patients 29, 86, 199, 272, and 293 they found a great deal of what they claim is a virus. Now we un-blind those patients. They should all be sick, because they have so much virus replicating in their bodies. But are they really sick — or are they fit as a fiddle?

With the help of the aforementioned lawyer Viviane Fischer, I finally got the Charité to also answer the question of whether the test developed by Corman et al. — the so-called “Drosten PCR test” — is a quantitative test.

But the Charité was not willing to answer this question “yes”. Instead, the Charité wrote:

If real-time RT-PCR is involved, to the knowledge of the Charité in most cases these are […] limited to qualitative detection.”

Furthermore, the “Drosten PCR test” uses the unspecific E-gene assay as preliminary assay, while the Institut Pasteur uses the same assay as confirmatory assay.

According to Corman et al., the E-gene assay is likely to detect all Asian viruses, while the other assays in both tests are supposed to be more specific for sequences labelled “SARS-CoV-2”.

Besides the questionable purpose of having either a preliminary or a confirmatory test that is likely to detect all Asian viruses, at the beginning of April the WHO changed the algorithm, recommending that from then on a test can be regarded as “positive” even if just the E-gene assay (which is likely to detect all Asian viruses!) gives a “positive” result.

This means that a confirmed unspecific test result is officially sold as specific.

That change of algorithm increased the “case” numbers. Tests using the E-gene assay are produced for example by Roche, TIB Molbiol and R-Biopharm.

High CQ values make the test results even more meaningless

Another essential problem is that many PCR tests have a “cycle quantification” (Cq) value of over 35, and some, including the “Drosten PCR test”, even have a Cq of 45.

The Cq value specifies how many cycles of DNA replication are required to detect a real signal from biological samples.

“Cq values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” as it says in the MIQE guidelines.

MIQE stands for “Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments”, a set of guidelines that describe the minimum information necessary for evaluating publications on Real-Time PCR, also called quantitative PCR, or qPCR.

The inventor himself, Kary Mullis, agreed, when he stated:

If you have to go more than 40 cycles to amplify a single-copy gene, there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.”

The MIQE guidelines have been developed under the aegis of Stephen A. Bustin, Professor of Molecular Medicine, a world-renowned expert on quantitative PCR and author of the book A-Z of Quantitative PCR which has been called “the bible of qPCR.”

In a recent podcast interview Bustin points out that “the use of such arbitrary Cq cut-offs is not ideal, because they may be either too low (eliminating valid results) or too high (increasing false “positive” results).”

And, according to him, a Cq of 20 to 30 should be aimed at, and there is concern regarding the reliability of the results for any Cq over 35.

If the Cq value gets too high, it becomes difficult to distinguish real signal from background, for example due to reactions of primers and fluorescent probes, and hence there is a higher probability of false positives.

Moreover, among other factors that can alter the result, before starting with the actual PCR, in case you are looking for presumed RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the RNA must be converted to complementary DNA (cDNA) with the enzyme Reverse Transcriptase—hence the “RT” at the beginning of “PCR” or “qPCR.”

But this transformation process is “widely recognized as inefficient and variable,” as Jessica Schwaber from the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine in Toronto and two research colleagues pointed out in a 2019 paper.

Stephen A. Bustin acknowledges problems with PCR in a comparable way.

For example, he pointed to the problem that in the course of the conversion process (RNA to cDNA) the amount of DNA obtained with the same RNA base material can vary widely, even by a factor of 10 (see above interview).

Considering that the DNA sequences get doubled at every cycle, even a slight variation becomes magnified and can thus alter the result, annihilating the test’s reliable informative value.

So how can it be that those who claim the PCR tests are highly meaningful for so-called COVID-19 diagnosis blind out the fundamental inadequacies of these tests—even if they are confronted with questions regarding their validity?

Certainly, the apologists of the novel coronavirus hypothesis should have dealt with these questions before throwing the tests on the market and putting basically the whole world under lockdown, not least because these are questions that come to mind immediately for anyone with even a spark of scientific understanding.

Thus, the thought inevitably emerges that financial and political interests play a decisive role for this ignorance about scientific obligations. NB, the WHO, for example has financial ties with drug companies, as the British Medical Journal showed in 2010.

And experts criticize “that the notorious corruption and conflicts of interest at WHO have continued, even grown“ since then. The CDC as well, to take another big player, is obviously no better off.

Finally, the reasons and possible motives remain speculative, and many involved surely act in good faith; but the science is clear: The numbers generated by these RT-PCR tests do not in the least justify frightening people who have been tested “positive” and imposing lockdown measures that plunge countless people into poverty and despair or even drive them to suicide.

And a “positive” result may have serious consequences for the patients as well, because then all non-viral factors are excluded from the diagnosis and the patients are treated with highly toxic drugs and invasive intubations. Especially for elderly people and patients with pre-existing conditions such a treatment can be fatal, as we have outlined in the article “Fatal Therapie.”

Without doubt eventual excess mortality rates are caused by the therapy and by the lockdown measures, while the “COVID-19” death statistics comprise also patients who died of a variety of diseases, redefined as COVID-19 only because of a “positive” test result whose value could not be more doubtful.

Addendum: We thank Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos and Val Turner in particular who made valuable contributions to the realization of this article.

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Torsten Engelbrecht is an award-winning journalist and author from Hamburg, Germany. In 2006 he co-authored Virus-Mania with Dr Klaus Kohnlein, and in 2009 he won the German Alternate Media Award. He has also written for Rubikon, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Financial Times Deutschland and many others.

Konstantin Demeter is a freelance photographer and an independent researcher. Together with the journalist Torsten Engelbrecht he has published articles on the “COVID-19” crisis in the online magazine Rubikon, as well as contributions on the monetary system, geopolitics, and the media in Swiss Italian newspapers.

Notes

[1] Sensitivity is defined as the proportion of patients with disease in whom the test is positive; and specificity is defined as the proportion of patients without disease in whom the test is negative.

[2] E-mail from Prof. Thomas Löscher from March 6, 2020

[3] Martin Enserink. Virology. Old guard urges virologists to go back to basics, Science, July 6, 2001, p. 24

[4] E-mail from Charles Calisher from May 10, 2020

[5] Creative Diagnostics, SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Multiplex RT-qPCR Kit

The following is an important article by Dr. Ronald B Brown’s focussing on coronavirus mortality overestimation.

This scientific contribution provides and understanding of the Covid crisis and the often misleading estimates provided by our health authorities.

Our thanks to Dr. Brown, Guelph U and Cambridge University Press  (emphasis added)

Selected quotes

Based on the data available at the time, Congress was informed that the estimated mortality rate for the coronavirus was 10-times higher than for seasonal influenza, which helped launch a campaign of social distancing, organizational and business lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders.

Sampling bias in coronavirus mortality calculations led to a 10-fold increased mortality overestimation in March 11, 2020, US Congressional testimony. This bias most likely followed from information bias due to misclassifying a seasonal influenza IFR as a CFR, evident in a NEJM.org editorial.

Evidence from the WHO confirmed that the approximate CFR of the coronavirus is generally no higher than that of seasonal influenza. By early May 2020, mortality levels from COVID-19 were considerably below predicted overestimations, a result that the public attributed to successful mitigating measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This article presented important public health lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Reliable safeguards are needed in epidemiological research to prevent seemingly minor miscalculations from developing into disasters.

Published online in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM.org), the editorial stated:

…the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).”4

****

Abstract

In testimony before US Congress on March 11, 2020, members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee were informed that estimated mortality for the novel coronavirus was 10-times higher than for seasonal influenza. Additional evidence, however, suggests the validity of this estimation could benefit from vetting for biases and miscalculations. The main objective of this article is to critically appraise the coronavirus mortality estimation presented to Congress. Informational texts from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are compared with coronavirus mortality calculations in Congressional testimony. Results of this critical appraisal reveal information bias and selection bias in coronavirus mortality overestimation, most likely caused by misclassifying an influenza infection fatality rate as a case fatality rate. Public health lessons learned for future infectious disease pandemics include: safeguarding against research biases that may underestimate or overestimate an associated risk of disease and mortality; reassessing the ethics of fear-based public health campaigns; and providing full public disclosure of adverse effects from severe mitigation measures to contain viral transmission.

***

On September 23, 1998, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) permanently lost contact with the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter.1 A simple miscalculation, failure to convert English measurements to metric measurements, doomed the Mars space mission.2 A later investigation found that backup quality assurance procedures were not in place at NASA to catch and correct this simple miscalculation. Fast forward 22 years to another crisis involving a US government agency: On March 11, 2020, the US Congress House Oversight and Reform Committee received information from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) concerning the novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and coronavirus-disease 2019 (COVID-19).3 Based on the data available at the time, Congress was informed that the estimated mortality rate for the coronavirus was 10-times higher than for seasonal influenza, which helped launch a campaign of social distancing, organizational and business lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders.

Previous to the Congressional hearing, a less severe estimation of coronavirus mortality appeared in a February 28, 2020 editorial released by NIAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Published online in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM.org), the editorial stated:

…the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).”4

Almost as a parenthetical afterthought, the NEJM editorial inaccurately stated that 0.1% is the approximate case fatality rate of seasonal influenza. By contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 0.1% or lower is the approximate influenza infection fatality rate,5 not the case fatality rate. To fully appreciate the significance of discrepancies in fatality rate usage by NIAID, the CDC, and the WHO, brief definitions of relevant epidemiological terms follow.

Case fatality rates (CFRs), infection fatality rates (IFRs), and mortality rates are used by epidemiologists to describe deaths during and after an infectious disease outbreak. The CDC defined a mortality rate as the frequency of deaths within a time period relative to the size of a well-defined population.6 Patients may be classified as having an influenza-like illness (ILI) such as COVID-19 according to standard criteria in a case definition.7 A CFR is defined as the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases of the disease. CFRs indicate the disease severity, while an IFR is defined as the proportion of deaths relative to the prevalence of infections within a population.8 IFRs are estimated following an outbreak, often based on representative samples of blood tests of the immune system in individuals exposed to a virus. Estimation of the IFR in COVID-19 is urgently needed to assess the scale of the coronavirus pandemic.9

Because different types of fatality rates can vary widely, it is imperative to not confuse fatality rates with one another; else misleading calculations with significant consequences could result. As of late spring 2020, a search of the keyword term “infection fatality rate” on the CDC website returned no matching results or similar terms, nor was the epidemiological term located in the 511-page CDC publication, Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice. (The CDC eventually introduced the Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR) on July 10, 2020 “as a new parameter value for disease severity.”10) This terminology omission, in conjunction with questionable use of fatality rate terminology in the NEJM editorial, raises red flags, warning of possible inaccuracies in the coronavirus mortality estimation presented to Congress. Similar to the need to vet for miscalculations that might have rescued NASA’s 1998 Mars mission, vetting the coronavirus mortality estimation for miscalculations and biases may benefit the validity of mortality conclusions. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to present an ad hoc critical appraisal of the coronavirus mortality estimation presented to US Congress on March 11, 2020.

Findings from a comparative analysis of selected video and texts are used in this article to critically appraise the validity of coronavirus mortality calculations presented in US Congressional testimony. Critical appraisal is a process that judges the validity of scientific research evidence.11 Comparative analysis is a tool used in a grounded theory methodology to investigate an unexplored area through logical induction of coherent themes and explanations that are grounded in empirical evidence.12 Text from the February 2020 NEJM.org editorial and video of Congressional testimony are compared with reliable informational texts from the WHO and CDC. Inconsistencies, inaccuracies, biases, utilization, and consequences of the coronavirus mortality estimation are discussed.

In NIAID testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee Hearing on Coronavirus response, Day 1,3 the Committee learned that mortality from seasonal influenza is 0.1%. Additionally, it was reported to Congress that the overall coronavirus mortality of approximately 2-3% had been reduced to 1% to take into account infected people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The adjusted mortality rate from coronavirus of 1% was then compared with the 0.1% mortality rate from seasonal influenza, and the conclusion was reported to the House Committee that the coronavirus was 10-times more lethal than seasonal influenza.

In a comparative analysis with WHO and CDC documents, the coronavirus mortality rate of 2-3% that was adjusted to 1% in Congressional testimony is consistent with the coronavirus CFR of 1.8-3.4% (median, 2.6%) reported by the CDC.13 Furthermore, the WHO reported that the CFR of the H1N1 influenza virus (1918) is also 2-3%,14 similar to the unadjusted 2-3% CFR of the coronavirus reported in Congressional testimony, with no meaningful difference in mortality. As previously mentioned, the WHO also reported that 0.1% is the IFR of seasonal influenza,5 not the CFR of seasonal influenza as reported in the NEJM editorial.

Discussion

Confusion between CFRs and IFRs may seem trivial, and it is easy to overlook at first, but this confusion may have ultimately led to an unintentional miscalculation in coronavirus mortality estimation. IFRs from samples across the population include undiagnosed, asymptomatic, and mild infections, and are often lower compared with CFRs, which are based exclusively on relatively smaller groups of moderately to severely ill diagnosed cases at the beginning of an outbreak. Due to host defense mechanisms and autoimmunity provided by innate and adaptive immune responses,15 asymptomatic infections are often prevalent in influenza.16 With many asymptomatic infections already identified in COVID-19,17 it appears unlikely that the IFR in an ILI like COVID-19 would approximate the disease’s CFR. Presymptomatic infections can also lower the proportion of asymptomatic infections. For example, a CDC report found that asymptomatic individuals identified through reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing developed symptoms a week later, and those individuals were re-classified as having been presymptomatic at the time of testing.18

In Figure 1, 4 cases grouped in the dotted-line box are also included among 7 infections, illustrating that all cases are infections but not all infections are cases, a potential point of confusion in media reports of COVID-19. For example, a high number of coronavirus infections were discovered in US meat-packing plants in Iowa,19 but these infections were reported as cases in the media,20potentially causing a type of information bias known as misclassification.21 Misclassification refers to “the erroneous classification of an individual, a value, or an attribute into a category other than that to which it should be assigned.”22 This type of information bias in epidemiological research can lead to underestimates or overestimates of associated disease and mortality risks.21

FIGURE 1 CFR and IFR. 1 fatality / 4 cases = 25% CFR. 1 fatality / 7 infections = 14.28% IFR.

CFRs and IFRs represent different segments of a targeted population and contain widely different proportions of nonfatal infections; therefore, misapplying findings or generalizing inferences between these 2 groups can cause a type of selection bias known as sampling bias23 or ascertainment bias.24 In this type of bias, people do not represent segments of the population to whom findings apply. Furthermore, “…comparisons of the CFR of 1 disease with the IFR of another are mostly useless,”25 and sampling bias can lead to serious inaccuracies, as when Congress was informed that the coronavirus is 10-times more lethal than seasonal influenza.

A comparison of coronavirus and seasonal influenza CFRs may have been intended during Congressional testimony, but due to misclassifying an IFR as a CFR, the comparison turned out to be between an adjusted coronavirus CFR of 1% and an influenza IFR of 0.1%. Had the adjusted coronavirus mortality rate not been lowered from 3% to 1%, fatality comparisons of the coronavirus to the IFR of seasonal influenza would have increased from 10-times higher to 20- to 30-times higher. By then, epidemiologists might have been alerted to the possibility of a miscalculation in such an alarming estimation.

Quality Assurance

Most people rely on trusted public health experts from organizations like the CDC to disseminate vital information on infectious diseases.26 Unfortunately, even experts can make simple miscalculations that can lead to catastrophic results. In the example of NASA’s lost Mars Climate Orbiter, the NASA board investigating the failed mission recognized that mistakes happen on projects, “However, sufficient processes are usually in place on projects to catch these mistakes before they become critical to mission success.”2 The NASA board also recognized the importance of quality assurance procedures to prevent future failures. Of relevance, in 2018, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provided an exemplary definition of quality assurance (QA) in clinical and health sciences:

“The objectives of QA procedures are to assure the accuracy and consistency of study data, from the original observations through the reporting of results and to ensure that study results are considered valid and credible within the scientific and clinical communities.”27

Similar to NASA’s quality assurance problems in 1998, quality assurance procedures at US national public health organizations in 2020 may benefit from review and revision to prevent crucial mortality miscalculations of infectious diseases in the future. As a safeguard against misuse of fatality rates, and protection in the event of nonstandardized or inter-organizational discrepancies in terminology, every fatality rate should clearly define the denominator of the rate as the specific group to whom fatalities apply, either to the total population in mortality rates, confirmed cases of a disease in CFRs, or individuals exposed to a viral infection in IFRs.

Mitigation Measures

As the campaign to mitigate coronavirus transmission was implemented from March into May, 2020, expected coronavirus mortality totals in the United States appeared much lower than the overestimation reported in Congressional testimony on March 11. Compared with the most recent season of severe influenza A (H3N2) in 2017-2018,28 with 80,000 US deaths reported by CDC officials,29 US coronavirus mortality totals had just reached 80,000 on May 9, 2020.30 By then, relative to the 2017-2018 influenza, it was clear that the coronavirus mortality total for the season would be nowhere near 800,000 deaths inferred from the 10-fold mortality overestimation reported to Congress. Even after adjusting for the effect of successful mitigation measures that may have slowed down the rate of coronavirus transmission, it seems unlikely that so many deaths were completely eliminated by a nonpharmaceutical intervention such as social distancing, which was only intended to contain infection transmission, not suppress infections and related fatalities.31Also in early May, 2020, a New York State survey of 1269 COVID-19 patients recently admitted to 113 hospitals found that most of the patients had been following shelter-in-place orders for 6 wk, which raised state officials’ suspicions about social distancing effectiveness.32 Still, polls showed the public credited social distancing and other mitigation measures for reducing predicted COVID-19 deaths, and for keeping people safe from the coronavirus.33,34

Surprisingly, disproportionate mortality increases in Italian and American health-care facilities during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak were not unique; similar health-care facility crises occurred during the 2016-2017 influenza season in Italy,35 and during the 2017-2018 influenza season in the United States.36 Yet, these earlier outbreaks did not appear to receive the same intensive media coverage as COVID-19. Although media reports of new coronavirus infections reinforced the public’s belief that the virus was continuing to spread, greater levels of testing may have increased detection of infections that were already prevalent throughout the population. In addition, the accuracy of coronavirus tests rushed into production during the pandemic were unknown.37 RT-PCR testing has been in use since the detection of the A (H5N1) influenza virus in 2005,38 but a serious limitation of RT-PCR testing is that nucleic acid detection is not capable of determining the difference between infective and noninfective viruses.39 Moreover, the CDC modified criteria to record coronavirus mortality by including “probable” and “likely” deaths in the International Classification of Diseases code (ICD) for COVID-19.40

By June 21, new daily deaths from the coronavirus dropped to 267 in the United States, a 90% decrease from 2693 daily deaths reported on April 21.30 However, confirmed cases in some areas increased as lockdowns lifted,41 and total US infections had reached 1,254,055 by June 21.30 Several reasons in addition to increased viral transmission could account for case increases. For example, ill people may no longer fear going to hospitals as society reopens,42 and coronavirus testing may also result in greater differential diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infections from other common respiratory viral infections.43 With more reported cases of COVID-19 in younger people following reopening,44 CFRs could actually decline due to lower associated mortality risk in this age group. Furthermore, country comparisons of coronavirus CFRs are often confounded by numerous factors,45 including health-care differences in case definitions, access to quality treatment and reliable testing, compliance with mitigation measures, and underlying health conditions; demographic differences in age, race, socioeconomic status, and population density; and geo-political differences including climate, seasonality, environmental pollution, social inequities and unrest, personal liberties, public health policies, reliability in reporting valid government statistics of disease, and lifestyle customs that affect physical and mental health, public sanitation, and personal hygiene. Ultimately, with a myriad of uncontrolled confounding factors, a serosurvey of representative samples of a population is a more reliable method to determine the true prevalence of coronavirus infections.

Emerging confounding factors in the United States have also contributed to a rising mortality trend in ILIs such as COVID-19. For example, each year surviving members of the ageing Baby-Boomer cohort of 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964 enter the high-risk category for ILIs, increasing the burden placed on health-care systems.46 Also, research shows that a warming trend in the Artic can lead to more extreme winter weather conditions, especially in the Eastern United States,47 which may play a role in rising mortality rates from ILIs during the influenza season.

As health authorities responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing lockdowns and other mitigation measures with minimal supporting evidence, scientists warned of “a fiasco in the making,”48 Caution was also raised against violations of fundamental principles of science and logic, such as the mistaken assumption that correlation implies causation.45 For example, the public’s belief that mitigation measures were responsible for reducing coronavirus mortality may be a post hoc fallacy if lower mortality was actually due to the overestimation of coronavirus deaths. Furthermore, implementing the unconfirmed hypothesis that mitigation measures save lives in vulnerable populations, and rejecting the null hypothesis that assumes no life-saving effect exists, is a type I error in hypothesis testing.49 The null hypothesis does not assume a priori knowledge. Therefore, before implementing mitigation measures that incur severe costs, the onus is on mitigation proponents to formally reject the null hypothesis by justifying claims of life-saving benefits. Additionally, education in principles of basic research methods is essential for consumers of public health research, and there is a need to increase instruction in the science and logic of research methods in general education curricula.50More research of nondrug mitigation interventions is also urgently needed to prevent COVID-19, especially in vulnerable populations.51

Scientists also warned of public health decisions made without reliable data of infection prevalence within the population.45,48Lacking valid input data due to insufficient testing for disease prevalence, statistical modeling methods often relied on speculative assumptions, producing fearful predictions of increased mortality, which have often proved unreliable.52 A systematic review found that most diagnostic and predictive models for COVID-19 lack rigor, have a high risk of selection bias, and are likely to have lower predictive performance in actual practice compared with optimistic reports published in the research literature.53

A revised version of a non–peer-reviewed study on COVID-19 antibody seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California, found that infections were many times more prevalent than confirmed cases.54 As more serosurveys are conducted throughout the country, a nationally coordinated COVID-19 serosurvey of a representative sample of the population is urgently needed,55 which can determine if the national IFR is low enough to expedite an across-the-board end to restrictive mitigating measures. Plans for a national US serosurvey were announced in April 2020 by the National Institutes of Health, to be conducted by NIAID and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), with the assistance of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).56 Of relevance, nationwide mitigation measures, such as lockdowns, social distancing, and shelter-in-place orders, were not implemented during the 2017-2018 influenza with 45 million US illnesses reported by the CDC.57 Neither were mitigation measures implemented during the 2009 influenza, with reported estimates adjusted for underreported hospitalizations of approximately 60.8 million US cases, ranging between 43.3 million to 89.3 million cases.58

Fear and Collateral Damage

Psychological adverse effects, such as anxiety, anger, and posttraumatic stress, have been linked to restrictive public health mitigation measures due to isolation, frustration, financial loss, and fear of infection.59,60 A June 8, 2020, survey from the Association for Canadian Studies found that fear of contracting the coronavirus affected 51% of the Canadian population, compared with 56% of the US population.61 Venturing out into public during the reopening phase of the lockdown was stressful to 50% of Canadians compared with 56% of Americans. A second wave of the virus was also expected by 76% of Canadians and 64% of Americans. Furthermore, the possibility exists that yet another novel virus could emerge, potentially reigniting a perpetual process of unfounded fear and unnecessary lockdowns if mortality estimations are not properly vetted.

Fear, in contrast to moral civic duty and political orientation, was shown to be a more powerful predictor of compliance with mitigating behavior in response to a viral pandemic, but with decreasing well-being and poorer decision-making.62 Studies have shown that fear impairs performance of cognitive tasks through debilitating anxiety and worry.63 Even if a threat ceases to exist, prolonged fearful avoidance of threats is maladaptive and restricts a return to normal social interaction and productivity.64 For example, after the outbreak of SARS had ended in 2004, avoidance behavior continued to restrict people’s social interactions and prevented people from returning to work.65

Exaggerated levels of fear were driven by sensationalist media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.45,66,67 And yet, while the public was ordered to lockdown, overall costs and benefits to society from severe mitigation measures had not been assessed.45Fear of infection also prevented people from seeking needed health-care services in hospitals during the pandemic.68 The ethics of implementing fear-based public health campaigns needs to be reevaluated for the potential harm these strategies can cause.69 Dissemination of vital health information to the public should use emotionally persuasive messaging without exploiting and encouraging overreactions based on fear.

In addition, legal and ethical violations associated with mitigation of pandemic diseases were previously investigated by the Institute of Medicine in 2007.70 People should have the right to full disclosure of all information pertinent to adverse impacts of mitigation measures during a pandemic, including information on legal and constitutional human rights issues,45 and the public should be guaranteed a voice in a transparent process as authorities establish public health policy.

Last, severe mitigating measures during the COVID-19 pandemic caused considerable global social and economic disruption.71Enforced lockdowns increased domestic violence, closed businesses and schools, laid off workers, restricted travel, affected capital markets, threatened the security of low-income families, and saddled governments with massive debt. Between February and April 2020, US unemployment rose from 3.5%, the lowest in 50 years, to 14.7%.72 A recession in the United States was also officially declared in June 2020 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, ending 128 months of historic economic expansion. Of relevance, economic downturns are associated with higher suicide rates compared with times of prosperity, and increased suicide risk may be associated with economic stress as a consequence of severe mitigation measures during a pandemic.73 Relapses and newly diagnosed cases of alcohol use disorder were also predicted to increase due to social isolation, and harmful drinking in China increased 2-fold following the COVID-19 outbreak.74 As a global natural experiment, psychological outcomes from restrictive interventions in the COVID-19 pandemic require further investigations.75

Public health lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic contribute knowledge and insights that can be applied to prevent future public health crises.76 Figure 2 shows a flow chart that summarizes biases and potential effects of viral mortality overestimation observed in a pandemic. Failure to intervene at the source of the problem, at the upstream levels of information bias and sampling bias, can allow fear to rapidly escalate and may cause an overactive response that produces severely harmful collateral damage to society.

FIGURE 2 Biases and Potential Related Effects of Virus Mortality Overestimation.

Conclusions

Sampling bias in coronavirus mortality calculations led to a 10-fold increased mortality overestimation in March 11, 2020, US Congressional testimony. This bias most likely followed from information bias due to misclassifying a seasonal influenza IFR as a CFR, evident in a NEJM.org editorial. Evidence from the WHO confirmed that the approximate CFR of the coronavirus is generally no higher than that of seasonal influenza. By early May 2020, mortality levels from COVID-19 were considerably below predicted overestimations, a result that the public attributed to successful mitigating measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This article presented important public health lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Reliable safeguards are needed in epidemiological research to prevent seemingly minor miscalculations from developing into disasters. Sufficient organizational quality assurance procedures should be implemented in public health institutions to check, catch, and correct research biases and mistakes that underestimate or overestimate associated risks of disease and mortality. Particularly, the denominator of fatality rates should clearly define the group to whom fatalities apply. Public health campaigns based on fear can have harmful effects, and the ethics of such campaigns should be reevaluated. People need to have a greater voice in a transparent process that influences public health policy during an outbreak, and educational curricula should include basic research methods to teach people how to be better consumers of public health information. The public should also be fully informed of the adverse impacts on psychological well-being, human rights issues, social disruption, and economic costs associated with restrictive public health interventions during a pandemic.

In closing, nations across the globe may fearfully anticipate future waves of the coronavirus pandemic, and look bleakly toward outbreaks of other novel viral infections with a return to severe mitigation measures. However, well-worn advice from a famous aphorism by the poet philosopher George Santayana should be borne in mind, which is relevant to public health lessons learned in this article: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”77

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Notes

1.NASA. Mars Climate Orbiter. NASA Science Web site. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/mars-climate-orbiter/in-depth/. Published July 25, 2019. Accessed May 11, 2020.Google Scholar

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The Republican Party of Texas executive committee has taken a heroic action that could serve as an example for Republican and Democratic parties across America. It has adopted, by a 54 to 4 vote, a resolution clearly and emphatically demanding that Texas Governor Greg Abbott immediately end all the liberty-repressing measures that, over the last six months while the state legislature has been in recess, Abbott has imposed unilaterally in the name of countering coronavirus.

The rebuke and demand of the resolution are particularly strong given that they come from Abbott’s own party.

The resolution repeatedly and strongly condemns state and local government measures taken in Texas purportedly to counter coronavirus. It states, for example, that “egregious government overreach has resulted in unthinkable depredations upon the people of Texas, including millions left unemployed, countless businesses bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy, nursing home residents dying alone and isolated, lives ruined and dreams destroyed.”

The resolution concludes with this strong and clear demand:

Therefore be it resolved, the Republican Party of Texas calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to immediately rescind all COVID-related mandates, closures, and restrictions and to open Texas NOW. A copy of this resolution shall be sent by the Republican Party of Texas to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Republican State Senators, and Republican State Representatives.

Read the complete resolution, along with some background information, in Brandon Waltens’ Monday Texas Scorecard article here.

Listen to prominent Texas libertarian Ron Paul and his co-host Daniel McAdams discuss this important resolution in the Tuesday episode of the Ron Paul Liberty Report here.

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When completed and operational, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany will double the amount of natural gas Gazprom will be able to supply the country and other European ones — at around a 30% lower cost than US LNG.

That’s why the project is invaluable to beneficiary Western European countries.

Washington wants the project blocked to benefit US LNG producers, harming Russia economically at the same time.

Section 7503(d) of the US FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is titled “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA) of 2019 (sic).”

It calls for vessels involved in Nord Stream 2 to “immediately cease construction-related activity…wind(ing) down” their operations.

The US diktat applies to “involved parties that have knowingly sold, leased, or provided vessels that are engaged in pipe laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of Nord Stream 2.”

Parties not complying with the US diktat face sanctions as explained in PEESA.

At the time, the US State Department defied reality, calling Nord Stream 2 “a tool Russia is using to support its continued aggression against Ukraine (sic).”

“Russia seeks to prevent it from integrating more closely with Europe and the United States (sic).”

“Nord Stream 2 would enable Russia to bypass Ukraine for gas transit to Europe, which would deprive Ukraine of substantial transit revenues and increase its vulnerability to Russian aggression (sic).”

“Nord Stream 2 would also help maintain Europe’s significant reliance on imports of Russian natural gas, which creates economic and political vulnerabilities for our European partners and allies (sic).”

“For these reasons, the United States Government and a plurality of European countries oppose Nord Stream 2 (sic).”

On December 31, 2019, Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz signed a five-year deal for Russian gas to transit through Ukrainian territory.

At the time, international oil economist Mamdouh Salamezh said the deal “protects the mutual interests of both countries economically and geopolitically,” adding:

It could improve bilateral relations overall and shows Gazprom to be a “reliable (EU) partner.”

The deal assured no disruption of gas through Ukraine after Nord Stream 2 becomes operational.

At the time, Germany’s Angela Merkel said the following:

“I am glad that one and a half years of talks on Russian gas transit through Ukraine could be successfully concluded.”

“Continued gas transit…is a good and important signal that our European gas supply (from Russia) will be guaranteed.”

Analyst Thierry Bros noted that that Gazprom/Naftogaz deal secured the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, along with showing that Moscow is a reliable supplier to other European countries.

Time and again, actions by Russia show that it’s a dependable good neighbor, a valued political, economic and trade partner that prioritizes cooperative relations with other nations — polar opposite how the US operates.

Its actions and above State Department remarks reflect its hegemonic agenda at the expense of other nations and their populations.

On Monday, Pompeo said the Trump regime is “working (on) build(ing) a coalition (of European countries) that prevents” Nord Stream 2’s completion.

Was the Navalny novichok poisoning hoax a made-in-the-USA plot to try undermining the project?

Clearly, Russia had nothing to do with his illness aboard a flight to Moscow.

Russian doctors in Omsk performed heroically to save his life, stabilizing him, and finding no toxins of any kind in his blood, urine, liver, or elsewhere in his system.

He’s alive, recuperating, and ambulatory in Berlin because of treatment they provided.

Merkel said Nord Stream 2 and the Navalny incident are separate issues. She favors completion of the project.

Separately, Russia’s envoy to Germany Sergey Nechaev said “(w)e absolutely cannot agree with the ultimatum statement that the Russian government has anything to do with” the Navalny incident, adding:

“We cannot accept ultimatums and threats with sanctions. I regret the anti-Russian hysteria artificially incited in this context.”

Nord Stream 2’s completion is vital for Germany and other European countries that will benefit greatly from low-cost, readily available, Russian natural gas.

If it becomes operational in the coming months, it’ll also be another blow to Washington’s hegemonic project.

Note: On Thursday and Friday at a summit of EU leaders, Nord Stream 2 is on their agenda to discuss.

The fate of the project may be decided at that time.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The long-standing plan to turn Russia against Kazakhstan, or vice versa, does not go out of the heads of security opponents in the Eurasian space. Current events in Belarus are also heating up this topic. After all, Kazakhstan, geographically, like Belarus, is not just any other country, but a huge geopolitical node that connects huge regions. Therefore, we should pay more attention right now to maintaining stability around Kazakhstan.

Since the 1990s, attempts have been made to provoke a quarrel between Kazakhstan and Russia, with the help of Moscow’s alleged territorial claims to this southern neighbor, and above all, the issue of the territories of Northern Kazakhstan. This topic was actively developed by a number of marginal Russian radicals who directly made claims to Kazakhstan, but, unfortunately, the authorities then did not reach them. In the following years, these radicals were fairly reliably deactivated, and some were directly sent to prison.

However, the topic of Russia’s “claims” to Kazakhstan over its Northern territories, which are “native Russian”, has not gone away. Moreover, it was adopted by American specialists who pursue the same goal: the collapse of Russian-Kazakh relations and the Republic of Kazakhstan itself. After that, as the opponents of Russian-Kazakh integration assume, it will be quite easy to make a reliable barrier between the Russian Federation and the whole of Central Asia out of the ruined Kazakhstan.

The US is pursuing a destructive policy not only in relation to the prospects of the Russia-Kazakhstan pair, but also seeks to make cracks in Moscow’s relations with all post-Soviet capitals. And not only with them, but also on a wider global spectrum. Everyone remembers that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, she clearly stated that the United States will not allow the creation of the Eurasian economic Union (EEU), as well as the development of any form of integration between the former Soviet republics at a new historical stage.

In this sense, normal relations between Russia and Kazakhstan are an insurmountable obstacle to this plan, and, accordingly, unacceptable for Washington. Thus, the artificial maintenance of a territorial conflict that is “smoldering”, in the opinion of our opponents, becomes one of the main tools.

However, such a plan has almost no chance of practical implementation, since the thesis promoted by American experts about Russia’s territorial claims to Northern Kazakhstan has nothing in common with reality. Russia unequivocally supports the existing borders and territorial integrity of the countries of the region. If we talk about relations between the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, it is a strategic partnership, in which the above-mentioned issues are completely absent.

Kazakhstan is the main initiator of the creation of the EEU, which in itself indicates the state’s views on Eurasian integration, where there is no place for discussions about border issues. The EEU is by definition an economic, not a political structure, so it is impossible to throw into it destructive topics that are not related to the daily progressive work. This initial formulation of the issue allows Russia and Kazakhstan to actively develop within the framework of the EEU, where, while preserving state borders and sovereignty, the possibility of economic growth is guaranteed for all participating countries.

If you look at Russian-Kazakh relations in the historical aspect, you can see how highly Moscow has valued for centuries such an enduring value as the commonality of the Russian and Kazakh peoples, both as part of the Russian Empire and the USSR. For this fundamental, unchangeable reason, Moscow still pays special attention to the prospects of relations with Nur-Sultan in the new geopolitical conditions. Conditions are changing, but the foundation for the Russian-Kazakh alliance remains. This formula will remain unchanged in the future.

However, it should be borne in mind that American strategists will not leave Russian-Kazakh relations alone and will make further attempts to hinder their development, including on the Eurasian scale as a whole. The destabilization of the socio-economic and political situation in the entire post-Soviet field, in order to strengthen the presence of the United States itself, remains one of the main challenges for the space of our integration, as well as for other key geopolitical regions of the world.

The main guarantee against such threats is the steady strengthening of the economies of all the EAEU countries, with the further expansion of the influence of this non-political organization. We can only live better together. And our mutual economic success will leave no room for any political insinuations, no matter who tries to export them here and from where.

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An organization calling itself Internet Law Reform Dialogue or “iLaw” has for over a month now been organizing a petition nationwide at literally every anti-government rally – big or small, at every opposition venue or office headquarters, and at every major university campus calling for the rewriting of Thailand’s constitution. 

This campaign included a well-funded online marketing campaign along with physical tents and booths with professionally printed banners, brochures, flags, and equipment set up across the entire nation.

Despite this massive month-plus long effort which also included a “mail-in” signature drive, iLaw failed to collect even 100,000 from Thailand’s nearly 70 million population by the time the opposition organized its anemic September 19th rally last weekend despite rewriting the constitution being one of the three core demands of so-called “pro-democracy” protesters.

The US Government Funds iLaw and its Efforts to Rewrite Thailand’s Constitution  

Recent news articles like Bangkok Post’s, “Law reform group pitches charter rewrite to public,” would claim:

The Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw) says it will formally present a people’s version of a bill to draft a new constitution to Parliament on Tuesday.

The article claims that the petition was signed by up to 90,000 people by the time of the September 19th rally.

The article also claims:

iLaw is considering holding a series of forums to show the public why the 2017 charter — drafted at the behest of the military junta and approved in a referendum where dissent was suppressed — must be rewritten, [iLaw representative] Mr Yingcheep said.

What Bangkok Post and others reporting on iLaw and its petition do not report is the fact that iLaw is funded by US-based corporate foundations and the US government via its notorious regime change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The US NED’s own official website lists iLaw as “Internet Law Reform Dialogue” and notes that it receives over 1.5 million Thai Baht a year, claiming:

To foster public understanding and dialogue on the impact of existing and new laws on civil and political rights and to promote freedom of expression. The organization will monitor and assess political and governance processes, as well as the various laws inherited from the military government, and provide the public with accessible analysis of their impact on citizens’ rights. It will also operate a documentation center to monitor and report on freedom of expression violations, and will collaborate with other civil society groups in advocating for democracy and human rights.

This US government-funded activity constitutes political interference and is an open violation of Thailand’s political independence as described and protected by the United Nations Charter. It is also political interference the United States itself would never tolerate from another nation.

iLaw itself admits on its own website that it is funded by the US government via the NED as well as by convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, stating (emphasis added):

Between 2009 and  2014 iLaw has received funding support from the Open Society Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and a one-time support grant from Google.

Between 2015 to present iLaw receives funding from funders as listed below

1. Open Society Foundation (OSF)
2. Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBF)
3. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
4. Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR)
5. American Jewish World Servic (AJWS)
6. One-time support donation from Google and other independent donors

The fact that it is a US government-funded organization helping advance one of the core demands of so-called “pro-democracy” protesters in Thailand – demands echoed by Thailand’s corrupt billionaire-led opposition consisting of fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party and Thanathorn Juangroongruengkit’s Move Forward Party – illustrates the foreign-funded nature of the opposition and current unrest it is organizing.

The fact that so few out of Thailand’s 70 million population supported the petition despite its central role in ongoing protests also illustrates how unpopular Thailand’s current opposition is.

Organizations like iLaw are able to operate specifically because of a Western media along with its local partners never mentioning the foreign-funded nature of their activities. When questions are raised, these same media organizations help iLaw and the US Embassy itself deny political interference.

For the US, its involvement in Thailand’s internal affairs stems from Thailand’s growing relationship with China and Washington’s desire to reverse this by placing into power political groups of its choosing.

China is now Thailand’s largest trading partner, investor, source of tourism, arms supplier, and a key partner for major infrastructure projects including a regional high-speed rail network.

What Should Thailand’s Response Be? 

Were another nation to target America’s internal political affairs in a similar manor – funding a group to organize a petition to rewrite the US Constitution and to do so specifically to make it easier for foreign-backed opposition figures to take power – the petition and the organizations promoting it would be fully removed politically and legally – with those involved likely facing jail.

It is difficult to predict how the Thai government will react to a US government-funded petition to rewrite Thailand’s own constitution.

Confronting iLaw’s US government funding would indirectly mean confronting the United States itself – a course of action Thailand would prefer to avoid in favor of practicing patience as American might wanes globally and Thailand’s legal structure carefully chips away at US-backed opposition groups locally.

Peacefully confronting iLaw organizers with a giant printed out image of its US NED funding alongside relevant Thai and international laws regarding political interference, treason, and sedition could work to place iLaw and the rest of the “pro-democracy” opposition’s foreign funding and meddling front and center in public debate if not in the middle of government decision-making owed to diplomatic concerns.

Such a move would also expose media organizations who have omitted or outright lied about iLaw’s funding consistently for months, rightfully undermining the public’s trust in these organizations forward into the future.

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Tony Cartalucci is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud’s actions during WWI eventually led to the founding of Saudi Arabia. To document a historically accurate account of his role, we examined in Part I three official documents from WWI. In Part II, we will examine one more war time declaration and narrate what really took place during that period.

4. The Balfour Declaration 

One of the most important statements of British foreign policy of the twentieth century, the ‘Balfour Declaration’ was no more than a short, vague letter that had no legal status. The Parliamen didn’t debate it. Yet, it was one of the most significant events leading ultimately to the creation of the state of Israel. Not to mention the conflict between Jews and Arabs ever since.

In this letter of November 2nd 1917, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, as a figurehead of the Jewish community in Britain:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Britain later incorporated this letter within the terms of it’s Mandate for Palestine. And so it became a legal requirement upon Britain.

To better understand the origins of the declaration, we examine a thoroughly documented paper by The Balfour Project. It documents critical details on why Britain’s War Cabinet at the time were so fervently predisposed to support the establishment of a ‘Jewish National Home’ in Arab inhabited Palestine.

With exhaustive references to literally dozens of books, news reports and Cabinet memorandums from The National Archives of the UK, the report paints a vivid picture of an ingenious manipulation behind the scenes – shaping the drafting, deliberations and the eventual adoption of this declaration. The unusual convergence of so many powerful and influential figures in British politics – including a current and a former Prime Ministers – in support of the Zionist cause isn’t lost on the authors. Detailed evidence suggest the entire British Empire, in its actions regarding the future of Palestine, behaved as a Zionist entity. In its analysis of the events, the paper states,

“It was widely believed that some mysterious but well-organised Jewish conspiracy was bent on determining the outcome of the war; their influence and, above all, their money, could sway Russia, the United States or Germany, to Britain’s good or ill. To gain the international favour of the Jews was therefore in Britain’s vital interest; to offend could be fatal. Since Weizmann implied that Zionism spoke for the Jews of the world, it followed that the Zionists should be helped. It was, [Prime Minister] Lloyd George wrote later, a question of making ‘a contract with Jewry’.”

It’s important to note that the British Cabinet, while adopting the Balfour Declaration, acted under the impression that majority of Jewish people worldwide were Zionists who would applaud Britain’s actions. However, in reality, Zionists remained a very small minority among Jews for many years to come.

For instance, in his book A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914-1922 (Penguin, London, 1991), David Fromkin calculates that in 1913, the last date for which there were figures, only about one percent of the world’s Jews had signified their adherence to Zionism (p. 294). In other words, even though the official narrative claims that the Balfour Declaration was adopted to favour Jewish people worldwide, the underlying truth suggests it was rather the Zionists within the British Empire (which was pretty much everybody who was anybody in British government at the time) who orchestrated this declaration; using the Jewish people’s plight as an excuse to justify this unjust enterprise.

It’s also remarkable that the debates and deliberations which preceded adoption of this declaration, did not include any Arab representation; nor did they think it necessary to do so. While Britain accepted that Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people, implying no place for the existing majority Arab population, very few Arabs were even aware that such a proposal was in the offing. And the Arabs in Palestine itself could not be consulted (then PM Lloyd George later argued) as they were in enemy territory, and were therefore deemed to be fighting against Britain.

Now, as we can see from reviewing the above four historical documents, British Empire, throughout their WWI campaign in the Middle East, played a cunning game of deception with the Arab people; making false promises with no intention of keeping them. A game all too common in empire-building, and certainly more so within the history of British imperialism. Nevertheless, as it always is the case, an empire cannot succeed in its treachery without a complicit, local cohort; a traitor from among the victims. And in this particular case, this cohort presented itself in the form of Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud.

To investigate Ibn Saud’s role, we examine a 2016 essay by independent researcher Nu’man Abd al-Wahid. Al-Wahid corroborates primary sourced evidence from a revealing study by Dr. Askar H. al-Enazy, titled The Creation of Saudi Arabia: Ibn Saud and British Imperial Policy, 1914-1927 (London: Routledge, 2010) with other prominent works in history such as The Birth of Saudi Arabia (London: Frank Cass, 1976) by Gary Troeller and The Desert King: The Life of Ibn Saud (London: Quartet Books, 1980) by David Howarth etc., and presents a comprehensive account of the part Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud played between 1915 to 1926 as a battering ram for the British Empire. In essence, Ibn Saud’s muscleman role was what enabled the British to establish their imperial and Zionist goals. Goals borne out of the Sykes-Picot Treaty and the Balfour Declaration.

As Dr. al-Enazy documents in his 2010 study, the Sharif of Hijaz, as soon as the war ended, wanted to hold the British to their wartime promises as expressed in the McMahon-Hussain correspondence. The British, on the other hand, wanted the Sharif to accept the Empire’s actual vision for Arabia. A vision that divides the Arab world between them and the French, and implements the Balfour Declaration.

However, the Sharif declared he will never sell out Palestine to the Empire’s Balfour Declaration. Nor will he accept new random borders drawn across Arabia by British and French imperialists.

After the Cairo Conference in March 1921, the Empire dispatched T.E. Lawrence (i.e. of Arabia) to meet the Sharif. Lawrence offered him an annual payment of £100,000 (al-Enazy 2010, p.111) but the Sharif refused to compromise. When financial bribery failed to persuade the Sharif, Lawrence threatened him with an Ibn Saud takeover.

While negotiating with Hussain, Lawrence also visited other leaders in the Arabian peninsula. He warned them against entering into an alliance with the Sharif. He informed, if they did, the Empire will unleash Ibn Saud and his Wahhabis on them. After all, Saud and his Wahhabis were at Britain’s “beck and call” (al-Enazy, p.111).

Simultaneously, after the Conference, the then Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill travelled to Jerusalem. There he met with the Sharif’s son, Abdullah, who the British appointed the Emir of a new territory called Transjordan. Churchill asked him to persuade “his father to accept the Palestine mandate and sign a treaty to such effect,”; if not “the British would unleash Ibn Saud against Hijaz” (al-Enazy p.107).

Meanwhile, the British devised plans to take down ibn Rashid of Ha’il in the North. Ibn Rashid had rejected all propositions from the British Empire. Propositios made to him via Ibn Saud to become another one of Empire’s puppets (al-Enazy p.45-46, p.101-102). Instead, Rashid expanded his territories north to the newly mandated Palestinian border. He also widened his territories to the borders of Iraq in the summer of 1920. Acting under a concern that Ibn Rashid may seek an alliance with Sharif Hussain, Churchill agreed with imperial officer Sir Percy Cox at the Cairo Conference that “Ibn Saud should be given the opportunity to occupy Hail” (al-Enazy p.104).

By the end of 1920, the British were showering Ibn Saud with “a monthly ‘grant’ of £10,000 in gold; on top of his monthly subsidy. He also received abundant arms and supplies, totalling more than 10,000 rifles, in addition to the critical siege and four field guns” with British-Indian instructors (al-Enazy p.104). Finally, in September 1921, the British unleashed Ibn Saud on Ha’il which officially surrendered in November 1921. It was after this victory the British bestowed a new title on Ibn Saud. He was no longer the “Emir of Najd and Chief of its Tribes” but “Sultan of Najd and its Dependencies”. Ha’il had dissolved into a dependency of the Empire’s Sultan of Najd.

With Ibn Saud now on Sharif Hussain’s border, and armed to the teeth by the British, the Empire arranged a new round of talks with Sharif’s son Abdullah; and drafted a treaty accepting Zionism. When it was delivered to the Sharif with an accompanying letter from his son requesting that he “accept reality”, Sharif didn’t even bother to read the treaty and instead composed a draft treaty himself rejecting the new divisions of Arabia, as well as the Balfour Declaration, and sent it to London to be ratified (al-Enazy p.113).

After another three rounds of negotiations in Amman and London, the Empire realized Hussain will never relinquish Palestine to Great Britain’s Zionist project or accept the new divisions in Arab lands (al-Enazy p.112-125).

In March 1924, the British announced that they had terminated all discussions with Sharif Hussain (al-Enazy p.129). Within weeks, the forces of Ibn Saud and his Wahhabi followers began to administer what the British foreign secretary Lord Curzon called “the final kick” to Sharif Hussain and attacked Hijazi territory (al-Enazy p.106). By September 1924, Ibn Saud had overrun the summer capital of Sharif Hussain, Ta’if.

Ibn Saud captured the holiest place in Islam, Mecca, in mid-October 1924. Sharif Hussain abdicated and went on exile to the Hijazi port of Akaba. His son Ali replaced him as the monarch and made Jeddah his governmental base. Fearing that Sharif Hussain may use Akaba as a base to rally Arabs against the Empire’s own Ibn Saud, the British declared that Hussain must leave Akaba or Ibn Saud will attack the port. In response, Hussain countered that he had,

“never acknowledged the mandates on Arab countries and still protest against the British Government which has made Palestine a national home for the Jews.” (al-Enazy p.119)

He was subsequently forced out of Akaba, a port Hussain himself liberated from the Ottoman Empire during the ‘Arab Revolt’. On 18th June 1925, Hussain left Akaba on HMS Cornflower.

Ibn Saud began his siege of Jeddah in January 1925. The city finally surrendered in December 1925. This brought an end to over 1000 years of rule by the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants. The British officially recognized Ibn Saud as the new King of Hijaz in February 1926. Other European powers followed suit within weeks. The British Empire rebranded the new unified Wahhabi state in 1932 as the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” (KSA). A certain George Rendel, an officer working at the Middle East desk at the Foreign Office in London, claimed credit for the new name.

In conclusion, any prudent observer of British Imperialism hardly finds it surprising that the British Empire betrayed their promises made to the Arabs for an independent Arab state after WWI. However, when an Arab leader does the betraying and becomes an agent for the British Empire; when this agent massacres Arabs who dare oppose the Zionist deceit; and finally, when he gets appointed ‘King of Arabia’ as a reward for his treachery – by the same treacherous Empire who deceived the Arab people; when an Arab Emir does this, he becomes a traitor. And he remains a traitor for eternity; because no amount of wealth or propaganda can change the plain truth: that Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud became the King of Arabia – and his Al Saud family ‘Royals’ –  because he betrayed Arabs and became an agent of the British Empire; and henceforth executed the Empire’s Zionist plans for the Arabian peninsula.

Indeed, the bitter irony isn’t lost on Muslims in the know. That the two holiest sites in Islam are today governed by the Saudi clan and Wahhabi teachings because they helped the British Empire lay foundations for Zionism in Arabia during and after World War One.

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Part I

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Since the beginning of the Regime Change war against Syria, Western -supported sectarian terrorists — al Qaeda, ISIS and affiliates — have actively sought to destroy and extinguish Christians and Christianity from Syria. President Assad and the Syrian people have been fighting against and destroying these terrorists.

President Assad and Syrians are fighting for humanity and civilization as the West, including Canada, seeks to destroy humanity and civilization in Syria.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.

Photos and video from Maaloula Syria, September, 2019.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

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This is a biased politically motivated report of a dubiously independent mission that contributes to an already dangerously escalating situation where the victim is Venezuela and the perpetrator is the U.S. foreign policy.

Venezuela approaches another stage of its democratic process with the constitutionally mandated election for a new National Assembly (NA) on December 6. This will be the 26th election of any type in the country – presidential, municipal, state governorship, referendums – in the last 20 years. The National Assembly that was elected in 2015 had a majority of members from the opposition parties, however it was declared in contempt by the Supreme Court of Justice for serious irregularities including swearing in of members who had committed fraud. In January 2019 Juan Guaidó, as president of the NA in contempt, appointed himself president of Venezuela, rejecting the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro who was elected with over 65% of the votes in 2018. The U.S. government, the government of Canada, and a number of European and Latin American governments recognised Juan Guaidó as “interim president”.

This brief recap of events underscores the importance of the December 6 election with the participation of several opposition parties. Should the new NA have a majority of parliamentarians who recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro, and elect a new NA president, then Juan Guaidó could not use his U.S.-granted “right” to claim the country’s presidency. A right that is not constitutional. This will definitely be the likely scenario since the pro-Guaidó parties are boycotting the election. Regardless, the U.S. and its allies have no interest in allowing a legitimate election to take place in Venezuela, which explains the increasing aggressive activity against the Bolivarian Revolution. The aggression has included the recent plot of an attack on a Venezuelan oil refineryby a U.S. citizen and former CIA operative who has been arrested by the Venezuelan authorities together with other individuals.

Coincidentally or not, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently traveled to four South American countries: Suriname, Guyana, Brazil, and Colombia. The visits to the first two smaller countries may have had secondary interests in securing business deals and to prevent investments from China. But it has been suggested that the visit to Guyana may also be part of the U.S.’ “maximum pressure” strategy to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. On the other hand, Pompeo’s visit to Brazil and Colombia is clearly an indication that the U.S. obsession to remove Maduro is reaching a fever pitch intensity.

The U.S.’ threatening actions against a sovereign country are certainly to be criticised but they are regrettably consistent with the profile of the hegemonic empire prone to wage hybrid wars on different countries. Venezuela is a prime country for U.S. interests.

Nevertheless, what analysts should be especially concerned about is that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) may be contributing to U.S. aggression towards Venezuela.

The UN has not recognised Juan Guaidó on the basis that states, not governments, are UN members. But a recent report by a so-called UN International Independent Mission on Human Rights was issued September 15, which accuses the government of Nicolas Maduro of committing crimes against humanity supposedly committed since 2014. This plays fully into the hands of Juan Guaidó with the additional aggravating point of potentially giving the wrong idea to the U.S. for a military intervention.

In reality, this is a mission that was never recognised by the Venezuelan government, and as stated in their report, never received approval for such a human rights investigation. The reason for this is that Venezuela is already working in coordination with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has an office recently opened in Venezuela. In fact, The UN office in Venezuela has made 15 visits to 14 detention centers in the last year, recognised by the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet herself, in which they have been able to conduct confidential interviews, in the context of the collaboration offered by the Venezuelan state. But none of these findings were part of the report by the “independent mission”.

On the contrary, the mission reports “that it was not able to visit Venezuela and undertake in-country fact-finding” with the implication that no cross-examination was ever conducted. Nevertheless, it reports very serious accusations of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, “and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed since 2014.” Some of the sources used include highly questionable organizations such as Human Rights Watch, and a Venezuelan group called Venezuelan Observatory of Social Unrest (OVCS) that seems to keep its own register of unproven “crimes” and “protests” in Venezuela with its own statements of “repression from the Nicolas Maduro regime.” These are hardly unbiased sources of information.

The 411-page-long report has been rejected by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who stated on his Twitter account that it is, “A report plagued with falsehoods, prepared remotely, without any methodological rigor, by a phantom mission directed against Venezuela and controlled by governments subordinate to Washington; it illustrates the perverse practice of engaging in politicising human rights and not in doing human rights politics.”

A detailed deconstruction of the report has been made and this author agrees with its conclusions. The report speaks of “arbitrary detentions” of individuals for their political affiliation. How can even this be credible when the most visible opposition group, led by self-appointed Juan Guaidó, is free on the streets of Caracas, on social media, and print press?

The report also uses arguments – unrelated to human rights – that can be construed as interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela when it states that the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela is illegitimate. This is precisely the same argument used by the U.S. government and its political allies like Canada.

Similarly suspicious is the report’s questioning of “concessions expropriated from international companies” in the Mining Arc Region of Venezuela. What is the relationship between internationally granted rights to expropriations, and violation of human rights that have not even been fully investigated by its own admission, “The Mission was unable to investigate [the numerous violations] due to time and resource constraints.”

Finally, the unexpected publication of this report at a time when the Venezuelan government is gearing up for a democratic election for the National Assembly on December 6 is hardly coincidental. The report has the distinctive features of a political attempt to invalidate an electoral process that the pro-regime change proponents are already interfering with in order to undermine the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro.

This is a biased politically motivated report of a dubiously independent mission that contributes to an already dangerously escalating situation where the victim is Venezuela and the perpetrator is the U.S. foreign policy. The UNHRC should not be party to it.

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Nino Pagliccia is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The original article in Chinese will be available on our Chine language page

Throughout human history, no matter in the east or in the west, there would be a chaotic situation taking place every few decades in human society. In ancient times when the material production was at low level with tools not yet developed, the cause of chaos could be easily understood by the Chinese sayings: “People die for wealth, while birds die for food.” and “Food is the heaven for people”.

In face of starvation and losing of homes, or extreme unfair treatment by governments in distribution of wealth and benefits, there were always people who would rebel or take a military or political coup, or started a war by neglecting the peace agreement. 

But in today’s world, where technology is highly developed and material productivity greatly exceeds the demand, why is there still constant social turbulence?

Whether in China or many western countries, we can see the stores displayed with all types of merchandises, stocked with goods unable to sell, and warehouses of factories overstocked with products unable to go to market.

It’s not because the overall purchasing power of the society is insufficient, but because of production and consumption level of the society has reached its excessive high point. Nowadays, merit boxes, which are public boxes for donations, are popular things everywhere. Still good and usable items can often be found discarded at the garbage room of the community. What does that mean? It demonstrates that the demand for living goods is not the primary concern of human society any longer. Thus many skilled people have been liberated from the production sector to engage in various social management work in our society, and division of work is becoming more and more precise. In this way, it seems that people on earth should have nothing to worry about? On the contrary, there are much more problems nowadays, and the society is in a chaotic situation that is almost unprecedented. 

Why is that?

Some people may attribute it to the social complexity brought about by the highly developed civilization, but I don’t think so. As we all know that no matter how advanced science and technology are, it is based on the laws of science discovered by our predecessors.

Because the scientific workers strictly follow some basic laws of science and the commonly accepted rules of logic, they have made the rapid development of science and technology in modern times, and created miracles one after another in human society, while produced some reliable scientific and technological products to serve mankind which have greatly helped improve their living standards. I haven’t heard that a certain type of sophisticated technology products had acted recklessly due to their high complexity level, or functions differently. Although I personally think that modern science and technology did have their share of burden of blame in jeopardizing the life of modern people, during the short period of their glorious history, the professionalism and the qualification of those scientific and technological workers are indeed worthy of admiration for people from other industries. At least they clearly know the concepts in their own domains. Otherwise, they won’t be able to produce anything good. 

One of the most important issues, as what the ancient people called “name”, might have been ignored by people of many industries. The ancients said, “if an appropriate name is not applied for the thing, then it is not a reasonable name and it would cause confusion about any work related to that thing, and lead to the failure of work.” That is to say, if the name is not properly placed, or the meaning is not correctly explained, it would be difficult to explain the principles and mechanism of such thing and thus unable to execute its purpose. Perhaps some people may feel that this is insignificant, why bother making a big fuss about it? I am afraid it is not quite so. Actually in the first chapter of Tao Te Ching (One of the bibles of Chinese people), it is clearly written: “The beginning of the universe is in the status of being nameless, while the creation of all things in universe is accomplished during the process of giving names.”

These words don’t conflict with the scientific postulate of the start of the universe at all, but are intended to interpret the different side of the nature of universe. Thus, we can see how important it is to name things. People create and give names to things according to their respective attributes and our understanding about them, and those names composed the structure of our civilization. They are like the codes of our civilization, and provide answers to our questions. Chinese people are the ones addressed the importance of names just like the westerns addressed the importance of atoms in natural science. So no matter if you believe it or not, it is there doing its work. At the same time, names give things eternal life. Without a name, when things are used up or destroyed, they are gone for ever. With names, things can regenerate and appear again. 

In field of culture or philosophy, this phenomenon of “name” problems may be most prominent, especially in today’s world, where the division of labor is fine, and the economic interdependence of each country upon others is so strong. The world can’t do without petroleum from the Middle East, just as it can’t without high-tech software from the United States, as well as all kinds of life necessities made in China, and so on. Economic interdependence will inevitably lead to the exchange of cultures and the confrontation of different ideologies. Whether the result of communication and confrontation is acceptance, expulsion or integration may largely depend on the common understanding of the concepts in those domains. 

While the civilization is evolving, along with it, there were many new fancy words coming out in all fields. There are good ones, also bad ones. Just as our forefathers have foreseen: strange words with ambiguous meanings, and improper names appeared to make people unable to distinguish right from wrong, even the government officials or the law enforcement officers are confused themselves. How would we expect them to make the right decision and enforce the law properly? Each country has their own languages and cultural origins, in addition to which, the inappropriate translation of words may also lead to misunderstanding of the same philosophical, political or legal terms from other cultures, or even the same culture by different people. Has anyone run into such embarrassing situation as if a scholar gentleman argued with a single-minded soldier off the battle, the result of which is hardly optimistic, because the two can never stand on the same ground. The logic on which the mode of Human’s thinking is based is very similar, just as mathematics has been accepted among all nationalities in basically the same way. So the fundamental problem that leads to difficult communication of different nations is caused by the different understanding of the same concepts, or the “names”. In other words, the varied depth of knowledge about things and the interpretation of the meaning of things from different aspects leads to many incomprehensible and unnecessary conflicts in the world. 

Probably some people will say that it would be naive to think it the way mentioned above, and that many conflicts in the world were actually caused by some governments fighting for the best interests of their own countries. If that is true, it would only explain another case of misunderstanding concept in politics, which is about the confusion on the concept of “national interest”. On the appearance, some countries may be able to gain certain material benefits because of their powerful military forces, but they will certainly lose the faith upon them, not only of the people of other countries, but also of their own people. What they lose is the capital of relationship, which is the true long-term benefit for all entities. Some people might say that some governments are fighting with other countries in order to promote their culture and advocate their belief and make other countries accept their cultural advantages so that they would gain the greatest recognition in the world. Then, they must make it clear first what is their cultural advantage and how it should be expressed through the right concepts. Humans mostly admire people with the attributes of bravery, industriousness, nobility, generosity, benevolence and humanity, wisdom, faith, and sense of responsibility, etc., but not stealing, slandering and framing, getting weaker into worse situation, and raping human nature to humiliate themselves. Different nationalities may be inclined to different human values. They may also have different understanding of those values.

However, those values are the bases of any belief they have clung onto. In the antique time, the Europeans advocated chivalry; the British advocated the culture of gentlemen; the Americans respected the cowboy spirit; while the ancient Chinese liked to use their favorable term “Junzi”, somewhat similar to gentleman, but not the same, to express their national spirit; and so on.

Unfortunately, I can’t cite all the examples here one by one, only I don’t know what kind of national spirit the modern countries are advocating. If they haven’t come out with a clear idea, maybe they should first consult with their ancestors, then surf the Internet, and then discuss with their neighbors in this global village, before they are going to do such great deeds for their nations. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t even know what they are fighting for before they’ve blooded their face or gotten their skull broken into pieces. Perhaps after they have really come to understand what that idea is, they would suddenly realize that there is nothing to fight for at all. All humans are nurtured by the same root – that is mother earth. Why must they act so earnestly to eliminate one another? It’s OK to have some fun by playing games like in sports matches, but it should be a match of gentlemen. Like some ancient people said, if you have to compete with others, courtesy always goes first. After the contest, the opponents could still befriend each other by toasting together with greetings and cheers wholeheartedly.

What is the point to fight each other to death!

The adventure of humans has reached the top of all mountains and the bottom of all oceans, while seldom giving an second thought by taking away all that they can. There is not much left on earth but a few glasses of liquor and several pieces of peanuts made of metal?

It is definitely not worthy of powerful human force to fight for the pitiful leftover on earth. It would be so much better to use the human wisdom and power to engage in some meaningful work to make a positive transformation of human society and find new resources and new way out. In modern world, raw materials are playing much less important roles in people’s life and countries’ economy than before. Whether or not a country can succeed in the new era, largely depends on how they can effectively organize and deploy their social and economic forces, how they can efficiently utilize and recycle their resources, how they establish their rapport among their partners, and how they built their relationship with other countries. Fighting for the territories and raw materials are the games of wild animals and primitive people, which should be voided among highly civilized beings. 

There is still an important concept here I would like to mention. That is, the fights between the governments are not the same thing as the fight between the civilians. The government, acting on behalf of the state, seems to devote themselves to the people of the country. However, it is not exactly the same thing. Although the government is elected by the people, once it is formed, it becomes an instrument of the state as a separated entity with its own will. It is obviously indebted to the people, but its ultimate goal is to demonstrate the reasonableness and purpose of its existence, which is the nature of all individual entity and should not be blamed for. The people have given the government all kinds of supplies and privileges to do its job, and they are no longer obliged to bear other pressure and burdens for the government, unless they are employed by the government temporarily or part-time (full-time personnel, of course, have been included in the government), or in the extraordinary events of natural disasters or when the country is facing immediate takeover or extermination under the attack of their enemies.

Why? because each ordinary citizen has his/her own share of burden and responsibility in this human’s survival game. Therefore, it is not wise or practical for the government to frequently get civilians involved in their fights against their opponents, in order not to disturb or even ruin their normal life. Once the damage is done, it would come back on the government and jeopardize the base of their power.

The common people are the foundation of a country. Losing the common people means shaking the foundation of the country and the government. 

If people from all trades of the world can share a set of common terms and follow a set of well-accepted laws and rules from the beginning to the end of anything they are doing, then the unresolvable problems would be greatly reduced, because they can communicate freely with common understanding of things they are talking at any time with a designed work language constituting of clearly defined concepts. 

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1,000 fighters of the so-called Syrian National Army, a coalition of Turkish-funded militant groups, will be moved to Azerbaijan in September as a part of a 6-month long deployment, Syrian pro-militant media reported. According to reports, Turkish proxies will pass additional training and may even be deployed along the contact line with Armenian forces near the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region.

During the Azerbaijani-Armenian escalation in July, reports already surfaced that Turkey was deploying its Syrian proxies to support Azerbaijani forces in their standoff against Armenia. Then, Syrian sources also reported about a potential 6-month long contract for Turkish-funded militants. The monthly salary of one Turkish mercenary in the combat zone was reported to be 2,500 USD.

Local activists even claimed that Turkish intelligence was in talks with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to recruit a 300-man strong special forces unit that would be deployed in Azerbaijan carry out special operations on the border with Armenia.

Turkey is a long-term strategic ally of Azerbaijan and its leadership has repeatedly declared its readiness to support Baku by all kinds of measures, including military ones, in the event of a full-scale escalation in the region. Nonetheless, the July clashes ended without turning into a new regional war and Turkish and Azerbaijani authorities rushed to denounce reports about the potential usage of Syrian militants against Armenia as fake news.

Turkey has already been actively using its Syrian proxies, often linked with al-Qaeda, in Middle East conflicts. In particular, thousands Syrian militants were sent to Libya to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Therefore, the deployment of pro-Turkish militant groups in Azerbaijan is not so unlikely a scenario as Ankara and Baku prefer to claim.

In Greater Idlib, the Russian Aerospace Forces continue their airstrike diplomacy pounding Turkish-funded terrorists across the region. On September 20 and September 21, this diplomatic campaign was also supported by the Syrian Army that struck terrorist positions in northern Lattakia and south of the M4 highway in southern Idlib.

The US-led coalition and affiliated organizations have been increasing their business activities connected with the seized Syrian oil infrastructure. According to Syrian state media, just on September 20, at least 30 tanker trucks filled with oil from the US-controlled fields left Syria through the al-Walid area on the border with Iraq. The development of the seized oil reserves and export of the extracted oil is being conducted by the US company Delta Crescent Energy. The company operates in coordination with US-backed Kurdish armed groups, which are currently known under the brand of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In public statements, the SDF leadership often uses loud words about patriotism and the need to serve to interests of the Syrian people. However, in practice, the patriotic intentions of the Kurdish leaders are limited to more practical things like the looting of Syrian oil resources in coordination with the Washington establishment.

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Excerpts of article from the Washington Post

“A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.

The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies.

The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’s intent.

The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

“We are thankful the Congress provided authorities and resources that enabled the [executive branch] to invest in domestic production of critical medical resources and protect key defense capabilities from the consequences of COVID,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement. “We need to always remember that economic security and national security are very tightly interrelated and our industrial base is really the nexus of the two.””

Click here to read full article.

Our thanks to the WaPo

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The data and concepts have been manipulated with a view to sustaining the fear campaign.

The estimates are meaningless. The figures have been hyped to justify the lockdown and the closure of the national economy, with devastating economic and social consequences. The Virus is held responsible for poverty and mass unemployment. 

Confirmed by prominent scientists as well as by official public health bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Covid-19 is a public health concern but it is NOT a dangerous virus.

The COVID-19 crisis is marked by a public health “emergency” under WHO auspices which is being used as a pretext and a  justification to trigger a Worldwide process of economic, social and political restructuring. Social engineering is being applied. Governments are pressured into extending the lockdown, despite its devastating economic and social consequences.

There is no scientific basis for implementing the closing down of the global economy as a means to resolving a public health crisis. 

Both the media and the governments are involved in spreading disinformation.

The fear campaign has no scientific basis. 

Our objective is to reassure people Worldwide. Your governments are LYING.  In fact they are lying to themselves. 

We start by defining the virus and the tests which are being used to “identify the virus”. 

1  What is Covid-19, SARS-COV-2.

Below is the official WHO definition of Covid-19:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. … These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

“COVID-19 is similar to SARS-1″: According to  Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, pneumonia is “regularly caused or accompanied by corona viruses”. Immunologists broadly confirm the CDC definition. COVID-19 has similar features to a seasonal influenza coupled with pneumonia.

According to Anthony Fauci (Head of NIAID), H. Clifford Lane and Robert R. Redfield (Head of CDC) in the New England Journal of Medicine 

…the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

Dr. Anthony Fauci  is lying to himself. In his public statements he says that Covid is “Ten Times Worse than Seasonal Flu”.

He refutes his peer reviewed report quoted above. From the outset, Fauci has been instrumental in waging the fear and panic campaign across America:

 

 

Screenshot The Hill, March 19, 2020

Covid-19 versus Influenza (Flu) Virus A and Virus B (and subtypes) (Bear in mind seasonal influenza is not a coronavirus)

Rarely mentioned by the media or the governments, The CDC confirms that Covid-19 is similar to Influenza

“Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.”

If the public had been informed and reassured that Covid is “similar to Influenza”, the fear campaign would have fallen flat.

The lockdown and closure of the national economy would have been rejected outright.

2. The Test for Covid-19 “Confirmed Cases”

The standard Covid test  is the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR):

“The COVID-19 RT-PCR test is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in upper and lower respiratory specimens … collected from individuals suspected of COVID 19 … [as well as] from individuals without symptoms or other reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection. …

This test is also for use with individual nasal swab specimens that are self-collected using the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 test home collection kit … The COVID-19 RT-PCR test is also for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 in pooled samples, using a matrix pooling strategy (FDA, LabCorp Laboratory Test Number: 139900)

First, it should be understood that the Covid-19  RT-PCR Test is similar to that used in relation to Influenza. This test is based on upper and lower respiratory specimens.

 The criteria and guidelines confirmed by the CDC  pertaining to “The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Diagnostic Panel” are as follows (Read carefully):

Results are for the identification of 2019-nCoV RNA. The 2019-nCoV RNA is generally detectable in upper and lower respiratory specimens during infection. Positive results are indicative of active infection with 2019-nCoV but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities.

Negative results do not preclude 2019-nCoV infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or other patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.

What this suggests is that a positive infection could be the result of other viruses as well as other corona viruses as well as viruses related to seasonal influenza (e.g. Viruses A, B, C, D).

And, according to the CDC it  “does not rule out “bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.” (CDC)

The following diagram summarizes the process of identifying positive and negative cases: All that is required is the presence of “viral genetic material” for it to be categorized as “positive”. The procedure does not identity or isolate Covid-19. What appears in the tests are fragments of the virus

A positive test does not mean that you have the virus and/or that you could transmit the virus.
 .
A negative test does not mean that you do not have it.
.
What the governments want is to inflate the number of positive cases. 
.

While SARS-CoV-2 –namely the the virus which is said to cause COVID-19 (erroneously categorized as a disease rather than a virus), was isolated in a laboratory test in January 2020, the RT-PCR test does not identify/detect the Covid-19 virus. What it detects are fragments of several viruses. According to renowned Swiss immunologist Dr B. Stadler

So if we do a PCR corona test on an immune person, it is not a virus that is detected, but a small shattered part of the viral genome. The test comes back positive for as long as there are tiny shattered parts of the virus left. Even if the infectious viri are long dead, a corona test can come back positive, because the PCR method multiplies even a tiny fraction of the viral genetic material enough [to be detected].

Bear in mind: Because the RT-PCR test is similar to the test used in the case of  influenza (flu) (eg viruses A,B), a positive test does not mean that you test positive for Covid-19.

The Question is Positive for What?? The PCR does not detect the identity of the virus, According to Dr. Pascal Sacré,

these tests detect viral particles, genetic sequences, not the whole virus.

In an attempt to quantify the viral load, these sequences are then amplified several times through numerous complex steps that are subject to errors, sterility errors and contamination

Positive RT-PCR is not synonymous with COVID-19 disease! PCR specialists make it clear that a test must always be compared with the clinical record of the patient being tested, with the patient’s state of health to confirm its value [reliability]

The media frighten everyone with new positive PCR tests, without any nuance or context, wrongly assimilating this information with a second wave of COVID-19.

Presumptive vs. Confirmed Cases

In the US, the CDC data include both “confirmed” and “presumptive” positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020″.

The presumptive positive data does not confirm coronavirus infection: Presumptive testing involves “chemical analysis of a sample that establishes the possibility that a substance is present“ (emphasis added). The presumptive test must then be sent for confirmation to an accredited government health lab. (For further details see: Michel Chossudovsky, Spinning Fear and Panic Across America. Analysis of COVID-19 DataMarch 20, 2020)

Similarly in Canada, “A point-of-care test” is a “rapid test done at the time and place of care, such as a hospital or doctor’s office”. It consists in collecting “samples from the nose or throat using swabs”, which are then tested on site, with almost immediate results (in 30 to 60 minutes). But it does not confirm the presence of COVID-19.

Serological testing or Antibody Tests for COVID-19  

According to the CDC, Serological tests do not detect the virus itself, “they detect the antibodies produced in response to an infection.” Serological tests are not used for “early diagnosis of COVID-19.” 

How is the COVID-19 Data Tabulated?

Below is a screen shot of the CDC form entitled Human Infection with 2019 Novel Coronavirus Case Report Form to be filled in by authorized medical/ health personnel

Note the categorization of probable cases, bearing in mind that the lab confirmed case is misleading. No way to identify the covi-19 virus in a PCR lab test

In the US, the probable (PC) and the lab confirmed cases (CC) are lumped together. And the total number (PC + CC ) constitutes the basis for establishing the data for COVID-19 infection. It’s like adding apples and oranges.

The total figure (PC+CC) categorized as “Total cases” is meaningless. It does not measure positive COVID-19 Infection.

Most of the presumptive tests are undertaken by private clinics or commercial clinics.

In the UK, according to a Daily Telegraph May 21 report: “samples taken from the same patient are being recorded as two separate tests in the Government’s official figures”.

This is only one example of data manipulation. In the US, clinics are paid ($$$) to hike up the number of Covid-19 admissions. A probable case does not require a lab exam: “Meets vital records criteria with no confirmatory lab testing” (see form above)

COVID-19 Recovery Rates

The CDC Data tabulates  both “confirmed” and “presumptive” positive cases since January 21, 2020. Yet what it fails to make public is that among the confirmed and presumptive cases, a large number of Americans have recovered. But nobody talks about recovery. It does not make the headlines.

Falsification of Death Certificates

At the outset of the pandemic, the CDC had been instructed to change the methodology regarding Death Certificates with a view to artificially inflating the numbers of “Covid deaths”.  According to H. Ealy, M. McEvoy et al 

“The 2003 guidelines for establishing death certificates had been cancelled. “Had the CDC used its industry standard, Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting Revision 2003, as it has for all other causes of death for the last 17 years, the COVID-19 fatality count would be approximately 90.2% lower  than it currently is.” (Covid-19: Questionable Policies, Manipulated Rules of Data Collection and Reporting. Is It Safe for Students to Return to School? By H. Ealy, M. McEvoy, and et al., August 09, 2020

 

CDC Deaths Attributed to COVI-19. Comorbidities 

The latest CDC report confirms that 94% of the deaths attributed to Covid have “comorbidities”,(i.e. deaths dues other causes).

For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death. The number of deaths with each condition or cause is shown for all deaths and by age groups.

On March 21, 2020 the following specific guidelines were introduced by the CDC regarding Death Certificates (and their tabulation in the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS)

COVID-19: The “underlying cause of death”

Will  COVID-19 be the underlying cause of death?  This concept is fundamental. The underlying cause of death is defined by the WHO as “the disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death”.  

What the CDC is recommending with regards to statistical coding and categorization is that COVID-19 is expected to  be the underlying cause of death “more often than not.” 

“What Happens if Certifiers Report Terms other than the Suggested Term?”(see below)

The Certifier is not allowed to report coronavirus without identifying a specific strain. And the guideline recommends that COVID-19 be indicated, when in fact the nature of the PCR test does not isolate the Covid-19 virus.  (2019 coronavirus  strain).

(see below): (source CDC)

Will COVID-19 be the underlying cause of death? 

“The underlying cause depends upon what and where conditions are reported on the death certificate. However, the rules for coding and selection of the underlying cause of death are expected to result in COVID- 19 being the underlying cause more often than not.

What happens if certifiers report terms other than the suggested terms?

If a death certificate reports coronavirus without identifying a specific strain or explicitly specifying that it is not COVID-19, NCHS will ask the states to follow up to verify whether or not the coronavirus was COVID-19.

As long as the phrase used indicates the 2019 coronavirus strain, NCHS expects to assign the new code. However, it is preferable and more straightforward for certifiers to use the standard terminology (COVID-19).

What happens if the terms reported on the death certificate indicate uncertainty?

If the death certificate reports terms such as “probable COVID-19” or “likely COVID-19,” these terms would be assigned the new ICD code. It Is not likely that NCHS will follow up on these cases.

If  “pending COVID-19 testing” is reported on the death certificate, this would be considered a pending record. In this scenario, NCHS would expect to receive an updated record, since the code will likely result in R99. In this case, NCHS will ask the states to follow up to verify if test results confirmed that the decedent had COVID- 19.

… COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death. Certifiers should include as much detail as possible based on their knowledge of the case, medical records, laboratory testing, etc.”

These specific guidelines have indelibly contributed to increasing Covid-19 as the recorded “cause of death”

And this despite the fact that the relevant lab texts (i.e. RT PCR) provide misleading results. Bear in mind that a Covid-19 cause of death does not require a lab exam.

Video

 

Summary

  • Covid-19 is Similar to Influenza 
  • The whole exercise of PCR testing and establishing data of Covid-19 infection is flawed.  
  • The figures are fabricated and so are the death certificates.
  • Confirmed Cases” are not confirmed.
  • The RT-PCR Test Does not isolate the Covid-19 virus. 

These inflated Covid positive “estimates” (from the PCR test) are then used to sustain the fear campaign. The hype in Covid-19 deaths is based on flawed and biased criteria.

Governments are currently involved in increasing the number of PCR tests with a view to inflating the number of so-called Covid-19 positive cases.

The RT- PCR tests do not prove anything:

“Today, as authorities test more people, there are bound to be more positive RT-PCR tests. This does not mean that COVID-19 is coming back, or that the epidemic is moving in waves. There are more people being tested, that’s all.”

This procedure of massive data collection is there to provide supportive (fake) “estimates” to justify the so-called Second Wave.

The Endgame is to maintain the economic lockdown, enforce the compulsory wearing of the face mask, social distancing including the closure of schools, colleges and universities.

The tendency is towards a police state. It is all based on a Big Lie.

We need a mass movement, nationally and internationally to reverse the tide.

Mass demonstrations barely reported by the corporate media have taken place in major European capitals including London, Dublin and Berlin.

Corrupt politicians in high office must be (peacefully) removed.

Revealing the lies and deceptions is the first priority. Dismantling the fear campaign. Reveal the media disinformation campaign.

National economies must be reopened… 

 

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Julian Assange is not on trial simply for his liberty and his life. He is fighting for the right of every journalist to do hard-hitting investigative journalism without fear of arrest and extradition to the United States. Assange faces 175 years in a US super-max prison on the basis of claims by Donald Trump’s administration that his exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan amounts to “espionage”.

The charges against Assange rewrite the meaning of “espionage” in unmistakably dangerous ways. Publishing evidence of state crimes, as Assange’s Wikileaks organisation has done, is covered by both free speech and public interest defences. Publishing evidence furnished by whistleblowers is at the heart of any journalism that aspires to hold power to account and in check. Whistleblowers typically emerge in reaction to parts of the executive turning rogue, when the state itself starts breaking its own laws. That is why journalism is protected in the US by the First Amendment. Jettison that and one can no longer claim to live in a free society.

Aware that journalists might understand this threat and rally in solidarity with Assange, US officials initially pretended that they were not seeking to prosecute the Wikileaks founder for journalism – in fact, they denied he was a journalist. That was why they preferred to charge him under the arcane, highly repressive Espionage Act of 1917. The goal was to isolate Assange and persuade other journalists that they would not share his fate.

Assange explained this US strategy way back in 2011, in a fascinating interview he gave to Australian journalist Mark Davis. (The relevant section occurs from minute 24 to 43.) This was when the Obama administration first began seeking a way to distinguish Assange from liberal media organisations, such as the New York Times and Guardian that had been working with him, so that only he would be charged with espionage.

Assange warned then that the New York Times and its editor Bill Keller had already set a terrible precedent on legitimising the administration’s redefinition of espionage by assuring the Justice Department – falsely, as it happens – that they had been simply passive recipients of Wikileaks’ documents. Assange noted (40.00 mins):

“If I am a conspirator to commit espionage, then all these other media organisations and the principal journalists in them are also conspirators to commit espionage. What needs to be done is to have a united face in this.”

During the course of the current extradition hearings, US officials have found it much harder to make plausible this distinction principle than they may have assumed.

Journalism is an activity, and anyone who regularly engages in that activity qualifies as a journalist. It is not the same as being a doctor or a lawyer, where you need a specific professional qualification to practice. You are a journalist if you do journalism – and you are an investigative journalist if, like Assange, you publish information the powerful want concealed. Which is why in the current extradition hearings at the Old Bailey in London, the arguments made by lawyers for the US that Assange is not a journalist but rather someone engaged in espionage are coming unstuck.

My dictionary defines “espionage” as “the practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information”. A spy is defined as someone who “secretly obtains information on an enemy or competitor”.

Very obviously the work of Wikileaks, a transparency organisation, is not secret. By publishing the Afghan and Iraq war diaries, Wikileaks exposed crimes the United States wished to keep secret. 

Assange did not help a rival state to gain an advantage, he helped all of us become better informed about the crimes our own states commit in our names. He is on trial not because he traded in secrets, but because he blew up the business of secrets – the very kind of secrets that have enabled the west to pursue permanent, resource-grabbing wars and are pushing our species to the verge of extinction.

In other words, Assange was doing exactly what journalists claim to do every day in a democracy: monitor power for the public good. Which is why ultimately the Obama administration abandoned the idea of issuing an indictment against Assange. There was simply no way to charge him without also putting journalists at the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian on trial too. And doing that would have made explicit that the press is not free but works on licence from those in power.

Media indifference 

For that reason alone, one might have imagined that the entire media – from rightwing to liberal-left outlets – would be up in arms about Assange’s current predicament. After all, the practice of journalism as we have known it for at least 100 years is at stake.

But in fact, as Assange feared nine years ago, the media have chosen not to adopt a “united face” – or at least, not a united face with Wikileaks. They have remained all but silent. They have ignored – apart from occasionally to ridicule – Assange’s terrifying ordeal, even though he has been locked up for many months in Belmarsh high-security prison awaiting efforts to extradite him as a spy. Assange’s very visible and prolonged physical and mental abuse – both in Belmarsh and, before that, in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was given political asylum – have already served part of their purpose: to deter young journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.

Even more astounding is the fact that the media have taken no more than a cursory interest in the events of the extradition hearing itself. What reporting there has been has given no sense of the gravity of the proceedings or the threat they pose to the public’s right to know what crimes are being committed in their name. Instead, serious, detailed coverage has been restricted to a handful of independent outlets and bloggers.

Most troubling of all, the media have not reported the fact that during the hearing lawyers for the US have abandoned the implausible premise of their main argument that Assange’s work did not constitute journalism. Now they appear to accept that Assange did indeed do journalism, and that other journalists could suffer his fate. What was once implicit has become explicit, as Assange warned: any journalist who exposes serious state crimes now risks the threat of being locked away for the rest of their lives under the draconian Espionage Act.

This glaring indifference to the case and its outcome is extremely revealing about what we usually refer to as the “mainstream” media. In truth, there is nothing mainstream or popular about this kind of media. It is in reality a media elite, a corporate media, owned by and answerable to billionaire owners – or in the case of the BBC, ultimately to the state – whose interests it really serves.

The corporate media’s indifference to Assange’s trial hints at the fact that it is actually doing very little of the sort of journalism that threatens corporate and state interests and that challenges real power. It won’t suffer Assange’s fate because, as we shall see, it doesn’t attempt to do the kind of journalism Assange and his Wikileaks organisation specialise in.

The indifference suggests rather starkly that the primary role of the corporate media – aside from its roles in selling us advertising and keeping us pacified through entertainment and consumerism – is to serve as an arena in which rival centres of power within the establishment fight for their narrow interests, settling scores with each other, reinforcing narratives that benefit them, and spreading disinformation against their competitors. On this battlefield, the public are mostly spectators, with our interests only marginally affected by the outcome.

Gauntlet thrown down 

The corporate media in the US and UK is no more diverse and pluralistic than the major corporate-funded political parties they identify with. This kind of media mirrors the same flaws as the Republican and Democratic parties in the US: they cheerlead consumption-based, globalised capitalism; they favour a policy of unsustainable, infinite growth on a finite planet; and they invariably support colonial, profit-driven, resource-grabbing wars, nowadays often dressed up as humanitarian intervention. The corporate media and the corporate political parties serve the interests of the same power establishment because they are equally embedded in that establishment.

(In this context, it was revealing that when Assange’s lawyers argued earlier this year that he could not be extradited to the US because extradition for political work is barred under its treaty with the UK, the US insisted that Assange be denied this defence. They argued that “political” referred narrowly to “party political” – that is, politics that served the interests of a recognised party.)

From the outset, the work of Assange and Wikileaks threatened to disrupt the cosy relationship between the media elite and the political elite. Assange threw down a gauntlet to journalists, especially those in the liberal parts of the media, who present themselves as fearless muckrakers and watchdogs on power.

Unlike the corporate media, Wikileaks doesn’t depend on access to those in power for its revelations, or on the subsidies of billionaires, or on income from corporate advertisers. Wikileaks receives secret documents direct from whistleblowers, giving the public an unvarnished, unmediated perspective on what the powerful are doing – and what they want us to think they are doing.

Wikileaks has allowed us to see raw, naked power before it puts on a suit and tie, slicks back its hair and conceals the knife.

But as much as this has been an empowering development for the general public, it is at best a very mixed blessing for the corporate media.

In early 2010, the fledgling Wikileaks organisation received its first tranche of documents from US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning: hundreds of thousands of classified files exposing US crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange and “liberal” elements of the corporate media were briefly and uncomfortably thrown into each others’ arms.

On the one hand, Assange needed the manpower and expertise provided by big-hitting newspapers like the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel to help Wikileaks sift through vast trove to find important, hidden disclosures. He also needed the mass audiences those papers could secure for the revelations, as well as those outlets’ ability to set the news agenda in other media.

Liberal media, on the other hand, needed to court Assange and Wikileaks to avoid being left behind in the media war for big, Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, for audience share and for revenues. Each worried that, were it not to do a deal with Wikileaks, a rival would publish those world-shattering exclusives instead and erode its market share.

Gatekeeper role under threat 

For a brief while, this mutual dependency just about worked. But only for a short time. In truth, the liberal corporate media is far from committed to a model of unmediated, whole-truth journalism. The Wikileaks model undermined the corporate media’s relationship to the power establishment and threatened its access. It introduced a tension and division between the functions of the political elite and the media elite.

Those intimate and self-serving ties are illustrated in the most famous example of corporate media working with a “whistleblower”: the use of a source, known as Deep Throat, who exposed the crimes of President Richard Nixon to Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein back in the early 1970s, in what became known as Watergate. That source, it emerged much later, was actually the associate director of the FBI, Mark Felt.

Far from being driven to bring down Nixon out of principle, Felt wished to settle a score with the administration after he was passed over for promotion. Later, and quite separately, Felt was convicted of authorising his own Watergate-style crimes on behalf of the FBI. In the period before it was known that Felt had been Deep Throat, President Ronald Reagan pardoned him for those crimes. It is perhaps not surprising that this less than glorious context is never mentioned in the self-congratulatory coverage of Watergate by the corporate media.

But worse than the potential rupture between the media elite and the political elite, the Wikileaks model implied an imminent redundancy for the corporate media. In publishing Wikileaks’ revelations, the corporate media feared it was being reduced to the role of a platform – one that could be discarded later – for the publication of truths sourced elsewhere.

The undeclared role of the corporate media, dependent on corporate owners and corporate advertising, is to serve as gatekeeper, deciding which truths should be revealed in the “public interest”, and which whistleblowers will be allowed to disseminate which secrets in their possession. The Wikileaks model threatened to expose that gatekeeping role, and make clearer that the criterion used by corporate media for publication was less “public interest” than “corporate interest”.

In other words, from the start the relationship between Assange and “liberal” elements of the corporate media was fraught with instability and antagonism.

The corporate media had two possible responses to the promised Wikileaks revolution.

One was to get behind it. But that was not straightforward. As we have noted, Wikileaks’ goal of transparency was fundamentally at odds both with the corporate media’s need for access to members of the power elite and with its embedded role, representing one side in the “competition” between rival power centres.

The corporate media’s other possible response was to get behind the political elite’s efforts to destroy Wikileaks. Once Wikileaks and Assange were disabled, there could be a return to media business as usual. Outlets would once again chase tidbits of information from the corridors of power, getting “exclusives” from the power centres they were allied with.

Put in simple terms, Fox News would continue to get self-serving exclusives against the Democratic party, and MSNBC would get self-serving exclusives against Trump and the Republican Party. That way, everyone would get a slice of editorial action and advertising revenue – and nothing significant would change. The power elite in its two flavours, Democrat and Republican, would continue to run the show unchallenged, switching chairs occasionally as elections required.

From dependency to hostility

Typifying the media’s fraught, early relationship with Assange and Wikileaks – sliding rapidly from initial dependency to outright hostility – was the Guardian. It was a major beneficiary of the Afghan and Iraq war diaries, but very quickly turned its guns on Assange. (Notably, the Guardian would also lead the attack in the UK on the former leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, who was seen as threatening a “populist” political insurgency in parallel to Assange’s “populist” media insurgency.)

Despite being widely viewed as a bastion of liberal-left journalism, the Guardian has been actively complicit in rationalising Assange’s confinement and abuse over the past decade and in trivialising the threat posed to him and the future of real journalism by Washington’s long-term efforts to permanently lock him away.

There is not enough space on this page to highlight all the appalling examples of the Guardian’s ridiculing of Assange (a few illustrative tweets scattered through this post will have to suffice) and disparaging of renowned experts in international law who have tried to focus attention on his arbitrary detention and torture. But the compilation of headlines in the tweet below conveys an impression of the antipathy the Guardian has long harboured for Assange, most of it – such as James Ball’s article – now exposed as journalistic malpractice.

The Guardian’s failings have extended too to the current extradition hearings, which have stripped away years of media noise and character assassination to make plain why Assange has been deprived of his liberty for the past 10 years: because the US wants revenge on him for publishing evidence of its crimes and seeks to deter others from following in his footsteps.

In its pages, the Guardian has barely bothered to cover the case, running superficial, repackaged agency copy. This week it belatedly ran a solitary opinion piece from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former leftwing president, to mark the fact that many dozens of former world leaders have called on the UK to halt the extradition proceedings. They appear to appreciate the gravity of the case much more clearly than the Guardian and most other corporate media outlets.

But among the Guardian’s own columnists, even its supposedly leftwing ones like Gorge Monbiot and Owen Jones, there has been blanket silence about the hearings. In familiar style, the only in-house commentary on the case so far is yet another snide hit-piece – this one in the fashion section written by Hadley Freeman. It simply ignores the terrifying developments for journalism taking place at the Old Bailey, close by the Guardian’s offices. Instead Freeman mocks the credible fears of Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, that, if Assange is extradited, his two young children may not be allowed contact with their father again.

Freeman’s goal, as has been typical of the Guardian’s modus operandi, is not to raise an issue of substance about what is happening to Assange but to score hollow points in a distracting culture war the paper has become so well-versed in monetising. In her piece, entitled “Ask Hadley: ‘Politicising’ and ‘weaponising’ are becoming rather convenient arguments”, Freeman exploits Assange and Moris’s suffering to advance her own convenient argument that the word “politicised” is much misused – especially, it seems, when criticising the Guardian for its treatment of Assange and Corbyn.

The paper could not make it any plainer. It dismisses the idea that it is a “political” act for the most militarised state on the planet to put on trial a journalist for publishing evidence of its systematic war crimes, with the aim of locking him up permanently.

Password divulged 

The Guardian may be largely ignoring the hearings, but the Old Bailey is far from ignoring the Guardian. The paper’s name has been cited over and over again in court by lawyers for the US. They have regularly quoted from a 2011 book on Assange by two Guardian reporters, David Leigh and Luke Harding, to bolster the Trump administration’s increasingly frantic arguments for extraditing Assange.

When Leigh worked with Assange, back in 2010, he was the Guardian’s investigations editor and, it should be noted, the brother-in-law of the then-editor, Alan Rusbridger. Harding, meanwhile, is a long-time reporter whose main talent appears to be churning out Guardian books at high speed that closely track the main concerns of the UK and US security services. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I had underwhelming experiences dealing with both of them during my years working at the Guardian.

Normally a newspaper would not hesitate to put on its front page reports of the most momentous trial of recent times, and especially one on which the future of journalism depends. That imperative would be all the stronger were its own reporters’ testimony likely to be critical in determining the outcome of the trial. For the Guardian, detailed and prominent reporting of, and commentary on, the Assange extradition hearings should be a double priority.

So how to explain the Guardian’s silence?

The book by Leigh and Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, made a lot of money for the Guardian and its authors by hurriedly cashing in on the early notoriety around Assange and Wikileaks. But the problem today is that the Guardian has precisely no interest in drawing attention to the book outside the confines of a repressive courtroom. Indeed, were the book to be subjected to any serious scrutiny, it might now look like an embarrassing, journalistic fraud.

The two authors used the book not only to vent their personal animosity towards Assange – in part because he refused to let them write his official biography – but also to divulge a complex password entrusted to Leigh by Assange that provided access to an online cache of encrypted documents. That egregious mistake by the Guardian opened the door for every security service in the world to break into the file, as well as other files once they could crack Assange’s sophisticated formula for devising passwords.

Much of the furore about Assange’s supposed failure to protect names in the leaked documents published by Assange – now at the heart of the extradition case – stems from Leigh’s much-obscured role in sabotaging Wikileaks’ work. Assange was forced into a damage limitation operation because of Leigh’s incompetence, forcing him to hurriedly publish files so that anyone worried they had been named in the documents could know before hostile security services identified them.

This week at the Assange hearings, Professor Christian Grothoff, a computer expert at Bern University, noted that Leigh had recounted in his 2011 book how he pressured a reluctant Assange into giving him the password. In his testimony, Grothoff referred to Leigh as a “bad faith actor”.

‘Not a reliable source’ 

Nearly a decade ago Leigh and Harding could not have imagined what would be at stake all these years later – for Assange and for other journalists – because of an accusation in their book that the Wikileaks founder recklessly failed to redact names before publishing the Afghan and Iraq war diaries.

The basis of the accusation rests on Leigh’s highly contentious recollection of a discussion with three other journalists and Assange at a restaurant near the Guardian’s former offices in July 2010, shortly before publication of the Afghan revelations.

According to Leigh, during a conversation about the risks of publication to those who had worked with the US, Assange said: “They’re informants, they deserve to die.” Lawyers for the US have repeatedly cited this line as proof that Assange was indifferent to the fate of those identified in the documents and so did not expend care in redacting names. (Let us note, as an aside, that the US has failed to show that anyone was actually put in harm’s way from publication, and in the Manning trial a US official admitted that no one had been harmed.)

The problem is that Leigh’s recollection of the dinner has not been confirmed by anyone else, and is hotly disputed by another participant, John Goetz of Der Spiegel. He has sworn an affidavit saying Leigh is wrong. He gave testimony at the Old Bailey for the defence last week. Extraordinarily the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, refused to allow him to contest Leigh’s claim, even though lawyers for the US have repeatedly cited that claim.

Further, Goetz, as well as Nicky Hager, an investigative journalist from New Zealand, and Professor John Sloboda, of Iraq Body Count, all of whom worked with Wikileaks to redact names at different times, have testified that Assange was meticulous about the redaction process. Goetz admitted that he had been personally exasperated by the delays imposed by Assange to carry out redactions:

“At that time, I remember being very, very irritated by the constant, unending reminders by Assange that we needed to be secure, that we needed to encrypt things, that we needed to use encrypted chats. … The amount of precautions around the safety of the material were enormous. I thought it was paranoid and crazy but it later became standard journalistic practice.”

Prof Sloboda noted that, as Goetz had implied in his testimony, the pressure to cut corners on redaction came not from Assange but from Wikileaks’ “media partners”, who were desperate to get on with publication. One of the most prominent of those partners, of course, was the Guardian. According to the account of proceedings at the Old Bailey by former UK ambassador Craig Murray:

“Goetz [of Der Spiegel] recalled an email from David Leigh of The Guardian stating that publication of some stories was delayed because of the amount of time WikiLeaks were devoting to the redaction process to get rid of the ‘bad stuff’.” 

When confronted by US counsel with Leigh’s claim in the book about the restaurant conversation, Hager observed witheringly: “I would not regard that [Leigh and Harding’s book] as a reliable source.” Under oath, he ascribed Leigh’s account of the events of that time to “animosity”.

Scoop exposed as fabrication 

Harding is hardly a dispassionate observer either. His most recent “scoop” on Assange, published in the Guardian two years ago, has been exposed as an entirely fabricated smear. It claimed that Assange secretly met a Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and unnamed “Russians” while he was confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016.

Harding’s transparent aim in making this false claim was to revive a so-called “Russiagate” smear suggesting that, in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, Assange conspired with the Trump camp and Russian president Vladimir Putin to help get Trump elected. These allegations proved pivotal in alienating Democrats who might otherwise have rallied to Assange’s side, and have helped forge bipartisan support for Trump’s current efforts to extradite Assange and jail him. 

The now forgotten context for these claims was Wikileaks’ publication shortly before the election of a stash of internal Democratic party emails. They exposed corruption, including efforts by Democratic officials to sabotage the party’s primaries to undermine Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s rival for the party’s presidential nomination.

Those closest to the release of the emails have maintained that they were leaked by a Democratic party insider. But the Democratic leadership had a pressing need to deflect attention from what the emails revealed. Instead they actively sought to warm up a Cold War-style narrative that the emails had been hacked by Russia to foil the US democratic process and get Trump into power.

No evidence was ever produced for this allegation. Harding, however, was one of the leading proponents of the Russiagate narrative, producing another of his famously fast turnaround books on the subject, Collusion. The complete absence of any supporting evidence for Harding’s claims was exposed in dramatic fashion when he was questioned by journalist Aaron Mate.

Harding’s 2018 story about Manafort was meant to add another layer of confusing mischief to an already tawdry smear campaign. But problematically for Harding, the Ecuadorian embassy at the time of Manafort’s supposed visit was probably the most heavily surveilled building in London. The CIA, as we would later learn, had even illegally installed cameras inside Assange’s quarters to spy on him. There was no way that Manafort and various “Russians” could have visited Assange without leaving a trail of video evidence. And yet none exists. Rather than retract the story, the Guardian has gone to ground, simply refusing to engage with critics. 

Most likely, either Harding or a source were fed the story by a security service in a further bid to damage Assange. Harding made not even the most cursory checks to ensure that his “exclusive” was true.

Unwilling to speak in court 

Despite both Leigh and Harding’s dismal track record in their dealings with Assange, one might imagine that at this critical point – as Assange faces extradition and jail for doing journalism – the pair would want to have their voices heard directly in court rather than allow lawyers to speak for them or allow other journalists to suggest unchallenged that they are “unreliable” or “bad faith” actors.

Leigh could testify at the Old Bailey that he stands by his claims that Assange was indifferent to the dangers posed to informants; or he could concede that his recollection of events may have been mistaken; or clarify that, whatever Assange said at the infamous dinner, he did in fact work scrupulously to redact names – as other witnesses have testified.

Given the grave stakes, for Assange and for journalism, that would be the only honourable thing for Leigh to do: to give his testimony and submit to cross-examination. Instead he shelters behind the US counsel’s interpretation of his words and Judge Baraitser’s refusal to allow anyone else to challenge it, as though Leigh brought his claim down from the mountain top.

The Guardian too, given it central role in the Assange saga, might have been expected to insist on appearing in court, or at the very least to be publishing editorials furiously defending Assange from the concerted legal assault on his rights and journalism’s future. The Guardian’s “star” leftwing columnists, figures like George Monbiot and Owen Jones, might similarly be expected to be rallying readers’ concerns, both in the paper’s pages and on their own social media accounts. Instead they have barely raised their voices above a whisper, as though fearful for their jobs.

These failings are not about the behaviour of any single journalist. They reflect a culture at the Guardian, and by extension in the wider corporate media, that abhors the kind of journalism Assange promoted: a journalism that is open, genuinely truth-seeking, non-aligned and collaborative rather than competitive. The Guardian wants journalism as a closed club, one where journalists are once again treated as high priests by their flock of readers, who know only what the corporate media is willing to disclose to them.

Assange understood the problem back in 2011, as he explained in his interview with Mark Davis (38.00mins):

“There is a point I want to make about perceived moral institutions, such as the Guardian and New York Times. The Guardian has good people in it. It also has a coterie of people at the top who have other interests. … What drives a paper like the Guardian or New York Times is not their inner moral values. It is simply that they have a market. In the UK, there is a market called “educated liberals”. Educated liberals want to buy a newspaper like the Guardian and therefore an institution arises to fulfil that market. … What is in the newspaper is not a reflection of the values of the people in that institution, it is a reflection of the market demand.”

That market demand, in turn, is shaped not by moral values but by economic forces – forces that need a media elite, just as they do a political elite, to shore up an ideological worldview that keeps those elites in power. Assange threatened to bring that whole edifice crashing down. That is why the institutions of the Guardian and the New York Times will shed no more tears than Donald Trump and Joe Biden if Assange ends up spending the rest of his life behind bars.

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This essay first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s blog: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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When I was sworn in to practice before the Supreme Court in 2007, I sat near the front of the gallery. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the five-foot-tall justice, was barely visible over the bench behind which she sat. On two occasions, Ginsburg visited the law school where I taught for many years. She graciously created the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture Series at our annual Women and the Law Conference, which featured leading feminist scholars.

In all three instances, I was struck by the stark contrast between her diminutive stature and her commanding presence. Now, in death, Ginsburg commands the national discourse. How, when and who will fill her vacant seat promises to have a powerful, even determinative, effect on the election and the future of the Supreme Court itself.

After Justice John Paul Stevens retired 10 years ago, Ginsburg assumed the role of leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. During her tenure on the high court, Ginsburg wrote landmark decisions — many of them in dissent — upholding the rights of women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people of color, criminal defendants, people with mental disabilities, workers, and the poor. Ginsburg “cast more liberal votes than any other justice in the court’s weightiest cases,” law professor and political scientist Lee Epstein from Washington University in St. Louis told The New York Times.

Before her confirmation to the Court in 1993, Ginsburg had already distinguished herself as a leader in the fight for gender equality. As a lawyer for the ACLU during the 1970s, Ginsburg handled six cases in the Supreme Court, winning five of them. In 1971, she scored her first victory in Reed v. Reed, a case in which the Court for the first time struck down a state law as violative of equal protection based on sex discrimination. Ginsburg filed an 88-page brief that detailed the ways in which the law perpetuated the oppression of women. Known as the “grandmother brief,” it provided a model for lawyers litigating gender rights cases. In the brief, Ginsburg argued laws that discriminate based on sex, like those that discriminate on account of race, should be judged with strict judicial scrutiny. Women, like people of color, she noted, have suffered a history of discrimination under the law.

In perhaps her most significant majority opinion as a Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg wrote in the 1996 case of U.S. v. Virginia that excluding women from admission to the Virginia Military Institute violated equal protection. She maintained that sex differences may not be used “for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity.” Differential treatment, Ginsburg wrote, cannot “create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women.”

One of Ginsburg’s monumental dissents came in the 2007 case of Ledbetter v. Tire and Rubber Co., in which the majority upheld strict time limits for filing employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She pointed out that pay discrimination is not always easy to identify, writing, “Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials.” Ginsburg challenged Congress to overturn the ruling by changing the law, writing, “the ball is in Congress’ court.” Congress complied by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Another momentous Ginsburg dissent came in 2013 in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, in which the majority struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, that had established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination. Ginsburg wrote, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Ginsburg’s critique has particular resonance as the GOP increases its voter suppression efforts in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. When she read her dissent from the bench, Ginsburg departed slightly from its written version in quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and adding, “if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

One of Ginsburg’s most noteworthy dissents came in the 2000 case that anointed George W. Bush president of the United States. In Bush v. Gore, a 5-4 majority of the Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court’s order for a statewide manual recount in a very close election. Although conservatives usually champion states’ rights, they turned that proclivity on its head to hand the election to Bush. Ginsburg noted, “[T]he Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States.”

Bush v. Gore is especially ironic in light of Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s unconscionable and hypocritical rush to confirm Ginsburg’s successor before Inauguration Day. It remains to be seen whether, with the election less than six weeks away, four Republican senators will vote with the Democrats to refrain from filling Ginsburg’s seat and leave the decision for the next president.

The Court now has eight members, three liberals and five conservatives. Chief Justice John Roberts, mindful of the legacy of the Roberts Court, ruled with the liberals to strike down an abortion restriction and uphold the Affordable Care Act. Until Ginsburg’s death, Roberts had been the swing vote on the Court. A Trump appointment would substitute a right-wing justice for Ginsburg, making a 6-3 conservative majority. There would be solid votes to overrule Roe v. Wade and strike down the Affordable Care Act.

During her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was a consistent protector of the poor and the disenfranchised. One must hope that the next justice who fills her seat will rule in the tradition of this legendary liberal justice.

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Copyright © Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

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President Kennedy’s Role in the Vietnam War

September 23rd, 2020 by Shane Quinn

Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s presidency, which ran for eight years from January 1953, is notable in the reluctance of the “great general” to launch large-scale military offensives. This was at a time when American power was immeasurably clear of any other nation on earth.

As president, Eisenhower preferred the coup d’etat to the military invasion. After some cajoling from the British pertaining to Iran, the Americans led a putsch in August 1953 against a nationalist government in Tehran – mainly in order to ensure US-British control over Iran’s massive oil reserves, in “the most strategically important area of the world”, as Eisenhower previously described the Middle East. In June 1954 the Eisenhower administration once more resorted to the coup, this time in Guatemala, with Eisenhower’s fear on this instance being the expansion of independent nationalism in the United States’ “backyard” of Latin America. (1)

Eisenhower refused to send American forces en masse to invade Guatemala, as former president Woodrow Wilson would have done a generation before; but the repercussions for Guatemala and its people were still horrendous, the destruction of her democracy which lingers in the country to this day.

Along south-east Asia, specifically Vietnam, Eisenhower again did not descend to an outright military invasion, though he was clearly concerned about the situation. On 7 April 1954, Eisenhower warned that Japan would turn “toward the Communist areas in order to live” if a communist victory in Indochina “takes away, in its economic aspects, that region that Japan must have as a trading area”. Washington’s trepidation of the “super domino” Japan falling to communist influence spreading forth from Vietnam, would remain a serious concern of American planners over following years. (2)

Yet in reality there was no probability that conservative, US-friendly Japan would have become sympathetic to communism, in the scenario of Vietnam’s “loss”. Nor was there a likelihood, had Vietnam been left in peace, that communism would have spread to the Philippines, India, the Middle East, etc., where the masses in these countries had little idea of what communism entailed.

Though not extending to aggression, Eisenhower instituted and supported state terror methods in the Republic of Vietnam, more commonly known as South Vietnam, a state officially founded in October 1955; pending unification of the country on the basis of free elections, which were meant to be held in 1956. Washington regarded the 1954 Geneva agreements as a “disaster” which stipulated, in effect, to hand Vietnam over to the Vietnamese. Instead, Eisenhower’s government quickly established the Ngo Dinh Diem dictatorship in South Vietnam: So as to eradicate the perceived threat to US hegemony in south-east Asia and beyond.

The American author and historian, Noam Chomsky, wrote that this US-backed terrorist regime had, by 1961, “already taken perhaps 75,000 lives in the southern sector of Vietnam since Washington took over the war directly in 1954. But the 1954-1961 crimes were of a different order: they belong to the category of crimes that Washington conducts routinely, either directly or through its agents, in its various terror states. In the fall and winter of 1961-1962, Kennedy added the war crime of aggression to the already sordid record, also raising the attack to new heights”. (3)

Source: vietnamfulldisclosure.org

Less than nine months into his presidency, on 11 October 1961 John F. Kennedy ordered the dispatchment of a US Air Force squadron “Farmgate” to South Vietnam, consisting of 12 warplanes equipped specifically for counterinsurgency attacks – and which were soon authorised “to fly coordinated missions with Vietnamese personnel in support of Vietnamese ground forces” (4). Under Eisenhower, US soldiers in Vietnam remained in a “strictly advisory” role, not actually participating in raids. This status altered within the first year of Kennedy’s tenure, from terror to aggression.

In June 1956 JFK, then a senator, had outlined that,

“Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia, the Keystone to the Arch, the finger in the dike. Burma, Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines, and obviously Laos and Cambodia, are among those whose security would be threatened if the red tide of communism overflowed into Vietnam”.

His views would change little in coming years.

On 22 November 1961, Kennedy sanctioned the use of US forces “in a sharply increased effort to avoid a further deterioration of the situation” in South Vietnam. It included “increased airlift to the GVN [South Vietnamese regime] in the form of helicopters, light aviation and transport aircraft”. This equipment, along with the arrival of US armed force members to South Vietnam, would partake in “aerial reconnaissance, instruction in and execution of air-ground support and special intelligence” (5). Among the military units were three US Army Helicopter Companies, a Troop Carrier Squadron with 32 planes, fighter aircraft, a Reconnaissance Unit, and six C-123 transport planes equipped for defoliation.

Less than two weeks before, on 11 November 1961 the US National Security Council (NSC) under president Kennedy had ordered the use of “Aircraft, personnel, and chemical defoliants to kill Viet Cong food crops and defoliate selected border and jungle areas”. On 27 November 1961, it was reported that “spraying equipment had been installed on Vietnamese H-34 helicopters, and is ready for use against food crops”. Three weeks later the US Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, authorised newly-based US warplanes in South Vietnam to begin attacking locals, who were resisting the assaults of the US-imposed dictatorship. By January 1962 further US military hardware had arrived in South Vietnam, such as advanced helicopters, along with providing tactical air support.

Chomsky observed that the above actions by the Kennedy administration “were the first steps in engaging US forces directly in bombing and other combat missions in South Vietnam from 1962, along with sabotage missions in the North. These 1961-1962 actions laid the groundwork for the huge expansion of the war in later years, with its awesome toll”. (6)

JFK put the hawkish McNamara in charge of running the war in Vietnam, despite him having scant experience of front line fighting. McNamara was more acquainted with office work, analysing spreadsheets or graphs. From 1946, he had worked in a civilian position for many years with the Ford Motor Company.

Kennedy was inaugurated as president on 20 January 1961. Over the next year and a half, US soldier numbers in South Vietnam increased sixfold, from about 900 on 31 December 1960, to 5,576 by 30 June 1962. The figures then doubled over the next six months, to 11,300 on 31 December 1962. In the early winter of 1963, at the time of Kennedy’s death, there were around 16,000 US military personnel in South Vietnam (7). During the Kennedy presidency, US troop levels on Vietnamese soil increased almost 20 times over from the end of Eisenhower’s tenure.

In July 1962, Defense Secretary McNamara stressed that US plans relating to Vietnam should stick to “a conservative view”, in that withdrawal of American forces “would take three years, instead of one, that is, by the latter part of 1965”, in the event that victory was obtained by then. This schedule would have taken Kennedy into his second term as president, providing of course that he won re-election. McNamara was Kennedy’s right-hand man, we can note – and the late 1965 timetable, regarding US involvement in Vietnam, dispels the assertions that JFK was planning to imminently withdraw US forces from Vietnam.

General Paul Harkins, himself stationed in South Vietnam, elaborated in his Comprehensive Plan of January 1963 that, “the phase-out of the US special military assistance is envisioned as generally occurring during the period July 1965-June 1966” (8). Moreover, by mid-1962 US “intelligence and sabotage forays” into Ho Chi Minh’s communist North Vietnam had also commenced, according to JFK’s National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy. Entering 1963 the US war strategy outlined in January of that year was, as Chomsky noted, “in an atmosphere of great optimism, the military initiatives for withdrawal went hand-in-hand with plans for escalation of the war within South Vietnam, and possibly intensified operations against North Vietnam”.

The reality on the ground bears proof of this. By the summer of 1962 and through 1963, CIA activities in Vietnam were increasing. The CIA partook “in joint clandestine operations” with the South Vietnamese armed forces against North Vietnam; CIA actions in Vietnam were recognised on 11 December 1963 by US National Security Staff member Michael Forrestal. In addition the American journalist William Pfaff had, in mid-1962, personally witnessed a CIA patrol “loading up” in an unmarked US C-46 aircraft northwards of Saigon, and heading to North Vietnam or “possibly into China itself”.

It can be important to examine the views of top level American military commanders, relating to the prospect of waging war in Vietnam. In April 1961, General Douglas MacArthur informed president Kennedy that it would be a “mistake” to fight at all in Asia, and that “our line should be Japan, Formosa and the Philippines”. In July 1961, MacArthur firmly repeated this stance during a three hour long discussion in the White House with JFK, but his advice was ignored (9). MacArthur felt that “the domino theory was ridiculous in a nuclear age”, which purports that one country after another would succumb to communism without US intervention. Kennedy is on record as promoting the domino theory.

MacArthur’s successor as the US Army Chief of Staff, General Matthew Ridgway, expressed similar sentiments to MacArthur. Ridgway had opposed the policies of Eisenhower in Vietnam from 1954, which were undertaken to subvert the Geneva Accords. In 1956, Ridgway wrote that limited US involvement in Vietnam had an “ominous ring”, which he suspected would result in escalation (10). He recalled the US Air Force destruction of North Korea in the early 1950s, and found it “incredible… that we were on the verge of making that same tragic error”, which is what president Kennedy would proceed to do. Ridgway later “passionately opposed intervention in Vietnam”, the military historian Robert Buzzanco acknowledged.

Air Force F-105s bomb a target in the southern panhandle of North Vietnam on June 14, 1966. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)

General J. Lawton Collins, another experienced US military man, likewise warned about armed intervention in Vietnam and surrounding regions. Collins said that he did not “know of a single senior commander that was in favour of fighting on the land mass of Asia” (11). General James M. Gavin who, like his above colleagues, had commanded US troops in the front line during World War II, was against invading Vietnam too. Even Kennedy’s closest military adviser, General Maxwell Taylor, expressed misgivings about escalating the conflict.

Meanwhile, in February 1962 JFK’s invasion of Vietnam was undeniable. By that month, US Air Force planes “had already flown hundreds of missions”, according to John Newman, the author and retired US major, who cited an army history. Many of these US airborne operations had a low-ranking Vietnamese enlisted soldier on board, just for show. Also in February 1962, on the 22nd, the top US commander in Vietnam, Lieutenant General Lionel McGarr, informed JFK that “in providing the GVN [South Vietnamese regime] the tools to do the job” Washington “must not offer so much that they [the Vietnamese] forget that the job of saving the country is theirs – only they can do it”. (12)

However, in just one week during May 1962, Vietnamese Air Force and US helicopter units flew about 350 sorties together, including offensives and airlifts. By contrast to the military commanders, the NSC civilian leadership, knowing less about war, favoured increasing the US armed presence in Vietnam. Throughout 1962, the second year of Kennedy’s term, the “main emphasis” for Washington was “on the military effort” in South Vietnam, as deliberated on by Arthur Schlesinger, JFK’s close consultant. US military advisers flocked to South Vietnam bringing with them the machines and instruments of modern war, “from typewriters to helicopters”. Furthermore, US Army personnel in early 1962 were indeed directly participating in military operations in Vietnam, a notable upsurge from the Eisenhower years.

Chomsky wrote that,

“By 1962, Kennedy’s war had far surpassed the French war at its peak in helicopters and aerial fire power… Kennedy’s aggression was no secret. In March 1962, US officials announced publicly that US pilots were engaged in combat missions (bombing and strafing). By October, after three US planes were shot down in two days, a front-page story in the New York Times reported that ‘in 30 percent of all the combat missions flown in Vietnamese Air Force planes, Americans are at the controls’, though ‘national insignia have been erased from many aircraft, both American and Vietnamese,… to avoid the thorny international problems involved’.” (13)

Through 1962, US troops were using HU-1A helicopters against South Vietnamese guerrillas. As an offensive weapon, these helicopters contained more firepower than any World War II fighter aircraft. Contrary to the long established myth that JFK, before his assassination (on 22 November 1963), was on the cusp of withdrawing US forces from Vietnam, the opposite is in fact the case. On 17 July 1963, Kennedy said that if US personnel were sent back home it “would mean a collapse not only of South Vietnam, but Southeast Asia. So we are going to stay there”.

In Kennedy’s dialogue with the broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite on 2 September 1963, the US president said,

“I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake… this is a very important struggle even though it is far away”. (14)

A week afterwards on 9 September 1963, during an NBC interview Kennedy reiterated, “I think we should stay” in Vietnam because withdrawal “only makes it easy for the Communists” (15). Three days later on 12 September Kennedy expounded,

“What helps to win the war, we support; what interferes with the war effort, we oppose. I have already made it clear that any action by either government which may handicap the winning of the war is inconsistent with our policy or our objectives” (16).

These latter comments by Kennedy, of 12 September 1963, became “a policy guideline” as noted by Roger Hilsman, JFK’s aide and adviser.

On 26 September 1963, less than two months before Kennedy’s death, he said that America stations troops in Vietnam and other nations because “our freedom is tied up with theirs” and the “security of the United States is thereby endangered” if they pass “behind the Iron Curtain. So all those who suggest we withdraw, I could not disagree with them more. If the United States were to falter the whole world, in my opinion, would inevitably begin to move toward the Communist bloc”.

On 1 November 1963, Washington implemented a long-awaited coup to oust the unreliable South Vietnamese dictator Diem. He was killed the following day, along with Ngo Dinh Nhu, his influential younger brother. Nhu had over recent months complained there were “too many US troops in Vietnam”, and the Kennedy administration was worried the brothers were pursuing a secret deal with the North Vietnamese government. JFK was anxious for the coup to proceed and he placed the new US Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., in operational command of it. Kennedy believed that if the coup failed the US “could lose our entire position in Southeast Asia overnight”. (17)

Kennedy lauded the removal of Diem as being “of the greatest importance”, and he thanked Ambassador Lodge for his “fine job” and “leadership”. With a hawkish new military dictatorship in place in South Vietnam, Kennedy was pleased that “the prospect of defeat” which was “decisive in shaping our relations to the Diem regime” are now in the past. It is again clear that the US president was intent on remaining in Vietnam and escalating the conflict there, only removing US forces after the war was won, or so it was hoped.

Dean Rusk, the US Secretary of State under Kennedy and successor Lyndon B. Johnson, later dismissed allegations that the former intended to withdraw, “I had hundreds of talks with John F. Kennedy about Vietnam, and never once did he say anything of this sort”. (18)

Eight days before the assassination, on 14 November 1963 Kennedy told the media regarding Vietnam there was a “new situation there” following the coup, and “we hope, an increased effort in the war”. JFK continued that the US strategy should be “how we can intensify the struggle” so that “we can bring Americans out of there” (19). In Fort Worth, just a few hours prior to his death, Kennedy produced another statement saying, “Without the United States, South Vietnam would collapse overnight”.

Chomsky affirms that in the time leading up to Kennedy’s shooting,

“there is not a phrase in the voluminous internal record that even hints at withdrawal without victory. JFK urges that everyone ‘focus on winning the war’; withdrawal is conditioned on victory, and motivated by domestic discontent with Kennedy’s war. The stakes are considered enormous. Nothing substantial changes as the mantle passes to LBJ”. (20)

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Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

1 Susanne Jonas, “50 years later, the lessons from Guatemala”, The Progessive, 21 June 2004

2 Noam Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot (London, Verso Books, 1 April 1993) p. 40

3 Ibid., p. 23

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., p. 50

6 Ibid., p. 23

7 Jack Valenti, “LBJ’s Unwinnable War”, Washington Post, 28 November 2001

8 Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, p. 68

9 Francis P. Sempa, “A New Take on General MacArthur’s Warning to JFK to Avoid a Land War in Asia”, The Diplomat, 5 October 2018

10 Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College, Volume 17, p. 64

11 Army University Press, “CSI Report No. 5, Conversations with General J. Lawton Collins”

12 Robert Buzzanco, “Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era”, (Cambridge University Press; New Ed Edition, 12 Jan. 2008) p. 125

13 Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, p. 52

14 Mount Holyoke College, “President Kennedy’s Television Interviews on Vietnam, September 2 and 9, 1963”

15 Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, p. 46

16 American Foreign Policy Current Documents, 1967, p. 873

17 Office of the Historian, “235. Memorandum of a Conference with President Kennedy”, 29 October 1963

18 James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (OUP USA; New Ed Edition, 12 Feb. 1998) p. 516

19 JFK Library, “News Conference 64, November 14, 1963”

20 Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, p. 81

The rumor today is that Romney will reportedly say he’ll support Trump’s 3rd SCOTUS vote. So there you have it! 2020 election Game Over!

Trump will now get his 3rd Supreme Court nominee accepted by McConnell’s Senate–either before Nov. 3 or after. It doesn’t matter when so long as before January.

A SCOTUS 6-3 Trump majority now positions Trump’s SCOTUS majority to stop the mail in ballot vote count in Trump targeted blue and swing states, which would heavily favor Biden.

CNN poll shows 66% of Trump supporters will vote in person on Nov. 3 but only 22% of Biden supporters vote in person. (53% Biden supports to vote by mail). Trump will appear to win on Nov. 3 based on direct in person voting. He’ll declare victory and then move quickly to have Barr and the Justice Dept. stop the counting of mail in ballots in key swing states.

His lawyers are already fanning out and filing motions for injunctions against mail in voting. They will flood swing-blue states mail in ballot vote counting to delay the counting still further. States where Republican governors (and State secretaries of state who manage those states’ vote counting) will meanwhile throw out millions of mail in ballots based on technicalities like signatures failing to dot i’s or cross t’s to ensure Trump ‘red’ states turn in pro-Trump decisions.

Examples of US post office chaos & claims of lost vote ballots, etc. will be used by Trump lawyers to make legal argument that mail in ballots cannot be used to determine the final vote count. Injunctions will be filed to require states to disregard mail ballots. Further delays in mail in ballot counting will occur.

Disputes and legal action by Dems in response will be quickly sent up by Trump federal district judges (appointed by hundreds under McConnell since 2013) to the Supreme Court, now 6-3 in Trump’s pocket. Trump’s Supreme Court will repeat its Florida 2000 decision stopping the vote count–this time counting original votes not a recount. Only swing and blue states will be targeted, not red states already pro-Trump.

Street protests will erupt after Nov. 3 protesting the legal coup d’etat in progress. Trump has already called protestors “insurrectionists” and identified all protests as ‘antifa’ or ‘communist’. His attorney general, Barr, has also already pre-labeled protestors as “treasonous” and traitors who should be forcibly repressed and jailed

The US executive branch since 2002 now has its own executive police force called the Dept. Homeland Security (DHS), with de facto military swat teams who’ve been doing ‘dry runs’ in Seattle, Chicago, Portland and elsewhere. They will be used to suppress protests, aided by pro-Trump local police departments (e.g. New York City, etc.) and perhaps even welcoming right wing radical supportors as provocateurs to attack protestors and thus allow DHS-Police to declare protests riots and directly quash protests.

Contrary to Joe Biden declaring the US military will remove Trump from office if necessary, the US military has said publicly it ‘won’t get involved’.

Democrats will file multiple legal responses to efforts to stop the mail in vote counting that will get delayed in the lower federal court system until Trump is sworn in again in January. Trump’s 6-3 SCOTUS majority will eventually declare them unconstitutional after the fact.

Democrats’ US House of Representatives will once again impeach Trump but it will be ignored once again. Dems will not win Senate as their challengers in Senate will also be stopped from taking office after winning Nov. 3 by mail ballot count cancellation. Mail in ballot vote counting will never be concluded–as in Florida 2000. Americans will never know who actually won the election, as was the case in Florida in 2000.

Trump will gloat and restate what he’s been saying in his recent election speeches: ‘We’ll win in November and after that maybe look at another four years, or even more”!

He’ll then govern mostly by executive order in his second term, ignoring the US House, and moving money around in the US budget to wherever he wants (already doing it) in direct violation of the US Constitution.

In US foreign policy, should Trump win, watch for a total naval blockades launched against Iran and Venezuela after January 2021, if not before as an ‘October Surprise’. In 2021 the US will also engage in massive military buildup in the western pacific to confront and intimidate China.

In 2021 the US economy will relapse and contract after election due to US growing ‘Triple Crisis’ of intensifying political instability and Constitutional crisis, lack of further fiscal stimulus 4th quarter 2020, and possible Covid 19 resurgence.

Trump’s second term 2021 solution will be even more tax cuts for investors, business, and corporations–paid for by cuts in education, social safety net, social security and medicare-medicaid, and tax hikes on middle class.

Failure of the Democrats to have stopped Trump the past four years will likely usher in a basic political party re-alignment in the US as a form of authoritarian government takes hold under Trump quite different from even the limited Democracy form that has itself been slowly atrophying since the early 1990s.

The social condition during the last six months, that some liken socially to a kind of ‘low grade’ war, may well worsen in multiple ways over the coming six months into spring 2021.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, Jack Rasmus.

Jack Rasmus is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Massoud Nayeri

Background

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has slammed US sanctions against his country, saying they are a flagrant violation of the UN charter.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, Rouhani said the Iranian nation successfully withstood the US maximum pressure campaign. He added, Iran even flourished under the bans while pursuing its role as a pivot of peace and stability. He pointed to some of Iran’s peace efforts in the region and beyond, including combating the Daesh terrorist group, saying such a nation does not deserve sanctions. Rouhani said the US sanctions under the pretext of nuclear proliferation are based on false and baseless accusations. The Iranian president described the UN Security Council’s rejection of US unilateralism as a victory for Iran and the world community. He said the US can impose neither negotiations nor war on Iran.

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PressTV: Could you please comment on Mr. Rouhani’s remarks?

Peter Koenig: First, Mr. Rouhani is absolutely right. Iran, together with Russia and Hezbollah played a crucial role in the Middle East Peace process, especially in Syria. And of course, Iran does not deserve any sanctions – not just because Iran is a peaceful nation and even helps brokering peace with and between other nations – but also because Iran did not violate any of the conditions under the Nuclear Accord – or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed under President Obama’s watch on 14 July 2015 in Vienna.

This has been confirmed again and again by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna.

PressTV: How come the U.S. insists on the sanctions though they’ve not caused Iran to abandon resistance against bullies?

PK: It’s largely propaganda. In less than 45 days Mr. Trump will face re-election – or not. Being tough on Iran will impress his conservative followers, regardless whether or not these sanctions have any impact on Iran.

Americans, are basically good people, but they don’t know the real background and impact of the sanctions. They know nothing – only the lies offered to them by the mainstream media.

Almost the same could be said for Europeans. Most of them know what the official mainstream media tells them.

President Trump, knows of course, that sanctioning Iran – and sanctioning everybody and every country that is still dealing and trading with Iran – like the European Union, for example – is illegal. We know, he doesn’t care.

But it must be said. The Iran Nuclear Deal had been approved by the UN Security Council – and is still valid. The UN Security Council does not approve of the sanctions, nor does it approve of unilaterally abrogating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – signed on 14 July 2015, still during Barak Obama’s Presidency, by Iran, the US, Russia, China, UK, Germany and the EU.

Unfortunately, although the EU does not agree with the sanctions – they will most likely go along with them. For fear of the US punishing European enterprises dealing with Iran. Very similar to what Washington does with European companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, supposed to deliver gas from Russia to Germany and the EU.

But not to worry – Iran doesn’t need the west anymore.

Iran does well, focusing on the East – reorienting her trade and political focus, including monetary transactions with the east, according to eastern – i.e. China and Russian systems, approaching entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

PressTV: Mr. Trump said he will force renegotiation of the Nuclear Deal. What is your view on this?

PK: This will not fly, of course. And Mr. Trump knows it. But – again, its propaganda ahead of the November elections, and its part of his election campaign.

Renegotiation, once more, would require the approval of the UN Security Council – and that is highly unlikely with Russia and China – veto countries – in the UNSC.

It’s sheer blustering Trump talk.

PressTV: Why does the U.S. make claims such as being against terrorism while supporting them and putting the blame on other countries like Iran?

PK: Washington never follows logic. – Until not too long again this preposterous approach worked with many countries. The world listened. And many believed it.

But no more.

It is every day clearer that the only rogue Nation in the World – the only Nation that sponsors terrorism, is the United States.

And why are they still doing it – and blaming Iran?

Still propaganda – make believe – that The US is still the strongest country in the world the one that calls the shots on every event on the globe.

But no more and Mr. Trump and his government are aware that the US empire is on a declining branch.

But as with every dying empire, they will not give up until the end.

The EU better wake up before the end, before being pulled down into the abyss.

Iran has a bright future ahead with her orientation towards the East, China and Russia.

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Campaign for Peace and Democracy


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The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

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The US wants Kenya to support Israel’s political and commercial interests, or forget a free trade deal (FTA) with the world’s biggest economy.

This is one of a raft of conditions set in the ongoing FTA negotiations between Nairobi and Washington.

The US has indicated in its objectives seen by The EastAfrican that the deal with Kenya should, with respect to commercial partnerships, discourage actions that prejudice or discourage business between the US and Israel.

Washington argues that the FTA should “discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.”

The US also wants the “elimination of politically motivated, non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on Israel; and the elimination of State-sponsored, unsanctioned foreign boycotts of Israel, or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel.”

The inclusion of a third party, Israel, in the negotiation agenda, has seen lobby groups in Nairobi warn that the agreement could be too risky for Kenya.

The US has for decades been a staunch supporter and defender of Israel on the global stage and in volatile Middle East.

“The United States published its negotiating position before negotiations began for all to see. We are negotiating with transparency and openness,” said the US ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, when asked about the inclusion of Israel in the negotiations. “This is how we have treated the numerous other countries with which we have concluded successful free trade agreements benefiting both parties,” he added.

Political connotation

The East African Tax and Governance Network (EATGN) and East African Trade Network (EATN), the groups who have been following developments on the matter, said Nairobi was being ‘‘entrapped’’ in the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

“Due to Kenya’s own special relationship with Israel and its pragmatic approach in dealing with issues like tensions in the Middle East, US demands for such political connotations in the USFTA would undercut the country’s reputation,” argued Leonard Wanyama, the co-ordinator of the EATGN and vice-president of the International Relations Society of Kenya, a lobby for foreign policy experts in Nairobi told The EastAfrican.

The Network and other groups had raised a petition opposing the negotiations, unless there is clarity on tax exemptions to avoid any revenue losses for the government.

But the demand for protection of Israeli interests means Washington is pursuing the goal of ending any possible support for Palestine’s Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, a global initiative by various groups across the world friendly to Palestinian grievances. The groups often seek to have Israel meet obligations under international law.

These include withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories; removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and “respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties,” according to a bulletin by the BDS Committee.

Traditionally, Kenya has often recognised Israel, but rarely makes a public statement endorsing one side or the other and supports the ultimate two-State solution for Palestine and Israel. It allows Palestine to establish a representative office in Nairobi.

This week, the Tax Network said Washington’s demand could place Nairobi in a difficult situation and called for officials to reject the call.

On Thursday, Johnson Weru, the Trade and Industry Principal Secretary told The EastAfrican that political issues are not part of the agenda, but declined to discuss the issues they agreed to.

Controversial objectives

Nairobi’s own published objectives indicate the agreement must be discussed within the limits of the EAC and the World Trade Organisation regulations. Kenya also wants a deal that takes into consideration the “special and differential treatment applicable to Kenya as a developing country.”

Under the WTO guidelines, developed countries provide certain preferential treatment to developing partners such as duty-free market access without expecting reciprocal treatment.

Whether Kenya’s refusal to accept political discussions is because of the petition filed earlier last month is yet to be clear. But the US has also included other controversial objectives, which the lobbies are opposed to.

For example, the US insists Kenya must not tax digital products like e-books or music, and Nairobi must include no provisions that require US firms operating to store data locally.

Under the WTO moratorium on e-commerce, Customs duty should be charged on ‘‘transmission’’ of those services and products, not the products or their contents themselves.

The 1998 moratorium has been challenged in situations where physical products have been digitised.

Peter Lunenborg, a Senior Programmes Officer for Trade and development at trade policy research group, South Centre, told The EastAfrican it was not unusual for countries to include conditions like this in trade negotiations, as long as they enhance their market access.

“These are disciplines that are also in USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada Agreement), so there are no surprises there. Essentially these rules, inter alia, aim at maintaining the dominance of US-based e-commerce firms,” he said, referring to the US deal that came into force last July.

Mr Lunenborg said there have been concerns, however, raised at the WTO by some members who argue e-commerce needs to be structured to protect developing countries.

Since 2017, for instance, the Africa Group at the WTO has argued that developing countries need to look beyond the possible benefits of digital solutions, and to start assessing the impact that the lack of digital and technological capabilities would have in cementing and widening the technology divide.

A report on the ‘‘digital industrial policy and development’’ by the Africa Group concluded that “a thorough assessment is required, particularly for developing countries, to assess the opportunities and threats that digital transformation will bring.

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Featured image: The US insists Kenya must not tax digital products like e-books or music, and Nairobi must include no provisions that require US firms operating to store data locally. PHOTO | FILE

André Vltchek – Remembered

September 23rd, 2020 by Peter Koenig

André, my good friend and comrade is no more.

We worked on several investigative projects together. André’s professional rigor, sharpness of understanding, vision and ability to connecting the dots is exemplary.

We shared some unforgettable moments, when we followed a refugee trail from Bodrum, Turkey, to the Greek Island of Kos in the Aegean Sea – onwards to Athens.

I’m deeply shocked and saddened beyond words by André’s sudden passing.

In the night from Monday to Tuesday 22 September, André traveled by chauffeur-driven car with his wife from Samsun on the Black Sea in Turkey to Istanbul. When they arrived in the early morning hours at the hotel and his wife wanted to wake him up, he didn’t react. He had passed away.

Andre Vltchek Dead—Murdered by NATO/Zionists? – Veterans Today | Military Foreign Affairs Policy Journal for Clandestine Services

Turkish police said André’s death was “suspicious”. His body was immediately brought to a hospital for forensic analysis.

André traveled relentlessly from one battle field to another, from one conflict zone to a war zone. He exposed innumerable atrocities committed around the world, mostly by western powers. He never wavered from revealing the truth. From Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan to Argentina, Chile, Peru to Hong Kong, to Xinjiang, the Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China – André was there. He reported on environmental crimes in Borneo, or originally called Kalimantan, Indonesia, where corruption is destroying vital rainforests – the lungs of Mother Earth – for the benefit of western corporations, killing wildlife and annihilating the livelihoods of indigenous people.

 


André stood always up for justice, in defense of the poor, for the persecuted, the oppressed – for those that by and large are considered non-people by the elitist Global North; the destitute, the refugees, political prisoners, those that disappear and wither away in the shadows. As an investigative journalist and geopolitical analyst, he fought Supremacist Might for Human Rights.

André was a true Internationalist. He will be deeply missed.

May his soul rest in peace and his spirit live on.

There is an extensive archive of  Andre’s article on Global Research

Read Andre’s Global Research articles here.

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Leon Panetta, who served as director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2009 to 2011, and then as the Obama administration’s secretary for defence, has let the cat out of the bag, telling interviewers that the US is seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to send a threatening message to whistleblowers and publishers alike.

The comments were aired this week in a documentary produced by German public broadcaster ARD, entitled “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange.” The program was a compelling and objective account of the ten year US persecution of Assange and featured strong interviews with his father John Shipton, his partner Stella Moris, WikiLeaks’ lawyers, United Nations Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and famous National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Panetta’s remarks were arguably the most significant, because they were confirmation from the horse’s mouth of the mafia-character of the US pursuit of Assange, its politically-motivated nature and flagrant disregard for international laws and fundamental democratic rights. His comments have, not only political, but potentially legal significance, refuting the lies of the US Justice Department, aimed at presenting the attempted extradition as a bona fide process conforming with judicial norms.

Panetta’s comments have probative value, because he was intimately involved in the initial stages of the US campaign to silence Assange. A decades-long Democratic Party political operative, Panetta was head of the CIA in 2010, when the US government responded to WikiLeaks’ exposures of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and global diplomatic conspiracies, by launching an unprecedented operation against Assange and denouncing him as a “spy” or a “high-tech terrorist”

Panetta would undoubtedly have been involved in the Obama administration’s establishment of a “WikiLeaks war room,” staffed by hundreds of military and intelligence operatives, with the sole purpose of “neutralising” Assange.

It can only be assumed that he was privy to the plans surrounding various dirty tricks against the WikiLeaks founder; the 2010 global tour by Hillary Clinton to mitigate the impact of the publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and to line up governments internationally against Assange, and the discussions that resulted in the establishment of a secret grand jury, convened for the purpose of concocting charges against Assange.

In other words, Panetta is not a disinterested observer, but a direct participant. Moreover, while he departed the CIA in mid-2011, and retired from federal office two years later, it is well known that no one ever quite leaves the agency. Its power is based not only on a vast bureaucracy and network of field agents, but also a web of influence encompassing “retired” officials and private security companies, who are “kept in the loop.” Panetta remains a prominent political figure, heading the “Panetta Institute for Public Policy.”

It was in this context that Panetta baldly declared: “All you can do is hope that you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing.”

In other words, the prosecution of Assange is a political act, intended to send a warning to journalists who would consider publishing the secrets of the American government. Earlier in the program, Panetta had presented the publication of “classified” and “national security” material as a sin worse than any other.

Those statements alone demonstrate that the US government is lying to the British courts. Under the existing British-US extradition treaty, an individual cannot be extradited to face charges of a political nature.

Since extradition proceedings resumed last week, British prosecutors, representing the US Justice Department, have alternated between claims that Assange is charged with common criminal offenses related to hacking and espionage, meaning that his prosecution would not pose a threat to press freedom, and ominous assertions that the US government is entitled to decide what journalists can and cannot publish.

Panetta echoed the former claim, describing Assange as a “spy.” But as Edward Snowden noted, Assange is explicitly charged with possessing and publishing documents. The prosecution is an attempt to criminalise common journalistic practices, including communicating with a source and seeking to protect their identity. Snowden pointedly asked, if it was not journalism that Assange was engaged in, then what is?

Image on the right: Edward Snowden (Screenshot “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange”)

Moreover Panetta’s concluding comments, on the intent of the prosecution, clearly demonstrated that the motivation for the laying of charges is to crackdown on journalism more broadly.

Panetta’s statements about Assange himself underscored the intensely vindictive character of the US prosecution. He declared, without attempting to provide any evidence, that “Assange is somebody who will sell somebody in his family if he thinks that, you know, that he is going to get some attention.” This is not the language of legal proceedings, but of a vendetta.

The ARD program also included an interview with David Morales, a former Spanish navy marine turned mercenary. As head of the Undercover Global security firm, he is accused of overseeing a vast spying operation against Assange while he was residing in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Undercover Global was contracted by the Ecuadorian authorities to manage security at the embassy. But former staff members have stated that in 2015, Morales entered into a secret agreement with US intelligence agencies to surveil every aspect of Assange’s life on their behalf.

The operation, which spanned until March, 2018, allegedly ended up including the installation of cameras and microphones throughout the building, in conference rooms, a women’s toilet and elsewhere. The material was then reportedly uploaded to a server, to which US intelligence had access.

Footage of Assange and Moris captured by Undercover Global cameras (Screenshot “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange”)

Some of the material has made its way into the hands of Assange’s defenders, and was featured in the ARD program. Assange and Moris were shown together on a high-definition video, which picked up the audio of their conversation. Most significantly, the interceptions allegedly included discussions between Assange and his lawyers, in a flagrant breach of attorney-client privilege.

Morales, who appeared uneasy, dismissed the accusations out of hand, without providing any explanation for the voluminous evidence substantiating them that is already on the public record. At one point, the ARD interviewers asked who he had been working for. Morales replied that his contract had been with the “intelligence secretariat.” After a pause, he added, without any great conviction, that he had been referring to his official contract with the Ecuadorian authorities to manage security at the building.

Image below: David Morales after being asked who he was working for (Screenshot “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange”)

Morales, who is credibly accused of spying on a political refugee for money in violation of international law, pathetically complained that internal Undercover Global documents which cast an unfavourable light on his activities were “confidential” and should not see the light of day.

The denials were undercut by Panetta. With the hubris of an official accustomed to doing as he pleases, Panetta declared the allegation that US intelligence spied on Assange through Undercover Global “doesn’t surprise me. That kind of thing goes on all the time. In intelligence business, the name of the game is to get information any way you can, and I’m sure that’s what was involved here.”

Panetta knows of what he speaks. The alleged espionage likely involved the agency that he previously directed.

Two further points should be made. Panetta’s unequivocal endorsement of the Trump administration’s attempt to prosecute Assange demonstrated, yet again, the bipartisan character of the US war against WikiLeaks and journalism. It is further proof that in the official contest between the Republicans and the Democrats in this November’s presidential election, there is no alternative for the working class.

Secondly, while Panetta’s remarks clearly indicated that, in the first instance, the prosecution is intended as a threat to dissident journalists, the warning is much wider. It is an attempt to establish the conditions for victimisations and frame-ups, amid an immense global crisis of capitalism, widespread anti-war sentiment and the reemergence of the class struggle. The primary target of the turn to authoritarianism is the working class.

The program concluded with a powerful remark from Snowden: “We are setting a precedent, right now, that we are going to live with for the next hundred years. No matter what you feel about Julian Assange, the methods that WikiLeaks and everyone connected to it pioneered have changed the way journalism is done. If we cannot recognise that, and we are not willing to protect it, I think the saddest part of this whole story is that we probably don’t deserve it, and as a result we will no longer have it when we need it the most.”

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Featured image: Panetta laughing as he discusses the prosecution of Assange (Screenshot “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange”)

The speeches given by Presidents Trump, Putin, and Xi via video during the 2020 UN General Assembly predictably revealed that the American leader’s assessment of the contemporary international situation and related vision of the future markedly differ from his Russian and Chinese counterparts’.

The functions of the 2020 UN General Assembly are being conducted almost entirely by video this year because of World War C, the author’s term for describing the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes unleashed by the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19. The highlight of Tuesday’s event was the speeches given by Presidents Trump, Putin, and Xi, which predictably revealed that the American leader’s assessment of the contemporary international situation and related vision of the future markedly differ from his Russian and Chinese counterparts’. For reference, readers can review the transcripts of their speeches in the previously hyperlinked sources embedded in each leaders’ name in the previous sentence. What follows is a summary of their views and visions, after which the most important contrasts between Trump’s and Putin & Xi’s will be briefly analyzed.

Trump

Beginning with Trump, he boasted about the US’ anti-COVID mobilization while blaming China for this global pandemic. He also condemned the People’s Republic for purportedly controlling the World Health Organization, its reported environmental devastation, and alleged trade abuses. Other highlights included mention of what he controversially described as the “peace deal” between Serbia and its NATO-occupied Province of Kosovo & Metohija, as well as the Abraham Accords, the latter of which he regarded as “the dawn of a new Middle East”. He also reminded the world of his commitment to withdraw from Afghanistan, as well as his assassination of Iranian Major General Soleimani who he called “the world’s top terrorist”. In addition, Trump claimed full credit for defeating ISIS. His vision of the future is one in which all countries put themselves first, and he predicted “that next year, when we gather in person, we will be in the midst of one of the greatest years in our history.”

Putin

Putin’s speech, by contrast, was much more constructive than Trump’s. He lauded the UN and its principle of multilateralism while reaffirming his belief that this global body’s Security Council must become more inclusive and international law more fully respected by all. The global economic crisis brought about by World War C necessitates urgent cooperation between the UN, G20, and other organizations. In this context, Putin promoted Russia’s vision of a Greater Eurasian Partnership and reiterated his country’s commitment to the creation of so-called “’green corridors’ free from trade wars and sanctions”. He also spoke in favor of “freeing the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions”. The Russian leader then recommended renewing the New START with the US, offered the Sputnik V vaccine for free to all UN personnel, and called for a G5 meeting of the UNSC. At the end of his speech, Putin repeated his call for multilateralism.

Xi

Compared to Trump’s and Putin’s speeches, Xi’s was the simplest of the three, though that’s not a criticism. He succinctly summarized the socio-economic and technological advancements of mankind over the past 75 years since the UN’s founding, and like Putin, Xi urged the international community to return to the principle of multilateralism so that “after the storm comes the rainbow”. He advised the UN to “stand firm for justice”, “uphold the rule of law”, “promote cooperation”, and “focus on real action”. Some relevant points that the Chinese leader made were thinly veiled condemnations of American bullying and unilateralism, as well as recommendations “to replace conflict with dialogue, coercion with consultation and zero-sum with win-win” and for the UN’s Agenda 2030 to give priority “to non-traditional security challenges” like public health. In his optimistic vision of the future, everyone will “work to promote a community with a shared future for mankind”.

Clashing Visions

The contrast between the American leader’s vision of the future and that of his Russian and Chinese counterparts is clear. Claiming that “American prosperity is the bedrock of freedom and security all over the world”, Trump portrayed the past three and a half years in glowing terms, supposedly enriched by the success of his campaign to “Make America Great Again”. Putin and Xi obviously disagree since they each in their own way criticized what they both regard as Trump’s dangerous unilateralism, be it through waging the so-called “trade war”, imposing sanctions, or threatening not to renew the New START. Trump is confident that he’ll return to address the UN next year as the American President, while one can interpret Putin and Xi’s optimism of the future as premised on their presumed belief that Biden might ultimately replace him. All in all, these three speeches simply confirmed that the New Cold War is still mainly about the US vs. Russia and China.

Concluding Thoughts

There are other details in these three speeches such as Trump’s call for regime change in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela and Putin’s suggestion to regulate artificial intelligence and ban space weapons that weren’t touched upon for the sake of keeping this article simple and straight to the point. Readers should therefore take the time to review each of the earlier hyperlinked transcripts if they’re interested in learning about the entirety of each leader’s views. Nevertheless, the point of this piece was to summarize their assessments and outlooks in order to confirm that that the current New Cold War trajectory will likely remain on track if Trump wins re-election. In the event that Biden beats him, however, there’s a chance that the present dynamics of the US’ dual Great Power competitions with Russia and China might somewhat change, though it’s unclear whether it would be for the better like Putin and Xi might hope or for the worse like his opponents at home predict.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

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Earlier this month, the street outside the Old Bailey criminal court in London, where Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has been taking place, was transformed into a carnival.

Inside the Old Bailey, the courtroom has turned into a circus. There have been multiple technical difficulties, a COVID-19 scare which temporarily halted proceedings and numerous procedural irregularities including the decision by the presiding judge to withdraw permission for Amnesty International’s fair trial observer to have access to the courtroom.

If the outside was a carnival, the inside of the court soon became a circus. -Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International

Arriving at the court each morning was an assault to the senses with the noise of samba bands, sound systems and chanting crowds and the sight of banners, balloons and billboards at every turn.

The first day of the hearing, which started on Monday 7 September, drew more than two hundred people to gather outside the court. People in fancy dress mingled with camera crews, journalists and a pack of hungry photographers who would disappear regularly to give chase to any white security van heading towards the court, pressing their long lenses against the darkened windows.

One of the vans had come from Belmarsh high security prison, Julian Assange’s home for the last 16 months.

The Wikileaks founder was in court for the resumption of proceedings that will ultimately decide on the Trump administration’s request for his extradition to the US. The American prosecutors claim he conspired with whistleblowers (army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning) to obtain classified information. They want him to stand trial on espionage charges in the US where he would face a prison sentence of up to 175 years.

Assange’s lawyers began with a request that the alleged evidence in a new indictment handed down in June be excluded from consideration given that it came so late. The Judge denied this. In the afternoon session, the lawyers requested an adjournment until next year to give his lawyers time to respond to the US prosecutor’s new indictment. They said they had been given insufficient time to examine the new allegations, especially since they had only “limited access” to the imprisoned Assange. Indeed, this most recent hearing was the first time in more than six months that Julian Assange had been able to meet with his lawyers. The judge rejected this request.

We requested access to the court for a trial monitor to observe the hearings, but the court denied us a designated seat in court. -Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International

Reacting to the decision, Kristinn Hrafnsson the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks told me that: “the decision is an insult to the UK courts and to Julian Assange and to justice. For the court to deny the request to adjourn is denying Assange his rights.”

Amnesty International had requested access to the court for a trial monitor to observe the hearings, but the court denied us a designated seat in court. Our monitor initially did get permission to access the technology to monitor remotely, but the morning the hearing started he received an email informing us that the Judge had revoked Amnesty International’s remote access.

We applied again for access to the proceedings on Tuesday 8 September, setting out the importance of monitoring and Amnesty International’s vast experience of observing trials in even some of the most repressive countries.

The judge wrote back expressing her “regret” at her decision and saying: “I fully recognise that justice should be administered in public”. Despite her regret and her recognition that scrutiny is a vital component of open justice, the judge did not change her mind.

If Amnesty International and other observers wanted to attend the hearing, they would have to queue for one of the four seats available in a public gallery. We submitted a third application to gain direct access to the overflow room at the court where some media view the livestream, but this has also been denied.

Amnesty International have monitored trials from Guantanamo Bay to Bahrain, Ecuador to Turkey. For our observer to be denied access profoundly undermines open justice. -Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International

The refusal of the judge to not to give any “special provision” to expert fair trial monitors is very disturbing. Through its refusal, the court has failed to recognize a key component of open justice: namely how international trial observers monitor a hearing for its compliance with domestic and international law. They are there to evaluate the fairness of a trial by providing an impartial record of what went on in the courtroom and to advance fair trial standards by putting all parties on notice that they are under scrutiny.

Amnesty International have monitored trials from Guantanamo Bay to Bahrain, Ecuador to Turkey. For our observer to be denied access profoundly undermines open justice.

In the court, the overflow room has experienced ongoing technical problems with sound and video quality. More than a week after the proceedings began, these basic technical difficulties have not been properly ironed out and large sections of witness evidence are inaudible. These technological difficulties were not restricted to the overflow room. In court, some witnesses trying to “call into” the court room last week, were not able to get in. These basic technical difficulties have hampered the ability of those in the courtroom to follow the proceedings.

If Julian Assange is silenced, others will also be gagged either directly or by the fear of persecution and prosecution. -Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International

We are still hopeful that a way can be found for our legal expert to monitor the hearing because the decision in this case is of huge importance. It goes to the heart of the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to access information.

The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange for having published disclosed documents is nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression. The potential chilling effect on journalists and others who expose official wrongdoing by publishing information disclosed to them by credible sources could have a profound impact on the public’s right to know what their government is up to.

If Julian Assange is silenced, others will also be gagged either directly or by the fear of persecution and prosecution which will hang over a global media community already under assault in the US and in many other countries worldwide.

The US Justice Department is not only charging a publisher who has a non-disclosure obligation but a publisher who is not a US citizen and not in America. The US government is behaving as if they have jurisdiction all over the world to pursue any person who receives and publishes information of government wrongdoing.

If the UK extradites Assange, he would face prosecution in the USA on espionage charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life – possibly in a facility reserved for the highest security detainees and subjected to the strictest of daily regimes, including prolonged solitary confinement. All for doing something news editors do the world over – publishing information provided by sources, that is in the interest of the wider public.

It is ironic that no one responsible for potential war crimes in Iraq & Afghanistan has been punished. Yet the publisher who exposed these potential crimes is the one in the dock. -Stefan, Simanowitz, Amnesty International

Outside the court, I bumped into Eric Levy, aged 92. His interest in Assange’s case is personal. He was in Baghdad during the American “shock and awe” bombardment in 2003 having travelled to Iraq as part of the Human Shield Movement aiming to stop the war and – failing that – to protect the Iraqi population.

“I’m here today for the same reason I was in Iraq. Because I believe in justice and I believe in peace,” he tells me. “Julian Assange is not really wanted for espionage. He is wanted for making America look like war criminals.”

Indeed, it is ironic that no one responsible for possible war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan has been prosecuted, let alone punished. And yet the publisher who exposed their crimes is the one in the dock facing a lifetime in jail.

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Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 14

September 23rd, 2020 by Craig Murray

Monday was a frustrating day as the Assange Hearing drifted deep into a fantasy land where nobody knows or is allowed to say that people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay and under extraordinary rendition. The willingness of Judge Baraitser to accept American red lines on what witnesses can and cannot say has combined with a joint and openly stated desire by both judge and prosecution to close this case down quickly by limiting the number of witnesses, the length of their evidence, and the time allowed for closing arguments. For the first time, I am openly critical of the defence legal team who seem to be missing the moment to stop being railroaded and say no, this is wrong, forcing Baraitser to make rulings against them. Instead most of the day was lost to negotiations between prosecution and defence as to what defence evidence could be edited out or omitted.

More of which later.

Professor Christian Grothoff

The first witness was Professor Christian Grothoff, a computer scientist based at the University of Berne Institute of Applied Sciences. Prof Grothoff had prepared an analysis of how and when the unredacted cables first came to be released on the internet.

Prof Grothoff was taken through his evidence in chief by Marks Summers QC for the defence. Prof Grothoff testified that Wikileaks had shared the cable cache with David Leigh of the Guardian. This had been done in encrypted form. It had a very strong encryption key; without the long, strong password there would be no way to access it. It was useless without the key. In reply to questions from Summers, Prof Grothoff confirmed that it was standard practice for information to be shared by an online cache with strong encryption. It was standard practice, and not in any way irresponsible. Banking or medical records might be securely communicated in this way. Once the file is encrypted, it cannot be read without the key, and nor can the key be changed. New copies can of course be made from the unencrypted original with different keys.

Summers then led Prof Grothoff to November 2010 when cables started to be published, initially by partners from the media consortium after redaction. Grothoff said that the next event was a DDOS attack on the Wikileaks site. He explained how a distributed denial of service attack works, hijacking multiple computers to overload the target website with demand. Wikileaks reaction was to encourage people to put up mirrors to maintain the availability of content. He explained this was quite a normal response to a DDOS attack.

Prof Grothoff produced a large list of mirrors created all over the world as a result. Wikileaks had posted instructions on how to set up a mirror. Mirrors set up using these instructions did not contain a copy of the cache of unredacted cables. But at some point, some mirrors started to contain the file with the unredacted cables. These appeared to be few and special sites with mirrors created in other ways than by the Wikileaks instructions. There was some discussion between Grothoff and Summers as to how the cached file may have been hidden in an archive on the Wikileaks site, for example not listed in the directory, and how a created mirror could sweep it up.

Summers then asked Professor Grothoff whether David Leigh released the password. Grothoff replied that yes, Luke Harding and David Leigh had revealed the encryption key in their book on Wikileaks published February 2011. They had used it as a chapter heading, and the text explicitly set out what it was. The copies of the encrypted file on some mirrors were useless until David Leigh posted that key.

Summers So once David Leigh released the encryption key, was it in Wikileaks’ power to take down the mirrors?
Grothoff No.
Summers Could they change the encryption key on those copies?
Grothoff No.
Summers Was there anything they could do?
Grothoff Nothing but distract and delay.

Grothoff continued to explain that on 25 August 2011 the magazine Der Freitag had published the story explaining what had happened. It did not itself give out the password or location of the cache, but it made plain to people that it could be done, particularly to those who had already identified either the key or a copy of the file. The next link in the chain of events was that nigelparry.com published a blog article which identified the location of a copy of the encrypted file. With the key being in David Leigh’s book, the material was now effectively out. This resulted within hours in the creation of torrents and then publication of the full archive, unencrypted and unredacted, on Cryptome.org.

Summers asked whether Cryptome was a minor website. Grothoff replied not at all, it was a long established platform for leaked or confidential material and was especially used by journalists.

At this stage Judge Baraitser gave Mark Summers a five minute warning on Prof Grothoff’s evidence. He therefore started to speed through events. The next thing that happened, still on 31 August 2011, is that a website MRKVA had made a searchable copy. Torrents also started appearing including on Pirate Bay, a very popular service. On 1 September, according to classified material from the prosecution supplied to Prof Grothoff, the US Government had first accessed the unredacted cache. The document showed this had been via a torrent from Pirate Bay. Wikileaks had made the unredacted cables available on 2 September, after they were already widely available. They had already passed the point where “they could not be stopped”.

Neither Pirate Bay nor Cryptome had been prosecuted for the publication. Cryptome is US based.

Joel Smith then rose to cross-examine for the prosecution. He started by addressing the Professor’s credentials. He suggested that the Professor was expert in computer analysis, but in putting together a chronology of events he was not expert. Prof Grothoff replied that it had required specialist forensic skills to track the precise chain of events.

Joel Smith then suggested that his chronology of events was dependent on material provided by the defence. Prof Grothoff said that indeed the defence had supplied key evidence, but he had searched extensively for other material and evidence online of the course of events and tested the defence evidence.

Smith then asked Grothoff whether he had withheld any information he should have given as a declaration of interest. Grothoff said he had not, and could not think what Smith was talking about. He had conducted his research fairly and taken great care to test the assertions of the defence against the evidence. Smith then read out an open letter from 2017 to President Trump calling for the prosecution of Assange to be dropped. Grothoff said it was possible, but he had no recollection of having signed it or seeing it. The defence had told him about it on Saturday, but he still did not remember it. The content of the letter seemed reasonable to him, and had a friend asked him to sign then he would probably have done so. But he had no memory of it.

Smith noted that Grothoff was listed as an initial signatory not an online added signatory. Grothoff replied that nevertheless he had no recollection of it. Smith then asked him incredulously “and you cannot remember signing a letter to the President of the United States?” Grothoff again confirmed he could not remember.

Quoting the letter, Smith then asked him “Do you think the prosecution is “a step into the darkness”?”. Grothoff replied that he thought it had strong negative ramifications for press freedom worldwide. Lewis then put to Grothoff that he had strong views, and thus was evidently “biased, partial”. Grothoff said he was a computer scientist and had been asked to research and give testimony on matters of fact as to what had occurred. He had tested the facts properly and his personal opinions were irrelevant. Smith continued to ask several more questions about the letter and Grothoff’s partiality. Altogether Smith asked 14 different questions related to the open letter Grothoff had allegedly signed. He then moved on:

Smith Did you download the cables file yourself during your research?
Grothoff Yes, I did.
Smith Did you download it from the Wikileaks site?
Grothoff No, I believe from Cryptome.
Smith So in summer 2010 David Leigh was given a password and the cache was put up on a public website?
Grothoff No, it was put on a website but not public. It was in a hidden directory.
Smith So how did it end up on mirror sites if not public?
Grothoff It depends how the specific mirror is created. On the Wikileaks site the encrypted cache was not an available field. Different mirroring techniques might sweep up archive files.
Smith Wikileaks had asked for the creation of mirrors?
Grothoff Yes.
Smith The strength of a password is irrelevant if you cannot control the people who have it.
Grothoff That is true. The human is always the weakest link in the system. It is difficult to guard against a bad faith actor, like David Leigh.
Smith How many people did Wikileaks give the key in the summer of 2010?
Grothoff It appears from his book only to David Leigh. He then gave it to the hundreds of thousands who had access to his book.
Smith Is it true that 50 media organisations and NGOs were eventually involved in the process of redaction?
Grothoff Yes, but they were not each given access to the entire cache.
Smith How do you know that?
Grothoff It is in David Leigh’s book.
Smith How many people in total had access to the cache from those 50 organisations?
Grothoff Only Mr Leigh was given access to the full set. Only Mr Leigh had the encryption key. Julian Assange had been very reluctant to give him that access.
Smith What is your evidence for that statement?
Grothoff It is in David Leigh’s book.
Smith That is not what it says.

Smith then read out two long separate passages from Luke Harding and David Leigh’s book, both of which indeed made very plain that Assange had given Leigh access to the full cache only with extreme reluctance, and had been cajoled into it, including by David Leigh asking Assange what would happen if he were bundled off to Guantanamo Bay and nobody else but Assange held the password.

Grothoff That is what I said. Harding and Leigh write that it had been a hard struggle to prise the password out of Assange’s hand.
Lewis How do you know that the 250,000 cables were not all available to others?
Grothoff In February 2011 David Leigh published his book. Before that I do not have proof Wikileaks gave the password to nobody else. But if so, they have kept entirely quiet about it.
Smith You say that after the DDOS attack Wikileaks requested people to mirror the site globally. They published instructions on how to do it.
Grothoff Yes, but mirrors created using the Wikileaks instructions did not include the encrypted file. In fact this was helpful. They were trying to build a haystack. The existence of so many mirrors without the unencrypted file made it harder to find.
Smith But in 2010 the password had not been released. Why would Wikileaks want to build a haystack then?
Grothoff The effect was to build a haystack. I agree that was probably not the initial motive. It may have been when this mirror creation continued later.
Smith As of December 2010 what Wikileaks are saying is they wish to proliferate the site as they are under attack?
Grothoff Yes
Joel Smith On 23 August 2011 Wikileaks start a mass release of cables?
Grothoff Yes. This is a release of unclassified cables and also ongoing release of redacted classified cables by media partners.
Smith They were releasing cables by country, and putting out tweets saying which countries they were releasing cables for both then and next? (Smith reads from tweets.)
Grothoff Yes. I have verified that these were unclassified cables by searching through these cables on the classification field.
Smith Were some classified secret?
Grothoff No, they were unclassified. I checked this.
Smith Were some marked “strictly protect”?
Grothoff That is not a classification in the classification field. I did not check for that.
Smith Wikileaks boast that they make the files available in a searchable form.
Grothoff Yes, but their search facility was not very good. Much easier to search them in other ways.
Smith You said Der Freitag stated that the encrypted file was available on mirrors. The article does not say that.
Grothoff No, but it says that it was widely circulating on the internet. That is done by mirroring. They did not use that word, I agree.
Smith The 29 August Der Spiegel article does not publish the password. Then Wikileaks publishes an article claiming these stories are “substantially incorrect”.
Grothoff It points to the password.
Smith Some cables were published classified “Secret”.
Grothoff These were cables that had been redacted fully by the consortium of media experts.
Smith Why do you call them “experts”?
Grothoff They knew the subject matter and the localities.
Smith Why do you call them “experts”?
Grothoff They were experienced journalists who knew what was and was not safe and right to publish. So experts in journalism. You need to distinguish between three types of cable published at this time: 1) classified and redacted; 2) unclassified; 3) the classified and unredacted cache.
Smith Are you aware that some cables were marked “strictly protect”?
Grothoff That is not a designation of a cable. It is applied to individuals. But it does not indicate that they are in danger, merely that for political reasons they do not want to be known as giving evidence to the US government?
Smith How do you know that?
Grothoff It is in the bundle I was sent, and the evidence of other defence witnesses.
Smith You don’t know.
Grothoff I do know the “strictly protect” names you are referring to were in safe countries.
Smith Before 31 August you find no evidence of full publication of the entire cache?
Grothoff Yes.

We then went through an excruciatingly long process of Smith querying the evidence for the timing of every publication prior to Wikileaks own publication, and trying to shift back the latest possible time of publication online of various copies, including Cryptome, MRKVA, Pirate Bay and various other torrents. He managed to establish that, depending which time zone you were in, some of this could be attributed to possibly very early on 1 September rather than 31 August, and that it was not possible to put an exact time within a window of a few hours on Cryptome’s unredacted publication early in the morning on 1 September.

[This exercise could cut both ways. The timing of a tweet saying a copy or torrent is up and giving a link, must be sent out after the material is put up, which could be some time before sending the tweet.]

Grothoff concluded that at the end of the day we do not know to the minute timings for every publication, but what we can say for certain is that all of the publications discussed, including Cryptome, were before Wikileaks.

Smith then noted that Parry wrote in his blog “This is a bad day for David Leigh and the Guardian. I ran the password from David Leigh’s book in an old W/L file…” but did not give the location of the file. This was at 10pm on 31 August. Within 20 minutes Wikileaks was issuing a press release “statement of the betrayal of Wikileaks passwords by the Guardian” and 80 minutes later an editorial. [I think that Smith here was trying to say Wikileaks had published Parry’s breakthrough.] Smith then invited Grothoff to agree that when Wikileaks themselves published the full documents later on 2 September, it was more comprehensible and visible than earlier publications. Grothoff replied it was not more comprehensive, it was the same. It was more visible but by that time the cat was well out of the bag and the unredacted cables were spreading rapidly all over the internet. There was no way to stop them.

Mark Summers then re-examined Grothoff and established that the evidence was that the encryption key for the full cache was given to David Leigh and to nobody else. The storage method was secure – Grothoff pointed out that precisely the same method was used to send around the court bundles in this case. Only David Leigh had revealed the password.

On mirror sites, Grothoff confirmed that the Wikileaks instructions created mirrors without the encrypted cache. All the copies of the encrypted cache he could find on other mirrors, were on sites which plainly were created using other methods, for example other software systems. Summers then got Professor Grothoff to explain the methodology he had used to verify the cables published by Wikileaks before the Leigh crash were all unclassified. Apart from dip sampling, this included a correlation of the number published for each country with the number listed as unclassified for each country in the US government directory. These matched in every case.

Summers then attempted to take Grothoff back over the timeline evidence which Joel Smith had put so much effort into muddying, but was prevented from doing so by Baraitser. She had interrupted Summers four times during his re-examination, on the extraordinary basis that this ground was gone over before; extraordinary because that is the point of a re-examination. Baraitser had permitted Smith to ask fourteen successive questions of Grothoff on the subject of why he had signed an open letter. The double standard was very obvious.

Which brings us to a very crucial point. The next witness, Andy Worthington, was at court and ready to give evidence, but was prevented from doing so. The United States government objected to his evidence, about his work on the Guantanamo Detainee files, being heard because it contained allegations of inmates being tortured at Guantanamo.

Baraitser said her ruling was not going to consider whether torture took place at Guantanamo, or if extraordinary rendition had happened. She did not need to hear evidence on these points. Mark Summers replied that the ECHR had ruled on these as facts, but that it was necessary they be stated by witnesses as appropriate as it went to the Article 10 ECHR defence. Lewis maintained the objection from the US government.

Baraitser said she wanted the prosecution and defence to produce a witness schedule that would get the case finished by the end of next week, including closing statements. She wanted them to agree what evidence could and could not be heard. Where possible she wanted evidence in uncontested statements with the defence just reading out the gist.

She also said that she did not want to hear closing arguments in court, but she would have them in writing and the defence and prosecution could just summarise them briefly orally.

What the defence should have said at this moment is “Madam, the dogs in the street know that people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay. In the real world, it is not a disputed fact. If Mr Lewis’s instructions were to deny that the earth is round, would our witnesses have to accommodate that? The truth of these matters plainly goes to the Article 10 Defence, and by pandering to the denial of a notorious and plain fact, this court will be held up to mockery. We will not discuss such ludicrous censorship with Mr Lewis. If you wish to rule that there must be no mention of torture in evidence, then so be it.”

The defence did not say any of that, but as instructed entered a process with the prosecution lawyers of agreeing the shortening and editing of evidence, a process which took all day and with which Julian showed plain signs of being uncomfortable. Andy Worthington did not get to give his evidence. The only further evidence heard was the reading of the gist of a statement from Cassandra Fairbanks. I did not hear most of this because, having adjourned to 4.30pm, the court re-adjourned earlier than advertised, while Julian’s dad John Shipton, the musician MIA and I were away having a coffee. I commend this account by Kevin Gosztola of Fairbanks’ startling evidence. It was read quickly by Edward Fitzgerald in “gist”, agreed as an uncontested account, and speaks strongly of the political motivation apparent in this prosecution.

I am very concerned about the obvious collusion of the prosecution and the judge to close this case down. The extraordinary conflation of “time management” and excluding evidence which the US Government does not want heard in public is plainly illegitimate. The continual chivvying and interruption of defence counsel in examination when prosecution counsel are allowed endless repetition amounting to harassment and bullying is illegitimate. Some extraordinarily long prosecution cross-examinations, such as that of Carey Shenkman the lawyer, have every appearance of deliberate time wasting and distraction.

Tuesday’s witness is Professor Michael Kopelman, the eminent psychiatrist, and the prosecution have indicated they wish to cross-examine him for an extraordinary four hours, which Baraitser agreed against defence objections. Her obsession with time management is distinctly subjective.

Obviously there is a moral question for me in how much of this medical evidence I publish. The decision will be taken in strict accordance with the views of Julian or, if we cannot ascertain that, his family.

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has once again managed to do what federal bank regulators refuse to do in the United States – come clean with the American people about our dirty Wall Street banks.

ICIJ dropped a bombshell investigative report yesterday about money laundering for criminals at some of the biggest banks on Wall Street, but you won’t find a peep about it on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal or New York Times’ print editions. In fact, the New York Times, as of 6:44 a.m. this morning, hasn’t reported the story at all. The Wall Street Journal carries an innocuous headline, “HSBC Stock Hits 25-Year Low,” putting the focus on the British bank, HSBC, when its focus should be on the largest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase, a serial felon.

JPMorgan Chase has already pleaded guilty to three criminal felony counts brought by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2014. Two of those counts related to money laundering and failure to file suspicious activity reports on the business bank account it held for Bernie Madoff for decades. JPMorgan Chase actually told U.K. regulators that it suspected Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme but it failed to share those concerns with U.S. regulators, even though it was required under law to do so.

The third felony count brought by the U.S. Department of Justice came one year later, in 2015. It related to JPMorgan’s involvement in a bank cartel that was engaged in rigging foreign exchange trading. The bank is currently under a criminal investigation for allowing its precious metals desk to be turned into a racketeering enterprise according to the Justice Department. Multiple JPMorgan precious metals traders have already been charged under the RICO statute, typically reserved for members of organized crime.

The ICIJ investigation is based on secret documents leaked from FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a unit of the U.S. Treasury. The documents “show that five global banks — JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon — kept profiting from powerful and dangerous players even after U.S. authorities fined these financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.”

The report has much to say about JPMorgan Chase:

To read complete report on Wall Street on Parade, click here

 

….

Every American should be horrified by this latest report from the ICIJ; every American should be outraged that the U.S. is now second only to the Cayman Islands for hiding dirty money for criminals; every American should demand that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal give this story the front page coverage it deserves; and every American should look at this upcoming presidential election as the defining moment in whether the United States can be saved or will join a sad, tragic list of failed democracies.

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Our thanks to the authors at Wall Street on Parade

Featured image is from WSOP

Venezuela Denounces New Aggressions from the US

September 23rd, 2020 by Telesur

The Simon Bolivar Great Patriotic Pole (GPPSB) alerted that plans are being made to generate violence in the country, after the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to countries bordering Venezuela.

In a press conference held on Tuesday, the president of the National Constituent Assembly and parliamentary candidate for the GPPSB, Diosdado Cabello, announced that the country’s intelligence agencies had detected plans to attack public services.

Among the objectives of the sabotage would be service stations and institutions, Cabello informed from the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.

“The instructions given by Pompeo to the lackeys close to us are to generate violence in our country, to bring to Venezuela the violence of Colombia,” he detailed.

He called on organized people’s power to be on alert between now and the elections next December.

“In these 75 days, we must redouble our efforts in each of our streets and communities, and immediately inform of any foreigner or person with a foreign accent,” he urged.

Cabello stressed that this call is not to cause terror but to alert.

“We know that when our people are activated, it is with courage, with the dignity that we take care of our homeland. Let us not neglect any detail; let us guarantee the peace of Venezuela between now and 6D”, he reiterated.

The leader highlighted that a Special Presidential Command would be installed and attentive around the clock to give an immediate response if necessary.

“MAXIMUM ALERT! Cabello urged people to be on alert for any outbreak of violence.”

Later on, Diosdado Cabello, who was accompanied by another parliamentary candidate, Jorge Rodríguez, highlighted the widespread participation that has been guaranteed for the elections to renew the National Assembly.

Cabello said that some 14,400 candidates have registered for the elections, of which only 554 are members of the GPPSB. A total of 107 political organizations are participating in the electoral process.

He emphasized that several political orientations have manifested in the country: the democrats, both left and right, who want to go to elections; the citizens he called “unmotivated,” who are not interested in voting; and the sector of the right that attempts to remain on the path of violence.

Regarding the latter, Cabello reasoned that a political force that does not want to go to elections is only because it does not have the votes to do so. In that respect, he assured that they expect those who participate in the process to respect the decisions of the final electoral authority, that is, the National Electoral Council (CNE).

He also insisted on the importance of these elections.

“This 6D we are playing for more than a parliamentary election, but rather to change that structure that destroyed the institutionality of the National Assembly, for a new one at the service of the people,” he expressed.

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Featured image: National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello greets pro-government supporters at a rally organized by President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela. February 12, 2020. | Photo: EFE/Miguel Gutierrez

Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya, Ahmed Maiteeq announced that he had reached a deal on behalf of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Brigadier General Khalifa Haftar. The LNA confirmed that an agreement to resume oil exports from Libya had been brokered with the GNA, who have been in armed conflict with each other.

Maiteeq is a Libyan businessman who was elected Prime Minister in 2014, but that vote was later ruled invalid. He now serves as a Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Council headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Libya has been split between rival administrations based in Tripoli and Tobruk following the chaos which ensued after the US-NATO war on Libya to oust Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The Sarraj government is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and aligned with Qatar and Turkey.  The Muslim Brotherhood is seen as an outlawed terrorist organization in several countries, including Egypt, Russia, and Syria. Hafter is fighting to establish a secular Libya and is against the Islamists’ political ideology of Radical Islam.

Libya lost about $9 billion because of the oil export blockade, which was caused by Libyan tribes that opposed the distribution of oil revenues they saw as uneven.

Previously, all oil revenues went to the Libyan Central Bank and were further distributed among the regions of the country. However, the tribes in the east and south of Libya, where the main oil fields are located, believed that a significant part of the income falls into the hands of the Islamists controlling the GNA in Tripoli, who accused the LNA of blocking oil exports.

Fair distribution of oil revenues is one of the most important issues that was reflected in the decisions of the Berlin Summit and UN Security Council resolution 2510. However, for a long time, it was not possible to solve it.

Ahmed Maiteeq and Khalifa Haftar have now achieved an agreement that meets the demands of the Libyan tribes. A joint commission would be established to control oil production and the distribution of oil revenues between the two sides of the armed conflict. This would open the way for the flow of funds into Libya and the re-establishment of basic services such as electricity, which recently caused protests in both the west and east of the country.

The agreement between Maiteeq and Haftar also opens up the prospect of further negotiating in Libya and ending the war. This is important for the stability of the entire region, given that just a few months ago Egypt was ready to intervene in the Libyan conflict. If the agreement holds, it will become a symbol of a new détente in Libya, which is in the interests of both the country’s citizens, neighboring countries, and the entire international community.

The agreement will be an additional factor that will put a hold on the military situation on the ground because otherwise, it threatens the resumption of armed clashes. In the future, an oil deal could help create conditions for a sustainable inter-Libyan inclusive political dialogue.

The agreement between Maiteeq and Haftar has been a catalyst for change within the GNA. Many figures, most notably Khaled al-Mishri, opposed it. Their positions are significantly weakened against the backdrop of a successful Maiteeq policy, which demonstrated that he could conduct effective negotiations with the opposite side of the conflict. Thus, in the face of the Libyan public and the international community, he has proved to be an effective diplomat on which to bet.

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari, the spokesperson for the LNA, said recently that the “terrorist Muslim Brotherhood” Khaled al-Mishri, is an agent for Qatar in Libya.

Al-Mismari used documents from the Qatari Foreign Ministry to prove that al-Mishri receives a salary of US$250,000 a month from the Qatari intelligence services for his work in Libya. Al-Mismari went on to prove a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ISIS terrorists in Libya.

“I declare my sincere intention to hand over the tasks of power to the coming executive authority in time no later than October,” Sarraj said recently in Tripoli.  His announcement to step-down comes amid talks between the warring parties on ending the Libyan conflict.  Recently, the two sides agreed to hold elections within 18 months and appoint a new government.

The announcement comes amid talks between Libya’s rival factions on ending the country’s conflict. Earlier this month, they had agreed to hold elections within 18 months and appoint a new government.

Chances of Maiteeq to take the post of Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya after the resignation of Sarraj is increasing. At the same time, since Maiteeq’s people are likely to occupy key positions in the joint committee on oil exports, the Libyan politician will get powerful leverage to influence domestic politics.

Maiteeq is a secular politician with a good reputation. He is not a completely powerless figure like Sarraj, or warlords like Fathi Bashagha, or a direct supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood like Khaled al-Mishri.

Fathi Bashagha is of Turkish origin and is the current Minister of Interior of the (GNA) appointed by Sarraj on 7 October 2018.

Bashagha is described as a war-lord controlling the Mahjoub and Halbous brigades in Misrata, being the Muslim Brotherhood’s agent in the GNA, and being tied to the government of Turkey. Some journalists have seen Bashagha playing a role in the GNA as important as the minister Sarraj.

Maiteeq is not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore looks like the best politician to possibly coordinate the peace process on the part of the GNA.

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This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from MD

Today, the prosecutors in the Julian Assange case did their show trial predecessors from other legal traditions proud.  The ghosts of such figures as Soviet state prosecutor Andrey Vyshinsky, would have approved of the line of questioning taken by James Lewis QC: suggest that Assange, accused of 17 counts of violating the US Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime, reads medical literature to exaggerate his condition.

Additionally to the political hook the defence is hanging its case on – political offences being a bar to extradition in the United Kingdom’s 2003 Extradition Act) – a medical one has been fashioned.  Section 91 makes it clear that the judge in the extradition hearing must order the discharge of a person or adjourn the extradition hearing if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”  This can be read alongside the application of the European Convention of Human Rights, which stipulates under Article 3 that, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Dr. Michael Kopelman, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, took the stand at the Old Bailey to delve into Assange’s medical condition.  His visits to Assange had yielded a man deprived of sleep, suffering “loss of weight, a sense of pre-occupation and helplessness as a result of threats to his life, the concealment of a razor blade as a means to self-harm and obsessive ruminations of ways of killing himself.”  Kopelman was, he stated in submissions to the court, “as certain as a psychiatrist ever can be that, in the event of imminent extradition, Mr Assange would indeed find a way to commit suicide.”

The cross-examination by Lewis was in the worst traditions of the law.  Non sequiturs were aplenty; baseless assessments on expertise generously made.  Kopelman was, claimed the prosecutor, an expert in brain disease and its link with mental health, making him ill-suited to comment on Assange’s health.  Kopelman, rather put out at this, reminded Lewis that he had previously called upon his services in a difference case.  It was “a bit rich” for the prosecutor to now be challenging his qualifications.  The prosecution also suggested that Kopelman’s psychiatric credentials were somehow shaded, if not rendered inconsequential, by him being “more of an advocate”.  The defence witness snapped, suggesting he would respond to that assertion with an “unparliamentary word”.

The prosecution focused on Kopelman’s summaries of days in April and May 2019, when Assange was evaluated by psychiatrists.  This gave Lewis a chance to accuse the witness of omissions unsuitable to the defence.  Kopelman had to constantly remind Lewis that he only started to attend such sessions in person at the end of May.

In another feeble sortie, the prosecution suggested that Assange was medically sound because his performance at the extradition trial over the previous days had indicated no signs of depression.  He was attentive to proceedings; he could answer the judge.  To even the most untrained and untutored in the field of mental health, this should be regarded as an amateurish presumption: a competent performance hardly suggests the absence of depression or cognitive disturbance. 

Kopelman duly made that point, referring to the transcripts Lewis had used.  “I cannot evaluate his mental and cognitive state from what’s in here.”  Assange had “made a few comments”; he had “some long-standing semantic knowledge”; he “replied appropriately”.  None of this need suggest that his “cognitive state is normal.”  If anything, they lent credibility to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

In Kopelman’s testimony, Assange is reported to have experienced “auditory hallucinations” featuring “derogatory and persecutory” voices: “you are dust, you are dead, we are coming to get you”.  In assertions that were verging on the preposterous, even by the standards of this prosecution, Lewis attempted to erect an edifice of illusion.  Assange was taking everyone for a joy ride in a fantasy of mental ill-health that had no foundation.  He had been surely “malingering” about his symptoms.  His hallucinations had been “self-reported”.  Kopelman reminded Lewis of an elementary lesson: psychiatry tended to rely on self-reporting. “I don’t believe he’s got delusions.  He’s very worried about whether discussions are recorded.”  Given the “experiences in the embassy, that was a rational anxiety.”

Another sally followed, this time using Assange’s family as crude props for psychobabble.  In the course of the extradition proceedings, it had become clear that Assange had formed a relationship with Stella Morris, having had two children with her during his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.  Two reports prepared by Kopelman included quotes from a visit with Morris.  The failure to mention Morris in his first report peeved Lewis.  Kopelman’s explanation: “This was not in the public domain at that point, and she was very concerned about privacy so we decided not to put it in.”  Once knowledge of her existence became public, “I included it.” 

Lewis would have none of it: the duty to the court overrode any matters of embarrassment to Assange, and sensitivity to Morris’ privacy was of no consequence.  Knowledge to the court of Morris and the children’s existence was vital, suggested Lewis, as it might be a “protective factor against suicide.”  Charmingly, Lewis seemed to ignore the point that having a young family would hardly be a deterrent against self-harm when facing a promise of being locked up for life in solitary confinement in another country notorious for its lugubrious prison conditions.  Death could well prove a desperate consolation.  Kopelman was on to this: married people do not resist the pathway to suicide.

The psychiatric picture of Assange drawn by Kopelman was one of regression and severity, made worse by the likelihood of harm that can arise to those with Asperger’s syndrome.  He had an “intense suicidal preoccupation.”  Findings from autism specialist Dr Simon Baron-Cohen – that suicide is nine times more likely in patients with Asperger’s “than in the general population in England” – were mentioned.  That study also found that people with Asperger’s syndrome “were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation or plans or attempts at suicide if they also had depression.”  Assange, Kopelman reasoned, faced “an abundance of known risk factors”.

In December 2019, conditions proved acute; in February and March, moderately severe.  The lockdown at the Belmarsh prison facility precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic did its share of harm.  Assange had sought confession with a Catholic priest, “who granted him absolution”.  He had drawn up a will, scribbled farewell letters to family and friends.  All signs of a man possibly readying for the other side.

As appalling as his conditions in Belmarsh had been, including a stint in confined isolation, the conditions “he would experience in North America would be far worse than anything experienced in the embassy or Belmarsh.”  The imminence of extradition would “trigger a suicide attempt.”  Assange’s most probable pre-trial accommodation would also encourage this.  It was at the Alexandria Detention Center where Chelsea Manning attempted suicide while being held refusing to relent to a grand jury subpoena to answer questions on WikiLeaks.  According to Kopelman, “It just shows how awful conditions must be.”

Attention turned to the prevalence of depression during Assange’s time in the Ecuadorean embassy, starting around 2015.  This had caught the attention of Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.  Melzer has taken the long view on Assange: that the combined effort of several states – Ecuador, the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden – had created conditions of “psychological torture”, part of a deliberate, progressively cruel effort.  There had been, he claimed in May 2019, “a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and more recently, Ecuador.” 

In company with two medical experts experienced in examining potential victims of torture and ill-treatment,  Melzer’s May 9, 2019 visit to Assange confirmed that his “health has been seriously affected by the extreme hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years.”  Assange, “in addition to physical ailments … showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

In November 2019, Melzer reiterated his concerns in the face of tardiness on the part of the British authorities. “Despite the medical urgency of my [May] appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the UK has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law.”

Melzer’s views did not impress Lewis.  His labours on the Assange case were “palpable nonsense”, lacking in balance and accuracy.  Kopelman was asked to distance himself from such conclusions, despite them not being an “important factor” in his work.  Lewis remains comfortably deaf, not merely to Melzer’s work, but the findings of such eminent groups as Doctors for Assange, an initial collective of 60 medical doctors, growing to 117 spanning 18 countries.  The Assange case, they argued in February in The Lancet, “highlights several concerning aspects that warrant the medical profession’s close attention and concerted action”.  In June, the group noted that, “Isolation and under-stimulation are key psychological torture tactics, capable of inducing severe despair, disorientation, destabilisation, and disintegration of crucial mental functions.”  The psychological torture of a publisher and journalist in a climate already hostile to journalism “sets a precedent of international concern.”

In a crude, somewhat farcical manoeuvre typical of the day’s proceedings, Lewis went just that bit lower in wondering whether Assange’s depression would have made a difference in soliciting or leaking “material from the US government.”  Would such a tormented mind have been able to meet his media commitments (“doing a chat show” for Russia Today), or conduct public speaking engagements?  Such views of depression, that great tormenter and killer, do not merely show this prosecution to be venal; they show it to be profoundly ignorant of history and medicine.

Assange’s defence team have a bright precedent to rely on.  British computer scientist Lauri Love, who was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, was arrested in 2015 in the UK at the request of the United States for allegedly hacking various government entities.  These included the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the US Army.  Initially losing his case to avoid extradition on September 16, 2016, and facing the approval to do so by then Secretary of State Amber Rudd, Love successfully appealed to the High Court.  It was accepted that the US was an inappropriate forum to try Love; and that prison conditions awaiting him “would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” 

The High Court also accepted that “the fact of extradition would bring on severe depression, and that Mr Love would probably be determined to commit suicide, here or in America.”  Being put on suicide watch would hardly have been adequate – it did not constitute a “form of treatment; there was no evidence that treatment would or could be made available on suicide watch for the very conditions which suicide watch itself exacerbates.” 

This was strikingly appropriate and relevant.  Kopelman, who also testified in Love’s case, had also been given reassurances at the time that the US prison system was up to scratch in guarding against suicide.  Since then, the US prison system had been marked by the prominent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein and the attempted suicide by Manning.  “Those reassurances were not very reassuring.”

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

The European Union has announced a new immigration and asylum policy based on the so-called solidarity of its members. However, this initiative will once again not receive unanimous support from all 27 member states. Since Germany instigated the migrant crisis five years ago, the EU is still figuring out how to clean up this catastrophic mess that has further crippled frontline Mediterranean EU member states. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors of her country to millions of illegal immigrants coming from not only the Middle East, but also from Africa, economically straining and pushing the resources of frontline states like Greece and Spain beyond their limits. This was despite them already struggling with a severe economic calamity since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Germany, whose employers were delighted to see the arrival of cheap labour, closed its borders when it decided it had received enough migrants and gave no warning to other EU members. Merkel then quickly agreed to gift Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan €6 billion to close Turkey’s borders with Greece to significantly reduce the entry of illegal immigrants into the EU.

The subsequent distribution of immigrants became a major issue, especially as the Visegrad Group – Hungary, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia – refused to take any of the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants stuck in Greece and other Mediterranean EU countries. Other countries just wanted to receive a handful of the migrants stuck in Mediterranean Europe.

Today, German politician Ursula Von der Leyen from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is the president of the European Commission. She intends to present a new mechanism. In EU technocratic jargon she described the mechanism as “a new governance of migration.” Currently, illegal immigrants who arrive on European territory are obliged to register in the first country they arrive in.  Naturally, the countries most affected by this doctrine have been Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain, but also Portugal and Cyprus to a lesser extent. As an example, an illegal immigrant who entered France through Spain must return to Spain to seek asylum as they cannot do it from France.

Von der Leyen says this doctrine will be replaced by “a strong solidarity mechanism,” but is refusing to specify further details until the official presentation of the plan later this week. However, Mediterranean Europe is naturally suspicious there will be no meaningful changes after Germany left these countries to deal with a crisis it created to get a rapid influx of cheap labour. The Turkish-German pact has been manipulated at will by Ankara as it knows that it can exert pressure on the EU by unleashing a migrant crisis, just as it attempted to do again in March of this year when Turkey told tens of thousands of illegal immigrants that the gates to Greece were now open. However, Turkey can also pressure Germany as millions of Turks now live and vote in the European country after initially arriving in the 1950’s and 1960’s to be temporary cheap labour in German industries. What was initially meant to be temporary workers in German industries turned into a thriving community now numbering millions of individuals today, many of whom act as a fifth column to serve Erdoğan’s interests in Germany.

The situation on the once peaceful Greek island of Lesvos, where the local people have suffered from a massive spike in vandalism, theft, rape and murder since the migrant crisis began in 2015, is becoming untenable. This is especially apparent since the Moria camp, the main migrant camp on Lesvos, was destroyed in a fire started by Afghan asylum seekers earlier this month. This is what sparked the EU’s latest initiative to deal with the migrant crisis.

In these circumstances, no matter how much pressure is exerted on Central European countries, they will not submit to EU demands that they must accept some the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants based mostly in Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta. Media in Central European countries suggest that they welcome people from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Armenia because of shared cultural and moral affinities, but not from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo and Somalia, where most of the illegal immigrants are from.

In fact, earlier this year, former Polish Prime Minister and current Member of the European Parliament, Beata Szydło, said that the members of the Visegrad Group will not endure blackmail on migration issues from the EU. The Visegrad Group believe that mass migration from outside of their cultural sphere will lead to the ghettoisation of many of their towns and cities, just like what happened in many areas of France, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. As the Visagrad Group will likely not adhere to the suggestions that will be made by Von der Leyen later this week, Mediterranean Europe will once again face an inefficient EU that will do little to alleviate the pressures of the migrant crisis launched by Germany’s continuous endeavour to find cheap labour.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

Today was one of reiteration and expansion.  Computer scientist Christian Grothoff of the Bern University of Applied Sciences supplied the relevant chronology on what led to the publication of unredacted US State Department cables, the subject of such concern for the prosecution.  This proved a mild taster of what was to come: the alleged deal brokered by Richard Grenell, when US ambassador to Germany, with the Ecuadorean government for the arrest and eviction of Julian Assange from the London embassy in April 2019.

Grothoff, publication and chronology

With three of the 18 counts against Assange trained on the issue of publishing unredacted cables, Grothoff’s testimony served to recapitulate the importance of timing.  By the time the organisation had published the archive, others had done so.  The horse, having bolted, would not be returning.  While WikiLeaks had taken steps to encrypt the relevant file with the documents, things went awry with its sharing with David Leigh of The Guardian in the summer of 2010.  Uploaded to a temporary website, it had a strong, decrypting passphrase.  Assange had committed only part of that passphrase to paper.

November 2010 arrived.  WikiLeaks and its media partners began releasing redacted cables. 

“The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next year,” promised WikiLeaks.  “The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do so otherwise would not do this material justice.” 

The organisation’s website then became the target of Distributed Denial of Server attacks.  Assange put the word out to supporters: replicate site data on various servers; create mirror sites.  In February 2011, Leigh and fellow Guardian colleague Luke Harding published their account working with Assange and WikiLeaks.  It was a hurried, and, it transpired, sloppy effort.  The full, decrypting passphrase had found its way into one chapter title.  Der Freitag caught the scent in August, supplying a few breadcrumbs to the enterprising, not least the sense that the password to the file was rather easy to locate.  Der Spiegel, one of the media partners, gave confirmation of the account.  Nigel Parry, self-described as “the first person out of the loop and in the wild to have unzipped the unreduced Cablegate cables,” merely sealed the matter.

Assange and Sarah Harrison, also of WikiLeaks, scrambled.  The US State Department was warned that the unredacted files were ready to course their way through cyberspace.  The US-based leaking outfit Cryptome gave the push along, publishing the archive.  By September 2, 2011, the deed for WikiLeaks was done: the archive was released on its site.  As Grothoff told the court, “[The password] was actually available on the internet in a way that would be virtually impossible to stop.” 

In writing about the train of events, political commentator and former civil rights litigator Glenn Greenwald thought the security measures taken by WikiLeaks poor and insufficient.  But “one point should be made absolutely clear: there was nothing intentional about WikiLeaks’ publication of the cables in unredacted form.  They ultimately had no choice.”  Releasing the cables in full was the reasonable, “safest course” of action, “so that not only the world’s intelligence agencies but everyone had them, so that steps could be taken to protect the sources and so that the information in them was equally available.”

Under questioning from the prosecution, Grothoff batted away suggestions that the publishing organisation had shared the entire archive with all 50 media partners involved with Cablegate.  “On the very specific technical point where you say WikiLeaks published those cables you are wrong, and you didn’t properly do your homework to find who first published those cables.”  WikiLeaks could not be considered the “primary publisher of the unredacted cables”.

Grothoff also faced questions about his partiality from Joel Smith QC.  Had he not appended his name to a 2017 letter to US President Donald Trump urging him not to charge Assange or other members of WikiLeaks?  “You are biased, you are partial?”  The professor could not recall adding his name, but saw Assange as a “sympathetic character” in exposing “war crimes”.  “No, I believe that looking at the indictment put forward, you’re confusing actions WikiLeaks took to hide and obscure the documents with them publishing it.” 

Fairbanks, deals and evictions

Assange’s defence team then readied the dynamite: a statement from activist and Trump supporter Cassandra Fairbanks, dated June 7, 2020, describing communications with Republican donor Arthur Schwartz.  Schwartz, with close links to Trump, was charged with running Grenell’s communications.  Fairbanks shared membership with a direct message group on Twitter comprising “multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him in other ways.”  Both Grenell and Schwartz were also members.

On October 30, 2018, Fairbanks shared an interview with Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, on the forum “hoping that someone would see it and be moved to help”.  The plea did not go down well with Schwartz, who called Fairbanks to berate her for such strident advocacy.  Stop it, he insisted, as “a pardon isn’t going to fucking happen.” What instead followed were details about what was in store for Assange: charges were imminent over his connection with Chelsea Manning, not other publications (the Democratic National Committee correspondence; the Central Intelligence Agency’s Vault 7 publication). “He also told me they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas.  Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

Fairbanks also disclosed the intention to finally deal with the issue of Assange’s political asylum.  Schwartz “also told me that the US government would be going into the Embassy to get Assange.”  This troubled her.  “I responded that entering the embassy of a sovereign nation and kidnapping a political refugee would be an act of war, and he responded: ‘not if they let us.’”  Unbeknownst to Fairbanks at the time, Grenell had, in October 2018 “worked out a deal for Assange’s arrest with the Ecuadorean government.”

The exchange upset Fairbanks.  The waterworks commenced.  Schwartz softened on the phone on hearing Fairbanks sobbing, though was hardly reassuring about what awaited the WikiLeaks publisher: Assange would “probably” only serve the rest of life in prison.

From that point on, the worm began to turn.  A visit to Assange on January 7, 2019 followed.  Fairbanks was keen to impress upon him what she knew.  Assange was concerned about surveillance.  “I know he was concerned about being overheard or spied upon and he had a little radio to cover up the conversation.”  Both she and Assange took “steps to communicate with each other to try to not be within the sight or hearing of surveillance cameras or microphones, by turning up a background of white noise and writing notes.”  Fairbanks had also paid a visit to Manning, speaking of fears “that they might come after her again.”

Within two months, embassy hospitality had chilled.  Fairbanks recalls being shocked at the treatment afforded her and Assange on that visit.  It was an encounter she wrote about, noting a progressively worsening atmosphere.  She was made to spend an hour in a cold meeting room; Assange was given harsh preliminary treatment, “subjected to a full body scan with metal detector before” being allowed into the room.  Her statement continues: “I described it at the time as ‘eerily similar to visits I have made to inmates at federal penitentiaries in the US.’ I considered at the time ‘it seemed our government was getting what they wanted from Ecuador, as a former State Department official told Buzzfeed in January.  ‘As far as we’re concerned, he’s in jail.’  I noted ‘in an interview with El Pais in July, President Moreno said his ‘ideal solution’ is that Assange may ‘enjoy’ being ‘extradited’ if the UK promises that the US will not kill him.” 

The act of bringing a radio into the meeting room to frustrate audio surveillance was a cause of consternation.  “Only eight minutes of our two hour scheduled visit were in the end available because of the conflict with security staff at the Embassy.  We were told if we wanted to talk it must be done in the conference room and only two minutes were left.” 

Fairbanks recalls the row in her March 2019 piece: how Assange had told embassy staff how “undignified” it was to be subjected to the body scan; why the staff were “afraid” of his meeting with Fairbanks.  “Is this a prison?” he inquired.  “It’s not,” came the reply. “You know it’s not.”

On March 29, 2019, Fairbanks contacted Schwartz, pressing him on what he knew about rumours of an imminent eviction from the embassy.  Schwartz called to say that he knew that Fairbanks had been less than cautious in revealing what he had told her.  He could no longer treat her as a reliable recipient.  The explanation was clear.  For Schwartz to have known, the conversations in the embassy had to have been recorded and relayed.  “It was obvious,” claimed Fairbanks, “that the US had been involved, including the State Department, and that Schwartz had been made a party to this information.”

The die was cast.  On April 11, 2019, Assange was evicted.  On April 15, ABC News ran a piece noting how the wheels for this action had begun in March 2018, “when the Ecuadoreans made their first request to the UK: a letter asking for written assurances that the UK would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death penalty”.  Six months followed.  The US was then approached via the offices of Ecuador’s ambassador to Germany, Manuel Mejía Dalmau, who sought “a private ‘emergency meeting’ in Berlin with the US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, viewed as one of President Donald Trump’s closest envoys in Europe”.  During the course of one meeting, Dalmau, according to an unnamed “senior US official”, “asked whether the US would commit to not putting Assange to death”.  Grenell ran the query to the US Justice Department.  “According to the senior US official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein consented.”  A verbal pledge followed.

Fairbanks duly tweeted the ABC story.  Ambassador Grenell was exercised.  Fairbanks’ boss was messaged: delete the tweet.  Fairbanks refused, though eventually relenting.  Grenell also had another suggestion: sack Fairbanks.  In this miasma of panic, Schwartz rang.  “This time he was frantic,” Fairbanks recalled.  “He was ranting and raving that he could go to jail and that I was tweeting classified information.”  She was informed “that in coordinating for Assange to be removed from the Embassy, Ambassador Grenell had done so on direct ‘orders from the president.’  I believed this connected President Trump to those who have been reported as having secured the deal to arrest Assange.”  She believed the veracity of Schwartz’s comment, given his known close ties to Trump and Grenell.

Schwartz had also suffered an attack of blood lust.  Several messages to Fairbanks in the aftermath of the ABC news report focused on “how everyone involved with WikiLeaks deserved the death penalty.”  This was troubling to Fairbanks, as only an oral, not written agreement, had been secured protecting Assange from any death penalty.  “Schwartz’s response to this was to send me a shrug emoji and he continued his tirade about how Assange deserved to die.”

Fairbanks also imputed to Schwartz an extensive network of influence, being a regular visitor to the White House, a “fixer” for Donald Trump, Jr., a radiantly significant figure in the Trump cosmos including “Richard Grenell, Sheldon Adelson and others.” Mention of Adelson is telling: his Las Vegas Sands company, the world’s largest casino operator, is alleged to have provided cover with the security consulting firm UC Global for surveillance operations against Assange during his embassy stay.  These were sanctioned by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The UC Global CEO, David Morales, was subsequently charged by a Spanish High Court in October 2019 for violating Assange’s privacy, breaching lawyer-client privilege, money laundering and bribery.  The UC Global files, as Max Blumenthal has noted in The Grayzone, “detail an elaborate and apparently illegal US surveillance operation in which the security firm spied on Assange, his legal team, his American friends, US journalists, and an American member of Congress who had been allegedly dispatched to the Ecuadorean embassy by President Donald Trump.  Even the Ecuadorean diplomats whom UC Global was hired to protect were targeted in the spy ring.”

Joel Smith QC, representing the prosecution, would not stomach the claims being made by Fairbanks: “the truth of what Ms Fairbanks was told by Arthur Schwartz was not in her knowledge.”  Tactics deployed previously would be done again: Fairbanks was considered a biased witness for acknowledging her support for WikiLeaks.  For the defence, Edward Fitzgerald QC put it plainly: “We say what Schwartz told [Fairbanks] is a good indication of the government at the highest level.”

The approach of the defence will have to remain one of patient, constant reminder to the court: that the case against Assange is rancid with politics, trailing its way into the backlines of the Trump administration.

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

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Recognizing the contentious nature of the subject, this two-part article relies only on official treatises, pacts and primary sourced evidence to compile a historically accurate account of the founding of Saudi Arabia and Al Saud family becoming ‘Royals’.

Growing up Muslim in a Muslim majority country, I spent most Friday afternoons at a mosque, attending the Jummah prayer. First part of a Jummah prayer calls for the Imam to perform a Khutbah – a weekly sermon of sorts. It was in one of those Khutbahs that I, as a very young boy, learnt about the plight of the Palestinians for the first time.

Indeed, it’s a common practice among Imams around the world to bring up the Palestinian issue at mosques, especially during Friday sermons, and pray for the Palestinian people. In those prayers and discussions, Israel’s name comes up inevitably. In fact, Israel’s oppression of Palestinians bears no ambiguity in Islamic thoughts. And condemnation of Israel, therefore, comes naturally to Muslims around the world.

However, what escapes awareness in almost all Muslims is the connection between Israel and Saudi Arabia. While zealously castigating Israel for its atrocities, Muslims often revere Saudi Arabia as the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites; completely ignoring the Kingdom’s role in founding the Zionist state in the first place.

Notwithstanding the existence of a deep-seated bias against Israel among Muslims, it’s important to recognize that the lack of criticism for Saudi Kingdom, alongside Israel, doesn’t come from bias. Indeed, this absence finds its roots not in bias, but in a complete lack of knowledge. Knowledge among current generation of Muslims, as well as among the world population, about how Saudi Arabia and its founding king, Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud, played a critical role in establishing the Zionist state of Israel.

Suffice it to say, this ignorance about one of the most critical periods in world history seems anything but normal. Amazingly, the world, especially the Muslim world, had been kept in darkness about this momentous chapter in Middle East history. Propaganda and omissions run rampant within the historical accounts of this period. Official Saudi sources like House of Saud website, for example, avoids any mention of British involvement in founding the KSA. Although this omission seems predictable to many, it’s worth noting that even mainstream media outlets like the BBC, and prominent historians such as Professor Eugene Rogan etc., routinely portray Ibn Saud as having acted independently during WWI, and not as an instrument for the British Empire.

Therefore, recognizing the contentious nature of the issue – and to avoid becoming yet another ‘perspective’ on the subject – this article relies only on primary sourced evidence and the following four official treatises and declarations to compile a historically accurate account of the events:

  1. The McMahon-Hussain Correspondence
  2. The Treaty of Darin
  3. The Sykes-Picot Agreement
  4. The Balfour Declaration

1. The McMahon-Hussain Correspondence

To properly understand the events that led to the creation of both Israel and Saudi Arabia, we must travel back to the early 1900s’ Middle East. At the outbreak of WWI in the region, Sir Henry McMahon, then British High Commissioner in Egypt, offered Hussain bin Ali, Sharif of Hijaz (or ruler of the Hijaz – the western Arabian region in which Mecca and Medina lie), an independent Arab state if he would help the British fight against the Ottoman Empire. Hussein’s interest in throwing off his Turkish overlords converged with Britain’s war aim of defeating the Ottomans. McMahon made this offer via a series of letters exchanged between him and Sharif Hussain, collectively known as the McMahon-Hussain Correspondence. On his 14 July 1915 letter to McMahon, Hussain stated, among other things, the following as one of his propositions:

“Firstly.- England will acknowledge the independence of the Arab countries, bounded on the north by Mersina and Adana up to the 37th degree of latitude, on which degree fall Birijik, Urfa, Mardin, Midiat, Jezirat (Ibn ‘Umar), Amadia, up to the border of Persia; on the east by the borders of Persia up to the Gulf of Basra; on the south by the Indian Ocean, with the exception of the position of Aden to remain as it is; on the west by the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. England to approve the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam.”

In response, McMahon wrote on 24 October 1915:

“I regret that you should have received from my last letter the impression that I regarded the question of the limits and boundaries with coldness and hesitation; such was not the case, but it appeared to me that the time had not yet come when that question could be discussed in a conclusive manner.

“I have realized, however, from your last letter that you regard this question as one of vital and urgent importance. I have, therefore, lost no time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on their behalf the following statement, which I am confident you will receive with satisfaction:-

“The two districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the limits demanded.

“With the above modification, and without prejudice of our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits.”

Interestingly, throughout history, there has been much disagreement as to whether this promise included Palestine. However, as we can see above, the area promised to the Arabs in McMahon’s letter excluded only the territory to the west of a line from Damascus north to Aleppo. Palestine, far to the south, was, by implication, included. Nevertheless, the British subsequently denied that they included Palestine in the promise and refused to publish the correspondence until 1939.

At the time however, Sharif Hussain believed this official promise from the British Government. He went on to make the most significant contribution to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat. He switched allegiances and led the so-called ‘Arab Revolt’ in June of 1916, which removed the Turkish presence from Arabia.

The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the British in WWI left three distinct authorities in the Arabian peninsula. Sharif of Hijaz Hussain bin Ali of Mecca (in the west); Ibn Rashid of Ha’il (in the north); and Emir Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud of Najd and his religiously fanatical followers, the Wahhabis (in the east).

2. The Treaty of Darin

On 26 December 1915, Sir Percy Cox, on behalf of the British Government, signed the Treaty of Darin with Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud. Also known as the Darn Pact, the treaty made the lands of the House of Saud a British protectorate. The British aim of the treaty was to guarantee the sovereignty of Kuwait, Qatar and the Trucial States (later UAE). Abdul-Aziz vowed not to attack these British protectorates. He also pledged to enter WWI in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire as an ally of Britain.

Britain’s signing of Darin Pact in December went against their promises of mutual protection made to Sharif Hussain in October; because Britain’s treaty with Ibn Saud does not oblige him to not attack the Hijaz.

The treaty also saw Abdel Aziz receiving £5000 per month ‘tribute’ from the British Government. After World War I, he received further support from the British. Support included substantially more monetary rewards and a glut of surplus munitions.

3. The Sykes-Picot Agreement 

On May 19, 1916, representatives of Great Britain and France secretly reached an accord, known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The accord aimed at dividing most of Arab lands under the Ottoman rule between the British and the French at the end of WWI. In its designated sphere, it was agreed, each country shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit.

Two diplomats, a Briton and a Frenchman, divided the map of one of the most volatile regions in the world into states that cut through ethnic and religious communities. The secret agreement largely neglected to allow for the future growth of Arab nationalism; which at that same moment the British government was using to their advantage against the Turks.

A century on, the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty. Many Arabs across the region continue to blame the subsequent violence in the Middle East, from the occupation of Palestine to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the Sykes-Picot treaty.

Indeed, Britain’s signing of this treaty went directly against what it promised to the Sharif of Hijaz in October of previous year. As we will see in Part II of this article, Britain’s betrayal of their promises of an independent Arab state eventually led them to unleash their attack dog, Ibn Saud, on Sharif Hussain and topple him. This allowed the British to effectuate the Sykes-Picot accord, and subsequently establish the Zionist state of Israel.

Read Part II

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Author Rez Karim is an Electrical Engineer and Chief Editor at VitalColumns.com.

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Newly released US government documents allege [1] the Islamic State’s new leader Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla identified dozens of fellow militants as well as the structure of al-Qaeda in Iraq, after he was arrested in 2008 and detained at Camp Bucca. 

Three Tactical Interrogation Reports (TIR) released by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) allege that al-Mawla, who at the time was an al-Qaeda judge, gave the US occupation forces in Iraq the names of 68 al-Qaeda fighters that led to the deaths of several al-Qaeda members after the US military conducted raids to hunt them down.

One of the persons named by al-Mawla was Abu Jasim Abu Qaswarah, thought to be the second-in-command of al-Qaeda in Iraq at the time. He was killed by US forces eight months after Mawla identified him as a member of the group.

According to the documents, al-Mawla was arrested in 2008 by the US forces and interrogated at Camp Bucca, a facility in Umm Qasr, southern Iraq, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also incarcerated. Several officials have since referred to it as a “Jihadi university” because of the training provided there.

The CTC said that al-Mawla was released in 2009 and only came to prominence earlier this year when he became the leader of the Islamic State following the death of al-Baghdadi in October.

The US put a $5m bounty last year on the head al-Mawla, also known as Abdullah Qardash or Hajj Abdullah, and he is thought to be in hiding in Syria. Though the mainstream media reports claim he is hiding in eastern Syria, he might as well be hiding in northwest Idlib province like his predecessor.

It’s important to note in the news coverage of the killing of al-Baghdadi that although the mainstream media had been trumpeting for the last several years that the Islamic State’s fugitive chief had been hiding somewhere on the Iraq-Syria border in the east, he was found hiding in northwest Idlib province, under the control of Turkey’s militant proxies and al-Nusra Front, and was killed while trying to flee to Turkey in Barisha village five kilometers from the border.

The reason why the mainstream media scrupulously avoided mentioning Idlib as al-Baghdadi’s most likely hideout in Syria was to cover up the collusion between the militant proxies of Turkey and the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

In fact, the corporate media takes the issue of Islamic jihadists “commingling” with Turkey-backed “moderate rebels” in Idlib so seriously – which could give the Syrian government the pretext to mount an offensive in northwest Syria – that the New York Times cooked up an exclusive report [2] on October 30, a couple of days after the Special Ops night raid, that the Islamic State paid money to al-Nusra Front for hosting al-Baghdadi in Idlib.

The morning after the night raid, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported [3] on October 27 that a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by warplanes belonging to the international coalition had attacked positions of Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, in Idlib province where the Islamic State chief was believed to be hiding.

Despite detailing the operational minutiae of the Special Ops raid, the mainstream news coverage of the raid deliberately elided over the crucial piece of information that the compound in Barisha village five kilometers from Turkish border where al-Baghdadi was killed belonged to Hurras al-Din, an elusive terrorist outfit which had previously been targeted several times in the US airstrikes.

Although Hurras al-Din is generally assumed to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is in fact the regrouping of the Islamic State jihadists under a different name in northwestern Idlib governorate after the latter terrorist organization was routed from Mosul and Anbar in Iraq and Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in Syria in 2017 and was hard pressed by the US-led coalition’s airstrikes in eastern Syria.

Here let me try to dispel a myth peddled by the corporate media and foreign policy think tanks that the Islamic State originated from al-Qaeda in Iraq. Many biased political commentators of the mainstream media deliberately try to muddle the reality in order to link the emergence of the Islamic State to the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the Republican Bush administration.

Their motive behind this chicanery is to absolve the Obama administration’s policy of nurturing militants against the Syrian government since the beginning of Syria’s proxy war in 2011 until June 2014, when the Islamic State overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq and the Obama administration made a volte-face on its previous “regime change” policy of providing indiscriminate support to Syrian militants and declared a war against a faction of Syrian rebel groups, the Islamic State.

After linking the creation of the Islamic State to the Iraq invasion in 2003, interventionist hawks deviously draw the risible conclusion that the Obama administration’s premature evacuation of American troops from Iraq in December 2011 gave birth to the Islamic State.

Moreover, such duplicitous spin-doctors misleadingly try to find the roots of the Islamic State in al-Qaeda in Iraq; however, the Anbar insurgency in Iraq was fully subdued after “The Iraq Surge” in 2007. Al-Qaeda in Iraq became a defunct organization after the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June 2006 and the subsequent surge of troops in Iraq.

The re-eruption of insurgency in Iraq was the spillover effect of nurturing militants in Syria since 2011-onward, when the Islamic State overran Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in January 2014 and subsequently reached the zenith of its power after capturing Mosul in June 2014.

The borders between Syria and Iraq are highly porous and it’s impossible to contain the flow of militants and arms between the two countries. The Obama administration’s policy of providing funds, weapons and training to Syrian militants in training camps located at the border regions of Turkey and Jordan bordering Syria was bound to backfire sooner or later.

Thus, it would be misleading to fall for the sophistry of finding the roots of the Islamic State in al-Qaeda in Iraq. Although the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq might have joined the ranks of Syria-bound militants in Iraq in 2011, the principal cause of the creation of the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and myriads of other militant outfits in Syria and Iraq was the “regime change” policy pursued by the Obama administration from 2011 to 2016 to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

During the course of Syria’s proxy war, billions of dollars [4] worth weapons and ammunition, including American-made antitank missiles, were provided to militants in training camps located in border regions of Turkey and Jordan, and possibly in Iraq too, by the Western powers, Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf States.

It also bears mentioning that for the first year of Syria’s proxy war, American troops were still deployed next door in Iraq, as the war in Syria began in early 2011 whereas the US forces evacuated from Iraq in December 2011.

Notwithstanding, according to “official version” [5] of Washington’s story regarding the killing of al-Baghdadi, the choppers took off from an American airbase in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, flew hundreds of miles over the enemy territory in the airspace controlled by the Syrian and Russian air forces, killed the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State in a Hollywood-style special-ops raid, and took the same route back to Erbil along with the dead body of the terrorist and his belongings.

Although Washington has conducted several airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib in the past, those were carried out by fixed-wing aircraft that fly at high altitudes, and the aircraft took off from American airbases in Turkey, which is just across the border from Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Why would Washington risk flying troops at low altitudes in helicopters over hostile territory controlled by myriads of Syria’s heavily armed militant outfits?

In fact, several Turkish journalists, including Rajip Soylu, the Turkey correspondent for the Middle East Eye, tweeted [6] on the night of the special-ops raid that the choppers took off from the American airbase in Turkey’s Incirlik.

As for al-Baghdadi, who was “hiding” with the blessing of Turkey, it is now obvious that he was the bargaining chip in the negotiations between Trump and Erdogan, and the quid for the US president agreeing to pull American troops out of northeast Syria was the pro quo that Erdogan would hand al-Baghdadi to him on a platter.

The Trump administration promised to comply with Turkish President Erdogan’s longstanding demand to evacuate American forces from the Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria in October last year.

Immediately following the announcement of withdrawal of US forces from northeast Syria by the Trump administration on October 6, Turkey mounted Operation Peace Spring on October 9 in which the Turkish armed forces and their Syrian proxies invaded and occupied 120 kilometers wide and 32 kilometers deep stretch of Syrian territory between the northeastern towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.

In return, Trump got his very own Osama bin Laden as Turkey let US Special Forces kill fugitive leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26, weeks after the Turkish Operation Peace Spring in northeast Syria on October 9.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] Islamic State’s ‘canary caliph’ gave intelligence to US in 2008:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/islamic-state-leader-intelligence-us-government

[2] ISIS Leader Paid Rival for Protection but Was Betrayed by His Own:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/world/middleeast/isis-leader-al-baghdadi.html

[3] Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in US raid:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-targeted-us-raid-officials

[4] U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/world/middleeast/us-relies-heavily-on-saudi-money-to-support-syrian-rebels.html

 
[5] Official story of the night raid killing al-Baghdadi:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/us/politics/baghdadi-isis-leader-trump.html

[6] Trump Confirms ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Killed In US Raid:

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/trump-make-statement-after-isis-chief-al-baghdadi-killed-turkish-border-while-fleeing

The previously unthinkable scenario of the US and Russia returning to nuclear brinkmanship with one another is once again on the cards after America’s START ultimatum to the Eurasian Great Power.

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What Could Be Worse Than The Cuban Missile Crisis?

The Cuban Missile Crisis is universally considered to have been the most dangerous moment in the history of mankind after it prompted the US and Russia to engage in nuclear brinkmanship with one another. The end of the Old Cold War was thought by many to have made the return to such a dark scenario an utter impossibility, but the previously thinkable might be about to repeat itself very soon following the US’ START ultimatum to Russia earlier this week. That acronym refers to the latest Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which limited the number of nuclear warheads on each side and restricted some of their delivery systems. It was agreed to by Presidents Obama and Medvedev but expires early next year. Failing to renew the agreement would unquestionably spark an uncontrollable nuclear and other arms race between these Great Powers and therefore greatly destabilize the world. Unfortunately, this might be inevitable.

The American Ultimatum To Russia

US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea told the Russian daily Kommersant on Sunday that the New START might be extended for less than five years through a memorandum of intent but only on the condition that China joins the deal and NATO doesn’t scale back any of its nuclear weapons from Europe during this period like Moscow requested. Russia obviously can’t compel China to do anything so the US is clearly trying to drive a wedge between the two by pressuring Moscow to lean on Beijing in this manner, which would further complicate their relations if it was even attempted. Secondly, the NATO buildup in Europe is alarming to Russia since it poses a direct threat to its national security interests. Agreeing to formalize the recent status quo which violates the Russia-NATO Founding Act and is greatly shaped by the US’ recent withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty would set a disturbing precedent too.

Russia’s Hypersonic Missiles To The Rescue

For all intents and purposes, the US isn’t negotiating in good faith but decided to present Russia with an ultimatum that it knew it would refuse, and not only that, but is powerless to comply with even if it wanted to considering its inability to force China to join the New START. It’s for this reason that Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told Sputnik on Monday that his country “will find efficient ways to protect ourselves” if the New START isn’t extended. He was likely referring to Russia’s hypersonic missile achievements of the past few years that President Putin compared to the scale of the USSR’s nuclear project just last week according to TASS. The outlet also reported him as saying that

“We had to create these weapons in response to the US deploying strategic missile defense system, which in the future would be able to actually neutralize, nullify our entire nuclear potential.”

Who Stole Whose Hypersonic Missile Secrets?

Around the same time as the Russian leader’s statement, Trump accused his country of stealing hypersonic missile technology from the US during the Obama era, though one of the scientists involved in this project refuted him by pointing out that such experiments “began in the Soviet times, when Obama was still a teenager.” It should also be pointed out that a Russian scientist was arrested in summer 2018 on suspicion of passing off related secrets to what many believe was the American intelligence services. Seeing as how President Putin publicly unveiled this technology earlier that spring, the sequence of events suggests that the US truly is behind Russia in this respect and is struggling to catch up, ergo the spy games. Had Russian really stolen this technology like Trump claimed, then the US wouldn’t need to steal it back from Russia in order to win the hypersonic missile race since it would have presumably still been in possession of these same secrets.

The Poor Sport Wants To Spoil Strategic Stability Because It Lost

The US simply cannot accept that Russia –which the American government and its surrogates routinely allege is backwards, dysfunctional, and on the brink of bankruptcy — beat it in developing hypersonic missiles, which it did in order to protect its nuclear potential after Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and set the trajectory for the contemporary era of nuclear competition between Great Powers. Russia had to ensure that its second-strike capability wasn’t neutralized by the US’ global missile defense plans, hence its interest in accelerating development of hypersonic missiles for piercing through those systems. In other words, Russia foiled the US’ multibillion-dollar plans to impose its nuclear hegemony upon the world, which explains the furious response of the American government to President Putin’s spring 2018 announcement. Instead of accepting the return of strategic parity, however, the US wants to provoke a nuclear arms race with Russia.

Concluding Thoughts

There is nothing more dangerous for global stability than an all-out nuclear arms race between the US and Russia, which will in turn naturally push all the other nuclear-armed states to increase their own arsenals due to the “security dilemma” that this provokes. The US is behaving very irresponsibly in imposing an ultimatum on Russia in exchange for agreeing to the limited extension of the New START. Whether he realizes it or not, Trump is putting the world back on the path of repeating the Cuban Missile Crisis in the worst-case scenario since it might only be a matter of time before the nuclear competition between the US and Russia spirals out of control once again. The whole reason why the New START and its predecessor pacts were inked was to make that an impossibility, but it’s now once again on the forefront of decision makers’ minds. Unless Trump or perhaps even Biden has a change of heart (neither of which is likely), then the world will be in for very rough times.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”—Justice William O. Douglas

The U.S. Supreme Court will not save us.

It doesn’t matter which party gets to pick the replacement to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle that is gearing up right now is yet more distraction and spin to keep us oblivious to the steady encroachment on our rights by the architects of the American Police State.

Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice.

Although the courts were established to serve as Courts of Justice, what we have been saddled with, instead, are Courts of Order. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government interests than with upholding the rights of the people enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

When presented with an opportunity to loosen the government’s noose that keeps getting cinched tighter and tighter around the necks of the American people, what does our current Supreme Court usually do?

It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern.

More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt, which leaves “we the people” hanging by a thread.

Rarely do the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court— preoccupied with their personal politics, cocooned in a world of privilege, partial to those with power, money and influence, and narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year)—venture beyond their rarefied comfort zones.

Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

In recent years, for example, the Court has ruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips; Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of “security”; citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense”; police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home; and it’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases have delivered devastating blows to the lives and rights enshrined in the Constitution. By remaining silent, the Court has affirmed that: legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police; the military can arrest and detain American citizens; students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school; and police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law.

You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

In fact, our so-called rights have been reduced to technicalities in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs.

In the police state being erected around us, the police can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Fourth Amendment being inexorably bled to death by the very institution that is supposed to be protecting it (and us) from government abuse.

Remember, it was a unanimous Supreme Court which determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. That same Court gave police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip search non-violent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong.

Make no mistake about it: this is what constitutes “law and order” in the American police state.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state, where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching motorists on the side of the road, in a police state such as ours, these instances of abuse are not condemned by the government. Rather, they are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

The system is rigged.

Because the system is rigged and the U.S. Supreme Court—the so-called “people’s court”—has exchanged its appointed role as a gatekeeper of justice for its new role as maintainer of the status quo, the police state will keep winning and “we the people” will keep losing.

By refusing to accept any of the eight or so qualified immunity cases before it this past term that strove to hold police accountable for official misconduct, the Supreme Court delivered a chilling reminder that in the American police state, ‘we the people’ are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect.”

This is how qualified immunity keeps the police state in power.

Lawyers tend to offer a lot of complicated, convoluted explanations for the doctrine of qualified immunity, which was intended to insulate government officials from frivolous lawsuits, but the real purpose of qualified immunity is to rig the system, ensuring that abusive agents of the government almost always win and the victims of government abuse almost always lose.

How else do you explain a doctrine that requires victims of police violence to prove that their abusers knew their behavior was illegal because it had been deemed so in a nearly identical case at some prior time?

It’s a setup for failure.

A review of critical court rulings over the past several decades, including rulings affirming qualified immunity protections for government agents by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order, protecting the ruling class, and insulating government agents from charges of wrongdoing than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Indeed, as Reuters reports, qualified immunity “has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights.”

Worse, as Reuters concluded, “the Supreme Court has built qualified immunity into an often insurmountable police defense by intervening in cases mostly to favor the police.”

For those in need of a reminder of all the ways in which the Supreme Court has made us sitting ducks at the mercy of the American police state, let me offer the following.

As a result of court rulings in recent years, police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless searches. Police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless arrests based on mere suspicion. Police can claim qualified immunity for using excessive force against protesters. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a mentally impaired person. Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. Police can stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  Police officers can stop cars based on “anonymous” tips or for “suspicious” behavior such as having a reclined car seat or driving too carefully. Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.  Police can use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals. Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.” Not only are police largely protected by qualified immunity, but police dogs are also off the hook for wrongdoing.

Police can subject Americans to strip searches, no matter the “offense.” Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. Police can use knock-and-talk tactics as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment. Police can carry out no-knock raids if they believe announcing themselves would be dangerous. Police can recklessly open fire on anyone that might be “armed.” Police can destroy a home during a SWAT raid, even if the owner gives their consent to enter and search it. Police can suffocate someone, deliberately or inadvertently, in the process of subduing them.

To sum it up, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out with impunity against individuals posing little or no real threat. In this way, the justices of the United States Supreme Court—through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency—have become the architects of the American police state.

So where does that leave us?

For those deluded enough to believe that they’re living the American dream—where the government represents the people, where the people are equal in the eyes of the law, where the courts are arbiters of justice, where the police are keepers of the peace, and where the law is applied equally as a means of protecting the rights of the people—it’s time to wake up.

We no longer have a representative government, a rule of law, or justice.

Liberty has fallen to legalism. Freedom has fallen to fascism.

Justice has become jaded, jaundiced and just plain unjust.

And for too many, the American dream of freedom and opportunity has turned into a living nightmare.

Given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, profit-driven prisons, and corporate corruption, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People,, neither the president, nor the legislatures, nor the courts will save us from the police state that holds us in its clutches.

So we can waste our strength over the next few weeks and months raging over the makeup of the Supreme Court or we can stand united against the tyrant in our midst.

After all, the president, the legislatures, and the courts are all on the government’s payroll.

They are the police state.

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This article was originally published on The Rutherford Institute.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

The Anglo-Australian multinational company Rio Tinto – the largest iron ore mining company in the world – demolished two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelters in May. What is particularly disturbing about this event is that Rio Tinto was apparently acting entirely within the law, which is to say that this kind of tragic and wanton destruction will continue to happen unless stricter regulations are enacted. The sites were located on the ancestral lands of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura, or PKKP, people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Anthropological studies commissioned by Rio Tinto itself confirmed that the caves were of “the highest archaeological significance,” containing an “enormous museum of information about [the PKKP people’s] ancestors’ work and lives.”

The conflict between industry and heritage that we are witnessing today is of course not a new phenomenon. Indeed, in Australia, it has been a persistent problem since at least the early 1960s when the mining and extraction of iron ore in the Pilbara region began. But the struggle can and should be seen also within the larger context of the marginalization, subjugation and decimation of the Aboriginal peoples that has been the story of their ongoing plight since 1788 when British settlers began colonizing the Australian mainland. Not until 1965 did most Aboriginal Australians enjoy full citizenship or voting rights; and it would take six more years before they were included on the national census. Australia’s indigenous people constitute only two percent of the population and yet are 28 percent of Australia’s prisoner demographic.

The unrelenting destruction of indigenous heritage sites is entirely consistent with the same ideology that has driven Australia’s aggressive campaign of deforestation. Both are expressions of one and the same policy of uncompromising colonization. Over the last 200 years Australia has lost 25 percent of its rainforest, 45 percent of open forest, and 32 percent of woodland forest. In fact, among developed countries Australia has one of the highest rates of deforestation, which has led to the annihilation of much of its native wildlife. Twenty percent of Australia’s mammals, 7 percent of its reptiles, and 13 percent of its birds are listed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable. According to wilderness.org.au, 1,000 plant and animal species are presently at risk of extinction.

The obliteration of the Juukan Gorge caves certainly represents a devastating loss to the PKKP – but it is a tragic loss for the world as well. These rock shelters fostered our understanding the human beginnings of art, religion and culture, indeed the dawn of humanity’s self-awareness – yet, as anthropologist Marcia Langton observed, “their significance for further understanding of deep human history is a matter that was willfully ignored by Rio Tinto.” What consequences did Rio Tinto suffer for its recklessness? Several of its executives will lose their bonuses, totaling roughly $6.7 million (USD 4.9 million) – a mere slap on the wrist which in the absence of legislation will do nothing to protect the few similar sites that remain.

Mining Company Rio Tinto Blows Up 46,000-Year-Old Aboriginal Sacred Caves In Western Australia - UNILAD

Source: Unilad

Dr Lawrence Owens, an archaeologist and anthropologist from the University of London, told Mining Technology,

“There is no other way of putting this – the destruction of Juukan Gorge cave was a travesty and a disgrace.” He added, “It is difficult to fully express the magnitude of what this site was, what it meant, and how its destruction has impacted upon us all.”

The caves that Rio Tinto blasted have been understandably compared to Stonehenge which is some 5,000 years old – yet the comparison does not really do justice to what we lost, given that this site was nearly ten times older than that. Moreover, unlike Stonehenge which belongs entirely to a bygone era, these caves have been continually occupied by the same peoples, generation after generation, over these tens of thousands of years. They were a kind of “encyclopedia of the Aboriginal people.”

One of the most precious and astounding discoveries in the cave was a 4,000-year-old length of plaited human hair, woven together from strands from the heads of several different people. This remarkable find established through DNA testing a direct link to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura traditional owners living today.

Rio Tinto received permission to conduct the blasts in 2013 under Section 18 of the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act.  It is an offence under Section 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act (AHA) of 1972 to excavate, destroy, damage, conceal or in any way alter an Aboriginal site. However, under Section 18 landowners may apply for consent to breach the restrictions established under Section 17. Accordingly, Rio Tinto was not operating illegally or flouting the law.

David Ritter, former principal legal officer for the Yamatji Land and Sea Council, observed that,

“It is a myth, expressed by the objects of the Aboriginal Heritage Act that the main purpose of the legislation is to protect Aboriginal heritage. It may be more accurate to describe the AHA as an act to regularize the obliteration of Aboriginal heritage… It is legislation by the non-Indigenous community for the non-Indigenous community that creates a superficial veneer of protection for Indigenous interests. The result is that the colonizing power can continue to do with Aboriginal places and materials exactly as it wants.”

We know that this desecration could have been avoided altogether because during a federal parliamentary inquiry, Rio Tinto’s CEO, Jean-Sebastien Jacques stated that there were four options to expand the iron ore mine in the area. Three of the options would have avoided the rock shelters, but the mining company chose the more destructive alternative as it allowed them to extract $135 million (USD 97 million) worth of iron ore, a profit that exceeded the other choices. They opted for the route that allowed the company to mine “8 million tonnes of higher-grade iron ore,” according to Mr. Jacques.

It has long been recognized that Australian laws do not adequately protect Aboriginal heritage sites. The Dampier Archipelago of Western Australia is home to thousands of Aboriginal pictographs, and perhaps the oldest surviving rock art in the world. Indeed, Australia’s Indigenous art represents the longest uninterrupted tradition of art in the world – going back over 50,000 years – with examples having been found that depict long-extinct megafauna; including the Thyalacine (Tasmanian tiger) and Fat-tailed Kangaroo. Representations of the now-extinct marsupial lion have also been found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The extraordinary rock art of the Dampier Archipelago easily constitutes the largest and most diverse gallery of petroglyphs in the world. Recent archeological research confirms that the Dampier Archipelago and Burrup Peninsula (formerly known as Dampier Island) contains the largest concentration of ancient rock art in the world. However, the rock art of the Burrup Peninsula has been physically destroyed by construction and eroded by industrial emissions, continually “under threat due to high concentrations of acidic and nitrate-rich pollution from nearby industrial complexes,” according to a 2017 report published by the Journal of Archeological Science.

What we know is that the cultural and scientific significance of the rock art is comparable to ‘such world-renowned prehistoric art galleries as the caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne, and Altamira in northern Spain’. The tragedy is that we are losing the cultural riches of these region before we have had a chance to truly understand their significance – for, as a 2006 report prepared for the National Trust of Australia (WA) states, “numerous petroglyphs and other archaeological features have been destroyed and a significant portion of the extraordinary heritage of the Dampier Archipelago has been irretrievably compromised without any clear understanding of what has been lost.”

Aboriginal people represent the oldest continuous culture in the world – adequate protection of that culture will be encouraged when we respect and appreciate the wisdom of the Aboriginal people and their genius for ‘living with and fostering their environment.’ We may, for example, view Aboriginal rock art as disrupting the dualistic, Cartesian view of landscape, offering instead an embodied approach which recognizes that we “do not live in an environment. Such a position immediately posits our separation. Rather we have an environment and we are part of it and it is part of us… We are… immersed.” In Animism: Respecting the Living World (2005), Graham Harvey observes that, “[W]e have far too many experiences of the aliveness of the world and the importance of a diversity of life to fall in step completely with Cartesian modernity.” We need to broaden the interpretative lens with which we view Aboriginal rock art and see that in fact it represents an important challenge, and possibly a corrective to an overly dualistic ontology, which pits nature versus culture, mind versus body and human versus non-human.

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Sam Ben-Meir is a professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy College in New York City.

Alt-right media personality Cassandra Fairbanks’ witness testimony was read out in court yesterday, providing evidence that Julian Assange’s April 2019 arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was politically motivated and directed by United States President Donald Trump.

Fairbanks testified that Arthur Schwartz, a wealthy Republican Party donor and key Trump ally, had told her that Assange was taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy “on orders from the president.” The conversation between Schwartz and Fairbanks occurred in September 2019 and was recorded by Fairbanks.

Schwartz, a frequent visitor to the White House and “informal adviser” or “fixer” to Donald Trump Jr., told Fairbanks the president’s orders were conveyed via US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who brokered a deal with the Ecuadorian government for Assange’s removal. Grenell is currently director of national intelligence (acting), appointed by Trump in February this year.

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, spelled out the significance of Fairbanks’ disclosures, telling Judge Vanessa Baraitser they were, “evidence of the declared intentions of those at the top who planned the prosecution and the eviction from the embassy.”

Fairbanks, who writes for the pro-Trump Gateway Pundit, is a prominent Assange supporter who visited the WikiLeaks founder at the Embassy on two key occasions. Her evidence was read into proceedings yesterday afternoon unopposed, with Fitzgerald explaining, “My learned friend [James Lewis QC for the prosecution] reserves the right to say ‘because she’s a supporter of Julian Assange you must take that into account in weighing her evidence.’ But we say [her evidence] is true.”

Given her close connections to leading figures in the Trump administration’s fascistic entourage, Fairbanks is uniquely positioned to expose key aspects of the politically motivated vendetta against the WikiLeaks founder. Throughout the extradition hearing, lawyers for the US government have repeatedly claimed the charges against Assange under the Espionage Act are motivated by “criminal justice concerns” and are “not political.”

 Police ejecting Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)

Fairbanks’ evidence shreds the official narrative of the Department of Justice (DoJ) that Assange was arrested on April 11, 2019 in relation to “hacking.” In a phone call with Schwartz on October 30, 2018, he made clear that Assange would be arrested as political payback for his role in “the Manning case,” i.e., the disclosure by US Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning,” Fairbanks recalled of her October 2018 phone conversation with Schwartz. This was one of several predictions by the Trump insider that were soon confirmed (Manning was re-arrested in March 2019), with Fairbanks concluding, “He knew very specific details about a future prosecution [of Assange] … that only those close to the situation then would have known.”

Fairbanks’ testimony provided chilling evidence of plans by the Trump administration to impose the death penalty. In his October 2018 phone call with Fairbanks, Schwartz said Assange would “probably” only serve life in prison, but went on to qualify this,

“He told me that the US government has said they will not pursue the death penalty, something that would have prevented the UK and Ecuador from extraditing him here.”

Less than six months later, just hours after Assange’s seizure from the embassy, Fairbanks again messaged Schwartz to ask if he “knew anything.”

“He responded with a series of messages about how Assange deserved a lethal injection and how both he and Manning should die in prison.” Further, “He sent me lots of messages about how everyone involved with WikiLeaks deserved the death penalty. I noted in our conversation that it had been reported that Grenell only got a verbal agreement that there would be no death penalty, nothing in writing. Schwartz’s response to this was to send me a shrug emoji and he continued his tirade about how Assange deserved to die.”

On January 7, 2019, Fairbanks travelled to London to warn Assange of US plans to seize him from the embassy and have him extradited to the US. They discussed quietly, Assange using “a little radio to cover up the conversation.” They exchanged written notes.

Fairbanks’ testimony recounts the extraordinary measures they faced during a second two-hour visit on March 25. She was left alone in a cold room for a full hour, while Assange was kept outside and subjected to a “full body scan with a metal detector” before being let in. The pair had only two minutes to talk. Fairbanks is later made to understand the reason for this aborted visit after Schwartz “called and informed me that he knew I had told Assange” during the earlier visit.

Fairbanks’ testimony provides insight into the criminal underworld surrounding the White House. After Trump fires National Security Adviser John Bolton and Grenell’s name is floated as a replacement, Fairbanks tweets about his involvement in Assange’s arrest, which elicits a “frantic” call from Schwartz.

“He was ranting and raving that he could go to jail and that I was tweeting ‘classified information’… Schwartz informed me that in coordinating for Assange to be removed from the embassy, Grenell had done so on ‘direct orders from the president’” and that “other persons who Schwartz said might also be affected included individuals who he described as ‘lifelong friends’.”

These individuals included Grenell and Las Vegas Sands boss and long-time Trump ally Sheldon Adelson.

In the first half of the day, Professor Christian Grothoff of the Bern University of Applied Sciences testified to the chronology of events leading up to the bulk release of unredacted US State Department cables in September 2011. He is a computer scientist with experience reporting on the Edward Snowden revelations. His evidence demolished the prosecution’s claim that Assange and WikiLeaks were responsible for this mass disclosure.

Grothoff explained that the cables were stored online by WikiLeaks and “encrypted with a cipher that made it basically useless to anybody that did not have the encryption key.” This was, he said, common practice when dealing with sensitive data that is too large to be sent between trusted parties by encrypted email.

When the WikiLeaks website came under attack in late 2010, limiting access to it, copies of the site began to be created by third parties. A minority of these third parties copied the encrypted documents, contrary to WikiLeaks’ instructions.

One of the people given the encryption key to these documents was Guardian journalist David Leigh. In February 2011, he and fellow Guardian writer Luke Harding published a book titled WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assanges War on Secrecy, in which the key was revealed in full.

By late August 2011, the connection between Leigh’s key and the encrypted documents posted on copies of the WikiLeaks website, but outside of WikiLeaks’ control, was reported. On August 31 and September 1, the cables began to be published on sites like Cryptome and Pirate Bay. Only afterwards, on September 2, did WikiLeaks publish the cables, explaining their reasons in an editorial:

“Revolutions and reforms are in danger of being lost as the unpublished cables spread to intelligence contractors and governments before the public. The Arab Spring would not have started in the manner it did if the Tunisian government of Ben Ali had copies of those WikiLeaks releases which helped to take down his government.”

Grothoff’s testimony highlighted the central role played by David Leigh in these events. He explained, “As far as I can tell Mr. Leigh was one of the very few given access to the full set [of cables].” Assange, Grothoff said, based on the account provided by Leigh’s own book, was “very reluctant” to give the Guardian journalist this access. Substantiating that point, Summers referred to a section of Leigh’s book which reads:

“[Leigh] asked Assange to stop procrastinating and hand over the biggest trove of all: the cables. Assange said, ‘I can give you half of them containing the first 50 percent’ and Leigh refused. All or nothing, he said. ‘What happens if you end up in an orange jumpsuit en route to Guantánamo before you can release the full files?’… Eventually, Assange capitulated.”

In another section of the book, referred to by the prosecution, Leigh describes how “It had been a struggle to prise these documents out of Assange.” Just six months later, with WikiLeaks engaged in a long process of publishing safe and redacted documents with media partners around the world, Leigh published the password to the full online store of classified, unredacted cables.

Speaking outside the court, Assange’s father, John Shipton, said,

“Today we had the prosecution trying to prove that water runs uphill and up is down. … The defence replied and conclusively demonstrated that it was David Leigh [who caused the unredacted cables to be released]. We can only conclude from the amount of time that the prosecution spent defending David Leigh that David Leigh is a state asset.”

At the end of the hearing’s morning session, an exchange between District Judge Vanessa Baraitser and the legal teams pointed to further restrictions being imposed on the defence’s ability to present its case.

Seizing on the delays caused by a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the first week of the hearing, Baraitser insisted that the defence prepare a timetable that allowed the hearing to “finish within two weeks.” When the defence replied that this would leave no time for closing submissions, she reacted enthusiastically to the suggestion of prosecution lawyer James Lewis QC that these could be submitted in written form and summarised in just half a day each for the prosecution and the defence. A final decision is forthcoming.

The hearing continues today.

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This month, Dr. Ronald B. Brown had a daring paper published in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, conservatively entitled Public health lessons learned from biases in coronavirus mortality overestimation (Cambridge University Press)

“The subject of this article is disruptive, to say the least, although it is not as obvious from the title,” Dr. Brown told me in an email.

“The manuscript cites the smoking-gun, documented evidence showing that the public’s overreaction to the coronavirus pandemic was based on the worst miscalculation in the history of humanity, in my opinion. My manuscript underwent an intensive peer-review process. You are the first media guy who has responded to my invitation.”

It’s sadly no surprise the media has not kept Dr. Brown’s phone ringing with interview requests. The abstract, in itself, contains a firecracker where he says:

“Results of this critical appraisal reveal information bias and selection bias in coronavirus mortality overestimation, most likely caused by misclassifying an influenza infection fatality rate (IFR) as a case fatality rate (CFR).”

Is that not what we’ve seen? The number of people they said would be buried in mass COVID-19 graves better reflects how many people simply ended up with a cough and fever.

Dr. Brown added that CDC and WHO documents show that the case fatality rate for influenza was similar to the coronavirus, implying that the lockdowns were pointless. His paper questions why the 2017-2018 influenza season in the United States did not “receive the same intensive media coverage as COVID-19.”

He points out that “the accuracy of coronavirus tests rushed into production during the pandemic were unknown.” And he explores how the media began focusing on an increase in coronavirus cases while ignoring the decrease in death rates.

Much of the article looks at how lockdowns and anti-social distancing probably had little or no effect on reducing COVID-19 deaths. He says that “the public’s belief that mitigation measures were responsible for reducing coronavirus mortality may be a post hoc fallacy if lower mortality was actually due to the overestimation of coronavirus deaths.”

Speaking on the damage done by the counter-measures, Brown writes:

“The ethics of implementing fear-based public health campaigns needs to be reevaluated for the potential harm these strategies can cause.”

His report includes this mind-map on how we were all mind-warped:

You can read Brown’s full paper at Cambridge University Press. It succinctly dismisses the notion that the corona craze has anything to do with welfare of the people. As Albert Camus warned: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”

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John C. A. Manley has spent over a decade ghostwriting for medical doctors, as well as naturopaths, chiropractors and Ayurvedic physicians. He publishes the COVID-19(84) Red Pill Posts – an email-based newsletter dedicated to preventing the governments of the world from using an exaggerated pandemic as an excuse to violate our freedom, health, privacy, livelihood and humanity. He is also writing a novel, COVID-27: A Dystopian Love Story. You can visit his website at: MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca

If the Democrats manage to push Joe Biden over the finish line in November’s election, he will find himself presiding over a decadent, declining empire. He will either continue the policies that have led the American empire to decadence and decline, or seize the moment to move our nation into a new phase: a transition to a peaceful and sustainable post-imperial future.

The foreign policy team Biden assembles will be key, including his choice for Secretary of Defense. But Biden’s rumored favorite, Michele Flournoy, is not the gal for this historic moment. Yes, she would break the glass ceiling as the first female Secretary of Defense, but, as one of the architects of our endless wars and record military budgets, she would only help to steer the American empire farther down its current path of lost wars, corrupt militarism and terminal decline.

In 1976, General John Glubb, the retired British commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, wrote a little booklet titled The Fate of Empires. Glubb observed how each of the world’s empires evolved through six stages, which he called: the Age of Pioneers; the Age of Conquests; the Age of Commerce; the Age of Affluence; the Age of Intellect; and the Age of Decadence and Decline. Despite enormous differences in technology, politics and culture between empires and eras, from the Assyrians (859-612 B.C.) to the British (1700-1950 C.E.), the whole process in each and every case took about 250 years.

Americans can count the years from 1776, and few of us would deny that the American empire is in its Age of Decadence and Decline, riven by the very traits that Glubb identified for this stage, including systemic, normalized corruption, internal political hatreds, and a fascination with celebrity for its own sake.

The decline of an empire is rarely peaceful, but it does not always involve the invasion, destruction or collapse of the imperial heartland, as long as its leaders eventually face up to reality and manage the transition wisely. So it is tragic that the 2020 presidential election offers us a choice between two major party candidates uniquely unqualified to manage America’s post-imperial transition, both making vain promises to restore mythical versions of America’s past, instead of drawing up serious plans for a peaceful, sustainable and broadly prosperous post-imperial future.

Trump and his “Make America Great Again” represent the epitome of imperial hubris, while Biden pushes the time-worn idea that America should be “back at the head of the table” internationally, as if America’s neocolonial empire was still in its prime. With enough pressure from the public, Biden might be persuaded to start cutting the imperial military budget to invest in our real needs, from Medicare For All to a Green New Deal. But that’s unlikely if he picks Michele Flournoy, a die-hard militarist who has played instrumental roles in America’s failed wars and catastrophic imperial adventures since the 1990s.

Let’s look at her record:

As Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy under President Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which laid the ideological foundation for the endless wars that followed. Under “Defense Strategy,” the QDR effectively announced that the United States would no longer be bound by the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force. It declared that, “when the interests at stake are vital, …we should do whatever it takes to defend them, including, when necessary, the unilateral use of military power.”

The QDR defined U.S. vital interests to include “preventing the emergence of a hostile regional coalition” anywhere on Earth and “ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources.” By framing the unilateral and illegal use of military force all over the world as “defending vital interests,” the QDR presented what international law defines as aggression, the “supreme international crime” according to the judges at Nuremberg, as a form of “defense.”

Flournoy’s career has been marked by the unethical spinning of revolving doors between the Pentagon, consulting firms helping businesses procure Pentagon contracts, and military-industrial think tanks like the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which she co-founded in 2007.

In 2009, she joined the Obama administration as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, where she helped engineer political and humanitarian disasters in Libya and Syria and a new escalation of the endless war in Afghanistan before resigning in 2012. From 2013-2016, she joined Boston Consulting, trading on her Pentagon connections to boost the firm’s military contracts from $1.6 million in 2013 to $32 million in 2016. By 2017, Flourney herself was raking in $452,000 a year.

In 2017, Flournoy and Obama’s Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken founded their own corporate consulting business, WestExec Advisors, where Flournoy continued to cash in on her contacts by helping companies successfully navigate the complex bureaucracy of winning enormous Pentagon contracts.

She obviously has no compunction about enriching herself off of taxpayer money, but what about her actual foreign policy positions? Given that her jobs in the Clinton and Obama administrations were behind-the-scenes strategy and policy positions, she is not widely blamed for specific military disasters.

But the articles, papers and reports that Flournoy and CNAS have published for two decades reveal that she suffers from the same chronic malady as the rest of the Washington foreign policy “blob.” She pays lip service to diplomacy and multilateralism, but when she has to recommend a policy for a specific problem, she consistently supports the uses of military force that she set out to politically legitimize in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). When the chips are down, she is one more military-industrial hammer-banger to whom every problem looks like a nail waiting to be whacked by a trillion-dollar, high-tech hammer.

In June 2002, as Bush and his gang threatened aggression against Iraq, Flournoy told the Washington Post that the United States would “need to strike preemptively before a crisis erupts to destroy an adversary’s weapons stockpile” before it “could erect defenses to protect those weapons, or simply disperse them.” When Bush unveiled his official “doctrine of preemption” a few months later, Senator Edward Kennedy wisely condemned it as “unilateralism run amok” and “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other country can or should accept.”

In 2003, as the ugly reality of “preemptive war” plunged Iraq into intractable violence and chaos, Flournoy and a team of Democratic hawks co-authored a paper titled “Progressive Internationalism” to define a “smarter and better” brand of militarism for the Democratic Party for the 2004 election. While portrayed as a path between the neo-imperial right and the non-interventionist left, it asserted that “Democrats will maintain the world’s most capable and technologically advanced military, and we will not flinch from using it to defend our interests anywhere in the world.”

In January 2005, as the violence and chaos of the hostile military occupation of Iraq spun farther out of control, Flournoy signed onto a letter from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) asking Congress to “increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps (by) at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.” In 2007, Flournoy supported keeping a “residual force” of 60,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and in 2008, she co-authored a paper proposing a policy of “Conditional Engagement” in Iraq, which Brian Katulis at the Center for American Progress dubbed “an excuse to stay in Iraq” that “poses as an exit strategy.”

As Obama’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, she was a hawkish voice for escalation in Afghanistan and war on Libya. She resigned in February 2012, leaving others to clean up the mess. In February 2013, when Obama brought in Chuck Hagel as a relatively dovish reformer to replace Leon Panetta as Defense Secretary, right-wing figures opposed to his planned reforms, including Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol, backed Flournoy as a hawkish alternative.

In 2016, Flournoy was tipped as Hillary Clinton’s choice for Secretary of Defense, and she co-authored a CNAS report titled “Expanding American Power” with a team of hawks that included former Cheney aide Eric Edelman, PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan and Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The report was seen as a view of how Clinton’s foreign policy would differ from Obama’s, with calls for higher military spending, arms shipments to Ukraine, renewed military threats against Iran, more aggressive military action in Syria and Iraq, and further increases to domestic oil and gas production—all of which Trump has adopted.

In 2019, four years into the catastrophic war in Yemen when Congress was trying to stop US participation and halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Flournoy argued against a weapons ban.

Flournoy’s hawkish views are particularly worrisome when it comes to China. In June 2020, she wrote an article in Foreign Affairs in which she spun an absurd argument that an even more aggressive U.S. military presence in the seas and skies around China would make war less rather than more likely by intimidating China into limiting its military presence in its own backyard. Her article simply recycles the tired old device of framing every U.S. military action as “deterrence” and every enemy action as “aggression.”

Flournoy claims that “Washington has not delivered on its promised ‘pivot’ to Asia,” and that U.S. troop levels in the region remain similar to what they were a decade ago. But this obscures the fact that U.S. troops in East Asia have increased by 9,600 since 2010, from 96,000 to 105,600. Total U.S. troop deployments abroad have shrunk from 450,000 to 224,000 during this time, so the proportion of U.S. overseas forces allocated to East Asia has in fact increased from 21% to 47%.

Flournoy also neglects to mention that Trump has already increased the number of U.S. troops in East Asia by over 23,000 since 2016. So, just as she did in 2004, 2008 and 2016, Flournoy is simply repackaging neoconservative and Republican policies to sell to the Democrats, to ensure that a new Democratic president keeps the United States wedded to war, militarism and endless profits for the military-industrial complex.

So it is no surprise that Flournoy’s solution to what she presents as a growing threat from China is to invest in a new generation of weapons, including hypersonic and long-range precision missiles and more high-tech unmanned systems. She even suggests that the U.S. goal in this budget-busting arms race could be to invent, produce and deploy currently non-existent weapons to sink China’s entire navy and civilian merchant fleet (a flagrant war crime) in the first 72 hours of a war.

This is only one part of Flournoy’s larger plan for transforming the U.S. military through trillion-dollar long-term investments in new weapons technology, building on Trump’s already huge increase in Pentagon R & D spending.

In a September 10th interview with the Stars and Stripes military website, Joe Biden appeared to have already swallowed heavy doses of Flournoy’s Kool-Aid to wash down Trump’s Cold War. Biden said he does not foresee major reductions in the military budget “as the military refocuses its attention to potential threats from ‘near-peer’ powers such as China and Russia.”

Biden added, “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested in certain areas the (military) budget is going to have to be increased.” We would remind Biden that he hired these unnamed advisors to advise him, not to predetermine the decisions of a candidate who still has to convince the American public he is the leader we need at this difficult time in our history.

Picking Michelle Flournoy to lead the Pentagon would be a tragic indication that Biden is truly hell-bent on squandering America’s future on a debilitating arms race with China and Russia and a futile, potentially catastrophic bid to resurrect America’s declining imperial power.

With our economy–and our lives–devastated by a pandemic, with climate chaos and nuclear war threatening the future of human life on this planet, we are in desperate need of real leaders to navigate and guide America through a difficult transition to a peaceful, prosperous post-imperial future. Michele Flournoy is not one of them.

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Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK, and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

Featured image: Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele A. Flournoy. DoD photo by Gregory Jones, U.S. Army. (Released)

International Day of Peace: Without Justice, There will be no Peace

September 22nd, 2020 by Black Alliance for Peace

Since 1981, September 21st has been used to focus and re-dedicate global efforts toward achieving peace. But like many days created by the United Nations and global civil society to reflect the highest values and aspirations of collective humanity, the struggle for peace has been soiled by the moral hypocrisy of global oppressors.

Those states see peace as a threat. In the United States, 83-year-old Dr. W.E.B. Dubois was branded a criminal in 1951 for being the director of the Peace Information Center. In 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asserted racism, materialism and militarism were maladies of U.S. society that, if not corrected, would result in a spiritual death for the United States. When the Black Liberation Movement embraced an anti-imperialist and anti-war position and Dr. King correctly identified the United States as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, brutal repression took place—his life was taken and the movement was smashed. Today, peace activists and the peace movement are relegated to the fringes of political discourse, making direct repression unnecessary.

But, as Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton said, you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution. The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) took up the historic task to fight for peace and human rights on April 4, 2017, exactly 50 years after Dr. King broke his silence on Vietnam.

We are committed to peace. But we say without equivocation or apology that without justice, there will be no peace—and for justice, we must fight for it. What compels us to resist? We see in the United States and around the world the barbarism of war, repression and imperialism. We see the structural violence of capitalism dramatically revealed by the coronavirus pandemic. We see the oligarchy’s cavalier disregard for human life has unsealed for the public a deeper level of understanding of what it has to mean to be anti-war.

So today, we celebrate the aspiration we all have for peace by re-dedicating ourselves to this cause: Extricating the power to wage war against humanity from those rogue states lorded over by the world’s rapacious, white-supremacist colonial/capitalist minority.

We say end the war in Afghanistan and prosecute the war criminals in the Obama and Trump administrations that provided weapons of war to the fascist Saudi state to wage genocidal war in Yemen. Say no to the new cold war with China, shut down the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and close the estimated 800 to 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world.

Peace, human cooperation, substantive equality and commitment to People(s)-Centered Human Rights are possible. These values represent the only rational basis for sustaining human life on the planet. Join us at 4 p.m., EST, September 24, for our webinar, Full Spectrum Dominance: From AFRICOM to Indo-Pacific Command, where we will discuss and strategize on how we can put a brake on the global bi-partisan war machine.

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Bob Woodward’s new insider account of the Trump administration, ‘Rage’, details the multi-faceted controversies surrounding President Trump’s approach to governance – none more so than his relationship with the military.

Bob Woodward is a legendary reporter whose talent for getting insiders to speak about the most sensitive matters in government dates back to Watergate and the Nixon presidency. His most recent presidential expose, ‘Rage’, touches on a wide range of controversies, from the coronavirus pandemic to issues relating to war, and the promise of war.

It is Trump’s tortured relationship with the military that stands out the most, especially as told through the eyes of former Secretary of Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, a retired marine general. It is clear that Bob Woodward spent hours speaking with Mattis – the insights, emotions and internal voice captured in the book show a level of intimacy that could only be reached through in-depth interviews, and Woodward has a well-earned reputation for getting people to speak to him.

The book makes it clear that Mattis viewed Trump as a threat to the US’ standing as the defender of a rules-based order – built on the back of decades-old alliances – that had been in place since the end of the Second World War.

It also makes it clear that Mattis and the military officers he oversaw placed defending this order above implementing the will of the American people, as expressed through the free and fair election that elevated Donald Trump to the position of commander-in-chief. In short, Mattis and his coterie of generals knew best, and when the president dared issue an order or instruction that conflicted with their vision of how the world should work, they would do their best to undermine this order, all the while confirming to the president that it was being followed.

The military is trapped in an inherited reality divorced from the present

This trend was on display in Woodward’s telling of Trump’s efforts to forge better relations with North Korea. At every turn, Mattis and his military commanders sought to isolate the president from the reality on the ground, briefing him only on what they thought he needed to know, and keeping him in the dark about what was really going on.

In a telling passage, Woodward takes us into the mind of Jim Mattis as he contemplates the horrors of a nuclear war with North Korea, and the responsibility he believed he shouldered when it came to making the hard decision as to whether nuclear weapons should be used or not. Constitutionally, the decision was the president’s alone to make, something Mattis begrudgingly acknowledges. But in Mattis’ world, he, as secretary of defense, would be the one who influenced that decision.

Mattis, along with the other general officers described by Woodward, is clearly gripped with what can only be described as the ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’.

What defines this ‘syndrome’ is perhaps best captured in the words of Emma Sky, the female peace activist-turned adviser to General Ray Odierno, the one-time commander of US forces in Iraq. In a frank give-and-take captured by Ms. Sky in her book ‘The Unravelling’, Odierno spoke of the value he placed on the military’s willingness to defend “freedom” anywhere in the world. “There is,” he said, “no one who understands more the importance of liberty and freedom in all its forms than those who travel the world to defend it.”

Ms. Sky responded in typically direct fashion: “One day, I will have you admit that the [Iraq] war was a bad idea, that the administration was led by a radical neocon program, that the US’s standing in the world has gone down greatly, and that we are far less safe than we were before 9/11.

Odierno would have nothing of it. “It will never happen while I’m the commander of soldiers in Iraq.”

To lead soldiers in battle,” Ms. Sky noted, “a commander had to believe in the cause.” Left unsaid was the obvious: even if the cause was morally and intellectually unsound.

This, more than anything, is the most dangerous thing about the ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ as captured by Bob Woodward – the fact that the military is trapped in an inherited reality divorced from the present, driven by precepts which have nothing to with what is, but rather by what the military commanders believe should be. The unyielding notion that the US military is a force for good becomes little more than meaningless drivel when juxtaposed with the reality that the mission being executed is inherently wrong.

The ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ lends itself to dishonesty and, worse, to self-delusion. It is one thing to lie; it is another altogether to believe the lie as truth.

No single general had the courage to tell Trump allegations against Syria were a hoax 

The cruise missile attack on Syria in early April 2017 stands out as a case in point. The attack was ordered in response to allegations that Syria had dropped a bomb containing the sarin nerve agent on a town – Khan Shaykhun – that was controlled by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic militants.

Trump was led to believe that the 59 cruise missiles launched against Shayrat Airbase – where the Su-22 aircraft alleged to have dropped the bombs were based – destroyed Syria’s capability to carry out a similar attack in the future. When shown post-strike imagery in which the runways were clearly untouched, Trump was outraged, lashing out at Secretary of Defense Mattis in a conference call. “I can’t believe you didn’t destroy the runway!”, Woodward reports the president shouting.

Mr. President,” Mattis responds in the text, “they would rebuild the runway in 24 hours, and it would have little effect on their ability to deploy weapons. We destroyed the capability to deploy weapons” for months, Mattis said.

That was the mission the president had approved,” Woodward writes, clearly channeling Mattis, “and they had succeeded.”

The problem with this passage is that it is a lie. There is no doubt that Bob Woodward has the audio tape of Jim Mattis saying these things. But none of it is true. Mattis knew it when he spoke to Woodward, and Woodward knew it when he wrote the book.

There was no confirmed use of chemical weapons by Syria at Khan Shaykhun. Indeed, the forensic evidence available about the attack points to the incident being a false flag effort – a successful one, it turns out – on the part of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists to provoke a US military strike against Syria. No targets related to either the production, storage or handling of chemical weapons were hit by the US cruise missiles, if for no other reason than no such targets could exist if Syria did not possess and/or use a chemical weapon against Khan Shaykhun.

Moreover, the US failed to produce a narrative of causality which provided some underlying logic to the targets that were struck at Khan Shaykhun – “Here is where the chemical weapons were stored, here is where the chemical weapons were filled, here is where the chemical weapons were loaded onto the aircraft.” Instead, 59 cruise missiles struck empty aircraft hangars, destroying derelict aircraft, and killing at least four Syrian soldiers and up to nine civilians.

The next morning, the same Su-22 aircraft that were alleged to have bombed Khan Shaykhun were once again taking off from Shayrat Air Base – less than 24 hours after the US cruise missiles struck that facility. President Trump had every reason to be outraged by the results.

But the President should have been outraged by the processes behind the attack, where military commanders, fully afflicted by ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’, offered up solutions that solved nothing for problems that did not exist. Not a single general (or admiral) had the courage to tell the president that the allegations against Syria were a hoax, and that a military response was not only not needed, but would be singularly counterproductive.

But that’s not how generals and admirals – or colonels and lieutenant colonels – are wired. That kind of introspective honesty cannot happen while they are in command.

Misleading the American public  

Bob Woodward knows this truth, but he chose not to give it a voice in his book, because to do so would disrupt the pre-scripted narrative that he had constructed, around which he bent and twisted the words of those he interviewed – including the president and Jim Mattis. As such, ‘Rage’ is, in effect, a lie built on a lie. It is one thing for politicians and those in power to manipulate the truth to their advantage. It’s something altogether different for journalists to report something as true that they know to be a lie.

On the back cover of ‘Rage’, the Pulitzer prize-winning historian Robert Caro is quoted from a speech he gave about Bob Woodward. “Bob Woodward,” Caro notes, “a great reporter. What is a great reporter? Someone who never stops trying to get as close to the truth as possible.”

After reading ‘Rage’, one cannot help but conclude the opposite – that Bob Woodward has written a volume which pointedly ignores the truth. Instead, he gives voice to a lie of his own construct, predicated on the flawed accounts of sources inflicted with ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’, whose words embrace a fantasy world populated by military members fulfilling missions far removed from the common good of their fellow citizens – and often at conflict with the stated intent and instruction of the civilian leadership they ostensibly serve. In doing so, Woodward is as complicit as the generals and former generals he quotes in misleading the American public about issues of fundamental importance.

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Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

Featured image is from Amazon

September 20th marks the anniversary of the last speech John F Kennedy delivered to the United Nations’ General Assembly. This event bears more relevance upon our present crisis than most people could possibly imagine. This is true not only because it is wise to pay homage to great ideas of the past which lesser souls allowed to slip away and get buried under the sands of time, but also because history provides many of the solutions to seemingly impossible problems in our own time.

During his short speech, Kennedy outlined the very same fundamental obstacles to survival faced by our own world 57 years later: The spectre of nuclear annihilation looming overhead, poverty and the evils of colonialism staining humanity on earth, and the dominance of destructive modes of thinking which have prevented honest dialogue between the west and east who have so many common interests and yet have been blocked from acting upon them for want of creativity, understanding and faith.

Although it is far too rarely displayed in history, great leaders (those who are beholden to their consciences) recognize that there are solutions to every problem. From Plato to Cicero to Confucius and Christ in ancient times or Thomas More, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, and Kennedy in our modern age, these rare but vitally important individuals demonstrate through their words and deeds that when the dominant social rules of the game prevent those necessary and possible solutions from manifesting, then only one course of action becomes possible: Change the rules of the game.

The martyred Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin eloquently touched on this truth in 1992 shaking the hands with Yasser Arafat and advancing a two-state solution saying: “The future belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms.”

Kennedy Breaks the Rules of the Great Game

Such was the case of John F. Kennedy who recognized early on in his short-lived presidency that the geopolitical “closed system” thinking dominant among the military and foreign policy experts of the west held only the seeds for humanity’s destruction. In his speech of September 20, 1963, Kennedy revisited a theme which he first unveiled on the day of his inaugural address in 1961: A joint U.S.-USSR space program to transform the rules of the Cold War and usher in a new creative age of reason, win-win cooperation and boundless discoveries.

In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy ushered in the theme that would animate his next three years saying:

“Together let U.S. explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”

Ten days later, Kennedy re-iterated this idea during his first state of the Union inviting Russia “to join with U.S. in developing… a new communication satellite program in preparation for probing the distant planets of Mars and Venus, probes which may someday unlock the deepest secrets of the universe”.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and other leaders in the east heard these words with a mix of hope and trepidation.

The priests of the Cold War also heard these words… however hope was not among their feelings. Their hearts sank under the profound fear that the zero sum game theory models that they spent so much effort to bring online as substitutes for creative diplomacy would become obsolete in a new age of positive cooperation among sovereign nation states.

These latter priests who were then led by such figures as the State Department’s Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Joint Chiefs’ head Lyman Lemnitzer and the powerful Dulles brothers lit dangerous fires on multiple fronts in an effort to kill JFK’s vision in the cradle.

The form this attempted murder took was the Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 17-19 which was put into motion weeks before the young president had stepped into the White House. Even though Kennedy outflanked the Dr. Strangeloves among the Joint Chiefs of Staff by not providing air support for the invasion, grave damage was done to U.S.-Soviet relations. When he finally met Khrushchev on June 4, 1961 in Geneva, the president’s offer for space cooperation was rejected by the Russian leader who demanded America commit to arms reduction and other acts of good will before any positive cooperation could possibly take place.

Did Khrushchev recognize that Kennedy’s November 1961 firing of Allan Dulles and his threat to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces demonstrated a potentially trustworthy partner during this period? We may never know for sure.

Despite these setbacks, Kennedy’s requests for joint U.S.-Russian cooperation in space went on unabated and we do know that Khruschev’s letter congratulating the USA for putting their first man into orbit conveyed a strong reciprocal hope saying on February 21, 1962:

“One more step has been taken toward mastering the cosmos and this time Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn, a citizen of the United States of America, has been added to the family of astronauts. The successful launching of spaceships signalizing the conquest of new heights in science and technology inspire legitimate pride for the limitless potentialities of the human mind to serve the welfare of humanity. It is to be hoped that the genius of man, penetrating the depth of the universe, will be able to find ways to lasting peace and ensure the prosperity of all peoples on our planet earth which, in the space age, though it does not seem so large, is still dear to all of its inhabitants.

If our countries pooled their efforts—scientific, technical and material—to master the universe, this would be very beneficial for the advance of science and would be joyfully acclaimed by all peoples who would like to see scientific achievements benefit man and not be used for “cold war” purposes and the arms race.”

On September 12, 1962 Kennedy electrified the aspirations of both Americans and the world delivering his famous “Moon Speech” at Rice University saying:

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war… We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

This speech and the accompanying top down federal spending needed to realize these goals ushered in a momentum and excitement which was nearly destroyed by the greatest nuclear confrontation humanity had ever faced only one month later as America and Russia nearly unleashed hell on earth during the 9 day Cuban Missile Crisis.

Although it took an immense effort, JFK overcame immense opposition from the Deep State to negotiate the test ban treaty on August 5, 1963 co-signed by the USA, the USSR, UK and joined by over 100 other nations prohibiting nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, underwater or in outer space. By that time, word was circulating among JFK’s closest staffers that the president was planning to visit Moscow either during his presidential campaign or in the earliest moments of his 2ndterm in office.

Never content to mechanistically focus on one policy at a time, Kennedy’s holistic approach to statecraft always opened multiple flanks simultaneously which was witnessed in his October 1963 efforts to pull America out of Vietnam with his NSAM 263, as well as his efforts to bypass the Federal Reserve by issuing Silver backed treasury notes to finance his growth policies both at home and abroad. A fuller exposition of Kennedy’s battle is outlined in the class “Montreal’s Permindex and the Deep State Plot to Kill JFK”:

The September 20 Offensive for Cooperation

This brings U.S. to the decisive moment on September 20, 1963 as Kennedy gave his loudest impassionate call for a U.S.-Russian joint space program with the goal of putting a Russian and American on the Moon by the end of the decade. Kennedy opened his speech acknowledging the existential dark threat wrapped tightly over humanity saying:

“The world has not escaped from the darkness. The long shadows of conflict and crisis envelop U.S. still. But we meet today in an atmosphere of rising hope, and at a moment of comparative calm. My presence here today is not a sign of crisis, but of confidence.”

Kennedy lays out the two opposing versions of peace (negative/deterrence vs positive/win-win) and clearly described which one was the only sustainable and legitimate form compatible with natural law:

“If either of our countries is to be fully secure, we need a much better weapon than the H-bomb–a weapon better than ballistic missiles or nuclear submarines–and that better weapon is peaceful cooperation.”

The president poetically builds an understanding within his audiences’ mind to understand the possibility and necessity for positive peace conceptions that would require an end to Cold War thinking and usher in a new age of reason saying:

“In a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity–in the field of space–there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries–indeed of all the world–cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.

“All these and other new steps toward peaceful cooperation may be possible. Most of them will require on our part full consultation with our allies–for their interests are as much involved as our own, and we will not make an agreement at their expense. Most of them will require long and careful negotiation. And most of them will require a new approach to the cold war–a desire not to “bury” one’s adversary, but to compete in a host of peaceful arenas, in ideas, in production, and ultimately in service to all mankind.”

How Did Khruschev Respond?

Everyone knows that Nikita Khrushchev, who frequently battled leading figures among Russia’s politburo during his last years in power, was deposed in a coup in 1964. But it is worth asking: how did he respond to Kennedy’s final call to cooperation? As far as this author can tell, history largely remained silent on this point for many years, until Sergei Khrushchev (Nikita’s son) delivered a revealing interview to Space Cast magazine on October 2, 1997.

In that interview, Sergei revealed that after the success of the partial test ban treaty and Kennedy’s UN speech, his father had decided to accept Kennedy’s offer saying: “my father decided that maybe he should accept (Kennedy’s) offer, given the state of the space programs of the two countries… He thought that if the Americans wanted to get our technology and create defenses against it they would do it anyway. Maybe we could get technology in the bargain that would be better for U.S. my father thought.”

Sergei also reported to Space Cast that like Kennedy, Khrushchev “was also planning to begin diverting weapons complex design bureaus into more consumer and commercial, non-military production.”

Sergei ended his interview saying: “I think if Kennedy had lived, we would be living in a completely different world.”

The Aftermath of Kennedy’s Murder

Kennedy’s murder on November 22, 1963 ended this potential and pulled humanity back into the iron grip of the Cold Warriors who sought to keep humanity’s creative potential locked under the heavy chains of nuclear terror, consumerist decadence (today called Globalization) and never-ending wars that wrecked havoc upon the next five decades.

Under this closed system paradigm, creativity’s power to change our carrying capacity through scientific and technological progress was all but banned as vast financial resources were redirected away from NASA (whose budget peaked in 1965 and was only strangled continuously thereafter) into the military industrial complex and the growing debacle in Vietnam. This war which both Kennedy and his brother had fought to stop went far in annihilating the spirit of optimism in the hearts of the young and old alike while CIA-sponsored drugs flooded the campuses of America ensuring the growth of a new ethic of escapism, anti-humanism, post-truth modernism and rejection of Judeo-Christian traditions that infused western society its moral vitality for 2000 years.

Vital investments into nuclear fusion R & D were slashed and educational reforms under control of British imperial operatives steering the OECD (like Sir Alexander King) ensured that engineering/physics and other “practical sciences” were replaced with sociology and humanities courses which would be more “relevant” in a post-industrial Brave New World.

Humanity’s Second Chance

Second chances of this magnitude do not come often, but sitting as we are once more upon the precipice of nuclear Armageddon (the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has set the Doomsday clock mere seconds to midnight), the choice of global annihilation or survival has again been put before U.S..

Today, the spirit of JFK’s vision has come alive through the leadership of Russia and China who together have re-activated bold space missions to revisit the Moon with the full backing of the powers of sovereign nation states. This has manifested in the form of the Russian-China joint program to co-develop lunar missions, which have included the European Space Agency’s participation in the upcoming Luna 25, 26 and 27 missions to the Moon scheduled to occur between now and 2025.

Roscosmos officials stated on August 27 that this program (which is open for the USA to participate in as an equal partner) “includes missions to study the Moon from orbit and surface, the collection and return of lunar soil to Earth, as well as in the future, the construction of a visited lunar base and full scale development of our satellite.” Roscosmos representatives went further to announce their plans to establish a permanent lunar base by 2030 with China following suite soon thereafter.

This orientation obviously dovetails the American Artemis Accords which president Trump and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine (a long time friend of Roscosmos’ Dimitry Rogozin) recently unveiled to promote international partnerships in lunar and mars development standing in stark contrast to the military industrial complex’s plans to militarize space.

The spirit of JFK’s space vision has certain come alive in new and exciting ways, but one question still remains unanswered: Does America have the ability to withstand the forces seeking to dissolve the republic and join this new open system paradigm or are those forces which killed JFK and sunk humanity into an age of war and closed-system thinking too powerful to stop?

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Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review. He can be reached at [email protected]

Featured image is from Pixabay

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